Saturday, September 22, 2012

What we've been reading (9/2012)

Aadel, a G+ unschooling blogger started a blog hop for what folks are reading. Since all four of us are always reading something (or even several things at once), I figured that'd be a fun one to join in on. So here's a quick list.

[Nota Bene: My friends and regular readers (all four of five of 'em) will note that this is a link to a Christian unschooler's blog. Don't freak out. I'm still the hateful, cynical, atheist bastard I've always been. I simply have a broad range of friends of all persusions and beliefs. You know that. Sort of.]

The list:

Frank (me, aka husband, aka dad): Recently finished Evolution: The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. In progress Space Chronicles from Neil deGrasse Tyson. I love him. He's this generation's Isaac Asimov. On the bookshelf, waiting for me to get to the last page of Space Chronicles is Creole Belle, a new offering from James Lee Burke, one of my favorite contemporary novelists.

Ronnie (aka wife, aka mom): The only one I know she's working on right now is Odd Apocalypse, Dean Koontz's latest in his Odd Thomas series. I liked the first couple of these but the more recent ones are weaker. This one I didn't even bother to finish and that's rare for me. I'll be interested to hear her comments when she finishes.

MJ (aka daughter, aka older sister): She just finished Game of Thrones, the George R. R. Martin blockbuster. She's now talking about Railsea by China Mielville. It's a wacky take on Moby Dick. Sounds kind of interesting and amusing, really.

Chloe (aka daughter, aka younger sister): We were recently on vacation in San Diego and Chloe picked up a lovely leather-bound, silver edged volume of The Collected Works of H. P. Lovecraft there. She's been wading through that. She enjoys his style and command of English vocabulary. She also spends a lot of time on online fanfic sites for Harry Potter or The Avengers, reading and writing fan fiction.

Datzawl fer now. See ya.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bathroom remodel - from 2004

While blogging about our reroof, I reminded myself of my favorite of our home improvement projects. The main floor bathroom was a crappy 1980s "update" with a two-level ceiling to allow for new plumbing upstairs, a large "box" on the ceiling over the tub for the same reason, no switch for the light (pull string at the light itself), no fan, original floor (I loved the style -  small octagons - but it was beyond tired and ruined), wall-hung lav of the cheapest kind, low-quality fiberglass shower-tub, minimalist wood trim for doors and windows which contrasted significantly with the original medicine cabinet trim which was congruent with the rest of the house, etc.

It was functional (barely) but far from aesthetically pleasing.

We finally got around to redoing it in 2004. I basically took it down to the studs and subfloor. Flooring was original 1920s concrete and chicken-wire bedding the tiles. That was a heavy and highly-resistant PITA to bust up. Wall-hung sink went straight to the dump pile, as did the happily-destroyed fiberglass tub and surround. Broken toilet joined its companions there, too, along with all the fixtures. Now I was in a position to start doing good stuff.

Insulation in the uninsulated outer wall. New plumbing, including an additional showerhead on the back wall of the tub and new fixture to supply it. New jetted tub. New pedestal sink and fixture (all matchy-matchy with the tub fixture and the associated crap like towel bars, etc.). New toilet and Toto washlet (bidet seat). Hardeebacker to replace previous ordinary drywall (not even greenboard!) and over the now-exposed subfloor.

This photo shows the floor tiles, some of the tub surround tiles, the jetted tub, the Toto washlet on the toilet, and the edge of the pedestal sink, as well as Circe's feet. More explanation of that in the next paragraph.

With the plumbing done and the tub in place, I could get some tiling done. We chose a "focal point" of a 1'X2' rendition of a Waterhouse painting we like - Circe Invidiosa - and surrounded it with a tile we found attractive. Flooring tile to match the tub tile.

(The color of this photo is inaccurate but you get the idea. The poison flowing from her bowl is very green.)

Meanwhile, in the world of other walls, I levelled the ceiling to make it consistent. I removed the huge ceiling box and enclosed the hanging plumbing with a smaller, more streamlined enclosure. I added a light and fan (with switches!) above the tub. Also added a switch for the light above the lav. I retrimmed the window, door, floor, and crown moldings to be a better match with what existed in the rest of the house. The crowning touch was when Ronnie suggested an arch to separate the tub from the other part of the bathroom.

Our house has a couple of arches, one in the stone facade of the fireplace opening, one between the living room and dining room, and one between the kitchen and the breakfast nook. When I finished building an arch wall for the tub, it looked (to me) like original architecture. Sweet!

In that photo, you can see the second showerhead peeking out from behind the showercurtain and a better color rendition of the Circe Invidiosa tiles. This also shows the window trim which I redid to look like the trim in the rest of the house instead of the plain 2" trim which had been on it.

This shot shows how I redid the door trim and base molding (admittedly, difficult to see) to be a better match to the original style as shown by the medicine cabinet than the plain 2" stuff that had been installed in the previous remodel.

What's that you say? What's with that virulent green color? And the navy showercurtain and towels (not pictured and a random not-navy handtowel showing at the lav)?

Well, Circe's poison is virulent green and she's wearing a blue-intensive peacock dress and standing on the blue sea. Plus, that bathroom was previously a deep University of Washington (football) purple, so it seems reasonable that it should now be Seahawk green and blue.

Ok? Go, 'hawks!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reroof 2012


In process -

New roof:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Best Thing

The Unschooling Blog Carnival theme for October is "The Best Thing" with a clarification(?) of "What does that mean in a house full of Unschoolers?"

Kram "The Best Thing"

Well, hell!, Sue, why don't you give us something difficult to discuss like the Pioneer anomaly. Oh wait, I forgot. That has been satisfactorily explained. Finally. Phew! Don't ask me about the nonNewtonian perturbations of Mercury's orbit and what that means for our understanding of gravity. Oy! Classical (Newtonian) physics is just sooooo 16th century but quantum physics just ain't very intuitive. It does have lots of cool concepts, however: gravitational lensing, strange attractors, wiggly spacetime. Man!, I admit I do so love the phrase "wiggly spacetime." And then, it was Einstein himself who described quantum entanglement as "spooky action at a distance." Nonetheless, let's talk about the best thing. Evah! For Unschoolers. I'm ridiculously giddy that you capitalized "unschoolers." It seems so... German, which implies (somehow) that it's very scientific. Thanks, Sue! Let's begin.

LOVE is the best thing.

There, I'm done. That was quick and easy. See y'all next month for a new and exciting carnival theme. Now, I believe adult beverages, man food, and Monday Night Football are calling my name. Yes. Yes, they are. I can hear them distinctly. Faintly at the start but growing louder with each passing moment. The call of Cthulhu? Ha! That raggedy-ass old demon, from whatever nighted quantum he inhabits which is as dark and cold as infinite, crepuscular, Helium-liquefying interstellar space smothering a tortured plain whose surface is constantly scoured by the shrieking twins, Boreas and Aquilo, and dotted with sickly, glowing fungi of contorted shapes and configurations repellent to the human eye and disturbing to the psyche, a place where the blasted landscape is occasionally punctuated by foetid fens of stygian gloom and mephitic effluvium, gathering darkness to themselves like a cloak in a seemingly purposeful attempt to conceal the awful purity of their flagitious existence, can't be heard over the cheers of the home-team fans. Besides, I'm pretty sure that "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn." means "Are you ready for some football?"

Yes, I'm pretty sure of it. Really. I know the elders among you, O Gentle Readers, remember that it was an alcohol-sodden (Is this modifier actually necessary? Wasn't Don always pickled?) Dandy Don Meredith singing "Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over" which drove Cthulhu and all of the ancient old ones back to their chthonic realm while driving Howard Cosell to distraction. Which is pretty similar when you think about it. And, c'mon! Howard Cosell was clearly a relative of Cthulhu. Kissin' cousins, for sure.

Ewww! What an image. Now I need some mental bleach. And mental floss. Lots and lots of mental floss. To quote Guy from Galaxy Quest, "Oh! That's just not right."

