Thursday, May 10, 2007

Concrete

While I'm not an expert, or even a master at the trade, I certainly have journeyman status around concrete. Were I younger, I'd make a good helper to a concrete mason and I'd quickly have enough knowledge to bid jobs myself.

All that to say that I have spread a bit of concrete. I've poured the odd driveway, or the slab to an outbuilding, or helped with a patio or two. Generally at the knee of my father or grandfather.

I called home at noon today and learned that no one was in my backyard pouring concrete around the pool. I called the contractor, who told me they would have loved to pour concrete this morning, but that the plant was at capacity and couldn't deliver any this morning. Evidently, there is a large concrete order being filled, because he didn't know if he could get any tomorrow, either. He said that he'd keep trying and he wanted to be completed on this job by Monday.

Concrete is a basic building block of civilization, going back to the Roman times. It's made of cement, gravel and water, and once mixed immediately begins to set. Concrete waits for no man, but there are certain criteria that are nice to have that slow the setting of concrete. High humidity slows concrete, as does cloudiness. Concrete masons know that there are some days when concrete doesn't seem to set at all, where it just lays there in it's semisolid state, defying the natural order.

One doesn't want to pour concrete in rain. One doesn't want to pour concrete on a wet form. One wants dry weather when pouring concrete.

Dry weather is not a given in Louisiana. We live in a semi-tropical state and we are entering our summer weather pattern. The basic weather forecast for north Louisiana for June, July and August is as follows.
Partly cloudy with a breeze out of the south (or northwest) with the chance of an afternoon thunder shower.
That's it. The rain chances increase from 20% to 80% on a given day and the temps fluctuate somewhere over 90, but that's basically our weather forecast till Autumn. Which is to say, the chance of rain is every day and if you're pouring concrete, you take the day He gives you.

They pissed away a remarkable opportunity today.

1 comment:

HTRN said...

One the truly amazing things about concrete was it the secret of it was lost for something like 1500 years, only being rediscovered in 1824. "Portland" cement was named so because the "inventor" Joseph Aspdin, a bricklayer, thought it resembled the stone of Portland off the British coast.