The Garage

[I wrote the following descriptive essay for English 199 and received a decent grade, so I’m going to share it with whoever (aka no one)  wants to read it. Please criticize it in the comments if you do read it!]

The Garage

It’s a regular occurrence; I’m sitting at my desk when an idea pops into my head.  It’s something I can make, I’m sure of it. The idea could be anything: a picture frame for a photo nestled under some loose papers, a TV wall-mount to free up some precious desk space, or perhaps just a larger desk. Once the idea comes, I must attempt to create it. Without a second thought I head outside towards the garage.

Made of white cinder block and protected with steel bars on all of the windows, from the outside peering in, some may think the garage is a small prison. Even with a key, getting inside isn’t entirely effortless. Considerable force must be applied to the key in a full rotation, almost requiring a full-body effort. Sometimes I contemplate whether the key will finally snap as I hear the pins inside the lock reluctantly screech into position.  Surprisingly, after being unlocked, the heavy steel door gracefully opens to reveal the treasures inside. Tools, lots of tools, running wall to wall and rising ten feet high. The inside is still a bit dark until I flip the fluorescent lights on; they flicker quickly for a few seconds before going fully bright to expose dust particles glistening down from the ceiling. Usually there are tools scattered across the workbench alongside a project waiting to be finished. On the floor, sawdust, a seemingly useless scrap that is now absorbing a spill from the last oil change. At the far end of the garage where the lighting is dim lies the excess wood and steel from past projects. They are more scraps which will be given a purpose, eventually.

With a blueprint in mind, I head towards the scrap materials. I can usually find something that fits the build when I quickly scan through the pile. The roughly cut mahogany contrasts sharply against the black, slender lengths of steel. Occasionally what I need from the pile is simple, like a small block of walnut I used to make a pen holder, or a piece of oak I found to make a cane for my grandfather. Eagerly, I push and pull the material around. The cold metal shrills loudly against the bare concrete; meanwhile, dreary thuds from the large pieces of wood echo throughout the rest of the garage. When I have the material I am looking for in my hand, I have my next project. After a quick sketch in a curled notepad on the workbench, and jotting down some rough measurements along the way, it’s time to start building.

While I am woodworking, sawdust may muster bitterly under my breath as I tear through a length of oak. At any rate, when the dust settles, the air is flooded with the scent of an entire forest. The atmosphere is quite different when working with steel. Racing through a piece of flat iron with the angle grinder can leave a magnificent waterfall of sparks scattering off nearby walls like schooling fish in the ocean. Unfortunately, after a few hours of metal fabrication, my throat is dry, as if sandpaper has been rubbed across my larynx. The choking smoke rising from the welding torch is nauseating at best, but propping the door open in the summer months helps. Any amount of construction in the garage will take its toll on me; cuts, scrapes, or burns are inevitable, and yet, I hardly notice them while I work. As I move back and forth between work areas, I fall into a trance. I can fondly remember one of my first experiences in the garage. My father, being the father he is, decided to show me how to weld. I was four years old. I slid  the thick leather gloves on which extended up to my shoulders, and my father placed the loose fitting welding helmet on my head. The next thing I knew, I was poking the rod into a chunk of iron under his guidance. Despite all precautions, a large spark managed to travel down one of the gloves and burned my fingertip. It didn’t hurt. I was fairly impressed with myself, but my mother didn’t share the same feelings.

My thoughts are usually quite clear while I am in the garage. For the most part I am not thinking about the actual project at hand, rather the reaction I will get when it is done. That is what keeps me going, and pushes me to make it just right. Sometimes the project is difficult to make, and if I struggle to figure out a way to do it, my thoughts about anything else collapse. Once I begin to think about the project and nothing else, I get tired and frustrated. It’s time to take a break. Sometimes a few weeks go by before I even want to look at what I was working on, but I eventually do. It needs to be finished. Eventually I figure out what to do. The finishing touches are what takes the longest. I circle the shop floor, staring from different angles, trying to catch a blunder someone else might see. Regularly,  I claim the project to be finished, but then a few hours later my dad will walk in to find me re-sanding down a corner.

After countless hours, I am satisfied with what I have created. I stare upon it for some time. I made it, and the feeling of accomplishment is overwhelming. At last, I flick the lights off and head back towards the house under the moonlight, creation at hand.

School, Games, Computers

Lately I haven’t had much motivation to post about anything. I’m now settled in Edmonton for another year of school, and everything is going smoothly; however, Math 201 (Differential equations) and Math 209 (Calc. III) are freaking me out. The last few lectures pretty much everything has been going over my head.

Besides school, not much else is new. I bought NHL10 this week for my PS3, and it’s a pretty awesome game. There isn’t any major gameplay changes, but it feels like they made a ton of minor tweaks to enhance the realism. One popular “enhancement” I don’t like: fighting after the whistle. a) It slows down the games pace a lot, and b) my cpu team-mates like to take penalties during this time and it’s frustrating.

I also tried Resident Evil 5 and Need For Speed: Shift for the PC:

RE5 was a let down to me. The controls are very sluggish with a keyboard and mouse. It’s pretty pathetic that I have to use my Xbox 360 controller on a PC shooter in order to have decent controls. Other than controls, the game is beautiful and immersive.

Quite surprisingly, Need For Speed: Shift is an excellent game! I’ve only played a few races, but I’m impressed. The graphics are a little dated, but the driving mechanics have been overhauled to handle more like a racing simulator. The game just feels good.

Oh yeah, and I ordered a new printer and a new mouse from

The printer is a monochrome laser Brother HL2140. It is my third printer in less than a year. I’m quite happy with it, but then again I said that for the last two printers.
Pros: only cost $72.57; short power-on time; fast 23 ppm; relatively quiet; crisp text; cheap toner; compact; large paper tray
Cons: no duplexing ability (not even manual); included toner rated at 1000 pages while replacement toner is 1500 pages

As for the mouse, it’s a Razer Mamba! Right off the bat, let me just say I have no rational reasoning as to why I ordered this VERY expensive mouse. The last few months I have been looking for a new mouse since my Habu continued to have a double-clicking issue. I clicked through lists and lists of mice, and the Mamba is honestly the only one that caught my eye. I would have went with the Logitech MX Revolution but I HATE the free scrolling wheel ability (because it comes at the cost of the middle click). So anyway, the Mamba is amazing. Everything about it is pure overkill. I’ll do a mini-review in another post.

And one more thing. My friend Simon altered his website so his Facebook status would automatically update in his website description. Not to be left out, I found a widget that would do the same for me. It’s called StatusPress. I particularly like this version. It was kind of a pain the ass to find/make a Facebook RSS feed of my own status. This used to be very easy, it was right on the main page. Instead, I had to make a new Facebook account, add the real me as a friend, find the notes page and copy the rss link, then edit the rss link so it was for status instead of notes. Why Facebook, why…?

Happy Birthday Mr. Tesla

Well, I planned to make a post on the Uncharted 2 Multi-Player Beta, but that came and went June 28th. Then I planned on making a post about my mom’s kitchen renovation. I still plan on doing that, sometime. Then I planned on making a post about my new computer I received last week, and I still haven’t done that obviously.

Within the next few days, I should have something posted. In the meantime, here is a video of a musical Tesla coil, since it was Nikolai Tesla’s birthday yesterday. If you’re thinking, “What was it that Tesla did again?”, I suggest you watch this video. The musical Tesla coil works by modulating the output sparks into an audible frequency. For the past couple of years, I have really wanted to build a coil. Hopefully, one day, I fulfill this desire.