“Four Windows” by David Glass is officially available in the Amazon Kindle store

I have written a collection of vignettes called Four Windows which can be found here for the ultra-low price of $0.99.

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The collection is called Four Windows because it gives the reader a peek into four very different scenarios, each one intended to more or less give you the feels.  Please give it a try and share it with someone you know and feel free to comment here or write a review on Amazon.  Thanks in advance, Dear Reader and enjoy!




“There is no subsitute for hard work.” – Thomas Edison

Or: Why you should buy an American car and learn how to fix it yourself.

I drive a 1997 Chevy Blazer.  It is made out of American steel and wears a bowtie for every occasion.  When I got the Blue Blazer (as Baby Glass calls it) a few years ago, it only had 37000 miles on it.  The previous (original) owners had bought it, driven it to Canada, and used it there during their vacations.  It is still in amazing condition for how old it is and I really enjoy having it.

That being said, the Blazer drives me crazy sometimes.  Since I bought it, I have replaced the brake booster [which I didn’t even know existed until it went out], ABS pump, water pump, AC compressor, belts, and pulleys.  I have also fixed a couple of wiring issues.  And, of course, I change the oil and oil filter.

I say “of course” because not only is it probably the easiest thing that I’ve done on that car, but it is much easier to do than you might imagine.  So easy and cost-effective, in fact, that I would encourage you to try and do it yourself.

Here’s what you need:

Oil – Make sure you get the right viscosity and make sure you get high mileage oil if your car is around 100K miles or more.  It should be noted on either your oil cap or in the owner’s manual.

Filter – There are handy books right by the filters at the auto parts store where you can look up your car by the make/model/year and see which one you need.

Receptacle for old oil – I have a plastic storage container that collects the oil until I can put it into an empty jug which I can then take back to the auto parts store for recycling.  Or, if you want to commit, you can buy an receptacle like this one that is designed for oil changes and has both a spot to put your old filter to drain and a place for the oil pain plug.  Make sure it has at least about a 6-quart capacity and is maybe about 18 inches long.

Funnel – not 100% necessary but definitely helpful in both pouring the new oil into the engine and pouring the old oil into the empty oil jug, if that’s the way you’re going to do it.

 Wrench/socket wrench – This is necessary to remove the plug and drain the oil.  A quick Google will most likely tell you what size you’ll need, but you can always do trial and error.  I would go with the metric set.  Somewhere around the 15mm mark.

Screwdriver – There is a little door that I have to open to get to my oil filter.  Locate your filter beforehand to determine what you’ll need to access it.  Also, I’ve needed to puncture the old oil filter with a screwdriver before so that I could get it out without buying an..

Oil Filter wrench – Sometimes you need a little extra oomph to get the filter out, especially if you’re overdue.  These wrenches can cost anywhere from $5 upwards and are pretty handy if you get in a bind.

A rag – chances are, you’re going to drop your plug into your oil receptacle.  Or get some on your hand.  No matter what, it’s good to have one available.  Make sure it’s something you’re willing to get rid of.3 10631

How to change your oil:

If you can, let your car cool down for a few hours or change your oil first thing in the morning before you go anywhere.  Oil gets hot, and hot oil is not something you want splashing around on you while you’re underneath your car.

If you have a low-riding vehicle, you’re going to want to jack your car up on one side to make it easier to get to everything.  I don’t need to jack up the Blazer, but it’s helps.  Make sure to block off your wheels if you’re on an incline to make sure your car doesn’t rock off of the jack.  Then remove your oil cap (under the hood).

Next, you’re going to want to locate your drain plug.  It’s usually located towards the center of the undercarriage at the back of the engine block.  It looks like a bolt (because it is one) and shouldn’t be too hard to find.  Place your receptacle under the plug, placing is so that there is some space for the oil to shoot out.

Loosen the drain plug slowly.  Oil should start to flow after the few full turn or two.  Continue to loosen the plug until it is full removed, adjusting your receptacle as necessary to catch all of the oil.

At this point, you can take a break and allow the oil to drain as much as you’d like.  This is one of the benefits of changing your own oil because a mechanic won’t wait as long as you can.

When you feel comfortable with how much oil has drained, replace the drain plug and tighten it all the way.  Carefully grab your receptacle and move it to the front of your vehicle.  Place it under your filter’s location and loosen the filter.  There will be oil coming out of the nozzle that the filter attaches to, as well as from the filter itself.

Allow both to drain.

Before you attached your new filter, take some of your oil (a dipped finger works well) and lubricate the rubber gasket on the filter.  Install the filter per the manufacturer’s instructions and close the access compartment if applicable.  Now you’re ready to add your new oil.

