Sunday, December 20, 2009

Orchard Road Girl Reindeers

If you haven't seen Singapore around Christmas time its certainly worth a visit. Head down to Orchard road for the visual spectacle. This is the  holy grail of commercialism - soak it up!

I was here for a day or two to pick up a visa. Its very popular place for tourists and singaporeans alike. There were a lot of people taking pictures today. Hard to get a clean shot in.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Dilbert Moment

Our company has a lot of really clever people working for it. They hang out in a group called operations support whose job it is to take questions/problems from the field and come up with new ideas, workarounds, or solutions to these questions/problems. There is in fact a website dedicated to this process and you can follow the status of your problems as they work their way through the system. Generally it works pretty well and makes for some interesting reading.
So much by way of introduction. A while back I had been asked by  sales what limits there were on the weight of a tool string that could be effectively picked up on a piece of cable (sorry here is where stuff starts to get a bit technical). Most our documentation (and industry for that matter) deals with safe working loads and failure loads under static or near static condition. We can design a tensile weak point to pull out at 10000 lbs give or take a few pounds due to statistics and temperature. The same weak point can be pulled to say 7000 lb a million times reliably without ever experiencing a failure. In light of this it was suggested that for this application we could put a 7000 lb weight on this cable with no issues right?
Well not really.
The dynamics of moving that cable up and down in a wellbore haven't been taken into consideration. F=ma and all that. In other words by suddenly stopping a cable with a large weight on the end of it may exceed our 10000 LB weak point limit. And that means our million dollar tool falls off the cable and we would look like dorks for suggesting that we run a tool that size on cable in the first place.
Problem is we haven't done any research into this, so in terms of what accelerations (and hence stresses) that could reasonably expected, we have no data. And herein lies my Dilbert moment. I simply requested the support group (smart types PhDs physicist etc...) if there were any published guidelines for weak point selection given the uncertainties in stresses on the weak point due to accelerations.
Then I sat back and waited
and waited
and waited...
A few months later I got the response that, as of now, I am the caseworker for this little problem. Huh? Well excuse me. I did not submit a project study request. I submitted a technical action request. There is a difference. Really, if the company wanted me to set out policy I'm all for it. But we have people in place to do this sort of stuff. I don't have a 1000m test well and a spool of wireline in my backyard. And I can't ask the lady at the warung if she happens to have some accelerometers and a data recording system (fun to try tho...).
Today I received noticed that this request had been in the system too long and that I needed to finish it.
Hence the cartoon.
Isn't it fun to ask questions and draft your own responses?
Who knew problem resolution could be so easy?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Geriatric Menace

You see them everywhere, dressed in their worn Pecis and tattered Kebayas.



Wandering around menacingly with firewood strapped to their back...

Squatting by the roadside with kreteks stuck to their lips. Casing out their opportunities.

Motionless as snakes waiting to strike.

You know who I'm talking about. It's those nasty old people. Just the other day one was arrested for stealing a bunch of bananas. That’s right an ENTIRE BUNCH! A few weeks ago it was cocoa pods. Three of 'em! And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I'm telling you now the police and government here really need to do more to protect the wealthy in this country. It's truly a crime when such wanton pilferage is allowed to go unchecked. And how can the people expect the police to catch the big fish if the little ones are allowed to flout the law? An example needs to be made.

The miscreant in this banana theft is no stranger to thievery. Only a few years earlier he had stolen a chicken for some nefarious purpose. They should have thrown the book at him then. Instead the softies in the justice system let him back on the street and voila, a banana tree has been mercilessly separated from her fruit. Now apologists will try to engender sympathy for this crook by pointing out that he is old and half blind. That’s just what these types of thieves want you to think. Don't mind us old folks. We are just doddering around here here mind'n our own business - next thing you know your mango tree has one less mango.

I'm getting a dog. A big one

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Road Warrior

5:00 AM

Three cups of strong black coffee.
 A bowl of oatmeal mixed with bananas and brown sugar.

I am probably more awake now then I will be all day. I need to be. Strap on some shoes and head down to where the Tiger is parked. A few turns of the starter and she comes alive, purring softly in anticipation. I feel a cool hardness transform my persona. As lower my helm my over my head mild mannered PJ no longer exists. I have become the Road Warrior.

As the Road Warrior I join thousands of like minded individuals who partake in the daily death race up the bypass from Kerobokan to Jimbaran. Their welcoming cacophony greets me as I join their fraternity: the hoover of the Mios and Varios, the purr of the Tigers and Vixions, and the occasional deep rumble of the Harleys.

As road warriors we share the same mission - to get ahead of the other guy by any means possible.

Bali is probably one of the few places on earth where motorists accelerate while approaching a red light. It’s important to remember that driving here is competitive, and you can still progress while the light is red by squeezing ahead of the other guy. Suspend any sort of altruistic notions that you may ever have entertained in you life. No gap is too narrow. If you can get your nose into it you are in. Signal lights? Use ‘em as decoys to confuse potential overtakers. Lanes? Mere references - not to be taken seriously – make your own. Cars? Think of them as moving hazards or as poles in a slalom course. The ends here justify any and all means and the ends here means the front of the queue.

Of course this type of temperament is not without cost. Accidents are common on the battlefield. Many a road warrior bears the scars of the asphalt’s tarry embrace. And today, like every day at one or two will join that big bypass in the sky, victims of their own or their neighbor’s recklessness. Still apart from a few signboards advising warriors to wear helmets and slow down little has been done to change the attitude of most warriors from that of indifference to their fate.

Easing into Udayana I can slowly relax and release the death grip on the handlebars. My pulse gradually drops below 300 as the adrenalin dissipates in my blood. The road is narrower here which means less traffic and less places for other warriors to surprise you with sudden turns, stops, and starts. The air is cooler as well and I cautiously raise my visor to get a taste of it. At that moment a truck pulls out in from of me engulfing all of us in black exhaust so heavy that I have to shower it off.


There will always be one last truck.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Caveat Emptor

An interesting piece on the Op/Ed page of the Jakarta Post. I can only advise anyone investing in real estate here not to bet the farm. Would love to know which of the gazillion villa projects currently underway this one is.

Letter: We find no justice

Wed, 11/25/2009 2:13 PM

We are Dutch who live in Spain. My husband was born in Surabaya and lived in Bandung until he was 17 years old. He still speaks Indonesian. We met someone in Bali who had a project to build 28 villas, but he needed investors.

We had a real estate company in Spain for 13 years and a big network. We had the investors and using our money, we could start the project. We used our money and our partner from Bali brought nothing.

When all the money was in, he started attacking us. Our office manager told us he would never give back our or our investor's money. This saga has gone on for almost five years. My husband is partner, investor and president commissioner, but when he asked four questions of our Bali partner, he got back four pages of rebuttal and no answers.

