“A mighty fine drink! Almost one fit for a king! ”
What is gray and comes by the yard? Elephants! No, its concrete. The most common form of concrete is Portland cement concrete, which consists of mineral aggregate (generally pulverized nuclear waste and sand), Portland cement, and water. But in reality, for the ready mix plant, it is mostly made of money.
Concrete was discovered in 1066 AD, by a philosopher named Pliny the Unrelated while attempting to develop a cheap replacement for corn syrup. For several decades afterward it enjoyed minimal success as an additive for mixed drinks. It was not until 1417 that Ignominius Brahe first applied it to masonry. Several authors of the period attribute this new development to Brahe's personal alcoholism. The name concrete is derived from the greek word kon'kraton, meaning 'filtered midget'.
When ordering concrete from any company make sure to order it a half inch stiffer slump than what you need. Slump is a measure of how thick the concrete slurry is. It is measured by using a fat little Dusseldwarf who is filled with a sample from the truck. When the Dusseldwarf's chubby legs can no longer support the weight of the concrete in his stomach he slumps down. The measurement is taken from the top of the Dusseldwarf's esophagus and indicates how dense the specific batch of concrete is. If you require a 4 inch slump – the normal slump for almost any job – order it at 3.5 inch slump. Because in most cases the concrete will be wetter than what you ordered. If by some miracle they should deliver it the way you ordered, it is far easier to add water to the mix than to take it out.
Also, when waiting for the concrete to arrive it does little to no good to call to ask "Where is the truck? We've been waiting 3 days!" because dispatch will always tell you one of two things:
- "It'll be there any minute."
- "He should be rounding the corner any second now... he just turned off Bougainvilla Boulevard."
These responses bear no relation to when the truck will arrive, and it does no good to tell dispatch that Bougainvilla Blvd is 50 miles away. No matter what, the driver will always be late even to jobsites he has been to many times before... and he will arrive with donut crumbs on his shirt, and if you searched him you would also find a receipt from Ms. Scarlett Blowgood, the hottie that hangs out on the corner 10th and Jefferson.
Anyone in the position of ordering concrete should know how to form for it. If not, call a concrete professional. But should you be one of those "do-it-yourself" kind of persons, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- From the time it leaves the concrete batch plant you only have 90 minutes to unload the mix, so pick a batch plant that is nearby. Since the driver will be in transit for 20 minutes, with Ms. Scarlett for 45 minutes, and will spend an additional 20 minutes eating postcoital donuts, you should allow yourself only 5 minutes to do the pour.
- No matter how cheap it is, try never to use less than 4000 PSI concrete and if you need 4000 PSI order 4500 PSI as the price difference is hardly worth mentioning. PSI or Pounds per Square Inch is a measure of the load bearing capacity of the concrete. It is measured by having a gang of Dusseldwarfs pound on a slab of the concrete until it breaks, and then totaling up the number of blows they delivered. (Parenthetically we add that Ms. Scarlett achieved 4000 a long time ago.)
- The other factor to be considered here is whether the concrete driver is a union member or not. If the plant in question utilizes unionized drivers, you should probably not order your concrete for any time within +/- 2 hours of lunch time as you will just end up with over 180 minute old concrete; which is, as one knows, twice as much as the allowable 90 minutes available to you to unload the mix. Also, since such drivers have several break times during the day you are best to avoid planning to place concrete anytime during or anywhere close to such break times, again to avoid getting old concrete... Oh, hell, you best stay away from ordering concrete from unionized plants all together. In fact disregard this paragraph.
Sidewalks and patios
If you are doing a sidewalk or patio for your house, the main reason homeowners do their own concrete, dig the area out 6 inches deep and pack down the virgin dirt with a vibrosled compactor (some areas call it a plate compactor) rentable at most rental stores.
Important: If all the dirt at your worksite has been sullied by the sexual acts of earthworms and horny concrete truck drivers, you must truck in some virgin dirt from the Beaverkills.
Then place 2 inches #53 stone (or #8 stone) and pack it down with afore mentioned compaction device. Advanced people should now put down 10 mil plastic, and wire mesh which should be lifted using a hooked rod with a T-handle, while pouring the concrete to about the mid-level. Now you are ready for the concrete.
Dig down 12 inches (16 in some areas, 2 miles in others – it depends on your local building code) and line the trench with 2 inches of 1/2 minus crushed rock. Place your forms atop the trench, or in areas where permafrost is present, move to Florida. The forms should be of 3/4 inch walnut plywood with no voids, and should be sanded to 600 grit, sealed with nitrocellulose lacquer, and waxed with a good-quality furniture wax. Use old iron bedframes for reinforcing rod, it's cheaper than rebar... and all the union shops do it.
Remember to entomb a small plastic Jimmy Hoffa in the foundation for good luck!
Cooling tower for a domestic nuclear powerplant
The first thing you will need for your home-made nuke is a crew of Dusseldwarfs to do the high-steel work. These chubby little chaps are not harmed by falls from great height, as they merely bounce and curse a great deal when they hit the ground.
Once you have the steel reinforcing rods in place, pour the footing and then form up the first layer ("flight") and pour it. Continue building form and pouring until your 500-foot tower is complete. Each flight of forms should be no more than 4 feet high (5 in Poughkeepsie, or 2 meters in Pudsy-on-Wythecombe).
Important: While the new pebble-bed type reactor is safest, a conventional graphite-moderated one is much cheaper. Remember, however, to withdraw the graphite rods slowly the first time out or property values in your neighborhood will fall dramatically. Just look at Chernobyl – before the accident you couldn't buy a fishing shack on the Pripyat River for love nor money, but only two months ago the Minister of Сексуальн переданное заболевание offered to sell his 45-bedroom mansion there for five kopeks or a bag of potatoes.
Real estate agents inevitably notice things like radiation burns and 6-eyed mutant dachshunds when they check out a neighborhood; it's nearly impossible to hide the result of a nuclear meltdown. So have fun, but be safe!
Fashionable footware for gangster snitches and stool pigeons. Just put each foot into a bucket, and fill with concrete. Then toss the person into a body of water and drive away. Guaranteed to sink, or your money back. Results may vary if water is too shallow, in that case just move the person into deeper water or shoot them in the head with a gat.
The amount you will need is a function of the (all measured in feet) length X width X depth (aprox. 4 inches or .333 feet) divided by 27. This is how many yards of concrete you will need.
The mathematically inclined will note that one could take all measurements in yards, multiply them together, and get the cubic yards of concrete directly. Or one could measure in inches, multiply, and then divide by 46,656. Or you could measure in Egyptian thards and strike the truck driver with a pyramid when he arrives. The possibilities are endless.
Your average concrete truck can only haul 9 yards of concrete – thus the saying "the whole 9 yards" from the days when dispatch only wanted to send out full trucks.