Update from the Shop: June 2021

Since the last update, work finished on the shop infrastructure (for now- more shop work later this month) and work began on the Alfa disassembly.

The shop lighting circuit #1 was finished. I now have a bright U shaped bowl of light on the car. It was the first time I ran conduit, and the results were very good.

The older I get, the more wonky my eyes are. Having good light is terribly important to me. Just as important as these fixed lights, I purchased two rechargeable light wands from Harbor Freight. With a rotating and adjustable angle head, and a magnetic base, these are very helpful and allow me to see the fine details.

On May 24, 2021 the first part was removed from the car and the Capstone Project began. The first part removed? The hood. Getting the weight off the car and getting it stripped down is what I want to accomplish first. It’s tempting to start working on pieces like this hood or tearing into the engine, but there will be time for that. There is no project if the car’s bones aren’t sound, so all effort and resources are going into ensuring that the car is a rebuildable platform. My initial inspections of the suspension mounting points, front and rear, and cross members, are that they are sound. The sheet metal around them may be trash, but the bones seem to have maintained shape and strength. Even the inner sills and in pretty good shape compared to the outer and middle sheet metal. I’ve jacked the car now in a few spots (you’ll notice the front driver side suspension has failed and it droops) and no creaking and moaning.

The chassis is phase one of this project, and without a doubt the most complex and time consuming. Not a panel on this car isn’t affected by rust. A combination of repair panels and fabricated pieces will be fitted and the car given a sturdy but not concours fit and finish. My order of operations is along these lines:

  • Remove the Engine and Transmission and Set Aside: Target Date 31 August
  • Remove the Bonnet, Trunk Lid, Doors
  • Remove the Front and Rear Glass
  • Strip the Interior.
  • Brace the chassis and install and lift onto Rotisserie by 31 January 2022
  • Strip suspension, Front and Rear.
  • Chassis Repairs and Sheet Metal Repair and Replace.

I’m not going to set a date for Phase 1 to be complete. I am after all a 60+ hour per week working class stiff, and the work will be detail intensive and cannot be rushed. What I can say is when Phase 1 is done, the build truly begins. It allows me time to think about the design:

  • Fuel Cell: Safe, modern, high capacity with advanced fuel filtration system.
  • To accommodate this, a redesigned trunk with spare tire moved to roof rack. Jack Points, Tow Hooks and hi-lift jack storage.
  • What spares and supplies with purpose built storage as well as onboard tooling for rally/overlands?
  • Lighting.
  • Bumpers/Skid Plates.
  • Roll Bar: Most likely single hoop.

That’s nowhere near a complete list but it gives you an idea of the direction of this project, which again is to build a rock solid and reliable long distance driver capable of navigating and self rescue in all types of terrains. It will only be as capable as my imagination.

“Everybody wants to have the party but nobody wants to clean up” is an old saying a mentor of mine was fond of, the implication being that it takes discipline and focus to stick to the plan and the less than sexy work required to prepare. Right now, that’s disassembly and prepping for engine removal.

Engine Bay Starting Place May 24, 2021
Progress to date

The first engine bay photo was as it came to me. Note the aftermarket air conditioning and the poor hose and wire management. I’ve removed most of the hoses, the inlet air and filter, the radiator, the coil and distributor cap, and I’ve daylighted the SPICA system. As well, I stripped the grill, the headlamps and the front bumper.

Grill and Bumper Removed

The remaining portions of the air conditioning will come out soon, almost assuredly never to be installed again. I’m not a fan of A/C in general, especially shoehorned in aftermarket. I’ll find better uses for the weight and horsepower losses.

Some interesting finds, the Maserati horn for example.

I guess I never really put anytime into thinking about the horn or researching it. This one won’t go back in, a couple of outrageously loud 118 db Hella’s will, but it is fascinating.

I’m a note taker. While I may be older than the youngsters doing this sort of work these days, I like to think my tech keeps up with them. I use an app called Day One to capture words and images, mostly taken with an iPhone and annotated using Markup.

The Coil: Notes, arrows, highlighting- I’m a note takin’ nerd.
Large Wiring Diagram I mark up as I go. Ebay but pretty good!

I love how companies find ways to monetize their products while still making them useful to the consumer. I keep exacting notes in Day One and then with the push of a button I can bundle the notes into a book-like layout and send to a printer, all within the app. I will send my Phase 1 books off when the car is up on the rotisserie and they should be very valuable to me as I start the harder process of rebuilding.

Type 11501

I hope by the end of June to have all the remaining removable objects out of the engine bay so I can turn my attention to breaking the engine and transmission away from the cross members.

Music Matters

It’s been some time since I posted my latest mix (YouTube) Albums. I do these mostly for myself, for long drives and when I’m in the workshop, but I do have friends that tell me they enjoy them.

When I was a younger man, music was my affiliation: I was a British New Waver from the 11th grade of high school on. There were bands and music that was anathema to me out of allegiance to my affiliated bands. I would never have admitted a Hall and Oates or Whitney Houston sing a long. That changed for two reasons: I went bald and I became a dad. My hair was part of my affiliations, and without it, while I might like the music still, I would never feel the same ties, never emulate the fashion, culture and never again feel the youthful energy that I did. I accept that, it’s part of life and that phase of my life closed and another opened. Being a dad just meant it was time to stop acting like a rebellious teen and start looking the part of respectable adult.

While the music of my youth is still the music that reaches me on an emotional level, I do allow myself the occasional guilty pleasure. Guilty Pleasures don’t concern themselves with deep emotional connection, they just make you feel carefree and happy. A foot tap to the Bee Gees, a little Streisand melodrama, Karen Carpenter’s beautiful voice, Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie, Billy Ocean and a bunch of artists I wouldn’t have been caught dead listening to while I had hair are suddenly free to me and I must admit, I don’t mind a bit of schlock now and then.

Anyways, my first two Guilty Pleasure Mix Albums are here along with my latest mix album. Enjoy!

Lineage

Does history matter? My thesis statement more refined is, does the history of an inanimate object matter?

On a macro level clearly the answer is yes. Museums are filled with with inanimate objects, left by the ancients in the dirt, in the dusty corners of time, passed on or stolen through the ages. The objects have intrinsic value, beloved by all races, faiths and peoples, such as Tutankhamun’s burial mask, or for less ancient, Abe Lincoln’s hat. Even this weekend, one of the only authenticated pieces of James Dean’s 1955 Porsche Spyder will sell for six figures to someone who clearly values this object from the past and as a tie to the man who owned it.

While no one is paying you or I to see our artifacts, we all have them. We are in possession of family pictures, trinkets and keepsakes. My wife and I each have a corner of our dining room cabinet that holds objects from our fathers lives. This is the Carmen J. corner of the curio. He carried that Special Deputy badge from the early eighties on. He owned that ring from the sixties. Those identifications were his affiliation, and affiliation was important to him. Military, Union Labor, Credit Union, University at Buffalo Transportation and Ticket Offices and Family. A flawed man (like the rest of us non-hypocrites) who found redemption through his countless acts of kindness and thoughtfulness.

In my workshop sits a 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000. Only 37,500 LHD units were manufactured. You don’t pass them on the road. Ashes to ashes, rust to dust, these cars are mostly returning to the earth that born them. God willing, my rusted out survivor will carry me on long endurance historic and vintage auto rallies. My stated goal is to participate in the Peking to Paris rally. First run in 1907 and rekindled after the fall of communism, the rally in its current incarnation is about 9,000 miles spread over 30 days. Should I care about its history?

The car isn’t just a car to me. Readers of Satori! know that this is my capstone project, the one where I bring all the skills acquired over decades of mechanical, electrical and project management experiences. It won’t be sold, not in my lifetime. It won’t be traded in for a new shiny object. I was telling my friend just the other day I could have bought a vintage car, put some upgrades into it, and started to compete sooner, but that cheap thrill of using money resources to try and satisfy something that’s in your soul doesn’t work. It’s akin to the moment when an addictive vice can no longer be fed adequately and you know you have to do something different to survive.

So to answer the thesis statement, on a personal level, the history of this inanimate object is important to me. Let’s dive in.

You can’t just CARFAX a pre 1981 vehicle. The DOT had yet to mandate the standard 19 digit VIN or Vehicle Identification Number system that the database depends upon. Primary source documentation might be found by writing the factory and determining the import location, but most likely your trail would go cold at a long since closed importer shop. The first known owner of the Alfa is identified by the service records as Robert Plumb Jr. of Princeton, NJ. In August of 1977 at 45,000 Mr. Plumb took the vehicle to Z&W Enterprises on US Route 206 in Princeton for service. For those unfamiliar, Route 206 goes right past the university moving north and west as US 1 moves east and north. I found references to a Z&W Enterprises as a future Alfa and Mazda Dealership but it appears closed since 2006. I’ve reached out to a former employee from the early 1980’s and hope to hear more about this place.

