Lucas Weismann

Ch-ch-ch-changes

For those not in the know, recently I’ve gone through several changes.  Those that I’m openly discussing in public are the following:

I’ve moved

Currently, I’m no longer living in my home state, Minnesota.  You can find me in the environs of Bakersfield, California.  While I love my home state and many of my people there, including my good friend Dan over at DVG Framing (seriously, check out his framing and furniture, it’s amazing), Things were not altogether well and helping me to be the best Luke I could be for me and the people in my life.  As a result-

I’ve Changed Job

I am still working on wood in my spare time, as well as writing, but I am no longer focusing on them. My dad, Dexter and I traveled west to see the eclipse and photograph it with Minneapolis photographer John Anderson, who kindly made modifications for my dad’s Canon 800mm F/2.8 Lens.  We used it to photograph the eclipse and Dexter ran around like a madman taking pictures and taking an interest in the things he could do with the photographs.  After the eclipse, we parted ways and I continued on to my destination, whereupon I joined Noah Nethero and Jake Miller at 1st Light Energy, a solar company that services all of California.  My first afternoon in bakersfield, I stumbled into the Iron Arms Gym, met the owner Ryan and joined on the spot.  (If you are from Bakersfield, and want to lift at a gym focused on “the iron”- join and tell them Luke sent you).  Since then –

I’ve Started Lifting Again

I’m doing a better job of tracking my lifts and been going more regularly thanks to the fact that the Gym is a real gym and 10 minutes for my house. For $25/month I’m treated to loud music, guys who give me something to shoot for in size and strength, and the occasional shot or round robing Mortal Kombat session.  It’s like I designed a gym in a computer to meet my geek, bro and lifting needs.  At week two, my totals are still weak as a kitten (Bench 165, Squat 185, Deadlift 245), but after a nine year hiatus from serious lifting, I don’t deserve to be jumping back in.  But since I’m putting in effort at the all-around self improvement –

I’ve Started Eating Healthier

Myfitnesspal by UnderArmor has been a great help.  It allows me to track my calories, macros and what I’ve eaten.  It’s a bit tricky when eating at non-fast food or non-chain restaurants, but they usually have general guidelines to follow.  Additionally I can use it to track my weight, steps and exercise for the day.  This is has made everything WAY easier to track and a lot of fun.  I do miss habitRPG for the cute anime things, but for diet and fitness, this has been an excellent fit. The app inspired so –

I’ve Started using my Bullet Journal again

For those not in the know, bullet journaling is an offline way to make easily migrated tasks in any Journal-style notebook as well as notate events, cluster things into projects and set goals on a daily, monthly and yearly basis.  It is fantastic.  you can find out more information about it here.  There are SO many different ways to do this, it’s highly adaptable and for the craft-y people reading, yes, you can use all the colored inks, tapes and even pictures you want in order to make it shine.  For those more like me, that’s not necessary.

One of the modifications I’ve made is to use the habit tracker invented by Benjamin Franklin:

Though, I’ve inverted this by marking when I succeed at engaging in the habit I’m trying to develop.  At the end of the month, I tally the number of days I engaged in the habit, divide by the days of the month and look at the success rate.  Then the current month is compared with the previous to see where improvements can be made.  Rather than the ideals Franklin for which Franklin strove, I’ve started farther down the ladder of abstraction.  For now, I’m working on the following behaviors I’d like to make a part of my regular life.

• Completing all tasks I’ve assigned myself for the day

• Walking a minimum of 5,000 steps

• Meditate – this has been the hardest to think about so far.  tonight I just thought about some quotes from Jordan B. Peterson, probably one of the greatest professors of the modern era. Check out his Maps of Meaning series on youtube

• Shower – Hey, hygiene is important, and I wanted a habit I could cross off every morning first thing, like the bed-making suggestion from Admiral McRaven

• Staying Under my recommended Calories

• Read/Listen to non-fiction books and podcasts for at least 30 minutes per day.

• Write – This was the one I wanted most and have put the least consistency into up to this point.  Whoops!  Sorry folks.

• Knock Doors – This is a big part of my new job working with 1st Light Energy and my goal is to knock a few doors every day.

