Sunday, May 30, 2010

Emergency vs. Post-Emergency

I've just gotten word that I'm going to be deployed as an Environmental Technician out of Houma, Louisiana. I have to drive over there tomorrow after I get a private course in CPR and First Aid. I can't work without a current certification. I also had a drug screening and had to give permission to an agency to do a full background check. I am thoroughly vetted. Now mind you I still haven't met anybody that works for this company. It's all been email and text messages and some phone calls. (which AT&T consistently disconnected, every one. A rant for another day.) I can imagine that in my first meeting I will be stringently warned not to say anything publicly about the project. As such I better use this opportunity to convey all I have learned up to this point about this disaster, just in case anybody cares.

Here we have a picture I took in Mobile, Al from Telegraph Road, north of downtown in an industrial area. I was out there buying a brim for my hard hat and some new safety glasses. In the center of the picture you see that shorter building with the decorative top -- that's the Renaissance Riverside. BP has taken over that whole hotel. I understand they have a command center in an office building next door. After my class at the hotel we were told go somewhere else to kill time while we waited for orders. BP didn't want us hanging around their nice hotel. Ruins the ambiance I suppose.

The class consisted of a person running through 107 Powerpoint slides of the worst possible design. This is the presentation that every single individual -- employee, contractor, volunteer, everybody who has anything to do with this clean up effort has to see. It is called the Mississippi Canyon 252 Post Emergency Spilled Oil Cleanup. You watch this Powerpoint presentation, you take a 20 question true/false quiz, you get a certificate allowing you to clean up JUST this spill. No other ones. 

First you may be asking yourself, "Post Emergency? WTF POST! Fucking oil is still shooting out like the whole earth is having abdominal cramps and voiding 3 billion years worth of carbon sequestration through that one goddam 2 foot riser pipe!

Yes, post emergency. According to the official terminology, it's only an emergency within a 20 mile radius of the source of the fresh oil. As soon as the oil is 20 miles away it is called "weathered oil" and is declared to be safe to be handled by anybody willing to do it. Keep in mind this is hazardous fucking waste. It could be outgassing carcinogens like benzene, toluene or who the hell knows what's even in it after they spray it with dispersants. (Corexit. That's the brand name. >:-/ ) The Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) has standards about what people are allowed to breathe and there are BP employees out there measuring the air, according to my sources. And there are 3 or 4 OSHA people going around checking on it. That's 3 or 4 for 35,000 workers. Now it's true that a lot of these workers are working in places that don't have any oil yet. They're placing boom over in Florida and counting boom every morning to find where boats drove over it during the night and messed it up. Just to be ready when the oil gets there. 

I have no data but a very strong feeling that the vast majority of people working directly with these hazardous materials have no health insurance. I know I don't. I had to provide proof of my automobile insurance, but nobody cares that I might get sick from this work and have no way to pay for hospitalization or doctor's bills. If I go in any area where the fumes are bad enough to exceed the OSHA limits then they will pay for me to go to a doctor and get a chest x-ray and other tests to establish a baseline of my health. I am all for that because if I get sick later I have proof that I was fine before. That's an OSHA rule. Go OSHA!

So back to this presentation. It was bad. It had photos of somebody wearing a life vest sideways, but no caption saying "This is the wrong way to wear this." The fonts were too small and kept changing. There were typos. But worst it just said random stuff with no follow up. Like "Some medication can make you less able to cope with heat and sun." OK, like what medicine? And what do you do about it? Another slide said "Some hazards you may encounter: Wildlife, sharp debris, snakes, mosquitoes." But it doesn't have a picture of a water moccasin or any instructions about not freaking out.

I got a chance to encounter this treasure again in the online version after I got home because I had to repeat the class for a different employer. I can share some of the quality with you here.
The fun starts right away with the registration. Do No Select? What? I was instructed by the email I got to enter "Environmental Professional." Well, closest thing I see to that is "Environmental Profressional." I'll take it! Profressional :-) That's going in my list of most amusing typos. I guarantee that by the end of a 12 hour day taking water samples in a 100% humidity and 110°F heat none of us are going to be feeling particularly fresh.

Here's some of the official description:

I was never able to get past the course outline. It wouldn't show me the Powerpoint slides again. I skipped ahead to the test. Or I tried. I guess BP didn't think to specify that their online training developer should use technology valid since the turn of the century.
Seriously? IE or Netscape Navigator? This screen shot was in Firefox. Chrome and Safari wouldn't even get this far. I had to run a virtual machine with Windows XP and IE to get to the test. I was so freaked  out by seeing that goddam green rolling hills default desktop picture I forgot to take screen shots of the test. I have pretty good recall though so I typed them up from memory. I took this test twice and it had different but very similar questions both times. The capitalizations in the online version were pretty classy. Like this: "It is ok to put your hands where they will get PINCHED." It slowed down my typing and my stream of consciousness to decide what to put in all caps though, so here's the first grade version, not the kindergarten version I saw. It's a true/false test. Try it yourself and then scroll down for the answers.

1. It is ok to put your hands where they will get pinched.
2. Wearing your lifejacket at all times will keep you from drowning.
3. Alcohol can dehydrate you and can cause off-duty accidents.
4. You should always have a buddy to look out for you.
5. You are your own Safety Representative.
6. This course covers all the hazards you could encounter.
7. The weathered oil may be sticky.
8. This course is a full time certification for other cleanup projects.
9. Safety zones are to prevent spreading oil contamination.
10. You should leave your tools in designated areas to prevent contamination.
11. You should wash your hands before you eat or smoke.
12. It is ok to leave your life vest unbuckled if it is hot.
13. You will only be in areas with no oil or weathered oil.
14. You should try to rescue any oiled birds you find.
15. You should know who your supervisor is and how to contact them.
16. Disposing of all Personal Protective Equipment such as Tyvek suits and gloves in plastic bags prevents spreading oil contamination.
17. Soda pop is as good as water for keeping you hydrated.
18. Hallucinations are a sign of heat exhaustion.
19. You should use your legs to pick up heavy objects, not your back.
20. Some medications can make you more susceptible to heat.

How do you think you did? Worried about trick questions? Here it is again with the answers and explanations. I got 100% both times because I have learned the test taking trick. Use no prior knowledge when considering the answer. Think only of what they told you in the training.

1. It is ok to put your hands where they will get pinched.

2. Wearing your lifejacket at all times will keep you from drowning.
True! The guy whose test I graded on Thursday missed this. He said, "but if I'm walking around in the woods....." Yeah, he thinks too much. He shouldn't work for BP.

3. Alcohol can dehydrate you and can cause off-duty accidents.
True. "A hangover will give you the heat exhaust."

4. You should always have a buddy to look out for you.
True. Awww.

5. You are your own Safety Representative.
True. Yes. Yes I am.

6. This course covers all the hazards you could encounter.
False. CYA, BP, CYA.

7. The weathered oil may be sticky.
True. They also said it may be "not pourable."

8. This course is a full time certification for other cleanup projects.
False. You have to look at another powerpoint presentation if you want to go pick up tarballs from some other "leak."

9. Safety zones are to prevent spreading oil contamination.
True. They're also to prevent people from going in places without the right Personal Protective Equipment. PPE is HUGE on an oil spill. They say PPE like 12 year old girls say BFF. Try to use PPE in a sentence today. "Honey, this casserole is ready. Can you hand me some PPE so I can get it out of the oven?"

10. You should leave your tools in designated areas to prevent contamination.

11. You should wash your hands before you eat or smoke.
True. The weathered oil isn't supposed to be flammable, but you still don't want to get it on your lips.

12. It is ok to leave your life vest unbuckled if it is hot.
False. Sorry. Buckle up for safety! Our trainer told a story about three guys that went overboard the other day when a tug laying boom tipped over their skiff. Fortunately they were in a place with no oil yet. Oh, and boat captains can wear whatever they want as long as they're on their own boat. No life vest, no boots, whatever.

13. You will only be in areas with no oil or weathered oil.
True. If only it could be in areas under 90°F with a nice land breeze and plenty of shade.

14. You should try to rescue any oiled birds you find.
False. People with this certificate aren't allowed to touch anything alive. You should report live oily animals to somebody and if it's dead, to somebody else. But you aren't allowed to touch it to be sure it's dead. They had a picture in the powerpoint of a pointy beaked bird covered in oil and a caption that you can be killed. I don't doubt it either. I bet an oily anhinga could stab his needle sharp beak through your eyeball all the way to your medula oblongata.

15. You should know who your supervisor is and how to contact them.
True. I don't remember this being in the presentation but I have a feel for this by now....

16. Disposing of all Personal Protective Equipment such as Tyvek suits and gloves in plastic bags prevents spreading oil contamination.
True. Some people in our class missed this one because it's overly simplistic. You also need to take a shower and do a bunch of other stuff. No thinking on the quiz.

17. Soda pop is as good as water for keeping you hydrated.
False. They had a color chart for what your urine should look like. No warning for this situation though....

18. Hallucinations are a sign of heat exhaustion.
True. No seriously. It's right before heat stroke.

19. You should use your legs to pick up heavy objects, not your back.
True. I never do this.

20. Some medications can make you more susceptible to heat.
True. But they aren't telling you which ones or what to do about it.

So now you have a feel for the level of worker competency BP is going for on this project. Soon enough I'll find out what it is really like out in the field. I hope to be able to give you reports of life in general on the bayou, but I expect I will have to sign some non-disclosure forms when I get there.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hurry up and wait

I got a new Twitter follower, the Oil Drum,  with some good information about the physics of what's going on at Deepwater Horizon. I'm trying to focus on the science of the operation to stop the oil because the stuff I'm going through right now with orientation and training is just not that interesting. No good stories, just feelings of being way out of my element in the safety group. I got a call from a sample collecting and wildlife monitoring group today. Now I'm waiting to see which one can deploy me first and then judge which job will do the most good. The misanthrope in me really hopes it's the wildlife monitoring one. For that one I need to pass CPR training.

Also there's a Delta 4 launch tonight to take up a new GPS satellite. With my new shifted schedule I won't be able to watch it live online, but I hope to fall asleep thinking about liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen burning with water as a byproduct. No carbon involved. That makes me happy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Go Top Kill!

So they turned the ROV away from the spewing oil to look at some other stuff so we can't criticize them in real time. Here's an article about how this is supposed to go down on Discovery News. Not to be confused with Discoverer Enterprise, the drill ship, shown here in a graphic of what didn't work the last time they tried something.

I should be driving to Mobile right now, but I can't stop watching this ROV video. (same link as before.) I got my HAZWOPER certificate Monday evening and sent it to a company in Atlanta with a BP contract. They called me yesterday afternoon and said to get to Mobile ASAP. They need me to watch people clean up oil. I'm supposed to be at the Renaissance conference center at 7 am. I could be deployed on a boat, in an estuary, on a beach. I don't have any idea yet. According to the online course I need three days of direct supervision by a trained professional in the field before I'm a legit HAZWOPER worker. I'm allowed to take pictures, so if my antique lappy can manage them I should be able to get some images up from the field after I'm deployed.

It will be 12 hour days 7 days a week for 3 weeks, so I doubt I'll have energy for updates about anything but the job.

Space Shuttle Atlantis Lands

I was checking in on the live feed of the oil well blowout to see if they had made any progress with that operation that was supposed to start at dawn when I noticed in the sidebar a live feed of Atlantis landing. Neat! It was beautiful as it came through the clouds and the sun hit it. The instant the landing gear came down it disappeared into a shimmer of heat and tree cover blocking the view from that camera. But then they showed it again from a few other views. The space shuttle really is a good looking vehicle. I mean, up close it kind of has complexion issues, but from a distance, very nice lines. And from the back with the giant engines, it's really badass.

Video replay will by probably be here all day.
Watch live streaming video from spaceflightnow at

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ocean floor web cam

Now thanks to CNN I have a little window in the corner of my screen with live coverage of the oil shooting out into the Gulf of Mexico. Constantly coming out.

It's sort of a nice reminder. While we mess around with worker safety training and purchase orders and myriad other details of business the oil and gas and whatever that light colored stuff is just keeps roiling and boiling out into the cold, dark water.

Of course it's not dark in the picture. Where is the light coming from? It's very well lit, this scene. I wonder who set it up? I assume CNN is just buying the feed from some outfit equipped for deep sea work. I guess they're paying so much they don't need to give them credit.

Update: apparently the feed is from BPs Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) monitoring the riser. I can't see this on my computer because it's apparently in Microsoft media server format. Apple don't play that.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Faster Caterpillar

I put some pictures from around the yard on Tumblr today. (This is a juvenile gopher tortoise that was under my clothesline yesterday. She's probably about 2 years old.) The more I study this HAZWOPER stuff the more I get nostalgic for the plants and animals. And honestly I'm pretty fascinated with dirt and rocks and water too. All this living stuff is not the last word in the world if you ask me.

