Monday, December 26, 2016

Upholstery $$$ 🎓 💪

Upholstery is the process of adding cushions and/or fabric to furniture.   It has advantages over simply putting a pillow on the chair in that it looks far better and the pillow doesn't move around.

The main pieces of machinery you need are a pneumatic staple gun - and someplace to use the thing as it is LOUD.   You may also need a sewing machine, some hand tools (industrial strength staple remover/crow bar, hammer - perhaps a button machine to make cloth covered buttons)

But all the skills are remarkably EASY to do.  Frankly, any teenager should be able to do it, if they put their mind to it.  It does take a while to do, is expensive, but as long as you are working with a small piece (chair, ottoman), it won't take much muscle.  If it weren't expensive to learn and do, everyone would do it.  Frankly, it's a great retirement income hobby job if you don't want to sit around doing nothing, and want to earn a little extra money.

And it has the advantage of many of my activities in that if you pick good materials, it will come out looking pretty darn good even if you personally are a beginner.

It is more female than male, and the crowd does not normally include teenagers (expensive).  Seniors can easily do it.

A common practice is to go to a flea market, pick up a chair with good bones (wood) and re-upholster the old chair with new padding and new fabric.  You can do the whole thing in a weekend or two if you have the right materials.

I took Upholster classes at the beloved 3rd Ward (passed away to due to severe mismanagement of their non-profit).

But the Furniture Joint in New York is still around and offers classes:

Monday, December 19, 2016

Downhill Skiing $$ 🎓🎓🎓 💪💪💪

Strap a pair of long, flat, edged, boards to your feet and head down hill!   Well, it's a bit more complicated than that.  You need some safety equipment (helmet), appropriate clothing, skis, boots, and a ticket to ride the lifts.  Unless you want to hike up the mountain, (takes a lot of time but saves a lot of money) - which is really a different sport (called "Telemark skiing", uses a different boot and binding).

Skiing is all about balance and ankle movements - move your balance to the left (tilting your feet/skis)  and you turn left.  Move your balance to the right, tilting your skis, and turn right.  Turn enough and you face up hill, which slows you down.  You also need to be above your skis, not sitting back for the best control.   The boots have to be fairly tight, as it is all about ankles.

But you get going fairly fast.  The world record is over 150 mph.  Most people won't go over 50 mph, and beginners usually stick to 10 mph.

Skiing is a rich man's sport, but you don't have to be rich to try it.  You can easily get a first time skier package that includes rental, lesson, and ski equipment for less than $75.  Most of these are state specific - i.e. to qualify for it you must live in the state that is offering it.   Moreover if you are from out of state, transportation and housing really drives the price up (unless you take a bus at 6 AM to be at the mountain by 9 AM, then bus home - but that's hard core).   For that reason I did not classify it as cheap.    For most people a ski trip costs more than $200 per day, involving transportation, hotel, equipment rental and a lift ticket.   But if you are not alone, you can split a lot of the costs, it's not per person.

It's very different if you live within 40 miles of a ski resort.  Then you can buy a season pass, buy your own skis, and sleep at home instead of a hotel.  Then it becomes a very affordable hobby, which explains why so many Olympic skiers come from locations that are famous for skiing - they have done it since grade school, even if they grew up poor.

Nor is skiing easy to do - expect to take lots of lessons (again, expensive), and it is definitely a work out, particularly if you go fast.   

It's split fairly evenly down the middle, with lots of men and women.  Kids are welcome, if you can afford it/live near by.  They take them as young as 3.   Many ski resorts offer discounts for older skiers and you see a solid mix of all ages.   But the age limit for the cheap skiing has gone up as skiing became more popular among the wealthy senior citizens.

I grew up skiing at Mt. Snow:

It's the closest of the really big ski mountains to Manhattan.  It's very crowded during winter weekends (particularly holidays), a lot less so during non-holidays weeks.

But if you live closer to a smaller mountain, consider checking them out.   Especially if you live within an hour of ski resort.  Some people move to be near a ski resort.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Stone Carving $$$ 🎓🎓 💪💪

Lots of people paint or draw - it's easy to pick up a pen/pencil and go for it.  Not many people sculpt - that takes a lot more effort, particularly with stone.  Clay and other mold-able stuff is easy - you can fix your mistakes.   Not so with stone, you cut a piece off, it's gone.

I took lessons in carving stone.  You pick a piece of stone that is slightly bigger in all dimensions than your piece - perhaps something that looks interesting.  Perhaps you make a drawing or two to help you think about what you want.  Then you start chiselling away until it's in the shape you desire.   There are several kinds of chisels - teethed ones that are easier, but leave a rougher surface and smooth ones that leave a smoother surface.  Once you have the right shape, any part that you want smooth requires a lot of sanding.  You start with a rough sandpaper.  Then sand again and again and AGAIN, each time with finer grit.  Finally you cover the thing with wax to shine it up.  Hopefully it will look good.

Note carving stone takes a LONG time.  Much quicker to draw or do some kind of casting (see life casting and metal casting).  It's not a quick afternoon hobby, but more like a month long project - at the minimum.

The main reason it is expensive is the time - even small projects take forever.   This is not easy, but not particularly hard - if you are going for an abstract look. If you want something that looks exactly like an existing object/face/body, then it will be a lot harder to do.  It can be a bit tiring, particularly when you are at the hammer and chisel phase.  But it's not really a work out.

Genderwise it is pretty neutral, the same goes for age.  Kids can do it fine.

I took lessons and bought my materials at "The Complete Sculptor":

Monday, December 5, 2016

Ski Biking $$ 🎓 💪💪

This one is a bit strange.  Take a bike.  Remove the pedals and the gears completely.  Replace the wheels with small skis. Take it to the top of a mountain and get on it.  Put two little skis to strap to your ski boots.  Now go down the mountain, gravity powered - just like nordic skiing.

Ski biking is easier than skiing or snow boarding.  You are sitting down, so you have greater control over your weight shifts (affecting turning) AND you have a steering front ski.  This is much easier than just using your ankles to control turns.

You can't (or rather I can't) do moguls (very bumpy terrain),  nor do you go as fast as regular skiing, but you have a lot more control and it is a lot easier to learn than snow skiing, and a little easier to learn than snow boarding.  It's also involves much less falling on your butt than snow boarding. 

You need to use a ski lift, (and bringing the ski bike on the lift takes some muscle)  so it's priced about the same as skiing - not cheap.   It's significantly less strenuous on the body than skiing, but as I said earlier, you will need some muscles to do it.  Some places let you rent it at the top of the mountain and bring the bike up for you.

More men than women do it, children can do it, and if you are older and can't ski, you might be able to ski bike.   If you are disabled (even missing limbs or partly paralyzed)  then ski biking will be a LOT easier than skiing or snow boarding.

I did it in Breckenridge, lots of places allow it.  Many rent bikes and/or offer lessons.  You can learn more about it (including which mountains allow/rent/teach) here: