Legal Absurdities

It was just a farmer’s market. A small one. One with pretentions for grandeur.

First, they informed all the vendors that if they wanted to participate, they must be compliant with all “regulations”.

Now, in the first place, regulations are NOT LAW. They are guidelines. Recommendations. Not even exactly legal requirements since they aren’t EVEN Civil Law. Just something that the state harasses you about until you give in and let them enforce them on you. Sigh.

But the farmer’s market board does not understand this, and does not want to. They require that all vendors sign that they will be in compliance with regulations (and the regulations are specified). These regulations require licensing for some things.

They also burden the vendors with many unreasonable requirements, and some reasonable ones. That isn’t what this is about, really, but it just goes along with officiousness where it impedes the intent of the event. They can’t quite figure out that their primary purpose is to help people honestly earn from local sales. They have to make sure that the vendors only do it in an “approved” way, and that they sell only the things that the board thinks will make the market look good. This year EVERY SINGLE ITEM that you sold had to be approved by them, and even if you wanted to bring ANOTHER item that they had already approved for someone else, they did not want you to sell it unless YOU were personally approved to sell that thing!

All this bother for a TWO HOUR PER WEEK market!

It’s $25 for the entire season. Most people just give in. Just like the government.

We get to the farmer’s market and there is a big sign there. “Food sold here has not been regulated, licensed, certified or inspected.”

Wait a minute.

They REQUIRED it to be “regulated”.

Some vendors CHOOSE to license, seek certifications, or invite inspections. Some vendors are PROFESSIONALS who choose to do that. Some are PROFESSIONALS who choose not to!

But after requiring the vendors to DO SO, they now warn the public that it HAS NOT BEEN DONE.

So when an entity decides to ENFORCE regulations on independent vendors, they do not DECREASE their own liability, they INCREASE IT. Because THEY have now ASSUMED the role of ENFORCING it. Voluntarily.

If they really wanted to avoid being sued, they would simply say, “All legal compliance is the responsibility of the vendor, the market entity is not responsible for enforcing any legal or regulatory compliance.” and leave it at that. This is the escape route, rather than taking it on, along with the entire load of liability.

But to then declare that NO regulation (or other compliance) has been done is not merely an insult to their vendors, it is a further invitation for suit. The vendors can sue them for posting a false declaration. The CUSTOMERS can sue them for misleading statements.

Kinda dumb. They want to control so badly that they do it backward in both directions.

I made enough to justify the $25 fee, the transportation, and the time to get there. Barely.

I predict that next year they will have another layer of impeding controls laid down upon the unsuspecting vendors who really just want to bring part of a local business into the public eye long enough each week to increase their earnings.

Keep it up farmer’s markets. You’ll eventually put YOURSELF out of business.

Math Doesn’t Lie, Even For Housing

House prices as listed by Realtors are now OBSCENE. I mean that. Outright Psychopathic – not merely Psychotic, but Evil, Cruel, Insane, Brutal, Psychopathic.

You are told that every house sells fast. You are told that they sell for outrageous prices (and they do, but not what you think). You are told there are no affordable rentals or sales.

You are being lied to. We are seeing for sale signs for YEARS in front of houses. Outrageous prices are 1/5 of the list price, NOT the list price. There ARE affordable houses, but no way to find them.

There are metrics that EVERY community has to have. If they do not have them, the community COLLAPSES.

The Median Household Income in MOST areas of the US is around $50k. The Census Bureau reports it at $74k and DECLINING. But they SKEW the number to make it higher, by eliminating everyone on Public Assistance (this eliminates about 3/5 of people who are under the Poverty Level, and this accounts for the adjustment). Other experts insist that the Median Household Income for the US is actually closer to $41.5k if you adjust for some housing issues (basement rented to family, two families, two households, counted as one), and some additional income issues (counting earnings from outside the US while residing outside, counting some kinds of savings payouts as income, etc).

So the metric is this:

MEDIAN housing prices (for a basic, comfortable 3 br house) HAVE to be available at 1/100 of TWICE the Median Household Income. That means $1000 per month. For a 3 BR.

Currently they tell you you cannot even get a shabby 2 BR for that,  and many places want you to believe this will get you a Studio apartment (often a remodeled strip motel room). They’ve been pushing this one for a LONG LONG time, and we are too used to rents hurting.

Median Single Earner Household Income is the next lynchpin. That runs at 3/5 of general Median Household Income – or $30k. That works out to $600 per month for a 2 br. Normal, average, sorta comfortable 2 br in liveable condition.

Now, this HAS TO EXIST. If it does not, you have NO minimum wage workers in your communities! You have no earners for less than about $20 per hour – they MOVE OUT because they cannot afford to live in the community.

MORE SO in College Towns, because young families with parent in school CANNOT AFFORD high priced housing, and in fact, Financial Aid just CANNOT go far enough EVEN WITH part time or even full time jobs! School is EXPENSIVE.

If you have no workers in this category, you lose EVERYTHING.

  • You lose hotels.
  • You lose Fast Food.
  • You lose Grocery Stores.
  • You lose gas stations and convenience stores.
  • You lose local delivery.
  • You lose carpentry, framers, roofers, home repair.
  • You lose classroom aids, and MANY teachers.
  • You lose DAYCARE ENTIRELY.
  • You lose production line manufacturing workers.
  • You lose road construction laborers – a few make more, but most not.
  • You lose phone call centers ENTIRELY, and they move out.
  • You lose ALL cashiers, bank tellers, and clerks.
  • You lose office workers of all kinds.
  • You lose lower to mid level government and corporate workers.
  • You lose part time artisans and crafters.
  • You lose agriculture – land prices skyrocket and they move on because they can’t earn enough to cover it. (Industry analysts say this one goes early.)
  • You lose mechanics – most do NOT make big bucks, and those who DO make more than $20 per hour are the exception, and have worked their way up for a LONG time.

