Tuesday, December 30, 2008

dICEHOUSES Shanty #4 is in ship shape

Nussy chose a sweet gunboat grey for #4. Total battleship style. Won't he be surprised when he sees the nautical accents that have been lurking in the Mt. Holly Junkyard.

Well, we have one building weekend left. If we would like to be out on the ice on the 10th, we are in good shape. There's rumblings that we may be joined by a SUPERBEAST bogged down with hallucinogenics and and army of Texan aliens to cinch the deal.

Skimask Liberation Army

After a successful junket to Menards, I ventured to Fleet Farm for a 5$ ammo bucket to use for the dICEHOUSES Shanty HQ geocache, hillbilly-hot butt-button unions suits for the First Lady and my honorable self, and lucha libre and Spiderman ski-masks for the kids (also on clearance!)

It really bums me out that skimasks have such a stigmata about them. Try wearing one to the bank or on your next overseas flight and see what kinds of dirty looks you get. If the powers that be could just understand that a skimask is nothing more than a sweater for ones face, we could rid the world of frostbitten noses.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Clearance bonanza!

I had a few odds and ends on the dICEHOUSE wishlist that I took care of this weekend. First, off to Menards for a couple of tubes of clear silicone caulk (Thank you, anomalous 40 degree day for melting the snow and letting me know how un-watertight the shanties are.)

While I was there, I noticed some signs for 50% off all holiday decor. I headed immediately to the lighting shelves to see what solar powered items were left. Answer? Nearly all! I scored some hefty 4v 4"x4" weatherproof solar cells connected to long strings of LED rice lights that will add just the right ambiance to our shanties. This is probably more exciting for me than you, but seriously, if you want to mess around with solar panels, hit Menards ASAP before everything is gone.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Three is indeed a Magic Number.

Had a great night wrapping up our euchre tournament in dICEHOUSES Shanty #3, the HQ. My sister and her husband are in town and gave us our first taste of a full house. I have to admit, it was a bit chilly. However, when we were done playing, and opened the door, the out of doors felt about 10 degrees colder. Hmm, maybe we'll have to mount a thermometer in one of them to test that out.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Mike and I powered through Number 4 this past weekend. Here are a few highlights:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Oh, we've been putting in a little extra TLC on this one. The inside is all Poly'd to retain the warmth of the bare wood. Reflective coating on the table. A RAF target adorns the ice hole. And, those vintage chrome diner racks I picked up at a garage sale years ago will be put to good use as shelves for the gamers library. Yep, this one's for players only.

A coat of red paint

After building the door and some serious sanding and that's all for tonight. Tomorrow I'm going to figure out the origins of Euchre. Goodnight.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


So tonight as I was stuck in Minnesota snowstorm traffic, I started freaking out about trying to finish the dICEHOUSES this weekend. I didn't understand why at first. I still have 4 weeks before I plan to put these suckers on the ice. I've averaged 1 a week and have three basically done. So why freak out?

Well, I realized that our co-pilot for this project has been has been Chub Unze's old stereo blasting a holiday tradition. Every year, classic rock KQ92 plays their entire on-air library from A to Z at the beginning of December. What does this have to do with urgency? Well, today we entered the letter "W" which means that, despite all of the songs yet to come that start with the word you (You are So Beautiful, You Really Got Me, etc.) We probably only have this last weekend to go. Urgency.

KQ's A to Z has been the soundtrack to our whole project and it's almost done. How great has it been? Well, here's a little sampler for you of the greatness we have been basking in:

PS: By clicking on the Loafing Department picture up top, you can get a pretty sweet desktop wallpaper.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Not bad for a days work

So, I decided to do a thorough cleaning of the garage yesterday after getting #2 out. Started this morning with nothing more than a well swept and sorted workspace. And now look! #3 is done except for the front door! Felt good to kick this one out. With the learnings from the first two, everything is squaring up super-tight and quick. My pop came over to inspect the work and drop off the new saw (cuts like a Ginsu!) I'd love to put the door on tonight but tomorrow's commute is going to blow (5 hours of rain on top of snow this morning. Temps not getting above zero from here on out), so I better hit the hay a bit early.

R.I.P. Sabre Saw

Alas, the very first power tool I ever owned has bit the sawdust. Better call dad and see if he's got a spare.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Two dice done and in the backyard a third underway in the garage!


The family bit their nails as they watched me pull dICEHOUSE #2 out of the garage. I have to admit, it's a pretty jury-rigged affair.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Standard Issue

dICEHOUSE #2 is done except for a couple of windows and the hardware. Just in time, as I am on Holiday Party duty for the next couple of nights.

Here's a supply list of the basics one can expect to find in each of the dICEHOUSES.

Yahtzee Score Sheets
Church Key
Cribbage board
One Whitman kids card game
Two decks of cards
The Book of Hoyle
Dice cup (Hobo Soup can) full of dice and a pencil

Additionally, we will stock the undersides of the benches with assorted board and card games.

That's all for today.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Our Favorite Games: Waterworks

Since the dICEHOUSES Shanty is all about playing games, we thought that we would talk about some of the games that we like to play. (Not that we have much time for playing games right now. We still have 3 of dICEHOUSES to build and paint before January 10th!)

Waterworks is an amazingly well-crafted card came. The cards are lovingly painted depictions of all sorts of copper and lead pipes in various states of disrepair: tees, elbows, spigots and valves. They look like they may have been painted by the same person who used to paint the covers of MAD Magazine around the same period. The cards sit in a plastic bathtub (the discard pile is where the drain is!) Miniature brass monkey-wrenches act as wild cards.

Try to find one of the original 70's versions for the best color and quality.

The object of the game is to plumb together the required number of pieces to connect one's valve to one's spigot. The trick is that the pipeline can have no leaks. Players can strategicly add leaky pipes and extra paths to other players' waterlines which that player has to repair before moving forward. Copper pipes cannot be broken, thus are played as solid offencive cards or over broken lead pipes as a repair. Players also, can play one of two pipewrenches as a fix.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Thanks to guest screwers Kent and Casey.

Nussy brought a couple of friends with him this weekend. We have one dICEHOUSE in the backyard and one in the garage thanks to the hard work and beer guzzling of Kent Carmichael and Casey Brewer Superbeast. Seriously someone should do a Jesus Christ Superstar type musical about Casey. Until then, catch his exploits on the Superbeast Blog or at Buddies and Hot Dogs. Even better give him a frikking job and watch your workplace explode with shirtless guitar noodling and bask in the lamentation of the women.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Never throw anything away.

This morning, I was thinking about pulling Shanty #1 out of the garage alone. It's pretty light. But, because our drive-under garage I would have to pull it up a fair incline. If I could reduce the ground to ski friction a bit, I was sure I could pull it all by myself. If I just had some wheels. I had a stack of the 12" holes cut from the windows. By screwing 3 of them together, like a stack of pancakes, I was able to make them pretty solid. The axle is made from an old clothes rod I had thrown up into the rafters for a rainy day. And, dowel stubs from a project e couple of years ago gave me the pins to hold the whole thing together, Flintstone style. Sure enough. It worked great. I was able to move the shanty with about 1/5 the effort than just trying to push it on it's skis.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Just waiting for hardware

Did a little touch up today and added our DNR# to the front door. Tomorrow, we'll put on the door hardware and pull it into the back yard.

Then it's on to dICEHOUSE #2.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Our Favorite Games: 3M Bookcase Games

Since the dICEHOUSES Shanty is all about playing games, we thought that we would talk about some of the games that we like to play.

I love every little thing about these games: the amazing artwork, the faux-leather slipcase packaging, the weird analog playing fields, the Star Trekish plastic playing pieces, the breadth of strategic challenges.

Produced by Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing (that's 3M to you squares) during the 1960's and early 1970's, bookcase games are everything one would expect from a company packed full of engineers. In fact most of the games were actually solicited freelance from its engineers and other brainiacs. I've heard, from a childhood neighbor who worked at 3M that over 600 concepts for games were presented to 3M for potential production. He also said that these games were presented within the company as Christmas gifts and special awards.

Through it's Bookcase line, 3M introduced the American market to such ancient international games of strategy as quinto, go, and mancalla. I could go into detail about all of the titles, but someone beat me to it over at The Gamepile.

Check out Twixt, Ploy, Acquire, Feudal.

These games were a big hit here in Minnesota and can be found at thrift shops and garage sales.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

First game of cribbage

Today, we set 8 of the windows and painted the non-window pips. We tried out some reflective spray paint for the pips (MN DNR requires at least 2" of reflectors on each side of each ice-fishing shanty). It didn't work so well. It's probably meant for smoother surfaces. The First Lady and I called it an early night to play our first official game of cribbage. I nearly got skunked. But, you know what they say: Unlucky with cards, lucky with love.

Monday, December 1, 2008


It's so nice working on a project with the first lady. Makes me miss the nights kicking holes through the walls with her while we demo'ed the basement.

A fruitful first week.

It's been a great week. We have a garage full of lumber and plexiglass and a very naked dICEHOUSE #1!

I'll tell you what, if you aren't using craigslist to source your materials for projects like this you're nuts. Case in point, we picked up my virgin plexiglass for $2.50 a sheet. At a store, these sheets would have cost us near $40.00 a piece. We need 50 sheets. Hold on to your socks before you do the math!

Dad and I headed down to Siwek's Lumber down in Jordan on Saturday morning. Siweks is a full service lumber yard and mill that also carries surplus and salvaged wood. Took us half the time we thought it would, so I treated dad to a sack of White Castles and gave him the rest of the day off.

3.5 hours of work on Saturday and 5 hours on Sunday and we have out prototype 'finished'. Over the course of the week we'll do some painting, get our permits, and mount the windows. We should be able to moive this one out of the garage in time to start on dICEHOUSE #2 Saturday morning.