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Book Excerpts

Stupid Rule No. 77

How I wish I made this one up.

At that time John had almost all the concrete lap siding on the house except for the four dormers on the twelve-twelve pitch roof. John's son was caulking the butt joints and corner boards and his demeanor appeared quite different than his normal easy going self. It was like he was afraid of having me around. It made me wonder if his dad had been threatened or told of possible consequences that could happen if he planed to help me out in some way.

    The job site was within a security gated community with only a few house and very little traffic. The neighbors who lived there were few and could be easily watched for when they were away from home. After watching John walk around on the toe boards mounted below the dormers, I got to thinking that if anyone wanted to try to kill me, they’d realize that the toe boards could be one thing that could be easily tampered with and I'd be depending on them for my safety.

The next day was July 28th of 1998, and John wasn't around because he had taken his family on vacation to the eastern Washington for the weekend. It was my turn to go up on the roof and use the toe-boards. As soon as I got up on the roof, I checked out the brackets. I gave the a few yanks, pulls and smacks. They seemed to be in sound shape and secure and they all appeared to be safe as I went around each dormer with masking paper and tarps. I sprayed the primer on the dormers the first day and left some tarps up around the ones facing the north side. The west side got the sun earlier in the day and the north side got the sun in the later part of the day. Since I don't like to paint in the direct sun, you can understand why I plan ahead of when I paint. I paint either before the sun gets to the spot or after. Another reason being is that if you step on the asphalt roofing when it's hot from the sun, you can sure screw it up; especially on steep pitched roofs.

toe board brackets on roof

    The next morning while spraying in the finish coat on the house, the dormers on the north side had to be done by mid-day or the sun would be on them. Of course, I was pushing myself to get around the corner to paint the ones on the north side before they'd be baking in the sun. I got up to the dormer and my tarps and masking were already in place from the day before.  So when I got up there with my gun in hand, all I had to do was shoot it and back-roll it, and I'd be outta there. After spraying the upper right side of the dormer on the right, I walked from the right side -- to the left side of it -- and "Oh shit!" Where's that left end of the board going? I asked myself. The board just slid down the roof dragging the tarp, me, and everything with it. Everything around me was heading for the ground fast and instead of getting tangled within the debris, the only thing I could do for control of the situation, was jump off the roof.

    It's amazing how much speed you can gain when you are going down. About twelve to fourteen feet later, the dead stop is a bitch. A foot just doesn't stop things the way you want it to sometimes.  There I was, on the ground. I knew something happened to my ankle. I took the ACE bandage material off my wrist and wrapped my ankle. I hopped around with the use of an extension pole. I sat down on the front porch step and made an entry in my journal -- Stupid Rule Number 77: Don't try this at home folks.

    As in Rule 20: Hindsight is twenty-twenty, is when I can say, that if I would have completed one of my proto-types – I wouldn't have even been using toe-board brackets in the first place

    I looked for the nails that may have come loose from the toe -board bracket and only found one. Somehow I managed to drag my twenty foot extension latter over to my bed and tied it down to the rack. The step ladders were spread around the yard and that's where they stayed because I wasn't into any cross country trekking with my foot swelling up.

    I knew one thing that was for sure. Medical bills are very expensive. And if my foot was really messed up, there wasn't any disability money coming my way. There wasn't anyone else to do my work for me. The only way to provide for myself was work and I'm sure they knew that.

    It was hot out and I had no ice to put on my foot so when I got back to my cage, I got out a bucket and garden hose. I stuck my foot on the bucket filled with water and changed the water ever half hour or so. To help cool my cage down some, I sprayed water on the roof every time I changed the water.

I hired Ken to help me spray out the last two dormers. After nailing the toe board bracket back up, Ken didn't want to trust the brackets so to paint the dormers we set a 2 by 6 just above the gutter and laid my long 32 ft. latter down on the roof. I held the bottom of the latter with my body weight so it wouldn't slide while he was up on it. The jug of drinking water I'd left there overnight tasted like plastic and Ken didn't like the taste either. However, it came in handy went we needed water to clean a spot of paint off the roof. We looked inside the gutter below the dormer for any missing nails, but no avail.

I knew if my foot didn't get any better in a day or two, there would be something seriously wrong with it, but when John came by and saw how swollen it was, he cut a check $150 and gave it to me so I'd go see a doctor. I found a cheap clinic where doctor took an X-ray and found that it had several fractures in the heel and he referred me to a specialist.

The next doctor is where I racked up the bills. My foot and leg was wrapped with elastic bandages for about a week to get the swelling down. I was told that there were two different types of casts to fallow.

I wondered how I was going to get any work done with my foot in a cast. I thought if any work did come my way, I would probably need to hire someone to do it for me. But I had a hard enough time getting enough work for myself as it was and being able to keep someone else busy enough so that they would stick around was the dilemma. I had no other choice but to do what I could for money even if it took me three or four times longer to get things done, it was probably better working for the lesser wage than no wage at all.

I went out to the house and I'd drop my bed where ever I'd need a ladder and raise the ladder into position without carrying it, or I'd use the ladder as a crutch just to get it to the place I needed it to be.  I climbed ladders with the use of padded knee cap as my foot. I hobbled around for about four hours at a time trimming what I could and after two or three days, I had all but the dormers trimmed out. Ken came though for me again and helped me with the 32 ft.ladder. I managed to the dormers trimmed out and John was appreciative that I didn't drop interest in the job and he wasn't left with a ball of wax.

After about a week of having my leg and foot wrapped in elastic bandages, I had to go back to the doctor to get the first cast put on. It was a bitch because it was molded with my toes pointed downward and ever time I stumbled I’d cram my toes into the ground.

    It wasn't long before I got a call from the tank manufacture, saying that there was a batch of tanks for me to paint. I wondered what they would think when I showed up on crutches. I drove right past the office and strait out to the tanks. I worked my way to and from the tanks with the use of crutches, but while working on the tanks, I'd just crawl from one to the other on my plastic knee pads. I'm sure it didn't take long before the people in the office heard about me crawling around on the tanks, but I'm sure they thought it was sure determination that I wasn't going to let them put me under.

The work I did would have been near impossible for me to execute if it wasn't for the system on my truck. It took me a little longer to do the tanks, but time was all I had and patience and determination was what I possessed. Just as I told the tank truck driver, it was better than sitting at home in my cage. Getting the tanks painted was slow but sure and by the second or third batch, I had the routine down.

The first doctor at the clinic cost me John's $150.00, and the second doctor's bill passed that mark real fast. I provided my doctor with a ruff draft of my book and showed him some pictures of my truck so he'd know what the situation was about. I paid minimal amounts when I went for office visits.

    I had taken a policy out on my truck when I bought it and I a small signature loan I got for a new computer but used it to pay off my credit cards instead had the same insurance company. Though there was a $10 fee for each insurance form, the doctor only had to fill out two because two of the three loans had the same insurance company. My trailer was eventually paid off because of one of the policies.

    The doctors visits were a minimum of $60.00 each, plus $20 for the forms, the $30 I paid each time I saw his didn't whittle away the bill very much because it would go up $50 each visit.

I figured out how to make the expense cost less by waiting three months before going to see the doctor. Therefore I'd save $120 in doctor visits and $ 40.00 in insurance form fees every three months. The banks would start belly aching about their money when the 60th day came around, but for $160.00 savings every three months I learned to listen to the people from the bank belly ach.   

    At first I'd hear about how great my credit was from the banker ladies who would call me looking for money, so I sent them a sample of my book hoping it would influence some patience.

    I scored an interior without ceilings from a brother of a customer of mine. I hooked up my Super Bee to a power roller and went to town. I think it took three days instead of two but I had nothing else to do.

Book Excerpts

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