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October 22, 2006

Comments

Here's some advice from someone who's done more remodels than I care to remember:

You didn't mention how big an area you have to cover, if we're talking about multiple square feet the best advice I can give is don't try to do the whole thing in one go. For a beginner, multiple thinner layers are easier to apply and will sag less. There is a fiberglass mesh cloth that you can use to help reduce future cracking. Don't worry about the difference between spackle and plaster. Yes, they have slightly different properties and spackle is generally used for repairs, but unless you are talking about a 2x3 foot section, either should work fine.

The key thing that jumped out at me is when you talked about crumbly stuff. This is usually caused by water damage, and you absolutely need to know where the water is coming from before you patch anything. I've seen damage like that around bathroom windows due to condensation, but my guess is that you have a leak. You generally need to fix them on the outside, remove the molding from around the window then caulk the gaps to prevent seepage. You will also need to remove the molding on the inside of the windows and caulk around it. There may be another source of the water, you will need to look for it once the molding is off, but if no other source is apparent this is a good way to start.

Every house has a gap between wall and floor to allow for expansion, baseboard works quite well at covering it. If there's been any settling or warping (and there always is in an old house) then the only solution is to remove and renail the baseboard to cover the crack.

Hope this helps.

BTW, and completely OT, the regulars at the old tacitus.org site have constructed a new blog at www.theforvm.org. Come on by and check the place out!

hil: For the exterior, Home Depot sells a product called stucco patch (make sure it's exterior grade) which should solve your patching problems. Stucco is part sand, part cement and part plaster. It dries rock-hard and is manufactured to solve just what your problem is sounding like.

As to it adhering to large expanses of exposed brick: use a product called wire lath. It's a heavy-duty screen-like sheet of metal lath (also sometimes called "diamond lath" because of the shape of the openings) - think chicken-wire on steroids - which should be tacked into place with short concrete nails or roofing nails and then slather the stucco on top. The product you use is important and so are the trowels. In fact, using good quality trowels (NOT PLASTIC!) is a must. So, unless you're just patching little nail holes or tiny spaces, don't economize on the trowels.

Apply the stucco (interior plaster, too) in broad sweeping motions and keep a big well-dampened industrial-grade sponge handy to smooth the surface of your work. Experienced masons and platerers can apply a smoothly-finished stucco (or plaster) surface with a few "professional" swipes of a trowel. I can't and I think you'll find the process equally challenging.

For interior, the reason you were told few people use plaster anymore is because a product called "Joint Compound" is much easier to work with, much cheaper, it dries quicker and is much more forgiving in the application than plaster. Joint Compound is used to texture sheet-rocked walls prior to painting but it can also be used to patch interior plater walls. That said, I still use patching plaster. It's a messy, huge pain in the ass to work with but I'm sort of a purist when it comes to my own home repairs and the entire place was finished off inside with Imperial Plaster to begin with and I'm thinking woe-betide any shepherd of the property who doesn't use plaster to patch plaster walls. But don't be anal like me. Use Joint Compound. It comes in a small green and white bucket (I'm thinking maybe 10 or 15 pounds??) or in a 50-pound box.

If you insist on using plaster, make sure you mix it wet enough. It dries fast even under ideal circumstances and then it's a real nuisance to work with if it's been misapplied.

Good luck. I hate plastering.

As to the baseboard issues, I'd have to hear more about the situation. Send me an email with more details about what's going on and I'll see if I know any more than you do about how to proceed.

From what you are describing, you have a portland cement finish, better known as stucco. It sounds like you have a "gray", or scratch coat, with a finish coat. Plaster won't adhere to this very well without a bonding agent.

You want a material like this, or this.

"This Old House" videos. . . ? I took out a whole exterior plaster wall floor to 10 foot ceiling and lathing and all, and replaced it with 10' X 5/8" drywall (very heavy, should have used "blue" drywall for moisture resistance). The dust was very nasty, and I wouldn't be surprised if it wouldn't have been a candidate for hazardous material abatement proceedings. Alot of times you can drill a small hole through the bulgy plaster and inject a bonding substance behind to give it integrity. Also, you can put drywall screws directly through the bulged int wood behind to pull it back in tight. I tried doing the plaster of paris, but it must really be an art. It starts going hard on you right away, so you have to do small areas. Smoothing it out is impossible for amateurs, and sanding the roughs out is fuhgeddabodit. The pros get it on smooth from the get go. Your wood damage could be from roof gutter ice dams melting water up under the shingles down the inside of the brick exterior walls. It could be old damage if you had the house inspected and passed when you bought it. You should have got this all sorted out before you painted. I'd be concerned that I've opened a Pandora's Box, and might want to get an outside opinion before getting too involved. Good Luck, Winter's on it's way. This is a Spring time deal!

Lucky me, I haven't painted yet; I'm still in the destruction stage, with what was once a rather nicely painted wall now abut half paint, half stuff from beneath. -- How does one find a leak? (I have this awful feeling that I'm going to end up hiring someone.)

"no one uses plaster anymore." -- Except those of us who live in houses with plaster walls!, I nearly said, but thought better of it.

Sad truth is, even folks in houses with plaster walls generally have them replaced with dry wall whenever there is repair or remodeling to be done.

I mean, there are still people who do authentic old-timey plastering, but it is an artisanal craft. Home Depot is not going to cater to those people any more than they are going to carry different grades of thatch for thatched roofs.

So if you're cheap (e.g. me) you just resign yourself to putting up drywall where plaster used to be. If you're a purist...well, if you're a *rich* purist, then you hire a purist.

But I'm actually pretty impressed with the advice from hankP and xanax--maybe you can pull it off yourself after all, what with the reservoir of knowledge you've tapped into.

kid b: xanax is the single handiest person I have ever known; and given that the person who comes in second used to be a navy airplane mechanic before getting a PhD in engineering, that's a real compliment.

wow, and he does it all single-handed, too!

How does one find a leak

The way I do it is get up on the roof and "become the water" Ohmm

jimbo: that's what I was afraid of. -- I mean, it's not impossible -- there's a bay for the bottom two floors, I can get onto its roof through a window, and from there even my little step ladder can get me to the roof -- but ugh.

I don't suppose it would be Ok to assume that when the previous owner had the roof fixed, right before she sold me the house, she fixed the leak? (I mean, that it was in the roof?)

New data point: the window in question is on the second floor, of three. I checked the walls in the room above it, and no sign of any problems with the plaster there. Which could mean that the previous owner recently fixed it, which I have no reason to think is true, or else that the leak is not in the recently fixed roof, but in the window. Or else that all the little drops of water said: let's not do anything bad to the room on the third floor, just to mess with hilzoy's mind.

I guess it's not too hard too tell if things are in disrepair from the ground. Take some good binoculars and look at the general appearances. If it looks good it probably is good. We would lose alot if you went off the roof. Besdes, if you had the house inspected for the loan or whatever, they must be able to let you know if they would have taken an inventory of the roof etc. That shoud give you some idea. Also, I'm not sure how likely it is, but after a century of habitation, guite a lot of moisture has permeated those old plaster walls through normal "respiration" so maybe all the rot is from these processes, and not an active leak.

Jimbo: yes, they absolutely inspected the roof (that's how I know about getting up there; I watched the inspector do it. I am one of those people who follows the home inspector around, no doubt being very annoying, asking questions.) The house is from around 1850, so there's lots of room for stuff to have happened. Heh heh.

The wood is, however, notably rotted on one corner of the window ("the wood" here being not the wood of the window, but this roughly 1x 1/2" thingo in front of the piece of wood the window seems to rest on), but is fine on the other, which I guess would be easier to reconcile with a determinate leak than with general respiration.

Hmm.

Rotted wood around a window frame could be either something minor (one piece wasn't properly prepared) or something major (the whole window is rotted). Especially if it's on an upper floor, you might want to get an expert to look at it.

My folks, my two younger brothers and I spent 25 years fighting with an 1830-1860 Colonial (yeah, it was built in pieces). You'd be surprised at some of the things we found: almost-petrified walnut beams 48 feet long, with 3 inches of rot in the middle, and so on. Houses can be a real be-yotch... that's why Bob Vila is so rich.

I have my own little unplanned home improvement job today. If someone is not careful when using the sink in the washroom, they can inadvertantly cause the discharge hose from the washing machine to pour water on the floor, and not into the sink. Someone (not me) made this mistake, and so I got a call this morning -- I'd gone to the office to take care of a backlog of timesheets -- saying the basement was flooded.

