Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Mythology of Concrete

 If you are current on contemporary mythology, then you've heard of the Concrete God, aptly named, "Portland".  Many people today feel that this mythological god has already taken over the world.  But here at Camp Daniel, we need lots of concrete for wheelchair accessible sidewalks.  We are fortunate enough to have many wonderful professional tools to make the job easier.  None better than our new addition, "the power screeder".  You can see it in action in the top photo.  In the past screeding, or leveling of concrete, was always done with a 2 x4 a few feet longer than the concrete form, and lots of manpower.  Richard, Nick and Brian had the inglorious task of sawing that board back and forth thousands of times to level the concrete and bring up the cream.  Well Tony had been looking for a power screeder, which replaces the sawing motion of a 2x4 with a vibrating aluminum straight edge, for a couple and years, and finally procured one this spring.  It was perfect timing as Camp Daniel had received a grant to pour $6,000 worth of sidewalks around the dorms. (the grant required the money to be used by the first week of June).
 So Tony and the guys started making forms enabling us to pour in sections.  As each section was poured the landscaping around the concrete needed to be filled in with top soil, as the heavy equipment cannot drive on the new sidewalks.  Think of mopping yourself out of a room;  a little planning ahead goes a long way.  Well, the weeks go by and we are doing great.  We love the new machine and we all really feel like we kind of know what we're doing.
 Then it happens.  You cannot see the effect in the photo above, but just trust me.  In the darker  (wet) concrete in the photo above, we had a bit of an accident.  We had just finished and everyone scattered to work on other jobs, when Brian runs to find me saying that George got in the concrete.  Sure enough, many sets of dog prints are evident in the still soft concrete.  Well we all gathered and rushed to fix the damage before it could set any harder, but "Portland" must have been upset with us anyways.  So for the next pour he took out his anger at us by giving us a hot, windy sand storm to deal with.  And let me tell you, it wasn't fun, but the temperamental god was still not satisfied.
 So on the next pour, shown above, Portland really let us have it.  Working with gravity, this god laughed at us as we tried to pour on a hill, using our new fancy power screeder.  Let's just say that it didn't work.  It seems to just giggle the concrete right down the hill.  We ended up going old school with a 14' 2x4 and lots of sawing action to get the concrete level and not in a big pile at the bottom of the hill.  We figured out a technique that worked, and were able to pour a second sloped section later the same day.  So although we've poured 7 truckloads of concrete in the past month, we still have a few to go.  So if you believe in modern mythology, make a sacrifice to Portland, the god of concrete, that we may have good weather, good tools and good workers for the remainder of our concrete season!

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