Monthly Archives: August 2008

The things that Nostalgia can bring

Right before I hit the sack I decide to type in the name of a former employer in Search to see what comes up.;col1


And to think I was there during that time and met a benefactor…geeeeeez.

I remember when clients would ask for a lead test on the gasoline samples; no one ever did them.  "Why should we?  Gas doesn’t have lead in it"….But they paid for the test anyway.  I decided to find out why.  In order to run the test, you had to read the method from a manual of various tests.  The test for lead required a prep time of approximately 2 hours, which really isn’t that bad seeing that a lot of the test required a half day prep.  BUT the reagents used couldn’t be found in the lab.  So I had to synthesize the reagent (more prep time).  Then I find out that the instrument to be used had to have a certain range which our particular model did not have.  So I sat there…fine, I thought to myself.  I’ll let someone else do that test and go up to the sheet to assign it to someone and lo and behold…the result is already there:  >.01ppm (or whatever the reporting % was)  WHAT?  Who did that test?!  No one said a thing.

It’s called pencil-whipping.

From the article:



SAYBOLT is part of a multinational group of companies whose primary business is to conduct quantitative and qualitative testing of bulk commodities, such as petroleum, gasoline, and other petrochemicals. SAYBOLT typically performs testing and inspection services for oil and gas refiners and importers. The data falsification charges, which predate SAYBOLT’s acquisition by Core Laboratories in 1997, arise from SAYBOLT’s pattern of falsifying the results of qualitative tests on petroleum products.

The conspiracy centered on the testing of the oxygen content of Reformulated Gasoline ("RFG"). RFG is blended to meet environmental specifications for various chemical and physical properties, including oxygen content. Under the Clean Air Act, in areas of the country where national air quality standards have not been met, importers and refiners are required to sell RFG. In order to attract and keep customers, SAYBOLT routinely inflated the oxygen content of its customers’ RFG in reports that were submitted to the EPA, which monitors the RFG program. SAYBOLT falsified its data, reporting results that were not actually obtained in the lab, and manipulated testing equipment to generate higher oxygen figures. In some instances the falsified reports enabled refiners and importers to sell RFG that did not meet minimum requirements. In other instances, sellers received undeserved "credits" for selling RFG that purportedly exceeded minimum environmental specifications.

SAYBOLT also falsified lab results in areas unrelated to RFG, acceding to customer demands that SAYBOLT report as "on-specification" lab results for other petroleum products, such as home heating oil, regardless of the actual test results. Often, these instances of data falsification involved commercial, rather than environmental, specifications.  "


Holy crap…


Filed under Uncategorized

TechEd SouthEast Asia – Malaysia

One of the things that concerned me about traveling to Malaysia was the amount of time I would actually spend in the air.  A daunting 14 hours to Taipei and then another 5 hours to Kuala Lumpur; not for the claustrophobic or (fear of flying people).  Or recovering pulmonary embolism patients like myself.  I get up about every hour just to walk around and keep the juices flowing.  It’s 8am Arizona time (11pm Malaysia time) and I should go to sleep so that jet lag doesn’t kick my arse (like it does almost every time I travel)…however, technically I’m going WEST…so…maybe I’ll be OK.



Malaysia airlines is the friendliest airline I’ve ever used (almost as friendly as Thai Airways, but more on that later).  Even with the voodoo that goes on behind the counter.  How in the world do airlines still function using such arcane systems?  I was watching the keystrokes these attendants were using and it was indeed voodoo.  They even had to ask each other for keystroke combinations to give a screen that, when looked at by a normal human being, makes about as much sense as attempts at Unification Equation.  For $700 they upgraded me to Business Class.  Cool.  I wasn’t so lucky on the way back.  $3000 was the upgrade fare, except I only paid $1800 for the original roundtrip airfare.  I couldn’t see justifying twice the fare for an upgrade.  In Business Class I was very impressed.  Yeah, most flight attendants in Business Class are very accommodating but these attendants are over the top!  They didn’t just point me to my seat, they ESCORTED me to my seat.  Probably would have read me the newspaper, too, had I requested it—REALLY.

The beautiful travel started when at the check-in I did a stupid thing:  I left my Zune30 (complete with accessory bag, charger, cable, etc) at the counter.  I’m sitting on the plane ready to consume my complimentary beverage and snack when the gate agent approaches me and says, "Mr Taylor–I believe this belongs to you."

1) How did he remember that?

2) Very honest

Everything was there, too.  I will definitely fly Malaysia Airlines again!

This travel was only exceeded by Thai Airways when I went to Thailand, which even went one step further; if you can imagine that…and they’re part of the Star Alliance, which means I get miles for it.



I would never have thought that a hotel could ever be TOO hospitable.  The Traders Hotel in Kuala Lumpur comes VERY close.  They are WAY over the top with kindness and amenities.  I was so impressed with the breakfast that I think I had to try everything.  I’ve been to Europe many times and thought that the US could totally learn something about a buffet from our European brothers and sisters; well–it’s our Asian brothers and sisters that know how to do it.  HOLY MACKEREL! the service was IMPECCABLE.  They don’t even let you push the buttons on the elevator!  Seriously!

  The view from my room was absolutely marvelous!




TechEd Southeast Asia is a smaller conference than its TechEd brethren EMEA or US.  About half the size of EMEA at 2000 delegates, the conference packs more punch because of the caliber of the presenters and the technical content in less days.  The staff are very hospitable and see to make life for the presenters as smooth as possible.  One thing TechEd SEA does that I haven’t see in the other conferences is personalize the speaker shirt.  The design is also much more hip than I’ve seen in any of the other conferences.

DSCN0669 DSCN0670


After the conference was over I took a trip to Thailand which was about a two hour plane ride.  Not bad.  I rode on Thai Airways and was SUPER impressed with the service.  I stayed one night in Bangkok before heading up to lesser known Khon Kaen.  The Queen of Thailand made the place a center for education and it showed as there seemed to be a university on every city block.  My guide took me to a mall where we ate at a place called MK, which (I guess) is like a fast food joint except that the food isn’t your typical fast food fare.  You order from a menu and then they bring the veggies to you to cook on your table where there is a big pot of boiling water.  You throw your noodles in there as well.  The only thing cooked in the kitchen is the meat you might have ordered.  Very interesting indeed.  I stayed at the Sofitel Hotel which was fantastic.  I managed to catch an earlier flight out and landed in Bangkok in time to make an earlier flight back to Kuala Lumpur but it didn’t help….


I was *supposed* to go to Manila, Philippines afterward but the time to go through customs and reboard on a different airline in a different terminal wasn’t happening for me.  I ended up staying another night in Thailand.



My sessions were ‘OK’.  The demos were being run from a S-L-O-W external drive and I was having trouble showing everything for FBA (Forms-based Authentication).  I forgot a step and it blew up at the end….I hate when that happens!  My interactive session was ranked #4 in its class of sessions.



My next conference is the SharePoint Best Practices Conference in Washington DC.  Then in October I will be in Iceland for the Dive Deeper Technical Conference.


Filed under Uncategorized

OK, I feel welcome now.

This week has been an incredible week for me.  I didn’t realize so many people knew that I had been gone a year in Seattle.

I was at Costco and on my way in the Mayor of my town is coming out.  I say, "Mayor!" and then he surprised me by saying, "Rick!  Welcome back!".  1) I didn’t know that he knew me by name and 2) I didn’t know that he knew I was gone.  We shook hands and friendly pats on the back and talked about the changes in the town in a year.  He invited me to the party he has at the end of the year and then we went about our respective business.

Last night I was driving around the neighborhood and saw an old neighbor (I live in the same neighborhood, actually the same street–just around the corner).  He proceeded to swear.  @#$@%^&^*$#$%!@#$!  RICK!!  #$%^$&^%&@ YOU’RE BACK!!

I’ve been swore at before when someone was angry at me, but never because someone was so happy.  He just kept swearing… it was un-nerving in a way.  He gave me a huge hug and took my new number and then I went my way.

Downtown Phoenix has a restaurant that I LOVE.  It’s called ELIANA’S, named after the proprietor’s daughter.  It boasts the best Salvadoran food in the USA outside of Los Angeles (which has more Salvadorans than El Salvador).  I come in and he says "Y tu, adonde has metido?  Por que no has venido?" I tell him I was in Seattle and he breaks out in perfect English "WHAT!  What are you doing going up there?  You belong right here!  Welcome home!"

At the gym, there is a guy (don’t even know his name)…we love to chide each other over sports.  He loves the sCrUBS…that ought to tell you something about how our banter usually goes.  He usually is on the elliptical machine and comes in just as I’m finishing.  He sees me and comes up and says, "And where have YOU been?!!  SLACKER…all you White Sox and Bears fans…LAZY bums! Welcome back!!"

Welcome back, indeed.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized