Thursday, February 27, 2014

27 Feb 2014

I'm in Saskatoon right now in a motel that, when compared to the Tree Line or whatever the craphole from Hudson Bay I was staying in was called, is the height of luxury. In all honestly it's decent at best, but it's so nice to not have clown paintings, radiator heaters, white cinder block walls, a squeaky bed or dingy yellow bathrooms. Unfortunately my body is still on night shift so I'm not making much use of this comfortable bed except for to lay here and relax and write this. I tried sleeping earlier. I think I slept from about 9:30-11, but then I tossed and turned for about two hours and well, here I am at 3am.

We got to the hotel at around 7 tonight. We drove an Expedition from the field site out here. One guy had a flight leaving tonight but the other guy and I leave in the morning so we met for dinner. I can't express how nice having a dinner at some place other than the diner I'd been eating at for the past 3 weeks was. I started with a chicken curry soup, had a main course of a vegetable stir fry with naan bread and finished with strawberry cheesecake. Life is good.

The project is over. I can relax with the fact that other than being on an airplane to Denver tomorrow at 7:25 I have nothing to worry about. I can't wait to be home. Canada has been a good adventure, but it's always good to go home, eh? I'm going to try to get 10 days off. The unfortunate thing about these projects is that being salaried I don't get any additional income for them, just some extra paid time off. Extra time off is nice, but I'd rather have the bigger paycheck. Jes can't just take time off to go somewhere, so I'll probably just spend some time playing the xbox.

I made some good contacts up here. It was nice to get exposure to extreme cold conditions for field work as I'm sure it won't be the last time I end up working in Canada during the winter. I hopefully was able to sell my modeling abilities to the field manager for the project to get some additional modeling work going forward. If I end up running into any of the people I worked with again I'll already know them and as unfortunate as it is, even in an industry about the knowledge and science, contacts are invaluable and without them your abilities aren't worth much.

I guess overall this blog wasn't much to keep, I don't imagine I'll look back on it in the future with excitement, but this is the journal of my first real international work experience. Canada is a nice place, I hope to visit it again sometime, but hopefully some place a little more urban than Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

25 Feb 2014

My last sleep in Hudson Bay, and wouldn't you know it I can't sleep. The anticipation of going home is too great and I forgot to bring sleeping pills.

Finished a hole last night, almost finished my book about the geologists exploring Noah's flood (let's just say it's not looking good for the creationists) and well, I'm ready to go! One more shift! Then we head out on the morning of the 26th for a night in Saskatoon and a flight home on the 27th!

So excited! Must quell the excitement so I can get a few hours of sleep.. Okay, I try again.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

23 Feb 2014

Last night I finished a hole by about 10pm, which was great considering my shift starts at 7pm. I then drove back into town to drop off core and then essentially relaxed the rest of the night. I had to be on site or at least near the drill rig, so I parked at the only access road to where they were so I could see who was coming and going and be able to deduce what they were doing by who was there.

From about 11pm until 4am I read, napped, listened to music. It was wonderful. I want to say I feel bad about this, but I've worked 252 hours so far this month and as you can see from the title it's only the 23rd. Next time I do one of these projects I'm buying a PSP.

Three shifts left and I've kind of just automated all things that I do.

black, okay set casing
sandy interbedded mudstone, okay stop.

Because the holes are now so short that process takes about 5 hours. Then I go to my truck and do the core drop off followed by stake out a good place for some reading and napping thing. It's then about 12 hours before the whole thing starts over again and since there are two shifts it occasionally happens that I get all 12 rest hours on mine. I also like when my work happens early in the shift like it did last night.

I'm kind of over trying to talk with my coworkers as I don't really care. I've stopped eating in the dining room, ever because I don't really care. I fill out my paperwork and hand it to the manager and ask zero questions because I just don't care. I can do my job 100% on autopilot and spend the rest of my time sleeping and reading. It's kind of like a vacation now, a vacation that has gone on way too long and one where I'm really questioning the destination in the first place.

Also, I'm not going to eat french toast again for the whole rest of 2014.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

22 Feb 2014

Two nights ago I saw another northern lights show. It was far more amazing that the first one. It had swirling streaks of green light across the sky for about an hour and then they faded into white blotches that would move around and turn on and off. It was incredible. It was also miserably cold. It got back down to -35 C that night.

Two of the geologists have left and been replaced by a couple other guys. The night guy who left was cool and his replacement is a lot ... less cool. In fact his replacement is kind of strange, but I'm trying to like him because I have no reason not to other than that he just generally makes me feel uncomfortable. He does have some racist tendencies, but I think that just comes with the generation. He is probably about 60, though this is not to say all 60 year olds are racist, because the majority are not, it just seems slightly more common among that generation than mine because times were different 40 years ago.

Speaking of racist, my drillers, holy crap. Two of them got on a tangent of middle eastern people and the other driller was like "Hey you might offend someone" and one says "Who we're all Canadian, except him and he's American, they hate middle easterners more than us." I had to correct him for being rather incorrect. I have no problem with people of Middle Eastern descent. He thought because of the World Trade Center bombings that I would, but that was a handful of radicals. Not everyone has that desire and certainly not the ones who choose to come live here. They were slightly surprised by this.

One of them showed me a photo of a huge dead wolf his friend had killed that day and I asked "Why are you showing me a murdered of a wild animal?" and he was shocked that I reacted this way. We then got on the topic of shooting wolves and how they believe that wild wolves are overpopulating the uh.. wilderness.. or something and that it needs to be taken upon the humans to hunt them. I pointed out that the world seemed to control the populations of countless creatures just fine for hundreds of millions of years without humans and that the only reason it appears that wolves are coming into human lands more is because humans lands are expanding further and further into natural wolf habitats. It's really interesting just the difference in philosophy that a natural scientist has than a small town blue collar type person. I could be arrogant and say I am right and they are ignorant, because from my perspective that is clearly the case, but they just see the world differently. It is unfortunate, because a simple understanding of the Earth and how it works should make it quite apparent that it isn't for us to ravage and form to how we want. The Earth has limits and capacities of what it can provide and it serves us and all of our peers we share this beautiful rock with best to respect its limits and capacities. If a wolf is able to survive let it survive. If they are truly becoming overpopulated their food source will restrict what they can eat and the weaker wolves will die of natural causes. Killing the biggest one really hurts natural evolution. Though these morons will almost surely have more kids than me... so maybe Darwinism is struggling a bit, eh?

Canada has me saying eh, I typed that not on purpose. But back to more of the good stuff of Canada. Every morning Venus greets me right above the pre-dawn sky in the southeast. I shot a photo of it here from Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, which is the town I'm staying in to work on this project. It really is quite beautiful here, even if I'm so beyond ready to go home.

At our drill site tonight there was an abandoned structure with the moon behind it. I'm not much for art or creating a beautifully framed memory, but this just struck me as something I'd want to remember.

Only 4 more sleeps and 4 more shifts until I head for Saskatoon where I'll stay one night before coming home to Salt Lake City and my beautiful wife. I can't wait.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

19 Feb 2014

Having trouble being nice to the project manager, he's not my favorite person in the world. In fact he's fairly frustrating to work with. I understand, I imagine he's under a lot of stress and pressure himself, but he does his best to make sure to pass this on to at least me. I imagine to everyone else too, but I'm likely being a little more sensitive about it just because I'm having trouble relaxing, ever, at all. And having no cell phone, no outside contact other than Skype dates with my wife (which was interrupted this morning, thanks buddy, I'm sure having me explain that the 17th comes before the 18th really necessitated knocking on my door an hour after my shift was over) and no way to get away from the God awful smell of this motel...

I'm just not very happy.

It isn't all bad though

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

18 Feb 2014

Week one of any three week geology trip is usually kind of fun. It's this new exciting adventure with new scenery, new rocks and a new area of the world to get to know.

By week two you've become comfortable with the job, you understand the geology well, you've made a few friends with the locals and your drillers and it's all still new enough to be fun.

Week three is garbage. The locals annoy you, the drillers all smell like smoke, the geology is now boring, you're sick of all the food in the town and you become sleep deprived because you only get 12 hours of personal time per day in which to fit your eating, showering, skypeing and sleeping. Week 3 sucks.

