Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mommy, Daddy Has a Red Neck!

Finally, we had some decent weather (not 110dF for a change!) so I decided to get a bunch of things done outside.  We started with digging out the pink paint and helping the 5 year old paint the teeter-totter we built the previous weekend.  While she was doing that, I took a pretty good run at some weeds that had been bothering us (and were about 4' tall).  When that was done, I helped her finish up the painting (yes, the VERY pink paint...and the white posts), and then I decided to finally build my teppanyaki grill.

So, this teeter-totter was born in typical redneck fashion.  First, she hounded me about it for over a week.  It sounded pretty much like this: "Daddy can we build a teeter-totter now?   Daddy can we build a teeter-totter now?  Daddy..." I think you get the point.  Eventually I agreed that we could do it in the very early morning of the next Saturday.  That gave me a couple of days to figure out exactly how I was going to pull this off.

Saturday came, and what I came up with was fairly simple.  First, I grabbed a piece of old galvanized 5/8" rod that was left over from another project.  That was to be the pivot point.  I then found the center of gravity on an 8' long piece of 4x4 that I had laying around, and drilled a 5/8" hole in the center of it.  Following that I took a leg from an old swing set that was left on the property when we moved in, and cut it in half.  I then drilled 5/8" holes in both halves, about 2" down from one of the ends.  Then, I buried the other ends in the ground about half way, and filled them with rocks and dirt.I then put the 4x4 in between them, and put the 5/8" rod through the whole shebang (yea...I said it...SHEBANG!).  After that I took a couple of 3' pieces of 2x6, and laid them lengthwise in line with the 4x4, and overhung the ends of the 4x4 by about 1' to 1.5' and screwed them on.  These are for the seats.  I have not added handles yet (I keep promising that...I should get on it) but at least it is functional and we can paint it!  Here is the after picture:

After getting her started on the painting, I went off to cut some weeds.  My weed eater wouldn't start, so I attempted to hack them down with a garden hoe. you can imagine, that didn't work out so well, so I fired up the lawn mower.  That worked MUCH better, and I ended up with 2 wheel barrows full of weeds.  That's what fire pits are for!

When I was done with that I decided to finally make my teppanyaki grill.  This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time, and even more so after taking a class at Benihana.  As with most of my projects, this too was about as redneck as it could get.  I scored an old barbecue grill from a buddy (for free) and I gutted the insides (yes, I kept all of that scrap metal).  I went to the metal store (no...this was not something I had laying around already...and is the only cost associated with this project) and I purchased a piece of 1/4" aluminum plate.  I cut that sucker to the correct size using an angle grinder and smoothed the edges with a flapper wheel.  It dropped right in!  I then cleaned and scoured the crap out of that aluminum, and heated it up to as hot as I could get it.  NO WARPING!  Exactly what I was hoping for!  That night we had an AWESOME dinner!  Here is a picture of the grill top and the veggies:

 and some ham:

Yea...I'm awesome!

Since that day, we have used that grill at least every other day.  It is fast for cooking, and allows me to cook a lot of food at one time.  Being able to use oil and other liquids is a big boon to cooking.  I have even made a very large batch of breakfast burritos!  This thing is awesome at heating up tortillas as well!  I have not even touched my other grill...sorry old faithful... the end of that day, we were sitting in the living room floor playing, and my middle daughter looks at me, turns to mommy and says: "Mommy, Daddy has a red neck!"  Yep...I guess that pretty much sums it up. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

MORE POWER!! (Poles that is)

Mrs. Teknosmurf and I were driving some time ago and the topic came to the front drive and what we are going to do with it.  After driving by some local properties we saw something we both like.  It was a ranch style entrance made out of old telephone/power poles.  Since then I have been on a quest to find something similar and suitable.

After acquiring the proper truck (an older Ford F-250 flatbed), a triple axle trailer, and a chain saw (wow...this is an expensive project already!  Just kidding...this is all stuff I wanted to get anyway) I finally found someone that had a bunch of poles he was getting rid of, and he was 20 minutes away.  As it turns out, the owners of Sossaman Farms (at the corner of Ocotillo and Sossaman roads) acquired these poles when they were doing some street widening.  They were willing to cut me a discount if I purchased all of them.  Of course I had LOTS of projects in mind, so I told them I would take them all.

So then came the logistical part.  That is a lot of poles, and they are HEAVY!  I asked if I could come after work the next day to take a look.  Of course the answer was: "Well...can you do it tonight, or early in the morning?  We are heading up north and won't be back until Wednesday."  My response was: "Sure...but I will have to take the day off tomorrow, and you are going to have to have a tractor or something to help us.  I can't do it all by myself and I won't be able to get help.  I do have a chainsaw to cut them."  "Yes, I have access to a front loader that we can use". we have a deal!

The rest of that night I get the trailer hooked up, air up the tires, get all of my tools that I might need, and heavy duty straps and what have you.  By the time I was done getting everything together, it was 10:00, and I had to be at the guys house by 5:00am.  I also realized that with this load my truck lights wouldn't be visible.  So maybe I should get some magnetic lights tomorrow at Walmart.

I get up early and start to head out.  Of course, it's raining pretty good.  Great, this is going to be FUUUUUN!  I get to Walmart and park on the side of the building (because of the trailer) and of course, all doors are locked. around to the front...still says 24 hours, are you kidding me!  Then the guy gathering carts points to the other door.  By this time I am soaked and it is 10 min. to 5:00 already.  I text the guy, and he was actually relieved because now he could get his cup of coffee while he waits for me.

I walk into Walmart and get to the lights...sure enough, $50!  Really? These silly things are $20 at the other store...what gives...isn't this Wally-World!  I relent and decide that I can bring them back if I don't use them, so I will do everything I can to not use them.

I finally get there and we head back to the poles.  Hmmm...this doesn't look to bad.  HA HA,  famous last words!

The guy calls in one of his off-duty farm hands.  This guys had plans this afternoon, and was sleeping in because of the rain, but he finally reluctantly came in.  Turns out, he was the PERFECT guy to drive this front loader!  He was a native Arizonan with a Native American ancestry.  He was VERY dark skinned from working in the sun, on this farm, for the last 20 years.

The front loader already had hooks welded to the top of the bucket, and the chains were sitting in the bucket.  Hmmm..maybe they have done this before?  I guess so...they had so many tractors, both "normal" sized and VERY VERY LARGE ONES!  I about wet my pants when I saw all this hardware!  I was like a kid in a candy store...only it was like mom being there telling me to keep my hands off.  Oh well I still had a blast!

So we start loading these things on the trailer and it becomes apparent very quickly that we will have to make multiple trips.  The guy decides to get his truck hooked up to his car hauler and we also load that trailer.  Great, he is going to follow me down, now I don't have to worry about the lights.  The only problem is I will have to come back and get the last of it because they didn't even fit on two trailers!  BTW, did I mention it is about 9:30 at this point?  He has to leave at noon and his farm hand has to leave at 1:00.

So, we get down to my place with the first run.  Now the fun part.  How do we get those logs off his trailer with no tractor!  Well...this turned out to not be a big deal either as we had a Bronco and some chains.  Yep, you guessed it, a redneck moment is about to hit again!  Wrap the chain around a log and yank!  We got them all off and headed for my trailer.  Mine was MUCH easier as it is a flat bed.  They just rolled right off!

Now we head back up to his place.  I stop by the bank on the way because I haven't had time to get the cash yet.  I pay him and we get to finishing up.  We start cutting the first log and would you believe the newly sharpened chainsaw chain is dull again.  Crap, now what do I do.  I convince them to take me up to True Value down the street, and sure enough, they have 3 brand new chains for my saw in stock!  I bought the farm hand a coke and took the entire stock of chains.  Yep...I'll just bring back what I don't use, but I can't afford to have this be a problem again. is a good point to tell you that all morning I have been having problems getting straight cuts.  I told the farm hand after the first cut that I must need some coffee or something.  He said: "Yea, I know, there's a McDonald's down the street to get an ice coffee at".  Of course I answered something to the affect of how "anti productive" THAT would be...first off, it's an ICED COFFEE.  That in-and-of itself is an oxymoron in my book!  Anyway the second cut was also crooked.  This time I blame it on: "my eyes must be crooked".  To that he was just about rolling in the dirt from laughing so hard.  Then the third one and I start blaming it on the chain being dull or something.  Any bets on if he bought that one or not?  Yea...I wouldn't take that bet either.  Anyway, after we got the new chain I had a particularly crooked cut.  He comments: " least the cuts are getting straighter!"  Of course I immediately come back with: "Either your eyes must be getting crooked too, or you are getting more full of sh*t!"  He just laughed and walked away.  I am beginning to really like this guy and his sense of humor.

