It's not that hard to talk my Dad in to a construction project these days. When he came to the lab opening party, I mentioned that someday we wanted flame retardant tops, and the very next week I got an update since he happened to be at the tile store 50 miles from his house. And they happened to have the perfect thing for the lab that they were totally willing to donate. These are benchtops from an old school. They were worn, but certainly salvageable and durable. Props to Tile Lines http://www.tilelines.com/ for this generous gift.
He brought home 3 tops. He refinished them by spending many gritty hours sanding them down.
He painted them all with concrete finish, and now they look really nice.
Of course, looking nice in my driveway wasn't quite the end goal. The final step was to load each of the ~150lb slabs back in the truck, deliver them to the lab, and navigate them through the twisty turn corridors of the building. Fortunately, we were able to recruit some students on that day, and my dad played ignorance if mainland social norms ("what do you mean the grass isn't for driving on?") and the unload process took only a few minutes.
He spent some money and a lot of hours, but it's a major facelift to the lab, and an important step to help us with capacity building. Fantastic. If you want to see the final product, come by the lab sometime.
And btw- the thermometer is hovering around 75% right now.