Concrete Construction

By JoAnne Hewett | November 21, 2005 5:58 pm

Warning: this post really is about concrete. You know the stuff, the literal building block of our civilized world. Readers expecting a treatise on some physics theory with a solid foundation should just stop reading now.

Over the weekend I learned a new skill – pouring concrete! Today, I’m feeling strong and invincible, kinda like that Helen Reddy song from the 70’s that we would all like to forget but needlessly keeps running through our brains despite our best efforts to delete it, I am woman hear me roar….. Anyway, I installed a drain by my driveway and now run-off water from said driveway will be piped down the hill, rather than flowing under my foundation. Indeed it was a job that had to be done.

Okay, it’s time to admit that this was not a solo project, I had help. A friend engineered the project, while I performed the theoretical calculations. After the prep-work (involving several trips to the hardware store), I went to the concrete place (all by myself) and ordered the ready-mix concrete, 6 sack (still not sure what that means), 3/8″ gravel, 3/4 yard. I was feeling pretty confident until the guy asked me if I wanted it stiff or soft….I hadn’t prepped for that trick question….so I waffled and answered medium. The workers were all very polite, but it was clear they were not accustomed to a woman coming in and ordering concrete. They mixed my concrete, dumped it into a truck, and shoved me into the driver’s seat. I pressed down on the accelerator pedal and nothing happened. Thinking the emergency brake was on, I pulled the brake handle, activating a loud buzzer….after awhile I figured out how to release the brake, which deactivated the buzzer, and I pressed the accelerator pedal hard as I could. The truck slowly rumbled forward. Driving a truck full of concrete is not the same as driving my little sporty Nissan 240sx. But I made it and here’s the proof:

It’s a pretty new drain, isn’t it? I must brag that my calculations were quite precise, and we had just the right amount of concrete! (What does one do with left-over concrete?) Now I can’t wait for the rainy season to start so I can watch the water flow down the drain…

Last year, I frequented lumber yards and bought lumber (for the replacement of my termite-infested deck), earning me the nickname Lumber Woman. With all this new experience, if my physics gig or this blogging gig don’t pan out, I’ve got a backup plan – construction!

  • did

    They were asking you how wet the mix should be – stiffer is ultimately stronger, but it’s harder to get it where you want it. The technical term is “slump,” they make a lump of the stuff in a special mold, set it out on a board, and measure how much the mix sags in a certain amount of time. Next time, tell them you want a 4 inch slump, and tell them you want stealth fibers in the mix at 1 lb. per yard, to help minimize cracking. You’ll be pouring concrete countertops, in no time.

    I hang around contractors too much…


  • CapitalistImperialistPig

    Sounds (looks) like ya done good. You didn’t have any mathematicians helping did you? They are OK in the abstract, but not in the concrete;)

  • Clifford

    Wow! I was about to prepare a post on my paint colour mixing exploits over the weekend. Sounds so wimpy compared to your impressive concrete mixing…. Will do it later tonight.


  • almostinfamous

    What does one do with left-over concrete?

    ever heard of Luca Brasi?

    yeah. that’s where leftover concrete goes.

  • Plato

    Most of you admins should be aware of the space you have in order to keep your index on the side. I calculate about 420(?) so if you specify your picture widths to 2@210 then you should be alright, or 3@140

    Resizing, does that to the picture sometimes and makes them blurry.

  • JoAnne

    Did – thanks much for the tip! Next time I will look like a pro!

    CapitalistImperialistPig – that made me laugh! Thank you.

    Clifford – mixing paint does seem kinda wimpy compared to concrete. (insert smily face here. Note that I can pour concrete, but can’t insert a smily face!)

    almostinfamous – I gotta google Luca Brasi, sorry.

    Plato – Sean fixed the picture size. I can pour concrete but the web thing is still a bit of a mystery.

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  • http://Donthaveoneyet Bear

    Ah, finally a site that proves the metaphysical does intersect with the concrete. Me, I do the concrete everyday and dable in the metapyhysical. You did a fine job on this project. I am proud of you. Keep up the good work! Many people think but do not do. You think and take action; that is proof of higher intelligence. What a woman!


  • JoAnne

    It’s raining like hell tonight, and I wanted to report that the drain is working extremely well! Such a pleasant sound to hear the water gurgling down the drain.

  • Pingback: Rain, Rain, and More Rain | Cosmic Variance()


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