Archive for April, 2012


April 25, 2012

Today we will feature a sentence that needs to be fixed. This is called a fixer-upper, and yes, that word is hyphenated, according to Merriam-Webster (which is also hyphenated, not a first and last name).

Fixer-Upper Opportunity:

The same is true for other well locations situated nearby Spindletop.

The first thing that hit me is the use of “nearby” instead of “near.”

Nearby means “close at hand.” It is an adjective or adverb.

Near means “close to,” and it is a preposition, which means it takes an object.

Now, let’s look at the sentence and see if “close at hand” fits better than “close to” before Spindletop. If you leave the word “Spindletop” in there, then “close to” fits better; whereas if you leave the word “Spindletop” out, then “close at hand” fits better. Thus, there are two ways we can fix the latter part of the sentence:

1)      …situated near Spindletop.

2)      …situated nearby.

The second thing that hit me is that “well locations situated” seemed repetitively redundant.

Having chosen Option #1 above, there are several ways we can fix this part of the sentence:

1)      …other wells situated near Spindletop.

2)      …other well locations near Spindletop.

3)      …other wells located near Spindletop.

4)      …other wells near Spindletop.

Being a fan of brevity, I would edit our fixer-upper to one of the following:

1)      The same is true for other wells near Spindletop.

2)      The same is true for other nearby wells.

Funny Quote of the Day:

“To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first, and call whatever you hit the target.”

– Ashleigh Brilliant, British author and cartoonist, b. 1933, now US citizen living in California

Compressor Jargon

April 19, 2012

There are several terms pertaining to compressors that engineers like to either hyphenate or put as two separate words, but the preferred terms are single words:

Uprate, uprated





How shall we remember this? Well, let’s compress the two halves of the term together.

Another bad habit these same compressor experts like to practice has to do with the various stages.

Bad Examples:

1st stage


These terms are neither abbreviated with superscripts nor hyphenated.

Corrected Examples:

First stage

Second stage

The same rule applies to dates: nix on the superscripts.

Bad Example:

May 1st, 2012

Corrected Example:

May 1, 2012

Ponderous Quote of the Day:

“It is more rewarding to watch money change the world than watch it accumulate.”

– Gloria Steinem, American feminist, b. 1934

Customary vs. Customarily

April 19, 2012

Customary is an adjective that means commonly practiced or found, usual, based on tradition rather than law.
Customarily is an adverb that means usually or commonly or traditionally.
Adjectives modify nouns, whereas adverbs modify verbs or adjectives.

Adjective Example:

The customary coffee and donuts were served before the training class started.

Here the adjective “customary” modifies the compound noun “coffee and donuts.”

Adverb Example:

Coffee and donuts are customarily served before training classes begin.

Here the adverb “customarily” modifies the present passive verb “are served.”

So, if you can substitute “usual,” use the adjective “customary,” and if you can substitute “usually,” use the adverb “customarily.” The –ly suffix is the dead giveaway about most adverbs, which “adhere to the verb.”

Customary Quote of the Day:

“History warns us that it is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions.”

– Thomas Huxley, English biologist and agnostic, 1822-1895

Stable vs. Stabile

April 17, 2012

These two adjectives have similar meanings, with a subtle difference.

Stable (STAY-bull) = steady in position or balance; not easily disrupted; sane or rational

Stabile (STAY-Bile) = immobile, stationary; resistant to chemical change, unchangeable

Stable Examples:

That rickety old ladder doesn’t look very stable.

She had a very stable household as a child.

Stabile Example:

For use in steamfloods, tubulars must have coatings that are stabile in salt water up to 500°F.

Both of these words can also be used as nouns.

Stable = a barn where animals are housed and fed, usually with stalls or compartments.

Stabile = a 3D stationary sculpture


If we buy another horse, we’re going to have to build another stable.

I wound the baby’s mobile too tight and broke the spring, so now it is a stabile.
Totally Embarrassing Typo of the Day:

Drivers for a freight company were showing up at the oilfield job site wearing sandals and no safety glasses.

