OPEN HOUSE MAY 5, 2013: 11 am – 1 pm. There is a fascinating construction method. There is gorgeous and respectful restoration. And there is even a stone hidey-hole for when the… er… Native Americans came by to press their case for land claims or just to scare the pants off the pale people. This is living history, with modern comforts. Check out the video link below.

109 Lewis Hill Road, Newcastle, ME 04553. MLS # 1089834. $288,900

LHC big, plank house, hannah holmes, real estate, historic, newcastle, open house, antique house, cape cod, restoration, chip holmes


The Lewis Hill Plank House: the video:

For more info, call, e.mail, or send a letter by Pony Express, from … or facebook, or Google+, or whatever works for you!

(Yes, I usually conduct real estate over here ( but this particular subject is both cool, and human-sheltery, and… well, the real-estate web site can’t manage such glorious and large files. So I’m parking this amazing and wonderful house here.)

LH face

For legal purposes: Keller Williams Realty, 50 Sewall St. 2nd Floor, Portland E 04102. 207.879.9800. All offices independently owned.


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[[pd]] wikimedia 360px-Two_Kanak_(Canaque)_warriors_posing_with_penis_gourds_and_spears,_New_Caledonia, new guinea, amazon, penis size, prefer, sexual selection, copulatory, pressure, mate choice, intromittent organNature has produced an astonishing diversity of shapes and sizes for the male intromittent organ. In fact, if you included the hemipenes of lizards, the duck’s corkscrew, and spiky clubs deployed by some insects, you could make a neat poster along the lines of “The Doors of Ireland.” How did the human male end up with his particular appendage? Human females think it’s pretty, that’s how. Maybe.

That’s the proposition of a group that investigated what modern human females find attractive in a male.

Yep, a gang of guys, including one named Peters and another named Wong, showed female subjects oodles of naked-man images. They varied the height of the computer-generated men, and the shoulder breadth, and the size of the intromittent organ.

Which computerized guys would gals find most attractive? Does size matter?

If it does, the authors say, you could conclude that the human sperm-injection device actually evolved its particular size due to female “precopulatory sexual selection.” That is, prehistoric females tended to choose mates based on a visual appraisal of the copulatory organ. This would be possible because humans are unable to retract their penes the way snakes and whales can, and because boxers, briefs, and even penis gourds are recent innovations.

So, yeah, females definitely take penis size into consideration when they’re sizing up a naked male. A larger penis wins a male a higher rating for attractiveness. Not too large, mind you. A really large penis actually erodes a computerized guy’s visual value. So I suppose you could say that size matters in both directions.

HOWEVER, here’s why it’s probably not true that human females selected the ideal penis size: pnas, who's hot, avatar, penis, penes, genitalia, sexual selection, pressure, sex,intromittent organ

1: In other species, it’s generally an internal battle that determines shape and size of penes. Generally, females evolve mating parts that give them more control over whose sperm they use. Males respond by evolving penises that can defeat whatever barrier the female evolves. It’s the battle of the sexes, Sex Edition. Eg, it’s possible—probable, even—that the peculiar shape of the human penis functions to remove from the vaginal canal any sperm deposited by previous mates.

2: But also, this study queried only the women of Ottawa. I’m not saying it’s not a diverse city. But cultural preference have TREMENDOUS influence on what a person deems attractive. The ancient Greek sculptors long ago submitted a substantial body of evidence that smaller penises are actually preferred. So, when this study has been repeated in the mountains of New Guinea and the bogs of the Amazon, I’ll reconsider.

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r-value, wood, gypsum, thernal mass, radiant, radiative, convection, infiltration, fiberglass, celluslose, polyiso, foam board, insulation, blown-in, efficient, efficiency, green, building, pilgrims, physics, plank house, box house, plank construction, trees, old growth, tree farm, balloon, sheetrock, plaster, horsehair, wooden peg, nail, thermal bridging, I’ve been studying the R-value of wood. Specifically, how does an inch of wood compare to an inch of fiberglass or foam insulation? I ask because my brother is preparing to sell his “plank house.”

What is a plank house, you ask?

It’s old, for one thing. Gordon Bock, with whom I worked at Old-House Journal Publishing, tells me the plank house’s heyday was mid-to-late 19th Century, although settlers built them from day one, as did their European ancestors until they ran out of trees. Plank houses were quick’n’cheap, which is just what a cold’n’homeless Pilgrim needed.

For another thing, a plank house is simple. For settlers not schooled in the finer points of geometry and physics, a plank house was a reliable way of constructing a box that was unlikely to fall in on you.* (Plank houses are also known as box houses.)

And it’s… woody. Trees were more burden than blessing, once upon a time. Slabbing them out in three-inch planks, and then standing them shoulder-to-shoulder in solid walls, disposed of many irritating trees. The rough planks were covered with plaster inside, and clapboard outside, and voila: a solid house.

Like, solid. Musket-ball and arrow-proof.

When my bother polished up this single-family fortress, he added two layers of foam-board to the exterior, and clapboard over that. Inside, he re-plastered below the chair-rail, and left the planks visible above.

What, then, is the resulting R-value of these walls? I ask because I’m an e-freak — efficiency in all things.

Presumably the foam-board delivers at least the standard minimum for walls, R-13. (I’m not sure which version he used. Polyiso is R-7.2 per inch.) Wood clapboards add another 0.8. But those three inches of solid wood are harder to assess. And the low air-infiltration delivered by two solid materials should be substantial.

