It’s been a while

Yeah, so I guess I owe an explanation.

The new job is going well, productivity wise and project coolness wise, but damn, the boss and I are not getting along for the past couple weeks and I’m not sure how long we’re going to be able to keep it together. I don’t like going in in the morning and when I’m leave for the day I have to recharge my attitude so that I’m not a prick to everyone I come across.

As the saying goes “The struggle is real.”

Sorry y’all, but I walked blindly into a den of stress junkies. I’m about solutions, and I have solutions to that which ills the shop, but not the power to enact them. I’m working on it, but in the mean time, I’m an insufferably rude asshole.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Ta-Da

So, two weeks off from the blog. Yeah, so, now that work is slowing down a bit as I get caught up, the wife has stated that I need to do some repairs on the home front. Spending time sitting at the computer is not making her happy, so I stayed away.

In other news, I spent a few days doing some installation work at a shop that I cannot show you the pics I took just yet because they’re not open yet. The shop is kind of like Jurassic Park, because no expense was spared and there is live foliage. However, on their opening weekend, you’ll get to see the inside and the basic metalwork I did.

In pics, I recently spent a decent amount of time manufacturing these beer tap tops for the chain.

20160801_151653a

One of my fellow employees attaches the wooden parts and tightens them together after these aluminum tops cool off. Yes, that’s my hood.

Lastly, this last weekend was the party for my brother’s 40th b-day. I waited until the last minute to find his gift because I wanted something funky and spontaneous. My plan worked at the first garage sale I went to that morning, and here is Bob with his mooseknuckle.

20160806_164110a

He loved it and I’ve since gotten a dozen pics of other party goers posing with it.

PS: I’m in my last week of product testing and Ill have a review of an awesome new product next Monday.

Posted in Kewel!, Life in the Atomic Age | 2 Comments

Catching Up

I’m still in the process of getting the metal shop I hope to inherit caught up. And still putting in 60+ hour weeks to do so.

One of the projects I was looking forward to getting at was a trellis for a local apartment complex. The specs are 14ft tall, 16ft wide and 4ft deep. The uprights were completed before my first day and shipped out for installation on my first day.

Sadly, when I went to the site to get the final measurements of the uprights for the trellis top, I discovered that the installers put the damn things in so that the top brackets are 90 degrees off. Basically, I wanted them to face east-west so that the main cross members could rest between them. Instead, they are facing north-south and I have had to redesign the cross members to fit the mistake.

Hence, the bump-out

20160723_121502a

My boss wanted it all mechanically attached (lots of bolts and washers) so that we didn’t have to rent a crane. This is it all assembled on Saturday. We’ll be taking it apart and sending it off for powder coating today. It should be back by Wednesday or Thursday and we hope to install it the following day.

One of the cooler projects that dropped into my lap was some very custom bits for a trade show booth for one of the clients we work with. I hit the fabricators trifecta twice this week, building with carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminum all in one day.

One of the aluminum items I put together was this set of “branches” for an outfitting company that are made from 3/8″ aluminum round bar.

20160719_145025a

I’m not yet sure what I’ll be up to this week, but I do know I will be only working a half-day on Wednesday so that I can take my sister to see the “Weird Al” Yankovic concert for her birthday.

So maybe I’ll have pics of that too for you. Have a good week if I don’t get a chance later on to say hi.

Posted in Kewel!, Life in the Atomic Age | 1 Comment

Rewarding

One of the other projects at the new job that was in pieces when I arrived was a set of 17 bar stools for the VIP Lounge of a local casino.

They are no longer just pieces.

20160715_103627a

It’s a horrible pic of a dozen of the stools. The other five are already strapped up for shipping. Some of the details you can’t see is that the name of the lounge is laser cut into the foot. Also, both the uprights of the backs and the foot pegs are made of plumbing parts. Surprising to all of us, they are remarkably comfortable. So much so that when the wife stopped by with lunch a couple days ago she sat in one and said that we were no longer looking for new dining room chairs because I was going to be building a set of 4-legged versions of these.

