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I always enjoy putting on protective gear and immersing myself in a different environment.  It's sometimes difficult to work, hard to hear w/ the earplugs and screaming equipment, hard to move around with giant work boots and a helmet, and hard to see through safety glasses.  But what you realize is this: some people, the folks I spoke with at Alcoa in Massena, New York, spend their working LIVES geared up like this.  It's not a novelty for them.  They take it in stride, they see it as a necessary part of their daily jobs.  The earplugs are removed, you're outside the facility and all of a sudden you hear high-tone frequencies, birds, the wind in some leaves, but sharp, intense, loud...  

I spoke with some workers about the work/life balance.  Things have gotten better recently, as most/if not all of them are now home with their families on weekends, where before they might be at work.  Something else we often take for granted.... weekends off...  They have kids, the kids grow up, the parents are at work.... 

I enjoyed seeing, and getting footage of, giant coils of aluminum as they are manipulated by the machinery at the plant.  This kind of manufacturing is becoming rare in this country.  It was good to explore, at least briefly, the daily lives of some of the folks working hard in the North Country.  The people I spoke with are insightful, interesting, and full of good stories.