Tuesday 25 December 2012

Winter Project #1: De-Scrooging the Skunkworks

    "Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!  But I think I'll miss this one this year..."
                                                                                   -The Waitresses

   SWMBO and I decided to largely Krank the Christmas season this year, for reasons personal, logistical, economical and practical.
 SWMBO works on Christmas Day.
 I work on Boxing Day.
 We are kidless on Christmas.
 And, quite simply, we decided not to fight the crowds, traffic, other drivers for parking spaces and the temptation to spend more to buy one more gift for one more person who doesn't need or want anything more.

      No decorations, no hassles, no pressure, and it gave us a chance to enjoy our anniversary (we got hitched on Christmas Eve) unimpinged by larger events.

   Call me Scrooge, or the Grinch, I'm cool with that.

    Remember, the key word in that first paragraph is "largely."

     We wouldn't, couldn't, and didn't ignore the holiday entirely.  SWMBO made cookies and brownies that were joyously hoovered by coworkers and friends.

    Yes, Faithful Reader, I know what you're thinking.

    While my beloved wife was slaving away in the kitchen,  what the hell did I do this season?

   I opened my big, fat mouth, that's what.
    This new day job I've been working for the last few months has been a different experience for me on a number of fronts.  It's a gig that requires no travel, I have actual days off, not hours, and I have coworkers, rather than flying solo.  I'm lucky enough to work with some people who I enjoy working with on a daily basis.  We're not a social crew, we don't hang out with each other outside of work, but once in a while our personal lives overlap our work lives.

   "What,"  Faithful Reader interrupts," does this have to do with your aforementioned big, fat mouth?"

    Hold your horses.  I'm getting there.

    One of my coworkers is a single mom with two great kids.  Yeah, I know, it sounds like a stereotype and with us being knee-deep in the yule season, this post threatens to start to sound like a Hallmark made-for-tv movie, but them's the facts.  She's a decent person busting her ass to provide for a couple of great kids and largely she doesn't need any help from anybody, especially the likes of me, thank you very much.  Last week she mentions that her four year old son has added a  new item to his Santa Claus wishlist:

A teeter- totter.

Where, she wonders aloud, is she going to find a teeter-totter?

This is where my big, fat mouth gets involved.

My big, fat mouth offers, "I can build one."

    After a couple of "Really?", "Sure,"  "No, really?"  "Yeah, no problem,"  "Oh wow, that would be great!  Really?"  volleys, a bargain was struck.   She would provide the materials, or at least front the cash for the raw goods, I'd take care of design and construction.   She wanted to keep the project in low-buck range...
 really low-buck range...
 Under $40.
  I did some internet-assisted planning, scribbled up a materials list, and the fuse was lit.

     On Tuesday, lumber showed up at Stately Jones Manor:

   First order of business- determine a paint scheme and coat the lumber.  "Teeter totter" sounds kinda... lame to me.
"Seesaw" sounds even worse.

and the kid for whom this equipment is intended is all outsize personality and heart.

 So, this is no longer a teeter totter or a seesaw.

No sir.

 This is now a Badass Double Headed Catapult Death Machine. (pat. pend.)

That means flat black paint and silver and red and flames and...

After cutting and screwing and gluing the fulcrum...

  I tackled the seats, spraying the planks silver, then masking off the outline...

Then spraying red as a first coat...

With a fog of orange on top...

  Then I cut the levers, cut some scrap dowel for handles, screwed and glued the lever assembly together, then fastened it all to the fulcrum with a foot long length of all-thread, a pair of nuts and a handful of washers.

  Finishing, and least successful, touch was cutting some vinyl pinstriping tape and  personalizing the fulcrum with the recipients initials.

    Mom is pleased.

   I am pleased.

   This project kicked me into gear, gave me a reason to get off my ass and back into the workshop, and rekindled my enthusiasm for toiling in the skunkworks, like getting back on the catamaran project that has been on hiatus, for example.

   My heart didn't grow three sizes that day, but  it felt good to get back on the tools again.

  Merry Christmas.


  1. Onya Jones .... love your work ... Fuzzy

  2. Ahoy! Just found your blog, sounds like you're having a pretty good time. I was wondering if you would be interested in emailing me a map of the Port Dover Harbour Marina? I have an online library of slip diagrams to help boaters coming into unfamiliar marinas. If the Port Dover marina provides a paper copy of a map, I'd be greatly appreciative if you would send me a copy. You can see the library here http://themarinersguide.blogspot.com/p/marina-map.html
    Much thanks and fair winds.

  3. Funny how much the base for the teeter totter looks like a mast crutch.

  4. Santa is alive and living on dock six.......

  5. I remember not to play on one of those when your opponent had considerable more weight.