Belize Blog Post 16 - More Welding and Lots of Sun!

Day 115 - February 1 - Friday
Renew Visa!
So, got rained off the roof before noon today, so I hitched a ride with Dad into town to renew my Visa. Now we're getting some internet time in. Quality bonding! Seems so weird to have my laptop, and Dad has the Ipad!

Anyway, going to post this, and then fill in the details later.


Ok, its later, maybe almost 5pm. Ok, its 4:48pm. Close enough?

Its raining. No, its pouring. Its pouring like a freaking monsoon, as only it can rain in the Jungle. If you've never been to the jungle, you really can't even imagine. You feel the rain, not from the wetness, that would be cliche, you feel the ROAR of the rain, even before it gets to you. Its like a freight train. Its pretty awesome.

Anyway, I'm sitting on my deck, under the roof, so I'm mostly dry. There is some small water spray hitting the screen of my laptop, but its ok, I'm using a Toughbook, its mostly waterproof. So I am more entertained by the millions of tiny prisms on my screen.

Back to the rain. The cars going by look like boats kicking up wakes. Everyone slows down when it rains this hard. Or they crash. That happens sometimes too. I wonder how many people that I see on the bus, used to have cars?


Now to recap the day, what I didn't have time to do earlier when I posted the previous blog post.

The morning started off pretty dark, lots of heavy clouds but it seemed more like fog or overcast, so we weren't sure it would rain. I got the welder out, the cords, the helmet, the grinder, the clamp, the speed square, the... well you get the idea, its a lot of stuff just to go welding. Finally was almost ready to go back to get the ladder so I could go up on the roof, and it started raining. Ok, well, its early, I'll just cover the welder and leave it under the new porch, and go do something else.

Some of the perlins we got had defective galvanized coating, so we got them at a discount. But that means they would rust pretty quickly, so a few of us set them up on saw horses, wire brushed them with a grinder, and them primed them. I did that for a couple hours, until the morning break, and by then it seemed to be clearing, and hadn't rained in a while.

So we jumped up on the roof and started welding. That was about 10:30am. By around 11:45am or so, I could see one really dark cloud not too far away. I asked Jack which way he thought the cloud was going. He just started walking for the ladder. When a Belizian gets off the roof, it might be time to go!

By the time we got the welder unplugged and the cable wrapped up, it was raining. Its not a very graceful motion trying to get off a roof in the rain, carrying a 70 pound welder. But we got off pretty quickly, and got the welder under the new porch again, and I put a piece of scrap roofing metal over it.

As I was watching the rain pouring down, I noticed that the welder was kind of sitting in a low spot, and it might be getting wet. At this point, it was kind of sheltered, so moving it out of the shelter, through the open down pour, to the storage shed seemed a bit pointless. So I waited a bit, for a break in the rain, and then ran out to grab it. As I picked it up, I could see some water running out of it, which I'm sure will evaporate before Monday, right??

Since it was almost noon, and we only work until 1pm on Fridays anyway, I told Jack I was going into town to renew my visa. Figured no sense in waiting an hour and watching it rain right?


Belize is an interesting place to be. Especially for the vehicals you see driving down the road. In addition to the normal cars, shiny or wrecks, there are brands of cars you don't see in the US or Canada, some from India, etc. Or you'll see 4 wheel ATVs driving down the shoulder of the highway. Or like one I just now saw, a 3 wheel contraption. Best way to explain it, the front of a motorcycle, so the front wheel, forks, handlebars, gas tank, seat, and foot pegs. But from there back, is a cargo box, like a pick up box, with a rear axle and 2 rear wheels, with fenders. I've seen it around a few times, and as far as I can tell, it looks like it was manufactured, its not just something a guy welded together. And he rides it down the highway to and from town almost every day. I'll have to try to get a picture sometime.

Day 116 - February 2 - Saturday
Sleep in day!

