Highs and Lows

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Dear Paul, Melanie, Rob, Roice, and Ben,

cc: file, Diane Cluff, Darrell and Nancy Krueger, Pauline Nelson via mail, Sara and Des Penny, Grandma Hafen via Tony Hafen, Claude and Katherine Warner, and Lloyd and Luana Warner.

Welcome to "Thoughtlets." This is a weekly review of an idea, belief, thought, or words that will hopefully be of some benefit to you, my children, with an electronic copy to on-line extended family members. Any of you can ask me not to clutter your mail box at any time.

"I have two pages of notes of stuff which happened since my last Thoughtlet. If everything outlined on those pages were written out in a little detail, this Thoughtlet could be ten to twenty pages long. I should be on top of the world. However, I am in a real low this evening, and so this Thoughtlet is apt to be longer than usual - simply as a result of taking advantage of the self help accompanying writing in a journal. I am down because I am feeling like an total failure at that which absolutely matters the most to me - namely providing for the salvation and exualtation of my family. I'm sure part of these feelings are tied to Friday's anniversary of the divorce being finalized. President McKay's words are ringing in my mind:

`No success in life can compensate for failure in the home.'


So why should I be feeling high? The AAPG Convention was a great experience. Then I went to Albequerque and we have reached verbal agreement on the terms to fund our work in immersive environments. And why am I low? Because I made a real effort to get back to church in time to see Rob in his new suit. He didn't make it, and wasn't interested in going to a special fireside to listen J. Hartman Rector, Jr. tonight. Sara said she would come over for lunch when I called her on Friday, and she was out golfing with one of her friends and her friend's Dad. And your Mom spent the weekend somplace (it turned out to be a Sharp Family Reunion), leaving Rob and Sara to be babysat by Ben, who visited for the weekend. Guess I realized tonight my dreams of healing our family are pipedreams. Guess I am just feeling sorry for myself because sometimes it seems like my highs and lows have a stronger amplitudes and occur more often (have a higher frequency) than anyone else I know. Oh Well! I must have a strong need to learn first hand about the law of undulation (.../9648.html).

As always, it took me longer to write the Thoughtlet last week than I intended. Maybe those of you who attempt to send me a weekly e-mail will someday come to realize what an effort of love this is. I am so visual, writing, reading words, remembering names, and in general using words has always been a major effort for me. Recognizing this weakness I have attempted to overcome the weakness through giving professional presentations (.../9818.html), my amateur poetry efforts (which you know are named Prime Words) (http://www.walden3d.com/w3d/prime_words/PW_Cover.html), my Lovelets for your Mom (http://www.walden3d.com/hrnmen/men/index.html), and these Thoughtlets (http://www.walden3d.com/thoughtlets). These efforts have been in the spirit of Ether 12:27

`And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness, I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.'

Anyway, I almost missed the plane to Salt Lake. This last minute stuff at the airport is becoming a little too common. On the way to Salt Lake I spent time with the Walden 3-D Landmark salesman. He introduced me to a geologist from Unocal. I gave him a ride downtown. While we were waiting at the baggage claim up walks Dr. Larry Cathless from Cornell University. It was really good to see him. He and Roger Anderson and I started the GBRN (Global Basin Research Network) back about 7 years ago. The GBRN is still going, which I had not realized. One of Larry's students has proved that there is an abiotic gas wash which is driving the replenishment of Eugene Island 330, the largest Pliestocene oil field in the world. In my mind, this news proves the dynamic replenishment assumptions behind Dynamic Oil & Gas Corporation (.../9728.html and .../9816.html). It also provided an unreported scientific basis for the Tuesday cover article in The Salt Lake Tribune: `World May Have More Oil Than It Will Ever Need.' I was higher than a kite. Then I took my new friend from Unocal and attempted to drive him downtown Salt Lake. I missed the North Temple exit, I-80 is closed, we went north on I-215, did a U-turn, went south, went back to the airport, took another freeway to the south I didn't know was there, took about 13th south into downtown, and went down West Temple to the Plaza only to find it was closed due to construction. I felt like a fool and lower than a slug. The guys at the airport were saying how Salt Lake is my town and how well I know it. I did have an opportunity to learn about my rider's trip to the west about 5 years ago, when he slipped and fell off a hundred foot cliff during a geologic field trip, breaking bones and having a concussion, and how glad he was to be alive. I got to my hotel about 12:30 AM MST.