The car was clearly loved by Mr. Plumb. I count no less than 25 trips to the repair shop between August 1977 and 45,000 miles and June 1982 and 86,293 miles. He started bringing the vehicle to Alfa Performance Center, 225 State Highway, Yardville N.J. It still looks the part of a 70’s era aftermarket import repair garage.

The location of the former Alfa Performance Center

Mr. Plumb was the “…treasurer of Asarco Inc., a metals and mining concern in New York” which is a $2.0 Billion dollar publicly traded company, well over 120 years old, The American Smelting and Refining Co. The family lived in a house built in 1970 on a bucolic tree lined street and lot and has a current market value of $1.2 MM. This was an expensive car at the time driven by people of wealth.

Home location of the vehicle in late 1970’s

Mr. Plumb sadly died before his time at age 50 on May 29, 1979, announced in the NY Times. I did not plan this, but the day I am writing this is 42 years to the date since he passed away. Mr. Plumb had brought the Alfa into the shop on April 23, 1979 for a muffler replacement and less than a month later he left his family, the car and life behind. Mrs. Plumb’s name appears on the next few invoices and sometime in late 1981 it appears the vehicle began to be driven by Anne Plumb, who I believe to be, at the time, the 21 year old daughter of Mr. Plumb. Ms. Plumb was married in October 1991 as announced in the NY Times but she also sadly passed away young like her father at age 43 of cancer. She was an accomplished business woman and mother. I’ve sent some messages to people who I believe may be relatives of the late Anne. H. Plumb (Root) and hopefully they are able or willing to share some memories or pictures of the car and their loved ones. Mrs. Plumb, Robert’s widow, remarried but she is widowed again and I believe in her 90’s, so I did not reach out to her for comments.

The car appears to have been purchased in 1983 by Marvin and Diane H. (name withheld as they are all living as far as I can tell) of Hopatcong, New Jersey, about 48 miles to the north of Princeton. I think I have found them on social media and hope to have some feedback in the future.

In July 1983, Marvin joined the Alfa Romeo Owners Club in Escondido, CA. The former location of the national owners club appears to be a house on a dusty road.

He also appears to have made contact with Ed Gellar, who at the time appears to have been the New Jersey Chapter of the Alfa Owners Club representative. A search of Mr. Gellar found him at an Italian Automobile event in November 2016 with a beautiful Alfa Romeo Montreal.

Marvin purchased $250 in parts from what was International Autoparts of Charlottesville, Virginia in November 1983. International Autoparts was sold in the last several years and is now part of Centerline International, one of the go-to US domestic Alfa parts suppliers.

The trail goes cold there. My title, issued August 4, 1983 shows 91,800 Miles and was signed over the the Beverly Hills Car Club of Los Angeles, CA who most likely acquired it in New Jersey and then shipped it to Los Angeles only to ship it to me in April 2021.

I think its safe to assume the car’s odometer stopped working at 118,323 miles, 26,000 Miles or so after Marvin purchased it. In my opinion it sat in the cold wet environment of Northern New Jersey, loved but unrestored until purchased by a classic car marketer and then sold to me. It has dents, but they are storage dents. It’s all there, a silent sentinel to the past.

The history of the car does matter to me. I will take with me Richard, Anne, and Marvin on the restoration journey, I will take the car to New Jersey, and I will take their memories with me on the long adventures ahead.

Update from the Garage: May 2021

Satori!

Welcome friends. Satori!

When I last updated my readers, the Alfa had been purchased but not yet arrived. That changed on April 7th when the car carrier arrived after leaving Los Angeles. As my brother in Law Joe and I push it off the truck, my son Jae did the driving.

It was delivered as expected; significant rust on the sills, front wings, rear fenders, floorboards and door bottoms. Some of the most challenging repairs will be the front windshield frame as there isn’t much left to work with and the dimensions have to be exact. But first things first, the crew got it into the shop where its about to be completely disassembled and purpose built for long distance historic rallies.

