Better than salt money

Work like you were living in the early days of a better nation

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Rapacious bastards

I got a couple of credit card solicitations in the mail yesterday. The Discover card is offering me a 19 percent APR, with a 25 percent cash advance. No interest on transfers; for 14 months, but a 3 percent transfer fee. No annual fee.

Not great, but nothing horrid.

First Premier Bank, on the other hand, was horrid. Credit limit is $700. A $49 annual fee. A monthly service fee of $10.50, and it seems to arrive with a balance of $59.50, outstanding.

The interest rate, and the cash advance, are the same, but it’s not nicer than Discover, because the interest rate is 36 percent. That $10.50 monthly service charge is an introductory rate. When all is said and done you are paying, $126.00 for the first year (with the annual fee, and the service charge plunked on the bill from the get go), and after the rate goes up to $14.50 a month, $174.00, so that you can have a $700 credit card.

Even if you don’t use it, they are charging you 25 percent per annum for the opportunity of paying 36 percent APR on $700. This is what they are calling a, “platinum” card.

The terrifying thing (apart from the changes the credit card industry got made into law under Bush fils) is that this business model works.

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Perhaps I hold myself to too high a standard

I have been complaining that I’m not doing as well with my spinning as I’d like. When I ply it’s a little overspun, which is probably the result of being not quite consistent in the singles. Well I bought an app (iSpin Toolkit) for my phone. It was a bit pricey (at $4.99), but it has a couple of tools which were well reviewed enough by other spinners for me to figure it was worth it to get. The twist gauge, and the various calculators are really nice. The inch block to let me see how many Twists Per Inch (TPI) I’ve got on a ply is sort of handy. At some point the predictive tools will be useful.

But what I really wanted was the Wraps Per Inch (WPI) gauge. That will let me figure out what my grist (i.e. a rough guess at how many Yards Per Pound [YPP] I’m getting). That drop-spindle stuff I’ve been working on… I guestimated it (using my knuckle, while it was on the spindle) at somewhere between 25-30 WPI. Which is fingering weight, and gives between 1800-2400 YPP. Respectable. It would ply up to about 17 WPI (at 3-ply) and come in at DK weight. The 2oz I’m working should come in, at that WPI with about 20 yards of yarn.

Which, when I crunch those numbers seems a bit short. I’ve done about .7oz of fiber. I am pretty sure I have more than 100 yards already. Putting the single on the WPI gauge, I see… between 75-80 WPI. that’s cobweb. At three plies it’s about 40 WPI, which is laceweight, and ought to give somewhere between 100-150 yards, depending on just where it averages, between 75-80.

So my spindle spinning is really fine. If it’s strong enough to hold up to the strains of being reeled off, and plied, it will be fine yarn, as well as being finely spun.

On the wheel today I was spinning some worsted. I’m not as good at that as I’d like; and this wool probably wanted to be spun woolen, at least in terms of being a soft hand, but it’s about 55 yards, and weighs in at 1.1oz. I’ve not set the twist, and it’s a bit energetic, but we’ll see how it comes out. Poking about on Etsy, I don’t think my yarn is any worse than much of what I see being offered.

Not bad, all in all.

But I want to be better. I suspect I won’t think my yarn is, “good enough” until I can make it, and have people think it was done on a machine.

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Somedays it takes someone else to keep your head up

Today is being hard. My bread is misbehaving, supper (which I trust to be tasty) is not treating my nose well (it’s a sauerbraten, of sorts, and the brine is making me think, unpleasantly, of some very herbaceous schnapps), the spinning is going well enough, but I feel behind. Happily MBF forwarded this to me, from Not Always Right (stories of less than splendid customers in the retail trades)

