Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I am at some sort of public school function. It's high school or below, that's all I can tell. The show is over, whatever it was, and I am helping clean up. Another guy and I are assigned to hoisting a board. The board is like a 2 by 12, maybe 12 feet long, but finished like white melamine. It's suspended about a foot from the floor by a rope that goes through a pulley up at the ceiling. The rope then goes across the ceiling to another pulley and down to a winch sitting on the floor. The winch has a 4 x 4 post about six feet long for a handle, and the winch is some kind of cast iron thing. It's not very big, maybe about a foot in each direction, and it's painted red. The ratchet is very coarse. You can only get a couple of clicks each time you raise the handle and then the handle comes back down a couple of feet before it has absorbed the slack in the mechanism.

I am taller than the other guy assigned to this project, but he is considerable stronger. So I get the task of lifting the winch handle up and then pulling it down until it is engaged and firmly seated. Then the other guy pulls on the handle and the board goes up another couple of inches. At this point it seems like total overkill, but something is telling me this it just the beginning and it is going to get a lot harder before we are done, so it is well that we pace ourselves.

When we first start, we move the board over by the winch when we raise the handle, and then move it back to where it was (about ten feet away) before we pull down on the handle. Evidently the pulley that the board is hanging from is itself hanging from a track that allows it to slide back and forth. After two or three of our lift cycles, we realize moving the board back and forth is simply wasted motion and we leave the board where it was originally.

Don't ask why sliding the pulley on the track didn't change the height of the board. It was a magic pulley, okay? And for that matter, don't ask why I expected the job to get harder as we went. There was only the one board, and it wasn't that massive. It was a dream.

After each lift cycle we go over to a table where a young man serves us a brownie. It's square like a brownie, but the top looks like one of those butter-crunch coffee cakes. He has a couple of big trays of these things, like three feet square, and the "brownies" he serves us are pretty big as well. If this keeps up (one brownie for each two inches of lift), we are going to gain more weight than we lift. Fortunately, after a few cycles I wake up.

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