Nov 19

I made this

I’ve been talking about this too much and showing very brief, inconsistent photographs of my latest project, but here it is:

It’s nothing more than seven pieces of wood, from three larger pieces I bought late this summer. This wood was supposed to be the test pieces as I tried to answer the question: What should a stove cover look like?

The real question is: How do you keep cats off countertops? but philosophers, scientists and theologians have all failed to answer that one. So we’re left with the stove cover thing.

I did a plywood top version for a few weeks. It was really a study of heat. What was safely tall enough to not cause problems as the stove eyes cooled after use? We did some product testing and decided we would like to lower it a bit, to make it flush with the bar in the background. Happily, we decided we could safely do so. I considered different methods for the top portion, ultimately deciding to keep it simple and use wood I already had in the garage. Most of it was straight and true. One piece had a nice twist in it, and I had to use it. So I did. And that’s what makes it artisanal folk art made by a total amateur. Or whatever.

A few weekends ago I got all the cutting and sizing done. And then I trudged through the sanding. It turns out these things take time when you have competing interests. Last weekend we did stain tests and The Yankee applied the chosen blend. Now that has finally dried. Yesterday, and today, I have applied four coats of the top coat, which is a General Finishes product I’m almost ready to swear by. It is a little pricey, but it goes on easy. It cleans up easy. It dries fast and it doesn’t bubble. It seems durable and, the Internet tells me, it doesn’t yellow with time. I applied it to my desk last year and that still looks nice.

Here, I think, is the key: I got four coats of that stuff on last night and today, and finished the project. (Just in time for Thanksgiving, but hey.) Amazing what you can do when you have some free time on your hands.

Nov 19

It’s Friday somewhere. Here. Holiday weeks, amirite?

We are now in the slow weeks. The time simultaneously before and after time. It has been busy, but now it is Thanksgiving week. And next week we will have one last week before dead week and then finals week and then the slow times again.

The office is open this week, for reasons that surpass understanding. There were eight people in the building at one point today.

Dear Mr. Hamlet, the answer is “To be.”

This is the sunset from the parking deck.

This is the black and white version.

This is the same photo, but with some random phone filter applied to it.

Those sunsets are from yesterday. Today it was not appreciable, which may or may not be a meteorology term, in this part of the world, but it should be.

I visited the hardware store this evening, where no one, not once, asked if I needed any help. I didn’t need help, because I’ve learned that, while they mean well when they ask at the local hardware shop, and they are nice and pleasant people about the undertaking, my needs are apparently too exotic or I am, in fact, beyond help.

This is what I needed: Two pieces of hardware. Four screws. Because my latest contraption needs handles, and it is built in such a way that the screws that come with handles are a default length, but my build needs longer screws. I need screws that are one-and-three-quarters of an inch. But the standards are one, one-and-a-half and two inch screws. So I’m going to have to saw screws down to size.

That’ll show ’em.

Also, I needed a countersink screw bit. And I found myself totally guessing on that purchase. (Later edit: I guessed correctly.)

And then I went to the house, and we ran. Or shuffled. Or jogged. Or whatever I’m doing these days. It’s moving faster than a walk, that much is sure.

And then I started putting the finish on this particular wood working project. Tomorrow it will be completed.

After that, the in-laws arrived. This was totally expected, almost down to the minute, thanks to the proliferation of GPS and constant contact via text message. They’re visiting for Thanksgiving, of course, which will be lovely, of course.

So let the holidays begin.

Nov 19

Typing with wood stain on my fingers

Here’s the progress on the recent project. This weekend we glued all the pieces together. So it is assembled:

Gluing doesn’t take a long time, thankfully. But you have to come to terms with the parts that work and don’t work. A good craftsman, I said, does not blame his tools. Fortunately, I continued, I am not a good craftsman. And there’s enough blame to go around.

We’re on to staining. That’s taking a bit longer than necessary because things aren’t drying in the garage quickly enough. Too cool in there just now. So we’ve moved it from the garage to a better, warmer (funny how that works) climate. When the stain dries I will put a coat or two of finish on it. And then I’ll attach some hardware and our work will be done. Hopefully it will make sense and be useful.

Otherwise, I’m going to blame my tools again.

Seriously, I’m working out of my garage. I have to pull the table saw out from under a shelf to use it. I have to pull the miter saw off the same shelf and put it on the table saw to use that. I have a sophisticated cardboard box setup for my belt sander. I sanded individual parts on an old printer hutch. And we’re staining it on a hand-me-down kitchen island because the height it about right.

It’s a delightful shade tree operation, is what I’m saying. This is what I was coming to terms with this weekend.

Not really. It’s fine. The project looks pretty nice. It is the right height, so it will be functional. The color compliments the room — if you’re standing in the right light in one of three previously marked positions — so it will look appealing. You’ll see. The next time it shows up here, it will be in place.

