Monday, January 28, 2008

Early Morning Reprieve

I have been at work since last week, after a holiday vacation. A reprieve from work today, though - just as I was about to turn on to main street, a co-worker called. The power is off, and it will remain that way at least until the wind settles down. No need to go in to work.

Yesterday, we went home early after a power outage. Our logging facility is relatively low on the priority list if there is a property-wide (or district-wide) power outage. So we left. Can't log without power.

That didn't use to be the case. I've logged many RC drill holes with the chip trays laid out on the tailgate of a pickup truck, parked far enough from the drill rig to get away from the noise. A hand lens, acid bottle, knife for hardness testing, paper drill log forms, and a pencil are really all you need. Maybe a code sheet, AGI data sheets, rock color chart, and igneous-rock classification cheat sheet (more on rock classification here, here, here, and here), maybe some sun screen. Nowadays, however, we log chips in detail using a microscope, and our lithologies, mineral percentages, textures, and descriptions go straight into a computer data base. (This is an industry-wide, possibly world-wide phenomenon for the most part.) The scope doesn't work without power, and whereas a laptop computer will operate for a time on batteries, a powered connection to a server is required to update the database. Data entry can be slow but possible using a wifi connection - until the power goes out.

So, it was a slow, laidback day, yesterday, with whiteout conditions outside. The satellite photo showed clouds overhead in the visible spectrum, but nothing overhead in the infrared. It looked like we should be in the non-stormy, eye-like center of a large low, with all the precipitation action tens or hundreds of miles away. Meanwhile, we actually had fog, off-and-on falling and blustery snow, wind, and blizzard-like conditions. Upon leaving work in the afternoon, I could see that the local weather was anomalous: all around, variably cloudy skies, scattered sun, and blue sky prevailed. Some have postulated the existence of a sort of black hole or vortex over the property created by the mine - it supposedly draws and concentrates bad weather - especially snow, fog, rain, sleet, hail, wind, and bone-chilling cold.

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