Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Writing Life: Working for Ebenezer

You do not want to work for clients who
are under the delusions they live in
London in the mid-1800s.
Advice:  DON'T DO IT

Here's my nomination for "Still-Believing-in-Slavery" Freelance Writing Client of the Day

Saw this post on eLance. I cut and pasted it without alteration. How medieval is this guy?

"Greetings. Are you willing to complete 500 word articles for $1.00 each (as many as you can handle per day)? I need writers to write (unique and non-plagiarized) up to 10 articles (500 words each) every day for 6 months. 10 x 500 words articles Bidders from native English speaking countries are in demand. The assigned writing tasks are time based, which will require to be sent one by one. Normal workload: One by one and to be delivered within 1-2.5hrs for 500 - 1000 words (if possible). Funding and pay only after acceptance (usually same day)."

He's probably figuring $12 an hour is pretty good wages for doing basically nothing while sitting around at your computer all day in your underwear. After all, he figures:
  • If you can type 100 words per minute that's one story every five minutes or 12 in an hour. 
  • If you can (if possible) do 1000 word stories, it only reduces you to $6 an hour unless you can type 200 words per minute. 
  • If you type back to back stories without a break at 100 wpm off the top of your head (with a little research if you can manage it), then you should be able to do 96 stories in a day for an 8 hour day (120) if you work 10 hour days..

In actual practice, you could probably do one original story in 1-2 hours if you push it, earning a magnificent 50 to 75 cents per hour or about $20 a week. At that rate over the six months this contract runs, I'd gradually become homeless and starve to death even at my current weight class.

AND THIS GUY LIVES IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I figured he was probably someone from Somalia or Nigeria.

What is he the White House's statistician or something - can't count worth a flip? Sheesh!

Anybody out there, who has ever written for a living, want to give him the correct answer to his question?

I guess he doesn't remember how much he used to whine when the teacher gave him essay tests back in junior high.

© 2015 by Tom King

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Making Tunable Tubular Wind Chimes

If you want to make a really personal gift for someone or create something special that will give your garden or porch your own personal flavor. Really pretty wind chimes can be really expensive to buy, but they can be really affordable to make yourself and it doesn't take a whole lot of special skills. If you can handle a drill, tie a knot or operate a saw, then this project should be a breeze!

You can build your chimes out of anything tubular. Even solid hardwood can make a lovely sound, like marimbas. You can also make your wind chimes out of tubular metal, bamboo or even plastic - virtually anything that makes a musical sound when struck by metal or wood. You can even tune your chimes to play the notes of your favorite tune - not necessarily in order, but enough that when the wind blows, you'll almost recognize the music. It's really quite fascinating to here the sound.

Tools You Need:
  • Drill and bits
  • Saber Saw, table saw, band saw, radial arm saw or any saw that can cut the material you are working with and wood. You'll need the right blades, of course.
  • Electronic keyboard (if you are tuning the chimes)
  • A roll heavy of 80 pound monofilament or multi-filament fishing line.
  • Tubing that sounds pretty when struck (metal, glass, wood, plastic, bamboo, etc.)
  • Nylon cord
  • Small boat hook for hanging the chimes
  • 1/2" hardwood board - enough to make a 6 to 8 inch disk.
  • Sander and sandpaper
  • Oil stain (wipe-on)
  • Varnish/polyurethane
  • Brush and paint thinner
  • 3/16 hardwood - 2-1/2 inches by 6 inches 
  • Five small eyelet screws
  • Medium sized hook

Step 1:
Mark off a six to eight inch circle on the half inch plywood. Cut the circle out with a saber saw or band saw.

Step 2:
Sand the edges of the disk, top and bottom rounding all the edges. If you have a router, you can do some fancy edgework.

Step 3:
Draw a 3-1/4 inch circle in the center of the half inch wood circle you just cut and cut it out leaving the circle a donut. Sand the edges round and smooth. Sand the 3-1/4 inch circle's edges smooth and drill a small hole in the center.

Step 4:
Drill a pair of 1/16th inch holes 3/4" apart halfway between the inner edge of the donut shaped disk and the outer edge. Space other pairs of holes so that there are a total of six pairs or holes, each 1/6th of the way around the disk from each other.

