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There is a cat sized hole in my heart.

Cricket

July 10, 1997 – August 25, 2017

I lost a good friend today. He was my constant companion for a little over 20 years. My first pictures of him were taken with a 35mm film camera (remember film?). He was born a tiny, talkative ball of grey fluff with big blue eyes. And while the eyes would later turn green, his ongoing attempts at conversation earned him the name “Noisy Cricket” (a reference to the movie “Men in Black”).

He was a huge cuddle monster and loved to snuggle up with my other cat Fuzzy. When she got sick, he stayed on the couch with her and kept her company.

When Fuzzy finally passed he did much the same service for me, spending almost a solid week either in my lap or following me around the loft. He always knew when I was sad and always wanted to help.

For quite some time, it was just the two of us, and he really seemed to come into his own oddball personality. Much of this seemed to involve finding unique places on which to perch himself and chatter at me. He would climb up onto the ceiling in the loft and perch like a fluffy gargoyle. This was a little disconcerting in the darkness, with just his green eyes staring down at me.

He also like to get on top of the refrigerator, hang his head upside down off the edge and beg for head scratches while I cooked dinner.

For his frequent yodeling practice, he preferred the acoustic properties of the bathtub, where he would sing to me the songs of his people and gently maul my rubber duck collection.

He was also an enormous flirt. When I lived at the cotton mill lofts, I was on the ground floor right next to the pool. This was a high traffic area in the summers. Cricket had a favorite spot in the front window and when women would pass by, he would start rubbing himself back and forth across the window and meowing to get their attention. They would come to the window and coo over him and he just ate it up. He didn’t do this for guys and I have no clue why.

He was eventually joined by other cats. The first was Valentine, an equally fluffy white cat who became his snuggle buddy. Together they helped to insure that any clothing I owned had a visible amount of cat hair on it (I have spent a small fortune on lint rollers). The two of them managed to share lap time without issues and spent a considerable amount of time sleeping in a small cat pile.

Later on, Missy came into the picture. At first, she and Cricket did not get along. Missy had been outdoors on her own and was probably borderline feral when she first adopted me. It took a bit of time, but she eventually warmed to Cricket and spent a huge amount of time grooming him. Often to the point where he looked like an extra from the movie “Grease.” After some adjustments, Missy joined the cat pile and all was well.

For most of his 20 years, Cricket’s favorite place to sleep was on top of me. This was fine in the winter, but a little warm in the summer. I sleep on my side and he would just stretch himself out along my other side and purr. I would wake up sometimes in the morning and just find him there, with no memory of him climbing up onto me in the night.

I think I will still feel Cricket’s weight on my chest for a while, even though he isn’t there anymore. He was a good cat and he will be missed.

Wooden Lightsaber Mk II

This is my second attempt at a wooden lightsaber. This is the first one I have assembled out of a batch of 4. I will put the other 3 up for sale at $125 each. You can reach me at shogun@12ftguru.com if you are interested.

Wormhole

More adventures in turning wood into weird shapes…

 

DragonCon Photos

It’s that time of year again. Time to get inspired by the creative cauldron that is DragonCon. Special kudos to Connie for the fantastic River Tam cosplay (and for being a huge Gator fan).

 

The After Christmas Santa Post

As usual, Santa’s workshop has been very busy for the past few months. These are a few of the things I made for Christmas this year.

 

The Long Delayed DragonCon Picture Post

It pays to have friends who are insanely talented. Case in point… I took a picture at this years DragonCon that I was really pleased with. The lighting hit just right and I got a great shot. My only problem was a few stray people in the shot. I posted it on FaceBook with a lament that I wish I could get rid of the people.

Enter the insanely talented Amanda McKenzie. She performed some kind of crazy magic and removed all of the people. Mad Skillz… She has them. Also possibly some kind of Dorian Grey thing going on…

The untouched original... Pre Amanda Magic

The untouched original… Pre Amanda Magic

People are gone... Magic.

People are gone… Magic.

And the rest of the photos….

MyPlay: Why customer experience matters

A good customer experience can be a heck of a great marketing tool, but a bad customer experience can be more toxic than a reality TV marathon. So let’s talk about MyPlay.com…

Tonight on The Turntable: American Football

A discussion of music that may have just gotten away from me a bit. It involves math-rock, taffy and living an heirloom experience, click the link and read on…

Old Habits II

What is it about vinyl? Skips and defects don’t seem to matter the way they did when CD’s first came out. CD’s were so amazing for the clarity, but I hated the smaller package. Not enough room for art, not the same physical experience. I could overlook it because a lot of my vinyl had been worn to a frazzle. Bad needles, multiple moves and play after play after play. There were days I could have sworn I was born in a set of headphones. The ability to disappear inside of music, not passively absorb it, not use it as background, but actually listen.

