WARNING: The following presentation discusses a form of wood finishing which involves the use of an open flame, a torch to be more specific. Please be familiar with your particular device and read all cautions and warnings for said device. The Sting Of The Scorpion Blog nor myself will not be held responsible for any errors in your judgement. The information provided in this post is educational under the assumption that the person attempting this particular technique has a certain degree of common sense. Therefore, if YOU fuck it up YOU yourself is responsible for fucking it up, not me or this blog. One needs to be aware of the dangers involved when using an open flame. In the end, practice first, practice again, and be extremely fucking careful. Again, I will not be held responsible for YOUR errors or victories. The following information is based on my personal experience and knowledge. Got it?


When I lived in Japan I was very lucky to have stumbled upon an older gentleman who was willing to teach me a wood finishing technique called Yaki-Matsu (burnt pine). Since then I have practiced and somewhat perfected my own personal version of this wood finishing technique. I cannot stress enough, seriously, that this can turn into a disaster in a blink of an eye since wood burns, but with a little practice one can tame the flame to make a very unique look on anything made of wood. Also, let me just state that I have 30 plus years experience in woodworking and cabinetry. Therefore, I hate to call this a DIY style post. My intent is to share a technique of wood finishing that others can try on small to large projects. Before you try any of this at home be sure you are aware of what you are doing and be responsible enough to know your personal limits and skills.


In reality this post won’t be an all inclusive do it yourself post on how to burn the grain of the wood to get this special look. Basically, I’m just answering all the questions in advance since it might be hard to grasp the concept and design of my project personally. As one can see from the pictures, my project was to create an island space in a rustic nature to blend in with the cedar woodwork in my sister’s 100+ year old farm house. Also, before all of y’all self appointed experts try to get in my ass for not doing it your way just feel free to hold those opinions. Like any “tradition”, I have taken this technique and made it my own. Trust me, I’ve ruined more than one piece of wood over the years. As mentioned, my sister wanted something unique, not the typical look, not something out of the box, and something that had a ” wow factor”. Overall, it was a very tall order to fill, and not to mention that this has been a time consuming project to say the absolute very least. So let’s begin the highlight reel.


Where y’all see an island used to be a wall with a pass through hole in it. First step, demo the wall and support the second floor. Then to create bar height seating as well as an island that is kitchen counter height. The secondary purpose of the island was for storage. Once the construction portion was complete it was time to talk finishing it all off. I chose to “antique” and distress everything except for the two cedar posts and the actual counter and bar surfaces. Antiquing this much area, to include the ceiling features took a great deal of time. I remind everyone that everything you see was created, from the tongue and groove beaded boards to all the trim, the cabinet doors, and so forth. I left my treatment of the top a secret, a surprise that was either going to make or break this project. By now I can assume that many of y’all have Googled the term “Yaki-Matsu” so I can simply tell y’all it is a technique in which the grain of the wood is kissed with the open flame of a torch. I chose this instead of staining or leaving it natural because of its true uniqueness, as no two boards look the same. When the time came to mount the wood I used square headed barn nails that I liberated from a 147 year old barn we tore down last summer. Yes, I have hundreds and hundreds of feet of barn lumber and no it is not for sale. At the time of these pictures I had not applied the varathane yet. After burning the one all that needs to be done is rubbing the wood down with a dry, clean, soft cloth.


I will post more pictures when I’m 100% done. Hell, the purpose of this post was to let some concerned individuals know what I’ve been up to because they think I have quit blogging or that I’m dead. So far I have around 200 hours invested into it, I probably have at least 20 to go. Just know this, as a final warning, one will come across occasions when using the torch in the house becomes necessary to touch up edges and so forth, remember that most things in our houses don’t react well with open flames, I’m just saying. I guess as I look back over what has been written I can see this wasn’t much of a tutorial at all, which is fitting because I such giving instructions for the most part. If nothing else maybe y’all learned that there is yet another way to beautifully treat wood without stain or paint. I suppose, in the end, I’ll just share some pictures with y’all and call it good.

Just Slide It In Slowly

Wait, wait, wait motherfuckers, it’s not at all what your dirty damn minds are thinking. Or is it? Is it? It’s actually quite innocent, but, there’s more, it goes much deeper than that, because a conversation with a tech services department really left me questioning the number I dialed when seeking assistance. But now I have jumped to the middle of the story, so let me back track a bit and tell you a story, a true story, a story which happened to me this past weekend. In the end, no matter what, I’m very innocent, my entire conversation reminded me, quite a bit, about the commercial where the guy is talking to his insurance agent at three in the morning when his wife slips in, turning on the light wanting to know what in the fuck he is doing and who in the fuck he is talking to. The difference is I was not getting insurance information from Jake, I was getting information from, wait, nevermind, you have to wait til that part of the story. So, I sense your confusion, so perhaps I need to just start.

