Thursday, February 28, 2013

Winter Dreams The Same Dream Every Time

An old man lies in a hospital bed, dying of nothing. His son sits in a chair fit for a lobby and waits. The snow slants down outside the window. It's collected in the corners, where the brick meets the sash, and formed a kind of porthole into a world gone beneath a winding sheet.

Some sort of machine wheezes and sighs. Every voice is a murmur like a pew near a confessional. The son wonders if there's any noise of life in this place. No tinkle of a fork on a plate. No hammering of seconds on a clock. Music has never entered the building, and never will. The memory of the jarring blast of metal bells on the old man's phone in his walkup parlor would sound like a calliope here. Everything that passes sounds like a black mariah, the horses with burlap on their hooves.

The old man says nothing, just looks at his son, and begins to cry. His son can't help it, he begins to cry, too. They cry for the same reason. The son doesn't want to be left alone in this world. The father is afraid to leave his son alone in the world he's made for him.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Exactly The Same Kind Of Different

Haven't written much lately. Mi dispiace. I've been working day and night for weeks on end.

There's a picture of a batch of Evangeline Tables that went out this week. Some had gone out earlier, and some customers have asked me to hold others until later dates for one reason or another. It was fun to see a half-dozen of them lined up at a time. Thanks to everyone that bought one. I hope you like them. It was gratifying making them. I'd make more, but I used all the flame birch material I had. Not sure when I'll be able to get more like that. I admit that I was a little befuddled that I was able to make tables that look like those. I didn't think I was capable of such a thing.

They do not look like a machine made them. You can tell that they are made by a person. That's a double-edged sword. Some people might think that objects that look like a person made them would be a kind of defect. Our machine age brooks no competition from the apes. But no one that reads my blog thinks that the evidence of the hand of the person that made a thing detracts from the item itself -- just the opposite,  I imagine. It's interesting to make 32 turned legs at a time, and try to make them all the same. Exactly the same kind of different, is more like it.

This winter has been beastly. Really cold weather started really early in the year, and never let up. Snowed a lot, too. My wife and son and I had to shovel for two days straight last week, after a blizzard, just to get a truck in and accept the cardboard I use to package furniture. Everything is uphill both ways this time of year.

I'm also making a big table for Julie and her family, who reads and comments here. It's taking too long to finish it. It's been too cold in my shop to finish a table that big properly. The small ones you just bring by the woodstove and there's no problem, or bring them upstairs into the house. There is an old saying about commerce: I am your friend, but my business doesn't know you. I am Julie's friend but my business hasn't known her properly. The winter's back is broken now, and the table won't be long now. I will not sleep properly until it goes, and until the one I'm making for my friend Arlan is done, too. Unfinished business keeps a man up at night.

I have all sorts of odds and ends that have collected since last fall in an alcove outside my children's bedrooms. It's a neat little spot, a dormer with a window built entirely to bring light into what would be a very dark hallway otherwise. Whenever something gets made that doesn't have a home right away, it goes there. It's the best furnished room in my house, and it isn't a room, and no one goes there. It's time to empty it out and use the proceeds to buy food, or fritter it away on other silly things like that.

Here's an experimental Console Table. It's two inches less wide than my regular size. It's 14 x 32 by 28 inches high. Honey Pot. My wife is starting to look at it funny -- the same look she gave the stray cat that's lived with us for over a decade after the look. Time to get it out of here. $399 includes free shipping:  

Honey Pot Console:
SOLD! Thanks, Emily in Virginia
Here's another of the experimental sized Console Tables. This one is dyed cinnamon. 14 x32 x 28 inches high. $399 includes free shipping.

Cinnamon Cottage Console:
SOLD! to old friend Ruth Anne down Carolina way. Many thanks!
I've got two splay-legged tiger maple Kipling Tables. They're very strikingly grained. The snapshot camera I've got doesn't do them justice. They're both stained cinnamon. $199 each, includes free shipping.