Old Habits

I restarted an old habit these past few weeks. Vinyl records.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I already have about 1000 vinyl albums. I got out of the habit when CD’s got big (about 500 of those) and I dropped CDs for the most part when audio streaming went mainstream.

I have a Spotify account and a Pandora account, but increasingly music has become a background thing; something to listen to while doing other things.This is probably the way most people listen to music.

However, there was a time for me when music was the thing.

Contractors II: Global Builders Restoration

funny-pictures-owls-twisted-headAfter the previous 2 months of crappy contractors, I had high hopes that things were going to be looking up. I decided to go back to Global Builders Restoration. They had put a roof on my house about 2 years ago and had done good work. They did good work once, they can do it again right?

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Contractors

Dude! My berries are frozen!

Dude! My berries are frozen!

I have been kind of quiet here for the last few months, but with good reason. On Tuesday, it will be 6 months since my water pipes froze and burst during the first freeze of 2014. This two part post covers the last six months of my life as I attempt to recover from the freeze. I am writing this, not as a list of woes and worries, but to ask a simple question; what the hell is wrong with contractors?

January 8th

pipes1It’s the second night of the big freeze, Delta Plumbing responded quickly in the emergency, and while I might quibble with the pricing, given that fact that they were working round the clock to fix things and the fact that they came when they said they would (8pm on the first call), I will tip my hat to them and say thank you.

Soggy carpet and 4 industrial fans means 3 days in a hotel with 3 cats.

Soggy carpet and 4 industrial fans means 3 days in a hotel with 3 cats.

The man from Delta had recommended a contractor called Apex Mitigation services to handle the water removal. Like Delta, Apex came when they said they would and responded very quickly and efficiently. The only knock on them was that they managed to nick one of my alarm wires.

This was totally not their fault, as we didn’t know where the wires were run and since it was only a nick, I didn’t even know they had done it until over a week later when the alarm would start intermittently beeping at me for no reason. Not a big deal, I just had the alarm company come out and track down the break and fix it.

The electrician sent out by My Alarm Center had the old school habit of stripping the wires with his wire cutters. As a recovering electrician myself, I have done this in a pinch, but it always runs the risk of  creating a weak spot in the wires if you crimp to hard (much like the previous issue he was there to fix).

Sure enough, I was in line for the bank later in the day when I got a call from the alarm monitoring station that my alarm had gone off. I went home, discovered the bad splices and just re-did them myself. Irritating, but it could be worse. Yes… yes it could.

Apex had recommended a renovations contractor called AYS (At Your Service) to fix the kitchen and bedroom water damage. They came out and did the initial walk through with the insurance company and I talked through a number of potential issues with them. One thing I was very clear about was that we would not do the demolition of the kitchen until the new cabinets where actually in our hands. I had no urge to be weeks without a kitchen (ah the naiveté of youth).

February 20th

As the weeks passed I had a horrible time getting AYS (Assemble it Your Self?) to call me back when I left messages. No one could tell me, when the work was going to get done or even when they would come out again. They missed 3 appointments including two days when I stayed home from work to wait for them. The final straw was when they called weeks later to say they would be out to demolish the kitchen the next day… without even asking me what cabinets I wanted to order. Are You Serious? I have a 8 foot square of bare concrete in my bedroom and the kitchen counters are starting to sag. Nothing was started and the communication was awful. So AYS got fired.

March 5th

I did a bit of looking around and decided I would let Home Depot do the carpet in the bedroom. If they did a good job, I would get them to do the kitchen. Home Depot’s subcontractor is a company called Romanoff Renovations and they made me feel all kinds of stabby.

Basically, the carpet guys wanted to leave me with my bedroom in my kitchen

Basically, the carpet guys wanted to leave me with my bedroom in my kitchen

Having dealt with the alarm wires in great detail since the original damage, I knew exactly where each one came up near the wall. I took great pains to point each of these 3 places out to all of the guys working on the crew. You need to be careful here, here and here… They managed to cut Every… Single… One.

At first, they just wanted to continue putting in the carpet, then they started talking about just leaving and then, despite being told not to on multiple occasions by both myself and their own supervisors, they started trying to fix it themselves.

I was eventually able to get an alarm technician to come out on an emergency service call to fix things and check the system. After far too much aggravation, they were able to get the carpet finished. Romanoff agreed to reimburse the cost of the repair, which was the least they could do… and in fact, all they would do.

To add insult to injury, their check for the reimbursement came with a legal release statement which basically said that by signing the check I agreed never to ask them for anything else. I will state this as plainly as possibly, I would not hire Romanoff Renovations to build a birdhouse. If I was legally able to ask them for anything else, I would ask them to go fuck themselves. Home Depot should pick a better class of contractor.

