Sunday, October 31, 2010

October 31

Long day.  Today is the first day of Peptec-0-18.  Woke up at 7, finally, not 5:45 am!  Leisurely breakfast, and got ready for the day.  Started class with some introduction to Wireline, what's expected of us, and safety talk.  Had a nice lunch.  Then back to class to try to get all our computers set up correctly.  What a nightmare.  I hope that the other kids have more success than us.  Honestly, it took 4 1/2 hours to get it figured out, and then, only myself and Jessica had everything working.  Seriously, not fun.  Thankfully Yogi is a nice guy.  I'm the class administrator, thus I am responsible for making sure the attendance is turned in, and that everyone is to class at time.  I don't have to go wake them up, but Alex gets to give them Party Points.  Party Points are money you give to the class for your mistakes, and a present is given at the end of the course.  :)  I went and worked out after class for 45 minutes.  I feel so much better now, but tomorrow is a lot of physical moving and streching, so I better get used to it.  I figured out how to get my perscription in Abu Dhabi.  Tomorrow I'll be going to the hospital, which sucks, but at least I'll get it done.  Nice dinner with Alex, I really love all the fish they serve here!  Now I'm just studying for my quiz tomorrow.  I'm so glad to not be traveling back and forth so much, I'm already getting more sleep.  I'm missing everybody this weekend.  It sounds like everybody back home had fun, and I'm not there to share in it.  :(  To end on a positive note, I watched 5 minutes of the Bourne Identity.  Totally made my day; gotta love that Matt Damon!  Happy Halloween! 

October 30

The day of change.  Frank woke me up early, so I went to breakfast with him.  Same stuff as yesterday, but thank God they have cereal and milk.  I’m getting tired of this big breakfast thing.  Took a 2 hour nap, since I was seriously still tired.  Got up, packed all my things (I hope), said goodbye to Frank, and went and waited for the shuttle.  Not everybody’s stuff fit on under the bus, so we had to have it in the cabin.  A SLB violation?  Maybe.  It’s hard to tell in all these situations.  Got settled into our rooms at the MLC, lunched, and signed up for the bus to Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi city.  My room had some problems, a door fell on me and my safe was broken, but those got fixed, and I’m feeling better about it.  Took a 30 minute power nap, wow, that one actually worked.  Got a bit more dressed up, then caught the bus into the city.  We definitely saw some nice sites, and it was very pleasant to see how more people live in Abu Dhabi.  Arrived at the mall, walked around and gawked a bit: Versace, Rolex, Tiffany’s, you name it.  There are certainly people with a lot of money.  Of course the busiest place was Carrfour, their version of Walmart, so I guess everybody has to shop for the essentials.  J  We walked down the heritage site, which is supposed to be reminiscent of how the city was before oil was discovered.  Basically thatched roof shacks.  The sun set as we were there, but we were in the wrong place to get pictures.  It hardly smells like the sea in that town.  Even though we were out in the middle of the Persian Gulf, I hardly caught a smell of fishiness.  We went back to the mall, had some pizza!  Pepperoni (Canadian-cured beef, what a funny way to put it), black olives, and cheese.  Now that is actually something I have missed.  I picked up some snack bars and gum from the supermarket, and then we headed back to the bus.  I managed to find a seat on the bus, while others took the taxis and beat us home.  I’m just staying up bit to update my computer, write my diary, and get  myself a little bit more organized.  Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, and I need to be prepared.  I’m a bit nervous, but I know the 12 other people in my group feel the same way.  I just hope I can keep up, and prove that I have some smarts too.  I wish I knew how many engineers fail the 1st year…  It’s a lot worrisome.  What will I do if I fail?  I know that something would come up, but it’s just hard to imagine.  I keep trying to say positive things, but it’s hard when I don’t have someone to always bounce ideas off of.  I really like Abhi, Jess, and Nick, and honestly many of the others, but it’s still hard.  Here’s to a bright tomorrow.

