Thursday, December 20, 2012


Nearly complete...
If you're reading this in the morning, and you're not dead yet, it has nothing to do with the Mayans and the Mayan calendar. It has to do with the relentless quality of real life. Our planet is millions of years old. And it will be around for a while longer even though we seem to making a pretty big mess of things.

In the meantime, I'm ready for the second coat of Danish oil on the headboard I've been making, and I'm preparing to start making my usual small boxes that will be needed to fill orders in the spring.

I am also trying to get my book proposal finalized, for the title, Hands-on, Hearts-engaged, about the strategic engagement of the hands in learning. One would think that folks would notice on their own, the integral relationship between the hands, the senses and mind in learning. But we've been conditioned to regard intellect as residing outside our own experience. We find it in books, experts armed with instruments, the internet and statistics and are taught to question our own capacities to evaluate what we see, hear, and do. The danger, of course is that we thence stop taking the time to watch and learn, and become passive in the face of real danger.

On the gun thing, I had noticed early in my life that guns were a poor substitute for actual manliness, and I wish more would be said on that point in the current controversy. Sarah Palin applauds herself for her manliness, and in truth, to have the finger on the trigger gives a sense of power... that of knowing you can kill. But to need those feelings says a great deal of ugly stuff about one's sense of self.

Having your hands on a plane can also convey a sense of manliness, but when you use it wood gets smooth to the touch. That's much better than something or someone being dead.

We are now down to about 4 making days before Christmas... One cannot make beautiful and useful objects without returning to our traditional human roots as observers of physical reality.

Update... It is now Dec. 21, and unless I've shifted to a parallel universe, I'm still alive and the nincompoops who predicted the end of the world (it wasn't the Mayans, they just ran out of paper), are proved wrong, as has happened so many times before. (Do you think this was all a plot to sell more flashlight batteries and guns? ) In any case, the headboard is now finished but for installing to the bed frame, and I'm going back to other projects.

John C. in a comment below tells that he has guns for defense of his family and relays a story from Oklahoma about a young mother forced to kill an intruder. I have to admit that there are times when guns have actually come in handy for self-defense. And each and every day in America, there are hundreds of incidences of more senseless gun violence. Admittedly it is a complex problem involving mental health, poverty, fear, and self-image regarding masculinity and power. We fail in schools to teach children creative problem solving, both with regard to the materiality of the planet, and in terms of interpersonal relationships. I do not advocate the complete removal of guns from our society. I just think there should be some balance in our approach. The NRA has promised to come up with something today(Friday, Dec. 21, 2012). Perhaps they were waiting this very long week to see if the Mayan end of the world would come first and take them off the hook. In any case, my hope is that we can solve the problem of gun violence and get back to making beautiful and useful things from wood.

Update 2. It took over a week to come up with this... Wayne LaPierre and the NRA propose that every school be equipped with a cop and guns. The government is supposed to pay for it. They said that they had been quiet this last week out of respect for the victims. BS. Given all this time, with senseless gun violence happening every day, they could have come up with something that actually advanced American culture. Do reasonable folks really believe that our schools must become armed encampments in order for our children to be safe? Will these police officers on duty be equipped with bullet proof vests, semi-automatic weaponry, and cop killer bullets like those in fashion with gun nuts? I have rarely heard anything more stupid in my life. Columbine High School had an armed security officer and another motorcycle officer nearby. Neither was able to stop the killing. The NRA needs to do better than today's stupid proposal. Perhaps if all were to begin to realize that in all but actual combat, guns offer a cowardly response, not courageous in the least, we would begin to make progress.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Lovely headboard, and I agree with you about guns. You can't create anything with a gun, only destroy.

  2. John C6:50 AM


    I guess I have to respectfully disagree with your take on guns. Unfortunately we live in very dangerous times, and things will only get more desperate as the economy spirals into the abyss. When someone threatens you and your family, I believe it is your moral obligation to defend yourself and protect your family. Owning a gun does not make you a killer any more than owning a finely crafted Lie-Nielson smoothing plane makes you a craftsman. The potential is there in both cases, but the individual employing the tools has to make the conscious decision on how to use the tool.
    A few months ago a young lady in Oklahoma was in fear for her life because two intruders were attempting to break into her house. Her husband was recently deceased and she was alone with her baby. She called 911 and retreated to the back bedroom of her house and locked the door. The 911 call ended 22 minutes later with shooting one of the intruders with a shotgun, killing him as he broke down the bedroom to get at her, the other ran off after hearing the blast. The police had still not arrived. I don't think of her as a killer. I'm sure she got no feeling of power or superiority by brandishing a firearm, she did not want to do what the assailant forced her to do. Had she not had the right to bear arms, we would have heard the sad news story of yet another death of a mother and baby is some distant city at the hands of a deranged criminal...and we would have thought to ourselves somebody needs to do something about this.
    I'm sure the two thugs read about her husband's passing and thought she would be an easy target, never even dreaming that she had a gun. I wonder, if they knew she was armed and was willing to defend herself and her child, would they have even tried?
    You and Phillip are right you can't create anything with a gun, but you can preserve that which cannot replaced. And, though I own several firearms and I have no intention of every using no aggressively, I will defend my family if the wolves come to my door, instead of watching helplessly as my family is harmed or killed.
    I love the work you do with the kids, because those kids will grow up with a sense of purpose, confidence and skills to make a good path through this world. Hopefully, they will not have to resort to committing acts of evil to "get by". I just wish that was true of all kids these days.

