Archive for the ‘work’ Category

I am finally home from a very long week of driving. That’s practically all I’ve been doing for the last five days. I like that my job gets me around but I prefer to fly across the country rather than drive across Texas. Please don’t take this the wrong way; I have great, great love for this state. What I mean is that it is so huge that driving from one end of it to the other (East-West) without cruise control comes very close to ending all blood circulation to your ass and right leg and foot. That’s exactly what I did this week, and then some.

This wasn’t without reward though. I got a newer, bigger, better truck out if it. The main office of the company I work for is in Los Angeles. My Dad and I are the entire Houston branch. In the last two years the company bought two new company trucks. One was for me and the other for one of the guys in LA. I got a six cylinder Tundra which is fairly low to the ground and he got an eight cylinder Tundra which is very high off the ground. He’s not a very tall guy and complained daily about how hard it was to work out of it. In addition to that, he is known to take off from a traffic signal like a drag-racer and wears out brakes almost quarterly. Since I had the six-banger and he had the eight cylinder and that I don’t drive like he does and that gasoline is cheaper here in Houston than it is in LA it was decided that we would swap trucks.

And so we did this week. We met halfway between Los Angeles and Houston to make the swap. As I said before, Texas is enormous. Halfway to California is El Paso, Texas. That’s right at the state line and the border of Mexico. I had to stop in Austin for some other work first. After that I drove on to San Antonio so I could spend the night and catch I-10 in the morning. From San Antonio it took me nine hours to get to El Paso and that’s only because that right out of San Antonio the speed limit is 80 mph all the way to El Paso. Thank you TXDOT.

I have to say that this painfully long drive was a very scenic one. I drove through a combination of desert and mountain country. I had never been that far west in Texas. I was so impressed with the beauty of the landscape. I’ve lived most of my life on Padre Island and Houston and there is no such thing as a mountain in either of those places. Not even a hill. Although I’ve seen most of the U.S., seeing that part of my own state for the first time was sort of a thrill.

During my return drive back home I got a call from my Dad. He told me that one of our accounts needed a repair. It was in Corpus Christi which is three hours south of Houston. I wasn’t even halfway back to Houston when I got this call. Why does this shit only happen at times like this? Normally, I would have veered south at San Antonio. But no, since we were swapping trucks I had no tools or materials on the truck. I had no choice but to go all the way home to get one single little plastic fitting for the repair. I was basically just passing through town at this point. I managed to get a decent night’s sleep for the first time in four days before having to get back in the truck and drive another three hours for two minutes of work and then drive another three hours back.

I am so going to become one with my bed tonight.

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It’s nice to visit my hometown even if it’s only for about two or three hours. That’s what I did today. I had to drive from Houston to Corpus Christi and back. I had to deliver some work related stuff which was all I had time for (had to get back to pick up Gabby). If not for that I would have probably stayed the night so I could cruise my old haunts, see a couple of friends and maybe fish off the docks I used to work on (when we were docked).

It’s not that I can’t handle it but that’s a lot of butt time for one day. Not to mention leg and foot because someone didn’t bother ordering cruise control on this truck. Maybe it’s just because I’ve made this drive what seems like hundreds of times that I find it so boring. Or maybe it could be the fact that there is nothing to look at between Houston and Corpus other than brush, cows, horses and ranch or farm houses. I’ve said this before and I wasn’t kidding: The roadkill and highway searches by the state troopers are the only thing that breaks the monotony. I see a lot of highway searches where the occupants are sitting in the grass while the troopers are removing the entire contents of the vehicle including the backseats and who knows what else.

I don’t mean to sound like I dislike Houston because I really don’t. I like this city. I consider it my second hometown but I was born and raised at Padre Island and on Corpus Christi bay. It’s something I can’t get out of my blood which in my case is probably pure saltwater. You can take the boy off the beach . . .

The weather was so perfect there today. It was so, so beautiful. Driving over the harbor bridge and looking down at the museums, the Lex and the replicas of Columbus’ ships (on loan from Spain) is spectacular to me. Driving across the causeway over the bay reminds me how I spent my entire teenage years and early twenties either on or in that bay. Sometimes it’s hard to look at when I’m just passing through but I still like getting back home to my apartment here in Houston after a long day like this.

Posted: January 16, 2008 in Uncategorized, work

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I really don’t want to bore anyone with what it is I do for a living but in order for you to understand my dilema, I must. I will make it brief as possible.

I install water treatment systems on hotels, condos, apartment complexes or any other large buildings with a potable (domestic) water system. Our job is to control the scale and corrosion of the piping system. I also have to service the existing accounts on a monthly basis. One of the most important tasks I have on these monthly visits is to run a routine water test to measure the level of phosphate I have in the system. Too little will not do the job. Too much could do damage. I use a handy digital field test kit that tells me to the 1/100 of a part per million what the PO4 residual is. Other than physical evidence, this is the only method in the field we have of knowing how well we are protecting or in many cases extending the life of an aging plumbing system.

Well guess what? I left the kit in Dallas last week. Damn me. I put it on a table in the engineering shop as I went to double-check something. After that I walked right by that kit and drove four hours back to Houston. Idiot. I called them the next day and they said they had it locked in the chief engineers locker. I’ll get it back but now I have to use this clunky, twice as big piece of crap until I get the other one back.

How’s this for a Monday?

Posted: December 3, 2007 in work

Monday morning I will be driving to the Houston Hobby area. I will park my truck at “Park and Fly” and take the shuttle to the airport. After checking in my one bag I will make the journey to my gate and then be strip searched and herded into a smelly tube where I will sit for three hours or more. I will arrive in New York City at 4:25 PM. Assuming my luggage made the same trip, I will get my bag, then pick up a rental car and then drive through Brooklyn and Queens to get to my destination in New Jersey.

It sounds like I’m bitching, doesn’t it? I’m not. This is a perfect example of why I love my job so much. I may use the hotel’s computer to talk you guys this week. If not, I’ll see you when I get back.

Message from Headquarters

Posted: November 28, 2007 in work

I was pleased to see this in my inbox this afternoon. Usually, my boss just calls from LA to dryly and vaguely give me an idea about what I’m supposed to do once I’m dropped off in some state I’ve never been in before. Not this time. He sure the hell spelled it out for us this time. Thank you. It’s going to be a busy week.

Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2007 11:53:38 -0800 (PST)
From: “Bruce *****” Subject: new jersey / fl trip
To: “greg pierce”
Greg / Carlos,

Here is your itinerary for Parsippany, NJ and Jacksonville, Fl.

You both fly on Jet Blue to JFK airport, New York. Carlos departs Burbank at 7:00am and arrives JFK at 3:18pm. Greg departs Houston/Hobby at 11:55am and arrives JFK at 4:25pm. You both may use your company AMEX to purchase a movie on the flight. You both should buy a sandwich in the airport for the plane trip, as Jet Blue (and Southwest) does not provide meals. Greg, I will give Carlos your per diem for the trip.

I have reserved a car at Enterprise JFK, Conf# *****. I will give Carlos some coupons to use for a better discount.

I swear this is a real email. So we’re gonna use coupons at JFK? God help us.

You are going to Embassy Suites-Parsippany, 909 Parsippany Blvd., Parsippany, NJ 07054 (hotel phone # *****). You should have two rooms under your names. When you arrive, ask for Pedro, Chief Engineer (Pedro’s cell # is *****) or the assistant Engineer. You should locate the box Carlos sent to the hotel with the Y-strainer, etc. I suggest on Tuesday morning that you start with the Y-strainer (so it has 24 hrs to dry before you turn it on the next morning) and then the media replacement. I will give Carlos a digital camera to photo the distributors (top/bottom) so we can tell if they are plugged with debris. We also need pictures of the media to see if it was fouled by iron/debris. Take a large zip-lock bag of media and bring it back with you. Take the old media and place it in the new media sacks and leave on site. We will instruct Pedro to either throw it away or send it to nextScale.

I have asked Pedro if he has a Sawsall we can use and a wet-vac. I will let you know.

Pedro will show you some bad scale areas of the hotel…showerheads, faucet aerators, tub spots and it is important that you photograph these areas. Also photograph the inside of the commercial dishmachine. Pedro will open up the dishmachine booster heater so you can photograph the heating element. This is very important and you cannot forget to do this.

6. Guy and I will contact the Director of Housekeeping to tell them that they need to wipe off their faucet aerators, faucets, tub spouts and hit the showerheads with a brush every time housekeeping cleans the rooms. Carlos, I will give you a brush to take with you and you both need to show them how to clean their showerheads and also go over cleaning the faucet aerators, etc. Guy and I think that the crystals are building up on themselves and if these surfaces are wiped clean daily the crystals wont buildup.

7. You both leave on Wednesday on Jet Blue out of JFK at 1:45pm and arrive Jacksonville at 4:17pm.

8. When you arrive in Jacksonville, and before you go to the Embassy Suites-Jacksonville, you are going to look at a new job that we will potentially install next year. The hotel is called: Sea Turtle Inn, One Ocean Blvd., Atlantic Beach, FL. It is not too far from the airport. The engineer does not leave untill after 6:00-7:00pm and his name is *****, cell# *****. YOU NEED TO CALL HIM ON TUESDAY TO REMIND HIM THAT YOU WILL BE THERE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON to look at the main line, etc. They are completely remodeling the hotel and re-doing the main line etc. Photo the main line and shut-off valve area. Confirm that the pipe size is (4-inch) and see if there is room for 4 tanks (we will treat total water). Tell the engineer about the bypass we need, as it is a good time for them to put one in while they are under construction. I will give you a nextScale brochure to give him.

9. After you look at the Sea Turtle Inn, you are going to Embassy Suites-Baymeadows, 9300 Baymeadows Drive, Jacksonville, Fl.. Phone #*****. Engineer is *****, cell # *****. He should have two rooms reserved for you. On-site should be the boxes shipped from Crowne Plaza-Key West as well as the (4) tanks and the (2) tool chests Carlos sent recently.

10. I have 40 ft. of 4” sch 80 on will-call under ***** Company at BARNES INDUSTRIAL PLASTICS. You can pay for it with your AMEX card. Carlos has the contact info.

11. Take pictures of the before/ after install. Also, Guy and I will talk to the director of housekeeping, but you need to give them a brush and tell them how to clean the fixtures, showerheads, etc. in the rooms so the crystals wont buildup.

12. You both leave Jacksonville on Saturday on Southwest. You should print your boarding pass on Friday (24 hours before departure time) in the lobby of the hotel. Carlos leaves at 3:35 pm and arrives LAX at 9:00pm. Greg leaves at 5:35pm and arrives Houston Hobby at 7:05pm.

Weather in New Jersey is high 49, low 29. Jacksonville is high 70, low 53. Check the newspaper or your computer before you leave to get updated weather info.

Have a safe and fun trip.

Bruce

A comparison

Posted: November 21, 2007 in home, life, work

Herding cats. Juggling frantic kittens. Trying to nail Jello to a wall. This is what our last two weeks have been like.

I’m off to Dallas in the morning. I go there every three months. This time I have some extra stuff to do. Different stuff. The good part is that my Dad is following me up there. We both work for the same company. Our employers and company headquarters are in LA. There other branches (mostly in California) but the Houston branch is run by me and my Dad. Just us. Pretty cool, huh? I think it’s fun when we both make work trips together like this. In the fifteen years we’ve been doing this we have usually shared a room with two beds. Lately, I’ve been inisting on my own room because it takes him about three hours to get ready for bed. This time I think we’ll be stuck in the same room because the hotel is at 100%. No rooms. We don’t know where we’re staying yet. That’s okay though. When we share a room we have a good time after dinner sitting around in our underwear talking about funny shit or interesting things. It’s such guy time. I appreciate this now but think about it: Years from now I’m going to be so glad that we spent this kind of time together.

Gabby is an aquarium freak. For almost as long as I can remember she has had tanks full of fish which she tends to almost constantly. It’s one of her passions. As long as I don’t have to take care of them, which I don’t, I really love having them in here. I love the way they light up a room and I love the way they sound (one is right outside my bedroom door). Saturday, we brought home another one. It’s no little 20 gallon gurgler though. This monster is four feet long, 18 inches wide and 22 inches deep! It sits on a wooden cabinet with doors. I couldn’t afford anything like this. It was given to us by Gabby’s best friend’s uncle. This thing is so huge that I could get inside of it. Once the turtles move in and it gets further stocked this place is going to look like a chinese restaraunt. It’s heavy too. the glass is about 3/8″ thick. It was a bitch to get in and out of my truck and into my apartment. Next was the cabinet. When we braced to lift it I was thinking about the weight of the tank and nearly threw the cabinet clean over our heads. It looked heavier than it was. The guy we got it from said the aquarium was a 150 gallon tank. So, so wrong. I wish it was but it’s just not so. The measurements 48″ x 22″ x 18″ = 19,008 (cubic inches). 19,008 x .00433 = 82.3064 (gallons). If I did that right it’s considered an 80 gallon tank. If I’m wrong, I’m deleting this when I get back to Houston. See you then.