Kipling Table 1 in cinnamon stain:
SOLD! Off to the the Pacific Northwest

Kipling Table 2 in cinnamon stain:

Here's a solid quartersawn white oak Shamrock Table. The top is very wildly grained, but the lighting isn't too good for the photo. 15x15x28 inches high. $249 includes free shipping

White oak Shamrock Table in cinnamon stain:

SOLD! Thanks, Julie in Florida

I used to make an item called an owl house. They featured it in Cottages and Bunglaows magazine, IIRC. I made three simplified versions of the old design. No steeple. It's entirely made of clear pine, with a cedar roof. It's painted with exterior paint. The interior is left raw, like birds like it, and there's a "ladder" that goes from the floor to the hole for fledglings to climb to get out to learn to fly. You can pull two pins on the sides and the bottom swings open to clean out a nest. It's really rather large: 14x11x21 inches high, with a 3 inch hole. The box and hole is sized for small owls and larger birds. In Maine, we have saw-whet owls, which are dreadfully cute. $99 each, includes free shipping. 

Owl House in bog red:

Owl House in green:

Owl House in Verdigris:
SOLD! to Kevin in Philly. Many thanks.
I have really nice neighbors here in Maine. I gave some birdhouses last year to some ladies that live downa street. They know all about birds, and they got bluebirds to nest in the houses. Marvelous. Bluebirds are hard to attract, but they tend to stay where they like it, and attract others. You can put bluebird houses in a row, like along a fencerow, for instance, and they move in. I tried doubling down on my luck. Here's a bluebird house with three compartments. Each compartment is entirely separate from the others, and they're all exactly the size of the bluebird-approved houses I made. Birds, except martins, don't really like to live together, but the two end houses face away from one another, and the one in the middle faces forward. Bluebirds will live back-to-back with other birds. There are no perches; bluebirds like diving straight into the holes. The back roof unscrews to clean it out. The back has false windows, too. It's made from pine. The inside isn't painted. Birds hate paint inside their houses. It's 8 x 16 x 9 inches tall, with three 1-3/8 inch holes. $49 includes free shipping.

Bluebird house in white:
SOLD! Thanks, Linda in Tejas

Well, that's the lot. If you like anything, hit the buttons. If you like more than one thing, you'll have to buy each separately, because there's no "Shopping Cart" for these Buy Now buttons. If the button disappears, that means someone else beat you to it. But don't worry about my family and me if you don't see anything to your liking. Whatever doesn't sell I'll burn for firewood. Hey, a BTU's a BTU.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

They Suffered For Their Music -- Now It's Your Turn: Unorganized Hancock

The likely lads are back with a new Arctic Monkeys song, Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts. Not much chance of anyone prying any girls away from these two, but they have to sing something. And I can assure you it's plenty arctic in the room they're playing in. Got no heat.

Many, many thanks to everyone that has supported the boys in their musical endeavors. When they're famous, you can add "impresario" to your business card. According to Google, they're already more famous than the actual Unorganized Hancock, which is a real place. Well, I guess it's real. No one's ever returned from a trip there, but I like to look on the bright side of things. Perhaps they were eaten by bears. The alternative -- that they decided to stay there -- is too depressing to contemplate.

[Update: Many Thanks, Kathleen M, for your generous support! And Dave R's continuing support is a wonder. Good advice, too. Many thanks!] 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I'm Too Busy Making Things To Write, So You Get The Process Is The Product From 2011 Again. I Wonder If There's Some Sort Of Meaning In That

I come not to bury Jacques Jodoins, nor to praise him. He doesn't require anything from me, anyway. He is a watch with the hands and the stem on the inside, and the gears facing out. But he is interesting to me.

His workshop is perfect for the Intertunnel, isn't it? The Intertunnel is just a big Jumbotron for us to act outrageous on, on the off chance we can get the camera to linger on us during a time-out. Indecent exposure or marriage proposal, doesn't really matter what you do, you'll have your moment on YouTube eventually.

