What’s the Hold Up?

Every evening on my way home I pass by one of the new high-rise condominium complexes that started springing up around Nashville about 20 minutes before the economy hit the skids. Four or five are complete now (one that I pass every day only got as far as a giant hole in the ground ) and they have fancy-pants names like Terrazzo and ICON. They’re beautiful and sleek and expensive.

The one I see on my daily route is called Rhythm, a word you see and hear a lot around here. It’s a place where I always creep along so I have plenty of time to contemplate what I see. Day after the day, what strikes me is this: what on earth is holding up the balconies?

Each unit has these slabs of concrete jutting out over the unit below, and there’s nothing holding them up. Sure, they’re attached to the walls, but there’s nothing underneath. No pillars or poles. No foundation.

Just thin air.

Don’t get me wrong, despite my gut-wrenching fear of heights, I do love balconies. But balconies are kind of like hot dogs–you don’t want to think about how they’re made while you’re enjoying them.

On my one and only cruise, I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about being such a small speck in such a large ocean…and the same concept works here–what was holding up the million-ton ship I was on? Water. What happens when you throw a rock in a pond?

Right. It sinks.

And what about airplanes? What holds them up?

Same thing that holds up balconies–thin air.

So maybe it all comes down to faith. Faith in science and builders and architects.

Faith in pilots and engineers and ship captains.

And faith in hot dog makers.




Filed under General Frippery

11 responses to “What’s the Hold Up?

  1. as an undergraduate, i took a class in “Statics”, which is the engineering/physics behind support for such structures. it helped me (marginally) with my fear of balconies. but i still would never consider walking out on that glass balcony that has been constructed over the grand canyon… that’s just batty!

  2. You’re thinking too much. You’d better stop that right now! That’s how long, sleepless nights are born.

  3. I say just stick with the kind of hot dog you already know you’re fond of ; )
    I will never go on a cruise. I would never stand on that balcony.
    I do, however, work with 1000 pound animals every day that could kill me and have flown in rattling, sputtering heaps of metal more than once just to get to some far off place I’ve always wanted to see.
    How this shit gets figured out as safe or unsafe in my brain I will never know.

  4. I’m with you as to the airplanes; but, in addition to faith, pre-stressed, post-tensioned concrete is a big help.

  5. Julie Fisher

    Faith??? How about the brains of all the people on the highway coming toward you at high speeds? Faith in those people’s good sense in something you just really can’t think of too much.
    I love your comparison of those balconies to the make-up of hot dogs. When I begin to think of it, how can anybody claim to be a true atheist.

  6. DF–I will probably never go within a hundred miles of the Grand Canyon. As for the glass balcony, it sounds more like a diving board to me.
    UB–Yeah…thinking too much is highly over rated.
    MG–Have to say Hebrew National is my hot dog of choice.
    Dave–See how smart you are with your pre-stressed and post-tensioned talk.
    Julie–You’re right, of course. Driving down the interstate is much more dangerous than standing on a balcony.

  7. I went for a tour in the Icon, and standing on one of those balconies will surely intensify your fears. The walls of them are glass! You almost feel like you might accidentally fall off even looking out and THINKING about being on that thing!

  8. I love the naming fads that come and go with developments. The newer developments where my mom lives are all Italian-y sounding places. Piazzo, Terraza, Piamonte. The little apartment buildings from the 70s and 80s (kinda 3 is Company style) all have names like Aruba, Tahiti, The Acapulco, Bermuda.

  9. I reckon that a firm belief in magic helps with the day-to-day.

  10. I could probably show you the calculations on how those balconies are holding up, but it gets boring. And riding on ferris wheels and such isn’t as fun anymore either, once you know how much stress and whatnot are being put on small parts!

  11. It’s just like when you drive down a busy two way highway. What’s keeping the other cars from going nuts and driving into your lane? A little painted line of trust.

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