Category: book-skills

Thur. Jan. 11, 2024 – meatspace baby! Get out there and talk to people…

Cold and wet. Again. Or at least cold. Chance we might have another dry day like yesterday, with wind and sun. But we are definitely headed toward much colder. Because, it’s JANUARY and the middle of winter. Even in Texas.

Despite a nap, I did manage to get stuff done yesterday. I did a drop off at my auctioneer. I went by my storage unit and got some stuff out. Ran the kid to her things. Even stopped at a regular Goodwill store with her and got some T-shirts for her, some nice Allen Edmond shoes for me, a couple of LPs for resale, and a piece of artwork that is worth more than I thought. Case of beer money, nothing huge, but it definitely didn’t look like anything more than a pop culture print. I mention it mainly because I’ve said there was little left in the stores worth buying, but yesterday I got lucky.

I also met another pipe enthusiast. The guy in front of me at checkout had a pipe rack in his cart. I mentioned it, and it turns out he was buying for himself. Young guy too. Transitioning from cigars to pipes… which seems to be the path a lot of commentors on the youtube pipe channels are taking. It’s cheaper, smells better in a room, and there are cultural aspects that I’m trying to sort out… but it’s definitely a growing subculture.


One interesting aspect of my shopping trip was D1’s reaction… She’s like “you just talked to that guy, and had a conversation and now you exchanged phone numbers? How does that happen so fast?? He volunteered his number and offered to buy something from you!” (guy was interested in seeing the pipes I’ve been working on to flip) “and then you had a chat with the cashier about California and the places you used to live and found out where she lived, how long she’s been here, and all that, just like that???” “Is that how it is for adults?” “How do you make friends so quickly??”

Well, I didn’t make friends, I made contact with people that COULD be turned into friendships… if I was looking I guess I could have further pursued the cashier (female), and I’ve already exchanged a couple of pipe related texts with the guy. I didn’t do anything weird or tricky, I just said “hi” in a way that engaged them for a couple of minutes, and had a brief friendly chat. I found a shared interest, pipes, and living in California, used that to make a few remarks, and let them make a few back. Friendly chitchat, nothing out of the ordinary or unusual… “making conversation” is what it used to be called. Except that I guess it IS out of the ordinary for kids today, and maybe for adults too. The phone number exchange would have been business cards just a couple of years ago, or if the guy was closer to my age, but it is easier for one person to just send a text to the other person’s phone, and then get a reply. It occurs to me that it’s the third time in a month that I had a younger person share contact info with me that way.

I wasn’t always able to just have a quick interaction with people like that. I had to work at it for a long time and specifically in work and business settings. That helped in non-business stuff too, and now I just do it. Could be because I sit at home alone so much of the day that I make up for lack of in person contact by trying to connect for at least a moment with others when I have a chance. Or it could be that the things that kept me from doing it in the past are no longer important to me. Not caring about some things can be very freeing… And if you have a lot of interactions, each one has less “weight” for lack of a better word- less of me is at risk in each one. In any case, it is definitely a skill that can be developed. Given that we live in the world, getting along with other people in it is something I think is important.

And it’s part of what I mean when I say “Meatspace baby!” When push comes to shove, who you know and who knows you is going to be vitally important. Heck it’s important now. Almost everyone I know had gotten jobs by word of mouth or through acquaintances, not through job boards, or services. Most people like to help out people they know and like. Most opportunities come when someone decides to share something… If your interpersonal skills are weak, it’s time to work on them. We are all going to need all the help we can get to get through the bad times.

Stack up some skills, and widen your circle of casual contacts. You never know what might come your way.


Read the comments: 60 Comments

Thur. Dec. 29, 2022 – in praise of standards

Cool, turning warm later.   Part sun, and humid.  Probably.  If I guessed right.   But that was what the day turned into yesterday, so I’ve got at least a 50/50 chance of being right.  Weird to go out in low 80s temps after the cold.  Houston.

Spent the day catching up on stuff, not doing plumbing.  I did cut my hair, shave, and trim my beard.   Cleaned up around the house too.

Ended up selling an ebay item,  so now I have to find it.    It’s somewhere.  Not where the other listed ebay items are, unfortunately.   While looking for it, I went through about half of one storage unit.  Found stuff to bring home, sorted some bins, and found the bigger grinder I picked up earlier in the year.   It’s a vintage Enterprise “tinned” number 22 meat chopper.   It is manual, and bolts to a table.  I’ve got a couple of smaller Universal grinders, but they clamp to a table and tend to squirm around too much.

I spent a while boiling the grinder and parts, then scraping and cleaning.   It came up pretty nice, considering it’s about 100 years old.  The plates are razor sharp still.   Unfortunately, it was missing the blade.   Fortunately, grinders were sold by size, #12, #22, #32, #8, etc. for a long time. There are brand new parts available, plates and knives.   So I bought the cheapest one on amazon, to see how it works.   I don’t use the grinder very often, and a replacement blade that looks like the original was $37 instead of $13.  Even the cheap blade should outlast me, but if it doesn’t, we’re either living like it was 1890, or I can order another.  If push came to shove, I could make one from steel plate.

A manual grinder/chopper/sausage stuffer is a good backup tool, and a useful kitchen accessory.  If you are harvesting wild game, you already know that.  If you think you might in the future, or that you might process it yourself instead of paying a shop to do it, get you a grinder…  They are widely available in estates, and online.  Make sure it’s not worn out and comes with the blade and a variety of plates.   I see smaller ones still in the box relatively often.