Once this begins, it CASCADES. You don’t just lose workers, you lose the BUSINESSES that depend upon them. First, they raise wages, and then, they close their doors.

It does not stop with low bar earners. It reaches into higher tiers because they OFTEN reside with a lower income earner, and they BOTH move out.

The next phase is that Services that a community NEEDS are no longer there.

Wealthy people leave first on the receiving end of things. They just WON’T stay in an area that does not offer conveniences.

The upper middle income leaves next. And once they go, EVERYTHING collapses.

This process rarely completes fully, usually a correction occurs, and housing opens up again. But in the mean time, it can get VERY ugly.

Now, there are various lies out there to “explain” this. It is different in every area, but here are two that we have heard:

  1. Rich people from Salt Lake and California are moving in here and paying half a million for a vacation property.
  2. Rich people are tired of Vegas and L.A (Houston, New York City, Miami, Chicago, Boston, DC, etc)., and are paying half a million for a property to relocate to. This one is regional, with a different city listed for each region.
  3. They are selling for AirBNB.
  4. There’s a factory coming in that is taking up all the housing for employees.
  5. Refugees are taking all the cheap properties.
  6. We are also told that houses “appraise” for ten times their value.
  7. That high interest rates are skewing the markets.

Lies. PROVABLE lies.

First off, there AREN’T ENOUGH RICH PEOPLE IN SALT LAKE AND CALIFORNIA to buy THAT MANY houses at THOSE PRICES. There aren’t even enough of them in the entire US to create a housing crunch in even a single community, let alone in the entire country. (And before we hear the myth that rich foreigners are buying them, you need to understand that rich foreigners don’t exist… Incomes in Europe average FAR lower than the average inside the US, and there are FEWER people living above what we class as poverty level, and FAR fewer living above OUR median income levels. When they buy outside of EU, they buy cheap condos or cabins, but mostly they rent hotel rooms for short vacations because they can’t afford to maintain a second house full time. There are not NEARLY enough of them to affect the housing prices here.)

Second, there aren’t ENOUGH RICH PEOPLE WHO WILL PUT UP WITH SMALL TOWN LIMITATIONS to relocate to the places in question here. They want a CITY. A BIG ONE. Not enough jobs in small towns and small cities to absorb THAT MUCH. Especially AT THOSE INCOMES. And there aren’t enough of them to affect a large town either.

Third, the incomes required here are ENORMOUS. They are in the top 0.000034% of earners in the US. Incomes over $2m per year are RARE, and that is what it takes to keep selling million dollar homes, and it works out to less than 500 people in the US who can afford them. Incomes of $1m per year are a 0.0026% factor. That works out to about 8666 people in the US with that kind of income, and that works out to about 173 per state, only 2% of whom WANT a second home, and even if you tip MOST of them over into a single location, it still is NOT ENOUGH to have more than a MINIMAL effect on a single location. There are not enough rich people to cause this in all the areas it is claimed for. There are even too few who make over $100k to have THAT KIND of effect nationwide, as is claimed, and there is NO WAY they are all going to go to the same place.

Fourth, they don’t buy an EXPENSIVE vacation property. They buy a CHEAP ONE. You can’t AFFORD two huge mortgages, you can only afford one, IF you can afford one.

Fifth, retirees also do not buy expensive. They buy cheap.

Sixth, AirBNB is NEVER a big thing, and it is NEVER lucrative. People don’t generally stay in private rented vacation homes, they stay in hotels. They are suspicious of private rentals for vacations, and they tend to NEVER pay for an entire house unless they overload it with extended friends and family, and leave it a mess. Owners of AirBNB (and former owners) tell terrible stories, and a very high percentage go into foreclosure or they either rent by the year or sell out entirely within 6 months. It just isn’t a way that you CAN make money due to how it operates and how people think about vacations and overnight or temporary rentals. Would you rent a house for $600 per night when you can get a clean hotel room for less than $100? Statistically, only ONE vacation house rents for every 300 hotel rooms. The market would be saturated in this valley with six rented homes, yet people say they are all selling for that… that half the homes here are AirBNB. Not possible.

Factories being talked about, moving into LARGE cities (they won’t locate elsewhere), only need an average of 40 employees. A few larger need as many as 200. NOT ENOUGH to even make a DENT in a fair sized city. 200 employees in a town of 100,000 are lost in the crowd. Heck, that many will have moved out as the new ones move in.

Refugees are the same as rich people. There just aren’t enough of them, and they are not living in low income properties, they are living in flop houses and shelters, and other places while they try to find someone to hire them. The life of a refugee is horrendous, and they lose sponsors as fast as they gain them. There just aren’t enough of them to affect the housing markets anyway, especially in cities  that are not landing zones. This isn’t even an issue in Miami except in about three very small districts, and they are OBVIOUSLY racial communities.

Houses do not appraise for 10 times what the populace can afford to pay for them. They just can’t. Houses don’t sell when people make half the amount of the payment due on the mortgage. Crooked appraisers puff prices to keep the idea of high prices in play.

High interest rates do NOT increase prices of houses. In fact, they DECREASE them, because when interest rates are high, monthly payments and loan costs go UP. They go WAY up. An $800 payment can go to $1100 just from a significant change in interest rates. That means people HAVE to have LOWER housing prices to afford to live.

