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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!

Wild Weather

Last Saturday, I went to Louisiana to get Jacob for Christmas.  I knew it was supposed to be raining, but I wasn't at all thrilled to find that it was raining the entire way there.  There were long stretches of the trip where visibility was down to about 100 ft.

Once I got to Jacob's house, it wasn't bad at all.  It was 73 degrees, a full 40 degrees warmer than Missouri, and the rain was down to a slight drizzle.

We got him loaded up and we hit the road about 3:15.  We were just pulling into the south side of Ruston, Louisiana when it got very dark very fast.  My phone started blowing up with a tornado warning telling us to take shelter immediately.  And, it wasn't kidding.  No sooner than I got the phone back in my pocket, the top of a large tree broke off and landed right in the highway about 100 yards in front of us.  A diesel Chevy that it landed in front of wasn't able to avoid it and smashed it into a mess of debris.  Two other cars traveling right along side the truck ran over parts of it, as well.  All three vehicles almost simultaneously darted off the highway in separate directions.

I straddled the smallest pieces of branches and flew into town looking for somewhere to take shelter.  Another large tree limb blocked the road ahead of us, and I spotted a Chinese restaurant that was open to our right.  As I jerked the car into the parking lot, I told Jacob to run inside as soon as I got the car stopped.  We both got inside the restaurant and out of the increasing speed of the winds just in time for the power to go out.  We were all sort of standing there watching the windows when the front door got sucked open briefly only to be slammed back closed by the wind.  The owner locked the doors to keep it from repeating.

I now know what all those people on the news after a tornado are talking about when they say, "It came out of nowhere."  It was 3:27 when we rounded a bend in the highway and could see Ruston up ahead while we noticed a peculiar dark sky to our left, the west.  The weather alert came through my phone at 3:28.  And everything I described above happened before I called Jodi from within the safety of the restaurant, a call that my phone logged at 3:30.

It was pretty wild.  But, just as quickly as the storm arrived, it equally as quickly calmed back down.  The weather map from my phone showed a bright red cell that was now east of us, so we got back out on the road.  Half the town of Ruston was out of power, including the stop lights.  Two buildings over from the restaurant we took shelter in had a large pane glass window broken out.  And, we could see all the duct work hanging down from the ceiling inside.  There were lots of tree limbs down and many signs had been blown over and were laying in parking lots or along the sides of the street.

Evidently, what we witnessed later became a tornado that destroyed the front of a Books-A-Million book store and damaged several other buildings in Monroe which is about 25 miles due east of Ruston.

I'm glad to have made it back without any major issues and just minor drama.  I'm thankful for all the prayer from our friends and family who were notified of our situation.  It certainly was heard as the rest of the trip was a piece of cake, a welcome change from the incredibly wet trip down.  This YouTube video is an overly-dramatic group of storm chasers who appear to have watched the movie Twister too many times, but parts of the video do accurately depict what was going on weather-wise where we were.  It also has a small clip of some damage in Monroe.

World Cup Excitement - Free Download

ATTENTION! If you downloaded the World Cup spreadsheet before June 21, 2014 then you have a copy that has errors.  A fixed version is now available for download here with scores filled out up to June 21 or for a blank version download this one.

I apologize for the calculation error.  Technically, it's not my fault.  I originally built this spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel 2003.  Since the first round is a point system that breaks ties in points by goal difference and ties in goal difference by total goals scored, the formulas to determine the ranking for each group are surprisingly difficult to write.  I wrote formulas with multiple nested formulas within them.  Microsoft reduced the number of formulas for which you can nest within other formulas in Microsoft Excel 2010.  So, the formulas were logically correct but disallowed by the newer version of Excel that I am using.  As a result, the ranking of teams within Group play were not calculated and no teams were pulled over into Round 2.  Thanks, Microsoft, for that "improvement" (eye roll).

UPDATE:  For a free downloadable and printable poster of the brackets, go to my newest post and click on the link for the download.


FIFA World Cup 2014 is coming up and this guy is getting excited.  The weekend before last was the draw and so the official schedule has been filled and is ready to go.

So, without hesitation, I built my Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to keep up with all the games.  It's in the same user-friendly interface as it's been when I originally designed it for World Cup 2006.  I updated it a little bit, but I was afraid to get into the formulas too much because I keep getting a warning about too many arguments being nested within single cells.  Apparently, I was able to do more within a single cell in Microsoft Excel 2003 than in the 2010 version I have now.

Anyway, it works like a charm with no more interaction from the user than entering the final scores of each game.  In Round 1, it does all the math for you on the fly in regards to team points, total goals scored, total goals scored against, and total goal difference.  Basically, every scenario that might possibly be used to determine final ranking in Round 1 to see who makes it into Round 2 and who doesn't.

In Round 2, in the event of a tied game going into penalty shots for a tie breaker, a box pops up to allow the user to enter the penalty shots results.

It's a fun way to follow along with all the games.  Otherwise, with 64 games being played in roughly a month, it's easy to just miss a good portion of the action.

I considered marketing this sheet of mine, selling it online for download for something like a dollar.  But, after some investigation, I found out that FIFA holds exclusive rights for a lot more than I thought.  I would have been infringing on the intellectual property rights of FIFA had I done something like that.  Perhaps, on Microsoft, as well.

So, here it is for free.  Also, it will be available in the 'Downloads' drop-down menu at the top of this blog.  FIFA can't sue me for distributing it this way.   Well, they can, I guess, but they won't win since I am adhering to their legal requirements.
  • I'm receiving no monetary benefits in the distribution of this file, nor any other form of compensation.
  • I'm not using this distribution as a means to advertise any product or company.
  • The file contains no copy-written or otherwise protected images belonging to FIFA or any of its affiliates.
  • The file does not contain excessive words or phrases registered as intellectual property of FIFA or any of its affiliates.
  • The purpose of distribution of this file is to excite a fan base and increase the number of individuals watching the World Cup in 2014, which is FIFA's own product.
P.S.  FIFA, if you are reading this, don't get mad.  You don't want to sue me.  You want to hire me.

Is Self-Defense Biblical?

Photo Credit to funnycuteanimal.blogspot.com
I recently got into an online discussion that prompted me to do some studying.  The discussion was about Luke 6:28-30, or at least it was initially.  As all conversations do, this one took many turns.  What started as a question (evidently not meant to be answered) became many statements of position from both the question's poser and a couple people, myself included, who read the question.

