All posts by Ken

Making lemonade

There is a saying that when life gives you lemons, make lemonaid. So today, life gave me lemons so I’m making lemonade.

I’m taking vacation this week, and I had big plans… lots of stuff I want to do around the house and more important I wanted to get our rental property ready to go after a bad tenant trashed it and skipped out owing us two months rent. So, today I wake up to a foot of snow on the ground. Yesterday the high was 67. Go figure. On top of that, the property manager we had an appointment with this morning didn’t show up, I guess because of the snow. Go figure, more lemons I guess.

So… no yard work because the yard is covered in snow. No work on the rental because the heat is turned off and it’s fricken COLD. No clean up in my garage because, well, it’s fricken cold. Heck, I can’t even drive out in the desert and spend a few relaxing hours looking for cool stuff – because all the cool stuff is covered with snow.

Then I remembered – I have 4 old cast iron frying pans that are covered in rust and gunk. I vaguely remember reading about how to restore cast iron pans using the self cleaning cycle on a gas oven. A quick Google search and I find a web site that explains how to do it. Verify that my oven does indeed have the self cleaning feature, put in two pans, close the door, press the write button, and… I’m making lemonade.

In a few hours I should have a couple of (mostly) rust free cast iron frying pans. A little clean up work and some seasoning and they’ll be ready to use. The lemonade part is that it’s cold, so running the self cleaning cycle on the oven is making the house nice and warm. All in all, what could have been a wasted day is turning out to be a pretty good day.

Moral of the story is, when life gives you lemons, don’t waste your time and energy complaining, use your time and energy for making lemonade.

My new Bosch 4100-09 table saw

bosch 4100-09 table sawI love tools – the right one can make an impossible job possible and any job easier than it would be without the right tool. Never mind that they’re just plain cool – like my new Bosch 4100-09 …

I’m doing a couple very small areas of laminate flooring and it’s a PITA to use a circular saw to trim the laminate on the long edge so I suggested to my wife that we get something to make it easier – like a table saw. She shocked me by agreeing right away. OK, so now which one to get? This isn’t a review of any table saw, just a tracing of my thought process in deciding what table saw to buy.

My first choice was a portable unit and two stood out right away (based on reviews on Amazon and reputable woodworking sites) – either the  DeWalt DW745 or the Bosch GTS1031. Both had really good reviews, but both had things I didn’t like – some that mattered and some that didn’t. Since I didn’t know squat about table saws, well…

The DeWalt got great marks for accurate cutting, but it’s a direct drive motor with no soft start (hint: doesn’t matter). Also it won’t accept a dado blade (whatever the hell that is – also doesn’t matter), and some say you can’t store it on its side because of various, mysterious “factors.” Whatever… I decided the DW745 wasn’t the saw for me…

The Bosch got huge amounts of praise for its durability, ergonomics, and most important its frame design which supposedly lets you store it in any position you like with no worries about parts falling off, damaging the power cord, etc. The only problem… more than a few people complaining about blade wobble. Even I could see that is not a good thing, so I also decided against the GTS1031.

Since I’d eliminated both first choices, I looked at the next in line for Bosch and DeWalt – the DeWalt DWE7480XA and the Bosch 4100-09 table saw. Both have good reviews and neither had the negative comments that the smaller saws had. Since I liked the stand that came with the 4100-09 better I decided on the Bosch. Brought it home, unpacked it, put it together, and it works great. I LOVE this saw. Then I started reading…

The reason I bought the saw was to trim laminate flooring and possibly use for other house rehab tasks. I got sucked into the idea of a table saw that could “do it all.” Both the DWE7480 and the 4100-09 are more capable than the smaller saws from their makers, but neither is really a “do it all” saw, and either the DW745 or the GTS1031 would have been better for the jobs I wanted a table saw for in the first place.

In retrospect, I should have bought the DW745 for my flooring and rehab work and started saving up for a hybrid saw (maybe a Delta 36-725 oops, no longer stocked by Lowes 5000 Series) or maybe save a little more and get a cabinet saw.

Whatever, I already paid for the 4100 and it DOES work great. Hope to have a full review soon. Oh, and I just got a router – after rethinking my saw purchase though I did the right thing and got the router I need now, not the one I might need some day. More to come on that too…

More like my Dad…

I wish I could be more like my Dad. It’s been almost 2 years since his passing and sometimes I miss him so much I cry. Still. After 2 years…

We didn’t always agree on things, but he was always supportive and never got angry even when I was <ahem> vehement on my position. Unlike me…

He was a busy man, but he always made time for family and put family first. In particular, no matter what he was doing or how important it was, he’d stop and make time to talk to me when I needed to talk. Unlike the way I am with my two sons…

He had a strong faith. He didn’t just talk about it, he lived it. Unlike me…

He was a quiet, modest man, but he would speak out – strongly – when he felt he saw some injustice or unfairness that he needed to speak out about. Unlike me…

He was tough but fair, and always calm. No matter how badly I screwed up he would always talk to me about it – no yelling, no swearing, no etc. Unlike me…

So now I just got an interruption and I’ll have to finish this post later. Not handling it well. Unlike how my Dad would have handled it…

I wish I could be more like my Dad…

Yesterday was the last day…

My dad passed away a year ago today, so yesterday was the one year anniversary of the last day I got to talk with him. I remember it well. Last year the 19th was on a Sunday, and even though Monday was a holiday I was going to have to work. My parents were planning on picking up my son and having him spend the day with them. I called them in the evening to finalize the plans, which were for them to pick him up around 11:30, then when I got off work I’d go to their house and we’d all have a visit.

I don’t usually remember casual conversations, but this one really stuck in my mind because my dad sounded really agitated about the NFL playoff game he was watching. His team was losing, a combination of poor playing and bad refereeing (according to him). My dad was an avid football fan, but it was the first time I’d ever hear him sound so irritated about his favorite team losing a game. I jokingly told him that if he didn’t calm down I’d have mom ban him from watching football… then I changed the subject and we talked a little more and hung up. Something just didn’t feel right. If I’d known it was the last day I’d ever talk to my dad I would have gone to their house that night to visit. It turns out it’s good I didn’t though because they wouldn’t have been there anyway.

Things to do this year…

I’m not big on resolutions because I never keep them, but planning is a different thing… some would even say that failing to have a plan is akin to intentionally planning to fail. I won’t go that far but planning things does help me keep organized and since the last year had some major changes, I need something to get more focused/better organized/whatever… Anyway, here are 12 things I hope to do this year:

1. Get in shape. In 2013 I was doing great. I joined a gym, cut way back on my drinking, started eating healthy, etc. Then in January of last year my dad passed away and all that went out the window. I dropped out of the gym, started drinking, uhmmm… NOT moderately, and eating, well… which is all stupid. My energy level has gone through the floor, and if I want to get anything done I need to get back in shape – so of all the things to do this year, this is the most important.

2. Homestead the house. In most states, ‘homesteading’ your house gives you a LOT of protection against law suits, creditors, etc.

3. Set up a trust. Another great way to protect assets is to put most of them in a trust, with the trust (not you) owning the assets. If YOU don’t own them, they can’t be taken away, say, as the result of losing a lawsuit…

4. Grow a garden. I’ve already started this actually, with 3 raised beds planted with garlic. I plan a lot more though, with emphasis on stuff I actually like to eat.

5. Raise some animals. I’m going to start with rabbits, and if that works out I’d like to get 3 or 4 laying hens.

6. De-clutter. It’s really hard to get anything done when you’re constantly tripping over junk, and we have a serious junk problem at our house – time to get rid of it.

7. Spend more time hunting and fishing, along with other legal methods of getting wild (natural) food – catching crayfish, gathering edible plants, etc.

8. Learn how to cook and can. I know some basic cooking, but not more complex things like baking bread. Canning will also be great for preserving the stuff I grow in the garden, which leads to…

9. Set up a food store. If the SHTF, it would be nice to know I’ll be able to feed my family, at least for awhile.

10. Spend some time camping and learning outdoor skills.

11. Get my CCW.

12. Start going to church again and regularly studying the Bible. “Man does not live by bread alone…”

There you go, 12 things. I hope they’ll keep me busy and out of trouble…

Today is the first day of the rest of your life

Welcome to 2015:) I don’t put too much stock in New Years Day… January 1st is just another day… except…

It gives us a chance to reflect on the past and plan ahead.

2014 wasn’t a great year for me. My dad passed away in January (hard to believe it’s been almost a year) and I still miss him. My mom, who seemingly handled it well at first, seems to be… well I don’t want to say she’s losing her mind, but in some ways…

My 9 year old continues to be rebellious (9 going on 19, I swear…), I have gout or some other crap going on in my left leg, and try as I might I’m having a hard time trying to re-forge family ties with my sister. I mean… does politics have to be injected into EVERY thing???

On the plus side, our front yard no longer looks like a disaster zone. We have 3 raised beds in the back yard planted with garlic and all (well most) of the brush has been cleaned up. My mom got a new house a lot closer to ours. I visited with my sister 3 times in 2014 – more than in the previous 10 years – and when she shuts up about her politics she’s actually a nice person.

Looking forward to 2015, I’m going to build a rabbit hutch and get 2 bucks and 4 does. Also want to get a ringneck pheasant rooster (have a friend of a friend who breeds them in Bishop) and maybe a few chickens. We already have garlic planted, in the spring we’ll be getting 6 more raised beds (one for Salsify) and maybe plant a grape vine.

Last but not least I’m pretty sure we’ll find a way that my wife can quit her day job, and also get my dad’s (now mine) old truck to Sparks so I can get it running.

Hope everyone reading this has a blessed year in 2015…

Welcome

Welcome to my urban homestead. There’s not a lot going on since it’s winter here in northern Nevada, but there are still some things that can be done. I’m still in the process of planning next summer’s garden, I have a few gun projects to finish up, my garage/workshop needs a major cleaning and reorganization, etc…

The two big things I’ll be working on through the end of this year are learning how to bake bread and growing wheat grass. It’s too cold outside and the days are too sort for any kind of regular gardening, but I’m going to try growing a wheat grass microgarden. It should be fun:)

garlic4