Troy's Blog

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I'm just a typical Dad. I have a good wife of 20+ years and 2 good kids. All 3, at times, contribute to my hair graying or falling out.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mistaken Identity

I was on my way back to Fargo the other day and stopped in Jamestown shortly after noon for a quick lunch. We don't have many Hardee's in Fargo so thought I'd try that for a change. As I approached the counter to order, a man in his 50's to early 60's greeted me with "HOOOO, HOOOO, HOOOO for here or to GOOOO". Very clever, I thought. There is someone who is truly in the Christmas spirit (Yes, Christmas, not "Holiday" if you're offended, too bad, it's my blog). His joyful and uninhibited tone seemed contagious. His red and green Christmas tie and Santa hat brought it all together. This was the perfect person to greet hungry customers. What a pleasant change from some of the rush and grumblings about the season.

"Your order is #52" he said and he proudly handed me one of the little red plastic number tents.

"OK", I thought to myself. "I haven't ordered yet but guess I have my number already....this guy is efficient."

"Will you be having a sandwich or soup and salad today", he asked.

"Hmmmmm..." I considered my options. I need to lose weight and have high cholesterol so should go with the salad. "I'll have a #7"

"Did you want to super size your meal?"; I didn't.

"Curly or regular fries?", I took regular - by now readers, you guessed I didn't go with the salad.

"And do you qualify for the SENIOR CITIZEN discount?" the moron asked sincerely.

" ", yes, I was speechless. I wasn't sure if he had actually asked that but there the dufus was, waiting for my answer. When I started talking, my mouth worked faster than my brain.

"First of all", I said harshly, "Do I look like I'd qualify for the senior citizen discount? I'm offended that you even asked". I don't know why I said "first of all", there wasn't a 2nd of all or a 3rd of all. Had there been, I doubt that I'd have said them in public.....but at this point, anything could have come out of my trap.

Honestly, I EXPECTED him to say "We ask that of everyone so as not to leave anyone out" followed by a plethora of apologies and maybe even get a free dessert to lessen his guilt. The manager will probably show up shortly to smooth things over, as my comment and disgust was obvious. After all, did this bumbling over-sized fake attempt at a Christmas elf, who really should be working in a non public job, actually think I deserved the SENIOR CITIZEN discount? What a putz this moron was.

But there the twit stood, with an expression that only said "WELL LOUD MOUTH......DO YOU QUALIFY?"

"NO, I DON'T" I got my meal and went to sulk at the furthermost table I could find. Then I listened, maybe he really does ask that of everyone and I just missed it. So I carefully listened as he greeted the next few people in line with his nauseating "ho, ho, ho, for here or to go" fake x-mas tone. Occasionally he'd ask someone about the discount.....but they were people that actually looked like they'd be over 55.

This incident has been wearing on me all week. Am I aging? I had seen a couple of my classmates in the past weeks and, yes, THEY have aged far more than I have. But then I got to thinking....there are a couple of tell tale signs that possibly make me appear over 40.

1) It seems to be cold a lot. I used to wear shorts and a t-shirt in the house year round. Sweat pants and a sweatshirt are my new best friends. I've even caught myself hanging my coat up at work when no one else is wearing one.

2) People don't talk as loud as they used to and some mumble too much. It isn't my hearing, it is the newer generations. And print is SO very fine. After living 35+ years with glasses, first thing on in the morning and last thing off at night, at times I actually have to take them off to read. The bifocals can't do it all.

3) Teenagers are getting married too young, having kids too soon, and working where I work - with attitude....and they don't look like they should even be out of school. We have new neighbors and when I met the 13 year old husband and father of 2, I said without thinking "You look so young".

4) I've been saying more of what is on my mind and caring less about how loud or who hears it. Truly, this is inherited from my mother.

5) It is supposed to be below 35 (not 35 below, but below 35), we should stay home. Previously, I loved winter and couldn't wait for snow storms. I'd be out with my snow blower saving the world. Now......I really hope the neighbor with the riding lawn mower/snow blower/4X4 John Deere garden tractor comes over before I make it out to clean the driveway - tomorrow night.

6) A few weeks back the kids were gone on a Friday evening to friend's houses. I said to Shirley "We have the place to ourselves for a while......we could always (wink, wink). Shirley, always quick to respond with an alternative plan said "We could.....or we could go out for supper". In a previous life, I'd have gone for the first "we could" in a heart-beat. However, I actually stopped to think about it before saying, "where should we go?".

