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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!

The '59 Comes Home

The '74 with the '59 stacked up on the trailer.
When we sold our house last December we bought another.  We did this on the same day so for a few hours we were homeless.  While, obviously, a few hours of being homeless during a nice afternoon doesn't cause any suffering or struggle like that typically associated with homelessness, it does, however, cause an incredible amount of work for a family moving from one 4-bedroom home to another.

We had two options:
  1. Rent as many U-Haul trucks as it would take to put everything on trucks while we closed on both properties. (Probably would have required 2 of the largest available trucks.)
  2. Rent as many storage units as it would take to put everything in storage while we closed on both properties.
Delivering a load from storage to our new shop.
We went with option #2 and rented storage units.  It took four of them and we really put the '74 Ford to work.  Our reasoning was simple but the work was very difficult.  This option forced us to move everything twice, once into the storage units and once back out.  The simple reasoning for choosing this option was that any number of things could have arisen on closing day that would have caused a delay and an unplanned reschedule.  If everything we owned at that time was sitting in U-Haul trucks, we would be forced to move it into storage at that time to return the trucks or pay for extended truck rental.  Either way, it could have been financially devastating if a delay occurred.  But, one didn't.  Oh well.  Better safe than sorry, right?

One thing that didn't get put into storage was the '59 Ford.  It went to my wife's aunt's field behind her house.  I never intended to leave it there beyond a week from moving, but you know what they say about good intentions.  Lyric and I made two trips there last night to collect all but the front clip.

It is exciting to have the '59 back at home with me.  It's now making friends with the '84 sitting mere feet away that will soon selflessly donate it's chassis and power train to reviving the '59, upgrading it with 25-year newer equipment.

Lyric, once again, was a big help.  He's become my little go-to for help moving big ticket items that require engineering-minds and tools to move in place of brawn.  Couldn't have done it without him.

Self-Identification, The New Reality?

Is this really a debate?  I mean, really?  How is this discussion of "transgender bathroom rights" even a thing?

If you don't care to read the article I linked to above (I don't blame you) here is a summary:  A girl named Gavin in Richmond, VA is suing the school board (represented by the ACLU, of course) for discrimination because the school board told her that she couldn't use the boys' bathroom.

To start, I am annoyed at the confusion of the gender pronouns in the article.  The article starts off with this paragraph:
A federal appeals court in Richmond has ruled that a transgender high school student who was born as a female can sue his school board on discrimination grounds because it banned him from the boys' bathroom.
The author uses 'his', 'him' and 'he' a combined total of 10 times in the article.  But, the author also states right out of the gate that Gavin was born a female and later in the article refers to Gavin being denied access to the boys' bathroom since it doesn't match Gavin's biological sex which admits that HER biological sex is and always was female.  Since when do our personal whims get to override biology?

Second, why is it that Gavin's self-identity is any more relevant that her classmate's identity of her?  Stated differently for clarity, Gavin self-identifies as a boy and likely has a classmate named Josh who is a boy, self-identifies as a boy, AND identifies Gavin as a girl.  So, concerning issues that affect them both, it is unfair to allow the identification of Gavin solely to rest on Gavin.  Shouldn't Josh have a say since he, too, is affected?  Now, the reality is that there are hundreds of students who use the boys' bathroom and likely all of them identify Gavin as a girl.  Why should Gavin's single identification get to override the hundreds of identification from others?  Why should they all be uncomfortable so that Gavin can be comfortable?

Third, if self-identification is now a thing and all people everywhere have to accept one's self-identification then where does it end?  Like Gavin ignores biology, can a 15-year-old ignore age and self-identify as a 21-year-old?  Must liquor stores then sell to him?  Can someone ignore profession?  Can a postal worker identify as a police officer and pull someone over and ticket them for a civil infraction?  Does the one receiving the ticket have to pay it?  Does the court system have to enforce it?  All because the postal worker's untrained and unauthorized self-identification?  Wouldn't that be impersonating an officer which is a crime?  If biology can be ignored, can physics?  Can a 300 lb man renew his driver's license and claim to be a trim 145?  Wouldn't law enforcement protest people misrepresenting themselves on their state identification cards?  How about those in prisons?  Many of them maintain their innocence.  If they self-identify as innocent, who are we to deny their freedom?

