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Archive for July, 2016

Fun and Easy Milk Crate Chair Modification

Fun and Easy Milk Crate Chair Modification


We all know how great milk crates are for storing things, and they are also strong enough to support a lot of weight.  They also make for a great improvised chair when other options aren’t available.  Just flip it over and you’re good to go.  However, there’s a very easy way to improve on this idea and make it more comfortable and sturdy.  Take a look at the example below, and see how you can put this idea to good use one day.

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Getting Started


You will need a milk crate, drill, some plywood, cordage and perhaps a rope or piece of cloth for the handle.  You will also need a saw as well as some sandpaper.  The first step is to measure the area of the bottom of the milk crate.  Once you know its dimensions, then you can cut two pieces of plywood that are about an inch wider than the crate on three sides.  This will give the seat a little bit more balance while also creating a larger surface area that will make it easier to sit on. 

The plywood should be at least ½ inch thick, and it’s up to you whether or not to treat or paint the wood.  Thinner wood will be susceptible to warping, and it will not be able to support the weight of the average adult.  Keep in mind that you can also use a firm and thick piece of plastic or metal instead of wood.  You could even attach a toilet seat to the milk crate if you wanted to.  Choose the material that works best for you while as long as it will be sturdy enough for your needs.  Cut two pieces that are the same size and dimensions.

Once the material has been cut, the next step is to round out the corners.  This is an important step as it will reduce the chances of someone getting poked, jabbed, scratched or cut when they sit down and squirm about.  Use your best judgment in terms of how much material to round out, but make sure that it is enough to make the seat as comfortable and safe as possible.  You also want to give the material a good sanding down before treating and/or installing it onto the crate.

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Installing the Seat


The next step is to drill two holes about 1-1½ inches apart on either side of the milk crate.  The holes should also be about an inch from the top.  While you can just use the plastic lattice-style frame that comprises parts of the crate to loop cordage around, cutting into the plastic itself will make for a more stable and secure fit.  Next, you want to center one of the pieces of wood, with the rounded edges facing out, over the top of the crate.  Make the back edge of the wood flush with the backside of the crate. 

Once it is lined up properly, cut two holes that are the same width as the ones you made on the milk crate.  Make two holes on each side of the wood.  The next step is to drill a hole through each side of the wood seat.  Make the holes near the center of the wood, in the center of the side.  Insert two wood screws and leave their heads sticking out.  Use wood screws that have tops that are not threaded but smooth.  You will use this to help secure the back of the seat to the crate, and you don’t want threads from the screws eating away at the cordage over time.


Drill two more holes about 1/3 the way down from the front end of the other piece of wood.  Make the holes about an inch in from the edges, and drill from top to bottom.  Next, drill two sets of holes on either side of the bottom of this piece as well.  You will use these holes to attach the seat back to the crate later.  Next, secure the seat and the back piece with your cordage through the holes you drilled earlier.  You don’t want a lot of slack on these loops, otherwise the seat will move and wobble too much.  On the other hand, you don’t want the loops so tight that the seat won’t go up or down or the material breaks. 


Once you’ve secured the seat to the crate, take two longer pieces of cordage and loop and tie off one end of each one through the holes you made on the other piece of wood.  Tie off the free ends onto the screws that are sticking out from the side of the seat.  You want the cordage at the right length that will limit the recline of the seat to 90 degrees.  Double check all of the ties and you’re good to go.

The nice thing about this project is that the seat can also double as a lid, and you can still use the crate for storage while sitting on it as well.  While this is a very simple project, it’s worth thinking about and filing away for future use.  It’s also one that is great for kids to get involved with in order to teach them how to improvise and get creative. 


How a Second Can Change Your Life and the Importance of Situational Awareness

How a Second Can Change Your Life and the Importance of Situational Awareness

Recently, I was driving down a congested street just before rush hour in the South Side of Chicago.  This is an industrial area that is bordered by a park along with a small neighborhood of single family homes and three-flat apartments.  It’s not the greatest neighborhood, but there are many that are more violent, particularly at night.  During the daytime, the majority of people on the streets and in their cars are running errands or trying to get to and from work or school.

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The Set Up

I was in the tail end of the line of cars trying to make their way through the intersection with a stoplight that has a short green.  We made it through, but traffic was stop and go due to a stop sign a couple of blocks down the road.  A few seconds after we crossed the intersection, it appeared that a red mini SUV ran the light and struck a vehicle at the end of our traffic line.  It was a hard crash, and the red vehicle was seriously damaged and it seemed that the one it hit had occupants with injuries.

To my surprise, the red vehicle tried to flee the scene, as it was obviously the one that caused the collision.  However, its front end was badly damaged, and one of the front tires was gone and riding on the rim.  Somehow the vehicle began to limp forward in the center turning lane of the road.  A couple of seconds later, a large green monster truck barreled out of the intersection and raced toward the red vehicle.  It was now clear that there was some kind of wild chase going on. 

The red truck slammed into the red vehicle and pushed it along past my car and the string of vehicles that were sitting in traffic.  Soon, the red one sped up on it’s own, and crashed a couple of blocks ahead.  While I heard the crash, I couldn’t see it because of the cars in front of me.  However, I did hear the sound of gunfire (about five shots) before screeching tires and an engine revving up.  A couple of seconds later, the monster truck appeared again, racing down the street in the opposite direction until it disappeared down a side street or alley.

This all happened in the space of a few seconds.  Vehicles ahead of me tried to make U-Turns whereas others stayed put.  It seems that those closer to the shooting and crash sensed more danger and tried to get out of the area as quickly as possible.  Others further back, like myself, elected to stay put and assess the situation for a few seconds.  Once the cars saw the monster truck leaving, they continued on as if nothing happened.

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Seconds Stand Still

One thing I was reminded of during this brief episode was that my situational awareness needs a little bit of improvement.  I was able to sense time standing still, assess where I was, what escape routes I had, how I would react if I got caught in the crossfire and whether or not I should intervene or call 911.  However, I feel as though my senses were sluggish and I should have reacted more assertively a lot sooner.  On the other hand, I did follow my instincts, didn’t panic, and thought things through as I took in the situation.  I will never know what the right answer was, but the outcome was happy.

I could have turned around.  I could have hid behind some parked cars and called 911.  I could have backed up and attended to the innocent victims of the crash.  However, I elected to drive on and get out of the area altogether.  I didn’t have a gun or any type of weapon on me.  I am not proficient in self-defense.  I also thought of recent racial tensions and didn’t want to be exposed in a tense situation in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Under different circumstances, I would most definitely react in a way that promotes my safety and well-being while being in a position to help others.  However, I didn’t feel safe or sense that the scene was secure enough for me to intervene.  I also considered the fact that I would have to give a statement if I identified myself as a witness, and I didn’t want to get involved in a prolonged legal process as I was only visiting town for a couple of weeks.

While some may disagree with my decisions as well as my reasoning, I learned another very important aspect of survival.  The moment the rubber hits the road, we snap into a mindset of self-preservation.  This is a defense mechanism that takes over and helps us to focus on saving ourselves and loved ones.  However, sometimes this is a selfish response, and we can make choices that we may regret later, particularly when it comes to not taking risks to help others.  Use your best judgment, and decide what your response to the situation based on the circumstances at hand.

Inasmuch as I am happy that I or other motorists didn’t get hurt in the crossfire, and that I took good defensive steps to escape if necessary,  I also realize that the lives of the parties involved in the chase and shooting also changed very quickly.  Many probably not for the better.  This incident has also reminded me that things can go from normal to deadly in the blink of an eye. 

Good situational awareness and making the proper response in a timely manner is essential to getting out of harm’s way.  Never let your guard down, always be aware of your surroundings, and consider how you would respond to a variety of plausible events that you may encounter with little or no warning.