Blacksmithing, or Quality Time With a Teenager

For the past few months, I’ve been taking blacksmithing lessons with my 16 year old son.

Diagram of a coal forge. In the book:

Diagram of a coal forge. In the book:”Practical Projects for the Blacksmith”, it was noted that a forge like this can be made based on a barbeque-pan. This, by adding a hole and inserting a T-junction with a hairdryer (the whole costing about 60 € new, or $5 for both items when obtained secondhand/from the junkyard) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, but my schedule never lined up with the places that teach near me.

Then I forgot about it.

Last year, the History Channel started a new series called Forged In Fire, that made me think about it again. Better, the boy was interested, too.

If you don’t have a teenager, here’s some interesting information that’s almost universal:  teenagers suck.   You spend a dozen years of your life essentially doing everything for them.  Then one day, they have their own interests and want nothing to do with their parents.  I get it, it’s good for them to be independent and all, but it sucks for the parent who wants to spend time with the kid.

Enter blacksmithing.   I’m interested, the boy’s interested, and I’ve dropped most of my side projects to have more time for my family and myself.   Let’s do this.

Class number 1:  5 miles away, teaches Tuesday evenings at the height of rush hour.  That’s a 45 minute 5 mile drive.  It costs $350 each for an 8 session class, that I’d have to leave work early for and would cut into the kid’s homework.

Class number 2:  15 miles away, teaches full-day classes over eight consecutive Saturdays…for $120 each.  That’s awesome.   Except they book their entire year’s calendar of classes within 3 days of posting the schedule for the year.   When they got my paper registration in the mail(seriously, paper?  In 2015?), they called to tell me we were 6th on the waiting list.

Class number 3: 2 hours away.  Full day classes on Saturdays.  Held every Saturday, so we could come on our schedules.   Cost $100, but $200 total for a class as we want them is way more affordable than the $700 up front for class #1.   I’m sold.

Four classes into it, I find out that that’s the most classes I can pay for.   I’m still welcome to use the facility, but now I have to supply my own charcoal.   From here on out, it’s $50 for gas and $20 for charcoal to forge all day…and still get taught.    If we pass some tests, we can officially join and sell our creations in the gift shop.

Totally sold.

So now, the boy and I are making the drive once a month.   We talk during the drive, we work together on the forge.   I love my kid, and I love spending time with him.  I love making things, and I love sharing that love with my kids.   In a few years, he’ll move out, but he’ll remember this for the rest of his life.  It’s worth every cent.


I Won the Lottery!

No, I didn’t, but this is what I’d do if I won an obnoxious amount of money.

  1.  Take 6 months or a year, hire traveling tutors for the kids, and see the world.  This gives the extra benefit of being completely out of reach for anyone trying to borrow money.
  2. Pay off the mortgages of a few close family and friends.
  3. Set aside a big chunk to support my decadent, extravagant lifestyle.
  4. Create a fund.

This fund will have the purpose of making all of my descendants live life on the easy setting in perpetuity.   It will give them enough money to cover the major hurdles everyone has in life, without giving enough that they don’t have to work.   Here’s the money I see them getting:

  • Upon the birth or adoption of a child with my last name (Because I’m a jerk like that.  My name will last forever!): $10,000
  • Graduate high school with at least a B average: $5,000
  • Attending college while making progress towards graduation: $10,000 per year, up to 8 years(to allow for doctors and rocket scientists and stuff)
  • Graduating college:  The amount of college costs (tuition, room & board, etc.) up to $200,000.
  • Marriage, provided my descendant maintains my last name: $20,000
  • Starting a business, up to twice in a lifetime: $50,000

Each of these items that occur after the recipient becomes an adult would have the stipulation that their will gifts half of their estate back to the fund.  That way, everyone who got this headstart will help pay it forward.

This will require management, so I would appoint trustees to manage it.   Their job will be to grow the fund and adjudicate any requests.   They will have the authority to buy property, invest in businesses, or whatever will grow the fund to support future generations of my spawn.   Three, because that way there can be no ties.   Each of the three will have a named successor, who must be one of my descendants.   They will, of course, earn salaries.   I don’t see this being part-time work.   A salary that puts them at the 80th income percentile in the US seems fair.   They won’t have the ability to give themselves raises, beyond a statistical adjustment.

Amounts can be adjusted to cover rising costs, inflation, or potential depletion of the fun upon the majority vote of the Council of Three, with the overriding goal of making sure the fund survives to help future generations.

I actually see the organization of this being a corporation built around the management of a trust fund, but I’m not a lawyer or an accountant, and this is a fantasy, so I can see it however I want.

Yes, I follow the patriarchal model of maintaining my last name.   Sue me.   My last name, a parent who is descended from me and has my last name, and a will that states you’ll do your part to continue the awesomeness isn’t a high price to pay to avoid nearly all of the expensive things that hold people back.

That’s my master plan to take over the world, in the future, by proxy.


Net Worth and other stuff

Net worth

This was not a good year for our net worth.Over the summer, we remodeled both of our bathrooms.  At the same time.1 out of 10: Don't recommend.We love the bathrooms, but--as with any project--it went over budget.   Sucks to be … [Continue reading]

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Where the hell have I been?

2016-01-13 18.51.30

For the last year or so, I haven't been writing much, which feels weird.  I used to write three timer per week.   I'd write about saving money, investing, frugality, sometimes, relationships and parenting.But that stopped.   Why?When I … [Continue reading]