Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fun With Insulation

What's not to love about pink fiberglass insulation? To begin with, it's pink. It's nearly impossible to work up a good macho when you're carrying something huge, fluffy and pink around, no matter how hard you try. If the home improvement gods had wanted insulation to be taken seriously, they wouldn't have made it pink.

We recently -- a year ago -- installed a bunch of insulation into our kitchen walls. California code says that all exterior walls, even those that once had windows looking out onto the street but had houses slammed up against them 26 years ago, must be insulated. So during our kitchen remodel, we tossed a bunch of the pink stuff in there.

Yes, I was slightly put off at first, having anticipated raising my pathetic macho quotient by hauling several hundred cubic feet of insulation around Home Depot Pro, but my disappointment evaporated when I slashed through the plastic of the first package.

Pink fiberglass insulation, it turns out, is the adult equivalent of the small tablets that, when tossed into a bowl of water, expand into small animals. You get nothing as cool as say, a pink tiger -- or elephant, us being adults and all -- but seeing the insulation expand to 50 times its original size is pretty cool. I had to run and get the Jawa after opening the first bag.

And it doesn't just explode out of its bag, immediately expanding to maximum size. Instead, it expands slowly and consistently, gradually arriving at its huge pink fluffiness. And when you've been spent the past 72 hours standing witness to your own fixit incompetence in the presence of your contractor father-in-law, it's nice to see him reminded that pink fluffiness is an integral part of his manly world.

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to accurately predict how much pink fiberglass insulation you will need for a specific job. In our case, we were left with about 10 large, tofu-like chunks of it, which we stored downstairs, underneath our front stairs. Which are about to topple over due to dry rot, and therefore leak badly. I checked on the insulation a few months ago, only to find it soggy and dirty, like so much abused cotton candy.

I made it to the end of the seventh paragraph before comparing it to cotton candy.

"This stuff has to go," I said, and then reminded myself every time I had reason to go underneath the stairs. Finally, today, given my freedom from my collapsing career in real estate, I resolved to take the insulation, along with about 8 open house signs ("A-frames," in the trade) to the Colma dump.

My crazy neighbor may have proclaimed himself the "king of flashing," but I proved today that I am the Richard Henry Dana of pink fiberglass insulation. I"m sure that each and every car driving slowly down my street was impressed as I flung chunks of insulation down to the sidewalk. Then, having created an ephemeral pink landscape in front of our house, I loaded each piece into the Acura, attempting to return them to their original size.

Once again, I return to my original thesis: how fun is pink fiberglass insulation? Really fun, I thought, each time I looked into my rear view mirror and saw the wall of pink. Equally fun, I reiterated as I transferred the load to the Subaru, which was parked at S. Bullock's place of business.

And how absurd, I thought, to see the gruff old guy at the Colma dump consider my unabashadly pink cargo and say, "It's all insulation?" No, sir! It's also the decaying totems of another misguided career attempt! I've got A-frames in there too, mister!


I drove up the hill and parked, opened the hatch. The insulation sproinged out, revealing the a-frames. Other dump guys eyed the insulation. "It's got to be usable," they thought. "That guy's wasting a bunch of good insulation."

And then came the a-frames. Originally I had considered leaving them randomly around San Francisco, each pointing to a non-existent open house, or using the small chalk board on each to write non-sequiters. "Crunch our New Nachos!" I would write, or, "Consider yourself warned." But I was too lazy or too scared, or just not the kind of guy who's cool enough to actually do something like that. Somehow, they would be traced back to me. Instead, I took them to the Colma dump.

I flung them into the mounds of garbage, each one going higher and further than the last. A-frames 6, 7 and 8 did insane cartwheels in the air, exploding on impact. Someone will take them and use them for scrap or firewood.

After the final one, I clapped my hands together and said, "Well, that's that." I stood back, looking at my twisted pile of wood and fiberglass. My shirt was covered with sparkly pink fibers. If I'd had cut my sleeves off and added a headband, I would have looked like the token bald member of Loverboy.

Worse yet, tiny fibeglass slivers were embedded in my arms. "Be careful," the always-pragmatic Sandra Bullock had warned, "you'll get all itchy." Itchy would have been fine. This was not itchy.

But it's okay. As long as I don't have to wear long sleeves for the next few weeks, it shouldn't be a problem. A few, okay, a hundred or so, fiberglas slivers in your arms are a small price to pay for having enjoyed all of the wonderful benefits of pink fiberglass insulation.

This is how I celebrated Flush Puppy's 39th birthday. I think on her end she's getting a new tattoo or something. I know that's what her husband, Butter Goats, will be doing to commemorate his 40th, which was yesterday. I think for my 40th I celebrated by changing my cholesterol medication from Lipitor to the generic version.

Finally, I happened to pass by Mr. San Francisco today on his way to pick up his new, slightly used Honda SUV. This is great news for all of us, especially Zin Gal, who can take some comfort in knowing that she will no longer be the only carpool candidate with three rows of seats.


Blogger Bud and/or Marsi said...

link much?

7:34 PM  
Blogger Bud and/or Marsi said...

that fiberglass can stick in you for days. i've installed ceiling fans in our house in the middle of the summer....that means going in the attic, during the day. easily 135deg+. it's been 4 years since the last one and i still have itches in weird places.

how fun is the dump? i love that place. sometimes when it is cold and rainy i'll find any excuse to go there so i can use the 4wd on my truck. i love stinky mud.

10:34 PM  
Anonymous flush puppy said...

Butter Goat can barely be separated from the new, much-feared Xbox 360, but yes, more tattoos soon. That's pretty much all we do in Seattle -plan the next tattoo while high on coffee. And Hales. Oh sweet Jesus - head Butter Goat just spoke lovingly to the Xbox...

10:36 PM  
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tell me you didn't love the pink panther link, and i'll tell you you're lying.

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Blogger Jameel Johnson said...

Pink insulation. In Burlington insulation comes in other colors too I'm pretty sure, but a pink tiger might be cool. I need to check out this insulation that you bought. Sounds fun to install.

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