NOTICE & FAIR WARNING: see the comment as to what the category “memory lane” is about. Weeks like this. mid-September 2012 I either have done NOTHING interesting enough to try to describe — or, more importantly, I lack the whatever-it-is to write interestingly enough to make even spending the whole day on the couch sound like fun. Or, if not ‘fun’, challenging? adventurous? intradimensional? i astrally projected to the planet Twiraun? Not hardly. And so,
while ruminating through the moldering swampy muck of “blorgs (I don’t “blog” — I “blorg”) of a by-(woe-be) gone era, I came across a barely-legible mini-diary of just one week. A week in May, 2007. I apologize for the length.
W E E K Y W E A K Y T W E A K Y mid-may (2007)
wiki-wiki: “quick” in Hawaiian. a quick week? seemingly timeless, at times, during.
(not the) SON OF THE DIVIDE CREEK SEEP
The phone rings just after noon and one of “my citizen informants in the field” (eyes and ears) tells me that there are “bubbles” coming up from the ground in a field which has just begun to be irrigated.
As the state’s regulatory commission’s representative, it was not only good, but incumbent, and necessary for me (for someone, anyone) to go check. Only 75- or so miles from the house, so not a long trip — compared to some trips (see Tuesday and Wednesday). Long (boring to most, but to those in the affected area, not boring) story summarized: it was only air.
Brief? background: a few years back, methane gas bubbles were observed in a nearby creek. This was determined to be gas escaping from the compromised wellbore of a gas well a mile or so away. So, local residents are rightfully wary.
GAME 7 OF THE STANLEY CUP FINALS
Not really. But for the two surviving teams in the local ice arena’s novice hockey league, this was it. For me, from a personally-biased perspective, the epitome of the tournament was game #2.
After playing a 12-game regular season, meeting each of the league’s other four teams three times each, the Bombers had levitated from last place to next-to-last during game 11. So, in the post-season tournament, we played the 3rd-place team first. The winning team got a first-round bye.
We lost that first game, and played the other ‘losers’ in our next game. The other team was the Firefighters (comprised mainly of fire department personnel). During our three regular-season meetings, we had gone exactly even — one win, one loss, and a tie. I felt my usual lack of confidence. No expectations.
I don’t remember much of the game, I played my normal lackluster uninspired usual — no embarrassing moments (that I remember), just mediocrity. In all the sporting activities I participate in, mediocrity is a step or more above the level I normally operate at.
We were tied 4 – 4 at the end of regulation. There was a 5-minute ‘golden goal’ (whoever scores first, wins) overtime period. Reinforcing my pessimism was that we started the period with TWO GUYS in the penalty box. (Actually, that turned out to be just one. The other team had a player with a penalty, so we started with four, and they had five).
I think I did all right. After the over-time, we were still, obviously, 4 – 4. However, proceed to the …
PENALTY SHOOT OUT. I’m just absolutely brimming with confidence here. Yeah, right. To streamline matters, there are three shooters for each team. Should keep it simple. Astonishingly, each goalie stops 2 out of 3. (‘Astonishingly’ when you consider who one of the goalies is). NOW, we proceed to just one-at-a-time. “Golden” goal — whoever scores and the other doesn’t in a given rotation, wins. I can’t remember when I’ve felt so much pressure. I stop opponent #4. So does the other goalie. Same for #5. And #6. I stop #7 … our #7 skater SCORES! Pandemonium erupts from our box — I’ve NEVER been a “sports hero” before! (If that had happened previously, I certainly don’t remember it.)
The fact that three of us brought beers into the locker room to share for the post-game sedation and hydration seemed, to me, a symbol of a pre-meditated resignation. Anticipation of the end of the season? Never-the-less, we were quite festive. “Still alive.” I don’t expect this to last long.
