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I Don’t Accept Cookies

July 14th, 2016

Buckets of Pure Cocaine Would be Safer

The weight-maintenance-cookie plan was a disaster of Hindenburgian completeness. I have firmly concluded that it is not possible to adjust my calorie intake using cookies made from my own recipe.

I was doing just fine using Oreos. I ate three or four a day, just to take the edge off and restore my mental functions. I figured there was no reason better cookies wouldn’t do the same thing, cheaper and more enjoyably.

The batch of cookies I made from scratch is completely gone. It vanished in two days. I could not stay away from them. They taunted me They jeered at me. And now they are no more.

Lesson learned. Night before last I picked up a new bag of Oreos, and yesterday I put them to use. I went through a grand total of three. Oreos just don’t have the temptation punch my own cookies have.

The oatmeal cookies I made were stupendous, but now I can’t have them. One more recipe I can’t use. Dang it.

I wonder if I could come up with a recipe for mediocre cookies. Probably not. It seems like anything that comes out of a home oven beats anything that comes from a plastic bag.

Oreos have gone nuts. Things got weird thirty or forty years ago when they came out with “Double Stuf” Oreos. Someone at Nabisco realized fat people were only buying the cookies for the filling. Now they have “Mega Stuf.” Next they’ll have “Pure Stuf” or “Gallon Can o’ Stuf.”

They have birthday-cake-flavored Oreos now. Wonder what that’s like. Do they come pre-sprayed with spit, to simulate the blowing out of candles?

American consumers are not hard to please. The buying habits of chubby ladies prove this.

When I was a kid, Nestle started selling raw cookie dough so incredibly lazy people could use it to make cookies. At some point we all accepted reality: fat girls were buying it to eat out of the tube. Now you can buy ice cream and protein bars made to taste like raw cookie dough.

Prefab cookie dough is very popular, but the thing is, it’s not good. I don’t know what Nestle puts in their dough to serve as shortening, but I’m confident it’s not butter. The dough tastes sort of like toothpaste with sugar in it. People love it anyway.

My cookie experience shows how things really are: the supermarket junk we think is good is actually pretty lame. We like it because we’re lazy. The British have a saying: “Hunger is the best sauce.” I would say laziness is second best. When you get off your rear end and make real cookies, or even cookie dough, you understand the depth of the compromises you’ve made in the past.

God has given me more strength to turn food down, but there are some things I still have to stay away from. I can’t keep bags of fun size Snickers in the freezer. I can’t keep miniature Reese’s cups on the coffee table. And I can’t keep homemade cookies anywhere near me.

I feel like he’s helping me get off caffeine again. A long time ago he showed me that caffeine destroys peace. I quit drinking it. But when I had to take over my dad’s business affairs, I jumped off the wagon. The boredom of using Quickbooks and straightening up chaotic files was more than my mortal frame could stand. Now things are more orderly, and I have to give up the crutch. I do not want to spend the rest of my life feeling peppy and cheerful until noon and then crabby and crotchety for the rest of the day. I don’t want to have to take Benadryl to get to sleep.

God changes peoples habits, and it seems like he really hits hard in the beverage department. You find yourself cutting way back on alcohol. Sugary sodas turn into occasional treats. Fruit juices are just sugary soda without the gas, so they’re not the answer. That leaves coffee and tea, right? Wrong. Caffeine.

Today I’m going to get a bag of decaffeinated coffee beans. I can’t drink room temperature bottled water at breakfast every day. I am not ready for that.

I’m still fooling with the CNC mini-lathe. I got it to function with Mach3, the most popular home CNC machine-running program. I haven’t been able to get it to work with KMotionCNC, the nerdier, learning-curve-heavy free program that came with my controller board.

I think the people who made the board don’t care about lathes. They’re not going to come out and say that, but it seems to be true. Their program comes with a little viewing window that shows you an animated movie of your cutting tool at work. It’s set up perfectly for a big milling machine, but if you try to scale it for a lathe, it looks ridiculous. The software doesn’t give you a way to fix that.

The documentation that came with the boards says you need to know the computer language C in order to really understand what the software does. For that reason, I looked around for C courses yesterday. I tried Udemy and Edx. I wasn’t too impressed. C is an old language, and if I understand things correctly, it has morphed into newer languages like C++ and C# (C sharp). The online course offerings for plain old C aren’t that great. I decided to settle for a Youtube course.

The instructor said I had to get a compiler called Dev-C++, which is free. Right away I had problems. He uses version 4-something in the videos, and the current version is 5-something. It looks and works a little differently. So far I’ve been able to figure it out.

A compiler is a program that takes the code you write and turns it into program files. For example, you might write 30 lines of C or Pascal or whatever code, describing a program that lets you enter two numbers and then adds them and prints the result. You feed this into the compiler, and an “exe” file comes out the other end. When you want to experience the thrill of adding two integers, you double-click on “add.exe” or whatever you named it, and the program appears in a little DOS window (assuming it runs in DOS).

The first (only) language I learned was Pascal. I had to learn it in college. I used a compiler made by Borland. It was called Turbo Pascal. Dev-C++ is surely capable of much bigger things than Turbo Pascal, but to the user it looks pretty similar.

I learned a few things that were almost, but not quite, interesting. For example, the nerd term “ported” is a corruption that comes from “portable.” When you move a program from one OS to another, it’s portable, so you are–nails on a blackboard sound–“porting.” I can’t actually remember the other things, so I guess they truly were not interesting.

Here is how much interest I have in programming: zero, or even a large negative number. But if it will help me not have to go to surly, condescending nerds for help with technical stuff, I am all for it.

I’m still trying to figure out what kind of screws I need to make the lathe work well. At first I thought any ball screw would work. Then I found out some ball screws are very crude, so buying such a screw would fail to help or even make things worse. Then I found out there are levels of accuracy, designated “C” this or that, and I learned that most affordable screws were C7, which didn’t seem good enough.

After that, I read that the rigidity of the machine and the skill of the user make more difference than the quality of the screws. Is this true? I don’t know. The truth is a jittery target that skitters away every time I try to draw a bead on it.

A guy who supposedly knows a whole lot claims a plain old Acme screw will do fantastic work if you set it up right, and he says rigidity is more important than worrying about the number that comes after “C.” So maybe I need to buy a C7 screw in a big diameter; 3/4″ or better. I can do that for around a hundred bucks, if I go Taiwanese.

I’ve wondered why Acme screws were not considered useful. If I machine manually, I can get accuracy within a thousandth of an inch, relying on Acme screws and hand dials. Somehow that is not possible with a machine tool. You would think the computer would get better accuracy out of a screw than I can, but it looks like it doesn’t.

The topic is insanely complicated. Good screws aren’t the end of the discussion. For really accurate machining, some people use “screw mapping.” As I understand it, this means examining the screw with precision instruments and recording all its imperfections, so the computer will know to apply the correct compensation at every point on the screw.

Obviously, I am not going to do that. If I can get parts to measure within 0.002″ of spec, I will be the happiest man on earth. I’m not making crucial parts that prevent hydrogen bombs from going off. I don’t have to have perfection.

Now that the machine functions, I have to figure out how to design parts. I have a workable CAD program. I have to decide how to turn the CAD files into Gcode Mach3 can digest. I’m using Fusion360, from Autodesk, for CAD. It’s free. Not sure if it goes past CAD. I should design a part and see where I have to go with it.

Some day when I have room, I’ll get a mill. It will be a real CNC mill. I won’t spend my life on Ebay looking for bearings and screws. I’ll just place an order and wait for the machine. That will be nice. It doesn’t have to be big. Just sort of mid-sized, and it has to be something I can operate without pulling my hair out.

The CNC lathe will be very useful, but if you want CNC, what you really want is a mill. In fact, if you want to machine, period, you want a mill. I do not understand people who claim lathes are better. Most of the time, when you need a part, it will be something a mill can make easily, yet which a lathe can only make with weird, denial-reinforcing attachments.

If you want to make pens all day, sure, get a lathe. You’ll wish you had a mill, though.

Whatever you do with CNC, buy lots of plastic. You do NOT want to practice on metal parts. You will crash, and the crashes will damage your machine and cutting tools. Plastic will give, and it will provide a nice buffer between your mistakes and your checking account. Also, remember you can run programs in an animation window with the motors turned off. If the program looks funny in the animation, you do not want to run it with the motors on.

You can practice with wood instead of plastic, but it makes a mess.

Is this information useful to you? My hopes are not high, but I don’t care, because writing it was a very effective means of procrastination. I got what I wanted.


It’s not Good to be the King

July 13th, 2016

We are Really, Really Stupid

Working my way back over the Columbia University Lit. Hum. syllabus has helped me make some positive changes in my life. I guess I should not say “back,” since I probably skipped half of the reading when I was a snotty-nosed undergrad (now I’m a snotty-nosed geezer or “overgrad”). Anyway, things are getting better.

Lit. Hum. has reminded me that reading (books, not Google search results and Wikipedia) is a good thing. It has also reminded me that it’s not okay to stuff your mind with cotton candy all the time. You can’t spend ten hours a day watching Naked and Afraid and Spongebob Squarepants and not expect to find the equivalent of termites and dry rot when you examine the walls of the house that is your mind.

I think about this when I set the DVR. Okay, shut up. Yes, it’s TV, but you can’t survive without a little TV. It’s a great thing to have when you’re doing something that doesn’t occupy your brain.

I look for good stuff to watch. I record Modern Marvels, for example. Also historical shows. I found a bunch of Shakespeare plays on Turner Classic Movies, and I recorded them. Unfortunately, you really need to read the plays before watching performances, so I added work to my life.

Last night Marv and I checked out a 1970 production of King Lear, which was on the reading list a thousand years ago in my Lit. Hum. class.

I have a soft spot for this play, because it got me one of the only two compliments I ever received from instructors at Columbia. I wrote a paper on it, and my prof. wrote “Absolutely brillant” on the first page. That felt pretty good. Better than being told to get out a couple of years later. The memory of that remark was helpful to me later in life, when people were working hard to convince me I was stupid and worthless.

Last night as I watched, I was surprised to see how much of it I remembered. I’m surprised when I remember anything. But little bits of it got away from me, and I decided I should look at the text. Naturally, it’s available free on your smartphone. Believe it or not, I found an MIT page that had the whole play. I guess MIT students do have to speak English and read an occasional book that wasn’t written by Paul Dirac or an Indian guy.

When I started reading the text, I saw that the movie omitted about half of the material. Good Lord. Who does that? It’s like the famous story about the Arab theater owner who saved time while showing The Sound of Music by cutting out the songs. Who edits Shakespeare?

I deleted the movie from the DVR. I will find another source. I’m sure the play is on Youtube or something.

Apparently, getting your Shakespeare from movies is about as smart as learning history from movies. No, Thomas Jefferson was not a transgendered black womyn who wore a Che T-shirt. George Washington wasn’t gay. JFK was not assassinated by NRA operatives recruited by Jerry Falwell. Read a book and see.

I was only a few lines into the play when I was stricken by a fresh understanding of how stupid modern Americans are.

Shakespeare lived about 400 years ago, but he knew things we do not know today. He understood human nature. He understood that the universe was ordered, and that we were not at the top of the food chain. He knew that people had to cultivate virtue, or they would be no better than rats.

We don’t know these things today. We’ve been taught that “Question Authority” is a commandment. Most people are too stupid to question authority. That’s why it’s authority. If we all did what we thought was right, 99% of us would spend our entire lives screwing up. Oh, wait. That’s actually happening.

The writers we admire today are idiots compared to Shakespeare. They entertain, but they don’t enlighten. Take Hemingway. He was a fake; a poser. He was absorbed in convincing everyone he was the strongest, manliest man who ever manned. He rubbed his phony manliness in our faces. He talked about eating mussels alive and watching them squirm when he put lemon juice on them. He talked about the “comical” way horses looked when they were gored in the bull ring and their intestines dragged behind them.

No one really thinks that’s comical. You could have the male hormones of a thousand goats and Charlie Sheen and still not find it comical.

Where is the wisdom in that? Nowhere. If you want to be a poser, Hemingway and other posers (like Kerouac) are wonderful guides. They will help you grow up to be a little boy who thrives on denial. You can be the grown equivalent of the little boy who gets up and dances on his desk to get the teacher’s attention.

I remember that kid. His name was John Simmons.

Hemingway tried his he-man routing on boxer Gene Tunney, who got tired of trying to warn Hemingway off and gave him a carefully administered “little liver punch” that took all the color out of him and put an end to his manly act.

Shakespeare extolled things like honesty, humility, altruism, and knowing one’s place. That would never fly today.

