Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I have a theory though it's more of an observation than a theory. Most commercials, through their content, imply that the people who need or use the product in question, are either incompetent or condescending jerks. Or they have poor hygiene. The next time you watch television, watch for what the commercials are really saying.

The current Mac campaign is a great example of this. These would be the commercials where Mac is represented by the young, hip-in-a-nerdy-sort-of-way guy who clearly works for a start-up with an open office layout and the PC is represented by the pudgy guy with glasses and looks like a stereotypical cube dweller. At least the Mac users I know aren't quite as condescending as the ads make it seem like they should be.

Monday, October 30, 2006



What about real combat?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

push 2

In the last four days, Thursday through today, I have racked up 900 miles on the road, spent one night sleeping in a pick-up waiting for a pull truck, nearly ripped off a bumper, seen countless deer, a fox, and a bobcat, gone to Utah twice, and yet was on only one job. And you know what, deer are hard to photograph from a moving vehicle.

Monday, October 23, 2006


I just love responsibility without authority.

Work last week was essentially a series of near disasters and moderately sized crises. Now it's Monday and it looks like we're poised to do it all over again.

In lighter news, I somehow ended up on some internal e-mail list for recruiting, along with a lot of now unhappy people. The progression is wonderful. First came the original e-mail asking people to sign up if they're interested. Next someone replied all, including the entire list with some recruiter specific matter. And then there was (and continues to be) the landslide of e-mails requesting to get off of the list. About every fifth e-mail is a plea to everyone else to stop hitting reply all with the requisite amount of irony that they are hitting reply all in order to send the e-mail. Then there was the obligatory cheeky reply where the sender asked to receive more of these awesome e-mails. My desired reply which is not at all cheeky:

Dear all:
Listen you ignorant sluts. The next person to send an e-mail, any e-mail to this distribution list will be physically injured by me. I will look you up in the company directory, fly to the city you work in, go to your office, and then beat the shit out of you. That is all.

Or maybe I'll send it only to the people who have already replied to all because they're the ones who have been stupid enough to perpetuate this problem. Sometimes I'm just stunned by the sheer idiocy of, not just people at work, but all people including most of our clients.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

car gremlins partially conquered

I conquered one of my car problems today, arguably the most pressing one. My fuse is no longer blowing. While separating the bundle of wires for my license plate lights and trunk light switch as it goes from the trunk to the body of the car, I discovered that three out of five of them were so damaged that they just pulled apart on me and a fourth was mostly frayed apart as well. That might have been the short in the system. The problem has been address, my license plate lights work, my right taillight works, and my dash backlight works. And I now own a pair of wire strippers.

I should also mention that my trip odometer no longer works though. More accurately, I cannot get it to properly reset. I'm afraid to push the button again because it partially resets such that it starts to turn and then clicks back to zero every couple tenths of a mile. The click is quite audible. Very annoying. I finally got it to the point where it just doesn't move and this seems acceptable. And the two tires I ordered should be here tomorrow. One of my rears sprung a leak. I tried to deny it by putting air in every couple of days but it reached the point where I needed to put air in twice a day. Now I'm rolling around on the spare. You could say I should've just gotten it patched, but I say the tires were getting short in the tread anyway.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

half right

Hilarious little story from a rig a couple weeks ago. As long as you like racial humor. And you know basic facts about me. Otherwise, you might as well go away now.

I was out treating (another word for supervising) a job. The crew I happened to be with was made up of three operators and a HIT field engineer from Angola.

A quick explanation. HIT stands for high intensity training, which is when someone from a district that does not perform many jobs is sent to a district that performs many jobs in order to gain field experience. Principally, this means sending field engineers from overseas, especially offshore districts where jobs tend to be relatively complex (high tier), but happen infrequently (low volume). That's a big contrast from most of the US land work which is usually low to medium tier and high volume. A low volume district might perform as few as two or three jobs in a month whereas a high volume district could potentially do more than 100.

Getting back to the short story, now is the time for the racial part. The three operators all happened to be black and I'm pretty sure the field engineer from Angola is self explanatory. There aren't a lot of black people in Farmington as one can see from this handy census chart so there aren't many at work either. Thus, this was a bit of coincidence that they were all on the same job. The rig crew on duty was all white though I suppose I only highlight this point to make a comment about rig crews. Most of the crew shifts on most of the drilling rigs around here are all white. Non-white crew members tend to end up on the same shift and about half of all workover rigs are made up of all minorities. (If you worked in the business, it might become apparent why that is so, but I'm not going to explain it here.) Anyway, most of the rig crews are helpful and friendly guys (almost no women work on rigs) and this rig was no exception. (I think I've only seen one female rig hand ever.)

