In Case You've Wondered

My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.

If you're here for the stories, I started another blog:

One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.

I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

I Haven't Done This In Awhile

I was hesitant to start blogging. I'm generally a very private person, so placing my thoughts out for anyone to read was a little out of my comfort zone. 

Anyway, my visitor counter is well past 130,000 visitors, which astounds me. 

So, for those that visit, I appreciate your effort. Time is a precious thing and spending time here is trading something that is invaluable for a few of my scribblings. 


Thursday, May 29, 2014

What Do You Think?

The V.A. incompetence, and corruption, are now all over the news, with the demand Shinseki resign, or is fired.

What? From everything I'm reading, this activity was hidden by the minions of the V.A. and even the White House knew there were complaints, but didn't act. Why are they after him?

I want him to stay, expose the vermin, fire those that need to be fired, recommend prosecution for those that need to be prosecuted, and those that worked with these reprobates to come forward; now that they have a forum to voice their grievances and absolve their name of the dishonor that hangs over all involved with Veteran's Administration.

If this happens, the families of some veterans will have closure, suffering veterans will be treated and the damned media will be forced to put away their cheerleader outfits, or face the wrath of those that respect veterans.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Some Songs Make You Think

I have no explanation, and if you don't like Jimi Hendrix, you don't have to play the video.

Right Before Work Observation

Occasionally, I'll spend a little time before leaving to work looking at the weather radar, or the earliest of the news. The radar loads without problems, but too many news outlets don't.

What's the problem? Junk advertising, pop ups, roll downs, roll overs, photos, embedded videos and animated gifs. They hog resources, slow down loading and I follow my initial thought, which is to close the site and move on...just like some blogs I attempt to read.

When it comes to reading, the less distractions, and waits are most important to me. I think that's one of the reasons Matt Drudge has such a successful site. In moments, I can scan through dozens of links, without distractions.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Oriskany (Re-Post)

I posted this a few years ago. At that time, it was a memory of a curiosity. 

While reading a post on Old NFO's blog, the ship became more than just a floating city of steel. 

A friend's father landed a jet on this carrier back in the early sixties. This is probably one of the last photos of the Oriskany as it was towed to final preparation before being turned into an artificial reef. Much of the ship had been removed, but it was still a magnificent sight as it passed our project location a few years ago.

It now sits on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Due to it's size, the island structure is around 80 feet deep, which is at the limits of sport diving. The flight deck is around 145 feet deep, which makes much of the carrier beyond the depths of sport divers.

* I have to add how big it was. what's most amazing is that one of the reasons for decommisioning was it wasn't big enough for modern requirements.

Song of the Media

Between the incomplete stories, bloviating, plastic surgery, ignorance and tenacity fitting a flock of buzzards, the media has morphed from a news source to inanity.

Costly Errors

Incompetence is rampant in government today. The news reveals the worst errors, such as accidentally revealing the name of the C.I.A. station chief in Afghanistan. 

How bad is this? I really don't know, but the chief will definitely need replacing; but with who? Any other operative he's been in contact with is not safe; neither are people he associated with. This probably eliminates anyone there with experience and first hand knowledge.

While this may seem to be a faux-pas by some, the final outcome could lead to deaths, compromises in our own national security and political turmoil in the country we've supposedly spent billions to help. When you add the monetary costs, the possibility of careers being over, and the loss of any covert operation, the final result may be something tremendously more destructive than just a clerical error.

None of this would have happened, if Obama hadn't decided on a photo-op in an attempt to boost his poll ratings. I personally blame him, and his administration, for making a mockery of an office that's supposed to be held by people of integrity.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Blues

Mark O'Conner, Frank Vignola and John Burr of the Hot Swing Trio.

Start the video, and you have time to make some coffee, or tea, round up some cookies and then can enjoy the music as you take your first sip.

You'll like it.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Honor and Sorrow Again

I've been honored during my life. It's an honor that too many ignore, yet every moment of freedom they are graced with was hard won by those that may have silently bled to death; alone, in pain, fighting for their last moments and thinking of those they'd never see again.

