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.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Diners, Dives and......

...I'm hungry, although I just ate.

There's a show on The Food Channel that has the host (I can never remember his name; Guy something...I think) traveling all over the United States trying out different restaurants (diners, dives and drive-ins) and showcasing the specialties on the menu. After watching this show quite a few times, I realize that no matter what other shows they have, or how elaborate the item may be, this show is what makes me hungry.

It's not fast food, high end dining, or presumptious. It's mostly comfort food and fresh. In a perfect world, I'd have the resources to try these different restaurants. Since it's not a perfect world, I'll just drool and dream.

I Love New Toys

Not really a toy, but new. Less than 120 hours, which means it's only been in service for a few months.

The computer is new, so I had to spend a few minutes verifying the commands. It's more user friendly and has more information on the screen.

The cab, and rest of the instrumentation, is almost identical to those I've run before, but one noticeable thing is the instant fuel consumption. Average was around 2 gallons every hour. (Yeah, I know that doesn't sound like much, but that's over sixty bucks added to the rental cost for the day.)

We'll only have it for a few days, so the fun won't last.

The air conditioning sure feels good.

* - I need to add what type of machine this is. It's a Todano rough terrain crane, with a maximum lift capacity of 50 tons. While that sounds like a lot of weight, the crane can only lift that much weight within a few feet of the machine.

My extreme lift today was around 3000 pounds at 90 feet. The computer constantly beeped at me the enitire lift warning me that I was pushing the envelope and would shut down the crane if I tried to reach any further.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I've finished another chapter

Just when I'm completely out of ideas, new ideas form before I become completely frustrated.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The End of the Line

“Finally; I’m here.”
“It looks like you’ve been here awhile. How long have you been standing in line.”
“Five hundred twenty five years and seventy two days.”
“That long? Anyway, what can I do for you?”
“I was told to wait in line to get into Hell. So, here I am”
“So, what’s your name?”
“William who?”
“William of London?”
“Hold on; I need to look you up.”
“Hmm - Tax collector?”
“That’s me.”
“What a coincidence. That’s what I was; at least I was until 20 years ago. You look thirsty; how about some water?”
“Oh, thank you. I haven’t had any water since I arrived.”
“It’s good, isn’t it?”
“I’m still thirsty.”
“Yeah, but that’s all we have around here. It will make you pee, but it burns when you do.”
“You were a tax collector?”
“Yeah I was; one of the best that worked for the I.R.S.”
“Who’s Iris?”
“Not Iris; the I.R.S. – Internal Revenue Service.”
“I never heard of that.”
“I guess not. My specialty was trust funds and inheritance. I could root out suspicious activity and make generations pay their taxes. I even received awards, until that woman showed up with a pistol. I still remember what she said: “Go to Hell, you bastard.” And here I am. Twenty years later. “
“You’ve only been here twenty years? I’ve been waiting in line for over five hundred years. “
“I don’t make the rules, but looking at your file, I can see why you had to wait so long. It says here you took food from starving people for the King, which caused them to suffer until they died. According to the statistics, your efforts led to the death of over two thousand people.”
“I was doing my job.”
“Yeah, that’s what they all say.”
“If I hadn’t, I would have been tortured to death.”
“So, you traded that for over five hundred years of suffering in a line to get in Hell?”
“I never thought of it that way.”
“Oh well; you can’t live in the past.”
“I need to see some I.D. before I let you in.”
“I.D.? I’ve never heard of that.”
“Identification. You know? An official plastic card with your photograph and identification number?”
“Where can I get one.”
“That’ not my department, so I can’t let you in. You’ll have to go to the back of the line.”
“Security, please escort this man to the back of the line.”

Friday, April 27, 2012

I wonder...

...if bureaucrats have to stand in line to get in Hell? It would only be fair and I'd watch the process on Youtube.

It's Good Work, If You Can Get It

I was digesting an interesting, if not appalling bit of information: The President has taken a total of 78 days of vacation in the last three years. That's only about 4 weeks per year, with a 747, full security compliment, staff, expanded military presence and his family, with their staff and full security compliment. I'd say that's not bad for a C.E.O that's allowed nearly 5 trillion dollars of new debt, allowed his administrator to harass the people that will pay this debt and pushes for solutions that only increase the debt.

What else can I add? Oh yeah, the Attorney General could end up with Congressional charges for contempt; the GSA has misused substantial amounts of taxpayer funds; the Secret Service has been tarnished by a scandal that shows a terrible lack of ethics and self-control; the military is being abused for politics; and over half the states are involved with litigation with the United States; mostly for economic and state's rights issues.

So, who's in charge? We are. Regardless of all the hype the ultimate control of this country rests with the citizens. It's only as bad as we allow it to be. I've had enough, and I don't think I'm alone.

All I can say is Wow.

Sometime today, my blog will pass the 20,000 visitor mark. That may be a piddling amount for some, but I'm not only sufficiently impressed, I'm honored.

To those that visit: Thanks

They're Back

Delman and Clotile have been absent for months, so I assumed they moved on, or something had happened to them. The worry is over. They're back and somewhere by the front door of the office in the morning; hoping I'll find them something to eat. I guess I need to go buy them some more food.

Wherever they went must have had good groceries. Neither looks like they've missed a meal.

This You Should Read

Old NFO passes on a jewel of a post for those that keep it where I can type my random thoughts. It's too easy to forget, or ignore the fact that somebody woke up this morning knowing it would be another day of discomfort, danger and the mind-numbing task of dealing with a culture that is as unfathomable as that of a spider.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I guess this post is just for ranting.

Five years ago, I lost my balance while climbing from the tracks of an excavator and hit the ground with my right foot in an unnatural position. The result? A severe sprain, which hurt like hell.

Healing took some time, especially with the "get tough" attitude of the doctor. The first week was bad, but I eventually could hobble around with best of gimps. The worst part was the feeling my ankle was made of jello and any tiny misstep would end in disaster.

It took about six months to have a normal day, but overexertion would end with me limping. Cold weather still causes minor problems and I've never regained the old "give 'em hell" attitude while negotiating any uneven terrain.

So out of the blue, my ankle is bothering me today and I can't think of any reason why, except age, which I can't do anything about.


This One is Too Good to Pass Up

Joe Biden,  who probably would know, said The President has a big stick. He added "I promise", which means he's really serious.

My mind boggles at the comments, jokes, skits and political commentary about this remark. This one will land a "Bidenism" in the slang dictionary.

Reading the News

Reading the news this morning was a good way to start the day with anger. Besides the terrible economy, the presidential cheerleaders are out in full force, including Michelle, who is proclaiming this administration is making history with the birth control mandate of Obamacare. This makes me think there were times in the past that birth control might have saved the U.S. a lot of grief.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Solution to Protecting Our Southern Border

If you consider the thirty eight parallel in Korea has been successfully guarded since the 50's, there must be a good reason for this success. Is it because of the United States? I wonder, since the border between the U.S. and Mexico is as porous as a rusted colander. The answer must be South Korean soldiers, who are notorious for being disciplined, fierce fighters. So, lets put a few thousand on the border and tell them to keep it secure. I think it will work.

Why Does it Matter....

that this potential member of Congress is a woman and has dark skin?

An Estimate of Misery

It's estimated there are 12 to 27 million people enslaved in the world today. This includes kidnapped women and underage girls forced into the sex trade. While the media and special interest groups wring their hands about the unfortunate event that drastically changed the lives of only two families in Florida, there is no outcry about this horrible fact.

I think the media, and these special interest groups, have their priorities all screwed up.

A Thought

Wouldn't it be nice if the side-effects of apathy were productivity and creativity?

Monday, April 23, 2012

On Some Days....

....trying to write something interesting is like trying to shoot skeet blindfolded. Today was one of those days.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Launching a Mat

