Riding The Horse – Part Four – It’s Only A Workshop If You Work

There is an Australian meme that says every man needs a shed. It is attacked by those who wishes to press themselves forward, demanding equality, but fortunately in this case that generally involves dirt and hard work. You can let ‘em into your shed to rant away, but leave the door open for when they discover the spiders and the pools of old motor oil.

If you wish to make a hobby of making things, you have a choice as wide as the world of what to do. Every object you see about you was made by someone. With the possible exception of an nuclear reactor, you can do the same. Indeed, if you are prepared to make scale modelling your thing, you can have your own Oak Ridge, Hanford, or Semipalatinsk. And the advantage of a scale model is that you won’t die of radiation poisoning.

Each hobbyist’s bent will be different, and each can be guided by what they like in life, and what materials they like to work with. 

You like wood? Make tables, chairs, beds, cabinets, boats, chessboards, boxes, etc, etc. The hardware stores and wood merchants are your friends and will have machines, tools, and finishes enough to keep you busy forever. There will be books, magazines, YouTube videos, clubs and societies all over that you can repair to for advice and admiration. Go on – knock yourself out.

Metal your thing? Howzabout blacksmithing, etching, welding, fabrication, boatbuilding, furniture, clockmaking, casting, railway work. Expect to get big and black and dirty doing any of these and become resigned to the blood blister and the burn.

Plastic? Model kits, artwork, fabrication, furniture, casting, imbedding.

Mechanical things? Oh Dear Me. Classic cars, hot rods, car maintenance, clockmaking watch repair, camera repair, motor boats, steam engines, oil engines, old farm machinery, tool restoration, appliance repair… be careful to get good at what you do but keep it secret because as soon as people find out that you can fix things they will come to you to have things fixed. Your hobby will become work and you’ll need a hobby to relax from your hobby…

Cloth? Clothing making, dressmaking, costume making, sail making, awning work, upholstery, knitting, tatting, crochet work, embroidery, lacework…I cannot list all the things you could make with fibres…

Leather? Shoes, saddles, belts, bodices, BDSM gear, military equipages, furniture, art, carvings, bookbinding, fake steaks at cheap restaurants…

Paper? Bookbinding, paper making, magazine and pamphlet printing, origami, model making.

Rubber? Well…besides BDSM wedding dresses, you can become a tyre repair as a hobby. Or make mats, boating gear, or other waterproof goods.

Electronics? Despite the fact that we get lots of goods from overseas, we also have good electronic stores that sell components and circuits. You can make or mend  – your choice. You can get zapped either way.

Plants? Grow a garden, grow a lawn, grow a vineyard, grow an orchard. Stop when you run afoul of agricultural law or produce boards and you should be fine. Exhibit, eat, or dig in the results of your endeavours. If you smoke them, expect to be visited by either the local Don or the local detectives.

In short, there are no end of things that you can make. If you make them for yourself, you are rewarded with both pride of ownership and competence. Sometimes you can gain a financial advantage making your own goods – sometimes not. Be wary of making things for profit, as this quickly erodes the hobby benefit.

Be prepared to go from one form of making to another as you gain skill and need to expand. Also be aware that you can get to a plateau or a rut – I have 5 tables made by an old hobbyist who was a friend of my late mother-in-law. They are a delight individually but a nuisance in a group. I hope to give several away to the unwary.

Remember, as well, that some making hobbies border upon the expressive or artistic pursuits. This is no bad thing in itself unless the maker sees more in it than there actually is – or if someone else tries to make art out of mere work.

” We Make Everyone Faster…”

” …With Injected Twisted Face. ”

This was a sign on a building seen yesterday as I drove to the hobby shop. Not a small sign, either – big one. Had I not been in traffic I would have driven off the road in amazement. As it was, the puzzling message dogged me all through my shopping  – so much so that I deliberately drove back to stare at the sign. The other signs on the building gave it away – the place is a golf shop and apparently injected twisted face technology is something that makes you a better golfer.

