Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ready for a Transformeration

The various pipes and wires and cables are coiled
and waiting,

ready for action,

but they must wait.
For utility contractors don't work on Fridays, and Monday is a holiday.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Boring Man's Naughty Bits

Today the boring man showed me his naughty bits.
This is the one that caused all the trouble yesteday.  Once I got a good look at it, I understood the problem.  Don't you think that when he said, "Hang a right!" the bit understood "Hang ten!"   Is it me or does that bit look like a little foot?  It looks just like the hang ten symbol.
At any rate, I finally understood how they turn the bit.  They use the swoop on the end of the bit to ease into a direction change.  Putting the bit at 12 o'clock puts the curled up toes straight up and makes the bit come up toward the surface.  Putting the bit at 6 o'clock puts the toes down and it swoops deeper.  In theory, putting the bit at 3 o'clock, as they kept doing yesterday, would make it turn right.  This bit must have come from the Obama administration, because no amount of coaxing could get it to move to the right.

So, the first order of business today was to dig an enormous hole to circumvent the naughty bit.  The plan was to drill another hole in the right direction and thread the cables through both holes, thereby making the turn.  Only once they got the hole dug and got down there to detach the bit, they found another naughty bit:
This is the collar that holds the bit on.  See the crack down the length of it?  That crack allowed the bit to be screwed on to the end of the pipe with such force that it could not just be unscrewed.

They had to climb down in there and work on it.  Then they had to get a tool.  And then another tool.  And finally when they had their Rube Goldberg arrangement all set up, the bit was still on there so tight that they had to give a shout out to Archimedes and go in search of a lever long enough.  Finally a length of fence post pipe was put into service and the bit was removed.
They thought everything was going well and they would have the driveway clear in time for carpools and homecomings.  Until they saw how close they were to the gas line.  See the metal bit in the bottom of the photo?  See the orange gas pipe in the top of the photo?  This was the view into a hole cut in the driveway, so they could spot the gas line.  I thought it would be fine, but they kept muttering about $15,000 fines and never working again and something about spreading pine straw, so they pulled back, pointed the toes of the bit down and tried again.

At this point the King of Boring knows he has blown his deadline and knows he is about to die, so he has crawled down into the tomb. 
Actually, he had to take over from the boring man down there.  Remember how I called him Mr. Arachnaphobia?  Well, he confided in me today that he has a deathly fear of snakes.  He told me, as an illustration of how badly the job was going, that when he jumped down in the hole to unscrew the bit, a little ring necked snake had fallen in the hole with him.  Happily, we did not have to wait for him to go home and change his britches.

So, now all the wires are pulled and the dirt is all filled back in.  Can the boring crew go home?  No!  Georgia power forgot to tell them about one line coming from the pole at the street to the transformer, so they'll be back tomorrow.

If it's not one thing, it's another. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

When Boring Becomes Tedious

Today the boring fellows came back to knock out the last of the run.  I went out and annoyed them by asking alot of questions and taking pictures of their equipment.  Here is the faceplate of the locator.  It tells us that they are boring down at a 14% slope and that the drill bit is a chillin' 63 degrees.  A push  of the button will tell you how deep the bit is underground.  They had to keep it quite deep to make sure it didn't pop out of the ground when they crossed under the embankment.  Not that they got that far.

When the boring man swings the locator back and forth over the general area, it makes an eerie "oooooh" noise that changes pitch and becomes an "eeeeeeee" noise when it is over the drill bit.  It sounds exactly like the noises a boy would make when his brother is trying to study or do homework (ask me how I know!).  When he is satisfied that he has located the bit, the boring man sprays a bit of white paint to mark its way like Hansel, so it can find its way back home.
The boring man and the King of Boring have walkie talkies, and they say things like, "Give me two feet at 3 o'clock and then rotate."  What that means is that they will rotate the drill bit 90 degrees to the right, push the whole business forward for two feet without rotation, to try to turn it, and then begin to rotate to commence drilling.  Honestly, I need small boys again.  A trip to radio shack for walkie talkies, a pair of hard hats, and a short visit to the boring crew, and they would be entertained for days in the sand box.

