Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Tradition

I missed writing last weekend because of the holiday but then I decided to wait until the first day of the New Year to write.


First, I just didn’t have the physical time to do so. Second, It is a long standing tradition in my world of work and family that what you do the first day of the year you will do the rest of the year.

For years from when I was just a young inspector without a home life I would be chosen to be the one to come in and work with this old man who would bring in a crew unless it was ice or snow on the ground. When I complained to him about working on a holiday he told me “Son, what you do on the first day of the year you do the rest of the year and I always work New Year ’s Day and the result I work the rest of the year.”

Well the old man got me to thinking and I realized that ever since I had been called into inspect his work on New Years’ Day I had been having a good year and I also initiated working on the first day of the year as well as doing whatever it is that I wanted to try to do the rest of the year.

Now this translate for me when I was a working inspector to review a set of plans and spec’s on a upcoming project now it is spending time in the shop working or starting on a new project. Spend a little private time with my wife, talk to all of my kids with words of encouragement and now grandkids as well. I also make sure that I listen to some good music, watch a good flick, read a good book and a good magazine article. If on a Sunday go to church if not pray and read the scriptures and spend a little time mediating on who I am and what kind of man I want to be.

Then there is the food that is consumed every New Year’s Day. There are the blackeyed peas for good fortune or luck, “eat poor on the first day and rich the rest”.  Fried okra for the green thereby attracting money to your home to help nourish your family. The meat and deserts didn’t matter it was about being sure that you consumed those two items.

Call it what you will that is ok by me but for me this I must do.  But this I do know some traditions are important that you keep up and for me the ones above are important.

On reflection as I write this it occurs to me that while I don’t write down a list of resolutions for the New Year my tradition of doing what I want to do the first day of the year so that I will do it the rest of year is kind of my own form of resolutions. Only I tend to keep mine.


Well hopefully you see the photo of the cherry wood salt & pepper shaker cabinet hanging on the wall (waxed and hung New Years’ day). I of course see every mistake and think of what I should of done instead of what I did. But that is the nature of anyone who see himself as a craftsman.  But the main thing is my wife likes it.

My next project I am thinking of is a small moveable work island for the kitchen. Still fleshing out the ideal of how I will do it.


Last week my wife came home talking about a conversation she had with a co-worker about an event down in Mexico. The story of how a naturalized US citizen, a mother and her teenage daughter were killed, and another daughter wounded by a hijacker on a bus in Mexico, while visiting relatives.  The Mexican army ultimately shot and killed the hijacker.

Their conversation was not about the event so much but why the family couldn’t afford to send the bodies back to US to be buried. The reason being the $7000 price and the fact that Mexican law requires that a dead person be buried within 48 hours. The amount of money needed and time framed didn’t allow for it.

My wife understood why but her co-worker didn’t. It was inconceivable to her as to why the family couldn’t afford to ship the bodies back. After all it was just $7000.

Because of her position in life, financially secure, a position that she has always been in just couldn’t allow her to see why the family didn’t have the money.  In her world it wasn’t a question of having it but whether you paid for with a credit card or wrote a check for it using money from the savings account.

This wasn’t  the first time my wife had this conversation with her co-worker about similar financial decisions that people make. She just couldn’t understand why people didn’t have the finances to do what they needed to do. She always had been able to.  Here is a little help in understanding my wife’s work environment. It is for a non-profit foundation that typically deals with wealthy individuals and corporations for donations and grants for the work they support. One of her co-workers for example is an acquaintance of the ex-president Bush.

A recent event sponsored in support of their organization was held on a local ranch was a guided quail hunt followed by a meal prepared by a well known Texas Chef of farm quail.  50 people I understand paid $500 a person to hunt and eat.

Anyway,  as my wife was telling me this story I understood a little of the dynamics of why there was a class war going on right now between the have’s and have not’s. Simply they the have’s cannot understand why the 99percenter could not afford to do on their own what they always have been able to.

The bottom line the rich or well off don’t’ think like the rest of us do. Never have and never will. It means we will have to take control of our government programs somehow from them to insure that those in need have what they need. For in the end they can’t understand why you and I can’t save for our old age and afford health care. Therefore can’t see the need of the social programs.

Well enough for now. Have a happy and prosperous 2012.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Free Press?

Here is a question for you. Do we have a free press?

Now last night I was awaken from sleep at 3:41 am when the power went off. While setting the time on my alarm clock I accidentally turned on the radio something that is easy to do on my “Dollar General” special alarm clock. On the radio was BBC and they were in the middle of discussion of whether there was a truly free press.

