Saturday, April 23, 2005

Remember the shed?

Between getting it into and out of the truck, and getting the cement blocks(loaded/unloaded), and digging and levelling, my ass would be dragging if it wasn't too sore to do so. From my back down to my ankles, I hurt.

But at least it's from accomplishing something. I got the site mostly done, the foundation assembled and the floor support kit in place, and most of the pieces that can be assembled before actually starting the building are done. Now I'll need some help and a day without the wind trying to turn anything not nailed down into a glider.

Ever tried to carry a 3x4' panel in strong & gusting winds? Wind load is not your friend in such cases. And like most buildings of this type, you can't leave it half-done & finish it tomorrow if there'll be any strong winds.

The rest of this is gonna be fun.

Bad language warning: it's about France

Read this.

Let's see, back a dictatorship against a democracy? Chance to make money by selling to the dictatorship? Screw what happens to people because of it?

Fuck the French. Every damned one of the idiots involved in this, and in sucking up to Saddam, and in trying to screw us over. I'm sick of the frogs and their pretensions and their lies and their corruption. I'm sick of the bastards insisting that nothing can be done anywhere without their blessing- and their control of it and any money involved.

These are the assholes who lecture us about the sad state of things in the U.S. while Jews are being attacked and synagogues burned and massive race riots go on there. These are the bastards who call us names and refer to us as simpleminded; apparently because we just don't understand that selling out and taking bribes accommodating terrorists and dictators is always the best way.

Oh, yes, and we don't understand that stabbing 'allies' in the back is a good thing; it demonstrates that you understand 'nuance' in dealing with other countries.

And THESE are the conscienceless shits that we're supposed to get the blessing of before we do anything? Bullshit.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The fat police strike again

Tech Central Station has this piece on the newest bit of information from the Centers for Disease Control. In short, all their hysteria about obesity killing several hundred thousand people annually and wrecking the health care system is a crock of crap.

Surprise, surprise. This is the bunch of bureaucrats that came up with the 'body mass index' that does not take into account build, age, or condition, it just says 'if you are this tall and weigh this much it is bad/good/bad'. They've been using that crap as a club to beat on people with, even after a LOT of researchers pointed out that it was damn near useless. Now this.

Of course, the rest of the fat police are discounting the latest CDC admission; they have to, without it they're in bad shape in their crusade to tell everyone how/what/when to eat.

CDC may be a wonderful group when they're working on bacteria and viruses and other organisms that actually cause problems. But they're constantly getting into political crap- like this- and you always know which way they will lean. This is the group that was moaning about not having enough money to deal with research into some nasty viruses at the same time they were paying some jerk a couple of hundred thousand dollars to 'prove' how much more dangerous guns in the house were to you rather than to an intruder- another study shown to be a load of crap. So either they've got to clear out the idiots that want to waste money on stuff they shouldn't be doing, or they've got too much money, and need a cut.

Either one would help. If they'd actually do it.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Luddites are idiots

Luddites were people who, when someone figured out a way to automate some of the work in textile mills in England, considered that Evil because it put some people out of work; so they would break into the mills and factories and destroy the new equipment. It became the name for those who think advances in tech are Bad because someone is put out of work.

It used to be possible for someone to be functionally illiterate and still make a decent living. Physical labor was always in demand, and if you could use a shovel and axe and hammer, early on perhaps learn to drive one of those new trucks, you could get by nicely; even raise a family in a decent manner. Then Things, As Always, Changed. More jobs required being able to read and do basic math. More required more than a basic education. Machinery became more usable for many more jobs, and there was less use for a simple pick & shovel man. Lots of people had to change jobs, learn to do something else, and a lot of people- Luddites- think that's bad.

Luddites are assholes.

What brought all this to mind was that I bought a shed today to put up in the back yard. So a piece of ground needed to be levelled, and bought some concrete blocks to make a foundation that will keep the floor up off the ground so they had to be loaded, brought home, unloaded and carted around to the back.

