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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!


I struggle to remember what life was like at the ripe old age of 18. Next week I will turn 28 and although it seems like ten years have flown by I also realize that 18 was such a different era that was eons ago. I have so few memories from back then. For example, I moved out of my mom's house at 17 and had an apartment with this loser whose name I will purposefully omit. It seems like I have a handful of memories in that place, but I spent the better part of a year living there. Shouldn't I have lots and lots of memories? In the picture above, I'm sitting outside my fourth apartment. You know what's going through my mind? Nothing. I was cruising. My whole life was spent in neutral just rolling around. I had no direction and didn't want any.

If I really think hard, I can remember what my days were like then. I woke up around 11:00 or so. I got around and ready to leave by noon or 1:00 and headed to China House where I picked up an order of chicken fried rice. This was my breakfast/lunch meal. Then, I would piddle around with whoever else was around to hang out with and then I went to work about 4:00 and worked until 10:00 or 11:00. I was absolutely rich because I made about $40 to $50 cash on a normal day in tips and I made about $1000 a month in salary on my paychecks. I only had about $500 in bills every month so after bills were paid I had anywhere from $1200 to $1600 a month to blow. And boy did I know how to blow it. After all, these were the days when filling up at the gas station only cost $10. Chew on that for a while.

Ten years have gone by and I like who I turned out to be. I had no idea I would wind up who I am now and I had no way to fathom being 28, but I'm very satisfied with how it all turned out. I just hope that the next ten years are slower than the last. I was always looking forward to something before. Now I'm content where I am, so maybe I won't wish my life away this next ten.

Big Bad Ford

Yet again the story of the Big Bad Ford being temporarily out of service must come to a close. On the upside, to those who like hearing tales of it's breaking down, the end of this saga is less like a "the end" and more like a "to be continued." After all, the hero in this series is a 1959 and is bound to come across all types of villians. For example, it has faced and defeated the evil Parts Discontinuer who has been steadily removing parts from the distributors re-order lists. It has also doubtedly seen the last of The Piece-of-crap Replacement Part-eers who continue to wield their crappy new stuff that doesn't hold up to the standards that the older, better, wiser part makers used. And, of course, let's not forget our hero's nemesis...Father Time. It would seem that there will be no end to The 59's strength and endurance, but Father Time is one patient old fart. I just want to smack that smirk off his smug face! But, our hero will win, I am confident. Good always wins over evil.

So, as always, with a little elbow grease and a few new gaskets, the Big Bad Ford is back on the road again terrorizing the average driver and intimidating all the others. Last weekend we managed to fill the bed with treasure. I felt like a Pirate boat Captain as we sailed the stormy seas of Springfield's streets. We would pull up next to a dumpster and practically toss our grappeling hooks over as we pillaged and plundered. There was much loot and bounty. Arr! We take and take and give nuthin' back! Ha ha!

In all seriousness, we really did have a good time getting a lot of free stuff during the yearly dumpster-diver fest. The Ford handled beautifully despite having only been back in running condition for less than an hour. So, all things are back to normal and the Valiant can go back to feeling neglected.

The Sweet Smell of Garbage

Well, it's that time again. Spring is here. The flowers are blooming. The air is warming up. And the dumpsters are filling up. That's right. MSU has been a gold mine for me year after year as these young college brats toss out everything their parents bought for their dorm rooms 9 months prior. See, today's average college student owns a lot of clothes and a large percentage of these students drive small cars. So, it's everything they can do just to make sure and leave for the summer with all their clothes. Everything else gets left in the dorm to be thrown out by those whose job it is to clean them or gets tossed by the students themselves. Either way, the dumpsters are filled up with some great household items that you didn't know you needed until they became available for free. I've yet to come across anything that's worth a lot of money, but that's not the point. I have many cherished posessions that came to be in my possession by finding them needlessly discarded amongst real garbage.

I was a little upset this morning when I found out that all three items that I intended to buy at Autozone today were not in stock. I called the store and the guy assured me that if I ordered them on my lunch break they could be delivered the day after tomorrow. I hope this is true, because the Big Bad Ford is down with it's head removed. Yes, you may have read the blog about three blogs ago, I think, that explained the problem with it. Well, I just got paid today so I need to pick up a head gasket, intake/exhaust manifold combination gasket, and valve cover gasket so that I can put the thing back together. Friday night is the graduation commencement ceremony and while some will leave directly afterwards others will drag their butts out of bed tomorrow and hustle out of town pretty quickly. So, Saturday marks the first and best day to load up. If the truck is not ready by Saturday, then we will be stuck driving a car. Cars aren't that great for dumpster diving. The Ford can park right next to a dumpster and all the good finds can be tossed over the edge without looking. It's pretty hard to miss a true 8 foot long bed.

