How To Live (While Currently Trying Not To Dissolve From Self Pity).
The other day a science magazine writing position was advertised, for three thousand dollars a year. A year? Not my style or pay level even though I enjoy popularised science. We all should.
This made me think.
My first dollars made were mowing lawns with my dad in my mid teens, then he would drop me off around town nearly every other weekend for two years, pushing a large self propelling lawn mower around the streets of the posher parts of town for five or six dollars per house, and for as little as three bucks for little old ladies. At high school I liked a few subjects, one was art where I could paint deserted islands, desert cliffs and rock formations. My dad had a photography darkroom, so I was into that too. For some reason I also like the idea of panning for gold in the mountains with my dad. The idea of making dams and bridges appealed to me too.

tdawg-midge february 1978 start yr12 retreat

last year high school

Returning from the a long lakeside summer vacation sailing and water skiing after the end of high school, a letter was opened that caused my parents to nearly faint- I was accepted as a geology student at a rural tertiary education institution to do an Applied Geology degree. Out of the blue! Acceptance date was in three days. After a three hour road trip I was enrolled with my dad finding me a place to board in that faraway town, where I was ensconced for two years  for twenty five dollars a week! Until some friends, Marshall and Kent, got me to move out to a horrible cheap place of our own, closer to the college, which was two years of fun and hard work, a black and white portable television, with an out door toilet that was on a slant with long weeds growing out through the cracks and a low pressure shower that would not work unless you sat in the bath tub.

As a student, living involved receiving some monthly cash from the folks, a government handout of about twenty bucks a month, and vacation jobs. Rent was only ten buck each a week, food also ten bucks a week. those were the days with a government paid course too! Between first and second year I worked at my little brother’s restaurant for three bucks an hour. During second year there was plain old labouring at an arboretum for a geology lecturer for, again, three bucks an hour, mostly on weekends for the rest of the three years left to do. There was one summer of vacation work for a mate’s dad as a petrel station attendant and for a few months as a YHA weekend night admissions guy, that one was sad.

student Labourer

Another summer vacation job working for a better hourly rate was at a local country meatworks thirty minutes from my parents new country home, first skinning sheep kidneys and packing those into small plastic trays and then onto sheep brains and packing them, lasting but a week. Someone took pity on me and the following week they put me on the wrapping and then stacking of twenty kilogram boxes of meat onto large freezer tray pallets, the first week a tiring exercise. After six weeks before going back to just old geology lectures, I could throw those boxes quite a way across the factory floor to another packer- so much fun, not. And there was weekends loading sheep carcasses into the huge freezer trailers too.

I managed to get a two week vacation job with a minor size gold mining that was doing experimental work nearby in the countryside. As a geologist’s offside, it was collecting, bagging and labelling samples from a drill hole. The plan was to drill two holes into a mapped sinuous sandy river aquifer that had enough but hopefully more than enough alluvial gold dust in the sandy sediment. Next step was pumping a gold leaching solution into the upstream hole and trying to extract that solution from the downstream hole and processing the leachate to extract the dissolved gold. The project overall was not a spectacular success as far as I know.
During my last year of the Applied Geology degree, a large gold mining company was exploring in the district, doing deep continuous coring of the local deep gold leads. It was bloody grating to all us students that someone else from another old gold mining town tertiary institution, had managed to keep their position in a core examining role after the company had moved into our town. I said to her there was a spare room at my share house that she took up which my girl friend was okay with. I think.
Old gold mining town teaching institution degrees were apparently not quite good enough for the big companies, and I certainly was not dux. Trying to get work in geology upon graduating was excruciating as the degree was from a rural college, not a city one, some mean sort of discrimination I reckon. Applied geology was not an automatic entrance to just anything after all, surprise. So many knock backs. Once again my dad got me a job though, and made me buy a motorbike. The job was cleaning back at the previously mentioned meatworks. A full days pay at great rates for maybe four to five hours work. Steam hoses, scrubbers, buckets, brooms, not too bad. Meanwhile a search was kept up for a job in any geology position.
A break in another direction after a few months- left the meatworks to working as a laboratory technician at a local country high school. I was the manager; inventory, setting up chemistry and physics experiments, some tutoring including mathematics, equipment purchase and of course cleaning the labs after school. Winter travel in the highlands on a motorbike is an extreme sport dressing against the cold!
A very small advertisement in the weekend paper drew my attention- oilfield work? I scrounged some time off for an interview from the kind hearted principal- he knew I was a short term employee. The interview was in the state capital at a not shoddy but still cheap hotel, in the guy’s hotel room, not an office, as the company was based elsewhere. Howard was about ten years older than me with a slight lispy English accent, and a lazy eye. I had no idea what the job really entailed, all I wanted was a job! The salary was only as much as the lab tech one, so after the interview, which went well I thought, I went to see someone at the local branch of the AusIMM, the institute of mining and metallurgy, and the fellow said, “whatever the salary, there is not much around, so why don’t you take it?”. Hmm.

