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Griff 09-04-2013 05:36 AM

It keeps on coming, doesn't it b?

The UPK I'm supposed to integrate with is way under numbers. So I left a highly subscribed one with a terrible co-teacher for a good teacher but no kids. Normally our organization would just take the hit expecting our special ed services to absorb the funding hole but the sequestration disaster nuked our bottom line so...

Lamplighter 09-04-2013 11:00 AM

UPK = Universal Pre-Kindergarden ?

Big Sarge 09-04-2013 04:40 PM

The 10 year old girl next door is a latch key kid. She lives with her grandmother with whom I have spoken to only once. She & her brothers have used my phone before to call their grandmother or father, but always on the front porch. Today, she came home and the power was off at her house. I think they didn't pay the bill. Anyway she needed to use the bathroom. I let her in to use it, but I was here alone. She was here less than 5 minutes, but you know how things are now days. What would you have done??

Griff 09-04-2013 06:52 PM


Originally Posted by Lamplighter (Post 875142)
UPK = Universal Pre-Kindergarden ?

Yeah. We added a new kid this morning but still not good.

orthodoc 10-22-2013 09:10 PM

Going on a coal-mine tour tomorrow. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, somewhat ironically - after all, the people who work the mines get plenty of opportunity. Outsiders don't, however. I believe this is a long-wall mine. The thought of hydraulic shocks moving along as the shearer cuts into the seam, and the area behind collapsing ... makes me apprehensive. :worried:


I will try to get some pics, although I suspect only pics on the surface will be allowed.

Griff 10-23-2013 05:42 AM

Next time I want to bitch about my job reflecting on coal-mining would put an end to that.

glatt 10-23-2013 08:16 AM

Let us know how it goes! My grandfather used to talk about the coal mines all the time, but refused to ever step foot into one. Even museum ones that were deemed perfectly safe for the public to visit. The stories he told were amazing. Some crazy stuff happened in PA mines in the last century.

Lamplighter 10-23-2013 09:04 AM

I had not heard the term "long wall" before.

I watched a few of the YouTube videos on long wall coal mining.
Some are nothing but commercials for the mining equipment (e.g. Caterpillar, etc.)

This one explains what it is using animations:

Despite the politics of coal (Koch Brothers, global warming, etc.),
I am still amazed at the engineering.

Thanks for the introduction, Ortho...

BigV 10-24-2013 03:06 PM

I am apprehensive having discovered an open window in my basement.

It's too soon to tell whether or not I have a bigger problem on my hands as I haven't yet heard back from all the people who might have had access to the latch on the inside.

DanaC 10-24-2013 03:07 PM

That's going to be a real problem come the zombie apocalypse.

Jus' sayin'

Clodfobble 10-24-2013 04:25 PM

Don't you still have a teen or two at home who might have a desire to sneak out at night (or perhaps sneak their girlfriend/boyfriend in and out?) I'm just saying that even if everyone in the house says they didn't open the window, it still doesn't necessarily mean a break-in.

BigV 10-24-2013 05:18 PM

I do. That's why I'm not bothered yet, no answer from them, yet.

I seriously doubt a break-in, given the layout of the stuff around the window, etc. What I think probably happened is that someone opened the window, for some unknown reason, and didn't close it. I'm gonna ask in my least threatening srs-voice, the one I use for when I must have a truthful answer. I hope it works.

If the answer is no, then... then I'll need to expand my investigation, and then I'll be apprehensive. Because who the fucking fuck is opening my windows?

I'm gonna make an effort to reel in my imagination at this point.

xoxoxoBruce 10-24-2013 06:12 PM

It's funny how the memory slips away at your age. :p:

Lamplighter 10-24-2013 08:05 PM

But in your mid-60's, the $ comes slipping in ... all that is needed is your SSN.

orthodoc 10-25-2013 10:49 PM

Survived the coal mine tour but was too tired yesterday to comment ...

I'm very glad I had the chance to go. It was terrifying but important to do, rather like visiting a poultry production facility if you intend to eat supermarket chicken. Since I am intimately acquainted with the victims of this industry, I owe it to them to see where and how they become victims.

The mine I toured was exemplary in their cooperation with MSHA (the Mining Safety and Health Administration), their cleanliness and safety training, and their willingness to be transparent to outsiders. This was all positive. They did a fantastic job organizing our tour; they provided a complete kit for each of us (having inquired about sizes beforehand), with boots, overalls, belt, radio, small self-contained self-rescuer, goggles, hard hat with ear muffs, and headlamp. The radio had a tracker; the location of every person underground was monitored by the dispatcher above-ground.

