Tuesday, December 18, 2012

quickie workout, and an excerpt

Sundays gun culture rant took it out of me a bit. There was a bit of emotional involvement there, and I didn't even get to other stuff. I just read it again, and I see places I could make it flow better, but that's ok. It's done really well in the readership department, nearly cracking the all time top 10. There's been a few appreciative off line comments, which is always nice. 

I tried running Sunday, and it did not go well. My legs felt really heavy and slow and tight. The RunMeter app lied to me, telling me I'd run 5 K in less than 25 minutes. I'd be pretty pleased with that as a time if it was real, but the map showed me going all over the place. I doubt is was anything over 3K, and maybe not even that. The stretch session after was really good.

Monday I did some stretching, and more again tonight, really working that cranky hip. Right now it feels pretty good, but this lingering tightness is not normal for me.

I started reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and I'm absolutely entranced. I'm about 3/4 of the way through and I known I'm going to be sad when I'm done, and I know I'll be reading it again. The world is so immersive in a way I haven't enjoyed in a book for years. I can't wait to see how it turns out. I have my suspicions of course. Great book club pick! I've got a stack of books to work through, and they all look good.

The other literary thing is starting to look at the bits of my novel again. It's been a while since I've looked at it, and the format is obsolete. None of the programs on this computer can read it. Fortunately I still have the cube downstairs, and I managed to convert the chapters to RTF and put them on a USB drive. Now I just need to save them again and the process is complete. Well, not the writing process, lots left there.

Here's an excerpt for your reading pleasure. I'm curious what you think. If there's any demand I'll post other bits.

`Well Les, what do you think so far?` Dwen asked. It was his second shift. He had spent the first one with Mitch, and today he’d start learning his daily job duties. Mitch had asked Dwen to show him the primary end in more detail.

`After all Dwen,` Mitch had said, `you seem to know the plant pretty good. Now we’ll see if you can explain it to someone new.`

`We sure covered a lot of ground yesterday. He didn’t really want to get into much detail.` Les’s voice was light and quiet, with the faintest hint of a Newfie accent.

`Do I get just the slightest hint that you wonder if he knows the detail to give? I’m not sure you realize yet how much detail there is.` Dwen looked up at him to see his bland features delicately flushed.

They strode along for a moment, steps out of time. Les’s apparent embarrassment didn’t seem to affect his graceful walk. His face didn’t show it, but Dwen could almost feel him trying out different responses. She kept her eyes on his face, eyebrows slowly raising. 

`All right, he had said that he was going to be giving me an overview, and that other people on the crew would be teaching specific jobs. I hadn’t thought I’d spend the whole shift wandering around not doing anything. Most places put new people to work right away.`

`That’s what they used to do here too. Teach the new guy a few jobs, then leave him to learn the rest of the plant on his own. Most people didn’t bother. Now they have all this new equipment coming in and most of the senior operators can’t really operate the stuff that’s here now. We need you to know how your day to day job fits into how the plant runs, and give you a framework for fitting new jobs into.` She pulled open the door to headworks, then walked into the control room. `Have a seat. Don’t think that Mitch doesn’t know the details. He does, but he’ll be the first to admit he isn’t very good at explaining them.`

`I see. Maybe I’m a little sensitive about people that I think are trying to get something past me. I don’t like being snowed. So what do operators do in here?` He swung a chair around behind the desk beside Dwen’s, and settled into it in one smooth motion that looked like he had been practicing it for weeks. Somehow he ended up just exactly where any closer would have made Dwen uncomfortable. Dwen straightened up, and cleared the screen.

`We’ll begin at the beginning. This place is like an onion, there’s always another layer of stuff to learn. I don’t know everything yet, but what’s important is that I know how to figure it out. If something I’ve explained isn’t making sense, stop me and say so. Ask if you have a question. Don’t be afraid of looking stupid, since we don’t expect you to know much now. So for you, for the next few months, there isn’t any such thing as a dumb question. Are you with me?`

The sharp question woke Les up. He had been getting lost in her words; paying attention more to the flow and rhythm of her husky, slightly nasal voice.

`Yes, ask if I have questions. This place is like an onion. Does that mean it would taste good broiled in a cheese sauce?`

Dwen stared at him and wondered what she was dealing with. `After your tour yesterday you have to ask that? But if you can get it into a pot, be my guest.`

`I suppose not.` He patted the top of a metal box that housed a TV screen and a membrane keyboard. `Is this what really runs the plant and make us operators obsolete?

`Yes and no. This isn’t really a computer, though that’s what we call it. What it really does is monitor plant conditions, shows us various operating parameters and graphs trends, and lets us start and stop some equipment remotely.  You get the various screens by doing this,` as her fingers touched the keypad.  She walked him through the most important screens and explained everything in careful detail. After that she took him through headworks and showed him all the things to check on a regular round. `Later we’ll come back and fire up the queen, but that’s it for headworks for now. Next time we come back, you’ll walk through and show me all the things you’ll have to check. Are you up for that?`

`I think so. It’s pretty straight forward so far.`

`So far is right. There’s a lot more so far to get through before you come back and have to remember this particular bit of so far.`

`So what’s the next bit of so far?`

We’ll go down to number 2 primary pumphouse and spend some so far there. You probably already know as much as you need to about checking on clarifiers, but we’ll find out. The main thing will be pumping grease, though that can lead into lots of other stuff. This will probably take us up to coffee break. If you want to use the bathroom, now’s the time.` She gestured at a pair of doors.

Les shrugged. `I’ll be ok. Listen. I didn’t mean to imply that Mitch didn’t know the details, but he did have a no rush, there’s time for details later attitude that seemed to go beyond sparing a new person un-necessary detail. You seem much more brisk and on the ball.`

`Well, thank you. But it isn’t what your words said that cued me, it’s what was behind your voice as you said it. Just now, you said new person, but what you had originally thought was new man. You edited your words on the fly. I’m not some ultra-feminist that objects to the “man” suffix.`

Les’s eyes widened in surprise. `A guy never knows. I’ll have to be careful what I say around you, I think. You’re two for two in picking up the original cast of my thoughts by the way I phrased it.`

She stopped and looked up at him. `I’d say three for three. So far.` She smiled an enigmatic smile under her sunglasses.`Show me what you know about clarifiers, then we’ll get on with new stuff.`

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