Archive for December, 2011

Advice vs. Advise

December 22, 2011

This is an easy one because “advice” is a noun and “advise” is a verb. Advice is what is given to you when someone advises you on a matter.

Advice has a hard SSS sound at the end, whereas Advise has a soft, buzzing ZZZ sound at the end.

Advice is a recommendation, opinion, or counsel that implies that professional or technical knowledge is being transferred. The synonym “counsel” is preferred when personal wisdom is being given by someone in authority.

To advise someone means to inform, recommend, warn, caution, suggest types of action, or encourage consideration of various aspects of a matter. The person who does this is called an adviser or advisor. Which is preferred, you ask?

Purdue University’s marketing and communications department has a style guide that says to use “advisor,” whereas the AP Style Guide and the SPE Style Guide both say to use “adviser.” Webster’s dictionary uses “or” in between the two variants, which means they are equal variants.

The best thing to do is to pick one for your organization and stick with it consistently. I will be using “adviser” because I stick with the SPE Style Guide.

Funny Ad of the Day:
For those of you who aren’t Cajun, there is a holiday meat called a Turducken, which is a turkey with a deboned duck and chicken stuffed inside, along with etouffee or other kinds of stuffing. When you slice this thing, you get concentric circles of different colored meats and stuffings – it’s a unique food and a work of culinary art. I’ve never eaten one because my family is not as adventurous as I am. I’ll try just about anything once – if it sits still on a plate, that is.

Anyway, the Houston Chronicle had a nice big ad featuring a color photo of a turducken. Beneath it were the following words:
“It’s a chicken.  Inside a duck.  Inside a turkey.  Inside your stomach.  46 million holiday parties; Pepto covers them all.  Pepto-Bismol: Eat, drink and be covered.”
LOL – Great ad!


Three Mini-Tips

December 20, 2011

Here are a few no-no’s I ran across during some heavy editing this past week.
1)      Water aquifer. This is repetitively redundant. An aquifer is a water-bearing stratum of permeable rock, so a water aquifer would be a “water water-bearing stratum of permeable rock.” Aquifer will suffice.
2)      Here are some words that should be single words (compound words), but I’ve seen them split up into two words: data base => database back log => backlog on going => ongoing bottom hole => bottomhole bottom most => bottommost down hole => downhole
3)      The total volume of oil estimated for that zone is equal to 4.5 million bbl. “Equal to” implies “being identical in value to,” but because it is an estimate, the actual total might be 4.4 million or 4.6 million, which is not equal to 4.5 million. A better way to word this sentence is: The total volume of oil estimated for that zone is about 4.5 million bbl. —————————————–

Profound Quote of the Day:
“Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred.”

– Vaclav Havel, Czech president, 1936-2011

These vs. Those

December 14, 2011

Today we will learn about demonstrative determiners: This, That, These, Those, Here and There.

Generally speaking, “these” things are closer to you than “those” things.

“These” is the plural of “this.” Example: This is one thing near me over here; these are two things near me over here.
“Those” is the plural of “that.” Example: That is one thing far away over there; those are two things far away over there.

When you have two groups of things next to each other, you can refer to the first group as “these” and the second group as “those” – even though they may be the same distance away.
Example: These chocolates are mine, and those are yours.

Here’s how you can remember this: These go here, those go there.

Raising vs. Rising

December 13, 2011

I saw a reference to a “raising bubble apparatus” to measure pressure, volume and temperature (PVT) behavior of fluids. It should have been “rising bubble.”

Sometimes people make this error because they are typing too fast and leave out a letter. Other times they just don’t understand the difference between the two.
Today we are going to talk about the difference between the two, and we’ll learn about transitive and intransitive verbs in the process.

To raise is a transitive verb, which means it needs an object. You have to raise something, transferring the action to the object. To raise means to lift, elevate, build, erect, grow or increase.

Raise your hand if you know the answer. (lift or elevate, object = hand)

They used to raise cotton in that oilfield. (grow or bring to maturity, object = cotton)

They plan to raise a skyscraper next to those houses. (build or erect, object = skyscraper)

That gas station raised its prices during the holidays. (increase, object = prices)

To rise is an intransitive verb, which means there is no object. The thing moves upward without assistance.

Hot air rises, while cooler air sinks.

Whenever there is a situation, Bob rises to the occasion.

Rise and shine! It’s time to get up and go to work.

So make sure you ask your boss for a raise and not a rise. Otherwise, you’ll get a rise out of him, all right – an angry reaction!


Typo of the Day:

A high-temperature oven was sued (used) for these tests.

Boy, they’ll sue just about anything these days! Add that one to the growing list of typos Spell Checker would miss.

More Typos Spell Checker Will Miss

December 10, 2011

One of the members of the Peanut Gallery, Salim in Oman, sent me some more typos that are actual words recognized by Spell Checker software.

He wrote: “… you may odd, I mean add, the following in your lost, I mean list. Hehehe.”

●   add vs. odd

●   list vs. lost

●   tried vs. tired

●   deal vs. dial

●   steam vs. stream

●   valve vs. value

●   project vs. protect

●   affect vs. effect – we had a whole Tip of the Day on this one.

●   path vs. bath

●   vary vs. very

●   time vs. tome

And I thought of a few more:

●   compiled vs. complied

●   field vs. filed

●   range vs. rage

And today’s Typo of the Day is yet another example:

“We encountered a tin, poor-quality reservoir at 4,308 ft.”

If you encountered a vein of tin, yes that would be very poor reservoir quality.

I’m sure y’all meant “thin,” but again, Spell Checker missed it entirely.

Typos Spell Checker Will Miss

December 10, 2011

Today I ran across a sentence that had the following error:

The plot in Figure 1 shows the dominant rage of the property is between 1 and 2.

Well, we certainly don’t want to get this particular property anywhere between 1 and 2, because it will fly off into a dominating rage! I’m sure the author meant “range,” but Spell Checker didn’t find anything wrong with the statement, as “rage” is a real word. This is why I’m paid the big bucks: to catch that sort of typo.

Architectural proofreader Angela Smith has compiled a nice list of common typos that Spell Checker will not catch on her Accu.Assist website: These are mainly formed by transposing two letters, by leaving out one letter, or by typing a nearby letter instead of the correct one, with the resulting error still being recognized as a bona fide word.
I have included her list below with a couple of additions of my own. (Thanks, Angela.)

●   am vs. an vs. and

●   angel vs. angle

●   arc vs. are vs. area

●   bank vs. blank

●   be vs. bee vs. been

●   being vs. begin

●   card vs. care vs. car

●   causal vs. casual

●   choke vs. chock

●   contact vs. contract

●   diner vs. dinner

●   even vs. ever vs. every

●   feel vs. fell

●   files vs. flies

●   form vs. from

●   god vs. good

●   her vs. here

●   how vs. hot

●   is vs. it vs. in vs. if

●   know vs. now

●   man vs. many

●   manger vs. manager

●   meat vs. meant

●   moth vs. month

●   not vs. now

●   note vs. not

●   of vs. off

●   on vs.  one

●   or vs. of  vs. on

●   our vs. out

●   posed vs. posted

●   provide vs. provider

●   pubic vs. public

●   quit vs. quite

●   red vs. read

●   read vs. ready

●   rogue vs. rouge

●   sacred vs. scared

●   sing vs. sign

●   sun vs. son vs. soon

●   star vs. start

●   stated vs. started

●   stop vs. stoop

●   thing vs. think

●   through vs. thorough

●   trail vs. trial

●   who vs. how

●   won  vs. own

●   word  vs. world

●   you vs. your

Notice that many of these are very short words that your eyes virtually skip over. Most of the remaining ones look so similar to the word you are expecting that your brain parses it for you anyway. The only way to catch them is to read each individual word slowly – even aloud – using the cursor to point to each one.

Now that you know some of the most common typos, keep an eye out for them as you read your reports and documents one last time before sending them.

Quote of the Day:

“Y’all is singular. All y’all is plural. All y’all’s is plural possessive.”

– Kinky Friedman, Jewish musician, author, and perennial candidate for Texas Governor

Better Way To Say It, Reprise

December 10, 2011

I received some questions about a Tip of the Day in October, and I must apologize to Dmitry for not responding sooner. I’ve been saving it for when I temporarily run out of topics, which happens every now and then.

Here’s what Dmitry asked: I have a couple of questions:

1) “Zone A has a poor reservoir quality => Zone A has poor reservoir quality.” Okay, no article [is needed] because “quality” is an abstract noun? Why then do I often see sentences like “What a lovely weather!” Are they incorrect? I thought that you could put an indefinite article in cases when such nouns are modified.

2) “after the pump upsize => after the pump was upsized” Could one use a perfect tense form here as well?

3) “has been submitted this week => was submitted this week” Why? This week has not ended (at least, at the time when the report was written). I know that you cannot use Present Perfect when the exact time is indicated, as in “Steam injection has started Sept. 2 => Steam injection started Sept. 2,” but why can’t it be used here?

Here are my answers (and I had to do a lot of research to come up with them):

1) Indefinite articles like “a” and “an” are used to refer to non-specific nouns. If you say “a well,” it can mean any well (a non-specific well), whereas if you say “the well,” you are talking about a specific well and need to use a definite article. So in our example, if you are specifically talking about the quality of Zone A, a non-specific indefinite article does not fit. Likewise, if you are talking about the weather today being lovely, that is specific, so the indefinite article “a” would not fit. I usually hear “What lovely weather!”

However, I also often hear “What a great suggestion!” or “What a nice day!” One could argue that these folks are speaking about a particular (specific) suggestion or day, so the non-specific indefinite article argument doesn’t hold up. I’m going to reason that suggestions and days are countable, whereas weather and reservoir quality are not countable items. Therefore, if the noun is not countable, it doesn’t need an indefinite article, which one reference defined as “one of a number of the same.”

2) The present perfect tense would be “after the pump has been upsized.” You would use this tense if you are planning to do something in the future, but you are waiting for a bigger pump to be installed. The past perfect tense would be “after the pump had been upsized.” You would use this tense if both the upsizing and the thing done afterwards are both in the past, which is probably the case in the weekly status report from whence this example came. So yes, you could use either the simple past passive (was upsized) or the past perfect passive (had been upsized) for this. Simpler is always better, though.

3) The same thing applies here. “Has been submitted” is the present perfect passive, whereas “was submitted” is the simple past passive. If the time is specified (this week), then use the simple past (was submitted this week). If the time is unspecified, use the present perfect (has been submitted).

Lastly, Dmitry, you had more than “a couple of” questions. Couple usually means two joined together or a pair, often referring to a husband and wife. Example: What a nice couple! It would be better to say a “few” questions, which means more than two, but you can still count them on one hand.

Surrounded vs. Surrounding

December 6, 2011

The verb “surround” means to encircle, to enclose, or to confine on all sides so as to prevent escape or communication. The latter meaning brings to mind TV shows where the cops tell the robbers to give up because they are surrounded, i.e., all the entrances and exits are covered by armed police.

In the oil patch, where we frequently use five-spot or nine-spot patterns for enhanced oil recovery, flow rates of injectors and producers can be tweaked to maximize overall field production. I’ve seen some confusion as to whether a certain well is surrounded or surrounding, and this depends on the relationship to the other wells in the area.

Bad Example:

Well ABC-1 experienced steam breakthrough, but we were not sure which of the surrounded injectors was responsible.

In this example, the word should be “surrounding.” The injectors are surrounding (encircling) this producer; the producer is surrounded (encircled) by injectors.

Some folks have wondered whether you should say that a certain item is surrounded with something or surrounded by something. The answer, of course, is “that depends.”
In most cases they are interchangeable.


The house is surrounded with pine trees. The house is surrounded by pine trees. Both are correct.

However, if you are surrounding something with something else, they may not be interchangeable.

For example, you would say:

Grandma always surrounded the Thanksgiving turkey with fresh cranberries.

You would not say:

Grandma always surrounded the Thanksgiving turkey by fresh cranberries.

Quote of the Day:

“A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them.”

– Horace Mann, American educator and statesman, 1796-1859

Is Oil Fan-Friendly?

December 2, 2011

Let me hop up on my soapbox here and proclaim that the oil and gas industry needs to cultivate raving fans from the general public. Yes, people who “Friend” us and “Like” us and “Follow” us on various forms of social media. People who support our field activities rather than protest them. People who feel a warm emotional connection to oil and gas.

I subscribe to Jeffrey Gitomer’s Sales Caffeine e-newsletter, which comes out every Tuesday. There are many motivational articles in there, so even if you are not a salesperson, you can still benefit from the attitudes and philosophies therein. Here’s the link:

Anyway, in the last Sales Caffeine e-newsletter, there was an article by Stephanie Melish, who calls herself the Double-Tall, Non-Fat, No-Whip Sales Barista, about how “fan-friendly” the NASCAR racing folks are, and it got me to thinking. (Oh, geez, not again!)

Stephanie had a “hot pass” to go down to the pits where they change the tires, and said the folks there were “overly friendly” despite the fact that she doesn’t even know how to change a tire. “There were no looks of annoyance, only looks of smiles and acceptance, allowing me to feel like I belonged, where so clearly I did not,” she wrote. Then she asked the following questions:

How much access do you allow your fans/customers?

How close do you let them get to the inner workings of your business?

Do you let them revel in your successes?

Do you allow them the right to look behind the curtain?

Are you fan friendly or fan unfavorable?

Allowing people access makes them feel important and trusted, which fosters loyalty. They feel connected, part of the team. And they would be truly amazed at the technology, the capital investment, the tough decisions made, and the excitement and jubilation when a new well comes in. And they probably would not be urging their local government to pass legislation outlawing fracking.

I recall reading about a very successful demonstration of this sort of access in Norway.  One of the oil companies (I think it was Saga) had a contest and the winners (maybe 20 of them) got a chance to go via helicopter to an offshore platform in the North Sea (I think it was Snorre). The folks who got to go were totally amazed, blown away by the size of the equipment, how high-tech everything was, how knowledgeable the personnel were, how great the food was, and on and on. They were turned into raving fans and became veritable oil industry ambassadors when they returned home.

Do we have tours of our facilities? Do we throw a party when a big new well comes in and invite shareholders? Do we provide all kinds of detailed information about our operations, not just to analysts, but to everyday Joes and Suzies? How accessible are we as an industry? Do we enable access and connection? Do we foster trust and loyalty?

If we did more of these things, would we possibly be able to drill along the East and West Coasts of the US? Would we be able to fracture Marcellus shale reservoirs in New York State and Pennsylvania?
It’s worth thinking about. It’s worth taking positive action to improve our fan friendliness.


Quote of the Day:

“We should reach out to people to try to go after the fans the way other sports do. Because we can’t just depend on the fact that it is a great game.”

– John McEnroe, US tennis player, b. 1959

Three Little Things

December 2, 2011

I’ve been editing an 80-page report, and I collected a few items I’d like to share with y’all.

1) “Lower down” and “raise up” are redundant; “lower” and “raise” will suffice.
Bad Example: We plan to lower down the packer to a depth of 3,486 ft. Good Example: We plan to lower the packer to a depth of 3,486 ft.

2) If you have a plan for what you intend to do for the next week, you have a 7-day plan, not a 7 days plan. You wouldn’t say you need a 2 inches nail, would you? No, you would say you need a 2-inch nail. If you said you needed “2 inch nail,” you might get two nails that are an inch long, which is not what you need at all, so it’s best to hyphenate the adjective. The same rule applies for the 7-day plan, as you don’t want seven daily plans.
3) There is no such expression as “awaiting for.” You are either awaiting something, or you are waiting for something. Some people say they are “waiting on” something, rather than “waiting for” something.
Example: We are waiting on cement before we start fracturing operations.

Usually, “waiting on” is used for situations where one person is attending to another person’s needs, such as waitresses waiting on tables and servants waiting on the queen hand and foot. However, “waiting on” seems to be used more frequently here in Texas than in my hometown in New York, so it may be a Southern thing like “y’all.”
Webster’s dictionary says (in a usage paragraph under “wait”) that some commentators consider “wait on” to be regional, informal, or incorrect. However, Webster’s own research shows the phrase to be used by such institutions as Harvard and Time magazine, so it’s OK by them.

I would recommend using “waiting for” when standing around doing nothing and “waiting on” when you’re very busy serving somebody; that way there’s no confusion.