While we perform our job on a rig, there isn't all that much for the rig crew to be doing aside from cleaning and watching returns if they feel like it. I need to watch returns during the latter half of a job to make sure we don't have lost circulation because we eventually want to get cement back to surface so we know it fills up the entire annulus. As such, towards the end of a job, all I'm really doing (but don't tell anyone) is watching fluid flow from a pipe that goes from the well to the reserve pit. Anyway, the company man usually watches too and it’s a good time to generally joke around with him and some of the rig hands.

On this job, I was standing a little aside from everyone at one point. I often walk around a lot at this point in a job to check other things as well so I end up coming back to watch returns from different spots. While I was aside, one of the rig hands came up to me and said, "So you're about the only white boy on this crew" or something very similar to that. To which I replied, "Well, you got that half right" and walked away to check something else and laugh a bit.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

slides and a song

You know this looks like fun. More pictures.

To harken back a couple months ago, the name of that song was Crazy by a duo called Gnarls Barkley. However, you'd have to know what I'm harkening back to in order to understand entirely, but I really like the song. Of course the music video is on YouTube. Speaking of which, Mark Cuban was wrong but perhaps he's right now. Nothing like building up a record against weak opponents to get a chance for a title shot to make a mediocre boxing analogy.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

car gremlins

Oh the joys of owning a car that has no local dealership. I can't even get the tires I use in town without ordering them in advance. I think I'm lucky to find an air filter that fits at a local auto parts store. At least oil filters and fuses are pretty basic.

I've been fighting various car gremlins for quite some time now. Aside from the small oil and power steering leaks that have existed for some time, there's also a transmission leak. And possibly a radiator leak. Of course the AC hasn't worked for years and the entire HVAC system has always been a little lacking in my mind. I could do something about that, but I've made it through two summers here without AC, so why fix it now when I only expect to a get a couple more years out of this car. The front passenger window control doesn't work. The rear passenger window control doesn't work either, at least not the control on the rear door. The rear driver side window control sometimes works, sometimes not. Passenger seat controls are suspect, but I don't have to sit there. The brakes are probably close to needing new pads. I have the pads, already bought them. I just don't know where to go with them. I could do them myself with the right tools. I suppose I actually have enough tools, but they might not strictly be the right ones. It's mostly I'd like to have a real jack holding up the car, not some flat tire emergency jack. There's this weird and not-so-great sounding noise coming from my left-rear suspension when I turn to the right. My trunk light switch doesn't always close which causes the trunk light to stay on some of the time. Solution: unplug the trunk light. I had to chew through a battery in nine months to find that one out. At least Sears honored the three-year warranty. They also happened to be the only place in town that carried the type of battery my car uses. Yes, the battery need not be exactly the same, but it does need to fit. And then there's this fuse I keep blowing. I've gone through seven fuses counting the original one. The fuse is for my right tail-light, license plate lights, center console backlight, and dash backlight. It also has something to do with those funky little wipers on my headlights. That's probably why they haven't worked in a while. I've discovered that I can put in a new fuse and it will be fine until I jiggle the trunk the slightest bit. It can be fully open and shaken just a bit or closed and then opened slightly and the fuse will blow. I haven't tested what will happen if I leave the trunk closed and just try driving around. But that sure makes it seem like there's a short in a wire that might move a little when the trunk opens. Perhaps like a wire near the hinge. But all those wires look fine or are unreachable without drastic surgery. Hurray!

Only 12,000 more miles to 300,000. At the current rate I accrue miles, that'll take two years. I just might make it.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

wireline, like whatever

Perhaps you're wondering if I have a certain disdain for wireline people. (Yes, my capitalization of that department has not been consistent. I don't care.) The answer is yes, I do. While it is our original business I have found that many of the wireline people that I have met are whiny little prima donnas. That may be a slight exaggeration, but generally speaking, they like to both complain about how little they make and brag about how much they make depending on the setting. They also think that what they do is unusually hard, when it's actually unusually boring, which is perhaps why it seems hard to their feeble minds.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

personnel dept.

I know what bothered me about the end of class meeting we had yesterday. At the end of Thursday's class, we worked as groups to prepare a presentation on a real personnel problem from work. We presented them yesterday with what happened and what we might have done differently, trying to use what we've learned from the past week. There were a couple personnel people there to ask questions and then we got to have a little Q&A session with them to wrap up the class.

What bothered me was that I've been to that meeting before. I've been to it in a formal setting once before and countless informal ones at work nearly every day. The principal issue was once again staffing. We are busy. We are short-handed. Blah blah blah. It was the exact same thing. But the really galling part was to hear them talk about training people and how managers need to cultivate their own people and learn to improve communication and listening retention and so forth. And then to see one of their cell phones ring and have him step outside to answer it. We had five minutes left! Was there anything so important that it couldn't wait five minutes? Especially for a personnel manager. We were right in front of you and you walked out on us. You want to hear what employees have to say? Apparently not.

