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Battle perfection with incompetence!


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Saturday, April 30th, 2005

🦋 A First

I have many projects in my woodworking portfolio that took longer than they should have taken -- furniture pieces generally take me two months minimum and it's always been a source of frustration for me. But tonight I built my first piece of furniture (well, more "finish carpentry" I guess) that I finished in a single session -- 3 hours from a board to installation. It is a built-in shelf in our new bathroom. The main time-consuming part of it was carving out a recess in the surface of the shelf -- basically I wanted the shelf to have a lip around its edge, so I chiseled out the area inside the lip with my new set of gouges*. I was able to get it quite flat except for one corner where the grain is funny -- there is a rise and a depression there. But everything is quite smooth.

The shelf is mounted between the moldings of two doorways. I had been thinking for a few days, that a shelf would be nice there, but could not figure out how to do it. This evening it hit me -- pocket screws! I have never used pocket screws before; but I cut pockets for them out of the board with a chisel, and it worked just great. After we finish the painting in Sylvia's room I am going to post some photos of various home improvements we have been doing; I will be sure to put a shot of this up.

(Here is a post I wrote at Woodcentral about the technique I used to hang the shelf.)

* I really want to recommend these gouges by the way. If you enjoy carving wood they are going to add dramatically to your enjoyment. They are 18 fishtail gouges in various widths and sweeps, plus two parting tools, available at the low low price of $200 from Woodcarver's Supply. I say they are "new" but I actually bought them about a year ago and have used them lightly a couple of times since; this is the first heavy work I have done with them. When I saw them I found them too good a deal to pass up; plus I love fishtail gouges, and I only ever see straight gouges for sale elsewhere.

posted afternoon of April 30th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Bathroom Renovation

Friday, April 29th, 2005

So the garden is going like gangbusters. The bulbs I wrote of previously are still out (the tulips in majestic force), and I can't mow the lawn because it is full of daffodils and hyacinths. Plus: the shad bush which Ellen planted in back last year is in lovely white bloom. Some purple flowers on the side of the house that I don't know the name of. The two azalea bushes (one in front, one in back) have thousands of crimson buds out. Of the three bushes we planted next to Sylvia's sandbox, one of them has large white flowers on it; I think it might be rhododendron but that guess is random. The other two I thought were azaleas but I don't see anything happening on them. The lilac bushes, two years old, have a couple of flowers. Many buds are visible on the dogwood and it should be coming in soon.

For Mother's Day, Sylvia and I are going to buy Ellen a myrtle tree to plant in front. It will be a couple of weeks though until the actual purchase transpires, as Ellen's preferred nursery is Foliage Farm in Kutztown, PA.

Update: Checked my memory impressions when I got home. I did not get everything right: for one thing I forgot the phlox, which is very much a part of the first impression you get from the garden. And: the bush is a rhododendron; and the others are azalea, and they have some small buds on them too. And: now that I get a good look at the back yard I see there are a lot of light-colored violets toward the back of the yard, on the lawn and in the garden, and some small pink flowers closer to the house.

Update: Ellen writes:

hi jer,
just read your recent posts, which i enjoyed very much. just to add about the garden: there are bleeding hearts now - remember when they are finished, they are really done for - they disappear magically into the ground til next spring, so worth taking note of. it was fun explaining to sylvia why they are called that- not many plants have such literal names. i divided one of them a few weeks ago into five separate plants and placed them around the garden, where they are all in full bloom, if smaller. also - i think it's worth noting that we have at last count, about 15 different varieties of daffodils, some of which are incredibly untraditional looking - like a pale yellow almost peony-like one on the side of the house, and another that has multiple orchard-like blooms on one stem. for anyone in the market for bulbs - it's worth getting a daffodil variety pack and not just the samo-one shape of yellow kind. it's really been a trip seeing what comes up - and they stagger in bloom- so we've had them for almost a month and they're still appearing. sylvia and i picked out a bouquet of them, each different, to bring to school, so the kids could see so many types of one flower.

posted morning of April 29th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about The garden

Thursday, April 28th, 2005

🦋 Game skills

Sylvia has played enough Monopoly at this point to be able to make change (sometimes) and add currency (more frequently; she is particularly good at making $90 out of $50 and two $20's, and $70 out of $50 and $20, and has the hundreds down pat). This is fun to watch and help out with. Also: this evening we played backgammon for the first time in a few months, and she knew how to do it -- when we played before, I would need to tell her which pieces to move and to where; tonight I was still helping her quite a bit with which pieces to move, but she understood straightaway how to do the move. Does not sound real impressive written down but again: a lot of fun to experience, and I got an inkling of what it will be like to play with her when she understands the game. She is also very interested in using the doubling cube, I wonder if she will be attracted by gambling. I ended up trying to play a back game and got gammoned.

