Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Totally off topic, but something interesting never the less

Ok so my post today is not about building or living in the Alaskan Bush, but a total change of pace to something that I'm very interested in, music.

Yesterday there was an announcement made, about the nominee's for the 2011 Rock 'n Roll hall of fame. The thing that was interesting wasn't the nominations, although the fact that Neil Diamond has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame yet is just crazy. No it led me to look at all the inductees, and be very puzzled.

You see the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, selects nominee's based upon certain criteria...
Those being Leaders in the music industry joined together in 1983 to establish the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. One of the Foundation’s many functions is to recognize the contributions of those who have had a significant impact on the evolution, development and perpetuation of rock and roll by inducting them into the Hall of Fame.

However for performers (there is a non-artist category too) the criteria include...
Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.

The Foundation’s nominating committee, composed of rock and roll historians, selects nominees each year in the Performer category. Ballots are then sent to an international voting body of more than 500 rock experts. Those performers who receive the highest number of votes - and more than 50 percent of the vote - are inducted. The Foundation generally inducts five to seven performers each year.

Ok so lets look at those people who are inductee's well there are a few that can't be argued about on the influence and significance of their contributions, Leonard Cohen springs to mind for example, or Black Sabbath, or David Bowie, or the Clash. All who have had a significant impact on music, whether it's your specific taste or not is not relevant.

Now then there are other acts in the RnR HOF that you look at and scratch your head (now don't get me wrong these are good acts, nothing wrong with them, in fact there are some who's entire back catalog I own), like for example Aerosmith, great band, great sound, but what's their influence and significance over and above others in the same vein that being upbeat guitar rock punctuated with power ballads. One of the nominee's from this year was in exactly the same vein Bon Jovi (yes, yes I know, but they are one of life's secret guilty pleasures) who incidentally weren't inducted. At around the same time as Aerosmith were forming their style there was also Boston, Blue Oyster Cult, Journey and others who were similarly upbeat guitar rock and power ballad bands and who are also still going, and as far as concert spectacle, well then they're up against Kiss (who are also strangely missing from the RnR HOF). So what is it that makes a RnR HOF band... I'm not sure, but enough bashing of Aerosmith, lets look at some that are in there, that at least make me go "hmmm".

The Animals, great band, came from my home town, Hall of Fame...? not in my opinion, "House of the Rising Sun" and "Please Don't let me be misunderstood" aren't really enough to my mind, and they weren't especially innovative.

Genesis, another great band, did some early experimental stuff with Peter Gabriel when he was the vocalist, along the lines of Yes and Jethro Tull, but their later work was certainly more of a straight commercial sound probably heavily influenced by Collins. So are they inducted for their experimental period, when Yes and Jethro Tull were far more so and Gabriel's solo work is at the same and better levels, and these are not inducted? Or for commercial success?

The Pretenders, once again great band, but HOF nope, catchy tunes and a melding of punk and new wave styles, but they weren't especially original, and another band that's in there did this far more effectively that band being The Police.

The Sex Pistols (What! you don't think that they should be in the RnR HOF???? are you insane...? Nope). The Pistols were unique, and sure they had a huge influence (so did fellow RnR HOF members The Ramones), but they were primarily a vehicle for Malcolm McLaren, who is not in the RnR HOF. Musically they were nothing, as proven by the firing of Glen Matlock to be replaced by Sid Vicious, who until he was hired as a Bassist had never played any guitar.

U2 (another shocker), Ok so Bono has the future of being cannonized, but what has U2 added to music in general? Sure they've done punk, new wave, and culminated in the sound that comprised the Joshua Tree, then went experimental with Achtung Baby and into loops and samples with Pop, but nothing was better than other bands that were in the same genres. Yes they have a message, that's changed over time from the re-unification of Ireland to world peace. So have many others. They have a big stage show, similar to many others, so is it just that U2 do all these things as a single band? Maybe, I don't think they're RnR HOF material, but like I said I'm not sure what the criteria are.

Ok so you can see my points on a few of the bands in there... Now lets look at some notable absences...

Deep Purple, I mean there's Black Sabbath in the RnR HOF, and there's Led Zeppelin in there too, the three biggest influences on Heavy Metal and one of the three is missing, there's not even a nod to Blackmore or Gillan in any alternate vehicle they played with.

Motorhead and Iron Maiden, any of the "thrash" metal bands will state both of these bands as primary influences, in fact Metallica who are inductee's have said many times that they're primary influences. So why are they not in the RnR HOF?

Kiss, I already mentioned them, musically dull (I-IV-V blues progression), but they did it with such aplomb (and an every changing line up). They also had the #1 stage show perhaps ever, they started the whole merchandising deal too, with comic books and action figures, and a movie. They're not in the HOF. Without Kiss then there likely would be no Arena stage shows of the types we have today, that include Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Christina Aguilera, and the usual suspects of Metallica, U2, and other rock bands.

Rush, is this because they're Canadian. Individually the members of Rush have received just about every award going, for musicianship, and songwriting. Name any other band who's drummer is the primary lyricist. Name any other band that has had the influence of Rush both as individuals and as a band, I would suspect that there is not a rock drummer on the planet that does not want to play as well as Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson is a very highly regarded guitar player, and some of the more innovative bassists cite Geddy Lee as a strong influence.

Sonic Youth, perhaps one of the biggest influences of underground rock music. Incredible musicianship, they're often described as this generations Velvet Underground. They've also been inducted into the Library of Congress with their album Daydream Nation.

Anyway I'm totally bemused, perhaps it's best described in the following quote, from one of the non-inductee's and as yet non-Nominee's ever, Paul Stanley of Kiss

The beauty of America is that you can basically start any kind of private club you want to. This one happens to be called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's a very impressive name for a club but it's an illusion. It's the creation of a group of industry people and critics who decide who they deem as qualified to be in their little admiration society. It's their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it's not the people's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Have you ever voted? I know I haven't. That's why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, besides having people who very much belong in there, have an abundance of people who most people will scratch their head and not even have a clue who they are. I don't have anything against anybody who's been inducted, but more than a couple of them are a joke. A band or musician's impact is measured by how they change and influence society and other musicians. That and how many albums and concert tickets they sell should be what gets them into the Hall of Fame. As far as I'm concerned it's a private club with a misleading name. It's a sham.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snug as a bug

Temps have been hovering between 25 and 45 below all this week, with only a few hours of daylight. The darkness is normal, but this cold snap is lasting just a little longer than expected. We normally have 3 or 4 days hovering around -40 in December and then it warms back up to a respectable -10/-20 range that you can work in. We're hoping the snap ends soon since we're not playing macho this year and trying to work in the bitter cold.

The first winter you're here, almost everyone with any stones tries to prove that they can tough it out when it's cold. A lot of that is down to shear ignorance of just how fast the cold can kill you, but a good bit is just down to making your stand against Mother Nature. But once you prove to yourself that you can do it and survived the weather the first winter, you wise up and stay inside when it's bitter outside. You've already proven that you can manage it if you absolutely need to, so there's nothing to gain by putting yourself at risk when it's not necessary.

So other than emptying slop and ash buckets, and splitting and stacking a little firewood, we're staying inside with the woodstove... and the propane heater now and then as well since we don't need to tough it out at only 55 in the tent while we're recuperating from this gnarly flu.

The cabin will still be there when it warms up a little, and the work will still need to get done; but in the meantime we're staying toasty and getting lots of rest. Figure once we warm up a little again, we can get back to work all rejuvenated instead of being worn down and dragging ass. If we move in before Christmas or New Year's that'll be great, if not... oh well!! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cabin Building - Sub-Zero Style

Two hours of work and we only got the back door installed. Working when it's near 30 below has it's own set of unique challenges... like wearing full snow gear and super-mega-gumby gloves:

Is it Plickety or Gungnir? Hard to tell under 3 layers and a parka ;)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Heading everyone off at the pass...

So since everyone seems to be concerned about our well being, yes we're still alive, although this could in theory be a malicious hacker posting this, to let you know we're OK after secretly killing us for our generators and dog food. It's not however, it's just us.

So what's happened...?

Plickety got a little sick so we decided to head off into Fairbanks just in case she needed some medical attention, turns out it was just some stomach bug some stress and dehydration, which was a relief. She's doing a lot better now, but that took some time out of our schedule both being there, and getting everything defrosted on our return (no heat in our place for about 4-5 days).

While we were there we picked up our four new Batteries (yes it's capitalized for good reason) they're 150 lb AGM, and for the new place, they'll entirely replace our current set of 12 sealed lead acid batteries and probably a bit more (and of course not running the generator every day because they'll hold charge).

We also picked up a pallet of pet food, and did a human food run. Then finally a few things to work on the house (expanding foam and silicone caulk).

Work on the house is progressing slowly, we've only been back 4 days, one were spent getting the place warmed up, making sure frozen batteries didn't go boom, and getting rid of food that self destructed at about -10F (have you ever seen a soda can that froze in about 20 minutes...?). One was spent helping out our neighbors who needed water and had a truck that wouldn't start. One was spent getting a truck bed of our firewood back to our place and splitting it, and yesterday I finished half of one end of the upper walls before discovering that I was a little chilly (it was only about 0 to -5F but there was a 10-15 mph wind blowing through the upstairs wind tunnel, leading me to discover that any thought of sensitivity in my nose was gone for about 15-20 minutes upon warming).

So that leads to today, where it's about -15 to -20F and the truck won't really run that well, it'll start and then chooses to not idle (even mechanical things have an awareness of when idea's are good and bad, the truck has decided working is a bad idea). We have both generators currently running, one for the tent (and recharging the truck battery), the other for the truck winterization package to get some heat into the block (and hopefully to convince it that it's not really as cold as it seems). We do need the truck running, since we need to take our 3.5kW generator down to our place for power tools, and carrying that for half a mile is not recommended without some anti-hernia briefs.

One final point, on our return home on Wednesday, we hit a ptarmigan when an entire flock of them decided that rather than stay safe on the left side of the road, they'd fly across to the right side of the road while also coming towards us while we skittered along at about 35-40 mph. It took out our passenger side headlight (but only the high beam, not the low beam), more pertinently it also left us a nice present of it's entire stomach contents in the headlight itself. However this means it didn't flap around suffering, but was dead as a doornail on impact. Which if you have to go, I guess isn't too bad of a way.

Anyway I'm off to check the truck battery and engine temps... See how it's doing.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving yesterday.  Our neighbors, Dave & Jordan, invited us over for a hot shower and an excellent dinner, and we thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the company (and being clean for a change LOL).

The weather has been truly nasty this week. It warmed up to the low-mid 30's and proceeded to pelt us several inches of rain/ice. A lot of the snow melted or turned to slush, coupled with the rain-ice, making the roads and nearly everything super-slippery and treacherous.

So, after spending days scraping and shoveling snow, the cabin ended up flooded with rain :(  We did manage to get a temporary tarp on to help stop anymore from getting in and hopefully allow what had already gotten in to drain. We kept getting drenched and frozen to the bone trying to get the end walls up. Believe me, plain old cold is way better than sorta cold and bloody wet!!

Then temps started falling and dumped a bunch of snow on us. It's still snowing - so the expected sub-zero temps haven't arrived yet. Hopefully we can those end walls completed before I head into town (convoying with Dave & Jordan) on Sun/Mon if the roads cooperate. So far, lots of Fairbanks and most of the roads have been closed down with this freak weather, so going in any earlier was pointless.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 86 C-c-c-c-cold

It snowed on Saturday and Sunday, so we have about 3-4 more inches. At least it was a good test of the roof pitch... only mild accumulation on the upper rafters and completely clear on the lower rafters. Snow-shed will be even more improved when it isn't just naked sheathing up there. At least we only got a little bit of snow in through the upstairs end walls where it's still open, and a little downstairs where it blew in through the window and door holes. We'll have to staple some Visqueen up over those until we get some caulk and get them installed.

It's -20F today... at noon.  Needless to say we aren't getting much done at the cabin.  Yesterday G started fully nailing all the sheathing per manufacturer schedule. I started sweeping, shoveling and chipping ice from inside the cabin... that didn't get too far since the temps were dropping fast with this cold front coming in.

When I went out to start the truck this morning, all the breath got sucked out of my lungs and my nostrils immediately froze together, so I officially gave G the day off today to rest and recuperate, and bundled up to head down to the cabin to do some more clean up. In the two hours before I started getting too cold, I did manage to get most of the snow out of the downstairs except under the stove, around the stack of remaining sheathing and under the doors (stored in the pantry) because I couldn't move those wearing my big ol' arctic mittens even if they weren't too heavy for me to lift by myself. I also couldn't chip ice because I couldn't grip the scrapper in my mitties either. Seriously, it is so cold that even the dog's feet were freezing... she'd run around in the snow for awhile and then come sit on the black tarp in the sunbeam by the south window on her rump with her back feet raised up off the floor looking at me pathetically.

Good thing that this cold front is supposed to pass through by Thursday and we'll be returning to our regularly scheduled programming of highs around 15F with lows of 0F.

On a positive note, the sky is crystal clear and it's very sunny. Unfortunately, I can't take pics for you because the camera will only power on for a split-second at these temps LOL. But it's definitely nice and bright inside the cabin with those two 4'x3' windows on the south wall... so bright even that I was completely blinded whilst trying to brush the snow out of the soffit cavity above them!

If the weather can just hold out until we get the end walls framed and sheathed, all the nailing completed, the rafter tails blocked in, and all the ice and snow out then we can head into Fairbanks to pick up the caulk, expanding foam, and insulation blower. Once we can get the exterior air-sealed and the interior insulated, most of the remaining work that can be done this winter will be indoors with the lovely woodstove to keep us toasty!

At least I did manage to measure the "as-built" opening for the staircase so I can spend the rest of the day tweaking the SketchUp model so we can get those built and installed before we start the drywall upstairs. No more daredevil dogs on ladders, extreme rescue measures, and annoying whining freak outs :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 78-82 **Pictures**

Ok - so we finally got the camera to play nice with the computer so we could get these pics posted for you. Enjoy!!

Day 78 -- The Sheathing

First floor walls all sheathed - figuring out the loft sub-floor layout since we're a teeny-weensy bit out of square.
Looking in the "Front Door" on the west side - all the boxes are the stove, flue, & chimney assemblies. And another example of creative bush repurposing... a pretzel barrel for our 8d nails after the cardboard box exploded!
Looking in the "Front Door" - eventually we'll replace that ladder with an L-staircase. We did, finally, remove that lovely yellow ratchet strap once we got the subfloor down and everything stayed put - YAY!
With the walls done, the guys start on the loft floor.
Half our load of insulation. It was snowing that day, which is why G's butt is all white LOL!
Ripley hated being left on the ground while we were all up on the loft deck. After climbing 10 feet up the ladder, she suddenly realized how high up she was and lost her nerve.
Just look at that face!  "Mommy, you sadistic human, put down the camera and help me!!"
View out the "back window" - sorry for the blur, I was shivering!
View out the "front window".

Day 81 -- The Rafters

Stood the first 4 rafters we built the day before.
Running out of space to build trusses on the deck, so we started stacking them against the ones we'd already lifted and braced.
Ken counting rafters to make sure we had enough pieces cut -- ended up with two extra lower rafters OOPS! Note that Ken (6'1") can just squeeze under the pitch break. Our lower rafters are so steep so we only lost 16" of usable floor space in the loft.
There's the peak at 9'3" - or at least what it looks like from 5'6"  :)
Last one raised - and there's still some daylight left!!
Close up of our seat cut on the lower rafter (75°). The tail is angled to meet up with porch roof (15°) once it gets constructed.
Close up of the gambrel pitch break, where 75° lower rafter meets the 60° upper rafter. The angled joint is braced by a 4' gusset of 3/4" plywood, and a 4x11 tie plate bent over the rafter at the corners. This way, we avoided needing the support wall that you commonly find in gambrel roof construction.
Close up of the ridge braced by a 4' collar-tie/gusset from a 2x6, and 4x11 tie plate bent over the rafter at the corners. We'll come back later (after the sheathing) and add strapping over the outside of the ridge and pitch breaks to reinforce the bracing.
All up with the outside common rafters notched out for the 2x6 outriggers that will support the 2x6 barge rafters on the 2' overhang.
More pics out the "front window".
Sunset over the hills looking left out of the "front window".
And a very cool moonrise to end our day before climbing down off the roof.
The end of another snowy work day -- I'm hiding in the truck with the heater on because my hands were completely frozen!!
Day 81 - The Roof Deck

Here we are at lunch with the outriggers and barge rafters installed and the decking down on the east side. It was pretty windy that day, which made this job ever so much fun -- glad Ken was there to help because passing out the sheets and holding them in place definitely required 3 people on this steep a roof.
And finally, the decking down on the west side of the roof -- yes, the last 3 sheets went up by shop light because Ken is a crazy person!  :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 82 (Short Version)

Hello faithful followers! Just a very brief note to tell you that we now have a honest to goodness roof on our little cabin. With Ken's help and two days of solid hustling, we got the rafters up and it's all sheathed... up to and including Ken doing his Spider-Man thing on our 23/12 (75 °) - 7/12 (30 °) gambrel to put the final sheet of sheathing on the ridge while the last rays of sunlight were fading to indigo.

We has pics and the computer the camera likes has been fixed, but we're honestly too cold and tired to fidget with them right now. I promise that we'll post them soon, maybe even tomorrow if the big snow the Weather Liars have warned us about actually gets here.  (at least there won't be as much snow to shovel out of the house now!!!)

Until then, winter blessings to all of you, and thank you ever so much for your kind words and well wishes -- they keep us going when it's 3F with a windchill of -10F!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 79

Ken came to help :) It's been snowing off and on, and it's a tad chilly, so things are going a little slowly. We spend a lot of time warming up our hands on the generator exhaust and sweeping snow of the work surfaces and lumber.

Yesterday we got all the sheathing installed downstairs and the subfloor put up on the loft, as well as started cutting out the door & window holes from the sheathing until the batteries in the cordless SawzAll died on us (too cold to hold charge for long).

Today, used corded SawzAll to finishing cutting the holes. Made one rafter template, verified it worked, then begain cutting all the pieces. Got four trusses assembled, but ran out of daylight before we could stand those up.

Tomorrow is errand day, but hopefully we can get back from Manley in time to cut all the remaining rafter pieces and all the blocking for the roof. Then Ken can come back over on Thursday to stand the 4 completed trusses and we can build and stand the remaining 9, get all the blocking and the outriggers and barge/flying rafters installed so we can frame in the end walls and sheath the loft and roof on Friday.

Have pics, but the computer the camera works with is on the fritz until we get a replacement keyboard (coffee & computers don't mix!).  I'll try to shoot a video walkthrough tomorrow when we get back from Manley since that camera works with my computer. Only problem with vid (besides having to wait until the middle of the night to upload it!) is getting adequate lighting with the snow. Last time I tried to light a scene when it was snowing everything came out all white and grainy from the reflection... we'll see if it works better this time. Maybe it won't be snowing tomorrow or won't be as overcast. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Adventures with Trailers

Yes, we did finally get the last of the Lowes order loaded up onto the trailer, all wrapped up like a burrito in the tarp with the mother of all ratchet strap tie-downs.  Good thing, too, since we put her in the ditch about a mile down the road trying to do the turn around and loop back to enter our trail at a better angle.

So, normally, blipping off the side of the road right there wouldn't be too much of a problem. The shoulder is nice and wide since the old highway used to run there. But, um, with about 8" of snow, plus gully, plus drift and plowing, we couldn't get up the berm. The truck would make it up about halfway, then the trailer would start to slide slideways on the angle and drag the truck back down. And we couldn't keep driving forward until we reached some flat part because the trailer tongue got embedded on some stump or hill or something.

We finally had to unhitch the truck, go back to get the winch. Decided that maybe Ken would have some neat trailer tricks... since it is his after all... so we dropped by and dragged him away from the dinner table. He managed to get the semi running and we headed back to rehitch our truck to trailer. After surveying the scene, we tossed a few flares on the road (yes, it was already dark by dinnertime), ran out the winch and chained it to the semi. This the semi acting as a deadman anchor, we attempted to winch the truck plus trailer out of the ditch, but it kept doing the sideways slide. So, we tightened the winch slack and Ken started edging forward as slowly as possible (considering that the semi wouldn't idle in the cold so he had to feather the clutch and throttle to keep her running) with G gunning the truck trying to steer and me running alongside the truck on the icy road with the winch remote trying to keep the line tight.

We did eventually make it up and out of the ditch and back down our trail to the tent.  And not a damned thing in that load even shifted :)  Tarps - check! Bungees - check! Ratchet straps - check! Winch - check! Tow strap - check! Big brass balls - check! 

Ken will be over at 0'dark-thirty tommorow (sunrise is at 9:48, so that's not really early or anything), and we'll get the the trailer unloaded and the sheathing knocked out. Maybe even get the doors & windows in... and if we're really lucky, get a little headstart on the rafters... at least one built so we know my design works so the roof will go lickety-split on Tuesday.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 76

Just a quick update -- we still haven't moved in yet :)

The trailer with all the sheathing and flooring on it was so heavy that it sank into the ground a little, then we got about 6 inches of snow which effectively froze the tires into the depression. Well, we used the jack to break the tires free, but the snow precluded the truck from getting enough traction to pull the trailer tires out of their little ice pockets. Of course, the chains for our truck were actually about 2" too short for our tires -- no help there! So we had to offload all the sheathing and T&G flooring and take it back to the cabin in small loads in the back of the truck... all while we were getting another 6 or so inches of snow.

An G had to rebuild the Kipor generator and we had to do the firewood thing during all that as well... never a dull moment.

So, anyway, today we hooked our winch up to the back of the empty trailer and pulled it out of the depression until we were able to hitch it up to the truck and drive over to Ken & Sarah's to finally load up some of our Lowe's order. Luckily it's mostly insulation which is big & bulky, but not very heavy so we shouldn;t have the sinking problem again although hauling a trailer through the woods on snowpack is really fun. We managed to get that first load down the trail only losing 3 bags of insulation along the way... as far as we can tell all the glass in the doors and windows is still intact and undamaged.

G-man ran back up to help Ken remove the transmission on his truck before we lost the remaining daylight, so we'll end up taking all this stuff down to the cabin and off-loading it tomorrow. Then back up to get (hopefully) the last load, unload all that at the cabin, and then take the trailer back to Ken & Sarah where it can spend the winter parked on a nice gravel driveway rather than in the tundra ROFL.  There's no way I'm even going to think about taking it into Fairbanks on our very late winter stocking run so we can get everthing in one trip. Nope, not with a 20' trailer and no chains! If G & Ken want to try that trick (Ken with trailer experience but minimal winter driving experience, G with winter driving experience but minimal trailer experience) they can do it without me... and since I'm the master at combat shopping, I doubt that's going to happen!! Looks like we either make multiple trips in Sonja, or we manage to help unload one of Ken's big box trailers and hook up his semi properly to get everything for both families all in one go with all the right safety gear and appropriately-sized vehicles for the job.  (You know my vote, right?!)

As for the cabin, we now have all the lumber down there, but I needed to make a modification to the rafter truss design after talking things out with Ken and doing a little more research online. No biggy, the new design may actually be a little simpler and use slightly less materials, with the added benefit of allowing us to raise the truss in half's and marry them with a gusset at the peak once they're up since we don't have a lot of room to work up there. That'll certainly be lighter than trying to lift the whole truss up at once. We also need to double-up two of the loft joists and cut out the one in between to add trimmers so that we have enough clearance for the flue pipe where it goes through the loft floor -- I swear the manual said 4" clearance, but it's actually 8" darnit!! So, hopefully, on Monday (after the final hauling tomorrow -- please please) we can fix those joists, sand down the top of the header beams so the rafter tails will sit flush & even, put the subfloor on the loft, and get the sheathing on downstairs.

If Ken helps, we may get all that done, plus the doors and windows installed (temporarily for the winter because it's too cold to seal and caulk them properly now) all on Monday. If we button up the downstairs, we can stop shoveling snow out of it all the time and can put our little kerosene heater in there so we (and the generator!) can warm up a bit while we're doing the rafters and roof. Then Tuesday I can construct and dry fit the first rafter truss so we know it actually works, and start cutting and assembling the pieces for the remaining 12 trusses so we can lift them and get the sheathing on (with Ken's help again, hopefully) on Wednesday.  If we have time on Wed, we can frame in the end walls, get them sheathed and install the windows. Otherwise we'll have to do that on Thursday. Of course, everything is subject to weather, injuries, illness, technical difficulties and mechanical failures LOL!

We can't do the porches until we go into Fairbanks to get the piers, but we need to go in to get the insulation blower and the stove hearth anyway... so that's not an extra trip or anything. When we get back, we can do the insulation and drywall, fire up the woodstove and see how things go, maybe get the front porch & stairs on at least. Then it's back into Fairbanks to get our kitchen cabinets and shelving. Once those are installed and the drywall has been taped and floated... THEN we can move :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 69

So, here it is October 30th, one day before our drop-dead moving date and we're not moving... yet :)

Firstly, I'm just having too much fun shoveling snow out of my living room... highly entertaining, recommend it to everyone at least once!

Secondly, Lowes says they're delivering our insulation and the doors & windows on Monday... so what the heck, might as well keep going, right?

Thirdly, if we do get it finished and sheathed and insulated and install the doors & windows and get the drywall hung now, before we move in, then we can install cabinets and shelving to put stuff away as we're moving so we're not tripping over piles of crap all over the floor and without having to take it all apart in the spring to fix it all properly.

And lastly, hey... it's snowing... so it's not cold enough to stop building yet. Only wimps and weenies hang up their tool belts before it gets below 0F for the daytime highs :D  If the weather can hold out, so can we.

So anyway, we briefly got the camera working and Gungnir downloaded the pics, so here's a quick update on where things are at with the cabin.

Day 59: These pics were once we got the 4 joists above the posts installed to lock in the header beams. Nothing spectacular, just a PITA.

Day 62: Ken came over with all his nifty toys and we got the remaining loft joists in, the end walls completely framed, and the interior pantry/staircase walls framed. Pay no attention to the ratchet straps holding the northwall plumb... really, that joist is not so bowed that we need the ratchet strap to hold in the proper place until we get the subfloor nailed in. No, no, really, we just thought that a big yellow canvas strap would be an awesome design feature.  And also completely ignore that the beam on the SE corner is still all twisty and canted funny... we're sure it'll all straighten out once we get the roof on and a little weight on it. If not, well, we do have some 6" lag screws that we can use to persuade it to cooperate with the rest of the building.

Day 63-69: Not really much work on the cabin much as we would have liked to get the subfloor down and the rafters started. We had to make a whole bunch of calls to find out the status of orders and deliveries, and since we don't have a phone, that means we spent almost an entire day up at Ken & Sarah's using their phone. Then began hauling all the remaining lumber and materials back to the tent from the various places we stashed them and loading them up on the trailer so we could take them down to the cabin. That got interrupted with the Manley errand day, where we just had to stop in and check in with everyone since so many folks are heading south for the winter.

Then we had a small issue with the Kipor generator not liking to run in the cold so we had to half-choke it, which fouled the plug, which you have to completely disassemble the thing to get to, which then turned out to be 13/16" which is the only plug socket we don't have, so up to get one from Trapper, only to snap the darned lead off while we were reassembling... good thing we still have the Honda! We'd almost gotten finished with the lumber hauling when the Weather Liars started calling for a "storm", so we thought it best to drag back some more of our firewood and get a bunch split up just in case. Which was good, because it started snowing shortly afterwards while we were up checking on Ken & Sarah's dogs since they were up in Fairbanks.

So, finally finished hauling back the last load of lumber and loading up the remaining tongue-and-groove flooring onto the trailer, only to find out that the trailer won't move. Don't know if that's because it's overloaded, or because the snow froze it to the ground, or because the snow wasn't allowing the truck to get enough traction. Whatever, we took one load of OSB off and drove it down to the cabin in the truck and then had to shovel & sweep all the snow out of the living room so we could load the sheathing in. Briefly contemplated trying to get the subfloor in the loft laid, but it started snowing again, so we went back to the tent to spilt some more firewood instead.

And somewhere in all that, I had a sick day where I pretty much slept the whole time... which was good, because at least I got to rest my gimpy hand. And, of course, you know all about how we spent today from G's earlier post about helping Ken & Sarah retrieve their truck and trailer.  Ahhh, life in the bush in winter :D

With any luck we'll get the subfloor down and the first floor sheathed tomorrow, so we can at least stop having to shovel snow out of the cabin. Hey, maybe even get the railer to move without having to unload all the lumber and haul it back in the truck. Once all that's done we get started on the rafters... but that probably won't be until Tuesday since we'll likely be shuttling all our stuff back from the highway after Lowes delivers on Monday... if the trailer moves, that won't take nearly as long and we might get the rafters started earlier.

If Ken can come help, we might even get the rafters done and the roof sheathing up before he and G head back up to Fairbanks on Wednesday to take Trapper to the airport, run more errands, and pick up the insulation blower. If Ken can't help, I'll be assembling rafters while they're gone so we can get them raised when they get back. Otherwise I'll be framing the two loft walls and getting the mesh and vapor barrier installed so we can get the insulation blown in as soon as they get back. Then it's hanging drywall, and back up to Fairbanks to get our cabinets and some more of our winter supplies. Once the cabinets are in, the hearth pad is built, and the stove and chimney are up and running we'll start the move!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Helping out the neighbors...

Yes I know, you all want to find out how the building is going, but I'll leave that one to Plickety.

So today no building, our nearest neighbors had some issues coming back from Fairbanks last night, their transmission let go and they were stuck about 40 miles from home. They got home, but, not with the truck and trailer they were hauling.

So today off we went to get the trailer, fortunately the neighbors have a Semi, so that took care of the towing vehicle. It just needed to get started, and chained up (no traction without a trailer). So that taken care of (by this time it was about 11 or 12) off we go the 40 miles to the place they broke down, with several pauses to check chains that kept loosening, or stretching not sure which. So that took about an hour or two, which would have been awesome, if the truck engine could have maintained enough heat to run the cab heater.

Once we got there first rule of business was to see whether we could get any drive to the pickup, so we topped off the transmission fluids, but no dice. So we disconnected the trailer, and hooked it up to the semi, then we decided to tow the truck too, using a firehose (which was interesting, but they do make a damn fine tow line). Now the engine on the truck was running fine, so great heat thought I, erm no, the engine was barely maintaining temperature to run, so I had to quick switch between the windshield and feet to try to keep the windshield clear, since I was getting snow spray all over it, the wipers cleared it, but it was refreezing, and to try to thaw out my feet. Which were remarkably cold. Then of course because we're towing we were restricted to about 10-15 mph. So a few hours later (and a snapped firehose) we got home. By the way, if you've never driven someone elses truck before on a good dry road, it is not the most comfortable experience being dragged behind another vehicle with about 15' of firehose between you and it on a snowy and icy road. Just in case you ever find yourself in this same situation.

Of course during this time Plickety and the other neighbor are getting a but anxious we've been away for by this time 4-5 hours and there's no sign of us. Our truck Sonja was sitting in their yard but in a different place, so they figured we're ok we have two vehicles, the Semi and our pickup. Then comes the fatal moment, of "what's that red truck over there...? Is that ours?" and gradual dawning that we only took the semi, so they both came looking for us. Found us a short while later.

We got home at about 8:30 to a reasonably cold residence, the last fire was laid at about 11, and of course just for fun we also had only a small supply of split firewood left over, so I had to go fire up the generator, and split wood for 45 minutes on my return.

However on a positive note, it feels pretty good helping out our friends across the road, in their time of need, even though I could have lived without the wood splitting on coming home.

I promise to bug my wife to post her latest report on the building. Right after I download the pictures from the camera that she's been bugging me to do...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 59

Sorry no pics, left the camera in the truck overnight and killed the batteries -- ooops! They're in the recharger now, so hopefully we can revive them.

Well, we have the header beams all anchored in, the first floor end walls framed in, and have started on the loft joists. No work really on Monday since it was errand day in Manley, but we did get our stove which Paul picked up for us while he was in Fairbanks. It started snowing while we were there and didn't stop until Tuesday evening... only 3 or 4 inches accumulated, but it at least helped us slide the 400+ lb stove from the back of the truck into what will eventually become the great room. And today we shoveled and swept all the snow off everything and enjoyed a productive carpentry day in the clear sunshine just below freezing instead of just above zero :) 

The end joists were a bear since we had to worry about them flipping off the end of the wall/top plate and dropping 12' into the snow (possibly taking one of us with it!!), but the rest should go up relatively easy -- hahaha famous last words!  Once we get the full joists up in the two front bays, we're going to frame in the interior walls for the pantry and staircase so we can put in the partial doubled joists in the rear bay. If Ken's available to help us this weekend, we may even get started on the rafters - fingers crossed! We still have 10 days until our drop-dead moving day, so we still *might* get it weathered-in and not have to futz with rigging the tent to the second floor this winter.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 55

Beam Me Up!!

We finally got the beams built up and the walls all braced plumb, and Ken's tractor to start in the cold.  So we now, officially have header beams! Yay!

I was going to film the actual lift for you all; but I missed it. No seriously, I missed the whole thing! I'd been down at the site measuring, marking and templating while G-man was lighting a fire under Ken's tractor (yes, literally, diesels and Alaska winter don't play well together). Well, it was taking them awhile and my poor hands and feet were freezing, so I went back up to the tent to thaw out and get a cup of coffee. They showed up at the tent just after I got there, so I sent them down to the site while I made us all a pot of coffee. Figured it would take them a couple minutes to sort out logistics and move stuff around to get the tractor in and such. But when I got down to the site 15 minutes later - they were already nailing in the last of the anchor cleats!!

I guess I should be thankful that everything was set up so well in advance that it all went quick and smooth... but it was such a huge milestone in the project, and I missed it :(  No cool action shots of Ken lifting that big beam up onto the posts with backhoe and dropping it down neat as you please. From what they say, it only took a tiny bit of persuading to bang them flush on the posts and the walls didn't even budge an inch.

It was nice to have Ken come take a look at what we've done and give his blessing as a professional carpenter/builder on the design though. Some people of the male persuasion in our household had some serious doubts about the integrity of his wife's structural engineering and design abilities :D  But Ken confirmed that the design is actually a little over-engineered for what we're doing, post-framing being as light as it is, and that has put us all at ease.

Once we get the joists hung, that'll plumb up the beams since they're only cleated in place right now. After the joists have tied everything together, we can take down the braces to frame the end walls and get started on the rafters. Woohoo - then it's time to sheath sheath sheath baby! Since Paul picked up our woodstove in Fairbanks for us yesterday, we'll be able to get her heated as soon as the sheathing is on and the flue is installed. Ken's going to come back and help us with the last of the framing as he has time since it's really starting to get too cold to do much more carpentry this season... once you can't cut a board or drive a nail because your lumber is frozen solid, trying to keep going is self-defeating. But, we should be able to get her all buttoned up by the end of the month... which is perfect since our drop-dead moving date one way or the other was Halloween!
"Would you guys hurry it up, geeeeeez!!" 

Ripley, our little task master, (im)patiently waiting by the truck for us to get ourselves in gear and get our butts back to building her house already! She doesn't care that it's only about 20F right now. Heartless!!

(BTW -- G has managed to spill coffee on the floor already and the house isn't even built yet!!)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 41 to 45

We now have a foundation, one floor, and two walls!  Yippee :)

Day 41 - things went a little slow since we were sort of figuring out how to make my design model come to life when we had to deal with nasty things like gravity, imperfect lumber and dozens of bent nails. There is no CTRL-Z Undo in the real world -- dammit!

But we got the first 4 posts up on the east wall.

And two infill wall panels installed.

Day 42 - realized that executive last minute design change the day before to leave the posts at 8' was ill-advised and had long reaching ramifications. Well, technically they were "short reaching" ramifications since it would have meant that our stairs wouldn't have reached the second floor unless we completely redesigned the staircase and let them take up too much floor space.  So we lopped all the tops off a foot with the chainsaw and finished all the infills for the east wall. The door buck was a particular pain in the butt... I have a sneaking suspicion that we'll be doing some moderating planing of something to get the pre-hung door to fit in this rough opening.

Day 43 - getting the hang of this building stuff now, but it was errand day so we were down in Manley and also helped a friend fix his computer and network (again! the man has gremlins). No work on the cabin since it was getting late by the time we got back. But we did split some firewood... well the G-man did since Ripley decided it would be fun to pile dirve herself head first right into my bad hand and set it off again. Arg!

Day 44 - rocking along pretty good now, even with my gimpy hand. Hauled a bunch of lumber down to the site. Then we got the 4 posts up for the west wall, and one section of the infill started, plus all the pieces to assemble the rest of the west wall cut and laid out.

Day 45- FIRST  SNOW!!!!  But we managed to get the rest of the west wall completed before it started falling too heavy and I started to get too cold.

Don't worry about it tilting in at the top... the walls aren't plumbed on the E-W axis yet, not until we either get the end walls framed in or the header beams on and the loft joists in.

But the studs and posts are plumbed on the N-S axis... or at least as best as we could make them considering most of the studs were completely folded, spindled and manipulated LOL. We can drive a nail where we need to in order to attach the sheet goods... that's all that counts :D

And, bush recycling at it's finest... these are the kick-away utility stairs I originally assembled for our tent platform before we had our little private earthquake. The fit perfectly in the front door rough opening (which should fit much better than the back door since we learn from our mistakes!).  Convenient, no?!

Yup, those weren't just flurries. It's still coming down and it's sticking. Poor Ripley thinks anytime we come out the back door/flap we're going down to the cabin site... she doesn't realize we can't see as well in the dark as she does, and we don't have a big fluffy fur coat to go play in the snow. Silly pooch!

Tomorrow - it's building up the two header beams. Maybe, just maybe, pre-cutting the pieces for the infills on the north and south end walls... we'll see what the weather allows.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 40

Woohoo!! We now have a floor :)  At least now, even if it snows tomorrow (and it just might if you trusts the weather liars) we'll be no worse off than we were last year... just move the tent to the new, more stable platform, and we'd be good to go. Of course, we're not stopping until we absolutely have to... crossing fingers that we'll have an actual frame, if not a full and insulated shell, before it gets down below zero.

It took us 3 actual working days to get the joists in because those 16-footers aren't easy to manhandle and everything was warped, twisted, bowed, cupped and generally not the same dimensions.

But once they were hung, it only took us 3 hours to get the subfloor attached. And it only took us that long because we kept having the push, pull and manipulate each joist so that it actually lined up with the OSB.

No, we aren't exactly square, I take full blame for that little faux pas because I was the one who measured out the joist locations. But it's good enough for a bush cabin and we can continue building on it.

Next comes the eight posts, which should be relatively easy; and then we can assemble the infill wall panels and header beam, and have Ken come over to lift them into place with his tractor. Technically, we could do the wall panels last, but it makes the whole assembly a little more stable when we're trying to get those 500 lb beams into place.

Even though it's technically Day 40, I'd say we actually have spent less than 2 weeks actually working on the cabin. The rest of the time we've been dealing with hauling materials, the weather, injuries, errands, and random visitations.  Trying to keep a schedule in the middle of the woods is like trying to herd cats... impossible and frustrating. And I really must protest... not only do they not make really useful women's work gloves; but they also don't make framer's tool belts to fit us either. I have the band adjust past small and on the very last holes and I'm still hiking it up all the time. The pockets are on the front of my thighs, not the side, makes it really fun trying not to dump nails and screws when ducking under and between those joists... we won't even talk about how many times I've been violated by my hammer ;)

Here are few pics we took of the Tanana Valley on our way to Fairbanks last week... you can see why we love it here! Seems that the clouds decided to finally go away now that it's below freezing at night :)

Yes, there are still forest fires burning from this summer!