Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Water

Some of my readers are in stick and brick homes and, I would wager, a lot of them think little when it comes to rationing or conserving water. The average American consumes or uses between 70 and 135 gallons a day. It is not a renewable resource. I have told the story repeatedly, but as early as my adolescence I was aware of the necessity to conserve water. My mother can attest to my sticking bricks in the toilet tank to reduce the volume of water used when flushing. I have also long maintained that the concern over the flight to the sunbelt states was moot, as water would soon dictate how much the land could support. Las Vegas and other cities and towns along the Colorado river are seeing that now. Enforced conservation is already taking hold in those areas.
 
Those of us living and working out of our wheeled homes in the oil patch know all about conserving water. One of the first things that gets a noobs attention out here is that what he sees in his tank is probably all he'll get for at least two weeks. The schedule and amounts vary, but tanks out here vary in size between 250 and 500 gallons. We still hear occasional stories of folks running out of water between deliveries. There are a wide variety of ways to make your allotment last. Here are some tips:
 
Take "Navy" showers, wet down and then shut off the water while you suds up, then turn the water back on for a quick rinse. You folks that are accustomed to running the water the whole time you shave or brush your teeth need to mend your ways.
 
Fill one of your pots with hot sudsy water and wash your dishes out of that, then turn the water on for a quick rinse.
 
Buy your own water pump if you have to. You don't need to put up with weak pressure and pulsating water (which inevitably makes it hard to control the water temp) if your pump is strong enough. You'll use less water to get the job done. An alternative is to use the often worn out supplied pump to fill your internal tank and use that for bathing and such.
 
We never saw the need for a washer dryer (and some companies discourage there use) till we got a gate that required a 150 mile plus round trip to get to the Laundromat. We are able to stay within our consumption limits and do two loads a week. I don't know if it's true, but I have heard that the "RV" washer dryers use copious amounts of water and don't work too well. We have a heavy duty, stacked apartment unit that is very miserly with the water.
 
Making a sweep at least daily to check all the connections and faucets for leaks is just good practice. You'd be surprised how much water you can lose in a short period of time from a small leak.
 
After spending some time "off the grid" you will be surprised by how little water you can get by with. I find myself, on the rare occasion that we have hookups, still standing in the shower with the water off. Old habits, and good habits, are hard to break.
 
 

An Evershifting Line in the Sand

The L.A. Clippers have been embroiled in a controversy over admitted racist comments made by their owner. Let me say that I don't follow basketball other than to occasionally catch the playoffs or championship games. Let me also say that I don't know Donald Sterling from Adam. It pains me to say it, but unless something you say is threatening or borders on liable, you should be able to speak your mind freely. That is one of the tenets interwoven into our Constitution (our first amendment) by the Founders. We'll probably never get to hear or read what was said; but just about everyone has a finger in the pie. The black players (African American, if you like) and blacks in general are just as guilty when it comes to slandering their race. For that matter, so are all the other ethnicities on the planet.  I say that as a point of fact, not to condone the behavior. As a child I lived where blacks and other ethnicities intermixed in harmony with each other, so I know it's possible. One thing that confuses me; and seems to be the elephant in the room, is that we are all of mixed race. Every ethnicity has some sin of their forebears that they have to bear. It is fine, even a necessity, to remember our past and herald (or denigrate) those that forged it. However; to hang on to the errors and failures of the past and to further use them as a blunt instrument of hate, is just wrong. In my opinion a league that is comprised of over 80 percent black players sends the wrong message by punishing someone so harshly for a slip of the tongue. Again; just my opinion, but as long as we walk on egg shells and feel threatened by speaking our mind we will never establish a dialog or working relationship. Without that there is no end to racism in this country, or the world, for that matter.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Where is Emily Post when we need her?

Emily Post used to be the "go to" person when it came to how to comport yourself properly in society. She has covered every subject, from controlling kids to proper behavior in business. There is even the Emily Post Institute website at www.emilypost.com. I got started (AGAIN) on this subject because of the total lack of manners and control I've witnessed when it comes to personal communication devices. If someone has published an "Emily Post" guide on how to behave when communicating in the 21st century, it hasn't taken hold. BTW; whatever happened to those "walkie talkie" type phones? Man, they were annoying. Most folks know what is and isn't acceptable; but more and more of them choose to ignore basic etiquette. Recently a man shot someone for texting in a movie theater. Obviously I don't condone that kind of behavior but I empathize with the guy. As a gate guard we deal with all kinds of persons; but most guards agree that it is the guy or gal that won't either hang up or put a call on hold when checking in that is the most annoying. And don't even get me started on Bluetooth and how annoying it is to compete with that din in a vehicle. Now, on to texting. I don't even know where to begin. It has become a plague and the bane of a lot of folks when attempted in a moving vehicle. It drives me up the wall when I don't get a "prompt" response. The "texter" can choose to ignore the "textee" (or vice versa) and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the proper etiquette whilst doing it. Let me say this, "Comport yourself however you like when conducting personal texting, but behave like a professional should when texting for business purposes."

