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Archive for July, 2017

A. Mack Moofing

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

John Deere Gear and Lukewarm Decaf

It’s raining, so that means I don’t have to install my dad’s pool pump today. Some people might claim it’s possible to install a pool pump on a rainy day, especially in a shed with a roof. Those people are clearly fools. I am goofing off on the Internet, digesting Egg McMuffins (or as they are called in Miami, “A. Mack Moofings”), and hoping the chicas at McDonald’s gave me decaf instead of the real thing.

I’m still very excited about being a near-tractor-owner. I’m even excited about working on them. My current shop is so jammed, working on anything large is like cleaning the Augean stables (Look how my classical education is paying off), but with the room I’ll have in Marion County, I’ll be able to walk around a tractor without stepping over anything.

My grandmother had a funny expression for small rooms. She said they were “too small to whip a kitten,” and by “whip,” I believe she meant “swing.” As in “too small to swing a cat.” I’m going to have cat-swinging room.

I probably won’t get to work on them a lot. They’re both in good condition, and they’re quality machines. I could always buy a $750 1965 Massey-Ferguson just to have a patient.

I’ve done what every responsible tractor owner does. I went online and ordered a John Deere T-shirt. I also looked at Kubota shirts. They only have a couple of designs that aren’t way too orange or full of heinous polyester. They need to fix that. John Deere has too many green shirts (I don’t wear green), but at least they have cotton.

Someone told me I was not allowed to wear a John Deere hat. Because the garden tractor is small, I’m limited to ball caps. I don’t care. I’ll tell people it’s a big tractor. I’m going to take a fuzzy photo of it, and I’ll hire a midget to sit in the seat to make it look bigger. Either that, or I’ll get the mother of my 3-year-old godson to let me put a fake beard on him.

I found one Kubota shirt that wasn’t too bad. It’s black, with “Kubota” written on the front in Japanese characters. At least it’s SUPPOSED to say “Kubota.” In reality, it may say “Sucker” or even just “Shirt.”

I need to find me a tractor umbrella. The last thing I want is to fry in the sun while running my machines. I wish there were some way to grow grass indoors. Actual grass, I mean.

Time to go look out the window and thank God for the rain.

Asteroid B-612 is Getting Crowded

Friday, July 28th, 2017

The Past Never Completely Dies

The day gets weirder and weirder.

God granted my tractor wishes, and then I realized I had to think about insurance. I didn’t know how to do it. Are tractors vehicles? Do you need vehicle insurance? I wondered. Based on my Googling, I decided they were probably items covered by homeowner’s insurance.

I already had a couple of quotes, but I decided to get some more. I tried to get online quotes, and I got the runaround. I finally called a company. I started talking to an agent.

We started talking about the fact that I was moving from Miami to northern Florida. Gradually, he let me know that he and his wife had lived here. His opinion of Miami was about like mine. He hated it. They left after Hurricane Andrew.

He talked about the horrible schools his wife had attended in Miami. Ghetto nightmares where white kids were not safe. He didn’t mention the racist violence; that’s all me. He said she went to Miami Edison for high school, and Horace Mann for junior high. Those are the wretched schools I would have had to attend, had my mother not battled my dad to get him to send me to private school.

He started talking about her elementary school. Sure enough, it was Miami Shores Elementary. My old school. I told him so. I said I probably went to school with his wife. He asked me what year I was born, and I told him. Same year as the wife. He told me her last name! “Elaina!”, I said. I didn’t know her well, but I knew who she was. Too funny.

The school had seven grades and a thousand students, so I pretty much had to know her. It comes out to around 140 students per grade.

When we got done with the call, I told him to tell his wife I congratulated her on surviving Edison, and I congratulated them both on escaping Miami.

It would be funny if I got insurance through him.

It was an interesting experience, but I was also a bit disturbed. I don’t like remembering the old days. I want to feel disconnected from them. I want them to not exist. Actually, moving to Marion County has its disturbing side, because the worst parts of my childhood took place in Tampa, which is more like Marion County than Miami. Tampa and Marion County smell similar. The plants are similar. Some of the home construction is similar. There were a lot of Marion County homes I refused to consider because they reminded me of those times.

It’s way better than Miami. No doubt about that. And I don’t think I’ll be running into anyone from my past there, except for one law school friend who lives in the area. She’s okay, though, and when I think of the darker times of my past, law school is not what I think of. I had a great time in law school.

Hey, here’s another small world item: Reince Priebus just got canned. A guy from my original college class was president for 8 miserable years, while another guy from that class (Stephanopoulos) covered him for NBC, and then a guy from my law school was chief of staff for the next president.

I wondered how Reince got the job. I don’t mean to pick on anyone, and I don’t really know him, but he seemed very unremarkable when we were in law school together. He was a mover and shaker in student government, but I always thought those people were silly. Student government, I thought, was for people who didn’t have the talent to make it without crass, aggressive self-promotion, and I thought it was undignified for adults to run for student offices. When he made it big, my impression was that he was in way over his head. It may be that I was right. In an office like chief of staff, you want a Rumsfeld or a Cheney. Someone sharp and strong. Reince always looked worried and unsure.

Time to unwind. I may go nuts and have an entire beer.

Next Purchase: a Spit Cup

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Tractors!

I’m a tractor owner! In fact, I own TWO tractors! I’m the happiest man alive. I feel like my wife just had twins.

I’m exaggerating. I don’t own tractors yet, but I have a deal in place. The seller of the house I’m moving to made me an insane offer on his tractors, plus a bush hog and golf cart, and I just found out he has been made aware of my acceptance. He’s going to get the papers ready.

“Why are you buying tractors if you don’t own the house?” Good question. Without boring you with details, there are good financial reasons for me to buy them instead of letting my dad do it.

This is incredible. In February, I was on my knees thanking God for the opportunity to move one county north and sit on 2 little acres. I’d have pretty much the same bad weather we have here, and the people would be about 30% as annoying. The traffic would be much more bearable, but it would not be as light as it is in northern Florida. Here it is July, and I’m on the verge of closing on a bigger property three hundred miles away. With tractors. Tractors, baby. Not riding mowers. Don’t tell me God isn’t good.

What next? Maybe a Sofia Vergara clone will descend from the sky and tell me she needs a good Christian husband to pray with.

Here’s a bad photo of the new babies.

When I get up there, I’m going to fire them up and ride them in circles. Just so I can say I’ve been out on my tractor all day.

The golf cart is not as cool as a tractor, but it’s still pretty neat. I guess I’ll wear it out. I’ll put a rifle rack on it and patrol the grounds. I would be tempted to put a Confederate flag on it, just to annoy snowflakes who might see it on Google Earth, except I gave up my stars and bars some years before it became mandatory.

Dang. Now I need tractor insurance. I didn’t think of that.

Okay, now I’m a tractor insurance expert. Apparently, you can cram tractors into your homeowner’s policy. Hope that information is correct.

It appears that my vehicle insurance will cost almost a third less up north. Won’t that be nice? Not as low as I had hoped. I guess just being in the same state with Miami has an effect. A Miami idiot might run into you while driving between Miami and New York.