Have you ever done serious, heavy digging work? If not, you ought to try it. Mark the rectangle, then take a mattock and break up the high spots in a section, then take a shovel and scoop up the loose stuff and put it aside. Do this again in the next section, then roughly level them. Then go on to the next, and the next. When the whole area is done, start seriously levelling it, cutting and scraping away the high points and moving that dirt to the pile. You get that done, you get to start setting blocks in place and checking level between them, which means more scraping and fitting. It will wear your ass out. I spent about four hours doing this today, and I'll need some of tomorrow to finish it. And the entire job of scraping the space level could have been done in about 15-30 minutes with a Bobcat.

I think that what I once heard was right: that any invention that frees people from doing this kind of work to make a living- a marginal one anymore- is good. Yeah, advances put people out of work in some jobs, and they have to learn something else. Question: do you actually believe that keeping people in a job like this, not allowing for them to move on to something better, or for their kids to become something else, is good?

If you are, you're a fool. I've rarely heard of coal miners wanting their kids to go into the work, they want their kids to do something better; who wouldn't? I once read a description of textile mills in England in the 19th century being places where women and children were coughing their lungs out in working conditions the average southern slave owner wouldn't have tolerated for his slaves, or his dogs. Men didn't do any better, but the Luddites thought that changing things was bad because someone lost that job and had to find something else. I understand the fear of losing a job, especially in that time & place where finding something else meant packing up and leaving the only place you may have ever known. But that change, in the long run, meant that people were not spitting up blood when they coughed anymore. It's always been the cycle; things change, some people are hurt, and in the long run everyone is better off.

One thing that really pissed me off over time about the pagan community is I ran into so many, in person or in writing, who had that attitude that damn near any progress was bad because it forced change. All too often it was someone who loved computers, or wargaming before that, who seemed to think that things were so much better before all this nasty progress 'took us away from the natural ways'. Ignoring that in their ultimate ideal, the 'natural ways' meant losing your teeth if you lived to be 40, dying of many diseases before that, and all too often in many places being eaten by something with fangs and claws.

Oh, those people also tended to hate firearms. Even a form of progress that might protect you from the fangs & claws was bad.

I repeat, Luddites are idiots.

If this isn't true, it ought to be!

A friend just sent this to me:

In case you haven't seen this yet, here's a quote from an email that floated through here today. It's from a
Government employee who witnessed a recent interaction between an elderly woman and an antiwar protester
in a Metro station in DC:
"...there were protesters on the train platform handing out pamphlets on the evils of America. I politely declined
to take one. An elderly woman was behind me getting off the escalator and a young(20ish) female protester
offered her a pamphlet, which she politely declined. The young protester put her hand on the old woman's
shoulder as a gesture of friendship and in a very soft voice said, "Ma'am, don't you care about the children of
Iraq?" The old woman looked up at her and said, "Honey, my first husband died in France during World War II
so you could have the right to stand her and bad mouth your country. And if you touch me again, I'll stick this
umbrella up your ass and open it."

Sounds about right.

If this isn't true, it ought to be!

A friend just sent this to me:

In case you haven't seen this yet, here's a quote from an email that floated through here today. It's from a Government employee who witnessed a recent interaction between an elderly woman and an antiwar protester in a Metro station in DC:
"... there were protesters on the train platform handing out pamphlets on the evils of America. I politely declined to take one. An elderly woman was behind me getting off the escalator and a young (20ish) female protester offered her a pamphlet, which she politely declined. The young protester put her hand on the old woman's shoulder as a gesture of friendship and in a very soft voice said, "Ma'am, don't you care about the children of Iraq?" The old woman looked up at her and said, "Honey, my first husband died in France during World War II so you could have the right to stand here and bad mouth your country. And if you touch me again, I'll stick this umbrella up your ass and open it."
In case you haven't seen this yet, here's a quote from an email that floated through here today. It's from a Government employee who witnessed a recent interaction between an elderly woman and an antiwar protester in a Metro station in DC:

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

And buffing

Here's the next part on this set. Buffing is generally done with cloth wheels impregnated with some kind of fine abrasive. By going to finer & finer grits, you can go all the way to a mirror finish. Done right, so bright and clean that it actually is a mirror-smooth surface.

