You need to read less and think more!

This blog is about getting stoked and getting worthwhile things done. There is a sea of useless information bombarding you, and this is a desert island where you beach your boat and build a hut. There are also some clever little construction tricks to be presented.



Thursday, October 6, 2011

i-n-t-e-r-v-a-l-s

I was reminded again today of the value of working in rhythm.  We human beings are truly designed to create at full throttle, then rest.  Technology and marketing collude to short circuit this, as there is money to be made in grabbing attention, and the coolest tools are best fitted to this task.  However,  we are happiest and most effective when we are not at the effect of that.

Ironically, I am a bit of a fan of both technology and marketing.  I guess I dig it because I value cleverness in general, and those are two arenas where cleverness is attracted and celebrated.  Be on guard, though: we all celebrate Creation or ersatz creation.

A wise protestant once said something to the effect of "all sin is idolatry".  If anyone can make a counterpoint, I will take you out to any extravagant-consumption-based date you can describe.  (Idolators, as a group, like to consume the finer things of this world).  I can't imagine what you have to say.

This is all true but frankly off topic.  My point here is we are to crush it, then sleep.   We are to give it all, then rest.  When we do not do enough or do not rest enough or do not follow the rhythm of do/rest as dictated by Nature, we suffer.  The world suffers.  The ones we love feel the lack of our gifts.  We owe it to ourselves, our best friends and families,  and the world to "bring it".  This cannot happen authentically unless we hide out when it is appropriate.  Nor can it happen when we just reflect without boldness.  It is time to step up or step away.    Thank you.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Against the grain.

About nine months ago, I may have spent an afternoon as the most annoying guy on house slab pour ever. A really neat couple in Llano,TX was building a ranch home with Sammy Lackey, a solid local builder there, and they wanted concrete floors. However, they were adamant that they not be slippery for their dogs' sake (the Bot 3000 COF meter is geared for something other than paw traction).  The saw a picture in my portfolio of a floor we had done with a very rough, hand troweled finish (on the West Coast, I think they call it a sweat finish), and that looked just right to them.  The concrete contractor, on the other hand, had never heard of such a thing.  What's kind of funny is how "unusual things" go over in rural Texas.

Mike, the concrete contractor, is both very competent, and a good guy;  we had worked on a handful of projects together, and I think we started with some mutual respect.

The cast of guys finishing that day was an all-star-team of sorts:  Normally, (as racist as this may sound), there is a fat-ish white guy running the crew, and 3-10 Mexicans doing the actual work.  Since the economy was slow,  almost every "jefe" I had seen in Llano County was working on this job as a finisher.  I don't know what the Mexicans were doing that day.

When I sent the pictures to Mike of the rough finish we were after, and talked to him about it, it was obvious that he wasn't really feeling it.  So, I planned on coming out the day of the pour to teach a clinic on rough, random looking finishing.  When I rolled up, the vibe was pretty tense.  Without exaggerating, there was probably a century of experience finishing concrete between the guys there, and here I come with a bunch of worn-out pool trowels hanging from their handles in a carpenter's box in my truck.  I was going to roll up in a detailed pickup and show these salty old dogs how to finish this slab?  Right.

Two of the guys were acting extra friendly and interested, which indicates that the other 6 were talking crap about me and the Christian within these two was screaming inside about what's right and wrong when folks use there word in a negative way.  Anyway, despite their best intentions, the notion of finishing concrete less than as smooth and tight as you know to do on a "house-slab" was going over like a fart at a funeral.  Hand troweling when there were 3 perfectly good finishing machines on Mike's trailer was equally objectionable.  Ultimately, the job got done, and we may have placed the world's first power-troweled sweat finish.  The local concrete guys were pretty sure that I had ruined the project and that there was not a good chance that the floor was going to look like anything they wanted to be associated with.  However, they knew that I wasn't an idiot or a charlatan, and were therefore curious as to what I was going to do with this terrible slab that I inspired.

Now frankly, when we came back to stain and finish out the floor, it looked rougher than I remember.  The house was framed and dried in and so there was a ton of edge work that had to be done with hand held grinders.   Two days, a couple of sets of diamond tooling and six grinders later, it was really cool looking.  We left the pattern of the "finishing" intact, but we ground off an awful lot of concrete.


We got to finish it out in September, and even got to mimic their ranch brand in a Texas engraving on the front porch.  I really can't wait to pop some Coors Light with the salty old concrete guys in Llano and get their candid opinion about what this project, because (now image this said with a heavy twang "That looks good-I don't care who you are".