Things are generally cheaper in northern Florida. Down here, you pay extra for the immense privilege of being in Miami. It’s like having a cover charge in hell.

In other news, I managed to fix the problems with my dad’s boat with very little effort. Thank God. With boats, you never know whether jobs will take five minutes or five hours. Here’s hoping no more bad things happen before we move.

If it weren’t so late, I’d go outside and install his new pool pump. I figure it’s a twenty-minute job, so I assume it will take three hours. Ever the optimist.

That’s all I got. But it’s enough.

Still Chewing Through the Straps

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Out of my Way, You Pillars of Salt

Today is a better day than most. I am waiting for a mechanic to give me a report on the farm machinery I intend to buy. For a hundred bucks, a trained diesel mechanic is looking at a farm tractor, a garden tractor, and a gas-powered golf cart for me. If God smiles on me, soon I will receive his report, and I will be cleared for takeoff.

It’s wonderful to know that when I move, I won’t have to begin my northern Florida experience with a month of tractor-shopping. Buying vehicles is like dating. It’s full of pitfalls and the potential for bitter regret. If I get the machines the mechanic is looking at, I’ll be covering all the bases at once, and I’ll be getting a very good price.

I still have a lot to do here. My dad has rental properties, and one is vacant right now. Yesterday I toured it with the realtor who looks after our properties. It was very depressing. The tenants were slobs, even by tenant standards. They painted the dining room walls a dark rust color, in semi-gloss instead of flat. They painted other areas a sickly baby blue, and of course, they got paint on the white popcorn ceiling. They destroyed the vertical blinds. They were told to patch all of their nail and screw holes when the left, so they jammed spackling compound into them, but they didn’t sand them.

Here’s one of their more impressive stunts: they drove a doorknob through a wall and left a patch you wouldn’t believe. Someone slammed the door and drove the doorstop through it, and after that, I guess they figured it was okay to use the wall as a doorstop.

I knew the place needed new kitchen cabinets, but now it looks like it will need to have the bathrooms done. A contractor had the gall to submit a $30,000+ estimate. Dude. It’s a rental. Granite is for people who take care of things. It’s not for tenants.

I would sell it right now, as is, but then I would have to think about capital gains tax. To avoid paying, I have to have a new rental property in mind, and I have to buy it within a few months. Tall order.

Never buy residential rentals. You have to be out of your mind to get into it. Residential tenants have the same respect for your property that convicts have for prisons. They expect homes to be perfect when they move in, and then they live like animals. Commercial tenants are completely different. They expect nothing except walls, and they don’t ask for much. More often than not, they make improvements which they leave behind. And you can evict them FAST. Try that with a home. Even a squatter who came in through a window can hold you off for months.

Here’s another fun item on my list. My dad’s pool pump died. Couldn’t it wait another year? Guess not. I had one delivered, and now I have to install it. In the hottest weather of the year. That will be a joy.

It gets better. The starboard battery bank on my dad’s boat is dead. Somehow, we discharged it so much it laughs at the battery charger. I have to try to charge it with the port engine, using jumper cables. Won’t that be fun? If I don’t get on it today or tomorrow, the boat could sink because the bilge pumps won’t run.

Guess I should make that my top priority. I’ve gotten used to the lovely emerald shade the pool has turned.

On the up side, the mechanic just called, and he thinks the machinery is worth twice what the seller is asking, so there’s some good news. There are a couple of hydraulic leaks, but they’re easy fixes, and the bush hog has a deck tear I should be able to weld up. Hooray for me.

Time to head for the boat, to erase all the good I did with my morning shower. Pray I get it running, and that I can resist the urge to scuttle it.

New Pets for New Home

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Guess I Should Also Think About Furniture

I feel like providing an update on the diesel front.

I finally got some details on the golf cart, tractor, and garden tractor the seller of my new home wants to sell me. The tractor has 1100 hours, and it has a small hydraulic leak the seller can’t find. The garden tractor has 783 hours (Yanmar diesel), and it has a small leak around the PTO shaft. The cart has 308 hours.

The seller says he adds fluid to the tractors after every fourth use.

I looked into hydraulic leaks, and it sounds like I’m not in much danger. When the mechanic looks the machines over, he should be able to tell if there’s a serious problem. Some hydraulic leaks are a big deal, and others are just annoying. The PTO leak on the John Deere sounds trivial. You can buy a new seal for $9.50. The people who sell the seal say it’s easy to install. Which is what you would expect them to say, I grant you.

I told the realtor (our messenger) I would be comfortable at $10K, but if the seller comes back and sticks at $11K, I’ll buy the machines anyway, because that was already a great price.

If what I’ve read is correct, 1100 hours is around 25% of the time a typical tractor will run before needing major work. Given that the tractor is around 17 years old, and assuming I work as much as the seller did, I should be fine for the next 51 years.

The garden tractor is supposedly immortal, except for the mower part, which is called a “deck.” Even that can be repaired, as long as the really big parts aren’t destroyed. I have read about people running them for upwards of 4000 hours. Also, I’m a machinist and welder. Surely I should be able to fix a few of the things that wear out.

According to the small amount of information I’ve been able to find, gas-powered golf carts are good for 5000 hours before they need to be totally redone or scrapped. I figure 308 hours is an acceptable total for a used machine. Even if it blows up, it’s a cheesy 350-cc motor which can’t cost much to fix or replace.

This is exciting. I’m going to have a tractor. Not thrilled at the prospect of mowing, I admit, but…tractor. You can do a lot with a tractor. It’s a tool. And I love buying tools.

The cart will need a radio. I can’t be out there touring the grounds with no tunes. Forget that.

I’m having a hard time finding a mechanic in Marion County who will go look at the machines. Angie’s List and Yelp don’t work all that well in the sticks.

I look forward to posting photos of my farm adventures.

Rise of the Machines

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

You Can’t Have too Many Diesels

Every day I start my prayers with two things. I ask God to do whatever can be done to bring him success in me and in everything I own, and I ask him to separate me from people and spirits that are against him and put me in his presence and the presence of his people. I want God himself to have success. I want him to have a return on his huge investment in me. If you look at the Bible, this is what he has been trying to get all along. He creates people and tells them exactly what to do in order to succeed, and we listen to loser spirits instead. God is a parent who wants his kids to take his helpful advice so he can make their lives work out, so I ask him to help me cooperate.

This is another way of asking him to put his kingdom and his righteousness first in my life. Jesus told us God would take care of our external needs if we put his desires first. It sure seems to work. I can give examples of the ways God is making my life easier.

I was concerned that my dad would not have enough ready cash to buy a house while managing his business. Looks like that’s not going to be an issue. One way and another, money shook loose. I doubt I’ll have to lend him a cent.

I was concerned that my dad might flip out when I started throwing out his awful furniture. He doesn’t even mention it. He walks into rooms where his stuff used to be, and he acts like nothing happened. That’s a good thing, because it’s stupid to move furniture which is worth absolutely nothing. The cost of the move is a total loss.

The seller of the property has some farm machinery I’ll need. He was talking to the realtor about selling it to me, but he took a long time to give me a price. Today, I got the number. It’s excellent. For $11K, he’ll sell me a Kubota tractor with loader, several implements including a bush hog, an E-Z-GO gas-powered cart with a dump bed, and a top-of-the-line John Deere diesel tractor/mower with a cart. That’s so low, I’m embarrassed to counter. I think a reasonable price would be more like $17K. As long as this stuff checks out, I should give him what he wants. He has done a ton of stuff to get the place into shape, free of charge.

This may not be the perfect machinery for my needs, but it will keep me going for a long time, and I’ll be able to get my money out of it if I upgrade.

I’ll need a nitrous system for that cart. I’ll just put that on my list.

I can’t get used to being blessed. It is a strange way of life. When I was living on a kibbutz, there was a death camp survivor who worked in the dining hall. Every time he ended a shift, someone had to go behind him and look for food he had hidden. He would take loaves of bread and hide them in various locations. He couldn’t help it. He had been starved in the past. I feel a little bit like that. So many things have gone wrong in my life; things that had every reason to go right. Now things seem to go right regardless of what I do. How can that be?

I’m getting insurance quotes for the property. They’re asking me whether we’ll have livestock. What kind of livestock? Will we be raising them for profit? Those are nice questions to get, when you’re used to little lots in suburbs.

Here’s my plan for the “farm”: I plan to raise nothing. If I need a couple of steers to cut the property tax, I’ll get them, but the land is for me, not for animals. I want to be able to walk outside without having my neighbors in my face.

In a very short time, we’ll close on the property, and then two weeks later, we get possession. After that, I don’t care what happens to me. Whatever life brings, I will go lie on my face in the grass and feel like the richest person alive.

More developments as they occur.

The New Definition of “Good Parenting”

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Actor Turns Son into Pedophile Bait

Christians who can’t tell when the tide is coming in are going to be drowned.

Yesterday I saw another sign of the incoming tide. Actor Liev Schreiber turned his son into pedophile bait, and people are praising him for it. One commenter’s fatuous response: “This is what good parenting looks like.”

There was a comic book convention. These events are always sexually pressurized. Female comic characters have gotten more provocative, and confused girls like to dress up to look like them. This is called “cosplay,” which means “costume play.” Schreiber’s son, who is 8 years old, decided to dress up as a slutty female character named Harley Quinn. He showed up with his dad in a blonde wig, lipstick, and sequined hot pants.

Homosexuals and liberals have gone nuts praising Schreiber, but the images of Schreiber and his son are so disgusting, even some on the left are upset. They’re not upset because the boy has been dressed like a woman. They’re upset because he has been dressed up like a tramp. So they have some limited understanding of the evil they are witnessing.

I am appalled by Schreiber’s lack of insight. Forget the issue of whether it’s right to confuse the sexes. Doesn’t he realize men all over the world are now using his son’s photos for sexual purposes? For a homosexual pedophile, the boy is a feast for the eyes.

My dad’s law partner had two sons. In 1995, the youngest one was kidnapped by a Cuban alien farmhand, raped, taken back to his parent’s house to be released, taken back to the farmhand’s trailer after the farmhand saw police cars, shot in the back as he tried to escape, cut in manageable pieces, and buried in concrete. I am not even a little amused by what Schreiber did to his son.

We live in an age in which perverts roam our malls and theme parks; a time in which taking your eyes off your son for thirty seconds may result in his rape and murder. What kind of father would allow sexually provocative photos of his son to be made public?

For a long time, God has been teaching me about the concept of fatherlessness. As a race, human beings are fatherless. We cut God off. We threw out his wisdom and knowledge, which are our success and protection. One generation is supposed to teach the next so every generation doesn’t have to start over with nothing. Satan and the spirits that are against us don’t die; they keep their knowledge. People who practice Satanic religions don’t lose their knowledge; they preserve it. Our forebears threw our accumulated treasure away, so now when a person wants to know about God, he ends up in the hands of a fool like Joel Osteen or Pope Francis. It’s as if he’s playing in the Super Bowl and his coach is Richard Simmons.

A father is supposed to teach and protect. He is supposed to be on your side against everyone else. If you don’t have a strong father who is for you, you will end up with a collection of false fathers who are against you, or who help you so badly they might as well be against you.

Schreiber’s boy is in trouble. The dark forces of the universe are aligned against him, and his father is helping them. Who is he supposed to turn to?

I am not a pedophile, so I can only guess, but after Schreiber’s ridiculous blunder, I would expect his son to become a prize for perverts. If they can’t get him, at least he’ll give them ideas on dressing up boys who look like him. Later this week, the dark web will probably fill up with erotic fiction dedicated to him.

If the world lasts another 20 years, take a look at Schreiber’s son and see what has become of him. I prayed for him today, but he has free will, and he is enveloped by evil. If he listens to dad, don’t be surprised if he turns out to be another Hollywood casualty.

Imagine an actor trying to pull something like this even ten years ago. We were a mess in 2007, but this would have been too much. Look how fast we’re sinking.

Those who hate us as well as our God are no longer hiding in the shadows. Fear is leaving them; when the lights go dim, the roaches come out. They know this is their world now.

In 2017, the shadows are for us, not them. Our hiding places are going to get smaller and smaller in the coming years. You’re going to need supernatural help to survive. You need to know how to pray and bless and curse effectively. If you don’t do anything to prepare, don’t say no one warned you. The Bible says God laughs at the calamities of those who don’t listen to him. He sat by and did nothing while the Babylonians castrated the princes of the Jews.

I hope Liev Schreiber has a big budget for security. He is waving meat at hungry dogs.

Sawdust in the Wind

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

All Particle Board is Vanity

Today is a day filled with potential, unlike the whole of my mostly-spent life.

Yesterday I made great progress with the impending move north. I got my dad new sheets. I threw out and gave away a lot of clothing. I got the mold out of my dad’s linen closet. Today I’m planning to throw out furniture.

At some point in the 1980’s, my dad bought some really terrible furniture. He and my mother were divorced, and he had a girlfriend. He bought art and furniture for his house, and he helped the girlfriend open an art gallery, which I never saw. In fact, I’m not sure what the woman’s name is. My mother was never allowed to spend on the kind of home she wanted, but my dad spent quite a bit during the girlfriend era.

My sister’s dog soaked a good deal of the furniture, so it (the furniture) vanished over two decades ago. I think my dad’s sawdust dressers and headboard, however, are vestiges of his spate of spending freely.

I hate sawdust furniture. You know the stuff I’m talking about. It’s made from sawdust and glue, molded into the shape of boards. It has very thin veneer (or plastic with phony wood grain) on the surface. Put a couple of drinks down on it, and the surface comes off.

Sawdust furniture is probably twice as heavy as wooden furniture. It’s weak. It has no real joints. Little crumbs of sawdust fall out of it. Terrible.

My feeling about furniture is that intelligent people buy real wooden stuff, used. It’s made much better than new furniture, and it either holds its value or appreciates. You might buy a desk for five hundred bucks and then sell it for a thousand ten years later, if you choose wisely. When you buy sawdust, you’re buying the Depends of furniture. Use it once and throw it away. If you manage to sell it at all, you’ll take a beating worse than the last two Ronda Rousey got.