I worked some more on the website. There are a few more features I'd really like to get working. Its really hard for me to find a big enough block of time to get my head into the code lately. I know there are some people who can just switch gears between projects, but I can't. Sometimes I see glimpses of code when I'm doing something else, and I'm just really frustrated because I can't go try it out. Then by the time I'm off the roof, and have eaten, and showered and everything, I'm just too tired to focus.

Afternoon Dad and I drove into town, there are 3 college girls who are volunteering at the Home, they decided we would be good test victems for their cooking. Turned out pretty good. No first aid required.

More rain the rest of today. By the time I got back home, it was one of those wasted days. Not enough time to really get into any project that I wanted to work on.

Now I'm just looking forward to doing something new with my life.

Day 117 - February 3 - Sunday
Sleep in day!
Well, woke up about 7am, that's about as long as I could stay in bed!

Worked on some more coding for the website. Urg. The stupidest things trip me up, and since I can't do a quick Google look up, I'm stuck. I now have downloaded PHP, HTML, and MySQL references, and still can't figure it out. What I need is just a simple tutorial. There is this one area that I've never taken the time to figure out. Now I need it. Its kind of one of those basic things, that if I'd ever taken a proper programming class, I'd know it. But in my world, I end up just learning what I think I need, then I move on. So there's no structure, and huge holes in what I know. Just enough to be dangerous, as they say.

It rained about 40 times today.

Saw a nice start to the sunset tonight, then it just went gray. The sky was all orange for a few minutes, looked pretty awesome.

Hmmm what else... Oh, I decided to clean my bathroom today. That's how bored I was. I think this is the cleanest its ever been since I got here. Apparently when I got here, no one had realized I was going to need a place to stay or something. So they gave me the keys and it hadn't been cleaned, in like forever. Apparently it never got much better on its own either! I have since found that some of the designs on the ceramic tiles in the bathroom were actually my boot prints, imagine my surprise when I mopped and scrubbed the floor, to see what color the tiles used to be!

Day 118 - February 4 - Monday
Seriously? Already?

Well, ok, for a Monday, it actually turned out to be really good. Who could have predicted that?

This morning I was still kind of tired, didn't feel as rested as I sometimes am by a Monday. Typically I really geek out all weekend, so by the time Monday gets here I'm ready to get back on the roof. I kind of did that, but didn't "feel it". Sometimes its just a matter of doing it anyway!

Today has to be the absolute best, fasted, most productive day of welding we've ever had. The new MIG welder FLYS. Well, no, its still incredibly heavy, so there is no hovering or levitation going on, but wow, can it throw some sparks and lay a nice bead. We pushed it hard, all day, there was no standing around waiting for anything, it was just weld, weld, weld. Never once over heated it.

We were welding perlins today, so there's not much to the set up, not much cutting, you just clamp and go.

A couple times I looked over at the other side, to see how Mike was doing on the big motor / generator Arc welder, and we were running away from him. Finally, we know that a MIG welder can keep up to, and weld faster, than an Arc welder. It would be interesting to test them head to head on some heavier steel, just to see how they did there. We both have to be careful not to burn holes in this thin galvanized material. The biggest difference is I don't have to spend time chipping. I can see right away what my weld is looking like, and it just gives me more control of what I'm doing.

Kind of nice after the last 3 months of using the little Lincoln MIG welder, which worked well, but never could weld for very long before it got tired and needed a break.

The weather was mostly cloudy all day, until the last hour or two, then the sun broke out. The clouds are still moving pretty fast, so I wouldn't be surprised to see rain like last night, but I've heard we might have a few more good days coming up.

They are putting the roof together on one of the "watch towers" on the dorms. Its kind of a chimney vent that extends up above the roof, the idea is warm air will go up the tower and out the vents, and draw the air through the building. At the rate they were going today, that should be done by tomorrow.

All in all, a really good solid day.

Day 119 - February 5 - Tuesday
Wow, another really good, productive, and HOT day today. I looked around at the end of the day, and everyone looked tired. Glad its not just me feeling it!

