Monday, February 27, 2006

Lileks made a funny

I used to read the NYtimes every morning, then flit over
to CNN or maybe the local paper to see what was happening
in the world. Now, after being steadily disgusted with
various newspapers and tvnews, my only remaining morning
ritual reads are James Lileks and Dilbert. (ok, so I'm not
well informed, shoot me.)

Today, Lileks' had the funniest morning bleat I've seen in
a while. He always seems to capture small activities with the
perfect verbage, today, he was really spot on when he bumbed
into a childhood cartoon memory, I mean we're in Proust's
cookie territory:

The memory had been sitting in a combination of chemicals and sparky-juice somewhere in my head, and it reactivated with surprising force. It wasn’t so much the recognition of the picture as the feeling of familiarity, as if I’d just read the book the other day. The sensation collapses on itself almost immediately, and you can feel the present rush in, almost as if it’s too dangerous to keep this up. You’ll get all confused. In fact, now that I see it again and again, it has lost all effect. Crack that ampule and the scent evaporates for good.

He also seems to be tivo'ing a lot of the stuff that I'm watching on the dvr, like,
air force one with Harrison ford. I watched that over the weekend and I was
struck by the way the 90's looked, always wanting a tough, youngish president who
could fly a plane (AFO, indpendence day) or one who isn't a sleaseball with a bitch
wife (american president, Dave)

Lileks makes this point much better today, with this quote from
Harrison ford's character:

Peace isn't merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice. Never again will I allow our political self-interest to deter us from doing what we know to be morally right. Atrocity and terror are not political weapons. And to those who would use them, your day is over. We will never negotiate. We will no longer tolerate and we will no longer be afraid. It's your turn to be afraid.

He is also quite physically fit AND he can fly a plane. This was the sort of person Hollywood wanted for President in 1997. Then they get one, and they completely wigged out. Ah well.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Rules from Big Picture, Small Office

One of my favorite business blogs is "Big Picture, Small Office"

It's almost always wise and funny, and I almost always learn

something when I visit there. He recently posted his "12 rules"

when someone requested that he do so after he mentioned 4 of them

in a post. Pretty good advice:


To each, I gave a parting gift: twelve things to remember when put to the test. Atop the list:

The Twelve Rules, neatly scribed and laminated, begin with what I believe is the fundamental basis for success in a senior management position and that is to remember what got you there in the first place:

- Be not simply good. Be good for something.

- Do not wish to be anything but what you are and try to be that perfectly.

-Never poke a tiger with a short stick

- Have more than you show. Speak less than you know.

- Do not choose to be wrong for the sake of being different.

- Think like a person of action. Act like a person of thought.

- Help with deeds, not words.

- Pick battles that are big enough to matter and small enough to win.

- Never cut what you can untie.

- Go out on a limb, for that is where the fruit is.

- Aim for achievement. Success will follow.

Last, but certainly not least, is the need for those who would be leaders to retain both humility and humanity:

- Remember always that, with one trifling exception, the world is composed of others.

These rules, if not original, are timeless and, I am pleased to say, continue to grace the walls of those to whom they were given.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Long trip home

I finally made it home
this week, I got my chance
to ride in the storm tossed
seas, feel the fresh cool sea
breeze, and puke my guts
out until I strained so hard
I reached that runny-nose
weeping eyes point you
normally don't reach until
after commenting "I've
never drunk this much
tequila before".

I knew it was going to be
a rough ride when the crane operator looked visibly nervous about being
able to set us down safely on the boat in the turbulant seas. He reviewed
the procedure about three times, which is about 3 times more than anyone
had ever discussed the procedure for getting onto a boat via personnel
basket before.

We were unloaded safely on the boat as the deck rolled sharply from
side to side, and it seemed pretty rough, about a "7" on the "o-shit" scale.
The captain didn't make me feel any better when he announced, "I hope
y'all don't have dates tonight, it's too rough to go fast, we'll take about
12 hours to get to galveston." O-shit meter jumped immediately to 9.