The Crew: Picture Shy Lori and Maria

I didn’t expect to purchase the Alfa when I did, but there are few project cars of this make and model on the market, and the whole concept of Satori! is that time is ticking and not to wait to chase my objectives, so I bought it. That said, the shop was not ready. I knew if I tore into the car I’d never finish the shop. So I developed a list and gave myself the goal of completing the shop by 31 May, wrapping up loose ends in June and beginning the car disassembly by 1 July.

I make lists

I have been working on readying the shop since September 2020, but nothing like having a rusty hunk of metal sitting there to accelerate the process. The bathroom was hideous in the shop. It’s now painted, clean, brightly lit and filled with appropriate artwork thanks to my wife, Maria. It seems insignificant, but when guests come over it’s nice to offer a clean bathroom and not some filthy workshop toilet (I think this means I’ve been domesticated).

The Head

Lighting and Safety had to be addressed. I need light, lots of light, as my eyes aren’t that good in the best of conditions. The car sits in a U-Shaped area and I filled the area with lights, all run with 1/2 inch EMT conduit and code compliant. The loft had no safety rail, and that was built, capped and a handmade wooden flag given to me by my brother in law, Charlie, looks down and out over my workflow.

Tools are not an issue. I’ve been managing machinery maintenance for the better part of thirty years, and in that time I’ve come to develop my opinions on what is necessary and what isn’t. You’ll never find huge toolboxes in my shop. I like my tools close, I like my kit compact. I have what I need, and I take pride in coming up with creative ways to get the job done. I did add this rolling cart specifically for this build. I’ve stocked the cart with my metal shaping and fabrication tools, and the work bench itself will have my 20″ metal bender, my metal shrinker and stretcher, and my heavy-ass vise (technical term).

Rolling Metal Working Bench

I’m really down to one item I want to finish before I start on the car: a 220V circuit for my air compressor and running air filters and air line outlets. I’ll wrap that up in June but because I don’t need the compressed air right away, I’m going to stick to my plan and start disassembly in June.

The Order of Operations will be to pull the doors, hood and trunk lid, remove the bumpers, lift the front end gently to allow the transmission to be unbolted from the cross member and to pull the engine and transmission for rebuild later. With the weight off the car I can assess if the car in its current state is strong enough to support its own weight when I put it on a rotisserie, as the name implies, a stand that allows the car to be spun 360 degrees to allow for easier access to the hard to reach areas for the tedious metal work and welding ahead.

I plan to keep and weigh all the metal I cut off the car and replace. It’s going to be several hundred pounds of rust coming off this frame and body.

It’s not about the carpentry, the metal work, the tools or the bathroom. Satori is the awakening that time marches on. My wife Maria and I celebrate thirty years together this month, my son is 21 and his life is moving forward. My job, always busy and full of challenges, has been incredibly rewarding to me. I have a million excuses to not get anything done except sleep and work. Satori! Find time for the things that matter. A few minutes here, an hour there. I start my days early and I pack a lot of work into each day. I’ll rest when I’m dead, right now I have my capstone projects ahead of me and I have a list.

Next update in June, the start of disassembly. Thanks for reading.

Feel free to email me: Anthony@Satori.Blog

Capstone 01: The 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

I did not choose to make this Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 my first Capstone project easily. I studied many marquis and cars: Porsche 356 and 911, Mercedes W108-109 and W116, BMW 3 Series and 2000, Ford Mustangs and VW Squareback and Karmann Ghia. All had qualities interesting to me, all were eliminated for one reason or another. My criteria was pretty specific: a strong unibody, engine and drivetrain intact, all glass in place, suspension mounting points in original locations, a project car under $15,000, parts and technical materials available. I gave credit for a 1966 model (year I was born) but it had to be 1974 or older.

Research

The more I studied both the Alfa and the market for GTV 2000’s, the more my interest piqued. Four Wheel disc brakes, limited slip differential, five speed manual transmission, around 2,400 lbs, 130 HP, lots of glass and great sight lines.

The car wasn’t on my radar for many reasons, mostly because I thought a project car would be out of my desired price range. As I became more comfortable with the idea of a lot of rust repair, both cosmetic and structural, the more I saw the merits. The fact that it is Italian, the country of my grandparents and my lineage, only added to the intrinsic value.

