16 Random Thoughts on the First Day of Building Science Summer Camp

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building science summer camp 2011 cigar table day 1

Well, my first day of the 2011 Building Science Summer Camp, officially called the Fifteenth Annual Westford Symposium on Building Science, has come to an end. It's been a great day up here in Westford, Massachusetts, (right next to Chelmsford, in case you're wondering) hanging out with a bunch of building science geeks and nerds, and yes, even some dorks, too.

Here are 16 random thoughts on the day.

  1. Michael Blasnik is The Man! I got a chance to talk with him two or three times during the day, and his combined knowledge of building science, computer programming, and data analysis astounds me. The ultimate nerd! We had an interesting discussion of standard deviation of the mean versus modified box plots.
  2. I could listen to Gary Nelson talk all day about testing for air leakage. He's the co-founder of The Energy Conservatory, maker of the Minneapolis Blower Door and Duct Blaster.
  3. One of Nelson's slides said that log-log plots of cfm50 vs. pressure difference are "tedious, largely a waste of time, but part of the show to impress clients." The reason: Using a power law to describe the relationship is not correct. Take that, all you multi-point Blower Door testers!
  4. Joe Kuonen is one of the most colorful guys in the whole building science/home performance community. How many people do you know who can talk about static pressure and play the accordion?! And wear a really silly cap with fake fur on it!
  5. I had no idea so many white males would be here! If I'd known it wasn't a shangrila of beautiful women and multicultural diversity, I...I...well...OK, I'm lying. I knew.
  6. I kind of wish I were into cigars becuase they sure have a lot of Cuban cigars (photo above) available to anyone who wants to puff away on them. And many do. (I hear they're totally legal, though, because the Cuban tobacco was grown here in the US.)
  7. I'm happy to expand my horizons with Joe's selection of single malt Scotch whisky at the bar. Oh, yeah, all of the food, cigars, and drinks are included in the price of admission. What a deal!
  8. Joe (as in Joe Lstiburek) dominates Summer Camp with his aura more than with his words and his actions. He's created a wonderful atmosphere for many of the best minds in the world of building science to gather, share, argue, and have fun together.
  9. Terry Brennan is amazingly smart and funny. My favorite line, I think, was near the end of his talk when Joe told him he was about out of time. Speeding through a bunch of slides as he raced to the end, he announced, "This is the subliminal part of the talk."
  10. Stephen Davis (@EFL_Guy) and Justin Jones (@ijustinj) totally got me with this tweet: "We. Must. Concentrate. On. This. Intense celebs at #bscamp http://twitpic.com/5zg466." I couldn't wait to see who they'd taken a picture of - Joe L.? Joe K.? Alex Wilson? Martin Holladay?
  11. I love the level of science knowledge in this crowd!
  12. Dick Kornbluth is a totally cool elder statesman in the home performance community!
  13. It's great meeting people IRL (in real life) for the first time when you've known them only virtually. Today that was Dan Morrison, Armando Cobo, and Bart Bales.
  14. Michael Blasnik has an interesting little two-step dance he does constantly when you're standing around talking. He's one of those high-energy guys who loves to talk about data, and I think he does this pacing because otherwise, the pent-up energy might eject downward through his feet, sending him into orbit around the Earth. 
  15. Ed Voytovich is one of the funniest guys in building science. I don't recall what it was he said, but trust me, it was hilarious.
  16. I love being around people who know more than I do, and there are a lot of them here. I get stuck on ideas sometimes without having enough data or experience to really defend them, and then someone like Gavin Healy comes along and upsets my nice, organized little apple cart. It's great!

Well, it's almost 2 am, and I really must finish this and go to sleep now, so I can get up and get in another full day tomorrow.


Lisa Fahay

Excellent roundup, Allison! Sounds like you're in heaven. btw, will you have Peter @EnergyCircle call home sometime? guess he's enjoying himself too! ;)

Allison Bailes

Lisa: Thanks. Yeah, I'm loving it! (I just showed Peter your comment.)