Even if ALL OF THE LIES WERE TRUE, it still is NOT ENOUGH to affect the entire nation, and we find that these lies are being told in EVERY CITY, and even in the small rural towns. It can’t be true everywhere.

Let’s do some of the math.

A half a million dollar home costs UPWARD of $5000 per month for the payments. We know this.

A $100k home is MEDIAN for a $50k income. And that is a $1000 per month payment.

Landlords and banks BOTH just won’t qualify someone on LESS INCOME for that payment. They REQUIRE $50k to get a $100k loan. If there are variances they are SMALL ONES, not huge ones, so you might get a $100k loan on $42k, but you WON’T get a $200k loan on $50k.

Now, let’s examine the meaning of Median.

It means the MIDDLE OF THE AVERAGE. That means SOME will be higher, and SOME will be lower, but the spread is NOT EVEN. Higher incomes disperse more, and the very high incomes are VERY INFREQUENT. The lower ones cluster in the survivable ranges, and about ONE THIRD have LOWER incomes than median, and about ONE THIRD have CLOSE to Median on either side.

People, there just AREN’T enough RICH PEOPLE in the WORLD to skew housing like you are being told.

So what IS happening?

I can identify only TWO  factors that are not being talked about. And they are big.

  1. The internet is broken. Craigslist is broken, Etsy is broken, Ebay is scary twisted, Google is outright fraudulent and broken (search results are screwy messed up and way incomplete), online real estate listings are outdated and fraudulent, online rental listings are even worse. In short, you cannot look up ANYTHING accurate online for housing, especially rentals. The days of finding a house online are long gone.
  2. Print is broken. There are NO LISTINGS in newspaper classifieds for rentals. There are only puffed and outrageous pie in the sky real estate listings – the majority, by the way, WITHOUT PRICES (always an indication of a con).

This means that DEALS ARE THERE. But nobody knows where. Landlords have forgotten how to promote an available rental. You CAN’T find it except word of mouth, and even THAT is mostly broken. People have forgotten how to personally network.

What we get are Property Management Companies, and Realtors, both of whom are so screwy insane with greed and avarice right now that they JUST WON’T let you rent ANYTHING under “their pricepoint”. And that can be ANYTHING crazy high.

Some of the tricks they try:

  1. They will discount your income – eliminate many legit types of income from consideration as earnings, so you can’t qualify even for a low pricepoint.
  2. They charge an “application fee”, and that can be anywhere from $40 to CRAZY HIGH. We encountered one at $80, when they quoted $40 (then they tell us that it is for EACH ADULT). Non refundable. They disqualify you, sucks to be you, you just gambled $40 or more, and lost. And they KNOW they can just yank you and you will never know the truth of whether they already rented the place and just disqualified you to keep the fee. Yeah, it’s a thing. A BIG one. We consider application fees to be a scam, NO MATTER WHO CHARGES THEM (Yes, you, Century 21, and other major Real Estate companies.) This is also done by companies that HAVE NO RENTALS, they just make them up, and charge fees and disqualify. This is also done by Banks and Realtors for housing purchases, with the same spread of fraud and extortion.
  3. They bait and switch. $975 says the listing on their website. “Oh, that one is $1200.” they tell you. (True story.)
  4. They maintain OUTDATED listings. Everything affordable is still listed, but no longer available.
  5. They want you to fill out the application, but they are REALLY BACKWARD about scheduling a viewing of a rental. Sometimes happens with purchase, but tends to be “look at the outside we can’t let you in” version. Can we say, “Con”?
  6. They LIST the property at one price, and SELL it at another, and then report that it “SOLD” as a $— listing. The sale price is generally LESS THAN HALF of the listing price if it is one of those outrageously high priced listings. You think that you KNOW, because someone at the courthouse who files deeds says this is what is selling and they see it every day. But DEEDS NEVER LIST THE SALE PRICE. Neither does the purchase notice (essentially a bill of sale but without the price listed). It says, “for $10 plus other considerations”, rather than a full price listed. So “comps” you see are ALWAYS on LIST PRICE, and NEVER on SALE PRICE.
  7. Corruption is Rife. Realtors have been taken over by greedy leeches who believe that if they PRICE it high, they can FORCE YOU to pay more, whether you can afford it or not (with the irony that they won’t approve you anyway because your income is not high enough). Once one company starts it, the rest fold and go all in. The world is being run by people who disconnect their “neat idea” from the dysfunction it causes (how else can we explain Colorado’s current love affair with Roundabouts – I mean, we expect this kind of dysfunction in Great Britain, but NOT in America). Get a clue Realtors – you are NOT selling puffed properties like you think you can, and for many of you, NOTHING is moving. We are NEVER prepared to suffer THAT MUCH, to try to make an extortionate payment every month with eviction hanging over our heads if we fail, just so you can scrape 200% of a reasonable sale price. (Many versions of the high price scams, going from crooked breach of contract on sales where the owner gets ripped off, the buyer gets ripped off, and the realtor takes it out of the middle, all the way to involvement of crooked banks or bank loan officers. LOTS of criminal behavior, as well as just merely dishonest, as though there is something such as merely dishonest).

Work it out. The math HAS to work, or it is DECEPTION.

What we are being told is NOT TRUE, no matter who insists that it is.

But I suppose the high prices do have more gossip value than the real world. I am ever shocked at how many people would rather believe the lie than to apply some common sense and math to see the truth and possibly see a solution.

Sizzix – I Gave It Away And Then I Learned

As a die cutter, this thing sucks. I mean, the dies DO NOT CUT anything. They PRESS an indentation into things, but the dies don’t even have sharp edges!

