Sunday, October 28, 2012

Welcome Home

Any tale that begins with, "I met an older Mexican guy at a park...and..." will definitely end in weirdness. My Saturday was no exception as I was cleaning out my van and an older Mexican man asked what my moped was. I gave him the tale of my 1974 Vespa Ciao that I bought in a basket in California and restored and tried to give away or sell and then fixed and took to Mexico and rode around with leaking piston slap to teach English to Palapa kids and then took across the country in my van etc etc...but, I said, I'm really looking for an apartment. Oh, he knows a guy renting an apartment. So I get in his van and off we go...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tree City

Main Street Uvalde (misleading because it's actually a busy town)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

See Me Now

Here's a mirror image I see every day and it doesn't take 20/20 vision to know what a hypocrite looks like. Conventional Wisdom leads to events like the holocaust. And in the years of trying to get involved with alternative energy I've resisted because despite what the hippies say the solar power comes at great cost and is most often used in military and oil related fields. You think the Humboldt pot growers use only solar power to grow their $100K harvest? You want to rely on Norcal sunshine to guarantee your payday? No, they use gas and diesel power generators....

Monday, October 22, 2012

Universitas Litterarum

"Each Castalian Institution and each Castalian should know only two ideals: to achieve the utmost possible perfection in his subject, and to keep both his Faculty and himself, living and elastic, so that he may know himself to be permanently bound to all other subjects and inwardly on good terms with all of them. This second ideal, the idea of the inner unity of all intellectual human effort, the thought of universality, has its perfect expression in our illustrious Game.
The physician, the musical historian or whatever teacher you like may at times display a stern and ascetic perseverance in his own subject and renounce the thought of a universal culture in favor of the special high achievement of the moment: but we- we bead players- whatever we do, must never approve and practice this limitation and self-sufficiency, for it is our definite task to preserve the idea of a Universitas Litterarum and its highest expression, the noble Game, and ever and again to rescue it from the inclination of the individual Faculties towards self-sufficiency."
From the Glass Bead Game
Hermann Hesse

Uncle Sam Mordida

It turns out McDonalds has a strong signal and I can sit in my van by the river and blog a bit before turning in for the night.
 I don't know how to say this without it sounding like a complaint, but this check I received on Friday was obviously the largest check I'd ever been paid. I don't want to give specifics but let me say that between Federal Withholding,  Social Security and Medicare tax the government took out $600 in one week. You can figure it out from there what they left me with. I'm satisfied with the remainder but if folks want to question what I contribute to the conventional social fabric of America then they will be wise to remember that I contribute about 400% more than they do right now so they should keep their mouths shut tightly on their crooked tongues. I literally made in one hour what it took 11 hours of grinding abuse moving port-o-potties in the heat of Austin to make. It's like I'm being paid back for my lettuce picking days. That's all I have to say.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Be Back in 10 Minutes

I've been able to write infrequent notes hinting at my status because the man-camp my company has set me up in has internet access and I've kept my laptop computer running with copper watch parts and hair pins and mutilated soldering tips. But that is about to change and with 72 hour work weeks and likely interruption in the lackadaisical lifestyle Oggy is accustomed to living with Jazz guitar and philosophic ponderings and futile longing for love and friendship, I want to prepare everyone for a delay in updates. I'm sure the next mistake I make will be my last with the company and I guess I get what I deserve for not catching on to the protocol. It isn't the job itself, which I could do myself, but it's fitting into a team under my own assertion of will. What the younger generation lacks in self reflection and universality, they make up for with eager aggressiveness to make a buck...even if it means doing something wrong as long as they do it faster than you...and as long as they ignore any long term impacts of their activity. Bravo, philosophy is dead.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Heart of America

"Smell that?"

There were 9 of us waiting for a guy taking a shit at a gas station bathroom. That bowel movement probably cost the company $150 but there was nothing that could be done. It just happened that we surpassed 40 hours for the week on Thursday Morning as the guy was in the bathroom and I had nothing to do but reflect on the insanity of that situation since not long ago I was sitting at an outdoor street ministry where kindly Texan seniors and teenagers with big acne grins forked potato salad onto styrofoam plates for the homeless and destitute of Flour Bluff. I had less than no money since I had actually spent everything to stay alive and was buying yoghurt and bananas with my credit card at 12% interest. My breakfast was financed by my bank....cereal on layaway. Each job I looked at seemed like death to me with a dead end and gray hair with no future and no past. I may as well smuggle illegal immigrants or become a pimp than change oil in a dirty cellar. Instead I got a job at a trailer park that paid enough for me to throw every penny at my credit card debt. I'd stare at my $60 cowboy hat and dusty bongo drums and really curse my bad choice in  cars and jobs and purchases. My priorities might make for entertaining reading before returning to your casual existence but let me tell you that my life has been completely out of touch with reality for a long time and my mailbox hasn't exactly been overflowing with support. Two roads were diverged in a wood and while I was deciding which path to take a mule train hauling toxic waste ran my skinny ass over.

Each night the police would shine their flashlights in my sweating, haggard face, patting down my bony hips for weapons. My crime was poverty. The one devout Christian I met, a woman who had a television playing fire and brimstone, Jesus is coming soon, daytime ministry all day long, was offended when I used the break room refrigerator to store my food for the next 5 days of she fired me from the trailer park gig. My policy of wandering the country with long hair and sandals preaching peace and simplicity whenever two were gathered in my name was abhorrent to her and she was equally blind to the blatant contradiction. The lady with multiple personalities never called me back to ask me what I did with her rotten toilet scrubber.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rotten Eggs

I smell like Hydrogen Sulfide. And the evil irony of my blighted morals is that we installed two 90 watt solar panels today that will power the electronic units we also installed. And this is the chicken bone that has me choking in the night on my own self-loathing: even clean energy aids and abets the enemy. Perforating trucks split layers of earth and then inject fine engineered sand into the layers, and then a gel of mysterious properties...and this technique allows oil to seep through the sand to the horizontally drilled suction tubes. That's if the Louisiana pipe fitters didn't try to foolishly pass someone on a double yellow line and wind up with a steering wheel as a necklace.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Explosions in the Distance

We were troubleshooting our work at the last pad (someone switched red and black wires) when way off in the distance came a low rumbling explosion. Thunder? No, it was 95 degrees and slightly cloudy. Demolition? Not advisable near Hydrogen Sulfide tanks. It sounded maybe ten miles away but a day later the rumors were confirmed that an oil rig had exploded.

Two Injured in Oil Rig Accident

Two people are injured in an oil rig accident just east of Laredo. It happened in Ranchito, Las Lomas, about 15 miles east of Laredo, on Highway 59. One of the men injured was pierced in the abdomen by a pipe. The other was hit in the back. An AIR Vac helicopter was at the scene ready to transport patients. The two men, however, were taken by ambulance to area hospitals; one to Laredo, the other to Corpus Christi. Sheriffs deputies were on the scene, along with the Webb County Fire Department. We still do now know what caused the accident. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tools of the Trade

H2S sensor

This is required PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) along with my hard hat and safety goggles and steel toe boots and flame resistant clothing. It monitors the H2S level in the air and I wear it on my shirt. 10ppm is the level we can work at for 8 hours with no effect. 15 ppm is only acceptable for 15 minute intervals. 100 ppm will leave you dizzy and sick. 600 ppm will kill you by crystallizing your lungs in a second. The wells I have been frequenting are either "closed in" or not pumping and have no risk...or are pumping and have the potential for 7000-11000 ppm. I say potential because the gas is contained in the tanks and a pipeline although there is always a residual smell of rotten eggs which is a characteristic of H2S. I have no idea where the pipeline goes.

The gas flares near all the pumping wells are excess H2S being burned off. I'm not completely up to speed on the engineering and containment of the gas but I know it is present in the tanks and pipeline and could vent at any time into a deadly gas cloud. That's what the safety personnel are for. We watch the wind socks to give us an idea of which way to run if an alarm should go off. You run upwind and hold your breath. If someone falls then you find 2 emergency air packs and then go back to get them. I hope that doesn't happen.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Torque Screwdriver

Question: What kind of a person would shop for a $240 torque screwdriver?
Answer: A rich one.

We used one of these screwdrivers at my semi-conductor cable harness gig. The screws on the power supply connector required 12lbs of torque and hearing that indicator click was like an orgasm to my engineering personality. I vowed if I could ever afford one I would get one not because I need it (how many screws come with torque specs?) but because the thing is a work of mechanical engineering art and it's the best screwdriver I've ever used. King Arthur has his Excalibur; I have a torquing screwdriver.
And if you think this is a frivolous purchase you should see what other people are buying. My coworkers wonder how I can be so frugal.

American Made

I asked for the "Top Gun" haircut and that's what I got.
The next thing you know I'll be trading in the van for a 2013 Super Duty Diesel truck with 18'' rims and a sticker on the back that says "Oil Field Trash And Proud Of It"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Peasant Sly Confinement

Worn universality from broken EGR valves and grease and philosophy
"...Well, the people of the outside world were no less proud of their bad manners, of their lack of culture and coarse vulgar humor, their peasant-sly confinement to practical, selfish aims, so that they appeared no less precious, sanctimonious and eclectic in their narrow-minded naturalness than the most affected Waldzellian prize scholar."
Plinio to Joseph when he confesses that his criticism of the monastic, reflective, ponderous, Castalian Life was premature.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Know Why The Pregnant Robot Got An Abortion

See, the real world doesn't correspond to my style of blogging and I think that's what Mr. Pregnant Robot determined also and went into retirement. I reflect on today and it's not so much a blur, but it's character-less and lacks anecdotes and many details were banished from my mind to be replaced by actual job skills. I've never seen a spring bolt before but now I know how to instal them with the wrong side up. In fact, the grave seriousness of the situation has almost deactivated my entire mechanism for remembering and notating anecdotes. I trained myself over years to concentrate on details and read people in order to get the story behind the story. That wasn't a gift but something I cultivated by sacrificing any acceptable level of production and job ethic. Go ahead, blame the fall of the economy on me. I decided that if I wanted to be Hermann Hesse or John Steinbeck then I would have to live a fairly unconventional life and also I would have to pay complete attention to everything except what I was paid to be doing. I would catalog smells and sights and sounds and locations and all the details that must be included in a story. Work? Oh, I'd get to it eventually.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

World And Sprit Sublimate

A theme throughout the works of Hermann Hesse is the opposed conditions of the spiritual life within pondering penitents in monasteries and the worldly life among politicians and soldiers and peasant wood carvers and club footed children. I will give you a passage from the glass bead game where Joseph reflects on his friendship with another student...

"The antithesis: world and spirit--or rather, the antithesis: Plinio and Joseph - had sublimated itself before my eyes into an harmony out of the struggle between two irreconcilable principles."

I'm Fine. How Are You?

Many mysteries were revealed in my first day at work. It's like all the practical projects I've been involved in for the last few years have culminated in making me custom fit for a job in hydro-fracturing and gas recovery. How did that work out? Because I'm an assembly fiend who also likes standardized installations. But philosophically I'm torn. I like difficult jobs where I can think about other things and in a few weeks this will be one of them.

It is sort of like being an astronaut because if you break down the duties of an astronaut then it's basically.
Step 1) Hold on for dear life.
Step 2) check instruments
Step 3) move a toggle switch back and forth
Step 4) walk around on moon
Step 5) Aim For Earth

I mean, really, does that sound so hard?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Early To Rise

Not a time that I like to see a lot but will seem routine in 1 week.

Before Work

After Work

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Poet and The Spider

Oggy trying to express his individuality
 Some parts of the blog are made up and some I wish I made up and some parts I couldn't make up if I tried. I'm not sure which category this past week belongs to but it is worth noting that I am officially registered at this Man Town logistics field hotel and am actively employed by a billion dollar energy company. I feel like an imposter but I could have been lured by sweet fiscal aroma into a web of destruction...

Lap of Luxury

This past week might go down in history as "Greatest Turn of Fortunes Ever" because I started it out ankle deep in Pontiac Firebird misery and depression and financial woes and I ended it with a total spend thrift attitude maxing out credit cards and taking loans out on your children's future earth all on a roll of the dice that something would work out and I could keep the van running and my arthritis under control and my self loathing below OSHA specs...and now I'm in a leather seat with free drinks and snack mix in luxury per diem expense account insanity in a billion dollar industry and three free meals and an air conditioned private room on a battleship watching 3D cartoon reenactments of my own life in peyote butterfly visions. I literally made $0 at that fucked up garage and I sweated on that Pontiac and that Chevy and BMW and a Narc Car and a honda gold wing for 3 weeks, doing probably $4000 worth of work. How fucked up is that? But the reversal has been dramatic as I'm buying $250 fire resistant pants and dreaming of exactly what custom wood working scrolling I want on the neck of my $3000 guitar. Exactly who do I want to dedicate this instrument to? I really can think of only one person. But that's all star gazing of a kid who wants to fly to the moon on his stuffed Pegasus.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Make or Break

What have I gotten myself into? This is seriously rolling the dice and I don't know if I want to win or lose. I'm scared and stressed and in pain and it's hot and the world is mad place right now. I'd heard rumors of what was happening in Nebraska and North Dakota and Texas and now I've seen it with my own eyes and I'm scared and I haven't even gotten dirty yet. We don't even know what's going on in hidden corners. The chaos that the news reports on is a mere grain of sand in the desert of indifference the universe has for humanity. I am incomparably small and insignificant and the turmoil I'm involved in now goes literally to the depths of the earth and smells like burning rubber and diesel fuel and looks like Mad Max.

Man Plans to Write Second Novel

A local man who plans to write a novel announced today his plans to write second novel after he writes the first one.

"It's the best follow-up novel on the century," said Duncan Reece of Detroit. "I don't want to go into details because that's not my process, but it's a slam dunk."

The man said that his plans to write his first novel have been going so well that he's already planning to write his second novel.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sky Clearing

Another storm has arrived actually but metaphorically the sky above my head or inside the weather chamber of my mind has opened up a bit. My mechanic buddy asked me why I was leaving.
I said, "If you don't want a stray dog to hang around then you stop feeding him."
Meaning that when I do full time work and don't get paid then the boss is either assuming that my camping here with the junk heaps is worth $400 a week or else he doesn't think my work is worth anything. Either way it's the end of our business relationship, so I'm on the trail of a real job taking full advantage of the energy boom in Texas. I didn't know that people get paid $24 an hour and work 60+ hours a week linking electrical wires in the smoldering desert. It's not my dream job but they don't expect me to last longer than 5 months. $1700 a week is the kind of money that makes me review my J. Carruthers guitar order. Yes, it is.

Easy Money

I was all ready to take the stator out of the goldwing when the boss told me he needed help recovering a truck 6 miles down the beach. I'll speculate and say that some punks saw this truck, stole it intending to strip it, went so far as to put another stolen license plate (over the original plate) and then got cold feet because they bragged about it to the wrong they took it to the beach and set fire to this 2010 Ford FX2...and maybe moments before they lit the flames the took the hood and the radiator, or maybe someone discovered it after the fire burned down and took it but probably the parts were taken before the fire was set.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


"Hydrogen sulfide has been implicated in several mass extinctions that have occurred in the Earth's past. In particular, a buildup of hydrogen sulfide in the atmosphere may have caused the Permian-Triassic extinction event 252 million years ago.[48]"

I just became closer acquainted with H2S than I thought I would ever have to but times have changed and this dog has been kicked around this summer like a basketball at Little Harbour Field when the 1st grade kids decided to stop playing with their hands.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Flightless Bird

I should stick to two wheels
There seems to be a theme lately with pulling an entire engine on a 1999 Pontiac Firebird and then dropping an engine on a 1985 Goldwing. And then there is the chicken figurine that wants to fly to the moon. The theme is birds and migration and I think Oggy is about to become another migratory bird.The trick was taking apart the front part of the left side exhaust pipe. I was really puzzled by how the engine would drop down on top of the exhaust headers and I don't have a manual and the online How-To was for a different model. But then I forced my brain to focus and there were two bolts holding the exhaust in two pieces. Remove the bolts and bang the front half off and then the engine can drop down unimpeded. The exhaust itself is some complicated piece of work as it connects under the frame and all the bolts are rusted. I was almost going to get an engine hoist and pick the whole bike up and remove the entire exhaust from under it. It was a real puzzle for a minute.

Firebird Update

I checked the oil in the Firebird and it looks like coffee and cream from Dunkin' Donuts. I never liked the way it was running and have the worst hopes for this vehicle now as this is the second engine and the second set of heads that appear to be leaking. The heads are tight, the gaskets are new, the heads are new but the engine block was original. It's not looking good. Cursed from the start.

Fortunately, I'm on the trail of a job that will let me leave all of this madness behind. It's either going to come together this week or slip through my fingers. I can't mention details because I accidentally used my oggybleacher gmail address to send my resume to the boss.
He called up, "May I speak to Oggy Bleacher?" and my eyes bulged open.
If he googles "Oggy Bleacher" then I'm sunk for lack of explaining my insanity.
Of course I also showed up to the interview with a full beard, a backward baseball cap and I was riding my moped. My strategy is to act like I already have the job.

Spiteful Post

GM Oil Pressure Sensor
I'm going to really give you casual surf monkeys something to ignore now because I'm going to describe the whole saga of this oil pressure sensor for a 1999 Pontiac Firebird.

First I want to tell you that the threaded end of this sensor is screwed directly into the engine block down by the oil pump. See? And the suction from the oil pump will direct oil into the hole and into this sensor where it spins microscopic wings around and magic fairies whisper secrets in troll ears and on the other end are two copper contacts on a suspended spring wire system. The plug going to the electronic control module is connected to the two prongs via an indexed connector that was green in 1999 and brown in 1998 (I know this from the crashed vehicle I found at the scrap yard)

Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.