Warning note: In some ways, polishing on wheels can be more dangerous than grinding. A soft cloth wheel turning several thousand rpm can grab a piece out of your hands and throw it. I mean literally grab it and throw it. I've seen a wheel take a gold or silver ring out of a jeweler's hands and throw it hard enough to dent plywood. It can do the same thing with a blade. I've read one account of a maker who, trying to put that last little touch of brightness on a knife, had a wheel grab it, carry it through one rotation and throw it point-first into his thigh where it buried the six-inch blade all the way up to the guard. He damn near bled to death before help arrived.

Also, they throw out a lot of dust and abrasive particles and lint, so you'll need the lung protection here, too.

A buffer can be anything from a bench grinder with buffing instead of grinding wheels, to a dedicated buffer like the Baldor. A dedicated buffer can be expensive, but they're good. One of the good things about them is they generally have a much longer shaft on each side, which gives a lot more clearance around the motor; easier to work on long or odd-shaped pieces.

Two main types of buffing compound, greaseless and grease. Grease compounds are some type of grease or wax base with the abrasive mixed in. Greaseless are generally glue-based, something like hide glue, with the abrasive added. Grease-type compounds leave some traces on the surface, which will need to be cleaned off before going to the next step. Greaseless leave a cleaner surface behind. Most of the grease types will stay hard up till fairly hot temperatures, greaseless need to be kept refrigerated. Grease types you hold up against a spinning wheel and some rubs off, and often rubs off fairly quickly. Greaseless you hold against a wheel and the friction melts some; what adheres to the surface is given a minute or two to harden, and it often lasts longer. In my experience the greaseless are faster-cutting. Both are available in many grits, from coarse to extremely fine.

There are different kinds of wheels for this work. The most aggressive I know of are woven sisal fibers. They cut circles out of the fabric, stack several, put some fabric on each side and stitch them together. Good with coarse grease compounds for fast cutting.

The top of the line for wheels is felt. They come in soft to rock-hard firmness, and can be used with all types of compounds. The corners stay sharp and this makes them excellent for polishing right up to a line, say where the blade bevel meets the flat ricasso. These are also good for another thing, finishing an edge. If you need an edge finished as finely as possible, after sharpening use one of these wheels with a very fine compound to polish the edge; you may be amazed at the result.

All other wheels are some type of stitched cloth. For keeping a surface as flat as possible you'll have layers stacked up and glued together so you have a stiff wheel with a flat contact surface. A little softer type is layers stacked as thick, but instead of being glued they're stitched together; this gives a fairly stiff wheel with a softer surface, better for following a curved surface. Softest of all is stacked layers with only the center to middle sewn. This is the least aggressive type, primarily good for final polishing on softer surfaces: gold, silver, nickel silver, horn.

All the felt and hard cloth wheels can be shaped to give a rounded face, or angled, or whatever. If you don't have a lot of clearance around the buffer-grinder you're using, shaping to face of the wheel from full-size on the inside(closest to the buffer) to smaller on the outside means you can hold the piece being polished at an angle so a long piece will clear the motor.

If you have a belt grinder, there's another option. They make belts with no abrasive, just a surface to hold polishing compound. And I've heard of people turning a worn-out belt around and using the back surface to polish with. Haven't tried it myself, but from reports it works.

When you get started, you'll need several wheels, because you should only use one compound on a wheel. Using a coarse compound on one previously used with fine means you may never be able to use fine on it again; the surface will have the coarser compound worked into it. So keep that in mind.

The biggest thing here is to take your time. Getting in a rush with this means either screwing up or getting hurt(remember what I said about things being thrown?). There's one other hazard, too: heat. Buffing a finished(i.e., heat-treated) piece has to be watched. There's a lot of heat generated, enough to screw up the temper of a piece. Do that, and you may have to go back and heat-treat it all over again, which means the cleaning-polishing from scratch.

This is a very basic coverage of the subject and equipment. And on the subject of taking your time, remember: sometimes power tools simply give you the chance to screw something up at a much higher speed.

Ever glad you took care of something now?

instead of later?

Last fall, before it got cold I had my heater checked, and was informed that I needed- not 'might want', not 'might want to upgrade'- NEEDED a new furnace. Much better then than in the middle of winter, with a case of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Yesterday I called the folks who replaced the furnace to check the a/c. Before it got hot. And they discovered that the valves to the compressor had leaked all the coolant, and needed to be replaced. While they were at it, they asked if I wanted the coils in the outside unit cleaned? Having now seen the damn things, which were packed with old dust, dirt, and God knows what else, I said yes. What was interesting about that part was that they use a special acid. With the fan, etc., out of the way, they just poured the stuff all over the coils so it would flow down through them. It both dissolves a lot of crap, and as it reacts with stuff it foams up and the foam forces more out, and after a few minutes flush it out thoroughly with water, and the things gleamed. With, surprise surprise, much better air flow than before.

Happily, the same home warranty insurance that covered most of the cost of the furnace(and that I almost didn't renew) covered most of the cost of this. So, when it gets hot, I'll be able to cool things down.

God, I'm glad I found this now, instead of sometime in July.

And many see BATF as the enemy why?

Go here and read.

I'll limit my comments to this: if this is indeed how these clowns think, they're too stupid to be in positions to hurt other people. If they don't believe this crap, then they're liars, trying to use their background & current position to do harm.

Kim's Red Curtain of Blood, indeed.

Two general comments on current news

First is the mess at a Columbus, OH school, covered by Michelle Malkin here. There is absolutely NO excuse for the administrators at this school. None. All involved in this mess should be fired, followed by the barbarians who committed the acts being jailed( or my personal preference, hanging them up by the short & curlies for, oh, a week or so). That the school system is only firing one, and trying to both a: cover up for the others with 'suspensions' and b: trying to use this as a lever for more money tells me that a lot of them ought to be thrown the hell out. When they care more for image and money than getting the job done- the job being educating kids- they need to go.

I will note that the girls' father has far more self-restraint than I; when that idiot assistant principal tried to keep him from calling the police, I think I'd have committed an atrocity. 'Atrocity' nowadays begin defined as 'belting officious jerks who try to control you'.

Second, there's a measure to kill the death tax, also covered by Michelle here. And all the usual bullshit arguments as to why it's 'needed'. Let me make my position clear: there is NO EXCUSE for the government taking a large chunk of what you earned in life just because you died. NONE. You were taxed on it when you earned it, if you invested it and made some more you payed taxes on that and now the bastards think that because you're dead, they should be able to take more. Screw 'em. I don't care if someone talks about 'the richest not paying their share' and all the other garbage; It Is Not Right. Doesn't matter if your estate is large or small, It Is Not Right.

I lean more and more to Misha's comment: "Lamppost, rope politician; some assembly required".

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Ok, it's a bad seal joke.

On the good side, I found something. At Home Depot of all places. Rubber seals for car/boat, 'D' cross-section and adhesive backed. Just about the right size. I fitted a length into a lid, overlapped the ends a bit, and it seems to do the job.

Now, on to my next challenge. Whatever that may be.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Ammo can seals?

Last weekend I lucked out at a flea market and found one of the WWII-era M1 ammo cans. I've found two of them before, and the seals are always shot.

Anyone know where might be able to find new seals? I've used silicone caulking to make a so-so seal, but I'd really like to find some real ones. Or some kind of stuff that'll work properly.


Knives, that is. I don't do skateboards.

I'm going to cover some basic stuff on this that I've picked up over time, and cover buffing later. I will tell you this right now; this part can be DANGEROUS, and I'm not joking. You just cannot take chances with this, the stuff will bite you. Badly.

The most basic is files, which come in all sizes and shapes and roughness of cut. A double-cut bastard file will take metal off faster than you might think, but it still takes a while. It can be done; a few years ago Knives Illustrated magazine had an article on a maker from the former East Germany who did everything with files. Rough-shaping, cutting the bevels to the edge, shaping the guard and pommel and grip. He polished by wrapping finer & finer sandpaper around a file to clean up the finish, and his work was beautiful. He had no choice in the matter, in East Germany there had been no other tools available, but his work shows that it can be done.

