Sunday, November 13, 2016

Be Good

The original script:

Many of my friends and family are not actually my allies. I've come to realize this. They claim to be good, and purchase pre-packaged good to display proudly on their mantle; "military service" this, "Lions club" that, "Salvation Army" the other, all this quality-controlled, accountable goodness, without stopping to wonder just how much it really matters. They just have documented, quantified proof that they "did good", and, if questioned, they wave it around like having done something in the past grants them "good" status in perpetuity and they're excused from any greater effort unless they're feeling magnanimous. They don't need to seek good, question good, understand that evil exists continuously and good must be enacted and propagated continuously in return.

Words and deeds matter, but there is a balance... and we have lost that balance: too many people insist they're good, pointing at the trophies they've awarded each other as proof, and doing as little else as possible. Worse, they do all this while damning those who remind them that there's more good that needs doing, and laughing while they do it.

In the last five days, Americans have gone out to live their daily lives and encountered a whole new level of purely spiteful hate; women reminded that they're objects, Hispanics and black people told to go back to Mexico and Africa, Muslims threatened for their faith. It's a new level of blatant bigotry on all fronts, because hate has been validated by allowing the election of bigots and rapists that used money and blanket media scare campaigns to intimidate youth and minorities away from the polls and scare uninformed white people into the polls. These people manipulated us all with media campaigns of pure terror and no truth.

Good has lost. Evil has won, and on an unprecedented scale. This shows not only because Trump and Pence won, not just because the Republicans dominate the House, the Senate and, soon, the Supreme Court, but also because the people I thought were good almost universally don't care. They say they do, and wave their trophies around as proof, but then stand idly by while children have to scrape and beg to eat and feed each other in our schools, while police work side-by-side with privately-owned militaries to commit acts of war, torture, and racial and religious oppression in the name of private, corporate profit, women are forced to bear children for a variety of abusive and coercive predators and stripped of their right to decide whether they want to or not, and self-proclaimed Christian activists subject Muslims to a level of religious hatred and persecution that they, themselves, have been taught to fear but have never actually experienced.

Good isn't convenient, and it's not always placed on a flyer, a shelf, a TV screen for your easy consumption to satisfy your sense of well-being. Good requires vigilance, thought, concern, and genuine effort, even if that effort is needed outside of business hours. Good requires patience, tolerance, empathy, and understanding that different is not automatically bad, rising above animal instinct to act intelligently, using sentient reasoning and hoping for a better world. It takes real comprehension of informed consent, and how informed consent, for whatever purpose, requires education and cannot be manipulated and coerced.

But many people I know, with their self-importance and their “done good” trophies, their social circles all patting each other on the back and shaking each others' hands, actually abuse this same system, predating others to obtain the illusion of informed consent for their own benefit and only apologizing if caught, after the profit or the gain has been made... a radical, insidious and horrific abuse of the axiom “it's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.” In fact, this is the position of the majority of America: capitalism, not for humanity, as it should be, but at the cost of humanity.

I'm an Atheist, but I've read the Christian Bible twice in my life. The first time, I was angry and wanted material to point at and be angry at. The second time, I was looking for a message, for whatever it was that people were so hung up on in this book as a whole. I actually found a message, underneath all the dogma and the political editing to give long-dead men “Divine Right”, and it was early on, when the idea of the book as a collection of parables meant to teach people good living by way of example wasn't quite completely bogged down by centuries of politics and fearmongering. The heart of the message was “be good.” Not “behave, and you can have the doggie treat called Heaven”, not “behave, or I'll spank you with a lake of fire for all eternity”, not “be good because an identifiable incarnation of good asked you to in order to make it comprehensible to peoples driven by self-interest”, but just “be good.” Because good is an amazing thing to be.

Be good.
Jonny friggin' Panic

Friday, November 11, 2016

Happy Veterans Day

Why I am not grateful.


I do appreciate the efforts of veterans, and I care about them deeply, but the ideals they fought for, put themselves through Hell for, are not the ideals we have here, and most Americans are too shallow and self-centered to care or take any responsibility for the difference.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

My brother is not my ally

The Youtube Godot tutorial series, video #1:

If you hope to have allies, you should be an ally.
Jonny friggin' Panic

Monday, October 31, 2016

Still ticking

I'm still busy, just so the world knows. Things have been hectic, but I have irons in the fire, such as an article about the misconception of forgiveness as a right, a Christmas list and thoughts about the Standing Rock Sioux and the #NoDAPL movement, which I support wholeheartedly. More soon.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Why I won't vote for Gary Johnson.

(I wrote this out on my Facebook. However, given the brevity of many blog and news posts I see, nowadays, I thought it would qualify as suitable blog-post content for Land and River, Fire and Sky.)