I woke up yesterday to a forecast of “abundant” sunshine. In the sense of it existing or being available in large quantities, that was true yesterday. Here’s a quick shot from my afternoon run:

If we’re discussing abundance in the sense of having plenty, we did not have an abundance. Also, I seemed to be running west the entire way yesterday afternoon:

And it was a fine day. Bright and crisp. A rarity here this time of year, so going for a quick slow four-mile run was the right call.

Here’s the thing. I was just reading about Project Sunroof where you can “discover your solar savings potential.” Like all curious people, I put in several neighbors’ addresses, because Google doesn’t need to know where I live, they can just get close and guess and that’s close enough, man.

The data is really about how much sun your roof gets — because this is about solar panels — the data was disheartening. The calculations on the site suggest that we get about three hours of usable sunlight a day over the course of a year. Solar calculations and energy savings (which appear to be minimal given how our house and its roof are oriented) notwithstanding, that’s not abundant sun.

Also, you can tell this estimate is in the proper vicinity, and know there’s something to that forecast, because the meteorologists at the weather service made the point of saying we’d have abundant sun yesterday. You’d never see such language if it were the norm.

It should be the normal condition, but alas. So far the forecast calls for partly cloudy skies … next Monday. Something to look forward to you.

Nov 19

Just enough to get you into a weekend mood

We’re hitting the books once again. Perusing the periodicals. Reading the rag. Making our way through the magazines. Digging the Digest …

This being my grandfather’s book. I have a stash of them. It’s not much, but it’s one window into his world that I don’t otherwise see a lot. I have a lot of his old books, and we’re slowly making our way through them here. Mostly just to make fun of the things we see inside. So click the cover above to see the latest installments. If you’re not at all familiar with what we’ve added from the April 1969 issue of the Reader’s Digest, you can see the selected pieces right here.

Next week we’ll wrap up the last of this book, and then we’ll move into something that isn’t a Reader’s Digest. Oh, the decisions I’ll have to make. These aren’t difficult decisions, of course. I’ll get to each of them in time. But, still, there’s an entire plastic tub of magazines to consider. And then a few boxes and bookshelves more after that. Which will be next.

It’s something to wrestle with. Speaking of which …

We think they’re brother and sister. Sometimes they act like it. Most of the time they do not, but now that they are recently curling up with one another it’s a cute moment. It probably has to do with colder nights. But whatever it is, it is cute.

And then Phoebe put Poseidon in a dream-induced headlock:

She’s really cinched it on, as you can see, and he’s starting to fade:

The referee is going to call this at any moment:

Not really. They were both calmly dozing. And the refs, us, kind of want her to stick up for herself anyway. So even if this was cute and a sleep thing and no one minded, The Yankee and I took this as a positive sign. She’s giving him the what for!

And then someone moved and there was a repositioning:

He somehow reversed the hold.

That’s the action around here on a Friday night. I hope yours is suitably outrageous, as well.

Nov 19

Sports Nite

I pulled this picture off Instagram, which is why it is a little fuzzy, and also why I converted it to black and white. At the end of tonight’s television production, much of the crew got together. It was the last sports show of the semester. The young woman that directs the highlight show is graduating. She’s been a part of IUSTV for almost four years, and a member of the station’s management for three years. They created a nice little goodbye montage for her. The sports director was anchoring tonight. They’re friends. She, in fact, brought him into the program. To keep the video a surprise he called the package from the desk, which was a cool little moment.

There’s also a few people in that photograph who have been a part of the station for three years or more. There are hot shot freshmen. There are people who, this very evening, made their first on camera appearance. The sports director, who won a statewide award last year, is in there. A lot of these students, working on the same show last year, can claim second-place in the College Media Association’s Pinnacle Awards, which is aptly named. Second in the nation.

When I talked to the group in their post-production meeting tonight — after the director’s cut of the touching goodbye montage was shown — I got to say how different things were when the outgoing director first started here. How much stronger and how much smoother an operation it is. The sports crew have sent three people to ESPN and a handful to local stations across the country in the last four years. But now we’re starting to get good at this stuff.

And I thanked them for doing this. We have a joke that the Thanksgiving week holiday really starts on the Tuesday the week before Thanksgiving. Students have often mentally checked out. And then those cliched “My parents bought my airline ticket, but my flight is on Wednesday … ” jokes. And most of our students don’t have classes on Fridays, anyway. But here they are. Late Thursday night. Most people have skipped town, but the student media are still doing the things they love, with people they care about. It says a lot about what they want to do, and it’s a special thing.

The guy who designed the studio is in that picture, off on the far left. He works with us a lot. We’re both just happy to help this group learn how to do this.