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Monday, April 6, 2020

Smash!

Like any human being, I can't take an unlimited amount of crap before exploding. A short while back I did a few politically-themed posts and then took a break from that to post some project stuff. And just as I take breaks from political writing, I also sometimes need to take a break from listening to or reading too much news. At bare minimum I always read enough each day to stay current, but unless I feel overwhelmed I frequently pursue much more than just the daily 'need-to-knows'.

A couple of days ago I went on a short news break, but it wasn't long before I felt confronted by one inexplicable outrage after another, until I literally felt like lifting my replica mace off the wall and SMASHING things......just to let off steam. 


This mace-wielding 6" plastic knight made by Marx back in the mid-60s was among my favorite toys as a boy. I even purchased a re-issue of this set and have them in my collection room. He's ready to smash and so am I.


Here is a short list of the most recent affronts to my sanity:

1: Trump uses his news conference not to inform us on Covid-19 updates and progress, but to brag about a renewed push to battle illegal drugs. What a transparent act of self-serving misdirection! First, THIS is NOT a priority right now. Second......if you really want to shut down the cartels, just legalize and stop the nonsense. Third, I couldn't listen to anyone else speak on the topic without noticing that at least half of their podium time was devoted to sycophantically thanking the president. I wondered if it would have been more time efficient to just have Trump bend over the podium with his pants down so that Barr and the others could just line up and take turns licking his crack as he rambled on. It was so apparent to me that this was such a blatant publicity stunt that I was amazed at how little was written about it. I think that's because very few want to come out and criticize anything that "fights drugs". It's a political waltz to a song out of tune. So......


SMASH!

2: Then he fired Michael Atkinson and defended it in a typically Trumpian trash-mouth shit-shower of insults and lies. To be honest, there was a certain inevitability to this, but the timing? The need? The mendacity coating it?

SMASH!

But the one that really got me was #3: In an act of pure deadly, cruel, petty spite, President Shit-bag refused to re-open the enrollment for the Affordable Care Act  coverage. Even his own party supported this. Yeah, one could say, "oh you should have thought about that before the pandemic." But is this who we are? Now? During this? I mean, who would it hurt? With Easter so close one could say that if Jesus was willing to be crucified and die just to open the gates of heaven, why wouldn't that paragon of morality we have staining the White House furniture open these "gates"? He doesn't even have to suffer to do it. Is it because people refer to it as "Obamacare"? 

It is just so.............shitty. It's the act of a petulant child.....who is as I said before....also a walking shit-bag. This one was so unnecessary that I felt the rage of Daniel Plainview (played by Daniel Day-Lewis ) from "There Will Be Blood" confronting the hypocrisy of the poster child of the Evangelicals with a bowling pin:

SMASH SMASH SMASH!

"I'm finished."



Friday, April 3, 2020

Leather work

In the midst of quarantines, curfews, and lock-downs, I suggested to bored, house-bound readers to go beyond their TV screens and indulge or discover a hobby. I offered to post pictures of anything folks sent to me as examples of the talent among us and as inspirations for others.

Tomy from the blog Tomy's wife sent me some shots of wood and leather work he has done. It is an impressive combination of shaping, stitching, AND embossing! Enjoy:


A balsa wood carving.

A wistful princess embossed into leather.

The inside of a wallet......

....and the embossed outside of said wallet. 
That eagle harkens back to the designs of heraldry I enjoy so much.

Thank you for sending these in, Tomy. I hope they inspire someone to try something during these challenging times. And if you want an idea for another leather project, I offer this for inspiration:



Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Churros

This past weekend, Rosa cheerfully informed me that she wanted my help in the kitchen. I smiled because I know by now what this sounds like versus what it means, and what that innocent declaration translates into is: "I have an idea for you to make something I want.....and I'll watch and clean up."

Rosa took this shot of me in my apron (an Alcatraz apron my daughter gave me) at the beginning of our adventure.

