Thursday, April 24, 2014

On intellectual property

Loyal reader, I realize that you view this weblog with great care and scrutiny.

Thus, I have no doubt that you have already noticed a new word sprinkled around all my websites.

For my other more casual readers, I have added a new disclaimer about my website(s) that I urge everyone to read about the intellectual property that I create here and elsewhere on the world wide web.

Links found on sidebar and at footer of page

I woke up this morning and began working on my resume. About zero words into a blank word document, I had an epiphany.  It started while thinking about the consumable content and programs that I have been creating lately. I typed it up pretty quickly as a stream of consciousness (which I typically do), so please send me a note it does not make any sense.

To sum up, I think ideas are like rivers... and copyrighting is like the river bed charging a tax on the water molecules for flowing over it. Its unreasonable and counter productive.

This post inspired by Uruguayan President Jose Mujica.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cherry blossoms

Well, spring is in the air here in Philadelphia, and you know what that means...

My allergies are in full swing.

Well, that's true, but my last allergy attack was sponsored by the numerous blooming cherry trees around the neighborhood. Most surprisingly, the tree in front of the occupy site is joining the festivities.

Tree out front

We planted this tree three years ago now. Its doing pretty good. I featured the tree here before, but it might be time to revisit the tree for a moment.

The tree is called an Autumnalis, which is a type of cherry that blooms in the fall and winter with pink blossoms. Its April right now so perhaps the tree is a bit confused with the seasons.. with "climate change" and all..

known global warming conspirator Spongebob Squarepants

Either way-- the tree is in bloom this spring for the first time since its planting here on Wolf Street.  This tree looks so good it could probably be entered in the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Philly ( Apparently, Subaru now owns the rights to all cherry trees.

Close up
Well, my tree may not come equipped with "All Wheel Drive" or have total market-share monopoly over the people of Vermont, but, it sure has great blossoms!

Let's hope we see the blossoms again in the fall and winter. I'll keep you posted loyal reader.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Creating new jambs for old doors

Back on site again, but not on Wolf Street

Building new jambs, to fit in some old doors

Its my first time doing this, and its not really that hard. Sure its more time and material, but nothing beats a classic door.

I'm starting to think I should have built new jambs and hung recycled doors at my house for a more eclectic look.   Sure, these look fine... and at a investment of less than $8 per door, it was a bit of steal. But still, I wish I had solid doors.

Next house...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Old stair header

Dump run yesterday morning.

With great renovation comes great responsibility.  And by great responsibility I mean: a lot of trash.  Truckloads.

For the past few months, my back slab has been an adhoc landfill for construction debris.  i'd take a picture of it, but I'm honestly too embarrassed to post it.

In clearing out some of the rubble, I came across a legendary piece of house memorabilia: The 1x that was holding up about 1/3 of the entire second floor.

1x featured in pink above (stairwell opening)

Now, this was a major event that got zero coverage here on this weblog.  I have been meaning to post about it for a while, but probably due to lacunar amenesia, I just can't seem to revisit the event.   In case I never get around to typing it up. Over Christmas "vacation", I put the house on two temporary walls going down to the basement, cut out the structural beam holding up the center of the house. and replaced it with an LVL.

Why was structural beam in bold type in the above paragraph? Well, that's my attempt at sarcasm via the internet.  The "beam" was a wimpy 7/8" thick piece of material.  Now I'm no professional engineer, but a beam about as thick as my thumb probably isn't sufficient enough to hold up an entire house.. right?

Apparently, common sense wasn't the previous builders' strong suit. (Thanks guys, no wonder my entire 2nd floor was sinking!)

Well, I put an end to that by designing and installing something fit to carry the load upstairs.   And, for your viewing pleasure, here is what I took to the dump this morning... Allow me to present, the piece of wood that held this house up for many, many years:

Slab cam

Stay tuned..I will post pictures of the structural work I did to the house.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

New weblog

This baby is just too cute for the occupy site.

Don't worry loyal reader: Occupy will continue. i'm not even close to being  fnished with this house.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Off Site Staircase (1)

Since I have been an unemployed bottom-feeder, I have been approached by some of colleagues on the job site about picking up some work.

Its funny. Both guys came to me asking if I could help them conceptualize and layout some staircases for them... in the exact same neighborhood, no less!

Well, beggars can't be choosers. Thus, despite being allergic to work, I took both jobs.  In truth, I actually really like drawing stuff. Nothing beats having a good game plan in tackling any carpentry or woodworking project.  It's invaluable.

Like crown molding, stairs generally separate the men from the boys in carpentry.  Now, I don't really have a ton of experience building staircases (I can think of two that I've ever done, soup-to-nuts), but for some reason people think I'm some sort of stairs aficionado.  I'm not, but I did get in 'A+' in middle school trigonometry. Combine that with my trusty TI-82 calculator*, and stair-building ego-maniac is born.

But seriously, stairs are pretty fun.  If I could build stairs all day as a carpenter, I think I'd actually really enjoy the job. Its challenging and rewarding.  I love anything where you have to make a million cuts on one piece of wood, and have a "moment of truth" where you get to see if it actually works.  Since I don't have a TV, this is about as close to a suspense-thriller as I get.

In the situation I am posting about today, my buddy has a real tight staircase.  There's a small opening to get down to the basement. Code head clearance for stairs is something absolutely ridiculous at like 78" or 80" (depending on who you ask)

From imaginary head restriction block @D plumbed down to corresponding tread.

So, 80" is 6'-8".  That number is a joke.  Us Philadelphians know that only main line mansions could afford such luxury.  For example, Wolf Streets boasts some of South Philadelphia's "main street" (aka. large) homes and my main stairwell's head height clearance is 5'-10" as built ~100 years ago.


And this is a large rowhome.  Not only does it fall 10" short of code... I'm also freaking 6'-1" tall!  To summarize: this just doesn't work in Philly. If my stair height opening was to code, my stairs would probably landing somewhere inside my neighbor's house across the street.

Anyway, this project is in Philly as well, and had two more strikes against it.
1) The house is probably 60 years older than mine
2) These are basement stairs.

Ah yes, basement stairs. And the floor had been dug down another foot or two as well.  Hence, the clearance issues.

Official camera phone survey. The small opening in question.

Well, I took to the drawing boards to come up with a solution.  By cutting out the next two joists (in the headroom area), moving the existing electrical chase (there is room to move the wires), there is enough room to get about 6'-4" of head room.  Just barely.  I also needed to make a step down landing at the top of the stairs?

Is it to code? not really. Is it a North Philly basement? definitely.

I spent this afternoon designing a solution.  Here is a video I made of my sketch:

Enjoy a quick walk through of the situation. Follow the link youtube and find out some more details about the job if you are interested.

* My mom bought this for me for my 18th birthday-- thanks mom! still using it.**
** Technically, I only did the total rise divided by 7 on the TI-82 to get me started with a rough stair count and to check on the remainder to see how bad it was.  Final stairs wound up having 7 1/16" rise. Not bad.