Tag Archives: construction

Do You Have a Little Ninja?

No, this is not the lead in to the feel good children’s movie of the winter.  Although “A Little Ninja” could be a great children’s movie.  Rather, it’s a question I ask of anyone who has a child who loves American Ninja Warrior?

Does your child love Daniel Gil or name drop Jessie Graff?  My six year old does that and a whole lot more.  Does any piece of furniture of built-up area become some kind of obstacle?  My six year old has turned just about anything into a pseudo-parkour course.

Have terms like “flying squirrel,” “wing nut,” and “floating steps” become part of your everyday vernacular?  If so, you have a little ninja.

Thankfully the ninja craze has led to the creation of so-called ninja gyms throughout the country.  One class a week, however, is not enough for some little ninjas.  What to do?

If you live in my house that question is answered with trips to the lumber yard and a weekend spent tearing up an unfinished room in your basement.  Merry Christmas little ninja:


Rather than just bolt some eye hooks to the floor joists, which I do not recommend, I chose to build a pair of beams running the width of the room.  The span is just under 12’6” so the 2×10 is actually rated to carry the load.  A 2×8 probably would have been sufficient but I felt the extra strength provided by the larger lumber was worth the slight extra expense.  Once you are bringing home a pair of fourteen foot boards it is not really much of an additional hassle to go big.

The 2x10s span the entirety of the room without any additional support and are locked into place at either end in a load bearing wall.  At either end the 2×10 is supported by a jack stud and sandwiched between two other wall studs that run the height of the wall.  Four bolts through the entire thickness secure all of the boards together.  It’s a fairly beefy piece of construction:


In this configuration the setup is fairly stout but there is some wobble in the boards.  To alleviate this flex several 2x6s were attached between the 2x10s to increase rigidity. Here is what things look like along the length of the span:


It is difficult to tell from the pictures, but the 2×10 does not touch the floor joists above.  It is a free span.

To give you an idea of how rigid I can hang and swing from the approximate middle with little or no noticeable flex between the boards.  There is no noticeable flex I the vertical orientation.  Oh yeah, I weigh in at over 200 pounds so my 50 pound little ninja should be able to do regrips to his heart’s content.

A ninja gym is just not a ninja gym without some sort of obstacle.  To provide a multi-point training environment I installed monkey bars—eleven in total—at one foot intervals across the length of the span.  At one end the monkey bars—assembled from ¾” galvanized pipe—are attached to the beam with a pipe flange and at the other end a whole is drilled for the bar to pass through.  On the opposite side of the beam is a “hook” assembled from an elbow, nipple, and cap.  This will allow for the use of loose gymnastics rings to be hooked up and over in a favorite ninja obstacle:


The whole kit and caboodle is waiting for my son to “discover” his new ninja gym on Christmas morning.  Scratch that, a few days before Christmas morning because that day is reserved for skiing.


Friday Linkage 6/12/2015

Miles consume my thoughts. I have set some ambitious personal targets for miles ridden on my bike this season and I have already started viewing each ride as a percentage of that goal. It’s kind of sick and awesome at the same time.

On to the links…

No More Beer, Chocolate or Coffee: How Climate Change Could Ruin Your Weekend—Ruin my weekend? This will ruin my everyday ritual. People need to understand the broad implications of climate change.

Renewables Reach Highest Share Of U.S. Energy Consumption Since 1930s—From 2001 through 2014 renewable energy—driven by wind, solar, and biofuels—grew by 5% per year compounded annually. Every step is a step forward to a fossil fuel free future.

As Arguing Against Climate Change Action Gets Harder, the Naysayers get Louder—Here is when you know something is in its death throes. When the most ardent supporters of a contrarian opinion are forced to get louder in order for their views to be heard then the tide has turned decisively against their beliefs. No one will lament the death of the climate changer deniers.

10 years post Katrina – Where have you gone, Mr. Go?—Hurricane Katrina was a natural and national disaster. The impacts were made worse by poor leadership and inept bureaucracy. In the aftermath some good has come out of the storm. The destruction of the Mississippi River delta is now viewed as a catastrophe that made the storm’s impact worse. Efforts are underway to correct some of the misdeeds of our past.

The U.S.’s Biggest Coal Company Can’t Pay To Clean Up Its Own Mines—Who do you think will get stuck with the bill? The American taxpayer. Free market my ass.

Coal: Black Moods—Do you want to know why coal is dead? As the article states the market cap for the four largest American coal companies was $22B in 2010. Today it stands at $1.2B. Chew on that decline for a moment. SolarCity alone has a market cap of over $5B.

Why Haven’t Cities Covered Their Buildings in Solar?—I wonder this every time I see large municipal buildings in sunny locales. I also have this same thought when flying over acres of distribution centers around airports that have roofs just primed for massive solar projects. Between parking lots, warehouses, and city buildings there is more than enough square footage to keep installers working steady for years.

Fueled by Growth in the Residential Segment, U.S. Installs 1.3 GW of PV in Q1 2015—Take a look at this graph for a moment:


Now, remember that these are discrete quarter numbers, not cumulative, so each quarter adds to the prior quarters to create total installed capacity. Once installed these panels are generating clean power for the next twenty five years or so.

State-By-State Plan To Bring US To 100% Renewables By 2050—100% renewable energy seems unattainable because someone in one state does not understand how solutions from another state are not relevant, but that another technology fills the gap. It also does not help that states are hamstrung by rules written by power companies and powerful lobbying interests to keep old generating schemes in place. There is, however, a path forward.

Minnesota 1st To Require EV-Specific Electricity Rates Statewide—EV adoption will only occur faster if programs like this can be rolled out to more customers across the U.S. As second and third generation EVs become available in the market it will be the ancillary impacts of owning an EV—charging, maintenance, etc.—that will go a long way to determining success or failure.

The Future of Construction Techniques—How we build things, both in terms of the methods and materials used, have a major impact on the embedded energy of a building and the total energy costs over the lifetime of the building. The future of building is coming:


The Amazing Truth about Costco’s Organic Food—Costco is the nation’s largest retailer of organic food. Not Whole Foods. Not WalMart. People may complain that it is dirty capitalism sullying the organic name, but we are talking about billions of dollars of sales going to a sector that was niche not much more than a decade ago.