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Letter from the Delta

By localroger in Culture
Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 11:03:29 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

After the metal fabricators did their thing and they bolted on all the moving parts, they shipped the machine to New Orleans so that I could do my part. And after a week of modest effort I gathered them all around, the boss and the techs and the secretaries, and we watched it hum and clack and tabulate the bits of wood I fed it to test its abilities. And all agreed it was good, so the machine was loaded onto the back of a prematurely aged 1-ton Dodge pickup truck, so that I could take it to the buyers who had asked us all to make it real.

That was when things started to go downhill.

The Dodge was fitted with a now-empty workbed, which had once been stocked with a vast and very heavy assortment of tools and spare parts; now the truck rode with two 1,000 pound blocks in back just to keep the rear springs compressed. With the conveyor robot perched atop the workbed, driving it was like wrestling a pig up the road. I played CD's through a Walkman and cassette adapter; it's two loaded party mixes from New Orleans to Jackson, MS and two more to Indianola.

Half-way through CD number 3 you drive through Yazoo City. Just before the tragically closed Shoney's, a billboard proclaims Yazoo the "Gateway to the Delta," a distinction comparable to being singled out as "Spiritual Advisor to the Manson Family." After a left turn from 49 onto 49-W, the truck coasts through Yazoo, down from the hills to the perfectly flat alluvial plain of the Delta. Past the Amtrak station the landscape loses all its verticality, and the pine forests give way to a monotonous, unending procession of cotton fields and catfish farms.

Most of the towns are bypassed now, so that you never see Inverness, Isola, or Midnight. Eventually you reach an intersection; you turn. Far in the distance, an improbable square object shimmers out of the flatness. This weird mirage is not the Ka'aba, but a catfish plant. The road turns to gravel and goes past it, but the power lines do not. Catfish prices are down to US$0.55, down from their $1.00+ norm, and production is down; by the time I arrive they've run out of fish and sent everyone home. I go on to the hotel.

Indianola has four hotels, two of which aren't quite dumps yet. Both are getting close. None of them have restaurants or bars. After checking in I wrestle the pig-truck down Hwy 82 looking for places to eat. The only good place in town, the Bayou City Grill, has a hand-lettered sign in the window: Sorry, Friends, we are closed. After that it's Pizza Hut, a questionable Mexican place, two even more questionable Chinese places, and the obligatory KFC, BK, and McD's. Further afield Greenville to the west and Greenwood to the east are a bit further than I want to wrestle the Dodge. I park back at the hotel and walk to the Burger King.

At the plant we repeat the ritual of putting the robot through its paces; we set it up in the maintenance department and various managerial bigshots come through to pass on it. Since it's experimental we decide to set it up temporarily in the plant and feed it real fish to see how it performs, before committing to a permanent installation. I ride with a coworker who is based in the Delta to a job in Greenwood, about an hour away. By the time we get back the robot is planted mutely in a corner of the plant, positioned to discharge its product back into the production line. Since it's not running, we go looking for the breaker that turns on the outlet it's plugged into, which is one of many anonymous cords hanging from the ceiling.

The breaker is on. The plant techs show up and test the wiring; they left the motor running and in their absence one leg of the three-phase supply dropped out, probably due to the hanging plug being corroded. This has burned out the motor. After a lot of recriminations our people agreed with their people that we would ship the beast back to the metal fabbers, to fit it with a better quality of motor which it should have had to start with anyway.

This has cancelled the main reason I agreed to spend a week in this godforsaken hole in the world, but because we've scheduled side jobs around the now-nonexistent main event, I'm stuck through the next weekend.

