Author: Capt. Walkabout

Somewhere in Oklahoma

stevesafetyglassesJanuary 11, 2019      homepage

Many of my readers will be happy to know that I have again found employment in the Seismic Industry – as much out of friendship as of appreciation that I will not be complaining about being unemployed.  I will be somewhere in Oklahoma for a few weeks  A project in Texas is penciled in for later.  The client has rules about posting photos and project information, so I am intentionally vague.  If you are also in Seismic, you can guess who the client is.  The company may have such rules and so they will be referred to as “the Company”.  The photo below is not related to the project or the Company.  (As far as I know, the project does not extend to the sky).  This is an example of  “Sundogs” which is a pair of bright spots of refracted sunlight that illuminate a cloud layer.  This is fairly rare and I have seen it maybe 5 times in as many decades.

sundogs_crop_arrows2

A rainbow, by comparison, is both reflected and refracted and appears in the sky opposite of the sun.

Below (left) in my Personal Protective equipment.  (Yes, I will trim the beard soon) hardhatsteve

My job is driving the fuel truck. Fortunately for me, haz-mat drivers are in demand just now.    I don’t have a lot of spare time, so stay tuned!

Hasta Luego,

Steve

Purgatory

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August 7, 2016

Purgatory

[pur-guh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee]

  1. any condition or place of temporary punishment, suffering, expiation, or the like.

    I am now “on the Yard” at company headquarters.  I have dropped my trailer and been assigned another truck.  This one is a real mystery.  A Kenworth T680 built in November, 2013.  It looks almost new, drives and shifts smoothly and is “clean as a whistle”.  The odometer reads 35,000 miles.  And that would seem impossible.

This truck has been “on the fleet” for two and a half years and should have at least five or six times that mileage.  The Peterbilt is just about that old and it has 385,000 miles. While I am lucky to have such a low mileage vehicle, I can’t help but wonder what the story is behind this machine.  One thing that is completely out of place in this story is the condition of the forward drive axle.  Its tires are nearly at the legal minimum for tread  depth, while its brother’s tires to the rear are almost new.  I have requested that these tires (the baldies, that is) be replaced.

I pull up the Kenworth “across the bow” of the Peterbilt to transfer the refrigerator first and then all my other possessions.  It can’t stay there long, but I don’t need long.  Next I swap the Peterbilt out of the “good” parking spot and put the Kenworth into same.   I drove the Peterbilt over by the garage where I would turn in the keys in the morning.  Then, I collapsed in the Kenworth because what I just described was a lot of work.  Fortunately, the Kenworth has a working Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) that keeps the cabin habitable through the hot Dallas evening.

12946.jpg

Above: 2014 model Kenworth T680 – 12946.  Note the windshield shade with cool-looking beach scene.  It reflects the heat ,  yes.  But more importantly, it marks my truck so I can find it later.  Please see “Tractor Row” below for explanation.

TractorRowDay.jpgAbove:  “Tractor Row” The one with the cool-looking beach scene in the windshield is mine.

CaptainsDesk12946Above:  The Kenworth has a desk that does not look like a piece of plywood.

PurgatoryAbove:  Purgatory’s Backside.  The small building in the foreground has the driver’s lounge where trucker stereotypes are preserved by drivers leaving their empty soda bottles and pizza cartons strewn across the tables and floors while the trash cans in the room remain empty.

In the morning, I have lots to do before I am allowed to leave the Yard.  These activities include safety lectures and dealing with “compliance” (recordkeeping to comply with federal regulations on driving time – it’s complicated).  Then I need my Driver Manager’s approval and that of “Central Clearance” – they check all my registrations and paperwork. I cannot get my truck out the gate without all these items ticked off the list.  And those tires I requested apparently are still being manufactured and will be shipped out by mule train sometime next week.

Fact is, I don’t have a load, yet anyway, so there is nowhere to go.  And, it does not matter anyway because all the people who can provide “approval” for my departure have gone home at noon, today, Saturday.  They will not return until Monday when dozens of other drivers – trapped in Purgatory with me – will compete to get their clearance.  So, another two days (minimum) of no income. This has become a recurring theme in the “high-paying-job-as-a-professional-truck-driver”.

