Is that suit fire-proof?

November 13, 2009

Back in the day my (really big) company would occasionally have a party to celebrate one thing or another.  One of these parties was NASCAR-themed. A band, probably 500 people clustered in little groups sipping beer and wine and eating carrot sticks–you know the kind of thing.

While I was chatting with a little knot of friends a man wandered over wearing a custom-made race car driver’s uniform.  He said hello and tried to make small talk with the group. I knew who this man was, but it was obvious that nobody else in our group had a clue. For whatever reason I chose to keep it to myself. The group was being pretty sarcastic even before this small man in an odd outfit came up. The group wasn’t particularly kind to the stranger, and I’m ashamed to admit I just watched with interest.

Eventually one of the group pulled a lighter from his pocket and made as if to set fire to the gentleman’s sleeve. He was understandably surprised, and amazingly calm as he simply took a step backward saying, “Tough crowd.” My friend laughed saying, “I was just wondering if these suits are really fireproof.”

As the man backed away mumbling something about enjoying the party and headed over to another knot of (surely more welcoming) people, I said to my friend, “Pal, you just tried to set a corporate vice president on fire.” Then I turned my employee badge back around so my name could be seen.


And so it goes …

September 22, 2009

I’m one of those people who try to do a simple thing, and it just gets more and more complicated the farther I go.

As an example, one weekend I tried to add a tiny deck extension (a box, really) between the deck and the hot tub. It should have been a matter of a couple of hours’ work at most, even considering how I always over-engineer things.

To give you an idea of the scale, here is a plan of the simple thing I was trying to accomplish:deckPlan

I noticed that the hot tub wasn’t sitting perfectly square to the deck, so I needed to move it just a bit so that the extension could be rectangular and there’d be an even gap between the little box and the deck edge.

To do that I had to drain the tub. It’s too heavy to shove around while full of water, you see.

Once I started that, I decided to remove the cabinet and spray for wasps and spiders. Why wouldn’t you just do that simple thing while you’re out there and the tub is draining?

Once the cabinet sides were off and sitting on the ground, I decided to stain it. I had the stain already, and it’s the exact same stain the manufacturer used when making the tub. It had been a year and it really looks so nice freshly stained. Besides, the cabinet was already off and just lying there, waiting for the attention. You see how it was, right?

So I stained the redwood siding. Simple enough.

Once I was done with all that, I decided I might want to lift the entire tub an inch so that the legs rested on small blocks of Trex composite decking boards so that the wooden feet would be protected from any rainwater on the patio.  The tub was empty now, you see, and the cabinet was off drying in the sun. You can understand how this only makes good sense, right?  Just lift one side, slide in a little piece of plastic decking, then do the other side. Keep its feet dry, as it were.

When I jacked it up, I brushed the bottom of the legs to make them clean for the blocks, and found that the wooden legs had already been rotten away and eaten by wood borers! One entire leg was already nothing but dirt for a good 5 or 6 inches up into the fiberglass sleeve that is molded around the 4×4 timber legs. I complained to the manufacturer, and they reported that they really didn’t have this problem any more since they began putting composite decking feet on the timber legs to keep the legs off the ground. Yeah, brilliant, I replied.

So then my wife and I turned the whole thing up on its side, and I spent the next 6 evenings drilling and boring out the wooden feet to replace them with new 4×4 timbers. Of course *mine* are soaked in creocote (a creosote replacement) to protect from water and insects.  I had to go up far enough to get past all the damaged material, and those sleeves leave NO room for maneuvering.  I had to buy extensions for my Forstner bits and longer chisels. The timbers are around 26 inches long, and there are 6.

After about 14 hours of nasty work in the dark lighted with just a desk lamp on a 50′ extension cord, I finally finished.  Of course, on the worst leg I had to remove all the old wood. It had not rotted evenly, and  I had to have a flat surface on which to rest the new timber.  The Forstner bits worked wonders.

I just wish I’d remembered the tiny little pointed bit that sticks out further than the rest of the cutting edge.  Of course with the last bit of drilling I managed to breach the bottom of the tub. Naturally.

So, now I had to go online and find some liquid 2-part acrylic to seal the hole.  Another week goes by.  Ever try pouring two-part acrylic up?  I couldn’t turn the tub upside-down since it was still hard-wired into the patio. I couldn’t reach the hole from inside the tub since it is a two-layer affair with water between the layers.

I did my best. Now it only leaks slowly.  I guess by now that timber is getting soft from the constant water contact on top.  I don’t care, though.  The tub is now perfectly square to the deck.

Someday I’ll get around to building that extension.

And so it goes …

Hello world!

September 22, 2009

Just a collection of things I really shouldn’t put anywhere else.