Keystone XL Project and A Lesson in Roman Numerals

imagesKeystone XL and A Lesson in Roman Numerals

Aging & Attitude

The Roman numeral X stands for ten, but what about L and the combined XL. I am having a senior moment, cannot remember, and could search on-line but,*Mr. Wonderful is nearby; so I call to him. “What does the Roman numeral XL represent?”

“The Roman Numeral XL?” He asks to be sure.

“Yes, XL. How much is it?”

“Well X equals ten and L equals fifty, so you subtract the smaller number or 50-10=40, XL equals 40. Do you know what 100 is? He is showing off.

Of course I don’t, but attempt to bluff saying, “ LL,” with inflection in my voice.

He corrects me. “No, one hundred is C.” And proceeds to ask, “How about five hundred, what Roman numerals represent five hundred?”

Recalling V is five, I shout back, “CV, no wait, VC. Is it CCCCC?” Hoping one of these answers is correct.

“CCC is three hundred, however the Romans didn’t use more than three letters at a time. D is five hundred, and M is one thousand.” He says quite proudly.

We continue a ping-pong conversation about the Romans and their numerals, Mr. Wonderful showing off his Iona Prep education, me feeling stupid, and hoping there will not be a review test anytime soon.

“Why did you want to know?” He inquires.

“The Keystone XL Project that Obama decided against. I guess it is really the Keystone Forty Project. So you know about job years.” I am hoping he does not.

“Canada’s plan to construct a 1,700 mile oil pipeline to Mexico? Yea, I know about it.  Didn’t Obama cave for the environmentalists?”

“There are environmental concerns but the big issue is job years.” I reply more confident.

“Job years? What about job years, whatever happened to plain old jobs?”

“I’ll get to that. Job years is similar to BOGO and TWO FOR sales, only more confusing. It was on NPR. Diane Rehm’s guest panel had an hour-long discussion that left me perplexed so I went online. According to Wiki Answers, a job year is;  ‘The amount of work equal to the output of one person working for 1 year. If 4 people work on something for 3 months each, the total work was 1 man-year of work.’ Am I giving you a headache?”

“Yes, but look at the source. Are you sure it’s right?” Mr. Wonderful wants to know and continues commenting, “That answer could be from any normal average person who never went to college.”

I defend the information saying, “Or a crazy individual with advanced degrees. Whatever, use that definition and you’ll come up with the numbers talked about on NPR. You could read the transcript from The Diane Rehm Show. Better yet I’ll fill you in.”

Diane Rehm said, “One element that proponents of the Keystone pipeline have pointed to is the number of jobs. I’ve heard anywhere from 2,500 to 50,000, and most temporary jobs. What are the facts, Steve Mufson?” 

Steve Mufson responds, “TransCanada, the company that wants to build the pipeline, says this would create 20,000 job years — 13,000 for direct construction jobs and the rest for supply chain jobs. However, what they mean by job years is that if the project takes two years, then that is two job years. So, in fact, we’re really talking about 6,500 construction jobs, which, of course, is — are still — is still a real number of jobs, but not just as many as some of the proponents make it out to be.”

“Back up here, 13,000 years, that’s a mistake Right? A worker is eligible for Social Security before that. It’s crazy, insane.” Mr. Wonderful quips and chuckles.

“Now honey, they’re talking one man. It’s a big project.” I remind him.

My husband summarizes saying, ” Okay, let me get this straight, it would take one man working 13,000 years to complete the Keystone XL project. If you want the project completed in two years, divide 13,000 by 2, and do the math, you need 6,500 men to get the job done.  Well now, that makes perfect sense.”

“Not really, what makes sense is to create 6,500 real jobs in solar and wind construction and deleting email mandatory.” I retort.

“Solar energy and deleting email? This sounds similar to  Christopher Columbus and turkeys.” Mr. Wonderful exclaims sounding testy, and leading me to explain.

“Sort of, servers are needed to store information, generators keep those servers up and running, electricity is required to run the generators and oil is mostly used to create the electricity. Consequently if every American deleted their emails we would save money and we would not need the Keystone XL project, ask any Roman.”

                                                                                      . . . . Just Saying

*Mr. Wonderful is my husband of forty years.