Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A day in the life....

A day in the life of the job I hate to love includes cold frustration and dirty noise. I offer my first video clip because it demonstrates not only the horrendous sounds but the wicked wind that is twice as blustery in an interstate corridor but thrice as chilling on the hill above same. If you squint at the beginning of the video you might see a UFO, masquerading as a simple plastic bag traveling at light speed in the background. Turn volume down quickly.

The human figure that wanders out of the bottom left of the video is a very beautiful girl -Maria from El Salvador. Her and her husband work together, she is support, he is the foreman jumping while managing the concrete bucket atop the forms. My husband and I have become quite good friends with them over the almost 2 yrs we have been involved with this project. They have shared much of their culture with us and Maria and I spend as much time as possible schooling each other in our second languages. We can be seen on any day scribbling in the dirt trying to get whatever random point across. Others have said it is hilarious to watch us, since she is naturally very expressive and I end up acting things out to get her to understand.

The following is a short clip (not short enough, again turn down speaker volume) of the previously blogged-about AMZING PILE HAMMER. It takes approximately 3o mins to drive one pile, contractor makes about 5 a day. The rest of the day is spent rigging, setting up a template for proper pile location and managing earplugs.

I plan enjoy a quiet Thanksgiving with the 'rents and about 20 other famly members. Best laid plans blah blah blah, Mom and Dad just got a Wii and I kind of look forward to Mario Kart with dad. They heard the Wii was good for exercise and of course purchased the sports package, but showed their age with the statement "Did you know that Mario Kart has nothing to do with F-1 racing?" LOLOLOL

Back to work on Fri but look forward to reading blogs this weekend!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Building bridges.....Literally!

We are in full bridge building mode!! We are replacing a steel girder bridge. The first pic below is THE AMAZING PILE DRIVER. It is a rather nasty diesel hammer that drives piles (precast concrete columns) into the ground at the expense of our ears and lungs. The smoke you see is a plywood "pad" that protects the top of the pile from such massive downforce (anywhere from 80-150 tns) and begins to burn from such friction.

A wider shot including the crane required to manuever sauch a device.

Once the piles are driven, concrete footings encase and tie in certain piles and concrete columns are formed atop these footings, as below.

These are the same columns that certain drivers make contact with when they choose to sleep and drive at the same time.

It has been a better week so far, as I have avoided certain personnel on the project. I now officially miss 100 degree heat as it topped out at 46 today, with about a -10 wind chill from interstate traffic. Inspected/tested concrete most of the day so I was wet/cold most of the day.

Since I actually spend most of my time watching/inspecting work I feel the need to count blessings.....

Thank God I was not the fella on top of the roadway paver waving to me as i drove out of sight at 6:00 pm. He is stuck there all night. Bless the people that REALLY work.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stress Olympics

So far this week I have had to participate in many categories. There's the "leaving the toilet seat up in unisex restroom of field office" that I am losing since I am outnumbered by boys (clearly not men). Since my loudmouth complaints were waged, there is now a new category of "Seat down and dribble".
Outdoor activities include "writing in dirt on inspectors truck when back is turned" and "who can place paint can under tire when she is not looking". I am losing on all fronts.
In light of the fact that i haven't won a medal yet since we lose every specification battle I wage, I took wednesday off to recharge for an end of the week play-off that i am sure to win. It is called "dropping the H bomb" on certain lowlife individuals. (H= harrassment)

I have NEVER filed a complaint in this field, even turned down a chance to join a class action against a large company years ago because I just wasn't raised that way. I try to follow the 3 rules of my childs former kindergarten:

1. Ask offender to stop.
2. If it continues, move away from offender.
3. If they follow, then and only then do you tattle.

I consider myself thickskinned and wise to the guise of their motives but I have had it. I shall arrive on site today with my head held high, certain trusted individuals on lookout and the goal of lighting up the next person that even looks at me wrong!!!

Can I get a 'Hell yeah' ?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Birthday Rainbow

On Oct 10th, I turned 41. I had to trip to the field office of my project on my day off to have pics taken of my truck that had been damaged by a trackhoe a few nights before. AS we were documenting the damage, we noticed this rainbow and the PM took a few shots of me with my birthday rainbow. A double one, at that! We actually watched it form a half circle across the sky and just as quickly recede. It greatly improved my mood and i felt like it was all mine!!

Another shot with out my mug....
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Voting Memories

I remember my parents taking my brother and I with them to vote at the very big church (*gasp* yes the church) that we did not attend. He would take me and Mom would take brother and they would actually take our hands and show us which lever to pull. ( Is that voter fraud? :)
Later in life I was enlisted to work the local polls at a defunct school and It was an experience. Let's just say sitting on 30 year old chairs for 12 hours was not comfortable but the whole day was fun. It was then I realized that traditionally (around here, at least) the elder women of the community were the matriarchs of this event. I was an outsider as i had been asked at the last minute to fill in for a sick regular. This was a day full of gossip and renewing relationships with each and every person that walked through the door.

I also took my children and taught them of this duty. After the first time, I realized that the kids needed a talk about library voices since my at-the-time 8 year old daughter asked loudly "Why are we voting for so-and-so, Mommy?".

For the past 5 yrs we have voted in a 100 yo building that is only 100 yds from my front door. We all walk down and stroll right in, no lines, but we won't be leaving anytime soon, no sir. We will be accosted by the matriarchs and required to update them on all family members health and recent travel.

I look out my front door and see the lights at the "polls" and the big city of Round Oak is already pulsing with activity . I am headed out the door very early not to accomodate lines but to ensure I have the time to "catch up" at the polls.