Archive for September 2008

Beer

September 13, 2008

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. All you need is money.

Used to be you could buy a sixpack for $1.30, but that was back in the 60s. Now it is more like $6.50 for a sixpack. Oh well, everything else is higher too. Everything except the income.

Back in the 60s I drank beer every chance I got, which was not all that often. Back then, when asked, we told people we drank beer because we liked the taste; wink, wink. The real reason was because it contained alcohol and got us high. What a deception at such an early age. It was only by the grace of God that we did not all turn out to be politicians! Or alcoholics. Or, God forbid, alcoholic politicians!!

Back then it did not matter what brand. The cheaper, the better. They all contained alcohol and after the third can it did not matter if it was a premium brew or the cheapest panther piss we could find. It was all good.

How times have changed. Today the panther is still pissing beer but the price is up close to $20 bucks a case. For two dollars more I can get REAL beer!

I first tried Shiner. I like their family reunion assortment. The following month I decide to try the Samuel Adams assortment. WoW! I like the boston lager the best.

For the first time in my life I am proud to say I really do like the taste and no; wink, wink, about that!

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Fence

September 9, 2008

We have had a privacy fence around our backyard patio ever since we moved into this house back in 1979. The original fence was not constructed of first rate prime grade fencing. It was cobbled together using materials that had been salvaged from some other construction.

Some time after we moved in my mother transplanted some ivy from the front yard to the fence. I was not entirely pleased but did not do anything to get rid of the ivy and it finally took over the fence on both sides. That ivy is probably the only reason the fence looked decent even though it was falling down. Rot and termite damage even though it was cedar.

About a decade or more ago I added some treated beams to the posts that had rotted away in an effort to keep the fence from falling down. That worked until just recently. Seems that treated wood posts have a life expectancy too.

Well the fence was only six feet high. Not high enough to hide our bedroom windows from view by the neighbors next door. That was not a problem for me since we keep the curtains closed but my wife often mentioned her desire to have more privacy. She considered a seven foot fence as a minimum height at least for that part of the fence that bordered our neighbors kitchen window.

Well, that entire fifty foot section of fence was now falling down. I had the posts braced to keep the fence vertical but it needed replacement. I didn’t even bother getting estimates for a new fence because we had no money for that project and slim chances of getting funds any time soon.

About a year ago my neighbor across the street ripped out an old deck. There was plenty of good redwood and treated pine 2x6s in the pile of scrap that he put out for pickup. Soon the majority of his lumber was in my driveway. After removing the nails and drywall screws I salvaged some pretty decent lumber which lasted for the better part of a year being used in various woodworking projects, but now all that had been used up.

As luck would have it, I found another neighbor a few blocks away had scraped his deck a couple of months ago. I dragged all that lumber home. Using my table saw I cut the 2×6 redwood planks into 1x5s and used them to build my seven foot fence section around new posts made from 2×4 treated pine. Board on board construction. Took about two weeks to finish and after it was painted with redwood stain it looked very good. Cost was under a hundred dollars with most of the funds going for the redwood stain.

I still had about one-hundred feet of six foot fence covered in ivy and a gate that would not close after a rain.

More recently I salvaged some cedar fencing that had been discarded and most recently my neighbor on the other side of the street scraped his deck. What a deck that was! Lots of 2×6 redwood and treated pine planks that were twelve feet long. I was able to rescue about 40 2×6 treated pine planks and 20 redwood twelve footers. Lots of hardware too. Lag bolts, beam hangers, and the usual assortment of rusty nails. I did not need the nails but the beam hangers came in handy when I used several of the beams to build a firewood rack capable of holding a cord of wood well off the ground and away from the house.

I decided to add an extra foot to the six foot fence section by adding a foot tall trellis section. I could use the lumber I had acquired to extend the existing fence posts. I had already used some of the lumber to extend the posts on either side of the gate. A header now separated those posts and I no longer had any trouble with the gate closing, rain or shine.

At first I was going to buy the trellis but they don’t have decent trellis work at the home improvement centers. Lumber yards did have some really nice stuff but at prices that I did not want to pay. I ended up making my own.

I built frameworks out of treated pine 2x6s. I cut them down to 1x2s on the table saw. Then nailed them together to form a rectangle that would fit between the extended posts of the six foot fence. Each frame was custom fitted for installation between the extended posts. I left two extensions on the top frame rail to be nailed into the tops of the posts for mounting. Additional nails in the vertical frame rails fastened the lattice work securely to the posts.

The actual lattice work was made from the redwood 2x6s. I cut them on the table saw to produce 1.5 inch wide strips 1/8th inch thick. These were nailed with brads to the the lattice framework and spaced one strip width apart. The strips on one side of the frames were installed at a 45 degree angle. The strips on the other side of the frame were at a 45 degree angle but 90 degrees to the strips on the first side.

Took about two days to make and install all six sections but the results were worth the effort. Before permanent installation I varnished the outside of the strips to preserve and darken the redwood color so that they would have a better match with the other sections of fence that had been painted with the redwood stain.

I was a little anxious about how this would look. Ready made trellis work had the trellis strips placed on top of eachother, Mine were spaced 1.5 inches apart. Turns out the separation looks even better and more interesting than the normal trellis work.

Overall the effect was stunning with the green ivy contrasting nicely with the redwood color. This time the cost was under fifty dollars and it took less than a week to complete the project.

CNG

September 5, 2008

Compressed Natural Gas. This stuff has been around as long as gasoline. We are told it is 40 percent cheaper than gasoline. So how come hardly anyone uses it? Is the conversion to CNG expensive? Is it as safe as gasoline? Wasn’t there a town on the east coast that got blown away when a tanker carrying CNG blew up? Since there is no refining involved, how come it is only 40 percent cheaper? Will it still be 40 percent cheaper after everyone has been converted to use CNG?

Maybe that 40 percent is because it is not taxed as heavily. I understand that gasoline carries about 80 cents per gallon state and federal tax. No point in taxing CNG because hardly anyone uses it.

Hey, here is an idea; we will put masts and sails on our cars and let the wind push us around. Make that Pickens guy proud.