Hi Blog!

To be honest, I sort of forgot this existed.  Gimme a break, I have other stuff going on.  I mean, I’m not necessarily doing that other stuff….but it’s still going on.

Anyway, HANDRO is off at the editors being all chopped up and what not.  It’s a good thing, trust me.  It will be out in the future.

I promise to post on here when it is coming out.  I have some really cool giveaways in store for release day.  I will post all that in order to keep you all informed.

That’s all for now.  Mostly, I just wanted the landing page to not be the Fred Phelps post anymore!  Enjoy yourselves, people.


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Why Fred Phelps Actually Helped Humanity

First off, I’m not defending the man at all.  He was a monster.

That’s kind of the point though…He really was a monster.

If you are reading this, I will assume you know why he was a monster and we can skip that part.

I have taken a little bit of flack for the optimism present in my books.  People have said I must go through life with rose-colored glasses and things of that nature. For the record, my sunglasses are Stihl Blackwidows, they keep the sawdust out of my eyes and can handle some serious damage.
My logic has always been that when the chips are down, most people will stand up for one another, even if they are strangers.  Even if they live different lifestyles.  Most people are good. Plain and simple. Yes, some jackwagons exist, but the majority of humans are good people, maybe a little misguided in some ventures (why do we keep cultivating caraway seeds?!?!) but generally good.

This is what Fred Phelps proved.  When his little “church” thing would protest a funeral or a pride parade, every different shade of American would show up to form a human shield.  We’ve all seen the pictures.  Big bikers with long awesome beards standing shoulder to shoulder with gay men and women, sometimes holding signs of their own, but generally just forming a wall to shield the grieving from the assault that was Fred Phelps disciples.

Those images, the ones of the people lined up, the ones of the funny signs other folks made to mock the ridiculousness of the claims of the Westboro loonies, they are seared into my brain.   They show the heart of humanity, albeit with just a touch of scum that was scraped off our boots.

By wearing his intolerance on his sleeve, this man created far more national conversations than most organizations dream of, only it wasn’t the direction he was hoping for.  I can imagine people all over the country, maybe being “on the fence” about their own homosexual beliefs, agreeing that the shit Phelps was pulling was simply wrong.  It was “Extreme bigotry” and no one wanted to be compared to that.  Maybe some folks saw that hatred and took a look inside themselves at their own objections to same sex relationships.  That’s it, that’s the start.  I suspect that what that man did was pull a great many people off the fence and onto the side of defending gay rights–probably because of the monster making insane signs and shutting down small town funerals.

This is what Fred gave us.  Yes, he caused hurt and suffering to many grieving families and that is atrocious, but he also lifted us up, he gave us an obvious villian to focus on.  It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the military, all you needed was the ability to read.

Often times things like bigotry and racism are hidden or quietly shied away from in conversation.  Phelps made so many people angry, so many people fed up, he made us yell as a group.  He made us stand up for our brothers and sisters no matter what, because people don’t deserve to be treated like that.  Now we just need to start standing up for some of the less obvious forms of bigotry, but at least we’re on the right track.  We have a monster to thank for uniting us, but instead of actually thanking him I’ll donate some money to the No H8te campaign or the It Gets Better Project.  If you have a little bit of extra cash, maybe you could do the same.  The monster may be dead, but that doesn’t mean the fight is over.


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Cherry Slab Table

I was at a friend’s house picking up some lumber a few weeks ago.  I grabbed some rough walnut, pear, cherry, and oak.  As I’m leaving, he points to a big pile of rough cut slabs of cherry and asks if I want one of those.

Naturally, my curiosity is piqued.  I’ve never worked with big slabs of 4″ thick wood before.  The ideas start flooding my head and I go ahead and grab one of the smallest ones.  Questions are raised if all that wood can actually fit in the Jeep (the slab is pretty damn heavy), but I don’t listen to that malarkey.  I just want to take my new slab home and hug it.

We had big fun that night

We had big fun that night

Then reality set in.  What was I really going to do with that thing?  I had never worked with slab wood, I didn’t want to mess it up.  I had only gotten one…what was I thinking?  I should have grabbed three! Much less pressure if I had three.

After a couple weeks, I decided to do something with this gorgeous piece of wood.  After all, even if I messed it up (kind of a certainty), I could go get another one.  The dude had about 30 of them.

What do you want to be, darling?

What do you want to be, darling?

I started by chopping off about two feet.  This way I could get two tables out of it, one big one and one smaller, side table sized one.  Then, because this chunk of wood is wider than any planer I have access to, I spent an afternoon manually sanding the rough cut wood.  It sucked.

I really hate sanding.

