Author Archives: TheBlackhairedGuy

About TheBlackhairedGuy

I'm a guy. And I have black hair. Well not really because it is slowly turning grey. I suppose TheNotquiteBlackhairedGuy doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it? I write the blog EverythingSucks.blog as well as dabble in some freelance writing.

Streak Day #24 Sucks (and some stuff about the damn virus)

While the federal government has been dragging their feet regarding any coronavirus response until recently, state governors have jumped in trying to pick up the slack and keep their states safe. While out governor here in Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, doesn’t get much recognition compared to others like New York governor Andrew Cuomo, he’s been locking our state down with zero fucks given. A week ago he closed down restaurants and bars which wasn’t a big deal for me personally — I never go out to eat anyways — and now he’s issued some “stay at home” order. I don’t know the details because once again, I usually stay at home anyways.

Our work crew has a Group Me chat that allows us to share work-related information outside of clunky group text messages. This order, once announced, immediately caused certain panicky coworkers on Group Me to start asking if this affected us at UPS. There was some phrase in the stay home order exempting “essential workers”, but was UPS “essential?”

Fuck yeah we’re essential and this was made clear immediately. UPS, as is often explained to us peons, delivers “essential life-saving medicine and other medical devices” or something of that sort. Nevermind most of what we seem to ship is Amazon packages with who knows what contained within. But still, this made me appreciate my job slightly; I was now an “essential employee” tasked with keeping my tiny section of the economy moving, doing the dirty and dangerous work of providing goods to the people who need them. I felt a warm fuzzy feeling knowing I was A HERO even if I know it’s total bullshit.

So for me, life won’t change much at least until I contract the virus. The wheels of UPS will keep turning.

Low-tier Facebook meme, but it’s applicable.

Two days ago we were offered double shifting opportunities at work. I wrote a post about it here: overtime after five hours of work ($30 an hour for me!), endless boredom, and it’s not like I have anything better to do with my time. It’s too good of an opportunity to turn down. While a few days ago I was worried about losing my job, apparently the universe has decided to smile on me and offer me even more hours at work. Thanks to the paranoid people on the night shift that I’m assuming are calling in and causing UPS to be short on workers. In a crisis such as this I might as well try to make money.

I’m curious as to what force of law Pritzker has behind his stay home order. Somehow I don’t think cops will be stopping every single person driving on the road asking for proof that they’re going to work or the store; I’m thinking the order mostly relies on people blindly following what they’re told. Not that I’m going to blatantly ignore it, but I would like to take advantage of everyone being holded up and maybe enjoy a bike ride or two. Even if I do stay locked in my house all the time (and bitch about it) now that I’m told I have to stay home I don’t want to. Maybe I just hate authority telling me what to do. This is America, damnit!

I think this is due to me being of a “chaotic good” alignment. I really don’t give a shit about what the law says as long as I can do some good in the world. One idea I’ve had to simultaneously shit on the law and help people in crisis was to maybe make runs to the store for medicine (like OTC stuff) and deliver it to people that need it. Even the person with an average severity of coronavirus likely needs acetaminophen and cough medicine.

Not that I’ll ever do that: I can’t talk to people. I can’t network. I’ve bitched about my inability to network here on WordPress and this is no different. In fact it’s worse. I want to help in some chaotic good way but there isn’t any way to help.

Another random idea I’ve had to chaotically help in this crisis is to sell vape juice online. I’ve mentioned here I’ve started to make my own and have enough supplies to make about 30 bottles of the stuff. And if all “non-essential” shops are closed, I’m assuming this also includes vape shops. What are the vapers going to do once they run out of juice? It’ll be a crisis all on it’s own. What if I could “do some good” by selling homemade vape juice online to people in time of need? It sounds stupid as hell, but it is a valid service and the little capitalist in my head sees an opportunity to both become filthy rich and provide an actual service, even if it isn’t a “high-minded” service as other things.

I’m really thinking about doing this too. Order some more flavors and nicotine and go to town. Make a Facebook business page for “Jeremy’s Juicy Juice” or some other shitty sounding name like that. My only problem (besides the questionable legality of selling nicotine on Facebook, once again chaotic good here) is my lack of bottles to put the stuff in. I’ve been using bottles of store bought stuff to hold the homemade once they’re empty. Maybe I could source bottles from my vaping friends? Buy ketchup bottles and use those? Order a supply of bottles? But I don’t want inventory that won’t be used if this plan doesn’t work at all. I have no idea.

