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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!

Pet Peeved

I've now been driving Jacob to school every morning since the beginning of the year and I've recognized a pattern. Almost every morning I silently deal with my frustration and refuse to act upon it. But, the tension builds. Luckily, I'm strong enough of a person not to let this tension cause me any problems. As a matter of fact, writing a blog about it helps.

You may be wondering what the source of my tension is. And, if you aren't then you must be extremely patient. But here it is. About one-third of the parents that drop off their kids at school at Weaver Elementary must think that they are better than the other two-thirds. As you can see from my funny little cartoon associated with this blog, what happens is that two-thirds of the parents pull over to the side of the road to let their kids out of the car. Since there is always a line of cars parked on the other side of the street it only allows for one vehicle to get through once this takes place. However, more mornings than not, these polite and considerate parents get blocked in by the impolite, inconsiderate parents that pull right up the middle of the road and stop to let their kid(s) out halting all traffic in both directions.

Now, the amount of wait time isn't usually too substantial once this act of indecency takes place. But, the act alone is not cool. Why do they think that it is appropriate for them to do this? It is painfully obvious that people need through and you know that they have to notice the piling up traffic that is staring at them and them alone waiting for the world to start rotating again. Nevertheless, it happens time and time and time again.

Maybe I'm over-reacting. Maybe I should do something to teach these inconsiderate drivers a lesson. Maybe I should bring a book and enjoy the time that they allow me to catch up on my reading. Maybe, I should print off some copies of this blog and hand them out to the drivers who do this? I like that idea. What do you think? What should I do? Or not do?

Human Interest Story

Last October one of my fellow employees here at SRC Heavy Duty Division passed away. His name was Ricky Alan Fender, known as Rick to his coworkers. I never really talked to Rick more than the usual, "where do you want this pallet?" and "are these ready to go?" back in my fork truck driving days which was eight years ago. But, like all my coworkers, I saw him everyday all over the plant. Still, I can't say that I knew him well or anything.

Earlier this week was Rick's birthday (4/22). In the morning production meeting with all the department heads and team leaders, Tom Harms brought to attention what he called a human interest story of sorts. According to Tom, every year on Rick's birthday Rick's sister would send him a box of cookies. This year, the first birthday since Rick's passing, a box of cookies arrived here at SRC. They were from Rick's sister addressed to the Crankshaft Department in which Rick worked for so many years.

It's difficult when a coworker dies. We work in an industry and a great company that tends to have long-term employees. I have very few friends that I have known as long as most of my coworkers. These are people that I have spent over forty hours a week with for eight and a half years. It's especially hard, because the job still needs to be done. So, while the company does do all it can to honor those that leave us in this manner, we have to get back to work and continue on. I wasn't around to witness the delivery of this box of cookies, but knowing the caliber of people in this company and more specifically this department, I can say that this box of cookies most likely brought as much sorrow as it did joy. It's good to remember those gone. And, though this story seems to be contained within the crankshaft department, everyone was touched by the gesture.

Happy Birthday, Rick.

Another Project

Another home project is set to begin in the very near future. We will be receiving an entire new guttering system. Complete with spouts that run where we need them to rather than out on the ground near the house where it won't go anywhere but in our basement. When it's a nice slow rain we don't see a problem, but like a lot of places in the Midwest, Springfield is not really known for its gentle rains. Rather, rain comes to us like we did something to anger it. Torrents of high powered H2O ammunition explode on everything. It's this type of rain that the lay of our property cannot handle. Huge puddles form and become stagnant. The water soaks into the ground right by the house and finds its way into our basement. Usually, it's only an inch or two of water localized at the low point in the basement floor at worst, but this spring has been a record breaking wet one. We've seen the entire basement wall to wall with over 5 inches of water twice.

We bought a sump pump which will solve the flooding problem, but I still need to break through a spot of concrete in the basement floor and then dig a hole and line it with a 5 gallon bucket in order to install it. And then, of course, I need to find a way to send the PVC out through the foundation wall. I don't have a drill for that job.

The new gutters will look nice, add value to our home, solve the flooding problem, get rid of our massive mosquito problem, and help put a little food on the table for the guy that does it, because I'm not doing it. I may get up there to install new soffit and fascia, but there's no way I'm going up there to install guttering. It would take me a week, and I'd be sure to screw up the angles. We'd wind up with an entire set of new problems. No, we'll have a professional do it who guarantees his work.