Anyway, this new chain cuts like butter!  We get it done and load up the last of my trailer.  By the time I am done, the new chain is almost dull again.  These things are not very gentle on chains!

The guy offers to follow me down since I don't have lights, but I assure him that hand signals will be fine, and I take my chance.  Sure enough, I have no problems.  As a matter of fact, I absolutely love my new truck, trailer, and saw!  These things perform very well, and this truck is a hauling monster! You can hardly tell there is anything connected back there (until you try to stop, but who needs to do that ;) ).

Anyway, now I have a stack of poles as you can see below.  I am about as sore today as my muscles would allow (a good hurt).  Now I have to figure out what to do with all of these!  I do know we want the entry, and maybe even 3 entries.  I also know I want a gantry at the entrance of my shed.  This is to hook a block and tackle up to for lifting things off the trailer.  It will also make a good door stop for the shed doors, and provide a little bit of personalization to the property.  Finally, we are going to line the drive with them to help keep water directed away and also provide a more "homey" feel.

Here is the picture of most the days stash (note there is another pile on the other side behind the trailer): big job leads to another set of big jobs!  I can't wait to start placing them!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Angels are looking after you

This story actually started a couple of weeks ago when I found out about a website called  I'm not advertising for or against this site, but in this case it worked out for me.  When I first signed on, I ran across an old post advertising mobile home wheels for free.  Since I use those on my water trailer I decided to pick them up...the worst that could happen is I would have to get rid of them.  I got them home and immediately threwthem in the shed, not needing them right at the moment.

Well...a couple of days ago I traded my Chevy Astro for a Ford F250 flat bed truck.  In the course of doing the transaction, and talking a LOT (we are both chatter boxes apparently), the guy mentioned that I could have an old water storage tank he has sitting around, and that he had an old towing receiver hitch for the F250, and that he would simply give those to me if I could use them.  SCORE!

Well...we continued talking and discussing things that we could trade.  He mentioned a big ol' trailer that he has, and I said...hey...wanna trade it?  His wife was standing right there and lit up.  Apparently this trailer has been there for quite some time, and her and their son were ready to get it out of there.  He was hesitant, but I sent him my list of stuff, he picked out an old utility trailer, a cargo carrier, and an air compressor in trade for the trailer.  He was also willing to give me a brand spankin' new 10,000lb winch for it for $300.  Hmmm...let me think about that for all of about....oh....1/3rd of a second!  HECK YA!

So this thing is a triple (yes 3, not 2) axle trailer that has mobile home wheels on it.  He is pretty sure 4 of the wheels are good, but 2 are questionable. comes and I load up any decent spare mobile home wheels/tires, all of the things he wanted, my bucket of tools and my bucket of tie downs and head over there after work.

I get almost to his place and to an ATM for the cash part, and I get a call from him.  He says he has been working all day to get that out of his yard (he had various problems) but he succeeded and got the 5th tire to hold air.  The 6th one was in decent shape, but the bead was broken, and he can't get it to seat. matter, we'll see if mine fits, and if not, I am sure it will be just fine to get home on 4 tires, or even two.  Well...low and behold, mine actually holds air, and is the correct size!  I let his son slap that puppy on the trailer and it looks great!  I actually have all six tires usable!

We get all the formalities taken  care of, titles swapped, cash traded, etc, and he says that I can keep the tool box that's on the trailer (SCORE 2).  It fits nicely on the tongue.  Next he has his son, and a couple of friends that happened to be over at the time, pull all of this pool fencing out of the back yard and load it on the trailer (SCORE 3).  Mrs. Teknosmurf wants it for her garden.  Then, he says his neighbor down the street is getting rid of one of those 1-Step slide/playground things for free.  Guess where we headed next...SCORE 4!  I tell you what...this guy is really making my week!  At the very end he comes out with a brand new, heavy duty trailer jack AND a rotating mechanism for it, and hands it to me.  Really?  THANKS DUDE!  SCORE 5!

Well...I leave to go pick up that play set, and realize that at 20mph there is a substantial bouncing from the trailer.  I slow back down and it stops.  I confirm one more time.  Then I think...maybe this is just a one speed thing.  Sure enough, at about 25mph it stops completely and is smooth sailing.  I still check the wheels when I stop at the play set...just to be sure.  It is pretty obviously an "empty trailer bounce" and at that speed, everything lines up, synchronizes, and oscillates just right.

After loading up the play set we say our goodbyes and I start strapping it down.  While doing so, some lady drives by and rolls down her window and says: "There is another one of those play sets down the street and round the corner if you are interested...go get it".  OK, cool, thanks!  Well...I couldn't stop by because I needed to get to the kids Gymnastics, followed by an appointment for Mrs. Tekno. was enough.  After strapping it down, I ease out onto the road, and increase speed slowly on the major street...yea...I'm holding up traffic...I also have a Ford Bronco and a massive triple axle trailer, what you gonna do 'bout it???

Well...everything is fine, and I even am able to basically do 60 or 65 down the freeway with no problems.  Trailer tracks straight as an arrow, it's just really friggin' heavy!  As I said, everything is fine...until...

...I get about 5 miles from the Little Tekno's gymnastics (which is clear across town at this point) and the temperature gauge on the mighty Bronco starts climbing rapidly...hmmm...that's not supposed to happen.  I immediately turn off the Air Conditioner and start to pull over to the side and the engine light comes on...hmmm..really not good.  I see a small side street ahead, so I make a bee-line for it.  Just as I turn the corner, the engine completely shuts down and I coast to the dirt side.  OK...this just got interesting.  I have a humongoid trailer attached (and did I mention the jack is broken at the moment, so I can't disconnect it easily?) a dead Bronco, and an appointment that I have to be at for Mrs. Teknosmurf in an hour and a half.  Better start making some phone calls.

I find the broken coolant hose buried deep in the engine compartment (it can't be on top of course...Murphy works very well with rednecks!) coming from a small manifold.  I get Mrs. Tekno headed this way with some extra anti-freeze while I start looking into what I can do to fix this problem.  The crack was right at a bend in the hose.  I did everything I could think of including cutting some heater core hose out and wrapping the leaking hose, plastic bottles cut into strips to wrap around the crack, shortening the offending hose and stretching...nothing was working.  By this time Mrs. Teknosmurf is here and waiting for at least I won't be eaten by vultures or something stupid, and someone will find  my body if I die of heat in this 108 degrees!

Well...I start to pack things up and close up the hood thinking that I will just leave everything and go to the auto parts store on the way back from the appointment.  I turn around, and see something sticking out of the ground.  I pull it up and would you believe it is coolant hose about 4 feet long, and basically brand spanking new!  I dig the cracked hose back out and low-and-behold it is the correct hose!  I can't believe my friggin' luck here!  I dig out my safety wire and twist pliers I have in my tool kit, and use that for hose clamps.  Apparently the clamps that were on the old hose were one-time use only as they distort when they are used.  I fill up the radiator with coolant...spilling half of it on the ground because of a lack of funnel, and fire it up.  IT IS HOLDING!  I turn the "rig" around and park it better so I can leave it for a while.  It's going to be cutting it close to get to that appointment now.

OK honey...let's go...we'll stop by afterward and pick this stuff up.  We race (and if any cops are reading, I mean we did the speed limit and no more) to the appointment.  She walks in and they tell her that the doctor had an emergency at the hospital, and is not in the plant.  We will have to reschedule. would have been nice to know BEFORE this stuff happened, but at least we can deal with the Bronco in the daylight!

