Tuesday, July 31, 2007


So, Adobe has released a new version of the Flash Player. It seems everyone under the sun is now requiring this new version (well, yahoo maps and my Dad's RoadRunner email are). So I decided to install it on the old home compooter.

Oddly, it worked fine for me, but then when other people tried to use those sites, it complained that it did not have the version installed if using Internet Explorer. Firefox was just plain fine. So I decided last night to dedicate myself to figuring this out.

Mistake, as it turns out.

I upgraded to the most recent IE, as I had held off on that cuz of the crappier user interface. Didn't help.

I tried uninstalling the previous version, as in the Flash troubleshooting FAQ it said this could be a problem. Didn't help.

Finally, I found a note on what to do if it's ONLY IE that doesn't work, whereas other browsers do, and it's only for some users on a multi-user XP system. It involved changing the permissions inside the registry by using the register editor. Apparently, there are complicated register entry changes made by the latest Flash that by default all users do not have permission to make, even if they're designated as "Administrators" in the account setup.

No big deal. I've edited the register before and never had a problem. So they gave an example of what your permissions should look like.

On my compooter, the permissions screen was blank. (Interestingly, on my work compooter, it looks just like the example from Adobe). So I added the "Administrators" group and gave unrestricted permission to it. I hit OK. Then I hit EXIT.

And that was the last of my compooter.

It just started diddling the hard drive with the screen frozen. I waited. And waited. And waited some more.

After a while, the hard drive stopped being diddled. I waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Finally, I power cycled the thing. My compooter often hangs when trying to restart and needs a power cycle.

It came right up. To the second splash screen. Then it sat. The mouse worked, but all I had was a pretty blue screen with a little "Windows" icon in the center of it. I waited quite a bit, at this point in a fairly blind panic, it being 1:30am and the compooter being dead.

I tried "last known good config". Didn't help.

I tried all three varieties of Safe Mode. Didn't help.

I searched high and low for my Windows DVD and could not find it. Not that it would have helped, I don't think, as I don't know what I would have done with it. There's this "re-instaling the OS" thing that you can theoretically do, but I dunno if the Windows DVD is even bootable.

I paced around the house like a crazed maniac.

I got out the phone book to look at the listings for compooter repair. Ooo - The Mrs. is gonna be mad that I broke her compooter. I cursed myself for not buying that external drive and drive cloning software that got a glowing review over at The JohnnyB.

Finally, I just let it spin and went to bed. A fitful rest until the early morning, when I had a dream that I found a floppy that came with the computer called "registry recovery", ran it, and it found 4 corrupted registry entries all from a marijuana advocacy website, fixed them, and the computer booted just fine. I slept happily until I woke up realizing it was a dream. I ran downstairs to check on the compooter, and it was still sitting at the windows splash screen. And the mouse still worked.

So I spent all morning decided whether I should pay someone $50/hr to reinstall my OS and hope he doesn't decide to reformat the drive along the way and lose all my data; or if I should get a new hard drive, get that up and running, then copy the files over; or if I should just get a new compooter since this one has been kind of dogging it for a while. In the end, I decided that nothing soothes the heart more than a new compooter, so I went to a highly-rated local compooter store and spec'd one out. It's kinda similar to The JohnnyB's Velocity Micro, but I went downscale a bit on many of the components. Though I did get 4MB of cache on my Core 2 Duo (6340? 1.86GHz/1066bus/4M). I also opted for Windows XP instead of Vista, as I didn't want to deal with trying to find Vista drivers for all my peripherals nor did I want to deal with Vista's nasty evil DRM.

We're scavenging my dual-layer DVD+/-RW drive, the wireless keyboard and mouse, and the firewire board from the old compooter, and we're installing the old hard drive in as the d: drive (since it's a 7200RPM 80GM drive, though it's IDE instead of SATA, so it needs an adapter). Nice thing is the store does all that for free even though I didn't buy the original from them.

I get the compooter tomorrow, assuming no unforseen problems. He had it all assembled except for my scavanged components between the time I went to the store to order it and when I returned with my old system an hour later. If I had been willing to take Vista, I coulda had it today. But XP has 5 hours of downloaded updates that need to get installed after you install off the DVD, so he needs to take until tomorrow to get all those done. (Best Buy charges an extra $100 to do that for you.)

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the old hard drive isn't messed up and that all our data is there. Mostly all we care about is all our digital pictures (I have up through about 9mo ago on a DVD) and The Mrs.'s Outlook Express archive/address and her IE bookmarks. I can't imagine a regedit messing up the hard drive, so I fully expect it to all be intact. And, having both drives in the same machine means I can move files very quickly and I can spend as long as I like finding non-critical files. I still have a boatload of files in a directory on that drive that I created as a copy of the hard drive of the previous computer. That hard drive was too slow to be moved over to the new one.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Checking In

I'm on vacation this week, and we have my parents visiting, so I've been pretty busy and haven't gotten to write anything in a while.

And that isn't going to change tonight. Much.

The hot tub is up and running, and we've been using it about 3 times per day. Once in the early morning (7am-ish) with the womens and childrens. Once again at about 8pm also with the womens and childrens, and then at about 10pm with just The Mrs. and Me, CherkyB. It is awfully nice to have a hot tub.

The deck, though still not done, is coming along nicely. I have pictures, but the camera is upstairs.

Went fishing today. We caught three bluegills (two for me and one for HannahC), and we ate them. They may have tasted good, but it was hard to tell. They were so small.

The parents and The Mrs. got me a Smoke Vault for my birthday. I smoked ribs yesterday (I have pictures) and the bluegills today. Fun! Wow!

We started the garage door insulation project yesterday. Got a lot of the cutting done, and installed the first layer on one of the three doors. I have pictures.

That's all.

Friday, July 27, 2007

CherkyB, Man of Insight

Me, CherkyB: "How was Fat Camp?"

Iceman: "It was pretty good."

Me, CherkyB: "Did you make it up to Lucky Joe's?"

Iceman: "Yeah. We got served by The Lesbian. She was kinda gruff. 'Here's your drinks. Harumph.'"

Me, CherkyB: "Lesbians can be like that."


Iceman: "Of course, we don't know for sure she's a lesbian. We just call her that."

Me, CherkyB: "Yup. The only way to know for sure is for you to hit on her."

Me, CherkyB: "You know, your 'I've got a job,' line also works on lesbians. It's the only line that works, cuz it's the only thing they can't get from another woman."

Iceman: "Hmm..."

Me, CherkyB: "Yup. You can buy strap-on [redacted], but you can't buy strap-on jobs."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Cherkyluck

Ahhh, the infamous Cherkyluck. It plagued my father all through my childhood (and beyond), and now I have inherited it. What is this thing I call Cherkyluck.

