Phoenix Weekend

You know, I should go to Lowe’s to scout up a replacement porcelain toilet with a 10″ rough – cheaper than rebuilding the existing one. I should wash the car. I should probably go to the store to stock up on foodstuffs – and Pepsi. But I don’t think I’ll do any of those things today.

I haven’t been here in three weeks, and the toll on the household (and on me) shows.

Speaking of Pepsi, I had a 12-pack sitting warm in the utility room off the kitchen. Did you know that a 12-ounce aluminum Pepsi can will bulge out and pop its own pop-top if it gets too warm? With the A/C off for three weeks, the 12-pack blew its top. What a mess!

The pool was green. I called the pool guy. He admitted it got away from him (without actually saying that). Monsoons blew debris into the pool until the filters clogged. It usually takes several days of water stagnating before it turns green, maybe a week. He caught it just in time. Backflushing, filter cleaning and a big dose of chlorine tabs and pool shock started the turnaround. The pool looks much better this morning.

Work had been rough. We’re spread too thin. On return from vacation, my new software assignment took me to an area of the System I hadn’t visited in years. The learning curve was steep. As my boss says so often and accurately, “simplicity comes at the end, not the beginning”. It seems easy now. But the System is so big, no one person understands it all. The Code Base is sometimes its own documentation (sadly). The code base does what the code base wants to do. It’s up to folks in my line of work to measure and document behavior, devise and test fixes, and, so to speak, to rebuild neighborhoods when the System damages the fragile code base ecology.

On a much grander scale, mankind is still struggling to try to understand hurricanes, thermalclines, heat waves, storm surges and drought. We study the weather from space, from aircraft probes, weather balloons and ocean sounding devices. Each technique requires hundreds of “subject matter experts” – people who know their own niche of knowledge really, really well. Heaven help us when our SME’s are spread too thin.

Here in Phoenix, it’s easier to put it all in perpective. Look at the sky: solid high clouds. It’s monsoon season. Temps in the low 90’s, cool breeze – let’s hope for another gulley-washer. I feel recharged already, and somehow Monday Morning doesn’t sound intimidating at all.

I swept the pool deck area this morning to keep tree litter from blowing into the pool. Uh-oh, unfamiliar old feeling in the finger webbing of left hand, between thumb and forefinger: a good old-fashioned blister. My hands are so soft from desk work I guess I ought to wear work gloves … to sweep a concrete deck with a common household broom. “Namby-pamby”, I think to myself. Not like the good old days when I was carrying 40-foot ladders all over the place, and my hands were tough as leather …

But wait a minute, I think: I went back to desk jobs twenty years ago. Part of the incentive was to get away from hefting heavy equipment. Part of it was a monetary incentive. Most of it was the challenge: I like what I’m doing now.

So today I think I’ll just recharge my batteries. Getting blisters and cleaning pools is part of what I do to clear out all the old workweek baggage, that’s all. As always, it’s nice to be here!

When I get home to the cool Bay Area I’ll finish that review of the Wallace Stegner book, All The Little Living Things. It wasn’t what I expected when I wrote the first part of my review. It was pretty sad, as a matter of fact. But it was a story worth telling in the inimitable Stegner style.

This morning I heard our pal outside, the “PopSlider bird”, the European Starling. His call is different in the early spring from any other time of the year, but he’s a permanent resident around here, no doubt about it. I can hardly wait until I, too, am a permanent resident around here, but we’ll have to wait for that. And it’ll be worth waiting for. Keep cool!

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