Throughout the rest of the week:

  • At a sales call some distance into Arkansas, I learn that the customer's need is "to get the weights into a computer." Why? "Because we've heard that's what you need to do nowadays."
  • The new PROM burner refuses to work with my Toshiba laptop, so we ship an older one we know is compatible on the bus from New Orleans. They ship it to Greenwood instead of Greenville, so I have to wrestle the truck 160 miles round trip to fetch it.
  • The Indianola cable franchise has no UPN affiliate, so I miss Enterprise and Wolf Lake. Again.
  • On Thursday I move to Greenville, and find that while the Ramada still has a bar, it doesn't have a restaurant because they can't find anyone to manage it competently. The two casinos are sorrier than most, and I already ate lunch at the one good restaurant with our area manager on the way back from Arkansas. Fast food again.
  • On the way out of Greenville, the Dodge's transmission goes out.
The failure of my truck's transmission almost 300 miles from home is cause for celebration, since it could have happened on the desolate stretch between Yazoo and Indianola where my Sprint PCS cellphone refuses to work either in digital or analog mode. After the nice Mississippi DOT guy pushes me off the road with his orange F350 (thank you, sir, wherever you are today), I call Jackson and after several more phone calls help is on the way. After a singularly unproductive day I find myself booked into a hotel in Jackson, with convenient access to several very nice restaurants, a movie theatre, shopping district complete with Barnes and Noble, and even a microfridge and coffee maker in my room. Ahhhh, civilization.

They have another truck for me. Once upon a time we put a workbed on a truck in New Orleans, and drove it a hundred thousand miles or so; then we bought the tech a new truck, and put the workbed on it. We put the 2000 model pickup bed from the new truck on the old 1994 body and created what is variously described as the crossbreed, Heinz 57, or hermaphrodite. This vehicle was sent to Monroe, then someplace else, and finally with 170,000 miles on its odometer it awaits me in the parking lot when I arrive at the Jackson office. Like the Dodge, the rear suspension is perfectly rigid without a few thousand pounds in the back. This is provided after the Dodge is towed in and the blocks are forklifted out of its bed into the back of my new chariot.

Friday, a job in Jackson: In addition to reconfiguring our software, our customer wonders if I know why his laptop insists on dialing up his ISP twice each time he boots up. His Win98 machine is loaded down with self- starting crap loaded from the Internet, including the infamous KaZaA malware. After I clean out his autostart registry settings ("You mean programs can start if they're not in Startup?") I ride out to the construction site, where we run the real system off a DC inverter while I test the changes. The generator is locked up, and since it's about to rain most of the workers are gone.

Then it's back to the Delta to rewire a plantwide data collection system at another catfish plant. My partner on this job insists that I'll be home Saturday night, but it doesn't happen. Rats haven't eaten the cables as he feared, but four units have bad circuit boards from corrosion. We do get back to Jackson in time for dinner.

At the restaurant in the hotel parking lot, I order a Jack Daniel's and Coke. "If you'd like," the bartender offers, "I can give you Knob Creek for the same price." Why? "We're discontinuing it, and management wants us to get rid of the bottle." Things are looking up. Ixnay the mixer, as this is fine aged sippin' whiskey of a caliber I rarely bother to order.

And finally, I make it home: Back to the girlfriend, the familiar bed, a washing machine that doesn't want quarters, and of course my DSL broadband internet connection.

Hotmail Account Size is Critical! Your mail is being rejected because your account is over its size limit. You must delete some mail from one of your folders in order to be able to receive mail again.
A megabyte of spam in only seven days. Well, it could be worse.

I could still be in the Delta.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


I would rather visit...
o Calcutta, India 10%
o The South Pole 12%
o A Major Volcanic Eruption 17%
o Indianola, MS 3%
o New Orleans on Ash Wednesday 5%
o The surface of the Moon 40%
o A catfish plant 4%
o The Chicken Ranch 4%

Votes: 85
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by localroger

Display: Sort:
Letter from the Delta | 64 comments (32 topical, 32 editorial, 0 hidden)
Person? (3.25 / 4) (#2)
by quartz on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 05:47:18 PM EST

I played CD's through a Walkman and cassette adapter


Half-way through CD number 3 you drive through Yazoo City


After checking in I wrestle the pig-truck down Hwy 82

Ugh. You're making me dizzy.

