Friday, February 11, 2022

For those that don't know pumpjacks

My Alberta readers have all probably seen a pumpjack. They know they don't look quite like this in real life.

Then again, the camera looked at it for 20 seconds. Normally in real life the counter weight wheel goes around and around, and the head goes up and down, each slow stroke bringing oil to the surface. Used to be it was rare to see one not moving. Now it's somewhat of a surprise to see one in operation. The brutal price of oil over the last several years has forced operators to shut in many wells. When one well costs more to pump a barrel than the price you get, it's no big deal. It probably costs more to identify that well and go through the process to shut it in, than to take the loss. But when it's many wells, and every dollar counts, it's easy to shut them in. Some will never be restarted.

Sean and I were in the mood to go for a drive ramble, looking for a good sunrise spot. As a bonus, we found a pump jack there, and a great view of the mountains, plus great light! What more could you ask for?

A couple sunrise shots. The first is so-so, facing south. The second is better, facing east.

One of the goals of sunrise photographers is to get nice pink light on the mountains. Almost. So close. Missed it by THAT much. I was busy trying another long exposure shot of the pumpjack when the mountains were lit up nicely, and it was gone by the time the long exposure ended.

Shortly after this the nice sunrise light was over. We carried on with the other plan for the drive; to explore the roads south of the Sheep River. (More photos coming, stay tuned.) Things are not as they sometimes appear. The map apps tell lies. It showed us the road dead-ended when it didn't. Things that appear as roads are sometimes driveways, which might or might not have gates. They might be oilfield service roads or logging roads. It's generally a bad idea to drive off the provincial roads unless you're sure of your welcome. It's no surprise to find property owners who take their privacy seriously.

Along with it's many other delusions, the Alberta government is under the impression that COVID is over. They've repealed the Restrictions Exemptions Program essentially without any warning. This was where people were sometimes required to show proof of vaccination or a medical exemption. Getting it, and showing it was a complete nothing burger. Masking requirements for kids are gone on Monday, and the masking requirement for everybody will be lifted March 1.

Oh sure, they say, it's dependent on hospitalizations coming down. Which they haven't. They haven't released any of the data that they say supports their decision. It's all politically driven by Kenney trying to save his job. Even the people that have been pushing us to open our facility are taken aback by the speed of the restrictions being lifted. This has happened before. "Best summer ever!"

A joke for you. When is the dance with the 800 pound gorilla over? When it decides it's over. I'm looking for an update to Wednesday's COVID hospitalization numbers, but don't see it. The current numbers are 1600, plus or minus a little, with no sign of consistent decline. Any decline in the numbers is mostly made up of the people who have died. 

I don't think COVID is done with us, and will not be surprised in a week or so if the hospitalization numbers are on their way up again. In one sense I love to see Kenney eating crow because there's nobody it looks better on. But. Holy doodle but. There's already too many people in the hospital with COVID, and far too many people have died from it. I don't want to see any more. Everybody in the medical system, every doctor, nurse, technician, cleaning staff, everybody, needs a long vacation. 

Over the past couple months swimming I've got to know who the regulars are. There's a smile and nod, or a wave, maybe even a bit of a chat between sets if the timing is right. Most of us know what speed we swim at and we seed ourselves accordingly. One new guy that could barely swim was thrashing along in the fast lane when I showed up. He said good morning, and asked if I could keep up with the other guy swimming in that lane. He had the sense to find another lane when I told him I'd be passing him every fourth lap or so.

There were several new faces there today, and I'm a bit uneasy about it. I'm guessing these are people who have not been coming because they couldn't show proof of vaccination. I'm going to be keeping my distance from them. Assuming the mask requirement goes away, I'll probably not wear a mask between the front door and the pool deck, but when I'm grocery shopping I'll probably still wear one. 

Of the Day
After taking the photo I wandered around this trying to figure it out. I think it's the remains of a sculpture of some kind.



During our drive we happened to go through Longview. I'd known there was a shop that specialized in film supplies. It's closed for the season, but the owner saw us getting out of the truck to read the sign. He poked his head out the door to say hello, and then let us in. We browsed. I didn't buy anything, but there was a bigger selection of film camera gear than I thought. There was a baby Graflex, and I admit to being tempted. Lots more research needed.


  1. Hey we need you to be a guest at Repsol to surprise Oksana!!! I feel most people there are 2-3x vaxed and very intelligent with this whole situation.

    Great pics!!!

  2. I remember the pumpjack all dolled up as a cowboy at the Calgary Airport...miss seeing that!


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