Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Last night I dreamed about a conversation I suppose I’ve been subconsciously scripting for some time now. The dream lapsed, evolved, and ended poolside in Vegas on a dry desert afternoon hotter than most people find bearable (it felt heavenly to me), with my favorite hat and sunglasses, a good book, tanning oil, and pleasant company. The visual of that scenario was long gone by the time I woke up, but I could still smell sun-baked wet concrete, chlorine, and UV rays diffusing the fabric softener from my towel.

I arrived at work this morning to find Jeff and Bud in exasperated postures before the computer, which might have been carved out of granite for all the interaction the screen offered them. The figures that usually fluctuate every 1.5 seconds were frozen in unlikely values, and one had been entirely replaced by red ampersands in a row. We pulled fuses and fiddled with switches, changed out PLCs and called our IT guy in Kamas, but without being able to look at it, Gary didn’t have many suggestions. He said he’d call the manufacturer and get back to us.

“While you’re looking at monitors,” said Bud, “go look at mine. I turned it on and off all day Saturday but I think it’s finally shit the bed.” (It’s been so blurry lately we can hardly read ESPN.com.) I went into his office and saw the orange ‘sleep’ light on his monitor. I jiggled the mouse: nothing. I put my hand on the top of the black Dell tower under the desk: nothing. I pulled the tower out and powered it on, and it happily booted up. It must have shut itself off during the power outage Friday night, even though the generator kicked in instantly.

When Bud and Jeff went to lunch I went back to the power cabinet and turned the switch from Run to Remote to Program and back to Run. The fault light cleared and sure enough, when I got back to the control room the flow and pH numbers were rolling over and over again, and the ampersands were gone, replaced by probable figures on each filter and the correct effluent turbidity, which I had been monitoring in the lab. Bud walked in five minutes later and I swiveled the chair to face him. “I guess we’re back in business.”

“How did that happen?” He looked ready to cry.

“It doesn’t matter because it probably won’t work next time.”

“I need a vacation.”

Me too, Bud. Me too.


Blogger Shepcat said...

Dry desert heat? You'd better tell the landlady to have the thermostats in your building checked out.

May 9, 2006 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger A said...

Oddly enough, it was 84 degrees F when I got home tonight, and I remember thinking yesterday it was warmish. I called said landlady to whine and she told me to check with the other tenants. I checked with one and got lazy.

May 9, 2006 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger A said...

Did I mention that said tenant had no pants on?

May 10, 2006 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Shepcat said...

How could you bury the lead like that? Did you really get lazy, or were you just afraid of what states of undress you might find the other tenants in?

May 10, 2006 at 3:37 PM  

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