Let's start with the scripture (NIV):
28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
 What wound up being supposed in the discussion was the following in no particular order:
  • that these three verses apply to martyrdom
  • that, as Christians, we have no right to defend or protect ourselves since we are not our own but have surrendered ourselves to God
The above list would have been longer, but every other argument made was purposefully open-ended or written with a built-in, locked and loaded disclaimer.  So, I haven't included them here, nor do I need to.  The above is subject enough for one blog.

So, let's start with the first point.  Jesus doesn't mention death anywhere in these three verses.  Therefore, I can safely conclude that any application of these verses to martyrdom or any death for that matter must be backed by other verses that do talk about death and must be supported by the overarching theme of the Bible.  None of this entire chapter speaks of death, save for one place, Luke 6:9.
Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
The only place in this chapter that Jesus mentions death, He makes it clear that to save life is good and to destroy it is evil.  The application of this is that the preservation of one's own life and of the lives around oneself is good (And, what is good but God alone?) and that destroying life (even your own) is sin.

Now, I'm not against pulling more meaning out of scripture than what it literally says.  On the contrary, I'm ceaselessly amazed at the amount of new revelation that comes out of some of the same verses that I have been reading all my life.  How God fit all that applicable and meaningful teaching into simple passages cracks me up to say the least.  But, of course, it's always new.  It's His word.  It's alive.  However, we have a tendency to impose our own beliefs upon scripture.  We can, will, and do come to the Bible with a set of ideals that we already hold to be true.  It's like wearing a pair of colored glasses with spots on them.  The Bible will all be colored a certain way and the spots will conveniently cover up the parts of it that challenge your predetermined belief.  So, the challenge is to remove the glasses first, and then read the Bible.  This way, God can teach you what He wants you to believe.

That said, it's important to always use scripture to interpret scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  I like new teaching being mined from God's word, but it must follow the theme of other clear biblical teaching.  Concerning the first point, that Luke 6:28-30 also refers to martyrdom, I ask how.  It was suggested in the conversation that these commands from Jesus would also include the scenario if someone was trying to kill you.  Now, I don't read that in there nor do you, I'm sure, but it was suggested that this was "the heart" of the teaching, reading between the lines, if you will.  Note, that Jesus was doling out commands in this passage, directions on how to live according to His teaching.  So, then, since He doesn't specifically say to willfully allow someone to kill you or others around you if they so desire, does another passage in the Bible specifically say it?  Does another passage even support the idea?  Or, perhaps, do other areas support protecting your life and the lives of others around you?

In the conversation, the word 'radical' kept being used.  It was assumed that Jesus was teaching an even more radical truth here than what He was clearly saying.  In other words, it was believed that He was saying one radical thing but implying an even more radical thing.  Why would Jesus do that?  If Jesus was giving out radical teaching (which He was) why do you suppose that He was saving the "really radical" teaching for only those who read between the lines?  Was He afraid that His disciples would be offended by the "really radical" commands so He just gave them the "moderately radical" ones instead?  That doesn't sound like Jesus.  Afraid to offend?  No, not Jesus.

Sometimes I wonder if we adrenaline-junkie-Americans have a desire to make Jesus even more radical than He is, as if we have a stronger desire to be radical than we do to be Christ-like.  Isn't giving to someone while they are robbing you radical enough?  Isn't loving your enemies, loving that co-worker who seems to stop at nothing to try and get you fired, radical enough?  Isn't praying for blessings for that neighbor of yours who is conjuring up curses against you radical enough?  Make no mistake, Jesus's teachings are radical.

Ok.  Moving on to the second point.  This seems obvious enough not to have to compile an argument against, but maybe it's necessary after all.  First, I think that anyone who has read the Bible at all will concede that God is said throughout it to be our defense and our strength, so much in fact that we can all agree on that.  We can conclude from this that it is good to be defended.  Where disagreements arise in whether it should always be left completely to the Lord our God to be our defense.  Arguments are made that to defend ourselves shows a lack of trust in God.  Or, in the scenario of the conversation that prompted this blog, arguments are made that say as Christians we are not our own and that we have given up our right to defend ourselves.  But, what does the Bible (God, himself) say about our responsibilities in regards to our self-defense and the defense of others in our care?
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. - 1 Timothy 5:8
" But, this is about working to provide for one's family, not the physical protection of them!"  Maybe, but notice that God is our provider, Jehovah Jireh, (Luke 12:24) and yet we all still work jobs.  God even commands us to work and provide for our family, even calling those that don't "worse than an unbeliever".  Ouch.
“If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed. - Exodus 22:2-3
The reason that you were guilty in the daylight was that you would be able to see and discern that it was a thief not a murderer or a rapist and while you were expected to defend yourself and your family, you weren't allowed to kill over the potentially lost possessions.   But, in the pitch black of night, you were also expected to defend yourself and family and even acquitted of guilt if the thief died since there would have been no way to discern the intruder's intentions.
14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” - Nehemiah 4:14
Fight in defense of your family and your homes.  That's pretty clear.  And, what were they doing throughout this book?  Building a wall of defense around their city.  And, God was good with that.
11 The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children,[b] and to plunder the property of their enemies.  - Esther 8:11
This came from the king's edict, yes, but from the direction and unfolding of events that God set in motion, of course.
36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. - Luke 22:36
Yes, Jesus said this.  Jesus also rebuked Peter a few hours later when Peter used the sword to cut off the man's ear during Jesus' arrest.  But, note that Jesus told Peter to put the sword back where it belonged, sheathed on his side.  Jesus could have told Peter to throw away his sword, but He didn't.  He told him to put it back where it belonged, on his side, for its proper use.  Jesus had already told his disciples, Peter included, that He was to die for it was the plan for the Son of Man to do.  Jesus said that He could call on the Father and that a throng of angels would come at His defense, but that He must drink from the Father's cup.  Why, you ask?  To save all of humanity, of course.  To come to our defense.  Jesus, the King of Kings, didn't need Peter to come to His defense.  That wasn't a proper use for Peter's sword.  Jesus also explained that "living by the sword" or putting too much trust in it was also a bad thing and it would lead to death "by the sword".
 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. - Matthew 24:43
Jesus was speaking about the second coming.  He used this scenario as an illustration to say that He would come at an unknown time therefore always be ready.  Note that, even to Jesus, it was an understood thing that you would defend your life, your family, and your home.  And, why wouldn't it be understood?  Scripture taught them that it was not only alright to do but that it was commanded of them, a responsibility of God's people to do for themselves and others around them.
23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another... - Matthew 10:23
You mean, Jesus didn't want them to stick around until someone put them to death?  Of course not.  He wanted them to continue their ministry in proclaiming the good news to as many cities as possible before the inevitable happened.

