...and we have a strike looming.

It kinda figures, I suppose. I was just getting a handle on my schedule and productivity when OPSEU decided that this would be a great time to go on strike. I'm not going to get into my opinions on the labour issues at play, other than to say that I think OPSEU has a point. I will, however, say that I'm planning on using the time of the labour action to do a deep dive into some other projects once my school work is caught up. I have a couple of small design ideas that I want to explore (and figure out how to publish here) as well as a couple of photography expeditions. There are a couple of online courses in software that is tangentially relevant to my program but not covered in the program itself. Finally, we're getting in to indoor cooking season. It's been a while since I've done any baking, so this will be on the table as well.

I hope the issues are resolved quickly, but a wee vacation won't be so bad.

First You Get Good

When I first started driving, I was doing local deliveries of auto parts for new car dealerships. I was a rookie, fresh out of driving school, and they turned me loose in a 5 ton to figure stuff out. The first couple of nights were rough. I was slow and disorganized, but as a person who has always been interested in both process and iterative learning, I began to refine my system. The tweaks were small at first. How I put my cages in. How I bundled my loose pieces. Where I put my pump truck. These were all small improvements to my system that cumulatively made me more efficient. I was always thinking about this as I was working and, over time, my speed began to pick up. I didn't have to hunt for things. I coud reach my hand without thinking and grab exactly what I needed. First, I got good, then, I got fast.

I'm going through the same process with AutoCAD right now. I've used that software since, say, 1999 or so. I never really had the benefit of learning it at the hands of someone who used it every day. Now that I'm in class, I'm finding myself back in the habit of thinking about process. "What's the most logical end efficient way to do this?" is a frequent question I ask myself. I did a practice test the other day and on the first run, my time was over an hour. On the second run, I thought more about process and reduced that time to 40 minutes. The moves are coming back.

First, you get good. Then, you get fast.

Well then...

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.

A Small Cyclone Dust Collector - Marius Hornberger

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 - Inspiration

"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.

Laura Kampf

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.