We are in Edmonton most of the time in June. Paul is working in instrumentation at a refinery being built northeast of the city. Juanita is mostly here too, but goes back to Meadow Lake occasionally. The work schedule has morphed from five, ten-hour days a week with chance of overtime on every second weekend. It has become twelve days of work with two days off. There are two crews. They work every other weekday and alternate weekends off. Basically, you get every second weekend off with a bit of a shuffle on holiday weekends so nobody misses three weekends of overtime in a row. It is nice having a schedule for the summer so one can plan ahead. We both went home for one, two-day weekend, but probably will not do that very often. Getting back from work on the bus at six and jumping in the car and driving four and a half hours on Friday night and coming back four and a half hours on Sunday afternoon makes for a short weekend. Probably will only go home on long weekends for the duration.
With economic conditions as they are this will probably be the last project for the foreseeable future where we will see double time pay for work on the weekends. In addition, it may be the last construction project of size in Alberta for years to come. Sure glad I am at the end of my career not the beginning. I feel bad for the people just starting out.
I won’t write about the actual work much. We sign something when we are hired about not dissing TPTB on social media. I could argue that my site is pretty much anti-social media with me not enabling comments from readers (If you want to express your opinion, get your own domain), but that is nit splitting or hair picking or something.
In a perhaps misplaced sense of professionalism I generally don’t write about employers with the following as one exception: Somewhere in my journey I ended up with a binder of internal memos from the Technical Department of the papermill in Powell River. They were reproduced on spirit duplicator sheets in the sixties and seventies and dealt with quality issues and testing procedures in the mill. In the past year I encountered that binder in our sea can and spent a happy few hours reading through them before contributing the paper to the burnable pile near the woodstove and saving the binder for use (they don’t make binders like that anymore at a price you would pay). You would be bored. But I was fascinated. Here were memos from and to men that were demigods in the papermill power structure when I was a youthful pulp and paper testing technician. Viewing the issues and their decisions to resolve the issues through the lens of my later experience as a manager I could see the process they used and the balance between competing elements they achieved. Well done! I wish them a happy eternity.
Back to the present. Work policies are generally for the worst of the bunch and your best employees will judge you by how you treat the worst employees so there would be lots to build on the lunchroom table conversations. But you’ve worked places and have heard it all. People is people. Nothing new there, but I am learning some new stuff. Some that amazes me I didn’t know, such as how they weld flanges on spool pieces and know the bolt holes will line up with the next flange when the spool pieces get bolted together in the field. So simple. So elegant. So surprising that I have worked in industry since 1965 and only just learned this. I torqued my first thermowell onto a flange on a pipe and then went on to do more of them, learning to do the pipefitter “two-step” after the star torque pattern I have known for years, using it every day of towing our fifth wheel trailer. I am relearning my tube bending skills.
Back in the day of to-do lists on a spreadsheet I programmed the top line with a cookie program that filled in a random quotation from a small library of quotes I had built. One of my favorites was “Make ten mistakes a day. But make them new ones.” I seem to be living that in principle if not in quantity. Most days it is only up to two or three mistakes. But they are (mostly) new ones.
Night at the Zoo
One Friday night there was a night at the Valley Zoo for patients of the Children’s Hospital. We joined Rebekah and the kids for a few hours before I faded and had to go back home to bed to be rested for work the next morning.
Sonja's Grad Party
Sonja is the first of our grandchildren to graduate from high school. Not surprising that she is first since she is oldest, but I digress. Juanita travelled back to Meadow Lake for the party at Debbie and Ernie’s house.
Juanita booked herself and Sasha into a class on building a terrarium in Sherwood Park. She went to Meadow Lake and picked up Sasha and Sasha spent the weekend in Edmonton. It was my weekend off so we got to do a few things together and I had a relaxing time while they were at the class.