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Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Experiments With Physics

The dog days of summer are upon us, but they grow shorter each night as the shadows of autumn encroach. These weeks and those immediately around Christmas are the slowest time of the beer calendar; all the summer beers are old hat, but the sun holds off the hearty cool-weather releases. We sit--probably on our verandas and porches--and wait. We know the changes are coming, but somehow in the warmth of days, we can pretend summer still stretches out before us, promisingly.

While those of easy circumstances sit, however, I toil. For reasons that now seem naive, I decided to paint my house this summer. I looked at the small structure and relatively intact surface (only the west and south walls were peeling) and thought: no problem. After I painted our previous house ten years ago, I swore I'd never paint another. But, walking around this wee lovely, I thought again. I'll save some money and do it myself.

Well. Turns out the house is not small: it is at least seven miles long and fourteen stories high. During the phase of scraping, I found that the surface was less intact than I suspected; like pulling a loose thread on a sweater, once you take scraper to a peeling wall, you don't stop until the whole thing is wearing its birthday suit. Time bends and shortens; I appear to make fine progress until I look at the clock and see a whole day has screamed by.

The days shorten, the house widens. And I keep drinking less beer, and visiting fewer pubs, than I would like.


  1. Sounds like you need to use something a little simpler than Physics....

    Simple ADDITION of a hired Painter will make for MORE personal time and less Physical effort.

    Time = Money

    Personal Time used = Personal Time Lost

  2. I took a side job a few years back painting houses. It's ALWAYS a lot more work than it looks like it's going to be. Especially if you have to do a lot of scraping. I did a few houses with the guy that hired me, and then did my own with his equipment on the cheap, and then called it quits. Despite all the work, I actually really enjoyed most of it, the part that got me was being 3 stories up on wobbly ladders in the wind with no health insurance, as an under-the-table worker.

    I once asked what would happen if I fell off a roof or something, and the guy I was working for said "you're fired and no longer work for me a second or two before you hit the ground."

    How far along are you?

  3. Doc, you must be a man of easy circumstances. For the unemployed, no job = no money = time = me painting.

    PedXer, I am actually enjoying it, too. Men (even old ones) need to throw themselves at a physical project from time to time, just to see if they still breathe. I'm mostly onto the painting, which is the easy and meditative part. Scraping mostly done. (I'm prepping a side at a time.)

  4. yeah, scraping is the worst. When I painted my house, it had a fresh coat of paint on it from the previous owner that I couldn't stand. Didn't really need any scraping, so I just pressure washed, caulked everything, masked, and painted. No biggie. Then summer rolled around, and all of the sudden paint started bubbling up all over, especially in the sun.

    Turned out that the previous owners painted right over the original 1958 oil based paint job. The paint they put on didn't bond properly to the old stuff, and when it got warm, the top coats expended and bubbled off the oil based surface. For every bubble I'd scrape and repaint, two more would pop up. I ended up having to scrape the entirety of all my south facing surfaces and start over. Talk about more work than you anticipate!

    If I had only waited a season to see how their paint job would have held up, I could have saved myself from doing it twice.

  5. PedXer, that's a horror story. By comparison, my experience has been a breeze. (Speaking of which, what the hell is blowing in right now. Feels like fall!)

  6. It was a hassle. There was a part of me that was thinking "well, it is south facing, I could just cover it with hops..."

  7. Every hear the joke about the man who was approached by a beautiful woman in a pub who said 'I will do anything you can describe in 3 words for $300'.

    Man ponders, smiles, and says 'Paint ... my ... house'.

  8. No job? Why waste money on painting the house? I'll pay ya to paint mine!

  9. Sounds a lot like the words of caution a friend said to you not too long ago...

    Nah! Was the response, I know what I'm getting myself into, house not to big, time on my hands...yada yada yada.

    Okay, said I, knowing full well that in a few weeks your tune would change.

    Still, it is gratifying once your are done.

  10. I am put in mind of the book 'Shop Class as Soulcraft' by Matthew B. Crawford which I am reading, slowly. The book is sub-title 'An Inquiry Into the Value of Work'. Crawford advocates that working with your hand and mechanical [in the broad sense] skills are good for your soul / self-esteem / sense of self-worth. I concur.