Monday, 24 August 2009

Apartment Grey Water: A (Frustrating) Work in Progress #3

CIMG1009Currently, i have a temporary setup which seems to actually make more sense that what i had originally planned. Though i did buy another bin, i haven't had time to install the little tap (and get covered in old water and make a mess of my flat), so i put the pump into the bin outside and stuck the tubing from the pump into the toilet tank through the window. I had filled the tank like this from outside manually, but it's a pain, and involves unplugging the pump quickly right by water, and cords and tubing going flying--it's dangerous, messy, and annoying. CIMG1011So i plugged the pump into a power strip so now the tank can be filled simply with the press of a button. Right: the source of water

I am not sure if you can tell by this photo, but these plastic twist-thingies (apparently they have a name: cable ties) are attached to the out-feed hose so it doesn't go flying. They are also used to keep the power strip in place.
I am quite positive that they are literally holding this country together, from hubcaps on cars to probably foundations of important government buildings. So here is my analysis, and i am curious as to what you think, as well:

-I don't have to actually faff around making the greywater system
-The novelty of pushing the button and filling the tank up has not worn off
-There is no giant barrel of slightly nasty water hovering over people when they are at their most vulnerable
-Said giant barrel is not blocking the natural sunlight in the toilet

-It's a bad system for Shabbat
-Is this putting more strain on the pump?
-Despite its ease, it is not an automatic system; rather than flushing and having the water refill the tank automatically, the person going to the toilet still has to refill the tank for the next usage. I don't mind, but i think some guests will be weirded out by that...

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Apartment Grey Water: A (Frustrating) Work in Progress #2

The idea is pretty simple. Every time you flush your toilet, the tank refills with fresh water from a tap connected to the wall. Rather than using fresh water to refill the tank, a bin filled with greywater would be the source. Nothing high tech. After all, a tap is basically water spraying out of your wall--and the tap just temporarily stops the stream of water (that's why you have to turn your water off before doing any plumbing, like changing a tap). So the bin full of water connected to the infeed hose is basically the same concept. If we were to disconnect the hose from the bin, water would just stream out the bin.

There is a window above my toilet overlooking the area where the washing machine sits. I figured that window sill would be a great place to install the bin full of grey water. I got a 60 litre bin, whose dimensions fit the window, but it needed some trimming. The handles had to go.
Much to my frustration, so did some of the bulk of the circumference. My friend, Noa, who sews, had given me a piece of tailor's chalk, which turned out to be a life saver for marking the pieces for cutting.

The main thing was installing the threaded plastic piping bit which would attach to the intake valve. CIMG1003
After measuring the circumference, drilling loads of little holes, and then cutting out the waste, the tap was ready to be installed. I also grabbed a bit to go on the inside of the bin, even though the dude at the garden centre said i didn't need it. I was expecting to have to use teflon and to break out the silicone, but it really wasn't necessary. CIMG1004

The tap went on pretty well, though the wrench did help to tighten it up a bit. Here is a shot of the inside of the bin. The nasty sediment i left in there as i figured i would just make a mess during the assembly. I figured wrong, thankfully, but sorry about the nasty shot! That round thing that looks like tape is the teflon, by the way...

I know there are probably not enough photos about how this bin is going to be situated, but i think it will become clear as we progress. Below is a photo of the white intake tube--you probably recognise it from your own toilet--attached to black tap connected to the bin.
Again, it's a simple idea which substitutes the bin for the wall. Anyway, i knew that i would probably have to build a little base for the bin, as the windowsill was quite narrow and not the most even surface upon which to balance 60 litres of somewhat nasty water above people who have their trousers round their ankles. But i just wanted to see if it would work. So i attached the infeed tube to the toilet tank and to my bin, which was balanced on the sill. i filled it a bit, and low and behold, the water trickled into the tank and when it was enough water, the ball and valve cut the flow of water from the bin. The problem was that this took ages. I needed more water pressure, ie, more water. Well, the bin had balanced ok thus far, so why not fill it some more? I did, and all seemed to be well, until i decided i wanted to have a peak inside the bin to watch what was happening. Now, of course, i am kicking myself for this, because:
1. Of course the bloody idea worked! Why test it out before everything is set up?!
2. Why test it out again?!
3. Why the hell would you look inside the bin?! You know bloody well what's going on inside there--you don't have to see it!
But i wanted to.
And here's what happened just as i was in the throes of self congratulations.
Well, that was the most appropriate time for it to happen, i suppose. So it's back to the drawing board...

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Elul is Sponsored by: The Letter Yud, and the Colour Red

The Month of Elul according to the Sefer Yetzirah, and more articles (including the one below) can be found here.
Letter: Yud (י)
Mazal: Virgo (betulah, the virgin)
Tribe: Gad
Sense: Action
Controller: Left Hand

Elul is the sixth of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar (counting from Nisan).

It is called "the month of repentance," "the month of mercy," and "the month of forgiveness." Elul follows the two previous months ofTamuz and Av, the months of the two great sins of Israel, the sin of the Golden Calf and the sin of the spies.

The four letters of the name Elul are an acronym for the initial letters of the phrase in the Song of Songs (6:3): "I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me." "I am to my beloved" in repentance and consummate desire to return to my soul-root in God. "And my beloved is to me" with Divine expression of mercy of forgiveness.

This is the month that "the King is in the field." All can approach Him, and He shines His countenance to all.

Elul is the month of preparation for the high holy days of Tishrei. It is the month that Moses ascended to Mount Sinai a third time for a period of forty days from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Yom Kippur, when he descended with the second tablets of the covenant. These days were days when God revealed to the Jewish people great mercy.

In "small numbering," Elul = 13, alluding to the 13 principles of Divine mercy that are revealed in the month of Elul.

Letter: Yud (י)

yudbigThe yud is the first letter of the Tetragrammaton, G-d's essential Name Havayah, the Name of mercy. It is also the final letter of the Name Adnut, the Name which enclothes the Name Havayah to reveal and express it to the world. Thus, the yud is the beginning (of the essence of Divine mercy, Havayah) and the yud is the end (of the manifestation of Divine mercy, Adnut).

All created form begins with an essential "point," of energy and lifeforce, the point of the letter yud. The end of the creative process is as well a "point" of consummation and satisfaction, a yud. "In the beginning G-d created..." is the initial point; "and G-d concluded on the seventh day..." is the final point.

The word yud means "hand." Our sages interpret the verse: "Even My hand has founded the earth, and My right hand has developed the heavens," that "G-d stretched out His right hand to create the heavens and stretched out His left hand to create the earth." The right hand is the point of beginning; the left hand is the point of end.

In the above quoted verse, the left hand (referred to as "My hand" without any definite designation of right or left) appears before the right hand. This accords with the opinion of Hillel that "the earth preceded [the heavens]." The earth represents the consummation of Creation--"the end of action is first in thought."

The yud of Elul is, in particular, the left hand, the controller of the month's sense, the sense of action and rectification. This is the final point of Creation reaching its ultimate purpose and end, the yud of Adnut perfectly reflecting in created reality the yud of Havayah.

Mazal: Virgo (betulah, the virgin)

The betulah symbolizes God's beloved bride, Israel, the bride of the Song of Songs who says to her groom "I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me."

The word betulah appears for the first time in the Torah (and the only time in description of a specific woman) in praise of our matriarch Rebeccah, before her marriage to Isaac.

In Kabbalah the union of Isaac and Rebecca symbolizes the spiritual service of prayer and devotion to G-d. Isaac (Yitzchak, 208) plus Rebecca (Rivka, 307) = 515 = tefilah, "prayer."

In Chassidut the verse "I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me" refers, in particular, to the service of prayer of the month of Elul.

The "virgin" of Elul (Rebecca) gives birth (retroactively, with respect to the order of the months of the year) to the "twins" of Sivan (Jacob and Esau, the sons of Rebecca, as explained above). The first tablets, given in Sivan, were broken (because of sin). The second tablets, given to Moses in Elul (the month of repentance) are whole. Repentance is identified in Kabbalah with "mother" (in general, and Rebecca in particular). "Mother" is binah = 67 = Elul.

In Kabbalah, the "mother" remains forever (on the spiritual plane) a "virgin." In a continual state of teshuvah and tefilah her "ever-new" union with "father" never ceases--"two companions that never part." With the coming of Mashiach such will be the state of the lower groom and bride. ("Father" and "mother" correspond to the first two letters of Havayah --"the higher union"; "groom" and "bride" or "son" and "daughter" correspond to the second two letters of Havayah --"the lower union").

The betulah symbolizes as well the "virgin earth," the land of Israel destined to be married to the people of Israel, as the prophet declares: "As a young man marries a virgin so will your children marry you [the land of Israel]" (Isaiah 62:5). Here we see that the children marry "mother earth" who remains "virgin earth."

The earth represents the rectification of action, the sense of the month of Elul, as described above.

Tribe: Gad

Gad means "camp," as in the verse (the blessing of our father Jacob to his son Gad): "Gad shall organize [lit. camp] camps [army camps], and he shall return with all his camps" (Genesis 49:19). The special talent of Gad is to organize a "company."

The name Gad means as well "good fortune." It is truly the "good fortune" of Israel to be G-d's beloved bride, and this "good fortune" reveals itself through the means of our good deeds, especially those which are intended to rectify our blemishes and beautify ourselves, as a bride for her groom.

The "good fortune" of Gad relates, in Kabbalah, to the thirteen principles of mercy that are revealed in the month of Elul, in order to arouse the soul from its root (its "good fortune") to return to God.

Gad = 7. Gad was the 7th son to be born to Jacob. Mazal, the more common word for "good fortune" = 77. The middle letter of mazal is zayin = 7. When the two letters gimmel dalet that form the name Gad (= 7) are substituted for the zayin (= 7) of mazal, the word migdal, "tower," is formed. The verse states: "A tower [migdal = 77] of might [oz = 77] is the Name of G-d, into it shall run the tzadik and become exalted." In Kabbalah, the "tower of might" represents the bride, the betulah of Elul, the soul-root and mazal of the Jewish People. The tzadik, the groom, runs, with all of his might, to enter the "tower of might."

Sense: Action

The sense of action is the "sense" and inner "knowledge" that through devoted deeds of goodness one is always able rectify any blemished or broken state of the soul. This is the sense necessary for the spiritual service of Elul, the service of repentance and true teshuvah to G-d. The sense of action is thus the sense never to despair. This is the "point," the yud (of Elul), of Divine service. Without it one can neither begin (an act) or end.

The sense of action is the inclination to fix a broken object (to "save" a situation) rather than to throw it away.

In addition, the sense of action is the sense of organization and the sense of management of complex systems (as Gad, the tribe of Elul signifies "camps" and "company").

Of the letter yud of Elul it is said: "G-d with wisdom [the point of the yud] founded [rectified] the earth [the sense of action]."

Controller: Left Hand

As mentioned above, G-d stretched out His left hand to create the earth (and, as quoted above: "G-d with wisdom founded the earth" [Proverbs 3:19]).

The right hand (the more spiritual of the two hands, which creates the heavens--"Lift up your eyes and see Who has created these"--the inner, spiritual dimension of reality) controls the sense of sight, whereas the left (more physical) hand controls the sense of action.

The mitzvah (commandment of action) of the tefilin shel yad is performed on the left hand (the right hand puts it on the left hand, i.e. "sees" to its being performed on the left hand).

It is the left hand which touches the heart. This teaches us that all rectified action derives from the good emotions and intentions of the heart.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Apartment Grey Water: A (Frustrating) Work in Progress #1

We all know we ought to be more careful with water. In Israel, it's always been part of the culture to turn off the water whilst soaping up in the shower or brushing teeth, etc. And, I'm pretty proud that we're on the cutting edge of water technology. But there's still a huge water shortage. Jordan-our neighbour-is the fourth water-poorest country in the world! Thankfully, Knesset has passed a water tax, which has proven to decrease water consumption by 13.5%, which is a marvellous start. Click here for an English article.

