Backup JMR20160423: Economics 101, a Novel, ch_28 -- Planning the Hut

[This is a backup of the original. I found I needed to correct some of my description of bamboo, and decided to rewrite some while at it. The current version is at]

(The story starts here:
The previous chapter is here:

For us, Tuesday seems like a busy day, but they are not paying attention to the time. It's still early evening, and Karel is very interested in the problem of building a hut.

Karel drew in the sand and said, "If we could drill one inch holes in the big four inch bamboo stems ..." 

"... we could insert the one-inch stems in them and get a grillwork something like this:"

And Bobbie said, "That's nice. What's it for?"

"Well, floor, walls, roof, ..."

"Looks to me more like a ladder or the window of a jail. But, I guess, if that's the floor, walls, and roof, the hut will be well ventilated."

"Okay, make fun of my ideas."


"I'm thinking we could weave banana leaves into it or something."

"How do we drill the holes?"

"Use one of the one-inch stems."

"I don't see how."

"Push the small stem against the big one and rotate it."

"How long would it take?"

"I don't know. We could probably speed it up with sand, though."


"Wet the end of the small stem and stick in the sand every few minutes."

"It still sounds like we're going to get a lot of blisters in our hands a long time before we get the hut built."

"Okay. So it's not such a good idea. The banana leaves aren't necessarily going to be much good in a storm, either."

"What else can we do?"

"It takes even more of the small stems, but we can just line them up side by side on larger stems, like this:"

and lash the stems together. There'll still be gaps, but the gaps will be smaller and we can fill them with clay or something on the roof. Or, if we lash banana leaves over that, they'll be less likely to be blown off."

"Clay? Is there clay here?"

"There was clay by the artesian lake. There's probably more clay and a better kind around the upper lake, but there's also probably mosquitoes, spiders, and maybe even snakes. Standing water."

"You think that's why we didn't feel good about going there?"

"That's kind of what I'm guessing."

"Making all that rope is going to be hard on my hands, too. Oh, well. I don't have to worry any more about what my date will think of my hands."

"Sorry about that." Karel took Bobbie's hands and kissed them. "But this date will think the world of your hands, anyway."

"I guess I'll survive," she said with a laugh. "Give me my hands back. The floor's going to be kind of bumpy, isn't it?"

"The bedrolls will help, but if we need to, we can fill the cracks in the floor with clay or maybe hemp leaves or something."

"What about where the walls and the floor meet?"

"We'll lay a medium sized stem across the floor stems where they poke out, and tie the wall stems inside that, standing up vertically, to better support the roof." And after a bit of drawing, he had something that looked like this as an overhead view of the floor:

After a bit more drawing, they had a side view with sections of the big bamboo set in triangulation for the standoffs, so that the floor would be off the ground for better circulation and to let the rain wash under the hut.

And they had a basic idea of how to make and how the roof would be two panels set in a peak, with plenty of overhang for shade.

And they figured out how to frame the windows with medium sized stems for roof support, and how to construct window covers to keep the storm out.

Then they started worrying about a question of economy and ecology.

"How many bamboo stems is this going to take? Do we have enough? Will it kill off that stand of bamboo?"

"Hmm. Eight feet across is 96 inches, so it's going to take about a hundred stems for the floor, for each wall, and for each half of the roof. Seven hundred one inch stems."

At which point, they got up and hiked the five minutes to the stand of small bamboo and checked the sizes and the number. They measured out a square about two paces by two paces and counted thirty-seven stems. Then they counted three more such samples, and got an average of about ten stems per squared pace.

They paced off the stand and found it to be about thirty by seventy paces, which adds up to about 21,000 stems.

"Maybe we'll have enough for one hut, without damaging the ecology."

"Karel, why do you call them stems, instead of culms or posts?"

"Would you rather I call them culms?"

"Yeah. ... No. ... Never mind. It's getting dark, and we don't have any supper cooking."

So they went back to camp and got started with cooking supper, not going to the sea for protein because it was so late.

After they ate, they said their prayers. Then they rolled out their bedrolls with the tent between them.

"I forgot to read any scriptures today." Karel said from his side of the tent.

"Same here."

"Should we get out a candle?"

"That would be romantic, but how're you going to light it?"

"Coals are properly put out, flint won't work on a candle. Should we waste a match?"

"Oh, ... We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost."

"Okay, that works for scripture. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgressions."

And they took turns reciting the Articles of Faith.



"Do we have anything to do with the gathering of Israel out here?"

"I have no idea. I suppose God will do something with us in that direction eventually."

(The link to the next chapter will be here when it's ready.)

(The chapter index is here:

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