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Route4On a trip to Vermont for Christmas this year, I convinced several friends to join me in taking a 3-hour glass blowing workshop at at Route 4 Glassblowing, a small studio in Windsor, Vermont.  Lada, the founder of the studio, was our very gracious guide through this intial adventure.

The first thing you notice is the heat.   It is intense.   And it doesn’t let up until you move away from the furnace.  And just when you feel normal again, you have to go back to the furnace to reheat the piece.  One friend joked that he had a sunburn as a result.  I know I peronally was happy that I was doing it in middle of (a warm) winter instead of in the dead of summer.

The other thing that you notice is the need for constant motion.  Once you begin, you remain in motion until the item is done and placed in the kiln to get cured.  You are always doing SOMETIHING.

The final thing is that it is WAY more difficult than it looks.   But also just as fun as it looks.  And now I’m hooked!

So now, here are the –


Glassblowing - preheat

(1) Heat It Up: You must preheat the metal rod (punty) and blow pipe (until the tip is red to dark orange in color) before attaching glob of molten glass (which has a consistency of honey).

(2) Tuning in to Turning:   And the first rule about glass blowing is…you must always keep the blow pipe turning when blowing and keep the punty turnng when moving from the furnance to the bench, when moving back to the furnace from the bench, when shwhen reheating.


(3) Color in the Clear: The glass colors come from additions of items to the clear mollten glass (red: copper; yellow: uranium; green: iron; blue:cobalr; white silica).   You dip the molten blob into the powdered colors to coat.  And then to mix the colors, you drag a hook-like tool from the top of the sphere down / across multiple times.  (I didn’t do a good job of adding color or mixing as evidenced by the photo to the left.  That is supposed to be red and yellow – not just yellow.)


(4) Fitting the Mold: You use wood molds (including patterns) to shape the glass (e.g., round it or create a star pattern).  You either place the molten glass (as attached to the punty) in the wooden mold while you are sitting at the bench or you stand on a little stool and stick the molten glob in a pattern mold.


(5) Coolin in The Kiln:  You have to put it in a kiln after you complete the form to take the temperature down




Keep turning/moving!

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January 3Going without television is much harder on a blizzardy day!

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2013 Wrap Up

So many life-altering things happened this year – sick parents, new job, new state of residence; this year was a definitely a year of letting the day-to-day stuff block out the larger life vision.  (Really only went to Walden [#9] and saw a couple of operas [#136].) However, rather than making proclamations of change as is common this time of year, I will just commit to re-connect with this List and see what happens.


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Lucky Number 2013.

new year  Well, you wouldn’t know it from my blog but I did actually do a few things in 2012 like:

(1) Went on a Habitat for Humanity build (in Mongolia) [#142];
(2) Attended the Naadam Festival in Mongolia [#96];
(3) Rappelled down a sky scraper [#139]; and
(4) Flew a BlackHawk helicopter simulator…

Along with a few other things, of course.  In the coming weeks, to meet my goal of blogging at least three times a week, I will likely be writing about these experiences in addition to the new ones to come  in 2013.

Speaking of, some of the adventures/experiences I am shooting for  in 2013 include:

  • Bhutan/Tibet
  • Alaska

And some of the projects specifically being tacked in January include:

  • No TV for 1 month (#179)
  • go to sleep by 10 PM for 1 week (#399)
  • sleep 9 hours a day for 1 month (#398)
  • drink nothing but water for 2 weeks (#405)
  • no sugar for 1 month (#408)

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9 AM in Akureyri, Iceland (Yes, that is 9 in the morning...)

Made a serious attempt at seeing the Northern Lights in Akureyri, Iceland in December 2011. Despite two 5-hour attempts in the middle of the night in freezing cold temperatures, the Aurora did not make themselves available to me. Guess it will have to be the next time!

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#4 Go to Antarctica

  I wrote about my adventure on the White Continent as part of my 400 before 40 list.  See the post here.

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Death-obsessed young man
Meets eighty-something pistol.
Learns to love her, life.

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Fifteen months ago, I posted my 400 before 40 list and blog, a list of things to do, places to see and goals to achieve before I turned 40.

I had been actually working on the list long before I started the blog. Truth be told, I’ve been a list maker for as long as I can remember. I obsessively keep lists of books to read, movies to see, things to research and learn, as well as business, book, documentary and narrative movie ideas. But the turning point for me was Thanksgiving 2006. At the time, I was living and working in Japan as an attorney for a large Japanese trading company. While I was back in NY for the holiday, it became apparent that my brother-in-law, Paul, was about to lose his battle against cancer. It was just so unfair. Paul was a brilliant and generous man – a loving husband, a doting father to my (then) 1 ½-year old nephew, and an all-around good guy. He always put others first and, in that vein, almost never took a day off from his company. He even brought stacks of work with him to do while getting his chemo.

The thing was, it had always been Paul’s dream to go to Italy. He always thought that he and his wife (my older sister) would have a chance to do it once all the work got done, once he beat the cancer, once things settled down. Now he would never have the chance. Although it is cliché, it reminded me that we really don’t know how much time we have. And it drove home the point that, to the extent possible, I wanted to fulfill my dreams TODAY rather than put them off for “someday maybe.”

It took me a several months to gather the courage to quit the lucrative, interesting, and prestigious position (but one that I just didn’t connect with on the deepest level). Ultimately, quit I did – with no safety net, no backup plan. I embraced the uncertainty, traveling around the world for about a year (my “year of living dangerously”, as one of my friends calls it), checking off several “to do” from The List, including skydiving, visiting all 7 continents, going on safari, and taking a hot air balloon ride.

But, as I said in my first blog entry on my 400 before 40 blog, there is a lot more to do. And, even though I didn’t accomplish all the goals on The List before I turned 40, I certainly learned, experienced, and saw more than I would have had I not compiled the goals, small and large, into a list and going for it. And now that I’ve reached the initial milestone birthday of 40, I’m renewing my commitment to unreasonable dreams and pushing beyond comfort zones. I’ve revamped the list and added 100 more goals to make it an even 500 things to do before I turn 50. I hope you’ll join me for the ride!

I look forward to your comments, insights, suggestions, and to hearing about the things on your own ”Lists.”

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