Don't get me wrong—using tools to make stuff is fun. But what's really fun is using tools to make other tools.

Case in point. My office at home is a spare bedroom, and the builder (for reasons known only to him) ran no phone lines into it. As a result, I use my cell phone as an office phone (side effect: I never have to forward my phone when I leave the office) and I connect to the Internet via a cable TV cable that's stapled to the ceiling down our hallway.

I'm finally getting around to running some lines into the office; the idea is to drop down into the garage below, where I can staple them to the ceiling and walls and my wife won't complain. The problem is that the floor structure between the office and the garage is about 12" thick, which is the length of the longest drill bit I could find (short of one of those highly-flexible ones which are about 4' long). By the time you chuck it in the drill, it's not long enough to reach through the floor.

I dug out a piece of steel rod about 1/4" in diameter that I had lying around that's about 3' long. Using a bench grinder, I ground four faces into one end at about a 45° angle. Then, with the Dremel and a carbide cutter, I ground hollows out of two opposing faces. Presto—instant drill bit, minus the spiral cuts to remove waste. Still, it did the trick, and was a lot of fun to make.


I think my fermentation may be stuck. The fermenter is no longer bubbling, but it's been only 48 hours. The good news is, the beer smells like beer, and not like something that died. Good thing I'm going to the Lawrence Brewers Guild meeting tomorrow.


My wife gave me a homebrew starter kit for my birthday, and I fired up my first batch last night. My first impression is it's just like cooking, but messier. The whole house smells like Grape-Nuts. The fermenter is happily bubbling away.

It turns out that Everything to Everyone by Barenaked Ladies (a birthday present from my four-year-old daughter—she's a big fan of "If I Had $1,000,000") is good music by which to make beer, the way the soundtrack from The Big Chill is good music by which to cook pasta for a lot of people. I look forward to trying this with other albums.

Another busy week last week (and in to this one). I guess that's what happens when you get old.