history and a dream (with a rant)
Where does one begin, when talking about their life? The beginning is too ubiquitous and generic, so starting there is always a bad way to go. Childhood is where formation begins, but is always filtered in memory so isn’t real reliable either. I guess I will just start tapping away and see where this leads. (stick around, the ending is not what you think)
I woke up in 2008. I had started waking up before that, but when I left a career to save a relationship that was on the rocks, then lost the relationship, my house, my car, my tools and my dogs, one could say I had a large bucket of cold water thrown on my sleeping carcass. It was a rude awakening, but one that was necessary. Funny thing is, I think losing my dogs hurt more than all the rest combined.
I wasn’t homeless then. I saw the fact of failure as if it were a freight train barreling down on me so made steps for an exit plan. I found a small economy apartment in a cheaper part of a college town and I still had a truck and some hand tools. Funny thing is, I think losing my dogs hurt more than all the rest combined. That apartment was 15’X15′ and forced me into rethinking my whole materialistic existence. I found that I could get by with less and be happier for it. I figured out that all of those toys I had while in my old home with my Ex really added more stress to my existence. Tools are tools, ‘stuff’ is an anchor. Being in that small space also encouraged me to get out more instead of sitting around sedentary and stagnant: I started appreciating the flowers more, so to speak. Being newly single and intending to stay that way for awhile, I started ‘distracting’ myself with education. It didn’t matter what I was learning, so long as it was interesting and complicated. Politics was one subject; I started to see what was fucked up in our world and how it could (should) be. I also started to see that I hadn’t been educated in my school years at all: I had been indoctrinated.
I got pissed off.
The more I learned, the less I was able to be misled. The learning curve is not steep either. It didn’t take long to start hearing the bullshit that was being broadcast and hearing the words not spoken as the truth. Seeing that, I started making efforts to become as self sufficient as possible. Being a technoid geek, I wanted to know how to replace all those little things that are taken for granted within our modern society. I started looking at how to machine things and serendipity stepped in and offered a tool that I couldn’t pass up: A 3n1 lathe/mill/drill press. I had to drive half a state away to pick it up, and it was snowing the whole way both ways, but I got that beast home and installed it on a bench I made for it in that little box I called home. It took up ¼ of the floor space and I was as proud of it as could be.
That is when the learning curve started getting steep. The more I learned about machining, the more I learned how little I actually knew about anything: Mechanics, electronics, production, chemistry, math, physics, you name it, that little machine opened up an entire universe of information that I had not one clue about prior. I started spending money near hand over fist on tooling for the lathe/mill, books on skill sets and other disciplines of metal working, and even started digging into other areas that weren’t involved in metal working directly, like history. (learning the history of machinework is like looking at the evolution of our world, leading to where we are. There is a parallel there.) I started learning how to cast metal, purchased casting sand and crucibles, made my own tongs for moving and pouring the melts, and eventually made my own forge instead of digging crude furnace pits. (I like the furnace pit actually. You only need to carry your crucibles and tools to have a foundry.) I even started digging into blacksmithing, made my own anvil out of a section of railroad rail, made my own hardy tools for that anvil (making that hardy hole was a learning experience, let me tell you). What I learned from that wake up call in 5 years astounds me even to this day. I think I learned more in that time period than I ever learned in the 35 years leading up to it. Even if I didn’t learn more, what I did learn was far more practical to day to day living. I even started learning about animal husbandry in that time period though I didn’t actually put any of it to practice. (hard to justify raising goats when one lives in an inner city apartment)
That was right after the housing collapse in 2008. I had steady ‘respectable’ work for a while then, but it wasn’t anything to write about. It did bring in a paycheck and that helped buy so many of those tools and books that I so desperately needed in my educational process of that time. Then the last lay-off took its toll. I was 43, over-educated and un-certified in anything. Most hiring managers were scared off by my resume and I was getting ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ at every interview. I worked as a carpenter for a time, under the table, and that kept the rent payed, food in the cupboard, and books in my hands, but it wasn’t getting me ahead in anyway.
I find it funny. I was and am willing to do whatever it takes to keep the funds flowing, yet so many are intimidated by that, that they don’t want to hire me. I almost get the feeling that they are worried that if they hire me, the actual boss will start to look at their performance and question them. I could be, and likely am, wrong; its just a feeling I have. Heck, I have even pumped 1000’s of gallons of sewage out of a holding tank for a paycheck at one point. No complaints, just do the job at hand and keep moving on.