By this point at least I had carpet, so all things considered, it could be worse… much worse in fact.

To find out just how much worse things could get, read Contractors II: Global Builders Restoration

A Simple Blanket Chest

I finally finished up a six board chest for the end of the bed. The top is from a project I made when I was about 19. It consists of a key collection, laid on a plywood back and sealed in acrylic resin. Throughout it’s life the top has been part of a coffee table, a box for books and now it becomes a chest for the end of the bed. it has some bumps and scrapes, much like it’s builder, but it seems to have held up okay.

The bottom of the new chest is cedar, so it smells nice inside. The rest of the chest is stained plywood. Traditionally, these are made out of pine or a common hard wood, but I had the plywood on hand, so I went with that.

The fun part was trying to match the original stain from the old top. After trying about 4 different types, I actually found one already on my supply shelf that was pretty close.

I think I may add a chain to keep the lid from flopping back too far, and possibly some handles (This thing is heavy). However, I will have to wait for the cat inspection to be completed.

Next I think I am going to add one more set of shelves to the closet… but first the celebratory Scotch.

Baby Stuff (Not mine – Don’t panic mom)

A baby rattle and the first of a set of blocks, for Elizabeth and Aaron Karp (or more specifically, for their baby girl). The handle gives it a bit of a royal septer look. However, since I am sort of assuming Aaron’s first child will be named “Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All” that should work out just fine.

The head of the rattle was my first chance to work with a hollowing tool. I need some more practice, but it was fun to fiddle with.

The cherry wood blocks will be part of a set of 10 counting blocks with a number stamped on 4 sides and a corresponding number of paw prints on the other two sides.

 

Closet mods part II

Added a new section to the closet modifications. One step closer to being rid of the evil white wire rack shelves. The bottom section will get doors put on it. Then I get to switch over to the other side of the closet.

This provides a good bit of space for king sized comforters and my oversized suitcase.

A Valentines day project

I am generally of the opinion that we should be good to people all the time rather than only on certain celebrated days. However, this was one of those late night ideas that rattled around in my brain until I let it out last weekend. I am very pleased with the results.

These can be made with colorful scrap wood or leftover pen blanks (cedar is nice because of the smell). For those of you interested in how stuff gets made, a full project description is available over on lumberjocks.

Closet Organizer

Built with a single sheet of 4 by 8 baltic Birch Plywood and a bit of poplar for banding the edges. Cat approved! This is the first step of the closet renovation to hopefully remove all of those white metal racks and replace them with some nice wood. I added some canvas drawers for color and they turned out very nicely.

Christmas Wood 2013

Some of the Santa output for 2013. Cheese boards, a small platter and a Ball jar full of balls (Hows that for meta?). I am curious to see how many people recognize the design in the middle of the smaller walnut platter.

Playing around with a sphere turning jig from the folks at ChefWare Kits. I like it a lot so far. There is a bit more play in it than I expected, but I think once I get used to the setup, I will be able to cut down on some of that.

The spheres are much more consistent. It’s not really quicker, but all things considered, I like it. I even tried my first spherical box. I have discovered that a friction fit lid on a spherical box is not really the best idea… it has to be pried loose.

Live and learn.

Next up, I need to try a saturn shaped box. 🙂

Red Oak Tool Chest

This is a chest for tools and small pieces of wood, done in red oak and oak plywood. I was not terribly thrilled by the quality of the oak plywood. The veneer was very thin and tended to split along the edges.

However, all things considered, it’s not too shabby for shop furniture. It has me thinking I want to tackle something big like an armoire or a nice chest of drawers. Just need to remember better quality plywood for the case.

Vase

Not sure I ever posted these. The vase is spalted maple. This stuff was wonderful to turn a polished up to a beautiful finish. I was very pleased and it made a lovely gift.

The tiny boxes are in leftover scraps of cherry wood. I have enough to make about a dozen more. Not sure what I will put in them, but they are fun to make.

Hmmm…

The look that says “Not sure where you are sleeping tonight buddy.”

Three cats in a king bed.

Three cats in a king bed.

In case you didn’t know…

This is my happy place.

Where the magic happens

Where the magic happens

Builtins Part 2

Finally got started on the right side builtin for the living room. I got the case together about two weeks ago and the top assembled the week after that. The install and glue up went pretty smoothly. Now I just need to add the shelves on the right side. Then I can finally get all of my glassware out of boxes. It’s been almost two years since I have seen some of it.

Then I think it is time to make beer and throw a party!

Recent Wood

I had forgotten to post these up recently. This is a small bowl in Tulip Poplar and a larger bowl in Cherry Burl (a gift to a friend).

I have a few more pieces of the burl and I really want to work some more with it.