January 2008

I’ve lately been wasting spending a lot of time browsing the Library of Congress photosets on flickr.  I especially like the color photos taken during the early 1940s.  I was not aware that color film existed back then and have been surprised at what a difference it makes to me to see photos of people from before World War II that look “normal”.  I was excited to see a “Rosie the Riveter” type photo taken in the old factory in Fort Worth where my first job was (in 1987).  I left a comment on it giving a link to the wikipedia entry that provided more information about the location where the photo was made.  In so doing I did that thing that the internet makes possible:  add a snippet of information to the body of knowledge that a thousand people already knew anyway (if you want to look at it cynically like I do).

The only information that I ever knew that nobody else knew was the minutiae of my own doctoral dissertation project and that was stuff that I suppose nobody knew about because nobody cared that much.  Such is the way of much of science. Still, it was fun and part of the fun was knowing that I was the briefly the world’s expert on the matter.  Unlike the photo caption where I’m sure the Library of Congress guy is rolling his eyes in exasperation.  I can imagine the thoughts now:  “Geez, I was hoping to hear from the woman’s son or grandson” etc.

It’s still interesting though and the above thoughts do not stop me from keeping on.  Hey!  I bought a “pro” account on flickr and that makes me “qualified” to tag their photos.

And in other interesting news which I should be obsession about, it is snowing outside pretty heavily and I’m thinking of the state of the streets and my windshield.  I should probably do down there and cover it up to save myself some scraping later.


Here’s why I like old-school barbershops.  Read on…

I started going to the local barbershop years ago when I got tired of going to the sports-themed family haircutters who charged a lot and where I never saw the same kid twice.  They always had to be instructed as to what number of clipper attachment was to be used on my beard,etc.  I figured that since there was a storefront with a striped pole within a quarter mile of my house, I should probably just go there; especially since my hair is as ordinary as it gets.  I certainly have never needed a “stylist”.  And it was less than $10.  Even now, it’s only $11.

My childhood memories of barbershops involved sitting on green Naugahyde seats framed by chromed steel tubes and lots of sports magazines.  And cigarette smoke.

Well, the local barbershop is exactly that minus the cigarette smoke and the old Naugahyde chairs.  Apparently he once had the Naugahyde chairs but replaced them in the early ’90s with his old living room furniture when his wife redecorated their house.  Then he bought a church pew when the church across the street renovated its sanctuary.   Sure, he has the sports magazines but he also has National Geographic, Private Pilot and whatever else his customers leave there.  I don’t care much about sports – too much to keep track of.  My world is complex enough without having to remember what all the sports teams are doing.  But the memorabilia he keeps on his walls are all local stuff – often signed by whoever is in the photo.  There is a refrigerator with soda and water.  You just take what you want and drink; you can pay him later.  He’s not a stickler for the money for the Cokes.

The best part is:  he remembers my name and how I want my hair cut.  And the fact that he sings in a barbershop style quartet in his spare time.  That’s just cool.

But yesterday, I found something else to like.

I had planned all day long to get my hair cut on the way home from work and then managed to forget about it.  When I remembered, it was nearly 6:00 which is when he closes.  I went anyway thinking that maybe I could get in but there was a line.  However, he had not locked the door so I went on in and he told me to sit down but that it would be late.  I was last and it was nearly 7:00 when he finished up with me.  It was then that an old man came in with a guitar case.

Instead of telling the man that he was closed, my barber just greeted him and started talking.  As their conversation went on, I realized that this was the first of a handful of old guys that met there every Tuesday night to play and sing bluegrass music.  Something in the way I asked about it made the guy ask me if I played and would I like to sit in?  Well, I didn’t sit in but I did stay there in a chair as about seven retirees came in, set up, and started playing.

My barber packed his stuff and made ready to leave.  I asked him if he wasn’t staying too and he said:

“Nah.  I’m going home.  It’s OK, these guys have a key, they’ll lock up when they’re done.”

That’s what I like about old-school bluegrass guys.  And barbers.  And small-town attitudes.

After they played their first tune they decided to figure out who I was; they were not used to having an audience except at the retirement home where they play on Thursday nights.  One guy switched to fiddle and tried to make me take his guitar.  I should have.

So I have a standing invitation to go play with these guys but I was told in no uncertain terms that if I showed my face in there again, I’d have to show up with my guitar or there would be trouble.  They would hold me there till I played with them.  It’s not often you feel that welcomed by strangers.  But any bluegrass guy will tell you that there are no strangers in the guitar circle.

I was mystified by the tip jar.  And then it hit me:  they all put in tips to leave for the barber in return for using his shop.

I hope I have the nerve to show up again and play guitar at the barber shop.  But there’s not a one of them there that’s under the age of 75; I’m not sure I’d know their tunes.  But they swear that all the tunes are easy.

I got busy on the cabinet door project Saturday.  It’s hard to get up to the hardwood dealer since he’s a million miles from where I live or work.  They close at noon on Saturday and sometimes just leave before then if there’s no business.  That makes it hard to find them at work but I managed it Saturday morning.  They had only four nasty sticks of red oak which was a disappointment to me considering that they sell only HARDWOOD!  I bought what they had and the guy was kind enough to point out that one stick was nasty and narrow at one end so he would just give me that one for free.  That’s why I keep going back.  That and the fact that it’s way cheaper than buying wood at a store.  Next time though, I’ll buy ash and stain it.

