Monday, June 11, 2007

Balls, it was a three fan night.

There’s a medium size show going on today upstairs, all about sporting goods. It only takes up about a quarter of our floor space, but they expect 10,000 attendees over three days. I wandered around before they opened, and probably saw more balls in ten minutes than I will ever see in the rest of my life: basketballs, baseballs, footballs, soccer balls, rugby balls, cricket balls, exercise balls, whatever you can think of as round (or almost) it’s here.

There was a booth from Taiwan that had pictures of an interesting bicycle; the wheels are about eight feet in diameter. For the single person version there is only one wheel, and the rider sits in the center of the wheel. Guess it would be called a unicycle that way. The two rider version has the wheels on the same axle, with the riders in nice seats sitting on the axle between the wheels. There were versions with three seats side by side. This seems like a nice arrangement to me – you get to sit next to your fellow rider instead of behind them looking at butt the whole ride (well, depends on who’s butt you are looking at). Only drawback is that this makes the whole contraption rather wide, and you would probably take up an entire lane on the road.

Since I’m talking about work, here are some pictures I took around here. This first one is of a small triangle that sits next to the parking garage of the big hotel next door. We look down on it when on the bridge going over to the ‘team member’ parking garage across the street. This was just a bare patch of dirt, and in less than a day became this little green area.

The concrete circles were put in place, and the trees just plopped down in them. The gardeners have subsequently put flowers around the outside of the grass area. The ‘grass’ is actually some of the new green artificial grass that is becoming popular in Vegas. If you buy a new home it usually comes with a landscaped front yard. In order to meet watering restrictions any grass put down out there will most likely be this plastic stuff. Used to be called Astroturf, but now it really looks pretty good. A neighbor across the street from us pulled out his grass and put some of this stuff down. Now instead of watering and mowing he just has to sweep periodically.

When pulling into the team member parking garage I usually park on the ninth floor (out of fifteen). To get some exercise (no laughing now) I take the stairs down instead of the elevator, which I do take going up in the evening. Using the stairs on the end I look to the east, and down on the cooling plant for the hotel next to the big hotel next door. On the roof of the cooling plant are six big chillers, which provide the start of cold water used to air condition the hotel rooms. I can tell how hot it was the night before by the number of fans running on the cooling towers.

You can gauge the size of these by the man standing on the ladder in the lower left corner. The convention center has about two dozen of these to cool our space on our roof, and there are three really big ones for the big hotel next door. The two smaller cubes in the photo are what we call ‘swamp coolers’, or evaporative coolers, that cool off the room underneath the chillers.

What the cooling towers do is chill water by evaporation. There are a series of steps inside the big boxes which create little waterfalls. The fans force air through, and some of the water evaporates, cooling the rest of the water that remains. This colder water (not really cold, but colder than when it started) then cycles downstairs and takes heat from other liquid (usually water) which then circulates over to the hotel rooms and provides the cold source for the air conditioning.

This morning three of the big fans were running. I’d guess that the blades are about two and a half meters long, making the entire fan about five meters in diameter. All six probably are running in the middle of the day, but at night the air temp is cooler, making it easier to cool the water, and with lower temps less cold air is required inside. So when I look down on the chillers I say to myself, ‘looks like it was a three fan night’, as opposed to a three dog night which might happen up in Canada in the winter.

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