So I tried to sell it. Nobody wants it. I set it out to give it away. Nobody wants it. DI, here it comes.

Then I learn it does other things.

It can be used as a print press. Watercolor prints, transferred ink prints, and other types of prints that you dampen and then press into another piece of paper.

Not really my crafty thing. But hey, who knew?

It can be used as a flower press. You know those prints they make from fresh flowers? Lay then down, push them into the paper, and you get a print from the colors of the flower. This thing works for that.

Again, not really my thing, but I really just had to write about it in case you are one of those people who bought a Sizzix or some other kind of die cutter that doesn’t actually CUT anything.

Press it does. Cut it does not!

Dogface In The Morning

I ate some chicken. It doesn’t matter WHOSE chicken, or where, probably ANY chicken would have done it. (A few months ago the water went off here – smelled of chemicals, badly. I’ve been having severe allergic reactions ever since. Necessary backstory, I suppose.)

Somewhere  in the middle of the night I wake, and my lips feel funny. Sorta like the novacaine is wearing off, only fat and puffy. It happens sometimes, and it is never even. Various parts of my face swell up and itch – it isn’t hives, this is LOTS of swelling, and a little bit of itch. It hits one side of my lips (never the same one twice in a row), one side of the top lip, sometimes the other side of the bottom lip, sometimes my chin, sometimes my cheeks, occasionally under my eyes.

This time it is everything. But not on both sides. One side has more than the other, and it isn’t balanced at all.

I look like a dog.

A sad dog.

A St. Bernard.

I’m not quite drooling. Small blessings.

I take the Zyrtec. It isn’t quite up to it.

Oddly I can breathe through my nose for the rest of the night. The swelling doesn’t go down, but it doesn’t go up either. It does not progress to congestion and severe asthma. But my whole face has lumps and distortions.

I wake in the morning and it is still very swollen. I know how this one goes, as I move my face, the swelling will go down. Takes about an hour. This time it takes three… four. Geez. After about two hours I still looked like I had Bell’s Palsy on one side, sorta saggy. It isn’t that my face is saggy, more like there just isn’t room for it all up higher.

My lip still doesn’t FEEL normal, but my upper lip on the left, the last place to resolve, is finally NOT looking like a middle aged man who just shaved for the first time in 10 years and everybody can see how much his lip has grown.

I’m no longer a St. Bernard though. So that’s good.

The Loom That Laura Made

loomHandmade Shoelace (Band) Loom

The yarn here is handspun, and then plied, so it is a fine spun thread that has been plied into a two ply yarn.

I am using a single ply, thinner, weft thread, and this pulls it to give it a somewhat scalloped appearance on the sides of the finished ribbon.

This loom was made of thin wall trim, glued together with shoe goo. I made the shuttle and heddles also. More shoe goo.

The warp winds around another wood piece on the back, and I use the two clamps to anchor that wood piece so it won’t unwind.

I also peeled and scraped two pieces of elm branch, to use as raddles at the top. They separate the threads (use the heddle – drop it and insert one raddle, then raise it and insert the other raddle), so they don’t get tangled at the top of the loom. This is how I used it the first time.

Shown here is a SECOND heddle, right at the top of the loom, and I used that on this weaving, to see if it was easier to keep the warp threads from tangling as they unwound from the wood piece on the back. It did help – I didn’t use the raddles at first, but put them in later for this picture to show what they were supposed to be doing. Use of the second heddle there is not needed, it is just an optional thing. Once you start weaving, it doesn’t do anything to help things stay neater if the raddles are in use.

When warping the loom, the second heddle in the back can be moved out to the ends of the warp threads to keep them neat and even as you roll the warp onto the back stick. I kept that heddle just in front of the threads I was winding onto the stick, and it kept them neat and even as they went on.

I’m only using this for shoelaces. It is really too small for any other kind of compressed warp weaving, the heddles that fit it are just too narrow. I could use it for narrow balanced weavings that turn out the full width of the heddle, but it would still be mighty small stuff!

You can see the finished lace, and it is pulled down and wrapped around the back brace on the loom, and held there by a binder clip.

To advance the warp, I remove the binder clip, take off the two pink clips, and then unroll the warp stick. I then refasten the pink clips, and pull on the finished weaving to pull the unrolled warp thread up and over, through the heddle and raddles (again, only one or the other is really required at this point). I pull it very tight and re-clip the finished weaving to the back brace. All the rest of the finished lacing dangles off in a pile.

This loom is pretty tiny, and the working space (space between the obstacles at the top, and the frame at the bottom) where you can actually WEAVE, is very short. I have to advance the warp about every 4″. I think this is about as small as I’d ever want to make a loom for making ribbon or bands, or shoelaces.

People do use smaller looms – pin looms, tiny tapestry looms, H looms, and other little bitty things. They are used for small weavings, pieced projects, etc.

This little loom holds up to a 15 dent heddle – that means 15 holes, and 14 slots, for 29 threads total. If using larger yarn it makes a fairly wide piece, and the warp is not compressed. Once you go to band weaving with a compressed warp though, it narrows down considerably, and will only make half that width or narrower, depending on thread weight (the narrower the thread, the narrower the finished piece).

Is it fun? It is faster than I thought it could be – feels faster, anyway. The warping is tedious and awkward. The advancement of the warp is tiresome. The weaving itself is boring, as weaving tends to be. But it is a calm and simple thing to do when I’m tired, or when I’m occupied with something else and just need to keep my hands busy. I don’t really binge Netflix, I’m not the type anymore, but I do spin or weave in the evenings when we watch a movie, and sometimes during the day when I have to sit down.

I’ll be making another of these, much wider. I want to do wider pieces of compressed warp weavings, with band style straight weave and complex weave designs. I have more homemade heddles that have more than one row of holes in them, to vary the weave type.

UPDATE: I did make another wider loom to make wider weavings on, and when I made this first loom I had also made a beveled shuttle. It took several days of sanding and shaping (I only had hand tools to do it). It was pretty hard to do, and I had no motivation to do another one, especially the larger one I really needed. But I had a 4 inch one (Inkle style), when I discovered how to make a simple shuttle from popsicle sticks. I used the stick shuttle for several sets of laces, and found it to be functional, but sometimes awkward due to having to keep track of two ends as I worked it through the warps.

Today, three weeks after this initial post, I tried the beveled shuttle. It is FAR easier to use, it just slides through without hanging up. I’m really glad I learned to make the popsicle stick shuttle, but I’m much happier using the beveled shuttle.

Warp Speed

Weaving, that is. Star Trek never had this.

I don’t have pictures yet. Sorry. But I need to write anyway.

I have a SampleIt Loom. Have had for a few years now. I got it soon after I started spinning. If you spin, you have to USE the yarn you make, or the thread you make. But then, you also have to make ENOUGH thread or yarn.

Problem was, I didn’t have enough of any one thing to really DO anything with on the loom, and warping the loom requires space that I did not have. Still don’t. So my loom sits in the corner, lonely and abandoned looking, gathering dust. Too costly to let it do that forever, I WILL use it. But I need a project that I have enough yarn for first.

Stumbled on Band Weaving. Was not impressed. Then I was. It is quite lovely in many patterns. They used to call it Ribbon Weaving, and sometimes Tape Weaving. Look it up, it is easier than me trying to explain and you getting it all wrong.

Shoelaces. You can make shoelaces with this. Decorative ones. In any color you want, provided you can find the thread. I started with crochet thread, bedspread weight cotton. Works good.

It took WEEKS to get from “I want to do THIS” to actually threading a heddle.

First I had to make a loom. I did. A modification of the Beka 4″ wide loom, mine is wider, and shorter. Just 9″ by 12″. Works much the same, but has a design change on the warp board on the back to make it simpler for me to make.

Then I made an even smaller loom, just a 6X9″ frame. I tied on two raddles, and added a 3/4″ by 1/4″ board that is about 8″ long to wind the warp onto. Tied that on, strung the heddle, and made pink and yellow shoelaces. The colors I HAD that I didn’t mind using on a practice product. I now have two 30″ long striped shoelaces that someone in my family will find in their mailbox sometime around Christmas this year.  25 threads wide, ends up about 1/2″ in finished width.

Next are Kevin’s bootlaces. Navy, Light Blue, and Dark Green. These are about 3/8 of an inch wide. They are wool. Handspun wool. It is what I have on hand. I started these on the same tiny loom, but used some clamps instead of string, to make it faster to advance the warp. The loom suddenly went from simple looking to trashy – the clamps are large, with pink handles and grips.

The thing is, weaving by hand is SLOW. And this is a TINY loom. Even the larger one is SMALL. Weaving ribbon is pretty fast as far as passing the shuttle is concerned. The time is lost in advancing the warp .

Warp thread is the long thread that you put through the heddle (look it up). It runs from the back of the loom to the front, and however many warp threads you put on determines in part the width of the end product.

The threads that go back and forth in the shuttle, to form the rows from bottom to top are the Weft. So you weave the weft into the warp, again and again, until you run out of room. Then you advance the warp – you unroll more thread to use at the top, and you roll up (or just reanchor) the finished weaving at the bottom.

There are all sorts of ways that looms handle this one basic function. Some are easy, and some are hard. Some are simple, but take time. If you make a loom by hand, this is one area where you often have to compromise, and accept a more difficult or time consuming method, in order to simplify the pieces and assembly of the loom.

I’m faster now at advancing the warp than on the first set of shoestrings. With those, I wove about 3-4 minutes, and then spent 2-3 minutes advancing the warp. Now it takes less than a minute to advance the warp, but I’m also weaving wool, which is a bit slower since it likes to cling to itself and does not slip easily when the heddle is raised or lowered. It seems to be taking longer to weave this set of laces, even though I’ve gained so much speed on the warp advance.

Band Weaving is a great place to start, because it teaches you patterns in Straight Weave. Straight weave is just back and forth, every other thread, alternating row to row. So if you have a hole and slot heddle you just lift for one row, and drop for the next row. There are literally hundreds of patterns you can create with Straight Weave, just by varying the colors.

With Band Weaving, it is a Compressed Warp style weaving, so all the warp threads get pushed together tight, and you don’t even see the weft threads. It makes it so you only have to worry about the colors on the Warp, in order to work out a pattern. It can be simpler to start out than many other kinds of weaving.

Kevin is weaving on a Peg Loom, and it is Compressed Weft. So the back and forth threads compact down, and you don’t see the warp threads that hold them together. This simplifies the process for him, he only has to worry about getting things right one direction, not two.

There are other things I want to do. But I have to work out how to make the loom do them. There are problems with small looms that cause aggravation for weavers worldwide, and it makes it difficult to produce even work.  Wider and longer finished work compounds those problems, and it gets really awkward to first warp the loom, and then keep the warp from getting all tangled or having uneven tension. I assume there may be solutions. But I cannot find them.

Meanwhile, I CAN make small ribbons. And they make really cool decorative shoelaces.

I am either really crafty creative, or I am really pathetic.

Ever Wonder About Those Corncobs?

“I’d like to subscribe to your newspaper, what is the cost?”

“It is a dollar a week. But tell you what. You drop a load of corncobs behind my outhouse and I’ll give you that subscription.”

“If I had corncobs I wouldn’t need your newspaper.”

This is an old joke, and we wonder about those cobs. Surely that would tear you up so bad it would not clean you at all! And that’s the truth.

They didn’t USE corncobs, they only CALLED them that. The corn was husked dry, and the kernels were rubbed out, leaving the cob with the husks attached. You had a bucket in the outhouse, and you filled it, cobs down, husks up. You took off HALF of the husks, and that was your TP. If you were the second user, you tossed the cob into the can after you tore the husks off.

That isn’t all they used. Outer cabbage leaves, dried flexible, were an option, as were lettuce leaves, dock leaves, elk cabbage leaves, maple leaves, and other large leaves that were not scratchy. Newspaper was used, and was preferred because it was a softer paper. But the Wards or Sears catalogs would do just as well (once the new one came out you could use the old one, if you were still using the catalog you had to tear out the pages you did not need and put just those in the outhouse, otherwise you just left the catalog, a double benefit if you were a reading stinker thinker). Once they went to those glossy paper catalogs though, they lost their appeal as an alternative to paying for TP. Some families still endured it though, and remember it as a sort of punishment.

In the winter, rags were cut up into 4″ squares, and left in the outhouse. SINGLE USE! So you needed a lot of rags for a thriving family.

We are so pampered to have soft paper, and we don’t even know it. We complain if we are forced to use what my family called “Elephant Wipe” (paper towels). We don’t think about the privations of yesteryear, if we even understand what they were!

There are so many things we hear of and we can’t begin to comprehend what it actually meant. Corncobs are just one of those things that is misinterpreted regularly.

Becoming A Professional Artist

Back then, I could not do it. I could not even IMAGINE doing it.

In highschool, where I was taking art classes, and learning to paint with oil paints (they never introduced acrylics at all in those days), I could not envision myself picking up a paintbrush and wrestling with the canvas EVERY DAY as a full time artist. I could not imagine harnessing that kind of flow of creative inspiration EVERY DAY, let alone full time every day!

But life changed me. First off,  I learned a set of SKILLS and TECHNIQUES from Bob Ross, and other painting instructors. My teachers in school never even hinted at the wonders I learned – how to use a brush to create effects instead of having to paint each dot individually to create the same effect!

This changed not only HOW I paint, but WHAT I paint. I was never even able to TRY to paint some things, and I learned to paint them quickly, and easily, and the outcome became better with practice. I was still that artist that painted the thing that I was never satisfied with, but I could at least produce a thing that had merit.

I stopped painting when I got married. No place for a studio, not even a desk.

After the birth of my fourth child, I started painting again. That was the Bob Ross phase of learning, and I sold a few paintings, gave a few away, and kept a few. One portrait, in progress, never finished, lost in the great disaster. I learned to gain inspiration from the works of other artists, and a little from photographs.

But in the mean time, I became a successful home business owner, and webmaster. All my spare energy was funneled into that business. My reading was no longer novels and biographies, it was technical manuals. My art was headers and template designs and logos (I learned to be an accomplished computer graphics professional). My writing was all instructional. My hobbies were all technical and professional.

I became a type of Commercial Artist. I learned that when someone wanted a design from me, the thing I thought was perfect, which I created first, and knocked out of the park, was NEVER EVER the thing they wanted! I learned to satisfy the customer who thought entirely differently from myself.

About a year ago I started painting again. Kevin bought the supplies for me for my Birthday.

There’s a difference now. I can work daily at painting, and produce more than one painting a day, for weeks at a time, and not lose my enthusiasm for it, as long as there is hope of a customer at the end of the day.

I’m no longer the unfocused girl I was. I’ve learned technique, method, and skill. And I’ve learned not only the business and marketing side of things, I’ve learned two major skills that are ESSENTIAL for an artist, which I did not know I even needed, back when I just knew I’d never be talented enough to be a full time artist.

I know now that talent is only a small part of the equation.  Oh, you HAVE to have it, but it is nowhere near enough by itself.

I know TWO things that I did not know I needed to know.

  1. I know how to START when I feel absolutely uninspired. I know how to pick up the brush when it is the LAST THING I want to do, and GET STARTED on a thing I know I am capable of doing. I learned this troubleshooting databases, and installing and configuring website structures. I learned that if I just PICKED UP the task, and STARTED IT, then I’d be able to get inside it enough to FINISH it.
  2. I know how to GET PAST the stupor of thought in the middle of a thing that makes me feel unable to finish it. When things don’t go right, when I’m out of ideas, when I just can’t face wrestling with that again, right now, I know what to do. I either take a little break and go to do something else for a bit, or I just dive right back in, after a prayer for help. I know that 95% of the time, I can just KEEP WORKING IT, and something will change. So the solution is sort of the same. I just pickup the brush and KEEP GOING until I FINISH IT.

I used to have all manner of unfinished paintings laying around. I no longer do. I have a stack of unstarted items that are roughed out, but once I start it, I finish it.

I am capable now of doing things for a living that I never thought I could. I’ve walked the walk as a web designer, sufficient that I know that in the end, full time creative work is just a job, like any other, and a privilege to be able to do every day.

I also learned to be PRODUCTIVE, and I now approach art in the same way I did the $500 website (which was our bread and butter). I learned to create a $500 website in a matter of a few hours of my time. Far less time than my competitors. I also learned to give HIGHER VALUE to my client (we gave them EVERYTHING they needed for the website to WORK, at THAT price), and how to EARN MORE myself. I systemized and streamlined the processes, invented my own processes, and became something outside the mainstream.

So I now paint with an eye to efficiency, and I work on my OWN techniques to speed the processes without compromising the quality of the art. There are assuredly many growing pains. But I produce a painting of higher quality (for me) in 2-3 hours. I produce a rougher work in less than an hour, on average. These same things took 4-10 hours for me to do many years ago.

Once you learn to treat it like a job, instead of like playtime, you can do it full time.

Oddly, it doesn’t take the joy out of it. It only takes the joy out when you can’t treat it like a job!

When I have the brush or pen, or pencil in hand, I still lose myself in the work. I still delight when a thing turns out, and I still despair when it can’t get the magic working.

I became a Commercial Artist, as I said. Able to create according to someone else’s specification, within my scope of talent and skill. And it was VERY fulfilling.

And now, I can create “fine art” (a subjective term, to be sure) in a more intensive manner.

I can be a Professional Artist, and am working in improving my skillset within that capacity.

The Myth Of The “Ideal Customer”

There’s no such thing, folks!

All these so called marketing experts out there crying that they have the secret to endless buyers. They tell you one of the first steps is to identify your “Ideal Customer”.

Now they do this for all kinds of things, but I am seeing it lately with Art Marketing Coaches.

There’s no such thing! Ok, I already said that. But there ISN’T an “Ideal Customer” for ANY business.

There’s too much variety.

You can’t even isolate a set of characteristics that is valid.

You CAN isolate some NEEDS. But they vary also, and you can’t cookie cut your customers.

I decided I wanted to go after Assembly Line Art buyers.

But they are all different!

Some are brokers, some are gallery owners, some are boutique or even big box retailers. Some ware wholesalers, some are distributors.

There’s no “Ideal” because there are too many types.

Even among those types, the INDIVIDUALS will respond to different messages.

You don’t TARGET anyone.

You BE YOURSELF. (Ok, some version of nice, professional, informative, honest, etc, in case you aren’t those things, ’cause “yourself” only works when “yourself” is LIKEABLE.)

Talk to your audience like you do to your friends. Talk to them like you do when you are talking to an actual prospect, or customer.

And you find that you keep having to add little bits, because encountering new people to negotiate with or to inform, exposes you to versions of customers that you could not envision! They keep coming up with new perspectives that blindside you! You just can’t predict it!

So just tell the world about your product. Because THAT is something EVERY customer needs.

Just give good and honest details, and speak to the NEED that your customer is likely to have, that YOUR product provides for, ESPECIALLY when it is a unique product that meets the need better.

Speak from the point of view of THEIR NEEDS, and not from YOUR NEED TO SELL. It works better.

But don’t go trying to map out some mythical customer who only exists in the fragile minds of the mentally unstable.

That customer doesn’t exist except as a figment of your imagination, and you’ll just be wasting valuable time, that you could be using to present your product in a persuasive way to the general public. Let them choose. Don’t filter them (except for legal and moral reasons).

Let THEM decide if they are the winning customer that you never expected would be the one to buy your product or service again and again.

Pardon My Faux Pas

“Underwater Painting of Alexander Belozor”. That’s what it said. Really.

I’m browsing on Pinterest, looking for some inspiration for the next seashell thingy, and there it is.

And I must say, it didn’t look a thing like him! Truth is, I had a lot of trouble telling just which rock was supposed to be HIM. Maybe the artist didn’t have much talent…

I have great fun sometimes naming my paintings, titling my articles, and coming up with brand names for things I dream up. Occasionally I come up with a screamer – one that just makes people howl with laughter. Sometimes a scorner. But often just plodders.

So far though, I haven’t tried to name anything as a portrait of myself when it was just a scene of something else!

The CRIME Of Charging Sales Tax Across State Lines

No, folks, you CANNOT charge sales tax from your internet business in one state, to the residents of another state. I don’t care if you DO live in Chicago. I don’t care is some ignorant webmaster wannabe says you have to now because some law or another says so.

They are wrong.

NO INTERNET BUSINESS CAN, Nor SHOULD, NOR CAN BE REQUIRED to charge sales tax to ANY RESIDENT of ANY STATE where THAT BUSINESS does not have a PHYSICAL PRESENCE.

It is against the law to do so.

Which Law?

It is Contrary to the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution which PREVENTS any state from collecting sales tax from any resident of any other state! It GUARANTEES free trade between states, and this is part of it, and the Supreme Court has ruled on that, many times.

It is that simple.

It is NO DIFFERENT than if you have a mail order company that sends out catalogs. Online business is the SAME, and your website is considered to be nothing more to the courts than a MAIL ORDER CATALOG SYSTEM. This is also upheld by the Supreme Court.

The fact that the system is online, rather than hand processed by the business MAKES NO DIFFERENCE. It is still just a MAIL ORDER BUSINESS.

It is a CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION, and a FEDERAL CRIME if YOUR BUSINESS charges sales tax to anyone outside YOUR state (tourists are IN YOUR STATE when the sale occurs).

In fact, it is TREASON to do so, and a CAPITAL CRIME. That means, if you are found guilty, the death penalty is mandatory.

Not only is this a crime Federally, but it is a crime in EVERY STATE to collect sales tax that is not legally due. Every state stipulates that you can ONLY collect tax on sales that occur IN YOUR STATE (with the customer present), OR from mail order with an in-state customer. It is a crime at the state level for which you can receive the death penalty also. THIS is Tax Fraud, and it is no small thing.

