Thursday, December 17, 2015

Requiem for a Process Engineer

Sometimes I really hate Process (Chemical) Engineers. They epitomize "paralysis by analysis". I used to have a sign in my office that read "There comes a time in every project wen you have to shoot the Process Engineer and begin construction".

So today, we are trying to get a package out. The designer is beavering away changing all his piping line weights because they didn't print correctly and everyone is staying late to get the drawings organized. In the meantime, the Process Engineer wanders into the design area with a typographical error he found.

He was lucky he escaped with his life.


Commenters reminded me that using cannons to punch holes in burning oil tanks was done to prevent a BLEVE (Burning Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion). Here's a video of one:

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Fighting Oil Field Fires with Artillery

I ran across an interesting piece of oil field history the other day. It was a first person account of fighting an oil tank fire in 1884. Lightening had struck an oil derrick and ignited a small storage tank. This tank leaked and the resulting pool fire spread to a battery of large storage tanks. The fire then became uncontrollable. The fire fighting method of the day for oil tank fires was to fire a cannon into the tank in order to punch holes and drain the tank before the fire caused the oil to boil over. Several of thee cannon can be found in various oil field museums.

The story was printed in MIT's newspaper, "The Tech". A link to it is here. Be sure to browse the paper for other news of MIT and advertising of the era.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Fracking History

On December 10, 1967, the US Government, in cooperation with El Paso Natural Gas Company, experimented with fracking using atomic bombs.

Two other test sites were "fracked" as well. The gas was too radioactive to distribute thus ending the experiment.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dec 7

Call it Memory Monday. This is a good day to read this old post again and think about the sailors at Pearl Harbor.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Book Review - The Promise

Elvis is back along with Joe Pike and Maggie the K9 in this latest book by Robert Crais. Elvis is engaged to find a missing woman who had allegedly embezzled a large amount of money. But the woman who hires him to find her friend will only meet anonymously in parking lots. In addition, she calls Elvis continuously demanding progress reports. As Elvis investigates he finds himself in the middle of a police call concerning a murder that escalates when Maggie finds explosives (It seems she was trained to find IEDs when she was a Marine which nobody knew). While Elvis is trying to find the truth concerning his new client and the missing woman, the police consider him a suspect in the murder and he has to avoid their surveillance by enlisting Joe and Jon Stones help.

I really enjoyed this one as all of my favorite characters came together. Crais has written this book in a sort of Rashomon style where each chapter is told from the viewpoint of one of the characters, including Maggie. Crais is the only person I have read who makes me believe that he can get into the mind of a dog and I really enjoyed the chapters told from Maggie's point of view.

This is a great read and I think it's one of Crais' best.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Head Count

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia beheaded 6 murderers and 3 druggies last month. This brings their year to date total to an even 140.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Glenfiddich Small Batch reserve - 18 Year Old

I've reviewed their 18 year old scotch before. The review is here. While this is also an 18 year old and it is aged in similar sherry and bourbon casks, this is not the same scotch by any means.

Color: Dark amber
Nose: floral, notes of vanilla
Palate: Extremely smooth and round, not at all harsh to the tongue or taste buds
Finish: Long and warming

This scotch is so smooth, it's like drinking silk. Even my wife enjoyed sipping this scotch. This one is well worth the expense if you are looking for a special drink.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Book Review - The Crossing

Bosch is back! I guess Michael Connelly has been busy with the screen writing for the Amazon series and is off his regular schedule. I have been waiting for this latest in the Bosch series and it is finally here. Bosch has been forced into retirement and is trying to adjust to his new circumstances. But Mickey Haller has a job for him if Bosch is willing to cross over to the dark side and work for the defense to free an accused murderer. Bosch is slowly sucked into the case as he finds anomalies in the evidence. He vows that in order to be true to his personal integrity, he will not just find the evidence necessary to provide reasonable doubt but will find the actual murderer. And so he begins his search for the "crossing" - that point at which the victim crosses paths with their murderer.

Guaranteed to keep you reading until the finish. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tossed, but not Sunk

Translation: Tossed, but not sunk. It is the motto of Paris. You can see it on the City's coat of arms. This graffiti is courtesy of a group of street artists called "Grim Team". Their Facebook page is here.

The Latin motto refers to the Isle de la Cite where Paris, then called Lutetia by the Romans, was first founded. It was an unsinkable ship.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

College Campus Demonstrations

I attended college during the Vietnam Era. It was common to have anti war demonstrations on campus (I attended an urban private university in Boston - no, not Hahvahd). We also got the occasional bomb threat.

As engineering students, we didn't cut class. Trying to catch up from missing even one lecture was not worth the trouble. One day we were all in a Fluid Statics and Dynamics lecture when the word was passed that the building had received a bomb threat. The professor stopped the lecture, looked around the room and said, "The walls here look pretty substantial. I am going to continue the lecture, but feel free to leave if you want to." Everybody stayed.

STEM students don't have time to demonstrate.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Review - Saturn Run

John Sandford broke from his genre and tried his hand at SF. He partnered with someone named Ctein, whose name I still haven't figured out how to pronounce. Bottom line - stick with what you know and do well.

Strange activity is seen around the rings of Saturn and it is suspected that aliens have planted something out there. The decision is made to investigate and a race between the USA and China is on to investigate what is out there. The book then goes into detail concerning the propulsion system, construction of the vessel and life aboard the space ship. There is very little character development and I found that I didn't really care what happened to any of them. The Chinese were almost forgotten about until the last part of the book and then they were portrayed as caricatures of their race.

I have always found that Sandford's crime novels get a hook into you and you want to keep reading to see what happens next. In Saturn Run, not so much. Much of the book is as boring as interplanetary space travel. It doesn't begin to get interesting until the last 100 pages and then it's predictable. The final victory of the good guys seems almost anticlimactic.

SF fans may like this novel. Comparing it against Sandford's other works, this is not one of his best. But, if you are faced with a long airplane flight, this book may be just the thing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

Nov 14, 1947. The first offshore oil well drilled out of sight of land was started. A wooden platform in 20 feet of water about 10 miles from shore was built by Brown and Root for Kerr McGee. That area is known today as Ship Shoal 32.