Why I finally sided firmly against Gary Johnson...
- He's against mandatory vaccines.
I find this unconscionable. Perfect safety isn't possible... but vaccination of the population has all but eliminated terrible diseases that used to be death sentences. The entire anti-vaccination movement was started by a doctor for personal profit, and has been picked up by pseudo-intellectuals who look at component names and object without realizing much of medicine is chemistry, and chemistry is never as simple as it looks on the surface... but, since these pseudo-intellectuals are famous, they don't actually have to educate themselves any more than is convenient to make them look good... or to keep them from having to admit they've made a mistake.
There is no fence-sitting on an issue like this: vaccines are necessary for (and for the protection of) U.S. citizens.
- He's against government regulation of employment practices.
Employers, as entities, are sociopathic and expect their management to behave sociopathically, even if an individual manager isn't; the fallback is that the action is the manager's, but the blame goes to the faceless employer entity. The government is supposed to provide a basic level of care and safety to all citizens, and that includes protecting us from extremely predatory employment practices. This is why we have and need unions, despite their many vulnerabilities to possible abuse, and this is why big business doesn't want government regulation of business.
- He's against more gun control.
I feel that gun ownership should at least require a level of documentation and training similar to motor vehicle ownership. Both have their practical function, but both can easily take lives if misused.
- He's against federal health care.
He wants a sociopathic free market to provide what every American should have a right to: viable basic health, mental health, dental and vision care. And, let's be honest, those are separated for market reasons, to enable selective price-gouging... they're ALL "health care", and every American deserves reasonable health care.
- He wants to raise the retirement age to 75, and subject retirees to means testing.
This puts retirement age past the average life-expectancy of many people, and puts undue burden-of-proof on those that are already elderly.
- He wants to privatize Social Security.
This (and the above) is a dodge to avoid the government having to repay what they "borrowed" from this supposedly-untouchable "private for the citizens" retirement fund and minimize payouts by putting retirement out of reach of most people.
- No federal funding for mass transit.
Motor vehicles are a significant burden on the average family, thanks to predatory, opportunistic, largely-unregulated free-market practices that minimize reliable pay and free time, and maximize vehicle wear and employee fatigue and health concerns. National travel infrastructure (such as road and bridge repair) needs more support, and mass transit should be included in that. Many poor need mass transit; it should be more available and reliable.
- Weak on environmental issues, wants to leave most of it up to state and local levels.
The nation needs to take a stronger stance on environmental restrictions. Flint, MI and East Chicago, IN demonstrate why... again, big business is sociopathic, and there's profit in ruining the environment and then apologizing after the money is made; however, not ruining it in the first place costs money.
- Supports making schools compete.
We need schools across the nation to share the load of providing a solid, uniform core education to all American students, to strengthen our overall self-reliance as individuals and as Americans. School resources should be distributed more evenly across the country for the well-being of all our children.
- Supported building more privatized prisons as overcrowding relief
...instead of early release of nonviolent offenders or exploring rehabilitation options. He gave cost as an explanation for his reasoning.
- Business acumen is relevant to someone who started a one-man handyman business and grew it to over a thousand employees... back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.
He's out of touch with the post-9/11 modern, sociopathic predatory-capitalist market, but uses this to claim otherwise. He ignores massive corporate exploitation of government resources for private profit, and corporate exploitation of Americans as a workforce with efforts to avoid providing benefits by any means necessary. These practices exploit both the aforementioned government resources and the health, mental health, and well-being of Americans, all for the bottom line of a few private corporate predators.
- He's out of touch with foreign affairs.
He has demonstrated more than once, with his self-styled "Aleppo moments", that he is not very familiar with foreign affairs. While I don't think the U.S. needs to have it's fingers in every foreign action, and I feel that we're massively overdoing the "world policing" attitude, I do think that, even if we were to pull back from some events, our President should still know is going on.
I'm going to lay this on the table: The BIG reason he's popular with self-styled "radical" objection voters is that he supports recreational use of weed.
I don't smoke weed, personally, but I DON'T CARE if others do... however, the classic "bong culture" mentality is all-time peak of being out-of-control, and this is a prime illustration: "he likes weed, let's vote for him! Hurr hurr hurr."
The problem isn't weed, or people who smoke weed, or even that there's a marijuana culture out there... it's that the classic, counter-culture bong culture is outdated. We live in a time where you can speak out about legalizing weed and be heard; there's no more need for the avoidant, subversive culture that's grown up around it these last few decades, but it also shouldn't be the defining point of your life decisions, for you or for others.
(i.e. don't vote for a Presidential candidate just because his strong point is legalizing weed; however, the system shouldn't be arresting people, sending them to jail, or ruining their record just for minor possession charges of inoffensive, dubiously problematic substances.)
Before you jump down my throat on this, I KNOW people like this, for whom marijuana and drug politics is important... but not so important that it eclipses their other political choices and concerns. They are the confirmation I need to feel comfortable taking this position... I see them in action, these functional, intelligent, capable human beings, and know it's a reasonable expectation.

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fried Pies and Food Thoughts!

Well, a few weeks ago, I took a shot at making fried pies. I lived in Gainesville, TX for a while, and miss The Fried Pie Co., so I found a recipe and gave it a shot. The twist? I've been trying to work toward more vegetarian and vegan cooking practices.

It's not a total paradigm shift... I still eat meat occasionally. It's more that I've never been much of a cook, and know I need to change my diet a bit... the American diet is HEAVY on carbs. Bread, sugar, and pasta EVERYWHERE! I needed to move more toward protein, fruit, vegetables... not "no carbs", but "less carbs".

However, there's an additional caveat... my personal motto: "Keep It Simple, Stupid". I'm incredibly absent-minded, and easily distracted by funny words, shiny objects and squirrels. I need to adjust my diet in ways even a scatterbrain like myself can keep up with! So... simple steps. Example: my previous post! Simple, low-maintenance smoothie and coffee, great meal, super-easy to shop, make and clean up.

Anyways, with that in mind... FRIED CHERRY PIES! The original recipe is from, modified by my personal experience and some discussion from vegan cooks I know at my hackerspace,

Fried Cherry Pies


Ended up using a cast-iron skillet on the induction cooktop.

Cherry Filling - Combine in saucepan:
2 cups frozen cherries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch

Bring to a boil, let boil two minutes, then remove from heat and let cool. I actually let this cook a bit longer... I was working on an induction cooktop, which is still pretty new to me. The filling turned out just fine. I'm considering substituting mixed berries or apples on my next try!

The dough was a challenge: it was grainy. This is where the cold water would have helped!

Dough - Combine:
Dry Ingredients
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup plain almond milk
2 tsp vinegar

Add dry ingredients to wet.
Note: I had difficulty with the consistency of the dough. Talking with my baker friends, apparently adding ice water as needed is an option to help with consistency. Good to know!

Separate dough into about 10 equal pieces and roll into balls, then roll flat to about 1/8" thick. Spoon filling into the center with about an inch of room around the edge; fold crust over and press closed around the edge with a fork.

Not quite what I said, but this is what I did. Made the fold-over easier for me. Yeah, I know... finger on the lens!

Closed pie, pressed around the edge with a fork.

Here was my greatest challenge: FRYING THEM! Especially considering my lack of experience and not being familiar with an induction cooktop. I managed... but, next time, I think I might try deep-frying them instead. Till then... heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a fry pan and fry each pie for about two minutes, or until golden.

Frying pies! Not my best moment... more of a learning moment!

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp almond milk
1 tsp black walnut extract

Mix glaze til smooth, brush on pie while pie is still warm. Let cool.

I had a bit of trouble with the glaze, because I forgot to get powdered sugar and didn't find what was in the 'space til afterward... so I tried powdering regular sugar with a mortar and pestle. Because the 'space has a mortar and pestle. It... wasn't the greatest. But it was dessert! I don't think anyone who tried a pie really minded.

Fried pies, before glazing! I forgot to get a good shot post-glaze. Again, the crust was a bit... grainy.

All in all, my pies weren't evenly cooked, and a couple ended up a little well-done on one side... but I learned a LOT! It was quite an experiment. The whole experience took me about four hours and had one casualty (a crust I dropped), but everyone that tried the resulting pies seemed to enjoy them!

I think I'll be trying this again, and soon... but, lately, I've been distracted by blacksmithing!

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Return of the Tinkerer! Let's talk breakfast...

So it's been a while. There are reasons; some of my current readers know why. I'm not going to get into that, though.

I'm back, here at Land and River, Fire and Sky. There are a number of reasons; I have many things I want to address. This blog is part DIY blog, part personal journal, part sociopolitical philosophy blog... this blog is my blog. This is what's in my head. So I'm going to keep posting what is in my head.


As a start...! I'm still a member at Pumping Station: One. I'm still trying to do things. Much of what I wanted to do has been set back because of a lack of funding and interest; however, those projects are not gone, just on the back burner. However, I have recently realized that I have been learning more than I anticipated! I've been so focused on what I couldn't do that I missed those things I have been doing! Most of that is food and diet related, because I've been making huge adjustments to my diet both for my own health and for my budget; I'm not "following a diet", just learning and making changes according to what I want and need.

