Month: August 2008

This would make an awesome train set.

My older brother was the model train buff. Me, I always liked the real thing. As a little kid growing up in Japan, my friends and I used to sneak across the mulberry fields and sit by the train tracks to Yokohama. But the local koban police always took notice of the little white kids and hauled us back home with a stern warning never to do it again. Like that wouldn’t happen a few days later. Bay Ridge is in south Brooklyn, on lower New York Harbor. One the benefits of living here is dozing off to fog horns …

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She Talked. This Happened.

Next up in my “Meet The Neighbors” series is one of the largest buildings in NYC, the Brooklyn Army Terminal. It’s not large in vertical terms but as far as the footprint goes, there are few NYC buildings to match it. BAT is located four blocks north of me. Surprisingly, for a complex of its imposing size few people around here know much about it. About the only information I could glean from the locals was, “The Army used to own it. It’s something else now.” With its Pentagon-like utilitarian bulk, the closed-to-the-public perimeter security, the NYPD K-9 facility on …

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Can This Be This?

This past Saturday I went pedaling around the neighborhood with my digital camera. I’ve been wanting to do a series of articles about the neighborhood so I needed to stock up on bad pictures. I’m from the Grateful Dead jam school of photography: just keep snapping crap and sooner or later you’ll stumble on something almost interesting. I live just south of one of NYC’s oldest and most dilapidated industrial sprawls, on the western edge of an area called Sunset Park. I know, the name sounds like sipping Mai Tais on the veranda while watching the ocean swallow up the …

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Central vacs are awesome.

I resisted the urge to title this article something stupid like, “This really sucks”.   I’m often asked what’s my favorite power tool in the house. It’s not my Delta table saw nor my router table. It’s my central vacuum. In terms of pure usefulness, my central vac has done more work on the house and saved me more time here than even my cordless drills. And without a single breakdown. I remember when my gadget freak of an uncle installed one in his home when I was a little kid. I was always fascinated by it. I pestered my folks …

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Have you tried acoustic tile? (Hint: not a solution!)

After the 500th time reading someone complain about the clomping feet of the tenants upstairs, and the 1000th response from a helpful someone advising them to install acoustic tile, I have to post something that will maybe get Googled for the next poor person who asks about it: acoustic tile is not a solution. I don’t have an architectural acoustics degree but this is something I learned in the trenches, building commercial recording studios and reading books by studio designers and acousticians like Michael Rettinger and Don Davis. There are two basic types of noise control: one that alters the …

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Farewell, Chopper

I found Chopper as a 9 week old kitten. It was almost a set up for a bad joke: “A cat walks into a bar…” but that’s how it went. During our Tuesday night motorcycle hang at the Ear Inn on Spring Street in Manhattan, an orange kitten bravely walked in the door and started begging food from the patrons. I picked him up and he started licking my face like a golden retriever. What a personality. I adopted him on the spot and took him home to my other two foundlings. Even though Chopper was just a tiny little …

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Street Repaving, Brooklyn-style

Last year, NYC DOT repaved several Brooklyn avenues. Last month, they began ripping up some cross streets, mine included. Even though my street was in good condition, people who have lived on the block for 40 years can’t remember the last it was repaved. I figured this might make a good photo archive moment for my planned neighborhood blog. When I saw the yellow signs pop up all over the street I thought it was going to be yet another annoying film shoot. Over the past couple of years Brooklyn has gotten to be a hot location with Hollywood. You …

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“George is gettin’ frustrated…!”

The saga continues on the stained glass design for the master bedroom bureau. I created two more designs (below) that look nice but seem inappropriate for this piece. I’m beginning to think that stained glass in general is too heavy for this cabinet. I considered using cane instead except my cat would make short work of that. Trixie hops up on the window sill, opens the sock drawer and sleeps in there. Giving her a climbing wall would be a mistake. Then I remembered something I’ve seen in old movies: wire glass. You see it a lot in Hollywood set …

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Returning to the stained glass saga…

Let’s see. I finished painting the back wall, the tomatoes are flourishing, I lost 20 pounds… I’ve managed to exhaust all my excuses for not starting another project. Rather, I’m returning to a project I said I was going to have done by now. This marathon stained glass project breaks down to six sub-projects, or milestones in TechnoSpeak: Two door panels for the master BR bureau Two window panels for the master BR hallway window Two upper door panels for the LR home entertainment unit Skylight over the staircase Bathroom skylight Three sealed light boxes for the back yard fence. …

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Welcome to Brooklyn Row House

This blog is about the challenges of renovating an old (1903) Brooklyn, New York row house.

My last major renovation project was the master bedroom, most of which is about finish carpentry. You’ll find other completed home improvement projects in the Projects submenu at the top of this page.

I’m not a professional builder and don’t pretend to be. I’m just an experienced amateur raised in a family of committed DIYers. I try to closely follow local and national building codes but don’t mistake anything on this site to be professional or even accurate advice! Your mileage may and definitely will vary.

This is the third iteration of, from scratch-built to Drupal and now Wordpress. I hope you enjoy your time here.