Why my sudden interest in getting my grinder working?  I want to make some of my family recipe sausage for the holidays.  Pork butts were on sale, and allspice was back in stock, so with a working grinder, I’m good to go.  Just need to get some sausage casings.   My local HEB used to carry them, but doesn’t have any.  There is a sausage supply house near my secondary location, and I’ll be headed by there later.  They keep in the fridge for a long time, and are pretty cheap, so I’m not worried about the cost, just the availability.

Of course, anything I do today will be after my semi-annual trip to the dentist to get my fangs cleaned.   Whole family is going this morning.    That will probably occupy us most of the morning.  Dental care is important.   People died from dental problems.  Don’t be a people.

Get out there and find some stuff to stack.   This week, try to get everything you’d need to process wild game- or at least familiarize yourself with what is involved.   Knives, saw, grinder, lift, trays, pans, cutting boards… and watch a video or two.   You might not every need the familiarity, but the tools aren’t expensive, fit in a smallish box, and might feed your family.

Stack it up.


Read the comments: 47 Comments

Mon. Feb. 14, 2022 – Valentine’s Day in the US, so pony up for the pretty….

Cool, clear, some wind…  I hope.   Yesterday was, with a gorgeous sky.   I could use more nice days, without the freezing howling wind.

Did some stuff during the day, but mostly auction shopping for the <s>new house</s>  BOL.  Then ran a couple of errands, swung by the storage unit, and got ready for today.

Pickup and drop off today, with a visit to my secondary.  Then daddy and D2 will do some projects or play chess… and dinner, etc.

I feel more sense of accomplishment when I don’t list all the things I am not going to get done.  Funny that.

Getting to be time for some planting.  Officially, we could still get a frost, but it doesn’t feel like it this year.  I need a plan for home and for the BOL.  We’re still a week or more from signing, but there’s a lot to do and I’d hate to miss a planting because I didn’t do the planning.  I’m bidding on another of the seed displays too.  Isn’t it Alas Babylon that the lady decides to store seed packets as light and cheap trade goods?

Needles and thread might be a good choice too.   The old treadle powered sewing machines are going for crazy money in the estate auctions.   Hundreds of dollars if they are in good shape and running.   Electric ones, unless they are brand new and feature rich, are going for $20-50 for the most part.  Older Kenmores are solid machines and can be had cheaply.  If you don’t have a sewing machine, I’d recommend getting a used one, and a basic book on sewing, and use it.  Since the crowd here is mostly men, use it to do some masculine stuff, like making your own web gear, or covering some old furniture… or make a shop apron.  Or doll clothes for the kid.  Think of it as just another power tool to learn and use.

Stack some tools and the knowledge to use them.  Stack the stuff needed too.




(and get something nice for your spouse.  you need the support and help.)



Read the comments: 103 Comments

Tues. Nov. 9, 2021 – why yes, I am tired…

Cool and damp. Possible sunny later. I really hope it’s nice as I’ve got stuff to do. Was nice yesterday but I ate something that disagreed with me and I was afraid I might do a Biddn if I strained lifting and toting… so I worked on stuff around the house until it was time to get D2.

Mondays are short work days for me anyway with the kid home and projects piled up. This time we did a sewing project. I picked up a fabric backdrop of a fantasy jungle scene, and put it up as the back wall of her lower bunk, making a kind of jungle play fort out of the bunkbeds. Unfortunately it was two pieces and they were only glued together, and they seam failed. Fast forward and we have a nice project to sew it back together. So we sewed. Got the machine out, set up, tacked the seam back together with fusible interface, and then ran a line down the seam. She did the next one. She did ok for her first time, and we’ll try something more complex next time.

Since everything was out, I did some small repairs on a back pack/ laptop bag that has been waiting for a long time for the repair. It ended up being a bit more complicated than I thought, but I got it done. It’ll either go into the auction, or my wife or kid will steal it…

I think everyone should know how to do basic sewing with needle and thread, and at least straight seams with a machine. My ‘everyday altoids tin’ has a golf pencil, with 18 inches of stout black thread on a heavy needle wrapped around it. It’s great for a quick repair, and works well on webgear too. I’ve got an embroidery capable sewing machine, a serger, the wife’s machine, and an antique mostly manual machine. You don’t need much- a set of needles, a few spools of thread, some fray check liquid, and some fusible interface will go a long way. A basic machine isn’t expensive though, and a pair of good scissors is worth spending money on. You can do a lot with just an iron, fusible interface, and fray check. Heck, for years I kept a variety pack of iron-on patches in my travel bag. If I got a tear in my pants or shirt while on the road, I could iron the patch onto the INSIDE of my pants and fix the tear very well until I got home. For fabric and leather, I hit up the Goodwill, and I used to hit the IKEA ‘as is’ section for drapes, bedsheets, or curtains to re-use.

In the last year I added specialized leather repair tools- mainly stouter needles, heavier thread, and something called a ‘jerk needle.’ I’ve got some hope that I can do some leather work at some point just because I think it is cool, ever since seeing a guy doing tooled leather at a craft booth at the Silver Dollar City amusement park when I was a kid.

I don’t expect I’ll be making shoes or shirts after the fall, but it’s definitely worth knowing how to fix your own stuff, whether it’s gear, shoes, or clothes. (I did make an entire long overcoat/trenchcoat modeled on the one Jack Nicholson wore in Witches of Eastwick for my final project in my costuming class. Well, I designed it and sewed it. The woman that ran the shop did the pattern and cutting…) For anyone who is too ‘manly’ to sew, it’s a POWER TOOL! Are you going to tell me there’s a power tool you won’t try to master??? You don’t have to actually master it for it to be useful, but it is good to have an idea of what you’re doing around sewing. One more skill, one more system to add to the stacks.

Keep stacking my friends,


Read the comments: 101 Comments
// ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- // end of file archive.php // -------------------------------------------------------------------------------