Rest Area 300m: March 2005

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Frying Tonight.

It's been a while since we had anything decent fall off the back of a truck. In the glory days before the sharper corners in the Gorge were shaped and realigned a large deep freeze was a must. If a refrigerated truck fell over, the first priority after getting the unfortunate driver away in the ambulance was, ...ahem..., salvage. I have heard tales of fire engines loaded with steak, police cars stuffed with joints (of the lamb variety ) and road workers living high off the hog for months. These days it is more likely that a truck will have supermarket trolly frames, or drilling rig parts, or some other totally uninteresting cargo. There is also the possibility that they contain very rank and offensive offal on it's way to a rendering plant, or as happened a while ago, glue. The heart does still race a bit though when the call out comes. One day, if my dreams come true, a huge semi full of single malt whisky will gently fall over not far from my door.
 Meanwhile in the UK;
"Thirteen tonnes of wet fish worth about £80,000 spilled out of the back of a lorry over a road today.
The fish was boxed in ice crates and was being towed in an articulated container up Spread Eagle Hill, in Shaftesbury, Dorset, by a lorry registered to a foreign company. ....... A spokesman for Dorset Police said: “Apparently, fish were all over the road.”
The temperature in Dorset today was pretty cool. " (Maximum temperature 13 deg C (55 deg F)." I think the Council workers and the inhabitants of Spread Eagle Hill will soon be sick of fish.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

You Rang Sir?

Well it seems it was a fairly normal holiday break. Despite the worst Easter Road Toll for 10 years we had no fatalities or serious accidents on our highway. Plenty of close ones though. The Farmers are out fixing their fences in several spots where holidaymakers have joined the scenery, a few road signs have been demolished, there are tell gouges out of a few banks, a garnishing of plastic bodyparts here and there, and I see the local towie has a yard full of somewhat battered holiday wagons.There are also a zillion marker pegs that are broken or bent. The modern marker peg as used in New Zealand are plastic with reflectorised tape. They will stand a bit of abuse but don't like being driven over too often. Harvesting time is the worst, as tractors towing oversized machinery hug the road sides. There is one straight section of road where we have had no end of problem with broken markers. I was driving through it the other day when I think I solved the mystery. After miles of no cell phone coverage, suddenly you hit coverage and it is smack on that straight. So the phone rings, you pull over, another marker post dies.

"Open The Pod Bay Door Hal"

"I'm afraid I can't do that Dave"
Like a lot of people I am having issues with Blogger. Can someone give it a swift kick, works with most things.
Rest Area 300m

Meanwhile, ... Back at the Lab, The Toilet Duck works on.........

An agricultural company worried at the amount of nitrogen leaching from pasture has invented a spray device to attach to the tails of dairy cattle.
The Tail-Activated Urine-Incorporation of Nitrogen Extender system will fire a blast of nitrogen inhibitor into the urine patch every time the beast lifts its tail to answer the call of nature.
A switch will be mounted under the tail to trigger spraycans attached to the animal's ankle.
Well they could put in a deoderant and a fly spray too......

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I Am The Resurrection & The Life

Having climbed from the Oldfart sickbed and still a tad tender, I was today reunited with my old truck, which is also a tad tender following it's collapse into the blackberry. By tomorrow, with copious amounts of chicken soup and diesel, we should be both back prowling the highways. Meanwhile Mrs Fart has succumbed and taken to bed, having somewhat selfishly eaten all her Easter Eggs, which I had my eye on. Here I can see a flaw in my "earthquake theory" of eating best things first. It is a bit rough on survivors.
Rest Area 300m

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Kiwi Patient.

I have been having my holidays "at my own convenience". I do not recommend it. I don't recommend doing an image search for diarrhea either. To be unable to eat an Easter Egg or seven, is to be truly ill. However I am well into recovery mode and settling into my first packet of Hot X buns.
Rest Area 300m

Sunday, March 27, 2005


Damn, fancy getting sick in the holidays..... I must away to my sickbed with a bad case of the vapours. "Nurse! more grapes"
Damn, heaps of sick leave left too. *Thinks icecream, I bet I could keep that down.* "Nurse!"
Rest Area 300m

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Have a Safe & Happy Easter Break
Rest Area 300m

Friday, March 25, 2005

When I win Lotto, part 1

When I win the Lottery it will have to be a big one. I have plans. I want to make a few trips. The first to Scotland, via Coventry. There I will pick up a new Jaguar limo, and a Nurse. I might have to put a bit of dosh about to get a disability sticker too, but with a few zillion dollars that won't be a problem.
I have a one legged mate who will let me use his, but he wants to come too and I dont think I could trust him around the Nurse.
The Nurse will have to be able to drive, handle bookings and bribe officialdom. She will have to have other assets too, but if I ponder those too long, I get all over heated and at my advanced age real harm could result. Much better I ponder the itinerary. There are over a hundred whisky distilleries in Scotland, and only so much time. I have a map. The big dilemma is whether to go clockwise, anticlockwise, or straight up the guts.
I better win this huge pile of money soon, or I might just have to pick the eyes out and go straight to a few of the older single malt distilleries. I suppose if the lottery doesnt come through I could try for a Government Grant.
Something along the lines of "Studying Craftsmen in rural Scottish Communities" might do it.
Rest Area 300m

There is no doubt now, that Autumn is in the air here in the Antipodes. The need for firewood is becoming urgent. We are looking for "Hazardous Trees", anything that could end up on the road in winter storms. One of the great perks of the job is the fact that with machinery and trucks it is possible to get a winters supply in minutes. Sadly most of the trees that can cause trouble are of the willow family and not much good as firewood. Over the fence, however, is a dead standing Lawsoniana, and we have a wheeled digger & loader working just down the road after Easter. A little coordination and a box of beer should see the job right.
···Of course Autumn here means Spring in the Northern Hemispere;
"About this period of the year there is, all over the Union, or at least all over the Northern States of the U.S., a general repairing of roads. The frost is fairly gone. The scars the snow and winter torrents have left on highways have to be removed. The season for riding has fairly set in, and ways have to be made safe and pleasant for the great swarm of buggies, wagons, rockaways, barouches, gigs, and chaises, which issue from their winter hiding-places as soon as the spring mud has dried. The roadmasters, contractors and selectmen accordingly go to work with great zeal and assiduity to put the public high ways in order, and the way in which they attempt to do this is so extraordinary that nothing but long habit prevents the public from enjoying its absurdity."
Rest Area 300m

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Holidays a go go

Easter Holidays are on us. We have our section of the State Highway all spick and span. Signs have been washed, Rest Area rubbish removed, potholes attended to, & all road work sites have been buttoned up ready for the travelling horde. Long Weekends always produce the most concentrated light traffic. Truckies have holidays too. The behaviour of the traffic stream is different as well, normal weekdays have the more professional drivers. Holidays bring out those who would normally drive just a few miles a day in a different enviroment. Just to make things interesting, we have had a long fine dry spell, unfortunately the holiday forecast is for rain. If it is heavy we could get slips & accidents. If it is just showery I can just lounge about and not mow the lawn. A steady drizzle please!
Rest Area 300m

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Twin Overhead Cams, Slipping clutch, Double Take.

I reckon it would take balls to drive around in this.
Rest Area 300m

Monday, March 21, 2005

Mooove right along please

These signs are peculiar to Taranaki. I like them, they are quirky, and not as boring as the usual "Drive Safely" signs.
   There has been a lot of sealing work going on in the last week, which almost guarantees a bit of panel shop work. Loose chip is nearly as slippery as ice, yet traffic will ignore the 50k limit and pay the price.
   While sorting out a pile up in the weekend one lady passing through asked some of the crew about, "The Whiskery Guy, a nice man who helped me a few months ago when someone ran into me...."
   I remembered all right. A frantic motorist called in to the house I was living in at the time to get someone to call an ambulance.
When I heard it was a head on crash, knowing the corner, and involved a woman and baby, I feared the worst. I rang the emergency services, and went down in my truck which has a fleetlink R/T with my rather pathetic first aid kit. They were lucky, it was a substantial glancing blow. Both cars ended up in a soft clay bank. Safety belts and air bags had done their work. Bruises, shock and two totalled cars were the outcome, the baby in a restraint even slept through it all. I rang her parents and arranged for them to pick her up from the ambulance depot, and all was well.
   Three months before this crash, we installed 4.5 tonne concrete blocks around the corner to help contain slip debris. We didn't like putting them in, they looked very hard and final. It bugged me. We had a big " half way through the maintenance contract" meeting at which they stressed safety. They (The Bosses) said that if you pass by something that is unsafe and don't do anything about it then it is your problem too. I saw my chance. I stood up and told them we were building a death trap and the room went very quiet. Then, "Just the sort of feedback we are after Doddery" the Boss said.
A month later, at a cost of thousands of dollars we pulled them all out again. Hitting a slip is one thing, but a 4 and a half tonne concrete block takes no prisoners.

Rest Area 300m

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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Now there's an idea......

AUSTRALIA'S most famous road worker, Warwick Capper, is taking his stop-go sign on the road to strip tease at a comedy festival.
"When Capper was discovered by The Sunday Mail flipping a stop-go sign last month, he was quick to play down the furore and denied he had fallen on hard times.
"I needed to do something casual because I'm a very busy man and I'm away all the time," he said.
"It's certainly been an eye-opener. Even though I don't do too many hours, it's a lot harder than life as a celebrity."
Capper will appear as the opening act in the "wicked" stage comedy Life After Dick, dancing with his stop-go lollipop sign before stripping off the work clothes to reveal his trademark tight footy shorts.
"I am looking forward to it . . . I am not going to go full nude, they are not paying me enough and I save that for Penthouse," Capper said.
"But I will bring the show plenty of razzamatazz and sex appeal. I was God's gift to the galaxy, you know."
The poor deluded fool, Move over Capper, Dodderynudefart is God's gift to the Universe.

"It is not greed"

The first earthquake I remember was in primary school. It was a beauty. I remember the teacher suddenly going white and yelling "get under your desks". The old school rolled and groaned. Books fell and the lights swung wildly. Then just as suddenly it stopped and all was still. I was still sitting open mouthed in my seat. There was chalk dust in the air. "Bugger that", I thought, "I don't like earthquakes."
Of course over the next few days the teachers made the most of it and we learned heaps about earthquakes, tectonic plates, and fault lines. New Zealand is not known as the shaky isles for nothing. We were told what to do when the next one hit. Stand in a doorway, don't run into the street etc. I have developed my own strategy. I always eat my favourite thing on the dinner plate first.
At least then, when I am trapped under a pile of rubble, I can feel smug about having the sense to eat my steak before the potatoes. There is no point in hiding Easter Eggs around this house. The big one could hit any time.

Friday, March 18, 2005

"Good Morning Judge" Day

I was once a cadet reporter. Under heavy parental pressure to "Get a career..." but still not really knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up, I went in to the City Newspaper office to get a first edition & look up the job ads. Suddenly it dawned on me. "Dodderyyoungfart, Ace Scoop Reporter." I conned a job by fronting up to the Editor himself. My mates started calling me "Scoop" but the reality of the job was an endless list of tedious meetings. Page 23 the next day might have my masterpiece. "Officers elected at a recent meeting of the Rongatai Rowing Club, were as follows; Joe Blogs Pres. Mrs Bloggs Secretary, etc etc." I eventually made Court Reporter, but only at the Magistrates Court where an endless stream of poor people were persecuted & prosecuted. It was always busy the day after St Patrick's day. " So Paddy" the beak would peer down at some now sobered Wretch, "Your 49th Drunk and Disorderly, .... St Patrick's Day was it?" There would be an inaudible mumble, a sigh from the judge and a $10 fine.
   It seems things haven't changed much. March 18th is still "Good Morning Judge" Day.
MIDDLETOWN — A 76-year-old nun has been charged with driving while intoxicated after an accident on the Garden State Parkway as she was returning from Belmar's St. Patrick's Day parade, state police said ....

Not Many Cylinders, Strokes, Or Valves.

"The Frisky Sport was powered by a 2 cylinder, 2 stroke, 325c.c. Villiers engine.
It had a welded steel tube chassis and roller chain transmission in an oilbath.
The car could cruise at 65m.p.h. and had a fuel consumption of 60m.p.g. It was capable of seating 2 adults and a child."

This would have to be about the size of our ride-on lawn mower, with an engine not much bigger. I love the name though.

Scene. Flash Hotel Bar
Bronzed hunk in oh so casual clothes is lounging against bar.
Attractive Slinky Blonde is perched on bar stool.
Bronzed hunk casually tosses car keys in one hand.
ASB huskily.. "So, what kind of car do you drive?
Bronzed Hunk, "A Frisky" pause "A Frisky Sport"
ASB *swoon*

Rest Area 300m

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Which reminds me, I haven't been fishing for a while.
Rest Area 300m

Knowing The Road.

