A Break In The Clouds

   I have spent a good deal of my adulthood waiting to die, wanting to die or planning my death. It is hard to explain to a healthy person with normal brain chemistry. I have a disease, and it is ostracized by the general public, much like shaming a child for contracting measles.
   I am lumped in with schizophrenics, and other, much more severe psychotic disorders. It is true that bipolar disorder is a spectrum illness, and there are individuals that hallucinate, experience violent mood swings and lose touch with reality. I am somewhere in the middle, very grounded to this life, but still suicidal, still very miserable.
   The thing to know about bipolars is that we have a rather short shelf-life. We tend to fight the disease for as long as we can stand it, until one day all is lost, and it becomes too much. Van Gogh, Cobain, Williams, and countless other brilliant minds simply could not outrun the heavy absence of serotonin, any longer.
Lone Crow Illustration   I admit that I have purposely straddled a line when publishing this blog in the past. Just skimming the surface of my mental illness, still timid of public reaction, scared of being deserted by neighbors and recent acquaintances.
   This is not paranoia, I have been honest with close friends in the past, and watched as they retreated, themselves not capable of empathy. Most are unable to acknowledge their own pain and frailty and my openness must instill sheer terror. Why would one show their personal weakness? Well, in an attempt at bonding and self-revelation, it might help explain one's own perspective with life's struggles. 
   The truth is mental illness is everywhere, common in every class of human society. It is not just homeless bums or delinquent youth, or even catatonic elderly in state asylums. It is also rich housewives, proud individuals, alcoholics, community leaders, and even first responders. It may not be that happiness is elusive, it might be that misery is more pervasive. With a little openess, you will pause and reflect on your loved ones who are struggling. Stand with us, so that science will find us. The only way for truth to be seen, is to bring it out in the light.


The Squire Jaguar Bridge Hack

Custom Squire Fiesta Red Jaguar
Custom Squire Jaguar
   Squire made this Frankenstein model in an attempt to look like it had been living on the wall of a smoke laden music store for decades. Fender later came out with their own Pawn Shop Series which had a similar aesthetic. It does look old, but the amalgamation of parts turned out to be a bummer. The Toronado bridge they chose looks interesting and dated, however it is impossible to set intonation.
   I had waffled over purchasing this Fiesta Red Jaguar for several years, there were a few other details that had kept me from pulling the trigger as well. Instead of waiting any longer and possibly missing out, I trusted my gut, and decided to take on the challenge and solve those handful of quirky problems myself.
   My longtime quest has been the search for a lightweight replacement for my Les Paul. It has been hard to replicate that heavy mahogany sound. Thanks to the searing tone of the Duncan designed humbucker set, I now have it.
   I already owned a custom Jagmaster from the same Vintage Modified series, and it had been my number one for the last five years. The Jagmaster fell short of my tone desires because of it's tremelo, and even with the trem blocked into a hardtail, it was thin on treble sustain. Since I adored everything else about my Jagmaster, I wanted to essentially create a clone, starting with this basic Jaguar and its solid body.
   In order to test the guitar's potential and expedite this project, I opted for a top-load StewMac bridge (I was not ready to drill through body ferrules, yet.) I properly located the placement of the new bridge and carefully shaved the original pickguard to fit.
   Another problem that I noted was the toggle switch location, I needed to move it to the lower horn which left a hole in the pickguard. I found a glossy black, automotive hole plug that did the job well enough. While the strings were off, I wanted to go ahead and simplify the electronics. I was not a fan of the huge, double stacked knobs sticking out and I did not need their individual controls. I admit that at this point in my playing, I just want the basics, which ironically is the antithesis of a loaded Fender Jaguar. I found a Semour Duncan schematic and wired one volume pot, and one tone pot to the three-way toggle switch. Perfect!
   Sometimes you have to make what you want in life, if your skills permit. I have watched the different iterations of Jags over the years and none of them have included all the items on my wishlist. I would not have had the nerve to mess with a more valuable model, but these Squire's are a great starting point for project guitars. With a few modifications and a good setup, they can be brought into the realm of their much more expensive cousins.


The Great Subaru Rim Swap

   Normally, I would not have written about this ordeal, but I gained so much misinformation from trusted sources that I needed to clarify for anyone searching for similar answers. The question, can you safely change your factory alloy wheels from one car to another? You may be surprised by what I found.
Subaru Impreza and Forester Rim Swap   I recently upgraded my grocery-getter to a 2016 Subaru Impreza. My wife had already picked up her 2015 Forester before leaving Montana, Yay no sales tax! The newer Impreza was at the limits of our budget and left me with little money for the silver rims I wanted. We scoured eBay and junk car sites trolling for a set of "lightly used" stock rims to replace the set that came with the car. This proved to still be too expensive, not to mention a little sketchy.
   I really like the style of the wheels that came on the Sport edition Impreza, but the graphite color really clashed with the dark gray body color and made me like the car less. After chewing on this for several days with no real monetary answer, it struck me to check the Forester's dimensions, and sure enough all the specs were identical across the board with the exception of color and style.
   Me being as thorough as I am, I wanted an authority to sanction the swapping of rims from the Impreza to the Forester and vice versa. Now the actual tires needed to stay with the vehicles because they are different sizes, and not compatible. This prospect proved to be trickier than I thought.
   My local Subaru dealer barely listened to my question and shot it down because it required more than five seconds of thought. They claimed that the calipers would be in the way, laughable, did I mention the rims are the exact same dimensions? Next, a National parts supplier gave me a pan legal response that it was not a good idea because cars are designed with specific wheel diameters which affect speedometer, and odometer reading as well as vehicle control. Great, but did I mention the OEM tires would stay with the vehicles?
   My local warehouse club also got weak-kneed when their computer said they were not allowed to do the swap. I went deep into forums discussing similar issues and found little expert guidance. I did notice that the same rims on my Impreza were used in the late 1990's on a Legacy Outback and other stock alloy rims had been used interchangeably between models over the years.
   Finally, I stopped at a couple local tire shops looking for someone to just try it. Both shops were willing to at least try and saw the matter clearly. Within a half hour both cars were off the lifts and my expense was the mounting and balancing for eight wheels. So yes, you can move whatever wheels around you want as long as the diameter, width, lug pattern and offset are identical. The other reason for me to be this thorough was that both cars are still under warranty and I did not want to give anybody a reason to pass on any future, covered repairs.

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