Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mo Pichas

I took over 100 pictures so it will take a while to get them all posted.

Here is the link to the professional site -

Somehow, theirs turned out better than mine.
In spite of that, I will continue to post my pictures for the next few days.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008



The Saturday session was a bit of a tussle.
I am not sure why.
I may have been "sick". (or it may have been too much late-night viewing of REAL athletes on the Olympics.)

Several times a year some un-named and unwelcome invasion will come to visit me, but will have insufficient resources to overpower my immune system.
The resulting malady will be of such low magnitude that I will hardly notice that anything is going on.
It will only manifest itself as slightly sub-par performance during one of my workouts for a day or two or three.

The weather was sub-hurricane cloudy and warm - about 72 - with a nice, warm breeze of about 5-10.
The journey up Hills One and Two were more difficult than I would have liked.
The trip to the summit of Hill Two was particularly taxing.
But I made it.

Mile two and three were more pleasant which allowed me to daydream some.
It was only in mile four that I began to get weary.
There was a brief request from Whimp to stop and walk, which was unanimously rejected by Runner, Coach, and Running Central.
We all trotted on until the end, with a bit of a sprint for the last hundred feet or so. (more Olympic influence, no doubt.)

Then, after a shower and a hand wash of the running clothes, it was off to the planned men's group breakfast and workday at church.


The walk around the neighborhood at 5:30 AM was done in the rain.
If you could call it that.
It was so light and sparse, I am sure that the oozing bodily fluids because of the warm temperature contributed more to the wetness of my shirt than did the rain.
It was enough to shut the neighborhood down.
Most of the dogs slept in, as did the humans.


...was monsoon day.
Fay came and sat on us for nearly all the day.
I got a thorough and proper baptism running from my tax class to my car at noon.
Of course, when I got home, it was barely sprinkling.
Too late - I was soaked literally to the skin.


I am pleezed to announce (and let the Royal Chronicles show) that the obnoxious wallpaper border that circled my living room is now all gone.
It took a lot of work (soaking, scraping, and pulling) to get it all off, but it is now gone and ready for its last trip - to the landfill.

Foam has been squirted into the last remaining holes in my walls.
This is different than the foam in the big tanks that I used previously, mainly because there is not enough volume to warrant more of the good stuff
The remaining holes are over the windows and door and it does not take much stuff to fill these cavities.
Thus, the little spray cans.
It looks like it will take about four cans.

Then I can complete patching the sheetrock.
And THEN - ta da - I can paint.

I am looking forward to the new colors (that I have been so strangely willing to delay. I mean, if I am really looking forward to the new colors, why have I put up with the muted beiges and off-whites for so long?).
Actually, when I first moved in, I did not mind the colors of the walls. (I DID mind the wallpaper borders, Grrrr... I HATE wallpaper.)
Anyway, I think that I did not know what I wanted to do with my house - color-wise - for several years.
But when I painted my bathroom, that helped me appreciate the difference color would make to the "mood" of the house.
I reelee like how my bathroom turned out.
So now I am looking forward to the color change in the rest of the house.

ION (in other news)

Josh and Teesh get married this Friday.
This will make less of a difference to me than it will to Mitchi.
He lives with her - for two more days - and she has enjoyed having him around.
I suspect that his move out will make her house much quieter.
And more lonely.
More adjustments.

Friday, August 22, 2008



I am in my second week of the H.R. Block tax course.
It was my plan since last year to take this course as a backup, to provide part-time/temporary employment in 2009 and beyond.
My primary plan is to return to my previous place of employment for a part-time/temporary job for the first four months or so in 2009.
We shall see what works out.

My former brother-in-law did this tax course several years ago (15?) and recommended it.
He ultimately became an HR Block office manager and taught the tax course himself for several years.
I was not interested in it for several years because I always had a better job, but now that I am retired, this would be an ideal helper.
I would only work the "tax season" from late January to mid April at the most.
This is when the weather and daylight are at their worst anyway.
The first year after taking the course they only promise about three weeks of work during their peak season in early February.
(This means that I may have to find ANOTHER job after February to supplement my income in 2009.)
The following year, it may be possible to work more/longer.
I shall give it a try to see how reality matches plan/expectations.

The subject matter is a bit boring yet interesting.
Wee shall see how it goes.


