Hits and Misses

Hits and Misses

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Wizards Metal Renew Polish

Wizards Metal Renew Polish  is new to me, but I must confess to all the enthusiasm of a convert.  Browsing the web, I came across Mark Harrell's video, "Maintaining your Saws" on his site Bad Axe Tool Works.  Given the outstanding reputation of these saws, I figured that if Mark Harrell recommended Wizards Metal Renew Polish for cleaning saw blades I should try it out. Reader, I love it.

You may well ask, What is it? I had no idea where to shop for Wizards Metal Renew Polish, so I took the easy route and ordered it from Amazon. It turns out to be part of a product line focused on car car. It's also available through chains like NAPA. It removes discoloration from a variety of metals, including steel, pewter, and brass (be warned, though:  if the brass is lacquered, it will also remove the lacquer). You can apply it with a cloth and then wipe it off and polish the metal with a clean cloth. Unlike some other polishes, it has an agreeable smell.

I tried it first on the blade of a heavily oxidized back saw, a Jackson, a secondary line for Disston. As I wanted to save the saw's etch if possible, I applied it generously and gently used a sanding block with 320 grit wet-or-dry paper. You can tell immediately that it's working because the cream-colored liquid starts turning brown. I wiped the blade off and repeated the process. The etch was long gone, it appeared, but the blade once more looked like steel. What I like about the result is that it retains the look of use and age. The steel doesn't look overly polished, just well-cared for.

With "well-cared for" in mind, I looked around for what else might illustrate how Wizards Metal Renew Polish works if I took some "Before" and "After" shots. And I realized that the table of my Delta band saw provided a relevant example.  I bought this band saw in non-working condition at least twenty-five years ago. I got it working and cleaned it up then, but I haven't touched the band saw's table since.  So here's the Before shot:

And here is the outcome after two applications of Wizards Metal Renew Polish followed by buffing the table with a cloth:

The table now is clean enough to reflect some of the colors of the polish's container. I personally don't want it any shinier, but if you do you might go on to use Wizards Metal Polish.

The label of Wizards Metal Renew Polish says nothing about corrosion protection. To protect the newly cleaned steel, I wiped it down with Break Free CLP, waited a few minutes, and then wiped it dry.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Prayer Breakfasts: A Re-Definition

Hearing me exclaim, "Jesus Christ," over coffee this morning while reading about Trump's unconstitutional intentions to subvert the upcoming census, my wife Caroline quipped, "Trump has given new meaning to Prayer Breakfasts.  All over America, people at the breakfast table reading the latest news about him are invoking God."

Monday, March 18, 2019

Another French Comment on Brexit

Given that Brexit is a mess with negative economic implications for the United Kingdom, it's a momentary relief to learn that not everyone is filled with doom and gloom.  In The Independent, Jon Stone reports that France's Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau has named her cat "Brexit."

Why?  Because "he meows loudly to be let out but just stands there when I open the door."

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Congressman John Dingell’s “Last Words for America”

John D. Dingel (D, Michigan) died at 92 on February 7, 2019.  He served in Congress from 1955-2015, the longest span in American history.  Always seeing the larger picture, always ahead of his time while conscious of the need to compromise, he dictated to his wife, Representative Debbie Dingell (D, Michigan), his last words addressed to the American people on the day he died.  We would do well to heed them.

One of the advantages to knowing that your demise is imminent, and that reports of it will not be greatly exaggerated, is that you have a few moments to compose some parting thoughts.

In our modern political age, the presidential bully pulpit seems dedicated to sowing division and denigrating, often in the most irrelevant and infantile personal terms, the political opposition.
And much as I have found Twitter to be a useful means of expression, some occasions merit more than 280 characters.
My personal and political character was formed in a different era that was kinder, if not necessarily gentler. We observed modicums of respect even as we fought, often bitterly and savagely, over issues that were literally life and death to a degree that — fortunately – we see much less of today.

Think about it:
Impoverishment of the elderly because of medical expenses was a common and often accepted occurrence. Opponents of the Medicare program that saved the elderly from that cruel fate called it “socialized medicine.” Remember that slander if there’s a sustained revival of silly red-baiting today.

Not five decades ago, much of the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth — our own Great Lakes — were closed to swimming and fishing and other recreational pursuits because of chemical and bacteriological contamination from untreated industrial and wastewater disposal. Today, the Great Lakes are so hospitable to marine life that one of our biggest challenges is controlling the invasive species that have made them their new home.

We regularly used and consumed foods, drugs, chemicals and other things (cigarettes) that were legal, promoted and actively harmful. Hazardous wastes were dumped on empty plots in the dead of night. There were few if any restrictions on industrial emissions. We had only the barest scientific knowledge of the long-term consequences of any of this.

And there was a great stain on America, in the form of our legacy of racial discrimination. There were good people of all colors who banded together, risking and even losing their lives to erase the legal and other barriers that held Americans down. In their time, they were often demonized and targeted, much like other vulnerable men and women today.

Please note: All of these challenges were addressed by Congress. Maybe not as fast as we wanted, or as perfectly as hoped. The work is certainly not finished. But we’ve made progress — and in every case, from the passage of Medicare through the passage of civil rights, we did it with the support of Democrats and Republicans who considered themselves first and foremost to be Americans.

I’m immensely proud, and eternally grateful, for having had the opportunity to play a part in all of these efforts during my service in Congress. And it’s simply not possible for me to adequately repay the love that my friends, neighbors and family have given me and shown me during my public service and retirement.