Streak Day #23 Sucks (and some stuff about Trump and Truth)

At least it’s only 1:30 p.m. and I’m working on this post. It’s much better than starting it at 11:30 at night.

I still don’t feel inspired so let’s talk about this goddamn coronavirus some more.

I’ve hated Donald Trump for a long time, but with a cold indifference and not the burning passion that appeared within me during the 2016 elections. I don’t want to be political here, and I don’t think I have to be, because I don’t like him as a person. Like if he was some guy I worked with, just some normal guy, I’d still despise the man. The early hatred I had for him was primarily because he was some rich, reality star. All I really knew about him was his random cameos in various movies/TV shows and that he had his own show The Apprentice. He said, “You’re fired,” a lot. I have a burning hatred for anything reality oriented (mostly because reality TV killed the Discovery Channel and the History Channel) and he was a natural extension to this. Cheap TV created for mass consumption. Packaged drama. Totally devoid of anything worthwhile or fulfilling. The TV equivalent of diet soda. Cheap, tasty, but nothing of value nutritionally. Refreshing but in a way that only makes you crave more.

Donald Trump has a tenuous relationship with the truth, and I think this is what I despise most about him. I like to think myself as a scientific-minded person. Someone who is open to facts, data, and willing to be proved wrong even if I am stubborn sometimes. I try to admit when I don’t know something and use the opportunity to learn about it. You can’t gain knowledge unless you acknowledge that you’re ignorant in the first place. To fill a void you must know there is a void to be filled in the first place.

Not that I need to get down to data and all of that bullshit. His relationship with the truth is so corrupt that he doesn’t seem to know what he said two weeks ago. Using the coronavirus as an example, he said it wasn’t that bad and that it was a hoax or some shit. Two weeks later he claims that he knew how dangerous it was all along and gives himself a fucking 10/10 score on how he’s been handling it. Once again, I don’t even need to praise or criticize his response to the outbreak to prove my point: he can’t even acknowledge what the fuck he said fourteen days ago. The man is a walking contradiction and you don’t need to attack his policies or anything to prove this.

I used to know a guy at work like this years. One day he said he was a pilot. He didn’t seem to know shit about airplanes even if he claimed to own an ultralight. There was just this feeling I had that he didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about, nothing to really prove he was full of shit but still knowing he was full of shit. I’m a pilot and can tell another fellow pilot when they start talking about flying or airplanes. There’s some shared experience training and learning gives you to where were all mostly on the same page with the topic. He didn’t have this quality at all.

An even better example was when this guy claimed his dad owned a Dodge Viper. Yes. My dad (who worked there at the time) tried to call him out on his bullshit. “Really?” he said, “I’d like to see it. You should drive it to work someday.” The guy then replied with, “I’ll drive it to work tomorrow!”

You can probably guess what happened. Or what didn’t happen. Obviously the guy didn’t show up with his dad’s Dodge Viper and when asked about it he said something so ridiculous, but not quite ridiculous enough to where you could call him out on it. “The car was in a wreck today and it was totaled.” Really. Surely this Dodge Viper existed, and surely he was going to drive it to work, but that damn car wreck messed up the entire plan!

It’s this level of bullshit that is classic Donald Trumpness. The ability to lie and bullshit to such disregard for the truth that it is painfully obvious. I wish I could talk to the guy one-on-one with a printout of some of his tweets. Just ask him, for once, “So what the fuck is this? Can you acknowledge you said this? And how goddamn contradictory this is?” I’m sure he would just say something like fake news and deny the entire thing and that’s the whole problem with him. It’s really okay to admit you’re wrong on things, but this aspect of truth does not exist within him. At all. And it’s shocking to see someone with such a total disregard for the truth as him. It’s so dissimilar to how I am I can’t begin to comprehend it.

I know I’d said this would be about the coronavirus and that’s what I initially started with. My idea was to circle this back around to him now calling it the Chinese Virus, which is another level of bullshit. But I think it isn’t the same as his failed relationship with the truth. It’s him trying to lay the blame on China somehow. Sure it came from there, but who gives a fuck? It’s been called the corona virus for the past half-year and sometimes COVID-19, but sure let’s just change the name to blame China in some twisted fucking fashion.

