About the Need for Ballast

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Walter, a good friend from college, linked to this essay in G+ and I thought I’d pass it along.  Sabina Nawaz and John P. Williamson wrote this short piece for the Harvard Business Review: Ballast: A Tool for Finding Work-Life Balance. They open with the story of the Vasa, the Swedish warship launched in 1628 only to sink a mile later. Even though Nawaz and Williamson use a lesson in boat-building to make their case, their essay has little to do with woodworking. It is about achieving and maintaining balance in the key values — intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual — that guide your work and life — the “four corners of your core.” Sound advice for any of us who juggle our jobs, families, hobbies… you know, life.

Check it out, especially if you always feel too busy to do all the things that are important to you. Thank you, Walter!

Very. Cool.

Matt Vanderlist, of Matt’s Basement Workshop sent this great tee and I thought this would be the best way to thank him. Matt’s one of a stellar group of bloggers out there writing about and recording their experiences with all aspects of woodworking: techniques, product reviews, interviews and so much more. (See list (partial) below right.) The world of woodworking owes them a lot. Being early adopter types, they test new things and methods and unabashedly report back about their trials and tribulations, victories and defeats, the agonies and ecstasies of life in the shop.

So, support your local blogger! If you enjoy what they offer and learn something in the process, there are ways to help them keep going. Some accept donations via PayPal, others sell merchandise like this very cool tee shirt that’s making me look So. Very. Cool. in the photo above.

Les Paul – Chasing Sound

Linda and I watched a wonderful documentary the other night about Les Paul, the Inventor’s Hall of Fame inventor of multi-track recording and the solid-body electric guitar. While I knew of those two contributions to music, I’m just barely too young (I don’t get to say that too often anymore) to know what hit makers he and his wife Mary Ford were with 16 top-ten hits between 1950 and 1954. Songs we all know like “Tennessee Waltz”, “Mockin’ Bird Hill” and “I’m Sitting on Top of the World”. They had five top-ten hits in nine months and sold six million records in 1951 alone.

This is a very entertaining film about one of the most influential musicians and guitars that has ever lived. Paul gives great interviews and the footage of his performance at the Iridium in NYC at the age of 90 is truly memorable. We got it as a DVD from Netflix. Highly recommended, five stars, all that and more. Check it out!

Great Videos from Early American Furnishings

Early American Furnishings has produced a series of videos that depict the history of logging and furniture crafts in early America. The first three are available on Highland Woodworking’s website and are a wonderful view of life and craft from long ago. There are two more to come. The videos also show Early American Furnishings’ methods of reclaiming lumber for their production, both salvage lumber from demolition sites and the “logging” of sinkers from watery graves. From their website’s profile page:

The mission of Early American Furnishings is to connect modern lives to our colonial heritage with handmade fine home furnishings crafted from reclaimed old growth lumber. Using a combination of technique, material, and communication of historic relevance, the American story of her great forest is brought into the home, where fingertips can touch the lightard of the Heart Pine, Wormy Chestnut, Quilted Cherry, Bird’s Eye Maple, or a millennium of growth rings from a Sinker Cypress.

Great videos with lots of historic info and drool-worthy images (drool-worthy for woodworkers, at least.) Definitely worth checking out.

Shameless Shill (nothing to do with woodworking or sharpening)

This is a shout out for my son, Sam’s, web comic The Historically Accurate Adventures of Jack and Voytek Sam is the writer; Xander Kent is the artist. Sam has taken two historic badasses, Jack Churchill and Voytek the Soldier Bear, and combined their exploits into a creatively un-historic story. With Xander’s brilliant art work, they’ve created a story arc that unfolds slowly and tantalizingly over, so far, 15 strips. I heartily suggest that you read the histories of these two remarkable characters then proceed to the first strip, Going Commando, reading in sequence from there. Not sequins, sequence. I’m enjoying Sam and Xander’s efforts immensely and I hope you will, too. If you like what you see and read, please help me spread the word. Thanks!