From the fourth floor of the Williamson Medical Center in Franklin, Tenn., there is a view that would excite any fan of concrete. The hospital staff probably knew that when they assigned my room.

Why did I get such a striking view for four days from the window of a hospital? In the middle of August, I had an accident at home that left me with a broken kneecap. After surgery, I was trapped in the room for a couple days of recuperation while pain medicine that would knock out King Kong helped me deal with my plight.

From my view, I could watch the construction of a new interchange just south of state Route 96. Traffic empties into the newest commercial park in Franklin, and about 20 trucks per day haul precast panels south on I-65, perhaps to a new bridge that is being built nearby.

For my nighttime entertainment, I watched ready-mix trucks hauling to avoid the hot temperatures. It was about 105° F. here in Middle Tennessee at the time, the hottest temperature in 50 years. So there aren't too many ready-mix trucks rolling down the highway in the daytime. Most of the larger pours are being done at night, and I don't blame them.

I also received a personal view of the casting process. This casting person came into my room one day and put a full-length, 35-pound purple cast on my leg.

When he started wrapping me up, I touched it to see if it was generating heat. Obviously it was. Before long, we were comparing stories and information about our jobs' respective casting materials.

Comparing notes

I compared the material for my cast and the concrete used in the pre-cast panels for the bridges. Then he asked about concrete, the material with which I was most familiar. For the next several minutes, we talked back and forth about mixes. I explained to him about the mix designs we had to prepare before deliveries could be made to a jobsite.

He had many questions about the set-time of the panels and the various other mixes. I asked him about the materials he worked with. Strangely enough, they are similar to ours in several ways.

When he left, I returned to the window, and my thoughts again turned to concrete. There are plans for this hospital to start a new addition that will include a medical center and parking garage.

It will be interesting to see what type of construction they'll use. On another hospital in Nashville, they used precast to create an appealing structure. The panels for the building were colored and were shipped in by truck one weekend. The crazy thing about the project was that the panels came from Atlanta. I have always wondered how a supplier from another state can produce and ship materials to another state and still be cost-competitive with the local manufacturers.

As an aside, I couldn't figure out why my cast was an odd purple color. But I guess it had something to do with the comment I made to the doctor. I noticed he was almost bald. I really didn't say it like that. I just explained the lord was good to him. “He gave you a handsome face and he's cleaning off a place for another one,” I told him.

So it's not my best line, but I blame it on the pain medication. Be very careful and don't break any bones. The time it takes to recuperate will give you too much time to think.

jimambrose@aol.com