Yeehaw

Well… Come January 1st, we are going Wild, Wild West here in Misery. The Legislature has over-ridden the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 656. Check it:

The marquee section generally allows gun owners to pack them concealed without the need of passing the special training and paying permit fees the state has required since 2004.

As a concealed carry permit holder, who has had that special training, paid those permit fees over the years, and passed the background checks, I am deeply offended — and a little frightened — by the notion that any and all of my fellow citizens are suddenly responsible enough to start going around strapped. This part makes it even better:

Another key change is in the definition of “stand your ground,” which generally protects a person using deadly force to defend his or her home or vehicle. The new law no longer requires people to attempt to back away from trouble in public, as in a tavern parking lot, before using deadly force if there is fear of bodily harm.

I don’t know about you, but I know plenty of people who shouldn’t be anywhere near a firearm. Any time, let alone when they are angry or buzzed. (You might call them hillbilly white trash, I call them family.) An average 6th-grader has enough historical knowledge to know there was a time in Amurka when everybody went around armed all the time. That same 6th-grader can tell you that was before we brought civilization and law and order and the principle of commonwealth to the frontier. Laws were passed to disarm the populace for the good of society as a whole.

When our Legislature first passed this bill earlier this year, I thought it was irresponsible, but I — and the Legislature — knew it was going to be vetoed, so I just assumed it was a symbolic poke in the eye to the anti-gun liberals. The foolhardiness and sheer hubris of over-riding that veto is astonishing. This will not end well.

I could go on, but I gotta roll. Making another ammunition run.

Genghis Con

This summer, as part of my personal mental health regimen, I have been trying my level best to ignore as much of the election season madness as possible. My efforts have been largely unsuccessful. It is difficult to ignore the fact that the Republicans have nominated a Multi-Level Marketing, World Wrestling Federation, reality teevee guy for preznit! It’s like an episode of Creature Features from back in the ’70s, but it’s in color, and it’s real. A giant, orange asshole is in the process of consuming one of our two viable political parties.

I think it’s already too late, but some of the old school Republicans are fighting back, with a sternly worded letter. Many of the signatories of the letter were part of the gang of thugs from the dubya administration that instituted torture as part of our foreign policy, so it bothers me that I agree with anything they have to say, but I really believe America needs to listen to this:

“Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous president and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

I think it is too late for the Republican party because I don’t think there are enough good, decent human beings who happen to be conservative left in the party to wrest control back from the reality teevee guy’s legions of rabid, screaming fascists. A couple of decades of the right-wing noise machine stoking fear and hatred has distilled the party down to an angry, ignorant rump with genuinely no interest in policy or governance. They are ready — eager, even — to tear it all down and blame it on political correctness. What does that even mean, anyway?

Potatocaster Final

I finished assembling the Potatocaster several weeks ago, but I never got around to posting a photo. Here it go:

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I’m pleased with the way it came out. At least in the sense that it came out looking like I had envisioned it would. The project as a whole was a bit of a goatfuck, though. It ran way over budget in money, time and fingers. I estimated $400 and it ended up costing around $650 counting all of my fuck-ups and re-dos. I spent that money a little at a time over something like 3 years. I couldn’t seem to stay interested in the build. (Of course, I had to take a lengthy break when I stuck my fingers in my router.)

And I still have no idea how this thing plays. I plugged it into an amplifier and made a bunch of racket with it, but the only time I took it somewhere to have someone who actually plays guitar give it a test run, the electrics malfunctioned and the damned thing wouldn’t make a sound. Stage fright, I suppose.

I still haven’t decided whether to build a nice display stand for it so that its dust collection capacity can be fully appreciated, or to learn how to play it and put together a death metal band and play some gigs. I’m leaning toward the latter. We shall be called Electric Blue Jihad

About My New Job

Well, it’s a bit of a dog-who-caught-the-car tale. After 18 years in the salt mines, I was getting pretty burned out, so I started looking around for something different. Since there aren’t a lot of options available for … ahem… seasoned salt miners, I should probably consider myself lucky simply to have found a way out of the mine. Especially since the new job came with a nice raise.