I think I've aptly made the point.  It's good to defend life.  We are to die to ourselves in the sense that we are to give our lives to God for God to direct and guide our lives as He wills, not by our own will.  But, God, doesn't want us to give up our lives needlessly.  He wants us to do His work here on earth.  Jesus already died for us, so that we don't have to.  He expects us to live and continue His good work.

P.S. - To answer the question that the title of this blog answers: Yes, sometimes.  Our goal to be Christ-like is to always be thinking about other people and apply love and the sharing of the gospel in both words and practice whenever possible.  This can include, as Luke 6:28-30 tells us, even while being robbed.  For example: Suppose John were robbed today (it's cold outside).  If someone demanded his wallet, he could potentially make a lasting impression on them by offering them his coat, as well, and saying "you look like you might be cold."  This shows that John cares about them as an individual despite what they are doing to him at the moment.  John should report the theft afterwards since he doesn't want to create an environment that enables people to sin without any consequence.  But, John should restrain himself from feeling good if the robber gets caught or bad if the robber doesn't.  Also, this is assuming that John has assessed the situation and doesn't feel that he is any grave danger.  Otherwise, I would advise John to flee or fight.  And, based on the above biblical reasoning, I would say that it would be well within God's approval for doing so.

Cease and Desist

In a matter of only about 3 weeks, we've managed to get the deck from just a plan in our heads to almost a completed physical reality.  Considering the fact that I haven't taken any time off of work for its construction, I think 3 weeks is a really short amount of time for such a large construction project.

Despite all of our best efforts, though, we can't do a whole lot about the weather.  Now, I didn't mind being out there working in the cold too much.  But, I can't work very well while the whole thing is covered up in snow.  I keep waiting for the snow to melt away.  This is the Ozarks, right?  I mean, it was snowing yesterday, isn't it supposed to be 60° today?  This hasn't happened.  And, it doesn't look like there is much of a melting day coming up in the immediate weather forecast.

So, maybe, I'll go out there this evening and sweep it off all proper like and then when the melting does come it might actually clear off what I can't get to budge easily.

So, sorry, I haven't been able to bring any more awesome updates.  We'll just have to see what happens.

Here's a quick link to the last deck series blog. 

10th Yeariversary

Yesterday, was Jodi's and my tenth yeariversary.  I've explained what a yeariversary is before, I'm sure, but to those of you who don't know: it's the anniversary to the day we met.  It started with weekiversary then transitioned to monthiversaries.  You get the idea.

Why do we celebrate that day, you ask?  Probably, because it's pretty much when we fell in love.  I say 'pretty much' because love is more than just a moment of infatuation.  It's more than just a connection being made.  It's not a moment in time, so to speak.  You know exactly when you fell down the stairs.  Falling in love isn't so easy to pinpoint to a specific moment in history.  So, we use the day we met since our love most certainly started that day and only grew from there.

To celebrate, we took the children with us out in the cold and snow to downtown.  We had some yummy sushi at Izumi Hatake.  We ordered:
  • California Roll
  • Philly Roll
  • Philly Tempura Roll
  • Rainbow Roll
  • Jurassic Park Roll
  • Passion Roll
  • Seaweed Salad
A big order, yes, but that's how we roll.  Get it?  It's our new favorite sushi place in town.  Ralph and Gail Irwin turned us on to it.  Our favorite was the Philly Tempura Roll.  It's probably also the least good for you.  It's fried.  But, it's super good.  The Rainbow Roll was kind of too sweet.  Jurassic Park is great.  I've yet to have a bad Jurassic Park anywhere.  Kai and Haruno also make the Jurassic very well.  The Passion was good, but maybe not our favorite.  It has some great sauce with it, though.  Lyric liked the California and the Philly. It turns out that Ezra is just a California girl.  She didn't like the creamed cheese or the salmon on the  Philly Roll.

We ended the night with a comedy on our new comfy furniture.

I love my wife.  She's the coolest, funniest, and hottest person I know.  The last ten years have been nothing short of awesome.  Looking forward to eternity with her.

P.S.  It's also the day that I bought my '59 Ford truck.  I pretty much love it, too. :)

The Whole Tomale

So, I couldn't resist.  Once I got to thinking about the photo that I could take from atop the garage roof, it was all over.  I knew that I could capture the whole thing and I hadn't really done that yet from any previous angles.

So, I rather nonchalantly scaled the roof to our outdoor closet, quickly walked across the top of our garden wall, and stepped up onto the roof of the garage to get this photo.  Getting down, however, proved to be a bit more difficult.  My old fear of heights tried to revive itself.  It took me close to a full minute to get myself to step down the 5 or 6 inches onto the wall from the garage roof.  I seriously considered just jumping down to the driveway.  Why does that seem safer in my head than coming down the same way I got up?  Either way, I worked it out.  I told myself to quit being stupid and just did it.  And, you know what?  It went fine.

I took this photo as soon as I got home from work yesterday, so it shows zero of the work that I did last night, but at least I took the photo in the daylight this time.  Last night, I got the two other sections of privacy fence installed.  I still have to put the rails on top of all four sections, though, so the privacy fence isn't done just yet.  I also, got two of the six sections of railing done.  They turned out nice and sturdy, just as a good railing should be.

So, in the next illustration that I GIMP'd together, the red is what I got done last night that the above photo doesn't show.  The blue items are the things that I have yet to do.  So, in addition to the railings and privacy fence top rail, I also need to build a gate for the small north staircase to match the privacy fence.  (If you click on either photo in Firefox or IE, it will bring up the photo large and let you toggle back and forth between the two.  Pretty cool.)  And, I'll be pulling off some of the siding so that I can wire up and install some outdoor lights, one on each side of the back door.  I wasn't going to originally, but I think that I will also install some permanent wiring in conduit and run a GFCI outlet to the tree.  We'll run some white Christmas lights around the tree for ambiance lighting and the outlet will let us do that.  I will even run it through a switch from inside so we can turn it on and off like a porch light.  Also, I will run some speaker wire hookups just below the soffit on the back room so that we can play music from the stereo inside and select the outdoor speakers when we want to listen to music out there.

Oh my goodness!  This deck is going to be awesome! :)

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

Really Coming Together

Just as the title states, the deck is really coming together.  I apologize for the fuzzy photos.  They were all taken in the dark.

