Pop can inroads

Over the last few days I’ve been trying to set up things to buy cans from a young man we know, Rowan Johnson.  Rowan is eight years old and he (with help from his parents) has set up a job for himself.  With permission from the Little Fort Husky, Rowan has set out 5-6 recycling containers at the store/gas station/Subway and every few days he collects these cans and sorts them for bottle returns.

I’ve known his mom, Jackie, for a few years; we share a love of good books and have a meeting of minds on lots of different things whenever we bump into each other at our kids’ activities.

Jackie told me via Facebook (who said FB wasn’t good for something) that Rowan wanted to DONATE some pop cans to our house. He is saving for a dirt bike and horse.  Well, I couldn’t let him do that.  Capitalism has strict rules in my book!

After a few phone calls with Jackie I was told that there was already a bag sorted that I could buy, but I’d have to wait until they got through the 20+ bags that have been collected and put aside while other summer activities took priority.  I think also, that the amount to be sorted was a bit overwhelming for even the most entreprenurial eight year old.  I know that if I leave something too long, and it builds up, it often takes even longer to get to it!

Being in a mad rush, I offered myself and a few Newtons up for a few hours of sorting.  This went over very well and an offer was put forth by Rowan, via Jackie (and I suspect suggested by Jackie and Rowan’s father, Duncan).   In exchange for the help sorting, we could take all the pop cans free of charge. I was assured that there is a smaller percentage of pop cans so it was still steps forward to the dirt bike and horse.

At first I wasn’t going to accept the cans without paying for them, even under this scenario, but after thinking about it, I realized this is what I would have put forward if it were my child.  Good lessons about doing business.

I thought I was stunned by the vastness of used tires; I was shocked at the amount of garbage and waste that comes with bottle/can recyling.  FULL bottles of unopened water and pop (and no, I didn’t take them home to drink…ew, that’s taking it too far, even for me).  Despite the fact that Rowan’s bins clearly indicate recyclables, we found:  coffee cups, milk containers, food (a half chewed pizze piece comes to mind), a diaper (yuck), old maps and newspapers and candybar wrapper.  A really disgusting smell came from one bag, the source of which I never located, but the smell lingered for a bit even after we sorted the bottles.

Duncan warned us not to empty coke bottles that had apple juice in them.  Apparently this is urine!  (Oh, double EW and three barfs!)

At the end of an hour or so we walked away with about 600 cans and there was at least three times that in glass or plastic bottles.

Thanks Rowan, Jackie and Duncan.

Roofing, Rain and and a Popcan Wall

Getting the roofing material on site lit a fire under us; yesterday we placed the 30# roofing felt on top of the 2×6 decking, and we started placing rigid insulation. Tom and Stephanie stopped by yesterday and they helped us place the felt …. thanks guys! After they left Sandra and I even managed to place the first two rows of rigid insulation on top of the felt (it was a long day).  The kids had a good time writing messages on the roofing felt … hopefully I will not be the next one to see their messages!

The rigid insulation is not entirely pleasant to work with; it is easy enough to cut and place it, but it has a fiberglass coat of some kind and you itch all over after handling it. We are placing two layers of 4″ thick rigid insulation for a total of 8″ and R50 (R25 per layer). The insulation going on top of the felt is a polyiso rigid insulation. As far as I can gather from the reams of information available on rigid insulation on the internet this rigid insulation has better R value per inch of material and it has to be kept dry to be effective.  We mechanically attached the rigid insulation to our roof deck using screws made for the job (all of our roofing materials are Firestone products).  The second layer of rigid insulation will be staggered so that the seams do not line up with the bottom layer to avoid thermal bridging and condensation.  Condensation in the roof could ultimately lead to rot and mildew so we are being careful to make tight seams and we are taping all of the seams on the first layer.

We tarped the roof yesterday evening when we were done for the day, and it is a good thing we did … it started raining last night and it has continued to rain on and off today.  The good news is that the inside of the building stayed dry … we almost have a roof!  The bad news was that we had to stop working on the roof since the insulation cannot get wet.  Hopefully, we will be back at it by Monday.

We spent today working on the pop can wall on the east side of the building.  Over the last couple of weeks we have been preparing this wall; we framed the door opening, cut and nailed lathe to the edges of the wall to hold the cement wall in place and we flashed the bottom and the side of the wall.   Today we actually started placing cement insulation and cans.  We are using a double layer of rigid insulation in the middle of the wall and pretty much following the system described in Earthship Volume I.  For now we plan to build the wall up to the lintel above the door.  We will have a small roof over this door so we still need to do some framing above the door.

Other than that I have been working on the backhoe.  We have had virtually no problems with this machine over the last year and it has been invaluable.  Last week while helping move dirt for the back berm of the building I was unable to shift from forward to reverse.  Surprisingly, the transmission would not disengage no matter how loudly I cursed or how hard I tried to push the immobile shift lever.  I have never succeeded in fixing something by yelling at it, but I do not imagine I will give up trying.  I had visions of a huge repair job, but when  I finally convinced myself to open the transmission cover I discovered a simple problem; the set screw holding the shifting fork had fallen out and consequently the fork was not doing its job properly.  These scres are wired in place so they do not fall out but the wire had finally failed.  Fortunately, I had a spare screw that fit, was able to drill a hole through the top and was able to wire it in place.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the old bolt.  Hopefully, the old bolt is good and stuck in the housing and is not going to drift into the gears one of these days and chip something.

The pop can pilgrimage

After my interview with CBC bright and early this morning, the kids and I attached the trailer and headed for the Kamloopa Powwow grounds to score the, hopefully, remaining 7,000 cans we needed to finish our house.

Here we are:

But you have to get up a lot earlier and stay out a lot later to beat this lady to it….

The lady saw me speaking to the folks camping next to her stash and invaded my personal space to re-iterate that it all belonged to HER.  She went on to tell me that she’s on a pension and that she’s been at the Powwow grounds all weekend and she’s got blisters from walking around picking cans up.  I reassured her I wasn’t going to take any of it and commended her on providing a recycling service.  That didn’t make her step back out of my personal space, although the kids took a few steps back.  I asked her if she thought it was worth us walking around at all and she emphatically denied that there were any left. 

Nevertheless, the kids and I decided to try, recylcing bags in hand.  Well, I decided to try, by this point the kids were happy to leave.  The lady’s parting comment to me was that she wished she had my trailer, since the bottle depot was closed today and she had to get everything home.  She had about another pick up load of bags next to her truck.  I suppose  I could’ve offered to take her extras home for her, but I just smiled at her and wished her luck. Besides, I wasn’t sure she wouldn’t load me up and then call the cops when I was a kilometer down the road!

We walked around the grounds and here’s what we managed to find:

We’ve got a bit of work to do on Plan B.