But complaining is part of my nature. I was born this way.

So now I’m in the Salt Handlers Inspection Team. I travel around to salt mines throughout the central U.S. making sure all the salt miners, doing the tasks I once did, are doing so in compliance with policy and regulations. I’m still new at this, but I am beginning to get my feet under me.

Perhaps the first thing I learned is that a lot of the salt miners out there in the Amurkin heartland get a little too comfortable in their jobs after a while. And then they get a little loose in their work ethic. My job, as part of the team, is to vigilantly patrol the invisible line where loose meets lazy. We show up at a salt mine on relatively short notice, sporting laptops and cameras and notebooks and red pens, and we proceed to tell the miners every little thing they are doing wrong. And then we take all those things they are doing wrong and assemble them into a nice report, complete with charts and graphs and color photos. And then, we hold a meeting, and in the salt miners’ presence, read that report to their supervisor and a couple of levels of upper management.

Not coincidentally, the second thing I learned is that salt miners tend to get a little resentful when the team shows up and starts dishing out the humiliation. I still feel the occasional twinge of embarrassment for some of the salt miners, but it really is hard to empathize with lazy, fat fucks caught red-handed half-assing their job.

So now I travel a lot. The worst part of travel is… well… the travel. I particularly despise this part:

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Two hours in a plane seat leaves me aching, but only in my hips, back, neck and shoulders. Despite the grueling travel days, the new job is overall less physically demanding than the old one, so there are some good aspects. Did I mention the raise?

I’m never going to really like being away from the bunker as much as I am now, but I think my tolerance of it will improve with time. Though I would always prefer to spend my weekend in my wood shop, I’m enjoying playing new disc golf courses all the time. Here is a pretty good photo of a tight fairway taken one morning last month from a tee box in Fort Worth:

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My weekday evenings on the road should get significantly better when I have saved enough pennies to buy a good laptop so I can properly blog. I can publish a simple post via e-mail using my iPad, but doing it that way I can’t add photos, or blockquotes, or mark up the text with clever bolding and italics and color like I’ve been doing above. For now, I am having to settle for whiling away my work nights eating in restaurants and drinking in bars and watching teevee. It’s rough. But I got a raise.

Change Of Life

I have a new job. One that requires me to spend about 50% of my time on the road. So far I hate it. Because, you know, 50% is like half. This is going to seriously reduce my wood shop production. And, until I can purchase a laptop and get it set up, the only way I can blog from the road is via e-mail drive-by like this one.

I have spent most of the past week stuck in the eternal traffic jam that is Austin, Texas. You couldn’t pay me enough to live here permanently.

It has been a very wet Spring in Austin, and as a result, all the disc golf courses are muddy and sporting knee-high grass. It was already not much fun to wade around in it looking for my discs, and it became even less so after I stepped on a snake about as big around as my forearm.

So this morning I set out early to beat the traffic and find an alternate source of exercise. I found myself on a walking trail around Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. It didn’t look like a very big lake so I decided to walk/jog all the way around. Upon later googling, I learned it is over 10 miles around that lake. It took about two hours to make it back to my little econo-box rental car, limping and badly chafed. I think I’m going back to the snakes.

Updates

I’ve been neglecting the old blog again lately, mostly because I’ve been busy doing other things, but I have to admit, part of the reason is I don’t have much to say because I am still doing my level best to ignore the election craziness. We had to stop answering the landline here on the estate over a month ago because of all the robo-calls and automated polling. I just don’t want, or need, to stay engaged with the election process for the better part of a year.

This coming Saturday, April 9th, will be the one-year anniversary of getting my fingers tangled up in my router. To mark the occasion, I thought I would share an update on my franken-fingers. Here is a photo, taken moments ago with my new phone, which has a camera purported to be the greatest thing since sliced pickles.

