Delays, delays, delays…

They’re never ending.

So I went to the local lumber place yesterday and they had a pretty good assortment of marine plywood, they also want an arm and a kidney for it. $82 a sheet for 1/2 inch marine plywood. The reason I wanted to work with them is that I prefer to buy local when I can, and I wanted to get started on the floor as soon as possible. But I can’t pay that much for lumber, so Lowe’s it is.

Of course, our Lowe’s doesn’t carry any marine plywood on hand, it has to be special ordered. It’s $50 a sheet though, plus another 10% off with my veteran’s discount, and another 5% using the Lowe’s credit account. That’s a little less than $43 a sheet, damn near half what the other place wanted. I’ll call in my order later today.

So we went to lunch at Red Robin.

Sunday

Didn’t make as much progress as I would like this weekend. There’s still tomorrow though. Yay for three day weekends.

Saturday I got up and ran some errands around town while Laure indulged her sudden, inexplicable urge to deep clean every inch of the house. I returned home about the same time that she was finishing up. I fully intended to go out and clean the garage, after a bite to eat. What ended up happening was Laure falling asleep in our room, while reading a book, and myself nodding off on the couch and sleeping through five episodes of Futurama. I’m not sure where the sleepiness came from but we were both exhausted by mid-afternoon. After we awoke from our naps, we spent the evening watching TV together on the couch.

Today, after sleeping in till about nine AM, I went out and cleaned the garage. It is once again usable for more than just keeping our van dry. I didn’t get out and buy lumber like I’d planned. Today being Sunday, everything closed early. I did spend a little time in sketch-up, and measured and re-measured the trailer. I briefly entertained the idea of trying to salvage the existing decking somehow, but a cursory inspection of that plywood confirmed my initial concerns. That wood has been soaked through more than once, and while it would probably hold up fine for a few years, perhaps longer if I seal it properly, it will eventually rot out from under the teardrop. So I’ll be making a trip by one of the local lumber companies for some properly treated, ¾ inch plywood to replace that decking with.

I was also struck by something that I hadn’t put much thought into before, the fenders. I haven’t been a huge fan of the existing fenders but they don’t look bad, so I figured I’d leave them alone. The problem is that, as they are currently installed, once I build up the floor of the trailer there will be no way to remove those fenders. We’ll be stuck with them. That got me to thinking about something else, and whipping out the measuring tape yet again. The existing fenders are mounted in such a way that when the teardrop is finished, there will be a gap of a half an inch to an inch, between the walls and the fenders. I don’t think it’ll look good. So after I use the trailer to pick up the larger bits of lumber that wouldn’t otherwise fit in the van, I’ll be removing those fenders. I know a few people that are pretty good with a torch and a grinder, and I’ll have those fenders modified to attach right to the side of the teardrop when it’s done. I think this will look much better, and it will give us the option of replacing them with something we like better, in the future.

Since it’s President’s day tomorrow, I don’t know if the lumber company I want to use will be open. If they are, I’ll pick up the treated plywood for the underside, and see how far I can get with replacing that and then framing up the floor. I’d like to get it to the point where it’s insulated and ready to lay the cabin side of the floor down, but we have a million other things we need to do tomorrow so I don’t know how far into that I’m going to get.

In any case, some progress will be made and that’ll make me happy.

 

The teardrop

Not our trailer, or our car, unfortunately. Just a cool photo of a vintage teardrop.

A little over a year ago, Laure and I decided that we were going to build a teardrop trailer. We went out, got a loan for it, started ordering parts, bought a trailer to put it on, I got our van all equipped to tow the thing, and then life took over. With a kid going to college and other stuff coming up, we ran out of money before I could actually start building the thing. So for the last year, I’ve had boxes of stuff stacked up in the garage, leering at me every time I walked by them.

Tax refunds have come in, and we have a little bit of wiggle room in our budget now, so I’m hoping to start working on the teardrop again.

I started a separate blog about the whole process because I thought it would be fun to document the whole thing, from the planning stages on through dragging the finished product around the country whenever we have time to do it.

