Friday, July 22, 2011

Shipping Container Building Update

Connex Box update

As some of you know I’m interested in low cost housing. My reasoning is simple. In a world where the average American worker makes $20,000 to $35,000 a year and the average house sells for around $200,000 the average family will soon be renting instead of owning. We need an alternative that an unskilled laborer can handle; so I’m looking at Rammed Earth, Straw bale, Adobe bricks, Cast in Place Adobe, a product called Super Adobe and Connex box; also called Shipping container, buildings. I’m building a cooking school out of straw bales and a studio out of Connex boxes.

Let’s talk about the Connex box structure. I chose a decommissioned box (no longer being used for international shipping) that was 40 feet long and 8 feet wide and what is called “High Cube” 9.5 feet tall (standard boxes are 8 feet tall.) These boxes come with wooden floors and can handle a properly engineered roof load of around a half million pounds, which allows them to be stacked in interesting ways.

Foundation poured of concrete with rebar to hold fencing a center of wall

The box cast me $2700, delivered, which is cheaper and stronger than the pre-fabed sheds and garages offered currently. I use a cutoff wheel to cut in my windows and doors and if need be it can be moved.

I’m wrapping three sides in 2-inch foam for insulation and on the south side I’m attaching a 1-foot thick cast in place adobe wall.

Fencing in place, notice the scrap wood I use to hold the form at proper width

In the wall I’m adding a diaphragm of used chain link fencing in the center of the wall and attaching more 2-inch foam on the outside of this wall, for insulated thermal mass.

Rebar holding the foam, all of this had to be replaced, the wire is working fine

I had been tieing the fence to the box and the foam to the fencing, creating tension to hold the foam in place and giving me the ability to tie wire mesh at a later point for a stucco finish.

I was doing the tieing with cheap nylon twine, which is strong and wont rust like tie wire.

I drilled hundreds of hole to hold the twine. The new strapping is a much better choice

The other day I was getting some adobe poured in the forms and the chain link fencing came loose from the box. What I hadn’t planned for was the fact that the twine is not UV resistant and all of my twine had basically decomposed.

Plan B, I’m now using Plumber’s tape which is a cheap form of strapping.

This shot shows how strong the twine is and it will work well if you are not waiting to stucco

I can use a screw gun to pull the screws and then re-screw the plumber’s tape in place to hold the fencing at center wall and then I’m using galvanized wire to hold the foam in place and I can use it to attach the stucco wire later. I plan on making a living roof to finish the studio off. Please comment or ask any questions that you may have. This project is a learning lab and I will post my findings.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sweet and Spicy, Pepsi Cola BBQ Baby Back Rib Sauce and Jack Daniels Barbecue Sauce

Being a barbecue purest, I’m a guy that uses rubs and believes that barbecue sauce should be served on the side. However its not just about me, so if you want the stickiest, gooiest, twelve napkin usingest, ribs you’ve ever eaten try out either of these recipes. Oh and wear an old shirt they’re more than messy!

Sweet and Spicy, Pepsi Cola Baby Back Ribs

1 Cup Pepsi Cola

1 Cup Tomato sauce

1/2 Cup Dark brown sugar

1/2 Cup Dark molasses

1/2 Cup White vinegar

1 6-oz. Can Tomato paste

1/4 Cup Sweet butter

1/4 Cup Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbl Balsamic vinegar

2 Tbl Maple syrup

1 Tbl Dry mustard

1 Tbl Ancho chile powder or paprika

1/2 Tbl Kosher salt

1/2 Tbl Fresh-ground black pepper

1 tsp. Cayenne pepper

1 tsp. Marjoram

1 tsp. Granulated garlic

1 tsp. Onion powder

2 dashes Tabasco® Habanero Sauce

1. Mix all ingredients together and simmer over low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Baste over Baby back ribs while slow smoking or barbecuing

Jack Daniels Barbecue Sauce

1/2 C Jack Daniels whiskey

1/2 White onion, chopped

4 CLOVES Garlic, minced

2 C Ketchup

3/4 C Dark molasses

1/2 C Brown sugar, packed

1/3 C White vinegar

1/4 C Worcestershire sauce

1/4 C Tomato paste

1 JalepeƱo chile, minced

1/2 TBL Salt

1/2 TSP Fresh ground pepper

1/2 TSP White pepper

2 DASHES Tabasco Habanero sauce

1-2 DROPS Liquid Mesquite Smoke

1. Saute` onion, garlic and bourbon in a medium saucepan until onion and garlic are soft, translucent and just starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 20 min. stirring constantly. Strain if you want a smooth sauce. Makes 4 cups.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"The life" from my ongoing online novel "Willie"

