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Archive for the ‘Sustainable Lifestyle’ Category

trade for housing?

During my drive to go pick up the girls today, I was listening to NPR…not that uncommon but it has been a little while since I listened regularly.   Today my Ipod battery was a bit low so I picked up some news updates…aside from the typical BS about Cain, Newt and the band of “good ol boys” there was a story about canceling some second type of engine for the air force F35 fighter plane.  They pegged the per plane cost at about 135 million….this got me thinking about the post I put on Facebook the other day about students building and selling Tumbleweed houses in Missouri.

A tumbleweed house is a “basic” housing unit that could in ideal situations house two people….with a tumbleweed home costing about 25,000 (Which is a bit on the high side for the amount of space you get).     1 plane = 5400 tumbleweeds,  if these homes were built on basic block foundations instead of multi thousand dollar trailers to get around BS building codes…then that number could be as high as 6750.

Trading in just one fighter jet could in practice house over 10,000 people… the governments plan to buy 2443  planes then equals some pretty good-sized towns, or whole states of towns.   Think most of California.

2443 planes  = 16,490,250 Tumbleweed houses at 20 k ea.  or roughly housing for 32 million from just this one type of aircraft.  My small cabin at twice the size of a Tumbleweed sleeps 4, not super huge but doable.   Homelessness in the US would be eradicated by this single event.

All of the other planes, helicopters, guns, bombers etc would still be available to bomb and kill our fellow earthlings.

Not to mention the all of the jobs to build so many homes.  Just some food for thought.

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Our version of Black Friday

As many of you may have known Tori and I had planned a trip to the cabin for Thanksgiving. Our original plan was to head out Wednesday after Tori got off work (with me running errands and packing on Wednesday afternoon).  Tori was not so keen on the 6 extra hours added on to a long day, and the fact that all of that drive would have been in the dark…as the driver I could have gone either way.  Considering the fact that the views on the way there are pretty darn nice and a good chunk of the country (most actually) would probably sell their grannies to the devil for the views we experience on a typical drive there.  We otp’d for leaving Thursday, on Thanksgiving itself.  Its been a few years since I have traveled ON Turkey day and was very pleased to see not much traffic at all.  We had our our “family” Thanksgiving on Sat. ( brothers, kids, cousins etc) and a “Mini”version with just Tori and my girls on Sunday of last.  With those obligations out of the way we were refugees to the open road…and open it was.

We  hoped to grab a bite to eat at the Subway in Leadville but they were closed as were a lot of places…we hit another one further down the road in Buena Vista ( they were open until 4).  The weather was dry and clear and we made some good time.

When we got to the cabin it was a just a bit past sunset, temps were chilly and dropping.  My digital temp gun was reading 26 on the surface of the deck, but INSIDE the cabin, the tile floor and granite wall behind the wood stove was reading 65.  The completely passive Solar Design of the cabin was functioning perfectly.  Last year we brought a “fire bag” (Newspaper and kindling in brown paper bag) for a quick start to the wood stove.  This year we did not bring one or need one.  I had brought the temp gun along just to do some evaluations on how the cabin was performing now that we have some siding on two walls and have “tightened” up the thermal envelope a bit.

In the past we have tended to fire up the wood stove prematurely and create a bit of a sauna in there.  Temp control was obtained by opening a few windows.  This time we used restraint and only had to do that a couple of times.  A couple of sticks burned around 9 and then again at 4 or 5 am was ideal.  In one of the early morning burns I used a lot a kindling and it got pretty hot…in the near complete darkness of a moonless weekend the exit elbow of the wood stove was glowing red.  When I saw that I cut back the inlet and fully damped the flue.  It’s nice to know that IF we did need the extra BTU’s the little Scandia 150 can go the distance with plenty of power to spare.

By the time Sunday rolled by we had our routine down pretty good ( Saturday Night we had -5) and our complete fire wood use for the weekend was about one” mail tub” worth.  We can go through that amount in 3 or 4 hours with the big wood stove back home.

My goals for the weekend were to install the Blue Stain T&G I brought down, install some of the tile trim, install Tyvek on the east and North sides of the cabin, some hardi trim and maybe a window or two…but in practice the weather was not 100% cooperative.  Friday we woke to fresh snow and a light breeze.  The weather did come around a little later so I did get the T&G up.  Keep in mind I’m cutting these 12′ lengths outside using the chop saw…which is run off the solar system.  When installing over dining area I had to tweak one of the wiring runs for the LED’s to get things lined up.  Tori and I were very pleased with this recent lot of wood. This batch was from a different supplier and I think it is a bit better…Not quite as “green” as the other stuff since it is kiln dried and coming from Montana ( the other wood was Colorado local and air dried)   I even had a few boards left to add some more to the upper parts of the South wall. What remains is 2/3 to 3/4 of the main ceiling…the wood part of the north wall and some minor bits in the loft and above the kitchen.  I just keep plugging away as money and time allow.  All of the corners will get some cove molding and the windows will continue to be trimmed in cedar.

New Blue Stain installed over "dinning / bed" area

The weather was even chillier and windy on Saturday so I I ended up just getting the tile boarder up around the black granite, the free border tiles were not suffcient to complete the “column” that would have mimicked the black stove pipe along the back wall. So plan “b” took over and I just outlined the main field.  I’ll have to cut away the excess backer board before the wood gets installed between the two un-installed window locations.

Border tile around black granite is new

On Sunday the weather was calm and clear and I got in some shooting too, I ran some rounds through the new Springfield Champion .45 Semi auto and got to run some longer distance shots with the Winchester 1873 rifle.  The GPS had the distance from in front of the cabin to the target log across the gully at about 220 feet.  With not much wind and the open steel sights I landed a good handful on paper.  That 1873 is still my favorite. Tori finally did a little herself and plinked a bit down in our canyon at our “mini range”.

The truck and woodshed Sunday Morning

Friday morning’s snow continued to melt through the weekend, with the result producing some nasty mud.  This was one of the messier trips at the cabin and a new “Punch list” item has been added to the list…and pushed up near the top.

Get Some Crushed Rock!

Our scraps of decking used as a walk way help but they come up far short in the “keep the mud out of the cabin department”.  Granted our tile floor is easy to sweep and our grout color was chosen to be the exact match of this mud on purpose…but the sticky messy shoes (with me forgetting my slippers was the pits).  I’ll look into getting some crushed rock delivered before my next trip…then we or should I say I, as if Tori and the girls will be man hauling  tons of rock,  can improve the paths and nearby areas out front.

More time and Money….as is always the case.  Progress is moving forward but a bit to slow for Tori…To that end she might kick in some funds to finance a “working trip just for me.  With no kids to care for and entertain, and with my simple solo needs…many things could happen in short order.

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35 pounds of Green Coffee Beans

Let the roasting begin…we were dangerous low on coffee last week…less than 1 pound in the entire house.  Then Bart our wonderful UPS driver dropped off the above shipment.  The large bag in the lower left is 5 pounds of Monsooned Malabar AA the stuff on the right is 10 pounds of the Monkey blend Espresso and  20 pounds of Costa Rican Hernan Solis Villa Sarchi.  This week we have bee drinking the Monkey blend.

I get some of my beans from Sweet Maria’s  in Oakland CA,  One of the beauties of roasting your own is the economy of it…even with shipping I can get this great stuff for less than $6 a pound.  By comparison the stale stuff at the supermarket runs 11 to 13 a pound.  I have been a fan of the monsooned for years and I also have a weakness for the brightness of Central American coffee like this Costa Rican private estate lot.

The above cupping score is for the Hernan Solis lot.  The description from Sweet Maria’s is as follows:

“This is a microlot is processed at Helsar del Zarcero mill, but is not a blended mill lot. It is from the farm of one producer, Hernan Solis, and is entirely one varietal of coffee, Villa Sarchi. Villa Sarchi cultivar is a natural offspring of the old Bourbon type coffee, adapted to the climate of Costa Rica and the Naranjo area in particular. Hernan’s farm is at 1600-1700 meters in a zone called Llano Bonito de Naranjo. The significance of the Helsar mill handling all Hernan’s coffee is key to the cup quality as well. You can grow great coffee from a great varietal at great altitude, then ruin it completely in the wet-process or drying. Helsar is a farmer-owned mill that has produced great coffee every year we have worked with them, and has continued to invest in their neighbors’ coffees as well by building more capacity to process small lots separately. The care put into this coffee at all stages is proven out by the taste. It’s a bright cup and also possesses nice body and balance. It’s a screamer, a high-toned coffee at City roast, but quite balanced at Full City roast level. It is versatile.

The dry fragrance has a lot of milk chocolate and caramel sweetness at Full City roast, with toasted almond and buttery sweetness at lighter levels. In the wet aromatics, there is the scent of roasted hazelnut and orange peel. City+ roast has the best aromatics, with complex hints of citrus flower, hibiscus and plum. There is an intriguing winey fruited note in the aroma as well. The cup is outstanding: There are grace notes of peach tea, plum, citrus, a little lemon rind, and plum (at FC roast). Light roasts have a more almond-hazelnut roast tone, fading to tangy and crisp chocolate flavor in the finish. It changes quite a bit as the temperature drops, and stone fruit flavors come out. The cup character is very balanced in body and brightness at darker roast levels. The body isn’t that heavy, but has a very syrupy quality. My lightest roasts, City level, tasted fairly thin but had a great zesty brightness. I suggest City+ roast for the best cup, a marriage of brightness and sweet cup flavors.”

A lot of people consider me a little bit of a coffee snob…but in actuality we are just fans of good stuff and love the great deals by roasting your own.  Life is too short to drink crappy coffee, and crappy beer for that matter.

We have been slumming it a bit lately as we ran out of our maple syrup last week too, we have been using just a dash of brown sugar in our Cappuccinos, If I can remember to bring the jug down with me later this week, I can stock back up next time I’m in the flats.

The weather these last few days has been total “yuck-o”…today we have had off and on rain / snow and a few minutes ago it was actually thundering. I have missed the thunder these last wintery 8 months  The snow in the yard is nearly gone…and if this rain keeps up tonight it will most likely be gone by morning.  People in other parts of the country or even down in the flats do not fully understand what it is like live in the Mountains.

This video below I shot on Saturday…yes…just a few days ago. The date was MAY 14

Thursday the 19th update…the snow IS NOT gone…in fact we got about 6″ last night…if you did not know differently it could be Jan.

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For those that have been following along closely you might recall a gap in my posting and my mentioning of a trip to the cabin for spring break.  I returned late last Friday after a week of mixed work and recreation with the girls down at the ranch.  My main goal was to get more of the tongue and groove interior siding up at the cabin.  When Tori and I were down there for Thanksgiving I got a big chunk of it installed on the west wall, and  a big slug of tile work done.  This trip started with about 400 lineal feet of sanded and oiled boards loaded in the truck, 10 gallons of water, grout for tile, a few sticks of window trim and 50 feet of roof drip edge flashing, throw in two eager children, one big fuzzy white dog, a 12″ compound miter saw,  and a weeks groceries…and there was not much room left.

We left early Saturday morning and made the 6 hour haul in good time with good weather, we unloaded relaxed and popped a cold one…at least I had a cold one the girls had something a little more tame.

More T & G for inside

The quick unload pile

A bit after dark I noticed some slight precipitation, a little mix of some rain and sleet.  I had left the chop saw on the deck and decided to bring it in.  We routinely leave the cooler outside to prevent the ice from melting prematurely.  Sunday morning we woke to about 3″ of snow, which was a complete surprise considering the T-shirt weather we had when we unloaded the truck.