I finished welding the perlins on, and then welded the brackets on for the soffets on the one side, and then started the angle brackets for the soffets. We'll finish that up tomorrow, probably in the first hour. The plan now is to get the facia on that side finished, and the soffets, and then move the scaffolds around to the other side. Oddly, it seems that the jungle scaffold may not be used on this building, I saw guys taking it apart, and they took the boards off, but weren't setting them up again. Not sure how I feel about that if its true, they worked, but were kind of scary!

I'm sitting out here on my deck, its about 5:30pm, and in the shade its already feeling pretty nice. My deck is on the shady side of the building in the evenings. Sunrise isn't early enough to really warm me up in the morning. Its nice here, just sitting. I have some trees around my deck, then the uncut jungle is just a short distance away. Its not like big huge jungle, there's another residence on the other side, but its really dense. You could be 30 feet in and not see anything. Not that I've gone out there!

Last night I had a tough time going to sleep, I was sore all over. I think I'll be that way again tonight. We need a hot tub or something like that here!

Day 120 - February 6 - Wednesday
5:24 PM Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Day 120 - Wednesday, 06th of February, 2013

(Oh, look at what I just remembered, there is a short cut to enter the Date Time stamp... don't I feel silly, I used to know that!)

Today was another awesome and productive day, and again, I'm beat, worn out, and sore all over. Oh wait, my nose doesn't hurt. Sore almost all over then!

Its been pretty warm again, although we did have clouds for part of the day. One forcast had it at 60% chance of rain, so I carried my tarp with me most of the day, to cover the welder. Funny, I never think about a rain coat or umbrella for me, but I'm always running to cover the tools!

We're getting fancy now, there was not enough of the primer around, so now we're painting some of the perlins red, they actually match the roof. Not that anyone will ever see them once we are finished, but they sure look really nice. At least until I start welding, then they don't look so nice anymore. I should go take a picture of a before and after. The flux wire in the MIG really smokes and sputters as I'm welding through the galvanized, and now the primer or paint. Some of the splatters are almost artistic. Except the ones that burn me, they're just annoying!

Today for some reason, I just couldn't get settled on the roof. It always goes like that I think. I was on a part of the roof that only had trusses up, but the perlins weren't there yet. So the trusses are every 4 feet in one direction, and the perlins are every 2 feet in the other direction, at a square angle to the trusses. So I guess if I fall, there is a perlin every 2 feet, so that's pretty easy to grab onto one of those, but if I have no perlins, the trusses are every 4 feet, so a bit tougher to grab one of those, right? Thing is, the ground is the same distance away, and the top of the wall is still...hmm I never have measured that, its somewhere between 8" and a foot wide, so plenty of room to walk up there. If it was a board on the ground, it would be easy to walk on.

Eventually I did get settled in, and then had no problem walking after that, but some reason I got spooked when I first got up there. Just gotta get settled down and everything is fine.

Had a funny thought though, while I was up there. Why is it in the Olympics the only ones who walk on the balance beam are the little tiny ladies? You don't see any big tough guy gymnasts doing the balance beam. And yet, in construction, its all the big tough guys who are walking around on the top of the walls, and some of that has to be almost as narrow as the balance beam. Hmmm ... I propose a new Olympic sport, you'd put a guy, in a plaid shirt, and maybe 30 pounds of tools, nails, screws, a cordless drill, maybe pulling 200 feet of extension cord that is tangled up, and then make an obstacle course, go up a ladder, across the top of a wall, put in some screws, then slide down the other side... It would of course be above some aligators, outside in the rain, throw in some angry birds or something. Something more practical than, oh, say, most of the track and field events. I mean, how long as it been since it was even legal to own a javelin?

I might have been sucking too many fumes today, but to me, that all seems pretty good.