But Jacques did not produce that midden of moil for our amusement. He wasn't trying to get in Guinness or astound Ripley or even catch the woodworking world's eye in the form of that video. He was amusing himself, first, last, and always.

And what's wrong with that? Honesty is what you do when no one's looking. He's truly honest. He's not going to take all that stuff down now that he's been on the Jumbotron and start building the world's largest train set in its place to take another bite of the attention apple. He was what he was, is what he is, and will remain whatever that makes him. He'll die down there, and I imagine he'll die happy.

I know what everything in that basement is. Every last thing. I don't have 1/2 a percent of it, and if offered, I'd turn down the gift of most of it. And I make furniture every day, for a living.

Unlike most of the world, I am not allowed to have the Process be the Product. At the end of the day there has to be something tangibly different with the world or we don't eat. Sometimes we don't eat anyway. Most of the world we inhabit now is all Process and no Product. What is Twitter, or Tumblr, or Facebook, or a million other things you could name that consist solely of: This is how I go, when I go like this.

The federal government thinks the process is the entire product. The public school system can produce only public school teachers. The EPA is now supposed to protect the air from humans. The Department of Energy doesn't make any, and would prefer you didn't as well --or else. Cities like Detroit are trying to exist with no population now. Search your mind. You'll have to search hard to find exceptions, not examples.

I have a tendency to notice things that others overlook. It's not my fault I notice things; don't be hard on me. There is no furniture of any kind, not even a component of a piece of furniture --there isn't even any sawdust-- anywhere in Jacques workshop.

He is happy there. Let us praise him. He is our God.

(Thanks to old StumbleUpon friend Maxismax for sending that one along. StumbleUpon. Heh.The process is the product.)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

When I Walk Down The Street, People Whisper To One Another: That Dude Can Plane

Woodworking in Japan is a revered tradition. America has a weird version of the same thing -- or maybe we're normal and the Japanese are weird; you decide. But humans of any kind, in any walk of life can make a contest out of anything.

Every once in a while, people want to see where I work. Some expect a very elaborate place full of highly refined and complex tools. Others expect a kind of lutherie shop, filled with arcane and rustic tools and jigs and so forth. They're all surprised that there's next to nothing in my shop other than the things I make. I'd have the same set of tools if I was framing a house, or making a kitchen cabinet, or a fence. You need to store it, handle it, measure it, rip and crosscut it, smooth it, fasten it, and finish it, no matter what it is. The rest is a kind of judgement, or discernment. Judgement is ninety percent of it.

Schools teach anti-discernment now. You'll have to find it somewhere else.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dorf On Golf And Sprinting And Murder

This morning, while my wife was taking a shower,  I waited for her in our bedroom. I knelt down on the far side of the bed, and when she came through the door, I shot her with a Nerf gun.

It's the little things in this world you treasure.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cupid Still Calls At A Pretty Girl's Door

I'm beginning to think only the Victorians understood romance. Most everything before that was rutting. Everything after was a tax form. It's not called Eleanor Roosevelt's Secret for a very good reason, you know.

I live in a Victorian house with a Victorian woman and raise Edwardian kids in a Byronic Fashion. You should try it, it's fun.

Happy Valentine's Day, my beloved, from the stiff at the other end of the table.
[Valentine is from Victorian Lace-Paper Valentines]

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Ballantine's Day

My nine-year-old gets up to stuff. He told the funniest joke I ever heard, at the dinner table the other night.

That wasn't it. The joke, I mean. We've been reading Aesop's Fables fairly regularly. I see the format has sunk in. I thought you might be hard up for a Valentine Card at the last minute, so you can print it out and give it to your beloved. It's not really a Valentine's Card, but you can't afford to be fussy at this late date.

My son sneaks into my office when I'm working in the shop, and he uses the Photodraw utility. He doesn't have it on his computer. He only has Paint, so Photodraw is like access to a supercomputer to him. But then again, Da Vinci smeared paint on a board with a paint brush made from squirrel-hair. You wanna know why the Mona Lisa is smiling?  She knows the most famous painting in the world is being executed using roadkill, so she couldn't help smiling quietly to herself. Road kill on a stick isn't exactly high tech. But then again, very few people are truly limited by their tools. They just find it convenient to blame them.

Oh yes; the joke. I used to think the funniest joke ever was:

Q: Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?
A: I don't know. Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?
Q; Because it was dead.

That was even funnier than telling people about your dog that has no nose. But it's not the funniest joke ever -- not any more it isn't. My son absolutely eclipsed the old one. Put it in the shade, as they say. Killed it.

Would you like me to tell it to you? I will, if you want me to. Give me some sort of sign here.

OK. Here goes:

We were eating dinner together. My wife says, "Hey, the Pope quit." My older son says, "Being the Pope must make it hard to get a job doing anything else after you quit. I mean, what exactly does a Pope know how to do?" And then the little feller said, "Maybe he could get a job as a window washer."

There was a pause. Maybe five or ten seconds by the clock. Then he held up his little hand, and waved it gently back and forth.

We'll get the food off the walls in there eventually.

Nota Bene: Never fear, Sippican Cottage readers; I'll beat that little turd like an orphan in a Dickens novel over his spelling mistakes.

Monday, February 11, 2013

How To Avoid Norwegian Wood Splinters

When I was younger, I played music for money.

99.99 percent of the music I played, I hated. I didn't care for the remainder, but I didn't hate it.

We played pop music covers, mostly not current ones. We needed a lot of material. We'd attempt to figure out what people would want to hear resurrected, in advance. That's tricky. We didn't hang around in bars anymore --we worked in them. It was already too late to figure out what we should be doing by the time we were in there.

We'd meet in the slack winter season, once a week for a month or so. Everyone would bring in a handful of suggestions. We sort of voted  on each. It wasn't  a popularity contest. We didn't say: I don't like it. I told you; I didn't like anything. We said: It won't get over; or it will. If it wasn't unanimous, we didn't bother. Unanimity didn't guarantee success, either, but dry holes were more likely to be found in controversial drilling. That's dreadful enough to be popular was a common assessment.

It was deuced difficult to get the source material into everyone's hands back then. Before the Intertunnel, it was real work to lay your hands on music you didn't like. For a while, I used to go to a store that sold 45s wholesale to people that filled jukeboxes. They'd have everything trite, so they were wonderful. But back then, I'd have to painstakingly figure out all the parts by listening to the records, and communicate it to the other fellows when we met.  It was hard work.

My son plays music all the time now. He can find anything he wants, immediately and without charge. He can get a really high-quality instructional video, too, never mind just the source material. YouTube is an enormously useful thing. The Intertunnel is an enormously useful thing.

Or not.

I have opinions. I'm a big, hairy man with big, hairy opinions. Most of what is on the Intertunnel is just opinion; ill-considered, ill-reasoned, ill-mannered opinion, and inelegantly stated. It's useless. Services that exist simply to aggregate and direct me to various strains of this twaddle are so much less than useless, I may have to coin a term for it. Distilled twaddle. Twiddle?

The Intertunnel is the most useful thing I've ever seen. Because it has an editor. That editor is me. Without the editor, the Intertunnel is the most useless thing I've ever seen.

Good luck out there.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Elevator Jones 4 (from 2008)

You collect yourself in the car. I never knew what that meant before.

I hate the Star Trek doors. I want to feel the weight of a door when I push on it. Pull it. A building shouldn't devour you. I don't want to go in its maw.

There's something desperately wrong with everybody. Spectator or actor or stagehand or director -- doesn't matter. Everyone's a mess. There's a man in pajamas in a wheelchair on the curb smoking a cigarette. It's twenty. You could grind him up and make a paste of pure corruption.

VCT. That means vinyl composition tile. Twelve inch squares. Hard. Cold. Everyone stares at it and walks. There's nothing to see and that's the point.