I ‘ve spoke in previous posts about Satori and Capstone. Satori was the realization that I only had so many years left. My father died at 83 but the reality was his body began seriously failing him in his mid 70’s. I’ll be 55 this year. I’ve dedicated my life to service to others: the military, my wife, child raising, my job and the company that has given me so much. I have a bit of time now that my son is older, and that time I’m pouring into this endeavor. Capstone are the projects of finality, the pinnacle of my skills, my abilities, and the things I want to accomplish before I age gracefully and live out the golden years. My biggest fear in life is I will have lived since age 17 in the service of others only to become infirmed before I can realize these capstone projects.

Capstone 001, the Alfa, will be the vehicle, my platform, that I campaign in rally events in North America, Europe and Asia. It will be a continually evolving and improving companion to the adventures I still have left in me: Key West to Deadhorse Alaska, London to Sicily and the grand daddy of them all and my stretch goal, Peking to Paris. These long and arduous drives are the test of both myself and machine, or better yet, my body and my skill. Validation of a lifetime of preparation. No one will remember these feats, few will understand them, and no pot of gold awaits me at the end. This car will never be sold. Hopefully one of my grandchildren or nieces and nephews children take up a love of vintage steel. I haven’t given up on my son developing a love for mechanics either. Satori! It’s the capstone of the best life I can lead for myself, the ying to the yang that is being the best father, husband, uncle, brother and grandfather.

Project Management is a skill I’ve honed for many years. At the heart of project management is understanding the triple constraint: Money, Time and Scope of Work. I’m focused on Scope of Work now. The car will be in my shop in about two weeks after being shipped across country from Los Angeles. A complete inventory of what I have and what it needs will come first, followed by planning. My Dad use to laugh at me because I learned from books instead of his approach to learn by trying. Perhaps its the Us Navy Nuclear Power Program in me, but I’ll think and analyze before one bolt is turned. Where I think I have evolved is I am able now to change on the fly, not be married to my planning, and I no longer have a paralyzing fear of failure mechanically. Dad would be proud and I wished he was alive to sit in my shop, drink coffee and bust my chops, but I know he hovers close by. I asked that the car arrive on April 8th. One year ago, at 3:35 PM on April 8th I watched him take his last breath and say goodbye to this world. I like symmetry in life and starting Capstone 01 on that date to me is perfect symmetry.

Until then, Satori! Find your purpose before a sudden awakening finds you.

What is the Objective(s)?

Satori! was a feeling that led me to take action. A sudden bolt of lightning that reminded me that my life clock is ticking. Satori! is an emotion, esoteric and translucent. Maybe it was the fact I’m approaching 55. Maybe the death of my father, father in law, the pandemic and realizing how quickly this construct of life can be altered or ended. Whatever the reason, I became engaged in my Satori moment and determined to make the next 20+ years (God willing) count.

Capstone is concrete. Capstone is things I’m doing, thing’s I’m building. They are the things I wish to be remembered for, along with father, husband and veteran.

I rented a workshop and since September I have been making progress to prepare it for my first project. The bathroom has been freshened and made presentable. I am in the process of adding more lights, more 120v power and I’m installing 240V for my air compressor and welding machine. Work benches have been built. Bookshelves installed.

The workshop sign is up, although a replacement has been ordered because it was made up on the incorrect sized stock. No matter, the shop has been christened. Mementos are inside: pictures of my Dad, my son, my father in law, flags that flew over my submarine. Cigars and bourbon are there.

When not physically preparing the facility for my first Capstone project, I’ve been studying, considering multiple projects before me. I don’t want to be coy so I will just spell out my Capstone objectives:

  1. Build (not buy a ready made car) a classic car. Pre-1974, points for a 1966 (my birth year).
  2. 2026. Test the Car in North America: Key West to Deadhorse, Alaska. 5,500 Miles.
  3. 2028 (or 2031- you have to be selected) Peking to Paris Historic Car Rally. 9,300 Miles and a lot of money.

Three objectives. The car. A platform that can handle off road, overland, dust, mud, stream crossings, speed, endurance, durability and safety. Its a lot to ask for. Skills, developed over a lifetime, beginning with lessons from my father, the Navy, my career. The application of skills and smarts, expressed in steel.

The drives. Why? Life is about adventures. Being able to combine my love of mechanical machines, travel, adventure and accomplishment without fanfare is a lure that no drug compares to.

36 years ago today I left the safety of my home and joined the US Navy. Immature and too young for what faced me, I survived and pressed on. By the time I left the submarine in February 1991 I was mature, hardened, focused. My uncle gave me my first opportunity and I made the rest of my opportunities happen. I willingly made sacrifices to move my career to where it traveled. Then, Satori! 2020 came, 2020 forced introspection and an examination of what is and was important. I’m looking at my career in shorter horizons now, thinking about 60 as the time to step away, perhaps 62. I love what I do and I’m dedicated to the people I work for. Satori. The Capstone Projects. I couldn’t wait to 62 to gear up for these things, so I will use these 6 years or so preparing for the day my work career ends and I spend every moment preparing for those objectives.

I’m not trying to impress anyone nor am I trying to be some social media influencer type. This is a time capsule I’m burying for my grandkids. I’ll teach you about me, our family and history, and hopefully when this is being read in February 2021 by a great grandchild they will be able to relate a bit to their distant relative in a way I can’t just looking at the old black and white photos from 1921 of my ancestors.

Merry Christmas

Music has always been a place of refuge for me. A passion of mine when I was younger was to make “mix tapes”, cassette tapes filled with songs that I would give to my friends. I always considered them windows into my world and nothing excited me more than years later learning that some band on one of those mix tapes became a favorite of that recipient.

I started numbering them in June 1985, when I lived at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station just north of Chicago. I had graduated high school in January 1985 and joined the US Navy. With money and time, the mix tapes started to flow. That first mix tape contained an odd combination of Rush, Duran Duran, The Fixx and Wham!

Over 150 mix tapes were made by me between 1985 and 1995. For a brief time, mix CDs took over from 1996 through 2004. After that, silence for nearly 16 years. I had a child to raise, a job to work, there wasn’t time or a very good medium for sharing these mixes anymore, and quite frankly, my small collection of friends had other things in their lives beside 1980’s new wave mix collections.

I make these Youtube mixes for me. I play them in my shop when I’m working, I play them on long car rides, I play them before bed. I share them via social media and occasionally a friend tells me a certain song reminded them of the old days, a compliment worth more than any money.

I’ve been preparing my creative space for the work ahead of me, what I refer to my Capstone projects. These mixes are the soundtrack.

Merry Christmas. My father sat in my house for the last time one Christmas ago. So much has happened in the past year, but his loss, and the loss of my father in law, looms over everything.

F232
F233
F234
F235

Satori Mix Tape

My latest Satori Blog mix tape (and they will always be mix tapes and not playlists to me!) is released and can be found here. Music inspires and brings joy to me. I show my age but the music I gravitate to is the music and the bands of my youth. They were the ones who spoke to me when life was still unfolding, and they continue to whisper into my ear today. So you don’t have to guess, my music is mostly from the middle 1980’s, mostly what would have been called New Wave, and mostly was written and recorded by real musicians without autotune or protools. Organic. Authentic.

Of Note:

The Church lead things off with the haunting Numbers from their revival album, After Everything

I’m not a huge Bowie fan but Modern Love gets turned up when it comes on my radio

The Jam and Clash give us a taste of the end of 70’s London Punk Scene

New Order and the Pet Shop Boys give us shimmering synth sounds

Peter Murphy’s haunting Marlene Dietrich’s Favorite Poem is a reminder of how talented the former members of Bauhaus are/were

Stand or Fall and Bye Bye Love reminds us that not every song needs to have the depths of the ocean, some are just slabs of pop, and that’s not a bad thing

Dead Can Dance’s Brendan Perry can rip your heart from its chest with the depth of the emotion in his baritone. A nice compliment to slabs of pop.

The Beach Boy’s Til I Die is an example of Brian Wilson’s evolution over time, an evolution that cost him mental health along the way

The Waterboy’s title song to June 1984’s A Pagan Place LP gives a glimpse into the big music sound, music that inspired U2 who had the fame but admired Mike Scott nonetheless.

Echo and the Bunnymen with a deep cut, Clay, REM with the rockabilly sing along Don’t Go Back to Rockville, Depeche Mode industrial synth, U2, The Lightning Seeds, The Wild Swans, and Marty Willson-Piper round out the affair.

Creative Space

The concept of my Satori! is simple: I sat in bed the days following the death of my dog Kay and I wondered about my own mortality.

My dog was just a puppy in 2005 when I accepted a position that became a life-altering job. The job gave me a chance to achieve my career goal of being the top operations manager of an electric power generation company, but it came with non stop travel, heavy stresses and the need for wide shoulders because ultimately every issue seemed to find its way to my desk.

Fourteen years later, and that dog had became my best friend and night time companion, as unresolved discomfort in a bed, and my broken nose style of snoring found me sleeping on the floor with her to find rest. She was a flawed animal, once biting my sister in law, and we couldn’t let any strangers near her, but she was loving and kind with my family. Her death shook me. It dawned on me that I only had so much time. None of us know the hour, and worrying about it won’t add a second, but I was gripped with this thought that all the hard work in my life would go for naught and that I’d never have healthy retirement years to pursue my personal goals and objectives.

That was my Satori, my sudden awakening, that I was mortal, that time wasn’t infinite and I could not afford to waste any. I took a Konmari approach to organizing my life. It was simple really; what is important and gives me both utility and happiness was kept, and what did not was not.

The Capstone Project is a direct result of my Satori, an application of a lifetime of skills and knowledge and applying it, like a focused beam of light. But I needed the right incubator, fertile space to flesh out my ideas into reality. I needed creative space.

There are different schools of thought on the ways we as humans learn. The benefit of being in my mid 50’s is that I have enough perspective regarding my own experiences and I’ve realized that the ways I learn at 53 are the same way I learned at 18: I like quiet, uncluttered space, with my thoughts organized in a manner that I can easily access them.

I can’t work with the radio or TV on, absolutely no headphones unless noise cancelling, and I need my work and creative environment to be clean. I can’t work or think cluttered and “…you don’t need a degree in organizational psychology to know that a cluttered work area does not make for clear thinking” (Pernnell 2019). A different form of psychology, the relatively new science of environmental psychology, “…explores the influence of our physical surroundings on how we think, feel and act ” and again, I know I need well lit, clean, organized and quiet (Rattner 2017).

As a result of Satori, I have started this Capstone Project, a series of projects really, all interlinked and chronicled here. I don’t want to get ahead of myself on the projects, but if I’m going to be creative I needed creative space and I have secured space to work within. Located mere minutes from my house, 1,000 square feet with a loft for storage and bathroom that allows me to drink unlimited coffee at night and on weekends.

It needs work, but that’s OK, its all part of the journey. I don’t like to rush through my personal projects, quality over quantity. “Give your space a metaphor or theme. This will shape how people use and think about the space” (DeGraff 2014). Creative space is the metaphor.

My goal is to have the creative space cleaned, organized and built out to my personal taste and specifications by the end of the coming winter. I’d like to begin my actual first project in the spring of 2021. Video companions to the posts begin around January 2021 if I stay on schedule.

I’ll post progress pictures and write updates along the path.

Thanks for reading

Citations

DeGraff, Jeff. “Need to Get Creative? How to Create and Idea Space.” Jeff DeGraff Blog. 15 Dec 2014. Retrieved at: https://jeffdegraff.com/blog/2014/12/need-to-get-creative-how-to-create-an-idea-space/

Pennell, Kate Maria. “How to Set Up Physical and Mental Space To Do Your Best Work.” 6 May 2019. Medium.com. Retrieved at: https://medium.com/swlh/create-space-to-have-space-to-create-2bf24bafeac8

Rattner, Daniel. “How to Use the Psychology of Space to Boost Your Creativity.” 2 June 2017. Medium.com. Retrieved at: https://medium.com/s/how-to-design-creative-workspaces/how-to-use-the-psychology-of-space-to-boost-your-creativity-4fe6482ef687

My Blogging History- 700 Posts and 12 years Later

Blogs come and go. Those of us old enough to remember a time before Twitter and Facebook know that blogs were a place where thoughts, ideas and information was exchanged. The comments section became a time line of sorts and the discussion went on long past the blog posting.

In September 2008, I started The Turk and the Little Turk blog, a Horse Racing and Handicapping blog with a featured race within each post. Almost 700 posts later the blog is still alive and well. Twitter and other social media platforms have taken the traffic and the comments, but that’s OK, I was never there for the collection of a large audience or ad revenues, I simply like to share my thoughts and observations about horse racing.

It’s a very different blog, intended for a very different audience. If you are interested you can find the link here, The Turk and the Little Turk.

Today’s blog post featured Saturday’s Fourstardave, a Grade 1 event from Saratoga Springs run over the grass. I made the offer in today’s post, if you ever read this, and would like to know how to learn the basics of horse racing so you can explore the sport, just reach out.