The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

July 26, 2009

Bringing Nothing to the Table

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 2:33 am

Once again, I should probably apologize for the recent lack of posts here.  Over the past week I’ve been busy with all sorts of nothing in particular, very little of which seems to end up here for some reason.  I’ve actually got a number of things in the queue that I need to catch up on (including an update on the construction at Redmond Center and some actual work on something over at Factoria Mall,) and I should be doing some of these within the next few days.  In the meantime there’s also my Twitter feed on the right side of the page which gets updated relatively often (or can be found here, for those of you who might be reading on RSS.)

One part of the stuff I’ve been dealing with recently is some uncertainty with regards to my housing situation here, a concern which has now been resolved.  The lease on my apartment was coming up for renewal at the end of this month, and the initial renewal offer that was made by apartment management, although it was somewhat lower than the previous lease, was still not only well above the going rate for similar apartments around here, but also well above the maximum monthly rate for this style of apartment as listed on their own website.  Naturally this wasn’t going to work out, so I did some searching for nearby apartments in the area, and found that I could quite easily get a much better rate than what I was being offered here.  I’ve never been all that thrilled with the prospect of moving (which probably explains why I’ve spent nearly four years living here)  and I have actually quite liked where I was, so I was keeping my options open for staying if I could get a more reasonable rate.  Finally after a carefully worded 2AM nastygram to apartment management was issued, they came back with a much more reasonable rate, although at that point I had yet to make my decision one way or the other.  Ultimately although I looked at a couple of places with some advantages (and disadvantages) over where I am now, I couldn’t really think of any overwhelming reason one way or the other, and decided to just stay put for another year.  On the other hand, a couple of months ago there was the rather distinct possibility that I could have ended up packing everything up for a move to Utah around this time, but that’s a story I’ll save for later.

Anyway, with the apartment situation settled, there are a number of things that I have been looking to do for a while now, mostly with regards to rearranging my den here and making another doomed attempt at decluttering the place.  The biggest trouble spot in here is the rather large desk, which has a nasty tendency to accumulate stuff at a rather alarming rate.  I’ve made a number of attempts to try to get rid of some of this, but the accumulation just keeps coming back.  This makes it difficult to use the desk for much of anything besides the computer.  Another issue that makes it difficult to do much with the desk is the fact that the lighting in here is pretty horrible right now.  The one lamp I have for ambient lighting doesn’t provide nearly enough light to do much besides not trip over things on the floor (another ongoing problem area,) and there really isn’t much of anywhere to put another one (I blame the guy who stuck a giant arcade game over in the corner to sit around and hog all the space.)  I also seem to have inherited my mother’s distaste for overhead lighting, so that’s not an option (and the one overhead fixture in here is even more worthless than the lamp anyway.)  Finally, up until yesterday, an old armchair that I got from my parents when I moved into this place took up a fair bit of space on the back wall of the den, and pretty much never got used.  Eventually it too began to accumulate assorted detritus, rendering it even more useless. 

In an effort to not only solve these problems but also to provide a designated workspace where I can tinker with RC cars and other assorted projects, and to fill in the big hole left by the removal of the old armchair, I have decided to put together some sort of basic workbench.  Since I also planned to get some drawers that I might be able to use to store away some of the crud on the desk, it had become necessary to make yet another perilous journey into the vaguely Eurocentric modernist realm of Ingvar the Terrible, the Deadly Tunnel of Furniture (well hey, it’s not like I can afford anything TOO nice here at this point.)  Fortunately, I think I’ve got a reasonable handle on the place by now (I even know where most of the shortcuts are so I don’t have to slog through the bedding department.)  Unfortunately a couple of the items I went looking for were not in stock, and the set of drawers I had originally planned to buy turned out to be junk, but I found something else that would provide more space and look a bit less clashy for the same price, and ended up getting that instead.  I also managed to find a relatively inexpensive table made of semi-cheap solid wood rather than cheap particle board, and decided to pick that up. 

Ikea likes to tout that this particular line of tables lets you make all sorts of different combinations by choosing different tabletops and legs.  What this means is that they don’t even bother providing instructions on how to assemble it, requiring a somewhat uncharacteristic bit of improvisation to put this together.    In fact, I think this might be the first thing I’ve ever bought from there that didn’t come with a vague set of wordless directions.  I think even the cookies over in the food section came with an instruction sheet.  On the other hand, there wasn’t anything too difficult to figure out, at least in theory.  Each of the table legs (sold separately) came with a sheet of directions which seems almost entirely superfluous, since I think a resourceful three year old could have figured out that part.  Getting the legs onto the table itself was the tricky part, since there weren’t any visible holes to be found.  There are a couple of vague notches in the wood to suggest where these might go, but I didn’t figure that out until two of the four legs were already attached.  Fortunately, stuff I remembered from my High School geometry class (which I think may have been the only math class in high school I did better than a C+ in) got this part figured out, and thanks to a drill I borrowed from my Dad, I got it put together in a somewhat presentable fashion. 

