Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Computer room redux
The kitchen is back to normal. For over a week at Clearwater the computer room was closed for a serious overhaul. All the computers and furniture was removed. The carpet was torn up, the baseboards pulled off, the concrete floor beneath stripped of linoleum, washed and re-sealed, and given some fresh layers of paint. Meanwhile, nearly all online gaming migrated (via laptops) into the kitchen.
"It is so loud in here!" Meghan said to me one afternoon in the kitchen, as we looked over at the six students gathered around four laptops playing and watching a multiplayer game. It was indeed loud; there were yells of alarm or triumph as foes advanced or were routed, and a general atmosphere of noisy camaraderie. But it was even louder in the computer room, where Gregory was working by himself (sometimes) with a machine that looked like a lawn mower and felt (according to Gregory, who used it a lot) like a jackhammer to operate. It sounded like a jackhammer too. It included a wide blade that pried up the linoleum. The flooring came up in broken strips that looked like thick pieces of peeling paint. It was slow going; the linoleum had been there a long time and was stuck down hard.
When they weren't gaming in the kitchen, most of the students who usually use the computer room would take turns doing jobs in the remodeling. The linoleum stripping was actually the second or third step of the process. The first had been the tearing out of the carpet. "The carpet was ugly. It looked nasty and smelled nasty," said Gabriel. Was it hard to pull up? "The carpet, No. The linoleum, yes." That took two or three days of hard work with the jackhammer-lawnmower machine. Periodically Mat R., the staff who also serves on the computer committee, would re-sharpen the blades with a spinning stone that sent bright sparks flying, and made its own noise. At times, there were five or six students in at once, washing, ripping out carpet nails, All in all, a loud set of jobs.
Once the floor was uncovered and washed, and a crack the students discovered was re-sealed, it was time to paint. Students used long-handled rollers and laid down two coats on the floor, then let it dry before hauling all the desks, chairs and computers back in and re-connecting them. (Later, still another coat was added, accompanied by another trip of all the furniture in and out.) After routine de-bugging and de-fragging, the computer room was at last declared open for business again. It had taken seven days of work. Gabriel brought chocolate chip cookies to thank everyone who had pitched in to do the labor. Now that the room is re-opened, it is almost as if it has always been this way. The floor is shiny, the chairs roll over it smoothly; no one misses the old ugly carpet. And the kitchen is quiet again. Sort of.