Posts Tagged ‘engineering’

The hotel’s outdoor pool buzzed with excitement as the Floating Luggage Bridge Competition was in full swing.  Each team worked quickly, lashing together their own assortment of suitcases, duffel bags and rolling handcarts to create an elaborate floating bridge across the pool.  The crowd surrounding the pool laughed and cheered as they encouraged each team to build the best bridge in the shortest time.

I bobbed up and down atop my own gigantic military green duffel bag, surveying the frantic activity.  My perch slowly began to tilt to one side until it finally capsized, dumping me overboard into the water.  Tiny bubbles rose all around me as I sank, staring up towards the surface.  My nose began to bleed, leaving a crimson steam floating topside as I descended.  My butt thumped on the pool’s bottom, but I continued to watch the shifting, distorted images of the people above.  A Civil War era bullet plopped into the water.  It was covered in blood and left its own trail to the bottom.

I exited the pool and began searching for a means to staunch the flow of blood from my nostrils.   Wondering about the hotel’s gigantic lobby, I finally found a napkin dispenser on a small round table.  Seated at the table, in a comfortable looking chair, was a man reading the newspaper.  He gave me a dirty look as I took some tissues.

Once the blood stopped I made my way to the front of the lobby and outside the hotel.  The bustling sights and sounds of one of India’s grand cities spread out before me.  A steady stream of bicycle rickshaws plucked passengers from the front of the hotel and whisked them away down the street.

“Hi”

I turned around to find the source of the voice.  An American girl stood there smiling at me.

“Whoa,” I said. “I think that’s the first time anyone here has ever said a word to me!”

She just laughed and started down the steps from the hotel to the queue of rickshaws.  I could only stand there in shock, mouth agape at this incredible event.  As she jogged down the steps I noticed her blue t-shirt had a gray 4 on the back.  She hopped in a rickshaw and the pilot pedaled away.

Recovering from my amazement, I sprinted down the steps and jumped into the back of the first empty carriage.

“Follow that 4!”

The rickshaw driver stomped on the pedals and we shot out into the street leaving sideswiped vehicles and angry shouts behind us.  Number 4 was nearly out of sight when my driver cut across a roundabout against traffic, scattering rickshaws and cyclists onto the sidewalks as they crashed into one another.  The street took a sharp right turn to bypass a long series of steps down a hill.  Mounting the curb, my rickshaw shot up into the air, flying over a series of majestic fountains to come skidding to a stop just in front of Number 4’s parked carriage.  I raised my hands in triumph.

My victory was short lived as I noticed the passenger of the rickshaw we just intercepted was a woman wearing a #44 shirt, not 4.

“Damn it!”

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The gravel of the dry creek bed crunched beneath my boots.  Soon this would be site to a massive freeway overpass and changeover, a concrete spaghetti bowl of twisting roads and towering pillars.  For now though, the project was just getting started, and we were there to make sure it went smoothly.  Upon arriving at the site, Dad, Kevin, the others of our inspection team, and I set off to inspect the construction workers.

It was to no one’s surprise that we found groups of them simply standing around, idly chatting or even napping in the shade.  Typical Cal Trans bullshit.  They’ll never get this thing done on time. My father was particularly upset about the on-ramp not going up and left us to go berate the project manager.  He walked down the creek, directly under the suspended loads of the construction cranes.  Very dangerous.  Where are the safety officers?  Why are they letting him go there unescorted? It was then I realized they truly didn’t care.  We were on our own.

Kevin and I grabbed our packs and took off into the forest.  We soon came to a small clearing.  Filling the clearing were rows upon rows of young marijuana plants, laid out in a grid beneath suspended wires.  The wires hung a couple feet off the ground and were hooked up to a nearby transformer that was simultaneously running at two different frequencies.  The wires hanging overhead, positively vibrating from the electricity coursing through them, emitted a glowing neon green light providing the plants below perfect irradiated nourishment.  Underground, beneath the plants, was a mirrored grid of wires running at a very low frequency.  This enabled just the right amount of heat to work its way up to the plants.

I stooped to inspect the wires.  Fools.  The wires are a good idea, but didn’t they see how sharp they were? Some of the plants were already reaching the wires above them, and were getting sliced off short on the razor sharp edges.

