Friday, February 29, 2008

About the allnighter and a rant on appologies on the dance floor

Saturday Deb and I went to the monthly all nighter in Providence. The place was livelier then it was in the last few months, not in small part because of Robin Thomas who managed to convince a NY contingent to show up.

After opening the night with Debbi as usual (we did have a lot of fun with a milonga set) I danced with Kayla, Robin's partner. Despite a cold, she was just as fun as always. The music was great, Robin is one of my favorite DJs and 3 tandas passed in a blink of eye. At some point between tandas I mentioned that in my effort to correct my posture my back tension is ... well... back. She suggested I don't bring my chest forward when I dance, but rather widen my shoulders. That's something I will be trying, as it makes sense to me.

I danced with a couple of women who despite being good dancers kept apologizing for their (perceived) mistakes. This is something I strongly discourage people from doing (unless someone got hurt of course). First, you don't really know if whatever you thought you done wrong was wrong to begin with, second, it's a partner dance, a hiccup in the dance is rarely caused 100% by just one of the dancers. It's generally a shared responsibility. Even if something gone wrong is the fault of one of the dancers, apologizing not only it doesn't help with anything, but it makes things worst. Let's say the hiccup lasted for a second or two. If you keep silent and concentrate on the dance, that's all there is to it. If you apologize you take another 2-3 seconds and then if your partner feels like they are to blame they will take a few seconds to reply. So, instead of a 2 second disruption from the dance, now it's a 10 second disruption. My advice is, don't apologize unless someone gets hurt/hit. If you feel like you really have to apologize, wait until the song is over.

Overall it a good night of dancing, we stayed until 3:30am I think.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

First restoration project

The camera I used to take the picture I posted a little while ago it was in a deplorable condition. Chipped paint, oxidate and dirty metal components, moldy & ruptured bellows "fixed" with electrical tape, etc. While it was sort of usable, it bothered me (and I'm not obsessive-compulsive about cleanness and order).

Since I had a brand new workshop available to me, I took the whole thing apart and :

* stripped all the paint from all the wooden parts
* sanded and polished most of the metal parts
* sanded, treated, stained & coated the wooden parts
* fixed the broken bellow edges with textile band and painted it with flexible rubber paint (we'll see how well that holds up).
* put it all back together

Sounds simple, right? That's what I thought when I started, but it turns out, there was a lot more work that I expected. But it's more or less completed now. There are some things I might do in the future, like plate all the non-brass metal with brass and polish it (why they used mixed metals is beyond my ability to understand), refinish the wooden parts to get a smoother surface, make a new bellows, but for now, I will use it as it is. Here it is, with pictures (you can click on the picture for a bigger, more detailed image) before and after.

By the way, for the younger generation, yes, this is a camera, it uses something called "film" to record the image and there are good reasons to use such a camera ;) To give you just one of them which is easier to explain, when properly used, the camera can produce an image with detail equivalent with a 200 mega-pixel camera.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Coffee Maker open "heart" transplant ...

When my coffee maker decided to stop making coffee a few days ago I got really annoyed. It was less then a year old. It could've been in warranty but I could not find the receipt.

Without any other option, I decided to diagnose the problem. I opened it up and shortly after it became clear that the heating element was gone. Grrrr ... Buying parts for things is nearly impossible for a regular person, and even if I could, they are usually half the price of the new item. But, I did have an old an ugly coffee maker in the basement which was left by a tenant. The heating elements can't be that different, right?

So I opened that one up and sure enough, the heating elements are almost identical. Here are the coffee makers ready for the transplant.

15 minutes later the transplant is completed :

And 10 minutes later it was confirmed the patient was alive!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Guerrilla Milonga

A cool concept, everyone agrees. Pick a public place (indoors during the winter) with a decent floor surface, bring some music, and start dancing. Should the guards/cops ask you to leave, you just move to the next designated spot.

Too bad no one comes to these things. Today I had to cancel the third one in a row as I only had two other people "confirmed" (aside from me and Deb) and a couple more "maybe"s.

I'm throwing in the towel.


Monday, February 11, 2008

First shot ...

Since I purchased my first serious digital camera my photography taking process changed. It went from a Zen experience to a rush. The cost per picture dropped to zero (if you don't count depreciation) so taking hundreds of pictures in a few hours is not uncommon.

But I forgot about the experience of carefully composing and making a picture. Recently on a whim, I purchased an old view camera, in pretty bad condition. The plan is to restore it and then use it to regain some of that lost feeling of building an image. I will likely use Polaroid film (for as long as I find it, as they just announced they will stop all instant film production over the next year, what a great timing I have) as it gives the instant gratification I grew so fond off :-)

Using a Polaroid back I made my first image yesterday, and while it was a test shot (to test the lens, light leaks in the camera, the function of the Polaroid back, the Polaroid film which was expired), I figured I should make it, if it comes out, count. So, image no 00001 is of Deb having her morning coffee in the old rocking chair in front of the window. For those of you who care and know, it was shot at f8.5, 1/25 on Polaroid type 57 (3000 iso)with a Graflex Optar 203mm f7.5.


Friday, February 08, 2008

The tale of the workshop (no, this is not about tango)

A few weeks ago I found a box with parts of a wooden view camera I started to build a few years ago but never finished. I decided I'd like to finish it, but I quickly remembered why I never finished it. I had no good place to work. You try to use a table saw in the kitchen, especially if you have a girlfriend...

At the same time, on the side of the house there was this room which used to be a solarium a long time ago. It had glass panels on one side, access from the outside and inside of the house. Sadly, it's been in a horrifying state since I bought the house. The glass panels were damaged so the prior owner covered them up with plywood panels, the floor was dirty concrete, the walls had wall paper decades ago, but now all the was peeled and smelly. The door between the room and the house looked like a legion of rats chewed through it (it was missing about a foot by a foot of one of the corners.

So, it occurred to me I could make myself a workshop in that room. But being on a tight budget as I'm trying to paying my debt it needed to happen quite cheap.

So I gathered stuff I had around the house :

about 10 2x4s
a couple of 1x2s
some partially broken sheets of glass
screws and nails
two partial boxes of vinyl tiles
a few partial cans of paint
a door lock
commercial grade floor sealant

I bought a few things from Home Depot
4 sheets of 4x8 sheet rock ($22)
tile adhesive ($12)
patching compound ($7)
3 sheets of plexy ($9)
A cheap door ($22)
a 2x4 sheet of pegboard ($5)

Then, I removed most of the wall paper and sanded down the walls a bit and installed the panels over it. I used one of the glass panel frames which was damaged beyond repair to fix the others, sanded down the frames and painted them brown along with the door frames. Out of the paint I had I combined them into a nice shade of beige (with Deb's help I managed to avoid having my workshop painted pink as that was the color I got on my own ...) and I used it to paint the walls and part of the glass frames.

I replaced the door, luckily I already the door handle/lock. I then used the tiles to cover the floor, and amazingly after I was done I was left with two tiles (quite miraculous considering that I never really counted to see if I had enough). I finished painting the walls and the trim, filled gaps with caulk and coated the floor with the sealant.

I removed the panels with were used to board the glass panels and I used two of them along with the 2x4s to make a worktable (the plans I used are here). Since I will need to use a router I made the table so it can easily accept the router table and while I was at it, I made it to accept a miter saw and of course I had made a panel to cover the surface back to a flat table.

I brought in the table saw I bought at a yard sale a few years back and brought it back into shape. Brought in the drill press I had in the garage. At work we are converting a storage room into a "war" room so there were a lot of shelves which were removed, so I asked and got them for free. I installed some of them. Took a little time to organize my tools and other gadgets and ...


It's not finished by any means, I still have things to paint, to clean, to repair, but it's a functional workshop!