Guns Kill, Not People. So, Control the Money Behind Guns


We have allowed the Gun manufacturers and their front, called the NRA, to control all discussion. They threaten congress with their money.  Republicans, afraid of the gun makers’ big money, refuse to discuss gun control, claiming we instead need to fight ISIL.

They pretend this is an either/or choice. What Hooey!

It’s like pretending we need to choose between fighting ISIL and providing better mental health care.

You and I know we can and do fight ISIL. At the same time, we can and must stand up to  gun makers and sellers. We can say, “You’re not free to sell to those who threaten harm to themselves and others.”

We can offer better health care to the mentally ill, all while fighting ISIL.

The young man in the Orlando night club was a wanna be, a man afraid of himself, with a need to feel power. A sick man.

We must control the sale of guns to the sick. We need to provide real help to the mentally ill. All it takes is courage to face money, and money to face money.  We have to decide to join Congressman John Lewis and the fifty congressmen and women who refuse to back down any longer from the power of the gun manufacturers.

Guns that kill many in seconds are not a self-protection device. Stop letting the NRA pretend unregulated speed-kill has anything to do with the Second Amendment. “A well-regulated militia” is not well-regulated if every sick person can shoot large numbers of the people he fears.

We can fight gun Manufacturers and their NRA  front men while fighting ISIL. We can provide health care and force our congressmen and senators to stop cowering in front of NRA threats. We

courtesy of

courtesy of

speak up and give our representatives courage. We can send money to fight the gun lobby or to the congressmen and women who fight the gun lobby.

Demand action from those others in Congress. They are afraid they may finally have to make a choice between Gun Manufacturer money and the safety and wishes of the majority of their constituents. Tell them what that choice must be.

Tell congress you want them to stop hiding behind false arguments.

Be Prepared to Enjoy

Yes, we’ve talked about how to be prepared for the next emergency. We’ve got a long way to go to really be prepared and I worry about getting you, my eager readers, all the information we both should have.

But, in between writing about the butane stove and giving you-all our next ‘get ready’ alert, the world had given us some moments of wonder.

There was the moment I realized the family’s youngest girl is on the edge of learning to read. The excitement shone in her face as she began to sound out a story about Elephant and Piggie*.IMG_3782

And then there was the moment our Lenten Rose shot up out of the ground in one day and produced flower buds during day two.

Within that same week, I drove along the Alameda Ridge one afternoon after a particularly irrational opportunity to listen to a passle of twaddle-heads. I looked up from the road and realized the sun and the clouds together were telling me to leave worry, and enjoy the moment.

So, I pulled over to the curb and whipped out my phone camera. Telephone wires be danged, the sky beyond them was warm with light and dark with potential rain. The moment became all.



So, my fine readers, very soon, we will be back to the important effort to be prepared, but for this week, I hope you can join me in a moment of beauty.

*All right, here comes a book review. Elephant and Piggie Books are early readers by Mo Willems. Mo Willems is clever enough to keep both the youngster and their adult laughing as this really odd couple of friends learn how to get along even though their worlds are very different.

On our recent excursion to the children’s book section, we came home with Listen to my Trumpet. Piggie plays his new trumpet very badly and then asks for Elephant’s applause. Elephant has to decide whether to be honest with Piggie.

On our way home from the book store, every time we passed under a street lamp, our early reader sounded out a trumpet’s blatty-sound words. She had a wonderful time with Mo Willems’s made up noise words, never realizing she was learning how to read consonant blends like Bluuurk and Gleeeeek.

Willems has written is a whole series of these books, published by Hyperion Books for Children. You’ll enjoy right along with your youngsters.



Are You Ready for Small Emergencies?

I bet you have stories that support my belief that citizen leadership springs up in emergency situations. I’d be glad to read your comments or accounts of similar situations you’ve been in. My thesis here is based on a sample of two situations.

Situation One: On an afternoon last spring, Woody and I returned from our tree farm, driving on Oregon Highway 30, the highway that follows the Columbia River from Astoria on the Pacific Coast to Portland on the Willamette River.

A car in the oncoming lane stopped, signaling a left turn. The on-coming car behind plowed into her and sent her car spinning into our lane. Our truck certainly would have killed her. Woody took a hard right, praying that no one was coming down the entering road. Our truck slid across the entering road into a guard rail and avoided her. Fast thinking and a hard pull.

