Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #17: When Did Courtesy, Taking Responsibility, & Accountability Go Out Of Style?

Hey, everyone! Happy Easter and Passover to those who celebrate these holidays. Happy Spring to everyone else! ;)

My mother told me yesterday morning that I must "attract flakes" into my life. I can't argue with her given how often people seem to blow me off. If I make plans with someone or say I will do something, I generally do it. I'm very big on keeping my word to others. That doesn't mean I'm perfect; I do occasionally forget things if I don't write them down, or if something urgent comes up I may have to cancel or postpone plans from time to time. I understand quite well that "life happens." However, I can't help but notice that I seem to be in the minority when it comes to this innate sense of responsibility toward others. Is it because people perceive me to be so "easy-going" they figure it won't bother me if they disappoint me? I can't tell you how many times in the past year or two that people have stood me up with no explanation or a lame excuse, or have dropped the ball when they agreed to do something for me. I realize that this is to some extent my own fault, as there are often no repercussions for their actions. Still, why is it that people in general seem to take others for granted and can be so self-involved that they don't feel it necessary to keep their word to other people? I've often felt like I have a different set of standards than society in general, and that I don't necessarily fit into this era. I find it hard to believe in this day and age that people haven't figured out yet that "it's not all about them." I said last month that people forget their actions affect other people. Maybe if more people thought about how their choices will affect others in their lives, life would get a lot less complicated? All I know is that I have come to expect disappointment from people I should be able to count on...both friends and family members. I don't often ask for help...I'm not comfortable asking for it, and I've learned to be pretty self-sufficient most of the time. At times like this, I am reminded why I became so self-sufficient in the first place. It seems like every time I reach out to someone for assistance, they let me down. It's very hard to be a team player when the other team members are all out for themselves. I saw a quote in today's Parade magazine by Shirley MacLaine regarding the supposed end of the world on December 12, 2012, due to the Mayan calendar ending on that date. She said, "The 2012 end date represents a cosmic choice we must each make. It really might be the end of our karmic drama, so to speak. I think we're in for some big changes, but I don't think it's the end of anything. It's a chance for new beginnings." I hope she's right because as I see it, we need all the help we can get. :p Rant over. ;)

Earlier this week, I entered to win $5,000 by creating a green shopping list as part of the eBay Green Team My Green List Earth Day contest. I don't expect to win, but it's a good way to promote the use of previously owned, resource saving, and sustainable products. :)

We found out in class last week that the MSU Metalwork & Jewelry department's end-of-semester studio opening will be this coming Tuesday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. It's a bit early this time...a lot of people in my class haven't finished their final projects yet, myself included. I will bring in the previous class projects that are finished, but I was hoping to finish the companion plate and condiment dish for my Chinese take-out box in time for the event. There's no way to have the box finished in time, so I won't even attempt that. I started the plate and dish last week and they won't take too long to do, but I need to use a drill in the studio because the Dremel I have at home takes much longer to drill through the metal and it also mars it if I'm pushing too hard on the drill because aluminum is so soft. Unfortunately, I couldn't get into the studio this morning as planned, so I will most likely not have them for Tuesday. :( We still have one more class period the night of the opening, and the following week will be open studio hours during our class session, so I plan to be there as well. Everything will get done by our final just would have been nice to have more to show on Tuesday. :\

Going to my sister's for Easter dinner in a bit, so I will sign off for now. Take care and have a great week! :D
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #16: From Japanese "Noodle Westerns" to Chinese Chopsticks...

Hi, gang! I hope everyone is doing well. :)

I've had a busy week! During class on Tuesday, we watched a Japanese "noodle western" -- a spoof of the old "spaghetti westerns" -- with subtitles called "Tampopo," the Japanese word for "dandelion" and the main character's name. Our teacher loves this film and he wanted to convey to us that we should put our all into whatever food we plan to make for our last class, when we use our "Out to Lunch" projects in our final critique. I've watched films with subtitles before, and even a very good one in Japanese ("Shall We Dance"), but this one was way too over-the-top for me. It gave me a headache! Needless to say, we didn't get much work done in that class, but I did manage to show my teacher the aluminum template for my Chinese takeout box. He seemed very pleased with it, and said "it showed" that I put a lot of time and effort into filing and sanding the edges! He gave me some suggestions regarding the hinges for the top flaps, so I will be working on those this week. I also cut up the remaining piece of aluminum sheet into two squares and one rectangle, which I will use to make a serving platter and condiment dishes...for sweet & sour sauce and hot mustard, for example. I still have a lot to do, and we're nearing the end of the semester, with two or three classes left at the most! He hasn't given us a date yet for the final critique. Wish me luck! ;)

