Backyard Race Car Track & …Dinosaur Garden? 🚚🦕


Well.  Damn, you Pinterest.  Ha ha.  We made more progress on the Back Yard Race Car Track.  It may now also be a construction zone, gravel pit, monster truck arena, and dinosaur garden.  Molly even asked about building a volcano.  I do have an extra bag of concrete.

#BackyardRaceCarTrack, #DinosaurGarden, & #MonsterTruckArena! #DadStuff

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Check out the latest photos.  We added a gravel pit, some large rocks for edging-work to try to contain the gravel, and dug out the grass so we have a dirt pit.  Not sure if I should plant grass and leave a dirt track, or make it all a dirt pit.  I may try to buy some river rock to make the outside edges look a little neater, and mix some more extra sloppy concrete to smooth it over, and fill in the edges smooth.

I bet it will evolve greatly over time.

I’m anxious to see photos of other projects like this.  Show me what you’ve got in the comments!

 

 

🚧 🚧 🚧 👷 👷‍♀️ 🚚 🦕 🚗 🏁 🧚 🌱 🚧 🚧 🚧

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🚧 🚗🏁 Backyard Race Car Track & Fairy Garden Construction! 🧚🌱🚧


So, on Labor Day this year, we labored.  We finally got around to pouring cement for the Backyard Race Car Track, and we started a Fairy Garden.

I have been sitting on the race car track idea for a while, and wondering what to do landscape-wise around the one small tree in the back.  We recently got some fairy garden furniture stuff as a gift… so we thought that would be a cool second (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th?) backyard play-space.

I had purchased some Quikrete coloring from Amazon a while ago, and some bags of Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix from Home Depot this Saturday knowing that we had a full day to work today.

We had also started the digging a while ago when Ian was over-zealous and wanted to “Dig, Dig Dig!” in the back yard.

Ian is getting serious with this #BackyardRaceCarTrack. #excavator #shenanigans

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We had an easy enough start, put down some gravel, and mixed two of the three bags of Sand/Topping Mix with the coloring.  I mixed it a little thick, and really what was all the coloring was meant to cover.  The track was only about ‎⅔ of the way complete.  So, I mixed the one other bag we had on hand.  It was a little sloppier and went on really well.  The kids helped in a kid-helping capacity, and Bethany did nearly all of the troweling/finishing work.  Molly told me that she wanted to use the trowel because that’s what “brick builders” use to put the stuff in between bricks.  I have no idea where she learned that.

So.  It was obvious we needed a quick trip back to Home Depot to get some more bags.  Ian & I went on a mission.

Going into @homedepot dirty, so the other customers know we mean business.

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I asked the little man if we should get 3, or 4.  He was adamant about getting 4.  We also got the cheapest bag of garden soil, and some pebbles.  Sadly, the bottle of coloring didn’t last long, and maddeningly Home Depot didn’t carry it… even with two shelves full of Quikrete products.  I ended up asking if they had anything in the paint department, and they just had a concrete paint or dye to use after the fact.

We got back and Bethany made us a delicious salad for lunch.  We needed to re-fuel for more work out back!  I mixed 2 more bags, with some help:

After that, we did use just one more bag… but that’s OK.  I can use the rest for some driveway patch work now that I have some more recent practice with this stuff.  (A long time ago, I worked for a bit for a general contractor, and would sometimes mix mortar all day for the subcontracted bricklayers.)

For now, that’s about all we can do.  The bag says it needs to set up for five days.  Hopefully we can be patient and the neighborhood wildlife (including my children) stays out of it.  I did grab an odd old brick from out front that had originally been in the back yard, and made a sort of garage out of it.  I plan to get some river rocks or pebbles or something to kind of clean up the edges of the track.  Maybe they will need to go on with concrete, or some of that stuff that comes in a caulking-gun dispenser.  If they’re not stuck down, they will end up all over and most likely destroy my lawn mower.

The other quick family project was to make a fairy garden.  I was hoping to use stuff that we had around in addition to the recently gifted furniture and starter items.

After thinking about a couple of different ideas, we settled on me taking a chainsaw to some large branches and small logs that we had out back, and driving nails partway into the bottom so we could drive them into the ground and they would hopefully hold.  It worked!

I played with the chainsaw, demonstrated the nail technique, then Bethany and the kids did most of the nail-driving… and I think that was mostly Bethany.  Molly helped me place them around the tree in sort of a kidney bean shape, including an old wooden bucket that I think we bought from the estate sale of the previous owner of this house (who coincidentally said she would miss the little tree in the backyard most of all).

Then we pulled up 90% of the grass, and Ian hauled it away in his wheelbarrow.  We put down the bag of cheap garden soil and it was perfect for coverage & fairy garden decoration placement.  We also planted a small succulent plant that my mom had recently given us in a small pot that should be durable outdoors, but may look cool covered in small round stones so it looks like a fairy house.  We’re putting Grandma on craft duty to help make little projects to decorate the space.  I would love to use some of the stuff we have around the yard or house like tiny terracotta pots, or Popsicle sticks, or wire.

Is it a #FairyGarden or a #SquirrelPlayground?

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It would be nice to plant some small ornamental succulents, moss, or super tiny flowers eventually too.  Luckily (?) Pinterest is an endless rabbit hole when it comes to fairy garden stuff.  Speaking of rabbits, our backyard is overrun with them as well as squirrels, chipmunks, birds, deer, and who knows what else.  Think they’ll leave this stuff alone?

At any rate, playing in the dirt has been proven over-and-over to be good for you.  These spaces offer two additional opportunities for the kids to get into the dirt in the back yard.  It’s great to learn about gardening, ecosystems, using your imagination, and more… all without even realizing that you’re learning.

Check out some photos from the day if you have the time and interest, and let us know what you think in the comments!

 

 

If this is something you’d like to try yourself, check out these Pinterest boards for inspiration:

If it’s something you have tried yourself, please share your stuff in the comments!  I would love to see some other backyard family projects.

Chick-fil-A’s response: “It’s not you, it’s me.”


Chick-fil-A wrote back to me, and sadly I predicted that they’d give me the “no unsolicited ideas” speech which is equivalent to the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech.  Shenanigans, I tell you.

From: Chick-fil-A CARES <chickfilacares@na.ko.com>
Date: Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 8:09 PM
Subject: Chick-fil-A Response
To: <me@my.email.address>

Dear Valued Customer:

Thank you for taking the time to contact Chick-fil-A.  You are very important to us, and we appreciate your suggestion regarding the cup holders.  We hope the following information will be helpful.

Chick-fil-A is fortunate to have many loyal customers. Many of these fans take the time and effort to inquire about sharing their own ideas about ways they wish to see us improve – whether it is adding a specific new product, service or feature. We are grateful for our customers’ intent, and this motivates us to work even harder to keep improving.

Unfortunately, it is our corporate policy not to accept or consider any unsolicited creative ideas. This is a difficult decision because we realize that by following this policy, Chick-fil-A may miss out on some great ideas from our customers. We would rather miss out on some of these ideas than to risk any potential future misunderstanding should Chick-fil-A develop or already have developed a product, service, or feature that may seem similar to a customer’s idea.

We hope you will understand the reasons for our policy. You can view our Unsolicited Ideas Policy at www.chick-fil-a.com/Legal (under Submissions) for more information on this issue. Beyond this policy, we gladly welcome customers’ feedback about their restaurant experiences.

We appreciate your family’s loyalty, and we look forward to serving you all at Chick-fil-A for many years to come.  Again, thank you for your time and interest in Chick-fil-A.

Sincerely,

Cheala
Chick-fil-A CARES
Chick-fil-A…We Didn’t Invent The Chicken,
Just The Chicken Sandwich.
On the Web at www.chick-fil-a.com

P.S.  Please retain your ticket number.  This will help us locate your information should you need us again.

