Light at the end of the funnel

Peeking carefully around the corner I can see the possibility of long warm days listening to XM music holding a tall glass of adult beverage while standing 10 feet from the sandbar in waist deep water under the bow of my boat…   I can almost see that perfect “cookie” of a day in my future ~ Waking up when I want to, going to bed when I want to, and filling the middle with whatever sweet creamy stuff I decide to do that day…..  with a little cold milk (and time) I’ll be fat with anticipation.

There must be a mathmatical limit the experts have established regarding how may decisions per minute you can achive before you become overstressed.  During one of these big turnarounds, my DPM (decisions per minute) meter swings wildly from 8AM to 8PM.  At 8 in the morning  that needle is pegged… if it stays pegged for more than 2 hours it’s time to get more coffee….  Then by the time I get home and in my chair with my wonderful wife waiting on me… around 8 in the evening my DPM is bumping the other peg… at zero. 

Preparing to shut down a refinery is stressful, there must be millions of questions that have to be answered in advance in order to have as few suprises possible during the outage.  I have come to believe the number of decisions is directly related to the TA budget.  A 50 mm dollar turnaround probably requires 50 million pre-answered questions before you can begin.  We have probably answered 45 million of them with 3 weeks to go.  Hmmm lets do the math:  5 million questions remaining divided by 50 guys, working 12 hours a day for 20 remaining days… yep that’s about right 416 questions a hour / 7 a minute.   We might be a bit closer to completion than that.. maybe we only have 300 questions/hr to answer.  The problem is – some of these guys can only manage one answer a day so that puts more on me!

Thoughts of blue water and playing with my boat are becoming mentally safer to dwell on.  In 20 days the planning effort will be over.. that’s when the client turns off his big 20 acre kitchen that cooks crude oil.   As soon as he quits making money he starts spending it…  We hand the collosal project over to the contractors to clean and refurbish all the big pots and pans.  My job then becomes tracking progress. 

I am beginning to de-stress though… just knowing the transition from 300 decisions an hour about stuff that means a lot….. to 3 questions a day about which position I want to be in to relax is helping me wring the tension out of my brain as we speak. 

In about a month my DPM meter will be switched over to the DPD scale.  I predict that recalabration will take about 3 weeks to accomplish, it usually does.  My land based stress level is starting to swirl in the bowl…  the decreasing number of questions are allowing me to see deeper and deeper into the funnel.  Soon my view will change.  I’ll be looking over the side of the boat through calm, clear water, or blankly staring behind me as my worries are washed away by the frothy white saltwater.  Sun sets over the ocean are magical.  I see a light.. at the end of the funnel.

Sea Yawl Later !!   Rusty

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