Saturday, December 05, 2009

Millennium (alternative title: Mike begins to regret this post.)

Readers, I am relaxing a rule for a moment. I'm indulging another person to speak to you on the front page of my blog—yes, in this forum that serves as my personal and intimate voice to you, my beloved eighty-thousand---instead of in the comments section where he rightfully belongs (if it so pleases me). I'm doing this not out of some misguided sense of altruism to him--because after all, Reader, I must consider your interests as well as his--but I do so because it will decisively settle an ongoing argument that Andy D I have been waging since--and I tease you not--1986.

Reader, I'm a truth guy, and truth will out. I know the truth, Reader, and so do you. But this boy needs a heaping dose of trufe. Indulge me. Answer his question, Reader, and let’s set this straight.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Andy D:

"May I please commission a poll, using your website here?

All right people: how long would it take one human of normal height, above average strength, high intelligence, and even higher rugged good looks, to single-handedly knock down that stadium to rubble, using only a sledgehammer and his own might?

I will not suggest these in the form of multiple choice answers; give it your best honest answer. But I'm personally curious (no relation to Just Curious) in seeing if you think it's closer to a week, month, year, or decade.

We're taking "century" and "millennium" right out of the running, because those answers would be ridiculous.

You may also assume that if the sledgehammer becomes pulverized itself on the process, the Demolition Man would be handed a fresh new sledgehammer to continue The Test, and that he doesn't have to stop and run down to The Home Depot. He can keep right on choppin'..


A little context here. In 1986, Andy and I were walking together at the University of Texas, and we hiked past what was then called Texas Memorial Stadium, a simply ginormous concrete and steel structure that seated some eighty-thousand souls. As we strolled by this awesomely gigantic structure, Andy was talking but I was not listening to him but was instead pondering my sins. I reflected upon God's wrath and how He might be angry at me for being responsible for the death of His Son. And as I considered Jesus, I recalled how Jesus had prophesied that the Temple would soon be destroyed and not one stone would be left upon another.

Not one stone would be left upon another. For a dude who has moments of Scriptural Literalism, that struck me as quite the prophecy. Not surprisingly, I began to think what it would take to destroy the stadium that we were walking by such that no stone was left standing upon another. And, yes, we were STILL walking by it because, good grief, that thing goes on and on. And on. It takes a good fifteen minutes (or more) just to walk around the dang thing. For you see, in addition to seating some eighty-thousand folks, this “building” holds locker rooms, gift shops, administrative offices, lecture halls, restaurants, conference rooms, weight rooms and a museum.

It is big.

So I turned to Andy and interrupted whatever he was talking about and asked him something to this effect: “Andy D, how long do you think it would take for a person like yourself—a person of rugged beauty and ample, um, substance—to reduce this structure—this structure that can be seen with the naked eye from the moon—to rubble such that not one stone would be left upon another, and to do so the only tool at your disposal is a sledgehammer?

It’s a fantastic question.

Admit it.

Andy thought it was, too. He loved the question. Now Reader, I’m not going to poison the waters. I won’t tell you what I think to be a reasonable range of answers, nor will I tell you what Andy—he of the big sledgehammer—said what he thought was the correct answer.

But let me say this perfectly nonprejudicial comment. One of us, and I won’t say who, thought the right answer would fall into one of the temporal categories that I note you have been forbidden above to use. And one of us—again, I won’t say who—apparently pictures himself as Warner-Brothers character, quite possibly the Tasmanian Devil with a sledgehammer.

What I will tell you is this. The argument became quite heated. And it has never let up.

So Reader, please do weigh in on this question. Speak truth. Do not exaggerate. Give it thought. Here’s what I recommend as a preliminary exercise. Pick up a sledgehammer. Now locate a concrete and steel structure--preferably in a neighbor’s backyard—and give that thing a swing. See how much progress you make. Swing it again. Measure the destructive yield. Note your fatigue and how profusely you’re sweating. Then get a calculator and extrapolate how long it would take to destroy a building some thousands and thousands of times larger.

Helpful hint: I encourage you to use scientific notation. Your calculator probably won’t have enough room for that many zeroes.

So get to it, Reader.

This by the way, is a photo of just PART of the stadium.

Lawd Amighty it's huge.


