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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!

World Cup 2010

I'm not a very big spectator sport person. I love sports but my love for them is in playing them not watching others play them for me. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm not saying that. I just don't really care about them.

This puts me into a somewhat unique place among male social circles. See, it's no big secret that men don't talk to each other near as much as women talk to each other. I even heard once that an average woman will speak 4 to 5 times as many words per day than the average man will. I can believe that. Men, don't talk a lot. But, when they do, one of the old trusted subjects is sports. Men will even talk to complete strangers about sports. Salesmen commonly use it to break the ice when meeting new clients. It's almost a universal male tool to get a conversation started, to save one that is losing steam, or to fill an awkward silence.

Unlike a lot of guys, I quietly bow out of the conversation when it turns to sports. Guys will start naming names, throwing stats around, describing plays, etc. I even see the types of guys that probably never played a sport in their life chatting away about batting averages, quarterback blitzes, and personal fouls. Not me. I commonly get caught off guard when I'm not aware of what professional sport is playing currently. The following dialogue is real and has occurred more times than I can count:
Average Joe - "You gonna watch the big game this weekend?"
Me - "No, I'm not really into football."
Average Joe - "I was talking about the fifth game of the World Series."
Me - "Oh."
The two exceptions to my lack of interest in sports is when I either A) know someone personally in the game that I am watching, or B) it's a World Cup year. And 2010, is the year. Beginning June 11th and ending July 11th will be 64 of the most watched games in the world. Each one will have more people watching it than any one of the 44 Super Bowls. It's the largest sporting event on planet Earth. Its fans must wait four years from one to the next, but in June the wait is over. Among the millions watching, I, Lord willing, will be.

A tradition that I began eight years (two World Cups) ago was to keep a record of the outcome of every game played. Eight years ago, I downloaded and printed a bracket and tediously wrote down every game result and tabulated the points and goals for and against. Four years ago, I found a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that all I had to do was plug the scores of the games in. The calculations were done for me. This year I was forced to modify an old 2006 spreadsheet to use for 2010 because I couldn't find any good ones. I found one that worked well enough, but was not very user friendly, even for an Excel geek like myself. Another, looked great, but failed to function properly.

Here is a link to the spreadsheet in case you would like to follow along with me. Let me know if you find any formula mistakes and I'll take a crack at repairing it. Thanks,

CFL Bulbs Don't Come In Green

I've blogged already about how I don't like compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL's). In the blog I questioned whether the bulbs were as "green" as they were being made out to be. I feel like my arguments at the time were pretty good, but I was missing a huge component in my case against the little pig-tailed bulbs. Until now...

Earlier this week, I spotted a headline in the News-Leader that read, "Broken fluorescent bulb cleanup requires caution". It was a 'Dear Heloise' column. If you are not familiar with who Heloise is, then you are probably unfamiliar with reading the newspaper. Heloise, according to her website, is America's premier hintologist whose columns appear in over 500 newspapers in both the United States and internationally. I wasn't aware of that before finding her website, so stop making fun of me. I was also previously unaware of the science of hintology.

Bear in mind, that it was my opinion before having read this article that CFL bulbs were worse for the environment than their more traditional incandescent counterparts. But this article really drove the nails into the CFL coffin for me. It reads as follows:
If a compact fluorescent lamp or bulb accidentally breaks, what do you do? The glass is very delicate and can shatter easily if dropped or even handled roughly when being removed from the socket. The bulbs contains a small amount of powdered mercury, so caution is needed for cleanup.
Follow these cleanup guidelines:
    Open a window for ventilation for at least 15 minutes before starting cleanup.
    Do not handle the pieces with bare hands; wear protective disposable gloves.
    Place the pieces in a plastic bag and then into another one, and use duct tape to pick up the tiny fragments.
    Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels, and place the towels in the bag, too.
    If the area where the bulb broke is carpeted, you can vacuum the carpet, but you must immediately remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the vacuum bag in with this other bulb trash. Do not vacuum hard floor surfaces.
    Check with your trash company or call your recycling center for specific disposal directions. As a general rule, fluorescent bulbs can be put in the trash for pickup or taken to the dump if your state and local regulations allow. Or, check for a recycling center near you.
Let's continue to help the environment and go green!

So, let's condense and review, shall we? A broken CFL bulb is so toxic that we must go to some extreme cleanup measures in order to protect ourselves. A single broken bulb will add to the landfill a pair of disposable gloves, two plastic bags, some duct tape, some paper towels, and possibly a vacuum bag not to mention the mercury that you "cleaned" up. Also, if you must open a window for ventilation for 15 minutes, how much more energy are you using to reheat or recool your home? Also, the CFL bulb is much more complicated than the simple incandescent bulb and uses considerably more energy to produce. Furthermore, the CFL bulbs are not made in America. Patriotism aside, the CFL bulbs require much more energy to be shipped here compared to the American made incandescent bulb.