With a quick poke, the needle pierces the big, pulsing vein on Willie’s right arm just below a three and a half inch line of tracks that follow the vein to his current injection site, revealing several years of intravenous drug use. He pushes a small amount of the dark brown liquid into his arm. It is still warm from cooking it up in the spoon, with the burned bottom, that is laying on the table next him. He pops loose the rubber surgical hose, tying his arm off, and starts to feel the warm rush. Drawing blood back into the syringe it mixes with the sweet brown nectar, a swirling cloud of narcotic heaven that Willie is now shooting three or four times a day. He slowly pushes the plunger down. As the syringe empties he feels the opiates ooze into every pore in his body; like warm honey. Fading into a tranquil dream and then nodding out, he is floating in the arms of his one true love… Heroin.

After about twenty minutes, Willie slowly opens one lazy eye; with a sleepy smile he thinks to himself, “well… time to earn.”

He unbuttons his fly and picks up a second syringe, filled with smack that is lying on the table next to the burnt spoon. Checking to make sure the plastic cap covering the needle is secure he then tapes the syringe, point down, to the inside of his thigh, just below his crotch, with a wide strip of surgical tape, and then pulls his pants back up.

Driving over to the job, Hank Williams is on the crackling old radio in his 1965, piece of shit, Plymouth Valiant.

Even though it’s the middle of the night and snowing outside, he’s warm and toasty, partially from the heater but mostly from the heroin. With a dreamy smile on his face he follows along, “Hear that lonesome whippoorwill, he sounds too blue to fly…”

His mind wonders over to thinking about her… hotter then doughnut grease, that one. It’s not his fault, if her old man doesn’t know what she really needs. Most straight johns have no idea how to treat women. He snickers to himself, ”It’s okay honey we can try again next month.” She couldn’t get enough of him, then he turned her on to the shit and that was the end of her Betty Crocker days. By now he’s singing at the top of his lungs with the old car radio, “And as I wonder where you are, I’m so lonesome I could cry!”

“Man oh man is this some great shit,” he thinks s to himself.

She told Willie about her boss, the middle-aged lawyer, with thinning hair and a huge paunch. He was always standing too close, with his perpetual bad breath and those eyes that were always peaking down her blouse. Then one afternoon, as Willie was leaving her house, before her husband got home, she mentioned the safe in his office.

“Does he keep cash in it?” Willie asked.

“Not usually, but he’s been meeting with a client that owns topless bars all over town and he always pays in cash. My boss keeps bitching about it,”

She tells Willie “I’m pretty sure he’s holding the cash in the safe, so he won’t have to claim it.”

Twenty minutes later, Willie drives into the parking space in back of the law office. He wonders around to the trunk of his car to get his tool bag. Checking his pocket to make sure he brought the key, he heads into the empty office. Once inside he waits a few minutes with his eyes closed, to adjust to the darkness. While he waits he hums the Hank William’s tune he had been singing earlier enjoying the warm narcotic haze.

Opening his eyes, there is enough light to proceed with out a flashlight. First he throws furniture and the contents of desk drawers around the room knowing full well that the safe is upstairs. If he goes directly to the safe the cops will know it was an inside job. He then goes upstairs and ransacks the other offices, saving her bosses office for last.

Once at the safe, he points a small flashlight at the dial and puts on the stethoscope. Three full turns to the left to clear the tumblers.

Hank starts singing in his head “I’ve never seen a night so low.”

Concentrate, he firmly tells himself.

“When tears get in your eyes”

The dial starts to look a little fuzzy.

Willie quickly realizes, he’s way to high to open the safe. Plan b… He’ll have to take it back home and crack it after he comes down. A quick nudge and he can tell it’s been bolted to the concrete floor… no problem.

Willie gets out his pocketknife and walks over to a beautiful dark brown leather couch in the center of the office. He cuts out a 20-inch square of the leather from the seat cushion. Looking through his tools he takes out a splitting wedge and a 12-pound sledgehammer. He wraps the wedge in the soft leather and tucks the edge under the front of the safe. He adjusts the light to shine on the wedge and stands up. Holding the sledgehammer like a golf club, he pretends to look down a fairway and quietly says, “four” to himself and takes a full swing at the splitting wedge. The leather muffles the sound, but the safe doesn’t budge. For the next 10 minutes, Willie constantly beats on the wedge, occasionally taking out his frustrations by smashing the expensive walnut furniture, lamps and assorted decorations that are scattered about the room.

