Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Another slow day in the bulk plant

As the title implies, I had ample time today to practice my new found skill of falling asleep while sitting on pallets of additives. I'm totally grateful that we didn't have a day like Nick had where we were stuck until 11 hauling sacks. Just don't think I'd like it much.

Today we loaded one cement job and then we spend the rest of the day doing cleaning and maintenance. We pressure washed the tanks outside and then helped them change out and clean "fluffers" on the tanks of raw materials. Fluffers are the parts through which compressed air is put into the tanks to help move the product out. I don't know if that's the main means of pressuring up the tanks because these things have rubber sleeves over the ends and Andy said when air goes through they "vibrate" to help the dry dust (cement and such) move better. These things get clogged up with cement and need to be rotated out for cleaning. There are several parts that have to be unscrewed (usually with the aid of a pipe wrench) and then have the cement cake chiseled out of them. This was where we were most helpful. We helped clean them and I helped put one back in too. Big day.
Here's Anjelica helping will get that rubber part off the end of the fluffer. Some of them are wedged on there pretty good. :)

To wash the tanks we got to climb on top of them. They're maybe three stories tall so that was kinda fun I suppose.
These are the tanks in question...
This is Justin, doing the very important job of holding the hose so it doesn't get tangled up. It's hard...
This is Mike doing work while Justin, Anjelica and I supervise. Get it, Mike!
And here I am supervising. Note the size of the truck in the background...we're up high. :) This is also my standard look--"one-sie" blues (not dirty yet), hard hat, prescription safety glasses (so I'm the only one who has to wear them 100% of the time...), and pigtail braids (they fit nicely under the hard muss, no fuss). Not attractive but whatev... custom tailoring of my PPE...they are a little big but duct-tape works just great for shortening them...

At one point today Mario was showing off with feats of strength... Justin didn't do an adequate job of tightening the wings and so Mario called him out. This was the result of the show of manliness:

Holding the sledge hammer with one hand... you have to touch your nose...without breaking it.
Of course, Mario can do it.
And then he was hot and sweaty so he had to go stand in front of the fan with his nomex open. He did a little dance for me when he saw I took out my camera. I love this guy...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bulk is what it is..

So today we worked in the bulk plant. We had to start our day at 7 (I think lots of parts of the yard do but lab let us come in at 8...I think because the morning prep work and paper work was not intern friendly) and we finished at 6. By finished I mean they let us go because they hadn't used us for anything all afternoon and in spite of having more work to do, we were probably irritating to look at perched atop palates of additives. Anyway... We spent most of the day waiting. "Hurry up and wait" is the theme of the oil and gas world. We made several (I forget exactly how many) batches of cement for the cementing department and at the end of the day we also filled a truck with liquid nitrogen for the coil tubing department. Mixing cement means getting a recipe and dumping bags of additives into a hopper that feeds into the bulk tanks. All the additives mix with the cement from the bulk tanks and transfer to and from a couple of the empty ones a few times to get them mixed to a homogeneous blend. We just helped empty bags into the hopper.
Loading additives into the hopper. It gets messy real fast.

We also swept the shop a few times as it gets pretty dusty with all the bags being ripped open. We also helped hook the hoses to the trucks that took the cement to the jobs. That is trickier than it sounds because the hoses are heavy rubbery numbers with iron wings to screw them to things. Sometimes it takes two people to do it. I did it by myself pretty quickly once which made me feel like a beast.

Like I said, we sat around a lot today because they recently hired a bunch more guys for the bulk plant and a move to day/night shifts is imminent. There are more than enough people to get things done so the little intern girls get to watch. Because it's hot we're pretty ok with this (but it was fun to get dirty for a change...I'm sure I'll eat those words later).
Anjelica, modeling our dirty blues. Work it girl!
Today we met:
Mario--a Mexican man who's basically second in charge (in charge of us interns and the guys lifting sacks into the hopper). His English is dicey but we get the point most of the time (he uses a lot of charades). He keeps things going in order and make sure we measure things up right. He's also got mad forklift skills. Seriously he whips that thing around with such precision!
The one and only Mario. He was making fun of me by striking poses while I took pictures of other things but then this is what he gives me when I point my camera at him...

Justin--nice guy, has a couple little girls and his fiancée is working nights in the dispatch office.
Nick--also nice. An Arkansas native.
Will--very new (a week I think), nice, and learning along side of us. Receives most of Mario's life lesson style speeches about how to do things and why we do them the way we do. This means he is the cause of at least 1/2 of Mario's little dance numbers which crack us up.
Andy--He says in the air conditioned cube in the corner of the shop, running pumps and giving signals. Don't know much about him but he seems nice.
Several other guys who's names I never heard or forgot--all seem pretty nice. I think they are going easy on the only two girls in the shop. I'm only vaguely offended but the heat makes it hard to notice.
Will, Mike, and... Brandon? I hope that's his name...

The guys try to include us but at some point it's hard to do that without stalling the process and we respect that. Tomorrow I'm going to try to weasel my way into the cube to see what goes on in there. I have to try to learn something good to put in my journal. Also it's air conditioned which I don't hate.

By the's the lay of the land...

That's the main building (offices, dispatch, mechanic's shop) and part of the yard. Just beyond it near those trees is parking lot. Slightly to the right... the rest of the yard... lots of trucks. All large and special purpose for the most part. That's basically the yard but there are a few more trailer-y buildings behind the main office building (like the lab...).

