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September 5, 2017

Every so often, my neighbor here in the co-op, Kevin (pictured), asks me to help him on a job. He does some high end design-y landscaping, which often includes pretty slick steel and concrete features such as planters, fountains, and elaborate stairs. He's been working out a handrail design that sandwiches a 1/4" steel strip between 1x3"
ipe (ee-pay), also known as ironwood because, guess what, it's hard AF.

As luck would have it, the job site was just a couple of
blocks from where I got my start in the building trades.
The spendy bakery and terrible taco place are still there,
and just like way back when, I found myself totally baffled
by the task at hand--in this case, how to miter cut compound
angles around inside and outside corners. To be fair, Kevin had
been stumped, too, which is why he called me in, but it felt just like
old times, and not in a good way.

It was fruitless and frustrating at first, but in the past fifteen years I've learned how to learn.
"Just start cutting," I told myself, which was odd because I very seldom tell myself anything, but here
I had to assume the role of my own teacher. I made a couple of misguided cuts with scrap, but sure enough
those haphazard experiments triggered an insight into how to do it right. The rest of the day was pretty satisfying as the joints came together snug and tight.

Too bad the sun was red behind a pall of smoke, wildfires raging all around. As the ash wafted down I kept thinking about all the creatures outright perishing or losing their habitats in the Columbia Gorge, all because some idiot kid thought it'd be fun to throw fireworks off a cliff into tinderbox grass. Humans are a cancer on the planet.