Which means I’ll likely be building a frame for a new dining room table too shortly thereafter. I’ve already consulted with the wood shop guys on the table top.

In other news, I’ve rewarded myself for the long workdays over this past month by putting money down on a new pistol that looks remarkably like this one.

Full size 9mm. The place I’m getting it from even has some of the factory 21rnd mags, so I think this one will be getting a holosight.

Posted in Have Gun, Will Travel, Kewel!, Life in the Atomic Age | 3 Comments

Still alive and kicking

The food truck didn’t run me over. But my paycheck says that I worked 140 hours in two weeks. My next check will have another 55 hours on it from that truck. It left late last Thursday afternoon.

And it’s back. The employees unplugged the cable that goes from the generator to the fuse box and forgot to secure it, and subsequently ran it over on the way to its first event. So I’ll be doing some quickie electrical work on it Monday.

But after that, back to the cool projects. First up, some surprisingly very comfortable custom bar stools for the VIP room of one of the local big casinos. They’re so comfortable, The Wife has requested me to make some with regular chair legs for my dining room.

Then, a very classy trellis for a the main driveway entrance at a new condo complex going in not too far from my house.

So, my apologies for going silent during my workathon, but do stay tuned in here every now and again to see some cool stuff.

Posted in Life in the Atomic Age | 4 Comments

Head down. Pushing forward

The first unfinished project I walked into at the new job is a custom fabrication of an interior for a food truck. I hate this vehicle with a passion and worry that if I ever see it on the street I may light it on fire. It has to be done by Friday, so I have something to look forward to, but until then, if the sun is up, I’m probably at work.

I put in nearly 70 hours last week. I’d post pics but I seriously hate this inanimate object.

Please enjoy the post below this one.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Those childhood memories

I put this on the bookface, but no one responded to it, so I likely screwed up the post.

Hopefully someone will enjoy it here.

phil_desert_1985

I was going through some old photos my sister sent me a while back and found this one of me at the spry age of 13 competing in my first 3-gun style match in 1985.

The stages were as follows:

Rifle – Start at the 500yd line. Time plus hits plus penalties for less then 40hits on a CMP bullseye target. Fire 10 shots from any position. I went prone with dad’s M1A. After 10, clear your rifle, grab your ammo and run to the 400yd line. Repeat. Then to the 300 and then to the 200. After your last 10 shots, clear and rack your rifle. Grab your shotgun and ammo from the rack and head into the heavily forested trail.

Shotgun – Time plus penalties. I used my Rem 870. You walk along the marked trail and engage the 25 steel turkeys and pigs. Some are white and some are black. Most are not at ground level. If you pass a mark known to the RO you can no longer engage that target and will be told to stop and the target will be pointed out to you. You may then carry on. At the end of the trail you are to clear and rack your shotgun and draw your pistol and hope you brought enough ammo.

Pistol – Time plus score plus penalties. As the sharp eyed among you might see, a Colt Series 70 Combat Commander was my weapon of choice. You enter the clearing and encounter the water trap. You must go prone in the water trap or face a 100 point penalty. You then engage the moving target at 30yds twice. Once r-to-l and once l-to r. You may then exit the water trap and go prone in the freshly raked sand trap 25ft away (and another 100 point penalty if you don’t). Engage the mover twice again. Best 10 hits is your score (penalty for less than 10 hits). Now that you are wet and covered in sand you must enter the structure waiting for you. It is a kill house. 4 rooms and a very scary hallway. 10 targets that either pop-up from behind furniture or out from around corners. Best two hits on each is your score (penalties again for less than 2 each). As you exit the structure you encounter 3 plates. 1 each at 25ft, 50 ft and 75 ft. Engage at your leisure. Last plate to drop is your time.

It was the best weekend I’d had that I couldn’t discuss at school the next day. I came in 5th out of 18 (actually 20, but 2 people took the water and sand penalties, so they don’t count). Pretty much everyone who participated helped run the course after their turn. I ran the timer for the pistol course, as well as raked sand and refilled the water trap.

