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defining busy

Posted by tonyelder on Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Well, I figure a blog about recent events would be better than posting in a forum thread.  

So what has happened? This will be a very abbreviated version. Way to much has happened to provide details with out this turning into a book. I hope that you are able to read how Providence has played such a large roll in these events. I am humbled.

Well a lot of folks know that Joy and I moved from Alaska back to Tennessee to take care of my dad. He passed away in May of last year after suffering with dementia. Those last 90 days were really packed with a lot of care taking. I am so grateful that I was able to do that. But that was done while still working full time - even though it was working from home. Goodness - how did that happen?

The full time job was working for the engineering company that I was working for in Alaska (CH2M Hill). They were bought out by Jacobs Engineering, and Jacobs didn't have as favorable disposition for "teleworkers" as CH2M did. Fortunately, the folks I was working for (local Alaska office) went to bat for me - knowing that I was the best candidate for finishing a project for Alyeska (Trans-Alaska pipeline). But the job was scheduled to end in mid August. I had my work cut out for me. I was burying my dad, trying to liquidate his estate (while living and working out of the house), working overtime to finish the project, and trying to plan our (wife and I) next move. We ended up buying out my brother and sister - just so we could work those issues at our own pace.

At the beginning of August I got a call from the refinery that I worked for when we left to go to Alaska (20 years ago). The wanted me to come to work as a contractor / consultant to help with an upcoming "Turnaround". "There will be some overtime involved." I could have retired (67) but - I didn't want to pay for my wife's health insurance on the open market out of savings, and I like what I do. So I accepted the job.  

So, I left Jacobs on a Friday and went to work for Valero Refining on Monday. Around about the same time I took the job at Valero, we found a house we liked. We ended up buying the house and the estate of the previous owner.

So, that meant working at new job (with overtime) moving into a house with the contents of 3 households (our Alaska stuff, dad's estate, and the new estate), while trying to sell my dad's house. This was a HUGE problem. Everything was packed up - had everything we needed, but could not find a thing when we needed it.

We took loads to the auction. I still haven't gone to settle those accounts yet. And we still have things boxed up.

I started working 70 hours in November (week break during Christmas) - and that went to 70 - 80 hours in January. And by the end of March it was 80 - 100 hours a week. Last week was 91.5 hour week. The week before - I took a "fatigue day" (required to take 1 day off every 2 weeks) and still had over 80 hours for the week.

What is a "Turnaround" at a refinery? As you can imagine, a refinery is a 24 hour a day - non-stop operation. But you have to schedule outages for certain things (to avoid "unscheduled outages"). And usually, when a scheduled outage is being planned, any upgrades or new installations (to increase production and realiablity) will get planned at the same time. So, my job has been to plan and schedule all of the electrical and instrument work that needed to be done in Complex 1 (4 units within the refinery) during the turnaround. Perspective: every day theses units are down, the refinery loses $1MM in revenue. They aren't really concerned with what they spend - the focus is on getting back into operation. My job - I planned and managed the E&I work to make sure we get it all done on time.

So, this house we bought - for me - has only been a place where I take a shower, eat, and go to bed. Up at 4 AM, at my desk at 5, leave work at 7 PM, home by 7:30 PM. I better be in bed by 9 - at the latest. Now, I can start to enjoy it (and my wife).

That has been my life for the past year. Busy, very busy. No time for anything. But I did manage to play a little bit, every once in a while.

I was not prepared for this job. I really didn't know this was what I was hired for. But... they liked what I did. Operations and maintenance took possession of the units on Monday - and it is "oil in". They are making product again. They said go home, take the week off, get some rest, and come back next week - for 40 hour weeks. We have another turnaround coming up this fall. So, I guess I still have a job.

The next one is a lot smaller - only 1 unit. Should only last 30 days. 

Yeap, the money is good. I told my wife, "I'm going to reward myself. I think a new fiddle might be nice." I'm on a hunt!

And guess what - now we are planning to remodel the house we bought. And it will be more than just a paint job.  But we don't have that many years left, and I'm going to try and enjoy what we have while we can.



3 comments on “defining busy”

Fiddler Says:
Friday, July 5, 2019 @7:43:20 PM

Tony, what an adventure!! Caring for a parent is difficult at best. I can't imagine the challenges you faced!

Having worked in or around the petrochem industry my entire working life, I fully appreciate the pressures and time you spent! But, there is nothing like the satisfaction of completing the task and hearing that the unit is back in production!! Congratulations on some well-earned down time. Hope you are able to enjoy life a bit more now. Best wishes!

ChickenMan Says:
Friday, July 5, 2019 @8:44:52 PM

All I can say is "wow." Busy doesn't really describe it properly. I cannot imagine those kinds of hours (especially not 12 years from now). Take care of yourself, love your people and make some music once and a while already. Great to hear from you, by the way.

TuneWeaver Says:
Saturday, July 6, 2019 @5:32:36 AM

Amazing story, Tony.. With those organizational skills, maybe you'd be able to help my schedule a jam..!!! Lots of personalities... all different... Take care of your health also...Sounds like you are getting good care.. Lee

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