December 27, 2008


Two weeks ago a friend gave me an early Christmas present, a friendly honest contractor with a work ethic and time on his hands. I know. Sounds too good to be true, huh?

Well, so far, so good. He’s painting the entire interior of the house, ripping up my nasty beige acrylic wall-to-wall carpet, and installing a floor. He’s also done other helpful things like move the basement door to the other side so it opens *away* from the door-congested hallway, fixed the ventilation fan in the Cat Bathroom, and fixed my storm door so it actually latches – and when it doesn’t, the TWO plungers are strong enough to keep it from flapping open and banging into the porch light on the wall behind it. He’s also found bifold closet doors that actually match my existing doors.

Anyway, the latest Exciting Thing is that we ordered the flooring yesterday morning. I love the look of hardwood, but I don’t love the price. We tried some laminate flooring, but found out that it would require a seam every 20 ft in one direction and 40 ft in the other direction.

SO, I did what I do best, and investigated our alternatives. Bamboo. Yep, you know all those new-fangled cutting boards that are out now? Made out of laminated bamboo strips? Well they make floors out of that. The jury is out about how strong those “solid” planks are, however. Some accounts online claim that they are actually quite brittle.

I also found out about “strand woven” bamboo planks. This is a process where they compress the bamboo stalks with an adhesive and end up with a plank that’s 94-99% bamboo and the rest is phenolformaldehyde resin. Yes it outgasses a little, but it’s apparently well within the strict European compliance regulations for formaldehyde. Then they typically cover this with some kind of finish. Mine has an aluminum oxide finish.

I ordered samples of these and when they arrived “Bob” and I played with them.  (He prefers to be incognito, so I will call him “Bob.”)  I was able to make a slight dent in the “solid” plank with my thumbnail. The “strand woven” plank is unbelievably dense and seems almost impervious. This is consistent with the relative Janka ratings of the products.

“Bob” was more aggressive and tried banging the corner of each sample into the face of the other sample to see what happens when a lot of pressure is applied to a small point.

The “solid” corner itself smushed in,

and barely dented the “strand woven” plank.

The “strand woven” corner showed a little damage

and multilated the “solid” plank.
solid_face solid_dents

The supplier recommends either a glue-down or a nail-down application.  “Bob” convinced me that it would be even better to drill out and countersink screws so the planks can be attached through the luan and particle board directly to the joists. The supplier couldn’t say whether this was a good idea because they have never tested it, but admitted that as long as the screw hole in the plank is drilled out and not self-tapped, it should be fine. So “Bob” tried drilling the “strand woven” plank. Even with an old, dull bit it drilled out beautifully.

So we’re good to go, have ordered the 6ft planks, and they’re scheduled to arrive on Wednesday. We won’t actually get to start using them until the weekend because they have to sit in the rooms where they’re going to acclimate. He says he can’t wait to work with them. I can’t wait to see how it’ll look.

Update:  I brought the strand woven sample to show my friend Linda who has Newfies because she’s thinking of getting a bamboo floor to replace her nasty carpet.  We gave the sample to Pop to chew on for a while.  We also let him step on it.  This is the extent of the damage:


Basically, he managed to get through the aluminum oxide finish, but not into the plank itself.

December 7, 2008

Gratuitous Cat Videos

Filed under: cats,photography,technology — origamifreak @ 12:18 pm
Tags: , , ,

I was talking to Lisa on the phone this morning and the subject turned to our cats – because one of hers was apparently attacking a carrot. I suggested taking a video and uploading it so I could see. It occurred to us that we hadn’t seen each other’s cats actually *move* in years (in person) and in some cases (Sunny), ever.

Thus ensued more than an hour of fiddling on both sides of the Atlantic while she and Steve tried to get it work on their end and I tried the same thing on mine. The problem was compounded by ancient hardware on my end, running Dapper Drake, and the fact that Firefox tends to suck up all of my memory, so I usually use Kazehakase.

Anyway, at the end I finally managed to get a short video up onto Google Video of each cat:

Here we see Sunny trying to get into the box where he knows there is a chirpy bird and other toys. He’d gotten the hang of fishing toys out from the top, so I flipped it upside down to provide more of a challenge. He knows how to tip it onto the side, but chooses not to, for some reason.

Here we see Grouchy Old Man Cat Miaumoto looking for a quiet, warm place to nap. He is an excellent napping companion.

Here is one of Sunny I took when I thought I wasn’t going to catch him poking the box:

Here are the videos she put up on You Tube:

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