October 29

Well, technically it’s Friday, but here in Abu Dhabi, it’s Saturday.  Well, I knew I wasn’t going to be taking many days off, so I hope I get used to this.  Woke up early again, last day of using the shuttle to get to the MLC!  Had a nice breakfast with Frank in the hotel.  SLB paid for breakfast there, so we might as well try it.  Okay stuff, but no one in this country can make eggs correctly.  Headed to class for a day of defensive driving theory.  Our teacher was a guy from southern Perth!  How weird is that?  He had a lot to say about the area, and it was nice to hear him talk.  Apparently I’m going to Newbern, Australia.  It’s fairly close to the Perth Airport, and Ashley W, from Canada, sent me the information she has received about it.  Thank heavens I know now something about where I will be staying.  Had a nice day of defensive driving mandates.   Basically, I’m forbidden to drive unsafely.  That’s cool though, because it’s nice to know that they’re thought through problems, and management has come up with good solutions.  Basic things to remember:  never drive longer than 2 hours without a break, no cell phones to be used at all, laptop secured,  help out your fellow drivers, and obey the speed limits.  All of these have lead to fatalities within SLB in the past years.  Driving fatalities are down 20% in SLB from 2006 because of this program.  I think I’m going to follow their mandates – or risk being fired!  J  We got our personal protection equipment (PPE) today as well as our LDAPs, those are our personal identifiers and emails.  Mine is  Not too shabby.  Everybody was getting all excited to leave.  Most people were leaving on Saturday morning, but a few, the ones goes to Musafa in Abu Dhabi, were leaving right there.  Lots of pictures, goodbyes, and promises to see each other again.  Finally headed back to the hotel, were I immediately put on my swim suit and got some rays by the pool.  We finally got back before the sun set, so it was nice to finally be poolside.  Ate some dinner, packed up most my stuff, then I headed out to a bar at a nearby hotel with some of the others.  They were celebrating Octoberfest, in Abu Dhabi of all places?  We had a nice time, and passed some hours away.  I talked with Yousef from Kuwait, Aziz and Khalid from Saudi Arabia.  Yousef is pretty much awesome; he’s married to an Irish woman who looks like me, has a 5 month old son, and has a British/Middle Eastern accent.  Awesome fellow.  Jessica had a few harsh words with one of the Iraquis when he called her fat, but they made up pretty quickly.  Some of them went to another bar, but I decided to call it a night.  Long day, and tomorrow is going to be a big shock.

Friday, October 29, 2010

October 28

Last day of the workweek!  Haha, nice try.  Today was the last day of QHSE training with Des.  He was a lot nicer today.  He must have gotten more sleep.  :)  The fatigue management was mentioned yet again.  Everyone knows this is really going ot be the tough part of our job, and I think a lot of us are a bit worried, including myself.  Everything, and I do mean everything, is so site specific, it's hard to put down facts on everything.  Lots of injury prevention training today.  Basically, if I do anything wrong to myself or others, I think I get fired.  It's nice of them to tell me that ahead of time I guess...  :(  Basically, I can never lose my computer, never mess up a job too bad, can't insult anybody from any culture, or take a yellow and white taxi.  Jeez, it's a lot to remember.  On the positive note, I met with my teacher for my next course, Peptec 0, Yogi, I think he's Indonesian.  He gave some instructions on how the class is going to go, and how we can get prepared.  Lunch was great.  Mexican day!  So funny to see our Filipino wait staff in traditional Mexican outfits.  They seemed to be having a good time though.  I had high hopes of doing something fun when we got back to the hotel, but unfortunately I slept for about 2 hours, and missed the big excursion to the Ferrari Theme Park.  Apparently I was not the only one.  A nice evening was spent in my room, trying to beef up my knowledge of wireline products, problems, and interpretation.  Tomorrow, driving training!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October 27

Wednesday!  It was a really late night, so my 4 hours of sleep are not taking me far.  Another good breakfast.  Steamed tomatoes are a delicious addition to any breakfast!  The plain yogurt here is to die for.  Better than just about anything I have had in the states.  We now have a different presenter, Dez Neil from Scotland.  He's a bit more abrasive than our other presenters, and he doesn't take any shit.  In Middle Eastern cultures it is not considered rude to enter a meeting late.  Dez has a more Western approach.  Not being on time is an insult to those who are giving presentations and those who are on time.  I agree with him, and it's nice to see some of the others get a talking to.  Needless to say, people are being quieter in class, and on time.  He is from Quality, Health, Safety, and Environmental.  We did a case study on the Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea.  Fascinating and tragic story.  I had a lighter lunch, one rice, mutton curry, and a big salad.  The gulaba (spelling?  it's an Indian donut soaked in syrup), was a nice light desert.  I was much more alert today.  I think I am going to try to eat like this more often.  I turned in my contract, so I'm officially an SLB employee.  :)  We came back to the hotel, and I passed out for 2 hours.  So much for heading downtown tonight.  I ate a quick dinner, and then worked out for 40 minutes.  I'm feeling a lot better, gotta keep eating that yogurt.  I feel like I should buy some multivitamins though.  I know Mom is going to feel guilty when she reads that!  She'll think that she should have bought me some.  It's okay though.  I'm going to bed early tonight.  Saw a beautiful sunset this evening.  The sun was a brilliant shade of red.  We are now taking a new way to the MLC, a road was completed, so we are seeing a new side of the city today.  The architecture here is just beautiful, and there are practically no lights, only roundabouts.  I gotta say, they're a much more efficient system than I had previously thought.  Night!

