Joe Abbott's Weblog

Letters home to mom

Another day in a month off from work

Posted by joeabbott on December 10, 2013

I got up early-ish … where “early-ish” is the time Suz usually wakes up, not the time I usually wake up … and I got to the day. The morning chores are both pedestrian and barely worthy of ink: take a shower, feed the cats, clean the cat box, fetch the paper, etc. The one thing I noticed is that our kitchen is rather small when there are two folks in there, so I headed upstairs to get in a bit of blogging and email while Suz prepared for a day at work.

imageI fiddled around there until around 10AM when I called Bamboo Hardwoods, Inc., a company in downtown Seattle. We’d stopped in before, liked their selection, but I had some trepidation as their Yelp reviews were pretty damning! Just 2.5-stars average on 4 reviews with people unhappy with their customer service and their post-installation support. Given that I knew what I wanted and was just picking up materials, I still gave them a call.

Unfortunately, they were going to stop carrying the bamboo plywood I wanted and one particular type was no longer available in the size sheet I wanted! And, as they’d told others they were going to stop carrying the strand cut material, they were experiencing something of a run on the remaining stockpile. Time to get down there!

I built a simple carrier for the luggage rack that’s on top of my car and I strapped that on. It’s simply two 8’ 2×4 boards that have had holes cut in them to accept a U-bolt through them. The U-bolt passes under the luggage rack and in a recess in the 2×4, two nuts secure it in place. I have two U-bolts per 2×4 board, so it’s all fairly secure to my car. Once I slide the plywood onto the boards, I use simple clamps to secure the plywood panels to the 2x4s.

Works great.

imageimageimageBut now I was in a hurry; I wanted to both get the material to nudge me along on this project, but I also wanted to get it home before the rains forecast for later this week started falling. And now I was racing against a diminishing stock!

At Bamboo Hardwoods, I learned that they were now a wholesaler and didn’t directly sell to the public, but a guy who introduced himself as Mikey, worked for Urbanata (an offshoot company formed when Bamboo Hardwoods went wholesale) was happy to help me. And let me say this: Mikey gets a 5-star review for his help. He was courteous, personable, professional, and just plain helpful as I sorted through the options before me. He took me into the warehouse to inspect the materials, answered my questions about the different products, and never once made me feel like I was interrupting him … which I think I was.

The hardest part of me was that I’d set my mind on a product called Strand Woven, Tiger but they only had that in 6’ lengths, and I wanted 8’ lengths. My second option, Strand Woven, Mocha was a bit more staid than I’d wanted, so I was hemming and hawing a bit. At this point Mikey pulled out another option not on their website: Strand Woven, Bengal. It’s almost a cross between the two and was perfect!

So, I picked up a couple sheets of the Bengal and one of some vertical grain material for the edges. “Edges to what”, you might be asking? Well, I plan on building some built-in low cabinets with sliding doors! I’ll detail the project later but this load just ran me a bit over $800 so I plan on getting it done and doing it well!


I got this load home and by that time I felt late to get to Microsoft campus to see Nathan Myhrvold’s talk on the photography of his Modernist Cuisine series. But, in always-busy Seattle traffic I made it about 45 minutes early and settled in outside the conference room.

After about 10 minutes of waiting with no one else showing up, I talked to a receptionist who pointed me to another room across campus. I could find nowhere on the Company events pages that stated this move but there were plenty of others in the room when I showed up. And Nathan was up front preparing. Looks like I’d found the right place and had 10 minutes to spare!

imageI admit to having a bit of a fanboy interest in Myhrvold and his ventures, so I was a bit agog. I wanted to approach him and introduce myself, but I wasn’t sure to what end; I’d likely just stammer and make Minnesota small talk to a man with better things to do with his time, so I stayed put in the second row and observed. Note to others: don’t follow this example. I’ve spent most of my life being that guy who is fully attentive but in the second row not saying a word and that sort of person doesn’t make the world go ‘round. Stand up, put a hand out there, and introduce yourself … be the person who’s not afraid of stammering and soon enough you won’t be. I try to take that advice but, as you can see, don’t always follow it.

Anyhow, I probably shouldn’t have watched the 10-minute Ted talk I pointed to in yesterday’s post as Myhrvold covered much of the same material, expanded slightly. Which was fine, but lost some of the novel edge when you knew what was coming. Simply put, the book The Photography of Modernist Cuisine is a fantastic work: part textbook on photographic technique, part focus on the wonder of food, and all beautiful. The gorgeous book is an imposing 18”x14” tome running over 300 pages and weighing almost 13#. More coffee table, than coffee table book, but it’s a brilliant bit of work.

At the end of the talk I asked a couple of questions about “how did you do that” but they wrapped it up and stated that Myhrvold would sign copies of his books. Many people bought books there at the talk, but I pulled Suzanne’s copy of Modernist Cuisine at Home and had him sign that for her. While I’d hoped he’d add a clever “keep cookin’!” or something to the signature, it was simple and understated and elegant. A very nice addition to her copy of his cookbook.

Upon getting home there was less time to the day than I’d hoped. I fetched the mail, pulled up trash and recycling cans from the curb, boned some chicken for dinner, and then played a half hour of A World for Kelflings … a kids’ game that I’m just doodling around in before diving back into “serious” gaming. I’ll likely take up Dishonored but Batman, Arkham City and Tomb Raider are strong contenders. More on that when I make a choice.

Suzy got in and, as always, whirls into action. Dinner was ready in no time (chicken teriyaki … without the teriyaki! She was so hurried she forgot to put on the sauce so we enjoyed chicken and rice … which was delicious).

After chatting a bit we started in on a final evening chore: finishing off the lavender preparation. Suzy has a half dozen or so lavender plants in the backyard and a couple times over the summer will trim off the shoots she thinks the bees have finished with. The shoots then spend a couple months drying in her potting shed before we strip the lavender buds from the stalks. She then has a nice supply of aromatic material to pack into sachets as gifts for a few lucky friends and family members. As my family has been recipients, I’m happy to help … it’s a lovely gift.


But that was it for the day! It was about 9PM and time to turn in.

Today I have a class at Microsoft and, after that, I’ll spend time at home working on the design for the cabinets. I talked things out with Suzy last night and have some ideas about how we should do things. Time to get serious! As with all things, more on that later!

Thanks for dropping in and I look forward to visiting again soon.


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