On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

We’re about to turn the corner and begin this year’s holiday season tomorrow. There are sales everywhere already as the stores try to get the jump on the competition for your dollars. I hate that every Tom, Dick & Harry has a Black Friday sale these days. I always considered Black Friday as a purely online experience yet TV ads are trying to compete by hinting that it’s better to save on a new truck or car than smaller stuff you get off Amazon.com. I guess brick & mortar stores are really hurting due to the switch to online sales with good prices, selection and free delivery. Now WalMart is in an all out war with Amazon.com for its market share of merchandise sold this holiday season. Although I shop a bit at WalMart online it pales in comparison to what I spend at amazon on a month to month basis. Amazon’s selection, price and quality are better across the board. I’m tired of WalMart’s Chinese clothing that isn’t that cheap except in quality. I shop for American goods made by American workers.

I’m in the process of updating my wardrobe from blue jeans and T-shirts to dress slacks and dress shirts. Doing this takes time on my fixed income as a pair of Haggar action slacks and a casual Van Heusen shirt can set you back $50 easily. Now I buy one outfit, try it on and if it looks and feels right I return for more, one set at a time. I’ll vary the colors and styles so I can mix and match. I waited to begin this wardrobe upgrade until my old close are looking pretty threadbare right now. I’m blending in the new with the old for the next year, buying one new outfit every month until I cry “Uncle” from the cost or for a full closet. I’m eliminating the jeans quickly as my lifestyle is changing as a senior who has given up the motorcycles and their inherent clothing demands.

My Christmas shopping is almost done for this year. I’ve sent two packages out in the mail just in the past week. Again, if I purchase online I get free shipping with my Amazon.com Prime account. It works for me! πŸ™‚

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How To Spend Nothing On Christmas

The wording for this blog post is intentionally tricky. I put together a Christmas package for my new brother in law, Steve, knowing he comes from a maintenance/handyman background. He just moved to South Carolina from Texas to spend the rest of his life with my sister, Barbara. Steve’s been through hell with physical issues that are just about resolved. I’ve never met the man but through Barb’s description I know we’d be friends.

I boxed up leftover, duplicate items that every handyman would love to own. They include a brand new workbench on casters, just add the 2″x4″s. I threw in a Lie-Nielsen No. 102 low angle block plane that I’m in the process of replacing with an advanced version. It’s already in the mail. He’ll love that solid bronze, heirloom quality tool. I boxed it all up and sent it via FedEx this morning. The only money I spent was for the shipping. Merry Christmas Steve.

Lie-Nielsen Bronze Low Angle No. 102 Block Plane

Bob's Lie-Nielsen 102

Simpson Strong-tie Workbench Hardware – Just Add Lumber

Simpson Strongtie Workbench Hardware

Rockler Workbench Casters

Rockler Workbench Casters

“In The Middle Of The Night”

Yup, you guessed it, I’m up in the middle of the night. It’s not that uncommon for me to live this way now that I’ve been retired for 8 years. I go to bed early, sleep for 4-5 hours and then get up for an hour or two to take care of business that includes doing research for projects or reviewing stuff that catches my fancy. Then it’s back to bed and finish with another 4 hours or so of good sleep. It’s almost a nightly routine. To each his/her own….

Tonight I was watching woodwork videos on YouTube. I have my favorite channels to follow that include Paul Sellers, Jay Bates & the English woodworker. I’m particularly entertained watching master craftsmen work with just hand tools. After all carpentry and furniture building has been done with just basic tools for centuries.

I find I literally learn new skills by simply watching how stuff is done. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way when it comes to making decisions on tools, techniques and materials. I just ordered a 12″x24″ sheet of steel .024″ thick for my workshop bench. My intention is to glue this thin sheet of steel to a chunk of MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) so that I have a magnetic surface for a clamping station.

I have been using the steel top of my table saw for this purpose but want a moveable, clampable surface I can use on certain projects where I’m planing, drilling, sanding or cutting pieces of material. I have 4 MagSwitch magnets that have a clamping force of 150 pounds each. By building jigs that accept these I can hold stuff securely to a steel surface, thus the metal sheet.

Research online led me to a company that sold me 1 sheet of steel the size and thickness that I want. After all I simply want a magnet surface to use my magnetic jigs. The other alternative would have been the use of clamps and vices. I like the portability and versatility of strong switchable magnets. Thus the steel sheet work area.

If none of this makes any sense to you that’s ok. I live in a small single room apartment with a full size woodworking shop in it. I have to think outside the box to make it all work. I live in New England with its harsh Winters just around the corner. I need to continue my woodworking hobby indoors using mostly hand tools. Hand tools aren’t noisy or don’t create mountains of sawdust. So I think ahead and get creative on my approach to workflow. Clamp it with magnets.

MagSwitch Jigs

So now that this post is complete it’s off to bed once again. Sleep tight! πŸ™‚

Share Your World – November 13, 2017

Share Your World – November 13, 2017

Do you ever sit on a park bench for more than ten minutes?

Yes, often. I enjoy the scenery usually associated with the location of benches.

When you lose electricity in a storm, do you light the candles, turn on the flashlight or use your cell phone for light?

I have a flashlight app on my Nexus 7 tablet that lights up a room.

Would you rather be given $10,000 for your own use or $100,000 to give anonymously to strangers?