Let’s just continue the Trump hate some more.

His supporters also have this fucked up relationship with the truth. People who can’t see his two-week contradictions from his own Twitter page infuriate me. (I’d link examples, but fuck linking to Donald Trump’s Twitter page) Like I understand people can change their minds, but I don’t think he’s changed his mind on something like this. How can you claim it’s a hoax and then credit yourself by realizing it was a pandemic before anyone else did? And how can his supporters hear stuff like this and say, “Hmm, oh yes. He’s the best guy for the job.” Doesn’t anything click in their minds that perhaps this guy is a total bullshitter that can never admit he’s wrong? I’m really curious how no one notices this or if they do notice it how it doesn’t bother them.

Well, that’s enough I guess. If you’re a Trump supporter please leave me some hate in the comments. Maybe share this on Facebook to your rabid Trump-support friends so they can shit on me as well; I need the views. Like, subscribe, and comment. Day #23 is finished.

Streak Day #22 Sucks (and some stuff about…?)

I don’t even know what streak day it is anymore. I do know it’s the 19th and I have another paltry 45 minutes to get this damn thing published. Yikes. This project is starting to wear on me and I’m positive that once I complete a month (or until the end of March, I have no plans set yet) I’m taking a damn break from this blog. I’m sure it won’t be long — when you post everyday for a month any break more than a few days feels forever — but I’m taking a break.

Everything has pros and cons to it. Pro? I’m keeping a routine and raking in views. Con? It’s taking all my motivation to do so. I’m trying not to stress out about it though. I have a project and I’m going to keep the project going until it’s finished. Just another week or two, no big deal.

I’m constantly thinking if creative juices are finite or infinite. It seems to be a little bit of both which sounds like a paradox. Like you can’t sit around and wait for motivation all the time, but you also can’t force yourself to plow through and make any real progress if you have nothing to work with. This is how I feel about the streak thingy I’m on: it’s working great but I don’t have any other motivation left to channel into other creative areas. Do I have any idea what to write with my other stories? No. Hell no. I have no idea. I can’t even brainstorm new chapters because there is nothing there to think about. Luckily the Morrowind story is limping along just fine; it seems to have a seperate wellspring of motivation that isn’t related to creative writing or blogging. Morrowind story inspiration is also flowing from my reading of The Wheel of Time series. Maybe it’s also because I have an easy schedule to keep up with? Who knows.

One thing the therapist told me about these antidepressants was something like, “It makes the lows not so low, but also makes the highs not as joyful. As a creative person, this might backfire if you draw inspiration from the highs and lows.” I think this also spooked me to a degree where I think it might be happening, but as always I don’t know if it’s in my head or if it’s a real effect of the drug. It’s strange to elaborate on. My mood does seem better but nothing “dramatic” happens to where I feel the need to write about it. I don’t want to say things seem “blah” because it sounds lifeless and unenjoyable, but everything does have a “blah” undercurrent to it. It’s one thing that has frightened me about antidepressants; will they change me in a way that takes away the twisted gifts I actually have? Do I need my mood to be chaotic and miserable to have something to write about?

Usually I write about my day in a Google Doc I have but nothing has been written in a few weeks, maybe even a month. Do I blame my blogging streak for leaving me exhausted and unmotivated or the antidepressants for making my life “blah” even if my mood has greatly improved? Can I blame the feeling of “being in between” or “waiting on something” for my blahness? Sometimes I think you need to give life time to catalyze into real change or insight.

The moods are still there, just leveled out a bit. When I feel a depressed mood coming on it doesn’t seem as “dangerous” as it used to. It doesn’t feel like a crisis anymore. It’s just something to deal with and work through now. The same is true for my good moods; I roll with them and don’t seem to “grasp to hold onto them” as much anymore. When they do pass I don’t have the usual bittersweet feeling of loss that I seem to recall having in the past. Just another thing to deal with and work through. Drama, but not like drama used to be.

Now I’m getting slightly depressed again. Fuck. But soon I’ll have this posted and can read and my mood will pass. Within me I still feel the usual inspiration just waiting to be channeled, and even if my moods do seem “leveled out” they’re still there. I can still tap into them I’m sure if I just sit my ass down and introspect a bit.

Sorry if all I seem to write about is antidepressants and writing/blogging lately. They’re constantly at the front of my mind.

COVID-19 Anxiety Sucks

During the past few years of utter bullshit I’ve periodically heard a supposed Chinese curse that goes something like this: “May you live in interesting times.” It’s great because it sounds like a good thing at first — no one likes being bored and living in some bland period of history (like the early 1900s or something) — but upon further inspection it really is a curse. For the past five years at least I think the entire world has been living in “interesting times” and they are fucking terrible.

I grew up in the 1990s and those were really boring times. Looking back I should’ve enjoyed them more. Sure I was a kid so have some naivete going on but even looking back as an adult the 90s were boring. There was the Persian Gulf War (which wasn’t even a war like the shit we had in Afghanistan/Iraq) but there were no collapses of society, mass unrest, no stock market crashes, or major recessions. Oh, and remember Clinton’s impeachment over a blowjob? What quait times we were living in….

Then the September 11th attacks happened and that caused a decade of “interesting times” but even that seemed to wane into boringness around 2010. Looking back the 2000s weren’t even that interesting in comparison to today. Then there was more boringness for at most five years (the magical year of ~2015) and then the world spiraled out of control again. And in my life this year has been the most “interesting time” I remember living in: 2020 is total shit. Fear and dread and anxiety and uncertainty. Especially with COVID-19 going around causing society to grind to a halt, I’m reminded of a quote from J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.

‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.'”

-J.R.R Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

Another Reddit “theory” that seems rather silly but also interesting is that maybe the Mayans and the “world ending” in 2012, well, maybe they were onto something?! Not that 2012 is when the world spiraled into chaos, but what if we shifted into some alternate reality where things don’t quite work the same as they used to? And we’re all left with a pre-2012 mindset stuck in this strange, new, and terrifying world that is the post-2012 disinformation age. I don’t take this idea seriously but man it seems that in 2012 the world got shifted into a parallel dimension where terrifying stuff happens.

I’m having more anxiety than I’m willing to admit, but I still am rather calm and collected about the virus. It’s not a big deal, personally, but I acknowledge that it is a dangerous situation. Every day I wake up to see another few hundred dollars wiped off my stock trading accounts, and the prospect that I could be out of a job soon is terrifying. The stock market is especially frustrating as I was shorting in the past two month and rolled into long positions way to early. Had I held onto the shorts with diamond hands I could have earned a few thousand dollars as society collapsed around me. Not that I’m hoping millions of people die so I can make money, but it’s happening and I might as well try to benefit from it somehow. God that sounds terrible; feel free to shit on me in the comments if you want.

I’m reminded of this post from the New Year (I can’t find it and I’m out of time). My ability to live perfectly in the moment one minute and hour at a time. Most of my current anxiety is looking ahead to the next few months just wondering how this entire crisis will play out. How will it end? Will society be back to normal in a few weeks/months or are we going to collapse even further into stasis while every waits? I hate waiting. I’m impatient. I’m insecure. As much as I bitch about the grind of everyday life, when it has been altered I feel myself on the very of some great unknown and it terrifies me.

Looking closer to the present, ala Alan Watts/buddhist style, things are okay. I have plenty of food, no one I know is sick, and I still have a job. I get to leave in a half-hour and load some airplanes. Luckily UPS and package shipping in general hasn’t been totally shit on yet especially as people might turn to online shopping for their fucking economy packs of toilet paper rolls. UPS keeps shipping packages no matter what. With all the excess around the holiday season I’m surprised to find myself in a “safe” sector of the economy, as if the excess in December also has a counterpart to it being essential. Not as essential as truck drivers, but still needed. “You are safe.” In this moment of my life — the one that is actually happening right now — I’m perfectly fine. I have food, I have water, and I have a year supply of nicotine because now is not the time for nicotine withdrawal. Nicotine also kills your appetite making the food situation even better going forward!

I’m not saying that things won’t get worse in the upcoming months, but as my therapist said regarding my anxiety, “Think if a thought is useful to have.” All this worrying and anxiety about the future isn’t useful at all and only degrades the part of my life that actually exists: the ever-present Now. And if/when something bad does happen? If I lose my job? If myself or someone close to me gets sick? Well, I can worry about it when it happens. I’ll scrounge up money where I can, maybe sell my stocks, max out the credit cards if I need to do so, and maybe negotiate some deferred payments with them. If society utterly collapses around me? I’m sure my instinct to survive and my creative DIY mindset will naturally kick in to where I start problem solving whatever comes up. Squirrels are edible I guess, and I know where to find fucking mulberries, but once again I’m reminded to think, “Is this thought useful to have?” Absolutely not. Stop rambling here and get on with your life. I need to leave for work now. Do I need to dress warm or wear a raincoat? Do I have my badge and my timecard? What is happening Now?

