Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Is that all there is?

Is that all there is? Peggy Lee asked the question over and over in a song that hinted at disappointment and despair. And I’ve recently heard it from the mouths of several of my grandkids. Christmas time is here and they tear excitedly into the wrapping paper and then stand with starry eyes like sharks in a feeding frenzy and ask, “Is that all there is? I want another present to open.”

Jeanne points out to me that the kids who say this all seem to be the same age, around four. So I’m figuring that until that age, kids are overwhelmed by Christmas and then at four they have begun to expect to be overwhelmed, but their brains have matured and they can handle more excitement and so Christmas time disappointment begins to set in. And it never goes away unless you get to the next level. Many people never get to that next level where it’s the giving and the doing for others that is the rush of the season. And so they find solace and comfort in the Peggy Lee song, “let’s break out the booze and have a ball, if that’s all there is.”

But when you begin to get a taste of the next level, you begin to experience a whole new dimension to Christmastime and to life in general. I think it’s called “joy”, you know that happiness that is real, not fleeting and it builds you, it doesn’t tear you down, like drinking or drug use does. Well, I’m wrong, it is fleeting, sometimes it’s just a momentary rush, like that brief flash that comes when the good occurs, you see the child smile, you ease the pain of another or you imagine that you’ve made a positive difference. Flash! You’re filled, if only briefly with that joy. And it’s good, the kind of feeling that mostly comes from mature and thoughtful effort.

The disappointment can still be there, alongside of the happiness, as a kind of legacy that we leave to our kids, left to us by our parents, the false traditions of our elders. Mature people fight against the disappointment and look for true joy. And that effort is worth it.

Sometimes, we as stained glass artists can be tempted to be discouraged, to wonder, “Is that all there is?” Maybe a show wasn’t as successful as we had hoped or a sale that we thought we had slips through our fingers and we’re left feeling a little down. This is when we need to take seriously the advice of Wallace D. Wattles, author of “The Science Of Getting Rich.”

“When you make a failure, it is because you have not asked for enough; keep on, and a larger thing than you were seeking will certainly come to you. Remember this.”
His advice to ignore the failure and avoid discouragement is sound and will lead us to positively reach greater happiness instead of wallowing in imagined misery.

The Peggy Lee song gives us good advice and bad. Breaking out the booze won’t rescue us from discouragement, but the advice to “keep on dancing” is sound. Just keep on, keeping on and you’ll find the success you seek around the next turn, or the next, or.....

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Pleasant Surprise

I get such bad service from people at different companies that I work with so frequently, that I often don’t ask for help.

For example: we recently bought a dozen soldering irons and the tips on them went bad quickly, one within 24 hours and most didn’t last a week. When I mentioned it to my distributor, my sales gal told me to send them back in so they could evaluate them. I had already thrown them out, I had taken a picture of all of them in a pile, but that wasn’t good enough. I didn’t lose any sleep over the incident, but it does illustrate my attitude towards products. I figure no one is going to support their inferior products and if I have to replace them for my clients, I’ll be the one eating the cost.

No big deal, I just don’t expect much and so I’m not disappointed.

Last year I bought an Inland Wizard grinder to replace an old grinder that had worn out. I chose it because it has a nice wide table and I thought it looked pretty professional. But the first time I went to move the grinder bit, the set screw was frozen. So I drilled it out and after much beating and pounding, I got the grinder bit off, but I had damaged the motor and the grinder was toast. I simply tossed it in the trash and ordered a new one, which I’m careful to keep lubricated properly to prevent a bit from freezing.

So when my new Twin Spin Grinder from Inland had a frozen set screw, I was careful. I first ordered a new grinder bit so that I could repair the grinder and keep it in service. Then I used caution in how I drilled out the grinder bit so that I wouldn’t put unnecessary strain on the shaft and the motor. But still, by the time I got the grinder head removed, the motor and shaft had a bad wobble. This time, I didn’t feel like tossing the grinder since I had that replacement head and I don’t think they go bad very often, so I took the grinder apart and found that it would be easy to replace the motor if I had one. My distributor didn’t carry them so I had to look on-line.

When I got to I found contact information and called customer service. What a surprise! They INSISTED on helping me. First, the fellow wanted me to send in my grinder so he could fix it. When I explained that it was taken apart and it would be easier to just buy a replacement motor, he insisted that I send the motor to him so he could replace it. Turns out that the grinder has a 5-year warranty. I couldn’t believe it. Makes me wish that I hadn’t thrown out that other grinder. Guess what brand of grinder I’m buying to replace that other one that’s over 20 years old?
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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Repair Stained Glass That Has Separated 12/07

Our studio repaired an arched window before and when the owner of the panel hung it up, she still didn't use all the rings that were designed to hold it, so we decided to add additional reinforcement to it after we got it back in place. Maybe that will keep it from coming apart.

The orange and yellow curved pieces of glass had separated from the purple glass.

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