The supervisor sent out an email complaining that the “driver did not have a hard hat on,” except he left the word “hat” out!!



Poetic Quote of the Day:

“I trust in nature for the stable laws of beauty and utility.

Spring shall plant and autumn garner to the end of time.”

– Robert Browning, English poet, 1812-1889

Subtle Differences

April 14, 2012

Today I would like to present two cases where the choice of words was just slightly different than what the author really meant.

Bad Example #1:

Thus, the simulator’s predictability would be improved.

Now, the author was not talking about the repeatability or precision of the simulator or how predictably it would behave. The author really meant that the simulator would have a greater ability to make predictions farther out into the future. So let’s say that.

Simulator’s predictability = the quality of the simulator being predictable, i.e., given the same input, you get the same output every time

Simulator’s prediction ability = the capability of the simulator to make accurate predictions of future parameters

Corrected Example #1:

Thus, the simulator’s prediction ability would be improved.

Bad Example #2:

Thus, the problem has been theoretically solved.

Here, the author wanted to stress that the solution was based on bona fide scientific theory, not just empirical correlations.

Has been theoretically solved = maybe it has been solved; we have the theory that it might actually be solved

Has been solved theoretically = has definitely been solved using an ideal set of facts or principles based on accepted scientific theory

Corrected Example #2:

Thus, the problem has been solved theoretically.

The English language is full of such subtleties, and much care is needed to avoid giving the wrong impression when the wording is just a little bit off the mark.


Funny Typo of the Day:

Mad log (instead of mud log) = angry squiggles and lots of special characters (*#%@#!*&!) made by The Mad Logger


Famous Predictability Quote:

“I have always believed that it’s important to show a new look periodically. Predictability can lead to failure.”

– T. Boone Pickens. American businessman, b. 1928


No Commas Here

April 13, 2012

If you are using just a month and a year, you do not need a comma between them.

Bad Example:

April, 2012

Corrected Example:

April 2012

If you include a specific date after the month, then you do need a comma.


April 12, 2012

Here are a few other times you do not need a comma:

We need a new pump for Zone A injector QR-236.

That project was assigned to petroleum engineer Jack O’Reilly.

Trivia Question:

What is the shortest sentence in the English language?

(See answer below.)

Here is the Funny Typo of the Day:

FEED for this project will be done by an engineering contractor such as FLOUR.

FLOUR is the white wheat powder you use to bake bread and cakes.

FLUOR is the engineering contractor name, like the chemical name fluorine = F on the periodic chart of the elements.

Answer to Trivia Question:


Thanks to Peanut Gallery member Ted Lax in Oman for sending this in to celebrate National Grammar Day last month.

Famous Go Quote:

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

– Confucius, Chinese philosopher, 551-479 BC

Multiple Hyphens

April 13, 2012

Sometimes a noun phrase is used as an adjective (a single concept) to modify another noun, and to turn the phrase into an adjective, one or more hyphens are used. These are called compound modifiers.

Examples with one hyphen:

Well-known author

One-way street

High-yield returns

Long-lead items

Multiple-year targets

Examples with two and three hyphens:

Up-to-date schedule

Day-to-day expenses

Fit-for-purpose tubing design

State-of-the-art software

Now, if the modifier is in the predicate and does not precede the noun it modifies, then you do not use any hyphens. The hyphens are only used for clarity so the reader can figure out which noun is the subject of the sentence.

Examples without one hyphen:

The author was well known.

The street runs one way.

Examples without two and three hyphens:

The schedule is up to date.

She kept track of her expenses day to day.

This software program is state of the art.

And here is the funny typo of the day:

Fir-for-purpose tubing design

I guess this particular custom tubing design is specially made from hollowed fir tree trunks!

Famous Day-to-Day Quote:

“Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy, and rewarding life.”

– Marilu Henner, American actress (TV series Taxi), b. 1952

As Such

April 13, 2012

I’ve been editing a document that had quite a few sentences that began with “As such, …” and I removed most of them because they basically sounded like hoity-toity language and the rest of the sentence stood on its own just fine without this expression.

Bad Example:

This detailed design contains no material changes to the conceptual design. As such, the detailed design scope and costs are consistent with the concept document approved by the Energy Minister.

The whole purpose of the phrase “as such” was negated by repeating the verbiage about the detailed design. Here’s why:

“As such” has two meanings. The first one uses the pronoun “such” to replace an otherwise repetitively redundant expression.

Repetitive Example:

I am an editor, and because I am an editor, I find myself correcting mistakes I see in newspapers, magazines, and books; therefore, I have to make sure I have no pen in my hand when I’m reading a library book.

As Such Example:

I am an editor, and as such I find myself correcting mistakes I see in newspapers, magazines, and books; therefore, I have to make sure I have no pen in my hand when I’m reading a library book.

The pronoun “such” could be used properly in our example to reduce the repetition.

Corrected Example:

This detailed design contains no material changes to the conceptual design, and as such, the scope and costs are consistent with the concept document approved by the Energy Minister.

The second meaning of “as such” is “exactly,” or “intrinsically considered,” as Webster defines it, which basically means “in and of itself.”


I’m not a Texan as such, having grown up in upstate New York, but I’ve spent most of my adult life in Texas.

So, if you can substitute “exactly” for “as such,” or if “as such” can be substituted for a repetitive phrase, then go ahead and use the expression. If in doubt, leave it out.

Famous As Such Quote of the Day:

“The first precept was never to accept a thing as true until I knew it as such without a single doubt.”

– Rene Descartes, French mathematician, 1596-1650

Got the Point

April 10, 2012

There are several compound words that end in –point that are not hyphenated, according to the SPE Style Guide. These include:

Bubblepoint – pressure and temperature at which the first bubble comes out of solution

Dewpoint  – pressure at which the first condensate liquid comes out of solution from gas

Endpoint – point during titration where the color or pH changes

Gridpoint – ???

Midpoint – location halfway between two objects or two ends of a line

Wellpoint – ???

Anybody out there in the Peanut Gallery know the definitions of Gridpoint and Wellpoint? (Note: not the company names, please.)

Here’s a little side note about Bubblepoint and Dewpoint. These are single words when used either as a noun or as an adjective.


What is the bubblepoint of that oil sample? (noun)

The bubblepoint pressure of that sample is 279 psi at reservoir temperature. (adjective)


Profound Quote of the Day:

“The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.”

– Oprah Winfrey, American entertainer and media mogul, b. 1954

Who Is Doing It, Part II

April 7, 2012

Here are three more examples of sentences where people are actually doing the action stated by the verb, not the subject of the sentence, which is actually the object, so passive voice is needed.

Bad Example #1:

These data will optimize the development plan for the field.

Wrong. The data will just sit there until the person uses them to optimize the field.

Corrected Example #1: These data will be used to optimize the development plan for the field.

Bad Example #2:

Phase 3 of the program will design and implement an EOR pilot project.

No, it won’t; the engineers will.

Corrected Example #2:

Phase 3 of the program will involve the design and implementation of an EOR pilot project.

Bad Example #3:

We initiated a study that intends to mitigate this situation when it occurs.

How is a study going to have a mental intention when it has no free will? How is it going to mitigate any kind of situation once it occurs? A study simply cannot do such things.

Corrected Example #3:

We initiated a study to find ways to mitigate this situation when it occurs.

We initiated, we will find ways, and we will mitigate.

So these three examples and the three I shared yesterday all have the same solution.

Ask yourself: Who is doing it? Is the Plan doing it? Is the Study doing it? Is the data doing it? I don’t think so.

Figure out what the verb is, figure out who is doing the action the verb implies, then choose your wording so that the people are doing the action, not the object being used to carry out that action.