Next step up is a bench grinder. Basically an electric motor with a long shaft sticking out of each end onto which is held a grinding wheel. With a coarse wheel you can remove a lot of metal fast, with a finer wheel you can rough in the bevels, clean up the profile, etc. If you're careful, you can hollow-grind a blade on one. They're very useful, but you have to watch a few things.
First, you have to get a dressing tool. The wheels get uneven with wear, and the tool lets you even it up. You can also use it to round the corners or shape a wheel in different ways to do specific jobs.
Second, there are two hazards with these. First is the most obvious, that if you slip and push your hand into the wheel, it WILL HURT. Bad. There may be lots of bleeding and swearing, and people have permanently injured themselves with these. Second is the wheels, if damaged, can shatter. If you have the guards and covers in place, this will generally just scare hell out of you. If you've taken the guards and covers off to get better access to the sides of the wheel and different angles of grinding, this is damn near the equivalent of a grenade going off. The shaft of one of these is generally turning a couple of thousand rpm, which means that the edge of the wheel is turning a fast, and if a damaged or faulty wheel shatters, pieces fly at high speed. I've never had it happen; I know of people who have been badly hurt when it hit them.
I'll hit other general safety stuff at the end.

A step up is a belt sander. I bought a 6x48" belt sander, which also has a 9" disk sander on the side, years ago and I've used it for a all kinds of things. I normally flat-grind my blades, and this is great for that, especially long pieces. You've got a big work surface, you can get belts from 40 grit to 400 so you can do rough grinding all the way to finished. You can get a nice unit for a couple of hundred dollars new, and if you take care of it it'll last for years of hard use. To hold long pieces, some tool supply places sell magnetic holding tools that allow you to keep control of a long piece without burning yourself on it. It's a great all-around tool. Bad things are
First, you can only flat-grind. There's no good way to hollow grind on the pulleys, and no way to change them out to different sizes.
Second, it will hurt you if you slip. A belt can't shatter like a grinding wheel. It will tear you up just as bad if your hand or arm or elbow slips into it. The edge of a moving belt can slice you. And if you get your hand or finger pushed into the belt for more than a second, it not only eats skin and muscle and anything else not taken away fast enough, it can actually burn you while it does it. With this and the next item, people have been sent to the hospital for serious repair work.

The last is the belt grinder. There are a number of brands, and most use a 2x72" belt(there are smaller ones for lighter work). These are the Cadillac of grinders. They're made to grind metal, you can change the contact wheels to different sizes, you can profile a wheel to give a certain grind, you can use a platform to flat-grind, and you can get belts from very coarse to finer than 1000 grit. They're marvelous machines, very versitile. And they cost. Last time I looked at them, the good ones ran about a thousand for the basic setup. Start adding different contact wheels, etc., and it goes up fast. If you were going to go heavily into knifemaking they're worth the money. All cautions of the previous grinder apply.

Many makers will have all three of these. You can do the heavy work on stock with the bench grinder, use the 6x48" for flats, the 2x72" for finishing. Or some combination thereof. If you've got the money you can do all of it with a good belt sander, and the 2x72" units will do all kinds of stuff.

Especially with a bench grinder, some kind of eye protection. Sparks, dust, bits of wheel, all of it goes flying. Take some of that in the eye, you've got a problem. It's a good idea to wear it with any of these.
Lung protection. All three of these put out a lot of dust, and you don't want to inhale it. Metal is bad enough, but when sanding some woods, particularly some tropical hardwoods, it's worse: they're actually toxic. Ebony and cocobolo are two of the worst, they'll make your skin itch(especially if you're sweating), and they can do a job on your lungs; so will some synthetics like pakkawood. A dust mask or some kind of respirator is advised. Strongly. A lot of pros have a vacuum system set up with an inlet at each tool to suck up most of it, and they still wear a mask.
Fire. If you let a lot of dust accumulate, it's a definate fire hazard. Wood dust, metal dust, epoxy dust, leather, if it builds up it can be a problem. A shop vac is a very handy tool.

This is, again, a basic on this. If I remember something else about them, I'll add it in.

Well, crap

I spent a large part of the day on a ladder cleaning out the last three drain channel sections on the carport. They were so solidly clogged that I had to cut another hole to do it. So out came the hole saw, whine went the drill, and went to work the the gutter blaster.

That got one channel clear, the other two I had to take a stiff wire with a hook on the end and start fishing crap out. Leaves, bits of plastic bag, small pieces of old shingle...

