Tuesday, October 14, 2008

35' Pin Oak Moved - Successfully!

When we started work on our addition, we knew that it was going to be closer than we liked to a 35' pin oak in our backyard. The 29x22' addition ended up only about 8' from the base of the tree. We weren't sure what we were going to do, but once we knew we were getting solar panels, we knew eventually we'd have to do something. That meant either moving it or cutting it down. We weren't sure it was possible to move a tree this large, but we found someone who could do it. The company is Michael Greeno Tree Spade Services, based out of Concord MA. We hired him to move the tree to the lower part of the yard. The work was done last Thursday 10/9. Here are the pictures before, during and after.
PS In the first picture, if you look on the roof to the right of the tree, you can see the photovoltaic solar panels.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Morning in Normandy

Hi Debbie, Jillian, Nicholas,

Here's a short video showing the view from my room this morning. The white roof you see is the tent of the outdoor restaurant area in front of the hotel. It's a typical fall day in Normandy, a little gray and rainy. I guess the weather here (since it's fairly close to the ocean) is often like this in the fall.

I can hear the sound of church bells from the old cathedral now, coming through the open window. A nice sound.

Time to head to work.

See you, Love,

PS I posted the video after supper. We had another good day at work today, and finished up our visit here. We leave tomorrow for the Schneider office in Bourgebus, France, for a 1 day visit with another project team there. After work tomorrow, we head to Paris to the hotel "Le Meridien".

Here are the directions from Pacy to Bourgebus:
Zoom out and you can see where we are in France, and in relation to England. It's not far from the English Channel (or as they call it in France "La Manche", which means "the sleeve").

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My 3rd day in Pacy

Hi Debbie, Jillian, Nicholas -

I had some time before dinner tonight, so I went for a walk, and crossed over the bridge near the hotel. This was the first time I walked across the bridge toward that part of Pacy. Here's a picture that shows the best view of the hotel.

Here's a picture of the Schneider office in Pacy. This office is a joint venture of Schneider and Toshiba (from Japan), and that's why it has both names.

There are a lot of interesting old houses. Here is one I saw on my walk today. What's especially neat is that the turret on the right ends rather abruptly. There is a driveway next door, and the turret ends like it was cut in half!

We had a regular dinner today - pizza! I had a salad Nicoise to start with, which is good since I've been eating too much rich food on the trip so far!

Hope you're all well,

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My business trip to Pacy, France

Hi Debbie, Jillian and Nicholas,
Here are the picture from the trip so far in Pacy, France. A different picture of the front lawn of the hotel, and also of the Eure river. You can see Ron Naismith, Bruce Dunbar and Bill LeRette (from left to right).
The hotel L'Etape is at a beautiful spot. It was built in 1769 as someone's home. There are also pictures from the afternoon on the first day we arrived. We took a walk to a park that's just a block from main street, with views of the river and the gardens. Nice, huh?

We stopped to get a sandwich and a pastry at a boulangerie (bakery). I got a small ham and butter sub sandwich, an apricot tart (very tasty) and a blackberry soda. I thought the tart looked a little like a pineapple, but it was apricots. The shops in France all do a great job with their displays. Here's a picture of the bakery window and display case inside. Both look good, don't they?

Friday, May 30, 2008

We have a roof...and stairs!

It's been a while since my last update on our addition, but now we have a roof and 2x4 partitions are up in the 2nd floor. As of today, all three rough stairways are in place. It's so neat to walk up the stairs from the kitchen to the 2nd floor!

Here's the latest progress timeline:
Apr 14 - the main roof over the addition (took another week to complete the new roof section over the existing roof)
Apr 24 - the shingles
May 13 - the partition 2x4 framing in the master suite
May 16 - concrete poured for garage floor
May 30 - all 3 rough stairways completed (they finished them today!)

Here are some pictures of how it looks. We're especially happy with how the addition extended the existing south facing side of the house(the side of the house with the greenhouse). We thought the south face of the house & addition looks a little like an old long farm house. What do you think?

If you're wondering when it will be completed...I think we’re looking at the end of the summer at this point!

The view down the new driveway. As you can see, the addition is not very visible from the street, so it doesn't change the view of the existing house very much.

Of course from the backyard, the addition is a lot more visible. :)
Here's a view of the roof before and after the shingles were installed:
Here are the stairs going from the kitchen up to the master suite:
Here's the view from the bath into the master bedroom:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Final Pour! April 9th, 2008

Here are some pictures of the final pour. This shows the long arm of the pumper truck, pumping concrete up into the forms on the 2nd floor. We now have concrete all the way up to the eaves! The metal poles you see sticking up above the walls are the supports for the ICF blocks. These supports will be taken away when the concrete hardens. In the picture at the bottom, you can see the top of the wall, with the concrete inside the form. Also inside the forms in this picture, you can see four 2x6 boards nailed together above each window frame.

Next week, the framers can put on the roof! Yeehah!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Almost ready to pour 1st floor on our Green Addition

Our addition project using ICF blocks is progressing. We're getting ready for the 4th concrete pour. This will bring the concrete up to the level of the 2nd floor! One more after that! (The first 3 pours were: 1) foundation footing, 2) four feet of the garage level, and 3) remaining 8ft of the garage level)

It's been nice walking around in the kitchen, looking out the windows at the yard, and finalizing the positions of the windows and kitchen layout.

In the pictures of the inside of the addition, you can see where there are vertical columns attached to the walls and supports attached to the sub-floor to keep the blocks in place for the pour. Once the concrete hardens, all of this hardware will be removed.

We made one change to the size of one of the windows, where we went from 3 double hung windows to just 2. We made this change after the foam for that opening was cut. You can see that on one of the pictures, where there is plywood visible on either side of one of the window openings instead of the foam insulation. The foam is behind the plywood, but because they used smaller sections of foam to fill in the gap, they needed the plywood to hold the foam in place. It was cheaper to do this than to rebuild that wall with blocks. Once the concrete is poured, they'll remove the plywood. With this construction technique, you do have to have the windows in place before you pour! It's not like knocking out some wood framing, and moving a window if you don't like where it is.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

How Do Scientists Know They're Not Wrong About Global Warming? (from LiveScience.com)

I thought this was a good summary of the reasoning behind the scientific consensus on Global Warming. The article was published on livescience.com in July 2007:


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Re: Br-r-r! Where did the global warming go? (in response to Boston Globe OpEd piece)
Sunday, January 6, 2008 3:02:01 PM

There was an OpEd piece in the Boston Globe today by Jeff Jacoby. Basically, he made the case that because there is snow and cold weather in unusual amounts and in unusual places, then global warming is not happening. Well, I had to reply. :) Here is the link to the editorial, and my letter in response.


Br-r-r! Where did the global warming go?

6 January 2008

Dear Jeff,

Just because last year was not the warmest on record does not mean that global climate change has stopped happening. Just because Massachusetts had a lot of snow in the month of December doesn't mean a new ice age has arrived! I use the term climate change - and not global warming - because not every place is going to get warmer. The overall effect will be warmer, but many places will be colder. Some places will be wetter, some will be drier. The operative word is change. That change is real and has been measured in every climate zone all over the world.

To come up with a list of places that had unusually cold weather does not mean that it's getting colder. If anything, it may add to the evidence that significant climate change is happening. I bet one can point to a number of places that had unusually warm weather this winter. I know that my hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania - known for its annual snowfalls in the snowbelt near the Great Lakes - is having an unusually low snowfall year. When I was there for Christmas this year, there was NO snow on the ground. People commented about how unusual it was, and that they've been seeing this for the last several years.

There are scientific questions about the relative effect of CO2 levels versus solar output. However the scientific consensus today says that it's not the sun that's causing the changes, but human activity.

There is a genuine question where we should allocate funds to reduce human suffering in the word. But if we don't make a concerted effort over the next 50 years to reduce carbon emissions, the scientific consensus is unequivocal: we will risk severe climate changes that will cause great hardship to millions and possibly billions of people all over the world. If changing weather patterns reduce global farm production by even 20% year-on-year, what will happen to the millions of people in the world who are already living in the margins?

Without addressing long-term carbon dioxide output over the next 50 years, it won't matter if we have spent money on education or healthcare or economic development in our efforts to help the poor around the world. All of those efforts will be swept away. The costs to address this today are very small compared to the potential harm and costs that we are facing.

It's funny that you question whether global warming is happening, but then say it's easier to adapt than try to prevent it. Is it happening or not? Yes, we will need to adapt, but if we don't address the cause of this problem as the first priority, adaptation will not be enough.

We may look outside our doors in Massachusetts and see an unusually snowy winter, but that doesn't mean the climate problem has gone away.

Mark Bohrer