As you may have already read over on Holly’s blog, there’s been a lot of late homework being done around here the past few weeks. Gage has decided to follow the same path I took in high school; do nothing all year, hand in just enough stuff (late) with the hope that with a decent enough exam mark you might scrape by with a 50%, so long as the teacher doesn’t hold all your absences against you. For the most part all this homework just meant I got to play a lot of Call of Duty. I really only get called on for help with anything Mathematics or Computers. I did however help brainstorm Gage’s English assignment where he had to create a myth, write about it, and then create a trailer for a film about his myth.
Holly told him to get at it after we ate dinner one night, and fifteen minutes later he was upstairs asking us for help. He said he didn’t get what he was supposed to do, and was having a hard time deciding on a myth. He was leaning towards the Loch Ness Monster until I asked if he had to use an existing myth, or if he was allowed to create one. I figured the latter would be the easiest option since we wouldn’t need to do any research, and had full liberty to go anywhere we wanted with it. I suggested to Gage that he take advantage of this chance to show his teacher how creative he can be. I told him to figure out a way to tell the story of how he got to where he was in real life with his homework. I figured it would show the teacher that he’s not dumb, he knows why he’s in this mess, and also to create a possible scapegoat. He knows the Xbox is what got him here, so why not make the mythological creature his homework-eating game console?
He started to get into the idea more and told us he had some thoughts and was going to go write, warning us as he made his way down the stairs that he would likely be returning shortly for more help. He came up a couple more times, but after about half an hour he had a pretty decent story about his Xbox (or the Procrastasauras) eating his homework and making him seem like a slacker. Fearing that no one will believe his story he’s doomed to fail the tenth grade. With the story outlined it was now time for us to shoot and edit a trailer. The students who did their assignments when they were supposed to had access to ipads to help them accomplish this. Gage had access to me.
Having never done any video editing before (well, maybe some really minor stuff) I was expected to pull this off in one night. I decided to stay true to my youth and wait until the last minute to find, download, and learn a video editing platform. I did this immediately after dinner while rolling and enjoying my post-meal smoke. I used some footage I shot of Dempsey playing in the snow, added some words, and put it all to a Skrillex track. I figured that was everything I would need to create Gage’s trailer, minus the props and any plan whatsoever. Before dinner, Gage pulled an old, broken Xbox out of the basement and made a robotic looking arm for it out of Bionicle parts. Now all we needed was a few paper props and Gage’s iphone. I had Gage make some fake homework while I shot some footage of the Xbox, then we shot a few scenes with Gage at the table doing his assignment and then entering
Roan’s bedroom his English classroom.
We spent about an hour editing and re-shooting a few things and in the end it turned out pretty decent. I had fun doing it, and I think Gage did too especially when we started shooting. It’s neat to see his school curriculum include stuff like this. I’d like to think that this type of stuff would have appealed to me more when I was his age and aided me in being interested enough to do work and hand it in, but I doubt it. School work is what it is, and that can’t compete with video games and partying with your friends.
After almost six months of cohabitation the cats and dog still rarely interact in the peaceful manor depicted above. The dog is too young still, and full of puppy playfulness. He lacks grace and subtle mobility, which often results in unintentional trampling and frightened cats. Oliver flat out hates the dog. Any time Dempsey comes within a few feet of him it triggers a full range of growling, hissing, and screaming. Shakespeare seems to be open to the idea of being buds with the pooch, but tends to get freaked out as soon as the dog takes notice of him. I also think there is some jealousy issues impeding their relationship. Before the mud coloured mutt showed up it was Shakespeare who got to go out and patrol the yard, now he’s lucky if he gets out more than once a day. I base this on the fact that whenever Dempsey walks by, Shakespeare drops a thousand rapid paws to his face in a split second.
Mr Squirrel however, is the opposite of Oliver. She loves the dog. She plays with him, lays with him, and even tries to keep his big dumb ears clean. At times she gets pretty vocal when he’s being too rough, but she just runs and hides under something he can’t fit his big head under and smacks him until he backs off or barks to the point that we give him shit. Even as I write this they are laying on the bed bathing each other like best buds. I’m hoping that once he gets a little older he either chills out a little more, or develops some dexterity.
Last week it was cold. Not as cold as this week but cold nonetheless. I spent most of my days outside, working on cleaning the yard of our shop, trying to find a spot for all the leftover building materials and rusted old tools. At one point we decided to start burning some of the scrap wood that never gets used. We have an old steel drum in one corner of the driveway that we often use for this purpose, so we tossed a few bins full of end chunks in with some gasoline and started a nice little fire. After about an hour or so the flames started shooting through a hole in the side of the drum. I took the above photo of the hole just a few minutes before enough flames shot out of it far enough to melt and ignite a few bags of oak wood chips that were stacked nearby.
When my boss came out he saw what had happened and decided to just roll with it, rather than try and fight it. He had me tear open the rest of the bags of oak chips, spread them around with a rake, then cover them in gasoline. After that the yard cleaning sped up tenfold. Anything wood, or steel with wood attached to it, got tossed on the fire. Within minutes our little fire was a roaring blaze with fifteen foot flames. It wasn’t so cold after that. Any time I did get cold (usually when my gloves got soaked, then I had to take them off for a minute… when you put them back on they are usually frozen stiff) I would stand next to the fire for a few, and dangle my gloves over the flames.
We kept the fire going for about three or four days, adding any and all flammable objects that we couldn’t justify keeping around, or moving for the umpteenth time. The end result is a much cleaner yard, a whole lot less shit that never gets used, and about two hundred square feet of scorched grass.
