Monthly Archives: April 2013

Do You Really Want Your Plane to be That Plain?

A smoothing plane

A smoothing plane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human beings. As a race, we are practically overflowing with diversity. Not the type of diversity constantly reported by our news media (I’ll leave that to our brain-dead elected officials in our nation’s capital), but the type that goes along with the old adage: “Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, etc.”

From the time of Adam and Eve, man has come up with as many things to keep himself occupied as there are people in existence. The thing I cannot seem to wrap my brain around is that the farther we progress, the more we seem to resist that progression.

Now as I have mentioned in previous blogs, I used to be a carpenter by trade. From the time man started to work in wood, he has devised new tools. And as these tools were used within the trade, new innovations made them more practical and productive. If you look back, we’ve come from sharpening arrows with pieces of flint to sliding an unfinished piece of wood into a machine and having a finished product emerging from the other end.

Now I’ll admit, as a wood worker, when I’m crafting something as small as a cabinet or something as large as a house, I want that feeling of satisfaction that would not be possible if I were to use a machine to do all the work.

However, I do want to take advantage of the technological advances that have been made with tools over the years. For instance, I prefer ripping a piece of plywood with a handsaw as opposed to a circular saw,or planing a ten-foot piece of oak with a hand-plane instead of a floor-mounted motorized plane.

Now here is what I find to be a little quirky: Why do people who have access to modern tools insist on crafting projects using tools which may be centuries old? Now by no means am I trying to attach a negative connotation to this practice. I try to embrace a live-and-let-live philosophy. Truth be told I’ve adopted several “no progress” policies myself, … but that’s another post.

Another example: We have developed the clearest and most distortion-free sound by way of the compact disc, and yet I know some people who still listen to vinyl, cassettes and get this: eight-track tapes. Again, I’m just sayin’…

Even as I write this post, with as many corrections and changes as I’ve made, I cannot imagine having to pen this with anything other than a computer.

Once again, I find myself nearing the end of another post…or do I?

Stop by next week, I’m feeling a “To be continued” in the making.

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Ya Gotta Believe Me! I’ve Been Framed.

Claude Monet

Claude Monet (Photo credit: Martin Beek)

Take a look around your home. You’ll find that almost every wall or shelf contains a picture of some kind. Whether it be family, friends, little league sports pictures or any of a million other items, you can rest assured they have invaded your abode.

We tend to look at the picture or artwork contained within a frame, but how often do we pay attention to the frame itself? A photograph of our parents fifty years ago may induce thoughts of that special bond and melancholy. But what about the fine mahogany frame, hand-rubbed with tongue oil and finished with a metal edge?

There’s also your child’s first-grade picture. You remember the first time you held him. The day you put him on the bus and the sadness you felt as he left the protection of your arms… then the frame decorated with the letters of the alphabet catches your attention. This isn’t just any frame, but one you painstakingly put together yourself. It also conjures fond memories of your first gift of time to a loved one.

Perhaps, you’re a collector of fine art. The canvas may contain the priceless brush strokes of Monet or Reiner, masterpieces no doubt, but any more so than the frame that surrounds them? If we break the process down, we find the artist first choosing a subject; then painstakingly selecting, mixing, and matching colors before the first drop of paint touches canvas; then and only then, can the hand of the master begin his work.

Also an artisan in his own right, the frame maker carefully selects the wood to be used. It must be made from the correct species of tree, paying close attention to moisture content, color and grain. Once the chosen pieces have been cut to the proper width, he carefully shaves the rabbit into the back of each to accept the canvas. Then he begins the meticulous relief carvings on the front of the frame. Once this is complete, the corners will be fitted with compound miters. The frame can be stained, clear finished, or decorated with gold leaf.

I’ll have to admit, I’m a little biased when it comes to this procedure. Even though I’m an author now, in a past life I was a carpenter and cabinet-maker.

The majority of woodworkers today will admit they would rather have a root-canal rather than build a picture frame. I share this sentiment; however, when you think about it, without the frame, the picture would have nowhere to be. Can you imagine walking into a house and seeing pictures taped to walls, propped up on bookshelves, or leaning against random items to keep them from falling over?

The picture frame shares a bit of the same life as a good plot in a novel. Just as the ornate frame surrounding the Mona Lisa re-enforces her delicate media, a strong plot throughout your novel will keep the reader interested just as if they were gazing at Leonardo Da Vinci’s greatest creation.

