Tuesday, January 24, 2006


In case you were wondering: yes, I am normal today. I'm back on my feet. I'm up to the challenge. I'm still harboring secrets, but they're the good kind. You have to remember that the blog is my therapy, and sometimes my dark side comes out on these pages. I am not prone to depression or angst; in fact, this winter has been one of the most emotionally difficult seasons I've ever had (worse than my teens, because at that time I wasn't conscious of the potential for true happiness in life). And it'll be a month at least before I know if the pill had anything to do with it. (Please see the bookie if you'd like to place a bet.)

Bud came into the control room this morning and asked me to go into his office and type up the letter he left there, written on notebook paper in his heiroglyphic scrawl. "Make it sound good. And make it look, you know, official." It was a letter asking Oop to promote me to a Level I Operator (from an Operator in Training). Being in the fragile state that I am, I nearly bawled over the nice things it said. My last shred of doubt about fitting in faded while I typed.

He stuck his head in while I was wrangling with the margins in Wordpad. "Is it grammatically correct?"

"Would Oop know if it wasn't?" He laughed and shut the door, making the blinds rattle.

After that Jeff and I went around to the elementary schools to collect bacteriological samples to send to the lab in Cheyenne. (We call it Bac-T, a test for harmless coliform bacteria that may indicate the presence of pathogens. How often you test depends on the size of your system; we take ten a month, five at a time.) Having done this for decades, Jeff moves like a magician, breaking the label on the bottle (which is prepackaged with sodium thiosulfate, a preservative acid) almost too fast to see, swirling the mouth under the tap with a flourish and sealing the lid before any bacteria has a chance to get in. (Get a bad Bac-T back and you'll be taking samples up and down the line until doomsday.) He disinfects the faucet with a lighter (which Travis has enthusiastically customized to provide a three-inch flame) after removing the aerator, making the room reek of burnt metal. I take a chlorine residual to make sure the distribution line is carrying enough to remain disinfected. I adore the rosy blush of chlorinated water when I mix in the powdered packet of DPD reagent, and I can tell within .05 mg/L what the outcome will be just by the shade of pink.

I love taking Bac-Ts, mostly because it's something different from the everyday grind. I love being in the truck with Jeff, who keeps the heater full-blast (when it gets too hot he just rolls down the window) and the country station on low. He always thinks of two or three errands to run between stops and meets half a dozen buddies along the way who want to visit, most of whom harrass him about good-ol'-boy things and wink at me from beneath the brims of stained Stetsons to make sure I appreciate their wit. And I do. I like going to the schools, even though all schools have that smell, the musty/soapy/perfume smell that fires my mind like a slingshot back to the tortuous schooldays I survived before Bekah came along. I dislike going out to the hospital because we have to use the tap in the men's room and it apparently annoys men to find a woman fooling around at the sink with a glass tube full of pink water. Jeff got so he just holds the door open and shoos them away.

When we got back to the plant I read my favorite columns in Sports Illustrated: Rick Reilly's brilliant Life of Reilly (today a gut-busting sarcastic rant on the questionable nature of Olympic skeleton), "They Said It" (there appears to be a rather high percentage of people associated with sports who are completely uneducated and genuinely stupid), and the "Sign of the Apocalypse" box. I also like the "Pop Grid" section where they ask four athletes questions regarding current music, books, trends, movies, etc., which shows just how completely out of touch most professional athletes really are. Oddly enough, it's the hockey players who appear to be the most steeped in reality. In today's grid they asked, "How many television sets do you own?" and one football player responded, "Twenty, but ten aren't hooked up right now." Oh honestly, people.

I think there are some pilgrimages in store this weekend, and maybe a musical experience, a pleasant dinner, some creativity (because somebody jumped my battery with new art supplies) and hopefully some writing, because I've obviously got some great ideas.


Blogger Shepcat said...

"I adore the rosy blush of chlorinated water when I mix in the powdered packet of DPD reagent…"

You snap me for being thrilled by HTML tags and then you make a statement like that? Pardon me, Kettle, but you're black.

Also, I can't read Reilly online because I'm not an SI subscriber, but I'd rebut any argument he might make against skeleton by pointing out that it takes serious freakin' testicular fortitude to slide downhill face-first at 100+ m.p.h. with your chin about 3 inches off the ice. Bobsledders look like pansies by comparison.

January 25, 2006 at 3:47 AM  
Blogger A said...

Touché, Mr. Hyde! I'm simply trying to maintain enthusiasm about my day job. It's not always as glamorous as I make it sound.

Reilly was just pointing out the lack of strategy, athletic ability, and common sense required to slide down a borrowed track on a "glorified lunch tray." He did say "a strong grip and weak brains" are necessary.

He was also making fun of the current skeleton scandal, involving steroid-martyr Zach Lund (I'm sure you know the details):

"And your first reaction is, Dude, you're sliding on a frickin' cake pan. How much performance enhancing do you need? Then you find out that Lund claimed the drug was from a baldness treatment he was taking. Poor guy. In one story people found out two embarrassing things about him: 1) He's balding; 2)he skeletons."

Funny stuff.

(Word verification: "pawby." Pawby?)

January 25, 2006 at 12:24 PM  

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