December 31st (New Years Eve) and we got our first signifcant snowfall..

Things have been so brown and dismal, it's quite depressing... But all that changed today! We got about six inches of wet, heavy, and georgous snow!

I broke two shear-pins while using the snowblower. My kids, the neighbor kids, and a few of their friends got together today and made a five foot snowman. The bottom ball is three feet accross and three feet tall!

My next read.

For Christmas, I got a new book.

"One Man's Wilderness"
By Sam Keith

The the story of Dick Proenneke.

Who is Dick Proenneke? CLICK HERE, HERE, HERE, heck... Dick Proenneke (Alaskan Adventurer) is ALL OVER THE WEB!

To properly enjoy this book I need a cool, calm, and quiet setting while I read (much like the setting of the book). That rarely happens at home, and seldom happens at work... I'll wait for a set of days off in January or February where I can have a day or two of some peace and quiet...

I was turned on to this book by when PBS aired three specials on Alaska. The first one called "Alone in the Wilderness" (The story of Dick Proenneke - and documentary about this book), the second (I forget the title - but I will find and add here) is about the Alaskan Wilderness, and the Narrator does a lot of flying over the wilderness in special plane, and the third "Grizzly Man" The story of Timothy Tredwell (another Alaskan Adventurer and bear enthusiast). If you have not had the opportunity to see Grizzly Man - I highly recommend it! It contains an adventure story with some underlying humor in it (you will have to see it to understand) and the captivating beauty of the Alaskan wilderness... Once you start it's hard to look away.

More room in the garage

Well, I finally sold the last of the items I had listed on Craigslist.
The Headboard, Dresser and Mirror, and as of tonight the Bunk Bed sold...

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One other small project I have undertaken.

I had a old unused 120 gig hard drive laying around in a USB enclosure. I have been cleaning that drive up, and (although I do have some done already) I am taking my whole collection of CD's (about 160) and converting them over to MP3, and then storing them (as backups) on the USB hard drive. I have also backed up all my family photos onto this USB drive too!


Alarm Project - Intro

Today I ordered the first part of our new alarm system.

I ordered a GE Simon 3 system. It seems to be one of the more versital, and DIY friendly systems out there.

It's kind of "odd" though, it that the user interface is all verbal. It is programed thru voice commands rather that having an LCD screen. I am not sure if I will like that or not, but from the reviews I have read so far, people seem to like it.


Keep watching!


Trouble in our Neighborhood

Today (yes... Christmas Eve) while at work my neighbor called me and asked if everything was ok at our house. I told her that I thought so, and asked why she was calling me at work and asking (it sure seemed odd). She told me that three of our neighbors were burglarized during the night, and it looked like our house could have been hit. (See below) Entry was made thru the garages. Christmas gifts and electronics were taken, and some of the gifts and the ripped off wrapping was blowing around in their yards and some of the neighboring yards. Apparently just stealing the gifts was not enough. The burglars had to have a "Mini-Christmas" and rub it in the faces of their victims.

Footprints in the snow and frost (and the fact that they put my lighted Christmas deer in a "compromising" position) indicated that they were at my home too. I normally leave for work in the dark, so (at the time) I had no idea this had happened. Even after my neighbor called me, I still had no idea if they had entered my garage (and / or home) because I had not thought to look for anything out of place. Like I said though, it was dark outside, and hard to see if anything was disturbed. A call to my wife (after she returned from church) verified that indeed all was well at our home, except for our deer having been forced to copulate against their (and our) wishes.

When the person responsible is found I'll be sure to fire up my woodchipper, and offer it my to my neighbors (the victims) who can feel free to (slowly) feed the burglar in... FEET FIRST! Until that "final solution" becomes a reality, I have decided to look into alarm systems for my home.

Because of my job, I am familiar with what alarms do and (more importantly) what they do not do. I know they wont result in an intruder's arrest, but they will limit the time an intruder can be in my home before someone checks into the alarm. There are also options for some "covert surveillance", and a chance at capturing an image of the "soon to be chipped" burglar. I guess it's all about how "paranoid" I want to become, and how much that paranoia is going to cost me.

I am a pretty handy guy, so I have decided to install my own system rather than getting the "Free" alarm from one of the nationally know companies. I can contract out my own alarm monitoring at $108.00 a year from a national monitoring company, and would then also OWN my system. Homeowners who have a monitoring company install their alarm, frequently pay up to 30.00 a month (with up to a three year contract) for service. Those systems are "proprietary", so you can only have their company monitor the system, and if you try to make changes, or want to stop the service, they remotely "lock the system down" rendering it useless. They then can come in and remove the system when and if they so choose. If (on the other hand) I install my own system, and (for whatever reason) I did not want the system monitored, I could quit the monitoring, and have a working "on site only" alarm system.

I am starting research now, so watch here for updates, and maybe even a future "series" on the alarm!

So... Until next time, keep those woodchippers warmed up and ready-to-run!


Holiday Eating Tips.

This entry came to me from a Web Forum I belong to: One of the "regulars" there posted this message as a Holiday wish to everyone. It was too good to not share!

Holiday Eating Tips.
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Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.


Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!


If something comes with gravy, take it! That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy . Eat the volcano. Repeat.


As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.


Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?


Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's.


You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This isthe time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.


If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.


Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?


Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.


One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.



Remember this motto to live by:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, cigar in one hand, a drink in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" .


Have a great holiday season!

A two part entry.

Hello visitors! As you read this posting, keep in mind that Part 1 is the "lead-in" to Part 2 (which is the main point of this post). Part 2 is what I wanted to write about, but I felt it needed a little lead in. Hope this puts things in a better perspective for you.

Enjoy... I know I enjoyed writing it.


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Part 1 - Sacrifices

I (for the most part) ramble on here about being the father of five, and all the fun associated with that. Today, I am going to talk about an example of why being a father of five can (at times) be a real sacrifice.

Two days ago, I got a call from my friend Ed. Ed was going to be in the Twin Cities for the weekend, and was going to get in one last pheasant hunting trip this year. I was extended an invitation, and (even though very busy) my schedule looked like I could adjust things around enough so that I could squeeze in a morning hunt.