Game 3 of the double-elimination tournament: we play the team we lost to in Game 1. However, our elusive and rarely-available “ace in the hole” goalie shows up. He plays periods #1 and 3, and I play the middle. Amazingly, our team “gains ground” during my period (Bombers 3, Pioneers 2) and we live to play another day.
I continue to be un-optimistic about our chances — especially as the ‘ace’ goalie says he’s out of town for a few days. However, the goalie for the team we just beat hitches his wagon to our star, and shows up ready to help for game #4. Before the game I tell him he should play the first period, and I the second, and then decide who concludes. He does okay period #1, and I’m very nervous — I felt I had personally lost to the “Kegs” three times before — but I have a stellar period: (Bombers 3, Kegs 0) and am so relieved that I insist Bob finish the game. We prevail, 6 – 4.
Game #5 against the top-seeded Frozen Reservoir Dogs is the next day. I hadn’t been looking beyond the game at hand. This is too much, too soon. I had “signed up” to play hockey once a week, and the thought that five games in ten days is overwhelming. Besides, I had a prior engagement. (I could have postponed or re-arranged that, but I am “hockeyed” out — and besides, we have Bob (the walk-on goalie from the already eliminated team)). I tell Bob we’re lucky we have him as he’s “it” for the next game.
After our dinner with Andre — oops, my brother Chris and his date and daughter and friend, Betty and I hurry to catch the end of the game. The stands are more full than they usually are for “C” league games — maybe 30 or so people! We watch the third period and though it’s somewhat close, the Bombers are the better team. The final game is the following Monday.
Immediately I begin to get very nervous. I don’t think that, at the start of the tournament, any of the Bombers expected to “be here.” Of course I have to play, some. And, of course I’m worried that I won’t help the team. The possibility of the ‘ace in the hole’ goalie, Bob, and myself all showing up is somewhat amusing — we’d play one period each?
Unbeknownst to me, some of the Dogs complain to the Hockey Director about us using a player not on our roster. (It is highly possible, okay — probable, that the Dogs are hoping I’ll be the opposing goalie.) The Director decides to abide by their request, and I think he also decides to do something to make them wish they hadn’t complained.
We have a player on the roster who is not supposed to play goalie in the novice league. Rich’s goalie abilities are pretty good (he can do a “full butterfly” seemingly effortlessly. I think when I try to do that, it resembles an inflexible cocoon). He plays goalie in a more advanced league and is “supposed to play out on the ice” in our league. Rich is approached about being the Bombers goalie for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
When I told some people that “my team really wanted to win” that game — all of them knew what that meant. Minimize MY playing time. Of course I understood, but NO WAY I’m NOT going to play some.
Betty decides to go watch. As I show up, Rich has a ‘quirky’ look on his face. He talks to me in the locker room. Due to the other team’s complaint about the previous game, the hockey Director made the decision that we could use Rich as a goalie. I joke that perhaps I should play just the first and last minutes. We’ll see…
Things are, predictably, as ‘charged’ as you’d expect. More people in the stands, maybe 35, or more. I’m sitting glumly in our box. Glum because if the game is close, I might not get the chance to play. The score will have to be padded somewhat, in our favor (or a blow-out the other way) before I get out there. After two periods, we’re ahead 2 – 0. I’ve made up my mind to get out on the ice at the start of the 3rd period. It might be my only opportunity to get out there, even if only for a brief while. I tell Rich to quickly come out and replace me after the next (first) Dogs goal, or 5 minutes, whichever comes first.
Rich really is optimistic or faking it pretty well. “Try to last the whole period. Preserve the shut-out.” That hadn’t even occurred to me.
I make a few unspectacular saves, and 5 minutes have gone by before I know it. At 7 minutes the Dogs put in a sloppy goal I should have been able to stop. I hurry off before the mid-rink puck drop and Rich is back on.
With 4 minutes to go, we’re up 3 – 1 and Rich shouts at me to get back out there. Boy, is he really optimistic. I’m not ready — I can’t get my helmet on quickly, but the next time he shouts, I’m out there.
