Monday, January 23, 2006

Concrete achievements

I can geek out on a variety of subjects, the range of which is a little distressing (or, if you hold your head just right, rather comforting). I usually think of geekery as relating to high tech, perhaps because folks in computer subcultures were among the first to claim "geek" as a compliment to their interest and expertise — rather than the traditional comparison to the lowest sideshow performers. Or I may see geekery as high tech because because technology is involved in many of my enthusiasms, most of which which are formed by technology (science and technology), or informed by technology (science fiction), or transformed by technology (books and maps).

Today's Trib has a nice obit describing a low-tech geekery that's new to me. Gordon Ray was a civil engineer who was "an expert in concrete road and runway design". He literally wrote the book on it.

"He would talk passionately about concrete paving to anyone at any time, whether it was at a lecture or in a social setting," said George Barney, a senior vice president with the Portland Cement Association. "He was easygoing, but he was very intense in whatever he was focusing on at the time, whether it was concrete pavements or how to sink a putt on the golf course."
"He had all of these pictures of Paris, and his favorite slides were of Charles de Gaulle International Airport," his daughter said. "He was so proud of everything you could do with concrete."

Go read the whole obituary.


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