Like so much in life exercising a little etiquette when doing anything is always helpful. IMHO the cause of a lot of the ills of today's society can be whittled down to a lack of etiquette and morals. I grew up in an era where corporal punishment was the norm and proper manners were observed at all times. There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be where I am today if not for that. Society would be well served if our children were taught how to respect their elders and behave properly.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter

We are at the end of Lent, which starts on Ash Wednesday and lasts about forty days, and ends the day before Easter. It is a solemn religious occurrence on the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations. Fasting, prayer, self denial and atonement are all practiced during that period. While I consider myself a Christian at heart, I am not an advocate of all the pomp and circumstance that sometimes surrounds it. I believe there is no denying that a power far greater than any of us created the world and universe we temporarily reside in. All I have to do is witness my surroundings and observe a sunrise or sunset, which I do daily. I wish all of you a Happy Easter!
 

Integrity

One definition of integrity from the dictionary: the possession of firm principles: the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standards. This isn't about me, but I think like a lot of us, that I have failed in that regard a time or two. However, I also like to think my standards haven't wavered much. I take great pride in doing what I say and promise. There is a standard that I hold myself up to.
 
Some incidents of late have me worried about integrity when it comes to the folks that are supposed to lead and guide us. The powers to be or PTB, for instance. Now I am not na├»ve; I know our government (and others) have employed "spin doctors" for some time. I'm also not enamored by this so called information age. It seems we telegraph our every move on CNN, FOX or other networks. I'm sure that some of our commanders in the field find that very disconcerting. But I digress. Lately we have had several incidents occur that to me question the integrity of the folks in charge. Benghazi for one and now this debacle over the loss of the Malaysian Air 777. I think Malaysia has some power and authority issues; but still, the constantly changing information and facts leave me to ponder. Then there's the whole issue with Putin and his wholesale denials of occurrences that a lot of people have borne witness to. As far as Benghazi goes, I believe that a conspiracy exists to keep it quelled. How much more serendipitous could the fact that the central figure behind that conspiracy has hoodwinked her constituents her entire private and political life. And still her and her nefarious husband continue to be lauded and forgiven for their past mistakes. Apparently enough of you have fallen for their smoke and mirrors routine to make Hillary a front runner for the presidency. If ever a political position required a modicum of integrity, it is the chief executive of a government. It is the loss of that integrity that causes countries to fall into constant conflicts and be governed by iron fisted dictators.
 
My point here is that it seems that we are in an age where obfuscation is an accepted practice. Some like to hide the truth behind national security issues or some other balderdash. Integrity is as someone sees it; torn to tatters and rationalized away. It is the ease with which integrity is thrown to the wind and the seeming lack of fear of the consequences for doing so that scares me the most. If ever there was an example of a slippery slope, it is the way our elected officials have no compunction when it comes to bending the truth. Unfortunately a lot of us have become inured to this behavior and there seems little fear of accountability anymore.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bitchy

I think I am reaching a burnout stage. So if you interact with me and find me to be "short' let me apologize in advance. A lot of the reasons that I left the corporate world still rear their ugly head as an independent contractor. Like it or not you have to eventually deal with the "suits". Shall I enumerate why I despise "suits" so much? It's about building alliances (armies), doing things you'd rather not do to be a part of the clique, obfuscation (a big word for lying) , paperwork-like forms, back stabbing, etc. How you do your real job in that cauldron of lost souls is the secret of success in the corporate world. Now you really know what it means when they say he or she is a great person but unsuitable for the job. You basically sell your soul and become the asshole you promised you'd never be. But I digress.
 
Recently we requested a shift off; meaning about twelve hours. Until very recently it was a matter of communicating your desires to the corporate office. I submitted a request per the usual manner (via text) and, as usual, got no response. Which brings us to the whole nether world of personal devices and the total lack of decorum when using them. Anyway, the request was submitted on Monday and by Wednesday we were a bit antsy. We communicated our angst to the brother of the "head suit" (no nepotism here LOL) and he suggested we text again. Again we were reminded of our place, and the "head suit's" lack of decorum, with no response. Finally on Monday it came down from upon high that we now have a form we must fill out to request time off. RRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! As previously mentioned, I hate forms! Said form also referred to us as employees and queried as to how much time off we were entitled to. I had no idea we accrued time off. Is this like prison where you accrue time off your sentence by being a good convict? It was a corporate masterpiece-deflect the criticism for not communicating by creating a form. It was a beautiful form which appeared not to have anything to do with us, replete with calendars and lines to fill out and the gawd forbidden signature line. How we were to physically get the time off request form to the corporate office and how they would get back with us were questions for a later time.

Several days after my text session with the "head suit" a text came across my phone. She wanted to know who specifically failed to respond promptly to texts and to what matter they pertained. Really? You see in big corporate it matters not how obvious something may seem. It is most important that we gather facts, have meetings and such. Once that's done someone will have to put together a report and that will have to be submitted to someone else for approval. Everything must be recorded, preferably in triplicate. The hope being that somewhere in all that shuffling and time spent everyone will have forgotten about the original problem.

Look, all I want is for someone to listen to my request and respond in a timely fashion. To me waiting days on end for a response to a simple request is unacceptable. Even more annoying is having a "suit" not comprehending my frustration when it happens. If you're not careful a "suit" will turn the whole thing around and leave you feeling guilty for having disturbed them during their busy day. By the way, why are they always busy and just exactly what are they doing that consumes all their time? Sounds like something for another blog.
 
 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Link to the Editor-That Would Be Me LOL

One of my dear readers had to use the comment section of my blog to contact me. FWIW I can be reached via e-mail at mdbass@att.net . Thanks

Musings...Yet Again

I have lots of things on my mind and thought I'd share my thoughts of our life in the "oil patch". Particularly since we have never been on a gate this remote or this far south. March was an interesting month as we had a rig in for the first time since we took over the gate. Unlike the rigs we have worked with in the past, this bunch was very anti social. They wouldn't even give us contact info! Also, unlike other gates we have worked, we have many facilities and pads with all kinds of work and/or maintenance going on. There are over 800 wells and counting between the two ranches where we are working. That means the gate is long term and busier than; say a single rig and pad operation-an average of between 250 to 500 vehicles in a 24 hour period. As with every hole we have worked, coil tubing followed the rig on the pad and now that they are done we are preparing to frack the holes. So we will be earning our pay over the next week or so with the frack and all its ancillary traffic; meaning lots and lots of sand trucks. It doesn't seem that long ago when we were facing our first frack and very anxious about what was about to happen. We had heard so many stories about the traffic and general craziness surrounding a fracking operation. Now it's just another part of what we do, just like processing 250 vehicles a day. To add to all the confusion we also have pad work, normal maintenance, a pipeline being laid and a work over rig doing its thing.
 
Our lives as gate guards has changed us over the years and we have fundamentally transformed. For better or worse I have always tried to better my situation in life. Sometimes I wonder if we would not have been better off accepting the status quo. There are gate guard positions at some companies where someone can basically kick back, be assured of having work (as assured as you can be in this business) and not have to worry too much about your equipment and the support  people. Trouble is, most of them don't pay anywhere near the maximum you can get in the "patch". We have made three leaps of faith and have almost doubled our income along the way. We have learned that despite as big as Texas likes to think it is, the petroleum community in the Eagle Ford Shale is relatively small. It is a rare week that we don't meet folks we have worked with in the past. Here's a little nugget for all you slackers out there-companies tend to promote their hard workers and keep them working and the oil companies (and land owners) know who they are. (The other edge of this double edged sword is that these hard workers can and will get assigned to some pretty tough gates) Here's another nugget-in these litigious times gate guard companies have a way of handling folks who they feel don't fit the bill. They don't put them on a gate! Sounds simple, but every year we get folks who end up sitting for weeks on end. Unless you have a good rapport with the company your contracting with, it's time to move on. Wake up, try another gate guard company and mend your ways.
 
We finally had our first close up encounter with illegal aliens a night or two ago. Two of them walked up out of the darkness; lost, dirty, thirsty, hungry and a little desperate. Turns out they had eight other friends with them that I helped coax out of the darkness. They had paid their coyote (guide) about $2000 each and he abandoned them after they crossed the Rio Grande. After about a week of wandering they had only covered about 15 miles of the 130 plus to get to San Antonio. I surmised they had been walking in circles. While I engaged them in conversation Missy called security.  A worker, who happened to have been talking to us at the time they appeared, stayed close by. We fed them and gave them water-you should have seen their faces light up when they saw that I had a cooler full of cokes. It is a shame that both Mexico and our impotent legislators can't put together a working immigration policy. Mexico should work on its internal issues and address their poverty stricken populace so that they don't feel the need to make these desperate attempts at finding a better life. Unfortunately, given the history of both countries, that will not be happening anytime soon.