Thursday, August 17, 2017

Let Sleeping Loaching Lie

I've recently redecorated my fish tank.  It still looks a lot like I previously had it.  I bought new fake plants from Michael's Arts and Crafts as well as Wal-Mart.  Some of those I managed to snag on clearance.  Here's what it looks like after I redecorated.




But I had a funny thing happen, and of course it involved my yoyo loach.  Loaches are silly fish, and ever so entertaining.  So I have this loach, I'll call her, "Shirley."  Shirley likes to hang out in a certain parts of the tank.  If you are looking at the photo above, it is all the way to the right in the back of the tank (where you can't exactly see.)  But look at the giant green plant all the way to the right.  She likes to sit at the bottom of it.

This lead to a problem.  Namely I just stuck a plant where Shirley likes to sit.  So what does she do?  She digs out the stem of the fake plant, then wiggles the gravel out of the way, and makes a little scooped out place for her to stretch out and rest her fins.


I managed to snag a picture of Shirley doing this.  My camera does this irritating thing where it will shine a red light right before it snaps a picture.  This of course warns my fish that I am taking a photo so of course, they run away from the camera.

But here's the funny thing about Shirley that no one believes.  She likes to sleep on her back and side.  That's right.  There were many times I thought she was dead or dying only to discover she was napping.  And I can't blame her for sleeping on her side.  I mean, I do too.

So I knew I would have to take a photo of her doing this.  The problem with this, as I stated before, is my stupid camera likes to flash the red light before I take a photo.  This of course wakes her up, and she rolls over.  However, I did manage to take a somewhat blurry photo of her sleeping on her back.  Take a peek at this.


It's like that photo of Bigfoot.  Some folks will believe that my loach absolutely slept on her back.  Other's will say it's a complete fake.  Still yet, some will never be able to be sure, one way or another.

I was almost mad about Shirley digging out the stem of the plant, but I thought, "She spent a lot of time and effort digging that out.  I should let it stay like that instead of digging it back into the gravel.  I'll let her sleep in the hole she dug out."  So in the end I decided to let sleeping loaches lie.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Rick Bass Project, Part 1

Despite having a lot of guitars, I don't really have many basses.  In fact, during many of my musical years, I didn't even own a bass.  I had my eye on a particular bass when I noticed this bass kit.

DIY Electric Bass Guitar Kit – Mod Bass Guitar Kit

Due to trademarks and that sort of thing, I'll call this bass a "Rick" bass even though you know the whole name.  Sidenote:  That company is fiercely protective of their name and trademarks.  That's one reason I won't say it. 

So here's the kit:





My first impressions where, 1.  The neck needs a bit of adjusting.  Between the truss rod, and giving it a fret dress, that should take care of it.  2.  The basswood body was really lightweight.  That kind of surprised me.  3.  The body was a multilayer body.  I believe it had about 5-6 pieces of wood it was made of.  4.  It had a lot more knots than I would have liked.  That's usually not a problem except for something I found out later.  5.  The rosewood fingerboard looked more like a, "Rosewood, wink, wink" fingerboard.

I knew I was going to add certain parts to make it my own kind of bass.  Namely, pickups, straplocks, pickguard, and my own headstock decal. 

Since I was going to stain the body a walnut color, I decided to use a black pickguard.  I bought one from WD Music Products.  I have to say, the replacement black one actually fit better than the original one.  The black one is actually a two piece pickguard.  Looking at it in the picture and in real life you can't tell. 



I'm glad to say that the body and neck were already sanded to a 220 grit from the factory.  All I had to do was sand with 400 and 600 grit sandpapers and it was smooth.  I was given a great suggestion to use an air compressor to remove any dust and dirt.  That worked out great.




I then proceeded to tape off the neck, and finish it with Odie's Oil. 




Next, I turned my attention to the body.  I bought the usual Minwax Walnut stain from Home Depot.  I also made sure to purchase an eye screw so the body could hang up and dry.  I inserted it where the strap button usually goes. 



Make sure you follow the directions of the stain.  It says to stain evenly, and then wipe off the excess after 15 minutes.  If you need it to be darker, you can stain it two more times later on.  Here's what it looked like after one coat.



Frankly, that was a lot darker than I was going for.  The "Rick" basses made of walnut are not that dark.  But, I'll call it a happy surprise.

What was not a happy surprise was something they had done at the factory.  Do you see those places on the back?  The white places?  Well, that's where the body had knots in it, and they used CA glue to keep the knots from falling out.  But you know what happens when you put CA glue on wood?  Stain won't stick to it.  It completely seals the wood.  So I have a few places where it will be white. 

