Category Archives: Projects

And so it begins…

Nearly a year ago, I alluded to an Epic Undertaking of Stupidity, the likes of which entire multi-cultural pantheons of gods, goddesses, demons, and false idols alike had never seen.

This Epic Undertaking was to involve me, a metric ass-ton of wood, and a smattering of sharp objects, power tools, and possibly even a chain saw.

This Epic Undertaking screamed “BAD IDEA!” from atop the highest peak of the mountain of Idiocy. And yet, with equal gusto, I bellowed back “SIGN ME UP!” just as any self-respecting individual with the word “Spazz” in their name ought to do.

And now, at long last, the Epic Undertaking of Stupidity has begun.

My previous Profoundly Nerdy Academic Undertaking ended prematurely, but thankfully resulted in a Profoundly Nerdy and Very Well Paying Day Job that now acts as an enabler to my increasingly terrible (read: awesome) ideas. In other words, I quit grad school and got a real job, and now I can afford to buy a metric ass-ton of basswood.

So I did.

A big old pile of wood

To be fair, I wouldn’t even call this an “ass-ton” as measured in the English system, because it’s really only enough wood to carve a single horse’s head and neck.

And it weighs a bazillion pounds.

(Note to self: carousel horses are REALLY HEAVY.)

I also managed to successfully scale up my first sketch from notebook size to real-life carousel size. My clever little self bogarted a projector in one of the conference rooms after hours and traced the drawing onto an enormous sheet of paper.

Unfortunately the proportions weren’t quite right once it was scaled up, and it took several hours of work to finally get it to look not-stupid. But alas, this too has finally been achieved. Except for the front legs, but that’s for another day.

The next step is to rough out the head with my bandsaw (see previous entry on the Epic Bandsaw Adventure, featuring Libosaurus) and composite the wood into a block that is roughly the size of a small horse’s head.

Stay tuned for more installments of Happy Fun Adventure Time with your host T-Spazz! If you want to check out the highlight reel, tune in to picycle.wordpress.com. But if you prefer the behind-the-scenes bloopers, don’t touch that dial: We got all the Bad Ideas you could ever need, right here.

The Bad Idea Project: Failing at life so you don’t have to. You’re welcome!

Impulse ahoy!

Sitting in a coffee shop with my co-conspirator T-Spazz. I’ve never been to an open mic night before, and we haven’t even been here an hour, yet I’m sitting here about to buy a cheap ukulele on my cell phone.

I might have a problem.

Like A M-F’ing Adult!

Those of you who know me are aware of my “day job” – my Bruce Wayne identity, if you will – and are aware that it is profoundly nerdy. And often involves wearing black plastic-rimmed glasses.

Happily, we are on break for Thanksgiving for the next week and a half, because both of my Monday classes were cancelled, and I was able to postpone a Tuesday meeting until the following week. This means I have eight whole days to do whatever I want!

Which of course means catching up work that I put off over the semester, and also on things that have piled up at home in my absence.

So I made a nice neat list of things I wanted to accomplish, and placed them in priority order (ah, the joys of OneNote).

Is CLEAN ALL THE THINGS! on that list? Nope! Am I doing it anyway? Youbetcha!

I suppose that really falls into the category of Good Idea, as it really needs to get done, but it certainly isn’t what I planned to do today. Or probably for the rest of the weekend (or at least until I get bored). But I’m going to run with it anyway.

And as a quick update to an earlier post, the picture scanning is still in progress… although I didn’t get everything done in time to use my Groupon (despite a desperate attempt at 11:37pm on the night it expired to get an album thrown together). But we discovered that, while the awesome value of $100 for $35 expired on that date, we still get to use the original $35 we spent on the Groupon in the first place. So I didn’t feel too horrible about having it expire, because at least it wasn’t a total waste of money. I still have about 120-ish pictures left to scan, then I have to organize them, make up an album, and get it printed… but it will happen. Eventually. After I CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!

My enablers

So one of my biggest Bad Ideas is still in its infancy but making some creeping progress, so I will reveal its nature right here, right now.

But first, a story.

Part of this Big Bad Idea involves learning woodcarving. To get started on this, I need access to a band saw. Since no one I’ve asked so far has one, I decided to call my dad to see if he or my grandfather had one.

Me: I have a random question for you…

Dad: OK, shoot.

Me: Do we have a band saw?

Dad: No… Pa (my grandfather) used to have one (he was a builder), but he sold it years ago. Why?

Me: Well… me and some friends want to build a carousel, and I need to learn to carve wood.

Dad: Ooh, that’s a great idea! Yeah, a band saw would be the best for that, since you’ll probably be cutting pieces… what, about 2 inches thick?

etc.

Note the distinct lack of “Uh, carousel?” “Shouldn’t you be studying?” or just plain ol’ “WTF?”  Nope… apparently it’s a “great idea.”

Gets better.

Dad: So how big are you planning to make it?

Me: So we thought we’d start with a small one, just four figures.

Dad: Like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Me: Um… yes, actually… exactly like that.

Dad: Nice.

Ha.

Me: Actually the idea came to me while I was at Burning Man, so we might make it an Art Car and mount the carousel on a pickup truck once we’ve removed the bed.

Dad: Ooh, that sounds really neat! I’d love to help if there’s anything I can do…

So there you have it.

The company I am starting to further this endeavor is called Picycle, and will soon have its own blog going at picycle.wordpress.com. Feel free to follow me over there as well.

This only encourages the crazy.

Every so often, something good will come out of a Bad Idea. Or at least it seems good. For certain definitions of “good,” which are, of course, usually bad.

Anyway.

Nearly two years ago, I impulsively responded to the Craigslist ad of an electronic band looking for a female singer. I’d never really sang before (other than the occasional foray into my own “band,” which sounded pretty terrible and hardly counts), and certainly had never taken any voice lessons. Nonetheless, I threw caution to the wind, and figured nothing bad could possibly come of it, since if I sucked, they’d probably just ignore me. No harm, no foul.

A few rounds of black-box-style auditions later, I somehow got the job. The “band” turned out to be one very sweet, kinda geeky guy, who possessed talent and stage fright in equal (fairly significant) amounts.

After two years of various obstacles and diversions (as it turns out, he is one of us, which is probably part of why we get along so well despite usually wanting to strangle each other), we are finally about to complete a full-length album. We also performed live for the first time ever last week, opening for another band that was also very nice and kinda geeky (but which actually had three guys in it).

Since I likewise possess talent and stage fright in approximately equal (although slightly less significant) amounts, the performance pretty much consisted of him hiding behind a laptop and keyboard, and me clinging to the microphone with some kind of death grip, except without as much style as, say, Beth Gibbons of Portishead manages when clinging to the microphone as though if she were to let go, the weight of her pain would cause her to dissolve into a puddle of emotional turmoil on the floor next to her fallen cigarette ashes.

But alas, I submit photographic proof of yet another Bad Idea at least partially executed:

We may look all industrial chic, but we're mostly trying really f$king hard not to faint or puke.

 

Since my primary objective since childhood has been to play music at all available opportunities, I’m pretty proud of this one. I’ll be even more proud once the damn album is done.

And best(?!) of all, we get to do it again in a few weeks, as we’ll be playing in Albany in early December. Huzzah.

As an aside, our manager told me they had nearly a hundred people respond to that initial ad on Craigslist looking for a singer. How I ended up being “the one” with absolutely zero training or experience is still beyond me, especially in a city with so many professional and wannabe-professional alternative-style singers due to the close proximity of certain musically-oriented colleges.

But I’ve taken a whopping eight singing lessons since then, from a really excellent teacher (who actually used to sing for my bandmate’s other band), which helped immensely. I’ve also been told I sound like a cross between Natalie Merchant and Sarah McLachlin, which I take as a huge compliment, because they’re both fabulous (and gorgeous). Except when Master P uses too much pitch correction. Then I sound like the bastard child of Cher and T-Pain, which is much less complimentary (and I think I’ll skip the gold grills and thong-with-fishnets combo).

Picture This! …and that… and that…

So I don’t think it counts as “scope creep” if the project starts off as a doozy, but this one creeped a little before it even got started, so maybe it does.

Semantics.

Anywho… one of my long-time aspirations has been to gather, organize, and properly store all of my photographs. Part of my motivation is archival: I would be deeply disappointed if I lost them, as I enjoy looking through them from time to time and re-living all the stupidity memories. So I’d really like to have a digital copy of everything on a drive in my fire-proof safe, just in case.

