Saturday, October 14, 2006

Back in Alberta?

Things changed suddenly, again. I was supposed to be in Connecticut for two more weeks, but as I had said, the project was chaos and they didn't get the permits for the next phase of work. So I got a phone call in my hotel room on a Thursday morning telling me the work was done. I can't say I was disappointed. Good money, but less than enjoyable people and almost a hostile environment associated with the closing of a very unionized plant.

On the good side, I told the PM that I had already made plans to spend the weekend in New York on the client's tab. Since I had the expectation of having to be onsite the following Monday, I argued that I will fly out on Monday and continue with the New York plans. And he agreed. Sweet! So Mel drove down from Montreal and we drove to New York. Well, actually, on Friday night we drove to Danbury, Connecticut and caught up with Zach, an old friend from SF (and CH2M). Then Saturday morning we hit the Big Apple. Mel hadn't been, and I've been a few times, so I got to play tour guide all weekend. But it's such a big city, you could probably go 100 times and still see 1% of the things to see.

What we did catch included Hairspray (a musical based in Baltimore in the 60/70s during race tensions and cheesy dance tv), the WTC site, fireworks on the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, the Empire State Bldg (late at night as it was closing), loads and loads of walking. We stayed till noon on Monday and then drove back to Hartford, dropped off my rental, picked up Mel's car and headed to Montreal.

The two weeks since then have been great and nuts. After 2 days in Montreal, I flew to Winnipeg for the Thanksgiving long weekend. Some great family time (read multiple free meals) and I also got to spend my birthday at home for the first time in at least 6, if not 10, years. I got a sweet GPS unit, if you're curious. Then on the Monday morning I flew to Calgary. I managed to get lunch at Paul & Sue's and dinner at Pat & Stef's (sans Pat). So you can see, I got fed very well over the long weekend.

Monday night I drove to Edmonton to do 2 weeks of field work. Actually, the work is in Fort Saskatchewan, but we stay in Edmonton. The work is with great people, but it's dirty work. It would have been a better week had a caeser salad at Boston Pizza on Tuesday night not killed me... nearly literally? Okay, I exaggerate, but sure felt like it! How many times can a person dry heave? All night long? Yup! My stomach, back and shoulder muscles are still all aching from this endeavour. I guess what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

After this work I'm heading to SF on the ~22nd. Mel shows up in SF on the 24th and were going to do a road trip up the coast to Seatle (Justin & Erin, did I tell you I'm coming?), then to Calgary, then to Winnipeg, then to Montreal? Okay, the first part for sure, and the way things change, who knows. Anyway, hope to catch up with many of you along the way (depending on how many people read my blog, that could mean may of you, or just my mom).

And here's a few photos of the Edmonton work... kind of funny. They thought a 40,000 gallon tank was an 80,000 gallon tank and tried filling it up with dichloroethane, a very nasty compound with even nastier vapours (you can see the tank and overflow pipe on the boat photo). It's a DNAPL (dense non-aqueous phase liquid) - think oil, but it sinks, yet vapours come off it similar to gasoline. So this pond that we are surveying and sediment sampling has this nasty product along the bottom as a seperate phase and when you stir it up it gets quite toxic and hazardous to one‘s health). Hence the Level C (air purifying respirators) and Level B (supplied air respirators), moon suits and full decon procedures. Anyways, that's your Hazmat lesson for the day. Note that I've never done any of this before either (I usually do more clean water, numerical modelling, pumping wells type stuff). And did I mention I had to shave, as in fully, in order to wear the respirators :( Anyway...