My bedroom furniture isn’t too bad, so after we move, I’ll put it in my dad’s bedroom. I’ll get by with banker’s boxes until I find something suitable. My dad’s sawdust items have to go.

There is nothing like throwing out things you’ve hated for years. When you finally get the power of trash designation, it’s like growing wings. My dad has a piece of art his sister created. It’s a black frame containing a black figure on white paper. The figure is a stylized representation of a girl. It’s depressing to look at. Creepy. I yearn for the day I can discard it.

A long time ago, my dad financed a souvenir shop for my sister. Nothing much sold. My parents ended up with some terrible Bybee pottery. It’s primitive pottery from Kentucky. It’s so bad, it appears they don’t even know what a potter’s wheel is. I’m not sure, but I think they form vases and bowls by hand, which is ridiculous. It’s very lumpy and crude. You can tell they just slopped it together in order to make a buck. To Goodwill it will go, unless it has some “accidents” between the house and car.

I got some tips from a caregiver’s forum. Goodwill will accept textiles no matter what shape they’re in. They can sell the unwearable things for recycling. They provide blank receipts, so when you donate, let your conscience be your guide. I’ve thrown out a lot of things I thought were too damaged to donate. Now I know better, although I will probably continue throwing textiles out when it’s convenient.

I’m not sure what to do with cigar boxes and humidors. They can be useful, but they are paraphernalia taken from a sinful, demonic practice. If I have them in my house or garage, will they give spirits a footbold?

I guess the humidors should go. They’re nice boxes, but they’re made for a specific purpose. They’re lined with cedar, and they’re constructed for high humidity. If you don’t store cigars in them, they dry out, and they may deform or split. I spent $400 for the one I used. I don’t know how I’ll feel about dumping it. Is it moral to sell it or give it away? It’s a lot like giving away a bong. When Abraham left his dad, the idol-maker, I doubt he sold whatever idols he had.

I believe I’ll give the humidors away and keep the cigar boxes for shop items. If I feel bad about keeping them, they can be thrown out later.

I threw out my dad’s personalized envelopes. He had them made for his law practice. Now he doesn’t practice, and the address has changed. It was jarring, realizing how useless they had become. We paid his bar dues for the upcoming year, just to avoid making him feel bad, but he is finished with law.

That’s what’s happening today.

I’m astonished at the way God has changed my life. I have a great deal of energy now. I’m exercising regularly. I’m not as lazy as I was two months ago. I have more self-control. I accomplish more, in less time. In short, curses are being peeled off of me and replaced with blessings. This is what being blessed is like. Life is supposed to be this way. No, it’s supposed to be better than this. I’m just experiencing the beginnings of it. I’m a greenhorn.

If you focus on God’s kingdom, and you work at confessing and taking responsibility, things start to move. It’s too bad preachers don’t teach this, but almost all of them are ignorant, and many don’t care at all about other people. They just want your money, so they say whatever will move you to give it to them. Most of the people on Christian TV should be horsewhipped.

I never listen to preachers any more. I have no use for them at all. I plan to join a church up north, but I don’t plan to drink the Kool-Aid. I’ll sit in the back and smile, and if people say stupid things, instead of getting in their faces, I’ll say, “Maybe that’s right.” I want to be helpful, but I’m nobody’s horse. I’m not going to try to carry anyone on my back.

Now I’ll sign off and count the minutes until I can throw out that furniture. Pray for my success.

Human Pachinko

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

Disturbing Visit to IKEA

What an experience I had today. I shopped at IKEA for the very first time. It was the most dehumanizing shopping experience I have ever had.

Where do I start?

First of all, there is one cramped entrance to the huge parking garage (you have to use their garage), and in order to get in from the north, you have to make a U-turn. That’s stupid.

After that, you find yourself in a poorly marked garage which probably contains 8 acres of space. I parked on the ground floor, figuring that was where the store entrance was. Because most store owners want to make it EASY to get into their stores.

I walked up to the entrance, grabbing a cart along the way, and it turned out to be the entrance to a bank of three elevators and some escalators. The store was not on the ground floor. You’re supposed to get into an elevator…with your huge shopping cart. I am not making that up.

I got into an elevator and went up a floor. I got out. No store. Okay. I waited for another elevator. They don’t have big signs telling you where to go. You have to guess.

Went up another floor. Got out. Went to something that looked like an entrance. It turned out it was the entrance to some kind of indoor playground for kids. Who takes their kids to IKEA to play? Lunatics, I guess.

I stopped a salesperson. I said, “How do you get INTO this place?” She told me to get on the elevator and go up one more floor.

On the next floor, I found a store. I pushed my cart (with one wheel that kept trying to turn) into the entrance. I found myself confronted with one department of the store, from which there was no escape that didn’t involve going forward.

You won’t believe this unless you’ve seen it, but IKEA forces you to go through the entire store in order to get your product. It’s a one-dimensional store. It’s not like Target, where you can always move in one of two directions. It’s like being trapped in the intestines of a giant beast. You go in one end, and you visit every twist and turn until you come out the other. There are a few minor deviations, but that’s the story.

I went through the entire floor, held up by endless people who clogged the narrow aisles and barely moved, and when I got to the end, I had not seen sheets. That’s what I wanted to buy. I asked another salesperson, and she said I was on the wrong floor.

Seriously. They have enough room to put the whole store on one floor, but they used it to divide the parking garage into levels. Is that stupid, or am I?

The person who told me to go up one floor was wrong. Somewhere on the playground floor, there was a store which was somehow hidden.

I had been at IKEA for quite some time by then, but I was determined to get my sheets, so I persevered.

I got to the next floor, and I was once again confronted by the constricted concrete entrails of IKEA. Surely this is the most authoritarian store in America. I walked past aisle after aisle of Chinese garbage. After maybe ten minutes, I got to the sheet area. I found my sheets and hightailed it for the exit. Which I could not see. When you’re in the bowels of IKEA, you can’t see the checkout stations. It’s like a DVD you can’t fast-forward.

I got the one of the slow registers, and I asked the guy for a bag for my sheets. He offered me a “green bag” (which was blue) for a dollar. Are you kidding me? Do I need a reusable bag cluttering up my house when I’m trying to move? I turned it down. I made the smart move. I thought.

Got out of the checkout line, and I found myself in an non-air-conditioned room (in Miami in July) with three big elevators and maybe fifty people with carts trying to jam themselves in. I could not believe it. I had four sets of sheets and two sets of pillowcases, and I knew I couldn’t carry them on the escalator. Now I knew what the bag was for. It was a fee for avoiding the elevators.

Miraculously, I made it into an elevator during the first tide, and I got off at P1, which, I figured was the first floor of the parking garage. I looked around for my car, and then I noticed there were tree tops visible over the low walls of the garage. I was not on the ground floor. I guess in Sweden, they number floors downward, starting on random levels.

Back to the elevator bank, which took forever.

Finally got out on the correct floor. Couldn’t find my car. Okay, that was my fault. But by this point, more frustration was the last thing I needed.

Back to the elevator bank. Found the car. Drove home.

