Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dickinson Refinery Begins Operations; Video Of The Bakken -- May 3, 2015; Chevy Cuts Prices On Volt

Refinery up. Press release:
MDU Resources Group, Inc. and Calumet Specialty Products Partners, L.P. today announced that the Dickinson, North Dakota-based Dakota Prairie refinery, the first greenfield fuels refinery built in the U.S. in nearly 40 years, has commenced operations. The facility has begun producing diesel fuel and is expected to begin sales of diesel as the plant ramps up during May.
The refinery is designed to process 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) of locally sourced Bakken crude oil, resulting in a production slate that includes up to 7,000 bpd of diesel fuel that will be sold from the plant to regional, North Dakota-based customers.
Wasn't it just last week when MDU announced that they were hoping to have the plant opened up in the next couple of months or so ... it's amazing how fast things happen when earnings will be announced. MDU announces earnings after market close tonight. It will be interesting to see how much diesel will be produced this week -- now that the refinery is up and running. 

Volt Down

Chevrolet cuts price on new Volt. USA Today is reporting:
The Chevrolet Volt is getting more electric-only miles, sleeker styling and a whole suite of improvements -- yet Chevrolet is cutting the price of its extended-range electric car by $1,175.
The price cut speaks to the difficult time that automakers are having when it come to selling fuel-conserving cars in a low gas-price environment. And it's not the first time that Volt got a price cut. The original Volt, not this all-new model, had its price reduced by $5,000 in August, 2013.
The new Volt is capable of being driven 50 miles on electricity alone, some 31% better than the outgoing Volt. It also has a backup gas engine.  
I assume the tax credits are good only for the original buyer, but I don't know.


The Tesla home battery. Seeking Alpha is reporting:
It's pretty clear that without "going crazy", your house can easily draw 3kw of electricity; and yet, Tesla's 10kWh back-up battery has continuous output of only 2kw, and thus is inadequate to run even a medium-sized house, and would be completely dead in five hours anyway, with no capacity to run central air conditioning or charge an electric car.
(For a medium-sized house, a central air conditioner alone draws nearly 5kw.)
 ... a comparably priced 16kw natural gas-fired generator can run your entire house (including the air-conditioning) for as many hours as needed, at a cost of less than $2/hour (assuming 195 cubic feet/hour consumption at full draw and a New York State gas price of less than $10 per 1000 cubic feet of gas)?
By the way, another dot is connected. Why did this battery pack show up now?
... to find some use for millions of Panasonic cells that it has committed to buy without being able to sell enough cars to utilize them ...
I don't know that much about Tesla batteries but this rings true. Regardless, the Tesla battery pack runs about $3,500 and SolarCity has an installation package that doubles the price.

Memo to self: Dana Perino has a new book out.

Short Video Of Highway Construction

This short video probably should be deleted and not posted, but it may be one of the few recordings of my 93-year-old dad talking about how these construction workers worked right through the winter this past year, whereas when he was growing up, construction workers often quit for the winter. The video is a few miles south of Williston, if I remember correctly.

Cross-Country Trip

I try to get in two cross-country trips each year, generally one to California and back, and one or two to North Dakota and back.

I enjoy them all. Sometimes I'm by myself, sometimes I'm with my wife, and rarely (once) we go with the granddaughters. The trip with the granddaughters is always the most fun.

For whatever reason, this most recent trip back to Williston was one of the best I've had, possibly because a) I drove through Nebraska during the night, both directions; and, b) the weather was incredible, and the scenery spectacular, especially in Kansas.