I'm really excited about getting rid of the mosquitoes. Our yard was plagued with them last summer. We felt like the Egyptians during Moses' campaign to "let his people go". Their presence was stemming from the breeding ground that is our current guttering system. Full of wet leaves, the current guttering system is a perfect haven for a mosquito to settle down, get married, and have a few thousand children. The new gutters will even have a leaf guard to help prevent any need of maintenance. And let me tell you, I like the idea of maintenance free.

Home Mortgage Early Payoff Calculator

Recently my home property tax went up. Because of this increase my Escrow was actually in the negative and needed to be caught back up. The bank in which I have my home loan through was gracious enough to give me a couple of options. I could either send them a check for the amount in which I was in the negative or if I didn't do anything they would just increase the amount of money required to go into Escrow every month for the next twelve months. This increase would pay back the amount that I was in the negative as well as cover the new estimated amount to cover my taxes at the end of the year. So, my payment went up.

I tell you all this to say that I realized there is a fault in the Home Mortgage Early Payoff Calculator that I built in Excel. I built it so that you enter in your Escrow amount, but did not make it so that you could change that amount anytime during your home loan. Well, I'm not sure what I was thinking. Of course taxes are going to go up and change my monthly escrow payment. My insurance may even increase or decrease from time to time also affecting my escrow payment. Well, I am sorry and I apologize to you folks out there on the information superhighway. I gave you a calculator that wasn't going to work for you very long. Like a McDonald's Happy Meal toy. And I'm no Ronald McDonald. I'm no clown. I don't hang out with burger burglars or large purple unidentified living objects. As a matter of fact, Jodi and I are still holding strong on our McDonald's boycott. I don't remember the exact date, but it's been around two and a half years. I'm getting off the subject.

So, I modified my original calculator and have put it up for download in the "Downloads" drop down menu found above. Please, download it and accept my apology. You will find that the escrow box is now a full column that allows you to adjust it's figure as your real escrow amount changes with time. Enjoy. And good luck on the early payoff!

I (insert non-biologically correct heart shape) Weekends

Well, I didn't get done as much as I was hoping to get done this weekend, but I did have a great weekend.

It began with a Friday night in which I got to relax, which is always nice. Then, Saturday at noon we took part in the March of Dimes walk at Jordan Valley Park. After the walk, they served hot dogs and chips, so we stuck around for that. We ran into Cheryl and Tonya who also walked, but due to the large amount of people involved we hadn't seen them until this point. So, we hung out with them for a while and kept up the tradition of being the last people to leave. I got a lot of really cool photos of the family as there are several good backgrounds there at the park. And, it was the first day since I've had my camera that we had green grass and blue sky, so I was excited to get some pretty colorful shots.

Afterwards, we walked down to S.T.D. Flea Market and spent a bunch of money and got a bunch of really cool stuff. We failed to realize, though, that we were going to have to cart all this stuff back a half-mile to where we parked the car. With Jodi carrying Lyric, we were able to load up the stroller and cart it all back. Though, to passersby I probably looked like a male version of a bag lady with that stroller piled high with flea market items. Overall, we spent way more time away from home than what I had originally intended. Not that I am complaining or anything. I had a lot of fun and it was a really beautiful day to do what we did. I even got a sunburn. Jodi, called me a redneck. I almost got done with the siding, too.

Tis the Season To Be Jolly

I'm so glad that it is warming up. I have so many things that I have wanted to do, but due to a short amount of daylight and a cold, bitter wind things have not been accomplished like I have wanted them. I need to finish siding the salon that was built a little over four months ago. I have the materials, but I haven't had a good day to do it. Tomorrow is Saturday and it's looking like it'll be a great day for it.

Jodi and I plan to take the boys, after Lyric's morning nap, to the March of Dimes walk at Jordan Valley Park. It starts at noon and according to it should be sunny and a warm 56 degrees. The walk is for two miles and so we'll be done by one o'clock. After we eat lunch, I'll get to work on the siding by two o'clock when the temperature should be up to about 61 degrees. With a high of 67, I should get a lot of it done if not the whole thing. That would sure be nice to get it all done, but I'm not betting the farm on it.

Then, next week looks good temperature-wise but there will be some rain scattered throughout the week. But, I'll still get some time in there to start pulling components off of and out of my truck. I'm going to start prepping it for lift-off. As you may know from previous blogs or just from me talking to you about it, I plan on taking the '59 Ford truck body off it's frame and placing it on the '92 Ford van's frame. It'll be a big project. I thought that I might find on the Internet that someone has already done it or something like it, but I haven't found anything of the sort. So, I also plan to fully document the transfer and make a step-by-step instructional web page for other people that want to give an old Ford a make-over.

