Wednesday, September 16, 2020

A chair, among other things

We've been working very hard on a major project, which is just beginning to come together now.

In other projects, my husband brought home a chair from somewhere. It is held together by a system of bolts and screws, and about a quarter of them were either not original, or missing entirely.  All of the other ones were loose.

I found replacements in our hardware hoard, but had to enlarge one of the holes a bit.

To avoid walking all the way out to the garage to get a drill bit, I ended up carving the hole larger, using a gouge from a set of little chisels that I have.

Then I had trouble getting one of the bolts to go in; a problem that I solved mostly by persistence.


Friday, September 11, 2020

Blogger design team, please beat yourselves over the head with Donald Norman books

I've been using the new Blogger interface for two minutes, and while I had previously promised not to like it, now I have several definite reasons to not like it.  It's very nice to have that little "Revert to legacy Blogger" button there, but since I've had some education in human factors, I will take a look around first.

What they need to remember from Norman is the concept of Affordances, usable ones.  An affordance is something that the user can interact with, usually a control. A user interface for ordinary people needs to make the user's controls visible and understandable and usable, not hidden and obscure within the user interface.

Overall it seems their intention was to make a more mobile-friendly interface, cleaner-looking and less dense. Not simpler, because the set of user controls hasn't changed much. Some of the cleanliness has come at the cost of moving controls to sub-menus...such as Blockquote and Save.

They've changed the text boxes to only show a thin line at the bottom. Typing a post title feels viscerally precarious, like standing on the ridge of a roof, compared to the enclosed feeling of a fully outlined text box. Just what a writer needs when they're trying to put words together.

I'm also not a fan of the post thumbnails; which for an image-less post is an image of the first letter in the title, only in a different font, gray, and MUCH LARGER.

In the listing of Posts, the controls are all icons except for Edit, which you get to now by clicking on the title, and which I found only by guessing.

For the Labels chooser, they have hidden the full list of labels and have put in a search-based suggestion functionality, which updates with each new character typed. So if I type in the letter "s", it gives me a list of all of the labels that contain "s", starting with "accept and transcend". Typing "se" gets me a list that starts with "exercise" and ends with "serendipity" and "sewing". So I will often have to half-type the label I want, to get it far enough up the list that I can select it without having to scroll down to it. Or I can just ignore the suggestions, and type the whole thing myself.

Previously the listing was compactly given in a box, separated by commas. It was very difficult to accurately select them on a mobile device, for sure, but at least I could see them all, with a little scrolling.

On further use, observation, and investigation, I found that I could get the whole list of labels.  All I have to do is put in two or more labels, then a comma to indicate the end of the last one, then it will throw up the whole list, apparently believing that I am now getting serious about attaching labels to this particular post. In the scroll box, I can see seven labels at a time. I have one hundred and two.

It is also sometimes putting a recently removed label at the top of the list, since I've been experimenting with putting on and taking off labels. What else is it trying to think about for itself when I'm not looking?

Saturday, September 5, 2020

More secure seat covers

The chintzy dining chair finally met its end when one of the screw holes ripped out, which got me back to thinking about how to mend the vinyl seats of two steel chairs. The damage was too large for a patch, but I didn't want to completely redo them yet, either,

That left me with making covers for the seats. I found that I had just enough of the waterproof canvas left over from the chair and table projects to cover both seats.

I decided to take the seats off and staple the fabric to the underside, right over the vinyl. The fabric was thin enough for me to get away with this; something thicker would make it hard to get the screws back in far enough.

I did have to piece the fabric together, so there is a seam running across each seat. Since this is a temporary solution, I wasn't very fussy about gathering in the corners, so the whole process went quickly.

Thursday, September 3, 2020


The "Quick bar cookies" recipe on this post, which is actually a recipe for chocolate chip blondies, is very forgiving. I've recently tried substituting vegetable oil for the butter. This works all right, but comes out a little drier, as butter contains some water that the oil doesn't. I also tried adding cocoa powder and peppermint extract to make something more like a brownie. The family liked the result, and didn't realize that it was almost exactly the same recipe. Rolled oats were not in the original recipe, but I almost always add them, for nutrition.


We've been very busy, and I was looking for a quick and fun project, and decided to paint one of our stump tables. The stump is a chunk of a large pine tree that my husband brought home from the county yard waste site last year. The wood was very green, and quite wet, so I kept it in the garage for months to dry it out, turning it occasionally. It picked up some dirt during that time, and lost over twenty pounds of weight, maybe as many as forty--I weighed it early on, and then later, but I don't remember the exact numbers.

Eventually I brought it in, and debarked it in the kitchen. There was some mold growing under the bark, so it had to come off.

The stump found a home in our living room/indoor parkour course. I counted the rings; the tree was sixty years old when it was cut down, and more than two feet in diameter.

Anyway, I mixed some paint to approximate a color that would fit into the decor, and painted the sides, just wiping the paint on with scrap fabric. I very soon had several eager helpers.

The color came out a bit bright for the room, so I plan on wiping on another coat at some point.


A child wanted to learn to make angel food cake, after a lady from church brought us one. I had never made a foam cake, but our efforts were successful.


Our resident papier-mache artist is thinking ahead to Halloween, and has made a good start on armatures (support structures for the papier mache) for upper and lower skeleton jaws, made out of milk jugs and tape.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Putting things together again

No curfew in Minneapolis or St. Paul last night, only continuing violent crimes.

Coronavirus numbers in tests, hospitalizations, and deaths in Minnesota have held quite steady since mid-June. I suppose an uptick should be expected in early fall, once school and other fall activities get going a bit. Summer is very much the off season for most organized social activities around here, because the people who do the organizing go out of town to their families' cabins.

I made progress on many things last week.  I mended more clothing, and some knitted dishcloths, and a mitten. I aligned the reel mower. I moved two bags of toys out of the living room, back down to the basement where they belong. I established a better workflow for a refinishing project that I am working on, and am finally making progress on it. I found my what-to-do-next cards, which I had completely forgotten about, and am getting back into a routine. I am also easing into exercising with hand weights again.

I've been gradually moving some pieces of decor around, trying things in different places.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Minneapolis again

Riots and looting in Minneapolis yesterday, seems to have been mostly in the Nicollet Mall area, right in the middle of downtown.

Governor Walz was more on the ball this time; a curfew for Minneapolis was declared, and dozens of people were arrested--one account said 132.

Tonight both Minneapolis and St. Paul have curfews.  From TCCrimeWatch on Twitter, it seems like things are lively in Minneapolis tonight, in terms of more scattered criminal activity than usual. There are National Guardsmen posted downtown.

Monday, August 24, 2020