Sunday morning started with the Geophysical Integration Committee meeting in the Canyon Room at the Doubletree Hotel from 9:00-12:00. I brought up the Knowledge Backbone work we have done (http://www.walden3d.com/hmc/knowledge_backbone/summary01.html) in response to a couple of indexing problems being faced by subcommittees. The interest expressed by several of the committee members gave me a tremendous high. I went to the 1:00 church service at the 7th Ward in the Eagle Gate Stake. It was a single ward. As I watched the teachers and the kids and saw them struggle to make friends and be noticed by others I thought of where I am and where some of you are and I sunk to a new low.

At 5:00 I went to the AAPG Icebreaker. The first people I met was Ward and Fern Abbott. They are such good people. He retired as the Chief Stratigrapher at Shell and then again at Occidential. Remember when we stayed at their house in Vernal on the golf course one summer? They now have a second very nice house down in Washington, next to St. George. As we were talking Larry Cathles came up and I was able to introduce them and listen as they learned how they could collaborate. Dr. David Jenkins from BP found me and seemed very glad to see me. There are so many good friends from all of the travel and things I have done over the years I was was on a high again by the time Roger Anderson and I left to find someplace to eat. We walked up to Temple Square and Roger had his first opportunity to sit in the Tabernacle and listen to a choir sing. He was impressed and he was not interested in pursuing conversations about this important aspect of my life. We went across the street to JB's, which Roger named the Salt Lake Jo Jo's. I got low as he told me about a mutual friend who was driving next to a cauldera in Iceland the week before in a fog and snow white out and was guiding the truck with a GPS (Global Positioning System) when it went off the edge and dropped 900 feet. Both people in the car were persumed to be dead by Lamont for more than 24 hours. These are Bill Menke's words:

