Are you truthing?

That is a question that I have asked on numerous occasions. It allows the person being questioned, to focus on the positive, to discuss how a statement can be perceived as being true. I even confront myself with it, in those rare, passing moments, when honesty and truthfulness take command over my soul. Unfortunately, in many social situations, people focus on the negative, and ask: Are you lying?

Yesterday, (2018-05-16), former American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made what should have been unnecessary comments, that news media described as “a growing national crisis of ethics and integrity [that] has put American democracy at risk.” See:

There were, of course, many things that I did not understand in Tillerson’s speech to graduates of the Virginia Military Institute.

For example, Tillerson used the words free, freedom and related words as if they actually meant something. Unfortunately, no biological creature is free – at least on this plane of existence. They are bound by constraints, if only a need for nutrition and oxygen. So, I am unable to comprehend what Tillerson meant when he laments assaults on facts that would lead to a loss of freedom if not countered.

Perhaps you can help?

Task #1: Exemplify how an attack on a fact (of your own choosing), would result in a loss of freedom (again, of your own choosing).

Tillerson states, “Only societies able to pursue the truth and challenge alternate realities can be truly free.” The difficulty here is the assumption that every statement can be assessed objectively, that there is a truth. There are many alternate realities at play in American (and every other) society. Perspectives are tainted/ coloured by gender, age, ethnicity, educational background, social background and life experiences. Demanding that there only be one truth is an unrealistic goal.

It may be necessary to rephrase the initial question in this post, (Are you truthing?) with, How are you truthing? In order to understand why a person says something, people need to know something about their background, and why they react the way they do. There are a lot of different reasons why people say and do things, not all of which are morally acceptable.

What Tillerson did not seem to be saying, but which I believe should be said, is that society needs greater empathy, a greater understanding of what people need to have fulfilling lives. I am not convinced that Tillerson is aware that this means that people who are part of society’s “haves” must be willing to contribute more to those currently suffering as “have nots”. The most equitable way to do this is to provide poor people with more income (yes, money!), and to make many services to them free of charge. This has to be financed by raising taxes and prohibiting tax deductions.

Task #2: The following statement was said by Tillerson.

“When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth, even on what may seem to be the most trivial of matters, we go wobbly on America. If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society among our leaders in both public and private sector, and regrettably at times in the nonprofit sector, then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years.”

Reflect on this statement

A. What distinguishes a free person, from an unfree person?

B. What does “go wobbly on truth” mean?

C. Can there be multiple versions of truth? Yes, this is a rhetorical question, so please explain.

D. Is truth more important in American than elsewhere?

E. Should people be focused on only that which is happening in their own country, or is it better to focus on regional or world issues?

As a North-American boomer, I have been shaped by the religiosity of the 1950s. I would like to end this post with two images by one of the main contributors to this religiosity, Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), a person who has shaped my ideals.

Norman Rockwell 1943 Freedom of Speech. I don’t care for this painting because all of the major characters portrayed are male, and “white”. Where are the women? Where is ethnic diversity? One does not have to like a painting for it to have influence.
Norman Rockwell 1964 The Problem We All Live With. This one painting did much to rehabilitate Norman Rockwell in my eyes. It depicts Ruby Bridges, 6 years old, of African American heritage, on her way to William Frantz Elementary School, New Orleans, an all-white public school, on November 14, 1960.

Technological Risk

Distillation: Technological purchases are risk filled. Sometimes they are successful, other times less so. Two recent purchases have not been successful.

A Laptop

On Wednesday, 2018-05-15, my Asus E402SA laptop will be one year old. As I write this post, I am thankful for a second blissful period, during which the computer has evaded freezing. This normality has lasted now for about two weeks! This happened once before, for about the same duration. Then, just as abruptly as it started, the bliss ended with countless freezes and the machine has to be powered off by holding down the start button for thirty seconds, and restarted, at least once a day. Note: Sadly, just before this post was published, this second period of bliss ended.

This will definitely be the last Windows computer I will buy, in the hopes of converting it to run Linux. I am still tempted to buy a Chromebook, such as an Asus C202S and modify it to a Linux only machine, or buy a machine without operating system, such as a Multicom Talisa or Xishan.

Asus Chromebook C202S, with its big blue bumpers. It can be dropped in its operating position from a height of 1 200 mm and survive, or on edge from a height of 600 mm and survive. It is designed for multiple users in a classroom situation.

