Monday, February 29, 2016

Sewing machine project

I'm still gloating over my great treadle sewing machine, but yesterday I started to realize just how very DIRTY it actually is. I took the faceplate off the front, and ewwww... Brownish-black, greasy, and FURRY with dust and lint! It was kept oiled, but I don't think it was cleaned very often, if ever.


I got out my can of Nev-R-Dull metal cleaner: it's not a cream, it's a thick roll of chemical-soaked cotton. You pull off bits of it to clean the grime off metal. Canadian Tire has it in the automotive section. Through a lot of rubbing, I managed to get a lot off the discoloration off the plate. It's now nice and shiny. But there's still the interior of the machine to deal with.

I've ordered a book from Amazon.ca on cleaning and fixing old sewing machines. We're still about 2 months away from being able to do anything in the garden, so this will keep me busy for the interval.

I did find one thing was damaged - not with the sewing machine, but with the cabinet. I couldn't figure out why the little side plate next to the machine wouldn't stay up when the machine was lifted up out of the case. I finally saw that there was a strong spring right at the back that didn't appear to be connected to anything. The end of that spring has broken off; it's supposed to stretch out like a finger underneath the side plate. When the machine is lowered down into the case, the weight of the machine holds it down. When the machine is lifted up, the spring holds the plate up in position. All I have to do is replace the spring.

I've looked on eBay, but so far all I see are spring/plate units for sale which, with the shipping, would cost almost as much as the whole cabinet and machine cost me at the auction! No way am I going to pay that much for a spring. If necessary, I'll just leave the plate hanging down into the cabinet; it's not essential for the operation of the machine, it just serves as a sort of dust protector and (I think) keeps the leather belt from slipping off the machine and falling down into the case when the machine is lowered. Putting the belt back on is not much trouble.

What I think I'll do, though, is keep prowling through thrift shops and this summer go to more auctions, and see if I can find a cast-off cabinet with that spring mechanism intact. I could probably buy one for $10 or less, take the spring and throw the rest of it away. It's by far the most economical plan.

Meanwhile, I don't have a very good picture of the cleaned-up front plate, because it reflected the flash, but here's what it looks like after a simple attempt to take off the surface grime. Once I get my book, I'll go at it more seriously.

Oh, and one nice thing I discovered: all the attachments that came with my 201K sewing machine (the one I got for ONE DOLLAR CANADIAN) at an auction last year!) also fit the older model 15! So now I have additional feet, besides the one original one it came with.

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Interesting prediction of Trump victory

I thought this was interesting when I read it, and I just want to post it here so I can find it later on in the election cycle.

Professor Helmut Norpoth, at Stony Brook University, claims to have developed a statistical model for correctly forecasting American presidential elections. His method apparently correctly forecast the elections from 1996 onward, and when data for past elections was plugged into it, it "chose" the actual winner of every election since 1912, with the exception of 1960. (Interesting exception!)

Norpoth began the presentation with an introduction of the potential matchups in the general election, including a hypothetical Sanders vs. Trump general election.

“When I started out with this kind of display a few months ago, I thought it was sort of a joke.” Norpoth said referring to Trump and Sanders, as many alumni in the audience laughed. “Well, I’ll tell you right now, it ain’t a joke anymore.”

As the presentation continued, laughter turned to silence as Norpoth forecasted a 61 percent chance of a Republican win in the general election....

Norpoth then added data from the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries to narrow down the forecast to specific candidates. As he brought up the first slide with matchup results, the silence was broken by muttering from the audience.