And if you turn around in that spot... the bulk plant! Over yonder is the cube and just beyond the fork lift is the hopper. Also notice all the palates of additives for the cement we make to the left. Outside behind all this is the series of big tanks. I don't know why I neglected to photograph that... tomorrow!

Monday, June 28, 2010

All good things must come to an end...

Today was the last day of lab. It was a crazy lab day. We had a million tests to run and most of them on some kind of rush. We had to run "mud push" tests all day long-- the spacer I mentioned before is kind of a guessing game and it's important to get it right. It's what gets pumped in front of the cement to clean out the drilling mud (mud and cement get along about as well as the Capulets and the Montagues). It has to have all the right rheology numbers AND be compatible with the mud. The compatibility test is where you see if you need to redesign your spacer. This particular job's spacer was redesigned 8 times before we left (all night they worked on it) and it still wasn't quite right. Lost of good smart people working to try and tweak the recipe to come up with something that was up to standard.

In the mean time we interns helped run rheologies on the cement samples from the bulk plant (special shoutout to Dr. Wang who taught me about viscosity...the focus of my time in the lab), did "dishes" and helped clean up the lab. Mark (who sounds like my cousin Bobby) is super nice and told us we were really helpful. I informed him that my number one priority was not to get in the way and my number two priority was to try and contribute something useful. Apparently it worked. We also met Marcus and Obaid today. They also work in the lab but they were off this weekend. Marcus is ornery but lots of fun. I'm a little sad we didn't get to work with them more. I plan to try to make it back to the lab if possible.

As I said, all good things must end, and tomorrow we go to the bulk plant. Nick has been staying there until 10 or 11 each night so I'm not super excited about it. The good news is that we're girls and apparently they've been waiting for us since they heard they were getting interns at Conway (which explains why I feel like I'm wearing a funny hat or have something hanging out of my nose every time I walk the hall or out in the yard) and so they MAY go a tad bit easier on us. Also I plan to do what I'm told and do it with a smile so they don't feel the need to be rough on me. It's these thoughts (lies?) that keep me optimistic about the next three days. That and the fact that I requested my weekend off to be this weekend for the 4th of July. I don't know what I'll do with it yet but I want to travel up north either to visit people in Fayetteville or maybe as far as KC (depending on what people are doing and if I think I can really pull off the trip). Over the next three days, I may be AWOL (I could be working late and pass out the second I crawl out of the shower) but don't fear for me. I'm probably still alive.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Another day in the lab. Today we ran more rheology tests--this time solo (more or less)--and did more "dishes." We also learned a little about separators and their makeup and purpose and what they test them for. We were also introduced to oil based mud. It's nasty stuff. We also played with gelled water (I forget what exactly it's called) and it looks and feels like snot. It's pretty neat stuff.

Mark, the lab tech, is super nice and let us leave at 4 today so I could go to mass in Little Rock. Since it was my first trip to Little Rock I took Anjelica with me. After mass we went on a little adventure based on our tour guide books to find food. A lot of stuff is closed on Sundays in Arkansas but we found a tasty place called Rumba down near the River Market. Delish! Also, if you've never been before, Little Rock is really pretty. We probably took the long route both to and from but it was worth it.

Tomorrow is our last day in the lab (officially) and then we get to go be slaves of the bulk plant. It's hard manual labor in the sun. I'm hoping that I can find time to apply adequate sunscreen so I don't turn into a lobster (and later a dalmatian).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cement testing and gelling water...

Today was our first day in the lab. What does a oil extraction services provider do with a lab you ask? They design and test cement mixes as well as frack job fluids. They do this all in the comfort of an air-conditioned trailer. Needless to say, I like the lab. We got to run rheology tests for cement mixtures that were going out on jobs and we also got to help test a water to gel mix and the corresponding breaker. I'm probably not using all the right terms here but who'll check me on it? After lunch we also watched the USA soccer match on Mark's phone while he mixed test slurry. He's into soccer so it was fun to talk to him about it. Lunch was amazing by the way; La Fuerta (sp?) is the Conway version of La Fiesta. So tasty!

We'll spend a couple more days in the lab before we move out to the bulk plant where Nick has been working and sweating is (you know) off. You haul, open and mix bags of cement and additives to make the mixtures designed and tested by Mark in the lab. It will be heavy manual labor in the sun and humidity so I'm trying to soak up the AC while I got it.

As for last night's festivities at Chris's (who had a birthday yesterday), it was fun. The nice thing about working here is that everyone's really friendly and they like to hang out with each other...probably because their schedules don't really promote out of company friends...but I digress. They invited us lowly interns on the spot and they were happy to have us. It was good times!

Oh I'd also like to add a note about the effects of the gulf incident (sorry I haven't done more of this, Bre, but I don't know what to tell you):
The company will likely cut their recruiting efforts drastically for the coming year because their policy is not to fire people if the need in their district wanes (or is eliminated by other means) but to relocate them to where they are needed. All the displaced workers are going to be filling the positions that open up around other parts of the country and so they won't need to hire new greenhorns for those positions. This has been the first few days since starting work that I haven't heard something about BP or the oil spill or "the situation in the gulf." It's a hot topic.

Mom, I know I just told you all of this but now it's properly documented in case you forget about it. It was good to talk to you tonight!

Stay tuned for the next installment of Intern Sam and the Oilfield Diaries.

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's Friday! Oh wait, I work all weekend so it doesn't matter...

We spent our whole day doing standards certification. It wasn't as fun as it sounds. The good news is we are starting real work tomorrow. Anjelica and I start in the lab and Nick's in the bulk plant. Early next week we'll switch and then at the end of the week we'll hopefully be out on jobs!

In other news, I got my oil changed. Sorry I was so late doing it, Dad. My bad.

Oh we also met one of the new engineers today. Her name is Chetsi (sounds like Chelsea but with a t instead of an l). She lives upstairs from us and she's nice. She helped us find Chick-fil-A for lunch so we like her. :)

Tonight I think our plan is to go hang out with the other engineers for Chris's (cement engineer) birthday. I'll let you know how that goes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 2

This morning we got a yard tour from a girl named Kelly who is only here through the weekend because she's being transfered to Oklahoma. She was nice. I'm sad she's leaving because she seems like she's fun. She and Sharron took us out to lunch today since we're new and we don't know our way around yet and so that they could expense their own lunch too. Naturally we went to Friday's and ate too much. Good times.

This afternoon all we've done is certifications for standards. We have to do about 7 or so of them and they're a pain in know. We sit in the break room and try to look up answers to each test in the pages of standards for each one. It's way boring but we gotta do it. That's all that's really on our agenda because we can't do anything else until they're done and passed. Tomorrow we'll have Kelly's help and she thinks we can get it done by lunch. When we finish our next move is to the bulk plant where they mix up cement and frack components and put them in the trucks to go out to the field. We may also work in the lab here in these first few days. Testing cement I think... we'll see if I'm right.

Tonight: Walmart for groceries and then maybe some light exploration of Conway.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Welcome to Arkansas, where the accents are thicker and our purses are camo

At long last, I am finally at my field location in Conway, Arkansas (the drive was, in fact, lovely. Thanks for asking)! I know you were all wondering when my internship would actually start. The answer is: today the moment I arrived in Conway. I showed up at the yard (the office) and was pretty much set to work setting myself up in the company online systems and taking tests to be allowed to go to the field. It was an intense first 3 (ish) hours.

We got set up in our apartment which is NICE. It puts the StratCastle to shame (though that's not real hard to do). The only thing it's lacking is all the fellow interns... *sniff* Nick, Anjelica and I are all in Well Services so we are in the apartments and Brendan and Jared are in Wireline so they're in a hotel for the time being but I think they move to some apartments (we're hoping ours) by next week. Unfortunately we've already been told that we'll spend little time in our apartments.

My manager (Stephen-cementing manager) has already let down any professional best behavior facade that he may have had. He's real honest and upfront. I like it. Our mentor (Sharron or "Mamma Sharron") is much the same. So is everyone really. Again, I like it. So far things are good. I'll try to keep reporting regularly but from the sounds of it, things may get kinda sporadic. Hang in there people, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.
First purse I see in AR is forest print camo of course.
Walking into our apartment and looking slightly right: The kitchen!
And if you look more forward: The doors are just the back door (nothing special out there) and the hall to the right leads to our rooms...
When you go to the end of the hall you get to my room... sleepin' in style!
And if you look back toward the door you see that I have the master own private bathroom! Anjelica has a bathroom (the door across the hall) to herself too so don't feel too bad. There's a washer and dryer in hers too (I swooned!).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Conway, Conway, where for art thou, Conway

So here we are at the end of the Kellyville training experience (kind of a decent band name there...) and we are all preparing (and by this I mean drinking by the pool) to head out to our locations. I am basically done packing and I have taken the Canadians to Braum's (they don't have it up there) so all that's left is for me to join the merriment down at the pool. I plan to play it pretty low key because I agreed to drive one of my fellow Conway-bound interns to the airport in the morning at the early hour of 6:30 (I'm so nice), but I can't skip out entirely because somehow, in three weeks, I have become friends with these some odd 70 of us. Who'd'a thought (who'd a? who'd of? who'd-a?...whatever)?

Brief recap of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday:
All you need to know about Sunday is that Toy Story 3 changed my life. I'm normally stone faced in any movie but I was a little misty at the end of this one. I'm crazy--I've accepted it. It was just that good.

Monday was a long and boring day of learning about D&M (drilling and measurements)...we basically sat around and waited for the bus between 3 and 5... so fun. Monday night we went to The Melting Pot for birthday fondue (Anna's birthday to be exact). It was AMAZING. I've never had a dinner of multiple courses or one that was mostly fondue style. Delicious!

Tuesday was even more boring that Monday (I didn't even think that was possible)--at least in the morning. The afternoon proved more enjoyable as we got our summer projects assigned to us. My project (drum roll please) is to come up with a volume chart for a new tank in Conway. I'll basically be dusting off what calculus I retained and integrating for volume and correlating it with the depth of the substance being stored. Feel free to be impressed (or vomit...either way). I can't quite decide if I'm excited about this or not. It's totally doable and practical which I like but it does have that element of calculus (the devil's work) to it. We'll see how I feel about it in the morning and in the coming week.

Now tomorrow I head to Conway to really get down to business. As excited as I am to get to work and really apply the things I've learned (how to lift heavy things properly), I'm going to miss hanging out with all these crazy interns here in Tulsa. The good news is that I'll see a lot of them in Houston in August for wrap-up. *Sigh*

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Heel, toe, dosey doe!

Last night we went to Caravan Cattle Company, a line dancing bar in Tulsa. It was amazing. We had so much fun watching everyone two step and swing their partner round and round and we even participated in most of the line dance numbers. We also tried our hand at two step and though not many of us had really done it before we held our own (or at least didn't cause any major pile ups as we did our laps around the floor). We rounded up two cars worth of people to go so we had a good time watching each other as we mingled with the local folks. So much fun. I don't know why I quit going to the country bar in Aggieville... two steppin' is where it's at!
Jennifer, Shawna, Anjelica, Kevin, Leslie, and Rifaah--livin' the dream at Caravan Cattle Co.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Never take your friends shopping...