They, the commentators, were more or less in agreement in that there wasn’t. Their feelings as journalist and bloggers were that the press if anything was far from free. An example they gave was the recent scandal in England of illegal wire tapping of private citizen’s line by the Murdock news organization (think Fox News) for no other reason than looking for sensationalism that passes as news all too often.  Their position was that if there were truly a free press then the competitors would have been all over this juicy tidbit like white on rice rather than the minimum reporting that it has received.

Our glorious forefather’s that we like to use for example declared that a free press was essential to a democratic society. Yet they frequently passed and used sedition acts to limit that freedom. That even includes the great emancipator Abraham Lincoln.

On refection I must agree the so called free press is nothing more than a corporate stooge designed to be nothing more than a mouth organ for their corporate masters.

If any real news or investigating gets out it usually because the public outrage is too great and they then get on the bandwagon in an effort to do damage control. 

This damage control usually consist of setting in motion spin doctors who redirect our apparently attention deficit populace in a different direction. Once done they then take what is known and turn what Larry Beinhart called “Fog Facts” in his recent political thriller “The Librarian”.  Fog Facts are information presented so that it becomes kind of an accepted pieces of info not a disturbing pieces of news. 

How do you present a fog fact well? Well here is an ideal of one.

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Offered in a matter of fact accepted truth it doesn’t really excite anyone to act. But what if instead you took it to the next level and realized that means that those with absolute power are therefore corrupt and this includes everyone in Washington, Big Banking, and international companies. That this point is fact is hammered on in the media to such a point that you find you must act to change this. Then when the press does or allowed to do this then it becomes a free press.

Instead we are presented with national and local news items that distract us. Whether it be a national news item of where the president is spending his vacation. Or, a local news item of whether a local high school football team was cheated out of going to the playoffs by an referees bad call. This particular news item ran for three days in the D/FW area.

If any real news gets out it is usually because of a local alternative weekly newspaper,  free radio or NPR broadcast but unfortunately are not as well read or listen to as the major news industry. 

For me, well I listen almost exclusively to NPR station KERA, or a local station KNON 89.3 a commercial free radio station.  As for newspapers I read only alternative press such as “The FW Weekly” and the “Dallas Observer” two independent rags publish weekly and given away for free, that while you must work through a lot of ads for local bands and personal ads somehow still manage to put at least one expose out a week that needs to be noted. Not that it does them much good. News magazines that I read or of course based on my personal beliefs so take it for what it is worth to you but I read “Mother Jones”, “Unte” , “The Texas Observer” and “Texas Monthly” that recently awarded Governor Rick Perry their “Bum Steer of the Year” award.

Well I could go on and continue to rant but that is enough for now. My parting piece of advice would be don’t believe half of what you see, hear or read and then discount half of that again and you might be getting closer to the truth.

Projects , movies, books

Time in the shop has been working on the Cherry salt and pepper shaker display cabinet. Started one way and realize that I had to go another way with it mostly due to lack of proper tools or simply operator error. But I finally got the case together and should finish up by next week posting photos of the finish piece. 

Work on this piece reminds me that skills that are not used become rusty much like tools. So I have been thinking about projects that can one, can encourage me to continue to do something that gives me a lot of happiness doing. Two, to continue to work out ways to acquire tools that will make it easier for me to do so.

At one time I had the tools I needed but sold them off for the quick cash to use to help a family member in need. So now I need to work at getting replacement tools. A process I suspect on a fixed income may prove difficult, but not impossible. Craig’s list here I come.

Been reading HST “The Rum Diaries” and “Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books”.

I’ve also been reading Popular Mechanics  January 2012 article on “Digital Spy’s” it is enough to scare you. Take a moment to read this month issue.

Movies I found interesting has been “The State of Play” about a DC newspaper aka The Washington Post pretty good worth a 2.5 stars out of 4. Also “The Killer Elite” a movie based on true events supposedly with a number of big name stars such as Robert DiNero, Jason Straighem, and Clive Owen a 3 out of 4 stars.

Also a popular TV show that I have enjoyed mostly because it feeds my paranoia is “Persons of Interest” on CBS. Others have been the TV shows “The Grimm” on NBC, “Burn Notice” on USA or just for fun.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What Next

One of the most disturbing pieces of legislation to come out of Congress and the Senate has been a amendment to the military budget that gives the Military the right to arrest and jail indefinitely a US citizen if the military decides he or she is considered a terrorist threat. No writ of habeas corpus or basic first amendment rights.

Is it just me or is this just one step away from martial law and a fascist state. The good news is that the president is expected to veto the amendment to the defense bill.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

 Quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin says it all for me. There is not question that it would be easy to say that well I have nothing to worry about because I am not a terrorist in support of Al Qaeda. But you are missing the point it is not what is proven but rather what has been implied. It is guilty until proven innocent.   

