Wednesday, September 15, 2010

FILOA Website Update

A couple of small steps have been made to bring about a working website for our newly established locksmith association. I would have said, bring to pass; but that kind of wording sounded biblical and I don’t think Moses had a laptop with internet connectivity when he got the Ten Commandments. Even so, the ability to get our simple message to so many people; the internet for good or bad is nothing less than a miracle.

When I first came up with the idea for a new locksmith organization one of the first thoughts was to reserve a place on the internet, something with FILOA in its name for search engines to find. I purchased the “rights” to and, figuring one or both would eventually become our “home” address; that seems to be partially true.

The lady at Digital Monkey Web Design working on “making it happen” has explained ways to save money while at the same time accomplishing the many technical requirements I listed for our website. Since I already had a working website for my business she “extended”, that’s a magician’s term to explain away something which goes beyond my ability to understand, she extended my original URL to permit the inclusion of FILOA’s website. She further explained how, through yet another miracle, the previously purchased URL’s could be “auto-linked”; no different than having a telephone line “push” to a cell phone for when you’re away from the office.

None of this has to make sense to me as long as it works. Right now I can review the work performed, as can anyone, by visiting the “work in progress” . The next project she’s working on right now is the Members Only section which will have password protection.

The Membership Application link functions properly and permits anyone to download a PDF copy to their printer. Take a look at the professional design of the application form; logo and lettering were all enhanced from my original design. I will have to ask her to add instructions to “Attach a copy of your business card” in the blank space near the bottom of the form. That way we can obtain a modicum of validation that the person applying is involved in some way with locksmith work. I’ll have her add a few lines for mailing address, phone number and email address at the same time.

I’ve been promoted to Website Administrator, a new hat to wear. I’ll have to learn my duties, all technical in nature, to avoid crashing the site or doing irreparable damage to it. These duties and responsibilities will happen about the same time the website goes on line as a working entity.

We’ve received inquiries from locksmiths outside the local Houston area, folks who’ve expressed an interest. Just this morning I opened an email from a locksmith in Alabama, (Thank You, Andy) who stumbled across us on a Google search; he too finds government encroachment on the locksmith industry an important issue.

We look forward to having others share in building this organization; especially the financial support which until now has been coming from my petty cash envelope. One fellow from Great Britain sent me a congratulations note for starting up this new locksmith association; sorry, you must be an American citizen to join. Yesterday H.L. Flake Security Hardware became our first paying advertiser; another means of paying for our website.

T.F. Stern, GSP

This article is cross posted to T F Stern’s Rantings , where the banner reads, “My Op-ed pieces are generally too long, and most definitely too far to the right for our Liberal friends in the press to print. The one time they printed my rantings, they edited it so badly as to destroy its meaning...and so I now have decided to BLOG.”

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why You Should Become a Member of FILOA

Here’s a story I sent off to ALOA’s Keynotes and was published as part of their membership drive several years ago. I figure it should work just as well for the Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America. I wanted to try a few things with linking to see if they would work when this all gets sorted out on a web site that is being created at this time.

Last years tomato garden may have been my very best ever. The plants grew thick with tomatoes that were large and sweet. I enjoy a vine-ripened tomato sliced with a touch of salt; not much can beat the flavor. Each year I take a few photographs to compare with prior crops. In this way, long after the last tomato has been eaten I can remember with a certain amount of satisfaction, having grown them in my back yard and look forward with renewed anticipation, the warmth of spring and yet another chance to plant some more. It wasn’t until mid-winter I discovered the reason for their success; tomato fairies.
No, I haven’t been re-visiting the 60’s and I haven’t taken a pain pill for my back in over a week. Like I said, I took pictures of my tomato plants; the best photograph I’ve been using on my computer as wall paper behind all the icons. This past week I was cleaning up the desk top, getting rid of some unused program icons which left a hole, as it were, in the middle of the desk top icons. More of the tomato plant picture could be seen, an area that heretofore I had ignored, my interest had been focused on the huge tomatoes. It now showed a part of the plants that were mostly leaves, off to the left of the part that had the tomatoes. There, caught in the moment, mixed in with the lush green of the tomato plant leaves; was a clear and distinct image of a tomato fairy. She must have been flying in and out doing her magic at the very moment I took the picture; her wings outstretched as the reflection of the blue sky danced on them.
Not being an expert on tomato fairies, I have to assume that the one in my picture must be a female fairy; either that or male fairies wear long gowns too. Her translucent figure blended in so well with the leaves as to render her nearly invisible. If it had not been for the sparkling of fairy dust near her head I would never have picked her out of the background. There was no denying her presence, the light blue wisp of gown as it gently floated above the plant, her face rising with the glow of tiny luminescent orbs to light her way. I showed the picture to my wife; but she insists my imagination has run away with me, that the image is the product of two leaves of varied hue and nothing more.