For instance: I'm almost entirely vegetarian, now. That's mostly for budgetary reasons... meat is expensive! However, it's also because a prominent option to replace meat is something I also enjoy greatly... rice and bean combinations. Rice and beans are cheap to buy in bulk, store well for long periods of time, are easy to prepare and store ahead of time and are delicious. No matter what you prefer, chances are there's a dish you can make using these that you'll love. If you can eat pizza or hamburgers for days at a time, you can do this. A few standard extras thrown in, like spinach, tomatoes (any number of ways... whole, crushed, stewed, diced, sauce, paste), and spices, and your options really open up!


But, for now, I'm going to talk about something else: breakfast. I bought a personal blender and I've been practically living out of it half my day for the last month. In this case, my needs are simple, so I stuck with the KISS Principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid... a life philosophy tailor-made for people like me who overthink things) and got a cheap one from Kmart (a Hamilton Beach 14oz blender) for $15.

Now, I've been trying to walk a line between convenience and budget. I am forgetful. Easily distracted by stray thoughts and squirrels. Absentminded, even. So convenience is important. However... convenience is also expensive. So I've been doing some nominal prep and shopping and then enjoying days and days of convenience. But if I say "personal blender", I notice many people assume something like "protein powder shake"... and that's not the direction I've been going.


The preparation is fairly simple, just shopping for a few key things and one important bit of pre-prep:

  • Ground coffee of choice (I'm no coffee snob, I use cheap off-brand dark roast)
  • Instant espresso (again, I use something cheap)
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Cinnamon
  • Almond milk
  • Bananas
  • Frozen fruit (Here, I go name-brand; flash-frozen fruit tends to keep more nutrients. I also find it's less likely to clump together in the bag. I've been using Welch's Antioxidant Blend (strawberries, cherries, blueberries and blackberries, a $10 bag lasts me about a week!)
  • Chia seeds
  • Fresh spinach and/or cooked beans
Getting the above will give you materials for one or more weeks of quick, no-brainer breakfast!

Now, don't be alarmed; that's not all for one Frankensteinian monstrosity. I'm sure that last bit made folks wonder... I'll get to that in a second. The chia seeds are new to me, so I'm still trying to get used to using them, but they're great for keeping you feeling full longer... I will say, though, that you don't need much, and they just kind of disappear into what you're using them on so it's no major intrusion. However, I will also say to use them sparingly in combination with other moisture-absorbing foods, because they absorb moisture like crazy. Speaking from personal experience, combining them and Grape Nuts cereal is a terrible idea... unless you like sitting in the restroom for a half-hour feeling like you're trying to give birth to a cinder block. 'Nuff said.


Yup, it's the smoothie part of the post. My breakfast every day has been a simple but good for you smoothie, walking that line between convenience and budget, with minimal processed food. You can toss it together in minutes but it's still pretty cheap, and then you can rinse out the blender cup and be ready for the next part almost immediately!

1 cup frozen fruit
1 sliced banana
1/2 cup fresh rinsed spinach or cooked beans, chilled
1 cup almond milk
1 tbsp chia seeds

Adjust amounts to taste. Blend. Drink. I find that putting in the fruit first tends to make the blending go easier... that way, it doesn't freeze together above the blade.

But wait... spinach? Beans? Huh?!? I tend to prepare about a week's worth of mixed beans for my needs in advance; at some point, I'm going to try to prep more, because they can be frozen. We'll see. But both spinach and beans are powerhouse foods with a lot of nutritive value, and, more importantly, combined with the aggressive fruit flavors I've been using (strawberries, blueberries, cherries, etc), these ingredients practically vanish into the smoothie. Almost no effect on flavor whatsoever.

I actually prefer the beans because they make for a smoother smoothie... go figure. Spinach takes less prep, though... grab a small handful, rinse under cold water, squeeze dry, toss in cup. Mind the use of fruit, though, because you don't want to overdo sugar consumption; it doesn't take a lot of either to really shift the flavor, so don't feel obliged. I generally tend to add more almond milk.


On to breakfast part 2: my morning coffee. This tops off my morning... I brew the coffee while making my smoothie, then rinse the blender cup, blend my coffee and just enjoy it through the next hour or so. My personal blender's cup has a travel-cup top design, so it's great for taking this on the go!

2 cups or so of brewed coffee (I brew mine with cinnamon, that's why the shopping list includes cinnamon)
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tbsp(?) chocolate syrup (meh... I just squirt some into the cup)
2 tsp instant espresso

So... the coffee and the almond milk are how you adjust the temperature of the drink. Want to chug it? More almond milk. Want a nice, hot coffee to nurse? More coffee. The espresso is a personal choice... it's how I turn my coffee into my "energy drink". Syrup to taste... the syrup is also how you're adding sugar, along with the almond milk, if you get sweetened almond milk. I don't, but I do get vanilla almond milk. THIS WILL FOAM; not heavily, but enough. If your blender doesn't close firmly, maybe hold a napkin or something on the lid to catch any overflow. Blend carefully, in small pulses, until you have a feel for how messy it might get. End result: hot, delicious, smooth coffee/cinnamon/chocolate morning drink. Garnish as you see fit... I just drink it out of the blender cup.

Whenever you're done, it takes maybe a minute or two to rinse the cup and lid and clean-up is done!

Why almond milk? Normal milk tends to cause a lot of digestive distress. The only actual benefit to drinking it is calcium... and much of the calcium is usually added afterward. Calcium can also be added to other things, so... calcium-fortified almond milk will net you the benefits and applications of milk in cases like this while saving you the embarrassment of indigestion and gas normal milk tends to cause. I also tend to go with almond milk over soy because I, personally, have experienced some minor discomfort from excess consumption of soy milk.

And that's what I've hacked together recently... low-prep, low-mess, healthy, filling breakfast for the chronically absent-minded!

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic

Monday, August 15, 2016

On Excellence, Proof, and the Long, Hard Road, Part 1

Stationnnn! "Excellent!"

Pumping Station: One is a powerful idea in self-education, a location full of tools owned by the membership and a robust membership full of people who know things and like to share what they know. It is a shockingly inexpensive concept that is driven by the idea that you bring the materials and the desire to create, to learn, and they probably have what you need to learn, someone to show you, and people who would like to help.

The opportunities for personal development are considerable at Pumping Station: One. They have an extensive wood shop, including a large CNC-controlled Shopbot (which is magical to behold), MIG and TIG welders, a forge, precision metal-cutting and metal-shaping tools including a Bridgeport mill (and a second, CNC-controlled Bridgeport on the way), a cutting and etching laser, precision small-scale metalworking tools, an extensive kitchen that includes brewing equipment, CNC-controlled 3D printers, a well-supplied electronics/robotics/computer lab, an extensive arts and crafts lab including a 1/2-horsepower industrial sewing machine, a meeting area/lounge with a great deal of entertainment equipment (musical instruments, projection television, video game systems, board games, a bar, etc.), and much, much more. This list suffers from my own lack of familiarity with much of what Pumping Station: One has to offer; I am authorized to fuse metal, but am yet to become authorized to use fire, for example.