The most confusing thing for a newbie road worker is learning the road. You may be sent to "Marmonts" " Truckies" "The Jesus Rock" or "Paycart Corner". We have 200 kilometres to look after, and you may think you know the road fairly well, but you have to get to know it intimately, - after a couple of years I'm just getting to grips with it. Most corners, or places, are named from people who live, or have lived there, often years ago. We have a system of marker pegs which can pin point a place on the road. They are every 1 kilometre, and within a "block section". The 103/4 peg is 103 + 4 kilometres from the beginning of State Highway 3 in Hamilton. You can then get down to the nitty gritty by counting the white lines in the middle of the road (10 metres apart) or using a rally trip meter. The usual method though would be a description. " This side of Marmonts, up from the Amco (barrier), where the culvert into the paddock is..... "
Some of the names are very old. I asked about "Paycart", it seems that in the old days that was where the men would gather to get their wages in cash. It was a handy spot for those who had to come down from the back roads, or across the river, and was just up the road from the pub. "Truckies Corner" was nick named that for the number of trucks that went off the road or fell over there, until the camber was fixed and realignment work done. The "Jesus Rock" was so called for the "Jesus Saves" graffitti painted on it. "Downers Cutting" for the firm that made it. Each corner or section of the road has a story, the old guys can tell you who made each corner or cutting, and what they used. They will tell you of parties, fights, drunken grader rides, and bulldozers hurtling over bluffs, of slips that closed the road for days, of fires and floods. I've already got a wee bit of the road, "Where your truck fell over".

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Impulse Car Buying.

I'm not very good at buying cars. I have gone to the car yards to buy a nice and thrifty diesel stationwagon and come home in a Jaguar Xj6. I never regretted it, it was a fantastic car to drive, hugged the road and ate miles and gas. It was amazingly reliable. Then I went into town to buy a 4x4. I came home with a mazda MX5 miata. I haven't regretted that either. It is fun, cheap to run, and liberating. It also makes a change from driving a truck.
In my time I have had heaps of cars, just about all of them if they were alive today would be worth a lot of money. None more so than an AC I bought in London. I was working for an car dealer in Kensington in the late sixties, as a delivery driver. I shifted cars about the depots all over England. I got paid bugger all but I tooled around in sports cars and limo's and had unbelievable street cred. One day a couple traded in an AC sports saloon of 1939 vintage. It had a knock in the engine. I bought it for 40 pounds. It had 4 on the floor, a 6 cylinder overhead cam engine with 3 carburettors, wire wheels, and all the fruit. I hacked around in it for a while, the knock was obviously a big end. One day a guy knocked on the door of my hovel and asked if I wanted to sell it. I got 50 pounds for it and was well pleased with myself. I went to Spain & other warmer climes for a while. A year later while sitting in a waiting room somewhere, I picked up a magazine of the Country Life variety, and there, in an ad by a "purveyor of fine automobiles" was the AC.
It was being sold "with a damaged engine". It said it was one of only 6 made and was exhibited at the London Motor Show. It was a snip at 2500 pounds. I felt sick. Suddenly I understood why the guy was so careful about a receipt. I'm still pissed off about it.
I haven't been able to find a photo of the saloon on the net, but only the sports car. It was for sale, not as rare, they made 42 of them. It was priced at US $ 115,000
Rest Area 300m

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Mouse Benders

When I end up in the old peoples home, I want it to have broadband internet. I want to be allowed to soup up my mobility scooter, fit chrome air horns to it, and I will demand the right to pull it to bits in the bedroom. It is reassuring to see that people are starting to think ahead. You can now get an anti tremor mouse which was invented for the oldies, but would be damn handy for post bender blogging. There is a rather intriguing bit in the item about the anti tremor mouse,
   "James Cosgrave, one of the company's directors, said it would make a big difference to those with tremors.
"I'm a pilot and my tremor condition has not limited my ability to fly a plane," he said."
I bet it doesn't fill his passengers with confidence though.
Image pinched from Modern Drunkard Magazine Online

Monday, March 14, 2005

Eat Lead Billy!

One of our road crew is armed. He has permission from the police to carry a firearm in his work truck. He gets paid for shooting feral kids, but not the urban type,alas, only those of the Capra hircus family.
New Zealand has a host of introduced noxious pests. Rabbits & possums were originally introduced to start a fur industry. The rabbits bred like, ..well rabbits, and caused erosion on a huge scale. The possum set about munching the rainforest and was not averse to a few rare eggs now and then. They have even been captured on film eating Kokako chicks. Roadkill in New Zealand consists almost exclusively of possums, their number is estimated at over 50 million. The anti fur lobby would be doing NZ a favour if they promoted the use of possum fur, but while nude basketballers protest, we won't hold our breath.
We have wild pigs, which are delicious. Their numbers are held in check by the very manly act of pig hunting, and many are the stories of huge boars that kill dogs & got away.
Feral Goats are another huge problem. Their initial introduction was for a food supply for the sealers, whalers and settlers. They again cause erosion, and slips on our roads, especially in the rocky gorges. It is also not nice to come barrelling around a corner on a motor bike and have a mob of goats on the road. Enter our "Animal Control Officer". He is tooled up with a .22 magnum rifle, and shoots any that are on the roadside. He has shot over a hundred in one month. They soon get the idea that the road is a dangerous place. There are times when I think we should arm those on the Lollypop.

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"Sign Here Please"

Here is one guy who was a bit late for work this morning. He took out 3 signs before skidding across the corner at the end of a straight. Signs aren't cheap, his insurance company will get a bill for them. We have had trucks that have gone over banks and cut a swathe through the bush. They have been billed for replanting with native trees & shrubs. Power poles are the things to be avoided. Not only are they hard, but if you survive you could easily be up for $NZ3000.
Rest Area 300m

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog. I have also managed to get one of those dinky little tab icons to work.

The Grader

It is great to watch someone who is good with tools. Some people seem to be born with a hammer in their hand. Some can use machinery with a fluid ease. It is one thing to be able to drive or operate machinery, another to get it to do a job with economy of movement, and little fuss. A grader is relatively easy to drive. You could blat down to the shops in one. To grade and shape a road however is an art. In my book a top grader operator is the Lord of the road. From the cab you cannot see the front of the blade, you must guess how much material you are pushing by what is coming off the ends. The camber is constantly changing, you must know where water will run to. Some grader drivers who work the back country secondary roads have a lonely job, they are by themself most of the day. I know a couple who have turned down back country work for this reason. The guys working on construction have to be able to read plans & work to levels.
Years ago I remember a local grader driver who was an alcoholic. He was always pissed. He couldn't read the paper he shook that much and sometimes he needed assistance to get into the cab. Once he was behind the controls however, he could ice a cake with his old machine, he only went to bits as he sobered up. A steady stream of cow cockies would ply him with beer in return for a bit of work on their tracks, occasionally he would go missing and be found sound asleep engine roaring. No one minded, he was an asset to the community, and the roads were never better

Tibetan Grader photo Rodney Lewington


Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Old Soft Shoulder.

Every fortnight we get the latest incident & accident analysis report stapled to our payslips. They are read with interest and often gossiped about. My favourite, "sledgehammer slipped, handle hit me in groin causing eyes to water..." Most are machinery damage. Backing into each other is pretty popular, diggers hitting pipes or cables will always feature, and there has been a spate of "tipping incidents" to which I have contributed. "Spreading metal at roadside, soft shoulder and load hang up caused truck to tip. Cab damage". It is one thing to smash something up, but another to be injured. A lost time injury causes all sorts of unwelcome attention from the company, and if serious, the authorities, mainly OSH. I am in favour of a "Save Yourself First" attitude. It is constantly drummed into us. This suits devout cowards such as myself. These days they would throw Casey Jones into the slammer if he survived, dying with "One hand on the whistle and the other on the airbrake lever" would be a big No No.


Phantom Traffic Jams

Must be busier than I thought on Skull Island.
"one of the great mysteries of motoring has finally been solved;
The issue here is that of phantom traffic jams. You know the kind of thing. You're driving along a motorway, as the case may be, and all of a sudden you're faced with the back of a long queue. You trundle along at walking pace for ten minutes, and then suddenly there isn't a queue any more. What happened there?"

Friday, March 11, 2005

Clumps, Thumps, & Lollypops.

Some days traffic control is a breeze. The traffic flows steadily and smoothly, people are in a good mood, the day is sunny, and there is enough going on to keep you interested. Today was not one of those days. It is a long weekend in Taranaki and there are all sorts of events on, the biggest being WOMAD. We have X number of stabilizing sites to finish before the sealing crew hits them tomorrow. We were a truck short due to some doddery old dude putting it on it's side yesterday. For my sins I volunteered to man the lollypop & radio. The traffic heading south to New Plymouth was an eclectic stream of hippyish vans, old buses, sports cars, and flash sedans. The traffic heading north was the more usual dad, mum & kids, with holiday gear, cars towing boats, caravans, and pissed off business reps heading back to Auckland.
It was two woman gossiping that nearly killed me. You could see it coming. A car coming straight on, through the signs, driver on autopilot, yakking flat out. We had a roller and loader across the road, and several men marking out the road. No way can you let a car through. I dived forward and hung the lollypop in front of the oncoming windscreen. Realization dawned and the wheels locked up. The two cars following took evasive action, one skidding off the road and ended up where I had been standing.
I marched to the window and gave the white faced driver an earful. "You stupid woman! You could have killed my mates, it's a 30 k speed limit" etc.etc. A tirade of abuse also came from the cars behind. "I'm truly sorry.... I really am" . Flustered she stalled the car when she went through, to cop another earbashing from startled workmates who heard the skidding tires. It is a sound you don't want to hear on a worksite.
The rest of the day the traffic still seemed schitzoid, travelling too fast, too close, and in thirty car bunches. It was not a nice day on the road.

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

From Hero to Zero in 5 minutes.

   "Attn Dodderyoldfart's Headshit Boss
Dear sir,
I wish to pass on my congratulations to the members of the work crew, especially Dodderyoldfart, for the efforts involved in saving the life of a travelling motorist on SH 3
While en route to a work site the crew observed a heavy vehicle parked adjacent to the highway with the driver slumped over the wheel. It had become apparent the driver had been stung by a bee and had an allergic reaction causing swelling and making it awkward for the driver to breath and eventually could not breath unaided. Doddery then performed CPR on the occupant until medical services arrived on the scene which with out much doubt saved the drivers life, this was the comment echoed by the medical staff on site.
We applaud this level of social conscience displayed, the value that they place on a human life, and the care they showed is to be commended.
Could you please pass on our thanks for their attentiveness to the needs of others and the exceptional efforts in saving the life of another motorist on the network.
Yours Faithfully
Headshit Boss
Top Contracting Engineering Outfit."

Well I hope this is as good as a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card.
Five minutes after this letter was delivered
I had a slight problem spreading some paveseal (ripped up road metal & bitumen). A glob hung up on the tray and next thing with infinite slowness and grace, my old truck lay down in the blackberry.

And I lay me down to sleep....
Tomorrow it will be Incident Forms, Accident Reports, and good natured jibes, could well cost a box of beer too....
Rest Area 300m

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Most Boring Jobs In The World


   I've had zillions of jobs. I wandered the world for nearly 10 years back in the distant past, and got around by working for a while before moving on somewhere else. I have swept out buses in Frankfurt, dug ditches in Spain, gutted fish in Iceland, stacked timber in Canada and been a security guard in London. Some were great. Some were bloody awful. There is nothing worse than a boring job. I think the worst I ever had was in London, picking white horses, ..... let me explain. You sat in front of a plastic extruding machine, it had a hopper filled with white plastic beads. In front of you was a mould, about the size of a coffee table book. It hissed and smoked as molten plastic was injected into it. Then, it opened about 4 inches, and spat out the product into a small hopper filled with water which was supposed to cool it. The product was zillions of little white horses, destined, I think, for whisky bottles. Now all these zillions of little white horses were on a stalk of plastic, from the channels in the mould. Those horses had to be picked off, one by one. They were hot, so you had to wear gloves. You would get halfway through and the machine would spit out another lot. The air was full of smoke and the stench of hot molten plastic. It was hot and noisy. There was a nazi who wandered around exhorting you to work faster.
   I was there because I was working for an agency, they had sent us there on a temporary assignment. After 25 years when it was lunch time, I came out of the hell hole for lunch, to be confronted by a picket. We were being used to scab for workers, mostly immigrants, who had gone on strike to get a small increase in their pathetic wages. I went back in, told the rest what was going on and we left, never Thank God, to return.


   Yep, done that. But I see there are ways to stuff envelopes lovingly...
"Use your time alone in the house between envelope stuffing sessions to spread little "I Love You's" all around the house where only he or she will find them..."
"We hope you enjoyed these romantic ideas for meanginful breaks you can take from your envelope stuffing."


   A just out of school job. You stood at the end of a conveyer spewing freshly cooked biscuits which fell on end, into guide rails, on another conveyor belt. No problem for round bikkies, but oval ones could fall one way or another inside the guide rails, and cause much grief at the packing/wrapping machine. So you stood for 8 hours with a plastic card, flicking them upright. Flick flick flick, and again, flick flick flick......

I shall add more boring jobs from time to time, but, .... if you are in such a job, help is at hand..... Make like a helicopter.
A good exercise is observing your life from a helicopter-perspective. Pretend to hang in the sky.