This project will have many challenges, but in the end my '59 will have many modern conveniences that make it the best '59 Ford around. The modern advances that the truck will receive include power steering, power disk brakes, cruise control, an upgraded engine from a 223 straight-six to a 302 V8, an upgraded transmission from a Granny Low 4-speed Standard to an Automatic Heavy Duty Tranny with Overdrive, an upgraded modern lighter-weight frame better suited for towing, and a modern suspension package better suited for hauling and cornering. I'll also not have the gas tank behind the seat anymore as I'll use the van's gas tank as it is currently set to the underside of the frame. I've always felt like I was driving around with a 15-gallon Molotov Cocktail strapped to my back.

I'll also ditch the '59's broken and worn out bench seat for the perfect condition two vinyl bucket seats that the van sports. These advances will allow me to drive the truck on the highway without fear of engine explosion. The old Granny low tranny was not meant to drive at highway speeds. Also, anyone will be able to drive it. The old truck required the driver to be able to squat at least 250 pounds in order to press the brakes hard enough to stop it. All-around drum brakes are no longer adequate for today's stop-on-a-dime traffic. It also required an arm-wrestling champion in parking lots. With no power steering, it took forearms of steel to crank that steering wheel far enough to make the tight corners required in today's parking lots. And, it was not uncommon to have to make a line of cars wait as I executed a five-point turn to get out of a parking spot.

I know you can tell, but I'm very excited about getting my truck back in a condition that is way better than when I last drove it. So, what are you excited about with this new warmer season? Do you have big plans for this spring and summer?


Seriously? Is gas really $3.25 in Springfield? What on earth is going on? I hate to sound like an old man, but I remember a time when gas was 71 cents a gallon. And this was a time when I was driving and buying gas. It wasn't back when I was a toddler or anything.

I have to blame it on the President of the United States. When George W. Bush took office gas was $1.46 a gallon on average in the U.S. On average! That means it was more like $1.29 here in the lovely low-price region of Springfield, Missouri. And, if you'll remember, we were all hoping that it would go back down at that point. The reason I blame it on the President is for several known facts. They are: gas prices have gone up 252% since Bush has been President, general inflation is not even close to that number, Bush has ties to oil companies, the oil companies have reported huge record profits in the last few years, and we all know that the President has a lot of power to do something about this economical crisis and yet nothing happens. They had the oil executives in government court to explain why they have made so much money and yet they refuse to lower gas prices. But, still nothing is done about it. Could it be that the President is secretly (or maybe not-so-secretly) making money from his ties to the oil companies? I could definitely see the lack of motivation to lower gas prices if he's one of the many getting rich off them being so high.

We the people of the Unites States have been given all types of excuses as to why the prices have gone up. They ranged everywhere from Hurricane Katrina, to the war in Iraq, to heavy rains near the refineries in Texas. Heavy rains? As if they've never seen a lot of rain before. And yet they justified a 40% hike in gas prices to such a "disaster". But, somehow they still pulled off huge record profits during this period of "disastrous proportions". I don't recall anywhere in American history that gas jumped up that high, that quick for rain or any other disaster for that matter. And, why didn't the prices go back down after the water dried up? Last I checked, Texas was still a pretty hot and dry part of the country.

For whatever the true reasons are for the gas prices to be soaring to all-time highs, this guy is seriously considering riding my bike to work again. I did it for a while back in the day when I lived eleven miles from work. Surely, I have no excuse to be driving now that I live only 3.7 miles from work. Of course, it's supposed to rain tomorrow, so maybe I'll start next week. Always an excuse, right?

What about you? Is there anything that you'll do different now that the cost of gas represents a larger percentage of your paycheck?

So-Called Stimulation

The Economic Stimulus Plan of 2008. What a joke. Don't get me wrong, I'll enjoy the money that I get, but the fact of the matter is that there is no way possible that this will help the economy. All it does is increase inflation even more.

