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.