Saturday, August 14, 2021

For the want of a nail

Progress on my Biggest-ever Project had already slowed quite a lot when the whole thing was—briefly—stopped for the want of a nail. Technically, it wasn’t a nail, just a long metal pin that looks a bit like a finishing nail (photo above), but missing just one of them stalled my project. Until it didn’t.

Clearing and organising my garage has been extremely challenging because of what a massive job it truly is: It’s physically tiring and sometimes throws up emotions, too (a particularly apt way to put that…). Because it’s been hard to get through, it’s been easy to distract me from my mission. Even so, I eventually get through any barriers.

The last weekend in July, my main goal was to set up the shelves I talked about at the time, beginning with shelves to put all Nigel’s electronic bits and pieces (and empty boxes) in one place. To do that, I had to move all the shelving parts—the shelves and their legs and horizontal supports—from inside the front of the garage, next to the overhead door, to the side door, which is nearer to the spot I needed them. I couldn’t bring them through the garage because all those broken down empty boxes were in the way, so I took them through the side yard instead.

Once I had everything moved, I counted all the parts and worked out quickly there was a problem: I was missing some of the nail-like pins that hold the upper and lower shelves together, a bit like a slide bolt (they don’t bear any weight, they just keep the halves of the legs from sliding apart; personally, I think it’s a poor design, but it is what it is). I went ahead with the first set of shelves.

Once I moved (lots of) stuff out of the way (and endured a small meltdown I had to push through), the first set of shelves went up quickly and easily (I really am an experienced hand at putting up or installing shelves), and I began bringing in the electronic bits and pieces I’d put into the house earlier, plus two boxes I’d moved into the house to make room for the shelves. There was still a lot of space left, but not much time: It was evening by that point, and I was tired.

The following Monday, I moved the electronic bits and pieces that were stored in my office to the shelves. Next, I started putting things together, like remotes/cables/AC adapters with their devices, and with their empty boxes when I could. In other words, I basically did the first pass of organising all that stuff so I can see what exactly is there so I can work out what to do with it all.

Through this process, I found out that Nigel had at least eleven different boxes to stream Internet content to the TV (not counting the two I’m still using). I wasn’t aware he’d bought so many, just that he kept trying different ones because none were exactly what he wanted. To be clear, I didn’t (and don’t) care how many he bought, but now I have to deal with eleven of them, and this is just one example among many.

Here’s another example: I also found around eight remotes for unknown devices, though a few seem to have been multi-remotes, not for any specific devices. Among the other stuff were a thing or two I think I might be able to use. In fact, one of the multitude of TV streaming boxes may be better for me than what Nigel left me using. There’s also a media server that may work better for me than the re-jig of the two Nigel was using (it’s now just one, but like many a human relationship, mine with that server is complicated). Nigel planned to sell the media server (he even put it back in the box it came in), but never did; now, I’ll evaluate it to see if I’m better off keep it. That’s definitely a future project.

It was then time to put up the second set of shelves, but before I went to all the work and trouble of moving stuff out of the way, I needed figure out what to do about the missing pins. I went to the front of the garage again and tried sweeping out under (more) shelves I have near the front door because I thought the missing pins may have fallen there (the legs were stored right next to those shelves). They weren’t there, but I found three of them in a small plastic box on a shelf, apparently where I’d carefully put them so they wouldn’t get lost. That was awesome—except one was still missing.

The company that makes the shelves doesn't sell spare parts (another design flaw…), so I went to the home centre nearest to my house to buy a variety pack of cotter pins, which I thought would be a good option because they’re thin and pretty strong (a finishing nail would also be good, but they don’t tend to make them long enough with the thin gauge I needed). I brought them home, and they were all too short. The pack also had some R-clips, but they were all too short, too, and the ones I looked at in the shop were all too heavy in gauge if they were long enough, just like finishing nails. Stalled again.

Over the week, I kept working in the garage, emptying boxes, trying to deal with stuff (including putting more of Nigel’s electronic bits and pieces on the shelves), and also slowly clearing out the space where the second shelves would go. All the while, I was scheming in my head how I might come up with a workaround, probably using wire.

On Friday of last week, I suddenly thought that since I couldn’t see under the shelves at the front of the garage, and couldn't reach under them because of stuff that was in the way, I could use my phone to take a photo so I could see if the missing pin was there. I did, and it wasn’t.

On Monday of this week, I decided to look for the pin in my car, and for good reason: When I was bringing the shelves back from our storage unit in Auckland, a pukeko suddenly changed directions and walked in front of my car, forcing me to stop quickly. At that point, I found out that I hadn’t put the shelving parts in the optimal spot in the back of my car, and they came sliding forward toward the dash. Neither shelf parts nor my car (nor the pukeko) were injured in the process.

Because of that, I thought that maybe the missing pin had been part of that calamity and had flown loose in my car. I looked on the floor of the driver’s side, peeled up the floor mat, and looked under the seat. Nothing. I repeated that with the floor of the passenger seat behind the driver, and still nothing. As I walked around the car, I thought to myself it might have hidden itself in some nook or cranny in the cargo space (the back seats were down when I moved the shelves), and if so, how would I ever find it?

I opened the passenger door and was about to peel up the floor mat, but there was the missing pin, right in plain sight, laying on top of the floor mat. This was a little odd: I’ve driven my mother-in-law places many times since the pukeko incident, and her feet go there. She also often put her bag on the floor, pretty much right on top of where I found the pin. Yet I never saw it until that moment. In my defence, the pin is a dark colour, just like the floor mat, and I wasn’t looking for it. Yeah, that’s it.

I put the shelves up on Monday afternoon (quick and easy yet again) and started putting stuff on them. Since then, I’ve unpacked some more boxes and moved bits and pieces around. And all of that’s been extremely challenging, of course.

There’s still so very much to do. At the moment, I’ve emptied the equivalent of 80 boxes, and there are still more to go. The bigger problem—literally—is that I have big stuff blocking me. I can get rid of old appliances and such, but there I have to figure out how to do that, since the place that will take all of it (including an old car battery) is only open Monday through Friday and, apparently, doesn’t do one-off pick-ups.

I plan on ringing the movers next week to pick up the boxes, and if they won’t, I’ll take them to be recycled. Once I get them out of the way I can move the scrap metal stuff to the front of the garage, and that’ll open up a lot of space in there. That’s the plan for next week.

I’m starting clear up the living space in the house, though all the bedrooms still have stuff in them. I don’t intend to move anything else into the living area. I’m allowing myself two weeks more (until August 24) to accomplish what I can in the garage (hopefully moving stuff out of the bedrooms) because I want my house back to normal before Nigel’s birthday that Friday. I’m not planning a party this year like I did last year, but I want to be home that evening, and any friends or family who want to come round will be welcome. All of which is why I don’t want to be surrounded by junk stuff.

After that, I’ll continue to work on the garage until I get it done—still without bringing stuff back into the house. However, spring draws near, so I’ll soon need to pause again while I work on the yard. One way or another, though, I will finish my Biggest-ever Project, just not as quickly as I’d hoped. And that’s okay.

I ended up finding my missing “nail”, but continued finishing my project even while it was missing. So far, nothing’s slowed me all that much. Sometimes stubbornness can be a good and useful thing.

The title of this post is, of course, from a well-known proverb.


Pollyanna_H said...

Such progress! Very inspiring. You're doing so well, it's really heartening to read. Supportive cheers from Wellington!

Arthur Schenck said...

Thank you. My current project has certainly been challenging, but I mainly just keep working away at it, one day at a time, just like I've been doing in general, actually.