Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Change of Pace

I had a little time on my hands the past few weeks, so my better half found a great project for me to put my mind and hands to.

The inspiration for this table came from a post she saw on and the simplicity and beauty of it inspired me a lot.

The first problem I saw and one that kept me thinking for awhile as I built the table and the base, which are pretty straight-forward, was how to figure the angle of the top and bottom cuts on the legs. I knew the two cuts had to be at the same angle because the base and top were parallel, but I also knew the angle could and would change depending upon how high the table stood.

Putting that in the back of my mind again I addressed the fact that I would like the table to be easily disassembled should the need to move it come up. For that I decided to use a plate on the top of the angled legs that would screw into top from the underside, thus adding another 3/4" to the project that would change my angle again. When and where was I going to come up with that darn angle solution?

Upon looking closely at my miter saw, which I received as a generous gift from a friend I helped to finish his house, I noticed a detente in the angle adjustment at 30 degrees. This was expected as 30 degrees is used in several instances in building a lot of things. But then I noticed a dotted line marking 32.6 degrees on the table. What the heck is this, I asked myself? It must have a purpose but what it was for escaped me entirely.

Placing the top and the base on their sides and at the location to give me the proper ending height of 39 inches, I laid the 4"x4" post across them at about the right place and saw the angle did, in fact, need to be near 30 degrees, but not quite.

Some feeling went through me and I decided to go with the 32.6 degree marking just to see if Karma was telling me something I didn't really know at the time.

Leaving plenty of length to re-cut the angle when and if it was off a bit, I cut both ends of the legs at the 32.6 degree setting while holding my breath. Amazingly, that setting was right on the money to give me both a flush fit and at the correct height! I really don't know how to explain it, but I am one to go with what works, damn the reason. What is it about 32.6 degrees that I don't understand?
Bare pine in final resting place.

In deciding the finish, we were going to place the table in the entry below a lovely mirror purchased at a home store called Tai Pan Trading. This store is now out of business in our area, having lost their lease. The mirror has a frame of dark brown with traces of copper running throughout.
Sealing coat of primer applied.

We decided that a faux type finish of near black over a solid base of copper might come close to matching this frame.

The copper color comes in either a latex brush on paint, or it can come in a spray can of enamel. For ease of application we decided on the spray paint solution and it seemed to work well, shining brightly in the high desert sun.

Final leather finish.
The top coat of black was cut with a glaze and applied over the copper using a sea sponge in a daubing or plunging effect. This, while being somewhat tedious to apply, gave the table a leathery appearance that matches well with the mirror frame.

Overall and from a slight distance the table takes on the espresso look of the mirror frame while being different enough  to set it off as an individual piece.

Oh, and the marking on the miter saw of 32.6 degrees? I found that when a carpenter is cutting for the angles used in crown molding, using this angle on the molding when laid flat on the miter table gives the perfect angle to a 90 degree corner. While I have no desire to install any crown molding in the near future, that mystery is solved and it was just a happy coincidence that it was the proper angle for our table as well.

Friday, October 21, 2011

What Does America Stand For?

What does America stand for?

This question resounds through emails, blogs and conversations during this, our election season. Can I answer it? No. I have no more chance of answering this than pigs flying. Instead I think that the real answer to this question is a composite of everything every American has already thought and written and said. That is complex matrix, but still just a smidgen of the complexity of America. I'll add my thoughts to the ongoing answer this way.

Recently my wife and I were able to take a driving trip from Kansas City, Missouri to Saint George, Utah to visit our co-in-laws. They had located there because after several yearly vacations to the area, they decided it was where they wanted to be. Packing up and leaving years of living behind them, they took that plunge to move on faith that jobs would be available to those wanting work. They had a dream and acted on it. The American life encourages its citizens to act on dreams and make them happen.

Driving across the Flint Hills of Kansas to the west and then through the imposing Rocky Mountains, I could not help but reflect upon what our predecessors thought when they made that journey in covered wagons, on horseback, and walking. Did they think of the riches ahead? Did they long for land and plenty of food for the raising? Did they just look at the wide open spaces and sky and feel like a minuscule speck on the back of the Earth? Did they despair of ever seeing their families and friends left behind? God knows they prayed for their loved ones that died along the trail, yet they somehow dredged up the courage to continue on. I think that all of this and more was going through their minds on that 2 to 3 month sally into their futures. My America was built on the hearts and backs of these brave and courageous men and women from all walks of life.

It is said that when the Golden Spike was driven and our country was crossed by the railroad, the talent and toughness of people going west dropped substantially because it was then easy to travel west. Keep in mind that there was really no law enforcement west of the Mississippi at that time. Before the railroad, people kept society by simply being human. Sure there were altercations. We all love stories of the “Wild West,” with its gunfights and land grabs. Remember though, that the vast majority of citizens did not engage in any of that. They tilled the land, helped their neighbor, cared for their family, and worshiped God. They built their lives, homes, churches and schools without any help from a King or an intrusive government. Success reigned in spite of, or because of, that.

America grew and prospered. An unlimited country to be plowed, sown, and reaped from, through hard work and fortitude. Was someone here already? Of course. The American Indian did not give up the land readily and easily. He fought and died for his heritage, just like his ancestors fought and won, sometimes lost, in taking land from other tribes. This country compensated for its expansion the best way it knew how at the time with reservations, jobs, and incentives. Now the American Indian is an integral part of the American mix. This was the one and only time we took lands in battle. From Italy to Germany, from Japan to Iraq, we fight in and for, sometimes against, but never occupy or annex. No; we rebuild what we wreck and set the country back on its feet.

Our founding leaders believed and put in writing that, “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This phrase begins with, “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” To be “self-evident,” means simply that there is no question about it. It is a fact of God and of humanity. We fought among ourselves 87 years later, to hold this truth above all others and to hold these states together. It was observed that the slavery society in part of our country was diametrically opposed to our root beliefs in the founding. This could not stand. Five hundred thousand of our ancestors died in this civil war. The Southern States and part of the North were decimated. Did we then go to Europe and ask for help to rebuild? No. We knuckled down and began the long journey again to rebuild this dream, this “social experiment.” We are not a “social experiment,” anymore. We are Americans and citizens of the greatest, most generous, and strongest country this planet has ever witnessed.

The United States is not perfect. God grant that we never will be. We learn and grow stronger from our mistakes. Sometimes our benevolence gets in the way of doing the right, or pragmatic thing and we'll make the same mistake again and again, but by and large, we'll pull through and the world will be a better place because we acted. To not act is an option that is not in the American operational handbook. Some would argue that the United States only wants to spread its form of government around the World. Any American would tell you that is an impossibility. This American culture and representative democracy was uniquely formed over many years by the types of people mentioned earlier. From the cries of, “No taxation without representation!” “Give me liberty or give me death!” “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!” “I have a dream!” Americans still have a dream, but it's hard to pass that dream to people of other nations who have been repressed or coddled by dictators or monarchy's their whole lives.

Well, this is my America. I've not told everything I wanted to, nor have I told it very elegantly, but I wanted to add to the stream of conscious thought. We are 300,000,000 strong and there are that many thoughts and stories about this country.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Be The People: A Call to Reclaim America's Faith & Promise

Carol M. Swain, PhD

The title of this book attracted me because I have felt for a long time that the direction of the United States of America has been drifting from the vision and hopes that the founding fathers had for it so many years ago. Since the Supreme Court decision in 1947 that there would be separation of church and state, the self-aggrandizing movement of the 1960's and 70's, to the legalization of abortion in 1973 this country has continued to be locked in a free fall of liberalization and selfishness that is breaking apart the links the nation has relied on.

Dr. Swain was born to a family of 12 in the rural poverty of the South in 1954, succeeded in graduating high school, put herself through college and graduate school to become a leading voice in bringing America back to the Judeo-Christian foundation of its beginning. She has seen the pain and the angst that the protests of the 1960's brought. She is a staunch supporter of what the country stood for and has the hopes that America will once again recognize the foundation that it was built upon.

The author addresses racism, prayer in school, abortion, immigration, the family, and our National Sovereignty in a straight-forward, pragmatic, well thought out discussion and gives solutions to the problems that plagued this nation. Written with a strong Christian voice, the book makes reasonable arguments for a return to the caring and family centric country that it was.

I recommend this book for those who have questions about the direction of the United States and concerns about the future. I received this book for free from in return for writing a review on line.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"God's Promises"

God's Promises for the American Patriot – Deluxe Edition
Dr. Richard G. Lee
Jack Countryman

“Inside the Bible's pages lie the answers to all the problems mankind has ever known.” A quote by President Ronald Reagan that illustrates America's story and God's word are inseparable. This is taken from the introduction to “God's Promises for the American Patriot.”

Having received this book free from Booksneeze for the express purpose of this review, I did not know what to expect. I somehow envisioned a coffee table book that had nice phrases in it that referred to our nation's founding. Maybe some pictures of the purple mountains or the shining seas. Then I opened the package and beheld this little jewel of a book and immediately knew that I held something important.

The book is small yet substantial having a hard cover layered in heavy, American flag paper and cushioned on the front. Opening the pages reveals heavy stock paper with an antique background motif and beautiful images and drawings on nearly every page. The book is of very special quality.

Laid out in a way that has a page out of history on the left with complimenting Bible passages on the right, this book begs the reader to return again and again. It gives a little story out of the history of the country and then displays how our founding fathers and citizens relied on the bible for answers during the construction of this nation. Never does it fail to please.

