open bar at a car crash
Tuesday, January 13 2009
Since the greenhouse's masonry will act as a heat storage (thermal mass) for the greenhouse, it must be insulated on the outside. Structural carpentry, by contrast, makes almost no contribution to a building's thermal mass, and can be insulated from the inside. But as with interior insulation of the greenhouse carpentry, the external insulation of the masonry has quickly descended into detail work. Today I was cutting small squares, rectangles, and triangles from various thickness of styrofoam to form a complete envelope around nearly all the exposed masonry, particularly the sequence of concrete block steps that rise beside the sloping south-facing glass of the greenhouse's southwest corner.
I've been using various kinds of glue to attach the styrofoam to the concrete, though today I saw that some types of glue had worked much better than others. Many glues do not work well with polystyrene; they contain solvents that melt the foam without bonding to it. Usually tubes of glue warn about this limitation, but one of the tubes I'd used yesterday hadn't, yet it demonstrated the problem anyway. Another tube of glue failed to set properly in the cold conditions (which had never risen above freezing) and had dried into a brittle, crumbly material. I've had my best luck with Gorilla Glue and spray foam, both of which seem to set up acceptably in subfreezing conditions. They're also both waterproof and have great foam-to-concrete adhesive properties. Today I used a lot of Gorilla Glue to fix the failings of the glues used yesterday, but as I worked the cold weather kept chilling it into a syrup too thick to pour. This problem was readily fixed by throwing the glue bottle into a microwave oven for thirty seconds. When 110 degrees or so, Gorilla Glue pours like water.
This evening Gretchen I watched the two hour American Idol broadcast beginning whatever this season happens to be. Gretchen felt she'd been missing out on an important cultural phenomenon by not watching other seasons of the program. And so of course once she started watching, I wanted to watch too. The program sucks you in like an open bar at a car crash. We'd watched the first season of American Idol back in 2002, but that was back before God created the Tivo. With a Tivo, the program is the very essence of entertainment, from every cringe-inducing sour note to every success from tragedy-dogged singers with great pipes. I have to say, though, that I absolutely detest the singing style popular within the narrow spectrum of music featured on American Idol. I'm really put off by over-the-top melisma (multiple notes sung for each syllable of lyric), which to my ear sounds like a cornball affectation.
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