I’ve been involved with the locksmith business since 1976; starting out as a locksmith apprentice and eventually working for myself as an automotive locksmith specialist. I joined the Associated Locksmiths of America back in 1978. The fellow who introduced that organization to me explained that part of the yearly membership dues went to the Key Fairies. When I started to laugh he explained, in a sincere voice aged with maturity, how they work for the professional locksmith. First he reminded me that, by nature and a solemn oath, Key Fairies are an honest lot and forbidden to steal keys in order to produce customers. They are permitted; however, to lay a corner of the daily newspaper over a set of keys which might lead the rightful owner to believe the keys had been lost. Fairies also have the ability to take a set of car keys from one pocket and move them to another, cause keys to fall into desk drawers and so on in order to provide opportunities for locksmiths to make a living. In my twenty-five years as a locksmith I have never once seen a Key Fairy; all the same I have no doubt they have helped my business to grow. I renew my membership with ALOA without fail and know it’s a good investment. My wife can go on about the leaves making it appear or give the illusion of something that might look like a fairy. To see such things one has to have the faith of a child, regardless of age. I remember my mother telling me how she took a fairy from Staten Island across to Manhattan when she was young. What more need I say?
Now click on this link to download a copy of FILOA’s Membership Application .

Last but not least I wanted to see if I could import a small ad for a potential customer, one that would purchase space on our site for a nominal fee and which would be supported by a linked URL within the picture.  If it works fine, if not I’ll have to do some more creative work.  Hopefully you’ll see a business card for Dollar/Thrifty Car Rental and when you click on the picture of the card click on the picture of the card it should take you to a different site where I’d stored a copy of that card to obtain a URL.   
Oh, well; looks like I have some more work to do, the picture link didn't work.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Membership in FILOA

I’m in the process of generating a website for Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America (FILOA). This page along with a secondary button to download a printable application form will show up when somebody clicks on the Membership Button. There will be a Members Only Button, password protected, which will link to technical articles not intended for the general public as well as a page where new or used locksmith items may be purchased.

I recently received an email letter from the Sgt at Arms of the Greater Houston Locksmith Association (GHLA) apologizing for their lack of timely responses to letters I’d sent regarding various issues over the last year. While I was glad to see the email, it only added to my resolve in making sure our new organization, (FILOA), addressed concerns of independent locksmiths regarding their industry. It should be noted, no such letters have been received from ALOA; my membership in their organization must not have been sufficiently important to them.

I was a member of the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) from 1978 - 2009 as mentioned previously and it became painfully clear the all encompassing umbrella of the Security Industry left independent locksmiths without a strong voice; at times wondering if we had a voice at all. My original purpose for joining ALOA had to do with my acknowledgement that one day the locksmith industry would become licensed and it stood to reason, members of a large national locksmith association would be ‘grandfathered in’ as a matter of practicality; as it turned out I was correct.

There are all manner of qualifications for a locksmith license in the State of Texas as well as rules and regulations which were originally intended to protect citizens from unscrupulous fly by night operators; did I forget to mention a hefty yearly license fee? The problem with a state bureaucracy running the locksmith industry, at least here in Texas; they’ve became masters rather than servants of the industry.