Thinking about this, I wrote the following down why this particular trip seemed particularly nice -- all because I was driving by myself:
  • I could play the music I liked as loud as I liked
  • I could listen to all three hours of Rush Limbaugh (when I remembered, and when I found "his" station)
  • I could stop at McDonald's without anyone saying, "McDonald's? Not again!"
  • I could stop when and where I wanted; even if the rest stop looked "creepy," I could stop there
  • as soon as the car came to a stop, I was out the door, out of the car
  • I could read a book while driving
  • I could sleep at rest stops and not motels, and not feel guilty
  • I could write this list while driving

Random Look At Whiting's Non-Core Asset Sale -- May 3, 2015

From the "Snapshot" page:
  • 1Q15 earnings transcript774,000 net acres; sold non-core Bakken assets for $108 million;
  • 4Q14: KOG deal with Whiting closes. Whiting owns KOG. KOG ticker symbol no longer for Kodiak Oil and Gas. 685,000 + 183,000  = 838,000 acres (MT and ND)
Some back-of-the-envelope calculations: I know that Whiting had a non-core asset package that was all Bakken; how much more they had elsewhere, I don't know, but my hunch is, based on the rest of the transcript, most of that non-core asset package was in North Dakota. If so, 838,000 acres minus 774,000 acres = 64,000 acres.

$108 million / 64,000 acres = $1,700 / acre. Possible? Maybe. I don't know. Just thinking out loud.  This is a WAG as they say; don't make any financial or investment decisions based on this, or on anything you may have read at the blog, or think you may have read at the blog. If this is important to you, go to the source, and the source certainly is not the Million Dollar Way.

Whiting Transcript, 1Q15, Has Been Posted -- May 3, 2015; Whiting Has The Very Best Well In The Bakken To Date

Whiting transcript for 1Q15 has been posted over at Seeking Alpha. It most likely will be archived at the source, by the source.

This may be the most important transcript since the first couple of years of the Bakken boom. The CLR transcript, which will come soon, will be very interesting, but I think the Whiting, Oasis, and SM Energy transcripts will be the most important transcripts for 1Q15. 

Some readers will argue that Denbury should be added to that list. That's fine. There's room for five on the list. (Yes, that means there is room for one more, unannounced as of yet).

From the transcript:
Our objective this year is to rig and run the company to prosper at $50 oil. Clearly, the first quarter shows we have some of the most productive oil assets in the industry. With the reduction in well costs we're currently experiencing, by the fourth quarter, we should be able to maintain a strong production profile of approximately 160,000 BOEs to 162,000 BOEs a day on a quarterly spend of only $375 million. For 2016, as our base decline rate flattens, we believe this translates into a strong mid-single-digit growth profile on a $1.5 billion CapEx budget. This should approximate our cash flow at current strip prices.

Our total net production reached a record 167,000 BOEs a day, a 3% increase quarter-over-quarter. As you can see on slide four, 91% of our total production in the first quarter came from our Rocky Mountain region. At 133,500 BOEs a day, the Bakken Three Forks represents 80% of our total production. We are a focused company.

As recently reported in several publications, Whiting has the top two wells in the Williston Basin in terms of initial production rates. These wells are located at our Tarpon field in McKenzie County, North Dakota. The Flatland Federal 11-4TFH well produced at an initial rate of 7,800 boepd during a 24-hour test of the Three Forks formation, making this the very best well in the basin. The Flatland Federal 11-4HR well produced at an initial rate of 7,100 boepd during a 24-hour test of the Middle Bakken formation.

With our plays in the Williston Basin we control 774,000 net acres. We have over 7,500 future gross drilling locations in the Bakken and Three Forks. We control the sweet spots in the Central, Eastern and Southern Williston Basin where typical wells have cumulative production in the first 90 days of more than 50,000 boe.
Go to the linked transcript for much more information.

First Solar Loss Wider Than Expected

Zachs is reporting:
First Solar Inc. FSLR reported adjusted first-quarter 2015 loss of 62 cents a share, much wider than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 29 cents. In the prior-year quarter, FirstSolar had generated earnings of $1.89 per share. The downslide is attributed to a plunge in revenues.
The largest solar-panel manufacturer of the nation reported its first quarterly loss in years as it planned to form a YieldCo with fellow solar company, SunPower Corp. SPWR. Moreover, delays in multiple projects under construction, a higher proportion of modules and the sale of the SolarGen 2 project in the prior quarter led to disappointing results.
Lots of excuses.

