Books n Bed

Here’s a handful of bad recent pictures from my phone!

Every morning Mabel and I play in the dining room as I try to eat breakfast and wake up with some coffee.  She’s getting more interested in the bookshelves. Soon enough we’ll have to replace the bottom shelf with some of her board books.  But for now, I try to convey to her the basic concepts in her selections from my books.

I finished the top of the bed and got to put that all together. The huge drawers are already insanely helpful.

I got the footer all glued up, too. Planing the top even…

While the glue dried on that I started planing some of the butternut boards. It’ll still be 4-5 months before they are dry and stable enough to use. Until then, I’m going to get a handful of the boards rough planed to keep in the shop. It might make for better dry time. But I don’t want to do it with all the boards since A.) I don ‘t have space, and B.) they might dry too fast, and crack. I’ve read enough to know it’s an inexact science. I’m using my planer and jointer, and when Mabel is sleeping I use my hand planes (picture in previous post). I’m thinking of it as good hand plane practice too, since I don’t want to have to rip everything down to 12″ or less. At least a few of the of the larger planks I’d like to keep the width of…

And I found a bullet in the heartwood of one of the boards! Cut right through the lead and copper on the bandsaw.

Now Reading…

  I started perusing this book yesterday when a library patron brought it upstairs for me.  That never happened before, so I thought I should at least check it out.  It’s compiled from entries to an annual question releases.  I never heard of the site or the series.  It’s an interesting idea for a book, and the book itself bring up interesting concepts. That is not to say it is a good book.  Quick 1-4 paragraphs emailed back from professors and scientists around the globe to the question “What is the most important invention of the past 2,000 years?”  Nothing really in depth, hence me calling is ‘perusing’ – like looking through a magazine. The questions from other years, and answers from global smarties are on the website.

What I would consider common ones came up – the printing press, Indo-Arabic number system, papermaking, the harnessing of electricity, penicillin, the scientific method,  computer networks etc.  Other responses were new to me in thinking about how they changed the world – hay, the plow,  waterworks, anesthesia, the mirror.  It also covers more intellectual, or theory driven, inventions; the concept of education, disbelief in the supernatural (as in more independent thought, no more rule by divine right), or the non-implemented 33-year English Protestant Calendar, etc.

And of course television…

“Television has changed status and prestige criteria, created instant celebrities, hastened the downfall of leaders, increased the importance of physical appearance, and accelerated the intensity of intrasexual mate competition — all of which have acutely transformed the nature of sexuality and mating and perhaps forever altered the evolutionary course of our species.”



This weekend Amber commented on how it’s pretty funny that I can just sit and read a book on furniture.  I’ve typically always liked reading non-fiction, maybe more so than fiction… I don’t know.  If so, it might have something to do with me reading enough fiction getting my BA in English.  But I think the real reason is that I like doing things more than I like reading about things.  During those odd lunch breaks or time before sleep or mornings just waking up – I can’t be doing much.  At least nothing with regard to much active or creative activity ie woodworking, music, photography, bicycles…

Since I have to eat breakfast, lunch, and wind down before I go to sleep,  I usually try to read about things that make my active time better served. (Or I write on here during my lunch break, you’re welcome.)

Anyway, here’s how I spent some recent breakfast, lunch, and pre-dreams time.

The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking. I’m actually not done with this, but so far it’s great.  Of course, in a way, I hope I’m never done with it.  I hope it’s something I refer back too when I’m making a wooden convex hand plane for a coopered door.  Maybe now I’m just turning non-fiction into fiction. We’ll see.   The book has much more writing that pictures – almost a blend of theory and practicality.  Very nice.  It makes thinking about a single board of wood seem very important. I guess it is.  It’s written by a man who preferred to word ‘composing’ over designing when it came to projects.  That should clarify whether you’d ever want to read it or not.

As an aside – a very lengthy transcription of an interview with Krenov is here.  And a ten minute long Youtube video about his life and work is here.

The Antique Hunters Guide to American Furniture. I didn’t read this one so much as peruse (speaking of college…) – and I’m continuing to do so.  It’s been helpful to get a handle of the different types and styles of furniture.  As well as the basic time period they were introduced etc.

Which made it sort of funny when I ran across this post from Chris Schwarz about simplifying furniture into 4 basic types.  In terms of ornamentation and construction quality.

The Psychological Implications of Holiday Motivated Materialism.

Dr. Suess, keeping it real.

Rapping About…

Publishers send libraries books.  Because the books are new and amazing and they want to make sure you buy some copies, or because the books are awful and they have a lot to get rid of..?  I’ve never been quite sure.  But when the books seem like they fit into both those categories, that’s when you’ve got some real gold.  Here’s my new favorite series.

Here’s a rap from “Rapping About Bodies of Water.”

And this one will earn you some serious street cred from “Rapping About Animal Homes.”


Hitchhiking – “Part of a hip lifestyle.”

Found this in the trash at work.  Sometimes we get donations that we don’t catalog and use. I guess this was too worn out – or maybe too dated.  Copyrighted by the man in 1973… man.

Here’s  an except to remember – or try to remember.

The Future Abides

September is almost here, which means my daughter is almost here.  That also means 2012 is right around the corner. Closer maybe for me, due to the the zombie-like parenting befuddlement that is bound to occupy the last four months of 2011 as I know it. I’m sure I’ll just wake up, January 2012, in the middle of some department store baby section, idly and cautiously assessing my surroundings, like the opening scene of the Big Lebowski, or when Bill Murray sees Slimer for the first time.  Just coming around to reality.

