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.

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!

 

 

🚧 🚧 🚧 👷 👷‍♀️ 🚚 🦕 🚗 🏁 🧚 🌱 🚧 🚧 🚧

🚧 🚗🏁 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.

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.

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.

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Is it a #FairyGarden or a #SquirrelPlayground?

A post shared by Eric Carroll (@aixelsyd13) on

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.

Muck Stuck Truck


Heh.  So, I got stuck in the mud today.  I found it amusing, thought you might too.  Without revealing what I do exactly or my employer, I can say I drive around a lot for a living.  I pulled off of a narrow country road to make way for a larger pickup with double-wide tires towing a trailer…  on to what I thought was a solid piece of land.  Turns out it was soggy muddy ground, sort of like quick sand.  I could feel the truck slowly tipping as soon as I pulled over.  I tried to rock back & forth in 4WD to get out, but didn’t want to bang the underside of the truck off of the edge of the road.  Luckily some other guys I work with were just a phone call & a few minutes away, and towed me out without incident.  A local also stopped to see if I was OK, and another guy working in the area did the same & even let me use his cell phone booster to make a call where my signal was weak.

So, if you’re ever in a bind, don’t panic.  People who are generally willing to help out are out there.

So, I need help with my résumé.


I rarely ever blog about or post on social media about work.  My work life is work, and my personal life is personal.  I’ve never felt the need to discuss, vent about, or provide detail about my job.  I’m going to go ahead and break with that for this post.

Unfortunately, the time has come where I need to update my resume.  About a year and a half ago, the company that I was working for was sold, shut down, & liquidated.  A core group of people decided to try to move on & start a company in the same industry, and I was invited to be a part of it.  I was honored to be asked to participate, and glad to be gainfully employed.  Sadly, things didn’t pan out as planned, and the company is also in the process of shutting down.  Basically, I’m no worse off than I was a year ago.

At that time, I had an updated resume, and went on my first job interview in a long time.  I was offered employment elsewhere.  It may have worked, but the pay wasn’t where it needed to be for me to comfortably continue to pay rent and put food on the table.  I went with the group I knew & salary I needed.  I have no regrets, I’m just illustrating that I don’t have much job interview experience, but it has mostly all been positive.

Basically, I’ve been at the same job for 10 or so years.  In 2002, I started at an a/v integration company as the shipping guy.  That company was purchased in 2005 and I was hired by the new company, which closed in 2011.  Then on to the newest one where I was doing all slight variations of the same thing.  I liked my work, it was a nice mix of desk/paperwork & physical warehouse work sometimes, it was always different & challenging.  I have learned many rules, processes, & things about the equipment over the years.  I was able to adapt to many changes, and survived them all (up until now).

I need help with my resume.  I think I first updated this format in 2005, when it looked like I may have needed to search for other employment.  (Luckily, I was able to work temporarily for the new company, proved my merit, and was hired full time.)  In 2012 this format may be stale.  I’m not big on titles.  I call myself a “shipping guy” but I do much more than that.  I have more skills than a simple shipping guy needs.  I hate phrases like “team player”.  I am, but it sounds goofy.  Who reads that & doesn’t roll their eyes?  I’m generally not boastful (other than in jest), but this is one time when you need to be.  There’s a lot riding on a resume.  It gets your foot in the door.

I’m confident in my writing (thanks to this blog), but thrown into a resume it looks braggadocios, fragmented, & boring.  I love bullet points, but breaking things down into them, I feel like I lose cohesion.

I need this to grab someone’s attention, highlight what I can do & what I can offer, and get me a job.

Eric AiXeLsyD with the Batmobile

I have a lot of skills in my utility belt.

What do I want to do?  I’m certainly qualified for shipping, warehousing, and inventory jobs… entry level or supervisory.  Sadly, entry level pay may no longer be acceptable.  I could certainly do something else though.  I’m a quick learner.  I’d love to get paid for this writing / blogging / insanity thing (I mean… show/album/food reviews, photos, humor, goofy letters? I can do a bunch of stuff there).  Unfortunately I don’t have a degree.  Can you get one in shipping?  Certainly 10 years experience in shipping I would have learned anything that I could in 2 or 4 years of school?  I do have some training in graphic design & commercial art, I have experience in drafting (by hand even… does anyone remember that?), some talents that have yet to get me paid like drawing mazes and photography, and I recently completed classes in Microsoft Project… so I could even fill a “Jr. Project Manager” type role where I can learn as I go.  I’m certainly adept with computers, know old school (& also useless) html coding, and can pick things up rather quickly with any kind of program.  I can promote things like my band, the blog, and Food Allergies like mad online.  I think I’d be a good PR person, I just lack formal training or experience.  Maybe it’s time for something different.

So, I need help with my resume.  What works, what doesn’t?  1 page?  2 pages?  If  so, how do I fit it all on one or to pages (I think it kicks into an atrocious 3 now)?  What do I need to express?  Do I need a cheesy cover letter?  Do letters of recommendation help?  References right on the resume, or “provided by request”?  3 Personal/3 professional?  3 total?  Cover letter?  No cover letter?  Cover paragraph?

I’m laying it all out here and asking for your help.  Take a look at this resume and tell me what you think?

Please help me with my resume!

Click to check it out at Google Docs

Please excuse the format, it needs a new look… something anyway, and Google Docs may have messed with it a bit.  Other than that though… I ask you to be honest, brutal, constructive, and hopefully helpful.

Also… know anyone that’s hiring?  Are you hiring?  Point me in the right direction here.  I’m confident in my in-person interviews, and with anyone that already knows me or has worked with me.

