Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Rant


It appears that I hate Facebook. It did not start out that way. The first two weeks were cool. In the first two weeks there was an explosive growth in the number of people I got in touch with. After dozens of friends’ requests were made, some with people I had not seen in many years then things leveled off.

Without new contacts coming in and the existing ones staying quite after the first contacts I lost interest. Of the people I got in touch with the majority were friends from university people who I sheared classes with partied and drank with, but most not likely to be long-term friends. The result, those that I wanted to stay in touch with I had remained in touch with out face book, and with face book I gained access to pointless trivial about them with out any substance.

The trivia has grown tires some quickly. I just don't really care about all the updates people post. That is not the worst of it. I am being spammed. A handful of people are forwarding a handful of messages. So often they are passing forward chain letters. These messages did the email loop years ago and were old then.

I don't want chain letters, I don't want any thing that makes me feel guilty for being able bodied and white with a good job. I don't care if chain letters have biblical roots. Just because Saul got sun stroke on the road to Damascus, inspiring him to twist the words of his teacher a Jewish carpenter who turned out to have a fatal allergy to oaken beams and iron nails, into his own twisted faith, does not mean I want any thing to do with the other tradition he promoted. Chain letters, a sunstroke inspired tool he hopes to be a good way of scaring the gentiles into his new religion.

I don't want forwards on my wall or as messages I don't want guilt inspiring stories of personal sacrifice and suffering. If you are not going to take the time to write something yourself I don't want it. If you want me to take the time to follow the link form my email to the website, stealing a minuet or two of my time, make it original make it personal. Act like you are my friend, tell me a story or a joke, and don’t spam me with a message that has been passed on more times the Pam Anderson's honeymoon videos.

I don't hold this rant to have any historical accuracies the views expressed here are mine along and do not reflect on Nothernlites or any of its associates.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bingo Fuel and Stinging Slinging.

Work has taken a shift in direction. We are moving the bulk of the drilling to a new different property to the south of camp. A property I had not seen until a week ago. When Pete Jordan and me flew out there to both check on the drill and get me familiar with the property. The plan was simple, take a chopper down to the property check out the drill and or shut it down and then fly back to camp end of day. Pack a lunch and long underwear.

This should have bee a quick and simple day, but light is a limited commodity. At the latitude of 63,1/4 degrees north in December the earliest time we can fly is around 9:30 am and the latest we can fly is around 3:50pm.
Adding to this compressed timetable were the other demands on the helicopter. It had to fly in some supplies from town. Fuel for the drill, two barrels full, weighing enough to make the bird burn through extra fuel on the short flight from town. With the bird having to make a trip into town to get the fuel drums there was a lot of time-spent waiting. After it delivered the fuel the chopper landed in the swamp, not the helipad we had marked out, it turned out we had a different pilot form the

The three of us get on to the chopper staying low on the approach to avoid unwanted decapitations; they can really ruin your day. We took from off the swamp and about 5 to 10 minuets into the flight Pete is talking to the Pilot and some slightly important information is put forth. There was not enough fuel for the bird to make the round trip.
The chopper had about 45 to 50 minuets of fuel and we had about an hour and fifteen minuets of day light left. From where we were flying from it is about a 20-minuet flight to camp and greater then half an hour to get back to Yellow Knife.

Camp does keep some Jet-B on hand to refuel choppers with but because the pilot had just hauled in fuel for the drill he had left his fuel pump in town to save weight. Our fuel drums do have hand pumps but this would have taken too much time to fill it up, using up too much of the remaining day. Which could have forced him to say in camp to avoid flying after dark. So to save the chopper from as they say, bingo fuel, we turned around and headed south to Yellow Knife.
The cool thing of landing in town was being in a chopper as the Pilot parallel parked the bird. To do this we came in a few feet of the ground and the flew side ways in to the space between a Hughes 500 in front of us and second Bell 206 behind us.

The one time I am in town during a work rotation it’s a Sunday. To add to the fun all three of us have left our wallets and any and all forms of money at camp and personally I had nothing to read. Our lack of funds was fixed as was our accommodations, one through a preexisting arrangement the other through a favour, not in that order.
The evening was dull, but it was an early end for the working day, that coupled with larger softer hotel bed and a good dinner was worth the trip into town. It was something of a tease as normally I only see Yellow Knife as I am leaving work. Though we did get some looks leaving Boston Pizza, as we were a scruffy lot.

The next day was started with sleeping in and ended with the being cold and fearing that we would have to spend a second night in town. In between we returned to the drill site in a helicopter without working heat and frosted up windows. This really boosts your confidence in modern engineering. Once I toured the property moving to say warm and huddled in the drill when it was not too busy.

Things started to go bad when the chopper was hauling in a second set of fuel drums. Two or three times it circled and hovered but failed to kill its forward momentum enough to keep the drums form swinging at the end of their long line forcing it to abandon its attempts to deliver the fuel. After its last failed attempt at delivering the fuel to the drill's location at the time, It attempted to drop the barrels at the site where the drill would move to next, this was more open. This proved to be some of the least inspired flying I have seen lately.
Once again the bird came in low and fast when it should have come in high, hovered and then come down slow. This hover and drop approach would kill the forward momentum of the drums at the end of the long line preventing them from swinging. The drums started to swing side to side under the helicopter and as the pilot compensated and perhaps over compensated the swinging increased and became a circular motion like some over sized up side down mace. It was worrying seeing the chopper buck in response to its miss-behaving load. When the pilot at last made his call he brought the bird down with the drums still moving under him, they kicked up cloud of dusty snow, I had a brief worry that they seals on the things could fail and we would have a royal mess on our hands.

This excitement was followed with a long wait in the cold and the approaching dark. On paper the plan was for the bird to head into town refuel and take us back to camp, it did not work out that way and as the sun was setting we were still waiting for our ride. Several calls of decreasing politeness and of increasing frequency were made to the helicopter hanger as darkness approached.

When It came, the sun was most of the way down, it was delayed it turned out, but we had a faster bird with a full tank of gas getting back to camp at last was not going to be a problem. We did make it back to camp and not much else has happened since. Okay a few days after that adventure I got to be the guild on a second trip to that property, I flew in the front of the bird looking down at the ground through the transparent floor of the cockpit. This time I had my wallet. But nothing much happened that trip, we flow to the southern end of a lake where we will be setting up a drill in the new year and did some fancy flying to get a close look, on this day we were back before lunch and I did not have to leave my seat.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Nothern Lites Entertainment Report.

Just a quick update.

Things have been busy at work as the year winds down I am getting wound up for next year which will be a fair bit different from the last year and a half. I will have the chance to spend time in Yellow Knife and see properties other then this one. I am working on a longer post about my recent Helicopter adventure. More on that after some editing.

I have become a pusher, a crack dealer. That right I have gotten some one at work addicted to podcast novels. Addicted enough to ship out a pack of CDs for me to copy the shows on. So I complied the Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff collection; Diary of a Mad Man, The Dooms Day Club, Number 1 with a Bullet and The Art of Surfacing. All good interesting, from time to time violent and or distrubing. These can be found at Pacific Coast Hellway, I would be Remiss if I did not mention every one's favourate musical Pussy The Musical , which did not include on the CD's because at the time it was not complete.

I also added one of my favourates as a bonus, Phili Rosi's Crescent some places are far darker then deep space. I would have add Mike Bennet's One Among the Sleepless
One Among the Sleepless, to that list but ran out space on the CD's, it is a slightly dark and wonderfully British novel. ( Mother you would be pleased to not that with the exception of Crescent all the books listed in this post are not Science fiction.) Speaking of science fiction, go check out Christiana Elles's latest project, Space Casey.
I should play nice and add in a bit of a blurb on Space Casey. Its a space opera in much the same way a Gilbert and Sulivin peace is an opera, it has elements of drama and in some cases singing but the nature of the drama is completely different. Now that I have said nothing for a long sentence, let me talk about the book, con artist gets a hold of an alien space ship and is forced to save humanity, while indulging in the whims of an unstable AI and other alien oddities. All held together with Christiana's dry wit and good collection of guest voices, including the future evil over lord of the planet Scott Sigler.

I will leave you with one pretty picture, the Con Mine's Robertson Shaft and the rising sun. As seen from Great Slave Helicopters in Yellow Knife earlier this week

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tail Gates.

The other day after finishing a pile of paper work and becoming frustrated from the hours at the desk. I headed off to load my shop with core for the next day. Now due to a series of mechanical mishaps the Toyota Land cruiser that I use to haul core was out of order. This left me with my 2 least favorite vehicles: the overly large Dodge Ram and badly mistreated Ford Ranger. The Dodge was in use at that moment and after some wrangling I gained access to the ranger to move core.

The Ranger holds about 20 boxes core, loading that many boxes is a good work out. Now I noticed as I was loading it that the plywood bed liner was covered in about a centimeter of ice. This made loading the first layer of core boxes easy as they slid in nice a smooth. After the truck was loaded I drove it down the road to my shop. This road is smoother in the winter with the snow and the ranger has decent traction with the chains. Every thing was smooth until the last large hill before the shop. This hill has a bend in middle and a bump caused by a partially berried bolder.

Because of some difficulties in climbing that hill the previous day I made a point to have a good bit of speed to get up the steep start of the hill. I did not have faith that the Ranger would have enough torque to make the hill at a low speed. Stupidly I managed to hit the gas and the bump at the same time. I cleared the first third of the hill the truck did not spin out or stall. There was odd burst of speed as I left the bend.

Having made it up the hill I continued to my shop. I backed into the slot by my shop door to unload the truck. That was when I say the truck was empty. All 20 boxes each weighing at about 30 to 50 pounds depending on the lithology had fallen out. As fast as I could I drove back to the way I came.

There in the center of the road in sitting in almost one unit was the boxes. Two or three were upside down, and only one had any meaningful spillage. That was lucky. It was the fact that they jumped out of the truck all at once that kept things from being too messy.

There was at this point only one coarse of action, reload the truck one box at time, up hill. I had left the Ranger pointing down hill on nearly flat spot. I backed it up the hill and had some hairy moments on the way back down the other side so I pulled over to the side to try to turn around. As I did this I saw the core slide back a few inches. Things were easy for the last leg as it was all down hill and there was no risk of it falling out again.

Before the after noon was over I made two more trips each one less eventful then the last. After the first trip I improvised a restraint using some steel banding that was lying in the back of the truck along with some rope. This looked laughable oddly it worked. In the first few hundred meters of my second trip the core shifted. Looking in the rearview I saw that the top most boxes were putting tension on the steel band. Out of fear of a second cargo failure I let the truck pick up some speed on a down hill, only to slam on the brakes, this let the cargo shift forward just a wee bit. I was lucky to have enough smarts to find the sweet spot where cargo would remain fixed in the bed but the truck did not stall, it was at a crawl.

The Third and final trip lead me the solution I should have had from the start, a tail gait. Now since the original for that truck is long gone I was forced to improvise with a core box lid trimmed to fit roughly the width of the bed. This worked, the boxes pressed against it but could not unwedge it.

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same action repeatedly and expecting different results, I suppose this means that I am not completely insane.