But I concede that live things have more universal appeal, so I made this video for my nieces.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Bar Codes

I added a bar code to my blog with the URL embedded in it. For those of you living in medieval times and don't know about this, tech savvy individuals (aka nerds) have phone applications that let them aim their phone camera at these bar codes and effortlessly save the information. I would put this on my business card if I ever saw any live people.

This morning I got a high-larious email reminding me I can get another free t-shirt from Vistaprint, and half off image uploads. Maybe I'll create myself a large version of the bar code and have it put on a shirt. Nerd cred through the roof. I can't stop laughing at this graphic. This is the one the designer made on his last day on the job. He was hungover and just didn't care. Everybody has one really bad idea that makes it out in public and they are ashamed of it forever. You can tell he knew it and he didn't even try to make the lettering not look pasted on Stock Photo Man's chest. This is your bottom, Mr. Vistaprint Email Designer. It's all better ideas from here on out, fella. Good luck to you!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I like Safari

I decided to spend some of my precious savings to take an online course for the OSHA 40 hr HAZWOPER training in case it might help me get a job. I did the first section and got an error message saying my session timed out and I had to do it all over again. GAH! I logged in and went through the 30 slides again as I read my book, just hitting the right arrow key when the voiceover guy stopped talking. I thought maybe there were browser related issues with the pop-up window method of presentation, so I decided to download Chrome and see how it worked in that browser. Well the first thing I noticed is that the right arrow on the keyboard didn't do anything. Well that sucks. I had the option in Safari to just hold my wireless keyboard in my lap while I recline with my feet up and control the presentation that way. In Chrome I have to sit up and carefully aim the mouse and click in the slide. I just can't help it. I like Safari! People tell me how much they like Chrome, but for me it always has some issue. When I tried to use Chrome on my Mac Mini to watch TV on Hulu the cursor wouldn't go away and just flashed frantically at me the whole time. All this talk about which one is fastest, I don't get it. Never occurs to me that the BROWSER is the problem when I'm waiting for something to download. I just assume it's my lame DSL server in Arkansas. It really doesn't matter if you have a Porsche or diesel Rabbit, if you're siphoning gas into it through a cocktail straw you're gonna have to wait before you can go.

Firefox is far and away the most common browser used to read my blog. I have friends with access to site analytics that say Internet Explorer is the most common among their users, but not Spasms of Accommodation. I use Firefox whenever I have trouble getting Safari to work with forms. But honestly the forms where I used to have to go to Firefox, like my rural electric co-op online bill pay, it works on Safari now. Safari just keeps changing and automatically upgrading.

I was messing around with the analytics settings this morning and found I can sort browser choice by the average time spent on my site. Once you discount the SeaMonkey and Lunascape people at 1 and 2 because they are probably just one person each, it looks like the people that spend the most time on my site are Safari users and people who are stuck waiting somewhere killing time on their smart phone.

So does that mean people who like the same browser are more likely to agree on other matters of opinion? Or does it mean that because I work on my blog in Safari it just looks retarded in Firefox so people click away? Or maybe Firefox users have a really short attention span. I have heard from people who say they like my blog, then admit, "Oh, I didn't really read it. I just looked at the pictures." I bet they were using Firefox.

Back to class!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I was out on my bicycle with my camera and I surprised a family of otters in the creek. They ran inside the old culvert under the road. My camera couldn't adjust to the shadiness and didn't focus properly. I waited around hoping to see them come out so I could get a good picture. I could hear them inside the culvert fussing so I just aimed the camera at the water going into the culvert to get the audio.

Monday, May 17, 2010

No more Chef's Pond

My childhood swimming hole is no more. The dam at Chef's Pond washed away last week.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

STS-132 Video

I had a hard time with the music for this video. My first two friends online after I uploaded the first version both said the music was over the top, so I made this version. The audio recorded with my camera was pretty terrible. I can't tell the roar of the engines from the wind in the microphone so I turned it way down. I took audio recording equipment with a plan to stash a microphone in the woods out of the wind to get the sound of the shuttle, but alas I was missing the adapter to plug the microphone into the recorder. I fail. Anyway, Vimeo only lets me have one HD upload a week and I uploaded the wrong-music version right after midnight. I fail again. So I'm embedding YouTube on here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

STS-132 Launch Photos

I just uploaded the photos from the shuttle launch to Picassa (click the image to go to the link). I tagged the location so you can see where I was on a map. I tagged the first photo of the launch complex before liftoff with the location of the launch pads to show the location for reference, but the rest are tagged with the location where I was standing. I shot video of the last minute of the launch. I'll get that online later.

