Joe Biden and Education; His History and Opinions

by Kelly R. Smith

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Joe Biden orating at the podium
Joe Biden orating at the podium

Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden isn’t exactly cutting a broad swath on the campaign trail. He seems to have his own cloak of invisibility, only occasionally emerging from his basement bunker. When he does, he calls it a day before noon. In the bunker he does “live, candid, off-the-cuff interviews” with the questions and answers on a teleprompter. Seemingly, his handlers don’t let him ad lib because of his strange gaffes and confused speech about all topics. Joe Biden and the topic of education is no exception.

Atlantic writer Mark Bowden has a very forgiving opinion of Biden’s tenuous relationship with the truth. In a 2010 piece where depicted the then-vice president as having “the limber storyteller’s tendency to stretch.”

Joe Biden’s Education

The real Joe Biden graduated from the University of Delaware in 1965 and Syracuse University in 1968. In his previous failed presidential campaign years he bragged that he finished in the top half of his law school class. The truth is that he finished 76th place out of 85 students in his graduating class at Syracuse law school and not even the most forgiving of rounding errors could place him in the neighborhood of the 50th percentile. Math or hyperbole?

Here is where Biden’s memory starts to take a strange twist — the Western Journal tells us that, “Last autumn, for instance, he told a town hall in South Carolina that he ‘got started out’ at Delaware State University. He actually attended the University of Delaware.”

Delaware State is a historically black university. Biden told the audience, “I got started out at an HBCU, Delaware State,” he told the audience, eliciting laughter. “Now I don’t want to hear anything negative about Delaware State here. They’re my folks.” Delaware State has since confirmed that Biden had never been a student there.

Your ever-so-humble blogger there may have grey hair, but he still remembers graduating for the University of Houston not high in my class. But then again, I’m not running for President.

Revisionist History Makes for Good Pandering

Biden is far from conservative candidate. If so, the media would fact-check him. But since that doesn’t happen, he is emboldened. Speaking at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Biden told a real whopper, speaking to a predominately black audience. The Daily Mail quotes him, “‘Why in God’s name don’t we teach history in history classes. A black man invested the light bulb not a white guy named Edison. There’s so much. Did anybody know?”

False. Blatantly false. Black man Lewis Howard Latimer, who later worked with Edison, invented the carbon filament which allowed light bulbs to continuously shine.

Let’s just say that Joe Biden and the topic of education do not make good bedfellows. It is to be expected that in the world of politics the truth will be stretched or circumvented to some extent, but Uncle Joe seems to have gone off the rails. I can’t wait to see what emerges at the presidential debates as he faces President Trump. And the fact-checking will not be coming from the mainstream media. What do you think? Please answer the poll on the right.



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

What to Know About the 2020 Presidential Debates

by Kelly R. Smith

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Donald Trump-Joe Biden 2020 Presidential Debate
Donald Trump-Joe Biden 2020 Presidential Debate

The much-awaited 2020 Presidential debates are upon us at last. President Donald Trump holds sway over the Republican corner, facing off against prior Vice President Joe Biden on the Democrat ticket.

There has been a question of whether the debates would be held at all. Some pundits bemoaned the COVID-19 pandemic. Nancy Pelosi has tried to shut them down more than once. Her rationale is that Trump is to be dismissed. The Washington Examiner quotes her as saying, “I do not think that the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that has any association with truth, evidence, data, and facts. I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him, nor a debate.”

The word on the street, however, is that Biden’s handlers are loathe to let him speak because of his continual gaffes and losing his place, mumbling, getting facts mixed up, and forgetting where he is. As for Trump, he is expected to speak off the cuff as usual but none of his inner circle is trying to take him out of the ring. Here are topics we might expect to be addressed.

Likely Debate Topics

  • The Trump and Biden Records. No surprise here; this is akin to a job interview. Trump has had great success with the economy, foreign relations, strengthening the military, and creating a robust economy. Biden had no real accomplishments as VP under former President Obama. Biden’s record on race relations is smoke and mirrors. Showing nepotism so his son could use government resources to make personal business deals might show its ugly head.


  • The Supreme Court. This will be an interesting topic. Trump is in a hurry to appoint a new judge before the election following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Democrats are currently in quite the tizzy over the prospect, and rightly so; United States Supreme Court Justice appointments are for life and the institution has “assumed” much more power over the years than the Constitution originally granted it. Truly, it has become a deity unto itself with virtually as much power as the executive branch.
  • COVID-19. This is where I expect to see a lot of fireworks. For a while now, Nancy Pelosi, AOC, and the Far Left Wing have been showering fecal matter on Trump on this COVID-19 timeline topic. Their boilerplate line is mismanagement. Unfortunately, this observation doesn’t hold water and they know it (another reason to keep Biden from debating). According to cnnsnews, when Trump called for a travel ban from China right away, he was labeled a racist. When it worked they said he didn’t act soon enough. Can’t have it both ways and this will become obvious if the debate goes there. Biden is on the ropes here again; go with the party-line and be creamed by fact-checkers or avoid the subject and lose credibility.
  • The Economy. Once again, Joe will have a hard time. He and President Obama held sway over one of the most tepid recoveries ever and did their best to impede progress with “progressive” policy. Trump turned it around and produced the strongest economy in U.S. history.
  • Race and Violence in our Cities. This has risen to a critical level. BLM and Antifa are beating, burning, killing, and looting every day. Trump can list his attempts to rein it in and Biden’s record this year show that he has supported or at best turned a blind eye to the anarchy. And over the years he has misrepresented his position on race relations and his part in the civil rights movement when it was politically expedient.
  • The Integrity of the Election. This is such a broad and historied topic that it could go in any direction. Hanging chads, the electoral college, misplaced ballot boxes, bused-in voters, mail-in ballots, you name it. It is fodder for accusations but facts are facts. Only a narrow space is left for spin.

When and Where are the Debates?

The presidential debates are Sept. 29 in Cleveland, Oct. 15 in Miami, and Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tenn. The vice-presidential debate is Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah. They all start at 9 p.m. ET and will run 90 minutes without commercial interruption. The debates will be shown live on channels including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and C-Span. You will also be able to stream the debate live on WSJ.com and YouTube.

I’m looking forward to the first of the 2020 Presidential debates, and the subsequent ones of course, although generally, the first sets the tone and is the most impressionable on voters. Stay tuned because I will be reporting on each one.



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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Justin Hicks, Running for City Council in League City, Texas, 2020

by Kelly R. Smith

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Justin Hicks is running on a conservative ticket for city council in League City, Texas this November. League City is located roughly halfway between Houston and Galveston and a scant few miles from NASA. Here is a short video where he introduces himself.

Justin Hicks introducing himself

Hicks’ Platform Details

In the following video, hicks goes on to enumerate his policies on specific topics and how he plans to represent his position on the city council.

I support Hicks and his conservative agenda. I believe there is a reason why the economy in Texas is so much better than some other states. But the takeaway here is that citizens of all political stripes need to come out and vote. As Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.”

Don’t forget to watch the presidential debates.

Further Reading



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Abe Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: Interesting Facts

by Kelly R. Smith

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Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation
Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation

Today (September 22) is the anniversary of the day in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. The intent was to grant the freedom of more than 3 million slaves in the United States. Of course, we all learned this in school, along with other historical facts, such as the accomplishments of Theodore Roosevelt. But, there is more to the picture.

5 Interesting Facts about the Emancipation Proclamation

  • It Didn’t Actually Free All the Slaves. As a matter of fact, the proclamation didn’t even give freedom to a majority of slaves. The document is popularly seen now as an inclusive reform, but in actuality it said that the slaves living in states that were still rebelling as of January 1, 1863, would become free. However, not the slaves residing in states that decided to stop rebelling, or slaves residing in states that had never actively rebelled, or in those in Union territories. It only included those in approximately 10 states that still had an opportunity to cease fighting. However, the Proclamation was a key step towards beginning the emancipation process for all slaves. Baby steps as they say. As time marched on, so did the civil rights movement.
  • The Emancipation Proclamation was Issued Twice. President Lincoln issued the first Emancipation Proclamation on September 22nd of 1862. It specified that if the states in the south didn’t deist from rebelling by January 1st of 1863, then the Proclamation would go into effect. But the Confederacy did not yield. Therefore, Honest Abe issued the final version of the Proclamation on January 1st of 1863.
  • The Proclamation Wasn’t Technically a Law. You didn’t see that coming, did you? It was actually an order, not a law, and “technically” didn’t stop slavery. States that were Union-friendly got to keep slaves according to the details of the Proclamation (recall that it focused on rebel states). But Lincoln pushed for the proclamation and the end of slavery to be made law. The result was the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. This passed in 1865 and ended slavery in all the states. Steady progress; as the Irish say, “The road to Heaven is well signposted, but it’s badly lit at night,” meaning that life has many challenges in store for us but the reward is well worth it.
  • It Allowed Blacks to Join the Union Armed Forces. A detail in the Emancipation Proclamation that never get a lot of attention in history class is that it opened the door to allowing Blacks join the military. Blacks had already started fighting in a variety of ways. Many were in the Confederate forces in the role of slaves. In 1861, Congress passed the First Confiscation Act. This act gave freedom to all the slaves in the Confederate military, whether as soldiers or workers. Next, during 1862, all-Black regiments loyal to the Union were formed. By the time the war was over, more than 200,000 Blacks would serve in the Union Army and Navy.


President Abraham Lincoln considered the Emancipation Proclamation the most important and transformative part of his legacy. He said, “I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper. If my name ever goes into history it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it.”


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Live Free or Die by Sean Hannity — a Book Review

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Sean Hannity -- Live Free or Die
Sean Hannity — Live Free or Die

My book review of the new Sean Hannity book — Live Free or Die; America and the World On The Brink (ISBN-10 : 1982149973). I’ve got the Audible.com version which I enjoyed on my 5-mile daily dog-walks, but the hard copy is also available.

So. Sean Hannity. People either love him or hate him, they are rarely on the fence. What I like about him is that like me, at the end of the day, he’s just a working class stiff. 20+ years as a carpenter will do that to you. He was a painter and waiter among other things. Contrast that with Joe Biden who likes to project the image but has no gravitas. Hey, Man!

What the Book Covers

The title is not all that descriptive of the content in my opinion. But, in a broad sense it does describe what’s going on. The book is reminiscent of an extended Sean Hannity radio show, minus the commercials and weather reports. In other words, he gives his conservative opinion but all backed up with hard facts. In my view, this work is just as important as The United States of Trump by Bill O’Reilley. Opinion backed up with hard, documented facts.

This book is a timeline history, compare and contrast, with previous administrations and Trump’s. So how are all these facts a clarion call to Live Free or Die, you might ask yourself? The answer of course, is Trump’s vision to make all citizens more free and prosperous.

Forces Dragging America Down

Yes, there are forces dragging America down even as Trump’s economy is building up employment and home ownership. As Hannity points out, these forces are deeply embedded in and guided from the far left.

Don’t take my word for it. Hannity lays it out in excruciating detail in this book, fact after fact. If you are not a fact and trivia junkie like me, this book might not be for you. On the other hand, if you seek verifiable truth, dig in.

I really found Live Free or Die to be very informative and entertaining but it’s not light reading/listening. Take your time with it and allow time to look up references, if you like. This book is particularly timely considering tat the general elections are almost upon us. Vote Socialist or American traditional values. You have a choice.

September is National Preparedness Month

by Kelly R. Smith

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Street flooding leads to disaster
Street flooding leads to disaster

Ready.gov (owned by the Department of Homeland Security) says, “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.” Good point. We never thought our neighborhood would flood, but it did. While we had flood insurance, others did not and had to rely on FEMA. The city has been ignoring drainage issues for years, all the while issuing building permits willy-nilly. Concrete surfaces don’t absorb rain water. At some point, we will all experience fire, earthquake, or a hurricane. This is how Ready.gov suggests that we prepare.

Week 1: Make a Plan

Make your plan now. You and your family may not be together if a disaster happens, so it is key to understand which types of disasters could affect your area. You should all know how you’ll contact each other and reconnect if you become separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.

Week 2: Build a Kit

Following an emergency, you might need to survive on your own for days. Being prepared means having your own stock of food, water and other supplies to last for several days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

Walk-in food survival pantry
Walk-in food survival pantry

In my own home, I built a pantry off the kitchen. We keep it stocked with food, water, prescription medicine, and a camp stove. Basically, the room is our kit. And we even keep a stock of toilet paper. We all remember the empty shelves when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out!

Week 3: Prepare for Disaster

Hurricanes are dangerous and can cause major damage because of storm surge, wind damage, and flooding. Don’t wait to do things like removing old dead tree limbs and securing things that have the potential to become projectiles. It’s a good idea to have a firearm and a stock of ammo. Just look at what Antifa and BLM are doing in our streets and society hasn’t broken down yet! No one is going to respond to your 911 call after a certain point.

Know what disasters and/or hazards might affect your area, how to get emergency alerts (an emergency crank-operated radio), and where you would go if you and your family need to evacuate.  Make sure your family has a plan and practices it often.

Don’t wait until the day before to try to find plywood, batteries, and other items.

Week 4: Teach Your Kids About Disasters

Talk to your children about being prepared for emergencies. They need to understand what to do in case you are separated. Make them feel at ease by providing information about how they can get involved. Work out scenarios and the proper responses.