7) I still like movies with action, violence, sex, gore, and manageable plots - but not too in depth. If I have to figure it out - it is not entertaining. That has not changed.

That's it.....I have to go, the Weather Channel is back on!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Finally last weekend I decided to put it all together. I had to move all of the furniture in the family room into the hallway or along the east wall. Then I pulled the train table out into the open so I could turn it for easy access to all sides. Off and on over the next 2 days I rallied any help I could find and we added the 2nd level. It is not straight, it is not in alignment, it is not level, it is just tacked together so I could put the family room back in order and work on the project during the winter. It was nice to see some progress.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Grandma Shirley / Uncle Sean

I just couldn't bring myself to say "Kaitlyn had a baby" in the title. One of Kaitlyn's projects for her child development class is "Baby Think It Over". Kaitlyn received this VERY realistic baby Friday around 11 a.m. and will have it until Monday around 11 a.m. See her blog for all the details. Let's just say I refer to it as "Baby Cries a Lot". Did any of us get a good night's sleep?! Even the dog is having issues with the noise. I was "feeding" the electronic crying, eating, farting machine and accidentally let her head flop back while I was reaching for my food - hey, the sitter needs to eat too. Apparently, in addition to all the noise that followed, Kaitlyn will get a deduction of a few points for that mishap. Lesson #2 screen your sitters before hiring them. Just in case you are wondering, lesson #1 is no boys until you are 30.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Bridges

I finally have my bridges mostly completed. These are the 4 I made. They are mainly made out of pieces cut, trimmed, and sanded from much larger pieces. 1x3 and 1x4 pine boards trimmed to 1/4x1/4 or 1/8 by 1/8. Of course there were some purchased; the round ones for example or if I needed some that had to be absolutely straight.

The first one was the most time consuming with the most pieces. It isn't perfectly straight yet. That's the nice thing about using hot glue instead of wood glue. If you need to straighten something out, just pop it into the microwave for 10-15 seconds and it is easy to reshape. Obviously you have to wait until the wife is out of the house to do might not go over so well.

The 2nd is the most creative that I tried. This is the one where I wet the wood and clamped it to the pizza pan to bake for 15-20 minutes at 200 to get the curved shape. By the way, mother was gone when I tried that, too.

#3 was the easiest and quickest. All straight pieces - very simple. This one I am going to name the Barack Obama Memorial Bridge - details to follow.
#4 is the most frustrating. I worked and worked to get all the pieces exactly the same size, level, square, etc., etc., etc. As I tightened each of the cables, it pulled the upward supports closer and closer together.....not noticing that until it was too late. Even the oven trick won't work on this one. So if you look quickly, you'll never notice that it is not even. I ran the cables through eye hooks and twisted the eye hooks to tighten the cables. Under the bridge is a huge mess of cables and eye hooks - not very neatly done. But as they say in Japan - its a bridge. The only thing left for all 4 is painting - suggestions for colors are welcome. I'm thinking #1 will be weathered brown or left as is, #2 will be silver to look like a dull aluminum, #3 will be a flat black to look like painted steel, and #4, I'm not sure. The silver cables will be left as it. Weathered red, gray/white, blue gray....suggestions?????

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Babies

One of my favorite times of the day is when we tucked the kids in bed. They're winding down, have just had a bath, are warm and cuddly, and all is at peace with the world.

Then.......they turn to teenagers and they begin tucking you in.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fits Like a Glove

Shirley & Kristi were watching the National FFA Convention on TV Friday night. Of course Jeff, Sean, & Kaitlyn pretended like they were not interested but we know better. So Saturday night's conversation revolved around our FFA jackets. (I was in Fargo while the rest of my family was in Mpls - so this involved a couple of phone calls).