The wooden platform supported the derrick. Support equipment, power and quarters was on a tender barge that was moored to the platform. This barge began life as a Navy utility barge in 1945. It was built at the Boston Naval Shipyard near the end of the war as YFN-893. It was sold to Kerr McGee and renamed "Ker Mac Drilling Tender No. 1", a utilitarian name if there ever was one. In 1978 she was sold to Norman Offshore, an offshore pipeline contractor and named "Pipeliner 8". This is where I first encountered her. I was the Project Engineer for Mobil Oil and had contracted her to lay some pipe.In 1983 she was sold to Global Industries,another offshore contractor, and renamed "Delta 1". At this point in her career she had reached 40 years and was near the end of her useful life. She was eventually sold for scrap.

WW II surplus provided a great deal of equipment to the fledgling offshore oil industry. Submarine diesel engines were used for generator sets on floating drill rigs. Their electric motors were installed in the lower hulls of semi submersible drilling rigs and used to propel them from location to location. Gun tubes were used as piles to support fixed platforms. Liberty ships were converted to drill ships by cutting a moon pool in the hull and adding a derrick. And it all started this week in 1947.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What Are They Thinking?

Thoughts on a couple of recent political issues.......

Obama wants to "ban the box". The box is the thing you check on job applications to answer the question, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" Dems think checking YES hurts the poor misunderstood ex-con. But during the job interview, ones work history is bound to come up. How do you explain a gap of several years in your resume? I was making license plates?

The progressives also want to let self declared trans genders into female bathrooms and locker rooms. Never mind the adolescent who will claim a new gender identity just to get a glimpse of female anatomy.....anyone who has been to a large event knows that there are never enough toilets for the ladies. In fact, the more desperate ones can be seen entering the mens room to use a stall there because the line was too long at the womens room. The last thing women want is competition for the few toilets available. Talk about your war on women!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Head Count

Saudi Arabia beheaded only 8 murderers last month. The year to date head count is now 131.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Warbird Pr0n

The Confederate, Oops, Commemorative Air Force flew into New Orleans last weekend with their collection of warbirds and landed at Lakefront Airport (NEW) As a bonus, they brought one of the last surviving Doolittle Raiders, Col. Dick Cole, who answered questions from the audience. If you didn't know, he was Jimmy Doolittle's co-pilot. Here is some aviation eye candy.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

K9 - 1, Goblin - 0

A St Tammany Parish K9 unit was pursuing a burglary suspect when the suspect attacked the human in the team. Thor, the humans 4 legged partner attacked the burglar to protect his partner and was stabbed repeatedly. The 2 legged officer, having the use of opposable thumbs, shot and killed aforementioned burglar. While he lost a lot of blood, Thor was treated for his wounds, given a transfusion, and is recovering. You don't attack the police, even if he is a dog. (And where do you get the blood for a canine transfusion?)

In other LEO news, my nephew made his first arrest the other day after stopping a home invasion suspect after a high speed chase when the suspect wrecked his motorcycle.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Halloween in the Catacombs

If you happen to be in Paris on Halloween and need a place to spend the night, AirBnB will set you up with a free overnight stay, plus dinner, in the catacombs. Yup, just you, your Significant Other, and 6 million dead people. The link is here.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015

How to Deal with Phone Zombies

If you fly in or out of Atlanta you will be familiar with the "Plane Train", an automate people mover that moves you from where you are to the terminal you want to be at. It's fast and efficient but the doors don't stay open too long so you have to be ready to go when it stops.

My wife and I were connecting to the final leg of our trans Atlantic return trip and we were feeling the effects of almost 24 hours without sleep. We jumped on the Plane Train to get from the international terminal and go all the way to the other end. At some point a young man got on the train and started talking on his mobile phone. He was parked directly in front of the doors but we didn't give it a thought as most people will check for departing passengers and move out of the way. We arrived at our station and stood up to jockey for position at the door. He was so intent on his conversation that he didn't even look up to see if someone wanted to pass. My wife politely said "excuse me" but he still didn't move. At this point, I used my "command voice" and called out MOVE! He looked up in shock and whimpered, "You didn't have to yell at me."

The walking dead are among us.......they all have mobile phones attached to their skulls.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Head Count

Saudi Arabia sent only 2 murderers to Allah last month in what can only be described as a downturn worse than the stock market. Their year to date total now stands at 123.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

French Cooking

Yep, PE took a cooking class in Paris. Well, I kept my wife company anyway. Here is the main dish - Sage and Walnut Stuffed Pork Loin

Start with pork loins, some nice prosciutto or other cured ham and caul fat (optional - you may not be able to get this in the US)

Lay out the caul fat and ham

Slice your pork loin lengthwise, stuff with sage leaves and chopped walnuts, wrap it in the caul fat and ham and tie it up.

Sear it in a pan

Finish it off in a 400 degree oven. We then made a sauce using the debris from the pan, carrots and cream.

Slice the loin. It was presented on a bed of ratatouille with the sauce around the side.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Paris Street Iron

I happened to be in the 16th today when I heard the whine of a sports car. t turns out that I happened to walk into a shoot by Top Gear France. They were driving a Radical RXC Turbo around the area. This car set the record at the Nurburgring for a production car. It is a street legal track car. I think the guy behind the wheel is Bruce Jouanny, a French race driver and co-host.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mechanical Engineer Nerdiness

This is how the lower elevators on the Eiffel Tower work.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Steampunk Paris

Saw this guy and his bicycle next to Notre Dame this morning. Yes, those are candles in the headlights.....real ones.

Gates of Hell

If you see these, don't go in.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Book Review - Avenue of Spies

I have read several of Alex Kershaws books (The Liberator, The Longest Winter) and found his writing style easy to read and enjoyable. "Avenue of Spies" is about an American, Dr. Sumner Jackson from Maine,  who headed up the American Hospital in Paris during the war and was active in the resistance. He lived on Ave. Foch which is one of the main streets that end at the Arc de Triomphe. Unfortunately, when the Germans occupied Paris, the Gestapo and the Secret Police decided to commandeer buildings on this same street. His story is one of low key courage as he hid downed pilots and helped them make the "home run" back to England, treated French soldiers and helped them to disappear from the lists, kept the Germans from taking over the hospital and used his house as a message drop for the resistance.

