A wood called bocote.

I made another peppermill for my dad (another belated birthday present), this time out of bocote.  That’s pronounced either “bow-coat-ee” or “buh-coat-ee”.  It’s a good wood for turning, being close-grained, though it is pretty hard.  But look at the grain!  And “bocote” is fun to say.  Maybe not as much fun as “cocobolo” or “bubinga,” but still more exciting than “oak.”  🙂

Bocote Peppermill 3 small

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Wayne’s Woodworking Update: Satinwood Peppermill and Salt Shaker

After a few days of being busy with work, I’m back to slowly updating my blog with pics of my woodworking.  My latest update is a (very) belated Christmas gift for my dad, a peppermill and salt shaker made of satinwood.  Click here for more pics.

Satinwood Salt and Pepper 2 small

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Still more woodworking–a sycamore bowl

During one of my wood-buying trips to Woodcraft, I bought a piece of sycamore, not knowing what I’d do with it.  I ended up turning a bowl, and gave it to Santina–she has it in her office at work now.

Just a word about sycamore–it’s related to maple, but isn’t as close-grained.  That means there’s a lot of tear-out when turning end grain, which you do twice per revolution on a bowl.  For those non-woodworkers out there, that means the turned bowl has some very rough spots on it, which need quite a bit of sanding.  Then I put the water-based finish on, only water will raise the grain of many woods.  That is, getting sanded wood wet will cause the wood to swell a bit along the grain pattern and the wood won’t be smooth!  The result is…more sanding!  Sanding is probably a woodworker’s least favorite activity.  At any rate, much sanding was needed in between coats of finish before this bowl was as smooth as I wanted.  The final result is:

Sycamore bowl 1 small


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Another woodworking update…

I’ve uploaded pics of a walnut peppermill and salt shaker I made for our friends Bruce and Laurie.  Click here for the page with pics.

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Pestle without a vessel…

No chalice from the palace or flagon with the dragon.  Instead I made an olivewood pestle, though my father-in-law has the vessels it goes with.  He inherited a couple of olivewood mortars a while ago, so I decided I’d turn an olivewood pestle for him.  Here’s a small pic (or go here).

Pestle smaller

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More Woodworking

I’ve uploaded pics of another “recent” woodworking project: a satinwood bowl for my mom.

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Woodworking Update (First of several…I hope)

I’ve been delinquent in updating my blog with poetry and especially pics of my woodworking projects.  Today I added a pic of candle holders I made for my sister…back in January.  Better late than never.  You can surf through the woodworking pages or find the candle holders here.

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Who Killed Junior Seau?

It’s been a year since NFL great Junior Seau committed suicide.  After the report that evidence of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) was found in Seau’s brain was released  in January, I wrote a poem/song titled Who Killed Junior Seau?  It was inspired by a song by Bob Dylan, Who Killed Davey Moore?, about the 1963 death of boxer Davey Moore.  It’s also written in the style of Dylan’s song, so I highly recommend reading the lyrics of Dylan’s song first, as well as listening to it if you get a chance (click here for the lyrics).  Here’s my poem:

Who Killed Junior Seau?

Who killed Junior Seau?
Why an’ what’s the reason now?

“Not I,” said the old head coach
“My methods are beyond reproach
Don’t bring me into this discussion
He never reported a single concussion
I just game-planned to win
I didn’t commit no ugly sin
It wasn’t me that made him fall
No, you can’t blame me at all”

Who killed Junior Seau?
Why an’ what’s the reason now?

“Not I,” said the football writer
“I called him a warrior and a fighter
Football’s violent, yes it’s true
but lots of other sports are too
Football is America’s Game
Don’t assign me any blame
It wasn’t me that made him fall
No, you can’t blame me at all”

Who killed Junior Seau?
Why an’ what’s the reason now?

“Not us,” said the football fans
“We paid top dollar to see the man
Make some tackles, get some sacks
An’ we always kept comin’ back
Football is entertainment, what’s the fuss
Don’t go pointin’ your finger at us
Football’s part of the American Way
Boys an’ men play it every day
It wasn’t us that made him fall
No, you can’t blame us at all”

Who killed Junior Seau?
Why an’ what’s the reason now?

“Not I,” said the offensive guard
“He played like me, he played real hard
This is nothin’ but a tragedy
Don’t go pointin’ your finger at me
I was blockin’ for my backs
An’ he was tryin’ to get some sacks
Yes I hit him, yes it’s true
But that’s what I am paid to do
It wasn’t me that made him fall
No, you can’t blame me at all”

Who killed Junior Seau?
Why an’ what’s the reason now?

“Not I,” said the League Commish
“That never ever was my wish
Football’s big business you know
We never wanted to see him go
I knew about the risks years ago
But Football’s big business you know
If we acted on those risks before
No one would want to play no more
If we tried to safen-up the game
Football’d be way too tame
It wasn’t me that made him fall
No, you can’t blame me at all”

Who killed Junior Seau?
Why an’ what’s the reason now?

