“Reading was not fashionable in the eighteen-fifties”

A delightful book worth seeking out is The Fantastic City by Amelia Ransome Neville, (link to free ebook, good luck on finding a hard copy) primarily for its humanizing nuggets of golden-state history (“Beckwourth, the explorer, lately returned from the Pacific Coast, sat near us and always ordered ‘apple pie’ for dessert”). But they’d be dull lumps indeed without her droll wit and often startlingly modern prose, viz:












“There were female freaks called ‘blue-stockings’….”

In a 19th-century memoir?



Ever pick up a book, thumb it open, and become captured by a single phrase? That one did it for me.

That, kids, is what you get when the writer’s in the later stage of life, a time of no fucks given, but perhaps many regrets.

Oh yes, regrets: “I am aware in this year of grace…”:








Which then segues into the passage quoted in this post’s title, and initially excerpted above. Gives the whole excerpt another level of meaning, don’t it? And this memoir of San Francisco was indeed completed in the certainly quite literate Ms. Neville’s later stage of life. Writing in the 1920s, her voice is far from that of an 1850s jeune fille, but captures the requisite innocence nonetheless.

I came to this book via a reference to the enigmatic Blind Boss of San Francisco, whose Ravenswood estate lies but a few miles away from mine, and was the source of not a few of the hall trees that furnish our home. Fun stuff.

This is Ms. Neville (Heya Phil, y’all know the Rickards?):














I’m convinced tables of contents were once intended as marketing tools. If you’re not yet convinced this book’s worth perusing, well, check out the contents:















A belated Merry Christmas, everybody, and do let us know what lit’r’y treasures, or other things worth sharing, that you might have come across during our sort-of-hiatus.

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Well That’s Interesting

Walter Russell Mead neatly catches the irony that, just as Obama handed the Palestinians a resounding political victory, a sober look at the situation suggests that the Palestinians have not been this weak, this divided, or this helpless in many decades.

In like manner, the Iranian regime, flush with its success in Aleppo, is increasingly riven.  Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has had two medical events in the past 10 days, and the scrambling for the succession has resumed….

What would President Trump do if Khamenei passed from the scene, and millions of Iranians took to the streets again?  The president-elect has said he’s not a great enthusiast of regime change, but it’s hard to imagine he’d abandon the Iranians as Obama did seven years ago.

–Michael Ledeen, “Bye-Bye Obama.”

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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.

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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.


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.


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


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.


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.

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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.


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.

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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.

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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.


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