The Sign Of The Phantom

"Phantom" road signs left on the road with no obvious work about piss drivers off. Fair enough too. It does happen as the industry acknowledges;

While in the majority of cases, speed restriction signs are realistic warnings, the industry has put its hand up, and conceded that in a few instances, speed restrictions signs are inadvertently left out when the hazard is past.
“The old ‘cry wolf’ story is as true as it ever was. So because we don’t want New Zealand drivers to think speed restrictions around unmanned road sites are irrelevant or don’t apply to them, we’ve set up a website where they can log in and say where they believe the signs are out of date or unnecessary,” Mr Brown says.
The website is

   In our case we have the opposite problem. The boss is always wringing his hands about signs that are still up. Signs are worth big money, most are made of high grade aluminium. We lost a lot one Christmas, I think I know where.
A woman stole 183 road signs worth almost $20,000, hoping to sell them for scrap metal so she could buy Christmas presents, Tauranga District Court has heard.
Jocelyn Kiri Ngawaaka Ngatai, a 34-year-old sickness beneficiary, was jailed for six months when she appeared before Judge Michael Hobbs this week.

I Hope she had a better Christmas than we did. Out for 36 hours straight in pissing down rain, and falling rocks, dealing with 11 slips that had come down through the night. A day after we finally got home all our warning signs were pinched. A car and a motorbike ploughed into later slips as a result.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Potholes From Space

It's highly unlikely that you can see any roads at this resolution, but you can get an idea of the terrain that the early surveyors and road builders had to contend with. New Zealand is a young country geologically, and the land is restless and always wanting to move. I think this rubs off onto it's inhabitants.
Rest Area 300m

Monday, March 07, 2005

Juggernauts & April Fools?

   On April Fools Day the extra 5.6 cents a litre tax on fuel will be imposed to "fix the roads" God knows we need to spend more money on them. I suppose indirectly, we of the road will benefit a bit, but we aren't exactly holding our breath. The opinions at smoko are pretty unanimous. Most will go to get Aucklanders to work faster. There will be more & flashier bypasses, the traffic jams will be moved down the road a bit. Bugger all will be spent on improving surfaces and rebuilding dodgy sections of road which are relentlessly being hammered into goat tracks by the main culprits, Heavy Trucks, which are getting away scott free
    A week or two ago we were excavating at the end of a bridge approach on a fairly typical section of State Highway 3. The road consisted of 200mm of metal under the seal, built on a hard clay base. The bridge had a date of construction proudly cast into the concrete end; 1953. The road at that time would have been state of the art. A "heavy" truck would have weighed 10 tons all up, and probably would struggle to do 75 kmh. You would propably have to wait an hour after one went past to see another one. Today that same section of road has an endless procession of trucks of over 40 tons, and all travelling at or a bit over the speed limit. The guys that built that section of the road would never have dream't what it would be asked to do.
   We get on well with truckies, any tax increase in their sector puts freight rates up, and so raises the cost of your new frost free refrigerator, pork chops, or toilet paper. They already pay through the nose for Road User Charges. We know that. But they are hammering our roads to death. We either build roads that can handle them, or we rethink the exercise, and build a decent railway system.

Environmental Sausages

The island of metal in the background is pushing the river flow over so that it is undermining the bank below the road. The logical thing to do, you think would be to push the metal over to protect the bank with a bulldozer or digger.

Instead long environmental sausages in Canterbury rugby colours are being pinned to the bank. They are filled with a mixture of compost, metal, and grass seed. The old hands are sceptical and think the river will cut in behind and rip it all away.I think I will file this in the "Told You So" file.
Rest Area 300m

Take Me To The River

Water is an essential when you are shaping up a road. When you see a "water cart" spraying the road it is unlikely that this is being done solely to keep down dust. Water helps to make metal elastic by binding the finer particles. The grader can then work it better, much in the same way as a potter keeps clay moist and pliable. It also compacts better.
    It is a fact of life that water cart drivers tend to go missing now and then. Filling up at the river can be a restful experience once you have shut down the petrol engine on the pump. Trout spotting and hunting for watercress are a temptation, and suddenly the urgent need for water at the site doesn't seem that important, as the river seduces you into just sitting and watching the water slide by.
Rest Area 300m

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Mr Grumpy

   I always had a bit of a hankering to work on the roads. It always appeared to be a pretty cruisy job, with not a lot of stress involved. Plus you made things, and played with machines, and you got paid for doing it. When I moved into the rather rural seaside area of North Taranaki then, I pestered the local roading contractors until I got a job. I was lucky, they don't come up all that often. I thought that with a bit of luck I would mostly work an eight hour a day job, most of which would be cruising around looking for somewhere nice to eat lunch. Well, Fat Chance!
    For the last couple of weeks I have worked every day, usually about 10 or more hours. I have been called out in the middle of the night a couple of times as well, rocks on the road, or a car on it's roof. I'm starting to get a bit scratchy. Please do not prang your car and block the road any night this week, on our stretch of highway, or I might kick your head in.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

A view from the bridge of the manly hoe in action
Rest Area 300m



   At the moment I'm working with a stabilizing crew. For the unititiated this is a process where a lime & cement mix is rotary hoed into the road, often with extra "make up metal". This is done to problem areas where the road foundation is breaking down, often because of poor drainage. " The lime agglomerates clay particles into coarser particles through base ion exchange as well as producing a cementing or hardening action."
   The lime is spread onto the road and watered.

