October 30, 2005

This is a photo of my father in 1947. You can tell that I was cleaning up some old photos this weekend. Posted by Picasa

I was working for Exxon Synthetics at the time, and we were testing this roof bolter. Posted by Picasa

That is me on the right, operating a Tamrock (Through The Rock!) Automatic Roof Bolter in the Colony Oil Shale Mine. I think I was 23 years old. Posted by Picasa

October 26, 2005

Cool Weather in Houston

Fall seems to have arrived in Houston. For the past several evenings, the temperature has dropped down into the 40s! Yipes. That is just downright chilly. Luckily it still gets up into the 70s during the day, even the low 80s. I know that this cold snap won’t last forever, so it is fun to have to wear heavier clothes for a change.

I moved down to Houston in 1980. I was just out of school (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and had a job at Exxon Minerals. I was not unused to hot weather (My mother was from south Louisiana, and we visited there every summer when I was a child. Summers in South Louisiana, Winters in Wisconsin. Someone had quite a sense of humor) and do not mind it one bit.

The worst thing about those early days is that I had to wear a suit to work (no business casual, and no casual Fridays). AND I had a car with no air-conditioning. That first summer here was the hottest summer in Houston of all times. We had something like 20 days of +100 degree heat in a row. I learned how to sweat.

Since that time, I have lived in Houston or The Tropics with a brief excursion to Denver for a short year. I have become one with the heat, and while I am not foolish enough to say that I don’t like this cool weather, I really enjoy the summers.

October 18, 2005


Belloc once observed that "We sit by and watch the Barbarian, we tolerate him; in the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence, his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh, we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond: and on these faces there is no smile."

October 9, 2005

Cool Weather and Hot Oil Men

The first real cold front came through Houston on Friday. The weather is crisp and dry, and it got down into the 50s last night! Hard to believe. The Mighty Weather Station has once again proved its usefulness as we try to find out what to wear for our 5:30 AM walk.

The 50s! That is chilly. It is right now about 80, and I am sitting on the front porch typing (WiFi is a great thing) watching folks walk to the Greek Festival down the street. I have a nice glass of Matua Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (SB from NV, you can’t go wrong) and I am just enjoying the day.

A neighbor, who is an independent oil man, stopped by an hour or so ago to tell me that they will be selling their house and moving to River Oaks. Now, River Oaks is the hoitiest toitiest part of town, where even a fixer upper will command California prices (in total, not per square foot). It seems that literally his well has come in. One of his partners asked his wife if she would have a hard time spending $150,00 a month. And that was wnet natural gas prices were at $6/MCF. Now they are about double that. Yes, I think that he has it made.

This fellow is a real “Bet a Million” type oil man. He told me that a couple of years ago (in one of our many busts) he almost lost his house – the one he lives in now, down the street from me. He had to mortgage it for some deal or another, and it went bust. He narrowly missed having to move out to the suburbs.

So what I would guess is that he will move to River Oaks now, and maybe in a year or two he will be in the same position.

River Oaks has moved from being the province of Oil Men to the province of lawyers and doctors. Their income is a lot more stable, and they don’t bet the farm on the next patient or client. I think that we all lose something that way.

So here’s to the oil men who put their money where their mouth is. I don’t have the guts to do it, and I have only respect and admiration for them.

October 8, 2005

Why Blog?

It may come as no surprise to the few who read this blog, but I was very active in my High School newspaper. I had a column that reflected on the life at Appleton High School West. It was called 4% Pantomime, named after The Band song written by Van Morrison and Robbie Robertson. The song was about a poker game. I loved writing for that newspaper, and for a while even toyed with the idea of becoming a journalist.

So why these True Confessions? An old friend of mine was reading the blog this last week and suggested a topic – and that topic was “Why do people blog”? I started thinking about this, and of course, I can’t answer for all the millions of blogs clogging up the internet, but I can talk about mine.

I like to write, and having a forum like this makes it easy for me to pretend that I am publishing something important. It also lets me share interesting websites with close friends and family. I can occasionally come up with a clever bon mot, or an interesting question that I can’t answer.

SO why do I blog? I guess because I have interesting insights and opinions.

AND why do others blog? Because they are all blow hards.

October 6, 2005

Think like a dog

Do Dogs Think? - Owners assume their pet's brain works like their own. That's a big mistake. By Jon�Katz

Someone please tell me that this is a spoof site!

BBC - Press Office - George Bush on Elusive Peace


Has work replaced community as, well, community?

I am not really a very social person. I like time to myself, and as my lovely bride says (sometimes a bit too often) my ideal Saturday night is just spending time with her at home. We cook a good meal, we drink a nice bottle of wine, and that is about it. We have been together for almost nine years now, so we have passed through the limbic phase of the romance. But it is still my favorite evening, simple, calm, and relaxed.

So we don’t really spend a lot of time with our friends. We LIKE our friends, we really do, but after a long day at work, just sitting at home and being alone together is important to me.

But then who do you call when a crisis looms? In particular, when a force five hurricane is staring down your goozle, who do you want to keep in touch with?

Family, of course, and we did that. We spent a lot of time on the phone, and in text messages to local family members. Close friends, people we have known for years, and then work colleagues.

I wonder what happens when you leave a job abruptly. Someplace that you have worked at for a long time. Does it feel like you have been ripped out of relationship? Is it like you just got dumped? Can you no more control your emotions and do you want revenge so bad that you must physically be constrained?

I have no idea. But I wonder.