Fourth, it is a fact that people can have psychological issues.  We all know this.  So, if a girl thinks that she is a boy, the logical and reasonable response would be to believe that something is wrong with her psychologically.  Instead, misguided people would rather agree with her and believe that something is instead wrong with her body.  But, there is nothing wrong with Gavin's body.  She was beautifully created as a girl and should embrace it.  Unfortunately, she's grown up in a sick culture that would rather celebrate her "courage" to be something she isn't than encourage her to be a healthy version of herself.

Opponents to my position on the subject are moved to believe that there is a real and present discrimination here because she self-identifies as a boy, attempts to look like a boy, claims to be uncomfortable in using the girls' bathroom, and is being told she cannot use the boys' bathroom.  But, far fewer people would sympathize with Gavin (probably not the name she was given at birth, by the way) if her name were Gabriella and she looked like a girl.  If this Gabriella were to claim to self-identify as a boy and be making the same case that Gavin is now making, much less support would be present for Gabriella.  Why?  Because she looks like a girl.  But, what do looks have to do with it?  Hmm?  Now, I'm just stirring the pot.  See?  I don't like the idea of Gavin being alone in the bathroom with my teenage son.  It's inappropriate.  But, I'm strongly opposed to Gabriella being alone in the bathroom with my teenage son.  What's the difference?  You tell me.  The fact is that those who are claiming a discrimination to be present are unknowingly judging a book by its cover.  They support Gavin's quest (more likely the ACLU's quest using Gavin as a pawn) because of what she looks like, not necessarily because of what she truly believes about herself.  Because of her appearance, they don't question her intentions in trying to gain admittance to the boys' bathroom.  Gabriella, on the other hand, would likely be judged and labeled some sexually promiscuous name if she were attempting the same thing because her intentions would be automatically questioned.

The reason that these sorts of cases should be thrown out immediately is because of the simple reason that we don't get to decide as individuals what reality is and then force that reality on others.  There are things that are decided for you and you should accept and live with those things.  If you want to feel like a victim of your circumstances, you're welcome to do so.  But, you don't get to make victims of everyone else, because you'd rather accept a falsehood as your personal truth.

Perhaps, our attempt as a society to be civilized has created what some very confused people take to be a gray area when the rest of us just take its obviously intended meaning for granted.  But, a wise woman (my wife) suggested the most obvious fix to the issue:  Rather than have bathrooms labeled boys/girls, men/women, gentlemen/ladies, etc. perhaps we should just label them penises/vaginas.  That should clear up people's ridiculous confusion.

'59 Ford Version 2.0

In May of 2014, I wrote about and posted pictures of the removal of the '59's body from its frame.  I laid out my plans to take that body and put it on a newer truck's frame to gain all the pretty little things I wanted for the '59 such as power disk brakes, power steering, a beefier frame and suspension better suited for towing, a carbureted 302 engine, etc.

In that blog, I shared this screenshot of a Craigslist ad displaying just the kind of truck I thought I needed.  I'm glad I didn't have the means at the time to purchase a truck because I would've wound up with this truck or one just like it and it wouldn't have worked.

Much to my disappointment but also relief that I hadn't already made the mistake of making a purchase, I found out through online forums and one particularly helpful website that my '59 had a 118" wheelbase (measured distance from the center of the front wheel to the center of the rear wheel).  The '59 is a long bed so, naturally, I was in the market for a long bed.  But, not all long beds were created equally, I have since learned.  My requirements for power steering and power brakes meant that the truck I bought would have to be a '73 or newer since that's when they started making those things standard.  The problem is that in that time span Ford had increased the stability of their long bed pickups by increasing the wheelbase from 118" to 133".  If I had bought a long bed, I would've been horrified when finding that there would be a 16" space between my cab and the bed when putting the '59 body on it instead of a normal 1" gap.

If I would've done that, the only way to fix it is to chop the frame shorter, but that is super complicated and precision work that I am not qualified to do.  Also, that requires shortening the driveshaft, replacing brake lines, etc, etc.  Much more work than necessary.  And many more expenses, at that.

The solution:  Look for a short bed.  Short bed ford pickups with the standard cab, starting in '73, had a 117" wheelbase all the way through '96.  With only an inch difference, no one will notice that the wheels are each 1/2" closer to the center of the vehicle.

