Friday, July 03, 2009

Drill, baby, drill

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that Deconstruction season was upon us, as old houses were being either destroyed or mysterious carted away. I found out later that some of those old houses were being dragged outside of town for the fire department to go and practice on. Which is spiffy and all, but the thing about Deconstruction season is that it leads right up to Construction Season.

And Construction Season is bloody noisy.

Basic fact about living this far north - pretty much everything is built on top of pylons. I don't know about the 6-story and 8-story buildings. There's some pretty solid rock up there, so they might be built on that. But everything else is built on pylons. Basements don't exist.

Why is everything built on top of pylons? Because much of the ground up here is permafrost. Yes, during the summer months, the top layer of soil is soft, things grow and the soil can easily turn into muck one day and then transform into the material for a dust storm the next. But dig down a little and - tada - permafrost. The ground is solid with frozen water mixed in.

Building on permafrost is bad. If you were to do the usual southern thing and dig a hole, put in a basement, and then the rest of the house, you will have trouble. This guy explains it pretty well, actually. No matter how well you insulate, heat will leak out of the building, melting the permafrost. Which will then shift, and then your very expensive house will begin moving in ways you don't want to consider.

Now, this guy suggests insulation and other tricks. And I'm sure some of that is done. But in this part of the world, it mostly involves drilling a couple of dozen holes deep into the permafrost, stick large metal poles into it and then build your house or whatever any where from a few inches to many feet above the ground. There's less chance of the heat from the house melting things, although it's not unheard of for houses to shift up here and for cracks to develop.

Here's the thing, though, drilling all those holes into the ground takes some time. Plus, it's not exactly quiet. Here's the machine they're using.

Looks quiet, doesn't it?

So why mention this? Because they're drilling right across the street from us. And they have been doing so for 12 hours a day since Monday. They normally start 7:30 am and wrap up around 7:30 pm. They didn't take a break for Canada Day and I have my doubts they'll be taking it easy on Saturday. Construction season in the arctic is short. You don't waste time. I imagine if it didn't involve them being murdered, they'd go at it 24 hours a day.

Now, I shouldn't complain too much. I'm still at work and I avoid most of the noise. Cathy, however, is home most of the day and I'm beginning to worry about her sanity. She can close the windows, which dulls the noise a bit, but the temperatures this week have been in the 15C range. For Nunavut is quite warm, which means the apartment turns into a sauna quickly. Open the windows and the noise is overwhelming. Plus, it's kicking up an ungodly amount of dust. We've dusted around the apartment three times already this week.

Hopefully they should be done by early next week. Of course, there's another area of construction nearby that I fear they're going to be heading to next.

There's nothing to be done about it, of course. And I do feel bad about it. Cathy normally spends most of her summer down south, but she's still around waiting for me to finish up my job so we can head out on vacation. Every other summer I've spent up here has been relatively quiet. Just bad luck this isn't one of them.

Eight more days until we leave for Australia. I think we'll both be more than ready to go when the date rolls around.

Last Five
1. Believe reprise - Sloan
2. You can call me Al - Paul Simon
3. The bends - Radiohead*
4. (Manifest) - The Weakerthans
5. Land down under - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies

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