posted evening of April 28th, 2005: Respond

Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

Talking with Nathaniel on the phone tonight I mentioned that I am in the middle of Ulysses and he replied that he is too, for a few decades now.

posted evening of April 27th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Ulysses

"Hades" -- I read half of this episode on the train last night and was having a pretty hard time following it. But this morning restarted the chapter and lo and behold, the story flowed quite smoothly.

posted morning of April 27th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about James Joyce

Monday, April 25th, 2005

As I read Ulysses, I am finding that I enjoy the narrative chapters (so far, "Telemachus", "Nestor" (or about half of it), "Calypso", and parts of "The Lotus-Eaters"), the other ones (so far, only "Proteus" has been a real offender) put me to sleep. This morning while reading "Proteus", I was just finding it impossible to pay attention to the book and was thinking about putting the book down if it didn't draw me in soon.

But then this afternoon I started in on "Calypso" and I was back on track. This chapter is actually the one that made the most of an impression on me the previous times I tried to read Ulysses -- when I think of the book, the first thing that comes to mind is Leopold Bloom eating kidney. This afternoon my response to the chapter was to get very defensive about being submissive in relationships; as I realized what I was doing, I was able to let go of that somewhat.

posted evening of April 25th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Readings

🦋 Sorting on multiple keys

Searched around for a while on Friday trying to figure out how to invoke the UNIX sort command with multiple keys. I eventually found what I was looking for but now can't figure out where I read it. I will make a note of it here as it seems to be pretty difficult to find -- it took me about an hour of Googling to come up with it.

Each key you want should be specified as a separate parameter to sort, in the desired sort order. Each can have its own sort order specified. So

sort -k 1,1 -k 2,2n
sorts on the first column, then the second; the second column is sorted in numeric order. (This is incidentally the behavior I was looking for.)
sort -k 2,2r -k 3,3
sorts the second column in reverse order, then the third column. Etc. It looks like there are other syntactic ways of specifying the same behavior; but this one definitely works. (At least with sort in Cygwin and I'm assuming in other non-Cygwin Linuxes.)

Note that I'm using "column" in this post to mean "whitespace-delimited field" -- i.e. if you (say) imported the text file to be sorted into Excel, each field would take up one column. There are also parameters to sort that let you specify the field delimiter. Also the -k parameter allows you to specify that the key is made up of multiple fields or of substrings of a field or fields. I did not use any of this and would recommend you examine the man page before you use it.

posted afternoon of April 25th, 2005: Respond

Saturday, April 23rd, 2005

🦋 Home Improvement update

I spent today putting the chair rail molding into Sylvia's room and spackling various bits in the room to prep it for painting, which Ellen will start tomorrow. (this afternoon when I took Sylvia to the library, Ellen finished touching up the paint job on the cabinets.) The molding is a bit freehand; I wanted to match the chair rail which is in the entry way to the room (the room is part of an addition to the house built in the mid-20th century; the entry way is part of the original house), which is a pretty simple curve. I went to Home Despot and found that all the moldings they sell as "chair rails" are big things with lots of compound curves and would look ugly in this application. However they sell a baseboard cap which is pretty close to what I wanted, except with a lip at the bottom and an extra curve at the top. So I bought that, and just shaved off the top and bottom with a block plane. Not too bad for ~24' of molding, but it would quickly become onerous with much more. (Also while I was at the HD I got hardware for Sylvia's playhouse, which I am certainly going to start on this week.)

posted evening of April 23rd, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Sylvia's room

Friday, April 22nd, 2005

Well having polished off (with mixed but generally positive results) Call It Sleep and Foucault's Pendulum, I turned my attention this morning to the king of the intimidating books, Ulysses -- a book that I tried to read when I was about 16 (and gave up after one or two chapters) and again when I was about 20 (and gave up about a third of the way in). The binding of the edition I owned back then crumbled, and when I turned 28 and was given a Barnes & Noble gift certificate by my parents-in-law, I bought another copy; which has been on my shelf ever since.

I was reading Chapter I on the train this morning and enjoying the back-and-forth conversation (actually mostly "forth", I think Buck Mulligan is much more talkative than the other two -- also he seems like a bit of a flamer, is my first impression anyways). A Frolic of His Own made me dig this way of representing conversation -- with dashes and no quotation marks -- and it seems pretty natural now.

posted morning of April 22nd, 2005: Respond

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

The revelation (or summing up) at the end of Foucault's Pendulum really was excellent and made the book worth while. (Though I do wish he had spent a little less effort on putting together Belbo's journals -- there could have been half as much of that or less without negatively impacting the effect.)

I felt at the end much more in sympathy with Casaubon than I had been before and it makes good sense that I should do -- he is after all the narrator, and plus his relationship to Lia and his son made me flash on my own relationship with Ellen and Sylvia.

posted evening of April 20th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Foucault's Pendulum

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