SedgeCo, a fictional WTF company.



  • I should say straight off that this is a) fictional, and b) nothing to
    do with computers. But I thought you might find it amusing. It's the
    backstory to a series of university Geological Sciences questions.
    I'sve cut the actual questions of course.



    ******



    The expenses of your mapping project in Devon (Exercise 1) have raised
    your overdraft to a level where the charges are frighteningly high. You
    are forced to earn some cash. You take a vacation job with the newly
    formed Sedgco geological consultancy. They pay a pitifully low hourly
    rate, but you hope to gain more useful geological experience than you
    would serving behind the bar in the Fold and Firkin.





    Sedgco have won a contract to establish the feasibility of reopening
    Cornish tin mines. The personnel director says rather ominously “if you
    survive this job we’ll pay you a good bonus”. The old Trebucket mine
    looks the best economic prospect, but the mineral rights and mine plan
    are owned by a rival company. Your job is to make an accurate survey of
    the existing workings to assess whether a bid for the rights is
    worthwhile. You will need to combine stealth and courage with skill on
    the stereonet to complete the expedition in three-quarters of an hour.
    By that time you will have received the maximum recommended annual
    radiation dose from inhaling radon gas in the unventilated mine.





    Memorize the following sheet of instructions then swallow it.



    (questions)



     



    If your mission has been completed successfully you should now be back
    at the ground surface exactly where you started. If you have kept
    within your time schedule you have increased your chance of contracting
    lung cancer by about 0.05%, about 4 times the annual risk of being
    killed in a road accident. Because you are not a full-time employee,
    Sedgco will be unable to accept any liability if you begin to suffer.
    The company may well be bankrupt by then if the Trebucket prospect does
    not pay off.



    ...1 year later...



     



    You have graduated with a degree in Geological Sciences and apply for a
    job with the Sedgco consultancy. Their letter comes out of the blue,
    just as your hopes of a steady job are fading.





    “...You will be pleased to know that, although the Trebucket prospect
    proved uneconomic as a tin mine, your surveying showed that it was
    ideal for conversion to a tourist attraction. Sedgco have leased the
    site and sold the franchise for The Trebucket Mine Experience for a
    considerable profit. This deal and the annual royalties allow us to
    expand our permanent geological staff. We were impressed by the
    efficiency and accuracy of your work at Trebucket, and would like to
    offer you the post of Junior Geologist attached to our South West
    England Assessment Team (SWEAT).....”





    You accept this offer, of course.





    Sedgco’s current major contract has been won from the Petrobucks UK plc
    oil company. They require a GIS (Geographic Information System)
    computer database to chart the space/time location and extent of the
    main stratigraphic unconformities in the British Isles. You are to help
    in setting up the database for this project, code-named RUDE (Regional
    Unconformity Description Exercise), by abstracting information from the
    1:250,000 geological maps published by the British Geological Survey.





    Your first task is the Portland sheet, covering the east Devon and
    Dorset segment of the south coast of England. Work through the
    following extract for Sedgco’s instruction manual for the RUDE job.



    (questions)



     ...



     



    SWEAT (Sedgco’s Southwest England Assessment Team) is currently
    carrying out a structural description of the Variscan Belt of Devon and
    Cornwall, on contract to the Petrobucks oil company. Although not
    themselves a petroleum play, the Devonian and Carboniferous rocks of
    the Variscan Belt continue eastwards beneath the productive Mesozoic
    Wessex Basin of south and southeast England. Variscan structures have
    been reactivated during Mesozoic time to control sedimentation in the
    Wessex Basin and again in Cenozoic time to deform the basin rocks and
    create structural traps for petroleum. Petrobucks therefore thinks that
    characterizing the structural style of the Variscan basement is
    important for its future development of the Wessex Basin.





    Impressed by your work on the RUDE job, the Chief Geologist of SWEAT
    (the Big Sweat, to colleagues), promotes you to Team Geologist, issues
    you with a company bicycle, and sends you to Devon and Cornwall to
    collect data on folds.



    (questions)



     



    You will explore the geometry of these folds in more detail in Phase 2. Meanwhile, on your bike and back to the tent........



    ...



     



    You have not been sleeping well at night. This is partly because
    Sedgco’s company tent is not fully waterproof, but mainly because you
    are worrying about the extraordinary geological structure between
    Widemouth Bay and Millook Haven (Practical 4). You can understand how
    crustal shortening produces folds with near-vertical axial planes, but
    what produces recumbent folds (with near-horizontal axial planes). Did
    the folds form in that orientation by vertical shortening? Did they
    form as upright folds, only to be sheared over later into a recumbent
    attitude? Maybe a more detailed study of the folds will provide some
    answers and give you some peace of mind?



    (questions)



     ...



     



    Back at head office, you barely have time to submit your report on the
    Variscan folds of southwest England (exercises 4 and 5) to the Chief
    Geologist before you are summoned by Sedgco’s Managing Director
    herself. Her opening words are not reassuring. “Sedgco is having to do
    a bit of restructuring”. But even as your mind turns to life on the
    dole, you hear the boss continuing. “We’ve been impressed by your work
    with SWEAT. We’d like to promote you to Assistant to the Chief
    Geologist.” Overcome by relief and euphoria, you register only snatches
    of the explanation. “He’s been overworked recently . . . . . drinks
    more than he should . . . . . geological judgement not what it used to
    be . . . . . needs a steady type like yourself around . . . . . keep an
    eye on him . . .” You only refocus as the M. D. becomes more specific.
    “We’ve an important job to do for Megaform Construction. Looking at the
    strength of the rock foundations beneath a proposed water supply dam in
    Dorset. Get the tests done will you. But make sure the Chief Geologist
    is sober when he assesses them. Don’t want half of Hardy Country washed
    away do we? You can handle a Mohr diagram can’t you?” You are
    cheerfully shown the door before you can answer no to either of these
    questions.



     (questions)



     



    At this point in your analysis the Chief Geologist lurches unsteadily
    into the room, and stares at your results through a haze of constantly
    emitted whisky vapour. “Exshellent work” he slurs “I can shtill read a
    shtress diagram y’know. They don’t call me Mohr-the-merrier for
    nothing. These reshults. . . . . Jusht what Megaform will want to hear.
    I’ll shend them by shpeshial courier right away.” You sit transfixed in
    your chair, watching him weave back out of the room with copies of your
    plots, and hearing him richochet down the corridor.





    When you recover your composure, you remember uneasily that there were
    two other safety factors that you wanted to check out. The first is the
    effect of the existing fractures in the bedrock that you observed. The
    unfractured parts of the core that you have tested will give an
    optimistic measure of the strength of the rock mass in the field. The
    second effect is of raised pore pressures below the dam. After all, it
    is going to impound a reservoir with up to 40m depth of water.



    (questions)



     



    Your full analysis now looks positively alarming.





    By the time you finish, the preliminary results are en route to
    Megaform, the Chief Geologist has left for home “feeling unwell”, and
    the Managing Director is out of town in a meeting with Petrobucks UK.
    It’s time to take matters into your own hands. Nothing less than the
    good name of Sedgco is at stake. You gather up your revised safety
    analysis and sprint out of the building. Pointing your bicycle towards
    Megaform House, you begin to rehearse your explanation to their Project
    Director . . . . . . . .



    ...



     



    The Managing Director came straight to the point. “We’ve sacked the
    Chief Geologist” she said. “Can’t have him creating yesterday’s sort of
    havoc. Even the Project Director of Megaform could see that the dam
    safety analysis (Exercise 6) was incomplete. Your swift intervention
    saved the day. The other directors and I owe you a large debt of
    gratitude.” Your mind races fancifully. How far might Sedgco’s
    generosity extend? To a desk and chair of you own? To an 18-speed
    bicycle? Even to a waterproof tent? But the reality leaves you almost
    speechless. “We’d like you to take over as Chief Geologist. We know
    that you have the geological knowledge. Now you’ve proved that you have
    the initiative, decisiveness and tact. You’ll get an office of your
    own, of course, and we’ll swap your bicycle for a bottom-of-the-range
    BMW.” Even this enforced switch to an inefficient and outmoded form of
    transport doesn’t prevent you mouthing your astonished acceptance. The
    MD has one further enigmatic snippet of explanation. “You weren’t to
    know that Megaform Construction is a subsidiary of the the Petrobucks
    oil company. We’re particularly keen to keep in their good books just
    now. Confidential stuff. Can’t explain now. You'll hear about it at
    this afternoon’s board meeting anyway. Did I say that the Chief
    Geologist has a non-voting seat on the Board?”





    Still in a state of shock at your meteoritic rise up the company, you
    reel to your new office. On top of the in-tray is a letter from
    Petrobucks UK. “Thank you for the results of SWEAT Phase II on Variscan
    fold styles. We would like to commission some additional information on
    the bizarre vein structures visible in a number of your photographs.
    Sheet P7.2 shows some examples. None of our geologists here can explain
    them. How do they form? Might they have provided migration routes for
    fluid hydrocarbons? Please provide a short report within two days.
    Charge at the usual rate of £1000 per day (VAT included).”





    You immediately recognise the structures on P7.2 as shear zones. Better
    do this job yourself. You force out of your mind for the moment the
    glaring discrepancy between what Petrobucks pay Sedgco and what Sedgco
    pays you. You start to revise your understanding of how shear zones
    work.