The next job on the agenda is sanding and staining, since the table came unfinished.  Fortunately, thanks to having a father with a large collection of power tools, I was able to borrow a random orbit sander with which I could make short work of the sanding, and the first coat of stain went on this evening (at which point I realized a little too late why rubber gloves are suggested for that part.  Once I get the drawers assembled (they’re still in the box right now,) the table finished, and some of the accumulated crud cleaned up, hopefully the den will be a lot more presentable, and I won’t need to do quite so much cropping on any photos I take in here… At least until the next batch of accumulated desk crud shows up anyway.

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May 3, 2009

Well, Whaddya’ Want For a Buck?

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 8:57 pm

I have to admit that right now, my apartment is a bit of a mess.  Without going into too many details (after all, my Mom is probably reading this) it’s been quite a while since I’ve really gone in and done a thorough cleaning of my apartment, and it shows.  Slowly, I’ve been trying to get things back into shape one room at a time, but so far, the whole process seems to be at the stage where it seems like you’ve been working on stuff for a while, but there doesn’t seem to be any visible progress.   Still, in an effort to avoid being too much of a slob, I continue on with my ill-fated spring cleaning attempt.

In the process of doing this, I have been trying to go in and clean up some parts of the bathroom that don’t usually get covered by the regular cleanings.  One of these areas is the shower curtain liner, which really starts to get nasty after a while, and at this point had reached the point of not really being worth cleaning, so I just tossed it.  Fortunately I had an extra one around to replace it with, but while I was removing the old one, I noted that the top of the curtain rod was particularly messy, as were the curtain rings.  For some inexplicable reason, the top of the shower curtain rod seems to accumulate some sort of ominous looking black crud on a regular basis, and a bunch of it had rubbed off on the curtain rings as well.  I have no idea where the stuff would even come from, since nothing but steam and the occasional wandering spider would ever have any reason to go up there.  Regardless of how the stuff gets up there, it was a mess up there, and as long as I was cleaning up there, I might as well take down the rings and clean them up some too, right?

Thus I found myself removing the curtain rings and washing them in the sink, where the water rapidly turned black from all the stuff that had accumulated on the rings.  It seemed to be bad enough that it actually took some scrubbing to get all of the crud off of the things, after which the water was drained and another sinkful of water was drawn to rinse them off with.  It quickly became obvious that even the scrubbing hadn’t really cleaned them off all that well, and another round of scrubbing left the second batch of water somewhat less black than the first, but enough so to be at least mildly disconcerting.  Eventually I reached the point where the rings seemed to be clean, and left them to dry for a bit (not that there was really any need to do so.)  Of course, when it came time to put them back up after their far-too-laborious cleaning…

Sure enough, one of the things breaks, thus rendering the whole process an exercise in futility.  Of course, given the fact that I paid all of 99 centsfor these things at Ikea back when I first moved into my apartment several years ago, I probably don’t have much room to complain when one of the things breaks.  I suppose there’s supposed to be a valuable lesson hidden in this somewhere, but since I’m probably destined to stubbornly repeat my mistake at some point in time, I’m not going to bother looking too hard to find it.  Oh well, guess I didn’t really need a shower tonight all that much anyway…

July 21, 2008

Reruns: The Deadly Tunnel of Furniture

Filed under: Ancient History, Reruns — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 1:30 am

One of the things that I have been meaning to do on here, but haven’t ever gotten around to actually doing is to bring over a few of the more interesting posts from some of my earlier efforts at writing stuff on the Internet, perhaps adding a bit of commentary that a few additional years of wisdom and/or painful learning experiences might have added to the mix.  In addition to the original website from which this Blog gets its name (which for some inexplicable reason I keep a link to on the sidebar, there was another Blog over on Blogspot that I wrote on intermittently on for about a year or so before getting sick of Blogger and abandoning it to the great big bit bucket of Internet limbo, where it remains to this day. 

This weekend’s festivities (or lack thereof) included a trip to the local IKEA store, since the chair from which I write this Blog was starting to get just a tad ripped up and worn out.  In the process, I was reminded of a post from my earlier Blog, dated August 22nd, 2004 in which I detailed a prior trip to IKEAwhen I purchased a (sort of) nice new computer desk with which to replace the old folding tables that had previously held the computers in the den.  That particular desk, as well as some of the other furniture which was acquired at that time, remains in use here to this day, since I have found little need to bother replacing it with anything else.  I’d provide photos, but right now my desk is a serious mess (andI’ve been putting off actually doing anything about cleaning it off for way too long now,) so I’ll refrain from the time being.  Besides, the last time I posted a picture of something in my house, I had multiple siblings tell me I needed to clean stuff up, and I’m sure that the same thing would result from this. 

Anyway, the original post (found after the jump) is presented in basically unedited form, with the exception of correcting some of the numerous typos that were contained in the original post (I’m sure I missed some of those anyway.)  I’m not going to bother providing a link to the original source of this post, but I’m sure anyone ambitious enough to actually search for it could probably find it without too much trouble, warts and all.  If I ever bother cleaning my desk, I’ll probably make another post on that, and some of the other stuff I saw at IKEA when I was there this weekend.  Again, the original post is found after the jump.

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