Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Learning to drive - Uh oh

As I am on the brink of becoming a teacher, I have had to learn to drive. Teachers need to be able to come to school early and stay late. I have always been against learning to drive; I'm not good at it and not being good at it can kill people (you can see my point). However, as it is now a necessity I have bought myself a little car (after much scrimping and saving) and got my Learner's permit.

So far I have learned that I will probably never enjoy driving, cars cost a lot and partners should not be allowed to give driving advice;

Enjoying driving (or not); Surely the piloting of multiple tonnes of metal and glass powered by semi controlled explosions in unpredictable circumstances where the risk of injury or death is ever present is not a relaxing pursuit? In fact it may even qualify as an extreme sport, reserved for adrenaline junkies and those with a death wish. Many people have told me they find driving relaxing, but I'm not one of them. For the first three and a half weeks I had a constant head ache as I would drive to the local town to catch the bus to work (while my partner took my fuel efficient car to work). Driving in the morning resulted in sweaty palms and tense muscles (hence the head ache). Now I am slightly more relaxed and the head aches have passed but I am still very nervous and do not enjoy the responsibility.

Cars cost a lot; The little car I bought is twenty years old and had never been out of town. It must have been a surprise to have to go back to work in the retirement years. So far the shock absorbers (which were original) and two tires have had to be replaced. This is an expensive exercise. Having two cars also means we have two registrations, two insurances and more fuel. All so I can get to work, where I will need to earn more and work longer hours to afford the car that gets me to work (small pointless circles).

Partner/driving instructor; While my partner is a very patient man (well...he would have to be wouldn't he), he has some major flaws as a driving instructor. Firstly there is his non-verbal nature; he doesn't instruct much and uses body language instead, for example he indicates my closeness to the outside edge of the road by lifting his left leg slightly and leaning towards me. This has obvious disadvantages; I can't always be aware of his body language and piloting the car at the same time.

Secondly, he has a habit of fiddling with the buttons on my side of the car. It is very disconcerting to have the windscreen wipers flicked on while you are driving or the overdrive button pressed unexpectedly. I have now confined his area of influence to the stereo and the air conditioning while I am driving.

Thirdly, the car has become a cold war between us. Kev' likes my little car, it's good to drive, fuel efficient and reliable (mostly) so he wants to drive it all the time. His car is at the car hospital with undiagnosed pains in the fuel system and has been there for two months. Kev' shows no signs of picking it up any time soon. His work gear takes up the back seat of my car and the multitude of tools in the back is growing. He is staking his territory. To counteract this I have installed a square, dangly car scent that is so feminine it even smells pink, put on CWA and Wiccan bumper stickers and left the fairy sticker and little horns on the logo that the car came with. I am thinking of naming the car Io as my daughter says it should have a cow's name (being a Toyota) and suggested either Hathor or Daisy. Io is a much better choice as she was a Greek girl who found herself unexpectedly turned into a demi god and she traveled a lot.

I am glad to be learning a new skill, even one that I don't enjoy. I do wish that it wasn't a requirement of my working life though.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Making papercrete - Yet another way to use rubbish

Over this winter I have noticed a breeze blowing through the gap in our lounge room floor; the difference in height between the tyre floor and the pavers. This sneaky little breeze makes my feet cold while I spin (and I'm obviously metamorphosing into a cranky old lady) so I decided to try to block off this gap.
Enter the idea of papercrete; I have newspaper in abundance so it seemed a natural progression to mix up some papercrete and plug the gap with it. Papercrete is made by mixing newspaper soaked in water with concrete. The similarity between the recommended procedure and what I did ends there.

This is the gap I hope to fill. In addition to a sneaky breeze this gap also lets in antechinus, snakes and allows dropped cutlery to escape into the wild.

The recommended procedure says to soak the paper in a tow mixer designed to shred the softened paper and mix in the cement.

I shredded my paper...well ripped it up small, and soaked it in water in a bucket
 I was only doing a small test patch to see if it will work so I began by tearing up a bucket full of newspaper. The paper soaked for a week so it was good and soft.

I used a half bag of cement mix I had in the shed.

I added the whole half bag of cement...forgetting to pour off the extra water.

I mixed the lot into a sloppy slurry and began to pack it into the gap. The bucket full of goop went further than I thought it would, but it is still very rough and I think it will crack when it dries.

The filled up gap

As you can see it's rough.

While this was a very quick and dirty experiment I can see a lot of potential for this building material. If the papercrete holds in this gap I am thinking of using it to fill the gaps and cracks around doors and windows. I might even go as far as building a tow mixer to make HUGE batches as I am lucky enough to have access to almost unlimited newspaper.

 In other news...I went on a little field trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Brisbane last weekend and found this amazing piece there. It reminds me of the tumors that grow on really old gum trees.