It is a pox. A pox upon all mankind. Or, in particular, a pox upon me.

It's somewhat like Murphy's law, where everything that could possibly go wrong does. Only it ends with "to me".

On a lighter note, our hot tub was delivered Monday. The electrician hooked it up Tuesday. Then promptly failed electrical code inspection. So he hooked it up again today, only with large gauge wire. Code inspection is tomorrow, so keep your finger's crossed.

I decided to fill it up tonight, given that it takes a while to fill and get the chemicals just right before you can use it, and I have my parents flying in tomorrow evening for a visit, so I won't be able to fuss with it tomorrow.

About an hour after starting the filling, I looked out the window and noted water seemed to be running out from under the hot tub. Hmmm. I had been reading the manual, and it said to make sure that all the fittings were tight and had not loosened up in shipment before filling it, and I had not done that cuz the guy who delivered it and gave me start up instructions had not told me to. And I didn't read the directions before beginning the filling.

Well, just my luck that a fitting would have come loose.

So I open up the front panel and look. Hmmmm.

I get a flashlight and look some more.

This is very interesting. There is water pouring out of an area that does not appear to be near any kind of fitting. But perhaps it is just traveling along the hose from a fitting higher up that I can't see.

So I open up the side where I saw the leak. A very large hose is nicely sawed up with a beautiful semi-circular saw gash right exactly behind where the hole was cut in the side for the drain pipe. Oddly, the radius of the gash in the hose matches exactly that of the circular hole cut for the drain pipe.

Imagine that.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Poor The Locksmith

How he doth suffer for his love.

Welcome to my world.

A Fambly Hike

As I may have mentioned once or twice, on Saturday we headed up to Medicine Bow National Forest, which is just outside of Centennial, WY. This story all takes place in, if I recognize the satellite photos correctly, this region.

Our first stop was at the picnic area next to the bottom lake in the satellite image. There, we met up with my brother, DougyC, and his wife, KathyC. It was DougyC's birthday. We got him a six-pack of beer. They're from Wisconsin, so we don't see them all that often, though lately it's been a lot more often than it had been. Darn near once a year.

HannahC was very excited to find this, which she labeled Mandrake (I'm pretty sure it isn't). DougyC and I then sat around and said, "Mandrake the Magician?" a lot, and that drove HannahC insane. Which is admittedly not too difficult a thing to do, given her heritage and all.

After a picnic lunch where the entertainment was watching a continuous procession of fly fishermen show up, spend a half hour fiddling with their gear, go down to the lake and fish for 20 minutes, and then leave disappointed, we went on our hike. I'm not exactly sure if the hike had an objective, as in a destination. I think the plan was to just walk up the hiking path until we got tired, then turn around and come back. That was what we did, at least, and no one seemed too unhappy about it.

I've carefully marked out our trek as an overlay to the map. Clipart is a wonderful thing.

MaxieC was ready for adventure.

For some reason, every time I see this photo I think "Sherpa". But why an unsuccessful attempt to join two Madison die with a custom power and memory chip on a single substrate has anything to do with this, I don't know. (A little work-related humor that, at best, one of my readers will understand...)

Something is apparently very interesting over to the right. Or else HannahC has to pee.

Here's a little lake that we stopped at to play in a snow field. HannahC decided to see how far out she could climb on the boulders without getting her feet wet - a little game many of us were playing. HannahC, unfortunately, spent too much time concentrating on not getting her feet wet and not enough time concentrating on not getting her torso wet.

She fell in, in case you didn't figure that out. I'm never sure with this crowd.

MaxieC was unimpressed with the quality of the suspension on his ride:

And finally, a picture I like to call, "Holy smokes. You can see my gut from there?" You may need to click on the photo to see it full size

It's like prom night all over again

Or something.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I am a Harry Potter Widower

The Mrs. decided she needed to re-read all the first six terrible books before the seventh arrived today. Now here is the new book, right on time.

I wonder if I can sue the publisher for alienation of affection.

Friday, July 20, 2007

MaxieC, Peristalsis Reverser

Last night I was driving home from Fat Camp, and the cellphone rang. It was The Mrs.:
The Mrs.: "Can you come home?"

Me, CherkyB: "I'm on my way. Why?"

The Mrs.: "MaxieC is barfing all over."
Grate. And my presence helps this because...? I pondered.

I figured that either there was going to be a lot of laundry/cleanup, or maybe she just needed moral support. Much like I went and got The Mrs. to stand with me while Ethel died, despite the fact that there was nothing she could do to actually help.

When I got home, I found The Mrs. and MaxieC lying on a towel on the floor of our master suite next to the tub. I also found our bed completely stripped bare excepting for a towel over the spot I normally sleep. I lifted the towel and felt. Yup. Soaking wet.

Wonderful. MaxieC did just barf "all over". Rather, he barfed very specifically in our bed on my side.

I put all the bedding into the washing machine. One of the great things about these front-loader washing machines is that you can fit in two king-size sheets, a king-size blanket, a bunch of pillow cases, and a few towels, and there is still plenty of room for water, etc.

I hung out with The Mrs. and MaxieC for a while, then they headed to bed. My bed. I headed to MaxieC's bed, as I really didn't want to sleep on top of a barf puddle with the distinct possibility of being suddenly also underneath a brand new barf puddle.

This morning, MaxieC seem to be OK. We went outside, and he hit the plastic ball that hangs from the tree with his plastic bat and watched the contractors start framing the deck. I'm hoping no one else gets sick, or it'll be a long drive tomorrow to the Medicine Bows, where there is no cellphone coverage and thus no way for us to cancel our fambly lunch meeting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A brief update

The county in which I live has finally decided to get off their bureaucratic asses and approve the permit application for rebuilding the deck. They're only about a week later on that than we really needed. We had our first inspection today, of the concrete footing holes and rebar. Very interesting that our deck apparently requires 24" diameter, 3' deep reinforced concrete footings, as the contractor had to come back and dig them larger before the inspector arrived.

My house in Santa Clarabelle did not have 24" diameter concrete footings. And they have lots of earthquakes there. And it was a house, not a stupid deck. A deck that is a grand total of 8" off the ground at the particular spot that requires 24" footings.

I am always amazed at the steady creep of building codes.

I kinda like the idea of pounding rebars down into the dirt a couple feet below the bottom of the footing and then letting them come up through the concrete. I bet that holds it in place quite nicely. I should probably have done that on the trampoline. Maybe I'll update the diagram.

Tomorrow, the concrete truck comes. They'll pour the footings as well as the slab for the hot tub. I wish I could be home for that, but I have to work work work.


I'd like to thank everyone for their birthday well-wishes, and thanks to Ellie for the Beavis and Butt-head mouse pad (which I had been using for a week as it came in a box with a lot of other stuff and was in no way marked as a birthday present for me, but later turned out to be), and of course Fat Moother for the "My other ride is your mom" T-shirt. Very classy. I'll wear it to fat camp tomorrow.


Ethel is still in the freezer. I hope we can bury her this weekend.


I've found that the best way to get people to click on your blog ads is to get them to blog and get them to sign up for ads themselves. My revenue is up about 500% since Ellie got ads on her site. Could it be that people are motivated more by greed than by altruism? I figure it's only a matter of time before the google police accuse me of click fraud or something and demand all their money back.


I don't know anybody in Germany, yet I have had a regular (every 2-3 days) visitor from Germany for months now. He or she has a static IP, so I know it isn't just random people from Germany. Hey there, German dude(ette). I'll try to start making fun of the French more often again for you. Though now that they've elected Sarkozy, I've been trying to tone it down. I even contemplated buying a bottle of French wine for the first time in 6 years. I kinda miss my Beaujolais, even if it is spelled like a drunkard made it up. Those stupid French f@^&s can't spell for s&!%.


I might be traveling to a place called "The Medicine Bows," which is a whole 2 hours away, to see my brother and sister-in-law on Saturday (which, coincidentally, is my brother's birthday). We lack firm plans, but it seems to be on, as The Mrs. is organizing it. They live in Wisconsin, so I not only don't see them very often, but I have to feel sorry for them all the time for living in a place such as Wisconsin. This seems to annoy people from Wisconsin to no end, as a lot of them claim to like it there.

French people claim to like it in France, too, I might add.


Yesterday, I got to chatting with The Iceman about this thing we have called the "Multi-cultural Room" in our new building at work. I was explaining how "multi-cultural room" is the latest PC code phrase for "Islamic prayer room", but no company wants to set aside a room named specifically for Islamic prayer, or suddenly every religion under the sun wants their own prayer room.

The Iceman said, "We should have NRA meetings in there or something."

So we spent some time thinking about how to start up the Fort TomCollins Gun Culture club. The gun culture is an officially recognized culture, so we should have no trouble booking time in the multi-cultural room. We've decided to open each meeting with an inspirational passage from the late Colonel Jeff Cooper, the man who taught me how to shoot a rifle, if indirectly.

We're a little hung up right now on the exclusionary rule, as all clubs are defined really more by whom the exclude than whom they include. I proposed a 4-gun minimum, but Rico and Bimminy Cwicket complained about that, as they're both only 2-gun guys.

I pointed out that we have a bonus being paid out in just 2 weeks that should easily cover the cost two quite fine firearms, but already they want the rules changed to suit them. Well, what can I say other than: Borders, Language, Culture. In our culture, we have a 4-gun minimum. You don't like it? There is no wall keeping people out of Mexico.

I'm pretty sure Iceman lacks the organizational skills to get this off the ground. I may have to assign Tinfoil to it when he gets back from vacation.

The Mrs., Poet

As created at dinner tonight:

I don't know who to hate more
Al Gore
Michael Moore

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Now that's weird

Whitey and Charles, our koi, have returned to the pond today. I wonder where they went on their vacation.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Day of Sadness

Yesterday was quite a day. It should have gone so well, what with the completion of the trampoline project. But it turned out to be a Day of Death.

First, sometime in the late morning, early afternoon, The Mrs. went out to feed the fishies. Shortly thereafter she came up to me and said, "Have you seen Whitey and Charles today?"

Now, this is an interesting question, as Whitey and Charles are our last two remaining Koi in the front pond, Reddy and Goldy having disappeared under mysterious circumstances last fall (that is, we presume they got eaten by either a heron or a racoon, which is generally how Koi disappear around here). Koi don't normally go on walk-about, so if you go to feed them, and they aren't there, that's not a very good sign.

I poked around quite a bit under the ivy where they hide, and no fishies. Kept an eye out the rest of the day. No fishies. Poor Whitey and Charles.

Later, when I completed the trampoline, The Mrs. decided to reward me by letting me mow the lawn. This is something I have not done completely in about three weeks, as I have spent almost all waking hours on the weekends working on the trampoline. I've managed to mow the front a couple times and part of the back, but not the whole thing.

So I'm mowing along happily by the front fence, and just as I'm about to go around a fence post, I see something move. I stop and back up. There, at the base of the post is huddled a little baby bunny. Doesn't even have its eyes open. But it twitches its ears if it hears a loud noise.

I motion for The Mrs. to bring The Childrens to look at the baby bunny. They have a great time seeing it. The Mrs. then utters those fateful words: "Are there any more?"

Uh oh.

I back track along the fence line a bit, and about 20 feet back, I find a little dead baby bunny with its belly slashed wide open. It's freshly dead. Still limp.

I mowed a baby bunny.

I point it out quietly to The Mrs., and she keeps The Childrens pointed in another direction. We head the other way along the fence and find another baby bunny huddled about three fence posts down. This one has its eyes open. After more searching, we find one about ten feet back into the lawn from the fence, only this one is only about a half a bunny, and it's clearly been dead a while. I dunno if I mowed that one in half or not. I suspect not, as I haven't mowed the front in two weeks, and this looked too big to have been the same age as the others two weeks ago.

I carefully mow around the bunnies after having disposed of freshly-chopped bunny after The Mrs. had shooed The Childrens off to let me finish mowing. I finish the mowing without further incident.

The rest of the day went well until the evening when The Mrs. was putting MaxieC to bed. HannahC went to play with her rats, as she usually does each night after MaxieC goes to bed. Suddenly, she starts screaming that we need to call an ambulance cuz Ethel is sick. I take Ethel from her, and sure enough, Ethel is sick. She's very lethargic. There are no outward signs of injury or sickness, but she's definitely not right.

Ethel had been sneezing a lot lately. She had been sneezing since we got her, so we hadn't thought a lot about it. But it had been picking up frequency of late.

I held Ethel for about an hour. We sent HannahC to bed. Ethel perked up a bit, and climbed from my hands to my shoulder where she likes to sit. I put her back in her cage with Jackie, as rats take care of one another when they are sick. I sat with them for another half hour, and then Jackie suddenly got very agitated. I took Jackie out.

Ethel passed on about 10 minutes later.

HannahC is very upset to have lost three of her pets in one day. It is a sad home today.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

And so it ends

At long last, the trampoline project is concluded. It took me all day yesterday plus a couple hours today, but it's finally, finally done.

And not a moment too soon. I was beginning to hate the trampoline.

So, at some point I'll get these photos into the trampoline project page, but for now I'll just put them here. That way, I don't have to detail all the actual work in a step-by-step format.