Now the only problem with the whole business of "give me 2 feet at 3 o'clock" is this: the drill bit is one leg of a triangle.  It is about 4 feet long.  The sections of pipe are another leg of a triangle, they are about 90 feet long.  The idea is to get the pipe to slide over and start playing the part of the hypotenuse.  There's not a whole lot of difference between the hypontenuse of the triangle I just described and the 90 foot leg, so the pipe says to the boring machine, "Hypotenuse this!" and continues drilling along its previous path.  That's why you see the white dot next to the driveway here instead of up the bank about 6 feet.  The goal is to round this bend and tie into the existing underground electric cables that are just beyond line of site here.  Solutions were tossed around, the power company was called, and I needed to leave, so tomorrow, hopefully, it will all be resolved.

Meanwhile, the real bully in all of this is the power pole.  It is the cause of all these problems.  Just look at it standing there so smug, wearing its transformer so jauntily.  Move, power pole!  Scat!  You're right where our front porch needs to be!

And the white oaks breathe a sigh of relief.  One more day of photosynthesis!  One more day before becomimg floorboards to be trampled forever underfoot! Oh, in the injustice of becoming downtrodden after a lifetime of majestic growth! be continued...

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Next Bit

Here, as promised, is the next bit.
I was only able to get this shot because the boring guys had to reverse their bore and start over today.  If you reverse boring, does it get interesting? 
 What was interesting as I came out this morning and checked out the progress was this:

Here's the boring guy, measuring how deep they are boring and marking the path of the tunnel through which the power will one day run.  Looks good.

Until you realize that he is in the future front yard.
Having a power cable buried 6 feet deep across your front yard kinda cramps your style.  There are all kinds of things you can't do in a yard with a high voltage power cable buried in it.  For example, it's really tough to bury dead bodies in a yard like that.  It's also kinda dicey to drill a well for water or for geothermal energy.  Even planting a large tree gets interesting.

So, they backed up the boring machine and tried again.
So far, so good.  They'll finish it up tomorrow and turn it over to the guys who will set the transformer. Then we will begin the agonizing waiting game of "please get your utilities off of this power pole, so we can take it down."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today Was a Boring Day

It really was.  And I mean that in the very best possible way.
When I arrived bright and early, the boring man (I know he loves being called that -- every gal in America thinks, "Hey, I had a date with that guy once....") anyway he had dug a target hole just below the telphone pole at the street.  Good thing he didn't just bore toward the pole, because that pipe in the back of his target hole is the gas main.  This utility stuff is tricky.  From the stories I've heard, every so often there is a big explosion.  Personally, I think that's why they keep coming back. Adrenaline junkies.

Soon a bucket truck from Georgia Power arrived.

And then another one came.  Umm, guys?  There are a few cars behind you.

Would you believe a third Georgia Power truck?  I promise I didn't post this party on Facebook.  They all just came.

So then the water truck for the ditch witch came up.  Maybe the Georgia Power guys didn't understand that it was just water in the those big containers.  The bucket trucks proceeded to block the driveway and park along the blind curve in the road.  That's when I remembered that I urgently needed to be somewhere else.

When I came back, I found that the boring crew had succesfully drilled from the transformer site to the target hole and pulled the orange pipe for the Comcast cable, the phone line and the main for power through the resulting hole.  Pretty exciting for boring stuff!

Now they had a target hole ready up next to the neighbor's house right under the elecrical service box. 
But if this was going to be a party, we needed some of those orange streamers!
They rolled the orange pipe wheel down the road until they had enough of it to reach the next target hole.

That's a lot of pipe!  Can you see the other guy way down the road at the other end?  Then I saw this:
Do you recognize this?
I looked at it for minute and then said, "hey that looks like those Chinese finger cuffs."  That's exactly what it is.  Only it is made out of wire.  Can't you just see some engineer type on Christmas morning watching his frantic four year old trying to release himself from the finger cuffs so he can see what else is in the stocking and thinking, "Hey, if you made one of these out of metal, you could use it to latch onto cables to pull them through holes in the ground!  All you'd need to do is attach a hook:"
And so he did. 
And the rest, as they say, is history.

Now comes the fun part.
"Cover me, boys.  I'm goin' in!"
Now here is a guy who really gets into his work.  He told me that sometimes the hole is 6 feet deep and somebody has to hold his feet.  I didn't think this would be a good time to ask if he had any phobias, like, just as an example, spiders that like to live in holes and bite people.  It just didn't seem polite.
Eventually, the job was done.  All the phone, electric and the lovely orange tube for cable tv were all hooked firmly to the drill bit.  It was time to pull it back through the hole,
which was this guy's job.  Now I don't mean to interfere, but if I were Mr. Arachnaphobia, I 'd be asking myself, "How come I'm sticking my head down in a hole, and he's sitting in an upholstered chair playing with joy sticks?"  Not that it's any of my business, but don't you wonder?  Do you think maybe they take a poll of their friends and which ever one is the most boring gets to be be the King of Boring and sit in the Boring Throne and play with the joy sticks?
Anyway, I definitley needed those little boys again.  Would you just look at the way the drilling rig squeegees the mud back off of the pipes as they come back through the hole and back into the ditch witch? That is some glorious muck.  Just the right consistency for a mud pie.  I'm gonna have to put the modeling agency on speed dial.
Finally, up through the ground with a blast of water and mud emerged the pipes and wires and cables and everything needed to put the utilities underground -- for that house -- four more to go. 
But apparently boring people don't work on Fridays.  They have three day weekends.  (Raise your hand if you want to be boring!) So, the next bit will have to wait until Monday
(pun fully intended).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Let's Get the Party Started!

Nothing much happened today while we waited for the boring contractor to be available.  But when I drove by in the late afternoon, I saw orange streamers to match the orange fencing.  Whoopee!  Party decorations!  For one sinking moment I thought that maybe the gas company was updating the pipes again, because I saw this:

But then I realized that this was no ordinary ditch witch.  No, this one has loads of pipe on the side, like a drilling rig.  In fact it is a drilling rig, but for some reason they think sideways drilling is boring and so that's what the call it:  boring.
When you put all these pipes end to end like tinker toys or soda straws, you can put a lot of that awesome orange pipe in the resulting hole.  Just look at all the pipes you can attach your drill bit to.
And then I saw the cockpit on this rig. 
I was thinking that I could be a ditch witch if they would let me fly this.  Then I look over and spotted the logo on the thing.  Have you ever seen a ditch witch logo?

Are you sure you want to?

It's not too late to turn back while you still have your innocence.

Suddenly, I didn't want to be in the cockpit of the ditch witch any more. 
Are they for real? 
And didn't they steal that image from a set of mud flaps anyway? 
And what is it about heavy machinery and shapely female silhouettes
I don't think Intel has a logo like that, do you? 
Apple certainly could have one and play up the whole Adam and Eve thing, but do they? 
I think not!  I think there is a doctoral thesis in here somewhere, don't you? 
What does it mean?
 Freud anyone?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hauling Asphalt

When I arrived this morning the first load of asphalt had been hauled away to the dump and they were hard at work getting the rest of it up so that the grading could begin.
Builder Gary and J. the grader were having a meeting in their "Pickens County Conference Room."  I think they got things figured out, because it all turned out so well.

This bad boy here was hungry for asphalt, I'll tell you that!

But he had competition, and I got to watch the "battle of the asphalt eating beasts" for a while.  It was almost as good as a tractor pull -- but more expensive.

Then just when we didn't think we could have any more fun, the guys from Georgia Power showed up.  Here you can see they have correctly identified a power pole.  Now they just have to get the power from the pole under the ground and to everyone's houses.  After they left, the AT&T guy came.  He completely missed the party.  I felt sorry for him, so I walked him around and made him feel welcome.  So, now we wait for the boring and then the "joint trench" party can begin.

They call this hauling asphalt.  Nobody is moving very fast, though.  Maybe that's where the fault comes in.

That neccessitated a meeting of the local transit authority (get it? transit? he's holding one?).

And now as you can see in the before and after photos, we have flattened out the hump -- not completely and not as much as we had envisioned, but it is one good looking driveway now. And so we'll drive on down the road to the next adventure!