Tuesday, July 03, 2007


My spying continues. They are having workers replace the flat roofing in a section of the library. The other day I noticed that they had this flaming torch out there and I got excited. Unfortunately, the only shot I could really get was through this terrible foggy glass.

So here's a little bit about torch roofing from what I can gather on the internet. (I'm not completely clear on all of this stuff - feel free to comment and correct me!) When you have a flat roof, you have the option to use rolls of roofing material made of fiberglass and other material. Yesterday, I saw the workers laying down some very thick plywood with glue. They had a guy using this huge thing of glue with thick beads of the stuff coming out. Today they are laying down the rolls of fiberglass material on top. I think that the torch is used to seal the seams of the material so that it doesn't leak. At one point in the little movie above, you might catch him using the torch to heat up his trowel. That must be used to help seal the seams. I think it's about 80 degrees out there today but it was 95 last week. Hot stuff!

Roofing is best done in the summer so when you have a tool up there which is basically on fire, you've got a potentially dangerous situation. The person working the torcher has to be licensed (at least in some states) and there are regulations about having fire extinguishers and water hoses when it is being done. Last summer, the Learning Center's roof was being redone and it caught on fire. I realize now that it is probably due to torch roofing.

Incidentally, training programs are really important for safety in the skilled manufacturing occupations (which greatly overlap with the construction industries). It is also a necessity for contractors to have the proper certifications on hand for their workers in order to comply with state and Federal laws. So the question of who does training gets a little interesting because it is in high demand. If there is a strong union presence, they can require apprenticeships. This benefits the union organization's reputation, keeps their workers safe, and helps them build relationships with employers. Contractor organizations may sponsor training as well. Union apprenticeships are often much more comprehensive and, in my opinion, they are better in the long run for both contractors and the safety of the workers. Of course, some people will argue that the nature of these occupations have changed somewhat in that apprenticeships are only appropriate for people who wish to have a career in the building trades. This is not always the case.

The worksite at the library. The guy in the little movie was working in the far right hand corner which you really can't see in this photo - sorry!


Sorry this is so short - my batteries died. (As a side note, I'm looking into buying a real video camera so hopefully someday these will be less crappy.) I came out of the library yesterday and was unlocking my bicycle when I saw about 6 guys dancing to music. Campus is a little dead in the summer so it was a real treat to see them.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Here are some of the recordings from Patty in captivity. If it doesn't play right away, try moving the indicator a bit to the right - it may need to be jump started.

I just love it when she says, "Mom? Dad? I'm OK." I guess I really like the way she talks.