• Gym/Yoga – walking is not enough.  I’ve dedicated Mondays to Deadlift, Wednesday to Bench and Friday to Squat.  Somehow the off days just lack luster and so it’s on those days that I’m going to be filling in with Yoga, Dance, or other physical activities.

• Rosetta Stone – I have been gifted a license for Rosetta Stone German – Levels I-V and want to see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be.  So far, I’m noticing my comprehension go WAY up, but that’s starting from zero… we’ll see how it goes.  I’m really enjoying the difference between Der hund frisst and Er isst.

The next few are work metrics, not quite daily habits because some are out of my control.

• Appointment set – I’m requiring at least one appointment set per work day either from knocking doors or a networking type meeting.  On days when I’m knocking, my goal is for three appointments set.

• Referrals Received – I’m handing out a lot of referrals, and I’d like to track them.

• Deal Closed – Need appointments for these to close, but I’d like to get an idea of what kind of effort needs to be made in order to actually make a consistent living selling solar.

• Phone Calls Made – Did I call at least one person to follow up on some bit of business?

So far, that’s a lot of change from what I was doing to what I AM doing now. I’m excited to make this into a process rather than a goal.

New project. Picture frames.

When learning a craft, or setting a goal, it can be helpful to break down the process into several repeatable steps.  Practicing scales, arpeggios, chord changes and etc…  This is good, but it’s ultimately unsatisfying for the novice because it lacks the sense of achievement that you get from completing a project.  Say… learning a song.

This is one reason that in addition to the “hard work” portions of the process, many newcomers to the guitar will learn “Blackbird” by the Beatles.  This project will teach the student several skills- chord vocabulary, moving from position to position on the guitar, timing, among others.

As I make my way through down the path of becoming a woodworker (as an artist, not merely a hobbyist), I’ve been working to learn different steps.  Yes, I’ve practiced planing boards to create perfect paper-thin curls of wood, yes, I’ve milled up planks into boards of even thickness.  Here is my list and the order of projects I’ve added to my woodworking setlist.

Sanding and refinishing–  As a child, my grandfather took me and my cousin Rusty out to sand, refinish and black the metal parts of various tools his father left at the cabin.  It wasn’t very exciting at the beginning (we were hand sanding, no powertools needed), but by the end, we had restored some antiques and brought them to a beautiful working condition. *note: if you do this without asking, you may find you’ve reduced the value of someone’s antiques so please ask first if they’re not your own.

I definitely suggest taking something not too valuable, but well loved, sanding it and finishing it with some sort of beautiful finish like danish oil, tung oil or a wipe-on polyurethane (provided that’s appropriate to the intended use of the piece).

Monkey’s Fists–  While not strictly-speaking a woodworking project, my dad taught me to use a pocket knife to whittle a ball to use as a center around which to build the monkey’s fist. This taught me to think about oversizing the initial sculpt and then continuing to remove.  Learning to see what it will be when the not-ball portion is removed has helped in my ability to previsualize.round which

Presentation Boards– These are SO. MUCH. FUN. Not strictly-speaking cutting boards, the boards I make with my dad are made by jointing boards and then planing them to thickness before putting a bevel on the ends to match the feeling of the live edge.  After this point, the boards are sanded down to 220 grit and/or scraped with a furniture scraper before being finished with a food-safe oil coat.

Canoe Restoration– Once in awhile, you attack a project SO freaking out of your league that you have to get outside help.  Then, your outside help needs to get outside help.  This is basically what happened when my dad and I decided to restore our 1970s Tremblay canoe.  We did this with help from the generous guys over at the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum.  Jamie in particular helped us make up techniques and taught us things about respecting the wood that has come in handy in nearly every project I’ve done since 2013.

Scarf Joints
mortise and tenon joints
steaming wood
shaping wood with an angle grinder
bandsaw skills
basic planing and scraping
So much more…

Most recently, in the shop with Dan Gremillion I learned to make picture frames. This was a blast and it’s a perfect outgrowth from what I’ve learned making slab tables (basically large presentation boards).

To make this one sing, we take our plank, joint it, rip it and plane it.  Then when we have nice square stock (a surprising amount of woodworking is about making nice square stock and then making itNOT square….), we rip out a section, miter it and glue it up.

Afterward, we cut grooves in the corners with a table saw jig and glue pieces of either matching or contrasting (I usually like contrasting) wood to create a stronger joint than a simple mitered butt joint (gluing the angled edges together) would provide.

Then we take a VERY sharp chisel and pare away (yes, the same pare as a paring knife, it’s like shaving, but thicker) the excess.

As usual, our final steps involve sanding to an appropriate silky smoothness and finishing with something like Tung Oil, Boiled Linseed Oil, or something similar.

The really cool thing once you get to this point in woodworking you can make a lot of things you’d want to.  A chair, that’s presentation boards with legs stuck on.  A tray?  That’s a picture frame with an extra groove to hold a panel of wood instead of glass.  A box, that’s a tray with a lid.

A dresser?  That’s a complicated picture frame with legs on, that has trays that hold your stuff built in.  See where I’m going?

In addition to loving the time you spend doing your art- if you’re not having fun being bad at it, you probably won’t have fun being good at it- you are building up a repertoire of things you can do.  Little successes that will build up confidence so that when you want to take on a scary task, you can look at it, see what it’s made of and realize you’re made of what it takes to accomplish your task.

What “songs” or “projects” should a beginner use if they want to learn your art?  What things can make them feel successful as they learn the riffs of the craft?

Every Soul is for Sale

Did I ever tell you about the time I met the Devil on the road?  It’s true.  I did!  Well-dressed chap on the side of the road.  Small goatee, suspiciously cloven feet, faint smell of campfire… Anyway, I was tired so I sad down next to him.  “Ho, Old Scratch!” says I, to show him I’m on to him and not interested in any of his tricks.

He nods to me and moves aside to make room on the log on which he was sitting.  Well, not being ignorant I’m ready to make the sign of the cross or quote a scripture at him at the first sign of trouble.  But he just sits there, as if I’m nothing more than any other traveler.  Finally he looks at me and says, “Well?  Aren’t you going to introduce yourself?”

This has me at a loss, as it would you I’m sure.  That’s the one thing I couldn’t have expected him to say.  “You mean you don’t already know? I asked.

“What?  You famous?” He asked.

“No,” I said, “I just thought you knew these sorts of things.  In all the old stories you-“

“Bah, stories,” he dismissed them like he was waving away a bothersome fly.  “Stories are troublesome things, can’t trust ‘em.”

“Huh.”  I thought about all the stories I’d heard of an evening and realized that more often than not they were more than just exaggerated.

“Stories.  I suppose in the stories I’m out to get your soul and trick you out of it right?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Hmph.  That would be the ones that get around.  As if no one ever went though a time when they were a bit of a jerk.”

I had sympathy for him at that point, for I remembered a time when I myself had been the subject of scurrilous rumors.  Then I imagined what it must have been like these last 5000 years the priests tell us the world has been around.  I told him my name and asked him his.

“Lucifer,” he said, “Not that anyone asks any more.  They just call me Satan or Deceiver or any number of other insults and eventually my temper gets the better of me.”

“Must be awful,” I said.

He nodded.  “You’re the first person that hasn’t tried to ward me off with the sign of the cross or quoted scripture at me.”

“Yeah, that would be rude.”

“It’s always ‘begone deceiver’ this and ’get thee behind me that’.  I mean, if someone has a nice posterior or flattering jeans I don’t mind, but it gets so old.”

“Do you mind if I ask you a question?”  I asked.

“Go ahead,” he replied.

“What do you do with them?”

“What?”

“With the souls.  What do you do with them?  The ones people sell you I mean.”

He looked tired.  “You too?  What the hell would I do with souls?  I have no use for them.  Besides you can’t be separated from yours.  Not until death!  Can’t happen.”

“But what about…”

“Can’t happen.  That Faust thing is just a load of fiction.  Hell, I can’t even get back into Hell because I can’t find the keys.”

“Hell has keys?”

“Of course it does.  You think I want to go letting it open with all the murderers and demons and bad guys running around there?”

“Huh, I never thought of it that way.” I said

“Ugh and the smoke.  I can’t get it out of my clothes no matter how much I wash.”  I remembered my grandpa’s sweaters and how even after he quit smoking they always smelled like cigarettes.

“Sounds rough.”

“You don’t know the half of it.”

“So you don’t buy souls?”

“No.  Course not.  I was just sore at my dad for taking me off the angel choir to babysit a bunch of delinquent humans for all eternity.  You have no idea how terrible the company was for awhile.  Out of boredom I started trying to attract people I’d want to spend time with.  You ever wonder why there are so many musicians in Hell?”

“Because they sold you their soul?”

“No… because the music filled them to the point where there was nothing left.  No room for anything else.  They resonated with the divine music of the spheres and as reward, Dad sends them to me.  All the greats are there.  Even some of the really good gospel musicians.”

“Even the gospel ones?  How come?”

“Because they loved music more than they loved what their music was about.  Dad hates that.  He thinks everything has to be about him.  All the time.”

“That doesn’t seem fair.” I said.

“Of course it’s fair” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm, “Dad said it, so by definition it’s fair.”

“This is very illuminating.” I said.

He actually laughed at that point.  “Well it ought to be.” He said.

“What?” I asked.

“My name is lucifer.  Means morning star.  Or Light bringer.  Illuminating.  Get it?”

“Oh!” I said, comprehension dawning.

“That’s actually my job.”

“It is?” I asked.

“Yep,” he said.

“My job is to show people the light.  Teach them things.  Things they might miss otherwise.”

“What about all the punishments in hell?”

“Teaching too.  Dad was really old-school about it.  Wanted fire and brimstone.  I asked, ‘why not have some rehabilitation classes and reincarnate until they get it right?’ He just said it wouldn’t work and that it was better to start with something pure and clean.”

“His ways are mysterious” I said.

“He’s impatient and hates admitting improvements could be made.  That’s why he tried to keep a lid on evolution for so long. Everyone brings up the bad stuff, but I ask, what about the good stuff?”

“Good stuff?”

“Yeah!  Good stuff.  Like giving Eve the apple.”

“Good?  That got them kicked out of paradise.”s

“Nah, they knew what would happen.  I told them.”

“Yeah, but how could they know what it would be like?  I mean, he said ‘don’t eat’ and I said, hey.  You eat this, you’ll know right from wrong and be able to make your own decisions.  I helped them to find free will.”

“But we have to work now.” I countered.

“Instead of what?  Being two birds in gilded cages, they became to adults.  Free and able to choose your destiny and do more than just sit in a garden eating and lounging about?”

“Okay,” I said, “What about Job?”

“What about him?”

“What about the fact that you tortured that poor man.”

“Hey I get it.  I say in passing that he wouldn’t be so loyal if he wasn’t being protected from harm.  Right?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s not what I said.  What I said was, Job probably wouldn’t be so cheery if you treated him like you treat me.  I was griping and next thing you know God is ordering me to kill Job’s wife.”

“Really?”

“Really.  Look none of that really matters, you know?  All that matters is this.  Every soul is for sale.  You will sell it.  But not to me.”

“What?” I asked.  “Who wants to buy then?”

“You do.  You buy it with every action of every day.  It’s the energy you have to spend becoming who you are.  The only question you have to ask is this?  Would you rather sell your soul at a high price to get something you want, or sell it at a low price to get something you don’t want?”

I thought about this for a minute.  “Are you talking about not wasting my time?”

“Well, no time is wasted really- otherwise you’d have some left over at the end.  I’m talking about spending time on something worth the value of your soul.”

“You mean like practicing an instrument to become a musician?”

“Right, but it’s only compared with the relative cost of another way to spend time that the value can be measured.

“So, watching television for 30 minutes compared with practicing an instrument.”

“Exactly.  It’s like buying something with cash versus buying it with-“

“Credit.  Oh I see.  So, you’re saying I should only spend time on things that will get me what I want?”

“No, no, no.  You’ll have to spend time on other things too, after all you need to eat.  But that extra time.  The time you have to find your passions.  That’s the time that usually gets sucked up with trashy novels, re listening to crappy pop music you have memorized and tv-reruns you’ve seen a thousand times.  All of that is low effort, instant-low calorie return.  Just bad economics.”

“You know prince of darkness as guidance counsellor isn’t what I expected.”

“You and me both,” he said with a sigh.  “You have a lot more opportunity than I did.  You can literally go to the moon if you put in the effort and sell your soul to physics.  Me?  I had to choose between Prince of Darkness, lord of hell and tempter of souls, or leader of the angel choir”  at this, he folded his hands mockingly.  “Trust me, with all its problems, this world is still better than it ever has been and you have more choice than ever.”

“Well, Mr. Morningstar, this has been enlightening.  Thank you for lighting my path and giving me a rest.” I said.

“Of course.”

“I feel like I could go out and take over the world!” I said with enthusiasm.

“You can if that’s what you want to sell your soul for,” he said with a wink.  “Just promise me you won’t sell it at a price less than it’s worth.”  And he extended his hand.

“It’s a deal.” I said and shook his hand in good humor.  Then, I walked down the road feeling strangely lighter than I had before heading off to make my mark on the world.

(To hear what happened when I ran into the prince of darkness at a later date, click here)

On certain regional pronunciations

     “I don’t give a good God Damn about what you think.”  The fat man was livid and actually slapped the table as he shouted, his walrus moustache bristled, “If you had enough volunteers you wouldn’t have kids calling the matches for wrestlers in their own age group.”

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Benji the Wrestler

As a young child I had a lot of problems dealing with bullies and rumors and kids at school.  That’s not a revelation unique to myself, I realize.  Most people have.  But I was lucky in one major respect.  That is that my dad had a technique for helping me to cope with these situations, while at the same time instilling a love of wrestling for me.

Enter:  Benji the Wrestler.

Benji was a kid who wrestled.  He was a lot like me.  He was so much like me that it seemed a strange and amazing coincidence every time I heard a story about him.  (Okay, I’m gonna level with you- he was me.)

Every time I seemed to be going through something tough- a bully trying to beat me up, or turn my friends against me for whatever reasons motivate people to be awful to each other, there would be my dad.  He’d come to my room at bedtime and tell me a story.

The story had three main parts:

1) the problem (the bullies, the “mean” teacher, whatever it was that was making my life hard to deal with as a kid),

2) the “Problem-solving part” This almost always came in the form of my dad asking me something like “Sounds pretty tough Luke, what do you think Benji should do here?” afterward we’d workshop any solutions, no matter how sensible or senseless or emotive and he’d treat me with understanding.  He also never talked down to me as a kid and I really appreciated that.  Heck, I still appreciate it.

3) The action sequence.  This was super important!

A) it served to give me time to absorb what we’d talked about, all while preventing the stories from becoming lectures or preachy.

B) it indoctrinated me into loving the sport and associating a difficult pastime with positive memories

C) It showed that even a kid with problems at school could (with hard word and determination), be the hero.  It would be a challenge, sure, but since Benji never gave up, no one could really beat him.  (Even if he lost a match, he wasn’t truly defeated so long as he maintained a good attitude).

I miss those stories.  In retrospect, I miss how these insurmountable problems could be faced and I could take the time with someone who cares about me to work through options together rather than having to face them alone. I miss the reminders of how you can work around any problem if you find the right solution rather than just reaction to it.  Not surprisingly, I also miss wrestling.

 

A test.

I’ve been tested.  Immediately.  I’ve been up for 22.5 hours now, and drove across the midwest from Stillwater, Minnesota to Westminster, Colorado.  I enjoyed the ride (except for the part where I was in a construction zone I could’ve bypassed and had to go to the bathroom).

The whole way, I listened to Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and resolved to attempt classical stoicism for my dealings with people.

Upon reaching my house in Denver, I parked the truck and trailer in front of the crotchety old woman’s house across the street, ferried my things from the truck to the house and unlocked the door.

The smell that reached my nose was hard to place at first.  Then it hit me.  I mean it really hit me.  Waves of garlic, stale sweat, unwashed dog and cumin wafted in.  Then I detected a hint of marijuana.  None of these things are smells that a sleep-deprived Luke wants to run into after being away from home for a year.

I had been expecting someone there.  My dad mentioned that he had a scuba friend who would help out and wondered if I minded if she and a girlfriend stayed there.  I said of course not.

When I arrived, I found there was a tiny mowgli-aged girl child sleeping on the couch.

