Intel's D1X In The Oregonian

The Oregonian has an article titled “Intel goes big to get small — an early look at its new Hillsboro research factory, D1X” which looks at the construction and impact of Intel’s new factory in Oregon. Even in Oregon Intel is a big employer.

“If you’re talking even a thousand jobs on one project, that will have a substantial impact on overall construction employment in the Portland area,” said David Cooke, an economist with the Oregon Employment Department. “The construction jobs are very important to the overall economic picture over the short term.”

Those workers will haul away up to a million yards of dirt as Intel excavates for D1X’s foundation and brings the site level with D1D, the fab next door.

Of that, 150,000 cubic yards are headed just up the road, to SolarWorld’s Hillsboro property. That company is contemplating a second factory someday and needs to elevate its property to ensure proper drainage.

The castoffs will raise 4 1/2 acres of SolarWorld’s site by 21 feet.

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Raffle For A House In Rio Rancho, New Mexico

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If the HGTV Dream Home Sweepstake doesn’t work out, there’s a raffle for a $190,000 house in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. I looked for it in Google Maps and found that part of the Cabezon development that the house is supposed to be in is photographed properly but not mapped properly. I had to use a few different mapping programs to find the house, which doesn’t seem to actually built yet It will probably be a fine house if you don’t mind living next to dirt lots for a while.

2483 Corvara Drive in Astante Villas Gated Community at Cabezon in Rio Rancho, NM. GRAND PRIZE: Win a beautiful brand new home valued at $189,900 or $100,000 CASH. Additional 100 CASH Prizes to be given away. Tickets are $75.00 each. Drawing will be February 27, 2010 at the home to be given away. This raffle benefits El Ranchito de los Ninos Children’s Home — a home for children who do not have a home of their own and are unable to live with their biological families.

Partial Fireplace Deconstruction

My house was built in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. I don’t know because it was a foreclosure and the bank didn’t really give a shit, they just wanted to sell it. It is easy to tell the era due to the rest of the houses in the neighborhood and the style of the house.

The fireplace is one of those dated artifacts that is not to my liking. It consists of a false brick veneer with a brick hearth that sticks out from the wall about a foot.

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If the original designer of the house had put in some storage under the hearth or made it somewhat more useful, it might have been worth keeping. Otherwise the hearth just takes up too much space and I wanted to take it out before I re-did the floors in the living room.

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I surrounded the area around the fireplace with sheet plastic that I attached to the ceiling with tape and push pins. I smashed the hearth brickwork with a sledge hammer and a pry bar. Under the brick veneer I found dirt and brick fill, no hidden treasure of gold and rubies.

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There is still a layer of brick attached to the block fireplace that I was not able to remove. Like many of the projects at my house this is a mult-stage project. When I get ready to hire someone to do the drywall throughout the house, I will remove the remainder of the bricks and have drywall installed where the brick is now.

I was somewhat worried about completing this project as it was not undoable, but I am happy with the extra space I have in the living room and the fireplace is still functional.

Also see the Toolmonger post.

Building A Habitat For Scorpions And Trying To Keep Them

I thought I would try to turn a negative into a positive with my scorpions situation by capturing them and keeping in them in a glassed habitat in the house. Perhaps there’s money to be made selling scorpions.

The first thing I did was to clean out a 10 gallon aquarium that was being unused.

Scorpion habitat from a 10 gallon aquarium

I then added cactus from the back yard.

Adding cactus to a scorpion habitat

I then added some sandy soil (commonly referred to as dirt), also from the back yard.

Adding sandy soil to the scorpion habitat

I then added a pile of rocks, from the front yard this time.

Adding a pile of rocks to the scorpion habitat

I then added the scorpion (Vaejovis flavus). This one came from inside the house.

Possible Vaejovis flavus species of scorpion?

The first scorpion died after keeping it in the tank for about a month. This was despite providing it several crickets that it quickly ate.

Since Saturn the cat came along, I rarely get a scorpion before she kills them. Plus she is has eliminated the scorpion food supply in the house so I don’t know that I will get much more of them. The tank currently sits empty.

Preparing The Evaporative Cooler Duct For Winter

I’m still not done renovating the interface from the evaporative cooler to the underground duct work. I’m getting close but I need to get it sealed up for winter before I finish it this year.

The typical set up for cooling and heating in New Mexico involves separate evaporative cooling units from heating units. Dampers are installed that block air from entering one unit when the other is running. The damper is almost always a flimsy piece of metal that slides into the duct without any kind of insulation or air barrier around it.

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This is fine when blocking the cooler air from entering the heater in the summer but it’s not fine when blocking the heated air from entering the cooler in the winter. I’ve been looking at automatic barometric dampers, they open and close based on which way the air is moving. Some automatic dampers look like they might seal the air penetrations when closed but they are not insulated. I’m thinking of designing my own insulated automatic barometric dampener but for now I’m going to have to seal the duct manually.

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I started by cutting a piece of polyethylene foam I had from some shipping materials slight larger than the 18 x 18 inch opening. I placed it over the flimsy metal dampener. I sealed it up with some self adhesive foil covered foam pipe wrap.

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I covered the lower portion of the duct that is under the dampener with more polyethylene foam and covered it with the foil pipe wrap.

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It should be well sealed and airtight for this winter and easy to remove the foam when I finish it up next summer. I still have a number of issues to deal with.

I had Steamatic come out and clean the duct work. They tried cleaning the main duct from the cooler to the manifold the distributes the air to the rest of the house. The dirt was too caked on to get it all. The Steamatic guys suggested I pull a flexible duct through to seal it up.

It’s a great idea and something I will try next year. I also need to finish sealing the main interface with cement and sealing it with a moisture barrier.

It’s still hard to believe that the previous residence of my house was a HVAC contractor considering all the problems I have had with the evaporative cooler. I haven’t started writing about the super crappy heating system.

Vertical Cement Application

Cleaning up the swamp cooler duct work continues. At this rate I might have it done by summer.

This is my first experience mixing and using cement and I’m pretty happy with the result. Here’s the problem, a large swath of concrete is missing and the original metal duct just rested up against dirt, further degrading the metal. I cleaned up the mess and prepared it to be filled with cement.

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First thing I did was to put some metal lath that is used for stuccoing walls. I folded it in on itself and shoved it into the gap using a few nails (nailed into dirt) to hold it back where it needed help. The metal lath not only will give the cement some strength but will give it something to stick to.

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I used 30 lbs of Quikrete quick setting cement. The cement sets in 10-15 minutes and, according to the container, is recommend for vertical applications. Since I had never mixed cement before it seems like a good first step was to read and follow the instructions. The container says to mix 5.5 parts of Quikrete into 1 part water and only mix as much as you can work with in 10 -15 minutes. Mixing that much water resulted in a wet powered that was pretty much useless. After some experimentation and wasting about 10% of the Quikrete I found I needed about 3x water than was called for.

Another 10% waste of Quikrete occurred trying to figure out how to actually apply the material into the hole. I finally figured out that using a wide putty knife and pushing it up, working my way left to right and top to bottom was the easiest way to apply it. Sometimes it would fall after I put in on and I tried to scoop up as much as I could and put it back.

It was hot and sweat and blood literally went into the making of this. There is a satisfaction to doing it myself..

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There’s a few next steps before I can permanently attach the duct work. The floor of the this concrete pit should also be solid concrete, but is degraded and it’s hard to tell where the concrete ends and the dirt starts. I will have to put about a .5 inch layer of cement down. I will probably use something like the Quikcrete Fast-Setting Self-Leveling product. Since it doesn’t require any trawling, it should be easy!

The other thing I have to do is to clean out the dirt that made it’s way down the main duct that runs from the cooler to the main air distribution point. I could hire a duct cleaning service, but why start hiring people now when I’ve done everything else myself?

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Garden Hose Quick-Connect Connectors

Camco hose quick connectors

Back in October of 2007, Cool Tools recomended Melnor Quick Connects for garden hoses. The quick connects are similar to quick connects used on air tools. I am a big fan of these quick connectors and I use them on all my hoses. The only problem with the ones recommended by Cool Tools is that they are plastic.

There’s a number of problems with the plastic connectors for which I don’t recommend them. If you leave them outdoors all year round they get brittle and they don’t take a lot of abuse like when your dragging your hose across the cement. Instead I recommend the brass connectors such as the ones made by Camco.

Another issue with these things is they tend to get dirt in them and expand and contract with the weather. Sometimes you have to bang on them to get them to move again, try doing that with a plastic part.