On Thursday, we had our monthly BSNJ meeting. The program was revamped at the 11th hour to provide interactive demonstrations of various wire and metalwork tools, as well as a bead loom. I knew about a lot of them -- not all -- and waited for the crowds to die down at the stations before checking them out. I used my time wisely, though, and finished the embellishment on my chopsticks. I used half hard nickel wire (much more difficult to work with than dead soft wire, but it was what I had in the 18-gauge size I wanted to use) and coiled it around the top end of each chopstick. I added a pewter oval bead to the end of each side says "love" and the other side has Chinese characters on it; I presume they also say "love." I had them in my stash to be used as weighted charms for the clasp end on bracelets, but I liked the idea of using Chinese character charms for the chopsticks. :) So, that part of the project is finished! :D

I also added turquoise Greek leather to one of the resin pendants I made a few weeks ago. The pendant has two Turquoise chips in it, along with a couple of Cowrie Shells and Freshwater Pearls. The turquoise color of the leather picks up the color of the gemstone beads perfectly! :D

Today was spent with my older niece for her 10th birthday outing. We went to lunch at the Bagel Chateau -- both of my nieces LOVE bagels -- then to a local bead shop, and finally to Carvel for ice cream, which this niece LOVES. :) We made necklaces at the bead shop, something I had done with my younger niece last year. Jamie chose two puzzle piece "Best Friends" companion charms, and made a necklace for herself while I made one for her sister. Both girls love their necklaces, so it was a successful day overall. ;)

I'm still very behind on updating my photo files. There are only so many hours in a day, and I have to fit some downtime in there or I will go crazy. :p I should probably take a week off from the office job for a "staycation" at home to get my other stuff done. Maybe after school ends next month. :)

Have a great week! :D
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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #15: Minutes Turning Into Hours!

Hey, folks! I can't believe how quickly this month is flying by. Easter is only two weeks away! I thought it was further away for some reason. :o

I just finished typing up the minutes from the Bead Society's two-hour Board meeting this past Wednesday. It was my first Board meeting, although the President thinks I've "been around forever...that's a good thing" as she put it. :) It took me almost as long to type up the minutes as it took to have the meeting! Actually, I think it took a bit longer. :o I've sent them to the President for her input...I don't know if I reported more than was necessary or we just covered a lot of material that night. :p Our next general meeting is this coming Thursday instead of the third Thursday this month, due to Easter festivities at the Church where we hold our meetings. So, next weekend I'll be typing up minutes again! :\ Luckily, the Board is made up of a nice group of people. That makes the time pass more pleasurably. ;)

I spent three hours yesterday afternoon sitting in my backyard in the sunshine, filing and sanding the metal shape for my Chinese food container. One of my classmates probably saved me a month of sawing by showing me the electric jeweler's saw in the studio, a recent acquisition. It was like operating a sewing machine, only to saw metal! I broke half a dozen blades on my project, but it would have been 10 times that much if I had done it by hand. :p I'm really pleased with how the piece is shaping up. I just have to find a way to clean up the scratches left behind by the sandpaper and files. I don't really have the patience to sand the entire piece with multiple grades of sandpaper until the scratches all disappear. I did go over the entire piece twice each with four or five grades of sandpaper, but I wasn't thorough enough to make all of the scratches disappear. I'm hoping there's an electric tool I can use to cheat a bit on that. LOL

The reason I was working outside yesterday is because my Vitamin D level is low, and my psychiatrist mentioned this week that the supplements given to me by two other doctors are useless unless I take something to help my body process them or get exposure to sunshine. You'd think Vitamin D would come with the "processing agent" if that is the case, wouldn't you? So, I took advantage of the sunshine and worked on my back steps. :)

The Spike channel ran a "Star Wars" (IV, V, & VI) marathon last night, so I had it on. I know most of the first one (now called "A New Hope") by heart, so I didn't pay too close attention to that one. I watched "The Empire Strikes Back" more intently, although it is my least favorite of the three. I fell asleep within the last hour of "Return of the Jedi," since it was over at 3:00 a.m. I didn't like the newer three films (I, II, & III) nearly as much, although I liked the third of those the best because it seemed closer to the original series. I presume that's because Anakin finally became an adult. The first one seemed really boring to me, but I think that's because he was so young and I was impatient for him to grow up! LOL