When water hits the lime & cement mix, it fizzes and crackles. The reaction causes a lot of heat. (This is something you have to watch for if you are trucking it and it begins to rain!)
The Hoe is a very Manly thing. It munches the road up at about half walking speed, in this case to a depth of 300mm
   A grader then shapes up the road again, it is rolled and watered and left for a day or more to cure before being sealed. A "running course" of very fine chip is left on to stop the traffic chewing it up.


Friday, March 04, 2005

On Heat.

We have had a long spell of fine weather, though there is a hint of Autumn in the air. The need to get the firewood in is getting more & more urgent. It is also a very busy time on the road as the conditions are ideal for us to deal to the problem areas before the rains. There is no place hotter to work though, as the heat reflected off the seal makes it feel if you are in a dehydrator, and the stock in the paddocks pant in the shade under the trees. Cruelly today we were working in sight of a pub. This was torture of Abu Ghraib proportions. A lot of the local farmers and more sensible types about had decided that it was so hot, the only sensible thing to do was slide down for a few cold ones. We worked on. The local cop cruised in, chucked his uniform in the boot & wandered in. We worked on. The local towie with a car on the back pulled in, closely followed by the garage owner. It was getting difficult to concentrate on the job & the traffic, but still we worked on. Finally, - At last, - Thank God, - it was home time. Short post - I'm off to the pub.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Oh very WIMsical.

These rather innocent looking wires are actually part of a Weigh In Motion (WIM) station. It can measure 170 different types of data, type of vehicle, number of axles, weight, speed, even tyre pressures! The results are downloaded to Transit NZ on the mobile phone network. Truckies are of course extremely suspicious of this activity, though this one is for a statistical data base. Naturally I have been telling them it is hooked to an infrared x-ray video camera and several orbiting sattelites, "And we are not allowed to tell you what it does..."
Rest Area 300m

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

And it stoned me to my soul.......Stoned me just like jelly roll

"WHEN ACCIDENTAL DEATH results from dangerous techniques of sexual self-stimulation, family members are always puzzled and often find the victim's behavior incomprehensible. When the dangerous technique involves bondage, suspension, complex apparatus, or machinery, even seasoned death investigators may be perplexed. We report two cases of asphyxiation during autoerotic activity employing hydraulic shovels on tractors."
"Two years before his death, the decedent had bought the backhoe tractor as a Christmas gift to himself and named it "Stone." He used the backhoe on occasional ditch-digging jobs. He wrote about it in a Christmas newsletter to friends, in which he enclosed Stone's picture. He also wrote about his tractor in a long poem, which alluded to flying high in the sky with his friend, Stone."
via sensible erection


Ello, Ello, Ello, Wot's going on 'ere then.

Looks like Surf's Up. Yep, to our amusement this cop, having spent a morning busting the odd speeder through our worksite, pulled up, dragged a surf board from the car,wet-suited up, and rode a few waves. The police dog had some quality time out too
Rest Area 300m


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Thunderbirds are Go!

I wonder what the world potholing speed record is?
Here is a contender....
"Sandian's Rapid Road Repair Vehicle would fix potholes on the fly....
"About the size of a Greyhound bus, the vehicle would "see" the road surface from scanners on the front bumper. Any anomalies would be cleaned with high-pressure air and then vacuumed. On-board image processing would distinguish the location and size of road surface features and determine if an object is a hole, bump, manhole cover or crack. Next, a phalanx of nozzles, arrayed like offset rows of theater seats, would pass over. Whichever nozzles were above the hole would deliver filling material, such as aggregate and fast-drying patch material or sealer. The mixture would be tamped into place, dusted with grit to provide traction, and vacuumed. Finally, another row of scanners would check the quality of the repair.
Under ideal conditions, Mara says, "the vehicle could possibly patch roads at up to 35 miles per hour."

Mmmmm bigger engine? faster processors? More Suck & Blow?.......................

Male. Lives in New Zealand/North Island/The Road, speaks English. Eye color is blue.
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New Zealand, North Island, The Road, English, Male.

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