Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Inversions

The Toyota’s thermometer read a frigid 18 degrees (almost -8 degrees for those of you who use a more rational temperature scale) while stopped at a Salt Lake city traffic light sometime near noon yesterday. A young man on the doughy side of 21 crossed stiffly in front of my car. He was wearing the equivalent of a high school gym uniform, but his black shorts and hunter green T-shirt lacked any school insignia that I could make out. His black socks had the white silhouette of a splayed-legged man jumping to deliver a basketball into a net, and this was easily visible as his cloth bedroom slippers only covered his toes. I wondered aloud whether the ice that would inevitably get into his slippers would melt at the current temperature.

On the pre-dawn trip into the big city the thermometer read -1; less than -18 Celsius. At those temperatures one can often see a brightly reflecting crystalline material blowing -almost suspended- on the slightest breeze. I imagine the material is smog frozen directly from the air in which it is suspended.

As if to validate my theory the day’s warming trend had sublimated this material back into a thick layer of haze. It was impossible to see across the valley, and the islands in the Great Salt Lake were gone.

The haze, I have been told, was the result of an “inversion”. This is not entirely true. My idling car at the stoplight, and the undoubtedly fossil-fuel-warmed location the inappropriately-dressed pedestrian was shuffling off to had something to do with it.

An inversion is weather, and who has any part in the responsibility for the weather? I grew up in a world with air pollution, but now that has been replaced with inversions, and all my personal overconsumption sins are forgiven.

Last week I drove the truck into the city. If the haze was air pollution rather than simply an inversion then the act of driving my poor gas-mileage truck into the city might have meant that I would have had to take on additional responsibility for the haze. Luckily the problem is an inversion which will eventually be washed away with rain. Weather is on the super end of the spectrum of natural phenomena.

I had to go into the city to pick up a dozen ten-foot lengths of 2-inch PVC tubing (No metric whatsoever), and they would not fit in the Corolla. I have picked up one section of pipe in the Corolla, but on the 75 mile-per-hour speed limit 35 mile section of I-80 on the ride home it occurred to me that it was not my brightest idea ever.

We have a Home Depot in Tooele. When it opened I barely stopped myself from spinning sound-of-music style through the aisles singing Disney hits like: “It’s a Whole New World”. Suddenly I could afford to supply several dangerous tangential projects at the same time, and save the two hour trip to Salt Lake that had interfered with scheduling more than one at a time.

But the Tooele Home Dept was out of 2-inch PVC. They explained that it was a “seasonal item”.

“Oh…I was not aware that there was a PVC season. I believe that Festivus poles are usually aluminum. What holiday requires 2-inch PVC?” I asked.

“It is for sprinklers. Not the 2-inch PVC, cause they don’t use that in sprinkler systems, but the other pipe, and so we don’t get as much of the 2-inch in, and it runs out.” I was told.

“So basically you are telling me that you would sell me something except there are not enough people who regularly want something else at this time of year? I’m not sure whether that is just a bad business model or a feeble attempt at cultural homogenization.” I replied.

I think he ignored my last remark as he was scratching away at the strange oversized tough-screen phone the Home Depot employees carry with them.

“We will be getting 50 pieces in 11 days” he told me “and they have 73 pieces in at the West Valley store”

“That is like a 100 mile round trip” I stated exasperated.

“More like 80 sir”

“So why don’t you let representatives higher up in the Home Depot firmament know that if you had product in your store that you could sell it to customers and help earn them a profit? You might even let them know that there is no such thing as a 2-inch PVC season so that they could continue to enjoy that portion of their year-round revenue stream”

“Well Sir; I’ve told them, but they don’t listen” He replied

“I find it hard to believe that Home Depot does not have some sort of suggestion mechanism to facilitate communication between people who work for them” I observed.

“Well they only do that for some stuff, not stuff like this. What they stock and how much they don’t want to listen to us about” He explained.

“So you’re telling me that you have information that higher ups would want to know, but because they don’t know it they will not listen to you telling it to them” I made as a parting observation as I made to leave “That’s kinda an inversion”





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