Kristi apparently had her jacket on and I heard some bragging about how well it still fit. Not to be outdone, I took mine out of it's garment bag for a look see. The first thing I noticed, besides the fact that it is a lot smaller than anything else in my closet, is the garment bag. It is dated 1976 "America's Bi-Centennial". However the buttons from the National Convention were more modern. One dated 1983 and one 1984. Shirley & I met at the November 1983 convention in Kansas City, MO. Yes, that is 25 years ago. Back to the fitting. Of course I could get it zipped! Was there ever any doubt? I had to have my camera close though as I could not bend, breath or turn. Ignore the sweat pants. I was only trying to prove a point, not actually going out of the house. In case you can't read the jacket, it says "President" below my name. I think that is what attracted Shirley. She likes the authoritative type.
In all honesty, it was a little snug. One of the pictures I took had the cross that hangs in our hallway in the background so I better not lie...... I didn't think I was going to get the damn thing zipped. I was packed so tight into that blue jacket that my man boobs have corduroy grooves in them. When I went to unzip my jacket (as I was about to pass out), I raised my left hand and it was actually numb. Oh, well, it looks way too formal zipped up. I like the loose gangsta look anyway! I know today's plastic zippers would never had held all that muscle inside. Now that I think of it, all of my pins were on the inside, that is why it was just a little tight. One other note, - back then my glasses were a lot bigger and I had more hair. Since 1984 I've downsized the glasses and hair and apparently up sized the body. I'm going to go have a bowl of ice cream - with extra toppings - just to celebrate the fact that I can wear clothes that I wore 25 years ago!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Copying Kristi

When I read KJ's "more things about me" post, I got to thinking - I really don't care (just kidding - it is always interesting how siblings can be so different from each other). Then I heard KJ in the back of my mind saying: "oh, come on......what are your.......?" I narrowed my list a little.

Favorite TV shows:
Boston Legal
Law & Order SVU
Anything with Kate Jackson (is she stil alive?)

Favorite restaurants:

Things I did yesterday:
Tried to find Sean's friend's house off a map she had drawn for him. Memo to self: If an 8th grader draws you a map, fold it up, put it in your pocket, and go to MapQuest. It will save you 25 minutes, 3 gallons of gas, and a wad of hair.

Went to the VFW in West Fargo with Tami, Rick, and Lori for some drinks, live music, and LOTS of laughs.

Things I love about fall:
No more heat, humidity or mosquitos.
Knowing what the kids are up to during the day and how much cheaper it is than when they are on summer vacation :>)

Things I look forward to:
Can't print it here.

Things on my wish list:
Refer back to Things I look forward to.

Ty - we'll await your list, and await, and await, and await.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Couple of Things

First.....I know many of you are dying to know how the train show went. There were a lot of exhibits and people. At times the line was long but worth it. I bought some more can't ever have enough track. It was 50% off so a good bargain.

The 2nd story is one I've told a couple of family members. For those that don't know, I exercise at Waterford - yes, the retirement home. They have a small exercise room and a nice pool. Since I really like to swim, it works well. The downfall....old people. Most, again, that is MOST are pleasant and extremely talkative. At the end of the day, after dealing with issues and talking to people all day, I prefer to exercise in misery....not really up for conversation or more people. I think most of them know that by now. The exercise room (treadmills and weight machines) is usually quiet - as one would expect. However, the warm pool is really busy with classes and chatterers until around 7. So if I show up to actually swim, heaven forbid, before 7, I often get the evil eye. But I have my glasses off so don't pay much attention. I've always thought it'd be really fun to run and do an huge cannonball. Of course, there would be complaints and I'd probably get kicked out of the senior center. I refer to them as "old fatties" or just " fatties". By the way, I have red swim trunks....see below.

Anyway, back to my story: The whole complex parking lot is full of old people cars, Buicks like I like are common. One day I convinced Shirely to go with me. As we approached in our old person car, the sole person going into the exercise place is doing so with the aid of a walker. What a first impression - it was worth a good laugh. Last Saturday morning when I went to exercise, I entered the locker room and there were 3 walkers parked along the wall. No, it didn't cross my mind to move them or lock the brakes on all of them, or tie them together....well, maybe it did. 3 walkers parked along the wall, like their Buicks outside, different options, makes, models, mileage, etc. The place was hopping....actually not hopping, maybe gimping along. I swear I'm the only one with original knees and hips. Plus, I don't have a scar from neck to navel due to open heart surgery....yet. As if that wasn't bad enough, imagine this: the old naked guys in the locker room move rather slowly and really don't care that they stand for hours talking in the nude. Worse yet, they sit on the bench naked and talk. There were things there that I really didn't care to see butt sometimes there is no avoiding it. It was truly funny. All these old guys, naked, shuffling around the locker room, stopping to talk to each other just like they were at the mall. No, Ty & KJ, I did not fit right in.