The next car on the entering road saw the danger. I watched him work hard to successfully stop before hitting me on our passenger side.

Meanwhile, the car behind the spinning car deployed all airbags, so you can guess how much power was in that initial hit.

The car of the woman who had hoped to turn left had no airbags. She was unconscious when Woody and another driver got to her side. Meanwhile, I called 911 and described the situation. Then, I stayed in the truck because too many people were already on the road.

The family in the third car in her lane was able to stop without hitting anyone. That driver and his wife immediately got out and began directing traffic. They knew how to command space and exude leadership. By the time the ambulance and police arrived they had a system going: two cars through going east, then two cars through going west.

All drivers on the highway and the entering road followed the directions of that couple. They had the skills, the presence of mind and the leadership qualities to maintain safety until the police and ambulance arrived.

We don’t know the long-range outcome for the left-turn driver, although she seemed to be conscious by the time the ambulance medics had her on a gurney. The second driver seemed dazed by his airbags and his disastrous financial future. All other drivers were safe because several people were alert, aware, skilled and willing to do what was necessary at the moment.

Afterward, I often asked myself if I could have played any of the necessary roles in that situation if others had not been there. Would I have been ready? Able? Or willing?

Situation two: After a recent wind storm, I had a chance to protect others in a lesser, but potentially dangerous situation. Driving toward our nearest arterial street, I discovered a wire looped in a large U across our residential street. I have a small car, but I knew that the sides of that U might easily catch on the side mirrors of a van.

I stopped and called 911. A man walking his dog, and other nearby residents tried with me to establish if the wire came from the telephone level or the electricity level of the nearby poles. Among the tree branches, no one could be certain of its do you know?

The emergency dispatcher said, “Assume it is electric.”

So, I stayed. Cars tried to turn off the arterial, and when I gestured for them to stop, they paid attention. When I pointed up and traced the U of the wires, the passengers saw and gestured at their drivers to stay on the arterial.

Cars behind me lined up, saw my gestures and then took turns to back up and turn around. Only one SUV drove past them and me, over the wires and on its merry and precarious way. Its left side narrowly missed the opportunity to tangle mirror with wire and pull wire down the road with them.

All other drivers waved a thanks and went another way.

Ten minutes later, the fire truck came down the arterial, siren and lights in full play, so I knew to get close to the intersection in time to keep them on the arterial. I pointed up, gestured the U shape and pointed them straight to the right. The passenger fireman did as the drivers had done, glanced where I pointed and gestured his driver to stay on the arterial.

They blocked the intersection with their fire truck. Then, they set about checking whether wire was telephone or electric, and whether it was touching the electric wire at any point. They found it was a telephone wire that was loose from several telephone poles (and many thick trees) away.

As I backed out of their way and went on to my morning meeting, they were still checking whether it was touching any electric wires. At the end of my day, I drove past a telephone pole with a large yellow emergency ribbon wrapping cut wire. All sat ready for the phone company repair.

What has impressed me in both of these situations is that one SUV was the exception to the rule that most drivers follow citizen leadership. I’m glad I had a second chance to witness this truth. I was ready, able and willing.

But the more impressive fact is that others cooperated to help reduce risks in the presence of potential danger.

Have you seen this dynamic in action? Let’s hear your stories.

When I Publish for Others, I Am Rich

My friend, Cynthia, had ALS for ten years. Before she died last fall, she published a non-fiction book that is still read and cherished by all her friends and family. We, a team of friends, made this book happen for Cynthia.

Another book came into being this year. My middle school students wrote stories all during the school year, and now they have those stories in a book. That book is in their school library and in their homes. Together, we, a team of the students, their families and me, made that happen as well.

I look back on this last year with pleasure in accomplishing those two publications. These are publications, done out of love, and they have brought pride and joy to their authors and to all of us involved.

Three years ago, I took a class in layout and design using Microsoft Styles. My first non-fiction book, was designed by Bruce Taylor Hamilton, then the editor of the Oregon Historical Society Press. From working with Bruce, I knew that I could use InDesign to do what I wanted to do. My choice to use Microsoft Styles wasn’t a choice between good and bad design programs. It was a choice between affordable and not affordable over the long range.

