Monday, December 31, 2007
I walk into work a few minutes before midnight and the new year and get handed a load of crap. We've got a problem creating one of our final products. It's complicated, confusing and just plain doesn't work like any of our documentation states it should. Fucking bits and bytes, one's and zero's, formats, formulas, algorithms and unrecognizable errors.
While the entire ship's company gathers on the bridge wing for fireworks (see emergency flares), I sit at my computer, contemplating a steaming pile of shit that is our first attempt at our final product. I've not had my first cuppa joe and I'm calculating expected file sizes, examining error logs and wracking my brain for an answer. Midnight passes and I take no notice. I have no time to wonder what the new year will bring, as it's first gift sits before me, steaming and noxious.
OK, enough self-pity and bitter frustration, but I really had to get that off my chest. I told myself that I would attempt to post regularly during this trip, if for no other reason than to give myself a much-needed break and diversion, during my shifts, knowing they would exceed the standard 12 hours and be full of nasties like the one -hold on, I have an urgent message from an engineer onshore....OK, I'm hot swapping data disks (good fun, that) so I'll have to get back to you people later....
...shit like this makes me feel like one of the astronauts on Apollo 13. Here I am in my little ship, getting instructions on how to perform a mission-critical task from a controller thousands of miles away. He can't see what I see and I don't have access to the data he's using to make decisions and communications are lousy. We keep hitting the dead band and must be floating close to gimbal-lock. Yes, Blondie, sometimes I feel like yelling, "I don't need to hear the obvious. I got the frappin' eight-ball right in front of me!", as I try to pilot this dying ship, but I might be on VOX...
Anyway, I was going to do a little post-by-post tour of the ship and had planned to write about the gym on here, but instead I'll post a shot of the theatre since I never use it, have little to say about it and can close out this, the first post of 2008. The theatre; it's large, with comfortable-looking leather chairs and a big TV.
Happy New Year, Landlubbers!
Saturday, December 29, 2007
We're now heading into a turn, which could get dicey for the towed gear and will really liven things up in here. My opposite should be heading to the rack soon and I suspect he may find it difficult to sleep. He's had little, or no practice wedging himself into a rack and you always fall out the first few times:) I've now a chair with no wheels so I'm not rolling around the room and the other chairs are firmly wedged. Thank God PW found me a proper coffee mug, too. Hey honey, this isn't a hurricane, but the mug hasn't budged an inch, nor spilt a drop! I LOVE YOU.
Yesterday, my plans for a leisurely, 10K run were ruined by the Saturday Drill. Because safety is a big issue out here, we have to cross-train in a variety of areas, both emergency and operational. Normally, a drill is one either a fire, man-overboard, abandon-ship, or a chemical spill exercise. Yesterday, we mustered then broke into small groups, each completing a round-robin tour of several stations where we trained on different life-saving equipment, in order that anyone on the crew can take over any other crew member's duties during any type of emergency. The training included, pyrotechnics and tow-rope rocket launcher, defibrillator and First Responder gear, such as ventilators, oxygen, etc., life boat davit launching and operation, life raft launching, life vest maintenance, and EPIRB operation.
It's a lot of STUFF for a guy who's been hired to sit and run computers for a living, but I enjoy those bits and bobs, especially the fire-fighting, which is the most critical of all emergency operations because we have nowhere to go if fire breaks out. we had a fire drill last week, but I'm new to the vessel and wasn't placed on a fire team. I have to sit with the spuds and wait to be called on to monitor for hot spots, or perform boundary cooling around a burning section. Boring, but necessary, too.
After our drill, we retired to the mess, where we had a quick, general safety meeting then listened to a presentation on marine mammals and sea birds, given by one of the certified, Marine Mammal Observers onboard. It was pretty good, despite none of the material being new to me. I trained to be a certified MMO during a hitch back in 2005. Still, most of the crew were unfamiliar with the subject and it was a good refresher for me. It was also nice to find out which whales, dolphins, manatees and sea birds are expected down here.
Last week, the gun mechanics rescued a very tired sea bird and after rehabilitating him, set him free, again. I missed seeing the little dude, but saw his picture during the presentation and he looked pretty damn wore out from the bad weather of late.