The run Wednesday morning was useful and generally pleasant.
The weather was warm and muggy and so I was able to cleanse my body of many liquids.
I, again, did a full leg weight workout on Tuesday so I was purposefully adding more effort to my weekly program.
As a result of the weight workout, I felt tired Wednesday morning as I started out.
(Plus, I had been staying up later to watch the Olympics again.)

No matter, because I was able to keep my breathing (my best indicator of preliminary strength vs running course difficulty) in the comfort zone for the whole hodown.
And when I turned the corner onto my street, I was able to dig down and pull out some sprint juice out of me, and sprint the last one hundred yards or so.


I have not finished patching all the holes in my walls yet.
Blame that on the Olympics and the other things I am doing.
My plan was to fill the remaining holes with foam from the small spray can you can buy a Lowe's and WalMart.
I bought two and used both of them up and still did not get all the cavities filled so there is a bit more to do.
That should be finished this next week, then I can finish filling the holes with sheetrock compound and get them ready ... for painting.
(The NEXT project.)

I am STILL scraping the border off my living room wall.
I have about six feet to go before I am finished.
It doesn't really have to be done until I get ready to paint, but I would reelee like to have it finished while I am enthused about doing it.
Some days (true confession time...) I look at the remaining border and say to myself, "Ah, it has been there for four years (my time with it), it can sit there another day or two."
And, amazingly, it does.


Normally, I am not a sports person.
Once every four years I yam.

You could call them the games of the tall people.
Many of the winners are tall.

Michael Phelps 6' 2" swimming
Misty May-Traynor 5' 9" beach volleyball
Kerri Walsh 6' 2" beach volleyball
Usain Bolt 6'6" runner
Phil Dalhauser 6' 9" beach volleyball
Todd Rodgers 6' 2" beach volleyball

There are many more.
I have just listed some of the names that come quickly to mind.

And the absolute best commercials, IMHO are the Visa commercials.
I rarely commend commercials, as most of them are just bothersome noise.
These made me cry.

Some examples.... (I don't know how to do that embedded stuff.)

My brief experience with running and racing has helped me understand how some of these people operate, but in no way do I compare myself the them.

They have my highest respect in the worldly realm.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Forty-one minutes.
That was my time for the Saturday morning contest.
Maybe it was because of all the time I have spent this past week watching the Olympics.
Or not.
There were pluses and minuses leading up to todays performance.


Every day this week, I have worked on the house in some way (vents, wall holes, removing wall paper, cleaning, etc.)
Granted I do not work all day.
I can't.
After about two hours, I am tired.
I get sore.
And sometimes, by back starts to hurt.

They there were the weight workouts.
Monday was basic pushes and pulls for chest and back.
Tuesday was squats, lunges and heel raises for legs.
Wednesday was a three mile run.
Thursday was more pushes and pulls.
Friday, I walk in the morning before eating.
This is to burn some calories and lower the level of exertion, to save some strength and recover from the previous efforts.
The reduced load on Friday is to build up for Saturday morning.

But this Friday (yesterday) I spent two hours (or more) on my step stool peeling off wallpaper from my living room.
The work is deceptively tiring.
The key is having to stand on a platform that is about one square foot.
One is constantly pushing, turning, twisting, and bending.
All the while keeping your feet in a very small space.
When I stopped (I am not finished) I was tired.
And my Trainer/Coach said, "you will pay for this."


But I have spent the week watching the Olympics.
Watching people push themselves to their physical limit... and beyond.
It is both inspiring and intimidating.


During the five years that I was running races, I learned that what we perceive as a physical limit is basically imaginary.
I have heard nearly all my life from sports types, that most limitations we perceive about ourselves are mental.
That if we think we can do something, we can do it.

And upon hearing such words, my reaction was always, "yea, yea, blah, blah."
They were just words to get someone or a team jacked up so they would perform well in their sport.
So people would pay money to watch their game.
I basically did not believe such wordage.
Now I do.

My education came early and by accident.
I was running around Ditto Circle and Hughes Circle, practicing for my first race.
I had never measured the distance of the two circles but guessed each of them to be about a mile each.
Since they form an almost perfect figure eight, they were ideal for a measured practice course.
I was very pleased when I completed both circles, thinking I had run about two miles - good enough for my upcoming first race. (at the invitation of a person that I had helped loose 50 pounds and get into shape.)

I did this several times in the following days, getting comfortable with the distance - something new to me at age 55.
Then one day I decided to drive around the two circles in my car to see if I was deceiving myself on the distance.
My fear was that the distance was less than what I estimated.
I did not want to bonk in my first race.
I was wrong.

The distance of the two circles was exactly three miles!
I was stunned.
And pleased.

This was my first lesson in mental vs physical ability.
I thought I was running two miles.
I was actually running three miles.
Suddenly, I was fifty percent stronger than I thought I was.
It is a very strange feeling.
Good, but strange.

The next lesson in this area came near the end of one of my first races (definitely not the first one).
I was about two hundred yards from the finish line.
I was in accelerated breathing, being pulled along by the other runners who always tend to speed up as the end of a race.
I was running as fast as I thought I could and was content to maintain my pace to the end.

Then something inside me kicked in.
It was not a conscious thought.
But I suddenly felt that I could do more for the few seconds remaining in the race.
Suddenly, without thinking about it, my pace increased and I passed four of five runners ahead of me.
I crossed the finish line nearly sprinting.

Again, I was surprised.
No, I was stunned.
I do not know where that came from.
I am not a competitive person.
I have never felt that "winning" was very important.
Finishing, yes.
Winning, no.
That may have come from a lifetime of never winning anything and it was simply a defensive mechanism.
I don't know.

But I found that day that there was something inside me that I did not know was there.
And I used that unknown element at the end of most of the races that I ran after that.
Sometimes I tried to consciously pull it out of me, but that never worked.
That extra burst was driven by something primal inside of me.
Sometimes I would wonder what would trigger the event and would try to analyze what triggered it, but I could never figure it out.
All I know about it is that in the last ten or fifteen seconds of a maximum physical effort, there is something deep within me that can impel me to accomplish much more than I think I am capable of.
To this day, I do not know where it comes from or how or why it shows itself.


When I woke up today, I felt tired.
This was not good.
The Saturday morning run is a big event for me.
To go to my physical limit every time I do it.
So, when I got out of the car this morning at 6:09, I was wondering what sort of party we were about to have.

I felt tired.
It was all my fault and I was a bit amused by it.
Part of the reason I was tired was because I have been staying up late watching the Olympics.

As I started out today, there were twinges of ouch from my left hamstring and by lower back - vestiges from the wallpaper session yesterday.
But just a few minutes later I caught myself daydreaming in the first mile.
That was a good sign.

At the top of Hill One I alternated normal and accelerated breathing, an indicator of my slightly depleted strength.
Half way up Hill Two the accelerated breathing kicked in again.
Not unexpected.
As I motored into mile two I started to daydream again.
Another good sign.

About mid-way through mile three accelerated breathing kicked in and it was to be with me for the rest of the party.
This was early in the journey and not a good indicator for success.

Somewhere early in mile four the wimp in me recommended that we stop and walk for a couple of minutes.
The Runner in me, the Coach, and Running Central all said no to this.
But we all knew that it was going to be a struggle.
I was tired and I was beginning to feel it.

As I ran through the Comcast parking lot, a youngish black lady with an Aunt Jemimah bandanna on her head, leaned out of her car window and said, "That's what I need to be doin'". (I surmise that she was either waiting for her shift to start or she was waiting for someone else whose shift was about to end)
I smiled and gave her a thumbs up.
The thought crossed my mind that she could prolly do what I am doing and prolly beat me at it if she devoted a little time and effort to it.

I crossed Governors Drive West and into my parking lot still breathing hard.
By this time I was determined that I was going to finish the dance running.
As I entered that area between the buildings a few dozen yards from my finish line/crack, I was breathing hard and was ready to be pleased with another completed run.
And then an old friend came for a visit.

About a hundred yards from my finish line I started sprinting.
I don't know where it came from or why, but there I was, pouring out the last drops of my strength.
And when I looked at my watch, it said 6:50.
Forty-one minutes.
Wow, where did that come from?

I think it was the Olympics.

Friday, August 15, 2008


The run Wednesday was a pleasant jaunt.
The weather was cooler than usual for this place and time of year - about 65.
And the humidity was down from its usual lofty oppression.
My hands actually got a bit cold on the trip.
Work on the house and weight workouts are keeping the pressure on my body.

During my leg workout on Tuesday, I discovered a very vocal pain in my left (again) hamstring.
But this pain was on the outer Biceps Formus bundle of my hammy rather than the usual inner bundle of that group.
The discomfort was so strong that I dropped my second set of lunges after just four reps.
It did not feel good and I had already done my three sets of barbell squats, so I did not want to push things.
My hope was to give a little less stress on the area now and hope things healed well enough for the mid-week run on Wednesday.

And it was so.
I felt the slightest twinges from my left hamstring for the first few steps of the run, then everybody was happy.

I suspect this injury came from the vent installation session on Monday where I was sawing through the extra bracing in my front soffit.
Evidently, when I stand on a ladder and work a handsaw over my head, I put stresses on my legs that I do not normally do.

Anyway, I was strong enough (again!) that I did not have to resort to accelerated breathing until the last hundred yards or so when I sprinted to the invisible finish line at my driveway.

Tuesday I was inspired to tackle another wall of the tacky wallpaper border around my living room.

It is vinyl coated paper and will not easily soak off.
So I am having to scrape it off with water and a putty knife.
I know I could put the steel brush wheel on my drill and break through the vinyl layer but that would sling junk all over the room.
I am trying to avoid that.
So I stand on my little step stool and scrape.


The extra insulation in my walls and the new attic fan and vents have changed the way my house responds to the outside weather.
As it should be.

The tanks.

Now, it seems, the new attic fan will come on around 10 AM but the air conditioner will not come on until noon or later.
This is an hour or two later than its former behavior.
It will run for a while then cut off and not come on again for another hour or two.
On days when the outside temperature is over 90, the attic fan will run until nine or ten o'clock in the evening.
I have set the thermostat on the attic fan to 95.
The house A/C is set on 80.
The A/C will cycle every hour or two until about nine or so, then it goes to sleep for the night.
My gut feel is that the A/C is running about 25 - 33 percent less.
This is good.

All of this makes me curious how things will change in Winter.
Wee shall see.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Saturday morning was a surprise.
I had exerted myself off and on last week (installing vents and whatnot) and wondered if I would have any BBs left for the sabbath AM jaunt.
This included a leg workout on Tuesday with weights and a three mile run on Wednesday.

I started late - it was 6:09 AM when I started out and my lower back was immediately squeaking about being forced to bend at the angle I wanted it to be.
After a few hundred steps the spinal angle made peace with itself and everything there was fine for the rest of the trip.

I flirted with accelerated breathing at the top of Hill One and Two but settled down again each time with little problem.
I daydreamed through mile two and three and was deep into mile four when I realized that I was feeling pretty good.
Just prior to the end, my left knee started toying with collapsing.
This is not new and decidedly unwelcome every time it happens.
It only tried for five or ten steps then went away.

As soon as that was over, I was within sight of the finish line/crack and still felt like I had bullets left in the gun.
So I sprinted (such as I can) the last one hundred yards or so to the line.
My watch said 6:50.
Forty minutes? (rounded off)
Incredible. (for me lately.)
We will see if the trend continues.

After the run Saturday morning, I was pondering the schedule for the rest of the day.
I still have to put a final/pretty layer of compound on my walls to cover the insulation holes.
They look pretty good now, but need a final touch-up.
And I need to install a couple more soffit vents to help my attic breathe.
And the grass was getting longer....
But I was so proud of my performance on the running course that morning that after the usual shopping trip, I took the day off.
Certified couch potato.
I wrote a little and watched the Olympic games.

Another blog mentioned some new signs at a church and I happened to be going by the facility a week or so ago and snapped this picture of one of them.

My current congregation is located on a busy corner and it is common for people to take a short cut through our parking lot.
We put up some signs to discourage such behavior - but it has not helped.
We have discussed installing gates.

Today (Monday), I installated two more soffit vents.
They turned out the be more troublesome than the first five were.
The first one managed to locate itself astride a 2 x 2 support piece installed where two pieces of the old plywood soffit covering came together.
I had to get another saw to carve through it.
Once that was done, the vent went on with no problem.
The last vent wanted to make a historical statement, apparently.

The plan was to space the vents across the front of my house approximately evenly - about every six feet or so.
Well, the last vent found itself next to a rafter.
I've done this before so I started cutting away from the rafter expecting the other end of the hole to be next to the adjacent rafter.

The builders of forty years ago must have had two extra trusses to use up and they installed both of them side-by-side about eight inches from the other rafter.
So instead of cutting a single vent hole about 5 by 15 I had to cut two holes about 5 x 5.
Lets just say that this last vent is solidly supported.
Have I told you that I hate remodeling?

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Who knew?
My recent experience in the nice, toasty attic of my humble abode inspired me to investigate adding more vents to my attic.
It was hot up there and it was only 10 AM in the morning.
Little did I know that there is a serious debate going on among contractors and home improvement types about the "best" kind of attic ventilation.

My internet research revealed the main arguments as these:
Some say passive convection systems are best (wind turbans, ridge vents, soffit vents).
Some say powered systems are best (gable fans, and/or "flying saucer" roof fans, and soffit vents).
One guy even said none is necessary if the purpose is to reduce heat transfer into the living space - just good insulation will do the job.

Gee, I thought this was all pretty simple and settled long ago until I read all this stuff.
Mmm, guess not.

My take on the whole subject -

When the sun shines on a house roof, the material of the roof - shingles, wood decking, and structural members - absorb heat from the sunlight.
These transfer their heat to the air inside the attic.
This body of hot air transfers its heat to the ceiling of the house, which, in turn, transfers its heat to the air inside the house, starting at the top of the rooms and drifting downward.

To counteract this natural process, houses have had small holes (vents) cut in the roof to allow the hot air to escape and cooler air to come in and take its place.
Natural convection takes place as heated air begins to rise while cooler air moves in behind/below the warm air.
To work properly, the vents in houses need to be cut in the lowest parts of the roof - along the soffit, and in the highest part of the roof - the gables (if any) or the ridge(s).
The vents near the ridges allow the hot air to escape while the vents in the soffit allow cooler outside air to enter the attic area.
As the cooler air from outside moves through the attic it is heated and thus moves higher and then out the top vents, which draws in more cooler air from outside.... well, you get the idea.
You need both sets of vents for proper attic ventilation to work.
And the area of both sets of vents needs to be about equal.

The good news about this system is that it is relatively cheap, works quietly, uses no energy and when weather conditions are right, can move a lot of air.
"Right" weather conditions is, basically, some wind.
As little as 5 mph is enough.
And, in the case of ridge vents, it helps if the wind is coming from the right direction.
The "right" direction in the case of ridge vents is perpendicular to the vent.

But several years ago, some professional types questioned whether this passive system is enough.
To "make sure" that "enough" air is moving through the attic, they recommended that vents with electric fans in them be installed to "make sure" that enough air is moved through the attic.
Wind or no wind.
Enter - "active" vents.

The reasoning for this is that the surface area of a roof is large.
On a single-story house it is typically larger than the floor area by 10 - 20 percent.
This roof area can (an will!) absorb a LOT of heat energy.
It will take a LOT of air moving through the attic to remove/displace all the hot air produced by this heat build up.
Most passive vent systems cannot move enough air fast enough to offset the heat build up.
So they need some help.
Enter the powered attic ventilator.

These, along with enough soffit vents can force more air into/out of the attic and move all that evil hot air out of the attic as fast as it heats up.
The fans are relatively quiet, they do not use very much electricity, are durable and reliable, they don't depend on whether the wind is blowing or from which direction it is coming, and they are not too expensive ($50-200).
Nice solution.


Then some people found a problem with the new solution.
The fans sucked too much air.
They found that in some houses, the attic fans were actually sucking the nice, cool, air-conditioned air, that they paid so dearly to cool, right out of the house.
In some cases, it was even sucking smoke and carbon monoxide gas back down chimneys and/or vents into the house.
Not good.

The attic fan does not care where it gets its air from.
It just knows that it needs x cubic feet of air every minute to match its designed ability.
If it cannot get enough air from the vents in the soffits, it will pull air from inside the house.
The typical house has dozens of small cracks and holes in it.
They are around electrical outlets, lights in the ceilings, stove and bathroom vents, chimneys, the attic access door, etc.

Like all processes in nature, air likes to be at the same pressure all the time, everywhere.
The technical term is equilibrium.
When/if things are not equal, it tries to get that way.
That is what wind is; nature trying to equalize the pressure between two adjacent extremes.
So, when the fan in the attic causes the area in the attic to be a lower pressure than the house below it, the air in the higher-pressure area tries to get to the area of lower pressure next to it to make the air pressure of the two areas equal.

So, now there are some "experts" and contractors recommending against powered attic ventilation.
So, back to the good old methods.
Or not?


And if you find that your attic ventilator fan is sucking out the nice, expensive air conditioned air out of your house, you need to adjust something.
Either add more low (soffit) vents to your attic or reduce the number or capacity of your attic fan(s).
You are not trying to make a helicopter.
You don't need to suck your roof off.
You need just enough suckage to change the air in your attic every two or three minutes.
Too much air movement in your attic does not gain you anything more.
Diminishing returns and all that.


So, here is where I am on this.
I already have some passive vents in my attic.
They seem to be insufficient to the task - meaning, my attic gets reelee hot.
(I measured the temp up there today and it was 121.7 degrees at 4:28 PM).
(The outside temperature was about 97 degrees.)
(That is not as hot as some houses become.)

And one more thing - the location of the inlet and outlet vents is important.
In fact, it is critical to proper attic cooling - whether active or passive.
Air, like many elements in nature (e.g. water), is lazy.
It will take the path of least resistance to do its work.

So if an outlet vent can get its air from some other vent closer than the more-distant soffit vents, it will.
Thus, if one locates passive turban vents too close to passive gable vents (as is the case with my house), the gable vents stop being outlet vents and become inlet vents, or vice versa - thus changing the balance of inlet to outlet vent area.
This short circuits the design and "shuts off" the intended cooling mechanism.
So instead of moving cooler air across six hundred square feet of hot roof surface, you are only moving cooler air across ten square feet of hot surface.
Not good.

I think I need more ventage in my attic and I want a powered vent to make sure that some air is moving in my attic even when the outside air is still, as it often is on hot summer days in north Alabama.
If, by installing a powered vent fan, I cause interior house suckage, I will add more soffit vents until I get it balanced.

Wee shall see....

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


This may disappoint some of you.
I did not take very many pictures this year.
One reason is because the planned reunion of all of us Army vets never happened.
Some of us were too busy or otherwise occupied when the rest of us were available.
This is not to say that we did not get to visit, we just were not all together in one place at the same time.
I actually got to visit with bro. Tony more this year than in years past.
And I got to spend a good amount of time with his mom, who turned 92 this year.
She is a delightful lady and quite spry for her years.

Well, I was going to post my pikturs but blogger is broken so I will try to do it later. [-[

The campmeeting choir.

Since leaving the Anderson movement, brother John, my pastor, knew that they would revoke his ordination, he was re-ordained by the ministers at the campmeeting.

This is Kamrey, one of the young helpers in the dining/fellowship hall.
I think she told me she was 8 years old.
She and several other little people did a wonderful job of collecting the trays and trash and keeping the tables clean during campmeeting.

This is a picture of a picture of a drawing of the proposed new building being planned for campmeeting.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

A Run in the middle of a Big Project

(With Fourplay playing in the background)

I am in the middle of a large project that I have dreaded for over two years - insulating the walls of my humble abode.
But I will be VERY HAPPEE when it is done.
And so will my utility bill.

As I have stated in past entries, my little house was built around 1964 and was equipped with very little insulation in the attic and none in the walls.
The previous owners added about eight inches of loose fiberglass insulation to the attic at some time in the more recent past.
But none was installed in the walls.

To add insulation to existing walls there are three choices -
1) remove either the inside or outside layer of wall covering and install the new insulation, or
2) drill holes in the inside wall covering and blow loose fiber insulation into the wall cavities, or
3) drill holes in the inside wall covering and pump foam insulation into the wall cavities.

Number one is complicated and expensive, but easier/more reasonable if done at the same time as one is replacing old exterior wall covering.
I am not doing that.
Over half of the exterior of my house is brick.
I am not messing with that.
And I am not brave/strong enough to tackle the removal of all the sheetrock on my exterior walls (and then installing the new insulation and installing all new sheetrock, finishing it and repainting it all).

Number two is the easiest and least expensive but I distrust fiber insulation.
It is subject to incomplete filling, settling over time, and failure because of moisture transfer.
So, no to number two.

That leaves number three.
Urethane foam is the most expensive of a couple of types of foam insulation.
But it has almost twice the insulating ability of fiber insulation.
(3.5 inches of fiberglass insulation has an R-value of about 13.
3.5 inches of Urethane foam insulation has an R-value of about 23.)
This is good.

