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Me and Sylvia at the Memorial (April 2009)


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Understanding makes the mind lazy.

Penelope Fitzgerald

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Thursday, December 30th, 2004

🦋 Dovetails cont.

This evening I glued up the frame for a section of the wall unit I am building -- I described cutting the dovetails in my previous post. The end result is pretty good (if slightly off square); but the glueing-up process can only be described as a failure.

The plan was as follows:

  1. Lay the right-hand side board on the bench top, outer face down.
  2. Put (Elmer's white) glue on the right-hand pins of the top and bottom boards, and join them to the side board.
  3. Slide the backing boards into the grooves cut in the top and bottom boards.
  4. Put glue on the left-hand pins of the top and bottom boards, and join the left-hand side board to them.

Straightforward enough -- what I didn't realize was I needed something to hold the top and bottom boards close to each other as I was sliding in the backing boards... I see now that what I should have done, after about the first three backing boards were in place, was fix a clamp to hold everything in place. (I think but am not sure, that my longest bar clamp would be just about long enough to do the job.) Instead, when the backing boards started falling out, I ran upstairs and started screaming bloody murder for Ellen to come help me hold boards in place. And she did, and everything came out all right in the end, except I wish I could keep my head on straight when a problem comes up.

posted evening of December 30th, 2004: Respond
➳ More posts about Sylvia's room

Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

🦋 Dovetails

I've been working for a while now on a wall unit/desk for Sylvia's room; making pretty good progress. I'd say I'm a little ways past the halfway point which means delivery around February. Right now I am framing the upper level of shelf units (the piece is made up of 2 lower units, 2 upper units, the desk, and some smaller "cubby" pieces), and using dovetails to join the frames together. This is about the 4th time I have cut dovetails, and the first I am using them somewhere they will not be visible. (Which is actually probably the better thing to do first -- but it did not work out that way.)

I cut all the pins yesterday and the day before, and last night did my first set of tails, second set this morning. It is going pretty quick and the results are noticeably better than any I have previously done (with one possible exception -- the cherry dovetails I did for a jewelry box came out pretty nice but those don't count because (a) they took me a really long time and (b) I never finished building the jewelry box). They fit, quite tight, with very little adjustment. ("Adjustment" = "messing around with a chisel, trying to make the dovetails fit even though the cuts were not in the proper place".) I'm a little surprised because the cuts are visibly not exactly straight nor square, and the marking imprecise; my conclusion is that dovetails (at least in softwood) are a forgiving joint.

Update: Finished the 3rd and 4th sets of tails, an hour and a half from marking to fitting. And very little messing around with a chisel.

posted morning of December 29th, 2004: Respond
➳ More posts about Home improvement

Tuesday, December 28th, 2004

🦋 New computers!

Stepping boldly into the late '90's, Ellen and I are making the switch to broadband. I ordered an ADSL connection from Speakeasy and Ellen tells me the setup kit arrived today, so I will be setting it up this evening. Also in the mail today are our new computers! Two ThinkPad notebooks are what we will be using from here on out -- this is the first computer I have bought since the Sharp notebook I bought in 1993 and used until it died -- for the past 5 years or so we have been using a desktop which Xyris threw out when they upgraded their computer systems.

I am taking a brief vacation for the rest of the week -- do some work around the house, get our new network set up, get a new driver's license... We are spending this weekend at a bed & breakfast in Lancaster, PA, with Michelle and Kaydi.

posted afternoon of December 28th, 2004: Respond

Saturday, December 25th, 2004

🦋 Singing Along

Sylvia has gotten interested in singing along, it seems to me like all of a sudden though probably in reality, it is something that has happened gradually. Some stuff she is singing lately -- "I've been lighting all the candles" (scroll down), a Hanukkah ditty sung to the tune of "I've been working on the railroad" which she learned at school; "Little Birdie" and "Weary day", both learned from a folk music CD that we play in the car a lot; "Happy Birthday", she sings a lot regardless of whether there is a party currently in progress. While she was taking a bath this morning with Ellen, I heard her singing "Jackamo fee-no ai nané, Jackamo fee nané" -- the chorus of "Iko Iko", which I've been playing a lot on guitar since I got interested in it recently.

posted evening of December 25th, 2004: Respond
➳ More posts about Guitar

Thursday, December 23rd, 2004

🦋 Be of good cheer

These lyrics (from The Kinks' "Father Christmas") keep on occurring to me the last few days:

Have yourself a merry merry Christmas
Have yourself a good time
But remember the kids who got nothing
While you're drinking down your wine

So Merry Christmas everybody! And here is a cartoon for the season.

posted afternoon of December 23rd, 2004: Respond

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004

🦋 A simple water-saving home improvement

In the course of remodeling our bathroom, which will happen next month, I will be installing an on-demand hot water recirculation pump I bought from Advanced Conservation Technology of Costa Mesa, CA. I am just speaking on supposition right now as I have not used the pump yet; but it just seems like a really good thing to do without any downside -- you get your hot water without standing around waiting; and you avoid wasting ~10,000 gallons of water/year that would otherwise run down the drain while you're waiting. So I'm encouraging anyone who owns their own home to do this. It's not very expensive (~$350) or difficult to install. ACT is not the only company that sells these pumps. has an article about them.

posted afternoon of December 22nd, 2004: Respond
➳ More posts about Bathroom Renovation

Wednesday, December first, 2004

🦋 Sideways

We saw Sideways tonight and I was just blown away. I don't think I have been so moved by a buddy movie, with the possible exceptions of Y Tu Mama Tambien and Thelma and Louise. For a while I was feeling really resentful of Jack and Stephanie for having such a good time when Miles and Maya were really much more deserving -- this was of course a facile and limited reaction, and I recognized it as such. Really, a beautiful movie -- go see it if you have the chance.

posted evening of December first, 2004: Respond
➳ More posts about Sideways

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

I'm reading Crossing the Rubicon by Michael Ruppert, at Nathaniel's behest -- this is the first I am finally getting around to reading one of the huge spate of books produced by the political events of the past three years.

I have a problem with Ruppert's assertion that the human population explosion was caused by the availability of fossil fuel energy. (At least he seems to be making this assertion.) If you look at the graph that he claims shows this, the beginning of the explosion clearly dates back to the time of the industrial revolution. I believe that the availability of fossil fuels postponed the day of reckoning -- they allowed humanity to feed and (mostly) shelter its burgeoning ranks a little longer than Malthus thought we would be able to. With peak oil having passed that reckoning is now looming ever nearer.

posted afternoon of November 16th, 2004: Respond
➳ More posts about Crossing the Rubicon

🦋 Oh no! It's happened!

Well I seem to have joined a group blog, at least to the extent that my name is listed there and I have put a post up. Living the Blues is getting off the ground pretty slowly; my friend Mike ("Cavour") started it up as a response to the election and posted these inspiring November 3rd Theses but not too much else has happened there yet.

Oh and speaking of friends starting blogs: Be sure to check out Ted Says.

posted afternoon of November 16th, 2004: Respond

Friday, November 5th, 2004

🦋 A pleasant Saturday plan

Got some nice plans for tomorrow -- taking Sylvia in to the city to go to the WFMU Record Fair, whence Hova and Belinda will be broadcasting the last episode of Greasy Kid Stuff before they move to the west coast. (They will resume broadcasting after the move.) And hopefully find some cheap, sweet blues CD's. Then we'll head out to Brooklyn and go to the zoo, and have a snack with Ed, and later on meet up with Jim and Limster for Armenian dinner in Queens.

posted evening of November 5th, 2004: Respond
➳ More posts about Sylvia

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