What I did for most of Saturday was to built a custom-fit ring made out of plywood around the lip of the retaining wall in order to fill in the gaps between the dodecagon wall and the circular trampoline. I did this using 4'x8" planks of pressure-treated plywood cut from a 4x8 sheet.

I got to use my saber saw, my belt sander, and my router. All tools I had not gotten to use yet in this project. It got me to thinking about whether there were any power tools I owned that I didn't use in this project.

The answer is yes. I didn't use my narrow-angle drill, my palm sander, or my old 14.4V drill that doesn't hold a charge anymore and has been replaced. Other than that, I got everything out.

Those of you who have an interest in the weather already know about this gap. I had declared victory yesterday even though there was this gap, but the victory was short-lived. The Mrs. insisted it be fixed.

So I spliced in a patch made from the scraps. It's held in with Simpson strong tie jobbers, a 90-degree joint to the wall and some nail straps to the adjacent pieces. I had to use stainless steel screws, since deck screws don't come this short. Stainless screws cost $0.49 each, making this by far the most expensive piece of the project.

The Childrens helped put the springs all in place. It poured moments later, so we didn't get the trampoline surface in for a couple hours.

Sunday afternoon after adding a second cubic yard of playground mulch. I bought the two yards from two different places - the first yard on Saturday from a closer place that was closed by the time I had it unloaded and didn't open on Sundays, and the second yard from a farther away place. They both cost exactly the same amount. But the second one was a good 4-5" deeper in the back of my pickup. They used a front loader at the second place instead of a skid loader like was used at the first.

The first place had a drive-up window, though, so I didn't even need to get out of the truck.

MaxieC takes it for a whirl.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I am (getting?) old

StinkyJ was in town on bidness this week, and since his bidness is closely related to my bidness (working for the same division of the same The Company and all), that means he was actually in the same building as I during work hours. Just like olde times.

Now, for some inexplicable reason, The Mrs. seemed to not mind if I went out and had a beers with StinkyJ three nights in a row. Those of you who actually know me know that this is a remarkable change of circumstances, as The Mrs. does not normally allow me to go out for a beers more than once a week. I guess the whole "an old friend in town" angle softened her up.

She must miss her old friends.

Interestingly, I don't think StinkyJ and I have ever gone out for a beers at night if one or both of us were not traveling. In the 11 years we worked in the same location, I think the only times we ever went out at night for a beers was when we were both traveling to Fort TomCollins on bidness. Now, I'm excluding those trips to the cantina that occur right at quitting time, cuz they don't require any kind of thought or planning, and if you do them right, your spouse doesn't even have to pre-approve. I'm talking about leave work, go home, eat dinner, then go out for beers.

But, I mentioned to The Mrs. that StinkyJ was going to be in town, and that maybe we'd go grab a beers, and she approved it without even any cajoling. Then again the next night. Then, of course, it was Thursday night, which means Fat Camp and no special approval is required.

So, you know, trying to be a good host, I picked him up at his hotel and we went to my favorite hang out. As luck would have it, the one bar waitress in all of Fort TomCollins who remembers me and what I drink was working, and so I got to look like I was the kind of guy that is recognized by the bar staff, which implies better service.

If, by better service, you mean that when you order the last round, the waitress drops off your beers and says, "I'll take care of this round for you," and then you're drinking free beers. No better way to impress an out-of-town colleague than to take him to a bar where the waitress not only remembers what you drink, but even comp's you a round.

Unless, of course, your out-of-town colleague secretly assumes you're a drunkard and this just serves to solidify that impression. But I don't think StinkyJ secretly assumes I'm a drunkard. Not after I showed him my bar with the big "Bar Signs" poster from dunkard.com, at least.

Not wanting to disrupt the mojo, we went back again the next night. The waitress that doesn't remember me was there, and there were no free drinks. She even insisted I provide her a credit card to run a tab for the night. Our good friend waitress was there, too, but as a patron. As was the one waitress that kinda knows me at the other bar we frequent during Fat Camp, also as a patron.

That's right. My favorite watering hole also happens to be the bar that all the barmaids hang out in when they're not working. I didn't actually know that before. But now that I do, I like the place even more. Free peanuts, never a cover. What's not to like?

StinkyJ dropped by for dinner yesterday to see the fambly and the new homestead. He had printed up for HannahC a certificate that inducted her into the Order of Fishermen as of the date she caught her first fish, which he read about here on Me, CherkyB. She was quite happy with that. I figured something was up when he had nonchalantly asked me what her middle name was during an IM conversation a few days ago.

So, anyways, after two nights out having a beers with StinkyJ, and then a well-attended Fat Camp (StinkyJ is quite a draw), when I got an email at about 2:00 today saying that there was a happy hour at 4:00, I just kinda stared at it. Then, ten minutes later, another email announcing the same event. And, much as I am embarrassed to say this, I just didn't want to go. I didn't feel like more beers. Or gin. Or even Jack'n'Coke. I just felt like going home.

I'm not even 40.

I am here

But nobody else is.
Where are they?
Ahhh...the cellphone rings, and it is The Mrs. asking when I will be coming home.
Yet, already am I home.
We are going to Pizza the Hut for dinner,
I am told.

Monday, July 09, 2007

MaxieC, Master of the English Language

My dear parents will be visiting us starting in roughly two weeks. That means we have to start putting things in place now to make it look like we're not terrible parents. The first thing we need to do is break The Childrens of their habits of saying "shut up" and "idiot" all the time. Habits The Mrs. today accused me of teaching them when she said, "I never say those words."

Which is a filthy lie, but there's no point in trying to argue it. If there's one key to a happy marriage, it's that the Man is always the one at fault.

So at the dinner table, MaxieC blurted out "idiot!" for no apparent reason, and The Mrs. took action:
The Mrs.: "MaxieC, if I hear you..."

MaxieC: "Idiot!"

The Mrs.: "...say idiot..."

MaxieC: "Idiot!"

The Mrs.: "...one more time..."

MaxieC: "Iiiidiiii-ot!"

The Mrs.: "...it'll be naughty corner. Starting now!"

MaxieC: "Idi-shit!"
This may take some work.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

An Inground Trampoline Design

A note for my regular readers, like the much-acclaimed Bercomac snowblower post, this post is intended to help out the many people googling "inground trampoline" every day. Since I really knew nothing about this before embarking on this endeavor, and I started with a bit of googling and found almost nothing useful other than a bunch of people trying to sell me kits, I'm taking the time to document this in the hopes that I can be of some help to others in the same predicament. That is, people who have a bit of the do-it-yourself streak but want a starting point from which to get the creative juices flowing.

Of course, it wouldn't be Me, CherkyB, if there weren't some color commentary along the way. I'm no Norm Abram.

A little background: when we bought our "wonderful" house here in Fort TomCollins, CO, it already came with an inground trampoline. However, like most of the exterior landscaping features of the house, the design came up a bit short on the longevity scale. There was a hole dug in the ground, and a retaining wall of sorts was built using 3/8" plywood for about a foot in height, and then two rows of Trex decking material. I'm guessing this material was chosen as it could be bent and formed into a circle easily. It certainly wasn't chosen because it would stand up to the pressure of the earth. It was, at the time of purchase, largely buckled inwards, though the 12 support posts were holding. Thus, the earth was slowly sinking around the trampoline, washing away a little more with each rainfall. The final straw for the design was when I was jumping on the trampoline with my son, and one of the springs tore off. Unable to find a replacement trampoline of the exact same dimensions, I really was forced to redo the whole thing.

This design is one that developed while I was chatting with my neighbor about what to do. It's a good deal of work (about 6 man-days), and has been dubbed by my loving and always supportive wife as "the most over-engineered inground trampoline ever," but I think it should hold for 10-15 years at least. Keep in mind that, since I already had an inground trampoline prior to this, I'm skipping step one: dig hole. I'm not sure what kind of fancy design needs to go into that step, but mostly, I think it involves digging a hole that's about 2 feet deep at the edges and 3-4 feet deep at the center. That's a lot of digging for a shovel, but your local rental center will rent you any number of different kinds of mini-excavators that will do the trick, though I hear it may be a better deal to hire this part of it out.

Before we get to the details, here are the materials and tools lists. There is nothing exotic in either list. Both can be had at either Lowe's or Home Depot. I spent about $350 on the materials, but I'm in a medium-high priced geography. I managed to get by without buying any new tools for this project, though I did rent a spiffy laser level. You could do the job without a laser level, but it was a lot easier to get the levels marked on the posts with one.

Materials List:
  • 6 4x4x8 pressure treated lumber, each cut in half to 4' lengths
  • 6 2x4x8 pressure treated lumber
  • 18 2x8x8 pressure treated lumber
  • 1 4x8x3/4 sheet pressure treated plywood
  • 96 3.5" coated deck screws
  • ~100 2.5" coated deck screws
  • 12 60lbs. bags of concrete
  • 4 4'x8" tubular concrete post forms, cut into thirds (16" lengths)
  • 12 wooden stakes
  • Mason's line
  • 6' rebar
  • Landscape fabric
  • Landscape fabric stakes
Tools List:
  • Shovel
  • Post-hole digger
  • Plumb bob
  • Tape measure
  • 4' level
  • 1' level
  • 12" compound power miter saw (or 10" sliding compound miter saw)
  • Speed square
  • Miter saw protractor
  • Post level (optional)
  • Electric drill/driver
  • Saw capable of cutting 4x4 posts in place (Sawzall, chain saw, hand saw, big circular saw)
  • Handheld Saber/Jigsaw
  • Router
  • Roundover bit (1/4" or similar)
  • Laser level
  • Circular saw
Whew. That seems like a lot, but most people who would be undertaking such an endeavor probably have most of these tools already.

Now, here a few drawings explaining the basic design. First, a top view. I'm building a 12-sided polygon (dodecagon) around the trampoline. I've chosen 12-sided in this case because most larger, circular trampolines have 12 legs, and this lines up nicely. I've decided not to go circular like the previous owner did as I am not convinced anything other than corrugated steel can easily be formed into a circle and also hold up to the pressure of being a retaining wall. The 12-sided nature of the design also means the spans are slightly under 4' each (on a 14' diameter trampoline), so I can buy 8-ft lumber. 8-ft. lumber is easy to handle, and it wheels well on the cart in the home centers, fits nicely in the pickup bed, and can be loaded into the miter saw by one person without assistance. It's a very convenient size.

The angle between each post is 30 degrees, as there are 12 such angles in the 360 degree circle (360/12 = 30). We get to use something called "the law of cosines" to determine the straight-line distance from the center of each marker stake to the next, as labeled "C" in the above figure.

What this says is that for whatever radius you have chosen for the stakes, the straight-line distance from the center of one stake to the center of the next is 0.517638 times that radius. OK, so what do you do with that?

Well, for starters, you're going to want to sink a stake into the center of the hole. I used the 6' rebar for that.

Then, pick a radius that is large enough to be outside the hole. For instance, if you are putting in a 14' trampoline like I am, the radius of the trampoline is 7' (radius is half the diameter). I'm going to want to pound some stakes into the ground to mark these angles, so I'll add a foot to that to clear the lip of the hole. So I have an 8' radius for the marking stakes. Tie a piece of mason's line (mason's line is string that does not stretch or sag - available at your home center in the aisle they sell plumb bobs and chalk lines and the like) to the center stake and mark 8' from the center stake on it. Stretch this out to the ground past the hole and pound one of your 12 stakes into the ground at the 8' mark.

Now, rotate the mason's line until you are exactly 0.517638*8' (4.14ft = ~4' 1 2/3") from the center of the previous stake. Pound in the next stake. Go all the way around until you have all 12 stakes in the ground. If the distance from the last stake to the first one is much bigger or smaller than the distances between all the others, somewhere it is messed up. Go back and check if everything is uniform. Make adjustments as necessary, but don't go nuts on this. You can handle some non-uniformity. You just don't want it to look like you were drunk when you laid it out.

Now that you have 12 stakes in the ground, run a mason's line from the center stake to each of the 12 stakes high enough above ground so that they are more than 6" above the grade. This is so as to not interfere with the posts in a later step, as the posts will initially be too long and will be trimmed later. Also, try to make them all about level with one another (you can use a line level or laser level or just eyeball it- the exact measurement comes later). You'll end up with something that looks like this (though, for accuracy's sake, I actually tried to do this by measuring the angle between lines when I did it, and it didn't work. So these directions are the new, improved directions.):

Alternatively, you can cheat by using the frame from the trampoline and marking where each leg is. That's a whole lot easier.

Now, maybe it's time for me to explain exactly what you're trying to build here. The key to this design is that the walls are keystoned in place between the posts. That's a fancy way of saying that they are trapezoidal, and thus they cannot actually move forward once they're put in place without pushing the posts out. But the posts can't push out since that would push the next section of wall, and so on all the way around the dodecagon and back to the start. Thus, the design could be considered "self-supporting" in that any pressure from the earth serves only to tighten up the wall connections, not to loosen them.

Here's a side-view of the wall. I'm using a 2x4 plus three 2x8's to achieve the height I want. I could have used 3 2x10's, but my 12" miter saw won't cut a 2x10. If I had a slider, it would. But a 12" slider costs a fortune, and a 10" slider can't cut 4x4's.
Your next step is to set the posts. This is the biggest pain-in-the-behind step if you have clay soil like I do. It helped that it was over 100 degrees every day I worked on this.

In the previous step, you established a web of mason's lines radiating out from the center of the hole. Now, you're going to want to take a Sharpie pen (or something similar) and mark on the mason's line the distance from center you want the posts. I suggest that you place the inside edge of each post 1" farther than the radius of the trampoline. So, for example, if you have a 14' trampoline like mine, place the inside edge of the post at 7'1" from the center of the hole. Then start digging.

Use your plumb bob from the mark on the mason's line to make sure your hole is in the right place. Keep in mind you marked the front of the post, not the center, so the center of the hole should be half the width of a 4x4 (3.5"/2 = 1.75") farther back than the plumb bob. Dig until you're 16" or so below grade.

Now, drop a 16" long, 8" diameter post form into the hole, take a 4' 4x4 (which you made by cutting the 8' ones in half), and drop it in, too. I like to put a post level on mine, which is the red thing on the post two pictures up - a level that attaches to a post with an elastic strap and gives you plumb on both sides simultaneously. The post form will hold about 60 lbs of Quickcrete, which I dump in dry and then add water, stirring with a piece of rebar. You don't have to worry about getting each post at exactly the right depth, as we're only using 42" of the 48" post (the rest to be trimmed to fit after the wall is in). You should put the "factory" end of the post down, as that end is soaked in the pressure treatment, whereas your fresh-cut end won't fare as well in the ground without you coating it with something. It'll be OK up in the air, though.

Once you have all the posts in and the concrete is set (overnight if you didn't buy the quick-dry), it's time to get serious about the level. I rented a laser level for this step. $10/hr. You could also take your 4' level and mark level on each post all the way around the dodecagon. But I wanted to play with a laser level. It doesn't matter exactly what height you mark, just that you mark the same height on all the 12 posts.

Now, figure out the height you want the wall, and mark height of the top of the bottom board on each post. Do this by measuring down from the laser-level line a fixed distance on all posts, and use your speed square to make sure the measurement is transferred to both sides of the post without wandering. You should expect that your concrete footings are not all at exactly the same height, so you should start out with whichever post has the highest concrete, as measured by the distance down from your level line. You can't put the bottom slat of the wall any lower than the highest concrete footing unless you plan to do some notch cutting in the slats to clear the concrete.

This next part requires a modicum of precision. Get yourself a miter-saw protractor like this one:

You're going to be using this to mark the angle between the wall and the post. You didn't get every post in at exactly the same angle, so going forward, every cut is custom-fit.

Lay your 4' level (or a 4' straight edge) across the top of two adjacent posts in line with where you want the wall. Mark the top of the posts with pencil along the side of the level, as you'll be coming back and forth on this a couple times. Use your miter saw protractor to mark the angle between the left post and the level.

Then, go to your miter saw and duplicate the angle. Dear God, please unplug the saw before you do this, as it involves laying the protractor along side the saw blade and adjusting the tilt until it matches the protractor. Only a moron touches the blade of his miter saw with it plugged in. Don't be a moron. Now, write down the angle from the saw indicator once it is dialed in. You have 4 cuts to make at this angle, so you'll have to return to it three more times. Cut the end of the 2x4 to this angle.

Go back to the posts and use the protractor to measure the angle on the right post to the level, placed in the same place it was before as marked by the pencil lines. Also, hold the freshly cut 2x4 in place and mark the length with a pencil, transferring the markings to the face of the 2x4 with the speed square so you can see it when you cut.

Now, before you make a cut, measure the distance between the fronts at the tops of the posts, and then measure the distance between the fronts at about the center of the height at which you will place the wall slat. Are the tops closer together than the bottoms? If so, the distance you just marked off on the 2x4 is too short, and you should add to it the difference between your longer measurement and the measurement at the top of the posts. Are the bottoms closer together? Again, adjust the marked line by the difference, though it's easier to make a board shorter if you cut it too long than it is to make it longer if you cut it too short.

Now, transfer the angle for the right post from the protractor to the miter saw (unplug! first!) and write it down, too. Cut the other end of the 2x4 to length. I like to cut a little long at first and then trim to fit.

You may have to go back and forth a few times to get each board to fit just right. It's time consuming, but it'll go faster and faster as you progress.

Now, if the post is severely out of plumb, you may want to use the protractor to cut a compound miter to match the tilt of the post. I was never off by more than 1 degree, but 1 degree seemed to call for a compound miter.

Once you get the board to fit, put it in place with its top edge on the height line you marked earlier for the bottom board. Before you screw it in, check its level with the shorter 1' level (the 4' level won't fit in the span). Then, "toenail" the sides in from the top with 3.5" deck screws (shown in the drawing above a bit). These screws are not structural, as the wall is self-supporting once fully constructed, but they are needed to hold everything in place while building. Countersink the screws such that they don't stick above the top of the board and interfere with the next board.

Now, do the same for the 2x8's for the next 3 levels between these posts. Use the miter saw angles you wrote down for the first board. Stack them up snug to the board below. You don't have to measure for level as there's nothing you can really do about it if the boards aren't straight unless you want to send everything through a jointer.

Repeat 11 more times.

One thing I forgot to mention is that pressure-treated lumber is toxic when you cut it. Wear a respirator.

This next photo is of me driving home the very last screw of the wall. Note how the 4x4 posts are all different heights. These are cut to length after you build the wall, cuz if you try to sink posts into concrete at exactly, exactly the right height, you're asking for trouble.

Here, I have sawed each post off flush with the wall. I used a Sawzall for this. You could use a chain saw if you feel like sanding afterwards, or you could use a circular saw and make a cut from two sides (as it won't cut 3.5" deep). Or, you can cut by hand. I did that once. Forget about it.

Here's a top-view of one of the posts showing how the wall mates to it. That small gap on top will close when some ground pressure is applied. Ground is on the right and hole on the left in this picture. The deck screws were self-drilling, and they countersunk with just the drill screwdriver. I didn't predrill or use a countersink bit.

The next step is to set in the trampoline frame. My trampoline is 3' tall, and I'm setting it with the top about 2" above the wall. This way, the angle is such that no one falls onto the wall if they fall off the trampoline. Now, for those of you paying attention, the wall is 26" high, and I'm set 2" above that for a total of 28" above grade. But the trampoline frame is 36" high. That means I am sinking the legs 8" into the slope that leads from the bottom of the wall to the lower center of the hole. [Note: I'll add a drawing here soon.]

Sinking the posts below grade gives at least one advantage - if for some reason you experience some surface erosion on the slope, this won't undermine the footing or level of the trampoline. You need 8" of erosion before you need to worry, and that much erosion simply cannot happen unless you dig the center of the hole many feet deeper than the wall. Which you won't do because it's both a massive amount of work and completely pointless.

I used my 4' level to get the trampoline frame leveled out. You could also use the top of the retaining wall, assuming it came out. I double-checked my level vs. the wall.

Almost done. I have the landscape fabric down to prevent weed growth, and I have excavated 16" around the wall about 4" deep to fill with "playground mulch" AKA "tanbark". I've got the trampoline frame about 2" higher than the wall so that any tumbling off misses the wall and lands in the mulch.

This post shows what I did with the plywood, jigsaw, and router. I wanted to draw some diagrams and some more detailed instructions before placing it all here, but I have not yet had the time. If you have questions, leave a comment and I'll respond.

Happy Birthday, HannahC

HannahC turned 7 today, so we had a fun-filled day that went fairly well, all things considered.

HannahC had just a couple requests for her birthday. She wanted to go fishing, eat lunch at Red Robin, have Alaskan king crab legs for dinner, and not have me work on the inground trampoline project at all. We managed to satisfy all these requirements. Even though with just one more day of work, the trampoline will be done.

After a leisurely morning of opening presents and having chocolate birthday cake for breakfast (The Mrs. is very obviously compensating for something on most holidays), we managed to slag our butts out to the usual fishing hole by about 10:15. HannahC insisted on the usual place, as she had caught a couple fish there before and wanted to repeat the adventure.

We got our usual spot and had our usual conflicts - where The Childrens start fighting with one another before I've even managed to get all the rods assembled. MaxieC was in a bit of a mood, and The Mrs. volunteered to play with him instead of fishing. What a trooper. Plus, this way, I couldn't make fun of her for not catching anything ever despite all her talk of fishing prowess and how fishing with something other than a string tied on a stick is almost cheating it's sooo easy and all those fictions from her childhood fishing on Grand Island with her grandfather.

So HannahC and I fished. We fished and fished and fished. Well, mostly I helped HannahC untangle her line from the end of her pole. But we got some good fishing time in there. Catching was in short supply. We could see the bluegills swimming around in the water, but for the first time, we also saw little minnow-like fish swimming around. Now, perhaps the fish have spawned, and these are baby fish. Or perhaps someone has lost all their bait fish. Dunno. We had a few worms nibbled off the hooks, but no catches.

Then, near the end of our time, on a lark I decided to fish one of the ponds I had not fished before, Turtle Pond. It's right next to the two we normally fish, but it's a bit smaller. It also has remarkably clear water such that you can see that there aren't any fish in there at all. But I gave it a mighty heave and cast way out from shore into the murky depths. Almost immediately, I got a bite, but it got away. However, now I was on to something. I kept casting out there, and nearly every single time I got a bite. I managed to hook four bluegills in about 10 minutes, but only landed three of them as one wriggled away just as I was pulling it from the water. HannahC joined me, and she managed to feed a bunch of bluegills her worm (we saw them pursuing it), but didn't hook any.

She did catch a tree about 15 feet up. I got it free, though. Didn't even lose the worm. It was a miracle.

I might add that I used the same worm for all 4 of the fish I hooked, plus a couple that got away. It was a mini-nightcrawler. It just kept getting smaller and smaller and smaller. HannahC had a great time, as I let her release all the fish I caught back into the pond. She would hold them carefully as I removed the hook, then place them gently into the pond, and they'd dart off. And she'd talk to them and say soothing things like, "You might die, idiot," and, "Maybe if you weren't such a stupid fish you wouldn't have a hook in your mouth."

One of those bluegills actually looked big enough to eat. Like, maybe, you'd eat a single fish stick. The bag limit is 20, and you'd need all 20.

We also saw Ratatouille today. It was quite good. I dunno if it had quite the Wow! factor of some other Pixar films, but the whole fambly certainly enjoyed it.

This is now the third weekend in a row that I have not mowed my whole lawn. I mowed nothing this week. Last week, I got the front and 3/4 of the back. I have sections that have gone to seed already. The HOA would probably get on my back if I didn't have all these de/construction projects going on that make the back yard look so much worse than the lawn looks.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Pokey Pokey Pokey

First, I'd like to welcome Peanut to the list of blogreaders. He and I used to work together back in Santa Clarabelle, but I flew the coop leaving him in the capable hands of StinkyJ. I had a little chat with Peanut today, and I see he's been catching up through the archives all evening.

Tonight, The Mrs. was feeling a little under the weather for no apparent reason, so after dinner I took The Childrens outside to "play." Now, I can't hardly set foot in the back yard these days without seeing some man work that needs to get done. Tonight, I decided to continue demolition on the decommissioned pond that we plan to turn into a rock garden. I decided it would be nice to bust up the thin concrete layer the installer poured over the liner so that I could remove the liner and thus have decent drainage for the rock garden.

Cuz, as I understand it, you actually grow plants in addition to rocks in a rock garden. I can hardly wait.

So my deck installer guys had noted how I needed back fill for the trampoline retaining wall, and they had kindly helped me out by backfilling a good deal of it with broken-up mortar and concrete block from the built-in grill they removed. I figured since tomorrow I was planning to "finish" the trampoline project, it'd be a great time to get that concrete out of the pond to use as some more fill.

I got out the little hand sledge hammer and started busting up the concrete, which is only about a half-inch thick and set on a bed of rubber and felt, so it busts up pretty easily. HannahC decided to help, so her job was to peel off the concrete from the pond liner after I smashed the living hell out of it. MaxieC then needed a job, so he got HannahC's mini-wheelbarrow and loaded up the broken pieces as HannahC freed them then dumped them around the retaining wall.

We had a regular little production line going.

Then, eventually, The Childrens got tired of actual work and went to run around like crazy idiots for a while, as childrens are wont to do. I decided that pulling off the little pieces of concrete with my fingers was a pain, so I decided on a new plan.

Before I tell you the plan, I want to share a couple of photos I took today before I forget. Here in this first photo is my favorite set of work boots. They are Timberland Pro Series, waterproof, and steel toed. The toes meet the ANSI Z41 PT99 spec (now known as ASTM F 2413-05) and are rated to withstand a 75 lbs. impact and a continuous crush load of 2500 lbs. In edition, they have the "EH" designation, which means they can withstand the application of 14,400 volts at 60hz for one minute without leakage. They're about four years old and a bit scuffed and worn, but otherwise fully functional.

Here is this next photo is a pair of Teva sandals. I got these guys for a trip to Hawaii also about 4 years ago. The little Velcro straps on the back for tightening the heel promptly tore off because, after all, Teva's are really overpriced pansy crap. But, you know, if you tighten down the ankle strap enough, you can keep them on your foot despite a lack of heel pressure. Kinda like clogs, I guess. They're not particularly comfortable, but they're good for kicking around in on a hot summer day when you don't feel like wearing socks.

This here is a Roughneck 36" wrecking bar. It turns out that if you lay the curved, claw end down on the pond liner and pull towards you, it'll go right under the concrete skim coat and tear the stuff up in big hunks. Much bigger hunks than you would be able to tear off using just your fingers. But you've gotta pull really hard to slam it into the concrete edge or it won't go under.

Of course, which shoes do you think I was wearing when I came up with this brilliant plan?

Monday, July 02, 2007

What next? Locusts?

Last night, I got up at about 1:30 and noticed there was no water. Now, this is oddly not unusual at night, as the subdivision has enough water pressure to run the sprinklers at night, but no so much as to always be able to get water up to the second story at the same time. Especially if all the neighbors are running their sprinklers. This is one of the problems associated with living in the fancy subdivision that is on top of the hill looking down on everyone else as opposed to being down low with the riff raff. The water tower isn't a whole heck of a lot higher than my house.

But this morning I got up, and when I turned on the faucet, I heard a sucking sound. Well, this is really the opposite of what one wants to hear when one turns on the water first thing in the morning. Especially since the sprinklers are done running hours earlier, thanks to my fancy Excel spreadsheet.

Being naturally curious, I decided to check the basement for pods. Or broken pipes. I headed immediately to the utility room into which the main supply is routed, replete with water meter. It was dry, but I heard the sound of rushing water. Oddly, rushing into the pipe that feeds the sprinklers. I flip the shutoff, and the sound abates. Well, at least the basement isn't flooded.

Once again, curiosity gets the best of me. I head outside despite being dressed in nothing but sweat-shorts and a bathrobe. I head right to the anti-siphon valve, which is the first thing when the supply pipe exits the house. I need look no further. The wall of the house around it is soaked. There is a sopping-wet earth all around and a fairly impressive puddle where the landscape rocks meet the grass.

I had The Mrs. flip the supply on and then off again. Water gushed forth from the anti-siphon. But not to worry, for I have a home warranty!

I went to file a ticket on the web, and was reminded how, specifically excluded from the warranty contract are (a) sprinkler systems, and (b) any plumbing not within the physical confines of the house. So this was doubly not-covered.

Happily, if there is anything happily about this story, one of the two-man crew I hired to redo the deck is a "master plumber", and they happen to be arriving tomorrow to begin the deck work. I call up his cell, and he will happily gladly fix it for me first thing tomorrow so that my lawn doesn't die.

The other happy thing is that we have now apparently found the source of the horrible knocking that started happening about 3am semi-nightly that I knew was related to the sprinklers. When The Mrs. cycled the shutoff, the anti-siphon made horrible knocking sounds for a moment that were exactly the same as what we've been hearing.

Now, irony of ironies, the thing flooded the inground trampoline pit. It made a big mess out of half of it, turning all the loose dirt I had piled up on that side to backfill behind the walls into a giant mud pit. I discovered that this evening when I went out there to shovel.

I never should have bought this house.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Another Board in The Wall

[Hey folks, if you're looking for more detail on the inground trampoline project, be sure not to miss the top-level post on it here. It includes a lot of the same pictures, but with some more detailed instructions.]

Saturday morning, I got up bright and early and put in the remaining four retaining wall posts for our inground trampoline project. Then I looked at it all with a great deal of trepidation, wondering exactly how far off you could be if you leveled a web of 6 16 foot mason's lines using nothing but a line level. I never really have good luck with this kind of thing. And I noted how mason's line is not supposed to stretch, yet it sure stretched when the sprinklers hit is.

OK, so I bailed on the mason's line spider and went to the rental place to pick up a laser level. They rent for only $10/hr, but there is an unfortunate 4 hour minimum. I only needed it for about a half hour. I got a self-leveling model with a tripod and a laser receiver. It's a good thing it came with the receiver, as I sure could not see the laser at all in the morning sun.

Then I took a "quick" trip to Lowe's to pick up 18 pressure-treated 2x8x8's and 6 2x4x8's. I spent the rest of the day working my way through the process of installing the wall, with each section going a little faster. I got worn out after just 4 of the 12 sections, plus one board.

Here, it is now late Sunday. I've been working all day, and I've made two trips to Lowe's already. The first trip was for a new saw blade for my compound miter saw. It started to drag quite a bit about noon, and dull saw blades are just asking for an injury. The Mrs. volunteered to go buy me a new one so I could keep working, but the local Ace Hardware only had an 80-tooth blade used for interior trim work. I needed a bad-ass blade for cutting green pressure-treated lumber. The Mrs. stopped back home on the way to Lowe's, and she invited me for the ride. Man, did I need a break. It was right around 100 degrees at the time.

The second trip to Lowe's, in case you're keeping count, was for another 2x4x8. One of them I cut spot on as measured at the top of the posts, except the posts were crooked, and when I got it to the bottom, it was a half-inch short. This also happened to be the shortest span between posts of all of them (my tangled web of 30 degree lines wasn't always exactly 30 degrees). I was quite cavalier in buying lumber - only buying exactly what was necessary with no overage for error - and thus had to make another trip.

A grand innovation was to move the pop-up gazebo over the miter saw. The Childrens had this out all week, but they weren't really using it. BTW, that deck gets ripped out on Tuesday.

Lookit me! I can carry lumber!

I dunno what this thing is called. Homedepot.com has something they call a "miter saw protractor," but it's hella more complicated. However, it is something I used to measure angles for my miter saw, so it's probably a miter saw protractor. The interesting thing is that I have owned this little gizmodo for probably 4 years now and never used it. I had thought I was going to need it, but then I never did. Until now.

You can see me here suffering in the 100+ degree heat with my personal protection equipment on. That'd be an air mask (pressure-treated lumber sawdust is not to be inhaled), ear plugs, and polycarbonate safety glasses. I'm measuring up one of the last of the wall plates.

MaxieC didn't want Mommy to take his picture, it seems.

And here I am driving the last screw. I actually had to remove the last screw and then re-drive it for this picture, cuz MaxieC hurt his finger on the fence, and The Mrs. was inside with bandaid kit attending to the horrific injury when I actually finished. I'm still not used to Li-ion battery packs on the drill. The old Ni-Cad drill used to go slower and slower and slower, and then you'd change the battery. This one drives one screw a little more slowly than you think it should, then the next screw it goes about 4 twists and stops. Just flat-out dead stops. The drill is completely dead. Its odd.

And now it's time for the heavy artillery.

And there it is. All the 4x4 posts trimmed to height with the Sawzall.

We got some neighbors to come help us drop the trampoline frame in. It fits. Next step is to level it off, which will require a bit of excavating.