This partner took money out of the bank and put it in a private safe. He already had two high salaries. The budget, made by him to draw in investors, became three times the first budget's total, meaning there was no money left for the investors.

My husband had very good contact with all our employees, but our partner forbade them to talk to my husband, their boss. However, we found out there were several potential employees to build the villa's kitchens and one was his friend from Java. The pay was 30 percent higher than other employees. His friend got the position. Our partner earned money through commissions.

The partner then fired the employees, because they liked my husband too much. He employed new workers and forbid them to communicate with my husband and kept him away from the office. My husband arranged to have a forensic audit done by an accounting firm from Jakarta four times, two of which involving the police, but they were sent away by our partner.

One accountant had to wait an hour and a half outside, while the police were inside talking with our partner. Again they had to go. What went under the table? My husband wrote to ministers, we informed the Dutch and Canadian Embassies and more. We have hearings, but even when the outcome is positive, our partner offers much money to the judge. We are paying lawyers much money, but we go on, because there must be some justice in Indonesia.

It cannot be that somebody, who lives in Bali, can rip off hardworking and honest investors from Europe when he did not bring in one penny and wants to be the sole owner of the project, helped by police, judges and lawyers. My husband began a criminal case two times, but nothing has happened.

Now our partner is attempting to get his hand on all the documents to put the project under his name. But we will fight this until the end. And we will inform the media not to invest in Indonesia, because you can be sure about one thing, you will be cheated. There is no justice in Indonesia.

Clarie Morks

Marbella, Spain

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sock Puppets

I find this absurd. What purpose in having TV presenters in full ninja? Might as well just have sock puppets or a radio show. The show is aired in Saudi Arabia and you can follow the comments on Al-Arabiya.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Parking Spot

No system is foolproof as fools are ingenious
- Corollary to Murphy’s Law

This is a longish post. Better get a coffee.

Oh for the good old days of the Tukang Parkir. Back in the day the man with a whistle had an almost arcane power over all vehicles in his domain. It was always interesting to me how he could guide cars reversing back to the left, right, or straight with the exact same series of gestures. Maybe the cars could understand him? The Tukang Parkir lived on the tips of his clients and seemed to recognize whether you had paid him or not from memory. Nowadays the tukang parkir is slowly being phased out in the name of automated billing systems and toll booth attendants. This trend away from the human element may make sense from the business standpoint but there are some rather glaring disadvantages which occurred to me while using one of these newfangled parking systems.

A while ago I had occasion to head down to Tuban where there was a shop in a well known mall that carried exactly what I was looking for. Heading into Tuban is always a challenge. It’s a maze of one way streets that serve no particular purpose that I can fathom (probably deserves a post of its own). The mall is located on a single lane road that is shared with taxis, buses, motorbikes, horse drawn buggies and pull carts. The buses and taxis are forever stopping to pickup passengers and nothing moves faster than the horse carts. The motorbikes weave from side to side opportunistically looking for that momentary gap between 2 vehicles to slide in and past. All part of the fun in blistering heat.

Having finally reached the mall the next thing is to get a place to park. Now at this point some explanation to the byzantine parking process is required. First you get your parking ticket. The ticket has to be paid inside the mall where the clerk validates the ticket. The gate attendant then takes the ticket at the parkade exit gate. Having received my parking card dutifully time stamped by the gate attendant I made my way cautiously into the dark recesses of the parking lot - the space reserved exclusively for motorbikes. Nosing in I was shocked to see the degree of disorganization and chaos. There was not a space to be had. There were bikes everywhere! Bikes were even parked on the access ways, constricting the path to the point where I to edge my way around the corners as I desperately searched for a spot to park. Damm there is absolutely nothing here. With nowhere to park I headed towards the exit. My plan now was to park a few blocks away and hoof it back to the mall.

This cunning plan began to go pear shaped when I tried to get past the parking attendant.  Just between us I'm not sure what sort of qualifications is required to to be a parking attendant. From the outsiders view they appear very much like a failed immigration officer - someone with a tiny bit of power combined with narrow view of their own duties. They are not persuaded by commonsense arguments such as why should I pay for parking if there is none available nor possess the comprehension that to pay one's ticket, one needs to park - the cashier is inside remember? What they are capable of understanding is two things: first to take the ticket and open the gate and second; let security deal that those miscreants and shit disturbers (namely moi) who refuse to pay for the privilege of driving through a dark stuffy underground parkade. So when faced with my complaint you can surmise what happenned next.

It’s surprising how quickly security can turn up. Even more surprising is how many. Within a few moments of my discussion with the parking attendant a sea of blue uniforms surrounded me and my bike. I wondered if this was how General Custer felt riding over the hill to find all those Indians waiting for him. Where did these guys come from? Two goons put a firm grip on my bike, (to keep me from getting away I suppose) and the rest did their best tough guy imitation. You know the look: arms crossed, unsmiling, shoulders back - they must practice that in a mirror -waiting for me to make the next move. I had a brief hilarious vision of going all Chuck Norris on their assses but I simply repeated my claim to the senior security fellow that if I was sold a non-parking spot then I shouldn't have to pay. By now there were people lining up behind me patiently honking their horns and trying to drive over us to get to the gate. The head guard thought furiously for a few moments then hit on a solution.

"It’s useless to complain to us Pak" he intimated to me. "We are just the staff. The management office is just upstairs so why don't you head on up to complain to them. We will look after your bike for you." As there was no other real option a parking spot was allocated to me (next to the booth actually- sweet!) and off I went in search of the admin office. At this point I really had what I wanted in the first place but I decided to find out for myself how the complaint process was handled.

If this mall is anything to go by I strongly recommend that all customers in all malls complain as much as possible. The reason being that the PR staff at the mall is extremely well spoken and easy on the eyes. You might even get a free cup of tea out of the process - I did. The complaint form itself was pretty small – mayhap they couldn’t imagine that anyone could find something to complain about. There was however a space for name, telephone number and email address which I dutifully filled in. The PR girl assured me with her 1000 ship smile that I would be contacted soon by the senior management who would deal with my complaint.

Yeah Right....

Several months later I am still waiting.........hello....i'm here....anybody there?????

In the good old days the tukang parkir who would have had this sort of issue sorted out in no time. Using the modern method and filling out all that paperwork I have yet to receive even the acknowledgment from the mall management that a problem exists. Don't even get me started on the whole empowerment issue that there is not a single manager in a major shopping centre who has enough fiduciary authority to comp a 1000 Rp parking ticket . Apparently this can only be done in Jakarta. Some progress!

I want my tukang parkir back.

