Monday, May 30, 2011

Project Update - Phase 6

Phase 6 - Punishment of the Innocent

Management has pulled the project from the engineering firm who was doing the FEED (Front End Engineering Design) and we have all transitioned to a new firm who will do the execution or detailed design. Of course, there are many details that were not completed and those became carry over work to the new firm. I developed a list of some 300 items that need to be done. And there is always the issue of the learning curve. Yes, the old firm was slow but their engineers understood the background of the project that the new guys have to learn. And they have to learn it quickly. There is always a loss of efficiency when you make a move like this.

In addition, our internal client (another division within the company) that we are designing the plant for has decided to embed some of their people in the project team. It is never a good thing when the client decides you need more "supervision". Effects are already being felt with a number of random questions that require responses. This takes manpowwer away from the project but as they are paying the bills they have the right to ask.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book Review - Buried Prey

This is the latest of John Sandford's "prey" series. It starts with the discovery of two bodies found in a construction site. Now flash back in time to Lucas Davenport's first case as a detective. Lucas is pulled from a uniform detail to help in the search for two missing young girls. This is a time before he became wealthy or married. The book is a great insight into the personality of the character and helps you to understand his actions in the previous books. Determined to make amends for his past mistakes, he pursues this serial killer with an intensity thats extreme even for Lucas.

This is one of my favorite books of this series. This one is hard to put down.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Nigerian Scam

My wife and I have a house that we rent. It was recently on the market through our agent, a reputable national real estate firm, who manages it for us. We went there the other day to do a little clean up work in the yard to enhance its curb appeal. Within 15 minutes we had two cars stop and inquire about the house. It turns out that they saw a Craig's List ad for the house and the rent asked was about half of the going rate. When you open the ad there was a long story by the "owners" about how they built the house and were now overseas. All you had to do was to send a money order for one months rent to Nigeria and they would send you the keys.

Folks, come on! Send money to Nigeria?

After talking to one woman, she called her husband to tell him it was a scam. When she called, he was on the other line with the scammers who were trying to convince him that the deal was real. He refused to believe her and still wanted to send the money!

It amazes me that people still believe these Nigerian scams.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Petrobras in the GOM, II

BOEMRE has finally issued a report on the Petrobras riser failure.

The investigation determined that a 6 ¾-inch diameter, 862-pound chain link in the tether chain had fractured and separated near its butt weld. Analysis of the fracture indicated that the chain link had a weld repair and the fracture initiated in the middle of the weld. Three links of the 24-link tether chain were found to have weld repairs. After the chain had been heat treated, the non-US based manufacturer had made weld repairs to the chain by grinding defects and filling the void with weld material. The chain was being built in accordance with Det Norske Veritas (DNV) Offshore Mooring Chain standard. Post heat treat weld repairs are disallowed per DNV’s Offshore Mooring Chain standard. The post heat treat weld repairs made the chain susceptible to hydrogen induced stress cracking due to the extreme hardness of the weld material and the residual stress within the weld.

This explanation seems to be consistent with my understanding of Petrobras' somewhat cavalier attitude regarding cost and schedule versus safety. Either through ignorance, or maybe even intentionally, they allowed a quick repair without studying the implications. Also note that the repair was kept secret from the DNV inspector. My guess is that Petrobras did not have an inspector at the shop and relied upon the DNV to perform inspections. Then the manufacturer, when faced with a financial loss, decided to do the repair without DNV approval.

Engineers know that the strength of steel is dependent upon things at the microscopic level. There have been more than one catastrophic failure because someone decided to strike a welding arc on a specialized steel.

BOEMRE's recommendations are below:

1)Operators should monitor and inspect critical mooring components 100% of the time during the manufacturing process.

2) Operators should ensure that the personnel and companies contracted to perform inspections and quality assurance of critical mooring components are qualified to do so.

3) Operators should treat the area above a buoyancy air can for a free-standing hybrid riser as potentially hazardous. No floating production facility or support vessel should be allowed to pass over a free-standing hybrid riser.

These recommendations seem a little light to me. I would call for an immediate investigation of all other chain on the project. It wouldn't be cheap but I shudder to think about the damage that a buoyancy can rocketing to the surface could do to a vessel. And these recommendations mean nothing unless the inspector, often a contractor whose pay is dependent upon staying in the good graces of his employer, is willing to dig in his heels and reject a very expensive piece of gear.

I also wonder how you are supposed to keep vessels from travelling over the top of the risers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TSA Adventures - Response to Email

I recently asked the TSA why I had to be frisked in a private room after testing positive for explosives on the first pat down. Here is their response.

Thank you for your recent e-mail concerning your request for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) publications.

We greatly appreciate your efforts to prepare travelers by making them aware of TSA security procedures and requirements. Unfortunately, TSA is not able to mass produce copies of our publications for wide distribution. Our publications are available, however, for printing from our website at Many brochures are in PDF format for high-quality reproduction and are available free for your use.

When there is a change in our screening policy, TSA publicizes these updates in local and national media, as well as on our website, to aid travelers. Additionally, our website offers a variety of information for travelers and consumers, such as a list of items prohibited in aircraft cabins, tips for people traveling with children, security laws, and links to other transportation websites.

TSA appreciates that you took the time to contact us and hopes this information is helpful.

Well, I didn't expect much more than a form letter anyway. I suspect that the real reason for the private room was that it was a full contact pat down and they didn't want to see a video of it posted on the internet.

Here is something to watch for if you opt out or have to have a pat down - Watch to see if the agent puts on new gloves. If he doesn't, the gloves could be tainted from anywhere before he gave you the pat down. If they then test positive, there is no way to be sure it came from you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Head Count

KSA doubled their year to date number by executing a rapist and 2 murderers. Total now at six.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

USMA Hears the News

A friend of mine's son is in his second year at West Point. He sent his dad an email describing what happened when the cadet corps heard the news about bin Laden.

I can barely articulate how crazy last night was. Emails were sent out at about 10:30 at night telling us to check out CNN. The second the anchor said that Osama had been killed, I swear the entire corps ran out into central area. There were at least fifty glow sticks being thrown around; two or three smoke grenades; and 2000+ bodies climbing on statues, each other, and MP cars. The entire mob ran to the superintendent’s house, but he had run to the cadet area to meet us. So we ran back to the area. Then we mobbed back to his house just in time to listen to his impromptu speech. Officers living two miles away were woken up by us celebrating. People were sporadically crying and singing the national anthem.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

More TSA Adventures, Continued

Here is a copy of the query I sent to the TSA concerning my recent pat down. I will post the response.

I typically "opt out" of the x-ray machine due to concerns about civil rights and radiation. As usual, I opted out and received the usual pat down. Upon checking the swab for explosives, the machine showed a positive indication. I was then taken to a private cubical for another, full contact pat down. I told the agent that while I was not refusing, I preferred that the pat down be done in a public area. He insisted that it be done in the private cubical because "it's the rules." I asked to see the rules and was refused. I relented and the subsequent test was negative.

I am concerned that we have a regulatory agent that uses "the rules" to justify his actions while a citizen is not allowed to see the applicable regulation.

Can you send me a copy of the regulations that the agent was citing?

Can you explain why the second pat down had to be done out of the view of the public?