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Physical Labour

For some reason, working as a software engineer almost completely eliminates any interest in programming when I'm home. I must turn elsewhere for hobbies... And it's living in this house that helped me develop my physical skills.

When I moved here, I painted the ceiling and wall-papered the walls. Then I replaced the window screens, fixed the phone jack and the faucet. Then the sliding closed doors.

But that's still was not enough for me, so I kept going. There were a decrepit dresser and a TV stand in the garage, along with a used mattress and a box spring. They always interfered with the actual point of the garage--parking--and I eventually decided to let them go, too. The problem was that throwing away extra items would cost $30/item, since mattresses obviously wouldn't fit into the tiny trash bins.

So I came up with a plan:

(1) A [cheap] box spring is carton, wood, and a bit of fabric. Fabric is easily torn off from the rest of the box spring, and can be compacted on top of the trash bin. Carton fits into the bigger recycling bin. And wood... I used half of the wood to light up the fireplace, and the other half went into an even bigger "Yard Waste" bin, which accepts wood.

(2) A [cheap] mattress is made of cloth, foam, and a matrix of springs. If you remove the cloth and foam (About 1/6th of a mattress's foam will fit into the remaining space of a trash bin), you'll have rows and columns of springs. Each spring is attached to the 4 adjacent springs (diagonals don't count) by 2 wires, which are, conveniently, thin enough to be cut by wirecutters. If you take a 5x5 chunk of springs and separate them from the rest of the bed, you'll have a section that I classify as "Scrap Metal", which goes into the recycling bin. All you'll have left is the frame, made of 2 long thick wires, which can be curled into being scrap metal.

(3) A dresses makes a really good TV stand! The top of the dresser is a nice piece of wood, strong enough to support a TV. The four poles supporting it can support a TV; trimming them down to 28" will give the finished construction the correct height. The sides are just particle boards, and can be trimmed down to the same height easily. Now, I just need the supporting board in the middle (so that the top board supporting the TV does not cave in) and the floor boards (so that the four poles don't wobble, like excessively-long table legs).

(4) The decrepit TV stand can make good shelves for the garage. (The fact that it's decrepit is the reason that I didn't want to reuse it for my TV: the material it's made of should not support anything fragile.)

(5) I had an extra board from when I assembled my desk. It was meant to hold the keyboard and the mouse, and to slide out from underneath the desk. I knew that I'd never use such a construction, and left the board lying around. Now, it's about to become a new shelf, since it was cut down to the proper size.

So overall, lots of improvements are coming along. We have only 2 more months in this place; and while it might seem crazy that I'm spending so much time on making it better, it's something that actually makes me happy, regardless on what the owners will think.
  • Current Music
    DJ Shah - Magic Island - Music for Balea
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Ever wondered what my user icons were about?

Green HairAfter playing and falling in love with Oni, and experiencing Berkeley for two years, I decided to dye my hair purple. Over time, purple faded to blue, and when I added green, you know what the result looked like: Awesome!
Soaking wetThe first and only time when I was singing "I'm singing in the rain" in the rain. Although the downpour was strong, the water was surprisingly warm--which is why I was soaking wet by the time I took this photo.
Downside-upHooked by my feet in a park in San Diego, hanging upside-down on a sunny day, I asked my parents to take a picture of me. Here it is!
Blankboggyb tells I had this icon when I first joined LiveJournal. Even though I don't remember it, I was fond of the symbolism at the time (as I am still, actually), so there's emptiness.
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Stories

Before I forget, here is what I defined yesterday:

A good fiction book advances through the plot via one of these three techniques: Mission, Mystery, or Maturation. (I decided to use the same first letter for them.) A hero may be guided through the plot by a higher mission (e.g. Frodo must destroy the ring); a hero may need to solve the mystery (e.g. Poirot discoveres who killed Ratchett onboard the Orient Express); or the hero may just be growing up (e.g. Harry Potter 1 & 5; two thirds of Ender's Game; Fahrenheit 451; American Gods). In fact, good stories combine these techniques, and often offer pieces of mysterious overarching plot, with the hero gradually maturing at the same time (e.g. Wizard's First Rule).

Question: am I right? Did I miss anything? Did anyone study this explicitly?

[EDIT] This link is good! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth
  • Current Music
    Corderoy - Sweetest Dreams
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What's with the fascination with insanity that prompts masses of people to identify with outspoken, mentally ill characters? Take Mr. Patrick Buchanan, and one of his articles that I found after following some hyperlinks. It's nonsensical. While the words are arranged into sentences with correctly-placed subjects and verbs (thought the same cannot be said about the punctuation), the sentences do not make any semantic sense:

"But why destroy Hitler? If to liberate Germans, [WW2] was not worth it."

This sufferer of logorrhoea seams to imply that these two sentences make sense when placed side by side, forming a Question-Answer form of rhetoric--unfortunately forgetting that the answer must always correlate with the original question. It's equivalent to the following sentence:

"But why read books? If you like Arthur Dent, then six times nine is not forty two."

This absurdism is beyond humorous; it's irritating. Here are the answers to Buchanan's questions: neither the US nor the UK destroyed Hitler, for he destroyed himself by simultaneously swallowing cyanide and shooting himself in the temple; no one had intended to liberate the Germans; and WW2 was horrid but unavoidable--seeing that no country was willing to acquiesce to Hitler's request to eradicate itself completely.

(That was my interpretation of the statement "it was not worth it". When attacked, it is not only natural but also right for the victim to defend. "Is it worth it" becomes synonymous with "is living worth it". However, seeing how Mr. Buchanan's essay is not an existentialist disquisition--I even doubt that he is capable of writing such--I must answer with a simple affirmation that living is a necessity for the living, by definition.)

Returning to my original question, I must ask: what made Mr. Buchanan so popular? He must have a following of people who can successfully read this entire essay and others like it, manage to extract a logical argument out of his ramblings, and even agree with them. But how can anyone agree with a random string of words? Maybe a large portion of the population is suffering from mental disorders? Is maybe his essays are not read by scanned, while the readers idly nod and conclude "This guy is a genius--he proved that World War Two was really bad! How come no one noticed that before?" Another possible interpretation is that Mr. Buchanan has recently descended into senility, and his editors allowed him to keep his day job out of kindness--and if that is the case, did the same happen to his readers?
  • Current Music
    Black Sun (Ronski Speed Remix)
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Bed!

Suppose you have a queen mattress, but no box spring. Instead of buying a box spring, consider a simple Ikea bed, the Dalselv (which sounds like Dalek Server to me), with about $65 of modifications to make it awesome. If you do, here's what you'll need:
  1. $100 - the actual frame
  2. $5 - a small can of wood stain. I recommend "Natural" colour.
  3. $5 - a small can of polyurethane. I recommend semi-gloss.
  4. $50 - 2 pieces of 0.75" plywood, 30 inches wide, 80 inches long, OR $40 - Ikea slats. This depends on your mattress: don't place a foam mattress on slats, for example.
  5. $5 - 2 foam brushes, 1 mini-tray, and sandpaper.
NB: assemble the bed in the intended room. It's bulky, and doesn't fit through most corridors. Sand and stain the wood. Let sit for 24 hours. Finish the wood with polyurethane. Let sit for another 24 hours. Assemble the bed. Place (sanded) plywood / slats on top of the bed. Voila! You can even keep modifying the bed: replace the metal pillars with wooden dowels, or change the height of the head board... All in all, definitely a great DIY project. :-)

I'll post pictures when it's all ready.