`Falling Through Snow by Bill Menke Last Wednesday I fell 900 feet down a snow covered mountainside on Iceland. We were returning to our seismological field laboratory, in a snug mountaintop hut at Grimsfjall, Iceland, when Bryndis, who was driving our pickup truck, became momentarily confused by the foul weather. I tried to help by looking at the navigation display, and saying "GPS indicates we're moving away from the hut." Bryndis replied, " It's OK, Bill, I have the feel for where we are now." But at that moment the pickup started to roll down a very steep white hill, so smooth that it looked just like a wave. I knew then just where we were. We were rolling over the edge of the cliff that bounded one side of the mountain. I had no sense of the car moving. Just white snow roaring past the car, and a sense of twisting, as in a winding cave or tunnel. The snow snatched at my arms, trying to pull them outward, and I countered with all my strength, inward. Three times I would feel an irresistable force pull me and slam me into the ceiling of the pickup. I did not experience an sense of fear or regret, only an awesome determination to struggle against the wildness. Then came silence. We were at the bottom. What was left of the pickup was right-side up in the snow. Wreckage was strewn everywhere. I exited the pickup through its now glassless front window. I didn't need to look upward to confirm my initial certainty, but did to see the cliff face looming in front of me. I checked myself over, trying to understand why my bright yellow rainsuit was covered with equally bright red blood. Most seemed to be coming from fairly shallow cuts on my hands. The suit, and the ski helmet I had been wearing, had protected the rest of me from the abrasive effect of the snow. Bryndis did not look too good, although I was relieved to see that she was at least alive. She was bleeding from a head wound. From its mishappen shape, I knew that her left arm was broken. Worse still, she seemed very disoriented, saying in a childlike voice that was very uncharacteristic of her normal manner: "What car is this? How did I get into this car?" My hand hurts. She started to climb out. I urged her to be still for the moment, but then helped her when it was clear that was her intention. Her leg was jammed between the seats in some funny way. As I eased it free, I saw that it didn't look too good either. I urged her to rest on the snow, and began to look around to find something to help us keep warm. My state of mind then was very peculiar, almost hyper-rational. Neither then, nor in any time in the ensuing hours before our rescue did I experience any sort of fear or uncertainty. Survival strategies and priorities boomed into being. The world around me was crystal clear. I saw a tent on the snow. It was of course a mountaineering tent that Bryndis has packed in the pickup as an emergency measure. I set it up close to Bryndis and urged her to crawl in, which she did, although she still didn't seem to understand where she was. Looking around, I saw my torsopack, with its water bottle and GPS reciever. I pulled that into the tent after me. I was not happy with the tents proximity to the cliff face, because of avalanches, but didn't dare risk moving Bryndis far. After an hour or so in the tent, Bryndis head started to clear. Unprotected by any sort of helmet, she had taken some nasty blows. Meanwhile, I used my GPS reciever to fix my location. Only 600 feet horizontally from the hut, but 900 feet below it. I also saw that we were 1.5 miles from the base of the road up to the hut. That was bad, for it meant a 3 mile uphill hike. That was certainly impossible for Bryndis. My neck and shoulder injuries were also becoming apparent-it would have been very risky for me, too. I knew that waiting for rescue was our best -maybe only- option. Bryndis and I discussed trying to contact the others in our party, but the car radio had been destroyed. Another pickup and a heavy snow tractor had been with us at the mountain top. Or had they fallen off too? If they had, our chance for rescue was slim. Yet at no time did we give up hope. After a few hours, we began to hear occasional airplanes and once -maybe- a distant snow tractor. Though we knew it couldn't hear us, we sang a song for the sake of solidarity. Bryndis also urged moving the tent, an idea I discouraged because of our poor physical condition and the freezing rain that had begun. This decision almost proved disasterous. An avalanche did begin. We heard it roar down the cliff face above us, a deep thunder that was felt as much as heard. Blocks of snow started to cover the tent, but then suddenly stopped with us only half covered. We were able to get out and drag the now collapsed tent downhill. Before we did, I found some string and flags, and strung them out to leave some kind of sign that we had survived, and to give the general direction in which we had gone. We crawled back into the tent, and resolved to wait it out. I could see that even travelling a few hundred yards had seriously weakened us, and that Bryndis was now having some difficulty breathing. I was shivering badly, and had severe pains in the shoulders and neck. We spent 15 minutes teasing closed the tent-flap zipper. We sipped some water from my packs bottle. We lay with our heads on a piece of foam I pried out of a shipping crate for seismic instruments that was amongst the wreakage. We shivered and we waited. Then, unexpectedly, a hand reached down through the tent from above, and grabbed my shoulder. Rescue had come!! The eight hours we had survived below the mountain was followed by another twelve while the rescuers -an amazing snowmobile-mounted team from the town of Hofn moved us stage by stage to the Reykjavik hospital. But I let my own control blow away like a puff of vapor, left our future in their capable hands. (After describing, as best I could, our injuries to them, of course, and asking for a neck brace.) Our fall and long ordeal has had a curious effect on me. At no time have I felt any anger at its happening, I learned that I have absolutely no fear of death, and that I react very well under stressful circumstances. Virtues, perhaps, but too painfully learned to be worth boasting over. People who know that I am a Christian believer as well as a scientist had asked me the role that my faith played in our survival, and whether the prayers of my friends were in some way efficatious, and what, over all, or survival meant. Good questions perhaps, but not ones that I myself would now ask. During those hours I became faith. There was never a moment when I felt abandoned or cut off. Although I did my utmost to work towards our survival, there was never a moment when I cared whether I would live or die. The experience was vaster than I on an incomprehensible scale. I felt no sorrow, no anguish there on the snow, nor numbness. Perhaps I felt a fierce joy. I was in some crazy way in harmony with all that was happening. I was not so much seeking a prayer-or an answer to a prayer- as I was the prayer, itself. And yet the experience does not really mean much to me in retrospect. I don't see any special message. Terrible things sometimes happen. When they happen, people do what is necessary. Those who survive must pick up the pieces and go on, having been reminded perhaps how precious life is and how much worth living.'