This time it was a Spanish version of the Italian 'zeppole' called 'churros'. It is essentially fried dough sprinkled with sugar. To make these though, you need to end up with a soft dough that you then extrude from a piping bag into the hot oil. Unfortunately our initial dough was more of a batter despite following the recipe precisely. Once in the bag, it just dripped out rather than needing to be squeezed. I knew we had to thicken it, but Rosa said, "no let's try it first."

Reluctantly I indulged her, and after the batter dripped into the pot like .....well I'm not going to say what it looked like, we ended up with this:

It looks like burnt goose shit.

After we got this result I just looked at my Honey and said in a calm, droll tone, "I still can't figure out how you thought that would be a good idea?" For some reason my comment affected my Honey more than I expected and Rosa just started to laugh uncontrollably for quite a while before she was able to resume.

I thickened the remaining mixture with more flour (quite a bit more actually) and then we tried again. We worked together with me squeezing the bag and Rosa snipping the dough every few inches and letting the piece drop into the oil. As a result the next batch turned out OK, even though they didn't end up straight. But, it WAS our first time.

Rosa made 'cinnamon sugar' and we shook the churros in a paper bag to coat them. Here are the finished treats:

A little curvy. (Like my Honey)

Rosa told me how vendors in Peru would routinely sell these on the streets of Lima. So for her, this was a throwback to her past. For me it was a fun exercise, but even though I had a couple, I am not a 'sweet dessert' person. Still, they came out fine. 

So, if you're home and bored? Try a new recipe! I can't imagine anyone not having the needed ingredients for churros already in their pantry.

Also.....it's April 1st, so lighten up these trying days with some levity. Just don't do something like telling someone you tested positive for Covid 19 and then when their eyes go wide say, "April Fools!" You might get your ass kicked.......and you'd deserve it!




Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Another crossbow

Back in February of 2018, I constructed a crossbow that looked real and functioned, but only worked on the low level of a toy. I really don't have the space to fire a true 300 lb+ draw weight weapon capable of killing and wanted the piece as both wall decor and prop for our annual RenFaires. You can refer back to those posts: Crossbow Project & Finished Crossbow, if you wish. 

Now, with time to indulge in more hobbies, I am planning to make another, but I want this one to be smaller and look more like a museum piece rather than a re-enactment weapon. I started to research some genuine pieces and am trying to decide which one......or which combination of designs.......I am going to attempt to make. Here are the candidates:

1: mostly wood but with an elegant profile.

2: Ivory and wood arbalest......but difficult to make out the detail.



3. Beautiful but intricate carving...... this would take some time.


4: Very nice but a bit too reminiscent of the one I already made.


5. A bit stocky, but still nice.


6. A strong contender......but not a definite.


7. A beautiful, but mostly ivory, piece.


8. Again a lot of carving, but........wow. I particularly like the shape of the butt.



9. A nice blend of wood and ivory......the side design would be very difficult to replicate, but worth the effort. I don't like the exaggerated hook to the trigger mechanism though.

Each has a charm I appreciate, and each has its own set of creative challenges, but overall I feel like a "kid in a candy store" with these possibilities and have bounced from one to the next with equal enthusiasm......only to go back to another, and then another. I can't even claim a leading contender because as soon as I think I have one, I see something in another that lures me away.

One departure that is definite is that those shown which are true 'arbalests' (having a steel rather than wooden 'bow') would only be used as inspiration for the body of my weapon, since I am not going to use steel. I also find myself leaning to designs with both ivory and wood.....but almost all have that to some degree.

decisions......decisions.......

Monday, March 30, 2020

Covid-19 goes viral

During the week of the 16th through the 20th my honey, Rosa, kept me locked and frustrated as she had me change her after work and see to her needs and wants. On one of those days, she sent me this:


That Celtic Knot locket around Rosa's neck discreetly houses the key to the chastity device I was wearing for her.

