Rolling towards the end of the year leads to reflection. We began the year in an increasing flurry of activity. Rigs were scarce, or completely unavailable, crews were stretched flat out, oil was headed to $150 per barrel and the high price of oil made nationalization of resources a favorite option. But oh how things have changed. Oil is at $46 and change, the economy is "officially" in recession, projects are being cancelled and hiring freezes and layoffs are beginning. All in the space of six months. Many people are aghast. White beards like me are mildly irritated. We promised if the good lord gave us just one more boom we would not *&^%@ it away. We lied. We were no more prepared for this down cycle than any of the others - and that is at least four in my memory. Okay, you are probably thinking, if you are so mature and wise and have seen it all, what happens next? Beats me. The previous downturns I have seen have been stopped for differing reasons. What I do know is that when the upturn begins, we won't be ready and, in fact, will have done ourselves immeasurable harm by shedding valuable professionals and devaluing our inventory of equipment. We won't have enough people, we won't have enough equipment and we will still wonder why we didn't see it coming. It's a cyclical business. Many, including myself, try every time to believe it is not. But it is, just as the economy is cyclical and life in general is cyclical. How long will it last. The key indicator will be the early months of next year when we learn exactly how sharply companies have trimmed their budgets. If the cuts are deep, don't look for much recovery next year short of a war - driven elimination of a major supplier. But, maybe you know more than we do. Actually you probably know more than we do. Given that, try your hand at our new online contest. The reader who guesses closest to the Dec. 31close of NYMEX sweet, light crude will win a $100 American Express gift card. Good luck. Bill