It is bad enough that we have allowed ourselves to be photographed finger printed and DNA taken in the name of security and to have our every move outside videoed and scrutinized our phone calls scanned looking for key words. Private security companies who do not have the same oversight given carte-blanch to investigate us – by the way they are one of the fastest growth industries – all leading to loss of personal freedom.

There has to be a point that the government can no longer insert itself into our private life. If not we will once more be in a world of “1984” and “FAHRENHEIT 451”. A world of controlled existence of how we live, where we live, and what we read and how we think. 

My wife and kids tell me that I can get a little paranoid at times and that I see conspiracies when none exist. But, I say that it is what they want you to feel. That a little paranoia is not a bad thing it keeps you on your toes.  That there are individuals who are conspiring to limit our freedoms and control our lives to their gain.  So as the old saying goes “I may be paranoid but that does not mean someone is not out to get me.”

Enough ranting.

Books and project

Recently completed reading “The Librarian” by Larry Beinhart probably didn’t help my sense of paranoia sense the theme is manipulation of the election process to keep in place a GOP candidate by big money. Great story by the way and well worth getting and reading.

Starting “The Rum Diaries” by Hunter S. Thompson one of this well known founders of Gonzo Journalism  first book. If it is like some of his others “The Hell Angels” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” then I suspect I will like it.

Went out into the shop to continued on the cherry salt and pepper display cabinet and it was just to d$#@ cold. So I need to dig out my old shop heater and get it going to heat it up enough to allow these old joints of mine to function.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Grapes of Wrath

Last night I watched the old movie classic "Grapes of Wrath" and was reminded that some things never change. This old move made from John Steinbeck's novel of same name spelled out the trouble that existed then and we are now experiencing now in our own time. 

Just as then and now the issues of who is to blame pops up and the finger was pointed directly at the what we now call the "1.0 percenters" of that time and from what I can see the are the same players today even some of the name are the same.

So what changed and led to the improvement then to the prosperity of the working class folks?

Well in the movie it began with government intervention, The remembering that without a strong working class anarchy can and will rule. That with wealth comes great responsibility not just to the decedents that follow but also to the ones that help great that wealth. This is what we have forgotten that Roosevelt reminded us of and who's social programs sustained the working class until it could sustain it self.

It was the strengthening of the labor laws that made it possible for Unions to step in and bargain for better pay and benefits. The very labor laws that have been systematically dismantled since Regan was President.  It is now time to strengthen the labor laws. To quit allowing major industrial corporations to sent "OUR" work and the work of our children off to third world countries because they are not bound by the same social agreement as they are here in the USA.

The "99 er's" and the Unions that support them are right it is time we demand our fair share of the pie.

On a side note one other thing I noticed and that a author I have often of late mentioned Joe Bagneat have also noted and that the elite can aways find members of the working class to beat into submission the members of the working class who complain using their fear of loosing what little they have. This was evident in the movie and in today with the police violence we see demonstrated on TV news today on the OWS people.

By the way my mother was one of those Okie kids whos parents headed out to California to pick crops after their crops didn't make. The stories they told were similar to what you see in the movie and read in the books. Like the Joad's they also had older children who dropped off to fend for themselves to make it easier for the parents to look after the younger ones. But unlike the Joad's when they got out there saw what was going on they came back to their farm that they still owned.


Well I finished rebuilding the child's writing desk and here are a couple of photos of it even though it is still in need of another coat of black paint. I have a grandchild coming over and the wife wanted it so he could play with it.

Not sure why but forgive the laydown photos.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Where is our water coming

Folks who have read my blog in the past know that one of my concerns has to do with the availability of water. That in the same way we fret about petroleum and natural gas that the day will come when we will focus on why we are running out of water in the Southwest part of our country.

Even in areas where water is readily available may find their supplies threaten by gas well drilling fracking operations and changes in climate. The when you add in southwestern states talking about running pipe lines to get access to their water can make an individual very guarded about giving the water away.

I come from a long line of dry land farmers who didn’t make their crops because it didn’t rain. Therefore with that lineage you develop a sensitivity to available water supplies. So it wasn’t to surprising when this past thanksgiving I became involved in a conversation with my sister-in-law, who works for the USDA conservation corp.,  concerning a recent study that she read that said that according to study of growth rings of certain regional trees that this year has been one of the driest years since 1582.

Now add to that the fact that you live in a area that is dependent on water caught in impoundments (lakes) and realize that no rain means the lakes don’t fill up.  The question becomes at what time do you admit you made a mistake encouraging unrestricted growth and water intensive farming and landscape?

Right now there are parts of our state of Texas that has severely limited watering and water use and this during the time when we get the bulk of our rain in year. We have lakes that our down 10 to 15 ft. below normal leaving some of the pump stations high and dry.

So you say turn on the wells  and start using them. That sounds good until you realize several things. (1) The aquifers that most of these wells pull from have been so severely worked for irrigation of farms that they are already at a level below what some wells s pull from. (2) The water highly mineralized already has high levels of salination to the point of undrinkable.. (3) Heavy use of fertilizer, illicit dumping of chemicals, fracking chemicals used in gas wells, and insecticides have led to contamination of many of our water wells.

I can never forget a conversation I had with a local water dept employees who commented that they never drink the water but buy bottle water for their coffee and drinking. When I commented that they were kidding me they assured me they were not. What they hated the most were having to take down a water line feeding into the city and activating the wells because it meant that they meant they would be spending a week flushing out the lines once the outside water line was back in operation.

Let me ask this one question. If you are willing to allow your country’s leader’s to go to a immoral war to supposedly assure fuel for your SUV what would you do to assure you have life giving water to drink?

Well I have said enough for now. I just wanted to get folks to talking about it and thinking about how they use water.

Projects, Reading, Movies

Minimal time in the shop due to the holidays. Hope to make up for it in the upcoming week.

Same thing with the reading.

Movies were a different story Watched “Green Lantern” Reba didn’t like the way he flew. Otherwise it was a pretty good story.

“Walking Dead” nearing season end and the so is the intensity of the story line ramping up.  Can’t wait to see what they do.

A new series “Hell on Wheels” about the 19th century building of the trans-continentlal railroad turning into a pretty good series. The corruption of our government isn’t something new if the series is to believed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Know thy Enemy

When you examine the wars that our country is currently fighting in foreign countries it would seem that our leaders have forgotten that you need to know your enemy. If they had then I wonder if we would ever become involved in a war that only knows the “Blood Feud” and tribal loyalties. The enemies we are making there now we will have in 200 years.

But , this maximum of “Know your enemy” cannot be more true than in the class struggle we are involved it right now.

What the middle/working class need to know is first that the elites or 1% believe totally in trickle down economy. Second understand that part of their philosophical basis come’s from a ideal of “objectivism”.

Objectivism promotes the ideal that in the same way cream rise to the top so do the elite and that as cream is valued so should the elite be valued more than the rest of us rabble.  The Ann Rand Institute the 20th century writer of the classic “Atlas Shrugged” and author of the philosophy explains it this way

1. “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” or “Wishing won’t make it so.” 2. “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.” 3. “Man is an end in himself.” 4. “Give me liberty or give me death.”

Looked at in this simple view it seems reasonable but the truth is more of a screw you that only thing that counts is I get mine first and I is defined as the uber-rich or elites. In short is a elite philosophy for elitist. Evidence of this is seen in her seminal work “Atlas Shrugged” and in the movie of the same.

Now take this ideal of no regulatory control over finance or industry of what is good for me is good for everybody else and that eventually those on the bottom rung will get what they need. It is lazier faire economy of the minimal government, no taxes, and no government programs or help for the poor, no control over food or meds production and you see suddenly where the “Tea Parties” GOP’s are coming from.  So it should not be a surprise to find out that our current house speaker John Boehner, house budget chairman Paul Ryan are both big fans of Ms. Rand and have been known to parhrase and quote from her works.

To get more info NPR has been doing a great series on the influence of Ann Rand and you can start with their recent Nov. 14th article

But should think that they are just showing their liberal bias they also have done a series of article on the Keynesian economic philosophy that promotes more regulations, greater taxes on the ultra-rich and more public assistance for those in need. The very opposite of Objectivism.

In this economic class war you need more than ever to know your enemy.

Reading and shop

Recently finished “Rainbow Pie” by Joe Baynet a great book that was part memoir and part how the white poor working class been led down the garden path.  Great read well worth spending time with it. Unfortunately there will be no more from Joe as he has passed away this year.  But you can still find a collection of his articles.

Started a political thriller called the “The Librarian” by Larry Beinhart and as I read it I find myself wondering if perhaps he was a fly on the wall. Great read so far.
The Librarian: A Novel

Been working on sanding down the child’s writing desk getting it ready to reassemble and finish. Hopefully this week should have it done.

I also have picked up a Ryobi orbital jig saw so I hopefully will get back on to the Cherry salt and pepper collectible hanging cabinet.

The biggest problem I have been having in getting these jobs done has been cranky joints limiting my ability to do get out into the shop. But I am thinking I am going to have to just man up and do it.

Well enough for now.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How we remember and pushing through to get restarted

Sometimes I am stymied for a subject to blog on. I mean it is not like there isn’t anything to write about.

The economy sucks. Working/middle class continue to loose ground. Politicians continue to give us reason to comment. But there comes a time when it just becomes hard to write because you start feeling you are repeating yourself.

I would write about projects but I have been having difficulty with getting out into the shop and making saw dust, I find multiple reasons for not undertaking garden projects and photo opportunities seem to elude me.

I guess I am in a funk.

I read and I get pleasure from it. I watch Video and history channels but I am still find myself in that funk.

I do find myself thinking about my past. Reflecting on how I became who I am. This morn I took my first sip of coffee of the day and it took me back to times when coffee played a part of the day.

My first thought was when I was 15 and told by my Grandma to sit down on the bench with the rest of the men for breakfast instead of waiting with the rest of the kids to be fed and my mother pouring me a cup of coffee. It was a sign of being accepted as an adult. Of course it also meant I was worked hard like a man was expected to do.

The other thought was sleeping rough on the side of the road and that first cup of coffee after a cold night the taste was like nectar of the gods.

The other cups of coffee were notable mornings watching the sun coming up as I sat on a tailgate of a old pickup pouring a  cup of coffee from my old battered thermos, watching as the men hustled to get ready to begin work and my own excitement kicking in for the work day ahead.

I guess that is the way the mind works a taste or smell or familiar site dredging up old memories. It seems as I grow older it is so for me.


After I wrote this on Thursday I spent time in the shop Sunday after church working on the garage sale kids desk. Cleaning it up after taking it apart patching cracks and old screw holes. Tomorrow I will begin sanding it down and prefinished the piece.

It feels good to be out in the shop in such wonderful weather. I did this despite the ache from a incoming front. Sometimes you have to just work through the pain to get where you want to be.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Good Neighbor Policy

I live in a older neighborhood. By older I mean the age of it’s residents tend to be on the plus side of 50. The result of that is a quite area in a sea of rolling boom boxes and verbal and mechanical traffic noise that often include police helicopters flying overhead. That is ok I like it like that. A island of quite in a sea of urban noise.

But we have this one neighbor and his wife as well as his kids that exemplify the meaning of community and service. You see they believe you have to look after your neighbors particularly if they can’t get around or take care of things or need help much like I do because of arthritic knees and hips.

This neighbor is never still. I see him doing lawn care for his neighbors without thought of compensation. He has sawed up and cleaned up fallen tree limbs after a storm. Cleaned ice away from steps and always greet you with a smile. Again, this goes for his entire family.

I have wittiness his daughter who is attending college help the more senior of us who are unable to drive get in out of her car to take them to the doctor or grocery store. The son follows in his father’s footsteps helping out with keeping the neighbors yards. Just yesterday observed raking fallen leaves, mowing and edging.

This is just who they are. As it has been said it’s in their DNA.

This got me to thinking. This is the way it use to be in small towns or in tight neighborhoods. Everybody looking after each other.  We used to help one another to get through the day. All done without thought of compensation or thanks. It was just what you did as neighbors.

I remember distinctly my mom looking after a neighbor kids while a parent recovered. Of dishes made and delivered to the sick or grieving. Sacks of groceries left on doorsteps of elderly and those who have lost their jobs and money for food disappeared. It was just what you did.

But we live in a less neighborly society today. We have forgotten that none of us will get out of this life alive. That no matter how independent we may think we are there will be those time when a little neighborly help is appreciated. But, remember it isn’t a one way street give and you will receive.

These are the lesson that my neighbor has reminded me of. So when his water line from the meter developed a leak I didn’t hesitate in helping him figure out how to fix it. Nor do I mind watching his place as well as my other neighbors while they are away. Because I know that they will do the same for me. It is just what neighbors do.

So why am I writing about my good neighbor?

Simply this, we are living in difficult times. It is a time that from recent figures from the Dept of treasury and office of congressional budget report that nearly 50% of our citizens live at or below the poverty income level. A time when the American dream has become the American nightmare. It is a time when social programs are cut but foreign aid and monies for war spent in support of governments who leaders have openly said that in a war with another country they would come to the aide of the other country.  We have forgotten charity starts at home. That money can’t buy you friends.

Enough of the soap box.

Projects, reading and movies.

Started taking apart and repair of the children writing desk that a neighbor recently gave us. A lot of repair work but it is better than just tossing it out. It has inspired me to undertake a making of 4 desk based on it as a pattern as a part of my grandkids Xmas present. Hope to get started on that this weekend.

Continued to read Joe Bageant “Rainbow Pie, a redneck memoir”.

Watched recently “Fast and furious 5” a nice fast paced action movie with Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson set in Brazil. I love it mindless violence and all.

TV wise been watching a lot of NG “Rocket City Rednecks” and “Mad Scinentist” as well as Discovery’s “Mythbuster” this season has been particularly good.

Well enough for now.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thinking out loud again

I was listening to NPR today and they had the usual news on. You know riots in the middle east, riots in southern Europe, demonstrations in northern Europe and England and least we forget in the USA.

Of course there were other things on the radio as well. Like, who killed what disposed leader of Libya and their main concern in enacting reforms was allowing polygamy. The stock market knocking one out of the park making fat cats richer. The Congressional Budget office, the IRS and Census Bearu folks all confirming what we already knew from experience that 1% of the US citizen income grew 3X faster than the remaining 99% of the population. This great discrepancy they noted began in 1980 the same time as Ronald Regan became President and the Keynesian economic approach went out the window and the trickle down economy began.

Republican Senator Kirk of Illinois was asked why wasn’t the jobs being created by the rich and the simple fact that the trickle down effect didn’t seem to be working. His response was classic ultra-conseravive republican, “Because his friends tell him that they are afraid of environmental and labor legislation as well as being unsure of taxes that they rather sit on their money.” I am afraid I paraphrase his exact words but this was the sentiment. In short more of the same old rhetoric.

Another item of news that was disturbing was the US strongest trading partner China on their human rights record and trading practice. Which is as corrupt as you can imagine. The human rights issue is simple if you complain about  the government and have no juice then you risk torture and death. Their description of a the abuse of one protester of having his head stuck through a door and attack dogs allowed to threaten and savage their face, in this one case lost of eye, as well as physical torture of having their feet burned with a cigarette lighter. The video of the effects and torture undergone gotten out using China’s version of Tweet with the lawyers posting it at risk to their own life.  The crime these people committed ranged from protest of unfair labor and environmental practices as well as complaints on the government.  
I don’t know if you realize just how much of not just our consumer products we get from China but also much of our processed food. The thing is if they don’t have any respect for their own citizens how can we expect them to provide safe products that we all consume if their value of life is only a matter of profit.
One of the biggest projects ongoing in the US right now is the new bridge being built in San Francisco Ca. from steel provided by China. Why China because it was cheaper to buy form them and ship it then it was to buy from a US company particularly since we have pretty well gutted our manufacturing potential here in the US sending our factories and work to China.  I don’t care how much quality control they said they have in China it is still controlled by China and I have enough experience dealing with foreign made products not to trust it.
Here is a story of personal experience from back the US first open up the FTA’s and Mexico and the building of Maquiladoras plants built just across the US and Mexico borders.

In 1977 I was working for a pre-stress product company making bridge beams and double and single “T”s. The company normally usde US made steel cable to pre-tension the concrete product to create a camber for load bearing. The steel cable was a 9 strand steel wire cable. Spec’ allowed us to stretch to breaking on 2 strands of the nine strands without replacing the 500 to 600 foot length when stretched. When a cable had more than 2 strands break it would usually break totally while being stretched and the hydraulic jack operator and I would end up with a lap full of steel wire. If it had not been for the 1 inch steel plate we hid behind it could of killed us. Fortunaltley this didn’t happen too often until our regional manger got a good buy on Mexican cable. It became a common occurrence for the cable to break and go ripping down the steel form beds. That is when I learned the meaning of pucker factor. I learned real quick just because you have paperwork saying something passed QC doesn’t mean it is worth a plug nickel. The proof is in the final product and so it will be for that bridge in SF,Ca.

Maybe that is just my bias after all I feel that same way for products made in India or other third world products. You get what you pay for and if the person buying it to resell is only thinking of profit well enough said.

Think about that the next time you buy a food container with a sealable lid that doesn’t fit right or when you feed your dog or cat and they die because of glycol used for their food not to mention for sweat taste and caloric value in our food. It isn’t about the quality but cost.

Again I makes you wonder.

Reading, movies, and projects

Finished reading the Simon Morden trilogy and began reading Joe Bagenat last book “Rainbow Pie, a redneck memoir”. Was happy with the ending of Petrovich Freezone. It was interesting how Morden showed the USofA in not a very flattering light.

I have been watching the second series of the Walking Dead very intense. I always try to watch something less intense like a mindless comedy since it is usually just befoe I go to bed and I don’t want to dream about it.

Another show coming out is called Grimm on NBC that might be pretty good.

Began working on the Cherry again and was remined that when you leave your equipment unattended or unsued for a while they need to be tuned back up.  If you just start using them thinking all is right then you will make mistakes take m word for it. Enough said

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Self-improvement or simply disciplie.

In my reteriment I have found that one of the biggest obstacles has been myself.  That has to do with self-discipline or self-improvement.

While I was still working I would see these old guys running around or doing a little sidewalk superintending and they would be wearing old sweats and personal hygene that could be said to socially challenging. Now there is nothing wrong with this after all sweats pants and shirts are comfortabe and I myself lounge around it them in the evening. But, in the cases I am talking about it is more of given up.

