Saturday, March 31, 2007

random music rant

This seems like an appropriate time to rant about nothing in particular. Out in the field, your radio station choices are slightly limited by broadcast strength and what particular canyon you're in. The result is that it's usually some country station or the one pop/hip-hop/top-20-ish station in the area. Sorry country music, outside of a couple select songs, you're just not for me. However, this does mean I often hear Fergie and all her songs where she spells a word as part of the lyrics. In Here I Come, Fergalicious, and Glamorous there's at least one instance where a word is spelled out. And in Fergalicious, she spells 'tasty' with an 'e' so it ends up being 'tastey'. That's just lazy. Use a thesaurus if you're desperate for a six-letter word that means delicious. Go with 'savory' or even 'delish' will work.

The biggest problem, spelling aside, is that this is simply song filler. These aren't meaningful lyrics, though in all fairness, who listens to pop music for meaningful lyrics. That's what depressing rock is for. Back on topic, this is garbage music with no substance. It's sold on sex appeal (what a surprise) and a not-quite-articulated idea of empowerment. Another Fergie song that has lots of filler, though thankfully doesn't spell out any words, is London Bridge. Look up the lyrics and you'll see what I mean.

Currently, it seems like Glamorous is on the radio quite a bit these days. If you've had the good fortune of never hearing it, here are some lyrics. When 'glamorous' is spelled out, the first four letters are said about one second apart, then a brief pause, then the next two letters about one second apart, then the last three letters quickly. The only thing that makes this song bearable is that I imagine that 'cromulent' is being spelled out instead and I'll sing over the lyrics at the appropriate times. For those unfamiliar with the origin of cromulent, see here and here (definitions one and two only, though the example sentence is the third one is good for a laugh). I think it would be a good place to start with a Weird Al parody, though London Bridge probably has more potential as an entire song.

Friday, March 30, 2007

snow again?

I suppose I was wrong about it not snowing in town again this season. This morning, I woke to this view out my bedroom window. For perspective, and rather by coincidence, I took this photo yesterday of the very same tree. The trees are blossoming and it seemed like nice picture to take. Now, I'm pretty certain that it will not snow in town again this season.

If you look at that latter photo closely, you'll notice that the shadow are short, indicating that the picture was taken in the middle of the day. The principle reason I might be home in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday is what? Work of course. More specifically, going home from work because I was working all night. More accurately, I wasn't at the office of course, but here instead. They did something silly like drop the casing and then weren't able to fish it out of the hole. We were there to set some plugs (see the last four words of the definition) so they could start fresh.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

the terrible secret of space

This brings me back a few years.

Just what is the terrible secret of space? Does it really matter?

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Last Saturday, I was at a colleague's house for a barbeque. It happened to be only field personnel there except for our district manager and he only stopped by for a little bit while cruising around town on his Harley. (He has one of those with a skinny, little front tire and a big, fat rear tire. The general layout is like so, but his rear tire is much, much wider. If I ever remember, I'll take a picture for what we'll call posterity.) Not surprisingly, I was the only one who didn't drink though I was surprised to be the only non-smoker as well. Someone who I thought didn't smoke apparently does. Also not surprising, while it was late when I left, I would've had to stay much longer to have made it till the end.

Events like this remind me that I'm not a normally outgoing person. I do fine in social settings and largely avoid making an ass of myself. In fact, in the right setting, I'm lots of fun, or so I'm told. In the smoke and drink-enough-beer-to-make-me-wonder-how-everyone-managed-to-get-home setting, I'm a fish out of water. (For frequent readers with good memories, this is closely related with why the hype of going to Vegas is much more fun than actually going.) I was amused when I left and one of the guys asked me if I was ok to drive, so I asked him how many beers he had seen me drink.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

music and money

I'm a big fan of songs where the singer is slightly down, but the lyrics are ultimately optimistic. Songs like Time Like These (especially the acoustic version) by Foo Fighters, Save Yourself by Sense Field, and Breathing by Lifehouse. (The subject matter of that last one is up for debate, but I can imagine that the "you" in the song is whoever I want it to be.)

This has me a bit conflicted about where I want to go from here. Musical tastes are often a reflection of someone's personality. I consider myself to be an optimist in the 'we can make the world a better place' mold. However, I like some music with a darker edge like Eminem or System of a Down. There certainly is a darker side to my personality. It's one I've explored a great deal in a theoretical sense, but very rarely in a practical sense. In other words, I've given a great deal of thought about how this part of me would manifest itself in certain situations, but had few occasions to see it in action.

But I'm not interested in an exposition about my personality and I doubt you are especially given the viewing-weighted average reader. I'm much more troubled by what I see in the Weekend Linkfest. My book reading has largely been replaced by this sort of hodgepodge self-education on business and economic matters. The sense I get is not a good one. Personally, I'm currently conservatively positioned with respect to the vagaries of market exposure. Housing, on average (Bay Area is not average), still has some way to fall. The long-term debt situation is not one that seems like it can end well. But I'm still an optimist! Just not unnecessarily so.

Monday, March 12, 2007

on waiting and rules

Waiting. That is the worst part of this job. Well, the worst part that isn't explicitly any particular person's fault. Right now, I'm set up to go on a job on a drilling rig, which means the rig will call when they're ready for us. This time yesterday, based on their progress, the estimate was that the job was going to go this morning. In cases like that, I don't set an alarm and I wait for a phone call to wake me up or I simply wake up on my own. I think you can figure out which one happened. As it was, I ate a leisurely breakfast and went into work to get a few things done and see what we knew about the rig's progress. Sometime tonight, probably before midnight was the word. Given that, I came back home and did whatever it is I do here and basically killed time waiting for the job to call. A couple hours ago, I got a call from work and figured it was time to go do what it is we do. No dice, it was just an update. The rig had been broken down for most of the day and the estimate was that the job would now go tomorrow morning. It looks like I'll be going to bed whenever I can fall asleep and wait for a phone call to wake me up again.

If you're thinking that it sounds like I scored a free day off from work today, then you're missing the point. For starters, I rarely spend most of the day not at the office even if I know I'm on a job that might go that evening. Lately, there hasn't been as much for me to do around the office so I knew I wasn't going to fall behind on anything urgent if I didn't put in a full office day. Either way, it's not really a day off from work if you didn't know about it in advance and spent most of it expecting to be a phone call away from the office. It disrupts your schedule of when you're going to rest and eat and sleep and whether you can start that load of laundry without getting a phone call in the middle of the wash cycle. Trust me, getting that phone call and having to put your wet clothes in your bathtub when you go to work isn't all that great. (To explain, I live in an apartment and thus share three washers and three dryers with 40 other units and don't want to be one of those jerks who leave his clothes in the dryer for two days, especially not the dryer that doesn't have a timer on it.) Additionally, if we're now going on a job tomorrow that should have gone today, it means we can't be on some other job tomorrow. People and equipment have effectively sat idle for a day waiting for a job that, given the rig, still might not even go tomorrow morning. Most of us would rather not be forced to procrastinate and instead get the job done as soon as possible. There are certain things I do procrastinate about like my taxes (don't worry, they're done), buying plane tickets, and expressing personal feelings, but doing my job isn't one of them. It drives everyone just a little bit crazy waiting for a job to call.

This post was originally intended to be about rules. Part of the waiting problem is that the wage guys who are DOT drivers can't get hours as easily. They can't simply hang around the yard all day doing maintenance because then they might not have enough hours left to drive when the job calls. Therefore, they have to be at home off the clock and twiddle their thumbs like me, except I know I'm getting paid either way. They don't have the luxury (in this scenario) of being salaried. There are ways around that and it would be naïve to think that DOT driver logs are a perfect reflection of their on and off-duty status. As a supervisor in this capacity, I can never ask someone to alter their logs and clock their time in a certain way. However, I can keep track of how long we've been driving and working and figure out if people should, in theory, be over-logged and thus unable to drive. And when they say their hours are still good, not a lot of questions get asked. If someone is working in the yard, they should be on-duty, not-driving and that doesn't count against driving time, but it does count against overall on-duty time. That person might drive a truck that night and then not have enough hours to drive the truck in after the job. Say person number two is at home working on his fence, so he is logged as off-duty. Then he goes in to drive a truck on the same job that night like the other guy and then when they're all done, this second guy has enough hours to drive in. Both guys have been up all day and night and both may be physically and mentally capable of driving, but one can drive and the other cannot. That's what happens when you try to guess what the rigs will do.

There are plenty of non-DOT, company-specific policies for me, as a non-DOT driver, to violate. And I'm know I've broken many of them, some of them several times, and a few of them practically every time I go to the field. Compliance is hard and time consuming and sometimes not the safest thing to do. I'm put into the field in a supervisory role and asked to make a lot of judgment calls on my own. If I feel it is safer to not follow a particular company rule, then I won't follow it. This hardly makes me, or anyone of us, free-wheeling, shoot-from-the-hip, reckless people. It just makes us people who would rather get the job done without being bound to policies that sometimes don't help. In the end, there are so many rules, procedures, policies, and standards that you're practically guaranteed to break one of them and not even realize it. Sometimes, it makes me think about 1984 except the worst thing they can do is fire me, not torture me with rats. I think.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

cleaning out the car

I have more or less finished cleaning out my old car. In addition to finding an extra $0.70 under the seat, there were some other odd goodies inside. Like an Eagle Card that expired in March 2004. Yeah, that brings back memories, though I don't remember buying one my senior or late junior year of college. Buried under the napkins and a box of tissues I didn't even know were in the glove compartment were some old AAA maps. One was even older than the car, but not older than me. I have also come away with some spare light bulbs and lots of fuses. Apparently, I bought more than I needed when I was trying to figure out my electrical problems from a few months back. And who wants supplies from a 21 year-old first aid kit?

Items of more questionable value (hey, that old gauze is still good right?) include the tow hitch, car jack, and the floor mats. The floor mats might be keepers if they are even close to fitting my new car though even I can admit that that is rather unnecessary. The car jack is probably of little value to me and there's a good chance it stays with the car to the junk yard. The tow hitch isn't much use to me either, but I can probably find someone who wants it. Like you?

Friday, March 09, 2007

plug this (whatever that means)

And now we're finally done with that plug and abandonment. Over the course of the last couple weeks, we have gone out to the well being plugged on what I believe has been six different days. The workover rig has been there for over 30 working days (which means six weeks since they don't do weekends). The process was so drawn out because of hydrogen sulfide, one of the oilfield's most favorite friends. To summarize, read the first sentence in the Occurance section and most of the Toxicity section. Essentially, the well was producing mostly water (instead of mostly gas) with lots of hydrogen sulfide in it. Even if the well was still producing enough gas, the water flow problem may have been severe enough to justify plugging the well. See, produced water cannot simply be put down the drain. It needs to be disposed of and that can be costly, especially with sulfur in it. Additionally, a large portion of the production tubing was badly corroded and could not be removed from the well. This necessitated the use of a coiled tubing unit to plug the production tubing. It made for quite a spectacle and now we'll never have to go back there.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

but do you know why you're asking?

At work, I often find that I give cagey and non-responsive answers to questions about myself. It usually isn't because I don't like the questions, but more that I don't think the question is sincere. I tend to feel that the question is simply meant to ascertain some nugget about my personal life so the new factoid about me can be gossiped about. If that's the case, then I'm not going to give fodder to anyone. I would much rather someone actually be sincerely interested in the answer to their question, even if it was for some ulterior purpose, because then at least they'd be doing something substantial with the information. Either ask because you're interested in me as a person or you're interested in making better decisions about your own work or life. Either start meaningful dialogues or none at all.

I'll gladly answer what we all know to be trivial questions from people who I already know care about me. I appreciate those conversations because hearing those peoples' voices is what I care about.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

ford fusion v6 se fwd

I recently realized, mostly because I have been asked more than once, if I had decided what kind of car I'm getting. Yes, I did decide. Oh, you want me to actually tell you? Very well. I'm getting the car I test drove. Well, not that exact one, because it didn't have the options I wanted. It will be a 2007 Ford Fusion V6 SE with FWD and the only non-standard options I'm opting for are ABS and traction control. And since my color choice is somehow a window into my soul, it will be what they call dark blue pearl with the camel interior.

The other exterior color options were a couple different reds (merlot and redfire), purple (amethyst), black, and several variations on what is really gray (alloy, silver birch, dune pearl, tungsten silver). Black is the color I would choose if I wanted to pretend I was driving a stealth fighter and while I may feel that way at first, I suspect it would grow tiresome. To make the stealth look more complete, I would need to get the black interior and some black leather gloves and wear a motorcycle helmet while driving (to pretend I'm flying). Purple is out for obvious reasons, especially when it's being called amethyst. Red is also out, though the merlot, despite the name, has a nice deep hue but with this weird touch of pink. In the end, it's just too much of a color I'm not that fond of from a school and business rival perspective though I will make exceptions for especially worthy individuals. I've driven a gray car and it's nice, but it's time for something new. Like blue. As for the interior, black has the stealth fighter problem, stone is just more gray, so camel it is with a bit more color and personality.

More broadly, the Fusion is the right amount of car for me. It has all the features that I will use. Who needs satellite radio for a 10 minute drive to work? If you get bored with your own thoughts that quickly, then you've got a lot of other problems. More importantly, all the negatives and shortcomings that I see with the car are things I can live with. The large turning radius? I'm not slaloming through some urban environment into parallel parking spots. The high trunk line that limits rear visibility? As long as that elf on a mini-bike isn't tailgating me, it shouldn't be an issue. The turn signal stalk? A subtle hand position shift can easily take care of that. There is one thing I didn't mention from the test drive, which is a delayed click sound when using the power locks and some of the other controls. The control will respond immediately, but almost a full second later there is a click as if a module was cycling through. However, the controls it occurs on are not ones I would use or adjust very often.

Since a car with the specific features, let alone color, I wanted wasn't on the lot, I placed an order. I have already put down my deposit and they will keep me posted on the car's progress, but it will be several weeks before it arrives.