But my dream had become “a shop of my own”.
I was given a piece of land by a relation, in the middle of a county in Southern Kentucky. It is not the greatest piece of land, kind of crappy actually. But there is room to build on it and there are so few regulations about what you can or can’t do there, that the prospect of ‘My Own Shop’ became that much closer to reality.
Why so intent on a shop when I should be looking at a farm, you ask? Well, so many preppers are focusing on the self reliant working farm, I thought “They are going to need tools and things break: A workshop that caters to those things would work.” And that is the goal. I can’t make everything, but by God above, I can make most anything that is made of metal. It may take some time to work out the details of what I have to do, but I can do it. I have done it in fact. I made a steam engine from scrap! Literally, scrap. Beer cans for the aluminum, casted the cylinder and other parts, machined it all, including the eccentric cam, and used a barbell weight as the flywheel after machining a hub for it. I didn’t make the boiler for it but I did run it on compressed air. I did this for the simple fact that I wanted to know if I COULD do it. And it works! (there are other things that I have made as well, that one is the most documented though)
So here is the clap board on the door to my shop.
Dio’s Machine and Fabrication
we ain’t got it, but we’ll make it.
and willing to barter.
And the funny part about it all, That shop isn’t even built and I have a client list already. I have income coming in from work even though I have to travel to them to do the work right now. And I set the prices. If I don’t really want to do a job, I price it high; if they still want it done, than its worth it. Most work is reasonably priced though, as I do want the work and I want my reputation to grow. When that foundation is laid and the walls are up, I want to open my shop to waiting custom, not pray that it will attract them. But when that shop opens up, I will be able to expand what I can do tenfold.
Ok Dio, cute story, but what is the point of what you are saying here? Pretty simple actually, but it’s going to take more words to get it across. I was at my lowest when I had my awakening. Since then, I have had up’s and down’s the same as anyone of us has in life, but I have been making steady uphill progression since, and all by own endeavors (admittedly, at some points, with a little financial help from outside, but I was the one busting my knuckles). I don’t live a life that the PtwB would deem healthy or normal or even sane in some ways. I have actually regressed on a technological scale in some ways as I am not tied into grid and had to adjust accordingly. (oil lamps at night to save battery power, a spring house to keep cold stuff cold, etc.) BUT, I am happier than I have ever been in my life.
The point of that is this; I don’t care if 300 million people on this continent say that I am wrong, they are not me. I don’t give them permission to breath anymore than they give me permission to breath so why should they have a say in how I live my life? It doesn’t matter if there is a majority of people that think stealing from my hard work for their benefit is ‘right’; it isn’t, and there is no other way for me to look at it anymore. I won’t give up a dime to them, just because they say its ‘right’: like everything else, if they want it, they’d better earn it! As for those reading this blog, I think everyone one of us has a talent doing something, something that can potentially be a ‘job’ and one that would make us satisfied with our lives at the end of the day. It may not be ‘normal’ to think like this, but then, who defines ‘normal’ anyway? Some jackleg know-it-all that never lifted a hammer to hang a portrait or had to figure out how to change the oil in his/her car? Or some Constitutional Wannabe Professor that despises his subject matter? I think not. This country was founded by people who saw what needed doing, did it, and did not bitch about how ungrateful the world was for their efforts. I don’t care if the guy down the road thinks I am crazy for hanging out in the shop until midnight trying to figure out the best way to jig up a project. That is his opinion and my opinion of him is just as irrelevant to the grand scheme of life. So, if’n you have a talent, why not put it to work for you? If’n you can make a living doing it, who, besides you, decides that you can’t do it? Are we going to let a majority of people, whom we will never share breathing space with, dictate to us that we can or can’t do something? Seems counter-productive to me if we allow that to happen. Do what needs done, do what you want to do, and make the most of it as it all plays out.
And for all of those that think I should be locked up for thinking the way I do, I say “bring it baby!” I won’t sit still for life to pass me by, and I sure as hell won’t sit idle when someone wants to force their thinking on me. I will do what needs done, and not lose one minute of sleep or ounce of appetite over it.