We spent about two hours in safety training and got to open and try out the self-rescuers so that we would really know how to use them, should there be an emergency while we were underground. We also got to open and try the bigger self-rescuer equipment (the small ones are carried on one's belt; they provide oxygen for 10 minutes or so, long enough - supposedly - to get to the caches of large self-rescuers kept underground every 1,000 yards. The large ones are good for 1-6 hours, depending on how much demand is put on them. Sitting down and breathing shallowly, they're good for 6 hours; walking vigorously to escape, it's more like 1 hour).

Once equipped, we descended via a 25-person elevator to the active part of the mine, 1,000 feet down. This isn't all that deep compared to many mines. Still - it was 1,000 feet. The mine itself has been in operation since 1956 and is 35 miles square (not square miles); there are quite a few other portals many miles away, including the original one that was built with the incline per Lamp's video. They brought the big equipment down the incline and have moved it from area to area ever since.

We exited the elevator and walked a short distance down a tunnel that was ghostly white, with square metal plates on the walls and ceiling and metal beams overhead. The miners drill and place roof and wall bolts to stabilize the tunnel walls and ceiling, and place beams every 4 feet along the passage. Metal netting covered the walls because the coal tends to crumble. Areas of the ceiling could frequently be seen to have crumbled and fallen between beams.

We got into metal 'man-trip' cars that ran on rails; they were diesel powered rather than electric. As we passed old passageways, I noticed that the metal posts holding up the unused openings had bowed significantly. Not something I was happy to notice!

We arrived at the active face and filed along its length. There were 240+ 'shields', essentially robotic supports with a long base, a vertical strut, and a shield that extended forward about 4 feet just under the ceiling. They were positioned close together; as we stepped across their bases, there were 2 long strides between each base. They held up the ceiling above our heads; looking to our left, I could see where the chamber had collapsed immediately behind the bases of the shields. The guide said that as the shearer moves ahead, the shields automatically shift forward. The ceiling behind them collapses within about 20 seconds. We asked what this does to the surface; the guide said that, in this location, nothing has happened on the surface. They are apparently creating 6-7 foot vertical spaces between shallower layers underground.

When we got to the end of the long wall face, the way was blocked by a sprayer shooting clouds of 'rock dust' over the pile of coal dust at the end. The rock dust treatment is used to make the coal dust more inert and less likely to explode.

The two big dangers in coal mines are: a) methane gas, which exists in pockets in coal seams and is highly explosive; and b) coal dust explosions. There are other less frequent hazards, but these two are the most common causes of mine disasters.

We watched the rock dust shoot out in clouds and settle over everything, including us. It is composed of 4-5% silica, lime, and other things. No one should be in that environment without a respirator.

The shearer, when it started up, was impressive. It operates like a circular saw with only a few reinforced teeth, spinning rapidly and crumbling the face of the coal seam into rubble. A long chain belt swept the rubble away to waiting cars for transport to the surface. Sprayers kept everything in the area wet, and yet coal dust still blew through the air and settled on our faces and in our noses and mouths.

There was no quick or easy way to exit the mine. Handheld cords with directional cones, described by the safety guide on the surface, were not visible. The tracks of the 'man-trip' were a better guide. The floor was wet, uneven, and slippery; sometimes gravel, sometimes mud. If we turned our headlamps off, the darkness was absolute.

The tunnels were as clean and tidy as humanly possible. The face was harvested using high-tech methods. The miners, who start at $70-80K at the age of 19 with a high school diploma and make around $100K+ once they have their 'black hat' miner card after 6 months, were all positive in attitude and proud of what they were doing.

But having seen 30 and 40 year olds who can't breathe, who are dying because their lungs are a giant mass of fibrosed scar tissue, I feel rather as though I've just visited a poultry farm. I ask, do we NEED these young men to die horrible deaths at 40, suffocating because their lungs can no longer transfer oxygen to their blood? Would any of us take a turn in the mines to ensure that the lights stayed on?

I don't know. I know that we are dependent on coal for the foreseeable future. The price is higher than the simple dollar amount we pay. On the other hand, higher wages than they could draw anywhere else allow high school graduates to support families and send their children to school.

I have my thoughts on the subject. What do others think?

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