Andy D. said...

I actually bought into that "not poison the waters" schtick.

Until I read that you gratuitously threw in "and the weight room."

I mean come ON. That adds time, man. So no stone - or weight - can end up on top of each other?

It a whole new ballgame.

Tell us, folks. We'll see who believes in themselves. Who knows a man is capable of ANYTHING - little or big - he puts his mind to.

In whatever timeframe.

We'll see who a man, and who a little wimpy Texas mouse.

Tell The Truth, in a loud, clear voice, that you Believe.

Hit me with the digits.

timekeeper said...

All right. I'm in on this one. Let me set my parameters on this one first.

You may think that being married to professormikey would sway me his direction. I can honestly say he has never tried to influence my thought on this. Mainly because every time he brings up this long-standing argument, I laugh so hard that I have to change my clothes. (I must say that was my reaction again to this post). This argument is so ridiculous. My arguments with professormikey that have lasted for years are much more intelligent. Like if you had to eat one food for a week at every meal would it be pizza or rice? (He's come around to my point of view) Or if Tchakovsky (sp?) was upset at "wasting" a gorgeous melody on a symphony he did not like? (jury still out)

Andy, we are assuming this is an above average but real human being. He does not need to leave the site to get new sledgehammers and someone is bringing him his Whataburgers and a port-a-potty is available. He has an endless supply of time. However, he is not a robot. He would have to rest his arms and snooze once in a while, right?

Even if he only has to destroy the lower level (because the upper levels will collapse, right?), it will take a century. Easy. Maybe more. C'mon, be reasonable.

Michael B said...

Andy D: Reading your comments prompts me to wonder whether this is what it feels like to see the jury slipping away in the court room? Man, what a terrible terrible sinking feeling that must be. The feeling you're feeling right now. I shudder for you.

Juli: High five!

Tell you what, I'll volunteer to bring him the new sledgehammers, and you get the Whataburgers. We'll pull up fold-up chairs and a big ol umbrella (for the blazing Texas heat--holy crap it gets hot!!), and we'll spend a good week watching Andy trying to destroy the hot dog machines. For just this, I encourage you to bring a whine cooler. And a suitcase for all the changes in clothing you'll be making.

Michael B said...

Two corrections. 1. "Wine cooler" works, too. 2. Andy, though it's true I did not mention the weight rooms back in 1986, I did explictly mention the "no stone on another." For the purpose of this blog discussion, however, I will relax it so that you need merely reduce it to rubble.

Jeff said...

I certainly think it could be done in ten years. One year would be a real challenge. The trick would be to do it without killing yourself, but if you could harness some of gravity's power and knock out some of the lower structures, the high ones would do themselves for you.

Michael B said...

I have a "tiny" creek in our backyard. On the bank there's all sort of brush and trees with limbs and stuff hanging into the water--clogging it in effect. It took me a full week (and maybe more) to clean that area out, to cut through all the debris. And I worked like a dog. Just along the creek's edge for only three houses' length.

A week. For limbs.

Now how long would it take to work through a giant stadium? Not just toppled. Reduced to rubble. Ten years?

Wow. I'm impressed.

justcurious said...

But Mike, the guy working on the stadium wouldn't be stopping to madly scratch poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac and then blogging about it. How long was your actual weed work? I'll tell you like I tell my daughter when she practices violin -- you can't count the time you spent playing with the cat or looking out the window, as practice time.

Anyway, some critical issues to consider as far as your stadium destruction is concerned. What do you consider rubble? Pieces that fall through your fingers? Ones as large as golf balls? Basketballs? Groolers? That matters maybe more than anything else.

Next, do we consider the diminution of strength that occurs with aging? Are we going to start this muscular, good looking guy chopping at age 20 and tell him to continue indefinitely? If so, he's going to have to live on steroids until he's 120 or so. Or is he chopping in an age vacuum?

Is he supposed to rip metal, wires, plastic, and glass apart or are we just talking the concrete?

Here is my qualified answer... If he can stay at his muscular peak indefinitely, sledge hammer the concrete into varying size chunks, allow the top to fall and break itself up, and ignore the non-concrete parts, I'm going to say 5-7 years.

