Monday, October 16, 2006

More Wonders Found In The North Wall

On Saturday afternoon, several exciting new finds were made on the left side of the North Wall of Bog. These were tentatively assigned a more recent date than the artifacts recovered from the dig on the right side of the North Wall1 and included an item not unlike a Monopoly banknote of the 500 dollar denomination, another resembling a Hot Wheels® Ford Deuce Coupé, what appears to be a knitted gym sock and more dyed wax writing implements. Some of these items may or may not be of modern lineage, dating back only as far as Bog II despite the age of the structure, since evidence of a recent wall puncture and its repair was found. Mrs Stevie was once again openly dismissive of any attempt at the scientific method and simply re-iterated her widely discredited "bored child" theory.

New excavations in the East Wall revealed fewer artifacts, although an antique intercom was found nailed to one of the studs once I had both layers of sheetrock off them. It fell off the wall before I could photograph it, unfortunately, but I will clean it up and get a picture before I dispose of the item. Work on the West Wall progressed nicely, and only the continuing worry over how to transition the new construction with the old caused a halyt to be called. To recap, I do not want to pull the walls from around the bath because I absolutely do not under any circumstances want to be stuck with a re-tiling job, which will lead to Azathoth knows how many other unexpected but vital jobs before I'm done. Thicker sheetrock is available that will allow for a seamless join if I think that is the way to go. I'm also gonna pull the old insulation2 out and replace it with itchy pink fiberglass while I'm at it.

Pulling down this bathroom has given me a new appreciation not only for The Builders of Bog3 but also for the framers of the House who, when working at their best, could teach Genaro a thing or two about the Bodge Job. From my observations I am compiling a list of the more controversial construction decisions taken by various authorities for my lucky and probably non-existent readers.

  • Laying mains voltage wiring on top of a stud and trusting a channel cut in the lower level of sheetrock will allow for safe installation. The chances of someone driving a nail through the wall and coming to terms with 100 volts RMS @ 60 Hz on a personal level are so small as to be negligible
  • Doing this twice
  • Leaving wiring dangling so as to cheap out on staples normally viewed as being "essential" for "safe" installation
  • Using 1/8th inch plywood where a 2x4 cross-brace is called for
  • Installing a stud without a header4, trusting to the sole-plate5 nailing and a cross-brace 1/3 the way up to hold it in place and not allow it to flap about alarmingly

Sunday found me triumphantly weilding Mr Chainsaw in an effort to get the deadfall that has been sitting on the driveway since it all came down from upon high in the spring in a form acceptable to the town "garden refuse" collectors. I included the termite eaten fence rails I swapped out in June to the load. Five bags of wood later, I was done. Now I have an unrestricted view of the mound of soil that has graced the drive for two years on account of I can't trust Mr Brain to do bloody simple math6. I have been slowly using it up, and Mrs Stevie made vast inroads when she moved some Hostas that have been doing an impersonation of the jungle of central Congo, leaving huge holes in the front garden that required very satisfying amounts of the pile to level off.

Then, ignoring Mr Back who was quoting from the lyrics of Aqualung7 I continued with the deployment of the missing components of the half-erected Maison Stevie Hallowe'en Montage. The gravestones, human bones, creepy gate-arch, gate gargoyle with flanking bat-reliefs, the skulls on the fencepost newels and the scarecrow8 had been installed but there were still some ghosts that needed repair before they could be deployed, the lights to festoon, the nocturne eyes to drape o'er the Alberta Spruces and the silhouette cats to position in the lawn9. I was just fixing the purple light-pipes to the front deck fences when Mrs Stevie entered theater waving a Quiznoze sub at me and threatening lunch. Seemed like a good time to quit, so I did.

Later I renovated the four plywood ghosts I made for our first hallowe'en. They are basically plywood shapes on a length of Dexian. This had become rather beaten up over the years due to the destructive force of the hammer when driving into hard ground, so I vowed to sharpen the stake and attach a wooden hammer block to each. This I achieved by removing the Dexian stake, turning it upside down and reattaching it and cutting an angle in the new "pointy" end with the rotary tool Mrs Stevie gave me for last Christmas (Mr Dremel being upstairs and configured as a spiral saw this was a perfect opportunity to break out the new tool).

This rotary tool10 came with almost every wheelpoint11 known to mankind, but I would be using only the fiberglass-reinforced carbide cut-off wheels tonight. The first cock-up unplanned excursion beyond the tool's design specifications came when clumsy handling of the rotary tool caused the wheel to bind, shatter and cut off the screw holding it to the mandrel (probably because it wasn't tight enough). I selected a new wheel and mandrel and attempted to assemble them into a complete unit. It became apparent that there was a problem when the screw wouldn't tighten after about a minute's screwdriving. Turns out the mandrels are a two-piece construction. The bit that goes in the collet12 is pressed into the bit with the screw thread, and the two parts were not that securely attached in this case. I grabbed a third mandrel and managed to get the wheel mounted and began cutting. It was dead good. The steel yeilded nicely and in a trice13 I had cut really nice points on the Dexian stakes. The cutting process is really a grinding operation, resulting in lots of sparks, much ejected powdered, burned metal and the wearing down of the wheels at an alarming rate (I was tired and probably too heavy-handed in the application).

It was only afterwards that it occured to me to wonder where all the powdered silicon carbide and fiberglass had gone. Fortunately, it turns out I have these two bags that collect any dust in the workshop. I call them "lungs".

1: After the large and potentially valuable piece of amber I found turned out to be a rather less-valuable piece of fossilised soap
2: It seems to be a gypsum/asbestos/fleece blanket that may or may not have been treated with mercury and dusted with powdered lead as preservatives
3: Who are known only as "Genaro"
4: The 2x4 that forms the top of a wall
5: the 2x4 that forms the bottom of a wall
6: Memo to self - There are not 9 cubic feet in a cubic yard
7: Specifically, the bit that talks about screaming agony
8: I know, but for some reason it looks in place in the graveyard when it's done
9: Not to mention the walking ghostly footprints, illuminated skeletal bits emerging from the lawn, screaming bark face to attach to the "good" tree, the family banners with creepy artwork and the four disgusting, motion-triggered gibbering heads - the placement of these items has been saved for later "enjoyment"
10:A Dremel-clone made by "Alltrade"
11: Rotary Toolspeak for "bit"
12: Rotary Toolspeak for "chuck"
13: Defined in this case as the time taken to go through three cut-off wheels

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