Posted in Have Gun, Will Travel, Kewel! | 2 Comments

Not going quite as planned

It was an interesting week at the new job.

First, the guy who was going to stick around for 2-3 weeks to help get me transitioned and caught up quit on Tuesday. Apparently, he thinks I’m quite capable.

Second, the owner of the business was out of town from Tuesday to Thursday, so I didn’t get a sit down meeting with him until Friday morning. We talked for 90 minutes or so. He is of a mind that I’m going to walk on him too because there is so much to do (we’re now behind on three projects and about to add a fourth).

Third, I put in 55 hours last week to try and prove that I’m not going anywhere. I was often frustrated, and pulled in four different directions, for most of the week, and it was still the most fun I’ve had at “work” in a very long time. I’ll likely break 60 hours this week in an effort to slow/stop the backup.

Otherwise, everything is going quite well. I’m thoroughly enjoying the new gig. They’ve given me company work wear and a set of keys and the alarm code for the place. For the most part, they let me know the order of importance of the jobs and leave me alone to work. I hope to post some pics soon of some of the projects, which are themselves very cool. I’m still attempting to get the scoop on how much I can tell y’all about them (where they’re going and whatnot).

Anyway, stay tuned. The ride is bumpy, but the woman sitting across from you is wearing a low-cut shirt and no bra.

Posted in Kewel!, Life in the Atomic Age | 2 Comments

The Mastermind

You want to read all of this series. The Cliff’s Notes are here and a good place to start. Bonus North Carolina Bosom Buddy holster-bra inventor/international assassin connection.

Subtly, the flunky named his new bike “Blood Money.”

Stephen Hsu’s post (hat tip) emphasizes the intellectual interest in the high-iq loner; for me, the series has more of a practical fascination.

Le Roux (not pictured above) had the classic entrepreneur’s approach: find a business model, start up an LLC or inc. to run it siloed from your other businesses, say “go” and see if it works. If it doesn’t, kill it. If it does, let it run while you use the money to start up something else. Diversify. Competent, smart people like Le Roux grow business ventures like Topsy. I work for some of them.

Those who think Trump University reveals something dishonest or fraudulent about the man don’t understand the extent to which our economy has turned in recent years to rent-seeking as a business model, with regulatory capture and evasion as costs of doing business.

“Trump has a failed magazine!” said the journalists who couldn’t start a business if they tried. “Trump Steaks was a failure!” Wrong, idiots, those ventures started with a retail business model, and when that didn’t work they got repurposed to supply Trump’s other businesses. Trump Steaks is nothing more than a meat version of the private-label stock-market-ticker hosting business where I started my career.

(1) Find something somebody wants

(2) License it so you’re the monopoly supplier

(3) Profit.

Trump University? Hey, the government’s guaranteeing student loans, no matter what price we charge for tuition! Let’s get some of that action! Lawsuits are a cost of doing business. Make sure you pay the liability insurance premiums you baked into the financials before you pressed “Go.”

Rent-seeking, baby.

And with rent-seeking, since it’s the regulators that can kill you, you need to limit your exposure to them. On the back end, you make it tough for them to figure out what you’re doing (“regulatory evasion”); on the front end, you make them like you (“regulatory capture”).

Part of limiting liability and regulatory exposure can involve judicious use of nominees and anonymity. It ain’t just for criminals. Witness Le Roux, whose main revenue source (prescription drug marketing) arguably wasn’t criminal at all, just subject to regulatory fines because his doctors filled scrips “too fast.”

Before Le Roux started putting accounts in other people’s names, he had his name involved a little bit,” Jody told me. A few of those I had encountered myself: Le Roux’s name attached to a Florida company cited in a 2008 FCC complaint, for instance, about a marketing call made to someone in the National Do Not Call Registry.
“If he had gone the anonymous route a little bit earlier in the enterprise, we would have no chance of figuring out who was really behind this,” Jody said. “It would have just taken too long to get past that first layer. He got greedy. He probably could have closed up shop in 2006 or 2007, been a rich millionaire, and never have been investigated at all.”

Emphasis mine. I laughed at the Panama Papers; despite all the pearl-clutching, all they “exposed” was a well-established practice of using shell corporations and nominees that’s simply been making more and more business sense every year, both to limit liability and reduce regulatory exposure, since I graduated from law school twenty years ago. If I don’t recommend it to a client I’m committing malpractice. Any entrepreneur would be a fool not to take routine steps to make it harder for any government busybody to drill right through. Look, Le Roux’s big business was linking up patients who wanted inexpensive prescriptions with doctors who wanted to prescribe them. No libertarian should have a problem with that.

Note especially the final part of the series, where Le Roux demonstrates that he knew exactly what posed a criminal risk and what didn’t. It ain’t conspiracy to commit murder if you do it in a country without a conspiracy statute. It ain’t illegal to set up a private army and buy weapons for it if you do it in a place with no functioning laws, like Somalia. And if you end up in a bad jurisdiction, like the US, well, you can evade any charge if you make sure you’re valuable enough to cut a deal with prosecutors who want to make a name for themselves. The risk is just part of doing business, and when you calculate it that way, it ain’t all that risky, is it?

Le Roux had the clandestine back-end set up right; all economies are Fascist Italy nowadays, and you just have to make sure the government leaves you alone with some judicious bribes; he did that well in his Third World base. But in the First World, the bribes have to be done a bit differently. Le Roux didn’t have that front-end part set up. Creating a  couple of nonprofits, doing some visible charitable work, and paying some lobbying fees would have done it. See: Bill and Hillary.

Posted in Kewel!, The Government is Not Your Friend | 1 Comment

And so it begins

Friday was my last day of work at my first professional welding job after finishing my degree. Today is my first at my second.

A couple weeks ago I emailed one of my former instructors and told him I was ready to move on from my employer and attached my resume asking him to give it the once over. We had some back and forth about my resume and then a couple weeks later he told me that the other instructor wanted to see me.

I showed up at the college’s metal fabrication shop and spoke with him there. Essentially, another one of his former students was working at a small, private fab shop, but he had recently earned his pipe welding certification and wanted to move into that part of the industry. The guy had left a message with this instructor to send folks who could do fab work his way so that he didn’t leave his current boss hanging too badly.

I called his number and then met him the next afternoon at that shop. We talked for a 30 minutes or so and did some TIG welding for him. He asked me to come back and spend a goodly portion of the next day with him at the shop and interview with the owner.

I did that and locked the job down by midday. They wanted me to start the following day, but I didn’t want to burn the bridge I’d spent 14 months building. So I put in 1 week notice instead of two and I start at the new job this morning.

No names will be revealed as yet, but the shop mostly does exterior and interior design of commercial spaces, but also some higher end residential design. Once I get up to speed at the shop, hopefully in 2-3 weeks, the other guy will bow out and it’ll be me doing all the fabrication work. The owner and I agreed that after 90 days we’ll review where I began and where I’m at then, and see where we’re at. The better I do, the more of a raise I’ll get. I lateraled my current pay rate to him. That’s how happy I am to be getting this job.

The best part of this is that he wants to sell more metal in his designs, but he hasn’t had anyone with my skill-set come to work for him. He has had welders working there, but not fabricators. They can cut and weld, but none of them has had full-on fab experience and he has had to hold their hands through each project.

He is as excited for to work with me as I am to work with him. This is the job I wanted when I left school, but wasn’t ready for. I’m pretty sure I’m ready for it now. During the interview, he asked about my tables. Apparently, my former instructor had mentioned them to the guy who currently has the job to help him remember me. I showed him the pics of them that I had on my phone and his eyes got huge. So, if he can sell that to a customer, you all could soon be seeing that under your plates while you’re eating.

Anyway, wish me luck. I’m hoping that this will be very exciting.

Posted in Kewel! | 6 Comments