Unflipping the Gentrifence

There should be a word for when you’re doing something you know you shouldn’t be doing but you keep going anyways. How about we call that feeling “contemperroneous?” I was all up in the contemperroneous when, back in 2015, I put up a horizontal fence of the sort that’s popular in our overpriced LA neighborhood. Fences of this sort are known as “flipper” fences or gentrifences (as in gentrification). In the midst of building my own gentrifence I knew it was wrong even if it correctly signaled that we live in a pricey 100 year old shack. Kelly even wrote about it in a blog post entitled “Our Hypocricy revealed.”

Here’s a shot of me putting up that abomination:

Those shoes and the smug grin are equally horrid.

This December I finally got around to sending the gentrifence to the Gulag. While I was at it I rebuilt the entrance arbor at the bottom of our stairs. I cribbed both designs, with a few modifications, from the Southern Pine Association’s 1926 sales brochure “Beautifying the home grounds.” This pamphlet is part of the Internet Archive’s Building Technology Heritage Library, an essential resource for anyone interested in historical preservation.

I recycled all of the old gentrifence, but had to buy some more lumber to complete the project. To make the oddly shaped pickets, I used a combo of table saw cuts along with a jig for my jigsaw. Making jigs increases speed and safety.

I’m not entirely happy with the metal handrail but, since I had it already, I didn’t want to let it go to waste. It’s functional and I don’t have to paint it. I got a contemperroneous vibe while reattaching it but you if you don’t make any mistakes you ain’t human.

Boozing Bees

I had the privilege of attending Honey Love’s natural beekeeping conference this weekend and I hope to share some insights from the talks and conversations I had with other beekeepers, but I’m pressed for time this morning so let me just drop one tidbit that comes via Michael Bush. Bush mentioned that Cornell digitized the American Bee Journal from the years 1861 through 1900 as well as a lot of other old publications. Here’s an amusing an excerpt from advice column in the May 1900 issue of American Bee Journal:

Mr. Dadant:–Did you ever here of any one feeding whiskey to bees in honey, and is it true that it renders them bolder and causes them to try to rob other hives? About a week ago, a man who has three colonies of bees, told me that some strange bees were completely robbing one of his colonies. Today very probably the same bees were robbing one of mine, and I only have three. I stopt up the entrances, and that helped some, for my bees are quite strong.

I was told that when bees were fed whiskey in honey it makes them bold to rob other people’s bee. What is your opinion? ILLINOIS.

In the first place, one thing which we must establish before all others, is that the bees do not discriminate between the colonies which belong to their owner and other people’s bees. It looks as if it might be superfluous to mention this, but I have often heard the remark that Mr. So-and-So’s bees were robbing Mr. Somebody’s hives, just as if a man could “set” his bees onto another man’s apiary as bad boys “set” one dog onto another, or as some of our so-called civilized Christians organize a prize-fight. . .

I have never heard of strong drink being used in feeding bees, except in one instance. I remember reading in L’Apiculteur years ago, of an old time beekeeper having fed his bees with bread dipt in honey which had been mixt with a proportion of wine, to cure them of diarrhea early in the spring . . .

The beekeeper whose colonies are robbed by other bees, whiskey or no whiskey, can lay the blame on himself, and himself alone. A colony of bees in healthy condition and properly managed should fear nothing from robber bees, except by some accident beyond the control of the apiarist, such as the breaking down of combs by heat, or the upturning of the hive by wind or mischievous animals or human beings.

In this same issue, there’s an article about an attempt to reconcile the need to spray fruit trees with pesticide and the impact of those chemicals on bees. Another talk at the conference by Dr. May Berenbaum of Cornell, that I was only able to hear part of, looked at the history of the use of pesticides. Honeybees are a complex organism and their interaction with pesticides can often work in counter-intuitive ways, as Berenbaum showed in a study that proved that even fungicides, thought to be safe, can impact bee colonies. In over a hundred years of tinkering with chemicals and bees we’re still making stupid mistakes. In addition to that whiskey there’s a lot of other things we shouldn’t be dosing bees with.

Natural Beekeeping Conference this Saturday and Sunday


This weekend, January 18th and 19th I’ll be a part of Honey Love’s Natural Beekeeping Conference at USC. In honor of the memory of Susan Rudnicki, I’m going to discuss bee removal scams, corruption in bee academia and pesticide astroturfing campaigns among other incendiary topics that Susan tirelessly pursued for the sake of the bees she loved so much. I’m humbled to be a part of a roster that includes all of the knowledgeable voices in the natural beekeeping world:

• Michael Bush • Les Crowder • Dr. May Berenbaum • Sam Comfort • Michael Thiele • Laura Bee Ferguson • Rob Keller • Sarah Red-Laird •  Solomon Parker • Jacqueline Freeman • Noah Wilson Rich • Matt Reed • Amanda Shaw • Paul Cronshaw  • Ariella Daly • Anna Marie Despiris • Fonta Molyneaux • Erik Knutzen • Max Wong • Rob and Chelsea McFarland

If you’re interested in bees this conference is not to be missed. For more information head over to Honey Love.

Saturday Linkages: Cat Memes, Food Allergies and a Monteverdi Drop

How a cat named Smudge’s distaste for salad created one of 2019’s most popular memes

Why the world is becoming more allergic to food

No One Wants Your Used Clothes Anymore

‘Like sending bees to war’: the deadly truth behind your almond-milk obsession

DIY Rolling Umbrella Base

A 27-year-old Costco fan loves the store so much he got a logo tattooed and had a birthday party in the food court

Music break: Lamento della Ninfa by Claudio Monteverdi

Fixing a Door Strike Plate With Repair Realism

I’ve been struggling to find a word or phrase for those many times, especially in an old house, when you just resign yourself to a repair solution that just kinda works without fixing the underlying problem. I’m thinking of calling it “repair realism” as a nod to Mark Fisher’s idea of capitalist realism (the sense that we can’t imagine a way out of our current mess and we’ll just have to accept it).

We’ve got this door that moves up and down with the seasons. Sure it would be great to repair the foundation and beef up the floor joists. But since the hasty builders who slapped together this bungalow a hundred years ago didn’t bother to give us a basement or even enough of a crawl space to access the foundation, those structural repairs ain’t gonna happen.

So to make less tedious the yearly task of adjusting the strike plate of the door so that the latch bolt will go into it, I came up with a “repair realist” solution: just notch the damn strike plate so that you can move it up and down. Then all you have to do is loosen the screws rather than have to drill new holes or worse, have to repair the holes before you can drill them again.

Strike plates are a kind of security theater anyways. They don’t really do anything. One meek kick to the door and the strike plate will break away. Why even bother with them? I suppose they keep the wood from getting rubbed away by the latch bolt but they don’t do much else.

While we’re at it we need to find a clever solution for doors that swell and contract. One of the signs of spring here is neighbors hiring people to cut down their doors. We should have doors with tops and bottoms that extend and contract. Much of the knowledge of furniture making relates to how to allow for seasonal wood movement so that your table or cabinet doesn’t pull apart between the cold of winter and the heat and humidity of summer. Consider the repair realist notion of adjustable doors as a downmarket idea related to cabinetry’s more lofty methods. To paraphrase über-realist ghoul Margaret Thatcher, “There is no alternative.”