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All Stoned Up

May 11th, 2011 4 comments

Achew!! Excuse me… sorry, but the dust on this blog is thick. Not wood dust unfortunately, but the normal kind of dust (i.e. mostly Soylent Green).

I’ve been up to my neck in kidney stones lately (well, down to my urethra, actually). I’m an avid kidney-stoner. Last year I did five. Over the past several months I’ve passed a handful of stones. Two required ER trips and another required lithotripsy to break up and allow to pass through the plumbing. The lithotrispy method uses sound waves to break up the stone. I wasn’t awake for the procedure but I believe it involved pressing a boom box against my lower back and blasting “That’s the way, uhh-huh, uhhh-huh, I like it”.

The real “ball-buster” of the three was the middle one. With an obvious middle-child complex this one would not go quiet and unnoticed, as middle children should. In fact, it caused me so much pain that I decided to go the ER and I never go to the ER anymore when passing stones. I’ve learned that lesson. The car ride is tortuous, there’s usually too long a wait, and I’ve noticed that sick people tend to congregate there.

In this instance, the ER was in fact packed and we were informed that it would be hours before I would be seen. I would have cried more if I had more tear ducts (I am not a man’s man… I’m barely a woman’s man). My mother suggested I feign passing out to get more urgent attention (she also coaches slip and falls in case you’re looking). Luckily, my pathetic state drew enough attention to get me bumped up and drugged up.

As I walked out of the ER with a new lease on life, a young child in obvious distress began heaving. I had instant empathy as he began to spew and I thought “awww the poor…” at which very moment my thought was interrupted by vomit hitting my shoes. Immediately my thought switched to “awww… that’s my shoes” (my sense of empathy has always had a vomit cutoff switch).

With my MIA explained, let’s just move forward and take a look at a little pictorial gallery of some woodworking things done in moments where my junk wasn’t on full tilt pain. I am looking forward to getting back in the woodworking and blogging saddle (I’m, of course, going to mount the saddle very, very gently for a while).

I made some boxes. Lots of figure in these materials. Lots of tear-out to deal with. More on that battle in a future post.

Figured Boxes

Apparently I did some crack and then made miter keys. While I was never in the boy scouts, I do believe in being prepared (a miter key badge would be appreciated if a scoutmaster is reading this).

Got miter keys?

Sliced up some ebony for box parts. I hadn’t planned on doing that but my hand was forced as the blank was face-checking like crazy. I presumed the moisture difference was just too great between the faces and core. It did seem to work as these thin boards haven’t checked at all.

Ebony Mini-Sticker

Well, it’s been a pleasure seeing you again. Now, if you will excuse me, I’ve chit-chatted too long when I should be making more miter keys (miter keys are the new cowbell).

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Bending Over: The Untold Story…

January 14th, 2011 3 comments

It was a cold and snowy winter day long ago in Jersey and all was quiet. Actually, It was yesterday and kind of loud as snow plows grumbled through town (I’ll just stick to the facts going forward). Late in the day, I was engrossed in deep thought (code for being on the toilet) when I was struck by a realization (more of a realization splash-back if you will… and you probably won’t).

After an afternoon of shoveling, one thought had been frozen in my mind and that was that I am not a big fan of bending over (save metaphorically of course). This realization thrust me into a reflective mood where I relived one such bending-over battle of the past, against a very game shop vac. Would I prevail? Would the shop vac break me? (Spoiler alert: “yes” and “a little”)

I’m sure there are others out there like me… When faced with a bending over proposition such as picking up dropped money, petting a beloved animal, or washing our feet, we pause to perform the cost/benefit analysis.

Oftentimes we are able to talk ourselves down with rational logic… What’s money good for anyway? My pet already gets food; does he really need affection as well? I’m not dating at the moment; feet washing would seem to be completely optional. Plus, if we think creatively we find work-arounds… if I “pet” my dog with my feet, he will get his needy affection AND he very well may be inclined to lick my feet clean.

Over time I’ve noticed a correlation between my happiness, or lack-thereof, and the number of times I bend over on any particular day (numbers furnished upon request). One of the greatest offenders of making me bend over was my shop vac. Anytime I wanted to remove chips from my bench top I had been forced to assume the position in order to reach the “on” button (artist renderings furnished upon request).

My initial attempt at circumventing my shop vac’s sadistic demands was to employ an X10 remote. X10 is a system that uses an RF remote to send a radio signal to a receiver plugged into an outlet. The receiver then sends an electrical signal over your home wiring coded to a another unit plugged in elsewhere. And *Poof* my shop vac would turn on and once again make my dog question whether I am a God (I would stare at him intensely at the same time to sell it even further). Basically, the X10 system is like the clapper for those too lazy to clap.

