Hermancain Isaac 2012

This post is brought to you by Hurricane Isaac. As a member of the North Gulf Coast oilfield community, I understand that the weather has an immense impact on my life.

Part 1.1: The Rigs

“Do the rig hands get hurricane bonus if they had to sit through a hurricane?”- Me

“Probably not…”-DWShorty

Oil rigs are complex sites. Weather dictates the efficiency on a deep water drillship. If seas are rough, the rig will turn its heading to face the waves and minimize the forces acting on the rig. If skies are crappy, helicopters won’t fly to the rig. If there is a hurricane….. the rig begins to evacuate. First, they get all Whataberger personnel of the rig. They do this long before the storm gets close. Often times, they evacuate and it turns out to be a false alarm. The rig quickly begins to pull the marine riser. Marine riser are the huge pipes which connect the rig to the BOP’s on the sea floor. The rig will shut in the well, pull the marine riser, and then move from location. Remember, the rig is a huge ship. With all non essential personnel gone and having detached from the well, the ship heads to Mexico to wait out the storm. When the storm is over, the rigs get back into position and reattach themselves to the well. This total process halts all work for more than a week. Since our work depends on the rigs’ work…. we also halt work. This will be elaborated on in part 2.

Part 1.2: The Community

“No such thing as a perfect levee. Water carved the Grand Canyon.” -Me

“Water carved my _____”-Anonymous

 Saturday night, I stayed in New Orleans. There was a Saint’s game and the social activity was thriving. Weather was great and everyone had a great time. After eating the ritual bagel Sunday morning, I headed home. There, I watched the news for hours. I listened to the governor and the mayor speak. Gradually, different school systems in the area began to announce their closures. The government issued mandatory evacuations for people in mobile homes. Patients and inmates would be moved Sunday night. The governor urged people to stay calm, but be prepared and ready to do anything. Hurricane Isaac comes right at the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Anxiety is high in the community and people seem much more prepared. In addition, a great amount of time is spent explaining the improved levee system in New Orleans. Later, airport closures are announced.

Part 1.3: Whataberger 

“When I say, ‘It’s time to haul a$$,’ that’s when I’m leaving!” -Harry1

My company is both a part of rig operations and the community. And so, both sections 1.1 and 1.2 play a factor in how we respond as a company. At the beginning of hurricane season, we are told to make sure all emergency contact information is up to date in our company profile. We should have a plan in place in case we are hit by a hurricane. This includes boarding up your house, having a generator, having an escape plan. If a storm is in the gulf, we obviously know and are evacuated from offshore first. If the storm continues to develop and happens to be en route towards SE Louisiana, we have to secure our shop and have daily check ins. I am responsible for knowing where Harry1, Fergie, and DaffyDuck are every day. I report to Dennis the Menace (who is now my new manager.) When the community starts to react to the hurricane, so does Whataberger. When the government asks people to voluntarily evacuate, this will usually coincide with Whataberger’s phases of hurricane preparidness.Since evacuations are extremely stressful and expensive, it is typical for people to wait and know for sure the severity before opting to leave.

Part 2.1: The Decision

“Well… just put your TV and your shotgun in your truck, and get out of there!”-Albert’s father.

I have no house to board up or children to care for… If I have the option to leave, why not? After watching the news all day Sunday, I decided I wanted to evacuate. Worst case scenario, we get hit directly by a hurricane and there are power outages for a day or more, flooding, and wind speeds which will knock over a human. Best case scenario, we get a lot of wind and rain. In either case, we won’t be going to work at all.

Part 2.2: The Hurrication

“I could not have asked for a better hurricane” – Albert

A few people have expressed their concern over my whereabouts. You may all rest assured that DWShorty, Alice and Albert and myself are presently in Atlanta. We elected to evacuate ourselves WAY early to be ahead of the storm, ahead of the traffic, and right on time to our hurrication. En route to Atlanta, we saw the brigade of school busses hauling prisoners to safety.

“How’s the storm looking?”-Me, in my daily check in to Harry1

“It’s headed right up our @$$es!”-His response

…..

“We can do so many fun things in Atlanta!!”-Me

“We need to find Laila a day care.”-Albert

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Mirror, Mirror, In the Phone

I had a dream that I played the violin. A few weeks later, I decided to buy a violin and get started.

Like all children, my sister and I were captivated by things with which we were told not to play. More specifically, we were captivated by places where we were not to play. This included my father’s office, where we liked to scribble on his notepads with highlighters and sharpies then cut them up with the adult scissors. You know, using as many of the office supplies as we could before being caught and kicked out. The possiblity of a spanking was inevitable, but with all risks assesed…. it was totally worth it.

Another no play zone was my parents bedroom. Oh, how we loved to jump on their bed and eat the candy stashed in the coloset.We would try on mom’s shoes, and look in the back of the closet at her old dresses and costumes.  Our favorite forbidden toy lay in an old tattered black case behind all the dresses, purses and shoes. The worn black casehoused my mother’s 3/4 violin, which she used to play in the orchestra. We would look through her year books, play with the violin, rosin the sh!t out of the bow, and dream about how cool mom was when she was a little girl just like us.

“It’s just a 3/4 violin…. There’s no neck rest…. I can’t play it.” Mom would try to tell us when we begged her for a musical sampling. I’ve never heard her play the violin, but I have heard her utter similar concerns and then sit down at an old piano with several missing keys and play song after song with no effort or flaw.

My mother and sister are very musically inclined. My sister has taught herself to play several instruments and played the cello in the Briarhill Middle School Orchestra. Much to my mother’s disappointment, I had no desire to learn a musical instrument or pursue any artistic venue as a child other than splattering paint on my face or eating crayons…… hobbies which I still enjoy to this day.

I bought a violin and a beginner lesson book with audio CD. I am on page 21. On page 22, I learn my first song. On Monday, I have my first lesson with a formal teacher. Here are a few things to think about when attempting to teach yourself the violin….

1. Wash and dry your hands before touching it. From the moment you place your grubby fingers on the violin strings, oils from your hand begin to corrode them away. I have found that washing my hands before playing also serves to give me the feeling that I have to respect the instrument. It’s much like washing your hands before eating or after a session on the John- you have to pay respects to the activities.

2. Tune it. If you start playing out of tune, then you will never know what is right. Learning the violin is a lesson in training your ears as much as it is in bowing mechanics. Having no musical background, I decided to take tuning very seriously. As I go through my lesson book, I place my electronic tuner in front of me so I can tell if I’m bowing the strings right.

3. I play fast. Playing slow makes my hand cramp….

4. As was my favorite activity years ago….. I still rosin the sh!t out of the bow. Now, I understand why it is not only fun, but necessary. An unrosined bow will grind silently across the strings. There is no friction to grip and pluck the strings. The rosin provides this friction and orchestrates the gripping and plucking on a micro scale as the bow moves up and down on the strings.

Tonight, I called my mommy on the phone to talk about life, which is mostly my job. We talked about rig life and all the stuff I’m learning. I told her about my first few violin sessions. She of course requested I play for her. I set the phone next to my electronic tuner and played exercises 12-23 in my lesson book. Mom gave me critiques after each exercise. She hummed along the notes I should be matching, the tuner next to the phone lit up green every time she hummed.

Why I Love My Job

DISCLAIMER: I actually really do love my job, and this trip off$hore has proven to be rewarding in more than one way. (This must be noted, as my mother reads this blog and can become very concerned if the posts seem too negative.)

 

This is the first post in what will surly become a series inspired by Fergie. He constantly asks me “Did I tell you I love my job?”, or he will declare “I love my job”. It is usually a sign that he is miserable and actually hates this job. It is a feeling with which everyone can identify. I have since starting playing up this scenario and asking Fergie how much he loves his job. When texting him that we have to be at work at 04:30 am, in the morning, I include the phrase, “I’ll see you’re smiling face then.” In short, we f*$%ing love our jobs…. here’s why:

1. Today, we finished the wireline operation and proceeded to “rig down”. Rigging down entails unhooking all the tools from the wireline, putting the tools away, wrapping the cable back up, putting the sheaves away, putting all boxes and lifts back where they go, cleaning up, and taking the cable drum off the skid so that the cable can be transported back to base. This final task requires a crane. A crane requires a crane operator. We rigged down our selves and waited from 10 am to 2 pm for a crane operator.

“Did you know that I love my job?” -Fergie

2. Not only did we sit outside and wait for 4 hours after having been awake for days, but after taking the cable off the skid, I was informed that more wireline work is in the coming weeks, and the cable will be left out here. We waited and worked for no reason.

“I love my job” -Fergie

3. Three choppers left the rig today. First flight was full. Second flight was full. Third was empty. It left with only two passengers. No one told the wireline crew or thought to put them on this flight. There are three choppers tomorrow. The first two are full. We could have left today, and will be leaving tomorrow later afternoon instead.

“Most people don’t know this, but I really love my job” -Fergie

4. I can not stop eating. Walking up the stairs gets harder and harder everyday. The food is not even good, but I still eat it. I can feel the gluton claiming the best years of my life.

“Man, I love my job”- Fergie

5. After being here for a week, someone finally tells me that I am not allowed to wear boots with covers over them in the meal room….. why aren’t these things addressed earlier….and….. if your dispatcher would pay attention to the flight schedule, I wouldn’t be on this stupid rig eating your stupid food wearing my stupid boot covers.

“It is times like these, I really love my job.” -Fergie

 

Dead Birdz

In preparation for the trek offshore for BP, I like to wear my “Thank you BP, for killing us” T shirt several days before I have to leave.  It helps me relax and realize that even if the job does not go splendidly, at least we did not have to abandon ship and directly kill hundreds of animals, who can only be saved with Dawn dishsoap.

So concludes another job. To give you an idea how these deepwater jobs go for bigger clients, I prepped this equipment and shipped it over two weeks ago. I met it offshore no fewer than 10 days later. I have been on this rig for one week and have not seen daylight in two days. The rig only has internet in one room. Everyone is sitting in this one room, fighting for bandwidth. I am on a floating island. Birds fly around the rig. They hop on the floor and don’t even care about the restricted areas or PPE zones. Occasionally, I see feathers and exposed bones squashed into the walkway and covered in dirtiness.

Before we began operating, I sat in the conference room to chat with BP about the job program. Sitting in pink plaid pajama pants and secretly chatting on my computer with my sister, I wonder, “Does anyone here take me seriously?” They ask me questions about how our tool works and how far into the well we can go. I give them some answers based on my highly developed technical instincts. Little do these people know:

 I am singing Enrique Iglesias to myself in my head. I don’t care for LSU. The single most enjoyable aspect of this job was the 5 hands of king crab I ate last night. I am holding back laughter every time someone says ‘duty’.  I am role playing that I am a cat and terrorizing a co worker in a office communicator chat. A few months ago, a company man asked me a question, I sighed heavily and said “f*$%… I don’t know?”

Still, with all these things working against me, I power through the meeting and try to contribute as much as possible. I have some useful documents and diagrams on my computer, which I reference in the meeting. Though hard pressed, I do not yawn a single time.  This is how you act like an adult in a meeting.

The Dickens

Again, we find ourselves offshore for the big bad wolf, BP. THis rig is a drillship called the Discover Enterprise. Many rigs have names like that: Discover Inspiration, Discover Deep Seas, Discover Clear Leader. Some rigs are named systematically, like the Development Driller 1,2 and 3, or Sundowner 16. Many smaller rigs are named after their drilling company, like the Hercules, Rowan or Ensco rigs. Other rigs are presumably named after people, like the Noble Danny Atkins, or Noble Jim Day. This is a rigtale about a rig named “The Uncle John.”

The first day I got here, the toilets were down for 10 hours. This is an unbearable situation. In fact, its an impossibility to ask 200 people to not use the rest room all day. As a result, all toilets become chamber pots and the entire rig smells like a septic tank.

I’ve decided to start playing the violin.

I left work and went to the violin store. The man who sold me the violin is the second cousin of a technician I work with at the ‘berger. I have never played any instruments and do not know how to read music… yet. The man who sold me the violin urged me to practice, and was quite surprised when I told him I would not be taking my violin offshore. I can’t imagine trying to practice the violin on a rig.

 

“HAHAHAHAHA”-Noelle

“What?”-Alice

“Have you ever heard someone trying to learn to play the violin? It’s the most awful sound in the world!”-Noelle

“Well, you can go over to Noelle’s apartment and practice. She has lots of tips for you.”-Alice

“Yeah, first tip: Play less violin.” -Noelle

I Made a C in Social Studies

The title for this post is a true story. It is only slightly related to our topic of discussion today.

Today, I noticed a facebook friend request. I often ignore friend requests, allowing them to linger for months before ignoring.

Today, I befriended, via facebook, my third grade teacher. (Before I go on reminiscing about our time together in 1997-98 I want it on the record that I have spent about two hours “stalking” other teachers from my elementary school). I remember receiving a post card from her the summer after second grade and dreading the day I would go into third grade. Rumors rampantly spread that she was a hard ass. I wanted no part of her “tough” third grade class room. As it turns out, the Highland Village Elementary student populace had it wrong. This teacher changed my life. Some of you may read this blog and think I am a talented and amazing writer!! However, most of you know that not too long ago…..

….I couldn’t spell my own name or tell the difference between 3’s and E’s. God bless this woman, for not only did she teach me, she saw passed my illiteracy and recommended me for the gifted and talented program, effectively shaping my entire education. I want to chat with her today and tell her how much I’ve grown. I am sure she knows, but I want to emphasize that I am not 8 anymore. I survived some terribly self-conscious years. I graduated college. I have a job! Though many things have changed in my life, I still maintain close friendships with people I met through the gifted and talented program in school. I enjoy the rare occasion when I drive through my hometown and lose myself in memories of my time there. I still keep the stuffed Ka snake puppet that I would bring to school for show and tell and write stories about for class projects (which is the picture featured above).

Erd grade was a big year for me. I wonder if teachers remember students like students remember teachers. I wonder if they know the degree of their influence. Long after summer break and graduation, you are not forgotten.Though I want to express my gratitude to this woman in a formal facebook conversation, I will instead show my appreciation by looking through her pictures and systematically finding the facebooks of all my other teachers….