Yesterday was...boring. We spent the morning presenting our findings on wind energy knowing that the oil/gas team was going to slay us. Good news is, when you put me in a corner I come out swinging. We did a good job and our class was reasonable and since our moderator didn't insist on sticking to the unanimous decision (or any well defined decision for that matter) we never officially lost. We spent the afternoon in a "round table" and doing "one on one interviews" which translates into we spend a good three hours just sitting in our classroom sporcle-ing and napping.

We came home and I got a nap in before making shake-and-pour pancakes for Jennifer and I. Those things are tastier than they sound. We then spent time trying to round people up for a night at the Dusty Dog. We got several people interested and were going to be on our way when we were informed we had to wait for birthday cake in honor of Eric's 21st. Once we all made it to the Dog there was some drama over people not quite as old as Eric (was going to be in 30 minutes from when they ousted him). Finally everything was fine and we had a grand time buying him drinks and carousing with the middle-aged clientèle of the establishment. Things were great until we went to go home and some guy had parked literally touching my car. Good news was he somehow managed to touch it but not put any kind of dent in it. The "mark" was deemed so slight that we could buff it out with some turtle wax which Kevin helped me purchase this morning. That is on tomorrow's agenda. Special shout-out to Kevin for being the ringmaster of our little drunk circus and being a super sport about everything including dealing with the guy who can't park his car.

Today was shopping with the girls. It was deadly. When you take your friends shopping they can help you justify every purchase you consider. I finally have a swimsuit (which I needed because it's HOT as all get out here) but I also have a couple of skirts, two shirts, a pair of sandals and a new set of Sperry's (those were on sale and I've always wanted them and I assure you I thought that one through thoroughly and the fact that Kayla and Jennifer were also buying Sperry's had NOTHING to do with that choice). We also went for cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory. Amazing as you would imagine. I can now personally recommend the White Chocolate Carmel Macadamia Nut Cheesecake. It may have changed my life.

The plan for tonight is line dancing. We were going to go to a rodeo but found out we missed the boat by a day. But for those of us who want a good "midwestern" experience, line dancing is the next best thing. I'm pretty excited about it. I need a reason to wear my new clothes anyway...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The weekend, so close yet so far...

Today was yet another scintillating day of wireline. The good news here is that we spent the whole day "down hill." I know what you're thinking, "isn't that something she whines about?" and the answer is yes. Normally. Today we walked down in the morning (not so hot yet) and we stayed there all day in the wireline buildings. We didn't even change into our PPE until after lunch!

We spent the morning doing simulations of well logging--running tools in and out of hole to read Gama rays to confirm depth and so forth. We sat in little rooms made to be a bit like the wireline trucks that had two computers--one for the operator and one for the engineer-- and we ran computer programs that looked like we were looking at our workstations--the operator also having a control panel and the "window" to see the equipment as it ran and the guy on the rig floor giving signals. We did two proper runs, logging the wells for the "client" and then we were told to just play with it. To a group of interns this means "break it" so we did everything they told us not to do and watched the resulting mayhem. It's not nearly as dramatic as we would have liked but we did get the rig floor guy to give frantic "stop!" signals and we did get our tool stuck down hole and disconnected (which we've been told means we're f***ed and fired) so that was kinda fun.

This afternoon they put us in a tool shop with a guy who normally just supervises a class and he told us what parts were there and then said "alright, take 'em apart!" and then we did. Then came the hard part--we had to put them back together. It was hard but way more fun than sitting and listening to another presentation about well logging. I also bonded with our supervisor and I think I have him convinced that he should organize an arranged marriage between me and his apparently rich and successful son. We'll see if anything materializes. When we left there we went back "up hill" to work on our presentation for tomorrow. We are presenting to an investor looking to provide power to a community of 100,000 people and is deciding between wind energy and oil/gas. Unfortunately I have fallen on the sacrificial goat team of wind energy. We know we're set up to fail but we're gonna give it the good ol' college try. Working on said presentation lasted about an hour of the given two and then we just talked about random things. I mostly eavesdropped on Chad and Kathleen talking about dating in college and I now know his game plan for picking up ladies at the bar. It was a productive afternoon.

Tonight we are going to have a little "fiesta" at Leslie's apartment to watch the basketball game and work on this God-forsaken project. I'm guessing the game and fiesta will take top priority and we'll end up slappin' this bad boy together late tonight/early in the morning before we pitch it. Hopefully I'm wrong. I guess we'll see.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tornado alley

Not much to report today...wireline just keeps being a lot of the same stuff over and over. They emphasize different details but really it's about the same as the day before. The only news to report is that while downhill today we came under a tornado watch. We got to cut short the standing in our sauna suits and sit in the air conditioned part of the shop that serves as the tornado shelter. We sat around for about 30 to 45 minutes and talked about tornadoes to all the kids not from the midwest. No one was really freaking out but some people were a little intimidated by the prospect of a tornado (probably due to the tornado stories we were telling...). They started driving us back in small groups because they were afraid that we would be stuck because the pond at the low point between the "up hill" hill and the "down hill" hill floods over the road between them. Luckily it didn't rain enough for that.

Tonight I go to Wal Mart for a permanent marker (to write my name on my hard hat, bag, and whatever else I think needs marking) and a bandanna to keep the sweat from running down my face. Judge if you want but it's hotter than Hades down here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Best. Day. Ever.