Farewell 12573 – We Hardly Knew Ye!

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August 5, 2016       Garland, Texas     homepage


I am reminded that today is Christmas Day

                    So, Please also have a look at this Christmas Classic

I have been instructed to report to the “Yard” in Dallas and turn in my truck.  It has apparently been sold.    I asked how long it might take  to get a new truck.  The answer was “Depends”.  I should have replied, “No, Fruit of the Loom – briefs” but my comedic reflexes are slow these days.

The last time I was issued a truck, I expected a worst case scenario.  Specifically, since I had driven and was familiar with Kenworths and Freightliners in training, that I would be issued a Peterbilt.  Good instincts, as it turns out.  The clutch gave me trouble from the start, with what is called “clutch chatter”.  Not severe and the only other Peterbilt I had driven (only for a half hour or so) had the same problem. In any case, the clutch was a body-builder tool and I was soon walking with a limp because of all the excess muscle in my left leg.  Not a big problem, until it was a big problem.

The last episode of mechanical adversity cost me ten days of poverty.  The company pays an insulting $25 per day for breakdowns after the first two days.  The company wanted to nickel-and-dime the hotel. I would have to call and get authorization every day.  We tried that on check-in and they refused the company card so  I covered the hotel with my own credit card and expensed it back to avoid looking like a deadbeat every afternoon.   They have at least reimbursed me for that.  They tend to treat drivers as people with no financial means whatsoever.  That is probably appropriate considering the level of remuneration.

One wonders what delays are in store for the next truck.

12573Anon

Above is the Peterbilt in question as we “sit in a door” in Garland, Texas.  The “lumpers” unload for hours while the driver kills time…taking photos, say.  This receiver was mercifully quick and I left no more than three hours after arrival.  From here I go to the “Yard”…Company Headquarters.  There, to put the old mare out to pasture (tractors are female and trailers, male by virtue of their “connecting equipment”).

Twenty Mules

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September 12, 2016, Tyson Plant, Wadron, Arkansas

After the delivery at Clarksville, I headed for the closest truck stop on I-40, to wait for a new load assignment.  This was another of those “pocket” stations where parking for 20 rigs is jammed in behind the fuel island.  Both that parking and the surrounding streets were full, so I looked up rest stops and found one on I 40, not far away, with “Room at the Inn”.In a Homer Simpson moment I realized I had not sent my “Empty at Destination” message.  No load assignment will happen before that.  Once that was done, the message came within seconds – obviously set up in advance.  My load picks up in Waldron, Arkansas.  This place was about an hour and a half away, down US-23, a winding, up-and-down two-lane blacktop with no shoulders.  It would make a great motorcycle trip.  It makes a big-truck trip where paying attention is a survival trait.

Frozen chicken is the new cargo.  It started out looking like a  24 hour ordeal of drop the empty trailer one morning and hook a loaded trailer the next.  I had all day to drop, but why wait?  I got in the gate before 8 AM and found the office with some guidance from a helpful employee.  These guys all wear warm, long-sleeve jumpsuits, steel-toe boots and carry mittens.  They keep the warehouse cold since this is frozen chicken they load.

The guys in shipping told me to back into door #4.  Apparently this would be a live load!  So, I don’t ask questions, I just get to the truck and look for the door.  It is in an inside corner, with a trailer parked sideways on the approach, a really big tank, a dumpster and a trash compactor in front.  About 45 minutes were needed to get this one done.  I got some pictures, but photography is not allowed in the plant, so don’t tell anyone.

chickendoor4a
Figure 1

Above:  In this view, doors one, two and three are to the left, door five to the right – all occupied with dropped trailers.  That dumpster on the right comes in to the story later.

ChickenDoor4BRotate
Figure 2

Plan A:Pulling in from stage right, (figure one) until the tank was looming in the windshield, backing the trailer in while folding the drivers-side of the tractor into the trailer.  That backed the trailer into yellow post at the corner.

Above:  Plan B was to pull over  in front of the trailers, (stage left in figure 2) (PRIME inc., etcetera) and back around the parked trailer (whose taillights you see) into the door.  To quote Chico Marx, “Dat’s a-no good, too”.  Plan C: Drive out and to the left and find a place to swap ends with the entire rig.  Where? – Back in beside the last visible trailer (there is a sign there that says, “Don’t even think of parking here. ” Who’s parking?)  Then pull past taillight trailer and the trailers (no tractors) in doors one, two and three, swing wide and put the tractor in the space between the compactor and the dumpster, seen in the previous photo.  Then reverse into door #4. That worked.

September 14, 2016 7 PM, Loves Truck Stop at Williams, AZ

While waiting (and not long) for the load to be put on board, I worked on the trip plan.  If I can get  a couple of hundred miles behind me it will take the distance off of the final run to delivery, in three days’ time.  The problem is not drive time, but all the waiting at first receiver, then shipper has again worn down the 14 hours and I must get on the road asap/

My trip plan is only roughed out when the loading is finished and so I submit Oklahoma City as the target for the day and promise the Driver Manager (DM) that I’ll finish the plan later. It is a matter of driving as far as practical and finding a place to stop for ten hours (A “Ten”). I soon see that OKC is out of reach and I have looked up the exit numbers of the truck stops and rest areas. A rest area near Henryetta wins the stop and, now committed, I see as I pull in a sign that says “No Facilities”.  OK, it does beat the Ad Hoc  Truck Stop (#1) since I knew it was there before arriving.  At Three PM, mine is the only truck parked.  By the time I roll at Two AM, there are a few dozen, but it is a big area, since there is no room taken up by restrooms, water fountains or vending machines.

We have established that the best plan is to start in the “wee, small hours”  between midnight and four AM.  By the time my day is done, the parking at truck stops and rest areas are mostly vacant.  This works well, but sometimes clashes with afternoon delivery appointments.

Below is a photo of a sandstone formation at a rest area somewhere in New Mexico. I know at least a few of my readers have a Geology background.  So, would one or the other please enlighten me as to how these rocks were weathered like this?

sandstoneweathering2

Above: Cubbyholes in the sandstone.

The second leg is to Albuquerque where I am directed to fuel up, but that is out of reach and Santa Rosa, New Mexico fits the bill for a Ten   A few hours out I begin noticing the outside rear tire on the trailer looks a little flat.  That is the furthest from the driver and it is supported by the other tire, so it’s hard to say.  But, I pull into the tire check lane and the Loves’ tire tech checks the pressure with a set of eighteen hoses that attach to all the tires at once.  Meanwhile, I put in just more than 50 gallons (qualifying for a shower credit) because the annoying red light and a dashboard message that won’t let me see my digital speedometer tell me that fuel is low.

Sure enough, that tire is at 29 pounds (should be 100).  Without the other tire in the dual, it would be flat as a pancake.  I wind up “in the shop”. The trailer is, anyway. The tractor is outside the shop  and far from the work zone where the tech is finding the leak, so it’s just one more parking place to me.  The usual truck stop routine is in force – eat, shower and sleep.  By the time the first two are done, the tech shows me the nail my tire picked up and I sign off and move the truck to normal parking (still with lots of vacancies) and sleep.

I did fuel up in Albuquerque .before dawn and there was a beautiful overlook of the city on the way out of the depot.  I tried to grab a couple of picture at the stop light, but both came out blurred.  I will look for another photography solution.  (Anybody with Go-Pro camera experience?  Please let me hear from you).  I was short-clocked by the 8 day rules to only 9 hours and change today (14th) and only made Williams, AZ instead of Kingman, which was the target.  I can still make the final on time, but it will be a three hour trip that morning instead of a half hour hop.  It pays to stay flexible and put the fat in the schedule at the end of the trip.

I passed the “divide” of Arizona at 7337 feet of altitude and wind picked up during the day.  Williams is West of Flagstaff and on the turn-off to the Grand Canyon.  This is a good example of the fallacy of the “see America” aspect of this job.  With the Grand Canyon mere miles away, I saw the truck stop.  The sky was tinted red with dust at sunset and the temperature was 48° F in the morning (September 15, 1 AM, local).

September 15, 2016  5 PM, Loves Truck Stop at Tulare, California

At the border, there is an inspection station.  They are more concerned with what I am carrying, not its weight.  I hand over the Bill of Lading (BOL) and tell the guy, it’s frozen chicken.  He says, “I know you guys carry either that that or frozen beef.  I tell him (briefly) about the frozen fish.  I don’t bring up bananas, since it might occur to him to look for fruit flies.  There is an old joke that goes, “Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana.”.  He wishes me a safe trip and I am back on the highway.

California is a ten percent pay cut, since the speed limit is everywhere 55 Mile per hour.  Not to worry, though because I can make up for it by driving more hours.  The cars can all go 70 still and they probably curse us in our trucks when there is no passing lane.  Hey, they  voted for the dufusses who made the speed limit!

My next fuel stop is programmed for Boron, CA.

Boron is a chemical element with symbol B and atomic number 5. Produced entirely by cosmic ray spallation and supernovaeand not by stellar nucleosynthesis, it is a low-abundance element in the Solar system and in the Earth’s crust.[12] Boron is concentrated on Earth by the water-solubility of its more common naturally occurring compounds, the borate minerals. These are mined industrially as evaporites, such as borax and kernite.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boron

That definition mentions in passing that Boron is made by exploding stars.  It is a little appreciated fact (except by Astronomy Degree holders – Guilty, Your Honor) that all elements except Hydrogen (and -according to some –  a small quantity of Helium , with a trace of Lithium) are manufactured by Nuclear Fusion.  So, a great deal of what makes up your body was once inside a Star, somewhat like the Sun.  Boron requires Stars that explode and fortunately for us, our Sun is too small for that.  So, Boron comes from other Stars or bombardment of cosmic rays – which is even weirder when you know where cosmic rays come from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_ray

But I digress (like way!).  The town’s name comes from the local Borax Industry:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borax

You may remember the Brand Name “Twenty Mule Team Borax” which is mentioned in the above link.  However, unless you are Cretaceous, like myself, you won’t remember the 1950’s television series “Death Valley Days” that was sponsored by Twenty Mule Team Products and hosted by a very young actor in Western costume.  His name was Ronald Reagan.  More digression – but this time locally influenced.

I had called this truck stop from Arkansas two days ago, to ask if they could order replacements for my windshield wiper blades.  I had no luck finding the right parts in truck stops over many states.  The guy assured me they were in stock and I found them there.  As planned, I continued for three more hours to get here to Tulare.  This sets me up for a three hour drive to the Final in the morning.  I had some time left and could have driven to a rest stop 24 miles further on, but the prospect of a shower was too much to pass up.  Upon arriving, I realized that the last Loves shower credit – the one I earned in Santa Rosa – I had used up in Williams.  I still had “clock” and could have continued to the rest area.  But, it could be closed or over-crowded and that would force me back here anyway.  That scenario would have cost me an hour of drive time tomorrow (due to the eight-day problem) so I  stayed.  I know I promised to lay off the “drive clock” subject, but it keeps cropping up in the day-to-day events.

September 16, 2016, 7:20 AM PDT, Winco Distribution Center, Modesto, California

So far, I like this place.  They give you a map and directions and send you to pull-through (i.e., easy) parking to await your appointment.  Then off to a door and walk your papers into the office.  I have called the local Walmart Supercenter (about 5 miles away) and received permission to park while shopping.  After that, I will go to a nearby Pilot (16 miles – where I have 5 shower credits) and take a 34 hour break which will reset my 70 hour 8 day situation.  That should stop this running short on drive time.  I’m hoping this will set me up for a long trip, but there are no guarantees.

11:11 AM PDT

I have now completed all my paperwork for this trip, save the Lumper receipt which they will bring me when I am released.  I’ve also cleaned up my email inbox, replied to some messages and written this bit of prose for y’all.  The door light has been green for over an hour and still I have no clearance after three hours and 11 minutes from my appointment (for which I was timely).  Can you guess if “detention pay” is in force with this receiver?

Trip Complete. On to Wal-Mart

Over The Road,

Steve

Under Sail Once More – Westward Bound

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August 4, 2016 – Canton,  Texas  (Transplanted from WordPress page)

Despite the massive incompetence that passes for management in the Walmart distribution center in Johnstown in upstate New York, the gate guards and  receiving staff were most polite and helpful. It just goes to show you that places are often remembered for their least admirable details.  Another New York example of that phenomenon  is their Arrogant Senator, the lower case chuck schumer.

When finally it came, it had been a “live” unloading, which means that I hung around while they unloaded the trailer I had brought.  First, they assign you a door and hand you a pager.  You are then expected to back the trailer into the door and wait for the cargo to be unloaded.  There is a mechanical arm that grabs the bumper of your trailer, in addition to wheel chocks and the trailer brakes that prevent you from moving while the forklifts run in and out the trailer carrying pallets of meat.  These precautions were not apparently enough to assuage the misgivings of Safety, so we are required to disconnect the tractor from the trailer and a receiving foremen locks out the trailer air hose connector as well.  The subject of airbrakes could make an entire post and I’ll put that on the list.


Besides all that, there is a red light flashing by the door, visible in your driver-side mirror that prohibits you from moving anything.   When the light turns green, we ain’t done yet! You have to wait until the pager explodes with flashing blue neon lights and go to the receiving window to get the paperwork.  All this may take four or five hours.  Some shippers and receivers have no concern whatsoever for the fact that drivers are paid by the mile and sitting in a door is a zero mileage trip.

By contrast, the next load I delivered was to Golden State Foods in Garner, NC.  There, I was admitted within 10 minutes of arrival.  I had only to back the trailer into a cargo door (no  need even to open the trailer doors), disconnect from (drop) that trailer and hook up to the trailer in the next door…and leave.  The whole thing took less than an hour.  See, New York?

Fortunately, the next load was only 37 miles away.  Unfortunately, the appointment to pick up was the next morning at 1 PM.  However, they give themselves until 11 PM to actually come across with the load. twenty eight hours away in time.  You can bet that it will happen within a half hour of that last deadline.  Here at Clayton, NC,  they will waste your time, but they will also give you a place to park and wait, on site (unlike Walmart, NY).   I took that load of meat to Texas in two full days of travel totaling over 1100 miles.   Now I sit in a truck stop at Canton, Texas for about 18 hours, in order to arrive in Garland, Texas at the proper time tomorrow.  I could have stopped further out, but then I risk being late for some accident or traffic jam.  The Federal regulations and the company’s speed limits have made this job a game of “Hurry Up and Wait”.

The First Mate was in Dallas with youngest son for University “camp” and she drove out to see me.  We took some photos. 

Definition:  First Mate – an officer on a ship , second in rank only to the  Captain  and responsible for the security of both Captain and Vessel.

CaptainAtTheHelm

Above: The Captain at the Helm

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 The First Mate

Katy Christmas Market-Dec 1

One, Two, Three, Etc. is an arts and craft company in Houston that offers Peruvian  jewelry, ornaments and accessories.  Coming soon to the  Ninth Annual Katy Old-Fashioned Christmas Festival 10 AM – 5 PM Saturday . Scroll down for a map.

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See the facebook page  for One, Two, Three, Etc.   ______________________ Proprietor Maria is also a Dream Vacations travel agent.


Find One, Two, Three, Etc. at Booth 90 on Avenue C, between Second and Third Streets

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Richmond

I am moving posts from the old WordPress site to Goingwalkabout.blog.  Please excuse the apparent anachronisms.

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August 1, 2016

Richmond, Virginia

Several of you have suggested that I need to post more photos and I agree.  Now that I am a solo driver, it is difficult for me to take photos while driving. I must keep my eyes on the road and I can snap un-aimed photos out the window – about one in ten are worth looking at.  So, mostly I will concentrate on photos while parked.  And where better to start than what is outside right now.

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Above:  The view from the “Captain’s Cabin”.

This is the vista that greets me this morning.  I am at a Pilot Truck Stop to the South of Richmond Virginia.  My truck is backed into a row of trucks that looks out on to the fuel isles.  From left to right, top to bottom:  The white truck over there would normally be hustled off by the  manager for blocking the Scales.  The reason he has not been is just barely visible as a Safety Ribbon indicating that the scales are currently out of order.  As I mentioned before, these scales are used by the majority of drivers to check their legality.  You might think that shippers would assure this, but you would be mistaken.  The driver is alone responsible for legal road weight.

The scale measures weights by the axle (or tandem).  The “ticket” received has four numbers that tell the driver all he needs to know. I’ll post a photo of same. The black rectangle at lower left covers my company’s name.  We won’t talk about them, yet.

ScaleTicket.jpg

The first weight is the front wheels that steer the truck.  Those are allowed to carry 12,000 pounds.  The next number is the weight of the drive axles – that is the cluster of eight wheels directly behind the driver that move the truck.  They, together, are allowed 34,000 pounds of weight.  As you see, I came in exactly on the limit and I’ll be buying a lottery ticket today.  The next number is the weight on the trailer wheels and that is also limited to 34,000 pounds.  What I did after this was to slide the trailer wheels forward to balance the load, overshooting by a hundred or two. After that, I put some more fuel in the tractor, so the two should be as close to balanced as makes no difference.  The last number is the combination total and that may be as much as 80,000 pounds.  For reference, a passenger car may weight about 2000 or 3000 pounds.  This is the Major Leagues, people!

 

Back to the view above.  The fuel stations each have two diesel pumps because the trucks all have a  fuel tank on each side.  They are filled simultaneously.  It is necessary for me to also pull up about 20 feet after fueling the tractor and fuel the trailer tank that feeds the refrigeration unit.  Obviously, that must be independent of the tractor, since these trailers may spend much time alone, waiting for transport.  When the place is busy, the trucks line up behind one another and ettiquete demands that when you are through fueling, you pull up and leave room for the next guy before you go in for your receipt and coffee, etc.  This has the effect of creating parking across from the fuel bays that has a long, easy backing situation for drivers who do not excel at backing (i.e., your humble narrator).

In the cab, you see (left) the curtain which, with its  mate on the right, closes for Captain’s privacy.  Then the Driver’s chair (very comfortable) and the steering wheel.  Next the instrument panel (I know what almost all of those do).  Above that is the satellite communication and navigation unit.  This is the source of the computer voice “Jill” who tells me where to go.  Below the panel is the transmission shifter (Nine forward gears and two reverse).  Right of that is the Captain’s Office.  It only looks like a piece of plywood with a laptop on it.  I am seated there now, writing this.  Both seats have armrests as you see on the Office chair.  The plastic bag in the foreground, right is the ship’s bakery, with a loaf of whole wheat bread.

I need to be rolling soon.

Over the Road,

Steve

Energy Corridor Farmers’ Market

For Saturday November 24:       

One, Two, Three, Etc. is an arts and craft company in Houston that offers Peruvian  jewelry, ornaments and accessories at local Craft Shows and Farmers’ Markets.

SteveTrucker2  Homepage   DreamVacations   Portfolio

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Proprietor Maria is also a Dream Vacations travel agent.    Saturday, November 24 will find the company’s booth  at the Energy Corridor Farmers’ Market   (E.C.F.M.) at 14710 Grisby Rd.,  Houston, TX 77079 near Highway 6 and the Katy (I-10) Freeway.  Please see the map below.     Drop by and have a look, after Nine AM.

 

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In Irons

I am moving posts from the previous WordPress site to Goingwalkabout.blog – please excuse any apparent anachronisms.

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July 29, 2016

Fonda, New York  (We decided it was named for Henry, not Jane)

The phrase “in irons” is used in sailing.  I had a sailboat once.  Actually, I had two.  The first was an 18 foot boat on a trailer that would not fit in the garage.  I spent a lot of time, effort and money on this boat and got a few hours of pleasure out of it.  It would have been far cheaper and far less trouble to rent a boat every few months for a few hours of sailing.  Unless you live on a lake where you could leave the boat in the water and unless you are comfortably retired and can spend some time actually sailing, I would advise you to do the same.

