fibreglass resin stink
Saturday, February 18 2012
I have a plan to build a cable route from the vicinity of the woodshed down to some point near the northern end of the Stick Trail, thereby saving myself the ordeal of having to carry chunks of wood up the stone steps that constitutes the normal pedestrian route between these two places. The need to carry those chunks has traditionally been one of the reason I haven't had to do over a hundred situps each day, so having to do so isn't entirely negative. But those steps can be treacherous in icy conditions and sometimes when I'm carrying heavy loads I realize that I'm playing Russian roulette with my mostly trouble-free spine. Also, in a hypothetical super-cold winter dependent on firewood from the Stick Trail, I'd need a better system to be able to transport the necessary amount of wood. So I came up with the idea of running a cable down the slope and using it to transport a pulley-suspended basket full of wood. But where to run such a cable? I'm limited by stock cable lengths to hundred feet, though long runs have the advantage of following a shallower grade (which might not even matter if I power the basket with an electric winch). Today I found myself out on the slope scouting out routes. The best of these passed through an area where there's still a tree hung up from last year's attempt to open the south end of the house to more sunlight. But it was too cold and clammy to transition to wielding a chainsaw, so I shelved the project for a warmer day.
A seemingly-better project for the afternoon was the repair of the cracked and delaminated fibreglass on my new 48 inch parabolic dish, which I'd salvaged from the old Friendly's in Uptown Kingston. That dish had evidently been allowed to fall on the ground during its decommissioning, and though the damage hadn't been severe, it was enough for me to want to fix it. I put on some latex gloves, mixed up some fibreglass resin and, started laying in new layers of fibreglass. As I worked, it all smelt and looked familiar. I think I might have used similar techniques and materials to repair rust holes in the old Dodge Dart. As things had gone that time, the repair quickly turned into a mess, with big tumors of resin mixed with errands fibers in some places and patches of fibreglass that refused to adhere. In the end, though, I was able to contain most of the mess and tame the laminations by covering everything with bits of wax paper. Most of the repairs were on the edges of ridges, and it was easy to clip the wax paper to these using alligator clips.
Unfortunately, I hadn't anticipated how terrible the resin would smell. I was forced to close the laboratory door and abandon it until the resin had set, which took several hours. I thought I had the smell under control during this period, but Gretchen was more sensitive and holed up in the upstairs bedroom while I watched Doomsday Preppers and My Strange Addiction (without the laboratory, teevee watching seemed like the best way to spend my time).
While I kicked back with my booze, teevee, and other alone time perks, Gretchen went out this evening with Sarah, and they met up with our friends Alex and Celia at Bard to see Mendelssohn's Elijah, a choral piece celebrating a guy who managed to convince the Isrælites to abandon Baal and worship Yahweh instead (the jury, by the way, is still out on which —if any— of those religions is the one true religion). But convincing the Isrælites to change their beliefs was not enough for Elijah; he then convinced them to kill all the prophets of the old Baal-based religion. It's not, in other words, a story about tolerance and inclusion, and it's difficult to see what message it might have for contemporary humanity outside its value as a Simpsons-style satire of the emergent stupidity of crowds. Why, then, was a 19th-Century composer like Mendelssohn drawn to it? And, more puzzling still, why was the President of Bard (who is presumably an agnostic if not an atheist), driven to conduct it? The music must be beautiful, even if it is sung in a language as unmusical as German.
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