Being Creative And Other Stuff

I’ve had this link among my browser bookmarks for quite awhile, and I just reread it. I think you should read it, too, even if you’ve no desire to be creative. It’s a “manifesto” on how to be creative.

It sort of dovetails in with my introspection on why I make the career choices I make, why I will likely never be a teacher, or much of a salesman or banker or stock broker.

I like making things. I like taking things that aren’t and making them into things that are. I suspect that being a maker, whether your an artist, a construction worker, or a cabinet builder, is just as high of a calling as being a teacher or a scientist. Without the makers of the world, the world we live in wouldn’t exist the way it does today. We are born to make things, as much as we are born to do anything else.

If you haven’t tried making something lately, give it a go. Ultimately, making is so much more satisfying than using.

Oh, and here’s the video game shelf I made last weekend.

I Think I Need To Take Remedial Math

I started working, this weekend, on a small video game shelf, basically a DVD rack, for our living room, and everything was going pretty much the way I intended. Cut up the pieces, sanded ’em.

I went to put it together and realized that I can’t count. If you want 4 shelves, and you want the thing to have a top, you need to count to 5! Uggh. If I’d counted to 5, I wouldn’t have to go back to the store to get another piece of lumber, as I would have made each of the shelves half an inch shorter, thus making the last cutoff long enough for the fifth piece. Instead, I have to wait until I can get back to the store, which, hopefully, will be in the next half hour.

No Electrical Work This Week

So, no go on the electrical this week. Not even a phone call from the electrician. How hard is it to schedule something and get it done? How hard is it to follow up with a client if you said you’d do something at a certain time and you’re unable to follow through?

I guess I can’t be TOO picky considering I’m probably going to get a break on the installation cost, but I’d better get that break.

My Solution to the Debt Problem

First, I want to say that I don’t participate much in political discussions, nor do I generally think very deeply about politics in general. I tend to avoid these things because I’d rather be thinking about making something, be it games, guitars, or whatever I’m doing at the moment.

However, the “mortgage crisis” and the “solutions” proposed by various politicians, really bother me, especially when none of them seem to address the real problem, and only seem to be bandaids.

The REAL problem, as I see it, is that lenders are allowed to advertise using direct marketing methods, including both paper and electronic mediums. Since we bought our house, we’ve been deluged with refinance offers from a large number of companies, all wanting to help us take the equity out of our house or save money on payments with a lower rate. People on the border of not having enough cash to cover their bills are, I suspect, very vulnerable to those types of offers.

What’s really unsettling is that, even in the midst of this crisis, despite being on of the companies in deep trouble because of their past lending practices, I’m still getting emails from Countrywide (who is the current holder of our loan) promoting a poor financial choice in the current housing market.

“Mark, your estimated home equity may be as much as $xxxxx. You may be able to refinance, possibly lock in a lower interest rate, and receive up to $xxxxx cash from your home’s estimated available equity!”

They say it like it would be a good thing to remove any cushion I have with regard to being able to sell my house if I wanted to. I also can’t see how this is good for them in the long run, as I bet many of the people that take them up on these refi offers (especially right now) will end up upside down on their loan.

For other types of debt products, the worst offender in my book are the credit card companies. They send you pre-approved application after pre-approved application until they find the combination of numbers that gets you excited about going and buying whatever it is you want. They send them to college students who HAVE NO INCOME! These behaviors are predatory, as far as I’m concerned, and should be illegal. Why is our economy teetering on the edge of a knife? We’ve tapped out our credit. Financial institutions won’t even lend each other money anymore because they’re afraid they won’t get it back. The people in this country can’t afford to pay their debts, plain and simple.

Imagine a world where lenders couldn’t advertise debt “products” (calling a credit card a product makes me ill) directly to the consumer. No more pre-approved accounts in the mail. No more loans that come disguised as checks (this one really makes me want to scream). No more refinance “opportunities” in your email.

I think our economy would be sitting on a much more solid foundation than it is today. The sub-prime mortgage crisis may still have happened. Go figure – sub-prime seems to me to indicate something along the lines of “risky fucking borrower”. But I suspect that it wouldn’t be near the crisis that it is, as people might only be in debt up to their waste, instead of up to their eyeballs.

Band Saw!

I picked up the band saw on Friday, but all I managed to do was get it out of the van (with Wendy’s help) and separate the parts. Here is the box, saw still inside.

Saturday, Erik had T-Ball practice and a birthday party to go to, but I managed to get a mobile frame and the base of the saw together during the day. In the evening, Wendy helped me lift the saw onto the base. It’s definitely NOT a one person task. We then figured out that the instructions are really pretty awful, and that we were supposed to put some bolts into the base before we lifted the saw onto it.

There was a little knob that fell out of the packaging, along with a washer, and it wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the instructions – no pictures of it or anything. Turns out I stumbled across what it was when I tried lowering the blade guides. It seems there is a cover for it, and this knob holds it shut. Apparently, in a previous version of the saw, this was actually a bolt that was turned with an allen wrench, as this is what the instructions described it as.

Anyway, here’s the band saw, all put together, and I can’t wait to actually try it out. The electrical work should be done sometime this week.

And here is the last remaining bolt that I can’t figure out where it goes. Like I said, the instructions are awful.

UPDATE: I figured out where it goes. It attaches to the back of the table to allow the fence to rest on it when not in use, it seems.