I tried everything to avoid getting sick. I could normally just go on the
back deck and feel better, but it was dark and I had to brace myself
just to stay lying safely on my bench seat, so going out on the back deck
had a definite risk of death by drowning. My other tricks were to think
of something else....old movies...check...favorite books...check...
sexual fantasies...check check.

Nothing worked. I started with the salivation, slight nausea, and then
a break for the bathroom, or as the sailors call it, "the head". It's called
the head because that's probably what spends the most time in the
toilet. It's bad enough puking when you're drunk, and the toilet is
level in the sober-centered coordinate system. But on a boat being
tossed, the toilet is actually spinning and jumping, not just appearing
to spin.

It's cool to revisit what was eaten in past 12 hours...beef corn peas...
ice sprite...I didn't eat that...

I finally reached the point where I couldn't puke anymore without
serious damage, and it was daylight and not as rough so I could venture
outside. I took the above picture of the boat's wake, and sat and basked
in the meager warmth of the sun amidst the frigid wind. Of course I
got one of the worst sunburns of my life...

Luckily the conservative cajun Nick pointed out in a post that valentines
is bunch of bunk...I showed up at home empty handed, sick and sunburnt
and said "be mine".

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Storm tossed sea

Here's a picture of the
waves of a very rough
gulf of mexico. It doesn't
look very impressive,
because I'm up on the
rig taking pictures from
100' above the water.

The waves are about
10-15' high, which isn't
bad if you're 100' up,
but if you're on a boat
can be pretty miserable.

Strangely enough, now is the rough season for the gulf, during hurricane
season, except when there are hurricanes passing through, the gulf
of mexico could be a big duck pond for all the wave action.

Right now, winter winds blow, waves crash, all under a blue sky, and I sit waiting,
unable to work until a boat can cross the storm tossed waters. Until
I work I can't go home. Prisoner of the waves.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Walking in Circles

I've walked in circles quite a bit in my life. Offshore, one
of the few ways to exercise (unless you're on a nice rig with
a gym) is to walk on the helipad. Since the helipad is usually
only 50' across, you're walking in a fairly tight circle, around
and around. I was walking last night, and I wondered how many
hours I've walked in circles on heliports, and could this explain
my difficulty in walking more than 50' in a straight line after
drinking 10 beers, or could there be another mysterious

I guessed that since 1991 I've worked about 1500 days offshore
(another 500 or so on land rigs), and I probably walked about
2/3's of those days, for an average time of an hour each time.
That makes 1000 hours, or round it down to 40 days!


Oh well, my circular walk was spoiled by that thought. A wasted

On a cheerier note the sunset was a fiery cheeseball falling into the
ocean in the west, and on the other side of the rig, two freighters
appeared to be on a collision course as they sailed towards each other.
I started walking when the two freighters were at opposite ends of the
horizon, I tromped in a circle, as the sun dove and the freighters passed
like two ships in the afternoon. I expected them to stop alongside each
other and have one captain lean out the window and say, pardon me
but do you have any gray poupon?

But of course.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Who Runs Barter Town - Master Blanco runs Barter Town

The New York times has an article today about LA governor
Blanco saying she won't allow the next lease sale if LA doesn't
get more federal help.

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 7 — Seeking more money from Washington for hurricane relief, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco entered uncharted legal territory with a threat on Monday to block oil and gas leases worth hundreds of millions to the federal treasury unless the state received its "fair share" of the revenues.

"It's time to play hardball, as I believe that's the only game Washington understands," Ms. Blanco said Monday night as she opened the second special legislative session she has called since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita....

Back in September last year I posted a similar idea, when I read that
people were saying maybe it wasn't worth it to spend the money to
rebuild Louisiana.

