Monday, October 29, 2007

Sitting in LAX, listening to Linkin Park's Hands Held High. The smoke from the LA fires was weirdly beautiful nestling in the dry desert mountain valleys of the San Gabriels, and kissing the clouds like upside-down virga rain. Service on t-mobile's WiFi network is free the next few weeks because of the fires, so I didn't have to log in to use it.

I haven't written anything here since September 3. It's been a long two months, so I guess there's lots to tell. The main thing was just the term at DM - that always eats most of my mental bandwidth. So what did we do? Let's see if I can remember any of it...

I made cappuccinos for a large crowd of DM students yesterday during a campground fundraiser. Well, the crowd that got cappuccinos was probably around 20, but it *seemed* large. Note to self: next time figure out a source of wash water other than the Pasquini. Also, operating an espresso machine whilst sitting in a chair isn't a good idea - better to stand, and have a higher counter. Not really much I could have done about it. Also, next time I'm bringing a second grinder so that I don't have to measure out the coffee before grinding it.

I went to a rammed earth workshop last week up in Oracle. I want to put in some really detailed notes about what went down there, but briefly: the idea of rammed earth is to actually use dirt as your primary building material, and to build a house that, in Arizona at least, is very energy-efficient and comfortable. Rammed earth is generally considered to be a luxury building material, even though it's very cheap, because there's a lot of labor in ramming it - you're basically pounding until it becomes stone. But if you're building your own house it's really not much more work than the alternatives, and the results are much nicer.

Before that we bought an RV. I think that's what was eating our brains at the beginning of September. We've been commuting from Tucson out to DM for the past three years, and we finally just maxed out on it and decided to build a house. We wanted it in a hurry, so we'd intended to buy a kit. But the process of getting the kit built wound up taking so long that we were not even going to break ground until about now. So we told them "sorry," and decided to build a real house out of rammed earth instead (see above). And then we bought an RV to live in while we build the actual house. The county will let you set one up on your building site when you're building, so it works out nicely.

So we spent most of this term living in the RV - I actually stayed out on the land for the most part, although Andrea went back into Tucson most days. Water was a problem - we had to fill bottles and transfer their contents into the RV tank with a siphon. We don't have a septic system yet, so we either walked to the campground restroom down the road, or if it was the middle of the night we used the storage tank, which we managed not to fill. We're hoping to get the septic and water systems working before next term. The septic system is somewhat predicated on knowing where the house is going to land, and we're not really sure about that yet, but we're hoping to be surer soon, and then maybe we can dig it in.

Oh, and I set up a wireless mesh network at DM using Meraki routers.

More later, time for me to go check on my flight to see if it's further delayed...