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Why do anything . . .

I think about creativity, and why we might be here, and how the two are related.

I think about flow, of bending time, of being completely engaged and engrossed.

I think about self, about selfish acts of creation or expression.

I think of losing myself in acts of passion.

I think about motivation.

And I think about how fear clogs it all up.

I’ve been reading a very interesting book that, at times, addresses all of these topics. It’s a monster novel by Ayn Rand entitled, The Fountainhead.

It’s one of those books that I’m going to have to read again with a pen handy from the start. There are so many great passages. So many great messages.

I’m nearing the end now, and the passages are jumping out at me like lightning in a dark night.

They may be meaningless without the supporting context, but I’m going to collect a few of them here anyway. These few passages are relating a conversation between architects. One wants the other to design a project without any credit.

Peter Keating wants Howard Roark to create a housing development and let Peter Keating take all the credit, fame and glory for it–because Peter Keating knows he can’t get the contract. He’s not good enough. Howard Roark is the one with the talent and wisdom. It won’t be the first time Keating has asked for help in this way.

The thing to understand as you read this is that creating buildings and solving the problems of each one is Roark’s passion. He doesn’t do it for money or fame or any result whatever.

He does it to create.

He does it for the passion of creation.

Roark is the selfish one. He creates for himself. For the experience of creating.

Keating, on the other hand, is a parasite. He has always done things for the approval of others. He’s more concerned with social status, opinion, and recognition–the results–than anything else.

The bottom line here is that Keating is asking Roark to save him–again. Both of them understand the other completely. I’ll start with Roark saying:

“Can you think of any reason why I should want to save your life?”

“No.”

“Well?”

“It’s a great public project, Howard. A humanitarian undertaking. Think of the poor people who live in the slums. If you can give them decent comfort within their means, you’ll have the satisfaction of performing a noble deed.”

“Peter, you were more honest than that yesterday.”

His eyes dropped, his voice low, Keating said:

“You will love designing it.”

“Yes, Peter. Now you’re speaking my language.”

“What do you want?”

“Now listen to me. I’ve been working on the problem of low rent housing for years. I never thought of the poor people in slums. I thought of the potentialities of our modern world. The new materials, the means, the chances to take and use. There are so many products of man’s genius around us today. There are such great possibilities to exploit. To build cheaply, simply, intelligently. I’ve had a lot of time to study. I didn’t have much to do after the Stoddard Temple. I didn’t expect results. I worked because I can’t look at any material without thinking: What could be done with it? And the moment I think that, I’ve got to do it. To find the answer, to break the thing. I’ve worked on it for years. I loved it. I worked because it was a problem I wanted to solve. You want to know how to build a unit to rent for fifteen dollars a month? I’ll show you how to build it for ten.”

Keating made an involuntary movement forward,

“But first, I want you to think and tell me what made me give years to this work. Money? Fame? Charity? Altruism?” Keating shook his head slowly. “All right. You’re beginning to understand. So whatever we do, don’t let’s talk about the poor people in the slums. They have nothing to do with it . . .

“. . . Peter, before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man that can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences. The work, not the people. Your own action, not any possible object of your charity. I’ll be glad if people who need it find a better manner of living in a house I designed. But that’s not the motive of my work. Nor my reason. Nor my reward.

How To Stop Traffic With Your Garage Sale Signs.

sign4

From a consumer’s perspective, a garage sale is a great way to save money. Over the years, we’ve easily saved thousands of dollars on clothes and children’s books and toys.

Hosting a garage sale yourself is a great way to earn some extra cash. It’s not uncommon for a good sale to rake in anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for you to unclutter yourself by getting rid stuff that’s too good to throw away.

But like anything, a successful sale doesn’t just happen. It takes some work.

Assuming you’ve done your part, have quality items priced to sell, and have everything clearly labeled, the biggest determiner of whether or not you’ll have success is the amount of traffic you can drive to your sale. It’s a numbers game.

Kind of like a web page J

There are actually a number of ways to do this, but hands down the most effective method we’ve had of driving people to our sales, has been creating and setting out good signs at key intersections.

You know where the traffic is where you live. Obviously highways get a lot more traffic than back roads, so don’t be afraid to stretch a little to lead people in. We actually pull people from 3 major arteries whenever we have a sale. One of those carries an average of 70,000 people per day—so we put signs in two different locations along that stretch, giving people two chances to get off the road and find us.