When wood is cut it gets graded.  You've probably seen Gibson's 2A or 3A flamed tops.  Paul Reed Smith sells really high end guitars with 5A tops.  To receive a single A means it is a pretty dang great piece of wood.  More than that is just amazing wood.

For wood that doesn't fall in the super high end category, you have grades like firsts, seconds, and common.  Here is a chart to help you out. 

http://www.woodworkerssource.com/shop/grad.html

For musical instruments you should use firsts or seconds.  To have this many knots in a musical instrument body is inexcusable.  For me, it's not so much that it had knots, it's the fact that it needed that much CA glue to hold the knots in. 

On with the story.  The stain dried really fast.  Just to be safe I gave it 48 hours to completely dry.  After that I rubbed in Odie's Oil on the body. 


The first coat of Odie's Oil had dried on the neck, so I rubbed in a second coat.




It happened to be a hot sunny day here in Florida, so I did something you just don't do with other finishes.  I took it outside to sit in the sun.  Since Odie's Oil is well, an oil, having it sit in the hot sun will actually melt it, and thin it down.  It actually helps it soak into the wood this way. 

When I checked on the finish the next day it was almost completely soaked in.  The next day I added on another layer of Odie's Oil.  And that's where I am right now.  I will give the finish a few days to set up, and then see where I should go from there. 

I'm going to be performing a lot of finish work the next few weeks.  So I don't suppose I'm going to write, "Part 2" to this post for a while.  But good, bad, or indifferent, I'll write how it goes. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Get Cha' Pull!!! New Guitar Day: The Dixie Rebel

I hadn't bought a guitar in a while.  This has mainly been due to the market becoming completely stale.  Nothing is selling on Craigslist, and the same instruments are being posted again and again.  This problem is also exacerbated due to the fact that everything is completely overpriced.  So this feeds the problem.  Nothing is moving since everything is overpriced.  Since sellers won't lower their prices nothing is moving.  And the cycle continues. 

However, I spotted something new on Craigslist.  A seller was selling two Dean guitars.  (For those who know me or read my blog, you know I am a huge Dean guitar fan/player.  He was selling the overseas modern reproduction of the Dean From Hell.  That's the blue on with the lightening bolt that Dimebag Darrell played most of his career. 

The seller was also selling a Dean Dixie Rebel.  I have to be honest, I have always wanted one, but back then I didn't have the money to buy one.  The seller said he was a lawyer, and without actually saying it, I think a client paid him in guitars, and he was selling them to get his money back.  Long story short, I bought it. 

Here's the pics:



Of course, I had to put new strings on it, set it up for half tuning, and make sure everything was set up as I like.  The new strings were really giving me trouble by taking so long to stretch out.  I actually waited a day for them to stretch out before I continued my set-up.



Now I figure some of you might be asking, "Do you think it's okay to promote the use of the Confederate Battle Flag?"

I say, "I have no opinion on that.  I just like the guitar."

"But don't you think that represents a racist government and doctrine?"

"Well, I don't really have an opinion on that.  The guitar has a really nice neck.  In fact, it's about the thinnest Dean guitar neck I've ever played.  For such a large guitar, it is really lightweight."

"Don't you think that some people will be offended by that guitar if you play it on stage?"

"Well, I think this guitar will sound really good, and my songs will sound good because of it.  I don't really have an opinion on the graphics except that I like that particular shade of red."

"Well, only a racist would own something like that."

"You know, I once saw this stage musical called, "Avenue Q."  They had this song called, "Everybody's a little bit racist."  I thought it was pretty damn funny.  Oh, and I really like playing this guitar." 

"I'm going to complain about you on the internet."

"Yeah, I get that a lot."


So I have this friend Nick.  He has an opinion about, "that flag."  So I sent him this picture.


Even he had to laugh.  Anyway, have fun playing out there.  Get Cha' Pull!!!


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Transformers 5: A No Spoilers Review

Alright, so I know I'm over a month late to see the Transformers movie.  But hey, I have a lot going on.  Plus, I like going when the theater is empty, however, despite there being plenty of empty seats people sat directly in front and behind me.  But I digress. 

So I promised a no spoilers review.  Well, most reviews have to tell you something about the movie.  Well, I'm not going to.  I'm not going to tell you one thing about the movie itself.  What will I write about you ask?  Well read on.

Of the five Michael Bay Transformers movies I'd rank this one second worst.  It's only behind the second one which made very little sense, and had slightly racist robots.  This is what I think happened with this script.