Rebuilding New Orleans should be part of a comprehensive
plan to restore the surrounding barrier islands and the delta,
even if it means losing some towns down in the delta, or suburbs
like St Bernard Parish. All of this can be paid for out of revenues
from offshore oil production, which averages at $4.3 billion/year.
Also, a 5% tax on gasoline refined in Louisiana would generate
billions and have the added impact of making other people build

I'm glad to see Blanco showing some leadership. It may be the wrong
direction, but it is doing something, which hasn't happened much in
the past six months.

And while it may be the wrong direction, I happen to think to agree
with MasterBlanco. $20, $40 or $60 billion dollars to rebuild the
coastline isn't that much when stretched over 30 years. $4 billion/yr
revenue could be used to payoff $40 billion in bonds easily when stretched
over 30 years. If the alternative is the destruction of southern lousiana,
MasterBlanco has the duty to shut off the oil.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Always something to write about

Sharon over at Domestic engineer pointed out in a post today
that life is never boring, there is always something to do or
watch that is interesting and something to write about.
At first I thought to leap the self-pitying, "but I'm working
offshore, and I'm bored"

But then again she's right, people are pretty interesting if you
watch them. It's always interesting offshore how people fall
into stereotypes, mostly because almost all the jobs on the rig
are pretty standardized, so you can call out on the PA on any
rig in the world "pick up driller!" and the guy that does the drilling
will pickup the phone. And he'll be pretty similar seeming to
every driller on any rig in the world. Even in india, they are likely
to be tobacco chewing rednecks. They just have curry for lunch
instead of chicken fried steak.

I've been on enough drilling rigs to have a definite groundhog
day feeling (the movie, not the day). Things tend to endlessly
repeat, same processes and procedures, the people look and
sound similar. (most of the crews are from small towns in Mississippi).
At one point in the 90's when I was traveling from rig to rig to rig. I
wondered if there was really only one rig, and the actors on the rig
just made slight adjustments to their coveralls and hard hats to make them look
slightly different. I would go back home for a few days, attempt to
drink all the beer in the world, then travel back to the rig after the
actors were changed slightly.

Ok. So my lifestyle wasn't the best back then. I spent all my money
on booze and women, and pissed away the rest. Maybe lack of vitamins
and too much alchohol added to my jaded perspective.

Now, since I travel offshore to rigs so seldem, maybe 20 days a year instead
of 200, offshore life seems...even worse. The people can be interesting,
one guy owns a software and webhosting company that he runs on his days
off. There is no end to the bullshit sessions and joke I'm sure
it could be fun, but now it is something to be endured, like going to church
when I was a boy.

Oh well, Sharon may be right life is interesting, and I'm sure there is poetry
in roughnecks, but I don't feel it. I'm bored.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Home, home again

So, I'm back offshore again.
Here's a picture as the boat
I'm on arrives at the rig after
a lovely 7 hour jaunt through
the wind and waves of the gulf
of mexico.

I didn't get sick though. My drammanine lasted until the
last two hours, then I headed out for the back deck of the boat.
As long as I can see the horizon and not smell the diesel/lysol/vomit
smell inside the boat, I actually do ok on boat rides. Of course I'll
never pay actual money for a cruise or to go fishing.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Letter to the Senator

I got peeved when I saw a news article saying that the US supports
muslims against the cartoonist in denmark, so I sent an email to Kay
Bailey Hutchison, one of the two texas senators.:

Dear Senator Hutchison,

This is regarding the cartoons depicting mohammed in Denmark.

Yahoo news has an article saying that the US supports muslims against
the cartoonists.

"These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims," State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said in answer to a question. "We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable."

I don't think that the official US position should support people who are willing to threaten to kill cartoonists just because a cartoon depicts Mohammed. What else are muslims offended by? Women's rights. People's right to vote. Freedom.

If we are going to cave in and be politically correct when people get offended at a cartoon, why bother sending soldiers to Iraq. We should just convert to islam now and get it over with.

Can you send a note over to the state department to remind them that we are on the side of the free press and freedom of speach?