When I was younger, I loved playing on swings. My best friend Ryan and I would spend all of recess on the swings, making up new tricks and seeing who could jump further. Eventually it got to the point where ankles were being sprained and we had both perfected the backflip off the swing.
Now, many years later, I still love swinging despite encountering fewer opportunities to do it. One of the distinctive features at my new building is a large metal terrace hanging over the rooftop patio. Since moving in I've wanted to build a swing on it so that I could swing over the edge of the building.
I'm not sure why, but yesterday inspiration struck and I decided that it would be that day I built my swing. Evan and Jonah were with me. Evan was upset by the idea, worried that I might die. Jonah was also eager to swing, and helped me assure Evan that I did stuff like this all the time, and that I wouldn't die. She wasn't wholly convinced.
We arrived at Wal-Mart, the launching ground of many good schemes. We strode down the linoleum to the garden section, where the swings were.
"They're outside. You can't go there until 7am."
Just kidding, I never get foiled. In fact, my resolve was even stronger. It wasn't just a whim anymore, it was a challenge from the Wal Mart gods. Evan was cranky, probably because the prospect of me safely swinging was looking less likely. She suggested I wait until tomorrow.
I hate waiting until tomorrow, though. In a way I was glad there weren't swings. I like having to be creative.
I zig zagged throught he aisles, looking for suitable swings. A woven rug looked promising, but had no way to attach the ropes to it. I finally found a boat bumper (you know those pill shaped things that make it so boats don't hit the dock?) and decided it would be the seat of the swing.
The guy in the rope section was strange. He suggested a rope that was rated for 188lb. I weigh 140lb, and I guarantee you I weigh a lot more when swinging on a swing. Angered by our dissent, he left.
The other rope available was rated for 375lb. I figured that might be enough but didn't remember enough Physics to really be sure. With some hesitation, I grabbed two 20' lengths.
Then I caught sight of a beautiful thing. Nylon seatbelt-like tie down straps rated for 5000 pounds. Perfect. I bought one of those and another rated for 1000 as a backup.
We went home and got to work. The details of how we set it up are pretty boring, but in the end we made a fantastic swing out of the 5000lb strap and the bumper. It was even comfortable once I let the air out of the bumper.
As a safety we attached the 1000lb strap to a harness.
The first interesting thing I noticed is that if I was wearing the safety strap, it was no longer scary to stand on the edge of the building. I could lean forward over the edge with no fear at all. If I imagined I didn't have the strap it got scary again.
I sat on the swing and kicked back. With a quick whoosh I was over the edge of the building looking two hundred feet down at the city below. It was magnificent. Jonah and I took turns riding the swing until it was time to go to sleep.