Driving Pilings

There is a bridge that is being demolished near my office that is now my destination and entertainment on my daily lunchtime walks. I previously posted video of the demolition of a concrete column. The other day during my visit, a crane with a hanging vibratory hammer was driving steel sheet pilings into the riverbed to form a cofferdam. There was already a cofferdam around one of the bridge piers, which has now been demolished. I am assuming this new cofferdam will surround the next pier, so it can be removed. The before and after photos of the pilings being driven are below as well as video of it happening.

Driving pilings, before

Driving pilings, before

Driving pilings, after

Driving pilings, after

Excavator Destroys a Concrete Column

Excavator with concrete crusher twirling rebar

Excavator with concrete crusher twirling rebar

There is a bridge over Four Mile Run that connects Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia that is being destroyed. I love walking over near the site and watching the destruction take place. Today I took some video of (what I am fairly sure is) an excavator with a concrete crusher pound and crush the concrete of a former column. It then separated the rebar and twirled it like ribbon to consolidate it. So very cool to watch.

Master Bathroom Demolition Continues

For demolition of the old master bathroom and closet to continue, I needed a friend or two to help. Mainly there were some tasks I needed to do, that at the very least, I needed someone to catch or guide something being removed. Therefore, I asked a bunch of friends if they might help me do some demolition, and I would pay them with beer, wine, and pizza. Turns out, I have a bunch of friends who were so excited about destroying parts of my house, they probably would have done it without the food and alcohol payment. So yesterday, I had a demolition party. I got confirmation of what I already knew that I have some wonderful friends who did not disappoint and put in a lot of hard work. I also learned that when my friend James has a hammer, he is really good at demolition, and it is probably best for your own safety to leave the room. I am lucky enough to have a friend, Danielle, who is a whiz with all things home repair, who along with Aaron disconnected and removed the whole house fan. They disappeared into the attic, and next thing I knew, they were was a big whole in my ceiling where the fan had been. For hours, some were demolishing, some were cleaning up the debris, and some were transporting the debris downstairs. Erin and Mark did so much demolition that according to Erin, the next day when Mark pulled out his wallet, drywall came out of it. At one point, Renee and Brandi decided that there were too many people in the destruction zone (there were) and that they should make bread using a leftover can of beer of a brand that no one liked. I had people in my kitchen making bread and later cooking the pizzas, people in my attic working on wiring and removing things, and people in my construction area destroying things. I, in general, tried to stay out of people’s way, directed them to things, removed debris, and did a little deconstruction. I have no idea if this makes a good host, bad host, or just a laissez faire host. I know I thanked you in person, but to Danielle, Aaron, Erin, Mark, James, Brandi, and Renee, thank you so much. You are wonderful friends and a wonderful help with my renovation, and I hope you had fun.

Demolition is not fully complete, but a great deal of progress was made. It is amazing how much bigger and better the space looks after removal of the interior walls, particularly the shower walls that were blocking all the light from the window. In my opinion, the space was designed really badly before. I mean really, why would you put the toilet right in front of a large front-view window and then build a wall in front of the window that blocks all the light? Some photos are below, and more photos have been added to the Phase 3 page. The shower’s glass wall and door removal did not go completely as planned. The door was removed in one piece, but the glass side panel broke during removal. However, the glass was safety glass, and this actually ended up making it easier to remove. It also was kind of good because I can keeping all the metal to sell for scrap, and this will make it easier to sell the metal frame. We generated a lot of debris. I have been able to get rid of some of it, mainly the lumber and the vanity top tile using Freecycle and thus keeping it out of the waste stream.

Tile and mortar from the old shower floor

Tile and mortar from the old shower floor

All that is left of the shower, the pan and drain

All that is left of the shower, the pan and drain

The exhaust fan. I didn't really need to see this.

The exhaust fan. I didn’t really need to see this.

Removing the old shower glass door and wall

Removing the old shower glass door and wall

What safety glass looks like after being broken.

What safety glass looks like after being broken.

The whole house fan after the cover has been removed

The whole house fan after the cover has been removed

A large hole is now in my ceiling where the whole house fan used to be

A large hole is now in my ceiling where the whole house fan used to be

Mulching Plant Tour

About a month ago, I got a chance to tour a recycling plant. This Arlington County municipal recycling plant focuses on recycling yard waste. In the spring, Arlington County has curbside collection of yard waste in paper bags including invasive vines, leaves, dead plants, pine cones, etc. In the fall, Arlington County picks up leaves in paper bags from residents and also from curbside vacuum collection. All year long, Arlington County also picks up brush curbside. All of these waste streams are treated separately at the plant, and the plant also handles dirt and rock excavated during utility work.

The plant manager said he likes to think of the plant as a reutilization plant because something goes in, they process it, and then something goes out. Their operation is really quite impressive, especially when its 2.7 acres total yard size is considered. It is mainly this plant size that limits their ability to accept more waste for processing. Their biggest issue is dirt from pipe breaks etc. that is processed here. They reuse the processed dirt and rock for backfill, but if they can’t find a use for it, they have to dispose of it in a landfill.

The yard waste has to get to 140°F to kill any invasive weeds. Because the plant is located near a residential area, they do not accept food waste because of the odor it produces. They use lime on the yard waste solely for odor control. [Lime the inorganic material, which generally means calcium oxide (CaO) with some calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) not lime the fruit.] With the leaf waste, they achieve a 66% volume reduction to the leaf mulch product. Leaf bag collection mulch is mixed with dirt for final product.

Tub grinder that processes leaf, brush, wood, and spring yard waste

Tub grinder that processes leaf, brush, wood, and spring yard waste

Dirt processing machine that sorts material by size

Dirt processing machine that sorts material by size

Stone crusher machine

Stone crusher machine

Material going into trommel screen for separation. The trommel screen sorts dirt and big aggregate.

Material going into trommel screen for separation. The trommel screen sorts dirt and big aggregate.

Material coming out of trommel screen after separation

Material coming out of trommel screen after separation

As is often the case, fixing a piece of equipment involves a guy standing on the bucket of a front loader using a pole to move things.

As is often the case, fixing a piece of equipment involves a guy standing on the bucket of a front loader using a pole to move things.

Rock and concrete after separation

Rock and concrete after separation

Dirt for separation by size

Dirt for separation by size

Leaf mulch product

Leaf mulch product

Wood mulch product

Wood mulch product

Yard waste mulch product

Yard waste mulch product

The plant uses the product dirt to create this vegetable garden. It had wonderful looking vegetables, and in the past, they have entered the vegetables in the county fair.

The plant uses the product dirt to create this vegetable garden. It had wonderful looking vegetables, and in the past, they have entered the vegetables in the county fair.

Women Don’t Need Pink Tools

Evidently, Bic has decided that women can’t use normal pens and has decided to market a pen specifically for us. “Bic for Her” they call it because we need more pink crap. [I am not the only person who finds this demeaning and stupid. They have been inundated with sarcastic reviews on Amanzon.] I tweeted my indignation about this, and I asked what else do they think women need especially for us. You know, pink stuff. Do we need special hammers and power drills? I was quickly informed that the pink insanity does not stop with pens. There really are tools marketed especially for women, and yes they are pink. There are Little Pink Tools, which quite frankly make me want to hurl. There is also Tomboy Tools, which seems to be almost anything as long as it is pink. As if women can’t or won’t use something if it is not pink.

To be clear, I actually like the color pink. I use it in doses in my home decorating, and I have plenty of pink clothes, shoes, and jewelry. It is not my favorite color though. Pink does not mean something is “girlie,” and something does not have to be pink to be feminine. I am sure plenty of little girls love the color pink, but not that many women do. Women don’t need pink things just like girls don’t need pink legos or any other pink toy just for them. You know what kind of legos little girls like? They like legos, plain and simple. We could do a lot to end gender stereotyping if we stop shoving pink frilly stuff at girls and “manly” toys like guns and trucks at boys. If a girl likes pink and frilly stuff then great, but don’t assume just because she is a girl that that is what she wants and wouldn’t want to play with trucks and other stuff. And vice versa for little boys.

My sophomore year of college I moved into an apartment with several roommates. While moving in, I needed some basic tools. I think I was putting together a desk or something. I went to Walmart, and I bought a toolkit called Do-It-Herself. Yes, it was actually called this, and all the tools had baby blue handles, except for tools like the socket wrench, which were pure metal. I didn’t buy it for the silly name, and I certainly didn’t buy it because everything was matching baby blue. I bought it because it was a toolkit with a nice selection of basic tools that came in an organized, easy to store carrying case. I actually still have many of those tools, including the pliers, socket wrenches, and screwdriver. I still have some of the screwdriver bits too, but of course the philips bit has been replaced numerous time. It was a nice toolkit that fit my needs at the time. Looking back, I guess I should be happy that it wasn’t pink because evidently companies have decided that’s what we really want.

I am currently renovating the third house I have ever owned. I have renovated all my houses. With each house, the renovations have gotten more intense, and I have done more and more of the repair and renovation myself. Over the years of home ownership, I have bought more tools and replaced old ones or upgraded to better ones. Years ago, I bought a power drill and small drill bit case with bits of about ten different sizes. It served most purposes. Then years later, I bought a drill bit case with about 30-40 different sizes of bits. Last year I bought a circular saw, reciprocating saw, and a rotary tool. I’ve rented those before, but if you do enough renovation, it is cheaper in the long run to just buy them. You can also buy higher quality power tools than you can rent. Also when you rent, you have to buy your own blade anyway. And no, none of the tools I have bought since that original toolkit have been baby blue or pink or any other girlie color. I don’t buy tools because of how they look. I buy, or try to buy, tools that will last, that will work well, and that are reasonably priced. I would never buy a pink tool, partially because it is stupid, but also because if the tools is being sold because it is pink, then it is probably not being sold because it is a good quality, reasonably priced tool.

In short, women don’t need pink tools! We need good quality tools with easy to understand directions. We want them reasonably priced and easy to use. In the case of power tools, we want them to come to come with safety features, so we or anyone else who uses them doesn’t injure themselves. In short, we need exactly what men need.

For the record here are my tools, or almost all of them at least. You will notice a few baby blue ones from my original, aforementioned toolkit. However, not a single pink one among them.

My manual and power tools