6/13/2019 Notes

Festool has a flash sale site for reconditioned tools.

Words get spilled about ‘warranty work’ and ‘call backs’ on construction jobs, but you hear less about ‘rework’ – work discovered to be deficient before the completion of a job. That’s what seems to be on display at NYC’s Hudson Yards which opened this year – tons and tons of rework.

I’m not sure when solar panel leasing started, but I don’t think it ever seemed like a good idea. Lease space on your roof for someone else to install electrical equipment, making it impossible to service your roof service and encumbering your property at sale? I’ve known people who have done it, but the downsides always seemed striking and lightning has finally struck a JLC editor. The leased panels on his roof caught fire, damaging his roof and now he’s struggling to get them removed. Here is his original story from April 3rd and the follow-up from May 22nd of 2019.

Many of my likes and dislikes can be mapped to ‘things with a system’ and ‘things that don’t have a system but should’. The Copenhagen Central Hospital Laundry is a building with a system. The photographer, Alastair Philip Wiper has some other great galleries of his architectural photography.

Software As A Service of the Week: Pinboard.in

What I read in May 2019

These lists are a little off-topic – I read a lot of fiction/non-fiction unrelated to the built environment. Good book recommendations come from unexpected places and can expand your world – these round-ups are my contribution to discovery. You can always find my full library here.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ | Alex Honnold/David Roberts: Alone on the Wall (2016)

I don’t climb, which means my interest in the sport is shallow. Alex Honnold is not only a force in that world, but a contemporary – we are about the same age. Viewing his personal evolution through a similar passage of time is fascinating. Only thing better are the documentaries he has been in: Free Solo (2018), Alone on the Wall (2008), Sufferfest (2014), and Sufferfest 2 (2015) are all great.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ | Leonard Mlodinow: The Drunkard’s Walk (2009)

A critical entry-level text on the intersection of human instinct and mathematical concepts. Optical illusions for the analytical mind. Put it in the same category as Innumeracy (1988).

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ | Francis Spufford: Red Plenty (2012)

Fiction set in the soviet planned economy. A good journeyman attempt, a little heavy on the history lecture interludes.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ | Tony Groom: Diver (2008)

Memoir of a British navy diver, with a heavy focus on his role in the Falkland war. A slice of the world I’ve never experienced, told with honesty and detail. Perhaps a little bit of a heavy focus on bar stories.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ | Drew Magary: The Postmortal (2011)

Drew Margary is a great casual writer. If I see his byline I’ll crack it open, no matter what the subject. This book is his first shot at fiction and covers a future where aging has been eliminated and some natural/unnatural consequences. If you like Drew Margary you’ll like this book.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ | Michael S. Sanders: The Yard (1999)

A portrait of Bath Iron Works at the turn of the century. Skip any chapter that starts talking about the Navy and you’ll find a tight, engrossing look at a Brigadoon-like manufacturing facility turning out some of the world’s most advanced ships with some of the oldest methods/equipment on the continent. Check out the facility in Bath, Maine to see where they’ve gone in in the last two decades since the book was published.

5/2/2019 Notes

The new cool is the email newsletter, and The Prepared is one of my favorites. They also post some great long-form stuff, like their latest article exploring the construction history of Saint John the Divine in New York.

Older video of an elementary school drop off queue, but one that’s been stuck on my saved list for years. Every time I think about deleting it, I’m recaptured by the absurdity. I get it – rural places exist, long bus routes means kids need to get up too early, school districts are incentivized to build on cheap land on the boundaries, etc. A good suburban example of this is Saco, Maine – all of the schools are in dense residential areas except for the middle school which is marooned on the outskirts beyond a major highway. Which school would you guess was built in the 1970’s?

It’s the little details that are the most confusing – Oil Safety Valves are reverse threaded.

I’m in the middle of approving final details for a large cabinet order and am once again vexed by an inside corner cabinet. Blind, lazy-susan, or pivot-swing shelves? All seem like good ways to end up with something gross permanently hidden the bowels of your cabinetry. Couldn’t agree with Nancy Hiller more in this post from 2018.

4/25/2019 Notes

There is an intuitive accident causation model called the Swiss Cheese Model where small risks across a broad spectrum of qualities line up perfectly to create, well, an accident. JLC published “What A Long, Strange Drip It’s Been” this month which is a great example of this kind of cumulative impact small mistakes can have. Bad drip edge install, overhang-free building design, failure-intolerant fascia detail, a discontinuity between fascia and wrap, and a home owner without a proactive approach to preventative maintenance. I grimaced when I reached the part where the sheathing repair didn’t include a replacement of the drip edge – especially when you can see that a new roof was installed between the original inspection and the final sheathing repair.

A while back the Fine Homebuilding Podcast mentioned a paper by M.C Baker called “Decay of Wood“. Took me a bit to find it, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a crisp five page introduction to wood decay. It is great to find these kinds of introductory texts which lay out exactly enough to start you on a research path – for example, I didn’t know that there were five specific types of building-rot fungi of most concern/importance. That’s a short list!

Great to see a Maine crew star in this video series on wall framing. The crew involved is from Kolbert Building, you may know Dan Kolbert from his involvement with the “Pretty Good House” concept.

Rick Steves largely lives on the edge of my consciousness – he’s a famous figure whose books I never really used (for no particular reason I mostly used the Lonely Planet guides). He was profiled last month in the New York Times and, as always, sets the bar high for engaged living: pack light, stay positive, and try new things.

Throw-back Song of the Week: Whale – Hobo Humpin Slobo Babe

12/31/2018 Notes

The Prepared published a look at African supply chain management for small fabricators and the weeks/months it can take to get items available overnight in other countries with less convoluted trade relationships.

This Christmas I receive a copy of A Reference for Wood by Eric Sloane, a short one hundred page look at the use of wood in early american life – a mixture of historical facts and engaging anecdotes.

Part of moving to a new part of the country (for me, the midwest this past year) is learning about new manufacturers, techniques, and contractors. Paul on this Q&A over at Green Building Advisor referenced a tilt-turn manufacturer in my new backyard – WASCO Windows of Milwaukee.

Structure Tech posted their annual round-up of the best inspection photos they took all year.

Beer of the Week: 3 Floyds Brewing Company – Gumball Head