“…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

One of the purposes of FILOA will be to simplify the lives of locksmiths by replacing arbitrary onerous rules and regulations which have been imposed on our industry with reasonable and prudent rules and regulations more in tune with a free market system. The single most vocal complaint I’ve heard from independent locksmiths has to do with asinine mandatory continuing education requirements imposed by the State of Texas in order to maintain a locksmith license. I suspect it is the same in other states. Lilliputian hoops and barrels do nothing to improve a working locksmith’s ability; they only serve to increase the cost of doing business and they certainly do nothing to improve the safety of the public.

There’s a trend, state bureaucracies micromanaging locksmiths; this must be reversed. A multitude of like minded independent locksmiths would be heard much more than acting separately. This runs counter to the agenda of the ALOA which would have each and every state control vast portions of the free market. In general the security industry has been legislated to death; but more specifically locksmiths, through licensing, burdensome rules and regulations written into law and overseen by bureaucrats with little if any responsibility to those whom they manage over.

America is built on the idea that hard working citizens are self disciplined and self governing. The Proper Role of Government is to protect its citizens, not enslave them. Our constitution provides a means to contain the powers of government; however, over the years many powers have been usurped and the result is loss of individual liberty. Call me a dreamer or an idealist; but I intend to do my part in restoring America to its greatness by adhering to the foundations established at its inception.

You will notice, upon reading the main portion of FILOA’s Membership Application shown below, the requirements are minimal. American citizens have a natural God given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Wanting to associate with other locksmiths requires no license or background check; your signature is your bond.

Basic requirements:

Applicants must be involved in the locksmith industry as a locksmith, apprentice or tinker with locks as a hobby. It is important to accept and adhere to the principle of working only on locks or devices for which the rightful owner has authorized your skills and services.

Applicants must of good character and have a desire to follow the Ten Commandments.

Individuals with felony convictions need not apply regardless of having repented.

Applicants must be legal residents of the United States of America.

I_______________________________ (Print Full Name) have read the above basic requirements and would like to join the Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America.

My signature represents a promise to live up to these standards.

_________________________________ ( Applicant’s Signature) ____/___/____( Date)

One year membership dues $ 15.00 (check or money order ) will be used to build and maintain a website which has been reserved; but is not in operation yet. A temporary website has been established at and will have to do for now.

Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America
P.O. Box 681001
Houston, Texas 77268-1001

There’s a place to affix a copy of your business card to the official application form, which I might add has a really neat looking logo built into the letterhead. I included that part about felons not being eligible because there are certain limits which preclude membership, being a convicted felon is one of them.

I’m hoping to have the official FILOA website up and running very soon; however, if you’ve a mind to join now, without having the nifty looking letterhead Membership Application Form, then cut and paste the portion as shown and jump right in.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

The Key Just Quit Working

Every now and then I get a call for locksmith service which brings a smile to my mercenary heart; this morning’s call fit the bill. A regular customer, an auto repair shop over by the airport had a customer’s car in for repairs, “The key just quit working”, was the complaint.

When the call came in I was in the middle of another job; but promised I’d put him next on the list since I was fairly close, only a few miles away. The shop owner told me it was one of those “chip” keys but there was a hole in it. In my mind I pictured one of the older GM VATS/PASS keys, the kind where a resistor pellet was plainly visible in the key blade. From what little information was given over the phone I expected to find the pellet had fallen out and needed a replacement key with the proper resistance pellet; not so as you can see by the photograph.
The customer noticed how the slot which attaches the key to his ring had fractured making it easy for the key to fall off the ring. He’d tried superglue; but didn’t trust the repair so he drilled a new hole in the middle of the plastic to make sure the key stayed on the ring. What he’d failed to take into consideration was the transponder which was hidden inside the head of the key, the transponder which sends an encrypted string of data to the car’s onboard computer which enables the vehicle to start; drilled right through the heart, so to speak.

This was a 2000 Le Sabre which uses the PK3 transponder key and GM programming system. I recently upgraded my programming computer to the T-Code Pro and have been familiarizing myself with a few of the changes from the older version. While in the process of setting up the computer to program I was unable to find Le Sabre under the Buick heading; a mild inconvenience. I thought for a moment, what other GM vehicles used the same system and remembered Chevrolet’s Venture van used the same system; the two computers didn’t care what body style wrapped them; I was now working on a Buick Venture Sedan.