First off, Michael Bay can't be bothered to write his own script.  But, he doesn't exactly want to pay for high quality writing when half the move is explosions.  So, he hires college freshmen (all guys of course) to come up with the main plot and idea of the script. 

They kind of sit around the table trading ideas.


But Michael Bay can only pay them a flat rate plus skank weed.


The instructions are probably to, "Take some shit you learned in your history class, and combine it with the old cartoon episodes of The Transformers."  These freshmen then flesh out the plot and storyline, and turn it over.  To who?  12-14 year old boys.


(Editor's note:  The previous picture was the most G rated picture I could find when I put 12-14 year old boys in the search engine.  Seriously, what is wrong with people?)

Anyway, these boys are then given sugar and instructions to "Go X-TREME!!!"


So the kids come up with the most "radical" dialogue they can.  The plot doesn't matter as long as you switch locations every ten minutes.  Again, no real rhyme or reason is needed.  It just has to move the movie along even if it makes absolutely no sense. 

Once you have that, then you have the usual cast.  Marky Mark, John Turturro, some hot chick, and Hannibal Lecter?  Wait, that can't be right?


How the cold hell did you Anthony Hopkins agree to this?  What sort of money was thrown his way?  But back on track.  Anthony Hopkins was probably so upset by his dialogue that he changed about one-fourth of it.  So he gets to say something intelligent followed by something no one would actually say out loud. 

Next, you throw in some overpriced cars.  Actually, a lot of overpriced cars.


Next, throw in a lot of testosterone and Viagra.


You should also forget some of the main points in Transformers 4: Age of Extinction.  But not Grimlock.  He's in this one.  (Shoot, that might be a spoiler.)


Anyway, two and a half hours later you will be less than thrilled and really have to go to the bathroom.  Actually, I'm surprised they could make a film this dumbed down, and it still only be the second worst of the series.  Go see this if you feel the need to.  Consider this movie reviewed. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Fuck You Dimmitt Chevrolet

Seriously, fuck you Dimmitt Chevrolet.  Fuck you in the asshole with a lionfish.  But let me start at the beginning. 

I had actually built up some goodwill with my salesperson Jerika.  She helped me out finding a truck.  I actually thought she was one of the more human salespersons I'd dealt with.  When it came to crunching numbers I thought the offer sheet was a bit high.  But let's be honest, everyone does.  Everyone knows you never take the first offer.

So suddenly the price on the website ($21,268) balloons to $28,500 on their offer sheet.  I know tax, tags and fees are going to increase the price, but that seemed excessive.  Well, it seems that I didn't qualify for $4000 of those rebates.  I told Jerika that was too rich for my blood.  She brought over the sales manager to see if we could get our numbers closer together.

The first thing I noticed was the "name" on his nametag.  It literally said, "The Coop."  This guy looked like he did too much coke and Natty Ice back when Smash Mouth were popular.



He actually looked like a fatter version of the lead singer of Smash Mouth including fire arm tattoos.


So he comes in looks over his own offer, and says, "I can't do anything." 

I ask, "Well, why is the price on the website so much lower than your offer?"

"The Coop" says, "Well that's GM's rebates.  We took off so much on our end."

On a side note, I know what the manager at Ferman Chevrolet had to say about Dimmit's sales tactics.  He said, "I don't advertise like that.  Especially since most people won't qualify for those rebates.  It's basically false advertising."

So I tell "The Coop,"  "Well, you're still coming in higher than Brandon Ford and Elder Ford. 

To which he replied, "I don't sell Fords.  I sell Chevys." 

I just kind of looked at him like, what the cold Hell did you just say to me? 

So I told him, "Well Ferman Chevrolet came in much lower than you."

His smartass reply was, " I outsell both Ferman dealerships!  They don't sell what I sell!"

Strike two asshole.

I then said that Ferman Chevrolet gave me an offer for $22,700 plus tax, tags, and title. 

Then he said the one thing I couldn't believe.  Again, in a very sarcastic tone he said, "Well, why didn't you buy from Ferman then?"

Again, I just looked at him like, "What did you just say to me?"

I tried to remain calm and said, "Because I was on a walk-about.  I visited ten dealerships to see who had the best price." 

He then went back to the paperwork, "Yeah, I may be able to knock some off of the title, but it's still going to be $28,000."

That's when I finally had enough, and turned to Jerika, and yelled, "Is there some other salesman I can deal with!?" 

She started to speak, and "The Coop" yelled over her, "I'm a manager!"

So I turned to him, gave him a salute, and said, "See ya!"

He then yelled back at me, "Alright then!"  He acted like he was looking for a fight. 

Every time I tried to speak, he spoke over top of me.  He came in, and in thirty seconds, destroyed any and all goodwill that Jerika had built up for over a month.  He came in and acted like he was hopped up on coke or meth.  I mean, who the hell treats someone like that with tens of thousands on the line?  Did he magically think that if he treated me like garbage that I would suddenly buy his overpriced vehicle?

I'll tell ya, I really don't want to buy a Chevrolet from any dealer anymore.  Jim Browne Chevrolet was almost as bad as Dimmit.  Ferman Chevrolet was slimy.  I don't want to end up with a Chevrolet needing repairs and then have to deal with Chevrolet parts, distributors and/or dealers. 

I've never said they weren't good trucks, but I just don't want to buy from those who see me as a walking piggy bank and not a human being.  It just amazes me in the age of the internet that these old time sales tactics are still in play. 

I can look at Autotrader.com for vehicles up to hundreds of miles away.  I talked to ten dealerships to find out what the sales market was like.  If I'm being treated like crap by any dealer, I can find many others on via the internet.  So my question is, "why would you even think of treating anyone this way?"

I worked retail for many years.  It didn't matter if someone was buying one dollar's worth of goods, or buying over a thousand dollar's worth of goods.  I treated everyone with respect.  And it seems like a lot of dealers leave a trail of slime wherever they go when they are dealing with people spending thousands.  I couldn't imagine doing that. 

I'm pretty sure this ends my search for any Chevrolet vehicle.  That means both now, and in the future.  I've been to three dealers and they all seem to have sort of a systematic need to treat customers like walking piggy banks instead of real humans.  I don't do business that way.  And from now on I won't do business with Chevrolet. 


Monday, July 17, 2017

(Broken) Pawn Shop Guitars, The Epiphone AJ-1-NA, Part 2

Here is Part 1 so you, the reader, can understand what I'm talking about.

(Broken) Pawn Shop Guitars, The Epiphone AJ-1-NA, Part 1

In Part 1 I had glued the headstock back onto the neck.  While the gluing process worked out fine, there was another problem.  When the headstock broke it blew out wood chips on the surface.  So I had to fill them in.  This is what the headstock looked like after being glued back together.


I used a Gibson lacquer pen to color in the black parts.  I then filled the crack with C.A. glue.  Normally I would use some sort of lacquer, but I wanted the glue to seal the exposed wood, not to mention fill the crack. 



In these two pictures I took steel wool to the glue to even it out.  Normally I would use sandpaper, but I didn't want to take a chance of going through the black overlay.  Basically I just smoothed it down until I could take it to the buffer.



The fretboard really needed cleaned up so I used the same steel wool on it.  It really cleaned it up nicely.  I also removed the grime from the frets so they ended up looking nice.  I used my straight edges to check the various frets.  They were in good shape.  After examining the frets I'm pretty sure someone has fret-dressed this guitar before.

One thing I didn't like was that the guitar seemed to have a weird film on it.  I believe it was tobacco film from a smoker.  I tried using my Ken Smith polish, but that stuff wasn't coming off. 





So here's what I decided to do.  I broke out the buffer with the coarsest grit I had.  As you can see I used it on the headstock.  It took out the scratches beautifully.  I used it on the front and the back, and I couldn't have asked for any better. 

I also buffed out the fretboard.  It really improved the look of wood as well as the frets.  I then buffed out the whole guitar to remove the weird film on it.  Normally when working with a buffer you add your buffing compound one time.  In trying to remove the weird film on this guitar I had to repeatedly add buffing compound. 

I have to say it worked great.  It took me longer than I thought it might, but I kept at it slow and steady.  I ended up buffing out some of the old scratches in the guitar so that was a bonus. 


My next move was to set up the guitar.  Since these guitars tend to sound a little bright, I strung it up with silk and steel strings.  Everything went pretty simply for me.  I put the tuners back on without any trouble.  I managed to turn the trust rod to where the neck was perfectly flat.  I oiled up the rosewood fretboard and bridge.  The only thing it really needed was for the nut slots to be cut correctly. 

Now that I have it tuned up and ready, it was time to take pictures of it for my sales posting.





Now that it's strung up, here is what the headstock looks like.


Right now, I am looking to trade it more than sell it.  No one is buying on Craigslist.  I've been seeing the same stuff on there for the last few months.  So I figure I can trade it better than I can sell it. 

The funny thing is once the strings stretched out this guitar sounded really good.  It surprised me just how well the bass came through.  I'm sure the silk and steel strings helped with that.  Whoever is interested in this guitar will really be happy once they play it.  I just hope they have something nice to trade for it.  We'll see.