RIFLEMAN'S JOURNAL - JANUARY 2004


December 2003 | JANUARY 2004 | February 2004
374 - Thursday, 1 January 2004: Zzzz....

375 - Friday, 2 January 2004: Good enough New Year's party, though I am having some political differences with some of that circle. Win the lottery, move to Montana... or Wyoming... or even New Hampshire....

Preparing for match. Viewing Rifle Shooting Tips and Techniques, Sportsmen On Film, 1985. Examining the reprinted USMC manual. Double-checking rifle and range bag. Remembered earmuffs this time! 45 rounds Federal Power-Shok. Bag of jerky. Plain leather and insulated gloves. Doing some dry-firing, some position work. Using first joint of finger, instead of pad, on heavier military trigger. Not expecting to do any other shooting tomorrow, taking only what I'll need for the match.

Curious whether the little green hatchback can make it up the hill. Not unconcerned about making it back down in a controlled manner. If the roads are bad I'll wimp out.

Exactly one set of tire chains left at Bi-Mart, not the right size of course, but I have learned that my car has 185/70 tires on 13" rims. $20 for the set, apparently whatever size, reluctant to $queeze it in at this point anyway - only partial rent paid until next Friday, slacking on electric bill.

Crap! Lost the starboard headlight! Pressurized halogen bulb actually broken. Back out again for a replacement- $8.49, will add an on-board spare next paycheck. Must have been that pothole. Adding more emergency equipment to the car, an MRE, reflective metallic emergency blanket, spare wiper blade, quart of oil. Already have two gallons of water, two handheld CB and two FRS radios, fire extinguisher, road flares, reflective triangle thingie, Faraday flashlight, pump flashlight. No first-aid kit, hm. Most of the offerings seem inadequate, little more than a stack of bandaids. May build my own, after studying survivalist sites.

At library, picked up Paramount's Wake Island, and 1945, an alternate history by Newt Gingrich (former professor of history, hadn't known that) and William Forstchen (whom I've never heard of), wherein Japan's ass has been kicked by us and everyone else's ass has been kicked by the Third Reich. I'm interested in their point of divergence - ah, scanning the opening page, apparently Hitler never declared war on us, as he actually did in this timeline shortly after Pearl Harbor (a blunder on a par with bombing civilian targets in England, instead of RAF bases and aircraft factories; or invading Russia). And I can imagine just-plain-socialist FDR content to let national-socialist Hitler gobble up Europe.... Yes, I can see the plot now: it can't be the Ardennes (the Bulge), most of the Reich was rubble by then, it had to be earlier, yes, even before American involvement. Just as Antietam was a greater strategic cusp; the Union's industry was up to speed by Gettysburg and even a Confederate victory there would only have prolonged the inevitable. (Well, Lee might have used the campaign which led to Gettysburg to threaten the Union capitol, as the Antietam campaign would have without McClellan's acquisition of a copy of Special Order 191. Even with Victory Disease, Lee was good - and neither Grant nor Sherman were at Gettysburg, were they?) Without our industrial might to eventually squash him, with a less-involved "arsenal of democracy" propping up England and a smaller Axis encumbrance, Hitler might actually have succeeded in defeating England and conquering Russia. Even in this timeline the Wehrmacht was in artillery range of Moscow, and the RAF was on the ropes.

My understanding is that the Blitz was a huge hysterical mistake on Hitler's part (like invading Russia, out of frustration that he couldn't invade England). Apparently a flight of Luftwaffe bombers got lost and, low on fuel, jettisoned their bombs for the return trip. They happened to be over London. Churchill had RAF's bombers respond in kind by hitting Berlin, Hitler threw a fit and demanded the obliteration of London, and off they went - giving RAF's Fighter Command time to recover from the near-fatal walloping the Luftwaffe had given them ‘til then. Also the Reich grossly underestimated radar, which enabled the shockingly small handful of RAF fighters and pilots to meet nearly every single Luftwaffe bombing raid on the way in. The same fighters and pilots, over and over again.... (Shudder) It's not just America that has degenerated from a nation of Heroes.

Hm, David Drake is listed on the Acknowledgments page, more evidence that he is not one of the treasonous Artistic Left like his former partner S.M. Stirling. I have been intending to read more of Drake's stuff....

Now I wonder where Turtledove (whose work has convinced me that Antietam was what mattered) has diverged in In the Presence of Mine Enemies....

Snow warning tomorrow and the range is way up in the hills, the car might not make it.

After reading Sloan's book, Paramount's 1942 film... kinda sucks....

376 - Saturday, 3 January 2004: Match day!

Crap! I was most of the way to the range when the roads just got too bad. If I'd had chains I might have pressed on. As is I was lucky to get turned around and maintain control back down the hill.

At least I remembered Washington lottery tickets.

Went to Borders books to spend the gift card and was disappointed in their selection of firearms material. Maybe their website will be better. Looked at the Horten IX book and that was disappointing too; several pictures I'd never seen before but many I had, many digital images (all black-and-white), and what little text it held was often full of grammatical errors. One picture of a scale model standing on a tablecloth was misidentified as an actual aircraft on a tarmac. Did learn that NASM has the third and last prototype, which might-could pass for the production model which never existed.

Speaking of superior Nazi technology, some outfit up around Seattle as I recall, has built replica Me262s (using modern Lear Jet engines which don't disintegrate after 25 flight hours like the metallurgically-challenged originals), selling (already a backlog as I understand) for about $1 million each. I'd heard of the project before but there was a cover article in one of the aviation magazines some months ago. A repro Go229 would be extra-super-cool. -But not near as much market ‘cause few have ever heard of it.

-Gingrich & (Dr. of military history) Forstchen's 1945's cover art shows, if you look close, great big flying-wing Nazi bombers. Back cover shows the authors with Jim by-gods Baen, looking smug even, and technical editor Dr. Albert S. Hanser. Obviously not the Artistic Left. -And what was that blatant anti-American GARBAGE Turtledove did with Überliberal Richard Dreyfuss? The Two Georges was a horror story! I may have to go to an SF convention someday where Turtledove is a guest so I can ask him what was he thinking?!

Meanwhile, finished Crown of Slaves, starting Turtledove's Gunpowder Empire, in which late-21st Century America indulges in cross-temporal imperialism... sorta.... Jacket blurbs imply this is first in a series, perhaps In the Presence of Mine Enemies is another, a similar timeline is mentioned in the story already.

Oh cool! 1945 will be a series! ...Or not. First printing 1995 and Baen's site only lists the one.

377 - Sunday, 4 January 2004: Eek! It's damned cold out there! My car's door lock appears to be slightly frozen, had to clamp my Leatherman onto the key for leverage. Passenger-side door lock has always been mangled, may just replace both of them this Spring/Summer. At worst I might crawl in through the hatchback.