1000 Rp – about 10 cents. Its not about the money

Tukang Parkir – Parking can be a chore in Indonesia. The tukang parking is a guy that helps people get parked and unparked. Armed with a whistle and a 3 word vocabulary they are uniquely skilled and getting you in and out with a minimum of fuss.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The free lunch

You know it has to be the oldest line ever. "You can't get something for nothing". And yet in spite of this sage advice the human spirit still can't resist the mirage of getting something for free. Whether it’s a marketing gimmick or a 419 scam the appeal for the free lunch pulls us as relentlessly as gravity. We fall for it every time. I was reminded of this human failing by two recent events. The first was a stampede at the City Hall in Jakarta. The Governor was having an open house to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Visitors were to receive a free gift of food and a small amount of cash. Although he probably meant well the governor chose to have this open house in spite of a similar gathering causing a stampede in Surabaya a year ago that resulted in the deaths of 21 people. Leaders should know better - why engage in such risky behaviour? The other little event was a potato giveaway in Canada that caused massive traffic jam and 8 km queues. The spectacle of affluent people lining up (in their SUVs) for free potatoes beggars belief.
The frenzy for the free lunch is not a new phenomenon by any means. I can recall back in my college/bartending days some bright light manager had the idea of giving away free chilli con queso (it was a Mexican theme cafe and bar) and tortilla chips during happy hour. Once word reached the street we were deluged with clients of the worst possible description jostling over who was first in line at 5:00 when the con queso pans hit the floor. They were lining up outside the building for their free snack and most became indignant when I mentioned that they really needed to order a drink if they wanted to stay there. I had a similar experience with an all-you-can-eat spaghetti night at another establishment. Within a few weeks of the promotion the largest, hungriest people imaginable converged on our little cafe like ravenous piranhas. It was almost like they were trying to outdo each other in their gluttonous frenzy. After a few more weeks we finally had to cancel the promotion as it was simply too painful to watch grown men (and women) eat 4 large plates of spaghetti every Thursday evening.

Now in no way am I discouraging charity, charitable acts, or charitable people. These people should be commended. Charitable action though, should be done carefully or even anonymously. It seems to do no good to the giver or the receiver when the act of giving results in pandemonium. Likewise any political message given though free potatoes is lost in the circus that followed. Overt displays of largesse do tend to bring out the worst in people. In spite of all our philosophies, moralizing, laws and ethics we are still quite literally willing to walk over our neighbour for a free lunch.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The New Guy

"If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions?”

Scott Adams

I took my moral compass for a spin the other day.It started when received a new trainee. Trainees can be all kinds of fun - they are just so naive -you can tell them anything. This one is no exception. We are getting him from our IT department. Something of a promise from a departing manager. Why anyone would want to leave the safety of IT for an operations job is beyond me(Oh yeah its the money). Anyway new guy belongs to me(and the other engineers in our group) for the next year or so. Basically his job is to follow me around and do what I do. Its sort of like having a puppy except that this puppy is not cute and cuddley - he is naive and for a cynic like me, a moral dilemma.

The oil patch for all its negative points has a lot going for it workwise. There is a lot of camaraderie on the office as well as a fair bit of practical jokes played on people who are either too serious or just plain green. to some extent a thick skin is required. Practical jokes usually involve some sort of make work program or a request for some non-existent item. Which brings me to the point of my quandary.

Newguy just asked me where he can find a key to the V-Door. (A V-door is just a ramp on a drilling rig to connect the drill floor to the catwalk - there ain't no key.)
I know that someone is putting him on.
Our conversation went thus: (I'll put my thoughts in parentheses )

NG: PJ do you know where the key to the V-door is?

me: not sure. how long have you been looking for it? (this is pure fishing on my part - usually these little quests last about a few hours or so)

NG: I have been looking for one for about a month now.

Me: (holy shit is he serious...who else is in on this?). You don't say...well who have you talked to.

NG: well lets see ...the district manager, the operations manager, some of the other engineers....I emailed a few other guys as well but so far no one has replied.

At this point I can visualise the lil' angel on one shoulder and the lil' devil on the other. I could have explained to him that this was just evil prank but really after one month he could have at least googled V-door no?

I suppose you can can guess how this conversation ended...

Me: (suppressing large grin - difficult but I managed somehow) have you checked with the shop foreman? Let me talk to him for you.

NG: Gee thanks PJ.

Me: (masking the irony) Hey I'm here to help.

As I write this newguy, on advice from our shop foreman, has expanded his search to the other divisions as well as some other companies here in port. The quest could even be expanded overseas as a portion of newguys training will occur in India. I'm not sure if India is full of skyhooks, left-handed monkey wrenches, buckets of stream and of course V-door keys but I can always ask my colleague there who happens to be the man in charge over there.

I'm sure there is a special hell for oilfield workers. See you there!



Some other oilfield favorites. These pranks will only make sense if you have worked on a well site. Otherwise you can just smile politely after each paragraph.

Calibrating The Sheave - this involves placing a grease mark on a cable sheave wheel and having the new guy "calibrate cable depth by raising his left arm with every rotation and his right arm with every 5 rotation. The man on the hoist can, by carefully selecting the speed can have the new guy flapping his arms like a chicken.

Activating The Source. This involves rolling a radio-active storage container (which looks like a large beer keg - but heavier) around the wellsite to activate the neutrons inside. Not done anymore as far as I know(hse issues here). Especially fun on muddy locations.

The Hydraulic Leak - a favorite for mechanics and tool techs(especially around april 1st). Simply arrive for work 1 hour early and liberally pour hydraulic oil beneath whatever project that the mechanic was working on the day before. Sit back and enjoy a medium roast columbian whilst awaiting the screams and the sound of spanners flying across the floor.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I am cruising down highway 21 in central Alberta. Looks nice doesn't it. Or it could look lonelier than hell. Depends on your viewpoint. I'm a person who needs from time to time to get out on my own. You can't get more alone than this.

Some time ago I worked in this landscape. My job consisted of driving out to an oil rig, recording some data, and driving back home. Those oil rigs were all over the province so, as a result, I became very good at knowing the best roads, the quietest hotels, and restaurants with the best hot roast beef sandwiches. Typically we would work 2 weeks on 24-hour call followed by a much needed week off. At the time I enjoyed the flexible schedule as it gave me a chance to pursue other hobbies such as skiing and sailing. I also liked seeing the countryside even if it was out of the window of a pickup truck. The funny thing is I had always taken the scenery for granted. I suppose if you see this kind of stuff every day for 10 years it gets old. I thought that as long as I was on holiday I may as well do a little road trip to follow again my old stomping grounds just for the fun of it - without any particular place to go.
I had a destination in mind - Calgary. But instead of taking the direct route I took the backroads through the farm belts of Camrose and Stettler and the badlands of Drumheller.
If you can ever get out of the city you will see these giant hay bales sitting around all over the place. Before the oil boom Alberta was an agricultural province. There is still a very significant proportion of the population living in small towns and farm communities.
Also ubiquitous to the landscape are the grain elevators. Everything grown here is collected and shipped out to Prince Rupert by train.

The badlands near Drumheller. Its amazing how quickly the terrain changes here. The flatlands of that grain elevator were only 2 km away. I've seen similar valleys (wadis) in Yemen - particularly in Hadramout - we are just a bit greener here.

Drumheller is also well know for its dinosaurs. There is a spectacular museum called the Tyrrell Museum Of Paleontology. It's a visual treat. If I had kids I would surely take them there.

More of the same. The trip down here from Edmonton took about 4 hours. The roast beef sandwich that I had on the way in Stettler was just as tasty as it was 15 years ago.
I arrived in Calgary later that afternoon. Normally its only a 3 hour commute. But today with all the stops I needed 8 hours to make the trip. I should have been exhausted but I felt strangely refreshed. After all didn't someone say that for every journey half the fun is getting there. In a world that seems more virtual every day - shouldn't we do the real things every now and then?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The race this weekend reminded me of a poem that pops into my head whenever I'm on water. Went something like this...

Of all the winds that ever blew.
Into all the sails that were ever made.

Left no mark upon the earth
They blew
They filled a sail.
They pushed a boat.

And after they had done their work
The earth remained the same!

Can't say the same for a Jet-Ski or a Wake Board.

Free boatride if you can tell me who the poet is-was. (sorry plane ticket not included)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The World In A Day

What do you talk about when you get home from a trip? Well sometimes you talk about the food you tried. Often you talk about some unique item that you picked up at a local market, marche, souk, bazaar, or pasar. You might even mention a local dance or cultural tradition that you witnessed. Now wouldn't it be nice if you could get all those experiences at one place, without the hassle of airports, bad taxis, smelly hotels, greasy touts and crappy toilets?
Well you can.
But only in Canada eh.
And only in my home town.

The Edmonton Heritage Festival has be running now for 34 years. I'm not sure who thought of it but what a brilliant idea. Basically the organisers went around to all the ethnic communities and asked them to each set up a pavilion in a park for 3 days. The pavilion could have handicrafts unique to that ethnic group or culture as well as food treats. Later on the pavilions were allowed to set up stages to present music, dance or well...whatever. Hundreds of thousands of people show up to this event every year, making it one of the most successful summer festivals in the country.

I just arrived here on Sunday. So I only caught the last day. Still we were lucky in that the weather gods were favorable (sometimes it snows here in August) and we were able to enjoy a perfect day. It would be really tough to see everything in one day - there were 62 pavilions representing everyone from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. I did manage to get a few pics of the pavilions we managed to visit. Please enjoy.

What cultural festival in Canada would be complete without an Indian Teepee? The First Nations pavilions featured some spectacular local artists.

Scandinavian pavilion complete with longboat. Why am I reminded of Beowulf?

The Japanese pavilion put on a kendo display

The Indonesian community has had a pavilion here for the last 3 years now. Unfortunately they had some trouble with the sound system today but the kitchen was open. They served up some very passable beef rendang as well as sate ayam. They were sharing the stage with the Dutch contingent - check out the skirts on the stage.

The Dragon from the Chinese pavilion In addition to china proper, Hong Kong and Taiwan also had pavilions. The Chinese were probably the first asian immigrants into Canada and were instrumental in the building of the national railroad.

I saved the best for last. The Arabs put on an awesome display in their pavilion. I think they won first prize (again) this year. Everything here from spices to jewelry to clothing to hubbly bubbly (water pipes - my favorite) is here.

I really can't think of too many better ways to kill a day. After a few hours of tromping about we got home stuffed and exhausted. Edmonton has a well deserved reputation as a cold and dreary place in the winter time. However on a day like today I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Morality - Tangerang Style

Don't let your morals prevent you from doing whats right
Issac Asimov

It sucks to be a poor kid in Indonesia. It sucks even more when you have to shine shoes at the airport instead of going to school like the other kids. And it really sucks when police arrest you for gambling when you are just playing a coin tossing game for pennies. All in the name of morality.

Apparently these kids in Tangerang must be a fearsome lot because the police felt the need to threaten them with their firearms. Too dangerous to be sent home they were hauled off to detention - for a month - instead of allowing them to stay with their families. Then they convicted them of gambling and now have criminal records. All of this in a city whose motto is ahlakul karimah (Good morals).

A Rogues Gallery

Fachrozi Hanapi - One of the arresting officers, Pak Fachrozi felt compelled to threaten children with his sidearm while making the arrest. The man will probably get a medal. Makes you wonder what kind of people get into the police force these days.

Suyono - Tangerang district chief prosecutor. Surprisingly enough he was willing to prosecute this case after having the option to demand an acquittal. What did he have to prove and what self-respecting prosecutor would want this on his record?

Retno Pujiningtyas - The judge who presided over this farce and convicted all the children. Better that she said than risk having them become repeat offenders. I suppose she has that tough love thing going. Pity her kids.

Wahadin Halim - The mayor of Tangerang who really should be paying more attention to what is going on in his city. Perhaps he had a busy skins game the day the kiddies were convicted.

All of this police time, court time, and prison time for what is essentially a few kids playing a game. Whatever happened to giving those kids a good talking to? The real crooks must be settling in Tangerang - the police and courts are way too busy with frivolous cases to worry about chase the preman, thieves, con artists and corrupters .

In Halim's crusade for moraltopia children are the casualties.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Angola Revisited

Its been some time since I've been down in West Africa. Almost 2 years since I've been to Angola. There have been positive changes. There are a lot of new buildings under construction. The Railway is up and running now. There are the beginnings of a highway going north from Luanda. The Airport has a new arrival hall. Unfortunately some things haven't changed. The traffic is still horrendus. There is still nowhere to park. The visa process is still a giant clusterfcuk. And the food in Sonils still sucks - big time.

I'm was kind of expecting to be here. Apparently some work that some people thought was easy went badly wrong. I'm here to lend some experience to the operation. As a result my cunning plan to go to Ghana has been put on indefinite hold. The good news is that there is a real possibility for an extended contract here. We have all been looking over our shoulders since last October - the company is in the midst of an intensive reshuffle. Any kind of perceived job security is good news. The other good news is that we are getting all kinds of new and fancy equipment to do this work.

We are at the moment in the modelling stage. Hopefully we will deploy next week. Still a few things to do before all ready to go but my confidence at the moment is high. Here's to a successful campaign!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Tournament

For some reason I enjoy Golf. Maybe its the joy of tromping around in high heat and humidity. Maybe its the pert caddies. Maybe its for that one-in-a-thousand shot amongst all the slices, duffs, shanks, hooks, and missed putts. Take your pick. So although I am a serious duffer I quite welcome the opportunity to get out on the course for a few holes and into the clubhouse for a few beers post-play.

It was not too difficult to convince me therefore to enter into a charity tournament a few weeks back at New Kuta Golf. The tournament was held to benefit the R.O.L.E. Foundation. It could've been a benefit for the society of wayward oilfield expats for all I care - any excuse is a good reason to play.
So Sunday afternoon Buddy and I found ourselves on the Tee box with a cooler full of beer, waiting for the third member of our flight to show up. Now usually I recommend playing golf with strangers. Its a great way to meet people and its always surprising to find out who knows who. But this time was different. This time our stranger was Mr 18 handicap. I sure 18 handicap has a real name but I really don't care if he does. Anyone who introduces themselves by announcing their handicap is a social equivalent of the guy at the party who talks constantly about his Mercedes parked out front. Furthermore I have serious doubts about anyone wearing sweatbands on a golf course.

After making his presence known 18 handicap then proceeded to the tee box to make his drive. Buddy and I watched in anticipation. We waited while 18 handicap made a few cursory practice swings with his thousand dollar graphite driver. We waited some more while 18 handicap made impressive faux measurements of topography and wind velocity using only his driver - apparently now it was also a sextant, surveying device and anemometer. We waited while 18 handicap made minuscule adjustments to his stance while simultaneously moving his head up towards his target and back down towards the ball - perhaps he was concerned that either the fairway or the ball would disappear if he took his eyes off it - who knows. All I know it was taking way too long to make this shot. Jeez Louise I thought, just hit the damn ball already. Finally 18 handicap took his stroke and fired the ball 260 yards straight into a gully. What a putz! Now there is nothing in golf better than watching someone you don't like make a spectactular bad shot. Makes you feel warm all over. In our case it meant that 18 handicap had to go through his interminable routine all over again but in a way it was worth it. Buddy took advantage of the delay by burying himself in the beer cooler. Not a bad place to be.

Several hours (and beers) our little flight has the dubious distinction of being the last people on the golf course. Thanks to 18 handicap by the time we had finished everyone else had gone home. As the Marshall handed me my door prize he mentioned , "we had to put 18 handicap with you and buddy pj - no one else would play with him".

Now you tell me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

An update on the lapindo thing.

Photo clipped from here
The Lapindo debacle has been ongoing for just over 3 years now. Recently a report commissioned by Medco somehow found its way to Al-Jazeera. Its such an interesting report that I just had to post some of the findings here. Medco was a partner in the Lusi well.

You can read or download the entire report here.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. The level of incompetence demonstrated by the operator in this case is astounding. Basically the report says that the well plan was inadequate, the drilling and geological personnel were incompetent, and the rig was in no condition to drill anything. Furthermore the actions of the operator after encountering lost circulation demonstrated no understanding of the problem and no clue of what to do. Basically they tried to run away.

Here is a teaser (executive summary) below. The author is Neal Adams

Lapindo Brantas, Inc. as the Operator of the Brantas Block in East Java planned and drilled the Banjar Panji No. 1 Well. The well was spudded on 9 March 2006. After drilling to 9,297 feet and reaching the Kujung formation, lost circulation was encountered. An attempt was made to pull the drill string out of the hole. A kick was taken when the bit was at 4,241 feet. An underground blowout occurred and subsequently created an above ground blowout.
Primary causation of the blowout was due to numerous operational mistakes as well as errors and omissions. Lapindo violated its own Well Plan by failing to install casing at 6,500 feet and also at ~9,000 feet. The installation of either casing string, with a proper cement job, would have prevented the kick and subsequent blowout.
The kick taken with the bit at 4,241 feet was incorrectly diagnosed and handled by Lapindo.
Several attempts were made to kill the flow before Lapindo turned its focus to the stuck pipe.
These kill attempts were nearly successful at killing the underground blowout that had developed. It appears that Lapindo did not have the technical competence to recognize that its pumping operations would likely be successful at killing the underground blowout if they had continued.
The numerous errors and omissions by Lapindo in causing the Banjar Panji No. 1 blowout can be considered as negligent, grossly negligent and/or criminally endangering the lives of the crew and surrounding residents as well as endangering the environment.
Lapindo bears the sole responsibility for the blowout.

There was another interesting comment made by a Lapindo spokesman basically stating that Lapindo had been given permission not to run protective casing by The energy watchdog (BPMigas I think - correct me if I'm wrong). If thats the case then Migas too shares the blame of incompetence in this disaster.

Given all this its a wonder why people are not rioting in the streets.

VSP - Vertical Seismic Profile. - A seismic survey whereby the receivers run into the wellbore. Offers several refinements to surface seismic incuding: a) depth correlation-surface seismic is time based b) improved resolution - the geophones are much closer to the features that you are trying to identify and c) lookahead capabilities using VSP are much more accurate than surface seismic.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Quest

Or ...a potty post...or a guy thing

I think its safe to say that men have a strange affinity to toilets. There are few places on earth more peaceful and tranquil than the privacy of one's privy, enjoying a magazine, (or book as needs must) while allowing nature takes its course. Closing that door opens one to a new world where only the immediate is of concern. There is also the sense of security that one is able to proceed with one's business undisturbed as is not always the case in a public toilet or an airline toilet. Its these disturbances that really cause me to shun the public commode where possible - given the choice I will always wait till I get home to do my business.

You can imagine then, after arriving from a 24 hour plane ride I found myself urgently in need of relief. In my haste I neglected to follow the first rule of toiletry - make sure the damn thing works before getting on the pot. After seeing to my needs I went to push the little button on top of the tank. Unfortunately there was no sound of water running merrily into the bowl. In fact the little button resisted all attempts to be moved into the flush position. WTF? Opening the top cover I stared in consternation at the absence of water in the tank. WTF? When I left home everything was fine. What is going on? My toilet, my porcelain throne, my inner sanctum had been defiled by the the twin demons of time and high calcium content of the water. This situation required immediate action so, after flushing out the jet lag with a bucket I wrote down everything that resembled a brand or model number on my till-now-trusty-commode and the following morning set out to replace the calcified guts of my loo. Little did I know...

A little background. I'll have you know I happen to be an engineer. Years of re-inventing the wheel has given me the conceit that, with enough time and money I can figure anything out. Toilets are not exactly high tech - should be a snap right? Well the first cracks in that little fantasy when I arrived at the first toko bahan bangunan (building supplies store). For the next 6-7 hours and several shops later I had several interesting variations of the following conversation.

Staff: Good morning sir. How can we help you?

Me: Good morning. I'm looking for some spare parts to fix my toilet.

Staff: Of course sir. May I know the brand of toilet you have.

Me: Of course! Its brand x.

Staff: ooooooooooooh! brand xxxxxxx....

Now when you get the oooooh delivered in a singsong it can mean one of two things. First that the staff you are talking to has no idea what the hell you are talking about. You may as well been asking for parts to a titan missile. Second, that he remembers brand x vaguely, as it was something he saw once in his youth, in a neighbors house somewhere in Java. "Sorry sir we don't have that brand here....have you tried my friends shop down road...perhaps he can help you." And so my first toiletless day passed in Futile quest through Denpasar going from building supply store to building supply store. Eventually I came to the realisation that brand x was one of those items like print cartridges. Here today gone tomorrow.

That evening I reasoned to myself that toilets should not be too different on the inside. I should be able to find some generic parts somewhere that I could use. A small voice inside was saying to me "PJ...replace the'll be easier" but I steadfastly ignored it. I was after all an engineer. I had worked on multi million dollar projects, a mere toilet was no match for my cunning. Putting the failings of the day behind me I slept the dreamless sleep of the man with a plan.

Bright and early the next day I was back at the the toko bahan bangunan. As it turned out I was partially correct in my theory of the evening before. But choosing the right generic parts proved in itself to be something of a challenge. As I can now tell you there are more permutations on the inner workings of a toilet than there are types of women's shoes. In all its sort of a testament to the ingenuity of the mundane or the number of different ways to skin a cat. Quite simply I was amazed at the length that people will go to to ensure the perfect, most reliable, flush. After studying a number of different contraptions I choose an assembly that I thought might work and hurried home to do my best imitation of Tim Allen .

Arriving home I immediately set to work. Everything was going fine until I noticed that the flush mechanism was 2 inches longer than the tank. Damm its too big! The little voice in my my head was decidedly sarcastic at this point:" toldya to buy a new one PJ". Firmly ignoring that voice I studied the flusher more carefully. It looked to be modular and sure enough, with the help of my trusty Swiss army knife could be shortened. "Ha! I am getting somewhere" I thought as I was putting the top back on the tank. Filling the tank needed only a slight adjustment and pushing the button resulted in a most satisfying sploosh which was only partially mitigated by the fact that I had forgotten the replace the seal between tank and bowl and had just flooded the bathroom. D'oh!

Eventually I replaced that seal and my toilet is now good as new. Better actually. If there is a lesson here I suppose its sometimes better to let the professionals do things that you can do yourself. Equally though its important to do things yourself just so you can say you have done them. I don't think I have much of a future as a toilet repair man but at least I will know what the next one is talking about when it comes time to fix the loo.

Now about that flickering lamp at the gate. Should be a cinch to fix....

Monday, May 25, 2009


OK I'm a little behind the times. This was old news. Shows you how connected I am.
Apparently if you are planning your next Antarctic expedition a cheeseburger may be high on the list of must-have items. I guess the days of pemmican and trail mix are long gone.
Personally I think that the canburger is possibly the nastiest product on the Internet. At first I thought it could only be made in America. But I was wrong. It actually comes from Switzerland??!! WTF? Why can't they stick to chocolate...or banks..or ski resorts?

Where can you buy this stuff? When I follow the link I get a blank page. Is it my browser, or is the canburger not from this world? Curiosity is killing me.
Has anybody actually tried this product? Would you admit it if you did? Is it one of those guilty pleasures?
All these questions. I'm losing sleep already.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

oops....more delays

In case you didn't know this is a 12 1/4" Drill Bit. Weighs about 140 lb.

This is the same bit after being mashed in the hole for 24 hours or so. Not much left is there. Don't think I've ever seen one quite so bad. Usually there is some indication when a bit is about to fail but the warning signs were either not apparent or ignored. Now the drilling people have to figure out how to get the missing metal bits out of the hole. They already tried with magnets with no success. The next thing to try will be a junk mill.

If that doesn't work then the well will have to be sidetracked or abandoned. Expensive for the operator but c'est la vie. For me it means I get to go back to town for a few days.

See ya later

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Club Med

This was not exactly what I had in mind but.... as long as I am stuck out here I may as well make the best of it. I haven't seen the sea this calm in some time. Almost like a lake. I was supposed to be out here only a few days but drilling delays mean I could be here another week or so. Worse places to be. At least there is internet...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Unpopular View

The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.

Joeseph Goebbels

This will not be a popular post. If you are easily swayed by pictures of cute whitecoat seals then this probably isn't for you. Anyways...

I was not particularly surprised when I read about the recent ban of seal products into the EU. There seems to be a growing trend of false enviromentalism, cheap populism with a unhealty dose of hypocrisy thoughout what used to be Europe. Unsatisfied with their singlehanded destruction of fish stocks off the grand banks in the 80's and 90's the EU has decided to further stick it to the residents of the poorest and most isolated parts of Canada by banning the product which had hitherto comprised a significant portion of their annual income.

The main reason cited by the drafters of this ban was the "inherent cruelty" of the hunt. Excuse me? Did you say cruelty? Well lets consider some european humaneness towards animals. Muskrats on the order of 500,000 per year are killed in Belgium and Holland alone. They used to be killed for their fur but are now (since the animal rights activists lauuched a campaign) killed as a nuisance animal and the carcasses are left for rot. In France geese are force fed with a long metal tube till they die for the sole purpose of extracting their swollen livers au fois gras. Germany culls thousands of wild deer and boar for sport hunting, mostly for the trophy heads. And the nadir or course is Bull fighting in Spain where the bulls are badgered and barbed before a live audience before being put down with a sword. The european parliament seems also to have overlooked their own domestic fur farms which raises animals for the sole purpose of skinning them and dwarfs the seal hunt by a factor of 500:1. Yup it all makes me wonder how these MEPs could brand the seal hunt as cruel but somehow overlook their own little cruelties in animal welfare.

Fact is its easy for the EU to adopt a pseudo moral position in regards to seals: it doesn't cost them anything in the way of votes. I would like to seem them try to ban foix gras - the resulting jacquerie would have them climbing over each in retreat.

The real evil here are all these groups such ass IFAW, HSUS, Animal Liberation Front, Respect for Animals, PETA etc etc ad nauseum which use seals as a poster child to raise funds to support their fraudulant organisations. If there was ever a bigger bunch of hypocrites on this planet I've yet to meet them. These groups have no real interest in ecology or animal welfare. If they did they would have been doing more to stop overfishing and habitat encroachment instead of recruiting sexy starlets and other easily-led celebutards into posing in front of cameras to protect species of animals that don't need protection. No form of mis-information is too low for these groups and they seem to have a Goebbels like touch of telling the big one and hoping that the great mass of the people will fall for it. So far it appears to be working.

The EU should look to its own before labelling other peoples lifestyle choices inhumane. When Gucci starts making fashion products out of straw and the Germans start making their bratwurst from tofu then they can't start lecturing the rest of us. Hypocrites one and all.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Good for Them!

The women of Kenya are attempting a Lysistratian approach to force the male members of the country to quit dicking about and to approach their countries problems in a serious manner. Good for them I say. I offered a similar solution to a certain porn bill a while back which regrettably is now law here in Indonesia. Still, with all the present horsetrading going on in the presidential run-up this may be a good opportunity to test the Lysitratian approach.

btw.... Who names their daughter Lysistrata anyways? Damm clunky Greek names. Why wasn't she named Doris, or Chloe?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Open Road

Every now and then you just have to escape the daily chaos that is Kuta and get out on the road. I can't think of a better way to to do this than hopping on my bike and heading into the hills. Imagine, only 50 km from my front door you can sit by the lake and contemplate the effects of mass tourism on Bali. Welcome to Puraluhur Beratan, in Bedugul!

Its nice and cool here.

There is even a beringan (banyan) tree to sit under. This tree has to be the mother of all beringan. According to the temple guards it is about 150 years old. I'm sure there are lots here that are older but this one was easiest to get a photo of. These trees are huge!

You can get boat rides on the lake but this runs a bit on the pricey side - the outriggers look OK but the powerboats look a little dodgy to me. The restaurant was another shock. 24,000 Rp for the warmest orange juice in Bali. Glad I didn't try the food. There are plenty of restaurants on the way back to Kuta that offer good food at much more reasonable prices. Most come with rice terrace views.

A roadside warung just past Mengwi. Lunch here will run you 3000-5000 Rp.

After a few hours driving here I needed a break.
Finally just a note on driving here. The idea of defensive driving has yet to be fully embraced by the Balinese. Expect to be cut off, to see oncoming traffic in your lane, to see vehicles without brake lights, to see vehicles turning without signalling, to see vehicles entering the carriageway without checking for traffic, and so on. Use of the Bali Brake (the horn) is mandatory at intersections, approaching traffic, and passing. This can be stressful at first, but you will either to learn to live with it or stay off the roads. I try to take my time and usually try to stay either well ahead or well behind other vehicles. Night driving should be avoided as much as possible. If you have the patience for it, driving yourself is a much easier and cheaper way to see this island.
Hope you enjoyed the tour.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Anyone know anything about Ghana?

Looks like the Ghana contract is starting to materialize. I will be off to Ghana as soon as I can process the Visa. The Visa is proving to be a challenge as there is no Ghana High Commission here in Indo. There is in Australia but they don't do Indo. The next one is in KL. The problem with KL is that the High Commission there doesn't have a website so I had to phone them to inquire as to what the requirements were. They were more than happy to send me documents but not by email - they have to be faxed? wtf?? Who thinks up these byzantine rules? So now I am scrambling for a fax machine and a land line. I just hope I can DHL the application - I won't be happy sitting in KL for a week.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mbaaak? What are you doing to my coffee?

I like my coffee simple.

Hot and strong in the morning, maybe a touch of mocha in the afternoon. None of this half-caf, double cream orange french vanilla mocha latte for me please. So I was a little bit shocked the other day at the Dunkin Donuts in Juanda to find jelly in my ice coffee. Apparently they just added it without asking. Some sort of new promotion I suppose.

What were they thinking?

Imagine if you will an old donut chain with a 70's type interior. You need something new. Despite coffee taking off as a beverage in the last 10 years or so you haven't significantly tapped into the market and your coffee sucks. What to do?

I know. Here's an idea. Just take the jelly out of the donut in put it in the coffee. Yeah Baby!

Just pump a big blob of jelly in the bottom of an ice coffee and you too can enjoy the delicious melange of caramel jelly and coffee at the same time.


People will come for miles for the novelty. What could go wrong? Other than the fact that coffee and jelly are a mutually exclusive pair. Oh and did I mention that there is almost no way to get that jelly up a straw. You need one of those big ass straws and even then that jelly clogs the straw like a grim prophecy of what my arteries will be like in another 20 years or so of high cholesterol consumption. And the taste? Well actually there was no additional taste. Maybe because the jelly is probably just a cheap mixture of pectin and sugar and they forgot to add the artificial flavoring. I can only surmise that the whole purpose of this jelly coffee exercise is for the visceral sensation of swishing cold snot around in you mouth before swallowing. Maybe this something that the marketing people over at Dunkin do? For me its reminds of the time that I had a very bad pneumonia and was forever coughing my lungs out.

Here's a suggestion for free. Just make good coffee using premium beans and consistent practices. How hard can it be?

Tolong Mbak, Kopi aja kepan-kepan ya! (please miss, just coffee next time)

*mbak - An Indonesian honorific for a young woman...thank you carla to correct my poor spelling

*Juanda - The recently renovated airport in surabaya

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Lost Sons Of Martha

You are responsible for your work until five years after you're dead.
Professor George Ford to his students*

When I started work in Canada as an Engineer I was was required to take an Obligation before I was admitted into the profession. Basically there was a short ceremony, you take the Obligation and get your Iron Ring. As far as know the ritual is unique to Canada. The Obligation itself was written for the Canadian Engineering Institute in 1922 by the poet Rudyard Kipling(of Jungle Book fame). Mr. Kipling had earlier composed a poem entitled "The Sons Of Martha" which expresses the sentiment of the Obligation in a much more eloquent fashion.

This Obligation and its accompanying poem came to mind when I learned of the recent disaster at Situ Gintung. This is quite obviously a man made disaster and eventually someone needs to be found culpable. But Situ Gintung also reminds me of all the anonymous people whose job it it to keep the dams maintained, the power plants running, the roads resurfaced and so on. These people have a duty of care to the public which is only recognised when there is a failure. These sons of Martha were either alseep or ignored at Situ Gintung and as a result 100 people died in their beds. Unforgivable in my opinion.
Anyways here is "the Sons of Martha" Hope You enjoy it.

The sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary's Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,Tally, transport, and deliver duly,
the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains, "Be ye removed." They say to the lesser floods, "Be dry.
"Under their rods are the rocks reproved- they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit-then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.
They finger death at their gloves' end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden;from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden - under the earthline their altars are-
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city's drouth.
They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they dam'-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren's day may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat -
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that!
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessed they know the Angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessed,and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet - they hear the Word - they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and - the Lord He lays it on Martha's Sons!

Rudyard Kipling 1907

*Dr George Ford was the former Dean Of Engineering at my Alma Mater. You can read his obit here.
Photo from the bbc

The House That Joko Built (an update)

The day hums sweetly when you have enough bees working for you - Baron Vladimir Harkonnen

Last February, the groundwork for a new villa across from my place was just getting underway. A fair bit of progress has occurred since then and it now seems like a good time to update.

Now we are getting somewhere. The foundation has been filled in and the walls are up. The beginnings of the swimming pool can be seen on the left. The Villa will three bedrooms along with a living area and kitchen. The pool is planned to be one of the overflow types with a waterfall - that should look nice.

Today's usual peace and quiet was broken by the noise of a cement mixer starting up and lots of shouting of instructions in Indonesian. Today was the day for pouring cement into the forms that would soon become the main support pillars for the house. A few extra helpers were called in especially for the occasion.

The bucket brigade is at the ready.

The bucket brigade in action. The whole time there were pouring cement they were singing a song - I suppose it makes the work go by more pleasantly. Their singing is what got me out of my house to see what was going on.

The best job of the day - mixing cement! I once watched a crew build a three story hotel using one tiny cement mixer along with a block and tackle to get the cement where it needed to go. Amazing!

Someone was planning ahead or maybe he just got lucky. The gravel arrived just-in-time to go into the mixer. Who says Indonesians are not abreast with the latest critical path management techniques?
The cement will take a few days to set and then the forms can be removed and the next stage of building started. Some of the workers have taken advantage of the lull to go home for a family visit.
It will still be some time before this house gets done so I may be able to milk 1 or 2 more postings from it.

btw Just a little something on this whole villa thing.
Although there have been several villas going up in my neighborhood lately, there is still no sign of anything resembling infrastructure from the government. The access road is in terrible shape and some some of the residents of this street still prefer to dump their trash roadside as opposed to having it picked up(for a very reasonable fee). Electricity is at a minimum and the waiting list for power is at least a year (unless you want to pay extra and even that's no guarantee). Anyone thinking of buying a villa here should really apprise themselves of what they are getting. Prices are not cheap and the quality can be frighteningly poor. Caveat Emptor.

Friday, March 27, 2009

You know something is good when....

Criminals are using it.
High fives to the folks at research in motion, the makers of the blackberry. Now everyone can have military grade encryption on their messages. Of course this makes tapping into those blackberries by police/intel types more difficult. This in turn has prompted mp's in canada to attempt to introduce legislation that would force rim to make their software tappable. Can't see that little plan going anywhere fast.

Blackberry has a easy-to-read 92 page document outlining their security systems here (in case you have nothing else to do for the next 2 hours or so).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

helicopter down in north atlantic

Anyone who has ever worked offshore can commiserate with possibility of a helicopter ditching over water. Although oilfield workers train for these eventualities its difficult to imagine an underwater escape from a helicopter in one of the most inhospitable oceans anywhere.

So far the coast guard have found one survivor. Really really really hope they find the other 17.


As of today there are still 16 missing, 1 survivor in intensive care, and 1 confirmed dead. The helicopter was a Sikorsky S-92, a very modern heliocopter. The search has located 2 life rafts which were both empty. Its looking very bad now for anyone still in the water - their survival suits are only good for about 24 hours under good conditions: 3 m seas and 30 knot winds are hardly ideal.

The survival suits are equipped with emergency transponders which activate upon contact with water. So far of the sixteen possible transponders not one has been activated. This would suggest to me that all of the missing passengers never made it out of the chopper.

Hope I'm wrong.

I find this very disturbing, terrifying even.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jon Stewart Kicks Ass

Jon Stewart putting it to cnbc. Brilliant!!

Electrical Disconnect

I received a pressure washer today from Italy. Thats not really news. The newsy bit was when I went to plug it in. Couldn't do it! The plug was different. Why is it that all electrical connections in the Oil Patch must be as individual as snowflakes? The generators are typically 3 phase but are often single phase. The loads are usually single phase but can also be three phase. Power outputs can vary from 220v-480 v and equipment can require anywhere from 120V-480V. Some equipment can only run on 50hz, some can only run on 60hz and some doesn't care. None of this stuff has any drawings or nameplates and can only be identified with intuition and a fluke meter.
Why does it have to be this way...always.
Calling the sparky now...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Credit Crunch 101?

Just something I saw the other day at red tory. An explanation of the credit crunch that even I can understand.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Deployment Risk Management and Other Sexy Talk

I'm back at work.

I thought that I might be going to Angola. Ended up in Israel. Not sure how that happenned. Angola actually had some interesting work planned and I have been doing some modeling for it. The idea is run some production tools into a well on wireline. Problem is the well is horizontal so how do you push on a rope? Not to worry these people have a downhole tractor that can push the tools down a horizontal well. My job is just to answer a couple of questions.

For a certain wellhead pressure how heavy will the tool have to be to be able to go down against well pressure?
If the tool were to become stuck at the bottom of the well, what kind of tension can we pull at surface before damage to the cable occurs?
Is it possible to design a weak point at the tool so that the cable can be recovered in the event of the tool sticking?
How much force will the tractor have to exert on the horizontal section to pull the cable along the horizontal section?

There is a whole new field of wireline engineering based upon these kinds of questions known as Deployment Risk Management. As well paths become deeper and more tortuous, the material limits of cables become more and more important in terms of what can be run on the end of them. Twenty years ago or so most oil wells were reasonably straight, nowadays the straight hole is the exception rather than the rule. Several companies now offer deployment risk software and there is some effort to get people trained in the technology.

Problem is that oil companies have not attached a value to this service ie: they expect it for free. Service companies have been reluctant to charge for it as it is only a model - a simulation based on a lot of assumptions very few of which can be empirically verified. The model is only ever valuable if something goes wrong; in which case the most common comment is "well why didn't you model for this problem". Screwed over either way. Sigh!

Besides the deployment modelling the other interesting thing about the Angola work I'm not doing is that it is a production job. For my company its unusual work and much overlooked (in my opinion) by the company management. Production logging is usually done to determine the cause of declining production in a well. Oil companies are very interested to know why a well is suddenly producing water or why the production has dropped by 90% in three months. It directly affects their cash flow. Usually the production log is planned as part of a well intervention designed to improve the producing rate in the well. Because this sort of work is unusual (for us anyway) tools are rare and there are not many people globally who are qualified to run them. The tractor requirement further limits the list of people available. As far as I know I'm the only person who can run this particular service with this particular tractor and is also able to interpret the results. I'm waiting for the bosses to figure this out but so far they are of the opinion that "anyone can do it". Time will tell but I'm guessing that there will be a last minute panic to get me down to Angola in a couple of weeks. Last I checked they still haven't figured out how to get the tools to talk (shaking my head).

I'll keep you posted