Thursday, February 6, 2014

How I taught my kids to lie about whether there are guns in our home

We tell kids to "always tell the truth".

But what about situations where it's NOT good to tell the truth?
In an age where any healthcare provider can circumvent HIPAA and throw you on the prohibited persons list for any reason, where the NSA is tracking you everywhere you go on the web and everyone you talk to, and where talking about the wrong thing at work can get you fired, where organic gardens are being made illegal, is there a place for teaching kids that sometimes it's OK, even necessary, to lie?

Governments encouraging kids to rat out their parents has been going on since time immemorial.  Russia, China, North Korea, and other totalitarian regimes have always made it a priority to go after children.  Lenin famously said "Give me children for 4 years and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted."  And of course Orwell's "1984" contained examples of children denouncing their parents.

In particular, I would like to address the practice of doctors and other health professionals asking parents and children (often with the children separated from mom) whether their home contains firearms.  It is inevitable that an affirmative answer here by either child or parent will be recorded indefinitely for posterity in a government-accessible database.  It's likely as well that even a non-answer like "None of your business" is also recorded as an affirmative.  And if at any time any healthcare professional thinks that you are "dangerous", they can remove your ability to buy firearms forever.  (And "dangerous" will likely mean "has guns in the home")

Most children are taught to obey authority figures without question - police officers, doctors, teachers, etc. 

But there are times when "telling the truth" is not a good thing.  What is the best route forward for parents when they know their kids may be isolated and faced with nosy, clipboard-bearing government professionals with unclear intentions towards you and the ability to remove your children from you on a whim?  What about other nosy parents?  What about your kids' friends with tweaker uncles who prick up their ears when they hear your little Suzy talking about her family's $10,000 gun collection?

In my case, I have always answered "no" when asked by a doctor if there are firearms in the home.  They're either locked up or being carried.  Why should I involve a doctor, that knows nothing about guns, in my firearm decisions?  I don't ask my plumber how I should allocate my stock portfolio.

But what about kids?

What do we tell them to say?

My route has been the following:

"Kidlets, Mommy and Daddy love you very much, and accept you just the way you are.  But there are people out there that are not as accepting and tolerant as Mommy and Daddy, and if they discover something about you that they do not like about you or our family, they will become angry and mean.  They might not show it to you, but they will still be angry."

"Because we own guns, we have to be careful of intolerant, mean people that will get angry at us if they find out we own guns.  Not everyone is intolerant or mean, but we have to be careful.  It is important that if a teacher, a doctor, or a friend, or another parent asks you if we own guns, you tell them I DON'T KNOW.  Yes, this is lying, and while we tell the truth to each other, we don't have to tell the truth to those outside our family, especially when they are not close close friends."

"Let's practice.  Pretend I am a doctor in a big white coat.  'Little boy, do your parents own guns?' 'I dunno.'"

"Let's pretend I am the parent of a friend.  'Little girl, are there guns in your house?'  'I don't know.'"

"Pretend I'm a police officer. 'Little girl, are their guns in your house?'  'I dunno.' 'Now, I talked with your brother, and he said yes.  Are there any guns in the house? 'I dunno.'"

"Good work, the three of you.  Let's go get some ice cream."

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Waxing cotton jackets.

I recently got a Carhartt cotton jacket and wanted to wax it.

Items needed:

16oz beeswax

16oz raw linseed oil (the "boiled" linseed oil isn't boiled, it just contains heavy metals like cobalt as a drying agent.  Not what I want against my skin.)

Bowl or pot that you don't want to use again for food


Clothes iron you don't want to use for clothes again (a ski wax iron is great as it can go hotter)

Multimeter with thermocouple (optional)


Melt the beeswax in the bowl.  Don't add the linseed oil yet.

Once the beeswax is melted, add the linseed oil.

Raise the temperature of the mix to about 150 C.  I found this to be a good compromise between smoking and ease of application.

Coat the jacket with an even layer of wax/oil mix.  Don't worry about it being pretty.

Once done, use the iron to melt the wax into the jacket.  It should practically disappear into the fibers of the jacket.

