23 August 2007

6:00am + 1 Thunderstorm + 14m Deep Pit = 1 Crappy Morning

This morning I went to visit my hole. It is currently less than 3m away from its final depth of 14m. It's getting big and scary and, miraculously, it hasn't fallen down yet. I was required to go observe the stressing of the last level of soil anchors. This was problem #1 - the stressing was supposed to start at 7:30am, meaning I would have to leave at 6:30am to get there, further meaning that I would have to get up at 6:00am. As I am not a morning person, this was excruciatingly painful. Excruciatingly. However, I appear to be getting smarter: unlike last time, I remembered my safety boots and hardhat so I didn't have to drive all the way home again.

Things started well when I got there. Then the rains came. It started as a sprinkle, then died. The contractors said that if it rained too much, they'd have to take their trucks out of the pit and stop construction because the pit would be impossible to leave if it got too muddy. Well, it started to sprinkle again, then we saw some lightning and heard a thunderclap somewhere in the distance. Then another, closer. Then the deluge started. The contractors hustled to their trucks, desperate to get them out of the pit before the access slope got too muddy, stopping only for essentials, like lighting up a cigarette.

The first truck made it up okay. The second truck required 3 runs at the slope and all of it's 300+ horsepower to make it up, sending up huge plumes of mud in its wake. Man, did it get muddy in a hurry; my boots were so heavy I could barely walk. Those of us not in trucks hid under a steel beam protruding from the wall, that is, until the thunderstorm came closer overhead and the potential for electrocution outweighed the certainty of getting very wet. As we abandoned our refuge, we realized that the rain was decreasing in intensity, and, within about 15 minutes or so, it was actually getting a little sunny. It was too late, though; the deluge had turned the entry slope into a big, muddy Slip 'n' Slide, and we could see in the horizon that more rain would be on the way eventually. There would be no stressing of anchors today.

So the result? I woke up freakishly early (by my admittedly nocturnal standards), drove about an hour through frustrating construction, got rained on, found my clothes (and myself) to be covered in mud, and we didn't even accomplish any of what we set out to do; all this while I should have been in the office doing design work on stuff that's already running behind.

However, the morning wasn't a total loss. For instance, I learned that the two most popular words among construction workers these days are "fucker" and "cocksucker," which they use to address each other (jovially) and to refer to consultants (this includes me, while I'm within earshot - decidedly not jovially).

Stressing has been postponed to Friday and Monday, and someone still needs to observe on our behalf. It won't be me, though. I'm going on vacation until Tuesday. So long, Suckas!

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3 Comments:

At August 23, 2007 5:06 PM, Blogger TheBrummell said...

A great post; I am entertained.

..my hole...is currently less than 3m away from its final depth of 14m. It's getting big and scary and, miraculously, it hasn't fallen down yet.

This is a wonderful turn of phrase: how, exactly, does a big hole fall down? I understand you were talking about the risk of the walls of the hole collapsing, but to say it that way made me smile.

Those of us not in trucks hid under a steel beam protruding from the wall, that is, until the thunderstorm came closer overhead and the potential for electrocution outweighed the certainty of getting very wet.

So, even though you were at the bottom of a 11m-deep hole, there was a significant risk of lightning strike associated with the steel components of the hole walls? Has somebody worked out relative risk vs. risk reduction for standing in a deep hole in a lightning storm near conductive materials?

Anyways, you did learn a thing or two, and posted a fun story. Have a good time on your vacation.

 
At August 27, 2007 11:54 PM, Blogger Carlo said...

Wow... I also am not THAT much of a morning person! Well, given the situation, I believe that the construction worker's expletives were warranted. Hopefully next time you need to do exactly what it is you do, it won't pour like a b#$ch.

 
At August 28, 2007 4:00 PM, Blogger King Aardvark said...

Ok Mr. Pedantic, it's the walls of the hole that may fall down. Sheesh.

"So, even though you were at the bottom of a 11m-deep hole, there was a significant risk of lightning strike associated with the steel components of the hole walls?"

I don't know if there are any studies about that; however, I ask you this: Not knowing if there was a major risk of a solid zapping, would you choose to just stand there hugging a steel pile? I wouldn't.

Carlo, I seem to have had a bad string of luck with my site visits, with about half of all outdoor visits being in crappy weather. Then again, my sample size of outdoor site visits is particularly small this year. Usually, I just do whatever it is I have to do (usually not a whole lot) while standing in the rain. The problem isn't really me, it's other people who have to use finnicky heavy equipment.

 

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