Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Reader Wonders...

...why I don't have photos of my workshop as I'm building the FJ Cruiser dog/storage platform.  Joey M. would like to see where I'm making these things.

Sorry, but I can't oblige – for the simple reason that I don't have a workshop.  I don't even have a garage!  This is why all my project photos are shot outside.  I do all my fabrication work on sawhorses in our driveway, and with the sole exception of the drill press, the work is all done with hand tools.

I'd love to have a well-equipped workshop, and for sure such a workshop would have made the work I'm doing much, much easier.  But I'm not one to forgo a project simply because I don't have the best tools for the job.  If I can do it with the tools I have (or can reasonably get), I'll do it anyway!

Compelling Testimony...

This is what it looks like when my America is being destroyed:

FJ Cruiser: The Platform Saga Continues...

Working on the FJ Cruiser project has been wonderful therapy for me.  While I'm working on it, all my concerns about what's happening to my country disappear – there's only the work at hand, and it's work that I find both engaging and satisfying.

Yesterday afternoon, I finished the last of the fabrication on the the dog/storage platform.  All I have left to do now is some wood patching, sanding, and masking – then I start painting.  Unless something goes horribly wrong, I should have the finished platform installed by Sunday evening, Monday worst case.

A few photos for you:

Here's the complete framework of the dog/storage platform; only the lids (port, starboard, and forward) are missing.  This is viewed from the open rear door of the FJ; you can see both front doors are open.  The rear panel (in the foreground of the photo) has cutouts for the air compressor switch, compressed air port, 110 VAC outlets, and the power plug for the refrigerator.  The "pocket" on the left will hold the air compressor (there's a little shelf in there to mount it on), and the "pocket" on the right will hold the 2000 watt AC inverter.  The two doors will cover the open areas you see on the left and right, there's a separate little door that covers the square opening between the front seats.  The two big doors are hinged on each side of the center "rib" you see (the only flat surface visible now)...

Fitting the oak hinge bar into the the port door's surface.  This is the same exercise I did last week on the center rib, except this time I have to match that center rib exactly, adding another dimension of trickiness to an already-tricky operation...

The port door, nearly complete.  Here I'm laying out the holes for the wood screws that will (together with glue) attach the oak hinge bar to the plywood door.

Can This Get Even Worse?

Reading the news over the past few weeks has been tortuous for any American who cherishes the freedoms our Founding Fathers intended us to have.  It seems like there's little room for other news between the IRS scandals, the Benghazi coverups and mysteries, the AP phone records, the Rosen phone taps, the Verizon phone records (including mine!), the Bin Laden leak disclosures, and the IRS conference boondoggles.

It all leaves me with a sense of unreality.  It felt like a familiar feeling, and I finally placed it this morning: it feels like the way I felt when I left home to join the Navy.  The familiar place that I loved was gone, and instead I was rudely thrust into a new world with little to commend it.  Furthermore,  I had no idea what was going to happen to me – could be good, could be bad.  I was profoundly aware of the limits of my own influence of the future course of events.  It was mostly scary, and it was definitely hard to maintain a positive attitude. 

I feel like that now.

I also am being trained to expect more and more of this horrifying news.  I'm losing any ability to be surprised at what the Obama administration might do...


On the morning of June 6, 1944 – D-Day, 69 years ago today – tens of thousands of Allied troops began the invasion of Europe to attack the Nazi armies of Adolf Hitler.  The iconic photo at right was taking from inside one of the landing craft just after the troops it carried disembarked and dashed toward Omaha Beach.

Thousands of them would not survive this day.  I've visited several of the Allied cemeteries in Normandy.  The sheer number of memorials is staggering and overwhelming.  I've read a lot of history about WWII and D-Day, so I have a reasonably good understanding of what those troops were facing.  I am in awe of their quiet courage and determination to win.

To win, and to survive – because WWII was an existential war for America and its allies.  That's something I've discovered that many Americans today, especially younger Americans, simply don't realize: that in WWII our very existence as a nation was threatened.  Not in some obscure, indirect way – but very directly indeed.  If Adolf Hitler had prevailed, America would be a very different place indeed.

There are a few dates each year that I make a point of remembering and thinking about.  June 6 is one of them.  This year, I got to thinking about conversations I've had over the past year, mainly with some of my colleagues.  I was quite amazed, though I probably shouldn't be, at their profound ignorance of WWII in general, and D-Day in particular.  In no particular order, here are some of the things I heard:
  • A belief that America's involvement in WWII was essentially like our involvement in Vietnam or Korea – we were there to help an ally, not because we were directly threatened.
  • A belief that America's casualties (killed and wounded) in WWII were lower than our casualties in Afghanistan.
  • A belief that Hitler's extermination of Jews was at best overblown and at worst a complete fabrication of wartime propagandists on the Allied side.
  • A belief that Allied aircraft had complete air superiority throughout the war, and routinely (and successfully) bombed both stationary and mobile targets.
All of these are just symptoms of that amazing ignorance.  This ignorance makes me very sad, but it's also rather frightening – we have a generation of adults now who aren't even aware of this nation's rich experience.  They certainly aren't going to learn the lessons of our history, not even of our recent history.

I'd be willing to bet that none of people voicing the beliefs I outlined today are remembering D-Day today.  I'll remember for them...