As of last night, I managed to knock out the last of the stairs.  Then, I got a great start on the privacy fence.  I got two sections done (minus the top part that will come later).  As you can see, Jodi was adding the first privacy boards to the fence and having a lot of fun doing it.  I love my home renovator wife. :)

This is the part that I really like, because up until now, I've essentially been building a platform pedestal for us to be easily spotted from the street.  This fence makes the whole thing seem like a personal haven.  And, I also feel that it makes it feel bigger.  I thought that maybe the opposite would be true, but it's not.

These next two photos were literally taken in the dark at about 6:20 this morning.  I put the Canon on a tripod and had to set the shutter at 4 seconds with my lowest aperture lens, the 50mm.  I apparently moved the camera on the stair photo, but the fence photo came out alright.

No, the house in the background is not on fire.  They have a back porch light that lit up their backyard tree and the long exposure exaggerated its effect.  Also, in the photo, you get to see our brand new deck fire pit.  We bought it off of Craigslist.  It's not even been used and we got it for $30!  I'm guessing that the reason it hadn't sold earlier was because the seller called it a "fire pitt".  By doing so, it wouldn't have come up in searches.  Thankfully, I searched just "fire" anticipating that some people might call them different things.  To the owner's credit, she was Asian and English was, no doubt, a second language.  Also, there was no photo in the ad.  She texted me photos at my request and I was like, "Yes, please!"

When we get the deck done, I plan on climbing up on my garage roof for a great all-encompassing photo of the finished result.  Until then, I'll try to remember to take photos while it's still daylight.

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

Thanksgiving Deck

Sorry for slacking off with the updates.  This Thanksgiving was a success, I believe.  We hosted it at our house for my wife's family.  We also had some friends of ours and their children with us since they have no family in town.  It was fun and there was some great food, as always.  I ate a nice lunch and then found myself maintaining a fullness through 5 o'clock through random bites of the various dishes every 10 to 15 minutes.

We got quite a bit accomplished with the deck over the long holiday weekend, though, not quite as much as I would have liked.  I'm notorious for underestimating the time it takes to do a home improvement project.  This is why I would make out to be a terrible contractor.  I would underbid labor every time.

All the decking is down. Woo hoo!  (Forgive me.  These photos are from Thanksgiving morning.  I haven't taken any since.)  And, now I'm working on the stairs from the yard to the deck.  It took pretty much all of yesterday, unnecessarily.  When I laid out my stringer plan for the lower stairs, I drew them correctly but then wrote the wrong measurement on my drawing.  So, I wound up making the top step too deep, not compensating for the fact that I was using the existing deck skirting as my top riser.  So, I got the stairs built and realized that there wasn't enough overhang to allow for closed risers.  Well, that's not a compromise my wife we could live with. ;)

As much as I love undoing something, I undid my stair construction, disconnected all my stringers trimmed off the extra 1 1/2", and reinstalled all of them.  I was planning on finishing that set of stairs last night, but I broke my last driver bit.  Speaking of which, the Irwin impact driver bits I bought are great.  I commend them despite the fact that I have made my way through all four that I bought (broke 3, lost 1).  I've been pretty abusive with them and they have all performed wonderfully until my abuse finally became too much for them, to no real fault of their own.  Like anything, they have a lifespan, but a very long one, comparatively speaking.

I really like how the decking looks with the custom "tree-shaped" hole, especially with all the herringbone pattern lines of connection radiating outward from it.  For the record, because everyone feels the need to warn us of tree growth, the joists are 6-8 inches away from the tree.  The closest deck boards are actually being held up by false joists that are connected to the adjacent deck boards.  Therefore, when the tree finally reaches the deck boards in a few years, they can easily be pulled up by removing a few screws, trimmed, and put back down for several more years of enjoyment.  It shouldn't become an issue with the joists for 15 years at the very minimum.

As a little side note bonus, here's a not-very-exciting before and after of the bottom of our front door.  Clearly, we were in need of a new weather strip for the bottom of the door.  I wonder how long it will take to save in utilities the $9.99 it cost me for the strip?  I know.  This was totally off subject.  I just like before and after photos.

Tonight, I plan to finish the stairs to the back yard and get the small staircase towards the front yard finished, as well.  I don't believe that this is underestimation at work here.  But, only time will tell.  After that?  Privacy wall and deck rails.

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

Breaking Bits

So, I have been using these Phillips deck screws and they're great. They're very strong. I like them. BUT, I have been tearing up bits left and right.

I finally got a #2 Phillips driver bit that advertises that is lasts 5 times as long (I forget what brand). Well, I agree with their advertising.  I used the junk out of that thing and it never even showed wear.  However, all of a sudden like, the tip snapped off at an angle.  Time for a new bit.  You served me well, though, little bit.  I'll be getting another just like you.

Unfortunately, the broken bit signaled the end of my decking installation tonight. But, I really like how it's looking.

Update: Race Brothers actually was switching all of their driver bit/drill bit inventory when I swung in there today to pick up another bit.  They still carry all the cheap bits, but for their "top-of-the-line" bits, they've switched to Irwin.  I'm glad about this since when I Googled "strong driver bits" last night, I found some pretty positive reviews of the strength of Irwin impact bits.  So, of course, that's what I bought.  One of the many things that I have learned about doing home improvement projects is this: Don't waste your time and effort working with inferior tools or the wrong tools for the job.  Get the right tools and you'll save yourself all kinds of time, energy, and needless frustration.

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

Lazy Sunday on Deck

It doesn't appear that I got much done. It's because I kind of didn't. I didn't get started till almost 2 and I needed to come in and eat and feed the children just after 5 so I only really pulled out 3 hours worth of work.

Perhaps some real construction pros are reading this and are like "that should've been enough to finish it." Well, not for me.

I got all the posts cut, notched, drilled, and bolted to the deck where they belong.

Earlier today I posted a blog and I said my goals were to get the posts installed and get a good start on the decking.  I suppose I met my goals if you consider a "good start" to be screwing down two boards. Though, in my defense, the first boards are the most crucial since they will determine how all the other boards will lay.

I'll get some more decking down tomorrow.  We'll see how much. Not to worry. I'll keep you all in the loop.

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

Quick Deck Update

Well, this is the deck as of yesterday's improvements.  I had more on my list to do, but I also did some things that needed done that weren't on the list.  So, I'm still good.

Notice that the stairs are in and worked out perfectly. They fell JUST below the door just as planned. Also, I added all the perimeter boards.