Today started out kinda rough. We had a short day of classes but it seemed to be the longest day of my life. Wireline seems a lot of the same stuff over and over and God bless our teacher but he was giving us WAY too much detail to really do us any good. It was painful. Fortunately as I said it was a short day (no PPE down hill even!) because we broke at 2:30 to go play paintball. Yep. I got paid to play paintball!

All 70 interns and about 5 or 6 teachers (two of those being Jimmy and his wife...Jimmy being the guy in charge of us) went and took over a paintball place for four hours. I've never played before and it was awesome! I was so nervous before we started because people were being over-dramatic about how much it hurts and how much you'll bruise but I should have known that those people are over-dramatic about everything. I was originally going to just wear a t-shirt and shorts but people told me I was a straight up idiot and would hate myself. This also freaked me out. It was hotter than a hooker in church outside and I hate swimming in sweat so to hear that my coveralls were going to be necessary was painful but I went with it because I didn't want to be a straight up idiot. It was a good call. I have a few welts, some I can show people and one or two where it is not polite to let them be seen. It does hurt like nobody's business when you get hit but really after a minute or two you forget and move on. Simmer down girls. You will not "look like you got in a fist fight" unless you're one of those that bruise like a peach. Then you're screwed either way.

To top it all off, today was payday! My favorite day! I paid off my HUGE credit card bill (thanks to pub crawl shirts and a car repair) just in the nick of time and I have a bit leftover. I just have to be thrifty until the end of the month (and/or rely on my $500 AmEx card that is meant to help feed me in the field...) when payday number two rolls around. Fingers crossed that I can do it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oh wireline...

Today was day one of wireline. We're doin' this all week. Wireline is the method of gathering data about a well (and more specifically the geology below the well site and many facts about it's properties). This data is gathered by lowering any number of tools down a borehole on a length of wire--hence the name wireline. We spent the day with a guy from Trinidad who had the best accent. He was lots of fun (as are most of the teachers and employees) and I'm sad we don't get him all week. He told us all kinds of things about wireline and then trotted us down hill to see some stuff. Thankfully it was rainy today so we didn't sweat our butts off in our PPE. We also got to talk to a couple of wireline operators of sorts--not engineers but the guys who rig up and run the equipment--and they seemed fun. They told us that we were entering the field at a good time because things were just starting to pick up after a slump. I couldn't help but think that it feels like the worst time what with the situation in the gulf but whatever...

After class today I learned a new word from my friend Kayla. She's Canadian (from Alberta--the only rat-free province...only rat free place really) so we teach each other slang words. The word of today is keener. I guessed on the spelling but keener means someone who is overeager. Think the extra credit whore in class who sits up front and tries to butter up the teacher. Can also be the kid with 20 colors of pens and lots of tabbed folders and all kinds of sticky labels for things. I like this word. I got it in exchange for janky (or jankity as I sometimes use). Even trade I'd say. PS here's a picture of Kayla(she's between Jennifer and I). I like her lots. She's fun. In this particular picture we are displaying our excitement about the circus we are about to see.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A visual treat!

I keep talking about people I'm meeting and hanging out with and I figured I should probably show off these new fun friends of mine. Here's a small sampling of my new friend pool. There will probably be more of these types of entries in the near future. Enjoy!
Shawna and Maria at Buffalo Wild Wings for the World Cup.
Donny (Rap Master D) sitting through the World Cup. Good sport only complained a few times about how hockey was better.
Anjelica, my future roommate getting mic'd up for one of our gravel pack job simulations. Girl is photogenic!
The amazing Jennifer who is impressed with my dollar folding skillz. I think this girl and I were always meant to know each other.
And finally Rifaah who is hilarious and crazy. He teaches me new things every day.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

TGIF and Weekend!

Friday we got lucky and got to leave the training center early! We spent the day learning to lift things safely and use stairs properly. We also wore drunk goggles to play catch and rode "The Convincer"--an apparatus that simulates a 4-5 mph crash into a brick wall. I did not actually ride it because it looked VERY unpleasant and since I already wear my seat belt and was convinced by watching alone, I opted out. One girl is sore today for it so I'm glad I passed.

When we got home I promptly took a much needed nap. After napping we made a WalMart run (I needed a geek string for my safety glasses--don't judge) and and then joined the intern bar-b-que. Much booze was consumed by most of the interns and shenanigans ensued. There were water balloons and super soakers and people being shoved into the pool. I avoided that bit but it was fun to watch. After a while a group of us decided to go on a little exploratory mission to a little dive "piano bar" down the road called The Dusty Dog. Let me tell you people, it was a winner. The clientele may have been largely middle aged but the group of us girls loved it anyway. Sometimes you need to have girl talk and the Dusty Dog proved to be a good place for "all the single ladies" to pow wow. Good times! We made it back in time to see the remaining shenanigans and have a few heart to hearts with the remaining drunks. Again good times.

This morning, several of us ladies went to get pedicures. We're thinking that when we are in the middle of our month long camping trip style internship, we will look down and what remains of our pedi's and think to ourselves, "oh I remember when I used to be girly and take regular showers and have access to a bathroom...*sigh*" Afterward we went to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch soccer with a BUNCH of fellow interns. It's nice because in spite of the little clusters that form we still hang out together in large hordes now and then. In case you don't know the game was USA vs. England and it was a tie at 1-1. I don't really follow soccer but it was fun to hang out and pretend I knew what was going on. I sat next to Donald (Rap Master D) and he was less a fan. Very irritated by the tie. He's accustomed to hockey which affords more violence and harsher penalties. He's hilarious when he's griping about stuff.

