Archive for January, 2018

bookmark: lost horizon

Lost Horizon – James Hilton

Some time ago I bought a DVD of the original Lost Horizon movie, but have yet to watch it. I’ve seen snippets of it off and on over the years on television, but have never seen enough to have more than just a general sense of the movie. When the book recently came up as a suggestion to read, I decided that I would like to read the original before I saw the movie.

I enjoyed this book as much as I thought I would. The snippets of the movie I had seen gave me a clue as to what to expect, but the book was better than my expectations. For one thing, this is an older book, written in a style that some readers today might find old-fashioned, particularly if you are an American reading this English author. I found the writing to be substantial and satisfying, fitting to the subject at hand. It was enjoyable reading something different from our current mainstream books.

I must admit that I related to the main character quite a bit, as I suppose many people have. While I am certainly not in his league of popularity (and never have been), I totally understood his attitude towards life and his career. This made it much easier to understand why such a man would find his situation acceptable.

However, the ideal “Shangri-La “ would be a different thing for different people, and I suspect most people would not be happy in the Lost Horizon’s Shangri-La. I would be. Except, of course, I would be loathe to give up contact with the people I left behind. But if I were given the eventuality of the situation, I believe I could accept it.

Sometimes it is very pleasant to consider the existence of some Shangri-La somewhere. A place that would give you peace and time and the ability to devote your time to the studies of your choosing. Still, perhaps living in the real world and having to deal with a lack of peace and time allows us to appreciate those things a bit more when we have them.

This book does give one a bit to think about. I wonder, given the same situation, how I would really feel about it.

Finished 1/13/18

it’s a start

A small step in the right direction. Weight is down to 320. That’s six pounds in a week. Actually, that’s about what I expected. Losing water weight is pretty easy and the first month of my typical diet can see me lose up to twenty pounds. Unfortunately, that’s the easy weight, then it gets to be a slog. Still, I am not complaining about a small victory. Successful battles win the war.

On another note, wife and I went out to go grocery shopping yesterday and found that our van has a flat tire on the right front. This is one of the last things I need. At least we have a second car to use. Later in the day, while there was a freeing drizzle coming down, I went out to check on the spare tire. It is stored under the back end of the van. This is a really inconvenient place for it, and besides that, it exposes the tire to terrible conditions. While the tire still has air in it, it is almost as rusty as the rest of the van. I think it would work, but I don’t think I would risk any high speed driving with it.

Moot point, actually, because when I tried to find the jack point on the frame, everything kept crumbling into rusty bits and pieces. I could not find a way to jack the car up to change the tire. Not to mention that I was sitting in snow to do this, the flat tire being against the curb, limiting accessibility. So there it sits, a rusted out hulk with a flat tire. I honestly don’t know what to do. It just might be time to put the old girl down and get the new (used) car. I suppose I can have it towed to my mechanic to replace the tire, but I think that is just throwing good money away. I was hoping to make it through the winter months before looking for a new car, but sometimes fate deals you a different hand.

At least it is getting a little warmer out. We have had temps in the teens – both above zero and below zero – for the last couple of weeks and that was getting older than old. Small blessings, I guess, even if it meant that I had to scrape frozen rain off my windshield this morning before I could drive to work. If don’t like it I should move. Actually, I think I would , if I could afford it. Ain’t a’gonna happen.

bookmark: the art of inlay

The Art of Inlay: Design & Technique for Fine Woodworking (Revised & Expanded) – Larry Robinson

Having recently become interested in building my own ukulele, I thought that I might like to fancy it up a bit. Of course, this means inlay, and more than just fret markers. Now, the likelihood of me ever doing this is pretty slim, or at least doing it well, but what the heck. I like to learn how to do things even if I never even do them.

There really isn’t a lot to inlaying. It’s pretty much cut out the pieces that you want to inlay, cut a hole the same shape into the surface that you want to put those pieces into, and then glue them in. That’s it, except then you want to know the best way to cut them out, the best way to make the hole, and the best way to glue it all together, not to mention how to finish it.

This book covers all that. Beyond that, it really is just a matter of practice. It looks simple, but it seems that things that look simple, never are. It always comes down to doing something over and over again before it becomes “simple.”

The bigger part of this book is the illustrations. Not so much for the how-to-do, but on the finished results. There are some stunning examples of work the author and others have done on musical instruments. Many are way too froufrou for me, but when you are doing a masterpiece I guess it’s no-holds-barred. Still, it shows what can be done.