In fact, the Station has recently expanded, taking over the remaining space in the building and giving them the opportunity to revisit some equipment interests that have come up, such as the possibility of adding a CNC-controlled plasmacutter and expanding the forge area to include metal-casting equipment! It's a sign of how well they're doing, that they can make and act on such plans, which just means they have even more they can offer members seeking to expand their skill sets! It is interesting to note that the concerns involved in this expansion mostly revolve around just how much more new equipment they can obtain for the space; they're like kids in a candy store, except the candy can remove your arm but the kids are very well aware of that, and exercise caution.


They have a proper safety-oriented authorization process in place, out of concern for both the safety of the members and the proper treatment of the equipment. Authorizations are a combination of set-up, use, maintenance, and shut-down procedures combined with entry-level training, that prepares the member to properly begin using the equipment for their own projects. As a general overview: anything more complex than a soldering iron probably requires documented authorization. For some equipment, this authorization can be performed by anyone that is already authorized and comfortable doing so, and so some authorizations can be obtained piecemeal as people are available. Other equipment, however, has more involved technical concerns in operation and involves more problematic maintenance efforts if something goes wrong, and so authorization can only be done by qualified members in specific classes. Once a member is authorized, their name is added to a list of authorized users and they can proceed with their own projects as the equipment is available.

It is worth noting that education does not have to end with the authorization process! Chances are, a member will want to do more and so have questions and concerns, but other members are usually available to contact... in person, or via the mailing list, or by other means... to provide further relevant training and information. Pumping Station: One is, after all, a not-for-profit educational facility, and plenty of its members are ready to help you learn more as you achieve new ideas and better realize just what it is you want to learn!

Maintenance and Experimentation

Most of the equipment is maintained and repaired in-house, meaning it falls to volunteers among the membership to maintain their own equipment; they ask members to use equipment safely and simply notify the mailing list if something breaks that the member cannot repair themselves. Each area has a budget, and accidents happen; Pumping Station: One doesn't worry about having to replace a saw blade, they just want members to be safe if something happens. Fortunately, with such a large membership, someone is usually available to do repairs, and this also opens up interesting additional opportunities for members that are willing to take ownership of their choices: some of the equipment at Pumping Station: One can be “hacked”, or modified experimentally with care. They have a labeling system for their equipment that lets people use a QR Reader to look the device on the Station's wiki for further details (such as authorized users, authorizers and procedures), and these same labels also include information on device ownership (some of it is on loan) and whether permission is granted to hack the device. However, some equipment at the station is so complex that the membership able to properly support it is limited (or non-existent, which means outside help must be hired), and, for obvious reasons, these devices are usually “do not hack”.


Because of the sheer volume of opportunity available at Pumping Station: One, it follows that groups would form around specific interests, which welcome new hobbyists and provide mutual support for each other. Visitors are also encouraged! There are a number of these, such as:

NERP (Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi): A group formed around designing embedded computer control (CNC) systems using open-source technology. They use low-cost computer components like Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone and Arduino to create a variety of projects, such as CNC control for 3D printers, little robots, household device controls and more.

CAJOO (Cable Access Jammers Open Office): A loose musical workshop, where practiced musicians help hobbyists and the casually-curious become comfortable with making music. Jam sessions will happen.

Bicycle Clinic: A bicycle building, repair and maintenance workshop that's open to the public.

SIGBOT: A group that focuses on robotics technology and building robots.

SMOO (Small Metals Open Office): A group for small-scale metalworking, such as jewelry smithing, glass fusions and fine etching work.

Fusion 360 Meetup: As an educational not-for-profit organization, Pumping Station: One makes Autodesk Fusion 360 easily available: in fact, Autodesk provides members a free three-year license! So this group focuses on helping members learn CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and troubleshoot CAD projects using Fusion 360!

Python Open Office (yes, yes... no): A group for practiced and aspiring programmers alike. Python is popular, but the group doesn't limit itself to any one language! (The Open Organization Of Lockpickers): A group to educate the public about the internal workings of locks and locking mechanisms, so people can make wiser choices when selecting security equipment. Yes, the name is also their website.

Beer Church: A brewing interest group! There is a brewing supply store about a block away, which provides a certain spontaneity for this group's operations.

Analog Game Night: A group that plays games... but without televisions or computers! They use radical new technologies like “dice”, “cards”, “game boards” and “game pieces” to bring the novelty of playing games fully into three dimensions by playing them in the real world! This group often plays newer, more unusual or less-known games, so you're less likely to play Monopoly and more likely to play Settlers of Catan, or Give Me The Brain!

Pumping Station: One also likes to celebrate. Pretty much anything. A number of members are also food enthusiasts, so events happen and, because events happen, food also tends to happen. Rather often.


Pumping Station: One does suffer its drawbacks: being entirely member-driven, there is little central structure that has to be recognized when it comes to following up on abuse, except for the board and its subcommittees, that are all empowered by the membership; members can come in and leave piles of dishes in the sink, snowdrifts of sawdust around the bandsaw, or piles of scrap wood in the loading dock, and there's really not much that can be done except for other members to volunteer to clean up their messes and ask them to not do it again. They're also dealing with an evolving sexual harassment policy driven by the desire of women to learn these same things... to weld, to work wood, to build robotics, to learn and develop skills... and the unfortunate presence of a few people who think those women belong to or must respond to them, even in this environment. With a membership as large as theirs, it is an unfortunate truth that these issues are going to arise more and more often as they continue to grow... but they are making a concerted effort to address such problems. It boils down to the membership empowering the board to make and enforce these decisions, and action by members to establish and enforce appropriate behavior.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Guitar from the top... again

The bad news: I basically have to start my guitar progress from the beginning. It's been over a month, and I had just started, so I remember G and that's it; I even have to rebuild my calluses. My fingers hurt!

The good news: I just incidentally checked out a beginner fingerpicking tutorial on Youtube and tried it. I practiced it a little, full of doubt because I can't type without looking at the keyboard (two typing classes and still... no. but I can type almost 50wpm!)...

... well, afterward, I was watching another video where a guitar teacher covered some other essential information you don't normally hear about much when you start, and I realized I was just inattentively picking the exercise on my guitar without looking!!!

Here's a crappy video of the exercise! It's lousy because I still get camera-shy about this stuff, and also because my laptop is not great... but it gives you an idea of what I've been doing this morning even when I'm not trying; I'll just watch an informational video and also be absent-mindedly be picking this exercise!

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Welding corner(s)!

So my sleep schedule is backwards again... but I got into the 'space at 6AM and did some metal cutting and welding! After discussing ideas with the inimitable (trust me, I've tried!) Jennie AKA "the Vulture" during previous experiments, I've settled on a coffee table using a lighter plain steel frame than the stuff I've been fiddling with.

The other day, I picked up two six-foot lengths of half-inch angle steel. I also picked up a couple of steel rods... I'm going to see if I can get someone to smith them into ornate table legs for me or authorize me on the forge so I can do it myself... but that's for later.

So, today, I cut the angle steel into rough 2' by 4' lengths. I'm doing what basically amounts to mitered butt joints at the corners, but (heh) I had to do a little grinding on each piece first to get the resulting cuts more uniform. Honestly, I'm new to all of this and I'm certain htere are ways I could have better managed a lot of this... but this is a learning experience, and it has already given me things to consider and questions to ask!