These men, and I am speaking of men, gave up living when they reteried and the highlight of their day has become "Judge Judy" or "Cops" rerun's. They forgot all that they said they were going to do when they finally got to reteire. They lacked the discipline to follow through and after a few weeks became a lump on the couch that their old lady cleanes the house around.

It is hard sometimes to remember what that the orginal goal was. Like the old engineering maxium "when you are ass deep in aligators it is hard to remember the orginal goal was to drain the swamp." So it is for most of us that when we leave our normal pattern of life we loose our focus, our way.

The thing is that I was heading for that unacceptable position myself. So I have implemented my own self-improvement program. The first step is launch myself back into rehab which for me is 3 times a week an hour at a time in a pool exercising. Right now I am paying for my lack of didication.  Don't get me wrong I know it will not improve my joints they are too far gone. But, it does help with my muscle conditioning and weight control. This is step 1, paying attention to maintianing my health and moblity as best as I can.

Step 2 is mental conditioning.

Here problem solving, reading, writing, are the methods I have choosen to follow. I use my Ipad to play a daily game of chess, do a crosswod puzzle, and keep up with different bloggers.

I keep a ready supply of books on hand and make a point of turning off the TV and read one of them or a article from one of many magazines I subscribe to. The type of books and mags I read vary from SciFi, mystery, to history and drama, and mags from woodworking, popular mechanics, photography to rags like Mother Jones and Mother Earth.

Part of that problem solving involve projects, They range from gardenig plans to woodworking. As any one who works with wood figuring out how to cut, measuring, assembling and finishing helps keep you sharp and practice has positive results. Right now I am stymied on a project I am working on due to a broken tool but hope to rectifiy that soon.

Step 3 has to do with interacting with more than imediate family. While I have never been accused of being a social butterfly, I do believe that it is important that you interact with folks. To that end I am endeavoring to figure out some place like a senior citizen center that I can find a domino or 42 game and an opportunity to share a cup of coffee. Too much time with yourself is not necessary a good thing. The voices in your head tend to start winning too many arguments.

This simple 3 step program is my method of maintaing who I am. When the day come for you to retire you mush choose what will work for you. But whatever it is don't become that couch potato in a pair of unwashed sweats.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In the middle of the Night.

As readers of my blog might recall I have a bad habit of waking in the middle of the night with my mind engaged and it just want let me fall back asleep. It happen last night for two reasons one was from a blog I follow "Tesla's Laptop" and a book I recently finished  and subsequent short essays of Joe Bageant that I have been following up with.

Warren, the writer of "Tesla's Laptop" commented on his frustration of having to listen to the garbage coming from his co-workers on the Occupy Wall Street movement to President Obama. I also shared in his frustration while working for a local city government as a public works inspector. I sat there and hear things come from men and women who lived from pay check to pay check parroting the Limbaugh's and O'Reilly's and Fox New pundits that had no touch to the reality that was and is our life.

Most of the time I would sit there and keep my mouth shut believing as my Dad would say not need to cast pearls before swine as it would come to no avail. But, the l as 6 months of employment before disability force me into retirement I begin to speak of what I believe. This was received with a combination of mockery and the proverbial patting on the head. But I at least said my piece hoping that at least I put some doubt into their closed, fearful minds. That they might actually start to think for their self.

Did it work I doubt it. But I have a history that I am unapologetic for. You see when ever I find myself confronted without absolute stupidity I have been known ed to "moon" the people who have open their mouths and out came stupidity and should of known better.

That is right turn my back to them pull down my pants and tell them to KMA. Some times it has to be done. In my life time I have done 3 times. Once back in the 80"s, again in late 99 and again in 2009 just before I retried from my last job. All I can say it is the ultimate emphasising your point in the only way some folks can understand.

To those who felt like Warren that they have to keep their mouths shut, I say don't. It will only make you bitter and angrier. Say what is on your mind they don't have to like any more than you have to like what they have to say, but at least you will feel better. Then there is always Mooning when all else fails.

The other reason of awaking to full thought in the middle of the night was reflecting about the recent book I read by Joe Bageant "Dear Hunting With Jesus".  Joe, who died this year (1946 to 2011) was a unapologetic working class liberal who thanks to education provided by the GI bill that lead to a Carree in journalism and writing and his experience working in lower income jobs as well as a labor organizer was able to put into words of how people who should not but did support the uber-rich with their vote, sweat, and blood. He is worth reading  and rereading.  I think his writing would help those who feel that they are the black dot lost in a sea of white. It helps to understand you are not alone.

His essays are avaialbe for reading at the web site coldtype. link below

Take the time also to read his two books "Deer Hunting With Jesus" and  "Rainbow Pie, a redneck memoir". I think it will help when you are back into the corner trying to defend your liberal position.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Backed into a corner

Steve Jobs was cited to have said, and I paraphrase,  that people don’t know what they want until they are told.  I guess that is why there are so many people around telling us what we need to do.

It doesn’t help that we are held responsible for the collapse of our economy. But the cause is old Joseph Heller “Catch 22”. This is where the anti-hero of the story is told by the base doctor that yes to go to war is insane but by the very fact that you recognize that it as insanity means you are sane enough to go to war. In short you can’t win for losing.

Catch 22 is what is going on now with the middle or rather working class. We are told we are the problem we overreached our needs. We bought houses and cars we could not afford or even need. We maxed out our credit line buying the latest clothes going out to eat in the latest restaurant and buying the latest gadget we are told we must have to be considered worthy.

But then we are told that the middle class must be put back into this mindless spending mode if we are too revive the economy. Isn’t this what got us there into this economic depression as it is?  

Then we are told that we are to do this making significantly less than what got us into this pickle to begin with. Oh, you are to be happy and grateful about that as well. Talk about feeling trapped.

I think that it is time we reevaluate our core values. To ask ourselves what we need for a life well lived and not just a life lived. To established a set of core values not based on ownership of property but on possession of ourselves.

Realization that when our identity is based our possessions, on our purchasing power that then you devalue the individual.  That in turns leads to the destruction of his humanity.

When you destroy the humanity of the individual then he becomes soulless. Because he has no soul he sees no problem in destruction of the very thing that sustains him his environment.

I use to tell my kids that never to back a person into a corner without giving him an out. That not to do so will cause that person to act in a way that might not be to either of your benefit.  Well the middle or working class has been backed into that corner and our so called leaders are not providing us with a responsible way out. So, the questions begs to be ask what will our response be?

The feeling we are experiencing of waiting for the other shoe to fall to the floor is that response of the working class being painted into that corner with no way out. Perhaps the fall of that shoe has begun with the protest on Wall Street. It will be interesting to see how far it falls and what fallout  before that shoe lands.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Just a Word to the Republicans and Democrats

I think that it would help us all to remember that our founding fathers had no faith in the common rabble, Us. We need to remember it is “For the republic for which it stands”. Not democracy for which it stands.

A republic is government ruled by a leader elected by a few to make decisions in their behalf nominally meant the elite. A democracy is a government of direct vote. One man one vote led by leaders elected to act.

We need to remember that the Senate was established to keep the common rabble in check in the House. We need to remember that the founding fathers did not have faith in the common sweaty stinking man to act with intelligence and grace. In fact in review of early history you can’t really blame them.

But they didn’t understand that the individuals could in fact become as corrupt as those in the senate. Be bought and paid for by those elite who believe that we were fodder for their gain. But they did come to understand it real quick.

Someone recently spoke of our elected officials that to get to positions of power, particularly, say the President, they make so many deals that it can’t help but corrupt their original agenda of doing good. Sounds familiar.

See the basic problem lies in the fact that bulk of the wealth lays in the hands of 1% of our fellow citizens of that roughly 20 Trillion dollars 7 individuals are reported to own 1.7 Trillion dollars alone. This kind of wealth translates into power and as we know power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Our House and particularly our Senate don’t have a chance of standing up to the 1percenter’s, to this kind of power. Man is to base and weak to toss aside this kind of temptation that is waved like a carrot dangled in front of them knowing that the stick awaits them.

So you know that I am not just throwing out ideals without facts here are a couple of links that take you to those facts

Yeah, I know I used an article from Michael Moore but that does not alter the facts.

Now for the word to the two major political parties.

To the Republicans your manipulation of the working class will one day end and when it does all I can say is you forgot the lessons taught by French Revolution and the Italian Revolution led by Garibaldi. You can only beat down the people before they rise up in revolt. When they do there will be a power shift so unimaginable that there is no way 1% can stop it without what is happening in the Arab worlds happening here.

To the democrats you are going to have to quit being just talking heads, quite your whining when the Republicans ridicule you. Fight. Don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk.  You are going to have to get out of you Ivory towers and get down on the street and explain in way that the common man can understand. You are going have to sweat it out just like we do.  

Then when you have earned our trust then we might shift our vote from the neo-cons to those who understand and helped us to understand that entitlements are not getting something for free but what we are entitled to,  what we have a right to.

If you fail to shift. If you fail to get cut the corruption from you bloated body then the common man will do it for you. It want be pretty. It will be chaotic and anarchy will reign.

Remember, many of the leaders of the French Revolution found their heads in the guillotine in the chaos that followed. To end the chaos it took a charismatic dictator, Napoleon to end it.

You need to read Robert Reichs blog he makes compelling arguments that need more attention then it is getting.