Roman Sturgis Take care of each other and make good decisions.

August 30, 2009

One year, New Employment, HVAC classes

Filed under: Blog — Roman @ 4:42 pm

Since last post, I started working again at Litchfield Books, I took a week of classes at Horry Georgetown Tech for HVAC, and Laura and I celebrated our one year anniversary.

Last night La and I went to Blue Elephant, pretty much the only Thai place in our area and had a nice meal. Pre-Thailand, we thought that Blue Elephant rivaled other favorites like Nood Pub in Boston. After our stay in Chiang Mai we are all too aware of the differences in ingredients. It was definitely good, but certainly missing that familiar flavor.

Turns out, the chef/owner of Blue Elephant is from Chiang Mai, and after our meal he came out to talk to us. We were embarrassed to have forgotten so much of our Thai, but of course his English was perfect. Our meal was a very nice way to celebrate and we spent a lot of time remembering our crazy adventures in Asia and feeling homesick for our beloved Chiang Mai.

HVAC classes are a far cry from writing workshops. First of all, there is much more class time. I go to school five days a week and have the same two teachers M/W/F and T/TR respectively from 8am until 12:30 or 2:30, depending on the day. I’ve met a few of my classmates, who range from kids out of high school to graying bikers in search of a new vocation. I sense that I am the eldest of the youngest. Many of my classmates carry their cellphones on their belts along with mini mag lights and great wads of keys. I am the only student with out either tatoos or a pony tail, and I am the only non-smoker, as far as I can tell. My accent is also noticeably different. I wonder if my differences will be an advantage or a handicap when it comes time to seek employment in the HVAC world.

Monday will be our first lab, which I am excited for. In addition to textbooks ($300) and a calculator, we have been instructed to begin assembling our toolkits. I have had the basics for a while, but some of the specialty tools, especially meters, will require some research. Our instructors have been helpful with directions. There are some shops that are friends of the program and offer good discounts, and these have been made available to us.

Previously, I never studied any advanced math, science, or physics. I enjoyed biology in high school enough to take the hard-core freshman bio course at Texas A&M in Galveston—the first of several courses that filtered out the kids who wanted to swim with Shamu from those that really had it in them to be marine biologists. And at Emerson I studied with Dr. Al Hankin in his Ecology and Marine Biology courses. Both those courses had huge impacts on my ideas about sustainability and eating and humankinds impact on the Earth. An interest in HVAC was an outgrowth of that learning—did you know that HVAC and refrigeration account for 70% of a common household’s energy usage? As basic electricity is being explained to me for the first time, it is blowing my mind.

None of theory which we’ve been talking about has actually been seen by a human with a microscope, because we don’t have microscopes powerful enough to see at the atomic level, and even if we did, they would likely use a light source to illuminate the picture, but since light is energy, it would change the state of the object being seen. So we take it on faith when mathematicians and other scientists tell us that electric flow is the trading places of outlying electrons orbiting proton/neutron nucleuses—or if you remember your solar system pictures, a “star.” In a copper wire, electricity is transferred down the line from a spinning magnet which creates a chain reaction of trading places. An outlying electron in the outermost orbit of the copper atom smashes against another outlying copper electron and they switch orbits. Forgive me if I seem a little excited about this. We can base our entire civilization on this, even though no one has ever seen this happen at the atomic level. We know it’s true because we can turn on the lights, etc. but it still boggles the mind. Much easier to imagine the little gnomes running back and forth on hamster wheels. I have plenty of time at my new (old) job to ponder this magic.

Some of you will remember that I worked at Litchfield Books while I was taking courses at Coastal Carolina University in preparation for my third round of MFA applications, which ultimately landed me at my first choice, Boston University. Tom and Vicky, the husband/wife team that owns Litchfield Books are some of the best managers I’ve ever worked for. Example: I worked at Barnes and Hell-Hole as a college student. It was totally against the rules to read while at work. Other small retail businesses I’ve worked for had similar rules. At Litchfield Books, where my duties are mostly to serve coffee and occasionally man a small post office, I am given total freedom to read while at work. It’s perfect! I make what I made at High Hammock, I have free coffee whenever I need it, discounts on books, friendly co-workers, and plenty of time to read. It’s not something I want to do for the rest of my life, but in terms of retail employment, it doesn’t get any better. At least right now. I do not look forward to Christmas season, when we will be slammed out the door. But then in January, it will be dead again, and tra la.

Tonight Laura and I are using the crock pot again, which has turned into a weekly occurrence. We are making corned beef a la Ted Kennedy and serving it with a nice $4 bottle of wine.

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