Monthly Archives: December 2012

DIY # 1:Island


This particular item is not overly sexy or innovative, but extremely solid, functional and would look alright in most kitchens.

I designed and built this kitchen island for about 10 dollars.  Granted I had a lot of scrap wood lying around, but it turned out pretty well for being constructed primarily out of old warped boards.  The placement of the screws is the most important part when working with junk wood, because if the screws are in the wrong place or angle, the wood will split or break away from the frame and then you have to cut a fresh piece and hope you didn’t drill a hole you can’t work around.

The method I attempted to employ in this project was the invisible screws approach, that is to say that at a glance no screws should be visible.  In the case of most furniture people don’t want to see lines of nails or screws as a part of the exterior, unless of course their going for the sloppy rustic look.  I will note that I was not completely successful in hiding all the hardware.  Because of the width, weight and a few minor design decisions it was necessary to add additional support to the bottom of the island to make it stable enough for repeated heavy use.  I couldn’t quite sand all the water damage off the slats, but it ended up looking okay anyway as it is in keeping with some of the curvature and obvious hand cuts used to make said slats.


2 Wheels-lots of varieties at home depot, the length of the 34″ 2X4’s below is dependent on the size of the wheels.

6 2X4’s-2 -36″, 2 -34″, 2 -25″

10 1X4’s-2 -28″, 8 -24″

24 1X2’s (I cut these manually and they ended up being more like 1X1.5’s, but you can’t generally buy those) 14 -28″, 4 -25″, 6 -24″-I had lots of water damaged 28″ 1X12’s that I cut up.

lots of 1.5″ drywall screws (don’t judge, it’s all I had)

6- 2″ wood screws

8- 4″ wood screws-excessive, but worked fine.

Sand paper-I used 80 grain, but anything above 50 would probably do.

Power drill

1/8″ drill bit

Phillips head bit

Circular saw

Get all that stuff together and look at the picture.  Island is 28″ wide and 24″ deep.  The easiest way to start is to use the 24″ 1X2’s to connect the 36″ 2X4 to the 34″ 2X4.  The top one is hard to see in the picture, but will be the first one attached and should be flush with the top of the 34″ and 36″ boards.  The positioning of the other 24″ supports determines the shelf height, which is left to the builder’s discretion.  Make sure that the shorter 2X4’s are in the right position to come together properly for the wheels to be on the same side.  Drill holes before you put in the screws.  Use your imagination for the rest.  Comment with any questions.




The building has sixteen apartments.  There is nothing outside the building.  Apartments can communicate with those above and below them, but can only look at the apartments beside them.  Apartments being looked into do not know that they’re being looked into as the apartment that they look into is not the one looking in at them.  Adding to the complexity is the movement of the apartments; apartments on higher levels can descend and look into the apartments below them without those apartments ever having knowledge and likewise those lower apartments can look in at those lower etc…  This activity can result in having the highest apartment looking into an apartment that is observing another apartment that is observing another apartment that is observing another apartment.  The difference with the last apartment being that it is unable to communicate with the four apartments who are observing it and its most immediate observing apartment is unaware that the apartments above are able to descend, as is the case with subsequently high apartments, although they, including the top-level, acknowledge the possibility that apartments higher than theirs might be observing them.  The situation would deteriorate if someone in the apartments above was to tell a resident below that they were being observed.  Another wrinkle is that the bottom apartment can change its perspective by moving to a different position on the grid which in turn changes the default perspective of all the apartment above it.



Photo credit:

Obscenely Complicated


So I’m building things again.  I’m sure I’ll post some pictures of the sadly pedestrian kitchen island I designed in a few days.  On the bright and not-so-bright side, I designed something today that is ridiculously tedious and tricky; the thought of building it causes me nothing but dread.  The bright side however is it would be neat.  I cannot disclose what this thing is because it could end up being a gift, although the chances of me having 20 hours or so to build it between now and Christmas are pretty slim.

To construct this item I will have to craft and assemble over 150 pieces that will fit together in a variety of ways to construct the finished product, which happens to be small, meaning all the pieces will be small, meaning construction will be on the meticulous/maddening side because as anyone who invents or designs and constructs anything will tell you; initial designs/prototypes only work seemlessly about 2 times out of 100.  Also, people tend to get irrationally angry when you build them something and it doesn’t work or look like something from Ikea, Pier One, etc….

I’ll be happy when I’m building machines again.  Building furniture makes me feel like an inept 15 year old in shop class.  At least the properties of electricity don’t change when it happens to be rainy (one of the specifications for the island was that it was at least partially constructed using 2X4’s, which warp in a variety of horrible ways; I hate them very much).  So maybe I build this thing, maybe I just relax and see if I can buy something in the same ballpark.  The potential recipient will doubtless see this post and then more than likely request the ordeal, which might be fun in that desperatetofinishsomethingwithoutcuttingoffafinger way.

Excerpt from deep within “Unwriter”


The drive back to the city was all nerves.  He wanted to tell Phillip, but wasn’t sure he would even care or take action.  Phillip would probably just look sad and continue tinkering with his robot or editing his asteroid book.  Edward’s conclusion was that he would not tell Phillip, but would move out, and while this would certainly leave Phillip in the unfortunate position of having to maintain the rather high rent, Edward couldn’t see the point in his remaining there as nothing but financial support when he could better serve his niece and brother by unobtrusively taking some responsibility in her development as a person; that is to say that he would watch over her and attempt, and this would be the most painful part, to befriend her adoptive parents even though they were likely 12 to 18 years his senior.

Edward also peripherally considered that giving himself this purpose might provide him with something of a more interesting track in life.  Having some undisclosed mission would provide his ego an undeniable boost which could facilitate his learning some skill other than working in a FedEx warehouse.  He would ask Phillip out to a bar and break the news of his exit in a friendly cordial setting; Phillip will doubtless not care, but depressively stare at the bar and state that it’s okay and Edward had to do what he had to do.  Phillip’s sense of isolation, while more theoretical when living with someone, will become undeniably real upon Edward’s exit.  The question for Phillip now is what to do with himself and his time.


Dominic returned home to an empty house.  His parents were at work and his younger sister was in the village with her friends.  The ordeal in New York had left him feeling helpless and hollow.  So many men lost in a fruitless attempt to protect the city.  He wishes he was among the dead; he was in fact the one giving orders, and tomorrow he had to visit the families to inform them of their son’s and daughter’s brave sacrifice in the face of a relentless and reasonless foe.  They will look at him and wonder why he’s standing there; they assume him a coward who left their children behind to die and they would be right.  He hadn’t held the line and when he could have been fighting alongside his neighbors in the heart of a darkening city, he thoughtlessly followed a girl he would never see again out of some misplaced sense of hope that her acts had instilled in him.

Phillip re-reads the section several times and is taken aback at Dominic’s majesty.  The character was obviously ripe for arcing and would be the proverbial carrot to lead Phillip on through the story.  Edward was gone which meant so was Phillip’s only source of casual editorial opinion.  He had taken an apartment in the suburbs and pretty much become a person altogether different from the brother Phillip had grown up with.  Edward was suddenly talking about saving money, going back to school and getting involved with the community. Phillip assumed that all of this spontaneous evolution was due to Edward developing a crush on a girl, and assumed that Edward didn’t want to talk about it because acknowledging his new preoccupation would be admitting defeat in the search for his niece; a pursuit in which Phillip had admitted defeat some time ago.



Initially this was supposed to be at least an introduction to a potential idea for a new book, which it still might become although I tend to doubt it.  The new book was to be about my time in the restaurant industry and the psychological side effects thereof.  I joked with someone that it should be more of a survival guide and she simply said that she wasn’t sure I actually survived.  It was an interesting point and not one that I take lightly; looking back on the roughly 10 years I spent in the industry I’m not sure I did either.  For me to document all the factors that contributed to the perspective that I came away with would be very personal and honestly a bit painful to recount.

It is not as simple as, “This crazy story happened. Wow, that’s pretty fucked up.”  I took my first job out of pure necessity, because who the hell would want to bus tables, mop bathrooms and do dishes.  The circumstances that led to me essentially being trapped in the industry were very messy; yes I know that I live in the United States and things don’t really get that bad and of course I could have tried to get into a different field, and I wasn’t serving in the military, so any mental trauma or symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress are obviously me being overly dramatic in the name of literary license.  Those are a few of the reasons I have trouble justifying what I guess would amount to a memoir.  Lots of people work in the hospitality industry and don’t seem to view it as being dragged across hot coals; some people actually enjoy it, or at least put on that face (from day 1 until day 3,650 or thereabouts across about 30 different restaurants, I was told I wasn’t smiling enough and possessed a questionable attitude).  There was probably a day here, a few months there that weren’t something out of a Dantean version of Office Space, but by and large someone may as well have been following me around hitting me with a lead pipe for 5-16 hours a day (I’m not sure what circle that would be).

Maybe I could write a book about these things, but I’d probably bore myself and feel like a big whiner more than anything.  I made money, graduated college, didn’t lose my house and managed to get out without too much drama, and I’m sure that many others have done the same.  All of the above is more than likely why I prefer writing fiction, because in a memoir you already know the ending in that the person is writing it about themself, so for better or worse survived their ordeal.  I might come around to the idea; probably when I reread this in a month or two.

Review of the movie “Side Effects”


I am aware that this movie has not been released yet and I haven’t seen anything more than the trailer, but here is my review, which may include spoilers that are based on the trite themes that this film will no doubt possess.

Jude Law’s character sleeps with Rooney Mara’s character; they likely have been for some time and this affair or some aspect thereof was the reason that her husband ended up in jail, who based on the amount of time he’s present in the preview probably gets killed or otherwise dispatched in the first or early second act, however because Jude Law prescribed some experimental medication that makes Rooney at least seem a bit loopy, the side effects (titular line!) are blamed for her bludgeoning her husband or someone else (Catherine Zeta Jones perhaps?) to death while in a trance state.  Rooney or some other girl with dark hair appears in some risqué photos which are used to blackmail Jude Law or are simply mailed to his wife to disrupt his seemingly on-the-level existence.  Pharmaceutical companies sure are evil, (go to preview guy voice) but when murder is a side effect (they say death, but they should have said murder) who’s to say where the murderer stops and the side effect begins.

On the other hand the pill might just zonk her out and a doppelgänger type does the murder, kind of the converse of Vertigo and she gets blamed, but can’t remember because of the drug.

Jude Law can sleepwalk his way through this kind of role so does just fine.  Based on the time of year this movie is being released and it’s use of a viral campaign it certainly won’t be considered for any awards, so don’t get your hopes up for Rooney blowing you away, although I’m sure she’ll be competent and pale, or Soderbergh doing anything more than functioning in a Contagion hangover state.  Channing Tatum holds his miscast post Magic Mike ground, but probably rolled his eyes at least once during his first read through of the script due to his being framed in jock-to-be-murdered fashion, or that might just be an angle and this will get all Closer.

I give the movie a B- and advise picking it up from a Red Box on a rainy, generally unspectacular evening, but you were probably going to do that already.


ap-wire-photo-capsule-1969There was time to eat.  It would be hours until her sister came.  No one would find out about her deviant dalliance with the unprocessed.  Distraction.  The item sits on the table unopened; begging for the eyes of the corporal.  It was immutable.  It was telling her to believe in the purpose of things and reason behind rules.  Her sister would see and pick it up.  She would bring it home and mother would understand and would make her watch it be pulverized and purified.  Mother would give her a capsule and send her to her room.  It would not taste good.  It would not taste like anything, but it would be all.  She had to be even and small; without implication, suggestion, or expectation.  It sat still on the table and she had no time.  They would see and know what she had done; they would know, they always knew.  It was in the air and doubtless teeming with impurity.  It would be processed because it needed to be.

Her room would have no light or heat tonight and the door would be locked from the outside again.  Things would be correct soon.  They were taking her to be corrected because there was so much wrong that standardization as worked with her siblings had not taken to her. There were too many things outside the lines to be conditioned.  Her sister did come and find it; no explanation sufficed.  It is how she imagined it would be and she sits on the floor and looks at the door she cannot see.