So. Stuff happened since I last checked in. Like, a lot of stuff. Enough to change my "About" section. Last time I was here, I was a professional driver working for a large fodd service corporation here in Ottawa and living a pretty decent life. I was reasonably content with the way my transition plan was working out. The job was ok, not inspiring, but it paid the bills, I had hella good benefits, and was up to 3 weeks vacation. Things were....fine.
As I progressed through transition, I came to view it as a series of plateus, or, to use video games as an analogy, a series of levels and skill trees. I noticed that after a few steps along the journey, after I would achieve a particular milestone I would find myself asking "Ok, what's next?" Maybe this is something that everyone does, but for some reason, I didn't. The lesson that I learned was that if you ask unto Allah1 silly questions like that, She will answer you, likely in a way you didn't expect. She has a sense of humour like that.
Not long after I made my last entry here though, some stuff happened. Ok, a lot of stuff happened. I'm no longer with the large food service company. I, through a series of events, have found myself back at school. I'm currently at Algonquin College here in Ottawa in the Architectural Technology program. I could have moved on to a different driving job with another company. That would have been the easy route. Safe, predictable, but ultimately it would have been doing the same job with a different name on the door. Actually, when I was temping this summer, it was literally that. Same equipment, same highway, different company. I was tired of it. I was tired of the late nights. I was tired of not seeing my daughter and my friends. I was tired of driving by another wreck on the highway. I was tired of being 5 hours away from home and not being able to stop and enjoy it. I was done.
I'm now two weeks into my program, and I love it. There's a ton of work. It's not hard work, not like I was used to, but there's a lot of volume. It's also a different kind of work, where I get to call on different sets of skills than I have for the past ten years. Work where I get to develop new skills and engage new areas of my brain. For the first time in a long time, I'm having fun doing work. I haven't experienced this since...yeah.
One thing I always thought about when I was at my old job was the structure and the routine. Checking the hour meters on the reefers became a symbol for the job itself. When my life seemed like it was falling apart around me when my marriage ended, there was the job. Check the reefer hours. When the relationship with my post-marriage partner ended and I was devastated, the job was there. Check the reefer hours. The job had become a constant in my life. Then, one day, it wasn't. Looking back, I remember saying at one point "Well, if my life is going to blow up, lets blow it all up and build it right."
The saying goes "Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it." It's funny, because I wanted this, but when I wished for it, I had no idea how to get here. Yet, here I am. Level up. Lets do this.
1 Or the deity of your choosing.
The other day I wrote about the impending retirement of the fish as keyholder. I'm sure it will find a place in my life for something, possibly as a secondary storage by the front door, but for now I need, umm, stability in my storage. Seriously, the damn thing swinging back and forth just makes me nuts. Anyway, the space that I have to work with between door casing and wall is 18", so applying the rule of "seems about right" I decided to make my shelf 12" wide. This would later prove to make the math nice and easy when figuring out the placement of the magnets. For the hardcore, dividing 18" by the golden ratio gives about 11 1/8". I may be a little fussy, but I'm going to let this one slide.
So, with a width in mind I headed to the drawing table. It's actually a craft table. Well, it used to be a sanding table that's been pressed into service in my apartment. Anyway, 12" wide was what I decided on and I opted for a depth of 3 1/2" because I'm almost always guaranteed to have some 1x4 floating around in the studio. Initially this gave me a finished dimension of 12" x 3 1/2" x 1 1/2". I poached a chunk of drawing paper from my daughter's Måla easel and started laying it out full size. I haven't drawn by hand in ages and was quite surprised by the level of bliss I could achieve. Note to self - shop for a drawing table.
After drawing layout for the magnets and with the wisom of YouTube in my mind, I headed to the studio and started working. My original vision was to use 1x4 pine because I always seem to have some hanging around, but I when I swung by my local Borg to pick up some steel for another project, I was delighted to discover that they had rough cut maple 1x6x8 for about $12.00 a board.