Sadly, as if the universe sensed my undeserved joy of remaining fully erect while turning my vac on and off, the system failed. I pressed on and off on the remote perhaps forty to fifty times and nothing (I felt doing it more than fifty times would be pointless). I then spent an hour or two attempting to figure out if it was the remote, transceiver, receiver, or vac.

Throughout that down time I thought about just plugging in the vac and turning it on. A simple, quick, and easy way to allow me address the shavings that lay on the bench in full taunt (suck it word nerds… I just evolved your language). But I knew that was a slippery slope back towards bent-over resignation.

Eventually I determined that it was the transceiver module that had crapped-out. Replaced with a new unit I was back in action… for, a couple days… before the universe intervened once again in exactly the same fashion. It became obvious that the electrons at my home were hell-bent on making me hell-bent (over).

I’m known to McGyver my way around a situation and worked out a new solution. I attached a power strip to the back edge of my bench using Xtreme Velcro (actually it’s just industrial Velcro… until they get wind of my genius rebranding idea). By simply reaching over my bench I can flip on the strip and thus the shop vac. I could also reach-around the end of my bench to get things going but that just seems gratuitous to discuss at this point.

And before I can be accused of wastefully filling shop vac bags with fluffy shavings let it be known that this is NOT the case as they are prefiltered out with the Dust Deputy (I would have used the Dust Sheriff but I shot it). There’s that and I just wrote a post on bending over, soooooo… oh, and as a matter of fact, you just read a post on bending over, sooooo… we both have bigger issues.

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A Brief Interview.

November 20th, 2010 9 comments

Just having a little fun… enjoy…

Six month challenge to go pro

May 4th, 2010 12 comments

Two Tuesday’s ago was a dreaded day at my workplace. My company decided to jump on the current fad that is known as layoffs. 700 of us would need to go. The direction given to employees the day before was to come in, sit at your desk, and wait for the call from 9-11 am. At 9:23 my phone rang and a chapter of my life abruptly ended. This probably sounds like a bad thing. Far from it…

As a software developer in “Corporate America” the work was rarely enjoyable and frankly completely devoid of any sense of real satisfaction by it’s nature. It involved endless hours of sitting idly and staring at a fixed distance. In retrospect, it is possible that the sitting idly part could have reflected negatively upon me. In any event, after 15 years of it, I definitely feel a change is and will be healthy. But change to what? Well, If you know me, you know that my interests and aspirations lie in woodworking and donkey training. Donkey training is a bear on the back so woodworking would seem the better fit.

So here’s the deal.  I’m giving myself 6 months to attempt to make and sell woodworking items, specifically keepsake boxes to start. At the end of this challenge I’ll evaluate whether there is any chance that I could do it for a living. If not, I’ll stow away my soul and find another software job (I’m making gagging sounds right now).

Initially, I plan to make keepsake boxes. A design I fell in love with was Rob Cosman’s wood hinge box. His instructional DVD on making the box is a perfect tutorial. I’ve emailed Rob to ask permission to start out making his style boxes for sale and he graciously permitted me to do so. At some point, I expect to have a fit of creativity and put my mark on things.

Contrary to my generally delusional mindset, I know the odds of this panning out are slim (like pick-4 slim). I’m also cognizant of the “grass is greener” mentality, meaning that when this hobby becomes a job I know some of the currently fun things may, and will, become not so fun things. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? So with that, I will now discard all remaining TPS reports and pick up my woodworking tools.

Things I look forward to during the challenge:

  • Working my hours. My sleep clock hasn’t worked in decades.
  • Pooping in private. I’ve never really enjoyed a good BM at work with feet atappin’ in the adjoining stall. In fact, the bathrooms at work broke every principle that should be observed in a proper bathroom (perhaps worthy of it’s own post).
  • Being active… the sedentary nature of my previous job was the worst. If you closed your eyes and just listened you could actually hear your arteries clogging from your last vending machine run.
  • Just being free from “Corporate America”. I no longer live in fear of HR!!! I can walk around my new workplace cursing like a sailor and slapping people on the ass (given that I’m the only employee I’ll have to get a little creative on that one).
  • Not being employee 013776 anymore. My entire adult life I have been a number, in the Navy and in a ginormous Fortune 500 company. Working for myself I expect to be recognized as employee of the month at least twice a year.

