Friday, September 30, 2005

if i had a hammer

and chisel and trowel and a bunch of rock

ben, who is an excellent teacher btw, has been teaching me the masonry chisels, hammers and trowels also loads of rules and how & when to break them. he is such a nice guy i feel lucky to have met him. an example of his generosity is: he owns a tiny lot with a phone and fax machine in the middle of a local amish community just so they can borrow it without hassles.

i rode one of his mules today. it was pretty fun it has been a very long time since i've been in a saddle. it's just like riding a bike (or a horse) no problem.

DSL is coming very soon. i'll be able to get work from outta state.

better yet i'll be able to up-load more photos to my blog

Thursday, September 29, 2005

adventurous day

yesterday ben took me to help detail out a masonry job that they mostly completed. it was beautiful. wendy (walmart) walden had it built. timber frame wonderful stone masonry, three fireplaces, stone foundation, a dry stack ford, a huge retaining wall and wrap around porch with stone piers. i met bens business partners (the amish timber framers). they were very cool and did excellent work. i plant to go on the next raizing (if they want me). it'd be cool to learn.

we also drove through seymore and saw the amish community where most of the workers on the timber job live.

score--i found a raw milk source we'll see how things work out there today when i try to bring the booty home.

i'm off to work....

Monday, September 26, 2005

not much happening

the wood stove has not been delivered yet. i had planned install the chimney liner this weekend but decided that it would be prudent to have the wood stove and all corresponding instructions before i installed the chimeny liner. the yard got mowed thanks to mike. it looks really great real grass and just a nice place to be. the chickens loved the freshly sturred up yard. they were so excited that they flapped around the entire yard for hours.
we got some more rain the pond only went up 5 or 6 inches. i have poison ivy all over my arm and don't feel much like sweating since it seems to irritate it.
the drive to work is too long and i think that i need to find something local even if it is less than ideal. i worked on my resume (for the first time in many years)

here is what my first draft has produced sans formatting:

Karl B O’Melay
223 State Hwy O
Kissee Mills, MO 65680
Sun Light and Power From April 2001
Alternative Energy Company To July 2005
1045 Folger Ave. Immediate supervisor Justin Weil
Berkeley, CA 94710 (510) 845-2997

Electrician – I have experience in photovoltaic D.C. Solar Collector wiring 12 to 600 volt strings, D.C. disconnects, Grid interconnected and stand alone inverters (120 & 240 volt), A.C. disconnects. A.C. – inverter bypass. I also have an understanding of wind and hydro electric systems, including necessary safeguards and application specific components. Installation of critical load-sub panels by either re-pulling existing or running new household circuits to run from a battery back-up. Running heavy gauge D.C. high amperage wire of batteries. Wiring and programming of D.C. charge controller and slave mercury vapor switches for battery charging. Wiring and programming of low voltage disconnects. Calculating voltage drop for distance and wire gauge for A.C. and D.C. lines. Bending and running conduit while pulling multiple wires through it. Wiring 120 and 240 volt pumps and appropriate fuse and switch protection. Wiring low and high voltage relays, zone controls, transformers and boiler controls. Installing and programming thermostats for boilers, heat-pumps, A.C. units and whole house fans. Generally running power to boilers, heat-pumps, tank and instant water heaters, solar thermal differential controls, zone control systems, timed switches, set-point controls and fused outlets. Designing and installing complex relay systems using latching relays, timed relays and interdependent, cascading and simple Boolean logic using standard relays. I’ve installed milivolt controlled auto-vent fans for multiple gas heat devices. I can install any standard service panel, household switch or outlet. I have an excellent understanding of electricity and how to safely harness it.

Plumber – I have experience plumbing using sweat copper, copper/brass compression fittings, black pipe, galvanized pipe, ABS, PVC, PEX (compression and crimp connections) and I am certified to install stainless steel flexible gas line (ward-flex). Pluming of tank, instant water heaters (Rinnai certified), boilers (Monitor, RBI, Munchkin, Baxi), heat exchangers, backflow-preventers, auto-fill and pressure reducers, separate drain back and glycol loops. I regularly plumbed circulators (pumps) and their respective loops through existing houses and new construction while avoiding potential airlocks. Installing temperature mixing valves (mechanical and electronic ‘with outdoor reset’) over-pressure bypasses, check valves, bypass valves and pressure regulators. I can calculate head based on pipe size, fittings and vertical lift. I have plumbed to geothermal wells from heat-pumps, laid many miles of PEX tubing in concrete, gybcrete, staple-up, aluminum transfer plates, warm board and thermal board. Charged systems with glycol and methanol/water mixtures. I have brazed, insulated and installed Freon lines between condensers and compressors but never charged any Freon lines. I have installed examples of almost every household fixture and appliance. I have an outstanding understanding of plumbing, fluid and thermal dynamics.

Carpenter – I have general carpentry skills and regularly use them. I am also able to read blueprints and most schematics.
At Sun Light and Power I installed complete systems start to finish while managing and training my crew. I also oversaw additional crews as necessary. I was the employee that they sent out on service calls for difficult clients and complex problems. I take responsibility for jobs and can be counted on as a “worry free” employee to overcome obstacles and finish the job. I own most of my own tools to accomplish all the above described skills.

Prior to April of 2001 I had a different career. My resume as a designer, programmer, publisher and engineer is available online at

i guess a cookie cutter coverletter is next then back to revisions on this.

Monday, September 19, 2005

the new job

well, what can i say stone masonry is hard hard work. i knew it would be but i didn't think it'd have such a steep learning curve. don't get me wrong it's not like learning radiant heating principles, but ive been at it for 2 days & still am kinda lost. ben is great to work for. he has a gentle peacefulness that is calming yet a distance like he has a shell around him. i'm learning old-school stone masonry at the moment then hope to eventually move to masonry heaters. i feel that there is a place in this adventure where ancient techniques and current technology can be integrated.
the problem with masonry heaters is that the people who can afford to have someone build them one don't like them since their functionality isn't instantaneous. they are super efficient but require baby sitting. my idea is to hopefully integrate some of the thermal dynamic principals that i have learned with this new endeavor. the integration of the two should hopefully find a new market for masonry heaters, that have efficiencies in the 90 percentile range.
the place where ben lives is the most beautiful place i've seen in the ozarks. that is saying something. the drive there is long but meditative and gorgeous. i'll try & take pictures today and post them here.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

get them up before i loose connection again

The fence with new top soil

the pond is really full now. i figure at 17 feet across (at the top) and 6 feet deep (like a bowl-bottom of a sphere) so i'm guessing (after dragging up some long forgotten math skills) that there is 2,500 gallons in ther right now. notice the GUESSING being the most important part of that statement.

this is a great example of the beautiful red clay here. i see some earthen plaster in my near future (cow milking shed)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

recently completed stuff

burned that big pile of brush (post rain safety window)
cleaned the gutter (yuck)
put trim around kitchen floor
roofed the chicken coop with aged corrigated steel (help keep the rain out)
cleaned (very little) the garage
confirmed with ben that i'd like the job
i start friday @7:00 am

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


there is an old pond on the property. it is about 300 meters away from the house & about halfway to the hollow. it has spent the last ten or so years collecting oak leaves. mike & i started digging it out last night. the tractor has a scoop on the back. in theory it scrapes a little of the mud up and gets dumped in a fashion to help divert more rain water in. but it mostly gets stuck in the muck. we got 5 or 6 scoops (the size of a wheel barrow) out last night. it became obvious we were trying to drive out of the pond/mud-hole while the edges were too steep and crowded with scrub trees. we went after the chainsaw and mostly cleared the best egress. the next morning we finished clearing brush and started digging the pond. mike's tractor is an extension of his being he drove that thing in around and all over. it was sketchy a few times and we almost quit but i'd shovel more weight in the bucket and throw dry dirt into the spinning tire tracks. finally after a nerve racking 5 hours we cleared it.

next we went to the farm (where mikes cattle are) to dig one of those ponds. it was easy going mike hardly spun his tires. after the first scoop it became obvious that the moist dirt was excellent top soil. neither of us able to overlook this bounty started to load it into the trailer. lots of hand digging necessary to get the trailer full. we took the load up to the house and scattered it across our garden area (3 cubic yards or so). i decided that i only had another load left in me so we went back to the pond and filled the trailer again. i hung around (resting) while mike dug the rest of the pond and piled the bounty for future access.

the second trailer i unloaded (mostly alone) around the fence for flower beds and more into the garden area.

i am so sore this morning (i guess i shoveled 6 cubic yards of dirt yesterday).

all this activity had to happen before the expected rain last night. YES, it rained and very hard. i'll check the pond to see if we collected any water for nimue this winter.

here it is this morning about 1/3 full.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

cow, cat & calk

the cow is really nice obviously someone’s pet or 4H project. tabitha and nimue are fast friends.
the cat is doing nicely, tabitha makes food for her from healthy "known" ingredients. either i'm getting used to her or the diet really does help with pet allergies. thanks margo for the lead & the pet food book. the cat is the great black hunter. no mammals yet but plenty of insects and lots of pride after the kill.
while the girls were getting nimue i had a small window of opportunity to grout the final floor tiles. tristan managed to stay glued to the incredibles almost long enough for me to get it done. calking around the tub really needed to happen. having water babies means a house must be able to withstand torrential deluges.
the chimney and wood stove are my next highest priority. i have an appointment monday with the cool masonry guy from nixa. i'll bring photos and all the proper measurements to have the final consultation. Hopefully, i'll also solicit for a job. tabitha made a good point that she wants me to love my job like i did sunlight and power. this skill would be of such great interest and the guy seems very cool that i'd probably embrace it in a similar fashion.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Nimue the cow

we have a cow. i must admit that i'm a bit freaked out. another family member without the 9 month adjustment period. we are off to take photos & a visit. she looks like a overgrown doe. she is beautiful.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

curb appeal

well the fence is mostly in and painted red in remembrance of nineten (big fat hen). once the exterior started to shape up (the new fence) fixing the windows & stucco snarls became necessary--even with the heat beating down on us. mike & i used this stuff called (solarflex) it repairs old stucco by joining to it like magic. it's kinda like doing fiberglass & stucco rolled into one but this stuff is easy easy easy. a person could hardly do it wrong. it cleans up with water easier than latex paint. i'm just blown away by this stuff.

we killed the mold & mildew on 1/3 of the house & power-washed it with mikes new 2200 psi power sprayer. a person has to be careful not to damage the wood with that thing.

curb appeal (house paint) is close at hand

Friday, September 02, 2005

the gate is in and it looks cool

the fence posts are cut and the front is ready to paint. i installed the gate because it can get painted too.
we went to the creek yesterday and had a blast the kids loved it the rocks are very slippery which is a benefit for sliding down the little current. but tabitha fell and twisted her knee. we kinda just rode around in the car this morning and did a bit of shopping but mostly kept tabitha off her feet.
it is too late to get pictures of the gate tonight plus i think it's raining (yeah!)
photos to come
we also bought 5 gallons of exterior house paint (white)

kids are crazy gotta go

the real excitement

my work bench is underway the cabnets are from a kitchen re-model that mike did a few years ago.

i installed a doorway air-wall like they use in commercial buildings to keep the flies & cooler house air seperate.

kids & chickens outta the road

our house is going to be so cute with a fence. the posts are currently twice as long as they need to be. i'll cut them and install a top rail this afternoon. fence streching should happen this weekend.
mike's boss has requested a viewing of the crazy hippie-punky-crunchy californians. we will go up to his house for a barbeque this sunday. i guess he's pretty cool & it should be fun.

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