Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dead Beat Club

Well, I kinda hate the direction the blog has gone in.  I know it's boring and crappy but I just don't have a lot of time to do many projects around the house so any kind of how-to posts are on the back burner.  I do plan to plant a garden for fall but that's probably going to be sporadic.  I know many of you are not terribly interested in commercial construction, so I'm trying to limit the number of posts on that subject.  So, I'm not sure what to write about and my Internet connection here is still unreliable so when I do feel like writing I sometimes can't get on.
So..........anybody have any ideas or suggestions?  I am still reading your blogs when I have time and trying to leave a few comments.  Work has become infinitely easier lately so it's not near as rough as when I first came down.  I guess I've gotten used to the workload again and welding is easier on me than the other work I was doing.  So, tell me what you think if you have any ideas.  I don't know.  I'm kinda bummed.  It's lonely working out of town and boring when you're not at work.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chicken Run!!

I'm not sure how clear this video is going to be but maybe ya'll can make sense of it.  I thought it was just hilarious how rabid these chooks are to get out in the afternoons.  They live for their time out in the yard.  So far we have had good luck with letting them out with no fatalities.

 Speaking of no fatalities though; these boys will end that streak soon.  They have gotten a little too big for their britches lately and are confined to fatten up just a little more.  I do not believe I will ever have Leghorns again.  They are very aggressive towards the other chickens.

The Cornish Cross chicks are doing well now.  We did have 3 to die and it was a bit mysterious.  No leg problems, no wheezing, discharge, pasty butt or anything else that might indicate disease or anything.  However, Jack did notice that their feed had some larger chunks it in that maybe they were having trouble with so he started sifting their food and we've had no deaths since.  We are buying a locally ground natural, non-medicated feed but apparently they also do rabbit food etc. because the larger chunks looked kinda like rabbit pellets (food, not poo).  Maybe they don't clean their machines well between batches.  We don't know if that was the culprit but they re all doing well now and are surprisingly active.

This one kept staring at me rather pointedly.  Perhaps he suspects his fate.  I hope not.

They have even begun flying around their cage a little.  Well, enough to hop up on the rat sills anyway!  We have found all the young chicks like to sit up there for some reason.  Their little legs are significantly thicker than regular little chicks and we have only noticed one that might be having a little trouble walking.  After we had those 3 die I was beginning to feel like getting these were a mistake but now they seem to be developing normally, just a bit faster than other chicks.  We'll see.  I'm still a bit skeptical and we are keeping a close eye on how they get around and seem to be getting along.  No matter how efficient they are at becoming dinner I still don't want to be raising meat blobs.  However, as of now, they seem just like any other chicks as far as activity and curiosity.  They jump and fly and scratch.  Best they can anyway.

I hope to also get a little bit of the fall garden planted today but I may not.  I have a bit of throwing to do to fulfill some pottery orders so that comes first right now.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rock Around The Clock

 The photos are just some miscellaneous ones I had that are somewhat related to what I wanted to write about tonight.  The area shown is where my most recent project has been going on.  I know that the world of commercial construction is very far removed from the way most people work so I thought I'd just give ya'll a view of my day.  It starts out early enough at about 4:30 a.m.  I get up in time to have a good, hot cup of tea and really wake up.  I hate to be rushed into my day.  I make my lunch and breakfast and am on my way to work by 5:30.  One good thing here is that I am only about 15 minutes from work at the most, so I make it there by about 5:45-50.  We start work at 6:00 sharp so everybody gets there earlier in order to get their stuff in order and several of us usually sit and eat our breakfast also.  We also use the time to begin our daily aggravation and joking on each other.
At 6:00 we have our safety meeting.  It used to be you only had those once a week but it has become common to have them every day now, first thing.  That lasts about 5-10 minutes and then everybody goes to their assigned job places to shake tools out and get to work.  I have been hanging steel in this stairway that you see in the above photo.  First, I welded on those short stubs you see on the right, next to the concrete.  There are steel plates embedded in the slab that you can't see.  This is 7 floors with embeds at each floor.  Now, my welding leads only reach about 3 floors, so I have to pull the leads up or down the stairwell to reach the next section.  When i run out of leads I pull everything back to the welding machine, roll it up, take the machine over to the buck hoist (if it's running) and take it up or down to the level where i can reach the rest.  Now, sometimes I can just put it on the 3rd or 4th floor and just have to move the leads but sometimes I have to take it all the way up or down for other projects.  Inevitably, I end up moving the machine at least once a day and pulling those leads all over the place.  I know many people have commented on the "condition" of my biceps and shoulders.  Well, now you know.  They are in the shape they are from 18 years of moving, pulling, carrying, shoving or rolling up leads that weigh 30-40 lbs. each.  If I carry them both at once to save time it is a fair load.  And I'm also doing this going up and down any number of stairs.  So, I just work on this type stuff; welding, carrying, moving, layout etc. until 9:00 a.m.  Then we get a 15 minute break if our work allows it.  if you have to work through break you can usually make it up later.  I know 15 minutes doesn't seem like much but it does help a lot.  we get a snack and something to drink, joke around and aggravate each other some more and then go back to work.  Now, today, work involved flying steel into place with the crane as I have all the other stuff in place.  The other day we were on the inside and the crane flew the steel over to us.  I have help doing this.  We maneuver the pieces into place and as the crane holds them, i tack weld them well enough that we can cut him loose and he'll go pick another.  After we get all the pieces hung, I'll come back by myself and hard weld everything according to the drawings.

When I'm welding near the edge I wear a harness, in addition to the welding jacket, etc, and tie off to these clever devices.  They pour them into the tops of each column and are left in place until all outer work is over.  They are very handy.  There is a handrail there, as you can see, but I often have to stand on a ladder to reach what I'm welding and if you do that you must be tied off.
So, we just keep working until 12:00 noon.  Then we get a 30 minute lunch.  It's enough time to rest up but not long enough that you don't want to go back to work.  You don't loose your momentum, so to speak.  Today we were hanging steel with the crane but we had to be up on the outside of the building in a lift in order to maneuver it correctly.  There were 2 of us in the basket and one guy inside to hand me the leads etc. and help hold.  This type work is a little scarier because the operator is flying the steel right over us and then lowers it down to us.  We use a special clamp of the steel called a "plate dog".  It basically bites the steel as long as there is pressure or weight on it and releases when the tension eases and the rigger flips a safety latch.  You have to use these when straps would get caught behind the steel once it was set.  It does cross your mind when that steel is over you that if that plate dog fails you will probably die or be severely injured.
So, normally we would roll up at 2:30 but we are working 10 hours a day so we keep going until 4:30.  We are allowed to go get a Coke or something around 2;30 or 3:00 and of course, we can get water or take a bathroom break any time work allows.  Sometime you have to plan these things if you are working in the air or on a lift.  So, same ol' work until about 4:15 and then it's time to get tools up.  we usually have quite a bit of stuff out so it takes a while to get everything rolled up and locked up in our tool boxes.  Then we go sign out and leave at 4:30.  You do not leave before then even if you have your stuff up.
I know this sounds like a rough day for most people, and it is hard, but we have fun.  We joke around when we can and tease each other.  Sometimes there are down times waiting for one of the cranes or such and we can rest them.  It does take some getting used to though and many people don't like the work.  I don't know, we all have a good camaraderie and help each other as much as we tease each other too.  I am fortunate to work with a great bunch of guys.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Late Summer Fair

After my last post I have been anxious to put this one up so that I could show you all that I can relax and did have an enjoyable and fun weekend to counteract the long work week.  I drive home on Friday evenings after work, so that night is usually just spent laying around, but Saturday we got up and went into Birmingham so I could deliver a little pottery to one of my stores and to do some other general errands.  We returned that afternoon in time for the county fair though!  They had a lot more exhibits and such this year I believe.  I thought this poultry pair was beautiful.  I think they said the breed was Coronation Sussex but I could be mistaken.

This feller was so cute but looked like he would bite your hand clean off if you gave him the chance.  Maybe that's just the way he always looks.  I think some people think I have that same look.

 No way in Hell.

Of course there is always something magical about the carousel horses.  I couldn't quite capture the image I had in mind but you get the idea.

And we ate all sorts of crap we probably shouldn't have but it was good and fun.  I always have to get a caramel apple and nachos!

I was trying to get kinda artsy-fartsy with some of these pics and it only succeeded to a small degree.  I'm not much on these kind of rides but enjoy some of the games and all the exhibits.  Fred won several ribbons for his various art and craft work, as usual, and Rurality won a ribbon for one her plant displays along with another friend of ours.

I had thought about entering something but just didn't have time with work and all.  The weather was gorgeous over the weekend and Sunday was spent just relaxing.  Well, that and washing my work clothes.

Today we got rained out at work so I had a little time to relax down here.  I picked up a cold unfortunately, so part of the day was spent napping but after lunch I felt a bit improved and went out for a walk about.  Visited an antique store down the road and the book store.  I found a great old glass storage jar at the antique place for my pantry collection and it was on sale!  So,that's about as exciting as free time gets when you're out of town!  Ha!  At least for me.  Should be back to work tomorrow though as the rain moves out. As they say, 'cain't make no money sittin' at home' and I need to make all I can to make this worthwhile.
I'll try to be back a little quicker next post.  I hope everybody is enjoying this fall weather and, if you're in Texas, some rain!!  If not, maybe you will be soon.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tired Feet

Well, I had intended on posting a bit more but I guess I haven't entirely gotten used to this amount of construction work yet.  Ten hours a day, everyday, is a little wearying.  And, I guess, the abrupt and total change in lifestyle has been mentally tiring.  I believe this is about as opposite as the way I was living as you can get.  I'm having to stay in a small, cramped, heavily occupied, cheap hotel.  It's right next to the interstate; mostly asphalt around here.  The peace and tranquility of my valley is a long way away.  I'm doing the best I can I guess but it gets me down.  
I do enjoy working with my fellas though.  That's the one bright spot but I don't see a lot of them for most of the day actually.  Welders tend to work alone most of the time except when prep work is being done.  Well, didn't mean to write a downer post but I'm very tired and I want to go home.  We will get off at 2:30 tomorrow however and I'll be blazing a trail to my house shortly thereafter.  I'll try to have a better post from home.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cracker Box Palace

Well, today has just been a real Monday all around; very frustrating.  I was having so much trouble with Blogger I wasn't sure I was going to get anything posted or not.  But I persisted.  I trudged on for you, my dear readers!  Ha!  I know this blog has really had ya'll on the edge of your seats lately, ya know?
Anyway, these I-beams and tube steel are what I've been working on lately.  How did I get those heavy pieces of steel up there, you ask??  Well, us construction workers are not as dumb as people think!  We have levitation abilities!  No, not really; not anything that exciting.  There was simply decking over the openings when I was working there.  They wrecked the decking today to make the area ready for the elevator men.

 Just thought I'd give ya'll a few different views of the job site.  So far, they have made just over 200 concrete pours on this job.  I have no idea of the yardage.

This is (will be) the courtyard area.  Right now it's a staging area.  If you enlarge the area you should be able to see a lot of the sorted rebar and some finished column reinforcement waiting to be set.
I know sometimes I probably sound like a broken record talking about being safe with projects and stuff and maybe even kind of an alarmist type but this is what I know.  This you see is serious.  We are not playing around and this, in this photo, is one reason why it irks the hell out of me to see these jackleg bloggers giving people dishonest views of concrete and building.  Now, I know ya'll aren't building anything like this.  I know that pouring a patio slab or some other similar DIY project is rarely ever going to end in any serious injury but you have to be careful.  Accidents do happen.  And any structural concrete needs steel reinforcement.

I was trying to get both cranes in the shot but it's kinda hard when you are up close.  My stamina is improving and I've been working in the shade the past few days with this welding, so that has helped.  It's not near as hot as it was but even a cool day gets warm if you are welding in the open.  That comes later!  Ugh!
I tell ya, I sure didn't want to come back last night.  I hated to leave home but I keep telling myself it will be good.  I will be able to finish the house and it will look so good and be even more enjoyable to live there.  Well, bedtime comes early these days!  See ya'll!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Come-On-A-My House

 I was afeared I was goin' to have to work Saturday but I made good enough progress on my project that the boss said I could come home, so, after a 9 hour day Friday, I hopped in Little Blue and took off for the house!  It has been a beautiful weekend, weather wise, and is noticeably cooler up here than where I'm working.  The fall feeling is definitely in the air here.  Jack had picked the last big watermelon and had it waiting on me.  I had one other very large one and a couple about half this size.  The first one was pretty darn good; very sweet despite the fact the flesh was not as dark as I thought Black Diamonds were supposed to be.

 This second melon weighed in at 38 pounds; the first was around 32 I think.  However, this one did not taste good.  It was mushy and basically a disappointment. 

 So, we pitched it off the deck to the chickens, making sure not to squash any of them!  They LOVE watermelon.  Although, they did not attack this one in their normal voracious frenzy.  They had already stuffed themselves with a smaller melon and had been eating bugs all day.  Jack had let them out a few hours earlier than normal since we were going to be here all day and all.

 And the new babies came in!!!  They arrived Thursday morning early and Jack picked them up at the post office.  They are sooo cute!  But hopefully they will grow quickly into big, plump, non-cute, tasty birds.  They are quite active, scurrying around their cage all day.

 They do take naps as you can see by that one passed out in the corner.  Since we ordered from McMurray Hatchery they always send you one extra, in case of a mortality I guess, and one free, exotic chick.  You don't know what it is though, until it grows up.  This one is very cute.

 They are all doing well so far and began gobbling food just as soon as Jack put them in the cage.  These are the Cornish Rocks and I am anxious to see how they do.  We found a local feed supply that grinds their own formula of a non-mediated starter feed.  It's not organic, unfortunately, but it's the best we can find right now without paying a fortune for feed.  Maybe later I can come up with a more organic formula.  McMurray lets you opt out of any vaccinations also, so I did not have that done.  Jack scrubbed their cage within the coop house good and sterilized it before they arrived, so hopefully they will stay healthy.
Well, time to get some stuff done around here before I have to head back this evening.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Sorry, no photos today.  Didn't really have a chance to take anything.  If you've been listening to the weather any you may have heard we've had a bit of a rough couple of days down here.  It's been kinda typical Alabama  weather though.  Friday we were sweating our butts off in 100 degree heat and 4 days later everybody had jackets and sweaters on.  It was especially chilly on the upper floors of the building since they are all still open.  Like the old local saying goes, "welcome to Alabama, bring your entire wardrobe."

We kept busy today inside the building trying to satisfy the seemingly never ending need for handrails.  I believe you could frame a good size house from the lumber we have used just for that.  Perhaps I will get to actually weld soon.  One load of steel did come in last week.
As I gazed over the job site today from many stories up and watched the light rain falling, creating a cold mist that enveloped the workers and work, I realized that I really have reached the time when this is not work that I wish to do anymore.  Half the year it is scorching hot and dry.  Enormous dust devils race us across the open jobs sites flinging grit and stones at us.  The other half, it is bitterly cold and wet.  Southern winter is not like other winters.  The dampness cuts all the way through you with a sharp chill.  The weight of the clothes we wear can only be equaled by the inevitable weight of red clay accumulating on our boots as we slog through the day.
Perhaps I have finally proven everything I needed to prove to myself.  Perhaps I'm just getting lazy.  Whatever the reason, I think I have come to accept this work is no longer for me.  But, I will finish this job and I will be grateful for the money I make to complete what I really want to work on.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Follow Through

I don't think I ever showed ya'll the completely finished pantry!  This is pretty much it completed.  I do have a little touch up on the paint and a tad of shoe mould to run but it's pretty much done.  I was pleased with the final product.  You can see on the top shelf some of the stuff I canned this year.  Hopefully I will add a few more pints of things to this still.  I have about 12-14 half pints of jams, 4 or 5 pints of salsa, a couple of pints of pickles and about 2 dozen pints of pickled okra.  I know that's not a lot but it's better than I did last year.  I hope to can a few more tomatoes at least, as my Amish Paste are still coming in.  I have also harvested and dried a lot of herbs, which are in the glass jars on the countertop.  I also put up shelves over the window and door to hold canning supplies and extra jars, etc.

Directly opposite that wall is this wall with the electrical panel.  Code requires your panel to have at least 3 feet of clear space in front of it so we simply put it by the cased opening of the pantry so it would naturally stay clear.  We had room to set the little wall for it out slightly in order to make little storage cubby holes there too.  It's just right for a small broom closet type thing and to hide stuff like toilet paper and such but still be easy to get to.

 I put up a few extras like this bulletin board to record stuff I run out of and all.  The shelf above the door also holds table linens and such.

This is the hardware I chose.  I like the very streamlined and contemporary look.  I know a lot of people think homes in the country should look, well, country but that is just not my cup of tea.  All of the fixtures, appliances, switch plates, hardware and the like are brushed stainless in my house.  It's a very clean, minimalist look to me.  I think it goes well with the maple woodwork and cabinets too.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Hard Bargain

Well, I had good intentions (but you know what they say about that) for my posting while I was away but ran into a couple of issues. First, the place where I'm staying has horrible Internet connection. I'm using a wireless connection but can only sometimes get a strong enough signal to stay online more than a few minutes. I inquired about the hotel's connection but they want $10 a week for it and I said screw that. I would get an excellent signal at work but do not have time to even log on, much less write anything and I'm not about to hang around after work to blog. Sorry folks. Don't mean I don't care about you! But that shower, however crappy it is, is calling to me mightily by quitting time. Hopefully, I can figure out a solution to this dilemma but in the mean time if I am slow answering emails or replying to comments, that is why. Also, and just as significantly, this first week kicked my ass, to be honest and I really didn't have the energy to do much writing. We worked overtime everyday except Friday and by the time I got back to my room, cleaned up and got something to eat, I was about ready to pass out. My crew has been working on hanging brick angle and so must work out of man lifts up to 80 or so feet in the air. Of course, we must wear safety harnesses that add about 6-7 lbs. to what you're already carrying and in the blazing sun with hardhats on. We've been going in at 6:00 a.m. to get some coolness but that makes for some early nights. At least for me. I can't stay up all night like I used to could. Fortunately, as far as the stress of the work, I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. The first part of the week was rough, to say the least, but by Thursday I was feeling like I was starting to get acclimated to it all again and Friday was almost enjoyable. Maybe that was partially due to the fact I knew we were leaving at 2:30 but I felt not quite so wore out. It was still about 100 degrees that day and I burnt the living crap out of myself cutting some steel but it wasn't a bad day. (The slag spewed back on me because I was cutting against concrete and it basically showered me completely in molten steel.) That statement may help you understand just how bad Monday through Wednesday was.
When I was pondering what to blog about I was thinking about just how hard it is to describe what we go through on these jobs to someone who has never experienced it. I mean, I picked metal BB's (basically) out of my flesh and yes, it hit in some very sensitive areas for a woman, but it was still a fairly enjoyable day, comparatively. Not to sound overly dramatic but it occurred to me; nothing I have ever done while building my house has ever been as hard as what I do at work. And my house includes quite a bit of structural steel and concrete. I admit, the spring box was close and some days at work are super easy but it is just a whole 'nother world there. I think that is part of the reason I get so pissed off when I hear people speak disparagingly of construction workers or have some office slackers make snide remarks to us. It kills me that society has so much respect for doctors and professors etc. but the people that build the structures for these esteemed members of society to work in are treated like so much trash, for the most part.
Well, that's enough ranting for now! Thankfully they are letting us have a 3-day weekend for the holiday so I will probably have some time to post again before I go back. I will try to write about something other than work also!

Oh, I forgot to mention, the photo is the view from the front of the job but you can only see one of the two tower cranes. Directly beneath the crane is some of the forms they use for pouring the floors. These are some interesting contraptions as they can be jacked up or down and shoved out over the edge to extend the floor they are forming. After the floor is poured, these forms are dropped down and pulled out by the crane to be replaced with shoring. The shoring is the 4x4 posts and scaffolding you see to the far left. There will be a forest of these posts amongst the floors. These must be left in place for a few weeks until the concrete samples taken from these pours break at the prescribed strength.
And...if you're wondering why I wasn't wearing some type of protection when I got burned...well, that's a good question. I just didn't take the time to get down from the lift and go get my sleeves. I only needed to wallow this hole in the steel out about an 1/8th of an inch and knew it wouldn't take a minute. So, in an effort to save time I did it bare armed. I eventually had to burn a few more, so I did retrieve my leathers when I went down to doctor myself. And yes, Daddy Rabbit chewed my ass when he found out that I had injured myself, so now I'm sore on both ends. Ha!