Sippican Cottage

Close this search box.


There’s a little glacier next to my house. The exhaust from the pellet stove is just enough to melt the icicles above it, and they drip and freeze immediately. It’s about two feet thick, and I know I’ll be looking at it at Easter.

Big things have small beginnings. Drip.

My Interfriend Glynn says he’s going to retire: On Being a Writer: Downsizing the Workload
I’d be willing to retire, but I think you have to have a job first.

My Interfriend Casey Klahn is out of control: The Whole Picture
A person I like and respect asked me how I approach writing. I said I simply worked myself into whatever mood I wanted and wrote it down. Casey seems to be in a bold mood. 

Look what the winter was like for John of the River: Snow and Rain Tomorrow, Clear the Roof 
I live near Mount Washington, and I’m impressed.

My Interfriend Gagdad Bob understands the mystical nature of Kipling Ronald Dynamite: I Dream of Gagdad, Gagdad Dreams of Madonna
I like Madonna. She’s managed to stay completely out of my line of sight and hearing for her entire career, which I can only ascribe to good manners on her part.

Leonard Nimoy appears to have died. Mr. Spock never will, I imagine.
Star Trek, like Star Wars, was cheesy. People get very angry if you tell them that. Few people will admit that a thing they like a lot is trivial. Mr. Spock is one of their gods.

Things are getting a little weird with ski lift tickets: Ski Resorts Experiment With Dynamic Pricing
The only economist worth knowing about is Cournot, and you don’t.

Time for some holy cow: The Rockies

Holy cow.

The Man Who Was Thursday

Or, in my case, The Man Who Was Thirsty. I’m busy doing stuff and junk. Hmm. I never realized I had a GoodReads page. I don’t get out enough, I guess.

I’m tired of writing achingly brilliant things that nobody reads, so I decided to post mildly interesting things, because reasons. Intertunnel reasons. The Intertunnel is like the telephone game except everyone’s hard of hearing and has Tourette’s Syndrome. Me, I try to stay around the edges and laugh, like a food fight in the cafeteria. Here’s a list of (not entirely unwonderful) wonderful things for you to peruse. You can like any one you like, but please: No wagering.

S.Weasel has discovered the greatest website in the world if you get tired of Lingscars is magnifique. 
If the Internet was a rodeo clown with delirium tremens, it would be Lings Cars

I’ve been listening to a ten-hour version of The Girl From Ipanema
Finally some funny YouTube comments: “I liked the part about the girl from Ipanema.”

Gerard’s list of journalistic cliches
It insists upon itself.

Here’s a series of maps of crime by state from Business Insider
Please note Maine. No one tries pulling any shite while I’m in the state.

Here’s a list of all the Alt codes for pretty much every symbol you want to type.
Note: Alt codes have nothing to do with Gender Studies.

Students at McGill University can’t compute the average of a few even numbers.
They’re not just in college. They’re in college to become teachers.

Car surrounded by deer in Eastport, Maine.
People think this is lovely, but unless I’m very wrong, the deer are hanging around people because they’re starving.That’s the only reason I hang around people.

This is the greatest board game ever devised. That’s why you can’t buy one.

Well, sorta can’t. You could if you had money, but it’s solitaire for us. One of the Best Jobs in the World
My Interfriend the Execupundit has a sunny outlook on life. It’s almost depressing for an Irishman to read it.

My Interfriend Thud in Liverpool builds wondrous stuff. Going Green.
I thought everything beautiful and useful was banished from the world forevermore. Thud proves me wrong by building things and having children.

Harriett reads and comments here, and I think of her as something akin to my target audience. This is the most moving tribute to an ordinary person I’ve ever read.

I’d rather someone asked why they didn’t put up a statue to me, than why they did. 

Ode to a Drywalled Hellhole

Ode to a Drywalled Hellhole

by: Wes Montgomery Burns

Though you should build a breakfast bar in divorced men’s homes,
Install a concrete counter made precast,
Stitch estimates together for the sale, with loans
To fill it out, inkstained and aghast;
Although your profit be a bill of sale,
Long overdue, yet still hard with agony,
Your mortgage large uprootings from the skull
Of bald Bernanke; certes she would fail
To find her checkbook, unless she
Dreameth in aisles of DSW in the mall.

Hip Hip

I used to play this song for money. It was popular just then, or maybe it was a year or so after it was popular. We were like musical vampires, always playing somebody else’s favorite song. I got my amusements where I could find them. Some of the songs were more fun to play than others. This was one of those pleasant accidents where people liked something you didn’t dread on the setlist. It was certain death to play a song simply because you liked playing it. You are not the audience, and the audience can’t be expected to amuse you.