So, on this build day, armed with my newly acquired piece of maple and a healthy, positive attitude, I jointed and planed. I dadoed. I hand turned dowels. Much sawdust was made and I produced a stunningly wonderful piece of crap. It took me forever to get the pieces machined. I didn't have any 3/4" dowel in stock, but I have a lathe, so I blew even more time doing that. Then, because the shelf itself was supposed to be in two pieces laminated together, I had to wait for the glue to dry.
Don't get me wrong, the process itself was wonderful and it was definitely a learning experince. Plus, I got a couple of other small projects finished so at the end of the day I left without a snazzy place to hang my keys, but with a source of maple and a much clearer head.
Next time: I actually build the damn thing.
Ladies and gentlemen an dthose yet to declare an affiliation, lets have a warm round of applause for my friends Colton and Mark on the launch of their new project, The Drunken Wrench Podcast. I was there while the first episode was being recorded and in my highly biased opinion, it was a hoot.
I watch far too many YouTube videos, and now that the studio is starting to come online again shop porn is back in the regular rotation. This video by Marius Hornberger was really delightful. The dust collector itself it pretty cool, but there's a really handy router table trick hidden in there. Check it out.
Oh, and if you build one of these, embed a bunch of blue LEDs in the lid. Because blue LEDs.
"Keys are on the fish." This has been the mantra aound my place for...umm...a long time. Anyway, I'm on a tear in the house lately to improve its coolness level and I really believe that it's the details that make or break the functionality and balance of the space.
My building was built in the 50's at accomodate workers at the (formerly) nearby CP rail yards and the industries that sprang up nearby. This is really aparent in the cabinetry that's in the kitchen. It's all original, non-modular in design and simply glorious.
At the turn of the year I took down my Howard Fogg classic trains calendar which had hung in that space and stuck the fish there because I'm using the back door a lot more than last year.
The fish, however, didn't fit with the sense of decor that I've evolved since I moved into my apartment and so...what? Stop laughing, I'm serious. I HAVE TASTE DAMNIT. Ok, the real reason that I want a different system is that the fish moves and that just bugs the crap out of me. I kinda like the kitschey aesthetic of it, but the wobbliness makes me crazy. Also, there is no good place to put my sunglasses if I happen to have them on my head instead of in my purse.
Time to run to the Internet for some inspiration. The maker/woodworker community is strong on YouTube so I was sure I would find something potentially cool.
First on the list was this video by Eric Lindberg. I like the modern look to it and the relative simplicity of the build. It's basically two boards nailed together and stuck on the wall. I'm totally stealing the idea for using rare earth magnets in lieu of hooks, because magnets!
Hey this is a serious design blog. Get that guy outta here.
A few videos and thinking about the nature of shelves in general lead me to this build, and epic floating shelf. I love the idea, so lets scale it down a bit, shall we? Stay tuned for part 2 where we design and build the thing.
I've been on a bit of a hiatus from the studio lately because of other commitments. I've been watching a lot of videos lately though and stumbled across the wonderful Laura Kampf. She has an extensive catalog on YouTube that I highly recommend.
Glue four rare earth magnets to the back of a hot chocolate tin for a pencil holder that will happily live on your fridge door.
When you go looking for one thing, but find a bunch of other things you were looking for.
Good cabinets never die. These are on their third shop and third owner.
Today I managed to get back to the studio for another hour and do a little more unpacking and create a little more useable space. I'm at the point now of having the folding table useable as a work surface which should allow the sorting process to go a lot faster. On one hand, I sort of wish I had left the boxes in my storage locker until I got the infrastructure more sorted out, but that wasn't really an option. I guess I'll just have to go through one box at a time, when I have time, and hopefully squeeze in a few small builds here and there.
I think the first big build is going to be a work bench under the window. I had to abandon my last bench in place because I just couldn't move it easily. Oh well. It's only lumber. If you have any ideas for a modular system that I can break down should I need to, drop me a line.
