Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Layoffs, Valued Work and a New Model

Day after day we keep hearing about companies that need to reduce their costs in order to stay competitive. More people are getting laid off from their employers. At the same time, costs for services keep rising. The cost of health care continues to rise. If companies are reducing the labor in their workforce, I think we would expect the cost of services to go down too. This is not the case.

I would think that costs would be coming down for everything, including services. Instead service costs keep rising, taxpayers pay for subsidizing companies, and companies lay off workers to reduce costs. This does not make sense. There is no competition and responsibility for good management if bankrupt corporations can just be bailed out. The electronic digits that represent the national debt continue to have no affect on those who freely spend it for us without our consent. I have had no say in corporate bailouts, wars, stimulus plans, or healthcare reform.

Sometimes I think that the only sustainable occupation is to start a small farm and become a farmer. I mean small scale. I would grow my own organic food utilizing crop rotations each year. I would have a cow, chickens, bees and pigs in a small barn. Compost and manure would be used as fertilizer. I would have eggs, milk, cheese and vegetables where I knew the origin of each before I put in my mouth. Exercise is replaced by fulfilling manual work out in the sun. Healthy food would be my healthcare plan. I am good with my hands and can build and repair things. Off-grid energy can also be sustainable on a farm by growing energy crops. I know this would not be easy getting started. It would be better to live on an existing family farm for a few years to learn the ropes first. This is my plan if I get laid off. I don’t know what else would work in the current conditions of our country. I don’t know how our currency is maintaining any value at this point. Those who are self-sufficient and can provide value from their own labor and land will become the new currency.

I know I should be happy living the American dream. I am grateful that I live like a king compared to the major portion of the human race. I have a modest house but it is clean, dry and warm. I have clean water, hot water, computers, sanitation system, garbage removal, televisions, cars, woodworking equipment, books, refrigerator, health-dental-vision care. I should not have a care in the world.

However, this American dream is very stressful to live out. At any moment without notice, it can all be taken away. Each day brings more fear that this will all end because I know I am riding a wave that is unsustainable. I have no debt other than a small amount remaining on the house mortgage. We live well below our means. I wonder which is better, to live without fear and have nothing or to live with constant fear and have everything?

I don’t know who is benefitting from the cost reductions that layoffs supposedly bring. I no longer invest in the stock market. It is based on the game of chance and promises you that it will create value for you without any effort on your part. This is a big myth. It is a game that cannot be won. I read that layoffs are needed to please the customers and shareholders. Tell me, as a customer and a shareholder if you have been pleased lately with the millions of layoffs that have occurred this past year alone in order to reduce costs?

I think I am beginning to realize that everything does work in perfect order without my help. If this current model is unsustainable, it cannot be propped up no matter how many trillion pieces of federal reserve notes are printed out. I have been a participant in the current model and take responsibility for where we are now. I cannot blame anyone as it is no one’s fault. There is nothing to forgive. I can be glad because a new model must be about to arrive, because it is arising in my consciousness. If I can see it, the world sees it because the world is me. It will be good because that is what the Creator is. When thought changes, then the only thing to layoff is being afraid.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stitch and Glue Guideboat Project

This is my latest boatbuilding project. It is a stitch and glue Adirondack Guideboat and the plan was from John Gardiner. Stitch means the panels are held together with wires that are spaced every 12" or so. Then thickened epoxy is put in between the stitches to tack the boat seams together. The wires are then cut and pulled out. Then a thickened epoxy fillet is put down along the entire joint. 6 ounce fiberglass tape is put down over the epoxy and then the glass tape is epoxied. This is what is meant by "Stitch and Glue". It is messy but a fairly quick way to get a hull built. I really liked the design that John came up with based on Dwight Grant's "Ghost". I will be posting more on the progress of this boat in the next few months. I have always loved the guideboat design but hesistated to build one because of the time commitment (300+ hours) and >$1000 in material for a cedar strip version over laminated frames. One day I may do that but I can't now. This boat should take about 100 hours to build. I plan to launch it in April 2010.

This is a picture of my friend Steve, who has a kevlar Adirondack Guideboat made by Steve Kaulback. Steve is a fantastic rower with incredible strength and endurance. He leaves me in the dust in his boat while I tag along behind in my Natoma Skiff. He has let me try his boat a few times and I can really tell the difference in speed, tracking and glide compared to my homebuilt Natoma Skiff. It is by far the best boat I have ever rowed by far. It looks great too. Steve's kevlar boat is what gave me the idea to build John Gardiner's guideboat. Hopefully in 2010 I will be able to keep up with Steve a little better. Guideboat against guideboat, I will have no more excuses.

Student of the Month

Here is my son James getting a "Student of the Month" award in November 2009. The school awards students each month who exhibit a particular characteristic during the month. He won for "Respect". Congratulations James!

Transporting Thin Plywood on Roof Racks

Here is how I transported my precious Okoume marine plywood home after driving 96 miles each way to Harbor Sales in Maryland. I made a 4' x 8' frame out of 2" x 3" x 8' wood and put on top of Sears roof racks. I picked a bad day to do it. It was rainy and wind gusts were 30-40 mph. My transport carrier made it home thankfully. At times I was nervous due to the wind slapping noise of the plastic sheeting that was covering the plywood. The plastic took quite a beating but managed to keep most of the sheets dry. I used rachet straps to hold the plywood down. This was the only way I could have transported this thin material by car. Without this carrier, the thin plywood would have flapped around and probably would not have made it. After spending over $200, I wanted to make sure it was secure. This set up worked well and I would use again if needed. This wood is being used for my new stitch and glue guideboat project. More on that later.

Boatbuilding Plywood - Okoume

Here is a 3' square of Okoume plywood. It is a sample from 4' x 8' panels that I purchased at Harbor Sales in Maryland. I drove down to pick up 4 sheets. Each sheet was $50. I put this square to the boil and freeze test like I did with the cheap Meranti plywood from Home Depot. The okoume survived 3 cycles of boiling for 20 minutes, then freezing solid overnight. It remained perfectly flat with no signs of delamination. It would have survived more cycles too. I am glad that I decided to use it. It was more expensive, but well worth it.