Friday, November 21, 2014

Black Friday Blues

You aren't going to like this, but I have an unpopular opinion: Black Friday is the fault of American women. There, I said it.

Who drives US retail?

If you've been to an Old Navy over the last 10 years, you know the answer. The stores used to be divided down the middle, pretty much; guys merchandise on one side, ladies on the other, with some kids stuff tucked in as well. Repeat for the Gap, Banana Republic (which used to be a really cool catalogue nothing like the current store at all), Eddie Bauer, etc.....

Old Navy even had old Chevy pickups as the main decoration:

Now, like all the other stores, guys get about 1/3 of the space. Why?

Women shop. Marketing research, no doubt, drove men out of the malls and stores because they weren't the ones buying stuff.

I remember the women in the family shopping on Black Friday back in the day, and we all thought they were nuts, going shopping first thing Friday morning, then it became 6am, then earlier and earlier, then Midnight, now it's on Thanksgiving itself.

Why? The stores want to lengthen the season as much as possible, that's why you can Christmas shop in September at Sam's and Costco. The REAL shopping, however, starts after Thanksgiving, just ask any retailer. Extending that by a few hours is HUGE.

So, women will shop, and if they think there's a deal (whether or not there really is one: see every outlet mall in America), they will shop more, and because of this, stores open earlier, stay open later, and do whatever is necessary to give women the opportunity to shop.

When you complain about the damage to family values over stores being open on Thanksgiving, the sad truth is that it's your Mom's and sister's and Aunt's fault. 

If they stayed home, and didn't clamor for a bargain, Target would be closed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Another Project, New Side Gate

It was time for the old gate to go, and we've had the doors from a friend's old gate for a few years, so out with most of the old and in with the new-ish!

Digging out the woven screen/gap filling support column (the door used to be hinged on this side) was fun, here's the minion hacksawing an obstacle...

Old copper rod, maybe a ground strap, couldn't dig it out, so we hacksaw'd it!

Out, damned post!

Next. I squared up the remaining post to set door #1 as level as possible to measure the distance needed to install a new gap filling panel against the garage leaving the proper room for door #2

Doorstop strip recycled from old setup, of course. Waste not, want not!

Maybe refilling the hole and removing all the attached lumber is a good step, you think?

then, time to re-dig the correct hole for the new installation...

I needed to build a new anchor point against the garage from scratch. This is also from the old treehouse, which was made with lumber from a friends' deck tear-down that got us the gate doors!

Here's where the story gets interesting: I shortened all the filler pieces after carefully measuring the distance between the garage and the edge of the installed gate door, slid them in the grooves of the posts and get it all ready to pour some concrete to set it.

Too wide.

Dis-assemble, trim all the pieces, reassemble. Argh.

This was the easiest part, dump the mix, then add water and wait! Granted, after digging and redigging and shimming and squaring.

Once it had cured, on went door #2, with a little work on the jamb edge to let it close....

The top crossbar is necessary for strength and keeping the doors relatively square.

The lattice on the left remained to preserve the clematis already winding through it, that will get replaced before too long

A Project From the Summer of 2014

I want to get these off my phone, but also wanted to record them somewhere!

First is the Veggie Garden Table. It started with a broken patio table: I removed the legs and disassembled the top.

 Then I roughed out the size of the moveable raised bed using leftover boards from our treehouse (also constructed mostly with secondhand lumber).

The legs got chopped down to an appropriate height, old screws removed and the frame pieces measured, cut, and assembled.

The side rails, here in the middle, got ledges attached to them for the slats to rest upon. All the basic frame parts (4 legs, two ends and two sides) look like this just before rain stopped work!

Here's the inside of the corner layout: end pieces flush with top of legs, side rails set to correct depth (a 2x4 will trim the top gap, you'll see below), with a slat temporarily laying across the middle). Can you see my mistake?

Lopping off the tongues of the old table slats.

Removing table hardware to reuse table parts

More table disassembly....

Trimming the sides to match the end piece height:

Looks finished, but remember my mistake? Yes, those gaps on the ends because of my simple corners. Let's scavenge some hardware and drill holes for anchors, hammer them in and attach some blocks.

Now, casters (so far, the only newly purchased item) to keep it mobile if necessary (when filled with peat moss and soil, it's pretty heavy).

Trim pieces to fill the end gaps, resting on the blocks.

Landscape fabric (oh wait, I bought that new, too, oops), peat moss that I'd had laying around for years, and then topsoil (the next newly purchased item) and finally, new plants: peppers, basil, rosemary, cherry tomatoes, squash.

And, plants!

Finally, a frame of leftover pvc and some mesh to keep the birds and critters out!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Living While Dying: Lauren Hill, Brittany Maynard, and Mrs. Dubose

Lauren Hill has inspired many with her story, basketball, her cancer, and her desire to raise as much money as she possibly can for pediatric cancer cure research before she dies. $40,000 so far. She is going to die, sooner rather than later.

Read about her here, here, here, and here.

Brittany Maynard chose a different route, she championed her right to end her life at the time of her choosing, which she did Saturday November 1, 2014.

You can choose sides, I guess, or decide which story appeals to your sensibilities, or just see them as two completely different situations and stories, but in time like these I am always reminded of the great book, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the character of Mrs. Dubose.

In case you have forgotten, Mrs. Dubose was the awful neighbor to whom Jem Finch ended up reading at her bedside as punishment for attacking her camellias with Scout's baton. It turns out he was also helping her kick her painkiller (morphine) habit so she could die not as an addict, but free from it. Atticus says this:
"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."  

Feel free to ruminate on that. Know that I've lost people to all kinds of disease, and seen friends suffer as their parents died slowly of cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, etc.

I will take Lauren's story over Brittany's every day of the week.