Laura Ingraham, a Fox News reporter known for her dishonesty and lack of integrity being carefully rolled up into a pseudo-Christian mess of commandments-smashing behaviors, has managed to get Twitter to discriminate against liberal veterans who dare to mention that her character profile isn’t compatible with the teachings of Jesus. This is further proof that Twitter is biased against The Left, practices inconsistent application of its own rules, and willfully and blatantly violates the rights of U.S. veterans. Anyone who doesn’t agree with Laura or Twitter, is silenced. Case in point:
I was baptized and confirmed in the United Methodist Church (a Christian church that worships Jesus) here in Grand Junction, Colorado, in middle school. Laura Ingraham does not have a unique claim to Christianity. She cannot claim harassment along religious lines, simply because another Christian mentions Jesus to her. PERIOD.
As a decorated veteran who served during two Republican wars to protect the Constitutional rights of all Americans (even hateful, brainless cads like Laura), I take exceptional offense to this unequal application of “rights” which allows a hateful shrew to enjoy her speech, while a decorated veteran is shut up. Repeatedly.
The simple truth is that most of what Lauren vomits up on Faux News is decidedly UN-Christian. As is pretty much the entire platform of the Republican Party. They have opened their arms and welcomed NAZIs, violent extremists, murderers, wife beaters, truth deniers, and the lot. You can fill out an entire ream of paper with the list of evil-doers to whom they have made their party a home.
But stand up to them on Twitter, and Elon Musk will have you suspended. So much for free speech.
If half the country and the federal government are calling you “domestic terrorists” it’s probably because you are. Take it from me, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, and former member of Pearl Harbor ASF, a reserve police and counterterrorism/civil rioting rapid response force. Republicans have thrown off the freedoms of American Democracy in exchange for the yolk of a new King.
What they call “Socialism” is merely educated society making good on the SOCIAL CONTRACT. If you’ve never heard of it, you should do some reading. Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau–and others–dedicated their lives to the study of political theory. Each arrived at the Social Contract by different means, and with different intent. But they all got there, nonetheless.
Why? Because the Social Contract is nothing more than forcing government to care for the PEOPLE as much, or more than, the “KING.” To Hobbes, life was “nasty, brutish, and short.” People were generally self-absorbed, and therefore “bad” for and to each other. The social contract allowed an authority to be raised to counterbalance the worst aspects of Man’s nature, whilst also providing for them a leveling of the playing field, not so much with respect to each other, but to the overwhelmingly thuggish nature of the world around them.
Seriously, if you call this Socialism, you simply don’t understand cause and effect. You don’t understand where we’ve come from as a species, nor where we are going! The act of caring for the People IS NOT EVIL.Only one ‘person’ can believe that, and they are THE KING.
The modern Republican Party, at Federal, State, and Local levels, is faced with becoming irrelevant. They have watched the data as closely as anyone else, and they know that party identification has been waning for years. This is most likely why they have clung to “The Big Lie” so vehemently, because they are out of sync with the nation, and rather than reevaluate their positions, they resort to theft. Or, as one evil Republican once so eloquently put it, try to drown [Democracy] as an infant in a bathtub.
Vote Blue.Veterans stand against Republican TYRANNY!
This was a really fun project! It took me a week to complete rather than the single day (ha!) that I had planned for. My wife really wants to redo our kitchen cupboards and top them off with butcher block counter tops, so this was a bit of a practice run for me. Boy am I glad for having it, too! I learned many lessons!
First, I ordered basswood blanks from Bell Forest Products. I have to confess that I did not research the company before hand (no excuse) so I have no idea about sustainability practices or fair trade policies, or anything like that. I literally just googled “basswood blanks” and voila, up they popped!
Why basswood? I lucked into working with basswood a couple of years back when I built a chest for my daughter for Christmas. It was one of the few choices for “hobby lumber” that I was able to purchase locally, in person. It’s a fairly light stock, not as light as balsa wood, but not too much heavier, either. It sands quickly and effortlessly, takes stain like a sponge, has enough structural integrity to build sizable (though not huge) projects with, and just has a damn cool name.
(Full disclosure, I’m a long-time bass player, so I may be biased.)
You don’t have to go with Bell, but at $55 the price was right for me! Here are a couple of other options, though:
Of course, I like to build with as few fasteners (nails and screws) as possible. So, you’ll need a good wood glue, and lots of it!
For this table I used a polyurethane spray around the edges (3 heavy coats) and a glaze coat epoxy kit for the work surface.