Being selfish here as $10,000 would clear all my credit card debt with a bit left over.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week? Β Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

During the holidays you get to see and feel the love from friends and neighbors. Having someplace to go with these folks during the holidays warms my heart.

Endangered Pets

Well meaning pet owners unwittingly endanger certain species of animals and birds through unwanted pets. If someone gives them an exotic pet few would know how to care for them properly. This pet trade has created an illegal market for these pets that come from across the world. The Oregon Zoo is committed to caring for these exotic animals when they are brought in by their owners who admit they can’t care for them. This program saves a lot of otherwise neglected animals and birds.

Finally Dump Your Cable Company

I’ve been living without cable TV for about 4 years now. All I have left is broadband internet through Charter Cable. If I find a better way to get broadband they are gone forever. I’m tired of monthly bills way in excess of $100. There are cheaper alternatives.

One way I cut the cord is by subscribing to CBS Access, at $5.99 a month I get local news, sports, weather and live broadcast from WBZ in Boston. The only thing I can’t get is NESN (North East Sports Network) that carries the Boston Red Sox baseball games. I can still watch the New England Patriots NFL games on WBZ.

Now the next step in online viewing has risen, YouTube TV. This is a $35 a month subscription service online that gives you 40 of the best channels from cables channel lineup. You get all the big networks like ABC, NBC, CBS & Fox. Throw in FX & the CW to boot.I may drop that CBS All Access now that it’s included in the YouTube TV package.

For the $35 a month subscription you also get an unlimited DVR (Digital Video Recorder) that records every episode of as many shows as you like. Watch the recorded episodes at your leisure. Between my broadband cost of $69 a month and my YouTube TV subscription cost of $35 I’m up to $104 a month. That’s cheaper than the cheapest package of TV coverage with Charter Cable and I get the unlimited DVR to boot. Done.

It will only get better as YouTube will soon be rolling out a streaming channel to my Roku TV. That way I can watch everything in high definition on my 32″ TV instead of my 21.5″ iMac computer. I’m cutting the cord and saving money to boot.

“What Goes Around….”

My sister just wrote me that my great nephew is about to enter basic training in the military. Yesterday was Veterans Day and I had a flashback to July of 1969. I had just entered basic training in San Antonio, TX. While there I was placed in fat boy camp for a week and lost 75 pounds to get down to my fighting weight of 190, the maximum allowed to complete my 4 year tour. During that same month the US landed the first man on the moon. Now, 48 years later, I get to witness my great nephew beginning his career in the military. I pray he will fare as well as I did. πŸ™‚

Bob's Glasses 01

The Most Blessed Man Alive

That would be me! I look at my life after 68 years on this earth and marvel at all that has transpired in that time. We’re nearly into Veterans day again, a time when most of us reflect on what it means to be a veteran. I spent 4 years of my life, from 1969-1973, serving this nation in the Far East during the Vietnam War. Now our president is about to arrive in Vietnam in an effort to seal trade deals with that country. How far we’ve come.

No complaints here. The Air Force gave me an education, training me as an electronics technician, a skill that turned into a career for the next 45 years. I travelled to many countries in that 4 years, meeting people who thought my meager military monthly salary was a fortune compared to what the eked out in a year’s time. I was comparably rich considering that if I spent every dime I earned in 10 minutes I still had a warm place to sleep each night, hot nutritious meals three times a day, free warm clothing, free medical care and a bright future. Compare that to being born in Vietnam, South Korea or the rice paddies of Japan. I was rich.

I try never to forget those years. I wish every American had the opportunity to serve their country overseas just to experience the difference in cultures, economies and lifestyles. It would be an eye opener for sure. In Kunsan, Korea where I was stationed for 19 months, you would consider yourself blessed if you had one lightbulb overhead and radiant heat beneath your floor supplied by a pot belly stove burning a paint can sized charcoal cylinder that cost 2 cents. Try that in the United States on a daily basis. We are truly blessed.

Here, education is free, a God given right offered to every man, woman and child in our glorious country. Compare that to South Korea where women grow up working in the rice paddies most of their lives, uneducated, old and in poor health by the time they reach 40. The women are slaved out to prostitution so they can support their family. We don’t have it so bad in the United States. Count your lucky stars that you go to bed and wake up well fed with a bright future ahead of you that day.

So on this Veteran’s Day, 2017, I count all the blessings granted to me by other veterans who sacrificed all so that we could grow up in the greatest country on earth. If you start thinking how bad things are here take a trip to Mexico, our closest neighboring country, to see how really good we have it here. We’re all rich beyond our comprehension! Thank a veteran today!

Share Your World – November 6, 2017

Share Your World – November 6, 2017

Would you rather take a 2 week vacation with an organized tour or take a cruise of your choice?

I’m not a people person so I prefer a solo trip. I don’t play well! πŸ™‚

Did you like swinging as a child? Do you still get excited when you see a swing?

I played my role as Tarzan but I ended up being Cheetah when the rope broke!

What is the most important thing that you ever learned ? (I bet it’s not something you learned in school)

You’re wrong! Don’t eat the yellow snow. 😦

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?

Nothing. I learned there’s no place safe anymore. Mass shooting at a concert or mass shootings in a church. The world has gone mad and I want off!