27 March, 2010

my foray in furniture fabrication

I'm not normally a "wood" guy. I usually work with metals like steel, alumin(i)um, stainless steel, copper, steel, brass, steel and often steel. More than once I have welded up some contraption out of steel that any other person might have hammered together out of wood and nails.

Anyway, a couple months ago one of the high school shop teachers decided to do a woodworking course for anyone in the community who might be interested, so several members of the local community took him up on the offer.

Our projects were many and varied. One guy built a nice shoe rack to put near his front door, (when you go to someone's house here you usually remove your shoes at the door--this is because it is hard to get to anybody's house without getting your shoes muddy, especially now, during rainy season), another guy built a recipe box for his wife, another a hat and coat rack, that kind of thing.

Well, I had been giving this some thought for some time as the arrangement of our living room has always bothered me a little bit. The problem with our living room was that we had lots of space, but because of the furniture we had, it wasn't being used very well, and in spite of it's size, it was hard to put more than 4 or 5 people in it comfortably. So in my mind I designed a piece of furniture that was 1 part entertainment center and 2 parts book and storage shelves. Not having any idea how much time it would take to build something like this, I presented my idea to the shop teacher. He was kind enough to refrain from telling me that I needed to come up with a smaller project.

Well, this being one of the few places where rosewood is cheaper than plywood, and because there was a ready supply of nicely dried rosewood available, I built the whole thing out of mostly rosewood! Here's how it turned out:

Our more astute viewers will notice three things: 1.) there are no bookshelves, 2.) there is a huge empty space on the left, and 3.) MST3K is on the TV, (the beginning of Jack Frost, specifically). The reason why there are no book shelves is because I'm not quite finished with it yet--this is only the bottom half of my plan, although I admit that the bottom half is by far the bigger half. The upper shelves will be much easier to build and I can build them in pieces over the next few months. The reason for the big empty space is that I am planning to build a secure storage area there--basically, I'll be building a heavy steel box, (a safe of sorts) that will go in that area and will be a place where we can store things that we'd rather not have stolen in case our house ever gets broken into. Although our own house has not yet been broken into, over the past couple of years many other houses in the community have, so I feel that building a safe is a fairly sensible precaution, especially as I have a source of free scrap steel to build it out of. Rebuild, reuse, recycle, yeah whatever, I just can't afford to spend $200-$500 for the steel I need if I were to build it out of new steel.

And as for MST3K, I mean c'mon. That's high entertainment, there. Thanks to my brother and his wife for sending it to me!

18 March, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR! (belated by time zones!)

Okay, so maybe my Happy New Year's wishes haven't really been delayed by time zones--I mean, if the Earth were a million miles in diameter or if it were turning REALLY slowly, then maybe people might be able to live 3 months' worth of time zones apart. Instead of just 15 hours ahead of US Eastern Standard Time, which is the last time zone I lived in before coming here.

So every New Year's Eve at around midnight, all the kids who have bikes, (and a lot of the adults) go for a 45 minute ride around Ukarumpa. we try to hit all the roads that aren't dead ends, and we try to spread a little holiday cheer in the process. We do have a few rules--we have a tech inspection before the ride to make sure that everybody has some sort of headlight and tail light and also to make sure that nobody has removed their mufflers. We're not hooligans, we don't tear around at top speed. We get approval from the administration beforehand and we make sure that people are aware of what is going to happen so that nobody is surprised by it. It's usually a lot of fun. This past New Year's Eve it rained for the whole time, which means that we all ended up really muddy, but a good time was had by all nonetheless. The photo here was actually taken a few years ago when I was more active in the Ukarumpa Motorcycle Club, (in fact I was Vice President, as my temporarily tatooed knuckles proudly show). I'm not sure what that light running across my helmet is--maybe photographic proof of tiny UFO's?

Way too busy at work these days. I'm really glad that help appears to be on the way in the form of my friend Evan. Evan was here before as a short term guy with WA helping out at our training and orientation course in Madang. He was the mechanic and general handyman. He's also an ace welder. Anyway, we just got word that he has been accepted in the organisation, so tjhat's really good news. Looks like he'll be working at AutoShop, (YAY!), doing whatever we need doing, like motorcycle/small engine stuff, (double, nay, quadruple YAY!), and some welding. I imagine we'll find some training for him to do as well.

Finally! Relief appears to be on the horizon! For 8 years I've been the only motorcycle/small engine guy we have and over that time the work load has increased steadily as more and more people are riding bikes. Evan's not scheduled to get here before 2012, (BOO!), but there's always a chance that his support could come in sooner than expected and he could get here before that.