Monday, December 10, 2007


I've once again picked up the hobby of furniture restoration. In the past I've spruced up cheap or distressed furniture out of a need to fill empty rooms economically. In a similar way I am seeking furniture from both thrift stores and out of alleys surrounding my house. The most I've paid for a piece is $65. That's the most recent one I'm working on and it was purchased at the St. Vincent DePaul. I'm probably going to put these pieces in my Coffeehouse/Craft Brewery when it opens. The colors and era fit in with the palette and theme of the place. Here are some examples of my recent pieces.
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This was a 10 year old file cabinet that I spray painted. My original intention was to layer the stencils until it looked more like a texture than individual letters and numbers. I got too impatient and left it as is. I love it now. Life is all about happy accidents.
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I bought this at a thrift store on Gravois. It had a big gouge in the top that made it impossible to refinish naturally so I slapped some paint on it. I wanted to go a little more modern and less traditional with it. I'm now using this color palette on several pieces.
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This is a Goodwill piece I picked up for $35. It's my favorite so far. I feel like there is a lot I can do with this kind of graphic pattern on furniture.
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This one was done for my wife. She always wants to infuse more red into our decor. I fight it for some unknown reason and decided to give in as a gift to her. I went with a rich red and a high gloss lacquer to give it a Chinese look. I found this in the alley directly behind my house. I think someone moving out left it there. Thanks unknown neighbor!
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Not too easy to see in this picture, but this hi-fi system was found in a nearby alley. I stripped the finish and put a Danish oil rub on it and use it as a credenza in the dining room. It was a bitch getting the stereo guts out of it. They made the thing heavy as hell too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nathan update

I was realizing that I have some open narratives. Some topics I have started that I have not cleared up. Some issues that I have addressed, but not clarified.

One of those topics is Nate's diagnosis of the genetic disorder Ectodermal Dysplasia. It is something that is part of our daily life and there hasn't really been an "event" worth posting. The initial diagnosis threw us for a loop. We had so many questions and very few concrete answers. It was a difficult place to be.

What we may or may not have learned is that ectodermal dysplasia is an x linked genetic trait. However, there is no sign of it in Jen or her family. The insurance company will not confirm or deny whether they will pay for genetic testing so we are left in the dark. We have learned that there are spontaneous mutations. We think that this may be the case with Nate. What that may mean is that if we were to have another child that child would be extremely unlikely to have the same disorder. There are millions of other disorders and diseases out there so still plenty to worry about. We kind of feel like it would be lightning striking twice to have another child with a genetic disorder though.

Nate. Nathan. My little peanut is by far the most superior being on the planet. Ask anyone who has met him. He is the most charming 22 month old you can imagine. Probably the most noticeable difference about him is his hair. Most people think he's just really blonde. The fact is his hair lacks any color and because of a lack of oil glands it is very fine and breakable. Short is going to be the way to go for him right now. It looks really cool that way. We've seen other kids whose hair has filled in quite a bit. Maybe that'll be the case with him.

If you get up closer you'll see that he only has 2 teeth and they are pointy and right up front. Kids with his disorder tend to get teeth later. The biggest problem with not having teeth or rather never having had teeth is that the jaw bone doesn't thicken up the same way making it difficult for dental implants later. At his last dentist appointment the dentist thought he saw tooth buds so we are hopeful that his teeth are tardy and not absent.

Nathan either doesn't have or has a lack of sweat glands. It's not as noticeable until you see a sweaty little baby somewhere and realize Nathan's never been like that. The danger there is that he can't cool his body. Heat can cause raised temperatures and lead to seizures. This is the most dangerous thing we deal with regularly. August in St. Louis is especially brutal. Nate spends quite a bit of time indoors right now. Not that the rest of us don't. So far I don't think he's missing anything by spending time indoors. It may become a habit that later we need to break and encourage him to spend more time outside. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

We've got a chart of milestones that an average child should accomplish by certain ages. Nate blows all of these social and educational milestones out of the water. Things like stacking blocks and jumping and number of words in his vocabulary are history to him and still a long way off for other kids. So we feel confidant that he'll be just fine. He's brilliant and charming. What else could you ask for in an offspring?

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By the way, have I mentioned my theory that if you switch the endings of The Sopranos and Seinfeld everyone would be satisfied?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The model of humble urbanism

Friday evening I got together with some people that are involved in the same business district as my building and future business. We have some challenges ahead and wanted to get together socially to discuss things in a casual environment. We toured some buildings and visited some businesses. The weather was beautiful. It was a perfect evening for a stroll. The street was so empty that it felt a little like a movie set that was currently unoccupied. That is something we aim to change.

We ended up discussing some of the frustrating things about dealing with a large group of people. People have hidden agendas and varied histories and mental disorders. It's a real challenge when you can't predict where someone is coming from.

One thing I'd like to see is people take charge of the space in front of their building. It's more difficult than you think. It just takes one person who doesn't pick up trash or pull weeds in the sidewalk and the whole thing descends into a finger pointing screamfest. "Why should I do it if they don't!"

As I was walking to my car at 10:30 Friday night I witnessed a beautiful sight. There's a Buddhist monastery on the street. The building itself is set back from the sidewalk more than the surrounding buildings almost to say "I am a humble building". It's difficult to notice it. I've seen it before but never seen anyone come or go so I didn't know if it was active.

Friday night, after an evening of discussing the frustrations on the street, I saw a monk dressed in the yellow and orange robes planting flowers around the parking meter. The only green places on the street are these little plots of dirt or grass around the parking meters. Most of them are overgrown weed collections or hard packed dirt. They don't get any attention from the city and only a couple of business owners do anything with them.