A few weeks ago I ordered a set of replacement headlights for my daughter’s older Nissan Sentra because both of the headlights had a crack in them which in turn was letting in moisture which in turn was creating its own set of problems. I try not to plug companies for free here, but JC Whitney was a great help in finding the product I needed. In fact, when I was having problems on line I did call them to request help, the guy I spoke with at that time was Jack, he helped me place my order and I was on my merry little way while I waited patiently for my box to arrive. Within a few days the box did arrive that contained the headlight replacement kit. From the look of it I assumed it was all correct and as soon as I had a day without rain I was going to be all over it. I had a long wait, but this past Sunday was the magic day. I got out my trusty orange bucket to use as a chair, my toolbox, a frosty cold beverage, and the box of headlights. I was ready to go. Home alone, the breeze blowing nicely, and my music playing out of her car loudly. Is 7 in the morning too early to listen to Crazy Train? I didn’t think so either.

Removing the old ones was a bit of a challenge, the manual that was provided mentioned it was the “typical” way to disassemble the existing light housings. But, and this is a general complaint to translated 3 times over instructions, something that I need is always lost in translation, literally. After finding the remaining 2 screws, the housing popped right out into my lap. It was like magic, presto, its out. I felt as though I had beat the car which challenged me with the tiny hidden screws. I need more “victories” like this in my life, they are simple but they are still mine. After completely cleaning both sides out, spider webs and debris caked up over the years, I was ready to begin. Meanwhile my wife is calling me to check up on me, see if I’m bleeding or not, and to inform me that if I need an extra set of hands she will be home in ten minutes. Sure, why not, I can wait, help is help. After fifteen minutes and no wife I decided to brave it all alone and just finish. Within ten minutes the new light housings were installed. That was the easy part. Then I find myself getting just a wee bit pissed. The electrical connection from the car is rectangular in shape, the new lights come with a more square connection. Needless to say I would have been extremely mad, but I found a harness kit in the box, one for each side. I had two choices, use the adapter to crossover or cut the cars wires and install the female ends so it all works. I chose the adapters. Here’s the catch, they still don’t fit. Thinking I’m stupid some how, I redo the same steps multiple times.


Having no luck, I roll back on my bucket, light a cigarette, have a drink of Dew, and re-read the instructions thinking this shit shouldn’t be so hard. Unable to figure it out I call the 1-800 # for the manufacturer who claims to be open 24/7. I call regretting having to make the call, these things never end well, I’m not looking to speak to someone in a call center halfway around the world. After navigating the rather simple menu I’m on hold for less than 30 seconds and speaking to a woman who speaks fluent English, my guess is that it might even be her native tongue. She has a very pleasant voice, she guided me through finding all the product information she required to find the proper spec sheet and instructions. After reading though them she comments that the way they are written is pretty confusing, a statement which I agreed to quickly. So, now its time to begin, I put my phone on speaker, turn up the volume, and set the phone on the radiator housing. She commented that she liked Ozzy, old school Ozzy like she hears in the background, and she wishes she was alive back in his glory days because she would have been at all of his concerts rocking out. So, we go through the plugging and unplugging routine, still no go, still not working. Then, she asks me if I put on the protective gel on the connectors to inhibit corrosion. Nope. So, this is where it got fun, because my wife comes up behind me quietly and kisses me on the cheek. The operator tells me to hold the male section (I’m still on speaker) in one hand and squeeze generous amounts of lube on the protruding prongs, assuring to push into the crevices with my fingers. My wife is just looking at me with that look, y’all know the look, hands on the hips, ect. I’m asked to put the male part down and pick up the female plug, she tells me to just fill up the entire cavity with the gel because she wants me to see it oozing out when the connection is finally made. Now, I’m instructed to grab each plug, male and female and gently make the connection.

Excuse me ma’am, but how much force do I need to apply, the male section will not go in easy. She tells me to grip both ends firmly and just slide it in slowly with steady straight pressure. Bingo! the parts clicked together. She asked if I needed assistance with the other side. Out of the blue my wife says, “it’s safe to say that I can help him slip his male part into the proper female part now that he knows he was in the wrong position to make the connection”. She looked at me, hit end call, and told me I wasn’t holding my tongue right in the first place. She was a bit confused to whom I was talking to in the first place. So, after I explained to my wife who I called for help we just started laughing our asses off, because this shit was hilarious as hell. Indeed, the other side went in without a hitch. I watched my wife walk off, I hated to see her leave but I do enjoy the show. As I cleaned up, I started thinking that the operator (Amanda) reminded me of that insurance commercial as well as those new erection deficiency commercials that are on the television nowadays, the one with the porn star telling you that you should buy their shit if you are over forty. HA! I’m pushing fifty and still function like a teeanaged boy. It’s like a genie in a bottle, think about it, if you don’t get the relation then you got problems.