Most people don’t understand Shakespeare. For example, they think Romeo and Juliet is a wonderful love story about two crazy kids who told their uptight parents to jam it and enjoyed a tragic but beautiful romance. That’s not true. To Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet were immature, selfish brats who ruined their own lives and wrecked their families.

In King Lear, the King hands his kingdom over to two nasty, insincere daughters who refuse to flatter him, and he disowns the honest daughter who really loves him yet refuses to stroke his ego. Here is what his advisor, Kent, says, after Lear warns him that his own anger is like an arrow about to leave the bow:

Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly,
When Lear is mad. What wilt thou do, old man?
Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak,
When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour’s bound,
When majesty stoops to folly.

Here is what Kent would say today. “Yo. It’s cool. No judging here.”

Kent is saying he would rather be shot with an arrow than fail to correct Lear and by correcting, help him avoid disaster. He says an honorable person must speak plainly when the king is crazy. He says power should not bow to flattery.

He’s giving Lear a lecture on classic morals and good sense. Pericles and Marcus Aurelius probably would have agreed, although they lived in the distant past, when people were supposedly backward. Kanye West would disagree; he wouldn’t even understand the words. And the state gave him a free education.

Lear is a fool (oddly, his fool is not), and he can’t receive the advice. He uses his sword to threaten Kent, who says:

Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
Upon thy foul disease. Revoke thy doom;
Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,
I’ll tell thee thou dost evil.

That’s genius. It sums up foolishness in a nutshell. “Kill the physician and pay the disease.” That’s exactly what stupid people do. They kill prophets. They shoot messengers. They hate good parents who correct them.

Look what Lear says when Cordelia explains that she has to be truthful instead of flattering him:

Let it be so; thy truth, then, be thy dower

Here is a fool speaking wisdom he doesn’t understand. He took away her inheritance, and he thinks that preferring the truth to money is imprudent and sure to lead to disaster. He has everything backward; in Shakespeare’s world, the penalty for doing evil isn’t poverty; the price is that you become an evil person. The reward for virtue is virtue, as the proverb says. The truth really is her dowery, but he doesn’t get it.

The play is packed with stuff like this. So are his other works. It’s sad, because modern Americans can’t receive it. We prefer pride, mockery, greed, and every type of sensual indulgence. Our heroes are the imbeciles in Hollywood and on MTV. You could never get a significant percentage of us to accept Shakespeare’s values. We swim gladly in a giant septic tank, swallowing as much as we can and thinking it’s champagne.

Shakespeare isn’t perfect; he’s not a prophet or apostle. He was a big proponent of fornication. If you look at his love poems and replace “will” with its real 1500s meaning, “genitalia,” this becomes clear. But he was way ahead of you and me. Maybe in his better moments he sincerely promoted values he himself could not live up to.

Wisdom is not accumulated through experience. At least, not enough to save us. It’s inherited. The people who lived before us built it up, and we can have it for nothing, if we will accept it. When we insist on proving everything by experience, we burden ourselves with the impossible task of recreating, in one lifetime, what others developed over millennia.

We don’t just eat candy and garbage; we eat infectious excrement, in big, deep gulps. It’s good to realize it’s excrement, but then you have to deal with the pain of being unable to convince other people.

I used to live with the sensation that I was under water, maybe a foot below the surface, always able to see the air above me, but never able to reach it. That’s gone; it left me quietly without announcing its departure. I believe it was caused by my immersion in poisonous worldly ideas.

In the Bible, water is words. Words are many things; they are ideas, urges, statements, denials, promises, and threats. The Sea of Galilee symbolized the world, which is inundated in the words of Satan and the people he controls. The water of this world is foolishness and poison.

When you only have the world to listen to, you’re under the surface of the sea of words. You are the tail, not the head. You are under the power of blind men and inferior loser spirits. When you start to hear from the Holy Spirit, and you spend time praying in tongues, the word of God flows through you.

The Bible says water flows from his throne, and the Holy Spirit’s flow within you is living (running) water. In the Bible, stagnant water is bad; it’s not clean, and it can’t be used for baptism.

I suppose the flow of living water is the reason why I no longer have the sensation of being submerged.

Jesus walked on water, not to impress people, but to show that he was above the backward thoughts of men and devils. He was dominant because he listened to God, not man. Noah was lifted by water that drowned the wicked. It protected Noah but killed his enemies.

Whether the water was death or life depended entirely on a person’s attitude toward it. Noah had the right attitude. His neighbors had the wrong attitude, and it made the water death to them.

Modern entertainment is a swamp of stagnant water. Modern culture is a poison.

It’s no wonder singers and actors do so much harm. Satan was a musician, and he’s also an actor. He plays the role of God every day.

It’s funny that in 2016, two thousand years after the crucifixion, there was no human being available to tell me this stuff. Surely the apostles knew it, but the people who followed them spat on their inheritance and refused to take it. Because they didn’t inherit good things, we couldn’t inherit anything good from them. So we stagger through life blinded, until the Holy Spirit comes to us and gives us what we should have been able to receive from our parents and neighbors.

If you’re too caught up in low-quality secular entertainment, take heart. There are alternatives. All you have to do is change channels and open books.


Dangerous Cookies

July 12th, 2016

I Hear Them Giggling at Me

I have a sad setback to report. My weight-maintenance cookies are not working out.

I had found that keeping Oreos on hand was helpful for weight control, because I could grab one or two whenever I felt like my blood sugar was getting low, and it made it easy to avoid eating bigger things. It also saved me the time and expense of running to the drugstore for a Snickers bar. It saved me the time it would have taken to fix another meal.

I decided I should make my own cookies, since they’re better and cheaper than Oreos.

I made a batch using my oatmeal raisin recipe. I usually use golden raisins, but my local store has apparently stopped stocking them, so I used the dark kind.

When the cookies came out of the oven, I ate a few, and, as I should have predicted, they were so good, it was hard to stop. I ate too much.

Later in the day, I grabbed one after it had cooled off. I learned something really surprising: dark raisins don’t taste that great when they’re hot, but they make for a fantastic cookie at room temperature. This goes against everything I know about cookies. Generally, the hotter they are, the better they taste.

I was actually disturbed by how good the cookie tasted. I can’t remember ever eating a cookie that good. And I don’t even like oatmeal cookies that much. Chocolate chip is my favorite.

The conclusion is obvious: I have to go back to Oreos. My cookies are just too good to stay away from.

It sounds crazy, but I do not understand why I get such good results in the kitchen. I am my own favorite cook; no one else comes close. I cook stuff, I try it, and I make groaning noises and have to lean on the counter to keep from falling.

I don’t have any interest in this gift. I don’t use it. I cook very ordinary food, I almost never make anything special, and I quit cooking for friends (much to their chagrin). These days I only cook a couple of times a week. I make a big pot of soup and a meat dish, and I eat it all week long. As far as I know, my pizza and cheesecake are the best in the universe, and I haven’t made either one in maybe a year. My steaks are out of this world, but when rib roast prices took a huge dip recently, I didn’t bother aging roasts and cutting them into steaks. I did buy some steaks, but I didn’t knock myself out aging them and cooking them properly.

I’ve told God that if he wants to take this gift away and help me do well at something else, I would be fine with it.

One nice thing about not cooking for friends is that it helps you find out why people associate with you. If you stop feeding them and they stick around, you know they’re not just there for free food. If you’re lonely, buy a pickup truck and learn to cook. You’ll never be alone again. Just make sure you keep the food flowing and you never refuse to help someone move.

Another thing I don’t understand: I don’t make everything well. I have never made chicken wings I would serve to a guest. I finally gave up trying to improve, and I settled for wings that were just okay. It’s like some recipes just come to me, and other dishes are hopeless causes.

What am I supposed to do with this cookie recipe? Nothing, I guess. I’d like to keep using it, because Oreos are expensive and mediocre, but I don’t know if I can handle this level of temptation.

I guess I’ll find out, because I still have a lot of cookies left.

By the way, someone asked for the recipe in a comment, and I posted it. I have some corrections. Use dark raisins, and use at least a cup, not half a cup. And don’t eat the cookies until they cool down. You might want to double the salt.

This week’s huge meat dish is meatloaf. I had never made it before. I found the “Award-Winning Quaker Oats Recipe” at Epicurious, and I tried it. Maybe I did something wrong, but it’s not very good. The “sauce” is ketchup with a ton of brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar in it. The loaf is dry, even though I used cheap, juicy hamburger. It needs more salt, too. Like everything.

I know I can improve it. I could add beef broth to the oats before mixing them in. I could mix onion soup mix into the meat instead of using minced onions. I could fix that strange sauce. I could add pork.

Mmm. Pork.

I could be really bad and mix butter into the meat. That would be sick.

I thought I could trust Epicurious, but I was wrong. I shouldn’t be surprised. The recipe got a top rating, but most people can’t tell good food from dog chow.

I still have like three pounds of that meatloaf left. Hope I make a good dent in it today.


Wasting Time

July 11th, 2016

Mine and Yours

I have something to do in 45 minutes, so I can’t really sit down and dig into my new responsibilities. So here I am.

I have been reading Thucydides. I thought I was going to start sooner, but I looked at the Columbia University Lit. Hum. syllabus and discovered I was supposed to read Euripides (The Bacchae) first.

I think I should have taken the midterm last week. I would have been ready for it, which is more than I can say about my last time through this stuff.

I don’t believe in stealing copyrighted stuff, so I always look for cheap paper copies of whatever I read, even if I read it first on Scrib’d or whatever. I read The Odyssey on Scrib’d, and I also ordered a real copy. It’s still in the plastic.

I ordered a copy of Euripides V from Amazon, and then I read an earlier version at the Open Library, which is a site that “lends” ebooks. It has some connection to the Internet Archive, but the Archive has its own borrowing site. You figure it out. I am too lazy to look. I have accounts at both sites. I hope they’re taking care of authors’ rights, but anyway, I do use them. I took a look at a couple of drink recipes from Trader Vic’s without buying paper copies of the book. I hope that’s morally acceptable.

“Bacchae” rhymes with “wacky,” and maybe that’s fitting. It means “bacchants.” “Bacchant” (also “bacchante”) is pronounced “buh-Can’t.” It means a lady who worships Bacchus, the Bieber-like Greek God of drunkenness and–I don’t know–being effeminate maybe.

Here is the idea. Bacchus comes down to–wow, I’ve forgotten already–is it Thebes? Yes. The Thebes in Greece. He claims he’s Zeus’s son. His family says he’s a random illegitimate sissy. His cousin, Pentheus, is given the throne of Thebes, and Bacchus is rejected, although he does go on to a successful run, playing millionaire Thurston Howell on Sixties TV.

People who worship Bacchus go crazy. They get really drunk and run around the woods, dancing and fornicating. Women are the main participants, and during their craziness, they provide sex for any man who asks. This is not considered sleazy or sinful; it’s considered pious. Go figure.

It’s a remarkable thing to read, because it’s like a perverse reflection of being led by the Holy Spirit.

When you’re led by the Holy Spirit, you’re out of sync with the rest of the world. Like the bacchants, you seem irrational to other people, but you’re under the influence of a spirit who knows what he’s doing. You will do things that seem ill-advised from people who don’t hear from him.

The bacchants were also out of step with other people. Unlike Spirit-led Christians, they lost their free will and good sense. They did strange things. The mother of Pentheus got together with a group of bacchants and tore him to pieces, removing his head and so on. She didn’t know he was her son. She wanted to find Pentheus and tell him how she had helped kill the unbeliever.

Bacchus was the son of the highest Greek God, by a mortal woman. Jesus was the son of the real high God, by a mortal woman. Bacchus was rejected. Jesus was rejected. Bacchus sent a spirit to control people who followed him, and they did strange things. Jesus sent a spirit to help people rise above Satan and the world, and under that spirit’s influence, we do things other people don’t understand.

Bacchus gave humanity wine, and the Greeks thought that was a great gift, because it got people drunk. Jesus gave people his blood, which was represented by wine. When the Holy Spirit fell on the Apostles, people thought they were drunk.

I have to wonder how much of this is coincidence. In the time of Euripides, Satan didn’t know about the crucifixion or the baptism with the Holy Spirit, but it seems like evil spirits pick up on things from time to time, getting little incomplete glimpses of the things God is up to.

Thucydides is interesting. His book is about the Peloponnesian Wars. The Peloponnese is the lower part of Greece, where Sparta is located. It’s actually a peninsula. Athens is on the mainland. The mainier mainland. Athens and Spart went at it, with other Greek city-states joining the fray.

The Athenians were led by a remarkable man named Pericles. He reminds me of Winston Churchill and George W. Bush. He was a solid wartime leader whose people turned on him once the consequences of their decision to follow him into battle became clear. People always want the omelette, and then they want the eggs back.