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Lithium? Kinda Sounds Like You Talk With a Lisp.

English: Duracell battery

English: Duracell battery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Portable power, instant electricity, wireless wattage and cylindrical acidity.  We’re constantly reminded of its value to humanity by bunny rabbits  beating drums, sayings such as “coppertop,”  and reminders that we can transport ourselves more economically if we own a hybrid .

What am I talking about?  The battery, of course.

Now imagine for a moment the possibility that batteries are a thing that exist only in science fiction novels and in the mind of futuristic beings for use in strange, as yet to have been created, unimaginable devices.

What would we do?  No more wiling away the hours listening to our portable radios.  No more digital watches to keep us on time or digital pictures to take photos of us being on time.

When storms come (as they are often wont to do), what is left to light our way? Candles?  Hand held torches?  Have you ever tried to shine a flashlight that contains no batteries?  Let the power go out and it’s goodbye Johnny Beam-O-Light.

And you might as well get use to hand cranking your car, hand cranking your camera and hand cranking your television remote, because push as you might them buttons ain’t gonna change the channels.

Just to drive the point home a little deeper:  your toothbrush wouldn’t work, so all your teeth are gonna fall out. Your alarm clock no longer has backup power so it will constantly blink, causing major problems with your eyesight. And lastly, your invisible fence no longer shocks your dog to keep him in the yard, so he’ll be run over by a car.

And worst of all, no more Christmas presents with “batteries not included” stamped across the box!

Now consider my solution for this life altering problem.  A few years ago (somewhere around 250 AD) an enterprising young man (we’ll call him Ugg) took a ceramic vessel, slid a copper tube into the vessels opening and inserted an iron rod through a stopper and into the copper tube. The stopper acted as an insulator, keeping the iron and copper from touching.  An acid such as lemon juice or vinegar was then poured into the vessel.  A strange reaction occurred, causing electrons to flow and producing 1.1 volts of power.  Viola! The Bagdad battery.

Problem solved.  All we have to do is work out the kinks.  Issues such as weight and the number of vessels it would take to power the smallest of appliances would need to be considered. A digital watch, for example, would only take about 30 vessels. Yessiree, back in the saddle again.

It seems that we have come to the end of another post and I have failed to include anything witty or informative on the subject of writing.  So I guess I’ll end with this bit of hopefully useful information.  If you happen to use a battery operated word processor, make sure to reinforce your floor boards, ‘cause the number of Bagdad batteries you’ll need are gonna tilt your neighborhood a few degrees one way or the other.

So warn the neighbors and invite them over for a little juice.

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Would You Mind Repeating That?…On Second Thought, Never Mind.

President Harry Truman (left), Democratic pres...

President Harry Truman (left), Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson (right), and Democratic vice presidential candidate John Sparkman (standing) meeting in the Oval Office. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here I sit once again pondering over what to write in this particular blog post.  Now if I were a smart man, I would keep the topic to something that we all can relate to, making it interesting for the majority of my readers.

Does this sound familiar?

“Hi, how you doing?”

“Oh, not too bad, can’t complain.  Nobody wants to listen to me anyway.”

“Yep, ain’t that the truth.”

Now much in this conversation rings true because if you really think about it, no one wants to hear you whine.

And if you really, really think about it, what do the previous sentences I have written have to do with anything other than to take up space on an empty page? More on this later.

Or, how about this?

We all have time pieces.  Wrist watches, wall clocks, dashboard clocks in our vehicles, pocket watches, cell phone clocks, digital alarm clocks (that also play music), clocks on our neighborhood banks, clock towers in our cities, battery operated clocks, atomic clocks and the crème de la crème, the sundial.

Just think: When the last of the world’s fossil fuels are gone, the nuclear power is spent and the solar cells and windmills are long out of style, due to a lack of interest, we’ll still be on time to catch that most important meeting as long as the sun is shining.  (Provided you can read a sundial).

As I scan what I’ve written so far, I’m gripped in a moment of terror. Although you were not aware, this post was a literary experiment and I have mastered what I set out to achieve. By now, you have certainly noticed that this document was pretty much about nothing.

Even though I am first and foremost an author, I wanted to delve into the deep and dark recesses of another type of sentient being. As I have said (and this bears repeating), I achieved this goal.

For I have constructed an entire page of text, wasting my time and yours, with nonsensical rhetoric of no redeeming quality to any living creature, just for the sake of hearing myself talk.

In other words I have managed to emulate a politician.

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