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.
I am moving posts from the old WordPress site to Goingwalkabout.blog. Please excuse the apparent anachronisms.
August 1, 2016
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
I am moving posts from the previous WordPress site to Goingwalkabout.blog – please excuse any apparent anachronisms.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rest Area Interstate 84, exit 188, Hermiston, Oregon, December 16, 2016
I passed this rest area just before the exit to my assigned fuel stop. When I got to the truck Stop, there was a line of trucks backed up on the ramp up to the fuel islands, The road was gravel with frozen slush and trucks were slipping around like so many novice ice skaters. A rig coming out stopped and the driver put down his window, as I did in response. He tells me to avoid the place unless I need fuel. I did need fuel of course. I am instructed to buy fuel here and there is no escape, but I thanked him for trying. To say this did not bode well is to belabor the obvious. Why did he stop to speak to me specifically, ignoring the others in line? I can only guess that he was once a driver for The Company, like myself.
When the column of trucks moved forward, my wheels slipped. I had locked the differential and so had all eight drive wheels spinning. Fortunately, no one was yet behind me. I let the whole rig slide back a bit and then steered off the frozen slush ruts to newer snow, a trick I had just recently learned while walking to rest area bathrooms. That made some forward progress possible.
Most of my readers are unfamiliar with icy sidewalks, so while I am on the subject of walking on ice, it also pays to take small steps, keep your hands free to wave around for balance and don’t let anyone rush you. I was exiting the commuter train station in Oslo, Norway once (I worked for a Norwegian company, then). All the locals were in a hurry to get somewhere and I was swept up in the crowd. I made a faux pas (French for “stupid mistake” – I never learned Norwegian) and I slipped on that invisible trap they call black ice. I landed on the back of my head. Lucky it wasn’t some important part. It must have looked bad because a woman screamed. I told my coworkers about it and for the rest of the week, they watched me for demented behavior – more than usual, that is.
The fuel islands were chaos. The truck ahead of me could not gain traction and he finally threw his tire chains under his wheels to make it to the pumps. He wasn’t the first one to try that. When I got to the pumps, I found some poor miscreant’s set of tire chains frozen in the ice. I managed to fuel the tractor and pull up past the islands, to find what military men call a Charlie Foxtrot. As I am sure I have mentioned before, this is a mnemonic phrase for an abbreviation of a “colorful” (obscene) expression for a massively confused and disorganized collection of human activity. I did not take any pictures, because no one likes to be recorded in their misery and because I was busy struggling to get by, myself.
After fueling there was a bottleneck to exit where six lanes converge to one and trucks attempting to park are sliding around blocking the way. Forty five minutes later, I was back on the entrance ramp, but exiting. I wanted to warn the poor fool I saw entering, but I was in no mood to stop. So, I just made the sigh of the cross at him (May God bless you, my son). He was probably wondering what I was trying to tell him. I am sure it occurred to him a bit later. 😉
There might have been a space I could have snagged by blocking the flow, but I wanted out of there. Dante’s Inferno includes a section of Hell where sinners are imbedded in a frozen icy plane and this was beginning to resemble same.
I intentionally reversed my course (a trucker taboo) on the Interstate, found an overpass and returned to this rest area that I passed before. There were two other trucks with three spaces between them. I pulled into the center one.
Above: The serenity of the Rest Area contrasts with the Dante’s Inferno of the Frozen Truck Stop
I promised Montana pictures and I have not forgotten. Events accumulate quickly in this Walkabout and I struggle to keep up. Things worthy of notice happen while I am remembering events of days past. Hence, this method of the standard font when remembering and the italics to describe what is happening in the moment. If it confuses you, imagine how I feel! About half the time, I can’t say what State I am in (other than that State of Confusion).
I am a bit like Columbus. He did not know where he was going, didn’t know where he was when he got there and didn’t know where he had been when he got back.
The Moon over Montana, setting just before the sun rises behind me.
Arriving at those distant mountains seen before. The sky brightens with the dawn
Gnarly mountains garnished with fresh snow
An outcropping of rock too steep for trees interrupts the forest.
