Archive for the 'Structures' Category


Friday, March 6th, 2009

Even now, two weeks later, friends of mine are expressing to me their sympathy for LIGHTBAR, the way they might for a dead relative or pet.  People have asked me how I’m feeling, if I’m okay … call me dense but at first I thought they were offering to lift heavy objects for me.  I didn’t figure out until lately that people are worried about me personally.  But really, I’m fine.

The collapse of LIGHTBAR was somehow incredibly shocking and sad.  The most frequent text response I received was an N with twelve Os after it.  But sad as it was, it wasn’t so bad.  Nothing was damaged, nobody was hurt, no major financial loss was felt.  I happened to catch a bad cold right at the same time, but I feel fine now.  We missed out on three days of LIGHTBAR, but we had seven others under our collective belt.

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Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

LIGHTBAR goes dark early this year …

Dome collapse ...

WTF? Well, I knew there were problems.  I’ve already had to fix several broken struts, and there were one or two near the top of the dome that I couldn’t reach to fix properly.  Yesterday we had the heaviest rain and wind in a month.  Did my baggy roof tarp begin to take on water, and grow heavy?  Were the winds worse than I realized? I wonder if anybody else’s dome fell down last night.

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Domebuilding: built!

Friday, January 30th, 2009


Sorry to keep you in suspense!  The cold I’m fighting has me too tired in the evenings to blog about the day’s events.  But to summarize …

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Domebuilding: Oops …

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

I know what you’ve been thinking:

“That guy’s dome is too big.”

I’ve been in denial.  I’m sorry.

I plotted out the 32 foot floor plan, and eyeballed the rest.  But that third dimension is a bitch.  I’m bumping and scraping against the limbs of our three mighty trees, but that’s not even the problem — limbs are flexible.  The problem is, I’m now touching the overhead wire that delivers the Internet to my next-door neighbors. I hardly need tell you, The Internet, what it would mean for my neighbors’ quality of life if I accidentally severed that wire.

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Domebuilding: Day Six

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

90% done now, and the thing is hee-yuge!  I wish it had an upstairs.

More than half of my time in the last three days was spent driving around town, picking up bamboo from the yards of my friends.  There are now six varieties of bamboo in play, with different diameters and colors and traits.  It could get messy, but it seems to be holding up well.
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Domebuilding: Day Three

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

That’s a lie — my worker-elves and I spent some extra days collecting, cleaning and marking bamboo.  Lightbar eats more bamboo than a giant panda!  I need 170 sticks to complete the 5/8 dome and I’m still about 80 short.  But with what I have, I’m about done with Stage Five of the plan.

(Incidentally, that link is only one of several places online where you can find Bucky Fuller’s original plan transcribed.  Somewhere my mother has copies of the original Domebook that first published it.)
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Domebuilding: Day Two

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Hail Bamboo Satan!

I finished the first two stages this afternoon before I ran out of light, leaving a great big bamboo pentagram in the middle of my yard.  (I’m told this will repel Christians.)

Fuller’s plan would have me cut all the poles to a rough length after marking, but i’d really rather keep them whole, and somehow work the extra structure into the dome.  So far I seem to be getting away with it.  There’s always little extra bits of bamboo flopping around, but I can cope.
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Domebuilding: Day One

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Cleaning bamboo

The bamboo I’m working with is an interesting local variety; some call it “Oregon Bamboo” but I have no idea what the latin name is.  I harvested a bunch of this years ago, using a Forest Service permit to remove non-native species from parks.  Unlike store-bought, kiln-dried bamboo, this stuff doesn’t split and remains fairly flexible.  I love working with it.  It has an interesting anatomical feature: each node is armored with a single flat-growing leaf that wraps almost the entire surface.  So I have to “shell” each node by twisting the leaf until it breaks off.  Somehow it reminds me of unwrapping fine cigars.  Also, the leaves of this bamboo are slightly itchy — unless you’re allergic, like my friend Chet, in which case they’re extremely itchy and will cause you to break out in hives.  So no leaves, please.

Because I left my pile of bamboo sitting outside for years in slightly damp conditions, a black must began growing on the uncovered ends, feeding on the natural waxy coating of the bamboo.  So before I can use the stuff, I have to wash it off with some Murphy’s Oil Soap and some bleach.

Before. After.

Cleans up nice, don’t it?

Unfortunately, it looks like I don’t have nearly enough of the stuff to finish my dome.  I have some other bamboo, but it’s all either too stiff or too brittle.  Thursday I’m headed to my local State Park with a bamboo-cutting permit, hoping to bag 100 more sticks without significantly ruining the landscape.

Lightbar Rising …

Monday, January 12th, 2009


Watch this space!  High-rise coming soon!

This year, our seasonal affective disorder treatment center is relocating from a 40′ tetrahedron to a 32′ hemisphere — leapfrogging all the other platonic solids!  Corners are out, curves are in!

And so I get to build a geodesic dome — a rite of passage for architecture nerds.  I’ll be using Bucky Fuller’s famous bamboo plan, creating a 5/8 dome out of 170 sticks of bamboo and some duct tape.  This design works with the flexibility of bamboo to avoid the need for fancy joints.
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Why Credit Remains Tight

Friday, October 10th, 2008

It’s October 10, 2008, and for the last two weeks, world credit markets have been seized with illiquidity, or whatever you’d call the opposite of liquidity … dryness, I guess.  Credit has grown stiff and creaky.  The cost of short-term lending has shot up.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has made clear that the rapid increase in the cost of short-term collateral-free borrowing between banks, businesses and other banks — a.k.a. the “commercial paper” market — is the doomsday scenario that all the world’s governments should now fight to prevent.

And central bankers around the world are reaching further agreement that reducing the cost of credit is an urgent goal to prevent a global financial meltdown, and that to do so, we must infuse banks with cash.  Billions and billions of dollars, euros and yen of delicious money.  This has been Paulson’s argument for some time, but now other G7 financial analysts are coming to the same conclusion.

Funny thing is, we’ve been doing this for a little while now, we’ve kept on infusing and infusing and infusing the banks with cash, and yet they keep raising their commercial paper rates.  This is the opposite of how it’s supposed to work, apparently.  The cash infusions are supposed to assure everybody that nobody’s going broke.  They are supposed to remove uncertainty, and reduce panic.  It’s like they’re supposed to spend the cash on Valium, but they’ve been buying up crystal meth instead.
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