Friday, October 31st, 2003
Must be the season of the witch!
Saturday, October 25th, 2003
And another family picture album entry:
Thursday, October 23rd, 2003
Developed pictures of the two projects I have finished recently:
Thursday, October 16th, 2003
Patrick Farley's Electric Sheep, home of the IMO best comics on the web, celebrated its 5th birthday yesterday. Patrick marked the occasion by unveiling a new front page, the first step in his planned redesign of the site. Go check it out -- there is a poll where you can ask for the new comic you would most like to see. (Hint: vote for Apocamon 4!)
I have linked several times over the past little while to Arthur Silber's blog and just wanted to mention that you should really be reading it. He is a fine writer and really good at finding interesting stuff in the chaos of the world. He is on my blogroll to the left under "Libertarians" of which he is one -- my blogroll is beseeching me for some reorganization but that is not going to happen just yet.
Wednesday, October 15th, 2003
I want to write about the beauty which I hope one day to create. Beauty I believe is in one sense a quality infused into objects by an artisan by the application of his skill. (The obvious truth that there are many other valid meanings of beauty, many involving neither artisan nor object, should not detract from my examination of this particular one.)
An artisan -- the master of a craft -- this is what I hope to be. In particular I want to understand furniture-making fully enough to create pieces which possess the grandeur and solidity of 17th- and 18th-Century American furniture pieces; which can stand in a room and lend it firmness. To get to that point I will need to work enough with wood to get a real familiarity with the material; and to work enough with my tools that they become extensions of my body.
Update: Here, Mike Recchione says some of what I am trying to get at.
I don't care what kind of tools were used to make the things I have, or even whether they were made in a factory or somebody's basement. The thing that counts is how much of their divine spark the makers put into what they were doing.
I want to write about the type of beauty which I think is essential to -- look, here is the problem: I have this idea to which I am trying to give voice; but I can't get sentence 1 out of my mouth, out of my keyboard -- "I want to write about", this is good, this is what I am trying to say; "the type of beauty", well, that's vague, I'm talking about an æsthetic judgement, so I say "beauty", and I say "type" because there are other possible judgements -- I want to denigrate them but I can't start right off as claiming the point I want to prove, and anyway what point is there in making earnest argument over æsthetic judgement? But ok, let's keep "the type of beauty" -- "which I think is essential" -- "essential"? "Essential to"? To what is this beauty essential? I want to say this judgement, this beauty, is at the root of my essence, it is an important aspect of my psyche, and I want to universalize my experience and say that such beauty is or should be an integral part of a person. But to say as my first sentence that this beauty is essential to my sanity, that does not seem meaningful; and to say that it is essential to our continuance as a psychic community, that sounds pretentious and in the end meaningless too; so what do I say? What do I mean?
Look, I want down the road somewhere to be saying "the problem with modern consumerist society is..." and then finish that statement with a clause describing how my special form of beauty is not sufficiently appreciated hereabouts; at least that is where I see this essay going, the one that is that I sat down to write before I realized I could not write even one sentence of it. But is that really an idea I want to spend my time developing? This question is rhetorical, so I realize as I ask it; the answer to it is "no"; I am sitting down to write the essay with the wrong goal in mind. The proper goal, and one which would bear having me spend some time and effort in attaining it, is to describe the judgement I have in mind and to point to admirable examples of such beauty, without complaining about the times it is not sufficiently in evidence. In this way I may be able to get my point across.
I've been listening to a CD over and over again for the past few days; it is "Dark was the Night" by Blind Willie Johnson. Every time I listen to it I like it a little better -- and I did not dislike it to begin with! If anything could persuade me to believe, it would be good gospel music like this.
Last week I bought a portable CD player, which I had been meaning to do for a while now. My thinking is that I will listen to music on the train to and from work and that, with repetition, I will come to a deeper understanding of the songs. This is certainly happening with Johnson -- I had thought his songs were quite simple, with few lyrics and not much happening on guitar, and that his main attribute was his awesome voice; but in reality there is quite a bit of musical complexity under the surface, and the lyrics have some pretty insightful bits that you don't catch until the third or fourth repetition.