So there's this position open for newsletter director at Clark Rifles - which is also a position on the BoD. Cruffler is pestering me to take it, despite the fact I'm not even a member and no one there has ever heard of me. Still tempting though - one thing he keeps invoking is Fred - but I have got to get caught up first, after Christmas, bills, CHL and DEQ renewal, etc.

378 - Monday, 5 January 2004: COLD!

Record cold in the region, winter storm warnings, expectations of heavy snow and/or freezing rain, wind too. High temperature today below freezing. Shower pipes frozen. Shower faucet frozen, the lever won't move. Bathroom sink drain apparently frozen but those faucets still working, emptying basin into toilet with siphon hose. In previous winters, fitted a hose adapter to the sink faucet. After returning from work, back out for a garden-sprayer attachment, already have the hose. Duct-tape the assembly to the existing shower head, voilá, a nice hot shower despite frozen pipes. (This morning a very hot shower as the cold-water line was already frozen and hot was all I got.) Worst-case, a pot full of water on the electric stove. Absolute worst-case, a pot of water on the butane emergency stove.

Yes, I left a trickle running and now I have a stalagmicicle in my shower.

Got chains! Cable-chains anyway, $19.99 at Bi-Mart! (I shop there a lot.) Called around the various stores from work and found one that got a small shipment, not quite too far from work on that end of town. My usual store has been sold out for days. Firestone wants $40 for what sounds like the same thing, and $80 for actual chains.

Brief power interruption as I was going back out to the store, traffic signal at a major intersection flashing red. Preview of coming attractions no doubt.

379 - Tuesday, 6 January 2004: Holy Crap!

Made it to work without chains, without incident, though I had to squeeze past a three-car spinout mess on Hwy 26 westbound. Could not see lane markers, just follow the vehicle ahead and keep your head on a swivel.

Arrived about 6:50am, work starts at 7, SUV-drivin' office-person said she'd be there to open up but was about 5 minutes late. Near half the crew didn't come. Then the weather really set in. Snow increasing almost by the minute, and wind picking up too. Everyone let off early, about 10:30. Spent maybe half an hour in ~10cm snow (not counting drifts over 30cm, like the one against my front door when I got back) and Significant Wind, fussing with cable-chains, good thing I read the instructions. Eventually had to jack the car up to get clearance to reach around and get them on tight enough (which on these 13" rims is down to the last notch), good thing I carry a jack and know how to use it. Then off I go! Listening to traffic reports on 860 KPAM, decided to not even try Hwy 26, worked my way south on surface streets to Hwy 10 instead. Somewhere near Sylvan I pulled over to check the starboard cable-chain, which began thumping - but it was only the excess cable coming out of its keeper, not too difficult to fix. Unfortunately I got stuck in the process, in snow drifted at the side of the road.

Fortunately I discovered I know how to drive in snow! I thank Chuck Yeager for getting me unstuck, and the rest of the way home. See, I read his biography, and what struck me most about why (or perhaps how) he's still flying (and appearing on the cover of last year's Dixie Gun Works catalog) at 90-odd years old is, he pays attention to what he's doing. I mean, this guy co-invented the "flying tail" which solved the problem of controlled supersonic flight, because he figured it out. Inspirational! So, examining the situation, I strategically kicked some snow out of the way, carefully manipulated throttle and clutch (in Farnham's Freehold, Heinlein briefly praises the manual transmission; elsewhere Jeff Cooper gives it a nod as well), and found myself back on the road! Continued all the way across town without further incident, took about two hours rarely exceeding 30mph (per cable-chain instructions, and per ambient traffic), or about three times as long as it took to get to work in the morning. Saw several motorists having Difficulty. Saw one traffic light flickering like it had a loose connection. Radio said "blizzard warning", which officially is 35mph wind.

Fuel on ‘E', unconcerned as I planned to fill up today and I still carry that 5-liter reserve can. Windshield and wipers icing up, good thing I carry a scraper. Stopped at library (a waste of time as none of my holds had come through), helped push a (chainless) Toyota Camry out of a drift. Stopped at Bi-Mart, did not win a color TV with my membership number. Stopped at supermarket, my preferred juice drink had a price increase, good thing I carry a small sack of accumulated change. Stopped at gas station, filled up with snail-spam coupon for $4 off. ("Please pull forward." I did and the attendants eventually determined that pump was frozen so I had to back up to the other one.) Finally returned to the hovel about 1:30pm. Immediately started both heater-fans, sticking my iced shoes in front of one and my iced toes at the other. Lit butane emergency stove, set it on floor for further heat. Pleased to discover I still have one hot water outlet for the jury-rigged shower, which worked as planned this morning. May not even try getting to work tomorrow, dunno, I need the money....

Later I may get another set of $20 cable-chains, as spares in case the car sheds one and I can't easily stop to recover it (is there a point to putting such on the rear wheels of a front-wheel-drive car? For braking, perhaps...). Anyway this set worked well. I would endorse the brand if the box weren't marked "Made in China". Digging out surplus tri-fold entrenching tool, will add that to the car's kit for shifting snow. Scavenging extra sleeping bag from neglected bugout kit, using it as additional blanket.

380 - Wednesday, 7 January 2004: Woke up at 5am, alarms set for ~5:45. Switched on radio, freezing rain, many roads closed, chains required nearly everywhere, some power outages. Called work, automated message, "facility is closed."

Zzzz....

Later (ahh, alternate shower still works! Meanwhile the faucet lever is moving now but nothing comes out), peering out window, about an inch of solid ice all over my car. Hedges between properties drooping with ice. Traffic, and not much of it, crawling on Sandy Blvd.

Further reports on radio - TriMet busses shedding chains, busses packed nose-to-tail all over the downtown transit mall. Entire light-rail system shut down, first time ever in ~10 years, due to ice on overhead power line (electric train). Portland International Airport all-but shut down, travelers sleeping in chairs. Both interstate bridges coated with ice, chains required. Large stretches of interstates and state highways just plain closed.

Spent an hour or so de-icing the car. Ice scraper broke of course, but running the engine with the cabin blower on full-hot helped unstick the worst from the glass. Punching the ice with my gloved fist, not too hard, cracked the ice without breaking the windows, accelerating the process. Broke driver's-side mirror breaking up ice with jagged plastic scraper stump but it's still functional.

"Undocumented worker" neighbors have shiny new late-model Ford pickup blocking the road. You don't like the weather, go back to San Diego! And turn down your goddamned TV and stop your undisciplined brat-vandals from trespassing! I gotchyer "respect for other cultures"....

On radio, neoconservative Sean Hannity appears to have had one or two scales (out of how many?) fall from his eyes re: the Dubya administration, specifically the "undocumented worker" amnesty plan. What was that Churchill quote about stumbling over the truth? Sean will no doubt dust himself off and continue on his way.

Eventually they got the truck moved. Cable-chains still working well and so are my driving skills despite even worse road conditions than last night, with less snow and more ice, or the-ice-formerly-known-as-snow. Went to hardware store- sold out of ice scrapers, no replacement mirror material (i.e. cut & stick) in evidence. To Baxter Auto Parts a few blocks further on Sandy Blvd., exactly four ice scrapers left in the store, bought two @ 59¢, and a cut & stick mirror kit for $6.49 which just about bottoms out the checking account - good thing I get paid weekly. Returned without incident, saw many who can't claim the same.

Victor Bock slamming TriMet again, particularly light-rail, which was sold to taxpayers as being immune from this winter stuff. It hasn't moved for at least 30 hours and TriMet officials won't say when it will. Bock compares it to Buffalo, NY's similar system which does run.

Airport reportedly even less useful than this morning. I-5 near city center shut down by stuck freight trucks. No change to the automated message at work, no idea if I'll go tomorrow.

Cut & stick mirror repair worked adequately, enough material left for at least two more repairs. A whole replacement assembly is on my U-Pull-It list. Left-front tire down to 20psi, pumped it back to 40.

"Republitarian" Larry Elder has a different, pragmatist, spin on Dubya's speech on reforming immigration laws, invoking free markets, hmm. Also pointing out that relaxed rules for legal immigration may encourage people to come across legally as opposed to illegally, since they're coming anyway. Pardon me while I lift one eyebrow.

381 - Thursday, 8 January 2004: 5am, recording at work says they'll start at 9am, tried to get another hour's sleep. 7:30am, removed another ¼" ice from car, cable-chains still installed. Crawled along I-84 and Hwy 26 between 30 and 35mph, arrived 8:50.

Tailgaters, generally, should be flogged. Anyone who tailgates under these conditions should be publicly hung. Made sign for back window, "DIE TAILGATER SCUM", from scrap cardboard at work.

I recall being told that company policy is, if you arrive before 10am you get paid for the full day, no definitive answer from immediate supervisor. Most who made it in stayed ‘til 4:30.

Chains still on as I left but I soon pulled over at a gas station to remove them as westside roads are clearing. Before this, noticed disturbing grinding noise from front wheels, hope it's just caked ice but it didn't go away all the way back to Parkrose. Called mechanic and woodworker, they said it's probably ice with maybe some gravel in it. Noise particularly bad when braking, but when I let off the brakes and got on them again, i.e. pumped the brakes once or twice, the noise lessened. Neither increased or decreased all the way back. Eastside roads still pretty bad, now I have to jack up my car again, in a frictionless ice-coated driveway in the dark, to put them back on if I expect to get to work tomorrow, for which declared starting time is the normal 7am.

No change to pipes but new property owner left a message inquiring.

Crap!

I wisely jacked up the car and removed the left-front wheel to see what was making the noise. I say wisely because my left-front brake is no longer attached. It's flopping around loose, having shed at least one bolt that holds it onto the car. So now I have to get up even godsawfuler earlier and ride with Icky Bus People.

CRAAAAAAP!!!!

I guess I'm spending this weekend at U-Pull-It. In the cold and the ice. Good thing I know what I'm looking for and have the Haynes manual to show me where to find it. (Torx bit required for the bolts in question - got ‘em.) While I'm at it I might as well look into new brake pads, partly on principle and partly because having the brake rattling around loose on the disc has probably chewed something up. The disc itself looked all right. Meanwhile my car is sitting in the driveway icing up again with the left front wheel on crooked as I only bothered putting the nuts back on finger-tight as I'm not about to drive the poor thing with the brake flopping around loose.

This probably also explains the brake shimmy I detected months ago....

382 - Friday, 9 January 2004: Adding insult to injury, the power went about 10pm and stayed off ‘til about 4am.

Removed steel head from spear, used shaft as walking stick. Wise. Took ten minutes to walk five blocks to the transit center. Airport branch of light-rail still closed, busses shuttling to another transit center for the main line.

TriMet drivers waving cheerfully as they drive by - as I wave frantically to flag them down. Eventually caught a shuttle, then light-rail. Not completely awful on the way out. Transit center on other end, about 15-20 minutes wait for a bus that never came, took the bus that loops around the other side of the same route, arrived at work 40 minutes late.

Finished Turtledove's Gunpowder Empire, disappointed. Writing was lifeless and mechanical, characters were shallow and weak (I mean, the people they were supposed to be were weak people), some of the characters' cultural messages were offensive, like aversion to the point of illness to a fur coat, and a similar aversion to violence even in self-defense.

"To be civilized is to restrain the ability to commit mayhem. To be incapable of committing mayhem is not the mark of the civilized, merely the domesticated." - Trefor Thomas

(I have no idea who "Trefor" Thomas is or was but it was a cool tagline to steal from the net. I'll look into the quote sometime next week, when I have time to do more online than view Sluggy, check email, and update this ‘blog.) Lemme tell ya, I ain't domesticated. -Finished the book on the bus ride in, did not think to bring another, nothing to read on break and lunch but the Haynes manual, argh.

Crew instructed to fill out temp-service timecards for 40 hours - meaning I'll get a full check next Friday, which will help - on condition they make up, in unpaid overtime, hours they missed this week. Several including myself stayed ‘til 4:30pm.

Coworker gave ride to light-rail, saved me at least a half-hour. Completely awful on the way back, packed train, moving slower than usual besides.

Fred Meyer department store, containing my bank, suffered partial roof collapse - at the nearest and most convenient entrance from the transit center. (Staff saw it coming and cleared that section, no injuries.) Hiked another couple hundred meters around the side. After depositing holiday-weekend-shorted paycheck, at least 20 minute wait for another bus that never came, disgusted by antics of drug-damaged street person taking shopping carts from supermarket looking for one that didn't lock up beyond the electronic perimeter, to tote a TV and VCR which by that time were probably completely ruined. Kept leaving the carts in the street, then standing there next to them oblivious to traffic while muttering "out of gas." I finally grew disgusted enough to drag toss the last cart back onto the sidewalk to avoid becoming an official accident witness.

Took an alternate bus, hiked through about a kilometer of everything from skating-quality ice to perfectly-soaking slush, good thing I brought the stick. And a hat, and a GI surplus trenchcoat with comfy liner, and insulated gloves. Should have dug out my old Danner boots. May want to invest in a modern high-end pair anyway, for bugout purposes. The lightweight hikers would have been better if I'd got ‘round to Camp-Drying them. Returned approximately 14 hours after I left.