It was early Saturday morning and the heavy clouds only added to the cold weather. An occasional small drop of rain would hit the windshield of my brother’s 1971 Corolla as we headed down the highway to watch the launching of a mat.  Heavy gray clouds hung from horizon to horizon and the forecast was of lessening rain and continued clouds through the day.
I was working offshore at the time and my oldest brother was a welder in a shipyard. I was off for the week and he was off for the weekend. Neither of us had much sleep the night before, since he was working the three to eleven shift and we usually would go get a beer after he was off work. It didn’t matter; we were on a mission. They were launching a mat this morning and we wanted to watch.
What’s a mat? It’s part of a mobile offshore drilling platform, which comes in three basic styles: submersible, semi-submersible and jack-up, which is what this mat would be attached to when the platform was finished.
A submersible platform sits on the sea bed. It’s limited by water depth, since there’s no adjustment to the position of the platform. After a certain depth, the other two are required.
A jack-up rig has adjustable legs. The legs are used to adjust the height of the platform to compensate for different water depths. After a few hundred feet, this platform can’t be used, so the semi-submersible is used.
A semisubmersible platform floats, but to prevent too much movement of the platform in rough seas, two large barges, which are attached to legs, float beneath surface and use the stable water under the surface to stabilize the platform. Water is pumped either in, or out of the barges to adjust the height. When the rig is moved, most of the water is pumped out and the rig is towed by huge sea tugs. At that time, the barges are exposed and the deck over one hundred feet off the water. While on location, huge anchors, or horizontal propulsion stabilizers hold the position over the well location and the drill string hangs beneath the derrick.
The mat to be launched was part of a jack-up rig under construction. Eventually, it would be on the bottom of the legs. This hull would be sunk to the bottom to support the legs, or raised to help stabilize the platform when moved.
This mat was unique, since it was a widow-maker. During construction, one person was killed and another terribly maimed when the skids fell over. I remember my brother telling me about the incident. Noticing the skids were leaning before his shift, he refused to go under the mat. His shift ended without incident. The night shift wasn’t so lucky. It was during that shift when the accident occurred. Evntually, the mat was lifted and the skids repositioned.
We were too early. Since there was no tug on site, we decided to kill some time and just drove around for about an hour. When we returned, there was a harbor tug waiting in the slip to catch the mat after it was launched.  We pulled over to the side of the road and waited.
Our vantage point wasn’t the best. We could see most of the top part of the mat, but we couldn’t see the skids. Still it was better than not seeing anything, although we both would have liked to be in the shipyard and close to the launching location.
We waited almost an hour before we saw the mat start moving down the skids. Since we couldn’t see the bottom of the mat, we were both surprised by the huge wave that soon appeared in front of the harbor tug. The captain gunned the engines and rode over the ten foot wave that continued down the slip; washing debris and the shallow vegetation away as it passed.  Sufficiently awed by the event, we spent a few minutes just watching as the tug maneuvered into position and eventually secured the mat. It would be pushed to a dock so the rest of the superstructure could be attached. These components were either complete, or in the process of being completed. A 600 ton floating crane, which would attach many of these huge sections, was docked in the distance. The huge boom towered over the shipyard.
With nothing left to see, we headed home. We had no idea that these enormous endeavors would eventually end and the shipyard would close.  The collapse of the oil exploration industry was coming and these thousands of workers would join the hundreds of thousands without work. An era was ending and we had witnessed what subsequent generations would never see.  


I've been busy, so I haven't had much time to write. Hopefully, I'll have more time this weekend.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

GSA Problem

There's a huge investigation over the GSA Vegas extravaganza, which is good, except this is only a tiny amount of waste government employees cause daily. I'm hoping the proposed criminal charges stick and the house of cards starts falling on bureaucrats in all agencies. Why? I haven't had a raise in years; the cost of living is skyrocketing; fuel is too expensive;the dollar is devalued ( thanks to the fed and the debt), and the federal government is out of control. It's time for accountability and it's time for this crap to stop -  forever.

Am I mad? I'm furious and I have no compassion for anyone that draws a paycheck simply because our society is still polite enough to allow confiscatory taxes without responsible behavior by our government.  I've worked my ass off for years, while political pogues lived like royalty and gave money to those that don't deserve it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Where Should You Escape... natural disasters was a keyword search that led to my blog. I wonder what they thought? Did they find what they were looking for? I hope so.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Super Weather Reporting

We haz it, except it's usually a little behind. In my experience, the warnings arrive around 15 minutes behind the first reports, so they aren't really warnings, although the weather geeks have strange tingling feelings running up their legs while they put on their most concerned face and think of the ratings. So, what they're warning about is probably only warning viewers that neighbors probably lost power 15 minutes ago and never saw the belated warning.

I'm sure some people are helped by the warnings, although I'm thinking many never do, which leads to more technology, more examination of data and more realization that the dynamics of weather make prediction beyond the capbabilities of humans. Still, we try and become less inclined to learn about the basics, which those in the past learned out of necessity.