I had seen the flowers and plants on that block before, but not given much thought as to where they came from. After watching him planting I noticed that he had planted in front of several buildings. I doubt he asked permission from the city or received planting permits or requested funds from the Alderman for plants. He just seemed to be going about his business at a time when nobody would have given him attention. It was a small urban miracle. Barely perceptible and at the same time Earth shattering.
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This photo is from last Fall. In it you can see the monestary. The yellow arrow points to the sign. The red arrow points to the plots that were planted. They are much fuller now than they were at the time of this photo.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

Updates for June 2007

Listening to: Blonde Redhead 23, Elliott Smith New Moon, Dr. Dog We All Belong and White Stripes Icky Thump
Watching: Top Chef on Bravo, The Lot on Fox, Big Love on HBO, Meet the Press on NBC
Reading: City Comforts; How to build an Urban Village by David Sucher
Wearing: A 31" waist for the first time in 20 years.
Drinking: Vanilla Coke Zero
Searching for: The perfect day/night color pallatte for my coffeehouse/microbrewery.
Anticipating: A very hot summer.
Loving: Mi Familia
Expecting: A full recovery from little Willa!

Exploratory demolition

While I'm waiting for permits and drawings and bank loans, etc. I can't help but poke around my building and see what I'm going to be dealing with. Last week I was removing a drop ceiling and decided to pull down some drywall attached to a brick wall. This wall was once an exterior wall and then an addition went up and used the exterior wall as it's eastern interior wall. Underneath I found a very well preserved advertising sign painted on the side of the building for the Mercantile Bank and Trust. It was one of the most exciting finds I've ever had.
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Thursday, May 24, 2007

blood simple

Nate has been waking up at night crying. It's unusual for him and it's difficult to guess the cause. It may be that he's lonely, or hungry, or had a bad dream. We try to let him work through it and fall back asleep on his own. One night he woke at about 5am and was crying. Hard. The crying seemed to get worse and I got out of bed, half asleep in the dark, to check on him. I could tell right away it wasn't a normal event. Even in the dark I could see a problem. I turned on the night light to see he had a bloody nose. It had bled all over. He's taken to sleeping with as many stuffed animals as will fit in his crib and every one was covered in blood. Jen came to the rescue and stopped the bleeding right away while I changed the sheets and pulled the bloody stuffy's out. We brought him into the pediatrician later that day. He's had a couple of bloody noses in the last few weeks. They were unconcerned. Everything looked pretty normal to them. They recommended we squirt his nose with saline a couple times a day. It seems to have done the trick. No bloody noses since that event.

Imagine this image but covered in blood and you'll get an idea of what the event was like.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Nathan is getting tubes in his ears on Friday. The poor little guy has had 10 ear infections in the last year. Here's a picture of him calling all his friends to let them know he'll be unavailable to hang on Friday.
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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Off We Go

I've been working on a plan for over a year now to buy and renovate a commercial building in the city. For as many reasons as there are buildings in St. Louis it just hasn't worked out yet. I can finally announce that I have found a building that: a) is in an up and coming neighborhood b) that was actually on the market and c) I have been able to negotiate a reasonable price on.
I'm very excited. I'll have many posts as the long process progresses, but for now I just want to finally be able to discuss it in public. Yay!
There are still many hurdles, and it may not happen the way I am currently envisioning it, but it has the best chance of working of any project I've been trying to make happen to date. And for the record I don't think the Indian statue comes with the building. It is quite a marketing tool though. Everyone knows the big indian at Jefferson and Cherokee! Want to rent a space? Call me now! Get pre-construction pricing!!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

2006 Favorites

I've put together my list of favorite songs for 2006. It can be downloaded here:
Unfortunately the megaupload program puts the titles in alpha order. Below is the order in which I intended.
1. TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me
2. Tapes 'n Tapes - The Iliad
3. Tilly and the Wall - Rainbows in the Dark
4. Cat Power - Living Proof
5. Gentleman Auction House - A Hospital or Heaven
6. The Hard Lessons - Bamboo
7. Band of Horses - The Funeral
8. Eef Barzelay - I Wasn't Really Drunk
9. Ray LaMontagne - Three More Days
10. Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins - Rise Up With Fists!
11. M. Ward - To Go Home
12. The Avett Brothers - When I Drink
13. The Raconteurs - Steady As She Goes
14. Beck - Nausea
15. Arctic Monkeys - I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
16. Yo La Tengo - Mr. Tough
17. Ben Kweller - Sundress
18. Jack Johnson - The 3 R's
19. Ray LaMontagne - Can I Stay (live) bonus

Pillow Fight Club

I never did get in an adult kickball league. Maybe this Pillow Fight Club will be more my speed. If that doesn't take off I may start a Professional Kick-the-Can League. The advertising possiblities on the can alone can fund the whole league.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Happy New Year! 2007 is going to be the year that comes before 2008 and after 2006!! You can be sure of that.

I'm working on my year end mix cd. I've done it for the last 4 or 5 years. It's probably geeky, but I enjoy it and subject my friends to it. The thing I find hard to believe is how many titles I put on my year end favorites list that I don't see on other lists. I listen to podcasts, read magazines, etc where critics list their favorites and see a lot less duplication than I would expect.

I'm not sure if critics are being honest with themselves or if my taste is too mainstream. Then again I see a lot of major label titles on the top lists that just don't interest me in the least.

This year I'm picking songs from albums by Jenny Watson, Band of Horses, Ray LaMontagne, Cat Power and Tapes n' Tapes among others. Once I finalize the list and order of songs I'll publish a link here.