Needless to say, the blog hasn’t been touched since movement stopped on the project, last April. This morning, I decided to just condense these two blogs. I copied all the posts over from that blog, keeping the original post dates, so they now show up at the beginning of this blog. If anyone is interested, they can read about the teardrop’s progress by clicking on the teardrop category on the right hand side of this page.

President’s day is this coming Monday, so I plan on resuming the project at some point this weekend. First though, I need to organize the garage again because the holidays left it a total disaster. That should take up a good portion of my Saturday. If I’ve still got the gumption Saturday evening, I’ll begin ripping up the existing decking off of the trailer that we bought. Otherwise I’ll get started on Sunday. That trailer sat outside in the weather, at the trailer dealer, for who knows how long, so I don’t think it’s wise to trust the wood that’s there or to take a chance that it will begin to rot out from under the trailer.

So that is the first stage of the building. I need to put down fresh wood, weatherize it, build up the floor on top of it, insulate it and then get it ready for the walls, which I will hopefully begin building in a few weeks. Unfortunately, I don’t have a huge chunk of money to get going with, so I’ll have to build as the money comes in, a few hundred a month if I can manage it.

In any case, it’ll feel good to see some movement on it again.

Pantsless, yelling at trees, and flipping off little kids

I think I’ve actually been grieving for my country.

I know, that sounds really dramatic but hear me out here. I don’t think it’s what you think it is. It isn’t because of Trump. He’s just the icing on the cake. He might be what amounts to the last straw for me, or maybe he’s near the last and who the fuck knows what we’re in for next.

When I read political arguments, I’m usually only seeing people looking as far back as Obama. In rare cases, I’ll see people skipping Bush entirely (which doesn’t make any sense at all) and pointing to Bill Clinton. For me though, the shit really started with Richard Nixon. That seems to be when the train to hell really got rolling.

I’d love to go into the reasons for this belief, but most people these days haven’t got the attention span for that. It’s not something I could explain in one paragraph, or even one page, or in fifty pages. There is a LOT to it. The US has been very, VERY busy meddling in the affairs of other governments for a very long time, and it’s all finally coming back to bite us in the ass. Exactly how we got to this point is quite the confusing, convoluted mess. I sometimes have to sit down and write shit down, drawing up little timelines just to make sense of it.

Doing a bit of research on your own, you could muddle through it in an afternoon and have a decent grasp on the state of this country. Start by googling the relationship between oil and the US dollar, the history behind that, and then move into exactly how the US dollar currently maintains it’s supposed value. If you can set aside any blind patriotism you might have, and try to look at things objectively, you’ll begin to understand what is really going on in the world, and just how fucked the US is if it’s people don’t pull their heads out of their asses and re-take their country.

No, electing a good president is not going to fix a fucking thing. You’re starting at the wrong end of the pyramid there folks.

Anyway, back to the Nixon administration, and the 1970’s. Economically, the US was at it’s peak then. In spite of all of our technological advances since, we have been on a slow, steady decline. That is, as a whole, as a nation, we have been on the decline. A small group of people that is now referred to as the 1%, they’ve been doing better and better, and the media has been doing a fantastic job of making us think that because they’re doing better, so are the rest of us.

We’re not. The average American family is only one paycheck away from total financial disaster.

Most families don’t have much of anything in the way of savings. Most families are upside down in their finances, owing tremendously more than they’re worth (economically speaking). It may not appear that way because a lot of people, myself included, live in decent houses, have numerous personal computers, gaming/entertainment devices, massive flat screen TVs, several vehicles, etc, etc… That standard of living however, is quite shallow, and quite fragile. I will explain why.

Speaking for my own family, all of our value is tied up in our home, which we still owe quite a bit on. Looking at the market, our home is worth a decent amount more than what we owe on it. That difference is commonly referred to as “equity”. The last time we tallied things up, our equity was somewhere between four and five times more than what we owe in other debt, such as small personal loans and credit cards.

Now, so long as the market doesn’t crash again (which is imminent, I fucking promise you), we’re doing alright. If we wanted to, we have a reasonably decent chance of selling our house, paying off the loan on it, and using the profit from that to pay off that miscellaneous debt, and then still have a little bit left over to move into some shitty apartment somewhere. In any case, as it stands, we have a positive net worth. Not much of one, but it’s there.

In that regard, we are miles ahead of the average American family right now, which is a sad statement.

However, that is a very fragile condition, for several reasons. Chiefly, that condition depends on the state of the US market. If housing prices were to crash again (again, going to happen soon) we’d end up in big trouble. How much trouble depends on how far the price of our home dropped. If things drop like they did in 2008, we could find ourselves close to $100K in the hole, literally over night. As long as we both hung onto our jobs, we could weather such a collapse and probably recover in a few years.

Again, that sounds all fine and dandy, right? You’d be wrong again. With no savings, and nothing else of concrete value to fall back on, we’d eventually find ourselves back at zero again. Zero, as in owing about as much as we’re worth. If we were both in our early to mid-twenties, that wouldn’t really be a big deal. We are not in our mid-twenties.

See, this already happened to us once, in 2009, except it didn’t go well. Not at all. The value of our house plummeted. Only a few weeks later, I lost my job, as did a staggering number of other Americans. We spent the next year burning through our savings, then my retirement, trying to hang on to our house, which we ended up losing to foreclosure anyway when all of that ran out. Indeed, the system is designed so that what would have made much more financial sense, would have been to shirk our responsibilities regarding our home loan, and just stopped making the payments as soon as I lost my job. We would have come out of that whole ordeal in a lot better shape than we did.

That was 2010, and we lost everything. I eventually found another, good job, one somewhat more secure than the one I lost, but we started off at zero again, this time in our thirties. In a few weeks, I’ll be forty-one years old. My current retirement plan has me retiring some time in my 70’s, right around the age that, statistically speaking, most American men die. Again though, that all depends on the US economy managing to stay viable until after I die, which isn’t likely under the current conditions. In all likelihood, I will work full time, in debt, until I die. Even that is optimistic, because most American men are nearly unemployable after the age of sixty, due to health concerns and the way our dumb-ass insurance/health care system works. If I lost my job after sixty, without a savings or some kind of retirement plan, neither of which would cut it at that point… I don’t even fucking know what what would happen then. I can say that I’ve seen America’s public nursing homes, and they’re fucking scary folks. They’re limping along on social security, medicaid and medicare, all of which will be long gone by the time I would become illegible for any of them. Again, shit is bleak for the vast majority of my generation, and the generations following.

The fact is that my parents’ generation was the last American generation to actually live the American dream. The rest of us are surviving entirely on debt, and that isn’t sustainable for very much longer.

It’s not a pretty picture, and it’s the one that most Americans are seeing right now. Instead of working together to deal with the real enemy, the real cause of all of these problems, we’re lashing out at each other and getting more divided every day.

I could go on for pages, hours, about what I think is in store for this country but it would basically just be me, standing in a park, pants-less, wearing only a white t-shirt, yelling at trees, and flipping off little kids.

No one would pay any attention because they would think I was crazy.

But looking at all of this, having been neck deep in the reality of it at one point, and seeing it coming at us again, I’m having a very difficult time seeing the USA as anything but lost. I grieve for my country.

Are you sure you want to follow me?

Because I keep getting followed by christians and right wing whack-jobs on twitter, that clearly haven’t bothered to go through my feed, this post is primarily aimed at you, just so you understand who you’ve added. This may also be helpful for people that followed me because they agreed with some of my political tweets, but you may not want me showing up in your feed.

1) I swear. A lot. I follow porn actors, alt models, and often re-tweet what they post. So if you follow me, you’re going to see boobs in your feed.

2) I am not a Christian. I was, for twenty-five years. I grew up with it. I’ve seen christianity for what it really is. I’ll never go back. Keep your religious bullshit to yourself. I’m not interested.