One of the last details that was left unfinished in the den was the presence of wall plates on the newly added “pallet wall”. We could have attached the old plates, but they were white plastic, and didn’t compliment the rustic wood look very well. Originally I planned on using a scrap piece of pallet plank to make the them, but it might have been pallet overkill. Instead I used a leftover piece of basswood I had from something I wood burned, and tried my new letter set wood burning tips Holly got me for +mas and the new wood burner (with adjustable heat settings!) my mum got me for +mas. They worked awesome, so I made a paper template of the switch then used a carving knife to cut out the hole and bevel the edges slightly inward. I used my new countersink set I bought just before +mas (for finishing my brother’s giant ruler) to drill / countersink some holes for flush mounted screws – just like real store bought wall plates! I spent a few minutes sanding, then slapped a single coat of stain on and the light switch plate was done.
I had to make two outlet plates as well, which were ever easier. I just traced the old wall plate onto a piece of basswood, marked the holes and did all the cutting with a jigsaw this time. I still used the carving knife to bevel the edges inward slightly, but the jigsaw was a lot quicker and easier on my thumb for removing the bulk of the wood. I managed to make both these plates in a fraction of the time it took me to make the single light switch cover.
In total I’d say it took me about an hour to make and attach all three. Unfortunately, it took me three months to get to that hour, but only Holly is keeping track of that. And as my friend Chef Adi says, “You can’t rush perfection!”.
Although I have managed to avoid cellphone ownership for a large part of my life (come to think of it, I think I’ve owned more pagers than I have cell phones… remember pagers?) from time to time it’s been necessary that I have a cell phone. It’s always been a work related thing, and that’s the case with my current phone. When I got this job I was given a phone and told to keep it on me. So far I’ve used it three times for work texts, twice for personal texts, and I’ve taken about two hundred photos with it. If they’re going to insist I have a phone with a camera, I’m going to insist I take pictures of all the random shit I encounter that makes me stop and think – the fuck is that?
The photo above is permanent marker on the side of a set of steel shop shelves. The shelves have been stored away for years and will soon be put to use in our newly expanded shop. Not sure who Pookie is, but someone likes him / her.
This is some case that was on the second floor of the shop. I asked what it was for, but no one knows. It’s got some sweet squirrel / horse art on it, and either JVK or 2UK had it monogrammed but no one knows who JVK or 2UK are.
This is a panel of a carpet at a nursery school we built cabinets for. I found this funny because the two guys I work with are always using the name Zippy when they can’t think of someone’s name, or they need an imaginary scapegoat to blame a mistake they made on. The same way people say “so-and-so” , or “what’s-his-face”.
This one is Rex. Back once again after hearing the sounds of power tools screeching from across the vineyard. I decided to take a sandwich break and share a little with the handsome wanderer before he got back on the road.
I’m guessing this isn’t what they had in mind when they gave me the phone, or how my boss expects me to be spending my time, but let’s face it… it’s going to happen.
If you’re not familiar with Pinochle I’m not surprised. In my family I grew up playing with my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles whenever enough of us got together and there was a deck around. It’s a fun game for four somewhat similar to Euchre, but with a lot more cards. I’ll spare you the formal explanation of the rules since it would likely confuse and bore us both, plus I’m not really sure the way we play is the official rules. My grandmother was continuously under suspicion for cheating, and some of us suspect that the rules we were taught were more what best suited her and not what the Pinochle gods intended. Regardless of whether or not we’re doing it “right” most of us have a great time whenever we play. I say most of us because my father claims he’s not a fan of playing cards, but I don’t think I’m alone when I say that’s bullshit.
A few years ago my mum asked me if, given my newly acquired woodworking skills, I could make her a nice container for a Pinochle deck and score sheet. I promised to try, and went out to buy some wood. I bought two nice five quarter slabs. One ash and one walnut. My hopes was to route out a few pockets in each piece, hinge the two together and add a latch. Simple. But no. I tried a few times to set my router up to do what I needed, but with a lack of shop space and literally no spare scrap wood to use for making jigs, things got messy. My router isn’t the best, it’s the cheapest. With tools I’ve learned that price matters. Still, I bet a pro could do what I wanted to do with any cheap piece of shit.
This xmas (probably about seven or eight years after buying the wood) I decided to try again. I figured having a big shop at my disposal, and lots of jig making material I could accomplish what I had in mind. But no. The router I had to use was crap. The depth wouldn’t stay locked, the collet wouldn’t stay tight, and the bit was too dull. I ended up trashing one portion of the ash plank and decided to quit while I still had enough usable wood to try again one day. Beaten, but not defeated, I decided to improvise. I decided to use a box I already had, and make an insert to fit inside. Not what I had intended, but it would still be pretty awesome I figured.
I had a piece of basswood in the shed perfect for the insert, so I went and bought a couple Euchre decks (a Pinochle deck consists of four Euchre decks, minus the nines) which I used to measure the the dimensions of the insert. I also picked up a pack of note pads, which I trimmed down to fit in the bottom of the box using a scrap piece of wood, a few clamps and a knife. I then stuck a pencil in my drill, locked the trigger with an rubber band and sanded all the yellow paint off. While the glue was drying on the insert I started burning the design into the top of the box. When all that was done, I sanded everything one last time with 600 grit paper and stained it, pencil and all, a nice oak colour.
Still not what I was hoping to make, but for now it will do. One day when my skills, shop, and tools are up to par I will make what I see in my mind. At least now my mum has something other than a sandwich bag to store her new cards in.