Anthology 2015This year, when I designed the anthology for the middle school students, I was able to bring their writing dreams to fruition, giving them the feeling that all their sweat had been worth sharing with friends and family. The book was a team effort. The students’ selfies became the basis of the book cover, designed by graphic artist, Owyn Richen. Their books were printed at the Mount Hood Community College Print shop, shepherded by Sci-fi author, Theresa Snyder.

And then into my life came the opportunity to use my design skills with another team.

I discovered that OWC member, Gail Black, had collected the emails of our friend Cynthia Greene. Gail had recognized the significance of these emails back when Cynthia could still talk and write. Gail printed out the emails and organized them chronologically. As time went on, Gail and Cynthia added short stories that Cynthia typed on her special communication devices. As Cynthia lost her voice and the ease of finger typing, these stories came more slowly, but each one was a joy to Cynthia’s friends and family.

The early emails were the story of sailing adventures of Cynthia and her husband, David. For several years, they sailed around Mexico in the Pacific Ocean and in the Sea of Cortez. Cynthia and David encountered storms, engine troubles. They weathered, and helped clean up after Hurricane Marty hit Mexico. Each obstacle forced them to reach deep into themselves to solve problems and roll with the big waves. Their motto became, “The difference between ordeal and adventure is attitude.”

Their sailboat, Reaching Deep, referred, at first, to reaching deep water, but took on an especially poignant meaning when Cynthia discovered her many symptoms were ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. From that time on, Cynthia and Dave had to exercise their courage and resourcefulness in ever deeper seas.

Reaching Deep

When I saw Cynthia’s emails, I knew they should become a book. Cynthia imagined a book for her grandchildren, but it has since become sought after by all who knew her struggle to test the limits of life with ALS.

Scanned documents require cleanup. The scan program thinks every paper wrinkle must be a letter and the program misreads fonts it hasn’t been taught to recognize.

So after much editing and word guessing, my bleary-eyed self sent the digitized and designed manuscript to Cynthia’s daughter-in-law, Cindy Greene and her sister Kiki Klipfel who caught and fixed many scan misunderstandings and misspellings.

Owyn Richen came to the fore again, using photos of Cynthia and David, and Amazon’s Create Space cover-maker program to teach his mom how to create a cover.

The teamwork in both of these books created a network of caring for the students and then for Cynthia and her family. The pleasure of those friendships, the opportunities to share joy, accomplishment and even grief has made each of us a richer person. I’m very thankful to the authors and each person who worked to make these publications a reality.

Want a fresh outlook on life? Volunteer with kids.

I enjoy kids of whatever age, but when I volunteer, I have my focus on middle school grades. Middle School students are eager to explore ideas about justice, social expectations, and cultural differences. They want to test their ideas in story. They push me to explain and to listen carefully. They test all of my assumptions, and their natural humor makes me laugh a lot.

During the school years 2010 through 2015, I had the privilege of teaching a weekly short-story writing class in North Clackamas School District at Happy Valley Middle School. Happy Valley staff have welcomed me. The teachers allowed us to use their rooms and computers. Happy Valley is a very warm place for volunteers.

Each year between twelve and fifteen students regularly attended the after-school writing club. As writing instructor, my goal has been to 20141216_170502 highlight the elements of craft – plot, character, conflict, setting and language choice. During the first two years, I had the fun of working with mystery author, Bill Cameron, in this class. After he had to move away, I enjoyed continuing with the next groups, guiding students in the process of getting their creative ideas on paper in scenes.

I was delighted to encounter students already engaged by their school district teachers in the power of non-fiction writing. The students wished to try their hand at storytelling.

These students enjoyed good stories written for their age group. All were eager to learn more about how to write at least as well as their favorite authors. The students showed interest and respect for each other’s work. For me, their enthusiasm was inspirational.

Most of those years, about half the class and a couple of chaperoning parents have been able to come in the summer to Colonyhouse, a cabin owned by Oregon Writers Colony. From the cabin, we’ve enjoyed the beach and forest adventures in Tillamook County.

The first year, in spite of my urging that they bring gym shoes, kids wore flip-flops into the swamp and spruce forest. After that, word got around, gym shoes came out on forest exploring day.

Evenings at Colonyhouse we wrote and shared stories. The swamp mud and the skunk cabbage figured heavily in several sci-fi and mystery tales.

