Relative Motion

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I think about life sometimes, especially as I age. How I arrived where I am and the many close calls that could have ended my walk. Like when I thought to tap the brakes on my old pickup a mere twinkling of an instant before another pickup blazed through a stop sign, inches in front of me. I didn’t see the other vehicle. I had no clue it was coming, but I remember thinking Tap the brakes! Tap the brakes! and wondering why at the same time. I often wonder if the other guy thought Hit the Gas! Hit the Gas!

Like the day I walked into a drilling superintendent’s office looking for a job and as we shook hands, his phone rang. It happened to be one of his drillers, my first to work for, looking for a man with a weak mind and a strong back. Go figure.

Like when I decided to visit an old friend one Sunday afternoon and he was having a party. Through a friend of a friend of another friend I met my wife. That was 29 years ago.

Looking back, weighing the evidence, the more I’m convinced of “by God’s design” than “by chance.”

Relative motion is the calculation of the movement of an object in relation to another moving object. Like cars approaching an intersection from different directions or traveling the same direction at different speeds—a football and a wide receiver, a baseball and an outfielder, aircraft, ships, planets and meteors, and you and me as we journey through life.

images-3Sometimes the twain shall meet. Sometimes not.

Anyone who uses a radar knows about relative motion. Another name for it is Hyper Physics.

We, you and me, are walking physics problems. Okay, wrong word. We’re calculations.

Once upon a time, a woman looked at me and said, “You have a problem!”

I politely said, “Thanks! I thought I had more than one.”

The Red Zone

100_0048The rig floor is called the RED ZONE now, and anyone caught treading into The Zone, who has not first notified the driller, signed the Permit to Work and the Task Based Risk Analysis (TBRA) gets canned. Deep water, where touchscreens and joysticks are the norm, the area is treated like a minefield.

Drillers and assistant drillers engage the equipment just like in times past, but before technology took over, unless ole Drill had a sudden tic and grabbed a lever by accident, the roughnecks weren’t at risk from a runaway tong.

I know of one occasion where the tera-dactal-bytes lost their collective minds and dropped a 100,000-pound, $10 million dollar top drive and traveling block onto the rig floor. Every red “Oh Crap!” button the driller could find to push didn’t stop that train wreck.100_0050

Another time, a computer tech sitting on his duff in Norway troubleshooting a software glitch managed to engage the drawworks and move 650,000 pounds of drilling assembly when we were making hole at 19,000’. That one was scary and begs to question what damage a hacker could reek because the rig was in the Gulf of Mexico.

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 6.53.10 AMI suppose the boys are lucky in some ways. Roughnecks dope pipe, pull slips and watch the equipment do most of the work. Oh, they still get dirty and sweaty and it takes as many men, more in some cases, than it did back when the work was done by hand.

When I worked floors, as we called the job in the olden days, I heard, “Get in there!”

Today, roughnecks hear, “Get out of there!”