First, the solid wood: Hardwood flooring checks in at R-1.2 per inch. But that is young wood, still holding some of its earth-given water. The plank-house walls are perhaps 200 years old, and dry. Modern R-value tables simply don’t go there. After all, modern houses are simply not built with old-growth timber. But supposing an ancient 3-inch plank equals a modern, three-inch, tree-farmed plank, then it might deliver R-3.6.

(Is this getting long? I’m still TOTALLY interested, for whatever that’s worth.)

So: Perhaps the “wall system” of this updated plank house is in the 15 to 17 range.

But R measures only one thing: the amount of time it takes for heat to migrate through one inch of a material.

Heat that goes around that material is not factored in. If outdoor air can migrate through your soffit and the bajillion gaps in your vinyl siding, then through the rips and window gaps in your Tyvek, and past the joints of your fiberboard sheathing, then: It is freeeeeee as the breeze to proceed through your fiberglass (“filterglass,” efficiency freaks call it), then around an electrical box or window molding, and into your living room. Insulation is kind of pointless of you leave a million little ways for air to slip around it. R-values assume an outdoor wind speed of zero.

But the Plank House leaves fewer little ways for wind to enter. Its modern insulation is an air-proof variety; and its ancient insulation is, too. What’s more, its modern insulation eliminates the ookzillion “thermal bridges” that convey heat right past the insulation in modern construction.

(Thermal bridges: In most walls, the insulation is broken every 16 inches by a wooden stud. Hence those walls are R-13 for 15 inches, then R-5 at the stud; R-13 for another 15 inches, and then R-5 at a stud. Doorway and window framing makes thermal bridges you could drive a truck over. Someone slightly more maniacal than I could calculate what percentage of a building’s envelope is made up of these “thermal bridges,” and make us all feel quite dismal about our true R-values. My true hero would calculate the thermal bridging provided by steel nails, and contrast that with the wooden pegs that hold together the Plank House.)

And finally, we must — must — consider the issue of “thermal mass.” Heat, according to Physics, sinks into things; then begins to sink back out of them. The heavier the mass, the longer that cycle takes. A modern wall isn’t very massive. Heat sinks in and out of drywall and fiberglass and floppy pine boards pretty quickly.

But how quickly does heat sink into, and then radiate back from, a three-inch slab of slow-growth, dry, old wood? People who live in log cabins report that this process is slow, that the temperature is remarkably steady in those massive buildings.

Science isn’t so vocal on the subject, presumably because energy efficiency must always contend with time efficiency: Today, trees are scarce, and sawmills are surgical. Today, it’s more efficient to build an airy frame, and stuff it with lightweight materials.

But back when trees were plentiful and sawmills were crude, erecting a box of planks was the speediest way to build a shelter. Back when trees cast shade over your hungry cattle, you did not mind throwing a few more of them on the fire if the cold came creeping through the planks.


*Gordon Bock notes: “Believe it or not, there is also a horizontal-plank house construction method, where they simply stacked board after board on top of each other, flat side down, like logs. It’s a pretty inefficient use of wood (and not that stable), but where wood was cheap, it was done. I saw a garage built like this near Jackson, Maine.”

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algae, bloom, microplant, dissolved oxygen, suburban safari, freedom lawn, patriotic, lake erie, runoff, agricultural, Freedom Lawns are not a novelty where I come from: They result anywhere that people forgo the fertilizing and herbiciding and pesticiding of the mowed area around their house. They’re low-fuss, resilient, and cheap — like Mainers.

This particularly scary analysis of Lake Erie’s recent algae catastrophe suggests: As Maine goes, so (we had better hope) goes the Nation.

Some observations:

Algae generally love warm temperatures. It lets their chemistry proceed at a faster rate.

Climate change is causing warmer temperatures.

Algae love fertilizer. Phosphates are the meat-and-potatoes of the algae world.

When you dump fertilizer on your lawn, some of it always goes downhill with the next rain.

Climate change may cause rain to fall more often in some areas.

You can see where this is going: Downhill.

Down in Lake Erie in 2011, plentiful phosphate washed into the water. Moreover, the weather was particularly warm and calm. The phosphates drifted lazily at the surface, instead of mixing and dispersing throughout the water column. Algae like the surface of water: It gets more sunlight.


In the resulting bloom, the crop of micro-plants in 2011 hit three times any previous record. It’s not the kind of record one hopes to break. When algae die, their decomposition pulls dissolved oxygen out of the water, causing many other forms of lake life to suffocate.

If you have never had the pleasure of viewing a Freedom Lawn, you may see one at the Nation’s Capital. Both the Mall and the White House lawn have been set free of chemicals. The resulting diversity of their plants, as I noted in the book SUBURBAN SAFARI, makes a lawn into a gorgeous medieval tapestry. I find this much more interesting than the “1970’s shag carpet” lawns standard to neighborhoods outside of Maine.

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image“Personality” describes the difference between your response and my response to the same situation. This diversity ensures that our species will find a way through life’s various challenges. But it doesn’t ensure that we’ll all have a ball.

Much research now analyzes the linkage between personality and health. Impulsive people, for instance, are prone to injury. Anxious ones are vulnerable to heart disease.

And if we’re anything like monkeys, the meek are also the sickly. Monitoring a troop of captive monkeys, researchers tallied the number of times each individual was sick. They matched that number to each monkey’s personality rating.

Low “Aggressive” monkeys may avoid fist fights and monkey bites, but their bodies pay the price anyway. The meekest monkeys had the most frequent sick days.

Which makes the point: No personality type is perfect. Each has its drawbacks. But taken together, that diversity allows a species to get the job done.


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