Sure enough, the redneck fix holds pretty well, and gets us home (with a pit stop for some food).  The trailer is working out well...but would have been better, and actually been used for what I am intending it for if I had the receiver the guy gave me was actually ON the F250 the guy traded me, and the working jack that they guy gave me was installed so I could put the trailer from one vehicle to the other, and the winch (yep...that the guy gave me) hooked up so I could winch the Bronco onto the trailer and simply drive it home.  Oh well, I guess we will have to go that route the next time the Bronco fails (knocking on wood).

I relayed the short version of this story to the guy via text with emphasis on the whole finding of the correct hose laying at my feet.  His response was "Angels are looking after you".  I guess he was right.  Someone really had my back today!  It's just a really good thing the wife had her phone charged and actually had it on her today!  Thanks Babichkin!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Typical Redneck Day

A couple of days ago was apparently a very typical rednecky sort of day.  I say this because after telling the story to my brother, he was laughing out loud and flat out said that was the most redneck story he has heard in a long time.  So here is what happened, complete with pictures.

It all started at about 5:00 in the morning.  I left the house and immediately stepped on a board in the deck that was pretty rotten.  We have known this was a problem for some time, but haven't gotten around to replacing it.

As you can see from the picture above, the end of the board is in pretty bad shape.  Of course, as soon as I stepped on it, my foot and the board went all the way to the ground.  Luckily, I did not even touch any other board with my leg, so not only did I not get hurt...I didn't even dirty that part of my pants!  Can't say the same about the back of my pants...but that's another story ;)

So, after picking myself up out of the hole, I head over to my car.  As soon as I was about to put the key in the lock, I hear a "click, click, click..." sound.  I thought it was pretty odd that the pieces of board would still be moving, so I went to investigate.  Great...a water leak under the same deck...just what I needed.  And to answer your question no, neither the board or I landed on the simply was dumb coincidence.

So...I need to go to Home Depot to pick up an electrical box to put a power outlet on the side of the shed that the RV can plug into...I guess all of this just solidifies the decision!  Darn...I have to go to the big boy's toy store....what a shame.  So...after work I head to HD and pick up the electrical box, the conduit and wire, various pieces of wood, and various pieces of PVC piping that I *think* will be what I need to fix the leak.

Anyway, I get home and start working on the water leak.  Since I am the one hauling the water in (which reminds me...I need another blog to update on that progress) I am not going to let any more go to waste than needs to.  This problem is getting fixed TONIGHT! 

In this picture you can kind of see the puddle below the galvanized union.  I start by getting my pipe wrench and trying to unscrew the union.   Hmmm...not happening...I am turning the entire pump, PVC piping, and everything.   Darn...I don't have another wrench that big.  I guess I have an excuse to buy another tool!  Off to Walmart!

As you may know, Walley World doesn't have a great selection of tools.  I acquire the largest pair of Channel-Locks I can.  The jaws on these things open to about 4 inches!  WOW!  I get them back home, hold one side of the union while cranking on the rotating part.  IT STILL WON'T BUDGE!  Seriously?  Am I getting that weak or is the union corroded together so badly that it won't budge? matter, it's coming off...this silly thing is getting fixed TONIGHT!

I cut the PVC, unthread the cut piece from the union, and the union from the galvanized pipe.'s corroded so badly that it can't move.  Yuck...this is our water supply!  Oh well...I guess that's why we filter it.  Note to self...replace all galvanized pieces when it is feasible (in other words..that was a wasted thought...there will never be a "feasible time").  Anyway, I try threading on the PVC piece onto the galvanized pipe that will be joined to the union...CRAP...the galvanized pipe is 1.25" where the rest of the pipe is 1.5"  I got the wrong one!  Hmmm...time for some innovative redneck we go...I can do this...I have been a redneck long enough.

To make a long story short, what I came up with was to thread the old galvanized union back on to the galvanized pipe...this gave me my thread size change.  Then I threaded the old PVC connection back into the galvanized union.  This time I made sure to actually tighten the threads (I swear the previous owners were drunk when they did this every other job they did).  Then I glued a coupler, with a piece of scrap 1.5" PVC pipe, and the PVC union onto the 1.5" PVC pipe to join them.  I let it dry and voila!  No more leak!

Above is the picture of the finished, non leaking solution.  Not the most elegant, and not the most correct, but functional!

While the glue was drying on the PVC, I decided to tackle the deck board.  You saw the rotted board.  Now here is the fixed board:
Of course it is out of place being all new lookin' and ever' thin'...but at least it is in and I used screws instead of nails.  We are tired of the nails coming out.  I have not treated it or anything, but that will come in due time.

As a final project this day I needed to get this silly electrical box in place.  Recently my boss from my previous job called and asked if I would do some contract work for them.  In order to do this, I need a place that I won't be bothered (as is evident by the fact that my 5-year old is talking to me as I write this sentance completely oblivious to the fact that I am not paying attention to her).  In order to get this isolation, I decided the best thing to do would be to come up with a redneck RV!  For this, I can't run the generator all the time so I will need a constant source of power to run the AC and laptop (and fridge for drinks of course ;) ).  Hence the reason for the electrical box.  You can [barely] see the electrical connection on the side of the shed, as well as my new [redneck] office building in this picture:

Well...I crank out the electrical box in about 45 minutes, half in daylight and half in the dark as I (of course) have the power turned off.  Well, I got the electrical done, the board fixed, and got the water leak fixed, all in the amout of time I originally told my wife that I would get the electrical done.  What was it we bet on babichkin? off to get the final bathroom finished up.  We have guests coming this weekend and it would be nice to have a convenient toilet for them to use.  Although I am sure the bushes would be just fine, Mrs. Teknosmurf thinks it is a little tacky.

I think this is a perfect time to sign off with a quote from a great commedian...Today was definitely the day that prompted the saying: "Get 'er done!" by Larry the Cable Guy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I gotta get me a gopher gun.

This adventure started when one day both my wife and I drove home and about 20 little [generically] gophers spread out and ran back to their holes.  I started looking around closer and realized a bunch of little holes all around the mailbox, underneath a large tree right beside the house and around the large, 2500 gallon water tank.  You really can't be good to have a tree fall on your house or your water tank tip and fall into a hole.  Guess I gotta find a way to get rid of those suckers.

Attempt one, a couple of gas bombs that the previous owner left.  I read up on them online and found that you light them and drop them in the hole.  So I did this and covered the hole.  It turns out the "network" of tunnels I expected simply did not exist.  The smoke from the bombs simply seeped out of the ground where the main hole was as well as a couple of leaks in the dirt above the hole.  Not very effective if you don't know if the little guy is home or not.

Next was just talking it over with people and a lot of Internet searching.  The overwhelming consensus was that you really can't get rid of them easily.  Then one of my buddies said, "Just sit on your porch one morning, drink a bear, and shoot 'em!  It's fairly effective, and fun to boot!

So that settled it, time to look about legal ways to shoot them.  The only way I found was a pellet gun.  As best I can tell (the laws are a little vague when talking about laws out in the county) it is legal to shoot a pellet gun on your property.  So....I go to bass pro shop...AKA Mecca...

At the store, there were four guys, including me, around the pellet gun rack talking to the salesman.  Then one of the guys leans over to me and asks, "So what are you getting it for?" I said that I needed something for gophers...he says "ME TOO!"   I guess I'm not the only one that hates those little pests.

I ultimately buy the quietest one they have, the GAMO Whisper CFR.  You can see it in the picture above.  This thing is so quiet that I was outside shooting it all afternoon and the folks in the house had no idea I even fired!  I ended up getting that scope sited in so well that I hit the O on a Coke can from about 50 yards away.  Yea...that will do.  Then I start camping out looking for gophers.

Well...wouldn't you know it that as soon as I am ready for them, they stop coming around.  I took the pellet gun inside and decided to take a bunch of paper out to the burn pile.  I open the front door and I couldn't believe it...strolling right by in front of the mail a GOPHER!  I run back inside, shutting the door very carefully, and get the gun.  I line up in the door frame, using the frame as a rest, warn the family that is sitting in the family room right next to me, and I let one fly.  BULLS-EYE!  I hit that sucker right in the back of the head/neck.  I didn't post a picture because, well, let's face it...splattered gopher brains are not exactly a great dinner topic.

Anyway, that gopher got a proper cremation, and I am ready looking for another opportunity.  And for those of you "purists" out there.  Yes, I did make the tip of the rifle orange.  I didn't want police/traffic that drove by to think it was a real gone.  I have no idea if doing this is legal, but I didn't find anywhere that said it specifically was illegal, and I don't plan to let many people know when I am shooting it, so I don't see any harm in it at the moment.  It's just that we live on the corner of two major cross streets (for this area) and not all traffic are my good-ol'-boy neighbors.  I don't want those city folk to think I am aimin' for 'em!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Shoppin' Like a Redneck

Yep...that's me.  I borrowed a trailer in order to move my powder coating oven (which is an adventure in-and-of itself since it weighs 1100 lbs!) and convinced the people to let me keep the trailer for a couple of extra days.

The story goes like this: I was talking to my redneck co-worker about the problems with my water trailer.  The trailer itself works great.  I can haul 500 gallons at a time and it has no problem, however, the utility company's stand pipe only goes into the opening in the trailer by about one inch.  The problem is that there is so much pressure that it doesn't matter how hard I tie, strap, bungee, or hold that pipe into the opening, the first couple of times it will find a way to force itself up that extra inch and the next thing you know the car, trailer, water pump, and the dummy running the pump are all getting drenched!  On the hot summer days this may not be a big deal, but it could get pretty miserable in the winter.

Well...the brilliant idea that my buddy had was simply "raise the tanks so the hose goes in further".  Really genius?  I think I could have come up with that answer.  HOW do I do it?  Then I started rattling off my brilliant ideas, and he stopped me and said: "Why don't you just get one of those large pallets they deliver our CNC machines on"? we are getting somewhere.  He further explained that they are made of 4x4's, 4x6's, 2x8'x, etc, and that they are about 8' wide and up to 24 feet long.  How perfect!  Then he says they get rid of them here at work when we get the machines...make sure to keep my eyes open.

So I left the manager of the machine shop an email.  "Dude, if you have any more of those pallets, I want them!"  His response was that they probably won't get them in a while, but he will call the rigging company to see if they have any they want to get rid of.  10 minutes later I get a response: "They have him tomorrow to schedule a time".  DONE!  I call the dude, he says he has a few, and come get them before 3:00 because he wants to leave early.  DONE!

So I take that big-ol car haulin' trailer to work and park it in the parking lot all day.  Mind you this thing has horse hay all over it, scratches more than paint, and for tie-downs, horse-shoes welded to the side of the trailer.  Those horseshoes were both a blessing and a curse as you will soon see.  Anyway, I had to come up with a way to get those pallets up above the wheel wells because they were wider than the trailer at 8+ feet.  As luck would have it, my place of business did have a few extra small pallets laying out back they were getting rid of, so I stole all of the good ones and made an raised bed.

I get to the guy's rigging shop and see the stack of pallets, and holy cow!  These things were a lot like they said, but I didn't fully anticipate the scale of them until I got there...and they are just throwing them away!  I tried to lift one (just for fun...I knew I couldn't do it) and I anticipated they probably weighed about 600 lbs.  I have no idea if I am correct or not, but it sounded good.  The guy estimated about 800 to 1000lbs, so I told the guy that I wanted at least "these two" and probably "these two also", and "any more we think we could reasonably fit".  Well I got my wish, and I got the four I was hoping for, but it took him 2 different forklifts to do it.  The first one blew a seal while lifting the stack!

Well...he stacks the original four onto the trailer and the poor trailer and van start to sag quite a bit.  I tell him that is all I dare take, and he agrees.  It took me 30 minutes to get it all anchored down, supported appropriately, and all of the magnetic lights put on the trailer.  When standing from the back, you couldn't even tell what kind of vehicle was pulling it!

After dragging this thing to the entry of the freeway, and realizing the electric breaks on this trailer do not work, I decide that slow and steady is the way to go, and the freeway during rush hour is not a smart choice.  It took me 1.5 hours for my normally 30 minute trek home.

So I make it home.  Now for the fun part: How the heck do I get these monsters off the trailer!  I don't have a forklift, or even a tractor yet.  This could be seriously fun.  I realize really quickly that I am going to have to redneck this thing off the trailer.  So I go grab an old loggers chain that my dad used to pull out bush stumps with when I was a boy.  I tied the chain to the bottom-most 4x4 of the bottom pallet, and around the base of a light post that was on my property.  The plan was to simply drive off and leave the pallets where they stay.

So I start driving, and it starts to go...for about 2 inches before the tire digs a hole into the dirt.  Darn...why doesn't that work?  Well...I go back and look at it and those horseshoes that were so awesome when anchoring down the pallets, are now blocking them from sliding off.  Even though the pallets clear the wheel-well, they do not clear the horseshoes that are welded to the top of the well.  Time for more redneck thinkin'.

Now I go grab some 4x4's that I have laying around, and my 3.5 ton jack.  I use one small piece of 4x4, about 2 feet long, and stand it on end on the jack and underneath the edge of the pallet.  I use this to lift the entire stack about 5 to 6 inches up, and slide one of the long 4x4's onto the smaller pallets so as to provide a sliding surface for the stack.  I repeat for the other side. 

Firing up the van again, I back up to get out of my hole, and get a little bit of a "running start".  This time the stack moves quite a ways before the van buries itself up to the axle in dirt.  CRAP...must have hit a soft spot in the dirt.  Unfortunately, the stack is now half on the trailer half off the trailer!  It turns out that a couple of the smaller pallets broke and the bits and pieces got jammed into the stack of pallets above.

So...after digging the van out of the massive hole and using an old 2x4 and some plywood as a new foundation, I now focus my attention on this very awkward, 2000 lb stack of wood pallets.  I again use my small jack to attempt to lift the stack from all different angles.  The best way being on top of the smaller pallets resting in a hole where the smaller pallet broke.  Oh yea...did I mention that it is now dark and I had to bring out the halogen lights to do this?  Great....why do I feel another hospital trip coming on?  I sure hope the wife comes and checks on me if I don't show up for a while.

Anyway, I get all of the sliding 4x4's repositioned to get over the broken pallets, and try again.  This time as I reach the end of the chain...SNAP...CRASH.  Holy crap...what happened...the pallets are still half-on, half-off the trailer!  Apparently it is possible to splinter a 4x4 if you put enough direct pressure from a chain onto it.  That whole 4x4 support on the bottom pallet gave way right in the center.  Darn...that was one of the good ones too!

Oh the chain, dig the van out one last time, and try again...we have been doing this about 4 hours now.  Time to get it done.  This time, I hit the gas on the van and it just pulls away like no problem...I did it!  Well...almost.

Now that the stack is on the ground, I really need to have it elevated to keep the termites out, and to make sure the water drains.  Luckily the jack will fit under the main deck of the bottom pallet because it is standing off the ground by it's own 4x4 framing.  I jack it up and set it on cinder blocks.  Now I have a massive pile of very good, usable wood that I can disassemble and use for projects like raising the tanks on the water trailer and building a tree-house for the kids.  Not to mention building a gantry for a hoist that I can use to pick stuff off the trailers.

Anyway, I return the trailer to it's owner and tell him that he needs to get those electric breaks fixed.  His comment was: "Why?".  Well...because of people like me!.  His response: "Well...if you would pull it with something that isn't a toy you wouldn't have that problem!"  Then I tell him about my adventure getting the pallets off.  He said: "Why didn't you just cut the horseshoe off and re-weld it when you were done?".  I told him that I had seriously considered it, but didn't want to tear up his trailer if I didn't have to.  He was literally laughing at me after that one, with a response of: "Next time, just cut the damn horseshoe off!"  YES SIR!

