Monday, April 30, 2012

DISC 9 Midland (26 April)

Midland, Texas is a short flight from Denver, but a world apart.  For one thing, Denver was cool while Midland was 106F on the day of my arrival.  But they say it is a 'dry heat'; that must explain why Houston at 85 degrees seems hotter than any day in Midland.  Terry Knighton of PBGS met me at the airport and we had a nice chat driving into town. It has always been a dry place, but a two-year drought has driven water issues to desert proportions.  The city water supply lake is 17% full and the city is planning some new aquifer wells.  The escalating water rate scale means if someone wants a lush, green acre it could cost thousands of dollars a month to water it.  But this is Midland where some folks can afford anything.

That evening Terry and the PBGS leadership treated me to a fine evening of conversation and great food at Venezias.  Midland is in a boom cycle driven by unconventional resource plays.  There are more realtors in town than houses for sale, anyone who really wants a job can find one, and hotel rooms go for upwards of $200/night (if you can find one).   Luckily Terry booked my room well in advance.

We had 21 attending the Midland DISC at the convention center across from my hotel.  It was a short walk, but one with a story.  It is not my story, but that of my wife Dolores (former Associate Editor of The Leading Edge). Back in the early 1980s the SEG mid-continent meeting was held in Midland and Dolores stayed at this same hotel I was now in for my DISC.  In fine evening clothes and high heels she walked across the street toward a group of geophysical friends when, out of nowhere, came a rampaging tumbleweed about 3 feet high propelled by a strong Midland wind.  As she describes it, "the thing took me down and I fell in a heap in the middle of the street."  For those who saw the event, it is the stuff of legend.

A special thanks is due to Joe Caputo who invited to his regular safety meeting at a charming establishment called The Bar.  Take care Midland, next stop Moscow!

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

DISC 8 Denver (24 April)

The Denver DISC was held on the 40th floor of the Encana Tower, with a magnificant view of the Rocky Mountains front range in the distance. Attendees included Ken Larner (who had the ghastly job of reviewing/editing my DISC book), Brad Artman, Dan Wisecup (famous for the classic residual statics paper) and Brian Pluemer of Schlumberger.

Pluemer was one of a cadre of Schlumberger engineers doing professional MS degrees while I was at CSM finishing up my PhD. These guys had been around the world and knew how to get things done. There are many great stories associated with Pluemer et al., but I will just tell a short one. With Brian and the others I went to an Ore Digger football game. The CSM facility was quaint by today's standards where even a high school team stadium can seat 20,000. With several of the SLB guys we sauntered up to the ticket gate, merely a break in the 4 ft chain-link fence serving as security around the bleachers. We had a washtub full of ice and a beer keg. The ticket guy said "You can't bring that in here." Pluemer thought about it for a second and responded, "What if we walk it a few yards behind you and hand it over the fence to our buddies while you keep taking tickets?"  "No Problem." We got the tub and passenger up to the stands where it was wrapped in a coat with a CSM ball cap over the tap. My memory is fuzzy, but I think Prof. Hadsell was sitting next to us and enjoyed a beverage.

Thanks to everyone for many lively discussions and to Encana for a great venue and million dollar view.

********* Feedback ***************

Hello Chris- 

I had the good fortune of attending your DISC class here in Denver last week. Thank you so much for it! I found it uncommonly engaging and with the right balance of being approachable yet challenging. It made me wish to take a class from you.

You mentioned the fieldcamp you are involved in. I assume you mean the YBRA camp? Are you familiar with the CSM Geophysics fieldcamp? (I don't what form it took in 1989 and anyway as a PhD student you might not have had much contact with it.) I'm spearheading GXT/IONs involvement in that because I just love it. Like YRBA, the students live in the field and survey a given area using most geophysical methods: magnetic, electrostatic, gravity, deep seismic (using vibrators lent by Veritas and an acquisition system donated by Sercel), shallow "hammer" seismic, well logging. What makes the CSM camp special is that they go to a different area every year, and solve real-world local problems. For a while for instance they were investigating hydrothermal processes in the Arkansas valley between Buena Vista and Poncha Springs. Prof. Mike Batzle ably manages it using his "organized chaos" method. As he says "It is where we turn students into Geophysicists".

I just thought I'd mention it, maybe there is some way you and he could collaborate or share experiences. Unfortunately many R&D or academic people are uninterested in the more practical aspects of where their data comes from. We others need to stick together... 

Also kudos for the shout-out to OpendTect! I hope they succeed and prosper. It would be good for the industry. 

