Update from the NBA Concentration Camp

nba-allstar

View from my perch at the NBA All Star Game at USirways Center in Phoenix.
Everytime I go in and out, I have to pass through airport-grade metal detectors – which is a problem since I have six different hand tools in my pockets at any gven time. Plus I wear suspenders – so I get wanded – a lot.

Don’t walk away from your laptop with your Facebook page open. That’s what our SUP learned.

If you’re using automated scenery, spot it from the ground. The guy in the air has no depth perception. More on that in a later post.

Now you know.

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My new blog and circus knots [1/6/09]

Menasha Ridge has put me up as their Featured Author. Hurry – before they feature someone else. (The photo is courtesy of Mark Kinsey).

On that topic, I have a blog going on their Trekalong side site called:

Are We Lost Yet

Which deals with hiking and related subjects.

So we’ll deal with less of that here. If you go this week, a lot of that stuff will seem awful familiar. I wanted to get something up quickly, so I copied and pasted some material from this site.Thus learning that material copied from one WordPress theme will not neccessarily respect the boundaries of another WordPress theme.

I also learned about circus knots, the way you secure overhead rigging with aircraft cable when you can’t be bothered to bring or buy industry standard hardware for this purpose. Tie a clove hitch around a bar to be suspended, leaving a good length of wire as a tail. wrap that wire tightly up the load line several times, bend it back, and then wrap loosely around the load line and the tight wraps until you are able to tuck the end back underneath the top of the clove hitch. Then walk away, and try not to think too hard about what you have just done.

Did it fall yet? No? You tied it right!

Now you know

What suspends everything above our heads [9/22/08]

Today’s gig was going into a new church, and straightening out some lighting pipes that had been hung crookedly. Now, when we got into lifts and ladders and lifted the drop ceiling panels, we saw stupid things. But, you have to realize, these were hung several months ago, before there was a drop ceiling, or AC ducts, or even interior walls.

That meant a lot of guessing as to what would be level and/or straight, and they guessed wrong. It wasn’t crooked because the hardware was mounted improperly (although that didn’t help). It was crooked because the floor, the surface they must’ve measured from, was not level.

Correcting the height is no big deal, but there was one pipe we had to move, and to do that we needed to create a new place to hang it, where there was otherwise only AC duct. So we ordered some all-thread.

All-thread, to a certain but real extent, is what keeps western civilization – or at least its casula architecture – from falling down upon our heads. Look up in the ceiling in some large, public building,sometime. Anything heavier than you are is likely suspended by all-thread.

(It’s more properly called threaded rod, but everyone calls it all-thread.)

All thread is nothing more than a contnuously threaded metal rod, usually coming in 10′ lengths (in the US). Like a 10′ long bolt. That’s a bit too long for what we usually do, so we cut it. The trick is, cutting it almost always boogers the threads, so you can’t thread the nut – which defeats the purpose of getting all thread in the first place.

What I learned today is that you simply cannot make a clean cut through all-thread with a hand-held reciprocating saw. I’ve tried everything. Long ago I learned that carefully leveling and securing the rod before cutting it merely means it takes longer to booger the treads with the saw. And today, I dispelled (for myself at least) the myth that laboriously running to bolts to either side of the cut will help preserve the thread. It won’t. And your co-worker will merely sigh.

The only thing for it is to de-booger the threads with a metal file (the one on my Leatherman works great for this). Make sure you get this step done before you go in the ceiling. I can usually clean the thread enough to force a nut on within five minutes, even after my own hasty, sloppy saw cut.

Speaking of things held up with more faith than the skill involved probably merits, Cramer – yeah that Cramer – went on for the better part of his show about how you need to sell stocks and buy gold because the sky’s about to fall. You, in the late innings of a close game, Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa will change pitchers for almost every different batter. So there are a lot of commercials. So I watch whichever cable news show isn’t running a commercial right at that moment, and tonight it was Cramer. And he said the same thing every time. If the bail-out doen’t pass, it will be Great Depression II. Buy gold before it gets to $1000/oz.

Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Lyon had two Cardinals in scoring position with no outs, and got a double play and a pop up to leave the inning with a 4-2 lead intact. Almost gives a man hope for the future.

Banking is like rigging. It’s gonna get fixed because it has to get fixed. The only questions are how long and how much.

Tomorrow, I’m getting up in the morning and going to work as if the paper economy is going to sort itself out, and walk under the ceiling as if the all-thread is rigged correctly. The Diamondbacks are back in the pennant race whether the banks seize up or not. So now its up to the lawyers and bankers to fix their mistakes.