Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Overcoming (minor) disappointments

I have had to deal with quite a few annoyances over the last 2-3 weeks.  Probably the most serious is that there has been quite a rash of scammers on  They build up just enough positive reviews to be taken serious, sell some things (at low but not ridiculously low prices) and then abscond.  When you contact them about the issues with the tracking number or "where is my stuff?," Amazon announces mournfully that the seller has left their platform.  So then you have to file a claim.  Eventually you get your funds back, but it is still a hassle, and the scammer basically gets away scot-free.  At some point, Amazon will have to figure out a better way to deal with these losers.  What made it particularly annoying is that I had ordered a special book on coding as a present for my son.  The other thing I got scammed on was a box set of Leonard Cohen albums.  After poking around for a bit, I found both of them at fair, though slightly higher, prices on the site, but now I have to deal with the whole issue of shipping to Canada, which has gotten quite outrageous.  Still that has been my way of dealing with that particular annoyance.  It could have been much worse, since I don't really end up out any money.

The second is that I have not really seen much improvement in my weight, despite exercising more and eating slightly better than I did a few months ago.  I have stuck to cutting diet soda (and really all soda unless I am at Toronto Cold Reads, where you sort of have to order something from the bar) out of my life, and I have recently stopped buying crackers, which was a minor vice.  I'm eating much more fruit, though I need to be more radical in cutting out processed sugar.  I'm not quite there yet...  I guess I see a little bit of progress, but I am impatient.  I did manage to convince myself to cycle in this morning, even though I didn't want to.  I probably need to add one more form of exercise, either jogging or swimming, so I am trying to summon the willpower for that.  And I really need to do a better job of staying more active next winter, since it is really the winters that undermine all my good intentions.

A slightly related frustration is that I seem to have lost a critical part of my bike pump.  I already feel that I should pump up the tires a bit, but I will have to go to the bike shop and buy a new pump (I really don't think the part is sold separately).  I must have dropped the part on the ground instead of inside the pannier the last time I added air, which would have been while waiting to see For colored girls... at Soulpepper.  It's certainly not the end of the world, but I should try to deal with it now, rather than a few weeks from now when the tires are really flat.  (And I really ought to also take my son's bike in for a tune-up, since he hardly used it at all last year, but that may have to wait for another time.)

I have mentioned that I recently got serious about the curtain project after a several month break.  I finally got the last panels pinned, which certainly takes a while for 60 inch long curtains!  I was buzzing along and ran out of thread in the bobbin twice!  But that wasn't the problem.  I had noticed a squeal that was quite annoying, but pretty much all the on-line help said it was probably the bobbin catcher that needed oil.  I was dubious but pressed on.  Anyway, I had about three inches to go on the last long seam on the final panel when the sewing machine completely seized up on me.  I couldn't even move the balance wheel manually as everything was jammed.  I dug a bit deeper into the on-line help and basically someone said that all the parts should be oiled.  So I took about an hour and disassembled the machine and oiled liberally.  It was still jammed up, and it seemed like the motor might actually have burned out.  It felt so unfair, since I probably only needed 30 minutes more at most.  I more or less gave up and went to look on Craigslist for used machines (though they often have their own issues).

I spent another hour or so straightening up the study.  Somewhat on a whim, I plugged the sewing machine back in and it worked!  (A minor miracle.)  I suspect it was a combination of the oil and the moving parts like the shaft just cooling down.  I was able to finish the seam and then hem the top and bottom of the curtains.  I have to say, they came out pretty well, definitely a bit better than the other pair.

But I think this is very much a temporary state of grace, and this post would have had a much different feel if the machine was still broken, since the options weren't great.  I don't think I could have hand-sewn the bottom and top hems.  Even now, I don't know that I trust the machine enough to undertake another major sewing project.  Small stuffed animals and perhaps a pillow cover might be ok, but I don't want to attempt a quilt, for example.  I really need to track down a sewing machine technician and have it serviced.  Maybe the cost won't be so bad now that I know I don't actually have to replace the motor or any major parts.  Anyway, that's what I should do, and I'll try to make a few phone calls next week to see what my options are as far as repairmen in the city. 

The last thing is a bit more speculative in that it has been fairly difficult to keep a group of actors all moving in one direction, since many of them are a bit flaky.  I then found out that Red Sandcastle is completely booked through the fall and early winter, which was a bit of a set-back.  However, today I found out that Kensington Hall does have availability and seems to be in the same general price range, so I think I will make sure at least two or three actors are interested and then book Kensington Hall.  This would be the perfect place for The Study Group and it should work pretty well for my evening of shorts, so I think booking it for the shorts this fall and working towards The Study Group next spring makes sense (at least as much sense as anything in the arts ever does...).  Anyway, I imagine if I go forward there will be lots of weird things and some disappointments, but I think the payoff will probably be worth it.  Mostly I would get my name out there and gain some experience in producing here in Toronto.  I have a tendency to move on (to other projects) when blocked, and I think to actually make headway, I need to show more persistence in overcoming disappointments and obstacles, so that will be my goal for the next few months.

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