Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'll be fixing some holes... my mind is wandering


Holes, Vacuuming the dust from all those holes, All those damn holes, Calling someone to fix all those damn holes.






I think there is a theme here. We are beginning to refer to the guys as the gods of Destruction. It turns out "minimally invasive" means that they don't strip the walls back to the studs. For some silly reason we thought "a few holes" didn't include ripping two foot wide channels up walls and into ceilings (and cross your fingers , not yet across any ceilings).


To be fair they figured we had balloon construction which is common with this vintage but low and behold we had much sturdier construction. Good in general, bad for running forced air ducting. ANd they would have had to rip into a lot of the same places to get to the water lines that were broken so...It's still a lot of ravage for the poor old house. It's also going to be a LOT of repair work after the fact.

I was pretty resigned to the fact that the house was going to be a construction site till all the work was done, so while it's a bit more than I expected it is in the general ball park. Aislinn however missed the first round when the plumbers were chopping holes (smaller and MUCH fewer) so I think she is kind of in shock right now. Until you go through it it's hard to comprehend the shear volume of dust and that it gets EVERYWHERE. Till they are done and we can really vacuum this dust will be in everything we own and eat.


To a lesser extent it will happen again when we close up all the holes.

But then we will be able to actually start unpacking!

On an up note the deck is almost back together.


And Monty found a new playmate (appropriately named for the houses condition "Dusty").


The electrical is almost done with the first phase.

Bottled yesterday while the power was off, so were stocking up!

so long from the BigD

- 30 -

Friday, August 26, 2011

Al Grain, no Pain

A quickie on brewing in the hood because the beer festival is looming...

So on coming to the big D and regaining some space one thing I really wanted to do was get back into brewing and up my game a bit.

Extract brewing is good but it's a bit expensive and a bit limiting and I wanted to be a bit more "off the grid".

So That is what it has been, mostly. I had some extract from before so I have used a bit in some of the brews but mostly all grain.

First I tried the Brew in a Bag. I like the idea and will revisit but with out being able to get or make a big enough bag (we are still mostly in boxes remember) it was not super successful. Or it was successful but I had to use a fair amount of extract because of the bag limit..

Then I went crazy and tried to do a Pari-Gayle brew. I did but when your living out of boxes it's silly to try a complicated brew day. That was two smaller batches of tasty beer but ...

Then I had this fruit that needed to be used and was over ripe so I brewed a weird mix of fruit juice and grain that is really refreshing. A crazy brew of malt plus plums, apples and peaches with some ginger thrown in in a fit of madness.

Then I calmed down and did an American Pale ale. I had a lot of two year old hops so I calculated the loss in bitterness but I guess I stored them better than I thought and ended up with more of an IPA than a PA but still very good.

In the fermentor right now is, or should be, closer to what I was aiming for last time.

I have also managed to scrounge up some used kegs and scored a great deal on a CO2 tank, so this or the next brew may go into a keg! How cool is that.

Cooling might be an issue but I have plans for a way to cool keg to tap and in the winter...

In future I'm planning to do a bunch of hard cider when apples come in and then turn that into Apple Jack over the winter. If it works I will probably put that in my ale keg and let it sit for a year or so and have it ready for Thanksgiving 2012 or 2013. Actually since I may end up with three or four gallons It may come out many years running...

Speaking of T Day. We set up the table the other day. We can't find some of the parts (they are in a box someplace...) but I stuck a dowel in and used some cedar shingle shims. We even had guests for dinner the other day. So we have no idea how many people are going to show for T day. It's looking like probably under ten, which as many of you know is way down from the 30-40 of recent years. But you never know.

Cheers from the Big D

- 30 -

Radiating Pain

I had mentioned before that we had a little hiccup with the heating system...

Well essentially all the radiators are trash and way to many of the feed pipes also, SO.
we had to give up and move to forced air. To save some bucks I with some help from Aislinn did most of the "demo", cutting out the old heating system pipes and stacking them up. It's kind of cool actually but 4" steel pipes are HEAVY!

The pile grows...

Slice and dice baby!

Back at the boiler it looks really cool...

And then there were none...

So now they are cutting holes in the walls all over the place to run the vents...

On an up note Aislinn got to experience the joys of the old super wimpy 20 gal electric water heater.

Side bar, did I mention that the fridge and washer drier she ordered showed up? Big fridge, lots O ice, mmmm. Somehow it was OK for me to live off a dorm fridge but.... well anyway the big bertha arrived and we can now shop at CostCo again ;~)

So anyway she also had little tolerance with no washing machine. So it all arrived and I hooked up the washer (drier needed a gas line run, and a couple of loads with warm water and that emptied the tank. Now I knew from the dark days when the water heater was just turned on that it takes a couple of days to get hot. Well Aislinn took a shower after the washing and was less than thrilled. When after two days it still was not really hot, replacing that sucker moved way up her list.

So since the heating guys were just kicking back now that they didn't have to deal with the boiling beast she made them put in a new on demand water heater!! WhoHoo! They got a smaller one than they wanted because of the price point so this one only does 8.5 gal a minute.... So basically we could have showers going in all four of the bathrooms (if they all had showers) and still be able to wash dishes. And we could do that continuously till we all turned into prunes.

And the electricians have arrived...

They are not going to do a huge amount right now. Check out what is here, Ground the system, it's the little things that count. And put a whole house surge protector so everything doesn't get fried in the next storm.

They are also going to run power for the shop. It's now located where the furnace and water heater used to be. Bigger space, better access and a flue for those fumey things like welding and a forge? ;!) (probably not but one can dream...).

There is a lot more usable space "down under" now that there isn't heating pipes running all over.

In taking down the piping I found a few pipes that probably would have popped once the system was up and running. Ones that I started cutting and had just break off. With the auto feeder on the boiler it could have pumped a LOT of water into the basement before we noticed something was wrong. So sad as it is it's probably a god thing that we have moved beyond the radiators.

Also we may have cut the heating bill by 2/3rds. That is the guess at the efficiency difference. And it can be switched to do cooling also. If Aislinn finds out that we can do geothermal (sounds strange like personal nukes but it's the new thing, not too expensive and completely passive once it's in) we can hook that into this heater and it would have been complicated with the boiler.

So long from the Big D.

Soon it will be time for !) the big beer festival and 2) the huge jazz festival.


Mish mash and smish smash

So I will try to cover a bunch of time.

So I got back, we had a lot of heat and then it has been mostly pleasant weather wise.

The tree trimmers are still going sporadically. Partly because there have been a few storms through and partly (I think) because it's down to "topping" the elm which is around 120 feet tall. Me personally... it would be a freezing day in hell before you got me up there, it is scary tall. To put it in perspective if you were up where they need to be and fell you would fall about 80 feet before you hit the peak of our roof and that is three stories + the roof up. The guys who fixed the chimney were a bit in awe of the tree trimmers and that guy was sitting on top of the chimney (~40 up) with no safety line!

Oh and we had the fireplaces inspected and "pointed" and a new flue put on one and spark arresters on the rest.

A pause for some Eastern market food porn.

Well that was good for me, you?

OK so we are in the middle of construction and destruction all at the same time. Aislinn is hot to get everything painted AND we needed to do that behind the radiators while they were pulled for the system test. So most rooms have color tests in them now.

And the room that was falling off the house, kind of we needed to jack up and support. Well they needed to see inside the floor to make sure jacking it up wouldn't break the kitchen ceiling. So since that room was tiled and those would break when we jacked it up level I needed to remove the tiles. They came up pretty easy but they were laid on concrete board. Think sheetrock but made from concrete. The folks laying it down were of the "belt and suspenders" crowd (folks who don't trust either and so wear both). And they glued AND screwed it down with determination. That meant basically breaking it all into small pieces with a hammer drill.

So this room

Became this room

And slowly all these little rocks got cleared away

In this bucket

And a lot of sweat

And we got down to the boards and then beyond...

You probably can't see it in this shot but the first three joists are cracked because of the "falling" room.

But then Ray and Ron rode in on white stallions, or maybe it was a car? and ripped open the deck below and put in some posts that could actually hold some weight. They also jacked up the room. It had sagged over an inch on one end and just under an inch on the other. FYI that is a LOT of sag for the five or so feet that hangs over the deck.

Old semi-useless posts.

Though they had replaced older and even less useful posts...

Now with all new and really useful posts

OK next, radiating pain...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Personal nukes are the answer!

WE have been going through a bit of hell with the heating system. The 50% loss of radiators has turned into closer to 100%. Add in some burst feed pipes and... Well the radiators have to go. Actually we can't even find them. That is the other twist. It looked like we would have to buy many new radiators. The catch is that the new ones are pressed metal ones from a german company that look nothing like traditional cast iron radiators. So as the cost skyrocketed we needed to make a decision.

So we went with what passes for renewable energy out here and we are installing a small personal reactor.

It's kind of a new thing and our electrician was a bit puzzled by how to hook it all up.

But he did figure it out. Turns out the lead in the water is great in the cooling loop and keeps the drinking water from glowing after dark. We did have to put in a tsunami wall (new US regulation) though there has yet to be a tsunami on the great lakes.

The little baby puts out 500KW so we don't have to worry about power and the heat coming off the core heats the house nicely. Of course right now it's still pretty warm so we are using some of the juice to power a big ass AC unit in the basement. Every few years we have to change fuel rods but they say you can do it with work gloves if you move fast and it's legal for individuals to simply put the used rods in the trash!

So it looks like we are set for awhile. The big test is Tue. We flip the switch and it either works or we burn a two block whole in Detroit.

I have to go now and get a cowboy hat and practice my Slim Pickens impersonations.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Buy American...Where? How? I know why.

OK before you think I've gone off on another tangent let me say that there are about three posts in the works so I will catch up on the happs. And this does relate, but wait I digress.

First a question. What is the largest American own brewery? You can ponder that for now I will tell you later.

How it relates? Well one of our contractors, never thought I would know so many.... , was talking about how he tries to always buy American. Not having lived in the manufacturing heartland it was something that I kind of did but not so dedicatedly. Anyway he and his wife went in to buy a car and they had researched it and it was an american car actually made in america and when they got there it was pointed out that the colors had all changed a bit for the models because the paints come from Japan and deliveries had been affected by the disaster.

What? We buy paint from Japan because???

He also said he uses all Hilti tools. Nice stuff but when I looked
Hilti Corporation
Feldkircherstrasse 100
P.O. Box 333
9494 Schaan

Liechtenstein!? I thought they made stamps?

My point is that it's very hard to know what IS american made and what just seems to be american made. There are a lot of "american" companies who's products are actually made over seas. Porter Cable was/ is an "american" company but their tools are no longer made in america.

Or are they? Porter Cable is a division of Delta

In January, 2011, Taiwan-based Chang Type Industrial Co., Ltd. purchased the Delta brand from Stanley Black & Decker.1 Chang Type formed a wholly owned subsidiary, Delta Power Equipment Corp. to own the acquired assets including trademarks, designs and industrial tooling.2 Chang Type is moving Delta's production tooling from a Stanley Black & Decker owned facility in Jackson, Tennessee to a facility in Anderson County, South Carolina.3 Bryan Whiffen is President & Chief Executive Officer and Norm MacDonald is Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Chang Type's Delta Power Equipment Corp. subsidiary.4

BUT In this article on Black and Decker...

Black & Decker (the corporation) is distinct from "Black & Decker" the brand; the latter is used by more than one corporation. In particular, "Black & Decker"-branded household products in the Americas (but outside of Brazil) are marketed by a division of Applica, and a Florida-based corporation much smaller than Black & Decker Corporation. None of Black & Decker's power tools are manufactured in the United States of America any longer.

Brands include:
Delta Machinery (sold)
DeVibiss Air Power
Weiser Lock
Price Pfister
Emhart Teknologies
Oldham Blades
Black and Decker Firestorm

So it's just darn confusing since IF Porter-Cable is actually a division of Delta then it's a Chinese (not PRC) company that is making the products in the US, if not it's an "american" company making it's products outside the US.

Which is the more "american"? Personally I would have to go with the chinese company as being the more "buy american", and that is just plain weird.

OK back to the beer question.

Anheuser-Busch, right. I mean BUDWEISER, BUSH, MICHELOBE, BUD LIGHT. What can be more american.

Well, actually in 2008 they were bought by Brazilian-Belgian brewing company InBev.

OK so then it must be Miller, another American giant.

Hmmm, The Miller Brewing Company is an American beer brewing company owned by the United Kingdom-based SABMiller.

But there is more. On 1 July 2008 theMillerCoors company was formed as a joint venture with rival Molson Coors to consolidate the production and distribution of its products in the United States, with each parent company's corporate operations and international operations remaining separate and independent of the joint venture.

MillerCoors? MolsonCoors??? That just killed the other contender also.

But what is SAB?
Miller was acquired by South African Breweries from Philip Morris for $3.6 billion worth of stock and US$2 billion in debt to form SABMiller, with Philip Morris retaining a 36% ownership share and 24.99% voting rights.

OK so all the icons are owned by Brazilian, Belgian, Canadian, South African super conglomerates. Who is the largest american owned brewery?

Samuel Adams.

That small craft brewery in boston that was formed in 1984.

Samuel Adams is an American brand of beer brewed by the Boston Beer Company (NYSE: SAM) and its associated contract brewers. The company was founded in 1984 by Jim Koch, Harry M. Rubin, and Lorenzo Lamadrid in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The brand name of Samuel Adams (often abbreviated to Sam Adams, even in advertisements), was chosen in honor of Samuel Adams, anAmerican patriot famous for his role in the American Revolution and Boston Tea Party. According to tradition, he was also a brewer.7

Following Anheuser-Busch's 2008 sale to InBev, the Boston Beer Company became the largest American-owned beer company in the United States.

Second largest and oldest is.
D. G. Yuengling & Son is the oldest operating brewing company in America, established in 1829. It is one of the largest breweries by volume in the country, and is the second largest American-owned brewery after the Boston Beer Company, makers of Sam Adamsbeer.8 Its headquarters are in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.9

So buy american, if you can figure out what that is.

Next time all Detroit All the time! Updates on the house, the Eastern Market and some demolition... oooo POWER TOOLS!