We've reached the point to where the saying: "Watch the weather." is understood as deciding on what channel, web page, or phone application to examine for the current conditions and radar applets. It used to mean looking up and testing the breeze.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

When All Else Fails.... the instructions. That's usually best, since somebody took some time to write the method to make the entire thing work. This holds true with the United States Government. We have instructions, called the Constitution. If these directions are followed, the system works. If you don't believe this, look at what's happened. If you haven't read it, take the time to do so. It's written in English, so you don't need anyone to interpret the text.

Management Review

I've been managing people, in some capacity, for over thirty years. This management ranged from being the lead man of a two man crew, to 58 employees working to bring a closed shipyard into a working shipyard. I've learned a lot, and with this knowledge, I've learned some things that are good and things that are bad.

The basic premise of management is to coordinate, and be responsible for a task. It's pretty simple, but as the size of the task grows, errors are compounded and the final costs for these errors can lead to disaster. To add insult to possible injury, you're not just coordinating the task, you're making judgement calls on the individuals that are part of the project. Since everyone is different, everyone has to be treated differently. When a project reaches a certain size, the project manager reaches a point they have to trust their lower management people to make these calls and only meddle when the project is jeopardized by these decisions.

One of the worst things that can happen is having an incompetent person in charge. If this person has the most authority, the entire project is almost doomed to failure. The basic good management skills are lacking, so the entire endeavor is like a ship without a captain to make the final good decisions. Lower management, with the usual politics and self-determined importance, fails to realize the final goal. Different units of management will eventually start bickering, which can lead to intentional efforts to circumvent the success of another unit. Petty rivalry can turn into all out wars. At this point, the project starts failing; especially if the highest authority fails to recognize and correct the problem. Costs rise, corruption becomes acceptable and morale declines.

Poor managers are surrounded by people that make them feel comfortable without regard to their qualifications or the path to the position. Favors are granted, which are unethical, or directly violate standard business practices. Decisions are made, and policies implemented that have no basis in experience, or show any thought of unintended consequences. The reactions can be as minor as petty bickering to key necessary people leaving to prevent being involved. Their reputation may be at stake, or they know the only way is down and leaving before the drop is the best time to leave.

So, why am I writing this post? I'm not seeing sound management by the current administration. Fiscal responsibility is ignored. Petty administrators are leading key departments. Favors are given by creating czars positions, which not only cost beyond what is necessary, the people with these positions were given the power which is not theirs to hold. Costs are ignored and many lower managers are misusing funds for personal gain. Otherwise, the entire United States is being run by some of the poorest managers I can think of and it's on my dime. Even worse, the costs will extend to generations yet to be born. In the business world, the business that operated in this manner would have never reached this point. Those responsible would be bad news in the business world and their careers would have ended.

While Congress controls the purse strings, and the Supreme Court acts as the final arbitrator, the final day to day business of this country is the responsibility of the President. It they don't have the experience, the result is what we are now experiencing. We reached this point because too many voters didn't pay attention to what was said before the last election and fell for the empty rhetoric that leads bad managers to key positions. We're all paying for this now, although I don't take responsibility. For those that did, and still think your decisions is correct, then you need to think carefully of the consequences. When there are bad managers, the end result is all resources are depleted, opportunities are lost forever and the people that are most responsible suffer the least and do so with arrogance until there's nothing left. Until that time, they'll do anything to continue their power, even if it destroys the lives of anyone that gets in their way. They accept no responsibility and they have no qualms about their actions.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hot Off the Press

Chapter seven. That one gave me pause. I was thinking: "What kind of corner have I painted myself into?" when I had some inspiration.


After a Holiday

The last few days off were nice, except during the time of doing the things I needed to do, I didn't have time to take a few naps, which is an important part of any holiday.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

I Saw It on a Bumper Sticker

I've saw this phrase on a bumper sticker "What Would Jesus Do?"  It made me think, since it's a good question. What would Jesus do? Personally, I think very little. The choices were made long ago and things were set in motion. There is no mandate of faith or service. It's up to you and it's a choice of whether the anarchy of constant war is more important than the hope of constant peace.

What would Jesus do? I really don't know, but I do know there's a simplicity in his teachings that is difficult for most; even those that profess to be continuing his teachings. It's a frame of mind that's only developed by believing there is hope. It's a faith that perseveres even when everything seems lost. A faith that doesn't demand perfection. It only demands acceptance and the willingness to try. That's what makes it so tough. You have a choice and you become responsible.

This responsibility is more than some are willing to accept, or admit is difficult to bear. It's a responsibility that proves we can be weak and petty, which we carry as burdens of failure; burdens some carry until they die, because they never learn they aren't perfect and they can shed the burden when they learn self-forgiveness and start their journey once again.

What would Jesus do? Don't ask him; ask yourself and wait for the answer.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Working in the Yard Today

After cutting the yard, trimming and spraying some herbicide, I decided to take care of some fire ant mounds.

I've tried a few different baits, but they seemed to chase the fire ants to new locations. My solution was to go a local feed store and see what they had. They only carried one product and said it works.

The directions called for sprinkling two or three table spoons of the granules around the mound and on top. After the granules were sprinkled, it required pouring up to two gallons of water around and top of the mound.

I went home, opened the bag, fetched a small scoop and went to work on the first mound. After sprinkling, I followed the directions, poured the water and moved on to another mound. I repeated the procedure and went to another. After this mound, I returned to the first to see how what was happening. I was surprised by the result.

The ants had gone berserk. Those that weren't curled up, or in the throws of death, were rushing around or fighting with other ants. The stuff was working, so I went about my business of eradicating ants around the yard. After about ten mounds, I couldn't find any others, so I went back to the first to see if the effect was only temporary and the ants were recovering.

The first mound had no living ants. As I watched, a large drone wandered into the treated area. Within seconds, it was in obvious distress and within minutes was curled up and barely moving.

Considering the amount I have left, I won't have to buy any more poison this season. Time will tell if the product works. If it does, I've sure wasted some money on other poisons over the years.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Cost of Health

I know people that avoid the doctor because they can't afford the cost. If you consider many doctors charge $150 dollars for just a few minutes of their time, it's understandable. That's a considerable sum if you add any prescription, which can cost just as much, or more. Even worse, the prescription may require refilling every month for the rest of their life. It's cheaper to reach the point of emergency and go to an emergency department for care.

So, what's going on here? Why does healthcare cost so much? That's my question, too. What exactly does it cost and how many hidden costs are there, which would be infuriating if known?

One cost I do know of is the insurance medical professionals carry to prevent financial ruin if they're sued. I've seen reports where this can be as much as a quarter of a million dollars per year. Otherwise, if a doctor sees one patient every 15 minutes for 8 hours each day, 50 weeks out of a year (give them two weeks vacation and ignore holidays) that's 8000 opportunities to recover this cost. Run the numbers and that's $31.25 per person. I'm sure this cost varies, but still, it's part of the cost for healthcare.

What about a staff member that handles the enormous amount of required paperwork? If their salary is around $40,000 per year after FICA and unemployment insurance costs, that's another $5 per patient. So now, just to handle the BS and high insurance cost, you've spent up to $35 dollars just to walk in the door. Neither you, or the doctor gets any benefit from this, except the doctor may feel a little more comfortable knowing they might avoid an ugly lawsuit, or intrusive meddling by a bureaucrat.

How about the costs for medical equipment? Have you ever seen what some simple equipment costs? I'm no expert, but a friend once worked at a facility that manufacturers machines for the medical profession. The retail value astounded me, but when they explained the high cost of product liability insurance, it made more sense. So, there's another hidden cost.

What about medications? It's only a simple pill, or fluid but they are so expensive. Why? How about research and development? Product liability insurance? The cost of dealing with the FDA for years? Attorneys? Lawsuits? It's an expense that has to be paid.

Now the part that nobody likes: what about the people that go to the emergency room and never pay anything? How much does that cost? A bunch? It costs hundreds of dollars just to walk through the automatic door. Add an MRI, or CAT scan and it's in the thousands. Even worse, the long term costs can continue for years, which are only aggravated by poor health choices or new complications from poorly treated problems.

So, why am I writing this post? I don't think the information we receive is accurate. I have many questions on how much it costs, including the costs for regulations, total insurance costs, interstate restrictions that hamper competition with insurance companies and the actual costs associated with can only be described as free healthcare, since nothing is free and somebody is paying.