The other part of my motivation is because I am nothing if not completely anal-retentive about organization. This does not mean I’ve achieved such a state of Organization-Next-To-Godliness, only that I aspire to it.

So the plan started with “Scan old photos for preservation” and eventually creeped up to “Search out all photos online of everything I’ve ever done in the entire history of the Universe and download” so that I can also have an archive of pictures that other people took of things I participated in.

Then I thought, “Hey, why stop there?! Wouldn’t it be nice to take the best of all those pictures and consolidate them into one neatly printed, hard-cover photo album covering the first 30 years of my life that can be easily perused while sipping a cup of tea during bouts of nostalgia? Why yes, that would be lovely!”

Now we’re creepin’!

In usual form, I went ahead and procured supplies for an un-started project by purchasing a Groupon for $100 worth of photo-related items such as nicely printed albums, and only paid $35 for it. I thought it would be a great idea to gather up all these photos and then get them printed in one nice, neat book.

And in usual form, it’s been nearly a year since I did this, which means the Groupon expires in three weeks. Go me.

So I now have a big ol’ pile of photos to scan, and a whole lotta time to spend on the internet searching for pictures taken by friends of stuff that I’ve done. I am determined to complete this Spectacular Ongoing Project by the Groupon deadline so I can use my awesome deal, and so I can cross it off the list.

Piles of photo albums

An explosion of photographic goodness

Updates will be forthcoming.

Reality Distortion Field

What normal people see:

What normal people see

A giant ball of string

What I see:

Sketch

Do not adjust your monitor.

And like Libosaurus, I can’t help the near-crazed compulsion that overtakes me when I decide that the Whole World needs to see what I see.

The pattern is only partially written, because I generally lack the patience to do all the math when I’m itching to get started on the actual creation of the item. Then of course I’m on a roll and I get to the point where I stopped writing the pattern… and I hit a wall (figuratively, luckily for me and the wall). I have to break my knitting momentum to go back and finish the pattern, which isn’t really a big deal but is still enough to be annoying.

Couple that with the fact that the stitch pattern I chose is a real $@%^# to get right (and is VERY unforgiving… I’ve probably definitely spent at least as much time un-knitting as knitting)… And I’m using Size 0 needles… And the bamboo “yarn” I selected isn’t much thicker than dental floss…

We’re now looking at a Total Completion Time that is best measured in years rather than hours (or days, even weeks).

Nonetheless, progress is happening, even if at a snail’s pace (without all the slime, of course), and so far the results are exactly as I pictured in my head. Which thrills me beyond belief and keeps me going.

Front of sweater

Phase I: Complete

To help encourage actual progress, I’ve made a Knitting Rule: I am only allowed to have two projects going at once (one at home, and one at school). I’m also not allowed to purchase yarn for any more projects until everything on my list is DONE (or, more realistically, I’m down to 2-3 projects left… that would be OK). I finished or frogged everything but the project above, and started on a really nice purple sweater that I will post in the next few days. So I have two projects in the works, and 10 others in the queue. I also still have a few bins full of yarn that isn’t destined for any particular project. At some point, I will go through it and either designate it or give it away, because I am so totally kicking ass like that.

Until then, I will continue to remind myself that I can’t really go out in public wearing half a sweater.

A Kind of Success

I have completed a project! That’s right, finished. I now have an upright shelving unit in my bedroom closet on which to store my shirts! No matter that what I was trying to do was install a shelf along the back wall of the closet, which is still not even started. Its still a success and I intend to treat it like one.

My Enabler in Chief

I had to recruit the assistance of my enabler in chief.

This is how a lot of my bad ideas end.  With a successful completion of a project entirely different from the one I intended to do.  But hey, it looks awesome, and I now have more storage, and it is organized like a BOSS, which is what I wanted.  Its now 10PM and I don’t really have time to finish putting together the other new shelves I bought… but of course, I am going to do so anyways, because sleeping is overrated.

I did it!

Doesn't it look great?

Addendum:

This project can be upgraded to FULL SUCCESS.  The new cabinets went together without a hitch, and thirty minutes later, I’ve got me that shelf in my closet I’d been wanting.  Complete with baskets, bins, and whatnot.  How ’bout that, eh?

both shelves

Look at that. Two shelves for the price of one. Sort of.