And, unlike number two, it expands to fill whatever cavity it is put in, it does not settle, does not absorb moisture, and seals the cavity against air transfer.
That is the good news.
The bad news?
Like I said, it is expensive.
And like number two, it requires drilling two two-inch holes in each stud space.

I hate working with sheetrock.
Sheetrock is nice once it is installed, finished, painted and left alone.
Working with it is messy.
Sheetrock is basically filtered mud smashed between two layers of heavy paper.
Kept dry inside the paper, everything is fine.
Cut the paper and your problems begin.
The dried mud inside the paper turns into a nice, fine powder that falls on the floor or carpet or floats through the air and settles on EVERYTHING.
Including your clothes.
Including your lungs.
And your eyes.

I have drilled about 62 two-inch holes in my exterior walls for this project.
About half of them have been filled and refinished (in my gym room and bathroom).
Now the holes have been drilled in the kitchen, living room, and my bedroom.
Drilling every single hole threw dust into the air, on the floor, on me.
To limit the disaster and the following cleanup, I covered the walls, floor and furniture with plastic.
I have gotten good at this.
But I know that months from now I will still come across some places where there is a nice, thin layer of fine white powder.

While I originally feared spraying the foam as the messy part of this project, it has turned out to be less messy than the drilling.
So much so that after I drill the holes I take the plastic down (carefully!), ball it up - dusty side in - and throw it away.

The foam will come off walls and hard floors with just a light scrape.
Carpet needs to be covered with plastic but I only need a strip about two feet wide.
Once the foam dries (about one hour) it will pull off the plastic with no effort.

So today was spray day.
The plan was to keep spraying until I had all the walls filled.
In the manner that concrete slabs are poured, once you start, you stay at it until it is done.
It took two-and-a-half hours to use up all of my foam and fill all of my stud spaces.
The amount came out almost perfectly.

That was the good news.
The bad news is me.
I am exhausted.
All the drilling yesterday left me tired. (mainly my back)
Today is Saturday.
Saturday is my running day.
When it is running day, I run.
And today I ran.


I knew I was tired from the hole-drilling marathon Friday.
So my expectations were low for the 4.5 mile session.
But I intended to do the whole 4.5 miles.
No shortcuts.
At the top of Hill One, accelerated breathing kicked in for a couple of minutes.
No surprises there.
Half way up Hill Two, accelerated breathing kicked in again.
This lasted for four or five minutes.
Mile two and three went smoothly and I slogged along wondering when I would fall apart.

It happened early in mile four.
I was feeling reelee tired and was already at level three breathing.
Wimp requested a two minute walk to recoup for the Big Ending.
Permission was granted by Running Central because of the extended effort yesterday and the anticipated effort later today.
So I walked for a couple of minutes.
Then I started running again.
I finished the course in just over forty minutes.
I was amazed.
And tired.
And pleased.
I had finished the long course. (with just a short wimp walk)

When the foaming is done, and the holes in the sheetrock are filled/finished (next week), then I get to repaint the house (sometime soon).


My bedroom is to become two shades of blue (three walls light blue, one wall deeper blue).
My gym will become a pastel red-orange.
My kitchen will become a light yellow-gold.
And the living room will become two shades of orange-gold (three walls of the lighter shade, one wall a deeper shade).

This two-tone color scheme is borrowed from IBM.
I visited an IBM facility many years ago in my industrial career and their offices and conference rooms had an unusual color scheme.
Three walls had a neutral light-gray/beige shade and the fourth wall was bright blue or red or yellow or green - depending on the room.
I never forgot it.
So I am going to try it here.

Campmeeting pictures coming. (reelee!)

Friday, August 01, 2008



Let the Royal Chronicles show that Wednesday was a historic day.


Yes, it was just Wednesday, but I had promised myself that I would start doing a short (three miles) run at mid-week to see if it builds up my endurance for the longer weekend run.
I am aware that there is a risk that this extra running will simply overpower my diminishing ability to recover, which will have the opposite effect on my running overall.
Wee shall see.

I hit the street at 5:25 AM in warm, steamy weather.
It was cloudy and about 72 degrees and about 90 percent humidity.
As if to validate my fears, I had to seg into accelerated breathing the last half mile of the jaunt.
But this is a building effort so I expect to start out weaker and become stronger.
At least, that is the plan.
The party ended almost exactly thirty minutes later in front of my humble abode with me doing my best imitation of a slug - leaving a trail of bodily fluids as I walked my cool-down loop.


