Thursday, February 15, 2001

Bits and Bobs

No links today... but a few stories:

Yesterday, of course, was St. Valentine’s Day, and I made the long drive to work with thoughts of love & beauty in my head. Traffic slowed to a crawl by the Sacred heart church, but I don’t mind that: it welcome a little time to think. And as I rolled up to the light and looked down the side street to the church’s front entrance, I saw the hearse, and the pallbearers gathering around the gurney that would bear the casket in.

There’s a story in that, somewhere.

Last night, on a whim, I shaved off the beard I’ve had for most of the last eight years. It will take at least a week before I’ve got back my lips and my jaw: right now my head and neck are a single undefined lump atop my shoulders, a truncated pillar sporting glasses and a cake-hole but nothing that could properly be called a face.

My former boss dropped by work for a visit yesterday, fresh back from Amsterdam, and regaled us with tales of the Reeperbahn. A girl in the window to pull the punters, he said: it’s all true.

Every few nights, for the past month or so, the street outside our house has been alive with light and motion. The town directly to the west of us is putting a new power plant on-line. The equipment for the plant is so enormous that it cannot be transported long distances by truck, but must be shipped by rail; the nearest rail terminus of adequate size is in the town directly to the east of us. From there the generators and such are loaded onto special wide-bodied supertrucks, 16 feet wide and 130 feet long (5 meters by 40 meters, right?) with about 32 wheels, and transported the final seven miles to the power plant. This trip takes a shade under seven hours.

The path from the rail terminus to the power plant runs right past our house, up the hill and over the bridge. The bridge has to be reinforced every time one of these things comes by—struts are installed to help disperse the weight of these enormous generators, so the bridge doesn’t collapse. Three generators have come by, each weighing 360 tons—327 tonnes metric—three-quarters of a million pounds. Each. Plus the weight of the truck.

So every time one of these things comes by, the cops park right in front of our house at about 9:00 PM, and block off about three miles of road while a half-dozen flatbed trucks and forklifts come in to start laying down struts and planking over the bridge. The big boys roll through at about 2:00 AM, with rumbles and grinds like a goddam earthquake. Surreal.

Amazing stuff. It gets a bit wearing, though: three generators, some miscellaneous equipment, and a couple of aborted runs—where the cops would set up their roadblocks, but the higher-ups would decide against making the move because the weather looked dicey. And every time they do one of these, our front bedroom is filled with spotlights and red-blue strobes until the wee hours: we’re trying to catch some sleep, and the fucking Mothership is landing out there.

Last night, though, bathed in red lights, it occured to me: Light and noise in the street, just like the goddam Reeperbahn... and we were randy as mink.

There’s a story in that, too: but I’m too modest to tell it.

Tomorrow: Jack Fear Explains Everything, human degradation, and links, links, links.

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