Saturday, December 31, 2005

empty seats for all!

I realize that my post yesterday has nothing to back it up. Nonetheless, it's how I feel about the situation. The father/son relationship isn't the only reason why the president will finish this war (or at least, not give up on it), but it's the differentiating factor between him and other men who could be in his situation.

A quote from an article a few weeks ago caught my eye and I did not discuss it at the time. Now I cannot find the original article I read, but I found a suitable replacement here that has the same quote. A former Delta Airlines executive is challenging the airline that she should be allowed to keep her severance privilege of free first-class flights for her and her family. Currently, Delta is in the middle of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. The great quote is that she argues that Delta will "incur few or no actual costs or expenses … because there are generally empty seats on the debtor's aircraft."

Wow, with that kind of thinking, no wonder they're flush with cash. Wait, they're not. It doesn't take an extensive formal education in economics, finance, or how to run a business to see some obvious deficiencies with her thinking. That is, unless she was planning to only take mid-week red eye flights. If there are "generally" empty seats on Delta's flights, then perhaps it should operate fewer flights. Or consider lowering their prices. Or dynamic pricing where they lower prices as the date of the flight gets nearer (but raise them again in the last two weeks). What were the exact terms of her agreement? If she was on a flight and someone was willing to pay real money for the seat she was in, then would she get bumped? If not, there's a serious lost opportunity cost. Even her mere presence in a seat on an airplane, even if no one else wanted it, not even for 50 bucks, costs the airline. There is the minor incremental increase in fuel consumption from the added weight. There are the meals and appetizers and alcoholic beverages that are all free in first-class. There is the tracking process of having to account for a passenger in the database who is not treated like the others. How is this "few or no actual costs"? Are these imaginary costs with imaginary money?

Maybe she'll win and get to keep her flights for her and her family. If she does, I hope the airline loses her luggage. And by lose, I really mean take to sell all the valuables from to cover the "few or no actual costs" from her flight.

Friday, December 30, 2005

no idea what to title this

I was watching the Three Kings the other day. Actually, it was over several days and then I re-watched it twice to listen to the two commentary tracks. I watch a lot of things on my other monitor while I work at my desk, read news, throw unread e-mails away, etc. Lately, I've been on a finance kick with Quicken and all that jazz and have been contemplating year end moves I might want to make. Like I've mentioned before, I watch DVDs on my second monitor for background entertainment. It's a way to make up for the not having a television thing, but with no commercials.

As one might expect (if you've seen the movie), it got me thinking about the Gulf War in 1991 and the current Gulf War that we're now in. The first Gulf War ended with the United States liberating Kuwait by driving the Iraqi forces out. There was no march to Baghdad or attempt to oust Saddam Hussein. It was a war with defined military objectives that were achieved so it ended at that point. However, the first President Bush later regretted never going to Baghdad to remove Hussein from power. Due to the obvious connection between that President Bush (41) and the current President Bush (43), it is not surprising that we entered into another war with Iraq. The thinking part is that the current President Bush is uniquely committed to resolving the war in Iraq specifically because of his father's regrets.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. That's a rather bold claim to make. Yes, it is. I also believe that the same reasons and motivations led us into Iraq in the first place as well. However, that's not the question now since we're already there. The real question is how do we get out and win? To win, from a foreign policy standpoint, we would need to leave the country safer and more stable than when we found it and develop a non-anti-American sentiment with most people in the country. President Bush is more likely to stay committed to Iraq even in difficult times (like now) because he saw firsthand how much his father regretted the missed opportunity. He will not let himself willingly let the same happen to him. He wants to win down to his very core. Not only is his reputation as a leader at stake with this war, but also the latent expectations of his father of a vision of what the Middle East can become.

There's something about being a man that is very hard to quantify or even qualify. We are the sons of our fathers, but we are not our fathers. We are not destined to the same failures and shortcomings, but nor are we guaranteed the same successes and strengths. Nonetheless, there's a connection, a sense of obligation and understanding that binds many men to try and achieve certain ideals of their fathers about how they should live their lives. The idea is heavily romanticized in popular culture, especially movies with male-centric stories like The Godfather. The real world is filled with a much hazier version of the romanticized, honor-bound surreality of films, but I believe it still exists. It is that sense, that father-son connection that obliges the president to see this war to its proper end.

I firmly believe that John Kerry would not have handled this war any better than Bush has to date or will in the future. I say that because Kerry would have caved to the whispers into is left ear and more quickly drawn down troop levels before the country was stable enough to govern itself. This is not to say that Bush himself is a great military strategist, but more that Kerry is not so deeply committed to properly resolving the war. He has less on the line. Bush has history, for both him and his father on the line. he understands that the future of an entire region of the world might be at stake along with strong American interests in the region. He is the one who will have the intestinal fortitude to stick with the war even if it becomes wildly unpopular and more difficult to conduct.

At this point, I'd like to point out that they were some really good commentary tracks on that Three Kings DVD. One was from the director and the other was from the two producers. They actually discussed the filmmaking process, both from an artistic and logistical/financial point of view. I recommend it for people who are interested in filmmaking.

I totally need to get an iron. (I also totally need to not use unnecessary words in sentences. It's a bad habit.) I wanted to wear my bright blue shirt to the Christmas party. It's pretty close to Schlumberger blue, but I had it folded (in the broadest sense of the word) in a corner of my closet. Instead, I opted to look like I had tried and wore a sinister looking shirt that was Halliburton red.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

new oilfield

There's nothing quite like an empty office to totally quash your interest in doing work. The office was basically empty on Monday because of some sort of holiday or something. Same goes for last Friday. Slackers, every one of them. Not that that stopped the actual work that we do. Actually, all the drilling rigs we follow shut down for Christmas (though one of them was planning to work through the weekend until they had to do some remedial work that forced them to wait on cement for a day).

Apparently, the whole attempt-to-reach-a-suitable-point-to-shut-down-for-Christmas thing is a fairly new development that started about two years ago in this area. It's part of the "new oilfield" that's all warm and cuddly and compassionate. No, not really, but it is a consequence of the "new oilfield" which is a reference to the intense focus on safety that started 10-15 years ago. Basically, it became part of the culture of the major players in the industry that safety will come first no matter what the cost. (The smaller and more independent companies do not have the same safety culture in place. It's there, but nowhere near as strong.) That safety focus can be restrictive at times in terms of hours worked or operations performed but it comes from the understanding that it's become too expensive to be unsafe.

However, the "new oilfield" is sometimes meant in a mildly derogative manner by older hands who disdain how warm and fuzzy the industry has become. In times like these where the oil and gas industry is expanding, it's much harder for companies to fill positions. As a consequence, they offer incentives to work and better hours and so forth. Here in the San Juan Basin, one major water hauling company (and possibly all the other major ones) has stopped working at nights. Ostensibly, it's a safety issue to work and drive at night, but it's pretty clear that it's an attempt to lure and retain people. That particular development has forced us to adjust one of the operations that we performed that involved having a water hauler go with one of our cement crews. Somewhat ironically, we've adjusted by changing our process such that we no longer need the water hauler.

In other news, I'll be back in Los Altos for a couple days starting Jan 5 and I leave the morning of Jan 8. So yeah, I'll see some of you in a week.

Friday, December 23, 2005

bowl, party

Hey, Cal won its bowl game last night. They beat BYU 35-28 in the Las Vegas Bowl. Scott and Mike, I hope it was a fun game to watch in person. Not that I saw it on television since I don't own one. In fact, even if I had one, I wouldn't have seen it since I was at the company Christmas party last night.

I know, I know. After last year's 'festivities' I vowed not to go again. Now that I actually know some of my co-workers, it was far less horribly awkward and instead only mildly awkward. I also appreciated the smoke-free nature of the venue so everyone who wanted a snipe had to go outside. The drinking and dancing were still not for me, but some work-issues that came up last night let me escape from the drunk-fest that the party inevitably degenerated into. Sort of. In another sense, the inebriated state of some people made it expressly more difficult to figure how to cover a particular job. In the end, we got it covered and everyone's a hero, and the checks are in the mail. But I'm still really upset about several little things that added up to make last night much more difficult than it had to be.

To change gears, the fact that it's Christmas in two days does not really register with me. But at least I finally unpacked and cleaned up most of my apartment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

visitors, comments

I got a nice surprise visit yesterday form Scott and Mike. They're on a Southwest road trip that Scott describes here. Scott called me two nights ago and said they could make a (rather large) detour to Farmington the next day (yesterday) on their way from Monument Valley to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. They're trip will cap itself off tomorrow with a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl to go watch our Cal Bears play BYU. Anyway, we went out to lunch and caught up a little and it was nice to have visitors take in the spectacle that is Farmington.

I hope I'm not the only one who is vastly entertained by the comments that show up in my mirrored blog. However, I suspect I am since they're like a big in joke to me because most of them are from my family. Well, I bet my brother finds them just as entertaining. Gotta love those anonymous comments.

Monday, December 19, 2005

amended addendum = duodenum?

The weekend has passed and I hope no one I know managed to hurt themselves in some sad, tragic attempt at skiing or snowboarding over the last couple days. We've all learned that you save your drinking for the final night as opposed the first night and then attempt to get up at 6 AM the next morning to get an early start. (For some of us, that learning was vicarious and that was for the best.) Note: My hope for a non-OSHA recordable incident weekend does not extend to anyone who was with people I know, but is not actually someone I know.

I have yet another patch to apply to my allegedly "controversial" and characteristically sloppy post about love. In summary, we can choose who to respect in a rational fashion. Respect must exist for love to be sustained. But, the decision to choose the particular person who is the object of our love is not necessarily a rational one. Now the amended addendum part. The decision to choose who we love is not necessarily an irrational one either. You can be in many relationships and never be in love even if those relationships had all the same tangible qualities as one in which you did fall in love. And yet you can fall in love and not necessarily explain why it was that person over any of the others. You may think you can, but your explanations will undoubtedly sound like incoherent babbling. Trust me. Not that I would know from first-hand experience or anything like that. Just some more vicarious living. With some actual living mixed in.

Bah, why bother even writing on it. Too many exceptions to the rules. It's like explaining English grammar and spelling rules to a non-native speaker. It doesn't make sense when you list it all out. It's just right when it feels right. And people (even me?), for all the rationality and self-control in the world cannot control everything we want to feel whether we like it or not.

Now the hole is even deeper.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


The low temperature should not start with a 7. And be one digit long. Additionally, the high temperature of the day should not be in the 30's. Well, as much as I enjoy discussing it, that's about enough on the weather for now. I'll be sure to come up with some dandy posts in the future when the weather does something other than be cold.

I have an addendum to my post from a couple days ago that was ostensibly about love. I deliberately used the word conditional as a contrast to the idea of "unconditional love" which seems like such an ill-advised idea when speaking in the romantic sense. Also, as I reflect upon it further, the idea of conditional love (by which I meant respect preceding love) is not necessarily contradictory to the ideas I quote from Steven Pinker. Love can both require respect, but still be an irrational feeling. We can be rational about who we choose to respect. But once we do that, it does not mean that we can be entirely rational about whom we choose to love.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

merge this

It snowed about 2-3 inches last night. Therefore, this morning, everyone forgot how to drive. It's pretty unbelievable how many people are so terrible at driving and how any adverse conditions strip away what little control they ever had.

About that acquisition below: ConocoPhillips is acquiring Burlington Resources. Obviously, ConocoPhillips is one of the "super-majors" as they are called. Burlington is one of those names that the general public wouldn't know, but people in the industry do. That's sort of similar to Schlumberger, which is name the general public is not familiar with, but is well known within the industry. Admittedly, both Schlumberger and Burlington have seen more play in business-focused magazines due to the rise in oil and gas prices.

It'll be interesting to see one company culture be imposed on another and witness some of the effects firsthand. Both run substantial operations in the San Juan Basin and I want to see how this all plays out. Obviously, Schlumberger has a vested interest in what happens at the corporate and the district level due to the contracts at stake.

client merger

This is interesting as we do a lot of work for both of these companies.

Monday, December 12, 2005

respect ---> love

I've been sitting on this post for two months since I first saw the quote back in October. One more scribble to cross off.

Shouldn't love always be conditional? As in romantic love where you pick the person, not the familial love you might have for parents or siblings. The potentially much more nebulous bond you form with someone who was once a total stranger. That sort of love.

The condition for that love is mutual respect. How could you love someone who (whom?) you do not respect? How could you look at him or her as an equal human being without respecting him or her for who he or she is? (Now I see why it's now sort of acceptable to use them even when referencing the singular him or her.) Likewise, if they change and cease to respect you, how can you continue to give your love? It starts with respect, even if not explicitly stated, for one another as human beings. Respect must come before love and it must stay throughout love. Maintaining it is the hard part.

Or is it totally different? Such a controlled and carefully metered out sense of love surely kills the romantic in most people. It spurns the idea of romantic love as an irrational, exuberant emotion filled with the passions of youth and the unending happiness it provides young lovers. Can we actually control love and make it a fully rational choice? I like, though do not necessarily agree, with something I found on Kevin's blog. He quoted Steven Pinker's How the Mind Works:

How can you be sure that a prospective partner won't leave the minute it is rational to do so - say, when a 10-out-of-10 movies in next door? One answer is, don't accept a partner who wanted you for rational reasons to begin with; look for a partner who is committed to staying with you because you are you. Committed by what? Committed by an emotion. An emotion that the person did not decide to have, and so cannot decide not to have. An emotion that was not triggered by your objective mate-value and so will not be alienated by someone with greater mate-value. An emotion that is guaranteed not to be a sham because it has physiological costs like tachycardia, insomnia, and anorexia. An emotion like romantic love.

convertible coupes

I saw a 6-series BMW convertible the other day. I couldn't help but think one thing: Chrysler Sebring convertible.

