May 2014

The Mind of a Seven Year Old Boy

Jay Oyster's picture

Liam on a bridge over Big Creek, in Roswell near our houseFor some reason, the whole family had weird dreams last night. I was actually shaken awake by my wife after I called out. I had never done that before. I had been having a perfectly ordinary dream that suddenly went freaky. I did finally manage to fall back to sleep, but when we all woke up this morning, we found that we all had similarly restless nights. That's probably why, when my seven year old son came into our room and mentioned that he had had a strange dream, I asked him about it and pressed for some details.

"There was a  . . . time machine," he said.

"Oh, OK. Wait, who was there? Were you the only one in your dream?" I asked.

"No," he replied. "Mommy was there, but she wasn't a mommy. And there was a really cool robot. And there were two, no three, Skylanders."

"And what happened?" I asked, intrigued.

"Well, we traveled to another world, and it was another time. And there was this step-mother, and two step-sisters, and they were trying to kill us!"

"Wow, that's really interesting." I was amused at his imagination. "So was Godzilla there?"

"I didn't think of him," he said, and thought for a second. "If I had, I'm sure he would have been there."

I told my wife this story later and she just burst out laughing. The mind of a seven year old boy is a wonderful thing.

Design Details on Armoire Doors

Jay Oyster's picture

Basic side door as originally designedNow that I've managed to complete the assembly of the main case, I can't put it off any longer. As you may have noticed from the Rev 17 armoire sketchup file, I didn't have any details entered for the construction of the front and side doors. I have to figure out the joinery and the final design elements for these four pieces before I can proceed. Here is the basic design as I had it when I began construction of the cabinet, almost 3 years ago . . .

As you can see, it is a simple mortise and tenon constructed panel door, with the only link to the rest of the design being the choice of sycamore as the primary material, and the small door handle in cherry. It seemed just a bit too plain, but I also didn't want to overwhelm the piece by putting in too much fussy detail on the sides. Then there was the other problem . . . where to place the hinges.

The hinges at the back are simple, I'll just mortise in a pair of nice bruso hinges to the rear of the door and the back edge of the back legs. Having the cylinder of the hinge sticking out the back of the piece doesn't bother me at all. I don't really want the hassle of trying to learn how to install knife hinges at this point, and clearance when the doors are open isn't really a big deal.  But on the front doors, the hinges and the clearances when the doors open is a very big deal. I realized that my original design runs the front doors all the way out the edges of the front legs. When these doors are open, if I try to open the doors past 90 degrees, the front door itself will run into the front edge of the side doors. So I had to rethink it a bit. I'm still going to keep the hinge choice simple on the front doors, so I'm going to need clearance on the sides of the front doors so the hinge barrels don't interfere with the side doors.

New design for the side doorI finally opted for two fairly small changes to the design of the side doors, but I think they help refine the overall look. First I added a vertical mullion (or munton, or "stick' is what I believe Tom Fidgen calls them on his design) to the side door. I actually added the idea because the model of the handle I pulled from the front doors already had a little slot cut for the vertical stick that exists in the front door design. Since I simply copied this handle design over to the side door in Sketchup, the handle already had this slot. So I decided to keep the slot and add a vertical stick as a design accent.

New details of the side door on the jewelry armoire

Jewelry Armoire - Built and fit last two drawers

Jay Oyster's picture

Closer view of the ten drawers fitted to the caseIt took something like four months, but I finally finished cutting all of the dovetails for the 10 drawers on this project. The pictures here show the drawers in place, not stained or anything, so the color variations of the cherry are still very apparent. I'm going to have to tear down my shop for the move next month very soon. So I don't know how much more of this project I'll get finished before I have to rebuild the whole work environment. This is quickly becoming a contender for my longest build ever. But, boy, am I glad to have the dovetails done. Overall, my dovetails are a solid journeyman's job. If I had to grade the quality of all 10 drawers right now, I'd give myself a B minus.

10 drawers dry fit and bit to the case in the Jewelry Armoire project

It's Clear - Index Funds are Becoming Too Popular

Jay Oyster's picture

I'm going to write about something that I normally never discuss . . investing. One of my favorite classes during the MBA program at the University of South Florida was a course in investing. I know . . . I thought that, too.  It was basically required. But I ended up really liking it. And I think it made me fairly smart about the current state of investing and money management in this country.  But even given that history, I will emphasize here that I am not a professional investment analyst. Taking financial advice from me is idiotic.  Still, doesn't mean I can't have an opinion or two.

The thing that got me to write about his is a recent opinion piece I saw on Forbes' online site by a contributor named Brian Portnoy. Portnoy's overall approach seems to be one of those new 'trendy' catch phrases of the moment, "Simplicity."  Although the argument in the piece is couched in moderating reasonableness. The title is not. It's called "Buffet's Bad Advice".  The point of the article is basically, 'Yeah, I argue that simplicity is great and all, but this recent craze pushing everyone to invest in indexed stock funds is just crazy talk, especially if you've manage to convince the Oracle of Omaha.'

I bought the argument supporting index funds about 10 years ago. And although I understand that nothing is simple when it comes to investing, the basic truth of it is there for everyone to see. Advisors say 'diversify'. But then they immediately say, 'give me your money and I'll manage it with my portfolio of stock picks, charging you only a minimal fee'. But managed funds have fees in the 2 to 5% per year range. So for it to be worth it, they damned well better earn from 2 to 5% MORE than the overall market. You're paying them to improve your results. They almost never do it. And its been proven that no one seems to be able to do it over the long haul. But here's the kicker. . . if you invest in a fund that just dumps money in ALL of the stocks in the market, you essentially get the overall return of the market. So for an S&P500 index fund, you're buying into 500 stocks at once . . . pretty diverse, and because they aren't doing tons of analysis to find the hot stocks, their fees are much lower, usually in the 0.1 to 0.3% range.