When I first joined, I offered to take Ty and KJ with me some time....but then told them: that's right, you aren't old enough. Minimum age to join is 40. Of course, Ty can now go. With his bum back, he'd be one of he pack.
I've decided years ago that there are 2 kids of people and this really magnifies as people age. The first group see good in almost everything, they laugh harder at themselves than anyone else, like a good joke and you seldom hear them complain and are truly pleasant to be around. The best examples of this group are my 2 grandmas. They always amazed me with their lively spirit and sense of humor. Especially the fact that they can laugh at themselves. That takes a secure person.
The 2nd group are people that are always bitter. Their stories are complaints, gripes, and humor in other's misfortune. They are never wrong and are never happy. I won't share an example becaure it'd piss them off even more.
It must be that a certain point in your life, you take the happy route or the bitchy route. I hope I turn at the happy route.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I had to take a break from the trestle. There are SO many pieces to cut. Each trestle has 36 pieces of wood in varying lengths, widths, and sizes. I made one more after the template then realized I should cut all the pieces prior to assembly. With the wood I have cut, I have 7 more trestles ready to assemble. However, I ran out of cut wood so have to get the saw going. The one downside to the cutting is a terrible cough I've gotten from the fine saw dust. It was either a dust collection system for $$$ or try a ventilation mask for $. I'll try the mask - I hate masks. They are hot and stinky. Since I can cut outside in the summer and not wear one; using a mask in the winter may not be as bad.
In the meantime, I decided to try building an arched bridge. After seeing the Memorial Bridge in Bismarck being blown up, it gave me some incentive. Since there were so many complaints - on line as well as off - about my details, I'll keep it simple:

An arched bridge is a bridge with an arch.
Now, for those that are truly curious and want to open their minds for knowledge, read on. I'm sure you are wondering: "Troy, how did you make that nice curve?" Well, my goal was to make this bridge entirely out of wooden dowels then paint is silver as if it were made out of pipe. I figured if I bought the smallest dowels in circumference, soaked them in water (wood bending), then shaped and dried them, it would work. After breaking several (I'm a quick learner??), I determined that would NOT work. So I went to the "old ladies with too much time on their hands" store, aka Hobby Lobby, and bought some flat pieces of Balsa wood. It is a very light and porous wood. - for those who like the details! By the way, Hobby Lobby does sell train sets and some train supplies. So if you have a 40% off coupon, you can get railroad cars relatively cheap. But watch out for the above mentioned old ladies, they can hamper your balsa wood and train supply buying spree.

I soaked the Balsa wood in hot water for a couple of minutes and then used clothes hangers to hold it to the perimeter of our largest pizza pan - which is also what I used to draw the plans you see above. I put it in the oven at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes with the convection feature on to speed the process. When it came out, it had dried into the curve needed. This made it easier to work with. Then I used dowels for the vertical supports. I am going to make 4 of these pieces that you see above.

Today: There is a train show at the Ramada. I'm getting dressed up in my Sunday Train Engineer best for the event. Shirley....don't hold dinner for me - I may be home late!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

1st trestle piece made and a template

A couple of years ago I got a ton of boards that are 1/4" thick, 4" wide and 3' long. Now I have found a use for them. In my goal to build a trestle without spending (much) money, it is coming together. I cut the boards into 1/4 x 1/4 inch x 36" pieces, plus some 1/4 x 1/8 x 36". The 1/4 by 1/4 are the main beams and the thinner ones are the cross members. Above is how they look after being ripped lenghwise.
This is the first trestle support that I made (laying on its side if you look at it this way). It took 4 evenings to get 4 pieces on. I had to square it up and wait for the glue to dry. I decided piss on that and started using the hot glue gun. It bonds in 1-2 seconds and I built the rest of this in one evening.

When I got done with the first one and was showing off my accomplishment, I actually kinda got a compliment from Kaitlyn. She said "huh......I didn't think you could do it". Apparently the plans looked complicated and she thought it was beyond my talents. The "huh" was the compliment part.

I have about 19 of these to make. But first I have to cut all the wood for them.
This is the same support from the side.
This is the template I made for assembling the rest of them. Of course now that I have the template made, I've thought of a couple of things I should have changed.
This is how the pieces will lay in the template.
This is my sander. I can't use it for these small pieces, those I have to sand by hand. I just knew you wanted to see a picture of my sander. I love it. For those of you that use those fancy stones for the hard skin your feet, this would do the trick much quicker. But get your own, you're not using my sander for your feet. The round sliver disc also holds a sanding pad. You could use that on your toe nails.

