First Time Gate Guarding – Day 20 – 21

Day 20 

One thing that’s different about the nights (other than the 40 degree temps) is the well drilling fluid.  I’m not sure what the big trucks carrying this is for, but they are coming at least once an hour.  What this does essentially is stop me from really taking any naps.  Staying awake is my preference, so it’s OK, but I did like the 1:30am -3:30am lull that really allowed me to chill.  Ah well.  It’s the job. At least we aren’t as busy as the gate down the road.  They get at least 5 trucks an hour all through the night so not really any break down there. One of the guys working on the water well did stop by and say they were pulling the heavy equipment for another emergency job tomorrow.  He looked slightly apologetic, but I really didn’t know why.

Interesting side note, I am a very curious person, but in this job that curiosity is extremely muted.  Partly it’s because we can’t see what’s going on, partly it’s because when people do talk to us they use jargon we don’t understand, and I also think partly because of the nature of the job. I don’t need to know what’s happening back at the rig to check trucks in and out and although that’s never stopped me in the past, in this job, maybe for the first time, I don’t care that much. I’m not sure if that is progress or it’s not, but it is new.  Anyway, I had a hard time falling asleep and then woke up an hour early at 11am.  Turns out moving the equipment also included using the backhoe to put dirt on the water line right in front of our bedroom window and then moving a huge flat bed in front of same window and rolling the big equipment on it.  OK,  I’m up!  I suppose I should have paid more attention when he said he was “staging” but not sure what I could have done about it even if I had known.

Lee snapped this pic of what was going on outside my window. No wonder I woke up!

Lee snapped this pic of what was going on outside my bedroom window. No wonder I woke up!

One last thing about last night.  Our data finally rolled over so we have started a new tracking program.  Lee created a spreadsheet (I have obviously infected him with my particular brand of crazy) (No, no, I was already crazy long before. I used to have a spreadsheet for everything in the world. I love data. I could tell the kids to the penny how much it cost to run a light bulb or leave a computer monitor when nobody was in the room (they didn’t care), or how much money the furnace burned by the minute (they didn’t care), and how much it cost to stand in front of the fridge with the door open for 30 seconds (they didn’t care). I knew to the tenth of a mile how far away things were, and what was the most efficient route to get there depending on time of day and traffic density. Don’t give me crazy. I was the leading distributor of crazy for New England for fifteen years.-Lee) Every night we are writing down how much data we’ve used by device. I am responsible for my iPad and iPhone, and he gets the info for his iPhone, the PC and the laptop in the morning. Imagine his surprise when he saw I used 3 GB on the computer last night.  I watch  Top Chef and they have an online portion called Last Chance Kitchen .  I was way behind on seeing who got eliminated so I watched all nine 10 minute videos last night.  Well actually 10 since I accidentally closed the window when a truck came and loaded one twice.  Turns out only watching part of each video doesn’t matter.  You are charged for the entire video regardless of how long you watch it.  I really didn’t understand that.  I mean I like the show and everything, but not enough to burn an entire day worth of  data in one hour.  (80 GB / 30 days = 2.66GB per day alloted).  It was good though, because the tracking sheet’s job is to highlight issues like these and discuss them.  Lee understands I don’t know what he knows so I am learning. (If you ask nicely I will give you a more detailed breakdown of our data usage in the near future. It’s not like I’m doing anything else. I’m also working on a water audit because I am a complete nerd. – Lee)

And I probably should mention here that we do take advantage of free wifi when we are able, but those chances are a lot less frequent than people talk about, at least in our experience.  We have had limited success with McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc but we have had  very good luck with libraries.  Unfortunately, Dilley is so small it doesn’t even have a library, let alone one with internet.  Plus, using other people’s wifi really sucks up time.  Lee has to sit there, sometimes for hours, while files upload/download.  We both like libraries, but that’s much different than setting a program up out of your rig and then doing whatever you want until it is completed. We will do it though when we are in a data crunch if able.  But it is definitely not something you want to build an internet usage strategy around in my opinion.

Day 21

All of a sudden we have tons of things to do.  The W-2’s are flowing in so I need to start preparing the taxes, I am getting some final few recipes together to try and finish those out, getting caught up on all the shows I missed when we ran out of data and I started a new book called Seveneves which is excellent. Seriously, if you like science fiction, this book is good!  Forty pages in I didn’t want to put it down.  I read some in the afternoons when it’s my turn to be on duty and the traffic level and weather make it nice to sit outside.  It’s not great having to put a good book down every time there is a truck, but when the sun is shining and when the traffic is light it’s very nice.

Thanks to everyone who has been sending me recipes, by the way.  I really appreciate it.  I’m trying to fill in these last few holes with very specific recipes, but I promise I’ll try them all eventually.  I’ve been giving that some thought actually, since I have finished some of the categories.  I’m going to keep trying new things for sure even after the book has been done.  It’s been a lot of fun trying new recipes and keeps cooking from being a chore.  I would like to try more complicated recipes though I think.  I stuck to very simple ones for most of the book, because they lend themselves more to the RV Lifestyle, but now that I have learned some new techniques I would definitely like to try some “fancier” dishes.  That can wait until another day though, for right now I really want to get this done.  I’ve been trying these new recipes for over two years now and it will be nice to cook whatever I want without feeling like I need to always try something new.  And yes I know that feeling is 100% self-imposed but I can’t help it.  I don’t know what the opposite of procrastinator is but about most things I am just that. (Believe it or not, there is not technically a one word opposite of procrastinate. However. If you wanted to create one, following the rules of latin by which procrastinate was created, then it would be innunctiation, but that’s kind of hard to say, and it won’t catch on because people are lazy. You could throw out the latin altogether and use a greek prefix, and make it precrastinate. I don’t like that either. It sounds too easy. I suppose antecrastinate would work, but it lacks a certain zip. My favorite is concrastinate. – Lee) The sooner I get something done the better, which is why as soon as the last tax document is in place that will become the top priority, even though I know I can file an extension.

Speaking of taxes, our mail service (which scans the front of envelope so we can look at it online and see if want it shredded, sent or opened and scanned) received a letter from the IRS and I’ll be honest, I was a little worried.  Last year was the first year I ever filed a Schedule C, and although I had a good accountant helping, you never know if a mistake was made.  Thankfully we had the mail scanned and it said the IRS was paying us $47 in interest on last year’s tax return.  It took forever for us to get the check because our account was flagged because of the move to Florida and we had to go through a pretty complicated process to prove we were real people and not fraud perpetrators.  Seriously complicated.  The questions they wanted answers to on the online version I couldn’t even answer so eventually I just called them on the phone and it took almost 45 minutes to verify who I was. Apparently there have been some fraudulent returns in the Florida area and our move and refund flagged us.  Anyway, I’ll take the $47 but I am surprised by the amount. The refund check wasn’t that much money, and the payment wasn’t that late, but maybe they assessed themselves a late payment   I was just glad no mistake was made.  I felt extremely confident in the deductions we took because we were VERY conservative, but no one likes to get a letter from the IRS.  This year I have no idea how it is all going to turn out.  I had a little income carry over from my old job, we had two jobs with taxes taken out, and one job where taxes were not and some business income.  Putting all that together is probably going to be a little complicated.

I also have been meaning to mention that Lee is sleeping very well.  When I traveled for work he never slept that great without me there, but he is sleeping very soundly.  I am sure subconsciously he knows I am safe and in the rig, so it’s OK for him to sleep, and he does seem to appreciate not being woken up by me throughout the night. I always was a light sleeper and the difficulty getting my temperature regulated has only made that worse.  It’s a small room, so as hard as I try to get up quietly I was disturbing his sleep.  If nothing else he’s sleeping well and between that and the project he is working on he’s been in a very good mood. (Fear not. I’m sure my good mood is only temporary, and in no time at all I will be back to my lovable cranky self. – Lee) 

Finally, here are last week’s numbers. As you can see, the pattern shifted over the weekend and now we are getting 1-3 trucks every hour, even through the night.  Part of that is large trucks bringing drilling fluid.  That seems to happen 1-2 times an hour at night now and the other part is they are still using the very noisy water pump which breaks down every night and they are in and out a few times trying to get it up and running.  Hopefully that traffic will stop as soon as the well is done, but in the meantime the in and out is a little tough at night.


Even though the number of trucks per hour went down (it was actually quite slow on Sunday) the hour rate (which I am basing on hours worked) has gone down as well. I’m really not a fan of making less than minimum wage, even when I was a salaried restaurant manager I wasn’t OK with it.  When we had down time I really was OK with the adjusted hours, but now that the trucks are coming round the clock I have to call it what it is.  Even though the work is very easy, there is a reason for a minimum wage, and personally I don’t think being an independent contractor should change that.  Actually you really should be paid more, because in that scenario you are responsible for the employer’s piece of the taxes.  Your mileage may vary on that one, but that’s the way I feel about it.  It’s not a deal breaker for me, because really we both like the job, but intellectually it bothers me. (At some point in the future we’re going to have to have a longer discussion here about full timing and income, but today is not the day. I’m not procrastinating, I’m just gathering data. – Lee) 

Practically speaking,  the biggest consequence of trucks throughout the night is no opportunity for naps anymore.  It really is better that I stay awake, but I did like having the option to nap a bit between trucks. This is off the table though now, because generally the 2-3 trucks I get an hour are spaced pretty evenly so I might have 20-30 minutes between them. It’s not awful or anything, but I did like the long stretches of quiet between trucks at night and the fact that most of these trucks are the bigger ones is a little jarring when I go out there to open the gate.  I really need to pay attention, because its a narrowish space for those big guys and I make sure I stand well back from them.  The weather did warm back up though and stayed in the 50’s which was a good thing.  40’s and below is chilly especially when you are opening and shutting a metal gate.  The 50’s I can definitely handle.

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4 thoughts on “First Time Gate Guarding – Day 20 – 21

  1. Me too. I must admit I keep a spreadsheet on our data usage daily, but not per device. If I need to know that, I just go out to the Verizon website. I also keep a very close watch on every penny spent using my Quicken software.

    For my travels, I use a spreadsheet and pay for most everything with a credit card. That way I know how much my southwest journey costs. Since Dolly, my wife, is staying home this winter, I can keep our usual expenses separated from my travel expenses. Kind of fun keeping stats.

  2. Love Top Chef! We have best luck at Starbucks and libraries so I can only catch up at those locations using wifi. We’ve been bouncing around Texas for a couple weeks, currently in Austin area, I’m enjoying getting current on TC and LCK. Pretty soon we’ll be at remote locations so I’m enjoying the luxury while I have it.

    Always enjoy the honesty in your blogs. Thanks!

  3. I liked Seveneves, it did get pretty technical on some things like orbital mechanics and the like, but over all it was a good read. Some good premises, and some not so good. I liked the first 2/3 of the book better than the last 1/3.

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