I have owned the House of Rock for nearly nine years. Over those nine years I have mowed the lawn many many times. As this is not a chore I enjoy, I try to strategically plan the mowing to be as efficient as possible.
My basic strategy centers around the basic principle that if I reduce the number of turns, I can improve my efficiency. As a corollary, we assume that fewer degrees of turning are also more efficient. Two 90′s are a little better than one 180. Finally, this obviously only applies to those of us whose yards are not large enough or open enough to accommodate Concentric Spiral Mowing as this would clearly be the most efficient use of mowage.
Let’s assume you have a perfect 10m x 10m yard. For simplicity sake, let’s also assume you have a 1m wide mower. What’s the most efficient mowing pattern?
The Long Haul
Making ten 10m passes is an obvious option. But this requires a total of nine 180° turns. I greatly dislike 180° turns.
Another good option: walking the perimeter to make consecutively smaller rectangles. The frustration here is that when you get to the middle, you’re making near constant 90° turns. This method has the same total number of degrees turned, but with 90′s instead of 180s. Eighteen 90′s needed.
One slight annoyance with both of the previous tactics is that turning a 90° at the edge of a yard results in a lost corner of tall grass. The Zamboni pattern is a clever one that removes the lost corners. If we were to label the columns of our 10×10 matrix as 1 through 10, the zamboni pattern runs column 1, then zips over to column 5. Back to 2, then to 6. You have overlapped the ends, which is lost time, but it makes some bit of sense for more rectangular yards. You still end up with eighteen 90° turns.
This weekend I discovered a new strategy by accident.
The big assumption in the content above is level topography. When a hill is in play things get funky. It’s much harder to do a perimeter cut on a hill. 1/4 of the time is spent pushing the mower uphill. BAD MOVE.
This weekend I realized that if you move to The Long Haul perpendicular to the hill slope, things work out very very nicely. Yes, you’re taking 180° turns, but you never have to push uphill.
This revelation pleases me.
The House of Rock endured two major bath renovations in 2012. Endure is an apt word choice because these renovations, not unlike all other Mike D projects, extended past the expected completion dates (understatement.) I’m here today to share pictures of the second overhaul.
Shockingly, I didn’t take ‘before’ pictures of the upstairs bath. The best I have is a mid-process shot:
And here’s the completed creation!
We dumped the tub, raised the roof, threw in a skylight and installed a new vanity and new tile! Walls were painted, fixtures were added, heaters were replumbed! The fan was upgraded, lighting improved! And lastly a beautiful frameless glass door now encloses the shower.
Distribution of labor:
Demolition and Plumbing – Mike D, Jen, and Brian
Electrical work – Brian
Purchasing of pieces – Mike D.
Building labor – Walker Builders (relative of Jesse – honest pricing/good work)
Two baths, two months, too much time spent plumbing.
I’m glad it’s done.
PEX is a copper substitute for domestic plumbing. And while today’s post title might be a bit of a hyperbole, the stuff is still pretty nifty. The word PEX comes from its formal name “Cross Linked Polyethylene”. It’s a convenient substitute for copper because the connection points do not require ‘sweating’ (a process that involves torch, flux, and solder.)
My first experience with PEX went well. For whatever reason, I envisioned this stuff working with all slide and lock connectors – in fact most joints require a crimping tool (otherwise the plumbing components cost about 5 bucks a piece – compared to 2.50ish) Still, it’s a pretty easy to use.
PEX joints are made with small rings of metal which need to be crimped to provide a water tight connection between the plastic PEX tubing and the brass elbows and connectors. Since this was a small job, I cheaped out on the crimping tool. While it was the fiscally intelligent decision, this choice resulted in a lot more muscle to crimp the fasteners together.
It took about five hours to get all of the equipment from Home Depot and install the plumbing. Now that I’ve done it once, I could probably do it in about half that time. An expert could do it in 45-60m.
Verdict: Use PEX wherever possible in home plumbing applications.
The House of Rock has started its next renovation adventure: the bathrooms. Plural.
Having never embarked on such a journey, I vasty underestimated the job. This is not unusual. Sometimes my mind tricks me into thinking that renovation jobs will be simple, and only once I’ve passed the point of no return do I realize that I have entered a world of hurt.
I’m doing the demolition for the two bathrooms and then I’ve hired a family friend to help with fixing things up.
Thankfully my roommate Brian was available to help with the demolition. He was far more efficient than I was, though I’ve learned a few tricks that will most certainly help me on the second bathroom.
Today the reconstruction begins.
Nothing too crazy with this first bathroom. New walls, new floor, new tile, new framing, and a less mildew friendly shower area. More photos to come!
It’s a shame that Poison Ivy isn’t a cash crop – because Jed Clampett’s boon would have nothing on my natural resource. The House of Rock is plagued by Poison Ivy. But this is no weak intruding battalion of greens, nay. The roots of one infestation easily had a 40mm diameter. The House of Rock is infested by the Andre the Giant of Poison Ivy plants.
I’ve struck back at this itchy invasion before, but this time it was no holds barred. Literally, no holds were barred because I bought a pair of chemical coveralls.
All was protected from that sinister oil except for about 5 square inches of exposed skin between my chin and my goggles.
Anyone who knows me knows exactly what happens next in this story: Poison ivy on my face.
Recently Roommate Kevin has noticed his vision degrading. Proactive as he is, he ventured into the optometrist office yesterday with the sinking feeling that glasses were in his future.
Turns out his sight is declining from 20/10 to 20/15.
Apparently Kevin is degrading from SuperHero to SuperHuman.
While this winter might have been one of the tamest we’ve seen in recent history, it has felt like forever to the pizza oven which has laid quietly dormant for five months. And what better way to kick off daylight savings than resurrect its fiery heart! Indeed, the decision to host a pizza party at the HoR led to what very well might have been two of the most productive weeks ever seen by the likes of the House of Rock.
It started with a massive cleaning effort by Jen and me. Jen acted as catalyst, I acted as steamroller. Goodwill trips were made. Trashbags were filled. The mop was dusted off and used. It was a new day for the House of Rock.
Next I got rid of the Mazda and the Van. I used JunkmyCar.com – speedy and effective! I got about $300 for each vehicle. BAM. Then I scheduled a visit by the maids (MaidPro there). When the Saturday prep was first initiated the House of Rock glistened.
Saturday prep was extensive. Dough was made, toppings were chopped, meats were pre-cooked, and sauce was left simmering for hours.
Sunday morning saw an early start with the chopping of wood and the cleaning of the oven. We pulled back the cover and started the initial fire. A few hours later the guests started to arrive.
What a day! We made a ton of pizzas and supplemented them with salads, baked beans in the oven, and a few specialty items brought by the guests. Dad D brought poolish dough for pizza and Vivienne brought Naan.
Both experiments were successful (thought the poolish took a few tries).
I have a few pictures that I hope to load up tomorrow. Stay tuned for mouth-watering images.
Final verdict? Massive success. The oven held up fine after its first winter. I look forward to a summer of taste sensations.