Pericles was a speaker, and he made some famous speeches before the Athenians. In the first, he urged them to go to war. He said something you would expect to come out of the mouth of an American Founding Father: “Make up your minds that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.”

Well, I got called away before the 45 minutes were up. But I’m back now. I’m making diet cookies.

To get back to Pericles, he showed me something interesting about Sparta: the Spartans were crazy to put their kids through 18 years or whatever of cruel boot camp.

If you’ve seen 300, you know that the Spartans sent their male children off to suffer miserably until they were old enough to join the army. This was after killing off all the ones that looked imperfect; the Spartans were extremely pro-choice. They left weak-looking babies to die in the wilderness.

In the movie, the Spartans are incredibly macho and tough. They’re like the SAS of Greeks. No one can fight as well as they can. Three hundred of them hold the huge Persian army off for days.

In real life, the flabby, hard-drinking Athenian queens kicked the snot out of them. They defeated the Spartans, proving you don’t really need to throw your life away to be an effective soldier.

American conservatives got really sweaty and pumped after 300 came out. We put “Molon labe” all over our blogs (even though King Leonidas of Sparta didn’t say that in the movie). Maybe we should have been excited about the wedding planners, figure skaters, and airline stewards of Athens.

Want to hear something interesting about Pericles? He had the Athenians hide behind a wall during the war. He also wanted to fix it so you had to have two Athenian parents in order to be a citizen of Athens. Do you realize what this means? He wasn’t the Greek George Bush. He was the Greek Donald Trump.

Pericles, it seems, was brilliant, even though his plans didn’t always work. Thucydides was no moron, either. He understood how smart Pericles was, and he paid him this compliment: he said he led the people instead of being led by them. That’s true wisdom. Most of our politicans are followers, not leaders. Obama is the biggest sheep in the universe. Somehow a man who lived 2500 years ago knew how important it was for a leader to lead, and we don’t know it now. How can that be? How can you not know something you knew in 475 B.C.?

Leadership is a huge part of Christianity. You’re supposed to be the head, not the tail. The head doesn’t follow the tail. When your buddies are getting tattoos, using drugs, and doing yoga, you shouldn’t go along just so they’ll love you. You should set an example and do what’s right.

You’re wondering what diet cookies are.

In 2009, after a fast, I suddenly found that God had given me control over what I ate. I didn’t feel compelled to stuff myself. I lost weight. That blessing didn’t go away, but I damaged it. One night I decided to order all-you-can-eat ribs with a friend of mine, and since then, things haven’t been quite as good as they were in 2009. I guess I followed instead of leading.

Recently, God brought the self-control back. That’s great, but it comes with little challenges. One is that I tend to eat too little at breakfast. I can tell when I need more food, because I start to feel crabby, and I don’t concentrate well. Like Betty White in the Snickers commercial.

I bought a bag of Oreos the other day, and I found them very useful. When I needed food, I grabbed a couple of Oreos, and they fixed the problem. Without small, handy, calorie-filled items around, I would be likely to eat something that’s too big.

I ran out of Oreos, and I was going to get more, but then I remembered my own cookies. I make fantastic oatmeal raisin cookies. It’s not a big brag. All homemade cookies are phenomenal compared to bag cookies, as long as you don’t use vegetable oil or shortening.

Today I made a pile of oatmeal cookies, and I’ll keep them around so I don’t keel over at 3 p.m. every day. The big problem is that they may be too good. If they’re too good, it will be very hard to control my consumption, even with the help I have.

They really are good. I know they’re good, because I love them, and ordinarily I don’t like oatmeal cookies.

I guess I’m going to have to get back to work on accounting. Either that, or I’ll have no choice but to get into the differences between rolled and ground ball screws.


CNC Rider

July 9th, 2016

C What I Have Done

More progress on the CNC front.

I’m sure I already said I ordered some acetal rod for CNC practice. If not, now you know. For less than ten bucks, Zoro Tools sent me six feet of it.

Acetal, also known as Delrin, is a very tough plastic. It feels and looks like polyethylene. It’s so tough, they make gears out of it. I used it this afternoon.

Today I had a couple of goals. One was to get my backlash correction working, so the lathe would not wander all over the place while it cut. The other was to get the initialization code fixed so the motors wouldn’t disable every time I looked away for ten seconds. I believe I accomplished both goals.

CNC is an interesting thing. I got very excited about it in 2014, because I saw that it should–SHOULD–change the world by giving ordinary citizens the power to make all sorts of things in their own homes. Guns, for example. But I may have expected too much from the technology.

There is no reason why a big outfit like Microsoft can’t come up with a program that allows relatively unskilled people to design fairly complex parts and turn them into code so computerized tools can make them from raw materials. There is no reason why a big outfit like Samsung can’t make a machine that reads the code and creates what you designed, without a lot of bugs and accidents. These things have not happened, though, because demand is not there yet.

Right now, real CNC is not plug and play. You can buy a 3D printer, which is one kind of CNC tool, and you can make stuff all day, but if you’re like 99.98% of the people who own printers, you won’t be able to make anything useful. You won’t be able to design new parts worth a damn, because CAD is hard, and even if you did, they would be printed in crude, flimsy plastic.

Recently, someone wrote an article saying 3D printing was “dying,” and he said something like, “Eventually you get tired of printing out little plastic skulls.” This is what people do; they buy printers, they download files other people wrote, and they print worthless knickknacks. You can do better, but you won’t do it on a $300 printer, and you won’t do it without acquiring some skills.

If you want a CNC machine tool, which is infinitely more useful than a printer, you will have to either lay out some serious cash or find an incredible Craigslist deal with a seller who has no idea what the tools are worth. If you can get a decent used mill for several thousand dollars, you’re doing very well. Then you have a giant mill that takes up half of your garage, and you have to learn manual machining, CAD, C, Gcode, CNC machining, and God knows what else.

You can get a CNC router, if you’re happy being unable to work in metal. I don’t see the point.

To make it work, you will have to get a ready-made CNC machine, or you will have to put a lot of stuff together. Then you have to learn how to make it run. I don’t mean making it make things. I mean you will have to learn things like how to make the motors run at the right speeds, moving in the right directions. It’s not easy. Believe me, there is no one-sheet “Quick Start” primer that will get you on your feet.

I didn’t buy a machine made for CNC. I did a conversion. I had to get two computer boards to make my lathe work, and then I had to make a cabinet for them, install a power supply, make the manufacturer’s software work with the boards, and make the software and boards work with the lathe. Then I had to make the software work with Mach3, which is probably the closest thing we have to Photoshop or Word for CNC. It helps people who aren’t programmers run CNC tools.

After all that, I had to make all of it work with Windows 10, which is a terrible operating system when it comes to connectivity and drivers.

I had to do all this, just to create a machine that functions. Making new parts with it that are more complicated than drumsticks…that’s still down the road.

The manuals for my computer boards are horrors straight from hell. The guy who wrote them is an engineer, which means he is not really a human being. They probably seem very straightforward to him. To me, they seem disorganized, vague, incomplete, and misleading. And I can’t say anything bad about him. He had a Herculean task to perform. It’s a wonder he did it as well as he did.

So anyway, home CNC has astounding potential to put manufacturing power in the hands of ordinary people, but it hasn’t come through yet. It’s at the stage where computers were when people made them from kits, using soldering irons. If you want to be a CNC hobbyist, giving up your other hobbies is a really good idea.

CNC is having a big impact on people like me, but people like me aren’t that common. It won’t really explode until an average guy can take a prefab, user-friendly, plug and play setup and start making parts in a couple of weeks. That’s probably five years off. It can be done. If the Mach3 people had as many software engineers working on it as Bill Gates has working on the next bad version of Word, it would have happened already.

It will be a while before printing your own household items will be as common as printing your own annoying family newsletters. But it will happen.

Here is the part I made today. You are probably wondering what it is. Me, too. But I made it, and I had very few problems. I wonder why I didn’t try machining acetal sooner. It’s very useful, and the finish is incredible. I used a pointy Chinese carbide tool with, essentially, no radius, and this thing is so smooth it looks like it came out of a mold.

07 09 16 CNC mini lathe Delrin doodad from successful axis test

I’m still wondering what’s up with the steps/inch settings. My x screw is supposed to do 1/25″ per turn, and the motor makes 3200 steps/revolution, so you would expect 80000 steps/inch. Measuring the lathe’s movements, I came up with 79760. Explain that. Maybe the screw is actually metric, and it only approximates an imperial pitch. Hmm…what if it’s 1mm per turn? That would give me 78740. Who knows?

The lead screw is not metric. Definitely. Probably. It’s American. It moves 1/2″ per turn, which comes out to 6400 steps/inch. But I have to use 6321. I haven’t figured that out.

I had a horrible time getting the screws right. I kept measuring the movement of the lathe, doing math, and adjusting the motors. I finally realized the lathe motors jumped every time I turned it on. This jump wasn’t recognized by the computer, so it threw everything off. The guy who makes the boards told me, “Oh, yeah, the boards do LEAP ON THEIR OWN every time they come on, and it happens all the time because I put code in the program that makes them time out and go dead.” I am paraphrasing. I had to look through the C initialization program and try to figure out which part of it meant “time out and stop,” and then I had to figure out how to rewrite it so the motors would always stay on. I succeeded at that, and things started to fall into place.

I also had issues with the backlash stuff. You can’t just tell a machine, “Add 0.005″ of backlash.” Backlash always has to be taken off the same side of the screw. You apply a correction when the lathe moves in one direction, but not the other. You have to be consistent. So I had to root through the manual and find out where to put the correction. It turns out that if you have a KFlop board, the backlash correction is only added when you move in the positive direction. Good to know.

Keeping the motors on all the time makes it impossible to locate the tool manually, turning the motor dials. I had to learn how to use the “jog” controls to move the tool into position. That was a nightmare. The z jog was like a rocket launch. I found it unusable. I wondered why anyone would ever try to use it.

I got my screws accurate to within 1 part in 500, and then I tried to run a simple program, and the lathe jammed. I had to turn it off. The tool just rammed the work, like it was mad at it. Finally, I found out the acceleration figures for the motors were too high. If you set your acceleration too high, the motors just ignore commands. Like, “Are you kidding? I’m not doing that.” So if five lines of code, which the motor likes, say, “Go left,” and five other lines it hates say, “Go right,” it just keeps going left.

It turned out I had the Mach3 acceleration figures so high, they were roughly comparable to the acceleration of a rifle bullet leaving the chamber. This is why I had jog problems. And guess what? You have to put acceleration figures in Mach3 and also in the software that comes with the board. So pitfalls abound.

Anyway, I made this white thing, and I’m really happy with it.

Now that I know the lathe will function, I can pay for a Mach3 license and get the full version of the software, and I can think about ordering a z axis ball screw. I also have to get to work on the spindle encoder thing. I’ll need to buy hook spanner wrenches. You can never have enough tools.

CNC is great, but if you want to get into it at your house, you will still have to play Robert Goddard, even though CNC is over 50 years old. If you decide to do it, go with a mill. Don’t even think about a lathe, because you will be ALONE. Even a router will be easier. A mill is the best CNC tool, though, so that’s what you should get.

I’ll bet no one read this far. I don’t care. I love my shiny new part.


Hello Again, Mr. Chips

July 9th, 2016

I Will Beat This Thing if it Kills Me

I have been trying to rehabilitate my wayward CNC lathe. I built it in 2014, and for some reason, I quit working on it. I don’t recall the final straw, but I know that I was frustrated with the motor setup, and I was disturbed to learn that the screws that move the carriage (one of which cost a ton of money) were not adequate for good machining.

I started working on it last week, and I learned a few things.

First off, the screws aren’t that bad. The screw on the x axis (toward and away from the operator) is accurate to within a thousandth or so, which is about as good as I will ever need it to be. The other screw (z, or left and right) can be made accurate to within a couple of thousandths, which will do for 98% of hobby projects. I would be better of with ball screws, which have no significant backlash, but I don’t need them at this stage. Better to put my effort into making the motors and programs work.

Second thing: ball screws are getting cheaper and easier to find. I should be able to replace the z screw for under a hundred bucks, and the x screw, if it needs to be replaced at all, will be less.

Third thing: you don’t need a compound rest on a CNC lathe. A compound rest, for those of you who haven’t stopped reading already, is a second slide on top of the main carriage slide. The main slide, or cross slide, moves the tool toward you and away from you. The compound sits on it, and it can be swiveled, so it can move the tool in all sorts of directions in the horizontal plane.

