Belize Blog Post 13 - Flying Scorpions and More Roofs

Day 95 - January 12 - Saturday
I got some internet time in today, posted the previous blog posts, caught up with Facebook and a few emails, and then caught the bus back.

One thing I got done today was to find a downloadable PDF of the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People". I'd read it a long time ago, but figured if I'm going to get anywhere in life, I should maybe read it again. Apparently people are kind of important or something? :)

So, in the ultimate of irony, I chose to go to my room to read the book, vs. socialize with my parents and their friends. Think about that a bit right? Ignore people, to learn how to like people.

I read until way after midnight, figured I'd get to sleep in on a Sunday morning.

Except I forgot, my Dad is here!

Day 96 - January 13 - Sunday
So yeah, my idea of reading the book till the wee hours in the morning, and then sleeping in?

I don't think it was even 7am, and Dad is knocking on the door. Apparently he needed wrenches to do an oil change. Yeah, that's more important than coffee even.

Ok, once I got up, it turned out to be a nice day, I helped with some stuff, then took some down time anyway, and read for a while out on my deck.

Later got caught up with family stuff, and we went out for supper. Not a bad day.

Day 97 - January 14 - Monday
Wow, today was a long day. I guess that's partially because I was feeling good enough to actually work the whole day!

Dad and Beryl left today for Cancun, they decided to drive their new SUV, they had been thinking of taking the bus. I might end up taking a bus to Cancun later, then drive down with Dad when he comes back to Belize. We'll see. Would be nice to see some of the country side though.

I helped take down the Jungle Scaffold on one of the dorms, which will then be moved over to the other dorm. Then I started setting up the metal scaffolds on the opposite side of the next dorm. That turned into an adventure of its own!

The side I'm putting the metal scaffolds is the down hill side, where there is some deep puddles. Like over a foot deep at best guess. Of course, the leg of the scaffold has to be in the hole. So I start with dropping half a cinder block in the hole, to see how deep it is. It disappears into the slime. Ewww. Ok, time to reach into the slime to see if I can make the cinder block lay flat. Not too bad, bit of wiggle, hope that's not something nibbling on my fingers... grab a board to lay on the top of the block, which of course the board then floats away. Go find hammer and nails, nail a few boards together, lay on top of the block, put scaffold on top of boards on top of block, in the slime in the puddle in the jungle... there might be a song in there somewhere?

Anyway, eventually get the scaffold standing up pretty level, then have an inspiration. Possibly from the after effects of the jungle slime.

Go talk to Jack, describe idea. See, we have these boards that are around 12 feet long, that we put between the scaffolds. There are only 3 scaffolds, by the time we stack them high enough to reach the roof eves. That leaves us with not enough scaffolds to reach from one end to the other, so we'd end up moving a lot. And on the muddy slimy side, I'd like to NOT move the scaffolds more than necessary.

So, the idea then, already. We have extra "C" channel metal, the same as what the trusses are made from. Well, not "extra" exactly, I'm sure we need some for the rest of the roof, but that will come later. So I figure, if I welded 3 of the C Channels together (they're like a 2x4 board that's about 20 feet long), that would be almost like a plank that's about 12" wide and 20 feet long. And it might be stronger than a plank. But I have to weld some together to see for sure. Figure if its a waste and doesn't work, we can always grind them apart and all is good. So Jack says sure, lets try. So after a bit of experimenting, I weld it all up, add some bracing underneath, and by lunch time I have the first one ready to test.

Put it up on a couple boards and cinder blocks (not too high off the ground, you know, just in case!) and step up on it. With a span of about 18 feet (had them supported on each end) it felt pretty solid, bit bouncy, but also kind of twisty. But it only twisted so far, then stopped. So, stronger than the board, and longer. After lunch, I had a couple people try it out, and they all thought it was ok. So Jack said I could make another one, and we'd go from there. So I did. About that time is when Stanley drops by. Stanley is kind of funny, especially when I start inventing something that he didn't approve. or with keys. or some other things. But mostly Stanley is ok. So I explain how this will save us from needing to buy more boards, and have to move the scaffolds all the time, and that we can always use these over again when we need them. So he decides that might be ok.

Later in the afternoon, I'm putting the first board up on the scaffold, and nearly caused a big bonk.

In the process of pushing the new metal plank through the slots on the scaffold, it got caught a bit on one of the braces, and I managed to push the whole scaffold (which is about 10 feet tall by now) off of its boards and cinder blocks and into the slimy goo. This then causes it to nearly tip over.

This would be a great time to explain that soon I will be standing on top of this contraption, so it would be really nice if it didn't actually almost tip over in the future, right? Especially when I'd have my welder and all the tools up there with me.