After the game we fulfilled a dream of Jennifer's; we went to the circus! It was magical. Aislinn, Kevin, and Jennifer had never been to the circus and Kayla and I were happy to take them. There were elephants and tigers and zebras as well as the standard horses and dogs. Acrobats and tightrope walkers (who made Kevin very nervous) and all the usual circus fodder were in attendance. We also got to see two women simultaneously fired from a double barrel cannon. Spectacular. We acted like five-year-olds and got Dippin' Dots at intermission (Mom, I know they're ridiculously over priced but I wanted them and I'm a big girl now so I got them. They were delicious) and screamed and clapped with the best of them. A dream come true.

Post circus, we went to dinner and then I did laundry. A bunch of people are going "clubbing" but it's the intense people and I know I can't hang with them. Several others are boozing in the pool now and let's be honest, I can't ride with them either. Forrest-Gump-Peter is drinking enough to kill a moose and I anticipate him doing serious damage either to himself or the Stratford Palace Kingdom. The boys are gross and keep peeing in the pool so again... there's no real draw for me to stay. Instead I'm lounging at Jennifer's watching The Holiday and blogging for you my loyal readers (Mom, Scarlett, and well... possibly Jennifer).

Tomorrow should be pretty low key also, including Mass and general lounging. If anything else exciting happens I'll try to let you know.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Humidity is my arch nemesis...

Another day, another class. We spent the morning "learning" about coil tubing. What is coil tubing you ask? I'm not sure I can really tell you. Our instructor was an intense Colombian woman who flat out told us she wasn't going to tell us anything, just take us down to the pad and let us ask questions. She warned us we would need to ask lots of questions and really try to figure it all out because we would have to build our own coil tubing set up from little mini magnetic "LEGO" like things when we got back. Needless to say this particular intern was a bit intimidated. We tried but she gave us vague instructions about some kind of rotation plan she had and then left it up to us to figure it out. I accidentally took a couple of flash naps sitting in a roll-y chair next to the shop building while I waited my turn to go see things. She never came and we found out we were supposed to just kind of wander up and but in at some point. She seemed to have no plan. Whatever. At least it was in the AM before it got screaming hot and hella humid... oh's always kind of hot and plenty humid. Especially in that dang PPE Smurf suit.

After lunch she made us put the little models together and explain it to someone. I think our group did a passable job since we're a bunch of ignorant interns. We got back into our PPE and headed back to the shop building "down hill" (which by the way if I have not mentioned is maybe a 1/4 mile away but the walk has to be at least a 1/2 mile with the hills and winding) in the afternoon humidity to go look at fiber optics and tooling. Then we walked back "up hill" to do a coil tubing simulation. That part was also very intense because she gave us a BRIEF explanation of each of the gauges (there are like 20) and knobs (again something like 20 of them) and what things were supposed to be like and then had us "start the job"--which she promptly screwed up for us so we could trouble shoot it. Like we even know how to run the damn thing under proper conditions... anyway we got it together and didn't kill anyone (yesterday's kill count was rumored to be over 60 people due to a snapped line creating an acid shower). This lady was intense. It seemed at times she was trying to break us. I dunno...

We got back to the "Stratford Palace" (as Peter* is calling it) and promptly walked down the road a bit to the Mediterranean restaurant, Ali Baba's, for falafel sandwiches and gyros. Delicious and affordable! Jennifer and I plan to speak highly of it. We should probably get some sort of commission. Possibly free falafel?

I skipped out on the nights activity of volleyball because I took Sarah to the clinic to get her ankle looked at. No one seemed real into volleyball anyway so I don't know if it even happened. In other news I am still exhausted and plan to go to bed early again if possible. Let's hope!

*A note on Peter: He is also a Vanderbilt kid and he is so painfully southern that he sounds like Forrest Gump from time to time. Hilarious. He's also very loud so you don't have to talk to him to know about this. Jennifer assures me he is usually a "couple notches" less intense and he's just hamming it up. Either way he's really fun to eavesdrop on...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A bunch of sweaty interns...

So yesterday we learned about cementing. Cementing wells is an interesting endeavor. It's kinda complicated but it was presenting in a simpler way than our fracking class. We also talked about how the oil spill happened. It's really complicated to try and type it out without a proper piece of scrap paper on which to sketch this situation so if you ever see me in person and want to hear about it, I'll try. I'm glad we talked about it though because I was having a hard time getting my head around why you can't just plug up a hole that's not more than a couple feet wide (if's more like a foot). Ok I'm still kind of struggling with that one but I get it a little. Anyway...
The practical part of cementing consisted of a brief tour of the equipment but that's about like any noisy plant tour in that I heard almost nothing about the stuff they were pointing at and so I learned little from it. We also did some more stuff that was "practical" but didn't involve our PPE--simulations! They were kind of fun... one was strictly computer screen and it was mostly just for kicks but the second was dummy equipment that ran water and it was pretty interesting.

Last night, we were again wined and dined (I think they are trying to cloud our judgement about their balls to the wall lifestyle with booze) at an (I kid you not) oil themed steakhouse. It was good but I've eaten better (judgement still in tact). I got to sit with Jennifer and Rifaah two of my new fun friends (Rifaah was in the hat picture and Jennifer is from Vanderbilt. Also she's hilarious and generally awesome) and we had a good ol' time ordering drinks and being sad for poor vegetarian Rifaah who couldn't eat any of the appetizers (or Land Survey's as the menu called them) because ribs and bacon stuffed mushrooms are not acceptable for vegetarians. Don't worry they brought bread and he's a good sport. We decided that the life of a recruiter is pretty much as good as it gets... you get to hang out with a bunch of college kids and get them drunk and they'll hang on your every word because they want you to hire them. Not a bad gig. Anyway...76 drunken interns later... today begins...

