OK, maybe not. But still - I had a vision yesterday of the future of GIS & pricing data intersecting in a way that would undermine a lot of today's retail environment. Imagine if you had a program. You enter your shopping list - groceries, toiletries, etc. You'd fill in some other parameters - Yes, I'm fine with generics; I only want to buy meat/fish/poultry from Safeway; I have time to visit 3 (or 4, or 1) locations; maybe something like Yes, I'm fine with buying a bigger size box or getting 2 boxes of Cheerios instead of 1 if there's a sale. Then the program checks prices on all the items on your list at: Kroger, CVS, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, etc. It maps the nearest locations to where you are. It considers your parameters (I'm in a hurry today - let's get this done in 2 stops). And then it gives you your shopping lists, broken down by destination. Cool! I'm going to Target to get toilet paper, blueberries, peanut butter, eggs, & orange juice (buy 2 bottles & get free butter). Then I'm going to CVS to get shampoo, canned soup, hamburger buns, & antiperspirant (which wasn't on today's list, but is on a general "Keep in Stock" list, & is on a really good sale).

I know there are people out there who sit down every week with the shopping circulars & coupon sheets, & compare prices until they've found the cheapest deals for each item. But I think that vast majority of us massively fail to optimize this process. There are websites out there to help, but I've never found them all that useful because they mostly address processed/frozen/canned foods, & they only show bargains - not everything that's for sale. So if I want to buy a specific thing (ORGANIC FRESH PEACHES), I can't find that specific thing. This may be because they don't have access to the stores' entire price database - I don't know.

Maybe programs aren't smart enough yet to incorporate the flexible rules I'm envisioning, & that I think would make such a program more appealing to shoppers. But I don't think we're far from this. Someday, there will be an app for that. And it will be a game-changer for retail.


Construction squirrel or Police squirrel?

I'm really not that great at making field identifications:

 photo bd858075-8564-4079-905e-3e3de367c129.jpg

Quiet day at the home office today. I'm banging out a Phase I ESA for a natural gas field in Wyoming for a Big O&G Client. It's going all right, but I'm missing quite a bit of data from the field team & so I'm writing a series of emails requesting more information. It's a beautiful day here today, so I've got the outside door propped open (which is how I spotted Mr. Donut Squirrel).



This glorious piece of knowledge floated back into my life today. For some reason, I was trying to remember where I first heard the acronym "SOCMOB", which stands for "standing on corner/minding own business". It turns out that EMTs & ER staff hear this phrase pretty frequently during patient admissions interviews, especially admissions involving a trauma diagnosis.

#Homeowners #insurance.

OK, what do I need in a homeowner's insurance policy?

What companies are good? What companies are bad?

What discounts should I look for (other than combining home & auto - that one I know)?

Other tips, stories, suggestions, advice welcome!!

Platelet count was low today #SaveLives

So today I had an appointment at Bonfils to donate platelets; however, my platelet count was too low, so I ended up donating red blood cells & plasma instead. Now I can't donate again until August 10th.

The phlebotomist said my platelet count was 150 & the minimum to donate is 190. The normal range for a platelet count ranges from 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood. So I'm guessing that "150" means 150,000 platelets/uL.

Not having enough platelets is a condition called thrombocytopenia. I don't have any of the symptoms of this condition, & none of the causes ring a bell. So I guess my normal platelet count is just on the low end of normal?

Oh well, back to donating whole blood. That's faster anyway.

Addendum: Also, my blood pressure was low today - 96/68, with a resting pulse rate of 68.


One month in. We've looked at nearly 30 houses, bid on two. We were the third-strongest bid on the first one, second-strongest bid on the second. Statistically speaking, we're gonna win the next one, amirite??

Part of the whole experience has been learning how to lower our standards. We started with a list of things that were MUST-HAVES:
  • 2 bathrooms
  • fireplace
  • basement
  • good kitchen
  • A/C
  • garage
  • big fenced backyard

.... & we thought we were being flexible when we said stuff like "Well, I guess a fence-ABLE yard would be okay...." HAHAHAH THE DENVER REAL ESTATE MARKET MOCKS OUR NAIVETE.

So here's a Facebook exchange between me & hotpantsgalore today:

HPG: what time are you going to be home friday?
HPG: That house isn't doing showings till Fri.
Me: Maybe by 2 PM?
Me: Make the appointment later than that just to be safe.
HPG: ok
HPG: not too much later
HPG: i'm gonna set up a sniper stand & shoot everyone else who comes to look at it after us
Me: Solid plan. All that exposed brick!
Me: That gorgeous kitchen!
HPG: I know! But it's only a 2/1
Me: We can deal with that. You may have to learn how to pee in the yard. Shadeaux can teach you.
Me: Not even for exposed brick?

Sifting through the files.

For two days this week, work actually pulled me from my Fortress of Solitude (home office) and sent me into downtown Denver, to a client’s office. I went through the acquisition files of a petroleum company and pulled all environmental records – why, I know not. Obviously, it was a pretty boring task, but it was sorta fun going into downtown on mass transit, seeing other people, & generally having a NYC flashback. The major drawback was having to dress like an adult (curse you, women’s dress shoes!).

Going through the files was drudgery, but I noticed some interesting things along the way:

• This petroleum company, which I will not name, is not a famous company. Yet they are operating hundreds (thousands?) of wells in dozens of states. They make acquisition decisions ($5 million purchase here, $18 million purchase there) with lightning speed – based on the correspondence, it’s often less than three months from the announcement of a sale to the cutting of the check.
• ALL their environmental due diligence has to happen within that short window. It looks like they are soliciting bids from environmental contractors on Monday, picking someone on Tuesday, sending them to the field on Wednesday, & expecting the report two weeks later. Sometimes for fields with 50-100 wells. It can’t be more than that most cursory of field inspections & briefest of records reviews. The acquisitions folks in this game must have serious cojones.
• The names of the fields are remarkably poetic &/or funny. I’ve seen Lonesome, Gooseneck Eld, Southern Comfort, Esperanza, Busy Bee, Zenith Bell, Tensleep, Whiskey Joe, Bayou Galore (perhaps my favorite, as it’s a mishmash of French & Gaelic borrow words), Mamie’s Meadow, Gold-Come-Free, & many other surprisingly whimsical names. There are more prosaic names as well, of course: fields are frequently named after landowners, nearby towns or waterways. I would’ve expected some alphanumeric grid naming system from petroleum engineers. I wonder how the fields get named?
• I am surprised at how many little bits of familiarity I keep tripping over in the files. Company names like Geraghty & Miller (an American precursor to the Empire of the Evil Orange Salamander), Woodward-Clyde (a legacy firm that’s now part of AECOM, like all firms eventually shall be), & Williams Energy Services (Spider-Dad used to work for Wil-Tel, a telecom spinoff of this natural gas company). I saw names of geological formations in Texas where I’ve drilled wells, & references to different pieces of equipment that I’ve fussed with. TCEQ forms I’ve filled out. TDWR permits I’ve had to file.

 photo IMG_31501.jpg

• There’s a brief period (~1998-1999) where the due diligence punch list included “Y2K Readiness”. Remember how worried everyone was about that, & how little actually went wrong? It seems the oil & gas industry took Y2K very seriously indeed.
• Some of these files go back as far as the mid-80s, which is not really all that long ago. Even so, they feel ancient. Letters are addressed non-specifically to “Gentlemen:” – ‘cause there ain’t no ladies in the oil bidness! The files include VHS tapes of site inspection visits (how would you even play one of those today?). Some of the old well logs are hand-colored with colored pencils, & some of the data printouts are from dot-matrix printers, with the perforated, holed strips along the sides where the paper roll attached to the printer’s wheels. There’s a lot of the old thermal facsimile paper in these files as well, still smelling slightly burned & smearing at the slightest touch.
• I’ve decided that Post-It notes are the modern world’s version of marginalia. The main author of many of the memos & correspondence in these files was a … pithy man, to put it mildly. Obviously not wanting to put his thoughts directly on file documents, instead he peppered them liberally with Post-It notes, pointing out portions of letters as “Total Bull-SHIT” or “stupid”. One had a surprisingly deft doodle showing an alligator’s head – drawn during a boring conference call, perhaps?

What did everyone else do at work this week?

For a moment, this email had me worried.

I got this email from the League of Conservation Voters this morning & it made me PANIC, momentarily:

 photo 20150515 keep the hive alive.png

Oh. They're talking about BEES.

SQUID practice 6-2015.

WARMUP ~ 500 yards
10 minute free swim workout.

FIRST SET = 400 yards
8 x 50 25 kick / 25 swim all free :10 rest

SECOND SET = 750 yards
3 x 250 free :30 rest

THIRD SET = 200 yards
4 x 50 kick IM order by 50 1:05 in 1:15 out, more or less

FOURTH SET = 800 yards
4 x 200 free 3:30

FIFTH SET = 200 yards
4 x 50 kick IM order by 50 1:05 in 1:15 out, more or less

SIXTH SET (includes WARMDOWN) = 750 yards
5 x 150 free :30 rest
(Last two reps were my warmdown.)

Total workout = 3,600 yards in ~90 minutes.
I did 3,550 yards (I didn't have time to finish the last 150 before we had to get out).
Cumulative distance with the SQUID = 15,300 yards (8.69 miles).


Apheresis, again. #giveblood

I donated platelets at Bonfils Blood Center again today, with no side effects or dizziness. So the trouble I had last time was hopefully a one-off. My BP was higher this time when I arrived, so that might have been the issue.

When I got home, I took Shadeaux for a walk & she pulled her 21st disc golf frisbee out of Lakewood Gulch Creek. Between donating blood & rescuing another disc, my karma account is looking good today.

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