Maersk Valiant

First oil drilling rig, Maersk Valiant

A few weeks later I accepted the offer from the the oilfield service company Gearhart and went off to Adelaide on a motorbike road trip with my little brother, calling in on wineries along the way, one bottle I kept and opened twenty years later- it was crap. It was also the weekend that Australia II won the America’s Cup. A year later we were in Perth for about twelve months, working with the pommy mob, and then relocated back to Adelaide, where upon the fly in fly out of the desert worked well for me and my nearly wife, and having now bought a little hatchback, getting into windsurfing-  two weeks in the desert, two weeks on the beach.

me as the WSG 1987_resizescan0004
This oilfield or oilpatch career kicked on for nearly seventeen years, with my girlfriend along for the ride, she leaving a teaching course in the dust. There was lots of travelling and meeting all sorts of people, Australia wide, the North Sea, The Philippines, New Zealand, and offshore Hong Kong. Halfway through the service company career, I even met up again with the gold mining student in SE Queensland one trip- her hubby was the pusher, she was a campy, and their kids were not ready for kinder yet. Unusual meet up, my wife was surprised but delighted too. Tarnia and were engaged before going on the year long Scottish trip, and we managed a few touristy things while living in Aberdeen. In 1990, Italian touristy things are shut on Sundays to our dismay. Ireland is very like western Victoria! From geologist to technical engineer, to directional tool operator, training twice at Fort Worth USA.
Just after buying the love of my life a house two years previously, a forced break from the patch on a industry down turn for a year.


Tarnia’s house

Took some formal forklift driving lessons. Nil job outcome. Became Windsurfing Instructor for a few summer months, turning an outdoor water sports passion into a job, nearly went the whole hog to build a business- the insurances and governmental red tape turned me right off.. Then did a supermarket shelf stacking and vegetable and fruit stacking stint to try to cover between possible oil patch jobs which recovered soon enough.
Back to the oilpatch as an MWD engineer, and immediately lost my wife in a car accident, ended up doing two years in the field including a six week course in England with in-laws living in doing the child minding for me. After my mother-in-law passed on, I left the patch and minded the two boys, nine and six  and the two year old twin girls for the next ten years. I got some work as a vineyard labourer and winemaking assistant. Three years of delivery driving part time with a second hand Mercedes van.

new van1_resize
Out of the blue again, I was notified of a week long job up the Latrobe Valley as a wellsite geologist for a out of state firm, grabbed it with both hands, the no work in the field did not matter to John Watts- just get into it! Utilised the delivery van as a field office, getting a new smart phone and a laptop. Bench table as a desk and an office chair. Sweet

IMAG0104_resize  IMAG0107_resize
Following that some other local firm needed someone on a short term coring project, just up the valley, which in the end extended longer, and on a better day rate than the delivery service too!



my elderly offsider and sample catcher on the coring job working on a gas recording log chart machine which in itself is nearly as old as me

Things were looking up, another old contact said I could join him as the night wellsite geologist up in my the old stomping grounds of the Moomba gas and oil fields- learnt a harsh lesson on stratigraphy there.



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alien perspective_resize


South Australia


My wife’s sister said she would mind the girls for me, she is worth her weight in gold, both her sister and mother would be very proud of her. Another cold call shortly afterwards got me two more consulting jobs, at a better day rate. Karma. The two South Australia and Queensland outback jobs paid well.




