December 2006

Monthly Archive

IKEA - Swedish for “Why the F$&K don’t these holes line up?”

Posted by Office-Bob on 24 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: General Craziness, Rants

I had been thinking about replacing my current desk with a new one because, while the desk is nice, it’s no longer big enough to hold everything as evidenced by this “before” picture:

I’d been hearing good things about the “Jerker” desk from IKEA but I kept putting off making a decision until I heard rumours that it was being discontinued; I stopped at the local IKEA to see if perhaps it was on sale and, lo and behold, it was - $50 off the regular price.

That made up my mind; I decided to treat myself to an early Christmas present and picked up the desk, two swing-arm shelf units, a 2-drawer file cabinet and the top shelf extension. The final price was about $90 less than the original price, so I did okay and fortunately the boxes were small enough (although damned heavy) to fit in the station wagon.

Because I hadn’t made up my mind to buy the desk when I went to IKEA I hadn’t yet taken my old desk apart; it’s one of those pressboard, DIY desks that are hard enough to assemble with instructions but even harder to take apart without them. After dismembering my computer system (including CPU, LCD display, DSL modem, router, 2 external drives, printer, scanner and speakers) and moving the equipment out of my office, I then spent about an hour trying to figure out how everything came apart…in the end, everything except the hutch was completely disassembled (since I couldn’t see why the hutch wasn’t coming apart, I decided to leave it alone rather than risk breaking it).

For the most part the Jerker instructions were easy to understand, and I was fortunate that the only missing piece was a small plastic end cap that goes on one of the supporting crosspieces (I left the caps off the end that was facing the wall, so it wasn’t really an issue); the problem came when I started to install the extra top shelf.

As you’ll see later it’s attached by placing two “joiners” on the top, one on each end, that are secured by nuts and bolts to the top and bottom of the uprights - however, when I went to screw in the bolts on the far (wall) side, it became obvious that there was an alignment problem and that the nuts weren’t matching up with the bolts.

What to do - go back to IKEA during the Christmas madness with a heavy upright and wait in line to try and get a replacement? Hell, no…let’s break out the drill and make the holes a little bigger!

That done, everything went into place and screwed in tightly…mission accomplished! Here’s what the finished desk looks like:

There’s still some organization and cable cleanup that needs to happen but before that, I need to toss out all the cardboard and plastic that the desk pieces were packed in. I took back one of the two swing-arm units because I didn’t think I needed it - I’m not sure I really need any, but I thought I should keep one just in case I find a use for it - if nothing else, it’ll give me a place to put my coffee cup and keep it off of my workspace. The drawer piece is supposed to bolt onto the underside of the desk but there aren’t any holes; it’s possible that I installed the crosspieces upside down and the holes are 180 degrees from where they should be, but I’ll look into that later.

The end result is that my desk is more organized (despite the pictures) and I have more work area, so I’m happy.

Oh, and the missing end cap? I picked one up when I took the extra shelf unit back to IKEA for credit…and since I’m currently enjoying the goodwill and happiness of the holiday season, I didn’t bother complaining about the misaligned holes.

Popularity: 33% [?]

PSA - do NOT do business with the Spudgun Technology Center (UPDATED 1/9/07)

Posted by Office-Bob on 19 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: Rants, FX

One of the many devices used in special effects is something called an air cannon - it consists of a storage tank with a quick-release “dump valve” that allows the pressurized air in the tank to be released all at once, which will push dirt and debris (or whatever you load into the hopper) into the air; these are often used to simulate or sweeten explosions to make them seem bigger than they really are.

While an air cannon is not something I’d normally worry about having - movie supply houses have them available for rent and the larger companies already own them - I found a company that offered a small version at a reasonable price - the Spudgun Technology Centre. This place has been in business for years and has been profiled in various media, so I didn’t have a problem placing the order and paying for materials in advance (I usually operate this way myself, so the financial situation didn’t seem out of the ordinary).

I placed the order in April; and was told to expect a 4-6 week delay.

My Amex was charged in May.

The first problem arose when I forgot that I’d placed an order; by the time I remembered it was already August.

I sent an e-mail on 8/28 asking about the status of my order; no response.

I left a voicemail on 9/6; no response…I didn’t want to keep calling because his tollfree number isn’t accessible from Canada and I didn’t feel like paying long distance charges for no good reason, so I left it for a little while.

I finally got in touch with Joel on 11/9 by phone; he apologized for the delay but said he was waiting on one piece to be painted and then he’d be assembling and shipping my order.

After that, nothing - no update to my order status on his website, zip, zilch, nada. E-mails sent on 12/13, 12/16 and 12/17 have received no response and neither has a phone message I left on the 19th…the next step is to call Amex and see if, by some miracle, I can request a chargeback for the $300 USD I’ve wasted on this fiasco - but I doubt I’ll have any luck.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that a large part of the problem is because of my losing track of time and not following up earlier, but part of that is because I’m too trusting - and failing to respond to customer queries is not good business practice regardless of any other factors.

I’m willing to publicly relate my folly to you, dear readers, because I want to ensure that others do not fall into the same trap I did of trusting Joel D. Suprise of Appleton, WI with their money.

Caveat Emptor, indeed.
Continue Reading »

Popularity: 43% [?]

What the hell do they put IN this stuff? (munch munch)

Posted by Office-Bob on 02 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: General Craziness

Like every good pet owner, I try to take care of my pet; this includes giving him the occasional treat.

In my case, I’m owned by a rabbit named Antoine* and his treat of choice is an item called Kaytee Healthy Bits.

Remember, Kids, Say No to Crack!