3" of Fresh White at the Ranch.

A small stoking of the wood stove and the inside of the cabin was toasty warm in no time.  After coffee and some snacking I dove right in with the siding for the East wall, since there were no complex scarf joints required I did all of the cutting with the 18 V Dewalt cordless circular saw.  The batteries were swapped out and charged via the solar system and the 1000 watt inverter.  Later in the week I would swap out the 1000 watt with the 2500 watt unit I had brought down over Thanksgiving.  With the idea that it would power the chop saw for a few seconds of cutting every few minutes or so…way more convenient than firing up the generator.  I had tried to run the saw before with the 1000 watt inverter but it fell just a bit short on power.

T &G on the east wall

Next up was more siding on both sides of the “closet” wall. This wall went pretty fast due to the shorter sections, and also not having to slip them in behind the studs of the closet wall as I had to do for the east wall. A bit after lunch and the walls were looking sweet.

Not looking at open studs is indeed an improvement

The wood stock was getting low, and it was apparent that more insulation would be needed to start on the south wall, we also noticed that we forgot mustard and ketchup for the hot dogs…a combined run into Taos was planned for Monday morning.

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I got a bunch of books on straw bale building back before we starting building the cabin. Part of the reason was to educate myself in this great building method and another was to get design ideas.  Our cabin is being stick built due to speed and convenience (I have been building it single handed)  If and when the time comes to build the bigger house at the ranch it will most likely be  a modified Earthship type structure with heavy earth berming,  using ICF construction.

So after reading through most of these and extracting the Info I am offing them up for sale at 50% of the cover price…plus media rate shipping at cost…buy 1 or buy them all.  All of these books are in Mint to new condition.

 

 

More Strawbale Building $34.95…..your price $17.50

Design of Straw Bale Buildings…$40….your price $20

Strawbale home plans …list $24.95….your price $12.50

The new Strawbale home  (hardcover)  $39.95…your price $20

If you buy more than one shipping will be cheaper…per book.

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Another milestone in the blogging world.

 

I started blogging mostly to share some of my adventures with the building of our cabin, share thoughts about living simply and sustainably.  Here I am a 100 posts into it and I wanted to share some statistics…

Title Views
Home page More stats 6,245
Small Living vs. Sustainable Living More stats 1,157
Say “Good-Bye” to the 70’s Era Z-Brick More stats 807
Spring Road Trip Day #1 More stats 600
Nikon D90 Time-Lapse Photography More stats 597
To Build a Better Light Bulb More stats 540
Solar Generator Completed and For Sale (sold on 09-28-10) More stats 510
Campfire Dutch Oven Cooking – Cowboy Cobbler More stats 385
The Great Green-Washing of Bamboo Flooring More stats 383

 

My small living vs sustainable post has had the most traffic…which is not too surprising since I often link in from the tiny house blog (Thanks Kent) and some other similar resources.

The biggest surprise, at least to me, was the number of hits that My Z-brick post has received…I would have never thought that Z-brick was such a crowd pleaser…or mabye the thought of getting rid of Z-brick is the real crowd pleaser.

Just a quick thanks to my readers.

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The magic of Wifi

 

 

 

Its been about a month now since we canceled the Satellite TV service.  We were infrequent users and the $62 a month was a bit of a waste.  In its place we have a Roku box.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with a Roku box, it is a smallish device that allows you to stream internet content directly to your TV…Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Amazon Video, etc.  The box we got was the middle of the road unit and cost  about $80. So now instead of having to hook up the laptop or netbook to the TV, this little box is hooked up full time. It is pretty easy to use and even came with a little remote.  Tori signed up for Hulu plus at about 8 bucks a month (To watch her Desperate Housewives, and Grey’s anatomy) our Netflix account was being used in parallel with the Satelite service so that redundancy is now gone. The image quality is a bit lower, but plenty acceptable.  We still get DVD’s  from Netflix so we mix it up a bit.  Its nice to be able to stream what we want, when we want.  The only show that we watched that is not on Hulu,  is Survivor…but this is available streaming from CBS..and with less commercials…we just watch it the next day or when we feel like it.

In addition to the cost savings, It is part of the master plan to wean the girls off more TV.  They will still get plenty at their mom’s…As every time I have gone there to pick them up there is at least 1 TV on and often 2… in two adjoining rooms no less…..I just don’t get it…

Don’t get the wrong Idea…I still enjoy watching stuff on the screen…and love a good Western in rich DVD quality and surround sound with our Bose home theater.  After a long hard day an ice cold brew and a John Wayne classic can put the day’s efforts behind …It was just the mindless worthless crap that occupied 95% of the airwaves, annoying news broadcasts hawking “Shock Value” bullshit…and endless streams of commercials….Enough was enough.  If I’m interested in news…I can look it up online (I ditched the newspaper many years ago) For weather information I can go online…or simply look out the window!

When Tori first got into watching the Vampire dairies she downloaded them to the laptop…each episode was about 40 to 42  minutes long…When broadcast it filled an hour time slot…meaning 20 minutes of commercials…for 40 minutes programming…or 50%.

So many people are immune to the endless brainwashing, or addicted to a constant chatter that fills their empty lives.

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This is a delayed post from our road trip back at the beginning of summer.  For those that were following along we road tripped to the Grand Canyon and Zion.  At Zion, the deep part of the canyon is only accessed by shuttle bus.  Not only does this reduce the parks carbon footprint it is pretty convenient for the park visitor…no parking hassles.  One of the drivers gave us some statistics about the scene.  Before the buses were put into service they would see about 3000 cars a day…competing for 400 parking spaces.  Anyone who has been is a similar situation can see the benefit to this system.

Shuttle Bus at Zion

The main visitor center at Zion uses a passive solar design and has trombe walls. Rather than just building it and using it, they incorporate it into the educational experience for the visitors with a descriptive display.

Passive Solar Visitor Center

The greatest part for me was the parks concession’s refusal to buy into the bottled water bullshit.  If every retailer in the country followed suit imagine the fuel savings and benefit.  When I was a kid we would visit many parks and I never remembered seeing bottle water for sale.  We had out trusty canteens and it was just fine.  Today instead of that old aluminum tasting contraption we use Nalgene bottles, a couple of my Nalgene bottle are made from FEP Teflon and provide the cleanest tasting water you can get with out any worry about BPA.  These bottles cost about $90 each and were salvaged from my old career in biotechnology.

Educate the Masses

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Some recent updates for this blog post…

An article I wrote for Networx.com on floor finish types.

And  a Scientific study  on the high embodied energy of bamboo flooring transport (its worse than concrete)

 

What everyone needs to know about bamboo flooring.  Lots of Americans have been brainwashed with the “green-washing” of bamboo for its use as flooring.  It is advertised as being “green” and durable, more durable that most other types of hardwood flooring.  It’s neither green nor durable.

Here are some facts to set the record straight.  Bamboo is not a hardwood, it’s a grass.  To convert the grass into “boards” a multi-step energy consuming process is required.  The bamboo is harvested and the hollow, round shoots are sliced into strips and boiled to remove the starch. (Major energy input #1) Then the strips are dried and then boiled again in a solution of water and boric acid to remove sugars (a termite attractant) and to inhibit fungus and mold growth. (Major Energy Input #2 and Chemical Input #1)

If a darker color is desired the bamboo will go through a carbonizing process of steaming the bamboo under controlled pressure and heat. (Major Energy Input #3) The bamboo will change to a brownish color. Carbonized bamboo is softer than the non-carbonized variety. The carbonizing process can reduce the floor’s final hardness significantly, Rendering it softer than some pines and softer than more common red oak.