That's a mostly carpeted basement. After several hours of running around, and mopping the lino floor in the washroom, we now have a couple of pros with proper equipment dealing with the carpet. We'll see if they can really save it. The good news, I guess, is that it's soapy water, unlike the dirty stuff that overflows from the sump pump when the have floods with power outages.

he said, "no one uses plaster anymore." -- Except those of us who live in houses with plaster walls!, I nearly said, but thought better of it.

That strikes me as an unnecessary degree of forbearance; it's an entirely appropriate response. And I think you could do with the help of a professional.

Granted, the household I grew up in was the embodiment of the joke about "How many Episcopalians does it take to change a lightbulb?" [A: Two. One to fix the drinks and one to call the electrician.]

But it was also a household in an old house with plaster walls, and our experience was that it is important to be able to interpret correctly what you see when the first layer of plaster is chipped away, especially if you're keen to minimize the number of future occasions for replastering.

The diamond lath mesh that xanax mentioned is what the one remaining local plasterer uses. There are enough old brick and plater houses here to keep him in business, and that's a good thing, because getting that smooooooth finish is a skill that takes a lot of practice to achieve.

hilzoy, sounds as if you have some good help already. I'd only add this: make sure the exterior caulking around your window (if any; I'd expect there to be some around the brick moulding is in good shape. If not, chip all the old dried stuff out and recaulk.

Your dead wood might have died a year ago or 20 years ago; hard to tell.

Your baseboard might just have popped a nail; hard to tell from your description. If it's the plaster that's gappy, you're going to want to find out what happened.

And if that's what happened, you're probably not going to want to find out, but it's best to anyway.

Also, I've worked with both stucco patch and drywall compound; they're completely dissimilar. For one, stucco patch has some grade of sand in it, while drywall compound is milled very fine. Never have worked with plaster, though, so it sounds as if xanax is your go-to entity.

Best of luck. This sounds like the sort of project that could be either over in a few hours, or still in the works a month from now.

Finding leaks in very old houses. Wait till it rains heavily and then go around looking for puddles, drips, and damp spots. Once the puddle is found, it's origin must be traced upwards to the missing roof flashing, the hole in the roof, or the toublesome window. I own a elaborate Victorian >100 years old and have called a roofer at least five times since I got a new roof 20 years ago.
In New England one or two days of drips are harmless, weeks or months will cause expensive structural damage.

Slarti: if only xanax didn't live thousands of miles away, I would have literally gone to him. He is, after all, the guy who installs shower tiles without spacers, by sight, perfectly. Also, possibly the only person who could have convinced me that I could, in fact, knock down and replace the walls around the shower, which was what preceded the laying of tiles. I still remember the sheer destructive glee of seeing one and a half walls turned to rubble in the bathtub: it was a feeling I hadn't had since I was about seven, which was about when I stopped destroying things.

If you're more comfortable with Bondo, hilzoy, you could give that a try. But I'd check with xanax before doing so.

Slarti: assume that I won't get to that for a while; should I plaster over the rotten area, after replacing the wood, or do I leave my poor room in its current lousy shape until I manage to get (the money for) someone to do the caulking?

I used to have a great ladder -- one of the many expensive things left behind by a hugely depressed painter I once hired, who kept vanishing in the middle of the job, and eventually vanished after completing it, leaving half his gear behind. (He had been thrown out of his house between when I hired him and when this happened, so no way to get in touch.) When I moved, I left it behind since I had no place to store it. It was one of those enormous extending things, and would have been ideal for this. Alas.

What's bondo?

Bondo is what is sometimes used to patch car fenders. It's a catalyzed resin product, I think.

Bondo!

If you do decide to go with a pro, I can recommend a good Baltimore-area guy who works quite cheap.

These home repair threads always fill me with envy, believe it or not. Having grown up with a dad with a workshop and all manner of uncompleted projects, here in Japan, there's no space for a workshop and all the tools accumulated therein, and the idea of a DIY, while possible, requires a degree of military efficiency that I do not possess.

Don't kid yourself; I am on the other end of the spectrum from "military efficiency", yet somehow I manage.

lj: what Slarti said. I don't think my name and the words 'military efficiency' have ever appeared in the same sentence before.

All that's required is a willingness to learn. It's kind of like automobile mechanics in that way, although I have to say that I was much, much more skilled (which translates in this context as "practised") at, for instance, rebuilding a manual gearbox than I ever was at drywall work.

Of course, all of that is in my youth. Back then I could jack the car up on jackstands, loosen some bolts, and then lift the gearbox out and lower it to the ground by hand. I was much stronger, and much less careful, then.

Still, another good analogy: it helps to have the right tool. Never paint with crappy brushes, and sometimes it does, in fact, pay to buy the occasional Snap-On tool. Or swipe it from your dad's toolbox, better yet.

Sorry about being unclear (as per my usual). The problem is when you are pressed for space (and time), you have to be more organized. This is not to say that y'all are unorganized, and I am sure that you are more organized than me.

It reminds me of when I visited my best friend from high school. He and I were always working on all manner of projects, with our masterpiece being some basically handmade copies of klipsch speakers, though it was probably 90/10 in terms of the split in ability. He went on to be an architect and when I finally got to visit him after he married and had a family, he took me out to his workshop, and everything was power tools. I remember being taken aback, because while we weren't the sorts who did everything with handtools, we worked on the assumption that you just did the big stuff with powertools and the rest was by hand. I didn't say anything, but he caught my reaction and said 'you know, when you got kids, you only have a little bit of time to get stuff done, so you save every second you can'.

This is not to disagree with anything said, (especially Slarti's point about youth). But the biggest thing always seems to be time. In fact, my own personal view of why children acquire a first language (or two or three) effortlessly and an adult has a huge problem with acquiring a second is that kids have all the time in the world to sit around and figure things out.

this just in: our president is a pathetic, lying, turd.

Your leak is 99% probably through the dry rot of your window frame. This is only really fixable by taking out the rotten wood and replacing it and then calking with a durable exterior caulking compound. The only other possibility is that the masonry of the walls is completely compromised, the mortar eaten away by time and the elements - not as likely.
However, that you can observe a void near the baseboard indicates that the baseboard isn't right up against the masonry of the wall, i.e. maybe the wall was firred out with wood before it was plastered. The only way to ascertain the real situation is to remove the rotted plaster in that area. The final repair depends on what you find in each of these inter-related areas- the possible leak, the condition of the structural wall and the backing behind the finish plaster. A big problem with using drywall mud - joint compound- is that it is particularly hospitable to mold, so unless the leak is really fixed, you will quickly have signs that Mother Nature is trying to reclaim your handiwork. As a professional remodeler (actually an electrician) I say this is a time when you go with a professional, who has a real paper trail, i.e. not just a handy man. In the long run you will be better off.

If I'm reading the original post correctly, you are talking about repair to interior plaster, no? What you describe sounds like a the classic three part plaster system, with a scratch coat, brown coat and finish coat (the .25" layer you mention). Was the plaster applied directly to brick, or was there a lath over?

The correct options are to replaster or install drywall. If you replaster, and there is no lathe, use the diamond metal lath. Structolite is the product you want, excellent for patching largish holes in an existing plaster wall. You can add a coffee can full of Portland cement to per bag to strengthen the patch - but no more than that or your plaster will be too stiff.

Bondo, plaster of paris, etc. are not the right products at all. Both of the above have about a five minute pot life.

As for the leak, it could be a very old leak and no problem, or it could be an ongoing one. Best route would be to leave the wall open until the next rain. Also, has the damage to the plaster gotten worse over time, or has it always been about the same.

You could always spray the window with a hose for a medium length of time. (Seriously, when I worked in construction defect--ick--some of the window experts would do that). It isn't 100% dispositive, in that sometimes you have a window leak that won't show up that way. But if you get dampness in the area in question, you know it is in fact the window and you can often trace the leak exactly.

Can we post a YouTube of Hilzoy watering her windows? :)

what does one do about a largish gap between the baseboard and the plaster that seems to open into a nameless void?

Assuming your plaster walls are going to be painted and depending on the size of the gap (i.e., its not too ridiculous like more than a quarter inch), buy paintable caulk and a caulking gun and fill the gap with the paintable caulk. In fact, you can run a bead along the entire junction of baseboard and plaster to eliminate appearance of separation of baseboard and wall. Smooth the surface of the caulk to a smooth texture (even your finger works great). When you paint the walls down to the baseboard, paint the caulk to the top of the baseboard. It will create a nice clean line where wall meets baseboard and hide any gaps.

this just in: our president is a pathetic, lying, turd.

I'm glad we got that cleared up.