Today we had the most enthusiastic instructor ever: Oliver. He talked to us about sand control. I know, you're riveted already. He was seriously good at teaching and we had the most fun practical section ever. We went out and used the dummy equipment to run 16 gravel pack jobs (pretty literally since there was water and sand flowing freely in this situation...) so that we each had a chance to run all of the five parts of the job. I rocked at most of them. We all did but that's beside the point. We got to wear radios complete with headsets just like the ones they have in Nascar (I know because they had some name on them implying they were the radio of choice for racing sports). We also happened to be the first group that did this class so that meant we had to "rig up" the equipment. This means we carried and connected the giant hoses that link all the parts of the equipment (the tanks of water to the "little monster" diesel pump to the slurry mixer to the giant pump to the manifold that pumps the slurry into the ground...). These hoses are huge. It takes three people to carry them safely. Also you get to use a mini sledge hammer to tighten the wings on them which is kind fun. We spent 4.5 hours outside in our NOMEX, boots, and hardhats rocking out this gravel pack job (16 times) which means I came in from "down the hill" super hot and sweaty. A hot mess, if you will. We all were though so it's ok.

Tonight when we got home I promptly showered to attend our little tuna tetrazini dinner party (Jennifer cooked tuna helper for Victoria and I) which also included a bit of the hockey game (we weren't really THAT into it but that's what all the cool kids were doing). Now that I'm fed and showered I am accepting that I am exhausted and I'm excited to go to bed. Tomorrow is supposed to be a big day: we'll learn about coil tubing and tomorrow evening we are apparently going to the park for sand volleyball and a picnic. I need to rest up and get my game face on.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Too cool for school...

Day one of our training was kind of intense. It was also a bit of a cluster. We started the day by attempting to get on the bus (the only one we were initially told) but because we are engineers, we know that 80something people will not fit on one bus and so we don't try very hard. Another bus is soon to arrive we are told. Ok but there are still like way more of us than will fit. Ok so bus driver numero dos tells us he knows this is a problem and he called for the first to come 30-45 minutes. So we wait. I napped next to my new Canadian friend Donald (Donny, RapMaster D... ok that last one is my own creation and he may not be on board with it...) both in the lobby and on the bus. I think it made him vaguely uncomfortable but we've since become closer (I asked him lots of random questions in order to get to know him). ANYWAY... We arrived approximately 30 minutes late and missed some of the safety info--no worries, we caught the most important bits about Tornadoes and the tail end of the brown recluse spider lecture. Awkward start to our day.

We were split into four groups (red, blue, yellow, and green) and the red group (my group, obviously...) spent our day learning about fracking--hydraulic fracturing. It's quite the deal. Here's what I learned in a nutshell (aka Scarlett and anyone else not really interested in the oil industry should skip past the tilde's):
~Wells sometimes don't produce as readily as they should (due to plugging of various origins and natures that you don't really care about or because the rock is not as permeable as you would like) and so you must frack them.
~This means you pump first a substance that is essentially water in at such high pressure, that it cracks the rock around the well.
~You then follow up with a slurry of sand to prop it open. It's called propate. Yup... prop for short. Not sure about spelling but yea you get the idea.
~Under some circumstances you would frack with acid that erodes the cracks open.
~These new cracks can reduce the "skin" of the well (the random hindrance to the wells production) to less than zero, meaning you can force the well to produce more than it would naturally.
~Fracking is an intense endeavor (that may just be my opinion).

So there. Now you know. And so do I.

Once we completed our day (including about an hour of walking around outside in full PPE and turning ourselves into sweaty beasts) we sat and waited to get on a bus again. This time for 1.5 hours. Yep. Add the half hour drive and we wasted two perfectly good afternoon hours. Oh well. When we made it back we ate and went to WalMart and saw a woman with teal boots, a jean dress complete with jean jacket, and a teal hat complete with giant teal feather. It was epic. I also found the little kid hair ties that have vanished from all Manhattan retailers. I bought two packs.

Tomorrow we get to sleep in a little and just catch the second edition of the bus run (interns get the shaft...jk we literally clapped when they announced this) and we are hoping and praying some kind of similar arrangement will be made in the evening so we aren't sitting on the sidewalk like second graders waiting for the bus. Fingers crossed on that one. Also on tomorrow's agenda: Dinner and Glee at Jennifer's apt. She's making tuna helper and we're a bit excited about it. There may even be wine. Because we're classy.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Welcome to Tulsa!

Our first day in Tulsa (well all together anyway) and what is a group of interns to do? We started by getting groceries obviously. Next we went for lunch and then frozen custard and after that the mall! The point of this entry is to show the world this photo:
New friends don't just go to the mall, they gotta try on hats and make fierce faces! Left to right: Kevin (Alaska/Colorado State), Rifaah (Saudi Arabia/CU Boulder), Renata (University of Pennsylvania), and Aislinn (Pennsylvania/Carnegie Mellon University). Those are some FIERCE floppy hats. Good work, team!

That little leak in the Gulf...


