Showing posts from March, 2010

Big strawbales for house construction

First I was here, a small house blog. But he pointed to here which led me to here. The last link is a house made with jumbo strawbales for a house in Maine, schematic to the right. Bob Theis is a west coast architect who thinks about strawbale construction.
His excitement for this project is contagious. He writes, These 3'x3'x6' or 4'x4'x8' jumbos, moved by forklift, are denser than conventional bales, and their use would eliminate a majority of the joints that give straw bale walls most of their instability. In addition, the extra thickness of the wall would give the geometry far more resistance to buckling or bowing. For modest roof spans , the load at the foundation would be so dispersed that radical simplifications of the foundation system are possible.
Intriguing new aspects of design emerge as well: whereas a window sill in a conventional bale wall has a thickness that suggests a window seat, a window opening in a 4' thick wall creates an alcove for a be…

book report: Ten Hills Farm by C. S. Manegold 2010

A couple years ago, reporters from the Hartford Courant published a book on slavery in Connecticut called Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery and in my immature self-righteous belief that the North did little compared to the South, I refused to read it. I figured it was a white, liberal self-flagellation. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I encountered the book this report focuses on, Ten Hills Farm, The forgotten history of slavery in the North by C. S. Manegold. This time I was ready to learn. And I did. Ms. Manegold smacks my northern arrogance around. She confronts it directly.This matter of station has consistently and perhaps conveniently been confused with ideas about the supposedly "gentle" culture of slavery as it evolved in the North. Yet that assumption breaks down with even the scantiest analysis. The great shibboleth of northern slavery is that it was somehow "benign," softer than its southern cousin, even v…

The gospel. a short video.

I feel guilty about not posting in a while. I've been reading another good book, but I'm only half way through it. It's about slavery in New England. But since Resurrection Day is coming, I thought this video was worth sharing. First seen at Evangel.

book report: St. Patrick by Jonathan Rogers (2010)

I am part of Booksneeze, Thomas Nelson Publishers, blogging book review crew. I picked this book for review, because this is the season to learn about St. Patrick.
Rogers opens the book with some of the amusing and fantastic anecdotes about Patrick. The problem for the biographer of Patrick is that he only left two documents, but his admirers have enlarged this humble man's accounts to something greater than Jesus Christ. Rogers tries to work from Patrick's two writings and fill in some of the gaps. How did Patrick get out of slavery? What happened to the patronage he inherited? Did he bribe Irish leaders for protection and influence? What was his shameful sin in his adolescence that almost kept him from becoming a bishop? Did Patrick walk around with a glowing halo over his head or was he subject to the passions and weaknesses of regular men? How did he respond to his adversaries?
Rogers does a great job setting the context of Patrick's era from the effects of Rome's wi…

cinema review: Cry Freedom (1987)

In 1987, when I began my senior year of high school, non-white South Africans were still living under the oppressive regime of apartheid. This racist system began in 1948, when my parents were born and ended in 1994, two years after I had graduated from UConn. An entire generation had lived under an overt legal oppression. I don't know how many generations lived under overt racism before this set of laws even worse the the Jim Crow laws of the United States.
Image via Wikipedia Steve Biko grew up in oppression under this system and sought to unchain the minds of his generation, not unlike Malcolm X in the United States, though from a Christian perspective. Cry Freedom is based on the book, Biko, by white South African journalist Donald Woods. It's also about Woods' escape from South Africa, so that he could get his book published. He had to escape after seeking to expose the government's tacit approval of Biko's beating death in jail, not unlike dozens of other black…

book report: Sealing Their Fate by David Downing

David Downing's book, Sealing Their Fate: The twenty-two days that decided World War II, Image via Wikipediafocuses on the 3 weeks before the bombing of Pearl Harbor but across three main theaters of war and a few minor ones as well. It's an ambitious project but also the kind I'm really attracted to as well. It is hard to appreciate from books focused on only one front, the equally important things happening on another front thousands of miles away during this war. I haven't appreciated before this book that the German army was retreating from the Soviet Union when Japan's planes and mini-submarines were setting the American naval base in O'ahu aflame.

Unlike Terry Brighton's book, Patton, Montgomery, Rommel: Masters of War, which I reviewed in January, Downing has little admiration for Rommel and points to numerous mistakes and poor decisions of Rommel's that only added to his troubles with poor supplies and support. But Downing has little good to say …

Tiny homes for Haitians

These were built for Haitian families in Fouche before the quake and survived.
From Haiti trip Feb 2010
These are only two buildings, but Mission E4 would like to build 1,000. They are small, but so are the stick and blanket shelters and tents. Unlike the stick homes, these can also withstand hurricanes.
From Haiti trip Feb 2010
One of these suffered a little damage at the door lintel.
From Haiti trip Feb 2010
It was quickly fixed. The tin roof keeps the weight down on the walls. They cost $1500 each and can be built with local technology and are culturally acceptable. Local workers can make these easily and be paid which stimulates the local economy. They only hold a bed, clothes, cooking supplies, a few other things. They have no bathrooms or running water. But they provide solid, reliable shelter for poor families.

These shelters won't suffice.
From Haiti trip Feb 2010

This won't do in a hurricane.
From Haiti trip Feb 2010

The spring rains have started in Haiti and I don't think t…