National Preparedness Month is easy when it is broken down like this. The process of divide and conquer works well and gives you time to consider things you have not anticipated.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Who Needs a Flu Vaccine Shot and When

by Kelly R. Smith

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Getting a Seasonal Flu Shot
Getting a Seasonal Flu Shot

This article was updated on 09/25/20.


As of this writing, flu shots have become available for the expected flu season which we will experience roughly between October and May. Anyone can catch the flu (influenza) but at a higher risk are:

  • Infants and young children.
  • People 65 years of age and over.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People with pre-existing health conditions or a weakened immune system.

Why Get Your Flu Shot Early

This year is different. Everybody and their brother are more cognizant of health issues and transmittable illnesses. The COVID-19 pandemic, with it’s associated fashion statement of face masks, already has everybody woke to virus culture. In light of that, it’s not a stretch to assume that more immunization naysayers will be queuing up for an influenza shot.

I got mine today at my local Kroger, where I get my blood pressure medication prescription filled. It’s free with my health insurance. Out of curiosity I asked the needle-wielder if he expected a run on vaccine stores due to the public’s heightened health awareness. He said yes; that is the prevalent sentiment in his circle of comrade shot-givers. There are only so many doses made available seasonally, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. If you snooze, you lose.

So, avoid the lines and the shortages. Get your shot now. If you can remember the gasoline shortage lines when that bumbling fool Jimmy Carter was president, that is a good analogy of what we might be looking at with flu shots.

Double Trouble This Season

This flu season contains a double-whammy; the flu plus the Coronavirus pandemic. Getting them both at once will be a very bad scenario, especially for anyone over 65 or that has an underlying condition.

“No one knows for sure how most people will react to simultaneous infection with these two viruses,” says Michael B. Grosso, MD, medical director of Huntington Hospital in Huntington, New York. “However, we have extensive experience with children and adults experiencing co-infection with two or more respiratory viruses. As you might guess, people get sicker, take longer to recover and require hospitalization more often when co-infection happens. It’s unlikely to be different with COVID-19 and flu.”

How the Flu Vaccine Works

In the old days, when the flu happened, it just happened. The Spanish Flu was devastating. It lasted from 1918 until 1920 and claimed approximately 500 million souls. A previous flu pandemic during 1889-1890 killed ~1 million people worldwide.

Today we know a bit more about it. We know it will happen every year. We have a good idea of where it will start and from this knowledge we (the CDC) has a good guess of which strains to prepare immunizations for. It’s still a crap-shoot, but it’s better than nothing. The shot I got today is targeted for old codgers in my age group.

The one I received was Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent. It has four times the antigen, (the part of the vaccine that helps your body build up protection against flu viruses), than Fluzone Quadrivalent and other standard-dose inactivated flu vaccines. Both are quadrivalent vaccines. The higher dose of antigen in the vaccine is intended to give older people a better immune response, and therefore, better protection against flu. What’s not to love?

Vaccines are Good for You and Your Neighbors

I feel compelled to express my feelings on this subject. Over the past decade or so, there has arisen a segment of the population that is entirely anti-vaccination. OK, I get it. In rare circumstances vaccinations can cause issues. But face it, life is, at best, a crap-shoot, my friend. Play the odds.

You don’t want your kid to face the 1 in 1,000,000,000 chance of autism? So no shot for smallpox or polio? OK. Let’s make that happen. We thought those diseases were eradicated in North America but without Trump’s wall, they are being imported.

So get your flu vaccine shot and get it while the doses are still available. There is a predicted demand that will work against you if you hesitate. Go bold, get poked, and don’t look back.



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Synbiotics; What Does It All Mean?

by Kelly R. Smith

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The health benefits of probiotics
The health benefits of probiotics

Everywhere we turn nowadays we hear about probiotics. But what about prebiotics and synbiotics? Actually, they all work hand in hand. Here’s the rundown.

  • Probiotics. WebMD says, “Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system. We usually think of these as germs that cause diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called ‘good’ or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.” When you lose the “good” bacteria that inhabit your gut, after you take antibiotics for example, probiotics can help replace them. The two main types are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. You can get them through dairy and supplements.
  • Prebiotics. The Mayo Clinic tells us, “Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers. They act like fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.” They are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, mostly those that are rich complex carbohydrates, such as fiber and resistant starch. These carbs aren’t digestible by your body, so they pass through the digestive system to become food for the bacteria and other microbes. When your balance is off it can affect your metabolism.
  • Synbiotics. ScienceDirect says, “Synbiotics are a combination of prebiotics and probiotics that are believed to have a synergistic effect by inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria and enhancing the growth of beneficial organisms.” Evidence suggests that synbiotics influence the microbial ecology in our intestines. This is true in both humans and animals and synbiotics play a role in alleviating various illnesses.