Guinness Book Of World Records? Children From 20 Foreign Countries And ALL 50 US States Have Enrolled At The Watford City Elementary School -- May 3, 2015


Later, 9:19 p.m. CT: to add to the story below, the new link --
Children from 20 foreign countries and all 50 states have enrolled in Watford City's Elementary School in the past three years.
It would be interesting to know if any other elementary school in the US can beat that. I know in NYC there are a lot of folks from foreign countries, but I doubt if workers from all 50 states have moved to NYC for work.

Later, 9:10 p.m. CT: to add to the story below, two points:
  • apparently Watford City has the second largest elementary school in the state; and,
  • Watford City will go to Class A high school competition in 2017-2018 school year, right up there with Dickinson and Williston and Minot and ...
Original Post

Don tells me there was an interesting story on this evening's new in the Dickinson area, a story of the "schools without borders" in the Watford City area. That story is now on the net at this link.

Here is a fairly recent article that tells the story in Watford City with regard to schools. As the slump in oil prices continue, I assume oil companies will continue to circle the wagons, keeping Williston and Watford City relatively busy while other western North Dakota cities take the brunt of the slowdown.

One of the metrics that will be interesting to follow will be public school enrollment in western North Dakota in the fall of 2016, not this coming school year, but the school year that begins in the autumn of 2016.

Now, back to that story. The AP is reporting:
WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) — Every morning as principal Brad Foss arrives at his school — after just a 60-second commute — he's reminded of oil's giant footprint in this town.
There's the revolving-door student roster that reads like random pages of a school atlas: Jiang from China, Emma from Utah, Jose from Guatemala, Omar from Arizona.
There are the teachers, many of them transplants, including a dedicated Kurdish refugee who's helping dozens of students learn English, a job that would never have existed until now. And there are rows of white trailers, temporary homes for several teachers — and for Foss, who's just a minute's walk from his office.
Like the rest of this town, Watford Elementary School has been transformed by the oil boom. Families with young kids are constantly moving in, undeterred by the recent plunge in oil prices. The 700-plus enrollment is more than double that of 2011.
Many newcomers are the offspring of riggers, welders, truck drivers, engineers and others lured from across America — and around the world — by the prospect of good jobs.
Their arrival has brought diversity to a school that until recently had virtually none. "We have a world community within our own little school," boasts Foss. "The kids here can bring the globe to life, and that's kind of cool." 
Much more at the link.

Highway 85, Going South Toward Alexander
South Of The Lewis and Clark Bridge

Video taken April 28, 2015
I do not know what that large enclosed, circular structure is being used for that we passed at 44 seconds into the video.  

Tweeting Now 
For The Archives

  • black mayor
  • black police commissioner
  • black deputy police commissioner
  • half of police department is black
  • black city council president
  • 10 out of 15 city council members are black
  • 63% of the city is black
  • 87% of the city voted for Barack Obama
  • hasn't had a Republican mayor since 1967
Tell us again how Baltimore is a "white Republican" problem. 

Fracking All Over -- May 3, 2015

4.0 earthquake near San Franciso suburb this afternoon.

3.9 earthquake in Los Angeles this morning.

3.1 earthquake in Irving, Texas this morning.

No reports of earthquakes in North Dakota so far today; about 1,000 wells are waiting to be fracked.

The Greek default story has been grossly overblown; now that we've passed several "drop dead" milestones, the truth finally emerges. Greece doesn't matter.

Think how much money Warren Buffett would have made HAD he guessed right on interest rates. I'm somewhat disappointed in his most recent mistake. Earlier he admitted to a huge mistake in investing in COP. Pretty soon we will hear he is selling his stake in DQ and Coca-Cola.

From The Bakken

Driving south from the four-mile corner west of Williston to the Lewis and Clark bridge southwest of Williston.

Video taken April 28, 2015
The California Drought
The Salton Sea

I started the MillionDollarWay to help me understand the Bakken. I had a feeling back in 2007 it was going to be a big story and wanted to  understand it. Along the way, I've learned about a number of other things which has made the blog for me, at least, that much more rewarding.
I do not understand the drought in California. 

In this week's issue of The New Yorker there is an article on the Salton Sea, a "sea" that sits between the rich agricultural Imperial Valley and San Diego. The article started out well, but then devolved into too much fluff discussing the health of one poor Latino family making their living off the Salton Sea. It piqued my interest in the California drought, and the water issues in southern California (Palm Springs to the north, the Mexican border to the south, and the Salton Sea in the middle. But the article did not do much to really explain the situation.

Two data points to help me understand this. First, Imperial Valley:
The Valley is bordered by the Colorado River to the east and, in part, the Salton Sea to the west. Farther west lies the San Diego and Imperial County border. To the north is the Inland Empire's Coachella Valley, which together form the Salton Trough, or the Cahuilla Basin, also the county line of Imperial and Riverside counties, and to the south the international boundary with the U.S. state of California and Baja California.
Now, the Salton Sea:
The Salton Basin has over the ages been alternately a freshwater lake, an increasingly saline lake, and a dry desert basin, depending on river flows and the balance between inflow and evaporative loss. A lake exists only during times it was replenished by the rivers and rainfall, a cycle that repeated itself many times over hundreds of thousands of years, perhaps cycling every 400 to 500 years.
The modern sea was accidentally created by the engineers of the California Development Company in 1905. In an effort to increase water flow into the area for farming, irrigation canals were dug from the Colorado River into the valley. Due to fears of silt buildup, a cut was made in the bank of the Colorado River to further increase the water flow. The resulting outflow overwhelmed the engineered canal, and the river flowed into the Salton Basin for two years, filling the historic dry lake bed and creating the modern sea, before repairs were completed.
While it varies in dimensions and area with fluctuations in agricultural runoff and rainfall, the Salton Sea averages 15 miles by 35 miles. With an estimated surface area of 350 square miles, the Salton Sea is the largest lake in California.
The average annual inflow is less than 1,200,000 acre feet, which is enough to maintain a maximum depth of 44 feet and a total volume of about 6,000,000 acre feet.
However, due to changes in water apportionments agreed upon for the Colorado River under the Quantification Settlement Agreement of 2003, the overall water level of the Sea is expected to decrease significantly between 2013 and 2021.
But, a reminder: only due to human error, today's Salton Sea is a "sea." If the engineers had not created a false lake at the turn of the century, would this be a problem today? I don't know. I'm only starting to begin my quest to understand the water rights issue affecting Imperial Valley, the Salton Sea, and San Diego. 

Update On Honey Bee Colony Collapse -- A North Dakota Story -- May 3, 2015


July 27, 2015: From Carpe Diem: US honeybee-colony numbers are now at a 20-year high and US honey producton is at a 10-year high with a 19% increase in production last year. 

July 27, 2015: honey update from USDA, March 20, 2015, data points:
  • 2014: US honey production up almost 20% over 2013
  • 2014: total colonies up 4 percent over 2013
  • 2014: honey prices set a record high in 2014, up 1% from 2013
North Dakota led the nation in number of producing colonies: 480
  • California: 330
  • South Dakota: 265
  • Florida: 220 
  • Montana: 159
North Dakota trounces all other states in honey production: 33 million lbs
  • Montana: 15 million lbs
  • Florida: 13 million lbs
  • California: 11 million lbs
  • Minnesota: 8 million lbs
  • Texas: 6 million lbs
This explains the "Montana" phenomenon: Colonies which produced honey in more than one State were counted in each State where the honey was produced. Therefore, at the United States level yield per colony may be understated, but total production would not be impacted.

