Monday, April 14, 2014

helicopter underwater escape.


I think it’s safe to say September 9th, 2013 was one of the scariest days of my life thus far.  Several weeks prior I had signed up to take Rig Pass, Safegulf, Safeland, Personnel Transfer Basket, Swing Rope, and Offshore Water Survival (AKA: HUET METS Model 5…. AKA: Helicopter Underwater Escape Training) courses as this was a prerequisite to go offshore (to visit the rigs/rig employees for work purposes.)  Yes, I said Helicopter Underwater Escape Training.  In other words, the scariest darn thing you could ever do!!!! Okay, I know I’m being a bit dramatic here as there are many things more frightening than this. But, based on all of my experiences in my little life, this was freaking terrifying. Unfortunately, the location I was at would not allow video or cameras so I wasn’t able to capture this.  However, when going through my phone to pull old pictures for this blog post, I came across several I had saved from www.behance.net to share with Blake, my family, and friends leading up to my big adventure.  The picture of the student badge, of course the one with me in it, and the rig photo are all mine. Yet the middle four incredible photos are from Behance which paints the picture quite well.





To make a very long story short, you and about three other people get inside a helicopter simulation in a deep indoor pool, which functions as a practice model in case you ever had to escape from a helicopter crash.  Although we had a trainer and scuba divers in the pool with us to “rescue” anyone who was underwater for too long, it was incredibly nerve-wracking.  The participants had to complete 5 phases successfully.  Of course, as you go through these phases, it gets more and more difficult. Initially your main goal is just being able to punch out the window and it goes on from there. 

Phase One: Helicopter almost submerges, punch the window out, and unbuckle seat belt

Phase Two: Helicopter goes under water, sit for 7 seconds, punch the window out, unbuckle seat belt, and swim through window to water’s surface

Phase Three: Switch to new seat and use different type of seat belt (new method to open, compared to the first.) Helicopter goes under water, flips upside down, punch the window out, unbuckle seat belt, and swim through window to water’s surface

Phase Four: Stay in new seat with new seat belt. Helicopter goes under water, flips upside down, sit for 7 seconds, punch the window out, unbuckle seat belt, and swim through window to water’s surface


Phase Five: Switch to a new seat again—seat belt will be one of the two types you have already tried.  Helicopter goes under water, flips upside down, sit for 7 seconds, punch out window, swim diagonally across the other people (I know, at this point it's comical, right?) and swim out of teammates window (assuming they got it open in the first place ha!) 

If you messed up any of these phases you had to re-do it until successful to move onto the next tier.  I did mess up (for lack of better words) the final tier and had to complete it a second time.  Mess up meaning I had to be “rescued.”  I became extremely disoriented when trying to do the diagonal switch and lost all track of what was in front of me, up, or down.  To this day, I’m still not sure how I found my way but there was this teeny tiny amount of space/air between the flipped helicopter and the water’s surface.  You had to tilt your head pretty far back to be able to gasp the air while still in there, but it was possible.  I didn’t even know that was possible until I was in the moment and found myself breathing there all of a sudden.  Then, one of the scuba divers got me out and it was time for my re-do.  “Oh yay, I get to jump into the torture machine again!” J


Punching that window out alone was difficult as you had to position your arm/elbow a very specific way and apply a lot of pressure up against the water to get out.  So, you can imagine the amount of anxiety that comes into the picture when you flip the thing upside down (leaving you feeling completely disoriented and not aware of what was up or down,) “holding” for 7 seconds before you move….and the list goes on.  The water was not clear at all so even if you opened your eyes under the water, you couldn’t see which way you were going.  If you unlock your seat belt before popping out the door, you will float away and need someone to pull you out.  The windows were oh so tiny and everyone was bruising up their hip bones trying to swim out so fast.  My lung capacity must not be the best as I was gasping for air by the time those 7 seconds were up.  Knowing I still had all those steps to get to the air was overwhelming to say the least. 

As you can see, I have a LOT to say about one course and not much to say about the others as there is just no comparison.  The others mentioned previously are not very note-worthy but anyone who successfully completed the Offshore Water Survival/HUET (all of the amazing people who work offshore) are champions in my eyes. 


Had I known exactly what I was signing up for, I don’t know if I would have gone through with it.  I’ll be forever grateful for the experience –it pushed me to my limits.   After completing the courses, I was able to visit two rigs and stay overnight.  For my first, we had to get there by boat (and then ride the basket up to the rig which was similar to a fun roller coaster ride or something.)  For my second, I finally got to ride the helicopter over the water and land on the rig. 

Being able to see the offshore team in their element is really quite an experience, bringing me a whole new appreciation for the lifestyle they lead and the work they do. Now I can say I wear my coveralls with great pride. Flying on a chopper to land on a rig seems like a piece of cake after that ordeal J




Sunday, April 13, 2014

billy & ronnie.



Left to right: My Daddy, Gary Cottingham, my Grandfather, Billy Frank Cottingham, and my Uncle, Ronald Robert "Ronnie" Cottingham. 

I have been holding off on this post as I knew it would be difficult to write. I also knew there was no amount of words to summarize the love I feel for these men, the love my family feels for these men, all they accomplished, all they gave to those around them, and the genuine kindness that filled their hearts.  


Last year, in 2013, we lost Ronnie in April and Billy in August.  This Tuesday, the 15th, will mark a year since Ronnie passed away and that is so hard to believe as it still feels like yesterday.  The 15th of April is also the year anniversary of the Boston Bombing so I know we will not be the only ones with heavy hearts. Our family is extremely close-- saying goodbye to such influential men, and so close together in time, was incredibly painful for all of us.  


Ronnie was known for taking care of everyone.  He was always the person keeping family plans on track, making sure everyone had the information they needed, and ensuring family traditions lived on.  There was no doubt to anyone who knew him that family was a top priority for Ronnie.  Ron-A-Boy (another love-filled family nickname) was also notorious for his sense-of-humor, quick wit, and one hell of a laugh that was beyond contagious.  You could not hear Ronnie's laugh and avoid a smile.  I still hear his laugh every time I think about him.  Ronnie's wife and my Aunt is Carolyn.  Ron and Carolyn had two children, Matthew and Dea.  Matthew is married to Erin and they have three beautiful daughters, Dylan, Iris, and Vera (with twins-one boy and one girl-on the way!) 

Billy, "Daddy Billy," the Patriarch. It all goes back to him and his dear wife, my grandmother, Reinette (or as we all call her, "Heidi.")  This is where all of our family traditions and roots began.  Billy passed at the age of 90, after 68 incredible years with Heidi.  Like Ronnie, Billy was known for his wonderful sense-of-humor (a running theme in our family!)  He never spoke a negative word of anyone and had a heart as good as gold. I have never known someone to radiate so much love by just a glance.  Both my sister and I were blessed to have him "cut in" on our Daddy-Daughter dance at our weddings. My Dad and Ronnie have two sisters, Claudia Bush and Reinette "Cott" Miller.  My Dad, Heidi, Claudia, Cott, all of our cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, aunts, and uncles are as thick as thieves.  The love, traditions, and soul of Billy and Ronnie will live on through all of us. 


Billy and I


Billy and I dancing at my wedding


After Billy's memorial service, guests were invited to a restaurant for Mexican food and margaritas to celebrate his incredible life.  Everything had been paid for in advance (by Billy!) Only this man would have a pre-paid celebration with food and margaritas after his funeral--amazing. The picture above is a note from Billy that was so special to everyone.  "Adios mis amigos" .. sums up his wonderful personality so well and gave us peace to read something written by him. 


Ronnie and I. One of my favorite pictures of all time. Look at those smiles!! We weren't having fun or anything?! :)   


Ronnie always coordinated the "Good Guy Shoots" for the men in our family to get together, have a good time, catch up, and shoot some skeet!  My Dad has planned an up-coming shoot in honor of Billy and Ronnie. 


Billy, Heidi, and Ronnie. Another one of my favorite pictures of all time.  The way they are looking at their son... So special.


Our two angels. 

Daddy Billy spoke beautifully at Ronnie's funeral, something no father should ever have to do.  He spoke of tradition and family-- nothing could have been more fitting for Billy to talk about, especially for a day in honor of someone who was known for cherishing these two things.  As you can see, these two had a lot in common.  Like father, like son.  I know I speak for so many people when I say we miss you both more than words can express.  I'm so blessed for the cherished years and love you two so, so very much. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

favorite foundations april 2014.


It's been awhile since I posted about makeup and I definitely have that itch! I can honestly say there is no other category, in the world of beauty products, that I enjoy talking about more than foundation.  Foundation can make or break your entire look as it's the canvas. My skin is combination, therefore, I'm not super oily or super dry--smack down the middle and it varies based on the weather.  I have had more experience playing with the three pictured above.  The Guerlain foundation pictured below is the newest addition to my collection and we are in love too :)  

Smashbox Studio Skin 15 Hour Wear Hydrating Foundation:
Sephora's Definition: Stay flawless for 15 hours with this photoshoot secret for picture-perfect skin.  This long-wearing, hydrating formula blurs imperfections using light-diffusing, encapsulated pigment spheres, and delivers natural-looking, buildable medium-to-full coverage.  Sweat-free, transfer-proof, humidity-resistant formula keeps skin hydrated and shine-free all day.
Why I Love It: The wear time and coverage! Most long wearing foundations seem to create "cake face" yet this one feels like you are wearing nothing, lasts all day, and covers imperfections very well. 

YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat Illuminating Foundation: 
Sephora's Definition: Infused in a weightless fluid, this foundation targets shadowy areas and highlights the contours of the face.  Free of opaque fillers, it's perfecting texture evens the complexion and helps conceal imperfections while enhancing your skin's natural beauty.
Why I Love It: Illuminating "glowing" finish. If you are looking for a dewy finish, this is your new best friend.  My other favorite thing is how this one blends-- so effortless.

Make Up For Ever Face & Body Foundation:
Sephora's Definition: This waterproof, ultra-light, water-based gel contains no emulsifiers and provides a totally natural, satin finish.  Ideal for normal skin-types as well as for fine lines and large pores.  Gives skin a uniform tone without accentuating imperfections. 
Why I Love It:  The water-based gel formula is really unique-- I love the smell, as odd as that sounds.  It dries fairly quick so you have to work with the product rapidly.  I agree with Sephora's "satin finish" description as that is the best way to describe the end result.  MUFE's Face & Body is fantastic during the hot summer months as the water- based formula seems to last longer. 



Guerlain Lingerie De Peau Invisible Skin-Fusion Foundation: 
Sephora's Definition: An invisible foundation that wears like a second skin.  This unbelievably silky formula creates a natural radiance that captures and reflects light to reveal the look of naturally perfect skin.  Imperfections are erased and coverage lasts all day long.
Why I Love It: Second skin is the perfect way to describe Lingerie De Peau.  Out of every foundation I have ever tried (bold statement, I know) this has the most natural finish and does not sink into fine lines and wrinkles. It physically feels the most natural as well. It's pricey but worth every penny. 



Thank you all for your patience with the blog posts.  We are happy to be back at it but definitely want to deliver more frequently.  More to come on beauty/makeup, business, pets, events, oil and gas industry, finances, and more! 

Much Love,
m + b 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

two week hitch.

As a bunch of you probably already knew, I returned recently from being out in the field for two weeks to watch a well get drilled from start to finish.  During my time in residential architecture at DKA, walking my projects and getting see the actual construction work was one of my favorite things.  It is no different for me in the oilfield.  There is just something about doing everything behind the scene, and then being able to witness the progress in person.  This is just so rewarding to me.
In advance, I was aware of how hard it would be to leave my wife and home for two weeks....especially during Valentine's Day.  This was my choice though, it was something that I really needed to do for education.  With the separation, the 15+ hour work days, and the complete lack of personal time, I still enjoyed it.  I'm not saying that I will be signing up for field work now, but this was an experience I will remember for some time.  My time in Knox City, TX was filled with kind, patient, and good people that were more than willing to answer any question I could think of.  When everyone else is away from the home life, you become your own family.  There is such a strong comradery in the field.  Coming from a metro area of 5.6 million people to a one stop sign town of  1,151 was a refreshing change of pace.  There is no Starbucks to go to, there is no worrying about which restaurant to eat at, there isn't even any traffic, I didn't even have to stress out about making it to the non existent gym!.  Meredith laughed at me, because I was freaking out on our drive back from the airport when I returned.  It wasn't until then that I realized I had experienced absolutely no traffic for two weeks.
I am lucky to work for a company that gives me the opportunity to further my education, whether it be in the classroom, or out in the field.  I am even more lucky to have a wife and kitty-kids that I missed dearly while being away.  At the end of two weeks, it was sure nice to get home.  Until the next trip, here are some pictures from the field.

 The derrick of a top drive triple rig in Snyder, TX
 My home for two weeks.
At night, lucky the weather was perfect.

BOP
Drill pipe racked in the derrick
Casing on the rack, this well is about 5,400' deep.
Drill pipe joints racked in the derrick
Right after the conductor pipe was cut off.   

 Parts of a electronic submersible pump (ESP) being fished on another well.
Can't get rusty, so I always try to don a SCBA while visiting rigs.
 Pump jack boneyard in Knox City.


 Made a side trip to deliver some 1000 days safe jackets to another rig crew.



 Flowlines in Goldsmith, TX

Happy Valentine's Day from the field.

Cats can instantly recognize a sucker.  Met this dude.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

tara's maternity shoot.

Our dear friends, Tara and Richard, welcomed the most adorable little girl, Lyla, into the world on September 9th, 2013.  They had incredible new born pictures taken by a professional photographer but gave us the opportunity to play with some amateur maternity pictures. It was so much fun!!  Clearly, this is another belated post while I play the catch up game--ya know, just half a year late!! Tara, Richard, Lyla, and their kitties are currently in Dubai for work.  Here is a link to the post we did right before they left for the first assignment in Saudi Arabia.  We miss them terribly!