November 2016

Moral Questions in God-Awful Times

Jay Oyster's picture

The ball turret on a World War II bomberRecent events have me thinking on many unpleasant things. But the forefront among these is that I have two young boys and we're heading into a decade that will likely define the coming century, much like the teens did to the 20th.  We like to have the illusion that we are in control of our destiny, but when the world changes direction and moves in its inexorable way, we are dragged along with it, like a man chained to the back bumper of a fucking Dixie pickup truck. They're too young now, but in only six years for our older boy and in only twelve years for his brother, they will be old enough to be drafted, if that old tradition should ever be revived.  And who knows what we'll be asked to do for our country in the strange days ahead?

Thinking about authoritarianism and intolerance, and the way we become mere pawns in the hands of the idiots running things when the times go pear-shaped like they have now, my mind keeps drifting back to the famous poem by Randall Jarrell:

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

When the State is inhabited by men who've seen the horror of war, or at least who have a concept of it; men who have a moral code built on compassion, even compassion for the enemy, then . . then the State can be benign, even potentially a benefit to humanity. But when the State is inhabited by men and women of short attention spans and petty gripes and puerile motivations, then it has the potential to becomes a true horror to all.   

Fundamentally though, I know one thing, and it's starkly illustrated in Mr. Jarrell's poem. The State doesn't care about my boys.

Endcap work on the Roubo

Jay Oyster's picture

Cutting the workbench endcap tenonGetting the shop up and running again has been a bit of a slog. Even getting the table-saw outfeed table into my shop turned out to be a major undertaking. Still, I've gotten the basic shop together, and started work on the workbench again. I didn't take many pictures beyond what I'm showing here, but I am making progress again. I managed to get about 3 hours of shop time this weekend. The first in a very long time.

I cut the tenon for the endcap, so I can start working on the wagon vise. Doing this cut with the circular saw turned out to present some challenges. The straight edge I clamped on the end on which to run the saw to cut the cheeks, slipped . . . on both faces. So Instead of a rectangular tenon, it turned out to be more of a parallelogram. I had to fix that with hand planes and hand saws, and ended up with a tenon that is a bit thinner than expected. Still, the fine work was satisfying, and I got back in touch with my hand tool mojo. Still need to drill out the end cap mortise and figure out the layout of the wagon vise. 

Cutting the tenon on my newly liberated outfeed table