Sunday, March 22, 2009

the monkey on my back...

Is gone.

Since I arrived here, there has been one job for one client that has been principally under my purview. One big job for one big client that had a lot of people on our side very concerned. Add to that a fair bit of design drama, four major redesigns, no less than six internal conference calls, four pre-job wellsite visits, and a man on the client side who reports to their CEO saying that they considered this a very critical job and you have a recipe for way more e-mails and cooks in the kitchen than strictly necessary.

And now it's done. The cement is in the ground, the right amount is back to surface, the post-job testing looks good and life goes on. You never really know the true quality of a cement job for several years as its main purpose is what we call zonal isolation which should in theory last for the life of the well which is something usually measured in decades. But we've done what we can and we'll get some more information on how well we've done in the coming weeks but at this point we cannot do anything that will change what is downhole.

Now, I can finally move in.

Friday, March 13, 2009

said to his girlfriend

A couple weeks ago, my predecessor was talking on the phone with his girlfriend about going to the gym the next morning and this is what he said:

I have to go out with a client who wants to drink so I don't think I can get up at 6:30 tomorrow.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

AIG = screw job to taxpayers

Why oh why is this happening? I really like the first two comments on that post too.

formatting issues

I'm not sure why, but I'm having formatting issues when I move a text file of mine that I draft entries in between my Windows work laptop and my personal MacBook laptop. Also, the spell checker in this program is flagging nearly every word, possibly under the belief that the IP address it is seeing indicates my language preference. Oh well.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

why aren't we angrier?

Why aren't we angrier? As I read and understand more about the economy, the factors that led us here, the difficulties that are being faced, and the actions that have been taken thus far to remedy the situation, I have to wonder why people aren't outraged by the voluminous amounts of theft and idiocy going on. This is in-the-streets-with-torches-and-pitchforks territory that we're in. But instead, we're so muted, so mopey about the whole situation. I know I've been going to The Big Picture well a lot lately, but it's well written and cuts through the usual crap of most business news outlets. Just read this scathing piece on AIG's situation. Why are we helping them?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


I have always disliked incurring what I feel are unnecessary expenses for my employers. They have invested a great deal in me and they pay me for working here. Given that, I generally dislike overly schmoozy lunches with clients. I understand the point of client interaction and wining and dining, but it's not something I enjoy, but simply something I have learned to fake my way through. (I'll explain that in another post.) How nice lunch is or how many beers (or blended coffee drinks) I have with someone has zero impact on what happens in the field. Either we do a good job in the field or we do not. Lunch, dinner, and socializing have nothing to do with it. And yet, it does. (As a side note, in order to look semi-normal at many of these functions, I have probably had as much alcohol in the last month as I did in the prior five years. That probably says more about how little I drink during my own time, then any Bacchanalian partying that goes on here.)

The boozy behavior of excess is one of the root causes of why we're seeing these oh so minor economic problems at the moment. I had a lunch with a client that took three hours. That's three hours of me doing no 'real' work. Sure, we swapped stories and talked shop, but nothing specific. Now, service was slow and I'll never recommend going to that restaurant again, but three hours is an almost soul-crushing amount of time to spend at lunch. I guess that's what you get for eating at a Mexican restaurant called Gringos in Hungary.

The problem is the disconnect between what people do and what really matters. I was reading an excellent post that had some good comments in it from The Big Picture/. The post was on the disparity between how some financial advisors (or whatever ridiculous titles they give themselves) perform versus how they get paid.

It makes you wonder why you'd pay anyone to manage your money.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

blending in

In the context of one of my recent posts, I would have thought that, given my racial background, I would not generally look like anyone's doppelganger. Except at Berkeley where there's a club for us and there were four of us in my graduating class of my major.

Many years ago, my family was at a large family reunion that someone on my dad's side of the family had put together. I remember feeling out of place. Admittedly, I often felt out of place when I was younger since I was fairly shy and generally liked staying in my protective bubble of familiarity. But I remember thinking that the people at the reunion, all of whom I was presumably related to in some way, didn't look like my mother, brother or me. It wasn't an issue of belonging, but simply a mental acknowledgement that this was one of the most relatively homogeneous gatherings that I had ever been to. Back then, my youthful mind did not use such words.

Several years after that, while on vacation in Thailand, my family was at a birthday celebration for my mother's father. I remember thinking that the people there, again, all of whom I was presumably related to, didn't look like my father, brother or me. It was again a relatively homogenous group and I was not fully part of that homogeneity.

These were interesting experiences in the context of my youthful dandelion wine days. While suburbia is not generally a paragon of diversity, people in the neighborhood and at school were different enough. Growing up, the area was predominantly white with enough Asian, mostly Chinese, families that I was more or less never around all of one group of people. People were people and they were from wherever they were. And while I fit in, I never really blended in.

This is what I have come to realize. I can be accepted and integrate myself in a large number of places, but I will never be from those places and I will never be one of those people. There are probably few places where I will ever blend in and that is a good thing to me.

It is also one of the things I like about working here. I have had the chance to meet and work with people from all over the world. On my recent trip, amongst a group of four engineers, they spoke Spanish to one another though it was only the first language for two of them (and I was not in Spain). One of the other two was Dutch and the other was French-Italian. Amongst so many polyglot colleagues, I do feel a bit embarrassed that I have not shed my one tragically American characteristic of only speaking one language. In my new district, where at least 14 nationalities are represented, I am the only native English speaker so people ask me about pronunciation and grammar since business is conducted in English: the international second language of the world.

I will eventually fit in here, but I will never blend in. And while this is a great chance to pick up a second language, I'm not sure if Hungarian is a good language to start with given its limited utility in the rest of the world and the apparent fact that every other word is fifteen letters long. And while no one at the base is German, for various business and regional reasons, I've probably got not terrible odds of learning a bit.

At lunch last week with one of my colleagues here, she (who is Polish) remarked that I wasn't a typical American. I told her that I hoped to never be a typical American, especially in the parlance of what most non-Americans think of when they think of a 'typical American'. This is a jumping off point for a whole bevy of interesting ideas dealing with America's role and perceived place in the world. And that is for another day.