I hope everyone remains safe and healthy, and maybe most importantly of all, in a positive mental state during these strange and frightful times.

Homemade Washer Fluid Sucks

It’s 10:54 p.m. and I still haven’t written a post today. The weekend kinda threw me off to where instead of writing these before work I’ve been trying to force them out after work. It has that anxiety of deadlines that I haven’t known since college. Well, maybe a little bit with the Morrowind story I guess.

The stupid post yesterday about my Crisco candles had me thinking about all the other stupid projects I’ve done and since time is limited I think I’ll write about another one of those. It’s not the most riveting stuff but I need to get something out tonight.

One fun thing I’ve noticed with my stupid projects is how quickly things go off the rails where you run into issues. Tiny things you’ve overlooked come back to bite you in the ass, and even if you’ve thought about the issues before hand sometimes it’s simpler to start the project before worrying about tiny things that could dissuade you from continuing. I used to homebrew and would worry about what I’d bottle my wine in before I had brewed a single thing. Worry about stuff like that later is easy and smart to do, but eventually you need to face the problems as they arise.

So, car window washer fluid. Easy right? Yeah, mostly. My entire motivation behind this was my laziness. I hate discovering the our cars are out of window washer fluid which then requires an inconvenient trip to the store. The stuff isn’t expensive really, it’s just a pain to go buy. I should also state my obsession of very clean windows. I spray the window off daily everytime I drive. Even a single day leaves a slight layer of dirt or tree pollen on the car which bothers the hell out of me. Winter is even worse with salt water being sprayed on the car from other vehicles. The water quickly evaporates and leaves an ugly layer of salt dried to the window. The low winter sun usually makes one hell of a glare on it that is unbearable. In short, I clear my car windows daily and go through a ton of fluid in the process. It’d be easier to make it myself. And make it as cheaply as possible obviously.

Starting as simply as possible: water. But it can’t be any water because tap water is hard. It has dissolved minerals which can build up in lines or on the car. This is what murdered my last coffee pot and I was well aware of how shitty hard water was. I wasn’t going to put tap water into my vehicle and ruin the washer system. What about distilled water? That was a good idea but the only obvious source for distilled water was the store. If I had to go buy distilled water from the store it would defeat the convenience factor of not going to the store for washer fluid. If only I could make my own distilled water. Hmm…

That’s easy to do. Sort of. The easiest way I discovered was the dehumidifier; the waste water should be distilled (enough) and was easy to make for cheap. You plug in a dehumidifier, turn it on, and wait a day or two.

Distilled water, some dish soap, and some ammonia. Ammonia also, luckily, depresses the freezing point of water. This should keep me safe for the then upcoming winter. I made my first few bottles in late summer and had zero problems or regrets up until then. But then it went below freezing and things got complicated.

I went outside one chilly morning and tried to spray the window off. I heard the washer motor make its pathetic whine but no fluid came out. Uh oh. Eventually I realized that ammonia, while depressing the freezing point of water, needs to be very concentrated to do so. The stuff I purchased from the store was only like 3% ammonia, and since I had mixed a cup of this to a gallon of water, it wasn’t doing jack shit to the freezing point. And all the fluid in the car was frozen. How was I supposed to thaw that to even add new unfreezing fluid?

Luckily, it was still warm enough during the day to thaw the fluid out. My plan was to figure out something to keep the stuff liquid down to about -40 degrees or so. My first idea was to use antifreeze, but this is cost-prohibitive and I wasn’t sure if that stuff should be used in window fluid. A few internet searches suggested isopropyl alcohol — rubbing alcohol — and ethanol. Regular, good old ethanol. Moonshine. Booze. Vodka. Whatever you want to call it.

I knew rubbing alcohol was kinda expensive but I also knew I couldn’t find pure ethanol cheaply either. High proof booze from the store was way too expensive, and the cheapest way to get ethanol was maybe E85 fuel from a gasoline pump. I could grab an entire gallon of the stuff for only about $2, but was hesitant of putting 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline in my washer fluid reservoir. But now that I think about it, I would only need a small percentage of the stuff in the water, and maybe the tiny bit of gasoline wouldn’t be that bad? It still sounds like a bad idea though. Maybe I’ll test in a junker car later.

