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Showing posts from May, 2014

Closure on Projects

It does do a blogger some good to mouth-off on the internet. After doing so -- about the great vice of putting tools down in such a reckless way that you can't find them three minutes later -- it helped me go on a massive cleanup campaign.  It is not in front of me at the moment but I think that Thomas Edison visualized his thoughts and inventions as an excrudescence (?) from his head, somewhat like dandruff. I smiled thinking of tools and materials flying off my person, in random directions. But today brings another issue: closure for a project, its difficulty, and whether it is objective or subjective. It's so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a project's end is fixed, absolute, and objective, when in fact much of it depends on us saying, 'Enough!' There certainly is a disconsolate phase in the natural history of any project when we are like a hiker who is fooled again and again by false summits. The hiker keeps climbing, keeps making demonstrable

A Chance to Work Productively

Around the New Year I argued that 'I am not getting older, I am getting better,' need not be an empty cliche. There really are things we naturally get better at, with age. So why not pound the crap out of these things, and put aside the things we must lose on? Such qualities include: 1. Self-mastery and self-restraint. 2. Patience. 3. Perspicuity. 4. Setting more realistic (i.e., lower) expectations on new projects or people. 5. Understanding the consequences of our actions. 6. Thinking more independently. 7. Better juggling of trade-offs when making decisions. This project of converting a cargo trailer into a travel trailer has offered me an impressive and perverse example of how difficult it is to achieve #1 on the list. If you were to step back from the thousand-and-one machinations of the day, and ask yourself why you can't work faster, you wouldn't have any trouble coming up with a list. But it was fun to identify the top problem on the list.  For

The Spirit-Soul of a Human Family

The woman in the RV park was swinging her arms as she walked. You can't get much of a walk in an RV park, so I considered telling her about Farmington's (NM) nice linear city park, along the Animas River. That would certainly make for a longer and more interesting walk for her. But I kept my mouth shut. I might like recreational trails in a city -- in fact, they are my favorite thing -- but most RVers are out to "consume" the standard, bar-coded brand names of the tourism industry. In this area, Indian ruins are the main brand names, which is surprising considering how visually unexciting most old pueblo ruins are. It seems advantageous to simply read about them, for free, on the internet. My dog and I went off to do our usual thing of walking along the Animas River. On the way back, we ran into two interesting families. The first was a goose family. They paddled along on the other side of the river, which tortures my dog, Coffee Girl, who is no fan of water. Th

One of the Prettiest Words in the English Language

Let's assume that most readers find discussion forums as painful to read as I do. I'm almost glad they are, because it created a delightful surprise. On the forum for converting cargo trailers to travel trailer/campers, several people have used the term, "re-purpose," as in 'they repurposed a metal bracket from a shelf in their basement to a new life in their cargo trailer.' It really caught my eye. What a wonderful word. In some ways, it is magic to create a new function and add value to something that you already own. When camping in the outback, repurposing scraps and other things is the only way to make your little house more comfortable, unless you are willing to make several long round-trips to town for the hardware store. Personally this is when I've gotten the most pleasure from repurposing. You feel so clever when you succeed! The downside is that the result looks amateurish and ad hoc.  When you drive a half dozen times a day to Home Depot

The Need for a Visual Representation

What would a high-minded humanist think about some poor devil building a house, or the small version of that that I am doing right now: converting a cargo trailer into a livable travel trailer? So many machinations! Why, it's like I've become a machine for measuring, marking, cutting, and drilling. And therein lies the challenge: to keep alert for the Ghost in the Machine, and to think like I still have an intellect and a "soul" that is concerned with civilization and the human condition. ______________________________________ It was the moment of truth. The batteries were installed, the wiring was done. Now it was time to switch on the first electrical appliance, the water pump. (I like to get switches that have the little red LEDs in them.) As I switched the pump on, there was only a gurgling sound -- no red light. I was more disappointed by this than anything in years! My reaction was so strong that it seemed odd. Things like that are sometimes opportunities

Sound Advice from Small Children

It is certainly a soothing sound, perfect for beginning and ending a sunrise-to-sunset day of converting a cargo trailer into a travel trailer. The sound is the Animas River through Farmington NM, where it  converges with the San Juan and La Plata rivers, also down from Colorado.  A fellow was taking his German Shepherd for a swim along the recreational trail as it follows the Animas river.  He predicted that the river would swell up with melt-water in a couple days because of the warm weather up in Colorado. It turned out that he was right. These rivers through Farmington NM seem popular with ducks and geese. Where else can they find consistent water and food? I like listening to the waterfowl, as well as to the water flow. Maybe it is time to break out Thoreau's "Walden" in order to re-read the chapter on sounds. Then again, there is nothing surprising about the sounds of birds, so how will it really impact the listener? Other sounds have been having a big impact

Fast Forwarding Through a History-Movie of Domestic Comfort

These days I frequently fall asleep to "Star Trek, Original Series." One episode, from the first season, relates well to my current project of converting a cargo trailer into a travel trailer. The episode was called "City of Tomorrow," starring Joan Collins. Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy encounter a "Time Portal" on some planet. It played images of the past at high speeds. The "Guardian" explained that they could jump through the portal when they saw an appealing image from the past, and off they would go to that time and place.  At one point during the playback of images of the past, Kirk said, "Strangely compelling, isn't it?" And indeed it was, and is. This is one of the "profoundly satisfying" benefits of converting a cargo trailer. You get to experience something rather like the Star Trek episode, above.  (Rather than give the readers a blow-by-blow account of my cargo-trailer-conversion, I refer them to the discus