Monday, 26 November 2012

Google Brian Quigley

Google Brian Quigley.

   I went into a jewelry store on Black Friday. That whole sentence is ludicrous.

  I rarely shop after Thanksgiving (or before it), NEVER brave the elements the day following it, and have no holes in my body screaming for a new diamond. With a medical alert bracelet on one wrist and a cheap watch on the other, I don’t participate in robbery from either side of the counter in jewelry stores. The most expensive piece of decoration I’ve ever worn doesn’t get to five figures, even with the decimal point.

  This year, I broke all of the rules and followed the love of my life into one of them. A half an hour later I walked out without having spent a dime, despite the efforts of the soft sell ex-used car salesmen. My distrust of anyone who wears a suit or really nice dress anywhere except at weddings and funerals continues unabated.

  I did, however, have my first ‘I’m thankful for …’ item for next year’s holiday table. Off to the side, clearly away from the jewels protected by glass, was the most valuable treasure in the store. He was dressed in clothing that might be passed over on a Black Friday in a Goodwill store. Those and the apron he wore over them were ready for the wash. So were his hands. All were tinted with the gray of a jewelry maker.

 I imagine most large jewelry stores have one of these people. Many are probably better hidden than this one was. They are probably seldom noticed and even more rarely approached. He attracted me like a lug nut to magnet. Then again, I gather round kitchen knife and bird whistle salesmen. The experience always proves more valuable than the merchandise.

 The things he made were nothing I’d wear, even in drag. Nor would my lady. They were good enough to place highly in competitions though. Brian Quigley showed me the award that had just arrived by mail that day. He said there were over 3,000 competitors, thirty of whom were invited to the award ceremony where twelve winners received their hardware. He got a second in silver jewelry design. He’s won other awards as well.

 All started in response to my usual ‘where the hell did that come from?’ type of question. This time I wanted to know if there was a lapidary supply shop in town. The suits and dresses knew that their store sent their stones out to be cut somewhere but had no useful info other than a suggestion that I check the internet. I never thought of that.

 Brian knew there wasn’t one and also didn’t mind if I watched him work for a few minutes. I’ve never been silent that long. One thing led to another, and another, and another. I know a lot more about a guy who struggled through high school but has a son who splits atoms. I was reminded about how things of quality are made too.

  Showing me the necklace that won his latest award, he explained how the heavy piece of steampunk jewelry (Google that … no .. really .. Google it) started with the pieces on the ends that connect at the back of the neck. He showed me how each link, about an inch long, followed the contours of the human body in a matter that prevented the centerpiece from ‘popping a wheelie’ on the wearer’s chest. The explanation wasn’t long but it reminded me just how much attention to detail went into making something that worked right.

 Given the right weather, I’ll take the same care in making a bottle of maple syrup for him next year when the sap flows. Given the reminder, I’ll apply it to my books as I write. If those do as well as his jewelry I’ll buy a piece of his work, even though I may never wear it. Right now, to get the rest of the picture, I’m going to Google ‘Brian Quigley’.


Monday, 5 November 2012

I'm Goin' Abroad

I'm Goin’ abroad …

For those who may have read some of my earlier blogs, this is not about womens. The squeamish may continue reading. And, to really come clean from the start, I admit to a lie almost as big as the one I’m dealing with here. I ain’t goin’ abroad.

I ran into a discussion that began with the question of whether ‘you’, which I took to mean me, agreed with a Harvard study which concluded that people who travel abroad are more creative, better managers, have better luck starting businesses etc. Not wishing to travel even as far as Boston, I didn’t chase after the study and read it. I’d much rather shoot from the hip at a blurry target with a large load, hoping I might graze part of it and chase it away.

In the interest of saving time for those who are only hanging in here long enough to find out what my answers is before they do something constructive; NO, I don’t agree. There. The rest of you might consider getting a real life. Until you do that, you might want to examine the quality of my load.

My first inclination, and all of those I’ve had since, is to presume this is a poorly constructed study of an atypical population. I rawthah (Harvard thing, you know) presume this is a study designed to make the children think there was a reason to go abroad other than to chase (or be chased by) feriners and probably drink un-American beer. Most of the young have not learned to appreciate the finer rotguts yet, nor has the novelty of unshaven legs and armpits, on womens, worn off.

Having seen through the base purpose of this thing, it’s my pleasure to desiccate the finding, whether real or made up. If I’m wrong, a remote possibility, then the project is worthwhile, we should use government money to send everybody abroad, and we wind up with the greatest country in the world. It might work out even better if properly selected individuals were sent abroad with one-way tickets.

As to the creative thing, of course people who travel the world are more creative. Dummies wouldn’t think of going abroad, or even to St Louis. Those who are smart enough not to need to be creative are staying home too. They’ve pretty much got everything they want right here. The most creative ones of all are the parents who have figured out how to get the kids out of town so they can finally have a peaceful summer.

I’ve traveled abroad quite a bit and there are few who describe me as more creative (of anything good) than before I went, or maybe any kind of creative at all. Yeah, that’s the smart ones again. Point proven without grant money.

As for being better at starting a successful business, let’s face it; it’s not about foreign travel. Those who can afford plane tickets to someplace there is really no good reason to go, also have a little bit more startup money. The pauper ain’t getting on that plane and he ain’t developing the credit line to go spurs a flying into anything much bigger and a lemonade stand or a franchise for Lucy’s 5 cent advice.

I’ll grant that the rare observant traveler might realize that, when he goes home, he can pack slugs in snail shells and sell them to France. Or it might be obvious that he can pack anything, even ball bearings and hamsters, in beer and sell them to Germany. On the other hand it would be clear that anything tasteful, or flavourful, isn’t going to go over real big in England, unless you boil it, including ball bearings and hamsters, for several days.

The last conclusion that I bother to remember is that the time spent in Paris or Bolivia isn't going to create a better manager. Unless were talking soccer coach here, or maybe in the latter case, bribery, this is mainly wishful thinking or bait from a travel agency. Since this is a proper discussion about something from an Ivy League institution, I’ll relent and call it sushi from a travel agency.

Those of us who have any concept of the annual review system know better. That is where a group of peers or bosses get together and decide who the best managers are. You will rarely see a token representative of the managed asked for input. Jealousy and politics play a much bigger role than performance. Because those who have money will more often have the college degree which definitively predicts how successful a manager is, they are most like to rise, like cream, to the top. Those are the same fools who went to Europe or Bangladesh. By the way, when selecting that school, it’s best to remember that Harvard trumps a satellite campus of Southern Appalachia State Community College around the old review session.

Most of what you have just worked your way through is most of what showed up, wanted or unwanted, in my response in the discussion. I’m not sure how it went over since I was either the first or the only participant. Either that or nobody had anything better to add. I may get drunk enough someday to go back and check.