In the end, with the aid of some great technical support, I was able to tame the beast and finish the challenge of exchanging the light housings. I’m grateful for Amanda’s assistance and that she was able to have a little fun with me. Now, to explain it better to y’all, it was not my dirty mind who took that into the gutter, it was my wife’s, who needed to share  the story with her sister and her friend, and while I was listening to her version she made it sound I was on the phone with a 1-900 call girl or something. All I can say is I liked Amanda’s approach, more often than not we call the service centers and are left in utter disappointment. Amanda left me with the impression that she knew her fucking job and she was customer friendly. All call center employees need to take notes because it never hurts (to at least act) to like your job. It projects across to your customers fast. Anyway, I just thought you would have fun hearing this story.

Speaking Of Googling It……….


One federal agency is charging other offices and taxpayers to provide government reports that are largely available free of charge on the Internet. It is essentially the “let me Google that for you” office of the federal government. Home to more than three million records, the Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service (NTIS) collects “government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business-related information” and reports and sells them to other federal agencies. Only it turns out most of what it sells can also be found for free on the Internet with little effort. Established more than 60 years ago, NTIS is a vestige of the pre-Internet era when a lot of the reports the agency collects were not widely available; however, as times have changed agency has not.

Required by law to be largely self-sustaining, NTIS charges other federal agencies to access its collection of reports. However, a November 2012 review of the office by GAO uncovered that about three-quarters of the reports in the NTIS archives were available from other public sources. Specifically, GAO estimated that approximately 621,917, or about 74 percent, of the 841,502 reports were readily available from one of the other four publicly available sources GAO searched. The GAO explains, that the source that most often had the reports GAO was searching for was located at Google. In addition, reports could be found on the website of the issuing federal department, the Government Printing Office’s website, or USA.gov.

Yet, federal departments continue to send taxpayer dollars to NTIS for reports they could get for free with a simple web search. NTIS notes that one of its best-sellers is the Armed Forces Recipe Service, available on CD-ROM for $79. However, the Armed Forces Recipe Service recipe index is also available online and can be downloaded for free directly from the Quartermaster Corps Website. Further, a recipe index that offers 1,700 convenient recipes for groups of 100 that can be easily adjusted up or down, likely falls outside the scope of technical, scientific, and engineering reports the office should be collecting.

Another report sold by NTIS is the 2009 Public Health Service Food Code produced by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is available for $69. Alternatively, the report is available for free on the Food and Drug Administration’s website. Moreover, GAO found much of the work outdated because NTIS has focused largely on growing its repertoire of older reports. Specifically, NTIS added approximately 841,500 reports to its repository during fiscal years 1990 through 2011, and approximately 62 percent of these had publication dates of 2000 or earlier. While the office worked to accumulate reports older than those dated 2000, GAO reports that only 21 percent of the reports distributed from 2001 to 2011 were dated older than 1989. Meanwhile, nearly 100 percent of the reports from 2009-2011 were distributed. However, these are also the most likely to be available online elsewhere.

More than 12 years ago, GAO issued two different reports explaining NTIS would need to soon reconsider its function and fee-based model, as the Internet made of the reports it sold available for free. Shuttering the NTIS entirely was first suggested in 1999, by the Clinton administration’s Secretary of Commerce William Daley, who contended declining sales revenues soon would not be sufficient to recover all of NTIS’ operating costs. The Secretary attributed this decline to other agencies’ practice of making their research results available to the public for free through the Web.

According to GAO, the decline in revenue for its products continues to call into question whether NTIS’s basic statutory function of acting as a self-financing repository and disseminator of scientific and technical information is still viable. As the actual “let me Google that for you” website explains, this is for all of those people who find it more convenient to bother you with their question than Google it for themselves. But when NTIS is doing the Googling, the search response comes with a price tag for taxpayers. Federal agencies pay NTIS millions of dollars each year to provide government reports that are available for free online and can be found with a simple Google search. They need to start paying me because I Google everything!


Information found for this “Your Tax Dollars @ Work” post was done by using a Google search. Information compiled from multiple public websites & media outlets.