It's hardly a fair comparison, but that's what came to mind. Admittedly, closer inspection and review of 6-series and Sebring photos reveals that the two cars don't bear much resemblance to one another. But the fatal flaw, two flaws really, is that they are both part of two categories of cars I don't care much for. The first is soft-top convertibles. Really now, what a terrible look for an automobile. Oh sure, they look great with the top down, but they tend to look incredibly cheap and flimsy with the top up. The other is the two-door coupe, which is not a redundant statement thanks to the Mercedes CLS class. Cars with only two doors when a 4-door model is available (or possible) look as ill-proportioned and sickly as a soft-top convertible with its top up. The doors on a two-door coupe always look too big, but there's still too much unbroken space from the B-pillar back. It gives the appearance of lazy/boring styling when viewed from the side. Plus, the enormous doors look like they're better for giving other people door dings than anything else.

I just thought everyone should know how I feel about this in case anyone was going to surprise me with a new car. No? No one is? I see how it is.

It's happened again. I have over 100 e-mails I my inbox both at home and at work. It's time to start paring them down and actually replying to people instead of focusing only on myself instead hoping something magical will happen to them.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

dvi-d/d-sub to composite/s-video adapter?

I am looking for something that may not exist. Well, it may not exist in the form that I want it in. I am looking for a cable adapter to go from a DVD player to a monitor I have. The monitor takes inputs of DVI-D or D-SUB (the 15 pin VGA connection on most computer monitors) and the player can give a composite or S-video output. I have found receiver-type devices that will do what I want, but they are separate devices and all cost over $100. I am looking for just a cable adapter. I suspect it can't be done since the signal probably would have to go through a receiver to come out ok on the other end. However, I can at least pretend that it's possible. If you know of anything, leave me a comment. Thanks.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

big league chew

From The Family Guy:
Lois: So how was your day?
Brian: My day? Un-freakin' believable. First we nailed this bastard who had the gall to hide his stuff in his daughter's doll--HER DOLL for God's sake! Where's the line anymore? Well, I got news for ya, it's not even on the radar screen! The days of decency and virtue are gone, honey, BAM, freakin' evaporated like a dingy stinkin' mudpuddle. One day you see your reflection in it and the next day it's a, it's a damn oil spot on your cracked driveway, staring back at you, mocking you, knowing the perverted truths that rot in the pit of your soul. That's how my freakin' day was!
Peter: You know what I haven't had in a while? Big League Chew.

This scene from the show got me thinking: I haven't had Big League Chew in a while either. Thus, I had to get some and see if enjoyable flavors from childhood would once again be a poor indicator of adult tastes.

They still are. For starters, I haven't been a regular gum chewer in years. In fact, I was never really a regular gum chewer ever. Also, original bubble gum flavored gum is incredibly boring. It's too much like going to the dentist and having to settle for bubble gum because it's the only flavor of that toothpaste cleaner deal they use that they have. (Speaking of which, I had to settle for bubble gum last time I was at the dentist.) Lastly, I find the ball player depicted on the packaging a little distressing given the current difficulties baseball is experiencing with steroids. Just try and tell me that this man is not on the juice.

In conclusion, don't get diesel on your clothes, even your work clothes, because they will still smell like diesel after washing them.

Monday, December 05, 2005


What a push couple of days. Since Thursday, I've probably driven about 1,000 miles. I drew the short straw and have been down to an area called the Jicarilla every day since Friday. It's a long, slow, and mind-numbingly boring drive down Hwy 550 that takes you about halfway to Albuquerque. It's slow because while I drive a pick-up that can easily go 70 MPH, I must go 55 MPH because that's about as fast as the slowest vehicle in the convoy can go. And the scenery is non-existent. The drive is best done in the dark because then you don't feel so cheated by how desolate your surroundings are. (And you're more likely to hit something that you can take home and cook.) It's not a stark, high desert beauty which would be great. It's a flat, flat, flatness with some occasional hills and punctuated by incredibly sad looking towns every 15 miles.

The sad looking towns bit reminds me of what could easily be the single funniest line from my vacation with my family in Greece. We were in the car and drove past an empty and rather rundown looking playground.
Mom: What a sad looking playground. (Or something to that effect.)
Me: Why? Because it's not filled with children's laughter?
As I reread that, it's apparent that you had to be there. Maybe if you've spent enough time with me, you can envision the perfect timing and deadpan-ness necessary for that to be darkly hilarious.

For the record, we don't really draw straws to determine who goes where to do what. We pick names out of a hat.