Most bamboo is then Pressure laminated into solid boards (Major Energy input #4) using carcinogenic chemicals like urea-formaldehyde (UF) adhesive. (Toxic Chemical addition #2)

Note:
If working with a local hardwood all of this previous energy and chemical input is not required,

The bamboo “boards” are then milled into standard strip floorboards with tongue and groove profiles, sanded and readied for finishing. (Energy Input #5) The input for this step would be equal if working with an alternate hardwood. Most Bamboo is then pre-finished with another chemical, and then shipped half way around the planet to US markets. (Energy Input #6 and Chemical addition #3)

Durability Issues

Comparing the durability of bamboo.  It ranges from 1180  (Wikpedia Janka Hardness) in its more common carbonized form, Softer than all of these woods:

Australian Cypress                 1375
White Oak                                    1360
Tasmanian Oak                         1350
Ash (White)                                1320
American Beech                       1300
Red Oak (Northern)                 1290
Caribbean Heart Pine              1280
Yellow Birch,                              1260
Heart Pine                                    1225
Larch                                              1200

Natural Bamboo’s higher 1380 (Janka Hardness) is still below all of these woods:

Lignum vitae                                            4500
Brazilian Ebony                                        3692
Ipê / “Brazilian Walnut” / Lapacho   3684
African Pearlwood / Moabi                  3680
Bolivian Cherry                                         3650
Lapacho                                                        3640
Cumaru / “Brazilian Teak”                      3540
Ebony                                                            3220
Brazilian Redwood / Paraju                 3190
Bloodwood                                                  2900
Red Mahogany, Turpentine                 2697
“Southern Chestnut”                                2670
Spotted Gum                                               2473
Brazilian Cherry / Jatoba                      2350
Mesquite                                                       2345
“Golden Teak”                                               2330
Santos Mahogany, Bocote,                     2200
Brazilian Koa                                                 2160
“Brazilian Chestnut+ Walnut”                 2140
Bubinga                                                           1980
Cameron                                                         1940
Tallowwood                                                   1933
Merbau                                                            1925
Jarrah                                                               1910
Purpleheart                                                    1860
Goncalo Alves / Tigerwood                     1850
Hickory / Pecan                                           1820
Afzelia / Doussie                                           1810
Rosewood                                                       1780
African Padauk                                             1725
Blackwood                                                      1720
Merbau                                                            1712
Black Locust                                                  1700
Highland Beech                                             1686
Wenge, Red Pine                                            1630
Zebrawood                                                      1575
True Pine, Timborana                                 1570
Sapele / Sapelli                                               1510
Sweet Birch                                                      1470
Hard Maple / Sugar Maple                         1450
Caribbean Walnut                                          1390
Coffee Bean                                                       1390

In doing some research for this article I found a string of comments about the durability of Bamboo in many flooring applications at this website

Here are some of the more lively comments:

“I just had bamboo floors installed into my new home. The product came with an aluminum oxide urethane finish. The flooring industry has been touting bamboo floors and this coating as the hardest wood available with a coating just about impervious to anything. Wow, were they wrong! It’s brittle and scratches more than oak. Has anyone out there had similar problems? And if so, what can I do? I’ve asked my installer to ask a manufacturer’s rep to pay a visit. Outside of that, I fear I’m stuck putting booties on my dog’s paws!

Sue J
Severna Park, Maryland

“I had bamboo installed throughout my home in March and the very next day after installation, we had multiple scratches – even gouges in the floor. Every thing has scratched this floor, dogs, my vacuum cleaner, even a plastic hamper my husband pushed to the side to clean under. We have been fighting with the manufacturer ever since. Today, we are sending a sample of the bamboo to a forensic lab for testing. I cannot believe the coatings they say it came with are actually on it. I’m not giving up.

Donna B
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

“We just had a natural bamboo floor installed and selected for the very reason that it was advertised as very hard. The very day installation was complete I found an extraordinary number of shiny scratches and also many deep gouges. Needless to say, I am very unhappy and in dispute with the installer about the installation and waiting to hear from the manufacturer’s rep about this finish and what can be done to 1) repair it, and 2) make the finish hold up to normal wear and tear. We had planned to get a small dog, and now I don’t think any dog could live on it without causing extreme damage. I never intended to have a floor I had to tiptoe on in booties.

Sarah S
Cary, North Carolina

“Just had a black bamboo floor installed. It was totaled within a week. Deep scratches even with a finger nail. Manufacturer is replacing but I’m not confident the new floor will be better. The samples of the new floor certainly were not.

William H
Melbourne Beach, Florida

“My wife and I had the caramelized bamboo flooring installed throughout a 2400 square ft house. indentions and scratches result by the least amount of friction or weight upon the floor. We had the dealer visit our house and he offered a bucket of commercial grade finish which the installing company agreed to apply. Now we have shiny scratches and indentions. I may seek legal counsel.

Keith
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

“I installed bamboo throughout my home this past year. And as many others are saying, all of the advertising, research and phone conversations were misleading. I asked about dogs & scratches & was assured my two beagles wouldn’t do damage. I some parts of the floor there are more scratches than not. I am at the point I have to replace my whole house. The manufacturer recommends I refinish it in a commercial grade finish, even though when I ordered it they told me the finish was the hardest out there. I am wondering if anyone else out there is interested in participating in a Class Action Lawsuit. My old maple floors held up better than this!

Mona C
architectural designer – Royal Oak, Michigan

“I would like to join a class action law suit. I experienced the same problems. I can’t wear my shoes in my unit because the wood scratches and dents so easily. In addition, at least half of my boards are cracked. I feel I was mislead as well. I was also told that the product is extremely hard. Any pressure results in dents and scratches as well as cracks.

Jen D
– Winchester, Massachusetts

“Just installed 2200 sq/ft of carbonized Bamboo and the finish can be scratched off by my finger nail. Dents and scratches everywhere! Class action let’s go!

Jason J
North Berwick, Maine

“My husband and I just built a brand new 4200 sq ft house and installed natural bamboo throughout the entire downstairs. We were told it was the toughest wood flooring out – commercial grade – the first week we had several large scratches. If there is any dirt, sand, etc. on floor – watch out – major scratches. We moved a rug from our entry which has been down 2 weeks and already major bleaching of the non covered wood. What a disappointment! What a waste of money – beautiful yes – worthless yes – it’s only good if you don’t walk on it, live on it, breath on it. Water leaves marks – horrible floor!

Stacy H
Little Rock, Arkansas
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These type of comments continue with about 4 more web pages….about 95% are negative, and the term class action lawsuit makes a few more appearances.

In regards to the “green nature” Bamboo does mature more quickly than other species that are more often used for flooring.  If these dissatisfied homeowners replace their bamboo with maple Hickory or Oak. Then the “green-ness” of the bamboo is more drastically compromised.  The old flooring will likely end up in a land fill and additional flooring installed in its place.  Two floors are never as green as one.

I quote here from the Wikpedia article on bamboo flooring. Some interesting points are covered.

“Environmental Criticisms

Some research has shown that bamboo may not be as environmentally-friendly as it could be. The following are statements made in a report by Dr. Jim Boyer in a research paper for Dovetail partners.

“Recently, bamboo expansion has come at the expense of natural forests, shrubs, and low-yield mixed plantations . . . It is common practice to cut down existing trees and replace them with bamboo.”

• “As forestlands tend to be in hilly and mountainous areas with steep slopes, clear-cutting has resulted in an increase in erosion until the bamboo becomes fully established . . .”

• “Natural forests in the vicinity of bamboo plantations have sometimes given way to bamboo as a result of deliberate efforts to replace them or because of the vigorous natural expansion of bamboo in logged over forests. This process has also had a negative impact on bio-diversity.”

• “The intensive management practices employed involve manual or chemical weeding and periodic tilling of the land to keep the soil clear of undergrowth. These practices increase erosion and result in single-species plantations over large areas.”

• “The intensive use of chemicals (pesticides, weed killers and fertilizers) [associated with growing bamboo] also affects the environment . . .”
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So to meet the growing demand for perceived “green” resources.  Native diverse tropical forests are being cut and replaced with “farmed” bamboo.  These plantations now require the application of pesticides and fertilizers.  Once harvested the bamboo is processed using lots of energy and a collection of toxic chemicals, it is then shipped to the opposite side of the world to be installed and admired for a short time before the likelihood of getting replaced for its inferior durability.
The Better Option

Locally sourced FSC certified domestic hardwoods.  Milled and air-dried to your local climate.  Installed by local craftsmen, and finished with natural plant based oil finishes.  I have seen many old homes that have hardwood floors that are living into their second century.

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I’m writing this from the cabin, it is just past sunrise and last night was our third night. We will be leaving later this morning I have the coffee started and the girls are still sleeping. I will post this tonight when we get back home. We arrived Monday to some pretty good sized patches of snow over our land, today after some nice weather about a third of them are gone and the rest are much smaller. The small seasonal creek in the canyon before me starts flowing after the nights freeze has let go.

I was able to get a handful of projects completed on this trip, at least the one I had prioritized. The rest of the ceilings LED’s are installed, we stained the box we built Sunday for the sawdust toilet, and I got about 6 ½ courses up of the ceiling T&G. The 6 rows or so are all that I brought here, there are still 25+ boards in the shop at home waiting to be sanded and oiled. I’m seeing now that I will need to get another 20 or so to finish the ceiling. It’s encouraging to see some actual finish work inside, and I hope we will have some time and money to put toward the outside this summer. The winter winds and moisture have turned the tarpaper on the sides to an eyesore…and I want to make the outside look good too.

The laptop charging station has been performing beyond expectations. On our second day here we listened to music and an audio book for more than seven hours. The little 10 ah battery did a fine job of running the 12V Bose computer speakers we use for our sound system. I now have the cabin’s 12V charging station wired in and we used that last night. I tried to run the chop saw for the ceiling project on the solar powered 1000-watt inverter but it was a no go. So we had to fire up the genny for that. I’ll try to remember to test the saw with my kill-a-watt meter when we get back. If its close, I might upgrade the inverter to one than can handle it…it’s a pain to run back and forth starting and stopping the genny just to cut a few boards at a time.

The girls seem to be getting into the cabin life, albeit a little slowly, they are using the sawdust toilet and helped me with some small projects, but the still played the ”I’m bored card” a few times. We did get in a nice hike to the Petaca yesterday, and they actually played on their own some outside as well. They hiked to the coral area and also did some photography by the creek on their own. Given enough time they will fall in love with Moontree Ranch as well. When we camped here last year we were in a tent, spent one night just south of the cabin site on Gil’s side of the property line…This year we are warm and snug in the cabin…what a difference a year makes.

Sawdust Toilet Box

I wish I had a large pile of materials outside and another month to spend here, the vision of our lives here are very close, I never want to leave after spending time here. Tori and I will be back in a few weeks for a couple days before our big Grand Canyon + Zion tour, its going to be a blast. Gary and Deb will return for a visit before we start Tori’s 50 tour.

The little table I brought down this trip is working better than I thought. Instead of using it for the dinning area, I have it set up next to the kitchen area by the picture window. I can sit here and write with the views of the canyon just a few yards out side. The window is a bit dirty from the winter….note to self…bring window cleaner down on next visit.

View at the Cabin

Today will be a “no work” day. Some pancakes for breakfast, a hike up the creek to the fence line and circle back to the Petaca overlook, this time we can crag some pics, yesterday the battery in the camera died just as we got there. Then we can load up the truck and hit the road. One our return trip we will grab a few Geocaches and drop a couple of the travel bugs we recently picked up.

Cheers!

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