It's a good read about a little known piece of history about the war.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Evidence of War

There are memorial plaques all over Paris. Some commemorate the people who were deported and sent to the camps and others commemorate those who fell during the liberation of Paris. Some are not even plaques at all. If you are observant you can find evidence of war everywhere. This is a picture of the outside of the Palais du Justice (Court). It is across the river from the St Michel Square and still has the bullet holes from 1944.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


There is a street artist in Paris that goes by the name of  "Invader". His art is mosaic pieces based on the early pixel figures from the game of the same name. He puts his art on buildings, usually without permission. He calls them "invasions". He has over 1600 installations in Paris and has branched out to other cities, including Miami. Here is some of his work. The last one is probably one of his early invasions. You can see where the building as been painted and they did a poor job trying to paint around it..

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Seen in Paris

My wife and i were having lunch next to La Madeleine when this came tooling by. It's called a Solowheel and I want one.

Economic Indicators

Notes from Paris.......

There is a woman who begs outside of the church of St. Louis en L'isle. We pass her almost every day and usually drop a few coins in her basket. Today my wife spoke to her and she realized that we were Americans. She then asked that we donate in dollars instead of euros. It's good to know that with the euro dropping and the current world economic concerns that the "street economists" still prefer dollars.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Head Count

Saudi Arabia played catch up last month by beheading a total of 21 murderers and druggies. Their year to date head count now stands at 121. There were so many that they had to resort to batch beheadings doing up to 5 at one session.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Museum Trip

Son and DIL were taking oldest grandson off to college so my wife and I had the other 2 grands as visitors over the weekend. She took one off to Thai food and cheese and I took the younger to the WW II Museum. I specifically wanted to see the "Road to Berlin" exhibit.

The exhibit sets are dressed to look like the area where the fighting took place. The upper is Italy and the lower is the Battle of the Bulge with a vintage Opel. Specifically, this set described "Task Force Baum", the team Patton sent to rescue his son in law from a POW camp.

Another great hall is the Boeing Pavilion where they have the large static displays.

The upper is a Sherman in working condition. They can drive it where they want it. The lower is a TBM Avenger similar to the one flown by Thomas Lupo, a local boy who flew in the Battle off Samar. His story is here. In the background is the Medal of Honor wall.

Comfort Food

I had an early morning medical procedure at the ambulatory surgical center the other day. Afterwards, my wife and I decided we needed some good old comfort food. I give you Mimosas and Shrimp and Grits......with Bacon. It makes a body feel good.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Praise for OtterBox

I appreciate good customer service and like to spread the word about companies that practice it. Amazon is one such company. Another is OtterBox.

OtterBox makes protective cases for cell phones. And they are good. I dropped previous phone on the drive way and the OtterBox did what it was supposed to do. It sacrificed itself but protected the phone. Even though it was technically out of warranty, Otterbox replaced it free of charge. Then the clip that held the phone in my holster broke. Since the case was now several years old, I ordered a replacement.but, as luck would have it, I ordered the wrong one. I called OtterBox and they cheerfully sent the correct of charge. And they did not want the other one back.

Last year I upgraded to a Galaxy 3 and bought an OtterBox case and holster for it. Yesterday the clip on the holster broke again. OtterBox has a place on their website where you can send them a picture of your damaged case and they will replace it under warranty. I did that this morning and within 10 minutes I had an email back that a replacement was on the way.

I know it's only a cell phone case, but I wish more companies had the same dedication to customer service that they do.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Where's My Flying Car?

Remember back when we all thought we would have flying personal vehicles? Well, here's the answer.

Monday, August 10, 2015

What Goes Around.......

This email was caught in the spam filter yesterday.

Dear Sir/Madam
I am Mr. Hyo Keun Lee citizen of South Korea. A resident of Syria due tothe present political unrest and instability in Syria affecting foreign investors. I decided to relocate to your country. I got your contacts through my personal research and out of desperation. I dealon crude oil I decided to reach you through this medium.
I have US $56,000.000 (fifty Six Million United States Dollars) for investment purpose. I want you to receive this fund on my behalf and invest on a profitable business venture on an agreed terms. If you are interested I will offer you 25% of US $56,000.000 Million United States Dollars. please get back to me as soon as possible through my private email address:(  for us to discuss further. The business transaction must be kept top secret for security reasons.
Mr. Hyo Keun Lee

I haven't seen this scam for several years but I guess you can't keep an old con down.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Head Count

Murder and drugs will cause you to loose your head in Saudi Arabia. Last month, probably because of Ramadan, the count was lower than usual. Only 5 people were beheaded. The year to date total now stands at an even 100.

Cleaning Paris

Paris is an extremely clean city. You see the "Guys in Green" at work 7 days a week. Here's alittle video about what it takes to keep Montmatre and Sacre Coeur clean.
Montmartre propre tous les matins
Tous les matins, quand Paris dort encore, une équipe de nettoyeurs de la mairie de Paris se déploie dans les rues de Montmartre. Au total une centaine de sacs poubelles sont remplis tous les jours.
Posted by PARIS on Monday, August 3, 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Linky Maintenance

I was bored so I decided to clean out some links that were moribund and add a new one. "Interesting Engineering" is a site with engineering, science and technology news. It makes for a good time killer.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Air Medal Awarded!

A pilot flying out of the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station was recently awarded the Air Medal. The Air Medal is awarded for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight. The short story is that his F-18 was hit by lightening and he received an electric shock that scrambled his neurological network.. In spite of this, he managed to get his plane back safely. The story in the local paper is here.
If you want to read a more detailed version by his wing man, go here.

You never know when things are going to go south in aviation.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Happy Trinity Day

No, not the Holy Trinity but the atomic one. Today is the 70th anniversary of the Trinity Test.

Yesterday I added another link to my atomic chain by attending a lecture by the great-grand daughter of Leslie R Groves - head of the Manhattan Project. She provided personal anecdotes about him that most people don't know. For example, his nickname was DNO (Dino) which he got from his wife. He was either called Dick or DNO, not Leslie. His family never knew what he did or where he went. He often gave them instructions about what to tell people who asked about him. He never carried a briefcase because of security concerns - a briefcase made you look too important. He authorized himself to wear civilian clothes for the same reason. After he received word of the successful bombing of Hiroshima, he celebrated with his family by having chocolate ice cream.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Paris Catacombs - Underwater

This is unique underwater footage of a diving trip to the catacombs. Turn on the captioning for English subtitles.
 The poem is by Edgar Allen Poe.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Head Count

Saudi Arabia had a slight reduction in the number of be-headings last month. They separated 11 heads from their owners bodies. It was almost equally divided between murderers and drug offenders. Their year to date total is now 95. At this rate, they are on track to reach a total of 200 for the year.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Political Correctness and Democrat Segregationists

OLD NFO has a rant a rant going about the current state of political correctness and the Confederate Flag. I'd like to offer an alternative to the current foolishness and bring things a little closer to recent history.