Retrieved tools from car for trip to U-Pull-It tomorrow. Shoes soaked, propped up in front of heater-fan - to discover one power strip deformed by heat of chronic overload and losing electrical contact in the wall outlet. Juggled appliances and cords, no longer using high setting on that heater. Put fresh battery in smoke alarm, setting kitchen fire extinguisher within reach of sleeping area (I leave at least one heater-fan running through the night - only one, now).

Junkyard opens 8am, earliest bus gets there at 9 assuming it's running and I can catch it. Work is open full-day tomorrow, half-day Sunday, for make-up time and I suppose I could get there on mass transit again but I won't. Faint hope that I can get to the junkyard, find and retrieve the parts I need, return to the hovel, fix the car, and still get across metro in time to make up some hours (and clean up whatever mess they'll make of the machines and tool area) tomorrow. Did what I could to get everything set up for expected tasks, gave Tool Woman pointers on machine-tending. Hope to get re-motorized sometime tomorrow and make up some hours Sunday. Doublechecked tools against Haynes manual, should have all I need, particularly Torx bits from 8 to 40.

Road conditions actually improving as far as driving is concerned, but snow of various vintages and densities drifted or plowed up to a meter high on sidewalks and at intersections, much of it a crust of ice with slush below. End of spear shaft, formerly a large dowel probably of cedar, frayed by punching through ice which then becomes jagged. Some pipes thawing, no immediate evidence of bursting, new property owner stopped by, caught up on rent. Just barely enough clean clothes to last through weekend, hope to be motorized for trip to laundromat on Sunday.

383 - Saturday, 10 January 2004: Actual shower actually working this morning.

Got what I hope is all the parts I need, five caliper pins (shouldn't need more than two), two insulator boot things (shouldn't need any), such small parts free at U-Pull-It after $1 admission. Barely caught return bus. Stopped short of apartment to visit hardware store, got replacement Torx bit as the cheap commie Chinese one I had barely lasted long enough to get the pins/bolts out. Also got fresh threadlocker goop, and silicon grease as instructed by manual.

Propped soaked shoes in front of heater again, changed socks, ate canned clam chowder, cleaned salvaged parts. Shoes still wet, starting Turtledove's In The Presence of Mine Enemies, better writing (or editing) immediately evident. Disturbing description of museum display of, "behind thick leaded glass, the twisted, radioactive remains of the Liberty Bell, excavated by expendable prisoners from the ruins of Philadelphia." Apparently not part of the Crosstime Traffic universe. Point of divergence is, as it has to be, early in the war and, as it has to be, hinged on the United States, in this case being neutral and isolationist, apparently not having fought Japan at all. "It faced the Germanic Empire and Japan alone a generation later - and the oceans weren't wide enough to shield it from robot bombs." Now 2010AD and Wehrmacht bases next to New York, Chicago and St. Louis, for support of which the United States is taxed.

One of these days I would like to own an actual Third Reich weapon, as a trophy from a conquered enemy, as proof that they lost.

11:30am, shoes mostly dry, out to the car. Jack it up, remove left front wheel, get an actual look at it in daylight. Both bolts missing from left front brake but apparently they just came loose instead of breaking, in which case I'd've been fully screwed. Bootie things intact. Apply threadlocker & grease in appropriate areas - duh! Use the correct T40 bit instead of the T35 which got mangled ‘cause it was too small. Insert replacement pins! Probably over-torqued but that's better than under. Replace wheel, lower car, tighten lug nuts. Around to the other side and repeat the process for paranoia's sake, both bolts still present, one didn't budge, the other tightened about ¼ turn.

About noon. Put everything away including leftover bolts, in tool box, in cargo compartment. Off to work!

About five minutes later, jack up car again to put chains back on to get out of driveway. Off to work! Main streets clear, skip that on-ramp, pull over at gas station to remove chains. Off to work! Arrived about 1pm, cleaned up tooling mess. Should have 8.5 hours left to make up, hope to get five of them tomorrow (open 7am-noon).

Brakes feel a little different, not necessarily weaker but perhaps softer, more pedal travel; also smoother, the previous shimmy is gone, duh. Consistent braking all the way across town and back, getting neither better nor worse. Steering OK, not pulling significantly to either side while braking, suggesting I got it back on right and it still works.

Freeways clear but wet, made good time back. Stopped for groceries before returning to hovel on side street, wrassled car into iced parking space. Thought about doing laundry tonight but decided to grab shovel and prep driveway for tomorrow's departure instead.

384 - Friday, 16 January 2004: Again whew.

Stayed late at work Monday through Wednesday catching up lost time, then Thursday for a little overtime. Busy day reworking a project that was sent to Mexico for cheap labor and came back variously mangled. I gotchyer free-trade agreement.... Full-overtime day tomorrow to fix it, so much for the Mountain Man/blackpowder show which I can't afford anyway. Was really looking forward to sleep, and perhaps some consultation with Woodworker and Mechanic about my car, but I need the money.

A few days ago, received email from the Foul Weather Match director - some people showed up after all but the weather was so bad they couldn't see the 100-yard target line and the match was fogged out. I feel better about missing it.

Stopped by Libertarian Party HQ after work today, got stack of "NO on 30" bumper stickers, slapped one on my car right there at the curb, already distributing some to neighbors, taking some to work tomorrow. Huge media campaign for this enormous and unjustifiable tax increase, allegedly "for the schools, for the children." In America today you can load people on cattle cars and send them to the gas chamber if you claim it's "for the children." Primary local fishwrap, The Oregonian, now obviously a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Socialist Party, going absolutely saffron in support of stealing more money from those who earn it and giving it to those who waste it. Socialist governor Kulongoski on record as saying he did not want the people of Oregon to vote on this tax increase. "I hope they don't have a chance to vote on it." Is that how the Democratic Party respects democracy these days?

Here's a novel idea: cut spending. The superintendent of schools gets a brand-new SUV every two years, from the government. Why don't they make the lazy greedy worthless bureaucratic sonuvabitch buy his own damn car instead of STEALING MY MONEY? Oregon's public education system spends $10,000 per year per student, among, if not the, highest in the country - and other states, which spend a fraction what we do, have vastly better school systems (not that I'm a fan of public education anyway). Why don't they examine those other states and see what they're doing different instead of STEALING MY MONEY? State revenue is already up by something like 15% without this tax increase - a story suppressed by mainstream media - so why don't they use the funds they already have instead of STEALING MY MONEY?

Made poster for car. Made a few copies to share. Received vote-by-mail ballot this evening, thickly pencilled oval next to "NO", ready to drop at the library.

