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Monday, April 26, 2010

Things To Make...

...or not.
So, I was at this Woodbury estate sale a few weeks ago and while most of the house looked  like the items had been carefully placed to appear as thought the were original to the home, or previous owners, they didn't.  There was one room in the house that had potential.  A small study with several built-in books shelves, which were full of books.  I found one worth taking away.
It should be dark blue, but my scanner has a personality I haven't figured out yet ,and sometimes it finds my "finds" distasteful.  This cover should have been a deep navy blue, but this look may be more befitting its condition overall. It was published in 1937 and contains "over 1400 diagrams, drawings, and illustrations" this can't be fully truthful because there are only 300 pages. However, it was the drawings and illustrations that I found most appealing (read "funny").  First, I have to point out the anachronism of some of the "everyday" items you can make for yourself. Here was my favorite:

Unless you are planning to take the whole family surfing (and the neighbors, and their friends) I can't see the practicality in a surf board this size. I believe the recommended wood is balsa, but even still, you are in greater danger of having this behemoth fall on you. Look at the size of that thing! He could bring a table and 4 chairs and still hang ten.  These projects are the stuff dreams were made of.  No one would actually want to take the time to build something like this, unless you were the type that read Popular Science and fantasized about the things that were coming just around the corner in the modern world. As I dug deeper, this book revealed itself as one from the editors of that magazine. Not unlike it's competitor Popular Mechanics they all sold the possibility of invention and creation to the average Joe who wanted to feel like he could build his own future "If I just had the plans!"

Well, in Things To Make, every category is covered and the projects run from a simple child's pull toy to a seismograph for detecting distant earthquakes.

There's even something to show off to the boys at the hunt club.  Don't serve hot toddy's from a shingle! No! A man's man can build himself a smart serving tray with icons from a recent kill.
This is where I started enjoying the crude illustrations more and more. You can really impress the boys around the fire with this tray made from a few scraps of wood and some wallpaper.

Not only that but these can be made to sell at a profit! Great idea, but my one concern is for our host. If you notice in the image above, there is a mysterious dark figure looming over his right shoulder holding what appears to be a tire iron. It looks like all the craftiness in the world won't let our hero escape from this "tray" macabre ending. Good Lord Man! Stop yammering on about that stupid tray and look behind you!  Yes, you too can be the envy of all your friends if you can make one of these trays, just try not to make them too envious...

But wait! There's more!

You say junior can't cut as a star athlete? No prospects as a budding ladies' man? Well, then why not try making a Magician out of him?  Of all the homemade magic projects they could have suggested, why pick this? What's wrong with the disappearing assistant in the cabinet trick?
Naw! impaling your arm with a 10" kitchen knife is far more wholesome.  Actually, the real trick is fitting the head of a boy on the body of a middle-aged man:
While the projects in this books were presented to entertain and make a difference in lives around the family of the craftsman, unfortunately none of them seemed remotely possible for the amateur - despite detailed plans and photographs.  Now finishing one of these projects, that would be a cool parlor trick!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Moonwalking (Happy Birthday Dolly!!!)

Hey! The Kent Film Festival runs from April 22nd to the 25th go here to see the schedule. Don't miss it!
That of course, has nothing to do with my drawing below, but in the spirit of creativity, I thought, "What the heck!"
(click the image to enlarge it)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dig Report 4/17/10

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you... the Lincoln-Kennedy Penny

Well, only because someone gave it to me.  

This sale was more scary than promising, while there were an abundance of tools and a room full of books, this house was vexed.  The condition was the first indication:
The house belonged to a landscaper, but I don't know when the owner decided to stop landscaping his own property and only handle his client's yards.  I wish I had taken more pictures, but I've yet to walk in to a dig and feel comfortable announcing, "I am here from Video Martyr, to rummage and photograph and sing about what I have found on my blog!".  There probably was a good story here, but I am only allowed to ask about what I find.  I have no business digging into their lives...maybe someday.  This home was dilapidated beyond repair, at times I felt as though some of the junk in the house was what I would call load-bearing junk, and removing it might cause a wall to collapse. My partner and I made a final pass through the house and that is when I discovered Abe and Jack.