After a while it's over. It's late, but so what? What difference would it make what the time is in there? Birth and death and disintegration all mixed up in a stew. But we are humans and cling to the superstition of the clock despite the VCT earth and the smooth, endless sun in the vermiculite sky. Somewhere the moon is up and the sun is down and the day is over and that's that.

You go down the long lonesome corridor and stare at the flecks in the floor and there's nothing and nobody for the last fifty yards. You come up hard at a doorway. There's a badge and some writing and it doesn't matter what it says. The room has no people and the television is screwed to the wall in the last place it should be, in the corner at the ceiling, and it yells at no one. Not even me. You stare slackjawed for a moment as the corpse of some hoary joke is hurled before the audience of dead souls in an empty room.

Going down.

Friday, February 08, 2013

I Don't Gots No Wikipedia Page

If you knew me -- I mean, really knew me -- you'd know how much I adore a merengue version of a Kraftwerk song. But you don't know me. How could you? There is no Wikipedia page for Sippican Cottage.

But then again, what would it say? It's a brand of furniture! No, it's a guy, not a building. He once taught Frisbee at a state college, but now he writes flash fiction guaranteed to make you reach for the laudanum.

But wait! Don't answer! Sippican Cottage is a blog! NO! It's a guy that writes humor. He used to be a bass player, but now he publishes a faux newspaper in Uppastump, Maine. I'm beginning to think Sippican Cottage is both a dessert topping and a floor wax!

So I'm not sure I want a Wikipedia page, unless it's like the one  Uwe Schmidt's got. Uwe Schmidt, AKA Senor Coconut, AKA:

    Candy Ballsak
    Almost Digital
    Atom Heart
    Atomu' Shinzo
    The Bitniks
    Bund Deutscher Programmierer
    Coeur Atomique
    DATacide (a collaboration with Tetsu Inoue)
    The Disk Orchestra
    Don Atom
    DOS Tracks
    Dr. Atmo
    Dr. Mueller
    Dropshadow Disease
    Erik Satin
    Flanger (a collaboration with Burnt Friedman)

    Geeez 'N' Gosh
    Gon (a collaboration with Dandy Jack)
    HAT (a collaboration with Haruomi Hosono and Tetsu Inoue)
    H. Roth
    Interactive Music
    Jet Chamber (a collaboration with Pete Namlook)
    Lassigue Bendthaus
    Le Diapason
    Lisa Carbon
    Lisa Carbon & Friends
    The Lisa Carbon Trio
    Los Negritos
    Los Sampler's
    Machine Paisley
    Masters of Psychedelic Ambiance (a collaboration with Tetsu Inoue)
    Mike Mc Coy

    +N (a collaboration with Victor Sol)
    Pentatonic Surprise
    Real Intelligence
    The Roger Tubesound Ensemble
    Second Nature (a collaboration with Tetsu Inoue and Bill Laswell)
    Semiacoustic Nature
    Señor Coconut
    Silver Sound
    Superficial Depth
    Surtek Collective (a collaboration with Original Hamster)
    Urban Primitivism
    Weird Shit

Now that guy could give my Wikipedia page a run for the money. It says here that "He is often regarded as the father of electrolatino, electrogospel and acitón (acid-reggaeton) music." Pretty sweet, that. But me? Moi? Don't say Sippi can't, because Sippi can compete with that. After all, I'm the father of Buddy Holly inflected Minecraft inspired kid-rock cover music; and I also used to sing That's Amore with dirty lyrics in a Beach Boys tribute band.

I will, however, struggle to ever top Senor Coconut's version of Riders on the Storm. But I'm young, and I'll keep trying. (Notice: At least one of the girls in following video forgot their shirt. I'm told some persons that I don't know object to that)

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Hey, Althouse Readers: This Is What IKEA Furniture Is Good For

(Editor's Note: Apparently people are visiting here today from Althouse, because they're talking about assembling shoddy IKEA tables and then looking for praise like when they used to tell mom they went boom boom in the toilet. Someone there thinks I'm the official table-maker of the Intertunnel. Damn straight I am. I explained what IKEA furniture is good for four years ago:)

It weighs 439 pounds.

