Skip to Content Skip to Search Go to Top Navigation Go to Side Menu

"off-topic" Category

Construction Adhesive is Nuclear Glue

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Here’s a photo of my hands after using construction adhesive all day. This photo was taken after washing my hands vigorously for many minutes and then taking a shower and then rubbing parts of my hand strongly until I felt a burning sensation. So, in effect, these hands are as clean as I can get them.


Construction adhesive never comes off.

Construction adhesive never comes off.



Juan Surfo

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thanks to everyone for the congratulatory comments! We´re in Costa Rica right now surfing our asses off. Well, Kari is tanning and beaching and relaxing her ass off, but Mike Cho and Jon Campbell and I are getting two, two-hour sessions in daily. Waves are chest high, super fun and easy and not crowded. It´s a little strange to trade in the work boots for the flip-flops, but other than discussing the merits of certain window materials we haven´t been fretting too much about the house. Hopefully the rain won´t be constant in January.

Life’s a Ditch

Thursday, October 2, 2008

During my last quiet phase I was enduring a ditch digging marathon. Roughly four days of ditch digging is something I hope I will not have to perform again soon. There is something oddly satisfying about digging however. It must be some primal instinct that we carry on genetically from our evolutionary cousin the cro-gopher. The deeper I dug, the happier I became. In fact it was a bit of a problem in that I was constantly digging my ditches deeper than the prescribed fifteen inches. I’d find myself at a blissful two feet, my mind perversely sated, before jolting back to consciousness slightly annoyed at myself while at the same time weirdly proud. We have plans to install a rain catchment system which will require the interring of an 800 gallon plastic tank. And I look forward to clawing the giant hole required by such a vessel. 

After doing the ditch, we began building the forms for the foundation. This involves: String, wooden stakes, steel rebar, many board-feet of 2×8 lumber, and duplex nails. Everything must end up very straight. This usually means jumping through hoops trying to compensate for how crooked the lumber is. It’s like putting braces on a 40 year-old British citizen. You can tweak and cajole those planks, but it’s never gonna be Tom Cruise’s mouth. Um. That metaphor was whack, sorry. 

During slow times we roofed. After visiting ABC Roofing Supply, Kari and I drove around town looking at roofs. We were soon able to identify most recent roofing jobs by brand, product line and colorway. Naturally we decided on GAF-ELK Timberline Lifetime in “charcoal”. It was a close call over “weathered wood”. The whole roofing industry seems to be centered on making a roof look like something it very clearly is not. We often overheard the phrase “and from far away it actually looks just like antique italian slate!” Which is a complete lie. It looks like three tab asphalt shingles and that’s it. For the shed we picked a slightly less fancy version of the same color since nobody, from any angle, will ever see that roof. The roof on the main house will use a thicker shingle, which will make it look exactly like we roofed our house with Teddy Roosevelt’s eyelids from Mount Rushmore.

We’re leaving for France next Thursday (one week! yikes!) so we’ve been jamming to try to get the foundation poured before then. Rain is predicted for tomorrow, so hopefully we can finish the forms before the lot turns into a mud wrestling arena. All sorts of finagling has been going on to try to line up the city, the county, the lumber, the concrete, etc.

Oh! We found an old abandoned septic tank underneath the old slab. That was a surprise. It has a very tomb-like feel and upon opening the hatch I was sure that we’d see a human skeleton inside. Luckily it was devoid of bodies (and poo) but unluckily we now have to fill it with concrete to eliminate it as a structural nuisance. The city and county have been VERY cool about signing off on it before I do the pour.

If everything works out I’ll have photos of the new foundation before we leave for France. Wish us luck!

Well, The Surf Is Good

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

We’ve been progressing on the house plans, the details of which I’ll explain in the next post, but in the mean time, the surf has been unusually good for summertime. A couple of weeks ago I broke the board I poached from Scott. Riding our bikes home from that session, I told Bert that I was going to go to Craigslist and buy a replacement board. He was aghast. Why on earth would I buy a board when we can make a perfectly good one ourselves in a couple hours? Of course Bert wouldn’t take no for an answer and soon we were stuffed in his shaping room, inhaling cancer dust, making the new board. Actually, we weren’t making anything. It was all Bert and it was utter magic. In ninety minutes he transformed a shapeless blank into a sleek 6-6 thruster. I was completely amazed at his effortless artisanship. He uses a few tools to mark out the general shape and then basically freeforms the whole thing. I should’ve made a video and then time-lapsed it, but instead I have these crappy pictures. 

After shaping it, Bert told me I needed to paint it. He showed me how to use his airbrush and I practiced (woefully) on a junk piece of foam. Then I came up with a little design that Bert termed “gay” and went about masking and painting it onto the board. All throughout this (and much to Kari’s chagrin, because it took away from house plan time) I was working on a new Bert logo. He calls his shaping endeavor Progression Surfboards, but everyone else refers to them as Bert Boards. So he finally caved in and decided to make a Bert Boards logo. Scott thought it should just be “Bert Board”, singular, since that’s what the logo will be sitting on, and we all thought that was clever. 

Here’s a few photos of the board being made, the sweet (aka gay) paintjob and the new Bert logo. 

I’m Not Old, Not Young

Friday, May 23, 2008


I was at the coffee shop this morning buying a cup o’ joe, when it occurred to me that not everyone was the same age as me. And suddenly, those kids working there at Axis seemed so young. That got me to thinking about how old I was in comparison to everybody else. The US Census Bureau will let you download data of their estimated demographics on pretty much anything you can think of. So I got a copy of the age distribution numbers and guess what! I’m not old! But then again, I’m not young either. It just so happens that the median age in the US is 36.6 years old. That’s almost exactly how old I am. The difference between median and mean (or average) is negligible for such a large sample. If you’re like me and you’re curious about the difference, then read the footnote below.

Being in the middle gives me mixed feelings. At first I thought, oh crap, does that mean I’m halfway dead? I guess statistically it does. But if you look at this chart I haven’t made it to the half-line of possible age. So there’s a chance that I’m only about 40% dead. And I haven’t quite started down that ominously descending line at the right side of the chart yet, so I guess I’m actually not part of the group that is in the immediate process of dying. Not that I’m worried about death (yet), but this sort of analysis does make me feel rather mortal. I also noted that because of the baby boomers, the median age of people is increasing. Therefore, as I get older, at least temporarily, I’ll continue to remain in the middle, between the olders and the youngers. In a sense, that means that I’m not aging relative to everyone else. Yay! The statistical fountain of youth! 


Say you have a population of seven people whose ages look like this:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 99

So we have six little children and one old geezer. The median is the person who has just as many people who are older than them than people who are younger. The four-year old is the median. She has a 1-, 2-, and 3-year old who are younger than her and a 5-, 6-, and 99-year old who are older.

But the mean age is the average – that’s the individual’s ages added together divided by the size of the population – which is 17.1 years old for our example.

For a large population the mean and the median probably aren’t much different, but I think that considering my thoughts above, median is the more appropriate measure.


The Argument for Chemicals

Thursday, May 8, 2008


I’m supposed to be talking about the house, but I saw Bill Henson’s photography and was blown away. He’s all analog and does all the developing and printing himself, manipulating the process to produce these striking images.  Check all his stuff out here.