Thursday, July 3, 2014

Seattle Water


Photo courtesy Flickr

This town has justifiably been proud of its drinking water ever since Mr. Thompson piped in the first supply from the Green River. Water quality improved substantially when I remembered to, urk, wash the bottle I carry every day. Using fresh suds, I detailed the threads on the stopper with the photographer’s equipment dusting brush that lives over the sink. I rinsed with a little rubbing alcohol, also good for wiping faucet handles in sequence and for finishing the dishpan itself . Sometimes in the field I put a few drops of single-barrel bourbon in the water bottle from the small flask that is part of the first-aid kit.

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More after the jump.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bonding With A Find


Photo courtesy Flickr

I scavenged a couple of Sixties drafting stools from a Broadway junk hauler who refused to let me pay him for several hundred dollars worth of irreplaceable vintage steel gear. He knew what he had, too. The pair has Boeing surplus written all over it, which is to say they are the product of the height of the American imperium, when continental resources were abundant and gas cost five cents a gallon on a day when the dealers were quarreling. Each stool represents an opportunity for the very best kind of furniture restoration: just wash it.

The finds show legitimate wear and tear that will drop into my inventory without a ripple. I set out the secret weapon of Absolutely Perfect Housekeeping (Peg Bracken’s term), not-cheap German chrome polish from the motorcycle shop. The other secret weapon is 0000 steel wool. Nitrile gloves, a shop apron, and t-shirt and synthetic wipers for final polishing round out the kit.

No one I know can dedicate a block of time to detailing an old stool, even at this level of involvement. It’s trivial, though, once the mise en place is assembled, to use the odd moment lightly to abrade a rusty scratch or groady join and then later burnish filmy paint with the chrome polish that has not failed to resurrect any of the artifacts I’ve tried it on. Working in spare moments does not tax seldom-used muscles and guarantees a light touch. Test for snags with a bit of silk or nylon knit, so that anyone can use either of the stools for any purpose. A coat of artist’s wax medium will forestall new rust in old scratches.

The stool with a back will get new magical sliding castors. The other will stay as is for stability.

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More after the jump.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Saving Lives, Ten Seconds At A Time


Photo courtesy Flickr

Walter Isaacson describes Steve Jobs’ argument against a slow-loading program as being based on the value of human life. Faced with objections to speeding up a process, Jobs did some fast math and pointed out that extra seconds spread across millions of users added up to wasted lifetimes.

Not long ago I put my heart in my mouth and lopped off a good fifteen inches of cord from an electric toothbrush charger. The genius inventory manager at my friendly local Righteous Value hardware store sold me a quick-fit replacement plug that directs the cord parallel to the wall, an elegant space-saving maneuver. A friend muscled the plug's latch  into place, and I have already saved a full minute’s wrestling with the charger’s cranky, ill-designed cord-keeper. Chopping the cord also saved several cubic inches of precious bathroom storage and most importantly, next winter's manual pain and aggravation of  wrangling plastic-coated wire in a chilly storage area. 

A brief meditation on the wisdom of vandalizing a ninety dollar toothbrush convinced me that saving time would be worth the risk. 
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More after the jump.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Underfoot


Photo courtesy Flickr

I’m slowly getting to know a new acquaintance. Our domiciles span Seattle’s great divide-the Ship Canal. We enjoy sharing the odd paragraph about housekeeping and appear to have been stealing ideas from the same sources all these years.

Seeing footgear scattered in the front hall, Tara slipped off her shoes on a recent visit. A trip across the kitchen floor brought the comment that she used a barefoot journey at home to decide whether it was time to vacuum. I prefer to cue maintenance by leaving large pieces of “indicator litter”, like shreds of crinkled gift packing, where they have fallen. If I can see it with my glasses off, I know that other detritus has accumulated, too.

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More after the jump.