Monthly Archives: May 2006

Goodbye and Good Luck

Mom moved to New Jersey yesterday.

Actually, I suppose she moved back to New Jersey, since she’d moved from New Jersey to Virginia in January 1979. And she stayed there while everybody else left: Main went back to NJ that summer, Rob moved to Atlanta in 1981 (but came back to VA in 1993), Dad moved to Minnesota in 1982 (but came back in 1992, I think it was), and I moved to MN in 82 but came back and move to GA in 95 but came back and now live in DC.

But anyway, Mom was waiting waiting for the closing on her house, but everything was out of the house except for some couch cushions on the floor on which she was sleeping. Her car was packed full of stuff, so she couldn’t like drive anywhere, like go shopping or anything, so she was just stuck there in the house waiting for closing. Finally she just signed her side of the settlement papers at the realtor’s house and left. The woman buying the house will sign when she signs, I guess.

Mom will be staying with Main and John and Erin until her house is ready in Florida. They’re still building it, seems like. She’ll move down there sometime this summer. I’ve never been to Florida, actually. Never been to the Land of the Mouse, which is where she’ll be near. I have no interest in the Land of the Mouse, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the Kennedy Space Center. They have a Saturn V there. Cool.

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower

A January gale was roaring up the Channel, blustering loudly, and bearing on its bosom rain squalls whose big drops rattled loudly on the tarpaulin clothing of those among the officers and men whose duties kept them on deck.

So begins the many and various adventures of one Horatio Hornblower. I just finished this Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, the first book chronologically in the Hornblower saga. Forester’s first Hornblower book written and published was a novel in 1937 called The Happy Return, where Horatio is already captain of the frigate HMS Lydia. This Midshipman book is a collection of short stories, copyrighted 1948 through 1950, so I assume they were published in one or more magazines in those years. My particular copy is a first edition hardback from Little Brown in 1950, totally beat up and falling apart now, that I borrowed from the DC Library. In it, of course, Horatio begins his career as a midshipman.

We’ve been watching the British TV series with Ioan Griffud as Horatio. He’s pretty hot. He allegedly has been in other stuff, like Black Hawk Down and The Fantastic Four, so you may know him, but we haven’t see any of those. We have seen him as Bosinney in The Forsyte Saga.

There are three series, as they call them in the UK, of videos, and the first series pretty much follows the adventures in this book, with various major and minor changes. The first episode, The Duel (in the US, original UK title was The Even Chance), seems to be a mash of the first three stories in the book, “Hornblower and the Even Chance,” “Hornblower and the Cargo of Rice,” and “Hornblower and the Penalty of Failure.” The Fire Ships (UK title The Examination for Lieutenant), the second episode, mixes “Hornblower and the Examination for Lieutenant” and “Hornblower and Noah’s Ark.” Episode three is The Duchess and the Devil, with the same UK title and from the story of the same name. Finally, the fourth episode is called The Wrong War, with the original UK title and the original story being The Frogs and the Lobsters and “Hornblower, the Frogs, and the Lobsters,” respectively.

The next two series may cover material from other books, but I don’t exactly know yet. Up next for me to read is Lieutenant Hornblower, so I’ll let you know. A commenter on IMDB claims that the last two episodes of the third series, Loyalty and Duty, are loosely based on the novel Hornblower and the Hotspur. We’ve still got that last episode Duty to watch, where Horatio is captain of the Hotspur, and he’s about to marry Julia Sawalha, who is way cute. I used to get her confused with Saffron Burrows, although they look nothing alike, but Julia Sawalha played a character named Saffron on Ab Fab, so maybe that’s why. Dawn seems to very much dislike this chick whom Horatio is marrying, but I think it’s just because Dawn’s jealous of her.

The other star of the series is Robert Lindsay as Sir Edward Pellew. He’s gruff and professional in all the right ways, but apparently Robert Lindsay is a big star for his singin’ and dancin’ and comedy skills. Other favorites have shown up in guest roles, like Samuel West, whom I used to get confused with Rupert Graves. (Apparently I get lots of actors confused: Sterling Hayden and Robert Ryan, Julia Sawalha and Saffron Burrows, Samuel West and Rupert Graves, etc.) And in another episode is Denis Lawson, who’s also in one of my all-time favorite movies Local Hero, although he’s more famous for his appearances as the character Wedge in the first three Star Wars movies, as well as for being Ewan McGregor’s uncle.

I’m happy to be reading something again other than woodworking stuff. I started out the year well, reading Elie Wiesel, with the idea that maybe I could swing at least a book a month. (Long gone are the days when I could do a book a week.) But depending on how you count, I’ve finished by now five books, or only three. The three Wiesel books were all published separately, but I read them in a collection in one volume, so we could count that as either three or just one. But heck, I’m going to be generous and count it as three. Then there was the Flannery O’Connor. Hmm, now that I think about it, all of what I’ve read this year has been collections of things, either three books in one or short story collections. Wonder if that means anything. Probably not.

And anyway up next is a proper novel, Lieutenant Hornblower. Oh, from the little recaplet in Wikipedia, sounds like this is where the material for the second series, the two episodes Mutiny and Retribution, comes from, where Horatio is on HMS Renown with nutty Captain Sawyer. And where he meet Lieutenant Bush. The DC Library’s online catalog CityCat says that the MLK branch has four copies. Gotta go grab one.

Ryobi BTS20R

So I think I’m about set to trade up in table saws.

One of the first things I did when starting out with the woodworking thing was get a saw. I read on the This Old House website that Norm’s advice was to get the best table saw that you can afford as the first thing you had to do. So I went surfing for table saws and quickly found that they’re all pretty much way out of my price range. So I put the Delta TS200, at about a hundred bucks, on my Christmas list, hoping my Dad would buy it for me, and he did. I figured that was all the saw I was ever going to have, so I’d make do.

But since then I’ve gained an appreciation for what I can and can’t do with the Delta saw, and I think I need something better. So I’m stepping up all of one notch to the Ryobi BTS20R. Or I’m thinking and hoping to step up, but, after discussions with Dawn, I think it’s going to happen, as some sort of birthday present in June.

The BTS20R is $200 at Home Depot. You can look at that as twice the price of the Delta. Or you can figure it’s $2,200 less than the Powermatic 66. Your choice.

More accurately I suppose we should compare it to the Bosch 4000-09. The tool test for portable saws in Fine Homebuilding in July 2005 rated the Bosch the best of the bunch (Editor’s Choice), and it was the Readers’ Choice as well. But it’s $550, folks, way way out of my price range. The Ryobi was the Best Buy. Of it they said: “This saw has it all: power, portability, good peripheral equipment, great onboard storage, and an excellent price.” The one downside that they noted was that the side-support wing is tightened with knobs rather than a lever, something they said was inconvenient. But it’s hardly a deal breaker.

But in comparing it to the Delta that I have now, there are a load of differences. The Ryobi motor is 15 amps, versus the Delta at 13 amps, and will cut to a depth of 3.625 inches, versus the Delta’s 3 inches. The Ryobi is twice the weight of the Delta but comes in a collapsible stand with wheels, so it’s bigger yet more portable and will save precious shop space. Getting even more important is the rip capacity with that side-support wing, giving me 27 inches to the right versus Delta’s 9.5 inches (or 17.5 with the extension that I’ve got on it). Even better is the Ryobi’s built-in outfeed support that the Delta simply doesn’t have. And the Ryobi’s dust collection port that the Delta lacks as well — right now I have a cardboard box sitting under the Delta to catch sawdust, but it doesn’t catch much.

But the most critical items that the Ryobi has are a standard throat plate and standard 3/8″ x 3/4″ miter gauge slots. The Delta is simply more dangerous when cutting small or thin pieces that fall through the throat, and I can’t use aftermarket accessories like locking featherboards because they won’t fit into the Delta’s smaller, non-standard slots. And I have to just take out the Delta’s throat plate and go commando when using the dado set, whereas Ryobi offers an actual dado insert as an accessory. And the Delta miter gauge broke but I can’t replace it with an aftermarket gauge, so I’ve just forcibly screwed it back together. The Ryobi miter gauge looks and feels beefier and better, but I could replace it with an Incra V27 if I want. Or at the very least, it looks like the Ryobi miter gauge will more readily take an auxillary fence; the Delta doesn’t have holes all the way through to screw a fence through, so I’ve had to use little nuts and bolts that fit inside the damn thing.

And I can’t use a tenoning jig with the Delta, if I decide to get something like that, or the nifty-looking Leichtung Universal Table Saw Jig that seems to be both a tenoning jig and a kind of sliding crosscut sled for under sixty bucks. Not with those miter gauge slots that I’ve got now. But, honestly, it’s not like I’m going to be doing production work making Arts & Crafts furniture or anything like that, so I don’t know if I really need that kind of tenon making capability.

But the throat plate and miter gauge are a big deal. I would just feel safer and better with standard. And the fold-down portability is pretty cool too. That’ll save space. And I’m thinking that I could hold a router table insert in the gap between the table and the extension wing, with the insert resting on the two extension rails, and as long as it’s flush with the top and wing I could make use of the saw’s fence, so then I can get rid of the little video cabinet that I’ve been trying to turn into a router table-y type deal. That’ll save more shop space.

So, safety and space, what better reasons can there be?

We’ll see if we can swing this in June. It’s not like $200 will break our budget, but it’s not pocket change for us either.

Late Update: During dinner, Dawn turns to me and asks, “So when do you want to get your saw?” So not June, but now.