Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘inspiration

Fence Maintenance

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I’ve tried a number of methods in dealing with fence posts that get pushed up by the freezing and thawing cycles that occur in our location. Our land has areas where the level of ground water sits just below the surface. It will drop during extended drought, but otherwise it doesn’t take much digging to reach moisture.

Every time it freezes, the water expands and the pressure slowly but surely pushes fence posts toward the sky.

Upon consultation with the owner of the company that originally installed our fencing, I learned that they would likely use a skid-steer tractor and press down with the hydraulic bucket. He suggested I save their time and my money and use the same method with my diesel tractor.

So, I did, and was amazed at how easily that pushed posts down. Almost too easy. It requires painstaking control and mental focus to avoid wreaking total havoc by overtaxing the limits of the posts or cross planks. One wrong slip and I risk doing much more damage than improvement.

There is one other complication with that method that pretty much stops me from even driving up to the fence. The ground in many of the areas of pushed up posts is so wet that my big tractor would sink into the mud and create an even messier problem to be solved.

That led me to desperately trying to simplify the task by just pounding down on the most obvious posts that had pushed up. Several different techniques to protect the post from damage and get the right angle and leverage all brought minimal results.

Yesterday spawned a new insight. I had a hand tool with a square steel pad for tamping soil that I figured would work to pound the top of the posts without damaging them. I also thought it wouldn’t hurt to add my 170 pounds of pressure to stand on a plank when slamming down on the top of a post.

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The thing is, I couldn’t feel if it was doing any good. I enlisted Cyndie’s help to watch for progress, which ended up providing great encouragement when she would report how much it was working.

I was thrilled. Right up to the point the steel tamper began to shatter under the mis-use. I tried to carry on, but the loss of weight in the tool seemed to diminish progress. Another tool was needed. We don’t have a specific sledge hammer, but I contemplated rigging something to use the wood splitting maul for the purpose.

That’s when the next inspiration struck. I could modify the broken tamper to make it the handle of a weighty block of wood that would match the fence posts I was pounding.

 

Look out fence posts. Here I come.

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New Heart

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It’s difficult to do a sculpture justice with a couple of two-dimensional images, but taking pictures of my projects allows me to keep a record of pieces that won’t stay in my possession forever. With that, I took these photos yesterday to chronicle the finished product of my latest woodworking endeavor.

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As I am wont to do, I’ve left the backside natural bark and shaped and polished the front into a heart shape from a piece of ash where the tree forked into two branches.

Completing this latest heart has inspired me to start over right away with another wood sculpting project from the variety of wood chunks I’ve stockpiled in the shop, salvaged from trees we’ve cut down over the years. I have a rough idea of what I feel like making next, but that vision will merge with the features of the wood I select to ultimately determine what emerges in the end.

Most often, when I put my heart into it, that is the shape that results.

I’m completely okay with that.

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Written by johnwhays

March 2, 2021 at 7:00 am

Parts

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

February 18, 2021 at 7:00 am

Figuring Out

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The human race has made it this far. Maybe things will change for the better if enough people overcome fear, selfish greed, and exclusionary dogma to embrace love for all others equally. Think about it.

In the meantime, rational thinking must tolerate the rampant distribution of disinformation and innumerable groups of gullible people who allow themselves to believe any narrative that aligns with their versions of reality.

Long ago I became disturbed by ever-increasing reports of atrocities enacted by individuals who had themselves been abused. It was very obvious that those who had been harmed were eventually becoming offenders. Generations of this pattern were creating an expanding pyramid of misery.

This led me to visualize inverting that pyramid of dysfunction by breaking the patterns in some who could raise healthier children. With each generation, there would be fewer abusers and from the top down, the cone of an inverted dysfunction pyramid would be getting smaller with time. A reverse-pyramid scheme.

Of course, the opposite of that is the wonderful perspective of a pyramid of healthy loving people expanding with every generation.

I sought to break the chain of depression that I had inherited from my family tree and provide the knowledge and support for my children to recognize depression in themselves and those they love.

With the innovations of a world-wide internet and social media applications, the less rational portions of the human population have found a method to consolidate their numbers in frightening ways. I’m finding myself stumped for ideas to invert the pyramid of fear-based philosophies.

How much of my loving them will influence a change of thought? Why doesn’t rational logic override conspiratorial fears? How will non-religious spirituality ever compete with entrenched dogma of so many rival sects?

Will our dog and our cat ever figure out how to peaceably get along?

From history, we know that civilizations collapse. There is no assurance that there will come a day when all people eventually come together into a healthy, compassionate, inclusive, and loving society. Maybe if robots are programmed to take over our governance. Although, I saw a curious report that an AI (artificial intelligence) controlled camera mistook a referee’s bald head for a soccer ball and followed it for the remainder of a match.

Based on the last four years of backlash to the US having elected a person of color to the highest office for the eight years previous, our democracy doesn’t appear to be the beacon of hope it was once purported to be. Capitalism doesn’t deserve very high marks either, given the insane disparity of wealth distribution and environmental destruction it has achieved.

If the US survives the outcome of our election on Tuesday, we will have a lot of work ahead of us to overcome animosities and nurture more love for others than ever before. Freedom may ring, but the world will be a much better place if it rings with due respect for all others.

Let’s expand love to more people in the world than any generation before us ever achieved.

Amen.

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Alternative Route

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I don’t know how long it will last, but on Monday I stumbled upon an alternate route to the “classic editor” I prefer and have used successfully for years prior to the so-called great [cough] “block editor” that became the WordPress default as of October.

Aah, the good old days.

This week we are enjoying an alternative October in the form of very summer-like high temperatures outside. It is strange to have the hours of daylight rapidly changing when the weather is so warm. The two phenomena don’t usually happen together to this extreme. Isn’t it odd to have weather behaving wacky at this point in the history of the planet?

Oh, I guess it’s not odd at all. Scientists have been predicting this for decades. Gee, if we don’t make significant changes in our reliance on fossil fuels, icebergs in the polar regions will melt, weather patterns of storms, droughts, floods, fires, and temperatures will become more extreme, and geographies and economies will be at risk.

Throw in a model of a global virus pandemic at the same time and you have the makings for a real stomach churner.

I suppose the insidious rise of extreme ideologies in multiple nations around the world touting white supremacy or fear of any diversity at all could be the icing on this growing mess of craziness.

The scourge of social media platforms enhancing the idiocy and ignorance could be viewed as the sprinkles on that icing.

Might there be an alternative route to love and enlightenment awaiting discovery by a collective of seekers?

It seems to me that a fair number of individuals find ways to grasp that golden ring, but can diverse populations of multiple nations ever make the bold leap en masse?

Cyndie and I practice an art of recovery from angst-producing situations that our horses helped to teach us by their ability to swiftly return to grazing calmly after a disturbance. When things appear to be spinning out of control, the vocalized phrase, “get back to grazing” helps us to put things in a healthier perspective.

It’s a way of paying heed to the bigger picture. Playing the long game.

Things might be out of control right now, but we don’t need to dwell in the worst of it all.

What I am wrestling with lately is the challenge of claiming my peace of mind in an immediate moment when so many others are enduring terrible suffering.

One alternate solution I experiment with is to fully embrace my good fortune of knowing infinite love, mindfully doing so in proxy for those who are not able.

To the innocents who have been unjustly confined, to those who have become prisoners of their own hate, to people who are victims of every manner of social injustices, I send love into the world in your honor.

It’s an alternate route that I dream someday might grow to become the main highway for all people of the world.

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Envision

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

June 11, 2020 at 6:00 am

Effect

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Written by johnwhays

May 21, 2020 at 6:00 am

Lifting Spirits

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Amid the glut of dramatic economic distress and virus fears in the news every minute, there continue to appear glimmers of calm and inspiration. I can’t add any words to enhance the wonderful a cappella collection of student voices from Rome singing a Crosby, Stills, & Nash song that has been in my repertoire since the early days of my acquiring an acoustic guitar. They deserve your full attention.

Hat tip to Howard Rheingold for pointing me to this gem.

Claim a few minutes from the calamities of your day to sit and enjoy this. It is a worthy distraction.

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I’m going to find it difficult to sing this song alone from now on after having watched them.

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Written by johnwhays

March 27, 2020 at 6:00 am

Celebrating MacPhail

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Last night we met Cyndie’s parents downtown in Minneapolis again, this time at MacPhail Center for Music, where our daughter, Elysa, is Manager of Student Services. It was MacPhail’s annual appreciation dinner for supporters, which included a couple of award presentations and showcased some incredible student musician performances.

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Board members even showed off their singing chops with an enthusiastic rendition of a holiday classic, to which I’ve already lost the memory of the title. Student music performances included a group of harpists, an electronically enhanced cello and flute duet, a pair of powerful young singers with opera voices, a demonstration of a typical group lesson for beginning young cellists, and a smooth couple of songs from their Dakota Jazz Combo ensemble.

I’m a little biased, but the highlight for me was visiting Elysa’s office while we were there and seeing that she has Beatles figures staged in her bookshelf. It was also a treat to witness a glimpse of her workplace in action and meet some of the people she works among.

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One additional surprise bonus was the unlikely chance sighting of a fellow Tour of Minnesota cyclist, John Toomey, who also happens to be a MacPhail student and often uses rehearsal space there. What are the odds we would cross paths in the short time we both happened to coincidentally be near the main entry last night? I would say, long.

We are proud of Elysa’s many years of contributing to the success of an organization that is improving the world via music, “transforming lives and strengthening communities through exceptional music learning experiences that inspire.”

It certainly inspired me, providing hope that good will triumph over evil from the transformations MacPhail is producing in so many lives.

Music makes the world go ’round, and MacPhail is making sure the world will keep spinning.

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Written by johnwhays

December 6, 2019 at 7:00 am

Appearance

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

August 1, 2019 at 6:00 am