2017-02-26

Going Silent

Next week, beginning at the stroke of midnight on Sunday morning, the power plant I work at will begin a refueling outage. Every two years, the plant shuts down for extensive maintenance and to replace about one-third of its nuclear fuel. During this time I will be working 12-hour days. I will be getting up at 0200 and sitting at my desk by 0300 every morning except Wednesday when I will have to be there an hour earlier. These strange hours are due to my responsibilities during the outage.

Each day, the schedulers put out a new schedule for the work that is to be done. This schedule is published by 0300 unless there is an issue that needs to be resolved. At 0313 sharp, an automatic computer program reads this schedule and generates a plethora of reports that are then distributed to the workgroups and management. If the schedule is not ready, this automatic program must be manually stopped until the schedule is fixed. Monitoring this massive report generator is part of my job.

I also manually generate my own reports from our scheduling system and these must be created and either printed and delivered or converted to PDF and shared with the rest of the organization. All this takes a few hours each morning. The reason for the shift in time on Wednesday is because the other person who does this has elected to take Wednesdays off. He is the person who is normally responsible for shutting down the report generator if needed but when he's not there, that responsibility falls to me. Instead of having to alter my working schedule by many hours each Wednesday, I've selected my working hours to be such that I can easily come in an hour or two earlier if needed.

After this flurry of activity in the morning, my day slows down. I will be monitoring a group of report generators I've written that help the group of managers in the Outage Control Center keep track of the progress of the outage. When I'm not doing that, I'm usually extracting data from our various databases to answer ad-hoc questions from management. In my spare time, I'll be working on building and enhancing the database applications I'm responsible for.

Because of my odd working hours, I will most likely stop publishing this blog until the outage is over. We are committed to having an outage of 28 days 3 hours. So, this might be my last post for at least a month. If I have time during the outage, I will post, but as of now, I'm not offering any guarantees.

My wife is slowly making her way through Peacekeeper Pathogen and I have high hopes she will be done by the end of the outage. I've been keeping ahead of her with another editing pass through the manuscript making small changes and fixing things that were missed in the other passes. I've already received a couple of preliminary cover ideas from my cover artist and so far I like what I see.

Finally, I'd like to make another plug for my Launch Pad fundraiser. The application window is closing in a few days but the fundraiser will continue to collect donations up until the workshop starts in June. If you think keeping the science in science fiction as realistic as possible, then you should consider helping keep this workshop alive. Large donations are becoming harder to find and small fundraisers like the one I'm running are vitally important. If you want more information on this wonderful workshop, please let me know. I would be happy to discuss it with you.

You can easily donate any amount by going to: https://www.gofundme.com/launch-pad-workshop