Check out my friend Jeff Jackowski's pictures on Flickr with a much better camera near the same place I was. You can zoom right in and see the shuttle and fuel tank and solid rockets very clearly.

Friday, May 14, 2010

STS-132 Launch Review

Space Shuttle Atlantis took off today with no significant delays or problems. I picked a different viewing angle this time. For STS-130, the last night launch, I went to Space View Stormwater Park in Titusville. I pored over Google Earth last Monday and decided I liked the angle of view from Mosquito Lagoon. It's about 13 miles from the launch pad, same as Space View Park, but due north of the launch pad. I'll post a map and stuff when I get home to a real internet connection. Google hates this wifi where I am. I am glad I set Spaceflight Now's Twitter feed to go to text on my phone on Thursday because that's the only way I knew what was going on today.

I left Melbourne about 10:30, got on I-95 heading for Stuckaway Rd. Of course none of the signs say that on them, and with my dyscalculia the numbered roads might as well be Japanese characters. But I saw a sign for Stuckey's and that seemed connected, so I exited there. Good call. This exit looks familiar to me. Craig, is this where we went to race go-karts back in the day?

I stopped at the various boat ramps when I got into the Merrit Island NWR just to scope it out for future visits. I'll put reports on those on the map when I prepare it.

I got a parking space in the power line right of way near the drawbridge over Haulover Canal, collected my gear, and set off on foot. My study of the aerial photos was effective and everything looked right. Right where the roads dead ended at the water there were about 4 other groups there already 2 hours before launch, so I pressed on. There was a place where a hurricane had washed over the jetty and left a sort of bayou that I'd seen on the aerial. I knew this was the main hazard in my plan. This turned out to be a valid concern. There was no beach to speak of, just very mucky salt marsh, so I went out into the water about knee deep, shuffling my feet through the detached sea grass. I was feeling a little full of myself as I left all those locals and their cigarettes behind when I stepped in a booger hole and went in up to my waist. I stumbled a few times trying to get my foot out of the hole and had to put my hand down that was holding the monopod and the microphone stand. I managed to levitate myself out and assess the damage. My Sony branded $6 Walmart camera bag went in over the zipper. Oh noes! I unzipped it and whipped the camera out. Just a little water on the bottom. Whew. Lens cap kept water from going in the telescoping lens. Turned on. All good. After that little stinking (literally. It smelled like the sulphur-sprinkled ass end of an African rat mole.) bayou bullshit it was a nice sandy border of the jetty to wade on. I was all excited when I got to the end of the jetty and found a nice little shady spot to rest in all by myself, in a grove of invasive exotic Australian pines. I hung all my dunked gear on a stob and unfolded my chair and got ready to wait 2 hours for the launch.

It wasn't long before the rabble showed up. Pontoon boats arrived and anchored in the canal and walked across the jetty to the clear view of the launch platform. Grandparents and three generations, the youngest in color coordinated PFDs came streaming across the jetty. People with little dogs, and a couple of retirees who put their chairs and an umbrella in about a foot of water and settled down. About 15 minutes before launch a flotilla of kayaks from A Day Away outfitters came out of the canal, banging their paddles on the hulls, and settled into the little bay next to me. Whenever one would stray more than 20 feet from shore the Coast Guard would blow their air horn at them. That is the limit alright! I wonder if you paddled north though, could you go all the way across the lagoon and find seclusion? There was a stiff headwind to paddle against. You'd have to start early to make it work.

The AM radio frequencies I got off the internet for launch control rebroadcast were wrong. I got some talking head ranting about something infuriating. I overheard somebody say it was on 1300 AM, so I got my radio out again and got a snippet of launch control before they started taking callers. I hate when they take callers, so I turned it off. And whenever I'd get a Twitter update saying something was happening I'd turn it on again. I waded out in the water with all the other people about 5 minutes ahead of launch. The AM radio station picked up the countdown at 4 seconds. I took pictures freehand until the sound got to me, then I switched to video. I don't know if I got any audio though. It was windy and the Casio EX-FH20 can't deal with wind.

I brought my sound pressure level meter along, but I didn't bring it out into the water with me. I decided I had enough to do with the camera, it wasn't really important how loud it was. I'll estimate it was less than 70dB. Not that loud, just real low frequency and necessarily cool.

The view from the north of the launch pad lets you see the shuttle cross a whole plane of the sky. It's way better than having it just head directly away from you. I liked it.

After the contrail stopped you could still follow the shuttle past engine separation. A few people whipped out binoculars and could still see it, but I lost it in the haze. I went ahead and packed up my stuff and started wading back to my car.

This is a nice spot to watch a launch. The angle is more interesting than from Space View Park. The traffic back-up to get back to the interstate afterwards is significant however. Next time I will plan to entertain myself out on the water for a few hours before going back to my car.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Spring Project: Utility Mini-shed

Out here in Beachton I pretty much do whatever I want whenever I want. Whereas most people complain they "don't have time" I have sort of the opposite problem. I'm just trying to pass as much time as possible while I wait for some kind of break in this recession. So when I start a project I really drag it out.

I built my tiny house on the land where I grew up. I use the same driveway, power lines, well, and shed that I have known since I was an infant. The house burned down when I was in high school and the site was abandoned. When I needed a place to build a house for cash as I earned it I was grateful to be able to take advantage of the existing developments so most of my money could go for lumber and fasteners. After I got myself settled in my little house I turned my attention to what I could do with the old burned down slab. I had a crew with a backhoe and dump truck haul off the big non-burnables like refrigerator carcasses, metal file cabinets, the washer and dryer, water heater and bathtubs. Then I cleaned the slab, brick porches and patio with a flat bladed shovel and a wheelbarrow. The large gauge copper wires were sticking up tantalizingly from the slab where the main circuit breaker panel used to be. Out by the well the other end of those wires were also sticking out after I dismantled the burned down (in a separate incident) metal well shed.

So my spring project was to see if I could make electricity flow again. That wire sells for $2.46 a linear foot and there were three pieces of it running thousands of feet. It was either hook it up or dig it up and sell it. I couldn't just leave it alone.

Back in January 2010 I found the creosoted 2x6 that had been protecting the electrical conduit and water pipe for the last four decades. (For the complete story and bigger pictures click the album link to view the photos and caption on Picassa)

Finally at the beginning of March I got up the nerve to try to pull the wires out of the slab. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I just broke the conduit with my hands and pulled on the wires. Notice all the treasure piled up on the slab behind where I've been digging. This is all the copper and brass and rusted steel and melted glass that I found while digging.

Out by the well I had to dig under the slab to find the galvanized conduit elbow to find out which direction the wires ran and how deep they were. Really deep.

I finally hit the creosoted board on this end and had to keep digging to find the end of it so I could get it out of the ground.


Here we are mid March and the pear tree is blooming.
From The Minished project
And now it's the end of March and I'm back on the project. I had to finally spend money on pressure treated lumber and bags of concrete. I wish I had splurged on 10' 4x4s but I only got 8' ones. They fit in my car better.

I got the wires pulled out of the well end too. Next to the conduit there are two 1 1/4" water pipes. One goes to the old sprinkler system, the other to the old house.

Now by screwing the water hose to the pipe in the ground I can turn on the spigot and see what happens.


If I plug up this end it comes out faster from the old water heater line.
Now I know where that water pipe goes, but now let's go back to the electrical. I called in professionals!
From The Minished project
I had a lot of extra wire at the house end but not enough to reach the panel at the well end. The electrician thinks he can pull the wire through the conduit and make it work.

How to tie three cables of heavy gauge copper wire to a truck.

It pulls.

Now back at the other end there is plenty of slack.

There aren't any more knockouts big enough for this wire so the electrician punches a new one.

They got the wire through the conduit and into the box. They heated the conduit with a torch to bend it around the corner. There's a utility pole buried at the corner of the slab that it had to bend around. Notice the burned insulation on the wire. They'll cut that off.

While the electricians went to lunch I got the box mounted on the other end. The electrician looked in his barn and found this box prewired with two GFCI outlets running off two 30 amp breakers. I said that would work fine for me until I figure out what else I need.

The state of corrosion on this old wire that's been buried for four decades. Looks kinda bad, but it is seriously oversized for what I'm doing anyway.

I had to do some more work on the conduit connection after the electricians left. They cracked the old conduit when they tightened down the collar. Fortunately they'd run the new conduit inside the old one pretty far so I had some room to work with it.