The requirement of a carburetor though would give me a maximum year of '84.  In '85, fuel injection became standard.  Carburetors are less fuel efficient and get worse fuel mileage, but they are adjustable and easy to work on.  They require no computers or sensors to make your motor run correctly unlike fuel injection systems.  With computers and a multitude of sensors, diagnosing engine troubles becomes a sophisticated guessing game where the needless replacement of parts is common and emotions can run high.  In contrast, carburetors get the job done even if they need some adjusting.

I also discovered on this online forum that I should avoid an '80 through early '82 Ford because they were made with what is now referred to as the "swiss cheese" frame.  Ford did this to lighten the vehicle,  I hear, but it also significantly weakened it. A quick Google search will return many photos of trucks with twisted frames.  Ford learned from their mistake in subsequent years.

So, I was looking for a good-running carbureted 302, automatic, short bed, standard cab Ford truck that was a '73-'79 or '83-'84.  Oh, and did I mention super cheap, too?

With all the requirements I had, it was proving to be something of a unicorn, it seemed.  Short beds weren't all that common in those years to begin with.  And, for good reason.  I don't like them.  4x8 sheets are common in construction from drywall to plywood to foam sheets, etc.  You know why?  Because, it's what fits in a truck bed.  Granted, you can haul them in a short bed with the tailgate down.  But, nothing beats loading a stack of drywall sheets in your long bed truck and casually shutting the tailgate.  No need for straps or flags.  Just a lift of the tailgate and you're done.  Now, you could argue that the long bed was designed for the standard size sheet of construction material instead of the other way 'round.  But, I could, in turn, call you names to your face.  So there.  ;)

After some good long searching, I finally found it.  A 1984 Ford F-150 with a good-running carbureted 302, automatic, short bed, standard cab.  It was a little more than what I wanted to pay, but I got a little more than what I expected to get, too.  It came with a nice "mechless" head unit with remote, 400w amp, and quality 6x9 speakers so I'm all set to put a good little sound system in the '59.  It also came with a full set of custom 8" wide wheels with 33" tires (seen on the rear only the picture here).  The tires are pretty worn, but they'll do until I'm ready to put on some new ones.  I love the lifted look.and it has me considering installing a 3" body lift as I put the '59 body on it.

The '84 body is in really great shape.  I will list the body at two prices once I get it off, all together at a good price as well as individually at a higher piece price.  I suspect that I should have no trouble selling it since I have personally seen lots of body parts being sold quick on Craigslist for these models in all my searching.  Especially, in the good shape that this one is in.  That will help to offset the cost of buying the truck in the first place.

This is what I'm going for.  I don't know if I'm settled on the paint scheme, but right now I feel like this it what I will likely do.  This is the original two-tone paint scheme and I think that it shows off the style of the truck the best.  The original designers knew what they were doing to highlight the features of the shape.  When these are painted a solid color, they look good, for sure.  But, I feel like the solid color lacks proper definition of the unique shape of the body.  I'm not a huge fan of red, normally.  But, for some reason, I'm not sure what, it's red that stands out as the color I like most for this truck.

Here are some other colors.  What do you think?  Leave a comment of your favorite.  I promise not to call you names to your face. ;)

Copa America Centenario - Free Poster

Copa America 2016 Bracket Interactive Schedule Score Sheet Free Poster Download
If you're like me at all, then you love international soccer events and you love to keep score of all major international tournaments.  So, I'm sharing what I create to help myself keep track of all the action.

The kickoff game for Copa America is June 3rd.  I can't hardly wait.  Here are links to the full-sized, high resolution PDF and PNG versions of the score sheet pictured here to the right.  They're pretty big files because I designed them to be printed at 24 inches by 36 inches.  Staples will print this as an "engineering print" (black & white) at that size for only $3.  Printing in color is best so that you can see all the flags correctly, but it's more expensive.  So, to each their own.

I also made a poster for the Euro 2016 tournament.  You should grab it, too. If you haven't used this sheet or one like it before to keep score of all the games then you are missing out.  By keeping track of all the outcomes, it adds a level of excitement to the entire tournament.

I've also added some links in the drop-down menu above just in case.

As always, this is free of charge.  I hope you enjoy it!