Let me put the economy into a nutshell for you. The government incurs a large debt from having overpaid unconstitutional programs that it can't afford. These programs are generally not opposed by voters because they bear some social give-away where the bulk of voters (the elderly) will benefit from. The government has to pay for these programs with money and so they have the Federal Reserve print them up some money to pay for it. No one regulates what the Federal Reserve does anymore and they openly admit that the money is no longer gold-backed so there is nothing in place to keep them from printing any denomination they wish. Now, by having all this new money floating around the economy, the economy seems to do well. People have more money, so more money gets spent. Lets take one small example for you to understand it better. Joe's employer gets more money due to this influx of money in the marketplace. Joe's employer provides a service for one of the companies that received the government contract to provide the social serving government program. Joe's employer gives Joe a raise finally since they can afford to. Joe takes his extra money and buys more shoes. The local shoe store that Joe shops at sees that more shoes are being purchased and signs a new contract with the shoe manufacturer to order more shoes per month. The shoe manufacturer purchases more machinery and hires new employees to deal with the increased sales. Then, the government has printed enough to pay their bills and the big company that had the contracts with the government are paid off and are no longer getting these payments. So, they quit spending. One of the places they were spending money at was at Joe's employer who provided a service for them. So, Joe's employer has to fire someone because (since everyone across the board got a raise) the company can no longer afford everyone's salaries. Joe gets the boot since he has the least seniority despite his education and experience on the job. Joe stops buying shoes and even takes back a pair that he hadn't worn yet. The shoe store owner is stuck with the new contract for all these shoes that people are suddenly not buying like they were last month. The shoe manufacturer raises their prices to offset the new equipment and workforce. The shoe store owner has to raise his prices to make sales numbers, but the taxes that he is paying on his new enlarged inventory hurts him financially. He has to let Jill, the check out girl, go. Everyone stops spending again. Unemployment goes up. Prices go up. And that's inflation.

In case you're wondering what happened to Joe, he ran into Jill in the unemployment line and fell head over heels in love. Joe and Jill got married a few months later in the judge's chambers since they couldn't afford a wedding. They continued to live off of unemployment and welfare and their four children were all born on Medicaid. The four children grow up in poverty and learn to steal from their fellow gang members to get "what they deserve" and three of the four wind up in prison. The fourth, named Jason, cleans up his act and gets a job working under a lobbyist who lobbies to do away with these society-destroying socialist programs that Jason's parents have always taken advantage of. Joe disowns Jason for this, but Jill disagrees. Joe and Jill get divorced over the deal. Jill gets all of Joe's shoes in the divorce. Not exactly a happy ending, I know. But, that's how I tell it.

Getting serious again, the government's answer to this period of raised prices and high unemployment and no spending is ironically the very thing that caused this in the first place. They'll print more money and bypass the whole trickle down system and just put it directly into the hands of the little guy. But, the same outcome will occur. When all the little guys spend their money, manufacturers will respond by thinking that they are prospering. They will buy more equipment and hire new employees, but when the money is spent and everything goes back to normal, prices will go up again to compensate for this new equipment and workforce. Way to think this one through, President Bush.

On the bright side, what do you plan to spend the money on?

Movie Review: Margot at the Wedding

Do not rent this movie. Do not download it. Do not purchase the DVD or the VHS. It was terrible. I've seen some bad movies in my day, but this one takes the cake. It was a horrible attempt at entertainment.

Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Jack Black team up to prove that they are have no ability to read a screenplay. Or they are in on a little secret that the rest of us don't know about. Maybe they're committing group career suicide and this is their form of self-affliction. It's really impossible to know.

I wanted to make sure and let eveyone that this movie blows. The only reason I decided to watch it was bacuase I thought that Jodi would like it since it was listed in the Comedy section. She didn't like it. And it wasn't funny. It didn't really even try to be funny. Funny and this movie don't even know each other.

So, this weekend if you are out to kill some time do it with a better movie than this one.

Fitness Update

Last week marked the mid-point of the Wellness Challenge. It's been six weeks since its start and there's only six left to go. They did weigh-ins last week to see how everyone is coming along on their goals. Tomorrow is when I am scheduled for my make-up weigh-in. I'm pretty excited. After all I am still carrying an unfair advantage.

Last week I was plagued with Type 2 Influenza. It began Monday and did not relent until early in the morning on Sunday. I absolutely hated the symptoms so, of course, I was glad to see them go. But I was also enthralled with the nature of their passing. I fell asleep Saturday night and woke up an hour later and had to go to the bathroom. I went but as I was walking I realized that all the symptoms I had were gone. Just like that.

Now this was no short list of symptoms. They included uncontrollable shivering, constantly fluctuating fever, sweating, discolored urine, pain in all movement, nausea, halucinations, and what felt like a big ball of yarn in my stomach that threatened to spew back out anything that came in it. They were all there when I fell asleep Saturday night, but an hour later when I woke they were all gone. It was definitely God healing me. No gradual getting better for me. He wanted me at church Sunday morning and I got to go.

I haven't weighed myself so I don't know how much weight I've lost, but I'm thinking that it's going to appear that I've been doing quite well with my workout.

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