“Not I,” said the man himself
As he took the magnum off the shelf
An’ pointed it at his chest
“I always tried to play me best
I always gave a hundred percent
An’ now it seems my brain has went
I’m not the man I was before
An’ I can’t take it any more
I’m hurtin’ inside, I’m tellin’ you
This is the best thing for me to do
I played so long ‘cuz I loved the game
But I’m not the only one to blame”

Who killed Junior Seau?
Why an’ what’s the reason now?

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Dr. Pitcher tells you how to vote some more

Welcome to part 2 of my “how to vote” blog posts.  I left two voting items off my last post, plus I have more to say about Mitt Romney.  Let’s start with the other stuff…

California Congressional District 15: Eric Swalwell

Swalwell’s opponent, Pete Stark, is lying about him big-time (See sfgate’s recommendation of Swalwell here).  Stark is also 81 years old—I think someone new and younger (Swalwell is 31) will better represent my concerns and needs.

Chabot-Las Positas Area Measure I: Yes

This measure is for a parcel tax to help fund the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District.  It’s not a lot of money ($28 per parcel), and it would help the district in which I work a lot.

And now for Romney…

I have more reasons not to vote for Mitt Romney.  For one, he lies more than Obama does.  That is not to say Obama doesn’t lie or say misleading things—I think it’s natural for anyone trying to get re-elected to bend the truth, use cherry-picked statistics, and resort to logical fallacies.  I’m not saying it’s good, I’m just saying it’s natural.  But Romney does it more frequently and more blatantly than Obama.  So that’s another strike against the man.

More importantly, Romney stands for something that I find personally wrong, and that hurts friends of mine: he is against marriage equality—he has signed a statement against same-sex marriage.  Why should I vote for someone who won’t let a good number of my friends marry who they want?  A person should be able to choose who he or she wants to spend the rest of his or her life with.  And I refuse to support anyone who wants to legislate that away.


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Dr. Pitcher Tells You How to Vote

This time it’s personal.

That’s right, the upcoming election features more stuff that affects me personally than any previous election.  So I am going to tell you how I’m voting (and how I’d like you to vote) on these issues.  I could try to convince you with logical arguments, with appeals to compassion for others, even with numbers and charts and graphs.  I’m not going to do that.  Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you know me, and maybe you’re even my friend.  So I’m going to tell you how these issues affect me, and maybe that will convince you.


President: Barak Obama

Mitt Romney is an ass.  Let me say that again: MITT ROMNEY IS AN ASS.  Why?  Because he vetoed my COLA, that’s why!  When I was a professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Romney was governor of Massachusetts, the state legislature approved a COLA (Cost Of Living Adjustment) salary increase of a few percent for University of Massachusetts faculty.  Romney vetoed it.  I will never forget how he tried to deal with a bad budget situation by screwing over underpaid and overworked college faculty.  If he tried that in Massachusetts, what’s to stop him trying something similar as president?  I will never forget the Mitt Romney vetoed my COLA.  Neither should you.  Vote for Barak Obama.


California Proposition 30: Yes

This is simple: help keep California’s community colleges open.  Help keep higher education available for everyone.  Help me keep my job.  I know Prop. 30 raises taxes a bit, particularly on the wealthy, but public education in California needs your help.  Why yes on Prop. 30 and not on Prop. 38?  Simply because community colleges will not see any of the additional revenue raised by Prop. 38!  Again, help me keep my job.  Vote yes on Prop. 30.


California Proposition 32: No

I agree with the principle of campaign finance reform, but Prop. 32 unequally affects union members.  Prohibiting campaign contributions for both corporations and unions seems equal enough, but it’s the prohibition on using payroll deductions that’s the problem.  Prohibiting payroll deductions (used for political purposes—nice and vague, isn’t it?) unequally affects unions and their members.  Corporations aren’t going to use payroll deductions from employees to make campaign contributions—they’ll just use other funds (profits, etc.)!  And the language of the proposition is a riot too: it’s not payroll deduction, it’s “the inherently coercive means of payroll deduction.”  WTF?!  Payroll deduction is a convenience, not coercion.  Prop. 32 is another case of trying to trick California voters into voting for inherently biased legislation.  Let me keep paying my union dues via payroll deduction.  Vote no on Prop. 32.


California Proposition 38: No

Only one of either Prop. 30 or Prop. 38 can pass.  Prop. 30 helps community colleges, Prop. 38 doesn’t.  Prop. 38 also levies a more severe tax than Prop. 30.  Don’t raise taxes too much, but help me keep my job.  Vote no on Prop. 38 (and yes on Prop. 30).


Other California Propositions

Here’s how I’m voting on some of the other California propositions, even though they don’t have as immediate an effect on me.

Prop. 31: No.  Too confusing, with unknown potential effects.

Prop. 33: No.  More false claims about potentially lower insurance.

Prop. 34: Yes.  Abolish the death penalty in California, if only to save the state money.

Prop. 35: Yes.

Prop. 36: Yes.

Prop. 37: No.  Too many exemptions.  Reading the text of the proposition I discovered that foods for sale to restaurants would be exempt from the labeling requirements!

Prop.  39: I actually haven’t decided yet.  Probably no.

Prop. 40: Yes.  The presence of this proposition on the ballot was merely to delay implementation of the state senate districts approved by the Citizens Redistricting Commission.


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