Scouting Expeditions

Submitted by Clay Dowling on Mon, 08/18/2014 - 20:56
Hand written scouting notes.

In my new position, one of the excellent features is constant training
to become better at my job. Recently we had the opportunity to discuss
the scouting party: an exploritory expedition into unknown code. If
you've been in this business for any length of time, you know that this
kind of thing can be an endless rabbit hole. One of our instructors
taught us a simple principal based on what he learned in the military
about scouting unfamiliar terrain.

The Hanging Wall Cabinet - Nearly There

Submitted by Clay Dowling on Mon, 01/27/2014 - 20:40
Hanging wall cabinet, with door

My hanging wall cabinet is nearly ready to actually hang. I installed the mullions in the door over the weekend, applied the finish, and tonight I installed the barrel hinges. I also built a lovely little wooden handle, inspired by some of the ideas of James Krenov (if you're going to crib, crib from the best). The only thing missing is the actual glass, and a final coat of paste wax.

White Male Privilege and Real Women

Submitted by Clay Dowling on Thu, 01/23/2014 - 02:08

The two phrases don't seem to have a lot in common if you just look at the denotation. But they're two phrases that get tossed around in progressive circles that have always bothered me a little, and lately I've come to realize why I don't like them. Both phrases carry the same connotation: you didn't earn whatever success you've had, you were successful because of things outside of you.

Unit Blocks

Submitted by Clay Dowling on Thu, 01/16/2014 - 10:05

My grand daughter really really loves blocks. I have a set of castle blocks that my dad made for me. Every time she comes over, I have to haul out the blocks. So I decided that she needed her own blocks. At some later point I'll make a longer post about how I built them, with pictures. But for now, here's my photo of the full set, and the box I made to store them. The box also has wheels so Raegan can be tasked with putting the blocks away herself.

Instant GURPS Modern Fantasy Setting

Submitted by Clay Dowling on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 21:19

Every so often threads crop up on the GURPS forums about how there are no settings published for the system. First, this is patently false, there are several excellent settings. Second, there is so much published material that you can easily build a complete campaign setting in an afternoon. To help the doubters out, I'm going to give you one. This is the template I used for my own first GURPS campaign.

What you'll need:


Buy a Suit!

Submitted by Clay Dowling on Thu, 09/26/2013 - 20:42

If you're under the age of 18 or still live with your parents, you can skip this post. This post isn't talking to you. For the rest of you, I'm asking you to take a look in your closet. Is there a good suit in there? Is it comfortable enough that you could wear it all day? Does it make you look like a successful professional? If you answered No to any of those questions, get off the damned internet and go buy a suit.


Trim and Tail

Submitted by Clay Dowling on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 18:35

I wish I'd thought of this a year ago. The single most hateful part of building the Jefferson shelves is trimming the tails after the glue has dried. Because it's hard maple, they're pretty resistant to most cutting tools. Slicing them with a sweeping motion of a sharp chisel is the cleanest way to trim tails, but in this hard wood that's slow enough my grand daughter would be helping me finish them. I've been using a sharp block plane, but it tears up the surrounding wood pretty well and makes a fair bit of cleanup for me.

Saw Blade Maintenance

Submitted by Clay Dowling on Sun, 09/15/2013 - 18:21

I decided it was time to do a bit of maintenance on my saw blades. My crosscut blade in particular was reallhy gummed up with resin, to the point that it was burning and cutting poorly. I've found that when a blade seems dull cleaning the resin off makes it cut like new. I picked up a deep dish pizza pan and soaked my two worst blades overnight. Those two blades have crosscut and rip over 800 board feet of maple, so it was time.

Dog Whistles and the Conversations that Don't Happen

Submitted by Clay Dowling on Sat, 06/22/2013 - 08:11

This past week I got to see, first hand, the destructive power of dog whistles. For the uninitiated, a "dog whistle" is a phrase which is a silent signal to members of a group that the speaker is one of them. Within that group, the phrase itself carries a very specific, clearly defined meaning. That by itself isn't especially insideous. It's a bit of shorthand that stands for a larger issue. Unfortunately these dog whistles wind up carrying a lot of baggage around, well beyond the specific, clearly defined meaning, and that baggage tends to be full of pain and anger.

Why You Need to Cut Your Own Lumber

Submitted by Clay Dowling on Tue, 05/14/2013 - 10:16

New woodworkers are often intimidated by the prospect of cutting their own lumber to length. This is made worse by the constant dire safety warnings about how saws will take your fingers off (which they will), and the fact that as a society we condition women to be timid and to think of machinery as "guy stuff." As more women come into wood working, they're having to confront this issue head on.


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