I also had a minor challenge fixing the pieces against each other evenly for the initial spot welds, which I resolved with wood blocks and clamps. The joints were not perfectly butted against each other, which made for some minor complications as I tried to fill some small spaces with a little of the leftover cut material for the welder to work with. It went okay... not great, but I got it to work. Afterward, I ground down the welds at the outer corners so they looked less messy.

Have some pics!

So... I made a rectangle!

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Solution! Two Parts "Oh Yeah!" To One Part "Derp!"

My machine crashed while I was recording, which was disheartening, but here I am with the promised entry!

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Start of a Blogging Project

I think tonight is going to be a project night for me; staying home and learning more about Autodesk Fusion 360 on my home machine because both Fusion 360 and my machine are much more robust. That's not razzing on my laptop or FreeCAD, I just feel like I need more than they currently offer.

I'm also going to post a series of videos and essays for the sake of organizing and sharing some of the thoughts and perspectives I've arrived at recentlly. I have a lot of ideas and concerns in my head, constantly shifting and interacting and creating new ideas and perspectives, and I'd like to share them to encourage others to think; it's not even about getting you to talk to me about them, just getting you thinking and talking about them.

Stay tuned for more, and be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Realizations I've had recently

I'm back! It's been about a month since my last post. The video above is actually fairly expressive and thorough concerning why, so I'm going to leave it as the explanation. Please do watch or listen to it; yes, it's a bit long, at 27 minutes, and I won't require it, but it's very informative... maybe listen to it while cleaning some dishes, walking the dog or mowing the lawn. (Do NOT get those mixed up, though... nothing good has ever come from mowing dishes or dogs, and lawns really don't like going for walks! I think it's the leash.) It reveals a lot about me that I've kept to myself, bottled up, for WAY TOO LONG, and provides language and insight for dealing with some health and mood issues that I hope others can learn from, both for themselves and to understand other people experiencing related problems.

The video does get pretty angry... I yell a bit about my old jobs and failed marriage... but eases off by the end and finds a little levity. I promise!

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Lessons from the Doctor

I've learned two major things from the newer Doctor Who series. Actually... that's not true; I've learned a great many things from the newer Doctor Who series. I occasionally introduce myself like the Doctor...

... make the requisite "are you my mummy" joke when the pun comes up...

... and even learned how to choose my own cool:

(I say "howdy" a lot, nowadays. "Howdy" is cool.)

But two things have stuck with me that I find almost constant use for as I deal with people,listen to the news, read the headlines. I actually use these tools purposefully as I listen to humans humaning and measure them by this bar as they speak and act:

The first, which comes up more often in personal interactions. This blog, and my new Facebook, is about "talk less; do more," so as people, myself included, start to talk a big game about some future course of action, I hear Madame Vastra giving Clara the "one word test." I also think about how Clara shows it can work both ways:

... but when it comes to campaign promises, speeches, public relations, media promises, the famous and the wealthy, entities like the Republican Party trying to show how Ted Cruz and Ben Carson prove the Party isn't racially-biased, when Donald Trump tweets himself eating a taco and brings up his employee makeup and wages in a sad attempt to prove the same, or Rush Limbaugh insists he's not sexist and respects women, whenever the Walton Family trots out the Walmart Foundation or McDonalds trots out the Ronald McDonald House and they brag about the people they've helped... whenever the Koch brothers humblebrag about their numerous charitable contributions and General Electric brings up the GE Foundation even as it hides $110 billion overseas to avoid taxes. Whether Bill Gates brings up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Angelina Jolie talks about the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, or Bono exhorts the ONE Campaign... whenever the extremely wealthy and well-off go on about those they've helped, I hear the Doctor and the Slitheen wearing Margaret Blaine as they have dinner, and his too-perfect reprimand for her self-aggrandizing:

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Care and Handling of Your New Jonny Friggin' Panic

Some facts about your host, Jonny friggin' Panic:

#1) I am extremely socially awkward and anxious. I have a long history of near-total social isolation since youth, and so have little practice dealing with people. I do have a catalog of stock commentary and responses I've built up over years of watching people interact, but I've had to discard a lot of it due to the material in question being disrespectful (sexist, racist, classist, etc) or requiring more familiarity than I have. Therefore, my library of stock interactions is limited, and, if we don't find common ground before I reach the end of it, I'll either fall silent or start to word salad.

#2) I am constantly anxious about my size. While I am not actually all that large (6'2", 235lbs, size 14 feet), I always feel rather gargantuan. On a related note, I also feel like I'm going to break everything, which makes me handle everything... including other people... very gingerly, with great hesitation. On the rare occasion that I do these things, I hug awkwardly and my back rubs have been described as awkward and uncomfortable. I'll hug if someone hugs me (although I actively try to not crush them), but I no longer try to do back or neck rubs if asked.

#3) I have a lot of hand anxiety. I have trouble having anything on my hands: gloves, rings, even lotion. I'm a compulsive hand-washer and, while I can function with something on my hands for a while, eventually I'll need to go wash them even if there's no actual reason to. On a related note, I also tend to use paper towels or napkins to handle public bathroom facilities and doorknobs, unless I make a concentrated effort, I tend to also wash or rinse my face when I wash my hands, and I dislike shaking hands... I much prefer a fist bump. Hugs and handshakes are usually reserved for those people I'm extremely comfortable around, or when I don't want to offend someone who offers one.

This stems from me learning, when I was a janitor for US Steel back in '94, that roughly 40% of Americans say they don't wash their hands after using the bathroom. Since then, the compulsion has just grown.

#4) I often forget a key word mid-sentence. Due to this, I've developed a tendency to do something I call "dartboarding," which is citing words that mean or imply something similar to the word I'm looking for from several angles. Very often (because this is the kind of company I generally keep), someone in the conversation will then be able to infer and supply the word I'm looking for, or I will rediscover it myself, and I can complete my sentence.

This happens because, in my head, that precise word is necessary to convey my point accurately, so it's difficult for me to simply approximate it and move on. I have learned to do so under some circumstances and with certain understanding company, but I still get hung up dartboarding rather often, and so can seem to communicate slowly because I'm attempting to communicate precisely. Precise communication is, to me, art, and I exult every time I succeed.

The real downside is that this means I can be steamrolled out of a conversation by people who are willing and/or able to communicate more quickly and with less hesitation, especially in a group setting. This is one reason why I socialize carefully, and generally with people who understand that, while I am not necessarily stupid, I can communicate slowly for the sake of precision.

#5) I spend a lot of my processing time trying to anticipate future conversations. This lends me a distracted air, sometimes, as I actively try to imagine and cope with possible upcoming conversations and select a library of possible responses for each point as it arises while still around other people. It can also result in me seeming to talk to myself when I think I'm alone as I try to enact similar scenarios and test verbal and behavioral responses I've seen normal people use, to see if I can make them appear natural. Yes, I practice pretending to appear like I know what I'm doing and saying. Is it successful? Occasionally, but almost never when I anticipate needing it.

