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February 22, 2008

Life is Bigger Than TV


I got to thinking more about the headline that I came across last week, Half of UK Men Would Swap Sex For 50 Inch TV. My thoughts led me to the research of Richard Layard, author of “Happiness: Lessons from a New Science.” I was reading the text from one of Layard’s lectures at the London School of Economics - Happiness: Has Social Science a Clue? – and came across a table with the title, “Happiness in Different Activities.”


The table displayed the results from a survey in which people were asked what activities make up their typical day, as well as an index representing how much happiness is derived from each activity. At the top of the list (the activity that makes us happiest) is sex. Then comes socializing after work, dinner, relaxing, lunch, exercising, praying, socializing at work, etc. Watching TV ranked 9th (in terms of happiness) among the 19 activities listed, yet it is second only to working in terms how much time it consumes in a typical day.


So, back to the survey of men and their desire for that big TV. Why would they want to give up the activity that makes them happiest – sex – in exchange for a bigger . . . . TV screen?


I don’t get it. From where I sit, everything in life is bigger than TV.


Note: The above photos include, 1) towing Gypsy Rose to her winter home, 2) sailing Raven on Lake Champlain, 3) hiking with my sons, Jackson and David, along Hance Rapids in the Grand Canyon, 4) my son Jackson meeting a Panamanian man with a dugout canoe, and, 5) Marion and Meghann aboard Raven on a sunny July day.



February 15, 2008

Size Matters!

size matters

It’s official! Size, in fact, does matter – more than sex, even!

The headline and article (below) in the New York Times a couple days ago confirms it.

Half Of UK Men
Would Swap Sex
For 50 Inch TV

LONDON (Reuters) - Nearly half of British men surveyed would give up sex for six months in return for a 50-inch plasma TV, a survey -- perhaps unsurprisingly carried out for a firm selling televisions -- said on Friday.

Electrical retailer Comet surveyed 2,000 Britons, asking them what they would give up for a large television, one of the latest consumer "must-haves."

The firm found 47 percent of men would give up sex for half a year, compared to just over a third of women.

"It seems that size really does matter more for men than women," the firm said.

Oh, gosh, do I feel inadequate? My house is just too small for the "must-have" television that I don't have.

February 02, 2008

Firing up the Little Cod

little cod

Wait! Something’s different in that picture. What’s that coming out of the chimney? Ah, yes, it’s smoke! As the saying goes, where there’s smoke there’s a Little Cod.

Okay, so those aren’t the exact words, but today we finally got our Little Cod woodstove installed and fired up. It was a long time in coming, but there’s smoke curling out of the chimney at last.

One of the challenges that we had with the Gypsy project was finding a stove that was SMALL enough. With only 120 square feet to warm, most stoves on the market would have had us running from the heat. Then, there was the issue of clearances required from combustible surfaces. Larger stoves would have required an installation in the middle of the room and our entire tiny space would have become unusable.

A year ago, I’d all but given up on having a wood stove in Gypsy Rose, but then I discovered Navigator Stove Works. They build stoves for small boats, although the stoves are equally suited for small cabins. With a proper heat shield, clearances can be as low as 1 inch. That’ll work. We ordered our Little Cod model last spring and it’s been waiting patiently in a wooden crate for today to come.


The installation actually began back in December when I installed the chimney. I started by determining where the midpoint of the flue on the back of the stove would extend up through the ceiling/loft floor (using a plumb-bob). I cut the nine-inch hole for the chimney’s ceiling support and then extended the center point up to the loft ceiling.


The first floor hole is round, but the hole in the roof has to be elliptical due to the 45 degree pitch. I drew the required shape (using a technique that is quite simple, but too difficult to explain here) and cut the pine boards with the jigsaw. After knifing through the insulation I was finally at the roof sheathing where I drilled a hole at the center of the chimney opening to the outside. (Yikes!) From there, it was out to the ladder with tin snips and the jigsaw to finish the chimney’s path to the sky.


All the careful calculations and measurements paid off. The double-walled stainless steel chimney fit precisely in place. The only thing left was to put some adhesive on the base of the flashing, slip it over the pipe and screw it in place. (Actually, that was the most anxiety-ridden part of the whole thing as darkness was falling, Marion had left for work, and rain was in the immediate forecast.)


So, now skip ahead nearly two months. Before finishing the installation (adding the stove) I had to build the carcass for the cabinet that the stove will stand on. But, before I could put that in place, I had to build the carcass for the daybed/couch that the stove cabinet will join with. (Remember, the entirety of the furnishings in Gypsy Rose will be built-in, very much like aboard the boat.)

I did most of the work on the two furnishings in the maritime museum’s boat shop. When it came time to glue up the couch carcass I’d been torn as to whether it would be best to assemble it inside Gypsy or do it in the shop and then bring it in. After a dry run to be sure that it all fit as planned over the fender well, I took it out to the shop for gluing. As the glue was drying I went back to Gypsy for some desk work. Then, it hit me. Oh, my god! Will the completed unit fit through the door?

Nervously, I got out the tape measure and pulled it across the door frame. Twenty-seven and five-eighths inches. Phew! (The couch is twenty-seven and a half.) The next day, Marion and I carried it inside and secured it in place.

Don’t worry. That big hole will not remain in the top. I built an access lid (not yet installed in the photo) to allow us to get at our 50-gallon water storage tank, the 12-volt water pump, and the accumulator (pressure evening device).


After the tank is in place, there will be about 18 inches of space under the left end of the couch that would be dead space if covered up. In a tiny house, that kind of space cannot be given up to air, so I fitted the end of the couch with an access door. I hadn’t, however, considered the space that I’d planned to enclose in the arm of the couch. What was I thinking? Marion reminded me of where we keep the games in a similar space aboard Raven. Plans changed. I’ll be installing a hinged lid.

little cod

Okay, where were we? Oh, yeah, we finally got the carcass for the couch in place. (The cherry face frames and cushioning will come later.) I secured the stove cabinet to the side and then installed the fire-shield on the wall behind the stove. The hearth will eventually be tiled and the fire-shield will be faced with Lake Champlain stone, but we couldn’t wait any longer to get our Little Cod heated up. I installed the damper in the chimney pipe, connected the pipe from stove to the insulated chimney above and minutes later we were stuffing newspaper and kindling into the firebox. Ah, the fire feels so good!

little cod