October 26

First Tuesday of the new job.  We again got up early and headed out to the MLC (Middle East Learning Center).  I talked with Ben for about 30 minutes this morning.  :)  So very nice.  Had a breakfast of hard boiled egg, oatmeal, and a ground beef/pea mixture.  Kind of strange  Today we spent hours in information technology training.  Most of the students thought we would be getting our computers, but it sounds like that will have to wait.  Abhi, an Indian Wireline, and Guillermo, another Mexico, were new friends I met today.  The Brazilians, Bruno and Magnus, are just plain funny.  I notice that my accent keeps changing as I am hanging out with lots of English as a 2nd language students.  I kind of talk in a stilted, or broken English accent.  I'm trying to get over this tendency, as I think it makes me sound stupid. Had a really exciting afternoon.  We had a round table discussion of our field service managers and people at the MLC that have had field experience.  They shared with us their live with SLB, and we asked them questions about how they maintained their balance.  Then Wireline split away, and we had a couple hour meeting with Omar, our FSM.  He explained our schedule for the next few months, and where we will/how we will obtain our goals.  After this meeting, I feel good about knowing where I will be, but I am still apprehensive about how to handle all of the responsibilities that I am going to have.  We headed back to the hotel after this, and got ready to go to the Shangri-La Hotel.  It is one of the nicest hotels in all of Abu Dhabi.  Amazingly decorated, but I asked the Saudis, and they said this was nothing compared to Saudi.  Well, I guess I'll just have to get there, and see how Saudi actually is!  This hotel was just beautiful, and we could see the main mosque of Abu Dhabi across the bay area.  Just beautiful.  We sat outside, me, the 4 Iranians, the Mexicans, and the Brazilians.  Just a fun group to hang out with.  We had a buffet dinner that was to die for.  More food than you can imagine, dishes from every culture, fresh seafood, sushi, cheese, Indian curries and vegetables, and the desserts, ah the desserts!  5 tables, at least.  Fresh ice cream, chocolate fountains, cakes, candies.  Fortunately I restricted myself to only a few bites of the deserts.  Restraint is working!  I had a delicious mango juice, freshly squeezed.  :)  Then we hung out along the water, and finally headed home.  I stayed up and hung out with other students, and then Frank taught me some Wireline.  Frank mentioned I've been negative about some of he aspects of my job, and it seems like I don't want to be here.  Since that has been true, and I am excited to do my job, tomorrow is going to be an all positive day.  :)  I admit, not every day is good, but I determined to enjoy myself, and make myself happy.          

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 25

Another wonderful day in the SLB world.  Up again at 5:45.  Frank and Aaron again assured me that we can get breakfast at the hotel; once again I was proven right when they couldn't get it.  :)  Those guys are sure funny.  Frank is from Missouri, not Kansas, but he's a right nice fellow.  Aaron is from Dayton, OH, and he went to the University of Cincinnati, how random is that?

Sad, this post just got lost.  :(  I'll try again

Ashely, from Canada, and Sean, from the USA somewhere, are both going to a small city outside of Brisbane, Australia.  How nice to know someone on the other side of the continent!  I talked with another Malaysian girl on the way to the MLC today.  I love meeting all these interesting people!  Kanchana is going back to Malaysia, but now everybody want to be an IM person.  If only they knew...  Today we talk about how to access our line accounts, what to talk about with our managers, what all the segments are, and compensation and benefits.  Lunch was another interesting affair.  I again steered clear of the buttermilk with salt, a traditional Indian drink, and even the Indians said it was an acquired taste.  :)  The compensation and benefits talk took 3 hours.  I sure hope that I absorbed most of that discussion.  I talked with the Iranians on the way back to the hotel.  It sees that we all agree that we're not necessarily happy with how our government is handling their conflict.  Really nice group of 4 guys though.  They seemed a little shy at first, and then they would not stop talking to me; I have a crick in my neck from whipping my head around to talk to them all.  :)  Hopefully I made a good impression on them too.  I came back, got some divine dinner: fish with fennel, pasta salad, seafood salad, and lettuce salad.  The deserts were in shot glasses today.  :)  Went to the gym for half an hour of cardio, then I went to the pool.  I wore my shorts and t-shirt, and that seemed to make the locals happy.  Definitely wouldn't wear less then that, and I wish I had brought my yoga pants actually.  The Malaysian girls came down to try to swim, that'll be interesting to see progress, and they were wearing something very similar.  They wear head dresses for the most part, so I trust their judgment.  I'm off to bed, after I read all about my compensation package.  Sigh.  Good night world!

