David Tewes, Publicity

Look Who’s Talking (About David Tewes) Now

TPT (Twin Cities Public Television, also known locally as channel 2) did a story on David Tewes and his museum exhibit, which grew out of the website that I created in 2017.

Amateur photographer David Tewes captured scenes in Minnesota and out west after World War II until 1955. About 800 Kodachrome slides were found by a distant relative, who uploaded the images to a website in Tewes’ honor. The images were found by Minnesota Marine Art Museum curators in Winona, Minn., and they decided to show the work.

“Distant Relative: The Chris Finke Story.”

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Minnesota, Publicity

Look Who’s Talking (About Shoreline) Now

This happened last summer, but I forgot to mention it: Minnesota Public Radio ran a story about my research from 2013 on which state has the most shoreline.

“Chris Finke is a software programmer who is originally from Minnesota, but moved to Oregon in 2015. He remembered watching an advertisement in 2013 from “Explore Minnesota” that claims there’s “More to explore in Minnesota,” including more shoreline than California. […] Finke decided to use an open-source mapping resource called OpenStreetMap and write a program to calculate the total shoreline for each state.”

It just goes to show you that genius is not understood in its own time, nor until it moves out of state.

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David Tewes, Minnesota

A website I made is now a museum exhibit

A photo of the New England Furniture Company building in downtown Minneapolis in 1950 by David Tewes Three years ago, I wrote about how I found old Kodachrome slides in my father-in-law’s attic, scanned them, and put them online at DavidTewes.com.  In an unexpected turn of events, photos from that website are now on display at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum.

Jon Swanson, the curator of collections and exhibits at the museum, reached out to me early last year. He serendipitously came across the site and felt that David had taken a number of photographs that fit in with the museum’s mission of exhibiting art inspired by water. I sent him the slides, and after what I’m sure was a significant amount of work on his and the museum staff’s part, the exhibit launched on January 10: Shutterbug: The Mid-Century Photography of David Tewes.

Minnesota Public Radio covered the news:

“Dave Casey, assistant curator of education and exhibitions at the museum, said the images carry both artistic and historic value that merit an exhibition. In addition to documenting that era, they also serve as a lesson of what photography was like and how it was experienced in the 1940s and 1950s. And Tewes’ unique eye and experimentation created visually interesting work.”

Their story generated almost 15,000 pageviews on DavidTewes.com and surprised my sister-in-law’s husband when he heard my voice on the radio on his way to work.

KSTP, the Minneapolis/St. Paul ABC affiliate, did a segment about David and his photos as well on the evening news:

If you’re in or near Winona, Minnesota (yes, the same Winona from the Super Bowl commercial), the exhibit of David’s photographs runs through May 3.

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Christmas, Life

Our 2019 Christmas Letter

Five-hundred twenty-five thousand six-hundred minutes… How do you measure a year? In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? In cups of coffee? No. Those are all bad ways to measure a year. Here are some better ones:

In miles? We traveled 1,800 miles to visit Minnesota last Christmas. Apparently Minnesota did not know that we were coming, because they forgot to turn the heat on. In other mile-related news, we took a trip for Gideon’s birthday to a waterpark in northern Oregon that has a real airplane on the roof. (They put it there on purpose. It didn’t just land there and they left it like that. Actually I never asked, so maybe it did.)

In kids puking? There were twelve separate times this year when our kids got sick and threw up. One of those twelve times was BarfFest 2019, when Gideon and Gloria each threw up six times in the same day.

In pounds of clothes? Christina is actively involved with running a clothing warehouse that provides free clothing to foster families, and she has sorted an estimated 15,000 pounds of donated clothing in our garage this year. She also picked up an additional 10,000 pounds of clothing off of our kids’ floors, but that was unrelated to the clothing warehouse.

In steps? My phone’s Steps app tells me that I’ve taken 2.6 million steps this year, but that seems low. Grayson takes at least that many steps each day now that he has learned to walk, and I have to chase after him on days that Christina is out doing good in the community.

In teeth that have been lost? Gloria lost her first tooth the natural way, but then she fell off of the swingset and gave the second one a helping hand.

In DIY projects? I built two beds this year, and the kids are still somehow curled up on our floor every morning. Maybe my next project should be a lock for our bedroom door.

In bees? Weird suggestion, but ok. We’ve started our own apiary and have about 50,000 bees at our command. 50,000 bees seems like a lot of bees, because it is, especially when you walk too close to the hive without your bee suit on. (A “bee suit” is protective gear to protect you from stings, not a human-sized bee costume, although that might be equally effective depending on how realistic it is.)

In baby skunks that we saw? If so, then a year is equal to two widdle baby skunks that are just so cute when they come out at dusk and waddle around our yard together but please don’t decide to live under our porch.

In athletic endeavors? Gabriel and Gideon played YMCA basketball and flag football, and all three of them are learning karate, the Japanese art of barefoot synchronized shouting. Gabriel and Gloria have yellow belts, Gideon has a purple belt, and my belt is black faux-leather with a silver buckle.

In dogs that we welcomed to our family in order to chase squirrels away from our house? That number stands at one, a Goldendoodle named Jupiter. But if we’re measuring the year by how many dogs we have that actually chase squirrels away from our house, the number is closer to zero.

Merry Christmas,

Chris, Christina, Gabriel, Gideon, Gloria, and Grayson Henry

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Maker, Woodworking

Whoever named the fireplace, good job

This was the fireplace in our living room.

It never worked properly since we moved in, since the previous owners didn’t use it once in twenty years. Fixing it would have cost as much as replacing it, and in order to replace it, we would have had to tear out the surround, and in order to tear out the surround, we would have had have to remove the bookshelves… Long story short:

We planned on replacing it all with a setup that looked like this:

We hired a professional to install the new fireplace and run a new vent line, but I did the rest myself.

We bumped the fireplace out into the room so that it would be more of a focal point, and we replaced the side bookshelves with different shelves on the top and a drawer/cabinet combo on the top.

The panels next to the fireplace open up to reveal storage with adjustable shelves — a good spot for video game consoles.

The panel above the fireplace opens up to allow access to the area above and behind the fireplace, just for good measure.

Because the fireplace was no longer embedded in the wall, it opened up a space between the living room and the utility closet behind it, so I built a shelving unit to use that space.

 

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Maker, Woodworking

The name’s Bed. Murphy Bed.

Remember that scene from Full House when Jesse gets trapped in a Murphy bed?  Well, I do, and I realized that if John Stamos ever visits my home, I wouldn’t have a Murphy bed for him to get stuck in, so I built one:

I used this hardware kit and set of plans from Rockler. The build process was pretty simple, so I didn’t take any pictures of it, but here’s a photo of John Stamos trapped in the bed after it closed on him while he was visiting my house.

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Maker, Woodworking

I Turned One Desk into Two End Tables

I got this old desk for free. Once I got it home, I realized it was too big to fit anywhere in our house, so I left it under a tarp in my shop.

A year later, I was cleaning up my shop and found a giant desk under a tarp.  I decided to either get rid of it or cut it up and turn it into end tables, and my wife cast the tie-breaking vote for end tables.

I unscrewed the desktop and cut the base of the desk in half. Because there were only two legs on the rear of the desk, each end table needed a new leg on the back corner. I made the legs out of walnut:

Each leg has a quarter-inch mortise cut into two different sides to accept the panels from the back and side of the table.  They are also tapered, about 3/16″ over the bottom seven inches of each side of each leg (taper not yet cut in the picture above).

The bottom panel of the left section of the desk was in rough shape.

I replaced the rail in front by cutting a new one out of maple:

I also made a new tenon for the top stile out of red oak.

I cut up the desktop to fit each table, glued strips of red oak to the cut sides, and then sanded and restained them. I used a mix of Varethane’s Ebony and Kona stains (black and very dark brown), which worked especially well on the new legs, which match the color of the old legs almost exactly.  The oak didn’t stain match as well; I wish I had had some walnut long enough to make veneer out of, but I only had enough to make the legs.

The left section of the desk had a typewriter lift in it. It was neat, but we couldn’t find a reason to keep it.

I replaced it with just a static shelf cut out of the remaining portion of the desktop.  I can still re-attach the typewriter lift if we find a use for it.

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Beekeeping, Life, Maker, Woodworking

I’ve Got Bees!

Previously, I posted about about having hives. Not content to stop there, I have filled the hives with bees!

I bought three nucs from the Oregon Bee Store and moved them into my hives on a dreary Saturday.