My honey works at a hospital as a billing person in the E.R. She deals directly with patients but thankfully is protected by a glass window and hospital-issued masks. Dealing daily with this somewhat scary reality has prompted us to strive to find things to enjoy in the midst of it all. 

NJ is struggling as the 'other NY'. We are right behind them in cases, with double to triple the number of cases in any other state. 

State &  Total Cases         
New York        59,648          
New Jersey      13,386  
California         6,358
Michigan          5,486
Massachusetts 4,955
Florida         4,950
Washington 4,896
Illinois         4,596
Louisiana         3,540
Pennsylvania 3,419
Texas         2,808  
Georgia      2,683  
Colorado    2,307  
Connecticut 1,993  
Tennessee         1,818  
Ohio                 1,653   
Indiana         1,514  
Maryland         1,239  
North Carolina 1,167   
Wisconsin         1,154  
Nevada            920  
Arizona            919  
Missouri            903  
Virginia            890  
Alabama            827   
Mississippi            758  
Utah                    719   
Oregon            548   
Minnesota            503  
Arkansas            449   
Kentucky            439  
Oklahoma            429  
District Of Columbia 401  
Iowa                    336   
Kansas            319  
Idaho            310
Rhode Island    294  
New Hampshire    258
Maine            253
New Mexico    237
Vermont            235
Delaware            232  
Hawaii            175
Montana            161
West Virginia    124
Nebraska            120
Alaska            102
North Dakota         98
South Dakota      90
Wyoming              87
  
We are in a Governor-mandated curfew and self-isolating. Non-essential businesses are closed. Yet you rarely hear anything about us. It's amazing. The news talks about NY, which makes sense, but then you hear about California, Florida, and others but we are like the forgotten ugly step-sister.

But that's OK, we're used to it.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

End of the line

My train project is now complete. Here are some shots of the standing figures both inside and outside of the cars plus a couple of shots of how the figures look from behind the windows:

A coach attendant seating a "carpetbagger" while a little "inside joke" between me and Rosa reads. The priestly figure with glasses and umbrella in the lower right is a nod to "Father Brown" from the murder mystery series Rosa loves. The fact that clerical garb has changed little over time allowed me to put a priest from the late 1940's in a 19th century train.

A passenger asks a girl if this is her first train ride.

Another coach attendant talks to a man with a scarf.

A sooty fireman with his coal shovel.

The engineer and two brakemen.

Passengers getting some air.

Passengers enjoying the ride as a young boy waves from the window.

More passengers, including my favorite pairing of a gentleman turned in his seat to talk to the man behind him.

While this endeavor seems at an end....hence the blog post's title, I know myself enough to realize I will probably continue to tweak this ensemble as ideas and improvements occur to me. But for now it's time to move on to other things!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Beleaguered conservatives

On Dan’s blog a reader brought up something I have heard many times: "In today’s world, as long as you’re bashing Trump…then it’s okay to make any nasty, mean spirited, inaccurate comment you want…simply because it’s him. If anyone wants to test that premise, T fan or not, just as a fun exercise to illustrate my point…..just start inserting “Obama” into some of the PERSONAL attack comments (not policy or “job related”) that are so welcomed these days. The world would implode."


That would have gone over really well.



Or imagine I suppose this type of treatment for Trump?



Classy, right?


Or here's a nice one. Very pro-Obama and so respectful. 

If what is in that quoted assertion IS the case, then I would say, while legal under the First Amendment, it's not particularly fair or nice. But.........is it true?  What’s interesting is that it is simply not my experience and I even have a fairly quick and revealing exercise to prove my point. I actually offered a slightly different version of this exercise in my "Experiment" post on June 14th, 2018.

Now, since that post dealt more with the antagonism between left and right and this is more focused on Trump, I changed the parameters to meet that distinction. In thinking of the two extremes one side could cruelly mock with regard to Trumpian politics, ‘Conservative vs. Liberal’ is a pretty solid pairing. So go to Google search, specifically “images” and type in “conservative Trump memes”. Observe the results. Now type in “liberal Trump memes” and observe the results. Now, tell me that there is this huge anti-conservative imbalance. 


