Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Hearth

     Fun stage.  Starting to do some artistic stuff that will actually show.  This is the building of the hearth, done exactly how you'd do a concrete countertop.  I've done the pour-in-place method before but never the upside-down mold that gives a perfectly flat surface.
    Starting with the mold----this is melamine.  I didn't want extreme folds in the plastic so instead of lining the entire mold with plastic I just wrapped the form walls, then screwed it all together.   Then a 2x6 was cut the length of the form, and rebar wired so it would hang in the center of the concrete.  3 anchor bolts were molded into the bottom to secure the piece to the wooden base later.
    Once the rebar was checked for fit that whole part was set aside.  The first sack of concrete was mixed.  I took out a scoop of it and threw it in the form, then added some 'buff' color to the remainder; after thorough mixing, placed that in the form.  Then three sacks of concrete were mixed with black oxide color and that got dumped in.
    Note to self---don't rely on vibrating the form to soften the edge of the different colors.  You have to blend the edges manually as soon as you dump it in the form.  Otherwise when your wife first sees it, she'll ask "Did you mean for it to look like that?"
   After packing the concrete as best as I could, the rebar/anchor bolt rack was put in place.

    When you build the form, build it very sturdy---this one holds over 300 pounds of concrete and you have to vibrate it.  If you don't do some shaking of some kind you end up with all these honeycomb voids.  This form is held off the floor so I could get a crowbar under it to shake and wiggle it---then I took the blade off the sawzall and vibrated it.  A few good raps with a sledge got some bubbles out, too.  Make sure your form is on a level surface for curing.
   Note to self #2.  If you don't want animal tracks in the pour, keep animals away.  I had no idea until now the raccoons were coming inside at night.  Guess it's time to buy a front door?
    Let it cure at least 24 hours.  Impatience is bad---some of these forms are gonna stick, and 'green' concrete might prefer to stick to part of the form and not itself.  300 pounds minus a little is one helluva paper weight.
    So I carefully stripped the forms and built the wooden base.  It was very tempting to just flip it over and have a look, but I would have bent the anchor bolts.   The wooden base was very solid and distributed the weight evenly on the floor.  I also made certain the base was over two of the floor joists. 

    The wooden base was then screwed into the joists below and the Hardibacker screwed into place.  The base and the fireplace surround will get a native stone veneer.  The concrete still needs a little grinding, polishing and sealing....  Doing the pour indoors right near the finished spot was slightly inconvenient since I had to carry the mixed concrete in from outside, but I don't think I could have carried the finished product in without lots of help                                  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is This Your First Occupation?

  Look--I know it was a rude awakening.  After 16 years or so of government schools where there was lots of emphasis on fairness and self esteem, and little on productivity and entrepreneurship...  Too few teachers understood and taught what runs our economy and too many filled your head with the liberal tripe their union clings to.  You saw first hand how your government will take care of you---free food before, during, and after school, free counseling, contraception, field trips, transportation.  You must have gotten the impression the government has unlimited funds.  You must have gotten the notion that if someone has more than you, it's because they took it away from you.  After all, we're all the same, right?
   What a rude awakening to be turned out into the real world!  Suddenly no one is giving you stuff anymore!  Hey, don't they realize how valuable you are??  Don't they realize what this is doing to your self esteem?
   So along comes this wealth hating protest.  Heck, maybe even a special interest group will pay you to go.   Go teach those evil capitalists what's up.
   Here's what they failed to teach you in school, though.  Our economy, and all the free stuff you enjoy, rely 100% on corporation and business profit or the speculation of future  profit.  Those people you are protesting against are paying the vast majority of the taxes.  That millionaire didn't get there by whining or holding a sign.
   You sign says, "Wake Up!" Oh, we're awake.  We know that the financial meltdown has far more to do with Barney Frank's 'fair housing' scheme and almost nothing to do with CEO pay.  We are awake to the fact that over-regulation and undue influence of environmental laws has killed business development.  We are awake to the fact that an economy can't sustain unskilled jobs artificially overcompensated not by need or scarcity but by union thuggery.  Yep, you can actually earn $50,000 scanning bananas.
   And those millionaires you revile?  Very few were handed anything.  They were the ones that got up early to study and took a job (you would have considered beneath you)after school.  They found a niche, made themselves valuable and productive---and 'the system' you hate rewarded them.  Well, sort of---their tax burden is hefty and few recognize their true heroics today.
   Here's my question to you.  Maybe you can awaken me in this regard.  After you're done bringing down all the millionaires, who are you gonna tax to support all your social programs?   

Friday, October 7, 2011

Patrick Asks 'The Question"

   We're homeschooling Patrick this year, like we did for the girls during 6th grade.  He's 11.  We were just riding in the car when he asked "The Question".
    I guess it's the same age I started getting curious about such things, too.  They say you shouldn't overload them or go way beyond what they're able to understand, but you don't want to obfuscate or confuse, either.  Incidentally, if the girls have asked such questions, they went to AnnaMarie.  Quite frankly though, I know a lot more about it than she does.  It's one of those things she'd just as soon not even think about.  It's there, it's a necessary part of life, that's it.
    So you prompt them to ask specific questions.  That way they are steering the conversation to their level of understanding.  "How does it all work?" "How do I get things started?" "How do you know what to put where, and when?"  "Why does Mommy's look different than Daddy's?"  All good questions.
   Since we're homeschooling I asked the charter lead from the district.  She told me about visible models that the district would even pay for.  Patrick and I could do the assembly together and we could discuss everything's names and functions as we go along. 
   We're really enjoying the time together.