Monday, January 27, 2014

Scenes from a movie

Our Astro cable broke and we spent the past weeks re-watching our favourite movies, which we have many in common. One of my favourite is this French production of Dai Sijie's Balzac and the little seamstress.

The story is told by one of two young men who were sent to a rural mountain village to be re educated in the 1970's. The seamstress in the film's title is a girl from the next village with whom the boys   plot  to read outlawed books by Balzac and Dumas in a quest to 'educate' her and to reveal the world beyond the mountains to the young girl. Ultimately, the boys lose the girl they love to her quest for self discovery.
The scenes is beautifully filmed, I am especially fond of the ones showing man-made structures - a stone footpath obediently following the ridges of the hills; a mountain shack dwarfed by the backdrop of rocky outcrops.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My plans for the weekend

Another guerrilla carpentry project carried out with a few students and cohort, running coach and English teacher, Lim Eng Hooi. The client is a friend from our running group, he has seen some of our self build projects and started asking me about sourcing materials, construction methods, etc.
So, I offered to design and build one for him with the help of Joel (high school graduate) and Sean (Architecture student). I sketched out some ideas based on simple joints and off the shelf materials to achieve a departure from 'closed' boxes for the shelves, opting instead for one that snakes its way from top to bottom.

Sean and Joel what's app this image to the client - explaining to him that the heights of the shelves varied according to the user's height; the lower shelves are for their 3-year old Nicole to store her Jenga and Lego, and her hard cover story books. The middle shelves are for novels while the upper most are some important files to be kept out of reach by little fingers.

Approval was given, so we started sourcing for material - the shelves are 25 x 200 mm dressed medium light hardwood while the vertical supports (which double as book-ends) are cut from a single piece of 12mm plywood.

Jointing methods have to be simple when the carpenters are amateurs and the car porch is your workshop. We started at 10:30 a.m. one Saturday and finished at 3:30 p.m. which is not bad if you consider time out for lunch and to teach a lesson or two about counter-sinking screw heads and taking a plumb-line.

Eng Hooi (representing Malaysia) was instrumental after lunch when our energy waned. The other man in the photo is Kueh, our client

The finished product

Monday, January 13, 2014

National Service

We sent Sara off to serve her National Service duties on the 4th of January, she will be stationed at the Rembau Camp in West Malaysia for three months. For most of that time, we will not have contact with her as phone usage will be restricted. We spend a lot of time together as a family so not being able to 'chat' with her will be difficult for all of us.

True enough, her first week was quite stressful for her as she tried to get used to the hours, the routine and the monotony of endless seminars about patriotism. I told her that she will start enjoying it once the physical training starts.
Sara is far left

After the weekend visit from Mom and grandparents, she cheered up somewhat as can be seen from this photo with her dorm-mates.

Last night, we received this photo - it looks like the old Sara ("hiao-lok" *Hokkien slang) is back!

the trademark cheesy grin

Monday, January 6, 2014's a new year

I thought for some time before deciding which is the best topic for the first post of the new year
Resolutions? there are so many. Highlights of the previous year? there are even more and too self indulgent to list.

Except for one - a little cardboard model made by an architecture student. It is a model for an installation - he used it for discussions with his tutors. They liked his idea, so he made a larger final model and thought I might like to keep this little one.

He didn't say why he gave it to me, whether it was for Christmas or my birthday - but you know how it is when boys communicate with their fathers.