The safe finally gives; a few more whacks and it breaks free. He lifts the safe, checking the weight. It’s heavy, maybe 125 pounds. Lifting it all the way up he thinks, “I’ll need a shortcut.” Willie drops the safe on a coffee table just for fun, and looks around the room. He walks on over to the huge picture window that has the words Law Office painted backwards in black and gold old English letters. Looking up and down the street, the coast is clear. Willie walks back, picks up the safe and runs at the window, raising it up as high as he can, as he gets closer. One last heft and the safe sails through the second story window. As it breaks through the glass the silence is shattered with the screaming clang of an alarm.

“Shit” he says out loud…”Time to go!”

Not wanting to waste second Willie steps out through the broken window on to the ledge. The safe is lying down on the sidewalk surrounded by the shattered glass, about 12 feet below. He leaps down, but what he doesn’t see is the ice covering the sidewalk. When he hits the ground his feet fly out from underneath him and the back his head smashes into the corner of the safe. Lying in broken glass he feels the warm blood dripping down his neck and back. The police cars sirens are now drowning out the clang of the alarm. Several squad cars screech to a stop a few feet away. The cops jump out and surround Willie, guns drawn.

He blurts out, “Man, am I glad to see you guys! I was walking down the street, minding my own business when that safe came flying out the window and hit me right here on the back of my head. I’m lucky to be alive. Just wait tell my lawyer gets a hold of these guys.”

The cops, less than convinced, spend the next five minutes cuffing and kicking the shit out of Willie, followed by a quick search. They empty his pockets and overlook the dope hidden in his pants. At the jail, Willie gives a call to his lawyer and they toss him in a cell with a few drunks and assorted Nair-do-wells. The guard leaves, Willie reaches inside his pants and pulls out the syringe.

“Anybody want to party?” he asks the other men. They all decline. Willie tears off a piece of his shirtsleeve and ties off his arm. He shoots the dope as the other men look on in horror. His eyes roll back in his head and the world is once again right. After about 10 minutes he comes to and bums a smoke off of one of the other men. Leaning back with a big smile, he takes a slow drag off the cigarette, blows a few rings and starts singing, “And as I wonder where you are, I’m so lonesome I could cry!”

By Mad Coyote Joe

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Meanwhile back at the Bread 7-19-11

As I’ve said over the years, “The trick in becoming a great cook is learning the nature of what ever you’re learning to make!”

Nothing could be more true than in the case of becoming a baker. With each batch I learn more about how bread acts and feels. My hands are learning the proper way to handle the dough. When I started baking the dough would stick to my hands; now I understand how to keep the dough moving at a rate that prevents sticking.

I can now tell if I need to rework my dough at the bench rest in order to build structure. Each loaf is now standing up and more like a slightly deflated ball; where-as they used to look like a flat ball. And the flavor is now more uniform along with the sponge. This is real bread that stands up and can make a meal by it’s self; add a little herb butter or good cheese and a bottle of wine and it’s hard to beat!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Three Kates

Seeing this picture of my beautiful wife, our lovely daughter and our recently lost Kathryn Zalem; Kathy’s mother, I can’t help but think of the poem I wrote the morning she passed. I thought I’d share it with my readers again for those that missed it

For Zalem

A Poem by Daigneault

Forged in the dark earth of Kansas by a preacher and his wife

She was an educated woman in a time when such was rare

Never much for foolishness she worked hard and watched the money

Then one day when the kids had grown he said he was leaving

For a while the tears and questions kept her down

But she did her own time and found her own way

So through thirty years of solitude, hers was a life of books and antiques

Watercolors and brushes and time with the children, but she lived alone

She watched movies every Christmas with Ila and loved “Frosties”

Reading everything, she had knowledge where others had only opinion

As her twilight approached she quietly cut the lines that moored us together

And started on her way, leaving us grateful in the bedrock of her example

Like a glacier, quietly, gracefully, moving to the sea of her memories

We watched as she finally wondered back home to a Kansas of an earlier day

In the end she was as light as air, giving all, even her body

Leaving behind only a few precious strands of her beautiful white hair

Thank you Kathryn