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Spaceship Chimneys

Merry Christmas, one and all! I hope you all got as much wonderful coal in your Christmas stocking as I did!

Yesterday I had a Christmas call from my son and daughter-in-law –from the UK where they live in the future (and you all thought that was Australia). I know it was the future, because they’d just finished their brandy butter with a little Christmas pudding on the side (My son’s theory is Christmas pudding is a penance to make up for the joy of brandy butter, sometimes called ‘hard sauce’ – maybe because it is made with hard liquor? Couldn’t be because it is hard…)

Actually, my daughter in law is on duty at her hospital on Christmas day, so they were having Christmas dinner together, early. When you sit down at yours – spare a thought and raise a glass for those who will be working this Christmas, away from home and celebrations. Doctors, nurses, soldiers, fireys, the guy-wot-fixes-electrical-outages, even volunteer ambulance officers (yes, I am on call for it.) Without them… celebration would be a much more risky time, quite possibly, nothing to celebrate.

Anyway, among other things, to much laughter from the kids, I was describing my adventures in solo construction. I explained how I had to lift the shed with a crowbar to put in the floor-joists, and trifling inconvenience of having a small shed on edge balanced on your crowbar – and trying to have extra limbs to move the floor-joist framework… It’s amazing what you can do with your feet, and how long your arms can be… And just how inclined to slither just out of reach things can also be.

My son said: “Dad, have you ever tried NOT building something roof first?”

I said: “Son. I’m a writer. I wouldn’t know how to do that.”

Which has a bonus point of being a true statement throughout.

I mean, it is perfectly normal for writers to construct a great, big, heavy, overarching thing, which has to hang in the air exactly the way bricks don’t. Then they scramble about with crowbars, inappropriate bits of lying around timber and pieces of firewood, to try and stop it descending with a sickening crunch, probably on top of them.

The problem being –as a writer—that if you can’t build that roof, then the floor, walls, bearers and struts, wiring and plumbing are pretty useless. You don’t if the roof can be built until you build it complete. Pantsers – those who write by the seat of their pants, are possibly inclined to build at least one wall. Well. Sometimes. Maybe. Plotters definitely get the whole framework hanging in the air, before indulging in walls. I would say plumbing was ALWAYS an optional extra, which probably accounts for the constipated look common to most award winning authors.

Still – your stories will stay up better if you add walls and trusses and bearers and the like. Computers and word processing make it possible to do later. And a chimney is almost essential! Even on your space-ship.

Why you ask?

Duh. Trust me on this. I’ve been a stand-in for Santa a few times, and squeezing down air-conditioning pipes plays havoc with a beard. Chimneys are much better.

Ok, gotta dash. A friend’s asked me to fill in on a few little delivery jobs, bringing good cheer and all that. Remember to put out a coconut macaroon and a glass of rum… uh a mince-pie and a glass of sherry. Ho ho ho…

And remember, Christmas Spirit is not JUST what you drink.

Peace and goodwill to all.

So: Merry Christmas again, and good writing to you!

  1. Happy Christmas and Merry New Year. Hanukkah still going on? If so, have a grand one as well.

    December 25, 2017
  2. paladin3001 #


    December 25, 2017
  3. Merry Christmas, everyone!

    December 25, 2017
  4. Merry Christmas, Dave. Hugs to you and Barbs!

    December 25, 2017
  5. To one and all, have a good one.

    December 25, 2017
  6. Anyway, among other things, to much laughter from the kids, I was describing my adventures in solo construction. I explained how I had to lift the shed with a crowbar to put in the floor-joists, and trifling inconvenience of having a small shed on edge balanced on your crowbar – and trying to have extra limbs to move the floor-joist framework… It’s amazing what you can do with your feet, and how long your arms can be… And just how inclined to slither just out of reach things can also be.

    I’m just … Okay, I wondering a number of whys, from levering up the sides and shoving props under it until the job is done to why the floor came last. We used to build and square up the the sill and joists, install the sub floor, put up the walls (with headers), then throw up the ceiling joists, rafters, and bracing, then sheet the roof with plywood, then put the tar paper on the roof. The boss called it “drying in,” and his theory was that once you dried it in, you had a dry spot in rainy weather and a shady spot in sunny, and both made it better to work.

    The old style had the wall studs nailed to the sills and floor joists. Then came all the rest with the floor (no subfloor) last. It was based on the same theory.

    I think it made it easier to square things up. We simply applied Pythagoras’ Theorem to the sills before we put in the floor joists.

    All sorts of memories, such as twisting joists with a crow bar as we nailed in braces to straighten out the crooks. Boss had a special rig made up of welded 1″ iron bars that we put on the stubborn ones and had greater leverage.

    Oh, and a Merry Christmas.

    December 25, 2017
  7. Last attempt:

    Just have a Merry Christmas and the blazes with the rest.

    December 25, 2017
  8. snelson134 #

    Merry Christmas 2017

    December 25, 2017
  9. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

    December 25, 2017
  10. paladin3001 #

    Okay, NOW I am awake and functioning. Merry Christmas everyone.

    December 25, 2017
  11. Naturally I build the roof first.
    And then it flies away!
    Cuz I build spaceships.

    Merry Christmas, fellow Deplorables and Reprobates. 🙂

    December 25, 2017
    • Courtesy of Rep. S. Jackson-Lee, we can add “unconscionable” to the list.