A compound is very useful in manual machining, but with CNC, it’s a problem, unless it’s connected to a computer. The computer needs to control all movement and know where everything is, and that doesn’t happen with a compound that isn’t wired up. You have to leave it in one position all the time, so the computer knows where it is. That means it takes up space for no reason, and because compound rests are inherently wobbly, it adds error.

I took mine off and replaced it with a nice aluminum block. I was really happy with the block. It’s probably the first thing I’ve ever machined successfully, in one try, with no errors.

07 03 16 CNC mini lathe with new cross slide mount

Now if I can just get the lathe to work.

The little flat part that projects in front of the tool post is probably not necessary, but I left it there in case I found a need to mount additional stuff. You never know.

Fourth thing: if you use a KFlop controller, like mine, you will not be able to do threading without two spindle inputs. Mach3, the program just about everyone uses, will let you observe your spindle’s movements with a single sensor that, obviously, sends a signal once every rotation. The KFlop isn’t having that, so I have to rig up a two-sensor thing.

The mini-lathe came with variable speed and a tachometer, so it has a spindle sensor already. There is a disk around the spindle at one end, and there is a hole in the disk. The disk runs through a caliper-looking thing which contains an optical sensor. Every time the hole goes through, the sensor sends a signal to the tachometer, and the lathe tells me how fast it’s going.

The CNC plans I bought say to buy a new sensor and install it on the spindle. The sensor is inductive. That must mean it has a coil in it. Anyway, you mount a small flat piece of metal on the spindle, and every time it passes the new sensor, it makes current run through the sensor, telling the controller what the spindle is doing. When I realized the lathe already had a sensor, I decided to try to hack into it and connect it to the KFlop. That’s when I found out it won’t work. Now I have to put a second disk on the spindle with two cheap optical sensors at 90 degrees to each other.

I still can’t get the software to work right. That’s largely because I made a lathe and not a mill. You have to be stupid to make a lathe, because no one does it. Because there are so few hobby CNC lathes, there are very few people who can help you with problems. Also, the people who make the KFlop do not provide computer code for two-axis machines, so you may have to learn to alter C programs to work in two dimensions.


Nonetheless, things are moving right along.

I have one problem which is strictly physical, i.e., not in software. I crashed the lathe a long time ago, and now it tends to sputter. I changed the brushes on the motor, and it didn’t help. The old brushes were fine. I am now wondering if I damaged the contacts on the switch that changes the lathe from forward to reverse motion. Anyway, it’s one more thing to fix.

I bought a long piece of Delrin rod from Zoro Tools. I figured it would be more forgiving than aluminum when the lathe crashed. We’ll see. And Delrin is very useful stuff.

In other news, I am learning a lot about dementia. This week I realized that dementia is like dissection. It shows you what’s under people’s skin. It tells you what’s inside them.

My dad keeps having problems with his prescriptions, which I dole out for him, putting everything in a pill organizer. His doctor is supposed to keep them flowing to him by mail, by keeping his refills up to date. The supplier is supposed to send new pills automatically. Over and over, they screw up. I call the supplier, and they say the doctor didn’t update the prescription. I call the doctor, and they tell me to talk to the supplier. No one ever says the obvious thing, which is, “We are incompetent. Sorry. We’ll fix it.”

He ran out of one of his medications, and there was turmoil for about half an hour.

He can’t keep the names of the companies that supply his drugs straight. He can’t remember who sends the prescriptions. He became very angry and agitated, and he kept asking me the same things over and over. I was very calm about it; this is a problem that literally takes 30 seconds to fix. You make a note to call the doctor and the prescription people, and you go on with life. He kept telling me he couldn’t have this chaos in his life, and he was clearly upset that I wasn’t upset.

I had a sudden realization: he enjoys being angry and upset. It brings him pleasure. He doesn’t like to see it end. In the instant I saw that, a lot of things from my childhood started to make sense.

Most people don’t like being upset. When they get upset, they look for solutions to put an end to it. My dad never did that. When he got angry, he looked for ways to prolong it and spread it to other people. He used to get mad at people he couldn’t rattle. He thought there was something wrong with them. He had an employee he criticized for being unflappable; he found the man extremely frustrating, just because he didn’t burst into tears or share in the hysteria. I didn’t understand that. Now I do.

My house was always full of stress and yelling. When we would ask him to calm down, he always said, “Don’t tell me to calm down!” Now I see why he did that. He was enjoying himself.

You couldn’t tell him you were sorry and have an end to the problem. Even if you fixed the problem on the spot, he kept going. He didn’t stop until he got tired, and that could take hours. Sometimes he would run down and stop, and then it would start up again later. Sometimes he resumed days afterward.

I can’t believe I never saw this before.

It shows how harmful bad habits are to older people. When you’re 50 and you still have it together, you can change. When you become demented, forget it. People can’t help you with good advice, because you can’t receive it. All they can do is try to limit your suffering. And theirs. By spending less time with you.

Whatever you’re hiding from your kids today will eventually be so obvious it might as well be on a billboard.

Awareness of the problems my parents and grandparents have or had is not useless. It can’t help them, but it can help me. These things are caused or exacerbated by spirits, and those spirits leave the dead and prey on their descendants. As is so often the case, I am presented with a situation in which I can be blessed through others, yet I can’t bless them in return.

My dad’s potential to change and enjoy life is limited, and my sister is a lost cause. I don’t even know if she’s alive. The strange thing is that I’m not agitated about it. Many Christians have the idea that you’re never supposed to stop weeping and worrying over people; that’s a huge lie. We are supposed to be blessed, and you can’t be blessed if your life consists of perpetual handwringing over people who choose, habitually and over a course of decades, to harm themselves.

The Holy Spirit killed Ananias and Sapphira; people forget that. Peter spoke curses to them, and they died on the spot. He didn’t weep. He didn’t beg them to change. I’m sure he wasn’t happy about what happened to them, but the Holy Spirit tells us which battles to fight and which to drop, and he apparently chose not to have Peter wear himself out on Ananias and Sapphira.

We don’t know what people did for them in the time leading up to their deaths. They may have fasted and prayed for them every day for months.

I pray for my dad every day. I do what I can in the supernatural, and I make his life easy. That’s plenty of effort; I’m doing what I’m supposed to. Results can’t be guaranteed; I am not responsible for them. I am content.

I have more peace now that I understand what’s going on. That’s good. It’s bad when other people can’t be blessed, but I’ll take my blessings just the same.



July 8th, 2016

Evil Rules America

Last night some imbeciles shot up Dallas, killing a number of policemen. One of the murderers told police he wanted to kill white people. Lost individuals are on social media, applauding the racist losers who committed the crimes.

None of it is surprising. For most of a century, liberals have been teaching minorities, women, and gays that every cruel, vicious thing they do to the rest of us is justified. Our president takes that attitude, and during his reign, race relations have reached a new low. White people, men, Christians, and heterosexuals are constantly corrected and insulted, so we have tried to clean up our acts. The people who proudly call themselves victims have been coddled and pampered, and they have been taught to blame others for their problems, so they have deteriorated morally.

I see people on the news asking what we can do to fix it. It’s sad, because they’re living in a fantasy world. We can’t fix it. We won’t. It will get worse.

We abandoned God years ago. American serves Satan, and we do so with increasing openness. God doesn’t take care of us the way he used to, because we are his enemies. Order and hate will continue to decrease until the end of this age.

Our ghettos are full of people who can’t receive truth. They can’t be helped any more. They will believe any lie you tell them, but the truth infuriates them. A black friend told me she was against Republicans because we took prayer out of school. Another black friend told me a mutual acquaintance was against Republicans because we fought for gay marriage. The blindness is a marvel. If you can live in America, surrounded by 24-hour news outlets, carrying a smartphone in your pocket, and still believe Republicans fought for gay marriage, then you are immune to learning.

Black people abandoned God, so they became blinded. White people abandoned God, so we lost our protection and help. Every segment of society is cursed in various ways, and irrational hate and violence are two of the results.

The infantile individuals who shot up Dallas are not intelligent enough to understand what they’ve done. They dealt a devastating blow to black people in America.

The only way to do well in this world is to submit to God, learn, and improve. You have to take accountability. The second you start blaming others for your problems, you lose. Instead of growing stronger, you grow weaker. The Dallas murderers will inspire other black people to mistreat the police and people of other races, and the net result will be more poverty, more isolation, and more black-on-black violence.

Black people make up something like 12% of the population, and they don’t have much of the wealth. They don’t have many guns. They don’t have much property. They are not powerful people. Now they are being encouraged to fight against the strong, wealthy, government-backed, heavily armed, job-providing 88%. That’s not going to work. You can’t fight a civil war with 12% of the population.

As things get worse, black people will suffer. They will riot and destroy their own areas. They will destroy their businesses and careers. They will drive other people, and their money, out. They will be hit with business-killing curfews. Many will be crippled by felony charges that make them unemployable. People will be less willing to befriend them and help them assimilate.

A few non-blacks will suffer, but let’s face it; my neighborhood will be just fine, and so will nearly all non-black neighborhoods. We have weapons. The police are behind us. The National Guard is behind us, even under Obama. Deranged rioters and murder gangs don’t get on the bus and go to other neighborhoods. They walk outside, right where they live, and raise hell. They won’t be a problem here.

I have a black friend I pray with every week. He used to be on board with the victimhood movement. He thought George Zimmerman was a murderer. That’s over now. He is very frustrated with Black Lives Matter. He says he feels like he can’t talk to his black friends, because he disagrees with their mindset and they are incapable of listening. It must be a very unpleasant position to be in. He has seen the light, and he has knowledge that can help people he cares about, but if he tries to speak up, he’ll get nothing but abuse and accusations.

I’m not stupid. I know there are many, many black people in America who are celebrating today. The press will pretend it’s not happening, but social media is a fluoroscope that reveals all. Self-destructive attitudes are on full display right now. It won’t be acknowledged, accountability will be rejected, and things will get worse.

Talking heads will be on the air all week, trying to find a way to blame white people. When you blame people, you imply that they have power. White people are out of line with God, and to that extent, we are responsible for what’s happening, but come on. This mess is primarily the result of the actions of black people.

I can relate to my friend’s problem. I feel the same way about human beings, generally. We are full of blindness and unjustified anger, and we love it. When God tells me something good, it’s very hard to share it successfully with anyone. More and more, I am an outcast.

How could I succeed now if I tried to integrate with secular society? I’m very outspoken about homosexuality; that, alone, would suffice to get me blackballed in business. I call Bruce Jenner a man. I call Islam a cult. A person like me is unwelcome everywhere. I’m even unwelcome among tongue-talking Christians, because I tell them their leaders are lying vultures.

The world hates truth, and if you speak the truth, it hates you. The fact that you want to help just makes it worse. The world is evil, and help makes it angry. Satan is the god of this world, and if you try to graft yourself into it, he will see to it that you are rejected like a transplanted limb.

Jesus said the world would hate his disciples. He was not joking. There was a time when America was relatively safe for Christians; this country was unusual, in that God had a lot of power here. That day is gone, gone, gone. And it’s not coming back.

People are going to look for secular solutions to the BLM problem, and that will not please God. It will make things worse. He let us have this predicament as a lesson, to help us turn back to him. Instead, we will throw it back in his face and continue to offend him.

In all likelihood, we are about to see a terrible time for black Americans. It’s very sad. They pinned their hopes on a president and an ideology that make things worse.

If I lived near the edge of a black area, I would be looking for a realtor right now. Anger will increase, and I am a natural target.

I feel bad for black conservatives, but then when has that not been true? I feel bad for any black person who is against the violence. The bad behavior of the hateful makes the rest of us wary. The government can’t profile, but the rest of us will, even if we try not to, and many innocent people will be ostracized out of fear.

It’s disturbing to see how right I have been about the direction the world is taking. My information definitely came from God. I used to joke about wanting a walled compound in central Florida, but it’s actually a very good idea. Miami is full of Cubans who didn’t like blacks much to begin with, and it’s full of black people who are getting angrier by the minute. People who live in the country live with less tension.

The good news is that help is available. You can’t fix your “community.” You can’t even fix your relatives. But you can fix yourself. You can get power, peace, and correction from God. You can get his protection and help. It has gotten to the point where a real Christian is like a bubble boy; that’s sad, but the bubble is still a great gift. You can get close to God, submit, develop a prayer life, and find insulation from the crazies and killers. If you haven’t done it yet, you need to turn the PC off and start today.

I wish I had something nice to say about the world, but it would be a lie. Accept the situation as it is and receive the best help available. Denial will only make things worse.


I feel like adding a few things to what I wrote.

People will read this and call me a racist or say that I don’t care about police abuse of black people. It’s always easier to make a false accusation than to use your brain.