Things I do NOT look forward to during the challenge:

  • Arguing with the boss over what constitutes “extended Oprah breaks”
  • Removing dried glue from clamps more frequently
  • The hazing I am preparing to do to myself (everyone has to pay their dues)

My six month challenge shall commence on Cinco de Mayo which, so happens, is an observed holiday at my place of business (finally, a day off!). I do reserve the right to lay myself off anytime after 30 days, unconditionally and without notice if i haven’t sold one million dollars worth of boxes (Shhh, this isn’t true… I ‘m just managing expectations of myself… it’s a corporate motivational technique intended to induce anxiety and despair as soon as possible).

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A joint that was not intended to be knock-down

January 20th, 2010 6 comments

I’m writing this post with one hand and on drugs (so… a pretty standard post). No, it’s not because of a woodworking accident, thankfully. And no, it’s not because I’m “multitasking” my other hand at the moment. The reason is that while I am fairly skilled at roller-hockey I was not so skilled one day recently and ended up shattering my wrist.

As you can see from my x-rays, I am now part machine. Let me hasten to add that parts of me are still human. Before you pure humans cast me from society, I ask you… If you prick me, do I not bleed? I’ll just go ahead and answer that… yes, yes I do bleed. So please do not prick me. That really was the point of all this. I just don’t want to get pricked going forward.

Some lessons learned in regards to having your wrist in a cast:

  • It’s OK to stick stuff down the cast to itch things… but do not, I repeat DO NOT, proceed to sniff that scratching object no matter how tempted you are. There’s never a happy ending to that story.
  • It feels natural to club things. I’ve accidentally whipped the cast around and clubbed doors, a plate of food, and my face (twice). In an unrelated event, I just ordered a baby seal off eBay.
  • You must get used to placing objects between your legs, using your thighs to secure them. I even peeled a banana this way… it felt ironic. I was fairly comfortable with this technique until I was in full squat with a 2 liter soda wedged all up in there… the soda was from a pizza delivery guy who I’m going to say needs new shocks on his car. One of those moments when there’s no where to go…. nowhere to hide.
  • Your groin is not the only place to stick things to handle/manipulate them…  Armpits, teeth, and other places will allow you to administer a python-like grip depending on the item at hand and your willingness to experiment. As Clint Eastwood said  as Sergeant Highway in Heartbreak Ridge “You adapt. You overcome. You improvise“. He also said “I’m mean, nasty and tired. I eat concertina wire and piss napalm and I can put a round in a flea’s ass at 200 meters. ” other than the “tired” part, none of that really applies to me but it seems like a bad ass way to end this post.

Seeing the forest from the trees… in my dining room.

August 3rd, 2009 8 comments

Tomorrow an appraiser will be visiting and assessing my home for a refinance. It seems that someone has run up some serious credit card debt, possibly related to tool purchases, and needs to consolidate. Sounds pretty standard right?

Well… ummmm… I’m freaking out a bit as I just took a visual survey of my home and I can envision an appraiser torpedoing the deal if they were to lack the creative vision necessary to see past how I’ve decorated the spaces. I imagine an appraiser is accustomed to seeing a dining room with perhaps a dining room table. Mine looks like this (these pics show things in a messy state… the notice on the appraisal was short leaving me little time to get organized):

Curly Maple for dinner?

Lumber buffet.

I must say that downdraft tables have long been overlooked in the dining room. Tired of having to pick up stray chips, pretzels, and cheerios from your dining table? What about trying to round up all those elusive crumbs? These nuisances instantly go away with one touch of a “start” button.

Going with the workbench motif

Going with the workbench motif

And yes, those are horse stall mats on the floor.

I’m guessing an appraiser is also unaccustomed to seeing a kitchen like this:

IMG_3435

My spice rack. "A Dash of Stanley No. 3 sole rust makes any dish pop."

IMG_3455

Requisite lathe for turning potatoes into fries (I actually saw that on a DVD once).

Even the living room is more like an office with a desk and light table in the middle of the room. It’s also where I store a post drill press (intended as a functional tool for the garage one day… the gears run like butta).

IMG_3456

A living room? I probably should tidy up before taking pics, huh.

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Standard living room accessory

If at any point I feel like the appraiser isn’t going to look past the current design of my home I’ll be prepared to remove him from the picture assuming the appraisal company will just send another one? Or maybe I should splatter red paint along the walls of one bedroom and just explain that “this is where I take people that prevent me from getting what I want”.

An observation that I made while writing this post it that I’m down to having exactly one chair in my entire home. Playing musical chairs when friends come over is going to end rather abruptly.