Unwi$ely bought another box of Federal 8A at Sportsman's Warehouse, shouldn't have gone near the place ‘til I'm caught up on other expenses. Paid car insurance bill.

385 - Saturday, 17 January 2004: Some folks are just no good with their hands. Still reworking the mangled Mexican mess, several thousand wires that need the little metal terminals crimped onto them. I'm doing maybe thirty or forty a minute, except I have to stop every five minutes and go set up a machine or clear a jam or make labels or move furniture or gods know what. ("The only reward for good work is more work." I am being generously rewarded.) This other guy who's supposed to cover for me is going maybe half my speed, usually less, and the project has to ship Monday.

Sigh.

CHL renewal notice in mail, I thought they'd discontinued that as a cost-cutting measure. Statist Dan Noelle's name on the official envelope, I thought he'd been unelected, guess they're just using up the old stationery. New Sheriff Bernie Giusto's name on the form letter inside.

Dig this: "Renewal applications will be accepted on a first come, first served basis on Thursdays only [emphasis theirs] between the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Sheriff's office located at 12240 NE Glisan, Portland, Oregon." So not only are they taxing me $50 for the exercise of a Constitutionally-guaranteed right, they're making me miss work too. Can't squeeze it in this paycheck, will have to make it the 29th. I figure 8½ hours of overtime pay next check.

And of course I can't carry there. Only the authorities should be armed of course. "Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA - ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having guns doesn't serve the State." - Heinrich Himmler

According to talk radio, Multnomah County Sheriff Giusto says if the tax hike fails he'll have to release like 150 prisoners. Last time a tax measure failed the sheriff released prisoners, exactly in time for live coverage on the 5-o'-clock news, the day after the election. You worried about costs, Bernie? How much do the taxpayers shell out for a whole fleet of new sheriff's cars every couple years? Who's got the sweetheart deal for supplying your Glocks? What's this about police officers and sheriff's deputies being issued cell phones? How much did I pay for your tailored uniform? Also according to talk radio, state government is wailing about having to cut services - while creating 200 more government jobs. (If you can call something where you're promoted almost entirely by seniority, and it's almost impossible to get fired, a "job.")

Finished Turtledove's In the Presence of Mine Enemies at laundromat (cityfolk, ugh! And their little brats too!). Um, not quite as imaginative as I might have wanted - basically a rerun of the collapse of the Soviet Union with some different stage settings. Now, if the new reform-minded Führer had been assassinated instead of just locked up, and a full-blown Germanic Imperial Civil War had erupted between the SS and the Wehrmacht, and if he'd made a series out of that, I'd be better satisfied. But I can see how that would be a helluva lot of work for a writer. His alternate Confederate/American Empire universe is tasty though, where's the next installment? Now starting some retro, Interstellar Patrol, a collection of Christopher Anvil's 1960s works compiled & edited by Eric Flint with a foreword by David Weber. Holding off on Gingrich & Forstchen's 1945, don't want two alternate Third Reichs in my head at the same time.

Changed my mind about CHL, will borrow from rent stash and do it the 22nd, want as much time as possible for those statist scum to get off their worthless backsides. Former sheriff Noelle, as policy, used every one of the 45 business days allowed by law, prohibiting honest citizens from lawfully defending themselves for as long as he could. Some research might make a case for him being an accomplice to assault, rape, and murder.

386 - Wednesday, 21 January 2004: Sigh.

Having increasing political differences with some of the SCA circle. I need a new crowd. Or maybe not, I never have liked crowds. It would be nice to be a wealthy recluse....

Handing out "NO on 30" bumper stickers at work, popular items.

Tried to get everything set up for tomorrow so the crew wouldn't need a certain less-than-qualified individual touching the machines. Tool Woman, with day-care difficulties, doesn't come in ‘til 10. Shudder. I've been led to expect a new-hire machine-tech to back me up next week.

Coupon in snailspam, haircut for $4.99, might as well clean up for the new CHL photo, also it was reaching a point that would have interfered with riflery. Chatting with hairstylist I mentioned taxes. She shook her finger at me and said "You'd better vote NO on Measure 30!" I responded with satisfaction that I already had.

Driving back I had a fright. Sitting at a traffic light, a subtle movement on the instrument panel caught my eye - the fuel gauge needle. Dropping steadily, all the way down before the light changed. Pulled over in parking lot - the needle was back to about 1/3 tank, where it was earlier. Got out and looked, no evidence of leakage. Just the gauge going out then. Eek.

Pawnblitz planned for this Saturday with Cruffler. Like a pub crawl for hoploholics, we go around the pawn shops looking for deals on hocked firearms. I got the double from a pawn shop, and there was that .45 Witness I had my eye on (gone now of course). He lives up in Vancouver and knows those stores, my assignment is to plan an itinerary for my side of the river. There's one that won't be on my list, in the southern suburb of Milwaukee. The counter-creature was praising Democrats as "champions of the working man" or some such communist drivel. Anyway I won't be buying, or even laying away, anything, even with seven hours overtime pay expected this Friday - phone and electric bills both behind, ~$70 DEQ due very soon. Um, may actually postpone pawnblitz and try to get that done on the 24th instead.

387 - Thursday, 22 January 2004: One advantage to the CHL renewal opening on my end of town half an hour after I start work on the other end: I got a few more minutes' sleep.

Stop for photocopy of 1999 training certificate on the way. Renewal form says "optional." Yeah, right.

...Well, I must admit that was less humiliating than I expected. Took about twenty minutes. "Civilian" (cops are civilians too, they just don't admit it) employees behaved appropriately and professionally and I refrained from comment. Or from wearing my OFF t-shirt, or leaving a printout of an Oleg Volk graphic, or of this United States Supreme Court decision:

"In l943, the court stated that a license fee levied on the exercise of a Constitutional right is prior restraint, the equivalent of a flat tax on the exercise of that right, and is therefore unconstitutional. (Murdock v Pensylvania, 319 US 105. This was a First Amendment case on freedoms of press and religion.)"

Reached work at 8:30, cleaned up about as much mess as I expected there. Sigh. On the other hand they seem to want to hire me permanently. -There have apparently been some complaints that I raise my voice. It's not my fault people ask me to set up a machine and then wander off to the other end of the production area, where I have to call them three or four times to tell them their machine is ready and they're too busy chatting about ...disturbingly low-brow stuff to notice that it's time to do their jobs. I responded to the complaints, to the supervisor, in not-so-many words. At least I am getting along well with the supervisors. Their manner suggests that my predecessor really sucked.

Nor am I pleased or flattered or whateverthehell the intention is when someone wants to chat for five minutes about gods know what before having me set up a machine for some project that's a week behind schedule. And another thing. People come up with the blue production folder, containing the instructions and materials order and they wave the closed folder and ask me to "set up this machine?" So there's two or three minutes spent cajoling the instructions away from them and figuring out which machine (and don't discount language barriers here either). Then another five or ten minutes while they hunt down some scrap wire - they can't not know by now that I always need scrap wire - so I can set up the machine and make sure it's adjusted properly without ruining an allocated production piece. Then another five or ten minutes sending them back for the same kind of wire as the production run is using instead of something that's only two or three gauge sizes off and uses a completely different kind of insulation.

Okay, I exaggerate.

A little.

And then there's the work going on in the storeroom in back, where they're using a tap on a hand-turned press to thread holes in some metal fan housings. Taps break of course, but they shouldn't break that often. "Use more oil," I tell them, indicating the small bottle of cutting oil.

They've been oiling the press axle and the tap is bone-dry.

(Burying face in hands....)

But again, the "princes and curs" rule holds true. There are a couple-three people there with, well, pretty thick accents and an incomplete grasp of the American language, who nonetheless make clear to me what they need without any time-wasting nonsense, then jump on the machine and do work once I set it up. I like that kind.

-And of course they'll be working Saturday and if I'm not there too there will be yet another unholy mess in tooling and machinery. Sigh.

Examining DEQ form, apparently I can just drive up to the station when they're open, which is ‘til 5:30pm Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9pm (!) Wednesday and 1pm Saturday. $54 for new stickers (more for new decorative plates, phooey), plus $21 for emissions testing, payable combined at the DEQ station. So I guess I'll work Saturday after all - I can use the money - and maybe try during the week (tags expire on the 5th). Which also gives me more time to get the instrument panel off and kill that "CHECK COOLANT LEVEL" light. And what the heck, maybe fix the hatchback defroster.

388 - Friday, 23 January 2004: Hours worked from 12 to 18 January: forty regular at $10, seven overtime at $15.

Gross pay: $505.00.

Deductions: "WC ORE" (Washington County? So, there's a tax for working in Washington County, and another tax for living in Multnomah County, in addition to the state and federal income taxes? So I'm being quadruple-taxed? AND THEY WANT TO RAISE MY TAXES EVEN MORE?), $0.08.

Taxes: Medicare, $7.32; Social Security, $31.31; Federal income tax, $61.33; State income tax, $36.44. (New Multnomah County income tax not withheld, will be owed.)

Benefits: none.

Total deductions: $136.48.

Net pay: $368.52.

My tax burden: Twenty-seven percent.

Taxes paid by medieval serfs to their feudal lords: fifteen percent.

Those thieving collectivist statist authoritarian scum can take their tax hike plan and shove it.

389 - Saturday, 24 January 2004: More overtime, I won't turn my nose up at a fat check. What little I get of it.

Returned about 1:30pm, pulled instrument panel, pulled "CHECK COOLANT LEVEL" light bulb, can put it back in if I feel like it.

Considering repair of defroster grid. Dug out Permatex repair kit and multimeter, conductive paint works as advertised. Existing contact tabs have come away from the wires which plug into blade connectors attached to the hatchback lifters. Previously pried off tabs (damaging grid), shoulda just soldered them at work where there are soldering irons every two meters.

Off to U-Pull-It for replacement tabs with soldered wires still intact. ...Tomorrow. Running out of daylight.

Finished Interstellar Patrol, not "hard" science-fiction by any stretch but very entertaining. Now starting Bernard Goldberg's Arrogance. Goldberg wants to "save them from themselves." I must ask, "...Why?" Andy by-gods Rooney stabbed Goldberg in the back live on Larry King. After Goldberg's first book, Bias, Rooney sent a note praising Goldberg's guts, then on CNN called him a "jerk." Bernie! Dude! They're not worth saving. Let them self-destruct!

Viewed Destination Moon, 1950. That's hard SF, corny ‘40s dialogue and all. It oughta be; Robert by-gods Heinlein was one of three screenwriters, basing the film loosely on his novel Rocketship Galileo, one of his old juvenile stories. I should reread that.... In Grumbles From the Grave, there's a photo of RAH and Ginny on the set of the film.

390 - Sunday, 25 January 2004: Acquired replacement defroster-grid tabs with wires and blade connectors. Later - maybe tomorrow afternoon if I don't work overtime - I'll see if the binary adhesive will stick to the conductive paint without pulling it off. May have to scrape down to bare glass, stick it there, and paint a new circuit. At least the grid still has continuity according to the multimeter. Also got a replacement fuel-line clip, lost one during the fuel-pump incident in October, a piece of wire is holding my fuel line onto the bottom of the fuel filter.

Found a replacement driver's side mirror but couldn't remove it, need a deeper 7/16" socket to reach past the end of the stud - and then there's the whole inside of the door to remove, non-destructively, to get at my broken one. Examined coolant reservoir sensors, just possibly the indicator light whose bulb I pulled is working as intended. Actually saw some hatchback lifters that might still be functional. Too cold and wet to work effectively, especially with arthritic hands. Door-window squeegee things deteriorated, like mine, on all wrecks seen, and haven't figured how to get them off intact yet anyway, can't find it in the Haynes manual. When weather improves, will select a wreck and test to destruction.

Fuel gauge still working. Brakes faintly and intermittently squealing, sometimes chattering, will shop for new brake pads online.

Blacksmith and Woodworker have warned me of the paranormal tendency of motor vehicles to, Hydra-like, break down in a new way whenever something else is fixed. They cautioned specifically against new tires....

Already halfway through Goldberg's Arrogance, very interesting. Also infuriating. I wouldn't be surprised if Rather, Brokaw and/or Jennings had him assassinated. (Except who would they blame it on? How would they blame the murder of a rising conservative, or at least non-Leftist, icon, on conservatives? They don't dare kill him now.) I feel a surge of contempt for people who still watch the Big Three broadcast networks, and CNN - weak, inferior people who cannot or, vastly worse, will not think for themselves.

Meanwhile, cash set aside for DEQ and new statist-revenooer-approved tags.

391 - Monday, 26 January 2004: Tool Woman quit. I'm all alone in the tooling area and making labels and setting up machines and a bazillion other things it would appear only I am qualified to do because no one else ever gets asked!

To Tool Woman's credit, she really did a fine job creating the tooling database. Child-raising issues required too much of her time to keep the job, and how the heck do you argue with that?

Unless you're a member of NARAL, perhaps. According to radio talker Victor Bock, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights League had a convention here in Oregon recently, celebrating their right to choose between having a child and having a career. Now, I'm pro-choice, within reason - first trimester, for example, or more scientifically, before the start of brain activity. (A more intelligent solution to unwanted pregnancies would be to use widely-available, easily-affordable, well-proven methods of contraception. DUH!) But according to Bock, that's not enough for Democrat Governor Kulongoski's wife, who got up on the podium and condemned single mothers (I'm pretty sure Tool Woman is married) as "unmarriageable" and "useless" - obviously implying they should have just killed the thing!

I don't like kids. I intend to never breed. Yet I objectively recognize that raising children is among, if not the, highest of mortal callings. But here's the First Lady of Oregon calling child-rearing "useless"? What the hell does she want, retroactive abortions? That woman in Texas who drowned, what, five children in a bathtub - that woman in the Carolinas, as I recall, who locked her two kids in a car and pushed it into a lake - are these murderesses some kind of heroines to these so-called "caring, compassionate liberals"?

Hmph.

Several new people hired today, including a new technician who is supposed to double as my backup in tooling and machinery. Training underway, he seems all right so far.

Blew about $50 on new brake pads, front and rear; a brake tool recommended by the counter guy; and a big ol' bottle o' brake fluid. Hope to do something with those this weekend, after rifle practice hopefully on Saturday. With all the new hires on the payroll overtime is being frowned upon again. Got something like 50 hours total last week, should net well over $400 this Friday.

Attempted repair of defogger grid. Turned ignition to RUN position, switched on defogger, stuck multimeter probes against nekkid blade connectors - 12VDC! So that much still works. Binary adhesive in Permatex kit worked as advertised for one tab, but the other wouldn't stick. And wouldn't stick. And still wouldn't stick. Gave up and used good-old-fashioned superglue. Multimeter says... continuity! May slop more conductive paint on it on principle. Permatex instructions say to let their adhesive cure 24 hours before using defogger, okay. Closed hatchback, both tabs stayed stuck despite flexing of wires - and if they come off again, I'll superglue the heck out of them and slop on the conductive paint.

Finished Arrogance, highly recommend it. Starting Gingrich & Forstchen's 1945. Gotha/Horten flying-wing jet fighters mentioned on page 12.

On Friday night, responding to a gunfolk email alert, I did something I rarely do anymore: I turned on my television and watched a program on ABC. Lies, Myths and Downright Stupidity, by and with John "Give Me a Break" Stossel. I bet he's read Goldberg's books. Sent the following through ABC's feedback webform:


To whom it may concern,

A couple years ago I gave up on mainstream television, especially news programs, as hopelessly inaccurate and biased. Nowadays weeks go by without my ever turning on my television.

However, I recently received an email alert about a program that sounded very interesting: Jon Stossel's "Lies, Myths and Downright Stupidity," which aired on the evening of 23 January.

As I viewed this program, I was fascinated! Indeed I was THRILLED to, at long last, see objective, rational, honestly-researched reporting on current issues on prime-time broadcast television.

ABC in general and John Stossel in particular are to be most highly commended for taking this vital step toward regaining the trust of the American public. If you continue to produce such responsible, professional and unbiased programming, I will become a regular viewer again.

Sincerely,
Karl Leffler
[address]
Portland, OR


Of course they won't produce more shows like this and Stossel will likely be fired in a couple weeks, if they haven't canned him already. There are many former "liberals" - David Horowitz, Tammy Bruce, Stossel himself - who have "defected to the enemy" when the scales fell from their eyes. I haven't heard of any going the other way, except one I'd never heard of before which Goldberg mentions in Arrogance.

I note the show's partial transcript has already disappeared from ABC's website.... I saved, on my machine, the .HTML for the two pages that covered Myth #3: "Guns Are Bad."

Apollo 1 Mission PatchApollo 1 Mission Patch27 January 1967 - AS-204 Apollo 1
Virgil I. 'Gus' Grissom
Edward H. White II
Roger B. Chaffee
IN MEMORIAM

392 - Monday, 27 January 2004: Defogger not yet working. Possibly the repair-kit adhesive - not reusable after the little vial of activator is opened - is conductive, multimeter leads me to believe I may have to spring for another kit. One tab makes a good circuit to the grid, the other has continuity but very high resistance, may have to scrape that side off and do it over. Painting over it with the grid paint isn't helping. At least are both still stuck.

More people hired at work. Doing what I can to train machine-tech backup. A new woman may be dedicated to printing labels and checking out hand tools, right now I'm pretty much doing it all.

It's a jack-of-all-trades job. Computer work, crimping machine wrasslin', cutting plywood with a saw and driving little pins into it for a wire harness assembly jig, moving furniture; today I finally secured a shelving unit for a bunch of tools that had been laying on my area's floor for weeks. Tomorrow I hope to find time to expand an air-hose splitter tree with pipe chunks I found in neglected corners of the warehouse, so more tools can be operational at the same time.

Company having growing pains. Not enough chairs to go around. Tables being appropriated from the break room to use in production, from reception to use in the break room. Severe shortage of hand tools like wire cutters and needle-nose pliers.

Range bag still packed for Foul Weather Match, will unpack some ammunition and use limited amount for practice session.

STS-51L Mission PatchSTS-51L Mission Patch 28 January 1986 - STS-51L - OV-99 Challenger
Ronald E. McNair - Ellison S. Onizuka - Judith A. Resnik
Francis R. Scobee - Michael J. Smith
Sharon Christa McAuliffe - Gregory B. Jarvis
IN MEMORIAM

393 - Wednesday, 28 January 2004: Today at work I actually used something I learned in Job Corps and at ITT Technical Institute - I made a technical drawing! Of a desired fixture for a battery subassembly. On a steno pad, with a ball-point pen. A three-view line drawing and a perspective too! With dimensions even! This was in between setting up machines and bolting together tables and checking out hand tools with the computer database and making little cardboard signs with felt pens for various reasons and printing labels from the computer and phoning a parts supplier for technical information and doing production work and unjamming machines and finally, after over a month, restoring the strain-gauge, used for pull-testing all crimps for QC, to operation, having finally, after about two weeks, received all the parts needed to bolt it onto the test fixture.

I must say it's a more fulfilling job than I can ever remember having. Of course there are drawbacks - there's been little time to train my backup! Things are so rushed right now I just have to do it, with the operators and supervisors standing over my shoulder saying "Hothothot," and not take the extra time to explain and demonstrate what I'm doing.

DEQ open ‘til 9 tonight, will attempt it. Decompress and eat first.

Zipping through Gingrich & Forstchen's 1945, not too shabby. Obligatory partisan praise of torpedo-bomber pilot George H. W. Bush (who in this timeline signed a ban on the importation of "assault weapons" in ‘88); sly dig at gun control by pointing out, to the raid's leader's amusement, that the target of a certain Nazi commando raid (led by Otto by-gods Skorzeny) is in an area disarmed by government decree. Point(s) of historical divergence not exactly as I speculated. There is a Plot and I won't give it away - though if you lay hands on a copy and glance at the maps in the first few pages, there it is. Half through, must recommend.

