Anchor symbolism 

I started seeing these bracelets on Instagram a few months back and since I use paracord for my pendants I decided to make one of these. I looked up the meaning and most writings I’ve seen refer to a sea or sailing, or other maritime connection. While that certainly is significant, we should look deeper.

I’m not a very good swimmer, or very water-oriented. So sailing wasn’t my first thought when I saw these. Anchors speak to me of stability, holding one’s- and being held in place. They symbolize grounding, and mindfulness…anchored to now.

You can spend a few dollars to make one of these, or there are a number of sites that offer them for more.

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A meditative moment

zen rox

Some days the chatter in the office gets a bit irritating. Yesterday it reached the point where I just couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing. So I got up and went outside. The edge out front between the sidewalk immediately in front of the office and the curb is filled with river stones. When I walked out I had intended to go to my car and just sit for my break and just reset from the cocktail party that was going on among my coworkers. When I’m around any group that is getting increasingly loud and chatty I have to do this sometimes. When I stepped out the rocks caught my eye and I decided to select five or six to build a miniature version of the rock balancing “cairn” sculptures. The display out front is mostly flat white-ish stones of the skipping variety. I bent down to pick one up and the security guard who was close by asked, “Is there something wrong with the rocks?” I looked at him and shook my head and went back to scanning the rocks. I spent the next fifteen minutes going over most of what’s there and the sense of agitation that I was feeling went away. I found these five that would work and I took them inside and placed them on my desk next to the Mac.

Zen and the Art of Knife Safety

Blades Actually I’m not a Zen person. It’s a ripoff of a book title from the 80s and I figured it was a bit more eye-catching that just “knife safety.” I threw together a few knives from the kitchen with some others for this photo. I wanted to talk a bit today about knife safety. It’s important right now while we’re all “safe and sound” and “it” hasn’t happened yet. Whenever “it” does happen, you’ll be glad people have been talking about topics like this. The longer you can go without injuries in a long-term emergency situation the better your chances.

Every injury I’ve ever had with a cutting tool happened because I didn’t have my mind on what I was doing and because I was unable to see the blade and where it was going. I follow certain rules for safety with cutting tools. I didn’t take a class. Most of what I’m covering here I learned growing up. I don’t recall my parents and grandparents getting any careless cuts. The rest are thoughts from things that have happened to me over the years and from watching the aftermath of things happening to others.

Practice conscious cutting.
Know what you’re doing and why, then do only what you’re doing. Take off the headphones. Stop talking. Kick people out of the room if you need to. When you’re using tools like these you want to apply some wisdom from aviation. Pilots use the phrase “sterile cockpit.” This comes up a lot in training. They are referring to working in an environment of zero distraction.

NEVER try to cut something when you cannot see the blade.
Even if you’re distracted, if you know where the blade is you run less of a chance of injury. Always try to cut above the material and away from your body. When I’ve tried to hold something in one hand and cut from behind it and towards myself I’ve ended up fumbling through a box of Band-Aids.

Always hand any tool, especially bladed tools, handle first to another person.
This is a basic tool safety rule which I’ve seen people ignore in an annoyingly cavalier manner.

Sharpen.
Do I really need to elaborate? If you start out easily slicing through something you end up putting a lot more elbow-grease into the same task. If you stop to sharpen your blade the entire task can take less time and be less tiring. That’s just talking usefulness. What about reducing chances of injury? Since the blade is sharp you are applying less pressure. There is less chance of it slipping, getting stuck, etc.

Know your blade.
When I was a kid I got my first pocket knife when I joined the Cub Scouts. The handbook talked about not using the knife improperly. We were told, for example, not to use the blade as a screwdriver. Those beginner Scout knives did not have locking blades. This knife was we commonly call a folder and there were times, in little hands, when it did exactly that. Not every blade is made for every purpose. They’re not all ground as finely. The steel varies in hardness. The shapes differ. There are some that can cover most tasks. But you would never carry a hunting knife into an operating room nor would you start field-dressing an animal with a scalpel.The blade has its abilities and limitations. A blade that dulls quickly may not be suited for certain work, just like one that is more difficult to sharpen.

Know the thing you’re cutting.
There are types of wood that are so porous that the dullest blade will slice off pieces like it’s moving through air. Others are quite dense and the sharpest blade will barely make pencil shavings. Sometimes you may be using the wrong tool. You may need some type of saw. Check the thickness of the material. How easy is it to tear? How does it feel? Is it slick? Rough? Porous? You may only have one blade or a couple of different ones. Knowing what material you’re working with can at least give you some idea how the job is going to go.

If you carry a knife daily you should consider carrying a pocket sharpener. I’ve seen these go for as little as $3. This doesn’t need to be on your person. If you carry a brief case or pack it can go in there. I also carry a folding utility knife with me. I use this for the slop work, cutting paper, etc. I think of them as extending the time between sharpening sessions for my pocket knives. The blades are pretty cheap and I don’t go through them very often. Again the rules I’ve listed apply for all cutting tools.