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
Not quite... (3.50 / 2) (#17)
by Vann on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 08:00:32 PM EST

It's like he's giving you directions. If you do that, you don't say, "I go west until 32 and then turn right." You'd say: "You go west..." etc.
Sex is tedious all year except on Arbor Day. -- Rusty
[ Parent ]
who gives directions (none / 0) (#29)
by humpasaur on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 02:11:55 AM EST

based on the length of CD tracks?

I voted -1 just because of that "you" crap.

*sigh* Must I explain FURTHER?
[ Parent ]

Directions based on Music (none / 0) (#44)
by zerth on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 01:19:06 PM EST

Well, besides the author of the article and the main character from the movie Hudson Hawk, I do.

Well, for bicycling directions anyway. Home to uni is my 4 favorite songs from the first Hackers soundtrack, turns usually happening at the end of Halcyon and during a funky bit of Voodoo People (I forget the real words, but it sounds like "rest and a razor room")

Coming back it is the first half of the Chant cd(the gregorian monks one) because it's uphill and my fellow students drive like complete assholes, so the music keeps me from acting out my constant fantasy of not dodging out of the way when they use the shoulder as a third lane(heaven help me if I was ever to bike home listening to something metal, I'd probably dive for somebody's windshield just for the insurance).

Rusty isn't God here, he's the pope; our God is pedantry. -- Subtillus
[ Parent ]
Writing style. (none / 0) (#42)
by harb on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 11:08:03 AM EST

See subject.

Maybe read a little Vonnegut. Or Palahniuk. Or Philip K. Dick. Or oh, whatever.

[ Parent ]

The buffalos return... (2.00 / 2) (#11)
by MeanGene on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 07:14:43 PM EST

... 'cos nothing else should be living in those shitholes.

This nice travelogue suits the quiet mood of rainy Sunday over here in the Northern NJ. Ma-an, am I glad to live in the civilized part of the world. All the jobs I let go in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma - screw them!

I like this story... (none / 0) (#18)
by sh4d0w on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 08:33:57 PM EST

...it's well written; besides, many people outside america is misinformed, and doesn't known that it also has places that have been left out of the system... unfortunately, is unlikely that some of them will be reading K5 any time soon :-)

# mv / /dev/null
I live there (5.00 / 2) (#25)
by MSBob on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 09:22:30 PM EST

Well, not in the town you describe but a place very similar in nature. I live in Saint John, New Brunswick (Canada) which has to be one of the most run down places on the planet. The once glamorous uptown area is now host to a rundown cinema a selection of tattoo places and a bunch of second hand shops such as the 'Billy's Used Junk' at Union Street. Oh, there also is that strip joint the focal point of the town's social life. There are two main sources of pollution in Saint John. The first is the Irving refinery on the east side. The second is the Irving paper mill in the west side (thanks Mr. Irving!). So there is no pollution free area (or a smell free area for that matter) within the city limits.

The Quispamsis and Rothesay area is the main bedroom community and the retreat for the well-to-do. Needless to say it's pretty tacky and quite expensive especially given the local salary levels. Irving being pretty much the only game in town as far as employment goes makes things pretty bleak after the dotcom meltdown and whatever little high-tech existed it's pretty much gone.

The trouble is Saint John has a lot of potential. The city has some of the nicest heritage buildings in North America albeit they are kept in a very bad shape. Tourism could be a major source of income for the city but the local authorities prefer the industrial status quo.

Why do I live here? Not sure. The economic meltdown made it quite challenging to find employment elswhere in Canada especially when you're a new immigrant. So I'll stick around to whether out the storm. And then who knows... Maybe move to Fredericton, a town just as small but extremely beautiful and well kept and only 100 miles away from Saint John.

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

You have a refinery AND a paper mill? (5.00 / 2) (#26)
by localroger on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 10:27:49 PM EST

Heck the towns in the Delta are lucky to have a single fish processing plant, and the most common job involves filleting fish. All day long. For minimum wage, give or take, as determined (in some of them) by an electronic whipmaster created by some guy I'm embarrassed to name.

