Rufus Laggren

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since Feb 23, 2012
Chicago/San Francisco
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Recent posts by Rufus Laggren

What is  your advantage that will allow you build cheap? Or cheaper than the next guy? Ever consider working for a local company building garages just to learn the rules of their existence? Unless you've already worked with a good construction crew, there's a lot to be learned - just about everything, in fact. A bit of practical local knowledge often weighs heavier than any number of careful theories. Of course, most businesses won't be doing a "clean" build - but they will be dealing with the location and culture you are in and can demonstrate the endless adaptation it takes to get something done and built. And that's doing it the easy way, just like everybody else. Throw in new untested theories, skills, etc and life gets way more interesting.

4 days ago
My b-in-law got an electric one a couple years ago and I've tried using it a little, trimming on a suburban lot. This one isn't worth anything. Too heavy, too short, just plain awkward to get into position, etc. Way easier to use a good manual pole saw; the clippers many come with have been useful, as well.

1 week ago
There are many tables of span specs available, for both dimensional lumber and manufactured pieces.  Worth looking at 3 or 4 to get a feeling for what you're looking at and how they agree - or not. But it's not rocket science. Many of the specs are tied to the amount of sag allowed and acceptable, so you need a thought there. Then read various contractors  forums about "springy" floors to help flesh out your opinions.

Don't ever design to the lowest spec that will hold your average load. Maxing out specs leads to risky situations in many "edge" cases.  It's done only in special situations where somebody has thought a lot and decided the trade off is worth it.

Get smart about load. What happens when you DROP a large load, eg. a large hay bale? Buying and storing material for future work can add a lot of weight to one spot - eg. a few hundred sheets of gypsum board. OTOH, it also helps to have a realistic take on your actual use which may allow some serious savings. For example, in a barn, loft, etc., you may not care if the floor bounces and squeaks a little while still being well w/in it's load range.

I don't see how sistering  makes much sense because you still need to buy another load of lumber. Spend the needed to get the more appropriate material and keep install costs in the same ball park. Repurpose the other.

I assume you want big open space beneath, but one of the ways to deal w/loading problems is added support. So give those options some thought, if not as plan A, just to have looked at it with a level head before facing it in a dark alley, sorta speak.

I was a plumber and now I'm down to just remodeling/repairing 100 yr-old houses (for some 40 years). Presently cutting the legs off a big old garage and adding stem walls and new top plates courtesy of termites.

BTBT - BeenThereBrokenThat. <g>

1 week ago
The hot tub is not potable water. It also need not be "new" water - IOW, it can be reused for a while, how long depending on how cleanly participants make themselves before soaking in the tub. Thus, it appears to me that: W/the caveat that the water cannot be actually poisonous, or irritating to most people, you can use chemicals in the water to change it's behavior. This is offered as a concept only because I'm afraid I'm not knowledgeable in this area of pool and public bath treatments, nor in the area of chemical activity in heat exchangers.

Another concept: As you know, the heat exchanger is the place most of the problem will occur. The higher the temperatures there the more lively the chemical activity will be. Thus, keeping temperatures a low as possible in the heat exchanger may give the longest run time between maintenance. If you want water in the tub to be 115F, then limiting exchanger temperatures to 120F will greatly reduce chemical activity compared with running the exchanger at 140-160F to mix the tub temps quickly. But that may not be possible for you. The trade-off is, of course, that it will take a long time to heat the tub initially and you will want to insulate it and all plumbing as well as possible.

However, since wood burns hot and you probably want this hot water to be on demand, you might consider an indirect system to allow you more BTU input from your wood boiler. A two stage heater, where special fluid (distilled water or some other favorable concoction - consult the manufacturer and the pros) can be run in the boiler and the heat exchange can be  done in a coil-in domesticate hot water tank. The boiler temperatures can be higher and it's heat exchanger can live in its own little sealed world. The storage tank which is where the tub water would be heated _might_ be a lot easier/cheaper to maintain.

This seems like a problem worth running by a _good_, experienced hydronic heating professional. Unless you just want to light a fire under the tub, which could work for a while, I guess, but the tub would likely have a short life. The wheel _has_ been invented before and a good pro (and you might need to talk with many before you find a likely fit) knows what concepts, equipment and techniques apply and how to balance your design goals with safety; they also can offer you workable alternatives. I haven't visited for several years so the place could have changed some, but "" used to host a small group of such people who willingly provided advice at all levels; IIRC there were one or two who installed wood systems, but it was not common.

Depending on the system you use, you could create several kinds of dangerous risks. Please take this seriously, as you are potentially dealing with a complex high temperature, high pressure system. As I understand it (I was a plumber, not a hydronic guy) wood burns hot and it's relatively hard to regulate, so safety is a very important part of the design - when something doesn't work just perfectly, you don't want to turn a storage tank into a bomb or split a little connecting pipe and spray around 300F heating fluid.


2 weeks ago

Thanks for updating. Really helps understand the situation.

3 weeks ago
Hi Dale. Yeah, man, get that rhythm and keep it going. <g>

A little FWIW. I got 15 years on you and didn't do much for my own good from about 40 through 60, but I started from fairly good shape. Where I'm at now, I've had a few things impressed on me, learned the bad way. And I've gotten religion in the last couple years and can feel things coming back slowly as I get more exercise and movement into my life.

There is an enemy in our midst: It's called the chair. Or maybe it's just an enemy when it teams up with a PC or TV or books or something. But it _is_ an enemy. When used more than an hour a day, not exercising is only part of the problem. It actively messes up the circulation and joint movement from the waist down.

Keep up the movement, always, even if you get lazy or something, keep up the movement. Like walking 2-3 miles a day, minimum - or equivalent. That keeps a little aerobic going and the joints don't tighten so much. Sounds like you got no issues now - just want to emphasize, don't stop, except to heal.

Actively living brings a few injuries, comes with the territory. Muscle/tendon healing requires total rest (but not immobility) and time. So when something bad happens, stop whatever causes the pain. Do things a different way, and do them slowly so you have time to react to the first twinge of pain and stop and reroute QUICK. I've gone through severe tendinitis in both wrists, both elbows and both shoulders, badly strained Achilles tendons, both sides. All healed but only with time and great care. I even had to figure out how to place my hands on the bed when sleeping to ease my wrists. But it does heal. Hot/cold immersions help when you can do it. Healing needs circulation, more the better, and the small system shock of hot/cold therapy increases circulation a bit. I got this from a concert violinist. Musicians depend totally on the health of their hands and do all they can to enhance it. Very few doctors have anything at all to offer. There are no pills that help the healing and medical experts don't even know what detail processes are involved. Every prescription I've heard about, results were all "depends, varies, inconclusive, not statistically meaningful..." - nothing consistent or notable. Perhaps a nod to topical antihistamine lotions, but there were no consistent or superior results; they just let you avoid nuking your whole body with the drug taken orally.

When you have a muscle or tendon injury it's easy, very easy, to make it worse. One problem is that the pain goes away when the area warms up with use so you think it's "better" and work it like you normally would. Later or next morning you find out different. I have worked through most of my injuries, sometimes foolishly and sometimes with care and success. The key is doing things using different muscles and slowly so you can STOP instantly when (not if) you hit the pain spot. Steroids injected into the injury can work... Well, in a very severe  emergency, the life altering kind. Under any other circumstances, steroids are the worst thing you can do to yourself. They actively degrade the soft tissue over time.

A heads up, perhaps. I have found two particular areas that I'd like to go back and be better about: My hips and legs and my abs. Walking or dancing or some equivalent, every day more or less, would have helped a lot with the hips and legs. (Also, less chair - see above.) Not sure what generic activity works the abs daily in this advanced society we live in - maybe some of the martial arts. But when you find something, stick to it, get that religion. The abs (or maybe I should say "core muscle") are what provide for full body movement and also support the backbone. As they degrade, your walking and bending, really all movement, gets reduced and constricted and you start having unnecessary back problems. As that happens you start getting less confident and self restrict your movement more and it's a spiral down in the wrong direction. I _know_ this.

Everything above is on my personal record. I'm can testify this healthy movement stuff is as important as they say. Excepting for the lazy bone, it's hard to see a down side. And that's my two cents for today. Keep on truckin'!

4 weeks ago
It's hard to say anything about a situation that obviously involves much more than what you have mentioned. Information helps a lot in getting a worthwhile answer. Location, climate, long-term/short-term, budget, building type, power, water, sewage, etc.

- Most temperatures underground (is this room underground?) maintain at about 55F. below the frost line. I personally found 60F. to be a (usually)  a comfortable temperature. Insulating and heating _yourself_ often is far more practical than doing the whole environment. Above ground temperatures can vary much more so insulation may be necessary.
- Concrete often comes with water (leaks) or moisture leading to water (condensation). Ventilation helps w/condensation and fresh air is good for _you_, too. Leaks are often something you live with underground; above ground you may luck out and just have to deal with condensation.
- Foams are not panaceas. Some - open cell - absorb water. Some easily become bug food and habitat. I think it may be possible to glue foam to concrete walls, but I can't remember where I read of it. It's not something any builder would normally be happy about.

Simple, very simple, is sometimes the best approach. Light it, raise the floor if needed to stay dry and/or warm, provide fresh air, hot plate to boil water for tea to warm up, good bedding to keep warm.

1 month ago
Been there. Many times. Dry.

That sounds like a big challenge. How much water can you put on that land? Got a plan? I don't know if there are _any_ "sustainable", non-irrigated, plantings, much less crops, in the area. Know of any?

1 month ago
TjJ wrote:

If your marriage is irreparably broken, then that is a tragedy. Your vows are dust, and your word is void. This is a major blow to your individuality, even as it seems like you are regaining it. If you do separate, use it to become less. There is no human who can make you more. Divorce is a horrible schism in trust, and I hope you don't have to go through it. Most are due to financial issues and your situation seems so. At the end money is just a thing, like any other thing. Don't pretend control = money. Communication is the art of talking with each other not past each other.

Do consider that point. I would say it a little more prosaically: There's much more going on here than the nuts/bolts that you (op) have listed out. All the detail is good, valid and important - I do not dismiss it. The details are what we get to work with, after all. But... There's much more to life than Permies (believe it or not !). And in my experience we  very rarely  have the grace to actually _see_ the most part of the cosmos we live in, the myriad and vast extent of the options potentially open us  from our pin point "here/now". That's often because we have placed ourselves, or stake out, or fear to leave some position (identity) that seems, totally, equal to LIFE to us (There be Dragons Everywhere Else). Except... There's only a billion other ways right here/now - that we don't see. So making changes, evolving, will essentially always seem like becoming less, as TjJ puts it, cuz we can only hope and surmise our coming options. It can even seem like dying. IOW, compromising pretty much always looks like a real suck pit! C'est la vie. Can't see much out there, have to make choices (no choice _there_ cuz not making choices is a choice... gotcha!). Then we gotta have reasons and support or excuses or whatever to pretty up the choices we make (we spend a whole lot of time/energy creating that stuff). People are no way rational and mostly just want to stay in a warm bed!

I believe there is more out there than you can see. And I think it helps greatly to act like you believe that. Better chance of survival, if you will. Just be honest. Nothing works very well w/out honesty. So try to position yourself where you have a chance of really being honest. Like speaking up in a Permies thread - good choice, there!  And the sure thing, slam dunk, perfect plan, big win you set up?  It isn't. Not dumping on plans and dreams. Just saying, they never work the way you think. Never.

Why did you get married?  Really. Nothing to be ashamed of, and no, you don't need to publish it. But you should probably go back there and try to get honest, because that might help you consider where to from here.

Your wife _knows_ you, in ways you don't have a clue about yourself. It's good to have people like that in your life - really good. The old guy who's pissed at you - maybe he knows you, somewhat, too. Worth fixing that up, probably; better move it, though - getting close to bucket time for him. Who are you, really? What are you doing, Really. What are you (or were you)  _doing_ together, you and your wife? What are you making together? What _might_ you make together?

Somebody compared divorce to ripping plywood apart. Really good way to put it. I went through something like that and I wasn't even married, just tight for five years. Actually, my situation was a lot like yours in many ways. I still don't know if it was the "right" decisions - often I think not. But _something_ had to be done... A close friend went through a divorce and I can tell for sure that it changed him for life and not in an impressively good way. Not because of some horrible stuff before, but just because of parting what was once whole. So divorce may be your decision and, if so, it's _your_ decision and nobody can gainsay you - either of you. But while it may be the best and right choice, don't for a second go into it thinking it's going to be like donating the car that doesn't run any more.

And we go around thinking life set and done. Not. Maybe it'd be worth getting together, both of you, and taking some basic reasonable steps to see WTF is going on here with something important that both of you ponied up and got yourselves into. Together. It sounds like your wife is hurting (not saying you're not also). Do you give a flying f&#! and a rolling doughnut? Be honest. And I'm not insulting you. Often "feelings" wear out, while others there place. But love and caring is a decision, not a feeling. Even if you don't, maybe you think it might be worth looking into? Cuz you, well, could, maybe, be wrong about some detail or other? Not much to do either way w/out you meet, communicate, play fair, try hard and cut some slack. Probably a lot of slack. But maybe that's what your really want to do. Maybe. Or not. But IAC, there is a _lot_ more to life than a garden or a TV and it would seem to make sense for both of you to get alert and check it out to the extent you honestly can. Because, trust me <g>, you two have built something real over the last few years.

So what are you going to do to find out? Or is it time for a unilateral action?

Good luck.
1 month ago
I consulted the laundry queen - my sister - and she thinks the lint is normal, depending on how full you fill the machine. Dryers are what deal with lint, when that proves necessary.

She has always thought vinegar is used to set the color of dies in the clothes, a one time process. That begs a few questions, but I didn't go there.

1 month ago