Sunday, August 14, 2016

On building stairs and integrity.

Recently over at Center For Inquiry's forum which I frequent regularly, I was confronted with another joker repeating Poptech's conjured description of me as a guilt-riddled strung-out druggie and lost soul.  Poptech's slander is his way of responding to my fact checking, critiquing and challenging his claims.  Others of his persuasion have been quick to embrace the bull-pucky.

It seems that every few weeks some new joker finds Poptech's article and gleefully grabs his ammunition and blasts aways at me in the middle of some other discussion.  That they are dealing with figments of their own imagination matters not one wit to them - it's character assassination they're interested in.

What else is there for someone who consistently misrepresents serious climate science?  They sure don't have solid evidence on their side.  Nor do they have the requisite intellectual curiosity to learn about the things they don't understand.  When something confuses them, assume the worst, with ignorant certitude.

Distraction is their game.  Marginalize the messenger and marginalize the message.  Spend all your time wrestling with ad hominems and there's no time to talk about our real world situation.  Go straight for the jugular of your opponent with anything you can conjure.  

There's a certain level of sick humor in reading how these minds can spin facts into tailor-made fictions - but of course, in the end all they want is to destroy any opponent in order to stifle fundamental climate science education - no commitment to honesty, or integrity, or respect for others.  Tragically absolutism and paranoia driven resentment seems all their hearts are capable of.

Admitting to and learning from mistakes is treated like blasphemy by the Republican contrarian crowd.  Nothing funny about that either.

It's irrational, irritating, stupefying and it certainly demands some sort of comeback.  But, I’m not into Poptech’s, or LandscapesandCycles' Jim Steele's or NC20 Burton’s style of childish messenger bashing. 

Still, since they want to get down and personal, I can respond with something personal.  Consider it another character reference . . . . . . . 

It started as a note to a friend . . .

Hey D, I never did tell you the end of the story regarding those stairs.  As you might remember last autumn I had me a hernia.  It took months longer to get repaired than it should have, towards the end of that run I was actually invalided, bed to recliner, no lifting.  Innards all funky.  Not fun.  Feeling every bit of my sixty years and reconciling myself to the end of my sweet vigorous years.  Among other dark thoughts was the realization that my carpentry days were totally behind me now.  Which they are, but to ponder that I’d never be able to climb walls again, or help set beams and rafters, or one of my favorites building stairs - that's a different thing from choosing not to do it.  A proud physical old man wrestles with those realities as the 'diminishing' advances with the years.  

As things turned out, life can be blessed, micro-surgery went well, recovery surprisingly fast.  Another reprieve and this old body’s back in shape.  As for the carpentry those were just musings, I figure I could still put in a couple good weeks, if need be.  But the thought of regular week after week no way, not any more.  It would be stupid and self destructive to try pretending.  Fortunately, I’m not needing to go find that sort of work.  I have a nice low stress maintenance gig doing me just fine. 

Then out of the blue a good buddy and occasional work partner back in the day, (who’s a couple decades younger), calls me up and asked if I wanted to build some stairs for him.  He was busy framing the house and with his small crew he didn’t need the headache and he knew I can do a nice clean sturdy job.  It was another cosmic giggle.  Weeks earlier resigning myself to never again, now this!

Cool!  Still, it’s one thing remembering and writing about all I once built, it’s another standing in front of the materials.  Can you do it again old man?  Every new job is a new test.  How good are you?  Not yesterday, but today?  

Better not screw up.  Can the old back deal with it?  Now there’s the belly demanding a bit of coddling.  But, hell a challenge is a challenge and I never could say no to good job offers.  I mean really, if they think enough of me to offer me the job, take it, do it, make them happy, makes me happy.  

I’ll admit to a little apprehension.  That’s okay, I’ve found being a little scared is often a healthy thing, focuses one’s mind wonderfully.  In any event, by and by I did build those stairs.  A distracted silly 3/4” screw up in placing my upper ledger sucked.  Still, I recognized it early and after a bit of self-flagellation, I figured out an easy fix, notching the top tread, so no harm done.  The stringers and stairs are correct and accurate.  

As for the workmanship, such as the tight fitting angle-cut fire-blocking and structural elements, she’s a beaut.  I made the effort, exercised my skills and achieved the goal, and this time I have more than another memory, I have pictures too and given the smack some talk about me, I figure I'll share some them over here. 

 (Take that you trash-talking know-nothings)

Bottom of future stairs.
Landing and space where stairs are going.
Spacer for stringers, to allow for future sheet rock and the tongue'n groove pine finish.
This area will be a utility room so impinging on the door is okay, i guess.
Architect's call not mine.
After I draw the layout on the first stringer, I cut the bottom and top, for a test fit.
It's critical to get this step correct.  (The sharper the pencil the better your cuts).
The next critical step, clean accurate cuts.
I use a jigsaw for a neat finish to my 'birds mouth' cut.
Double check consistency of stringers and make any necessary adjustments.
Building Code gives me ~3/8" allowable variance between steps, 
contractor gave me ~1/16" standard with a challenging wink, I kept it damned near ~1/8".

Note, the near spacer looks weird because it's laying there, not yet attached.
Top of stairs will terminate here. 
Installed header, plus cut out for future duct work.
Do it before the HVAC duct butchers come in and do it.
Duct opening after installation of stringers.
Final check on stringer before attaching.
{This is where a contrarian type could magnify and laugh and laugh 
because the bubble isn't centered, 
never appreciating or acknowledging that the camera is at an angle, 
giving a false impression.  ;- ) }
Blocking to help add extra strength, spaced to double as nailer for sheetrock.
Center stringer gets notched, the 2x4 boot adds extra stability.
(Note structural screws lined up to penetrate joists.)
(Don't see it here, but eventually I took some stair cutouts and filled in under the stringers 
flush with the framing - dimension of platform was given to me by contractor.)

Ready for treads, owner didn't want risers installed at this point.
Treads ready to go.
That top tread.
I swear by that DeWalt saw for nice accurate cutting.
In the day I would wear one out literally every year.
Then the bottom fell out in 2008 now given light duty this one is still around since Dec 2007.
(It's nylon/plastic gears which makes it relatively light - 
just don't hold up when being used hours on end, and in the heat.)
But, no other saw felt as good and accurate so it was worth it.
I also have a monster Milwaukee Worm Drive for the serious production cutting,
fortunately not much call for it these days.
Yup, talk about watching oneself age, 
that Milwaukee beast was out front heralding my diminishing physical strength a decade ago.

Treads installed.
Detail, base of stairs.
Cutting the stringers for the lower set of stairs.
Installing stringers and blocking.  
I added blocking at middle and again filled in under stringers with some cutouts, 
also tossed in an upright at middle of center stringer for extra bearing, for the heck of it.

Finished stairs.

PS.  It's not the job you're doing, that's important.
It's how well you're doing the job you're doing, 
that's important!

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