Monday, December 27, 2010

Word Of The Day


Obsequious -1.  characterized by or showing servile complaisance or deference; fawning: an obsequious bow.

                              2. servilely compliant or deferential: obsequious servants.

                              3. obedient; dutiful.
The photo gives a prime example of obsequious behavior. The man doing the kissing is Nurdin Halid, the head of the Indonesian Soccer Association and the man on the receiving end is Susilo Bambang Yudyono - the current President of Indonesia. Is this sort of thing still common between adults and elites? I thought that such slavish salaaming was just between children and their parents. To be either the kisser or the kissee in this picture would be very uncomfortable for me.
photo was lifted from the internet

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Non Christmas Poem

This wll probably be my first and last attempt at rhyming couplets. I really need a change from writing deployment risk management reports. Here goes...

It was the night before Christmas and I'm stuck in a stew
Trying to fill in my performance review
Just a few short lines to fill in a gap
In some global database, managed by SAP

I'm advancing the enterprise I quickly cajoled
Exceeding my metrics and meeting my goals
Conform to requirements with a flick of the wrist
Careers are tick boxes, just fill in the checklist

I'm finding it hard understanding this goo
The sylables are many their meanings are few
Designed to mislead, to confuse and to skew
It looks good on paper who cares if its true?

Ah all that I've written its not what Ive done
It just for a raise at the end of Q1
At the end of the day its not what you do
Its how you report it (subject to review)

Thats probably enough

PJ wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and all the best in 2011. May your performance metrics show continuous improvement, add value to the enterprise, meet or exceed industry benchmarks and comply with stakeholder expectations (both internal and external) thoughout this reporting period.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Every Dog Has His Day

These are about as rare as hen's teeth. Tucked in amongst the slices,thin shots, duffs,windies and 4 putts I somehow managed to sink one from the teebox. I'm starting to think that golf is merely a series of disasters punctuated by just enough glorious moments to entice one to continue playing. Sort of like life in that regard.

Friday, December 3, 2010

On Cablegate

Just a couple of points on the wikileaks thingy. The United States as far as I know is still a functioning democracy. It operates diplomatic missions all over the world. One of the functions of those missions is data acquisition. At its core data acquisition  involves talking to people. In this respect foreign embassies are similar to the press. And like the press these diplomats have an obligation to protect their sources. Unlike the press however diplomacy is a function of the state, and if that state is a democracy then the diplomatic function is ultimately under the control of the electorate though it's elected representatives.

Julian Assange is a computer hacker. He reports to no government and cannot be elected out of his position at Wikileaks. He is subject to no ethical authority apart from his own sense of right and wrong. In a sense Mr. Assange has placed himself godlike over the interests of  a democracy of 300 million to some presumed personal higher utopia of world openness. Even some cursory social contact should have hinted to him that openness and the human condition are seldom to be mixed. Human beings will rarely speak about the predilections of their acquaintances publicly. Facebook is full of horror stories of those naive fools who candidly discuss the shortcomings of their friends and employers. Its a certain road to ostracism.

The theft of diplomatic cables is, of course theft. The use of these stolen documents by Wikileaks is of course accessory to theft. As a criminal organisation then Wikileaks needs to be prosecuted according to existing laws. As for Wikileaks ushering in a new era of openness I think that the opposite will occur. People will talk less because they will will be unable to trust that what they say in confidence won't become public forum and used against them at some future date. How engendering such distrust is a good thing only Julian Assange can say.
Who talks to a known gossip?

Some examples of the sort of problems that these leaks will cause can be found here and here

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Gala Dinner

note: The event occured in late september. I am only just getting round to putting it to paper now. Apologies

I'm really not a social critter. I don't get out much. But there I was slurping lycee daiquiris with  the hoi polloi of Bali the other night. You see I was at a dinner party. Not just any old dinner party but a Gala dinner, and here in Indonesia a gala dinner means pulling out all the stops.

New Kuta Golf was celebrating their third anniversary with a Tournament followed by a Gala dinner. I'm not sure exactly why  3 years is cause for a Gala dinner. Why not 5 years? Or 10 years? And I don't know why they were calling it a Halloween event when Halloween was still weeks away. I don't really care. Because any excuse for a Gala Dinner is a good excuse. Further, if you ever get the chance to go to attend an Indonesian Gala dinner you should, even if you have play in a golf tournament to do so.

