Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I guess it’s time to post a new installment of the blog, but if you read to the bottom of this you will learn a great secret.

Firstly, news about the promotion of my novel Deadly Enterprise. We were in Calgary this weekend in order for my wife to be near the front of the traffic jams when her medical appointment time came near. To be fair to Calgary, which – being an oil town – is more than it is to the rest of us, we took less than thirty minutes to get across town to the Foothills Hospital and we weren’t involved in a multi vehicle pile-up or even a huge construction site necessitating a lengthy diversion.

In the morning, I called in at the Sentry Box, a store on 10th Ave SW – out close to the Crowchild Trail – that specializes in Science Fiction and Fantasy (both books and games); wargaming of all kinds; miniatures and everything else along those lines. My intention was to drop off a couple of copies of Deadly Enterprise for them to sell, but the book manager did one better, he ordered two copies in from Ingram.

So, if you live in Calgary, or close enough to visit, take a drive down 10th Avenue SW almost to the end and call in to the Sentry Box. (Actually, you’ll need to make a diversion around 14th Street because 10th is barriered there.) I doubt you’ll be able to leave without buying something, and with luck it will be one of the copies of my novel.

In lieu of another installment of my Oil Gypsy stories I’m posting a link to my other blog – the rant one. It’s at www.trailowner.blogspot.com . I’ve not posted anything there since June but I was touched by an ad my wife read out of the Calgary Herald, and thought it merited a few thoughts. I gave it a quite innocuous title, The Courage to do the Right Thing.

If you are as fanatically pro-Bush as . . . dunno, hardly anyone is these days, are they? Well, start again, if you are fanatically so Republican that you’ve closed your eyes to all the things Bush has done contrary to Republican ethics, like pervert the Constitution, you might want to give it a miss. But . . . if for fun you can’t resist answering blogs you disagree with, take a look. The site had been totally ignored until a few days back when someone as famous as Anonymous commented twice on one of the blog entries. Well, actually he tried to hammer a second time at my response, but he gave up the fight after that. It has some classic entries like The CSIS Way with Terrorists, or All Honorable Men: Eulogy for Saddam. Come and say a few words.

So, there you have the secret. I have come out of the closet and revealed myself as a Liberal – a Canadian Liberal, living in Alberta. I should be worth something, even if only as a rarity.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I intended to wait a few days over the week before posting another update here, but time got away from me.

Firstly, let me provide the tinyurl link for Deadly Enterprise on Amazon. It’s http://tinyurl.com/yryhs7 The copy price is $14.99 and postage & handling will bring that to about $20 - a bit more in Canada.

The copies I ordered through my publisher arrived and I have copies for sale in several local stores. One is even a bookstore, although the owner specializes in used and special order used books. The Internet provides an valuable service for tracking down specific items, like books on buy/sell sites and other objects on eBay. If I weren’t writing fiction I’d probably be finding resources for others or doing their research.


You might expect guys who work in remote locations are really good navigators. What a laugh. Most of them get lost in parking lots. But it’s not always their own fault.

I’ve met lost truck drivers in the winter bush whose instructions consist of a few scrawls on the back of a cigarette package. “Winter road – Manning. Turn left sign Cyrus Drilling.”

Halfway through the winter work season there are dozens of left turns off snowcovered signs. Some of them could say Cyrus Drilling, but they only mark where they used to be. New roads have been opened up and so it may seem that the road in question is a right turn.

One winter day a supply truck driver came into a Chevron crew camp down the Manning winter road into the Chinchaga – he was looking for directions to a rig camp, and his instructions looked exactly like my example. No one had heard of the particular camp, but they sent him on with a bit more useful advice than he’d started with.

Two days later the same truck and driver pulled into the same camp with the same questions. He was still looking, hopefully the food supplies in the back of the truck hadn’t spoiled by now. The cook invited him into the mess trailer for a warm up, a coffee, and hopefully more current information. The poor driver fell asleep over his coffee as the Chevron people were talking to him.

In the Arctic, two guys set out in a tracked vehicle for a five day scouting trip. The location they were to scout was north, so they drove the length of the airstrip to give themselves direction and then turned in what they felt was the correct one. Unfortunately, with all their discussions and preoccupation with their intentions when they arrived, they wound up heading a long way off north. They drove for hours and were mystified when they arrived at a shoreline that didn’t appear to be on their map. They stopped for dinner and got out to char some steaks over a catalytic heater.

Fortified, they decided to explore this mysterious shoreline further and followed it for a few more hours. Surprise, surprise – there were the lights of a camp in the distance. Whose camp is it? We’d best head over there and find out.

Turned out it was their own camp. They quickly swerved away and repeated the drive down the airstrip. They figured that if anyone noticed them it’d look as if they’d planned to do this all along. But this time, they turned the right way off the end of the strip.

Similar things happened when I worked in North Africa.
We had moved our work area in the Libyan Desert by something like 500 km. We had been near the Dahra oilfield about a hundred kilometres from the coast, and were now way south, almost at the Tazerbo Oasis.

One evening a Schlumberger well-logging truck came rolling into camp, the driver hoping for instructions how to find a particular drilling rig. Turned out the driver was an old acquaintance of many of our crew – they’d shared drinks with him when we were working near Dahra. When the driver asked for directions to the rig, our vibrator mechanic, who had a devilish sense of humour,
gravely corrected the driver’s expectations. “We’re just over the hill from Dahra.”

“What? Impossible I’ve driven two days from Dahra.”

“You’ve been to our camp before,” the Vibrator mechanic said seriously. He pointed. “The warehouse is over there. The waterwells are that way. And the airstrip is over there.”

The poor driver’s jaw dropped and his eyes grew round.

“You must have been driving in circles for the last two days,” another crew member suggested.

By this time the driver must have been close to fainting. His face turned red, his perplexity deepened. If you’ve ever been lost you know the feeling that creeps over you when certainty evaporates. The world no longer has any solid foundation.

But not all the crew members could keep a straight face. The driver caught someone laughing into his sleeve.

“You stinkin’ liars! I am so, near Tazerbo.”

The vibrator mechanic darted out of reach, but they had to kill a case of beer before the poor guy calmed down and agreed that the expressions on his face must have been priceless.