I will be forever grateful that a friend turned me on to WNYC Studios' "Here's the Thing" podcast last year. In each episode, Alec Baldwin interviews a politician ("Bernie Sanders Thinks Democrats are Still Way Off-Course"), writer ("Steve Erickson Saw Trumpism Coming"), musician ("Patti Smith Never Wanted to Be Famous"), actor ("The Wonderful Life of Debbie Reynolds"), or some other person recently in the news. On Jan. 8, he sought to answer a question that, as a resident, concerns him: What on earth does New York City do with 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater and 16 million pounds of trash every day?

This led him (or his producers) to two fascinating people. Like you, they're passionate about what they do even though no one appreciates (or understands) what that is.

In addition to explaining how the city treats sewage, Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Wastewater Treatment Deputy Commissioner Pam Elardo talks about being one of Northwestern University's first female engineering students (no restroom facilities) and wonders why environmentalists don't understand sewer utility managers are also environmentalists. Ron Gonen, the city's first "Recycling Czar," found his calling when he was working to help his single mom support the family.

So happy new year! Hope you enjoy "The Brilliant Minds of Trash and Sewage" (38 minutes).