All posts by ajohnson

Links: 9-29-2015

  • Stop Googling. Let’s Talk. – The New York Times
    Quote: "Studies of conversation both in the laboratory and in natural settings show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel. People keep the conversation on topics where they won’t mind being interrupted. They don’t feel as invested in each other. Even a silent phone disconnects us."
    (categories: culture iphone life technology )

Links: 9-25-2015

Links: 9-24-2015

Links: 9-22-2015

  • The Radical Calm of Alex Honnold – Men’s Journal Magazine
    Quote: "What’s the secret behind his ability to look into the abyss and not flinch? "Just not giving a fuck."… "then, yeah, it occurred to me that every time he left the house it might be the last time I’d ever see him. And if someday, next year, this year, he does come home in a box, he will have lived 50 lifetimes compared to lots of us."
    (categories: life calm culture motivation fear )

Built: loft bed with a desk and some cool lighting

I had a couple months off this summer and after doing some camping with the family, I got bored sitting around with nothing to do and figured that it was time to graduate the 10 year old from the Ikea Kura (that we got for him probably 7 years ago) to something that would give him an area to work on homework, hang out with friends a little bit and generally last until he’s 15(?) or whatever age boys demand a regular bed. Actually, now that I remember it, my wife figured it was time for him to get a new bed and wanted to buy this loft bed on Ikea:

which is relatively cheap ($149 plus $99 for the desk top) and would probably work but then, again, I was bored. I did a couple of Google searches for “diy loft bed” and came across this one:

which looked easy, really sturdy, had storage for Legos (if you buy the Ikea stuff) and didn’t look very complicated to build. I got clearance from the CEO and started getting ready a week or so ago.

The plans (PDF) are really well done (includes a materials list and a cut list) and since I had the time, I figured I’d traipse on over to this wood store in Portland (which I had discovered via a friend) to buy the wood for the bed. I arrived there thinking (naively) that it would be like Home Depot, where you buy 2x4x8′s and you’re on your merry way. Turns out there’s this whole world of stuff I still have to learn (nominal wood measurements vs. actual right?) and that the plans I had in hand (along with 3 kids) would not quickly convert to the correct cut list so I had to abandon the plan of getting the wood from there, although wow, cool store. Some day I hope to be doing fine wood working with beautiful wood and have a workshop like this but for now… it’s wood from Home Depot. A couple hours later (after naps and stuff), I ended up at Home Depot and purchased the following list of goods (including the price here because it’s interesting to see how it all adds up compared to what you’d get from Ikea):

  • 7 2x6x10 doug fir: $36.26
  • 1 2x6x8 doug fir: $4.14
  • 5 2x4x8 doug fir: $13.70
  • 1 2x2x10 cedar: $6.77
  • 2 2x2x8 cedar: $11.94
  • 8 1x3x10 poplar board: $114.08
  • 3/4″ 4×8 birch plywood: $49.98
  • 3 Kreg 2.5′ coarse screws – 50ct: $14.91
  • 2′ wood screws – 1lb: $5.98
  • Kreg 1.25′ fine screws – 100pk: $3.97
  • Clear Finishing Gel: $9.99
  • Birch Edge Banding: $13.99
  • Norton 220′ grit sandpaper: $4.99
  • 120 grit disc sandpaper – 15ct: $9.97

so all in, about $300 so slightly more than the same thing at Ikea but way more fun to put together and build and it’ll easily handle all three boys as they grow up. Weirdly, and I’m sure this is something I should have thought differently about, the two most expensive pieces / purchases were the poplar boards which ultimately are the mattress slats and probably didn’t need to be poplar and the plywood for the desktop, which I had to buy an entire piece of when I only need 1/3 of the board. I kept the entire board though because I figured I could make a couple more tables in a year or so when the younger dudes need tables / desks in their room. Not sure if there’s something cheaper than poplar for the mattress slats, but those turned out to be about 30% of the total cost, which seems absurd.

Worth noting: I had never done pocket holes, so I also needed to buy a Kreg Jig R3 Pocket Hole System, which added $39.97 to the total cost but wasn’t necessarily “materials” so I won’t count it here.

Anyway, everything went together relatively quickly and then there was the lull of needing to stain / seal the bed, which naturally gives you a couple days to wait around but I got it done Sunday afternoon with Grandpa (who came over to help assemble the pieces up in my son’s room) and it’s worked out really really nicely. A couple of the comments I read on the blog post above said that the bed was wobbly but for whatever reason, the bed as I put it together is unbelievably solid, I can climb up it (185 pounds) and it barely wiggles. Pocket holes make for some really tight joints.

