Category Archives: Baboon Achievers

The Six-Tripper

You saw what happened to my studio a couple of weeks ago. I got advice from a construction buddy of mine about how to re-hang the shelves so they would be sturdy, to hopefully avoid ever having them fall down again.  As you can see from the above photo, everything is back in order, but it’s a good thing I like the folks at my local hardware store.  It was an epic number of times stopping by before I was done.

  • Trip #1: Bought the new shelf brackets and toggle screws
  • Trip #2: Bought the correct drill bit since I apparently didn’t have that size after all
  • Trip #3: Bought the little washers when it turned out the screws were a teeny bit too small for the holes in the brackets.
  • Trip #4: Bought longer screws when it turned out the first screws weren’t long enough to push the toggles all the way through the plaster and wood
  • Trip #5: Bought 3 more toggle screws to replace the ones that fell down behind the wall when I put the first bracket on upside down.
  • Trip #6: Bought the spackle to fill in the spots where the old shelves had been attached.

I’ve never had a 6-trips-to-the-hardware-store project before. I’ve had lots of 2-trippers and a few 3-trippers, but never more than that.  The worst part of this 6-trip debacle is that each and every step was a different day;  I was working on this at night and every time I realized I needed to go back to the hardware store, they were closed for the night!

If you’ve seen photos of my studio before, it probably doesn’t look any different to you but it feels different to me – all put back together as well as nice and clean now. And I doubt anything will bring those shelves down again – fingers crossed!

When have you had a frustrating project?

Making Things Pretty

Today’s post comes to us from Port Huron Steve

In the summer of 1974 my parents invited my erstwife and me to a dinner. They explained that my dad had made a serious amount of money recently, much more than they needed. There could be no happier use of that money, they said, than to send us to London “all expenses paid.” We wouldn’t need to spend a dime of our own money for two weeks of touring London.

Of course we were thrilled. We were grad students eking out a living with on-campus jobs at the University of Minnesota. This gift would let us live like rich people for two weeks. Even better, we realized there was enough money enough to allow us to travel around the United Kingdom. Instead of staying in a posh London hotel, as my parents had anticipated, we could sleep in B&Bs in the countryside. The money saved would cover a cheap rental auto. We could travel wherever our whims directed.

Our two-week vacation in September featured a week of exploring London and a week of bumbling about the country. We visited Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Devon and Dorset. We nipped into Wales briefly, which was funny. The Welsh were astonished that tourists would intentionally enter their country. They had no infrastructure to accommodate us, and we didn’t stay long.

We took hundreds of photos. Photography was trickier then than now. We shot slide film, a touchy and unforgiving medium. Our Fujichrome slides weren’t as pretty as Kodachrome, and they had gobs of grain. The British weather did us no favors, raining every day. The fugitive sun made a brief appearance three times. When not raining the skies remained overcast and harshly bright. Our slides were drab, with unpleasant tonality.

You can’t view slides without a slide projector, screen and dark room. Several years ago I hired a company to scan our slides, converting them to digital files. When I got the scans I was dismayed. The scanning process was crude. All the scans were underexposed and grainy, with ugly colors and tones.

A few weeks ago I came across those scans where they’d been hiding in a remote file on my computer. I opened a scan in my photo editing software. It was easy to brighten the image. I made some areas of the image darker, lightening others. I tweaked some colors. I tamed the harsh sky. My editing software has ways of reducing grain. Soon I had a new version of the slide that was pretty, or at least prettier than it had been. Some scans were too compromised to salvage, but that left nearly 200 scans that begged for a beauty makeover. With a big grin I began editing the 1974 trip images.

That kicked off three of the happiest weeks I’ve known. Because my computer is attached to good speakers I could stream an internet folk music broadcast while I worked.

Photo editing is tricky. I kept returning to images I had edited earlier, tweaking them, and often making my edits more subtle. Of course, no amount of editing can make fuzzy images sharp. Many things can go wrong in photography. I was puzzled by an icky color cast in pictures of suits of armor. I finally figured out that the armor was in a room lit with fluorescent lights, giving the metal a green cast. Aha! That could be fixed. In the end I produced 189 pleasing images.

The project was emotionally complicated. I was having so much fun I tuned out the horror show of our national politics. It was a joy to revisit moments from that extraordinary trip 44 years ago. Each image presented unique challenges, old memories and surprising rewards. Christmas—actually, a splendid Christmas—came and went. I was almost too absorbed with editing to pay it much attention. I was too busy making ugly things prettier. What is more rewarding than that?

Do you have ways to add beauty to your life?

Playing Carnegie Hall

A couple of weeks ago our church office received an email from an event coordinator who works for Carnegie Hall. She had been searching out bell choirs online, found ours, and asked if we would be interested in playing at The Great Christmas Ring  next year.  We would perform with about 250 other ringers in early December at Carnegie Hall after several days of rehearsals with an eminent bell choir conductor and composer.  They will provide the bells and equipment, and we just pay for everything else.

Six of us have expressed interest, and will submit our applications this week.  Participation is on a first come-first serve basis, so we hope we get in.  I think it will be pretty exciting.  It will not be the first time I played Carnegie Hall, however.

