Friday, October 15, 2004

The continuing saga of DECO's transformer

DECO attempted to install a pair of "baby" transformers to replace the replacement of the one that blew up back in August. They were incompatible, or something, and the whole "do-we-or-don't-we" installation debate provoked some great fights on the other side of the house.

Then they got another little transformer that would be compatible, only it's not. Or something.

Then yesterday, someone sent three DECO operators here to my home station because they were going to shut down house service and fix all the cascading problems that transformer caused. Now, this would have been a bloody inconvenience to me, shutting down power to my office on the very day I process payroll, but it didn't matter 'cause it didn't happen.

Mind, the operators found out it was a no-go after they'd all been pulled off other jobs and assembled here, and after I'd grabbed two of our own operators to assist in the matter. It's actually going to happen today.

Or maybe not. It's raining.

It was great to see the Three Amigos (Chirpy, Lou, and Kramer) in one place, though. They're always fun, even if Chirpy was in a kind of a bad mood about the whole mess. Lou told me'n'Gordon about the fun DECO is having at another station. A sixty-year-old regulator needs to be replaced, and the replacement parts they found are even more ancient-- more like eighty years.

It's cool working on a system with such history. I feel bad every time an old Westinghouse gets scrapped. Gordon says that DECO maintained things so well for so long that the antique equipment functioned great for decades, but that after Maintenance's budget was cut, things have kind of gone to hell (and didn't ITC find that out when they picked up the transmission system!). Now DECO (and ITC to a lesser extent) are having the old stuff fail on them, replacement parts are hard to find and may be older than the pieces what dun gone bad, and the other option is installing new stuff entirely.

ITC likes that latter option. They change out breakers and reactors, and just scrap the old stuff instead of using it for spare parts in case the ones that haven't been changed out yet go bad. This is perhaps not the best approach... they scrapped three reactors at Rouge earlier this year, and now one of the matching reactors at Rouge's sister plant is making funny noises. It'd be nice if they could fix the problem using the discarded bits from Rouge, but those are kind of gone (ok, completely gone).

Gordon's assessment of the squeaky reactors: "Too bad. It's broke."

Friday, October 08, 2004

The Devil's Music

Back when I posted on Usenet, I did a list of my least favourite songs of all time. 'Classics' by Neil "Self-Plagiarist" Sedaka and Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs were high on the list, timeless pieces of crap that they are, but I don't recall the whole of the rankings now.

I ain't diggin it up, though. Too many memories in that Usenet archive...

Anyway, the list would be sadly out of date, because so many terrible, terrible songs have come out in the last few years that re-evaluation of my list is in order.

Two tunes that I feel sure I will look back on with loathing five years from now bear analysis.

"Who I Am," by Jessica Andrews

This one emits fumes from the get-go: "If I... never live to see the seven wonders." Hate to break it to ya, chickie, but you could live to be a thousand, never mind a hundred, and not see six of 'em. They're kinda gone and all. Points off for an example of stuff she can live without that's useless at best, 'cause NO ONE will be able to see that no matter how many Grammys they win.

Which brings us to another reason this song is terrible-- it's all about her, little Jessica Andrews and her singing career. She may never win a Grammy, but that's okay 'cause her momma's her fan, and her friends love her. All well and good, but the listener is never given any reason to love this self-satisfied, self-absorbed little girlie. She may know who she is, but at the end of the song I don't especially and I've no reason to care. Jessica is right-on when she calls herself "clueless and clumsy," though, as the lyrics to the bridge attest: "I'm a saint and I'm a sinner, I'm a loser; I'm a winner."

Go away, Jessica; Alanis Morrisette does the "find meaning in cliche dichotomy" thing better than you ever, ever will.

I hope Jessica is a one-off source of badness. If she's not an American (or Canadian) Idol reject, she sure sounds like one, and I don't think that'll have much lasting appeal.

The other song on my (s)hit parade is from a more prolific source of irritation. Train are a major purveyor of under-thought and overplayed sludge, the dregs of what used to be "alternative rock." They've replaced the now-defunct Creed as my least favorite pretends-to-be-rock band, and the tune currently infesting the airwaves is a good example of why I loathe them.

"Calling All Angels" isn't so much a song as an attempt at one; it's barely more than one verse, a bridge, and a fragmented, repetitive refrain. Most of it is padding; "I won't give up if you won't give up" alternates ad infinitum with the short-on-meaning title phrase. It would be just banal, but Train are so lacking in versatility that it sounds very, very, much like their previous songs, IOW not very good. And, given that it's the third or fourth time this particular brand of aural backwash has hit the airwaves, that makes it Very Annoying.

Still, it's the lyrics to the bridge that sends this one careening into pure "whafu..." territory and sends my bile rising every time I hear it.

When children have to play inside so they don’t disappear

Trite and manipulative. When a hack songwriter is out of ideas and wants to jerk you around, he asks you to think of the children.

While private eyes solve marriage lies cause we dont talk for years

TMI, dude. If this is a comment on your own marriage, it sounds like your own damn fault. If it's a generalization about American life, as the previous lyric seems to be, it's a dumb one.

And football teams are kissing queens and losing sight of having dreams


Ok-aaaaaay. I thought football players were supposed to dream about snogging the prom queen. That's not a good thing anymore? Or... wait. Is Train's lyricist saying that America's football teams are facing a threat from crossdressing homosexuals? Drag queens are destroying America's youth through kisses?

I... Don't...Get...This

In a world where all we want is only what we want until it’s ours

Eh. Unoriginal. And Courtney Love did a better and more personalized take on this particular sentiment on "Violet."

Train are friggin' irritating overall, but "Calling All Angels" takes the caca cake. It's more than dire, it's a force of evil potent enough to give me the urge to sacrifice baby mice and rabbits to make it Go Away.