Suited To The Role
(I work the floor at an independently-owned menswear store. The owner,
my boss, spends a lot of time at the shop, and tries to keep prices as
low as possible to help our city’s large homeless population get good
job interview clothes. A clearly homeless man is wandering around the
store. The other patrons are giving him looks.)
Customer: “Excuse me, sir?”
Me: “Yes, ma’am?”
Customer: “I think you may want to call security. That… bum over
there, he keeps feeling the suits and muttering to himself. I’m just
sure he’s planning to steal one.”
Me: “Well, ma’am, I think that’s quite unlikely.”
Customer: “Oh, come on, you know how they are! I mean, I’d keep an eye
on him even if he wasn’t homeless!” (The homeless man in question
happens to be Hispanic.)
Me: “We don’t discriminate here, ma’am.”
Customer: “Well, I’m sure the owner would want to hear about this!”
(I give in and call him over. The customer explains her concerns. As a
black man, my boss isn’t happy with her racism, but agrees to talk to
the homeless man.)
Owner: “Excuse me, sir, are you finding what you need?”
Homeless Man: “Well, not really. I’m hoping for something versatile in
a dark or navy wool, but most of the options in my size are cut
American style instead of European, which fits me a little better. Not
to mention they’re all pinstriped, which I really don’t have the build
for, you know?”
Owner: “I… yes, I understand. I think we may have some options over
here, if you’ll follow me. How did you know all that?”
Homeless Man: “Back before I lost my job, I used to be really into
this stuff. I’m not looking for anything fancy, just something I can
use to look good for a job interview later today.”
(My boss helps him find something he likes, and comes to the counter
with him. The suit is priced at $87.)
Homeless Man: *digging in his pockets* “Hang on, I think I’ve got enough.”
Owner: *to me* “Take my card. I’m buying it for him.” *to the homeless
man* “Here. The suit’s yours, on one condition. After your interview
today, you come back and apply for a job here too. Got it?”
Homeless Man: “I… oh my God, thank you. Thank you so much.”
(Two years later, that formerly-homeless man is my manager, and has a
little girl with his new wife—the owner’s sister.)

It’s enough to make up for all he rest.


Pretty pictures

Just a quick post of photos straight out of the phone. I’ve spun up a bit more than half the batts in the post on process, and I’d like to have a record of them, in a place more accessible than buried amongst all the other photos I’ve taken with my phone.

Spinning out of the batt is pretty easy, esp. because this is really fluffy alpaca.  It was a bit, “neppy” (i.e. it had little lumps of felty fiber).  There wasn’t much “scutch” (i.e. crap which isn’t fiber).  Oddly the most common type was bits of some sort of beetle.

Bob, Bob, Bobbin along

Yarn on the bobbins. I’ve reeled it from the bobbin I spun on, to a different one, so that plying will be easier. The colors seem pretty clear, even if the focus is a bit off (if I’m going to use the phone, I need to get some sort of tripod for it).

On the Noddy

That’s what it looks like wound on the niddy-noddy.


And skeined. It’s nice, and seems to be balanced. I’ve not set the twist yet, but it hangs pretty much dead-straight.

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Points of divergence

Anniversaries are funny things. They are, more than anything else, markers of psychological time. When the new year, or a birthday rolls around the neither the world, nor the person, is all that different than they were the day before. They might be different in relation to what they were a year before, but the day to day, is much of a muchness.

Sometimes they mark a break point. A marriage defines the couple as being different to who they were the day before.

Ten years ago was one of those days for me. I was mobilised, told I was being deployed to Iraq. It was a whirlwind. We were dragged to Cp. Roberts (to waste three days doing shit we’d have lots of time to train on elsewhere). 36 hours after we got back from that we were at LAX, in the bright February sun, kissing our loved ones good by.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

The next year was an adventure. I wrote it up as it happened.

Things have never been quite the same. It changed me. Maia is pissed at the Army, she says the me who came back isn’t the me who left. My body isn’t the same, which is why I have an 80 percent disability rating. I spent a fair bit of time in and out of hospitals. I was back in the states without a chance to really decompress from the combat zone. If it weren’t for my friends, and their friends, I don’t know how well I’d have managed to re-integrate to normal society.

Today isn’t much different from yesterday. Ten years ago that wasn’t so true.



I tried, and tried, to find a headline without some sort of profanity. That was the best I could do. Lawmakers (guess the party) in N. Dakota are pushing for an even more offensive form of drug testing before granting public assistance to the needy. Never mind that the number of people who are looking for welfare and addicted has proven to be be small (so small that the projected savings from all, “Those People” being excluded have never materialised; which makes since, drugs cost money, poor people tend to not have it lying spare.†

To add insult to injury the politicians in N. Dakota have proposed making the people applying for welfare pay for the cost of the test. If you fail, then you are ineligible for public assistance for one year. Fail twice, and it’s three years. This isn’t bad, says, Keith Kempenich (one of the bill’s sponsors) because, It’s not overly burdensome. Most employers require drug testing pretty much across the board. Which isn’t as true as all that, and that they are allowed to is a different rant. I can, to a limited degree, see the rationale; if not justification, for some jobs testing for certain types of drug use.

But, since we have so many legal drugs, even that has some problems. I worry more about a bus driver who is drinking Red Bull or Rockstar to stay awake, than I do about one who take a few tokes, off the clock. Wal-Mart has no good reason to give a shit, but I digress.

A drug test costs money. It costs, roughly, 100 bucks. I’ll bet it also has to be in a certified How many of those are there? Does someone have to haul themselves all the way to Bismark to get one? What does all that cost? How long will this delay the process? How will a false positive be appealed?

What’s all that going to cost the State of N. Dakota, just so some Republican politicians can stroke the sense of Holier than Thou?

† Mind you, even if there were addicts looking to use welfare to pay for the habit, I suspect that would be cheaper than the second, and third order effects of them trying to feed a habit, e.g. the crimes they might commit, the lack of solid homelives for children, etc. But I’m just a bleeding heart liberal, or something.

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Sauce for the goose?

A Catholic School in N. Arlington New Jersey seems to think bad language among its students is a problem. So big a problem they are asking them to forswear vulgarity… if they aren’t male.

Lori Flynn, a teacher who launched the civility campaign at Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington, said the rationale was simple: “We want ladies to act like ladies.”

Incredibly,” the principal, Brother Larry Lavallee, added, the girls have the foulest language.” I suspect Brother Lavallee isn’t getting out much. To add special sauce to the mix, the school admits the boys aren’t actually bastions of genteel speech,

Teachers said they hoped that if the girls focused on cleaning up their speech on campus for a month, their improved manners would take hold and rub off on the boys. They timed the initiative to Catholic Schools Week and the old-fashioned romance of Valentine’s Day. They promised lollipops as rewards and handed out pins showing a red slash through a pair of pink lips.

(apparently Brother Lavallee isn’t so sheltered as all that, “It looks like they mean no kissing,” Lavallee said. “That’s a little harder to enforce.”

Do the boys think there is a problem? Sort of.

“It’s unattractive when girls have potty mouths,” noted Nicholas Recarte, 16. A pitcher on the school’s baseball team, Nicholas said he can’t help shouting obscenities from the mound after mishaps. He said he didn’t expect that to change.

So he’s going to keep swearing, but if a woman does it, that’s unattractive. No unfairness, nor message of accepting double standards there.

We all engage in some sort of “foul language”. I know that I do (and being in the Army certainly seemed to make it more commonplace, but it’s not that I never let an expletive fall from my lips prior. More that I got both more blunt, and more nuanced, in my use of them). One of the things in the article where I found this points out is that 1: most people use more cursing in a day than they think (between 70-100 instances per person), and 2: the sense that the world is going to the dogs.

The latter is an inference I made from this, Swearing has become a persistent part of everyday speech, used to add emphasis, emotion and humor. Become? No. I read Shakespeare, and Johnson, and I’ve seen Meredith Wilson’s, “The Music Man”. The death of decent speech amongst the young is no new thing.

So, if this is such a persistent thing, why are the women being targeted? I’d say it’s sexism. It’s not, “ladylike”. When some (female) students actually took the oath to swear no where on the campus the boys were admonished, “Gentlemen, you are not to swear in the presence of ladies.”

For fuck’s sake.

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Guilty minds

Stormfront (a font of racist, and eliminationist claptrap) is on a crusade. See, the “white race” is in danger of extinction, because people are saying racism is bad.

They are trying to engage in a campaign to make people realise this, by changing the terms of debates on race. Mind you Stormfront is a group that has no problem, when talking about how best to spread some agitprop, asking, “What would Hitler do?.

Some of the gems from the little screed they have on how to promote the “being against racism is being anti-white” idea include:

● 1 Stay on message; we deal with the genocide of White people and the perpetrators, anti-Whites. When talking to the general public don’t go into a rant about Jewish conspiracies, banking families, NWO, etc. White genocide is the first step to establish a beachhead in the general population’s consciousness — we can expand on other ideas later.

● 12 Be aggressive and take the moral high-ground; if they call you names say “You’re only saying that because I’m White”.