    (questions)



     



    This seems enough information for the basis of a report to Petrobucks.
    You type your report over lunchtime, charge it to Petrobucks as a full
    days work, then nervously attend your first board meeting. Some of the
    proceedings are within even your inexperienced grasp. You listen
    attentively but barely noticed at one corner of the large boardroom
    table. The reason for the Directors’ obsequious attitude to Petrobucks
    becomes clear. Petrobucks have made a takeover offer for Sedgco. There
    is much discussion over the adequacy of the bid and how much this means
    per share. But by mid-afternoon the deal is approved and the Managing
    Director phones Sedgco’s agreement to the President of Petrobucks. The
    news will be released to the media in the morning. You are seeing a
    small bit of geological history made.





    There is a rather chaotic end to the meeting, which you do not
    understand. Instead of sharing handshakes and a small glass of
    something from the drinks cabinet, the directors all turn their backs,
    prod their mobile phones furtively, and then have short, barely
    polysyllabic exchanges. “A thousand.” “Yes, Sedgco.” “Just buy.” “Any
    price.” “Now.” What obscure aspect of company ritual is this, you think
    as you leave the boardroom for home. You must ask your City friend in
    the Fold and Firkin tonight. Who is it he works for? The Department of
    Trade and Industry? . . . . . . .



    ...it's not hard to see this coming...



     



    You are woken as usual by your radio alarm. Fragments of the financial
    news begin to permeate your semi-consciousness. “. . . . Megabucks oil
    company in take-over bid for Sedgco. . . . . dynamic young geological
    consultancy. . . . .Sedgco share price soared on early trading. . . .”
    You remember with some pride your new role as Chief Geologist, and
    dress a shade more sharply as a result. A slice of toast later you
    slide into the BMW, bring it purring to life, and nose into the morning
    traffic. The journey to Sedgco HQ takes half an hour rather than the
    ten minutes on the bike. The parking space labelled Chief Geologist is
    already filled, by a car marked Department of Trade and Industry.
    Inside the building there is an air of tension. “They’re interviewing
    them all.,” explained the receptionist. “All the directors. The people
    from the DTI. Something about insider share dealing. Said they might
    need to see you later in the day. I don’t understand what’s going on.”
    But you do. Yesterday’s takeover discussions, the performance with the
    mobile phones – yes, it’s all beginning to make sense.





    But this isn’t your problem. The geological show must go on. On top of
    your in-tray is an urgent query from the SWEAT team, about constructing
    a cross section through the Variscan structures in the Bristol area.
    They have sent you part of a north-south section across roughly
    east-west thrust faults cutting Devonian and Carboniferous rocks near
    Bristol (sheet 8.2). Is this part of the section geologically
    plausible, they ask? They have drawn the surface structure over the
    remaining part of the section, but how does it continue at depth? How
    do you work out the amount of shortening across the section?



     (questions)



     



    Well satisfied with your labours on the SWEAT section, you down tools
    and glance out of the office window. Two police cars have parked by the
    main entrance. Even as you watch, the Sedgco directors are led firmly
    out of the building, guided into the waiting vehicles and driven
    speedily away. Simultaneously a black Mercedes sweeps effortlessly up
    to the entrance and disgorges a corpulent figure with an expensive suit
    and a large cigar. You recognize him immediately from his photographs
    in the financial pages: the President of the Petrobucks oil company.
    Within minutes he is politely admitting himself to your room. “I have a
    problem,” he confides, subsiding wearily into a chair. “I’ve just
    bought a company with no directors. Caught doing crooked share deals,
    every one of them. The Petrobucks board will handle the strategic and
    financial decisions, of course. But we need someone to head up the
    geological operation here.” You sense what’s coming, and have time to
    compose a calm affirmative answer. “You’re the most senior member of
    the company to have kept a clean nose in this business. Sharp and
    energetic too I hear. Would you be willing to take over as Managing
    Director. . . . .”





    You relax back into the rich leather of the Managing Director’s chair,
    allowing yourself a few moments reflection on your fast and fortunate
    promotion through the Sedgco hierarchy. Sometimes it only seems a
    matter of weeks rather than years since that first temporary job with
    the company. How much you’ve learned. How much valuable experience
    you’ve gained. . . . . So what’s first in the in-tray? A letter
    addressed from a Cambridge college. “I have completed my second year
    reading geology in the Natural Sciences Tripos in Cambridge. I have
    just finished my mapping project in the Hartland area of north Devon
    and have additional field experience in Cornwall, Dorset, northwest
    England and Arran. I am keen to get work experience in a geological
    consultancy such as yours, and am writing to enquire whether you have
    any vacancies for temporary staff. . . . .” An ironic smile creases
    your face. This is exactly where you came in. . . . .