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Then a four month campaign over winter took me to the Northern Territory which was good training too- caught up a lot after missing ten years in the field.
The last career move was to work for a large company out west, fly in fly out again for up to three weeks, taking me offshore Western Australia and a short stint offshore Myanmar (Burma). And again I met up and worked with the student gold  mining geologist- now Amanda was a wellsite geologist too, and a seven continent marathon runner. Life is weird.

The last five years were good, got on top of things, sorted the kids out, then another down turn in the patch. At the moment, looking for anything. For a year. Something has to give soon.

Lawn mowing
Arboretum labourer
Gas filler
YHA hostel night attendant
Sample bagger
Meatworks packer and cleaner
Laboratory technician
Sample catcher
Logging engineer
Pore pressure analyst
Wellsite geologist
LWD engineer
Directional drilling tools engineer
LWD engineer
Wine maker
Delivery driver
Wellsite geologist

Posted in Geology, Oilpatch | Leave a comment

Ah rahighty-(thanks mconahay…) Leg update

legs and keyboards

Dear Diary…

The  last twelve months at least, or maybe longer, down at the beach where I will Continue to speedsail with the top end speedsailing boards I have finally been able to afford (cos I am getting over chop and short hops and junps- YUK!),

  •  there was a feeling that the down haul effort in rigging  a sail for windsurfing- NO- SPEEDSAILING,  was getting increasingly harder to do while rigging up for Speed Sailing on my short sailboards, and that was, that is wow, – what the…!$%#!!!!

Rigging up-bIt is the main thing before hitting the water!

Hmm. So let’s have a little look..

Okay. A little more Effort needed- or in what way is my MS can be affecting me over the duration…

I know wrong sub text, it (MS) Will Not Go Away..

Alrighty- it is hard to impossible to use the right leg to down haul a 5 to 8 m2 sail properly [to FULL strength as I once knew!] now and the left leg right leg combo- still need support- action/reaction right!!?- I mean the instructions are Tension TO HERE …. and as I am a Picaso as to perfection- …. and I do as what the wind says, and I hate house painting anyway…

Ok- preparation…

Ok- so now I have/bought a downhaul crank, [FIXED that MS!] and I should be able to use arm and shoulders for the next ten years… I hope and wish!!

Think I have got around it a bit.

And NOW  the right leg is still WEAK, even going up/down stairs. Weird as, “STRAIGHT LEG to GROUND…” aint right- what am I doing?!


And I am NOW having to think which leg forward, and even more – STEPPING over an obstacle- I really have to watch where I am going so not to leave the left foot last– It Has to be be first as I cannot quite manage to casually drag it over a sill! That is- when on a ship, there are heaps of water  tight  doors— Step up AND now, and dog the door after you too…  Lotsa co-ordination for that more than once a day (ah, exercise?).

But if in a hurry- nah, seems ok. That is adapation.. I like that at least!

And the right leg seems to be sloppy walking- is it MS?

Anyway,carrying on as though it aint affecting the life style, fmnk my MS!


and BTW, Not a speddtypst- takes so long to correct….

Posted in Hobbies, Just Doing It Anyway, Speedsailing, Tone-in-oz, Just Doing It Anyway | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

pools pros n cons

Pools, to have or not have

A company I once worked for rented a house in a tropical region near an airport [but not near a bar?!?!] for a bunch of transients working in ZOCA. This particular property had won awards for its gardens for a couple of years, and was presentable, but not luxurious as is the wont of the tropical zone. But. The responsiblity of looking after it was horrendous.

Firstly the garden- had to get a maintenance guy in as taking a mower on a plane is not a priority whenPool tropical_resize just passing through.

Secondly, a bunch of transients that were mainly international transients from a cold cold climate would have no idea of how to maintain a classic backyard ozzie pool. Ever. Yes they were bachelor of science graduates, I know.  Sure, there were chemicals in a small amount and some vague instructions. But no delegation or as some would say, No Handover Notes…

Thirdly, as mentioned, the people staying there and the ones passing through it, including myself, may have to stay out on a rig for more than a few weeks, leaving the pool unattended for up to say two weeks.

In the tropical sun…

Just imagine when you have returned to this place either from the rig or from down south, and looking out the back window over the backyard. You have a beer in one hand and a ciggie in the other cos you do both inside back in the day, saying ‘sure would love a swim!’

And you like the nice manicured lawn in place of the old kidney shaped pool out the back that has appeared since last you were there, home away from home.


Yes, a monstrous, gloopy yes, soupy even or maybe a stand on-able algal bloom, just sitting there in the backyard ready to invade next doors tame, cool, chemically ridden backyard pool.

The bill for cleaning up of the pool and surrounds was also – Horrendous.

That is why I do not entertain or think of having a place with a pool. Algae. Bloody trees and the Sticks and f$@@!$g leaves that have to be fished out. Mosquitos. Birds and associated shit all around the place. A shed full of chemicals and instructions and broken cleaning equipment. Water bills. Child proof fences. Clean up and clean out the beer fridge, empty the ashtrays, pick up the butts and the stubby tops…List can go on.

And other associated downers like SHRIEKING minors splashing the laid back relaxed beer imbibers into a cby the pool a_resizeold water caused heart attacks. The empties and old food left to pick up the next day after the visitors have thanked you, or not, for a ‘wonderful’ time. Cold water as the heater was not working. Hmm.

And now you are wondering what brought this rant on I bet!

Well, some old couple are refusing to sell up their home of thirty two years for a big bunch of money- they are older than you think and what the hell are they going to do with all that money, enough to buy a few meters of a cruise liner and not just a cabin! While I checked the address out on google earth, I see a few backyard pools. I see what looks like a throng dressed person lying in one? Oh yeah, maybe there might be some nudies too I reckon to mysealf and start an unoffical search  that brought up many hundreds of blue backyard pools with NO ONE else in them. The shadows bring to mind that it is only about lunchtime or morning so where are all the sun worshippers and swimmers? Then I can see it aint a weegen, Friday 31 January 2014, so close though, and mid summer.

What about the weather- it has to Be Nice For A Party By The Pool. Really? Just build one inside as well. Oh my. No thanks.

Posted in Humour, Rant | Tagged , | Leave a comment

wet twice in two months

In regards to speedsailing

I have driven about 2000 kilometers since I got home from the last job, just to go speedsailing. But I have been Marvined!

There was a short sail with the new speed board at Shallow Inlet, Sandy Point the first week, then about half an hour the other week at Swan Bay near Queenscliff with my Big board. There has been a trip the other side of a nearby lake where a 4WD track tried to take the engine out of the van, a few other side trips to check a site out- and was warned that Hollands Landing is CRAP- I do not think so, not so much if there is two parties along for a sail either side of the channel! The salty water is slowly getr rid of vegetation either side of the east end of the channel- better wind!

In between these two dates July 24 and October 13, there was a geologically inclined oriented field trip to the southern Sydney basin, to see the Hawkesbury SST and coal outcrops along the coast. Just so happened to drag some boards and sails along. They did not get wet, but I sure enjoyed the trip, especially the SeaBridge at Coalcliff, north ofseabridge Coalcliff NSW Wollongong- was going to see the gas fields around Camden, but, ran out of time- kids…

The price of diesel is cheap- I mean to go to the movies- that’s fifteen bucks for an hour and a half or maybe two.

The van gets 10 liters per 100 kilometers. About. At $1.20-1.50 a liter- thats about 15 bucks an hour driving.

Cheaper than going to the movies. If you like driving… I must!

If I cannot do more than 3 hours on the water per month I may as well sell all my newly bought speedsailing gear! Any Offers? There would be about twenty grands’ worth to get rid of (well- to replace If I Lost the gear!), some a bit worn, some with the price stickers nearly coming off… some with great memories and some with none yet!

Nah, joking. Just wish my favourite spot was so much closer! If I was fitter I would probably get out there what ever the wind was doing [might need an old racing board to satisfy that itch] and- might be persuaded to get a SUP board too.

So I am just doing it anyway- with MS I may not have too many years left to get out and fly across the water and enjoy one of my favourite hobbies.  If I can just stay upright more often it would be so much more fun too! There has been too much time In the water than On the water the last few years…

To get to 30 knots consistently is a goal, to reach 40 knots would be fantastic, to get even better means more and more time on the water. I should get a holiday place or a time-share closer to Sandy at some stage- or whenever the prodigies leave home for good. One day! Any old how, should stop whining and go cook up a barby hamburger with the WeberQ for the non vegan and me.

Posted in Hobbies, Just Doing It Anyway, Speedsailing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment