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Against Expertism
The Saga of the Brick Mouse and the Ditch House: 10/24/21
This past spring, visiting the Brick Mouse in North East Baltimore, in the old orchard region where I lived at six different addresses over some 45 years, we had finished our sparring session—the five of us—and before Manny and I drove off to Jersey to that strip club in the sky, the Brick Mouse declared that he was digging an extra French drain, away from his house, around the patio. His house had a French drain against the foundations that was over loaded with drainage and the two sump pumps could not keep up with the flow load during the spring rains and autumn storms.
Before leaving that Spring I promised to help dig when I came back in summer, having done plenty of ditching out west. I had also been a 17-year home buyer in the same area and had done various digging projects at that house, built some 2 miles away but on the same old orchard ground. The soil there is about a foot deep and then hits two feet of clay. The water sinks to the clay and then seeks lower ground and plunges down, in between the block and clay of the nearest lowest basement.
It was clear, with a culvert in the south [uphill] and to the east [downhill], with the front street [downhill] to the north and the neighbor's house [uphill] ten feet higher to the west with no intervening culvert to take that flow from up south and west to down north and east before hitting his house foundation, that all we had to do was dig a culvert from south to north and make it asthetically appealing. This could not be done with clay pipe, steel grates and concrete culverts as had been done on the south and east some 70 years ago [an act that sparred the house below to the east and did not help this house] for some 15,000K, but needed to be done like a french drain. This would take us done below the frost line 32 inches well into the clay, where a perforated plastic pipe would be laid on a bed of wash rock laid on landscaping fabric.
The Brick Mouse asked me if this would work. Looking at the ground I told him that I had done such a ditch, thrice, on three different properties in Washington State, during torrential rains, and that even without pipe, with just wash rock fill in a ditch, I was able to divert water. Clay soil made it very easy, as water will flow through soil or especially rock before trying to penetrate clay, which sheds water.
No problem. It was just a matter of digging.
I ended up digging the first third and he did the second two thirds.
But first, most of a third in, came the neighborhood expert, George. George was the local home improvement guru, with his own business. He stopped by and informed the Brick Mouse that I was out of my gourd and that the only way to do this was against the foundation. The Brick Mouse told him that he already had such a traditional french drain and that it could not handle it, not even with two sump pumps.
George the invalidator left shaking his head and I assured the Brick Mouse that gravity and the lazy remorselessness of water was on our side.
The entire neighborhood was alert for his failure, but began respecting the insane guy that kept digging the trench that the old one-eyed hobo had been digging. Rob the neighbor no longer asked the Brick Mouse for money, as every time he saw him he was digging with a pick, mattock or shovel.
This was insanity! Manual labor is against American civics!
Well, I asked the young fellow how the unfinished gravel filled culvert in the style of the french drain was doing and he sent me this text”
“Finished digging and the went on overtime, then spent the last week trying to get [redacted]. So now I can get back to it. It's dug, but needs to be back-filled with stone. When Hurricane Ida came through, we didn't have to bail water, but we had a foot and a half of water in the bottom of the ditch. So it works.”
So much for George the Expert. I new he was wrong. There is not the labor pool necessary nor the home owner cash to do residential culverts for Baltimore City home owners like there was in the 1950s. So you just install a sump pump and hope, and then bail. This prick was gate keeping his business and had no experience in really dangerous flood areas. Flooding in this part of Baltimore, just ruins basements, doesn't wipe out houses like the house I saved in 2019 during a storm by spending 6 hours digging an emergency culvert by hand.
Again, in the American Mind, experience counts for nothing and expertise counts for everything.
I suppose everybody has forgotten the lessons of MMA, that black belts and trophies meant nothing and that fight experience meant everything. All that was remembered about that was that Royce Gracie won the first few events with his BJJ black belt. Nobody recalls how he was mauled by wrestlers and defeated in later, evenly matched events, when their experience crushed his expertise, and that the last 230 events have been won by experience not expertise in some certain art. Even witnesses of an event in this phony nation, will permit their perception of that event to be reformed in the hand of the reporters broadcasting after the fact.
Well, the Brick Mouse and his Bride won and George the Expert lost—reality intruded and for a moment on this post rational world, the cult of experts has been deservedly shunned.
I salute the Brick Mouse for not kneeling to the experts and working with his hands rather than doing nothing or going into debt because he could not afford to rent a massive machine.
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