So, while Mel was taking Erin to the mall for her hours-long fashion walk, I used the empty space to pull the tablesaw out and cut my newly acquired wood into proper sizes. I then glued up some panels for the raised panel in the center; sort of.  I only have two pipe clamps so I could only glue up one panel.  Plus, I didn’t trust myself to get three pieces of wood all aligned in the clamps so I only glued up two sections.  This little awkwardness led me to go buy two more pipe clamps using the convenient coupon the Lowes provided me in the mail.  Glueing up panels is quite the hassle if your wood is not perfectly straight – which it never is.  I definitely need to get me one of those biscuit joiners to force such bendy pieces to stay together while the glue sets up.

It’s all fun.  I love this sort of stuff – I wish I could do it all the time.

Next up:  finish the panels, cut the arch in the top, and set up the router table for cutting the profiles on all the pieces.

Ration Stamps

Originally uploaded by gregwest98

I’ve just been scanning a few things and this was interesting: some old ration stamps from WWII. Dad left a bunch of these behind. When I first found them I got excited but a quick Ebay search reveals that my whole collection is worth about $15. It’s the same experience that many folks have on Antiques Roadshow I guess.

They’re still cool though.

We’ve had a wave of brutal (for us) cold with temps not going above freezing for several days.  We have some small reason to complain about it since we had to get out in it last night to attend the winter band concert.

They held it this year at the Performing Arts Center of Tulsa Community College rather than the usual high school gymnasium and I liked it much better.  Evan played in the “wind ensemble” which translates to “the good musicians band”.  (Let’s face it – I have to call ’em like I see ’em).  The jazz ensemble also played which is always everyone’s favorite, even the band members themselves like it the best.  Evan didn’t audition for jazz this year because he wanted to play guitar and the guitarist they already have is “crazy good”.  He was right about that; the guy was very fun to hear.

Erin used the outing as an excuse for her to drag the boyfriend along.  To this end, she wanted to look good; therefore, she wore a skirt.  With the temperatures around freezing as they were, this was not the optimal wardrobe for warmth.  In fact, you might call it “pessimal” (whee!  new word!).   She is cold natured to begin with so this was a shiver-inducing evening.  We went for ice cream afterwards which doesn’t make a great deal of sense in this sort of weather but was the only thing that seemed to make sense at 9:30 pm.  So if we weren’t cold by then, we were after eating ice cream.

But it was fun for all.  The BF is in the band over in Bixby so he was able to appreciate it.  I like these musical productions and wish there were more of them.  There will be another later in the month but they have to travel out of town for it and I won’t be going along.

The church had a remarkably practical idea:  have a thing where they coach the high school seniors on the changes in store for them as they go to college.  Sort of hints and tips.  They had a golden opportunity to mess it up and make it useless with a lot of religious stuff about how to carry out The Great Commission but to their credit, they did not do that.  They kept it useful.

They discussed how to keep down on distractions (consider leaving the TV and/or video games console at home), avoid gaining weight, turn down credit card offers, deal with roommate trouble, etc.  Very nice.  The college aged class was present but rather than come in and offer their sage advice, they chose instead to stay outside the room and watch the NFL playoff game on the big screen TV and eat snacks.  I guess that’s understandable.

Evan was clearly distressed to hear that he should not take the Playstation with him and Mel was surprised that they recommend no TV.  She has always held the TV near and dear to her heart.  They didn’t specifically mention guitars so I’m sure he’ll take 1 or 2 but I suspect that would be considered a distraction too.

It was fun.  Plus they were passing around a bag of Snickers so that was a bonus.  Then they had ice cream.  Time until the first kid squirted ReddyWhip into her mouth?  3 minutes, 10 seconds.  Approximately.

Erin’s boyfriend has now lasted two weeks which seems to indicate some degree of seriousness. He came over to our place again Friday night; they watched movies on the sofa. Mel and I of course made sure to need something from the kitchen at least once every quarter hour so that we would have to walk past the living room and keep an eye on things. He seemed hip to our plan and behaved himself although I should probably also add that Erin behaved herself also. She’s not totally innocent in these things either.

This is really weird for me. I’m hoping she gets busy with the plays and decides he’s too much trouble. Of course, that won’t happen – she’s already making plans to include him in some of our stuff. Tonight Evan has a band concert he’s going to and we’re all going and taking the BF with us.

Parenting is not for sissies.


While I’m making fun of a situation I may as well include myself in the embarrassed pool.

I guess I just don’t think enough about what I’m doing. I act on impulse fairly often.  So it was during one of my spying missions to the kitchen.  I think it’s fun to run down the hallway and slide on my sock feet; kinda like surfing but without the water or sharks.  So I did that Friday night when Erin had the BF in the living room and was most prone to being embarrassed by the parents.  I must say, it was a good one – I got good distance.  After realizing I should not have chosen that particular moment to act like a kid, I hurried on into the kitchen.  I never heard whether Erin was embarrassed or not – perhaps she was because how else would you explain the BF’s attempt to cover it over with the statement “your Dad’s awesome.”

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