Turn your head for this one, too. Does anyone know how to rotate pictures? This is my band saw. I use it to cut all of the small pieces. I love it, too. It makes just the coolest noise when it starts up and shuts off. You can actually feel the power. I have been warned by several people that it is really easy to cut a finger off with one of these. Because you work so close to the blade and are always moving your hands toward it....I guess some people have learned the hard way. Hopefully you don't seen any pictures of me at Innovis Hospital.

Off the trestle subject for now. This is one of the braces that will be screwed to the main frame and support the non trestled portions of the 2nd level. These get put together in about 5 minutes but it takes a day for the glue to dry. Because they will have more of a load, I can't use hot glue for them. I have about 17 of these to make. All of the pieces are cut for these.

This is how it looks standing up.
That's all for now. I don't want to overload anyone with info.
One thing that I do have to brag about......I update my blog more often than Kaitlyn & Sean do theirs.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Slave Labor aka my weekend with KJ

dictionary results for: slave
/sle…™v/ Pronunciation Key
slaved, slav·ing.
1. a person who is the property of and wholly subject to another; a bond servant.
2. a person entirely under the domination of some influence or person.

Use in sentence structure: While visiting my sister in Chanhassen, I was treated like a slave. OR I spent my vacation day and weekend slaving away for my sister.

Yes, I just got back from Minneapolis. I had meetings Thursday and Kristi invited me over for the long weekend since I was in the area and had taken Friday off as a VACATION day.

Quoting her: "Oh, by the way, I have a couple of flowers I'd like you to help me plant". At that point, I'm assuming holding her lemonade glass, offering opinions, or better yet - getting there late enough that it is already done.

Friday we dug holes and planted. Saturday we dug more holes and planted more PLUS laid down landscaping paper and mulch. Sunday (the Lord's commanded day of rest - apparently except for slaves but I didn't see that part in the bible) we laid down more landscaping paper and mulch.

After spending 3 days at her place, there a couple of things I learned or that were reinforced into my memory.

1) Her kids are cute and extremely fun to be around. You just never know what is going to be said or what they will or will not do. Of course since they weren't mine, it was always funny.

2) A "couple" of plants means 26 shrubs, 55 plants, 3 huge trees, and countless other things. (KJ, I may have rounded up).

3) Either Jeff hates physical work or he is smarter than me and left town before the work started. I think it is a combo - he hates work and left town before the work started. I won't go so far as to say he is smarter - after all, he did marry her.

4) Kristi does NOT have tennis elbow. She has "waive at every neighbor" elbow. The spot where we landscaped above referenced hellacious project is at the entrance to their neighborhood. Every time a car entered or left, KJ would stop whatever she was commanding and waive to the passerby. Roughly 99.8% of the people knew her. I believe the other .02% knew her and chose to look the other way fearing they'd have to help. Roughly half stopped on their way out to offer encouragement and the other half stopped on their way back in to compliment HER on the work.

Truth be told, I had a great time. We had almost 3 full days of fun and interesting conversation, lots of good food, perfect weather (if you like sweaty relatives), lots of laughs with and at the kids and with and at ourselves, and I'd do it all over again. Comparible to child birth.....eventually the pain will be forgotten and soon you're ready for another.

Thanks for the fun weekend KJ!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Laurel - this is all for you.

My family's eyes just glossed over and Kaitlyn actually said "how long do we have to listen to this?" when I tried to explain the trestle and get some votes on the design. Now, those not versed in train language (trainage) and those who are not train experts (trainsperts) are even commenting on my blog that this is too confusing. Since some people understand pictures better than words, and I am 100% one of those people, too - the top blueprint is of one of the 19 vertical supports that will make up the trestle. A train will run under each side. The 2 sides are designed differently so I could pick which one I liked better. I'm going to do the one on the right.
The 2nd picture is looking at the built trestle from the side. There are different designs I have to pick from. A dual set of tracks will run on top of the trestle and underneath it. The little bit sticking out on the top left and the bottom right is just doodling ideas.
As you can see, building this, approximately 13 inches high and 3 feet long is going to take a lot of little wood pieces, glue, and time. I have wood scraps, saws, glue, and winter coming up so some time, too.
There may be those that comment "someone needs more to do". To those I say, "One thing that is a bigger waste of time than building this is reading about someone building it."
Now that the toybox is done, it's back to the trestle.