#6) I'm a nailbiter. Not just nails, I nervously gnaw on my hands; any oddity tends to be game. This is an extension of the above hand anxiety and handwashing compulsion, because that basically includes callouses and prominent cuticles. I do know it's a bad habit, and it sets back my attempting to learn to play guitar, but nothing I've tried stops me or, really, even slows me down much. My oral hygiene is very good, but that's little excuse for the human mouth, so if you ever need a real reason to give me a fist bump instead of shaking my hand... there you are!

#7) I am in constant pain. If I am awake, I am in pain. There is no actual pain, though... the way the doctor described it is that my brain thinks it's getting pain signals the body isn't actually sending. This means normal painkillers don't help. It's generally a full-body pain that feels mostly musculoskeletal, and that I can best compare to burning or overheating, although I get occasional stabs in specific spots seemingly at random... sometimes every hour or two, sometimes several times in an hour.

However, I usually compare it to snow on an old television; annoying at first, but quickly pushed to the back of the mind. Most days, I come in around a 2 or so on a pain scale, which I can almost completely ignore except for the pokes. Occasionally, I'll hit a 3 day and it's irksome, but I'm still reasonably functional and friendly. Very rarely, I'll hit a 4 or 5 and I have to concentrate to do something as basic as walking, binocular vision or holding a cup. These are the days I'm likely to stagger or fall, drop a glass, miss a stair step or the like.

Oddly, actual physical fatigue takes the edge off this phenomenon. I really should go to the gym more.

#8) I don't sleep normally. I commonly get about 4-5 hours of sleep nowadays, and then just wake up. The pain regulates my sleep schedule; I can't sleep till I'm too worn out to stay awake, and I can't continue to sleep once I'm rested enough to come to the surface and feel the pain again. Occasionally, though... about two to four times a month... I'll crash and sleep for 12-15 hours, and then start the process over again. The pain usually tends to reset when I sleep.

I've been dealing with this since I was 12; I'm sure it sounds awful, but I'm actually rather used to it now. It does make a reliable schedule difficult to pin down, though, so I'm grateful for the lifestyle I have right now for its flexibility, even if the pay and benefits are abysmal. Indeed, the real drawback is more that I can't nap reliably... very often, I'll go to take a nap and end up sleeping normally, even through alarms and phone calls, but sometimes I get wiped out suddenly, nap wherever I am for a half hour or maybe a couple hours, and be back on my feet, revitalized.

#9) Related to the above, my zombie-mode skills are superhuman! I get greedy for sleep once I am asleep, so, if my body doesn't feel satiated, I'll end up sleeping through phone calls and klaxon alarms, and can even go so far as to have phone conversations or even stagger into the other room and solve a puzzle to shut off an alarm without ever actually waking up!

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A More Tangible Concern

TL;DW Notes:

(Before anyone expresses concern over targeted blogging: I have intended to post fire and brimstone about gossipmongery for a while now. This just gave me a focus to work with.)

Gossipmongers. This is an age where memes and cat pics are acceptable substitutes for considered arguments, and, as with any era of human history, gossipmongers will gladly take one sensational tidbit from a much greater message and use it to turn you from a fully-fleshed human being into a two-dimensional caricature of the Boogeyman.

The last video ("Broken") has been reverted to draft because concerns from others reminded me that, in ANY social group, gossipmongers exist. I loathe gossip, and Schadenfreude, and try to be as transparent as possible in every way so there should be no doubt. Even about terrible things, I try to be honest, and if anyone out there is scared of me, or worried about me, you should feel free to open a dialogue with me about your concerns and fears.

I guarantee I am like no human you've ever met. I do not mind discussing these things honestly, with consideration, and will not be offended. I'd rather you asked than guessed, or assumed.

But that video, while brutally honest, may have given the gossip mill grist to grind about me. Plenty of folks like to talk about others without actually talking to them, and that video may have given people something sensational to use to turn me from the person I am... sick, both physically and mentally, but fighting against a broken governmental and health care system to rise above via the goodwill of friends, family, even strangers... into a joke of a monster to thoughtlessly destroy for the sake of their own inward glee, even as they nod sagely among themselves and agree that "it was for the best."

Because gossipmongers, like drunks, like drug addicts or child molesters or woman stalkers, prefer to socialize only among themselves and others who reinforce their delusion that how they see things is the right way. Unlike the others, though, gossipmongery is so prevalent that their social bubble is harder to burst with reality. The best you can do is remind them that their two-dimensional paper targets are actually three-dimensional human beings, capable of feelings and deserving of basic human respect.

I'm not going to spend any more time dwelling on gossipmongers without further cause. If you enjoy gossip and Schadenfreude, well... in one of my favorite books (Neil Gaiman's "Sandman," specifically the story "Men of Good Fortune"), one character tells another "It is a poor thing, to enslave another. I would suggest you find yourself a different line of business." I feel similarly about gossipmongery and Schadenfreude. And before you damn me for comparing gossip to slavery... no, I do not consider it a lesser evil. Either way, you stand poised to destroy another human life for your own pleasure.

As for the rest: again, I am not like normal people; I am EASILY approachable, and try my best to be honest and transparent... even, quite possibly, to my own detriment. If I don't know you, your comfort and well-being will usually supersede my own, and that is my choice... but I would rather communicate honestly with you than have you wonder, assume and fear anything about me.

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Fame, Power Racing, welding wizardry. Exhausted... but happy!

I'm finally back in the city after an extended weekend at Bianca's. I have to admit, I'm bummed that I didn't get to hang out with The Boy, but seeing how much progress Baby She-Hulk has made is FANTASTIC. She's very bright. And funny. And busy. So her mother's genetics are dominant in her personality. Big bonus.

I'm wiped out, I've been awake for 26 hours now, but I went to PS1 immediately after getting back. I was immediately energized... it was Member Meeting / Open House night, and 300 Seconds of Fame. One member did a piece about his tour of a nearby waste processing plant, another talked about her discovery of jazz earlier in her life and how it influenced her tap dancing. Someone else talked about his first month at PS1, coming in knowing nothing and what he'd learned, and yet another member gave what he called a "mini TED Talk" about the power of caring about strangers.

Jennie and I finally buckled down... at about 4AM... and decided we must do some welding. After much hesitation during set-up and prep, we finally started putting together some scrap into a Brobdingnagian junk sculpture. I should have taken pictures of it... if it's still in the bucket when I go back, I will. We tried several joints and angles and actually learned rather a lot. It turns out welding can be done by normal people, and isn't some kind of metal-and-electricity wizardry reserved only for Pureblood shop technicians! We were both pretty excited for our progress. She has a remarkably steady hand for welding... I'm rather jealous. I've been making tiny circling motions as I go, because it lets me control and correct more easily with my tremor... I can correct orbits as I progress. She also did an amazing fill for a significant gap that I was unable to emulate.

Whoops... I need to sleep. Now. I fell asleep typing that. Be right back!

(I snap awake five hours later...)

So, earlier last night, after 300 Seconds of Fame, the Power Racing team had a meeting. The base frame had been finished while I was gone, and it is gorgeous! I don't want to do anything with it because it looks so nice! Adriana, Julie and Lauren made it a real work of art!