Hang the jacket outside for a couple days for the linseed oil to dry.

That's it, you're done.

Things I found to not work:

Using a hairdryer to melt the wax into the jacket (too slow)

Using a heatgun (also too slow)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Gun control is racist, classist, sexist, ageist, classist, and anti-gay.

Gun control is racist. Google "Black Codes". The first gun control laws were passed to disarm blacks so they could not resist the Klan.

Gun control is sexist. Women have less strength to resist a physical attack, so gun control disproportionally disarms them.

Gun control is ageist. The aged have less strength to resist a physical attack, so gun control disproportionally disarms them.

Gun control is anti-gay. People of alternative sexualities are more likely to be attacked by a group of people, so gun control disproportionally disarms them.

Gun control is classist. The poor live in bad neighborhoods, are more likely to be victims of a crime, and cannot pay bodyguards, so gun control disproportionally disarms them.

A white privileged heterosexual male has nothing to fear from gun control - he is less likely to be a victim of a crime, can pay bodyguards, is strong enough to fight off individual attackers, and is not likely to be attacked because of his sexuality.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Safes" and safes.

Regarding "safes" - if it's not UL- or ETL-rated, it's not a safe.  Real safes are rated according to the number of minutes that they will withstand attack from a given set of tools in the hands of a trained safecracker.

From UL's site:

"Safes are rated for their resistance to attack against specific tools
for a set period of time. There are a dozen different ratings,
everything from ATM machines, to gun safes to bank vaults. For example, a
safe that bears a Class TRTL-15x6 rating, which might be found in a
jewelry store, should resist a hand tool and torch attack for a minimum
of 15 minutes. A TRTL-30x6-rated safe, which would protect important
documents or store money, should withstand an attack for 30 minutes. The
ultimate safe rating — a TXTL60 — should withstand an hour's worth of
attack that includes the use of 8 ounces of nitroglycerin."

Nearly 100% of "safes" that you will find in a big box store or online (even the imposing-looking gun safes) meet merely the minimum requirements for "residential security container" or RSC which is that they will withstand *5 minutes* of attack by common hand tools.  They are not "safes" at all and give virtually no protection due to their thin steel and unsophisticated locking mechanisms.  (Hint: if the description of the thing lauds what "gauge" the steel is, it's not a safe.  Real safes start at 1/4" armor plate steel and go up from there.)

Here's a video showing that most "safes" are crap:

Therefore, with this in mind, if you buy a "safe" and not a real safe, it will only secure valuables against the dumbest criminals under time pressure, and if the burglar has any time at all to work on it with even the most rudimentary tools, it will be cracked.

Therefore, the only real use of a "safe" is to protect against fire and the subsequent dousing by the fire department - and again, if it doesn't bear a UL listing for fire protection, it's not a safe, it's just a heavy box.  Again from UL's site:

"In addition to burglary protection ratings, UL also rates safes for
their fire resistance protection. Class 350 safes protect paper
documents, Class 150 safes protect magnetic tape and photographic film,
while Class 125 safes protect floppy disks. In addition to the Class
Rating, safes obtain an hourly rating for fire resistance — anywhere
from 30 minutes to four hours."

Waterproof safes are hard to make due to the fact that the door has to be sealed; therefore, for waterproofness, simply enclose your documents/valuables in plastic bags in a regular RSC as the more waterproof containers tend to be top-opening chests instead of front opening.

This should be enough of an education for you to pick your own safe.
AMSEC is a premier maker of safes and they start at $1000 and up.  Sentry makes good fire RSCs and they start at $50 or so.

Monday, July 18, 2011

You don't need AWD/4x4 for a snow car.

Everyone that actually lives in the mountains zooms around in little rusty manual transmission Civics with snow tires, blowing past all the tourists in their SUVs.

While Outbacks are better, anything between about 2000-2004 has head gasket problems. The Legacy is the lower Outback and still does great in the snow. Anything 4WD or AWD is not cheap to maintain, if you must get one, get a car with a completely mechanical 4x4 or AWD system. I live down in the plains and drive up to ski, and we figured in my buddy's AWD wagon we were in conditions that actually required the AWD (not "was nice", required as in "we would otherwise die") perhaps 4% of the yearly mileage, and we got in 60 days each.

