Thursday, June 11 2009
This evening Gretchen was watching Dark Matter about Liu Xing, a brilliant Chinese student who comes to study cosmology in the United States and ends up derailed in by the absurd politics of academia. Eventually he is forced to the margins of society itself, enraged at the cocksure success of his asskissing Chinese brethren. I've been through phases of my life where I've felt like Liu Xing, and to the extent that my life remains out of the accepted American trajectory, I occasionally feel twinges of Liu-Xing-style loserness. This is a familiar thing to me; for several generations it's been a curse in my family to be more like Liu Xing than to be like those who say and do the whatever it takes to succeed. Indeed, it's rare that I've seen unvindicated loserness so well-depicted on film. Unfortunately, that depiction was marred by the extremity of the ending, where our hero-loser attempts the only vindication still available.
In the greenhouse there's a gap between the Wonderboard ceiling and the concrete block walls, a gap occupied by a two by six of treated wood marking the transition from masonry (below) to carpentry (above). Today I ran some electrical cable through this gap to a centrally-located metal box (also installed today) where I'll be installing the greenhouse's indoor lighting. I continued from the box through that same gap to the corner, where I installed a piece of plastic conduit carrying an electrical cable over the east window to the door. Somewhere near the door there will eventually be a switch so I can turn on the lighting, but that's for the future. Today, my goal was to install the wiring and then bury it beneath concrete. So I mixed up an eighty pound bag of concrete with the water that had collected from the rain in the wheelbarrow over night. But this mix prove too watery, so I had to add a lot of Portland Cement to make the consistency sufficiently peanutbutteresque. Once I'd filled the entire gap between ceiling and wall in the greenhouse, I still had a lot of concrete left over, so I glurped it into gaps between the external walls and the stone landscaping. Then I used some to shore up the shoddiest steps in the stairway down from the house. Finally, I fixed some old driveway trench surfacing I'd done in 2005; I'd been overly stingy with the concrete back then and some of the bluestone had sagged, cracked, and fallen. I pried up these broken pieces, put in new concrete, and laid in new stone. By now it was raining, and eventually it was raining so hard that I felt the need to cover some of the new concrete.
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