When I was 18 I auditioned for and played in a concert band comprised of high school students from all over the US. We played a concert in Carnegie Hall prior to a European tour.  It was quite an experience.  I didn’t really appreciate my surrounding s when I was 18, so if we get to play bells in New York next December I will pay much closer attention.

If you could perform anything, anywhere, even in the past, where would you perform and with whom would you perform? What famous concerts do you wish you could have attended? 

Small Accomplishments

Our son informed us this week that our 7 month old grandson was pulling himself up to standing on the living room furniture.  “He looks so proud when he does it!” son reported. Oh, to be so proud for such a small (but essentially huge), accomplishment.

What small accomplishments are you proud of? When can small be huge?

 

Data Dump

Last week the Trail hit 7,000 followers.   This made me curious about some of our other current stats.

  • Overall # of views: 834,276
  • The most viewed posts are some of the oldest, written by our beloved leader Dale, however the fifth most-viewed is “Music: The Most Powerful Art Form” by our Chris.
  • The post with the most comments in the last four years is “Chores and the Great Depression” by our Jacque.
  • Top author is, of course, Dale, followed by Verily Sherrilee, Renee, Barbara in Rivertown and Northshorere (Clyde).
  • Recent top commenters are Barbara, Steve and Renee.
  • We have more activity on the Trail on Tuesday and Wednesdays. Our quietest day is Sunday.

But these are just numbers.

What do YOU think is noteworthy about the Trail? And if you have never commented before, this is your day – just a one word comment to add to our stats?

 

 

 

David vs Goliath

Today’s post comes from Crystalbay

I’ve been MIA for a few weeks because I’m thoroughly embroiled in a fight with city hall. In this city, people aren’t allowed to have a boat at their dock unless they themselves own it. This means that my own kids couldn’t even dock here. I have no boat, and have rented it out every summer for much needed income. A local marina owner found out and filed a complaint against me. I was notified that I had to remove the friend’s boat in one week or face trial. I didn’t comply, then received a summons for a court hearing. Bottom line: I’m facing up to a $1000 fine or 90 days in jail for having one boat at my otherwise empty dock. This money is 1/4 of my annual income, so I decided to fight back.

In a group email to the mayor and city council, I begged for help in resolving this. I explained my situation. I also wrote that, short of help from them, I might have to go public. Not one responded. I’m sure that they thought I was just blowing smoke.

I made one phone call to the StarTribune. They came out the very next day to interview me. A week later, the story was featured on the front page of the Minnesota Section.

What’s happened since this is nothing short of phenomenal. 360 comments followed the article, 95% positive. Someone posted the story on a Lake Minnetonka Fan Club FB page. 250 more comments followed, 98% from people outraged by Orono’s actions. A high end attorney offered pro bono representation. Two more local newspapers wanted in on the action and two more articles brought even more support. I’ve been told that the story spread across the state and that even our governor is following it. I’ve had offers to pay any legal costs or fines. Hundreds have expressed interest in attending my public hearing on Oct. 25th. All three reporters from the three articles published want to be present for possible follow-up articles.

What began as just me and the city locking horns over my dock has taken on a life of its own, with hundreds of people angry about everything from how our tax dollars are being spent to government overreach to how seniors are treated. It seems that disdain for city councils around the lake in general was tapped into by one old lady’s predicament. It’s reminding me of the movie Network when Peter Finch got people to open up their windows and yell, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore!!!!!”

In short, my situation going public has touched a palpable and collective nerve in the community across the lake. Even if, as many are predicting, my case gets dismissed, something has clearly been awakened. All I wanted was and is to be able to have one boat at my dock.

What was your David vs Goliath moment? Have you ever had to fight City Hall?

 

 

Slice-o-matic

Although I love cooking, I also love any gadget that makes it easier or quicker. So when I saw a strawberry huller online last week, I was intrigued.  Between the jam and the bags of  berries that I freeze every summer, I spend a lot of time over the sink hulling strawberries with a little sharp knife.  I searched around, discovered that the huller was carried at Bed Bath & Beyond and headed over there on my way down to Northfield to get strawberries. I faced the wall of kitchen gadgets and finally found it, a steal at $7.99 if it made the hulling process easier!  Here’s a quick look at how it works:

And it does work, however, not better than my little sharp knife. After all these years I’m pretty fast, transferring the hulled berry to a bowl while picking up the next strawberry with the hand holding the knife.  With the huller, I ended up having to add an extra step of pushing the button to “dump” the stem and sometimes having to pull twisted stem out of the berry.  After the first batch of jam, I went back to the knife.  It does make a very nice uniform hole if you want to fill the strawberries with something but for a big project, it’s not helpful.  Oh well.

This means that my cherry tomato slicer is still my favorite summertime gadget. I usually have tons of cherry tomatoes every year and the little slicer quickly and easily slices the little tomatoes into four bits.  Did I mention it’s fast?  And easy?  At this time of year I use it almost every day.

What’s your favorite summer gadget?