Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It’s been a hectic . . . whenever, but I managed to plant my backside to the seat long enough to write and post this.

Deadly Enterprise is now available as a Kindle edition on Amazon.com for their new Kindle E-Reader. It’s even at a new low price. Check it out at http://tinyurl.com/35rlrz (You wouldn’t want to see the full address at Amazon.) You can even find the links to learn about the Kindle on the page. Go and take a look – I’ll try to get a discussion about the book started on the page today.

The paperback Deadly Enterprise is also for sale at local stores (if you live near Pincher Creek or the Crowsnest Pass, where I do) and at The Sentry Box if you happen to be in Calgary. I had readings and book signings at the Pincher Creek and the Blairmore libraries last week. Lots of opportunity for me to talk, which people sometimes claim I can do more prolifically than writing. I’m surprised how little people know about e-books, POD books, and publishing in general, but they are always interested to learn.

OG 11

When I worked in the oilpatch I always enjoyed being away on my own with the equipment and information to complete my job – and with no need to call into the office every day. In fact, when the oil companies started hiring consultants to look after the work, who actually knew very little except setting up offices and having everyone waste working time reporting to them each morning, was when I decided to retire. I guess the idiocy of corporate office culture was bound to work its way down eventually.

These drones, who are the classic managers who manage because they’re not competent to do, seem to have weaseled their ways into the hierarchy by magnifying the issue of control problems over crews working in remote locations. Of course, if the managers in town were competent enough to hire good people and keep them, they’d have no control problems – so the whole thing comes down to incompetence feeding off incompetence.

Not that the oilpatch I worked in didn’t have its share of nitwits who could be counted on to give the clients headaches when they sent them out into the wild unknown – you know, anywhere beyond the city limits.

One ex-party manager, who shall be nameless, used to re-surface from the whiskey bottle periodically to hire on for a job that would contribute financing for his major career in life. He used to take on a post in whatever capacity the victim company happened to need. One time he took on a survey job in the Grande Prairie area and left the company lot with a survey pick-up, equipment, and maps with a promise to travel that day and start work in the morning.

The supervisors in the office seemed to have been fed a very favorable report of this guy’s work because they didn’t start to worry how things were going until they’d not heard from him at the end of the week. But they were soon able to find out for themselves – he came trotting into the office before five o’ clock, freshly shaved, bathed, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed , saying he was all ready to go to Grande Prairie whenever they needed him to leave.

One winter I moved onto a prospect where I was to take over from another guy working as cat-push – looking after the Cat dozers clearing the lines. Calgary office had sent me with instructions where to meet him, so that I could take all the approvals and maps from him and find out what had already been done. I was there to meet him but he never showed. I drove around exploring, looking at as much of the prospect as I knew about from what I’d heard, and didn’t see him all day. I went to a rig that was drilling in the area for our client and learned a bit more from the engineer – but none of this was as productive as having the proper paperwork.

I was just about to leave the prospect as darkness fell when the missing cat-push arrived – all spinning tires and roaring motor. Turned out he’d been in jail all day. “Just a little problem about unpaid traffic tickets,” he said.

The Mounties had stopped him for a routine highway check, and when running his license through the computer had set off enough bells and whistles for a slot machine jackpot. Apparently he’d missed a court appearance, and the law didn’t consider being away in the bush for three months sufficient excuse. After spending a night and most of the day with them they’d let him out with instructions to get back to the city and face the bench.

He left me the maps and approvals and set out to drive overnight. “Don’t get stopped on the way down,” I advised.

Not everybody was capable of finding their way to a remote jobsite from the map information and before GPS enabled any jackass to determine his location, some work would be carried out in the wrong place every winter. Sometimes the error would be a few hundred metres, and once I heard of a job that was shot in the wrong Province.

Some of the program maps the crew would set out with left a lot to be desired. The oil company geophysicist would be so obsessed with this new prospect he’d discovered that it never occurred to him that the surveyor needed a map with latitude and longitude, or at least township and range, marked. I’ve had scruffy scraps of paper handed to me that don’t indicate anything more than the surrounding work carried out previously by that company. Sorry, but I’m not privy to oil company secrets, will you tell me where this is, or must I guess from the name of the nearest town? I kept old program maps over the years and have some for $100,000 jobs that might have been located anywhere.

I know of one oil company that was sued for defamation by a professional engineer who had cut some seismic lines in the wrong place in northern BC. They had run him off and threatened to sue to recover the cost of the wasted work, so he countersued. His claim was that the information they’d provided was on inadequate maps and their action constituted an attack on his professional reputation. I also worked for that company and found their information packages one of the best in the industry – I never had a problem with my lines, but I guess I would have had to be out of my depth to really screw up. One has to wonder why he wasn’t working as an engineer.


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