Book Report: Make Necklaces by Jo Moody (1997)

This book not only covers not only making necklaces with beads, but also how to make beads from different things such as clay, fabric, and papier-mache. As part of a series, the book focuses on necklaces and the projects include traditional bead stringing coupled with some wire work.

Projects include:

  • Papier-Mache bead necklaces.
  • Flowering vine necklace made from clay-sculpted flowers and chain.
  • Marbled beads made from clay.
  • Faux Millefiori (Venetian glass beads) made from clay.
  • A necklace incorporating feathers.
  • A seed necklace.
  • A necklace made with hardware washers and leather thong.

Each project offers a couple of photographic variations on the main project. They really do spark your imagination; I really enjoy most the books that go astray from basic beading techniques.

I do have a couple of notes about the book, though, that are less laudatory:

  • Whatever font they chose for it has a little loop that connects the tops of st and ct whenever they appear (in words such as lost and impact, for example, the loop connects the last two letters). That was distracting.
  • Individual numbered steps in the projects include more than one action. As an occasional technical writer, I find that irksome. A single action gets its own step. Not
    1. Gather your materials. Mix the paste. Tear up some paper. Wrap the paper around a core bead and apply the paste.

    That’s not a single step.

Still, worth your time and trouble perusing it if you’re looking for some new ideas.

Books mentioned in this review:

That’s Not Funny

A congressman and his constituent were walking in the woods when they came upon a metaphorical bear representing the insatiable appetite of an unsustainable set out outlays and deficit spending extending decades into the future. The congressman sits down and starts putting on tennis shoes. “Hey, you cannot outrun a metaphorical bear,” the constituent says. The congressman replies, “I don’t have to outrun the metaphorical bear; I just have to outrun you.”

Update: Thanks to Tam for the link.

Just Apose

Iowa police seize really bad bogus bills

Weldon Spring passes fake pot ban; Foristell may be next

Not counterfeit pot, but rather K2, which has a sort of pot-like chemical in it. This is a sudden disaster, or at least it’s suddenly getting a lot of coverage in the press. Which makes it AN EMERGENCY:

The St. Charles County Council on Monday unanimously voted to ban K2 and other products containing synthetic cannabinoids, compounds that mimic the effects of marijuana.

The law immediately made it a misdemeanor to sell or possess the products throughout St. Charles County, including incorporated municipalities.

Enacted as an emergency measure affecting public health, the bill did not have to go through the typical process requiring at least two meetings for passage – one for a first reading and a second for the final vote.

Emergency is now defined down to anything the St. Charles County Council wants to act on quickly, in the heat of a media spotlight. Swell.

In A Stunning Turn Of Events, Tax Will Not Sunset As Predicted

A tax designed to pay for the Milwaukee baseball stadium will not sunset on schedule:

New financial projections released Tuesday suggest the sunset year for the Miller Park stadium sales tax will be between 2016 and 2018, at least two years later than originally thought.

For several years, the Miller Park stadium district had relied on projections that the 0.1% sales tax could be retired in 2014. But in recent months, the effects of the economic recession have taken their toll: Sales-tax receipts in the five counties where the tax is collected plummeted 9.45% from 2008 to 2009.

It’s always something.

Even In The Dark Ages, People Lived

This piece excerpts a book that echoes something I tell myself for solace:

Even on their own terms the politics and business of the world were absurdly evanescent. One week politicians, people who worked in the City, and people whose job it was to report their doings would all be kept out of their beds by a financial crisis which, six months later, would be little talked of. By that time perhaps there would be . . . a corruption scandal in local government, which would then be followed by a flurry of public concern over crimes of violence, which in its turn would be pushed out of people’s minds by their fury over some proposed new tax; and so it would go on. Each of these things would seem important for a time, then each would pass away and scarcely matter again except to historians. In fact, the truth is that most of them made little or no difference even to the daily lives of most of the population living through them. People immersed in this stream of ever-changing events were filling their minds with . . . ephemera and trivia, what people in electronics mean by “noise.” (254)

It is not as if were no alternatives. Time spent listening to great music, or seeing great plays, or thinking about issues of lasting importance, was not in this category. In those cases the object of one’s activities retained its interest and importance for the rest of one’s life. If I spent an evening listening to Mahler’s Third Symphony, that symphony was still going to matter to me in six months’ time, or ten years, or thirty: it was part of my life, for always. In fact such things more often than not increased in interest and value with the passage of time. If I spent two or three months saturating myself in, let us say, recordings of Mozart’s piano concertos, and then did not return to them like that for another four years or so, I would find when I came back to them that I engaged with them on a deeper level than before. And the same was true of most great art. . . .

There were times when I felt, after all, that I was living to the full in face of death. Many men of action who are also writers have described the bliss induced in them by the sound of bullets smacking past their ears, and said that it intensified their awareness of being alive to an intoxicating level. The things that came closest to doing this for me when I fully realized I was facing death were my love affairs and friendships, philosophy and the arts.

I’m pretty steeped in politics these days from the sidelines, and I get pretty agitated when I muse on the direction of the country and the inevitable and possibly in-our-lifetimes collapse of the Republic.

But spring is coming. The days are warmer, and when I spend time outside plotting and planting, I can hear the neighbors’ horses nickering, the cattle lowing, and the occasional punctuation of an ass. My children smile, I can wrap my arms around my wife (after washing up), and I can spend the evenings with a book and a glass of wine.

Throughout the sweep of history, people have lived their lives. History books tell of the ascents, descents, and failures of nation-states or city-states, but that narrative is only clear to the individual when read in a history book. One person’s influence, unless one becomes a ruler, is minimal. One should participate, but remember what is important to the individual person and to enjoy the joys of life more than one suffers from the disappointments and heartbreak of trying to turn the march of history.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

But For The Lack Of Budget

You know the implications of this, right? County transit ridership falls 9%:

Milwaukee County Transit System ridership plunged to a 35-year low last year as the bus system was battered by the recession, a fare increase and a pullout of Milwaukee Public Schools students.

This means that we could trim the budget and cut back since ridership is down. Ha, ha, WRONG!

The 9% ridership drop adds urgency to a push for new state legislation that would create an expanded regional transit authority and authorize a 0.5% sales tax to fund the bus system.

The day is sunny? The government must have more money. The day is rainy? The government must have more money. Ridership is up? The government must have more money. Ridership is down? The government must have more money.

AP Frames Story: Business vs. People

It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that business and people are on opposite sides since this AP story bakes it in:

To understand why jobs are so scarce, consider John McFarland and Nicole Rosen. The two share something in common: They’re reluctant to spend freely.

McFarland is CEO of Baldor Electric Co. in Fort Smith, Ark.; Rosen is a consumer in Washington state. Each is earning and saving money. Yet McFarland won’t hire until consumers spend more. And Rosen won’t spend more until jobs seem secure.

Therein lies the standoff that helps explain the weakness of the recovery and the depth of the jobs crisis. Each side — employers on one, consumers on the other — is waiting for the other to spend more. Until then, the recovery will likely feel shaky. And job openings will be few.

Well, then, there you have it.

What side is missing from this love triangle? Oh, yeah, and increasingly fickle government whose new Department of Weights and Measures exists to put thumbs on scales to determine the winners and losers.

Thought Experiments

So I’m reading this history of the Battle of Wilson’s Creek since that Civil War battle took place just a mile down the road from here (and participants probably marched on my property), and I’m struck by one thing about the campaigning:

They wore out their shoes a lot.

The book is filled with accounts of the men marching from Boonville or from Rolla to Springfield and wearing out their shoes so that many of the men were marching around barefoot.

By way of comparison, these are my shoes:

I've walked a mile in these shoes.

I bought those shoes three years or so ago at Sam’s Club for $20. Before I moved from Old Trees to the country, I used to walk around my municipality a lot. When I was pushing a stroller in the early stroller days, it was not uncommon for me to spend three or four hours (in several trips) walking around the neighborhoods. Suffice to say, I have walked in these shoes as much or more than any Iowan volunteer would have on his way to battle.

And look at them. Sure, some of the tread on the bottom is worn off, but the sole is still solid and there are no holes topside, although I’m sure I’ve had to replace the laces in that time. In three years.

So I got to thinking, what if I could take a small cartload of those shoes, could I have made myself rich supplying them to soldiers in 1861? Apparently, some of them had money with them to buy food and staples along the road, often at inflated prices. Could I have gotten $10 or $20 in 1860s money enough to be one of those walking-stick-and-top-hat guys in New York?

I wouldn’t want to change the balance of the war or anything. But how much would an army with good 2010 sneakers alter the course of the war? Instead of spending money and effort on acquiring shoes, the soldiers might have eaten better. Their marches would have been easier, allowing for more rested troops over the course of a campaign. Just by shoeing General Lyon’s troops, I might have overcome his dithering last days and shortened the Civil War considerably.

Well, it was a good get-rich-quick scheme while it lasted.

Book Report: Blood for a Dirty Dollar by Joe Millard (1975)

This is a small paperback from the same publisher as the Adam-12 books I read recently. It’s a book from the “Man with No Name” series tied into the Sergio Leone films starring Clint Eastwood. The book features an ensemble of characters and sort of plays up the camp of the series. The Man With No Name is the best shooter ever and always shoots four times to hit four bad guys as fast as he can. Unfortunately, as he has no name, the other characters call him Nameless, which is troublesome.

In it, the Man with No Name comes upon a town at the edge of a badlands. The badlands feature a group of bandits, of course. At the outskirts of the town, an Englishman has built a castle and staffed it with hired guns. An insurance salesman–or is he?–proves to be almost as good with a gun as the Man with No Name. Two scientists, one British and one American, have gone missing and are presumably held by the bandits who have not made ransom demands for some reason. The Man with No Name investigates and eventually has to storm the castle, of course, with his compatriots who also include the sheriff of the town and the cranky old editor of the local paper.

It’s not a bad book; pulpy and paperbacky, but not poorly written. In fact, the book has a number of similes that are plain awesome, like “shrieked like a banshee in labor.” That’s some shrieking.

Books mentioned in this review:

The Citizen or Consumer Always Pays

The Springfield-News Leader discovers that a recent government lawsuit against a private company will cost the consumers:

AT&T is charging Springfield landline customers a roughly $2-a-month fee in order to recoup a $7.45 million settlement with Springfield’s city government.

And Springfield is not alone. Customers from 270 other Missouri communities will also pay the fee for five years.

Surprised?

AT&T says city officials were aware the company would use a state law that allows the company to recoup the money and that officials or the public should not be surprised.

Who is surprised by this? A few guesses:

  • Journalists unfamiliar with the economics of doing business, where you raise prices–or in this case, use lawful line items on bills–to recoup additional costs.
  • People who don’t know any better and learn these things from journalists.
  • Skittish kittens who are taken aback by anything loud.

Keep that in mind whenever The Good Guys In The Government stick it to the robber barons who have to work for a living: the citizen or the consumer always pays, sometimes twice (once for the sticking it to, and once for being stuck it to).

Hoist It On Someone Else’s Petard

The city of Republic, Missouri, has acted on the hoisting menace:

Hunters in town won’t have to worry about doing something different with their kill next fall during deer season, as the Republic City Council amended and approved an ordinance for hoisting deer within the city limits during its regular meeting on Feb. 22.

If I can’t hang the carcass in the front yard, how would it serve as a warning to the other antlered rats to avoid my orchard?

The next thing you know, I won’t be allowed to put the heads of solicitors on poles at the end of my driveway.

On the other hand, good for Republic for trying to remain true to its small town origins. A lot of these towns falling into suburban orbits, where large tracts are broken into subdivisions, face a tension and an evolution between the new residents whose sensibilities are offended easily and the old residents who are used to having property rights. In these situations, the new residents often outnumber the old and push through new laws and whatnot. I understand both sides of the conundrum, but my personal preference would be to grandfather existing residents out of having to strictly abide by nuisance and sensibility laws and to have new residents practice a little tolerance.

Missouri State Government Gets Snotty

The Missouri state government gets snotty:

A move to take slugger Mark McGwire’s name off of a stretch of Interstate 70 is building momentum in the Missouri Legislature.

A bill renaming the St. Louis section of the highway for its original namesake, Missouri author Mark Twain, passed the Senate unanimously this week and appears to have a good chance in the House.

It’s just poor form to do this now that Mark McGwire is associated with the St. Louis Cardinals again instead of when the stories of his performance enhancing drug use surfaced. Maybe instead of wasting that money painting new signs for the renaming, the legislature should save the taxpayers’ money by just unnaming it and quit putting their stamp on the Interstate highways to suit their whims.

Advertising More Effective Than Policing

The City of St. Louis is tackling car break-ins by placing advertisements:

In an effort to reduce car burglaries and thefts, billboards and posters will carry the message across the city’s central corridor, coupled with concentrated police enforcement and proposed legislation aimed at stiffer penalties for first-time offenders.

The ads already proved successful in a test in the Police Department’s Third District, where car break-ins dropped by 40 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007. Soulard businesses plastered the posters throughout their establishments, said Bill Shelton of St. Louis-based Left Field Creative, which managed that campaign and is donating his help to broaden it.

Was it the ads or was it the concentrated police enforcement? It doesn’t matter. What does is that the advertisements are more effective at the most important thing: getting city officials invited to ad agency parties rife with hot 22-year-old creatives.

(Here’s a related sign from downtown St. Louis whose image I seem to have temporarily misplaced.)

Olympic Reflections

I agree with the overheated NBC commentators. Truly, I never will forget where I was when I saw on tape delay when that one guy, or maybe girl, overcame a tremendous obstacle in the personal life or maybe it was an injury to skate, ski, or otherwise compete against all odds and won a medal or maybe just won by competing and coming in 11th. It’s a moment etched into my short term memory until….

Hey, what’s the weather forecast for this week?