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Ruby Tuesday – Walking The Steel. August 16, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Ruby Tuesday!.
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My job, highway and bridge layout, ranges from yawns, generally plentiful during the more mundane aspects of rural road surveys, to screams, which can come fast and furiously when in the throes of building a big, complicated bridge.

I’m presently wrestling with a monster, a disintegrating concrete span which looms in a great curve over an iron railroad bridge which in turn spans the concrete channel of the Hoosic river in its transit of the city of North Adams.  It’s a virtual Escher’s World of crumbling concrete pillars being “resurfaced” (yeah, and good luck with that! ) and redecked with new steel beams and a new concrete deck.

We’re at the point now of setting the beams on the east side (Stage II) and they are, you guessed it, RED:

The iron workers scurry about up there seemingly unphased;  I, on the other hand, move with a great deal of care and caution, much to their amusement:

That’s not me, but you get the idea – and it gets a good bit higher by the time it crosses the railroad tracks.

I’ll be spending the better part of the next few weeks walking the steel, with the spaces between the beams being gradually filled in with “pans” for the upcoming concrete pours.

For more Things Ruby, visit Mary over at Work of the Poet!

Bridges October 26, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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7 comments

bridges-small.jpg

This older guy at work has said some angry things in casual conversations in which I was a participant, things with racial overtones, things about immigrants and liberals and fags and “welfare queens,” things which sounded both learned and internalized.

At first I was pretty taken aback, even though those attitudes aren’t at all uncommon on construction sites, where people without a hell of a lot of education bust their asses and never seem to get ahead. Frankly, it’s not hard to see why many become bitter, especially as they get older and begin to appreciate how little they have to look forward to.

Add to that the usual construction site boom-box, providing your typical right-wing “morning show” background banter deriding the poor as the reason for these working people’s struggles, and you get a LOT of bitterness, hopelessness and pent-up resentment.

I feel it too. I feel myself getting older, getting tired, being worn down, with a Grand Total of $12,000 in my retirement account, and it makes me angry and resentful, but not at the poor.

Because I know where the money is really going.

So having had a semi-recent epiphany about building bridges instead of arguing for my very different point of view, I’ve been trying harder to find the commonalities between the lives and struggles of the people around me and my own long, up-hill swim. I’ve talked to this older man about what he’d like to do when he retires, how his (married) children are doing, his wife’s health problems, insurance hassles, the price of prescriptions… you name it. Life. The Commonalities of Life.

And with the Door open, he listened when I talked about the small percentage of our money which goes to help the millions of poor people in our country and compared it to the very large percentage which is being accumulated by the Filthy Fucking Rich, by people who own vacation homes in Paradise and private jets and get the kind of health care his wife needs, health care she’ll never get, health care she and uncounted others will die without. He listened when I talked about the Social Politics of Distraction, about how we’re constantly being pitted against each other.

Today this Loving Husband and Father pulled up along side me in his truck and stopped with the window down, just looking at me. His eyes were unaccustomedly soft and clear, his demeanor resolute. It felt a little awkward, a little strange, until he spoke.

“You know,” he said, “I think you’re right. I think we all better stick together, or we’re gonna get screwed.”

I nodded in agreement. I didn’t smile; it was all I could do to choke back the tears of gratitude.

“Think about voting for Kucinich in the Primaries,” I managed. “He’s on our side.”

He drew back a bit and scowled.

Who?

A long, up-hill swim, indeed.

Beam Me Down, Scottie! October 11, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Uncategorized.
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5 comments

It was a Big Day at The Job today, when we found out if the beams fit. If they didn’t, I would be pretty much toast.

Here, my Gaucho friend Isaiah rides one down in the rain:

beam1-small.jpg

The Bad News: This bridge was half-built when I came on board, and was a mess, with the abutments being slightly too close together for the size of the beams.

The Good News: I managed to tweak the shit outta the layout, scarfing a few extra millimeters from each of several unsuspecting design features and making them fit.

Just barely.

But hey, barely works for me!