The cops have all sorts of problems. Everyone over the age of two knows that the job attracts a lot of sadistic, corrupt control freaks. I haven’t dealt with the police all that much, and even in my limited experience, I would say 20% of them were snotty and possibly dangerous. I had a black cop wake me up by banging on a car window with a nickel-plated .357 close to my head; that wasn’t just rude; it was a felony. And I know racism is a serious problem in police departments.

Some of the people the BLM crowd is upset about were murdered. Tamir Rice was murdered. So was the guy who was shot while running from the police on foot in South Carolina. I believe the Eric Garner case was manslaughter. It happens. It happens more often to white people, but in any case, it happens, and black people are probably more likely to be victims.

I think it’s swell to keep an eye on the cops, and I think any cop who interferes with a person shooting video of a police interaction should be put in prison for several years.

That doesn’t mean the BLM people aren’t crazy or counterproductive.

We are not going to be able to do much about the police, because policemen have always been dangerous. That has been true in every country, since the dawn of history. Cops are one of the main reason the Bill of Rights was written. The job attracts crazies and crooks. No matter how much we screen and observe, there will be more Tamir Rices. We should make reasonable efforts to change that, but realistically, we are not going to see results much better than what we have now. It’s actually surprising to me that we have as few problems as we do.

Changing yourself is another matter. You can do that. You can stop selling drugs. You can stop carrying illegal weapons. You can stop stealing, raping, and killing. You can refuse to join a gang. It’s not that hard. The difference BLM would make by teaching people to shape up dwarfs the difference they will make by blaming the police and white people.

Look at the people the cops have been killing. Almost all of them delivered themselves into the hands of the cops. Almost all were in the hands of the police because they had just committed crimes. Even the man who was shot in the back had committed a crime. If you really want to save lives, isolate yourself from the threat by behaving responsibly.

Also, BLM critics are 100% correct when they say BLM is hypocritical because it ignores the threat blacks pose to each other.

If you’re a black person conceived in the city of New York, you will probably be murdered…by your mother. You are more likely to be killed by your mother than born alive. If BLM really cares about black lives, why not attack the white-funded, white-dominated abortion industry, which deliberatedly targets black babies? The whole purpose of the abortion industry is to reduce the numbers of live black births.

I know people will say this is trite, but it’s trite because it’s true: it would also make sense to fight black crime. Right now in Liberty City, a few miles from here, a black man who is angry at another black man can shoot him in his front yard in front of witnesses and not worry about a conviction. People do not cooperate with the cops. People who talk are in danger of being killed, not just by the people they inform on, but by all sorts of people in their area who have no direct interest in the crimes in question.

If you’re a black man, you’re about as likely to be shot by a cop as you are to die in a bathtub accident. It’s not that common. But you stand a pretty good chance of being killed by your mom or another black civilian.

So to sum up, BLM is avoiding approaches that can help, and they are working very hard on an approach that will produce extremely limited positive results. In the process, they’re burning neighborhoods, looting stores, shooting cops, and teaching destructive values that lead people to self-destruct.

The things I’m saying are useful and helpful. I’m sorry they don’t taste like Froot Loops, but medicine usually doesn’t.


The Unthinkable has Happened

July 7th, 2016

Accounting is my Passion

I said I eagerly awaited the day when I could honestly say I liked Quickbooks; it looks like that day is here.

I have had to take over most of my dad’s responsibilities, and I’m aware that the percentage will approach 100 asymptotically in the near future. Every weekday I put time in, entering old checks and payments in Quickbooks. I deal with people who fix his car and work on his house. I watch to see if he’s doing anything wrong, so I can step in.

Using accounting software is not exciting, but along with the other new responsibilities, it’s paying dividends. When I’m only responsible for myself, I don’t have a lot of motivation to do things well. Now that I’m responsible for another person, I cut my own excuses short and get things done, and the mindset extends to my own affairs.

I’m developing the habit of scheduling things and setting daily goals. This is more helpful than you would think. As I’ve said before, if you sit down to work on something and you have no specific goal, you don’t know when you’re finished. When you quit, it’s because you’re tired, not because you accomplished something. You think about the rest of the task for the remainder of the day instead of putting it out of your mind.

When you set goals, you know when it’s time to get up, and you can be at peace while you do other things.

This all comes from my prayer life, which goes better and better with time. I have started making a point of asking God to help me give 100% of myself and my wealth to him. That’s very important. We are generally taught to give him just enough of ourselves to make our lives run well, as if we’re tipping a waiter or paying the IRS. Prosperity preachers teach us to pay God to help us and then go away. The old covenant taught us to give him 10%. That stuff doesn’t work now. You have to trust him completely, and when you ask him to help you do that, you find that part of you is very reluctant.

It’s not natural to trust God completely. That makes sense, because we are selfish, we are used to doing what we want, and we are used to being cheated by just about everyone we deal with. I don’t trust people; do you? I don’t even trust the people I trust. There are people I’d trust with my house keys, but there is nobody I’d put on my bank accounts. I wouldn’t trust anyone to tell doctors whether they could start passing out my organs. My trust has limits.

It’s hard to think of a single person who hasn’t let me down, and I have let others down. A lot of people have gone beyond being untrustworthy; they have worked to destroy me, for no good reason. They have stolen from me. They have slandered me behind my back. I’ve been lied about to judges.

God is the only person who is completely trustworthy. It’s no wonder I come to him with the habit of limiting what I give to people. I’ve never known any human being I could rely on, because such people do not exist.

So anyway, asking for help with complete trust and submission has been helpful. And it makes sense that it would help. Why should God help people who aren’t his employees? You don’t see Burger King giving uniforms to the kids who work at McDonald’s.

Peace and success keep increasing in my life. It’s absolutely great.

This morning I thought about the churches I used to go to. I was so glad I quit going. I felt relieved, knowing that disgusting weight was not on my back.

I know there are people at those churches who think I’m lost. They assume things are going badly for me now that I’ve “touched God’s anointed” and criticized “the prophets.” They are waiting to hear a bad report, and to see me crawl back to church full of regret. Fat chance!

I know they mean well (some of them), but they couldn’t be more wrong.

The Wilkerson family, at Trinity Church, is a horror to deal with. The place is a cult. They treat people like slaves. They put the dumbest, trashiest, most worthless teachers imaginable in front of people (most of whom are poor), and these people and the staff preachers persuade the crowd to go into debt to give the Wilkersons ridiculous offerings. The Wilkersons run people down to their friends. They interfere with relationships. They scheme behind people’s backs. Attending that church was like sharecropping. No, it was like being in a Nazi death camp. You work until you’re used up, and then someone replaces you.

Rich Wilkerson, Sr., asked for an offering at a funeral! No lie.

The last church I attended wasn’t great, either. The pastors had crazy, inflated opinions of themselves. They thought they were always right. The head pastor actually scolded the volunteers because they didn’t honor him correctly on his birthday! We were supposed to honor his adolescent son, who is nothing but an angry brat. He posted a photo of Jesus on Instagram, clutching a gigantic marijuana leaf. Under it, he announced that he was an atheist. He was nasty to older people. He was uneducated, by choice. But we were supposed to honor him!

They broke up relationships. They were incapable of listening. They were childish. They made a confused man their “house prophet.” They expected people to listen to the crazy things he said, and to rely on them when they steered their lives. The church never grew when I was there, and it’s still in a little rented room. Every time God started to move, pride stopped him in his tracks.

I don’t have to fool with that mess any more. I’m free. I talk to God personally all the time. I don’t need to talk to his crazy, manipulative personal assistants.

I have much more control over my mind, heart, and flesh than I used to. I have more success. The thistle hedges God put around me when I was in rebellion are coming down. I keep getting correction and supernatural improvement. It’s wonderful. If I had listened to the slave drivers and tiny pharaohs, I would still be walking in circles treading out their grain.

It’s great. I love it. You can have it, too.

I’m also glad I’m off Facebook, Twitter, and the other social media sites. I don’t have to turn on the PC and groan, knowing I’m about to see backward garbage posted by friends who claim to love God. I don’t have to see half-naked pictures, Only Black Lives Matter propaganda, prosperity gospel filth, or posts about how hard Christianity is and how we have to save ourselves through effort.

I miss people, but I would rather have what I have and be without them than have what they have and be with them.

In my prayers, I keep telling God I’m going to keep going forward and doing well even if every other person on earth dies in defeat and goes to hell.

That sounds bad, I suppose, but it doesn’t mean I don’t care about other people. It means I will not let my desire to please them or be accepted drive me to accept the chump change they’re living for. The devil pays them off in trinkets, so they’re happy to remain as they are. Not me (not any more). I want to keep growing. I don’t want to peak in this life.

I hope everyone I know grows and improves, but if they don’t, I will keep walking, and I will never look back. Never. It’s unthinkable.

Sometimes I sit and focus and try to feel the way I felt six months or a year ago. I remember the tension and worry. I remember the sensation of defeat. Things were pretty good back then; they were way better than they were in 2007, when I first decided to go back to church. But today I feel ten times as good. As pleasant as things were in 2015, I could never allow myself to sink back to that level.

I realize the kingdom of heaven isn’t about feeling good. God is not my life coach or massage therapist, with a purpose of making things swell for me. But when you align yourself with God, you can’t help being blessed. It can’t be avoided.

The things I’ve been talking about on this blog work. They are correct. It’s not my imagination. It’s revelation. It never stops working. It never stops getting better. I make little errors here and there, but fundamentally, it’s right. I don’t regret buying into a single part of it.

After all this, I almost look forward to attacking Quickbooks today. And if God can turn Quickbooks into a blessing, what can’t he bless?


Top Sneer

July 6th, 2016

When People are Down is the Best Time to Kick Them

Today over breakfast, I watched the latest episode of Top Gear. I mean the real Top Gear, not the Australian mess or the twice-euthanized American version.

I must humbly confess; I was dumbstruck by the confirmation of my rightness.

A while back, I wrote that one of the Beeb’s mistakes was hiring Matt LeBlanc. I said it was a mistake because he was so much better than the other hosts. If they had filled his spot with another mediocrity, it would have taken fans longer to realize how awful Chris Evans, Rory Reid, and Chris Harris were. It would have taken them longer to realize Sabine Schmitt (did I spell it right this time?) belongs in a Stig suit, not a star’s dressing room.

WOW, was I right. I was so right it hurts. I may need Oxycontin to dull the pain of rightness overload.

Today the show started out with…someone…talking about…something. I’ve forgotten already. Once again, I was reminded of Top Gear’s most conspicuous new feature…the fast-forward button.

After that, I believe Rory Reid popped up. This is the guy your mom kept begging your sister to date. He is soft and comforting, and he would never cheat on your sister, and they would even share things like bunny slippers and needlepoint equipment. This time, I couldn’t take it. I zipped forward again.

Eventually, LeBlanc appeared on screen. Ahhhhh.

He was reviewing a bizarre retro 911. “Retro 911″…I repeat myself. Anyway, Porsche decided to build a new 911 with no turbo and a real stickshift. It’s not a computerized toaster. It’s not a smartphone on wheels that shoots around the track on its own and then emails you a Snapchat video. It’s a car, and it’s controlled by a part known as a “human being.”

In his reaction to the car, LeBlanc displayed something previously unseen on the new show: passion.

He hopped in the 911 and drove it around the test track. His voice grew soft. His eyes shone. His hands shook. He kept telling the crowd he was in ecstasy. Was it real? Who knows? He’s an actor. William Shatner wasn’t really mad when he fought Ricardo Montalban. But LeBlanc convinced me. At least as well as I was convinced by a bald Jewish sci-fi actor wearing shoe lifts and a girdle.

Car shows shouldn’t be about numbers and electronics. They should be about the pleasure we get from cars. In LeBlanc’s short segment, we got a taste of that.

I can picture LeBlanc lying under his car on a Sunday next to a pile of wrenches and snap-ring pliers, fumbling for a beer can standing just outside the limit of his peripheral vision. Chris Evans? Not so much. I can picture him calling a mechanic to run over and fix the low tire pressure on his frame-off-restored Lamboghini Miura. “It says 24! It’s supposed to say 35! What’s wrong with it?”

Evans is supposed to be a car buff and collector, but it’s not credible.

He did a ridiculous segment on companies that take old English sports cars and rebuild them with modern parts that make them work better. For example, the headlights actually come on. He started with an Aston DB5. Then he did something really dumb: he talked about the Jaguar E Type (pant pant) restoration made by Eagle. We’ve already seen that at least twice. Clarkson (PBUH PBUH) covered it already.

Then he did the unthinkable. He rolled out an MG that cost over a hundred thousand pounds.

Somewhere in his cranium, the wires just aren’t touching.

MG has never made a sports car. They have never made a good looking car. They made ugly-cute convertibles for women, gays, and old men.


Think, Evans. Think.

As I was watching the segment and listening to him talk about the car’s 300+ horsepower, I said out loud, “The only part they kept was the one they should have thrown out: the body.”

What the MG restorers did was like transplanting Isaac Newton’s brain into a cancer patient. They got the whole transplant ethos backward. You’re supposed to put good stuff into good stuff. You don’t scour the world looking for new kidneys for Charles Manson.

Evans (Clarkson is equally at fault) demonstrated shocking ignorance of a fact every American knows: any car can be restored and improved, and you don’t have to pay the cost of a house to have it done. Evans and Clarkson seem to think the Eagle people did something no one else can do. Hello? Here in the US, it’s so common we have a word for it: “resto-mod.” And there are hundreds or thousands of shops that can do it for five figures.

I record a show called Fantomworks. It’s about a guy in the DC area who restores cars. Personally, I wouldn’t think of taking a car to him, because he takes old cars that are worth maybe $20,000 in showroom condition and charges people a hundred grand to fix them. But whatever you want done, he can do. An Eagle E Type resto-mod runs around a million dollars. I guarantee you, the Fantomworks boys can do it for less. And there are a dozen shows about other garages that do the same thing.

Open any American hot rod magazine. What do you see? Stunning resto-mods that didn’t cost a million dollars apiece to make.

I paused the program when the ridiculous MG appeared. I want breakfast to stay put. Spending a fortune to fix this thing is like spending a fortune to remaster a William Hung album.

I guess I’ll turn the show back on and see if there’s anything else I can stand to watch. I already blew through the celebrity laps. They’re unbearable. That type of segment is inherently boring, which is why Clarkson kept it short and fast. Evans prolongs it! Insane! He always has two celebrities instead of one, and they’re likely to be boring English celebrities I’ve never heard of. It goes on forever. “What kind of motor did you have when you were 17? Fiat Panda? Jolly good. Let’s look at 15 grainy photos while I say things that aren’t funny.”

I’m fast-forwarding. Oh, no. There’s some sort of “challenge” thing, involving all 53 of the new hosts. No. No. No. I do not want to spend another ten minutes feeling sorry for Rory Reid and Chris Harris.

It has LeBlanc in it, but that’s no help. You can fix an Italian jacket by taking a stain out of it. You can’t fix a stain by adding an Italian jacket to it.

Evans is still wearing those smelly-looking jeans and the ridiculous 1975 punk rocker boots. Where did he get jeans with legs that thin? They look like they’re stuck to his skin. As much as he wears them, they probably are.

One good thing about LeBlanc’s tenure is that it shows that a US version of the show would work just fine. I mean a US version that wasn’t done really badly. A version without Rutledge Wood. A version with a test track, a live audience, celebrities, and writers.

A version with a trio of meat-eating Republicans who aren’t pansies.

It will never happen.

Imagine Top Gear with Donald Trump, Matt LeBlanc, and James Woods. Who cares if Trump doesn’t know cars? He’s the most entertaining conservative alive. He could criticize foreign cars and maybe start his own sports car company to crush Porsche.

Trump: My lap was the fastest.

LeBlanc: Actually, it was the slowest.

Trump: I won!

Woods: Excuse me–Carrot Top’s dad–you lost.

Trump: It was YUUUUUUUGE!

Instead of the Stig, they could have Ted Nugent. The Nuge. “My lap time would have been better, but I had to swerve to run down some hippies.”

Oh, well. Amazon’s show is supposed to air eventually, and maybe in a year it will be in syndication on channels people actually watch.

And the new show isn’t a total loss. I can think of three guys who are really enjoying it.


Love Letter to Myself

July 3rd, 2016

I am my Own Old Flame

Yesterday, through an odd twist of events, I ended up reading a letter I wrote to my mother when I was in college. When I was SUPPOSED to be in college. My family was a disaster, and I was hanging outside the fabric of society like a bit of loose yarn on a sweater.

The letter really opened my eyes.

Many writers want to throw up when they read things they’ve written in the past. Not me. I’m almost always pleasantly surprised. Even when I read things I said, which I no longer agree with, I generally feel good about the quality of the writing and thought. The old letter was an exception to the rule. It reminded me of something I had forgotten. It reminded me of what I used to be.

One of the greatest things God has shown me is that correction is the best thing there is, apart from salvation.

When you say something negative about a person, it falls into one of two categories: condemnation or correction, i.e. constructive criticism.

Condemnation is for people who will not improve. It’s what the King James Bible calls “judgment.” If you criticize someone, knowing it won’t help him, it’s condemnation. It may be necessary to do this from time to time, usually inwardly, in order to avoid continued involvement with people who can’t be blessed. You shouldn’t do it without a good purpose. You shouldn’t do it for the pleasure of hurting people or getting revenge.

Correction is for people who can change. To correct is to open a door to freedom and victory.

I think about these things every day, and I work to get correction in my daily prayers. One consequence of this is that I am now fairly ruthless with myself. I try to find ways to take responsibility for problems other people and spirits helped cause, as though I were the only one who did wrong. To take responsibility for a thing is to take power over it.

I like to say that all the problems you have after you turn 18 are your own fault. I say this because I used to blame other people, and it made things worse. I gave my parents much of the blame for the way my life turned out, and by refusing to take responsibility, I dug myself deeper into the hole.

Obviously, then, I am extremely reluctant to blame other people now. But when I looked at that letter, I remembered how my upbringing crippled me. Looking back on it, I understood that whatever I am now, it’s a wonder I’m not in an institution, or dead. My sister ended up in a homeless shelter. That could have been me.

I was raised in an atmosphere of abuse. In my case, the abuse was generally verbal, coupled with neglect. I was insulted and barked at all the time. I was made to understand that I was wrong about everything, and that if I spoke or asked questions, I was likely to be driven off with my heart pounding, looking–literally–for a place to hide until the storm passed. When others were abused, I would sit behind my bedroom door in the middle of the night, waiting for the sounds of abuse to stop.

When I was a teenager, I had no confidence whatsoever. I barely had any involvement with girls; I ruined my opportunities with my lack of certainty. It was hard for me to stand up for myself. When someone mistreated me, I suddenly felt the same way I had felt at home during outbreaks of abuse. Instead of trying to set things straight, I wanted to say or do whatever it took to make it stop. I had been conditioned to feel that any effort to defend myself would make things much worse. I had been taught that I could not do anything to help myself.

I had no goals, except to escape. I used to go for long drives and wish I had somewhere to go, so I would not have to come back. I only worked hard enough to avoid getting F’s. I never thought in terms of accomplishment. I thought in terms of avoiding suffering, and even temporary relief was worth pursuing, regardless of the cost.

I knew things were screwed up. I tried to fix it. I looked for secular heroes. I ran to all sorts of unlikely messiahs. One was Fritz Perls, the founder of gestalt therapy. I thought he was brilliant, but he was really just a dirty old man who hated his parents. His answer to life’s problems was to discard his parents and feed his giant ego and goatlike lust, without thinking about other the way he hurt other people.

I read books by people who believed self-esteem was the path to nirvana. It was very appealing. I had no self-esteem at all, unless negative self-esteem counts. I internalized the abuse I had received from others. When they weren’t around, internally, I insulted myself throughout the day, repeating the things they would have said. Believing in myself and praising myself gave me relief from that; it took away the pain, the way morphine takes away the pain of a broken bone. It was the wrong way to go. I didn’t know that.

I applied to a grand total of three colleges. Columbia accepted me. Yale sent my application back because it was late. Dartmouth waitlisted me. I went to Columbia. As a college student, I was totally ineffective. No one had taught me how to organize my life and get things done. All I wanted was to get drunk and make trouble. Animal House was my source of guidance. I tried to relive it.

I couldn’t deal with the challenges of college life. My freshman advisor quit during the first semester, and my English class moved to a new building. I didn’t do what was necessary to get a new advisor, and I missed class for six weeks because I didn’t want to deal with the administration. I hated talking to people in authority. They intimidated me, and I knew that if they asked me questions, I would have to tell them things that would get me in more trouble. Also, to be honest, the administration at Columbia was fairly useless. They didn’t do much to help people in trouble.

I fell under a lot of bad influences. Bad influences were pretty much the only kind Columbia had to offer. I thought I was going to be a writer, so I wrote a lot, and I took classes in writing and literature. Columbia was still wilting under the demonic spell of fools like Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, like a high school girl in the back seat of a car with a third-string college quarterback. The atmosphere was godless, debauched, and pessimistic. I drank it in.

I read Henry Miller. I thought he was wonderful. He was a wicked old crank and probably a sociopath, but he seemed to be getting over on the system.

More and more, self-esteem and self-determination seemed to be the answers. I made a conscious, proactive, overt effort to become proud, to the point where I gave myself a nickname that started with “Arrogant.” I wanted to be so self-assured, no one could shake me. I was building my own little internal Tower of Babel.

I saw these things yesterday in the letter I wrote. I saw the effects they had on me. I was dramatic and emotional, like one of the English Romantic poets. I kept praising my own talent. I was trying to make myself believe I could do something. My parents had no faith in me at all. They didn’t think I could accomplish anything. My answer was to go way overboard, trying to supply what I couldn’t get from them.

I was nearly insane. My handwriting looked like the scrawl of a potential serial killer. I was clinging to anything that would keep me from sliding into complete despair. It made me almost deranged. Almost delusional. I needed help, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. My desire for help and my suffering didn’t matter. No one gave me what I needed, and when I tried to give it to myself, I became more warped.

I had forgotten about this. It’s hard to relate to. My mind is completely different now. I have more peace. I’m not afraid of people. I don’t go to bed at night and hold onto myself and shift in bed, wondering what will become of me. God has worked a tremendous amount of healing and restoration in me, so it’s a shock to remember how I used to feel.

Now I’m thinking about this, trying to draw the right conclusions. I have to take responsibility for what I am; I can’t pin it on others. At the same time, I look back and realize I didn’t stand a chance. I couldn’t turn myself into a good student or a competent person. I was the only person I had to rely on, and I was running on fumes. I had almost nothing to give myself.

You can’t breastfeed yourself; you run into the same principles that govern thermodynamics. You have to have input from outside.

I’m still responsible for what happened. I chose not to pray when I was young. I looked in the wrong direction. There is no getting around that. I didn’t want to serve God. Maybe I would have wanted to serve him, had I not been immersed in slander about him. Those who slandered him to me are accountable, but I am still responsible. I knew he was God.

Looking at that letter makes me think about the way I view people who don’t believe in God. They are as lost and wrong as I was. Their blindness and deafness are extremely profound. What hope is there for any of them unless God does them a giant favor, steps in, and gives them supernatural faith and remorse? None, I suppose.

My misery was a blessing. Had I been successful, I would have thought everything was fine, and I would still be on rails, sliding toward damnation. A lot of famous, greatly admired people have awakened suddenly in hell, wondering where their limos and personal assistants went.

I have to be aware of the wrong others have done to me, and I have to acknowledge it. The truth is important, regardless of its nature. You’re not supposed to forget the bad things people have done or pretend they didn’t happen. You’re not supposed to lie about them to make them look better. At the same time, I can’t hold onto anger or blame others for my problems. If I do that, they defeat me twice.

If you want your kids to do well, there are two important things you have to do. You have to teach them to know the Holy Spirit, and you have to support them emotionally. These things are more important than food, education, clothing, and shelter, because meeting internal needs results in the meeting of external needs. There are many kids on this planet whose material needs are met, who would be better off if their parents died. That sounds terrible, but it’s unquestionably true. Many parents wreck their children, to the extent that almost any adopted parents would be better.

I still take responsibility for what I did with my lfe, but I don’t feel as bad about it as I did last week. I see now that I’m very blessed to be doing as well as I am. My sister didn’t get what I got, and my mother died young after a miserable life. My dad doesn’t know God. I’m doing better than all of them.

Don’t fool with prosperity preachers, positive-thinking preachers, or the old-line clergymen who teach you garbage about pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. You need the charity of God, provided through the Holy Spirit. You need handouts, not paychecks or bribes. Improvement of the self is job one, after receiving salvation. If you know that, you will avoid a lot of blind alleys. You will eventually come out on top.


Thistle Give You Hope

July 2nd, 2016

Progress Isn’t Always Pretty

A friend of mine is taking serious steps to get aligned with God, and he has all sorts of problems. People let him down constantly. Things go wrong for him. He got in trouble with the law, in a moment of completely inexplicable irresponsibility. He has all sorts of financial issues because of his credit history, and because his legal problems–combined with Miami’s Spanish-first policy–make it hard for him to get employers interested.

If you think bilingualism is a great idea, wait until you try to get a job in Miami. It’s no wonder Cubans think it’s heaven. They get first dibs on every job because of their remarkable and unique refusal to learn the language of the country that saved them. Strange way to thank us.

He still makes a lot of mistakes, but I keep working with him, because I know he’s not joking about fixing his life. Also, I know I’m going through the same thing, even if my experience is not nearly as difficult as his.

The other day while I was in prayer, I got a picture in my mind. I don’t mean a magical vision; just something that occurred to me. I thought of a dirty, blind canal full of dead fish, floating turtle grass, and junk.

When you aren’t led by the Holy Spirit, you’re off course. You’re like a boat that has turned up a blind canal. A canal that goes nowhere will fill up with crap over time, and at the end of it, there is nothing but a concrete wall.

If you cruise up a blind canal, you will have to go by all sorts of obstacles. The debris in the canal will be in your way the whole time. When you wise up and turn around, things don’t improve right away. In order to get out, you’ll have to go through the same mess you passed on the way in.

My friend and I–you are probably in the same situation–putted our way up our blind canals for a long time. Then we reluctantly, grudgingly turned around, and we expected everything to be fine. Of course, that isn’t what happened. The junk was still there, and now we are cruising through it.

Today I thought of this, in connection with the work I’m doing, putting my dad’s financial transactions in Quickbooks. I don’t mean to whine (this time), but it’s the opposite of fun. I had to study accounting briefly, which is just about the most boring thing a human being can do, and then I had to learn how to use the program. I also had to get special materials to make it work with rental properties. Now I sit for hours every day, entering checks and bills.

It’s a drag, but it was predictable. For years, I tried to get my dad to keep track of things week by week instead of all at once, during a yearly two-month period of hell. He would not listen. By the time I got ahold of things, over a year’s worth of transactions had to be dealt with.

The work I’m doing is not fun, but the main reason it’s not fun is because my dad sowed for it over a period of decades. If he had been doing what he should, I would be entering current transactions, which would be relatively quick. Because he didn’t, I’ve been entering things going back to December of 2014. The work of entering transactions has been multiplied by about 18.

In a couple of weeks, I won’t hate Quickbooks any more. I’ll love it. I’ll tell people how wonderful it is. I’ll be living in the world of a responsible person doing maintenance, not that of a goofball doing tons of remedial work.

I brought it all on myself. I’m not saying other people didn’t screw up. I’m saying I let a lot of things pile up over the years, and now I’m paying for it. I don’t know if I could have made my dad use accounting software, but I am confident that one way or another, God would have arranged things so this experience would have been much better.

The Quickbooks thing is but one example of old, creaky problems I’m having to fix now.

God aligns things. He straightens our paths. The promises of the Bible are true, but they’re only true for people who truly give themselves to him, and when you change your ways, things don’t necessarily change instantaneously.

God doesn’t just do repairs; he also puts thorns in our paths to show us we’re screwing up. Or he merely lets others put thorns in our paths.

When I was living in Israel, I saw a very strange thing: impenetrable walls of thistles. You would really have to see these things for yourself in order to believe it. They looked like something out of a movie. The plants they grew on were very tall; they must have been seven or eight feet in height. They grew right against each other, so you couldn’t walk between them. They were covered with razor-sharp thorns. There is no way a human being could get through them. I couldn’t even see through them.

I think about that sometimes. Israel was arranged by God to illustrate Biblical principles. I think those creepy thistles were there to show the Jews what life was like without his help.

In some ways, we expect too little from God, and in other ways we expect too much. We don’t think he’ll fix our lives, so we stick with our own stupid plans. Once we turn around, we expect him to make everything wonderful overnight.

The things at which you fail are signposts, telling you you’re going the wrong way. It’s that simple. If you want to get past them, you have to stop leading yourself. When you accept God’s leadership, you will start to defeat your obstacles, but you shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t clear up all at once.

I eagerly await the day when I can honestly say I like Quickbooks. I may throw a party. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be deductible.

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The Flood is Rising

July 1st, 2016

Get Your Holy Ghost Water Wings

Motivational speakers make a living retelling lies. One famous lie is, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” I love that one. No, that’s not insanity. That’s persistence. Insanity is thinking you’re a chicken or running down the street naked, rubbing your own excrement into your hair. Thinking the CIA put listening devices in your fillings is insanity. Doing the same thing over and over is pretty much normal; we all accept the fact that doing things right often produces bad results, so we don’t give up.

Isn’t telling the same lies to different crowds (who don’t improve) insane, according to the motivational-speaker definition?

Another big lie is the frog story. You put a frog in a pan of cold water, and you turn on the heat. The water heats so slowly, the frog doesn’t realize it. Eventually it boils to death. Yeah, okay. Try that and see what happens. Even a frog knows when it’s being scalded.

Nonetheless, the frog lie illustrates a valid point: human beings don’t notice slow change. Somebody has to slap us to get us to see it.

Case in point: Internet filth.

There was a time when you couldn’t say “condom” in front of your grandmother at the dinner table. That all changed with the venereal disease explosion in the 1980’s. Driven by gay promiscuity, AIDS seemed to threaten to kill all of us, and suddenly, we were shamed for being unwilling to talk about condoms at every conceivable opportunity.

That was gross, but the Internet made things a lot worse. Today, unfortunate phrases like “nip slip” and “upskirt” appear not just on porn sites, but on the evening news, and while I wouldn’t swear to it, the President has probably used the word “d*****bag” at least once in the State of the Union Address.

The water is hot. The frogs haven’t noticed.

I’m surfing the web in order to procrastinate. I guess I’ve put in half an hour. So far, without going to a porn site, I have seen two naked people and one woman wearing a bikini that reveals a big percentage of her pubic region. One of the naked people was a woman straddling a man. I’m not even trying, and this stuff is coming at me.

I wish we could go back to 1975 and transport people into 2016 for brief visits, so we could show them TV and the Internet and see what they thought. They would probably go back and start smoking and overeating, hoping to die before they got here. We are surrounded by lust and perversion, along with every kind of uncleanness. Gay marriage. Transsexuals in the military. The idiotic pro-public-nudity movement. We live in a time when people who say homosexuality is wrong are treated like child molesters.

If the change had occured in a day, we would be shocked beyond words, but it took 40 years, so most of us don’t even know it happened.

The big problem with this is that it wrecks our relationships with the Holy Spirit, who is our only source of help. There is a limit to how intimately he will associate with a filthy person who doesn’t listen. The devil knows that, and he’s terrified of God, so he spreads filth everywhere.

When I was in high school, I read a funny book called Superfolks. It was about a Superman-like hero who had gone soft. He was from the planet Cronk, and he was allergic to matter from his planet, appropriately called “Cronkite.” His arch enemy neutralized him by putting Cronkite in everything. Over time, the hero turned into a mushy couch potato who posed no threat at all.

Satan must have read that book.

Most people don’t think about the assault we’re experiencing. They think it’s fine, because they have no idea who the Holy Spirit is, what he can do for them, and how much they need him. They don’t think about minimizing the filth in their lives, because they don’t know it repels God. They welcome filth. If the average male sees something dirty pop up on his TV or monitor, he’s happy about it, and he stares intently. The people who produce this junk promote it with no sense of shame at all. They’re very proud of it. And I’m talking about people like network TV executives, not Larry Flynt.

Once you start trying to clean up, you realize how bad the problem is. Even if you don’t deliberately seek out sexual stimulation, it pounces on you from unexpected directions. You can’t go to the beach. You can’t turn the TV on. You can’t walk through a mall. Thanks to the breastfeeding fanatics, you can’t even sit in a restaurant.

You don’t realize how broken something is until you try to fix it.

Liberals and other God-haters keep saying we should be more concerned about violence and cruelty than sexual sin, but that’s stupid. The sexual urge is very, very strong, especially in men. It is extremely persistent. The urge to be violent or cruel is not like that. It’s not universal, it’s weak, and in most people, it only flares up briefly, on isolated occasions. Most of us try to resist it, because we think it’s bad. It offers the enemy less power over us than sex.

Look at it this way: how many people do you know whose lives were screwed up through sex, and how many do you know who ruined their lives with violence or cruelty? The list of violent people will be way, way shorter. Sex is simply not as dangerous, on an individual level, as violence. The devil knows that, and it’s why he works harder to promote sexual sin.

Many, many famous people have been destroyed by sexual sin, whether their own or that of others. Let’s see. Marvin Gorman. Jimmy Swaggart. Charlie Sheen. Bill Clinton. Denny Hastert. Anthony Weiner. Larry Craig. David Vitter. General Petraeus. Ted Haggard. Jim Bakker. Eliot Spitzer. Rock Hudson. Liberace. Prince. Michael Jackson. Anthony Perkins. Freddie Mercury. Amanda Blake (yes, Miss Kitty), Rudolf Nureyev, Brad Davis, Peter Allen, Paganini, Karen Blixen, Al Capone, Oscar Wilde, Ryan White, Arthur Ashe, Kimberly Bergalis…how many names do you want?

There are billions of people with sexual addictions. There aren’t many people who are addicted to violence. If the condition exists at all, it’s sufficiently rare to be considered a mental illness. We think intense lust is normal. And guess what? Many famous prolific murderers, if not all, are actually sex offenders. They murder in the pursuit of sexual pleasure. Think I’m making that up? Have you heard of Ted Bundy? Jeffrey Dahmer? John Wayne Gacy? Gary Heidnik? Wayne Williams? Richard Speck?

Serial killers keep souvenirs from their crimes so they can look at them later while they pleasure themselves. It’s like pornography to them. One investigator got a murderer to talk by putting one of his souvenirs where he could see it. He became sexually aroused by the memory of raping and murdering a little boy, and he dropped his guard. The son of my dad’s former law partner was raped, murdered, and dismembered by a sex-driven killer.

God-haters tell us sexual sins are victimless. Tell that to the children of a divorced couple. Tell it to hemophiliacs who have AIDS. Tell it to people who were born with syphilis. Tell it to a first wife. Good luck with that.

I know I’m not going to change anything by writing this. That’s not my motivation. I’m just commenting on something I find remarkable. I feel like I’m looking out the rear window of the Enola Gay, remarking on the explosion.

God gave me a sudden supernatural increase in my own self-control. I could never have managed that on my own. I used to think sexual sin was just fine, or that I had an expense account in heaven, so I could do what I wanted as long as I asked for forgiveness. I worked sexual iniquity deeply into my being, over decades. I could not have gotten rid of it on my own. The Holy Spirit lifted me to a better level, without my help. All I did was ask and wait. Without his help, I would still be walking in the same circle. If he stops helping, I’ll go right back.

Most other people aren’t going to receive his help, because they aren’t even asking. They think nothing is wrong; people will actually pay for phony pills to increase their sex drive. They will never have good relationships with the Holy Spirit, so they will be weak and defeated until they die. They will think defeat is victory.

Remember the book and movie, Hannibal? Dr. Lecter decided he didn’t like a pedophile, because as a murderer, torturer, and cannibal, he was morally superior. He gave the pedophile drugs, which the pedophile liked, and then he told the pedophile to cut his own face off and feed it to his dogs. The whole time, the pedophile was enjoying himself. Lecter was supposed to be helping the court analyze the man, but here Lecter was, being the best pal ever, helping him fool the silly old judge. Then the pedophile woke up with no face and a broken neck. Oops.

That’s what life without correction is like. The devil convinces us to destroy ourselves, and the whole time, we think we’re winning and that our fangs are dripping tiger blood.

It’s great to beat your enemy when he fights back, but it’s a thousand times sweeter to get him to destroy himself while you watch. Satan loves deceit, because it turns us into our own murderers. And it certainly saves work.

I wish I had something useful to say, but I don’t think that’s the case, so I’ll just settle for interesting.


Awl for the Better

June 30th, 2016

Or “I’m Awl Ears”

A while back, I wrote about habits and the way they run our lives. I am getting new revelation on the subject, and it’s coming through an unfortunate source.

When I was young, I figured I was safe from dementia. My great-grandfather lived to be 100, with full control of his mind. My grandfather was a little forgetful, but he was able to practice law at 85. He had sisters who grazed or passed the century mark without losing it. I assumed genetics were on my side.

In 2014, my father’s older sister died. She was obese. She was demented. In her case, doctors believed strokes caused the problem, but she was an angry, irritable, bossy person, and she was probably never less than a hundred pounds overweight, so her habits probably caused her downfall. Also, she was a Mormon, so she didn’t have any useful knowledge to help her beat her problems.

When she died, it became obvious that my genes were not as good as I had thought.

Now my dad is having problems, and I have to look after him. I am learning things.

