Ready Or Not…
It’s almost here. 2021 looms.
With a little free time on holiday weekends, it’s useful to turn off most of the hype-crazy mainstream media. Instead, try doing a “personal performance audit.” Designed to answer key questions. Like?
- “Did I have a Plan this year?”
- In the unlikely event you did, “Did you get anywhere near a goal?”
- “Do I have a plan for 2021?”
- “What should be in my personal 2021 plan?”
If you doubt the value of plan, the old saying “Poor Planning Promotes Piss-Poor Performance” is worth remembering. Just “P” pee all over the place…
Frontier 1: Understand the World
There are only a couple of core concepts needed. First is “Close to Home Matters.” If an event happens with 100-feet of you, it matters more than anything 8,000 miles away.
Example: Dishwasher overflowed in the house Friday. Local, right? Meantime, Iran bomb scientist gets whacked 8,000 miles away. Which one had more impact on Ure’s life? (Only a cup of water escaped; a knife stuck down too far and jammed up the works… short adrenaline rush, though!)
The Personal SWOT: Short for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Piece of paper, divided into four sections. Where are you Strong? Weak? Threatened? See Opportunities?
Build a Personal Intelligence Platform: RSS is a great tool. So are Google News alerts. An hour of tinkering and you can put in things like all news about your company, your city, your commute, key vendors…all kinds of things to “put you in the know.” Goal? Good-bye blind-sided.
Example: If you work at Boeing, do you have RSS feeds on for anything mentioning Boeing? That might make sense, given the virus, air travel, sketchy future…. that kinda thing.
Write a Financial Goal for 2021: Anyone can make $1,000 more next year. Hell, inflation will do that automatically if you make $50,000 or more.
Key personal question is “What will YOU change in order to be WORTH MORE?”
If your present employer doesn’t see your value, others will. Be the best at what you do and the money follows.
BUT you need to demonstrate superior worth and value. The old “put wood on the fire, then light it” story. Not the other way around…
Secure Your Basic 6
Under all conceivable futures, you will be miles ahead of the herd if you constantly think in terms of:
- Water: Whether you want new water filter for home with a reverse osmosis system, or whether you pick up a couple of LifeStraws for the car (Amazon, $13 LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness) you never want to be unsure of where your next glass of water is coming from.
- Food: Same holds for calories. You should always be able to put your hands on a couple of weeks of food without difficulty. There are just too many threats (earthquakes, fires, civil disorder, lock-ins, tornadoes, hurricanes…) to live ignorantly.
- Alt. Housing: Do you have a choice of three or four “back-up” roofs you could sleep under? I know people who live in cars and have a gym membership for showers and workouts. Cheap! A private mailbox (PMB)? A tent works, family if you’re on terms and they’re close. Co-workers if not?
- Skill-Building: This gets back to the basic “To Make more, Be Worth More…” What’s the cheapest, fastest way to get the “paper” needed to warrant the income you’re after? In social services, the Masters is the money paper. In flying, the Air Transport Rating…and on it goes.
- Build a Side-Hustle: It’s always nice to pick up some change on the side. Unlimited opportunity for people with hustle! Everything from yard work, snow shoveling (in season, along with leaf blowing), house painting, interior painting, hook up as an apartment maintenance dude…the opportunities are endless.
- Pickup Trucks Rock: Have the habit of looking at the FREE section in Craigslist? Why, seems like there is always a way to flip a few bucks in there. Oilman2‘s tastes run to giveaway hot tubs converted to fish (and shrimp) farming ponds at his ranch. I like old furniture (wood) and pallets…but it’s all according to what your vision is for your own space.
Frontiers Always Change. Flexibility owns the future.
Frontier #2: Idle Hands
Humans are slowly withdrawing from the physical worlds into the notional “Space between Our Ears.”
Dangerous trend, that. We are still mostly physical beings. Sure, the music, the art, the gender marketing, blah, nblah, blah. But the satisfaction of being able to wrest something of value from raw materials out in the physical world is marvelous.
Value in software? Sure…uh-huh…some.
But value from a fresh T-bone steak on the grill, from garden-fresh organic food? Homemade wine? Is JB still making rum? You own beer?
Heft has value. Hype is weightless. Here, have a zero-ounce virtual dinner. See it?
“Idle hands is the Devil’s playground.” Or that pizzaria.
For about $100, you can become a “woodworker” if you set your mind to it.
Hammer, saw, electric impact drill. Toss in some hustle, Internet access, and maybe a can of paint or varnish. You’re in!
- Hammer, claw, 12-ounce or so. $10 bucks?
- Jigsaw: $25?
- Measuring tape and screwdrivers?
- Impact driver: (Consider GALAX PRO 20 V Lithium Ion 1/4″ Hex Cordless Impact Driver with LED Work Light, 6 Pieces Screwdriver Bits, Variable Speed (0-2800 RPM)- 1.3 Ah Battery which is a $37 Cyber Monday on Amazon)
- A few boxes of sheetrock screws and you’re can build stuff…
- Sandpaper??? OMG upscaling alreadr, are yah?
I have often joked with my son that these are really all the basics you need to build a house. No, it won’t be as pretty (or quick) as a high-dollar chop saw, contractor table saw, nail guns, big jobsite compressor…and let’s sub out a framing crew and a sheetrock gang… But when comes to tools, you want to get things done cheap? It can still be done.
About here, we’ll all hold hands as I say “Hi My name is George and I’m a tool slut…” And we’ll go around the room to give you a chance to confess your own tool and workshop addictions…
Best new tools this year: Small electric handsaws. Battery powered. And the corded 4-1/2″ circ saw which is great for cutting down big sheets of ply to sizes that get squared and trued on the table saw.
Reality wrecks life if you let it: At 71.85 years, single-handing a sheet of 3/4″ birch ply onto the table saw is a PITA. Buy tool, banish barrier.
3D Printing Skills
I loved being on Coast this week to talk about my newest time sink, skill expander. See my https://ultra-make.com site for more on this set of skills.
Again, Amazon’s got a ton of low-end 3D printers. You get what you pay for, but a Creality Ender 3 is a great entry point. $206 on Amazon for a basic Creality Ender 3 3D Printer Fully Open Source with Resume Printing All Metal Frame FDM DIY Printers 220x220x250mm.
But, if you want the higher-end version, toss $290 at the problem and walk away with a Official Creality Ender 3 V2 Upgraded 3D Printer with Silent Motherboard Meanwell Power Supply Carborundum Glass Platform and Resume Printing 220x220x250mm.
The main differences between printers are things like the “build bed” and the quality of the other components.
The main thing with 3D printing is to understand the workflow process. It’s not like hitting the print key on your PC – yet. Goes like this:
- You need a design:
- 3D database like Yeggi.com or Thingiverse.com
- Or make your own with a free TinkerCAD.com account
- Download the design to your computer.
- Designs need to be “sliced into layers.” Ultimaker.com is the hot ticket for this software. Cura 4.8 is the current build to choose.
- Sliced design is saved on a TIF or SD or MicroSD (varies).
- Machine is prepped (important, see manual for bed leveling and pre-heating).
- Print runs. This can be slow – 24-hours and longer for a big print.
It’s a flow – you will get used to it. Keep your plastic filaments away from cold and moist. I just had some botched prints overnight due to not feeding filament from the dryer and it’s been cool and wet here…
Metal Working Frontiers
The price of plasma cutters is coming down – a lot.
Check the $367 Cyber Monday Amazon price for a Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp Non-Touch Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter, Dual Voltage 110V/220V, 1/2 Inch Clean Cut, Brown.
I’ve been very happy with my Lotos (bought back there was chump change from a $500 bill, lol). Main tricks to a plasma cutter:
- Virtually all of the lower cost units need an external air compressor.
- The air needs to be dry – so an inline water and oil filter really help improve cut quality.
- Buy consumables ahead. The cutting parts wear quickly, especially if you spend too much time “contactless” lighting.
- Get your welding magnets out and use them to hold a 3-fooit piece of scrap angle which is a dandy all-purpose cutting guide. Unless you’re after an “arty” wandering cut.
- Best trick: Use the plasma to “pre-drill” holes in steel plate. Steel’s odd stuff: Bear to get the first (pilot hole) through. Easier to ream out. So the pin-prick hole from the plasma rig reduces steel drilling by 50% (or more).
Stick welder prices are cheap. But with good reason: It’s MUCH harder to run a good bead with a cheap stick welder than even a low-end wire-feed welder. My recommendation? Get a good wire feed welder. My stick beads still suck. (I refuse to get a rod oven…)
The other main metal working tools will be a 14″ cutoff saw (one that will handle abrasive and carbide blades). And a damn good 4-1/2″ grinder.
You can pick up most of this gear up cheap on Craigslist with a little patience. Not so much on plasma cutters, though. They’re fun!
Best sources of material for metal work around here? Used bed frames if you can find them – are WAY cheaper than fresh steel. And don’t under-estimate what can be done with leftover or recycled T-posts from fencing projects.
Off to work on the multitude of things here. WIP – work in progress – can move on Sundays as well as any other day…
Write when you get rich, or build something…