Sunday, July 28, 2013

Adirondacks 7 and 8 and Other Important News...

My Furlough Friday got thrown out of whack this week due to important meetings I needed to participate in.  I first learned about a meeting I had to attend on Friday, so I thought - no big deal, I'll just do my Furlough day on Thursday.  Then Wednesday evening I got a call telling me I needed to be at a meeting Thursday morning.  So, long story short, I worked 4 hours (that I'll confess to) on Thursday, and 4 hours (that I'll confess to) on Friday.  Total gas savings by not having to go into work one day a week?  Do the math.
Wednesday afternoon, we applied the UTSA decals to the Cornhole sets then did the first several coats of PolyCrylic (see the update with pictures here).  That allowed me time to cut out the Adirondacks that I had drawn out prior to the Cornhole project taking over. 
After cutting things out, I still needed to drill holes and sand, but that would have to wait until Thursday evening.  Thursday also gave me a chance to put the final coats on the Cornhole boards and they were ready for action Friday evening when the kids all came by.
I'll spare you the details and the pictures since you've now memorized how these things go together, but I was pretty happy to have everything assembled Saturday morning.  All I needed to do was prepare the chairs, then stain them.  Thanks to a reader named Roy (and several other folks) who said I needed to use the Minwax pre-stain preparation, I was really pleased with how these chairs look.
After the easy preparation steps, I commenced to staining.  And it didn't take me more than a second or two to look at the can of stain, then walk into the garage and look at the empty can I had from the previous chairs.
Oops.  I guess when I bought another quart of stain, I picked up Cedar Natural Tone.  I have done the previous chairs with the Redwood Natural Tone.  Oh well, we can all use a little variety.
After two coats, they look great, but this is what they look like next to their darker cousins.
I'm perfectly happy with how they came out, especially considering the much more even tone with the use of the preparation product.  Looks like I'll need two more in the cedar tone, just to keep things even.

In other news... Am I the only person who gets tired of people parking like idiots and/or leaving shopping carts in parking spots rather than taking them to the little cart corral?  On Saturday, we had to run into San Antonio to get some chemicals for the jacuzzi.  I had already emptied it before I realized I was out of some stuff. 

Anyway, the first thing that happened was that this big truck pulled in next to me as I was pulling out of the parking spot when Eva remembered I needed to grab a rebate coupon for some of the stuff I bought. 
 So I walked back in the store and saw what an inconsiderate jerk this guy was to anyone needing to use the only handicap parking spot at the place.  I mean, how do you not get out of the truck and realize what a jerk you are being?
When I pulled out, I got this shot as well.  Hey, I drive a truck too and I know how hard it is to park at times.  In Texas, they ought to have a law against parking spaces only big enough for those stupid little smart cars.  But come on, this is just inconsiderate.  I guess his thought was that with those white stripes, the person could park there.  But if you notice, the ramp for a wheelchair is located in the white lines.  San Antonio is home to a HUGE population of wounded warriors who spend a lot of time recovering and getting back to health, and we have a huge population of retired vets.  Do everyone a favor and park nicely.
Oh, and the other day in Devine, I had to run into True Value (or Ace, whichever), and some complete jerk just parked his truck in the road.  I was standing in line at the register and did not see who it was, but several other people in line were all looking at each other with that strange blinking eye routine as if to say, "is this happening?"  I didn't stay around to see who the culprit was, but I did watch the news to see if a small town posse had shot and/or whipped the guy's ass.  No such information on that evening newscast.

Why are people so lazy and such assholes?  We had to run into Lowe's to grab one little item so I was going to park, and let Eva sit there and gab on the phone while I ran in.  The parking lot was crowded but I could see open spaces so I would pull down the first aisle, and the first open space I saw, some jerk had parked over the line.  So I see another, go down the next aisle, and someone has left a shopping cart in the empty space.  This same thing goes on until I finally give up and park half way across the parking lot from where I started.  The only consolation was that there were no obvious discarded poopy diapers littering my path to the entrance of the store. 

Have I become that cranky old guy who just needs to stay at home and build chairs?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ready For Football: Cornhole Set... With Update..

I had been yammering on and on about the Adirondack project so much to ne of my friends at work, he hinted that I might consider another fun project to keep from getting bored with it.  Of course, on Friday, I spent the entire day cutting the boards for another set of chairs, but on Saturday and Sunday, my son and son-in-law helped me with a project to build not one, but two sets of cornhole boards.

Okay, so for those not familiar with this popular tailgating game, the gist of it is, horse shoes, but instead of tossing horse shoes at stakes, you toss bean bags at boards with a hole in it.  Need more detail than that, try this web page where I downloaded a complete guide for building the cornhole set.

First off, let me say that this little project was actually more expensive than building a pair of Adirondack chairs.  Also, it looks so very simple, and in terms of skills needed, it is a very basic project, but the three of us spent quite a bit of time cutting, sanding and painting, and after two days, it isn't completely finished.  Having said that, I think this is something that we will appreciate for years to come.  I'm certain anytime we have a family outing, we'll play a little cornhole, and of course, I can just imagine any sporting events where we feel the need to bust out the big screen outside, we'll do some cornholing.

Also, my wife has said the word "Cornholio" at least 50 times this weekend, since that is an official term in the game. 
So for two complete sets, we started off with a really well sanded 4 X 8 sheet of quality 1/2 inch plywood, cut into for 24" X 48" sections.
We also cut 2 X 4's to create a frame, and legs for the boards.
One of the slow parts was the cutting of the hole in the board.  Here's the deal; if you screw this up, you just wasted a fairly expensive piece of wood.  I know, your main question is, why is there a plastic flower on our lumber?  Multiple projects at once.
After building the frames, the next step was to mount the boards to the frames.  We used glue, then a bunch of screws.  What isn't obvious from the picture is the fact that we had to countersink the screws so we could use wood filler to make the playing surface completely smooth.
 The front legs had to be mounted to the boards, and each of the legs had to be measured and cut to size.  In reality, this was the one area where the instructions took us down a different, and I submit, rockier path than if I had just figured it out on my own.  You can see how the leg is rounded.  This allows you to fold the leg flat for storage.  Great idea.
But the method they described for measuring everything left us all thinking it was wrong.  And in fact, in the end, I don't think any of our legs were exactly the same.
As Taz and I assembled them, Tyler worked the wood filler magic.
From there, lots of sanding ensued.
And then we had to put on a good coat or two of primer.  Seriously, the painting was the most expensive and time consuming part of the project.
With the primer dry, we got started with our colors.  Our theme is UTSA Roadrunners.  There are some people who suggest making the boards opposing colors, but we liked the idea of making them the same, orange back ground with blue trim.
 With the background dry, we started on the blue sides.  This was about as far as we could get on Saturday.
On Sunday, we continued the boarder on the playing surface just to spiff it up. and then, we had the issue of painting an outline around the hole.

After lots of contemplation, I took a Frisbee we bought for Gracie and cut it into a ring I could paint through.  I have no idea why the board looks yellow, but it just does.

After some sketchy moments of painting, it looks reasonably okay.  We plan to let it all dry overnight, then do some sanding to get any imperfections out of the surface.
We also ordered some custom UTSA Roadrunner Logos from ZGrafix in Devine.  We'll get them on Tuesday and can apply them.  I think having the large Roadrunner logo centered in the middle will really add to it.

From there, we'll do a coat of Minwax Polycrylic to cover the whole surface and make it nice, smooth and shiny.  Or we may use a spray automotive clearcoat.  Still haven't decided.  I'll post a final picture when we wrap it up and start tossing cornholios!

UPDATE: We got the UTSA Roadrunner logos and applied them followed by seven coats of the Minwax PolyCrylic product.  
I was worried that it seemed to go on very thin, but after one sanding and a final few coats, the surface is fantastic.   This was an expensive project but the results were well worth the cost and the hard work. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Daily Deer...

I drove through a little bit of rain on my way home from work this afternoon but by the time I got to the house, it was nice and humid, but the ground was extremely dry and in need of a quick mow.  Sow I whipped out the mower and commenced to get at it.
This is me, taking a lap around the lot and in front of the deer cam aimed at the back fence. 
And this big cloud of sand explains why I seem to have lungs full of dust.
And this is what I found when I remembered that I should check the deer cam.  Que cute.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Recent Flat Tire Experience...

I actually stole the post title from Blogonomicon who saw my FB post and recounted his own experience, so I figured I would use his title and link to him.  Anyway, just let me tell you about it - and I promise, this story will eventually involve food.

So I never leave work for lunch - maybe a rare occasion for a going away luncheon or something like that, but today I forced myself to plan on attending an organizational picnic by not bringing my own lunch to work.  But this is not where the food comes in because I never actually made it to the picnic.

I walked out to my truck in the parking lot and could see from several rows away that my driver's side front tire had to be completely flat, since the whole truck was dipped down like one of those low riders with hydraulics.   And as soon as I walked up to it, it was clear the thing was flat as a pancake.

I have to admit that, my first thought was to call a tow company, but since I'm not a Triple-A member or anything like that, I just said, screw it, I know how to change a tire.  My immediate concern was that I would have a hard time getting the spare down from under the truck or worse, that I would not be able to get the lugs off with the provided lug wrench.  I recalled a time when several years ago, I tried to help some lady with a flat, and her lug nuts were not coming off, and that was with me and another big guy trying together.

But I'd be luckier today.  First off, the F-150 has one of those little crank down things that allows you to lower the spare tire onto the ground without having to crawl under the truck and unscrew lug nuts.  Yay!

Next, before I even busted out the jack, I loosened each of the lugs and was pleased that it would all work out.  Then I got the jack out and commenced to raise the truck.  I really did not even think to take a picture of the tire totally flat on the ground before I raised it, but trust me,  F-L-A-T.
Let me state for the record, these jacks are probably one reason why you should just call a tow truck.  I had this ugly feeling the entire time I was raising the vehicle and especially when I removed the tire that the thing would collapse.  Oh, and Kudos to the person who parked next to me for not parking right on the line, or I would have never been able to get it done.

So here's the thing.  I was dressed in slacks, shirt and tie and I also had two meetings in the afternoon that I couldn't miss, so getting greasy and dirty was not a great idea.  I did have several people stop and ask me if I needed help, but I guess I feel like it is a manly thing to change your own tire rather than sit back and watch some young whipper-snapper do it for me.  And there will be time for that in a few years.
So this is what your spare tire looks like if you have never lowered it down to wash it before.
And this is what your spare tire looks like if you have never checked the air pressure. In case you can't tell, it is not flat, but certainly very low.
So, I skipped the picnic, drove down Military Drive to Tiger's Tire Shop and got hooked up.  While he was fixing the hole in my tire and all that, I ran in the bathroom and took a nice spit bath to get all the dust and grease off my hands.

So I look at the clock and realize that I have to be back in my office for a meeting in 15 minutes and having not eaten at all, I decided to run through McDonald's and get one of those Spicy McChicken's and a cheese burger off the $1 menu.

And this is when the real fun started.  I got back on to Highway 90 and was shoveling sandwiches down my throat to finish eating before my meeting, and suddenly, I realized that I was sort of choking.  I coughed a time or two, then that was it.  I was driving about 75 and realized that I could no longer breath.  I tried to do that little maneuver where you calm down and try to just muscle the hunk of burger clogging your throat either up or down.  And that's when I really realized that I really could not breath.  And  I was driving 75 down a highway.

It does not take long for you to imagine that your vision is starting to narrow or that you might be in a sticky situation.  I mean, who the hell chokes on a burger while they are driving?  If I die in a tragic car accident, I want it to involve drinking or texting or both.  At least then, people can say, What an idiot, but not laugh at me for eating and driving and choking.  These are the things you imagine when you start to see that bright light forming at the off ramp to Acme Road.

And that is when I used my steering wheel to perform the Heimlich maneuver on myself, and subsequently sent a chunk of a triple cheeseburger into my dashboard.  It only took one good thrust to the gut but I couldn't help looking over at a mini-van next to me and trying to imagine what the kid staring at me was thinking I was doing by forcing myself into the steering wheel.  Did he think I was listening to some Salsa music and I was trying to do some sort of weird form of twerking?

I am concerned but in a way, comforted that my life did not flash before my eyes.  I suspect this was just a minor little scare intended to remind me to slow down and stop worrying about the little things.  I was actually a minute early for my meeting, and when I walked in, several people were drinking beers.  I'm sure my Spicy McChicken would have been welcome.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Two At The Same Time...

I think this is how I'll do it from now on.  It just made sense that I could trace the boards, make the same cuts one right after another and then assemble the chairs simultaneously.  And what a way to spend my first Furlough Friday.

Just a brief note about the furlough situation.  I am a civil servant so, as you may have seen on the news, I am among the multitudes of folks taking one day per week of unpaid vacation.  For me - I can only speak for myself - I would have preferred the government had simply cut my pay by 20 percent and told me to take it or leave it.  The truth is, thankfully, I am in a position that my pay as a government civil servant isn't my only source of income., and frankly, we can adsorb this hit easier than many of my co-workers.

What is hurting me is the impact and stress I have on doing a 50 hour a week job in only 32 hours.  I am forbidden by federal law from working a minute over 32 hours per week, and honestly, in spite of what you may think about government civil servants, my wife can tell you that I don't do my 8 hours a day - and done.  What it amounts to for me is, on Monday, I'll go in with even more to catch up on and only 32 hours to do it in. 
But, all this free time gives me more time to hone my skills on these chairs.  And after tracing two sets of wood, I commenced to cutting.  That took me most of Friday morning.  If you notice on the picnic table there is a plastic license plate.  I used that as a template for drilling the holes on the chair slats.  That sped things up a bit.
With experience, I have also added a few little tricks to make it all go faster.  You'd be amazed at how much time is saved by having the screws all set in the pieces before assembling.  I've also learned a thing or two about sanding.  On some of the previous chairs, I have sanded every edged and surface.  Understanding what is visible after assembly has helped me to better use my time on the parts that touch the body or can be seen, and spend a lot less time on the parts that won't see the light of day.
On Saturday morning while the sun wasn't blaring down, I started assembling the chairs side by side.

And before long, things were taking shape.   Eva calls this the "shooting the bird" phase.
I have to tell you, these seat backs came out very good.  I've gotten it down to a science I think, and I told my daughter (5 & 6 are for her), that these were easily the most comfortable yet.
Of course, I waited until they were finished to try them out.  This evening, I sanded them one final time to remove the pencil marks and now they are ready for paint.  Instead of stain, she is going to go with a paint scheme that will look rustic.  I'll post a picture when she is done.

I already have the wood for the next set of two (Eva would like at least 8 chairs for Stoney Island), but I think I may have to take a break and try a different project just to shake things up.  Next, I think we are going to try to build the Cornhole boards.  You can see the concept here.