I have never had a store make me feel more insulted or unimportant, not to mention claustrophobic. You can’t walk where you want. You can’t have a bag. You’re trapped like an ant in an ant farm. And what about fire codes? If that place burns, everyone in it will die, because you can’t see the exits. You could be a hundred feet from an exit and have to make three turns to find it.

What a disgusting store. I will never go back. If I like the sheets, next time, I’ll order them online.

The merchandise is horrible. I’m sure some of it is fine, but I saw display after display of aggressively inoffensive disposable sawdust and melamine furniture. Who buys this crap? You have to be out of your mind. You spend hundreds of dollars buying a sawdust living room, and then a month later, it has a street value of $75. No one wants used sawdust furniture.

Imagine how cluttered our landfills must be, with all the sawdust and melamine furniture we buy. And the funny part about that is that IKEA preys on the weak-minded by claiming to be green and friendly and gay. How can disposable furniture be green? How can furniture made in dirty backward countries that have a license to kill under the Paris Climate Accord be green?

I felt like a character in a dystopian film like Soylent Green or Logan’s Run. I feel icky inside, thinking about it. My visit made me think of Holocaust victims being herded and sorted on arriving at a death camp. I’m not trying to be funny, either. That’s exactly what I thought of.

I hope the sheets work out, but I will never set foot in that store again, even if I can find the way in.

King Tut Meets Al Capone

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

Archaeology Begins at Home

There is nothing like a relaxing Saturday. I’m blowing off steam by cleaning my dad’s bathroom, bedroom, and closets. Resorts should offer activities like this.

Perhaps I jest.

If you have an older relative who is starting to tune out, you are in for interesting times when you have to go in and deal with his or her mess. I am finding things that blow my mind.

I would guess that my dad has 30 pairs of shorts, dating back 35 years. How many are worth keeping? Realistically, maybe seven. Some are too small. Some are worn out. Some are just too short; they gave my mom fits. Some are white.

You don’t want your older relatives trailing along behind you in public places, on sunny days, wearing white. Things show through.

Years ago, he had to have his roof fixed over his hall closet. There was a hellacious leak. Yesterday I was throwing things out, and I found mold on the wall and ceiling. Nice. The ceiling was done, but the mold was not removed. Today I had to clean it out with bleach. Along the way, I found his c. 1982 racquetball racquet plus a Homedics foot spa and maybe twenty pounds of pennies. Grist for the Salvation Army mill.

One nice thing about having absolutely no help is that my word is now law. I have decided which items of clothing he likes. The rest go to the trash or charity. My mother would have killed for this power. I wish she could be here to see me throw out the sheets she bought before she died in 1997. She would stand up and cheer.

I don’t think anyone wants detailed information about his bathroom, but I can say that I threw out maybe two hundred tourist-size hotel soaps and shampoos. He is one of those people who clean out hotel bathrooms every day of their stays. I’ve never understood that. A big bottle of Suave shampoo is three bucks at the drugstore, and it will last six months. Soap runs maybe ten dollars a year, if you’re a heterosexual. I think it’s unethical to take things from hotels just because you can. It’s like scooping packets of Splenda into your pockets at Denny’s. If it was really free, they’d put it out front in an open box.

He will need sheets, so I searched for a good deal. I am disgusted by today’s snowflake sheets with thread counts that require scientific notation. I have expensive dress shirts with a thread count under 200, but you can buy sheets that go up to at least 1800 per inch. Ridiculous. If you’re such a sissy you can’t deal with 200 threads per inch, you should go live in a bubble. I’m no textile engineer, but common sense tells me that the thinner the threads are, the thinner the sheet will be, and the sooner it will wear out. Nobody makes a 300-TC work shirt. Why would you pay more for something that doesn’t last as long?

Maybe I’m wrong. The deep mysteries of sheet making are closed to me.

I finally found good old white sheets at a great price. It’s harder than you think. Guess who sells them. Guess. I’ll tell you. IKEA. You can get queen sheet sets for $25. If you don’t know what a deal that is, look around. Decent sheets from good manufacturers start at around $120. I blame Norma Rae.

The IKEA thread count is 140 per inch. Now that’s a sheet. It ought to last forever. And I’m getting white. The only color a man should have. It matches everything, and you can bleach it. SOLD!

I might go totally nuts and go for the $40 set, with 300 threads per inch, but I am pretty excited about 140. People got by with worse for centuries, and they didn’t mind at all.

Here’s a neat feature IKEA sheets have: the ends tuck in. American pillowcases are open at one end, so if you use slippery bug-proof pillow protectors (also spill-proof), the pillows slowly slide out of the cases while you sleep. European pillowcases keep the pillows where they should be.

I use bug-proof pillow protectors to keep mites out. Over time, they slowly ruin pillows by filling them with allergens. I even covered my mattress with a bug bag.

Sheets are complicated these days. Mattresses used to be maybe 8 inches thick, but now some go 18. For that, you need “deep pocket” sheets. You also need deep pockets to get 1800-TC sheets, but I digress. Deep pocket sheets fit big mattresses, but they’re loose on normal mattresses, so you have to buy sheet straps to hold them on. Annoying.

I found out Coral Gables lets you put one big item of furniture in the trash per week. I think I wrote about that already. I put my dad’s cardboard office credenza out last week. This week, he will forfeit the mattress from his middle-aged convertible couch. Next week, maybe, the couch itself. By spacing it out, I make the couch easier to carry. I am thinking I should keep the cushions to pad things when I move. I’m sure I’ll have to move a lot of things personally.

I’m all rested now. Writing this entry served its purpose. I’m off to IKEA, where I hope they will let me shop even though I’m not gay.

Onward and upward, or at least northward.

I Have no Reservations

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Unless Motel Reservations Count

I am now so close to the closing on the new house, I have had to make a motel reservation. I won’t say the name of the motel, but I wish I could, because I would recommend all of you stay there when traveling in Florida. It’s the cleanest, most well-kept motel in the universe, as far as I know. It doesn’t have rugs! Hardwood (or convincing fake hardwood) all the way. Kiss your allergies goodbye in this place.

The pillows are so nice, I meant to remove the case on one and check the brand. How often can you say that about a motel? And the rooms run about $65 per night.

I still do not have my books packed. I was busy all day with my dad’s affairs, and I will be busy most or all of tomorrow.

I learned something that may be of use to you, if you care for someone who is slipping. You can make them pay you.

Heartless! Right? Well, not really. You may be dealing with someone who needs to have his or her assets reduced for various reasons. Estate tax is one reason. Medicaid eligibility is another. I have been advised to start charging my dad. I don’t know if I like that. I don’t want him telling me the customer is always right.

Here’s something weird. I have a list of people I pray for every day. I’m on the list. I keep praying God will help us not to be borrowers and beggars. I ask him to make us givers and lenders. It looks like he’s listening, because there’s a good chance I may have to lend my dad money so he can buy the new house. How about that! We have a ton of things going on right now, and cash is tied up in this and that, so it may be smarter for him to borrow from me than to spend his own cash.

I should foreclose on him, just to needle him.

Anyway, I thought it was remarkable.