Oh, speaking of useful events, tonight after work I cleaned my ceiling fan. See, Dad has been volunteered to clean all the ceiling fans in the volunteer house. I figured he'd worked long enough on the others, so I did my own. Wow. You know, you look at a fan and think, oh sure, its a bit dusty. Dude, I'm a bit freaked out at how big the dust bunnies were up there. I mean, wow, how did they hang on so long? In the name of science, I told Dad to squirt some Pledge on the other fans, so since I didn't bother to shine mine up, we'll see how they all look in a month or so. I've seen fans coated with Pledge before, and I think it works really well, but I don't think I've ever done a side by side test.

I think my next project will be to invent one of those "Magic Fingers" beds you always used to see in the cheap motels. Do they still have those? I figure if I borrow one of the grinders, and put on a really lopsided wheel, then bolt that to the bed frame, that should work out just about right. It might be a bit dangerous, but right now I think I'd be tempted to try it. Back and shoulders and legs are pretty sore again. There is something just wrong, about the yoga type pretzels my body is warped into lately, all in the name of welding.

Its either that or buy more rum....
(today seems to be a good ellipses day)

Day 121 - Thursday, 07th of February, 2013
(Yeah, I just crack myself up. Of all the things I've done on a computer in the last 20 years, the ability to automatically generate a line of text, like the above date line... its the little things...)

Another hot, productive, exhausting day. Glad its done, and glad we had it too!

Perlins are just flying up onto the roof today. Another day like today and that building would be done. Except tomorrow is a half a day. And I heard that I might be switching jobs, so we'll see if or when that happens. I'll still be welding, but in a different area.

When they get around to putting up the ceiling, it will be drywall (sheet rock if you're more in favor of that term). Drywall needs to be attached, usually with screws, every 2 feet or so. Our trusses are every 4 feet. So we'll be doing almost the same as on the roof, welding something like perlins to the bottom of the trusses, to create a framework that the drywall will be screwed to. Seems simple enough, until you realize it will be ALL overhead welding. Most of my burn scars are from welding overhead. Lets just say I'd rather be up on the roof. And since we are only putting these frames up on areas that the roof is already installed, there is no natural lighting, and no ventilation. Oh, and we're still welding the galvanized steel, so there will be plenty of smoke and toxic fumes. Joy.

I might be getting a bit stronger, I no longer feel like I will die when I carry the new welder. That's the one that's about 20 pounds heavier than the little welder. Sometimes I still get help moving it around, but I am making it a point to be the one who carries it as much as possible. I think the guys appreciate it that I'm trying to help out. Even though they can, and do, run circles around me quite often.

Speaking of running circles, yeah, the new welder is definitely faster than the big Arc welder. Just had to throw that in again.

Anyway, not much more to say for today, it was hot, there was no rain, and we got a lot done.

Another good day!

And tomorrow is Friday!

PS 1 - Killed a scorpion tonight, first one in a few weeks I think. I was doing laundry, had picked up all the dirty clothes off the floor (in a neat pile, if you're wondering!) wrapped them in a dirty towel so I'd not drop anything, then I dropped the towel on the floor by the washers so I could sort a bit. While picking up clothes I saw movement, never good! Yup, scorpion. Oh oh, where did it go? then it gets interesting, picking up each piece and shaking, to find it again. No sense washing it right? Eventually found and dispatched. And again, in a matter of minutes, the ants were enjoying the remains.

PS 2 - John decided we needed a break, so Dad, John and I went into town for supper. Got a little teaser taste of internet, but I wasn't ready to do more updates yet. Don't worry, I'll probably go in a while this weekend.Of course, if you're reading this, that means I made it. And if you're not reading this... well, never mind!

PS 3 - I sometimes post stuff on my Facebook page. If you aren't yet hooked up with me there, look for me by my email address... ...

Day 122 - Friday, 08th of February, 2013

Short Day, and a quick Internet break. Will post what I have, then maybe write more tonight. So.... ;)

By Carlin Comm posted on 2013-02-8