About your windowsill problem. Just yesterday there was this article from Boston Globe's Home Hanyman column

http://www.boston.com/yourlife/home/articles/2006/10/22/epoxy_can_extend_life_of_windowsill/

Link to above-mentioned Boston Globe column.

Speaking of youth, I don't recall that several minutes' worth of slalom skiing ever had quite this effect on me, three decades ago. The effect is...disarming.

Fortunately the catastrophic wipeout at the end didn't seem to have any lasting ill effects. I think I skipped three or four times before the last big splash.

Skip...nice nickname. Speaking of which, check out this political ad, and see if the phrase "Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time" springs to mind.

In the post above, Slarti said:

"Skip...nice nickname. Speaking of which, check out this political ad, and see if the phrase "Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time" springs to mind."

Am I the only retard completely befuddled by this?

xanax:

no.

ps: how do you know hilzoy?

Slart is referring to the cult classic movie "A Christmas Story," in which a man looks back on his youth, when he desperately wanted one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder BB rifle with a compass in the stock.

Slarti is referring to A Christmas Story, which is one of the best movies ever, (and the book by Jean Shepard is pretty good as well) Unfortunately, I can't get the video to load to see how that is related, most probably due to effects of the Slarti-launch. Another server pays tribute to the wrath of ObWi!

It's what Ralphie wanted for Christmas.

Good luck on this project, Hilzoy.

I've attempted renovation but I'm pretty hapless all the way around.

Wear a mask (it's almost Halloween) if you end up removing crumbly plaster and especially if you end up removing lathe.

Before tackling the odd space between the wall and the baseboard, I would lean down and shout into the hole. If the echo takes a long time to bounce back, I suggest moving a heavy dresser in front of the hole and backing out of the room carefully but with dispatch.

Caulk the door shut after you leave, unless ...

... you plan to let houseguests use the room; but keep the heat low so they see their breath and lead them to the room with a guttering candle and a look of slightly cracked exhilaration. Whether or not to cackle as you leave the room is a personal decision.

If you open the wall up to any extent, watch out for sparky stuff. That would be electricity. Bad news if you're standing in a damp spot near the window.

Also, if, late at night, you hear water lapping like a cat licking its fur, I suspect the Chesapeake Bay might be somewhere inside your walls.

Notify the Coast Guard and keep a dinghy handy. In fact, it might be wise to keep a handy dinghy, too.

Watch out for subsidence. At all times, even at the mall.

Re: "ps: how do you know hilzoy?"

Francis: Many years ago, I was camping in the forested wilderness of southern Kazakhstan. At the time, "Hilzoy" (not her real name!) was a volunteer member of an elite Amero-Euro-Asian hot-shot fire jumping crew that patrolled the region by aeroplane putting out forest fires and saving lost souls. Anyway, I was caught up in a blazing inferno, a huge tree had fallen and crushed my left leg, and I was inches from death, when, like an angel of mercy, "hilzoy" (not her real name!) came parachuting out of the heavens, dragged my silly ass to safety, set my crushed leg bone and waited with me until more help arrived.

We've been friends ever since.

Isn't that the way you remember it, hil?

Sigh:

Speaking publicly for the first time, senior U.S. law enforcement investigators say they waged a long but futile battle inside the Pentagon to stop coercive and degrading treatment of detainees by intelligence interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Their account indicates that the struggle over U.S. interrogation techniques began much earlier than previously known,
...
The law enforcement agents, who were building criminal cases against the detainees, also say that military prosecutors told them that abusive interrogations at Guantanamo compromised the chance to bring some suspected terrorists to trial. Among them, the agents say, is Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi whom the Pentagon has described as the intended 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
...
By the fall of 2002, believing that some detainees had al-Qaida training in resisting interrogation, the intelligence team sought greater leeway from Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. He approved new rules allowing stress positions for up to four hours, deprivation of light and sound, interrogation for up to 20 hours straight, removal of all comfort items (including the Koran and toilet paper), removal of clothing, forced shaving of facial hair, and use of military dogs to scare detainees.
...
The agents said they were shut out of briefings when senior lawyers from the Bush administration toured Guantanamo on Sept. 25, 2002, while the plan for the aggressive interrogation of al-Qahtani was being formed. The VIP visitors included White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, now the attorney general; David S. Addington, legal counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney, now his chief of staff; and Justice Department attorney John Yoo, who helped write memos narrowly defining torture.
...
They didn’t have names for many of the detainees. It often wasn’t clear what country they were from. A detainee might claim he was a Saudi, then visiting law enforcement agents would recognize him as a Yemeni. Most weren’t picked up by U.S. forces, but were handed over by bounty hunters in the early days of the war in Afghanistan.
...
"the people in Guantanamo Bay, these are people that were picked up on the battlefield for killing innocent men, women and children in Afghanistan." [Rumsfeld said]

Hill, city, shining.

