Saturday, February 03, 2007

Concrete disposal

Today I got up at an un-weekend-like 7 am to rush to an 8 am rendezvous with a digger-and-truck team to implement a final solution to the concrete under my soil. I was wary on the roads because I expected the ice-melt from Friday's snowfall to be still frozen. It wasn't. Local word has it that the weather is different on either side of the tunnel between Matsuyama and Hojo, and it seems to be true - there was no snow on the ground on the Hojo side.

My uncle had called a friend in Hojo who called another friend who runs the Hojo Dosha earth-moving company located within view of our house. They were there with a 2-ton skip truck and light digger. We worked from 8:30 am to 5 pm and still the waste concrete and asphalt was not out of the ground. We got most of the gross stuff out, but I'm going to have go over it inch by inch to get out the little lumps of asphalt. The soil itself is clay with bits of quartz, and it compacts into a very hard mass when weight is applied. We applied several tons of weight to it today. The gents are coming again on Monday to finish the job.

On Friday I read an interview with Roscoe Bartlett who is bothered about Peak Oil

One barrel of oil is the equivalent of 25,000 man hours of labor. That's like you having 12 people that work exclusively for you for one year, and all it costs you is a little over a hundred dollars. That's the $50 for the barrel of oil and maybe $50 for refining it. And you get that kind of labor intensity. The energy intensity is just phenomenal. I have a little personal experience.
I too have a little personal experience. Digging out one block of a concrete, dragging it up and out of its hole and down the slope was a huge effort. Watching a small~medium sized digger just scraping up bucket-loads of concrete blocks effortlessly in minutes using the energy intensity of fossil fuels really brought home to me the significance of our energy use. It would have taken me three years of weekend work to clear what we managed in a day.

I really wanted to do all the work 'under me own steam', but it would simply not have been done, and all the benefits of homestead vegetable production (projected) would have been lost.

Today Selco Home was having an 'open house structural inspection' at our house to show everybody how good naked 2-by-6 looks, and how warm it is unfinished with just a couple of small stoves running. Nobody came. It's their loss. Selco had prepared some fascinating exhibits, including comparisons of 2*6 and 2*4 with glass wool, and 2*4 with cellulose insulation.

The stairs have also been put in. It's amazing how the addition of stairs makes the house seem much bigger. It's been a roller-coaster ride. When the foundations were done we grieved about how small it would be. When the first floor was done it looked big. Then the second floor made it look pokey and small. Now with the stairs in it looks just right. It's weird.

Looking exceedingly good upstairs.

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