In 1954, the SCOTUS ruled in Brown v Board of Education that segregation in schools was unconstitutional. Many elected officials disagreed and they wrote the Southern Manifesto claiming that the SCOTUS had exceeded it authority. The document was signed the elected officials of the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. There were 101 signatures in all. Of these, 99 of them were Democrat! Many of these staunch segregationists now have public buildings or naval vessels named after them. You may remember some of them. Do any of these names sound familiar?

William Fulbright
Richard Russell
Allen Ellender
Russell Long
John Stennis
Strom Thurmond

Wilbur Mills
Carl Vinson
Hale Boggs
F. Edward Hebert
L. Mendel Rivers

I suggest that we rename everything currently associated with these segregationist Democrats!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Monkey Shoulder Scotch

I'm usually a purist when it comes to scotch preferring single malts to blends. However, I have to appreciate the skill required to blend whiskey and to make the blend consistent over time. Therefore, when I saw this blended scotch advertised at my local store and my son asked me what I wanted for Father's Day, I had an answer.

The name Monkey Shoulder derives from the repetitive motion injury incurred by the guys that hand turned the malt during the drying process. It would become difficult to lift their arm after hours of shoveling malt. This scotch is a blend of three Speyside whiskeys: Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie. I like the first two but have never tasted the third. The blend is then aged in ex-bourbon casks.

Color: Dark amber
Nose: Clean, oaky
Palate: Smooth and rich
Finish: Long

Keep your eye peeled for this at you local liquor store. It's worth a try.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Black Lives Matter

Where is the outrage about this senseless murder? He was a retired Navy air traffic controller (AC) and was liked and respected by all who worked with him at the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


This is a video of a new sport called "Scarping". It involves water skiing behind a boat while trying to catch flying carp.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

June 15, 1954

Mr. Charlie, the first true mobile offshore drilling rig, was launched. Mr. Charlie was the concept of "Doc" Laborde who formed Offshore Drilling and Exploration Company (ODECO). The rig was built by J. Ray McDermott. It is now a museum and training center, the International Petroleum Museum and Exposition in Morgan City, La.

I worked for both of those companies

June 20, 1977

Oil begins flowing in the  800 mile long Trans Alaska Pipeline (TAPS). I was in Anchorage when it was started up. The oil was pushing a pig with a noisemaker on it so its progress could be tracked. The location of the pig was a subject of the news every night.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

June, 9, 1894

The oil industry started in Texas with the discovery oil in Corsicana, Texas. In the ultimate irony, the contractor was drilling water! For you trivia buffs, Wolf Brand Chili got its start in Corsicana during the oil boom in 1895.

June 11, 1816

The city streets of Baltimore are lit with manufactured gas by Baltimore Gas and Electric, the first gas company in the new world. The gas was manufactured from coal, tar and wood. Save the Whales breathes a sigh of relief.

June 14, 1938

The US Government passes the Natural Gas Act of 1938. This was the first instance of direct federal regulation of the oil and gas industry. The intent was to regulate transportation fees on interstate pipelines.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

June 4, 1872

Robert A Chesebrough receives a patent for Vaseline. The 22 year old noticed that that there was a waxy buildup on well heads on a visit to the Pennsylvania oi fields. This material was called "rod wax" and the oil field workers used it for treatment of minor cuts and abrasions. He took a sample with him, purified it and called it petroleum jelly. You have probably used some of it at some time during your life.

June 6, 1967

The first oil embargo was attempted. One day after the start of the Six Day War, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya and Algeria agreed to stop exporting oil to countries friendly to Israel. The emargo lasted about 2 months before it fell apart. They would get better at it later.

It happens that my family was making a cross country drive during this period. We never noticed any shortage of gasoline.

June 4, 1979

The well "Ixtoc One" blows out in the Bay of Campeche, Mexico. It took almost 10 months to kill it. During this period, the well spewed out over 3 million barrels (126 million gals) of oil making it second only to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Head Count

Saudi Arabia seems to be trying to take care of their drug problem by beheading the offenders They separated 17 heads last month, most of them for drug charges. This brings their year to date total for be headings to an astounding 84. The demand is so great that they have advertised in the employment section for new executioners. They want to hire 8 more executioners.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Spitfire Pilot

This is an interview with two women who flew for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA)  in WW II. The ATA was the British version of  our WASPs (Womens Airforce Service Pilots). They ferried airplane from the manufacturer to their destinations.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

May 17, 1882

A well in Cherry Grove, PA flows at an unheard of rate of 1000 barrels per day sending oil price shock waves through the 25 year old industry. What became known as the Pennsylvania 646 Mystery Well caused oil prices to fall to 50 cents per barrel. It's the Law of Supply and Demand in action.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Book Review - Gathering Prey

This follows the last "Prey" book by one year....far too long in my opinion.

Lucas Davenport's adopted daughter, Letty, befriends a female "traveler" in California. Travelers are young homeless who wander the country usually following a rock band. In this case, they are following a group known as the Insane Clown Possee. Their followers dress up with face paint as clowns and are called Juggalos.

Letty is contacted by this girl who tells her that she thinks someone has killed her travelling companion. The suspect is a cult leader called Pilate who has a group of travelers that are into torture murders. She strikes out to follow this group seeking revenge and Letty follows her. Of course, Lucas is not far behind once he finds out that Letty is off on her own.

The plot quickens as Lucas starts chasing this group and it ends up in a massive shoot out. Once they get to the second Juggalo concert, the action is non stop and you will not be able to put it down. Fair not start reading that part late at night.

Definitely one of the better books in the series and it ends with an interesting twist.

Friday, May 15, 2015


The U 166 was a Type IX submarine built in Bremerhaven, Germany and commissioned in March 1942. She had a short life as she was sunk in July of that same year.

The U 166 was the only submarine sunk in the Gulf of Mexico. For decades its location remained a mystery. She was finally located in 2001 during a pre-lay survey for an offshore pipeline. However, controversy still remained about her sinking. Robert Ballard was able to solve that mystery. How he did that is described in the video below.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Save Sealab I

Sealab I was the US Navy's first underwater habitat. It proved the concept of mixed gas saturation diving. In 1964, 4 divers lived at a depth of 200 feet for 11 days. It is now an exhibit at Panama City's Man in the Sea Museum. They have a Gofundme site to collect money to refurbish this piece of diving history. The link is here.

Here is an old documentary about the project.

There were other underwater habitats that followed Sealab I. There was Sealab II and then Tektite but they have all been lost to the scrapyard. Please send something to save Sealab I.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Paris: Then and Now

If you look at the sidebar, you will find a link to Messy Nessy, who writes a really cool blog about Paris. Her most recent is about a photographer who has researched the locations of photographs taken during the liberation of Paris in August of 1944 and then shown them in overlay with a photo of the same location in present time. It's really worth the the few minutes to look at them. And know that several of these same locations now have memorial plaques for those who are "Mort pour France".

Here's the link.....

Monday, May 11, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

May 15, 1911

The Supreme Court orders the break up of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey for violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Standard Oil was broken up in to 34 companies and they have been slowly getting back together ever since.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Last U Boat - U 853

U 853 was the last U boat sank off the east coast. It's final resting place is near Point Judith, RI. The video below has some interesting footage and an interview with the captain of U 853's victim.

Dad was a CPO (Machinist Mate) on one of the destroyers (USS Ericsson) that hunted and killed the U 853. Here is more of the story.

On May 4, 1945, Admiral Doenitz sent a radio message to all the submarines at sea to cease hostilities. The U 853 either never got the message or ignored it because on May 5 at about 5:40 PM , she torpedoed and sank the 1918 vintage collier SS Black Point. Naval Armed Guard Lonnie Whitson Lloyd was killed and became the last USN sailor to die in the Atlantic War.

Meanwhile, a convoy escort task force (TF 60.7) consisting of the USS Ericsson (DD-440), USS Amick (DE-168), USS Atherton (DE-169) and the USS Moberly (PF-63) had finished their work and were on their way back to Boston. The task force commander on board the Ericsson had challenged his ships to a race back to port. He was in the lead and had already entered the Cape Cod Canal when he received orders to return and hunt a submarine. (I suspect he was looking forward to seeing his wife in Boston, hence the race challenge, and his anger at being delayed may have played a part in the destruction of U 853). As he was stuck in the canal, he turned over temporary command to the next senior officer, who ironically was a USCG officer on the Moberly, until he could arrive on scene. They were on site within 2 hours of the sinking and began submarine hunting operations. They were joined later by two blimps (K-16 and K-58) from Lakehurst, NJ.

It appears the U 853 never left the area and was trapped in waters only 130 feet deep. It was all over by noon on May 6, 1945 when the submarine was declared sunk with no survivors. The final indicator of success was the recovery of the captains hat from the floating debris.

This story always intrigued me and I wanted to learn more about the people involved.

The captain of the U 853 at the time of her sinking was Helmut Fromsdorf.

He was born on March 26, 1921 and became an office candidate in September of 1939. He was assigned to U 853 when it was commissioned on June, 1943. He was on board the 853 when she left on her first war patrol on April. 1944, probably the XO. Their mission was to monitor the weather in the North Sea but they were discovered by the USS Croatan (CVE 25) and barely survived a 10 day game of cat and mouse. The US sailors nicknamed their quarry "Moby Dick" because of her elusive character while the Germans called their submarine "The Tightrope Walker"because of their narrow escapes.

I suspect that part of the reason for the extended hunt was to prevent any submarines from getting to Normandy.

The hunt ended on June 17, 1944 when the U 853 was strafed with the loss of 2 dead and 12 wounded. (She must have been in dire straights at this point if she was on the surface and this many crew were topside). Fromsdorf took over command and brought the 853 back to Lorient, France. After this action, the captain (Helmut Sommer) and most of the crew were declared unfit for duty. If you ever had any doubts about the stress of submarine service, this fact should convince you.

During this period, the Allies had invaded France and were rapidly moving west through France. The U 853, with the flotilla commander on board, was the last to leave Lorient and she went to Kiel where she was fitted with a snorkel. She remained in Kiel until February, 1945 when she departed on her last patrol with Helmut Fromsdorf in command.

On April 25, 1945, the 853 sank the USS Eagle (PE-56) off the coast of Maine. She was a WW I era patrol boat and it was not until 2001 before it was realized that she was sunk by a torpedo from U 853. She was thought to be a victim of a boiler explosion.

On May 5, the 853 attacked the Black Point and subsequently met her fate.

The following ordnance was expended in sinking the U 853:

264 hedgehog projectiles
195 depth charges
6 rocket bombs

The captain of the Atherton, Lewis Iselin, said of the battle, "There was no doubt that by this time we knew had it but everyone wanted to get into the act. I don't think there is a hull that took a bigger beating during the war."

A diver inspection of the wreckage a few days after sinking indicated that only 2 hits were made on the hull. Such was the accuracy of WW II submarine warfare.

I suspect that the anger at being delayed from seeing loved ones and that they had to keep fighting, and risking their lives after they knew the war had ended contributed to the level of destruction of the U 853.

So, did Fromsdorf miss the message to surrender or was he a Nazi zealot that decided to go out fighting?

There were 64 U boats at sea at the time of the message. 56 surrendered, 3 were scuttled and 5 were sunk. Also, while I have not been able to find out details, I suspect that the surrender message was being sent repeatedly so it would have been difficult for any boat not to get it.

It's difficult to understand the mindset of Helmut Fromsdorf. He had taken a severe beating in June, 1944. He had to be aware of the numbers of submarines lost (243 in 1943 and 249 in 1944) and of the latest war news - the loss at the Battle of the Bulge, that fact that Russians were 50 miles from Berlin and that the Allies were across the Rhine. Yet he still attacked.

I can't help but think that Fromsdorf was a zealot and ignored the surrender message. He had been born and grew up under Nazi influence. Like most men in their 20s, he probably felt invincible and may have decided to strike one last blow, perhaps as pay back for the beating he took during his first patrol. Finally, Germany was not aware of the anti submarine technology possessed by the Allies. SONAR and magnetic detection made finding the U 853 very easy. Fromsdorf may have thought he could attack and then hide on the bottom but he was severely mistaken. He should have steamed out to sea.