I convinced the shop owner to let me keep the original customer’s key so I could add it to my collection of interesting items. I have a Nissan Altima key which had been customized by a welder; but that’s a whole ‘nother’ story as they say in East Texas.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Symbols Unlock Our History

This past week I posted a very short article showing a logo design which will be used for a new locksmith association, Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America (FILOA). The new association is the result of frustration in dealing with a long established association which lost its primary focus, to represent the locksmith industry. In keeping with the spirit of America’s founders, a separation was necessitated. I “borrowed” elements of the logo from the Dollar bill and a picture of an antique key I saw while blitzing through hundreds of photographs on the internet; altered a bit here and there and the finished product I claimed as “original”.

There’s an old saying, “That which we appreciate we appropriate”. Hanging around folks who are more refined, spiritually or intellectually will improve those who “borrow” carefully; but with a little imagination the phrase could easily be expanded to incorporate other concepts as well.

What do the symbols mean? Some of the answers will have to be partial; their original meaning going back thousands of years to civilizations long gone remain a mystery. It’s interesting how symbols seem to validate eternal truths, as if they speak to our spirits in concepts which attempt to define what words cannot.

Stewart Coerver wrote an article, 15 Things You Never Noticed on a Dollar , included some of the history behind the Great Seal found on the back of the Dollar.

“What does Annuit Coeptis mean?

The first of three Latin phrases on the back of the bill is translated as “God has favored our undertakings.” Many founders, Franklin and George Washington among them, believed that God’s will was behind the successful creation of the United States.”

The statement might also be viewed as a prayer, a prayer that our undertakings are in keeping with His eternal laws and principles; perfection is a process rather than a final destination. It’s appropriate that the “all seeing eye”, as found atop the pyramid inside the Great Seal, represent His presence on our money and other daily observances.

The Seal on the Dollar bill jumped out and begged to be recognized while contemplating a symbol to represent a new locksmith association. This was a means of articulating a desire to conduct our affairs in a manner pleasing to God’s eternal laws, laws established before the creation of this world . Self governance and discipline define the Great Experiment we call America, not micromanaged servitude through government legislative decrees or bureaucratic rules and regulations.

Our Creator established this nation on eternal principles as found in the Declaration of Independence and His hand directs our course as recorded in modern scripture .

“And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.”

It’s no accident a pyramid with 13 steps was used in the Great Seal. The original 13 colonies had the courage to recognize the need for a new nation, one which required a separation from the old world, a nation of fiercely independent individuals who recognized God as our King; not some cheap imitation sitting on a man made throne. The date “1776” at the base of the pyramid in Roman Numerals serves as a reminder of our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain and all other European monarchies. America would be built on a solid foundation, upon the Rock of our Redeemer, a foundation that would endure, as symbolized by the ancient pyramids of Egypt,.

Stephen Mehler wrote extensively on the origin of the word pyramid and stated, “ The word pyramid is derived from the Greek words PYRAMIS and PYRAMIDOS. The meaning of the word PRYAMIS is obscure and may relate to the shape of a pyramid. The word Pyramidos has been translated as “Fire In The Middle”.”

Pyramids were built to generate energy, at least that’s what Mehler’s “Fire In The Middle” was referring to; a thought shared by many Egyptologists. What in thunder was so all fire important that an entire nation, under the direction of a Pharaoh, would spend a life time’s effort erecting massive structures to generate energy? The answer is written on the walls of these pyramids, life eternal. The pyramid was a conduit whereby man could reach the eternities.

We could get into quite a discussion on how ancient Egyptians came to grasp the idea of mortal resurrection and eternal life; but that would be a distraction at this time. For the sake of today’s dialogue regarding the use of the pyramid as a symbol for a new nation, and by extension a new locksmith association; the pyramid represents a refiner’s fire, the energy supplied by God which can bring about perfection.

There are some who suggest the unfinished pyramid as shown on the Seal represents the idea of a nation attempting to obtain perfection, much as individuals strive to improve according to Christ’s example to his disciples. The work is a process rather than a final destination. As individuals created in His image we’re challenged to live up to our potential on our own volition, not through forced cooperation; but by voluntarily abiding by the precepts He has given us, simply put, The Golden Rule.