July 25, 2015: wind farms may be responsible for loss of bees
Since vast areas are within affective range of low frequency sound levels emitted by wind turbines, it becomes clear that there is a connection between low frequency sound produced by wind turbines and the disappearance of honeybees. The areas with the most disappearances of honeybees directly correspond with that of operating wind farms.
California is second, behind North Dakota for honeybee losses and first in wind farm operations, within range of areas where honeybee colonies are located. As of 2007, most North Dakota wind farms were concentrated within a small area in the southeastern portion of the state. Since then, wind farms have spread to many other sections of the state, and the resulting losses of honeybees will most likely increase as well.
Original Post
Unfortunately I have not been able to find the link on the internet of a great article in this month's (May's) issue of The National Geographic.

It's by Charles C. Mann, "The Quest for a Superbee."

On page 94 of that issue, there is a great graphic of "bees on the move." North Dakota leads the country -- by a wide margin -- in pollinated acres:
  • North Dakota: 2.3 million acres
  • California: 1.7 million acres
  • Florida: 617,000 acres
Ranked by density, the distinction and the margin is even greater. North Dakota is "alone" in its own division, at the top of the list, at 33 acres of pollinated crops per square mile.

In the second division (6 to 11 acres per square mile) (note the drop from 33 acres / square mile in the top division):
  • California (almonds)
  • Florida (grapefruit)
  • South Dakota (sunflowers)
In the third divisions, hardly worth mentioning, at 1 to 5 acres per square mile, include:
  • Kansas (sunflowers)
  • Oklahoma (canola)
  • Michigan (apples)
  • Washington state (apples)
  • New York "ban fracking" State (apples)
  • Maine (blueberries)
  • Massachusetts (cranberries)
  • Delaware (melons)
  • New Jersey (melons)
Several states show a loss of bee colonies of more than 50%, including: Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Vermont. 

The article starts with history of the current superstar, the Buckfast bee, a superbee. A monk, Brother Adam, was a 16-year-old novice at the Buckfast Abbey in southwest England, in 1915, just after perhaps the worst catastrophe of bee die-off in history. He devoted his life to developing the superbee, the Buckfast bee, which by the 1980s were sold across the world.

Brother Adam, between 1950 and 1980, had collected honey bee queens from around the world, to include: "the hardworking bees of Turkey, the hyper-diverse bees of Crete, the isolated bees of Sahara oases, the deep black bees of Morocco, the tiny orange bees of the Nile, the supposedly placed beeds of Mount Kilimanjaro. He took his exotic menagerie to a remote station in the moors, miles from other bees with their unwanted genes ... and created the Buckfast bee -- a superbee, as it was quickly dubbed. Tan-colored and robust, it was reluctant to sting, zealously productive, and resistant to what come to be called Isle of Wight disease (a virus)."

For his efforts, Brother Adam "was removed from his post. Buckfast's abbot, convinced that Brother Adam's growing fame conflicted with his vocation, removed him from his post. Brother Adam died, heartbroken, in 1996."

That Buckfast abbot sounds like he should join ISIS. He would fit right in.

It's a great article. NoDaks might want to buy this month's NatGeo just for this article.

By the way, even better news. The current great bee die-off was not blamed on global warming. Although researchers try to pin the current colony collapse with much human activity (such as habitat loss and chemicals), the fact remains, it is likely mostly due to the "varroa mite," Varroa destructor.


By the way, just the other day I posted a story on a new plant that farmers will begin planting in North Dakota, one that honeybees love. This story just keeps getting better and better.


Another story related to the honeybee story, from The Dickinson Press:

Giants Snacks--a family-owned company born from the idea that, when it comes to sunflower seeds, bigger is better--is now two decades old and still growing.
That growth is fueled by the company's willingness to try new things, like when it rolled out its kettle-roasted line of roasted, in-the-shell sunflower seeds a few years back.
When it became clear no one was going to market the larger seeds, Schuler said they decided to put them in a bag and call them Giants.
It took time, but the brand gained a following. By 2004, Giants was the official sunflower seed supplier to the Minnesota Twins, a triumph credited to Jason Schuler, Jay Schuler's son and vice president of sales at Giants.