*** update: As is the norm for me, I didn’t get to publish this until a few days later. So, I can also report that the appraiser arrived and upon walking into my “dining room” exclaimed “Wow! I love this place!” and repeated that in mantra-like fashion until he left…  so I may have lucked out and am encouraged that things may go forward. My nerves are much less frayed. ***

A quick thank you…

July 17th, 2009 11 comments

Some days nice things just happen (and as we know, the other 363 days what’s mostly happening is something that only a dung farmer can appreciate) and I had one of those days recently as I noticed that the kind people over at Rockler had blogrolled me. Thank you Kim for this brief lapse in judgment!

In all honesty, as each day passes, I’m just proud that the references to me out there on the web are not for something embarrassing, such as a youtube video of me being caught riding a pony completely drunk wearing only a diaper (If I wasn’t clear there, I’m the one wearing the diaper… the pony is completely drunk).

I will strive to post more on topic about woodworking. In general though, I’m just trying to have a good time here… and for me a good time is writing a post that others find amusing, then a little disturbing, and ultimately nauseating. That is the cycle of life for my standard post.

Now time to head off for the weekend and celebrate with some beverages and Rhonda (Rhonda’s my pony). Wooohoooo!

Rhonda getting ready to party

Rhonda getting ready to party

Man versus groundhog

July 9th, 2009 5 comments

Mittons forraging

I was at the bench today and looked out my backyard window and saw this little guy foraging around. “Mittens”, as I like to call him, is a groundhog that lives in the bank of a stream at the end of my property. It’s hard to ever get a good look at him because, as rotund as he is, he usually skitters away before I can get anywhere nearby. But like many animals, he’s apparently susceptible to predators behind glass which is where I took photos of him.

Now that I think about it, I did have a previous, odd encounter with Mittens a few years ago. I was detailing my now estranged Mustang, “Sally”, and all of the sudden I see this huge mass of an over-sized, rat-like creature blazing towards me. I jumped back about 5 feet and yelled for a particular matriarchal family member as the rush of life and death encounter with nature consumed me.

After calming down and changing my pants (people who know me, know I have a tendency to piddle during such events) I get on all fours and look under to see it’s just Mittens chilling under my car. I had never seen him in front of my home so I guess he got a little lost and as it was an extremely hot summer day he was probably just ducking for cover and catching his breath. So I resume detailing the car assuming he will leave at some point.

Not the case… as I finished up, I got back on all fours (my standard workplace position) and tried to talk him out… he went with the “if I don’t move, he can’t see me” tactic and continued to lay there, motionless. I started nicely with “hey, little buddy, time to go”, then shouting “boo!” and lastly, in desperation, tried your momma insults such as “your momma is so ugly everyone thinks she’s a possum”. Not even an acknowledgment of my existence (Mittens win).

A Hot Mittons is an unhappy Mittons

A Hot Mittens is an unhappy Mittens

Needing to move my car and having little desire to get his innards all gummed up in there, I switch to plan B and try to poke him with a stick. It got him to move, but he would just continually move out of poking distance (Mittens win). Time for plan C, I get in the car and lay on the horn like there’s no tomorrow. Amazingly, no signs of retreat or surrender by the groundhog, just a few cross-eyed glances by passers-by as they just see the unstable individual honking at his garage door (Mittens win).

A disinterested Mittons

A disinterested Mittens

Finally with plan D there is success. I grabbed pepper spray and a stun gun…. kidding PETA, I just squirted him with a hose and he ran away defeated by the more intelligent species… or he ran away thinking “it took that idiot till plan D to figure out that I just wanted to be hosed down to cool off” (I win?).

Coy Mittons

Coy Mittens

Why is common wildlife so amazing to me? Well, I live in NJ (exit 4, so you don’t have to ask). While NJ is nicknamed “the Garden State”, as decreed by our license plates, the only thing we seem to be growing anymore is condos. In my backyard is one of the remaining 56 49 (I originally wrote this a couple months ago) trees in the state. So when I see some wildlife in my backyard, it always intrigues me…. along with the natural curiosity if I could capture and kill it for sustenance in a survival situation.

Mittons being Mittons

Mittens being Mittens

Warning: Attractive minds may cause harm

May 20th, 2009 3 comments

I had a brain MRI recently and while flipping through the pre-MRI questionnaire I had to pause when one of the questions was “do you grind metals?”

Like anyone else, on occasion I’ll grind on some metal if I’ve had one drink too many… especially if it’s particularly shiny or in the form of dancing robots (as in the video below). But nothing out of the ordinary and I wondered how this was even relevant in the first place?

On second thought I realized that they most likely meant abrasively removing metal which of course I do all the time on the grinding wheel and even most recently sharpening carving tools on a belt sander.

Wanting to get the MRI done, my eyes dart left and right, and my mind thinks “nobody knows… I can do this”. Thinking it through a little further, my brain does me the favor of envisioning my head inside a massive electromagnet with metal floating in my veins and what the resulting experience may be like.

So without further hesitation I do what I have to do and quickly grab the nurse… she’s offended… I figured what did I have to lose? My metal-laden melon is about to explode so I might as well get a cheap thrill first (plus, in all the educational videos I’ve ever watched the nurse always seems receptive). Anyways, it turns out I can still do the MRI if a head x-ray called “orbits” comes up clean which it does so I’m green-lighted.

Since I’m claustrophobic my anxiety level was already on the high side as I know my head is going to be strapped down and my body inserted into a tiny canal (I almost made a phallic analogy here but I realized I would represent the huge penis in it). The technician gave me some blinders to wear which really helped… have to say though, after being harnessed in and blinders put on I was waiting for someone to feed me an apple out of the palm of their hand as I felt like a horse being broken. I just went with it and whinnied whenever I felt nervous, which is to say every moment.

While inside the machine, I wondered how large a metal particle needs to be in order to be spotted on the orbits x-ray? I mean I use 15 micron silicon carbide belts on the sander which make super fine metal dust. Are particles smaller than the resolution of the orbits scan not going to be pulled through vein walls and into my virginal gray matter? In theory, my heart was beating during the MRI so couldn’t have some of these particles decided to take the road trip from the lungs to the brain during the scan?? I guess getting answers to these questions would have been prudent before doing the MRI.

Trust is both a wonderful and dangerous thing. I guess there was no damage done, although I have noticed that I now tend to face polar north when standing idly.

In the end, I survived the MRI and the results come back negative which was rather deflating… I was so hopeful that they would finally confirm the existence of a brain after all these years. Oh well, time to go oil my joints (a reference to the brainless Tin Man, not a euphemism for self-pleasure (this time)).

Note:  certain artisitic freedoms were taken in this post and it should be noted that no robots or nurses were actually inappropriately grabbed or grinded upon.

Plans for complete obscurity foiled!

February 4th, 2009 10 comments

In an amazing development for me, I’ve been blogrolled by “The Schwarz”… That’s right… the man, the myth and the legend of woodworking himself. Do I deserve such an honor? Absolutely Not. Will I take it and perform a happy dance? You bet your sweet @s$. Will I be posting a video of me doing the happy dance? Officially, No, as we do not permit torture in this country. Unofficially, if people do not leave comments on this blog feigning interest such videos may just pop-up and I can’t be held responsible for the resulting trauma.

With this post I’d like to give newcomers to my site who are clicking over from Chris’s sites a proper welcome. Soooo, hi there.. how ya doin? Can I be your friend? Am I moving to fast? Is this coming across as “needy”? Ok, just forget what I’ve said… moving on…

You may be asking yourself why you should read my blog. My suggestion:  stop asking yourself so many questions and just go with the flow for once.  I mean really, what’s with giving yourself the third degree all the time?!? You’ve ended up here and thus it must be destiny that you are to forever read this blog (You’ve always been told that karma was a bitch, but no one ever warned you about destiny did they?) Anyways, what I offer is a significantly warped/skewed view of the world of woodworking and the world in general. I tend to treat all subject matter in double entendre, sexual inyourendo, and general immaturity. I am currently in therapy for this but the prognosis for change is not looking good. Please accept my apologies in advance for this medical condition of which I have no control over.

You may notice that many of my posts are non-woodworking related. This evolved over time as I noticed that it seemed to increasingly annoy my readers, a.k.a. my co-workers, who were expecting and demanding content related to woodworking. While this social experiment has yielded me great personal joy, I promise that I will endeavor to keep material at least tangentially related to woodworking.

As far as what I have to offer in regards to discussions related to practical woodworking… well, ummmm… this is where the plume of smoke would appear as I attempt to flee. A discussion for another time, suffice it to say my first two years in this craft have involved great study and preparation for a life dedicated to this passion. In future posts I’ll elaborate on my rather unconventional beginnings and the rationale behind. If your looking for real woodworking knowledge please see the links in my blogroll. You’re probably already familiar with them, but if not they are must-reads!

Lastly, thanks again to Chris Schwarz. His refreshing perspectives on this age-old craft and witty writing style have been inspiring to me (may appear to be just overt brown-nosing, but is in fact,  unadultered brown-nosing wrapped around genuine sentiment). As I have become more and more engrossed in this new world of woodworking, and even blogging, I’ve sought to model the qualities of several woodworkers out there and Chris would be my “top model” in many respects (although I can’t necessarily speak to how he looks in hosiery so please don’t ask).

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