Monday, September 14, 2009

Can't we all just get along (with a single bathroom)?

Last week was another busy one, although the one big blocking problem is still blocking. I had a brief glimmer of hope on the City of Oakland front late last week, when I got an email from the Chief Building Official asking for some clarification on the history of my situation, which I provided. Unfortunately, this was followed by five days of City furlough, including the infamous Admissions Day (, and a two day workweek, during which I'm pretty sure nothing actually happened at the City, on my project or any other. So, it's back to the water on stone game starting today.

On the bright side, I have been using the extra time productively.

My tabletops are done, and they look pretty cool, I
think (judge for yourself). Certainly, they're a step up from the condition I got them in (below). All that's left to do is mount them on table bases. Next up is seating bars, which will be a bit hairy, since I'm cutting them out of 4"x 18" laminated beams, which are really heavy. One bar is 14' long, and the chunk of beam required probably weighs a good 300 pounds. I'm sure I'll figure it out, but I may need a bit more help with them than the tabletops. After the bars are done, I've got to make benches for the two booths by the front window, and my service counters (which will also be big and unwieldy). Fun stuff, especially since I have no real idea what I'm doing.

I also hired a contractor this week - Black Creek Builders. They're local kids that have really impressed me with their diligence at working through the bid, and their flexibility with their approach to the project. Hoping the actual work goes as well as the negotiation has. Oh, and that I can actually get permits and start work someday.

And - Sparkle Motion is almost ready to be unveiled. I've sort of alluded to it a couple times before, but since I've been working on it forever and it's been slow going I haven't been talking about it directly. I'll write a full post on it as soon as it's all the way done, but the short story is that it's a human-powered (bicycle driven) video jukebox. I was sort of inspired by the old penny-arcade mutoscope ( when I started the project: crank the handle, see a movie. In the case of Sparkle Motion, it's: pedal the bike, see a movie. It's made of a bunch of salvaged electronics, lumber, a salvaged bike, and some circuitry I had to build. I've also been collecting interesting and weird short video clips to play on the machine - I've got a pretty good collection, but I'm always looking for more. If anyone's got short (less than five minute) videos that you think would be cool played from a Gilligan's Island/Rube Goldberg/Fat Albert-style jukeboxy-kinda-thing, send 'em my way (Valladares - I'm talking to you!).

I've got a few more letters of support from neighborhood folks for my beer and wine permit review. Thanks to: the staff and residents of Sister Thea Bowman Manor and Percy Abram Jr. Senior Housing, Forthrite Printing and Brooks Jewelers. Still more coming.

I've also been having tons of fun on my new
Radish, thanks to the kind and generous folks at
Xtracycle. It's been really useful for hauling tools and materials. In fact, I've only had to use my car for the Cafe one time since I picked up the Radish, to carry a sheet of plywood. I'm told that I can get plywood on the Radish, so I'll try again next time I have to haul some. It's also really good at carrying coffee, as you can see.

I had a nice ride in the Solano Stroll parade yesterday with a bunch of Xtracycle riders. One of the guys who came out is a home inspector, and had a 9-foot ladder lashed onto one side of his bike. He was riding circles through the parade, and managed not to knock anyone down, which was pretty impressive, I thought.

I also made it to the Walk Oakland Bike Oakland ( Bike Love festival and swap meet. Ran into all sorts of folks, including the Cycles of Change bike shop guys. We're all talking about ways to partner on bike-related events and such in the neighborhood.

Stay tuned for updates on the rest room and construction schedule as soon as they break.

And, thanks for all the love!



  1. I'm so sorry to hear about the bathroom! Darn, I thought that was resolved a couple of weeks ago.

    Sparkle Motion sounds really cool. I might even get your dad to exercise on a bike like that!

  2. P.S. The tabletops came out great! You sure got a lot done in the past week!

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