Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bad News and Good News

There's bad news and there's good news. The bad news: I got laid off today. Time to update my resume. Need someone to work on high-performance, high-scale Internet routers or digital video delivery systems? Need someone to work on real-time MPEG-2 and AVC video splicing and stream control? Need someone to work on embedded real-time systems? Data plane? Control plane? I can do that. Got some other kind of system? I'm versatile. I can do that.

The good news: now I have more time to develop my woodworking skills and do some non-blog writing. I can probably finally get the garage and basement cleaned up, too.

Given the current crazy economy, this may just be an unplanned vacation, or it may turn into a whole new career path as long as I have a place to maintain a workshop. Opportunity is as much what you make as what you take.

I'll be posting here more frequently for the duration, since I have a backlog of things I've been wanting to work on. I'll also add some e-commerce features that I've been thinking about, though I'll continue to keep the ads to a minimum, since I like a clean, uncluttered site.

I received my brochure for the Littleton Parks, Recreation, and Community Education Winter 2011 session in the mail today. It's not online yet, but will be available at http://www.littletonrec.com, listing my Introduction to Hand Tool Woodworking and Hand Tool Woodworking, Part 2 classes.

Since the part 2 class focuses on joinery, I came up with this adaptation to my portable work surface for holding workpieces upright after watching Bob Razaieski's video on workbench workholding. He added a twin-screw vise to the front of his bench, similar to Moxon's removable twin-screw.

A simple T-track version of a twin-screw face vise. This holds the piece securely for dovetailing, tenoning, or resawing. The movable crochets do a similar job, but this can apply better clamping pressure for small pieces. If necessary, I can drill holes for the T-bolts closer together.

The final classes of the Fall session went well. Here are some photos of chisel night, showing what every instructor likes to see: heads down, busily at work.

Keri rolling out the waste from a dado with a chisel held bevel-down. This was everybody's favorite operation.

I've known Keri's husband, Bob, for nearly 15 years. He taught me many of my outdoor skills, rock and ice climbing, winter backpacking, light mountaineering (New England mountains, not K2!).

Keri had signed up for a power tool woodworking night class over a year ago, but it was canceled due to insufficient enrollment. I had been focusing on my hand tool skills for a while, so that gave me the idea to do a basic hand tool class. Thanks for the inspiration, Keri! I was very happy that I could do some skills exchange after everything I had learned from Bob.

Rob (no, not Keri's husband Bob) working backwards along a rabbet with a chisel tucked up against his right shoulder, again bevel-down. This method gives both power and control. The upper body mass provides the power, the hand on the blade provides the control.

From left, Erik forming a fillister on the end of a board with a moving fillister plane, Rob cleaning out a dado, and Lance marking a dado for shoulder cuts.

Finally, speaking of outdoor skills, indulge me in a few proud fatherly moments with my daughter, Shelby. Nothing to do with woodworking.

She was an infant when I met Bob. Now she's doing these activities with us. Last week she asked when we could go snow camping and spend the night in a hollowed-out snowcave. Brings a tear to my eye!

Shelby on her first ever rappel. Bob's on tug belay below for safety. There's that magic moment as you lean out over the edge and your center of mass crosses the vertical plane of the cliff face. Your brain screams THIS JUST AIN'T RIGHT!

Here she's doing an Australian rappel at the same spot. This is a surreptitious entry method used by SWAT teams, MP5's in hand. Her harness is reversed, with the figure-8 in back and brake hand in front; Bob ran a separate top belay safety line for this one. This takes a lot of nerve, because she's facing down a 40' cliff the whole way. I don't think we need to worry about her suffering from acrophobia.

Shelby top-roping on a frozen waterfall near the MA/NH state line (not too far from the Merchant of Ashby).

Now that's what I call quality father-daughter time!


  1. Steve, so sorry to hear about your situation. There's lots of that going around these days. I wish you luck in finding a new job that you really like.
    You may remember helping me over a writer's hump a few weeks back. At a time when I was down you were an inspiration for me to continue with blogging instead of quiting. I've sorted myself and started getting my mind back in the game. You will see new original postings from me in the future.
    Perhaps I can return the favor one day. It sounds like you are okay at the moment so try not to become disheartened while you go through this period of your life. Don't give up your woodworking, you have some great stuff to share with others. I'm loving your T-track clamping system.
    - Carl

  2. If you are willing to share a resume, we are hiring for a position using your experience in Chelmsford.

  3. Thank you so much for your kind words, Carl. I look forward to seeing them.

    Dpmohne, email sent via your profile contact.

  4. Steve, that sucks...or does it? I was writing the same blog post the week before Thanksgiving and sure enough a much better door opened for me just a few weeks later. The time off was great to get caught up on some things and re-prioritize my life a bit. I can only hope that the same applies for you. I'm a firm believer that good people can find work regardless of the economy.

    Thanks for sharing the climbing pics, that takes me back to my own vicarious ice axe and chalk bag days.

  5. Thanks, Shannon, I remember reading that. You had already gotten the new position by the time I read it, so that was good to see.

  6. Sorry to hear you got dumped. I lost my hi tech job almost 5 years ago and was unemployed for two years. Got to do a ton of woodworking and improved my skill level there a couple of notches. Finally took a job working for the government making about a 1/3 of what I did before. I am home more now and that means more time in the shop. I sincerely wish you the best in getting another job. Just don't get discouraged if you don't get a job immediately.
    the accidental woodworker

  7. Steve,
    I am really sorry to hear you got laid off. Been there recently, and it aint no fun. I hope that your silver lining turns golden, and that this opens a new & better door for you. (Terribly mixed metaphor, I know. Resembles my cooking.)

    If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. I really enjoyed the class this fall, and am glad you are continuing the class this winter.



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