Sunday, September 19

An unexpected gift - The Family

Warning, extended self indulgent, rambling below.

I was lounging around yesterday in the early evening watching a History Channel show called ToolBox. It's a show that does a passable job discussing tools and their history. Frequent visiters to this place (hey Pat, Margit, my friends in Houston, and Plano) may have read a thing or two about my interest in the repair, modification, and hacking departments. I was a bicycle mechanic for many years and like to remind people that the Wright Brothers bicycle mechanics as well. Anyway I am a guy who likes tools, and I have a boatload myself. A special place in my heart is devoted to hand woodworking tools, particularly planes. So a considerable portion of the show I was watching was about planes, including a visit to the Lie Neilson factory in Maine, where they construct the Cadillac of Planes.

These are just some fantastic tools, made with the best materials, and constructed to the highest standards. Quite frankly tools I have now business owning, because I am basically a hack when it comes to wood working or specifically cabinet making. A wood lathe is a different story though and I have managed to make some very cool things, including a walnut softball bat that
passed muster and was used in a softball game for a couple of at bats (damn thing was too heavy).
When it broke, it went back into the lathe and became a fine mallet, a small cup with a silver inlayed first initial for my Lady's birthday, and many other experiments in form.
The last part of the show paid a visit to a violin maker, who showed off s variety of planes that he made, and uses in his craft.

One of these years, I will combine my love of tools and love of making things, and construct a small foundry, and forge, and get busy casting things, and forging things.
If you are interested in forge work and tool making, the Complete modern Blacksmith, by Alexander Weygers is a must read book. Cleary written with excellent illustrations, that take the mystery out of this age old art. The above link to casting takes you to a series of books describing, how to construct a machine shop from scratch. A fantastic source of books like the above is Lindsay's Technical Books. You want to make a machine shop, melt iron, cast things, make radios..........the list goes on, you should take a look. the variety is astounding.

Now I have a confession to make. I watched a lot of Gilligan's Island as a kid. I have to admit a certain fascination with the professor, and all manner of contraptions he built to make life easier. It occured to me that I might be one day stranded on an island, or survive the downfall of civilization, and that it would be helpfull to aquire a broad base of skills. One of the themes of Farenheit 451, is the preservation of the culture of literature. These themes merged, and as I have never been smitten with a particular field of study, I endevoured to become a generalist with the intent of becoming an indispensible member of a post apocalyptic society on the one hand, and on the other, figure out a way to fix the world (yeah I know, I am probably more likely to put a rock into orbit with a slingshot, but a guy's gotta dream).

Anyway back to the original point, so I'm lounging, and watching the tool show and the Lady of the house comes back and says she has a suprise for me and hands me a copy of "The Family". I had been resigned to wait for our friend, who just got a copy of the book, to finish his, But now I dont have to. I have made it throught the first sixty pages and while I have'nt come across any "bombshells", the background on dubya's forebears, makes understanding Dubya a bit easier, and we haven't even met Barbara Pierce. For me the biggest mind blower thus far, is the discovery that Dubya's great great Grandfather, was born in my hometown of Bloomington Indiana. I started trying to remember some of the Walker's that I went to school with, and of course wondered, if they were distant relatives. When my friend who has a copy of the book came over last night, he was shocked and amazed at this piece of news. His family has resided in the area for a long time, and there are Walker's in his clan. He was upset by the possibility that he might be a distant relative of G-Dub. In homage to the penniless son of a failed farmer, who rose to become a millionaire, whose grand daughter became the mother of one president and the grandmother of another, well take a look at something he published in 1914.
I am in favor of segregating the Negroes in all communities. I consider them more of a menace that the social evil [prostitution], and all other evils combined. I am completely in favor of the unwrittenlaw-lynching for assaults on women, no matter whether the criminal be black or white.

I would compel all men and women to submit to a strict physical examination by a first-class physician before permitting them to marry. For humanity's sake, I am in favor of putting to death all children who come into the world hopeless invalids or badly deformed.

At least he pays lip service to fairness insofar and whites should be lynched as well. I am sure that he was speaking of poor white people, and not members of his class.