If your webmaster or accountant is telling you otherwise, THEY ARE A CROOK.

If a business is charging you sales tax for a state YOU DO NOT LIVE IN, then THEY ARE A CROOK.

No exceptions. No excuses.

This is a growing trend among dishonest businesses who charge you illegally, so they can skim that extra amount for themselves. You better believe they are NOT paying it to their state. There is NO STATE that requires that, they cannot without getting sued six ways to Sunday.

We are a Constitutional Republic. That means something. It means that the Constitution of the United States of America is the SUPREME law of the land. It holds. No state can just decide that they don’t want to do it that way anymore.

WE DON’T OWE IT!

Lessons From Solitaire

I admit it, I play Solitaire on my computer. It is one of those things that rests my brain, and brings order when I am in the middle of chaos, or when I’ve had a day that really took it out of me.

There are lessons in Solitaire, and some are fairly profound.

  1. Some people judge you if you play Solitaire. Life is full of people who judge you as inferior if you engage in certain activities. But there is no dishonor in Solitaire. It can be a great time waster if you lose yourself in laziness, but it can also be used in positive ways.
  2. There’s more than one game. Hoyle has more than 50, and it is generally accepted that there are around 150 games, plus variations on those, bringing the total with variants to over 500. Life should never lock us into just one game.
  3. Never play an unwinnable Hand. Experience teaches us that many games as laid out are unwinnable. We can recognize these with a fair degree of accuracy, and filter them out. No point wasting time playing the game we know we will lose.
  4. Choosing not to play the layout means you forfeit. It counts as a loss. Most people filter that out in their calculation of how winnable a game is, so their perspective on the game is skewed.
  5. Don’t get too attached to the draw. When we invest the time in playing the game, sometimes we want to really make sure it is not winnable. With a computer game, we can undo, and then replay certain parts. Sometimes this leads to a win. But there is a point where we have to abandon an unproductive game, and go on to something worthwhile, because a game we cannot win, or even one we spend too much time winning, is no longer worthwhile. Maybe you COULD win after all. But at what cost?
  6. Most people cheat. When you ask someone who plays Solitaire with actual cards, how much they win, they report higher win rates than they experience on a computer game. It is so simple to shift a card, shuffle a deck, or reverse a draw pattern, giving us a chance to win simply by breaking the rules in some little way that we excuse for ourselves. We always discount this, and count the win anyway. We cheat more than we acknowledge. My own person observation and analysis shows this is fairly universal.
  7. Cheating skews your perspective regarding the odds of winning. This means you will recommend a game as winnable that YOU, PERSONALLY have to cheat, to win at the rate you credit yourself with. It does not make you GOOD at it, it just makes you INACCURATE at teaching about it.
  8. Playing a hand with physical cards is DIFFERENT than computer Solitaire. You can cheat more easily with cards. The computer generally stops that, but you are limited by the programmer’s interpretation of the rules (and some are implemented incorrectly), and you are given additional tools to aid in playing more easily.
  9. It is HARD to play a new game when you don’t have a copy of the rules. Ponder that.
  10. The best games are the ones that are less popular. The games we love most are not Klondike or Freecell.
  11. We enjoy Solitaire more when we have a variety of games. We rarely love it when we lock ourselves into a single game.
  12. The game that is easy to win is not always the best game. Those games that require more skill to win are the most fun for me. Those that are easy to win are what I go to when my brain is overloaded, and I just need to be able to do something right.
  13. The “Best” game is the game YOU think is best. It is never the one someone else likes best.
  14. Winning is never just chance, and never just skill. It is always BOTH. Even with an “easy” game.
  15. If we pay attention, SKILL develops over time, and a game we could not win, becomes winnable. This means we can LEARN to win some games. The skills we learn may be somewhat different from game to game.
  16. The rules of the game, and the way it is played results in a WIDE variation of winnability. Some games are simply easier to win than others, even when we have no skill. We learn to filter for those games we consider to be WORTH trying to win.
  17. Sometimes the Undo command allows a more realistic life experience, and sometimes a LESS realistic one, depending on what you are relating it to. Sometimes errors can be undone and corrected in life. Sometimes they cannot.
  18. With Computer Solitaire, you get either a single game in an application, or a bundle of games. Your perception of Solitaire on the computer is strongly affected by the software you choose. The Programmer becomes the origination of your Definition of Computer Solitaire. In life, our definitions of various activities and endeavors may be defined by OUR programmers – our parents, teachers in school, college professors, employers, government, etc.
  19. If we approach Solitaire with a track record in analytical problem solving, we will develop our own set of guidelines to improve the odds of winning. Things like looking for a hand with aces showing, or simple rules for ourselves about when we play the drawn card, and when we pass on it, depending on the objective of the game.
  20. The way the computer automates the game is NOT always the best way. You can’t always let the computer do it for you, sometimes you have to place the cards yourself in order to get them to go in correctly.
  21. According to one source, people who play multiple types of Solitaire learn critical thinking and analytical thinking better than those who do not. Those who play complex types score even higher.

So we do not intend to imply that all the world may be explained and rationalized through the lens of Solitaire.

But it does give one something to think about.

Grow a Garden!

Gardening doesn't have to be that hard! No matter where you live, no matter how difficult your circumstances, you CAN grow a successful garden.

Life from the Garden: Grow Your Own Food Anywhere Practical and low cost options for container gardening, sprouting, small yards, edible landscaping, winter gardening, shady yards, and help for people who are getting started too late. Plenty of tips to simplify, save on work and expense.