World Traveler - Not

A few observations from a short trip abroad:

It’s been a few decades since I’ve travelled outside the comfort zone of North America. I had never been to Europe for a stay beyond overnight so on my recent trip to Germany I expected an experience similar to North America but more worldly or refined … but it turned out to be a real mix of great ideas, stretched comfort zones and ‘you’ve got to be kidding’ experiences.

The trip was a combination of business and personal in nature … with some of the business accomplished immediately upon arrival in Frankfurt; as in 3AM my time … where I found out that, apart for some of the largest cities, Google Streetview does not exist – who would have thought that? … they turn out to be extremely sensitive about privacy and have lawfully enforced that with Google.

The Dark colored areas are where Google has Streetview data so there are only a few cities in Germany … interesting eh?

Lack of Streetview in Germany

I loved the Autobahn; where some find it intimidating, I found it to be fully sensible. In Canada the fast lane is for someone speeding maybe 10-15 kph faster than you so most drivers don’t even use their rear-view mirrors until they are tailgating someone. On the Autobahn, everyone knows where they are and are properly paying attention; they have situational awareness … even or maybe especially, the truckers. It works great; the fast lane traffic passes and disappears in a matter of seconds, not in a half hour or so like here. This makes the traffic seem light as it has an opportunity to spread out and not be forced to bunch up … so I can confidently say that cruise control was invented in N America as you’d never have an opportunity to use in Germany. I rented a vehicle that I’d never heard of before and was quite amazing … Alhambra made by SAFE here is a video and I drove around 530 km on about €38 (¼ tank) worth of diesel fuel … loved it.

Here’s another love … the toilet paper … sort of a cross between our paper towels and any flavour of ‘poke your finger through’ ass-wipe you can buy here. A great deal of thought went into the design … from the size of the squares to the correct softness and thickness (should have brought some back) … who would have thought?

If you want to sleep comfortably on a soft bed, don’t hold your breath. It doesn’t seem to matter how many stars your hotel has, you’ll be ‘camping’ until you get back.

I was curious to see how all the small shops have been able to survive the ‘big box store’ onslaught that we have experienced here in NA. This was my experience: where we stayed (with relatives) in Cologne within one single block distance all these things were available: Bank where I could use my debit card to pull out up to €300 at a time, full fledged grocery store, drugstore, doctor’s office, a hotel, old folks home, church, two bakeries, about 5 restaurants, a volunteer fire station, two day per week farmer’s market … oh and a bubbly (CO2) bottled water depot, a tram terminal and a park with kid’s play things that we have written off here as ‘too dangerous’ like a cable geodesic climbing pyramid and even a zip-line ! With all that, who would actually need to get in their car and drive ANYWHERE?

Pretty much everyone takes only cash and that got me to thinking about the Greek dilemma that was in the news. I sat down to figure out a few things (thankfully, Google speaks English if I have Google Translate turned on) Here’s the summary without using numbers: Greece is the same geographic size as Newfoundland. It has 1/3 the population of Canada and will have been bailed out to the tune of what Canada brings in through taxes in a single year … and we have 170 times as many kilometres of public roads as Greece and we need such things as snowploughs etc … how the hell can they need that much to keep going? … well if nobody pays taxes, that’s how. I began by using Newfoundland as a comparison … which could have worked at one time as similar to Greece; the have-not partner in a larger entity … but they at least ALWAYS paid their taxes !

Someone has to hold the indignant Greek’s feet to the fire in their refusal to acknowledge their financial incompetence and as the major contributor to supporting their failed system, they should expect the German’s to get fed up with their pension for the status quo. … then as I paid closer attention to what was happening around me on my stay in Germany, I realized that they too are avoiding taxes as much as possible … and having to produce receipts for goods or services … the Greeks have just been better at it, and there’s a whole lot fewer of them … maybe that’s why they have been going easy on them so far!

How does any of this relate to what we do? … well, when you send crew out into the oil & gas wilderness, it may well be out of their comfort zone and there’s a high probability that a few simple tools could make both you and the crew very comfortable, like knowing their whereabouts for the entire trip. This relates to safety (fleet management), efficiency (that’s speed of job completion), no-one craps their pants ’cause they went too far down the wrong road (that’s both mental and physical comfort) and in the end a few bucks spent (think of it as taxes) creates the overall efficiency that allows you, whether one man  or 500 strong, to afford much more than you at first think !

PatchMap will accomplish all this and more.

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