Monday, August 11, 2008

serenity and geology

"God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference."

I am somewhat of a worrywort. I stress out about the million things that could go wrong, informed by the experience of things that I have screwed up in the past and how those screw-ups caused problems down the line. The day before fieldwork begins, I worry/complain incessantly about all the details that I need to keep track of.

The one thing I am (relatively) serene about is the geology. I live by the motto "it is what it is," which is not as elegant as the little prayer above, but it's something I repeat when things start to go south. I cannot control the geology. We will not know if we run into boulders, running sands, massive (unfractured) bedrock, or other problems until we start poking holes in the ground. There's a drilling company out there (which I have not worked with) that has a terrific picture on their uniforms of a demon pushing a boulder under the drill bit, and it does sometimes seem as if nature is conspiring against you.

I am generalizing wildly here, but most drillers get really wound up when the geology doesn't behave. After all, it's their drill bits that get jammed, their casing that breaks, and their rig that overheats when they push it too hard.

I try to arrange our contracts so that we pay the drilling company on a footage basis and not per day. The problem is that it makes the first couple feet of drilling more expensive because it takes time to set up the rig and the equipment, especially if you're dragging a mud tub around. So if you keep getting shallow refusal and have to poke around in different areas, you're wasting time that you want to spend actually drilling. This is frustrating for me, but it makes even the most even-tempered driller extremely cranky.

When a driller goes into a full wrench/drill rod/mud tub throwing fit, however, reminding the driller that I cannot control geology is not, um, productive. I find that the best solution is announcing a coffee run. If I dissappear for 10 minutes, the driller can stomp around and rant freely about how impossible this job is. When I get back, we can discuss what the next step should be in a somewhat rational manner while relaxing with cold/hot drinks, as tantrums usually happen in scorching hot or freezing cold weather.

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