Anyway, that turned out to be a bunch of redneck projects all wrapped up into one big project.  Yes, I still think I can handle this redneck thing and I will enjoy it!  BTW, I still have this mobile home carcase and a couple of axles (with breaks).  I think one of my later projects needs to be a big-a$$ trailer.  I have borrowed two different ones lately I am loving those things.  I think it is time for my own.'s not like I don't have enough wood to cover the deck of that trailer now too!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sometimes you just don't get no S*!T done!

OK, maybe that title is a little bit of an exaggeration (as you probably know, that's just the way I rol'), but still...nothing much done on the house.  What we have gotten done is:

Sunday I show a guy my airplane.  That took most of the day but at least he is very interested in buying it.  We subsequently took him to dinner.  After that, I finish up with him while the family heads home.  I get home a few minutes later to my wife telling me about the trip home.  Apparently they pull into the driveway and start unloading.  At that point the youngest is screaming at the top of her lungs, the oldest starts projectile vomiting, and the middle starts telling the neighbor that she needs to go potty...really bad.  Of course the neighbor looks at my wife and says: "Uhhh, you are going to have another problem here...anything we can do to help?"  Luckily I drive in the driveway right after she gets it all taken care of....shew...narrowly avoided that disaster!  Gotta love mommies!

Monday: since we were up all night with a puking kid I decided to take the day off to get some stuff done (and sleep in)...well, at least I take the RV to get it emissions tested (as redneck as I am getting unlicensed cars are a problem for the county).  Of course it failed.  Unfortunately we had some appointments to get to so I put the RV in the driveway of our old house (nothing like trying to redneck up a suburban neighborhood while we are at it).  About this time I get a text (yes, a text, we are rednecks with a knack for technology) from my step-dad that he is down at the new house to get some work done: "Call me when you can, The camper was broken into.  House looks OK".  So I call him a half an hour later.  At that point he tells me that the Sheriff responded in about 10 minutes but nothing looks like it was taken.  Mainly just vandals.  Great, that's the THIRD time the Mr. Officer has been out there and we still haven't moved in!  Should we be getting concerned???  Apparently no.  Mr. Officer said this is very rare, and the guys that did it (and the same thing to a few cars down the road) are very lucky: "People around her shoot.  They are lucky they didn't get themselves killed".  Good...glad to hear it's somewhat rare and the neighbors tend to take care of the problems.  That doesn't negate the fact that the Sheriffs are getting to know our property as good as we are!

Tuesday: Stop by my parents house to help move a concrete fountain base so it can be acid washed.  I drive the camper (again, trying to redneck up another neighborhood...this stuff is infectious!) so we can go drop it off at the repair place (yes, I know, rednecks should fix crap you can see it's a busy week!) after our Dr. apts.  The parents are nice enough to watch the kids for us while we do all this.  We took care of that stuff then went to Benihana for dinner.  After that we went back to the parents house to get the kids and help move the newly acid washed concrete base.  I pick up the base with gloves on of course, but rest it against my arm in the process...hmmm...maybe THAT wasn't a good idea!  I go clean it up, but sure enough, a couple of small "spots" on my arm the next morning.  Luckily no pain or anything and the next day it clears itself right up.

Wednesday: after work we go get the oldest from school.  This is her first day back after being sick.  Then we take our minivan to the emissions place to get it tested while we are waiting on the fix-it place to finish up the RV (the state of AZ is getting a lot of our money this week!)  After that I take the camper back to my parents to help them move the now finished base one more time.  No more acid washing my arms :D.  At this time they need to go pick up my brother at the airport.  I hop in the camper and start driving to the new house to put the camper away, and I drive over a water trench in the road...not fast, and I didn't hit it very hard, but the next thing I know I hear a very loud bang and am dragging something.  I stop, get out, and the nearly full propane tank FELL OFF THE RV!  HOLY CRAP!  Good thing that didn't happen going 70mph down the road!  I have some tools, but my parent's aren't that far away and all of my "good tools" are back at the new house.  I call the parent's back to bring wrenches to take the tank off completely so I can drive.  Sorry just gonna have to wait at the airport!  Finally I get the tank off and have my step-dad help me carry it to the camper for transport.  His first words are "You should really wear shoes" (I like my crocks!), to which I reply "why?" of course.  At this point I am completely covered in road dirt, looking as blue collar as possible and we get the camper to the new house.  Now I gotta do some serious welding to fix the broken bracket.

Thursday morning: I wake up, put my pants on, and go to work.  About two hours into working I look down at my lap to brush some breakfast off my shirt and notice...I have on the nasty, laying in the road, blue-collar looking jeans that I wore last night! one can say that I'm not giving this redneck thing my best effort.

More to come...hopefully tonight we can actually get something done on the house!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Paintin' Doors and My First Unregistered Vehicle!

Yesterday, I dragged my step dad down to the house to help us paint the doors.  Everything else in the house has been painted, now it's time to do the doors and baseboard.  We had this grandiose plan to put screws in the end of the door, hang it horizontally, and I would use a handheld sprayer while he cleaned the next door.  Once I was done spraying, we would use two pieces of rope to lift the door by the screws and pull it off and set it on the sawhorses in the back of the shop.  There they would hang by the screws until dry. know what they say about best laid plans!

The next morning, he shows up with some lumber and says: "I bought another sawhorse kit so we can do the baseboards as well."  Great!  Let's whip those babies out!  He measures and I cut 4 legs, and we start assembling.  One side done...where is the other one?  "Seriously?  I forgot the second set?"  I guess so.  Now he runs to Wal-Mart (for the first time today) to get another set.  No luck.  Wal-Mart doesn't carry them.  " matter, lets just get the doors done and I will get the other set for next time.  The baseboards are already primed anyway".

Next we thinned the primer way down, and then put it in the sprayer.  We were able to get through 1.5 doors...the sprayer popping and spitting the entire time before we decided this wasn't going to work.  Now what do we do?

Well...we decide that doing the doors by hand was the next best option.  The only problem is that we got rid of all of our "by hand" stuff when we were done with the kids rooms (we didn't think we would need it again any time soon).  So off to Wally World we go again.

At Wal-Mart we were looking for pads, no not those kind, the kind you paint with!  My step-dad has a bunch of pad brush things that we were going to use because they were just about the right size for the doors.  Unfortunately Wal-Mart only had one pad refill.  We took it and bought another brush that came with a pad.  This should get us going, but we also needed some brushes.  I started looking for a three-inch brush, and found a cheap one that would be great for using and then throwing away (I hate cleaning brushes).  This cost $3.57.  Then I glanced at a pack of brushes...same exact make/model and had a 1", 2", and 3"...the price??? $3.27...ummmm hello.  So I bought two packs of brushes.  This turned out to be a good decision because, the 2" brush was just about perfect...the 3" would not have worked as well.

Now it's time to check out.  We walk all the way up to the front of the store and my step-dad mentions that we should probably see if this pad works on his brush...sure enough, no joy.  All the way back to the paint department to get another full-up brush with pad assembly.  Now back to the checkout line.

At this point it is 12:30ish...and I am getting hungry.  "Should we stop at subway and get some lunch?"  "Sure".  Which we did.  This was also a great time to rethink our strategy of how we are going to do this.  After about 10 back-and-forth ideas later, we decided to simply screw another set of screws into each edge of the door (now we have 4 screws on each door, one per corner) and go ahead and hang it in the same spot.  We then screwed a block that could rotate out of the way to capture the other screws so we could both push on the door from either side without it swinging.  This worked surprisingly well, and you can see my step-dad working with the pad/brush thing on one side of the door in the picture above.

So...5:30 at night we finally get all of the doors primed.  Hopefully just one coat of paint will do the trick and we will have them painted and completely done next Saturday.  Knock on wood!  This week I will make another saw horse, and attempt to get the baseboards painted.  This shouldn't be too difficult and might even be a one-person job.  If that works well, we will only have doors to hang next weekend...which would mean we can start moving in the following week (or possibly the week after depending on a lot of things).

Unfortunately I also have to take care of another redneck item this week.  For whatever reason, we never received a notice in the mail that our camper registration was due.  So now we have a unregistered camper, sitting in front of our house, and the tags were due 2 months ago!  I don't know why we now got a letter saying it was expired...but we did get that one, just nothing prior to that.  Unfortunately the emissions are due as well, so now I have to deal with a 3-day tag, the emissions line, then figure out how and what information I need to take to the DMV in order to get the registration renewed.  It's awfully hard to just mail it in without an official letter!  I guess it will be figured out soon enough.

So there it is, I have turned my shop into a paint booth, and I now have unregistered vehicles in my front yard.  Redneck transformation is still in full swing!

Friday, April 6, 2012

All Jacked Up

So...this is just another story I feel like telling.  It has actually been requested by a few people.

A couple of weeks ago...on a Sunday afternoon/evening, I was doing a bunch of stuff around the house when my mom called  me out to the yard to help with something.  At the time I was working inside getting ready to paint, so I had my hands full, but I figured...what the heck.  So I go outside, and the next thing I know I am hooking up a trailer and filling it with piles of concrete blocks that she decided she needed moved.  Not exactly what I needed to get done, but oh well...I guess I am a sucker.

Anyway, we loaded two types of these blocks, ones that were somewhat shaped, but broken, and ones that didn't resemble any kind of shape, either broken really badly, or were just old concrete that someone had broken up by hand.  We were taking the shapely ones to the fire pit to build it up a little taller, and the misshaped ones to a pile behind some other rock on another piece of property.

After we are loaded, I drive over to the fire pit, pull up to it, and start looking backward at mom so she can tell me where to stop backing up.  We park, build up three rows on the fire pit, and then load everyone in the trailer (the kids wanted to ride to the other pile).  I get in the car, put it in gear and start driving.  About two feet after I start moving I hear a scrape.  "No problem" I think: "I am just dragging the trailer receiver on the ground as I come out of this ditch.  Then, out of nowhere a big cloud of dust is covering the trailer, my wife, my mom, and my kids.  "Hmmmm....why isn't the car moving any more".  I get out, and look under the car.  Sure enough, a big decorative boulder is lodged in front of the rear axle, right by the left shock.  Great...the grinding was the rock making its way to the rear axle...this can't be did that rock get there?  It is a long ways from the rest of the decorative rock line!  No is there and I need to get it out.

So...How do I get it out?  I just took the big flat jack out of the van and left it at the other house.  I know!  I have the HI-LIFT jack that I am borrowing from Brad.  I can't lift the wheel/axle, but I can probably lift the frame by the trailer receiver enough to get that rock out.

I go get the jack, and test it's functionality.  I lube it up really well with WD-40, and test it out.  It looks like it is mostly working, but the direction toggle isn't staying in the up position.  It is probably the fact that I need to have at least 100# on it for it to work correctly.  So I stick the jack under the receiver, and start cranking.  Sure enough the van is lifting...GREAT  I this should be easy!

I get the van up to the point where it might be enough, I let go of the handle, and everything looks good, so I start to turn away.  Right as the jack is out of my field of vision, it slips down a notch with a thud.  The next thing I know, I am punched in the face with the handle, and I no longer know which direction I am facing.  Next, I turn around and my mom and wife are yelling at me that they think I should be laying down.  OK...I'm not sure why, but what the heck...I feel like a nap anyway.  Then, mom comes over and starts putting her hands all over my face!  I say...what the heck are you doing? are bleeding!!!

I found out later, my wife said it looked like blood was gushing out of the corner of my eye.  Luckily (and I mean I was really darn lucky) it wasn't.  It missed my eye by about 1/8th of an inch!

Well...I lay on the ground for about 30 to 45 minutes while my step dad goes to the store to find "Steri-Strips".  Unfortunately they don't have any, and the stuff they have doesn't hold worth a darn.  We ended up using gauze and Band-Aids anyway.  At least we had some time to keep pressure on it to slow the bleeding.

Now that we have it patched up, I sit up, and notice my 3-year old is sitting in the corner of the trailer, knees to her chest, and tears rolling down her face.  I realize at that point both of my daughters had seen the whole thing.  To make matters worse, we just took them to their first funeral the day before.  I can only imagine what was going on in their heads.  At that point...against my moms better judgement, I stand up and rush over to the trailer.  At the point I stood up, all was well again!  The 3 year old lights up, and the 5 year old runs inside "Daddy is standing...he's going to be OK!"  I help the 3 year old down from the trailer just to show her that I really am just fine, and we all start getting in the car...time to head to urgent care.

On the way to the urgent care, I try to call them.  Mind you this is difficult when your eye is swelling shut and you aren't the one driving, and you fell like Mike Tyson just punched you in the head.  Anyway, I make the call, and tell them to put me on the list (they have a call in program where you can call ahead and wait at home for the return call before coming in).  I told them not to bother calling as I was already on the way in, and I would rather just bleed in their waiting room than at home.  They took my info, and put me on the list.

As it turns out, there wasn't much of a wait and I got right in.  Apparently looking like I did in the picture above (taken in the waiting room) makes them move reasonably fast!

So now I go talk to the nurse.  One of the first things she asks is "Do you feel safe at home".  It was all I could do to answer honestly!  "Hey lady...look at my face and tell me what YOU think!"

Then I get to see the doctor.  She peals everything off ans starts poking around (more like playing with her own life if you ask me...that nonsense hurt!) and asking me if this hurts or this, or this.  At one point she stops and says: "You aren't going to like hearing this, but I think you need to go to the emergency room".  The only thing I could think of at this point was exactly what I said: "Well...I am going to have to pee first".  That was NOT what they were expecting and the entire room started laughing!  Then she continued and said that she was afraid my sinus cavity may be didn't feel like it, but we couldn't be sure without a CT scan.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to the ER we go (after a good pee of course)!

We show up at the ER, and they were basically expecting me because the urgent care called nice of them!  We got right in with only a few minute wait.  They basically took me right back and started asking the same things again.  When they assigned me a room, the first thing I noticed was amazingly clean, white sheets that I was about to get as messy as possible.  Anyway...they wanted to start with a vision test.  I told them I could see just fine, but they wanted a baseline, so they took me to the "wall of letters" and said: "read the lowest line I can".  OK...A-X-C-D-V-B-blah blah blah (yea I really remember what the letters were) all are on the last line.  Nurse dude looks at me and says: "that's the 20/10 line and you just read that with the busted eye?  Are you a fighter pilot or something?"

We go back to the room, and they have me keep ice on it for while waiting for the CT machine, which didn't take long.  We did the scan, and I had to wait for the results.  They wouldn't let me eat or drink until that was all interpreted, so by this time it's about 10:00 and I haven't had dinner or anything to drink after working hard since before sun down!  Oh won't kill me.  They come back and say that everything is fine and nothing is broken.  Now I can say that yes, I have had my head examined, and they didn't find anything...or maybe I should wish they did find something...

Anyway, they come in and start shooting me up with drugs to numb everything. sorta worked....after she pumped twice the amount of numbing agents in as she normally would without getting the desired affect, she asked a different doc to come in a confirm.  They decided to start, and got through two whole stitches before I started hollering: "Hey...I can feel that!"  She stopped, and the other guy pumped a different drug in me, and started the test probing...nope, can't feel a thing...EXCEPT WHEN YOU SOW THE STITCH!  Dude...I think it's not fully numb.  Well...I let them power through one or two before they get out of the sore spot, and can finish up.  We still don't know why that area never numbed, but oh's done now.

Nine stitches later, with a couple of them redone (she was quite a perfectionist) I am all stitched up, and it looks great!  Nice and even and will heal very well.

Being 1:00AM, I decide to take the next day off.  Later that day I start seeing some very positive things from having these stitches.  We go eat and I get all kinds of weird looks.  Mostly just double-takes from women, and head nods from guys.  Also, I noticed the service was GREAT!  Hmmm...I may like having this look.  I did look pretty much like a bad-a$$!  Well...that lasted for a couple of days anyway before it started healing.