But I would be remiss in not acknowledging the forgiveness and sweetness of the woman who has essentially supported me for almost 40 years: my wife, Deborah. And it is a source of great satisfaction to know that she is among the largest group of women to have ever served in the Congress (as she busily recruits more).

In my life and career, I have often heard it said that so-and-so has real power — as in, “the powerful Wile E. Coyote, chairman of the Capture the Road Runner Committee.”

It’s an expression that has always grated on me. In democratic government, elected officials do not have power. They hold power — in trust for the people who elected them. If they misuse or abuse that public trust, it is quite properly revoked (the quicker the better). I never forgot the people who gave me the privilege of representing them. It was a lesson learned at home from my father and mother, and one I have tried to impart to the people I’ve served with and employed over the years.

As I prepare to leave this all behind, I now leave you in control of the greatest nation of mankind and pray God gives you the wisdom to understand the responsibility you hold in your hands.

May God bless you all, and may God bless America.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Plus Ça Change: A French Comment on Brexit

Sylvie Kauffman quotes a telling comment on Brexit in "Watching Brexit Fall Apart" (NY Times, 22 January 2019).  Referring to the mixed feelings Great Britain has entertained ever since joining what was then the European Economic Community in 1973, the French legislator Jean-Louis Bourlanges quipped, "The British always had one foot in the E.U. and one foot out--now with Brexit they want the opposite."

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Dillinger's With Saw, Plane & Chisel: How to Build Historic American Furniture

As a collector of American Colonial furniture for over fifty years and a user of hand tools for over thirty, I read Zachary Dillinger’s With Saw, Plane & Chisel: How to Build Historic American Furniture (Popular Woodworking Books, 2016) with keen interest. Unfortunately, the book fails to deliver what its title promises.

Dillinger’s six projects span a good hundred years. With detailed instructions and excellent photographs, Dillinger shows how to build a Jacobean chest of drawers, a William and Mary side chair, a Queen Anne stool, a Queen Anne desk, a Chippendale bookcase, and a Hepplewhite hunt board. But how historically accurate are these reproductions? A critical look at these projects soon reveals that they are generic, based less on specific surviving examples than on stylistic features generally attributed to whatever so-called period is in question. The sources for these six projects remain vague: Dillinger says that the William and Mary side chair copies a chair he owns and that the Hepplewhite hunt board comes from Vermont, but he does not give sources for his other projects. 

Even worse, three of his six projects distort what historic examples looked like. Dillinger’s version of a “Queen Anne” stool, for example, is nothing less than grotesque.  Upholstered stools with cabriole legs were common in England with its more stratified society but rare in America. Squatty with bandy legs, Dillinger’s stool looks as if it had been whelped by an English bulldog. His “Queen Anne” desk also has faulty proportions:  Colonial slant-top desks with drawers were generally about as wide as they were high.  At 29 1/2” wide, Dillinger’s desk is unusually narrow for its height of 41”, so it looks top heavy. His “Chippendale” bookcase possibly could be considered an example of early 20th century Colonial Revival style, but it certainly isn’t representative of American bookcases from the second half of the eighteenth century. It’s a modern bookcase with some period details applied to the carcass the way icing is applied to a cake.

Half of the six projects, therefore, present distorted versions of Colonial American furniture. To that extent, they are not remotely “historic.” Dillinger’s With Saw, Plane & Chisel is a useful guide to hand tool techniques, but anyone who wants to understand period styles or reproduce furniture that looks right will be far better served by Jeffrey Greene’s American Furniture of the 18th Century: History, Technique and Structure (Taunton Press, 1996) or by Norman Vandal’s Queen Anne Furniture: History, Design and Construction (Taunton Press, 1990).

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Michael Flynn's Sentencing Memorandum

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn is back in the news. Last April, Flynn had admitted lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador Kislyak about sanctions. This was a criminal offense, but, as I commented at the time, sentencing was being deferred, presumably to ensure Flynn's continued cooperation. Special Prosecutor Mueller had no reason to go easy on Flynn unless Flynn could provide valuable information.

One piece of this information, I continued, would be naming the "very senior member" of Trump's transition team who directed Flynn to talk to Kislyak about a United Nations Security Council  resolution. That person could well have been Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, who perhaps was acting on his own--or perhaps was not. After firing Flynn as national security adviser, Trump tried again and again to get Flynn off the hook, even to the extent of directing the then Attorney General Sessions to fire the then Director of the FBI, James Comey. Why, precisely? As I asked a year ago: Just how deep does this rot go?

Yesterday, the Government's Memorandum in Aid of Sentencing Michael T. Flynn was submitted. Nearly all of the document has been redacted, but we can read that despite his previous "multiple false statements," Flynn's "substantial assistance" justifies "a sentence at the low end of the guideline range" (zero to six months). That substantial assistance apparently took place over the course of nineteen (19!) interviews. That in itself is remarkable, but even more remarkable is that no one has leaked what he said, just as no one has leaked what former White House counsel Don McGahn has said in his 30 hours of testimony and what Michael Cohen has said in his 70 hours of testimony.

Given that Washington leaks like a sieve, this silence is amazing. It is clear that Mueller's team is careful and thorough. Far from being "out of control," as Trump keeps insisting, Mueller is exerting remarkable control. His report, I predict, will be incontrovertible.  The problem in this era of conspiracy theorists will be those fanatics who will choose to ignore documentary evidence in favor of their own fantasies.  Their name is legion.