||[Feb. 3rd, 2008|12:07 pm]
I hardly even realize it's a different year than last year.|
While I hate to be a sourpuss, it's not been a really great one.
My car was broken into outside my apartment the first week of the year. Nothing was taken because there was not much of value. The person knew what they were doing, though, and had a master key to the rebuilt liftgate. That's the only way I figure they could have unlocked it, crawled inside to the front seats, crawled back out, then shut it all again without the alarm going off.
Work has been slow, so I've spent much of my time on training sessions. I did my 8-hour refresher for the Hazardas Work and Operations (HAZWOPER) program, which involved Christina getting dressed up in full HAZMAT suit, oxygen tank and all, and taking a walk around the block to fully experience it. The best thing about the suit, though, is that you cannot tell who is inside of it, so it's not like anybody will make fun of you for it afterwards. She still wouldn't let me take a picture, though. I've also completed the two-day training for erosion control (CECSL), so now I can go tell people they've messed up in all kinds of new ways.
Actually, I don't really agree with a lot of the erosion control "best management practices" (BMPs), or the excessive use of acronyms in all of these kinds of courses and areas of study. I've always figured that if something has a lot of acroynms, it's because they're overcomplicating things, think too much of themselves, and have too much time on their hands, which is why they just come up with abbreviations for everything so they'll sound important. But maybe that's just me...
In case anybody hasn't had enough abbreviations, I attended an ASCE meeting a couple of weeks ago in Seattle to see a presentation by Peter Nicholson, a geotechnical engineering professor at UH on O'ahu. He was part of a crew put together to work on a sort of retroactive study of the levee systems in New Orleans. What a lot of it boiled down to is that, given what they knew and what they did, the locals were basically asking for it. How one can live in a loosely established bowl under water and just "hope for the best," then be flabbergasted when all hell breaks loose is beyond me. I'm sure everyone will be happy to know that the shoddy construction of the original levees is being fixed so that they should now withstand the design flood event they were initially intended to withstand. (As a side note, though, the design flood event is extremely small in terms of a major event, such as Hurricane Katrina, and the intended lifespan of the entire system should expire in just a few decades.) But try and tell them how to spend their money and all you'll get is an earful. I guess they want to continue to learn their lessons the hard way.
Speaking of insane living conditions, I've been reading about Venice. It's funny that people will dub it the "sinking city," then attribute the flooding to "weather conditions" with not-so-subtle undertones of GLOBAL WARMING. In reading a bit of history, the exact opposite of the problem was true when lowering water levels left the city disconnected from ships. Whichever the case, I'm impressed by the ability of wood piers to withstand the weight over time that they have. Apparently the lack of oxygen and general organic activity is what has kept the piers from rotting for the most part. Exposed piers today, though, during construction are treated with boron to prevent rotting and infestation.
I wonder if boron would work to eradicate the powderpost beetles that are eating away the wood floors under my bed. Nice as it was for my landlord to finally tell me of the problem AFTER putting antique furniture in there that they would attempt to resolve the issue by use of a bug killer injected into each of the little holes, that doesn't do anything to ensure that they have not spread to my furniture. Judging by the pattern of little holes, however, it looks like they prefer lighter wood and are fine in the floor. I'd be more interested in eradicating the rowdy children from upstairs, though, truth be told. Five people in a one-bedroom apartment does seem excessive to me, but then they, unlike the bugs, are paying rent. Supposedly.
Most of my field work lately has been comprised of monitoring pile installation at East Blair Waterway at the Port of Tacoma. They are working 12-hour days, which has been split up into two shifts for those of us who monitor the installation. We have been recording the number of blows per foot as they drive each 143-foot concrete piling into the ground. Basically, it's mind numbing and boring, but at least I'm outside the office and where nobody really bothers me. The most exciting part of the process, though, is when they change the plywood cushions that protect the rigid pile from the 17,000 pound hammer, which hits it about 2,000 times over the length of one pile. Because of the pressure, it heats up and begins to billow smoke, and is occasionally flaming as they knock it off the top of the pile into the water.
There are also some nice views on good days.
I don't know how they managed to put thousands of piers under Venice when we use this kind of equipment to do it now.
Also, my Aerogarden is doing very well.