Jim came over last night and we played blues for a couple of hours. He is really into Leo Kottke and is showing me some neat stuff. We played a really long set of songs in D (I was using dropped-D tuning and he was using open-D), jamming from one into the next; I discovered that it is hugely confusing to jam from "C.C. Rider" into "Stagger Lee" (and probably vice versa) because the songs are quite similar in certain ways -- in mid-verse I will forget which one I am playing and slip into the other one.
Tuesday, October 14th, 2003
I've been interested for a long time in learning to play blues using alternate tunings. I may finally have found my avenue into this; namely dropped-D tuning. It is standard tuning, but with the lowest string tuned a full step down. I liked the key of D a lot already and this makes it a lot more fun. Specifically, I'm using it for "Down on the Corner" by Creedence; "Stagger Lee" by John Hurt; and "C. C. Rider" by John Hurt. A nice side effect of using this tuning is that it's encouraging me to play up the neck rather than staying in first position all the time. You can play really nice stuff on the G chord by fingering G bass on the 5th fret with your thumb and fingering the treble strings on the 3rd through 5th frets. (And don't play the A string.)
Mike told me he was having a lot of fun with open-G tuning and I'm looking forward to experimenting with that some.
Researching lumber sources for the past few days I came up with this idea: I want to make a page devoted to lumberyards and sawmills in the area. There are already a number of online resources (including the very useful Woodfinder) which I am not really trying to duplicate; what I want to make is a list of personal picks from ww'ers I know and trust -- i.e. the WoodCentral crowd, as well as CJWA members. I have posted requests for recommendations in a couple of places and will see what comes of it.
I will be using this post as a holding area for candidates as I work on the list. Candidates so far:
- Hutt Lumber, Newark
I found this in the phone book while looking for soft maple for my upcoming bookcase project; I have not found anyone who has bought lumber there, but I think I will use it because they have the right price and are nearby. No weekend hours.
- Monteath Lumber, South Amboy
Recommended by several people incl. Lee Alexander, Phil Vitale, Bob Sheppard. They offer a 10% discount to CJWA members.
- Rosenzweig Lumber, Bronx
My primary source when I was in NY and they are still close enough by. No weekend hours.
- NJ Hardwoods, Plainfield
Recommended by Joe Hurst and by Bob Sheppard.
- Wolbach Sawmill, Easton
- Agincourt, Belle Mead
- Bay Ridge Lumber, Bayonne
- Northeastern Lumber, Jamesburg
- US Mahogany, Matawan
Recommended by Lee Alexander, Jack Feinstein, Philip Berman. 10% discount for CJWA members.
- Medford Cedar Products, Bordentown
Recommended by Jack Feinstein.
- East Coast Log, Bloomsbury
Recommended by Steve Antonucci. Wow ‚?? I just spoke to the owner of East Coast Log and he confirmed all lumber is $2/bf. He is around on Saturdays from 10-4. He has a lot of turnover so not all species will be in stock all the time.
East Coast Log
50 CR 639
Bloomsbury, NJ 08804
- Casterline, Morristown
Recommended by Mike R. -- the man who works there gave him a lot of help though he did not end up buying the lumber. Also by Philip Berman who says they are a bit expensive.
- Center Lumber, Paterson
Recommended by Philip Berman.
- Jay Samuels, and Rich O'Connor of WoodFinder, both write to recommend a number of smallish sawmills in NJ and PA.
- John Aniano writes to recommend the unfortunately named Rippoff sawmill in Allentown, NJ; Mike Obertlick's sawmill in Howell, NJ; Willard Bros. in Trenton; and Josh Cavet's mill in NJ.
- Congden Lumber in West Orange: very close to me and they have hours on Saturday morning.
Drop me a line! or, sign my Guestbook.
Check out Ellen's writing at Patch.com.