Monday, October 20, 2008

Downtown Houston, Texas

Today (Monday, October 20) I was summoned to participate in an all-day meeting. (Boooring!) The one bright note is that today's gathering was held in one of our company's two downtown offices that I had never previously visited. This particular building is located across the street from the office structure whose picture I posted here on October 8 (see below). The office I was in today (pictured above) may be familiar to some readers in that this was the first building that Enron built in Houston - the one where that infamous "E" was situated out in front. This was the "Ground Zero" where the one of the biggest corporate thefts occurred. Many people lost their jobs and Houston suffered a 'black eye' after the scandals by Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling surfaced. (My humble opinion: the Enron bankruptcy may have been a precursor to the current economic turmoil now afflicting the USA and the rest of the world!). Anyway, I digress ... I simply want to say that being here in this building had a certain meaning for me in that here is where history (albeit very bad history) took place. After Enron ceased operation, our company leased several floors of offices at a very attractive rate. In addition, we also purchased the other building Enron constructed - again, this was the structure I showed in my earlier posting.

PS: I survived my all-day meeting and am now comfortably ensconced in my regular office on the west side of Houston!

PPS: For all my readers who reside outside of the USA, do any of you know about Enron?? Just curious. To this day, that was one of the largest corporate failures in our country's history.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stonehenge at the University of Texas - Permian Basin

Stonehenge model at the University of Texas - Permian Basin in Odesa, Texas.

Oh well, my trip to Odessa, Texas is nearing an end and not a moment too soon. I completed my teaching duties this morning and I started suffering from a sore throat this afternoon. I fly home tomorrow morning (hopefully) for some rest and recuperation. Before I leave, however, I managed to swing by the campus of the University of Texas - Permian Basin (UTPB) where they have constructed a recreation of the famous Stonehenge in the UK. I am not sure if this copy Stonehenge is made to scale or is just a fraction of the original. Anyway, I could not miss an opportunity to snap a few pictures and share them with every reader of my blog.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Greetings from Midland / Odessa (West Texas)

The Pecos Depot - The actual railway station in Pecos, Texas was moved to Odessa and now sits next to The Barn Door Restaurant.

A very nice restaurant when you are in Odessa, Texas. (Beware: mostly beef served for dinner!!)

My flight from Houston arrived on time!!

Greetings from West Texas. Actually I am in the Odessa half (population = 97,000) of the so-called Midland/Odessa "metroplex". (One of those twin cities like Minneapolis/St.Paul or Dallas/Ft.Worth, etc.) It's been many years since my last trip to Midland so it's about time that I return to this part of our state. I am here on a short (3-day) business trip helping three co-instructors present a four-day school to about fifteen of our company's employees who work in West Texas. The course I shall be helping teach is entitled "Oilfield Chemistry" and is mainly aimed at our field personnel, that is, those engineers who actually work in the oilfield and have to keep all the oil production wells operating. Midland/Odessa's economy (like Houston's) rises and falls with the price of oil. Lately, this city has been prospering: lots of employment, people spending money, motels fully booked, etc. I am wondering what the recent plunge in the oil price from $148/bbl to < $80/bbl will do to the West Texas economy. I lived through the oil price crash in the mid-80's when everything in Houston was either for sale, for lease or foreclosed! I just hope the oil price drop is not as severe and not as long-lived this time around. [Yes, I realize all you folks in New York or California want the lowest oil price possible. But all those of us in the oil industry just want a reasonable price: not so high that it chokes our struggling economy and not too low to prevent exploration and production. And keep people like me employed a little longer!]

PS: A special note of thanks to one of my followers, John, who answered my technical question on how to use embedded links within a posting. John's Blog, I Have Dreams, has all the graphical details laid out so a novice like me can follow the instructions easily. THANKS A LOT JOHN!! If I ever pass through Kuala Lumpur, I owe you a big coffee/tea at Starbucks .... or wherever your preferred local place to hang out is located! Oh, and thanks for pointing out that the flower I had in an earlier post was a hibiscus flower - your country's national flower.

PPS: Apologies for the rather mundane pictures above but I have not had time to take any really interesting pictures here in Odessa --- yet.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Note to All My Loyal Followers

Just a brief note to point out that I've added a "widget" (see the left side, above) that allows any reader to become a follower of this blog. I appreciate your following and will try to respond (in time) to your comments.

PS: I was in downtown yesterday attending a meeting in our main Houston office (one of the two former Enron buildings!!). I am pleased to report that all the damage from Hurricane Ike has been repaired and it appears that all our windows are in place (see picture above).

Sunday, October 5, 2008

California Redux

Dear Readers:

Many of you (Dchem, "Weecheeky", "World Wide", Kristen, Daisy, Mandy and several others) have commented how you liked the photos I posted for my recent vacation in Sonoma California. Well ... here are some more!

In addition to being a swell place to visit, California is definitely home to many, well, let's say, different types of people!! In Sebastopol (where I stayed for 8 days), there is an artist who makes metal objects d'art. The one above, depicting a dog, is made entirely out of metal and is alondside Highway 12 leading into Sebastopol. Many more such objects can be found along Florence Avenue in Sebastopol.
Jack London's grave in Glen Ellen. Honest!! That's all there is!! Just a moss-coverd stone.

Too many wineries are springing up in Northern California! One problem: a lot of the apple orchards are being torn out and replaced with vineyards. Bye bye apples, hello grapes. Mind you, I like wine but I shall surely miss the delicious Gravenstein apples.

The seacoast at Bodega Bay. Nice sea air, lots of seagulls and if the season is just right, you can spot a whale way off the coast.

The vineyard at the Benziger Winery at Glen Ellen, California.
By the way, since time was so short, I had to forgo visiting San Francisco itself (except for driving thru it going to/from the SFO Airport). Besides, I've been to SF many times in the past and decided to focus on enjoying Northern California without the city life.

Again, thanks for all your many comments!! Keep 'em coming!! I'll try to reply but since I have a day job it may take a while to find the time to type out a response.
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PS: My next trip overseas will probably begin in about a month so stay tuned.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Blogs of Note!!!

To all my readers:

WOW ... what a difference a day makes. I've been posting to my blog - Traveling Chemist - since January 2008 and have had only a few comments posted. Then, suddenly, a whole collection of postings!! Many thanks!! I suppose this relates to my blog having been named as one of the "Blogs of Note" on September 30th! (Thanks to the Blogspot editors!) I do appreciate your comments and will read each and EVERY one, eventually. I may not have time to respond to every comment, however. But I'll try to answer a few ... just be patient.

I'd like to repeat a comment of my own pertaining to the theme of this blog (i.e., traveling!!): One major bonus of traveling is that it makes one appreciate what is often taken for granted back home!! And one more bonus: the diverse cultures and people that I encounter along the way all add to my understanding of other ways of life. And if I have a great time along the way, so much the better!