Never forget those that honored you with the greatest sacrifice. Remember them, and those that fought with them in the unending war against tyranny. It's a war never to be won, if we ever forget.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Okay. I Do Have Nerd Tendencies

I set my alarm for 2:00 in the morning. Why? Because Earth will pass through the debris left by a comet, and there's a possibility of a kick-ass meteor shower.

I hope it's not cloudy.


I woke at 2:00 am, went outside, and was rewarded with a sky completely overcast. I spent a few minutes watching, just in case the shower was splendid enough to allow a few meteors to appear below the clouds, and finally gave up. 

Was it wasted time? Nope. No time is wasted in doing something you enjoy. 

Getting Down To Brass Tacks

The V.A. scandal is simmering; some might say the pot is about to boil over.

From my personal observations from people I know, the V.A. has always been a bureaucratic pile of crap. The incompetence, and lack of compassion, led to many unpleasant experiences.

Now, with the evidence people died, due to neglect, it's apparent the V.A. has passed incompetence into the realm of criminal negligence.

So, we now have a group of government employees that pissed off those that were taught to create mayhem with as little resources as possible. When you add the possibility of terminal illnesses and the intense anger of neglect, future events can be really, really ugly.

I don't know about you, but if I worked for the V.A., I'd be spending a lot of time looking over my shoulder.

Strange, But That's My Life

I've found steel shavings in my uniforms. Since the uniform service washes huge loads, it's not uncommon for steel shavings to end up in shirts, or pants, and they become an annoyance during the day.

Today, I had that familiar feeling just below my right nipple ( Yes, I wrote "nipple". Get over it.) so, I unbuttoned my shirt to find the small shrapnel of steel and remove it from my shirt.

Lo, and behold, there was not small piece of steel; there was a fire ant; holding on with its pinchers and stinging to abandon.

I know you're asking: "How in the world did that happen?"

If you figure it out, write a comment. I have no idea.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's Not Even June...

...and it's already time for potassium/mineral supplements and heat cramps. Blech!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Strange Blog Thing

I check my blog this morning, and the controls are in Russian. WTF?

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Watch What You Do


Enough of That. It's Time for Cute Babies and Dogs

Ignore The Woman Behind the Curtain

Politics are full of subterfuge, obfuscation and downright lies. Both parties have their experts at the process and both parties like to play the general public like they're rubes at the casino.

With that in mind, any attempt to portray Hillary Clinton as a Presidential contender is nothing more than a political sleight of hand. They'll tease the public for months, too many will believe what they read, and she'll either announce she's not running, or they'll crucify her before the nomination. At that time, they'll come up with their favored politician and start the hard sell, with half-truths and outright lies. Bill Clinton will insure she doesn't have a chance, since his ego is "smarter" than his mind.

The Democratic Party has nothing to offer, will have nothing to offer and anyone believes otherwise is as dumb as a box of rocks.

The Republican Party won't be much better; especially if the entrenched Washington denizens of the Ivory Tower continue to ignore those that can save their party.

So what do you do? Hold your nose, vote for the best of the bad choices and pay close attention to your representatives. They can be manipulated, since they have to go home; sooner or later.

Some Stevie Ray to Get You Out of Your Stupor

If this doesn't help, nothing will.


I've spent all my adult life either working in the oil patch, or in construction. Like all businesses, competence is demanded and the lack of competence means losses, or even bankruptcy.

I guess it was the luck of the draw that led me to a career where every day of success means another day closer to being out of a job. Doing things right leads to an end and there's no guarantee there's some place to go afterward.

I've worked for companies with good people, a good profit margin and incompetent managers. The result is always the same and many good people were hurt in the process. Still, the incompetent managers always rationalize their errors and deny their culpability. Regardless, they were responsible and they only can deny their responsibility.

Government entities are filled with incompetent people. The worse are at the top, because it's there were they can hide for the longest period of time. How they get there is not nearly as important as why they're allowed to remain. Usually, former incompetent people created a regulation that slows down the process of eliminating those higher up in the food chain. If they were especially good, the process of eliminating bad characters is cost prohibitive and the normal legal processes can lead to years of litigation with unwanted results.

