Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Odd Tangents

Tangents are lines that touch a circle or an ellipse at one point. In three dimensional geometry a tangent plane intersects a sphere at one point. You can find more than you ever wanted to know about 2 dimensional geometry tangents at Wikipedia.

A Tangent in conversation is a diversion that might intersect the ongoing conversation at one point and be totally irrelevant to the whole rest of the context that is taking place among friends.

That's the way my mind works.

Actually, my mind works three tangents away. Imagine a circle that represents a conversation. My mind works off the tangents of this conversation and constructs another conversation that I may have had with other people at another time, or which may just be in my head. From that second (non-current) conversation my mind takes tangents to a third hypothetical conversation's context and extrapolates a tangent from that.

What this means is that I say some really stupid stuff during conversations that, to any reasonable person, seem totally out of context.

But there are a few people I've met who can follow each of these tangents in their own minds. And if the pick-up is quick enough, the two of us have a nice laugh while the rest look at us as if we're from Mars.

So, here are my tangents this evening.

The first tangent is for a man named Kim.

Take a look at this website. This is what I hope to do before next October. But I still need to tool up for the job. I won't do the fancy stuff, because I'm incapable. But just making the tomahawk heads should be straightforward. I did quite a bit of anvil work when I was in high-school. My parents' home and barn has enough scars in the posts from the swords I made back then. (Sorry, Mom and Dad).

The second tangent has to do with my many years of competition and teaching martial arts. Somebody has put together a website with some wonderful information to demythologize martial arts. The nice thing is that they don't just pick on eastern martial arts. Everything is fair game. Mary found this site when she was looking for information on handgun stances.

The third tangent is that I'd like to recommend to you my friend, Bruce Gee's blog. When Mary and I lived in Madison, WI, during my graduate courses in Hebrew and Semitic Studies, we attended Grace Ev. Lutheran Church. Jesse Jacobsen (author of The Plucked Chicken) was our pastor. (Jesse is now pastor in Oregon at Bethany Lutheran in The Dalles, and Concordia Lutheran, Hood River Bruce and his family were also members there at that time. Bruce has a wonderful family and a keen mind. His mental fomentations are well worth reading. Even if you don't know him or his family, his reports are always entertaining. And when he writes on theology he is one of the most eloquent writers I've had the privilege to read. He calls his blog "Pagans and Lutherans." The title reflects his own experience in coming to faith.

The fourth tangent has to do with a vain personal wish. I have been practicing Iaido with a wooden bokken for several years. I've often desired to buy a real katana. But I've not done so because, unlike a handgun, you can't remove the firing pin or put a gun lock on a sword. I've read about experienced swordsmen who have severely cut themselves by accident. And, heck, a real, folded steel, genuine, made the traditional way, katana costs $$.$$$. But maybe I could make one? And so this blacksmith website has a good bit of tonic to keep me in check.

And then, there is the fifth tangent, self-reliance. Homesteading and survival, living off the land, being a pioneer, no dependence on anyone, being "off the grid" has a strong appeal to me. I read a lot of fiction like "My Side of the Mountain" when I was a kid. So I get beans and some supplies from farmers in the area. Problems? I like my computer and the net--I rely upon these tools for a great deal of my work; though, really, I can do it without them. For my work I need my car and gasoline. This implies a heavy reliance upon world economics. The nearest grocery store is 13 and half miles away. Gardens, when depended upon for survival, require more space and more time than our family is able to deal with. Our winter heat depends upon natural gas and a working electric grid. Our kitchen is entirely dependent upon the electrical grid. The meaning? I'm a hopeless romantic when it comes to self-reliance.

Tangents are good, as long as they are kept in check. Mary is very good at keeping my tangents in check. I'm so glad that God put us together.

Now, if the kids would just go to sleep when it's bed time.


Bruce Gee said...

Shucks, Joe. I'm embarassed. Also honored, and thanks for your kind words.

MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN was in my top ten favorite list as a kid. Along with the kid's books by August Derleth, which set wonderful adventure stories in the area that I lived in, which was tres cool. Rereading MY SIDe..to my kids as an adult, I realized how romanticized and unrealistic the whole thing actually was. But ah it fed the romantic in me as a kid.

You did a good job of describing the illusion which is self-reliance for us. So American! So Transcendentalist! We lean toward it ourselves, but only scratch the surface.

Babs said...

I'm late with responding, but I have more feathers for your fletching projects. Have you looked at the forge yet?

Anonymous said...

Hi Pastor

That is a cool website. Now that you found a forge it will be possible.
Had I known we could have brought some coal back from Montana.
We probably got some chunks of iron to use also.
Do we take bets on the first throw???

Joe Abrahamson said...

You, my friend Jim from Deerfield, and only one or two other long missed friends can imagine what kind of projects (log cabin, spinning wheel, loom, earth kiln, forge, and on an on...) I dream about in my romantic fantasy of a more simple time.

More feathers are welcome, I'll use them for fletching and for tying flies. I talked to your mother-in-law about the forge. But I haven't looked at it yet.

It remains to be seen whether I have stamina enough to build up stamina to do the forging and hammering. Coal would be nice, are there any local sources? But real oak charcoal works well too. And we can get/make that. I hope to look at the forge on Sunday. Then, if it's not to big, I hope to bring it home. If it's not lined I'll have to get some clay to line it. Your mom wasn't sure if the blower worked. I'll check that too. But I've got a shop-vac that can work in a pinch.

I've only got a couple of old files. But I do have an old table-saw blade that can work for the cutting edge. And I've got plenty of Borax to make the welds.

I'm sure someone has 1/2 inch square iron/steel bar laying around.

Do you or your boys want to help with the hammering.

I don't have a smith's floor vice like in the web page. I'll have to look around for a tongs and a sizable punch. I can get a tongs in town, I think.

How about the handles, I think ash would work. I've got ash and walnut galore.

First throw? Once we get a few heads sharpened, you're welcome. But I don't have any suitable target wood around here. All the trees are too young and would be hurt.