Thursday, March 24, 2011

And My Other Car is...

I'm a working mom with a difference.

"Duh", you say. "You already told us that difference. Thirteen kids is quite a difference there, too."

But, it's even differenter than that. Yes, I understand "differenter" isn't a word. It's a throwback to my childhood, a chuckle of remembrance of my kid's word choices (when they were younger, of course), and a nod to the great man and Inventor of new words himself - hey, words all originated somewhere! - Winston Churchill.

I take a jet to work. An Alaska Airlines jet leased by the oil companies to bring their personnel to work and back to Anchorage.

Working on the north coast of Alaska, in a place called Deadhorse, but more commonly referred to as "Prudhoe Bay", it's about 850 road miles from my home. And unless you're an ice-road trucker , you're not gonna drive here during the winter; which sets in the end of September and here at the end of March there is no end in sight.

The actual Prudhoe Bay is about three miles north from where I live and work for two weeks at a time.

I work in a three-story "Man Camp" that is raised up on pilings to keep the heat generated within the building from transferring to the ground, which is a thick gravel pad. That gravel serves to insulate the ground, and prevent the permafrost from defrosting. This would be bad, as it would remove the only solid structure within the ground that holds up the buildings, on ground which is otherwise mucky.

And yes, that is a bear at the bottom of the stairs looking for something to eat. My office is right above that post.
There are reminder signs posted to take care when opening doors to the outside, as they like to go under the building. The brown bears are seen in the summer when they come down from the Brooks Range to the south.

Built in the hey-day of the North Slope building, the building decor is mid-80's and looks like a massive mobile home from that era, right down to the panelled wallpapered walls. Despite the age, it's held up rather well, and the rooms are like being in a college dorm. There are 4 double-wide lockers, and two under bed drawers, and two beds in most rooms. Each occupant gets the use of one locker and one drawer. When on R&R, we put our locks on and hopefully leave most of our stuff at work. That's why one sees so many people traveling with small bags for their two- or three-week hitches.

Ideally, the dorm room serves as home for 4 people; 2 sets of alternates; but not everyone has an alternate, and shift changes vary and change and 10-25% of our population is non-permanent: waiting for rigs to move or jobs to start, or are inspectors, are workovers, etc. And then there are the seasonal changes, with January to March being "Exploration Season". This year's Exploration Season has been a bust with good-ol' Obama closing up American exploration and giving the opportunities to his buddy, George Soros, who just happened to invest $900 million into this company, Petrobras .

But I digress.

I'll bet George Soros' other car is a jet too. But I'll also bet he doesn't have to sit in the middle between two healthy oil men.

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