When you add the incompetence, and the huge amount of resources governments can acquire, the amounts of money wasted can become sums almost incomprehensible. Wise spenders shake their heads and thieving manipulators make million, if not billions, due to the  incompetence, or avarice of those in power. Meanwhile, somebody still goes to work, watches their money confiscated under the guise of law and have little power in repairing the machine that is steadily deteriorating.

Examples of the results of incompetence are found in many small towns, but are most notable in large cities, such as Detroit. Spending, promises of pensions, unwarranted salaries and a populace rapidly leaving the chaos reveal a debt that can't be paid and the long process of deciding at what percentage debt holders will be screwed.

Washington D.C. follows the same path. The incompetence is rampant and slid into criminal behavior. To make matters worse, those most able to investigate are unwilling to reveal the rot that permeates our nations capitol.

So, we're at a point the pieces are falling off the machine. Those that depend on the government will be first hurt. The unsustainable spending, lack of resources and incompetence will follow the path of least resistance, when the money becomes unavailable. It's easier to throw those least able to defend themselves off the sinking ship first. You can see this in the current V.A. crises and other agencies will soon follow.

What does this mean for me and you? I don't know about you, but I'll do everything I can to survive. Hopefully, if it becomes really bad, I'll have some family to help. If not, you might read about the old homeless man found by the side of the road.

Of course, it doesn't have to be this way. Those that can make a huge difference teach ever day. They'll have to dismiss the propaganda curriculum and teach valuable lessons about the Constitution, fiscal responsibility and self-discipline. It will be hard, and I don't have much confidence they'll make the effort. To many are comfortable with their supposed long term job with benefits and will sacrifice generations for their personal gain.

Still, I have hope. Most people I know are decent and want a piece of the American Dream. Getting more to understand government entities don't have groves of money trees is a first step. Making them realize they control those that dictate without apparent oversight is another. It can all change for the better, but only time will tell if the change happens.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Saturday Who

I listened to this song, when I was a teen. It's about government corruption, tyranny, the crap peddled by politicians and the reality of living in a society fueled by bullshit.

Friday, May 16, 2014

In A Perfect World...

...the AGW alarmists would be banished to a glacier in Iceland, given one knife, Al Gore and a box of matches.

I'm thinking the first winter nights would be lit by an unexpected fuel made from the blubber of someone they would never name.

Over One Million

Over one million what? Miles. I've driven over a million miles, during my sojourn of life.  I've learned some things and some irritate me to distraction.

Pacing - That's when you decide to travel at the same speed as I'm travelling and stay in my blind spot. This makes me increase my speed, or slow enough to give you time to pass. If you decide to remain at that location, I'll turn on my turn signal and start a lane change. Depending on the speed, I'll either surprise you, or make you wan't to find the next exit to change your underwear. Do this next to me, and I'll slam on my brakes to watch you panic.

Tailgating - If I can see your headlights, I know you're in a hurry. I'll make every effort I can to allow you the ability to pass; maybe even pull to the shoulder. If I can't see your headlights, I'll gradually slow, until your head explodes, or you pass; watching the television on your dash.

Drifting - I know your text is important. That's why I called 911 to report a drunk driver. They even have your license plate number.

Avoiding a turn signal - I'm guessing every darned fool knows you make that turn every day at 3:00 pm; except me. The screeching of tires is to allow you reconsider using a turn signal in the future.

Avoiding the speed limit - Engineers designed the roadway to allow the speed posted. If it's too much for your abilities, stay on the shoulder or hit the ditch. You may not care, but the dumbass three cars back is trying to pass and your mother might be the car they hit, as she approaches from the opposite direction.

Rocking - I don't think there's an automobile made that doesn't have a cruise control. It's usually a button on the turn signal, or the steering wheel. Decide on one speed and stay there. I find it disconcerting, when I decide to pass and you decide to accelerate.

Drafting - I can see you back there; right at the point you're trying to increase your fuel economy by staying in the area that uses aerodynamics to allow your car to take advantage of the wake of my pickup. See tailgating above for reference of a reaction.

Some more will come to mind in the future. Those were just the ones encountered on the way home.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I'm Sure Some Were Disappointed

This morning, it was raining, the wind was howling from the north and it was in the fifties in Galveston, Texas. For those unfamiliar with this section of Texas, that's far from the normal morning of temperature in the seventies, a calm wind off the coast and the promise of a good day on the beach.

This is abnormal, but the temperature felt good, since we've already had our days with stifling humidity and highs in the nineties. I'm sure some tourists were disappointed, but tomorrow should warm up to near 80 and the calm winds will make the beach a great place to take a walk, or swim.

Me? Our work required a manlift, low winds and no rain, so I shut the project down first thing. After that, I did little of anything and took a needed nap. My batteries feel half-charged and will be full charged after a good nights sleep.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

Snipe Hunts and Worms

My dad, and uncle, took me, my brothers and cousins on a snipe hunt. It was a grand experience and taught me an important lesson: Never trust your dad, if he's drinking beer.

Anyway, the snipe hunt was grand, but the following video has it beat.

How about that moms? Doesn't that give you a sense of trust?

So, What Do I Have To Write About Today?

Let's see if I can pull some thoughts from my whirling mind:

Nope....maybe....slow down...hey, that's too fast...ouch....if you keep that up, I won't have anything to write...that's it....maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Up Against the Wall

It's Mother's Day. So, this song is a tribute to all those that raised a, I'm not an official redneck, but I pay my dues and hope.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Roger Hodgson

So, who is Roger Hodgson? Listen to the song and you'll know.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday E.L.P.


The Last Meal

It was a Saturday evening. I was with my mother, when her meal arrived.

We offered her the food; she wasn't hungry, but we managed to get her to eat a bite.

She made an attempt, but faded and didn't swallow. All our efforts failed, so I helped wipe the food from her mouth, so she wouldn't choke.

She eventually awoke long enough for us to get her to take a sip of Ensure. She soon fell asleep again, and I wondered how much longer she would last. She would hardly respond the next few days.

She passed Tuesday morning. I wasn't there, and wondered about her last moments. Did she have a moment of lucidity? Was she frightened? Did she know the end was near?

I'll never know. She was gone in a moment and I only know I wasn't there at the end.

The moments you have with your mother are finite. While the number of moments seems to be large, they may only be few. Take some time and tell her you love her.

Hastags and Hash Marks

I'm somewhat of a dumbass, when it comes to the social media/smart phone nomenclature. So, when I first heard the term "hashtag" all I could think of was "hash mark".

I had to look the term up on the interwiz. From my perspective, there's not a whole lot of difference between the two.

I suppose I should be sorry, if I offended anyone; but I'm not.

So, Where Did Everyone Go?

I know I haven't written much lately, but that's no reason to not post a comment.

Driving, Driving, Driving

An end  on a hydraulic cylinder broke on a large hydraulic excavator on the project today. The break was at the upper coupling pin housing, which is about three inches in diameter.

This isn't the first time this happened, and the problem is associated with crappy steel used for the initial fabrication. If I had to guess, forged steel was avoided, due to costs, and the manufacturer crossed their fingers, in the hope the warranty work would be minimal.

Anyway, the repair was warranted, so I had the exquisite opportunity to drive to Houston and watch it repaired.

Have you ever driven in Houston, Texas? If not, you should avoid it, unless necessary. There are enough drivers without the skills to drive in traffic to cause problems; maybe more than enough. People wandering in from the boonies are more than dangerous.

To add insult to injury, I've had enough experience driving in Houston; and I know enough about the freeway system to navigate with few problems. That's good for me, but leads to moments of anger, when people don't pay attention to the multiple signs that indicate in which lane a driver should exit. Their panic, last minute lane changes, and failing to accelerate into the merging traffic leads to all types of mayhem.

I escaped, before I lost my mind.

A Law Proposal

"Any person that loses the value of their property, due to the construction of public housing, shall be compensated for the loss from the salaries, and pensions, of members of Congress and their staff."

If this was passed, I'm thinking Congress, and their staffs, will owe taxpayers all compensation for the next twenty centuries.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

So, Why Doesn't the Military Court Martial the Commander In Chief?

I don't see why they can't. Surely there's an article in the Uniform Code of Military Justice that addresses conduct that includes dereliction of duty and unethical behavior.

Congress has the power of regulating the armed forces and it's their duty, as far as I'm concerned to enforce laws, when those working for the President break laws without accountability. If it takes the military, then get after it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dealing With The Librarian

Elementary school was the shiny part of my formal education. I have some memories of the experience and realize I was a really good student at the time. I don't know what changed later on, but it could have been a variety of reasons, including family problems and a severe concussion that occurred when I was young.

As I was mowing the yard today, I had a memory of the librarian. I guess she was sweet, although I really don't remember, but I do remember thinking she had a remarkable resemblance to "Mr. Waverly" on "The Man From Uncle".

My mother had a printing shop during that time. Included with her business was printing bound forms, which were placed in a special press. After placed, the top was painted with a plastic substance, which left a form easily torn from the pad. Since the forms might need trimming, the pads were made and trimmed afterward in a substantial paper cutter. This left thin pieces of pads, which were great for libraries, since one could be torn off and given with each book. My mother would send us with bags full of the bookmarks to give to the librarian. The librarian loved them.

I know we did book reports, although I can't remember a one, but somewhere during that time period, I became fascinated by World War Two.

They taught us how to use the card catalog, so I knew how to find the books of my interest. I'd check them out and usually read them in one sitting.

What led to the fascination? I have no idea, but I'm still fascinated by the war, those that fought and terrible toll on the world.

Anyway, one day, while checking out the book of my choice, the librarian gave me a stern look and told me I couldn't check it out. She went on to explain I was reading too many books of that type and I needed to broaden my subjects.

I was crushed, ashamed, wondering if I'd crossed some indiscernible line and troubled by my inability to know my error in judgement. I returned to the aisle, found what I considered drivel and went on; still troubled and ashamed.

From that point on, the librarian was an adversary. In deference to her being an adult, I never checked out another book about World War Two and found the encyclopedia at home.

I'd read for hours. It was like surfing the internet. I'd start with "A" and never know where it would end. I'd even practice self-discipline and read only one volume from one end to the other. I probably read every volume at least twice.

So, what did I learn? Nothing and everything, although I was happy with the ability to read without intervention.

Life is a strange occurrence. The little things add up to the big things and we're left to wonder about the path we took and marvel when obscure events surface at the strangest of times.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday Sadness

I linked Jeffro right after I started my blog. He visited my blog, commented and I did the same.

I followed his life, while he worked, ruminated about his life, the loss of his homestead and his time picking up the pieces. It was interesting, led to soul searching and the thought I'd visit him, if I ever traveled to his part of the country.

He wrote a post the other day, and I commented. When I checked his site today, there were other comments and one that stated something I didn't want to read.

Jeffro has been fighting health problems, with little success, yet with a positive outlook, and the hope he could beat the odds.

He passed today. There is no explanation, but I have the feeling his body finally gave out, and the world lost another person willing to share this experience we call life.

Rest in peace, Jeffro. I'll miss you.

I'm adding his obituary. Too many good people disappear; only a few lines in a local newspaper. 

Robert J. "Jeff" Borland Jr., 54, died Monday, May 5, 2014 at Western Plains Medical Complex, Dodge City.
He was born August 27, 1959 at Dodge City, the son of Robert J. Borland Sr. and Mary Jo McGinley. Jeff graduated from Cimarron High School in 1977 and then went on to St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City then the Dodge City Community College and then one semester at Kansas State University.
During college, he worked at Gibson's in Dodge City, later working for Burns Trucking, the Dodge City Post Office and Magouirk Chevrolet in Dodge City and Palmer Manufacturing and Tank in Garden City.
Jeff was a member of the NRA and loved watching NASCAR racing and Dale Earnhardt Jr. 88.
Survivors include: his sister, Kathleen Borland, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; an aunt, Gail Borland, Niles, Michigan; an uncle, Pleasant Kimball, San Ramon, California; cousins, Tom South and wife Betty Ann, Dodge City, Ronda Pegram and husband Randy, Rogers, Arkansas, Charles Borland, Buchanan, Michigan, Amy Bean and husband Steve, Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Jennifer Martin and husband Doug, Pacifica, California, Steve Kimball, San Ramon, California; his cat, Kitsey and a host of friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
Vigil service will be at 7:00 pm Monday, May 12, 2014 at St. Stanislaus Church, Ingalls, Kansas. Funeral Mass will be 10:00 am Tuesday at the Church, with Fr. James Baker presiding. Friends may call from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm Monday at Ziegler Funeral Chapel Cimarron. Burial will be in Cimarron Cemetery, Cimarron Kansas.
The family suggests memorials to the Ford County Humane Society, American

Diabetes Association

or the donor's choice of a Humane Society all in care of Ziegler Funeral Chapel, P.O. Box 446, Cimarron, Kansas 67835. Condolences may be sent to - See more at:

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I'm a Sucker for a Piano

I can fiddle around on the piano; even play something that doesn't hurt your ears. I don't play much anymore, but I will have spells where I tool around with my favorite style, which is blues and boogie woogie.

Still, I'm not this good, but it's something to aspire to.

A Song of Encouragement

Listen to the lyrics.

Not The Right Tool For The Job

We were building a concrete pad for cranes inside a unit in a facility that makes rubber. It was a small pad, but it had substantial reinforcement.

Most of the rebar was stock length, but there were a few pieces that needed to be cut. The only thing we had for this task was a rebar bender/cutter designed for rebar smaller than that required.

I scratched my head at first, wondering if I needed to go buy a hacksaw and cut the rebar. After considering my options, I decided to put a cheater pipe on the handle of the cutter and use it to cut the rebar.

The first few pieces were no problem, although it took a substantial amount of leverage on the pipe to accomplish the cut. Then, we found a problem.

One bar was either better steel, or we were getting tired. Our typical method wasn't working, so I decided to get rough.

I pulled on the cheater pipe, soon had all my weight on the pipe and was rocking on the pipe, with the hope it would soon cut. It did.

The rebar snapped, and the six foot long pipe fell; striking me in the chest.

After a few minutes of sitting on the sidelines, I went back to work. We soon had everything ready and poured the concrete.

On the way home, my chest started hurting. After arriving home, it reached the point where it was hard to breathe, without pain. I started worrying and my wife soon convinced me to go to the emergency room.

After some x-rays, too many minutes worrying about what I'd managed to destroy and the consultation with the doctor, it was determined the pipe flexed the rib joints, much like bending a finger back to far.

So, I was prescribed an anti-inflammatory medication, sent on my way and learned being a dumbass has its limitations.

It's All in the Details

We have a project soon to start. There are plans, which show what they want, but lack some of the things required to lay the project out.

What's missing? Control points, with coordinates. I need a minimum of two, since my survey instrument (total station) only works with known points. Even if I had a GPS instrument, I'd still need coordinates to work from.

So, if they aren't available, I'll need to find all the property corners, create some baselines, establish points and use the plans to determine the layout points for offsets to center lines and boundaries. Any curves will be scaled. From that, I can determine a point of tangent, point of curve and the radius.

That's all a lot of work, considering a survey crew visited the site, has all the information and should have placed some temporary benchmarks for layout.

One of the biggest problems I face on too many projects is the lack of knowledge by those that order the survey. If you pay for such a thing, demand control points for reference. If enough are available, anyone can use a tape to find a point on the project.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Second Week (Re-Post)

Working in Galveston means time near the Gulf, which brings back memories of working offshore.

It's been almost forty years, since the experience I describe occurred. Still, when I see the platforms on the horizon, I think of the steel decks, relentless sun and solitude of my time in the oil patch 


