Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Of Roads and Highways
Construction is my life. I work in the quality assurance/quality control area. My current job is to test and evaluate soils and materials used in soil grading operations, foundation engineering and road and parking lot construction. At various times in the past, I've done field inspection and testing of these soils, as well as asphalt pavements and concrete structures in highway construction and flood control projects.
I've worked for CalTrans, the Orange County (Calif) Road Department, The US Army Corps of Engineers, and five different private construction quality control firms. I also worked for a couple of private land surveyors in my youth--when we used manual levels, transits and chains.
My background includes parts of Interstate 5 in the mountains north of Los Angeles, Interstate 405 in the Irvine Ranch area, a major subdivision survey in Riverside County that resulted in the bedroom community of Moreno Valley, a survey of the Orange County Line from the ocean at Seal Beach, through the mountains and finishing at the ocean just south of San Clemente. My work aided in the construction of numerous housing subdivisions, business parks and condo/apartment projects in San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles Counties. I did quality assurance and field inspection on two large flood control projects, one in Riverside County and the other in San Bernardino. I did the same thing on the Santa Ana River rebuild in Orange County and the Seven Oaks Dam, in the San Bernardino Mountains.
This might seem like a sort of resume, except that I'm a lot closer to retirement than I am to seeking another job. Unless someone makes me an offer I can't refuse, I'll probably retire from my current position.
I've contemplated retirement a lot lately, and have very mixed thoughts. On the one hand, I can do some other things for which I haven't really had enough time while working full time. On the other, how can I quit work that I very much enjoy doing?
I suppose there's a connection: I also love to drive. I can spend hours cruising the streets of the Valley, Los Angeles, and Orange County. I also like driving the freeways, though I do get impatient if traffic is too slow, too long. It takes me forty minutes to get to or from work normally, but it has taken me as much as three hours on a couple of occasions. I hate it when that happens.
Last fall, Debbie and I went to Las Vegas for the Liberty Magazine Editor's Conference. Eschewing the airlines (I won't allow low-level federal parasites inspecting my nether areas), and AmTrak (most of whose trip is actually on a bloody bus, even though there's a perfectly good rail track right to Las Vegas from Los Angeles. Aside: one can only marvel at the short-sightedness of AmTrak, not to have rail service between LA and Las Vegas.
I drove. I thoroughly enjoyed it. We left LA at midnight. There is absolutely nothing like driving through the Southern California desert in the wee hours on a cool autumn night. Almost no one on the highway but eighteen-wheelers. The drive was almost as much fun for me, as the time we spent in Las Vegas!
I also enjoy driving 'pon roads that I helped build. I did quality control testing on many of the arterial boulevards criss-crossing the hills of southern Orange County. There was very little there, back in the early 1970's when we built these roads. Orange groves. Thirty-odd years later, they are still in very good shape.
Why am I blathering on about my own checkered past? Well, because I want to, and it's my blog. I hope it'll prove interesting to some few of you. I'll soon return to being my nasty, hypercritical, cynical self.