Howdy! 'Long-time no see'! Don't you find it rather humorous, then, that I get to provide 'The Faces of GSN' article this month, as many of you won't know my face, then or now. Some of you will recognize the 'then' face, but maybe not the 'now' one. The attached pictures should 'solve the mystery'!
My career has followed a rather different path from most of all y'all, yet I have remained a member of GSN, since 'the good ol' days'! Don't get me wrong, my days are still good, just different.
Back in 'the good ol' days', some thought of me as 'Happy Days Diminy' reincarnate: 'Alice was her name, but her many friends and acquaintances knew her only as Happy Days - one of a number of female prospectors who abandoned home, family and other civilized amenities for the uncertainties of life in the mining camps of central Nevada around the turn of the century'. I must admit, I resembled those remarks, then!
That was then (starting in earnest in 1981). For my 'since then' (I moved to the 'oil patch' and beyond, starting in 1992), all y'all can log onto LinkedIn and see where I have been (Wild-Wild West, Gulf Coast USA, Nigeria, New Zealand, Australia, UK (working North Africa), Oman, Bahrain…) and what I have been up to (Exploration, Environmental, Risk, Health & Safety, Compliance, Auditing, Maths Teaching (yes, 'Maths'), Editing and Proofreading…), and that I have been 'round the block' (giggle) a few times with quite a variety of companies (mining, oil and gas, quarrying, manufacturing, waste management, secondary education). Would you believe I still use my 'geology learnings' pretty much every day?
As I look back, I now consider my work to have been the enabler for my experiences - my stories. Have I lived to work or worked to live? I will let you be the judge of that after having read the following:
-Always befriend a 'Mountain Man' by the name of Beaver, when working on national forest ground where they grow lots of weed(s). Not a good idea to bring in a rig, during harvest time.
-Drive an old Ford Bronco, with crap tires, from Houston, Texas, to Tuscarora, Nevada. Try to get there in 3 days! Carry only 2 crap spares and have 3 flat tires. Have 'Purchasing' tell you that you can only buy preferred supplier 'big name' tires. Reiterate to 'Purchasing' that you are in the middle of nowhere's-ville (near Tucumcari?) with a huge weather front moving through. (Moral of the story? Take care of your pony and your pony will take care of you.)
-Remember that a buckaroo is a buckaroo and not a cowboy! (Verified by the Cowboy Museum in OK City!) Never go to the local watering hole on the day these guys get paid. If you do, park on the highest part of the property (preferably next to a dead sheep) to sleep it off the next day. Keep the 2-way radio turned way up in case 'boss-man' shows up.
-Make sure you know how to read 'No Trespassing' in Basque. Do not get a flat tire, up in the hills, in the vicinity of a Basque shepherd's summer 'gypsy' wagon, unless you can handle the smell and the red wine. (Love that picon punch though and those 'filter organs' always served as appetizers at the local Basque restaurant!)
-Rip and re-seed temporary drilling roads only while standing on the back rippers of a D-8 CAT with the wind blowing a gale, the seed flying who knows where, and the snow starting to pile up. Skinners must be capable of making 360° 'snow donuts'. (Should be a competency required in all contracts.)
-Consult with a lawyer to ensure that your field partner cannot put a lien on your real home because of the amount of time spent co-habitating in the field under the same roof! Ply this person with heaps of alcohol and make him listen to songs with what he thinks to be 'drug lyrics' (inside joke) on the flight back home, and then convince him to sign the papers on the 'dotted line'.
-Beware the field summer hand that likes to have parties in the rented field accommodation on your days off, forgets to clean up and then never shows up again for work! (Why does 'Pet Shop Boy's' music come to mind?)
-Learn to map, mentored by only the best x-Anaconda geo. Brief: create a geologic map with topography. Use: 2 range-finders, a photo stand (sprayed fluorescent orange), flagging and book of 'Standard Field Tables'. Must have really steep terrain. Close your daily traverse loop with an error of no more than 5'. (If >5', go back, find your mistake - do not pass GO, do not collect $200!) Mapping (and camping out) must continue for at least 2 months (during tarantula migration). I learned so much! Go to town, crossing the creek 35 times, every 10 days for a steak and a shower. Keep your favourite 'landman's' phone number on speed dial in case the irate landowner sticks his hand through a glass door at the local country store. Dietary requirement - 1 can of asparagus/day. (Paleo ain't got nothin' on this diet, but 2 months of liver and onions, night after night, in a Tonopah casino just might!)
-Sample new growth on balsam fir trees, traversing up and down rutted, muddy, logging roads in the Northern Peninsula of Michigan in the spring. Rent a 'low-rider' sedan so your 'quads' get a better work out, hopping in and out of the car every ¼ mile. Run the car through the car wash more than once (don't forget the undercarriage) before returning. Tie the front bumper back on with orange flagging. Park car against a wall. After such an experience, always keep biochem in mind as a prospecting tool. It is brilliant at finding where the old tram line went, dumping ore all the way up and down the hill.
-Know the bell sequencing to the hoistman for the inclined man-cage as you don't want to be dropped off at a flooded level in the old part of the mine. (Note: Hoistman's wives make great babysitters when working underground!)
-Know when you are being shot at when working out of a helicopter, north of Vegas, in an old mining district. Tell the local Sheriff, who will not care, but you might just get a free cup of coffee for your time.
-Drive all night to get a part for the rig's water pump, so that the company does not have to buy pipe! (Sure wish I had Roy Orbison's 2017 version (with the Royal Philharmonic) of 'I Drove All Night' back then when driving THE I-80!) Do not let the drilling crew feed bologna and pipe dope sandwiches to your summer hire's dog in your absence.
-Volunteer (or be volunteered) to sit the rig on the side of a mountain, the week before Christmas, in the freezing desert, where the wind blows as cold as ice and the pipe gets stuck in the hole and the sheriff comes to visit as he sees the rig's lights at night and thinks we are running a meth lab (or whatever) and the driller has a Utah driver's license and the driller's pickup has Nevada plates and the rig comes out of California and we all are questioned to the hilt…and no, no one ended up in jail…but almost!
-Pay attention to the wild ponies who are running like 'bats outta hell' when driving back to Hawthorne. Check the news for the occurrence of a BIG earthquake some place like San Fran.
-Assist the local health centre, near Fallon, by retrieving a severed finger left in the baling machine. Take a little bag of ice with you in which to put the finger.
-Ensure that you have had 'media-communications' training before answering the phone, with a Canadian 'mining rag' journalist on the other end of the line, telling them that there 'ain't diddly squat' on 'that thar' property! (I have no idea how the company lawyers sorted this one out!)
-Always get in the vehicle and lock the door when the local 'tribal youth' (of Nigeria), start to separate you from the rest of your group when trying to assess and remediate an old oil spill from Biafra days. (Ha! What will a locked door do for ya?) Suspect foul play when the same 'tribal youth' laugh their guts out when you are looking down into several shallow sampling bore holes and are wondering why you see movement. The North Koreans are NOT the only ones full of worms!
-Do not proceed if you are told: 'bad juju madam' and there are all sorts of weird things hanging from the trees in the jungle. Do not land the helicopter if the 'navy-man' is not waving the white flag at the oil terminal. Do not let the locals take the cages for the bags from the recently burned down baghouse to the TDU to use in the repair of their community jungle roads. Do not proceed down the river to the oil terminal in boats that lose both engines and whose radio craps out (all on the same trip) while sand dredging hoses block the entire width of the river. I think the term is: 'sitting duck'. If you are lucky, you will have some 'heads' on the boat with you as company, being taken down river to be buried with some chief. Take death threats seriously when uncovering corruption activities. (Just get outta of Dodge!)
-Blessed be KLM airlines that fly your children all over the world. Blessed be the lepers who sit with you outside the Lagos airport and cry with you tears of sadness (if they can cry) as you wave goodbye to your children and who again sit with you, outside the Lagos airport, and clap for joy with hands (missing a few fingers) and cry with you tears of joy (if they can cry) upon the return of the KLM plane and your children. (We do not know how lucky we are!)
-Learn the hierarchy on the drilling/production rigs/platforms. Know that exploration and production are not kissing cousins, but are more like the Wallabies vs. the All Blacks at rugby or Pakistan vs India at cricket! Go to those platforms more than 5 times so that you can experience helicopter ditch (into water) training. Tell the guy next to you that you will be bowling over him and out the window like a runaway freight train if he doesn't move fast enough! If you get stuck on an offshore floating production and offloading vessel because of weather, make sure you pick a room that has a flare, serving as your night light!
-Do not let operators walk up to machinery with moving and rotating parts and stick their fingers in. Electrical safeguarding is a wonderful concept, as is Lock-Out Tag Out for those maintenance men who like to get caught up in conveyor belt systems!
-When quarrying, try not to move the overburden twice, and when you are done quarrying, try not to fill up the old quarry with TRASH. And if ya do, get ready for the gas. And if you get the gas, run a HAZOP on your gas processing/electricity generation facility, so that employees do not park right next to the inlet manifold. And when it is reclamation/rehabilitation time, convince the environmental engineers to tell management that it is going to cost 200-400M more dollars than the consultant first estimated (or else). (Pumping leachate and groundwater for years and years and years costs a few bob! Oh, but I have a better idea - GW exclusion zones…)
-Convince management (or else) that it is illegal to provide destruction documents to clients for the treatment of their hazardous waste when it still sits in drums in warehouses all over the city, eating thorough the metal bottoms and leaking into the ground!
-Pray that you are not on the Crisis Management Team when it is activated after a call from the North African desert, saying that terrorists have just stormed the gas plant, and that company personnel have been lost, some tied to production vessels and blown up.
-Try not to investigate fatalities. It is just too sad.
-Remember what Mohammed said: 'Secure the camel…and praise Allah'…and inshalla, the camel will still be there in the morning! (So why don't these people put their kids in seatbelts?)
-Take time to run a few marathons, cycle a few 100 mile races, swim some really long boring distances too!
So yes, I have worked to LIVE. Rowing/sculling is my latest passion now which has taken me to various countries to compete at the Master's Level: Italy, UK, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and most recently Slovenia and the UAE. The kids got me into it. (Kids are doing GREAT, by the way, as is the KIWI chemical engineering husband of 20years!) I ain't too bad for an OLD lady rower, having won gold at the international level. I do need to tell you, though - I am NOT OLD! How about you? I think it is time for you to tell your stories!
In closing - 'Dally tight' and remember what Job would say (hey, that dude was a really tall guy, based on the size of his tomb in Oman): 'speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee'! Kind regards, Martha J. DeLong