Consider a manual transmission FWD wagon with 4 good snow tires (Blizzaks, Hakkapelittas, Green Diamonds) on steel rims. (Why steel rims? Because in winter you're a lot more liable to slide into a curb and ding your alloy rims/affect your alignment. Because steel rims bend, they absorb some of the impact that would otherwise go into messing up your alignment).

In the snow, the order of on-road capability goes: AWD with chains > AWD with snow tires > 4x4 with chains > FWD with chains > 4x4 with snow tires > FWD with snow tires > AWD with all season tires > FWD with all season tires > 4x4 with all season tires.

On all season tires, 4x4s are the worst car to drive in winter because of their high centers of gravity, solid axles, and unsophisticated differentials. Offroad, a 4x4 will own anything but on a road at high speed they are unsafe.

Even an AWD on all-seasons will be all over the road compared to a FWD on good snow tires.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Marin Lombard 2011 review.

When disc brakes came out 15 years ago, I lusted after having a road bike with disc brakes.  I never got one - until now.  With a 30 mile roundtrip commute, my singlespeed track bike was painful to grunt up those hills.

You can read the specs at Marin's site here.  They don't list the weight but my LBS put my Large size on the scale for 25lb 11oz with the stock pedals.

There are a couple of things I love about it that other reviews don't talk about.  The seatpost is really nice and allows you to fine-tune the tilt of the seat to a degree not normally found in this pricepoint of bike.  The wheelbase is relatively long, giving good stability.  All of the hardpoints that you'd find on a touring bike are there and in the right places, so you can mount full fenders plus front and rear racks with no problem.  The fork, though not steel, resembles an MTB fork and gives a good strong mount point for the front disc brake plus it nicely dampens road vibration.  I would not be surprised if MTB tires fit nicely. The stock tires have relatively low rolling resistance but have good siping on the sides for cornering in the wet.  The seat tube and handlebars both have numbered lines so fine-tuning the bike's fit is easy, and they left you lots of head tube on the fork so you can chop it yourself.  The frame is neat, combining a high BB height, low CG, and more cross-like handlebar position.  They basically went right down the middle with the geometry between a dedicated road bike and a cross bike. Cyclocrossers will like the fact that the top tube has a crease running down its length on both sides, making it easy to pick up and shoulder over obstacles. The Tektro Lyra disc brakes are nice and will bring you to a screeching halt wet or dry.

The drivetrain is a little low in Shimano's lineup for my liking, but it's solid and any parts that I blow up will get replaced with nicer ones anyway.

I paid $720 at my LBS, and I think that's a damn good deal.

edit: I had a "clunk" going on with the rear disc brake when the brake was first applied (not a constant clicking, just a "thunk" as you engaged the brake). My LBS called Tektro directly and they suggested looking to see if the ball bearing that the disc actuator rides on had slipped, or if the return spring had popped out. It was the latter, the spring was out of it hole due to the bolt working a bit loose. They fixed that and it's been fine for 30 miles. I suggest locktiting the bolt that holds the spring in.

150 miles on the bike so far and no other complaints.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"But I ran out of steam trying to find new ways to prepare swiss chard, kohlrabi, eggplant, and collard greens. "

This is a common reaction to CSAs. What most people don't realize is that if you're not getting it in your local CSA, it's generally not *possible* to grow the tomatoes, peppers, corn, etc. *with good yield* where you live. Sure, you can grow a couple Brandywines on your porch, but what about 30,000 plants in continuous production across seasonal variations in weather and in local soil? People think that "well, I put a plant in $3 of compost I bought from the store and *I* was able to get 3 tomatoes from it last year, so clearly the CSA should be able to give me a dozen tomatoes a week if they just planted enough! What idiots!"

The "swiss chard, kohlrabi, eggplant, and collard greens" that people whine about are the foods that actually *grow well* where they live, which is the whole intent of "eating local" in the first place. If you're not willing to eat the foods that actually grow well where you live, then admit that you really don't care about eating local in the first place and just want to be trendy.