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This is normally a comic-book related site.  Not right now, though.

I decided to build a house.  That doesn’t mean I’m shopping around for real estate.  I’m going to design, contract, and build a house all on my own.  This means I have to study building codes and learn about permits and do a lot of research on furnace efficiency and r-value and carpet fiber and refrigerators and wind direction and toilet height and backsplashes… I simply won’t have time for Tiny Life any time soon.

So, probably through 2015, the majority of these posts will be about building a house.  And possibly about living with the In-Laws while the house is built.

Why I Hate Home Depot: The Movie

I know I’ve said that Home Depot is the worst (the staples aren’t by the staple guns, they’re next to carpet), but sometimes I go there simply because it’s closest.  Today I wanted to check out a vent cover:

New Garage

I spent a good two years designing and building my house.  The only thing I thought of but couldn’t manage to put in was a secret passage.  I wanted kitchen cabinetry that goes all the way to the ceiling so I didn’t have to deal with dusting those few inches everyone seems to have.  I wanted hard flooring on the main level so I didn’t have to deal with mud on the carpet.  I wanted overhead lights in the living room so I don’t have to fumble around looking for a lamp.  I wanted ceiling fans in every room.  I wanted an entryway so I didn’t have to walk directly into the living room when I come home from work.  I wanted different climate-control zones so I’m not paying for heat in an empty room.  I even thought of stupid things like a tiny sink in the downstairs bathroom (it will only be used for post-pooping hand-washing), a light-up doorbell button, and sound-deadening channels between the upstairs and main floor.  If you point at any item in the house – any wall, handle, appliance, light, window, floor, or fixture – I have a story about the design.

I did not, however, have anything to say about the garage.  I never thought about it.  It was a car-hole.

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I added insulation because the kids’ bedrooms are above. It also helps to muffle the sobs.

Much like cable (or a one-night stand or an opinion on merkins), I’ve never had a garage in my adult life.  So once we were moved in for a while, and once I started to go into the garage for various tasks (finishing closets, hiding things from The Wife, etc.), I started to get ideas about what should go where.

Here it is now:

I covered the walls in something as cheap as drywall without the hassle of mudding, nail pops, and hernias: plywood.  I wanted to be able to hang anything anywhere, but I didn’t want 4’x8′ sheets of wood all over the place.  So I spent a few hours cutting the sheets into five-inch-ish chunks and staining them with random colors.  Once that was done, I could put everything exactly where it should go.

I also had a few ideas about how to save space:

IMG_1824I hung the the recycling bins on the wall with a variation of a wood cleat.

They used to sit on top of the trash can, which means we had to move the bins every time we wanted to throw something away.  Having two kids- Lemon and The Professor – with a My Little Pony addiction and an enabling wife means that we throw away a LOT of packaging.  I felt guilty about using up that much plastic (you know, with the human population probably dying from it), so I bought another bin, which meant that after the first one was full, I had to sit that one beside the trash can and put the empty one on top of the trash can and then when that one got full… So I stacked them on the wall.

IMG_1823Right beside the entry door, I added a bunch of coat hooks and baskets for gloves and hats and such.  I forgot how much snow gets caked into coats and snowpants (and hair and underwear and ear canals) when kids are sledding.  This means that when they hang up everything in the entryway, water gets everywhere.

Also, did you know that little girls have at least five choices for every item of clothing?  This will save a little bit of space in the area where everyone hangs up their coats.

Also notice the cantilever down at the bottom.  It’s a good place to store hoses and sidewalk salt.

IMG_1819Bikes take up a LOT of room.  Since I live in a place now where the roads are paved, The Wife and I will often go for bike rides and leave the kids to knife-fight for our love.  But where do you keep something three-foot tall, five-foot wide and frequently used (there’s a joke somewhere in  here about a short, fat prostitute)?  Answer: in the sky.

I don’t have rafters in my garage, since there is house up there, and the ceiling is almost ten feet up, so just hanging the bikes by a hook isn’t the best option.  Instead, I have a pulley system.

IMG_1820Right below those pulleys, you might notice matching yard equipment.  I have a chainsaw, leaf blower, weed whacker, and lawn mower – all battery-powered, all with the same battery.  I’ve said a million times that we’re living in this weird in-between era where technology is magical but nothing is perfected.  I think we’re finally getting to a point in batteries where it’s worth it.  Each of these things lasts about an hour with continuous use.  If I need it for longer, I can just go and change the battery.  I don’t need separate gas cans for unleaded gas and 40:1 mixture and 50:1 mixture and regular oil and bar oil, extra spark plugs, cleaners, cases, or winterizers.  I put the battery in, push the “on” button and do what I do (now that I say it out loud, I sound like this guy).

IMG_1822I used to have about 35 different containers for various nuts, bolts, screws, nails, anchors, etc. The roofers left a 30 lb box of roofing nails.  The deck guys left a 5 lb box of deck screws.  I had packages from extra screws that came with the garden shed I built with my dad in 2005.  I could keep all these things and keep them in coffee cans and baby formula containers (by the way, why are two of the most abundant things on the planet shipped in indestructible packages while windows are just shrink-wrapped?) or I could get rid of what I won’t use and keep a little of everything.  So I bought this little organizer, filled it with a few nuts, bolts, screws, nails, anchors, etc., and donated the rest to Habitat for Humanity.  Because I’m a humanitarian.  I also have a tiny bluetooth speaker instead of an old radio that everyone seems to put in their garage.

IMG_1821Everyone also seems to put old road signs, license plates, and semi-racist and -sexist decorations in their garage.  In lieu of that (and because that’s how I’ve decorated my house), I’ve decided to take the blueprints for the house, frame them, and hang them in the garage.

Don’t worry, I took the frames from an old X-Files move poster.

“Hardwired to Self-Destruct” Review

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Who told James Hetfield he can sing?

The Bean Bar

beanbar-1I was in Detroit recently. I had to walk from the Holiday Inn to Cobo (a description of the hotel: One elevator smelled like fish; the other contained a broken Miller High Life bottle.  The swimming pool looked like several bathtubs welded together.  When I looked out the window, I saw two abandoned 10-story buildings. There was a warning by the TV that said “Do not answer the door, even if they claim to be from housekeeping.  Call the front desk immediately”).  Since I’ve recently taken up coffee-drinking, I thought this would be a good opportunity to expand my horizons beyond the local gas station’s selection of Chock Full O Nuts brand java.

Right across the street, on the ground floor of the Westin, was WBC Coffee.  Once I managed to cross the street (because of the non-existent traffic), I noticed that there is not a front door.  So I walked toward Cobo.

Right across the street from Cobo was The Bean Bar.  There was no line, no one was sitting at a table.  The only person in there was the older woman at the register.  Here was my conversation:

Clerk: Can I help you?

Me: Yeah.  Can I get a large hot coffee?

Clerk: Did you say large “hot” coffee?

Me, confused: “Yes?”

Clerk, visibly upset: “OK.  Just checking.”  She then tried three different carafes and they were all empty.  So she started making a new pot.

Since I like milk in my coffee, I said, “Since we’re waiting, can you put like an inch of milk in the bottom of the cup?”

Clerk, visibly upset: “Yep.”  She then poured the equivalent of a wet sneeze into the bottom of the cup.  Then, trying to fill the silence of waiting for a brew, she said, “You know, my father wouldn’t take a cup of coffee unless it was stirred with Pet Milk.”

Me, obviously confused: “Pet milk”?

Clerk, obviously confused at my obvious confusion: Yeah.  Pet Milk.

Me: Like milk from a dog?!

Clerk, audibly upset: Did you grow up in Michigan!?

Me: Yeah, up by Flint.

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This is Pet Milk, by the way

Clerk: “It doesn’t matter – Flint, U.P. – you should know about Pet Milk!”

There was a dull silence.  I asked for a little more milk.

It was the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had.

 

Indoctrination of Little Girls

Two years ago, my kids discovered Play-Doh.  They got Play-Doh everything.  Play-Doh kitchen set, Play-Doh haircutting studio, they even got the Play-Doh cake decorator.  It turns out one of the Play-Doh accessories looks just like wang.

We all thought it was funny.  Ha ha, Hasbro messed up.  This’ll be a good story when they’re a little older.

This year they’re into My Little Pony.  Also by Hasbro.  Here’s an accessory to one of the princess playsets:

What’re you trying to do to my kids, Hasbro?

Fake

I don’t trust anything that says “It’s just like the real thing!”  Everything from Hydrox cookies to sex dolls – if it was as good as the real thing, the real thing wouldn’t exist.

I’m not saying there’s not a place for “fat free” or “Mike’s Hard fill-in-the-blank”.  I like Reduced Fat Cheeze-Its better than original (even though they both attack my bowels like Homer eating an orange); I like Caffeine-Free Mountain Dew better than the original (even though they both taste like a urinal cake dipped in cat medicine).  It’ s just that you shouldn’t buy something that completely replaces a vice without thinking there won’t be some sort of consequence.

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Mike’s Hard Enfamil: “We’re now openly encouraging under-age drinking”

My entire life, my mom has consumed a liter of soda per day.  As she’s aged, she’s switched over to Diet Pepsi because it’s diet; it’s better for you (even though study after study says otherwise).  When they say, “It’s just like the real thing!”, we think they mean “it tastes so similar to the thing you love but is probably killing you, won’t be able to tell the difference!”  What they really mean is “our product is chemically similar on our arbitrary sweetness scale.  Our beta-testing shows that your body will react in the same exact way to this completely synthetic substitute; therefore the lawyers tell us that we can legally say ‘It’s just like the real thing!’ even though we’re not quite sure exactly when we started playing God.”

Case in point; I was getting a cup of coffee when I noticed this:

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They have a specific spot for each of the “creamers”.  There is no cream in these; they are made from water, sugar, and vegetable oil.  Normally when I think “This coffee is a little strong” I also think “I should add oil”.

They have a spot for the “half and half”.  From their website: “creamers do not contain lactose. However, they do contain sodium caseinate, a milk derivative”.  Because when I think my coffee needs a splash of milk, “legally milk” will do just fine.

But they have no idea what to call the fake sugar.  Sometimes it’s Splenda.  Sometimes it’s Nutrisweet.  Sometimes it’s Aspartame, or AminoSweet, or Equal, or NatraTaste, or TwinSweet, or Cyclamate, or Sucaryl, or Erythritol, Zerose, Zsweet, Glycerol, ClearCut, Isomalt, Decomalt, DiabetiSweet, Lactitol, MaltiSweet, SweetPearl, Mannitol, Neotame, Dextrose, Saccharin, Necta Sweet, Sweet N Low, Sweet Twin, Sorbitol, Sucralose, Natrulose, Smart Sweet, Xylipure, Xylosweet… so they named it “Pink” and “Yellow.”  Because when I think that my brew is a little bitter, I think “two packets of yellow should do the trick.”

Time to Reexamine

Because of my family history, I do my best to avoid certain groups of people.

Some people would say it’s a good rule to avoid felons, but I’ve met some people who’ve been to jail, got their life straightened out, and now live pretty good lives (they still have self-destructive traits like leaving porn on their computer screens, but they try to keep it under control).  We all did stupid stuff when we were younger; we all have that one story that ends with “How are we still alive?”

So, instead of lumping groups of people together – and then consequently avoiding them – for what they’ve done, I’m lumping them together for what they do.

If you do anything on this list, I think it might be time to reassess your life.  Something is broken and you should fix it.

  • If you prepare to watch TV shows more than you prepare for a job
  • If your gas station attendant knows about your health
  • If you regularly drink out of a 2-liter bottle
  • If loud noises are amusing in and of themselves
  • If you have more than 150 college credits but no degree
  • If you have serious discussions about Wrestlemania
  • If you’re between the ages of 25 and 65 and work anyplace with an “apostrophe s” in the title
  • If playing the lottery is a legitimate investment
  • If anything in your house costs more than your house
  • If you get mad at imaginary characters
  • If you do things, not because they’re your responsibility, but because you want to avoid getting in trouble

I’m not saying any of these activities in-and-of themselves makes you a bad person.  It’s just that I don’t know of too many people with a retirement account that share these traits.