I got all the tall posts for the privacy fence notched out and predrilled and ready to install. One is in, which you can see on the far left. Four more to go. Then seven more short ones.

So, today, I plan on having all the posts installed and I want to have a good start on the decking.  I'll have a limited amount of daylight today. By the time we eat lunch after church, it'll probably be 1:30 before I can get back out there.

I'll post another update from what gets done today.  Maybe tonight?  We'll see.

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

Door Glass Replacement

As I mentioned in a previous post a couple months back, I found these brand new replacement windows for our double doors in the back of our house.  I never did show the before and after of that little project.  But, it's never too late.


The installation went very well throughout the whole process.  I did have to make some adjustments to the doors as the glass was slightly too tall and about three quarters of an inch shy from being the correct width.  So, I filled the gap with a strip of wood along the side and I cut into the door to make the opening tall enough for them.  Then, it was just a matter of trimming them in place.

It really improved the look of the old doors and with a fresh coat of paint  that we'll put on after we get done with the deck, they'll look nice and new.  I was super ready to see that old clouded glass go away.  And just in time, really.  Since, I'm building the deck now, It would have been a shame to not be able to hardly see it through our glass doors.

Truth be told, the reason that I wasn't in any hurry to blog about this home improvement project is because I made a mistake.  I dry fit both pieces of glass before I began the trimming and caulking process.  They both fit nice and snug, however.  When I went to put the second glass in (the left), it wouldn't go in very well.  I started pressing in on the side that it was stuck on and it when in with a sort of thud.  It cracked the glass.  And, I watched it as it shot across the width of the door leaving a crack all the way across.  I was furious with myself.  But, what are you gonna do?  So, it's not perfect.  At some point, the glass will need to be replaced (or repaired?).

Regardless, I'm still happy with the improvement.  It was still worth the $40 I paid for the glass.  And, I love the crystal clear view.  I imagine that I'll love it even more with our deck complete.  Which, this weekend stands to bring some major progress in that category.  Stay tuned.

Ran Out Of Deck Puns For Blog Titles

Well, it's Thursday now.  I was supposed to have had all the joists in and the upper stringers done.  But, alas, I have yet to touch a stringer.  I did, however, get all the joists done.  And, they look great!

What set me back a bit was not having the material with which to make the stringers.  So, I moved on to planning out the decking.  We're going with the pattern pictured here. (No, this is not our deck)  The boards will make squares wrapping around the tree that comes up through our deck.  So, we'll have four lines of connection points as you see here radiating out from the tree.  The problem I ran into was that none of these proposed lines of connections landed on a joist.  The last thing we want to do is have places in our deck that are bouncy or spongy, so I needed to add two joists and a bunch of blocking.  I almost got done with that before finally quitting for the night around 9:00.  It should only take about 30-40 minutes to knock out the rest.

None of that was on my calendar.  So, I still feel good about the amount of progress I've made in the time frame for which I've given myself.  I'm hoping that the weather works out where I can continue tonight.  If so, I'll make a trip to Lowe's on the way home from work to grab the stringers material.  I'll get the rest of the blocking done and then start cutting out my stringers.


I don't have any cool photos that show the most recent changes but that's fine because it wouldn't be all that different from yesterday's.  But, I do have the drawing that I've been using to plan this deck with.  I haven't shared that yet.  As always, click on them to make them bigger.  The first photo is where I have it now.  The second is the steps I have left to do, not including the actual decking.  I have this in an editable GIMP file that has all the different steps in separate layers.  This way, I could add the layers or remove them from view to help me in the designing stage.  I've included the file in the 'Downloads' section under sub-header 'GIMP Creations' in the drop-down list at the top of this blog.  Feel free to download it and play around to your heart's content.  Don't have GIMP?  No problem.  That is also found in the 'Downloads' section above under the 'Software' sub-header.  What's that you say?  Photo editing software that's comparable to better than Photoshop being given away for free?  No, it's not too good to be true.  It's open source software.

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

Stacking the Deck

So, last night, I commenced to adding joists to our deck in progress.  This is the part that I really love since it really shows it coming together.  I worked from almost 4:00 until 10:30 stopping only to eat a quick dinner and then get the children ready for bed and in bed.

Getting the joists up really shows how big it actually will be.  Jodi and I sort of like to do things big.  I mean, if you're going to do something, why not do it big, right?  Go all out.  I can almost guarantee you that I won't be saying later "Man, I wish we would've made this deck bigger."  Conversely, I can't imagine any scenario in which I would long for it to be smaller.


As you can see from my calendar, I have been doing pretty well.  Although, I may have been slightly too optimistic in my plans.  It's now the 20th and as you can see from the above photo, I'm not quite done with the joists.  Which means, I'll be wrapping those up tonight before I get the opportunity to start building my upper stringers.  The other issue is that I don't have the material to build my stringers.  I'll have to make a quick run to Lowe's when I'm ready for them, I suppose.  The good news is that I have all the measurements worked out which is half the battle with stringers.  Check back tomorrow to see what I got done tonight.

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

All Hands On Deck!

The time has finally arrived!  We will now commence to building the deck.  Oh, how we have looked forward to this day.  As a matter of fact, we started planning the design of our deck shortly after the renovation of the back room of our house back in January '08.  You should definitely go and check out that blog because it has a pretty good slideshow of the before and (almost) after of that project.

The renovation of that back room changed the layout of how one exits our house from the back.  This path was originally through the back door located in the kitchen then through and out through the side of the mudroom.  We removed both of those doors enabling a much larger kitchen and put a new double door heading straight out the back from the center of that room.  This left us with about a 4 foot drop for which Jacob and I built a staircase in August '09.  Yes, I waited 19 months to build a staircase to a door that I installed.

The deck design has changed in several ways over the course of the last few weeks.  Here's a 3D rendering of our original design.  I haven't wasted the time making an updated version of the 3D rendering since actually building the deck is 3D enough for me.  But, I wanted you, the reader, to be able to visualize it.  I actually made this design public on this blog back in 2011 when I was building the outdoor closet and redesigned basement door.  This rendering isn't accurate for height, though.  We'll have three steps coming down to the deck from our back door and then three more going down from the deck to the brick patio.  Also, we took out the angle coming from the house on the left side in the rendering. 
Our deck will go straight out towards the property line giving us much more space.  And, we are incorporating a privacy fence on that side of the deck.  Without it we would feel a bit on display to the home next door.  We haven't decided on the style yet, but I kind of like this one pictured here.  Click on it to make it bigger.