An example of a "liberal" Trump meme?

One would have expected "conservative Trump memes" to be pro-Trump and anti-liberal.....and they are. But you would then think that "liberal Trump memes" would be anti-Trump, and they're not. The memes are a repeat of what one finds on the other search. Why? If everything is so predisposed to being anti-Trump, why is the search not more balanced, or even imbalanced in favor of the liberal view?

Since Trump vs. Obama was the main example given, I then decided to use that. Searching "Trump vs. Obama memes" yielded a far more balanced result, BUT it was definitely balanced. There was no preponderance of pro-Obama material. But search "Trump vs. Obama cartoons" and it's heavily weighted towards anti-Obama pieces. Interesting.



Where I will concede an imbalance in opposition to Trump is on "late night" TV shows. But when you look at where these shows are produced and the people hosting them, that isn't surprising. In contrast, talk radio in my anecdotal experience seems slanted the other way. So, I would say that at the very least, things are balanced. 

Now, in real life things change drastically depending on where you live, what you're doing, and who you are talking to. I live in a very "blue" state, but I can easily locate fanatical pro-Trump people just by realigning my targeted audience. In fact, here's something that can occasionally be seen in parking lots all along our highways:


I took this shot from my cell phone. This thing is legit and makes the rounds regularly.

I have seen no such anti-Trump travelling side-show. Among my circle, there is also balance. I know all kinds of people. However, the ONLY ones who ever send really nasty, almost hateful crap via email are the conservatives. In fact, this is kind of my usual experience. I see strong anti-Trump people and some are admittedly a bit crazy, but the really ugly commentary almost always comes from the right. 

One frustration my conservative friends have is their inability to use their usual anti-liberal/anti-Democrat tropes on me. I am no fan of the Democrats as a group. I have not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in decades. I didn't vote for Obama and I didn't vote for Hillary, and I only voted for Bill once. In fact, I have often said that one of the main reasons I hate Trump is that because of him, I have had to back away from my criticism of woke-liberals, hypocritical Democrats, and incompetent media coverage. He has forced me to take sides with people I would rather be criticizing. 

Whenever I have nodded along with a pro-Trumper's attack on Hillary or some of the hypocrisy in the Obama administration, or some far-left woke nonsense, they lose their steam. Then, when I confront them on the factual issues I have with Trump, things that came not from slanted media coverage but his own mouth, they sort of slump. Several times they have mumbled things like, "yeah, I wish he wouldn't say/do stuff like that."

So, let's put on our big-boy pants here. Conservatives are the ones who popularized the derisive epithet "snowflake". Doing so was brilliant. An effective strategy is to accuse the other side of whatever you feel most insecure about yourself. Trump does this so frequently it's almost funny.  But while I know plenty of liberal snowflakes, I also have seen conservatives cry 'foul' way more often than these self-proclaimed stoics of 'saying it like it is' and to stand tough would like to admit. 

In conclusion.....you want to say Obama abused the office in international policy? I'll agree. You want to call Hillary a crook? I'll agree and probably chuckle as well. You want to say that a woke liberal getting riled over someone wearing a Native American costume for Halloween is ridiculous? I'll pat your back. But, if you then start to feel a bit more comfortable around me and say something like 'marriage is between a man and a woman only' or 'it's supposed to be Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve', I'll probably tell you to extend the same entitlement to living as you want for yourself to these people.....you know, the American way. And, if you tell me......with a straight face......that Trump is sincerely putting America and the planet above his own needs, always tells the truth, and is a very moral and religious man? Well, sorry. You've just traded in your credibility for mindless adherence to the tenets of your tribe. So please spare your tears over how shamefully your hero is being treated. I have no sympathy, he is a name-calling bully who will say ANYTHING. Remember, nobody admires a snowflake.


And that truth swings left and right like a pendulum in a tornado.