It’s an example of if you don’t get what you like, you better like what you get. I used to sing the little tag line at the end of this song, way up high, and it was fun for me. I was always the worst singer in the band, no matter how many people shuffled through it, but for one little minute I sang a happy little phrase that stood out that made people happy to hear it.

We’ll never feel bad anymore is not a happy thing to sing. It sounds happy but it isn’t. It made me happy to sing it because I wasn’t. Is there more than a wistful litote to sing in this life? I don’t know. Hip Hip.

[Update: Thud from Over the Water in Liverpool put the boys on his blog. Next stop, the Cavern Club!]

Will Play Guitar For Food

Of course, ultimately we all hold up our own personal signs that read: WILL _______FOR FOOD. We stand at the end of the ramp on the highway overpass of life with our bags of oranges or our Bachelor of Arts and peddle, peddle, peddle.

The way the world lets you peddle is way, way different now. Some people embrace the new way wisely, and they’re well-suited to it. Tim Pierce, the pleasant fellow in the video, seems to have rolled out his video instructional channel as a vision of the whole thing right away. He’s gotten tens of thousands of subscribers to his channel right quick, and for good reason. He has the only two things that matter on the Intertunnel. He can demonstrate (understatement warning) some form of  ability, and he also has evidence of what I call the magic beans: he made money at it already.

People will listen to you if you can convince them you have the magic beans, even if you’re useless. People will pay attention to you in a more desultory fashion if you have a demonstrated ability. If you have both, they’re an unbeatable combination.

Tim Pierce was kind to my Heir once. I’m not sure he’ll ever need to move a body, but I’ll take the feet if it ever comes up.

The Past Is Foreign Country. They Do Things Differently There

You do not want to go to 1971.

Idi Amin just got elected on the fava beans and Chianti ticket. Sixty-six people were killed by a staircase in Glasgow. Rolls Royce went bankrupt but OPEC didn’t. South Vietnam invaded Laos because they didn’t have anything to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Fifty tornadoes killed 74 people minding their own business in Mississippi, because the tornado industry was unionized and featherbedded back then. The United Nations declared the first Earth Day because the Earth needed an agent, I guess. The Khmer Rouge started getting frisky in Phnom Penh.There was some unpleasantness in Attica State Prison. The Montreux Casino burned down during a Frank Zappa concert, prompting Deep Purple to write Smoke on the Water. Audie Murphy died and Kid Rock was born. Richard Nixon imposed a 90-day freeze on wages, which has somehow lasted until today for me.

Knowing all this, Ike Turner’s hairstyle makes perfect sense.

Paperback Writer, All Shipshape and Bristol Fashion

The Moon Loungers are listed on these here Intertunnels as the “Finest wedding band in Bristol and the South West.” It doesn’t specify the southwest of what, exactly.

Playing at weddings is a tough gig. I’ve done it. I remember, distinctly, one wedding job in Newport, Rhode Island. It was held on the second floor of a converted building on a pier over the ocean. The groom and the best man were musicians, and they played as a duo around Newport at many of the same places we did. I still have a few happy bruises on my person from Salve Regina night down there.

There are always early indications of how any wedding job is going to go. Certain cues that are invisible to a newbie but a billboard for an old hand. In this case, a woman so old that she was inside-out shambled up to us with a walker, looked at me with a glass eye and the guitar player with a milky one, and asked, “What time does the orchestra start?”

The guitar player is a carpenter, and we used to work together building things from time to time. Whenever things were going really badly — if you’d just nailed your foot to the floor; if you’d just cut through a water pipe; if you’d just fallen off a ladder; if the check bounced; if the building inspector showed up and he turned out to be a guy you beat up every day in high school; no matter what — we’d turn to each other and ask in unison, “What time does the orchestra start?”

The groom jumped out the window halfway through our second set, by the way.

The Land That Time Forgot

Apparently Saturday Night Live had a 40-year birthday party for itself. Show business folk like giving themselves praise and awards. They have the sneaking suspicion no one else would, I imagine. I didn’t watch it. The show was kinda funny 40 years ago. Since then, not so much. You can only be subversive once. After that, you’re bound to become hidebound. The last person to be truly subversive on the show was fired for it, a very long time ago. I knew him a very little.

The, ahem, paper of record didn’t even mention him when maundering on about all the dead alums, so I will. I wrote about him ten years ago. Suicide, like true subversion, is a trick you can only pull once.  Farewell, Captain Packard.