The next day I was back at work, and the stories started flying.  My favorite: "Don't mess with my wife!"  Others I heard that day were:
"Jeff [my boss] said never be late with another project"
"I was in a bar fight...and the bar won"
" means no.  Haven't you learned that yet?"
"What did you do to piss her off?"
In a meeting...someone walked in and said: "I want you all to look at him and see what I do to the people who hold up my projects"

Anyway.  The scar is looking very good and clean at this point.  I am starting to get back into that "bad-a$$" look again.  I kinda like it, and why not, if I am going through all that work and pain, I might as well have a badge of honor to show for it!

Wheelin' and Dealin'

This picture has nothing to do with the story below, but I did take it today as I had to move the camper back to the front of the house since I am going to use my shed to paint in.  The shed and the front of the house are the only two places with outlets in cords reach.  Yes, there is a reason for parking there as opposed to somewhere else.  It may be redneck, but it is redneck with a purpose!  Yes, the house still looks very redneck from the outside, but we at least got some screens put on.  Also, part of what I need to paint/prime is the new skirting.  Once that is done, things will really start looking much better!

Today was rather uneventful.  I took the day off work to have the microwave and dish washer delivered.  I did not pay for installation because in the past I have gotten away with not getting the installation and the guys decided to install anyway.  Well...not today, but I was still able to redneck it up a bit.

First, a side story: As part of the junk left behind by the previous tenants, there were two small refrigerators in the office on the side of the shed.  Back a few weeks ago, when my mom and wife were cleaning up the shed and office, they decided to open up these fridges.  In the top one (they were stacked) there was nothing but a pickle jar with (I believe) one pickle left in the juice.  However, as soon as they opened this fridge, they both about passed out on the spot.  The smell coming from this fridge made a hazmat suite seam very attractive.  The bottom fridge had what appeared to be a wine cooler (or something...I forget exactly what it was) still nicely wrapped and capped.  This fridge didn't smell quite as bad (although a pile of cow poo would probably make it smell better) but it was so nasty they didn't even want to touch it with gloves on!  The inside was completely covered in mold and grime.

Anyway, now that the appliances were delivered, I gave the old microwave to the guys.  In the dealings, I started discussing what they do with them and learned that they actually get paid for the appliances they bring back to be recycled.  It isn't much, but it supplements their income.  So I told them: "Hey, I have two more fridges in the back if you want those as well, you are welcome to them".  Then, I asked them if the installation kit to the dishwasher was included in the box (knowing full well it wasn't). just so happened they had extras on the truck!  I just successfully negotiated the removal of two rank refrigerators for a free installation kit.  Now that's how they do it in BFE!  Maybe I will get the hang of this redneck thing after all :D

So I end up taking them back to the shed, and point them to the fridges.  I tell them: "If you want to open these, buy all means...but you must take them outside first!  I don't want them opened in here."  They looked at me funny, but then I told them about the pigs that lived here before...they understood.  They never did open those...but who cares, they got a bit of a tip!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The end of the nastiness...almost

Today was mostly spent working on sealing the new floors. This is a very big step as it is the last thing we are going to do to remove the nasty smell in the house. I can't even begin to paint an image of how bad this house wreaked, and how nasty it was in general. It was no wonder the sellers were willing to take a price that was basically equal to the price of the land, excluding the house.This house is only 6 years old. When we bought it you wouldn't know it. The previous tenants, we will call them tenants for now, managed almost destroy it.

Let me paint a picture: Imagine seeing house pictures online that a realtor posted, and this house had a great layout, but even the "selling" pictures showed what amounted to hoarders living there. Then, because we are completely insane people, we decide to look at the land and house anyway. When we (us and the realtor) got to the house and walked inside, the smell was so bad that we almost lost our lunches...all of us. It was absolutely putrid. Furthermore, my allergies started acting up, indicating there were obviously cats in the house. It was also obvious that more animals had to be in that house because of all of the bodily waste smells, and the massive door and floor-board scratches that were present. I am guessing big dogs were locked in one of the bedrooms, likely for days on end. Needless to say we determined that we were not going to pay for the house. We then put together a price based on the land and the other features present, and made the offer. Low and behold, they took it! Great, now what do we do with this nasty house, which, by the way, has an awesome floor plan? Well, after lots of consideration, we decide to see if it was salvageable. It is only 6 years old, so possibly the "guts" of the house were still OK. Lets get our good friend Mr. House Inspector out there to give his thoughts.

Mr. house inspector did find a laundry list of items...well duh...but one thing in particular that concerned us was the mold. Yes, there was mold. How the heck does one get a mold problem in a 6 year old house. Well...rednecks as they were/are, I guess nothing should surprise us. After consulting with our agent, we agreed that we could probably take care of the mold problem ourselves. It was only a little spot on a ceiling, surely we can whip that out. Long story short, a few weeks later (and after lots of sabotage attempts by the current owner...I will elaborate in another post), we were the proud new owners of a POS house with a ton of potential. Time to get to work!

First things first...get that nasty carpet out! Great, the house is better already, but now the yard also stinks. How to get rid of that? Well...see the post about Sheriff visit #1. It didn't get rid of all of it, but I got a good portion of it taken care of!

Second: 15 gallons of Odoban. Yea...15 gallons. This was just sprayed everywhere in the house and on the walls with a pump-up weed sprayer.

Third: Mold. Let's cut it out of the ceiling. OK, done, but wait, it goes on further...hmmmm...maybe a little further...darn...all the way to the it spreads...holy crap...the entire wall is gone, and we are moving into the next bedroom! Thankfully it stopped there and it wasn't bad enough to have to replace any wood, just clean it up. But now we are cleaning up a truck load of Sheetrock, insulation, bull-nose cornering, etc. This is about the time my step-dad stepped up. His OCD comes in really handy when doing things like trying to make a wall so it looks like it has been there forever. It's difficult to make it perfect, but it is really darn close.

Fourth: Seal the floors. 20 gallons of water protector and sealant. Smell again makes huge leaps out of the house...but still there.

Fifth: Linoleum goes out. This should have been planned with the carpet, but we though "oh...we will just put the new floors on need to rip it out". WRONG! The laminate was contributing largely to the smell. Out it goes! Now we have completely bare floors in the entire house, except for the sealant. (Side note...the animal waste was so bad in one room that we had to quadruple up on the sealant, and then later put a very thick layer of kills down prior to the carpet being installed).

Now that we have all of the mold gone, and the biggest majority of the smell, time to start putting things back together. My step-dad did a great job with all of the patchwork through the entire house (not just the rebuilding of the whole walls), we had new carpet installed in all of the bedrooms, and this last weekend I did the installation of all of the laminate floors. I am proud to say that I think we have conquered the smell! I am putting caulking around the entire perimeter of the laminate for two reasons: 1) to make sure the stink stays under the floor, and 2, to make sure any spilled water or anything else does not get under the floor. Hence the reason we are "almost" done still.

Just for fun, below are some pictures of the before, and one during, just to show off the amazing cleaning job my wife and my mom did on the bathrooms. That job in-and-of itself was an entire weekend just for bathtubs and showers!
This is the before picture of the nasty shower!
Here is after they cleaned it. I believe this was about a one full day job!
Interior of the house before...notice the carpet in the family room is just a piece of outdoor carpet laid on the floor with the bare sub-floor showing about a foot around all sides?
The initial living room. I love the redneck drapes!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I'm lookin' for Reno...

Now the story of the second Sheriff visit.  Mind you this happened only two weeks after the first visit.

This happened as I went out to the camper (the one that we immediately parked out front of the house), used the facilities, and was walking back inside.  Right in front of me and the house, a tiny white car comes speeding through our rutted, pot-holed drive and is stopped by a ditch created by the draining rain water.  This car hit this ditch with such force that I wondered if he broke anything.  Mind you this ditch was right behind a huge mesquite tree, so at the speed he was going, he likely couldn't see that ditch.  If this POS car had airbags I am sure he and his ~15 year old daughter (in the passengers seat) would have had a face full.

