by rob brian
my thoughts as I am away from my family working a contract job
|There is coal dust on my jeans. When I walk to the Alstom trailer at WE Energies coal fired power plant, in Pleasant Prairie WI., at 1830 hrs to take the night shift, I think about my fat pink little babies. You see I am part of the solution to global warming. I represent truth justice and the American way. But I think about my exotic Filipina wife who is now complaining, much to my great amusement, about her recent heat rashes, in Davao Philippines, in Mindanao. And I think of my little babies who are having a great time trashing the serenity of Mama Precy, and Auntie Pauline and Uncle Malvin, and Cousin Paulo. To date George and ZK have destroyed Paulo's toy the "rock," and his globe of the world, and are working on taking the wheels off all his toy trucks and cars. George tells his Aunties when they try to kiss him, that he doesn't like them, and wants his mama. ZK is introducing herself to every startled stranger that comes within fifteen feet.
I think about these things instead of saving the planet from CO2. I am adrift in a virtual world, staring at a control room computer screen chasing vessel levels, flows, and pressures. I am part of a science experiment, a process of capturing CO2 from the effluent flu gas from power plants. My cows and farm rests in the capable hands of Papa. I envy him his simple world of cows and pasture and red mud after the recent rains. The plant here is not working as smooth as the farm. The design is working, but has its problems. The heat exchangers are wrong for this process, and the instrumentation needs to be re-applied. I will leave it at that because the process is still confidential, and I don't want to violate any potential trade secrets. But if this design is perfected, and is applied, after the fistfight, to all coal fired power plants in America, then I will have been part of that process, and hopefully have a lucrative position in the building of these kinds of plants. But I find myself drifting to the design of my straw bale house, and my tranquil lawn-chair down at the creek, listening to the turkeys roost. The virtual world of piping and vessels blurrs......I can hear the creek splash over the smooth red rocks as I drink a beer in my tattered lawn chair with the dappled light of sunset reaching across the creek to find me eyes closed, listening to the treasured silence. The cedars whisper that everything will be alright. A fat tom turkey calls the last of his wayward hens that it is time to find a big pecan and hide from the owls. Jane and the babies will come back from the Philippines with the money I invested over there. I will pay all my bills, and pay off what is left of my land payment, and buy another 160 acres, and live off calf sales..............I don't know, I'm afraid of planning for the future anymore. My world is upside down these days. I live in an apartment in Kenosha WI. and watch a flat screen tv when I wake up. I drive to work through good hard working neighborhoods who used to have jobs building cars for Chrysler. But their world is upside down too. The bars are full here, "Petes Place," and "O'Briens Pub," are doing a brisk business these days. There is worry written in the corner of the smiles of the wives working at the checkout counter of the "Pick and Save." I want to reach across the bread and the cheese and tell them it is going to be ok.
But what do I know. Every time I think I have it figured out, I get hammered. I thought I was going to be able to build my straw bale house and live off the interest of my investments. Then a global economy from New York drove in my driveway, and shut down my little party. So here I am. Typing on a laptop in a control room in Wisconsin. Working nights. Making lots of money. Dreaming of my babies and sweet wife. I will go home for a couple of weeks in May and see them. I will play with my babies in the yard and we will go walking down at the creek and get dirty and muddy and wet. I will tell them suddenly, "listen!," and they will stop talking for a moment and look at me with wide eyes, and we will hear the big tom turkey call his hens. And they will smile. And that will make it all worth while..........