With the month of Elul upon us, during which we focus on the concepts of rectification, or tshuva, we are afforded an interesting lens with which to look at environmentalism. Let me back up before i clarify. The idea of introspection and rebuilding actually begins in Av, a month marked by the mourning of the tragedies in Jewish history. Mourning these tragedies is a catalyst for introspection, which hopefully leads to an improved mode of existence. On Tisha B'Av, i watched The 11th Hour, feeling somewhat guilty, until i realised that it was quite an appropriate film for the occasion.
The message i took from it was that we need to acknowledge a problem, accept our responsibility, and solve that problem. Moreover, we need to seek the cause, and adjust our way of life--this is much of the thrust behind Elul. The Jewish people's division is the traditional reason for the destruction of the Temple. So, too, is our disconnect from the natural world, our fragmented existence, the cause of our eco-catastrophe. We see ourselves as quite outside of nature, and when we look at natural phenomena, it tends to be in a very localised, or isolated fashion. Mourning our lack of unity as a nation is a reminder to build bridges within our communities and to other communities. The Arava Institute harnesses the potential of environmentalism to repair ruptures that occurred between humans and nature and between different nations :

I guess it's fair to say that i have been thinking about what i can do to help the environment.Wow--it's so anti-climactic after discussing lofty concepts like fragmentation, rectification, unification, redemption, etc. I'm trying to come up with a way to reuse water to flush my toilet. There are a lot of DIY systems out there but many look like that old school board game Mouse Trap. In other words, too complicated to make by yourself, too much of a pain if you can, and most likely, expensive and unrealistic. Below is a cool system from Instructables. I'm going to devote a few posts to how my system evolves (hopefully it will) in the hopes that anyone who stumbles on this may be able to provide some constructive feedback or criticism. There is a guy called Craig Saunders who has a blog called Green Tenant--which has great suggestions for those of us who do not own our homes. And hopefully, with some feedback from you, we'll come up with some more suggestions together! Fingers crossed...

Monday, 17 August 2009

Jesus the Gingy 'Jew Boy' Joiner

Millais 1849-1850
Christ in the House of His Parents--John Everett Millais (1829-1896)

This painting, or rather the harsh criticism it received, was the catalyst for Ruskin's relationship with John Everett Millais, and pitted him against the Royal Society (people like Dickens who really liked Joshua Reynolds). Click here for his letter to The Times which established the relationship between Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites in the Victorian consciousness

Most woodworkers would probably admire the way Millais painted the shavings on the floor of Joseph's shop (with nary a handplane in sight...). In fact, Dickens did concede that 'it is particularly gratifying to observe that such objects as the shavings which are strewn on the carpenter’s floor are admirably painted.' However, Dickens did go on to make futher comments, which, while hilarious at times were not particularly generous to Millais. For the more complete text of his critique, click here.

Unfortunately, not all critics have an interest in woodworking, and many were certainly not impressed with the realism of Millais's carpentry shop:
But this painful display of anatomical knowledge, and studious vulgarity of portraying the youthful Saviour as a red-headed Jew boy, and the sublime personage of the virgin a sore-heeled, ugly, every-day sempstress, will in no way tend to the consummation so devoutly to be wished'--click here for the rest
To add insult to injury, the model for the virgin, or 'sore-heeled, ugly, everyday sempstress' was actually Millais's mother! Oh no he didn't!

Side note (or endnote, rather): After receiving a comment on previous post that an appended comic depicting Jesus as a carpenter may have been offensive to Christian readers (so far, no complaints) i went off in search of paintings which portrayed Jesus as a woodworker. This is the first instalment of some rather interesting results. 