I worked offshore for about two and one half years after I finished high school. It was a memorable experience, but the second week out was most notable.
I worked a shift called “seven on, seven off”, which meant we worked seven twelve hour days and were off for seven days. After I was used to the schedule, I realized it was one of the best to work. It was free room and board for half the year, so it helped with my expenses.
The first week was more of an introduction, if you consider hard work in blistering heat an introduction. My duties were to help the company men with their tasks. Since it was a high pressure gas production facility, and I was a contract roustabout, I was the “new guy” and was delegated any task that nobody else really wanted to do. Nobody was lower on the totem pole.  Nobody really cared if I made it, or not.
My second week out brought the start of a weather change. Since it was past the second week of September, the approach of a cold front had brought increasing winds and seas from the southeast. Getting on the platform, which meant swinging from the “monkey ropes” that hung at the bottom catwalk, meant coordinating a swing to the platform with the rise of swale. If you weren’t in tune, you either would swing into the platform, or find your miss meant you had to drop five feet to the deck of the crew boat. Everyone made it without a problem, even the old men, so there was nothing different about the Wednesday afternoon, which was the start of our work week.
Thursday morning brought higher winds. We worked on the various platforms, but as the day progressed, the seas became more treacherous. By evening, safety was becoming a problem. Before dark, a wire-line crew parked their jack-up barge at the west end of the main production platform. They planned to wait out the weather, before they tried to negotiate the jetties. They had a sturdy craft and the jack-up legs kept the craft above the waves.
The main platform was actually two platforms bridged by a catwalk that was about one hundred feet long. The production platform, which was full of high pressure production vessels and pipes, was on the West end of the facility. The living quarters, which were above a work shop, water tank and sewer plant, were on the East end of the facility.  All of the daily two hundred million cubic feet of gas passed into a pipe header on the production platform. The main pipeline was eighteen inches in diameter and flowed at a pressure of twelve hundred pounds per square inch.  An eight inch pipe carried the condensate liquid. It was called distillate, and was as flammable as gasoline.   
Friday morning was a typical morning. The night-man woke everyone at 5:00 am in the usual manner, which was opening the door, turning on the lights and announcing: “Boys, it’s time to wake up.” The man in the lower bunk lit a cigarette, which meant I bailed out of bed and went for breakfast. After going to the restroom, I went downstairs.
Two strangers sat at the table. I couldn’t place them, but the field superintendent was shooting the breeze, while they drank coffee. I quietly listened to the conversation and finally picked up who they were and why they were there.
They were the crew of the wire line barge. During the night, a leg on their jack-up barge had given away and they had been dumped into the Gulf. They both still had the amazed look of somebody that had cheated death. They had fought their way in pitch darkness until they made it out of the sinking barge. They had scaled barnacle covered ladders in their skivvies to find safety. The night man had been more than startled when he found them. He was still a little nervous from the experience.  The two men left on the first helicopter out.
It was too rough to leave the main platform. We repaired controls, cleaned things up and discussed the barge that was sitting on the bottom. Engineers said there was nothing to worry about. The pipelines were over six feet below the seabed. Everything was safe. The mostly sunken barge rocked in the swales.
That evening, after supper, the crew settled into their usual habits. Some watched television, others read, and everyone else was playing poker. I had played the week before and had beginner’s luck. I was sitting in again, nervous, since my luck wasn’t nearly as good. I was down about five dollars, which was more than I wanted to lose.
The platform shook as if something big had bumped into the legs. One of the crew asked if someone had called the big work boat. As everyone looked at each other, the platform shook again. This time the sky outside the windows turned a brilliant orange. As we all looked out the windows, we realized the entire production facility was engulfed in flames. The barge had worked into the bottom and ruptured the pipelines.
The field superintendent hit the alarm and started calling for boats. Everyone else started calling for evacuation.  I went for my life jacket and wondered what was next.
I couldn’t find my life jacket. I went to my work locker, it wasn’t there. I ran upstairs to my room locker and it wasn’t there either. I was starting to panic, so I ran downstairs to look again. It was in my work locker behind my rain suit. I had been in too much of a hurry to look closely.
Now I was really worried. I didn’t see anyone and knew I had been left. I hurried out, and started down the catwalk to the bottom landing. Nobody was there. I looked for the boat, while I glanced at the burning platform only a hundred feet away. Somebody was coming down the stairs. I was first. I felt foolish, and relieved.  Soon the entire crew was heading to the landing.
I now had time to observe the fire. Flames were rising around 40 feet above the deck, which was 40 feet above the water. The strong southeast wind was keeping them away, but the burning condensate seemed to be drifting closer to the living quarters. The heat was oppressive, even though the wind and temperature should have been uncomfortably cool.
The large workboat was approaching. An occasional large swell would break high enough to flood seawater over our feet. It was time to leave and it didn’t look like it would be easy.
As the large boat swung around, I could see the skipper at the back controls. As he backed, the swales would bring the stern high enough to see the propellers. As they broke the water, the engines would race. He carefully positioned the boat so we could climb aboard. We worked as a team. Between the monkey ropes, and mad scrambling, everyone was pulled on board. The skipper quickly pulled away from the platform. We were safe.
We spent almost the rest of the night traveling between the platforms and closing valves. I was too new to be involved with this task, so I just helped the crew on and off the platforms or stared at the burning platform in the distance. The flames were slowly receding. By 1:00 am they were out.
One of the crew said we were headed back to the living quarters. I must have looked like I didn’t believe what he said. He said I could go home, but if I did, I couldn’t come back. I weighed the options and decided to stay. If they weren’t afraid, then I wouldn’t be either, even if I was. I kept watching the platform as we returned. The generators were still supplying power, and lights. The gas stored in the pipes was enough to run for weeks.
We arrived and went to check the damage. All that could be done was to make sure all supply valves were closed and that nothing was still burning. It was time to call it a day. I showered and went to bed.
I didn’t sleep well. I dreamed there was no roof to the living quarters. It was though I was sleeping in a large open building in the middle of the Gulf. The night man came in a 5:00 am and woke us in the usual manner.
I spent the day cleaning the decks. The high pressure gas had kept a continuous supply of water on the platform. Instead of warping steel, the temperature had only risen to the boiling point of water, which left a bed of shrimp and fish cooked to perfection. We shoveled them into the Gulf with tons of sand.  The charred hull of the barge rocked in the swales.
Company officials visited during the day. The pilots would complain since there was only room for one helicopter on the heliport. Instead of sitting, drinking coffee and reading the paper, they had to play helicopter musical chairs. Those with the biggest officials had more time to sit.
We were told how lucky we were (we were) and how well we had done (Yep, but we were exhausted).  I found no comfort. In a way, I was insulted. They had no idea.
By evening, a large derrick barge had anchored off the end of the platform. The divers started working to prepare for the lift to remove the barge. I watched until dark. I was tired and knew tomorrow would be close to business as usual.
I have a lot of memories of my time offshore, but few as vivid as my second week. I consider it my baptism to manhood. Boyhood was gone and I had weathered a disaster. In a way, my life had just started.