I even found some freezing diagrams for isopropyl alcohol and ethanol. Here’s the ethanol one, mostly because I’m running out of time.

As you can see, to reach -40 degrees I’d need a 50/50 mix of water and ethanol, which was really shitty to discover. Maybe I could shoot for a 25% mix of the stuff and have it freeze below -10 or 15 degrees — not the best but it should work for about 95% of the winter.

But where to find the supplies? Luckily we have a Farm and Fleet a half-mile away and they sell all sorts of random chemicals. One time I bought stump remover (potassium nitrate) to make fucking rocket fuel out of. I vaguely recalled seeing gallons of isopropyl alcohol there for sale (for farm animals I think) and sure enough they had it in stock. It was $16 a gallon if I remember correctly; this still isn’t cheap but I could make about 4 gallons of fluid with a 25% mix of the stuff. $4 a gallon isn’t too bad on average.

I was also able to find denatured alcohol at Farm and Fleet. This appeared to be a 50/50 mix of ethanol, the drinkable stuff, with methanol, a poison. This is to stop alcoholics from buying a cheap bottle of moonshine from Farm and Fleet and drinking it. I mean they still can drink it, but I think they’d go blind from it. Methanol is bad stuff. I think I picked up a quart of it for $5. Isopropyl and ethyl alcohol were about the same price overall for my project on a per gallon basis.

And my 25% mixes seemed to work. I took a bunch of rubbing alcohol and dumped it directly into the reservoir to prevent that shit from freezing and that worked nicely. It is entertaining to clean your windows and smell a strong alcohol smell, but hey it works.

To make this story even dumber, I recently tried to restock my supplies. I turned on the dehumidifier ready to get distilled water for my “summer blend,” meaning free of alcohol, but the humidity is so damn low the thing doesn’t even turn on. The lowest setting it has is 35% humidity and anything below that it simply doesn’t turn on. Well shit. I guess I’m waiting for those hot and humid summer days again.

I did have a random idea of turning on our fireplace to get some heat and humidity but this seems like a terrible idea. While methane does burn and make water vapor, it seems like a really roundabout way of making distilled water. Part of my motivation with this project was to cut down on endless plastic bottles and pollution in general, so burning natural gas to make water to then distill down into water sounds ass-backwards.

So while making your own car washer fluid isn’t as easy or as straightforward as making candles from Crisco, it also isn’t very hard. I highly recommend trying it especially if you live in a climate that doesn’t involve bitterly cold temperatures for a third of the year. If you do, stock up on rubbing alcohol in the fall. Or booze.

Crisco Candles are Awesome

I’m a DIYer at heart. I don’t know if this is because I’m insanely curious or if I’m simply cheap. It’s usually more cost effective to do things on your own than to pay others to do it. Think home repair projects, car repair projects, or growing your own food in a garden. Sure these things take time to complete but since you don’t have to pay others for their time it’s usually cheaper. Usually. It also gives me a reason to avoid people in general, which is always a nice perk when you’re an introvert.

A few projects I’ve been doing lately besides the typical car repairs are making my own USB solar charger and making my own vape juice. I’ve also been making my own window washer fluid for my car which has been a total pain in the ass because water apparently freezes when it gets cold out. Huh. I’ve had to figure out what to add to the mix to keep it from freezing. Rubbing alcohol (found at Farm and Fleet in the farming section) and ethanol/methanol also works great. My latest project though: candlemaking. 

Making candles is easy as fuck. You buy wax, buy wicks, melt the wax and let it solidify. The hardest is keeping the wick centered while the candle cools; I’ve made some shitty tool with cut up soda cans to hold the wick. I had purchased a ten pound brick of paraffin wax from Amazon last year and have almost went through the entire thing.

Soy wax is another alternative but seems rather pricey. I did some research on what soy wax actually was and apparently it’s made from soybean oil, the same shit you can buy in a grocery store. Apparently soy wax is simply hydrogenated vegetable oil, and I started wondering how difficult it would be to hydrogenate my own oil. I wouldn’t even have to use soybean oil and could use cheap vegetable or corn oil. Surely this would be the most cost effective way to make candles and I wouldn’t be forced to order wax from Amazon anymore.