October 24

What a long day.  It was the first day of OFS 1 (Oil Field Services) Training.  Unfortunately my group of trainees did not get to stay at the complex where the training was going on, but fortunately we got to stay at a kick-ass hotel instead!  We are on Yas Island, not that I can really tell we're on an island, and we're staying at the Rotana Hotel.  I have a single room that is nice and cozy, with free internet!  Strangely there is a small water hose net to the toilet?  I can only assume this is something like a bidet.  I'm just going to leave it alone...  I got up at 5:45 AM to get ready for the day, and then went downstairs to hang out with the other 75 people in my group.  We took our 45 minutes shuttle ride to the MLC Center for our security briefing.  In the daylight you can really tell that our hotel is not really by Abu Dhabi city.  We're kind of on the suburbs I think.  Lots of flat sand dunes with lots of unfinished construction projects.  In their defense, most of them were being worked on, but everywhere you look, it looks unfinished.  A Ferrari amusement park and the Grand Prix racing series is right by the hotel.  Maybe they're just trying to spruce up the area?  Finally got to the MLC, tried to find breakfast quickly, but it was too far away.  Had the most morbid talk about how people in SLB (Schlumberger) have died in the past months.  Jeez, I'll wear my seat belt already.   Then we had a few talks introducing us to SLB, and I gave a group presentation in front of everybody about how SLB was founded.  Lunch was an interesting experience; lots of cultures represented.  I chose a chicken biryani dish, salad, strange cheese dessert, and grape juice.  Needless to say, there are a lot of options.  Such interesting people I'm meeting.  I'm sitting next to Luis from Mexico and Azia from Malaysia.  There are 4 of us going to Perth: Jake (real name unknown) from China, Nick from Texas, and Jessica from Nebraska/Kansas.  There are quite a few Saudis, Yemenis (is that how you spell that?), Iranians, and Americans.  20 countries are represented in my group of 75.  We spent a lot of time talking about what SLB stands for, how to present ourselves to customers, and how to work in such a multi-cultural environment.  Then we got to try on our steel toed boots and blue jump suits.  Then the IM (international mobile) people got to spend 2 hours filling out paperwork.  Guess which group I'm in?  :)  I spent another 2 hours on it once I got back to the hotel.  Finally the IM group got to go back to the hotel, and eat dinner at the hotel.  What a swanky place!  I really liked dinner; they had a lot of vegetarian options, curries, and a killer desert bar.  Only one dessert though, thanks restraint!  Then I stayed up with my paperwork, and I actually got to Skype with Ben!!!  It was so nice to hear his voice, but I'd really like for my video call to work.  I just don't have enough bandwidth at this hotel.  Finally it was off to sleep.  I'm trying to get used to this 6 hours a night, but I think tomorrow I'll be sleeping more. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October 22/23

Today I flew off into the wild blue yonder.  Had a hard time saying goodbye to the parents and Ben, but I know I"ll be seeing them sooner than I know.  Caught a quick flight up to Chicago, then waited in the terminal at O'Hare for a couple hours.  Met up with Jessica and a few other SLB people.  There were 14 of us on the flight I think.  Had some good food on the flight, all Halal approved dinners.  I sat next to Shilpa (I hope that's how you spell her name).  She was flying back to India after spending a week in Indianapolis with Eli Lilly.  Random.  She was super fun.  We had the best time talking about shopping during Black Friday, and how bad traffic is in India.  I wish I would have got her name.  :(  The crying baby throughout the flight was nauseating, but I actually slept about 6/14 hours.  Thank goodness.  I got on the ground, and met up with all the SLB people I hadn't noticed before, nice group.  Customs was a breeze.  Slowly, in groups of 2 or 3, taxis started to come and take SLB people away.  Of course, I was 1/3 in the last group with a whole bunch of Saudis.  Granted the Saudis seemed nice, but I was getting some weird looks.  We finally all trooped out in a big group and got into a 10 person seat van.  Off we went to the hotel.  It's hard to say, but the area seemed pretty nice.  Mostly just desert, palm trees, and road.  In UAE all SLB employees must travel in vehicles that go the speed limit, so it took forever to get out of that place.  Finally got the hotel, and I have such a nice room!  That was around 10 PM local, so I got my stuff together for the next day and tried to go to sleep.  Hard to do, but I got some at least.  I'm super ready for a new exciting first day!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 0 of the adventure

Create the blog today, after furiously packing and prepping for the trip to come.  :)