Changing the Oil

December 5, 2006


This is a simple procedure, especially since I’ve done it before on this vehicle [Kia Sedona].  The location of the oil drain plug and filter make it clear they were catering to small left handed people.  I loosen the plug and the oil begins to drain flawlessly, no oil on the garage floor.  Now while that’s draining, I figure I’ll check the air filter.  This multitasking idea really gets me in trouble. 

I back out the four screws holding the air box cover on and the last one slips out of my hand and down into the abyss that is the engine block.  “Great!  Where the hell did that go, I’ll never find it.  It’s probably down under a belt just waiting to rip it to shreds,” I said.  Now the only flashlight I have in the garage is one of these free ones that come when you sign up for a magazine subscription.  So naturally, it goes out after about 30 seconds of use.  I creep back into the house where Owen is sleeping, trying not to wake him while I hunt for the other flashlight.


Back outside, having successfully not woken up the child, I have devised a way to pick up the missing screw with a magnetized screwdriver.  Only problem is, it’s not long enough.  Solution?  Tie a string around the handle and lower into position.  Well this works about as well as fishing from atop a pine tree down through a hole cut in ice and trying to miss every branch on the way there.  As I realize this futility, the knot I’ve tied, as well as a non-boyscout can do, has come undone leaving the driver right next to the screw and no way for me to retrieve it.  Now I have to do something I was trying to avoid with this fishing expedition and remove the entire air box itself to get to the screw and now the driver too.


It comes off with much less trouble than I imagined, which only means I should have done it the first time.  The screw and driver and now easily accessible by hand and come right out.  Everything goes back together and I’ve given the oil more than enough time to drain.


Drain plug goes back in.  Now on to the pesky filter.  Now I said that Kia must think only small left handed people would be changing the oil in this vehicle, but I didn’t say they also assume one of your talents is reaching up a vending machine and grabbing just about anything you want, blindfolded.  The two options here are to contort your arm around rods and walls to get to the filter or remove a large panel.  You’d think I’d have learned to remove something to make the next step much easier, but I haven’t.  So around I go finding the filter and twisting it off.  But now that it’s off, there’s no way to get it clear.  Now I’m stuck in a maze, BLIND, and trying to get the damn thing out some other way than I got my hand in.  Oh, and don’t spill any oil still in the filter on the van.  It’s like a real world game of OPERATION on your back, and did I mention, with my left hand.  This goes on for five minutes until I pull back part of the panel mentioned earlier and pull it out.  Whishoo.  This time I don’t get away without leaving oil on the floor.  But this was destined to happen.


Don’t ask me why, but putting the new filter in went much smoother.  Perhaps it had something to do with the path being nice and lubed up from taking the old one out.  Who can say?  On to filling her up, which I’m sorry to say is uneventful, and I’m done.


McKinney, oil changes run somewhere between $30 and $40.  I can do this for less than half that and even with all the time spent farting around, it probably takes just as long to drive down there, wait, and drive back.  Plus, if I went that route, you might not be laughing right now.



Little Red Wagon

November 19, 2006

Owen’s Aunt Erin and Uncle Patrick bought him a little red wagon for his first birthday.  A Radio Flyer to be more specific, an American classic toy since the 1950’s.  He’s been enjoying it a lot, putting his other toys in it and pulling or pushing it around the living room.  The other day his friend L climbed in and Owen pushed him around in it.  Too cute.  The only issue with it is that when Owen sits in it and you begin to pull him around he sometimes falls over.  Now don’t worry, he doesn’t fall out or anything, he just tips a bit and you have to keep reaching back to catch him or accelerate very slowly.  We’ll have to keep doing this until he can grab hold of the sides and keep himself upright.  Or, I can build higher side rails that are easier for him to grab and maybe even a back rail.  Some other models of Radio Flyers come with these, but that’s not the one Owen got.  This works out great as I love doing this kind of thing and this was just the excuse I needed to make some more dust in the garage, I mean shop.

(Click on pics to enlarge.)trucknwagon001.jpg

If you’ve read any of my previous posts on wood working, you know I didn’t buy anything for this project.  The builders left plenty of material in my garage to keep me busy for awhile.  There were about four or five boards for framing windows left that were 1”x4”x16’.  I used one of these previously to make some knock down saw horses.

So I started by looking at many pictures online of the wagons with rails to get an idea of size and shape of the supports.  They were simple enough, looking mostly like a “J”.  Originally I was going to have three rails on each side, but this got narrowed down to two rails of equal size on each side.  I was also originally going to have three “J” supports but this was taken down to two as I didn’t want to put one right in the middle of the Radio Flyer logo.  With this I now made sketches of the “J” supports and side rails.  I decided on two rails 2.25” tall and 34” long matching the length of the wagon.  On the first rip cut of the rails, I was left with a piece 34”x1.125”.  After looking at this and comparing it to the other rail of 2.25” I decided the contrast of the tall and short rails looked rather good together.  I can’t describe it, but it just looked more appealing.  Plus if I used this thinner piece instead of cutting another 2.25” tall rail I would be utilizing lots of otherwise scrap material.  The mission creep on this one is off to roaring start, I have however saved myself a lot of time.

trucknwagon-003.jpgWith everything cut to size on the table saw, it was time to round all the inside edges so Owen and friends don’t get snagged on any sharp corners.  This was easy enough since I’d made a crude router table months ago.  After that some sanding was in order.  I married into a great Porter-Cable palm sander.  This works well if the objects sanded is stationary and dust collection is not an issue.  It was hard to keep the sander in one hand, the hose from vacuum in the other, and hold the rail being sanded in my third hand.  So I reversed everything.  I flipped the sander over and clamped it in the wood vise along with the hose.  This freed up both hands and I could easily swap from piece to piece to get this all sanded fairly quickly.

With everything cut, routed, and sanded, all that was left was to drill a few holes, insert a couple dowels and glue everything up.  After the glue dried, I had some small areas to clean up and then I could mount the rails on the wagon.  I really needed 1.75” bolts, but the only hardware HD had was 2”.  Now I have 0.25” sticking out and may need to cut off or cover with a rubber nut or something.

Jess told me when Owen first saw the new rails he got really excited and liked them a lot.  Wish I was home to see him.  I hope he enjoys them and they don’t break off.  I’ve really got to get some Oak or start dealing with harder woods as Owen gets older and can break things more easily.

Does anybody have a memory of their little red wagon growing up?  We’ all love to hear it.

What the heck is Fried Coke please?

October 28, 2006

Have you ever heard of this?  We came across this at the Texas State Fair in Dallas last weekend.  This place was great and we all had lots of fun.  Owen was able to see and pet just about every animal known to man. 

I had been told when I purchased tickets the day before that I must try the fried Coke.  I said, “What are you talking about?  Fried Coke.  Who ever heard of that?”  Well, apparently they mix Coke in with the dough [like fried dough] and then fry it.  Then they drop a bunch of doughnut hole sized balls into a cup and pour some very syrupy Coke in the bottom.  Then top it all off with some whipped cream and cinnamon.  Luckily, we stumbled onto the stand with the fried Coke early in the day.  Later, I saw the line wrapping around the stand and blocking some other vendors’ entrances.  You could see they were upset as they only had regular Coke to sell.  People were talking about it all day all over the fair.  “Have you had the fried Coke yet?  Hey, where did you get that fried Coke from?  I think that’s line is for the fried Coke.”  Madness.

Some more pictures of the fair.

fair-009.jpgThis is Big Tex.  He’s sort of in the middle of everything.  Every so often he starts talking and waving his arms and turning his head as he directs people to various things going on right now and later in the day at the fair.  Kinda creepy looking I must say.

fair-011.jpgThis truck was too sweet not to photo.  Ford F150 that somebody spent some time on.  The cover lifts and the sidewalls fold out yielding lots of leisure room and even a grill.  Near the cab is a frig and stereo speakers.  Trick my truck, I love it.

fair-021.jpgI think this was Owen’s favorite ride.  He seemed to enjoy it the most.  I’m sure he liked petting the goats a lot, but this was definitely more exciting for him.  You know, he wasn’t even fazed by being up high in the Ferris wheel.

fair-030.jpgI bet you didn’t know Owen had his own trailer company.  Neither did I.

fair-033.jpgThis is Boris, or Boris’s cousin, or something.  Boris weights over 1500 pounds.  And from the picture, you can see that 95% of that weight is carried between his legs.  He did not move the entire time we were watching him except to breathe.

Josh’s funny though for the week:  I was listening to the radio and the Ba Donk a Donk song came on and there’s a line in there about gettin’ her britches on or something.  Anyway, I immediately thought of a T-shirt with a picture of about 6 or 7 people from the waist down wearing jeans or long underwear and text at the bottom that reads “The Britches of Madison County.”  Any body think that’d sell?

Fairview Farms

October 17, 2006

Located in Plano, TX, right in the heart of restaurant row.  Kinda bizarre actually.  We’d seen this place before a couple of times after eating at Carrabbas and Shady Oaks BBQ.  So after another lunch at Carrabbas, we gave it a look.

Before though, at Carrabbas, they’ve got a new thing going.  After we ordered, the waitress offered to bring out some uncooked dough for Owen to play with and then said he could make his own pizza and they’d bake it for him.  Pretty cool I thought.  We opted out of the toppings part and just took the dough.  He loved it, like it was PLAY-DO or something.  Anybody that knows me of course has already guessed that I had to participate in this fun, which of course I did.  I made a heart shaped dough for my wife.  We didn’t do the baking part, but it was fun to through it around at the table.october-036.jpg

So, the farm.  They had pony rides, a petting zoo, pumpkin patches, and hay rides even horse back riding [you know the kind of horse that Owen is almost taller than.]  I know, you’re starting to think that’s all there is to do out here.  Owen seemed to enjoy it though, and at one point he tried to free all the goats from incarceration.  Then we fed some horses and pigs.  october-030.jpgLater we saw another goat by himself making weird noises.  Owen tried to imitate and I was unable to record the audio.  Maybe next time.  It was a cross between an old lady sneezing and coughing mixed in with a little “ney”-ing.  Even funnier, later Owen fell down and a goat tried to eat his shoe.turkey.jpg

We ran into a lady carrying a very cute jack russel terrier, white with black paint that perfectly split his face.  I later caught the same woman carrying a giant turkey under  one arm like a pillow, guess that’s how you do it. 

The Big Orange Pumpkin Farm

October 13, 2006

This weekend, we took the boy to his first pumpkin patch.  This was not the pumpkin patch I remember growing up, either of them.  The first one I remember only had pumpkins, in a field, for you to pick.  That was it.  The second one I remember being well air conditioned and had everything else you would expect to find at the grocery store.  This place blows all that away.  It’s a zoo.  It’s a farm.  It’s a hay ride.  It’s even a cowboy ranch camp for kids.  There were goats that would climb up a bridge just to get food on the other side.  You could walk under the bridge, but I would recommend checking for falling debris first, if you know what I mean.Of all the things to stimulate the eyes and ears, Owen was most fascinated with the giant fan four stories over our heads.  He did enjoy the hay ride, but was not impressed when we were giving the feed to the animals instead of him.406are2.jpg

4afdre2.jpgFor the admission, we received two medium size pumpkins and two cups of feed.  [click to  enlarge]

Owen wanted to take this big one home instead.

They also had lots of farm equipment for the kids to climb around on and this of course provided great photo ops for us.dff7re2.jpg

ef2fre2.jpgHere’s one of Owen singing “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.”

We’ll definitely be going back to this place as he gets older. 

He’ll only enjoy it more and more as he can do more and more.   Hopefully by next year he’ll learn the goat feed isn’t that appetizing.

Random quote of the week:

Jess after eating dinner and getting up to do the dishes.  “Aw crap, there’s a lawnmower in the sink.”

Josh’s Stage 85 Drought Regulations

September 28, 2006

Before we get into my regulations, let’s view the current stage 3 regulations here in Mc(don’t have any water in)Kinney.

No washing your car/truck/SUV

Water only on trash day between hours of 6pm-10am

No outdoor fountains.

Josh’s Stage 85 Drought Regulations:

No using the windshield washer provided with your vehicle.

If your cooling system goes dry, you are not allowed to refill it with water.  Find something else.

Everyone using a gym will be required to put their excessively damp towels in specially marked receptacles.

If you own a truck with no topper, tonneau cover, or means of draining water that may accumulate in the bed, you must drive to one of two water reclamation facilities here in McKinney.  One of these is located far away from your home.  The other is even further.  No, you may not have a pool party in the back on the way to the facility, we’ve been getting calls about this.

 Everyone will have a county issued still suite to be worn for the next six months.still suit  The Fremen will be available for fitting support.

 Anyone owning a camel must turn them over to the city so their water can be confiscated.

Kool-aid is outlawed.

Tuna will no longer be canned with spring water.

Any pictures in public places that display a body of water will need to come down as we don’t want people even thinking about water.

All private pools will need to be drained and water transported to city of McKinney at owner’s expense.  See locations above.

Car washes have to close their doors.

If it rains everyday for the next six months, all of these rules will still be in place.

Picnic Table

September 26, 2006

Home Depot offers a picnic table kit for $40 that comes with a prebuilt top and all the hardware.  I would be hard pressed to get all those materials for that price, plus they’re pre-cut, so I’m saving time too.  So the box claims “Average Construction Time = 60 mins.”  Easy enough.  Yeah, that doesn’t count the two coats of sealer it recommends prior to assembly.  Lucky for me, my garage came complete with a barely used gallon of Bear water sealer.  The can says it’s good on any wood and has a red oak flavor to it.  This will go nice with the Southern Yellow Pine wood of the table.  So that’s taken care of, and let’s see I’ll need a brush.  Ah, here’s one.  I used to use it to dust off the gas distributor in my grill, that’ll work.  Now, I’m no Bob Ross, but I think a nice strawberry-blond with just a hint of black ash will make a nice picnic table color.

The first photo is of the wood right out of the box.  Wait, did you think you could just untouchedjump right into the staining and sealing?  No.  There is much sanding to be done.  Gotta knock down some bumps and take all those nasty ink marks off the sides that will be facing up.  All in all, it’s about 3 hours of labor sanding, sealing and resealing over three days.  The second picture was taken after one coat of sealer.

one coat One more night and one more coat and we’re ready to begin the estimated “60 minutes” of assembly time.  I guess it’s my fault for not reading the whole sign.  This story gets interrupted by another project.  Hanging the storm door.  This will have to wait another day to finish as that’s the only day the neighbor helping me was available.