Indeed, the internet reveals that this technology is legal as well as technical…to quote TODAY’S GOLFER magazine…

” In 2018 TaylorMade made headlines with their new ‘Twist Face’ technology in the M3 and M4 drivers. This year, they’ve improved upon that technology in their newest M5 and M6 models by coming up with a way to make every driver face they produce on the legal limit of COR (coefficient of restitution). ”

I have not gone past this statement for fear of cooties. The fact that there is a coefficient of something, and that there is a legal limit to it and that this is connected to the pastime of hitting a white ball over grass into a hole seems both diagnostic and sad. I should be ashamed to associate with any sport that needed to be regulated by lawyers, no matter how good the drinks were at the bar when you finished it. The legal eagles might be in there seeking restitution…

There would be the constant danger on the links of either flouting the sports law deliberately or worse  – adhering to it zealously. Soon you would be watching others to see that they were not gaining an advantage by invoking clauses and torts and one day you would stand up in the bar and cry ” Mr. Chairman! Point of order! “.

And the portal of hell would open and swallow your soul. And your twisted face golf club.

PS: Have you got your legal qualifications to allow you to read weblog columns? Have it ready for when The Inspector calls.

Debt Now – Pay Later

Some people are forced to go into debt…by health or family crises. By disasters. By any number of disturbing events in the universe. This column is not for them.

It is for the people who are daily being bombarded by the debt industry…the complex mechanism that wishes to enslave you and to wring as much money out of you as it can before you die. In many cases if you take refuge in the grave it will succeed in squeezing your family to get more money…and you will not be able to stop them.

It is for the people who have a vague notion that they are missing out on something if they do not have the shiny new toy in the KB HiFi catalogue – or the new telephone from the Orange store – or the furniture from the giant warehouse. And who are tempted into having now with the idea of paying later.

In some cases the temptation contains a phrase that tells you there is no payment required for six months – or no interest charged for a year. Be sure that this is not altruism or pity for you – the finance companies and the stores will extract the full measure in time. And in the case of some deals that full measure can be payment two or four times the initial price.

The time to avoid this is at the start. By all means read the advertising flyer before you ball it up and start the chip heater with it. But scrunch it all the same. Whenever you are looking at luxury goods you are looking at a wound – not a bandage. If you did not need them before your read the flyer, you do not need them after you’ve read it either. Be happy with the warm water from the chip heater.

No debt is good and having no debt is better. The people who tell you that you need to enter into it to qualify for more of it are the moral equivalent of dynamiters.

The Sheer Joy Of Repair

I am always dismayed when I see something I own that is breaking down. Whether it is clothing, the car, tools and furniture, or the house itself, there is sense of loss to it all.

And yet – then there is a sometimes a spark of happiness to be found:

a. If the thing that is breaking or broken was something that was never used and was just being kept for the sake of appearances, the loss is a great chance to be free.

b. If life continues as comfortably and calmly as before it tells you that whatever it was was superfluous.

c. If you can get the thing repaired economically, you show frugal common sense.

d. If you can repair it yourself, you are Daniel Boone standing on a mountain top – king of all you survey.

Today it was the covering of my iPad – a magnetic case that protects the thing and shuts it off automatically upon closing. My pad keeps a charge far longer this way. It had split the pressed-leather covering away from the framework. Time to go get a new one from Apple…for $ 79.00…

Or time to get out the Weldbond PVA glue, two bits of foamcore board and some clothes pegs as clamps. Glue, clamp, set in the sun to dry. And an hour later pocket a virtual $ 79.00 toward my holiday trip.

On other days it has been shoes, tables, tents and awnings, worn shop tools, and a myriad of broken, fixable items that have been put back into service. Every day after a repair is a day in which the goods pay you – not the other way around.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If it is, do.

Confusion Is Optional – Apply For Our Brochure

We are contemplating digging a missile silo into our front lawn and installing an old Minuteman I we got off eBay. I initially wanted an Atlas D but the wife said she isn’t going to get up at night to pump in the liquid oxygen because it would disturb the cat. I am going to have to have a solid rocket and be satisfied with that. I agreed if I can have a concrete door that slides aside on rollers.

The problem with this is when you go to the BGC or Midland Bricks display at the Homecrafts exhibition they have any number of concrete options to choose from. And they also put them on their website. Unfortunately the numbers on the website don’t match the samples at the exhibition. You can’t really be sure if the colour you choose is the one that will be delivered.