He decided to make a five-figure investment in his real estate. It looked like a good idea to me, but I didn’t push it. I had looked into it, but I was not planning to follow up. He made the decision.

I made the arrangements, and then I told my dad we had to meet with the salesman to firm things up and provide a deposit. Before the salesman arrived, my dad started asking why we wanted to do it. He had forgotten, and I had to go back over the story.

Here’s the interesting thing: he forgot the decision to buy, because that was a factual matter. He remembered that he didn’t like to spend money, because that was a habit. Dementia destroys your ability to recall facts, but habits aren’t facts, so they persist.

I have a young friend who gives hospice care to old people, most of whom are demented. I talk to her and get her advice, and she confirms my observations. She says dementia never changes people’s habits. You can forget a fact, but you can’t forget a character trait.

What does that mean, on a practical level?

The other day, I wrote a blog post, and I said good habits were like slaves that work for nothing. They do what you want done, 24 hours a day, with little input from you. Last night, God showed me the other edge of the sword: bad habits are slave drivers. They goad you all day, every day, even when you resist.

This is obvious when you see it stated concisely, but I didn’t think of it that way before. I didn’t think of the terms “slave” and “slave driver” in close juxtaposition.

For a long time, I’ve been telling people they need to clean up their personalities while they’re young, because when they get old and lose their minds, all the bad things will persist, and they will be socially isolated because people will not be able to stand them. It’s not great advice, because people who are irritating and unpleasant are not the kind of people who take advice. But it’s true. It would be good advice, if the people who needed it were able to act on it.

If you’re arrogant, and you think you’re always right, you will still be that way when you’re wearing diapers and being fed with a spoon. Same thing goes for lust, greed, and whatever other habitual flaws you have.

My mother’s mother became demented at the very end of her life. She had always liked telling people what to do. One day she made the following announcement: “I want to be the boss.” Just like that. It’s funny, but it’s also instructive. When you get old and demented, it’s like your clothes fall off, and all the stuff you used to hide pops out.

Here I am in middle age, with slave drivers I chose to empower. At first I didn’t know the Holy Spirit. After that, I knew him, but I chose to do my own thing. The other spirits…lust, greed, pride, dishonesty, anger, whatever…those, I listened to. The Holy Spirit’s liberating influence was stifled, and the filthy, stupid influence of the others was magnified. It was like an eclipse, where the moon, which is lifeless, comes between you and the sun.

The Old Testament provided for slavery. If you wanted another person to take care of you, you stood by the door of the house, and that person took an awl and shoved it through your ear, into the doorpost. After that, you had to serve him. For slaves who were Hebrews, the length of the service was limited, but I don’t want to get into that.

Doorways symbolize the gates of perception. They symbolize our senses, which are doorways to our hearts and minds. When we let foreign spirits in, we let them penetrate our ears at the doorways to our inner parts. The symbolism is obvious.

Once a spirit gets in, it builds a stronghold of habit, and it’s hard to evict, because your own flesh and mind work to keep it in place.

If I can’t get God’s help and receive deliverance, and I later lose my mind, all the gross parts of my personality will be in control and on display, and I will be totally powerless.

Supposedly, the body of George Custer was mutilated with an awl. A person claiming to be a witness said a squaw shoved an awl deep into both of his ears, into his brain, because he was a man who would not listen. Interesting.

We don’t understand how bad our situation is, or how filthy and how close to hell this world is. We don’t see anything wrong, so we think defeat is victory, and we don’t try to do anything about it. Sooner or later, anyone who doesn’t get free will see the spirits he served while he lived. My feeling is that it’s better to boot them out while I’m still breathing.

Pray in the Spirit to get revelation and faith. Never make an excuse to God. Never try to defend yourself. Always ask what you’re doing wrong, and how you can fix it. If you keep doing these things, the clouds will start to part. If not, try to enjoy being the tail and not the head.

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Reverse Gear

June 29th, 2016

The Pun Mine is Deep Indeed

I watched a little bit of Top Gear with breakfast today. What a horror.

Chris Evans showed up, wearing the same seemingly smelly outfit he has worn on every episode, topped off with a plaid hunter’s cap that would make Elmer Fudd turn up his nose. He screamed his way through a review of a British lightweight roadster, and after two or three minutes, I had to fast forward. Up side: if he threw up, I didn’t have to see it.

Matt LeBlanc followed up, reviewing a gorgeous blue Rolls-Royce convertible. What a contrast. He was relaxed, as though buzzed on warm bitter. He was witty. His comic delivery was magnificent.

It made me realize there are two things wrong with Top Gear. First, they hired Matt LeBlanc. Second, the talent is the talent.

Hiring Matt LeBlanc was a bad idea, because he’s so good, he throws the badness of the rest of the crew into very sharp relief. They stink on ice. They are unredeemable. But for the presence of LeBlanc, their lack of ability might cause me less suffering.

The young guys are a big danger to the show, because neither one does a good job, yet they look better than Evans, so the suits are pretty likely to bump Evans off and promote one or both of them. It would be a classic tone-deaf corporate move.

Chris Harris, the angry-looking bald guy, has almost no personality. He hollers a fair amount, although less than Chris Evans, but he never says anything funny or interesting. Top Gear is a comedy show; an unfunny host can’t be made to function within that frame. He needs to go.

Rory Reid, the nonthreatening black guy, has the soft, reassuring presence of a chubby maiden aunt with whiskers. He is just as not funny as Harris, and his personality has no edges. Watching him is like being a girl in a movie theater sitting next to a guy who will always, always be in the friend zone. It’s like a sympathy date.

As for the show’s second problem, I guess I need to clarify. When I say, “The talent is the talent,” I mean all the talent that matters is on screen. The writers and producers didn’t make the show work. Clarkson, Hammond, and May did. That’s why they succeed on other shows, even when they’re apart.

Many shows are not like that. Take Breaking Bad, for example. When the show ended, people scrambled to hire Bryan Cranston, thinking he would pack theaters the same way he packed living rooms. It didn’t happen. Why? Because he wasn’t the engine pulling the train. Vince Gilligan (the creator) and the writers did that. Vince Gilligan could create a great show using crash test dummies. It really doesn’t matter who the actors are. They’re just sock puppets.

Joss Whedon is like Vince Gilligan. He created some shows that were very good, and when you watch them, you think the actors are fantastic. They’re not. Joss Whedon and his writers are fantastic. Usually (ahem Ultron). Firefly is my favorite show of all time, but I don’t flip channels looking for Jewel Staite and Nathan Fillion, because they didn’t create the magic.

The Beeb needs to fire everyone except LeBlanc and Eddie Jordan and start over. But they won’t. They’ll fire Evans eventually, probably after another awful year, and they’ll promote the boring kids, who will fail worse than he did. LeBlanc will disappear unless–maybe even if–they open the British treasury to him. Although with Britain’s welfare system, it’s probably full of old biscuit tins and IOU’s.

Like ours.

Except not biscuit tins. Maybe Cheetos bags and Air Jordan boxes.

Does this mean the Clarkson triumvirate won? I don’t think so. Not exactly.

The triplets moved on to Amazon Prime, which nobody watches. Okay, yes, they’ll get paid a lot, and they’ll have a huge budget, but what difference does it make if no one sees it?

Jeff Bezos thinks he can make people watch Amazon the way they watch cable. He’s probably right. In 2025. He’s like Elon Musk; he has a great idea that doesn’t work yet. I think Clarkson, Hammond and Mays will sacrifice two years out of the primes of their careers in the name of electronic progress.

Will Bezos syndicate the show so people can actually see it? I think so, although he’s nuts, so he might not. He may have the Apple psychosis. He may want to keep everything in the family, to the point where he makes his company a marginal player perpetually on life support. If he does syndicate, it will be at least spring of 2017 before we get our fix. By the time a sizeable demographic gets to see fresh shows with the troika again, the boys may be doing their mobility scooter episode all over, for totally different reasons.

The US version of the show has been canceled again (thank you, inept History Channel execs and Rutledge Wood), so at least we don’t have to worry about being plagued with that. I hope this time they pounded a stake into it and buried it under garlic. Last time, the execution didn’t take.

Fairly credible news stories now say LeBlanc (and everyone else in the organization) can’t bear Chris Evans, and that LeBlanc will leave if Evans stays. I guess there is hope, but there are a lot of ways for the Beeb to make things worse, and there aren’t many ways to make it right. When you rely on blind luck instead of competence, you are chance’s plaything, and the odds in this game are not good.

I still say they should hire Jason Statham and pay him anything he wants, plus all the rain and bad British food he can handle.

That’s today’s gripe. Now I must go and do something useful. Briefly.


Pipe Dreams

June 26th, 2016

My Joint Ventures are Faring Poorly

Unbelievably, I had to re-re-redo the PVC pipes on my pool pump. I’m starting to think PVC is cursed.

I fixed it last month, and then I waited for the pump shed to dry out. I figured I could continue cleaning and improving once the water was gone. I went out there a couple of days ago to check on things, and the floor was still wet.

Worse, the accumulation of dirt and leaves covering the floor was still wet.

Here in South Florida, all pool guys are English-deaf. You can’t tell them anything. And if you do, it doesn’t matter, because they won’t do it, or they will be replaced in three weeks by new people who didn’t get el memo. I figured the persistent water problem was caused by the pool guy’s continuing failure to tighten the pump lid down, and by my continuing failure to check it whenever he left the property.

Yesterday I took a closer look, and water was dripping from my new pipe system. Incredible.

The crud on the floor was there because all landscape guys in this area are English-deaf. They are also unable to use rakes. They use leaf blowers for everything. You can’t tell them not to use leaf blowers, and the blowers blow dirt and leaves into every opening available. Over the years, it adds up.

I got a shovel, a hoe, and a shop-vac, and I removed a tremendous amount of dirt and plant matter. I actually saw the concrete floor; it’s not just a myth. It’s really there.

Before I got into this mess, I hated slip joints. A slip joint is a place where a pipe slides into a fitting. It has no threads. You have to cement it together, and after that, you can’t take it apart. I hated them because I thought they were a copout, and because they turn repairable systems into replaceable systems. If you have one bad fitting in a big conglomeration of parts that are cemented together, there is a good chance you’ll have to throw everything out and start over. I liked threaded joints, which can be taken apart.

I now think slip joints rock, and I hate threaded joints.

When I examined my pipes, I found that the cemented joints were fine, and at least two threaded joints were leaking, giving me a threaded-joint failure rate of about 67%.

I had to get out the sawzall (which I don’t capitalize because it’s not a Milwaukee) and cut the pipes off the pump.

I got on the web and looked around, trying to find out what I should do. Are threaded joints just plain bad? Were my joints too tight? Were they too loose? Should I have used tape instead of dope?

Here is what I found out: dope is better than tape (yay), and doped joints have to be tightened as hard as humanly possible.

My leaking joints were very tight, but they leaked anyway. I didn’t tighten them as much as I could have, because I was afraid the fittings would split. Now my feeling is, tighten away, and if the fittings split, get new fittings. Buy extra fittings before you build your joints just in case.

This time, I took the offending structure out of the pump shed and put it in my bench vise. I tightened the joints way, way, way down, and I reinstalled everything. I had to replace one threaded joint, so I used a 24″ pipe wrench to tighten it. I used a ton of dope. I was not going to tolerate a too-dry fit that prevented the male end from bottoming, and I was not going to put up with water leaks caused by gaps in the dope.

Is this the correct way to do it? I do not know. I know that the common sense way didn’t work, so now I’m using the brute-force moron approach, and so far, I have no leaks.

I used a huge amount of cement on the new slip joints. Cement melts PVC, so presumably, if you use a lot, you end up with lots of fused plastic to prevent leaks. That is my hope.

I guarantee you, there is no one within 30 miles who would have come here and done this job correctly in exchange for money. This county is the doofus capital of the universe. Even though I’ve done it wrong twice, I still feel like I’m way ahead of the game. I only spent like a hundred bucks, and I didn’t have to yell at anyone or threaten to sue.

It’s a shame I can’t fix roofs. Don’t even get me started on that nightmare.

Here is my advice: if you have to do PVC plumbing, only use threaded fittings when you have a compelling reason. Tighten the crap out of everything, use dope instead of tape, and use lots of cement on slip joints. Buy a sawzall, too. It will cut any PVC joint ever made in under ten seconds.

Make sure you tighten your threaded joints as early as possible in the process to get them into their final form. See to it that you leave slip joints for last, because they can be wiggled and adjusted before you add the glue, helping you to get things aligned. If you move a threaded joint, you risk creating a leak.

Now watch the pipes start leaking, proving everything I just wrote is wrong.

I hate swimming pools. Biggest con since time shares.