Coloring Within The State Lines

One of the cool things about keeping a blog is that it creates a record of your life that you can go back and refer to for information. The alternative is to remember all the details of one's life and since people aren't very good that, maintaining a written record is important.

I was thinking about the states that we have visited since soon we will be visiting a new one. Or, at least, I will. Tennessee is one of the states that is on Jodi's list of having visited that I have not to date. I had a layover in Memphis but, as per the rules I established in the blog, Mapping Out Your Travels, changing planes in a state doesn't count for having visited that state unless, during your layover, you left the airport and actually experienced something there.

In Mapping Out Your Travels, I shared maps for both Jodi and myself of the states that we had visited in our lifetimes.  They were both pretty similar since we've done way more traveling together than we ever did in our sad little lives previous to meeting each other.  Neither of our families did much traveling in our respective childhoods.  That blog was written in July 2013 and we've added a bunch of states since that time that have made our individual maps almost identical.

In August 2013, we took all three children for a vacation to Virginia and Washington D.C. (black line on map)  This added Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia to our traveling repertoire.  In August 2014, Jodi and I took a long tour of the West, adding Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, & New Mexico for me and all those plus Utah, Nevada & Arizona for Jodi (red line on map).  In June 2015, Jodi & I took Lyric & Ezra to Wyoming for a vacation with our friends there (blue line on map).  We left a day early so that we could make short stops in Colorado for fun then crash for the night in western Kansas.

So, with these trips under our belt, our map looks like this.  The blue states are ones that we've both visited.  Wisconsin is red because only I have been there with Tennessee being green because only Jodi has been there (until soon when it will turn blue).

In Mapping Out Your Travels, Jodi commented, "I'd say we could stand to visit some more of this country. Goal?"  I think we've done a fair job of this, so far.  I look forward to the future excursions we plan out and embark on.  This is an interesting country with all its different cultures, landscapes and climates.  As it stands right now, Jodi and I have each visited 25 states.  So, we're only half way there.  May the next 25 not take so long.

Mini Vaca

Hunting for Morel mushrooms.
Friends of ours are in Jamaica right now and they were gracious enough to allow us to stay at their home for the weekend.  They live on the river and have a beautiful newly renovated home.

But before our short retreat, we spent Saturday morning at the soccer fields in Ozark for Lyric's double-header.  He was pretty amazing in goal and made me proud.  He even scored a fantastic shot when playing offense from around the corner of the penalty area.  The ball got knocked loose from a group and he sort of volleyed it up and over the goalkeeper, a pretty fair distance for a successful shot in his age group.

We had about an hour between games so we took advantage of Ben's on the Square, a coffee shop on the square in Ozark, which is only a couple minutes away from the park.  Coffees, scones, and a muffin later, we hustled back to the field for the second game.

Foraging some sheep sour.
Once home, we worked all afternoon mowing, weed eating, organizing the shop, and deep cleaning our newly acquired pop-up camper (more on that in Jodi's soon-to-be-created blog).

The restful weekend begun Saturday evening when we arrived at our friend's river home and Jodi made a yummy salsa of fresh tomatoes, peppers, cilantro and onions.  The children soaked in the hot tub for a bit before bed, but once tucked into their beds and fast asleep, Jodi and I enjoyed a relaxing hot tub night under a clear night's sky.

Sunday morning offered a hearty breakfast of sausage, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes and coffee.  We hunted for mushrooms in the woods but came up empty-handed (that's ok), floated a canoe up river with the children to hunt for interesting rocks and came up full-handed (that's ok), played some football, played some soccer, cleaned up after ourselves, had a wonderful-tasting and wonderfully healthy dinner of local beef, mashed turnips with forest-foraged chives, and baked butternut squash.

Ezra's butternut squash babies.
Ezra got pretty emotionally distraught about mom cooking her squash friends, but it turned out that she just needed a nap before dinner and got a pretty good one.

It was a very short retreat of about 26 hours, but enjoyable nonetheless.  And, due to all the work we got done on Saturday at home before we left, there was no self-inflicted guilt for taking the break.

Big brother watching out for little sis at the river's edge.
Loving the short float trip, a first for Ezra.
Searching for interesting rocks
Baked butternut squash
Peeled turnips.  Who knew you could mash them like potatoes?  I didn't.
Find the camouflaged frog
Picking up speed
Found an old headlight in the woods that naturally turned into a little planter

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