Heading Out

Seeking the winds that help to sail on Shakespeare's tide.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Bless my socks

I am going to have to watch that phrase now that we will be spending Xmas with, inter alia, the Bishop since we are all heading to the Big City for a family get together. But today has been one of those bright days that sort of just went that way all day.

It began with breakfast with the last of the candidates for the Duchy, and this is a bird of a different bush (?) much more dynamic and with an obvious intent to move and shake. Hmm! The only problem is that the Departments concerned may not be all that excited about such drama. (I did hear the word Fear uttered at another meeting). So that gives two candidates that I need to decide on before tomorrow afternoon - tetum! tetum! tetum!

Then still obsessed by this Oil thing I started a final compilation of slides when . . . .the first part of my new toy arrived. Went out and helped to uncrate it and move it - times have certainly changed since we got our last one of these, some 20-odd years ago. It still works, but only partly.

Then back, and finally got the slides into a format I liked - including finding out that China is now importing about 2.5 mbd of oil (a bit of a pain to find since they quote it in metric tons per month and I had to find the conversion). Put them together and sent them around and this time the Powerpoint worked - now I can get on with something else and the sad facts will lie in a drawer for a while. I can also add to it as I find the odd fact.

Hmm! A reminder that the folk from Utah will be here on Thursday, start to draft a note and realize I have not told the folk in Michigan that finally, after just about giving up, we have - possibly - fixed one of the problems that was stalling progress. Of course that is going to make the next step that much harder, but at least we can now move on to look at that bit. That little discovery came at about 3 p.m.

And the new design for the folks in Oklahoma did what I had just about given up hope that it would do. The first test of the new design did what we were unable to do all summer, and most of this semester. The first picture came just as I sat down (after everyone left) to put together tomorrow's lecture. Did it come too late - who knows ? I sent it on and we will see.

The last time I did this class (which I took over when someone retired) I apparently got to this point and didn't bother posting the material anywhere I can now find it. Well, rabbits, that means I have to create afresh one of the more boring parts of the entire material - yet make it dynamic and interesting starting now. ZZZZZZZ !

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Sunday, November 28, 2004

Nomenclature

As I use this in part to record significant points in our life, as well as the world in general, there are a couple of items of note. There have been a couple of news items that seem to indicate that my point about Chinese influence were not misguided. More to the point China is still in the awkward stage of not having enough power to meet current demand. With an economy that averages a 9% growth there is very little they can do but find additional sources of energy and material.

Those who predict little growth in world demand for energy in the next 12 months are ignoring this reality. They are desperately laying pipe in Beijing at present to try and meet the oil supply needs for this winter. Given a growth need that is not either reducing nor being met and also given the fact that China holds vast quantities of US debt is worrying, There are significant, positive for them, reasons that they should spent these savings and additional cash accruals to acquire the energy supplies that they need, (rather than just loaning it to the US to cover the growing US deficit - which is creating a secondary problem). This reality does not bode well, when one must also recognize that both the US and the European Union are also now increasingly and vitally interested in those same reserves. The folk that hold the gold, as they say, call the tune. And who holds the American debt and gold?

I will blog about the six books that I just acquired on this unpleasant pre-view of the future at some length, but later. Yet as a short comment, the Deffeyes book is a very good place to start, it is written in language and with a style that makes me wish I had been his student. He lays out a case that is realistically difficult to refute, that against a world growing demand that increases by more than 2 mbd (million barrels of oil a day) that the available supply will peak, and begin to fail to meet the demand by around Thanskgiving next year. Illustratively, I am amused by the thought he suggests, that Dr. Rice can be equated to a millihelen (I told you that you need to read this book).

In family news had thought that the Advocate's companion this week should be referred to as the Divine. After a short, lubricated, discussion this evening the conclusion is rather that future reference will be to the Bishop, just so that you know to whom this will now apply. (The psuedonyms are a source of amusement - though only one or two individuals (S ?) hold the key.

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Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

For the first time in over 30 years I did not cook our dinner, but turned it over to the next generation. And it was excellent, though I did take charge of the bar and after using the house wines for most of dinner (too long a story to explain) also served French equivalents that were better. With the Advocate and friend and the Discer and husband (who was in an earlier life one of my grad students) it was an interesting evening of the sort I had dreamed of in coming to the Academy.

I look at the pile of books sitting in an empty floor, books on Virtual Archeology, King Arthur, Sailing ships of War, Dudley Pope's book of guns, Oil War and the fate of Industrial Societies, Jack Whytes series, Yiddish with Dick and Jane, which together with the CDs that include in reverse order, Piaf, modern Sardinian. Beethovens Violin - by Kennedy, (the applause in which still annoys me), The Anonymous Four, The Harp Concert (Notre Dame and Missa Mexicana), Bach Masterworks, Galway in Japan, Milladoiro, Midwinter, Paul Winter, and some Brandenburg and some early Sardinian hill chants - not to mention the Nancy Griffith. They picked, I played.

There is no real way to convey how great tonight was arguing among ourselves, none of whom are wallflowers, we covered religion and technology, and movies and . . . but almost carefully and with understanding, backed away from politics and the raw feelings that underlay some of the comments.

And I did find an 86 Beerenauslase hidden in the dust, but I think I had kept it too long, and - though I did not confess it out loud - it was not as good as the '92.

I hope you all had as wonderful and enjoyable a Thanksgiving, we are blessed in our lives and our friends.

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Monday, November 22, 2004

Just another Monday

Well I had lunch, unexpectedly, with the Tsar today. He was amused and appreciative of my sending him some of the information on Hubbert's Peak since he had been working at OTA during the first one, and he commented that no-one believed that it was happening at the time (1970). Out of curiosity I chatted with a couple of colleaguea about some of Simmons material, and to a person they were unmoved. Amusing really, I talked with the Administrator, and she was somewhat horrified, but in todays culture it will all be forgotten until the day the fertilizer hits the old ventilator.

Alas having now heard three folk talk about what they would do in the Duchess position I am discouraged. Is there no vision and leadership required in Academe these days? It has all been along the lines of supporting the faculty and making the hard decisions, but no talk about vision and moving things on to some goal.

The lunch was in part because I made a meeting late, and I guess there was a spare seat at the table. Talking with the guests - a Venture Capital group, I ended up promising to send them some video (though later had to reneg since it was too big for an e-mail and so sent it on a CD). The chance of that doing any good is less than zero I suspect, but one must support the Tsar's attempts.

In additional complexity the Michigan folk want to come at the same time as the Utah folk, got that straightened out and the work to be done for Michigan is not working, and that is almost inexplicable - I guess that is where I will be tomorrow. And the Ohio folk needed a single slide showing with two photos and five sentences on what we had said we were going to do, what we are doing, where are we on the schedule and what possible use any of this might be. Yes on one slide. That is not actually what they got because what we are doing right now is remarkably unphotogenic - but we cobbled something together given the fact that this was needed by noon and there was this class right in the middle of that time frame.

Well I have goofed enough, if I am to have a carefree Thanksgiving there are lecture notes to prepare, and things to grade and - yes, that's where we all are.

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Sunday, November 21, 2004

England and China

Dear Blogger, this is the second time to try a long and complex blog that from now on I will save as a draft before I send (remember that you always fail to back up important files you absent-minded old ferret).

Mum was quite alert today and was watching "The Antiques Road Show" as usual. Did not have much in the way of news, snow is apparently imminent. She did win twenty quid on the Bingo the other night, but was more amused by the size of the drink that 50p purchased. It was about five times the size of the brandy tot that four times that price would usually get for you in a pub. The Nurse will drop in to see her in a couple of weeks.

In regard to the number I was given in the previous post, it is remarkably accurate, as illustrated by the effort that is currently sucking me into long hours of peering around the internet on energy matters. The info on the Ghawar oil field, and its imminent collapse was motivated by the need for a proper intro to the Grad seminar. But it has opened a line of questions I am off to find the answers too.

In that regard I see that Prof Goose has been following the same issue and has some of the same comments. Anyone who thinks that the Chinese will slow their growth (given among other things the potential face that they will gain from the World with the progress and status they show at the next Olympic Games) is kidding only themselves. Thus if, as The Telegraph points out, China is now getting significant supplies from the Sudan and Iran, this may be an explanation as to why we are not as bellicose in those areas as were a while ago, could it be that Big Brother has showed up?

I regard to the Saudi situation there is a lot that can be found on the Web, and since we have to go out for dinner, let me merely direct you to two places that explain the worries about the the Ghawar oil field and its problems (you can find more sites through a Google search with those key words, especially if you include the word “Simmons”). Otherwise go to G.R. Morton and Mathew Simmons.

I ordered four of the relevant books (skipping a couple that did not get good reviews) from Amazon last night (after “Calendar Girls”) so will probably blog on this again.

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And the number is . . .

Incited by Jimbo and profgrrrl , and not to forget New Kid the number is:





You Are the Investigator



5




You're independent - and a logical analytical thinker.

You love learning and ideas... and know things no one else does.

Bored by small talk, you refuse to participate in boring conversations.

You are open minded. A visionary. You understand the world and may change it.


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Friday, November 19, 2004

Practice

Today we found that Petroleum World gave the figures for oil production last month:

OPEC crude production rose 110,000 b/d to 30.3-mil b/d in October from 30.19-mil b/d in September, a Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials showed Tuesday.

Iraq, whose output rose to 2.2-mil b/d in October from 2.1-mil b/d in September, accounted for almost all of the increase. Excluding Iraq, the 10 members nominally bound by OPEC's formal quotas pumped an average 28.1-mil b/d in October, just 10,000 b/d higher than September's 28.09-mil b/d.

Algeria, Kuwait and Nigeria boosted output by 10,000 b/d, 40,000 b/d and 20,000 b/d, respectively, while Iranian and Saudi production fell by 30,000 b/d each.

This is interesting since it suggests that there is a problem is Saudi, which as indicated elsewhere by Bill Powers in likely to be due to a decline in production from the Ghawar field, which would translate into around 360,000 b/d decline over a year and which could be tied to their method of extraction which is very similar to that of the Yibal field in Oman
Yibal’s life cycle is important because many of the same EOR techniques used on the field have also been employed on the world’s largest oil field, Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar. In a February 2004 symposium at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, energy investment banker Matt Simmons confronted two Saudi Aramco officials with the suggestion that the advanced recovery techniques used at Ghawar, which produces approximately 4.5 million bbl/d, have created an illusionary “fountain of youth” for the field. Simmons’ theory, which is based on the review of over 200 technical papers, suggests that the combination of horizontal drilling and water flooding has allowed Aramco to keep Ghawar production flat at the expense of future production. More importantly, Simmons believes that Ghawar’s rising water cuts indicate that the field is about to head into terminal and irreversible decline. Should Ghawar’s water cuts keep rising similar to Yibal’s; the world will soon experience triple digit oil prices.


The Yibal field was doing quite well with steady production until they tried the new methods and as Shell has found the end result has been close to catastrophic:
"The declines in the Yibal field are spelled out by officials of the joint venture in two papers that were published last year by the Society of Petroleum Engineers. The papers have different numbers: both say production peaked in 1997, but one said it declined to its current rate of 88,057 barrels a day by 2000 from a peak of 251,592, while the other said it fell to 95,000 barrels from 225,000. A spokeswoman for the society said she could not explain the difference.

Both papers say that about 90 percent of the liquid coming out of the ground is water and 10 percent is oil. The high volume of water, one paper said, comes in part from the water that Shell injects into the ground as part of its horizontal drilling technique, which it introduced to Oman in the early 1990's. The relatively high volume of water being pumped up adds considerably to the costs of extracting the oil."


Current production from that field is quoted elsewhere as having fallen beteen 2001 and now to less than 50,000 mbd from the peak of around 250,000 b/d. What makes this more worrisome is that the same techniques were applied in Saudi in the Ghawar field which currently produces between 4.5 and 5 mbd (6% of the world supply) and some of those wells are already flowing 50% water. This could mean an imminent collapse of production from that field, which would not be pleasant. For while the Saudi Oil Ministry has talked about increasing production it is only by on the order of 1 million b/d which must be set against these losses and the fact that the Saudi reserves are currently considered to be the only source for matching the increase in demand for oil world-wide next year, which is postulated to be at around 2 million b/d.


By the way while all these facts were pulled from the various sites today, and while all of this, and a lot more, is true, I am actually posting this as a practice on how to import text from other sites. Following this I have to learn to import graphs so that you can see how production from non-OPEC countries is now in decline, and that life could soon become a whole lot more interesting. For while Europe could cope with $7 a gallon for gas quite easily, paying $100 for a fill-up might be quite an eye opener over here.

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Bull's Blood

About 40 some years ago as a young grad student I hosted a party and wandered down to an off-license in Leeds to get some wine for the event. Being, as we all were, flat broke, I asked for advice and the vitner suggested that I get some Egri Bikaver and open it early in the day and serve it at night. I did and the party was quite succcessful (though that could have been for other reasons- grads and parties being what they are and then were). I have had a gentle fondness for that wine ever since and since it is still very cheap I do pick up the odd bottle and, as tonight, enjoy the odd sip. It went well with the Stroganoff (tonight on toast).

Well last night was interesting - I had our new Secretary of State for the state for five whole minutes while I expounded on Hubbart's Peak and the cliff we are heading over and discovered from the Prince that a job I had forgotten about is apparently going to happen fairly soon (to my awkward embarassment since this in front of several VIPs and I had no clue initially what the conversation was about). Today we had a hard look at where we are, and despite this particular place having a major budget problem that ain't going away have had to begin to face that we in our operation may need to start hiring additional folk to meet the research demand. (When I started writing this at the beginning of the summer we were funded on three projects and I was anticipating handing in my retirement about now - we are now funded on nine different problems and are negotiating on a couple more)

Which relates to an interesting lunch with the Duchess's competition. This, relatively wise, but probably unsuccessful, candidate, commented that being appointed at the same time as a new Tsar was not a really wonderful position to be in, and in review I think that this is a very valid consideration, though sadly it will likely lead to a withdrawal in this case. Given that the first candidate was a disaster, and that the third is the Duchess, that only leaves candidate four to prevent the Prince getting the candidate that he desired to be nominated and that will not, alas, be a good result.

If I can learn how do do quotes tomorrow, and can track back to the sites, I may have more to say on the sad situation vis-s-vis oil, since the actual situation is turning out to be a lot worse than the general summaries that I have been relying on. But that means I need to venture forth into blogdom to follow these insidious leads. What was that about this being a passive pursuit?



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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Pre-Thanksgiving

Ah, without comment, I see that they have just brought the turkey to the White House.

Well whaddya know - some time ago I mentioned a contact from Washington about doing some work for them. Turns out it was actually from Calgary and today they called to see if we were still interested. And they need it soon - the only question is who is available. At another meeting today it was noted that while our Chinese grad student numbers are relatively steady those from India are down very significantly, which I would have thought would have been the other way around. Having both, and not having had any trouble getting them here so far, it is something I need to find out a bit more about. But that doesn't make it any easier to find someone to work on the new projects now appearing and not anticipated.

It also starts to identify another problem. There is an article in US News this week (reading it in paper I am not sure how to locate the electronic version). It comments that half the Federal Work force can retire in five years. There are a lot of science and engineering faculty in the same boat. And the crop of replacements are more often than not from abroad and increasing numbers of these are not staying, but going home. Where is the institutional memory going to be and where the experts as we face new challenges - not in the glamor fields such as stem cell, but in the more mundane areas that keep us going today? Unfortunately it is not a problem likely to be addressed in the next few years, not that I have any great ideas how the solution can be rapidly put into place. We will only address it when it becomes a seriously obvious issue.

This being a week that the Actress is otherwise engaged professionally most evenings, tonight I did not get finished at the office until 7 pm and did not feel like cooking, so I grabbed some KFC on the way home. And then given the Canadian news I pulled a bottle that had an friable cork top out of the cupboard. When I opened it I discovered that to accompany the succulent offerings of the Colonel I was consuming a 1992 Beerenauslese. I was still giggling over the mix when a friend called. Ah, well! And yes it survived all those years back there remarkably well and is delicious. Pity that tomorrow is full from first thing, with the Duchess rival in for a presentation I need to be at, and then the more important meeting on Friday. And then there is the reception tomorrow night, the extension for Indiana, the . . .Well the Administrator is keeping the list and commented as she left tonight that not only did we not get anything struck off today, we added a fair number of new things. Fill the glass and fire up the computer . .

Guilt - out of curiosity I just looked the bottle up under Google - Wow, I should definitely have saved this to share with the Advocate and friend when they visit next week. But then I would only have got one glass . . . .so I would . . . grin.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Playing with numbers

That thought was going to start a little blog on who does the majority of the research on a campus. At our meeting this morning the Dauphin had played with the number table I had put together on the research productivity for last year. He commented that the data showed that after one became a full Prof that the effort seemed to decline. I am glad he did it, since I had been intending too, since one of the reasons I keep generating the data is that when we started 9 years ago this was something that we noted, not only here but also in one of the national studies that we referenced. Had I time or a student I might have them color code the data for each year, but it means going back and flagging when everyone got promotion and it seems a bit of an effort for now. Still there are academic and societal reasons why one might expect this to happen and I did write on it once, though this was before the advent of blogs.

The other numbers I am playing with are all those slides I have been merrily scanning in with one hand while doing the rest of the work with the other. Well they are all tif files and just as scanned in, and they sit by the gigabyte on the hard drive. So now, to use them, I have to open each file (in Photoshop) crop, rotate, color correct, light balance, sharpen, resave and each one is done. This is not brain-dead work and takes a fair while, and then after having done a fair few I have to move the files into the various bins assigned to the relevant project (and titled by whatever whim grabs me). However this will mean (oh what a silly hope) that one day I will just open the drive and pull out immediately all those pics that will allow me to give a properly illustrated talk. Uh huh! And how many thousand of these have we to do? But at least working on that over lunch I did find four slides that will fit nicely into the Seminar for Friday.

One of our key toys broke a part this morning and so we are not doing a lot until it gets fixed. (Lots of emergency phone calls). Oh and in the meeting this morning Sniffer sort of hinted to Dauphin that perhaps if Dauphin was running for the Tsar's Crown that he might want to engage in some positive PR to cover a certain recent problem. It was one of those moments when you are not sure that you really want to be there, and the response was very non-commital - Heee!

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Monday, November 15, 2004

Boots made for walking

Well there it was, Saturday, and so off we went to the mall where, in accord with a popular opinion or two boots were purchased. But not just one pair, it having been that sort of a week there were three new pairs in the trunk (as well as a couple of shirts just to be even) as we came home. Out to both lunch and dinner and so no work, and then on Sunday we went and saw "The Incredibles" - which was very good and relaxing, and lo a weekend without work. These things must be done since I now feel much better, and though the class went rather poorly today (a pity since I liked the topic) I am now going to be a little more enthusiastic. Which is good since a whole lot of pots are just starting to come to the boil. A second candidate for the Duchess job shows up this week, and it's my turn for the Grad Seminar.

But the order for the toy was placed today (three different people made a point of making sure I knew).

Mum was also fairly up to snuff yesterday, though if you don't jog her memory about what happened during the week, she tends to have forgotten, but then I think in some ways we are all a bit that way. Lamb chilli is not a good idea, at least according to tonight's recipe.

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Saturday, November 13, 2004

First Fire

Came home to the warmth of a glowing hearth, but alas with Menopause there are good days and then there are . . . . .others!

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Thursday, November 11, 2004

A Quick Switch

So Firefox came out today, and with the limitations of Safari I have switched over, and now have to find out how to use the new features. I think that I can work out how to do bold and italic - ah! Now how about a link? Hmm! Well over at Reuters they are commenting on the sharp drop in oil prices to only $48 a barrel - ah how quickly we forget. And in regard to next years increase in production it is interesting to look at OPEC capacity. Now where are they going to get that additional 2 million barrels? Hmm I suspect that after the Iraqi election they expect the country will stabilize so fast that by this time next year it won't be a problem. Uhuh!

I think I will wait until the weekend to try adding blocks of text and illustrations. But yes! this is much easier, especially when I use Safari to find the links so that I don't have to move over my Bookmarks, which Firefox apparently doesn't want to do yet.

Other than that I was up a fair bit overnight as Arthur dropped by to remind me he lives here now and so I eventually had to get up and take a pill. So I did not go until late and two meetings on current work took up most of the afternoon and early evening. Then off to meet the Actress and dinner and an evening out. Not a whole lot done therefor, but I did come up with a couple of new ideas while we were out and scribbled them on the program, will see what folks think in the morning.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

How quickly a viewpoint changes

It is interesting, as oil prices dance about at just below $50 a barrel, how quickly this has become accepted, and the reality of the price remaining in this range through the winter now seems beyond comment. And now we are seeing promises that OPEC will produce an additional 2 to 3 million barrels/day next year, with the result that oil will drop to perhaps $30 a barrel. Somehow I do not think it is going to happen. Tom Engelhardt refers to a piece in Mother Jones that gives a better picture of the more likely future. And yet there is a total unwillingness to grasp that this is a problem, since even the articles cited fail to grasp that it will take over 20 years for any technology not now in production to have any effect on the world energy picture. (Dixie Lee Ray explained why in a very detailed argument back in the '70's at the time of the last little Energy problem).

And where are all the experts going to come from to solve the problems ? Those who looked at these issues back then are all retired or retiring, and the information is often already lost. Sadly I do not think that it will be pleasant and there will be lots of blame but little positive action.

Speaking of positive action, there has been no positive movement on the toy purchase yet, though we seem to be getting a little closer (but we are now waiting for a bidder to accept that they are not qualified which seems a slightly odd way of doing business). But I taught a couple of classes, ran a demo, accepted the job of reviewing another paper for a journal and tried to give someone else the task of calling about getting more work, since I seem to have a relatively full plate these days.

I did have that little chat with my colleague and so we had a meeting late this afternoon and with a little gentle prodding got the critical issues addressed that will get the program back to schedule. But she flies out again tomorrow noon for another meeting. Yes there is a lot to be said to being dedicated to making enough contacts to generate funding, but by the same token when you have it you must satisfy the customer and so I can see having to play the curious paternal figure more than I care to.

UPDATE
My comments on wishful thinking in regard to oil prices were from the latest comments from the International Energy Agency (IEA). What is interesting to note - given the claims by the Saudi that they were going to increase production by (pick a figure) is that in the latest report Saudi production actually fell last month by 30,000 b/d.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Joys of "Been There....."

I must confess that occasionally there is a frustration in trying to remain unknown - said as I delete a long comment on some of todays news - but I need to balance the liberation of mind that comes from the destruction of a bottle of Caol Ila with the reality of tomorrow.

This was another day when I commented to staff about the "having a bad week, sir" syndrome. Although having sat down with the Purchasing Agent (in fairness to whom it must be said that until today this had all been handled on our part through one of my staff) I do believe we have finally got it accepted that our choice of vendor for the toy is perhaps justified (my tongue is still bleeding). And so now we must go through the wait to find if this will finally get translated into action.

Our great hope for a new contract died just before lunch, but on the other hand the work with Indiana that was supposed to be over has potentially been transfused to last another year and so I must write a justification that I had thought in vain.

How to create a vision in an hour? This is the time I have tomorrow to talk to a colleague's class which gives her a break and perhaps them a bit more enthusiasm for the class. The only snag - it took 2 tries and 2 computers to get a few (15) minutes of video segments onto a DVD to back up my talk - there are a couple of problems with iDVD I just did not feel up to working through, but had no choice - grrrrrrr!

Then Blower arrived, our very old and dear friend from far under (the person that led us to spend my Sabbatical in Brisbane - a place the Actress would return to tomorrow) He is in the process of changing jobs and so we spent a lot of time (and good malt) talking about our lives and experiences. He left here with a newly born daughter that just got married, for eg.

We talked about Kathmandu and my need to take the Actress there (he and his family have been several times) but mainly we talked about decisions on careers at the other end of one's professional life. He has two very different opportunities either of which can lead him to becoming, in his field, the recognized world authority ( he is pretty close now). So do you do it through a Governement job or through more of a private industry/university collaboration, with the latter demanding huge amounts more time - but giving ultimately more rewards. But bear in mind that "We are old, Father William," and that we don't have the energy to rebuild a program (which is why although I had written out exactly what to do to build the position that I declined that recent offer) and that sometimes it is better to guide others to do and get credit for the work that to do it all yourself (Old Ferret position and justification number 432754).

There are but these few, these very old and trusted friends with whom we share our deepest hopes and worries, and it is so amazing to me that we have them. We are close enough that the Actress can say "Goodnight, we have to be up to do ..." as they did without concern before - there is no longer any need for pretence or to prove anything to one another. it is an unexpected benefit to life I had not expected.

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Monday, November 08, 2004

Time's a Wastin'

There are odd coments around about the accuracy of the count in some precincts in both Florida (where some of the vote numbers seem to have been reversed) and Ohio (where there were more voters showed up in a significant number of precincts and voted than were on the rolls) that remain curious, but I guess it is time to move on.

Amused myself this evening with the Lost in Time segments of old Dr Who episodes that have been pieced together to fill some of the voids left when the Beeb burned the originals all those many years ago (though take heart he is to return). Why do that, well it was a fairly good attempt to calm down after coming home spitting furious again.

The toy I had signed the purchase order for has not been ordered. The Head Purchasing Agent has decided that there are some questions and despite the fact that her assistant told me I could only order from one company without rebidding now the almighty power (about two weeks later) had decided that it is not correct. The item takes 2 months to build, and another month to be moved and installed. The contract is of a finite length and we are already 7 months into it. Exactly when are we supposed to do the work that must be done by the next review period if we do not have the machine to do it with? Unbelievable and further it will continue to be on hold until she decides it is to be ordered and our expert opinion is apparently meaningless. The last time she did this on a time critical part I had no choice but to order from a company that failed to deliver a working model, took a month to get the item working and subsequently went bankrupt. One wonders who is working for who around here. (Well actually one doesn't, one is only too well aware of the harsh reality).

And this is the week a friend for abroad drops by so there goes tomorrow afternoon and evening and on Wednesday I had promised to give a class for a colleague and as I type I realize that I am also supposed to be at a farewell reception at the same time. Could it be that this is the start of another "Bad Week."

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Sunday, November 07, 2004

Gentle Sadness and an English Explanation

The Actress is still very down, but is now starting to talk about it. And she talked to the Advocate twice today, so I think the election result will start to move behind us. Flying out to DC I had never felt the atmosphere to be as subdued as it was at the airport at this end. At the other business as usual.

I am reminded of the jingle "Horses sweat, men perspire, while ladies merely glow." Since it was clear from coming home that this would be chimney cleaning day. (How high do you pile wood around a stove before I notice). Now the thing is that I like to exercise on a Sunday morning (nothing dramatic I used to do the Firm Tough tapes but have got out of the habit and so am now down to Crunch Turbo) any way, after that I need to shower, and after sweeping the chimney I need to shower, but two showers would be a waste so I should do both before showering. But I can't lie down all dirty, and so one exercises, and then sweeps the chimney.

Hmm! Well soot doesn't stick to glow, and it isn't spotty like perspiration, so I as I contemplate soot positively glued to the corpus I suppose there is nothing left to do but Neigh! But it's done for the year and now we return to the routine of splitting wood at night.

Talked to Mum today and last week she and most of those at the home came down with a 24-hour virus so that she was put to bed with 2 gallons of water and a straw. Plus I would surmise, she was given some pills since she says she vaguely remembers hearing the phone ring but was confused and did not connect it with anything until the following day. But now she feels much better and sounded that way. The Engineer will drop by and visit her on Thursday.

I should have done much this weekend but after getting to the office yesterday it took all afternoon to get the illustrations for the notes transcribed from PICTs to jpgs and then to reinsert them in the text, so that I will only be able to post them first thing tomorrow. I could have gone in today I suppose, but if there are some authors I buy in hardback, there are about two or three that I pre-order and one of those David Weber came out with "Shadow of Saganami" which arrived while I was away. If I had been more in the mood I would have re-read the prequil, but wasn't and didn't and just sat around like a walnut until it was done. Much better and with the explanations of the politics which I enjoy, though it makes some of his other readers a bit fractious.

I am stil sad, and not reading a lot about the election, the electronic report of 4000+ votes for Bush in a precinct with less than 1000 voters niggles away so that I hope the nation can move to paper printouts to validate votes - but is it likely in Bushland - and why are they afraid of it? And why aren't the Catholic Cardinals making rude noises about Arnold? I need to start doing some new work hobby - maybe back to photo correcting, or there are those maps of Ypres. . . . . .

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Friday, November 05, 2004

Work helps

Perhaps last night's comment owes a little too much to the ongoing discussion that ended in the bar. For while the overall comments on our little workshop are long term true, there is a long way and a whole lot of things that have to happen before those changes might occur, and it will involve a whole lot of better qualified folk than your humble servant. But we were discussing the ways in which policy gets set, and where the experts are, and how, among other things, some of the larger companies are now moving significant parts of their research effort abroad.

The workshop itself was exhilarating - it was facilitated and this was a really good thing since at about 3:15 pm we were all tired (having flown in from various places then night before) and thinking of calling it quits for the night, but the facilitator told some funny stories and in two hours pulled about 250 ideas out of the group (we were less than 20 folk). Then today we refined and merged and debated and by the time we were done had this folded into five paths forward. My part was relatively minor but just being a part was great, though it continued, far too late last night. (Our concern is that it's fine making a roadmap but somebody has to drive along it, or in this case a whole lot of somebodies have to drive along it to make it work, and the question comes as to where the somebodies are).

Well, any hoo, it's going to be time tomorrow to get back into the routine, go prepare class, visit the bookstore, and off to the theater in the evening. ( And work out how I am going to politely express displeasure to a colleague on Monday - the down side of the job).

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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Was it a waste of time

I am currently at a meeting of folks in an area of relatively high interest to the Government and we have had a very productive day working way past closing time on where we should plot the roadmap. Then we went out to dinner and more than a little acrimony and heated discussion about what happened this week politically. The sad thing is that what we are discussing is of huge economic importance to future growth, but at the same time we are increasingly nervous that science is no longer the driver, and that what we have done today is an interesting exercise that may go nowhere.

We must now wait and see who, in reality, is calling the shots from now on out.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A tired day

By going to the county polls in Ohio I realized that by 1 am this was not going to be over, and went to bed (earlier than most it turns out) and then could not sleep. Up and off to prepare for class, the presentation for Szlachta to give to the wheel later in the week (and approve the little gift therefor that I spent an hour yesterday getting up to par - note that rolling up your pants to keep them dry only makes it worse if they get wet). Then after class to an Admin meeting run by the Prince, and then off to the airport.

This is being written in the Crowne Plaza in Crystal City, for some reason they now give aromatherapy (lavendar spray) for the sheets and a CD on relaxation, but I have to confess that rather than going off with everyone for a Hamburger, I snuck off for the odd heavy gin and lamb. so while the CD tells me to relax and let go, I write this and decide not to have a hot chocolate.

"Can I feel my toes?" this is definitely an interesting CD and there are two in the room so I may just half-inch one of them.

There is a down side to being a mentor and sadly that comes about when the performance is not up to snuff. And I do have a problem - that for contractural reasons must be resolved early next week. You know - in the phrase I gave the housemaster before I got caned - "I guess I had a bad week, sir!"

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Voting is heavy

Well they had doubled the number of lines available and it still took an hour (which is about how long it took with less lines four years ago). , By the time I left the building the lines were longer than when I went in. There were only a couple of people on the page with my name that had not voted (and this is at 9 am). Talking with others everywhere is seeing the same sort of turnout around here. There were no parking spaces left around the voting place. The Specialist lives out in the country and normally he is the first to vote, today (at the same time) he was number 23.

Could make for some interesting results further down the ticket.

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Monday, November 01, 2004

Part of the Job

Well the Prince Regent approved our selection last week, and that has now moved on, much to everyone's relief. In regard to the other selection, the meeting early this morning was actually very useful even though there was a minor attempt to just have the whole thing handled by e-mail with no committee interaction. It turns out there is are good reasons why we only are considering one candidate, and given the need to move on we rubber stamped the decision.

The class is now going quite well with argumentative discussion that I had not hoped for at the beginning.

And so on to presentation preparation this afternoon (while brainlessly scanning in slides with the other hand). It was obviously too much of a good day. The grad student with whom I was going to chat about his project (and for which I had set up a little presentation) chose not to show, and two faculty having both had strong attacks of the "Octobers" dropped by for some general moaning and seeking a bit of cheering up. Neither would take my offer of a hot drink ("Hot tea" was my Mum's palliative and even if not Earl Gray (grin) has been a good standby in these cases (other than dragging said individual off for a pint which in this case would not have been a good idea). A significant part of both problems is he I shall call Blarney, another DC in the Duchy, and most likely to be gone at the end of next semester. In the mean time life is being made rather miserable for the junior faculty. So I muttered the platitudes about the times, and the major changes after this year, and how they are appreciated (which they really are, but Blarney does not believe in telling his faculty that). One has definitely decided to look around and at the end somewhat awkwardly asked if I would be a reference. I suspect the first we will know about the other's intentions will be when we get his farewell letter. But I would like to think I made a little progress, though it will take a few more chats to really find out.

I am now going to close this and not look at another political blog until Wednesday, because if I don't I may well drive us nuts with pointless worrying - since it is now all over bar the voting and the counting. Sweet Dreams, y'all.

I wonder why I could not get through to Mum yesterday?

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