“Trump beats Hillary 54.7 percent to 45.3 percent [of the popular vote]. This is almost too much to believe.” Norpoth said, with a few members of the audience laughing nervously. “The probability of that [outcome] is almost complete certainty, 97 percent. It’s almost ‘Take it to the bank.’ ”

The primary model predicts a Trump victory with such certainty due to Trump’s relatively high success in the Republican primaries, Norpoth said. Clinton, in comparison, is in an essential tie with Sanders in the Democratic primaries. As a result, Sanders would also lose to Trump in a similar landslide if Sanders were to be the Democratic nominee, Norpoth said.
It'll be interesting to see if his model holds up as the election approaches. It seems to me very risky to be coming out with a prediction like this so early, which leads me to think that he must be looking at the likelihood of a blowout for Trump. Just as ridings can be "called" for a candidate with only 5% of returns counted if the margin of victory is big enough, his model must be showing such overwhelming results, he isn't even bothering to wait for Super Tuesday. It could be a gimmick, of course, just to get attention. But if I had a record of near 100% accuracy, I'd think twice before throwing it away just to gain some short term notoriety.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Stop the revolution, I want to get off!

Ace at Ace of Spades HQ has just announced that his little fling with revolution is over.

Trump is just too beastly for a respectable Republican to associate with.
Why I am I banging on about Trump's lack of knowledge and thinking on these thoughts?

Because, unlike many, I don't consider thinking and knowledge to be enemies of conservatism and principle. Rather, I consider them to be essential to it.

If you're going to be a conservative -- if you're going to fight the very powerful cultural forces that surround us and push liberalism on us as the easy path you won't get beat up for -- you'd better have some damn good reasons for doing so, or you'll come apart like a cheap suit.
The catalyst seems to have been the debate last night. Ace seems to have been transfixed by Trump's performance; he can't stop talking about how he got his ass kicked, that Rubio and Cruz exposed him, that "last night We Saw a Golden God Bleed Thin Red Blood", and that this leaves his supposed "invincibility and inevitability" in tatters. He actually went so far as to claim this this debate was "a gamechanger", and that "The whole race is now reset," though he was persuaded to dial the hyperbole back a bit. Why a hardly-watched debate would have this effect, when actually losing the Iowa caucus didn't is not explained. I'd have thought losing the first contest would have been the moment when the illusion of invincibility would crumble, but Trump has only grown stronger since then.

But debate performance seems now to be the standard by which a presidential candidate stands or falls. This is Ace's teaching moment:
Let me remind everyone what knowledge, deep thinking over years of consideration, and conviction can get you.

Let me remind everyone of Ronald Reagan's and Robert F. Kennedy's "Great debate" in 1967. A major issue was Vietnam (though Reagan did also take the time to call for the Berlin Wall "to disappear.")

Robert F. Kennedy, the great hope of liberals and intellectuals and liberals who wrongly believe themselves to be intellectuals, got completely obliterated, despite being on the more popular side of the Vietnam War debate.

Why? Because Reagan knew every damn thing that was required to have an opinion, and to defend an opinion, on Vietnam.
So we're supposed to be awestruck at the power of Ronald Reagan to... win a debate? That's a great skill to have, but I just don't feel it's the most important aspect of being President.

The timing of this screed is pretty surprising. Exactly one month ago, January 25, Ace wrote this:
The Establishment has a gameplan. The gameplan is to manage their voters and leave them with little choice but to accept the agenda they've set for us.

Here is what they are hoping: "Sure, the base will squawk and make big noises and rant on the internet, and sure, Rush Limbaugh will hit us, but if we just remain absolutely implacable, unwilling to budge an inch, eventually they will get over their temper tantrum and accept that We Always Win So There's No Use Resisting."

Now, obviously, amnesty is a major part of the Establishment's platform. In their 2012 post-mortem, the consultants, who are super-smart and know everything, made amnesty a central plank to winning in 2016.

The same as they'd previously thought it was the key to winning in 2006, 2008, 2010, etc...

Now, if we all squawk, and make noise, and have our tantrum, but then, in the end, dutifully support an Amensty Super-Hawk like Marco Rubio, precisely as the Establishment always planned for us to do, do you think they'll take that as a repudiation, and a sign that they must reform?

Or do you think, rather, they'll take that as a sign that they calculated the political math perfectly, and they knew our numbers to three decimal places, and they did everything right, and have successfully Managed their stupid, three-toothed inbred voters yet again?

Of course it's the latter.

They could not possibly take the nomination of Marco Rubio any other way. They would take it as total and complete vindication -- and they'd be right to do so, because it would in fact be total and complete vindication.

That's why, for me, Rubio cannot be permitted to win. For me -- you don't have to agree; we're all different, and we all have different priorities -- the Establishment cannot be permitted to walk out of this with a big W.

Even if I lose the election, an even worse outcome would be if I lose, and they win.
Today he writes this:
>>> So are we still burning it down or what?

i'm not in favor of that any more. A while back I wondered "Would it be enough to just scare the shit out of them?" At that time I thought, "No, it's not enough; they'll recover from having the shit scared out of them and go back to business as usual in a week."

But this guy is convincing me he's such a complete disaster now I think I have to settle for just scaring them.

Choose Cruz.
It's as if Martin Luther decided that all those nails were really damaging the woodwork on the Wittenberg church door, and the Pope would probably learn his lesson if he sent him a dirty limerick instead.

At the moment it's "Choose Cruz", but Cruz may not survive Super Tuesday. What then? I see only 2 choices: support Rubio, a complete 180° turn from this position of only a month ago, or hope for a brokered convention in June. And thus would vanish Ace's last pretense of opposing the GOP establishment, which has given us Failure Theater and donor-driven campaigns for amnesty and H-1B visas.

Ace still TALKS about wanting Trumpism Without Trump, yet with no idea of how it can be gotten. And he sneers at Donald Trump for talking wildly and without carefully researching his positions! I can't imagine how he thinks this will not damage his reputation, or his traffic, but I think that already a large number of Trump supporters have departed. The loudest Trump-bashers have had the run of the place for at least a week now, and I've noticed that there are few who bother to engage them in arguments anymore. I think they've just slipped away to more comfortable climes, like HotGas.net, where most of the refugees from HotAir.com regrouped.

In the end, it just comes down to timidity. Men without chests think they want change and revolution, but when it involves discomfort they retreat back to safety.
If this is all just squawking and we all just want to be Managed by the Ruling Class into doing what they've decided is Best for us -- then by all means, vote for Marco Rubio.

Just let them know that at the end of the day, all you want to do is bark a little. Then, having barked your little stupid puppy heart out, you'll roll over and show them your belly, yet again.
Or as Hilaire Belloc wrote,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse,
For fear of finding something worse.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A new addition to my collection

Country auctions are usually a summertime thing for me. Half the fun is driving out into the countryside on a sunny day, with the car windows open, and just enjoying passing by the little villages and farms on the way. Someone writing about Jane Austen once said that her novels still appeal to us today because deep down, in our true selves, we all live in the country.

But a few auctions still go on in the winter, and I check the listings on The Auction Fever just to see what's going on.

Last week an auction came up in Lanark, about an hour out of town, and in the listing they mentioned a Singer sewing machine. There was a picture of some jumbled furniture, and sure enough, an old sewing machine sitting among it all. But looking closely at the sewing machine, I thought I could see something coming down from the balance wheel at the end. It looked like ribbon. Could it be that this was... a treadle machine? It was sitting on a wooden desk, and I saw one small door open at the bottom. I started searching pictures of Singer sewing machine cabinets, and then I hit the jackpot. What I was looking at was this:

A Singer parlour cabinet. Unlike the usual stand with the metal foot pedal and side gears open to view, this closes up and becomes a piece of living room furniture. (Looks a bit like a wine cabinet.) It was impossible to tell from the picture what sort of condition it was in, but I felt it was worth a trip out to Lanark just to check it out.

