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.

Previous: The project’s innocent start | Next: Doomy doom doom doom.

Home Improvement Day. Apparently.

Hi, I’d like one day pass to Bad Idea Land.   Yes, the full admission, including the water park.  Thanks.

I should have known that today was going to be a Bad Idea kind of day by the way I had the urge do do SOMETHING from the moment I woke up, but no specific things in mind.  That’s usually a sign.

The project I’ve settled on is hanging this shelf in my closet.  It isn’t actually a shelf, it is two sturdy pieces of really nice scrap wood.  I’ve been planning to hang them in my closet for months, if only I had brackets for them.  Today, I suddenly have the overwhelming urge to hang them.  Immediately.  I cannot bear to live another day in a closet without a shelf!

Reasons this is a Bad Idea:

Impulsive approach.

How many other important projects am I ignoring in favor of doing this very minor one?  No clue, don’t care.  Those will get done eventually, probably. I can’t think about them, the pressure to do this thing is too great.  Or at least it was, before I got distracted by blogging about it.

Not taking thorough enough measurements.

I got the depth of the shelves and the height. But of course, since I was just buying brackets for the shelf, I didn’t know I’d need to know the length of the wall.

I also have no idea how many studs there are in the wall, where they are located, or how many brackets I need for the length of shelf I’ve got.  I didn’t really think about that.

Making assumptions.

My shelves are 10.5″ deep.  I got a bracket designed for 14-18″ shelves.  I’m assuming I can rip the second shelf smaller and put them both on the same bracket… maybe.  Only time will tell.

In-store scope creep.

I had a very, very simple plan.  Go to the hardware store, buy some brackets to put up my shelf.  And then my eye was caught by shelving units.  Uh oh.  They were so pretty!  And they are the right height, if I set them on their side instead of using them upright!   The price tag swayed me briefly, but I was able to talk myself into it with the promise of how awesome my closet is going to be.   It will be organized like a BOSS.

And OOH PRETTY, I can put some of those cool fabric bins I’ve always wanted in them, and they are right next to each other on the shelf!  So what if that is another factor of scope creep. I swear, they design these stores just for people like me who are easily distracted OOH SHINY.

Vague plans.

Gotta be honest, I don’t really know what I’m doing.  Generally I have a plan.  Put together the two shelving units and put them in the closet, and then put in the brackets and mount the shelf above them.  Ish.  I may rest the shelf on the top of the lower one, or mount it five inches above, or more… I don’t really know.  We’ll see.  Something will happen!  I might even ditch the shelf and the brackets, and go for just these shelving units, in which case I may need to go back to the store and buy another. If it’ll fit.  But I have no clue how much wall space I have!

Getting distracted.

The purchases are still out in my car, and I’m sitting on the couch blogging about it.  This is TOTALLY IMPORTANT, you guys.  Seriously.  I swear I’ll get to it, those things aren’t going to sit in my car and/or closet for the next four months before I actually get around to doing the work, probably.

Forgot to account for important factors.

Like the need for screws, both to attach the shelf to the brackets, and the brackets to the walls.  I see another trip to the hardware store in my future.  I probably have screws, maybe.  We’ll see.  We tend to pack-rat that sort of shiny thing, and the odds are good that I have some in close to the right size.  And bolt cutters.

Things I did right:

  • Remembering to bring my measuring tape to the store.   Note that I don’t say INTO the store, I left it out in the car.  Oops?
  • Remembering to measure the depth of the shelves, and the available space below the kneewall.  Though to be fair I only remembered to get the height because the husband suggested it.
  • Took the time to think about what items I want to put on the shelves, and pictured them on the shelves.  It looked great in my head.  I have no idea if those things will fit on the shelves how I want, but I’ll figure that out.
  • Talked myself out of buying two shelving units, which might not fit in the space available.  Although I did buy another smaller one, which will definitely fit, but I might want to put it elsewhere in the closet.

Alright!   I’m off to go put some things together and see what happens!  Will I finish the project before I get bored of it?  Will the need to go on another run to the hardware store make me lose interest, or bankrupt me?  Who knows!

Wish me luck, Internet.  I’ll let you know what happens.

Next up: Project planning iceberg ahead.

Chaos Ahoy!

Greetings, funseekers!

I’ve been dragging my feet on making a First Post because (a) Lib set the bar of Awesomely Bad so high that the pressure’s really on, and (b) I have so many Bad Ideas that I don’t really know where to begin.

OK, mostly B. Sorry for trying to throw you under the Crazy Bus there, Lib-o-saur… 😛

My Bad Ideas usually fall into two distinct categories:

  • Ridiculous applications of things I already know how to do. These can be particularly insidious, because they don’t SEEM like Bad Ideas initially. They BECOME Bad Ideas because I dramatically overestimate how many of them I can reasonably get done while still doing other things. Some examples:
  • I want to transform almost every ball of yarn I touch into some kind of awesome self-designed sweater. In theory, this is fine since (a) I know how to knit (extremely well, if I can toot my own horn for a sec here), (b) I know how to write patterns for self-designed garments, and (c) I probably already own whatever size needles I need to make this happen. It becomes a problem when I want to do this with EVERY BALL OF YARN IN THE WORLD OMG, such that I have no less than 4 22-gallon storage bins full of Future Sweaters in my basement. And if I do out the math, even if I quit doing everything other than eating chocolate and sleeping for 6 hours a night (you know, the bare necessities), it would take me something like 3 years to finish them all.
  • I want to write a ballet. I’m not crazy enough to think I can actually choreograph one (although if someone else wants to do this, I won’t stop you…), but I want to write one. Again, I play several different instruments, and know everything I need to know about the others to make this possible. I even own software such that I could write out the parts in a nice, neat, lovely printed format and have a virtual orchestra play it for me. But seriously? A ballet? I should really be writing a dissertation. Which was a whole other Bad Idea in itself.
  • Enormous projects that sound spectacular, but for which I possess none of the necessary skills. I’m a pro at this, and especially at getting other people excited for such projects. However, I often dramatically underestimate the learning curve on the skills I will need to execute such projects. My current Big Bad Idea falls into this category, but I’m not ready to divulge that one publicly just yet. Other examples might include:
  • Similar sewing troubles as recounted in previous entries by other conspirators. I am an OK sewer, but almost always take on MUCH bigger projects than my simple curtain-hemming skills can handle. As such, I get frustrated when I’m trying to Learn-As-I-Go, and usually end up ditching the project before it really has a chance.

However, I aspire not just to be a Generator of Bad Ideas, but also to be a Reliable Executor of Bad Ideas. I was greatly inspired by attending Burning Man this year, where I was surrounded by literally TENS OF THOUSANDS of people who would dream up completely ridiculous ideas… and then execute them… AND drag them out into the desert in the middle of nowhere so others could enjoy them! It was a transformative experience, but probably not in the traditionally-expected Burning Man sense.

So for my part, I’ve been trying to pare down the Lame Bad Ideas so I can focus on the Awesome Bad Ideas. This has been a process for me, and one where I’ve had to learn to let go of some projects that I know will never get done because my heart just isn’t in them anymore (if indeed it ever was in some cases). So while I will certainly be documenting many Bad Ideas here in this very blog, my goal is to document their progress and (hopeful) successful completion rather than just their conception.

So join me, yes? You know you love us. That’s why you’re here, and why we love you, too.

The Ghost of a Ladybug

I have a secret confession to make. Its a Bad one, so brace yourself.

I own a sewing machine.

GASP! HORROR!

Yeah yeah, it doesn’t sound so awful, does it?  At least until I let you in on my other secret confession:   I can’t sew.  Oh sure, I can make simple things, like pillows and blankets.  Things that are square, with straight lines.  I’ve even successfully hemmed pants.

I am fascinated with the idea of making my own clothing.  I have been ever since I was a little girl.  Not knowing what I was doing, I attempted to construct outfits for my teddy bears and barbie dolls, using scraps of fabric and elmer’s glue.  The resulting misshapen, stiff garment-alikes were never used for long before they were discarded.

Disaster struck the day I inherited my mother-in-law’s unused sewing machine, along with a box of thread in every color, buttons, even a repair kit.  But the machine never worked right, either due to mechanical flaw or my own failing in setting it up properly.  I blamed my inability to make anything on the way it would bunch up the fabric and ruin my projects before they even got started.

Then I bought a new sewing machine, and actually took the time to learn to use it.   I no longer had an excuse.  Nope, I just can’t sew.

I still like to pretend I can sew.  I’m smart, I can figure it out, right?  I look at fabric and I see so much delicious potential.  Its why I have four piles of fabric, with matching thread, buttons, and other “notions*” sitting in my craft pile.  I look at them and can still picture in my head the skirts and shirts they might one day be.  I can picture some of the steps required to construct them.  Not all, but some.

It might help if I could follow a pattern.  I tried once. I got an entire pair of pants traced and halfway cut out.  I even got so far as sewing together the pocket.   Now, seven years later, I still own a pile of pieces of pre-pant, and one very nice pocket.

Despite knowing full well that I cannot sew, I still somehow seem to think that I can.  I think it is a form of madness, brought on by the smell of fresh fabrics, the tactile excitement of running my fingers over soft cottons.   “I can totally do this,” is the lie I tell myself, followed quickly with “…and I’m totally gonna this time.”   As though it is only loss of steam that stalls my sewing, instead of the truth, that I just don’t know what I’m doing and I give up when it is obvious that I have ruined something beyond my ability to repair.  I don’t even know how to use a seam ripper properly!

My delusions of grandeur lead me to believe that I can make not only simple items, but complicated, involved projects like a halloween costume.  So one year, I was determined to make myself a ladybug costume.  Complete with a second set of jointed arms that moved along with my real arms.  It would look SO COOL!  My mental image made it look pretty awesome, at least.  The fact that I had no idea how to make one was no concern, I’d figure it out as I went along, like I always do.  I made a few sketches that were extremely rough, but already showing that I had no idea what I was doing.  I ignored that fact, and proceeded to Goodwill to buy some supplies, and then to the fabric store for more.

I got as far as doing some passable shirt Mad Science, grafting the shoulders and arms from one shirt onto another.  Some foam tubes provided the stiffness for the arms, and a pair of blown-up Nitrile gloves stuffed into a pair of gloves would be passable for a second set of hands.  Lacking anything better, I used some thread to attach it to my arm at the appropriate points.

At this point, it was looking pretty good.  I decided to make a mock-up of my idea for the vest and beetle shell.  And then.. it gets a little fuzzy in memory.  The Madness had overtaken me, which is never a good sign.  I can’t recall exactly what happened, but I do remember the aftermath, of realizing that I had no idea how to make a vest.   It took about three  years for me to give up on this idea, though I never revisited it.  I did eventually manage to let it go enough that I could throw away the evidence of my failure.

Maybe I’ll sign up for a sewing class.

* Notions are one of those things I absolutely LOATHE about sewing, and one reason why I won’t follow a pattern.  I just unreasonably hate the term.  It sounds so stupid.  Notions are the crazy schemes in my head, not an actual real thing that I need to buy!  I actually don’t know what it means, but I dislike it anyways.

But where do bad ideas come from?

Watching this video, I can only come to two conclusions:

1) We are totally incubators of ideas stuffed full of half formed hunches. And we surround ourselves with people who drop other ideas all the time.

2) Oh hey, I should make drawing my hobby again some time soon.

Those are the right messages to take away, right?

Hallo, Weenie.

Tonight’s unbearably strong impulse is to carve a pumpkin.

Fortunately, I possess no pumpkins.  Cleanup is the bane of my existence, requiring far too much follow through to hold my interest.  Late at night, it would have doubtless been forgotten.  I would have wandered off, full of the smug satisfaction of a masterpiece completed, and leaving in my wake a gory mess of pumpkin guts, smeared across the tools and table to dry into a hard semi-permanent crust.  Pumpkin chunks intended to become pie would desiccate on the table into a shanty town for my fruit fly population, seeds left in a bowl on the counter never to be roasted.

Despite knowing the likely outcome, It was all I could do to resist taking off at 10PM on a gourd-finding expedition.  I was secretly hoping for an All Hallows Eve miracle.  A horrible accident involving a pumpkin truck outside my door, or the pumpkin fairy magically manifesting in my kitchen and turning my common every day boring food items into carvable cucurbits.  I even posted to facebook that someone should fetch me a pumpkin, knowing it would never happen but wishing that some intrepid enabler would hear my plea.

Instead of seeking out a pumpkin, I will placate the beast by posting photos of pumpkins from years past.  These are examples of terrible ideas that turned out pretty okay, in the end.


2005 was the year that I decided five pumpkins was a fantastic number of pumpkins to carve.  It started with a week of sketching, to make the perfect pumpkin plan.  I carried a stack of drawings with me everywhere I went; work, dining out, to my parent’s house, and erased and redrew and traced furiously until I had my templates ready.

I can recall, about halfway through the last pumpkin, hand stained orange and cramping from hours of delicate carving with a flimsy blade on an awful plastic handle, thinking that there might be something wrong with me.  But I absolutely could not rest until I had made one carving from each of my chosen templates.

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The next few years were pretty tame, as far as pumpkin carving goes.   I’d learned my lesson, it seemed, and avoided the Madness.  I carved at my parent’s house so my mom would clean up after me, and stuck to one or two pumpkins only.

Then came 2008.  Somehow my addlepated hampster-mind managed to cling to the idea that five pumpkins all at once was bad.  But purchasing a brand new chisel set from one of my favorite stores, Harbor Freight, in order to carve pumpkins BETTER was a great idea.  Sure, I’d never used a chisel and had no idea how.  But that wasn’t going to stop me.

Fortunately, pumpkins are a very forgiving art form, and near-disaster was averted.