Friday, May 26, 2006

Hecka Hamburgers

   On this job, I am working about 5 miles outside of this little town called Hanna, Oklahoma. I pass by this little burger joint several times a day, but it kinda looks like a ghost town, and I didnt think it was really open. But, one of the other workers on the job suggested we go there for a hamburger today, and what a great suggestion that was!
   The Hitchin' Post has hands-down the best burgers I have ever eaten. I cannot believe how yummy they are! I don't know what the secret is, but I will be going back there for sure on my next trip to the area!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Welcome to Agape Land

   The hotel I am staying at in Oklahoma is right across the street from the Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. Looking out from my hotel each morning, I saw what you see here - the world's largest praying hands. I thought they were pretty unique...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


   Well, I got nailed in Pittsburg County, OK for speeding! Like an idiot, I forgot to ship some important components out from California for the test. I was racing around southeast Oklahoma looking for parts on other rigs most of the day. Down near McAlester I saw the blue lights flashing in the rearview. Apparantly, I was doing 79 in a 65 zone..... I think I was a more interesting target because of my Texas plates, and once the Oklahoma Highway Patrol saw my CA license he was almost giddy! Needless to say, I will be heading to the McAlester courthose this week to plead my case, hopefully I can get away without a point on the record.
   On a side note, I have been driving the speed limit since then, and it appears that everyone in Oklahoma drives the speed limit all the time?! How strange. I go 65 and nobody passes me......

Monday, May 22, 2006

Voiceless Alveolar Lateral Fricative

   On a flight to Dallas last night (yes, I am indeed back in Oklahoma), I had the fortune of sitting next to a chatty lady who, among other things, is a speaker Tswana, an African tribal language primairly spoken in Botswana and parts of South Africa. I am very interested in language, and am always up to learn something new, so I managed to convince her to teach me a little bit of Tswana.
   Tswana has only one click (think Starvin' Marvin), but even the one makes it a lot harder to speak. I practiced some simple phrases (hello, I want water, etc.) and it took a while to train my mouth to make the click sound (Wikipedia calles it the "voiceless alveolar lateral fricative") without disrupting the flow of words. Now when Andrea and I are on the Amazing Race, we will be good to go if we go to the Bantu region of Southern Africa!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A Big Help...

   This weekend I finally got a chance to make some some more progress on the living room. I have been out-of-town soo many weekends this year, the project is really dragging. I even managed to enlist the help of Andrea for a while today in replacing the old floor boards! She must have pulled out a few thousand nails from the floor!
   I know---you're thinking: "Why would Ben want to rip out that nice oak flooring and replace it with boring-old OSB and carpet?" I must admit that it made me feel a bit queasy as I ripped the nice pieces of oak to shreds...but I decided that it had to be done. The old floor had some serious water damage, and was not really installed properly, so it creaked really badly every time you moved around! We got the new subfloor installed today and so far I am very happy with how quiet it is!!
   Unfortunately, it sounds like I'll be heading back to OKC before next weekend, so I guess the progress will have to go back on hold for a while.....

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Crash and Burn

   Well, the test that I am in Oklahoma to run failed immediately, meaning that they had to trip our tool right back out of the hole (about 2700 ft). This is the sort of thing that makes me quite unpopular with the roughnecks! Oh well, this is the world of development and engineering.....
   I needed to get some of the parts shipped back to ATA as fast as possible, so I raced back to Oklahoma City in search of the UPS shipping depot. Andrea guided me on the phone to the UPS center, which turned out to be closed when I got there. (I'm not really sure how they can accept packages for shipment until 4pm on Saturdays, when their customer service center is not even open!) I was running out of time, so Andrea and I (she was in CA on the map) zipped over to FedEx (across OKC) Amazing Race style! I made it there just before 4pm (turns out they were open until 5!) and got all of our equipment shipped back.
   Now, my job title changes (as it so often does) to "Hot-Shot Driver," basically making me into a well-paid courier! I have to wait in Oklahoma until they finish this well and I can retrieve the rest of our experimental equipment and expedite it back to ATA. Hopefully they will be done tonight or in the morning so I can be on a flight from Dallas by Tuesday morning.

Friday, May 05, 2006

"I'm Proud to be an Okie from Muskogee"

   Ok, I'm not really in Muskogee nor am I an Okie, but I am working about 40 miles away from Muskogee near Dustin, Oklahoma. I got back into Paso on Tuesday afternoon, and had to be on a flight to OK the next day! Unfortunately, I guess there was just not enough time for me to get ready, and I missed my AmericaWorst flight by a few minutes. Luckily, there was a delayed United flight that would get me into Dallas just before midnite. I drove through a wicked electrical storm that night from Dallas to OKC, and arrived at the office the next morning to find out that (as usual) the job was delayed a day. The phrase "Hurry up and Wait" must have been invented by someone who works in the oil patch, because it seems like I always race like a maniac to get somewhere and then sit around for a day waiting for things to get started. The only time that a job is ever ready on time, it is when I am late!!!!
   After arriving on location this morning and getting everything ready to go, they said they wouldnt be ready for at least 5 or 6 more hours, meaning they would need me on location right around midnite to get to work. I got myself a room down here in MacAlester, OK (which is currently overrun with some sort of old-lady convention) and expect a call sometime in the night that I have to head back out. I'll try to catch a few winks while I can!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Good to Go, Almost

   Well, the first survey out at Natural Soda went very well. The tool performed flawlessly, and we were able to verify the location of the baking soda well to within the customer's requirements. There is a second well on the pad that they had originally wanted to survey as well, and the company informed me that it would be a day or so before they were ready. After waiting around all day the next day for the job to start, the company man told me that we would be ready sometime Sunday around 2pm.
   I phoned out to location Sunday morning, and was told that they wouldn't be ready for me until at least 8pm that evening. Now, the night before, I had checked into the few remaining ski areas still open in Colorado, and decided that if I was going to go skiing, I would need a full day. When I got the news that the job was delayed, I decided to go check out Loveland Pass ski area (about 2 hrs drive from where I was staying). I didn't really intend to ski, since it looked like $40 for a half day ticket, plus another $17 to rent gear, but when I arrived, a guy in the parking lot gave me a lift ticket for free! I guess he had purchased a multi-pack, and since Loveland was closing the next weekend, he wouldn't be back again before his ticket expired. That was enough to convince me to give it a go. I hit the slopes around 1130, and skied for a few hours until the wind and rain and snow got the better of me and I decided I had better head back for my 8:00 job.
   I arrived on location with time to spare, but shortly after I arrived they were cleaning the hole out for us to run our survey and they got their drillstring stuck! The tubulars they are using on this project are so small that if they were to get stuck while running our tool, they wouldn't be able to get it out. Natural Soda decided that the risk of losing a $200k+ tool down hole was not worth getting a survey, so after waiting on location all night we were released.
   Hoping to catch a Monday flight home from Grand Junction, I got packed up fast and got ready to high-tail it back to my hotel and then on to the airport. I figured I had just enough time to get packed, showered and make it to the airport in time for the last flight of the day. No sooner was I ready to go then I got a call that I had to head to another project in the area where they were having problems.
   I am not the first person from engineering to visit this site, but it seems that previous attempts to help them with their specialized project have failed. I analyzed the problem and spoke with a few people back at ATA and now everything is good. Sadly, it took just long enough that there was no way for me to fly out until this morning.