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Can you see how much clearer and sharper that photo is than the ones I took with my previous phone? Yeah, me neither. As for the fingers, they are never going to be pretty, but they are pretty functional. And they don’t hurt much any more, just feel sort of numb-tingly all the time. Unless I bang them into something or get them cold; they definitely do not like cold weather. All things considered, I feel fortunate that I didn’t have to get all my various types of gloves (work, motorcycling, snow-shoveling) tailored. That would have been inconvenient.

Since I’m already chronicling my wood shop fuck-ups, I might as well tell you about my latest travails with the Potatocaster. It was just a few posts ago that I said I was in the home stretch on this thing, beginning final assembly. Well… not so much. I ran into a problem with the finish on the body. During assembly, I noticed that every time I slightly bumped the body with a tool or anything hard it would chip. (It’s not supposed to do that.)

The cool thing about spraying a lacquer finish is that each coat melts into the previous coats, and you gradually build a nice, thick, durable surface. For some reason — I suspect it was because I used some old lacquer I had on the shelf — the two coats of blue that I sprayed over the first seal coats did not melt in. As a result, those two coats of blue and the subsequent 10 or 12 coats of clear could flake right off. Which they proceeded to do.

I had to scrape the entire body down, sand it back to bare wood, and start the whole finishing process over again with a fresh can of lacquer. (And a bit of a chapped ass.) So I have re-erected my knock-down spray booth. Here is another photo from my snazzy new phone.

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At least this time I knew to take it easy on the blue pigment. It’s much closer to the faded blue jean look I had originally envisioned. The wood grain is much more visible now too. If you look closely you can see some blotchy areas that are a little darker than the rest. I’m still trying to fix that, but I may have to live with it. I am not sanding this thing down again. Anyway, after a dozen or so coats of clear over the next few days, and then a week of curing, I will be ready to buff it out and assemble yet another guitar I can’t play.

A Question

Something weird happened to me at my polling place today. I walked in with the intention of choosing a Republican ballot to waste my vote for the presidential primary on John Kasich, the reasonably sane, but not really, it just looks that way because everyone else in the GOP field is crazier than a shit-house rat candidate. But at the last minute I chose a Democratic ballot, quickly filled in the bubble for Ghostface Hilz, and fed the card into the electronic reader. I’m still not sure why I did that. Maybe I just wanted to help finish putting Bernie out of his misery.

But that’s got nothing to do with my question. For weeks I have been all over the intertoobz reading story after story after story about how the reality teevee guy has harnessed all the angry voters across Amurka, and that really does seem to be true. My question is this: What happens to all that anger when the inevitable happens? What happens when the Donald loses to Hillary in the general election or, FSM forbid, he gets elected preznit and then can’t deliver on all the outrageous promises he has made to those angry voters? Where does the anger go? From my viewpoint, what this nation desperately needs right now is a spite bleeder valve.

Leap Day Ramble

Due to the fraction generated when calculating how many revolutions of the earth occur during one orbit around the sun, it is technically still February today. But it sure feels like Spring here in Misery. The temperatures have been up and down like a yo-yo, everywhere from the 30s to the 70s, playing havoc with my sinuses and fooling the trees into budding early. The birds are getting pretty active around here too, but I can’t help thinking Winter will pull another drive-by on us.

I’m currently giving my hands and shoulders a break from wet sanding the PotatoCaster neck. I should have it ready to buff out by the end of the day. Then I can attach it to the body and begin shaping a nut.

Tomorrow is what is known in the politicking game as “Super Tuesday.” Several states hold their primary elections on the same day, and all indications are that Ghostface Hillah and reality teevee guy will extend their leads. It looks like the Republican establishment has just about reached the final stage of their grief and begun accepting the Donald as their likely nominee. It should be fun, over the next few months, watching the pundits who — rightly — denounced him for the xenophobic, fascist, racist, misogynist, egotistical buffoon he is publicly talk themselves into supporting him.