I'm guessing that xanax was expertly plastered when he met hilzoy.

Once upon a time, I was a barmaid. This was right after the biker bar, where I was a mere waitress, owing to my more or less complete ignorance of how to mix drinks. That wasn't a problem in my new bar, though: the owner was aiming for a market of grad students and would-be intellectuals, and my real job was to look not too terribly alarming, and make intelligent conversation -- apparently, leaving a (then) Harvard Ph.D. philosophy candidate out like a goat tethered to the rock for vultures to peck at was his idea of a business plan. Whatever.

I did OK with the mixed drinks, though: since business was slow (see business plan, above), I just asked each and every customer how s/he liked it made, and the followed those directions exactly. In this way, it was possible to mix a Long Island Iced Tea without letting on that until that moment, I had thought it contained iced tea.

This lasted for about five months, until the owner went well and truly mad, and started screaming about "your goddamned applesauce!" (really), when I had no applesauce, and there had never ben any applesauce around in the bar, and as far as I knew applesauce had never played any role at all, however tangential or minimal, in our dealing with one another, which came to an end that night, when I quit.

Xanax was in the band that played the bar, and though he might be surprised to think of himself in this light, he was a welcome voice of sanity as the bar owner spiralled down into madness.

“These aren't common criminals, or bystanders accidentally swept up on the battlefield. We have in place a rigorous process to ensure those held at Guantanamo Bay belong at Guantanamo.”

pathetic, lying, turd: indeed.

Hey, it appears I was much closer to the mark than I had any right to be.

Sinclair Lewis' 1935 novel of fascism hitting the US in 1936, It Can't Happen Here, is still in copyright in the US and Europe, but not in Australia. The University of Pennsylvania's e-book collection includes a helpful page listing such works, and provides links to all this stuff, presumably so that you can recognize them and not click on them accidentally.

It's fascinating, and in a peculiar way reassuring, to see how much of the current administration is captured in Lewis' book. Reassuring for the reminder that much that seems unique and new isn't.

"Hey, it appears I was much closer to the mark than I had any right to be."

All except for the word "expertly", it seems.

Sorry Hilzoy but I prefer to believe that Xanax's memories are the more accurate version of your meeting; I mean they seem more reality based. You almost had me until the applesauce. Sheesh!

I can't believe the thread went almost a full day before someone made a "plastered" joke. I was going to work in a mention of Rep. John "Blutarsky" Sweeney (R-NY).

More:

What happens when sleep is deprived for longer stretches? Researchers have never subjected humans to more than a few days of sleeplessness. But when the University of Chicago deprived rats of sleep in a seminal study in the 1990s, the rodents survived three weeks without a wink, then died.

In CIA prisons, the record for sleep deprivation is shorter—but apparently not by much. Human Rights Watch, which interviewed the lawyers of 20 detainees held in a secret prison in Afghanistan as late as 2004, says some of them were sleep-deprived for up to two weeks, though sometimes allowed short naps. The facility, known among detainees as "the dark prison," was among the harshest run by the United States since the start of the war on terror.

I'm sure short naps were more than they ever had in Afghanistan.

I have all sorts of useful materials (including some sprayable insulating foam that I got yesterday -- I've never used anything like that, but it looked kind of fun and potentially relevant.)
This stuff?. It's good times, but only for gaps up to maybe an inch. Good around window/door frames, holes cut for ducts, etc. I wouldn't use it to try to reconstruct a crumbling frame.

On the topic of home improvement in general, my opinion is that if you are willing to put the time in and aren't afraid to break things, the money you save doing it yourself means you can redo a particular job 3 times and still come out ahead versus hiring someone. I have a ton of respect for contractors and specialists of all stripes, but if I'm going to be charged $500 just so you can come look at the problem, I'd rather screw it up twice myself and save $100.

oh come on... so they don't get to sleep in. are we supposed to issue them Sleep Number™ beds and little satin sleep masks ?

these are bad people ! oogabooga!