When I saw it, it was all folded up, with a saddle sitting on top of it. I uncovered it then started opening the doors and pulling up the machine. This was not the super-deluxe model of the cabinet, with a button that you'd press that would activate a spring and cause the sewing machine to rise up out of the depths. The machine folded down into the cabinet like all the later cabinets. It looked very old, and the leather belt was detached and wrapped around the balance wheel. But when I pressed the treadle with my hand it moved easily, and the wheel at the side of the cabinet revolved as well. The machine itself had a nice smooth action, almost soft as the wheel went round and the needle went up and down. The cabinet was in pretty good shape, though very dusty. Some of the veneer had flaked off, but the doors all opened and closed easily, so it wasn't warped or broken.

Long story short, I bought it for $55. I started at $25, but one other person bid it up to $35, and then mine was the last bid. It was darn heavy, but I managed to haul it out to the car on a dolly, then a man helped me lift it into the trunk. It's always so nice going out into the country; there are ALWAYS men who'll help a lady wrangle a piece of furniture into the car! I never count on that sort of thing here in town.

Dean helped me get it into the house the next day, and then I went online to find out what I could. The machine had a serial number, and by going to the Singer serial number database I discovered that it was a model 15, built in 1909! Here are some pictures of the case and the machine:

The cabinet has a mahogany veneer; you can see a bit coming off the bottom of the door at the lower left. I don't know what the actual wood underneath is - probably pine. I'm going to get it professionally restored, and I may be able to get a key that fits the left-hand door on eBay.

I think the decals on the machine are called "Tiffany" or "Gingerbread". The colours make it look rather like a Tiffany window.

I saw pictures of other machines with these decals, and figured that mine had been a simplified version, without any center design. Then I looked closely and realized that the design on the center and lower left area had completely worn off! That's how much this machine had been used! Some say that results in a very well broken-in, smooth functioning machine, and it's certainly the case with this one. It must have been well maintained right up until the time it was put into storage.

When I pulled back the throat plate, I was disappointed to find that the bobbin case was not in the machine. I figured I'd have to go online and buy a replacement, but then I recalled that I'd seen a few bobbins in one of the drawers. There, right at the back, was a bobbin and the bobbin case! A little rusty inside, but I cleaned it with some metal cleaner, and it was perfectly good. There was no manual, but I found one online and threaded the machine, needle and all. Turning the balance wheel with my hand, I was able to sew a line of stitches!


Now I've ordered a new leather band for the treadle, and I'll be able to sew with it! I'm going to try to clean and polish up the machine, as well as give it a good oiling. Now I'm the ultimate prepper; when the grid goes down, I'll be able to keep us alive by sewing! And I even have a brass iron from India that you fill with hot coals, so I can sew AND iron!

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Odd dream

I had one of those dreams the other night, where you tell yourself, "This must mean something."

I was in a church, and there was a little box for collecting money for the poor. I put in a coin, and suddenly it started disgorging coins from the bottom, like a slot machine! Lots and lots of coins, of different countries, plus holy medals and a lot of junk too, like old erasers and dice and you name it. Finally it produced a big garland of artificial flowers! I thought of "The Jewels of the Madonna", an opera by Wolf-Ferrari, and put them around the neck of a sleeping monk, thinking how pleased he'd be when he woke up. Obviously, a LOT more came out of the box than it could have possibly contained.

Well, when I saw all the money, my first impulse was to keep it, but then I thought better of it and resolved to put it back in the box. "I'll just keep the holy medals," I thought. My attention kept being distracted and every time I went back to the horde of loot, I found it was smaller and smaller. Finally, everything had disappeared: the coins, the holy medals, bits of jewellery, everything. All that was left was 2 rosaries, which I took with me.

Maybe it's my subconscious view of the church today: all its treasures are vanishing, and soon there will be only a tiny support left.

Or maybe it's MY experience in the Church: being dazzled by all the spiritual wealth and security I thought was there, only to see it slipping away and leaving me (nearly) empty-handed.

Whatever it is, I've started saying the rosary during odd times of the day. It can't hurt, after all.