Sunday, December 19, 2010

I Like Machines

I've come to realize my affinity for machines. How and why they work, why they stop working, and so on.

When I bought my reel mower two summers ago it was for environmental reasons and to stop wasting money on fuel for my gas mower. What I didn't know is how amazing it was to see five helical blades spin around, sheering the grass and throwing it aside like a scythe cutting wheat. Very cool.

But machines need maintenance or will otherwise stop working. Now, at the end of 2010, I think back on the on my recent machine repairs around the KSModern home. They include the following:

  • The clothes dryer stopped working. Well, it actually was the drum that wouldn't turn. But a couple of hours replacing a belt and about $20 later, it's as good as ever
  • The clothes washer also needed repair. It worked, but the agitator stopped agitating. This was a very simple fix, after spending about $5 on the agitator dogs and maybe 20 minutes on the repair
  • The dishwasher. The worst of them all. I nearly paid $500 for a new one at Sears. In fact, I bought it, but then cancelled my order when I realized I could replace the pump motor myself. It was only about $25, but wow was this a lot of back breaking work
  • A Marshall amplifier that I picked up from the trash. I replaced the input jack, soldered it to the board and it works like new
  • An Epiphone Les Paul. My bandmate had this guitar as a broken spare. Someone had left it at the bar after a gig, but never returned to pick it up. It was heavily abused and needed work, and I brought it back to life and it now plays quite well, actually
  • A Hanns-G 17" widescreen monitor for my girlfriend. This was a broken monitor from work. I found another on the eBay to use as a spare, then replaced the internal power board and LCD module to get it going
  • A Sylvania 17" widescreen LCD TV for my daughter. Not technically a repair, but its functionality was unknown and my company was going to recycle it. I salvaged it and bought an AC adapter on the eBay for $15. Works great
  • Three desktop computers from parts that my company was going to recycle. One Vista machine and two XP. All three are nice clean systems

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Nojs Alarm Clock

I've been looking for a new alarm clock for over a year, after my Oregon Scientific unit inexplicably stopped working. But it's surprising how few modern alarm clocks are out there. One that I really like is the Anything Clock by Michael Sodeau, but while at Ikea Houston earlier this month I found the Nojs. This clock must be new, because I've browsed through their clocks before and nothing really caught my eye. I mean, I like the Slabang and the Kvarta, but they're just not quite perfect for me.

But the Nojs looked great in the store, and for $12.99 it was a steal. A white clock is what I wanted, and luckily enough the Nojs is only available in white. Perfect.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dining Room Completion

This phase of the dining room project is where it all starts to take shape. A renovation always looks ugly before it looks better, but along the way you get the glimmer of things to come. That's what keeps me motivated to push on.

With the walls stripped bare, I hoped to prime and paint in a day or two. What I didn't count on was how my mudding and taping needed extra days to sand, reapply, and repeat. But if you don't take your time do a good job at this, the walls will look bad. Along the way I invested in a great tool: the drywall sander vacuum attachment. Purchased at for about $25, this tool hooks up to your shop-vac and significantly reduces the dust in the air as you sand the joint compound. I'd say as much as 90% of the dust is removed.

Of course, when I first turned on the shop-vac and began sanding the dust just blew out of the vacuum exhaust into the room. Grrr. So I wedge the shop-vac in the window to blow the dust outside.

Once complete with the sanding, I primed the walls white:

A day or two later, I applied the paint:

With the walls painted, I replaced the old black baseboard with fresh white:

Here is the room nearly complete, it just needs paint on the window:

And shown here is the finished room:

With the room looking so nice, I could not imagine bringing my old furniture back. So I started hunting for the right table and chairs. What I really wanted was the Ikea Docksta tulip-style table. But sadly there is no Ikea in KS and this table is not available online. So I looked at many alternatives from West Elm, CB2, Chiasso, etc. Nothing really caught my eye though.

Then, a few weeks later, I came across an amazing find on the craigslist! Someone listed a Docksta! Are you kidding me? The price was right, so I contacted the seller and soon picked it up. A nice couple in Kansas City (originally from Los Angeles) was selling most of their possessions and moving to Mexico. Here's how it looks:

I bought four Arne Jacobsen Series 7 reproductions for cheap from a company in San Rafael:

I've seen lots of chairs paired with the Docksta table, but I think these look the best. And here is the finished product: