One of the cool things about my job is that I sometimes get to go places that most Cornellians never see. Take the roof of Barnes Hall, for example.
Everyone is familiar with ONE of the views from Barnes Tower (you might remember it from here), but did you know that if the camera were turned 180 degrees, you’d have the best vista of the community fireworks around? And did you know that the bricks in the arches on the tower are set at beautifully curvaceous angles?
Before I left Campus Information–back when I was still actually in charge of the Live View–I used to sneak out of the office on sunny days and climb up to the tower to breathe some quiet air. (Joel, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. Except, not really. Because, wow, was that job stressful.) Of course, back when I was actually still in charge of the Live View, I also frequently found myself up there scraping ice off the lens at twenty below zero. But I digress.
To get to the top of Barnes Tower, you have to make your way through the building to what I affectionately refer to as “The Quasimoto Door”–named thus because of the need to practically double-over at the waist to get through without smacking your head on some of that curvaceous brickwork. From there, you climb a dusty and winding stair past two locked rooms–the contents of which has been (and will no doubt remain) a mystery to me since the late 1990s. All I know is that, sometimes, you can hear strange noises from within. (Rattling chains. Moaning. Broadcasts of the news that Japan has attacked Pearl Harbor. That sort of stuff.)
The third door you come to is the tower room, which contains some pretty interesting graffiti that dates all the way back to the 1970s. Older than me, even. (Well, almost.) From there, you climb a somewhat rickety wooden ladder to the hatch that leads out onto the roof. When I first started taking care of the cam, the ladder was not secured in any way and the hatch (which weighs about 70lbs–no kidding) did not have hinges. Now, there is a wooden base and a sign affixed to the inside of the hatch that says “CAUTION: ROOF SLIPPERY WHEN WET. STAY ON MATS. HANDRAILS ARE ORNAMENTAL ONLY.” This translates roughly as: “If you fall while you’re up there, you’re gonna hit grass and no court in the land would find in your favor.”
Yes. There is a story behind that. And, yes, “Danger” is my middle name. Or should be, anyway. Suffice to say that there was a hospital involved and that I am now unable to go scuba diving ever again.
When classes are in session and things are happening in the Barnes Hall auditorium, you can hear the music drifting up through the tower like you had a front row seat. Unfortunately, they can also hear you, as I discovered once after a streak of particularly blue invective I let go when the server crashed back in 1999. I tiptoe, now.
I cannot even begin to express how happy I was when we hired Ieuan and I got to hand over the keys to Barnes. I know it sounds all romantic and exciting, but, really, keeping track of that thing is a pain in the neck. The tower room is un-insulated, which means it’s sub-zero in the winter and 100+ degrees in the summer. It’s musty and stinky and dirty up there and the server is both notoriously fickle and prone to crash on days when I am wearing nice clothing.
So you can imagine my mood last week when I got to climb the tower in the rain and hang out with Tim from the Electric Shop while he replaced the new camera with *another* new camera. (Long story that can be summed up by saying “Nothing is ever easy with the Live View.”) If Ieuan falls mysteriously ill suddenly, I am pleading the Fifth.
Grumpiness aside, we had a very nice chat with the guys who were erecting the scaffolding that you can now see in the shot. (And, if you happened to be watching the cam at the time, you probably got a nice view of Tim’s nostrils while he worked.) We used to archive the footage from the Live View and, at times like these, I wish that we still did. The gents putting up the scaffolding were quite excited about being live on the ‘net and I would have liked to have been able to show them movies of themselves.
And, hey, what’s the deal with that scaffolding, anyway?
They’re re-roofing the building. And you, lucky viewers, get to watch the excitement LIVE on the internet. Well, some of it, anyway. Most of the work will be going on several feet above the cam, but you might get to watch materials being raised and lowered across the viewing field. And maybe you’ll see a boot or two as the men move around up there. Heck, you might even get a nostril shot if someone gets curious about the cam.
Here’s hoping they remember that the hand rails are ornamental only.