Category Archives: Life

Never Had a Dog

Never had a dog
(never wanted a dog
as you will see)
but that is not to say
that dogs did not have me.

A very early memory
I must have been three or four
I was laying flat on the sidewalk
in front of Susie McKee’s place
my shoulders pinned down
by the huge dog
its big black muzzle
ready to bite my face

The older kids, all standing around
as I screamed, terrified…
why weren’t they rescuing me?

I obviously survived
as this memory attests.
So whoever you were
and whoever your big dog was
you’re all forgiven
none of you knew what to do
and your big dog too

A few years later, I met Barney
the dark and stormy
cocker spaniel
He lived across the street
and barked at me relentlessly
and chased my bicycle
and every other kid’s bicycle
and all the passing cars
until one day he was run over
and I was relieved.

Of course I grew up
and coped with dogs
and avoided dogs
and even petted dogs
and spoke to them
so patronizingly.

I pretended to like them
always trying to figure out
how to forge some uneasy truce
before there could be
any misunderstandings
because you never know.

For every nine houses on the block
four have dogs and five do not
and those who do
are likely to have two.
Furious furry forces of nature
waiting for you
when you knock at the door
programmed to pounce
ready to chew.

Sure, the pup who claws
its way to your heart
is just a cute ball
of muscular fuzz
with four paws
and two jaws
but he doesn’t bite
he never does
says the owner
holding the leash tight.

Here I must pen
the inevitable end
of this poetical blog:
you and I may be friends
but my hand does not extend
to your obnoxious dog.

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Asked and Answered 3.1

Click to Use CalculatorTwo years ago, I posted an article here called Why Frames Tilt Forward, explaining why the top of a picture frame tilts away from the wall and what one should and should not do to address this.

The mistake that most people make (and a remedy that even some frame shops prescribe) is to fasten the wire tightly across the frame so that there is almost no slack in it.  But as I pointed out in my article, this can put considerable strain on the wire and the frame when the picture is hung.

If you don’t believe that a professional framer would make such a mistake, let me share a little story.  We recently took a favorite picture of ours to a local frame shop for reframing so that it would better suit our décor.  It was a large frame, about 46″ wide and 34″ high.  When we picked up our frame, I noticed how taut the wire was, and I mentioned this fact to the owner.  I also told her about my blog post on this topic.  She seemed disinterested.

Rather than argue with her, I decided I would rewire it when I got home.  As I was carrying the frame into our bedroom by its wire (the only practical way to carry such a large piece), the wire snapped and the corner of the frame hit the floor.  Luckily, I was carrying it only eight inches or so above the floor and, luckily, the floor was carpeted; otherwise, the frame or the floor or both would have been damaged.   Rest assured, I was not carrying the frame in such a way that it bounced around and tested the wire.

I rewired the frame with my own hardware, my own wire and according to my own rules, and I am confident that it will now not fall, bend or break.

On our next visit to the framer, I told this story to the owner, who remained unconcerned. Her response was that a frame should not be carried by its wire.  Apparently, she was not  familiar with the concept of a safety factor.  I thought her excuse was as flimsy as her wire.

Clearly, this frame shop is winging it.  They are content to string a wire across the frame and call it a day.  They are not mindful of physics — and they will not have a second chance to demonstrate this to me.

So… how do you know whether your frame shop is using their heads?

• • • •

But enough of cautionary tales.  In Why Frames Tilt Forward, I suggested that one way to achieve a low-tilt and low-tension installation is to use two wall hooks and 45° wire angles  (see figure below).  My instructions, however, were not so easy to follow — I know, because I tried to follow them myself.  The main difficulty was figuring out exactly how much wire to cut, something my instructions had not spelled out.Two Hook Frame Hanging Diagram

This is an ideal application for an online calculator — no fancy math, just basic geometry.  So, to help my readers, I have programmed my formulas into the wiring calculator below.  The user enters the outside dimensions of the frame (W and H), the size and position of the D-rings fastened to the frame (D and V), and the desired distance from the top of the frame to the bottom of the wall hook (Z).  The calculator returns the vertical position of the D-rings (Y), the spacing of the wall hooks (X), and the length of wire to cut, which includes two inches at each end for making knots.  To make things easier, some default values are suggested and results are rounded to the eighth-of-an-inch.

Notice that my illustration suggests the use of D-rings as well as double-nail wall hooks.  D-rings are preferable to screw-eyes because D-rings lay flat against the back of the frame, reducing the propensity for the frame to tilt forward.   And the wide base of double-nail wall hooks can help distribute the lateral forces associated with a two-hook installation.  More on this in my upcoming post, The Physics of Picture Hanging.

In my low-tilt, low-tension scheme, the D-rings are placed one-fifth of the frame height below the wall hook.  The wall hook spacing and the wire length follow directly from this.  However, if the calculated wall hook spacing is less than one-third of the D-ring spacing, the calculator suggests values for a one-hook installation instead.  In the one-hook case, the wire angle varies with frame height, but the angle will be at least 33° above horizontal.

Click CALCULATE after editing your entries to view the installation instructions.

In a two-hook installation, there may be less slack in the wire than you expect.  To avoid frustration, try this: center the frame over the left hook and engage the wire into the hook, then shift the frame all the way to the right and engage the wire into the right hook.

I must end with a disclaimer.  This calculator makes it easy for a person to hang a picture with low forward tilt by using two hooks and 45° wire angles.  But whether this method is suitable in your situation is a judgment only you can make.  You bear full responsibility  for your installation.  I provide this calculator as a convenience but I assume no liability for damage of any kind, even if the suggestions offered in this post are followed exactly.

With that out of the way, happy hanging.  Returning readers may click the calculator icon at the top of this post to go directly to the calculator app.  Your suggestions and feedback are always welcome.

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This is one of my rare open-ended posts. If you were to write and direct a play…

… would it have a happy ending?
… would it be an entertainment, or would it make a point?
… if the latter, what point would it make, what lesson would it teach?

Your thoughts are valued and enlightening.

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