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If you've ever driven through South Britain, Connecticut on Rt 172, upon coming to the Southbury Training School campus (a state-run facility for people with mental retardation), one of the first things that strike you isn't the manicured lawn or ivy-covered halls, but rather the stack of the powerhouse.  Many campuses have these - if for no other reason than they heat their buildings using steam, and the powerhouse building contains the big boilers needed to charge their vast network of steam pipes.

Some campus powerhouses actually generate power, i.e. electricity, as well. This was the case, for example, at Michigan State.  In fact, the beginning of the year I was there, there was a problem with either the utility power feed, or the generators (which were capable of supplying half of the campus load) - I don't remember which now - but we had some blackouts. Other than the incredible annoyance of beginning an academic year at a new institution in the dark, the power troubles apparently also resulted in the deaths of numerous cows belonging to the ag school. Apparently, either the blackouts themselves, or spikes and surges therefrom, knocked out the barn ventilation system, and they were, um, asphyxiated. I cannot possibly think of a more humiliating way to die, even for a cow, than to choke to death on one's own gasses.

Anyway, back to the training school: I don't know whether one of my younger aunts came up with this one when I was a child, or if it was solely the work of my twisted mind, but when I was very young, I used to believe that said stack vented the smoke from the campus's means of, well, disposing of deceased "clients." To this day, I can't look at it (or any powerhouse at any campus, with its smokestack so out of place amongst hallowed ivy-covered halls) without getting the creeps.

 
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