Last, but not least, I fastened the whole thing to a set of black pipe table legs. These come in many shapes, sizes, and styles. Here are some of my favorites:
First, I laid out the pieces of basswood as they would be arranged in the finished project. I then snapped a photo, and began planning out all of my laser etchings:
The laser etcher that I used was by LaserPecker. I ordered the deluxe version (thanks to the S.B.A.), but it comes in many different configurations. Here are a couple of them:
I then glued together only the 3- and 4-piece blocks that would have to be glued together prior to etching. This was primarily necessary for the 4 portraits, but also for the H.S.T. Gonzo emblem and the ship’s seal for the USS Reuben James, etcetera. From there each individually etched piece was processed through the LaserPecker and assembled, piece by piece, to form the entire surface of the table.
I stained the surface and edges of the desk, then flipped it over and glued four 1 x 4 furring strips cut to match the depth of the tabletop. This may or may not have been necessary, but it gave me piece of mind in the sense that it shores up potential structural integrity issues with the butcher block pieces by adding cross supports that bridge most, if not all, of the basswood blanks with the others.
Next, I flipped the whole thing back over and created a basin for the epoxy resin (glaze coat) using several layers of tightly pulled painter’s tape. Glaze coat pours out pretty thick, and maintains a high viscosity all the way through to curing (hardening). This gives it what the manufacturer calls a “self-leveling” quality, which is probably just marketing hype, but it’s also not untrue. You have to work the liquid around a bit to make sure that it gets into all areas, but once it has contact with the entire area, thicknesses pretty much level out on their own thanks to gravity and time.
The key is to have a heat gun or flame available to work out as many of the bubbles that you will inevitably find trapped in the goo–once it is spread evenly–as possible. If you miss this step, you will get dimples and holes where the bubbles remained during curing. They are actually pretty easy to coax up through the gelatinous epoxy, so long as you warm the goop from a proper distance and don’t overheat or boil it. I found that a heat gun was also good for fine tuning the spread of the resin, as it was able to move the material without leaving behind a depression in the surface like the mixing paddle did.
Anyway, the rest is pretty much self-explanatory. Please do watch the time-lapse above of me building this project as described in this blog post.
In the face of the COVID pandemic, which only exacerbated my already shaky financial situation, Mad Squid Productions™ could easily have dwindled away into nothing more than the memory of a dream I once had. I was fired from the only good job I’ve had since leaving the Navy in 2003, on Trump’s Inauguration Day. Luckily for me, I had my personal projects at Mad Squid to keep me going. And my food delivery gigs.
In 2018 I became certified by the FAA as a Part 107 commercial drone pilot, and I was gradually figuring out ways to make money with my drone. But when the pandemic hit, my 2-year recurrent test was coming up, and I didn’t see much point in renewing my license if I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere and fly. Procrastination set in, and a few political distractions like January 6th and my TikTok account, and before I knew it a whole year had passed with my drone never leaving the ground.
I do many things under the moniker of Mad Squid Productions™. I sell 3D statues on Second Life. I make MEMEs. I have a handful of social media accounts. I publish music, every decade or two. I do amateur blacksmithing. And on, and on, and on. But the only reliable–and scalable–money maker in the bunch has been my drone piloting.
That money has come primarily in the form of stock media sales, not from for-hire work. I have sold numerous stills and 4k videos captured from the air with my DJI Mavic Air on Pond 5,Shutterstock, and Getty Images, as well as aerial imagery for the Australian mapping company SOAR. There have been a few for-hire gigs, all of them attained through the Drone Base app, but they amounted to less than $1k in all, and often resulted in wasted days and travel time. This was because I would be hired for a gig 100 miles away, only to arrive on site to find that the cloud cover didn’t meet requirements for the gig, or that there was too much snow on the roof, etcetera.
Then, my laptop battery began to expand. My external drives gradually began to fail. My licenses for music and sound f/x expired, and I couldn’t afford to renew them. I had lots of designs for products like posters and metal or glass wall hangers, shirts, hats, etcetera, but zero capital to purchase inventory. Everything that could go wrong with Mad Squid, was going wrong. It was all snowballing on me, and it seemed that the forecast looking ahead would only get colder.
And then the U.S. Small Business Administration stepped in and gave me renewed hope! This is not a joke! First, they approved me for a long term, low interest loan which allowed me to replace my laptop and storage drives. Then, they approved me for a pair of grants that have allowed me to pay off my work car, which I use for both my delivery gig work and my drone missions, upgrade my phone (which is also my camera and drone controller) and, finally, renew my drone license! As of yesterday, I am officially licensed under 14CFR Part 107 to fly drones commercially, again!
