Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Taking Stock

Yesterday I was in the shop putting a last coat of poly on the little pine end table and I step back to take stock of everything. I realized then that my shop area was a mess. That it was time to clean up, something I normally put off.

Anyway I began to cleanup and putting scrap pieces into the scrap bin, you never know when that little pieces of wood will fit just right. sweeping up from under the saw putting up tools. you know cleaning the shop. When I was distracted by my three planes. I know just three?

I started to look at them and I realized that I had put the bevel wrong side up and that was why it my jack and jointer plane was so hard to use. Well that got me to thinking about what i am trying to do in the shop and I realized that I allowed myself to become too distracted over everything. One purpose of the shop for me is it is my personal no-fly zone. It is where the trivial or significant daily events are not supposed to intrude. I also as i straighten the blades given the a hit on the stone since they were out of the planes I thought why not.

Anyway I digress as I was burnishing the backside of the blades I realized that i was going to have to enforce my no-fly zone myself. That in the future I was going to have to turn on the radio to my classical or jazz station I like to listen to, not worry if I miss a phone call and Zen out, focusing on what my hands are doing. What the wood was telling me and in general focus on the work.

I allowed myself to become too angry over things that I cannot control and consequently I was fighting the wood, the tools and my common sense.

A few years ago someone came out with a book called "Don't sweat the small stuff. (it is all small stuff)" and I think that I will need to post this concept on my shop wall. Yes my children will do things that drives me crazy and yes my government will continue to self-destruct and I will meditate on what I should do about it and what i can do about it. But, in the end accept that first i must control my own life and surrounding accepting that there is not much I can do about everything else.

This afternoon I am going out into the shop and finish rubbing down the pine end table and give the top a good coat of wax making it ready for my wife to do with it what she wants. Then I am going to finish the cleanup thinking about my next project a stand for my Delta 9 in band saw. I am not going to worry about if I have enough money saved or if there is enough food in the pantry to last a couple of months or anything else until I come out of the shop. Then I will worry about my kids future my wife's and my own, and of the country. Then again maybe not.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

From an Inspector's point of view.

I was reading a minute ago Robert Reich's blog on why major international corprations  can't and shouldn't be allowed to be self-regulatory.
I have to tell you he is as I find it spot on to his assessment. You can't ask the fox to watch the hen house and not expect a few chickens to come up missing.

In their competition with other companies GE the manufacture of the nuclear reactor in Japan that is in a "China 'syndrone' they came up with a design that was cheaper to build but if something happen to the cooling system they could expect a meltdown. and that is just what is happening right now.

While I am not totally against Nuclear power plants I do believe that you must have so many redundant safety backups that it to some where profit is king would not most likely build any of them.

As a construction inspector for forty years I came to see what happens when you allow the profit to become the driving motivator for a project and specifications and regulations take a backseat to the quality of the work. The end result is bridges that fail before their time, roads that do not hold up to their expected lifetime and buildings that become condemned before their time.

We all have seen the shoddy workmanship that so often inhabits the items we buy and in result we have to replace the TV or refrigerator or home. Why?  Bbecause it was more important that the price be competitive and failure to regulate resulted in what seem to be affordable but when you have to replace it before the years end. No item is that cheap that it can be totally disposable.

Are our life's disposable? Does the time you spend working to pay for the food you consume. the housing you live in , the cars you drive, the hospitals your children are born in and probably you will die in, and I could go on to just about every aspect of our life's that easily disposable. 

The purpose of regulation and inspection by these regulatory bodies is to insure that our money and our life  is not wasted on the altar of corporate greed. So next time you hear about the need to deregulate an industry look to see who is calling for it. Most likely it will be the fox watching the hen house.

Finally let me say it is not the responsibility of the regulatory agency to ensure that corporations  make a profit. It is the responsibility of the corporations not only to design and build a product that will make a profit and a product that meets and even exceed specifications and applicable regulations. It is the responsibility of the regulatory agency to ensure that the product meet those regs.

If we don't support the regulatory agency's that are our watchdog's protecting us from this mindless profit at all cost then the result will be another glycol in our food made in China or a world of nuclear holocaust of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island  or  Fukushima Daiichi plant. Can Nuclear power be safe? Yes I believe so. Can it be done profitably? No, because of the inherent dangers you must put it squarely on the shoulders of the people to build it removing the profit motive.  If it fails then because of shoddy planning or workmanship you have no one to blame but yourself.

As a side note. In my 40 years as a construction inpector on more than one occasion I would be approached to turn my head the other way to quote one idiot "What will it take to make this go away?" My response was for them to do it right. I never responded well to threats or cajoling or to any bulling. I always made a scene for I knew it was the squeaky wheel that get the most oil. For me that meant the quality of the work came first.


Well I finally gave up and bought a used pickup on a note. The prospects for a used cash truck just didn't exist that would stand up to the test of time and use.

I bought a 2000 Chevy Silverado C1500 short bed standard cab with a V6 engine and automatic. To be honest if I have to make a payment then this would be a good one. with less than 100K miles and in pristine condition I am well pleased.