I guess life happened and we took a bit of an unexpected hiatus. I'm in a new space now though and I'm starting to put the shop back together after it lived in boxes for a year and a half. Oh, also, I have to call it a studio because it's in the posh corner of Hintonburg. Maybe I should call it an atelier. Anyway, the space itself is 10 by 14, so, bigger than the original shop, but smaller than the garage that I was in last time. It's insulated and drywalled with a window and a standard size door. I won't be building anything huge, but that's ok.
My plan right now is sort of vague. I'd really like to get back into turning again, and I need to knock off a few projects for the house that I've been sitting on for too long. Nothing huge. It just feels good to be back in the shop...err...studio and getting in touch with that side of myself again.
For those keeping score:
Testosterone - 0 Estrogen - 300
We're playing Pokémon Go and actually having fun.
There has been far too much adulting happening in my life over the past week, but I guess that's how you actually get stuff done. Today marks the first day of the next step in my transition journey, the one where I actually begin HRT. I suppose I should be over the moon at this, but honestly, I'm just tired. It's a good kind of tired though, the kind of tired where you know you've done some hard work and can see the fruits of your labour. Anyway, in addition to finally getting over my fear of doctors and medicine and getting my prescription for the first batch of femme 'n emms, as my friend Meagan calls them, I had a meeting with our HR manager and a couple of supervisors at work on Thursday. The result? In summary, it was the most support I've felt in a long, long time.
My first question for management was, since we're a large multinational company, is there an existing procedure in place for handling a transition? No sense reinventing the wheel, right? The response was somewhat unexpected - "We don't have anything in place for Ontario, so we get to set the standard." No pressure, right? Anyway, after laying out my likely timeline at this point and asking questions about what documentation was required and what our insurance covered, the management team went out of their way to reassure me that this was all about me and my comfort. Questions about disclosure to the rest of the employees were asked and the sketch of a strategy was drawn up. The takeaway from the meeting, at least on a functional level, was that I work in a pretty damn awesome place and my coworkers and managers respect me. This will not turn out to be an Internet horror story. I get that not everyone is as privileged as me with respect to coming out in the workplace because of a lot of factors. I also get that there has been a lot of ground lost in the struggle for basic human rights lately. That being said, there are good stories out there and mine is one of them. I acknowledge that I have certain privileges because of my age, my experience, my education, and the country that I reside in. My hope is that I can use this privilege to make things a little easier for anyone following me on a similar journey at my company.
The second takeaway from the meeting, on a personal level, was that I was able to hold my own in a meeting with top level management and not look like a complete idiot. I think that, I've been selling myself too short for a lot of years, for a bunch of different reasons. The people I met with were inspiring to me in their belief and commitment and drive. This is an environment that I want to explore, away from the front line, surrounded by people who have their shit together and are able to make people feel comfortable in difficult situations. The boss fight from the last level is completed, the loot has been divided, the gear has been upgraded and the achievement has been logged. It's time to do the baby quests of this level and work towards the next one.
I've been down sick most of this week, so that means I didn't get an episode out the door or much of anything done really. What I did do was lie in bed and watch a ton of YouTube videos. The one that I enjoyed the most was the mini-series Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity, part of the BBC series Horizon. Presented by theoretical physicist and broadcaster Jim al-Khalili, Shock and Awe appealed to me because it was very much in the same vein as Connections, Coast, and Time Team. If you're a fan of science documentary, you will enjoy this one. The photography is gorgeous, the explanation of concepts is top notch, and the vintage lab equipment is fun to watch. Seriously, if I had watched Shock and Awe when I was in University, it would have made my AC Power course a whole lot easier to deal with.
I just discovered this series last night and thought I would share it with you. This is really something that needs more investment and expansion. Currently, there are 6 eopisodes about 8 minutes long. The series is written, produced and stars actual trans and queer women and realistically examines the issues that we face every day.
Her Story is a 6-episode new-media series that looks inside the dating lives of trans & queer women as they navigate the intersections of desire & identity.
Her Story is currently streaming on YouTube. Here is a link to Episode 1.
Ever wonder why that rural road you're driving down does an S-Curve for no apparent reason? Geoff Manaugh explains that it could be a correction in the Cartesian road grid to account for the curvature of the earth.