So John Ringo's Posleen series got me hooked on the webcomic Sluggy Freelance, wherein a mention got me hooked on the webcomic Kevin & Kell (which I must admit can be disturbingly leftist at times), wherein a crossover is getting me hooked on the webcomic General Protection Fault....

Removing stuff from car so government DEQ employees won't walk off with it. Insulting? No. Realistic. They're already stealing from my paychecks. They're the government, after all.... Everything out but the jack, lug wrench and fire extinguisher.

Departing for DEQ at 6:30pm. -No great delay, adequately-professional staff. Sigh. Failed emissions test, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. Requirements 2.0 and 32.0 g/mi (grams/mile? Gallons gaseous volume per mile?), readings 2.82 and 40.8 respectively.

No fee for failure. Charged off to another station, instructions suggested I drive at least ten miles to get the catalytic converter up to temperature or something. (Does an ‘88 Ford Escort even have one of those?) Tried again - failed even worse! 5.34 and 67.8! Hmm, there's a station near work, maybe I'll try that one cold after the car sits in the parking lot for a few hours. Pamphlet lists possible causes: for CO, dirty air cleaner, contaminated oil, catalytic converter; for HC, misfiring ignition wires or spark plugs, bad spark timing, catalytic converter - or "worn valves, seals, guides, or piston rings." Well I damn sure don't want to take the head off. -Haynes manual does show replacement of converter... under the car. Forecast calls for rain for days, driveway is gravel and mud. Parts-store website says... new converters as low as $28, as high as $152. I don't think I want one from U-Pull-It.... Will talk to Blacksmith and possibly Woodworker. (Woodworker's lady, Mechanic, is the one I'm having political differences with....)

And besides all that, Jon Roland of the Constitution Society is in some kind of dire straits - like, rent or something - and just plain needs money. I've donated before but now have more immediate needs - like my own rent....

394 - Thursday, 29 January 2004: Tried DEQ again, failed again, so much for the colder-engine theory. Next plan, an oil change and a new air filter. Emailed Blacksmith and Woodworker.

Blasted through the last third of 1945, a little too bogged down in technical detail at times but still entertaining. No sign of a sequel, though the last words in the book are TO BE CONTINUED. Starting an SF short-story collection next, holding off on Tammy Bruce's The Death of Right and Wrong so soon after Goldberg's Arrogance.

Car repair may force me to skip practice, and maybe even the second Foul Weather Match. Hope to schedule a work-for-dinner thing, possibly at Blacksmith's, this weekend.

Rent should be well in-hand, need to start catching up on phone and electric bills.

395 - Friday, 30 January 2004: Starting to worry about the guy hired as my backup. Not displaying a Sense of Urgency, computer skills... inadequate. Oh well, I'm in good with the supervisors. Producing and performing does that, it seems. My immediate production-floor supervisor suggested she'd just hire another backup if I were dissatisfied.

I've also had another job offer recently, which is not unattractive, but it looks like the place I'm at is getting ready to hire me direct and give me benefits and such. Besides I find this work variously challenging, the other job would be office work, though it would pay more. I'll see what the current job offers.

Ya can't get good help anymore! Among all those recent hires, some are definitely FWRA Union members - Future Welfare Recipients of America. Sigh.

Payday. Fueled at the Space Age chain, which sells Plus for the same price as Regular, and which has a competitive price, which at present around here is $1.599. Chatted with fuel attendant who noted my "NO ON 30" window signs, he's on the same side. Said he talked to thirty-odd customers about Measure 30 and only two said they'd vote for it. Talk radio says polls say it's already going down. Dropped my ballot off a week ago.

Mallard Fillmore - used without permissionBoth local Victor Bock and syndicated Michael Savage discussing voter disaffection with Bush, particularly on illegal immigration (up 15% at San Ysidro in recent days; Border Patrol is questioning the illegals and about half say they're coming now because Bush is offering de facto amnesty) and arts funding ($18 million for the kind of people who produced "Piss Christ" - I'm comfortably agnostic and even I find that offensive). Both talkers sympathetic to callers who say they will not vote for Bush again, but asking, "What are you gonna do, vote Democrat?"

I don't want to vote for Bush again. He is by no means the staunch supporter of Constitutional rights I had hoped for in 2000 - his tax "cut" is a one-time pocket-change refund, he supports renewal of the "assault weapons" ban and his administration is spending more than Clinton's. And hey! Where the hell are the Libertarians? I don't even know who they've got running this time! Do they even have anyone in the race?

Rear defogger grid (partly) works! Seven of fourteen lines functioning, will attack it with a multimeter later.

Paid phone bill, $56.61, electric, $114.45, slightly over $100 left in checking. Rent secure, groceries on hand. Called Blacksmith, no answer. Reluctant to call Woodworker as I might get Mechanic who is voting to raise my taxes.

After my usual online session, called Blacksmith again. He suggested I change oil and air filter, as I had planned - will do that tomorrow and hopefully try DEQ a fourth time before they close. He said Woodworker knows about some stuff I can put in the car to get me through. -Ick, muddy driveway. Oil change first, get it over with, air filter only takes seconds. DEQ closed Sunday, will try to reach Clark Rifles for practice then.

But first....

396 - Saturday, 31 January 2004: ...Zzzz.

DEQ closes at 1pm. 9am, begin oil change (dribbledribble), have breakfast, play FreeCell. 9:45, oil change complete, off to Bi-Mart for new air filter - and a case of oil and three new oil filters for future changes. Change air filter right there in parking lot, off to DEQ!

Failed again. Drove to Woodworker's place, Mechanic present and behaving neutrally. Woodworker suggests xylene paint solvent as fuel additive - but no room in the tank! Bought two quarts at hardware store, went for a Drive to burn off fuel. Will try again Tuesday, registration expires Thursday. 21-day trip permits $20, limit two per year.

New CHL waiting upon return, surprisingly short turnaround. Maybe Kevin Starrett and OFF have put the fear of Mandamus into sheriff Giusto.

And by the way:

My score on the World's Smallest Political Quiz

Later, put a quart of xylene into not-quite-full fuel tank, charged off to grocery outlet store to mix it in, bought discounted shrimp platters and fake crab meat, yum. Woodworker and Mechanic say the solvent will clean out the engine generally. If DEQ fails again Tuesday (will dump two quarts into expected half-tank Tuesday morning) may try replacing EGR valve. If that doesn't work on Wednesday, may pay Woodworker's professional-mechanic cousin to install new catalytic converter - but that mechanic is the one who passed along the xylene tip.


December 2003 | JANUARY 2004 | February 2004
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