Life Is Still Accumulated Error, and Don’t Get Me Started On Sunk Costs, Either

[First offered eight years ago. Criminey. Eight]

Our internet friend Patrick down south in the Red Stick State is making a table. He’s asked a question, and it was bound to bring on the logorrhea, mostly off-topic. Here’s the question:

Now, since you’ve offered advice upon the seeking of it, how does one make all the legs on a little table come out the same size? I clamped mine together in sawing and making the dadoes and everything so they’d all be the same height and have the shelves at the same spot and everything, and one leg still came out shorter than the rest (I suspect warpage). Do I just keep sanding the others until they’re evened out?

This is interesting as all get-out. We have encountered the confounding and somewhat counterintuitive “Accumulated Error.”

There is a long and boring explanation of accumulated error regarding mathematics, science, and climate predictions. We need not trouble ourselves with that here, as we begin with our eyes glazed over from bending over the tablesaw. No need to keep basting them.

What we are referring to is well known to the man who must measure over and over again. If I measure a foot with a ruler, and make a mark, and then measure again from that mark, and then again and again, certain dreadful things begin to happen. First, after about 36 tries, I’ll be outside, and it’s snowing, and I don’t want to go there. More to the point, if I am making an error — say, the ruler is wrong — and I continue remaking that error while using my last erroneous point to start making my next mistake, things can get really bad really quick. I said “can” get bad, but that’s just an expression. They “do” get bad, and you get fired or not paid, and so forth. Your tables begin to list to port. What’s happening?

Eisenhower might be the most able executive we ever had as chief magistrate. He said: “A plan is nothing; planning is everything.” He understood accumulated error. You have to take into account the vagaries of constant changes.

Now, back to our table. It wobbles. Patrick is downcast. We must help.

First, Patrick, you’re very cheeky to just make four legs and expect them to turn out alright. A professional wouldn’t figure he’d have any sort of success doing that, and he’d make fourteen or so, hoping to get three good ones, and one that don’t look half bad in the firelight. The firelight is generally cast from a lovely blaze in your winter fireplace made from the other ten legs. But you are brave, and do the crossword in pen, and we must help you.

They are all a little different. You tried, but wood is not steel, and you are not a machinist. Your pencil marks waxed and waned, thick and thin. The angle of your head changed while you were reading the markings on your tools and measuring instruments. Hell, the humidity changed and the wood decided it wanted to be closer to the size it was when the birds were chirping in it last week. You were accumulating errors, and you can barely calculate how many ways that material and those tools and your own efforts will betray you. Wood only expands or contracts across its grain, so table legs and so forth don’t really get longer and shorter. A dry pine board 11 inches wide might gain or lose 1/8″ in width in a week, but a 12 foot long board won’t gain 1/8″ in length. Tabletops move all around. Legs don’t do much.

Don’t fret. Make the table as best you can. Make the pieces as accurately as you can manage it. Align your joints. Center the baulks of wood in the clamps so that the center of the screw is in the center of the board you’re clamping, not offset and yanking it one way or the other. Measure assembled rectangles from corner to corner diagonally, and then the opposite diagonal, and when they are the same, the thing is “square.” Do your best to not let the errors accumulate; make only one mistake at a time.

It will still wobble. Mine do.

Now take that table, if it’s small enough, and place it on the only thing you own that’s flat, which is your tablesaw’s tabletop, and wobble it. Two table legs, diagonal from one another, will not lift off the tablesaw. Leave those alone for now. Wobble the table until the other two legs are off the saw, and equalize the amount each is off the table. Use something to measure that distance between the bottom of these legs and the sawtable top. Mark that measurement on those two legs I told you to leave alone, those that WILL NOT wobble. I use a scribe, which is like a compass, to make such measurements and markings. Sand or cut to the line. Now the table will not wobble. When the table is bigger it’s much harderĀ  to find a flat surface to accommodate all four legs. Kitchen counters are generally very flat, especially if they are stone, as many are these days.Try that.

If you make a mistake cutting and measuring for the wobble, over and over, accumulated error butts in and eventually you will sand and cut your way to the top the legs, and you’ll have a nifty cutting board.

By the way, accumulated error is why climate scientists tell you it’s going to be 500 degrees centigrade next summer, or there will be sheets of ice stretching over the Florida panhandle — depending on who gives them their grant money and whether their ruler has 11-1/2″ or 12-1/2″ inches to the foot.

Month: February 2015

Find Stuff: