Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tanory Playhouse

Longtime readers of the blog may be shocked to find out that I have overcome my UIS (Useless Idiot Syndrome) and have actually managed to create something - using power tools, no less!

It all started when we moved to our new house back in January.

We had a swing set at our old house. It originally came from my brother-in-law's house. We swiped it from his house in the middle of the night, then set it up at my house. We just always pretended like it was a coincidence that we had the same exact one as what used to be at his house. The kids loved it and played on it all the time, and it was lots of fun.

But we sold that one before we moved, and Betty has been plotting to get a new one ever since. She's just been biding her sweet time.

Finally a deal sprung up out of nowhere, and we got a play set that was on sale at Toys R Us that was within our price range and looked like I might actually be able to put it together on my own. (By "on my own" I mean "with lots of help." We all know my limitations.)

But this year I made a New Year's Resolution that I have been sticking to: Try New Things. In the past I might not have had the confidence in myself to try to build something like this on my own, but this year my motto is, "Screw it."

So that's what I did: I screwed it. I screwed so many screws into this thing, it will never come apart.

Here is my first piece of the play set. It's the first thing I've ever screwed together (outside of some shelves that my father-in-law helped me build a few years ago). This is the rock wall that goes on the back of the play set. It's OK to be amazed by how straight all of the boards are and how evenly separated they are.

First piece done!

That literally took me two hours to build. I first had to sift through all the parts - finding the right wood pieces as well as the screws - and then I had to look at the instructions from several different angles to understand what they were trying to tell me.

Next up were the bars that go across the top where the swings connect. This took less time - like half an hour. Oh, and then another half hour to undo the thing that I had put on backwards, and then fifteen minutes to fix it again.

Second piece

Those connected to each other, then connected to another piece that holds up the end by the swing set. Here's a look at the finished piece before we hooked it onto the rest of the play set. It kind of looks kinky.

Second piece in action

I did several steps on my own, but I had a lot of help for much of the assembly. My father-in-law Jimmy helped me one night and we put together a bunch of the core pieces. Then my good friend Alex came by and helped me connect all of those pieces plus helped construct the final half of the play set.

Play House in Repose

This part eventually became the Monkey Bars. (Or as we call them, Super Monkey Bars.)

Super Monkey Bars

Not only did we have to assemble everything, but we had to stake it down into the ground. I used my brute strength to hammer a foot-long stake into the ground. I had practiced my "hammering a stake into the heart of a vampire" move for quite some time, so this wasn't much different.

Stake out!

Behold the finished product!

Cest finis!

Betty and I estimate that it took between 16 and 20 hours to put this thing together. When I worked alone, I would only work for two hours at a time. Things definitely went faster with two people. And it helps if you have help who are both strong and smart.

Powered by Us!

When I began this process I was scared that I would screw up and that this thing would fall apart while my kids were in it. But now I feel really confident in its durability - it's strong enough for four kids to be on at the same time.


And now you can slide, use the monkey bars, swing, or even practice your superhero flying powers!

He can fly!

Basically, if you ever want to build your own play set, let me know because I'm now allowed to use power tools. And I will never manually twist a screwdriver again, EVER.

The kids love it!

So to everyone out there with Useless Idiot Syndrome, I'm here to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT and IT GETS BETTER! Just quit questioning yourself. Quit thinking that you can't do it. Quit thinking that it would be much more fun to go heat up some nachos instead of screwing two pieces of wood together. (Nachos and screwing wood always go hand in hand!) Believe me when I tell you that if I can do it, you can do it.

Just make sure to con some friends into coming to help you.

Good luck!

Friday, June 14, 2013

LSU Baseball Avatars

I love cheering on the LSU baseball team. The team is great, the fans are wonderful, the stadium is beautiful, and of course our team is a perennial competitor for the College World Series (CWS) championship.

Speaking of which, the CWS is coming up this weekend. I've watched the team all year, and I can't stop making certain connections in my head with the names of the players. I'd like to share that with you now, since baseball will be over in two weeks.

No. LSU Player What I think of Link to Stats
2 Tyler Moore Mary Tyler Moore Stats
4 Raph Rhymes Wraith Rhymes (a beat-boxing ghoul) Stats
5 Chris Sciambra Chris Sombrero Stats
8 Mason Katz Dr. Katz Stats
10 Aaron Nola Aaron New Orleans Louisiana Stats
17 Jared Foster Foster, Australian for Beer Stats
23 JaCoby Jones Jacoby Jones (football player) Stats
29 Nate Fury Nick Fury Stats
36 Will LaMarche Will "The" Marche Stats
38 Nick Rumbelow Nick Rumble Low; Nick Low Rumble; Nick Boom Stats
49 Brent Bonvillain Brent Good Villain Stats
58 Chris Cotton Mullet of Doom; Kenny Powers Stats

These aren't necessarily meant to be funny... they're just what I think of. Sorry to Alex Bregman, Joe Broussard, Ty Ross, Alex Edward, and all of the other wonderful LSU baseball players with bland, uninteresting names - but don't worry, I will still cheer you on Sunday at 7, but just reference you by your real names.

Friday, June 07, 2013

How to use the NSA Surveillance Scandal to your Advantage

In case you were not aware, the NSA is watching you read this blog post. What's that? You didn't directly navigate to my blog but are instead reading this on your email, Facebook or on some random aggregator that steals contents from other site?

Doesn't matter, the NSA is still watching you.

(And since the NSA is watching me, let me just clarify that none of those porn links on my browser history are mine... I have no idea how they got there. Honest!)

And if you called someone to tell them how amazing this blog post was, then you're really out of luck. Because recently it became known that the NSA (National Security Agency) is sifting through millions of American phone calls a day. They're basically spying on regular Americans, and they've been doing it for a long time.

And don't even think about wearing a tin foil hat to try to stop the government from reading your minds. See more about that here.

Obviously, lots of Americans are freaked out over the NSA Surveillance Scandal. But here's how I plan on using the NSA spying program to my advantage:

1. As My Personal Grapevine

I bet the NSA has all the juicy details on what my neighbors, coworkers and family members are doing. Inquiring minds want to know!

2. As My Personal Shopping Assistant

Hey, NSA-reading-my-phone-logs-person... do you remember when I went to the store last week and inevitably had to call my wife because I wasn't sure of what kind of tomato sauce to buy or in what quantity? Yeah, help me out, bro, I know you know this information because you heard our conversation earlier when she asked me to pick that up. It would be great if this could be a two-way conversation. Also, you probably know all the best coupons to use... could really use some TLC from the NSA on this one. In fact, did you watch anyone stock the shelves? I can't find these damn tomatoes anywhere....

3. As My Personal GPS

GPS coordinate data was made available by the government, and now the government is spying on me... so maybe we can do a mash-up here and you can tell me what the best exit to take is when I'm coming home from a trip. Please have your traffic and weather reports handy as well.

4. As My Personal Security Advisor

Any terrorists in the area? Don't hog that info for yourself! You've got my text number, let me know!

And last but not least...

5. As My Personal Prank Call Practice

Uh, maybe not. I don't want the NSA knocking down my door because I prank called a restaurant saying someone is about to "drop a bomb" in "their toilet."

In conclusion, the NSA could be the next Siri if they really wanted to be. They know that much about everyone. But instead of considering them malevolent, for the moment I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume (and hope) that they're using their powers for the greater good. It's not like we have a choice - nobody's going to give up their cell phones or Internet.