It all adds up, and ultimately somebody gets the opportunity to make money, or the system is controlled by the government, which can only lead to wasted, limited resources and the ultimate reduction in medical professionals. Why spend so much time becoming a professional if you're forced to accept only what bureaucrats consider is just compensation?

Personally, I think the biggest problem with our healthcare is limited knowledge. If everyone knew what it should cost, instead of what it actually does cost, I think most people would demand accountability and be more willing to participate in purchasing an insurance policy that wouldn't be cost prohibitive. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt I am; especially if the policy holders can be part of huge groups to balance the costs of those that need care with those that don't.

As it is, too few people are paying for others, and I think the government is a big contributor to this problem. There is a solution, but asking the government to fix the problem will end up like the budget. The government can't even balance their checkbook. How do you think they'll handle your health?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

One Hot Summer Afternoon

I was through with what I called breakfast. Since I worked nights, my breakfast was the typical supper served in the galley. The day crew was coming in and I would soon be starting my evening duties. Since it was summer, I didn't expect anything unusual and would probably spend the night performing maintenance tasks and keeping an eye on the controls on the production platform. As usual, nobody else would be awake. My job as the night man was to insure at least one pair of eyes was watching the platform as the millions of cubic feet of natural gas passed on the way onshore.

It was a little before 6:00 pm and still blistering hot. There was no wind, and it looked like there was little, to none, all day.  The surface of the Gulf was calm and the oily looking emerald green water was only disturbed by a few schools of mullet. The shore, which was about 5 miles to the north, was barely visible in the thick late afternoon haze.

Leaning on the rail, I was collecting my thoughts while I waited to go to work. The crews had arrived and were inside the living quarters cleaning up before supper. I could hear the faint roar of the engines on the work boats as they tied up to the satellite structures to the east. They would be there until morning, unless called, or something happened.

As I stared towards the shore, I noticed what appeared like a pencil line on the horizon. Studying the horizon, the pencil line appeared to be becoming wider. After awhile, I realized the strange site was the first signs of an approaching thunderstorm. Within a few minutes, the dark cloud was obvious and the lifting air started clearing the haze to the north. The thick, almost black, area became more distinct and an occasional bolt of lightning would stand in stark contrast to the dark clouds. I could now see the roll cloud which extended along the edge of the storm. It would arrive at the beach within minutes. Behind the cloud, a solid gray sheet of rain obscured everything. Fascinated, since I'd never seen anything like this before, I was determined to watch until it arrived.

The storm was soon at the beach. The Gulf, now an eerie transluscent green, contrasted sharply with the almost black background. The orange hued haze was lifting rapidly and revealing more of the pastel blue sky now disappearing behind the towering system approaching from the north. The completely still air was filled with constant low rumbles of thunder.

When the storm crossed over the water, the high winds created a disturbed murky green surface resembling shattering glass. The rolling, seething mass of cloud directly above this line appeared almost solid. The definite tumble of dark clouds created an appearance more like some huge machine, or organism approaching with some purposeful, malignant task.

 As I examined this feature, I noticed the first water spout. Soon there was another. These lifted, only to be replaced by others. Eventually, I counted seven, but wondered if there were more in the sheet of rain behind the rolling cloud that was almost to the platform. The shoreline had disappeared. Lightning would strike the water every few seconds. The loud cracks - followed by deep rumbles - filled the air with a constant reminder the storm was soon to arrive.

The heavy thump of the wind hitting platform made me grasp the handrail tighter.  Leaning into the wind, I enjoyed the almost cold air and occasional drop of rain. Right before the heavy rain hit, I fought the door and entered the living quarters to wait out the storm. The bright daylight had now faded into a dim, dark gray

When the rain hit, I couldn't see out the window on the north side of the quarters, so I moved to the window that faced the production platform. Heavy rain almost obscured the platform. Bright bolts of lightning were instantly followed by thunder. The platform shook from the wind and the pounding of the rain almost silenced the evening news, which was barely visible on the screen jumbled with static.

A bolt of lightning struck so close, the light was like a brilliant pinkish flash that blinded me for a second. The deafening crack of thunder, which seemed to happen at the same moment, caused me to flinch and move away from the window. As my eyes cleared, I could see something different about the lights on the production platform. After a few moments, I realized something was on fire, which was causing the dancing orange glow on the sides of the vessels stacked by the main production pipes.

It took a few seconds, but I soon spotted the flame. At the far end of the production platform, behind the fire wall, was the glycol unit, which dried the gas from the well adjacent to the production platform. The fumes from the process vented through a stack, which now had a ten foot flame on the top. I made some inane comment, like "We have a fire.", which caused a group of spectators to gather at the windows to view the event. Since I was supposed to be working, I went to my locker, put on my slicker, went out the door and down the stairs.

When I reached the catwalk that crossed to the production platform, I realized my slicker suit would fail 100% in a few more moments. The wind was blowing rain in from the sleeves, the legs and around my neck. As I started crossing, my steps slowed as I looked at the flame that now seemed twice as high. I glanced back; I was the only one going to put the fire out.

I knew where all the fire hoses were, but was completely clueless on what I needed to do. The flame was 30 feet above the deck and what was around the stack didn't seem to be running down towards the equipment below. Now what? I had an idea: I'll use the big dry chemical extinguisher, but I soon tossed that idea, since the wind would only blow the dust away from the fire and make a mess. I thought some more. It seemed like minutes were passing, but it was only moments. I needed to do something now; there was no guarantee the fire wouldn't spread.

I made a decision. I grabbed the nearest fire hose, pulled it out to around the firewall, opened the valve and pointed the stream towards the flame. I was spraying against the strong wind, so I wasn't accomplishing what I wanted. I started moving closer, while keeping the stream on the stack. The flame was smaller, but still going. Eventually I was almost under the stack, which was were I needed to be. The powerful stream of water washed the flame off the top of the stack. I stood there for about a minute pouring water on the stack to guarantee it wouldn't light again.

I was finally satisfied the fire was out. The worst of the storm had passed, so the lightning was only occasional and not striking close any longer. The rain was only heavy, instead of a deluge. I rolled up the fire hose, made a quick tour to check and then headed towards the living quarters. I was soaked and the rain cooled wind was cold.

I opened the door of the living quarters and sloshed through the galley to place my slicker back in my locker.  Most of the crew was eating, except for one pumper-gauger, who was looking out the window towards the production platform He turned and said: "Good job" and turned back to the window. I went upstairs and changed to some dry clothes.

After changing, I went for a cup of coffee and spent a few minutes talking to the field superintendent. I don't remember any discussion about the fire; only the storm was discussed, which now was almost over. I headed down the stairs in what was only a light rain.

After an hour, the sky turned a brilliant orange. Mammatus clouds hung like clusters of some bizarre orange fruit. Soon after, enough of the clouds evaporated to allow the setting sun to shine under the thinning deck. A low rainbow appeared in the east and it was completely clear around the horizon.  Distant objects were distinct in the rain cleared air.

By twilight, there was nothing left to show for the storm, except what little water that was still trapped on the deck and a few cirrus that distorted the first stars of the night. The storm was over, leaving nothing but memories, which are still vivid after the passage of almost 40 years. It was a hell of a storm. I haven't seen one like it since that evening.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lost and Found and Lost

I was looking for product manufacturer on the web this morning. I found a few sites, but one was notable due to the PDF's available for download. That was good, since the engineering information was available.

I downloaded the information, which caused a few computer glitches due to the size of the files. I've had this happen before, but it's a minor inconvenience. Giving an engineer the information they need for product approval is a good thing.

So, I called the nearest sales office. It was disconnected. No problem, they probably moved and haven't updated their website. I tried the next to nearest; same thing; disconnected. Last option was to call corporate, which I did. I was rewarded with a recorded message asking me to refinance while the interest rates are low.

Long story short: I did a little research and found the company, which is a really big company, dropped this particular product. There was not enough money to be made, I guess. They do have a wonderful, useless web site.

There's a New Chapter

I'm putting them as separate pages.

A Media Blunder...Or Was It?

My wife and I disagree on the event in Florida. In fact, we're almost opposite in opinion. I'm thinking some of this disagreement is due to selective editing of public information to promote an agenda. While NBC was caught doing just that, I'm thinking they aren't the only one.

This article at Newsmax details one known occasion of selective editing.

I just read a news report that stated the original film of Zimmerman when he arrived at the police station was digitized by the FBI to allow a clearer video. The digitized video shows damage to the back of Zimmerman's head. Otherwise, my suspicion that the media has subverted justice and caused irreparable harm is no longer a suspicion.