But what other choice do they have? Ted Cruz is a god-bothering asshole that even his friends don’t like, and Marco Rubio is nothing more than a telegenic parrot. Granted, that is normally considered a good thing in Republican politicians, but anyone with a functioning brain can see, in a debate with Hillary, Marco is going to be exposed as a 2.5-watt appliance bulb in a Xenon world. We’re talking dim, son, dim. (/Foghorn Leghorn)

I don’t believe in karma, but sometimes you really do reap what you sow. The Republican establishment, with the aid of the right-wing noise machine, has spent the last 7 years proclaiming to their rabid base that Michelle’s husband was hell-bent on destroying Amurka, and now they seem genuinely befuddled as to why that base is pissed off at them for not doing anything about it. The right-wing base may be “poorly educated” but they are smart enough to realize the establishment doesn’t really believe the accusations they throw around to get elected. The scary thing is, the right-wing base does believe the bullshit. Every word of it.

So, keeping in mind that my political prediction skills are non-existent somewhat limited, here’s how I see this election going down. Hillz will carry about 45 states in giving reality teevee guy an epic beat-down, and on her coat-tails the Democrats will re-take control of the Senate. Then, upon taking office, she will nominate Michelle’s husband for the empty Supreme Court seat the Republicans refused to fill. All around the country, Republican heads will pop like teenager’s zits. It will be glorious to behold.

Ooooh, Shiny

I spent the last two days wet sanding the PotatoCaster body all the way down to 2000 grit sandpaper. It is every bit as tedious and tiring as it sounds. Then the rewarding part — buffing — only lasts about twenty minutes. It’s just a quick pass under each of my buffing wheels, the first with medium grit buffing compound and then the second with fine. It’s fun to watch the shine appear.

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Tomorrow marks a week of curing time for the lacquer I sprayed on the neck, so unless I can find some excuse to give my neck and shoulders a break, I will have to start wet sanding on that. Barring some disaster, I should be assembling this thing in the next few days, and be shredding within a couple of weeks. If… you know… I knew how to shred.

Is Peak Wingnut Just A Dream?

For my own health and sanity, I’ve been doing my level best to avoid paying any attention whatsoever to Republican politics right now, but honestly, no matter how studiously you look away from a dumpster fire, you can still smell it. As if the presidential primary wasn’t bad enough, the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has finally given Republicans in the Senate a reason to openly take us where they’ve wanted to go all along. They are refusing to do their constitutionally mandated jobs and hold confirmation hearings for the next Supreme Court Justice… because the preznit is a Democrat. The Republicans have decided that Democrats are illegitimate as a party and are refusing to govern with them.

Meanwhile, in the aforementioned primary, reality teevee guy is still bitch-slapping all comers. Things have gotten pretty desperate for my pre-season pick. Word on the intertoobz is Jeb(!) has dragged big brother dubya away from his paint-by-numbers set to campaign for him in South Carolina. I refuse to go looking for video, just the sound of dubya’s voice would probably give me flashbacks. I might risk it if I heard he was about to start issuing apologies to the entire world — he could start with the Dixie Chicks and work his way up to Iraq — but not for his little brother’s pathetic campaign.

Seriously, Jeb(!), if you can’t crack the top 3 in this field, you need to hang it up. You are getting your ass handed to you by a reality teevee guy campaigning for Emperor, a religious nut-job campaigning for God-Emperor, and your own dumbass protégé from Florida, who only wants to be preznit because being a Senator is too much work.

From the outside looking in, it seems like the Republican party is currently destroying itself. I sincerely hope I am right about that, but I know that no matter what happens, whichever one of these furballs the rabid Republican base coughs up for the nomination, he is already guaranteed about 45% of the votes come November. And that is why I just can’t watch.