Friday, December 25, 2015

Southern Ingenuity - The Table Saw

As any regular reader knows, I've been repairing a major problem on my house.  It has taken a long time because I only get about a day and a half to work on it every weekend, and some times even less than that.  I'm getting down to the end (or at least I hope I am) and wouldn't you know it - I came up short on tools.

Now, follow along here.  I am trimming the room and needed a particular sized piece of wood in a 12 foot length.  I go to the big hardware store to get some and it turns out that they don't carry what I need in 12 foot length.  It's a special order.  (Read: $$$!!)  So I went on home and started to think.  What I realized rather quickly is that with a table saw, I could buy a wider piece and cut it in half myself. But as I've already pointed out, I have no table saw.  More thought. 

Aha, says I!  (Yes, I really said "Aha!" out loud.) I had seen an article on some woodworking or DIY website where some clever tool man had turned a rotary saw into a table saw.  Since I just happened to have an extra rotary saw, this seemed doable.  I removed the switch and wired it to be 'always on' and then cut some plywood I had laying about.  Add some scrap 2x4s and I had myself a genuine hand made do-it-yerself-and-get-r-done Table Saw.  (Yes, capital letters, Bubba, because I said so.) 

It probably will take the addition of a set of legs to do it up right, but it's done and if it hadn't rained that afternoon, I'd have been out there cutting lumber and taking names!  

The first good weekend in January, Look Out!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Holiday Must-See in the South

Southern Christmas Vacations: Atlanta Pink Pig Rides

It's the holidays and although I'm pretty sure you already have plans for the time off, I'd like to take a minute to tell you about some great things to do in the South at this time of year.

The first is Atlanta, Georgia, where Macy's Department store has this great tradition of a pink train with the engine a Pink Pig.   Located in Lenox Square in Buckhead, children have been riding Priscilla, the bubblegum-colored train in the shape of a pig, continuously for 56 years. The 2009 version moved through a life-size storybook showing the ride’s history. This rite of passage costs $3 a trip; hours and printable two-for-one discount coupons at

Next stop, Louisville, Kentucky where the Actor's Theater, 316 West Main Street has been producing Charle's Dicken's 'A Christman Carol' for 34 years.  The script is updated and the production also boasts 16 added songs, dancing and actors who play instruments.  December 8-27; from $27, kids ages 5-14 pay half-price December 8-16.
Next we jump down to Orlando, and yeah, Walt Disney World, where every year is the annual Candlelight Processional at EpcotAlong with a breathtaking mass choir and 50-piece orchestra there are celebrith narrators, a different one each night.  Locals come year after year along with out-of-towners. Requires park admission; shows at 5:00, 6:45, and 8:15 p.m.

So start making those plans for next year and make it a Holiday to remember, here in the South.  

Friday, December 11, 2015

Carvana - Rhymes with Nirvana

The South is innovative. I've learned this after many years here in the mid-south.  But when something this innovative comes to town, you just have to see it for yourself.  Nashville has become home to the first vending machine of its kind. Once before we got vending machines that dispensed live bait. Now, it's a monster building sized vending machine that dispenses cars.  Yes, that's right, brand new automobiles.

Carvana, a company out of Atlanta has been selling cars with a door to door delivery for some time. You've no doubt seen their television spots with their  flat bed trucks delivering cars of all types to homeowners. Now, with the advent of the Car Vending machine, they add a new dimension to their selling. 

Now, don't go thinking you can walk up to the big thing and start inputting your spare change.  Carvana's machine is for pickup of post purchases. What that means is that you buy the car online, and then the car is shipped to the Vending Machine building.  You arrive and after some minor paperwork, they present you with a big token, which you insert into the machine. The car arrives, you take possession, and drive away!  It's the stuff of marketing dreams.

I bought a  new car in 2013 and though the general idea of getting the car delivered from a George Jetson type space-age vending machine may seem exciting, I would think I'd miss the human interaction.  There is the give and take, walking around the show room and the test drive not to mention the free coffee and/or snacks. When you add in robots, things change. You cannot haggle with a robot.  Believe me, I've tried. 

So, perhaps the next time I'm in the mood for a new car, I may just use the Carvana machine.  
It's local here in the South, after all.  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Tale of the Water Heater

When it comes to being a true Southerner (with the requisite capital S) it's been my experience that Southerners are also good with tools.  Though I feel I am good with tools, there is a lot to be said for true experience (or maybe true Southern Experience.)

Case in point, the Water Heater (see above.) This last week, I had taken a couple of days off to get caught up on the house rebuild and had, indeed, made significant inroads on tile and grout when the lovely Mrs. calmly pointed out that there was a minor leak in the water heater. Initial investigation showed me a very minor leak in what appeared to be the cold water inlet and I felt I could repair said leak in short order.  Quite typical of a southern home owner's repair.  However, experience should have taught me otherwise.  

After a short trip to the big hardware store, I spent a bit too long gathering my tools (where do they go when they're not in use?  Who moves these things when I'm not looking?) and was ready to begin at 9:00 AM.  Immediately, I discovered that the leak was not coming from the inlet, but from the "sacrificial anode" (which protects the water heater from corrosion.  Next stop: Irony.)  Back out to the shed to get a socket wrench and then back out to the shed again when I discovered that the socket I brought in was too small.  With the right size socket, try as I might, the anode won't budge.  So, back out to the shed where I get my impact wrench.  Correct socket + Impact Wrench = still cannot remove the anode as it is corroded and rusted tight.  (Welcome to Irony, end of the line.) 

At this point, the only thing left to do is replace the water heater. So, I set the old water heater to drain and headed to the  big hardware store for visit #2.  They are quick to get the water heater for me and in no time I'm back at the house, water heater brought in, unpacked, down the steps, tight turn into the laundry room and I'm ready to put it in place.  Wait.  It's too big.  For some strange reason, it's four inches wider than the old one (supposedly of the same model.) So I have to now pack the dang thing up, and haul it back up the steps, through the house out to the car, load it and head to the big hardware store and tell the guy I got the wrong one (and put up with their laughter.) 

For future reference, I did learn that these days, water heaters are now differently configured and have more insulation and ceramic linings and we can all blame the EPA and the government.  

The return is no problem and they even have a narrower water heater just for me, but as fate would have it, they are out of stock.  (Yes, I checked the other hardware store right across the street and they didn't have it either.)  So I make the trek to the big hardware store a few miles away where they have one of the size I need.  (Is this visit #3?  I'm going to call it - yes.) 

Home again, home again, jiggidy jig, in the house, unpack, down the steps, into the laundry room and set it in place.  Only now-  (Stay with me buckaroos!) - the new water heater is too TALL.  This means that the wires AND water connectors are too short.  BACK to the  big hardware store (yes, that's right, visit #4) to get a junction box (you can see it attached like a carbuncle on top of the water heater) and a longer connector for the inlet.  More work with the *#$%* Water Heater and finally, FINALLY, it's done.  

Finishing time 6:00 PM  Six frakking o'clock, Bubba!  Experience is  a great teacher and I now know that you measure EVERYTHING. and second guess nothing. (You should also put away your tools where you can find them again, but I'm not going to go into that today.)

Lastly, for the record: the water is nice and hot.