To start with there is the greeting line. Most restaurants in the Bali tourist areas have a habit of  placing well groomed individuals at the entrance's to attract the customers. The club did the same thing although it was really unnecessary - the customers were all paying club members - Gala dinner remember? The greeting line consisted off all the PR and admin staff decked out in matching black cocktail dresses with lavender sashes. They looked fantastic. And how do they ever manage to remember each and every guest by name?

The dinner itself was tasty although unremarkable. It has to be said that the temporary insanity that prevails on the roads here also occurs in the buffet queue. I nearly lost a hand to some half starved woman armed with a fork who was trying (unsuccessfully) to do a reach around for chicken wing. Defending my spot in the queue took some doing - the secret (and this also could be applied to the roads here) is to exploit any opening and put aside foolish notions of personal space. Eventually appetites were sated and people settled down, drinks in hand, to await the evening's entertainment.

Given the current national paranoia over morality one might expect some sort of traditional music or dance group to occupy us between door prize giveaways. But this is a gala dinner.What we got was a group of "sensual" dancers (can't say sexy any more - pity) clad in supertight spandex who performed to wild applause from the mixed audience of men, women and children. Whoa! Besides the dance troupe there was a band, some fire baton-twirlers and and projector screen sized infomercial from one of the sponsors - a low point. Things took on a more surreal tone when the tournament winner performed, on request, a very credible version of Frank Sinatra's My Way. How? Why?

The dinner ended abruptly with the simultaneous announcement of the final door prize - some sort of people carrier - and the end of the free flow from the beer sponsor. As everyone bolted for the doors I hung back to avoid being trampled and reflectively nursed the last of my Heineken. To line up these events would take some doing. There are sponsors to find, menus to be organised, and a timetable flexible enough to accomodate the vagaries of the weather (rainy season now). The cost for a dinner and a round of golf was very reasonable if comparing other entertainment options around here. And where else on earth can you have a singing golf champ?

Only in Bali.

Only at a Gala Dinner.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I took a short time out on my way home to do a weeks training in Montrose, Scotland. Its been a very interesting few days in spite of the weather being rather chilly. Ah the joys of high winds and freezing rain. The course itself has been very interesting and informative. Its also been a chance to visit some old colleagues who are now instructors at the company training centre and catch up on the juiciest bits of corporate gossip from the north sea world.

I found some time to take some photos along the way. Please enjoy.

Scotland, Or western Alberta?
Starting out from Aberdeen its about an hour to get down to Montrose on the train. Some of the countryside looks surprisingly like Western Canada come harvest time. One thing I like about the UK is that the trains actually work and are a convenience. The 2 hour round trip from Aberdeen costs about 17  pounds. The taxi from the the airport to the train station costs about the same.

High Street,  Montrose Scotland
 First off note the cut-off statue of the bloke on the right of the photo (try to ignore my lack  of photography skills). He is one James Graham, the  sixth Earl and first Marquis of Montose. The man lived a very interesting life and unfortunately experienced a most gruesome end in the time when  Oliver Cromwell was running things round here. Remember "Braveheart" and how they did in Mel Gibson at the end? Same story for this guy. Actually in light of his demise a cut-off photo is somehow fitting .

The church steeple is spectacular - it was built in 1832.

Montrose Public Library
I put this in because I like the building. The library was built in 1908 for "a grand sum of 8000 pounds" according to the local watchman. It just happens to be across the street from a takeaway joint that I frequented during my stay. Not much to do while the pizza is in the oven. The library is nice on the inside as well.

The Dog Park
Found this on the sidewalk. Until today I have never seen an urban parking spot just for dogs. What a great idea. I daresay you would need something a little bit sturdier for anything larger than a Jack Russel.

Medal Course At Dawn
Montrose does have a couple of nice golf courses. Unfortunately I did not find the opportunity to play!. It just wouldn't do to have a post about Scotland that does not have a golf photo in it.

Graduation Picture
I did go to Scotland for reasons other than getting photos for this blog. The course entailed the evaluation of Cased Hole Logs and was attended by a number or folks from various oil and service companies. The instructor (second from right- back row) was quite engaging and I found the lectures to be very specific to what I am doing now. Its a subject that is getting more attention especially since that BP disaster in the Gulf Coast. All in all it was a week well spent. Now its time to get home.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Boat

The Old Y in 1967
There are certain sounds that  remind you of just one place. For me its the rattle of shrouds on a boat in the wind. That sound always makes me think of growing up at the lake and old family boat.

