My first season building in Nicaragua we made bricks from a mixture of sand and clay (from the nearby riverbank), water (from the same river) and cement (purchased from a local cement factory). We pressed the mixture into bricks using a CINVA ram – a press operated by muscle power (and leverage) to compress the bricks, which were then placed in the sun to dry and cure. The houses we built had a brick half-wall topped by a board and batten upper wall (framed and sided with local timber, selectively culled).
Sorry, I have no surviving photos of the construction process or of the ram in action (but I have a great image in my head of an old photo from then, if that helps).
This woman in Kenya is going at this from another angle. While we used local materials, she uses plastic waste. So far she is making only brick pavers, but construction materials look like the next stage. The CINVA ram was developed at the Inter-American Housing Center (CINVA is an acronym for the name in Spanish, and the device was developed by Raul Ramirez in Colombia) to provide a low-cost locally-produced product. For what it does, it’s great. Her product is higher tech, with more expensive machinery requiring a more centralized production facility, but looks like a great way to reduce the landfill load of plastic waste (as well as slowing the growth of the floating “islands” of plastic trash in the oceans).
I am not advocating for one over the other – one is a great low-tech building method using local materials, while the other reuses plastic waste. Neither is anything to sneeze at.
We, by the way, changed from brick construction to stone. The stone was more bulletproof (I mean that literally) as well as holding up better during torrential rains.
We got five inches of new snow last night but today it got above freezing for the first time in a month. It was below zero (F) every night for two weeks (and at most, single digits above zero during the day). But now, time to take off the jacket and leave the hat and gloves on the shelf! Bailey (my canine pal) and I went for a walk. Pushing 40 and probably to surpass that tomorrow, it was almost warm enough for passive solar heating from the front porch.
Another day and warmer still. Pushing 50 (10 degrees C), a 70 degree (F) rise in a few days. Used passive solar heat today. I woke up today to a strange site. I believe aliens landed in the night. I found this snow tower in my front yard. It was too dark to photograph (and I had to get to work). By the time I got home it had melted somewhat, but is about 5.5 feet tall and 2 feet square. (A 2 foot carpenter’s square is next to it for scale.) Something about the proportions struck me so I measured carefully and found it to be 66.6 inches tall. I re-measured the sides and found them to be 66.6 cm. Oh, the horror!
Not all cab drivers are psychotic killers. Travis Bickel (Robert DeNiro) just gave us a bad name.
In this town, cab drivers were all something else – students, artists, writers, lawyers, or our next mayor. Driving cab was a vehicle to something greater. (link to a totally unrelated post by that title. It is great, and I didn’t write it.)
A fare would get in my cab and ask, “What do you do?” If I said, “I drive cab”, all conversation would stop. Clearly, I wasn’t one of Those People. Driving was not a noble profession by itself. If I said, “I’m driving cab to pay the bills while I organize a grocery co-op. When the store opens, I’ll quit this and that will become my full time job” – for some people, that would open up an interesting line of conversation. For others, the conversation would stop dead because it was clear that I was one of those people (not to be confused with Those People).
But one day, I hit on the right answer…Once a year, this college town was transformed. Between summer and fall semesters, when the town emptied out, we were host to The Graduate School of Banking. Bankers would come from far and wide to learn the latest ways to exploit us.
This was back in the dark ages – before streaming, before DVDs, before VHS. There were campus film societies showing 16 mm prints of all sorts of movies – 1930s and 40s screwball comedies, 40s and 50s film noir, foreign and art films, last year’s releases that were now released in 16 mm – but for two weeks all were transformed into porn promotors. Yes, those bankers had heard all about hippies and free love and hoped to come here to have sex with a nubile coed. Barring that, they’d watch porn films and then go patronize the massage parlors. And they took cabs everywhere. Many of them would ask me for tips – hoping I had a sideline as a pimp. If they got into my cab, I’m sorry to say their sex life was in their own hand(s).
So I was was driving a carload of bankers from the airport to their dorm and one asked, “So what do you do?” Without thinking, I said, “I’m a grad student in Poli Sci.” They quickly asked what I thought of President Nixon. I pontificated all the way to campus. Outside the dorm, I flipped the meter flag over to waiting time (where it charges by the minute and not by the mile) and continued to hold forth. They sat in rapt attention, asking more and more questions. I was a paid political pundit. They thanked me and tipped me as they got out. Why hadn’t I thought of this before?
The conference ended and, early Saturday morning, I happened to drive by that dorm. I saw a couple guys standing out front. Now this is a town where you call a dispatcher who sends a cab; you don’t hail from the roadside. But they didn’t seem to know that and I pulled up and loaded my cab with bankers on their way to the airport. I dropped them and flew back to the dorm as fast as I thought I could get away with early on a Saturday morning. After three loads, another driver got wind of the situation and I had to share the wealth. For most of the summer, driving was a less-than-minimum-wage job, so I was gonna milk this for all I could.
Years later I took a course at City College called “Labor in Literature and the Arts”. There I was introduced to Sue Doro, who worked in an Allis Chalmers machine shop, building tractors and heavy equipment. She also wrote poetry – poetry for people who get their hands dirty. She published a collection of work poems called Blue Collar Goodbyes.
Poem too Tired for a Title
tired as a crumpled lunch bag home after work the factory’s sting in my ears i try to smooth myself out flatten my wrinkles and snap myself back into life.
I had to produce something for the course so I wrote one poem about each job I’d held. At least one has seen the light of day in these pages. I noticed there were a lot of cab driving poems out there, but I knew I had to write one. It was definitely the shortest of the bunch.
Obligatory Cab Driving Poem
People like me, people who’ve worked a variety of “interesting” jobs, have all been cab drivers at some time.
People like me, people who write poems about their work, all have to write about driving cab at some time.
If you’ve heard one cab driving story you’ve heard ’em all.
Garden & Landscape Expo Begins Today! We’re honored to bring you a safe, virtual event that will unite and engage the gardening community, sharing inspiration and educational opportunities. If you haven’t already, complete our simple registration form at wigardenexpo.com and start exploring. Then, join us tomorrow and Sunday for two full days of education, inspiration and camaraderie!To review answers to frequently asked questions from participants, visit our FAQ page. We’ll also have a live video help desk available during the event from 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. CST, Feb. 20-21. Click here to register!
You do need to register for Garden & Landscape Expo to view the gallery of photos. Registration is free and only takes a moment. You can register at wigardenexpo.com.
Feel free to encourage your friends and family [that’s you] to register for the event and vote for their favorite photo for the Viewers’ Choice Award. [And I certainly hope you vote for one of these two photos.]
This year’s Garden & Landscape Expo features two full days of live and interactive educational sessions with experts and gardening professionals, a live online exhibitor mall, virtual garden tours captured at the peak of the summer and autumn seasons, opportunities to pose questions to UW-Madison Horticulture Division of Extension experts in open Q&A forums, special activities for kids and families, and more!
Exhibitor Mall Live Streams Available Starting Today Exhibitors from across the country are participating in this year’s virtual Garden & Landscape Expo. They include landscapers, nurseries, arborists, environmental and horticultural organizations, artists and more! Allen Centennial Garden, pictured above, is the artful living laboratory and public botanical garden of the Horticulture Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Garden serves as an outdoor classroom for University of Wisconsin-Madison students and the surrounding communities, providing meaningful learning opportunities for visitors of all ages. Representatives from Allen Centennial Garden will be streaming live video content for Garden & Landscape Expo, and will be available to answer questions about their work and programming. While you can browse exhibitor profiles and shop anytime, exhibitors will live stream video content – such as product demos, tutorials, store tours and more – from 11 a.m. – noon and 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. CST, Saturday-Sunday, Feb 20-21. Participants will be able to chat with exhibitors and move from one exhibitor’s stream to the next, much like booth-hopping at a physical exhibitor mall! Gear up for the gardening season with plants, seeds, gardening equipment and advice, and connect with landscape professionals. Click here to view the online profiles for participating exhibitors.
[There was more to this release, but you get the gist. All content not in brackets (plus the photos of the peony with ant and the river) is from PBS Wisconsin. Content was edited slightly to change “tomorrow” to “today”, as this is being posted on Saturday.]