Some reviews of this book say that there isn’t enough information on how to do it, as opposed to the illustrations of completed work. I don’t think this is true, but perhaps that refers to the book before it was “Revised & Expanded.” I think you can learn what you need from this book. Heck, I’m ready to give it a try.

Finished 1/3/18

2018 – a new year

Another new year. Sometimes I’m surprised to find myself still around. Not that I think of myself as particularly old at this point in my life. It’s just that back when I was in my twenties, the idea of being around at the turn of the next century was difficult to entertain. It seemed so far off. Having reached that milestone, I am constantly surprised that I not only made it to that, I have gone beyond. And, of course, I always wonder how many more years I will see.

At this point one tends to look back on the past year’s accomplishments and prospects for the new year. Unfortunately, there seems to be a dearth of past accomplishments to consider. When I ask myself, “What have I done?” I honestly can’t think of any thing worth noting. I like to think that it’s just my memory getting bad. It’s something to console myself with. The best I can come up with is that I’ve cleaned up the yard. Not that that was a grand effort, but at least it was something.

Wracking my brain and I still can’t come up with any other accomplishments of note for the past year. Somehow, not such a surprise. I bet my wife could come up with something. Well, I guess we can count her surgery last year. Jeez, I just remembered that I had my right knee replaced last March. That seems so damn long ago. I guess I didn’t even mention it here. Along with physical therapy, that took up a good bit of my time and limited the things I could do. And my wife’s surgery was preceded by having to put her into the hospital a couple of times. Hmm, I guess health related items start to become part of your “accomplishments” as you get older.

It seems that I could make a longer list of things that I didn’t get done last year, but rather than make that a negative, I’ll make it a positive by adding those things to the list of things to do for this year. So what are those things?

Number One – Lose weight! Oh, how many times has that topped the list of New Year’s resolutions? Way too many to count. After I had my knee surgery last year my weight went down to a place I didn’t mind being, thinking that getting down to where I would like to be would be easier. Instead, I’ve managed to almost make it up to the highest weight I’ve ever been. The scale this morning said 326 pounds. I can’t stand being this heavy any more. Clothes are getting too tight, it hurts to get up and down stairs, or to do much of anything else. No energy. Depressing. So once more, into the breach. Lose weight. I would like to say with confidence that this is definitely going to happen this year, but with my track record, a good amount of skepticism is warranted.

Number Two – Get the basement straightened out. When I moved back into the house with my wife we just put things wherever they would fit. We finally have the first floor pretty well organized, but the second floor still isn’t settled and the attic and basement are the worst. Actually, the basement is the worst, because until I can get to my table saw I can’t work on the things that are going to help us get the rest of the house organized, like new shelves and cabinets. So, while the whole house is on the list to get organized, number one is getting the basement into an operable condition.

Number Three – Learn to play the ukulele better. I slacked off on my practice so am not where I would like to be with this. I’m not sure that I will ever be (or even can be) as good as I would like to be, but I can always be better. This means practicing every day. Really, if I can’t find a half hour every day to do this, then I am doing something wrong.

Number Four – Eating better. This goes along with Number One, because I won’t lose weight if I don’t eat better. As we get older, this becomes more important to our health. Proper nutrition will help keep us out of the doctor’s office. And it has no small effect on the budget, too. Eating out all the time, even something as inexpensive as something like McDonalds, starts to cost big bucks, and the older I get the more those bucks are limited. Which leads to the next point.

Number Five – Pay off the credit cards. I’ve been working on this, but it’s been a long effort. I have paid off a couple, but things keep coming up where I have to charge something (like car repairs, dental work) and then pay that card off again. Not to mention the Christmas expenses. It’s been two steps ahead, one step back, for most of the year. Now there are hearing aids in the near future, a necessary new (used, actually) car, and who knows what else. All of which keeps pushing back the time when I can say that all the credit cards are paid off, and making the idea of retiring a true work of fiction. Ain’t gonna happen, no matter who wishes what. Well, you sleep in the bed you made.

I think that’s enough. If I can make headway in any of those things, even if it’s not a lot of headway, I’ll consider the new year a success. Actually, just living until 2019 will make my year. It could be worse.

I hope that you all have a great year, and if you are an old fart like me, may you live in good health to see the next year roll around. In the end, that’s all we can ask.