Monday morning started with a meeting from 7:00 to 9:00 in the Canyon Room of the Doubletree Hotel for VPGers (Visiting Petroleum Geologists). I am one of about 40 professionals who visit universities and talk to students about opportunities in the oil and gas industry. There is a real crisis facing the oil and gas industry. Fewer students are studying geological, geophysical, and engineering sciences. The baby boom bubble has past college student ages. And there is projected to be a significant shortage of properly trained scientists. I have been worried about this ever since I was running the Seismic Acoustics Laboratory at The University of Houston. After they talked about more and more student branches of the AAPG (there is a new one at BYU and UT and has been one at A&M for years), and how there has been no growth in the number of visits by VPGers, I talked about the Virtual Seminars we have provided (http://www.virtual-seminars.com). I gave three examples of Virtual Seminars I have done: (1) to 50 people at a conference in Norway (http://www.walden3d.com/w3d/virtual_seminars/VR_Geosciences_25Jun96/index.html); (2) to the University of Santa Cruz (http://www.walden3d.com/w3d/virtual_seminars/UCSC_08May96); and (3) simultaneously to Winona State, Oregon State, and The University of Houston, where they could each send questions during my presentation and I would work answers into the presentation. There was a lot of excitement after my presentation. I was high. Then one of the committee members said, `But if you do this you can't sit down with the students and have a beer.' I responded, `Well I'm Mormon and don't drink beer anyway, and they don't have to look at me in my pyjamas.' Everyone laughted. From this meeting I took a hardcopy of a song I had written about a lady that lives in Salt Lake to her office. She wasn't there and so I just left it. I was definitly insecure and feeling low as I did this. She did have her secretary call on the cell phone and tell me she has been traveling and did not have time to meet me.

Monday evening I went to the University of Utah Open House, also in the Canyon Room at the Doubletree Hotel. There were two professors from campus there. One of them remembered me. He told me about an old chair they discovered called the Deseret Chair which was held by Talmage when he was a professor at Utah. He is attempting to get permanant funding for it to the tune of $1 million. I told him I am interested if we are anywhere near as sucessful as we think we will be. He was suprised and I was on a high. Roger Anderson, Mike Forrest, and Kathy Boyer came and found me and we ended up going to a Brewery for dinner. As they tried the 10 different types of beer, I thought of all of the pain this simple `pleasure' can bring to people, and I was low. I went back to the Travel Lodge early, read some, and went to sleep.

Tuesday morning started with a conference call from John Amason, Ron Burgerner, and Rhonda Hartmann at 5:00 AM Utah time. We spent about an hour working through preparations for a meeting Ron and John and Ed Rogers had with Jeff Hume and Derek Paget-Clark later in the morning. I was concerned and low. At 8:00 I picked up a Jewish friend from PAIRS and gave her a Jewish tour of Salt Lake City. I had listed about 30 key Old Testament scriptures and had her read them to provide a context for an introduction to the first vision, prophets, etc. We started at the `This is the Place Monument.' When we went inside the main building there a good friend from 15 years ago in the Maplewood II Ward walked in and said `Roice Nelson!' It was Vivian Page, who had been the Young Women's President when I was the Young Men's President back in 1980. We had a good visit and I told her about each of your many accomplishments. I was on a high by the time I got my friend down to The Joseph Smith Memorial Building, bought her a Book of Mormon, and walked her through Temple Square.

At 11:30 I met a friend of Harold and Joyce Burnham's for lunch. It was my third `date' since 1970 with anyone other than your Mom. It is more than slightly awkward for me. This was neither a high nor a low. The phone calls following up on the meetings in Houston were positive. Dinner with Roger, Bowen Loftin, Albert Boulanger, and the Energy Innovations contingent was OK. I finished Tuesday feeling like things were settling down and it was neither a high nor a low.

Wednesday morning I picked up Bowen at his Hotel at 6:45 AM to go to the Speaker's breakfast. He was the first speaker and he wanted to review the talk with me again: `Practical Application of Virtual Environments in Exploration and Production' (http://www.walden3d.com/wvs/papers/980520/abstract.html). He did a great job. To my suprise I was a co-author on the second talk in that session: `Identification and 3-D Visualization of Reservoirs Using Interactive Isosurfacing.' The talk was given by Ray Levi of The University of Utah's Energy & Geoscience Institute and was an extension of the isosurfacing work we did last year (.../9740.html). After the talks I spent an hour talking to Roger Anderson's new administrator, Kathy, about the Knowledge Backbone. At noon Roger, Albert, and I practiced an interactive talk, where I was not listed as an author, and yet helped give the presentation. It was given by Roger and was titled: `Drainage Visualized from 4-D Seismic Reservoir Monitoring of Two Gulf of Mexico Fields.' The interactive presentation went quite well, and will be the basis of the work we do for the Aberdeen Conference in July. It was a high to again see a spectrum of the ideas I have helped work on presented at a professional society meeting.

After the talk I took Albert Boulanger and Katy Boyer over to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building to watch the movie Legacy. Remember when we went and saw this movie as a family? We needed to be there 15 minutes early and could not get a seat. That was a low. We ended up sitting around one of the tables and I reviewed the first vision, the Book of Mormon, and the relationship of the restoration to the Catholic church. This was a high. On the way back to The Salt Palace we visited Temple Square and The Church History Museum where I bought them each a copy of The Book of Mormon. While we were waiting to tear down the computer, Andy Roberts, the first Landmark user, formerly with ICI Petroleum and now with Enterprise Oil, and his wife came by. They were visiting the National Parks on a brief vacation and so we called your Aunt Sara on the cell phone and she invited them to stop and say hello to her and her family.

After tearing down the computer, Wei He (one of the three students Gary Jones and I helped pull out of China just after the Tinaman Square massacre, who was on the square two days before the event, and is now one of Roger's best PhD researchers), Albert, Kathy, Larry Cathless, Roger, and I went on a historical tour of the valley and up to Heber. Larry had lived in Salt Lake when he worked for Kenecott Copper and he still said he learned new stuff. We were in two cars and I was describing the Utah War to both cars via cell phones with numbers from New York and Austin. We drove up to Heber and saw Uncle Glenn. He fed the fish for them and we tried to catch one with a fly pole. Then we had a very nice dinner at The Homestead in Midway. It was Albert's birthday. I still found myself answering a lot of questions about the church. I ended up getting my scriptures out of the car and reading III Nephi 8:5-22. It was fascinating to listen to these earth scientists react to this description of volcanic and earthquake activity. Then I read III Nephi 11:1-12, about when the Savior came to the Americas. Albert told us Wednesday was the celebration of the assention. They asked how the church all started, and so I read them Joseph Smith History 1:8-20. As professors and staff at major New York Universities, everyone at the table understood the significance of verse 19 where Joseph was taught:

`... all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof."'

The evening was a real high. I was one of the designated drivers on the way back down the mountain. When a deer ran in front of the Jeep and I just barely missed it, it was almost a significant low. Breaks screached, and I definitly remembered the night Paul had a deer jump in front of our car on the way to Utah after Christmas. I got back to the Travel Lodge about midnight Wednesday.

My flight to Houston was at 7:00 the next morning. I was about 15 minutes late for a meeting with John, Ron, Jeff, Cindy, and Derek Paget-Clark. The meeting rambled and was a low for me. That night I vegged out in front of the TV. I watched a `man's movie:' `The Dirty Dozen.' At 6:30 the next morning I was at the Highway 6 Crowne Plaza for a meeting with Jeff and the Norwegian Investor Kjell Findstat. It was OK, and yet there did not seem to be much meat discussed. I felt out in the dark. John Mouton showed up for a meeting with him at 7:00. John is raising about $3 million for his new reservoir simulation software company in Austin. He told Findstat that Landmark would have gone bust if it hadn't been for me. That was very nice, and went a long way towards helping what happened later in the week. I went down to Energy Innovations and worked with Richard Uden on the Rudman 3-D Project for a while. Then I went back to the house, finished laundry, ironed my shirts, and packed for the trip to Albequerque. I was talking to Mic Patterson on the phone when Ron Burgerner got to the house. Roice, you were at lunch and so I didn't get to talk to you. After Ron briefed me I left for Intercontinental Airport. I had a hard time parking and was about 20 minutes late getting to the Continental President's Club to meet Jeff, Cindy, Kjell Findstat, and Pal Rullestad. We were met at the airport in Albequerque by Doug and Brian and taken to the Hilton Downtown. Then we went to the Petroleum Club for a very fancy dinner. The evening was a high.

The next morning we met at 8:00, went to MuSE, reviewed our plans, gave Kjell a demonstration, had a planning meeting, and reached a verbal agreement. By this part of the week I was mixed up on highs and lows. They seemed to come every 15 minutes. The terms of the verbal agreement we reached are much different than we thought going in. WVS will become part of a new company, possibly named PReceptual IMmersive Environments (PRIME) Corporation. We will start out with a small percent ownership, and this will grow to 30% ownership over six months as we meet milestones of putting service centers in Houston, London, and Stravanger. The center in London will probably be on Exhibition Road where the Hyde Park Chapel is (.../9819.html). There will be an initial investment of $7 million and a loan of $5 million. This is quite different than the $30 million we had been told. There is still another $6-8 million investment being talked about. I will be one of 3 board members until the company is valued in excess of $100 million. There will be no personal liabilities beyond the shares we each will hold. That afternoon when I called John, Ron, and Rhonda they were all very high. I was down because I didn't have family to share the news with. I felt cheated and low.

Pal, Kjell, and I had a nice dinner with Creve Maples and his wife. I could easily write a couple of pages about the dinner conversation, and I will spare you the reading. Creave is as probably more intelligent than Bavinger. His insights and stories are absolutely fascinating. If any of you have interest, ask me sometime when there is a lull at Ben and Sarah's wedding activities. Pal, Kjell, and I caught a 7:00 flight back to Houston this morning. On the way I learned Kjell is buying 2 million acres of forest land in Nicaragua. He wants to do something like our Intelligent Habitat Project on the property. It was a significant high to listen to his plans and to be able to integrate them into what we have been working on. I made it to church in time for Priesthood meeting. I stayed for the Westlake Sacrament Meeting. After I called Rob, and probably partly as a normal letdown to all of the excitment of the week, I was sufficiently low I went upstairs and beat the matress for a while. After I started to write this Thoughtlet, I took a break and watched the 1953 movie `Calamite Jane' staring Doris Day, and then finished this. It helps to call Mom and Grandma and talk to them a little each week. I guess I feel fine now.

I do hope each of you will do better than I have done this week of monitoring and smoothing out your highs and lows."

I'm interested in sharing weekly a "thoughtlet" (little statements of big thoughts which mean a lot to me) with you because I know how important the written word can be. I am concerned about how easy it is to drift and forget our roots and our potential among all of distractions of daily life. If you ever want to download any of these thoughtlets, they are posted at http://www.walden3d.com/thoughtlets or you can e-mail me at rnelson@walden3d.com.

With all my love,
(H. Roice Nelson, Jr.)

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Copyright © 1998 H. Roice Nelson, Jr.