The far better solution for wannabe sailors is to have a friend with a boat.  That way you can make day trips on a sailboat or maybe even spend a weekend, sleeping in the tiny little guest bunk, while the owner enjoys the Captain’s cabin.  He’s entitled to the luxury, of course since he has to pay for and maintain this white elephant.  I had a friend with a boat and it was a bit of fun. He was dating my wife’s friend and the four of us spent a few days hanging around the boat in dock and we made a day trip on Galveston Bay… before  Hurricane Ike.  With the insurance money, he bought an apartment on the Seawall in Galveston.  Notice he did not buy another sailboat.  He learned his lesson and went looking for a friend with a boat, as well.

Where was I?  Oh yes  – “in irons”.   As you may know, sailboats can “sail close to the wind” by tacking – actually moving opposite to the wind direction at about a 45 degree angle.   By reversing in a zig-zag fashion, the boat can move upwind.  After the “zig” the sailor will turn by 90 degrees and the boat will turn to swing around and, having passed directly into the wind and then, carried by momentum , it will “come about” and the wind will fill the sail on the opposite side (the zag).

If, however, the helmsman is slow off the mark and does not pull off this maneuver sharply, the boat can wind up pointed directly into the wind, having lost all momentum.  Steering is now useless, because there is no moving water for the rudder to bear against and turn the boat further.  The boat is now “in irons” and will slowly begin to be pushed backward, losing the progress made by tacking.  It is something that is difficult to remedy.  Much progress can be lost.  At the end of this post, I will tell you the secret to getting “out” of “in irons”.

Now, I went through all that to describe why I am where I am now.  I am learning that shipping industry has participants that demonstrate the worst qualities of humanity.  They are hostile and vindictive.  They are petty and arbitrary.  They can be that way because they represent a lot of business to the freight companies.  The freight companies will put up with this abuse for the business.  Or, rather I should say, they will allow their drivers to be abused for that reason.

This cannot be assigned to companies in general, it has more to do with particular installations.  I arrived early at this particular receiver and was turned away because that is what they do.  Now, I have to go park at a truck stop and wait.  Unfortunately, the Federal Regulations say I have to stop driving before I  will be welcome at the receiver.  So I try to arrange a new time.  The management at this installation prefers not to do that, but to sarcastically call me a “no-show”.

So, I terminated that conversation and reported as “late” (while I was still early) and requested a “repower” on the satellite communication unit.  A repower is where someone could come and get my load and take it to the installation on time.  That did not  work and that is understandable, because there are only so many trucks in the company and besides, they operate with a skeleton crew at night and things seldom happen then.  So, finally, “dispatch” tells me to go in the morning to the same gate.  When I arrive, the gate guard makes a call and sure enough they can use this shipment to put meat on the shelves on the weekend.  So they assign a door for unloading.  But…one last check shows that the order has been cancelled.  I guess it is more important for the management to punish a driver for being early than to put product on the shelves for the weekend.

So, I am “in irons”  making no progress and no money for at least 19 hours more.  I took this opportunity to scan in my trip sheet with the previous load (with 8 days of hotel expenses – you can’t sleep in the truck while it is in the shop) so that some money will actually come in next week.  Breakdown pay is only $25 per day, so that is welcome.

I also  taped up the frayed and bared cable on the satellite radio/computer that sends assignments, swept out the truck, made some instant chicken soup and cleaned all the glass and mirrors very well (yes, I remembered Dad).

And then, of course, I wrote this for y’all.

Oh, wait!  How to get “out” of “in irons”

To review, you are in your sailboat which is pointed directly into the wind.  You are making no progress and in fact are beginning to drift backward.  What you need to do is go and push the boom.  That is the horizontal pole at the bottom of the sail.