Put your funnel in the oil fill tube and pour the oil in.  Then replace the oil cap, lower your car and unblock your wheels.

You should be good to go!

I shared this with you because I think it’s important to be able to fix things yourself because it saves you money and encourages pride of ownership and reduces waste.  It’s also good to support American manufacturers and thereby the American economy. That allows us as individuals and the nation as a whole to be more self-sufficient.
Good luck and safe travels,


“The only true knowledge is in knowing you know nothing” – Socrates

[Socrates is a total trip.  I was first introduced to the Ancients in high school and continued to learn from and be amazed by them through my undergraduate Political Science work.  Their ideas are so grand in the sense that they encompassed such a vast expanse of life and thought.  More on that later, perhaps.]

I like to borrow knowledge from other people.  I think that’s where part of the knowledge’s power come from: transferability.  Or maybe communicability.  Some of the most powerful viruses are the ones that be transmitted from one host to the next with relative ease.  That’s not to say that knowledge is a disease, but more of a helpful bacteria like gut flora or the stuff in kefir.  Anyway, knowledge is great and I love to read.  I’ve put together a list of books that are really awesome non-fiction resources for self-reliance (see previous post) and I would fully recommend them to anyone who’s interested in being in control of more aspects of their life.  I have provided links to author’s blog when applicable.  I have also provided an opportunity to support your local bookstore and explore your local library by not including links to big-name retailers.  Here are the books in no particular order:

The Scavengers’ Manifesto


My wife got this and the next book as a present for me on a whim and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both.  There were a couple of harsh reviews on Amazon about this one, but what I think is great is that it helps you to change your mindset on the economic cycle and our nation’s obsession with new stuff that is quickly discarded (but not very biodegradeable).  I think it’s worth the read, whether you scavenge it or not.  The writers also have a wordpress blog at scavenger.wordpress.com that it a great expansion on the book’s information.

Green Barbarians: Lively Bravely on Your Home Planet

green barbs

This one is a mind-blowing dive into the corrupt and misleading world of.. everything really.  The book is well-organized into sections like the “The Barbarian Body” and “At the Barbarian’s Table” which discuss the dangers of and alternatives to conventional deodorants and soaps to the disturbingly damaging effects of soy on the human body, “Barbarian Pets” and “Little Barbarians” which, amongst other things, discuss the dangers that our children and pets are being exposed to just so corporate fat cats can continue to wear their human leather and drink dinosaur blood or something (this last part is from my mind, not the book).  Definitely an informative and thought-provoking read.

Possum Living

possum living

One of the most ground-shaking non-fiction books I’ve read, Possum Living, is a somewhat-biographical passing of homestead knowhow and general information.  Freed is the name the author adopted after she and her father essentially went of the grid.  They lived relatively comfortably on just short of $1500 a year in the 1970s by raising chickens and rabbits, fishing, burning wood for heat, gardening and preserving.  One of the standout parts for me included cures for common ailments, most of which involve homemade spirits and a run.

Backyard Lumberjack


Backyard Lumberjack is awesome because it not only tells you how to cut down a tree, but how to identify what kind of tree it is, what it’s best used for, and what kind of axe you need to fell it.  There are also a lot of great tips on buying chainsaws and gear.  It’s good for a look and father-and-son team Frank and Stephen Philbrick did a great job organizing and writing it.  I even flip through it sometimes without purpose because the photos are fantastic.

Building With Secondhand Stuff


If you’re interested in the idea of re-claiming, re-vamping, re-purposing, and re-using salvaged materials, then, as the name clearly suggests, this book is a great resource.  Like Backyard Lumberjack, this book does a wonderful job of explaining the equipment that you need to get started safely.  It also helps you to become more familiar with the best materials to re-use and some good leads on how to find them.  Another similarity to Backyard Lumberjack that I enjoy is the stellar photography.

Little House in the Suburbs


This is kind of where it all started for me.  I saw this book at the library and decided to give it a whirl.  Turns out, this fascinating book contains a wealth of knowledge on all manner of topics like raising chickens, goats, and bees; gardening and composting; and making household and personal cleaning items and soaps.  It helped to me visualize the kind of long-term and perpetual projects that I would like to have once we’ve found somewhere to put down roots as a family.

I also want to mention:

The Urban Homestead


I am in the processing of reading the first edition of this book and I’m enjoying it so far.  I’ll come back when I’m done and elaborate if necessary.

I hope you get something out of one or more of these books.  Remember, knowledge is power and, as Self-Reliants, it is our responsible to be stewards and users of that knowledge.

-D. Glass