May 17, 2006

Remodeling Demolition? Get FUBAR

Last year I ripped out ten walls' worth of drywall to replace the termite-ridden studs within, using a cheapo wrecking bar from the local Big Lots. But if I were to do some remodeling demo again (and I certainly will have to, if I tackle the hall bathroom), I'd want to get my hands on Stanley Tools' new FUBAR:

Buy the Stanley FatMax Xtreme Fubar Functional Utility Bar at

This incredibly-named (for a mainline company like Stanley Tools) tool combines the wood-wrangling aspects of a tweaker with a good old wrecking bar.

Before the FUBAR came along, you'd go buy a Mayhew Tweaker bar, like this one:

Buy the Mayhew Tweaker Bar at

I think Stanley caught on to all the buzz that Dead On Tools got with their bad-ass named product line. Like the Death Stick Exhumer cats paw:

Buy the Dead On Death Stick Exhumer at

Tool-wise, I think the FUBAR wins in both the naming category and functionality (And it looks better too, so it wins the swimsuit competition hands down). So what if it doesn't have a bottle opener like the Death Stick? With the quality of home center lumber these days, having a tweaker on hand is a great idea.

Obligatory martial arts angle: And yes, I'm sure all of these could be instant escrima weapons if need be. But think twice before doing that abaniko with the "Death Stick"--they'll really ream you (ahem) for that in court.

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July 05, 2005

Niche Marketing: Lawnmowers for Prisons

Just picked up a manual lawnmower (the excellent Scotts Classic reel mower) and found this interesting site on the Web:

I saw a bunch of crazy ideas during the boom, back when our Firm proudly touted its "eBusiness innovator" customers as being mostly "two guys and a dog and a shitload of VC money". Yeah, we actually bragged about that--then did a quick about-face in 2000: "oh, most of our accounts are Enterprise customers".

But oddly enough, this guy seems to be making money. Who'd a thunk it?

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June 30, 2005

Strange but True: Artillery Fungus

Been reading up on landscaping in preparation for some yard work. Found a great article extolling the virtues of good old black plastic over the new geotex woven mulches, that also warned of the evil artillery fungus...

Great stuff from the Penn State Dept. of Horticulture: How to Control Weeds

The one fungus associated with organic mulches that does cause a serious problem is the artillery fungus. It produces a fruiting body that forcibly ejects a black, sticky spore mass. The fruiting body is phototropic, meaning it orients itself towards light, or bright, shiny surfaces that reflect light. These include windows, white siding, and shiny automobiles. The spore masses can be shot up to eight feet, but with an assist from wind can reach the top of two story homes. The glue with which the spore masses attach to surfaces is extremely effective. After it has dried, the spore masses are very difficult to remove, and even when removed, leave a dark stain behind. Clients have sued landscape managers for the cost of having their siding replaced or automobiles repainted. This problem is not uncommon anymore, and there is no good solution for it at this time.

Ok, this is going to sound really geeky, but isn't this reminiscent of that Star Trek (Classic, not NG or Voyager or whatever) episode where Spock gets hit with those plant spores and becomes a freaky 60's love child dude?

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March 07, 2005

Concrete Shower Pan, 0; me, 1

Finally knuckled down and tackled taking out the mortar shower pan in the bathroom I'm remodeling. I had hacked away at parts of it with a puny little 2lb hammer, and never got anywhere. I had put it off for so long--it wasn't very appealing ("Oh joy! 4 hours of hard back-breaking labor! Sign me up!") but I had a bunch of stressors to exorcise anyway, and I hadn't really gotten to break anything yet.

Turned out that the mortar broke up easier than I thought it would, after wielding the "big sledge". I swear the house shook with each impact, but that mortar bed broke up into a bunch of baseball-sized chunks. I'm no John Henry or anything, but getting down to the bare wood underneath made me feel great.

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January 11, 2005

Where'd the ornament box go?

You know you have too much crap in the garage when you seriously consider putting a system like this in place:

photo of Sky-Marx netting in warehouse

Sky-Marx Position Reference System is an array of position markers attached to a support structure, suspended overhead. It offers a method of identifying locations for areas that are otherwise unstructured, such as storerooms, warehouses, and factory floors.

Each position marker contains a bar code and/or human readable text that uniquely identifies the corresponding floor area below it. Markers are attached to a sturdy but lightweight mesh that can be suspended above the area of interest. When an item is placed within the designated area, the closest marker is read and recorded. For users with automated systems, the marker barcode is scanned with a standard bar code scanner.

Now that way, when you're looking to take down the Xmas tree and are searching for the specially compartmented ornament box, you can just query your household Access database (what, you don't have one?) and there you are.

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January 10, 2005

Crawlspace Inspection Robot

So I was scurrying around the crawlspace yesterday, mostly looking for water inflitration after the past series of storms. Found all sorts of problems to fix too, like detached air ducts, bad toilet flanges, and funky wires that I have no idea what they're for.

Couldn't you just take a radio control car chassis, tack on some good lighting (rubberbanding a SureFire on top would do the trick), and a small camcorder, then drive it around down there? You could hook the camcorder up to your big-screen TV if you wanted to, and inspect your crawlspace from the comfort of your media room.

I'm sure someone's already done this. You could just do it as a retrofit kit for the usual toy RC car. You'd want one of the "4x4 truck" models, because you'll be going over pipes and rocky fill and the like. You'd also want to either have a really wide-angle lens, or some way to pan and tilt via RC control too.

A really geeky version would let you control it through a Web browser.

There's gotta be something like this over at Fry's already. All the PL geeks in the Valley would use it to surreptitiously peep at their neighbors or something.

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January 07, 2005

PVC Project: Driving Range Cage

Parking this idea for a rainy day... make your own driving range cage out of PVC pipe.

After all, this one from is just some 1.5" Schedule 40:

photo of driving range cage

I figure, I could reuse my old sprinkler runs (gotta replace them anyway), get a camo net from Cheaper Than Dirt or something, and for $50 I'd be good to go. The camo net would also serve a dual purpose of shielding my wicked slice from the PGA Wannabee Interdiction overflights.

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September 09, 2004

How to Spray Paint a House

So I've been painting the interior of the house the past few weekends. Of course, now that I'm pretty much done (er, done for), I wish I went about it a different way. But the "Green Tea" color looks great.

There's a lot of info out there on the 'Net about how to paint interiors using a brush and roller. Fine Homebuilding has one of the best articles available on their Website. But there isn't much info on spray painting--maybe some basic techniques, but no process, no order of battle.

Here's what I did:

1. Masked and taped doors, windows, switch boxes, etc.
2. Spray primed ceiling.
3. Spray painted ceiling, 2 coats in some rooms.
4. Masked and taped around ceiling perimeter.
5. Spray painted walls, 2 coats.

6. Brush paint trim: door casings, window stools, etc.

Here's what I wish I had done:

1. Masked and taped doors, windows, switch boxes, etc.
2. Spray painted walls: 2 coats.
3. Mask off walls.
4. Spray primed ceiling.
5. Spray painted ceiling, 2 coats in some rooms.

Why walls first? Most texts say to paint from the top down.

The reason is because it's hard to mask off the ceiling when prepping for spraying the walls. You have to tape plastic up to the ceiling, so you're upside down a lot. If taping plastic from the ceiling-wall seam to protect a painted wall, you can let gravity hang the plastic dropcloth down, and you only have to tape one edge.

Of course, you would end up using a lot more plastic though. I cut the cheapo dropcloths into 1.5 ft wide strips, and that was sufficient to protect from overspray. But I'd probably cover the entire wall when spraying a ceiling.

Best books on basic house painting I've found so far:

The Complete Painters Handbook: How to Paint Your House Inside and Out-The Right Way by Gregg Sandreuter

Paint Your Home: Skills, Techniques, and Tricks of the Trade for Professional Looking Interior Painting by Francis Donegan

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July 29, 2004

I love my Sawzall!

Used the Milwaukee 6519 to rip out a termite-eaten rough sill under a bedroom window. Turned out that the lower flange of the window frame was nailed to the rough sill, along with numerous 16d nails coming in from the outside sheathing.

Sawzall took care of it. Zip zip zip. Like a hot knife through buttah. Can't wait to get the pruning blades so I can start clearing the backyard.

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