Today, Giants also has an official partnership with the Colorado Rockies, and Giants seeds are consumed in the dugouts of many major league ballparks.

16/20 Bakken Wells Go To DRL / NC Status -- May 3, 2015

This is so cool. Back on April 23, 2015, I posted a graphic suggesting where two new big pads were going in. They are now shown on the NDIC web site map. Look how busy this area is:

Camp oil field is tracked here.


Wells coming off the confidential list over the weekend, Monday

Monday, May 4, 2015
  • 29166, drl, Hess, SC-Gene-154-98-0805H-2, Truax, no production data,
  • 29340, 2,447, Whiting, Koala 13-31-30-4H, Poe, nt3/15; cum 31K 3/15;
  • 29487, drl, Statoil, Bures 20-29 3H, Alger, no production data,
  • 29648, drl, SM Energy, Beverly 2-16HN, West Ambrose, no production data,
  • 29755, drl, SHD, Avalanche 36-14-MB2, Clarks Creek, no production data,
  • 29808, drl, Hess, SC-Norma-154-98-0706H-7, Pershing, no production data,

Sunday, May 3, 2015
  • 23026, drl, Hunt, Weflen 2-27H, Parshall, no production data,
  • 28784, conf, BR, Hammerhead 41-26TFH, Sand Creek, no production data,
  • 28791, drl, Abraxas, Jore Federal 2-11-8H, North Fork, no production data,
  • 28984, SI/NC, WPX, Mandaree 24-13HY, Spotted Horn, no production data,
  • 29255, drl, Zavanna, Sigurd 32-29 8TFH, Stockyard Creek, no production data,
  • 29341, 2,264, Whiting, Koala 13-31-30-4H3, Poe, t3/15; cum 17K 3/15;
  • 29647, SI/NC, SM Energy, Fay 2-16HS, West Ambrose, no production data,
  • 29754, drl, SHD, Avalanche 36-15-TF1, Clarks Creek, no production data,
Saturday, May 2, 2015
  • 24566, SI/NC, Sinclair, Diamond 11-12-1H, Lone Butte, no production data,
  • 28012, 865, EOG, Parshall 80-21H, Parshall, t11/4; cum 97K 3/15;
  • 28983, SI/NC, WPX, Mandaree 24-13HD, Spotted Horn, no production data,
  • 29437, drl, XTO, Sorenson 14X-33A, Siverston, no production data,
  • 29472, 2,002, Slawson, Pike Federal 1 SLH, Big Bend, t2/15; cum 26K 3/15;
  • 29590, SI/NC, EOG, Fertile 57-0333H, Parshall, no production data,

28012, see above, EOG, Parshall 80-21H, Parshall:

DateOil RunsMCF Sold

 29472, see below, Slawson, Pike Federal 1 SLH, Big Bend:

DateOil RunsMCF Sold

Southwest Of Williston
Heading North To 4-Mile Corner; North of the Lewis and Clark Bridge

April 28, 2015

Idle Chatter -- Nothing About The Bakken -- May 3, 2015

Wow, it looks like a great day for relaxing. I will talk about the Bakken -- always do but some non-Bakken stuff first. If you came here for the Bakken, skip this post.

We had an incredible evening last night. Our daughter / son-in-law were moving into their new home, so we took our youngest granddaughter out and about so she would not "be in their way." We started out with frozen yogurt down the street, and then, on a lark, drove up to see what was happening on Main Street, Grapevine.

It turns out: Gallery Nights, open house at the town's six art studios (the entire downtown is about six blocks long) to include:
The studios all had special events as well as free wine, beer, lemonade, and incredibly good food. We didn't get to all the studios but it would have been hard to beat the art gallery at the information center and the Great American West Gallery.

