Saturday, June 30, 2007


Save Me From Myself

I'm now officially in the residential construction business.

How do I know?

Because today I came home with a portable air compressor and three nail guns from Sears.

Then I collapsed on the sofa with heat prostration because the AC in my Suburban is low on Freon and I'm too lazy to take it back to Island Automotive to get it fixed.

It was so hot that I passed up my planned weekly trip to Home Depot for more lumber and stuff, deferring it to early tomorrow morning before stopping by the beach to let Missy the "Turbo Pup" do a little digging.

Actually I ended up with a finish nailer, a brad nailer, and a stapler, because instead of 18D nails I'm using 2-1/2" screws to assemble the stud walls on the renovation project. The compressor will support one framing nailer, but I'm deferring that purchase until I do a whole house from scratch and need to slam a few thousand nails into some 2x4's.

I love doing construction, and perhaps the best part is getting to buy new tools to play with and hurt myself with. I still have all of my fingers and fingernails, but with all of the sledge hammers and saw blades I've acquired in the past few months, removing a digit or two here or there is a distinct possibility.

I really am a safety nerd when it comes to wearing protective glasses, hearing protection, gloves, and watching where and how I put up a ladder. Since much of my work is done solo, I sometimes worry about falling on my head or rupturing my spleen or something and having the police come and draw a chalk outline around my withered carcass after I've been missing for half a day or so.

Doing good work involves doing good design and planning, and getting in a hurry or cutting corners usually ends up costing more time and money than it saves, in my opinion. Having the right tools also goes a long way toward promoting safety, so I see another few hundred dollars worth of safety coming my way in the next few weeks.

Anybody know where I can get a good deal on a 10" table saw?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Building Progress

Bids Being Solicited...

My Pyramid Scheme

Stoned Illusions...

Boy oh boy am I ever an efficient little son of a gun these days, if I do say so myself.

In addition to wrestling my stack project to the ground this week and basically putting 99% of the design issues to rest in the process, I also delivered two framed photos to the Art Gallery yesterday (a day early), was notified that I had successfully negotiated the gauntlet down at City Hall to get a building permit for my duplex conversion project, and to finish things off I also built the first scale models of my "Pyramids of Egypt" set pieces that will be featured at Brunswick's Glynn Academy football games this season with their marching band.

I'm a little disappointed with one stipulation that the City of Brunswick threw at me on my construction project regarding the side setbacks on the four foot rear extension of the existing building, but I guess bureaucrats by their very nature being bureaucrats that you have to expect at least one inane government intrusion into every private endeavor. Otherwise the status wouldn't be "quo" any know what I mean?

Any way, this "Pyramid Scheme" has been an interesting mental exercise just to get to the model making phase of the project, and the next step will actually involve building yet another improved model using PVC pipe and some pieces of one yard samples of spandex fabric that I bought on the Internet in order to test the functionality of the process--what I call the "Do-ability Test"--before we spend $500 of hard earned Band Parent's money on bolts of fabric and pallets of PVC pipe.

The spandex idea actually was my most recent revelation, the idea of a "stretch fabric" solving several aesthetic and structural issues at the same time.

Dang I'm a genius.

The spandex takes on a modified form of something called a "Catenary Curve" between it's rigid support points, but if you stretch it tight enough it looks almost flat. I'm also using some techniques (battens, etc) employed in making the sails for a ship to produce a flexible, lightweight portable structure that can cover ten yards of football field, extend to a height of twenty feet, and not fall over and get me dragged into a courtroom by irate parents because of the trauma caused to their little darlin's in the process.

Perhaps the hardest part of this project is the requirement that the set pieces be able to travel with the band to out of town football games and marching contests.

That specification is added on top of the needs for being weatherproof, wind resistant, and capable of being installed and handled by gangly mobs of fourteen to eighteen year-old kids wielding trumpets and tubas and possibly those wearing skimpy sequined majorette costumes.

As has become a usual occurrence recently, my blogging has suffered at the hands of commercial enterprise. OK, maybe a combination of commercial and philanthropic enterprise, but reduced writing has resulted none the less.

I'm just having a hard time mustering the energy to bitch about everything that needs to be bitched about in the world these days.

For instance, the ENTIRE time I've been sitting here writing this posting FOX News has been freaking out about a purported bomb plot being thwarted near Piccadilly Circus in London this morning.

This on the heels of Tony Blair basically being pushed from the office of Prime Minister as a result of his ongoing support for the war on towel headed Muslim terrorism.

Go figure...

So now I have to get back to putting the final details on some smoke stack drawings, go over to Brunswick to pay for and pick up my Building Permit, stop by the cigar store to buy cigars and possibly wander back over to the swimming pool to contemplate my charmed existence.

I hope you have an equally satisfying day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Everybody Run...

It's A Wild Doggggggg!!!!!!!

Here's My Smokestack

You Want Some Fries With That???

I was just wondering how I could present one of my AutoCAD drawings here on the blog, so I did a little fiddling around.

It was actually pretty easy. I just copied the image to the clipboard, then pasted it into Photoshop and saved it as a JPEG file.

Here, take a peek at what I've been designing:

This image is the assembled elevation view of a 115 foot tall, 9'-2" diameter exhaust stack that will be delivered this fall to a company out in California. It will weigh about 53 thousand pounds when erected.

That's a little over 25 tons for those of you that graduated from the University of Georgia.

There's also a platform around it there near the middle and an eighty foot high ladder running up the side for the adventuresome and/or athletic employees to climb when they feel like it.

This design is a relatively small structure as stacks go. The biggest I ever produced was 300' tall (again...thirty stories for the UGA crowd) and weighed in at over a quarter of a million pounds.

Actually we're building not one but TWO identical stacks for this customer, and we hope to build another design for the Sea Ray boat company down in Florida later this year.

In a past life I did this kind of work every day, and in addition to sitting on the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Steel Stack Standards Committee, I've designed and built a little over four hundred of these type structures over the past 25 years.

All in all the process is B O R I N G, but helps pay the what the heck?

I'm Staying At The Paris Hilton

Well...Maybe Not...

Why is it that virtually every single time I've elected to act like a complete, total, mindless dumbass in public either my parents or law enforcement snatched me up in the process and the experience ended up costing me time and money?

Meanwhile Miss Hilton can run around endlessly flashing her titties and insulting her grandfather's legacy and network TV and at least half of the world's population applauds her thoughtless efforts.

Like the old saying goes, "Life's a Bitch, then you die (or marry one...)"

I have to go now and draw some more lines on the computer screen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mental Flatulence

Oh That Aroma...

We'll...I'm still here...sitting in front of the computer, drawing lines.

The pool calls, but I refuse to listen.

All work and no play makes Virgil a dull boy.

Expert Incompetence

High Priced Bad Advice...

After bouncing around in the 1980's and finally finishing college and beginning my work career as a mechanical engineer, my Father told me a silly joke which I still remember today and has a good deal of applicability to my current situation.

It goes something like this:

Do you know what an "Expert" is?


Well..."Ex" means former...right?

And a "spurt" is nothing but a simple "drip" of liquid (water, urine, etc.)...under pressure...


So, using that logic, an "EXPERT" is nothing but a former drip under pressure.

Using that description, I know one very good example of an "Expert" which does his business somewhere out in the great state of Colorado right now, charges a premium for his services, and knows virtually NOTHING about the topics which he addresses.

I've forgotten more about the subject than he apparently knows today.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

My Body's Medium Rare

...But My Application's Well Done

Well, after spending most of the weekend's daylight hours roasting myself beside the swimming pool drinking white wine, smoking cheep cigars, and generally doing anything else I could come up with to avoid actually working, it looks like I'll be making it down to the Building inspectors office later this morning.

In addition to my application for a building permit and three sets of drawings (eight 11" x 17" pages each,) I'll also be tendering a check for $96 for the permit and another for $25 to cover the so-called "drawing review fee" that I just found out about in re-reading the instructions.

Isn't that a neat idea...demand that people send you drawings in triplicate and then charge a "fee" to actually look at them?

Only the government can get away with this type of crap, in my opinion.

I think that I'll start my own government office called the "Junk Mail Review Authority", then get some lawyers and a couple of judges to demand that random citizens be required to send me their junk mail along with their spare change to cover my costs to read it and throw it into the trashcan for them.

If you ever got caught wearing black or white socks with sandals while on vacation down here on our little island you can count on being included on my list of customers for my services.

Any way, the skin on my face and shoulders is in that just on the verge of being burned mode where my forehead keeps the wrinkles like I'm in a constant state of surprise or am thinking very seriously about something. I don't hurt or anything, but another 30 minutes here or there spent in the sun would push me across that invisible boundary from well baked to sunburned.

Now I have to shift gears and start flogging a couple of other projects, one a paying enterprise and another a non-paying venture, before an angry mob of band parents and a couple of businessmen from South Carolina appear on my doorstep wielding clubs and torches.

I've promised myself that I'll have my California smokestack project finished by the end of the month, and since the end of the month occurs this week I guess the writing is on the wall (or in this case on the computer monitor.)

Just in case you too have been busy earning a living or taking vacation, let me remind you that our national legislative bodies and executive (otherwise known as both houses of the US Congress and the President) are quietly resurrecting their "immigration reform bill" and will probably have something passed through at least one group of overpaid irresponsible elected morons later this week.

Using the same logic, I just wish that I could have broken into Switzerland in 1980 when I was 21 and gotten away with hanging out my own shingle as an engineer and ski instructor...without having to show a passport or visa or any other form of personal documentation.

Then instead of landing in jail on immigration charges or being deported back to Alabama, I would of had a bunch of limp wristed panty waisted liberals run around waiving their arms over their heads and pleading my case that I NEEDED to be allowed to remain in Europe because of the shortage of mountains, deep powder snow, and of blond headed blue eyed babes named Olga found wandering around in parkas and tight ski pants in the flatland forests of the southeastern United States.

No, that wouldn't happen then and it won't be happening any time in the near future...not until there is substantial quantities of frozen precipitation occurring in Hades.

Doing Everything Twice Now

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished...

Sorry, but just in case you haven't noticed, I have to admit that I've been spending much of my time away from my keyboard the past few days. That wouldn't necessarily a bad thing in my opinion, IF I could say that I've actually accomplished anything in the process.

It would seem that I'm doomed to doing almost everything at least twice and, if I do manage to finish any given task, at least two other projects end up sitting and festering in various states of incompleteness while I spin around in circles pulling what's left of my hair out.

This process of taking one step forward, followed by two steps backward began last Wednesday while working on my renovation project. That day found me bumbling around up on a ladder holding a giant 12 foot long double 2x8 header over my head and managing to knock over a couple of loose 2x4's on top of our portable Sony radio.

It seems to still pick up radio stations OK without an antenna, as long as the radio station is next door or down the street a short distance, but now Pat will be taking a shiny new Sony AM/FM/CD Player that set me back about $50 out to the swimming pool as a penance for my ineptitude while the old antenna-less box is relegated to residing in a pile of sawdust on the jobsite from now on.

When I got home Wednesday evening I found that the little clear 40 watt light bulb that I had purchased to install in the back the the clothes dryer drum was in about twenty pieces inside the clear plastic package--also an apparent victim of my ham-fisted handling. I managed to buy another one and get it home in one piece yesterday. It isn't installed, however, so I still have time to break this one also if I'm not careful.

Thursday was a red letter day on our calendar as Pat and I signed a lease on a nice three bedroom house located down on the middle of the island near the airport. In addition to a formal living room & dining room, we're also getting a fireplace in the den and a garage for my hobbies and all my construction junk to live in for one of the cars to sit in out of the weather.

Missy, the "Turbo Pup" miniature Dachshund will benefit from having a fenced back yard to rumble around in at her leisure instead of spending her life asking to go outside attached to a leash like we have to make her do living here in the condo. I guess that you could say that everyone here in my household is excited, but I have a sense of dread lingering in the back of my skull knowing that everything I own has to be crammed into a box and put on a truck by August 1st.

Continuing along with my dissertation...

Friday was a relatively uneventful day, with me spending about four hours putting together the wet wall in the new laundry room in the Duplex and having my large format prints of my two photos show up via UPS--giving me a week to get things matted, framed, and ready for the "Welcome To My World" Photo Exhibit that opens next Saturday at the Mallory street Glynn Arts Association Gallery.

For once I was ahead of schedule and had plenty of time to finish my presentation, but then disaster struck Saturday morning when my friend Traci managed to put a couple of big finger prints in the middle of one of the $50 prints while measuring it for a mat and frame. We both felt terrible, but she graciously offered to buy another copy of the print at her cost and I placed the order once we arrived home from a trip to Walmart.

I managed to break the second light bulb of the week Saturday afternoon while attempting to be a good samaritan by replacing the light in the ladies' restroom at our pool house. Standing on my tiptoes to reach the fixture, I moved to adjust my position and dropped the bulb on the concrete floor, scattering glass shards over the entire bathroom floor and out onto the adjacent carpeted area.

Twenty minutes later I had managed to clean up the fruits of my efforts by dragging our upright vacuum down from the condo and sucking up all the glass shards (and hair and funk.) I'm sorry to report that my charitable spirit died sometime during the process and the ladies' room is still dark at this moment.

I did finally manage to almost get myself a nice sunburn while sitting around poolside drinking wine and waiting for a batch of my pizza dough to rise. Pizza has now become a weekend tradition for our household here on our little island.

A couple of weeks ago I made a little separate pizza for Missy the "turbo pup", and ever since then I've had not two but three mouths to feed on Saturday afternoon with my home made pizza.

Last evening was no exception, and the little hound diligently sat by her food bowl full of designer dog food and waited for me to cut up a small slice of pizza, let it cool, and place it in a bowl on the floor in the kitchen. She seems to like the crust, cheese, and pepperoni, but is a bit undecided about the Mushrooms and Black Olives.

So any way, Sunday will be spent finishing up some drawings for the Duplex project and possibly making another trip to the pool, and maybe then I'll have time to get angry about the news and write something interesting for everyone to read.

Until then, best regards y'all