I ached to call him out right there, but I knew that anything I said would sound more than overtly hostile. I took a moment to cool off inside and realized that I would be best off saying nothing. Oh well, there will be other times for a blaze of glory.

Friday, October 06, 2006

what's a wireline?

To clarify yesterday's post. A "wireline person" is someone who works in the Wireline segment. Generally speaking, they do reservoir evaluation work to understand what is in the ground and how deep it is. There are also many other things someone in Wireline might be doing like evaluating cement jobs with a CBL or perforating or perhaps complaining.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

new hire dinner

We had dinner with a class of new hires tonight. Apparently it's all the rage for the company to have the class I'm in the same weeks in Houston as these new hire orientation classes. The class I'm in now is held in about 15 different cities all over the world and people pretty much attend the one closest to them. The new hire orientation class isn't held in quite as many places, only four I believe. I think it's just held in Houston, Paris, Dubai, and Kuala Lumpur and, as always, location is dependent on where you'll be working. Apparently they feel it’s a good chance for the new hires to meet actual employees (defined by people who aren't total personnel and recruiting cheerleaders) and of course we semi-seasoned employees have nothing but glowing remarks about everyone's future.

To give the evening some semblance of structure, we were seated by segment. The curio of my class is that there were only three (out of nineteen) of us in Well Services though this is one of the larger segments in terms of employees as well as the number of people at our table. (Actually, the real curio was that there wasn't a single Wireline person in my class despite that segment being just as large.) Since the new hire class arrived first, they all clumped together so my two compatriots and I sat at the end of the table and talked with the one newbie we were sitting next to, though at least she was interested in hearing what we had to say. So much for sprinkling our pearls of wisdom amongst the new hires. I couldn't help but size them up and listen to their conversations and wonder, just a little bit cynically, how many of them would quit or be fired by this time next year. I was also consumed by my inability to figure out who the new hire we sat next to reminded me of. She was familiar, but I couldn't place it. I'm beginning to think it was a generic composite sort of thing.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

movie randomness

I've been thinking about this line from Men In Black. I don't have any commentary to offer on it, but it's been on my mind.

Jay: Why the big secret? People are smart, they can handle it.
Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.

By the way, is it me or does John Cena look a bit Mark Wahlberg-esque in those ads for that ridiculous movie he's in.

By the way again, we're at this mediocre La Quinta because the Hilton across the street is apparently full and this is the overflow hotel. This mediocre La Quinta that doesn't have a usable in-room internet connection.

Monday, October 02, 2006


I've written before on topics that quite possibly show a certain disdain for upper-middle/lower-upper class suburbia. I recognize the inherent irony in such activities given my background and likely personal and professional destiny. There's nothing wrong with the education/hard-work attitude and becoming part of the working professional class. It's the rather unfulfilling looking consumerism that usually follows. And then there's the matter of the sustainability of the whole situation.

On an unrelated note, what is it about people with passion that makes it easier to listen to them? Does it speak to a missing passion in the lives of those doing the listening or is it simply the intrigue of a charismatic message regardless of what it is.

in houston

I like flying, especially since I started working. It's quite nice getting to travel somewhere without having to do the actual work. Since the field aspect of my job involves quite a bit of driving, driving becomes a rather tedious chore, especially on longer drives. Like driving to Albuquerque which is what I would have done if I had to actually pay for today's flight. Despite the cost of the gas, airport parking and the time it takes, it's still cheaper to drive to ABQ and fly from there than it is to fly from Farmington. But since the company was footing the bill for this trip, I had the chance to fly from Farmington to Albuquerque for the first time. Like any flight from Farmington, it was on the usual 19 passenger Beechcraft from Raytheon.

Of course, Albuquerque to Houston was on a pretty standard jet. I can't remember which one of these Embraer jets it was, but I believe it was a ERJ 145 and Continental's own site does say they use the 145, but also the 135. It was one or the other. Anyway, I have a problem with whatever plane it was. The damn aisle armrests don't move. Even the armrests on the Beechcraft move for crying out loud. Flipping the armrest up is the fastest and easiest way to get into and out of the seat which, by the way, is a skill many people could use some practice on. This is like my pet peeve about people in self-serve food lines. If you're in a plane, sit down first and then fuss with getting settled. That way you're out of the aisle and others can get by.

On the ride from Houston Intercontinental to the hotel, I went right past Minute Maid Park. Very nice looking, right next to downtown Houston, and the roof looks like a very impressive creation and probably a very necessary one in the summer if it's still going to be in the 90s in October. I also went right past Lakewood Church, which used to be the home of the Houston Rockets. It's also the home of this man whose upbeat optimism prompted the USA Today of magazines to make a cover story out of it.