A river crossing. Please excuse the dirty windshield. Some of the most impressive views are not available for photography since bridges and the winding mountain pass roads require two-handed attention. This one was an “easy bridge”. I remind the readers that the walls at the edges of bridges and scenic steep drop-offs are about three feet tall. That would stop a passenger car from careening over the edge. But, my Decaton cargo is stacked on a trailer floor that starts at about three feet above the ground and continues to a height approaching fourteen feet. It would easily careen over the wall and into a river or over a thousand foot cliff. The wall, in fact would only insure that the rig would tumble into the abyss, rather than merely plunge into same. Therefore, I must admit that many of the most stunning vistas pass unphotographed while I strangle the steering wheel with both hands!
Through a National Forest.
The river shares the valley with the highway.
A snow covered rest area somewhere in the middle. I should make notes of where these pictures are taken. So quickly pass the miles and the vivid scenery that time and place are soon forgotten.
A Study in Contrast. Very black cows on very white snow (this photo has run away – I will try to find it and force it back here – life is hard for photos;-)
Moonshine on the snow illuminates the landscape in a soft and eerie blue light. I am not sure what caused that streak, just left of center. I am sure it is not a comet, because I’ve seen a few.
Out of the mountain pass into a valley. The photos just do not convey the majesty of the vista that reveals itself to me as I descend. It was far more breathtaking than what you see here. I guess you just have to be there in person to get the full impact. You may begin to understand what drives me to travel.
The mountains loom over me as I glance (keeping eyes mostly on the road) up at them. I am only half-joking when I say that I could have sold tickets for the trip I made across Big Sky Country. The photos may hint at that awesome beauty, but far more vivid images remain only in my memory. This is a sign for Exit Zero, at the Western end of Montana.
Over The Road
Your Humble Narrator is not on his normal literary “turf” and hastens to get back to more light-hearted prose. He hopes his loyal readers will excuse this short tour past the “dark side”. The story may be found at AmericanThinker.com. Click the link below the next paragraph.
This story has haunted me since I was a student at UT Austin. The “incident” happened some years before I arrived, but it still hung over the campus like the shadow of a certain Clock Tower. It was brought to the forefront of my conscience in 2006 in a Texas Monthly article on the 40th anniversary. From that and what I already knew, there seemed to be some lessons that we had not taken to heart. The idea incubated in my scatter-brain mind for the next 12 years…
Steven B. Campbell Return to Cover Letter
Some time ago, I took an assignment in Venezuela. The position involved on-site data processing at the field location – a leading-edge innovation at the time. From the start, I was involved in marketing, promoting and convincing clients that they wanted data processing in the field. This had the side effect of a higher level of quality control which promoted our position in acquisition contracts. The software was called MicroMAX. I demonstrated and promoted its use in the field on the several crew in Venezuela and trained client personnel (Maraven) along with Western operators who went on to successful contracts for field processing on many crews in South America.
Much of the training and marketing was carried out in Spanish, as one might expect. The projects were on the northern slope of the Andean mountain range as it passes to the South of Lake Maracaibo. After a year there, we were transferred to Eastern Venezuela near Maturin. There, we participated in one of the first 3D Projects in South America. We developed 3D quality control procedures that positioned us for more and better 3D contracts. Later, we continued with the same sort of marketing and promotion in Bolivia.
At Grant Geophysical, we promoted the use of MicroMAX and other QC and field processing software. Myself and my colleagues there were instrumental in the development of MESA and OMNI survey design packages. We also promoted and marketed products like ProMAX, EDS Verify and Census, in the US, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.
At Petroleum Geo Services, as a part of the Geophysical Support Group, I marketed their seismic source modeling package MASOMO which is unparalleled in accurate modeling and backed up by exhaustive field testing. In later years, I was the “go-to” expert on MASMO and marketed the package and instructed operators of other contractors (CGG for example) and major oil companies (ExxonMobil,e.g.). I was also frequently called upon to demonstrate data to clients (Anadarko, for example) using the PGS 3D visualization package called holoSeis. We also marketed and executed feasibility and design studies to major clients (PEMEX, Woodside, e.g.).
While others might have ”closed the deals”, my work in promotion, marketing and instruction was crucial in making the sales of software and services, for well over twenty years.