This book has a dedication page and I would encourage everyone to present it to a young person or friend. It is very worthwhile and will create many moments of reflection and pause.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A review

“Lies The Government Told You -
Myth, Power, and Deception in American History”

by: Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I opened this book, curious as to which of the many possible directions Judge Napolitano was going to take in his dissertation on the deception of the American government.

In seeing that the chapters are numbered as “Lies,” I felt that the book was going to simply be a hit piece based on one man's opinion of governmental inequities delivered on its citizenry. When reading the foreword by Ron Paul, a Libertarian turned Republican, I began to feel that maybe Judge Napolitano would give, if anything, instances of abuses of power and evidence of deception in our Federal Government. This he does do as the “chapters” unfold.

In the Introduction to the book, Judge Napolitano confesses that he has a chip on his shoulder and it is mainly because of the ease with which the government lies to us and the seeming necessity that we feel we must be lied to by our government. Truly, unless one has unlimited time and access to information, an individual cannot keep up with everything that every vast agency in our government is doing. It is this overload of information that allows an agency to take liberties with its authority right under the noses of the people it is sworn to protect and serve. Through generations the American people have been lied to and deceived to the point of taking it as normal.

From example to example, the Judge leads us through a myriad of cases where the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government in terms of freedom from illegal search and seizure, the right to keep and bear arms, the equality of men, and the election of our leaders based on factual and complete information.

You would not be disappointed in choosing to read this book. It does accomplish what the author set out to do.

I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Book Review

Outlive Your Life, You Were Made To Make A Difference by Max Lucado.

I received this book from in gratuity and return for posting a review of the writing on my blog and on a commercial book-selling site.

I approached this book with the thought that it would be another, “Give your time and your money to this cause and that,” type of pleading, pandering tome. What I found in it's pages was quite different though. Inside I found stories of real people doing the little things that can and do cause a great effect on the lives that they touch. In some cases the benefactor's had no idea they were causing such impact.

If little things like this can make such a big difference, then I am encouraged and enlightened to watch for and find the things that I can do to cause positive change in my life and beyond.

Max lost me in Chapter 10 when he wavered from his purpose and went into the need, nay the requirement of large organizations, ie: government to organize and oversee the fair distribution of land and property. He calls on us, “For Christ's sake,” to get out of our comfort zone and, in one suggestion, run for office. This chapter is titled, “The Have-Nots” and implies that learned people should be chosen to correct the unfairness of equal men not having equal opportunity. I will get out of my comfort zone for the sake of Christ, but I will not support leaders or organizations that take my neighbor's money and land to distribute it to those they deem less fortunate.

This book remains a very up-lifting and, for the most part, very good read with many ideas for outliving your life.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My Jeep Gave Its All

ZJ Jeep Grand CherokeeImage via Wikipedia
Years ago I purchased a 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee. A very nice car for its time, the Jeep gave me the assurance of four-wheel drive in the unpredictable Midwest winters and a modicum of luxury and civility in what would normally be thought of as a strict utilitarian vehicle.

I drove this car across the United States from the Midwest to the the East Coast several times. From Kansas to Texas more times than I can count and a multitude of 250 mile weekend trips to visit family in Iowa. Finally, after accepting a position in the Panhandle of Texas, the old girl achieved the 100,000 mile mark and was growing a bit long in the tooth. Having access to a company car, I let the Jeep languish for a bit until I got the gumption to throw in a new set of spark plugs and spark plug wires. It was like a rebirth! The Jeep ran like new again.

Some time during all this, in the depth of a Winter storm, I discovered a deep growl coming from the transfer case and a weird sideways hopping motion when I tried to engage 4-wheel drive. Never one to depend upon the dealerships, which I refer to as "stealerships", for maintenance of my cars, I crawled under my stalwart carriage and quickly diagnosed the problem as being no fluid in the transfer case. Seeing the remains of leakage around the casing and its gasket, I determined I was now the proud owner of a rare, 2-wheel drive Jeep Grand Cherokee, as I was not about to spend the money to have the transfer case rebuilt. The loyal car served me for years to come with just the two rear wheels propelling us wherever we wanted to go, with some care taken to avoid really nasty situations.

Finally, after driving her for over 9 years, my friendly and capable friend reached nearly 280,000 miles. She developed some problems that I could no longer attend to under the shade tree and I reluctantly agreed it was time to, gasp, trade her in. Even though I knew the value at trade-in was negligible, I was still somewhat saddened when I mentioned the pristine condition of the spare tire, telling the dealer that, "It has never touched the road." He said, "That looks like the only thing that hasn't touched the road." Being of good nature, I accepted his comment as a kindly offered joke and we made a deal on value against a 10 year newer model on his lot. What could replace my lovely old girl who carried me and my family for over a quarter of a million miles? Why, another Jeep Grand Cherokee of course. Hopefully this car will give its all, just like my old girl did.

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