Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Helmet did its job.

My older brother got himself pretty dinged up in a bike wreck on Friday. I happened to work in the ER where he was taken. My shifts are usually 7-7 either 7am to 7pm or 7pm to 7am. This particular shift was until 7pm. I came out of a patient's room around 6:15 and found a few nurses and other staff members staring at me and asked me to walk down the hall with them. I thought they were taking me to administration because I'd gotten in trouble again. Nope. My brother (not the shop brother) was riding his bike and crashed. 

He kept telling them to get Lucy like they should know who Lucy was even though he didn't even know his own last name. It turns out I was just down the hall. So I go to see him in the trauma bay and he's is pretty banged up - a small, nondisplaced basilar skull fracture which caused bleeding in his left ear, the only ear he can really hear out of, R clavicle fracture, and the most serious injury, a R acetabular fracture. The acetabular fracture of the hip is the worst problem. The orthopedic surgeon says he'll get back on his bike again, but it will be awhile.

Please forgive me if I haven't called everyone. I really wanted to know what the plan was before I called people. He's been in the ICU and you can't really visit there very much and you can't be there when the doctors round. Also he just wants to sleep so there is no advantage to being there with him. If it was John (the shop brother) in the ICU, he would want me at the bedside as a security thing, but Ben doesn't really care. So in other words, I don't know the plan yet, probably because the doctors don't know exactly when his hip surgery will be. 

Just to let you know that he is fine - his sense of humor has not left him. He says the nurses need a calendar because they keep asking him what year it is. He wondered how they could take care of patients if they don't even know what year it is. He told Randy "All in all, I wished it hadn't happened." He does ask some repetitive questions, but considering that at first yesterday, he couldn't even tell anyone his last name, that's pretty good. Also he cannot remember anything about the bike crash. He has no idea what happened.

He's got a good team of surgeons - the trauma team is following him, but they will not have to operate on him, neurosurgery, orthopedics and even ENT. Only the ortho guys will have to operate. 

Tomorrow he goes to a floor bed and either Kathy or I will stay most of the time with him. That way when the surgeons come by we can talk to them directly. 

I will call more people tomorrow. Again, please forgive me for not calling sooner. Yesterday was exhausting, today was also and I have to work a 12h overnight tomorrow. But you can see that the helmet did exactly what it was supposed to do.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I fixed it myself!

Alternate Title - Pretty Purple PVC Plumbing Repair

I get tired of calling someone to fix stuff for me. I don't like asking for help. I don't like handing over $50-$100 to fix little things that I think I should be able to fix if I wasn't such a chicken. Now with the internet where you can really research stuff, you ought to be able to fix stuff that used to be out of reach. 

When I was washing clothes last weekend, I noticed a water all behind the washing machine that seemed to be coming from this drain. There was a water stain right behind the joint up against the wall with standing water below. It was pretty obvious that the job was sloppy, but it had held for at least 10 years. (I did not do this repair.)

After my research and after talking to my brother and one of my co-workers I decided that I really was capable of replacing this leaky PVC drain. 

First, you have to saw off the leaky pipe. John has moved most of his tools (and a few of mine as well) to his shop so the only hacksaw I could find was pretty pitiful. What I want to know is why does the last 1/4 inch take as long to saw through as the whole rest of the pipe? Why is that true? Anyway, I finally was able to break through. Then I did as all my research advised - sand the pipe smooth so it wouldn't catch debris and cause a clog. 

Then I had to get the bottles of PVC primer (the pretty purple stuff referred to in the title) and PVC cement open which required a pretty heavy duty wrench. But I got them open. 

So you paint the joints with the purple primer at all surfaces, then paint it with the glue and then you twist them together. Between the primer and the cement the PVC dissolves a little bit. When you put the 2 pieces together they actually fuse and should form a permanent completely sealed joint.  See below.

One side looks blue because I matched up edges with a blue Sharpie. The ink kind of dissolved into the purple primer.

I tested my repair tonight and it held!! No water at all. 

I am quite pleased with myself. I don't know what the next repair will be, but I'm searching for something else to stretch my skills - maybe installing a toilet. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thoughts on John's house

Everyone who has ever built a house before knows that you think and dream and scheme for a long time before any actual construction occurs. 

I have a word document where I scribble down ideas for the house. It started out as a discussion  for the initial meeting with the contractor and the subs to get them all on the same page for construction - mainly the same airsealing and insulation page. Now I just add ideas. It's not extensive at this point, just 2-3 paragraphs and a list. 

I've also been following a great discussion on Green Building Advisor called the "Pretty Good House". It's a concept different from Passive Houses, LEED certified houses, Energy Star etc. The idea is what constitutes a pretty good house in this day and age in terms of financial investment and energy efficiency. We all don't necessarily need or have the ability to afford insulation to the levels of a certified Passive House. We also may find it extremely difficult to do the documentation for LEED certification (and pay for the certification process), but we do want a well-built, energy efficient home. So the discussion asks the question "What makes a pretty good house?" It is definitely worth reading. 

Anyway, here is the beginning of my notes on John's house:

You are going to build the best house you have ever built. Not a pretty granite countertop magazine house, but a house that does what it is supposed to do – keep you warm and dry and comfortable, and stay that way for the life of the house. This house will use less than 20% of the energy a normal house uses and will be far more comfortable.

And the way we are going to do this is by paying attention to every detail  - how water, air, and heat flow through the construction materials. We’re going to look at every detail to seal things up so water, air, or heat only go where we want them to go.

Not only are we going to build this house well, we are going to build it cheaply by simplifying the design. No complicated breaks in the outer envelope, no fancy bumpouts or dormers. Just a simple design that makes it easy to build well.

Insulation with insulweb and cellulose interior walls
Foam or mineral wool exterior insulation
Blower door testing – repeated testing
Airfoil inc for sealing electrical outlets
Coordination between subs
Simplified heating and cooling - downsize
Service chase?
Homeowner’s manual:
            include advice to maintain exterior airsealing
            see Energytechs sample manual in Home folder
“Pretty Good House” concept - GBA

John's shop has passed its final inspection. He is moving stuff in there. I will get photos soon so you can see the completed shop.