To recap, I have a 350 Pound Doorstop In My Basement, and I'm damn near out of business until I replace it. Do you know how to move heavy things? I see all sorts of educated people that can't fathom how people built the pyramids. They'll believe aliens did it, but not regular people. When you become far removed from everyday things, you'll believe anything but the truth. Construction workers don't watch Mythbusters.

If I told you you had to move that 439 pound box down a flight of stairs, could you do it? Here's what's at your disposal: A thirteen year old boy, his mom, and whatever you have laying around. Easy. By the way; you're in a hurry, because the item is made from cast iron, and it's going to rain. And you can't drop it -- it's precision machinery.

At the risk of sounding like Steve Martin or Charlie Rangel telling you the way to be a millionaire and not pay taxes is to "get a million dollars and then don't pay your taxes," I'm going to just wave my hand and tell you you've got to accept the shipment five miles away because your driveway is too long and skinny for the truck. Then you get the box into the back of your van using only a ramp.

Look, you're going to have to understand the simple machines and be able to predict how much of a boost each can give your available manpower. For the benefit of people with advanced degrees that train you to be able to type into a little phone with your thumbs and not much else, the simple machines are:
  1. Pulley
  2. Lever
  3. Wedge
  4. Wheel and Axle
  5. Ramp (Inclined Plane)
  6. Screw
Some machines are instantly recognizable as what they are. Others need a little contemplation to recognize. A saw is basically a wedge, for instance. So is a nail.

We don't need all those for this. We're going to need the lever and the ramp. We're going to be wallowing in friction, though. And gravity.

The very first thing, and most important, is making up your mind to do it. I'm serious. You need to determine if it's possible, and then commit yourself to doing it. Otherwise you're going to succumb to the spectre of one idea after another to quit and get more help and more equipment forevermore.

Everyone wants a wheel, right away. It's the last thing you want, in many cases. The wheel and axle part of our story was the semi truck that delivered it. Gravity and weight will get someone hurt, especially if it's skating all over the place on wheels. We walked the box up the ramp. On wheels, we could never have pushed it up.

I'm going to have to pick it up myself. I'm strong enough to beat you up, but I can't lift 439 pounds -- so I'm going to have to be smarter than you, too. You can pick up anything with a lever, if the fulcrum is placed correctly and the lever arm is long enough. Let's make a sled, and combine the ramp and the lever.

We're going to keep the item from sliding down the sled with a strongback. Putting structural members perpedicular to one another increases their resultant capabilities.

Speaking of strong backs, a thirteen year old's is strong enough:

We'll capture the sled on an inclined plane, and use friction to keep it from ending up in China, and me, flat, in geostationary orbit above China. Remember, wheels are bad.

We're going to need a platform at the top to sit the box on. Let's make it from... heh... IKEA furniture.
Somebody gave me a knock-down shelf 25 years ago. This is all it's good for in the long run. Buy real furniture, people! I use pneumatic nails to nail it to the frame.

So we walked it down the ramp from the truck and put it right on the sled. We needed to avoid it tipping over and crushing me, standing at the bottom of the ramp, so I nailed the pallet to the sled with as many three inch framing nails as I could fit. The strap was gravy.

I could easily lift the box by pulling down on the bottom of the lever arm we'd made. There was less than three feet under the box, and I had over nine feet of lever. But there would be a moment when the sled would be tipped downhill, but not fully in contact with the whole ramp. It might start moving pretty quick -- too fast. Fast is always bad. So we put self-adhesive abrasive tape on the ramp to increase the friction.

There's a lot of figuring and checking. My helpers can't be hurt, as they're at the top of this rollercoaster looking down, but I imagine that watching the thing crush me and being sent to the workhouse for the rest of their miserable lives would be less fun than shoe-shopping and playing X-Box, so I was determined not to let the thing land on me. I'm considerate like that.

But it started to rain, less than thirty seconds after I was dumb enough to say: "Thank God it hasn't rained." Time to act.

I tipped that thing down, and the sled hung up perfectly on the ramp. The boy ran around to the bottom with me, and we inched it down by wiggling it a bit. The angle of the sled gets less acute as the lever end slides across the floor, and so the force trying to make it a runaway train abates pretty quick. Et voila!; it has arrived:

And then the setup faeries came while we ate cupcakes and then slumbered, and they put the thing together from the jumble of gun-greased cast iron and bolts that was in the crate. Or I put it together. It was one or the other; I can't recall now.

And now, we're back in business.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Elderly Blogposts Currently Being Assaulted By Spammers: Tech Tock With Sippican Cottage

How To: Excabulate Your Pondrefact
Regular readers of Sippican Cottage know it's all about the cutting edge here. Tech, tech, tech. So today we turn our attention to the thorny procedure for properly excabulating your pondrefact. Let's dive in, right after I write "form factor" a couple times. I'm not sure why I just wrote "form factor," because "form factor" just means "size," but I'm in the Tech Union of Reporters and Drudges, (TURD) and I'm required to write "form factor" instead of "size" all over the place. Which begs the question; why doesn't anyone know what "begs the question" means anymore, or how to spell "its"? And what's with all the "quotation marks"?

Of course if you have an iHassle, your pondrefact is bound to be based on a SnowWeasel entabulating fissile, and you're going to need more than a firm grip to get at it; you're going to need an iDriver.Unsure if you're using an iYapple product? There's two ways of identifying the product without an owner's manual. First, look in your wallet. If there's any folding money left in there, you've probably got a MicroSauce. If you don't have a wallet, or if you have a wallet with velcro on it and keep it in your front pocket, you have a Linus. Another way to determine what kind of rig you've got is to check the power supply:

If you see something that looks like this, you have an oak baseboard, and ungrounded wiring even though there's a three prong outlet. Also, your painter has delirium tremens and no dropcloth, and the crazy lady that used to live there put a piece of wallpaper over the hole the drunk electrician made in 1957 when he first tried to chop a hole in the baseboard and then realized there was a steam pipe in there. Never mind all that; the power supply's white, and Steve Jobster loves that shite. It's an iHassle

Luckily Steve Jobster has already thought of everything, at least as far as billing goes, and there's a iWebsty you can access on the Intertunnel. (or if you're older than 40, you can just turn it on and look at it instead of "accessing" it) If you're using one of MicroSauce's old viewers to look for the iDriver, because the lithium/paxil battery in your iHassle is dead and you can't even spot a seam, never mind a screw, goddamnit, don't despair. Just "M"power your CuRT and transNavigate to the caramel button on the iDriver at the iWebsty.

OK, now press the caramel button that looks like a Sesame Street manhole cover. Everything you've ever done, seen, or mumbled to yourself will immediately be uploaded to an NSA computer in a bunker in Montana, and if you have a credit card on file at iYapple, it's going to get more exercise than a crack-addled triathlete. Never fear though; bin Laden's dead, and they've already kicked in the door of that guy that uploaded The King's Speech to the Pirate Bay, so the entire NSA's  hanging around doing nothing right about now. Just call them up and ask them what iTeration of the iHassle you're running. If you're using a MicroSauced product, you can skip the call to the NSA and just look for a big, metal plate riveted to the back of the box near the fan that sucks up all the dust bunnies and hurls them at your fatherboard. The fatherboard can be identified by the scorchmarks around the processor from trying to play videogames with all the shaders enabled, and the four cracks in it from the big metal plate's rivets sticking through the case.

Alrighty then, now that we know what we're running, lets look around the back and locate the pixel reservoir. Just follow the silver wire until you smell pixels. If you're new to Tech Tock, we've discussed pixel odor at some length; but if you want to jump right in, they smell vaguely like radons, carbon credits, or the fellow in the last cubicle with the ponytail and the blotchy skin that wears sandals and doesn't trim his toenails much.

Great. Now on to the exasoperating system you're running. Look for the place the cable company still owns somewhere in your house. You'll find one of three transmogrifiers, depending on your exasoperating system. It'll be one of these three types:

On the left is the MicroSauce compatible innerface. The lights flash on the front to attract the attention of Walmart shoppers, but they don't mean anything, so forget them. On the right is a rare black iInterface, but it's all swoopy and curvy and falls off the table top a lot from lack of friction, so you know it's a iYapple. The middle one is a Linus. It's all about the command line, baby! OK, now let's get to the meat of the process -- the pondrefact:

That's a pondrefact in the classic configuration. The pixels are routed by political affiliation. All the blogposts accusing the current president of being a secret Moslem Kenyan smoker are emitted through the red pixelpipes, the Twitter streams of pictures of the last president with a Hitler mustache are blasted through the blue tubes. It's all about the tubes, people.

Alrighty, now reach in past the fan motor or the iSink and dust off the bolts on the pondrefact:

 Now, replace the crystals with carbon-neutral lodestones or one of those black toenail things with all the memory in it.

Voila! Your pondrefact is now excabulated. Now you can get back to writing your sparkly vampire fanfiction and writing mock reviews of three wolf t-shirts on Amazon without fear of a breakdown.

Monday, February 04, 2013

That's Life. That's What All The People Say

That's life
If you care what people say
You're filing forms in April
Audited in May
But I know I'm gonna change that sorry tune
With all the scratch tickets I buy in June

I said: That's life
Marinating in Jim Beam
Until you run out of scratch
Then it's Bristol Cream
But I don't let it, let it get me down
As long as the wallpaper
It keeps spinning around

I've been a muppet, a moper,
A Pilate, a doper,
My ass in a sling,
I've been off to school with a cup full of drool
And I know one thing
Each time I find myself
With a boot on my face
I make myself at home and open up another case

That's life
I tell you, you can't deny it
I thought of quitting baby
But before I can, I'm fired
And if you take a barstool anywhere nearby
I'm gonna ramble with my speech slurred,
And then I'll cry

I've been a muppet, a moper,
A Pilate, a doper,
My ass in a sling,
I've been off to school with a cup full of drool
And I know one thing
Each time I find myself
With a boot on my face
I make myself at home and open up another case

Saturday, February 02, 2013

It Was... 93 Degrees Less Than A Hundred Degrees Last Night

We're good parents. Honest! We're saving up to put lenses in our kids' glasses.

Happy Saturday everybody from Unorganized Hancock.

(Update: Lorraine supports the ahhts through our PayPal button. Many thanks! I think I owe her a novel pretty soon)
Up-Update: Kathleen M. is serially generous. Many thanks! And Dave R., who offered the "stump the band" idea originally, is very generous indeed. Many thanks!)

Friday, February 01, 2013

If The Potter Has A Sure Hand

I do not know where this person has gone to. It's only three or four years ago, but only the faint outlines of him are visible in the current model of miniature wrecking crewman that still sleeps in the old version's bed.

I don't recognize the place, either. It's from a fever dream. I only remember the illness, not the sickbed. I'm better now, so it doesn't trouble me.

We only have one bathroom in our house now, so one can't dawdle in there. The little feller was in a hurry to brush his teeth because it was time for school, but I was about to take a shower. He knocked, and asked, and I let him in.

"You didn't close the door properly, Dad."

It seemed a very... studied formulation of words for a nine-year-old to use.  I was curious.

"What part of speech is properly, son?"

"It's an adverb."

"Which word in that sentence does it modify?"


"What kind of word is close?"

"A verb."

My wife teaches that boy, and his big brother. I hardly ever see it done; the boys learn in their rooms, and I'm working one or two floors away all the time. But by gad, it happens. You can barely make out the outline of the raw material after a while. But it's there if you look hard. Good clay makes a great pot, if the potter has a sure hand.