In contrast to the E402SA, Trish’s Asus Zenbook UX305C, running Windows 10, was two years old in February 2018. I have not heard a single comment about the machine failing in any way. It seems destined to be of service for a long time.

A Printer

Most printer manufacturers sell their home printers at below cost. The reason is that they hope to earn more money selling ink to consumers. I’ve calculated that it’s actually worth paying more for a printer that uses inexpensive ink.

One instrumental article on printers was written (in Norwegian) 2014-12-04, about 3.5 years ago.

It described the Canon Pixma MG-6550 as the best printer in this class for plain writing. It cost approx. NOK 700.

However, for photo use, it described the Epson Expression-Photo XP-760 as the best. It cost approximately NOK 1200. I decided to buy it because it was much faster than Canon for both scanning and writing. In addition, its photo quality was better.

Unfortunately, the Epson is very aggressive in promoting its inks, and does not appreciate people using generic products, despite them being legally allowed. The result has been a sharp decline in printing activity. Epson has also ensured that I will never again buy an Epson product, no matter how good!

Canon Pixma G3500 with Mega-Tanks. (photo: Canon)
My current thinking is to replace the Epson with a Canon G3500 (or equivalent). Using ”MegaTank” technology, Canon’s G series Pixma printers have ink tanks that are refilled from a bottle when they get low. This ensures that print costs are affordable. The down side is that the printer costs NOK 3 400. Because of this high capital cost, the printer will not be replaced immediately: Next year, or the year thereafter, will be soon enough. In the mean time we will save money by not printing anything but the most essential.
A Discussion
Part of the challenge of buying technological products is knowing what to expect. I don’t want vendor lock-in. I want to decide which operating systems, and printing inks, to acquire – and not have either of them determined for me.

Update 2019-12-30

The issues discussed in this post have been dealt with to my satisfaction.

Our current printer is now a Canon i-Sensys MF643 Cdw laser printer. This works adequately, and serves all of our paper printing needs. The Epson printer has been delivered in for recycling, and will never print anything again.

A Canon i-Sensys MF643 Cdw is meeting our paper printing needs.

An Asus Vivobook 14, with an AMD Ryzen-3 processor, has replaced the Asus E402SA, which has been recycled. The Vivobook 14 is running Linux Mint 19.3 Tricia with Cinnamon 4.4.6 desktop. This is not a particularly powerful machine, but it suits my needs.

For one year (2018-11-18 to 2019-11-19) I used an Acer Chromebook 11, which did not suit my personality. It has found a new owner.



Society cannot function without trust. Of course, this implies that there is such an entity as society. Not everyone accepts that there is. Former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013) stated in an interview in Women’s Own in 1987, “They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.”

Thatcher’s understanding of the world differs from my perception of it. However, she is not alone. I do appreciate that she was the first British prime minister with a science degree, which she regarded as more important than being the first of her gender. However, with only individuals optionally organized into some sort of reproductive unit, I am not quite sure how her world view could equip Britain to organize economic production, yet alone fight wars in the Islas Malvinas.

Her admiration for Friedrich Hayek, and his Road to Serfdom does fit in with her economic policies, including the imposition of a community charge ( a poll or head tax), first in Scotland, then in England and Wales, to replace the rates system based on the market value of one’s residence.

Thatcher’s economic policies emphasized deregulation, especially in the finance markets but also extending into labour markets accompanied with the reduction of the power and influence of trade unions, the privatization of state-owned enterprises from British Gas and British Telecom, even waterworks and atomic energy providers as well as railways  and airlines.

While Britain’s economy expanded under Thatcher, the prosperity of the rich was paid for by millions of working class people, with bitter social divisions. The City of London financial district reorganized, eliminating safeguards, but bringing riches to an elite. Yuppies, short for Young Upwardly-mobile Professionals, made huge bonuses in finance but contributed little or nothing to society.

Coal miners lost their jobs as mines closed, and were attacked by police if they went on strike. By February 1984, two million manufacturing jobs had been lost. Coal was increasingly imported from Australia, Colombia and Poland. Many power stations had converted to gas. Much of the railway coal transport had been replaced by small haulage contractors’ trucks. Power station workers and police had been given large pay rises just before the strike. For more information see:

Miner’s Strike 1984. An observer being attacked by police on horseback. (photo John Harris:

At times Thatcher appears to have modern values such as decriminalization of abortion and homosexuality. At the same time she wants to reimpose capital punishment.

From a trust perspective, Thatcher appears to have chosen to trust certain classes of people, such as bankers, but not others, such as coal miners. She trusts those close to her background, but is reluctant to trust those diverging from her personal experience.

It is left to the reader, as a personal and ungraded exercise, to examine the consequences of this failure to trust, and to draw lines to today’s situation in the US and Britain, with their isolationist policies.



Some people may get the impression that I spend my screen time reading  news at The Guardian and its alter ego, The Independent; learning French, German and sometimes Swedish at Duolingo; finding documentaries at or other videos at Zooqle or Veehd (Yes, I miss Richmond, BC based, Isohunt); as well as technological news at Slashdot (/.) and BC news at The Tyee .

Today, I’d like to suggest four other sites that I visit less often, but which have interesting approaches. These are, in alphabetical order: Aeon, Bella Caledonia, Ello and Kottke.


The most prominent characteristic of Aeon is their incessant quest for donations. Despite this, I like them because they do have thought provoking articles. They see themselves in more elegant terms:

“Since 2012, Aeon has established itself as a unique digital magazine, publishing some of the most profound and provocative thinking on the web. We ask the big questions and find the freshest, most original answers, provided by leading thinkers on science, philosophy, society and the arts.

Aeon has three channels, and all are completely free to enjoy:

Essays – Longform explorations of deep issues written by serious and creative thinkers

Ideas – Short provocations, maintaining Aeon’s high editorial standards but in a more nimble and immediate form. Our Ideas are published under a Creative Commons licence, making them available for republication.

Video –  A mixture of curated short documentaries and original Aeon productions.”

An example of their content is this video about Why racial segregation is a design feature, not a bug, of US cities.

Redlined areas keep foreign-born and Afro-Americans poor!

Bella Caledonia

Could an independent Scotland become yet another Nordic country? An attempt to answer that question keeps me reading Bella Caledonia, with its subtitles: independence, self-determination, autonomy.

“Bella Caledonia was formed in 2007 by Mike Small and Kevin Williamson as an online magazine combining political and cultural commentary. Bella is named after a character in Alasdair Gray’s Poor Things (1992). Like Bella we are looking for a publication and a movement that is innocent, vigorous and insatiably curious. Bella is aligned to no one and sees herself as the bastard child of parent publications too good for this world, from Calgacus to Red Herring, from Harpies & Quines to the Black Dwarf.

Poor Things is a remarkable book. Presented as the memoir of Dr Archibald McCandless, it describes his life and that of a colleague – Godwin Baxter. A monstrous proto-Frankenstein, Baxter performs surgical marvels, his greatest achievement being the (re) creation of life: he brings to life a drowned woman by transplanting the brain of the foetus she is carrying. The full-grown woman with the infant’s mind, is Bella.

In Gray’s story Bella is a metaphor for a nation.”

An example of their content is this article by Mike Small, Hostile Environment.

Bella, a symbol of Scotland.


Ello was mentioned in the same breath as Diaspora, as an alternative to Facebook.

“Ello is The Creators Network, a publishing and collaboration platform connecting and supporting a global community of artists. Founded in 2013 by a collection of artists & designers, Ello re-imagines the future of creative work by providing a contemporary forum and virtual workplace for artists, brands, agencies, publishers, and their fans.

At Ello we’re committed to advancing the intersection of art, creative opportunity and new media to inspire what only the internet has made possible. We believe that by empowering and rewarding today’s creatorswith visibility, influence and professional opportunity that we can embolden a generation of talent and transform the way creative work gets done.

Learn more about to see how we partner with brands, agencies and publishers to launch creative briefs and harness the power of real-time community collaboration.

Ello is a mission-driven Public Benefit Corporation committed to putting artists first.”

Here is a photograph, from Dark Beauty magazine:

Photographer/Stylist: Ksenia Usacheva 2018 Beauty Intoxication
Hair/Makeup/Model: Julie Demont


“Founded in 1998, is one of the oldest blogs on the web. It’s written and produced by Jason Kottke and covers the essential people, inventions, performances, and ideas that increase the collective adjacent possible of humanity. Frequent topics of interest among the 26,000+ posts include art, technology, science, visual culture, design, music, cities, food, architecture, sports, endless nonsense, and carefully curated current events, all of it lightly contextualized. Basically, it’s the world’s complete knowledge, relentlessly filtered through my particular worldview, with all the advantages and disadvantages that entails. has helped influence the design and format of social media on the web since its inception. In 2000, the site introduced the permalink as a deliberate design feature, now the atomic element of social media. has been cited in hundreds of books and academic publications and was one of the first blogs covered in major media like the New Yorker. In 2005, work on the site was 100% funded using a patronage model that anticipated services like Kickstarter and Patreon. The launch versions of both Gawker and BuzzFeed were partially based, in design and function, on The site has helped discover and popularize many emerging ideas and media forms, including tumblelogs in 2005, about a year and a half before Tumblr launched.

More recently, The Guardian named one of the 50 most powerful blogs in the world in 2008. In 2013, Wired Magazine asked me to write about for their 20th anniversary issue honoring the people, companies, and ideas that “have shaped the future we live in today”. Slate wrote a robotic blogger to see if the site’s output could be matched algorithmically. Time named me one of the 25 best bloggers in 2013.”

Yes, some bloggers see themselves as more important than others.

As an example of their content, I will mention this brief article about the merger of Essilor (“a French multinational that controls almost half of the world’s prescription lens business and has acquired more than 250 other companies in the past 20 years”) and Luxottica (“an Italian company with an unparalleled combination of factories, designer labels and retail outlets,” including Ray-Ban and LensCrafters). I do this because of my first RyanAir flight (to Sicily), two passengers immediately ahead of me were stopped at customs and fined for bringing fake Ray-Ban sunglasses into Italy.

Not just a big lens, but two gigantic lenses seach occupying millions of square kilometers!

Electric Car Charging

Everyone is on familiar terms with the watt, with the possible exception of American muscle car owners addicted to horse power. To help them enter a world free of fossil fuel, all they need to do is make a simple, if slightly inaccurate, calculation: 1 HP = 750 watts.

If one uses 1 watt for 1 second, then the amount of energy used is 1 joule (J). There are many other, but more confusing, ways to explain this energy transfer: the force of 1 (N) newton acting on that object through a distance of 1 (m) metre; (In electrical terms) the energy of 1 (A) ampere passing through a 1 (Ω) ohm resistor, with a voltage drop of 1 (V) volt, for 1 (s) second.

To be true to the SI system, the battery pack on your favourite vehicle should be expressed in joules, in precisely the same way that the power you purchase from your household electrical supplier, should also be expressed in joules. Instead it is expressed in an illegitimate kilowatt hours where 1 kWh = 3600seconds/hour x 1000 W/kW joules or 3.6 (MJ) megajoules.

The standard size of an EV is quickly approaching 60 kWh = 60 x 3.6 = 216 MJ.

The limiting factor in most houses with respect to charging, is the thickness of the electrical wires. In general wiring requires cable with the following characteristics: 10A = 1.5mm2; 16A = 2.5mm2; 20A = 4mm2; 32A = 6mm2; 40A = 10mm2; 50A = 16mm2; 63A = 25mm2. Electrical input to Cliff Cottage uses 230 V, 3-phase, 25mm2 wiring, which provides a maximum of 25 kW of electrical power to be used for everything and anything, including EV charging.



Details about charging EVs are contained in several standards, including IEC 61851 and IEC 62196.

IEC 61851 Electric vehicle conductive charging system specifies general characteristics, including charging modes and connection configurations, and requirements for specific implementations (including safety requirements) of both electric vehicle (EV) and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) in a charging system.

IEC 62196 Plugs, socket-outlets, vehicle couplers and vehicle inlets – Conductive charging of electric vehicles is based on IEC 61851.

The IEC 62196 Type-2 connector (Mennekes) is used for charging electric cars within Europe. The connector is circular in shape, with a flattened top edge and originally designed for charging at between 3 and 120 kW, using either single-phase or three-phase alternating current (AC), or direct current (DC). In January 2013 it was selected by the European Commission as official charging plug within the European Union. It is also the official charging plug in Norway. There is a transition period until 2020, which will allow other charging plugs to be used.

At the moment there are only three vehicles that use this plug as standard in Norway, Tesla Model S (up to 22 kW), Renault ZOE (up to 43 kW) and Mercedes-Benz B-Klasse (up to 11 kW). Because the requirements are more stringent for these chargers, Renault includes the electrical installation of its residential charging system in the price of the vehicle.

Norwegian requirements for charging of EVs have been specified in the following document (in Norwegian):—lading-og-sikkerhet/

While other makes and models currently use other charging systems. As new models are introduced, they will increasingly use Type-2 charging as standard. However, it is interesting to see that the Hyundai Ioniq and the Opel Ampera-e, both introduced in 2017, both come equipped with Combo CCD (DC) charging cables.

With Type-2 charging, the electronics is in the charging station (Mode 3) instead of in a box attached to the charging cable (Mode 2).  This makes the cable cheaper to  purchase and easier to handle. The contact is more robust, with minimal electrical, heat and fire risks.

Type 2 charger cable (photo: Ståle Frydenlund)

Charging cables are needed in different variants depending on the electric car. At one end of the cable there will be a Type 2 connector to plug into the charging station. The other end has a contact designed for the specific electric car. Type 1 for Nissan, Mitsubishi, Kia, Peugeot and Citroën; Type 2 for BMW, Volkswagen, Tesla and Renault.

Charging Key and Chip

Access to charging stations is restricted, to prevent abuse. Most commonly access is dependent on the use of a standard key, or a chip. At most charging stations in Norway, use is free. Yes, that is correct. Vehicles gets filled up with electricity free of charge.

Because membership is included with most new EV purchases, it is standard practice for Norwegian electric car owners to be members of the Norwegian Electric Car Association (Norsk elbilforeningen) which, in addition to other services, provides members with both  a charging key, as well as a charging chip, to give them access to charging stations throughout the country. While the key is used with most older charging stations, newer ones rely increasingly on a charging chip. Note: the charging chip will not work until it is registered with the individual charging operator!


Measurements: Length & Volume

This post was initially written as a comment to a YouTube video by Steve Ramsey (WoodWorking for Mere Mortals) titled, Metric or Imperial Measurements: Does it matter in the workshop? 

It is standard practice on metric technical drawings to make all dimensions in millimeters. This eliminates the need to write mm everywhere, and it is assumed that the accuracy is within 1 mm. For metals, one should be using a metal measuring device that will automatically compensate for temperature changes, or work at a standard temperature.


One secret of using metric lengths, is to physically separate meters from the remaining millimeters. I treat these as fractions of a meter. My experience as a teacher, is that many people are blind to large numbers. They may be able to understand 36 mm, or even 254 mm, but at some point numbers go off scale, and are interpreted in that person’s brain as a big, meaningless numbers. Taking the video’s example of a table at 1676 mm, it looks and feels like a large number, too large to understand. Therefore, I separate the meters, and write the length as 1 676. The space after the meter measurement is a key to understanding. In this case, there is 1 meter, and about 2/3 of a meter (676/1000). The reason I use a space rather than a comma, is that I live in a country that uses decimal commas, rather than decimal points. Space, comma, period it makes no difference, as long as one can see the separation.

Steve complains that the individual markings for millimeters on metric scales are confusing because the millimeter lines are the same length. I have to agree that the imperial measures are more readable because they have different line lengths for feet, inches, half inches, quarter inches, eighth inches and sixteenth inches. Metric tapes tend to distinguish 10 cm = 100 mm, 1 cm = 10 mm, 5 mm and 1 mm.

A dual metric/ imperial tape. The imperial measurements can be easier to read!


The same approach can be used with metric volume measurements. There are two important volumes, the cubic meter and the litre, where 1 000 liters = 1 cubic meter. Once again, by separating out the value with a space after three digits, one is able to process the information better visually.

For values less than one liter, the millilitre is used. Here, I use a decimal delineator – a . (period) rather than a , (comma) to separate the value. Once again, both approaches are used in different parts of the world.

I try to avoid all conventional units such as teaspoons, tablespoons, cups and even the notorious dash.

An Amusement

Looking for suitable units to use when discussing volume less than one litre, I tried to find something familiar to work with – Root beer! At one site, I came across the recipe for California Root Beer, and decided to have a look. Using the site’s automatic metric converter, here is the result for 1 serving of California root beer:

28.35 g Coffee Liqueur

28.35 g Herbal Liqueur

56.70 g Club Soda

28.35 g Cola

1 Splash(s) Bitter Beer

This recipe is amazingly accurate, right down to 0.01 grams. There are no scales in the house that are that accurate! The original units in the recipe were liquid ounces, however, so these values should have been expressed in litres, except for the splash of bitter beer, that remains the same in both systems of measurement. With this recipe, the only thing missing is the root beer!

An Aside:

Yes, I have written my last measurement of grain expressed in bushels. For those fortunate enough to grow up with the metric system here is a summary:

1 imperial bushel = 8 imperial gallons = 4 imperial pecks = 36.36872 litres

1 US bushel = 8 US dry gallons = 4 US pecks = 35.2391 litres

In school, these values, minus the metric equivalent, were memorized, but I had no idea what a bushel actually looked like until a librarian, and subscriber to this weblog, caught me cutting the grass one day, and commented that I had put the cuttings into a bushel basket, to transport them to our compost heap. Finally, at the tender age of 21, I was able to visualize a bushel!

A bushel basket

The Charm of Rebar

Today, it was 20° C and sunny, and I accompanied Trish to Ystgård gartneri (nursery) in Straumen. The first thing that one has to be aware of is Ystgård’s domain name, Somehow, this little company located in the village of our municipal centre,  has managed to take possession of the generic name for an entire branch. Well done.

While Trish was admiring the plants, even asking for my input (“something red”) I was admiring other products, specifically the welded rebar on offer. Photos of which are attached for your visual pleasure.

The delightful arch in the foreground costs a mere NOK 1 300 = USD 160, while its more complex four sided neighbour, behind, costs NOK 2 000 = USD 245.

A Swing? This alluring two seater is available for NOK 6 000 = USD 737.

These captivating rebar masterpieces can be purchased for as little as NOK 700 = USD 86.



Back in December 2017, 500 other people and I pledged €32, to become Prime Contributors to Eelo, an Android-based mobile operating system, without Google. Of course, there were lots of other contributors at other levels. Altogether, €94 760 was raised, on a goal of €25 000. Today my stickers arrived.

Eelo stickers arrived in the mail today, from France!

Gaël Duval, creator of Mandrake Linux, is the primus motor of Eelo.  I’ve always had a soft spot for Mandrake throughout its various incarnations, including Mandriva, and more recently Mageia, if only because of New Westminster’s Mandrake the Magician. Eelo has a focus on open-source software.  Eelo does not have a business model, as it is intended to be a non-profit project, with a product suitable for unsophisticated users.

Eelo is not a new Linux-based smartphone operating system. That is because building  a new OS on a wide variety of smartphone hardware will be too big a challenge. One of the reasons I’m backing Eelo is because of my experiences with Linux on my Asus laptop. Daily freezes just aren’t fun! Eelo is using the existing Android clone, LineageOS, as its starting point. LineageOS is a CyanogenMod fork. The core of AOSP [Android Open Source Project]/LineageOS is usable and works well – for geeks! Unfortunately, it is not working well enough for everyday users, which is why I have not installed LineageOS on my Huawei P10 lite.

There is a lot of work that has to be done. First priorities for the project are a launcher, notification system and control center. These are currently running in beta. The real challenge comes in removing Google Play Store, Google Play Services, and Google Services.

Eelo will use F-Droid and APKPure to installing programs. MicroG will be used to replace Google Services. This is an open-source implementation of Android user space apps and libraries. SafetyNet will be replaced with Magisk Manager. Search will probably use DuckDuckGo and/ or Qwant or whatever the customer wants. Quad 9 DNS will be used for Domain Name System (DNS).

There are a number of other issues that have to be resolved, such as low-level proprietary smartphone hardware drivers.

Miracle Concrete

Concrete developed using graphene. Photo: Dimitar Dimov.

To experience a miracle just add graphene to concrete during the production process. Graphene concrete is twice as strong, four times as water resistant, with a smaller carbon footprint compared to the conventional processes. Graphene reduces the amount of materials needed in concrete production by nearly 50 percent and reduces carbon emissions by 446 kg per ton. Center for Graphene Science, University of Exeter, United Kingdom. See:

It probably will not be commercially available for fixing the terrace this summer.

Sealing Concrete

Part of the problem, a concrete slab poured as a foundation for a house extension, but used as the roof of a storage shed for the past fifty years.


I live in Norway in a house built in 1963. At some point in the 1960s or 1970s, a large concrete slab was poured with a carport underneath half of it, and an outdoor storage age under the other half. This slab was at first intended to be the site of a house extension. However, the extension built in the 1980s, was in a different location. Instead the slab was used as a deck or terrace. Because of a sway in the concrete, half of the slab – that over the carport – was removed in the 1990s, and replaced with a wooden structure. Now it is time to rehabilitate the rest of the slab so that the storage location underneath can be used more extensively (2018), with wooden terrace boards covering the concrete (2019). The concrete needs to be waterproofed, or sealed!


A concrete building is probably more waterproof than any other common type of structure to begin with, and only cracks, joints, or window and door openings require attention. Some people have suggesting beginning by approaching the problem from three different ways. First, grind rough, uneven concrete so that a waterproofing membrane or slurry has an even surface to adhere to. Second, fill expansion joints or larger cracks up to 6 mm, with polyurethane caulking. Third, fill joints larger than 6 mm, with a concrete patch, which must be completely dried before proceeding further.

Some sources suggest waterproofing only walls with soil on one side and habitable space on the other, but extending this waterproofing to adjacent surfaces by at least 300 mm. Others disagree, and suggest that all concrete surfaces (in wet climates, especially) should be treated.

A cast in place concrete roof typically uses roofing cement and fiber reinforced roll roofing to prevent water intrusion. The challenge with this project is that the roof was never built as a roof, but as a foundation. Other sources comment that if a structure lacks sufficient slope to allow water drainage a tar or synthetic or seamless rubber waterproofing membrane has to be used.

Another popular comment, is that waterproofing won’t work without adequate drainage. This may require a perimeter footing drain or other drain pipe system. It may even require  a sump pump.


Sweep the surface to remove dirt and debris.

Test to see if sealer has been previously applied, by pouring a large cup of water onto the concrete. If the water beads up and stays on the surface, it’s been previously sealed. If sealer has been previously used, it will have to be removed using an acid-based chemical stripper, requiring protective clothing, gloves and eyewear. Less toxic and more environmentally friendly products made from soy or citrus are also available, but take longer to work. Using a 25 mm nap roller spread a thick coat of the stripper onto the concrete. Wait. Scrape using a long-handled scraper to remove the sludge. Discard sludge.

If necessary, clean the surface with a stiff brush.

Scrub the floor with TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water to remove loose material, oil and dirt. Let dry.

Sealing/ waterproofing the concrete. Select one (or more) of the following:

1. Concrete repair sealant fills cracks and pitting using a putty knife.

2. Liquid membranes, polymer-based coatings that can be sprayed, troweled, or rolled onto concrete directly, are quick to apply and low cost, but give uneven coverage.

3. Self-adhering sheet membranes are large, rubberized asphalt membranes that are peeled and place directly onto the concrete. They provide even thickness, but are more expensive. They are extremely sticky that is impossible to un-stick it once it is laid. Pay attention to overlap, as improper installation can result in leakage. Cut lap joints properly. Two people are needed to install.

4. EIFS, Exterior Insulated Finish Systems, offer a durable, attractive and simple coating to exterior concrete walls, providing insulation and waterproofing. For a stucco-like finish, an EIFS finish coat can be applied directly to the concrete, filling voids and minor irregularities, and creating a good moisture resistant surface. It is applied with a trowel, and comes in 20 liter buckets premixed and tinted. Float with a Styrofoam block or rubber float to create a uniform surface and texture. Other EIFS products may be sprayed, brushed, or rolled on with a paint roller.

5. Cementitious waterproofing is easy to mix and apply. Mix with an acrylic additive for a better bond, and apply with a long-handled brush. It lacks elasticity, making it prone to cracking over time.

6. Sodium bentonite is a green approach to waterproofing. It is able to cover smooth as well as coarser surfaces.

7. Concrete sealer needs to be applied in dry conditions, because it won’t adhere to damp concrete. Temperature above 10°C during application and three day drying period. Apply two thin coats to ensure a smooth and even finish. Apply the first coat. Wait at least two hours before applying the second, at right angles to your first coat. Do not step on or otherwise use the sealant covered surface until it is completely dry. This can take up to three days.

Note: The information above has been obtained from various sources (online, written, oral) to aid in the solution of a particular construction problem that I face. Your problem is probably not identical, and you too will have to sort through a maze of opinion to find appropriate solutions.

I have not tested any of these proposed solutions, and cannot verify any claims about them. Risks associated with the proposed work have not been assessed, but construction of any sort can be a hazardous activity. Anyone following these instructions does so at their own risk. People who have experience with these methods are invited to share them in a comment.