Another language

Posted on Feb 12 2007 in General

DSC_0004I can’t shake the image. When I think of George Washington, my first impression is of him chopping down a cherry tree.

I can’t recall why he allegedly got ax-happy. Maybe he figured if the branches fell to the ground, it would be easier to get to the fruit. Hunger, after all, can lead to extreme measures.

Anyway, the image of the father of our country picking cherries is such a contrast to the utility world’s definition of “cherry picking.” Those at your electric cooperative will tell you cherry picking refers to one utility taking another utility’s most profitable load (like a large factory).

Several words common in our everyday speech have a completely different meaning in the electric utility lexicon. Take the word “bus.”  The dictionary definition is “a large motor vehicle that carries passengers.” But a bus is so much more to electric utility folk. It’s an electrical conductor which serves as a common connection for two or more electrical circuits.

A “line” takes  you from point A to point B. It’s something you can stand in an awfully long time whether at the airport or at certain chain stores. It also carries electricity on a electric power system.

A “perm” is what I get done to give my hair the curl nature never intended. Or, it’s the unit used to measure the rate which water moves through a membrane. Those in the home construction business use perms to measure vapor barriers in the home.

When I think “tap,” I flashback to dance recital horrors and start reciting “shuffle, ball, change” to myself . In “electrispeak,” a tap is an electric circuit with limited capacity extending from a distribution line. Areas with a limited number of residences may be served by tap lines.

When I started working here, my first project was penning Indiana’s electric cooperative history book. It was a daunting project for someone unfamiliar with the rural electric program, an industry filled with acronyms and technical jargon, people and politics, kilowatts and court battles.

While writing the book, I learned a lot and I continue to learn. There are always new developments, and terminology is everchanging. I’m sure you’re also learning new lingo in your jobs and areas of interest.

So, if you think you’re having trouble communicating, well, you may be right. You think you’re speaking English, but, depending on your audience, you may be speaking a whole different language.