Logo 1 #topThe Poor Man's Fix-it shop.[not for the proficient craftsman] . . . .Logo 2


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  You read books, and maybe even write stories or poems, but have you ever considered making a book? You might find  it to be more fun and rewarding (and easier) than you've imagined. Here's some ideas on how to get started in your quest to compete with Baker Book House.

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computer link  COMPUTER CRUNCH

   There are several ways to solve the problem with these modern technological devices. In the olden days giving a kick to the rebellious TV was about all it took. In today's effort to fill our earth with non-biodegradable substances, this is no longer an option. I don't claim to be  a Technophile by any stretch of the imagination. But over the years I have discovered a thing or two about nature's enemy number one. Maybe what I've learned will help someone else caught in the web of modern confusion.
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   Sewing, beading and other such crafts are not strictly the domain of the women. Why should they have all the fun? In days gone by it was customary for a person to make (or at least repair) their own clothing. In today's throw-a-way society this is an expensive option since Walmart can sell us a shirt for less than the buttons required to make the same garment.
    I'm not about to teach you how to make a costume, or how to sew, but I have some projects I've created that might turn on the light bulb of your imagination.
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    A blunderbuss is not the bus to Blunder, but rather, if I recall correctly, it's Norwegian for "loud noise." What, you may legitimately ask, does a blunderbuss have to do with whittling a rifle out of a 2x6? Nothing really, but I couldn't think of clever title for this section.
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    When I was very young my father bought me a Lionel electric train for my Christmas present. He mounted the track on a 4x8 sheet of plywood in a figure 8, the usual arrangement, played with it for a while, then laid it against the wall as a type of memento to his second childhood. I never did get to play with "my" train because, according to my father, it was too dangerous for me to play with.

    When I was in my forties I decided to rectify this void and make my own train set. Being the obsessive-compulsive person I am, once I got started I didn't know where to quit. I purchased about a hundred miles of track (so it seemed anyway) and made what you see here. At the moment Engineer Bill is operating the system.

train     Seeing as how this train is taking up a huge portion of my tiny art studio I made it so it had "ears," flaps that would lay along side the structure I made to house this monstrosity. The train track incorporated 4 levels of track, as seen in the picture, and the table is mounted on wheels so I could move it out of the way when doing the work required to make the money to support this elaborate hobby.
    Today I still have a few pieces of track, a couple engines and cars from this set, and I have no idea what happened to the table or the rest of the train. Failing memory has its blessings. I might not like the story that accompanies the departure from this attempt to capture a missing link in my eventless youth. 



    What seems like a lifetime ago I knew a family with a young child who was unable to learn to read. In an effort to assist and encourage the boy I made up this game named after himself. The game is played like Monopoly or so many of the other games, using cards, a dial and such as that. In order for the boy to reach his goal, for him to win his own game, required that he read the card he had drawn. I don't know if this worked at all since I never saw the family after this time. It was merely an attempt to help overcome a handicap.






    Fencing is my forte, my favorite sport, but it's not the only love of my life. I've had other hobbies involving sports equipment that have proven to be fickle to one degree or another. All the momentous of my bygone days have been purloined, either by friend or unknown foe. But what I learned from the experience lingers on. A few such memories, and lessons learned from them, can be found on the page dedicated to the sportsman and his ilk.





    To my way of thinking there's nothing more enjoyable to watch than two fencers that have developed the skill and the poise of a good fencer. It's like watching two adroit ballet dancers who have practiced their craft to its optimum

    For several years I not only took fencing lessons from one of the most respected of instructors, but participated in the local events. I rarely won a match when fencing in a tournament, but I learned how to lose gracefully, a skill required when entering any new endeavor competing against those who have lived their life practicing the craft.

    At one time I taught fencing, not for money, but in lieu of membership in the club. I would take lessons from the master, then I would bring what I had learned to my students. In the following scenes two of my students are depicted practicing their craft. (The uniforms they're wearing I made for them, as described on this page under costumes.).




    I'm a stickler for form. When I teach I don't allow my students to fence until they've learned all the proper moves until they become automatic. At one time (teaching adults, not in a classroom but outdoors) I would have then use sticks as swords and practice their moves before I would let them fence. They of course resented this since it was the fencing they wanted, not the learning how to fence. I 'm confronted with this attitude in every field I've taught, people wanting the end before they even understand the beginning.

    In the picture to your left you can see how these two boys have learned their form, one making a lunge while the other makes the slightest of parries, not the wild swashbuckler moves we see in the movies.

        Here, if you don't mind my saying so, is one of my favorite pictures. It's a close-up view of the preceding picture. Eleven year old Mike is making the perfect lunge: arm back, leg perfectly straight with trailing foot flat on the ground, and leading shin perpendicular to the floor. Maybe my pride in this picture has to do with pride in the fact that I taught him this. However, I've taught many other people of all ages to do the same and none have come close to this perfection. Even I, with all my practicing, haven't been able to even approach this perfection.  



    Here the same two boys are rehearsing for a demonstration they're to put on, not real kendo, but demonstrating some of the form used in that combative sport. The protective clothing they're wearing would not even come close to preventing the split bamboo weapons they yield from doing great damage to body parts.



    Some more practice of a different nature. This time the boys are using a medieval European weapons. The mace the boy in the foreground is using is made of masking tape wrapped sound a thick wood dowel until it looks like a club. The other boy has what is called a morning star made with a nylon rope tied to look like a chain, attached to a tennis ball with slits cut in it and chunks of masking tape protruding from the slits. These were all painted a flat black, and even with reasonably close observation they appeared to be highly realistic and dangerous (and heavy).
    Notice the dents in the shield held by the boy in the background. This was the result of pounding by that simple masking tape mace. These shields were made from heavy hubcaps popular in those days, not like the thin plastic wheel covers seen today. If you look closely at the arm of the boy in the background you'll see that his arm is wrapped with cloth to protect him from the thrust of the mace against the shield. These boys didn't pull their punches. What they did, they did with all their might, which accounts for them being such good fencers.
    The shield in the foreground has what appears to be spikes protruding from it. This I made with pieces of wood shaped like spikes screwed on the hub cap from the back.
    Fencing has changed considerably since the days I taught and participated. Form has become a lost art, and almost everyone is using a running attack rather than what you see here. The pleasure of participation and spectatorship is lost and I no longer enjoy even watching the sport. My bad knees and failing body prevents me from even practicing my favorite sport, but the tragic loss is in the fact that there isn't even the ability to watch what I enjoy most.
    If you want to see fencing at its best, at least in my opinion, see the (old) movie Cyrano De Bergerac with Jose Ferrer, and watch his moves. His lunges were so precise that I practiced them until I could duplicate his moves, and found them to increase my efficiency and speed twofold.



   I bought me a boat. It's a bit of a fixer-upper, but with a little loving kindness, some paint and elbow grease it ought to be just fine. If you'd like to see a picture of it, click here.
    (Just kidding folks) But if you'd like to see it at high tide, click here.


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