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Dresser

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After finishing the nightstand and the bed, the only piece of furniture our apartment lacked was a dresser. Initially I was a bit nervous about trying such a difficult project, but after the other projects turned so well I was feeling pretty cocky, and decided to go for it. My hubris didn’t last.
As usual I got plans from ana-white.com – ana-white.com/2012/01/plans/small-dresser-open-bottom-shelf-cabin-collection
The dresser taught me that just because a drawer looks straight, doesn’t mean it will roll in or out smoothly :( The first time I put the drawers in the frame, they either got stuck halfway out or popped off the rails.
After a lot of frustration, I eventually remeasured the entire frame. Turns out the frame twisted ever so slightly from the bottom to the top. I had to loosen all the screws, and hammer in some temporary cross beams to keep everything straight, measure again, and then tighten everything. It was a really pain in the neck, but now the drawers slide without binding.
The plans use plywood for the dresser sides, but I used wainscoting panels designed for wall coverings. The panels provide a texture that is a lot more interesting than just a flat side. After a bit of trial and error we went with a cloud theme on the front, which I think looks really cool. In the end the dresser took a lot longer than I expected, but it’s finished now, and works really well – we use it everyday. We have it standing next to a dresser from Ikea, and the one I built looks a lot better and feels much stronger :)

 

My Email Response Rate

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Google used to have a great feature where they would send you an email at the end of every month summarizing the activity on your gmail account. Mostly it showed the number of emails you received and responded to over the course of the month. Both Cassie and I find writing emails to be a chore (along with the rest of the world), so we would compete to see who would send the most emails in the month. Just as our competition got going, Google killed off the service :(

So I wrote a script to compile all the data Google used to send us.  But then I got a bit carried away and started including all sorts of other useful information, like how fast you respond to emails, how fast your friends respond to you.  Also I read somewhere that we respond fastest to our friends, and slowest to people we don’t like. So I made a chart of response time by recipient.

The code connects to Gmail via IMAP, and then creates a webpage with a bunch of pretty charts showing how you use Gmail. You can find the source, and instructions for using the project here: github.com/jkoomjian/MyEmailResponseRate.

 

Fun with Flickr

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So I often walk by Kerry Park, a view point with some great views of Seattle. And there are always dozens of people lined up with their tripods and their cameras all pointed in the same direction, taking the same shot of the Space Needle.  Literally, the exact same shot. So I began wondering if I found a bunch of these shots on the internet, and then made a mosaic from them, would you still be able to see the original image? So I tried it. The answer is no. The resulting mosaics are not copies of the original images, but instead abstract rearrangements of the city skyline. I think they’re pretty neat.

This final image is made up of 174,592 tiles of 2×2 pixels from random photos from Kerry Park. It kind of just looks like noise, but if you squint a bit I think you can see the blue get lighter near the horizon, and you can make out the ocean to the center right and of course the trees at the bottom.

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The source code used to generate these images is at: github.com/jkoomjian/Random-Experiments/tree/master/FlickrApi/FlickrMosaic

 

Next up I thought it would be cool to make a mosaic of 365 tiles – one tile for each day of they year, all taken at the same place.  The first place I chose was central park. In the image below, the first tile is an image taken on Jan 1, the second tile was taken on Jan 2, all the way to the last tile, of the fireworks, taken on Dec. 31. You can kind of make out the seasonal variation, but its not as impressive as I was hoping.

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I figured a big part of the problem was that too many of the photos focused on people and man-made objects like statues which don’t change color through the seasons. So for the next mosaic I only included images of farm fields.

1 picture per day, of Iowa farms

1 picture per day, of Iowa farms

 

Source code at: github.com/jkoomjian/Random-Experiments/tree/master/FlickrApi/FlickrYear

Destroying the world with a candle

This is a therapy candle for anyone who’s idea of therapy is watching he world burn. The positive side of the mold was created from a huge ball of aluminum foil wrapped in a coating of super sculpey. Super sculpey is great stuff – it feels like modelling clay, but when you are done creating your object, you bake it in the oven for a few minutes and it will harden. Like firing clay, except you use a toaster oven instead of a 1000+ degree kiln. The blue mold was made from silicone rubber, purchased here: smooth-on.com/Silicone-Rubber-an/c2_1113_1136/index.html. It comes in two bottles of liquid. You pour them together over your positive, wait a while, and it turns to solid rubber. Then the positive is cut out, the mold is resealed, and filled with melted wax.  Once we lit the candle, the flame hollowed out  and destroyed the earth just as we had hoped. And we added some cucumber-melon scent to the wax, so as the earth melted it gave off a relaxing scent.

 

After painting

Little Planet

Little planet panorama’s look really cool and complicated, but actually only take like two steps to make. Here are some I made from the top of the Iowa state capitol and the Space Needle in Seattle.

 

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Street Sign Birdhouse

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A while back I build a bird house to spice up the ugly street sign in front of our house.  Cassie and I took bets on how long it would last. Our block gets a lot of traffic, and is just up from some bars, so we weren’t terribly optimistic. Cassie guessed a week, I hoped it would last for 3 weeks. That was back in spring of 2013. Amazingly it survived Seattle street life. Until last week. Someone ripped the house off the post. The base is still embedded in the street sign post, but the house has been sheared off. I built that base to be strong – it’s a solid square of five pieces of wood glued together, with screws running diagonally though them.  But it did last over a year – a year and a month to be precise, which massively exceeded our expectations. And people noticed it and thought it looked cool. For what it’s worth, during that whole year I never saw a bird in the birdhouse.

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Cassie and I also ran a similar experiment last year – we placed a gnome in the traffic circle in front of our house. It looked really cool, but it wasn’t locked up.  In the end the gnome lasted 3 weeks. Tons of people saw it, but nobody messed with it, until the northwest folklife festival arrived. The festival goers were parking in our neighborhood, and one of them walked off with the gnome. So I guess the lesson is that people are surprisingly honest in their own neighborhood, but not so much when they’re in someone else’s neighborhood.

All that's left of the birdhouse :(

All that’s left of the birdhouse :(

 

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Someone made an offering of an unopened bottle of beer to our gnome god.

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