Archive for September, 2009

Flying Towards The Sun

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Today I sort of wished that somebody would tell me no. There is a part of me that feels like my inner Icarus is getting out of hand and needs to be slapped down. But that sort of wish was hidden away in a deep dark part of me that I try to always keep hidden. Every other part of me was straining to convince everyone that the answer should be yes.

The boss of my boss’s boss asked me, “How far am I sticking my neck out with this?”

The proverb flashed through my mind “Victory has many fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” Only in this case I am pretty sure that if this fails, defeat will be recognized as my child.

These misgivings did not stop me from telling the big boss that the project was basically risk free. In so far as his neck is concerned, that is the truth as best as I can see it.

Even if the project gets approved, the funds are not going to come out of the big boss’s budget. Officially speaking, the project is the brain child of a group of engineers whose job is to constantly monitor energy costs and come up with ways of cutting them. A special pool of money is set aside fund the projects that the engineers identify as having the proper payback.

Moreover, everything about this project can be easily and painlessly reversed if it does not work out. So in theory, the only ones whose neck is on the line are the engineers who recommended the project.

But if this was true, the engineer sitting beside me would not have been silent as I answered all the questions about the project.

He did not really have any other option but to be silent. He understands next to nothing about what I am trying to do. His only real contribution was to calculate the theoretical savings based on information that I provided. And he did the calculations multiple times in order to make the numbers come out the way that I needed them to come out.

For better or worse, this project is all about me.

Maybe They Should Have Cut A Hole In The Wall

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Today I found out what I missed by not being able to go to work on Thursday and Friday of last weak. If you will remember, I wanted to see the rigging that they were going to use because I was not sure how they were going to make it work.

The long and the short of it was that the compressor came free from the rigging and broke a pipe. This caused a flood.

I am not sure if this was the fault of the tech or the fault of the factory installed rigging hooks. To tell the truth, I am not a hundred percent sure what really went on. But I know that the pipe was broke. I also know that they cut other pipes to try to make room for the rigging. The pipes still were not all repaired by today.

The compressor was in place and hooked up. But the oil return line was kinked. And there was an oil leak.

In other news, I was reminded by how bad my visual memory is. This is one of the things that makes me such a bad tradesman. I only survive by being good at things that most tradesmen are horrible at.

But that is a story for another time.

Today, I should confess that my memory of what was going to make the rigging so challenging was not very good. For example, I said in my last post on the subject “Moreover, there is only 8″ to 10″ of clear space directly above the compressor.”

When I looked at that the chiller today, I saw that would have been a more accurate statement to make about the electrical panel that was directly in front of the compressor. The compressor itself had about 2 feet of head room. Maybe more.

I am relying on my visual memory again.

It was still a difficult rigging job though. I was told that in the end they had to make a ramp out of plywood.

Edit: Sorry for all the errors. I am really tired tonight.

They don’t make them like they use to

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Today I was thinking about how extraordinary my Grandpa was in many ways when compared to subsequent generations.

How many of the baby boom generation are likely to have 6 kids who all married had two kids and never divorced (at least up to the present time)?

How many of the baby boom generation are likely to have built a house, while living in the basement with a bunch of small children and holding down a full time job at the same time?

How many of the baby boom generation are likely to have taught themselves how to tune a piano and play multiple instruments with out any formal training?

How many of the baby boom generation will have gone through life as the sole breadwinner, only a high school education, and still leave behind significant savings, no debt, and modern and up to date house?

Judged by the standards of his own generation my Grandfather was not that extraordinary (Though I would still argue that he was a cut above average, particularly when it came to passing on his values to his children). But with each succeeding generation, some who managed all of the above feats would be increasingly extraordinary.

And this is not even taking into account all the other hardships that my Grandfather had to overcome. Losing parts of some of his fingers to a corn chopper when he was a boy did not make playing all the various instruments any easier. Growing up dirt poor with no family to help him out much did not make it any easier. Being born with a birth defect did not help with having a normal childhood.

But what really made his life difficult was watching his father commit suicide and then finishing his childhood years growing up in a single parent household during the Great Depression.

A Long Expected Death

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Today I was woken up while it was still dark and I was told that my Grandpa had died.

I was happy to have been woken up and happy to go. I wanted to be there on the off chance I could be of any help. But I did not really expect to get anything out of it for myself. Nor did I expect the experience to affect me much. I thought I had already made my peace with Grandpa dying.

In retrospect I am really glad I was part of the experience. The practical part of me because I know have a better idea of how such things need to be handled. Life being what it is, I expect that knowledge to come in handy.

The unpractical part of me is glad I went because I would much rather have the memory of sharing the burden with other people then staying away and trying not to think about it.

But it was really rough carrying him out to hearse.

A lot rougher then I thought it was going to be. I thought I was all emotionally prepared for everything.

Wasting Time And Anger

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Today I spent most of the day being irritable and angry. It started off with me getting up later then I wanted to. It continued with me getting side tracked more then I wanted to. And it just continued on in that vain.

The icing on the cake was when I tried to get pizza so my brother would not have to cook for everyone who was coming over to see our dying Grandpa (I actually volunteered to cook something myself, but after talking it over with my brother, we decided to get pizza. Better for everyone involved.) Anyway, I took a quick look at google maps. Found a pizza place 5 minutes from my grandmother’s house on the parkway being sold under a brand I knew. Called the number associated with the place on google maps and ordered the pizza.

Now a little voice in my head told me that I should have confirmed the location when I called. But the voice on the phone said “Brand Name Parkway Store.” So I deiced to ignore the little voice in my head because I really did not want to spend anymore time talking to the pizza guy then I had to. I also ignored the little voice in my head that said I should take the pizza place phone number with me in case I could not find the place. I also ignored the little voice in my head that told me that it was long past time that I entered my Grandmother’s phone number into my cell phone.

To make a long story short, the pizza place was not were google maps said it was. Or rather, the pizza place was only in one of the places that Google maps said it was. Turns out that google map has the same phone number associated with two different locations on the parkway. Only one of those places actually existed.

What was supposed to be a 5 minute run for pizza turned into an almost hour run for pizza. The Parkway is long and there are many lights. This made me angry the whole time because I was thinking about how everyone was waiting on me and here I was passing pizza stores left and right because I was too lazy to take the time to confirm the details.

Turns out I wasted a lot of anger. Nobody was ready to eat when I got back anyway.

Except me.

Dealing With Paranoia

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Today I think I came to a peace with my paranoia. Ever since my Grandpa stopped being responsive I have had this nagging concern that someone was going to try to get my brother in trouble over the way that he took care of him.

I have never had a particularly good reason to worry about this. Everyone knows that my brother’s care has been top notch. And anyone who knows anything about the disease knows that this is one of the standard ways in which it ends.

Still, in my professional life, I have had it pounded in to me how no good deed goes unpunished. I have grown used to expecting trouble for doing the right thing.

It does not help that I have read articles where people have been troubled by “professionals” who did not think that loved ones were qualified to take care of people with dementia. Such stories mostly came from that horrible nanny state known as Great Britain. But I have heard of one case from here in the US.

Further feeding my paranoia is the way my grandpa is dying. My grandpa is nothing but skin and bones for reasons that my brother has described in his website. That sure makes it look like he is being starved. Which he is, in a way, but not for lack of care.

The only thing that could be done differently is for a feeding tube to be stuck in him. But that is not something he would have ever wanted. Still, the paranoid part of my mind can only imagine how that would be interpreted by all the nasty people of the world.

But today, for some reason, the paranoia seemed to have passed. I don’t really know why.

I would say more, but I was told I have to stay under the word count. People are so mean.

Sometimes I Wish I Was A Real Boy

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Today I had my first real look at Face Book. My brother gave me a tour. It was something for him to do after having spent the last couple of hours alternately talking with us and trying to get water down my Grandpa’s throat with an eye dropper. For him, Face Book is a good thing. It gives him a link to the wider world and enables him to have some fun. Those are hard things to get when your life revolves around taking care of a dying old man.

But for me, I think that Face Book is a bad thing. It just serves to make me sad.

It’s a strange thing to say about Face Book, I guess. But I don’t know how else to explain expect to say that sometimes I am like Pinocchio. Sometimes wish that I could be a real boy.

The difference between me and Pinocchio is that he was willing to do anything to become a real boy. And even still, he needed the help of a fairy and talking cricket to help him become what he wanted to be.

But I have a different problem. I have no trouble turning myself into a real boy. I have always been able to make plenty of friends whenever I have wanted to. But to do so, I have to turn myself into something that I am not, and that does not sit well with me.

In short, I value too much the things that keep me from being a real boy to ever make the changes. But still, sometimes I look at all the little boys of the world and wish that I could have my cake and eat it too.

Watching Sorrow And Hope

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Yesterday I went to see my dying Grandfather. I was told he was going downhill fast and if I wanted to see him one last time I should come over right away. It has been a pretty steady trip downwards all summer. But he got a little cold and that seemed to cause him to give up all desire to go on living. (Today I saw an article on the subject of colds and Alzheimer’s that shows that my Grandfather’s experience is not all that unique.)

At first I was not even going to go at all. I felt like it would be a futile gesture as I was told he hardly even responsive to my brother, much less anyone else. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to worry about how my brother would take it. When someone close to you stops eating and drinking there is always the thought that you should be doing something. At the same time, you know it is ultimately futile to try to force liquids and food on someone whose mind is being destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease.

The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me that my brother was dealing with my Grandfather’s rapid decent all by himself (I should note that other people came to help today, it was just yesterday evening that he was by himself). I wanted to see how he was handling it, and I wanted to help him if I could.

I don’t know if I was really that much help. But I am not sorry that I went. Watching my brother take care of my Grandfather has always been something that moved me profoundly. But watching as my brother cares for him in his last few days was an experience on another level altogether. It was almost more then I could bare to watch.

But I would not have missed it for the world.

Searching for Truth in all the wrong places

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Yesterday night I was pondering how difficult it was to truly know oneself. At some level I think we all feel this difficulty. I think that is why personality tests have a such a broad appeal. There are a lot of people out there who want the inside scoop about their true nature.

But such tests don’t do much to satisfy my desire for self knowledge. When I take them, I am aware of my thoughts wrestling with what I would like to think I am verse what I suspect I really might be. My arrogance is such that I don’t trust the makers of such tests to be smarter then that part of my ego that desires to fool myself. So I always suspect that the end result is just another reflection of what I want to believe.

The one personality test that I did find fascinating was one that required that you answer a questionnaire about yourself and then ask a couple of people who knew you to fill out the questionnaire. When I can compare my answers with the answers that other people give, it is easier to convince myself that it is not all just the twisted projections of my warped mind.

But I can’t remember the name of that particular test so I can’t look for it again.

Wanting it both ways

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Today I found out that my upcoming vacation was going to be ruined. To think that I was already starting to worry that I would not get any of the things done that I wanted to do. And now this.

I can’t really blame anyone else for my plight. True, they scheduled the crane with a total disregard for anything that I might have planed. But strictly speaking my presence is not required. Though the gentleman responsible for removing the compressor seemed honestly disappointed that I would not be there.

This was flattering to my Ego. But if I was forced to confront the truth I might be so flattered. I strongly suspect that the man was thinking “Strong Back, No Brains. Just the fellow I need to help me move a 1500 pound compressor.”

But flattered or not, his disappointment is not what is going to ruin my vacation. Nor is the crane, for that matter. Although it is forcing the schedule. The real problem is that I don’t want to miss the world class rigging that is going to have to take place.

The compressor in question is sitting behind the condenser tube bundle on the chiller. There is no way for the compressor to go over the condenser tube bundle. Moreover, there is only 8″ to 10″ of clear space directly above the compressor. So the compressor is gong to have to be picked up by what rigging you can fit in 8″ of clearance and taken a few feet before it has to make a 90 degree turn to get around the chiller. In the process of getting around the chiller it has go over the chilled water pipes and the condenser water pipes.

If I was confronted with this problem, my solution would be simple. I would get out the demo saw and cut an opening in the back wall. I would frame this opening out and install double doors. Then the rigging would be child’s play with the added bonus that the next compressor replacement would be a lot easier.

Since this chiller has two compressors, the next compressor replacement is likely to be soon. Especially since the compressors share a refrigerant charge and the oil was turned to acid when the first compressor burnt out. When you factor in the fact that the compressor that did not burn out is going to be even harder to get out then the compressor that did fail, and it seems like there is an open and shut case for putting in a new door.

But in this economy, nobody wants to spend an extra couple of grand even on a project that is going to cost well north of 30 grand as it is. So they are going to have a genius rig the dang thing out. If it works, it is gong to be a work of art that I am not likely to see again soon. If it fails, it will be very entertaining.

How could I miss something like that? But I still don’t want to give up my vacation.