Schedule 80

Being co-owner of a winery, I get to do some things with technology that are not generally done by the average home-owning handy-person.  The latest project has involved installing a seven-ton (84,000 BTU) glycol chilling unit to cool wine tanks.  The plumbing used to circulate the coolant (propylene glycol) is a stronger form of PVC pipe like they use for your lawn sprinklers called “Schedule 80.”  The stronger stuff withstands the constant pressure and temperature changes in this application.  The cheap stuff at the big-box hardware store will never hold up to these conditions.

So, I was standing in line at the plumbing supply company where professional plumbers go.  One plumber turned to me and said, “Why spend all that money for Schedule 80 when you can install Schedule 40 (the less expensive stuff), and get a call-back from the customer when it fails in a couple of years?”

I didn’t bother to explain my application, nor the fact that I wasn’t a real plumber looking for call-backs.  But it got me thinking about other things in the state that involve expensive call-backs. 

I have been experiencing digestive issues the past couple of years that often leave me on the edge of nausea for long periods of time.  I have had major back surgery and with the loss of an ear, I continue to have problems with my balance.  The five-mile road to my house is arguably one of the worst in the world.  The only roads I have found that were worse were the gravel roads in the Costa Rican rain forest going over volcanoes.  Filling stations there advertise roadside frame welding.  My road in Muskogee County is just a tad shy of needing such services.  When I drive it, the nausea, the back problems and the balance issues are all triggered.  I do not have kind thoughts for the public officials responsible for a status quo that is a safety hazard.

So many roads in Oklahoma are cracked and bumpy to the point of being unsafe, I wonder why it is that a passenger in a vehicle can tell when they drive across the border into Oklahoma from any direction with their eyes shut.  Is it a “Schedule 80 mentality” where the road is poorly built to begin with, so the contracting company will get the repair business for decades to come?  Or is it because the governing jurisdiction never provides enough money to do the job right in the first place, so the taxpayer gets to pay even more over time to constantly repair the road?  Why do we put up with such poor quality?

Either way, it is clear to me that what needs fixing more than the roads is our mindset.