So, here's a picture of the dismantled 223. If you blow this picture up by clicking on it then look at cylinder #6, which is on the far left, you can see a couple of pieces of what was left of the nut that fell down into the cylinder. The nut broke into at least three pieces and dinged the crap out of the piston head. It was great, though, to see that the piston was only cosmetically injured. There aren't any cracks and all the damage was easily ground down to be made flat again. The three pieces of the nut were embedded into the head of the piston. Two pieces popped right out when I levered them with the screwdriver, but one I had to cut a grove into to give the screwdriver a ledge to grip before it let go. Anyway, just another story for the old boy and another test of it's awesomeness!

One Tough Kid

Last night, Jacob pulled out his sixth tooth. He's really on a roll now and is looking more and more like a hockey player every day. I thought that I would share his preferred method of getting them out. Enjoy!

Warning: Long Pointless Blog!

I, always having been a fan of Bob Marley's music, have only recently delved into the meanings behind some of the statements made by the man. Whether in interviews I've heard or in the very lyrics of his songs, these statements went basically unnoticed by me and many others, I am sure. In my own experience, I have realized that music tends to overshadow lyrics. What do I mean by this? What I mean is that if a song has music that appeals to me, I may very well find myself liking the song, learning the song, and singing along to the song all before I ever start to consider the very words that I am singing. Surely you have found yourself doing this. For example, driving down the road you look over at a stoplight to see a bearded man singing along to No Doubt's "I'm Just A Girl", or maybe you witness a little kid singing along to "Don't You Wish Your Girlfriend Was a Freak like me?". My point is with music you will sing along many times over words and phrases that you wouldn't otherwise be caught speaking if they hadn't been put to a groovy beat.

Well, close to two years ago, I was listening to a local band named Jah Roots on a cd in which was given to me free of charge by the band after one of their local performances. The cd wasn't as good as the live show (which is usually the case). And, so, it brought more attention to what was being said since my living room where I was listening to it lacked the mindless ambience of the bar that the live show was held. So, finding it increasingly humorous the notion that these so-called Rastafarian Jamaican-accent carrying young men were really just a few white Parkview graduates that are about as cultured as any local cow you may find, I started to question what some of these words that they so aggressively repeated might mean. So, I start looking up these words. I basically find out that Rastafarianism is a religion. In fact, it's considered to be a religion by just about everyone but Rastafarians (they're very anti-religion). They carry many beliefs that make them stand out amongst other belief systems like the one that likens getting high on marijuana to getting closer to God. Furthermore, they believe that a past emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, is God incarnate. In other words, the messiah promised in the Bible to return. Of course, this emperor never claimed to be God. He was a member of a Christian church , in fact, that worshipped Jesus, but the Rastafarians saw the fact that he never claimed to be God as a sign that he really was. Hmmm... Now originally most Rastafarians believed that he was Jesus reincarnated. But, today, many believe that Jesus was merely a prophet and that this Haile Selassie I, was the Messiah.

Now, I have done a lot of research over the last couple years here and there reading about the subject. It turns out that Bob Marley wasn't really a Rastafarian. His wife was devout, apparently, and even claimed to have seen scars in Haile's palms the day he visited Jamaica in 1966, altough no other was able to support this. Also, it took an hour for Haile to be coaxed off the plane. He was fearful of the 100,000+ Rastafarians that had come to the airport to welcome his arrival. Doesn't sound like God incarnate to me, fearful of "his own" people. No, Selassie I was chosen to be worshipped by these people for another reason that I will touch on here in a minute.

I'm not trying to knock their belief system or anything, but it really is twisted in the biggest way. I like that they are spiritual and the music tends to be more worship-like than anything else with it's constant references to Jah, the Lord, and so forth, but there are still several songs that reveal a blatantly oblvious anti-Christian core belief. Let's take Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up" for an example. In this song the following lines reveal a non-belief in any religion that claims Jesus as a Saviour or the way to heaven. It also, clearly states that God is a living man. This is a reference to Sellassie I.

"Most people think, Great God will come from the skies, Take away everything And make everybody feel high. But if you know what life is worth, You will look for yours on earth And now you see the light", "We sick an tired of-a your ism-skism game -Dyin n goin to heaven in-a jesus name, lord. We know when we understand: Almighty God is a living man. You can fool some people sometimes, But you cant fool all the people all the time. So now we see the light (what you gonna do? ), We gonna stand up for our rights!"

