The first time I instagrammed a container car, it was because I was waiting on my commuter train to show up, and I was bored to death.

(click for superfluous historical facts!)
(click for superfluous historical facts!)

The second time, I was curious about the word “Maersk”.

(click again!) 
(click again!) 

The third time… yeah, in all honesty, I was just kinda trolling my friends.


But at least a handful of other folks saw the same appeal. I kept seeing the containers, and the each time I did a little more on-the-spot research, I learned how old and/or humongous these companies are.

Kinda cool that there’s a whole other part of the economy that’s just been chugging along, making the rest of it work a little more smoothly.

And there’s the novelty, like birding. I’ve seen, in passing, a bunch of other containers that I haven’t snapped or read about yet.

It’s not sexy at all, but there’s something compelling here. Some things are born interesting. Some things, given time or attention, become interesting.

The Sisters Brothers (review)

Who do you know that has faith in you?

Within the first 40 or 45 pages of The Sisters Brothers there’s a lethal spider bite, tough mercenaries marveling at the wonders of a toothbrush, a gyspy-witch, and a bear attack. The next 250 are just about as strong. It’s splendid.

The two lead characters–who aren’t really good people, by the way–are brothers, and there were plenty of family dynamics here that made me think of my own (“Our blood is the same, we just use it differently.”). And our narrator is smart and self-aware, and is constantly tossing out little observations and musings, like:

I could not sleep without proper covering and instead spent the night rewriting lost arguments from my past, altering history so that I emerged victorious.

And here, on booze:

When a man is properly drunk it is as though he is in a room by himself.

And here, on making a bozo move when he’s trying to get his flirt on:

My chest swelled like an aching bruise and I thought, I am a perfect ass.

And here, on waking up:

I thought, Why did I bring up God so soon after waking?

Funny, thoughtful, twisted, must-read. Thanks to Austin for the suggestion!

My first upholstery project

It had been a while since my last significant hands-on project, when I refinished a
table I inherited from my grandpa
. I figured I could use a padded bench/ottoman kind of thing. And I dove right in. This was my first attempt at any kind of upholstery. I got the original bench on the cheap from an antiques store. It was hideous, but I saw potential:

stripes + gold tassel fringe really ain’t my thing. First step, strip
all of that junk off of the frame. The previous owner/builder really half-assed
the internal seat support, and the frame itself:

After I added a few metal brackets to reinforce the frame, I
installed new jute webbing with some 5/8″ upholstery tacks. The webbing with the red stripe is stronger than the black-striped rolls, FYI, and hence better for areas that bear weight. I also made some
rookie mistakes at one ends by not weaving first. Whoops:

After that, I covered it with some burlap to help reduce wear and tear, and stapled it down:

I added some dense, firm foam as the bottom layer for the seat, and reused the previous
main cushion, which was still in decent shape (which also saved me another
$50-70, give or take). Both of those pads were attached to the base and
to each other with some spray adhesive:

For a little extra give, the bench gets swaddled in a few strategically-placed layers soft batting (focusing on the top of the seat and the corners of the frame), also affixed with some spray adhesive:

I completely forgot to take pictures of the final fabric-covering stage, but
basically it’s more staples and more tacks, with a little tugging and
tucking here and there to make sure the fabric is lined up correctly.
Like military bed-making, but permanent. Finished it off with a dust
cover underneath…

…et voilà!:

This simple project didn’t offer any special technical challenges, but it did provide some insight into how much of a pain in the ass it is to do a great job. So much of the material and so much of the effort is hidden when you’re all done. Shout-out to my mom, who I’ve seen refurbish
and reupholster about a million pieces of furniture, and who gave me a
great guidebook and some specialty tools that probably saved me 300-400 hours of tears and
frustration. I want to do this again.