  3. John, Thanks for your kind words about what I do with kids. I do believe that if more kids were given creative ways to discover themselves, we would be a safer nation.

    Interesting story from Oklahoma. I know there are some cases where guns have been used successfully to stop threats. In your own case, have you ever actually been threatened, or are guns just in case? And would you need an AR-15 for that, or cop-killer bullets, or whatever? Did I ever say I was against the right to bear arms?

    I've thought about buying a shot gun because we've had armadillos in the garden tearing out plants, and just recently we had two large feral pigs that I ran off by chasing with the truck.

    The AR-15 Bushmaster is advertised as a way of "manning up" and expressing your masculinity in this time of diminished testosterone. So that link, between guns and misconstrued manliness is a link noticed by writers like Molly Ivans in the 90's, by myself as I first entered gun culture as a kid, and is capitalized upon by the industry itself. I think we need to think and talk seriously about all this stuff.

    I would be very surprised it you needed and AR-15 to protect your family. And how many homes have been broken into because someone heard it might be a great place to steal guns?

  4. John C8:04 AM


    I have actually been robbed at gunpoint, I saw it coming, had enough time to react and there was absolutely nothing I could do; I was at work, and unarmed (company policy). I don't know how it would have turned out had I been armed. The robber may have chosen a different target, he may have seen the gun and fled, or one (or both) of us could have been hurt. As it was, I was lucky, and he decided not to shoot me.
    I agree that the AR-15 is probably not the best weapon for home defense. But let me qualify that, I live in a suburban area, so I would be concerned about backstop of the bullets. A pump shotgun with #8 shot is probably best (for me), gives enough scatter to ensure you will hit what you're aiming at in the dark, the pellets will not penetrate the walls and get your kids in the next room, and when you chamber that first round it makes a very distinctive sound in a dark quiet house.
    That being said, if I was a rancher living on the border in AZ, TX, NM, or CA, my choice would be different, with the drug cartel activity and all.
    More importantly though, the right to bear arms, as originally intended was so the people could protect themselves from a tyrannical government. I know it sounds revolutionary or extreme. But, the founders realized that there is no perfect form of government, and history had shown when the people are disarmed the government can pretty much do what it wants (usually for the good of the leaders, not the people).
    I also agree that advertisers have become absolute masters at manipulating the fears and weaknesses of the masses to make a buck, but that is an entirely different a very lengthy topic.
    As far as homes being broken into for the purpose of stealing guns. Remember that most criminals are looking for the path of least resistance. You never hear about a gun show, an NRA convention, or other such event being shot up; recent history has sadly shown that they usually pick targets where they know there will be little or no resistance. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but they almost always involve criminal on criminal activities.
    As a side note, a survey of criminals noted that the most terrifying thing they can hear is the slide of a shotgun slamming home somewhere in the dark. Hence the reason I said a pump shotgun at the beginning.
    For your feral pig problem I would suggest either shotgun slugs, or a good hunting rifle, those things are no joke and extremely dangerous.

  5. John, the NRA refuses to look at that particular line of the 2nd Amendment regarding the phrase "well-regulated militia" That opens the amendment to regulation and gives the government a chance to make sure idiots aren't running around with guns, threatening the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of others.

    A well regulated militia is a different creature than what we have now, with gun nuts of all kinds running loose. I'm sure you've seen the same statistics as I... There are gun deaths each and every day, that were unnecessary and very few among those were inflicted as self-defense.

    I think we as a culture need to examine the whole issue of guns, and be willing to admit that the suburban home owner, even under the guise of protecting family, does not need an AR-15 Bushmaster, for any reason other than to assert his (or her) questionable masculinity.

    In any case, I'm pleased that we can engage in a civil discussion of the matter.