      December 25, 2017
      • Oh, excellent! I knew it needed another descriptive!

        December 25, 2017
      • Would that be a play on how un-“woke” we are? *chuckle*

        December 25, 2017
  12. Merry Christmas to all and sundry. 🙂

    I’ll have Son’s pudding, he can have my hard sauce. Fair?

    December 25, 2017
  13. Merry Christmas.

    Thanks for being on-call today, Dave. I’m working in the call center today. It’s pretty slow today (Never, ever say the “Q” word).

    Next time you’re in the mood to tinker with the shed, let me know. I’ll get you in touch with my dad. He moved his by himself one afternoon using some fence posts and the Blazer (Ute to you). He might be able to give you some ideas. 😉

    December 25, 2017
    • RCPete #

      It’s possible, even practical, to erect wall framing with a compact utility tractor-loader with fork-lift tines, but it helps to be slightly insane. Protip: check for square and plumb before putting the sheathing on. Don’t ask me how I know. 🙂

      Merry Christmas to all! I’ll add a special tip of the hat to those working the critical jobs today.

      December 25, 2017
  14. Christopher M. Chupik #

    Merry Christmas you reprobates and hooligans. My week would be so much duller without you. 🙂

    December 25, 2017
  15. sam57l0 #

    Let us not forget the missileers in their underground launch control centers, and the maintainers and security police out in the snowfields of the northlands, nor the submariners.

    December 25, 2017
  16. To the salty seadogs on the shimmering seas, the muddy sweats in the green hells, the sandbox soldiers, the airheads delivering the mail, and all the long suffering logistics train, the head sheds, short timers, lifers, and GI bill strivers all, and never to be forgotten the families way back home, a good Christmas to you and because of you.

    To the stalwarts on duty where danger calls in bright morning light and the dead of night, the one-more-hour/one-more-day fellows with shoulder to the wheel (or prybar to the shack), the farmers, the framing hammer carpenters, the plumbers, the sparkies, and the little guy and gal in thier first Christmas on the job and everyone in between…

    Merry Christmas, people of Earth!

    December 25, 2017
    • Eamon J. Cole #

      I’ma just gonna hang down under Dan’s comment, he covered ’em.

      Merry and joyful wishes to all this Christmas day.

      December 25, 2017
  17. With two crowbars, or reasonable facsimiles, and a spare joist (hopefully spare – “Why is the floor all bendy right here, Dad?”) a shed is a simple thing to get properly elevated. Hmm. Maybe that is what this WIP needs; another crowbar.

    In any case, a very Merry Christmas (or Boxing Day, considering how late I got up this morning) to all of the Mad Geniuses and those who trail behind them.

    December 25, 2017
    • You can never have too many crowbars. I only have 5 (in various shapes and sizes) that’s my problem 🙂

      December 25, 2017
      • RCPete #

        It’s like woodworkers and clamps. Don’t want to talk about the luthiers.

        December 25, 2017
        • Ah no. I saw a luthier’s workshop once. I quit teasing DadRed about his collection of “things for holding wood in place”.

          December 25, 2017
      • Sledgehammers too. Screwdrivers, wrenches, socket sets…

        Told the wife once that I needed to be able to fix even a UFO that lands in the back yard. She labeled my “oddments” box the “ET Box” the next day.

        December 25, 2017
      • Any Useful Item tends to follow the N+1 rule:
        You have N. You need N+1.
        If you add 1 to N, this still applies.

        December 27, 2017
  18. Merry Christmas, all! Dave, I’m glad that your shed-fixing turned out well, so your son could laugh at it. Much better than the alternative! I do appreciate the people who have to work on holidays, but we don’t want to be the ones contributing to their work-load!

    December 25, 2017
  19. Uncle Lar #

    One of the gifts I received early on from my wife’s family was the firm belief that any holiday is whenever we all got together to celebrate, often days or weeks from the actual calendar date. You see, they all worked jobs that required support on those special days, TV cameraman, nurse, hospital admissions, food service. So everyone covered their responsibilities and we held the parties when the work was done. In addition to growing a true appreciation for the spirit of holidays was the discovery that you could get some really great deals on Christmas presents the week after Dec 25.

    December 25, 2017
    • tprice #

      Birthdays work the same way! I can never remember the correct day for my father’s since it is in late November and the celebration gets shoved around by Thanksgiving. Then for my generation there are a couple clusters of folks born near each other on the calendar and the extended family just ends up having The Mid Spring Birthday Party and the Summer Birthday Party events where we can fit them in. My Sister in Law managed to have her 4 kids all with birthdays in a 2 month spread in late fall but so far the kids all get their own parties, I don’t think that will last once they get older 🙂

      December 27, 2017
  20. Draven #

    But if we go crawling around air conditioning ducts we get to find out what a TV dinner feels like….

    Merry Christmas everyone.

    December 25, 2017
  21. Merry Christmas to y’all!

    December 25, 2017
  22. And here’s a hope that everything stays nice and quiet for all emergency responders through the rest of the holiday season. Merry Christmas, Dave and Barbara,

    December 25, 2017
    • When I worked as a checker those in uniform (pretty much any uniform) appreciated “Have an uneventful {day,night,shift}.”

      December 27, 2017

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