Uh, whah?

Forty years from now I will be as unapologetic in my support of the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq as I am today.

cleek: the sleep masks with matching handcuffs ...

(See? Some people use handcuffs voluntarily! Maybe, who knows, they even end up being handcuffed for more than forty hours straight, with their hands behind their backs, so that if they fall asleep they'll dislocate their shoulders! That proves that forcing people to do this is OK, just like the existence of consensual sex proves that rape is fine!)

I should note that my "whah" is aimed at Moe's inclusion of Iraq in that statement.

the sleep masks with matching handcuffs

a-ha! it's all coming together now. i bet this is all some kind of kinky liberal Mapplethorpian bondage retreat for perverted Islamofascimasochists !

they're even selling souvenier T-shirts from Camp X-Ray - under the "Helmut Newton" name, no less.

You know, I hate to even bring this up, even in the context of a worst-case scenario, but the sick, chest-thumping triumphalism that will occur should the Democrats not achieve significant gains on election day will make the angry, aggressive sore-winner-ism that went on in 2004 look like Sesame Street. Seriously, it makes me despair to think about it.

Good point, Phil.

It could be Muppet GITMO this time around.

As an open thread, and clicking on Bruce Baughs Upenn.edu link (which is a good site incidentally, I get a lot of scholarly work from their list) I notice the Gutenberg Australia books, especially the Marcel Proust and Stendahl, and notice that the C.K. Moncrief translations, the only Proust I have read, of ten books were done in about five years. And then he died. If it was a he. I felt sad.

C.K. Moncrief, 1889-1930

It's time to blare the music
It's time to light the lights
It's time to go to Gitmo on the Torture Show tonight.

It's time to put on makeup
It's time to dress 'em up right
It's time to raise the curtain on the Torture Show tonight.

Why do we always come here
I guess we'll never know
It's like a kind of torture
To have to watch the show

And now let's get things started
Why don't you get things started
It's time to get things started
On the most sensational inspirational celebrational Torturetational
This is what we call the Torture Show!

(George W. Bush blows trumpet)

I guess it was C.K. Scott-Moncrief. And the dude is invisible on the web, with only a translation of Letter 1 Heloise-Abelard and a collectable book of his own juvenile poetry at auction.

LA Times...

Every day the corpses pile up in the capital like discarded furniture — at curbside, in lots, in waterways and sewer lines; every day the executioners return. A city in which it was long taboo to ask, "Are you Sunni or Shiite?" has abruptly become defined by these very characteristics.
...
But homes offer only an illusion of safety. Recently, insurgents rented apartments in mostly Shiite east Baghdad, filled the flats with explosives and blew them up after Friday prayers. Dozens perished.

Even gathering the bodies of loved ones is an exercise fraught with hazards. A Shiite Muslim religious party controls the main morgue near downtown; its militiamen guard the entrance, keen to snatch kin of the dead, many of them Sunni Muslim Arabs. Unclaimed Sunni corpses pile up.
...
"Some boys came up here and shook our hands the other day," a sergeant recalls to me at a frontline base called Apache in the Adamiya district, the last major Sunni bastion on the east side of the Tigris. He is on his fourth tour: three deployments to Iraq, one to Afghanistan, and has seen little of his own children. "But later I saw that their fathers slapped the boys," the sergeant continues. "I guess they told the kids never to greet us again."


Vice President Cheney: Well, I don’t think it’s unlikely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators.


President Bush: "What's in the newspapers worth worrying about? I glance at the headlines just to kind of (get) a flavor of what's moving," Bush said. "I rarely read the stories," he said.
...
"I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news. And the best way to get the news is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."

ugh, could you pop over to charley carp's mini-blog for a minute?

Just kidding. ;)

Seriously, it makes me despair to think about it.

i'm right there with ya.

luckily, it's perfectly possible to just not pay any attention at all to the chest-thumpers, should it get too bad. nobody makes my browser visit political web sites but me...

ugh, could you pop over to charley carp's mini-blog for a minute?

Missing white women?

Missing white women?

?

All except for the word "expertly", it seems.

I demand you retract this slight on hilzoy's bartending skills this instant! If not instanter.

?

Clearly Thullen was trying to distract me from bringing down a perfectly good plaster and spackle thread.

There's bears that dance and bears that don't.

So if Bizarro World refers to another place as Bizarro World, does that make that other place the real world?

