Mike Ault's thoughts on various topics, Oracle related and not. Note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not contributing to the overall theme of the BLOG or are insulting or demeaning to anyone. The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

54 and Counting

It started warm and partly cloudy in New York today. After learning that it would probably be at least $50 to simply cross the river in a taxi cab, I decided to use the path train to get from Jersey City to the NYOUG meeting in New York. The hotel shuttle dropped me off at the Path depot at the Exchange Center and after paying my $4 I got a round trip ticket to the WTC depot across the river. The trip was only about 4 minutes and I was soon pushing my pay into the St. Johns University building.

After the typical continental breakfast the rest of the attendees and I settled down into the auditorium for the keynote which was given by my friend Steven Feuerstein on the golden rules for PL/SQL developers. As usual Steven gave an excellent presentation. After Steven finished I gave my presentation on “Holistic Oracle Tuning” with many good questions and only over the time by 15 minutes or so. Then he, Peter Koletzke and I gave a panel presentation in which I got the most questions, probably because DBAs outnumbered developers.

I met an old friend of Susan and I and she made me promise to give Susan a hug and kiss for her and to be sure to tell her next time we were in town so we could come to dinner for some good (I am sure great) Russian cooking. I look forward to it.

After the conference I decided to hang around the city and have a birthday dinner at The Grill Room in the World Financial Center. I sat in one of the rear rooms with a view over the river. I watched the clouds roll in and the rain began as the ferries brought people to and from the various parts of New York and New Jersey into the Big Apple. The sheets of rain washed the colors form the buildings across the river, leaving them all in shades of gray. I started with a single Sapphire Gin and Tonic. Then I enjoyed my lamb chops, broccoli with hollandaise and artesian breads along with a nice glass of Pinot Grigio. To finish my solitary birthday celebration I ended with a chocolate mousse and glass of 15 year old port. Meanwhile the rain had intensified, sometimes blocking the view of the buildings across the river entirely.

Waiting for the rain to slack off, I paid and then sat in the atrium area watching the boat masts sway to and fro in the wind and rain and called Susan. We talked about the trivia of the day and important Mother-Father talk about our grown daughters and I was reminded that being alone on your birthday sucks.

When the rain finally slackened, I made my way back to the PATH depot and rode the train back to Jersey City. I waited in the wind and the rain for the hotel shuttle for 15 minutes, it was nice to be warm and dry. So now I am back in the hotel trying to decide whether to buy a movie or just work. A middle aged man alone in a hotel room.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Hopefully the latest attempt by BP to stop the Deepwater oil-leak will be successful. Of course now all the armchair quarterbacks will jump in with what they should have done, could have done or would have done had they been in charge.

In that line of thought I have just one question, why didn't they do the simplest things first? Putting the whole profit thing aside, the best thing to do was cap the well, kill it if needs be, to stop the oil. They have shown they have the technology to snap those huge pipes like twigs if they wish using huge hydraulic shears. SO obviously they have the technology to crimp them as well. Look at the following simple diagram:

Why didn't they do a progressive large set of crimps leading to the end of the pipe where they completely close the pipe? Then they could have gone back with the top-kill process and plugged the well with concrete. Face-it, had they broken the pipe trying it, we would not have been any worse off than we are now. As far as the smaller leaks in the pipe, there has been a wonderful technology used in damage control kits on Navy ships for years called band-it clamps. Essentially it is a large steel frame, sized to fit the pipe, that uses steel backed rubber mats and toggle bolts to allow you to place the clamp around the pipe, lock the toggle bolts in place and then slide the clamp over the leak and then tighten the bolts. A simple elegant and fast way to stop pipe leaks. It seems that this type of procedure could have been done in days, not weeks.

As far as this top-hat, funnel, whatever contraption, why not add some type of rubber skirt and band-clamp at the bottom to allow making a tighter seal to the sheared off pipe when they get it in place? And why do they think a pipe that is (at least it looks to be) only a quarter of the diameter of the leaking pipe going to handle all of the flow? I guess that falls into the category of things that make you say what?

What about good old fashioned gate or ball valves to close off the pipe every couple of hundred feet? Especially one right on top of the blow-out preventor? How about some good old low-tech to back up the often-failing high-tech?

As far as the top-kill: You would think all those brilliant chemists would have come up with something better than concrete. How about a high density foam that reacts with either water or oil (or both!) to form a fast, leak-tight plug?

Anyway, I guess I have arm-chair quarterbacked enough for now.