Monday, October 31, 2011

Keeping the creative flame alive



While returning from my walk along the reservoir yesterday, I saw this worker with two flamethrowers. I maintained a respectful distance as I snapped his photograph. From my youth it has been my policy never to annoy a man holding flamethrowers.

As I approached, I looked more closely at the flamethrowers and judged them unimpressive. A faint wisp of yellow flame flickered at each of the nozzles. Two high-powered hair driers would have worked just as well.

After returning home and conducting a brief internet search, I found a technical explanation for the worker's actions. He was heating the white strip of thermoplastic that formed the traffic arrow at his feet, bonding it to the blacktop beneath.

I suppose there are maintenance advantages to using thermoplastic road markers rather than simply painting lines and arrows on the blacktop; but, all the same, I hope the practice doesn't catch on. Road painting may be a humble art, but the creation of a straight line or a well-proportioned turn arrow must surely give the worker more satisfaction that cooking a strip of plastic with wheezy flamethrowers.

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