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Maintenance, destruction
Reading:  "Occasional Design" by Henry Petroski, American Scientist 98(1), 16-19 (Jan.-Feb. 2010)

A description, without a dull or superfluous word in it, of how a chimney sweep & his helper wrestled a slab of rotting stuff off the top of the author's chimney, and a slab of granite into its place.  They did it in a hour.  No belays, guard rails, or hard hats, so they were careful.

There is a drawing of the setup, and there are photographs of the house and the chimney, but -- understandably & regrettably -- none of the men.  They must have been easy to look at.

As I write this, a crew with plenty of heavy equipment is demolishing the apartment house next to mine, which was gutted by fire not quite 2 weeks ago.  Among their tasks is to take down a 5-story brick wall without its falling on my house.  They have covered my windows with sheets of plywood & steel.  They seem to know their business.

They load the rubble into a huge truck, using two big treadborne machines like backhoes but with jaws.  It is mostly splintered wood, but every once in a while one of their bites contains a mattress or a blanket or a dress that somebody was once used to having.  It's sad.


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