After I finished working on the conduit I cut the water line back at the plastic pipe.
From The Minished project
I glued in the rest of the 1 1/4" pipe I had from working on the part at the well then switched to 3/4". I hooked up a hose bib and then some PEX tubing for a potable water spigot. I might want a drink of water over there. All of the above ground parts should be resistant to freezing.

I put a protective sleeve around the PEX tubing because I don't trust varmints out here to not chew on it, nor do I want it to get degraded by UV. It's bigger than it needs to be, but that's what I had.

I trimmed out the spigot spot with some Hardisoffit and a piece of Trex decking for a shelf.

The future spigot. I bought two of these when I did the outdoor shower because I thought they were cute. Only problem is carpenter bees will try to raise their babies in there.

Paint first, then install the faucet. I used some Hardieshingle to face the back of the electrical panel. That's made with 2x4s and 1x6s with a 2x2 at the bottom. I used Great Stuff to fill the voids left by the 1x6s just so stuff doesn't try to live in there. I nailed the shingles to the 2x4s with hot dip galvanized roofing nails. Then I added some on the sides and used an old piece of galvanized flashing I had to trim out the top.

Preparing the roof. I have a lot of used industrial sheet metal I got from Metal Buildings after they replaced the roofs on a lot of mini warehouses. I scrubbed these short pieces and painted them with primer.

I used the maximum angle I could cut on my chop saw, about 48°, and made some rafters and attached them to a ridge. I propped it up on the structure and stood back to see if I liked it. This is what I mean when I say, "I just built it by eye." I don't necessarily know what I'm doing when I start. It just evolves.

See, it's just sitting up there.

Then I added 2x4s for something like a top plate. I screwed them to the posts with 4 Deckmate 3" screws. Then I marked the rafters in place and cut a birdsmouth in each one. The rafters and ridge are just sitting there, not attached yet. I'm still trying to decide what to do with the rafter tails.

I traced the center rafters to make the other 4. I decided on this plumb and level cut on the rafter tails. I sort of just marked it with a level in place on one of the center ones before I attached them then went to the chop saw and figured out the right angle of the cut with my lines to keep me from screwing it up. I cut the two middle ones while they were still screwed to the ridge.

Side view. Looks a little top heavy. You can see that I attached the rafters with big deck screws driven down from the top. This is a luxury afforded by 2x4 rafters.
From The Minished project
Primer! They say you can't paint pressure treated lumber until it's dry. Well despite my willingness to drag out a project I wanted to see how this was going to turn out so I went ahead and painted it wet. Check with me in a few years and I'll let you know how it turned out. Every bit of this project is made with pressure treated lumber. It was a toss up if I should worry about my fasteners rusting or the wood rotting. I decided the fasteners were oversized enough to last longer than unprotected wood.
From The Minished project
See the top plate touching the ladder?

This is how much I can move the structure just by pushing on it. This bothers me at this point in the project. A lot.

I added these braces and some purlins after a trip to town to get two more 2x4s. See I used that piece of lumber that had been a brace attached to the 2x4 in the ground.

We need a break. Here's a picture of a Cherokee Rose I took between painting the purlins and putting on the sheet metal. These project pictures are not very artistic.
From The Minished project
I guess I couldn't take pictures of putting on the metal cause it took all my hands to do it. You can't see it, but I pre-bent the top edge so water blowing UP the metal can't drip down the inside. The ridge cap was tricky. I had to buy this at Home Depot. I cut it long with tin snips because I thought I might bend over the edge. Well that was a disaster. I ended up trimming it into an artistic shape with my Dremel tool. I appreciate the little things. And I don't care how long it takes. Plus I had a whole canister of those cutting wheels and I used most of them
From The Minished project
Another break for baby woods ducks on a kayak trip on the Wakulla River.
From The Minished project
Painted and done!

From the other side.

I wish I had started with 10' posts.... But still, it's cute! The roof is blue on the bottom, like the sky, and brown on top, like the pine tree bark. The rafters are a different shade of brown like branches look way up high and the braces are asymmetrical like a longleaf tree might be. The shakiness of it continued to bother me while I painted it. The pressure of the paintbrush made it move. But I kept assuring myself that it was strong and stable and as long as I wasn't trying to sleep up there like Snoopy why do I care if it moves? A few weeks later it bothers me not one bit that it moves if you lean on it.