2000 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Reg. Cab Short Bed 2WD

That is it in the above photo. Immediate plans for it or a K&N air filter, Folding bed cover that works with a tool box and a new MP3 friendly replacement radio. Also I will install a type 3 receiver hitch to use with a power chair carrier.

In The Shop

Good news today is payday and I will be getting supplies to finish the table and start other projects.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The ABC's of Life

Last night I was watching a show called "Justified" a show on FX cable channel reminiscence of a western with US Marshals VS. bad guys. The location of the show instead of the west is set in Kentucky and deals with a variety of issues mostly armed robbery and drugs. Combined that with excellent story and local  makes for great TV.

Anyway the two main characters a deputy US Marshal and a local bad guy who had been childhood friends but chosen different paths is the center of the show. I digress but the bad guy who was trying to change his life finally gave in and agreed to help three bad guys rob the miner's cash payroll where they worked. But the anti-hero didn't trust them and got wind of their intention of killing him and managed to reverse the game on them. During the prep for the robbery the three bad guys soon to be eliminated were getting nervous and were pressuring our anti-hero who told the leaded he needed to learn his ABC's of life and was asked what did that mean. he said the ABC's "Always Be Cool".

I thought when he said that was it was a motto for living. Always Be Cool.

Anyway the whole thing of what is happening in today's world really blows me away sometime. But you know there is nothing I can really do about it other than what I am doing now, voting , writing and encouraging folks to act and never let the bastards see you sweat.  So in the end I can say is to practice your ABC;s of life and in the mean time I will try to do the same.


Well I am still looking for another second hand mini-truck but the chase is getting closer to an end. I am looking at three other Isuzu Pickup and one Mitsubishi Mighty Max.  One of the Isuzu is a 4wd V6 engine version and that kind of intrigues me but I try to remind myself of my Dad's old Mantra of Keep it Simple Stupid and I fear that would be making it more complex. But still........

In the Shop

Watching after a sick grandson and not getting around to pickup supplies have prevented me from getting out in the shop like I need to but hopefully that will change soon and I will be able to get some more finish supplies and get the end table done.

Other projects on my list to do
  • a stand for my bench top band saw
  • four cell phone holders/stands
  • a jewelry box with a hidden drawer
  • Four toy chest
  • book shelf's with capacity for a LCD TV.
  • Desk for laptop.
  • A Welsh hutch from pine
  • a number of turned bottle stoppers
  • several versions of the Stickley plant stand from Cedar or Redwood.
I think I got a lot on my plate so I have better get with it.


I think I am going to have to start planning time to read and get caught up with purchases I have made form Amazon.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

How things can change so quickly.

Saturday I went to first Monday at the local flea market in Weatherford Tx. To be able to go I had to load up and take my scooter which means I have to use a set of ramps to load and unload. While my knees are not strong enough for me to use in walking over a flea market with the scooter i can. unfortunately I am not very agile and while unloading the scooter/power chair decided to try and fall off the ramp. In the process of catching it I fell and unable to get on my knees to get up was dependent on the kindness of passing strangers to help me get up.

Now my right knee is strained more than usual along with the muscles and while I believe it will get better I also know that I can't afford a orthopedic Doctor to take a look at it or afford any kind of physical therapy for my knee.

Even with the Health care act I still can't really afford medical insurance and unfortunately must wait another year before I qualify for medicare.  I am like 34 million other US citizen and find myself out in the cold when it comes to health care.  Dependent on self-diagnosis and the kindness of my family doctor who allows me to see him at base cost and use his corp account for test that need to be done.

Right now I spend $400 a month meds and doctor visits and sometimes even more. You might say. In June of 2012 I will qualify for Medicare and that money will go to cost for coverage. 

Even with the existing health care bill to buy insurance through a pool of high risk insurance companies sponsored by the Federal government it will cost me $558 a month with a sizable deductible before anything but preventive care is covered. This is a little more than my budget covers. 

You may say well you didn't plan your retirement very well. Too be honest I guess I didn't. But I also didn't really plan on retirement. I liked the work I did as a public works inspector. Unfortunately my knees gave out before I was ready. For 40 years I paid into the system without complaint and now I am needing it's use roadblocks are thrown in my way to discourage me for use of things like Medicare. 

Enough crying about it. Instead when it comes to time to vote stop a moment and think what you would do if  suddenly you lost your job. Your Independence. Your health coverage. then vote accordingly.

Listen to the Republican party and I assure you they are not a friend of the working class.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Still learning and developing skills

Well Today I finished the pine end table and began to finish the table with just clear gloss polyurethane.

It isn't much too look at but it was a combination of using scrap wood from the scrap bin and trying different things mostly because I never did it before. For example this was my first attempt at  a bread board ends.

My skill level is nowhere near where I want it to be but practice and knowing where i went wrong always helps.

The next projects while I finish up this table will be to make a few more cell phone holders for family and do some turning on my lathe.

Container Gardening

This weekend my wife and I plan on picking up some plants and top soil and began to try to start a container garden. Probably want get to carried away as we will be moving in the summer to a house that hopefully will fit our needs a little bit better.

But we are talking about strawberry's, tomatoes and hopefully some peppers. it's a start.