Starting today I'm on my third week in Hudson f*cking Bay, the crappiest crap heap of all the crap Canadian prairie crap towns. Okay it's not actually that bad, but it's week three so it feels like it is. I would like to be just about anywhere in the world over here. Honestly Milford, Utah would be wonderful. At least in Milford I would have a motel to stay in that didn't smell like a combination of diarrhea and cigarettes. At least in Milford I would have my own damn truck to go get groceries at a grocery store. At least in Milford I would be reasonably warm... I can go on, but the point is Milford sucks. Hudson Bay makes me miss the place.

Last night was a night. The sun went down then it came back up. I'm sick of all the food here so I don't even eat much anymore, I now throw away half of my lunch and dinner because eating more makes me want to gag. The only thing I'm not sick of is their french toast, but I can only have that for breakfast (which is more like dinner to be because of the whole night shift thing).

My flight now leaves on the 27th rather than the 26th. I'll be staying the night of the 26th in civilization at least (Saskatoon). I imagine they'll have decent food there and probably people that don't talk in a Canadian hick accent.

It's not that bad, I'm just in a grumpy mood today.. but it IS a little bit bad. I am definitely on week 3.

Monday, February 17, 2014

17 Feb 2014

I missed a couple nights, but in reality it wasn't really much to write about. I thought this blog would be an exciting account of my adventures in Canada, but it's turned out to be quite a boring adventure. Nothing like the excitement that Sevier Lake was. Luckily also nothing like the hard work that Ashley Creek was.

Let me recap what happened at the job on the 15th:
I read a book. Oh, and this happened to the driller:
I guess he didn't sleep well the previous day?

Let me recap what happened at the job on the 16th:
I read a book and then I looked at rocks and wrote on some core tubes.

I did get kicked out of my room on the 15th though. Apparently the client didn't reserve rooms in time to get enough for us so when a bunch of snow mobilers came in on the weekend there weren't enough rooms, because the rest of the motel is full of lumberjacks, because all Canadian stereotypes are true, because run-on sentence, I know, and a bunch of us had to share rooms. I got put in the a room with 3 other geologists (2 day/2 night) which was better than the situation of a lot of people. The guys are all have good hygiene and none of them smoke, but still it kind of sucked having to fall asleep to the wonderful sounds of a coworker snoring in the other bed. I sleep with earplugs, because the walls of this motel are made from paper mache, and even through those I could hear the snoring. Once I got to sleep I was able to stay asleep though.

Today when I got back (at about 8:00, which I was not too terribly thrilled about) I was able to check back into my old room and its wonderful yellow bathroom walls, trash bags in the window to keep the light out, a handwritten "do not disturb" sign (handwritten by me) 45 watt incandescent bulbs. I won't miss this place. My supervisor at home said "The way to judge a good back woods motel is that it keeps the snow off of you when you sleep. Some of them don't." Well, this one is successful at that, but fails in just about every other aspect. Including the creepy ass clown painting.

Friday, February 14, 2014

14 Feb 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

This is the third year in a row that I've been on field assignment for Valentine's Day. Jes and I have still yet to celebrate one together. The other two years were down at Sevier Lake. It's funny, I really don't do field work that much, maybe 15% of the year, but every year I'm gone in February.

Last night was all right. I got to work and the rig was ready to get me some core to look at. About four hours later I'd determined we didn't need to go any deeper (that's my real only true purpose out there, look at the rocks to determine when we don't need to go any deeper). I called the wireline guys up and they came out and waited for the drillers to trip out (drill slang for pull out the pipes) so they could put their instruments down the hole and measure the gamma (radiation) & neutron (density).

After this I loaded my samples into the truck and headed to the warehouse to drop them off. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would spend Valentines Day alone pulling a truck into an empty, dimly lit, warehouse in rural Saskatchewan at 4am. I felt like I was about to perform some sort of major heist. I kind of pretended in my head that I was to make things more exciting. Turns out I was just dropping off core and leaving. After stacking the core on a pallet I decided it looked like crap and was going to fall over if a feather landed on in so I re-stacked it on another pallet. My back hurts. I need my wife for massages!

The snow if very deep here. I snapped a photo. I'm leaning against the snow, so it's probably 1.3 meters high (yes this whole blog will be in metrics). You're possibly thinking "oh, but he's in the mountains" which isn't true, because it's Saskatchewan and there are no mountains. There is just over a meter of snow pretty much everywhere. The piles of snow that the plows make in the town are about 3 meters high. It's crazy.

Also, here's a cool shot of the drillers doing their driller stuff. They're such good workers. I like this crew a lot.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

13 Feb 2014

I'm pretty much over being in Canada. It hasn't been above 0 degrees F since I've been here. Even in Calgary I'm pretty sure it was below 0 the whole time and I know for certain that the warmest it has been in Saskatchewan is -19 C which is right about at zero. It's just kind of getting miserable. Not to mention I've not seen the sun in a little over a week now, save for a sunrise and occasional peeks at it as I walk to and from the diner. This kind of work shift can cause serious depression.

I didn't do much last night. I finished my Voyager book and snapped a few photos for my coworkers back home. The drill spent the entire evening cementing an old well and setting up on a new one. I'm hoping the day time crew was able to get some work done.

This motel is going to be the death of me. Not only is it super ghetto, but it smells like cigarettes. The smoking rooms and non-smoking rooms share a hallway so the whole place smalls like smoke. You can't just assume that because the rooms are separated by a few meters the scent understands this and stays on its side.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

12 Feb 2014

I was thinking. I really wish I would have done this for the Sevier Lake project. That would have been so much more fun to look at. All these new experiences... While being in Canada and temperatures of -38 are certainly new experiences it's all pretty standard otherwise.

Here's a photo of drilling because that's cool: The steam is just steam. They spray hot water to keep things melted and warm enough to function. It turns instantly to steam/snow because of the inability for cold air to hold as much water vapor as hot air, so it condenses and falls to the ground.

 This is the inside of the core shack:

I saw the sun rise over the great plains today (yes, Saskatchewan is part of the plains). I had never seen that before. I've only seen the sun rise over the mountains. It was like watching the sun set over the ocean, but in reverse.. and trees instead of water. The light shines through miles upon mines (sorry, kilometers upon kilometers) of atmosphere allowing the scattering of the fully spectrum of colors. So at the top you see a very dark blue with purple tendencies in it, then your band of blue and down to a thick band of green, below this yellow orange and a dull red, right at the horizon. Then the sun crests over the horizon and bam! It's all gone replaces by a burning yellow star and a light blue sky.

Oh yeah, I'm out here for a drilling project. Well, the drillers were making good progress last night until their casing was too big to fit down the hole and they had to pull everything back out and widen the hole. That ate up about 6 hours. Then I had two hours at the beginning of my shift to kinda kick back while they prepped everything. Essentially I worked about 4 hours last night and spent 8 hours in the truck listening to music, taking micro-naps and reading. Definitely looking forward to getting home where I can do those things with my wife.

I got to chat with the project manager on my company's side today. He's a nice dude, different but I like him. He was saying he liked my work and wanted to hopefully get my up to Calgary to work on other projects in the future. That makes me happy. I hope there aren't any more 24 day projects... but I think that being able to be put to work by the Canadian office would be great for not only my resume, but also for just making new contacts. The Salt Lake office has a fairly small geology group. Calgary's is three times the size.

I ordered a pizza for "dinner" tonight. It's like... 2 parts crust, 1 part sauce, 400 parts cheese. Kind of disgusting really. I think I may just about be done. I also picked up my lunch and the girl working there asked if I wanted a "bayeg" for it (pronounced bay-egg)

I had to ask "a what?"
She says, "a bayeg"
"I'm sorry I don't know what you're asking."
"Do you want me to put your lunch in a bayeg"
"OH! A bag, uh, yes, please."

I'm so bad at accents.

Last night chatting with the Canadian drillers they were complimenting me on being a cool American. I was asking what that meant and they were like "Well, you want to get to know about Canada and you never tell us about America. Americans think we don't know anything about it, but we know everything we want to know. But they go on and on about their country telling us things we already know" and then they asked how many guns I owned and if I knew Mitt Romney (because I'm Mormon) Clearly they don't know as much about Americans as they think, but it was a nice compliment anyway. Canadian drillers are cool though. Much more awesome than their American counterparts. They're nice, polite, answer your questions without cursing at you, don't tell you made up stories about all the women they're (not actually) sleeping with... They're just like good blue-collar hard work kinda dudes. If it were only about 40 degrees C warmer and I had cell service, this wouldn't be such a bad job.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

11 Feb 2014

Definitely at the point in the field assignment where I hate this place. It usually happens about one week in. It's because I'm here long enough to be over the excitement of it being new, but not close enough to it being over for me to be looking forward to it.

My last shift should be the evening/morning of the 25th/26th (I'm working from 7am to 7pm) after which I'll ride with the day geologist back to Saskatoon. Ideally we'll get to Saskatoon around noon and fly out around 3 or 4, but I may end up staying the night in Saskatoon and flying home on the 27th.

Last night we finished drilling a hole. The drillers kept saying we were deep enough, but we weren't. I kept having them go and then finally we reached the fish scale unit, which is an interbedded silty shale unit with calcareous sands. We contacted it around 91 m. I was happy when we finally did and told them to go a little deeper to confirm, but then we were done.

The night before I kinda just sat around in my truck for much of the night. It was the coldest night since I've been here, getting down to -38 C. Hopefully I never experience anything that cold again. Last night wasn't too bad. It was more like -26 C.

How cold is -38? Well, your nose hairs freeze instantly if you inhale through your nose. Your pee steams very heavily. Exposed parts of your body go numb in about 45 seconds. Luckily I spend most of my time in a heated core shed that stays about 10 C. But when I do have to go out in the -38, how do I dress? Like this! Pro tip: wearing glasses all the time makes your eyeballs not hurt.

I miss my life in Salt Lake.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

09 Feb 2014

Last night was not terribly exciting. My drill rig finally began making some progress and this was happy. As much as I do enjoy sitting around it was nice to actually be useful. The low was -32 C, I really wish it would warm up 10 or 15 degrees because this is kind of miserable. The roads are just solid sheets of ice and my truck has all season tires which sucks. If roads were even half as bad as the ones we drive on our here I would use winter tires without question.

The driller's helper that brings me core is a funny dude. He belongs on a drill crew about as much as I belonged when I sold used cars for a month. He's from Toronto (most drillers are from places with like 1,000 people living in them), weighs maybe 130 lbs, seems fairly well educated, is always imitating foreign accents and doesn't curse at me. I'm pretty sure those are all things that exclude you from a career in drilling. He doesn't seem too terribly convinced that this adventure will go beyond this project though. I tried telling him the benefits of going back to school and pursuing a white collar career.

The drill boss dude is really funny because he's one of those types that can't go 5 words without saying "fuck" but he's also very heavily Canadian so he can't go 5 words without saying "eh" so he's like "Oh fuck it's fuckin cold eh, I think eh that we fucking gotta eh go inside and fucking warm the fuck up eh?" Yep, one of those types. I actually have to really try hard no to laugh whenever he talks.

Anyway, my roommate just got a bit early back from the day shift and I need to eat dinner so this entry is short.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

08 Feb 2014

Last night I saw the Aurora Borealis for the first time in my life. It was really quite exciting. At first I thought it was just clouds reflecting the lights from the drillers and paid no attention to it, but after about 15 minutes I realized they were sure moving around quickly.. then I looked up and watched and realized what it was. It wasn't what I expected. The lights were a very pale white and shimmered and danced all over the night sky. It made me very happy. I actually did a happy dance to celebrate. Nobody could see me luckily. They lasted from about 2:30 am until maybe 4 am. I couldn't find them afterward.

Last night was also incredibly cold. The coldest temperature I've ever experienced in my life. It was -34 C (this is maybe -25 F). It was so cold that if I inhaled quickly my nose hairs would turn into little icicles almost instantaneously. It's strange that it doesn't really feel any more uncomfortable than -15 C, but you can tell it's colder by how much more quickly exposed parts of your body start to feel pain or go numb. It's really a matter of seconds rather than 10 or so minutes like it would be around -10 or -15. Tonight is supposed to be just as cold. I'll be dressing warm again!

Drilling is still making little progress. My drill rig was not operational again last night, but could maybe have started today? Not sure. I did manage to stick my truck on the side of the road though trying to pull over to park. The snow banks are an immediate drop off and I got maybe 5 cm into is and the tires just quit going forward. My driver side tires were still firmly on the road, but because the roads are pure ice they just sat there and spun while the passenger tires were lodged in the snow. Luckily the vehicle was able to pull me right out and I continued on my way.

I purchased gas last night. Saskatchewan does that thing like Oregon and New Jersey where you have to have someone else pump your gas. I wonder if this happens elsewhere in the country. Here's a photo of the truck I'm driving around

Jes showed me our bathroom with no linoleum flooring in it. Her and her uncle are tearing it up today to put in the new tile we bought. It's really quite exciting. I wish I could be there to help and maybe take her uncle and cousin to dinner afterward. I feel bad having them help out while I'm 2000 km away.

I should probably get dressed. Actually I have to get undressed and then dressed because I think the heater in my room is having issues, so I'm wearing a huge coat inside right now. Naturally I'd have a broken heater in Canada...

Friday, February 7, 2014

07 Feb 2014

Another day closer to being done with the project.

Almost right after I finished writing yesterday Jes was able to get hold of me on her lunch break on Skype. It was happy to chat with her there. The Olympic opening ceremonies are today. They are being held in Sochi, Russia. There is a lot of somewhat funny photos circulating the internet from western reporters who have been arriving in Sochi and seeing that Southern Russia is not quite the western world. Everything from wires dangling in the showers, hotel lobbies being under construction or just not existing, toilets being across a room from another toilet with no stall walls, lighting fixtures falling from the ceiling and people getting into their hotel rooms only to find that stray dogs have already claimed it as their own. Funny stuff. There are also worries of terrorism surrounding the games this year because of its location near a politically unstable region of the world. Hopefully nothing happens and we can just enjoy some world games.

Last night I drove out to the field site with the project manager which was nice because he let me drive his truck. This was nice because I didn't have to drive with Mr. I'm The Worst Driver Ever on the way there. Driving in Canada is no different than driving in the States other than the KPH signs and signs saying how many kilometers to the next city rather than miles. Speed limits are typically lower too. I've not seen anything with a speed higher than 100kph (62mph).Though considering everything is covered in snow this is probably safe. In Calgary it wasn't quite as bad, but I guess Canadians consider Calgary to be warm. "Oh those Chinooks eh? Yeah they keep the south quite nice, ya." I guess that can't be expressed very well in text, but I love Canadian accents.

Last night started slowly. The rig was all frozen up and they just blew steam on everything for about 6 hours, but once they finally got going we were able to drill about 30 meters from 2am until 6am when we quit to drive back to town. I got to see my first oil shale. It smells like... oil... it's hard to mistake it.

After the shift I had to drive back with the worlds worst driver again. I think I have acceleration whiplash. He also does this thing where he's constantly making nose blowing sounds. It's kind of disturbing... Strange guy, really nice though, so I can't dislike him. He's just... different... We stopped to get gas in the truck. I picked up a few snacks for the night. My coworker told me about these Canadian Cheetos called Cheesies. I picked up a bag of them and they're rather awful. They taste like someone took Cheetos and ran them through a salt bath. I'm not highly impressed. I'll probably just give them to my drillers tonight. I also bought a couple Pepsis. They add an extra tax to them. It was like 17 cents per Pepsi. I wonder if this is a fat tax or something else? Also I wonder if it's national or only in the Saskatchewan province.

I'm Skyping with Jes now and really don't have much else to write so I'm off!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

06 Feb 2014

Yesterday afternoon I finally got some acceptable amount of sleep. I think I was out for about 5 hours which is the longest I've slept since being in Canada. I got a pizza for dinner, but it was wayyyy too big and I didn't even come close to finishing it. Unfortunately there is no microwave in my room and only a fridge, so it's either cold pizza or throw it away. As an aside, the Canadians measure their pizzas in inches.

I left with my coworker for the field site yesterday evening and his driving is HORRIBLE. Ahhhh, I feel completely unsafe when he drives. He follows too closely, can't maintain a constant speed, hits the brakes really hard any time a snow drift comes over the road. It was a stressful ride for me, but luckily there are no other cars on the roads most of the time so we made it fine. The truck is a F150 with the turbo motor in it so every time he accelerates you hear this SSSSsssss of the turbo spooling up abruptly. I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to do that. He must be getting 13 mpg with his driving habits.

The drill was still in setup mode when we got there around 8pm. We were told it would be ready quickly so we were ready to go. 9pm...10pm...11pm... still nothing. By this time we've left the core shack, which is a little office set up behind the drill rig to collect rock inside, and have gone inside the truck. The drillers were frantically going back and forth doing.. well i'm not entirely sure what.. I know at one point there was a problem with the boiler that they use to keep the water liquid. Temperatures weren't too horrible last night. They maintained at about -15 C (+5 F) for the entire evening, so not much different than Salt Lake weather in January, but considerably more windy. Currently it's about the same. Temperatures should continue to stay about the same tonight but in a couple nights the forecast low is -34. That sounds miserable.

My coworker and I talked about a variety of topics such as Canadian healthcare (which is infinitely better than American healthcare, seriously.. it's not funny how screwed up we do it in the states compared to our buddies up north), education, projects we've worked on and the differences between the SLC and Calgary offices.

At about 4am we finally got started drilling. We were able to rotary drill through some glacial material to about 16 meters before we had to pack up and head in at 6:30 am. I guess we're supposed to be coming in earlier than that because we were told we got back too late. No complaints from me!

I got back and after eating some french toast for "dinner" I was able to wake Jes up at about 7 am her time for a quick Skype chat, but I could barely keep my eyes open so it wasn't quite as long as I'd have liked. She hates mornings, more than I do, so the fact that she was willing to wake up at 7 to talk to me for 15 minutes really just made my evening .. or morning... whatever the hell I'm supposed to call it.

I then quickly fell asleep at 8:15 am central time and was able to sleep until 1:30. I think I may have fallen back asleep for another 30 minutes after that. Not quite sure, but then it was suddenly 2:30. I would have liked to sleep longer, but I was wide awake. I'm certain this will be bad for tonight as I hit a wall and feel tired at 2am but have to stay awake, but I'll live.

I don't like sharing a truck. I'm stuck in the motel room whenever I wake up early like this. I would definitely go exploring if I had my own vehicle.

Also of note I sometimes wonder if I should be a geologist. I feel like all other geologists want to talk about geology all the time. You get a group of them together and it just goes on and on and on for hours about projects they've worked on and deposits they find particularly interesting. Meanwhile I kind of just drift off and daydream of anything but geology. I don't want to talk about rocks or deposits. I want to talk about something else, so I usually kind of just end up in my own little world. Not that I mind this, it is just an observation. I think I'll go get "breakfast"

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

05 Feb 2014

I'm working on a field project for Canshale and I want to document my experiences out here so I can look back and remember the field projects I've worked on and my first trip to Canada.

I have been in Canada now since February 2nd. I probably should have started this blog then, but I have been quite busy so I'll give a quick recap of what occurred on those days.

I left Salt Lake at around noon. I had to change flights in Denver and ended up on a smaller plane than I am typically comfortable with. I sat next to a nice lady who had been on a ski trip in Denver. We talked about the differences between Canada and the United States. I then landed around 7pm in Calgary. After getting off the plane I had to go to immigration. At immigration I applied for and was granted a work permit. There wasn't really much hassle with that. The only minor snag was that I should have brought a copy of my diploma, which I did not, but the immigration officer was not very concerned. After receiving my permit I noticed my last name had been spelled wrong. Lager instead of Alger. Sure enough, Canadians do always have beer on the mind. I got this changed and got a shuttle to the hotel I was staying at. Acclaim Hotel. It was nice. The shower had a full body sprayer and the coffee machine used K-cups. I met the project manager for dinner that evening at the Italian place in the restaurant. Good food, not the biggest portions, but good nonetheless. I had trouble sleeping that night, but I eventually got to sleep around 1 am.

The next day I woke up early to take a cab to a winter driving course. The course was all right. A good refresher on how to be a safe driver, but not terribly useful as I drive in winter conditions every winter. I passed with no problem and went to the Calgary office for a project orientation. Before the orientation we got lunch at a local marketplace that was in one of the high rise buildings. Downtown Calgary is beautiful and all the buildings are connected with skywalks that the locals refer to as "Plus fifteens" meaning they are 15' (or meters?) off the ground. They connect 2nd floors, so I'm going to go with feet. That evening I had dinner with two fellow geologists and Skyped with Jes for a little over and hour before getting to bed. Once again sleep did not come easily.

The next morning I awoke tired and made my way to the airport via shuttle. After being told my carry-on was too big I had to go back and check it. United airlines had no trouble with my carry-on size, but Canada Air has a much tighter restriction on carry-on size. After boarding a propeller plane we had to taxi over to an area where our plane was de-iced. It was cold. They told me -25C, I think that translated to roughly -15 F. We picked up our rental trucks, which were a fleet of white Ford F-150s and go on the road to Hudson Bay, SK.

Along the way we stopped in a small town and got lunch at a gas station. I was told it was a really good restaurant. I'm not exactly sure what Canadian standards for a "really good restaurant" are but this was garbage. I'd have preferred to eat at Burger King. Actually I would have probably preferred to eat cat food. I ordered the "special" it was lemon pepper chicken. The lemon pepper tasted like crushed up lemon candy and the pepper was light while the added salt was heavy. I ate about two bites of it. I had maybe 15 kernels of corn as a side. It was obviously frozen corn. And some instant potatoes. Those really weren't any good either. Honestly this was probably the worst plate of food I can remember ever being served.

Upon arrival in Hudson Bay I was told to get some sleep as I may be working 4 hours later. As with any time I'm told that I need to hurry up and fall asleep, I didn't fall asleep. I slept maybe a grand total of 15 minutes of that 4 hours. I woke up dreading heading out to the field site on 0 sleep, because remember I've slept like crap the previous two nights too. I was informed that instead we would be waiting a few hours and starting work in the morning. This is great for me as I don't work until the following evening. My other night-shift counterpart and I are not intentionally sleep depriving ourselves (it is currently 1:30 am) so we can get good sleep during the day and be well rested for our night shift tomorrow.

I got dinner at the diner in the motel tonight. It was about 1000x better than the place I had lunch. This isn't to say it's incredible. I'd give it maybe a 6/10, but for a small little town it's really good - better than I expected. I ate their "Chicken Deluxe" which was just chicken with cheese, mushrooms and onions on it. It came with mixed vegetables and a fresh baked potato. It was really quite enjoyable after my previous meal. After this we sat down for a one hour safety orientation. Two hours later it was done.

I was asked to get a remote desktop and the printer working and given 0 instruction on how to do so. I love how people who are 40+ just assume that because I'm 28 that I can do wizardry with computers. I never got the remote desktop to auto-connect like the project manager wanted, but I was able to get the file he wanted to a cloud drive and download it from the cloud drive onto the harddrive of the computer in the field. This made it possible for me to print it. To get the printer working, which they'd been fooling with for two hours, I simply turned it off then back on. I really wish I could claim some sort of computer wizardry for that one, but it was kind of just the standard troubleshooting. Doesn't work? Reboot it! Still doesn't work? Try rebooting again!

After that I was able to give Jes a call on Skype, but because I am sharing a room with my day shift counterpart who is sleeping I wasn't able to chat in my room. The other night shift guy and I are hanging out in the "office" which is just another room with a printer set up. I didn't want to bother him with Jes and I being obviously in love newlyweds, so I stepped out into the hall and sat in a chair next to a VERY noisy ice machine. We only were able to chat for about 15 minutes because my computer was ready to die, but it was worth it. It just made my evening to see her beautiful face and hear her for a little while.

Field work sucks. There is really no way around that. Like there are parts I like, sure. Being in a new area of the world that I would otherwise never visit is pretty great, but it's 1:30, I've not slept well in 3 days, I'm incredibly tired and I'm having to force myself to stay awake so I can sleep better after the day crew leaves for their shift. But that's not even the worst part. The worst part is I am 21 days out from seeing my wife. I really miss her already and I've only been in Canada for 3 days.

Oh well, I guess this is the life of a young professional geologist. Maybe I should consider a new career... nah...