Last Christmas, I gave my parents a trip to China (and back!) as a Christmas gift. We couldn’t afford going abroad when I was a child (except for that one time in 1991 when we had saved up enough to go to Spain for a week, by bus) so I wanted to take them now instead along with my lovely wife.
About a month ago it was time for the actual trip. We mostly stayed in Xi’an, the first capital of China, but took day trips to other places.
Here, it’s easier if I just show you…
All in all, it was a very interesting trip. There is a radical difference in cleanliness, culture and people’s behavior compared to e.g. Japan.
For one thing, we were constantly photographed by strangers. Some additional facts may have contributed to this though. This will take some explaining, so please bear with me;
We went to several places where we didn’t see any other westerners, or only very few – the ones we did see were pretty much all in their 20-30’s, carrying backpacks and cameras. We stood out from the crowd even in the cities for several reasons:
We didn’t see any older westerners (40+).
We hardly saw any people with white, or even gray hair.
We hardly saw anybody with facial hair other than a thin mustache, and nobody with a full beard.
We didn’t see anyone with visible tattoos – 75% of our group had very visible tattoos on our arms.
We also went to China during the Qingming Festival, a holiday for honoring the dead, but also a time where many are traveling. A lot of people from the countryside go to visit their friends and relatives in other cities, this can be the only time of year where they leave the immediate surroundings of their villages. It appeared as if many of them had never seen westerners before, at least not like us. Some days perhaps 20 people came up and wanted to take selfies with us, but mostly people just took pictures or started filming us without asking for permission. It even happened that while we were sitting on a bench, parents came up and put their children in our laps to take pictures of us together as if we were a tourist attraction. I don’t mind people taking the occasional picture of me, but that was a bit much. This behavior was much more visible when going outside the cities to more distant areas such as on Song Mountain, Shaolin and Lóngmén shíkū. Though it did become more amusing when I started playing a game – when I saw someone take a picture of me or anyone in my company, I pulled out my camera an took a picture of them as well. Often I only had a second or so to take the photo before the people started reacting and sometimes hiding their faces. People who wanted to take selfies with me using their phones & cameras seemed absolutely puzzled when I instead took a picture with mine (though I always did let them take one as well). But it gave us all a few laughs.
I’ve said it before, but I want to remind both myself and others, because this is really important; you don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing.
I think we as individuals need to hit pause more often and just enjoy ourselves, not giving a damn about what others may think about it. The ideals of others – or rather what we think are their ideals – are not applicable to us. But still we live a large part of our lives in these narrow templates, fearing what others may think of us, even though their thoughts doesn’t even affect us.
It’s entirely up to you if you want to be part of that gray mass, holding you back from doing what you would really like to do but don’t dare to, or if you want to be true to yourself.
You can write your own rules, as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else (or is, you know, punishable by law).
Buy a cake for dinner just because you want to. Make out on the bus no matter how old you are. Wear a sombrero when shopping ingredients for tacos to make them more fun to eat. Get that (cool/beautiful/silly/awesome) tattoo that you’ve been thinking of for months. Jump in puddles as long as your legs will carry you. Always choose the option that will give you the best story and the best memories, no matter if it’s about buying Milky Ways to your coworkers for no particular reason, trying a tandem skydive with an instructor (worth it!) or saying no thanks to that thing at work because you just bought your first coloring book in 25 years and would rather spend time with it, sipping that wine that people are dissing but you deep down actually like.
And most of all, only surround yourselves with people who make you happy. People that make you laugh, that make you think and that make you love.
There are plenty of pessimists and energy thieves out there who will do their worst to drag you down to the same miserable level as them – avoid them if you can. If not, don’t take what they say too seriously. They are only human too, and don’t know more about how to live a life than you do.
And it’s your life. You should be the one to decide what to fill it with.
Since I first got my 3D printer back in 2014, I’ve been designing and 3D printing various tool holders for the pegboards in my workshop. I’ve uploaded the 3D models for free so that people can print their own, and so far they’ve been downloaded more than 1500 times. It’s nice to know that things you originally designed just for your own use can be of help for other people as well.
Bit holder, shown here with chamfer, deburring, phillips, pozidriv, slot, hex and torx bits. This is used very often.
Screwdriver holder. This was the first pegboard tool holder I designed, and is the one I use the most. That funnel shape is really helpful when you’re in a hurry.
Tool hangers, in a variety of shapes and sizes. Good for placing tools where there is a free spot.
Scalpel holder. I use scalpels all the time when cleaning up 3D prints. With this I always have them at the ready, and I never have to worry about where I put those sharp, pointy things. If they are not in my hands, they are in the holders.
Last year I was asked to make a bowl for holding yarn while knitting. Something to hold the thread in place would also be good. I designed a bowl with a rim that ended in two curly horns that one could easily pull a thread through, simply by pulling it to the side and up
To give the bowl some weight I glued a stack of hard drive platters to the bottom, making it the exact same diameter to match.
I also added the nickname of the recipient to the outside of the bowl in raised letters, made as in one continuous thread (except the dot over the i).