Speaking of love, which was supposed to be my topic and to which I've returned with the mention of Guy's discomfort at seeing interspecies love being expressed between Fred and Laliari in her natural state, our philosophical forebears, the Classical Greeks, divided love into four types: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. Fred and Laliari are clearly expressing eros. I'm a big fan of eros and could write about it all day. I've certainly dedicated more than a few words to it in past posts on this blog. Anyone who knows me, knows of my fondness for HDS and its potential-mile-high-club variant HPDS! (wink) But that's only one type of love out of four (in the Classical Greek lexicon, which is not the only one we humans subscribe to, others have more, or fewer types of love) and it's one which is not even the most common or most appropriate to this post, if we're talking about love in a houseful of unschoolers. Or even a house full of Unschoolers.

So we're essentially talking about agape here, broadening and thinning toward philia as we expand outside the immediacy of our own home and hearth into our broader unschooling tribal connections. But for a discussion about a homeful of unschoolers and their very best thing, let's concentrate on agape. As Byron (George Gordon, Lord Byron) wrote in his poem Maid of Athens, Ere We Part:

Zoe mou, sas agapo!

"My life, I love you!" Agape love. Well, that's the word he chose to use. I won't say it was chosen only because it's easier to rhyme than various verb forms of eros but, well...

For the purposes of this blogpost, we'll ignore the fact that Byron was inspired to create this poem by his love (yes, I suspect more eros than agape but I'm a cynical person) for three sisters who were all under 15 and we'll just abstract it to a generic comment about existence. Isn't that what unschooling is all about, learning how to love your own life and live it so fully that maybe it even spills over to other lives? Yes, you're right. It's what everybody's life should be about, not just unschoolers' lives. When people complain about difficulties in their unschooling lives, my friend Mary Gold always says, "It's not the unschooling." When it comes to love and life, everyone should have the opportunity to fully engage. But I'm writing about unschoolers, so we'll stick to that narrow focus for the sake of this post even though I feel that this discussion should be applicable to everyone.

Alexander Pope, the king of the English couplet, in his poem An Essay on Criticism exhorted us:

A little learning is a dang'rous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:

The Pierian spring is the font of all knowledge and it inspires all those who drink from it. Why would you sip from it when it's possible to drink your fill? And yet, if you consider it an analog of life, many people do just that. Sad. My suspicion is that those people have had their exuberance for life and their thirst for knowledge impoverished because their wellspring of self-love has been drained from them by external forces. Without the will to embrace life from a core of love, one is reduced to a state of passive existence, joyless, flat, and depressing. Love is the engine which powers our lives. Without it, we're just a rusting, empty shell on blocks, a redneck's front-yard objet d'art.

No. Not for me. Not for anyone. An empty, hollow hulk is so dolorous. I want my agape engine in place and running. I want a powerful agape engine and I wanna run it WFO (that's Wide Fucking Open for you nongearheads) toward the edge of the universe and grab the life I'm living with both hands and shovel it into my experience receptors as quickly and as fully as I can!

Now, that's what I'm talking about! Looks like love incarnate to me. [N.B. This is a Lotus Elise. Chloe wants one of these in factory-provided krypton green. I'm not sure she has enough $$ saved up quite yet.]

Each and every one of us is unique. There are things I like and activities I want to pursue. There are beliefs I espouse and philosophies I want to explore. There's an entire spectrum of stuff peculiar to me and there's a separate spectrum which is peculiar to you. But the specifics are unimportant in an overall sense, even though they're your particular fixation. Love is what makes all of it possible. Love is the engine which powers our journey, whatever and wherever that journey may be, whether you want to go to the corner at the end of your block or to the end of the universe.

Love yourself. It's where all love begins. It's the root without which the plant which is your life cannot grow and your flowers cannot bloom.

Love your family. Help them establish their own rich, strong, healthy root and watch their flowers explode in a profusion of magnificence.

Love is the best thing. Love is the best thing. Love is the best thing. Love is the best thing. Love is the best thing.