Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Candyman VIII

Ah, Halloween. The one day a year when I don't have to immediately change clothes when I get home from work.

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Hey kid, want some candy?

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Merriwether's definition of "A good day at work" is when the blood splattered across your gear came from someone else.

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Miniwether loves daddy. Mambowether loves candy.

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Why the neighbors no longer ask if I can give them a hand...

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It's amazing what one can find out in the woods.

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Gee, Wolverine has the same smile I had when I was surrounded by cheerleaders (who had really good smelling hair)!

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Oh yeah, they'll sleep tonight. :-/

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Not every kid makes it home from the Candyman's house...

Adventure! Excitement! Gore (which is almost as frightening as Hillary)!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

San Jacinto GPS Coordinates

Many moons ago Clark and I did a canoe trip down the San Jacinto and said I'd post GPS coordinates of where I launched, landed, and had to portage around blockages. As usual, life got in the way of writing that info up. Luckily a reader reminded me so let's retrip San Jacinto!

We launched from McDade Park (3750 FM 2854, Conroe, TX 77304).
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The spot marked on the map is just a little east of the park. The GPS coordinates of the actual launch site inside the park, just north/east of the parking lot are:
30 degrees 18'55.48" N
95 degrees 30'41.18" W

The first problem spot we hit was a big pipe blocking the river. The banks on either side were steep and completely overgrown which would make getting around it very difficult. The river was low enough when we went that we were able to shove Seeker's Fate under the pipe, but at the time the San Jacinto was almost dry and we spent most of the day dragging the canoe. If there's enough water to paddle then getting over the pipe is a challange left to the reader.
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GPS coordinates:
30 degrees 18' 40.15" N
95 degrees 30' 40.23 W

After that it was pretty much clear, uh, dragging, until a fallen tree. getting around it was no problem.
GPS Coordinates:
30 deg. 18' 06.42" N
95 deg. 31' 31.83" W

The next blockage was much larger, and we needed to portage almost 0.1 miles to get around it. We probably could have gotten back into the river earlier, but we saw the biggest cottonmouth we've ever encountered swimming in the water behind the log jam.
GPS coordinates:
30 deg. 17' 59.50" N
95 deg. 31' 09.08" W

A large creek (I can't remember it's name) joined the San Jacinto at:
30 deg. 16' 03.64" N
95 deg. 29' 33.80" W
The San Jacinto becomes much nicer to paddle after this point due to the water flow almost doubling.

The biggest challange came at the railroad tressle just east of I-45. Years of flood waters had built a wall of logs five feet high and ten feet wide. The water on either side of this jam was nasty, brown, stinky and filled with trash. A person could take out here in the north side of the river.
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GPS Coordinates:
30 deg. 14' 41.10" N
95 deg. 27' 22.48" W

Our plan was to make it all the way downstream to where the San Jacinto passes under Hwy. 59 north of Humble, TX. However, having to drag Seeker's Fate for half the trip coupled with being layed up by lightening storms we ended up taking out at the landing under Hwy 242, just northeast of The Woodlands.
GPS coordinates:
30 deg. 12' 37.68" N
95 deg. 23' 53.33" W

To get to this landing you need to exit Hwy 242 East at coordinates:
30 deg. 12' 30.62" N
95 deg. 24' 33.99" W
From there head east along Hwy. 242 for a little over 0.4 miles to where it makes a "U" under Hwy. 242. Do not take the "U" but instead keep heading east down the dirt road next to the mulch company. Keep heading east until you hit the river. This road is very rough, deeply potholed, and often muddy. A lot of people (fishers, paddlers, trash dumpers and drunk teenagers) use this launch under Hwy 242, so I do not reccomend leaving your vehicle there unattended. Actually, it was a pretty miserable place to end a wonderful trip and it really bummed me out.

It would have been about another 18 miles as the river flows to get to Hwy. 59 and that would have taken another 4-6 hours. The GPS coordinates for the Hwy. 59 take out are:
30 deg. 01' 45.99" N
95 deg. 15' 36.15" W
You can get out either north or south of the river under Hwy 59.

The San Jacinto is a beautiful river with tons of wildlife, but it's not the easiest river to paddle. Definately check the flow rate before heading out. I'm guessing it needs to be up around 60-100 cfs to make a drag-free trip.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tom S. FTW!!!!

Okay, it was a hard choice but I have to say Tom S. is the winner!

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It has everything in it: my family, violence, outdoorsy stuff, love, and blinking lights. His entry captures perfectly the joy/beauty/terror that is my life.

And what has Tom won? Why, this totally cool Chinese emergency knife!
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I picked it up in a small "7-11" type store in Guangzhou while adopting Mambowether. It's about 2.5" long when closed and has a half serrated/half plain edge. I thought it was pretty cool and now Tom, it's yours! I'll get your mailing address via e-mail and ship it out to you.

Thanks for playing everyone!

Adventure! Excitement! Shiney-Pointies!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Best Neighbor in the World

Last Thursday my boss walks into my office and asks if I want to go to the Texans-Titans game on Sunday.

HELL YEAH!!!

So, of course being fate's plaything when I get home that evening Mambowether is burning up with a fever. By Saturday night the fever had dropped some but she was still sick with a bad cold. Misseswether was scheduled to teach Miniwether's Sunday school the next day and someone had to stay home with Mambowether.

But, the tickets were to a Luxury Suite!
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Enter the greatest neighbor ever. I called him at 9pm Saturday night to see if he could babysit sick Mambowether for two hours between me leaving for the game and Mini/Misseswether getting back from church. He immediately said yes.

WOO HOO!!!!

So, 11am Sunday morning I'm walking into Reliant Stadium with my boss, my lab-tech, and a sales rep from a supplier.
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A private elevator took us up to Suite 107, and three hours of royal treatment.

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Neverending supply of nachos, hotdogs, and chicken fingers.

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Neverending supply of sodas, beer, and hard alcohol.

Actually, they ran out of Crown royal and I had to switch to Jim Beam Black. Of course, by number seven it was a little hard to tell the difference.

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Neverending supply of ice cream and toppings.

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Neverending supply of cheerleaders.

Acually, the cheerleaders left pretty quickly. Luckily I was able to figure out how to take pictures through the complimentry binoculars.

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Woo hoo!

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Woo ho..wait, who the hell is that fat guy and why does he get to stand there?

Ah, sometimes my life can be so very, very good. Free food, drinks, snacks, doodads and lovely-smelling cheerleader hair.

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Happy, happy adventurer!

Oh yeah, there was also what turned out the be the worst football game in the history of football games being played out in front of us. Trust me, both the Texans and the Titans played like drunken leper nuns. Absolutely pathetic.

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Or so I was told afterwards. Let's face it, the suite was too nice to waste time watching the game!

And now the confession: I got a bit drunk at the game. Luckily I wasn't driving, a coworker dumped me out into my lawn after the game. Misseswether was rather unhappy. In fact, so unhappy that after dragging my inside she took the girls, went out shopping...and bought an electric keyboard. One minute I'm surrounded by very lovely cheerleaders and the next I'm laying on my entryway floor being blasted by two kids slamming the keys of an electric piano...

Adventure! Excitement! A Chance To Live Like A Star For A Few Hours!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Breaking Ground Then Home Again

"You probably want your earplugs in."
-Field Engineer just before firing up 27,000 horsepower worth of pumping equipment.

I've mentioned a few times in the past that I'm a glorified Roto-Rooter Man for oil/gas wells. It can be a real high-pressure job.

Ha ha ha! Uh, actually that pun will make more sense in a few paragraphs.

Last Thursday I had to make a quick run out to West Texas to observe a job. The well was located about sixty miles southwest of Ozona, Texas. To put that in perspective, Ozona is the ONLY town in Crockett County, Texas. This county covers 2,807 SQUARE MILES! I was on the far side of nowhere.

Which was actually a very lovely place.

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Wow, nothing but cactus, cedars, yuccas, rattlesnakes and dust for about a zillion miles in any direction. I could live here. I'd really miss Misseswether though.

We were there to run a foamed acid frac on a natural gas well. This involves pumping 60,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid and liquified carbon dioxide gas 15,000 feet down a well with enough force to shatter the earth with 600-foot cracks radiating from the well. The acid then chewed up the surfaces of these long cracks (aka fractures or "fracs"), opening them even wider so the natural gas could flow out easier. After pumping the acid was finished the carbon dioxide turns back to a gas and forces all the spent fluid back out of the well.

It's a thing of beauty.

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The convoy arrives.

We had ten 10,000 gallon acid tanks (several were spares), ten pump trucks (2,700 hp each), two chemical blenders, four liquified carbon dioxide tankers, and assorted other support vehicles, control vans and a portable chemistry lab.

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Frac tanks.

The tanks on the right held the acid and the things on the left were the chemical blenders. They mixed assorted corrosion inhibitors, friction reducers, iron control agents, and acid gellants into the acid.

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Blender unit. This measured out the different chemical additives and injected them into the acid.

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Rigging up the big iron, which means attaching the steel pipes from the pump trucks to the wellhead.

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The well-head, ready to go. The red pipes carry the carbon dioxide and the gray pipes carry the acid/chemicals.

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The pump trucks getting ready to shatter earth.

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And so it begins.

The white plumes are jets of carbon dioxide freezing the air above the pump trucks. When everything is running at full power it kind of sounds like, well, the end of the world.

It's a thing of beauty.

Pumping the 60,000 gallons took 35 minutes, then everything had to be torn down, packed up and returned to base. I got to skip that part. It was 5pm in the evening at this point and I had to drive back to Houston, almost 600 miles away. I got home a minute before 4am Saturday morning and crawled into bed. Then I crawled back out at three hours later to watch the girls while Misseswether went to class.

But you know what, that was all right.

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Catching toads.

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Book time.

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Woodland Princess

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Mambowether...

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The Adventurer.

My life is so cool.

Adventure! Excitement! Excitement!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Entry #4

I once read a thing about how the reason a man has a cat is because he really wants a lion.

Rhonda.jpg
I'm wondering if a lion wouldn't be safer.

Thanks, Rhonda! Pleasent dreams to you, too! Suddenly my insomnia seems like a life-saving measure. :-)

Keep the posters coming folks, this is fun.

Adventure! Excitement! Revenge, A Dish Best Served Furry!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Entries #2 & #3

Well, the contest is picking up steam and entries are rolling in.

Entry #2 comes from Ironraven, a long-time friend via the Equipped To Survive forum. He continues with the skull/bones motif (always funny in my book!) with this Octobery poster:
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Maybe because it's hard to find man-sized plastic bags...uh, just saying.

Another Equipped To Survivefriend and future father-in-law to Miniwether and Mambowether reminds me why I'll have a long and happy marriage.
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Misseswether takes the whole "death do us part" thing VERY seriously.

That's the competition so far. Think you are good enough to play with these dogs? C'mon, let's see what you got!

Adventure! Excitement! Motivational Posters Which All Seem To Be Based On Violence!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Contest Entry #1

Okay, our first entry comes from long-time reader Chris D. He manages to wrap my love of Halloween, being prepared, and bizarre literature in one wonderful poster:

ChrisDEntry1.jpg
The quote is from "Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk. Seems very fitting, especially in conjunction with a basket of skulls and other bones.

Keep the entries coming folks! This is fun. And feel free to enter more than once!

Adventure! Excitement! Seeing how others see me!

Spiderworld

You may want to be careful if you are out in the Houston area woods as we are currently overrun with giant spiders!

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One of hundreds.

Every patch of woods I've been in in the last month has been swarming with these big spiders. That's so cool!

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They are over 4" from tip to tip, make webs 6-10 feet across and frikken everywhere. One the plus side, putting two of them in a jar together leads to some pretty awesome arachnidian battles. I wish I had gotten a picture of that.

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Instead, here's a picture of Clark taking a picture of one of the spiders.

Unrelated to the spiders, I have some great news about Jesse Jones Park. They are in the process of rebuilding their canoe/kayak launch!

JonesLanding.jpg
Cliff meets bulldozer, bulldozer wins.

This area currently has a big chainlink fence around it. I wonder if that means people shouldn't be poking around there? If that were the case they wouldn't have made the fence only seven feet tall. I don't know when the landing is supposed to be finished, but this new landing is going to make it a lot easier to take out here.

Adventure! Excitement! Arachnids!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Contest!

I'm assuming many of you have seen/heard/been annoyed by Successories corporate slogan posters. They have pretty pictures and extoll the virtues of team work, innovation, and selling your soul to the company leaders. They adorn the walls, calenders and mugs of my workplace.

Of course, something so sugary must be mocked.

Better still, you can make your own, and that's where the contest comes in. If you go to THIS LINK you can make your own Successories-style poster. What I want is for you to take pictures from my blog and make a funny poster.

For example:
motivator.jpg

Now to do this you need to download the picture of your choice from my flickr.com pages (click on a picture on my blog and it'll take you there) then upload the picture HERE. Add text, have the site work it's mojo, and save the resultant poster to your computer. Then email it to me at "merriwetheradventurer at yahoo dot com". I'll put the results up on this blog with credit to you. On Oct. 25th I'll choose the poster I like best and send it's creator something neat like a chunk of petrified wood or maybe a small compass.

Sidenote: please refrain from sex, religion or politics as it is far too easy to come up with jokes about those subjects in conjuction with canoes.

Adventure! Excitement! Filler!