We started this project Nov. 9 &10.  My mother took the children for the weekend so that Jodi and I could get a jump start on the project.  And, we did, too.  We dug all 13 holes for the posts and poured a total of 1280 lbs of concrete.  Last week, we got all the landscaping fabric down and all the post brackets bolted in place.  Then, we started with the rock.

I called around and got a cheap price for clean gravel, but the cost of delivery was way too high, so I just figured I'd get it myself.  I got one ton dumped in the back of my truck and it took me and my friend, Matt, close to an hour to get it out and then spread out.  I would've needed to do that probably three more times, so we decided delivery may be worth it after all.  I called around again and got a cheap delivery price with just a little bit more money for the rock.  It was totally worth it.  We got the rest of what we needed (2.25 tons) and all I had to do was spread it in place.  Though, I did get overworked that night, got a slight fever, couldn't eat, threw up my lunch, but then felt much better afterwards.

I just got the last of the beams in place last night.  My favorite part was getting this part done and then going out to the yard and looking across all of the beams to see them in perfect alignment.  I mean, PERFECT alignment.  But, what do I expect?  Of course, it's perfect.  I've been planning this deck for almost six years.

Tonight, will be a joist filled evening!

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

Gender-Neutral Parenting

Gender vs. Sex.

Have you ever thought about it?  Have you considered the differences between the two words?  Well, some have and while it seems that the vast majority of people haven't given it much thought at all, there is a very small but growing faction of those that have apparently thought about it so much that they've filled the thought quota for the rest of us.

The words 'gender' and 'sex' are used interchangeably throughout our culture.  Though, according to some sources, it is said that sex is biological and therefore more black and white, while gender is sociological and better thought of as a scale.

They say that gender is more of a culturally learned thing.  And, it is true that many things are decidedly masculine and decidedly feminine (certain behaviors, activities, interests, etc.). I'm reminded of all my years of learning French.  Like many latin languages, nouns are given a gender.  The gender of the word denotes whether you say 'la' or 'le' preceding it.

So, with all this assumed gender being thrown around, there are those that take issue with it.  They believe that girls are unfairly missing out on "boys" activities and, likewise, boys are missing out on "girls" activites.  They suspect that with all the societal gender's understood do's and don't's, children are being limited to certain activities and thus only acquire certain skill sets.  Hence, enter gender-neutral parenting.

But, what is gender-neutral parenting?  It seems that the answer to that question is a parenting style in which the parents attempt to avoid all gender stereotypes for their children.  They do this by keeping their children's environments free of "extreme" gender-specific clothing, toys, colors, etc.  They may also try to keep a balance between the toys and such that are made available to them to allow for the freedom to choose what they want to play with.  They might take efforts to balance playtime so the child gets equal exposure to playing with both sexes.  It could be said that they are simply parenting their children while consciously avoiding stereotypical situations that might "force" their children into a stereotypical social slot.

The issue that proponents of gender-neutral parenting have (as far as I can gather from articles I've read) is that they believe that children growing up in traditional settings (with which some label "gender-specific" parents) at the very least will be limited in their skill development or at worst be oppressed by this setting.  The idea is that a boy will be led to believe, whether directly or indirectly, that he shouldn't need to learn how to cook, sew, do laundry, etc., and that they will be limited in their vocational scope due to these inabilities. The true would be the same for a girl but in regards to other "decidedly male" skills.

Here are some situations that would pass as "gender-specific" parenting examples:
  • A girl's bedroom appearing to be a "girl's" bedroom.  Same would be true for a boy's.
  • Telling a girl that she looks "very pretty" weightedly more when she is wearing a dress than when she is wearing pants.
  • Having an imbalance of traditionally boy's toys versus traditionally girl's toys in any play area.
"Gender-enforcing" is more directly from a parent as opposed to the child's surrounding environment.  Here are some situations that would pass as "gender-enforcing" parenting examples:
  • Telling your son "boys don't cry."
  • Telling your girl "to sit like a lady" as opposed to "sit properly."
  • Not supporting your son if he wants to wear pink or your daughter if she wants to play football.
  • Discouraging play with toys that are decidedly the opposite gender of the sex of the child.
I'm sure that people who support gender-neutral parenting can come up with a slew of more reasons to support their belief that it is the better parenting option.  But, this provides you the basic idea.

Now, alas, my opinion.  I agree that "gender-enforcing" in most examples is probably wrong.  Of course, boys can cry.  But, I think it's fine to tell a girl to sit like a lady.  So, I can't agree whole-heartedly.  And, I don't really agree with most of the "gender-specific" examples as being in any sense "bad".  Ultimately, I find the psychology of gender-neutral parenting to be well-intentioned but nevertheless flawed.  In no particular order, here are some issues that I take with it:
  •  It ignores behavioral science.  Our biology does affect our behavior, our likes, our priorities, etc.  It's very well established.  Gender is not just culturally learned.  Yes, it is culturally learned, but not exclusively.
  • It inherently disrespects the "extreme" ends of gender.  It wrongfully assumes that people who are in a "traditionally stereotypical" position are so because of their socially-ingrained gender-specific limitations. Lots of people willfully choose "traditional" roles and live fulfilled lives, and it's disrespectful to purposefully try to avoid that end result with your own children for fear that it is a result from limitations.  Society already fails to put enough well-deserved value on roles like stay-at-home moms and blue collar dads.  Why reinforce this backwards concept?
  • It denies children all of the so-called extremes.  If you're refusing to provide your daughter a pink dress on principle then you are limiting your daughter's development (by the definitions set forth by pro-gender-neutral-ness) while claiming the high-road that states the opposite.  The irony is that, in an attempt to avoid the perceived limitations of a stereotypical childhood, the parents are limiting typical childhood things and activities.
  • It takes the "you can be anything you want to be" lie to the furthest extreme.  Yes, I said lie.  Let's face the truth.  You can't be anything you want to be.  Limitations are very real and vary from person to person.  Also, skill sets vary from person to person.  Encourage your children to break out and do amazing things, sure.  Champion the skills they do have.  But, feel free to tell them that the levels of resistance will vary between differing goals.  They'll appreciate the truth.  Also, I find it very strange that any parent would encourage their boy to be as feminine as he wants to be, while purposefully avoiding the same for their daughter just because that would be stereotypical.
  • It assumes that there is value in the sheer number of opportunities provided.  I'm reminded of those little Asian children that are full-on concert soloists in their adolescence.  It's an extreme example, I know, but isn't it also valuable teaching your children to master a handful of skills instead of a million skills somewhere shy of mediocre?
I believe that the core goal of gender-neutral parenting is to protect children from having their identity "imposed" upon them by our culture.  I can relate to this goal quite well and find it to be a good one.  In many cases such as morals, ethics, moderation, modesty, etc. I would completely agree that our culture is a bad influence and thus, I support counter-cultural efforts in these categories.  Where we disagree is the case of gender.  I don't believe that gender is necessarily a cultural imposition.  I believe that children's discovery of gender traits is part of the natural development of a child and, dare I say, a necessary one.  Children categorize things and activities naturally.  My young children ask me all the time questions with a false dichotomy in an attempt to classify things.  "Is McDonald's good or bad?", they'll ask.  I often provide a "gray scale" answer such as, "It's bad if you eat there all the time, but a meal there every once in a while shouldn't hurt us."  This is all fine to do when answering questions like my example, but providing gray scales for everything in an attempt to allow the child to find his/her own way isn't parenting at all.  Purposefully trying to filter out the black and white found virtually everywhere trying to force a gray scale on certain things such as gender could not only be non-beneficial but potentially detrimental to the child's normal development.

Remember that the main arguments being made for gender-neutral parenting are against "forcing" children into categories.  Perhaps, the creation of a new category, the non-category, is equally "forcing" your child into something.  Perhaps, even more limiting?  Perhaps even greater prejudiced?

I Love Weekends

We had a pretty productive weekend.  It was nice to be around the house and do some fun things.  I started it out by drafting up a long "to do" list on Friday.  I knew that there was not much of a chance that I would get even half of it done, but I thought that having it all on there would help to give me choices as to what project was best for any particular moment.

Lyric had a soccer game at 9:00 for which the weather was hardly ideal.  It was cold and everything was wet from the overnight rain.  The kids played great, though, and walked away with a 11-0 win.

Shortly after the game, the sun came out and dried up all the rain.  And, the itsy-bitsy spider went up the spout again.  Well, I don't know about any spiders, but it did turn out to be a pretty nice day.  We were all very excited to welcome the delivery of our wood to build our deck.  Lowe's came and managed to get it all in our backyard right up close to where we will begin building.  It was nice enough that Jodi and I both were itching to just jump right in and start on the deck project, but unfortunately, we can't start that for a few weeks.  So, Jodi helped me mask off 3 lockers and I got a terrible-looking first coat of primer on despite some problems with my sprayer.

On Sunday, I became extremely frustrated with my sprayer and almost threw it to the ground in anger.  But, I managed to compose myself long enough to finally ask God for help.  And, of course, He did.  I got to looking at my sprayer and wondered what the clear rubber tube coming out the top was for.  It just looped back into the frame.  I turned over the sprayer to examine the underside of the frame to find that the opening was clogged with old paint.  I pulled the hose off the frame connect and proceeded to finish primering the lockers with the most consistent sprayer I have ever used.  I figure the hose is a pressure relief for the canister.  With it clogged, the sprayer would only work for a minute until the pressure inside the canister would be so low that it would refuse to let out any more paint.  The hose just lets air in to replace the product coming out to equalize the pressure.  Wish I would have done that sooner.  Oh well.  Lesson learned.

After two days of working around the house, I felt like we could all use some fun.  So, with our newly acquired fire pit (thanks Craigslist) and plenty of brush that needed disposed of, we had s'mores for dinner.  Yes.  For dinner.  I know, not exactly "Parent of the Year" material, but I think that we all really enjoyed it.

Grouponitis

My friend Ralph and I were having a discussion a while back and he said something profound that made me think about it several times since then.  He pointed out the problem with using Groupon to market your business.

He explained that when consumers use Groupon for a product or service, they may feel good about the deal that they just received, but they also will likely associate that good or service with the price that they paid.  Here lies the problem.  If you get a nice meal for your family for $30 at a restaurant you've never been to before, you likely won't feel good about visiting that restaurant again at a later date and getting the same meal with a bill for $50.  So, in essence, by offering your goods or services at a discounted rate, you are inevitably setting the value in the minds of the customers that take advantage of this rate.  So, while you may certainly generate some extra business at a minimal profit, you won't likely gain any repeat customers.

And, he's right.  I have personally experienced this where I have not returned to a restaurant after our first visit with a Groupon in hand.  It was at ReRico Brazillian Grill. Well, actually I did return but only with another Groupon in my pocket and I haven't been back since.  And, my failure to return has not been for any lack of quality or quantity.  With excellent food and all of it you can handle, they have both mastered.  It's because I'm in no hurry to go drop $50+tip for a meal.

Contrast that with my experience of having first shopped at Devo (olive oils and balsamics) before I knew of Groupon.  Yes, it's pretty expensive but we loved the quality and it opened us up to new recipes and some fun experimentation in the kitchen. One day I bought a $25 Groupon for $50 at Devo. Score!  But, I've shopped there since then, too.  The difference?  The Groupon didn't set the value since the value had already been set in my mind.  And, that's just it.  This is a matter of perceived value.

So, since this initial conversation, I've given this much thought and wondered how this may apply to other areas of our lives.  For example, teenagers with new driver's licenses might "peel out" in their cars, "power brake", skid to a stop, or otherwise quickly ruin their tires.  Make that same teenager purchase his/her own set of new tires and you'll find that same young driver all of a sudden with a new found sense of content with driving responsibly.  The teen simply didn't value the tires until they were made to shell out the $500 +/- it takes to replace them.

Worse than the tires, is when people fail to value services.  Failing to value goods can have detrimental effects, sure.  However, services have people directly tied to them.  So, it's even worse because now it's not just a failure to value something.  It's a failure to value someone.  And, sadly, it's not usually the intent of the person to offend or to fail to value a person, it just works out that way due to how they have been taught (or taught themselves) the perceived value of a service.

Allow me to use someone with a Bachelors in Information Technology (computer guy/gal).  It doesn't take long after people finding out what they do before they're asked "Will you look at ______ for me?  I've been having trouble with it?"  The only problem here is that usually this is being asked in the sense of doing a favor for a friend.  In other words, there is no intention of paying the person for their work.  Never mind the fact that they literally paid thousands of dollars and spent hundreds of hours on training to be able to know what they know.  Sure.  Go ahead.  Ask them to do it presumptively for free.

IT professionals are not hardly alone in this phenomenon.  This scenario plays itself out all the time across all kinds of different skill sets.  Artists get asked to help with painting projects, hair stylists get asked to cut/color hair, mechanics get asked to perform auto repairs, people get asked to babysit, musicians are asked to entertain, people with trucks get asked to help move, etc. (I realize that owning a truck isn't a skill, but I think it still qualifies to be in the list of things you get asked to do for free based on something you have that others may not.)

So, can we not ask our friends and acquaintances for help when we need it?  Of course, you can.  But, recognize the actual value of a good or service (not just your perhaps flawed sense of perceived value) and be prepared to pay for it.  Offer to pay for it.  If the friend wants to discount his/her own service/goods then that's another thing entirely, but certainly don't suggest it yourself.  Also, be prepared for the person to decline.  Your relationship is more valuable than the good or service for which is being asked.  If asking a friend for goods or a service, try to provide a reasonable way out.  Keep in mind that it's difficult to say no to a friend even if there is a multitude of perfectly great reasons for declining.  If they seem reluctant to accept, it's because they're probably searching for a good way to decline without hurting your feelings.  Take the hint, don't pressure them, and let them off the hook without applying any guilt.  And for crying out loud, do NOT take offense because someone won't do something for you.  What a lame and self-righteous reason to have an issue with someone.

I recently had an epiphany about value.  I used to believe that the value of something was set solely by what the market was willing to pay for it.  I no longer believe that.  While this is true to some extent, the value of something is also, if not primarily, set by the owner's reluctancy to sell the item.  For example, there is no "blue book" value on a 1942 Buick with no engine.  However, if the owner won't sell it for less than $2,000, then the value is $2,000, regardless of what the market is willing to pay.

The cost of failing to recognize value in goods in the marketplace may result in having to needlessly replace them or simply having to go without them.  The cost of failing to recognize value in services in the marketplace will make you a bad customer or not a customer at all.  The cost of failing to recognize value of goods or services among friends is loss of friendships.  It can become a wedge in the relationship that eventually, if not immediately, ends it.  Nobody wants that.  Don't let Grouponitis invade your relationships.  Value things.  Value service.  Above all, value people.

Home Renovators!


Almost everyone who knows us, also knows that we are DIY home renovators.  But, what is a DIY home renovator?  What does that mean?  Allow me to explain.

We are a rare breed of human.  We're superhuman.  We aren't natural.  We're supernatural.

We see into the future.  We don't gaze upon the work to be done, we visualize the finished result.  We peer into the possibility of a potential project and see what others cannot.  With our house, even our realtor tried to talk us out of it.  "Too much work", she said.  Scoff.  Quiet thy tongue, mortal.  This is our destiny.

We walk through walls.  Literally.  To our home, we've added 12 new doorways and closed off 10 old ones.  We changed the floor plan drastically to make more sense and to add 550 square feet of livable space.

We wear tool belts that shame Batman.  He may have a grapple gun for quick repelling and bat-shaped boomerangs to stun bad guys, but we have tools that shape steel, slice wood, shoot nails, and bond materials.  Batman may have items meant for destruction, but we sport the goods for mass construction.

We have immunity to the elements.  We breathe dust.  We shake off electrocutions.  We eat lead.

Our marriage (with God (the ultimate Renovator) intertwined as the third strand in our cord (Ecclesiastes 4:12) defeats the enemy on all fronts.  This article by a leading home renovation magazine states that a poll they took of their readers showed that over 12% of them have seriously considered a divorce while knee deep in a renovation project.  That's sad, of course.  But, rest assured, the most difficult project is no match for us.

All the joking aside, we really are different.  Major DIY home renovators are certainly the minority in this country.  I found this article online and really liked it.  It is a list of 9 things to do to keep your sanity during a home renovation.  It points out many of the difficulties that one will face when attempting even a small home improvement project, much less a large scale one.  Most people simply aren't cut out for it long term.

Proof that we are on the extreme end of DIY home renovators is the following list I also found online.  It listed 10 home improvement projects that you should NOT attempt to do yourself.  Yeah, we have already performed 8 of the 10.  Pshh.

  • Tree Removal
    • Cutting down trees, or even removing branches requires climbing and working with dangerous tools from a high distance off the ground. This is disaster waiting to happen, and definitely something better left to professionals who are trained and paid to do this.
  • Home Additions Or Structural Changes
    • Knocking down walls might seem like a simple task, but behind those walls could be electrical wiring, gas pipes and plumbing that can cause huge problems in your home. Rather than taking a chance, consult a contractor first!
  • Paving Your Driveway
    • Paving stones can turn a boring driveway into a focal point. And while they look relatively simple to install, the reality is that the measuring and positioning of paving stones can be tremendously time-consuming. (Think of it as a game of Tetris on steroids.) But a team of professionals can cut installation down to a day, depending on your driveway size.
  • Electrical Work
    • It's one thing to flip a fuse switch to the power in your home on or off, but another to attempt to repair faulty wiring or any other electrical issues without professional help. Working with electrical wires can be deadly and the proper precautions and knowledge are crucial.
  • Plumbing Repair
    • Unless it's something simple like unclogging a toilet or fixing a drain, messing with plumbing can cause major dilemmas (Just think about an overflowing toilet or unstoppable burst in a pipe...not fun). It's always better to ask a plumber before trying to tackle any plumbing issues on your own.
  • Repairing An Above Ground Pool
    • While we're sure most people wouldn't attempt to tackle a project like this on their own, we figure we should mention that it would be extremely dangerous to make these repairs. All it takes is one loose piece of siding, and the entire pool could collapse.
  • Roof Repair
    • Besides the fact that working on top of a roof is very risky because one could easily lose their footing and slip, it can also be detrimental to your home's structure if you don't know the proper way to install or repair roofing. If you are going to check the roof for damages or cleaning gutters, bring a friend and proceed with caution.
  • Installing Siding
    • If done properly, siding can last for years. But if siding is not securely installed, weather conditions can tear it off, or seep underneath, causing harm to the frame of your home. Rather than taking this chance, it's safer to have a professional install it properly.
  • Adding Or Replacing Windows
    • Specialized tools and methods are required to properly install new windows to make sure they are well insulated and secure. While it can be costly, a professional can ensure that you'll be comfortable in your home for years to come.
  • Creating An Outdoor Kitchen
    • We're the first to admit outdoor kitchens are fantastic, but attempting to put one in yourself could be disastrous. It might seem easy enough (a little flooring and a grill-station) but you could end up with a half-finished patio and plumbing gone awry. So while it might be tempting to build one in your backyard, ask yourself if you'll really use the kitchen year-round...and then, of course, call in a pro. 

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