Side note, I'll be starting to use the new welder which is running on 220 volts, so that would be really bad to drop in the slimy goo. More on that later.

After I got my heart out of my throat, I had to go ask for help to lift the scaffold out of the goo, and put it back where it was supposed to be. For now its ok, but I might go find some dirt or rocks or something to fill that hole. Might be a good idea.

Ok, now its time to put the metal plank up, more carefully this time. Hey, how about that, it works pretty good. Just to be sure, I sent Jack out to test it. He thought it was ok too. Stanley declined. Go figure :)

Since its mid afternoon by now, I decide with all my success, I should go test the new welder.

We had spent the weekend making cords to power it, Russ made an awesome power distribution panel for it, and then we discovered one of the cord ends wasn't what we thought we had. So today Dad went to town and got the right end for me before they left. So all that was left for me was to hook it up, and try it out.

A few minutes later, I was happily arcing and sparking away. Wow, this is pretty awesome! I was testing it on the lowest setting, and it welds nice! Bumped it up to the 2nd lowest, and that works really great, so depending on what I'll be welding, I'll have plenty of power. I tested on a few scraps, then finished welding one of my welder sled rigs, then some more scraps, then I started playing around. Never did manage to over heat the welder, but time will tell once we get it up on the roof. But for now, I'm pretty happy with it. All I have to do now is get it up on the roof. Its a bit heavier, and a bit bigger than the other MIG welder.

Just my luck, I finally get strong enough to get my welder up on the roof by myself, and then they get me a heavier welder!

This is kind of weird, especially after the last month or so. All of the groups have left. My parents left today. John is staying at the Home with the kids, because Leoni is out of the country taking care of some family business. I am here basically by myself. Well, there is a night security guy out there somewhere. But its really quiet.

As for food, that's not so bad. The groups had all been cooking, so I never had to even think about what to eat, I'd just end up eating with them. Then when the Parents were getting ready to leave, Beryl made a big pot of beans for me, and then John said I should eat any left overs since he'd eat at the Home and didn't want them to spoil. There is a LOT of food here, so now I get to go through everything, and try to guess what will go bad first.

While sorting the fridge, I found some fruit drinks in one of the freezers. On trying to read the labels, which were in Spanish (I think?) I realized they were rum coolers. Hmmm good thing I was trained in the Navy for dealing with proper disposal of such things.... yum :) Pretty sure that would classify as for medicinal purposes!

I noticed my welding helmet has been fitting tighter lately, so tonight I decided it was time to shear the shag. There's something kind of scary about grabbing a clippers with a Number 1 guard on it, looking in the mirror, and hitting the switch. Probably the worst would be if the power goes off half way through! Glad to say that didn't happen, and I'm back to less shaggy.

All in all, a pretty good day.

Day 98 - January 15 - Tuesday
Tuesday started off with some rain, and it threatened rain most of the day, although it only rained in the first hour.

Mike and I worked together today. It seems kind of odd for the two welders to be working together, especially with only Mike doing the welding. As it turns out, we had to finish up some detail work, and it made more sense to just use one welder and get the stuff done. We worked the morning on the area where the roof steps up, at the mid point in the Dorms. What happens there, is the lower roof extends a foot under the upper roof, which itself then extends backwards about 2 feet for an overhang. This is probably one of those weird details that looks perfectly normal in the plans, but looks right weird in the wild. Maybe I'll take a picture of it sometime, but once its done, you'd probably not even notice it. The two of us worked on it for almost 5 hours, for one side, and the other side took longer yesterday. The whole roof is like that, too many little detail spots, they all take time!

In the afternoon we went over to the other dorm, and started putting the drop down brackets on, that the soffets and facia will attach to. Mean while, the rest of the crew was putting up the "zinc" on the roof we'd just been working on. By the end of the day, the zinc was about 90% done on that roof (the first half of the total roof, we've not put the trusses up on the other half yet.)

So to recap again, the building D, the smallest one, the roof is all done, including the porch now. One Dorm is about 90% roofed, the second Dorm will be ready for zinc in about another week. Then we'll converge on the last building.

And we're ready to start running 3 welder teams now. Should be interesting! I think we'll have the roofs all done by end of March.

And lest I forget, there are plastering crews working on the bathrooms now too. Those guys are doing some really nice work, preparing for some volunteers who will be doing tiles.

Day 99 - January 16 - Wednesday
Woke up to another wonderful day in Paradise. Its always a good day when you have more ants than raisins in the raisin bran, right? Interesting science experiment, I thought maybe if I microwaved the cereal a few seconds, the ants might run away or something. Not sure why I thought that might work, but after 30 seconds, they were still alive. So then I drown the ants in soy milk. And they say soy milk is good for you? Ants survive radiation, but die after mere seconds in soy milk. Interesting!