Now, while I understand that a treat by its very nature is something that you really like but don’t get very often (or at least, you should enjoy it in moderation) I am at a loss to explain just how much Antoine likes this stuff.

He really likes it.

He likes it as in, “I would KILL YOUR MOTHER to get more of this stuff.”

Around the house, we call it “Bunny Crack.”

I’ve owned rabbits in the past, and each one has had a “sweet tooth” for something different - remind me sometime to tell you the story about how Toby sent me to the ER to get stitches because I sucked on a cough drop - but I’ve never seen a pet go bugfuck for something like Antoine does when he knows he’s going to be getting a piece (or two) of this…hell, he starts to get excited when he hears the crinkle of the plastic bag!

There is one problem with this product, which is that it’s not carried in any local pet store - if I want to buy it I have to go to PetSmart, and the closest store is located about 30 minutes away. I thought I’d found a loophole in the fact that PetSmart has online shopping but alas, this was not to be - all orders are shipped from the US and while PetSmart can bring the stuff in, import restrictions don’t allow private citizens to do so.

After seeing how much Antoine loves the stuff, though, I’m thinking this “import restriction” is really in place to ensure that PetSmart keeps making money from it…and I’d bet that Canada Customs gets a kickback to keep it in place.

I thought dogs were masters of begging for treats but I feel that since bunnies have a slight edge over them in the “cute fuzzy creature” department, dogs are now relegated to second-tier suckup status.

I know I’m an enabler, but I ask you…how could I possibly say “No” to this guy?

Oh well, as addictions go I guess it could be worse; at least I’ve never heard of rabbits sucking dick for crack money…

…and if you have, I DON’T WANT TO KNOW.

*Full name, “Louisiana Back Bay Bayou Bunny Bordelais a la Antoine.” Once again, my cartoon trivia raises its geeky head…

Popularity: 23% [?]

‘Tis the season for drinking, smoking, and leafing around

Posted by Office-Bob on 01 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: General Craziness, FX

This week has been very interesting.

It started with my having a craving for a hot buttered rum, which meant that I either had to buy pre-made batter (a dicey proposition at best) or make my own. I did a bit of Googling and found a recipe similar to the one my parents use (after all, where else should one learn the finer points of alcohol consumption than from ones parents?) that allowed me to easily scale the amount of batter made.

I picked up the ingredients, waited for the butter and ice cream to soften and tossed everything in the food processor and once it was mixed, I transfered the oh-so-decadent goodness into a suitable container which then went into the freezer, waiting for later in the evening when I would enjoy the results of my labours…

…then I got a call from dispatch asking if I was available for an ASAP call to work on a movie.

Fortunately the roads were mostly clear from the dump of snow we’d recently received so I was able to make it into North Vancouver with no trouble; received call at 4 pm on the 28th, on set by 5 pm, wrapped at 2:30 am on the 29th, got home by 3 am, in bed by 4 am…

…up at 6 am (got up with the wife even though she’d set the oven timer - don’t ask), had some errands to run (getting my car back from the body shop, haircut) and by the time I got back from that there wasn’t enough time for a nap before I had to head back to set: 1:30 pm call, wrapped at 4:30 on the morning of the 30th (!), home by 6 am…*

…however, during the night we’d received another dump of snow; while it wasn’t as big as the first it was still going to cause problems because that late at night there aren’t a lot of plows hitting side roads - hell, in this neck of the woods we get major snow dumps so rarely that there aren’t a lot of plows, period.

My life wasn’t helped by the fact that while cleaning about 4 inches of snow off my car to prepare to head home, I managed to break off one of my wiper blades - and, of course, it had to be on the driver’s side.

I am not without the occasional flash of inspiration, however, so I grabbed a roll of electrical tape from my tool belt and taped the blade housing onto the arm where it was supposed to be. That did the trick, and I was able to get home without any further trouble.

Okay, without any further trouble with the wipers.

Without going into too much detail, the last leg of my trip home involves going up a couple of hills - they’re not the steepest things in the world but when you consider that they were unplowed, and that accessing both of them requires making fairly sharp turns, there was a good chance I’d be abandoning the car and hoofing the last part of the way home after spending over 12 hours on my feet…not a fun thought.

The first hill challenge was minimized by driving past the turnoff and coming at it from the other direction - this changed the sharp right turn to be taken after slowing down (losing momentum) to a gentle left turn (giving me a bit of a run before I hit the slope). It was slippery and I almost didn’t make it, but I did get to the second turn, a medium-sharp left, which wasn’t as much trouble because it wasn’t as steep. If I’d thought that turn would have been a problem I could have continued up the hill a little further, turned around, come back the other way and used gravity to help me turn the corner.

Since there wasn’t any work for me on the 30th I was able to start catching up on my sleep (90 min. nap in the morning, another 4 hours in the afternoon, my regular 6 hours at night) so now I’m in pretty good shape - considering that I’m an old fart who does lurve his naptime.

The best thing about last night was that I was finally able, at long last, to have a hot buttered rum…so I have decided that from now on, November 30th will be the official start of the Hot Buttered Rum Season.

I tossed back the first two drinks of the season, and so far the season is looking very good.

* I suppose it might be nice to let you know what I was doing on set…we were running smoke for atmosphere which required up to 4 smoke machines, 4 fans - 1 HUGE, 1 Large, and 2 small - and also doing falling leaves which meant that someone, occasionally me, would grab a double-handful of leaves and release them in the airflow of the large fan, causing them to fly into the air and fall into frame. We also had someone up in the catwalk about the rock quarry set dropping them from above. Ain’t moviemaking glamourous?

Popularity: 32% [?]