I was reading some articles that told about the origins of this religion, and found out that a lot of the anti-Christian views were brought on by racist mistreatment. The Roman Catholic Church was to blame for most of this. In 1936, the Pope supported and expressed his admiration to Benito Mussilini who had just "conquered" Ethiopa. Ethiopia was taken by force for no other reason than the greed for power. Mussilini wanted to create a new Roman Empire and was willing to take any land he could. Mustard gas was used and no prisoners were taken (everyone sick or captured was executed) directly violating the Geneva convention. Knowing that the Pope supprted such massacres, it is no wonder that so many rejected anything about Jesus.
Sellassie I was driven into exile for about 5 years until taking Ethiopia back after Musslini's assassination. He wound up being one of the most political influential people in history according to Time magazine and was accepted by so many as a "Black Jesus". I read a pretty good article about this online that you can check out here if you're interested:

I'm such a talker that the first sentence to my last paragraph in every blog I write seems to start this way, but I'll still say it anyway: My point to this blog is... the only thing is that this time I don't really have a point. I just find the whole subject rather interesting since I have been listening to Rasta music for a long time. Though I heard the phrase "Selassie I" thousands of times in various Rasta music, I never knew he was a man who they are basically worshipping as God, Jah, or whatever they choose to call him. The fact is that he openly said that he was not God incarnate and was no one's saviour. He even tried to lead the Jamaicans to his Christian Orthodox beliefs during his 1966 visit, but they wouldn't listen. They were and are desperate for what God has for them, but they were offended by those who claimed Christianity and could not let go of their offense to see that the ones who did the offending were not properly representing Christ.

Baseball Blues

I was once a huge fan of baseball. And if you know me at all, then you are seriously doubting that last statement. Of course, I don't have anything against baseball now, I just can't care any less about any spectator sports. I love playing sports, but the idea of sitting and watching them is a habit in which I'd rather not form. There are enough things in the world for me to waste my time with. I don't need another.

Back to the point, I think that I was 11 years old. I played a full season and we were a good team. I'm not trying to brag here, but I was one of the better players on the team. We had been practicing for a few weeks before games started and I just knew that the Shortstop position was mine. Unfortunately, despite the fact that I was most qualified for the position, I also was most qualified as catcher. And when I say that I was most qualified as catcher, what I really mean is that I was the only one on the team that wasn't afraid of the wild pitches from our wild pitcher. I turned out to be the only kid that could actually catch the ball which so happens to be the main job of catcher, go figure. Our pitcher was a year older than the rest of us and at that age just one year has major advantages. His advantage: he could wing the ball twice as fast as anyone else. The disadvantage: you never really knew where the ball was going. Anyway, since I could catch the ball, our coach decided that I was the best candidate for catcher, despite my protests. I guess he didn't feel like developing anyone else for the job. I played the whole season as catcher except for one game, one inning, two minutes. It was our fourth game. It was the fifth inning. We were ahead by four runs. For whatever reason, coach had me take off my gear and give it to some other kid. He told me to play shortstop. I couldn't believe my ears. Here was my chance and I wasn't going to blow it. In short, the inning lasted maybe two minutes. Three batters, three outs. The first batter hit a grounder right past the pitcher that I ran and snatched up at about second base, and threw to first for the out. Second batter hits a fly ball out to center field. It was caught, second out. The third batter nails one between me and third base. This one was humming, but I barely got it in the end of my glove with a very dramatic leap. I was glowing. I just made two great outs in one inning. There was no way that coach was going to stick me back in the catcher position ever again. Not after that performance. Nevertheless, back to catcher I went never to return to the field. That was my first and last baseball season. The next year, the same coach called my mom to see if I would play, but I said "no" and said why. My mom relayed this and he promised that I would play another position, and so I got on the phone and told him "no" myself, much to my satisfaction. I told him that the game was no longer fun for me and that if I played again I would get stuck in some other postion that I didn't want and didn't deserve.

During this single year, I had spent every last penny that I could find on baseball cards. I specifically collected Nolan Ryan, Kirby Puckett, and Mark McGuire. I had 52 different Nolan Ryan cards and an autographed photo that he sent me after I wrote and sent him a letter explaining how I was his biggest fan. When in actuality, being that I was always small for my age, I was quite possibly his smallest fan. All in all I had about 3000 cards including 2 full sets of Topps cards for 1988 and 1990.

So, this last week I sold my entire collection of baseball cards and memorabilia to another Nolan Ryan collector in Florida. It was sad to see them go after almost 17 years. But, they'll bring a little joy for someone else, and they'll stop reminding me of my traumatic experience. The good news is that I took the money I received from the buyer and bought two mic stands that I will also use as light stands AND two softening reflective photography light umbrellas. Now I just need to buy the clamp light fixtures from Ace Hardware and some low-heat, high luminesence bulbs and I will have all the lighting that I need for Studio Living Room. What is Studio Living Room, you ask? It is my newest hobby turned business opportunity. I have increasingly gained interest in professional and artistic photography. I have had requests to photograph a couple of weddings coming up soon and I have my first studio session (that isn't my family) this next weekend. If the requests keep coming then I will purchase a digital SLR and acquire a business license which will make Studio Living Room an official entity. If you want to see some of my shots, check out my MySpace pictures. A link to my MySpace page can be found in the column on the right.

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