You probably do have the Delta's weird mix of crushing poverty side-by-side with obscene, useless wealth; rich and poor alike shop at the Wal-Mart because there isn't any place else, but the former live in run-down trailers or rental shacks while the latter live in custom built mansions on the pretty bayou that runs through Indianola. There isn't much in between, because if you make any money at all (say, US$50,000 a year) you can afford one of those houses that would cost $500,000+ in a real city. But of course you have to have an income source that can cover even that relatively modest mortgage, and that won't be interrupted in economic down times.

After trying and being swatted down for a few generations most of the poor don't even try any more. It's the strangest thing to be thought of as the rich bigshot from town, eyed up by skanky women, hit upon for spare change by people who know damn well you have it to spare, just hours away from a place where I'm perceived as only marginally better (and not always better paid) than the average wrench-toting blue collar pipefitter.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

I'm Truly Sorry (5.00 / 1) (#43)
by gauntlet on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 11:54:38 AM EST

Living in Edmonton, I'm ashamed to say I have not been aware of how bad the economic situation is in some areas of Canada. NB deserves better than it has received, but I don't know that it will ever get it. Tourism is going to be a major part of the eastern-canadian economy in the future. NFL&L is already running advertisements for tourists, and I'm pretty sure PEI has no other income. Unless NB has off-shore drilling rights like NS, they should get on the tourism bandwagon.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

NB is kinda deprived (none / 0) (#49)
by MSBob on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 02:07:46 PM EST

Unfortunately NB is quite deprived. There is a lot of reliance on natural resources especially in the Saint John area. The local government is trying to desperately cling on to their status quo and will not take any risks with new investments. What makes the problem even worse is the exodus of the young generation and when the majority of the populace is near the retirement age all they want is status quo maintained. Hence the dire economic situation. The taxes are on the rise while public services are in decline.

New Brunswick is not all bad though. The Moncton area is even experiencing an economic boom of sorts with many new jobs being created but mainly in the call centre industry.

Fredericton is doing allright although a couple of bigger employers had a rash of layoffs late last year so things aren't too rosy there either.

What the maritimes do have going for it is a lot of natural beauty and I think we should be betting the future on that rather than trying to sell even more lumber which the US isn't going to buy anyways.
Having a big influential corp like Irving right in the Saint John area isn't helping matters either. By now they must be owning half of the city and then some and their interests are definitely not rooted in tourism and light industries. Don't want to sound narrow minded but the Irvings have to take a lot of blame for the sorry state of affairs in the Saint John area.

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
Oh please. (none / 0) (#50)
by ghjm on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 06:44:07 PM EST

Saint John is not that bad. There are several quite nice restaurants and the new movie theater in Quispamsis is perfectly acceptable. You've got two major employers - Irving and NBTel/Aliant, plus a few actual dot-coms like iMagicTV. Then you've got a moderately large regional hospital, and a small to mid-sized university. UNBSJ is actually quite a nice little campus. Yes, the traditional downtown is a bit run down, but there are other centers that are quite acceptable.

You just can't put Saint John in the same category as a Mississippi Delta fish plant town. Saint John has two Pizza Huts and Burger Kings, and four McDonalds and KFCs. Yazoo City (according to the article) had *one* Shoney's, and it closed.


[ Parent ]

Listen to yourself (none / 0) (#54)
by MSBob on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 10:03:17 PM EST

Man, read out loud what you just wrote: "two Pizza Huts, two Burger Kings". If that is your definition of a booming town then your standards are certainly not elevated too high. Look at Fredericton. With half the population of SJ they have more upscale restaurants, a nicer shopping mall and a reasonably sized Chapters bookstore all thanks to much higher average income in that area.

Nobody wants to live in Saint John. Whoever has some meaningful money here runs away to Rothesay/Quispam and the run down of the city continues. Even indigeneous Saint Johnners themselves tell me they would never live within the actual city limits. They will rather move out to Hampton than live in the east part of the city for example.

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
Shoulda been a diary?? Nah!! (4.33 / 3) (#28)
by fossilcode on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 12:48:59 AM EST

A lot of folks here will whine that because this is a personal narrative, that it belongs in the diary section. I couldn't disagree more. This piece is personal, sure, but what it really conveys is a sense of time, place, and frustration that comes with some of the best "on the road" style columns I've read over the years.

This is the America that those of us who live and work here see, not the America of spoiled students who haven't yet had enough experience to make balanced observations about the world, not the America that you see on the TV news, not the America that you see as a result of US foreign policy, nor the America as depicted in the foreign press.

Life really is about bad motels with poor food, and places so far in the middle of nowhere that you can't understand why anybody lives there (let alone why you're there), and stuff that doesn't work, and morons, and the sweet ecstasy of fine whiskey, and the ultimate return home after a long road trip.

Good on ya, localroger! And welcome back.

"...half the world blows and half the world sucks." Uh, which half were you again?
The Spaces Between (none / 0) (#31)
by xs euriah on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 04:10:00 AM EST

Red Lick is another nowhere town you may have passed. I tend to be partial to Star, Mississippi myself.

Far from the Delta, the piece fails to offer any sort of insight into such a lonely flurry of a drive. One exception is the hand- lettered sign in the window, 'Sorry, Friends, we are closed.'

Further, instead of affecting the landscape, people, hidden institutions, the reader is lost in an American Truck(s) verbage with little direction.

You've driven a hazerdous truck, and have returned to your girlfriend and your Hotmail. Is there reason to present this Letter from the Delta if it's merely a sign out sheet for your job?

By the time your next party mix is getting the party started, I'll still wonder if the hand-written sign, there in the window, has changed.

This brings back memories (none / 0) (#33)
by wiredog on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 08:17:37 AM EST

Of my last job. Doing industrial automation. Automated hoist lines. A truck bumper plating machine in Duncan Oklahoma, a town which also has very questionable Chinese and not much else. Except bad power. 480VAC that is actually 420, or maybe 520. And occaisonally drops a phase. Especially if there's a thunderstorm. Which is frequent. Installing that thing, in a plating shop in Oklahoma in August during a heat wave. Hanging 20' over a tank of H2SO4 with a multimeter tryng to figure out just why the motor controller keeps throwing errors (position sensor misaligned at the factory). Discovering that somebody has accidently connected a 120VAC line to the RS-485 lines. Replacing all my clothes, and my shoes, because the chemicals have eaten holes in them.

I like my nice indoor job in an anonymous building in an anonymous office park right under the landing path for Dulles Airport.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"

Oh man (none / 0) (#35)
by garbanzo on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 08:59:42 AM EST

This was great, perfect for Monday morning. I don't have to travel anymore and I never had a helltrip to match yours, but you capture the atmosphere of the experience to perfection. The interloper passing through smalltown USA. For me, the towns were Plymouth, NC and Hodge, LA and Valliant, OK. Oh, and Albany GA. And Eden NC. Only one time did duty take me somewheres "nice" like Savannah GA.

sure, it's all fun and games--until someone puts an eye out

Ah, the Delta (none / 0) (#36)
by minusp on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 09:12:58 AM EST

Hey, localroger -

Didn't know anybody else here knew the place even existed... just got back from a tour. NY through VA to Memphis, then down to (near) Gunnison for a few days to visit with friends, with a side trip to Belzoni (yup, the other catfish place) then to Cleveland (Delta State), Clarksdale (The Delta Blues Museum), Oxford (Old Miss), Taylor (more friends) and Tupelo(no reason) then through Birmingham to Atlanta (more friends), St. George SC for the World Grits Festival, then up through NC, VA, and PA to home.

Of course I wasn't dragging around heavy equipment in a "half daid" pickup, so I tend to view the Delta a bit more kindly. Heck, I view the Delta a lot more kindly than I did ten years ago, at least some of the casino money is floating around the economy, now.

My own personal Hell Trip involved being sent out to help debug one of our whole body imaging magnets in Champaign-and/or-Urbana IL. Three weeks "on call" in a motel with the high point being a Hardee's a mile down the road. I'll take Mississippi any day...

BTW, to get cell service, go up on the levee, it might just work.....

Remember, regime change begins at home.
Reminds me of when (none / 0) (#40)
by greyrat on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 10:56:01 AM EST

I worked for Armco Steel. Nothing like watching Buffalo Bayou burn in the evening twilight of a mostly deserted steel mill. Man! Those were the days! It's hard to believe things actually suck more now...
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

Great story (none / 0) (#41)
by cem on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 10:58:37 AM EST

I enjoyed reading it very much. Very real ... ;)

Young Tarzan: I'll be the best ape ever!
did you ever once think that maybe its your fault (none / 0) (#45)
by turmeric on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 01:32:49 PM EST

all those 'civilized' cities that serve
catfish. where you think it comes from?

all that beautiful steel and wood and whatever
in the barnes and noble, who do you think
chops down that wood? who do you think
mills it and pulps it into paper?

and whose jobs do you think you are taking
away when you come down
from your big city on high and 'fix the
rubber bands' for the people in these places?

in other words, 'civilized' places like to
shit on 'crappy' places, but they seem to have
no problem living a decadent lifestyle
that makes those crappy places exist in the first place.

on the other hand, those 'crappy places' are often
full of bigots and ignorance and stupidity,
and are run by antidemocractic shit heads,
which causes all the smart people to get
fed up and move away to the big cities.

so maybe it isnt your fault.

or ....

That's right (none / 0) (#51)
by Kingmaker on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 07:25:55 PM EST

on the other hand, those 'crappy places' are often full of bigots and ignorance and stupidity, and are run by antidemocractic shit heads, which causes all the smart people to get fed up and move away to the big cities.

I've lived in a small town - they're hell on earth. People dumb enough to live in small towns deserve being 'shit upon' as you call it - they're all idiots.

Have you ever lived in a small town?

[ Parent ]
Does 5300 count? (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by tzanger on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 10:25:15 PM EST

People dumb enough to live in small towns deserve being 'shit upon' as you call it - they're all idiots.

I happen to prefer the small towns (I'm hoping to move outside of a town of 1100) to the big city life. Your money goes further, you have land you can enjoy, the crime rate is much lower and you don't have to put up with arrogant pricks like yourself.

On behalf of all small-towners: blow me.

[ Parent ]
Reminds me of a bumper sticker... (none / 0) (#62)
by JonesBoy on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 12:06:51 PM EST

If you don't like loggers, try wiping with saran wrap
Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
Wow... (none / 0) (#52)
by lucid on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 07:35:55 PM EST

Reading things like this reminds me of my vacation last year. My sister and I went to visit my aunt who lives in some tiny town on the Ohio side of the river, across from Wheeling, West Virginia. I was born and raised in northwest Ohio, where everything is flat, and mostly made of cornfields. There are hills down there! I have to laugh. It is one thing to hear about mountains and shiat in geography class in the 7th grade, and it's another to drive up one in your own car, reminding yourself that there is only a guardrail to keep your car from slipping off the road and falling several hundred feet to the ground.

My aunt thinks its funny to see some of the most beautiful landscape in the country dotted by unstable shacks whose porches are buried in junk. They usually have at least four "Beware of Dog" signs out front.

We took drives through desolate wooded areas full of hills and more hills. It was unnerving to be unable to see the sky without looking straight up.

I don't know how people can live there. It's a feeling like claustrophobia. You're surrounded by trees and rocks. You become accustomed to seeing signs saying "Mountain". Its so different from where I grew up.

On a side note, that same trip saw me visiting four or five different states in one weekend. Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, and I count Southern Ohio because it is different down there. I visited Andrews AFB where my cousin is stationed (Air Force) and saw Washington DC again. It still looked like a dump. Sorta. I mistrust my criteria for evaluation. Then we saw Antietam National Battlefield, which was the coolest thing I've seen in a long, long time. I'm only 23, so perhaps not that long. I saw the Hare Krishna place too, golden onion-type domes rising above the evergreen forest of West Virginia. That was wierd.

Stories like this one serve to remind me that I haven't seen jack shit. Thank you, localroger.

Beautiful WV (none / 0) (#58)
by rusty on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 02:23:48 AM EST

I personally love West Virginia. It's one of the most incongruously pretty states in the country. And the mountains do kick ass. Ever since driving around in WV, my wife and I laugh at the hubris of the other states that post warning signs on curves that are less then 180o. We both remember the one mountain curve that we nearly had to stop to get around. The advisory speed limit read: 5. They were not kidding. We took it slower than that.

On the other hand, I sure wouldn't want to live there. Not because of the geography, but the general poverty and misery. West VA was formed out of all the parts of Virginia that were hardest to get around in. It practically guaranteed itself a tough economic row to hoe upon it's founding.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

West Virginia (none / 0) (#60)
by wiredog on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 08:52:33 AM EST

Great trick question on a history test: "Were there any successful secessions during the Civil War and, if so, what were they?" The answer: "Yes. West Virginia seceded from Virginia."

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
i noticed (none / 0) (#61)
by lucid on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 09:30:54 AM EST

I still remember some "towns" I saw. It was just a group of buildings, some were houses, some may not have been. They were all a little run-down.

And in Wheeling, after the bridge across the Ohio River, there's what I guess would be a mountain or a really big hill. On top of it, if you look one way, you can see the river and bridge and beyond, a really nice view. The other side is absolutely gorgeous. The entire town lies below it, kinda nestled in between the mountains, with trees all over the place. What's on top of this mountain/hill with the fabulous view? Shacks weaker than the second little pig's. The things are practically falling apart and were no more than six feet apart (that's about 1.83 meters for the differently-systemed). No driveways, no yards, although many seemed to have found room for the requisite car up on blocks.

[ Parent ]

The motor (none / 0) (#55)
by tzanger on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 10:16:31 PM EST

The breaker is on. The plant techs show up and test the wiring; they left the motor running and in their absence one leg of the three-phase supply dropped out, probably due to the hanging plug being corroded. This has burned out the motor. After a lot of recriminations our people agreed with their people that we would ship the beast back to the metal fabbers, to fit it with a better quality of motor which it should have had to start with anyway.

How big was this motor? Where's your motor protection?

Left the Motor Condom at home (none / 0) (#57)
by localroger on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 10:30:05 PM EST

How big was this motor? Where's your motor protection?

It was a 1/3 HP 220VAC 3-phase 1750 RPM basic motor, attached to a 15:1 reduction drive for which we didn't have another matching motor. As for the protection, well, you don't really anticipate needing a dropped-phase interlock during the first few hours of the machine's life when you're just testing it. But then, you don't expect the <comment>dumb bonehead stupid fucks</comment> to just walk off and leave it like that either.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

So this was a prototype unit? (none / 0) (#63)
by tzanger on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 09:41:41 PM EST

If so, I revoke my (possibly haughtily-asked) question. I would have left protection out of a prototype myself.

[ Parent ]
Yep. (none / 0) (#64)
by localroger on Wed May 01, 2002 at 07:35:54 PM EST

That's why I had to take it up to the customer personally; we didn't know if the software would work correctly with real product. All kinds of time constants and other assumptions have to be tested in vitro, as it were, before you can stick a fork in it. Since the machine is a small part of a large process, there's really no alternative to working the bugs out in person.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Letter from the Delta | 64 comments (32 topical, 32 editorial, 0 hidden)
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