The last element of FILOA’s logo which I’ll address is the antique key. It represents a couple of ideas, the ability to unlock a physical or spiritual entity; but more importantly it supports the principle of having authority to do so. Locksmiths must recognize the idea of having authority prior to putting their skills to use. This is a universal acknowledgement of property rights, which are an extension of individual rights as given by God.

John Adams wrote, “Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty.”

Thomas Jefferson in a similar vein while in correspondence with Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours left this insight, “A right to property is founded in our natural wants, in the means with which we are endowed to satisfy these wants, and the right to what we acquire by those means without violating the similar rights of other sensible beings.”

Some members of our society have a problem with that last part, “without violating the similar rights of other sensible beings”. Holding the keys of authority has to do with acknowledging rightful ownership and use. Locksmiths have a moral and legal responsibility to their community to establish rightful ownership prior to applying their skills. Having an antique key directly associated with the Great Seal establishes that important linked symbolism.

The banner for this fledgling locksmith association shouldn’t surprise anyone having read my interpretation of symbols used in FILOA’s logo. The banner expresses foundational American concepts, that individuals in this association acknowledge and follow God’s eternal laws, making it unnecessary for government, with its multitude of laws and bureaucracies full of rules and regulations to encumber righteous hard working individuals in a free market system.

“Refining our God given talents one lock at a time”

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

FILOA has a Logo

I had some time to play with a logo design and a little help from a friend who knows more about digital design; between the two of us we got pretty close to what I’d imagined in my head.

Next week another friend is coming by to help set up and design a professional looking website, one that will make a smile come to your face.   I’ll bet some big corporation would have paid a gazillion dollars to get a logo design as good; this one has a few pieces of printer paper, some printer ink and a couple of hours of art work thrown together.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Who can be a member of FILOA?

To be considered for membership in  Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America (FILOA) you have to be at least 5’ 10” tall and weigh no more than 250 lbs…; no that won’t work, gotta’ come up with some realistic membership rules. I read a short article by Steve Farrell over at The Moral Liberal on Fundamental Rights of Societies, Clubs and Nations ; interesting since my topic today had to do with organizing a new locksmith association.

“Every society from a great nation down to a club has a right of declaring the conditions on which new members should be admitted.” Source: Madison’s Notes on the Federal Convention, August 9, 1787, Gouvernor Morris: delegate from Pennsylvania.

I’m taking a huge leap here; let’s say that anyone interested in becoming a member of FILOA should be involved in the business of locksmith work as a hobby, apprentice, journeyman locksmith or in some other way interested in the trade/profession. Notice how trade/profession is carefully fused; no accident or coincidence; if it bothers your sense of self righteousness you’re not going to feel comfortable with our organization. We’ll accept tinkering amateurs and folks with letters behind their names; just remember to clean up after yourselves as there is no maid service.

We’re going to come up with a membership form which can be downloaded from our site, a form which has to be signed and then returned via the U.S. Postal Service with a real stamp on it. It wouldn’t do to let just anyone become a member. Just look what happened to Congress; no Sir, we’re going to have to be much more selective if you’re going to be admitted into this group.

The membership form will include a place for a notary to witness your signature testifying that you are not a convicted felon and that you are worthy to hold a locksmith license in states which require such a license or consider such licenses fundamentally unconstitutional; that should about cover the integrity clause once we get around to establishing such guidelines.

I’ll run all this by a lawyer friend of mine so he can have a good laugh and then do some serious organizing. The biggest challenge to individuals forming such a group like FILOA is the bureaucratic disaster we call government. They’re always doing their level best to invent powers whereby they might get around constitutional restraints. You can bet these pencil heads will not take kindly to having a group of fiercely independent minded folks getting together.

We need a great looking logo, something to put at the top of our letterhead and website. It could have crossed antique keys like other locksmith organizations; but they might see that as an infringement on their logo so be original if you plan to submit a design. Scan your artwork and send it along with your membership dues before we start doing our in depth criminal background checks.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.