We talked about the race coming up (Kansas City, MO on the 25th and 26th!), travel and housing accommodations, and what we needed to do for the next steps of the frame build. We're using a headset from a bicycle for our steering assembly, although handlebars are awkward and we may need to rebuild them into something more compact. We propped up the frame with the rear axle loosely assembled to it, estimated where the seat will be and put the shell on, then had Adriana sit in it to help figure out just where the steering column will be. (Her feet are on the hood for mostly comic reasons!)

For now, the plan is that anything left with rust (i.e. that whole rear axle assembly) needs to be sandblasted, In the meantime, we're also fielding a modified Razor dune buggy, and another job is that the entire rear assembly needs to be taken apart. I'm all for that... I can take stuff apart!

By the way folks: Except for the shot of Adriana in the Bluesmobile (Carlos helped me with that coz my hands were just shaking too much right then), and the first two of the initial frame finish (obviously Lauren taking those), I took all these pictures myself! I had to take a lot of shots each time because most of them end up looking like maybe Bigfoot is building a racer (maybe it's a racer, maybe it's a guy in a gorilla suit!), and then I sort through them on my compy and find the best quality ones to post, but I feel pretty good about these!

TONIGHT! ChiVinMoto is having a garage night at PS1, starting at 6:30PM... grilling, smack talk and vintage motorcycles are the order of things. There's also CAJOO at 7PM if you'd like to dabble in music, whether you're a pro, a dabbler or completely clueless, you're welcome to pick up or bring an instrument and make noises for fun. You might learn something! Python Open Office Hours is also at 7PM if you're working on some manner of programming (it's not limited to Python!) and/or would like to pick people's brains about a programming roadblock you've hit. Lastly, there is a Tier 1 Hot and Cold Metals Intro and Authorization Jamboree starting at 7PM: this does require membership to get authorized, but if you're not familiar with cold metals shop (precision machine cutting of metals to make high-precision tools and parts) and/or hot metals shop (higher volume working of metals when precision isn't quite as important, using tools like the metals chopsaw, pedestal and angle grinders, MIG and TIG welders and an honest-to-Bob blacksmithing forge.), then this is a prime opportunity to hear more about them both and learn something about the tools used therein!

Anyways, I still smell like welding fumes, so I'm gonna take a shower and them I'm headed back to the 'space! Maybe I'll see you there... it's gonna be a busy night, but, as always, you're welcome to come, hang out, chat with folks, explore, and see what's happening!

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Music, masochism... here, have a cat!

So, it's been a few days since I posted something. That the last post is called "Workshop Blues" isn't really an indicator of a bad thing, I promise! I've been... busy? But not with anything to really shine about. Nothing bad, just general-purpose busy-ness.

The progress I posted toward cleaning up those pieces was about as far as I'd gotten. I had to take a break, because I wasn't prepared for the smell of burning metal setting into my sinuses or that hours of constant use of the angle grinder would afflict my hand with some manner of vibrating sensation. I did get and cut some more metal for the frame I'm working on, and have a better idea what to do with it: I have a way to hold the frame off the table just a little, so when I attach the legs there will be room to inset something. Then, I think, I'm gonna make some manner of staned-glass creation and drop it in there! I might set another panel of glass over that, though, to protect the "art" and provide a smooth surface to set things on.

I still need to find nuts and feet, though, to attach to the legs. Like I'm some kind of God designing an animal. Which means I should run to the hardware store, I guess. Maybe when the rain stops.

Tuesday was the weekly open house and member meeting. There was also a board meeting, which is open to members, so I sat in and learned a little about how PS1 is managed by this group of members who volunteer to take up the task and are voted in. It was VERY educational, really, but I learned one thing above all else: after hearing horror stories about former boards and board members, this group seems to really have their business together, and while I know burnout is a constant risk... I kind of hope we keep them as-is for a while.

There is the possibility of a small street fair on the horizon... perhaps in September. This was discussed after the meeting, and I'm excited about the idea. PS1 would like to connect with the community, so this could let us show off our Power Racing cars and various cool member projects in science-fair style, and have booths available for other people and businesses to participate. Keep an eye out for more details!

I ended up talking with Andrew, who has kind of taken the lead on our Power Racing project with the Bluesmobile, because I am huge and, once a steering column is dropped into the car, getting me in and out is even more problematic. I am not dropping out of the project, but I volunteered to drop out of driving so we could spend less time worrying about accommodating car design just for me and get the car together, running, troubleshot and roadworthy. However, Andrew has the classic engineer/fabricator mindset... he instead proposed that we keep working that way, but, if we can't arrive at an accommodating design in time to get the car going, then it was good to know that I was willing to sit this season out so they could put together a more conventional car. I dunno... I guess he really likes a challenge. Or is a masochist. Or something.

Yesterday was CAJOO, but Andy wasn't able to make it. That's rough... the event leans heavily on his combination of multifaceted musical talent, expansive ability and willingness to teach, great patience and general affability. We had quite a few folks, though, and just kind of hung out, tried a few songs and joked around for a couple hours. There were a couple talented individuals who definitely helped carry the evening. I feel like I need to learn more so I can better encourage people.

Weirdly enough, I'm getting to be something more than a complete newb with, of all things, the balalaika! Go figure.

The cat Ken brought in last week is in Jennie's care and doing very well! There's some toss-up as to his name... Lyn calls him "PS1," short for "Pretty Sturdy One." Jennie calls him Bloodfang, since he lost a tooth or two and her sense of humor leans that way. I just refer to him as Fangface, but that's one of my default pet name for cats in general. Jennie has had no success finding an owner missing him, so now the goal is to re-house him; Jennie can't keep pets and her roommate is allergic. The cat is awesome, though... pretty young (maybe a year or two old?), housetrained, careful with his claws, clean, no infestations. She had him tested and he's also disease-free (no chip, though). Someone here may want him, but if not... who wants a good cat who's had a rough time? He'll probably be better off as a strictly inside cat, given recent events.

Jennie is en route now for us to do some welding, and then I'm going home to prep for going to NWI tomorrow. If anyone wants a piece of my time in NWI, I'll be at Bianca's, and I'll be around til Tuesday morning. I may or may not post while I'm there.

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic

Monday, June 6, 2016

Workshop Blues

Over three hours of cutting and grinding steel, trying to recover parts from the old Bluesmobile out of pieces welded to them and rust. I don't feel like I got a lot done... and I didn't, this is still new to me, and I'm certain I approached some of it wrong... but it feels nice to have accomplished something. My left hand has a buzzing sensation now, though, from the almost-constant angle grinder use, so I think I'll leave it be and see if I can get some answers later, when folks come in.

I'm going to weld something today, at least that frame I cut steel for, even if I don't have legs for it at the moment. I should probably grab a mask, though, just on general principle... I still smell the shop in my sinuses. Probably not ideal, especially if I want to keep my voice.

Metlife says if I ask folks for a little financial help for safety equipment and materials for projects, it won't count as "earned wages" income and impact my monthly check. Which is hypothetically fantastic.

More later!

Steel and henna, giants and tiny cars!

This wasn't enough for me to make a video about, in light of my last post, but yesterday was busy! I re-authorized on MIG welding and the metals chopsaw, and got authorized for the pedestal grinder and angle grinder. I also attended a class on henna art Ashley was running... Ashley is another new member, and pretty handy generally, so this helps her get points she needs to make the membership affordable. So... I now have little henna bones on my left hand, that I did myself! See?

Those who know me, know I have issues with having stuff on my hands... gloves, grease, even lotion. I can manage a while, but, eventually, my hand-washing compulsion takes over and I start to get anxious. So, I didn't use a lot of henna and I didn't let it set too long, which is why it's not darker.

We discovered an issue with the Bluesmobile, that issue being I'M HUGE! The driver has to be able to enter and exit the car in five seconds, but when you put a steering column in, that becomes a BIG problem for me... I barely fit as it is. Various entertaining ideas are being considered, though. PRS doesn't take itself TOO seriously, so we have options. Amusing options.

I'm headed back in now to do more metalwork! I'll be there all day, pretty much, since it seems my sleep schedule is back to normal... feel free to come by and hang out, keep me company, let me give you a tour, meet people!

I still need a hand with stuff, though... I need supplies like protective gear and materials for projects. Also, honestly, if someone wanted to lend a hand with my membership, it'd be a huge, awesome deal. Now that I have my hand in on many of PS1's resources (read: tools and reasons to use the scrap that comes through there), I'm ALL ABOUT doing stuff!

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin Panic

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Metal cutting, mad science, board games and chaos!

TL;DW Notes

So I've been up all night cutting and grinding metal in preparation for my first welding project while rocking out to a new YouTube playlist so I can have some practice in before tomorrow's Welding Authorization and Frame Build project for our Power Racing car, the Bluesmobile. We really need to rock out the frame build now, so I want to be able to contribute as best I can. I'm going to make some basic square stands, and maybe even design then to take glass insert tops, just for the challenge, and the big one might even end up being a monitor stand for my home PC. Not that I'm home much anymore. BUT I'm going to wait for Jennie so we can both get in some practice and feel more useful for the frame build auth.

In the meantime, Jennie and I are also planning to learn some basic electronics... we both know bits and pieces, a lot of intuitive stuff, but want more structured education, so she got an 8-in-1 Electronics for Dummies book. We were debating where to start, but then decided we're going to start with the beginner projects, because making a lamp circuit and testing it with a multimeter may sound BORING, but it'll also only take five minutes, so we can just knock out project after project until we wind up where we want to be working (alliteration points!). The book lists the stuff one should have for a "beginner mad scientist's kit," such as a multimeter, breadboard, various resistors, diodes and so forth, so I'm going to see just how much of that we have in the electronics department here and get that kit together so she and I can just dig right in.

Thursday night got derailed for some of us because Ken, on his way in from the Wheaton area, came across a cat that had been hit by a car and was sitting in the road. We're not really supposed to have animals here, generally, but it was unusual circumstances... we checked for anyone in the area that could help without costing an insane amount (no, there was nobody at that time of night), and we gave him a once-over. He was actually not too bad off, fortunately... it seems he lost a tooth or two, and has an abraded front leg, but, after a clean-up and some rest, was moving about and jumping into a chair fairly normally and vocal without seeming panicked. He seems like he's owned... clean, no infestations, very civil even though he still has claws, knows what a litterbox is for... so Jennie currently has him housed and is trying to put word out in the Wheaton area in case someone is missing a rather nice cat. I also managed to miss a step on the stairs and ring the side of my head on a wall, which still smarts a little,mostly when I chew, but no major damage.

I had an awesome time helping unload truck at Oakdale Pantry on Thursday, so that's a thing that happened, too. The people there are very cool and a lot of fun to chat with. I never feel pressured or stressed there. I'd strongly suggest it... you do good, you get a workout and you meet great folks.

TODAY, there's a 3D printer party at 1PM... bring your 3D printer, whatever your level of interest, show off, get help for it if it's not working, print things in 3D! At 3PM is Small Metals Open Office and Jewelry (SMOOJ), feel free to come in and discuss/work on jewelry and fine metalwork. At 5PM is ANALOG GAME NIGHT!!! Come, hang out, play board and card games, whatever! As always, folks are welcome to come hang out, no membership needed, you don't need to be authorized to play, say, Settlers of Catan, since you can't lose life or limb doing so (unless you play it right, apparently). I'll be here til late, myself!

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I learned to weld! End of an era. Could still use a hand!

TL;DW Notes:

I learned to weld! Lauren ran a TIG and MIG welding authorization; I psyched myself out of it, but then went back later and she was happy to see me come back and do, so I did! I missed the TIG authorization, but learned the basics of MIG welding! Most important, I learned setup, shutdown and safety procedures, and now it's up to me to go in and practice as I see fit. Lauren gave me a piece of mild steel and told to "make something"... so I'm gonna make something.

I've finally deactivated my old FB account entirely... I no longer get emails, messenger messages, nothing. For all practical purposes, it is GONE. If you want to get back in touch with me, though, here's my blog, my new FB is linked in the upper right, and, chances are, I'm appearing in your "people you may know" field. If we're not friends on my new FB yet, shoot me a friend request! All past aside, you are welcome. I'm trying to fly or fall, and have no real interest in human conflict... there might be a handful of humans that will have to watch second-hand, but the rest are welcome without hassle!

I might start an Indiegogo account or something to fund my projects. I have nothing major lined up, but PS1 is a non-profit educational organization, and I'd like to be able to learn without sweating the cost of every fifty-cent part I break. This is what's holding me back right now; PS1 encourages members to not fear screwing up, because you often learn from it. However, as poor as I am, I'm afraid to try leatherworking, or welding, or experimenting with Raspberry Pi computing, because if I mess up something beyond repair, I may not be able to buy a replacement part. My resources are extremely limited.

If anyone is familiar with such things and has any insight, it'd be welcome.

So, yesterday morning, I couldn't focus on my usual stuff and decided to sweep the wood shop. It was a mess; someone has been working on projects and not cleaning up. I think this might need to be addressed as we expand, because PS1 membership is bigger than ever, and soon we'll add another 4,000 square feet to our space; tidiness will need to be addressed. A lot of people don't seem to bother to move stuff, either, so even if an area looks swept, you can move, say, the band saw, or look under the table saw, or behind the stored ladders and still find a mess. I spent about three hours rocking out to Presidents of the USA and similar and got a TON of cleaning done.

In the meantime, while I still wait for a spark, I'm helping folks with stuff... I just took on a little basic assembly for the tool cage to help organize it. Also, Jennie and I have agreed to mutually learn basic electronics... she's a project junkie and, of course, has a massive 8-in-1 Electronics for Dummies book. Ultimately, neither of us want to do the basic projects needed for such learning, but we're gonna do them together, stuff from the book and stuff from Instructibles and the like, so we both learn what's necessary. With care, of course... electricity is Man's mortal enemy, which is why we imprison it in wires. (With thanks to Scary Go Round!)

Be excellent to each other!
Jonny friggin' Panic