Aftermath and Trivia

  • The propellers from U 853 were salvaged in 1953 and were on display at the Castle Hill Inn
  • The remains of an unknown German sailor were recovered and are now buried in Newport, RI
  • U 853 is considered a war grave but it is a popular dive site
  • Captain Fromsdorf's hat is on display at the Destroyer Escort Historical Foundation in Albany, NY
  • The USS Atherton is still in service as the BRP Rajah Humabon (PF-11) making her one of the oldest ships in the world.
  • Charles Prior, captain of the Black Point, became the president of the Portland Marine Society
  • Lewis Iselin, captain of the Atherton, became a well known sculptor
  • During the battle, the Atherton had a German POW on board. He was put on board in Gibraltar with a ruptured appendix and was treated by the ships Jewish doctor. In 2006, he attended a reunion of the ships crew.
I asked Dad about this battle once. He told me that he was in the engine room the entire time and had no idea was going on topside.

Monday, May 4, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

May 4, 1869

Thomas Fitch Rowland was issued a patent for an offshore drilling concept. The owner of Continental Iron Works of NY, his idea consisted of a 4 legged iron structure with a ship moored alongside for the drilling equipment. It was capable of drilling in water depths up to 50 feet.

Thomas Rowland has other claims to fame - his Continental Iron Works built the USS Monitor during the Civil War and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) named an award after him. It has been awarded annually since 1882.

May 5, 1889

Standard Oil begins construction of the largest refinery in the US near Chicago. Now owned by BP, it is still the largest.

May 7, 1920

Erle Halliburton starts his oil well cementing business. His red cementing trucks are still working.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Head Count

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continued emptying their prisons by beheading another 15 criminals. Two of them were women. They were imported domestic help who were accused of murdering someone in household. These women are often subject to abuse and they have little protection under the law. The year to date total now stands at 67 and the Kingdom is well on it's way to setting a new annual record.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Glenlivet Nadurra - 16 Year Old

I have almost everything I desire so when people ask what they can give me for Father's Day, Birthdays or Christmas I tell them scotch whiskey. As a result I have a nice collection of single malts that I don't sample nearly often enough.

The other day I went looking in the pantry and I found this whiskey by Glenlivet. Nadurra is Gaelic for "natural". It is batch produced at cask strength and is not filtered. Therefore, it may get cloudy when cold or poured over ice. I prefer it as God intended, straight out of the bottle at room temperature so this is not an concern for me. It is aged in casks that previously were used for bourbon.

Here are the tasting notes that Glenlivet puts out:

Color: Pale gold
Nose: Fresh, intense and fragrant
Palate: Crisp, with hints of peach and vanilla
Finish: Long and dry with licorice tang

I would agree with those except that I can't discern the peach, vanilla or licorice they describe. It is, however, a very smooth drink.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

May 1, 1860

The oil industry of (West) Virginia began with a well drilled to 303 feet and producing 100 barrels per day. It was drilled near Burning Springs, so named because of the natural gas seeps in the area. Wirt County, where the lease was located, became part of a new Union state in 1862. The oil field was attacked and destroyed by Confederate troops in 1863.

May 1, 1916

The Sinclair Oil and Refining Company was formed. They used an Apatosaurus as their logo. It was featured in their exhibits in the 1934 and 1964 World's fairs.

May 1, 1931

The Texas Railroad Commission moves to limit production from the East Texas oilfield in an effort to shore up the price of oil which was as low as $0.10 per barrel. The East Texas field was one of the United States largest and has produced 5 Billion barrels to date.

During WW II, the then largest pipeline (24" diameter) in the country was built to the east coast to carry oil to refiners there. It had become too dangerous to ship oil on the seas.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Rough Weather

We had some rough weather today. Local station WGNO captured video of some rail cars being blown off the tracks. This was the East side of the Huey P Long Bridge.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Paris in 3 Minutes

Paris in 3 Minutes - Hyperlapse Experimentation from Maxime Gaudet on Vimeo.

Go to full screes for the best view.

Louisiana Taste Test

What do Californians think of Louisiana cuisine?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Naval Traditions

I copied this from yesterday's Captain's Corner Facebook page for the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) currently headed home after being deployed in the Arabian Gulf. During their 6 month deployment, they flew 2,383 combat missions and dropped 869 precision guided bombs on ISIS.
Today we dipped across the chaotic waters of the equator and paid homage to the Sovereign Ruler of the Raging Main, King Neptunus Rex and his official emissary Davey Jones. Davey paid us a visit last night informing us that we would need to heave to and rid ourselves of the slime of the seas, and I invited him to stay for a talent show so that he could pick a suitable offering for his Royal Highness, King Neptunus Rex. We had a slightly talented Pollywog, "Beat-Box Spongebob square-pants" that won the talent show and earned a spot on the royal court during today's proceedings.
When the day was over, we had rid our ship of the Pollywog infestation. All told, more than 2,900 Pollywog landlubbers had been taken into the realm of the deep and earned the title of Trusty Shellback. It was a wonderful tradition with many laughs and great camaraderie. The groups of Pollywogs provided much entertainment, and their Trusty Shellbacks ensured fun was had throughout the entire event.
It's good to see that some traditions are still in vogue although I'm sure that the activities are much more politically correct than in Dad's day. 

Thank you, sailors of the Vinson and her task force. 

This Week in Oil and Gas History

April 25, 1865

A patent was issued to Civil War veteran Col.Edwin Roberts for an explosive device used for fracturing oil bearing formations in wells to improve flow. In order to avoid his fees, some oilmen hired unlicensed practitioners who used their own devices, usually at night. This is how the term "moonlighting" came into the lexicon.

April 20, 1892

Los Angeles oil field discovered. A well drilled between two tar pits located near the current Dodger Stadium, yielded 25 barrels per day. By 1897 there were 500 wells pumping oil. By 1925, California was producing half of the worlds oil supply. Hard to imagine that today.

April 24, 1911

Magnolia Oil Company was founded in Texas. This is personally interesting because Magnolia became the Mobil Oil Corporation - my employer for almost 20 years. The company was headquartered in the Magnolia Building in Dallas in 1934. The building was topped with their iconic logo of a red Pegasus which became a local landmark and even was an aid to aviation.