Make no mistake, CFL bulbs are in no way more green than incandescent bulbs. Rather, their huge Sasquatch carbon footprint and their toxicity make for a very ugly weapon to the environment. The use of CFL bubls remind me of the people who preach to recycle but are so eager to recycle, in fact, that they never reuse anything. The motto goes: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Which means we must first focus on the former and only use the latter as a last resort.

The CFL bulbs claim to use less energy, which may be true but the cost of the energy they use before they are ever installed in your home coupled with the cost of their environmentally toxic impact negate any energy savings they may offer during usage.

Pizza Delivery Tip #3

Take care of your vehicle and it will take care of you.

I'm sure that you've heard this phrase before. Usually it comes out of the mouth of an older man, but I am getting up there so I almost fit the profile. This advice doesn't come from age so much as it does from experience. A bad one, to be more specific.

I was 18 years old and was driving a car that I really liked. It was a 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais. It was a two-door, five speed manual transmission, 2.5 liter 4 cylinder. It was nice.

It's fatal end came one night when I was delivering a pizza to a subdivision near the intersection of CC and 65 highway. I had taken NN, or "old 65" depending on how long you've been around, and was driving carefully, or so I had thought. The weather had been terrible all night. It was winter and we had been receiving some form of precipitation all day. The sky was sleeting, snowing and dropping freezing rain on us at different times.

I had just passed the Catholic Church when the road ever-so-slightly curves to the left. It's a bend that could easily be taken at 200 miles per hour in dry conditions, but this night was anything but that. I had subscribed to the wisdom that a front-wheel-drive car should have the best tires on the front so that it can get traction. I'm sure some of you have heard this.

When I started to make the curve to the left my back end slid out to the right and before I could react I had already passed the point of recovery. The rear of the car made it's way completely around till I was going backwards. I had tried everything I could think of in those couple seconds repeatedly and nothing was bringing me out of it. The inside of the car started to light up as if the dome light was slowly coming on, but it wasn't the dome light. Still going backwards, I turned to see two headlights headed right for me. I quickly turned back into my seat and braced myself for impact by pushing as hard as I could against the steering wheel with my head pressed into the back of the seat. I even had the foresight to slightly bend my elbows so that I might not break my arms. The moment was no doubt just a second or two, but I remember every detail of it and wondering what was taking so long and that maybe the car had slipped by.

I woke up with the radio blaring. I was cold. I couldn't move much. I couldn't figure out why I was just sitting in my car. I just sat there for a little while. I'm not sure how long. I was staring at my dash near the passenger side and was trying to mentally process what I was seeing, but was having trouble doing so. Finally, I saw that the dash was split wide open. While I was shocked at this observation, I noticed that the instrument panel looked different. I saw the cracks, but there was something else that made it look different. It eluded me for a second, but then I realized that the steering wheel was no longer in the way of me seeing it. Then, it all came rushing to me. I had been in an accident.

The Ford Bronco II that hit me couldn't get the traction to stop. He tried to avoid me, but I was taking up the whole road. I had spun 270 degrees by the time we collided, so the front of his truck hit my car squarely between my driver's door handle and the front bumper. The impact pressed the door so far in that it left me pinned between the door and the console. The steering column broke from the sideways force to the front axle and when it did all the force I had exerted on the steering wheel made me push it through the windshield. The windshield was spider-webbed throughout but there was a hole with the steering wheel still in it. The top part of that hole had two round cutouts where my hands had been when it smashed through it.

Another detail that I'll never forget was the look on the Bronco owner's face when I looked at him. I had not yet realized what was happening when I looked out my driver's door window that no longer was there because my head had gone through it. He was standing out in the middle of the road about 15 feet from me. He was looking the opposite direction of me when I first noticed him. He turned and saw me and didn't come any closer, but asked if I was alright. What I would find out later from him was that he had been trying to wake me up without success for a little bit while he waited on the ambulance to make it to me. He didn't expect me to be awake and looking at him when he turned around.

In the end, the car was totaled, a new pizza was made and sent out to the house but the driver kept the tip for me and gave it to me two days later when I went back to work, my only substantial injury was the piece of glass in the back of my head that they had to dig out, and I had to dig some glass out of my eye when I got home.

This could have all been avoided if I had had better tires on the back.

Moral of Story: Take care of your car or your car might take care of you.

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