I last 10 seconds before the Dogs whip one in. Rich comments that that puck would have got past him — but I’m skating off quickly and he’s back on. Although the Dogs apparently scored once or twice (called back due to infractions) and they’ve replaced their goalie with a 6th skater — the 3 – 2 holds up as the buzzer sounds. We are ‘C’ league champions, again.
START OF THE ANNUAL RANGELY INJECTION WELL INSPECTION
Or — the annual flirtation with the seemingly inevitable packer fluid shower.
I’ve managed a project for my employer for a few years now — that of the annual EPA-mandated inspections and tests of all oil and gas wells intended to inject ‘stuff’ BACK into the ground — not those which are designed to extract stuff FROM beneath the surface. For the first day of field tests, I was asked to take the new trainee engineer along.
This is as good a time as any to bring out the lamp of “The old Litany of Why I (& People ‘Like Me’) Can’t Get Promoted and/or Get A Better Job” and rub it three times so the Gnome of Doom can pop out and piss (or poop) all over me, and anyone else who is in the vicinity.
Years ago, circling around in the seemingly never-ending downward spiral of languid fetid backwater at the Department of Energy office, I was discussing job inertia with two of my ‘mates.’ Each of us was approximately the same age, had similar experience and knowledge, and was consistently denied promotions and career advancement opportunities. The Litany practically wrote itself. We decided that often we would apply for a job, and be considered qualified enough to be interviewed. The other candidates for whatever position were just as qualified as each of us, but there were a few minor differences. They were BETTER-LOOKING, SMARTER, YOUNGER, LESS OF AN ATTITUDE PROBLEM, HEALTHIER (less of a drain on the health plan), FIT SOME RACIAL/SEX/E E O DEMOGRAPHIC (the D.O.E. got “more points” when it hired minorities, women, disabled — nothing wrong with that . Consider, when you’re equally qualified as someone else who will make the DOE EEO program “look good” — well, you’re S O L.) AND WILLING TO WORK HARDER FOR LESS MONEY — each of us had just as much chance of getting the job as did these others. And so here we were. Three of us, feet up on the desk, smoking (yes, we were all smokers — and I’ll bet if the DOE was aware of that, we would score even lower), the light bulb of illumination and enlightenment turning on as we jointly arrived at this discovery. It’s been one of my mantras ever since.
Anyhow, the “new guy” got the promotion I had been encouraged by my boss to apply for. I was interviewed. Not made to feel too much like I was looking for a job as a village idiot in a series of villages all of which already had one. But limbo, none-the-less. Apparently the muck-heads at the Denver office didn’t like the candidates they had ended up with, and continued the job search until this 22-year-old crossed their radar. Bingo. I could be his grandfather. I have been becoming increasingly disgruntled about this job for a couple years now. What is “beyond” disgruntled? Well, I’m there — ‘beyond’ — and might try to describe THAT, later.
New trainee engineer meets me early in the morning (he’s a few minutes late) and we drive in my vehicle the almost two-hour trip to Rangely. I’m civil. Try to be pleasant. Informative. I’m fairly sure he has no idea that he took “my promotion.” Better that way.
We arrive at the Chevron office and the next hour is spent talking and getting the paperwork in order and renewing all my acquaintances. In a few years they might be HIS acquaintances, as well.
We test about twenty wells (I’ll spare you the exciting details) and I end up, as usual, trying to help with the manual labor. And I get slightly sprayed from the pressurized wellbore “packer fluid.” Happens every year. I don’t know what the stuff is, but it is a preservative oily lubricating fluid which inhibits corrosion in the piping, thousands of feet below the ground. It has a penetrating odor as well.
New trainee has nice new clothes on — and I suspect he will wear older ones in the future. But he does try to help with the cleaner aspects of the job — there is a bit of repetitive paperwork. We finish earlier than I expected, stop at Subway and drive home, chatting amiably.
He knows what I mean when I say “last night my team REALLY wanted to win.” I have no sense, no feel, for how he’ll take to this job. He’ll come back up with the other inspectors to do more well inspections the day after tomorrow. I would have come back up, but the job I had scheduled tomorrow might go two days.
WATCHING CEMENT BEING POURED DOWN AN ABANDONED WELL, during which (not at all related?) — BETTY’S MOM DEMISES
I’ve been trying to manage another project — to clean up a leaky abandoned oil well in an otherwise quiet clean (clean? because it’s windswept) subdivision a mile or so outside of Craig. I wake up about an hour earlier than the previous day as I’m to meet the subcontractors at about 8, and have 155 miles to drive. I figure if I live through this day, I’ll coast for a while.
This phase of the reclamation involves the actual well itself. We are to plug (“and abandon”) it. Yeah, we rarely, if ever, just “plug” a well — we plug AND abandon it.
The crew comes up in three vehicles — the wireline truck, a somewhat large truck pulling a trailer with materials and equipment, and a regular pick-up truck. There are four of them, and when one of them jokes that their company is “Cowboy Wireline” I recognize him as the former produce manager at the grocery I go to. We talked one day about what to do with vegetables and fruit the store has to toss. Alas, he couldn’t just give it away…
The work is not without “the usual” deviations and slight mishaps. If the cement truck they hired had delivered the expected five cubic yards — that should have been more than enough, and we would have finished a couple hours earlier. As it was, the local cement truck drove away, and we (gu)estimated that we had 60 or so feet of 9-inch pipe to fill. So, we hand-mixed and dumped, and mixed and poured some more, perhaps a couple cubic feet at a time. I was starting to get a little pessimistic. They had run out of gas for the mixer, and would need more water soon. Two guys were sent to town in the pick-up. The two guys remaining and I kept at it — and finally we dumped enough cement (and the occasional miscellaneous piece of metal and piping. I left to go look for more metal pieces and noticed that a 4 x 4 piece of wood lying nearby had disappeared when I returned. Hmmm…) to reach the surface. I hope we’re done with phase two.
In many, most, all? things I do, I rarely am certain a job is done. I hope it is done — as something seemingly always happens to render things I thought ‘complete’ … not. I did visually verify that the well was full to the surface with cement. When we get around to the ‘dirt-work’ and contouring and removing rusted metal oilfield junk and verifying that all the oil-contaminated soils are remediated, THEN we’ll be totally done. Well, not completely. We still have to re-vegetate the site, and waiting for the plants to establish might take more than one growing season.
Betty calls at about 4:30, leaving the message that her mom had just died. I was leaving just then, all the more reason to buy beer for the trip home.
THINGS BECOME MUCH SIMPLER
I wrote a letter to my daughter, accompanying a copy of a short story I’d written (entitled “In The Belly of The Beast” — about a one-game “hockey adventure”).
ROOTSCH (‘n Ben. Rachel: can Ben read? Is this reading? I mean, philosophically, can this be “read”? Do we ever REALLY “know” anybody? Do we know ourselves? Is “knowing” like the struxure of the atom — you know — 99.999…% empty space? Is …)
You said you couldn’t download. So here is …
I’m mulling (W-T-F is “mulling” anyhow?) about writing a few things. Our weird whacky/WACKY? but ultimately TRIUMPHANT hockey season. how I contributed GREATLY to the world’s religions by the insight that there is a BIG BULBOUS IN THE SKY which is
i n f i n i t e l y bulbous.
& other stuff.
I’m staying away from werk — &, Dennis T called to ask me to show up at “a venue” to play the annual nashunull anthem. how can any mediocre wanna-be musician pass THAT up? –> you have a captive audience of many hundreds who HAVE TO BE QUIET & then applaud afterwards, no matter how bad you played?!
So I’ll do that, and derive Dee to the hairport Satyrday and, having lived that long, coalesce, as it were (like an amoeba?) & slither into the rest of my life. as it appears. at that time.
Up until yesterday it seemed things were a bit complicated. With yesterday’s news it’s like everything was pushed over the edge. Beyond complicated. Things are much more simple now. I’m tottering on, an hour at a time.
I hadn’t dwelt nor planned nor considered Betty’s mom ever dying. We joked that as a nasty old feces, she’d stay alive mainly out of spite, for years. Betty would remind me occasionally that we’d (well, she) stand to inherit enough proceeds to possibly retire, or at least ‘throttle back’ a bit. On the drive home I’m considering giving my notice to my employer. Letting one person in particular know that I feel insulted by the recent new hire. Might have been the beer fumigating/ruminating.
THE MEDIOCRE MUSICIAN HAS A CAPTIVE AUDIENCE
But i was grumpy anyway. I am somewhat particular in how i play the national anthem (the U.S.’, of course). Today that order and preparation and etc. was altered and not by me.
I informed my supervisor as to Betty’s recent news, and to his and the “company”s credit, it seems I am off-limits re: work calls and such — for a few days. Actually, they pretty much leave me alone for another week.
A few days ago I requested some time off today. This was, of course, prior to Wednesday’s news. I was asked to help at a high school sporting event — including playing the national anthem.
(Above: two of my implements of evil, or auditory destruxion — and my son’s 6th-Place-at-State-Discus-Medal, and a Plaque awarded my daughter for yet another school record (800-meters) )
THE MEDIOCRE MUSICIAN DOES HIS SHOW THE WAY HE LIKES IT, after which BETTY FLIES OFF to help settle the estate?
How do I like to do the show? Without anyone announcing in advance what is to come (the Announcer did THAT yesterday), — I just grab the mike and play a few bars of the bluesiest stuff I can do. THAT usually gets “their” attention — especially as one never expects the Spanish Inquisition! Then I say “Ladies and gentlemen, now that I have your attention, will you please stand for the national anthem.” I then play it ‘straight’ — the song is difficult for this mediocre harmonica player without embellishments. And, as I conclude, the audience applauds. (Relieved that it’s over?). The event is a high school track (and field) meet — the biggest each year in this half of the state. Perhaps 4 or 5 dozen schools, with several hundred in attendance. How can any mediocre musician pass that up?
I then helped set up and take down hurdles, and monitored one corner of a relay. Then home to drive Betty to the airport.
We won’t begin to know until at least TOMORROW (after this particular week) as to how this is going to shape up. But Betty’s focus on the matter at hand seems to have shifted to curbing her greedy sister’s evil plans.
Betty was as close to her mother as anyone. It is imperative that she go out — as soon as she could. She called whatever airline right after the news on Wednesday — expecting whoever to conscientiously abide by the “medical emergency” request. How soon could she get out? Saturday at noon was the soonest they could arrange.
She and siblings will arrange funeral/memorial services (her mom will be cremated); start to wade through the spaghetti-bowl of stocks/bonds/funds/ etc.; and just do what close family members should do.
The movie ends in a fade out. Cut to turbulent seas crashing onto a rocky shore. Brooding dark overcast sky overhead …
“GAME 7 OF THE STANLEY CUP FINALS…Not really.” This made me laugh out loud. Should I call you Patrick Roi? (Are you an Avalanche fan?)
That was some week you had! I like your use of “demises” – you don’t see that a lot. Also, your cat rules.
Man. Cats love baskets. And boxes. And getting inside things in general.
I feel your pain on the promotion front. Really, I do. I trained my current supervisor, in fact. Everyone talks about what a good job she does; and she really does, she’s great. She was obviously very, very well trained. Plus she has the benefit of having a highly experienced, competent and unbearably handsome right hand man to assist. Who may or may not be me.
Congrats on the hockey win, though. And for not collapsing in terror playing in front of an audience like that, as I would have.