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Scale Modeling Tips & Tools Monthly, Issue #025-- "View From My Seventh Decade"
January 15, 2009
January 15, 2009

70+9 Days Still Not Old Enough

I’ve only been 70 for nine days, but I’m already convinced it is not time to slow down and relax. If anything, I have more interests and new projects to start than at any time in my life.

Whether we are talking about scale modeling projects, generating income, life saving events or simply getting along better with other residents of this planet, I have changed.

Granted it hasn’t all been in the last nine days, but like Jack Nicholson said on turning 70 last year, “It improves your character. You’re more thoughtful because you don’t act as quickly anymore”.

Travel is one activity I have come to savor, in particular the tours directed by my Pastor for the entire 70-member church family. There is something about working together to raise a quarter million for what many would describe as a once in a lifetime vacation (we do it every two years) and planning the trip.

We are an enthusiastic, active and interesting group walking in God’s light. We are certainly not old, although we are a little wiser than when we began this life 20 to 30 years ago.

I like Jack; I have come to think like him in a number of ways. One of my favorite lines from “As Good As I Gets” was, “My doctor, a shrink that I used to go to all the time, he says that in fifty or sixty percent of the cases, a pill really helps. I *hate* pills, very dangerous thing, pills,” said his character, Melvin Udall played by Nicholson.

So what does slipping past the seventh decade mean to me? Not surprisingly, it hasn’t meant getting off the income grindstone; instead it has meant finding ways to make the transition from full time employment to gainful part time employment.

Gainful Money Making 101

About seven months ago I stumbled onto working as an independent contractor doing mystery shopping. Once I realized this was work I could do on my schedule, maintain people contact and learn something new with every assignment; there was no holding me back.

Even when experiencing walking disabilities that require use of a cane just to walk across the room, I have found mystery shopping to be a form of work that consumes interest and earns an income that exceeds half my monthly Social Security payment.

Advantages of Being In The 70-Plus Club

When you reach this stage in your life you are looking for more positives than negatives, even if you have to exaggerate to make it real.

1. Kidnappers are not very interested in you.

2. In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.

3. No one expects you to run--anywhere.

4. People call at 9 pm and ask, " Did I wake you ???? "

5. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.

6. There is nothing left to learn the hard way.

7. Things you buy now won't wear out.

8. You can eat dinner at 4 pm.

9. You can live without sex but not your glasses.

10. You get into heated arguments about pension plans.

11. You no longer think of speed limits as challenge.

12. You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.

13. You sing along with elevator music.

14. Your eyes won't get much worse.

15. Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

16. Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.

17. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.

18. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to manageable size.

19.You can't remember who sent you this list

And you notice these are all in Big Print for your convenience.

New Model Railroading Digital Magazine
You Need To Put It On Your 'Must Read List'

Take to the siding Model Railroader Magazine, stop at the next crossing Railroad Model Craftsman and clear the track N Scale Railroading, the highball goes to the newest magazine, the electronic Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine which posted its first issue this week.

This free quarterly magazine devotes 122 pages to model railroading (77 megabytes) and even with a cable modem that translates two minutes of download time.

But the value far exceeds the price. For instance, in the 122 pages there are 168 photographs or illustrations including layouts and scenery.

It is evident a lot of work went into this publication, here is the Table of Contents:

The story behind the Bear Creek & South Jackson

N-Scale Decoder Installations

How Sharp is too Sharp

Modeling The Steel Business

Track Planning on a Computer using 3rd Planit

Publisher’s Editorial It Moves!

The Lite and Narrow The Narrow Gage Rage

Up The Creek: Serendipity

Getting Real: Different Things to Different Folks

Comme-N-Tary: The Quest for Fine Scale Track

Parallel Lines: Examining S Curves

The New Media: New Ways to Enjoy the Hobby

Reverse Running: Chainsaw Railroads

You can download your own copy at:

Model Railroad Hobbyist

Tips and Techniques

Learning It The Hard Way

It takes a sharp blade to make accurate, quality cuts when working with paper stock. The best blade for the job is the Snap Blade knife. You won't find one easier to keep razor sharp (just clip off the tip). You can open it with one hand, they are light and you won't find a cheaper knife. They normally sell for about a dollar, I found a three-pack in a Dollar Store for a buck.

The cheaper the better.

You don't want rugged metal ones, like those offered by the big box stores; they are bigger, heavier, costlier and no better. What you want is a cheap all-plastic made-in-China throw-away that should cost no more than a buck.

Raid Your Own Trash

One of my household chores is taking out the trash every other day and I have found these bags to be an inexhaustible supply of modeling pieces parts.

It seems we are locked into a pattern of throwing away plastic food containers two or three times a week. I am getting in the habit of snagging those that will serve a higher purpose.. I like the hard plastic (black bottom, clear top) and use them for several modeling purposes:

• Corralling parts for a kit bashing project I am working on so they are in one place.
• They serve as a palette for glues and blobs of paint. .
• For RC racers they are handy in your pit kit to store tires, small hand tools, replacement parts, wires, batteries Xacto knives, extra screws and zip ties.
• Such plastic boxes, often stackable, lend themselves well to storing and cataloging model railroad rolling stock. .
• They are handy for storing the myriad of detail parts in an organized fashion in place of the all-to-common junk drawer. .
• They are durable (just ask your average dump manager) and are easy to replace.

When Using Modeling Forums...

Do you Attach or Embed?

Even scale modelers can get bogged down in minutiae and in a lot of cases, miss the forest for the trees.

For instance, many of us are active participants in Yahoo Groups where we share information on the techniques involved in modeling. Photos can enhance this by a thousand per cent (one photo is worth a 1,000 words) and here is where the small stuff comes in: to attach or to embed?

Either technique will work fine for sending photos in emails.

The important element in photo care is to resize it to less than 1000 pixels in width (the height will take care of itself). This will take advantage of the screen size offered by most email clients.

I prefer to embed the picture(s) in the email as the photo is right there without involving activation of a graphics program to view them. I do usually reduce the file size to keep it within decency bounds.

Two things affect the load time of your photos, the actual cropped photo size (measured in pixels) and the photo’s compressed file size, The amount of memory it uses (measured in kilobytes).

I use a graphic arts program, Corel Paint Shop Pro to manipulate images. There are also several free tools for this purpose like Irfanview, Easy Resize, Resizer or Shrinkpic.

Manipulating image size is a simple, three step process:

Step 1. Save the photo to a location where you can find it.
Step 2. Open in your graphics program and use the cropping tool to resize, Under 1000 pixels for email, under 500 pixels for web page, and save as a .jpg
Step 3. Open the program you use for compressing photos and reduce file size to under 100k. I save the result with an extension .jpg-o for optimized.

Using this process with your photos will make sharing your work much more gratifying.

Until Next Month...

Make It Your Best Effort!

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