Monday, April 22, 2013

Another Small Contractor "Moves" To The Bakken, From Minnesota

The Dickinson Press is reporting:
Godlewski, senior project manager for Shingobee Builders, decided about three years ago to take a trip to check out North Dakota’s Oil Patch.
The company embraced the idea of bidding some work in northwest North Dakota, and the contractor has been active in the Bakken ever since.
Godlewski has an apartment in Williston and travels from his home of St Michael, Minn., every two weeks to oversee construction projects.
“After three years, I still get excited about coming out here,” Godlewski said.
Shingobee Builders, based in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud, Minn., is a medium-sized general contractor that operates in a five-state region. The firm has 18 superintendents in charge of building projects and last year seven of them were based in North Dakota, Godlewski said.
A Note To the Granddaughters

After only a couple days in Boston, I will be heading home this week. I'm not sure what it was, but possibly the events surrounding the Boston Marathon bombings had a bigger effect on me than I realized. I bought a couple of books at Harvard Bookstore, and almost lost my (emotional) composure while talking to the cashier. The photos of that little (8 years old?) boy smiling at the finish line, and that loser setting down the backpack right next to him probably finally got to me. And then the story of the newlywed couple from Cambridge, now both amputees, which I read about for the first time yesterday, though I guess it was posted earlier in the week, before they killed/captured the losers.

I rode home, about a 10-mile round trip.  I had dinner, but about 9:30 pm I was feeling a bit antsy. So, I got on the bike at about 9:45 pm, but for archival purposes, I will say 10:00.

My headlight is designed for others to see me, not to help me see the road. I never take a map, and because I had no plans to stop or ride very far, I did not take my backpack with the iPad and the MacBook Pro. Not taking the iPad was a big mistake. No map.

I started riding, in a generally southern direction from the granddaughters' house in Belmont, in a western suburb of Boston. I ended up on a rural two-lane highway, with no shoulders, and no highway markings. I knew I was probably south of Belmont, but did not know for sure; I had no idea where I was, but I assumed I would eventually find a village, or a cross road, or some landmark to help me out. When I started smelling cow manure I knew I wasn't in Kansas any more, Toto. Or maybe I was. A few more miles, I think around 11:00 or so, I came into a village, Medfield. I turned left on East 109, assuming (correctly) that I was headed east toward Boston.

That was a long stretch. Going through construction of a new figure-8 interchange to the I-95 at 1:00 a.m. (or whatever time it was) was a bit sporty. You know those huge barriers that line the driving lane during construction? Yeah, they're pretty intimidating. With no traffic, they are very challenging for a biker, and with a car passing, wow. Sporty. I wasn't sure if there was any space for a pedestrian next to the barrier if a car passed, much less if there was space for a cyclist. But, if the car driver is really, really careful, and concerned, there is just enough space. Just.

Anyway, I got to "Center Street" at a "T" intersection. Without a map, there are not many things worse than a "T" intersection. I initially went left and rode about a mile before the route didn't look "right." So I turned around and checked a bus map, but it was of no use because there was no "You Are Here" dot, and the map really didn't portray what I "felt." So, I kept going in the opposite direction. This time I probably rode about three miles, and found myself in West Roxbury. I remembered from the map that West Roxbury was the opposite direction from where I wanted to be, so I turned around and went into an all-night convenience store. There was a woman ahead of me in line. I asked, over her, to the clerk how to get to Boston, whether I go "left" on the road in front of his store, or "right." English was not his first language, probably not even his second, but he was able to ask, "Which part of Boston?" Okay, this morning I see that the road I was on and runs in front of his story is a north - south road. If you go "left" (north, you head into Boston). If you go "right" (south, you head toward Connecticut, Rhode Island, or Cape Cod. [The clerk at the convenience story also knew enough English to tell me his bathroom was broken. Which I doubt.]

Fortunately, the woman/customer simply said, "go that way" (pointing left) and "you will end up right in Boston."

It was a nice road, and I finally saw the skyline of Boston. According to bank signs, the temperature had dropped from 44 degrees to 41 degrees, but no wind, and actually quite comfortable.

My destination was Cambridge at this point. I knew how to get home once I got to Cambridge.

The problem was: I had no idea how to get to Cambridge from where I was in south Boston. But with the ocean on my right, I knew I eventually had to get to the Charles River. Crossing the Charles River, one was going to be in Cambridge.

I was on a beautiful thoroughfare, which I later learned was The Riverway. There was a "river" on my left, which turned out to be a small tributary running into the south side of the Charles River. I assume it has a name, but google maps only refers to the area as "Back Bay Fens." I went up Brookline and past Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where headlines tell us this morning "terrorist #2" remains in serious condition. They should call him "Chechen-born-again-Islamist-loser." Had he been a Timothy McVeigh he would have been referred to as "a Christian-right-wing-nut." Home-grown or not, he was a) a loser; and, b) an Islamist. Had these two losers disguised themselves as Islamic women in full abaya-niqab they never would have been identified.

I passed Fenway park. The area was filled with early morning revelers. In fact, my entire route through Boston was filled with revelers. For the first time that I can recall I saw the phenomenon "hailing a Boston taxi at 2:00 a.m." or whatever time it was. It's quite interesting.  Chivalry appears not to exist. Many a short-skirted, scantily clad woman, on a cold night was left standing/stranded after a young male ran out ahead of her and grabbed the next taxi coming down the road. It was somewhat disconcerting. But I digress.

I did not recognize any landmarks, until I passed Boston Commons. From there, by car, I know how to get back to the granddaughters' home in Belmont, but on bike it's a completely different story due to freeways and "cars only" roads through Boston. I almost ended up on the bridge that takes one toward New Hampshire, the route along the coast.

I came back and tried again. This time I found a bridge across the Charles River, but offhand, I cannot recall the bridge, the name of the bridge, or how I even found it. This is the only part of the journey that is still a "dark hole." Perhaps it was the much-talked-about-never-seen-universal-worm-hole."

Interestingly, coming out the other side of this "worm-hole," I ended up, appropriately enough, near the MIT campus. Of course, I did not recognize it as the MIT campus. Oh, it comes back to me now. Coming out of the "worm-hole" the first landmark I recognized was the science museum on my left, which meant the ocean was still on my right, and I needed to turn left at the next available intersection. I did, entering a four-lane divided street. I traveled about a mile in oncoming traffic, which amounted to two cars during the whole stretch.

Shortly after crossing over to the correct side of the street, I saw the huge map of MIT campus. Finally.

The rest was easy. I rode down Memorial Drive, the same route the Boston Marathon bombers took and where the shootout occurred, killing one and seriously injuring the other. Part of the Drive is still blocked off as a "crime scene" with two black-and-whites blocking both ends. So, a small detour for cars, but it did not affect bicyclists.

But pretty much, a straight shot from Memorial Drive to my destination. I got home about 4:14 a.m.

The bike held up remarkably. I was mostly concerned about the batteries dying on the fore and aft lights, but they were still flashing when I got home. Note to self: attach small bag on bike with fresh batteries, and a set of lights. Maybe throw in a map. Better yet: stick to my cardinal rule -- don't leave home without my backpack which, among other things like my now-expired passport -- has an iPad (think google maps).

A Second Note to the Granddaughters

There were four books at the Harvard Bookstore I wanted to buy yesterday but I only had room in my backpack for two. The four I was choosing among:
  • The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America, by David Stockman, 2013.
  • The Alchemists: Three Central Banks and a World On Fire, by Neil Irwin, 2013.
  • The Hub's Metropolis: From Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth, by James C. O'Connell, MIT, 2013.
  • Turing's Cathedral, by George Dyson, the son of the famous physicist. Soft cover, c. 2012. The subtitle of the book is "The Origins of the Digital Universe." The blurb from The Boston Globe on the cover; "The best book I've read on the origins of the computer...not only learned, but brilliantly and surprisingly idiosyncratic and strange." This was the only soft cover of the four.
After a long time deciding, I finally decided on the bottom two. Not only did they appeal to me the most (in the final analysis), they were also the smallest.

I may buy The Alchemists at a later date. I will not read The Great Deformation for three reasons: a) Stockman is preaching to the choir; b) his fifteen or so recommendations to get us back on track are never, ever going to happen; and, c) too political. A better finishing chapter or epilogue would have been to express what the likely outcome is to be over the next 20 years (through 2030) and how folks should best prepare. I don't know if David Stockman holds out hope for the nation, but if the nation's survival depends on his recommendations, we are doomed. His recommendations cross the reality/non-reality line.

Turing's Cathedral, by George Dyson

While old men in Congresses and parliaments would debate the allocation of a few thousand dollars, farsighted generals and admirals would not hesitate to divert substantial sums to help oddballs in Princeton, Cambridge, and Los Alamos," observed Nicholas Metropolis, reviewing the development of computers after WWII. -- Acknowledgments, p. xvi. 

Update: shortly after posting the above, Don sent me the following story and video. I have not watched the video yet, but didn't want to lose the link, so here it is:

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