Mike and I worked together again today, he did the welding, I did the marking and clamping. Its kind of good being the "helper" for a change. In the real world, before you'd get to be a welder, you'd be the apprentice for a while. I think mostly its because you'd end up learning a lot from watching and helping. Mike is a master craftsman, and its good seeing how he solves problems as we go along.

Later on, in the afternoon, while moving the big welder, the front wheels fell off, again. I had welded them on last time, so I made a big joke about how inept the previous repair was and that the person should be shot. or sent home. They did see the humor in that. After break, I volunteered to fix it again, under warrantee, for no charge. So again, I used a MIG welder to repair the Arc welder. While I was doing the repair, the big welder was left up on blocks, and they continued welding the roof. By quitting time I had the part welded up again, and got some help putting it all back together.

After supper, I noticed a big black scorpion on one of the picnic tables. I have a theory, and frankly, it kind of freaks me out just a little bit. The scorpion may have fallen down from the high ceiling. Some time back, I had made the comment that "At least scorpions can't fly!"... but I don't know if a falling scorpion would be much of an improvement?

So of course I killed it. And the ants were on it in seconds. For some reason, ants LOVE scorpions. Dead ones at least.

Been doing some reading lately.

Like this evening, I found a book, called something like "Diary of a Wimpy Kid - making the movie" or something like that. Likely you may have heard of the original book, a comic, or "graphic novel" or "cartoon novel" or what ever. Its called "Diary of a Wimpy Kid". Anyway, at some point they made a "live action movie", with real actors, based on the book. So the book I read, was the behind the scenes telling of the story of how the movie was made.

I thought it was a good read, explained the whole process. Really laughed when they talked about the location it was shot in, because they wanted it to be a totally "Any Town, USA" movie. It was of course, shot in Vancouver, BC... Canada!

Then I've been reading more of "Win Friends and Influence People", the "classic" version is really funny in places, some of their examples right from the mid 1930s. No, I won't tell you any examples. Go read it yourself already :)

think that's about it for now!

Day 100 - January 17 - Thursday
(Oops, I didn't do any writing last night, so this is written on Friday)
Well, I almost died.

Well, not really. But it was a bit scary for a second or two. One of the Jungle Scaffolds had a twig break, that was supporting two of us. We dropped an inch or two, which is just enough to make you think you're going to fall, and its plenty of time to scream like little girls!

In other news, we have the soffet brackets on half of the third building, on the first half. Buildings 2 and 3, or more correctly said, dorms B and C, now have half the roof structures finished, and one of them has the red roofing on it already.

When we have the soffet brackets on, and the soffets, and the facia, the red roofing can go on the next building. So its close.

That means we are nearly half way being finished all the roofs. And we're getting faster as we go. Plus the supply issues are mostly out of the way, in that most of the materials are here now.

Day 101 - January 18 - Friday
Half Day - Pay Day
Felt like I'm coming down with another cold again. Will try to get some rest and stay dry this time.

I worked with Kevin today, he helped me weld the soffet brackets onto the second dorm. That means more over head welding, so there are some new burns on my arms. Mmmmm bar-b-q :)

We also got to try out the new work platforms I welded up earlier. Now there's an experience. The scaffold "towers" are about 10 feet high (2 sets high) and we spaced them every 18 feet or so. The new platforms let us span the whole 18 feet, without any additional bracing. This is as opposed to the Jungle Scaffolds, that are supported about every 8 feet or so. The work platforms are pretty strong, but a bit too flexible. They bounce and twist if you're not really balanced. But with the two of us, and the small welder, there was no problem.

Things are really clicking now. I'll have to post some new pictures, a lot has gotten done in the last week. On one dorm, the roofing is finished on the first half. We're going by halfs, because of how the buildings step up. That little step really slows us down, it turns out. It could be 2 separate buildings at the step, really.

On the second dorm we have soffet going on, on the first half. The next step after soffet is facia, then the roof goes on. Its that close. The plan now is to have each stage finished, before moving on to the next step too far. We'd gotten pretty spread out for a while there.

And of course, the plastering crews are working on the bathrooms, I've seen a lot of plaster getting mixed, so have to assume things are going fast there too!

Had a few JWs... Jehovah Witnesses drop by today. They talked about the end of the world and burning in hell. I almost laughed. I said I was a welder who works on the roof, so I'm well informed on the burning and the end of the time. I face that daily. They almost saw the humor in that. They then talked about paradise. I looked around, and said "I thought this was paradise."... they gave up and left me some flyers.

Day 102 - January 19 - Saturday
Internet day :)

By Carlin Comm posted on 2013-01-19