Anyway, after he hit, his window already rolled down, he starts yelling at me: "Hey...I'm lookin' for Reno".
Me: " that a person?  You missed the city by about a couple of states".
Him: "Yea, he lives here"
Me: "Nope, sorry man, we just bought this house 2 weeks ago, and there is no Reno that lives here"
Him: "Yea...he lives here, I just want to talk to him!"
Me: "Sorry dude, he's not here and he probably shouldn't show up here"
Him: "Where is he?"

About this time the Sheriff's SUV comes strolling up the driveway.  Mr. Officer gets out, adjusts his gun belt, and looks at me standing about 5 feet from the intruding car and asks: "Do you know this guy?".  I said: "Nope".  Mr. Officer: "I didn't think so. [turning to the intruding car] you know why I pulled you over?"  By this time I understood...he was just running!

I let Mr. Officer handle business out on my front yard.  I check on them about every 20 minutes.  The second time out there, I see a second officer, and another car.  Mr. Officer gives me a finger (no...not the middle one...the index finger) and I pause, and wait for him.  The second officer comes and meets me as I indicate the first officer "fingered me"....yes...he got a laugh too...and then he proceeded to tell me the story.  "Well...this guy has a suspended license.  The other car is the girls mom.  She came to pick her up.  We will be towing his car away in a few minutes.  We won't be much longer"  "OK, thank you officer, take as much time as you need".

About the time they start putting the guy in handcuffs, I take this as a learning opportunity for my girls.  I take them out on the front deck, and give them front row seats to an actual police arrest.  "Now girls...this is what happens when you don't follow the rules.  Do you understand now why you have to do what you are told"?  OK...maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but I would rather do it now and hopefully not have to do it later.

After two or three minutes, a tow truck shows up, and they watch the guy load the car onto the truck. The officer tucks the guy into his SUV and then turns to us and apologizes for having this all happen in our front yard.  And then my redneck moment came out: "No problem at all officer.  I am actually glad you were here.  If you weren't...I can guarantee you that I would not have been so nice!". I am threatening a guy not just in front of a cop, but TO the cop!  Luckily, Mr. Officer just shakes his head, chuckles a little, and then gets into his car and drives away.

The real kicker of this whole story...two days later we get a letter addressed to Reno...I guess he wasn't just trying to get away from the cops!  Oh well...we had a good laugh about it and moved on.  BTW, that's another good story.  Reno XXXXXX makes the fifth last name we have found addressed to this many redneck families can you cram into a double-wide mobile home???  As many as will fit!

Ummm...the Sheriff is in our back yard!

Today wasn't a very productive day with regards to working on the house.  As a matter of fact, every Tuesday appears to be the "day off" from physical labor of that caliber.  Given that nothing was done, I figured I would share about the first visit from the Sheriff.

Obviously, being a city boy most of my adult life, I am not accustom to the "ways of the county".  There is a lot of conflicting, erroneous, and sometimes just plain wrong information.  One such conflicting set of information was in regards to "burning your trash".  Let me start by saying that YOU CANNOT JUST "BURN YOUR TRASH"...EVEN IN THE COUNTY!  As with everywhere else, there are rules.  Ask me how I know...

How do I know?  Well...I was someone that could do something about it.  But before I tell you how/why I was told, let me take you down the path of "discovery":
First, when discussing with my realtor: "Yes, out in the county you don't have to abide by the burn days that Maricopa county enforces.  You can simply burn your trash whenever you want"

Second, a friend at work: "Yea, just last weekend I went with my buddy out in the county and we burned an old couch.  His comment was that this one burned much better than the last...that implies he has done it before!"

Third, my thoughts turned to how to get rid of all of this nasty old smelly carpet (the description I will leave for another post...this house was amazingly put it mildly).  It would take forever to get rid of a trash can at a time and it was cost prohibitive to rent a dumpster or have someone haul it away.  So I looked up burning carpet online and found that congress is actually funding studies to figure out how to reduce landfill waste, and one of the more promising studies indicates that burning old carpet actually helps coal burn cleaner because of the heat it puts off.  So of course I'm thinking...if it's good enough for congress, it must be OK for me.

Well...let me tell you, not only is burning carpet and pad a little scary (I can't believe the flammability of this stuff...and it covers a large portion of every house I have ever owned!) but when it burns, it emits a black smoke that stinks very badly.  In this particular case it could have been animal pee and poo or the carpet, but either way, the neighbors did not like it.  The next thing I know I have a fireball about 15 feet high, in light wind, blowing likely toxic smoke in the direction of the neighbors houses.

Needless to say, about 10 minutes later my wife yells: "Ummmm....yea....there is a Sheriff in our back yard!"

Well...I go meet the guy.  One of the nicest, largest men I have met.  He asks me what I am burning.  My reply: "Just a bunch of trash."
Sheriff: "The neighbors are complaining."
Me: "I'm sorry about that.  It got a little bigger than I had realized.  I will make sure to keep it down in the future"
Sheriff: "Yea, that would be a good idea.  What are you burning anyway"
Me: "Oh...a bunch of cardboard and a couple of scraps of carpet"
Sheriff: " probably shouldn't burn that, or those tires over there (note...there were no tires in the fire).  If the environmental guys hear about it, they won't be very happy, and you don't want them on your bad side".
Me: "Ahhh....good to know.  Anything else?"
Sheriff: " should probably keep it to things like wood and paper and stuff."
Me: "Oh...OK, I will do that.  Thank you sir"
Sheriff: "You have a good day, and keep it under control".

Needless to say...I now know the rules about burning.  Sheriff visit #1 complete...transition to redneck in full swing!

Hello and Introduction!

Hi Everyone,
Welcome to my new blog "Going Redneck"!  This blog is a little late in starting as the migration/transformation has already started, but I will fill you in gradually as the days move on.  But first, a little history of what prompted me to start this.  As you can see from the text below, we are a pretty typical family in this day-and-age, and we feel we are at that tipping point that so many have already fallen over.  What makes us different is how we chose to deal with this tipping point pro-actively. 

As it stands right now, I am a highly paid software engineering manager for a major communications company.  My wife is a stay at home mom, and we have three beautiful girls. I grew up in the Midwest (Kansas) and my wife grew up in Tajikistan (a former war torn USSR territory).  My wife moved to the states when she was 14 and has since learned English, completed high school, got a finance degree from Arizona State University, and then went on to get her teaching certificate (and a masters degree) in special education before deciding to stay home and raise our children.  I, on the other hand, do not have a degree, but did graduate from an advanced (science/technology oriented) high school, and taught myself engineering.

We currently live in a "typical" 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 3000 square feet house in the Phoenix Metropolitan area.  At the recent downturn (and arguably "collapse") of the economy, we started thinking long and hard about what we would do should I lose my job.  Not that I am afraid of that possibility, but with no degree to get me in the door anywhere, we would be really "up a creek without a paddle" if that were to happen.  To compound that, our mortgage on the house we are currently in won't break even for about 10-15 years (rough estimate).  So we are essentially paying a very high rental rate for something that will likely never bring us the investment potential we were lead to believe when we bought it.  Furthermore, since we are "good people" and pay our mortgage on time and blah, blah, blah, we don't qualify for any of the government assistance that others may get. kick this blog off, I will give you the teaser of what has happened so far (I will expand later):  We just purchased 2.6 acres in southern Queen Creek Arizona, and it has a newer (2006) double-wide mobile home on it that was completely trashed (are rebuilding).    We haven't even moved in yet, and already I have been to urgent care and the emergency room, the sheriff has been to our place twice (including a car towing and arrest), we have found needles wrapped in a paper towel, and have had to deal with more scorpions than I have ever seen in my 15 years here in AZ, and a snake.  Oh, and I should mention that the first thing we brought to the new house was a 1980's era mobile home and immediately parked it in front of the house.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing more as our adventure continues!

Stay tuned for our updates on how we are essentially "going redneck" in order to live debt free with a lot of land for all of my and my families toys.