It didn’t use to be this tough. In Australia there was a lot of concrete used for building  – sometimes delivered by trucks or sometimes mixed on-site by Italian grano workers. You pretty well got one standard product – grey – and you could paint over it later if you wanted to be flash. Now there’s integrated colours plus choices in the sort of rocks in the cement. You can have it all exposed and polished it you wish, but that costs more. I’d be satisfied with a simple 3 metre-thick blast door in plain grey but the wife is fussy. She’s looking at colour cards and trying to match the paint on the missile fuselage. I’m smart enough to shut up but it is all going to take forever…

I feel like just parking a mobile SS-4 trailer in the drive and making do with that.

 

Oh, It’s A Lie…

A lie, I tell you. A damned lie.  I mean the advertising line that some particular product, service, or workshop make digital easy. Nothing makes digital easy…and if anything slightly eases the burden, you can be sure that someone will spot it and quash the improvement.

The closest to making things easy is the Apple business. Your iMac or Macbook is probably nearest to a seamless experience that you’re ever going to get…provided you are prepared to play it entirely the Apple way. You’ll need to surrender yourself to somewhat of a mom-and-pop spinster schoolteacher level of tech, but if you can do what you want to do in those boundaries, you can do it without having to panic.

Okay. I lied. You’ll have to panic a few times a year as the Apple people update something or someone else in the electronic kingdom tries to usurp power, but you can have confidence that Apple has more lawyers, geeks, and possibly assassins than the rebels, and it will all end soon.

I’m not proud – I am prepared to be mom-and-pop. I’ve been pop for about 40 years and it is a fine thing. And if Apple can make the engine start every morning and get the computer out of the garage and onto the road, I’m prepared to pay for it. I do not need to be cutting edge – in fact cutting edges are anathema to me as I take aspirin.

But what I DO want is the other players in the game to stop indulging in electronic dick fights and let simple things that work continue to exist as those simple things. I’ve yet to get the WordPress/Facebook link to start up again properly and it is proving frustrating.

And I digitally frustrate easily…

Going Thump In The Night

I often wonder about the societies that still believe in ghosts, spirits, demons, angels, and local council politicians. Do they sit in fear in the dark whenever the trees rustle or the roof timbers contract? Are they scattering talismans around their beds to keep the monsters at bay? If that’s the case, what sort of talismans would sell best, and can we get them wholesale from China?

For that matter, are the Chinese sitting up in bed clutching the covers, and staring into the darkness?

I have my moments, but most of them are related to where the darned cat is at any one time – ready to jump on my middle parts or already on the bed with its bum an inch from my face? I have taken to keeping a small torch by the bedside. If I see the bum one more time I am going poke it with the torch…

For the most part the house is quiet after midnight, except on late soccer nights. Then I trust in the football fans to keep the demons away from the door. If they could do it at a lower volume I would appreciate it, but one of them is Italian and there is no lower volume  on an Italian football fan. I have come to accept this and will hope for increased deafness in old age.

There are few external disturbances in the neighbourhood – we’re a middle-class suburb and have learned not to leave loose change visible in the consoles of our cars. I leave overdue bills there, hoping that if someone breaks in they’ll rush away with them and pay them for me.

T’was not always thus, as we had several years of mad motorcar chases in our suburb when we first moved here in the 1980’s. These seem to have died down – the miscreants growing up to be about 50 now and younger ones not replacing them. It may have been the hoon laws that stopped this – laws that confiscate and crush cars used by dangerous drivers. Or maybe it has moved out to wilder outer suburbs. We still get overflights to our local light plane airport at all hours, but these are mercy flights by the Royal Flying Doctor aircraft and are really a matter of civic pride.

We’re in the middle of time as far as our houses go – too early to have holes in the eaves that would let possums or rats in and too late to have much native fauna about. The cat doesn’t count as native or fauna.

At least we don’t have the same lives as Mr Lucien – the Moldavian cray fisherman I met some 30 years ago. He was working in Australia to get money for his family back home and before he returned he got me to make up dentistry kits so that they could get their teeth repaired. He also took back drums of Arlec electrical cable, weatherproof work lights, and motion-detecting sensors that turned them on at night.

When I asked about them he said it was to protect the family’s fish farm ponds. When thieves were trying to break in, the lights would illuminate them. I asked what happened then…

” We shoot them with Kalashnikov. Is good and work every time…”

He was completely serious…