Good signs make happy customers

When someone is driving to a garage or yard sale, nothing is more irritating than getting confused. When someone has to work hard to find you, they’re much less likely to spend money.

Clear signs are a key to good traffic and better sales.

Compare:

Sign5

Which would you rather follow?

So, would you like to create a garage sale sign that’ll line your pockets with cash?

Here’s how we do it.

Map and Mark

If you can’t do this in your head, take out a map and mark each intersection you’ll plant a sign. You MUST put one at EACH intersection.

Leave nothing to chance.

Assume nothing.

Even if the address is clearly visible, that means nothing to ordinary folks. Remember, you want happy traffic. You want to lead them–step by step. You want people to know they’re on the right track.

Doing this before you buy tag-board is key so that you know how much to get. I guarantee, if you’re just making this up as you go along, you won’t get enough. Most people are surprised at how many intersections there are and how easy it is for someone to make a wrong turn.

Go bright Go Neon

sign1Get yourself some heavy duty neon tagboard. We use 28”X14” and fold it in half. The color doesn’t matter as long as it’s something bright—and it’s all of the same color. Neon is great because you can see it a mile or more off. And when it’s all the same color your customers will know, even if they can’t read it right away, that they’re on the right path.

Go Fat and Black

MarkersGet yourself some thick, fat, black markers. Don’t try to do this with ordinary writing utensils. Don’t think pens, pencils, markers, or sharpies. Think wide and dark. You want it to stand out against that neon, but you also want to get one wide enough so that it doesn’t take you forever to color in the words and arrows.

I included packing tape in this picture because a good sign is worth preserving. Covering it with a layer of packing tape is an inexpensive way to protect it from dirt and moisture, enabling you to use it year after year.

Check your Map

Go back to the map where you’ve marked each intersection and begin making your signs. At the top draw a big dark arrow and the word “

SALE”. Make that the most prominent part. A driver’s most important task is reading the road—not your sign. Keep it very simple. Don’t bother listing items for sale, or including unnecessary words or exclamation points. Signs are supposed to point the way not be flashy or exiting.

Most likely an arrow and the word “SALE” will be enough to lead people right to you, but if you feel like you have room, and especially if you’re having your sale for more than one day, you may want to include a little more information.

We list the days and times of the sale. Don’t bother with dates. It’s more likely that you’ll have your sale on the same day next year than the exact same date. If not it’s no big deal either because you can easily match the color tag-board, rewrite the new day and/or times, and tape the fresh information over the old and nobody will ever know.

Finally, we include our address at the very bottom. If they are familiar with the area, this gives people another point of reference.

Stay Organized

sign3.jpgBefore you finish each sign, use a normal pen to jot down the intersection where the sign will be. Put this info in the same corner of your sign each time. This makes the task of setting out the signs much easier, and it allows you to quickly check to see if you have them all the next time you want to use them.

Wire Hangers Rock!

sign2The first few years we did this I struggled sticking the signs in the ground. I tried taping them to wooden stakes and pounding them in the ground. This doesn’t work well. The earth next to roads is not normal dirt. It’s hard and gravely. I could never get the stakes in deep enough. So the wind from the first big truck to pass would knock it down.

Wire hangers taped to the inside of your signs works great because they’re thin enough to slip deep into the gravel and flexible enough to stay put, even during high winds.

That’s it!

It’s a simple thing, but this is one part of organizing a garage sale that you don’t want to skimp on. Most people don’t do this. But it’s the one thing that can either make or break a sale.

Trash, art, or creative gardening?

Remember when I mentioned some examples of our brand of small town quirk? If not, take a look at these posts to see just how much we value choices and ducks around here.

Anyway, this yard downtown takes the cake. I really should have explored a bit more and taken a few more pictures. The homeowner was sitting on his porch swing when I rolled up to just take a shot of that weird dead tree/bottle thingy. He totally invited me to look around. But, despite it being the middle of the day, it just felt a little creepy.

There’s a bunch of other crazy stuff going on there (gardening-wise) though. I’ll have to go back for a closer look some other time.

Junk tree 1

tree junk

bird 1

bird 2