Bizarro World

wow. check out their post about the American Prospect's "manifesto". the strawman army is getting its ass kicked something terrible. a real massacre.

strawman army is getting its ass kicked something terrible.

It's funny how they never run out of soldiers. Maybe we can send them to Iran, North Korea, and Syria.

check out their post about the American Prospect's "manifesto"

You know, I refer to redstate.com as Bizarro World with half a tongue-in-cheek, but statements like this:

To actually believe that both political parties don't do their damnedest to suppress the opposition's vote is either the height of naivete or delusional thinking. I daresay the massive, coordinated campaign in the press over the last several weeks designed to discourage Republicans (especially religious conservatives) from voting gives the lie to any attempt to assign blame for quashing votes to one side only.

make me wonder.

and, nice comment over there cleek, we'll see how soon you get banned.

the massive, coordinated campaign in the press over the last several weeks designed to discourage Republicans (especially religious conservatives) from voting

massive ? you mean that one religious conservative who wrote a book that would've gone unnoticed, if the GOP could've kept quiet about it...?

i did get to hear a very polite, non-challenging, five minute interview with Karl Rove and why he thinks the Teh GOP Roxorz on NPR this afternoon.

They haven't banned you yet! And at least two people commented after you did!

They haven't banned you yet!

i must've convinced him of the error of his ways. and now he's going to write a big apology, and reference my post as the thing that changed his mind!

I do love the reference to the cesspool that is ObWi, the one site on the left side of the blogosphere that Ben Domenech would link to after his little plagiarism incident.

But you're still not banned, hooray!

John Yoo is on the Diane Rehm show this morning. I have a feeling I'm about to experience something more sickening than microwave popcorn fumes.

I do love the reference to the cesspool that is ObWi

yeah, WTF is that guy's problem? cesspool?

But you're still not banned

maybe they've become more tolerant and accepting of dissent ? (hah :) )

Yoo's already said that Congress can suspend habeas corpus because the 9/11 attacks were an attempted invasion (apparently one that's still going on). No one laughed.

It is a pleasant daydream to consider how much fun a different governing party could have with Prof. Yoo applying only his own theories of law.

yeah, WTF is that guy's problem? cesspool?

There was a comment over there, I can't find it now but I linked to it at hocb.net at one point, that described ObWi as a cesspool (and specifically referencing a comment I made after the Military Commissions Act passed). I think it was on a post by "Thomas," who is a fine gentleman, I'm sure.

Yoo's already said that Congress can suspend habeas corpus because the 9/11 attacks were an attempted invasion (apparently one that's still going on).

Clearly he's forfeited any last remaining shred of credibility he might have had.

Now Yoo has admitted that Al Qaeda doesn't pose an existential threat to the US, as we faced in WW2 or the Cold War, but that doesn't matter because these sweeping presidential powers apply during any war.

but that doesn't matter because these sweeping presidential powers apply during any war.

Well that's reassuring. But for some reason I don't recall GHWB or Clinton seizing all this power during Somalia, or GHWB doing the same during Gulf War I, or the invasion of Panama, or Reagan when we bombed Libya and invaded Grenada.

"It is a pleasant daydream to consider how much fun a different governing party could have with Prof. Yoo applying only his own theories of law."

I have even more pleasant daydreams where John Yoo's name is mentioned by a terrorist in a coerced interrogation, and the full power of the executive branch as he advocates it is turned upon him. One suspects that his respect for restraints upon executive power might grow following such an experience.

Give 'em hell cleek.

Give 'em hell cleek.

:) heh.

looks like the ref has arrived.

looks like the ref has arrived.

Ah, but did he ban you? I didn't see the requisite blamming.

"looks like the ref has arrived."

Better a ref than a sheriff showing up guns blazing in only one direction, as the leaders of Bizarro World all too typically do.

Your latest cleek, "defeat the Germans at Pearl Harbor", ought to provide some interesting responses.

"defeat the Germans at Pearl Harbor", ought to provide some interesting responses.

i hope so. maybe we'll get to see if their love of Animal House can overcome their hatred of liberals.

Doubt it. You'll be accused by abject stupidity, thus vindicating all their arguments and completing their victory.

You'll be accused by abject stupidity

how prescient...

I didn't know you were a public high school history teacher cleek, now they've got you.

Also, Moe seems to have lost his reading comprehension somewhere between here and there.

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