Saturday, September 30, 2006

leaving tomorrow

Ah yes, I'm going to Houston tomorrow. I won't be blogging during the week, but will post a bunch of back-dated entries when I get back in town.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Interesting post over at The Volokh Conspiracy though it's actual a citing of yet someone else's post. I especially like the line, "Mass media has left an impression that work should be fun, be exciting and immediately pay high salaries. Their expectations of achievement and career success are often not … realistic."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

they're everywhere

There is something wrong with this place. I know I've written about this before, but I've been here longer now and have a marginally better perspective on the matter. It's the Chinese restaurants. They're all freaking buffets! It's like getting to go through the Panda Express line as many times as you want. The horror, the horror!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

pumpkin shortage? yay!

I'm pretty sure this supposed pumpkin shortage is actually somehow good news. I'm not sure how, but it just feels right.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

mas money

No one ever makes enough money. There, now that I said something totally implausible, it's time to make a bunch of exceptions for my wildly unsubstantiated statement that would have otherwise weakened the attention grabbing hook I was seeking in my first sentence. Hmm, that should probably be more than one sentence.

For the most part, it's the younger people at work who talk about money, mainly in the form of how the wish they made more or deserved to be paid more or how there are things they want to buy that they cannot afford because they don't make enough money. Hearing this sort of talk is boring at best, but more typically it is maddening. I say that because there are relatively clear mechanisms for how to work towards and earn raises at work for nearly all levels of employees. Thus, hearing people bitch about how they're underpaid would be laughable if they weren't so sincere about how they're being victimized by this apparently monolithic system.

I suspect it’s the young people for two basic reasons. First, they haven't figured out how the system works and how building seniority counts towards something other than a 5-year pin and a 20-year watch (or grandfather clock if that's your fancy). The other reason seems to be a bit of a generational gap. It's as if people around my age, give or take several years, expect something for nothing and believe that having lots of money is the same thing as being successful. They don't realize it's a very select handful who end up on Cribs living the apparent life of decadence. It's the expectation of instant gratification.

My own continuing experiences using Quicken to track my money, or should I say assets (which is actually a much more apt term) has been very illuminating. Outside of very low probability events (like winning the lottery) the value of one's assets does not really grow very quickly. A gain of 10% a year is respectable but hardly the kind of sexy growth people tend to dream about. Seeing the value of certain assets move up and down and contrary to one another on a computer screen adds a certain detachment to the process as well. Sure, it's my money, but it's mostly on paper. It doesn't feel like mine in an immediate sense though I certainly know that it's there for me and it's largely and reasonably liquid. The sense of detachment has probably helped make it easier to stomach the handful of large single day losses that I have witnessed. It also makes the handful of large single day gains seem generally less exciting. After all, it's just money. But it's my money.

By the way, I do make enough money.

Monday, September 25, 2006

busy busy

We've been busy here, despite the continuing slide in the price of natural gas. That slide doesn't look quite as bad on a five-year chart but it's not exactly beloved by the clients we have in this basin which predominantly produces natural gas. Of course, at least they're not betting on the price of gas on the market like some people. While they probably chose their fund's name for the first definition from the first source here, one should look at the first definition from the second source. Note the word in bold.

So we've been busy. That means I've been busy. It means things like going to bed sort of early on a Friday night expecting a call at some point the next morning to go out on a job. Then waking up late the next morning wondering what's going on at the rig so calling the yard to see if there's an update. Ah, there is, perhaps it'll go in the evening. Ok, so there's some general vegging out watching college football and seeing Cal beat ASU, but play a sloppy and uninspired second half. The job eventually calls and we're on location by 11 PM and then wait about six hours for the rig to get its act together. We get our chance to shine and fight through a time-consuming job but get it done successfully and make it back to the yard around 1 PM. Finally. Oh, but wait. They're waxing the floor in the office and I can't walk on it to get to my desk for another hour to do post-job paperwork and pound out some programs a client needs by the next day. I'm home by 3 PM and I still need to shower and get groceries. It's Sunday afternoon and one can't help but wonder what the hell happened to the weekend.

These things happen. It's tiring, but at least it's satisfying. There's a definite sense of accomplishment after a getting a long, difficult job well done. It also feels really good to put on a pair of dry socks.

And now, for a mostly random quote from The Simpsons.
Brockman: Kent Brockman at the Action News desk. A massive tanker has run aground on the central coastline, spilling millions of gallons of oil on Baby Seal Beach.
Lisa: [gasps] Oh, no!
Homer: It'll be okay, honey. There's lots more oil where that came from.

And how.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


I've been using Quicken, specifically Quicken 2006 Premier, since last October. For those of you familiar with the various grades of Quicken, I opted to splurge for Premier over Deluxe to help track investments. For those of you unfamiliar with Quicken, that's probably a failing on your part. After spending a couple hours entering all my accounts and figuring out how to download transaction records into Quicken, I was more or less up and running. But my lackluster obsessive-compulsiveness nagged at me.

Since the beginning of the year, I've also kept track of all cash purchases. While not a huge portion of my expenses, like taxes or rent, cash purchases do represent a significant portion of my expenditures that are non-essential. For the most part, that means I can see how much I spend eating out. I can tell you how much I've spent at Wendy's, in vending machines, and how many times I've spent the $1.75 to wash and dry my clothes at my building's laundry room.

Compulsive? Probably. But it's also a fascinating look into how someone, specifically me, spends and invests his money.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

going to Houston

By the way, I'll be in Houston during the first week of October.

Friday, September 15, 2006

less than random links

For whatever reason, I felt compelled to e-mail myself this link from CNN on oil and gas in America. There was also some interesting news on the successful test on a deepwater well in the Gulf Coast. Not quite midnight yet.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

change of plans

Oh well, I was wrong last night. By the time I got to the yard, plans had changed. I ended up catching two jobs back-to-back and a supervisor (who does have a CDL just so we're clear) had to drive one of the bulk trucks while I drove the pick-up. It's an unpredictable business. Now I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

that went fast

Huh, it's the Tuesday after Labor Day. That would be the Tuesday that's a week after Labor Day. That all went by very quickly.

For starters, I'm no longer angry about what happened what is now two Saturdays ago. Instead, my eager, grasshopper spirit has been crushed by further events and I've lost the will to fight the inexorable system that I cannot help but dream about when I close my eyes. Or not. more or less. I'm not angry because I, uh, made my opinions clear using cogent, even-toned, polite-society language last Friday to express my disappointment with the poor execution of a particular support department. This was after a similar incident of poor execution earlier in the week as well. While not affecting any ultimate job execution, these were still problems that required additional work to remediate. Anyway, my cogent points were noted by the relevant managers and some stern words have been issued. So apparently I do have pull.

Actually, that’s not why I'm angry. Venting is generally ineffective because it doesn’t address the root causes of the anger. I'm not angry because I have or others have addressed the root cause, or at least as much as it can reasonably be expected to be addressed. The necessary things have been said to the proper people to try to make this not happen again.

So, last week I got sucked out on a couple long, relatively difficult jobs on Wednesday and Friday. Long enough to kind of make Thursday disappear. That happens some of the time. You wake up and it's not clear what day it is, but it doesn't really matter because when you answered your ringing phone, it was time to go to work. That also happened Saturday, though that turned out to be a red herring. I got to spend the day hanging out at a rig talking to the company man while they tried to solve a problem they were having drilling. I was there to pimp our new solution to their problem (which I should note falls somewhat outside the bounds of most of everything else we do). It was a red herring because the rig was able to resolve their problem on their own. Charming. At least I (read: Schlumberger) got to charge them for time and mileage. Sunday was mellow enough that I was able to play office catch-up in between round-tripping some trucks in from the field and doing some basic pick-up upkeep. And now it's Tuesday. Oh, and I spent last night/this morning on another job after someone who is going to find himself out of a job really soon if this keeps up decided that we was too sick to work. That was after spending the entire day in the office. But hey, I slept all this afternoon when I got home.

And my phone just rang. Apparently, jobs are stacking up again and it's time to round-trip some trucks. And yes, it is the middle of the night, or the beginning depending on how you look at it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

still none too pleased

I'm still angry about what happened to me, the crew, the job, our reputation on Saturday. There are a lot of different things that I can do with my anger, but most of it wouldn't be constructive. I think I've gotten all the yelling, screaming, kicking, punching, and throwing out of my system. Now it's time to go back to work tomorrow and focus on how this happened and how to prevent similar incidents.

It all goes back to communication, yet again.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

system failure

Yesterday's job did not go well. And I'm very upset.

The specifics really aren't important to this forum and they would only distract you from understanding the anger I am feeling. What is important is that we were unable to perform the job after arriving at location due to multiple failures in communication and execution and follow-through. And what I hate is having to be the face of that failure to the customer. It burns me up to tell someone that we have basically wasted his time and thus his money and that there is nothing we can do about it today because we're 120 miles away from the equipment we need.

What kills me is that we have systems in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening. And not some basic note-passing reminders, but formalized systems. But people don't use them. People don't use them and I'm the one who looks like a damn amateur in the field.

Friday, September 01, 2006

boarding pass

By the way, here's a picture of what qualifies as a boarding pass at the airport here in Farmington.