Back in the 60's the old man bought a boat for the family. It wasn't a high powered speed boat or anything  flashy like that - it was a variation of an inland lake scow known as a Y-flyer. With its wide beam and flat bottom the "Y" was a great combination of stability and speed, the kind of boat that you could easily take your friends out for that first sailing experience, or race competitively on the weekends. As a family boat it was ideal. You can fit a lot of kids on a Y-flyer and its natural stability made it a forgiving boat to learn on.

Dad wasn't the only one at the lake with a Y. In the 70's they were a popular racing class and come Sunday mornings we could easily see 10-20 Y's jostling for position at the big orange marker in front of our cottage. Sailing races were part of the growing up culture and lake conversations in those days revolved around the fancy new spinnaker that so-and-so just bought and who made the best snacks at the post race coffee parties.As kids we all learned to tack and gybe before we could drive a car and any one of us could differentiate between a bowline and a reef knot.
In the 70's the Y-flyer faced competition from smaller, nimbler, easier-to-rig boats such as the Laser and the windsurfer. Y-flyers tended to  heavy side which made their launching and storage a group activity as well as being awkward to right in the event of a capsize. A blustery day in 1975 nearly wiped out the fleet during an interprovincial regatta. By the eighties the Y-flyer numbers were in serious decline.

Our own Y was sold in the early nineties only for the reason that it was becoming a chore launching it every spring and hauling it up in October.  My brother bought the boat back after a few years - perhaps he missed the rattle of the rigging in the wind - only to find out that to properly refit it the entire deck would have to removed. The project daunted even his considerable talents and so the old Y was donated to the local sailing club. To replace the Y-flyer he found a used Laser-II at a firesale price which is a fine boat in itself but not something that's comfortable to sit in. We kept a lookout for other Y's to buy but the boat had become scarce and nothing was appearing in the local ads that looked interesting.

Fast forward to a year ago. We saw a notice on a community centre that some guy had a Y-flyer for sale, about the same age as our old boat. We gave him a call and  were pleasantly surprised to find a boat in very good condition. The thing had hardly been used and was being stored indoors. My brother was so impressed that he bought it staightaway and sent me some photos showing off his new catch. Apparently she sails as good as she looks. I'm already looking forward to next year, to hear once more the sound of a boat with so many memories attached to it.

The New Y in Action

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wine with dinner?

I thought this was interesting. Farmers in the Okanagan valley are feeding their cattle wine. Apparently it makes them taste better. I wonder if this happens anywhere else? I'm also wondering what this says indirectly about Okanagan wines. Anybody know?

The Okanagon is a region of British Columbia known for its hot dry summers. They grow a lot of fruit there (cherries, peaches and the like, as well as grapes).

Friday, July 30, 2010

tilting at windmills

I can't think of a better metaphor to describe the current Minister Of Communication's fetish with cleansing the Indonesian web sphere of porn just in time for Ramadan this August. He certainly has his windmills lined up. But who is he kidding really? By his own lieutenant's admission his ministry is incapable of blocking more than 3000 porn sites per day. The Internet porn business creates some 4 million sites per day - created by some of the most Internet-savy people on the web. So, according to  my math. the government may at best be able to block some 40,000 sites before Ramadan. That leaves only a mere 39, 960,000 porn sites for the porn crazed, sex staved, uberhorny, morally challenged rakyat to nibble on before their annual month long abstinence.  This solution will be as much use as issuing spoons to Jakarta residents to prevent flooding during rainy season. I'm not even going to bother with the sms text porn,sms picture porn and cell phone porn movies flying around the country for years now. You don't even need the Internet for that shit.

Here is some free advice for the good minister. You wanna limit the effects of porn? Start with your kids. Watch a porn video with them or at least sit them down for a nice chat. Trust me, they will probably be so creeped out from watching/discussing porn with their parents that any possible mystique will be totally  and irretrievably lost. Failing that you could foist off your kids sex education on the public school system or leave it to the dvd merchants in glodok. Implementing blanket bans may garner the morality vote but really its a fig leaf covering your own inability to deal  sensibly with the problem.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Things Missed

Its time to go back to work. I've enjoyed this little trip to Canada even though I nearly froze to death.

Certain things you just can't take with you.
Here are some in no particular order

Good music and bookstores - I've missed shopping for Cd's. Buying music online just isn't the same.
Morning crosswords - nice way to take your coffee
Boats and big brothers - I  enjoyed the unscheduled lesson on sailing without the rudder, but I really don't care to try that again.
Large furry animals - you know who you are.
Old friends. Funny how you can pick up with them where you left off the year before.
Working Bureaucrats (especially the folks that helped with my passport).
Big skies and cruise control  - no better way to see the province.
Hot rum toddies - nothing better after a cold day on the water - or a cold day for that matter - Well, come to think of it, anytime is a good time for these babies.
Alberta Beef - I think I haven eaten an entire cow (bit by bit) over the last three weeks. Cutting my steak with a spoon and washing it down with a nice Italian red - heaven!
Hi Speed Internet - Oh the joy of it!

Did I mention large furry animals?

Jake the oversized puppy

waffle...latest addition to the clan

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I read The Hobbit in eighth grade. In that time I was travelling in the Kananaskis country and perhaps it was the combination of story and scenery that did me in. I was hooked. Upon finishing The Hobbit I immediately sought out The Lord Of the Rings and spent the next year reading it over and over again, ever trying to squeeze out the last bits of trivia from its appendices. A few colleagues from school shared my addiction and we would happily debate the geography of Midde Earth or how to pronounce Osgilliath, Mithrandir, Orthanc and other names and places from Tolkien's World. But if I thought I was an LOTR geek, than these guys take the cake. Imagine making movie prequels - this is geekism on a whole new level. I actually sat down and watched both these films, the first concerning the heritage of Aragorn, and the second centered on the hunt for Gollum. For actors working on a pretty low budget - the project cost only $40,000 or so - I thought it was a very reasonable effort. Enjoy the films - they are after all still free.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On Oil Spills

That  BP spill in the gulf is going on for some time now. Its certainly become a problem, judging from all the lawsuits being filed for BP, Haliburton, Transocean, and Cameron. Eventually all the facts of this tragic event will be unearthed in the discovery process (I think discovery is the correct legal term). In the meantime its worthwhile to note a few points about how the industry operates and the political games being played by the government.

The US government has threatened to take over relief efforts on this well. Personally I doubt that the Feds have either the technology or the expertise to perform this kind of operation. Given their impotence its sadly amusing to hear them carping away as they are. Probably the best they could hope for would be to hire another oil company and put them in charge of capping and clean up - wouldn't that be interesting? The experts in this field are most likely to be found in the Gulf coast oil industry where they drill some the most deep and difficult wells in the world. The feds couldn't organise blankets during Katrina  - have they suddenly become well control experts?

There will probably be several  lengthy investigation into all aspects of this disaster. Each of the companies involved have been investing heavily in compliance (ass covering) for the last 10 years or so. In an industry where every action is scrutinized and reviewed the problem will be actually a surplus of information. Even a minor service failure or departure from routine procedure warrants a page in the End-Of-Well Report. Whole forests will be needed to publish the report on this well.

There is a strong need to find out what went wrong on this well, and how it can be avoided in future. Eleven men during a routine operation. Beyond any possible environmental impact this may have its crucial to remember that lives have been lost. Without knowing the causes it will be difficult to confidently drill into these deepwater environments in the future, not to mention finding crews to do the work. The nature of the tendering process puts safety at a premium these days and company records have to be available and traceable in order to qualify to tender. In other words, without resolution on this issue it will be very difficult for the companies associated with this well to get other work. Large multi national companies such as BP are especially anal in this regard.

The press has gleefully taken the opportunity to bash the industry. I suppose it doesn't sell a lot of newspapers to focus on what went wrong and make even a cursory check of the processes involved. Instead we are reminded of the "scandalous rapacious greed" of the multinationals and how this spill will singlehandedly destroy the planet. As to multinationals its worthwhile to note that the largest of them Exxon Mobil is only the 17 largest oil company in the world. The 16 larger oil companies are all National Oil Companies (NOCs). In reality the largest oil companies in the world are political tools with no real accountability to the public. If this disaster had to happen then the best group for it to happen to is a large multinational oil company - at least there is an internal process of accountability. Its also worth noting that Governments at every level take a cut on every barrel of oil produced - oil is probably the single most heavily taxed commodity on the planet. Just who is being scandalously rapacious here?

The question of environmental damage is certainly a tricky one. Certainly there will be damage. Predictions of wiping out the wetlands are, in my opinion, wild hyperbole. For one thing oil has been seeping naturally into the gulf for millions of years, quite a volume in fact. So why isn't the gulf a wasteland? There are microbes in the ocean that actually live on oil. These microbes, when left to themselves have done a pretty amazing job in cleaning up spills such as the Amoco Cadiz spill in 1978 and the Exxon Valdez in 1989. Human intervention by way of detergents and bioremedials often do more harm than good. Problem is of course that mother nature takes time. The people affected want the problem fixed right now which is which is reasonable but not realistic.

Its important to me personally that the root cause of the BP blowout in the gulf are determined and drilling practices are refined to minimise the risk of this kind of accident ever happening again. I have no desire to test drive first hand the ejector pod type lifeboats currently in use. Knee jerk calls to stop drilling and/or end today our dependence on hydrocarbon fuels may sell at lot of newspapers but really help no one in the long term.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ohh The Irony

Apparently there a new sheriff in town over at the UN Comission On The Status Of Women. You will never guess who it is (Hint: not Gloria Steinem).

Ladies meet your new buddy.  At least he smiles sometimes.Check first to see if he has any rocks in his hand.

This is absurd. Don't even get me started on the boobquake guy.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

That Seventies Show

No not that seventies show.

Several of my colleagues (including myself) are known colloquially as silverbacks. Too old to promote and too young to quit. Pretty good bunch though experience wise - not much in this industry that we haven't collectively seen or done. Anyway somehow over cocktails we got to talking about old obscure TV shows. Here was something I used to watch as a teenager in the 70's. We had just got color and cable TV and were experiencing the joys of American late night programming. The show was called Fernwood Tonight and was a spoof on American late night talk shows. The clip shows a youngish Tom Waites parodying "the piano has been drinking". Love the lyrics!

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Anyone who has ever watched Indonesian sinetron (soap opera) will appreciate the potential for an incredibly long drawn out story in the making. Goes something like this.

A friend of mine "A" has 2 kids, B and C. B is the child of her ex-husband D and C is the  adopted child of the ex-maid E. Problem now is to confirm the status of B and C (get identity cards). This is proving difficult  now as A also has identity status issues. Firstly although separated from D she has never received a divorce certificate. Additionally after separating from D she changed her name from F to A.
So what happens now? Simple really. A has to change name to F, divorce D, change name back to A. After that it should be a simple matter to clarify the status of B and C. The lawyers and judges are circling this case like piranhas. Could take years to sort out and that's only if nobody contests custody of B and C and the courts don't try to screw with A. There are indications that E may contest custody of C and the interests of D  towards B have been hitherto unknown. As to the courts... well there is an interesting post here on trying to resolve identity issues in Indonesia. Its hardly optimistic.

Just another day in paradise.

I wish I could make this stuff up. Could be a future in soap operas.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I'm planning a general spruce up of the property this year. Keeping up with the Wayans, Mades, Nyomans, Ketuts and the like. There has been  a something of a building boom  in the neighborhood lately and I'm feeling left behind. Its also a chance to fix up some of the more glaring problems of the old house. Anyways I've clipped a first draft of the reno. Trying to think of a name for the place. Ideas gratefully entertained...

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Crocodile Farm

I remember going to a crocodile farm once. The guide showed us a small pool with a tall heavy mesh fence around it. "Watch this" he said and carefully inserted a long bamboo shaft through the mesh and tickled the edge of the pool. There was an immediate splash and the biggest crocodile that I would ever care to meet came lunging out towards us. We were all properly shocked and frightened, much to the amusement of our guide. I don't think I ever went back to that crocodile farm again.

This memory surfaced when I was reading about the recent riots in Tanjung Priok. Sometimes the crocodiles only need a little prodding to come charging out of their pools. I'm not sure who was carrying the pole this time. The incident requires credible investigation before blame, and ultimately punishment, can be apportioned. The police arrived ready for the trouble and an armed mob was waiting for them. Somebody tickled the pond and the crocodiles reacted predictably.

Now that the fires are out the blame game has started. There have been calls for the police to be disbanded, the mayor to be fired, the governor to be fired, and the vigilante group that imposed itself on the situation to be banned. Everyone is getting in on it. The Minister of Information has stupidly called for images of the riot to be banned as they would be bad for the nation. Someone forgot to tell him that there is a free press in Indonesia not to mention that the photos have already made it to the international agencies. The  Jakarta Governor has gone to visit the families of the bereaved, promised compensation, and pledged to convert the tomb of Mbah Priok to a historical site. Too bad he didn't think to communicate to the residents before the incident-lives may have been saved. And in probably the best instance of bad timing Home Affairs minister has trotted out his latest absurdity: that of the moral elegibility of  entertainers as elected officials. He's got it mixed up. They are already lots of politicians playing at governing  - they should be more concerned with being seen as actors such rather than actors being seen as politicians. Whats needed are leaders to calm the waters and and keep the crocodiles in their pools. Better yet if they can drain the ponds. Instead the guys with sticks seem to be in charge.

Photo clipped from the BBC

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I'm not big on moving. I sort of have the opinion that sometimes you are better off with the devil you know then the devil you  about to meet. But one must move with the times I suppose so here we go...

A few weeks ago our crew was forced to moved from our old house in Vila Alica to a new facility a little bit closer to the office. The old house had its problems: Hot water was scarce, the roof leaked, and the generator was constantly breaking down. The swimming pool looked more like a giant culture sample than a place to cool off in. The house happenned to be situated next to a park which meant that every weekend we were bombarded with Kizomba music till 6 AM from speakers the size of trucks brought in especially for the occasion. On the positive side the house had that comfortable feel to it that only comes from people living there a long time and gradually making improvements. Our kitchen/bar was one of those places- a natural hangout after work. Another was our common rooms with big screen TV, a library, and a DVD collection. We normally did barbeques on Saturdays with our (barbeque) technicians leaving a little early to get the meat started.  Overall is was the next best thing to being home - not the ritz but lots of little personal touches. We are at work after all.

Like most good things the staff house has come to an end. Presumably to save costs the company went into the process of building a hotel to replace all of the division staff houses. On paper this is probably a good idea. If only the planners had some idea of practicalities. For instance our total bedspace of all the staffhouses was 60-70 beds. This was replaced by a hotel with a bedspace of 50 beds. I can't really see how its going to work. Its hard to expand the business when there is no room to expand. The other litttle problem is the internet. We are basically in a situation now where we are service twice the number of people with half the bandwidth - what were they thinking eh?

The new building itself has some amusing quirks. The elevator must have been built for somebody else's building because the numbers on the elevator don't match the floors. For example pushing the button for the third floor will land you on the forth??! I thought I was losing my mind the first time I got off the elevator onto the wrong floor. Did the builders have drawings?  There are several other little issues too tedious to mention which I am going to attribute to the break-in process but if this were a hotel it would be the kind of hotel that you would only visit once. The room themselves are quite nice and the catering has improved. It just feels impersonal. There is just no common area to watch the game with your mates or curl up to enjoy a good book. And the price! This building cost us in the neighborhood of 35 million. Now our staff houses were costing us 1-2 million/year (its expensive here in Angola) but for 35 million - up front mind you - we get the new place for only 5 years. After that the lease expires and we are out on the street until the next super expensive accomodation comes along. Someone must have seen us coming.

Only time will tell if the move was a good thing or not. I am already missing the library.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Playing With Pros

What were you doing last week? If you had had any sense at all you would down in Pecatu, Bali for the first Indonesian Ladies Open Golf Tournament. I was. The event lasted 4 days and had particicipants from all over Asia and Europe. Here is how it went.

Day 1 was the PRO/AM tournament. For a modest fee you can pair up with a pro and play best ball. Its a nice chance to meet the players in an informal setting. My partner was a girl from France who, (along with her mother) was enjoying her first trip to Bali. It was a bit amusing as she spoke minimal Engish and my French is pretty rusty (years of inactivity). She did most of her talking with her 3-wood. That girl can hit. Unfortunately we did not come close to winning the pro/am but the consolation was that I picked up some colorful expressions as to what to say en francais when you hit your ball into the rough. The pro/am was followed up by a party at the kelapa klub  which was another opportunity to mix with the organisers, players and other members of the golf establishment here in Indonesia.

Days 2 and 3 were the qualifying rounds of the tournament proper. As a volunteer I had to be there at 6 AM for no apparent reason as things did not really begin happenning before 7. My job was stand out on the teebox with a little sign that says "Quiet Please" whenever the players are about to make their shot. This would have been fun except that there were no spectators where I was positioned way out on the 8th hole. The things I do for a free lunch and a golf shirt! My other job was to try to keep water in in the giant cooler boxes that were scattered throughout the course. This involved texting the F&B people and telling them to get their ass out to number 7 with 2 cases of water and 10 kilos of ice. On the upside being out in the hinterland  allowed me to get some photos though which I am happy to share with all of you today.

Second Shot on 1

Approach on 7. A scenic and difficult hole.

Letting it rip!

Finishing off on 1.

The third and final day involved about half the field being cut. Today I got a new job which was to to carry a signboard around the course displaying the scores of the top three players. Except that the board was not ready at tee time so I had to follow the players around and manualy keep score with a pen and paper. The scoreboard finally showed up about the 4th or 5th hole and so we got to pack around a large heavy metal and wood sign up and down hills for 7 kilos - talk about having crosses to bear - its hot out here! They also forgot to print us any 8's  so were were constantly concerned that the girl at plus 6 would double bogey and we would be be forced to take her score off the board for a lack of numbers. Luck prevailed and my little team were able to get through the round with all our numbers intact.

The tournament was won by a Korean gal by name of Solar Lee. She was living proof that this game is all about finesse and not about power. All in all it went off rather well for a first time thing. The course was in great shape and they was a lot of support from local players, sponsers and volunteers. The only thing missing was the spectators - well their loss I suppose.

PS - it wouldn't be an Indonesian tournament without at least one odd translation so here it is. In case you can't read the small print it goes  like "BE THE FIRST TO WATCH FARIES BATTLES ON THE ISLAND OF THE GODS". I'm tempted to offer a prize for the best reverse engineering - I'm would love to know what they were trying to say here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Caipirinha Time!

I am sitting around in Luanda with the boys drinking homemade caipirinhas waiting for supper to arrive. For the heathen amongst you capirinhas is a mixture of limes, sugar and cachaca (a lethal sugar cane extract). It tastes quite refreshing actually so long as it’s cold enough. We are celebrating here. After months of preparation, endless invoices, equipment checks and commissioning we were finally able to deploy our equipment, get it working, do our job, and get back to the beach, all without losing anything or killing someone.

It didn't come easy. We had issues with air conditioners freezing up at inopportune moments. In 100 degree heat can you imagine being in a sealed metal box without ac? For a week? The heat played with our computers causing them to cycle on and off repeatedly. The hydraulic generator that we were using also had issues which caused frequent power cuts to the unit. But these little hang-ups were not enough to overly affect the final result which was a successful well intervention and the acquisition of good data to the client. We also had a good opportunity to test our modelling software and make some adjustments for the next intervention which will occur in about a month. I’ll be travelling to Bali in the next day or two but in the meantime it’s back to the caipirinhas!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Offshore Experience

Fancy the movie star lifestyle of an overseas oil worker? Who wouldn't? Here are some things you can do at home to simulate that offshore experience. Try them out for yourself and then ask yourself "how much should they pay me to put up with this?"

The Ride Out

If you are lucky you will be on a helicopter. Find four of you largest friends and stuff yourself into the back of an Austin Mini. Make sure that the engine of said mini has no exhaust manifold. The noise and smell are essential to the experience. Get the driver to randomly swerve or brake the vehicle. Remain in your cramped position for approximately 2 hours. For the extreme simulation nobody is allowed to shower for at least 24 hours prior to departure and a diet of brussel sprouts and kidney beans is mandatory.

The Offshore Office

For this simulation you will need a space slightly larger than a closet. You will be spending 12 hours or more per day in here so it’s important to get the ergonomics right. Your workspace should not allow you to stand completely upright if you are over 5' tall. Air conditioning should be one of two types; artic or non-existent. The ambient noise can be simulated by installing several vacuum cleaners inside your workspace and switching them all on. Next, find a 50's style loudspeaker, set it to full volume, disable the volume control, and place the speaker approximately 15 cm from where your head will be. The speaker can be connected to a microphone located somewhere else in the house. At random intervals have you wife, girlfriend or significant others scream into the microphone that the mud weight is now 9.7. Even better if they can randomly operate an impact drill for several minutes at a time or just beat a hammer against a piece of pipe repeatedly. Need to use the toilet? No problem. Just go up and down eight flights of stairs each time you need to go. Alternately you can walk 5 times around your house. Before you leave your "workshop" however you need to put on a hard hat, steel toed boots, safety glasses,earplugs and gloves. Remove these items upon entering the toilet area and put them back on when you leave.

Your Accommodation

Sometimes the rig accommodation can be quite nice. Single rooms Television sets, internet connections, and the like. Those sorts of accommodations are reserved exclusively for oil company personnel and senior members of the rig crew. As a service hand you will never ever see these rooms. Expect to be sharing your room with at least 3 others and your bathroom with at least 7 others. Guaranteed there will be at least one who snores like a freight train and another who has some sort of annoying idiosyncrasy such as hawking up their phlegm or continuously flossing.

Your Job

To simulate this find someone someone to follow you around and record in minute detail every moment of your workday. These daily reports get collated at the end of the well into thick reports complete with pie charts and process diagrams that illustrate with a clarity only hindsight can provide where you supposedly departed from the critical path of your job and why the oil company should withhold payment for the 3 minutes of non-productive rig time that you spent re-booting windows or using the toilet. At a million dollars rig charges per day it’s easy to find people who are this anal. Wellsite witnesses make a living by trying to demonstrate your incompetence to Oil Companies - if you must deal with them use either simplistic language suitable for 2 year olds or overwhelm them with technical jargon as to the possible reasons why the induction tool response is not following its expected profile. Information imparted freely to customers will generally be used against you so keep it mum - less said the better.

The Return Trip

Part of the fun of working offshore for a service company is that you never really know when you will be going back. Could be a day. Could be a week, or even a month or two. The usual case will be that the company man decides at the last minute that he needs the bed space and will tell you to drop tools and get on the chopper that is arriving in 5 minutes. You scramble like wildebeests trying to simultaneously pack your things, finish your job and leave your workspace in some semblance of order for the next guy coming out. Typically you realize, while stuffed into the chopper halfway home, that your watch is still sitting quite comfortably in the rig accommodation  just waiting to be nicked by the first bloke who happens along.

If this is the sort of dream existence that makes your heart beat a little faster then by all means get into the oil business. Prices are going up (at the moment) and the panic layoffs of 6 months ago are slowly turning in to the where-do-we-find-people mindset that is furrowing my boss’s forehead as I write. Otherwise I suggest that you get a normal job and remain blissfully ignorant of the hoops we in the patch jump through to keep gas in your tank.

Friday, January 1, 2010

You Can't Please Everyone

Political correctness ad absurdium.

Borrowed from Carl Parkes's Blog.
I thought this was kind of funny. Some folks have great imaginations.

On a personal note baiting the HR department can be great fun!

Company Memo

FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director

TO: All Employees

DATE: December 1, 2009

RE: Gala Christmas Party

I’m happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks! We’ll have a small band playing traditional carols… feel free to sing along. And don’t be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus! A Christmas tree will be lit at 1:00 PM. Exchanges of gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over $10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone’s pockets. This gathering is only for employees!

Our CEO will make a special announcement at that time!

Merry Christmas to you and your family,



Company Memo

FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director

TO: All Employees

DATE: December 2, 2009

RE: Gala Holiday Party

In no way was yesterday’s memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year. However, from now on, we’re calling it our “Holiday Party.” The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians and to those still celebrating Reconciliation Day. There will be no Christmas tree and no Christmas carols will be sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment.

Happy now?

Happy Holidays to you and your family,



Company Memo

FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director

TO: All Employees

DATE: December 3, 2009

RE: Holiday Party

Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table, you didn’t sign your name..

I’m happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, “AA Only”, you wouldn’t be anonymous anymore. How am I supposed to handle this?

Somebody? And sorry, but forget about the gift exchange, no gifts are allowed since the union members feel that $10.00 is too much money and the executives believe $10.00 is a little chintzy.



Company Memo

FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director

To: All Employees

DATE: December 4, 2009

RE: Generic Holiday Party

What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees’ beliefs. Perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party or else package everything for you to take it home in little foil doggy baggy. Will that work?

Meanwhile, I’ve arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet, and pregnant women will get the table closest to the restrooms. Gays are allowed to sit with each other. Lesbians do not have to sit with Gay men, each group will have their own table.

Yes, there will be flower arrangement for the Gay men’s table.

To the person asking permission to cross dress, the Grill House asks that no cross-dressing be allowed, apparently because of concerns about confusion in the restrooms. Sorry.

We will have booster seats for short people.

Low-fat food will be available for those on a diet.

I am sorry to report that we cannot control the amount of salt used in the food . The Grill House suggests that people with high blood pressure taste a bite first.

There will be fresh “low sugar” fruits as dessert for diabetics, but the restaurant cannot supply “no sugar” desserts. Sorry!

Did I miss anything?!?!?



Company Memo

FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director

 TO: All Fucking Employees

DATE: December 5, 2009

RE: The Fucking Holiday Party

I’ve had it with you vegetarian pricks!!! We’re going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the “grill of death,” as you so quaintly put it, and you’ll get your f*%^ing salad bar, including organic tomatoes. But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. They scream when you slice them. I’ve heard them scream. I’m hearing them scream right NOW!

The rest of you fucking wierdos can kiss my ass. I hope you all have a rotten holiday!

Drive drunk and die,

The Bitch from Hell!!!


Company Memo

FROM: Joan Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director

DATE: December 6, 2009

RE: Patty Lewis and Holiday Party

I’m sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy recovery from her recent nervous breakdown and I’ll continue to forward your cards to her at the asylum. In the meantime, management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay.

Happy Whatever!