Sunday, April 25, 2010

Guests of the Ayatollah

Today is the anniversary of the Desert One disaster
during the attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran.

A fantastic excerpt from Mark Bowden's book on
this event is here.

How many things would be different if that mission had
succeeded? No 911, gulf wars 1 and 2, no president Reagan?

Here in one paragraph was a key problem with the mission:

The question of what to do with the passengers was relayed all the way to the White House. The president and his staff were deliberately going through the late-afternoon motions of a typical workday but secretly hanging on every update from the desert. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national-security adviser, relayed the unexpected problem of the bus to the president, and Carter agreed that the only thing to do was to fly all the Iranians out that night on one of the C-130s and then return them to Iran when the mission was complete.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Deepwater Horizon

Rigzone's report was wrong, the 11 missing men on the deepwater horizon
weren't found, they are still missing.

The rig finally sank as can be seen in this slideshow from the times picayune
in New orleans.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fire on the Deepwater Horizon

There was a blowout and fire out on the Deepwater Horizon
which was working for BP in Mississippi Canyon 252, which is the
Maconda field. From Rigzone, it appears that they've found everyone,
yahoo is still saying 11 men are missing though, so I hope Rigzone is

They were trying to plug and abandon the well after an exploration well,
I'd guess they did a well test and were trying to set a plug afterwards so
that they can move the rig to the next well, and either they swabbed in
a kick by moving the drillpipe up too quickly, or perhaps they thought they had
the well killed after the well test and it bit them in the ass. (I have no idea
what happened, i'm just speculating).

It's interesting to me because it scares the hell out of me, the idea of having to
evacuate from a burning rig is pretty much the worst case for the oilfield. On
land you can just run away, in shallow water maybe swim to land or another rig,
but in deepwater there is usually nothing within miles, and the water is 5000' deep.
To carry out an evacuation and not lose anyone is an amazing feat, and depends completely
on the professionalism of the workers of transocean and bp.

[picture from
Rigzone, better
version there)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

mmmmmm, lunch.

I just had a super good lunch at la tavolaccio, just their ordinary lunch special of
spedinni quatro formaggio for prima piatti and tonnato for secundi, piu patata al forno.

Freaking excellent. Tonnato is veal sliced thin covered in a sauce made from tuna
an mayonaise (i think). spedinni are star shaped tubular pasta that are about the
same size as kraft macaroni and cheese, but just cooked al dente with a white cheese
sauce made from 4 cheeses. Plus a half liter of wine. (doh!)

What I like about italian food is the good food isn't the outliers, I don't think there
are many 4 star italian restaurants serving minute portions of food, but the average
places are so good. Of course, this is where the truckers go too, so there's some universal
law at work of 'eat where the truckers eat'.

Lunch was topped off by a nice coffee. I think the big difference between new arrivals and
people that have lived in italy a while is the way they drink coffee. First of all, there
is a national law that says no cappuccino after lunch (or after any food, depending who you
ask). Second is when I first arrived I saw the tiny espressos and drank them in a gulp.
After a while, the sip of coffee in the espresso cup becomes 4 sips and then the real miracle
is when you realize that there is a fifth sip that include all the sugar that you put in the coffee.
(no sweet and low here).

I don't know how I'll make it back to drinking normal drip coffee. Once we get home I'm
afraid I'll be a tea drinker.

We know you have a choice when you fly...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Let slip the Professors of War

Mark Bowden has a profile of General Petraeus over at
vanity fair. Excellent as everything that Mark Bowden writes,
hopefully it's a profile of the next President.

Facing Congress, he didn’t waver. It was the same now as on the day Bush had met with him privately in the Oval Office after the Senate confirmed his selection for what most felt was an impossible mission. The general had said, “Mr. President, this isn’t double-down.… This is all-in.” It was an expression that would be repeated often within his inner circle. They were staking everything on the outcome. There could be no second thoughts, no looking back.