I will be filing my income taxes this week. According to the accountant, I will be getting refunds from both the IRS and State of New Jersey, which is mind-boggling. I used to always owe New Jersey, even if the IRS owed me. Believe it or not, there is almost a $13,000 difference between what my annual income was last year on my Federal income tax form and what the State's form records. Naturally, the State amount is higher. I wonder what my State income taxes would be if I moved to San Diego? ;) Plus, there's more sunshine there...better for my Vitamin D level! :D

BTW, my coworker liked both pairs of white hoop earrings! She purchased one and may take the other at a later date. :) I also delivered a triple-strand Freshwater Pearl bracelet that I made for the owner of the salon where I get my nails manicured. She was really happy with it after I made it longer and changed the slide clasp to a toggle. :D

I received an upgrade for Bead Manager Pro last week and a second upgrade a few days ago, since people reported a few bugs in the first upgrade. I had already done the first upgrade, but it took me almost a half hour to make the second one today. It really should have taken about 10 minutes. I definitely find that when Mercury is in retrograde (as it is has been since March 30 and will continue to be until April 23), technology goes haywire. Mercury is the planet of technology and communication, so the internet, cell phones, email, and the like all become very unreliable during the three-week Mercury retrograde periods, which occur three or four times a year. I've noticed this for myself over the past couple of years. I also tend to get moody during certain aspects of the moon (I often learn about them after the period has past, so it's not a self-fulfilling prophecy), since the moon was in Pisces - a water sign - when I was born. I really find astrology fascinating. :)

I have to find some time to straighten out my office/studio soon. It's become a major disaster area, with notes to myself, tools, unfinished projects, new materials not yet recorded in the database, and items to be fixed all over the place. It's getting to the point where I can barely find anything! I used to be so neat and orderly in here. I wonder when that went out the window? :o

Have a great week! :D
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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #14: NAET, Social Media & My Latest Video!

Hi, everyone! What's new?

On the personal side of things, I've been undergoing allergy treatments to help stop my reaction to calcium oxalates. Yesterday, I had my second session of Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET), which incorporate acupuncture and avoidance of certain "food energies" for 25 hours following the treatment. Two weeks ago, I had the treatment for calcium and eggs. The egg one worked, but the calcium only relieved 50 percent of the problem. I'd inadvertently put my hand under tap water that afternoon, and tap water contains a certain amount of calcium in it. I will have to repeat that one at a later time. This week, we did grains, yeast, and sugar. Let me tell is REALLY HARD to avoid these items for 25 hours! I spent most of the day in bed with a major headache. I also had to avoid tap water again, since it was not listed on the "okay to consume" list for sugar or yeast (I forget which one). The last time was just as bad because I had to avoid anything related to eggs, including fowl and anything with feathers in it such as down comforters and pillows. Calcium is in many vegetables, toothpaste, and a lot of other things you wouldn't necessarily associate with calcium. I also spent most of that weekend in bed with a headache. The doctor is inquiring about getting a calcium oxalate sample, so we can treat me directly for that. The way we are going about it now, we're not entirely sure what will alleviate the itching and what won't. :\ Hopefully, I will get through these soon, as I can't take too many more "fasting" weekends! :p

A quick update on the projects I told you about last week: I received the aluminum sheet metal for the Chinese box project for school. I also went to Staples and made 11" x 17" copies of the template I found on the internet, so I'm ready to rock on that this coming week in class. I made the chopsticks last week...I even broke the second one while trying to whittle it down to a tapered end! Luckily, super glue and a vice worked a minor miracle, and I can't even tell which one was split! I had already sanded them both down to make them smooth, and I applied one coat of Tung Oil yesterday. I'll probably apply at least one more coat, maybe two. A classmate also suggested I reinforce the ends with will not only help make the broken one stronger, but also embellish the chopsticks and make them totally unique! I will try to get to that this week or next. :) I also finished the enamel-covered metal white hoop earrings I mentioned. In fact, I made two with large filigree hoops and a second smaller pair with wire donut spacers that have spokes going around them like bicycle wheels. Both turned out really nice! Hopefully, my coworker will like at least one pair. :)

In social media news, the Twitter page for the Virtual Mall seems to be drawing attention from somewhere, but I'm not quite sure where. I've been adding followers pretty regularly without much effort on my part. I think the page added 15 today alone! :o Between that page and the Facebook Page, we have close to 800 followers now! :D I also added a Company page for Something Tangible on LinkedIn. I was doing something over there and the option popped up, so I took it! :)

Lastly, I finally finished my fourth San Diego video and posted it to YouTube. I think it turned out pretty well! ;)

Have a great week! :D
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