The next part of the project, which will be ongoing indefinitely, is to clean up the old chimney. The mortar that I break off will pave the area around the utility minished and keep mud from splashing up when I turn on the spigot and keep weeds from growing up. Now that I have power I can use a leaf blower to keep it neat.
From The Minished project
Now it's the end of April and I'm back on the well end of the project. This hole has to be filled up, but what to do about the plumbing?
From The Minished project
After consulting with my friend Ronnie (the archer artist) I decided to put a tee in the water line to the house, add a PVC ball valve in a box to turn off the water to the minished, and I also cut off the pipe for the sprinkler system and put a cap on it and a sleeve around it so I can get to it easily later if I figure out what I want to do with it.

Oh noes! When I was working on the other plumbing I created a leak at this joint!

I fixed it! I have a 14" pipe wrench I didn't have when I did this the first time. This is all MUCH tighter now. It's actually more convenient with the hose bib on this side too.

Oh noes^2! The main shutoff valve is leaking around the valve stem now. It never would turn off the water all the way anyway and I had to let it run out the spigot the whole time to be able to work on the PVC pipe. Now it looks like it's altogether ruined. What to do?!

Plus it's leaking here, too. I must have loosened that joint when I used it as a lever arm to tighten up the leak at the hose bib. Fabulous. So I decide to drain the tank so I can fix the last leaky bit of pipe and decommission the main valve. Now I have PVC valves at the house and in the line to the minished so I should be able to do whatever repairs come up. But draining the WHOLE TANK? It's a 550 gallon tank! What a waste! So I go to town for some supplies.

First I get two 4x8 sheets of styrofoam at Home Depot. I have to cut them in half with a random piece of flashing I found nearby in the store so I could get them in my car. Cost, $14.

Spread those out on the slab.

Next an $18 kiddy pool from Walmart.

Pipe insulation on the edges makes it possible to fill up a snapset kiddy pool by yourself. Otherwise you will make yourself mute cussing.

I needed more pipe insulation, but I managed with just this little bit and a closed cell foam knee pad. All this water came from the tank with the pump turned off.
After a while there wasn't enough pressure for the water to come out way over at the slab and I had to open the spigot at the well and just let the water run into my hole.

I took the valve stem packing nut off and prepared to cut off the extra bit of valve stem. I broke the handle off trying to get it to tighten enough to stop leaking.

All cut off. I'd bought a cap the right diameter to go on here, but it was the wrong threads, dammit. I had a new valve stem nut the same size though, so after brainstorming with Ronnie on IM I set off to make that work.

I have a butane stove that I used when I was camping in my unfinished house and that I use during power outages. Now it is going to help me solder a brass nut.
From The Minished project
A dime was just barely too big to fit in there, so I cut a piece of scrap copper tubing open and flattened it out in my vise, traced the dime, cut the copper roughly with tin snips then filed it down until it fit just right.
From The Minished project
All I have is electronics solder. I'll try to keep it out of contact with my drinking water in a later step. I tinned the disc and the nut and then heated them together over the butane stove and added solder from the inside.
From The Minished project
I made a cap! While that cooled off I went back to the rest of the plumbing problem, the leak in the last galvanized part before it goes underground. The tank was draining the whole time I was working on the cap. It was about empty when I sawed the plastic pipe in two again. It drained a lot faster when I had two openings. It gasped for breath, spurted out some more water, and then stopped.

I hooked up an new arrangement of elbows I liked better than before. I miscalculated and it was too short at the last joint though and I had to add another section and a union. Plumbing is hard!

No leak!

I packed the cap with plumbers putty before I put it on, just to be sure it would be water tight and to keep the well water from touching the lead solder.

Something about that little depression in the cap bugs me. Breeding ground for a single mosquito? I don't know. I have 1500 of these pipe caps though, so glad to find a use for one. It just fits right on there.

And now I can enjoy my pool knowing my plumbing is all fixed!

But while I was enjoying my pool I was distracted by house wrens desperately trying to build a nest in my minished!

Dammit that is NOT a bird house! I thought it was cute when I had to move two tree frogs off the roof when I painted it, but these birds are just messy.

They had a real hard time getting their nest to stay up there. Especially when I keep pulling it out whenever it gets about this far along.

Finally no piles of dirt. The hole is filled up. I kind of need some more dirt. I may have to start a borrow pit nearby.

And now the pear tree that hadn't even bloomed yet when I started has fruit on it as big as a chicken egg. Trees definitely take a different approach to a spring project. Steady progress versus my fits and starts. Either way we're both up against the birds at some point.