Saturday, September 23, 2006

Out of the Shop - finally

I just finished my most ambitious furniture project to date, a taboret for Tammi. It will get a glass top - she uses glass as a palate, as most artists do now. It is constructed primarily of mahogany with poplar on the under side and poplar also making up the drawers. The drawer fronts are made of Leopardwood - a strikingly figured wood grown in Africa. The top tilts and also may be raised and lowered on a dovetail rail inset with aluminum by which it can be locked into position. Traditional joinery is used throughout. The base is fit together with mortise and tendons, the drawer and top are dovetailed. The underside uses dados allowing the many pieces to fit loosely thus allowing for the woods movement. It is finished with aniline dye and coated with tung oil and polyurethane. It is just about four foot wide.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Recent & recommended

I can never seem to limit myself to a few specialties and my reading reflects my schizophrenic interests. Jack of all trades, master of none. So, perhaps a few "recent & recommended" books might spur someone to read some things I found very interesting.

Self Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back Again - Norah Vincent
From a man's perspective what she discovered is not surprising, but what woman don't understand about men is very surprising. I enjoyed her concise writing style and some of her observations are right on, but unusual and thought provoking. For those with an interest in gender issues.
ABC news
Norah's website
Amazon's reviews

Why Gender Matters:What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences- Leonard Sax MD, PHD
This is a must read for parents - even if you have only boys. I expect this is one book that might start a revolution
Amazon's reviews
(all of Amazon's pages have reviews, links, etc...)

...and while I'm on boys, here is another must read for parents of boys

The Wonder of Boys - Michael Gurian
Amazon's site with post by Michael Gurian and links to

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything- Steven Levitt
This is one of those books that is pure pleasure. If you love counter thinking this is for you. Here's something Steven Levitt said:"I think of economics as a worldview, not a set of topics. This worldview has a few different pieces. First, incentives are paramount. If you understand someone's incentives, you can do a pretty good job of predicting their behavior. Second, the appropriate data, analyzed the right way are key to understanding a problem. Finally, political correctness is irrelevant. Whatever the answer happens to be, whether you think it will be popular or not, that is the answer you put forth".
The book's web site

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies - Jared M. Diamond
Here's another Gem of radical thinking. He won a Nobel Prize for it too! For those with a interest in anthropology.

The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell Blink - Malcom Gladwell
It is hard to pin these books down. Even after reading them twice I am not sure I can define a "subject" - business, advertising maybe. Just read them - a pleasure and something to get you thinking.

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century - Thomas L. Friedman
Here's one about gobalization. This one forces a world view we may not be ready to accept. Interestingly, after reading about India's workforce I received an answer to a help wanted on from Bangalore. The world is truly flat.
Mr. Friedman's web site

Healing the Soul in the Age of the Brain: Becoming Conscious in an Unconscious World - Elio Frattaroli
The world of psychiatry doesn't agree on much. This book exposes some of the rawness and really opened my eyes to the therapeutic process, drugs, and Freudian theory. Upon reading this and discussing it with my shrink I found he knew that man and agreed with his theories - small world. For those interested in psychology and therapy.

The Gecko's Foot: Bio-inspiration: Engineering New Materials from Nature - Peter Forbes
Really great stuff about bio-engineering, materials engineering, and the new science of bio-inspiration. For example, a spoon, based upon the lotas plant, upon which honey will not stick - rolls off and leaves the spoon clean!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Milky Way

Recently, I was thinking about the Milky Way and remembering some of the places and times I've been mesmerized under its white embrace. There are many, and to me I always have clear memories of when it dazzled me. It never fails to inspire. I suppose that once upon a time most anyone could go out onto the front porch, or perhaps the tepee, maybe the hogan, or the yurt and simply expect it to be there. That, of course, is no longer. It is now special; reserved for memories and places we may wish we were at right now. There are many people who most likely have never seen it - not truly.

The Milky Way is the name we all know best, but it is only part of the name. It is the Milky Way Galaxy - it is where we live. Most readers have seen pictures of galaxies; a round, spiral, flattened disk. These galaxies are spread around the universe and we see most of them a single stars; although, in fact, there are billions and billions of stars in what we perceive as one star. Our galaxy is roughly 150,000 light-years in diameter and contains Earth's solar system. (A light year is 5,878,625,373,184 miles - yes, that's almost 6 trillion miles in one year. By the way, the farthest galaxy is 13 billion light-years away. Do that math!) We are on the outer edge, thus what we know as the Milky Way is really looking inward toward the center of our galaxy and what we see is a white irregular luminous band that encircles the sky defining the plane of the galactic disk. Kind of similar to being a mite on a pancake. Looking up you might be able to see "out of the pancake"; however, looking toward the middle the mite would only see pancake and not the outside world beyond the pancake. The Milky Way system contains hundreds of billions of stars and large amounts of interstellar gas and dust. The Sun lies in one of the Galaxy's spiral arms, about 27,000 light-years from the center.

But, back to the point - it's not science, it's memories. Moab is one of my favorite places. You can disappear in many places and be at least a hundred miles away from the nearest light and the cites are so far and so small and so spread out they don't affect the sky. I always believe I am looking at the same sky as the Fremont and the Anasazi. The Winds offer the same solitude, but higher. Sleeping at 12,000 feet one can hardly separate the stars one from the other. You can even see satellites wiz across the sky. Mt. Robson in the Canadian Rockies is also unforgettable.

There is also a special place in Vermont. The stars aren't quite so bright there, but the place in full of memories, and fun, and the stars are just the icing. Once Tammi and I, when we first met, slept under the stars in western Maryland. The Milky Way shone like new love. I will never forget the view and the feeling.

The milky way makes me think of my friends. Of being high, and cold, and tired. Of fun, of good sleep, and of fires, and climbing, and blankets, and easy talk. It is the stuff of life.

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