Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Burning Down the House

[This is a slightly updated version of a msg i wrote to the Twin Oaks ex-members e-list about the varnish spraying building which burned down on anniversary night. The building is called Oz, part of the Over the Rainbow theme for the naming of our industrial park on campus, which is called Emerald City. No one was hurt in the blaze.]

Dearest Clan:

i am glad Oz burned. It is absolutely a hassle that we lost stretcher inventory, the capacity to spray varnish chair frames and our drying station for oiled stretchers. This will be headachy to fix/replace.

And this is the kind of thing the community can rally behind. The building itself was insured and the initial meeting with the insurance representatives look favorable and we will cover the cost of reconstruction.

The building lost 3 of its four exterior walls. The two current theories about how the fire started are 1) That it was a lightning strike before a large and fairly fierce storm we had with near by lightning. 2) That lindseed oil rags were improperly disposed of and combusted (this is Woodys theory). The second theory has been discredited by the area manager Roy, who said there were almost no rags there at the time of the fire.

The local fire folk were fast. But the building was a tinderbox, filled with saw dust, lindseed oil and wood frames. We were certainly lucky. Arthen has already agreed to run the clean up crew. He is, in my never humble opinion, a hero looking for a mission, this may well be it. Trout has already gotten a temporary varnish spray station [which was the

It points out that we have an insufficient fire warning system. Smoke was spotted by ex-member Darwin as he was going past on Old Mountain Road, but Shakti would have discovered it moments later for she heard a blast from the area and was already investigating. Apparently we have a fire alert system, which had been disabled, because malfunctions were causing it to call all the phones on campus reporting fires that were not there.

Besides the possible insurance, it is good for the community to rally around a problem that has no member responsible for it. The equipment in the building was quite old, and the ventilation could certainly be better.

Rob Jones rough ballparked a new building of with a 40' X 40' footprint made out of cinder blocks, with the proper venting system in place and the rest of the industrial utilities (including compressed air and 220 voltage) would run on the order of $20K. With a compressed construction time Hale and White could do it in a month. Rob and i talked about using Oakers on cinderblock - he was unimpressed with the idea and thought it would slow things down unacceptably. But we may try harder to cut this corner - or potentially someone internal will spet forward and honcho the reconstruction/replacement job and then we wont use H&W at all and save a bunch of money - i dont actually recommend this path - but no one ever accused me of being financially conservative.

The managers at EC were already talking at the party tonight about expanding the number of people who work at EC in the short term to increase production to replace lost inventory of spreaders and chair frames. This will have the added benefit of training more members in an area where more help is needed. And now there is a sense of urgency to get us to do something.

I have also proposed we radically increase the cost of our hanging chairs from $169 to $250. [Hawina's more modest price increase to $199 was accepted by business management.] These are beautiful pieces, we put a lot of work into them and we have always sold them at a poor hourly rate. Why make them is the are low revenue? Chairs are for fairs. Having hand made, fine furniture like hanging chairs gets us into many fairs, it is more genuinely crafts than anything on a hammock.

The additional cost would more than cover the cost of having these frames vanished at another store. Sabine (who is on the hx biz general management team) and Trout (who manages Oz) seemed unimpressed with this idea.

And i think we are going to rally around this one. We are going to clear the on site relatively quickly, because it is a job well sited to having larger swarms of workers at. We need to pop out a design for a new building (Keenan is rumored to be on it already).

Not slowed down by the bad news, the party after anniversary was one of the best ever. Two different DJs independently decided to play Talking Heads "Burning Down the House"

Paxus in Tupelo
41st Anniversary

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