The school year always seemed too short. The many weeks of class didn’t give all the young authors a chance to bring their stories to completion, but the stories as they existed by the end of each year made me want to know how the students might take them forward.

See the cover for this year’s anthology.

The students sent me selfies to use on the cover. From these images, you can guess how much fun we all had.

Anthology 2015 covers, IMG_2356

I look forward to seeing what these students may do with writing as they mature. The depth of their ideas, their intense passions about right and wrong, and the quality of their efforts and writing skill is a credit to the creative powers of amazing young authors.

Two Coins in my Pocket

I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out two quarters. Before I paid for my taco, I took a second look at the coins. That look sent me scrambling for enough change to pay for the already-ordered lunch and still keep the two coins.

These coins sat in my hand and spoke deeply to me about the choices we make in art.

The first coin:

SD 2006

SD 2006

South Dakota as depicted in the state coin of 2006, shows Mount Rushmore – the complete view of the four presidents. It also depicts a Chinese Ring-Necked Pheasant, the state bird, in flight. All of this is encircled by ears of wheat, reminiscent of the plumes of wheat on an old penny. The wheat is also a nod to a critical product of the state.

The state coin does a good job of depicting South Dakota. The layout of space and choice of the bird in action are good, but the artist was asked to sacrifice quality for quantity in the design. As a result, the faces of Mount Rushmore suffer. President Jefferson’s face especially is distorted. It is so small it cannot be minted to look anything like the original carving (shown below). And the flight of the bird is unrelated to the monument over which it flies.

And then I saw the second coin:

SD 2006

SD 2006

The second coin is the 2013 National Park quarter. Though the depiction is again of Mount Rushmore, here the focus is on the first two president’s heads in side view, and on the process of creating the sculpture. In front of Washington’s majestic silhouette, there is a hint of scaffolding. Beside a very recognizable Jefferson, we see a roped carver swinging his mallet. (the carver is Gutzon Borglum, I assume, or his son, )

In the first coin, mint artist, John Mercanti, whose design was chosen by the people of the state, took the pulled-back camera view and depict many items in a small space. In the second, the designer chose to move in, show the monumental size of two presidents. The artist also showed action that was directly related to the carvings.

The second coin, with its tight focus, tells a story and thus is much more memorable design.

I will try to remember this artistic truth when I create. Focus. Bring my audience into the focus of my art. Let the carefully chosen part depict the complex whole.

Do you have examples of this choice in your own work? Camera pulled back? Camera in tight? Are there examples of the long-view, close-view choice in paintings, sculptures, poetry, plays, or books you’ve enjoyed? Write to me at about your own ideas and examples. Let’s hear it for perspective choice.

By the way, I want to give credit to the artist of the National Park coin, but the website doesn’t list the designers. I have written to them with the request that they give credit to the artists. When they answer, I will let you know.

Celebrate the Day, whatever Day you’ve got!

Tillamook Mudslide and Thou Beside Me

Twenty-five years ago, our daughter, then a young college student, planned an anniversary party for Woody and me in the fellowship hall of our church. Her friends and brothers helped. The ladies of the church helped. Our friends and family came and we had a wonderful celebration.

That happened to be an Olympic Year, which fact led to the following event. Toward the end of that party, Woody’s dad, Grandpa Clarence, made a toast: “Woody and Rae, you’ve got the Silver. Now go for the Gold!”

“Hear! Hear!” our friends and family urged.

Later, Clarence’s twin sister, Aunt Clara, came up to hug us. She said, with her charming twinkle, “I’m really glad I was able to come today, because, for your fiftieth anniversary, I have other plans.”

What fun we had that evening, and what wonderful memories – some of beloved friends and family still in our lives, some of lovely people now gone and whom we miss.

And today, we are celebrating that Gold Anniversary.

Our daughter, now a busy mother and teacher, with no party-planning time at the beginning of a school year, asked us, “How are you celebrating your 50th?”

We said, “We’re going to a Thorns game the night before. Go Thorns! In the morning, we’ll take your little brother to the airport for a meeting in New York, and then we’ll just continue the same party we’ve enjoyed for fifty years.”

“That’s it?”

“Maybe some Netflix.”Flowers wait for dinner

“That’s it?”

“When you’ve enjoyed each other’s company through joys, and supported each other through sorrows, if you are glad when the other half arrives home at the end of the day, that’s one big celebration. We hope to continue right up until we join Aunt Clara in her other plans, and show Grandpa Clarence that we took his advice.”

“Okay,” she said, “party on.”

Well, beyond that much celebration, here is a photo of the flowers on our table tonight.

The table is set, ready for the pot roast that’s in the oven. We’ll probably get into some kind of world discussion often generated by the map on the wall. And there is also Tillamook Mud Slide ice cream. We’ll have that halfway through a movie.

The Teller Window

Here’s an ‘aha’ about perspective and choice that hit me just this week.
I write a lot. And I design gardens. The garden business works to get me out with people and plants, some of whom appear in my fiction – the plants, I mean.
I’m Out and About, working on gardens, I need lunch and a break from shoveling. I’m Celiac. Gotta be Gluten free. Since I also want good taste, I head off to Taco Time. Taco Time means crispy tacos with real meat, excellent cheese and fresh lettuce.
So, that’s where I was when this revelation came to me about perspective and choice.
Our local Taco Time has the pay window on the passenger side of the car – big time bummer. Bad design some generations ago.

Passenger Side Pay Window

Passenger Side Pay Window

For years, there has always been this problem situation between me and the server. She’s inside protected by a heavy window that surrounds her cash register. Between us is my car window, plus the three feet of empty space that I have to lean over.
You can imagine how much fun that becomes on a rainy day. We have a lot of rainy days in Portland (Have had, but global warming is another discussion.)
I expect rain when I’m installing a garden. I don’t want rain on my lunch, but my narrow range of food choice sends me to this wrong-side window. I unbuckle my seat belt and lean way over, hoping none of my change ends up in the driveway.
However, this week, I whip into the drive-through, order at the crackly little speaker. I drive to the dummkopfishe window, roll down my car window, experience the stiff breeze and wait.
Amazing miracle!
Out comes the server with my drink. Outside! No window between us. She hands me my drink, takes my bills, trots back inside and returns with my change and my taco.
Customer service!
Fifty years of teller window. Fifty years after the building got its bad design, the new manager makes this simple change. And he gets to know his customers by coming out himself. Door to door service
I get out of my car and thank that manager. Such a simple gesture from him and his staff. Huge turn around for them and for me.
The episode made me come home and take another look at myself. What limitations am I simply accepting? In my writing? In my gardens? In life?
What can each of us change with a small change in perspective?
Write to me at about your own ideas and examples.

Why Survive the Apocalypse?


I’m looking at our world in a brand new way this year. Life is fragile, and we are part of that fragile fabric. Aware of the ephemeral, I decided to gift my family with the first step in a survival kit. Ever since, I’ve been watching the small habits and charming humor in the people around me. I’ve been smelling the morning, greeting the raccoon and the chickadees, really studying the texture, the light and the shadows in places that I often take for granted.

I’ve had some readers comment that they don’t want to be around after the apocalypse, (or after the Great Subduction Zone Earthquake).

I understand that feeling. Recovery is work, and fear, and discovered loss. Loss would make recovery seem like shoving one foot in front of the other, even though we also might,at the same time, discover people and things that have not been lost.

But I have a list of what I want to be around for – people, places and ideas I want to assist in recovery, if I’m still here.

Of course, family is the beginning of that list: Woody, my resilient and positive husband, our wonderful kids, grandkids, brothers and sisters, all the in-laws and out. And then friends, my great, close and wise friends. Kids I’ve taught and get a kick out of because of their humor, their imaginations and their energy.

I would hope to find all these people, though some may be missing. Together, we survivors could rebuild our world, create support, maybe even improve our community, over time.

And I would look for my neighbors, some of whom already are friends, and some who might become better friends if we have to rely on each other.

And I will want to see what flowers arise from the ashes during the next spring. Fireweed and pine trees open first after forest fires. What will grow through our broken concrete? I want to be as strong and persistent as those flowers.

Some folks who’ve insisted they don’t want to be around afterward also discuss the innate savagery of people following a disaster. Yes, we all have that capacity. Indeed we do. But we all also have the capability for mutual building. I want to be here to help encourage the building.

Is this blog a downer? I’m thinking here about the people I appreciate, believe in, and with whom I want to recover. You’ve got that list inside of you as well.

So, let’s plan and get ready for the next event, whether the event is bugs in our water or the earth moving under our feet. Here are some photos of things I’ll watch for and nurture afterward.

20150106_172849 20150425_104053 20150425_103646 scan0034 0517021550 IMG_5905 20131020_184744






















Next issue of Rae: Always Asking will be about cooking after the big event. Tune in and see what I’m learning and what resources I’m finding.

Put Some Pizzaz in your Pockets

Imagine big red coat, aged. Faded. Sleeves sport house paint. Imagine a jacket good for yard work – in the back yard onl

y, a jacket great for embarrassing your family. Now you’ve it – Ugly Coat.

Ugly Coat

Ugly Coat

 Ugly Coat and I are out with Handy-Guy Mike, changing the back-up batteries on the smoke alarm systems in a duplex. I pocket the old batteries – some have been in the smoke alarm two or three years. They back up a system that is wired into the building. But we change them even though they are not dead. Not even chirping yet. Don’t want a backup system that fails, right?

 Mike and I follow this battery excursion with some bathtub caulking, some kitchen plumbing-rust-blow-out, and then outdoor clean up, yard debris recycling and moss reduction on the stairs. Now you know how Ugly Coat became ugly.

 But Coat is so outrageously ugly that even Handy Guy asks about its age.

“This venerable husk?” I say. “This integument? This membrane?  Age? Greater than yours, Handy.”

 He eyes it, then, speechless, moves to the next mossy step, trowel in hand.

 And again, I have put off those who would demean this Bargain Find, this Economical Coverage, this Cheap Crust.

 Our work done, my coat and I take off for home which needs its own plumbing-rust-blow-out and moss reduction.

 Late in the day, I put my hand in my pocket, thinking to put the batteries in the recycling bag.

 My hand pops back out and directly into my mouth. Yipes! Hot, like Microwave Hot when the below-surface boil explodes. I dash for the ice cubes while tossing batteries on the floor and shucking Ugly Coat. That’s when I notice the black hole. Whole galaxies could disappear in this black pocket hole.

I study the floored batteries. Separately benign. Together, a flaming menace. But how?

“Well,” explains my electrical engineer son-in-law. “They weren’t dead. Plus, these batteries have positive and negative on the same end. All other types have positive and negative on opposite ends.”

Burning Up

Burning Up

 “You mean the ends connected between two batteries?”

 “No, the ones that might have connected that way would just have equalized the amount of energy between the two of them and nothing more would have happened.

But these — the positive and negative finials on your batteries merely had to touch the metallic side of another battery. Energy began flowing and since some of the batteries still had quite a bit of life left, energy flowed for a long time.”

 “What if I had hung that coat in the mud room, next to other coats?”

 “Potential house fire.”

 “I suppose I can’t put them together in the battery recycling bag.”

“Best not.”

 I call Handy-Guy Mike to warn him. He has some of these batteries in his pocket as well.

 “I know,” he says. “I was sitting here watching basketball with my fellows. I felt my pocket getting warmer and warmer, and I’m thinking ‘This is kind of embarrassing’ and I decide to sit still and then make some excuse to go to the bathroom. Then all of a sudden I can’t stand the heat and I jump up and stuff my hand down my pocket and yank out these blazing batteries and I’m jumping around and . . .and . . . and Yes it was embarrassing. But thank you for calling. An hour sooner would have been good, ‘cause, I gotta say, my reputation rises in moments like this.”

 So, my Handy-Guy is feeling burnt, and my Ugly Coat is pocket-less on the interior of one side.

Rowlf checking out the burnt pocket smell

Rowlf checking out the burnt pocket smell

 But the coat is not on its way to the landfill. What a wonderful life lesson it provides. (Here, read, “What a fine new coat to wear while doing my job — the job of embarrassing my children!”)

 The batteries? They lie separately on the mantel, an inch between and all facing the same



direction. I’ve already tested their ability to start a fire individually. If I put a piece of tinfoil on one battery so that it touches both the positive and negative finials . . . Pouf!

 My semi-spent batteries await the warm summer day when I can take them out to the driveway. I’ll start a kindling fire with whatever energy is left in them, because, not only do I love old and ugly coats, I also love discovering a new way to do campfires that the family boy scouts won’t have considered.

 That is, I’ll be using something short of a blow torch.