  • While I am willing to read such a long, no doubt boring story if it's real, if it never even happened, why are you posting it here?



  • This really has me scratching my head.



  • Because it's Fing funny, that's why.

     



  • SedgCo (spelt correctly :P) for the win, dude. It's not really a WTF, but I liked those questions too. Beware, the other course setters don't have such an amusing style and the questions get less interesting :P.

     Hope you're enjoying the course - I finished my fourth year this summer.



  • [quote user="bugmenot"]While I am willing to read such a long, no doubt boring story if it's real, if it never even happened, why are you posting it here?
    [/quote]

     Because it's absolutely hilarious, the situations the reader supposedly enters.  The instructor is quite creative.  While this assignment might have been hard, I suspect it was quite entertaining, in order to keep you interested, and elicit the odd chuckle in between hard work.

     

     



  • I don't know if it's absolutely hillarious, but it is humorous and entertaining, and it's a welcome big of diversion from an otherwise enormous test.



  • Each set of questions is a separate exercise, so this is pretty much the whole course (on structural geology, not the whole 3rd year geology course!) - it's spread over a couple of weeks' worth of sessions.



  • [quote user="m0ffx"]I should say straight off that this is a) fictional, and b) nothing to
    do with computers. [/quote]

     

    Maybe it's just me but I stopped reading after that. 



  • Wasn't this an Infocom game?



  • [quote user="R.Flowers"]Wasn't this an Infocom game?
    [/quote]

     No.
    Bob Janova has it right on, of course, it's from a series of 7 1-2 hour
    exercises (actually, series of 8, I dropped the first).

     And yeah the course is going well.

    And doh! at myself for mis-spelling SedgCo. 



  • [quote user="m0ffx"]

    [quote user="R.Flowers"]Wasn't this an Infocom game?
    [/quote]

     No.
    Bob Janova has it right on, of course, it's from a series of 7 1-2 hour
    exercises (actually, series of 8, I dropped the first).

    [/quote]

    Well, I was trying to make a joke. It does remind me of an Infocom game's background literature, or maybe part of a walk through. Something like those Douglas Adams authored. 



  • [quote user="GoatCheez"]
    [quote user="m0ffx"]I should say straight off that this is a) fictional, and b) nothing to do with computers. [/quote]
    Maybe it's just me but I stopped reading after that. [/quote]

    Your loss. It was very funny. :-)


    Wallsy.



  • [quote user="GoatCheez"]

    [quote user="m0ffx"]I should say straight off that this is a) fictional, and b) nothing to
    do with computers. [/quote]

     

    Maybe it's just me but I stopped reading after that. 

    [/quote]


    Possibly you're just a bit boring and one-dimensional.

    Eccentric questions are fairly common on exam papers in general, I find. An OCR maths exam I did had a question involving fictional EU regulations about what could be considered crusty bread; the answer to one of the questions (what's the biggest loaf of bread that could be considered crusty) involved a 6 meter diameter sphere of bread...


  • [quote user="rsynnott"][quote user="GoatCheez"]

    [quote user="m0ffx"]I should say straight off that this is a) fictional, and b) nothing to
    do with computers. [/quote]

     

    Maybe it's just me but I stopped reading after that. 

    [/quote]


    Possibly you're just a bit boring and one-dimensional.
    [/quote]
     Hey, way to casually flame!
     
    [quote user="rsynnott"]

    ... An OCR maths exam I did had a question involving fictional EU regulations about what could be considered crusty bread...

    [/quote]

    Are you sure they were fictional EU regulations?



  • [quote user="R.Flowers"][quote user="m0ffx"]

    [quote user="R.Flowers"]Wasn't this an Infocom game?
    [/quote]

     No.
    Bob Janova has it right on, of course, it's from a series of 7 1-2 hour
    exercises (actually, series of 8, I dropped the first).

    [/quote]

    Well, I was trying to make a joke. It does remind me of an Infocom game's background literature, or maybe part of a walk through. Something like those Douglas Adams authored. 

    [/quote]

    I had the same thought (at least for the first page and a half or so; after that I started nodding off).

     



  • [quote user="cconroy"][quote user="R.Flowers"]

    Well, I was trying to make a joke. It does remind
    me of an Infocom game's background literature, or maybe part of a walk
    through. Something like those Douglas Adams authored. 

    [/quote]

    I had the same thought (at least for the first page and a half or so; after that I started nodding off).

     

    [/quote]

    You nodded off? Perhaps you're a bit boring and one-dimensional. :) 


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