Sunday, January 15, 2017


Winter has arrived. On the mainland half the country has ground to a halt in a snowstorm. Here on Okinawa we have 14-17 degrees, windy with grey skies and rain showers. It honestly feels more like autumn than winter to me; sad and lonely, but also peaceful.

We've had a string of bad news in the family lately, and that doesn't improve the mood of course. But brooding about things doesn't help. We had to get out of the house for a while so we drove down to the seaside in Itoman south of Naha. There's a couple of good farmers' markets there, and a large beach area with a fairly good lunch restaurant.

Sun beach in Itoman.

It's not that cold, so quite a lot of people visit the seaside even now. They're walking their dogs, playing, doing sports or just taking in some fresh air and scenery.

A visitor came by as we were having lunch.

A different kind of bird. Naha airport and a Japanese air force base are both just north of here and the landing flight path goes right along the coast. Have to come here for airplane pictures one day with better weather.

A hotpot is great comfort food when you're feeling cold and miserable. A good hotpot will warm your heart and your stomach alike.

We're still worried, but the fresh air and change of scenery did wonders to improve our mood. Just like this winter weather, things will eventually pass.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Banana Desk

We had a great time over the New Year holiday in Osaka! Lots of eating and drinking of course — I gained 3kg over those ten days — but we also did a lot of errands, now that we were back in a big city again.

One of those errands was to get an extra Gerton desk leg from IKEA. I got a desk from IKEA before we moved. A cheap one, where you get legs and a surface separately and just assemble them. Mostly this desk has worked fine, except for one thing:

Banana desk.

Yes, the surface is bending, and bending quite a lot. It's in no danger of breaking or anything, but it's a bit annoying. The real solution would have been to get a solid wood surface from somewhere, but that's expensive and heavy. Instead, I opted to add a fifth leg to the desk.

It would have been easy, but IKEA is a very clever company and knows how to make things cheaper more than anybody. These desks aren't solid at all. It's a wooden frame with leg supports in the corners, then rigid sheets of laminate on the top and bottom. The box construction should make the desk fairly strong, but it means the interior is mostly filled with nothing as far as I can tell. And "nothing" is not a great material for wood screws to get a grip in.

I glued a piece of plywood to the underside of the desk, then screwed the screws through the plywood and into the desk.

The solution is to glue a wooden support piece to the bottom, then fix the leg onto that instead. I got a scrap piece of 15mm plywood at the Makeman shop in Urasoe, and cut off a 17×17cm square. Wood glue is very strong and the force from the leg is almost all directed inwards, but I figured that if the screws went in through the desk bottom it would help keep the piece steady until the glue set. With a 15mm thick board the screws stick out almost another centimeter, giving me a solid joint.

The desk with its extra leg. It still needs to bend back just a little more, but that will take some time.

It will take a few weeks for the surface to bend back fully; I've adjusted the length of the middle leg twice already and I'll probably adjust it once or twice more before it's completely level. Once it is level, though, it should be completely stable.  A fun little post-holiday project.