  6. I think that you can consider yourself lucky to be allowed to defend your own homes and families.
    In Denmark (which is believed to be somewhat civilized) it is a different story.
    If a criminal breaks into your house, and you happen to be a hunter and have a shotgun. you can not shoot him. Because then you are being charged with killing.
    You can not whack the criminal with an axe handle or a baseball bat, because then you are steepping over the line and you are going to be charged with assault. You can shake the baseball bat at the criminal and hope that he makes a run for it. But if you follow him and hit him, then you are doing vigilance (I think that is what it is called?) And that is also an offence.
    Right now we have problems with criminals from the former eastern European countries that find Denmark to be Heaven.
    So I would like to be able to arm myself for protection of my family.

    But then maybe it could scale things up - I don't know.

  7. Jonas, as John C. suggests, the best gun to protect your family would not be the one of the monster guns legal in the US, but rather a shotgun.

    So, still, I have heard no reasonable explanation of why someone would need military assault weapons, even in the most rural of environments.

  8. Mr. Stowe, I really like seeing your wood work and am in agreement about children and creativity. I feel a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from creating. I used to own and operate my own painting and restoration business and though I didn't actually like painting, I did like the wood work and the finished product. The work that I do now is rarely as satisfying, but getting to do project in my free time is almost like meditation is this crazy world.
    I am a gun owner and have owned AR's in the past. They are by far the most fun to shoot and target practice with. some of the match target AR's are both fun and a good marksman rifle. As far as home defense it is among the best available. As far as uses that I have used it for is only taking care of varmints that can do a lot of damage to farm equipment. (ground hogs). I would hope that I would never need to use any gun for self defense, but there seems to be more evil now days. I always hear of the days that the previous generation was able to go to school with their hunting rifles on the gun rack in their truck and school shooting seemed to be rare. I tend to believe that no matter the weapon it is person that uses it that is the problem just as drunk drivers or people being careless. In the instances of school shooting the heinous act of killing with intent and doing so with an intimidating weapon on innocent children. It brings great emotion as I think about my children who should never have to worry about such things. The past ban on AR's was more of a Ban on manufacturing AR type features. I bought my AR brand new during the ban, the only thing difference was that it came with a mag that only held 10 rounds and I I could not get a flash suppressor because it had a pistol grip. Serious the ban was a total joke because I bough a 30 round military surplus mag the same day. In fact if I wanted to I could just change the spring and take out the plug in the 10 round mag and it would hold twice as much. I'm sure that just the talk of enacting a similar ban is causing a surge in the production of high cap mags and other things that will probably be included in the ban. In fact these useless ban is an easy investment for many people that buy as much as this stuff before the ban and sell them after the ban for twice as much. It's just a political ploy to make the people who do not like guns feel better about what they don't understand. An AR is somewhat like a sports car in that it is not a necessity, but that is the same with majority of things in life. Truth is an evil person could kill just as many people with a knife, would that make it any better? I cannot understand the mentality of these disturbed individuals, but in my mind outlawing AR's, or even all guns together, will not stop these things from happening if these people want to take the lives of others the will. Any idiot can get access to many items at a grocery store or Lowes that can take the lives of even more and even faster than the capability of an AR, but are we talking about outlawing those items and how could we? I'm not saying that we shouldn't reduce access to AR's or any gun. If it saves an innocent persons life isn't it worth it? Would we want every type of electronic communication to be monitored because it will save lives and catch terrorist? Many lives have been lost in the act to defend our freedoms. I don't pretend to have the answers, I believe that the fact is that we cannot stop these events from happening and I know that offends our scene of decency we wish was shared by all, but evil exist and always will. The best defense to this is doing what you are in working with children and family's working together to maintain the health of the country, but inevitably this will not stop all future events. I am not opposed to tightening gun laws that make sense, but not the BS that many seemingly clueless lawmakers are proposing.

  9. Paul, I am glad you are willing to see that some change in gun regulations might be a good idea. Getting rid of the loopholes that allow crazy folks and criminals access to guns bought without background checks at gun shows would be a good start.

    I know that the congress enacts legislation that turns out to be a joke, because they are more interested in protecting special interests than in protecting the American people. But wait until some actual legislation is proposed before making up your mind about it.

    I do not believe that people are fundamentally evil, and do believe that we can make the world a better place where children are safe and free.

    Today a man in New york used arson to lure firemen in close so he could murder them. I do not know the kind of weapon he used. In "well regulated armed militia" like those in Switzerland there would be folks to notice when someone went off his rocker and presented a threat to the well-being of others. In the US, guns are often owned by deranged loners. At the very least, we should stop that, even if it means taking better control over who gets sold what kind of gun.