Today was the first of five days of events associated with the conference Paste 2014. One course today; two courses tomorrow; and then three days of papers and presentations. So last night out drinking with old friends come to the conference. Today a long ride around Vancouver with one who survived last night’s drinking–we lunched at The Bridges at Granville Island. And we explored all the things right & wrong with tailings management. And lost loves and failed marriages. In the sun and trees of a perfect summer day, who cares about these things. They are past and only the present and future count.
Well except that the future includes conference presentations. We are presenting our paper on Wednesday in the late afternoon. Who wants to listen to us at five o’clock? I sure don’t. In my humble opinion, all conference presentations should end at 3:30 or 4:00pm at the latest. Does anybody care what anybody says after four on a sunny day in Vancouver? I do not, but the organizers of conferences believe in making life as unpleasant as possible when they arrange paper presentation schedules.
I shall surely skip the session on beach slope prediction. I have read all the papers and it is all the same: a vast & furious fight between opposing camps. They hate one another. They disparage one another. They denigrate each others methods and approaches. Here is an extract from one such:
May I invite you to specifically review the paper by X. It rubbishes everyone’s beach prediction method but his own – which is quite normal for X his cohorts. However, he goes out of his way to show that my method is flawed in that it has no closed solution (so he maintains) which is strange because he was part of the 2011 beaching workshop where I fully explained my method, and where he was part of Y’s process of putting all of our methods into his own independent spreadsheet to prove they are all credible. It really is time that the industry came to grips with the problems with rheological testing at low shear rates because any empirical method that develops equations for beach prediction using dodgy rheology is surely going to result in dodgy equations. And this, unfortunately, is a second issue with the contents of X’s paper. His rheological parameters are not sensible given the %solids of the slurries, the particle size distributions of the tailings, and the beach slopes he is measuring.
And so on! The truth is they are all wrong. I have met only one person who agrees with me on this point: Murry Friedland of SoilVision. We agree that the only correct approach is to use the 3-D finite difference method that models delta formation. In fact Murry tells me he is writing such a code right now. That will blow the pontificating priests of beach modelling to their own hell where they can debate the ass of an elephant in perpetuity and still fail to recognize they are fawning over an elephant. At least in hell they will have no conference audience.
I will also skip the sessions on the effects of adding polymers to oil sand tailings. Too many papers on mixing tailings and polymers and measuring the settling rate in a lab cylinder. It simply does not happen like that in the field. Sure it makes for easy lab work and yet another paper–but why bother?
Maybe I will listen to a keynote address or two. Generally they are entertaining if not too egotistical.
So we go. You too can go to conferences to watch the egos on display. But there is of course another reason to go to conferences: to drink and ride with friends. That is what it is all about. So stop the talking at 4pm so we can get to the true business at hand.