The desk was also relatively simple to put together, I did make it a bit smaller than was spec’ed in the plans so that there’d be more room to maneuver around and after doing a little bit of reading on finishing plywood tables, I visited the Rockler Woodworking store here in Beaverton and bought some birch edge banding, which I think ironed and sanded on and that gave the desk a really nice finish (and I learned something in the process). We’ll see how long the banding lasts but it was amazing to see how the iron + a bit of sanding makes it look like a finished piece and not just a piece of plywood.

I ended up buying an RGB LED Strip Light Kit on Amazon to put some fun light underneath the bed so that my son could do homework and do Lego stuff on the desk, which is both practical (it’s relatively well lit now) and fun (he could have a disco party in his room now). Pictures of the bed:

and the desk:

and the lights:

Last, I bought a mattress on Amazon after remembering and re-reading Jason Kottke’s post on mattresses and how they’re a ripoff and ended up buying this one on Amazon, which has worked out well for the couple days that we’ve had it and feels much nicer than anything we’ve purchased previously at Ikea (and we slept on Ikea mattresses while we lived in England last year so I have experience). Also, $99, can’t beat that for a kids mattress.

Other stuff:

Links: 9-14-2015

  • Getting My Ass Handed to Me by the World’s Largest Hedge Fund  — Medium
    Quote: "I now run through a mental check list as a first step in reasoning. It is scenario specific but usually starts with some take on the following 5 questions and expands from there: What am I trying to achieve here or what is my goal? What information/evidence do I have and what information/evidence do I still need? What are the potential second order (and higher) impacts of this scenario (both upside and downside)? What has to happen for “X” scenario to be true? What are the risks and rewards of this scenario and how likely are they to transpire?
    (categories: why thinking reasoning system-1 first-principle )

  • 7 Pro Tips For Avoiding Blisters | The Big Outside
    My summit of Middle Sister got cut short because of blisters on both heels. Hopefully correctable, but have since purchased new socks and some HikerGoo.
    (categories: outdoors hiking health )

Links: 7-16-2015

  • sbdc » Time, and the managing there of
    Quote: "I thought it was noteworthy that in Max’s conversation he commented that in some professions there is a time when work is actually done. When you finish X that’s all there is for the day. When I worked as a professional graphic designer in the 90’s that was often the case – I’d have done everything I could and next steps were waiting on something from someone else so I could call it a day. But now, with the web, and social sites, and constant email there is never an end. There is always a flow of new things to do, so unless you consciously decide that you are going to put it down and do something else for X hours a day, you won’t. And before you know it you’ll be dead and will have wasted your life chasing likes on Facebook. Fuck that".
    (categories: life culture time priorities budgeting )

  • Office, messaging and verbs — Benedict Evans
    Lots of great stuff in here, excerpt: "Just as today we make web app copies of software models conceived for the floppy disk, so the first PCs were often used to type up memos that were then printed out and sent though internal mail. It took time for email to replace internal mail and even longer for people to stop emailing Word files as attachments. Equally, we went from typing expense forms (with carbon copies) to entering them into a Word doc version of the form, to a dedicated Windows app that looked just like the form, to a web page that looked just like the form – and then, suddenly, someone worked out that maybe you should just take a photo of the receipt. It takes time, but sooner or later we stop replicating the old methods with the new tools and find new methods to fit the new tools.   Hence, channeling Marshall McLuhan, new tools start out being made to fit the existing workflows, but over time the workflows change to fit the tools."
    (categories: productivity software collaboration work workflow tools )

  • The Web We Have to Save — Matter — Medium
    Quote: "The web was not envisioned as a form of television when it was invented. But, like it or not, it is rapidly resembling TV: linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking."
    (categories: blogging culture internet web )

  • Futures of text | Whoops by Jonathan Libov
    Excerpted excerpt: "Text is the most socially useful communication technology. It works well in 1:1, 1:N, and M:N modes. It can be indexed and searched efficiently, even by hand. It can be translated. It can be produced and consumed at variable speeds. It is asynchronous. It can be compared, diffed, clustered, corrected, summarized and filtered algorithmically. It permits multiparty editing. It permits branching conversations, lurking, annotation, quoting, reviewing, summarizing, structured responses, exegesis, even fan fic. The breadth, scale and depth of ways people use text is unmatched by anything."
    (categories: chat text sms design messaging ui bots )

  • "General Orders for Sentries" as perhaps the finest operations document of all time – SEBASTIAN MARSHALL
    Interesting ops stuff.
    (categories: operations process military )