{ticketno:[8002084683]}

So, of course I wrote back…

From: <me@my.email.address>
Date: Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 4:56 PM
Subject: Re: Chick-fil-A Response
To: Chick-fil-A CARES <chickfilacares@na.ko.com>

Hello Cheala,

Any idea how I can get my idea solicited?  I’m honestly not interested in monetary compensation, I just don’t want to spill my drinks.  Has anyone run this by Mr. Cathy?  He’s responded to my emails before, and I understand that he’s a shrewd business man as well as a great family man.  I’m sure he wouldn’t want drinks spilling on anyone… and that he’d like to pick up a free idea.

Thanks once again for your time & help!

My pleasure,

-Eric

Wonder if I’ll get a reply?  I just want a good cup holder.

Dear Chick-fil-A, I have an idea for you…


I plan to send this to Chick-fil-A, and we’ll see where it goes.  I just realized, I’ve written about Chick-fil-A several times here before.

Dear Chick-fil-A,

I have an idea for you.  I realize that as a giant corporation you probably don’t accept unsolicited ideas, but please don’t let that stop you from considering this idea.  I don’t expect monetary payment, maybe just free Chick-fil-A for life?  (Maybe a limit to once a week?)  Well, I guess I should present my idea before we start talking payment or barter.

This past Saturday I went to the Chick-fil-A in South Hills to grab some of those ridiculously delicious Chick-n-Minis™ for breakfast.  I went into the store to order take-out so I could grab some mayo packets, ketchup, straws, & napkins at the little condiment station.  I got two drinks because I was taking breakfast home to share with the wife.  I opted for your highly addictive sweet tea, and the wife had a Hi-C Fruit Punch.  The always courteous employees offered me a drink carrier, and I accepted.  I thought it would make life easier on the ride home.  I saw wrong.

I set the drink carrier on the floor of the passenger’s side of my truck.  As I backed out of the space, it fell over on to the long side.  Your drink lids are thankfully quite tight, but sadly not entirely waterproof.  I leaned over and placed the carrier & drinks upright again, this time turning the drink holder 90 degrees the other way thinking I had outsmarted the laws of physics and that it would stay put.  I could not have been more mistaken.  As I turned up a hill to go out the back of the parking lot, it fell again.  I believe I uttered something using vocabulary that you may not approve.  At the stop sign, I had to pick up the cups and give up by putting them in the truck’s drink holders.

As I drove home trying not to think about the drops of Hi-C & iced tea soaking into my floor mats, I wondered if there was a better way.  I certainly like your drink carriers much better than the egg-crate 4 space things that just let cups lean over all willy-nilly.  I came to think that your drink carriers just need feet.  I thought the feet may take some extra cardboard, and wondered i something could be done with the existing design.

At home, my thoughts were fueled by poultry protein.  I pulled out my pocket knife and started cutting as my wife looked at me like I was a crazy person (as she does quite often).  I explained what I was doing and why and she actually also thought it was a good idea.

You already have some nice sturdy cardboard.  Two well-placed quarter-circle cuts & maybe even a fold mark in the middle of the carrier would create some nice sturdy feet or “wings” or your drink carrier box without the need for a complete redesign or any additional material.  I tested it by trying to rock the mostly empty drinks back & forth on the kitchen table.  We had no spills.  I am willing to try some field tests if you’d like to move forward with this idea.  My truck’s floor mats can handle it.  Perhaps I can even use water instead of red & brown sugary liquids.

I’m sure we could talk to your box people & find out if this is doable for a reasonable price.  I think it will be as important & innovative as the new Heinz® Dip & Squeeze® packets!  I have some photos attached that I’m sure you will agree are quite illustrative of my design ideas.  Sadly, my pocket knife is a cheap dull one, so the cut looks more like a rip.  I believe you’ll see my intent though.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, and am excited at the opportunity that lays before us.  It would be my pleasure to help make this dream a reality!

Eat Mor Chikin!
-Eric

And the attached photos:

So, there we have it.  I mean, most of my letters are plain goofy, and this has a goofy tone, but really… don’t you think this would work? Now, we wait for a response.

 

Guitarz 2012 Calendar!


Some people who read this blog may, like myself, have an appreciation for guitars.  I like the weird, the odd, the strange, & the rare.

Not Enough Batman
Not Enough Batman

Guitarz is putting together a 2012 calendar of such guitars.

These guys put together a great blog, and I’m looking forward to their calendar.  I might take an artful photo of one of my weird axes, but with only 12 months in the year mine won’t be a slam-dunk… and sadly aren’t the weirdest/rarest out there.

Take some photos of your weird/rare/beautiful guitars and send them in!

They probably won’t take this photo.  So, get your axe in gear!  (Get it?)  Submit a photo of your rare/weird/cool guitar, or take a photo of a friend’s to submit.

Epic Metal :: It’s not too late to join the quest!


So, the warriors of Dethlehem have dropped a second album, aptly named The Ghorusalem Codex Vol. 2: Of Magick and Tyranny(This would be a follow-up to their 2009 disc, The Ghorusalem Codex Vol 1: Enthroned Upon A Spire.)  If you’re a fan of metal, or a fan of chaos involving things like trolls and dragons and wizards… you need this album.

DETHLEHEM | The Ghorusalem Codex, Vol 2: Of Magick & Tyranny

DETHLEHEM | The Ghorusalem Codex, Vol 2: Of Magick & Tyranny

Listen to this and try to tell me I’m wrong:  Dethlehem “Hypergates of Infinitude”  It’s one of my favorite tracks off of the album.

I’m big a fan of their first album, but this one blows it away in terms of recording, production, and overall album cohesiveness.  The interludes in between songs have become a much better over-all narrative to help guide you along the quest.  (The full story is coming soon to their website.)

Bovice and Hildor are the six-string men-at-arms, and the musicianship here makes me sick.  The guitars are ridiculous, it’s almost too over the top… but with what Dethlehem has going on, it needs to be ridiculous.  I’m talking shredding, sweeps, blazing riffs, and all manner of fretboard insanity.  If I didn’t know these guys, I’d hate them… they make a punk rock power chord chump like me almost too embarrassed to pick up a guitar.  Luckily for the Ernie and the Berts fan(s), I have no shame.

A slight lineup change on this album, Davidicus the Black replaces Galagore… not sure what the official story is, if Gallagore was eaten by a dragon or transformed into a toad by an evil witch or what.  Davidicus is a wizard, and adds a dynamic both in story & in playing style.  You can hear less doubling of guitar parts by the bass, more restraint where called-for musically, and stomping all over the place where appropriate.

Overlord Brom bangs on the drums like nobody’s business, and even my untrained ear can tell there’s all manner of math going on here with time-signature changes.  This is not 4/4 rock n’ roll.  Plus, when he plays live… he starts out with a bucket-like Helmet on his head where it must be impossible to see anything.  (By the way, funniest character voice ever in the narratives.)

Lord Bonecrush has developed what I can only call a battle-hardened confidence in his vocals.  While they were strong on Vol. 1, on Vol. 2 they’ve progressed to a point where any shred of vocal uncertainty is gone.  The vocals are honed sharp like any good weapon should be before going into battle… yet there’s a double-edge… clean for slicing backed up with growling with a ferocity akin to aurally ripping you asunder.  The backing vocals also stand out a little clearer on their own on this one… not sure who’s where… but it’s all done sparingly, tastefully, and appropriately.

While not a technical review by any means, I hope to have conveyed the overall feel of the album, and to have piqued your curiosity.

These guys put on an incredible live show… I suggest you buy the album to learn their songs, and then go see them when they come to plunder and pillage a venue near you.  I’m not sure if you can fully appreciate the epic-ness through just a recording or video.  They’re on tour now if you can catch them!

(In the interest of full disclosure, this may not be a completely objective review… I do know the guys, and they awesomely thanked me in the liner-notes of this disc…  But I’d like to think that those who know me know I wouldn’t push crappy music on anyone.)