Once your parents hit a certain age, you have to be careful about giving them things and paying for things. Everything they have has the potential to cause aggravation when they die. Besides, your worthless relations are likely to try to take everything you gave your parents.

When my dad’s mother died, my aunts and uncles literally pulled a U-Haul up to her apartment and cleaned it out. I got a crystal angel my dad gave her, and my sister got a porcelain horse.

I’ve learned a whole lot about taxes and estates and so on. You have to have a will, you have to have a power of attorney, you should have a living will, and then on top of all that, you have to think about avoiding probate. A will may not be enough, if you have a sleazoid relative who feels like suing. You may want to have real estate put into a trust so it goes from mom or dad straight to you, just like a joint bank account. My dad’s desire is to give me the house he’s buying. It would be a bummer if he passed away and I got thrown out after caring for him there in his declining years.

Here’s something ridiculous: in the state of Florida, you have to protect your parents’ wills personally. You have to preserve an original will if you want to get anything, and you can’t record it at the courthouse like a power of attorney or a deed.

What if your dad is worth a billion dollars? You could end up a situation where all you have to secure that money is four sheets of flammable paper. But a copy of the will is admissible, right? Yes. If you can find a disinterested witness who can confirm its contents. So you have to find a reliable person, show him the original will, make him learn it, and then hope he outlives your parents.

The answer, of course, is to put the will in a safe deposit box and hope the bank doesn’t burn down. But what if you have to change banks? Every time you get in the car with the will, you risk a very expensive accident.

I’m no estate attorney, but it seems like a smart person would keep copies of the will and have his best friends look at the original, just in case.

I’m not obsessing on my dad’s passing. He’s doing fine. But dealing with his assets and helping him buy a house and sell other properties has brought financial matters to the forefront of my attention. Joining a caregiver’s forum accentuated them even more. There are horror stories out there.

My grandfather died with a very bad will, and it screwed up the whole family. There are hard feelings. Some relatives have behaved badly. Belongings that should have gone to other people magically turned up in their homes. My aunt sued my cousins over an insurance policy. It may seem crass to get into the particulars of estate planning, but if you don’t, a loved one’s death may be the match that burns the family down.

I rarely hear from my relatives. They have holiday dinners without my dad and me. No invitations. I can understand why my sister isn’t invited. It would be like dumping a bag of angry snakes on everyone. But I haven’t done anyone wrong.

Too bad. I miss them. I miss Kentucky. But I can’t unburn what poor planning burned.

Soon I will be living in a place where people hang American flags on their houses and end emails with “Have a Blessed Day.” I will be able to shoot rifles from my front porch. I will be five minutes from Cracker Barrel. I’ll have a yard big enough to require a motor vehicle to tour it. Whatever struggles I have to go through in the next month or two will be well worth it. I’ll get us moved. I’ll get the financial stuff in order. Tiny price to pay.

I look forward to sharing photos of my first northern-Florida front yard pistol targets. Stay tuned.

I Heard You Roar

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

“Her voice was ever soft, gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman.”

The good news keeps coming. It’s amazing how God gives you relief when you start thinking about his priorities and trying to tell the truth about yourself.

As people who read the blog know, my dad is buying a large property in northern Florida, and I will be the major domo. He will be Robin Masters, and I will be Higgins. With better shorts.


“Remove yourself from Mr. Masters’ lawn or I shall release the lads.”

Yesterday I was talking to the realtor about a survey, and the realtor pointed something out. The northern boundary of the land–the second-longest boundary–is bordered by an 85-foot-wide strip that runs its entire length. The strip is wooded, and it is made up of two parts, each of which belongs to a different neighbor. It was intended to be two driveways, to provide access to their land. Bonus for me: they decided not to build driveways. There was no reason to. There is already a public road that reaches their land, and they don’t have to pay to maintain it.

This means I have an 85-foot-thick barrier of woods between me and my neighbor to the north, and it will remain wooded for the foreseeable future. Another possibility: I could buy the strips eventually and keep people off for good. No one will ever want them except me and my neighbor to the north.

This is the biggest blessing I could have hoped for, short of a spray that makes neighbors evaporate.

Of course, my neighbors are probably great. I have a bad attitude toward neighbors because I’ve lived in Miami, listening to Celia Cruz through my windows at 1 a.m. and having neighbors’ party guests park all over my yard without asking.

There is also very bad news. I am still listening to continuing legal education materials. Right now, it’s a discussion of the process of altering the Florida constitution. It’s a bunch of men and one woman. The men are okay, but the woman screeches like Gloria Allred sitting on a red-hot spoon. You can probably hear her as I type this. Somewhere in the feminist manifesto, it says men won’t respect you unless your voice sounds like a subway train hitting the brakes. She who talks loudest is respected most.

Life doesn’t actually work that way, but the notion obviously sells.

How low can I turn this down without secret snooping bar software squealing on me? My God. This woman has to be single.

Please shut up. Let someone else talk. Please, lady. I’ll stop manspreading. Whatever it takes.

When I turn her down to the point where I’m not in agony, I can’t hear the men.

“YARP YARP YARP YARP LEGAL LANDSCAPE YARP FACEBOOK YARP YARP YARP ESTROGEN.”

Did Beethoven really go deaf, or did he jam conductor’s batons through his eardrums so he could finally concentrate on his work? Was he married? I don’t even know.

“YARP YARP YARP YARP I’LL GET YOU MY PRETTY.”

I’m going to tough it out. This video is “only” 2.5 hours long, and you get 3 general credits and 1 ethics credit. Ethics credits are the hardest to find. It’s a shame you can’t steal them.

I’m going to pause it after I’m halfway through. I have limits.

I’m still not done packing my books. I’m up to 29 boxes. I couldn’t pack them all. I have to have something to read until the move. I figure I’ll hold 50 books back. Once I’m done with the books, things should speed up, because instead of doing an item-by-item inventory, I can just dump things in boxes and apply labels like “KITCHEN.”

Anyhow, things are going pretty smoothly, given that I have no help whatsoever. I cannot wait to kiss this place goodbye, and by “kiss,” I mean “spit on the ground while shaking my fists.”

Back to CLE. Surely things will get better. Surely they tased this lady at some point.

Have a great day.

More

This is funny. I texted another lawyer.

Me: Found a bunch of free CLE. Almost as wonderful as free enemas.

Her: I think I’d prefer the enemas.

Me: I checked. The bar won’t give credit for enemas.

Her: That’s bc those are useful tools.

Then later:

Me: Enemas are brief.

Her: And more productive.

Everyone hates CLE.

I’ll Facebook You Those Files in the Morning

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Slimy Car Dealers and Continuing Legal Education

What a busy day I’ve had.

The first fire I had to put out involved a car dealer. My dad has a 15-year-old luxury car which is now worth maybe $700, and a dealer tried to con him into paying $480 for written estimates on three trivial repairs.

Somehow, my dad got his hands on a junk mailing saying the dealer offered full inspections with written estimates for 99 cents. He dropped his car at the dealership and told me about it later. I was not pleased.