The finished shelf

At long last, I have a shelf! Added bonus: Monkey!

Feels good to be done.

Miss part of the story?  Part I  |  Part II  |  Part III

Well that didn’t work.

Scope creep has nothing on me.

So, you remember that shelving unit I was going to put in my closet with cloth drawers in it, that the drawers don’t fit in?  The one I was going to buy a second one of?  Yeah.  Um.  About that.

I actually made it to the hardware store and bought another shelving unit.  Then I went to Target to check out bins.  At that point it became very painful clear that there were absolutely NO bins that would A) fit  B) in reasonable colors that wouldn’t look awful and C) be sold in the quantity I would require.

Out of curiosity I went to the next aisle to look at the shelving units.  They had one that was perfect.  Made to fit the cloth boxes, and in the correct orientation.  CRAP!  So, after some hemming and hawing, I decided to buy three of those shelves, which will fit about the same space as the original two shelves.  The shelf that is currently being built, I took a wild guess and said it will probably fit, upright, in another part of my closet.  Maybe.

She's Mocking Me

I think she's mocking me.

For those of you playing the home game, that makes six cabinets I’ve bought now, one which is halfway assembled, two I’m returning.  The three that are actually going to serve as my shelf – which you might remember was the original project – are sitting in boxes, mocking me with their cold cardboard stares.

I have two shelves to return and none of the things I bought are going to the places where I was planning to put them.  I forgot all about stacking wood with a friend who was coming over.  I gave in to scope creep twice.  I started yet another project, editing video of me putting together the shelves.  The shelf I had been assembling is going to go somewhere that will require me to rearrange my closet for it to fit.  It is now 8PM, and I’m updating my blog and eating dinner instead of finishing any of the things that need doing.  Bad Ideas?  Ohhhhhh yes.

The Closet Of Madness, Act I | The Closet of Madness, Act II | The Closet of Madness, Act III: The incomprehensible conclusion

The project is going sideways. Already.

I got distracted.   Moments after hitting ‘Post’, a tuna fish sandwich magically appeared in my lap, as prepared by my glorious enabler of a husband.  He asked if I wanted one and I forgot that I’d said yes.

I have successfully accomplished eating a tuna fish sandwich without getting distracted.  GO ME!

Now what was I doing?  Oh yeah, my closets.

I managed to gather my manic need to do All of the things, and ambled out to the car to procure my supplies.  Because I am easily distracted, and also because I really want to blog about this, I stopped to take pictures.  Look!  Pictures!

All my supplies, at least til I go buy more.

A bucket.  On my head.

I got distracted while bringing in the dust pan I bought, and had to take a picture with it on my head.

You know what would be good planning?  Reading the box to find out what tools I need, before I take out all of the stuff from the box and get started.  I announced to my personal live-in enabler that I was going to do that, and then promptly got distracted by the NEED to go measure the closet to see how many shelves I can fit.

The closet is 90 inches.  That means I can fit two of these great shelving units, which means I’m probably going to go buy another one.

Also, it has become apparent that i was not thinking too clearly about how this shelving unit was going to work on its side instead of upright.  The shelves aren’t going to just stand for being shoved in and propped up, they’ll flop and wobble all over.  I’m pretty sure that’s not what shelves are supposed to do.  I’m probably going to have to nail them in place to keep them together.  I have a brad nailer, so yay!  An excuse to play with more power tools.

This project is already getting complicated.

I never did end up fetching tools – after unpacking the whole box and reading the instructions I decided I couldn’t be bothered to fetch tools and made my enabler go get them for me.

During construction I ran into a few other snags.  Shockingly.  Like the fact that the cloth bins don’t actually fit inside.  Guess I’m going to have to buy some smaller ones.

So, off to the store I go, again!  The plan is to buy one more shelving unit, and new cloth bins.  I actually got measurements for the bins this time.  And some safety glasses to wear while I use the brad nailer.  I’m pretty sure I don’t need any other things.  I’m returning the shelf brackets, having given up on my original (simple) plan of hanging the shelf.  I’m bringing the enabler, so maybe that will keep me from any additional scope creep.

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