● 13 Think before you talk. Talking about commiting violence is a no-go. No talking about genocide tribunals because it makes us look dangerous. Using lots of bad language is going to make you – and us – look stupid. That does not mean treat anti-Whites with dignity.

They have odd ideas about what does, or doesn’t make one look stupid.

● 14 YOU ask the questions. If you don’t get a reply keep asking them – it means your opponent is embarrassed and is trying to get off the subject. If they demand you answer questions say “WE ask the questions, because YOU support/justify genocide of MY people!”.

● 17 Know your target audience and wrap our message around what appeals to them. Young adults want to talk about education fees and housing prices, Teens want to talk about music, Old people want to talk about pensions, etc. Try to connect with the people using their language/colloquialisms e.g. “Dude” “Mate” “Bloke” “Howdy” “Yeah” “Lol” “Rofl”

It’s all too easy to think, “what morons, who would listen to them?”. To which one can only say people are listening to them. The Republican Party tolerates, and in some ways actively encourages them. They have also figured out one of the most important aspects of this sort of thing… making it seem the conversation they are trying to have is relevant. They think getting the message out will help them. In some ways they are right. With the Republican Party going on about how this is, “a post racist world”, and any number of the pundits who support them (and are accused of being, “liberal” just because they happen to be members of, “the press”) going along with the idea, there is a currency to the idea that whites are being oppressed by not being in complete control.

I think the last word, the one they need to defend ought to be what they put at the head of their little “mantra”, because it more accurately expresses what they really want.

The Mantra


That’s what they believe. It’s what they want to hide (that and Jewish conspiracies, banking families, NWO, etc). They know that were they to try and flesh out their beliefs people would be against them. They are looking for ways to make those ideas more palatable. So if you see someone spouting off like that, you can look at their script (it’s all there, at that link) and be ready for the “debate” they will try to have.

I’d ask them why they want “white countries for everybody” and what they intend to do about “the jewish problem” and, “the banking families”. Make them defend their core ideas. If they are against the “anti-Racists” then one must assume they are pro-racism. Since, when they talk amongst themselves they admit it, it’s a fair question to ask them why they are trying to hide it now.

Link back to their talking points. Those talking points are defensive They know they have a radical agenda on race, and they want to hide it.

If you see it, shine some light on it.

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Much work which has cousins is improved when its relations are exercised. To eat with attention to the food improves one’s cooking. Riding a motorcycle improves one’s awareness in a car, etc. A friend bought some 70/30 wool silk for me to spin. Because I am not as confident as perhaps I should be (MBF brought out some handspun she’d bought a while back… I spin better than that), and it was only 2 oz. and I didn’t want to wait until I got home (this was Arisia, and I knew she was bringing it to me) I put in on the spindle, not the wheel. I had even bought a second spindle so I can better regulate the workflow.

One of the difficulties of spinning for ply is that of balancing the amount of spun yarn on the bobbins. At first it was just that I was a terribly inconsistent spinner. My grist was uneven, but then I decided to play with two different fibers, one of which was better for woolen, and was better for worsted. I spun about twice as much of the latter as the former. Winding the yarn before plying helped some, but not enough to keep me from having something like 1/3rd more of the semi-worsted.
The finished yarn looks ok.

Marled yarn

Having a second spindle means I have less of that problem with the work I’m doing. If I have two copps of about the same size, at the same grist I ought to have about the same amount of yarn. When I have two copps filled, I can wind one onto a bobbin, and start spinning the third. When I have that done, I can spin them both off, do my 3-ply, and use the odd bits to start the next set of spindles (assuming I have more than three copps worth of fiber). Right now I have one copp filled. I’m estimating it’s about 300 yds.

Filled Cop

The strands are about 1mm across, and the color balance is decent, though the sheen is a bit flatter than it looks, esp. when I let it self-ply.

I have to say, as I read more spinners talk about spinning, I am amused at the ways so many drop in to camps. There are a lot who are very pro-wheel, or very pro-spindle. The spindle camp are often more of the “back to the earth” sort. Seeing the use of a spindle as “more traditional”, and somehow purer. The folks who like the wheel tend to see it more as a case of being able to make a lot of yarn, as well as being less labor intensive.