April 20, 2010

Deepwater Horizon blowout. We all know what happened there.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

April 14, 1865

John Wilkes Booth shoots President Lincoln. Why is this related to the oil field, you ask? We know that Booth was a well known actor but what isn't well known is that he took his substantial earnings from acting and invested them in an oil well in Pennsylvania. He bought a 3.5 acre lease near Franklin, Pa and formed the Dramatic Oil Company in 1864. His first well produced about 25 barrels per day. His mistake was attempting an early form of fracking called "shooting" where explosives were dropped into the well and detonated. Unfortunately for Booth, his shooting destroyed the well. He lost his money in his oil venture.

Irony, however, knows no bounds. About two months after he caught and killed for the assassination of Lincoln, a well was drilled near his lease that came in at 500 barrels per day.

April 19, 1897

The Duryea brothers present the first commercially available motorcar powered by gasoline. A total of 13 were produced. Environmentalists protest. Global temperature increases several degrees.

It took a while for gasoline to catch on. Three years later, most automobiles were powered by either steam or electricity.

April 13, 1974

The worlds deepest oil well was drilled in Oklahoma. The Bertha Rogers #1 was drilled for gas to a depth of 31,441 feet. It took 504 days to drill and held the record until 2004.

Friday, April 10, 2015


Somehow the date passed with no mention about its significance from any news network or blogger. Yesterday, April 9, was the 150th anniversary of Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox.

Could it be that concerns about race relations and political correctness prevented remembrance of this event in the nation's history?


.. When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.

.. A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

.. When the smog lifts in Los Angeles, U.C.L.A.

.. The batteries were given out free of charge.

.. A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.

.. A will is a dead giveaway.

.. With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

.. A boiled egg is hard to beat.

.. When you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.

.. Police were summoned to a daycare center where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.

.. Did you hear about the fellow whose entire left side was cut off? He's all right now.

.. A bicycle can't stand alone; it's just two tired.

.. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

.. The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine is now fully recovered.

.. He had a photographic memory which was never developed.

.. When she saw her first strands of grey hair she thought she'd dye.

.. Acupuncture is a jab well done. That's the point of it.
.. Those who get too big for their pants will be totally exposed in the end

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

California Leads the Way

Never mind that the California drought is caused by a mindless adherence to the protection of an obscure species that prevents the state from using water resources. Never mind that the NIMBY attitude prevailing in that state prevented the construction of reservoirs that could collect water for use during dry periods. Never mind that the major user of water in the state is agriculture and personal water use amounts to but a drop in the bucket of the total water use.

Never mind all that because the state is determined to control the population by instituting water rationing and is bending technology in the form of smart meters to inform on scofflaws. Hollywood showers are a thing of the past in Hollywood. Your water use will be monitored and you will be punished if you do not comply.

Monday, April 6, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

April 18, 1866

James and Amos Densmore patented a method to transport oil by rail. They built two vertical tanks (wooden) on a flat car. This became a more efective method of transporting oil than in individual barrels.

Amos also has a connection to something else you use every day, In 1875 he helped to re-arrange the typewiter keyboard into the now familiar "QWERTY" arrangement that prevented commonly used keys from jamming each other.

April 7, 1902

Texas Company formed. One of the few companies that became successful out of the Spindletop oil boom. It later became known by the telegraph address of it's New York office - TEXACO.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Street Seen

I'm waiting at the trolly stop at 0615 when I see a couple of young men walking up St. Charles Ave. They appear to be gay. One is wearing a sleeveless T Shirt. He is holding a leash that is attached to his companion. (WTF?!) They stroll up the street and then T Shirt ties the leash (and his companion) to the handrail at Emeril's Delmonico restaurant. He then swishes across the street and asks me if I smoke. When I replied in the negative, he swished back, unhooked his companion and strolled off towards Lee Circle.

As the old saying goes. "The things you see when you don't have a gun." But, it is New Orleans, after all.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Head Count

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continued making space in their penal system by beheading 17 murderers, rapists and druggies.Their three month total now stands at 52 heads. Looks like the new king is trying to make a name for himself.

Monday, March 30, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

April 2, 1980
President Carter signs the Windfall Profits Tax on oil companies. The idea was typical liberal Democrat plan to tax the eeevil oil companies from profiting on the price run up of oil. Eight years later, domestic oil production is at a 20 year low. In August 1988, the tax was repealed. Another failed tax program from the Dems. Now it's called "sharing the wealth".

April 1, 1986
The price of crude oil hits a low of $10 per barrel. (Where did those windfall profits go??) Those of us who survived the 80s remember the oil mans prayer...."Lord, just give me one more boom and I promise I won't screw it up".

Now There Are Two

Robert L. Hite passed away recently. He was the co-pilot for Crew 16 (nicknamed "Bat Out of Hell") of the Dolittle Raid on Tokyo. He was captured and spent three and a half years in a Japanese POW camp.

Only two raiders are left.

Take a moment and salute these men.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

March 29, 1819
Edwin Drake was born. He is credited for drilling the first oil well in 1859 in.....wait for it......Titusville, Pennsylvania! The well was drilled because it was discovered that kerosene could be distilled from oil as well as coal.

March 27, 1855
Kerosene was invented by Canadian chemist Abraham Gesner. Distilled from coal, it was called coal oil and was the primary source of illumination until electricity. My old company, Mobil Oil, sold kerosene in China. They would give away the lamp for free knowing that they would then sell lots of kerosene.

March 28, 1886
For a brief period of time, Indiana became the world largest natural gas producer with the discovery of the Trenton Field near Portland, Indiana. Yep, the first oil and gas fields were in the north.

March 27, 1975
First joint of pipe laid for the Trans Alaska Pipeline.

March 24, 1989
Exxon Valdez runs aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Think of the irony that it happened on the anniversary of the start of the pipeline construction.

Monday, March 16, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

March 17, 1890
Sun Oil Company of Ohio (SUNOCO) is incorporated. Yep, the original oil companies were based in the north.

March 16, 1911
Mobil Oil's Pegasus was trademarked. Later a lighted version of the red flying horse was installed on the company HQ in Dallas and it became a landmark for early travellers.

March 20, 1919
The eeevil American Petroleum Institute (API) was formed. Environmentalists complain.

March 18, 1937
There was a natural gas explosion at the New London HS in east Texas. It killed 298 people. This accident was the reason that natural gas now smells the way it does. Natural gas has no odor and its accumulation in the high school basement went undetected. Since then, a chemical called mercaptan has been added so that small amounts of it assault the nasal membranes. One of the reporters who covered the story was a young Walter Cronkite.

March 17, 1949
The first hydraulic frac takes place near Duncan, Oklahoma. No aquifers were damaged.

