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.


September 11, 2008

Dog “rescues”

Filed under: dogs — origamifreak @ 9:16 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

I really like Newfoundland dogs. They’re generally calm, friendly, affectionate, and they like swimming. I first met one about 15 years ago and have harbored a particular fondness for them ever since.

One time in CT I even picked one up that was wandering around in the dark in the middle of the road. A large, slow-moving black dog in the road on a pitch black night in an area with no street lights and sharp curves is a hazard to both himself and to cars, so I stopped on the shoulder to look for his ID, and there wasn’t any.

He waited patiently while I thought about what to do, and when I asked if he wanted a lift while I figured out where he lived, he got right in the back seat and sat quietly in the middle. It was funny, because he was so tall, it looked in the rear view mirror like there was a human sitting back there. I took him to Lisa’s nearby house where her Yorkie tried (unsuccessfully) to intimidate and chase him out of my car. (Charlie considered my car to be HIS territory.) Lisa put Charlie back inside and we drove around the neighborhood looking for a house with lights on, and finally found a guy who knew the owner and took him in for the night and arranged to get him back home (3-4 miles away).

Apparently this dog had a habit of getting out of his yard (the latch wasn’t secure), and wandering over to the corner store where he’d hang around waiting for kids to drop food, etc. I spoke with the owner on the phone a couple of days later to make sure he got home and was surprised by his nonchalance about the whole thing. He was a very nice dog and really shouldn’t been loose like that. I wonder sometimes why people don’t care more about their animals.

Anyway, this past weekend I had fun participating in the water tests that the local club hosts every year in the state park next door. The tests were for the purposes of getting titles as working dogs. There are two working areas in which Newfies earn titles: draft and water rescue.

If a dog acquires all of the following titles, he or she earns the über-title “Versatile Newfoundland” (VN):

  • AKC Championship in Conformation
  • AKC Companion Dog title in Obedience
  • NCA Draft Dog
  • NCA Water Rescue Dog (WRD)

Over the past 22 years there have been only 331 Versatile Newfoundlands ever designated. Last weekend we saw two get it by earning the WRD title. Here are the official results:

Saturday – Sept 6th:

  • WD Jolly Roger’s Darktown Strutter handled by Roger Frey
  • WRD Paradiso Stella Polare at Jolly Roger handled by Roger Frey
  • WRD Top Shelf’s Fire Island Annie CD, WD,DD,CGC,TDI handled by Rosemary Miller to a new VERSATILE NEWFOUNDLAND TITLE
  • WD ReQualifier VN Am/Can.CH. Jolly Roger’s Cherry Danish CD,WRD,DD,CGC,TDI handled by Eileen Bergal
  • WD ReQualifier VN Jolly Roger’s Danish Maid CD,WRD,DD,CGC,TDI handled by Eileen Bergal

Sunday – Sept. 7th:

  • WRD Am/Can. CH Pouch Cove’s All You Can Be CD,WD,DD handled by Nancy McKee to a new VERSATILE NEWFOUNDLAND TITLE
  • WD ReQualifier VN Jolly Roger’s Danish Maid CD,WRD,DD,CGC,TDI handled by Eileen Bergal
  • WRD ReQualifier Upwood’s Odin WRD, RN handled by Jackie Upwood
  • WRD ReQualifier Spirit Feather CD, RAE, TD,TDD, WRDX,CGC handled by Joyce Arivella

I helped in the “take a ring” exercise by being one of the silent swimmers (only one of three people calls for help). I also took a bunch of photos, and even rented a nice telephoto lens for the purpose.

The weather on Saturday was pretty bad, but Sunday was fantastic and I captured a few nice shots.

Odin “rescuing” Jackie on Saturday. He is one of the less well-known colors, gray. There are 4 standard colors – black, Landseer (black and white), brown, and gray.

Spirit going in after her bumper. She has the Landseer coloring.

Roger and one of his dogs, after the hurricane hit. Notice the streaks on the water from the wind.

Sunday the weather was much nicer. Here is JR going in after Nancy. He earned his VN at the end of this test. A point of trivia – JR is a son of the Newf that won Best in Show at Westminster a few years ago. (That’s where the “Pouch Cove‘s” part of his name comes from. Here’s a picture of JR when he was a puppy. Pouch Cove is a very popular sire; as of last year there were 24 offspring who had earned the VN title.)

Here is Odin going after Jackie, again. He’s one of the prettiest jumpers I’ve seen. I love the way he really stretches out.

Here are the judges and titleists:

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