"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov

Ya ever seen my house?

Ya ever seen my house?
Neither have I Ted! You douchebag.
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Monday, August 31, 2015

A tale of two 2X6's or - We don't grow 'em like we used to


 In 1987 I bought a house, a dirt-cheap shitbox, 31739 C. G. Lorane Rd. (Folks with a better computer than mine - ie everybody - can probably look at a picture).
Anyway, bought the joint on a land-sales contract for $25,000. I said shitbox.
During the seventeen years that I owned the property, I did much remodeling and ultimately sold it for $125,500 (!!!) in 2004.
These two chunks of wood represent two different generations of Oregon framing lumber as well as two distinct periods of my remodeling.
The top one was original to the house which was built in 1947 or so. The smaller piece dates from some work I'd done circa 1989-ish.
Same species. Douglas Fir, God's most perfect structural lumber. Hell, they may have come from the same hillside although forty years apart.
Let's have a look at the older of the two:
At about the mid-point of this cross-section, the growth rigs represent roughly fifty years of growth - all compressed into an inch-and-a-half.
Contrast that with the newer one which made the same amount of fragile, weak timber all in the space of six years.
Which is the stronger chunk?
Paradoxically, if we were talking about oak, the fast grown one would be the stronger. Doug fir isn't a ring-porous species so it's different and we're not talking about oak anyway.

This is the tree that the entire Pacific Northwest was covered with until we avaricious, industrial humans ("Human" being used loosely) decided that they all needed to be mowed down 'cause Progress.
It wasn't about "the poor little spotted owl" or any such bullshit. It was greed,plain and simple.

The stronger of those two chunks of wood represents, in the eyes of the timber industry, an "over-ripe tree". Read: We could have made money off this two-hundred years ago. WTF?
Thing is: In the '80's these swine were busy cutting down the big trees and sending lots of them to Japan for the construction of tea houses many of them as raw logs ("Colonies are the only ones that export raw materials").
Full marks to the Japanese for recognizing superior timber. You can still get it. It's just called VG fir (Vertical Grain) and has nothing like the densely packed growth rings that this 1947, lumberyard 2x6 had.
In our hall of shame we have to mention Murphy Logging. They were busted in the '80's for selling raw logs overseas beyond their quota.
Fucked up but my favorite thing about them is the bumper sticker I saw on a Murphy crummy a few years back:
"Clear-cut it and burn the damned thing!"
With the Murphy Co. trademark shamrock.
Classy - like Donald Trump.
No need to freak out though. They grow back. It just takes four-hundred years or so.
Americans are nothing if not patient and we can wait.

No - we can't but we weren't always this stupid and short-sighted.
Take those stodgy Brits.
Oxford's New College (Founded 1379) has a dining hall with a roof supported by oak beams two feet square and forty feet long.
In the 1860's it was discovered that the beams were riddled with the burrows of powder-post beetle larva. Not surprising but what could they do?
Turned out that Oxford University had, on property it owned, oak trees of sufficient size to replace the spongy oak beams. They weren't even planted on purpose for the project. They just happened to be there.
I'm ready to rant so I should rein it in now.


To the left, please find: A time line covering the fifty-some years it took for our Truman era board to grow that inch-and-a-half of thickness.
Of course the dates are bogus.
The arc of the rings says that this stick wasn't anywhere near the inner - or outer portion of the log. As opposed to the modern version where the pith of the log is included (which makes it unstable and prone to split but... PROFITS!)
So, in all likelihood my chronology could easily be two-hundred years off but it still represents half a century of growth and a chunk of time that we can't wait because... big house! Toilet paper!
We need this stuff and it's just growing out of the ground.
Be a shame to waste it.

2 comments:

Jimh. said...

you're always entertaining, and often educating!

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