09 July 2005

There's a Hole In My Bodkin, Dear Liza, Dear Liza

Message from Alabama - summary and prologue

So, how'd I come to be here, and what's with the disjoint continuity??

Kind reader, the fact is that I am lucky to have any access to media services beyond rudimentary telecommunication. When I suddenly achieved blog update capability, I felt it my duty to convey the most amusing tidbits available - in case this ability turned out to be fleeting. I have managed to configure an Outlook accout at work to receive e-mail from my personal accout, but it seems incapable of sending anything. I am, however, getting ahead of myself.

How did I come to be ejected out into tornado Alley?
Greed did play a large role. On June 28 or 29 (I forget which) my boss sauntered in awkwardly and sat down. [That sounds an odd, doesn't it? perhaps an awkward meander would be a better description?] The very fact that he was willing to remain in the hot room long enough to sit down was sufficient to gather my attention. He stammered something about how one of the other company facilities was experiencing difficulties and was significantly shorthanded; since our facility was relatively inert (sufficient for me to be concerned about being cast off for a month or so) would I be willing to willing to go down to Alabama for 2-4 weeks to help them out?

I thought for a moment. I realised that I was not on the verge of completing a major symphony. I did not recall any significant upcoming exams, probably due to my not being enrolled in any classes. Nor would I be leaving anyone of either sex at the altar if I was away over-long.

"Sure" I said.

My boss told me that I would be flying down there on Sunday, July 3, and then watched apologetically as I contemplated the best protocol for withdrawing my jaw from the floor.

The short version of the rest of the story is that the preparations for such a long away were relatively painless compared to the same endeavours as percieved in my mind's periscope. A minor hitch or three have occurred, but overall results have been positive - Yours Truly should bear no evidence of permanent scarring.

Positive ramifications are manifold.
One: I get to stay for free in a fancy home that the company took over in recent years.
Two: all my foodstuffs and related consumables will be reimbursed by said company.
Three: they even sprang for a rental car (this eliminates the need for a second person to act as a taxi service). Dashboard design aside, I am liking the 2005 Toyota Camry.
Four: (and not entirely foreseen) I am getting lotsa working hours. They generate the same products here as at the Chicago facility, but have all different customers. This mandates different tests to qualify the material for the customer's specifications. While there are similarities and differences between the procedures of the two facilities, the similar things are often done differently, and add to the completely foreign methods I must learn.
Five: while I am riding an ersatz gravy train here, I am not at home augmenting the sortfall of energies that must be supplied by the utilities.
Six: while being away for so long, my car will be idle for an unprecedented number of consecutive days. I took swift advantage of this by delivering it to my mechanics on July 1. At the time of this writing, a palpable drain on my finances indicates to me that their arcane manner of posturing around my horseless carriage has reached its climax. Hopefully that means that meine auto has regained its superb fuel economy. That will be most welcome for the imminent gasoline crisis that will materialize in approximately Q3 of 2006. If not sooner.

In short: Having a good time. Wish you were here sweating your balls off (instead of me). Suffering withdrawal for lack of unrestricted internet and e-mail access. Money and rental car good, weather ambivalent, tornadoes bad, don't whiz on the electric fence.

I have been told that I "talk like a Northerner, but ya dress like a Southroner."

Truthfully, I do like it here.

Now if only I could sleep for more than 5 hours a day....

08 July 2005

How Not To Be Seen In All The Old Familiar Places

Message from Alabama III

12 hour shifts are hardly new to me, so it was with some consternation I realised Monday night that my eyelids were bound and determined to engage in Greco-Roman wrestling. Similar occurred on Tuesday night, when I should have been much more rested than on the previous evening/morning/moment/eon/epoch/period/age. Ultimately, I determined that my symptoms were a product of my environment.

In Chicago, it had been warm of late. Warm/hot at work, and warm/cool at home. Typically I switch on a window air conditioner when I feign death, but of late I had become concerned that the power requirements of that unit were not being properly met. I had been trying (with little success) to get by without it until a relevant solution appeared. [That issue has yet to be addressed, so back to this one.] When I considered what was new or different about this Southron environment I could only pick out two interrelated factors. The air conditioning works here, and I am in it for a substantial time. At my job in Chicago, the building has air conditioning, but my corner of it is by far the hottest room or area within it.

Aha! So, the problem appears to be that the A/C here is making me cold and somehow sleepy. No problem, instead of just the T-shirt, I shall don a long sleeved shirt!
That is to say, I would - if I had one with me. In truth, I do have one. It is a nice dark royal blue dress shirt that is a blend of cotton and silk fibres. It is my precious. It is also not going to venture near a fithly lime kiln.

Whilst I was packing, I considered bringing several sleeved shirts. I dismissed the idea, however, since some miscreant had planted within my skull the notion that Alabama was hot. To be sure, its a bit warm here, but no more so than was Chicago when I left it. Apparently the significant meterological feature of Alabama is the humidity. This is a side-effect of Alabama being located within that special place called "tornado alley". When tropical storms saunter by (as they are wont to do) they have an annoying habit of sending rainstorm heralds to announce their potential arrival. This causes it to rain here a bit more often (and more suddenly) than might be normal in Chicago or elsewhere. So a sudden rainstorm in the middle of the afternoon which clears quickly to re-admit the powerfull sunshine gives rise to some nifty humidity. The locals tell me that it gets so humid that one has trouble breathing. (I'm all a-tingle in my nether regions with anticipation of this new sensation.) Digressions on weather patterns aside, I'm still up Alabama without a sleeved shirt.

Well, through the miracle travesty of Karl's dressing habits and the properties of cotton fabrics, I managed to solve the problem anyway. At this moment, I am alert, lucid, and functional at 4am. The fact that I am wearing two T-shirts is not a coincidence.

I know.
You are ever-so-glad that I could share that with you.

That's what I'm here for.