I haven't yet had much opportunity to see direct effects of the oil spill in the Gulf but here are the effects I have seen:
~I have talked to at least one (two I think) intern who was originally planned to be stationed offshore. She's been moved inland.
~The company is more committed to their employees than the average big company, and rather than lay people off, they are loaning them to active locations inland while offshore is off limits. They are shuffling and planning and paying to have their employees keep working and with as little disruption to their lives as possible.
~One day one of the people talking to us in our orientation was asked about BP's little incident and he said that he wasn't glad it happened just that he was glad it happened to someone else. It hurts across the board--everyone in the oil industry is affected negatively by this incident--but fortunately it wasn't them with the black eye. They also said they were glad it happened to a big enough company because BP had the resources to deal with this mess and a smaller company may not be able to commit to cleaning up after themselves for the years it will take to right the situation.

So far that's it. I promise if I hear anything else I'll let you know. :)

Friday, June 4, 2010

I am oriented!

What a week. Woof. We got geared up and learned all about safety procedures, protocol, and the lifestyle we are about to be submerged in. Talk about overload.

We started every day by getting on the bus at 6:30 (except that first day...) and we ended at 5(ish...) and then went to eat dinner with the recruiters. Our days basically didn't end until 9 or 1o pm. We've spent considerable amounts of time on the three shuttle buses contracted out to cart our sorry little hind-ends around and we've spent even more time listening to PowerPoint presentations about things like lifting with your legs and not your back or only driving for a maximum of 10 hours in a 24 hour period (but never between 11 pm and 5 am!).

Don't get me wrong, it's been pretty fun. Our dinners include an open bar (can you say drunk interns?) because the company culture boils down to "work hard" (SO hard) "and play harder" (no kidding). We also do have very minute times to ourselves (between shuttle bus rides) in which we can roam the mall or take a much needed nap. We have started to get to know one another (at least as much as possible between listening to talks about coveralls when there are 76 interns...) and we are "gelling" well. Seriously, I have never seen such a large group of people our age that fit together so nicely. There aren't really cliques (yet) and even when there seems to have formed a conversation group, we all are pretty comfortable joining in. It's kinda weird. I like it. I've made friends with people from Alaska, New York, California, Michigan, Tennessee, and West Virginia (to name just a few) and I've only had to endure two Dorothy jokes so far.

And then there's the SWAG (easy trigger, I mean Stuff We All Get)! I am now the proud (yes proud--I mean that) owner of two sets of blue Tyvek suits (for those of you who may not know: flame resistant coveralls in a perfectly smurf-y hue), a green hardhat (also excited about that), Red Wing boots, prescription safety goggles (they look HOT), and a sweet duffel bag to keep it all in. I have yet to don them all at once but I assure you that when I do, there will be photographic evidence. I'll probably fall in line and start referring to all of this as my PPE (personal protective equipment) as is the trend, so heads up on that one.

We are treated not so much as interns as prospective employees so they aren't sugar coating anything. This job can eat people alive. The hours are crazy (they OWN you for the first three to five years) and the work is DEMANDING (physically, mentally, emotionally...). I may spend several days on site and that means sleeping in a truck whenever I can catch a few minutes and peeing outside (no proper potty on an oil platform). As a woman I've been prepared to be treated as somewhat of an oddity and talked to as if these "roughnecks" (not people from our company but the actual work horses of an oil platform) had never seen a girl before. Should I chose to adopt this lifestyle as my career, and should I last for those first three to five years, I could be moved and placed in virtually any job, in any country in the world. I could become a sales rep, recruiter, or design engineer in France, Chad, or Venezuela. They work with you, and try to accommodate you as much as possible, but the facts are that for those first years when you are earning your keep you don't get scheduled vacation and no more than perhaps four or five days at a time. Family, if I stay with these folks, I may not see you for quite a while. It's INTENSE. The purpose of this internship program is to see if this is for me. I may very well not be. We shall see.

In the end we are geared up and oriented. We have flown back to Tulsa and we have the weekend to ourselves before we start training in Kellyville. It'll be partly classroom learning, and partly hands-on practical work. I'm kind of excited for this part.

Tomorrow I'll buy groceries, and I'll return to write more about the effects of the oil spill in the gulf. As for tonight, I'm exhausted and I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One day closer to being fully oriented...

Day one. Begin: 5:35am Leave hotel: 6:30am End: 7:30pm Arrive back at hotel: 8:10pm

Today was a lot of "house cleaning" type stuff--we signed tax forms, heard about 401K plans and insurance, talking about reimbursement, received our very own pair of RedWing boots, turned in our prescriptions for safety goggles, and were fitted for our overalls. We also received nice duffel bags for hauling all of our goodies (they came pre-packed with sweet green t-shirts and even sweeter green hard hats...go ahead and take a moment to be jealous). We also took our DriveSMARRT course that re-taught us how to drive. We are now trained to be crash-free drivers and we will abide by stringent rules that will keep us safe on the road. To make sure we were listening we had to complete a "commentary drive" with an instructor, narrating our driving thought process for 15 minutes of driving in rush-hour, downtown, Houston traffic. Tell me that's not what dreams are made of. Good news: I passed. I need to work on my eye-to-mirror foot-to-break though (you can't touch the break without checking your rear view!). I'm also a bit timid. I suppose that comes from growing up and learning to drive in "Francie" where we don't even have stoplights.

The agenda for the evening is to wait for our new friend from Alaska to check in and shower before we head out to eat a late dinner. I am going to start google-mapping the crap out of Houston to figure out where we will be finding said dinner. Wish me luck.

PS--Mom, I DO know how to spell Houston. I fixed it. Thanks for being such a teacher/proofreader. I'll use spell check this time.