Friday, July 31, 2009

damn you facebook!

I'm in. Facebook has sucked me in. Let's see how disciplined I can be. I'm not your 'friend' if I haven't actually spoken with you in the last year. Hey, I'll make it the last three years and e-mails count just to expand the realm beyond about 18 people.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Jack, Ivy - Congratulations.
Jack - Consider New Orleans for the bachelor party.

Monday, July 27, 2009

things learned in VIX - not a people person (yet)

I am not a people person. This goes far beyond the whole eye contact thing too. Perhaps more accurately, I should say that I am not a salesman.

I can be a people person in a sense. If I enjoy something, believe in it, and/or am enthusiastic, then sure, I like speaking to people about whatever it is and trying to teach them about it or convince them how great it is. And I like to believe that I can be fairly convincing. (Yes yes, people like passion, are drawn to it, love a captivating speaker.) However, for the most part, people kind of bother me. I know, what a terrible thing to say, especially for someone who ostensibly works for a service company.

Frankly, I find most people boring and predictable. I have trouble listening to people because I usually know what they are going to say or cna at least figure it out when they are half-way through and then need to fidget through the rest of their speech. Suffice to say, my listening skills need a lot of work.

The good news? I understand the need to be polite and professional. I certainly want to be treated professionally so I try to do likewise and while I do not always succeed, I think I know when I'm being a jerk, though it's usually too late to stop the jerkiness from emanating from my lips. Patience. So under-valued by me for so long.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

that was an interesting weekend

That was certainly an interesting weekend. A lot of good experiences. And who says you cannot wear black sneakers, white socks, pleated dark slacks, and a bright yellow t-shirt on an airplane? I was styling in a major way.

New Orleans has a good feel to it. There were some touristy aspects, but it's a very real, somewhat gritty city. And needs to be moved 50 feet higher.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

no comment

A quality example of no one taking responsibility for what is obviously some sort of mistake.

more flying anecdotes

Dysfunctional boarding seems to be a Continental Europe problem. My Delta flight today went something like this: board business class, then total free for all.

And, for the first time that I can remember, some (but not all - this is important) of the passengers applauded when we landed at JFK. Why? I suppose general gratitude but it was not a turbulent or unusual flight. The clapping seemed to be mostly coming from Hungarians.

JFK probably wishes it could have a do over with the way it is laid out.

We landed early so our gate was occupied so they had us disembark on the tarmac onto "people movers." When they said that, I thought, how amusing it would be to have those horizontal escalators going all the way across the tarmac. Then I thought, why not just call them buses. Ah, they had their reasons. When I saw these vehicles, they were definitely not buses.

I am sitting right next to a help desk where most of the people coming need to pick-up unaccompanied minors. People get very tense about this. Listen, you (apparently) only get to send one person to pick up the child or children. It does not matter how many minors you need to get, only one person can go. That's it. Don't yell at the JetBlue lady. You can take it up with TSA because those are their rules.

Monday, July 13, 2009

the cementing rush

There is a certain sort of thrill that goes with every cement job we do. Admittedly, it's a somewhat nervous and constantly pacing thrill wrought from the many ways which I know (and have unfortunately seen) a job go badly. But on every job that I am on, there is a definite rush of sorts during the job that is overtaken by mild relief when we finish. (While I no longer work in a direct field position, I still have reasons to be in the field, mostly for audits and/or some degree of technical supervision.)

I suppose this is perhaps somewhat hard for non-industry people to understand. It might even be hard for non-cementers to understand. During a cement job, the clock is ticking. Now, you have tests that give you a decent idea of when that clock will run out and when that cement will no longer be pumpable. It may take longer than you expect, but it could be shorter, which is why there's always some planned buffer time. But once you start mixing and pumping, there's no turning back. Either finish successfully or reap very serious consequences. Most serious consequences involve at least a 12 hour delay, but that could easily surpass several days depending on the circumstances of the failure. Either way, no one is happy and hopefully, you're in a position for a do over.

Most operations allow for some degree of stopping, sometimes even an indefinitely long stop. Cementing not so much. Depending on what you're pumping, it's very risky to stop for more than a couple minutes and anything more than 30 minutes spells near-certain failure. All this means that it has to be done right, in one continuous go, and it better be right the first time. Hence the rush.

On a recent job, we skirted that not-so-fine line between total disaster and not total disaster. We worked through multiple 'issues' is what I'm going to call them that resulted in a couple unplanned changes to the execution of the job. Yes, that's suitably vague. Suffice to say, the end result was good, but I won't pretend that how we got there was very pretty. At one point, I was standing on top of one of our units (which is a normal place to be) during one of these issues and I stopped to look at something and I could feel my heart just pounding away. A combination of focus, thrill, nerves, and terror were coursing through me. No second chances, no stopping for long, this needs to get done now. It's the cementing rush.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

fly swatting machine

We have a slight fly problem at work. I have a fly swatter. My problem is solved. Now I just need to decide what to do with my fly collection.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Apparently, I'm on Facebook. I guess I did sign up a while back and then I didn't do anything else. So if you've recently (or three months ago) requested me to be your friend, then congratulations, you found me. I haven't rejected your friendship. I just haven't fully entered into the Facebook experience. And have doubts that I ever will. But Twitter!

From the regrettably cancelled series Life:
Crews: She's 22 years old. Aren't they all on MySpace, YourSpace, FaceBook, FacePlace?
Reese: How do you know about that?
Crews: Everybody knows about that. Don't you want a whole bunch of new friends. Don't you want them all to know where you are all the time?

Monday, July 06, 2009


It better be a tasty cake. I promise to comment politely about how nice the design is.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

some things learned in VIX - a start

I have been struggling with this post for several months. Before I even left Victoria, I was trying to reflect back on the very strange, far too fast, and somewhat disappointing experience of my time in Texas and capture the essence of what I learned. So many things not done. So many mistakes made. So much growing up thrust upon me.

But I don’t really know what to say. I was the 'Engineer-In-Charge' and yes, I really was in charge of the location. It was a management experience with a very steep learning curve that I am still climbing. I dealt with people quitting, lay-offs, hiring, closure, retirees and a couple cases that pretty well rocked my world early on there. One guy was let go for what was technically work abandonment. Another was so strange, that I’m not sure how to properly characterize it here. As always, I need to be vague, but I did learn a bit about the law during the process.

After those first two 'atypical events' everything else seemed tame in comparison. Even the terminations of a pair of people for very different reasons, but ultimately both related to some type of failure on their part. Yes, that's suitably vague and probably misleading.

Employee discipline is a very strange thing to me. During my time, I only formally wrote up two people. I should have written up more. And I definitely should have had more formal sit-downs with people. No official letter (sort of), but an official warning. I'm not really of the disciplinarian mold which may strike some people as odd, but it's largely ineffective with me so I mostly view it as ineffective on others, even though I know I am a poor example of a typical person.

This is just a start. Hopefully, it won't take me five more months to capture the rest of what is still rolling around my head about my time in Victoria.

turkish coffee is really dark coffee

Apparently, Turkish coffee is really dark, thick coffee. And apparently, every summer, many Turkish people leave Germany for the summer crossing through Serbia on their way home. So many cars. So long at the border.