Friday, March 13, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

March 12, 1943
A group of oil field roughnesck were secretly sent to the UK to help the Brits drill for oil in Sherwood Forest and provide a submarine-proof source of fuel. You can read more about this little known piece of history here.

March 12, 1968
Prudhoe Bay oil field discovered by ARCO and Exxon. It was 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle and remains the largest oil field in North America.

March 9, 1974
Construction of the 800 mile Trans Alaska Pipeline began. It will cost $8 billion and take three years. I was actually in Alaska when they started up the pipeline. Progress of the "pig" was a daily news item. Note that took less than 10 years from discovery to delivery for North Slope oil - that is an example of American ingenuity.

March 12, 1974
OPEC ends the oil embargo

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Project Management

A friend of mine with many years of project management experience has developed what he calls the "5L's" . He has allowed me to copy them here. I think they are applicable to all phases of life. I have added comments to them in italics.

The Codner 5L's
By James H. Codner

1. LEAD from the front.
Leadership is not as has hard as it looks. But it takes courage and commitment. No one follows a "leader" who leads from the rear or home office. Lead from the front. Demonstrate active and visible leadership practices. If you don’t have some, go get some steel-toed boots. Drag them behind your car for a few blocks if needed to show some wear; then get out in front and lead. Learn people’s names. Nothing sounds more magical from a leader as speaking to someone by his or her first name.

The president of the first company I worked for urged employees to get out into the field and see where the real work was done. Nothing is more valuable than hands on knowledge and experience and nothing gets you respect faster than the signs that you have been there, done it and got the T shirt (Beat up steel toes, dinged hard hats, and a worn out travel bag)

2. LISTEN to others.
Listen to what others say – the best ideas are probably not yours. I have been amazed at the number of times that a complicated problem was solved by simply listening to the person who was on-the-front-line. This works from a 6 foot 7 inch construction worker sorting out a potential safety issue to a 4 foot 3 inch grade school child learning a new sport.

I found that a new engineer will often be "set up" by the field hands. They sit back and ask him what they should do. The best response is to turn it around and ask their advice. If you get them to offer possible solutions they will become part of the team. And they will appreciate being asked for their ideas.

3. LEARN from your mistakes.
If you are not making some mistakes along the way, you can’t possibly be learning anything. The trick is to learn from all incidents, whether they are in an office, at home, a plant, on a construction site or school gymnasium and ensure that there is not a risk of repeating. While it’s not “OK” to get someone hurt or make a costly mistake, the risk of repeating will definitely haunt you.

Don't be ashamed to say "I F'd up." It also protects the people who are working for you. Nobody wants to follow someone who blames someone else for their mistakes. "Hitting the Crown Block" is a drilling term which means you have pulled the travelling block too high and hit the upper block, usually causing grave damage to the drilling rig. I once heard an expreienced superintendent say that he would rather have a driller that had done it once, because he knew that it would never happen again. Of course, if he had done it twice, he was run off.

4. LEVERAGE from others.
Leverage best practices from others – don’t fall into the not-invented-here trap. And what a trap it can be! Simply because we are all too good to trip where others fell! While all projects, great and small, claim to practice “lessons learned”, in reality I’ve seen very few “lessons” (excepting catastrophic lessons) learned in practice, and usually at great industry cost and legislative burden. It’s really a matter of simply taking a “hard swallow”, absorbing and applying your skinned knee to your forward planning.

One company I worked for used the phrase "Steal Shamelessly" to encourage people to seek solutions from others. I have found that it is sometimes best to get outside of your industry and see what ideas they have that could be applied to your situation.

5. LOOP back to the beginning.
Loop back to the beginning. Everything takes practice. Ask a professional athlete. They may easily hit 100,000 tennis / golf / cricket balls in a year and still not be “ranked” on the world stage. Review your plans. Re-read your Contracts. Review your organizational structure (excepting trade skills, usually more is simply less and more inefficient). I’ve found “looping” back almost always reveals trap-doors I didn’t see coming or some other problem that was sure to be imminent.

There's a saying that it's hard to remember that your original plan was to drain the swamp when you are up to your A** in alligators. It pays to go back and think again. I have found several errors during construction by doing just that. I pulled the original documents and found changes made in the field that would not have worked.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Head Count

The new king of Saudi Arabia is wasting no time in clearing out the prisons. The KSA beheaded a motley crew of 18 murderers, rapists and druggies last month. Their 2 month total is now 35 heads.

In other news, according to Drudge, the Saudi "courts" now want to try Raif Badawi the blogger they sentenced to 1000 lashes, for apostasy. You know, the crime of rejecting your religion. That carries the death penalty. Be thankful that you blog in a free least until they enforce Net Neutrality.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mardi Gras AAR

We survived another Mardi Gras. It's been a slow week at the office. Most schools have the week off and families take advantage of it to either go skiing or to visit Orlando. If you want to go to Orlando, don't schedule it for Mardi Gras week as the place will be full of New Orleans escapees.

Trash is a key indicator of a good Mardi Gras. The city used to publish statistics about the amount of trash generated. It's typically about 150 tons total  or 5 -10 tons every day. By contrast, NYC only generates about 30 tons for New Years Eve. The city hired about 150 temporary workers to help pick it all up. And the city did an excellent job. By the next day, you would not know that a parade had passed by except for the hundreds of beads caught in the trees lining the route.

Despite the extra city services required for garbage and police, Mardi Gras this year was estimated to have a direct economic impact of $145 million to the city. Not to bad for the Greatest Free Show on earth.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Sewers of Paris

Believe it or not, Paris has a sewer museum. It is an actual part of the sewer system and contains a comprehensive history of water and sewage in Paris from the Roman times. They also have a collection of tools used to clean and maintain the sewer system.

If you enjoy engineering history or just something different, this makes for an educational couple of hours.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Parking in Paris

It takes courage to park on the streets of Paris. Nobody leaves anyone else any space to maneuver and you often see cars parked bumper to bumper. Parisians are some of the most expert at parallel parking but sometimes you need to add a little extra protection from those who try to "feel" their way into a parking spot.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Paris Street Iron

This is a Triumph Herald convertable. They were built from 1967 to 1971. They were powered by a 61 HP, 1300cc, 4 cylinder engine. Their claim to fame is that they were designed by the Italian designer, Giovanni Michelotti, who designed most of the sports cars in that era.