Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath


I switched soaps this morning.  It wasn’t a conscious decision, like that the old soap was giving me problems; I just ran out of one, and broke open a 12-pack of a different brand.  I think the new brand is some Irish Spring derivative, “cool blast” or something like that.  This is significant in that I have these strong olfactory memories of different eras based on the soaps or colognes or deodorants I used back then.  I used this Old Spice deodorant back in my first year of college, and smelling that brand and type of scent is an instant time machine to 1989.  So maybe switching to another variant of bath product will bookend a new chapter in life.  Or something.

I’ve been busy working on the next issue of Air in the Paragraph Line, and I’m making progress, but I’m moving from the phase where I don’t have enough contributions and the end is nowhere near, and the phase where I have enough writing to fill an issue, but I intensely worry that what I have doesn’t have enough pop, and nobody will buy it.  The next phase is where I have 97% of the work done, but I’m struggling with the last 3%, and the worries start to move to the “how do I tell people about this” phase.  There are some good stories in this issue – I should clarify that.  The problem is, after reading stuff 47 times during layout, it gets diluted in my head.

The other project that’s been going on is adding a new pantry to our kitchen.  First, I should clarify what I mean by pantry, as there are two meanings.  One is that a pantry is a small room with shelves where you put staples; the other is a single, full-length base cabinet where you put staples.  I’m working on the latter.  There was this 15″ gap between the edge of our counter and one of the concrete pillars that runs through our loft.  And storage space is a premium in our kitchen, because we just have these open shelves, and no actual cabinets.  It’s one of those “modern” type of layouts, which is great if you don’t actually eat at your place, and you can put decorative glassware and random objects of art on the shelves.  But when they get congested with actual functional dishware and half-opened packages of taco shells and instant soup and noodles and whatever else, it gets a little cluttered.

So my first project was to get these roll-front cabinets at Ikea, but they were only available in some oddball size, because they were supposed to sit on top of a base cabinet or a countertop.  They were too short to put just one there, and two of them would have been too tall.  Instead I went with a single 15″ wide pull-out pantry, which is 80″ tall and about three and a half feet deep, the same as the counter it would sit next to.  It’s a white, with gloss white foil front doors.  And now that it’s installed, it’s great.  The problem was getting it installed.

Ikea, for whatever reason, gets me completely unhinged.  Buying it, assembling it, installing it – I think that they should stop waterboarding at Gitmo and just have the suspected terrorists put together Ikea furniture until they snap and confess everything.  I think part of it is that Ikea has this certain category-killer fuck-you quality to their products.  I mean, you could spend less on furniture by going to Target or Wal-Mart and getting completely shit stuff that looks really bad and is just as bad to assemble, but has no sense of designer aesthetic.  Or you could spend way more by going to a more upscale place where there are no prices on anything (because if you have to ask, you can’t afford it), and nothing is practical or functional, even if it looks nice.  So at Ikea, you get the worst of both worlds.  Everything at Ikea is some kind of compromise: it’s exactly two inches too tall, or has every color but the one shade you need, or it would be great if it had four shelves instead of three, and so on.  There’s a whole community of people who hack together things from Ikea parts, but it’s bad enough assembling the stock stuff.

And assembly…  First, it took about two trips of about two hours each to get everything going.  (The first initial trip, then a second to return one part and get some handles, which I forgot.)  Then the fun started.  This thing did not have one start-to-finish set of instructions, but instead had three different sets: one for the base cabinet; one for the pull-out drawers; and one for the door.  Also, some smaller components, like the door hinges, the dampeners, and the legs, had either their own one-sheet or their instructions printed on their containing plastic bags.  So I had to sort of interpolate these instructions to figure out what steps had to be done.  The cabinet part wasn’t hard, except I got a dozen of the screws in place before I figured out I had one of the sides upside down and backward, because you have to pay attention to that crap, and I always don’t pick up some detail like that from the hieroglyphic drawings inside.  There were also no clear instructions on where the five pull-out shelves went inside the unit, and I spent forever counting holes inside, putting in the screws, and then later finding the shelves didn’t work at that level, which then meant backing out the screws and re-counting and re-inserting.

Other problems: mounting the unit to the wall was a pain in the ass, and didn’t work entirely that well, because that wall is solid concrete and not drywall.  The door itself had no holes to be mounted, and there was only reference to a mystical template that was not included as to how to drill the hole patterns.  (I found a PDF online.)  I drilled and mounted the door, only to find that the highest shelf was too high, and I had to re-mount the top shelf and re-drill the door.  I also forgot the handles, as I mentioned.  So overall, it took about seven hours last Sunday, plus maybe an hour spread out over three different nights, and now it’s done.

I am going to Vegas this week for my birthday.  I’m actually leaving on Thursday, coming back Monday.  It will be me, Bill, Tom, and Marc; everyone else wussed out.  Me and Bill are staying at the Flamingo, which will be my first time there.  No big plans yet, but we will have a car, so maybe we can wander a bit.

The Kindle is still working great, at least as far as reading goes.  I tried to convert AITPL #13 to the Kindle, and it looked horrible.  But it was just a straight dump from the Framemaker source with no reformatting at all.  I have a better strategy for the export path, but it will take some time to get it all together.

I wish I could go back to bed for six more hours.  Up until last week, I thought I had today off, because of MLK day.  At least everyone else having it off will mean an easy commute to the office (I hope.)