When the dealer called him, guess who they got to talk to? Me. I didn’t know about the 99-cent offer. I thought he had gone down there on a whim, and that he was now obligated to pay them something. The salesman (“service writer”) started telling me it would cost $160 each to diagnose the car’s issues. I explained my dad’s problems, and I got him down to a single $160 charge, which seemed to be an acceptable loss, given that this was all my dad’s idea.

Eventually, my dad showed me the junk mailing. That changed things.

I spent a good part of the morning on the phone with the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Consumer Services, and I had them send me a complaint form. A government analyst confirmed that the State of Florida did not approve of the bait and switch gimmick. I had a solid complaint.

When I was done preparing, I called the dealership and asked for the service manager, and of course, they gave me voicemail. I informed them that I was an attorney and that I was not very pleased with their business methods. I gave them my contact info and hung up. They never called back.

I got out my dad’s checkbook and wrote the dealership a check for 99 cents, and I added a disclaimer to it, saying the dealership released my dad from all claims. Then we drove to the dealership, and I gave them the check and told them to produce the car.

They could not have been more deferential. I would call their demeanor “mournful.” They remembered my call, even though they hadn’t had the decency to return it. We had to sit and wait while they put the car together, and then we left.

I was angry, but mostly, I felt tired. I was tired of the human race. As far as I know, every car dealer on earth is scum. I have never known one that wasn’t. It’s very draining, having people disappoint you over and over. I thought of God, and I wondered what it must be like for him. The flood makes perfect sense to me. I hate to say it, but there will be a great sense of relief the next time God wipes out the human race. It will be as if the earth had a flea dip.

After that I dealt with irrigation problems at his house, and then I started packing books and listening to continuing legal education (CLE) materials. Packing boxes is boring, but I can honestly say it’s so much less boring than CLE, it actually made the CLE go faster.

CLE is horrible. Lawyers who want good-do-bee points from the Bar assemble panels of ambitious self-promoters, and they talk for an hour about things that are nearly as interesting as watching ice freeze. They invariably start with fifteen minutes of introductions. “Here is Bob Shmerz, who has been on the Board of Governors since 15 B.C. and got a perfect attendance award in the fifth grade. Bob is an expert in an unchallenging and tedious field of law no one else can stand, and he was student body president at the Eastern Guatemala University School of Law. He has been appointed to various boards and commissions no one cares about due to affirmative action, and he thinks the people he knows on LinkedIn are his friends.”

I think the idea is that you waste a few hours of your life teaching CLE, which no ethical lawyer would ever rely on, and in the process, you advertise yourself to other lawyers who, not knowing any better, might give you referrals when they get cases they don’t understand.

The farther we get into the computer age, the more obvious it is that lawyers are technical australopithecines. People go into law because they stink at math and science. If they were capable of understanding things like HTML and metadata, they would be doctors. A large amount of CLE is dedicated to helping lawyers find the answers to hard questions like, “What’s the difference between Facebook and email?”

It’s very disheartening. And I don’t need it. I may be old, but I know what a blog is, I understand cloud computing, and I am not stupid enough to give people legal advice on Twitter. I am light years ahead of the simple attorneys who need help with this stuff.

I think the technological ineptitude of lawyers may explain why our rights are disappearing. Lawyers are probably too stupid to understand that cell phones, the Internet, and our Orwellian system of data collection have destroyed the Fourth Amendment. They still say these things “may pose a threat in the future” or “could eventually alter the legal landscape.” They don’t have any idea that the ship has already sunk.

By the way, you have to say “legal landscape” at least ten times when you give a CLE talk. It’s mandatory.

Here’s the great thing about CLE: it’s free. You can pay hundreds of dollars and get CLE which is more entertaining, but it will still be a career-threatening substitute for actual research. CLE is like porn: no one who knows anything pays for it these days. Might as well save your money and look at free stuff online. Another good thing: no exams. Why? Because the bar knows CLE is a joke. They don’t expect you to learn it. You can go to a CLE lecture and openly work on cases on your laptop while the speaker talks. I think knitting might get you in trouble, but then again, maybe it wouldn’t. The guy up front only cares about your money and the publicity he’s getting, the people around you are only thinking about the minute they can leave, and there is no bar official present to check and see if you’re paying attention.

Real CLE is something you do at your computer or in a law library. If you don’t do fresh research for every case, you’re a disgrace, and you’re probably going to get sued, suspended, or disbarred eventually. CLE is just a show the bar puts on for the public. At least that’s my guess.

That being said, I have seen lawyers handle cases without doing adequate research. “Hip shooters” is the phrase I have heard. They tend to end up shooting themselves. People like that deserve whatever happens to them.

I suppose I’m being too critical, because I resent having to listen to this mess. I can see how a CLE lecture could be helpful in helping you identify things you need to study. But the lectures themselves…totally inadequate.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve never known a lawyer who defended CLE, and I have known many who ridiculed it.

I don’t practice. Who cares. I’ll get it over with, and I’ll get my boxes packed. I can feel good about this: at least I listen to it. Some lawyers just buy tapes and throw them out. My old boss used to play CLE tapes in the office. MY office. While he worked in his.

Apart from the CLE and the time I spent at the car dealership, it has been a great day. One step closer to living in not-Miami. Things are falling into place. The seller is working hard to fix little problems with the house (doing more than we asked), and now it’s just a matter of getting a survey, closing the deal, and leaving Miami for good.

Now, in addition to my many other accomplishments, I have blogged. Time to put my feet up and watch Youtube.

Where is Mr. Haney When You Need Him?

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Tractor Dilemma

I am still trying to figure out what to do about farm machinery.

As I wrote earlier, the seller of the house I’m moving to wants to sell me his Kubota L3710 tractor and some other stuff. In order to avoid getting hosed, I’ve been studying the Internet to find out what I should do.

Today it occurred to me I might be able to get a bigger machine for less money. My lathe weighs about 4000 pounds, and the Kubota can only lift 1500. I’m not sure what my mill weighs. It would be nice to be able to move these tools myself, without using pry bars for the whole job. A bigger tractor would lift more.

To get a bigger machine, I would have to pick up something older. Is that a smart idea? I don’t know. My grandfather’s old Massey-Fergusons were abused and left outdoors, but they always did what he wanted, and a lot of people on the web say they’ve spend under $5,000 for good machines.

While I was looking into all this, I decided to get people’s opinions on old machinery brands like Ford, Massey-Ferguson, International Harvester, and so on. I learned something very interesting: there are no American tractors now.

That’s not quite true. If you buy a giant machine for tending 10,000 acres of wheat, it may be American. That’s not what I want. I need a typical farm tractor. Those aren’t made here any more.

John Deere sells Japanese tractors, and it’s my understanding that a lot of their stuff is Mexican. Massey-Ferguson sells Indian machinery. Indian! The scariest country of product origin in the machine tool world. The Indians still make line-shaft lathes because their electrical grid is so primitive.

If what I’ve read is right, the American tractor has been dead for a long time. Maybe thirty years. Where was I? Not buying tractors, I guess.

There go my concerns about not buying American. Unless I go antique-shopping, American isn’t an option.

The more I think about it, the more I think I should buy the seller’s tractor, IF I get a good price. If I know I can get my money out of it, no harm done. I can upgrade or downgrade later. If he wants too much, forget it. I won’t need a tractor for weeks after I move, so I don’t have to rush.

Someone on a forum wrote a great tip for buyers: check the reputation of the local dealer when you buy a used tractor, because this is the outfit you will depend on for help. I checked the reputation of the Kubota dealer in Ocala, and I did not find any good news. One buyer who has a Yelp account said the seller refuses to send people out to look at machines, so I suppose you would have to pay to have your broken tractor towed. The buyer said the dealer’s people were irresponsible, extremely slow, and dishonest, more or less.

The dealer responded. You would think they would have begged forgiveness and done their best to fix the problems, or that they would have at least argued. No, they posted what looked like a cut and paste from the boilerplate on their website. “XXX Tractors is dedicated to providing customers with the best possible service and the lowest prices anywhere, with a highly trained staff and a spacious, modern repair facility.” Something of that sort. No denials.

The message I got was, “Maybe this guy is right about us. We don’t give a crap.”

Maybe it’s the greatest tractor dealership on earth, but I have no way of knowing that, based on what I’ve seen so far. And here I am, thinking of buying a tractor they probably sold.

I shouldn’t criticize India without saying people seem to love their tractors. Mahindra tractors get fine reviews. The Koreans are also in the game now. There is a Korean brand named Kioti, and people like it.

I feel like I should try to buy the seller’s machines, and if the price is bad, I should tell him I’m not interested. Good enough.

It would be neat to have an old Ford or something, for a few grand. It would be a hassle, though. Right now I have a tractor in a convenient location where I can look at it and maybe send a mechanic. If I Craigslist an antique, I’ll probably be expected to do business beside a tractor in someone’s side yard, without much opportunity to check it out.

This reminds me of buying my machine tools. Today, I would not hesitate to check out an old mill or lathe. I know what goes wrong with them. Before I had machine tools, I didn’t have that kind of confidence. I couldn’t tell whether the machines were any good or not. Once I’ve used a tractor for a while, I’ll know what to look for when I buy a used tractor. But I’ll have to buy a used tractor in order to get that knowledge.

That’s some catch, that Catch-22.

The answer, of course, is to buy more tools. The more tools I have, the less I will need creepy tractor dealers. And the more tools I have, the more tools I have.

In a completely irrelevant vein, I talked to the realtor today. He talked to the seller and confirmed: I WILL BE ABLE TO SHOOT ON MY PROPERTY! The seller does it all the time. This has to be a dream.

On top of that, I just showed the Miami house I’m trying to sell to a young couple with affluent parents. The couple came alone yesterday, and today the parents came with them. In a Maserati. In expensive clothes. With questions about expanding the house. Could they borrow the plans? Of course they could. Maybe these people are serious. Finally, someone with money.

I don’t know if I can stand any more good news.

More updates as they unfold.

All the Other Kings Said it was Daft to Build a Castle in a Swamp

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

Tractor!

The house in northern Florida came through inspection okay. There are a couple of water-intrusion spots that have to be looked at, but all the other problems are BS. Example: leaky sprinkler heads. These things cost seven dollars each and can be installed without tools. I am relieved. The house is only 17 years old, and it was not built by Miami Home-Depot-Parking-Lot commandos, so I had every reason to expect it to be sound. I’m glad to know I was right.

In other news, the seller wants me to buy his tractor. He has a Kubota L3710 with a front end loader. It might be a good idea. I need one anyway, and based on the way this guy maintained the house, the tractor is probably two wipes of a rag short of tractor-show-ready. Kubota is Japanese, and they have a good reputation. The Japanese make tractors for John Deere. I’m going to try to get up to speed on prices.

Diesel tractors are not quite like cars. Like other diesel products, tractors have lifespans measured in engine hours. I have been trying to find out how many hours I should be willing to accept. People say all sorts of stupid things on the web “At 100,000 hours, International Harvesters are just getting broken in!”), so it was hard to get a good answer, but it looks like you should expect a major overhaul at 4000 hours, so I figure 2000 is a reasonable cap.

Why do I need a tractor? Because I am an idiot. Along with my dad, I chose a pretty big property. Dozens of acres. I like to think I’ll be able to sit back and do nothing, but I know there will be times when I’ll have to cut the weeds or move fallen trees or pull stumps. Things will need to be lifted. Dirt will have to be moved. When jobs like that come up, you can pay other people to do them and look like a sissy, or you can get on your tractor with your Yeti cup and get ‘er done.

The tractor has a front end loader and a bush hog. The front end loader would be fun for playing Truckasaurus on slow days. Unfortunately, it will not lift my milling machine or lathe, but I could move “little” stuff like my band saw, compressor, drill press, and table saw.

Do I want a bush hog? Maybe, but I am tempted to get a couple of goats instead. A bush hog won’t eat poison ivy while you sit in your cool bonus room watching reruns of Breaking Bad.

The seller also wants to get rid of a John Deere lawn tractor, which sounds fine, but it’s 20 years old. I didn’t know a lawn tractor could survive that long. Big diesel tractors can be rebuilt over and over. Little diesel lawn tractors…I dunno. And the stinging implication of a lawn tractor purchase is that I would be mowing the lawn.

Maybe there is still time to back out and get a condo.

The final offering: an E-Z-GO ST-350 gas-powered golf cart. This is the tool the seller used to entice us to buy the place. He had the realtor turn us loose on it, and we toured the property. His ploy worked, but the cart is not my cup of tea. It barely moves. I want to feel a little breeze when I drive. I’m pretty sure I can outrun the E-Z-GO.

The “350” in the model number refers to the size of the engine, in cc’s. Here, we see the problem. My Moto Guzzi motorcycle has 1064 cc’s and weighs a third as much. This is why it does 70 in second gear.

I hate to turn down anything that makes the place turn-key, but that cart is not going to get it. Not the way it is. Maybe it needs some work? I do not know. There’s always nitrous.

While I ponder my machinery options, I am busy throwing out and giving away bad furniture. There are some things I know the Salvation Army will not accept, so I don’t try. It would be insulting. When you give them something really nasty, you’re essentially asking them to be your unpaid garbage men. Today I broke up my dad’s office credenza. I didn’t just put it outside. I took off the doors and broke the drawers. I don’t want him to think there is any possibility that it can be saved.

My dad got his office furniture about 25 years ago. My grandfather had a car dealership, and the manager, who had been fired, got GM to terminate it. The property was then leased to a Western Auto, and they went Tango Uniform, leaving their junk behind. My dad scooped up their cardboard (okay, particle board) furniture, which had stickers with lot numbers on it, indicating it had already been sold at auction once. My dad was at least the third owner of these atrocities. No way was I paying to move this crap 300 miles.

I worked for a patent attorney who grossed 850K per year (1999 dollars) from a crappy desk. You don’t have to have great furniture to run a business. But paying maybe $300 to move junk? No. That’s not smart. They have junk where we’re going. We can pick up someone else’s trash and save money on shipping. Not that this is my plan.

If you have a parent who holds onto useless junk, you will understand how thrilling it was to see that credenza sitting by the road with no drawers. Bliss.

Time to relax and gather my energy for another day. Hope your weekend is as rewarding as mine.