Thanks in advance for your help.  I need to start hitting up InDeed, PA Career Link, etc. with my resume.  I know I have a lot of friends, family & readers that can help me out here.  It would be crazy to not use all of the resources at my disposal, right?

I haven’t forgotten about blogging.


I haven’t forgotten about blogging.  There’s just been a bunch going on lately.  The band had a few gigs back-to-back, & we’ve been trying to come up with new stuff.  The real job has been rather taxing of late, the workload and hours have increased.  The wife & I seem to have some sort of scheduled social or family function every weekend lately.  Our week at Living Waters is coming up & I’ve been preparing for that.  I started to work on my New York Pro guitar & chronicle that, but got to a stopping point & haven’t had time to get back to it.  I’ve been trying to pull together some mazes, new old, some unfinished… I want to get a bunch ready to go, then look at my best publishing options.  I’ve also been battling a nasty stuffy nose coupled with a summer cold & fatigue.

I’m certainly not complaining, there’s just a bunch of stuff going on.  I felt the need to explain the lack of posts.  I even have some drafts written on what I feel to be some entertaining subjects…  I just need the time to sit, make the graphics & write the posts that go along with them.

If you need some blog feed, check out:

Move Along, Move Along...

Move Along, Move Along…

Great storytelling.


Check out Omawarisan’s tales…

I found them amusing, and wanted to share.  I’ve linked to his stuff many times before.  Have you ever had any moments like this?

Deutsch: Ein syrischer MAN-LKW beim Transport ...

BEWARE OF BOUNCING

Leaving Early


I’ve noticed a trend of people leaving early at punk rock shows and at hockey games.  I’m sure it’s happening other places too. It’s glaringly obvious that as a society our attention spans are shortening while our focus hones in on our own satisfaction.  I guess I’ll have to give into the trend.

Here’s my list of more suggested places to leave early…

  1. When Dining Out – Order something you don’t like for dessert, then leave before it gets there because you don’t want it anyway.  Brave diners can also skip paying the bill.
  2. The Doctor’s Office – No clocks in the waiting room?  Making you routinely wait for an hour later than your scheduled appointment time, yet whining if you’re 10 minutes late?  Leave before the doctor gets there, you probably don’t want to hear the results anyway.
  3. The Movies – They’re all remakes any more anyway.  Haven’t you already seen this?  You know how it’s going to end.  Chances are you’re texting or even talking on your phone the whole time anyway.
  4. Church – Just getting in the door counts, right?  Leave before all that pesky sermon about morals and other nonsense… and get to the local diner/brunch buffet before everyone else!
  5. WorkEight hours?  That’s just crazy.

Have any more suggestions?

Dine & Dash!

What the hell is this?

Your tax dollars at work


…or lack thereof.  Yesterday, we got this in the mail:

2010 Census Warning Letter

Really?  I mean, really? I can’t imagine one person out there who thinks this is at all necessary.  Your government actually spent time writing a letter, translating one line into several languages, printing, assembling, and mailing this thing out to every residence?

The one line at the end must be the important line, because it’s the only one they translated… yet, it wasn’t important enough to be in the actual body of the letter.  Are we to ignore the thole main part of the letter?  How did they pick the languages in which to translate the line?  What are they?  Please excuse my public education.  I recognize the English of course, Spanish, what I think is Chinese, then most likely Japanese or Korean, under that… I have no idea, then the Cryillic letters… is that Russian?  Why no French, Italian, German, or at this point Navajo?  Did they just throw darts at a map?

What if I’m politically opposed to the social programs that you need this census data for?  Is this my warning to fill the census out incorrectly?  Doesn’t the government already know everything about me when I do my taxes?  What exactly is my fair share, and who determines that?  I’m sure it’s nothing even close to “if I pay more taxes I get more out of government assistance”… which would seem fair to me.

On the other end of the political scale, even if this paper is made from recycled material, the plastic window in the envelope couldn’t have been environmentally friendly… and this is still a giant waste of paper, ink, envelope glue, and the gas that went into the trucks/planes/cars that delivered these things.  I really hope the tree-hugging hippies pick up on this and rail against it.  If the government expects us to be more responsible with our resources, they ought to lead by example.  Even a fictional villain from the Captain Planet cartoon would find this wasteful.

Oddly, it didn’t even mention the not-so-humorous “Snapshot of America” campaign that’s been shoved down our throats via TV, radio, print, and the ‘net.  I could almost see if it was some expansion of that, or more of an explanation.  This basically translates to “please fill out the census when you get it”… and if you need help, we have a website you can go to.  They couldn’t have done that in the useless ad campaign?

Who paid for this?  We did.  You, me, and everyone else that pays taxes.  Wouldn’t the money used for this mailing have been better used in the schools, health care facilities, highways, and programs that the census letter speaks of?  Or, it could have gone to disaster relief, homeless shelters, cancer research, or better yet, you could have all gotten a few more tax dollars back in your refund.  Before you laugh…  It wouldn’t just be the cost of the paper, ink, envelope, & stamp.  Think of all the people who where paid to write, print, fold, stuff, stamp, & transport these things and how many hours they spent doing it… and imagine what they get paid an hour.  Even with automated machines to do most of the work, someone had to monitor the progress and set the ball rolling.

Was this a ploy to keep the post office running for another few months before it shuts down?  The one sentence that stands out to me is “Without a complete, accurate census, your community may not receive its fair share.”  This reads like a threat in a stereotypical “pay for protection” plot line on your favorite crime drama or Simpsons episode.  I imagine someone sounding like Joe Pesci saying “I would ‘ate for sometin’ bad to ‘appen to your community were you to ignore this important mailing coming your way.”

Yes, I just wasted more of your time.  Sorry about that.  Maybe I need a government job…