31 January 2013

Flag Counter

I accidentally ran across the Flag Counter in a college classmate's blog and clicked on it and, lo and behold, figured out how to add the Flag Counter to my own blog.

It will not only give me a count of visitors, but also the flags of their states or countries will be displayed on a representation of the Earth.

It's certainly colorful and hopefully useful and I'll await with bated breath to see new flags added.

College vs Vocational Training

I've thought about this many times over the decades, ever since going to college, myself, in fact.  I have in front of me an article on the subject with which, for the most part, I agree.

It's often tossed about that everyone has a right to go to college, but there are many who are simply unsuited for college or simply do not wish to go on to further formal education, possibly even dropping out of high school, rendering moot the possibility of attending college unless one first obtains a GED.  Some may have a learning disability, are anxious to begin making money or are simply bored with the learning process.  There are also those who do not feel that they can afford college, but, if they are otherwise suited for college in regard to their grades and temperament, there are many scholarships available, as well as student loans (as a last resort).

I've run into many people whose employment is vocational in nature.  Many are quite intelligent and some make more money than the typical college graduate.  They were unable or unwilling to go to college, but instead took the training involved in their chosen vocation and doing quite well.

The rising costs of going to college, far outpacing inflation and the cost of living, are becoming prohibitive for many and place a tremendous burden on parents and students alike, particularly when repaying any student loans begin soon after graduation.  What if they have not yet found employment and cannot yet pay back the loans? 

Vocational schools cost a great deal less and take far less time to complete, so that the students can begin their careers that much earlier and without the burden of repaying outrageous student loans.  There are, in fact, some scholarships geared toward vocational studies, as well.

All should quit trying to exert undue influence on those in high school to continue studies of any given type.  Let students decide in which direction their intelligence, grades, temperament and/or finances leads, whether it be college or vocational school, the military or none of the above.   Perhaps consult with and guide them a bit, but support them in whatever decision is made.

It's their lives and, should a mistaken choice be made, a change of direction is always possible at a later date.

22 January 2013

My Leather Works

About six years ago, I began doing some leatherworking as another hobby - besides my creations in wood - and will post some of them, here.  This first one is a leather Gambler's Hat or a Maverick Hat, the latter named after James Garner's TV show by the same name, I think; "Maverick," not "Maverick Hat."  I wear this quite often to keep the sun off of my face, not to mention that a lot of people compliment me on it, mostly women.  The hatband is braided leather with a silver-plated concho hiding the stiched ends.

 This next photo is of three leather Bottles, about half-scale in size.  I don't intend to use them to hold liquids so will probably not seal them.  To give you an idea of their size, the tiles underneath measure 11-1/2 inches square.
Next is a photo of two leather Bottles and a Flagon.  The two Bottles are shown above after being colored.  These items are sitting on a chair that dates to ca 1860.  It came to me in pieces, since the glue joints had all given way, and I had to assemble it, put a tung oil finish on it and reweave the cane seat.  I do not intend to sell it.  You cannot see the caning, since I keep a pad on it to protect it from my cats' claws.
Next are two Eyeglass Cases.  You can see that I installed a rigid, felt-covered, plastic insert from the cloth ForEyes cases to better protect the glasses. 
Following is a Jack, another drinking vessel, also about half or three-quarters size and not sealed.  When sealed and actually used, these were often quite dark in color and sometimes used as weapons in bar fights, centuries ago; hence, the term Blackjack.
I've made dozens of these leather Roses and given quite a few away to my college classmates' wives at our last reunion and the women at our dinner reunion of the past Broward County Audubon Board members.  As my chronic pain problem allows, I've been working on another project for this year's FIT reunion, both for my classmates and their wives or girl friends.
Next are small leather projects, a small pouch, a leather covered bottle and a pocket holster for a .25 Beretta.  The holster is designed such that the weapon is held upright and the hook snags on one's pocket as one removes the weapon and the holster stays in the pocket.
Here's another shot - so to speak - of the Pocket Holster.
Finally, for now, I made this Split Suede Leather Vest for myself.  Of all the items I've made - some of which are shown here - this vest is the only item I sewed with a sewing machine.  The others are hand-sewn with a saddle stitch.  I used a mystery braid and used Celtic snaps to make the closures.  In fact, before I lost weight again, I made three different lengths and I'm now down to the shortest closure (not shown).
I have other projects, both completed and in the works, which I'll Post here at a later time.  A few of them are for my FIT classmates and their wives or girl friends for our next reunion in November.
Here are some belt pouches which I have posted on in my leather "shop" entitled Arnolds Leather Goods.

Below are cases with plastic inserts to better protect one's eyeglasses or sunglasses.
This is a fancier belt pouch which I have just posted for sale on
From top to bottom are wrist bands now posted for sale on         1.  Stag and Mountain Lion motif, 2.  Five -strand Mystery Braided, 3.  Oak Leaf design.

There are other leather items I intend to offer for sale on, but I must have some on hand for immediate shipping before I do, although I will do custom variations as requested.