Monday, June 7, 2010
Relief Wells and Shrimpers, the All New Getty, Coffee with Jenny Z. and Illuminated Insights into the Infinite
I talked to my father yesterday. His whole working life after college he was a petroleum engineer. He has a degree in engineering from Cal Poly SLO. I had been wanting to ask him if there is something that I'm missing about that oil spill in the gulf. My impression is that the main difficulties are the great depth and the high pressure forcing the oil out of the well. It is not so easy and quick to work at five thousand feet.
I had been under the impressure that the relief well would just go into the under ground oil resevoir and that would relieve the pressure. But Dad said that the relief well goes directly into the existing pipe that runs from the resevoir to the surface. And once that is done properly they will probably be able to completely cap off the whole thing. At the bottom I am placing a video of Rachel Maddow explaining the situation since she has done a lot of research. She does not get wacky or over the top. But she does communicate the basics of the situation well.
Dad said that something was going wrong on the drilling platform for a while before the spill began. I took that to mean that there was some techinical and/or mechanical complication unraveling that was not being managed well. I'm pretty sure that is what he meant but I will to follow up with him to be sure,
My father has been living in northern Louisiana (almost up to Shreveport) for a few years now. My brother-in-law in that area, John, was born a few miles from where he and my father and my younger sister now live. John has a brother-in-law who is a Gulf shrimper. The shrimper guy has one employee but neither of them has had any income for a while and do not know when they will be able to set their nets out again. BP got all of the out of work shrimpers together and gave all the ship owners $5000 a piece and all of the hands $2500 each. But this is not even one tenth of a year's income from their work. This kind of thing will have a ripple effect on what has always been one of our poorer states.
My Dad has his own blog where he writes about his own little world in rural Lousiana. He puts lots of photos on the site. I like to read it because it gives me more context for the things he tells me about his life on the phone (I live in Southern California -- south Orange County, near the beach). Dad calls his blog The Prune Picker. Just click to see some of the South.
After talking to my father I was excited because we talked about him coming to visit me this summer. The excitement flows from the fact that we are planning a trip to the new Getty Museum in Los Angeles. I do not get out much so this has me excited. I am disabled from a spinal injury and can only walk short distanes and I need a cane to keep my balance. I cannot ride on a bus because my balance and coordination are poor. So I spend most of my time in my apartment with the internet and books and movies. Actually the solitary life is what I generally prefer so this is easier on me than it would be on some people. I sometimes have to force myself to keep in touch with others because I know that one slowly goes crazier and becomes even weirder than me if deprived of live real time human contact. There are a few people I talk to regularly on the phone. A couple of weeks ago I went out to coffee with a nurse I used to work with many years ago. I always enjoy talking to this girl. Her name is Jenny Z. and coffee with her is always a bright day for me just as I expect the trip to the museum to be.
I went to the old Getty in Santa Monica about fifteen years ago. It was an exciting experience for someone like me who would usually just stay home and read or watch movies. Walking right in the front door there was a monstrous twenty foot high Canaletto. It was there with many other paintings I had seen and enjoyed in books for decades. But I was not able to look in front of me because far off to the right was a big Van Gogh who vibrant colors commander and controled my eyes even in the midst of so much other beauty. I mainly made this trip all the way to Santa Monica from south Orange to see the exhibit of illuminated Medieval manuscripts that the Getty owns and had on display. Ever since I was a kid I had enjoyed the Medieval miniature decorative style that I had seen frequently in books. Since I read a lot of history and a fair amount about Christianity I ran across many of these instances of beauty that tend recommend themselves because they deal in insights into the Divine, the human soul and the infinite behind the finite. The reproductions in books do not even begin to do justice to the manuscripts themselves. The artists that created the manuscripts made their own paints from organic and other sources all around them. And these half a millenium old paints outshime anything that modern book publishers are able to do. I checked the Getty's schedule yesterday and saw that some of those manuspripts will be on display at the time of our intended visit. They will also have an exhibit of paintings by Jean Leon Gerome who did many, many paintings of the late 19th century Muslim world, especially Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. He also did many themes from the classical world and there are a few subjects from French history. The one painting by Gerome that I found most stirred my memory is his Duel after a Masquerade Ball which I've reproduced above.