Sunday, 9 August 2009

A Eugoogoly for Jack--On the Merits of a Clean/Organised Workspace

This #5 Stanley Bailey Jack plane managed to make it from 1918 until 2009. It had countless users before it was shipped from Connecticut to Cleveland and made the trans-Atlantic journey to Israel a few years ago. Ironically, i had been thinking, 'i should really figure out a storage solution for these planes instead of having them lay about.' Really?! It doesn't even matter what i was reaching for, does it? The bottom line is that i think i have more junk in the trunk than i realised and my ba-donka-donk knocked the poor plane over. I didn't expect to see the thing properly broken in half! Neither did Walt, who sold me my beloved #5--my first plane (my new Stanley block plane doesn't count), and who was the first one i told. Sorry if i was  bit hysterical, Walt. These pics are for you!  Got Verdomme!Of course, Walt was my saviour and found me a #5 from 1908, as well as a #7! For those of you who don't know Walt, click here. He finds the best stuff and he doesn't mind Newbies barraging him with questions (if he does, he is very polite and helpful). 
Anyway, lesson learnt. I guess. Damn! If only i had used that stupid Organising From the Inside Out book! But i can't find it...

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Johnson's Word of the Day

Dr Johnson's House for Hire

Once again, the literary and woodworking worlds intersect:
Today's word is 'oaken', or 'oa'ken'. Click here to check it out.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Shocking Shaker (pegboard) Organisational Skills

Shop Organisation
My old pine bed has been taking up space in my flat ever since i decided to save it in order 'to make something with the material'. I finally settled on putting it to use in order to get the place organised. So i started with a small part to organise some tools. The holes were already in the wall, so it was a matter of sizing and aligning the holes to the wall. It was particularly exciting, because i got much use out of my Ryoba saw. Ryoba It's basically a Japanese 2-in-1 saw. There is no spine, so the depth of cut is not limited, and they are very flexible and can be used for flush-cutting. They work on the pull and make fantastically fine cuts. Anyway, the idea for that little project was obviously inspired by Chris Schwarz's workshop (i am sure this is a common practise--though i didn't put mine over a window--but my exposure was through Schwarz). Shaker Pegboard  

I still had many pieces left, and decided to do a modern version of a Shaker Pegboard, pictured at right. Instead of wooden dowels, i used some pegs from Ikea. CIMG0962 Now my fashionable drug bag has a place of its very own! Actually, i could probably fill that thing up with all the drug bags my father has given to me over the years...

If you look at the photo of the Shaker pegboard, you may notice that there is a chair hanging from the rail (you'll have to ask the people at Fine Woodworking about the clock). Anyway, the Shaker practicality has been an inspiration to people dwelling in small spaces, and featured in Apartment Therapy last month--they came up with some pretty cool design ideas. I live alone and having 8 folding chairs gets in my way when i weekly indulge in my stereotypical Dutch practise of scrubbing the floor. 

CIMG0975So, taking a leaf out of the Shakers' book, i decided that the best way to get the chairs out of my way was to hang them up. To the left is a shot of four chairs hanging by the front door. There is an additional rack that holds two, elsewhere. 

 Not being sure of the stability CIMG0986
of the metal brackets under the weight of the chairs, nor of the length of the brackets to prevent the chairs from slipping off, i required a fairly simple solution from the hardware store--these mini brackets with cute little nuts and bolts. Now i don't have to worry about a chair slipping and clunking someone in the head!

One final thing--and perhaps an appeal to anyone out there who can explain this mystery to me: Whenever drilling into a wall, i am always super-cautious to avoid electrical paths. ShockingSo, you can imagine my shock (pardon the expression) when after placing all my dibbels to anchor the screws, and upon completion of mounting the board to the wall, i received a tingling sensation from touching one of the metal brackets! First i thought i had a weird nerve thing going on so i touched it again (brilliant, i know), and, being assured it was not my imagination as indicated by both the intense pain in my left arm and my tester, i decided to remove the screw attached to that bracket. As it became unscrewed, it stopped conducting electricity, but i felt more comfortable taking it out. I still don't get what happened, though. Maybe the screw went deeper than the dibbel and hit the electric supply?