Same Box - New Paint

Below is the remodeled product. New paint, new hinges, new fabric, and new wheels. In addition, I added handles (it now looks like a coffin) and chains to keep the lid from flopping back and bending the hinges. It is even comfortable enough for the local alley cat.
I got to thinking. If I was 8 when this was built, and I remodeled it again after the same number of years, Sean will be 47 and I will be.....old. Of course by then, 76 won't seem old.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Almost Done

Above is a view of the bottom and the back - primed and ready for paint. Below is a view of the inside (duh). The back is on top.

The last few days I've finished gluing the box and let that dry. It took a while as the temps are cooler and I like using A LOT of glue. All of the original boards and nails are still there. Now they're just reinforced with glue - it could hold a herd of elephants. This is actually the toy box on its end. This is not a trick photo. If you look closely, you can see, under the primer, the slightest amount of green (former color) seeping through. And, back in the audience, just under the left tusk, sit Shirley, Sean, & Kaitlyn.

I've sanded and primed. This is how it looked before the first coat of paint. I'm not sure if I'll put another picture on while the paint process progresses or if I'll just post the final product.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


As I mentioned, I'm leaving my train project sit for a while - to get some creative planning going. In the meantime, this is the new project I am working on. It is a toy box that my Dad made in the mid '70's. Exactly when...I don't know. Someone would have to go through the picture books and find that date. Hmmm....Mom? We hadn't yet moved to where Ty lives now and I can't remember if KJ was born yet or not. Possibly this started out as her crib?? - thus the soundproof cover. Anyway, it is built like a brick shit house - very sturdy. So when Mom & Dad mentioned it was time to get rid of it, I just couldn't let this family heirloom go to the dump. I said something I normally don't...."I'll take it". I figured a quick coat of paint and a some new fabric and I could use it as a chest for my train supplies. As I got to taking it apart, I noticed the ~30+ years of use had taken its toll. First it was a toy box for Troy and his little brother Ty. Then KJ stored some of her dolls in there and possibly even a batch of her famous mud pie cookies. Eventually it was used to store (aka HIDE) liquor during the prohabition years of teen youth. Yes, Ty and KJ were a handful but we got them raised. I left all the wood as is and didn't take it apart. I just glued all the seams, put a new base on the bottom and a new floor on the inside, gluing and bolting both to the original floor. I put on new larger coasters as it is going to be on carpet, puttied some of the holes, and really slathered on the filling over the wharped and pitted spots. I added handles, got new hinges, and bought new fabric. This is what it looks like prior to sanding and priming. The foam, next to my '57 :>), will be used again. We looked for new foam but nothing was as thick as what was on there. Stay tuned. (the first picture isn't completely accurate - I didn't think of taking a "before" picture until I had it apart - so I had to get the cover to hold just long enough to snap a picture)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to Trains

Enough with the politics, back to the train. I have the base finished. The layout of gray that you see is not actually going to be on the first level. I'm planning on that being the 2nd level. It is only laid out on the first level so I can get an idea of the size that the 2nd base needs to be. It will be the same height as the ledge on the wall. The 2nd level won't be any bigger than the outline of the gray track. This way, the first level isn't too covered and still has some light. The delima I am having is how do I suspend the 2nd level without taking space from the 1st level. Yes, this is rocket science and no, I'm not a rocket scientist. In addition to my lack of engineering skills, I want to do this as inexpensive as I can. This way, I can say to the anti-train people in my house....see, I built this without having to buy (much) lumber........then I'll sneak away to the train store for a celibratory purchase. Because the track itself is fairly light, the only real weight will be the wood on the 2nd base and the engines themselves. I'm thinking of trying a "L". Now imagine this....turn that "L" upside down. The long side will be attached to the original base and the short part of the upside down "L" will then hang out over the first level and support the 2nd level. Of course, the short parts will be different lengths depending on where it sits. At its widest point, each side left and right, is 3 feet. The narrowest is between the 2 loops. I only need about 6 inches there. Now, get this. I'm going to build a trestle between the loops but in order for the trestle to not take up too much space, I want 2 sets of tracks to be able to run under the trestle as well. Now, for those not well versed in train language, below is an example of a trestle. This will be an all winter project. Gotta go plan. And......this project has been temporarily been put on hold while I work on another. Pictures of that to follow.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

It ain't that easy

Since we've past our 20th anniversary; my motto has been out with the old. Luckily, Shirley hasn't taken the same stance or I'd be history. But we had some things around here that we've had since before we were married or just after. It was time to do a little updating and house cleaning. Part of that was when we repainted our bedroom - again (my idea, so I can't complain....much) some of the OLD wall hangings weren't going back on the wall. Shirley likes the Live, Love, Laugh thing but couldn't find anything that she really liked. I have another saying I'd like to put on the wall in our bedroom but since I don't have this site marked "adult content", I can't share it here.

At the Fargo Street Fair we ran across this interesting concept. You put just the words on the wall, no picture, no nails, just press and enjoy. Yea.....that easy. So, of course, it sat rolled up in our bedroom for over a month before we decided to put it on the wall. It happened to be the same weekend my parents were there so they got to witness the spectical as well. Abbreviated instructions: Mark where you want the words (currently on a sheet of paper), then lay the sheet on a flat surface and rub the back side with a credit card to "set" the print on the front sheet of paper. Peel the back side off, set the front side against your marked wall and rub the back of that with a credit card. Pull off the back sheet. You are done.

Now - how it actually works. I will leave my parents out since they were innocent by-standers; although I'm sure they found it humorous.

Leave the sheet, that is supposed to be flat, rolled up in a tight tube for over a month. This way it gets the permanent "rolling" effect - perfect for getting something to stay on a flat surface. Hold the rolling sheet up to the wall while your loving spouse decides if it is straight or needs to move left, right, up, or down a hairs width. Mark said rolling sheet so you know where it needs to go. Take rolling sheet out to table and rub with a credit card to set the words on the front sheet. Try to peel off the back sheet, realizing all the words are still sticking to it. Rub with 2 credit cards and witness the same result. Rub with 2 credit cards and your fingernails using the pressure of a steel vice. Slowly roll back the back sheet, stopping frequently to figure out how to keep the stubborn (remember, not marked as adult content - replace "stubborn" with whatever work you'd have used) words on the front sheet. Kink, pull, press, and rub until everything is now on the front sheet that has the texture of fresh fly paper. The good news is that after all that rubbing, the sheet doesn't roll quite as much. Take said fly paper back to room. Now, and this is important, you had better have your shit together and line the fly paper up correctly the first time...oh, wait, did I forget to mention that in step 1 the words were not straight on the sheet. So this means your fly paper has to be at a slight angle so the words will be straight. Like I said, you have one chance to get this right. Slowly press the fly paper onto the wall. At this time the rolling effect comes back and you have air bubbles. Sarcastically say to those in hearing range "Great, this is just f*&^%*#g great". Witness grandparents and children flee to another level of the house. Try to get those bubbles out (ha - G.F.Luck). Once you have it pressed against the wall and the bubbles smoothed out, peel the sheet back ever so slightly, remembering that the simple "credit card rub" may not work. doesn't. Peel fractions of a centimeter back at a time, stopping constantly to reapply, rerub, peel, reapply, rerub. There...phew....done.......with ONE word of the bible length saying. Continue until complete. Step back, hand in hand with your loving spouse who you have now bonded with for over an hour, to enjoy your accomplishment in awe and wonder - as in "aw wonder if the idiot that wrote the instructions has actually ever done one of these.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Well, the democratic convention is over and we'd all agree that Hillary's speech was better than Obama's. Biden came 4th in the speech contest. I didn't hear Bill's but I'm sure it was better than the 3 combined. But Obama is now the man of the hour.

The only problem I'll have deciding my vote for president is if McCain picks Pawlenty as his VP. I do not like McCain but think Pawlenty would be an excellent choice to carry McCain's dead weight.

So if it comes to Obama/Biden and Pawlenty/McCain ......I'm still going for Obama....only pausing for a little to consider Pawlenty (mccain).

Have a good Labor Day weekend everyone !!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


One of the comments on my blog was about me taking 50% of the family room while the rest of the family has to share the other 50% .....or something to that extent, I didn't really pay attention to the ramblings. Here is my defense: Everyone else is the house gets at least one room to themselves. Sean has his own bedroom, Kaitlyn has her own bedroom, not even the bathroom is sacred. The 4 of us could sit and look at each other for hours without saying a word. The minute I get situated in the bathroom....knock, knock, knock...."Dad....." or Shirley THEN needs to get in for who knows what. So the next thing is going to be - Shirley doesn't have a room to herself. Well....what is the laundry room. Her haven away from it all. That is where she goes to relax. So I don't feel one bit guily taking my 25% of the downstairs. The kids also can have the space under the steps. You know, the storage from hell where you have to be a dwarf to crawl in to get the x-mas decorations and the rest of the year you chuck as much crap as you can fit into it.

Another comment was someone writing GW in for a 3rd term. Here is a link that person may find handy:

Keep the comments coming. I'll respond as I get time. Tonight I missed Bill Clinton's speech so will have to try to find it on the Internet. That's OK. I was spending time teaching Sean how to drive. He did a good job. Once we were parked, I felt completely safe again. I honestly don't know how professional driving instructors do it. I'd have to get tanked each morning before work just to take the edge off.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm not into politics

I have never been nor will I ever be into politics. I don't care which party a candidate is on, I vote for the person, not the party. That said...It has been a rough year. First Hillary...Well, maybe I should go back further. In my know, this is my blog so I can get more opinionated...

Bill Clinton was the best president ever. He was always smiling. I guess some of the pictures of him smiling behind the oval office desk have been explained but he has just a friendly disposition. He was the president with the highest approval rating ever. My theory is that if someone can do what he did and come out ahead, then he must be a great leader. So I liked and always will like Bill Clinton. If he were able to run for a 3rd term, he'd have been in the White House for another 4. Back to Hillary. She is the only way Bill was going to get back into the White House. I've always liked both Clintons...but not their ugly buck toothed daughter. So it was a sad sad day in my life when she dropped out of the race for president. About the same time, my favorite restaurant, Bennigans, closed in Fargo. Just a coincidence...I think not.

Anyway, my new hope for getting Bill back into the White House was for Hillary to become VP then worm, oops, I mean work her way up to the president's spot. Well now that isn't going to happen. I do like Obama though. Of course, I'd have liked him more if he'd have stepped down when Hillary was ahead or at least made her the VP.

Back to Obama. I truly think this nation has come a long ways in its battle against sexism and racism. To live in a time when either the first woman or the first black person can become president is remarkable. I'm voting for Obama. In one last attempt to get Bill back into the White House, I found this picture on the Internet....maybe some day a clone.

For those opinionated political types that frequent this web site, know that if you leave a comment against my opinion, it will be vetoed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Base for the train track

Here is the completed frame for the base of my train tracks. Hmmmm.... that takes up a lot of room. We got it assembled, with the help of the entire family, and only one scuff mark on the wall. And that is pretty good considering the boards, from left to right, just fit into the room. Everything came in through the family room window. At the bottom of the 6 legs are large wheels. Just in case I need to move it.

This is how the press board is going to sit on the frame. Ignore the hole in the left corner. That is from another set up. The tape measure is strategically placed where the inside corner of the 2nd level would be. That is still in the early early planning stages. Notice the black bridge along the ledge. Unbelievably, I made that. Honestly, when I got done, I couldn't believe I had built it. My carpentry skils are typically not accurate enough to build something that has to fit together, not to mention something that small of a scale. Sean & Kaitlyn have been out of town for a few days in Bismarck with Shirley's sisters. When they come back, I know they will be impressed!!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The beginning of the new layout

This is where my new train layout is going to go. I'm assembling the pieces in the garage and will bring it in for final set up. As with any project I make, no matter how many times I measure, something always goes wrong. I've found one mistake already that is too late to fix. We'll see who can spot it when completed. Shirley wouldn't want you to see the laundry laying around drying so don't look at it. By the way, today is her birthday so we gave her the day off from laundry. That way there will be twice as much tomorrow and she'll feel needed and appreciated.
The yellow tool box is for all my "train" tools. Its pretty empty. There are a couple of storage containers in the background - either visible or covered by laundry. They are completely full of track, trains, and accessories.

I built this table during our staycation. We have a new rustic picture and needed a table to match. Shirley just got a cream can from her parents that fits perfectly on the bottom shelf. Almost as if it were built for it....almost.

This is a closer view to you can see the fine craftsmanship. Orders are being taken at my other website