Pick yourself up off the floor and think about this. How long would it take you, with said equipment and qualifications, to take down a one-room cinderblock building? Not that long, especially with gravity helping. Go from there.

Andy D. said...

Now lookahere.

Perhaps if the bet were, "how long does it take a big ol p**** to clear his neighbors' brushpiles, we might look to your expertise.

But only if it were clearly a BIG ol p****.

As to your little juror slipping analogy, let me just say - "The jury is still out."

While your inner circle (ie, wife) has inched toward milineum.... Let me just point out Mr. Jeff.

Which is ten years closer to: a week? Or a milineum?

Come to think of it - which is a century closer to? A week?or a milineum?

Sign me, "it's 2-0 in my favor."

Michael B said...

Andy d--

I'm a big big expansive man.

I'll actually admit that your interpretation of how this commentary is unfolding has merit.

Somehow altogether inexplicably, utter maddeningly, and absolutely bewilderingly, the poll is running 2-0 in your favor. I was not going to volunteer this without prompting, but the awful awful truth is that I already had exactly the same thought that you did about comparative distances, and which of our respective estimates is closer to the readers' estimates.

I'm speechless.

Let me now for a moment turn away from you and to my throng of eighty-thousand. Readers. Please. Come to your senses, please. All you have is a sledgehammer. Think about how ding-dang long it takes for workers to make even a small hole in a road with that hydraulic jackhammer thingy. You're doing this by HAND for crying out loud.

Reader, it's not clear to me IT CAN BE DONE AT ALL!!!!!

Reader. Please. I beg of you to put aside your temporary delusions and be restored to the usual good sense and clarity of thought that brings you to this blog to begin with!!

Squish said...

40 minutes tops. And that's with a water break. What can i say? I'm fast and efficient.

Michael B said...

Squish: Are you really Andy D??

Justcurious: What are you doing to me here?

"How long was your actual weed work?" Days, my friend, days. Real work!! Exhausting labor! And what a breeze that was compared to this job!

"What do you consider rubble?"

A typical piece is the size of a grinder sandwhich. Sizes can be as large as a picnic basket.

"Do we consider the diminution of strength that occurs with aging?"


"Is he chopping in an age vacuum?"

Yes. Look, I'm making absolutely as fair and favorable I can to Andy. That ain't the issue.



"Is he supposed to rip metal, wires, plastic, and glass apart or are we just talking the concrete?"

Glass must be broken. Concrete must be rubble. The metal skeleton can remain.

The top stuff will fall and break, true,'re assuming he can work from the bottom up. Why?? And even when that big thing falls, there will still be giant chunks. Heck, just moving the pieces to get to them would take months.


5-7 years?

No half-baked one-room cinderblock analogy is going to pick me up off the floor.

I'm down for the count.

The disappointment.

Squash said...

Let's all assume alternate i.d.'s.

880 years, if ever.

Michael B said...

Squash--much better. Nearly perfect.

Andy D. said...

Ah how quickly the tide turns, MB!!

Plus I just found a nifty ambiguity in your definitions, which I'm going to do a little sledgehammeribg on of my own!!

"Down to rubble-sized."

grinder? Or - the size of, "Mr. Barney Rubble??"

oooo - better yet!! "Mr. BAM-BAM Rubble!!"

the size of Mr. Bam-Bam Freaking Rubble - plus using gravity, instead of the "start on the upper deck" ploy you have always foolishly imagined - therefore - a week to ten days, TOPS!!

Andy D. said...

Hey, when you were clearing the stream - did you climb to the tops of the littlest branches and start clipping?

Or did you ford it and start hackin like a man??

I'm guessing, "A."

3 thousand and 9: The Millineum Stream Clearing Project.

Michael B said...

The stream. Okay, you're all picturing a lovely pristine stream with some nice bushes on the bank. No. There's a three-foot bank there. That may not seem like much, but it created a real challenge for positioning myself to gain access to the bushes, and....

wait a freakin' moment.

why am i rationalizing how long it took me to do that work? Or how I did it?

ANDY!!! Oh, you're good.

Squish said...

Squash- You can't see it, but I am glaring at you.

Michael- I know nothing of Andy D.

Michael B said...

Squish--I feel the stare from here. Pretty intense. Poor Squash.