And bird nests. Two of them, with a total of four dead baby birds. Damn, damn, damn. If I'd know there were nests there, I'd have held off on those for a month or so until the little ones could get out. But I flat could not see any way they could have, so I went ahead. I hate it when something like that happens. It was a stupid damn place for a nest, because the first hard rain they'd have flooded and killed them, but I still hate it.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The opinions of Europe, at least some of it

Varifrank has this piece on the opinions of many Europeans about the U.S. Go read it.

We've got two things here. First is the difference between their thoughts on us and ours on them. In many areas I'm sure it's different, but the main attitude of people I've been around is "You don't like us? Big deal, then leave us alone, we've got more important things to worry about". Their thoughts on us seem to be "You are simpleminded, and close to barbarians, and don't take what we tell you into proper account! You have to change as we say!" Which doesn't go over real well here. Mind you, I'm speaking of 'old Europe'; much of 'new Europe' seems to have a different take on things, from what I've read. In any case, it's the contrast between 'you have to change as we dictate' and 'go away, we're busy'. You may have noticed that nothing so irritates someone telling you how to change as being ignored, which would account for some of the noise from the EUnuchs(as Misha calls them).

In case you haven't figured it out, I really don't give a rat's butt what they think. Various things led me to this, but part was nicely summed up by a cartoon I saw back during the mess in the Balkans: a man(German, I think) was reading the headline in his morning paper(Mass Murder in Kosovo or something similar) and telling his wife "This is terrible! Why don't the Americans do something?". The obvious question was "This is in your damn backyard, why don't YOU do something about it?" And it was asked, and there was never a good answer. That mess wasn't the only thing, but it was a definite factor in my opinion.

The second thing that comes into consideration is the deference given by many here to the opinion of the Europeans, on everything. "We can't act without U.N. approval, we need to approval of our allies, we NEED to consult before we act"- with 'consult' meaning 'get their stamp of approval or we CAN'T act'- on any issue at hand. Had a nasty argument one night with an acquaintance on this, she insisting we had to have the approval of EVERYONE before we acted- everyone apparently meaning France, Germany and Russia in the case in question- otherwise it wasn't 'legitimate' action. It seemed to be of paramount importance to her to get the approval of the U.N., these countries in particular, before we should be allowed to act. And that 'allowed' part really set me off. In the aftermath of 9/11 we found out what the NATO pacts were worth now that the Soviet Union is gone; insisting that we had to have the approval of every sniffy premier, president, etc. before we could act pissed me off. And it still does. She probably wouldn't have approved of us taking the action we did after the tsunami disaster without the U.N. being in control; never mind that it was almost two weeks as I recall before the U.N. actually got someone there to look around and decide where to set up their HQ(luxury hotel with catering) and set up meetings about who should do what in what approved manner. She'd probably have agreed with Claire Short that only the U.N. had the 'moral authority' to act(bad words and screaming deleted). I flat refuse to agree that we have to have the approval of anyone to act in self-defense, this including in some cases whacking someone before they can do what they're planning.

Note: a D.A. once told me that if someone makes it plain that they intend to hurt you, you don't have to wait for them to strike you before you act. No, you can't shoot someone down the street for making threatening noises; if someone is telling you they're going to beat the crap out of you, you don't have to wait for them to start before you act. If this is true for an individual, why should we as a country have to wait for someone threatening to hurt us to do it before we act? If you're going to make snarky noises about stomping anyone we disagree with, save it; that's not what I'm saying and you know it.

One other thing Varifrank points out is that the europeans in question seem to think that we HAVE to have their good opinion and we HAVE to be their friends. And we don't HAVE to have either. We don't have to be their friends, and we don't HAVE to care about their opinions. I think, at some point in the future, this is going to be pointed out to them in some really loud way, and they won't like it. It's liable to be interesting.

More on (some) cops and guns

Head's Bunker has a picture of a NYC cop. Take a look: obvious lifter so he takes conditioning seriously, body armor, AR-15... WITH THE SIGHT ON BACKWARDS! From the comments, it has been confirmed as a real picture, no photoshopping. So many questions...

The most basic is, how the hell do you take something like this out of the shop? Any time I've picked up something with an electronic sight, I turn the thing on and look through it; wouldn't you think someone taking a weapon out on duty would do the same, if only to make sure the battery is good?

It's enough to make your head hurt.