The new bathroom fan has been installated and woiks poifektly.
This item finishes my bathroom project. (when I get the sheetrock patched and painted around the switches, it will be done done.)

At the risk of TMI, some extended elucidation:

According to common residential building codes, a bathroom that has a window that opens, is not required to have additional ventilation.
Thus, my humble pottitorium had no fan.
But soon after moving in, I found that even with the window open, not enough air circulated during and after a shower to remove all the steamy air, thus causing the growth of lovely brown mildew in my tub/shower.

To address this problem, I purchased a simple box fan which I located in my hallway pointing into the bathroom (I always keep my b-room door open while showering).

I ran the fan during my daily ablutions and for a few minutes afterward, which reduced my mildew problem to a manageable level (but did not eliminate it).
I continued to do this even after I installed my new tub/shower earlier this year to forestall any mildew problems in the new unit.
I knew that the ultimate solution to this issue was to install an exhaust fan in the bathroom to suck out all the damp air.

I took my sweet time and shopped for the quietest, most suckish fan at the most reasonable cost. (you can get a really noisy, almost useless fan for about $10.00, or a really quiet, efficient fan for $200.00+, and many variations of these two attributes at many prices in between.)

I did not want the fan to run only when the light was on so that required that I change things at the light switch....
...Only to find that the gas line to the heater was run next to the light switch.

This meant that I could not simply install another switch next to the existing one.
In addition, the wall here was only two inches deep, so the electrical box that I had purchased would not fit. |-(
I went looking for a more shallow double box but the big home improvement store, of which I own stock, did not have any.
Singles, yes.
Doubles, no.
So I took my saw and chopped the bustle off the double box I had.

Then I cut my hole in the wall bigger and installed the box on the other side of the gas pipe.
Phooey, I know how to patch sheetrock....

Finding an existing wire to supply electric current to the fan proved to be another adventure.
I knew that there were some "adjustments" to the house wiring above the hallway from some previous explorations in the attic (when I removed the whole-house fan, and some wires that were poking down through my hall ceiling).

To properly access the disposition of the electric supply I needed a multimeter.
I used to have one, but apparently I have donated it to someone, kuz it wuz gone.
So, I had to buy a mo nutha won.

Having procured a meter, I then set about trying to figure out what **someone** had done to the existing wiring.
It took almost an hour of trial and error to find the breaker in the box in my utility room that turns off the power to the rats nest of twisted and taped wires in the attic.
But I found it.
I unwrapped and untwisted and removed a couple of stray conductors which led to nowhere and re-twisted and attached with wire nuts the two bunches of wires.
In the process, I removed the wires from the switch in the hall that had been installed years ago to run the attic fan.
Then I ran the wires that were going to supply my bathroom fan with power from the dam.

In spite of my best plans, inserting the two extra conductors into the small hole in the wooden plate in the top of the wall above my new switch proved to be the task from Hades.
I pushed gently then hard, pulled out and re inserted, pushed again, pulled out a little, pushed in a little - you get the idea.
Even though it was barely ten oclock, I was as sweaty as I was when I finished my run.
(note to self - schedule extra shower after switch is installed.)
Anyway, I FINALLY got the wires down into the wall and to the prospective switch location.

I had been thinking about how the various conductors are to be joined together so that electricity flows to the fan only when the switch is in the "On" position.
And not burn down the house.
Or fry the breaker.
This may be muy simplistico to a practicing electrician, but I, your humble servant, need remedial House Wiring 101.

But I managed to figure it out on the first try.
It was with a feeling of satisfaction and relief that I closed the breaker in the utility room (and it did not pop open again), walked into the house and flipped the light switch (it worked!) and then... (trumpets play here...)...I flipped the switch for the bathroom fan.
It worked! (show smiling people dancing in the street with index fingers pointing in the air)

With that part done, I applied sheetrock tape and the first layer of joint compound to the hole next to the new switch box, and called it a day.
Some tool and trash pickup (each with different dispositions) ended the This Old House episode for the day.

And it was with a mixture of nostalgia and satisfaction that I unplugged the faithful box fan and turned on my *new* bathroom ceiling fan while I took my attic-sweat-cleansing shower afterward.


April 15 th of 2013 was my last year to work for HR Block. I disliked the corporate pressure to make us call customers to try ...