Knowing what we know about prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics it becomes clear that we should maintain our diet with various types of foods in mind, organic whenever possible. This includes milk, cheese, fermented foods like kimchi, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Others are reading:

References



Biscuit Joiner; Why You Need One for Woodworking

by Kelly R. Smith

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A Ryobi biscuit joiner on a router table
A Ryobi biscuit joiner on a router table

Granted that the biscuit joiner is not a power tool that you use everyday on your woodworking projects. It falls into the category of go-to tools when nothing else will do the job so well. On projects that require mating planks, this tool is invaluable. On some projects, just gluing them up and clamping them is sufficient but on others a stronger bond is required. And why not err on the side of caution? The right tool is just as important as adequate shop lighting.

For years I relied on dowels to do the job. That worked, but getting that precision can be difficult. Drilling the holes at the exact angle and in the exact location can be dicey, especially when using a hand-held drill rather than your drill press. This is where the biscuit joiner comes into its own.

Using Your Biscuit Joiner

For the sake of argument, let us assume that we are joining several boards to make up a table top.

  • Biscuits can “telegraph.” This means that as the glue dries, it can warp the surface plank wood down towards the biscuit. To avoid this minor imperfection in the end product (you’re the only one who will notice, but still), don’t cut your biscuit slot in the exact center of the planks, rather, a bit lower towards the bottom of the finished product.
  • Biscuits don’t add a lot of strength. So the argument goes. Some carpenters use biscuits simply to assure themselves that the planks will stay aligned as the glue dries. I’m from the other camp that believes that they do add a lot of strength, especially when the end product comes under stress because the length of the biscuit distributes the load better than a cylindrical dowel..
  • You can add biscuits for additional strength after the glue-up on 45 degree corners. Use your joiner as a plunge tool after the glue has dried. For example, you might do this on the underside of a picture frame after you remove your 45 degree clamps or spring clamps. Plunge the slot, glue-up and add the biscuit, and use your belt sander to level it up later.
  • Bring the motor up to full-speed before engaging the joiner. Easy, cowboy.

So, do you really need a biscuit joiner for your woodworking projects? The short answer is “no,” but the long answer is, “yes, because it will make your life so much better and your range of carpentry skills broader.”

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Rosh Hashanah; the Jewish New Year

by Kelly R. Smith

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Rosh Hashanah; the Shofar (ram's horn) and the Star of David
Rosh Hashanah; the Shofar (ram’s horn) and the Star of David

Rosh Hashanah is the autumnal festival celebrating the start of the Jewish New Year. The term literally means “head of the year.” It takes place on the first and second days of Tishri, the seventh month, the Gregorian equivalent of September-October. So, in 2020 it starts on September 18. The only notable similarity it has to the Western, secular holiday is the opportunity to make a New Years resolution.

The two days are a time for introspection; that aspect doesn’t end at the conclusion of Rosh HaShanah but lasts for ten days which are known commonly as the Days of Awe, until Yom Kippur.

Traditions for Rosh Hashanah

You won’t find the term “Rosh Hashanah” in the Bible or the Torah to discuss this holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom HaZikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom T’ruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25. One important observance of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar (ram’s horn) in the synagogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day.

Notably, the shofar isn’t sounded when the holiday falls on the Sabbath. There is no work allowed on Rosh Hashanah. What is allowed, thankfully, is the eating of apples that are dipped in honey Symbolically, this is a wish for a sweet new year. Bread is also dipped in honey.

Another tasty tradition is to eat round challah bread. This symbolizes the eternal circle of the life as well as the cycle of a new year. The challah is formed in the shape of a crown because God is referred to as royalty several times during these times.

Another practice is called Tashlikh (“casting off”). It’s done by going to a source of flowing water, like a river or a creek, on the first day’s afternoon and divulging the contents of our pockets into the river. This symbolizes casting off our sins. Although this tradition is not discussed in the Bible, it’s an age-old custom.

What about greeting each other? The accepted greeting at during this holiday is L’shanah tovah (“for a good year”). This is a shortened version of “L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem” (or when addressing females, “L’shanah tovah tikatevi v’taihatemi”). This literally means “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

In Judaism 101, Marcia Pravder Mirkin, when explaining The Days of Awe, says, “Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.”

Now that you are familiar with Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New Year, you might be interested in these topics:

References



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.