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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jaded in the Field

I'm laying in a random bed eating day old pizza which I heated up in my rooms only cooking appliance, a microwave, while listening to some indie rock music and reflecting about happier times. I do this knowing that I'll have to wake up in 8 hours from now and brave the cold weather to go look at some core pulled out of the Earth. I'm in Milford, Utah and I have been for the last 12 out of 13 days. Is this what being a geologist is?

Today was a relatively easy day. My partner and I worked for 8 hours, far shorter than our typical 12 hour shift. We worked together expediting the process of things and only drilled two holes. Most days I've been the lone geologist on my crew of 4-5 people and we've done anywhere from 4-7 holes. Afterward we drove into the city (Beaver - population 4000) to get some Mexican food and check our cell phone messages.

That was pleasant I guess. It's something to look forward to, but to be honest these past couple days have been quite miserable. I can do field work, it's not a huge deal. Having a room, whatever I want to eat, gas, rental truck and any supplies I need for the job all paid for by the project is great. Then on top of that getting paid more than I ever dreamed of making at this point in my life is amazing. There are so many perks to this job, especially the field work aspect, that I couldn't leave even if I wanted. I just get so lonely.

My only connection with the outside world is whoever I can talk to on facebook. I find myself messaging random people who I've not talked to in years just in the hopes of starting a conversation. It doesn't normally happen. Occasionally old roommates will have a conversation with me or various girls that I used to date will chat for a while with me, but that's about it. I can't talk to any of my family because my motel has an absurd long distance charge that I would feel bad charging my company for and my cell phone doesn't get service here.

Around town I've tried talking to various people and making friends, but most people here seem content with not getting to know outsiders. I don't blame them. It's a small town, maybe 1000 people. Everyone knows everyone and when someone comes in with a new $40,000 pickup truck wearing clothes purchased at the mall and traipsing around their modest town eating out every day. It's probably a little annoying. Then I try asking questions like what living in Milford is like and they look at me weird. I understand I guess. If someone asked me what living in Salt Lake was like I would be happy to answer, but I'm proud of Salt Lake. I can't imagine many people are proud of Milford. It probably sounds condescending though I don't mean it that way. I really want to know what the lives of people here are like.

On any given day I have about 2-3 hours to myself where I'm not working, doing post-work paperwork, showering or sleeping. I have those 3ish hours to get dinner, read, watch TV, play on facebook and anything else I might want to do. I guess that's what being an adult is like. I can't imagine things are much different for most of my married friends, but I'm single. I should have plenty of time to myself still, right? Oh well.

It's just hard. It's hard being with drillers for 10-12 hours hearing about nothing but raunchy sex stories, of which 95% are more than likely completely made up, and cursing over dropped pipes, slippery work conditions or crushed liners and then making an hour long commute back to a motel room over mostly unpaved roads. It's strange to think that I went to college for four years to live this life. Would I have gone for it if I knew this is what I was getting myself into?

Don't get me wrong, there are good parts to my job as well. I love sitting in the office with geologists and engineers and building models and even building databases (though databases can get monotonous at times I still do enjoy it.) I love the pay and the ability I have to help people out when they need money or to just be able to say "I got this one," when I go out to eat with someone and not have to worry about how that's going to fit into my budget. Certain things about life right now are amazing. Field work is just so hard. I don't know how long I can sanely do field work at this frequency for an extended period of time. I hope once the Sevier Lake project is completed that I get to spend a few months doing desktop geology.

I guess overall this is a wonderful experience for me and is really helping me become a more well-rounded person. I'm learning so much. I'm doing a great thing for the surrounding community should a mine develop here bringing employment and commerce. It's just that being cut off from friends, family and anything that I care about for 12 of the last 13 days isn't something I dreamed of doing shortly after college, but I guess this is the life right here; a lonely motel room and a laptop and day old pizza. Staying up late, past 10pm, for the sake of writing a blog that I can someday reflect back on and hopefully remember these times as being a pretty good experience.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


That's how many people there are now on our planet.

Interesting. I thought out of boredom, and since having worked for the census bureau for 3 months I am obviously an expert on population (not really), I would put together a collection of interesting stats based on that number.

When I was born, on January 30th, 1986 there were 4,912,946,909 people alive, according to a cool little calculator on the BBC website I used. You can use it here The world population has since increased by 30%, or roughly 1.2% per year.

3,563,000,000 people on the planet are female.
485,000,000 of those fall within an age range in which I would consider dating. (20-29)

1,400,000,000 people on the planet currently have a viral STD.
That leaves 388,000,000 for me to date if I disqualify those with STD's.

700,000,000 left handed people are alive today.
This means only 38.8 million of the dateable people for me would have to eat dinner sitting to my left.

94.5 million "geniuses" (People with an IQ over 145) are currently living today.
This leaves 27,000 females who would be around my age, STD free and intelligent enough for me to date (I'm obviously kidding about this one. I prefer intelligence around my own, which is clearly below IQ=145)

There are 57,308,738 square miles of land on the planet.
That is roughly 21,200 square meters of land per person. That is a box which is 145 meters on each side or about 1.5 football fields.

This area obviously varies by the resolution in which you look at the planet. Here along the Wasatch Front, I obviously do not have that much area to myself, but using the resolution of the whole state of Utah I have about 4x that.

7,000,000,000 seconds ago George Washington was about 6 months into his role as president of the newly formed United States of America.
There are roughly 7,000,000,000 separate bits of information in the Xbox 360 video-game Dragon Age 2.
There are 7,000,000,000 bytes of data in 70 yards of physical books on a shelf if you converted them to e-books.
7 billion years ago, the nebula which would later condense and ignite and be called the sun by 7 billion people hadn't even begun to form.
The number of base pairs in the human genome is less than half of that number, at just over 3 billion.

According to BP's estimate of 1,333 billion barrels of oil remaining on planet Earth. This is roughly 8,000 gallons of crude oil per person.

When considering the refining process used to extract gasoline usable by your car from crude oil and using the average quality of oil found on the planet we end up with approximately 19.5 gallons of gas per 42 gallon (1 barrel) of crude oil. This lowers the number to 3,700 gallons of gasoline per person remaining.

Using my car as an example (a 2010 Subaru WRX), I can drive to Los Angeles and back to Salt Lake City 67 times with that much gasoline. (Fortunately for Americans, no one uses as much gas as we do...)

Using the current population growth rate of 0.012 (or 1.2%) per year and a continuously compounding growth curve the world population would hit

8 billion : 2023
9 billion : 2033
10 billion : 2041

and would be at 13.5 billion when I die, assuming I live 80 years.

Most people who study this stuff expect a decline in population growth.

60% of the 7 billion people on the planet live in Asia.

When comparing population percentage to land area per continent it looks like this.

Asia: 60.4% pop, 30% land area, Ratio = 2.0
Africa: 14.5% pop, 20.3% land area, Ratio = 0.71
Europe: 10.9% pop, 6.7% land area, Ratio = 1.6
South America: 8.5% pop, 12.6% land area, Ratio = 0.67
North America : 5.0% pop, 16.3% land area, Ratio = 0.31
Oceania: 0.50% pop, 5.2% land area, Ratio = 0.096

The ratio is essentially useless, except for comparing population density to the entire world, which would have a ratio of 1.0.

In an estimate done by Carl Haub of the Population reference Bureau, 106 billion people have lived on Earth throughout history.

Having evolved roughly 200,000 years ago and given a world life expectancy of 69.4 years, this says the average person who will die today has seen 0.035% of human history, but had they met every person on the planet, they would have met 6.6% of all humans to have ever lived.

I should have been a statistician.