I really hate sanding.

I put a light chamfer on the edges with my block plane and started thinking about the legs.  I knew I was going to use the 3″ square cherry timbers I had, I just wasn’t sure how I wanted to join them.
Here’s the sneaky thing about working with slabs of wood.  They move.  A lot. Normal changes in humidity throughout the year will cause the slab to flex and shrink.  If you have a standard apron built onto the bottom of the table to house the legs, the top can’t move and it will twist instead, wreaking all kinds of havoc.  I’ve never seen this happen, but it makes good sense to me.  This is the reason so many tables and things are made of smaller pieces of wood glued together.  Those tops are just much more stable in the long run.
Sooo…….The wood will try to break itself if I don’t allow it to move around a little.  This means I needed free legs, by that I mean legs that attach directly to the slab rather than each other.  This should allow the wood the freedom to swell and shrink without distorting the top.
Seems easy enough, then.  I’ll just cut some mortises into the top with my forstner bits and chisel them out.
I learned a few things really quick at this point.  First, my nice set of chisels aren’t really made for clearing 4″ of wood.  Second, when you force them to do it (because that’s how I roll), it will peel the wood off the bottom of the mortis.  Ugly, but it’s the bottom, I don’t care.
So, I drill a bunch of holes into the area to chisel out, hoping that makes it easier.

Well, that didn't work.  Shocker!

Well, that didn’t work. Shocker!

And here we are.  I’ve ruined the damn top.  Just what I feared. This thing is now ugly as hell,  No way will the tenons fit snugly.  It will be the ugliest through tenon ever.

Yeah..so….Fuck. Self-fulfilling prophecy?  I don’t care.  I grab a beer.  I say Fuck again.  I walk back to the woodshop to sit on my stool and wallow in my failure.

While sitting there, sipping a Hopslam and laughing at myself, I see the small purpleheart board given to me by a professor who is studying rates of decay among various woods, native and exotic.  This was the one piece she had leftover and she gifted it to me over four years ago.
I took another drink of the Hopslam.  Could I use that wood in this project? Did the tenons have to be through tenons?  Could I just inlay that pretty wood and cover up my shame? 60% of the time my beer addled ideas work every time!
I grabbed my router and tried to figure out how to actually inlay wood. I use some 1/4″ plywood to make a guide for my router and then a straight bit to clear out the wood and make the hollow area (this probably has an official name) in which I lay the purpleheart.  I snuck up on the thickness of the inlay and actually got it to fit in there pretty nice.  Damn, that was easy!
The biggest problem was that I barely had enough wood to cover the existing mortises.  (Yeah, I went ahead and mangled all four of them.  Why stop at one?)  Then I glued and pegged the purpleheart into the cherry and weighted it down overnight to dry.  Because of the natural edge of the cherry it was impossible to clamp it down due to the curvature of the outer edge.  My clamps sat there….sad and unused.

The wax paper keeps the glue from attaching to anything else.

The wax paper keeps the glue from attaching to anything else.

Then all I had to do was attach the legs, glue those into place and run a peg down into them to help strengthen the joint between the leg, table, and inlay.  I left the legs pretty simple.  I entertained the idea of putting neat angles on them with my band saw or turning neat patterns on them with the lathe, but I really wanted this table to be more simple.

Oh, and sand more.  A lot more.

The grain really turned out nice.  Sanding has a purpose...I guess.

The grain really turned out nice. Sanding has a purpose…I guess.

After all that, I put on three coatings of semi-gloss polyurethane, sanding with 220 between each coat.  And she’s done.  It’s not a perfect table, far from it.  It’s functional, unique, and pretty, though.  Plus, the purpleheart and the pegs almost look like straps running over the table top, which I like.
One of the best things about woodworking is that nothing is set in stone.  If you have the right tools, you can adapt when you make a mistake (or four mistakes).

Finished product

Finished product

Different angle

Different angle

This was a fun project.  All in all, it took maybe 7 hours or so, but thanks to the whole “glue needs to dry” business, it needed to be spread out over several days.  They say you can work with the glued objects after an hour, but I tend to be rough on things and I have pulled them apart when I try that.  Plus, I’m not in any kind of rush, ever.

If you stumble across a slab, don’t let it get past you.  Grab it, crack open a good beer, scratch your head a bit, and figure out something to do with it.
Have fun!

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Treat Yo’self!

Even though the Cardinals are still singing, the cold persists.  Maybe the sweet songs haven’t done enough to boost your mood and you’re still in a funk.  It’s time for you to pull out the nuclear option against the winter blahs.

New Socks!



Honestly, I’m not sure if this is the same for girls as it is for boys, my wife seems to lack a drawer full of socks with holes in them…must be some kind of sorcery.
Every guy has a bunch of socks and many of them probably have holes in them.  I’m not talking about the nice dress socks with green dinosaurs on them, I mean the regular old everyday white sock.

These white socks tend to get holes pretty quick.  That might be because I generally have sawdust and dirt down in my boots, but I choose to believe it’s because my feet are like steel and destroy their puny white cocoon!
These aren’t necessarily huge holes, they just wear thin.  For most dudes I know, a small hole in your foot sweaters does not generally mean it needs to be thrown away or turned into a rag, it’s still a perfectly functional sock…now with increased ventilation.

Some sort of critical mass exists for getting new socks.  Almost all of them, or certainly more than half, need to have holes before I throw them away and order new ones (yeah, mine have to be ordered, shut up!). If only two or three socks have holes in them, you don’t order new socks.  And you certainly don’t throw those socks away yet.  pitching them prematurely would lead all the other socks to wonder where their friends went.  It’s best to keep socks together as a group for as long as possible, much like a herd of bison.

Yup, just like socks.

Yup, just like socks.

The whole point of this short rant is that a great winter time morale boost is getting new socks.  I don’t know what it is, but new socks have a kind of magical quality to them.  You wake up in the morning, kinda groggy, kinda creaky, those bare feet hit the wood floor, a groan slips out from your throat…but then….then something special happens.  You realize that you have a brand new pair of toe holsters to put on.  These aren’t just some recently washed socks, fresh from the dryer, although those are nice too, no, these are socks that have never before known a foot.  These are socks that have not had pressure applied to the cushy parts of the heel and the toe.  They don’t have a clue what your washing machine is like or how worn out the boots are that they are about to go in.  It’s a brave new world for these cottony white fellas, freshly released from their thin plastic prison and freed from the bondage that is that weird plastic harpoon thing holding them together.

Main point…if you start your day with a brand new pair of socks, every step is nicer than it would be otherwise.  And really, when you think about it, every day starts at your feet.

Maybe I’m just a simple man, but if I was a multi-millionaire, the only thing I know I would do that would be “eccentric” would be to wear new socks every single day (with the exception of cool dinosaur socks that could be repeated several times…they’re hard to find!).  Yes, it would be wasteful, but I would donate the socks after the single day of use, and after they had been washed, of course.

If, like me, you’re still fighting the doldrums, try the new sock method.  It might cost you 20 bucks, maybe even 30, but it’s totally worth it.  You could finish out the rest of the month with brand new sock days every single day.  Once it’s time to re-wear the first new pair, it’ll already be March!  And March is pretty damn fine month most of the time.


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Winter’s Broken Back

So, as has been said many times by folks with much more delicate prose than myself, this winter blows.
Don’t leave!  This is not a post bitching about winter.  Well, hang on…..&*(^$&(*)#*)!!!  and then )*&*& to your $*)&^%*^ all over your ear!
Ahhhh….ok, NOW it’s not a post bitching about winter.
I actually enjoy winter and this one has had lots of snow, which is pretty cool.  Also, I got to lay in a hammock when it was 10 below zero and read a book (until the cold made my Kindle sleepy).

No, this post is about the song that breaks winter’s back.  It happens every year, right around this time.  February is a rough one for me.  It’s the last “gray month” here in Missouri and right around this time I start craving green foliage pretty bad.  While I don’t get to see any, a friend of mine reminds me that it’s coming with a simple whistle.

Don't worry, i'll whistle away the cold.

Don’t worry, i’ll whistle away the cold.

Yes, the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis).  Every year right around this time, he gets fed up with the cold gray woods too.  Instead of sulking.  Instead of eating a mound of garlic mashed potatoes and unbuttoning his pants.  Instead of drinking enough to make his skin physically warm.  Instead of all those things, he chooses to sing.  And make no mistake, the female sings also and she has just as spectacular a voice as the boys.

Yeah, I sing too, and it's nice....real nice.

Yeah, I sing too, and it’s nice….real nice.

I don’t know what actually makes winter go away,  (okay, yes I do, but let’s allow our brains to have fun here) but I think the Cardinal’s songs scare it away.  Cardinals are actually very mean, oversized finches and their lilting song is probably the bird version of LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out”.

We shall stomp away the snow!

We shall stomp away the snow!  Hup, Hup, Ahup, yes keep it up, we’re winning!

It all starts on a warm and sunny day near the end of January or early February.  The cardinals will alight on a tree branch and start calling out to each other.  Frankly, people around here do just about the same thing on those unseasonably warm days. People get back outside, turn on their leaf blowers (why!?!?  stop it!!!) or do other outdoor chores.
What makes the plump little redbird special is that unlike people, he doesn’t stop when winter comes barreling back in.  After that first warm snap, the songs have begun and will not cease.

Go home Tananger, we're talking about Cardinals! Besides, you're in S. America right now, pansy.

Go home, Tananger, we’re talking about Cardinals! Besides, you’re in S. America right now, pansy.

Several days ago it was 15 degrees outside and I was pulling the ice out of the chickens “heated” waterer.  I’ll admit, I was grumbling.  My fingers were cold, my joints were aching, and my cheeks had that strange frozen feeling going on.  Then, up in the trees, I heard a Cardinal call out.  It changed my whole day.  He or she reminded me that winter’s back was now broken, even if it doesn’t always seem like it.  Things have started that will not end until the forest is fully green and filled with action.  If that little guy can sing out, so can I.

In a way, the Cardinals are kind of like the Who’s down in Whoville.  Spring lives inside them.  The current conditions will not stop them from singing.  They know the growing season is coming, even if somedays it seems too far away to imagine.  I think we all should take a lesson from the Cardinal.  Not the lesson that we should attack side mirrors on vehicles, I’m talking about the singing.  You know what? What the hell….If that mirror has been pissing you off, go ahead and beat it up.  I don’t care.

Activate escape mode!

Activate escape mode!

As we here in the midwest stare down the barrel of yet another storm system, try to remember the fat little bird out there, singing and singing and singing.  They’re chasing winter away.  For that, we owe them some gratitude (and maybe some extra sunflower seeds).

Hey!  I said NO PICTURES!!!

Hey! I said NO PICTURES, Bub!!!


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In Defense of Monster Porn

A few months ago a peculiar thing started popping up on my radar.  Erotica has become increasingly popular, particularly the subgenre stuff that caters to, let’s say fringe interests.  I saw a few news stories about “Dinosaur Erotica”, one in particular dealt with a Pterodactyl.  My first thought was….dinosaurs almost certainly had a cloaca, not mammalian genitalia…
But then I heard about one involving a merman and I threw my logic out the window.  The merman thing was ridiculed, much as all the other books were ridiculed, but how many stories are written about beautiful mermaids desperately wanting to turn human so they can stroll into the sunset with their human beloved?  I can think of several, not to mention one major motion picture that was a favorite of my youth.  (No, not the cartoon one, I’m older than that, but Ariel and whatshisname are another example)

Then, along came this nice lady making a boat-load of cash off bigfoot porn…sorry, “erotica”.  I have seen entire missives about how this is the downfall of literature.  One person in particular said that all self-published work was basically bigfoot porn.  What?  While it may be true that my books have some strange scenes in them, never once did one of my characters give bigfoot a handy-j out in the woods somewhere.

Hmmm…..I seem to have gotten off topic….



Now, I want to be clear.  The plot of a book being, essentially, mythical (or extinct) creature beastiality is pretty odd.  It’s worth talking about on social media or over beers at the bar, or whatever, because, frankly, it’s funny to think about.  Great conversation starter too.  “What’s wrong with the lady Pterodactyls?  How do they feel that the male pterodactyls are essentially mating with their food?”  Come on, try to convince me chatting about that in a public, booze-addled environment wouldn’t be a great way to spend some time!
My problem is with the people who are bashing it.  
 I only have a single question:

How strange is it really?

Think about it….I read mostly science fiction, anybody want to critique those storylines for “believe-ability”?
Young boy playing video game, destroys entire alien race.
Amish space explorers colonizing and farming other worlds.
Creating a human body out of other pieces then bringing it to life with lightening.
People wake up inside a cube trying to kill them.
Super heroes fighting zombies.

All of those storylines are weird, but good and very unique.  I would go so far as to say that strange scenarios are kind of the hallmark of fiction, at least science fiction.

Real turtle porn is the next big thing

Real turtle porn is the next big thing

So, let’s stop insulting the basic premise.  I mean sure, it’s weird as hell that a T-Rex is going to magically turn into a man and then make some lady’s teeth sweat, but that’s just fiction for you.
What I really see going on here is a niche being filled (read into that what you will, giggity).  It has been a long standing fact that women prefer written sexy stuff to pictures or videos of sexy stuff.  Personally, I think that’s because most mainstream porn generally depicts women “enjoying” things that 99% of women would hate, but hey, what do I know?

Basically, these stories are campy and fun, many include a good dose of humor, AND, here’s the important part, if a lady is caught reading one she can laugh it off and say “Oh these stories are so silly…”

"I want to be clear, I'm not looking for a girlfriend..."

“I want to be clear, I’m not looking for a girlfriend…”

50 Shades of Grey has taught us that many folks really do want to read erotica and will happily choose to do so if they feel that they can read it without shame, even better if they can talk about it with their friends.  Sex is seriously messed up in this country (as well as others I assume, but I live in the US, so that’s my data set).  Men watch porn, this is known.  It’s one of those “boys will be boys” things.  But society has tried to beat into women that they shouldn’t really be sexual, or at least that they shouldn’t like pornography.  It’s dirty.  It’s wrong.  Blah blah blah.  Obviously, this is not true of everyone, but I do think it is true of a large number of people, especially in the 40-100 year old age group.

These books are actually good for society!  That sounds crazy, right?  Follow me here….They allow people to indulge themselves in a perfectly safe, perfectly harmless world.  Instead of being repressed, many are creaking open the door a little bit and admitting that maybe they do like erotica or porn or whatever you want to call it.  This is a good thing.  Repressed desires do not a healthy society make.  I’m not implying that EVERYONE should be reading monster porn, or any porn at all, it’s not for everybody.  I’ll stick to science-fiction adventure books myself.  The point is, I think many more people do want to read erotica, but they fear all the various stigmas attached.

Sure, maybe all these books aren’t perfectly written, but some of them have a “B” movie kind of appeal.  No one is claiming that Sharknado had good acting, good writing, good effects, a budget, anyone even remotely sober on set, you get my point.  Still, Sharknado was a smashing success, at least as much as can be expected from a ridiculous B movie.
I have heard other possible reasons for the rise of erotica.  The one that holds the most credence with me is the E-reader.  No longer can everyone around you see the book you are reading.  I can imagine that would go a long way towards people being open to reading new stuff.

The fact that “Moan For Bigfoot” could earn the author 30 grand in a month is a big wake up call.  People want to read sexy stuff.  If you think the writing in those books is terrible, maybe try writing some yourself.  It might be fun and, you know, the whole 30 thousand dollars thing…  Sure, maybe bigfoot sex isn’t exactly sexy to some people, but as a man with size 16 feet, I would politely request that you keep an open mind.


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A Bench

This is just a photo post about building a bench.  It is lacking in serious details because I am not generally big into details, but it has lots of pretty pictures!
If you have specific questions, like you want to build your own, either comment below or shoot me an email.
Total actual work time on this bench, for me, was about 15 hours spread across 4 days of work because…well….glue needs to dry.
You could do this quicker if you used boards that were straight or knew what you were doing…but I don’t see the fun in that.

Cutting some a mortis in one of the leg panels.

Cutting a mortis in one of the leg panels.

The legs were actually three pieces of wood around 4.5″ wide glued together.  This allowed the two mortises to be spread across the three boards, which was supposed to an easier method.  I think it may have been easiest to just use my plunge router and the appropriate bit, but I really love the dado blades on the table saw, so I don’t care.

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Quilts! Because Blankets Suck!

When Travis asked me to do a guest post about quilting I was a little skeptical.  Most of his posts are somewhat instructional, and although I’ve been sewing for a long time, I’ve never really focused on learning “actual sewing principles.”  I still consider myself an amateur.  This is especially true when it comes to quilting, which I’m just beginning to learn.  So keep that in mind if you came here expecting to learn fancy techniques.  I have no fancy techniques.

My mom taught me how to sew and how to use her sewing machine when I was just a wee lass.  I used it to repair clothes and make basic things like tote bags and hippie skirts and such.  I was in college when my grandparents decided to downsize, and I inherited my grandmother’s old Penncrest.  I used this machine exclusively for probably the next ten years.  It was, and still is, a table-shaking, fabric chewing beast that weighs as much as a large dog.  Or, in our house, an adequately sized dog.

RAWR feed me fabric!

RAWR feed me fabric!

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Spinning…Always Spinning

I like to turn wood.  It’s just fun.  The log is spinning at speeds you can’t imagine, wood chips are flying off everywhere, VERY bad things can happen at any second if you’re not paying attention.  Really, this is right in my wheelhouse.
To turn wood you really only need two things, a lathe and a chisel. Some safety gear is probably a pretty good idea if you care about your vision or your hearing, but hey, I’m not here to judge you.

At the end i will show you this bowl finished.

Keep scrolling to see this bowl in a finished state

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December 26th

Singular Points will be available for digital purchase on December 26th!  The dead tree version will come along a few days later.

ooooh la la

ooooh la la

This was a weird book to write.  I explain some of this in the acknowledgements section, but you’re not supposed to read that until you’ve read the book, so I’ll expand on it here.

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