Step 5:
Cut the tubes. Stagger the lengths for visual effect or, if you are tuning them, cut each tube to whatever length gives you the note you want. You can do this by using an electronic keyboard or piano to sound the notes as you gradually cut down the chiming tubes. Cut the tube so that the note is a little lower than the note you are going for.

Step 6:
Next drill small holes large enough for the monofilament line to pass through the tube very near the top. Suspend the tube by running a foot of line through the holes so that the tube swings freely when struck. 

Step 7:
Then, gradually shave off the other end of the tube a bit at a time till the tube  sounds the note you want when struck. You can tune the tubes to a chord or to a six note sequence. I know a friend who tuned his notes to the opening of the Harry Potter theme. In a wind it plays variations on that theme and it's quite lovely. Set the keyboard to a chime that sounds close to the material used in the chime.

Step 8:
When finished making the chimes, tie the tubes through the pairs of holes in the O-ring and tie them off. Drill four small holes evenly spaced in the top of the donut and screw in four eyelet screws.

Step 9:
Run nylon cord from the top eyelets in the donut together about 8 to12 inches above the donut and tie them to the boathook. Now you can suspend the donut and the chimes and it will be easier to work with.

Step 10:
Tie a single cord to the boathook and let it run through the center of the donut down through the center of the chimes. Cut it off about a foot below the longest chime.

Step 11:
Drill a hole through the center of the 3-1/2" wooden disk large enough to accommodate the nylon cord. Thread the cord through the disk and tie a knot below it so that it hangs just above the bottom of the shortest chime so that the cord swings freely and the wooden disk striker swings equidistant between all of the chimes.

Step 12:
Drill a hole in the 2-1/2 by 6 inch 3/16 inch hardwood board near one narrow end. Attach the paddle about 6 or 8 inches below the sounder. This paddle will catch the wind and knock the sounder against the chimes when it catches the wind.

Step 13:
Stain and varnish all the wooden parts and hang your chime in a place where it can catch the wind. If you didn't get the chimes perfect they'll still sound good. If you did get them tuned right, the sound will be amazing.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Give Your Hound Dog Something to Celebrate on Thanksgiving.

Everybody should celebrate on Thanksgiving including your faithful hound. Here's a neat trick for giving your dog a happy Turkey Day and for getting rid of all those horrible bits and pieces of turkey and those giblets you never use.

First you need a Kitchen-Aid Mixer with the box of attachments. This is essential equipment for any kitchen and a lot of people have all they need for this project in a box shoved in the back of their cabinet that they never use. Drag it out. It looks like this:

Your attachment box may not be as torn up as my box, but it looks like this inside:

This link covers assembling and disassembling the grinder mechanism. Reverse it when your done to clean it out. It's all pretty simple to put together.

Step 1:  Assemble the grinder mechanism as shown in the pictures below. Once you've picked the bones of your turkey and put aside the meat you want to keep, gather up the scraps and bits and pieces, the skin and other edible parts your dog may enjoy. Remember it doesn't have to look tasty to you. It's going to be ground up and unrecognizable.

Step 2: Place a bowl under the grinder outlet to collect the ground turkey. Then just start feeding the
turkey scraps and giblets into the hopper. The corkscrew mechanism inside will force the meat forward past the chopping blades and out through the holes in the front. Just catch it as it comes out. Just make sure not to feed bones into the mechanism. It might simply grind up smaller bones and cartiladge for extra calcium. Your dog can eat it without harm. Might even do her some good.

Step 3: Finish grinding up all the meet and stuff, then take the grinder apart and clean it out good.

Step 4: Bag up the ground turkey in small sandwich sized bags or any size zippered freezer bag you've got.

Step 5: Freeze the bags of turkey. You might want to mark them for the dog, although it probably won't hurt you if you make turkey burgers out of it. It's likely you've eaten worse in turkey franks from the store.

Preparation:  Just take the bags out of the freezer and heat in the microwave for a minute or two. It's already cooked so you don't have to worry about cooking it. I mix it with dry dogfood and the dog loves it.

Note: If you have lots of turkey left, you can run the good bits through the grinder and make turkey burger out of it. Season it and stuff it into sausage casings you can buy at kitchen supply stores and you've got homemade sausages and weiners.

The beauty of doing this is how fast it clears off turkey leftovers and puts them into a convenient storable form that you don't have to worry about going bad or drying out on you. 

© 2014 by Tom King