Three Guitar Lead

April Wine wasn't a constant chart topper, but it wasn't because the band wasn't graced with good musicians.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Get Out Of The Way!

I don't take the Galveston ferry very often. There are a few reasons:

- Early in the morning, when I travel to Galveston, there is usually only one ferry running. If I miss the ferry, all intentions of arriving at work early are dashed, since I have to wait an hour for it to return. Otherwise, if I'm not on the ferry by 5:00 am, more than likely, I won't make to work on Galveston before 6:30 start time. It might even be later, if the crew screws around, or waits for stragglers to load.

-At certain times, the wait for getting on the ferry can be over an hour. That's 40 minutes more than the time required to bypass the ferry and drive down SH 146, to IH 45, then into Galveston.

-You might be the correct number vehicle and end up in the check line. There, they'll make you open your doors, glove box, hood and tool box. They'll rummage around and I resent the intrusion.

So, I usually avoid the ferry.

Still, I get the urge to take that route, and today I did.

I was next to last on a ferry, that was waiting to leave. I drove right on, had no wait and soon was sitting in my pickup, listening to the radio and watching the tourist play with fate and seagull crap. (They like to try and feed them by hand; oblivious of their predicament, until they're spattered.)

The gate went down, the ramp raised....and we sat.

As my mind wondered what was causing the delay, it appeared off the bow. Here's the photo.

Eventually, it moved enough and we went on. I abandoned my pickup to take the photo.

It was kind of interesting. Travelers lined the rail on the liner and tourists lined the rail on the ferry; snapping photos and selfies.

Meanwhile, I had to escape to my truck, since the bird were too close for comfort. I glanced once at the tourists, with the loaf of bread, a gaggle of children and the dive bombers; intent on hitting their target. Soon I was safe from the turd bombs and listened to the radio for the twenty minute ride across Galveston Bay.