3) I am not a republican or a democrat, and comparing those two parties is like comparing two bowls of steaming dog shit. On most issues I’m pretty far on the left, on some I’m on the right, on others I’m middle of the road. I’m best described as “unaffiliated”. C’mon, what are our alternatives? The tea party is just a more extreme, bat shit fucking crazy version of the republican party. Personally, I make no distinction between the two. The green party… yeah, right. As far as the libertarian party… we already have a great example of a libertarian nation in the world. No gun control, not much in the way of taxes, very little government, everyone is responsible for themselves, the weak get eaten alive by the strong… it’s called Somalia. Feel free to vacation there and see what you think.

Face it folks, the only parties that matter in this country are the democrats and the republicans, because they’ve engineered the system to be that way. It isn’t a theory, it isn’t a secret, they haven’t even tried to hide it. Most people just aren’t paying enough attention to notice how the system has been rigged right out in the open.

Our two party system is a complete joke, and has been one continuous train wreck for more than half a century.

4) The GOP has firmly convinced me that they are predominately corrupt, hate filled, racist, sexist, elitist bigots, trying to shove corporate America’s cock firmly up the ass of the average American citizen, all the while convincing them that they’re getting the better end of the deal. Sadly, they’re succeeding and somehow finding ways to blame the economic state of this country on the very citizens they’re fucking in the ass. The Democrats are ultimately just as owned by corporate America as the GOP, and most of those that aren’t are too spineless to try and do anything about it.

5) I believe “the gays” should have all the same rights and privileges as any other US citizen. THEY ARE U.S. CITIZENS. Why the hell are their rights even a debate?

6) I seem to be one of the few people in this country that understands that capitalism is an economic system, not a form of government. The GOP has the general public very confused about this fact. Capitalism does not equal democracy and it certainly does not equal freedom. What the US refers to as capitalism is a perverted, lobotomized version of a system that used to work for the American people. Now it’s just a tool to exploit them.

7) Gun violence is not a gun problem, it is a mental health problem, an education problem, and an economic problem. People were killing each other long before guns came along. Get rid of guns and they’ll find other ways to do it. I’m a gun owner myself, but that being said, I do believe in sensible gun control.

8) I believe socialized medicine is the way to go. Yes, I’m fully aware that it’s not “free”, our taxes might go up to pay for it, unless we get the wealthy to pay their fair share, and we close a lot of other tax loop holes. Even if my taxes do go up in such a case, this doesn’t bother me because a) I can do basic math and b) I’ve taken the time to get the facts from the US government board of education web site, the world health organization website, numerous medical journals, and NOT from Fox news. Our health care system is an industry, designed to make money. As a money making industry, it’s an astounding success. As a health care system, it’s a colossal failure.

I have a college degree, a reasonably well paying job, great insurance, I’m a home owner, I’m a veteran, and I’m pointing all of this out so that you understand that I’m not looking for what the right sees as a “hand out”. We will go a hell of a lot farther working together and helping each other, than we will being a nation of selfish assholes.

9) Donald Fucking Trump is the same stupid, childish, narcissistic, lying, corporate elitist sack of shit he was before the election. I see so many people posting about how they regret having voting for him, and while I’m grateful that you people have come around, I have a really difficult time understanding how you didn’t see him for what he was when you filled in that little oval. I do understand though, that there was no good outcome to this election, there was just a slightly less messy and fucked up one, which I would have gladly taken. But who knows, as I’ve said in other posts, President Trump might actually be just the kick in the balls that this country needed to get it’s shit together and be one country again, if it isn’t already too late for that.

So then.

If you listen to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly, you probably quit reading this a long time ago because you decided that I’m an evil, fascist, socialist, anti-american, terrorist sympathizing, nazi that wants to turn your children gay and euthanize your parents when they turn sixty-five.

In any case, if you’ve made it this far, you now have enough information to make an educated decision about whether following me on twitter was the prudent thing to do. I’m a grown up, I won’t be upset if you unfollow me.

Sincerely,

@deadtom