Steve Campbell Return to Cover Letter
You will see the skyline of Chicago – a once mighty city – often referred to as the “Second City” because its population that was second only to New York.
“Second City” – soon to be Fourth.
Los Angeles passed up Chicago as “Second City” a while back, Houston will pass it up as Third in the next census or soon after. The “Windy City” (so named for its politicians, not its weather) is being abandoned as was Detroit. Higher taxes, raging crime and corrupt politicians chased out businesses and taxpayers who could afford to leave. The pols then raised taxes again to compensate and the spiral continues. Illinois residents are furious with Chicago for breaking the State’s budget. There was talk of abolishing the State of Illinois and parcelling it out to the surrounding states. I don’t have a dog in this hunt, but if I was – for example – an Indiana Resident, I’d tell my representatives, “No way you are going to pawn off Illinois debt on me!”
Driving in this city with an 18 wheeler is ain’t no picnic neither. Anyone who says different is a masochist who loves to be abused. The same goes for Los Angeles and New York. Houston and Dallas are merely frustrating and confusing because the Jill, the Navigation Computer has no clue about recent construction and thinks you are on the surface streets when you are actually on the expanded freeway. She keeps urging you to turn left and take the on ramp – until out of desperation you move to the older left-hand lanes. Then she will shut up and recognize the Interstate again.
Could be Texas or Kansas or Tennessee, for that matter. Crop dusters are seen all over the farmland of America. I suspect the pilots love their jobs since they can fly aerobatics all the time. Your average airline pilots must envy them.
My Uncle (father’s older brother) was a pilot for the duration of World War Two and Korea. He started the first aerial crop dusting operation in Texas after that. It had to be a great pleasure for him to maneuver like what you see here since he had flown great lumbering B-17’s in Europe and B-29’s in the Pacific theater. There is a very good story about my Uncle flying Dad around in a piper cub. Stay tuned.
Mountains are a majestic presence that reduce the grim drudgery of driving to irrelevance. They rise up out of the plains and grow slowly in the distance until, suddenly the near-infinite horizon has shortened into a winding, ascent through a labyrinth of rocky facades.
The Earth rises around to blot out the sky. Geology surrounds and penetrates the mood. But while beauty dominates the view, the meandering highway demands respect – and vigilant attention. The tranquil excursion across the plains is left far behind and a new paradigm – ever-changing in direction and elevation – absorbs the traveler’s reality.
Out of thin air, an equally majestic skyscape.
Cold fronts in Kansas are visible from many miles away, bisecting the sky. North Texas produces some menacing dark, churning clouds that bring hail and threaten with funnel clouds. I have some photos of that, but they evade detection.
This image I titled “Weird Clouds in Nebraska”.
I know my readers are tired of hearing this: As often happens, the photos do not do justice to the eye-witnessed scene.
A frozen reservoir. But for that thin blue streak, ice and sky would be indistinguishable. This is from a “scenic pull-out” and lucky for me, the “no trucks” sign did not appear.
Utah. The “cap rocks” are harder than the underlying rock layers, which are gradually washed away in the rare showers or blown off by persistent winds to create these copious pillars.
A ridge – from the road it looks like limestone – harbors the only trees within the horizon. The phenomenon, when mostly vertical it is called a “dyke” and when horizontal, a “sill”. I suspect it is also an aquifer that carries water to the surface – hence the trees.
A detour in Arizona sent me through this corridor, near Prescott. This straight-away was one of a very few. There is an overwhelming abundance of scenic beauty to be seen in the Western half of America.
Salt flats on the edges of the Great Salt Lake (in the distance). In my few passes of this area, I don’t remember seeing GSL without clouds. Whether Climate or Coincidence, I can’t say.
On emerging from a tunnel in Western Wyoming. See how the architect has matched the colors to the landscape. This is an especially compelling tableau in the glow of the full Moon. The light reflects vividly off the snow as to make a brighter than expected nocturnal landscape.
Volcano necks that resist weathering and wind up with sides so steep they won’t hold the snow. The famous Devil’s Tower (featured in Close Encounters of the Third Kind) is found in Wyoming. Alas, it is off the major truck routes.