Sunday, April 27, 2008

My mad refinishing skills

About a month ago, I embarked on a project to refinish one of my grandpa's old desks. It had scratches all over the surface and nail polish and glue stains because of a special person I know (who will go unnamed, since I just now found out that he/she apparently is extremely sensitive to being called out on the internet for smearing nail polish on antique furniture and certain expensive musical instruments some time last decade). So I did a bit of research, got the necessary materials, and set to work on this project. I spent days sanding down the desk and all the drawers, during which the air in the garage became so saturated with sanding dust that my sanding masks were useless at filtering all the sanding particles, and I felt congested for an entire week. Unfortunately, I got sanding dust pretty much everywhere, and my dad wasn't too happy about that...

Anyway, I picked out a "special walnut" stain and glossy polyurethane, and by the end of spring break, I had the first clear coat of polyurethane on the desk and all the drawers. This was a ton of work for one week.

The next weekend, when I came home on Saturday, the top of the desk was smudged up a little bit, possibly to somebody setting down on top, destroying the finish. I guess I didn't give enough of a warning to my parents that it needed time to dry. I found it impossible to correct the blemish by sanding it down, and ended up destroying the stain. This is the destroyed finish after my failed attempt to fix it:

I ended up sanding down the entire top surface again, and applying a new stain and clear coat. I decided to take more precautions this time, and post some warning signs.

And hence, the final layer of clear coat, and the now fully restored and re-beautified antique desk. It is surely a work of art.

I am praying that nothing unfortunate happens to the desk this week. I am a bit tired of working on it. I didn't think to take pictures of the disk before I started working on it, which is a pity, because I didn't realize how unusually few pictures of the desk we actually have. I searched briefly through our family album of scanned and horrifically disorganized .jpeg files, and I could only come up with this one ancient photo dating from last decade (wow, computer screens used to be that big???):

Until I find better photos of the desk, you'll just have to take my word that it was quite unsightly.

(Help me out, family. If you know of any digital pictures of the desk before I started working on it, please email them to me. There might be a special prize.)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ah, the smell of cherry blossoms!

I was walking home from class today, and I brought my camera along. It was a beautiful spring day, and the cherry blossoms in the "Liberal Arts Quadrangle" were in full bloom, so I decided to slow down for once and take a few photos!

Left: Miller Hall. Right: Raitt Hall (left), Art Building (right)

Left: Art building. Right: Music building

Smith Hall

And here are some more photos of my dorm, Hansee Hall. It's always good to know there are gargoyles on the roof scaring away evil spirits! (Actually, it is a chimnera; gargoyles in architecture are ornate gutters used to spout water away from a building!)

My bad omen car...

Hello, everybody.

This may be old news for some of you. I got one of my car windows shattered some time between March 14th and 15th.

If you remember, I've had my drivers side power window smashed in before early in the morning on Thursday, May 3, 2007. The repairs cost around $350, none of which my insurance helped out with. I'm hoping that repairs this time will be a lot cheaper! Ironically, both incidents happened before the Sunday when me and a friend, Rosemary, played part of the second movement to Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata for church offertory. Just out of fear to losing more windows on my car, I don't think I will ever play that piece again. Anyway, here are the photos from a year ago which I haven't uploaded yet:

As you could see, this time, it was a much smaller window. Other cars in the same parking lot were also broken into, and some cars actually had their main driver power windows knocked out. I'm not sure when I'm going to finally get the window replaced, but for the time being, I have constructed a nice sturdy patch out of clear packing tape. It has been pretty weather resistant, and I wasn't expecting it to last this long.

At first, I thought they only got away with a 30 pack of top ramen packets. But I found out a week later that they stole a backpack full of ski equipment, including a new coat I had just gotten, ski pants, a hat, gloves, and ski goggles, which was in the trunk. Last time I had the car broken into, they got away with my iPod, which was in the glove box. I guess I finally learned my lesson to have nothing of value in my car. I also think I might just leave my packing tape patch on, so thieves have an easy way to break in that isn't going to cost me $350 to repair. Hopefully, they're smart enough to realize they don't have to break my windows to get in.

These aren't the only times my car has been vandalized. On four separate occasions, my car has been pelted by a total of 7 eggs, the most recent time (believe it or not) this past Friday night! I was driving home for the weekend, and a car coming in the other direction pelted my driver window with an egg. It didn't cause any damage, and it washed off pretty easy.

Four of the eggs that hit my car left marks, but here are the worst two:

This happened in August 2005 while I was in the military. I found it after I had come home from leave in Washington. I think the eggs may have been sitting on my car for three or four days, because it had completely cooked to the car and was beginning to smell pretty gross. It gets pretty hot in the summer in North Carolina. I could still see the stains where the egg had run down the side of the car. You can see the paint has been removed from where two of the egg shells had been sitting the entire time.

I also had my car shot with a BB gun some time in 2006. I'm not sure if I had gotten shot while I was driving home from JiffyLube that day, or if I had been shot while I was parked in front of my house. But I was typing up a report and my my roommate Matthew got home from work and asked me if I knew I had a hole in my passenger side door. I was shocked, and sure enough, there was a deep dent where the paint had been stripped. Here is a photograph:

I am so used to having my car vandalized that I'm starting to expect seeing something wrong every time I go to it. Every time this happens, I start telling myself that I should have gotten a beater. I just got a steering wheel club on my mom's suggestion, since Honda Civics are one of the easiest cars to steal.

Anyway, that is my bad omen car. If you like people breaking your car windows, throwing eggs at your car and shooting your car with BB guns, then you may be happy with a Honda Civic 2002 4-door, green with silver pinstripe.