Of course, this has caused me to dig back through my 2018 and 2019 drone imagery to consider an improved filing nomenclature that will allow my collection to continue to grow without it becoming impossible to find anything specific. Combine that with the fact that TikTok recently approved me to upload 3 minute videos, and you’ve got a recipe for me to release a TON of content to that platform. In turn, once that is set up and running on auto-pilot, this will free me up to focus on other areas of content there. And, of course, I’ll be flying new drone missions to capture brand new, awesome drone footage.
I recently decided to start making stickers and videos in direct response to trending hashtags on the discover page of my TikTok feed. Over the weekend, I saw the #SugarCrash (often misspelled as #SugarCrush) hashtag and thought it might be fun to make my own version. While it would have been more canon to open with a shot of how many likes @thenickluciano got on his video, then cut to a CU of me making the, “why not?” face. But this music video is much more my style:
But my version has yet to even break 100 views. It certainly hasn’t raked in the hundreds of thousands of views and likes that I was hoping for. So…
Am I shadow banned, or am I really just that boring?
Anyway, while I sit here pondering that question, why don’t you go grab yourself a copy of the song and try your hand at this trend?
At this moment I am feeling giddy. That’s right, giddy, like a puppy with a new friend. But for me, that friend is you! I mean that quite literally. It must be true, too, because at least 13 Million of you have taken the time to direct your ocular sensors at one of my GIFs on Giphy. And, if I’m reading the stats right, it’s going to be much higher tomorrow. (They update the posted numbers daily.)
This new success is the culmination of a long battle with both Tenor and Giphy. I still don’t know if it was something I uploaded, or if it was the simple fact that my account was created through Facebook and never had it’s own individual login credentials. Both are potential theories that I have developed. But the truth could just as easily be something else. I’ve had social media accounts deleted on me, which were listed as official channels for my brand. Just one additional example of another theory. I may never know how or why things got to where they did, but I do know what fixed things: I deleted my account.
Once I severed cleanly, and began again from scratch with a fully credentialed, independent account, success came quickly. I began uploading both old and new content, with a strong focus on stickers, specifically for use on the TikTok platform. In creating new content, I try to be responsive to what I’m seeing on my #FYP. For instance, in one week I saw several friends, both old and new, announce that they were launching a 10-part series on this or that.
One source of inspiration was a video created by an elderly gentlemen who very publicly took three or four TikToks just to figure out how not to stop recording himself mid-recording. In this video, he bravely announced that he would be starting his first 10-part series! Knowing that this could be an uphill battle for a guy or gal like that–and wanting them to succeed at it anyway–sparked an idea for a group of ten “Part [X]” stickers, so that their 10-parters could have a consistent professional look with minimal effort:
And so I carried on like that, even dabbling into a little bit of sports related art, which is not germane to my particular personal identity. Then, seriously, just two afternoons ago, I saw that my stickers had reached what I saw as a massive milestone: 500k views!
I was so proud that I brought it up to my son Hunter the next evening, and when I went to show him proof, the number had jumped to 750k. Hunter was actually impressed, and commented that I had nearly a millionpeople looking at my art. (The rarest of things in my home, a heartfelt compliment from one of the kids. 😉
I was ecstatic about this, and would have been completely satisfied had it stopped there. But it didn’t…
This morning I logged in to see that my 500k views had skyrocketed to over 13 million! No joke… 13 MILLION views:
My son isn’t even awake yet to share this exciting news with. But he will be soon, and I am really looking forward to having another positive interaction with him. But it gets even better! I dug around in my uploaded catalog, the dashboard, and analytics page(s) to see if I could glean more specific information, and what I discovered made my jaw drop! That number above, 13.8M, is the total published up to yesterday. That number updates once per day. I have reason to believe now, that this will jump to over 30 MILLION VIEWS tomorrow.
How? Oddly, it turns out to be one specific GIF that is driving almost all of this exposure thus far, though I believe it will have a synergistic effect on the rest of my catalog in time. Amazingly, that one GIF, when I checked it this morning, appears to have reached 33, 340, 250 views by itself!
I am truly exuberant about this, and have no intention of stopping any time soon. I would really like to maintain the tradition of being responsive to my community rather than just pumping out content that I like and want to use. As such, I am open to suggestions and requests. The design process is fairly short, a few hours generally, but the turn around is lightning fast once the GIF is uploaded to my catalog. New stickers generally appear, ready for search and for use by the TikTok community, within a matter of 10 minutes. Groups of stickers seem to take longer to sort through the system, but do eventually make it online the same day.
All of this to say: I’M TAKING REQUESTS! Leave one in a comment! Mmmmmmkay?