Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends, I'm So Glad You Could Attend, STAY OUTSIDE, STAY OUTSIDE!
OK, here's where I admit embarrassing things.
Well, additional embarrassing things, I mean. I had to change my wife's flat tire a day after mocking my dear departed dad's flat tire method. That's pretty embarrassing. But it's supernatural, of course. No one's really embarrassed when someone on Olympus lobs a lightning bolt at them. It's considered a kind of flattery: Zeus noticed me enough to smite me! I'm somebody!
No, it's hitting your thumb with a hammer when a pretty girl walks by that rankles. You know better, and feel sheepish, and the worst part of it is knowing that chicks don't dig guys with big, purple thumbs all that much. You're suffering for nothing. It's the sheepish sort of thing I must admit here: I really didn't pay all that much attention to how much my house weighs.
That crummy 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" scribble on the free pad they gave me at a lumber yard I haven't visited in five years is all there was to my calculations. There's an amusing error right in the middle of it. I put a dollar sign where I meant to put a pound symbol, and then wrote lbs after it, too. It's an understandable mistake. All I was really worried about was money all the time. We were doing this project on less than an Amish person's clothing allowance. I had money on the brain. I certainly wasn't going to waste any on a structural engineer.
The former occupants of my house didn't waste any money on structural engineers, that's for certain. They wasted money on all sorts of things --ceiling fans, mostly -- that was evident. It's easy to waste money trying to fix your house. It's actually a lot cheaper to not try, and actually fix the house. Therein lies a lesson. Here's some of what I was faced with down there:
I know, you can't make out much in the picture. Believe me, it's not you. I was standing right there and it didn't make any sense with your face right in it. It was a Mousetrap Game covered in cobwebs. That was the real probelem, not the weight it was holding up.
Back to the greenprints. How'd I come up with 78,750 pounds that needed to be lifted? Well, I'm not a structural engineer. A structural engineer would have said in stamped ink that it was 250,000 pounds, because if he said 78,750, and then I dropped my house on my head, his troubles would just be beginning; it's lawsuits and women in black on 60 Minutes sobbing and saying that dastardly engineer dropped a house on my husband and now we're eating dog food thrice daily. Me, I just say 78,750 because that's probably plenty, and if I drop my house on my head, my troubles are over. What me worry?
So I drew a rectangle that represented the square footage of the floor that relied on the back wall for support. The house is about thirty feet wide, and the span of the rooms above is about half that, so 30x15= 450 square feet. Remember our engineering lesson? The back wall is a Crushy Thing, and the floors are the Vaguely Bendy Things. But the back wall only carries half the Heavy Thing arrow in this case, because half is carried by the Other Crushy Thing, i.e. : the interior walls that support the other end of the Vaguely Bendy Things. So we have a 50 percent margin for error in our weight calculation. All of the framing is as charred as Satan's barbecued ribs, so such margins might come in handy.
My house is built strangely in order to make straightforward calculations, never mind the many modifications over the years. There are three floors above the concrete I'm standing on in that picture, and a roof, dontcha know, and they're framed like a weird lasagne. Some framing goes left to right, and rests on the sidewalls of the house and the main carrying beam, which is the charred thing you see sitting atop that weird steel beam/ lally column cockup I found down there. The other floors go from front to back in the house, so that one end rests on the back wall framing, and the other on post and beam carrying beams and walls spanning the interior of the house. That's why calculations like these can drive you batty. The floor above my head, with my workshop and all sorts of heavy cast iron things and whatnot doesn't rely on the rear wall of my house to hold it up. Not one pound. Which is good in one way, because that wall was gone. It's bad in another, because that means the back of the house, which had slumped almost six inches, had only a passing relationship with the first floor over my head. If I jacked up the back wall, I'd be lifting up the second and third floors, and the roof, but not the floor above the basement.
(to be continued)
Monday, December 02, 2013
My Heir and my Spare are back, and better'n ever, if you ask me. That's a peppy song, and I used to make money covering it for various gaggles of inebriates back in the day. It was current then. To my children it's an Al Jolson record.
If you just wandered in, my sons call themselves Unorganized Hancock, and perform live here in Maine from time to time, and write their name on the Intertunnel wall every week or two, over by the YouTube cutoff,. They're homeschooled.
The big one is playing the electric and the acoustic guitar, and the bass, as well as conceiving and editing the videos, and the little one plays the drums and generally hangs around looking cute. He's only ten years old, and I do believe he's the greatest ten year old drummer in the world.
No brag, just fact. If he was doing anything to brag about, he wouldn't be that good, if you ask me. So why is he the best ten year old drummer in the world? He can't play a drum solo. Or more to the point, he has been taught that playing drum solos on YouTube isn't making music, and has been instructed first, last, and always to make music with other people, for the entertainment of a real audience. Your job is not to show off. Your job is to accompany others to play songs that people want to hear. I could teach every kid in the public school to play like that, but it's not allowed, or attempted, or whatever. And I was always a lousy musician, I just worked. Only the approach is important.
That's why he's the best ten year old drummer in the world -- it's by default. No one even attempts to do what he's doing. He can't do anything impressive. All he can do is play almost faultlessly for up to three hours in front of a real crowd of people in a real band. Hell, he's never required more than one take to make each and every Unorganized Hancock video, including this one. If his older brother requires more than one take for anything, for instance to overdub things, which he must do because there's only two of them, after all, then he never misses on any of the takes. According to YouTube, there's nothing impressive about that. He's supposed to play along with an Iron Maiden deep cut through headphones with four iPhones pointed at him at all times, I think.
The older one isn't very impressive, either, I gather. After all, what sort of talent does it take to perform live for three hours at a stretch with only a ten year old to accompany you? Anyone could do that. And he doesn't even know Freebird, mang.
I hear the public school kids are learning to play Frere Jacques on the flageolet this year while the teacher asks, "dormez vouz?", over and over, to everyone in the back of the class -- and means it. Good luck with that.
Nota Bene: Reader, commenter and friend Leslie painted the watercolors at the end. The Spare Heir demanded we include it in the video. It was in his performance rider, right after NO BROWN M&Ms.
[Unorganized Hancock Tip Jar update: Update: It's possible that Kathleen M. in Connecticut isn't the nicest person in the world. But I doubt it]
[Update, but moreso: Dinah in Missouri is a peach]
Saturday, November 30, 2013
|Not up to code, I think. Not the building code, Morse Code, Hammurabi's Code, my area code...|
Well, it appears I'm going to have to get back at it.
My public demands I hit my Intertunnel thumb with a pixel hammer until gouts of Web blood appear amusingly on their screen. They suspect I've failed -- know it in the depth of their hearts, in the forecourt of their minds, in the alleys of their senses -- but gosh, they want to know exactly how I dropped my house on my head while trying to fix it. For the Lulz.
Of course, if I wanted to tell an audience something really interesting, I'd have made a mordant aside somewhere along the long, weary way we've traveled under my house, about how I once got a 650 pound woodburning furnace into the second floor of my house in the dead, dead, dead of winter, through a door three feet above grade with no stairs, halfway down a driveway under four feet of snow and with a pitch approaching black diamond, with no one but a teenager and his mother to help me. Now that would have been a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying, well, heat. That would be a story worth telling. But I put the audience off the scent early, and coaxed them into the basement where I keep the second-rate tales, and they're none the wiser. Of course they're none the wiser, because they're listening to me. I'm not that bright, but if I was a butcher, and a customer came in the shop and expressed an interest in an emaciated pullet with scoliosis I had hanging in the shop window, I wouldn't blurt out that I had a big roast beef in the back. I'd keep, er, selling that chicken. So forget I mentioned it.
Now that all my clothes have been washed twice since Thanksgiving, so that most of the cranberry is out of them at this point, I really should get back to it. How to jack up the back of your ramshackle Victorian and ram a foundation under it, a hundred years or so too late. We of course took the theoretical engineering course earlier in the week. Time for practical engineering.
When my dad had a flat tire -- an occurrence as common as meeting a congressmen in Hell, as dad favored "recapped" tires back in the day -- he'd make us all get out of the car while he fixed it. My father was a banker, so arithmetic wasn't his strong suit. All practical things weren't his strong suit, now that I think of it. Hell, I think we buried him in his strong suit, which was a bit shiny at the elbows and knees. He wasn't good at anything but making people love him. But how much a car weighed, and how much the jack would hold, and what additional danger would be posed by four or five relatives malingering in the car was not known to him. His calculations consisted solely of get out of the car, you lot. It had the side benefit of an eager audience to cheer him on as he cursed gently under his breath and deftly replaced the bald tire with no air in it with the bald tire that was low on air that he kept in the trunk for just such festive occasions.
Now I'm no better than my dad; indeed, I'm much worse, because I don't care for arithmetic, and I'm as lovable as a bacterium, generally. But even I know that telling my family to get out of the house just before I lifted it wasn't going to help all that much. Houses be heavy, dude.
How much does a house weigh? That's an interesting question. It was especially interesting to me, because it might end up on top of my head. I had to know whether to wear a hard hat or a baseball cap. Go ahead, ask the Intertunnel how much a house weighs.
Herein lies another lesson. If you enter the Intertunnel, and ask it a question of a practical nature, it generally sends you first, last, and every time, to someplace with HOW TO in the URL. I've noticed that no one at no site with HOW TO in its name knows how to locate their nether regions using cartography and hand-held portable illumination devices. The HOW TO neighborhood of the Interburbs isn't just stupid; it's concentrated, distilled, malignant imbecility.
(to be continued)
[Update: In one of life's great comeuppance moments, my wife called me this evening and told me she had a flat tire. Neither one of us can remember the last time we had a flat tire. It might be 25 years. I had to go to the Sherwin Williams parking lot and change her tire in the sleet and darkness. My father has gone to his reward, but he still has enough existential pull to teach me a lesson about defaming him, I see. If you're listening, Dad, I wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over the Androscoggin River]
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
There is the same difference in a person before and after he is in love as between an unlighted lamp and one that is burning. The lamp was there and it was a good lamp, but now it sheds light, too, and that is its real function. And love makes one more calm about many things, and so one is more fit for one's work. -Van GoghI think the worst condition of man is loneliness.
It is a terrible thing to be lonely, or worse, truly alone. No one goes crazy in general population. It's solitary that eats at your mind. Even the craziest of men, immured in stone, unable to get even a glimpse of the bright, blue tent of the sky, scratch at the walls to leave a message; to tell another that they were there.
I am not alone in this world, which is good, because I have a melancholy nature. I am married, and I have children to throw rolls over the table at one another. They are my name, scratched on the unyielding wall of the world, telling anyone that will bother to notice that I was here. My family makes me calm about many things.
It's Thanksgiving. I am separated by distance and other things from everyone except my wife and children. I do not know if I've ever understood the true nature of the holiday until recently, because to have plenty and to be able to gather together was fairly easy. People don't often appreciate things that come readily to hand. I'm a person.
We will have enough to eat, and sit in a warm room, laugh and wonder at the dogeared cards we have been dealt, and I'll try mightily to shed the light that is my true function, to make me more fit for my work. We will all pray over our plate like children. Thanksgiving is the only kind of prayer that you can be sure will work, because it faces backwards.
I tap on the wall of the Intertunnel, too. I often feel disconnected from my fellow passengers on this spinning rock, moreso each day. I wonder if some other inmate, some fellow traveler, might hear my tapping, and be braced by the thought of a fellow internee. I often hear tapping in return, and it refreshes me to carry on.
And so I offer this little word of thanks, and release it into the ether. I'm glad I'm not alone, and if you're reading this, you're not alone, either, and I'm glad to get a chance to leave a little something in the take a soul, leave a soul dish at the checkout counter of life.
[ Extra special Thanksgiving thanks goes out to Karen, Richard, Paul, Robert, Malcolm, David, Tracy Lynn, Victor, Caleb, Blake, Clare, Patrick, Andy, Mitchell, Eric, Francis, Sarah, Andrea, Julie, William, Kathleen, Nancy, Mary J, and a very generous stranger in New Jersey for not only tapping on the stone walls in our shared dungeon, but for bribing the guards into giving us a cake with a file in it.]
[Update: And Anh! Many thanks!]
[Continuing News Update: Many thanks to Karen M. from Calphalonia]
[Additional Gratitude Alert: Dale K in Washington. Mainey thanks!]
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
I have a pleasant side. It's the other one. No, not that one. Not that one either. I'll turn around. Nope. Well, it must be around here somewhere.
Of course it is. My good side is in my dining room, calling themselves Unorganized Hancock and playing Mardy Bum by the Arctic Monkeys.
They're my good side. They are me, only not a jerk. I guess that means they're really not me; they must be my wife's good side. She has all good sides, so she doesn't have to spin like a centrifuge looking for hers.
The kids have been sick in bed for a week or so. They are homeschooled, so they're almost never sick. My wife and I once considered sending the little drummer boy to regular school, but we decided it would be easier for us to just drive to the Center for Disease Control and drink out of all the petri dishes they keep there.
It's been so long since the little feller was sick, and he is so young, that he'd forgotten what being sick was. He was confused, not sad, and kept asking us how he was supposed to act. He sat on a little tuffet made of pillows on his bed and watched cartoons from the forties on a little disc player and sneezed like a cartoon himself -- kerchoo. The big one layed around like a teenager. I told him he didn't need germs for that. He doesn't listen.
I think there are four takes in this video, and the big one would hack like a four-pack-a-day coal miner in between them. My wife was the key grip, or the best boy, or the gaffer or something. I was David O Fargin Selznick, waving the camera around like I had palsy. The Heir put the whole thing together by himself, and is playing the bass, guitar, and singing. The little one continued his streak of never, ever requiring two takes to do anything.
Ladies and germs, Unorganized Hancock! Enjoy! kerchoo
Monday, November 25, 2013
The governor of Maine has stolen my children's Christmas presents, presents that were made possible only by the generosity of my readers.
Maine passed a law trying to extort sales tax money from Amazon, by claiming that if an Amazon Associate lives in Maine, then Amazon is a Maine company and must collect sales taxes here. That was about as wise and useful as it sounds. Amazon immediately cancelled all their Maine Associates' accounts, so the state will collect no sales tax, and everyone that derived income from their Associates accounts will lose all of that income, and so won't pay any tax on that, now, either. My situation is even worse than most. Because of some sort of clerical error, Amazon thought I still lived in Massachusetts, and never notified me that my account was being cancelled, and didn't instruct me to remove my Associates links when they notified everyone else, so in addition to forfeiting all future Amazon Associates income, I will also forfeit the last thirty days of Amazon income I've already earned. My wife and I had hoped to use that money to put presents under our Christmas tree for our children. Amazon Associates money is not "mad money" for us. I do not know exactly how I'm going to make up the shortfall in our income next year.
The fact that we will not receive this income any longer cannot diminish my gratitude to my readers for the kind and thoughtful gesture of trying to support this blog with their purchases. I want to thank everyone once again for reading, and commenting, and using my supplied links for as long as they lasted, and for hitting my tip jar, and for supporting my children in their musical efforts.
I hate to complicate this explanation of the disappearance of all my Amazon links, but in addition to Amazon, Google has cancelled Google Checkout as of the 20th of this month, so I will not be able to have that tip jar on my blog any longer, either. I'm very grateful to everyone that donated funds via that avenue also. As far as I know, the PayPal button still works, but it's only noontime, and the way things are going this week, by five o'clock the entire Internet might be turned off.
I must admit that I do not feel like I am a citizen of Maine any longer -- I just live here-- and I have no regard whatsoever for Massachusetts, the state of my birth. Hell, I barely feel like an American anymore. But I do feel as though I belong to a community of virtual citizens instead. They are scattered, of course, but they're generous, and intelligent, and forward-looking, kind, hardworking and salubrious, as I hope we are, and their Intertunnel nation is the only one I have any affection for now.
I was raised a Catholic, though that upbringing has done me precious little good for a long time. But I recall that I was taught, as the Bible says in Luke, to "pray for those that abuse you." So, here goes: This is me, saying a prayer for that rat-faced, greedy, grasping, porcine, boorish, gibbering, moronic stuttering clusterfark of a troglodyte pedlar we have for a Governor.
It's times like these that make me wish I had been raised by Evangelical Christians, instead of Catholics, so I could proceed directly to the "laying on of the hands."
Friday, November 22, 2013
|Copyright 2013 Sippican Cottage. Don't be de-copyrighting this. I calls it. No erasies. Black magic. Eggsetera|
You axed for it; you got it: Sippican Cottage's Handy Guide To Engineering Your House.
Blecch. I hated using "engineering" as a verb in that sentence. But the Intertunnel verbs all sorts of nouns these days, because reasons. I'm just going along with the flow.
Back to the topic at hand. You want me to tell you how I lifted the back of my house and slipped a foundation under it, using a few hundred dollars and a teen-aged boy as my resource pool. I'm getting to it. But first you need an engineering course. I know you've been told that you need to go to school for twelve years, and then go to school for about six more years to build anything, but I'm here to tell you you don't. You need to understand that drawing at the top of this essay -- that's it. No, really; that's all there is to designing a house.
Let's go over the players before the curtain goes up. Here's where you come in. I hate to break this to you, and believe me, it's nothing personal, but it's my duty as your architect, teacher, and friend to inform you that you're the HEAVY THING. I know you've been staying away from the break room donuts, and running in the occasional 5K for breast cancer or whatever, but it's true. You're the weight in this concrete and plywood sandwich.
It's not just you, either. It's all your relatives, if you can convince them to come over for Thanksgiving, and all the chairs you'll be sitting on -- or if you invite me over for Thanksgiving, the recliner I'll be sleeping in. Your jugs of Chanel No. 5 and your cat litter box count, too, and equally, if they weigh the same. Anything that weighs anything in your house is part of that arrow.
On to the VAGUELY BENDY THING. That's generally your floor. Take no umbrage at your floor being described in this manner. I am not casting aspersions on your floor, because aspersions are heavy, and we'll have to include them in our calculations of the HEAVY THING, which will make the arithmetic more complicated. If you go down in your basement and look up, you'll see rows of bendy things, spaced as regularly as a high school dropout (probably a Mexican high-school drop out at that, these days) can space them. Those are floor joists. They're in the ceiling, because you're in the basement, but they're floor joists. Ceiling joists are what you see if you go in the attic and look down. I told you all this was simple, but I didn't say it wasn't goofy.
You have to remember now, that all those VAGUELY BENDY THINGS, no matter where they are, eventually have to be added to the HEAVY THING arrow. They're called "Dead Weight," or more precisely, "Dead Load." You and your fourteen cats and furniture that smells like you and fourteen cats is called "Live Load." It's not all that important to sort them out, and you can add it all together, Live and Dead load, and enter it all under HEAVY THING and not worry about calculating it to the last avoirdupois, unless you're running a Zumba class on pogo sticks for the clinically obese in your living room or something equally exotic. It's common to use numbers like 40 PSF for live, and 10 or 20 for dead load, depending on what you're building, and who's using it. Snow on the roof, and wind blowing against the side, and those five layers of roofing you left on my leaky roof, you bastards, are all loads that must be accounted for, too. So only build your house in the summer, and when it's not windy or rainy, and the arithmetic gets easier, unless you have to explain it to the building inspector.
Now, on to the CRUSHY THING, and its very important counterpart, the OTHER CRUSHY THING. Back when humans weren't all idiots, everything in a house was sorta symmetrical like THE CRUSHY THINGS. You went through a door, or a city gate, or in my case, the portal to the jailyard, and there was a lintel (the VAGUELY BENDY THING) plopped atop two CRUSHY THINGS. It looks sensible to a sane person. Before everything in interior trim became joined with 45 degree angles like a picture frame, all your doors and windows had a frame like that around it. It looks sensible, that's why it's beginning to look out of place in a home now.
Pay attention now: The CRUSHY THINGS on some levels of your house might be VAGUELY BENDY THINGS turned upright. Your exterior walls might be made from a whole bunch of 2x4s, and your second floor would sit on top of that. VAGUELY BENDY THINGS make lousy CRUSHY THINGS when you get right down to it, so you put a whole lot of them fairly close together, generally 16" apart, and put one horizontally on the bottom and two horizontally on the top, and then nail sheathing all over the outside of it, or if it's entirely inside the house, you screw drywall all over it. Then you nail the ever-loving hell out of it, and the resulting assembly makes a pretty good CRUSHY THING. If you watch Home and Garden television, these assembled CRUSHY THINGS are called "walls," generally the very walls the realtor says you can "just" demolish so you can have a clear, unobstructed view of your microwave from the other end of the house, and to allow you to hear the dishwasher running when you're trying to watch football, even though it's nearly sixty feet and two rooms away. Nota Bene: "Just" removing these CRUSHY THING partitions results in having all the VAGUELY BENDY THINGS and all the HEAVY THINGS land on your head.
Eventually, all the ad-hoc CRUSHY THINGS make their way down to sit atop the king of all CRUSHY THINGS, the foundation. That's usually a concrete affair, the only thing that keeps you from digging out under your lawn and the street to make one more room underground to watch TV in, even though there are four or five rooms to watch TV in your house already.
So the foundation holds in all the crazy, i.e.: you. It keeps out a lot of crazy, too. People think it should keep out water, but it can't, so your feet are sitting on a sopping carpet while you're watching that TV down there. It's not the concrete's fault. It's just supposed to keep out the very largest snakes, and withstand the entire weight of all the dirt outside from pushing your house flat from the sides like a soda can ready for recycling. It transfers all the force from all the HEAVY THINGS, and all the VAGUELY BENDY THINGS, and all the intermediate CRUSHY THINGS, then transfers all that to your footings, which are just more CRUSHY THINGS, lying horizontally under your foundation walls, transferring the weight of everything but your mortgage to Mother Earth -- which is supposed to be the ultimate CRUSHY THING. Like I said, it's supposed to, but your house probably sits on peat moss or mulch or mud or sand or ball bearings or some other unsuitable substance, because the man that digs the cellar hole knows he's going to be retired before you figure out what the hell's under your house.
If you don't have any sort of basement, and your floor is concrete, you've somehow been convinced to live in a basement that's located above ground, or maybe it's more of a garage where you're the car. This is called "slab on grade," or "Texas." Don't be fooled. The concrete floor is still the VAGUELY BENDY THING in this situation. That's why it cracks. It's trying to be a BENDY THING, but concrete doesn't care for bending, it only likes being a CRUSHY THING, so it breaks pretty easily.
Therein lies the lesson. Designing a house is simple. Look at the drawing again. I'm not joking, it's that straightforward. Figuring out all the forces involved, and then sizing all the VAGUELY BENDY THINGS and all the CRUSHY THINGS is as easy as looking up a few charts on the Intertunnel and walking down the derelict aisles at Home Depot, where they keep all the framing lumber and you can see all the VAGUELY BENDY THINGS on display.
My house? The HEAVY THINGS are way too heavy, The bends in the VAGUELY BENDY THINGS aren't vague at all, they're visible to the naked eye -- from space, I imagine-- and the CRUSHY THING it's all supposed to sit on has been crushed to powder and washed away. Let's see if we can restore it without us becoming CRUSHY THINGS by accident.