If I wanted to go (which after my last work-week I probably NEEDED more than I wanted) I would need to get quite a few family or "father-of-five" related tasks completed. (Because of my work schedule next week, I have no choice to be completely ready for Christmas by Tuesday evening. I have no time home (except sleep - and that is even severely limited) between Wednesday morning and Christmas Eve Day after 4pm.). I spent all Saturday running my tail off, just trying to keep up. Each stop set me further and further behind. As evening approached, I was unable to complete the tasks I needed to finish, nor had I even have a chance to get a pheasant stamp. Game Over - Pheasant hunting was out of the running.

Telling Ed that I was going to have to cancel was one of thoes difficult, but unavoidable parts of being a "Father-of-Five".

That leads me to Part 2

Part 2 - The friend of a lifetime.

Friends, let me make one Christmas wish for all of you. My Christmas wish for everyone is that they can have a friend in their life as good as my friend Ed.

Ed has been more than a friend to me over the years - Ed has been my brother. Back in the day Ed and I were inseparable. Wherever Ed was, I could be found, and wherever I was, Ed could be found. I'd like to quote you part of my speech from Ed and Jodi's wedding...

"When I tell stories of the things I have done, places I have been, and the people I have met, more often than not, that story starts out with "Yeah, was this one time that me and Ed... We ah...", from there the people, places and things all change, but there is always that one constant... "Me and Ed..." We've been through thick and thin together. There isn't much we haven't encountered at one time or another, and he has always been there for me -regardless. Let me tell you, friends like this come along only once in a lifetime, and I consider myself lucky to have Ed as that friend in my life."

When I was younger, and thinking about how my life would turn out, being the "father of five" was NOT part of that plan. My plan involved a lot more hanging out with Ed & friends, hunting, fishing, camping, and outdoor stuff, but (honestly) with the responsibilities that come with my family, it would be (and embarrassingly, has been) all to easy to pass on the opportunities to enjoy these things.

Ed has (over the years) NEVER given up on me. I have made, and then had to break plans. I have been unable to accept his inventions more times that I even care to think about. I am always worried that Ed will finally "give up" on his pathetic friend (me) and just "move on" to someone who is more "available".

I am so thankful that this has never happened. Ed is always trying to keep me involved (for which I thank him more than he will ever realize) in these things that we both enjoy so much, and he is so accepting when it happens that I am unable to attend. He has such a great way of balancing his "peer pressure" trying to get me to join him, and "acceptance" of when I am unable to join him.

This weekend was a perfect example of one of these times, and why I am so lucky to have a lifelong friend like Ed in my life...

Ed - (I know you are reading this), I want to thank you for being the greatest friend a guy could ask for. I want to thank you for not giving up on me over all these years. I wanted to thank you for being that "devil on my shoulder" that gives me a little "balance" between the old me, and what I have become over the years, while still respecting who I am now (as a father of five).

You are the greatest, and this one (my lifelong friend) is dedicated to you! I Thank you more than you will ever understand.


All the Gory Details.

If you have not yet done so, please read my prior entry titled "That Burning Ring of Fire".

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The good news is I do not believe I did any permanent damage (like a herniated esophagus) two nights ago. Today I feel no more pain or pressure unless I start to laugh or cough, and was indeed able to eat solid food last night. We had pancakes (not just for breakfast anymore), which are pretty soft, but also pretty "pasty", so they went down with a lot of milk... They made it down without a hitch... It still hurts when I laugh, so I think I may have stressed my rib cage from the prolonged, yet useless attempts at vomiting, but that is a yet an untold story. So, without further ado, let me tell you about the evening I spent in "Hell on Earth"...

Be warned, there are some graphic descriptions of bodily functions... Continue at your own risk...

On Tuesday, after work, I had a few hours to "kill". I had talked to Michele, and (because I was already up in the metro area) I was going to shop for some specific Christmas gifts that we have not yet been able to find. I was not far from the Mall of America, so (for the first time in about a year) I decided to look for the gifts there. I had stopped into two different stores looking for the items, but neither had any left in stock. I started wandering that behemoth of a mall, stopping in a couple of other stores trying to locate an "alternative" gift idea. I knew I would not be home until 10 PM, so I decided that I was going to stop and get a bite to eat.

Before I go on any further, I need to fill you in on a couple of other little tidbits. Back (before I was married) when I lived in Mankato, and worked at "Minnesota Warehouse Furniture", I worked with a guy who liked to get lunch from "Long John Silver's". Long John Silver's (hereafter refereed to as LJS) is a fast-food seafood place. We used to get it about once a week, and I got to quite like it. When we moved away from Mankato and back to the metro area, I lost access to LJS, as there was none in the area that I lived. Only once in the next five years did we make it back to Mankato, and while in Mankato we did stop at LJS for lunch. It did taste good, but it was much less impressive than I remembered. By the end of the meal, I did not feel well, and thought that it would be my last visit LJS. Fast forward five years, while visiting my sister, and my sister-in-law, in Dallas Texas, I foun d a LJS, and insisted we have lunch there. Again, the food tasted good, but not as good as I remembered it from last time (which you may remember, was not as good as the time before that - So, let's say the food was "ok"...) I ate way too much, and got "hung up", so I told myself and my wife that I just had my last LJS meal. Fast forward another five years, and you will find me shopping for a Christmas Gift at the Mall of America on 12-12-06...

As I walked around the Mall, I remembered that a LJS had opened in one of the food courts. Seeing as I was alone, and hungry, and the last LJS's experience was five years behind me, I decided that it was time to give LJS another chance.

I spent an unusually long time trying to decided what to have. I like their "fish plank", and LOVE their clams, I do not care for the chicken, and could not care less about the fries. The cole slaw is pretty good, and of course I like a bite or two of the "hush puppies" that they give out with each meal, (but never eat both of them). After much debate, and keeping in mind that I have been trying to eat a little healthier, I decided on the clam plate and pass on the "add-on" plank of fish.

I ate, without issue, but did notice about half way thru my meal that I had not yet touched my beverage. This could cause a problem, but since it had not yet, I was not too worried about it (the food is greasy enough). I did have a few sips at this point, but continued finishing my dinner. I was now getting that feeling of having eaten too much, yet I had not eaten all that much (nor had I drank much beverage). The "volume" of what I had eaten was not all that great, and so decided that it was time to be finished. I started feeling unusually "warm". I took my tray to the trash and threw it in, keeping the beverage with me to finish. I had taken another two sips before I started feeling seriously ill, like I had eaten WAY too much. I felt like I was going to vomit. I tossed the beverage in the trash (knowing that I would never be able to finish it anyway) and started walking around the Mall, thinking that a walk would do me some good (exercise, and settling my dinner).

As I walked I could feel my esophagus start to contract and within minutes, I was in a full blown Shatzki's Ring attack (only this time I had not felt the ring start to close up, and I had an esophagus full of pasty greasy clams, french fries, and a hush puppy. Within minutes the pain was so excruciating, I could not even walk. I found a bench to sit at for a couple of minutes. People were looking at me as they walked by as if they could tell something was wrong. After a few minutes, I got up and walked as far as I could to another bench, and had to sit down before I collapsed. I hop-scotched my way around the Mall like this until I got to the other food court. There I sat at a table, and tried to relax. By this time I could hardly stand the pain. I decided I was going to try and push whatever blockage was in the way down with water (like I usually do). I got up, and tried to drink some water, but that got me no where. I could not get the water down, and the waves of pain, and the heat I was feeling was quite frankly - overwhelming. STRIKE ONE.

I stepped into the restroom to wash my face, and in the mirror starring back at me was the most pasty white, sweaty thing I had ever seen. It was no wonder people were looking at me. I looked ill. I went back out and found a quiet table to sit down at, which I did. As I sat and tried to relax the waves of pain kept coming, and kept getting stronger. I at one point (while not actually crying) had tears welling up in my eyes from the pain. I noticed a Mall Housekeeping employee watching me as he was cleaning tables. He was quite a few tables away from me, but kept watching me as he cleaned his table. Fearful this guy would talk to me, or worse yet, call security, the police and an ambulance, I got up to try the water trick again... STRIKE TWO.

I again returned to the table, and tried to relax as the waves of now crushing pain came and went. The housekeeping guy was now much closer, and still looking at me like there was something wrong. He kept washing tables closer and closer, and looked like he wanted to ask me something, but I just kept putting my head down. Within a few minutes, this guy was right next to me, cleaning a table and garbage can next to my table. He was washing the table behind him, facing me as he did so. I was now in so much pain, sweating like a banshee, and had this guy creeping me out. One more attempt at the water trick... STRIKE THREE.

I was outta there. This was going from bad to worse, and very quickly. Now I have debilitating waves of pain, sweat pouring down my face, a pasty white complexion, and now an esophagus full of food, and water that wanted to "evacuate" itself (if you know what I mean). I was not about to vomit at the Mall of America in front of God and everyone, so I decided I was going to (as quickly as I could) make my way to my car, and then try and lay the seat back and relax a bit. This way, I could vomit out into the parking lot, and not have so many people around, nor would it be a difficult "clean up".

As I made it around the mall (bench to bench), I started having to "spit" into garbage cans. My mouth was producing copious amounts of saliva (in an attempt to try and lubricate whatever was blocking my esophagus - this is a frequent occurrence during a Shatzki's Ring attack), but there was no room for it to go. My mouth was filling with saliva, so I had to keep getting rid of it. I tried to only use garage cans that were not in direct site of people. As I made it to the entrance, I was sure I would not make it to my car before vomiting, but that would be ok because (at least) I was now out in the parking ramp. As I made it to my car, I was in desperate need to just lay down and relax. I walked to my car, and did not notice the vehicle slowly following behind me. When I reached my car, and climbed in I noticed the guy with the blinker on waiting for me to pull out of my parking spot. This was not the stress I need ed at this point, so rather than just sit in my car, I would pull out, and go find an empty parking lot to vomit in, and then try to relax.

As I drove thru the parking ramp at the Mall, I have never been so close to vomiting. I actually at one point was grasping at my throat in an attempt to keep from vomiting in the car. I got stuck at the signal to exit the Mall of America property, but finally made the turn to Killebrew Drive, and got into the left turn to go NB on 24th. It was here that holding back my own esophagus of bile started to overtake me. I could now taste it, and was actually making gagging noises. Worse yet, when the light should have turned green, it did not because MTC's Light Rail Train crossed the intersection. The train caused the signals to go back and reopen opposite traffic patterns, and keeping me sitting at my red light. After the first train passed, just before the light turned green for me, another train (going back from where the first train came from) entered the intersection, causing another light cycle to be missed a second time.

When I finally made the turn, it struck me that the pressure from holding back vomit was actually stronger than pain caused by my esophagus contracting, and that is not an easy feat... let me tell you. I make my way into the abandoned "Kelly" parking lot, pulled up to a patch of overgrown weeds that have come up thru the pavement, opened the car door, leaned over, and.... made some useless dry heaving sounds. Nothing. I try again, and again, and again... Over and over... Nothing coming up. Oh, it's still all there, I can feel it.. But nothing is making a hasty exit. I try and relax for a few minutes, and go back to the ol' dry-heaves. Still nothing. Thinking perhaps the blockage made it past the Shatzki's Ring, I take a sip of soda, and... feel that bubbling in my esophagus - not going anywhere... With new fluids in my throat, I start to think that I can now "prime the vomiting pump" and try again... and a gain... and again... Nothing.

Now I start to worry about Mall Security (who patrol this parking lot) or the Bloomington Police (who also patrol this lot) may be showing up at anytime now. God knows - for reasons that some of my readers will understand, and others will not - I DID NOT want a Bloomington Police Officer to come out here and watch me vomit... That would just be too "over the top". If you don't understand why, do not bother asking... Just aint' gonna go there....

Feeling the pressure of MOA Security and the Police, I decided to make an exit from this lot, find another and continue the task at hand. I left the Kelly lot, heading east. The road I was driving on turned into the entrance to the 28th Ave LRT Station. Again, knowing what I know about this parking lot, I decided that this lot (Patrolled by the Bloomington Police, and the Metropolitan Transit Police) was another place to NOT try vomiting. I made my way back out of the LRT lot. As you exit the LRT lot, there is a signal light. I am stopped at the red light (waiting for it to turn green), when I hear the familiar ding-ding-ding sounds of the rail crossing arms drop down. The red light I am sitting at does not turn green, and now I can see the LRT coming down the tracks. After only one missed red light cycle, I was back on my way. Driving back down past the Kelly lot, not knowing where to g o next, and having that "vomits" pressure in my throat, I decided to pull back into the Kelly lot. I went back to "my" spot, and went thru the whole process again... (Door, lean, wretch, lean, wretch, lean, wretch). I had more than I could take by this point, and so I tried the old reliable "finger down the back of your throat" trick. (Warning.. here's where it will get icky). Over and over, I gagged myself. My stomach, diaphragm, rib cage, and esophagus all ached, but I was still not getting anything up. Over, and over, again, and again until finally I started choking up (not vomiting) bile. It was my esophagus full of my own saliva, with a dash of other bits sprinkled in. I kept at this until nothing more came up (about a dozen tries), and decided now was the time to make a hasty retreat.

If you are not familiar with this area, see the link "The Scene of the Crime" on the bottom of this post.

I was feeling a little better, but drained. I was so exhausted, and sweaty, and hot - then cold - then hot again. I drove away from the Mall, aimlessly not knowing where to go next. I knew I needed to stretch the seat out, lay down, and relax a bit - but I needed somewhere I could do this. I took another sip of soda, and could feel that the pop was either sitting in, or only just barley draining from my esophagus. I found my way to the parking lot where I work, pulled in behind a large trailer, laid the seat back and laid there relaxing. I could actually feel the Shatzki's Ring starting to relax a bit, and because there was nothing left in the esophagus, the pain was now significantly reduced. After an hour I again tried a drink of soda. Feeling pretty good that the soda was (at least) slowing passing the Shatzki's Ring, I headed out to pick up my son.

After picking him up, and taking him home, I made my way home. I still just felt terrible, and was hoping that a night's sleep would relax me enough that I would awake feeling much better in the morning.

Wendsday morning, I was still feeling tightness and a slight discomfort in the sternum area, so I decided I was not going to eat at all that day. Honestly, I was afraid to. I had one can of Mountain Dew, and I was so cautious with that, it took me 8 hours to drink it.

By dinner time Wednsday night, I was so hungry that I was going to attempt trying some soft foods for dinner. My wife had planned pancakes. I very carefully tried just one with lots of milk, and when that one went down, I had another. It appeared that my esophagus was now back open again.

It was not really until 2 AM Thursday morning (when I had to get up for work) that I really felt like things were back to normal. Oh, yes - it still hurts a little bit when I laugh, or cough, but I'll call it a 95% recovery so far, and that - I am happy with.

From the time I sat down to eat (when this whole debacle started on Tuesday night), until the time I felt it was not affecting me anymore (Thursday morning) made for a 33 hour ordeal. Of those 33 hours, I would say I felt the effects of this for 27 hours, and of the 27 hours of feeling effects, about 3 hours were completely horrific - with the remaining 24 spent in discomfort, feeling anxiety and fear.)

I am making this vow to myself, to my wife and family, to you (my faithful readers), and to the rest of the world (any casual one-time readers). Even though I do not blame Long John Silver's food for doing this to me, and even though I give the food an "o.k." rating (and I am sure sometime in the next 5 years, I'll get a "craving")...


Now... Since this ordeal is all over, and documented... I can get past it...
Thanks for listening!


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"The scene of the crime"

That Burning Ring of Fire

For those of you who have known me long enough, you may know that I, like my father (from whom I inherited it, and can forever thank) suffer with a "condition" that I have lived with, and dealt with my whole life. It does not affect me every day, but when it hits, it hits hard.
When I was younger I would call it "food stuck in my throat". I later called it "getting hung up". I grew up watching my dad suffer through his attacks. He would sit at the table, not finish eating, frequently writhe in pain and then after a while would have to get up from the table, and use the bathroom to do whatever he does to try and halt the attack.
The pain can be excruciating, and is debilitating. At it's worst, trying to do ANYTHING is next to impossible. I want to claw open my chest cavity to relieve the pressure. It feels like the area just beneath your sternum is going to explode. It burns, and contracts with waves of pain and then relief, pain and then relief again. This can go on for hours. I turn pale, and sweat - not just "glistening" sweat, but "beads of water running down my face", and "wet hair" sweat. I would say my "average" attack lasts somewhere between 60-90 minutes.
I never really knew what this "officially" was until it hospitalized my father, and he was diagnosed and treated for it.
What is this horrible condition? It is called several things. Like I said, I call it "getting hung up", I have heard it called "steakhouse syndrome", but is officially known as a Schatzki's Ring. What is a Schatzki's Ring? Well, long story short... A Schatzki's Ring is a fibrous muscular ring that sits at the top of the stomach where the esophagus attaches. It will at times constrict, causing a partial or full blockage of the esophagus, sometimes catching and holding food in it's clutches, and other times just causing enough blockage to create a problem. Thankfully I have never had a problem with food getting caught in the ring, or had a full blockage. My problem comes from eating food that is too dry, or not having enough fluids with my meal. If whatever goes down my throat is not "slipery" enough, it will irritate my Schatzki's Ring, and cause it to start to constrict. Mixed nuts, Peanut butter, and anything "pasty" will almost always bring on an episode. I have also found that some foods can irritate the ring, and bring on the contractions. Acid in a lot of fresh fruits frequently bring on an episode. As long as I have had something to eat just before and have a little something after fruit, it's not too bad. Strong alcoholic drinks will also cause my Schatzki's Ring to constrict. I have to eat something with, or mix my drinks weaker. Shots will frequently cause me problems. As long as it's just liquid I am ingesting, it's not too bad, but when I am eating, and the ring constricts, my esophagus will then constrict in waves trying to push the food into the stomach, against the already constricted Schatzki's ring. Picture (if you will) the act of milking a cow - only at the bottom of the utter, there is no opening. You just keep starting at the top, and squeezing downward trying to squeeze out whatever is there, and having no where to go.
I consider myself lucky. I am fortunate in that I can actually start to feel the ring constrict, and I have (over the years) discovered methods to minimize, reduce or even sometimes eliminate the condition from the first signs of symptoms. When this happens, I have about 30 seconds to "force" whatever is in my esophagus down before the ring tightens. This is done by drinking a large amount of fluid - hard and fast! It HURTS LIKE HELL when I do it, and sometimes I have to swallow (the same fluid) two or three times as it will not always go down (due to the partial blockage), but eventually I can use fluid pressure (much like a toilet plunger) to force whatever is in my esophagus down into my stomach before the ring is too tight. Then as my esophagus contracts against the ring, there is no food present to cause any significant pressure, and the pain is noticeably reduced. With food present, I would put the pain a 7 of 10. With an empty esophagus the pain is about a 3 out of 10, and I can usually still just go about my daily business. (It's more like a bad case of heartburn.)
I have for years teased my dad about how "not a big deal" this is, and how he needs to learn how to just gulp fluids until it has cleared itself. He tells me that he cant do that, and how he needs to just sit, relax and let it work itself out. I shake my head, and continue on my day in disbelief.
For more information about Schatzki's Ring, visit...
Well... Last night, this all changed. I had the worst Schatzki Ring attack that I have ever had the displeasure of living through. In fact, nineteen hours later, and I can still feel the constricted ring. As I type this, I have what I would call a "discomfort" that I would put at about a 1.5 out of 10 on the pain scale, and frankly, I am scared to try and eat anything "solid". I have been slowly drinking fluids, and so I know that there is not a full blockage. I am not sure if the pain I am feeling is a constricted ring, herniated esophagus, or just pain from a sore rib cage after the (nearly 30 minutes) of useless attempted vomiting... Either way, it is not pleasant.
Yesterday's events deserve their own post, but will create a post that is much too big if combined with this one. So, watch for the upcoming full story on yesterday's Schatzki episode...

Would be funny if it was not so true...

An email I reiceved today. It hit WAY too close to home...


  • A king-size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2000 sq. ft. house 4 inches deep.
  • If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.
  • A 3-year-boy's voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.
  • If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42-pound boy wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20 x 20 ft. room.
  • You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on. When using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way. The glass in windows (even double-pane) doesn't stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.
  • When you hear the toilet flush and the words "uh oh," it's already too late.
  • Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it.
  • A six-year-old boy can start a fire with a flint rock, even though a 36-year-old man says they can do it only in the movies.
  • Certain Legos will pass through the digestive tract of a 4 year old boy.
  • Play dough and microwave should not be used in the same sentence.
  • Super glue is forever.
  • No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can't walk on water.
  • Pool filters do not like Jell-O.
  • VCRs do not eject "PB & J" sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.
  • Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.
  • Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.
  • You probably DO NOT want to know what that odor is.
  • Always look in the oven before you turn it on; plastic toys do not like hot ovens.
  • The fire department in Austin, TX, has a 5-minute response time.
  • The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy. It will, however, make cats dizzy. Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.
P.S. Personally my husband read this and wanted to test the Clorox one.....men are nothing more than grown up boys.........

I am still here!

Please forgive my hiatus.

We have had some recent changes in the house, as my wife took a part-time job, and is spending time (on the weekends) working.

This has given me more time to spend alone with the kids, and (nothing against my wife) I am enjoying it. When she is home, she is the first choice in reading books, fixing hair, helping with schoolwork, and tucking into bed. When she is not there the kids "have to" have Dad do these things...

Dad is enjoying his time with his kids! (Yet he still misses having his wife there with him too.)

I had plans this weekend to go to the 14th Annual St. Paul Ice Fishing and Winter Sports Show with a friend, but because of changes (due to Michele's new job) I was forced to cancel.

The other thing that has been occupying my time in the past week is a book.

Recently "The DaVinci Code" was released on DVD. I had not seen it in the theater (as a movie), nor had I yet read the book yet. Well, now that the movie is out on DVD, I am looking forward to seeing it. I have always preferred to read a book prior to seeing the matching movie, as I get to use my imagination while reading. Seeing the movie first always takes something away from the reading experience. I have spent my spare time (last week) reading the book, and am within a day of finishing up.

If you have not yet read it, I highly recommend it!


The Crawl Space

I have had a pretty busy weekend.

For the first time in almost a month, my days off were not taken up with plans. Thanksgiving was great, and thanksgiving dinner was one of the best I have had in a long time. Michele did a great job!
Since Thanksgiving, we got out all the Christmas decorations. Our decorations are stored in the "crawl space" under the steps of the house. It's a small storage area with less than half the height of the rest of the room.

The first several years we lived in the house, I would crawl in, and wear out the knees of my pants, as I was crawling directly on the cement floor. Most cement floors are abrasive, and because of that, I would pretty much ruin what ever pants I was wearing. After we finished the basement, I had carpet remnants left over, and laid them out in patchwork on the floor to kneel on. That worked ok, but the remnants would move all around, and only covered a small portion of the space. As I would drag things out, the remnants would slide, bunch up, and block my ability to pull (or push) out the bigger or heaver storage containers.

This summer, one of the local Menards stores was closing, and moving down the street. As they did this, they put their merchandise on clearance to get rid of it and not have to move it. As Michele and I meandered around the store we found boxes of adhesive carpet squares. It was the perfect solution. We picked them up and decided to store them away (in the crawl space) until Christmas time when we would have 75% of the crawlspace cleared out, and installing them would be easier!

Fast forward 5 months, and I had forgotten all about the squares. As we got out the Christmas Decorations, we "found" the squares, and made plans for Saturday to get them put in. I spent a large portion of Saturday getting them put in!

Before (more like during) and After photos

I ending up being about a box short (we bought what Menards had left at the time). Also, tired of hitting a hot light bulb hanging WAY down below the ceiling line, I have decided to upgrade the lighting in the crawlspace. So Monday or Tuesday I will run to the store, pick up some more tiles, and some upgraded lighting. I will update this post when that is complete.

I also have a couple of other posts to finish up. I hope to have them finished by Wed.


A Thanksgiving "Turkey Tale". (Updated)

Please forgive me. I have not posted much here lately. Remember the gap in posts while trying to write about my duck hunting adventure? This time I am writing TWO deer hunting adventures, and they are taking up my creative juices.

This story could fit into the theme of my Outdoor Journal blog, but I decided to put it here. This blog needed an update, and it's not really a "Outdoor" entry.

This story is completely true. It sounds almost made up, but I promise you it is not.

First I would like to share my condolonces to the Cobbs family and problems these turkeys have caused them and their home. Wild animals that get trapped into people's homes do a significant amount of damage.

Next, you need to know that I maintain the "Deer List" at work. I keep names and numbers of people who are willing to take a recently killed deer in the city for the venison. I have done this for many years because I hate to see the the animial go to waste. If some good can come out of a bad situation, I want to do my part to be part of the solution. There are (after all) many people who are willing to take a deer that was hit by a car, or one that our officers had to "dispatch" for one reason or another.

Yesterday (Thanksgiving Day), while working, my partner took a 911 call about a wild turkey that crashed thru a homeowners window and was tearing up their house.

About a year ago this same thing happened. Frequently the turkeys are significantly injured when this happens. I sent out a message to our officers that if the turkey was indeed severely injured, and the homeowner or any of the officers did not want the carcass, I would love to take it! Unfortunately for me, the officer I dispatched is also an avid hunter, and he got the turkey.

This year, that officer was not working, and I (again) sent out a message to all the squads that if the turkey was indeed severely injured, and the homeowner or any of the officers did not want the carcass, I would love to take it! I lucked out! Instead of anyone saying they wanted it, I became the butt of many jokes for the day, but heck, I did not care! FRESH WILD TURKEY FOR THANKSGIVING! How often does that happen? NEVER - the season is in the spring! I felt that because it was Thanksgiving day, it was an sign that I was to get this bird.

I called home and told my wife that dinner may have to be a few hours later. She was not clear on why, so I filled her in. She was... Well.... Lets say "less than enthused" about delaying dinner. She did not care if I took the bird, but thought we could save it for later. With guests coming over, I agreed.

Well, it ends up that three officers responded to try and round up the bird (I think two of them went with cameras to get pictures of the "Primary" officer on the call).

As the story ends, (or so I was told). While trying to round up the bird, it did crash it's way back thru the broken window, and take off back towards the wooded area. Officers told me there was lots of blood around the house, and one of them even tried to "track" the bird a little (it was bleeding quite a bit I am told), but despite every ones attempts, my freezer is wild turkey free.

Oh well... Maybe I need to stock the fridge with a little bit of the "Other" Wild Turkey...


Seem too odd to be true?

Check this LINK.
(Article attached below)
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This holiday turkey was a home wrecker
On Thanksgiving morning the gobbler smashed through a dining-room
window in Bloomington, interrupting dinner preparations.

Jim Adams, Star Tribune
Last update: November 24, 2006 – 11:52 PM

Guess who dropped in for Thanksgiving at the Cobbs' house in Bloomington?
A wild turkey, busting through the dining-room picture window.

"It's terrible. My house is a disaster!" Sandy Cobbs said Friday, amid window glass littered on a bloody carpet in her dining room. "Everybody thinks it's funny, but it's not. I just couldn't believe it was Thanksgiving and there was a live turkey in my house."

Once might be funny, she said, but this was her second holiday feathered fiasco.
The first turkey attack came on Christmas Day 2004, confirmed Bloomington police Sgt. Mike Roepke. Sandy and Bill Cobbs were at their daughter's home that day and the neighbors called after seeing a hole in the same dining room window about 16 feet above the ground.

On Thursday, Sandy was in her kitchen preparing sweet potatoes and vegetables to bring to her sister's when she heard a thunderous crash.

"At first I thought my buffet fell over. It was so loud and kept crashing," she said. "I went in there and said, 'Not again. Not again.' He was huge -- two or three feet tall." It looked like the big bird had landed on her now scratched-up glass dining-room table and flopped to the floor.
Her husband was out walking their two little dogs, and Sandy went looking for him.

"I ran out the door. I grabbed the car and started driving to find my husband. I found him and jumped out and said, 'I'll take the dogs. You go home. There's a turkey in the house.' "

Bill called the police on his cell phone as he drove. When he tried to hustle the feathered intruder back to nature, it ricocheted off some back-wall windows and then retreated to a big pot of orchids until police arrived. Several officers gradually herded the bloody bird out the open deck doors.

The Cobbs live near the Hyland Hills ski area and see wild turkeys strut by nearly every day. Sandy speculated that the turkeys were attracted by the reflection of trees in the window.
The last time around, the officers had to kill the turkey, Roepke said.

That turkey mishap cost the Cobbs' insurance company nearly $10,000 to make repairs and replace carpeting, windows and curtains, Sandy Cobbs said.

"My insurance company doesn't think it's funny," she said. "I don't know if I can turn in another claim."

The turkey-tale moral? She said she had none, "except that on the holidays, I am leaving town."
Jim Adams • 612-673-7658 •


Sandy Cobbs displays a "souvenir" turkey feather from the wild bird that crashed though a window into her dining room on Thursday.

Published November 24, 2006
Photo by Tom Sweeney, Star Tribune

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Update: 11-28-06
The turkey story has made NATIONAL news!
I dont know how long this link will last, but here is a link to a video of the story on CNN's website!
FOX NEWS VIDEO (May be the same)

Even though I knew better...

I still used "Goo-Gone" to wash polyurathane off my hands last night.

O U C H - Damn that burns....

For thoes of you who do not know what this may do to your hands...

More on this later.

Bad News / Good News

As I sat in the deer stand last weekend, reflecting about what I wanted to talk about from this trip in my "Dad's Hunting Journal", it struck me that the name did not accurately reflect what I wanted to do. I did not want to Journal about my hunting adventures. In fact the blog description says...

A few years back I started documenting my outdoor (hunting, fishing, and camping) adventures. I purchased a very nice leather journal, with hand made paper, and hand made / leather bindings. It is a masterpiece. If you check out my first entry, I have some pictures of the journal. Anyway, I want this blog to be an "electronic" duplicate of that journal. Enjoy!

So, I decided I needed to take a couple of steps...

First, the bad news:
For those of you who have been faithful readers of my "Dad's Hunting Journal" blog, I am sorry to tell you that as of now, it is gone. Any links you may have save, or "favorites" folders it is in will no longer be useful to you. Nada, Capute, Finished, Gone....

I have also tried to find all the links to that blog in this one, and make the changes, but I am sure I have not found all of them...

Now, the good news:
"Dad's Hunting Journal" has been replaced with "Dad's Outdoor Journal" !! That name more closely reflects what it is, and why I started the journal (and the electronic blog version). I was able to copy over all my old posts! NOTHING WAS LOST!! The layout, format, and entries are all the same. Only the name was changed.

So, without further ado - I would like to formally introduce you to my (although it wont appear so) new and improved - OUTDOOR JOURNAL !!

Sorry for any inconveniences this may have caused you.

A Little Change of Pace.

For the first time in TEN YEARS I am going to spend time deer hunting at Ed's cabin. This year will be interesting, as I have an opportunity to hunt both up north with Ed and down south with Joe (my father in law).

I have to prepare for the trip today, and will be leaving directly from work tomorrow (Friday), so I will not have much time to post about the trip until I return.

Watch here for an announcement, and/or watch my "Dad's Hunting Journal" for a little background and the actual entry for my hunting trip this weekend.

Wish me luck,
I'd love to bring home a big buck!


The gang's all here!

Someone recently pointed out to me that I have pics of only some of the "five" here on the blog, so...

Here is a picture of the whole family - All five of the kids, my wife, and myself. This photo was taken in September, so it is pretty recent.


An old email

An old friend of mine emailed me today. He told me that he was cleaning his "inbox" and came across an email I sent him quite some time ago. He said he still laughs when he reads it, and also said he could "feel the look" I got.

This email was dated 02-04-06 (before I started blogging), and titled "Am I a Bad Dad?"
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Jonathan (4th grade) came home from school in a quandary. He had to do a history report on a "historic US figure". There were some rules with this report. The kids could not choose a president (current or prior), any one that they have already studied in class, or anyone in recent news - so that the class has recent knowledge about that person. I believe that they were trying to broaden their historic horizons - beyond the standard "4th Grade History".

He was stuck.. Michele and I started helping him by coming up with a few ideas... He said he asked about all the names we came up with, and they were already taken or could not be used (see above rules).

I finally asked him to ask his teacher about the possibility of "Charles Manson", "John Wayne Gacy" and/or finally "Jeffrey Dahmer".

Michele was not pleased with me.

(But Jonathan thought it was pretty funny!)

I was just trying to help...


I am sorry about my absence here on the blog. I have been busy writing a journal entry for my duck hunting trip this year. Dont know what my hunting journal is? Be sure to check it out! Use the link at the bottom of this post.

It has taken me three weeks (working on it a little bit here, and a little bit there), but...

Duck Hunting 2006 is complete!

Check it out HERE.



A little extra "exposure" while cleaning the garage.

I am sure most of you have heard of craigslist.

One of my co-workers have had some sucsess selling items on craigslist, and so, while cleaning out the garage, I'll try it too!

Need a BUNKBED? -- SOLD --

How about a HEADBOAD / FOOTBOARD? -- SOLD --

There is a small white DRESSER & MIRROR avaiable too! -- SOLD --

Wish me luck!

Thank you.

I just wanted to thank my cousin Bob.

Can anyone tell me why this is such an odd combination? I will give kudos to the first right answer! I am looking for a couple of specific key words to tell me why this combination of CD's is so.... Diverse
Post your answer on the "comments" link below...

Good news and bad news.

Well, if you are a regular reader, you will see that my "Busy Week" post is gone.

It is gone because this morning, my supervisor notified me that one of my co-workers who had taken vacation had just cancled their vacation.

What does this mean to me?

A lot more time at home (which I need and want - the good part) and a lot less money (which I need and want - the bad part).

Hence, the good and bad news....

Someone owes me $700.00! (You know who you are, and I know this post will get to you!)

Busy week!

As you can see from my work schedule this week, I have a busy week ahead of me...

0700-1900 (7am-7pm) Saturday - 12 hours
0700-1500 (7am-3pm) Sunday - 8 hours
============================ Start of new two week cycle
0300-1500 (3am-3pm) Monday - 12 hours
0300-1500 (3am-3pm) Tuesday - 12 hours
0700-1900 (7am-7pm) Wed - 12 hours
0700-1900 (7am-7pm) Thursday - 12 hours
0700-1900 (7am-7pm) Friday - 12 hours
Saturday - Off
Sunday - Off
Monday - Off
Tuesday - Off

0300-1500 (3am-3pm) Wednesday - 12 hours
0300-1500 (3am-3pm) Thursday - 12 hours
0300-1500 (3am-3pm) Friday - 12 hours
0300-1500 (3am-3pm) Saturday - 12 hours
0300-1500 (3am-3pm) Sunday - 12 hours
============================ Start of new two week cycle
0700-1500 (7am-3pm) Monday - 8 hours
0700-1500 (7am-3pm) Tuesday - 8 hours

Yup.. Those are extended shifts EVERY DAY of that two week cycle. Thank goodness I still have my days off...

For those of you who are not familiar with how our work week operates. It's a 7 on, 3 off, 7 on, 4 off cycle and looks like this.

=============== Start of new two week cycle
Monday - On
Tuesday - On
Wednesday - On
Thursday - On
Friday - On
Wednesday - On
Thursday - On
Friday - On
Saturday - On
Sunday - On
=============== Start of new two week cycle
Monday - On
Tuesday - On
Friday - H day (Holiday)
Saturday - On
Sunday - On
Monday - On
Tuesday - On
Wednesday - On
Thursday - On
Friday - On
=============== Start of new two week cycle
Wednesday - On
Thursday - On
Friday - On
Saturday - On
Sunday - On
Monday - On
Tuesday - On
Friday - H day (Holiday)
Saturday - On
Sunday - On
=============== Start of new two week cycle

The whole cycle starts all over again (go back to the top) from this point.

Overall, I like it. I love having every third weekend off (and it is a 4 day weekend!)

Another notch in my belt.

No, it's not how it sounds...

I am just feeling very good about having to drill another hole in my belt!

This all started in June. (The last time I weighed myself). I was down about 10 lbs. I was so excited about this that I decided to start eating a little bit better (and a little bit less), and limiting my soda pop intake. I have also been walking one or two miles during my breaks at work.

In June, July, and August I had not noticed much of a change. It just felt good to be down a little bit of weight. Recently though, I have noticed something. I noticed that I can barley fit into my jeans. In the past this has always meant I needed to go up a size. This time "barley fit" means they are starting to fall off - even with my belt (before adding "Another notch")!

I took out some older jeans that (last time I tried) I could no longer button, and not only can I button them, but I need a belt to help hold them up too! I have a pair of pajama bottoms that I used to have to "Squeeze" into that now fall off involuntarily (I have to hold them up as I walk). And finally my hunting pants (which I have not been able to button in at least two years) I buttoned up this year!

I bet (I have not weighed myself) that I am down about 20 lbs now. THIS IS GREAT!

Garage Remodel

Before I left for my duck hunting trip, Michele and I had decided that it was time to clean the garage, and that with my days off after I get back, we would start cleaning and organizing the garage. Honestly, while away I had forgotten about this decision, and upon returning I was looking forward to finishing up the last few things that needed to be done on the deck.
After I got home, and Michele "reminded" me about cleaning the garage - I was disappointed. I had an idea on what I wanted the garage to look like, but I figured I did not have the time or money to do what I wanted. Michele was motivated, so I "played along". (The garage did need some cleaning after all.)
The inspiration for the ideas I had for our garage came from a co-worker and friend who has recently bought a new house. The "King-of-Clubs" (a self-proclaimed perfectionist (SEE HERE)) was over at my house, and after looking at my garage, told me that it (my garage) was his version of "birth control" - which made me laugh! I still get a chuckle out of this!! (You need to use your imagination and try to think what a garage (in a home with five kids) looks like.) Not long after, he invited me over to his new house, and I got to see his garage, and the ideas and plans he had for it. Then, just a few weeks ago, he invited me out again (this time to show off (grin)). I got to see the culmination of his plans. (SEE HERE) I was so impressed with how it turned out, I wanted to find a way I could do something similar.
First, I started cleaning off the wobbly wooden shelving unit I built in the garage when we first moved in. Wobbly in that it was never properly secured to the wall. It was supposed to be a temporary solution to a storage problem. It has gathered so much junk in the past six years I could not believe it. I spent the first day just cleaning off this monstrosity. I still did not believe I would have the time to finish the job I had planned.

The first thing we did was go to Target and choose an appropriate sized Rubbermaid bins to keep our things in. We ended up choosing the #2245 - 25 gallon - 28 1/2" wide by 19" inches deep and 16 1/2" tall bins. Because they taper just a bit at the bottom, they are only just an "ency-wincey" bit bigger than the 24" shelves I had planned (even though the top of the bin is 28 1/2"). They are very strong, and suited our needs. We went home with 12 of them.

Once I had it cleared off, I needed to remove the old shelf. I tipped it over and laid it down on it's side. As I then contemplated the demise (and outcome) of the old shelf, I tried to find a way to reuse the actual shelves into the new plans which I could do very easily (If I wanted to). As I started dismantling the old shelf, a brainstorm idea hit me! What if I used part of the old shelf as a workbench (which I did not have)? I got out the tape measure, called Michele to the garage, and together we came up with a brilliant plan! I simply took my skill saw, and "dissected" the shelf in a couple of key places, and voila! I had myself a new workbench!! I hauled the 8' workbench into the place it was to go, secured it to the wall, and spent the rest of the day cleaning up some of the mess from the old shelf (Like my Miter saw, Bandsaw, misc boxes of screws, etc.) utilizing the new workbench!
The next morning I had to work at 3am - 7am. After work (on the way home) I bought the lumber to build shelves that (instead of sitting on the floor like the old shelf) are going to hang from the ceiling and hold up our new bins. Hanging the shelves from the ceiling would also provide me some additional storage below the shelves for bigger "off season" items like my snow blower (or lawnmower), Christmas manger scene, etc.

I spent the remainder of the day building and hanging three shelves. I installed the three shelves seen on the left.

The next day, I tweaked the third shelf, built and installed the 4th shelf. I had some concerns about the weight I want to put on these shelves and the method that they were attached to the ceiling. (I had seen some "separation" between the support boards and the ceiling when I tried pulling downward on the shelves). I spent the next couple of hours crawling into the cockloft of the garage, and shoring up the rafters where the brackets (from below - in the garage) needed some additional support. By the time I was finished, I was able to jump on the shelves, and they do not budge an inch. The rest of the day was spent hanging some pegboard that I bought (when I bought the lumber) and hanging some lights for the workbench. I put the (so far empty) bins in their place and called it a day.
The rest of the job is going to have to wait, as my schedule does not provide me with any additional time to spend on the project for at least a week.

I still have a long way to go. I have a lot of cleaning and rearraging to do, but I wanted to get some pictures up so that you have an idea what I have done.

David - the "Father-of-five"

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