Saturday Tweets: Cats, Silicon Valley and DIY Bus Benches

Let’s Bring Back Picture Rail

Why the hell did The Man take away our picture rail?

Picture rail is a small piece of molding placed either at the top of a wall or a few feet shy of the top, that holds hooks on which you can hang pictures using a chain, cord or ribbon. Picture rail allows you to hang pictures without putting a damn hole in the wall. This is especially important if you have wallpaper. It’s also great if your walls are made of lath and plaster rather than drywall, since tapping on an old lath and plaster wall can easily cause half the plaster to cleave off. But even if you have drywall, picture rail allows you to easily reposition pictures in seconds and not have to worry about filling holes.

So why did they take it away from us? Picture rail disappeared in the mid-twentieth century when wallpaper and lath and plaster went out of fashion.  It also may have had something to do with the mid-century disdain for molding in general.

My DIY picture rail.

Thankfully we can bring back picture rail. You can buy it online but I figured out a way to make it myself on a table saw equipped with a dado set (you could also do it with a router). I picked up some door and window casing at the Big Orange Store and used the dado set to cut a groove in the back of the molding. Put it up and pick up some picture rail hooks and you’re ready to hang art. Picture rail hooks come in a variety of sizes and we had to test a few to find the right fit. The picture rail hooks fit standard, rounded picture rail better than my DIY effort, but my improvised picture rail works okay.

New picture rail and crown molding in our bedroom.

The living room of our house already had picture rail so I just had to add it to the other rooms of the house when I redid the molding this summer. Hopefully you’re lucky enough to already have picture rail. If not you can even get it in a contemporary style to easily add to any room.

To use picture rail you need to attach either chain, cord or wire to the back of your frame. We went with brass chain since we can pick it up at our local hardware store and we’ve got some heavy pictures to hang. You can either hang from one point on the frame or two. If you’ve got tall ceilings you can attach the chain or cord lower on the frame so that the picture tilts downward to make it easier to view. You can stack pictures on the wall by attaching them to each other or by hanging them from individual hooks.

Say goodbye to holes in the wall!

The print at top is “California 2 Mt. Shasta” by Frank Morley Fletcher that we got though the Legion of Honor online gift store. I made the frame on my table saw and router table.

Support the Master Gardener Program

Back in April Jeff Bezos said, “The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel. That is basically it.”

Jeff, I’ve go an idea for a better place to spend that money: let’s plant gardens. That’s what the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program does here in Los Angeles County and they can use our help. The Master Gardener Program trains people to teach gardening using research-based information. They have a scholarship program that supports individuals who can’t afford the training program. Here is what a recent graduate of that program had to say,

I received the partial scholarship in 2018 to take the master gardener program. I would have not been able to attend, even if accepted, as I am a full time student and work to support myself the rest of the time. Basically, I live paycheck to paycheck. Now, I’m starting a community garden at my school, work for a non-profit educating students on gardening and am connected with an incredibly supportive community of volunteers and knowledgeable individuals.

You can make a contribution to the UCCE Master Gardener Program here.

The video above shows the amazing work of the UCCE Master Gardener Program.

A Thanksgiving Debriefing

A harvest festival-ish holiday celebrating thankfulness and gratitude? What could go wrong?

This year we’re very thankful to celebrate the second anniversary of Kelly’s miraculous recovery from an aortic dissection. But, for the first time in memory, both Kelly and I did nothing on Thanksgiving. We had colds and spent the day at home watching movies. We ate pasta for dinner.

Between coughs and sniffles, I had a few idle thoughts on ways the holiday could be improved:

  • Ditch the turkey. Ask around and you’ll find out it’s probably not most people’s favorite food. Why not serve something else?
  • If you are going to serve turkey butcher it first and then roast it. Roasting it whole leads to dry meat.
  • While we’re at it how about ditching the traditional side dishes? They have the taste and texture of baby food.
  • What would happen if we gave the women in our lives a day off and had the men folk do all the work? Women seem to get the brunt of the holiday domestic duties.
  • I suspect I’m preaching to the choir to suggest skipping the consumption nightmare that is “black Friday.”

Consider this an open thread on the holiday. What did you do? Did a political debate break out at the table? Who did all the work? Have our international readers even heard of Thanksgiving? Note that our Canadian readers have had an extra month to debrief on the holiday. Comment!

Having no pictures of Pilgrims, please excuse my use of this terrible magazine cover depicting Puritans. I can’t tell the difference. Plus the central figure has the haggard look of someone who just spent the whole day making way too much mediocre food while the rest of her family kicked back and watched a bowl game.

Saturday Tweets: Thanksgiving Weekend Edition