I knew it wasn't worth anything, but it was such and oddity that I had t have it.  I asked the person for a price, and she sniffed and said, "how about a penny?... you can take it."  I can't find the definitive history of this coin, but from eBay I can see that these were being sold for years, such as this sample sale item below.

Definitely a different looking Kennedy than my penny. The range in values is astounding .99 - $26.50!  Despite all the conspiracy theorists, I can see the cheese in the poor stamping quality a mile away. Back in 1974 if you were in Spokane you were bombarded with offers to buy this special 1 million-of-a-kind collectors item.
I think the only real coincidence was that I wasn't looking for this item, but I found it anyway. Strange!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

*Nerd Alert!

This is the kind of thing that pocket protectors were made for!

I have always had a weakness for reference material. Maybe I felt like my brain was never going to hold all the things I wanted to know. I guess I thought, "better buy a book with a load of reference material in some useful discipline so I can find what I need."  Over the years I have occasionally been obsessed by science publishers who could pack the facts, back to back, in as small a place as possible.  When I came across this, I felt it was the epitome of crib notes for science, or in my own words: my Nerdvana. Take a look at the kit:
It even comes in its own pocket protector. "So, Greg." you say "What's the big deal? Circular slide rules really float your boat?"  Well, no.  It's what's inside that counts.
To give you an idea of the size (if you can't see the 4" ruler in the first image in the first image) I guess nerds don't need more than four inches of anything. Here is my lame attempt at a size comparison:
So, a circular slide rule on one side and the entire Periodic table of elements doesn't impress you? No? Look at the secret inside:

Another 2 sided 4" x 3" sheet with even more nerd notes:
Gas constant values, Chemical and Physical data, and the Greek alphabet? Here is a closer view of this beautifully designed set of nerd notes.
I know the close up is a little soft, but that is merely to express the condition of ones eyes after a brief viewing of the information contained within.  You sayin' you slept through that Analytic Geometry class during AP math in high school? No problem, just refer to the instruction booklet that will tell you how to figure it all out.
This was a dollar at an estate sale some years ago. It was printed and sold in 1966 and I found it after that and before Google knew the answer to everything. Like books in print, I still feel more secure holding this information than trusting it to the "cloud".  If I wanted to put together a survival kit, just in case Hollywood is right and the world ends tomorrow (save for a few of us), I would definitely want to have this on hand (with the manual).

*Note:  No Nerds were harmed or injured in the creation of this blog post.  All writing was monitored by the A.S.P.C.N.  (American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Nerds).

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Dig Report - April fooled

With the weather as idyllic as it was there should have been too many decent sales to choose from. However, there are a few weekends during the year that always spell urban archeologist blight - this past weekend was one of them: Easter (you know, that holiday where Americans celebrate the resurrection of aging splinter-giving baskets and pray to god all this sugar won't make them or their kids diabetic).  Now, as you may know tag sales are not agnostic, atheistic, mono, nor polytheistic, except the ones held in church basements.  They know no observance, and can happen anytime, anywhere, for any reason.  Statistically, there are going to be fewer sales, due to the holiday, when people often travel and are less likely to stop and dig.
  This weekend was no different.  Of the 3 sales my captive audience and I visited, none were of the type or kind that I like to write about, because none of them were stocking the kind of trash I consider treasure. Rats! But that's okay, it gave me an opportunity to look in to my vault and pull something out I have been meaning to scan:

This is the title page, I would show you the cover but there isn't much to see.  The date is correct, and I picked it up at a tag sale (yes, a tag sale - sometimes the oldest things come from the unlikeliest sales) for $5.  It is about 544 pages and despite the condition, has a neat list of useful information.

 And some cool advertisements:
 So hard to get good help in those days.  With poor girls and working class girls not permitted to attend public schools many of them left home to earn a wage working 16 hour days with one afternoon off a week as a domestic servant.

The best part of the book is the directory itself, which lists everyone in NYC and the address (h). =house, or (n) = near, or (c) = corner where they lived, but most importantly...their occupation.

 The greatest challenge with this book so far, has been the warped pages which make it impossible for sharp scans.
See anyone you know?

I think I am just satisfied that I can turn the pages without having them fall out.  If you are interested in genealogy and want me to look up a name, just leave a note in the comments.