This is at the Great American West Gallery:

Sophia was the only non-adult in this gallery.

My wife was aghast when I took Sophia into the vault where $80,000 paintings were hung. She was so afraid Sophia was going to touch them; she didn't. The gallery was a bank many decades ago; this is the original vault door, cleaned up, of course:

At this gallery we feasted on: quail in cream sauce, venison and pork tamales (wife's favorite), bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with chicken. The tamales were incredible; someone said they were a bit hot (as in spicy); obviously not a native Texan -- not spicy enough!

Finally, this picture does not do Sophia justice -- she was having the time of her life but she looks a bit subdued in this photo -- perhaps just a bit too much wine:

No, she only had lemonade.

We finally got home about 10:00 p.m.

For a little big town, Grapevine, Texas, is quite incredible. They hold events year-round and one never knows what to expect.

There are several wineries in the area, including the third oldest in Texas right on Main Street. We visited Messina Hof for the first time last night. It is now on the top of our list for wine and cheese platter. 

Book Review

There is a very, very interesting book review in this weekend's edition of the WSJ: On The Move, Oliver Sachs, 2015, 397 pages.
This is a very striking book by a very striking man. It is honest, lucid, passionate, humorous, humane and human (also slightly Martian).
The Oliver Sacks you thought you knew may surprise you with his back story: He is not the cuddly avuncular figure you imagined, the wise neurologist whose life’s work is to probe the mind’s more puzzling precincts—or not entirely that.
The front cover of “On the Move” shows a photograph of Dr. Sacks in his 20s, sitting handsomely astride a powerful and gleaming BMW motorcycle. His hair is close cropped, his tongue protrudes slightly through his lips as if tasting the air, and he gazes with curious eyes into the distance, ready to take off. He is wearing a tight leather jacket over a white T-shirt, revealing broad shoulders and a narrow, tapering waist. A thick muscular thigh forces his jeans taut over his leg. He looks like an adventuring biker bodybuilder, with a distinct suggestion of gayness about him. And that is exactly what he turns out to be.
A few years later the author moves to America to pursue his medical career, living initially in California. He still rides his motorbike for hundreds of miles at a time, hangs out with a gang of Hells Angels, frequents Muscle Beach in Los Angeles, and begins using drugs regularly.
He is sufficiently dedicated to power-lifting that he breaks the California record for the squat (recall the massive thighs).
And again, later:
He seeks escape in drugs, developing a serious four-year addiction to amphetamines: “The doses I took got larger and larger, pushing my heart rate and my blood pressure to lethal heights. There was an insatiability in this state; one could never get enough.” Not until he moves to New York, in 1961, and begins psychoanalysis does his addiction stop. (He has been in analysis for 50 years.)
In New York, the Oliver Sacks we know today begins to take shape: the clinical neurologist, the accomplished writer, the keen observer of everything around him. “On the Move” turns from sex, drugs and motorbikes to no-sex, swimming, book writing, cultivating friendships and becoming a distinguished figure (something gained, something lost).
And finally,
Meanwhile, he has to get himself through Oxford, where, despite some academic difficulties, he wins a prestigious prize in physiology after writing the exam completely drunk. He treats himself to a luxury with the prize money, buying all 12 volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary. “I was to read the entire dictionary through when I went on to medical school, and I still like to take a volume off the shelf, now and then, for bedtime reading.”
For those who may not know Sachs, this may help:
Thus we have “Migraine,” “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” “A Leg to Stand On,” “Uncle Tungsten” and other well-known works. His groundbreaking work with the drug L-dopa on patients suffering the aftereffects of encephalitis lethargica, which became the book “Awakenings,” is what really put him on the map and elevated him to cult status when the film with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams came out.
Something tells me Hunter S Thompson and Oliver Sachs might have enjoyed an occasional trip together to the Sturgis rally.