Trying to find any information on hydrogenating your own oil was nearly impossible. A ton of websites showed up with information on how to make candles but these just tell you to melt wax into a jar. Duh. Other websites talked about the health effects of eating saturated fats which wasn’t what I was after either. The Wikipedia page on hydrogenation is about as complex as you can imagine and has zero practical information for the would-be home chemist/candle maker.

I found a good YouTube video that explained how to hydrogenate oils. You need oil, a hot plate, and a source of hydrogen. Okay. That’s not too bad. Hydrogen is kinda funky to make but can be done. (Protip: hydrochloric acid and aluminum!) But then he mentioned something about a catalyst for the reaction which was something like iridium or platinum (it was palladium). Platinum? For fucks sake where was I supposed to find platinum? It’s more expensive than gold. This put an end to my plan of hydrogenating my own oil at home; it wasn’t cost effective or easy if I needed precious metal catalysts. I wasn’t about to drop hundreds of dollars to make my own damn candles. Back to the drawing board.

There’s also a bunch of information about fats in general. I’m always amazed at how simple home projects like home brewing and candle making inevitably spiral into full chemistry after awhile.
CRISCO!

If only I could buy hydrogenated oil. Oh wait, you can. It’s called Crisco, a brand of vegetable shortening. It’s solid at room temperature and should work in a candle. I went to the store and bought a giant six-pound tub for like $10. That’s cheaper than Amazon paraffin wax.

I only wanted to do this for the sake of doing it, but little did I know that using Crisco to make candles has almost no downside to it. It’s an edible fat, so I don’t have to worry about getting wax all over cooking pans and pots. Like butter, you can also melt the shit in a microwave. No more melting paraffin wax on the stove which is terrifying when you image dripping liquid wax all over the floor or carpet. Here’s what I did. I took an empty candle jar and cleaned the wax and old wick out of it. I then scooped as much Crisco into the damn thing as I could and microwaved it for two minutes. Bingo, liquid fat. I put the wick into the jar and let it cool. I wasn’t trying to be a total heathen about it so added some apple blossom scent to it along with some green dye. Here’s what it looks like.

And it works beautifully! I mean it’s a candle so it burns and that’s about all there is to it, but there’s literally no downside to making candles from Crisco. It burns cleaner than paraffin wax, it’s cheaper to make, and it’s easier to make. It was a really stupid thing to try and I hate to recommend this seriously to anyone, but if you want to try making your own candles grab some Crisco and give it a shot. It was very fulfilling.

Streak Day #18 Sucks (and a celebration of viewers)

This is going to be the laziest post I’ve ever written, which is saying something since most of my posts over the past few weeks have been lazy. I’m not even going to bother making a banner image for it. Who cares?

The past few days with the blog have been…interesting I guess. Usually I’ve been raking in about 25 views per day, and if you remember my goal of 1,000 monthly views you’ll realize that I’ll come up short for March. No big deal. I’d be happy with a record monthly viewer count even if it is short of 1,000. Work in progress and all. This also makes the possibility of having record daily and weekly viewers as well. Once again, not a goal I’m chasing after, but I still do obsessively check my viewer numbers every few hours.

What happened, and I don’t really know what exactly happened, was Thursday. I was sitting nicely around 15 or 20 views by midday — a typical day really — while the week overall was slightly below average. I checked the views a few hours later and somehow had an extra 30 damn views and was up around 50! What? This didn’t make any sense. I didn’t write some masterpiece or market the hell out of anything, but it seems viewers came out of nowhere. Despite not knowing why, I was happy about it. Somehow Thursday ended with a whopping 64 views, about 20 more than my last best day. Friday also raked in 54 and I somehow had a record week even as of yesterday. The past best week in terms of viewers was 210 and I’m at 233 currently. There’s still two hours left but as you can tell I’m greatly slacking with the post today. 235 is a huge improvement over 210 and I’ll take it.

So what the hell happened on Thursday?

So that’s the reason for this totally low effort post today. I’ve gotten my best day, best week, and I’m on track for my best month in terms of viewers even if it does come short to the magical 1,000 goal. I don’t want to do any work today and am content to just kinda sit here and reflect and pat myself on the back. As always, I have no idea what I did differently the past few days, but whatever. Thanks for the views guys!