 Hans Ecke 
R&D Geophysicist 
ION Geophysical 
GX Technology

Sunday, April 22, 2012

DISC 7 Houston (20 April)

We had a great crowd for the Houston DISC, about 98 attending in the WesternGeco Q room. Very fitting that, considering the course has much content about attenuation. As one would expect in Houston, it was a very knowledgable crowd. Many friends and luminaries were in the room, including Bob Sheriff (1 day after his 90th birthday), Colin Sayers, Norm Neidell, John Smythe (VP of FairfieldNodal), SEG past-presidents Fred Hilterman, Bill Barkhouse, and Klaas Koster, and current SEG DISC committee chairman Baishali Roy. We had a lively session and with all the deep expertise in the room, the audience often answered its own questions. A lecturer's dream.

The suggestion was made for me to post PDF files for the key references of each chapter, as well as errata for the book. I'm working on it...

************** Feedback ***************

Dr. Liner,

Thank you so much for lecturing to us today at WesternGeco's facility. The lecture topics were great, and although most of it was over my head, there were some great takeaways for me. Dr. Roel Snieder at CSM always told us that science was like any sport or talent, and skill at it represents a time accumulated. You can't be a great piano player without putting in a lot of time pushing the piano keys, and likewise, science takes time. He told us, "As I lecture, you may not get it, but that's okay, because at least I can plant a seed and then maybe the next time you hear it, something clicks, or the time after that!" That's always how I've approached learning, accepting that I may not always get things the first time, but as the old saying goes, you can't win the prize if you aren't playing the game. Thanks for introducing and clarifying so many things that are new to me. Happy travels throughout the year.

Robert Blanchard

************** Photos ***************

Coming soon

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

DISC 6 Dallas (17 April)

Things are getting hectic, but I wanted to put up a class photo. Notable attendees included Tracy Stark and former UH student Bryan Flynn.

Friday, April 13, 2012

DISC 5 New Orleans (12 April)

Ellen Clark of the Southeastern Geophysical Society hosted the DISC at the Shell Square Auditorium. It was an intimate gathering of 17, including a few students from LSU. Someone suggested the title of my DISC was a bit off-putting to interpreters and seismic processors alike. There may be something to that, but I prefer truth in advertising over a slick title that might be misleading. The course has, in fact, about 30% content related to topics of interest to processing and the same for interpretation. This DISC is not a 'how to' course of incremental advances over current practice, but a glimpse at phenomena that may one day be exploited.

While in The Big Easy, I stayed at the fabulous Le Pavillon hotel. You gotta love a place where the room has a wet bar, doorbell and fireplace, and medallion portraits of Napoleon and Josephine preside over the lobby elevator doors beneath an ornate 12 foot ceiling. Did I mention it is better-priced than the big chain hotels? Or the $20 breakfast buffet? A few blocks away is the Felix Oyster Bar where I ate an alarming number of oysters on the half-shell.

Unlike the 110-strong Calgary audience that was impossible to photograph, in New Orleans we managed a nice group shot. Ellen Clark is on the far left.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

DISC 4 Calgary (10 April)

During the weeks since Jakarta I reworked my DISC slides. You may recall that in Brisbane I had a disaster as my slides had missing images and equations. In that case, I had to present from PDF files that also had some of the same issues. How did I get all the way to DISC 1 with obvious slide problems?

I built the slide sets on my Mac powerbook and desktop Mac pro. My DISC dress-rehersal was presented from the powerbook, all was well. But in Brisbane I presented from a macbook air. Turns out the problem comes from dragging certain PDF image files to powerpoint. Since Jakarta, I checked all slides in Windows and fixed any problems by using bitmap graphics instead of dragged PDFs. A bit technical, but anyway that is what I have been up to for 3 weeks. All went well with slides in Calgary.

The Calgary DISC was the largest class yet, I think the count was 110. Calgary was brown but warm and the venue (Telus convention center Macleod room) was excellent. Brian Russell was kind enough to introduce me and ask several questions throughout the day. Hugh Geiger was my CSEG host and treated me to a wonderful seafood lunch.

There were several questions about the value of Q typically used for seismic 'inverse Q' processing. These tend to be on the order of 100-150 and the question is whether this represents intrinsic, apparent or total Q. Good question.

Dinner after the DISC was delightful with my old buddy Brian Henry from Saudi Aramco days. An early breakfast with Larry Lines (another good friend) capped off a great, if brief, trip to Calgary. Now I am off to New Orleans.

******** Photos ********

Hugh Geiger of CSEG

Roy Lindseth, famous geophysicist