But, 2012?  TWENTY-TWELVE! That’s like, the future.   I’ll be waking up in the future.  And while, cinematically, no one has really hit the nail on the head, no flying cars or Bartertown, this is what my daughter will be born into -whatever this is.  It’s probably why I tend to read mostly non-fiction, learning about past, present and future across a variety of disciplines.  It seems important to me, and it’s interesting.

For now though, I mostly stay away from the the giant section in the library on parenting books.  The only real idea I have on parenting is one I came up with.  That if your childhood was good, you want to recreate it as much as possible for your child.  This isn’t necessarily easy, but at least you know what you want.  Having a destination, a goal, makes things easier. The flip side of this is of course that if your childhood wasn’t so great, you want something different for your kids.  A little more elusive, since you mostly know just what you don’t want.   Amber and I have been lucky in that we’ve both had really good childhoods, with plenty of great models and memories to emulate from.   It’s probably the biggest leg up in life we’ve been given, and we haven’t fully realized it yet.

Of course the wake up call from that big warm ‘n fuzzy is that the world is, and always will be, a changing place you can’t control (sorry if the rest of this post is a bit of a downer). And instead of reading the latest book about how to handle your teen daughter dating, driving, getting a D in math, and not liking the music you listen too – I read Howard Kunstler’s The Long Emergency; Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century. It’s really more my style, plus – I hate math.

Despite the subtitle, The Long Emergency doesn’t talk about getting a place in the mountains, stockpiling firearms and canned food, and living off the land. It’s not the non-fiction version of  The Road. It’s more about how we’re gotten where we are as humans in the industrial age and how we’re nearing the end of that era, or “oil fiesta” at the author says.  Of course it also includes the authors thoughts on what this all means for the future.

Whatever media you are taking in, time and place obviously takes a bit part in how you see it.  And your wife about to have a baby is certainly not an exception when reading a book primarily dedicated to examining  how our species handles it’s resources and what it means for our future.  It got a little dense at parts and bit boring in others. When you’ve read and seen other things on the same topic the parallels and shared information seem to ramble a bit. It had plenty of new information for me though, as well and an interesting and appreciated perspective.

But don’t take my word for it.  Here’s some videos I found of the author discussing his book’s topic.

As an aside. I also read his World Made By Hand book, a fictional version of life in the future world The Long Emergency illuminates.  It wasn’t amazing, but nice to have another post apocalyptic author keep things, not only in the realm of realism, but based on a good deal of facts that his non-fiction work covers.

Jeremy Tankard helps my kid think I’m cool.

My daughter isn’t here yet.  And I’m thinking it’ll be at least a couple years before she grasps the rather elusive concept of  ‘cool.’


Somewhere between finding out about ‘cool’ and being about 14 years old, she’s going to think I’m really cool.  In part because I met the children’s author / illustrator Jeremy Tankard, and he signed a book for my daughter.  He’s the author and illustrator of Grumpy Bird, Me Hungry and Boo Hoo Bird. He gave a really great presentation on himself as an artist. How his style has changed over time and slowly morphed into doing children’s illustrations.   Part of his presentation involved him drawing some stuff in Photoshop, which was mind boggling and might as well have been a death star tight rope liger demonstration to the room full of children’s librarians who operate daily with 10 year old computers.

Anyway he signed my book, which ruled.

The Photoshop picture he did in the presentation was downright nifty and I thought it’d go well in the nursery. So I asked him if he could email it to me.   He said sure, and asked if I could hang out a bit longer – he had to sign other books. After signing other people’s books he started doing a drawing for the nursery!

At some point, my daughter will think I’m cool for this. Thanks Jeremy!

Vacation! What book to bring?

So, we’re not going yet, or tomorrow, but sometime my wife Amber and I are going to Italy for a bit.

Saying when on here would be silly, since I’ve probably at some point posted up pictures of  things vaguely valuable that I own and don’t want to get robbed.  Unlike the people who bikesnob mentions here, whose inane ‘minimalism’ only seems to render the “I”, with all its deep anthropocentric associates,  to a little “i” – as in, of course, Ipod, Iphone, Ipad, Ithinkthisreplacesreallife, etc – I have things I like and don’t want to get stolen.  That biksnob guy has some great ‘read it at work’ appeal by the way.

But yes, Italy. I’ve never been for a more than a few days, and that was on tour with a band I’m in, and it was only in Northern Italy.  This trip includes Rome, Florence, Civita di Bagnoregio, Cinque Terre, and Volterra.  Amber did all the heavy lifting in terms of reading up and planning the trip so we’re not say, in a town on a day when everything is closed, or stranded in some small town because the bus doesn’t run on Sunday, etc.  For that I am eternally grateful.

I’m been learning about what I’ll be seeing – reading about Rome, watching documentaries about Michelangelo, etc.  But I’ve been having one hell of a time figuring out what book to bring.  I just finished reading A Place of My Own, only to discover I have now read everything Michael Pollan has published.  With my safety net of a good and stylistically reliable author removed, I’m floundering for something new.  This is where being only a Children’s Librarian has it’s downside – on a daily basis the majority of literature I’m checking out is for kids.

So Italo Calvino the Italian author? I love it, but maybe too dense for a vacation book. His only one that was pretty laidback was Numbers in the Dark. Plus, I’m a sucker for short stories.  I got John Mcphee’s Silk Parachute, and realized I might have to pack a dictionary as well.  I read enough chapters of The Tipping Point to realize Malcom Gladwell annoys me.

And I don’t need to get all the way out to this place, settle down with an excellent drink and start reading a book that annoys me.

Books on deck to consider include Consider The Lobster by David Foster Wallace, a collection of Best American Short Stories, edited by Alan Lightman, Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel, and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (an old professor of mine reccomended that one for it’s insanely awesome bad guy). Okay and maybe Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics, but the library didn’t have that. Although this guy makes that book seem pretty interesting.