I’m in the middle. I can spin faster on the wheel. I’m even getting to something approaching what I think of as consistent. What I don’t have is the level of fine control. I can spin a much finer yarn, and with less in the way of short term variation, on the spindle than I can on the wheel. In the long run this balances out, because I am not spinning for singles, but for ply. I also like being able to spin anyplace I go. My wheel is light. It only weighs thirteen pounds. It also needs a chair. The spindles are 2-4 oz. I can stand, I can sit. I can spin on the subway, in the waiting room, in line for the movies. If I wanted to, I could spin while walking (If I were making a heavier yarn, out of a grabby wool). I did have one guy talking about, “going back to the old ways”. Hah. I spin because I enjoy it.

Both of them demand attention to a lot of things. They require control of, balance of, contrary forces and an ability to be attentive to different versions of the “rub your belly, pat your head” problem.

Both require managing the flow of fiber. A lump of semi-organised wool (or cotton, or silk, or liné, or nettle, or alpaca, or some blend) has to be held, in both hands, one keeping the twist from getting too far into the drafing zone (web) , the other pulling the fiber to thin it, and make it ready for the twist to turn it from loose strands into yarn. The style one is spinning (woolen, or worsted) will determine which hand is which. For the wheel there is the question of treadling. One’s feet (or foot, depending on wheel style). For the spindle the hand as to be used to generate the spin to make the yarn (this is also true if one has direct drive wheel ). One also has to be able to keep an eye on the spindle, so as to add some spin, lest the yarn not bind up, and the spindle drop to the floor. With practice one learns to feel the twist slowing down.

But the basic cycle of stretching the fiber out of the clump, into a fine web of aligned (and perhaps slightly twisted) strands, and the letting the twist move back to join them up, and back and forth again, as the yarn appears and the spindle lowers (or the hands and body move away from the wheel) is magic.

When it’s working it looks effortless, the yarn appears. If it’s on a spindle the whirling weight moves toward the floor as a spider descends from a tree, with her trail of silk spun out behind.

Using the one improves the other. The need to focus on different aspects of the same task increases the understanding of the mechanics, and the subtle differences in how the fiber is passing from hand to hand, as it moves from one state to the other increases one’s feel for the transistions.

How much better have I gotten?

I’m spinning the fiber in this box right now.

This Boek is "boss"

This is a bobbin, with some of that alpaca on it, spun from the batt. Not a a terribly complex batt, being a single color, but full of neps, and quite loose and fluffy, and quite different from roving, or top, to spin.

Spinnen Boek

The bobbin is 4.5″ across, and the yarn was spun from this collection of wools. I am going to spin all three of them up, and then do a three ply of the results. I’m spinning them “Z-laid” (i.e. counterclockwise), so I can ply them “S-laid”. That’s the preferred method for making crochet yarns (which this is going to be. It’s a belated Christmas present), and for those who knit “continental”.

The book in those two pictures is a present from a friend. I’m using it to keep track of my projects. I chose this fiber to be the first entry because the color is exactly the same as the book.

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Working without a net


I have sprouts roasting in the oven, tossed in hazelnut oil, and hickory salt.

Main course will be salmon en papillote.  Salmon is skin on, a dusting of dill and and applewood smoked salt, salted caperbuds in the crease of the envelope, and a dab of dijon (with toasted cumin); over some frizzled shallots and under a pile of minced kalamata.

Appetizer will be the skirt of the filet, seared to a crunchy sort of, “salmon candy”.

I’ll toss the sprouts with a vinaigrette and make a leaf salad to go on the side.

Start to finish, about fifty minutes.  Less if you use powdered cumin and skip the frizzling.



I was working without a net because I had no way to taste the food before I served it.  Since I don’t like sprouts I had to guess at the end result.

The sprouts were well received, I forgot that I wanted to try one until they were all gone.  The bits I did taste weren’t bad.  The salt and the nut combined to give it a really nice base note, and the time in the open bowl (I cooked in visionware), let it caramelise.  The fish was perfectly textured, and that I had the elements in dollops meant the flavors of the main course were changing as one ate.

MBF had a Belgian Brown, and Our Other Partner and I had some Tokaji Sec (a white).  The salmon was a S. American Coho, which is a bit more like Atlantic Salmon than Alaskan Coho, though it has more fat, and would be great for making a crispy salmon skin.  I also chose to use the Smoking Gun and some cherry wood to smoke it.  So it was, after a fashion, “smoke three ways”.