Friday, April 21, 2017

Harriet the 950 ton Tunnel Boring Maching and St. Barbara

Once upon a time ... no, wait.  That's the start of a fairy tale and what follows is real. 

Cake will be served today at the terminus to the new Crenshaw/LAX Metro line to the crew that manned  "Harriet" which  is the machine that made this ceremony possible.  Then she will be dismantled and taken away; rumor has it next door to dig a tunnel from Space X offices to the employee parking lot. 

The article said that tunnel digging machines are given a female name before construction begins on them.  It is said that this practice honors St. Barbara, claimed to be the patron saint of architects, miners, mathematicians and the Italian Navy. 

There was some discrepancy in the figures given in the article.  The illustration of a tunnel borer said that she could travel 3 in. a minute, averaged 50 ft. per day of a 5-day work week with three shifts a day and a 75 member crew.  The article said she averaged 60 ft. a day with a 15-man crew. 

Any road, all agreed that she weighed 950 tons and is 400 ft. long.  The tunnel is the equivalent of 30 football fields long. 

Now we get to the fairy tale.  Unless, of course, you are a devout Catholic.  What follows seems unlikely to me but I wasn't around in the mid- 3rd century until the late 3rd century.  Totally missed the boat on that one.

Barbara was the only child of a wealthy pagan.  When her mother died, her father devoted his life to his daughter.  As she grew up, she turned in to a raving beauty.  To protect her virtue, adoring Daddy built a tower and had her ensconced in it.  The writer of this infogram then states that she spent her days marveling at the hillsides, sky and clouds outside her lonely tower window and speculating about who had created them.   How the hell did anyone know what she was thinking?

Anyhow.  She discovered God in this beauty and proclaimed herself Christian which totally annoyed her father.  In what may have been a very bad judgement call, he had her turned loose from the tower to roam freely whereupon she fell in with a band of roving Christians (trouble makers) who formally converted her to Christianity. 

When she announced this to her father, he became unglued and grabbed his sword to behead her.  (This is fatherly devotion?)  She took off running with him hot on her heels.  This hot pursuit ended when a hill appeared, opened and let Barbara in, but closed again and kept Daddy-0 out. 

Next thing I knew is that we were in town and the townsfolk/serfs were thrusting lit torches at the poor woman and an unknown female friend.  Both had been stripped naked and were making a run for it.  But, wait!  an angel came down and covered them with a cloak and, mysteriously, all of the lit torches went out. 

Better still, a lightening bolt flashed and killed both Daddy and his best friend whom he had enlisted in the punishment.

What all of this has to do with a tunnel borer, many of us will never know.  Put me at the top of the list. 

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