No problem!  I’ll just go downstairs to my nice bed, with the clean sheets.

Nearing the door, I heard a dog growling and then it hit me.  For the first time, I could totally empathize with Papa Bear.

“Somebody’s been smoking pot in my kitchen.”

“Somebody’s been stenching up my house.”

“Somebody’s been sleeping in my bed!  And there they are?!?”

So far, the count is not two women.  It’s a woman, her boyfriend, their daughter (I hope), their dog, and possibly the other woman.

I reclaimed the futon mattress from the top of my bed and a pillow and hunkered down in a free room.

I’m not sure if it’s the delirium talking, but I’m pretty sure I’ve decided to find this funny.  Though, I’m a bit worried that protocol might demand I eat them all up.

PS.  I even found cold porridge left out on the table in the kitchen.

Writing prompt 1 – A Long Hallway

“I don’t think it took this long when I got here” I thought.  The distance from the beige room to the beige hallway that leads to the nurse’s station had gotten interminably long since I woke up.

I’m sure in in retrospect, that the distance was no greater; but hopped up on morphine to help with the pain in my side made it seem so far away.  Each step required a ridiculous effort.

My reward for the effort I expended was a look.  No, better make it a LOOK from the nurse on duty.  She had probably been beautiful once, someone who cared about her charges and really wanted to help make people better.

Now, even through the morphine, it’s clear that too many long nights, with too much paperwork, too many whiny patients and overbearing doctors had ruined what was probably once a kind person with a loving, passionate nature.

She arched her eyes at me, “Yes Mr. Greene?”

“I’m sorry ma’am, could I have some water?”

“You had water a half hour ago, why didn’t you use the call button?”

“I did ma’am.  It’s just that, no one answered.”

“We’re busy” she said, in the face of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  “You’ll get water when we have time.”  She picked up her emery board and resumed filing her already perfect nails.

“You’re right, I will.” I muttered and headed toward the exit.  Each step was harder than the last and lead closer and closer to that sweet cool taste of refreshing…

Hands gripped me and helped me into a wheel chair.  James, an orderly, handed me a cool glass of water and whispered an apology.

As I rode back, I wished that I could have made the escape dramatically, but realized my slow motion hobble wouldn’t rate as heroic anywhere but inside my own head.

James helped me into bed, my temporary protector from the withering stares of petty tyrants and the warm blackness of sleep rose up to embrace me.

 

An Open Letter.

Dear Non-religious people,

Realize that religious people accept certain sources as credible above all reason. Literally. Therefore, if engaging with them, please seek to understand their point of view and be educated, using their own religious material to prove your point.

Otherwise, they’ll just use “but my holy book says…” and you’re nowhere.

——

Dear religious people,

non-religious people don’t see your holy books and divine inspiration, so just like when witnessing to someone of a different faith, find common ground that doesn’t rely on “First you must believe in my religion.”

Otherwise, they will rightly point out that your evidence doesn’t make sense, because they’re not agreed-upon premises and so- don’t fit into a productive discussion.

—-

Dear everyone

If you want to make progress in a discussion, you must first understand the person whom you are trying to persuade of your point of view. Otherwise, you don’t have a good starting point and will end up frustrated.

If you haven’t already, I recommend reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. These techniques are ESPECIALLY important when discussing the BIG issues that matter to you.

Sincerely,

One slightly weird dude, who’s been thinking too much lately.

Why Are You Holding Back?

A question from George Balanchine was shared with me on Facebook:

Why Are You Holding Back?

Fear and Laziness generally… Most of the time I find myself holding back, it’s either eventually found to be fear or laziness.

Overcoming the inertia of fear makes me feel powerful in a way nothing else can.

Overcoming the inertia of laziness makes you feel useful, like you’re doing something worthwhile.

Find your inner catalyst and go out there and be yourself. Bigger and badder and better than you ever have before. Let it fill you and radiate into your surroundings and you might even inspire others to do the same.

That’s where small victories turn into big ones.  It’s where Life gets exciting!

Feeling Posh

That’s the word right?  Posh.

Anyway, for some reason I’m being rewarded for procrastination.  Or maybe for remaining flexible.

Yes, saying I’m remaining flexible feels better than admitting it was mostly procrastination.

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