Someone asked me once why they call it the boom.  Well, what you were trying to do when you got ”in irons” was called “coming about”  you were going from zig to zag by passing through an attitude directly into the wind by momentum, carrying over to tack on the other side.  The other way to turn is downwind.  Your sail will be on one side of the boat, going downwind and when you turn through the direct-downwind direction, the sail will suddenly go from one side to the other.  Now, that pole at the bottom of the sail will whip from one side to the other very suddenly. This is called making a “jibe”. The pole, generally speaking is right about at head level for people riding in the boat.  So the “boom” is named for the sound it makes when it collides with your skull.  This is called “onomatopoeia” where words are made directly from sounds.  Other examples of this are “wham” and “hiss”.

By the way, there is usually a rope-and-pulley system between the boom and the base of the mast to cinch the boom down tightly and make better speed.  It is called the “boomvang”.  Once, back in my Geophysicist Days, there was a seismic project called “Boomvang” and nobody else in the  company knew what the heck that meant.

Where was I?

The boom…to get out of “in irons”  you go and push the boom to one side to “back wind”.  That pushes your boat backward.  At the same time, you put the rudder over to the other side, which turns the boat until wind can again fill the sail and you can tack once more on the “zag”.  This is easy on a small boat or on a big one when you have a crewman.  Otherwise, it requires agility and creativity.

In Irons,

Steve

P.S.  I never did say who the small-minded, hostile staff of this upstate New York hell-hole worked for.  It rhymes with “Small Fart”.

Ad Hoc Programming

Seismic processing in remote locations can be an exercise in improvisation.  Likewise, when a system update leaves the office without vital software while IT scrambles to reverse the damage.  After the first few times, it became necessary to write my own utilities for plotting, geometry application, binning, etc.  Programming Action Request response time was measured in years.  We were told not to “Program”. Programs are compiled.  These were “Macros” that are “interpreted”. So, no problem, right?  I mention this in the Resume, but I don’t think you all are getting the idea.  Hence this graphic presentation.

The graphic below is the Excel “Control Panel” for a Seismic trace plotting utility.  There is a background Visual Basic language that puts code behind those command buttons. The spreadsheet acts as the parameter input and status output. Samples are read from the binary SEG-Y standard format and written to a bitmap file. There are many gain and plot color options.

SGY1BMP_Picture

Next is the plot generated by this utility of a United States Geological Survey  stacked section of a seismic  line (5688 traces) collected offshore of New England in 1978.  This is public domain and can be downloaded at the USGS website.

Line32-1978-015-FA-SE-001-39SECTION_RB.png
This was written all by top-down principles “from scratch”.  The header was “built” from USGS metadata and pasted in with MS Paint.

The following utility reads the SEG-Y trace headers and populates a spreadsheet with the information.  The values can be altered with header math or cut-and-paste.  Then the data are written back to the headers to assign geometry.

SEGY_Table_Picture
This one evolved over years as an extremely useful tool.  I wrote this from scratch, as well.

Below is the Control Panel for a Fourier Analysis tool to plot an amplitude spectrum.  This was originally for source signatures, so it has maximum and bubble picks, with P/B ratio calculations. again straight from the SEG-Y dataset.  I did look up an algorithm for this, but the VB coding was all my own.  I calibrated by comparing to MASOMO plots – Source Modeling Nerds will understand that. 😉  The trace analyzed here came from that same USGS section plotted above.

FourierAnalysisControlPanel

Below is the amplitude spectrum and a detail plot of the trace itself.  Both appear on another page of the spreadsheet when the “Execute” button is pressed.  This one makes use of the Excel chart generation tools.

FourierAnalysisFrequency

FourierAnalysisWavelet

I wrote a binning application that reads P190 multi-streamer navigation files and writes a holoSeis dataset with full, near, nearmid, farmid and far offset coverage planes. I modified it to handle multi-boat surveys – before PGS managed that trick. 

I wrote one that reads a SEG-Y trace and writes a WAV file. The original 12 second record is mostly below audible range, so I tripled the frequency.  The result is the 4 second recording with some distortion at the initial reflection off the seafloor (d/t mp3 conversion).  It is still barely in audible range and headphones are required unless you have a system with good low response.