Sunday, August 21, 2011

Boys will be...disgusting

As part of my Urology residency, I am spending 4 months in Asheville, NC working at the Asheville VA hospital.

Fortunately for me, the VA puts all visiting residents up in housing across the street from the hospital.  My apartment can be described as quite dilapidated serviceable.

While the accommodations are on the verge of being condemned leave something to be desired, I was quite happy to see that there was a washer and dryer in the unit.

Now, the last three successive occupants prior to me were all men.  And, I'm coming to realize, NOT laundry experts.

I washed my first load this weekend and then put it in the dryer, happily utilizing one of the dryer sheets from the box left behind by the resident who lived here before me.  Who doesn't love free dryer sheets?  It seemed like an auspicious start.

The machine rattled and hummed, in the standard fashion.  However, when the buzzer sounded, my clothes were a hot, humid, damp mess.

I put them in for more time.

Again, the buzzer sounded -- still wet.

At this point, I realized I hadn't checked the lint trap.  And based on what I found, neither had the last three people who used the dryer over the past year...

It's hard to tell from the photo, but this thing was a good 9" long and 3" high.

I was appalled.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bike vs Car

Our friend Mark has a cool blog called Bike v Car.  Mark got a new car and a new bike on the same day and he has challenged himself to put more miles on the bike than on the car over the coming year.  So far the demands of modern life have allowed the car to jump off the line to a comfortable lead, but the challenge year is still young and, no matter what, the blog is full of Mark's great shots of the English countryside that serve as the backdrop for many of his bike rides.

Obviously, every time I check out Bike v Car I am overcome with jealously that Durham Salad Days does not have its own Bike v Car challenge.  Don't worry, I'm not going to start doing anything crazy like actually riding a bike, but I will present you, my gentle readers, with two of my favorite videos of supreme vehicle control and general derring-do in the hopes of settling the question of superiority between bikes and cars.

First, Danny Macaskill has a pleasant bike ride through an old train station:

Second, Ken Block goes motoring outside Paris:

One video has the best stunts, and one has the best soundtrack.  I suppose it's a tie.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Men are from Mars

While Matt was busy constructing an amazing work bench, I was cruising the Internet and encountered the following quip in this random blog post:

We have married friends who told us a story about when they were in college and had gone out on their first date together. The next morning, each one went down to get breakfast in the dining hall of their respective dorms. She sat down with her cereal and thought about all of the details of last night’s date: Did she like him?  Did he like her? What might happen next?  What would her friends think of him?  When should the meet?  Where would the go next?
But what did he think about when he sat down to eat his bowl of cereal? In his words,  “I was just thinking about the cereal.

I just had to laugh.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Shop Also Rises, Part I: Workbenches

There is no denying that the inside of our home is extremely comely.  Our cute one story brick house has been done up to the eight and a halves (would be "the nines" if only I would finish our bathroom renovation...), but it's low slung brick facade hides a secret.

A menacing secret.
Below our small house hides a HUGE unfinished basement.  Frequent readers of this blog already know that our basement exists, its walls are an ugly green, and it is primarily used for the storage of a mountain of cardboard boxes.  From the very beginning, I knew that the basement had the potential to be more than just a room full of junk, and growing up helping my Dad with "Appalachian" wood projects taught me that a true man needs to have a shop of some kind.  I figured that I owed it to myself to create a shop down in the basement.

Pictured:  Manliness
When I started putting the "shop" together, it mainly consisted of my excellent Ridgid compound miter saw (a wedding gift from college roommates) sitting atop an old desk, so my first order of business was to knock together a couple of workbenches from 2X4s and 1/2 inch plywood.  I built a matching pair to a comfortable height for me with the table top of each just below my elbow. I also added locking casters to the bench on the right so that bench is free to roll across the concrete basement floor.

Mobility = Versatility
 Next, I added pegboard and pegs to the rear of the stationary workbench for storing frequently used hand tools.  I also organized most of my small parts and fasteners that were scattered throughout the basement and placed them in a red small parts bin and set it on the stationary workbench.  I drove nails into the stationary workbench to hang additional tools and accessories.  Finally, I placed the miter saw on the mobile workbench for cutting wherever the project demands!

 With the workbenches done and against the wall, I moved the old desk in behind to use as an auxiliary service and staging area.  Despite what the pictures show, I'm trying to prevent the old desk from becoming simply a place for stashing junk... we'll see how that goes.

There's a shop somewhere under all that mess.
That's it for Part I.  Stay tuned for an exciting sequel in which the shop obtains a new tool!