(After taking this picture, I added another five empty frames to fill the rest of the space.)

The nucs were positively buzzing. The bees had built some burr comb on the side of the box and had already started filling it with nectar.

The store was out of entrance feeders, so I built three myself, using this Instructable. I used scrap poplar and the same aluminum flashing that I used for the hive lids.

(I’m experimenting with the bucket and some floating hardware cloth for providing water to the hives.)

A week later, during my first hive inspection, the bees had started drawing comb on the new frames I had installed and were bringing lots of yellow and orange pollen back to the hive.  Check out those bees’ knees! I think they are the bees’ knees.

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CNC, Maker, Woodworking

I Built a Custom Closet System

My daughter’s closet was just a 4′ x 5′ space with two hanging bars and a shelf, which was not an efficient use of the space. If I had taken a “before” picture of this project, you would be able to see that, but I didn’t take any pictures until I had ripped out the shelf and started installing the supports for the custom organization system, which you can see here:

I also didn’t take any pictures of the construction process, so you’ll have to trust me that it happened.

The finished system comprises seven separate cabinets: two sets of drawers, two corner units, and three shelving units with adjustable shelves.  Everything is made of melamine with edge banding, except for the drawer faces, which are poplar and plywood.

For the corner units, I made the shelves with a rounded inner edge, which I think is pretty snazzy.

If you think the empty closet looks good, you should see it full! And now you will!

The hanging rod on the right is adjustable, since it is attached to the bottom of the adjustable shelf.

This project took 58 hours of work over about three weeks (plus half an hour two months later to finally install the moulding).

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Maker, Woodworking

Turning Billy Bookcase into William Bookcase

Years ago, when we were young and poor, my wife and I bought a Billy Bookcase from Ikea. It looked like this:

Now that we are sophisticated wealthy adults, we wanted — no, needed — something classier. So, I painted Billy, gave him a face frame, and added moulding to the top and bottom. I made the moulding myself using a roundover bit, a cove bit, and some strategic tablesaw cuts. I also replaced the waxed cardboard that was acting as the back of the bookshelf with some lauan plywood.

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Christmas, CNC, Maker, Woodworking

Secret Santa 2018: Japan in Maple and Walnut

For my workplace Secret Santa gift exchange this Christmas (you know, the one that very recently took place), my recipient was a Japanese citizen who likes to hike, so I made him a 3-D topographic map of Japan out of maple and walnut.

The steps to build it were pretty simple, so I won’t caption all the photos, but basically, I glued up a walnut panel, carved Japan out of maple with my CNC router, and then magically conjoined them. Tada in Japanese!

 

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Maker, Woodworking

I Built a Bed That Is Also a Playhouse and a Slide and a Dresser and a Bookshelf

My five-year-old daughter saw my wife browsing Pinterest, and long story short, I ended up building this bed/playhouse/slide/dresser/bookcase for her room:

I planned it out in SketchUp. It’s an original design inspired by a number of beds online, and the slide is based on The Wood Whisperer’s bunk bed slide. (My SketchUp file is available here.)

The stairs have built-in drawers, so they double as a dresser.

The bottom three drawers don’t run the full depth of the stairs, so there’s space at the back for books and baskets.

There’s another bookshelf built into the space underneath the slide. One side is accessible from inside the playhouse…

…and the other side is accessible from under the slide.

The slide is made of melamine, the structural portion of the bed is poplar, and most everything else is MDF.  The cedar shingles were left over from my Infinity Wishing Well project.

From start to finish (although not including the time to design it), this project took 107 hours over two months — well worth it, considering my daughter will spend at least 3,000 hours using it every year.

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CNC, Maker, Programming, Woodworking, X-Carve

Generating and Cutting Halftone Images on the X-Carve

Halftone is an app I’ve written for making halftone-style carves with Inventables’s Easel CNC design platform. A halftone image uses different sized dots to represent light and dark areas.

Upload an image, and Halftone will convert it to a grid of holes with each hole sized to reflect the brightness of the image at that point. Darker areas are represented by wider holes; if you’re going to backlight your carve, you can invert it and have lighter areas use wider holes.

Continue reading

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Maker, Woodworking

I Made a Stand for a Daily Photo Calendar

We bought a photo-a-day calendar for 2019, but because it didn’t come with any sort of stand, it was in danger of getting broken apart prematurely.  I made this stand for it that doubles as storage for the used pages so they can be used as a notepad.

Underneath the calendar, there’s a slot where old pages can be inserted or removed. (The wooden divider between the calendar and the old pages is not attached to anything; it just floats up or down depending on how many pages are underneath it.)

I made this stand out of an interesting block of wood that was given to me by a friend. I don’t know what type of wood it was, but its coloring is pretty similar to red oak. For scale, the calendar is about 3″ square, and the sides of the stand are 1/8″ thick.

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Christmas, Life

Our 2018 Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas to all of our friends, family, and unindicted co-conspirators,

Why does every Christmas letter have to be about gazing back upon the stale agèd past instead of looking forward to the glorious future? You don’t need to know what we did last January; that was 11 months ago! OLD NEWS! The fact that Gabriel took first place in his Awana Pinewood Derby is so bygone that we should say exactly that to it. “Bye! Gone!” Turn around and face the future: Gabriel is preparing not only for this year’s race, but NEXT year’s race, and is hoping — nay, planning — to be a three-time champion. Now THAT’s what I call Looking Forward to the Glorious Future!

Grayson is not content to live in the past either. (You don’t remember Grayson? Are you still living in a 2017 Christmas Letter-era when he was named Henry and hadn’t been born yet? Get with it!) For most of 2018, all he knew how to do was lay on the ground and roll around a little. However, he abandoned ALL of that — everything he knew from the past! — in favor of crawling, which is the locomotive method of the FUTURE. Grayson is a forward thinker, just like his dear old dad.

Speaking of old, I’m going to be it… in the future!

Christina and I are hoping to go back to Mexico again soon. “Back?” you say? “But whenever did you already GO to Mexico??” In the past! I don’t want to talk about it! We had a great time! We went with our friends! It’s a beautiful country full of wonderful people!

Next year, Christina will be the treasurer for our local foster parents association. I told her that I felt like I found treasure-r when I met her, but she said, “Christopher, that’s the kind of rearward-looking yesteryear-talk that we’re trying to eliminate. It’s also a terrible pun.”  And doggonit if she wasn’t right!

For the rest of their lives, our kids will be able to say that they got to go to LegoLand and Disneyland. I don’t want to write too much about how or when it happened for fear of contradicting the entire theme of this letter, but let’s just put it this way: last month (in the past), we fulfilled my life-long dream of driving four kids ten hours to spend three days at theme parks. But that’s all I’m going to say; you’ll have to connect the dots yourself!

Gideon, under Gabriel’s tutelage, is already deciding which career path he is going to follow after high school: professional football player (multi-million-dollar kicking position contracts only) or high-stakes poker player. His plan is to win big in his first year of either sport, retire immediately, and let us mooch off of him for the rest of our lives. Sounds good to me!

Gloria is looking forward to being the youngest person in our family to graduate from kindergarten, ever! At just five years, nine months, and seven days, she’ll be younger than every single one of her ancestors was at the time that they finished kindergarten. Oh sorry, I have to answer the phone — it’s the Guiness Book of World Records calling!

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: regardless of how much time you spent watching Japanese chefs make omelets on YouTube this year, don’t let that control your future.  You can watch as little or as much Japanese omelet footage as you want in 2019!

Forever forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom,

Chris, Christina, Gabriel, Gideon, Gloria, and Grayson Henry Finke

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Clockback, PHP, Programming, Web Applications

Run Your Own Open-Source Timehop

I like the idea of Timehop: seeing all of the photos I took on this day in years past. I don’t like the idea of sharing all of my photos with a third party, so I built an open-source replacement for Timehop that runs on my own computer and server; it’s called Clockback.

Clockback is two things:

  • a BASH script that uploads all of the photos I took this week in previous years
  • a single-page web app that displays the photos from this day:

To use Clockback, you only need two things:

  1. Your photos organized so that their filename begins with the date on which they were taken, e.g. “1969-07-20 – Moon landing.jpg”. (I use iPhoto Disc Export to do this.)
  2. A Web server to upload them to.

As long as you can run the script included in Clockback once per week from your computer, the Clockback webpage will have photos to show, and it will remove old photos, so it doesn’t use a lot of disk space.

To get the code and all of the details on how to run Clockback, check out the README in the GitHub repo.

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