Hunger was turning my stomach into a knot, so we moved on.  A wide meadow opened in front of us, its tall grass thick with glistening dew.  By now we were nearly starving.  I looked down and was overjoyed.  Scattered among the tall blades of grass and damp soil of the meadow was a trail of Fruit Loops.  Kevin and I dropped to the ground and began to ravenously devour each Fruit Loop we could find.  So fruity, so delicious, just what we needed.

A baby’s cry somewhere in the distance interrupted our meal.  We froze, straining to hear any more sounds in the suddenly silent air.  We kept to a crouch as we hurried to the edge of the meadow and hid behind a large log.  I poked my head up.  A trail ran on the other side of the log, sloping down to the creek bed far below.  From here we could see the construction site, the workers finally moving about, hauling wheelbarrows full of gravel.

I spotted a coyote down near the end of the trail.  Coyotes can be dangerous, but usually only if they are hunting in a pack. Good thing this one was alone…  It took only seconds for me to notice the other 2 coyotes sprinting up the trail towards me, yipping and howling, but those were precious seconds I couldn’t spare.  I took off at a sprint in the other direction, but I knew my chances were slim.  Frozen in terror, Kevin remained motionless, crouched atop the log.

The rapid sound of padding feet grew closer behind me.  I wasn’t going to outrun them.  Planting my foot down firmly I skidded to a halt and turned to stand my ground.  The lead coyote leaped, lunging with its snapping jaws for my face.  I reached out and grabbed it by the throat with both hands, trying to strangle the life out of it as I held it at bay.  The other two in the pack arrived, and I desperately flung the coyote in my grasp back and forth, attempting to shield me from the other vicious hunters.

Denver, CO

I spread the water treatment plant design plans out over the cluttered table, tracing the pipelines with my fingers.  An overhead photo of the city took up an entire wall of the room.  I laid the plans over the location the plant would be built.  The scale matched up perfectly.

“So do you want to go look at it?,” asked my boss.

I began doing up the laces on my steel-toed boots, but it wasn’t to go out to the job site to see the construction.  I was going to try and bail work early and go home.

“Come on, it will be fun,” he said.  “I’ll show you how to get there.”

I shrugged.  Might as well, I had nothing better to do.

He began to trace out walking directions on the wall map.  A thick navy blue line appeared where his fingers touched the wall.

“You’ll have to come out on this curved street.  Then the road branches and you can either go over the bridge or you’ll have to cross the running track.”

I chose to cross the running track.  It was state of the art, a beautiful polished hardwood track running across streets and through buildings.  I came upon it as it went  through a large gymnasium.  The runners’ feet gently pounded the wood in a rhythmic thump.  Alongside the track stood a series of observation platforms hovering a few feet above the floor.  From there I could stand and watch the runners.  Each platform was mounted on a twisting series of hydraulic pistons and hoses.

I stood on a platform and relished in the amazing feel of it.  Each footfall of every runner resonated up through the platform.  I could feel their feet pounding the wood; how their heels touched first and the pressure passed on to the balls of their feet.

I left the platforms and continued on my journey.  Paralleling the track ran a soft, padded rail upon which I walked, arms spread out for balance.  A group of high school students was on a tour of the facility.  I decided to join them.  The tour led to a small tunnel we had to enter.  The opening was three feet square, the tunnel itself lined in padded emerald green mats.  We entered crawling on our hands and knees.  The tunnel took several sharp turns, working its way around and down.  A young couple was crawling in front of me.  They were too slow, so I passed them, squeezing by in the next turn.

There was a man in the tunnel.  He had a gun.  He kidnapped the young couple and me, took us to a house.  He stuck us in the living room.  The young girl left for an adjoining bedroom as the kidnapper went outside through a sliding glass door, to his truck to make his getaway.  Sirens sounded in the distance.

With an angry glare, the kidnapper got out of the truck and came back in the house through the sliding glass door.  He now had two semi-automatic pistols.

“Who called the cops?!”

I held my hands up, pleaded with him.  “It wasn’t me!  Look, how could I have called the cops while eating both these yogurts?”

To emphasize my point I took the two spoons I had been eating yogurt with, grabbed the ends opposite the handles, and firmly squeezed the spoonfuls of cold strawberry yogurt between my thumbs.

“It must have been her.  She called the cops.”  I pointed to the bedroom.

With a savage snarl he walked over to the wall separating the bedroom and the room we were in.  She was hiding in the closet on the other side.  He raised a gun at the wall, aiming for where she would have been.  With a sudden smile he mimed firing the gun.

“Pchoo”

Approaching the wall he shoved aside a portion of it.  She screamed in terror as he took her.