Finally, I have one of those coveted, corner offices here. Well, they are not coveted here, but you know what I mean. It's adjacent to a door that leads to a changing room, which in turn leads to the back deck where all the gear is stored and deployed from. I step out there from time to time to get some "fresh" air and this is what I see while "relaxing". That reel is about 25 feet high and I'm surrounded by eight of them.
Friday, December 28, 2007
In the quest to transform myself from Jelly Roll Man, to a leaner, meaner pirate, I finally dumped work at shift change (or only a little, tiny bit after) and stomped down to the gym for the first time in 5 days. I pushed through another 12.5KM on the elliptical machine and hope to arrive at the second village, Penzance, sometime tomorrow morning. I also modified my goal for the trip, from and unrealistic 389KM to Gloucester, to a reasonable 240-some KM to a town called Taunton, which reminds of a city mentioned in a book I read long ago, called Deep Taunton. In an attempt to foil my grandiose plans of loosing a few pounds, our chef prepared custard and whipped cream-filled pastries, walking out with a fresh tray right in front of me as I headed for a post-workout snack of dry toast and yogurt. Bastard. Yes, I folded like a house of cards in an earthquake.
What else? oh, while bobbing around at sea, 15,000 miles from home, I read online that my cell phone bill will increase due to Michigan trying to soak every last dime out of everything they can, which, if I read correctly in a previous article, includes a tax on baby shoe bronzing. Yes, it was specifically mentioned in the tax notice. Baby shoe bronzers ( you know, those people who smell like burnt metal and reside in the dark places us common folk pretend to ignore, but steer away from as if Satan himself waited among the shadows, but I digress...)need to band together and stand up to the Man. And while they're at it, they need to something about my cell phone bill.
That's a wrap from down here in the Southern Ocean. Weather and work suck, in tandem and I'm tired of both. Be good up there, or Ill break out my estoppel-yes, its sharp and I'm just itching to use it...
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Have you ever started a post without a clue as to what you plan to write about? I opened this up without thinking, once I'd read everyone's blogs, checked my emails, both work and personal, and put some music on. Hmm, subconsciously preparing to blog. I assume that my subconscious mind opened this post because it has something it desperately wants to convey to you................................and I'm waiting for it to take over and do the deed........................
Nada, my subconscious is pulling a classic, turtle head maneuver. I'm not impressed. Nor do I have anything relevant, witty, or interesting to say, myself. In fact, I'm listening to Mozart's piano concerto no. 20 and it's very nice wake up music. Makes me want to drift off for a nap and I may just do that for 10 minutes, or so...
Ok, waking up to his majesty's symphony No. 40 in G-minor, I read an intellectual property copyright on one of my work documents, as sort of manual for powering my system on and off. Therein lie the following statements:
No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, blah, blah...translated into any language, or computer language in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, magnetic, optical, chemical, maunal, or otherwise...blah, blah, blah... OR OTHERWISE? As if electronic, mechanical, magnetic, optical, chemical and manual don't cover the bases! What other methods do we use to reproduce, or store information? I must have missed a few emerging technologies..then I read:
Each individual document published by (Large Corporation X) may contain , blah, blah, blah.....as conferring by implication, estoppel, or otherwise....
So, I have to look up the word estoppel. It's like getting a new tool for Christmas. you want to go build something with it, right away. This Christmas I built our new wine rack with the screwdrivers my son gave me. So, off to Wikipedia to check out my new tool...is it a hammer, or a saw, clamp, or perhaps a wrench to tighten up my prose-I can't wait! and this is what I find:
Estoppel is a legal doctrine recognised both at common law and in equity in various forms. It is meant to complement the requirement of consideration in contract law. In general it protects a party who would suffer detriment if:
* The defendant has done or said something to induce an expectation
* The plaintiff relied (reasonably) on the expectation...
* ...and would suffer detriment if that expectation were false.
Unconscionability by the defendant has been accepted as another element by courts, in an attempt to unify the many individual rules of estoppel.
Estoppel is generally only a defense that prevents a representor from enforcing legal rights, or from relying on a set of facts that would give rise to enforceable rights (e.g. words said or actions performed) if that enforcement or reliance would be unfair to the representee. Because its effect is to defeat generally enforceable legal rights, the scope of the remedy is often limited. Note, however, that proprietary estoppel (applicable in English land law) can be both a sword and a shield and the scope of its remedy is wide.
A sword and a shield!! and the scope of it's remedy is wide. HA! Leave a nasty comment on here and I'll cut you!
Yep, another tool in the tool box and this time it's a sword and a shield. This is why they say the pen is mightier than the sword-cause it's a shield, too. I'm now an armed and shielded knight among bloggers...to my steed and away to slay yon dragon with my estoppel!
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
On this ship I have my own office, just off the instrument room where all the activity taks place, steering the ship, monitoring and driving the in-sea gear, as well as recording and QC of the data we collect. On my last ship, I sat in the middle of instrument room, with 8 people directly behind my back, talking and shouting at each other. It's strange, quiet and a little lonely sitting in my office, here-this after complaining about the distractions and wearing my headphones for a year...still I'm getting work done a bit easier here and I have exponentially more to do now, without another senior to share the administrative tasks with.
Speaking of differences, this ship contains quite a few women. There are at least 3 on my shift and possibly 8 on the whole crew, though I'm not sure-I still haven't met everyone and am familiar with only a few of the crew from days gone by, or my last trip on here in '05-'06. That reminds me to say a few words about "The Admiral".
I've finally found out that one of my old captains as well as one of my favorites, has retired. We lost touch after I was last on here and I found that he retired after guiding this ship through a category 5 hurricane off of Australia, on the trip following mine. He and I went through 3 hurricanes during one 5 week trip off the coast of Newfoundland back in the '90's and at that time he vowed to retire if he ever got caught in another. Ten years later he was true to his word. I will miss him and our nightly, world politics arguments over coffee and cigarettes, in the day room. He was from Germany and has been at sea over 40 years. He had a great sense of humor and knew his place in this world.
I will always remember the time I received a phone call while I was sleeping off-shift. He answered it for me. It was from my brother, to inform me that a family member had been struck very ill (not PW, or the kids). This captain knew me well enough to know that I wouldn't request a chopper and leave. He took down all the information I would need and want and during the night, organized an evac chopper for first light. He booked my flights and an hour before first light woke me to give me the bad news and my travel details. He was already packing my bags and told me to shower, eat and hit the heli-deck. I don't know any other captains that would choose to make that call, except maybe one, but I don't know him quite as well. Here's to ya, Admiral. I hope you and the wife are already sailing that little boat around the med, or down to South Africa. Keep yer powder dry and stay masts to the sky, always.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Celebrating Christmas on a ship, thousands of miles from home, family and friends is at it's best, a melancholy affair. Some years are better than others and the ship and crew play a big part in how poorly, or well the holiday season passes at sea. Some vessels/crews will choose to ignore the holidays completely, creating a serious and moody atmosphere, not at all the place you want to contemplate being away from your family on Christmas eve. Most, with what ever resources are available onboard, try to create a festive atmosphere and do their best to keep the crew happy.
In the 12 years I've been at sea, I've spent more than 5 holiday seasons on the high seas. Two have been spent on my current ship, including this trip. Two years ago, I sailed from Loyang, Singapore up into the Strait of Malacca-the world's deadliest waters for pirates. I spent Christmas eve on a windswept, darkened deck, standing Pirate Watch, alone. (Ironic, I know) Christmas morning, we exchanged gifts, had a decent meal and Santa even visited for a brief time. It was the best you could hope for-not too depressing.
This year again aboard the same vessel, but with much of the old crew now gone, it was quite a different story. The vessel was decorated much the same and the plan was as it was 2 years ago. At the noon meal, Santa would arrive, we'd exchange gifts and drift back to work, or sleep. However, with this crew things went a bit differently and this has turned out to be the best time I've ever had during a Christmas at sea. The meal laid out by our Kiwi galley staff was second to none. Click on the menu for a closer look...
I tried to sample a bit of everything I'd never eaten and failed, miserably. I decided I finally don't like mince pies, English pudding is still pretty good with custard and these crustacean thingies the Kiwis call "bugs" are better than lobster, though I had two whole lobsters and only one bug. I also put away ham, turkey, raspberry dumplings, a dozen oysters on the half shell, a handful of clams on the half, a pile of prawns a ton of fresh fruit, and approximately 7 desserts and a bon-bon.
After the meal, Santa and his helper, Grumpy arrived and entertained us with the funniest hour I have ever spent at sea. Words cannot describe...
The Party Chief said a few solemn words on Christmas, religion, culture and family, giving us all pause to contemplate our families back home and what they mean to us. Then, Santa and his helper got down to business, passing out gifts, insulting the crew and keeping us in stitches. I received a T-shirt, pen, duffel bag, Asian cookies and Wally, the Australian National Soccer team's stuffed Kangaroo mascot. LP has already been informed of him and is keen to lay her hands on him.
After the gifts were opened, a team treasure hunt was conducted, with the winning team receiving prizes. Bingo was up next and while I consider Bingo to be up there with golf and watching grass grow, I found it to be quite fun as many of the crew shouted BINGO!, only to be sent back from the caller's table, chastised for being unable to track simple, alphanumeric combinations and identify common shapes, as we struggled to fill straight-line, four corner, nine patch and cloverleaf patterns.
With the end of bingo, which btw, was called out over the ships radio network, allowing crew at their stations to play, came the end of the festivities. Crew drifted back to work, or off to their cabins to sleep off a huge meal. I retired to the sauna for an hour then hit the rack.
Today, the mood is subdued, except for the occasional gathering of crew to view pictures, or video of yesterday's good times. We are once again focused on fighting the weather and seas, repairing gear, monitoring systems, processing data, training and earning our paychecks.
Monday, December 24, 2007
In any case, I wish you all Happy Holidays, Peace and Joy and Family and Friends.
Hello LP and PW. I miss you both so much!! See my tree, LP? I've hung your locket on it for the day. PAPA LOVES YOU :o)
Sunday, December 23, 2007
First, after all these years I should post one of Tom, the guy at the airport who has taken care of me for the last 10 years. This guy has held planes for me, stopped a plane to bring me a forgotten item, sent a pair of tennis shoes to follow me to Minneapolis via a faster jet, so that I was handed my shoes as I disembarked from my flight on the way to work. He's fixed up botched reservations, missing flights and even called to wake me up when it looked like I might be late for a flight and all this because I show up at his airport every few weeks. Oh yeah and he always upgrades me to first class. To me, he IS first class.
After saying my goodbyes to PW and Tom, I spent a very typical layover in Minnie. Water, Chinese food, chopsticks and a good book. In this case it was a VERY good book and I also stopped into one of those gourmet chocolate shops and dropped 20 bucks on some comfort food because I was feeling incredibly sorry for myself and missing PW and the kids after only an hour or so.
Before leaving for LA and quick turnover for the 15 hr. flight to Auckland, I took a couple of muscle relaxers and while flying had a few drinks, so I was in no shape to take photos until after my Auckland/Christchurch and Christchurch/Invercargill flights. Well, I did attempt to take a shot of...my first look at new Zealand sheep, cause, well, you know what they say about New Zealanders.
While in Invercargill, I peed in a cup, shopped and stopped in the theatre I mentioned the other day. Walking to the theatre from the grocery store I came upon this mural at a gas station, of all places.
Finally, after 3 days, 5 flights, two buses, one car, a ferry and a jet boat, I arrived onboard the ship. My cabin was not tiny, dirty, rusty, smelly and contained only a British cabin mate, no cockroaches. I didn't have time to call the maid before snapping a picture. I snagged the bottom bunk, pulling rank, citing age and a bad back. My laptop/home theatre is set up on the chair. John Wayne's Alamo was playing that night.
So, now that I'm here all I want to do is escape. The medic issued a challenge to the crew, called the Land's End to John O'Groats Challenge. This trip we are cycling, running, and I am ellipticaling from the southern tip of Great Britain, all the way to John O'Groats on the North shore, some 1371 KM. Yes, I made up a word for exercising on an elliptical machine-sue me. Anyway, not to be outdone by the young punk working for me, I struggled through 12.5 KM on the elliptical machine after shift, then collapsed in the sauna in a puddle of puke. Did I mention that most of my ships have a sauna? This one is big, hot and comes with a changing area and showers. So, I'm almost to Penzance, the first stop 16 KM North of Land's End. My goal for this trip is Gloucester, a long, 382 KM down the road to John O'Groats.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
My previous ship had been in US waters for some years. The crew was 99% US. The stores came from Mississippi. This ship hasn't been to US waters in a Coon's age, if ever. The crew is made up of Poles, Brits, Malays, Filipinos, Aussies, Kiwis, Indians, Russians, Scots and Vietnamese. And me. The stores are all from southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. After about a half hour of digging around the mess and the dry stores behind the galley, I realized that once again, I am on a truly international ship and there's no dang ketchup. I'm not a fan of ketchup. There aren't any fries onboard, no hamburgers, or pasties. No reason to use ketchup. Still, it's one of those things l like hanging around, I guess.
I settle on a package of something unpronounceable, but resembling raman noodles. It smells like Thai food, spicy and aromatic. Pleasant taste, but I don't know what it is. Sans ketchup, I choose to pour a small amount of a bottle labeled "sweet chili sauce for chicken", product of Malaysia, onto my psuedo-raman noodles. I vaguely remember putting something similar on my eggs ( Satanic Eared-Nightjar eggs, not chicken ) when last on this ship, in Borneo, Singapore and Myanmar (formerly Burma). It doesn't compliment the aromatic noodles, well. My snack is a bust.
Thinking I might as well be eating a shaved and oiled ferret (Inside joke), I toss the failure into the garbage and hunt some more. Mind you, dinner was steamed peaches, onions and chicken breast in mango sauce, wrapped in filo bread. Nasty. A tray of cold cuts offers promise, but upon investigation, none of the cuts are familiar and all are too spicy and taste "off", to my decidedly Americanized palate, of the last two years. The cheeses were all alien and only 2 were to my liking. Once again, I brave the brown goat cheese and once again, gag. Can't seem to develop a taste for it and finally it can join the ranks of vegemite and ludifisk, never to be eaten again.
As a last resort, I halve two kiwis, slurp down an expired yogurt and as I'm leaving, check one more cabinet and find small bags of Doritos. Not a fan of these, either, but they are a reminder of home and America and ketchup, fries, burgers and Budweiser. I read the bag. It's 50 grams of Australian corn, Cheeso Supremeo flavor with 1020 units of energy noted on the nutritional label. I put them back.
Not quite home.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I've not managed to get my laptop connected, so no photos, but I'm trying. I came across a poster about the color of your pee, in one of the common heads and I'm dying to post a photo of it. Can you imagine your bosses being concerned about the color of your pee? Mine are. Really.
I'm mourning the loss of the Queen's blog, but these things happen as anyone who used to read LOAP knows. Damn shame, but I totally understand as long as I get another book installment, ahem...
The cooks onboard prepare a midnight meal. SWEET! However, that means when I woke up, I had steak and corn for breakfast...
Finally, my pee looks quite normal (to me, anyway) and that's all I have at 3am down here in the Southern.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
My new cabin is huge, about the size of a hotel room. It has a wonderfully clean shower, heated bathroom floor and not a hint of rust anywhere. It's also NOT a steel box welded to the hull and is quiet as a church on Monday. My cabin is over the MOB boat davit so on days when the boat gets launched for operations, or man-overboard drills, it will get quite noisy in there, but it's tolerable. I've got a huge desk and comfy couch, too. It's a 2-man cabin and I'm sharing it with the kid who works for me, but our bunks are large with planty of head room, so no more waking up and smacking my forehead on the bunk above:)
The ship itself is mammoth compared to my last ride. It's a fair bit over 100 meters and nine decks tall. It has a 25 M diameter heli-deck on the bow for jogging! The gym is wonderful-several rowing machines, treadmills and ellipticals. Two, multi-station weight machines, free weights, heavy bag and a few other goodies, like a killer sound system and a wide screen TV with DVD. The sauna is large enough for 12 and gets HOT:) I just wish the light was brighter-had a helluva time trying to read in there and I've got a great book right now-Failure Is Not An Option, by Gene Krantz-recommended by Blondie:)
The rest of the ship is much the same, big, shiny and nice. We've got a 30-seat theatre, with leather recliners and somewhere a nice day room, but I can't seem to find it. The mess is huge, well-appointed with cold and hot displays and an exspresso machine. The cooks are Kiwis and so far have done a bang-up job with the chow. They even put on a midnight meal, which is a first for me. They bake a lot of goodies, which is bad, though.
I suppose at some point, once I get a handle on this project and get my processing caught up with acquisitiion, I'll wander around and take a few photos to post here, if I manage to work out photo-posting via email...
Hope you're all safe and sound up there!
Monday, December 17, 2007
This is not my first time onboard this ship. I was here two years ago, nearly to the day, spending the holidays in Borneo, Singapore and Mynamar. I remember spending Christmas Eve standing pirate watch on the dark and windy back deck as we sailed the Strait of Malacca, between Malaysia/Thailand and Indonesia. Not the best Christmas Eve ever, but different. Before I get too far off topic, the reason I mention I've been here before is that every ship seems to have a rhythm, a beat to which the crew marches. It varies a little as the crew composition changes, but remains much the same, belonging to the ship and not those that reside there. Maybe it has something to do with the layout, I don't know.
So, two years later I find myself back aboard this ship and to my surprise, without much thought, I'm falling back into the rhythm of my last trip on here. Last night/day?? after my first shift, I hit the galley for a piece of fruit, fired up the sauna, unpacked, took a book and hit the sauna for a good sweat. Showered, I stopped in the instrument room to check on things, then hit the rack. This morning, I stopped in the mess, made coffee, toast and grabbed a yogurt and a piece of fruit and then it hit me-this is exactly what I did on here two years ago, every night and morning. So far this shift, I've worked the same, visited the same places and people on the ship and I wonder how that happens. Why do I do things a certain way on one ship and totally different on others? I really don't know unless it's the ship directing the rhythm and rhyme of my daily grind...
|1.||a riddle, the answer to which involves a pun or play on words, as What is black and white and read all over? A newspaper.|
|2.||anything that puzzles.|
I work for a HUGE corporation. I've just noticed that I've been given a rather substantial raise in my salary, with no notice, or explanation. Do you think it pays to question it?
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The good news? Came onboard to find out the smokes in the bonded store have been locked down by NZ customs. The smokers are freaking out and the fire axes have already been locked up. The Captain thinks we can have them shipped out to us at a cost of roughly $100USD/carton...
So, 4-5 beers later, I hit the hotel restaurant for the Sunday Carvery. The carvery is a buffet of salads, side-dishes and deserts accenting a hand-carved roast and ham. I ate like pig. I also ate a lot of pig. The ham was perfect. Simply perfect. The beef roast was good, but they spiced it with something like Italian salad dressing, so I limited out on the ham. Desert was an apple crumble, followed by twin helpings of chocolate raspberry and banana cream pies. I washed the whole mess down with one more pint of Guinness on tap. I am drunk, stuffed and bone-tired. I also have no idea what time my body thinks it is, so I've told it that it is bedtime. Which it is, if I've a 3am departure time.
Seems we are foregoing helicopters due to the seas state and instead have hijacked the local ferry and will use the jet boat to transfer between ships. Going to be a wet and wild ride, but it beats an hour in an uncomfortable chopper, I hope. So, until I make my ship,
ps. I love Kiwis just like I love Aussies. They are just like rowdy Americans with funny accents:)
Saturday, December 15, 2007
While shopping, I came across a beautiful, old theatre and went inside. A very kind lady escorted me around the theatre, despite a production getting ready and it being closed to guests. The presidium arch was gorgeous and I took lots of photos, but non of them turned out and I have no idea why. Nonetheless, here's a shot of the outside. I wish I could have taken at least one good photo of the presidium arch. there was a saying on it that was broken up my the emlbem in the middle. Evidently, there's been a debate raging since the theatre was built in 1905, as to whether you read the two lines on one side, then the two on the other, or if you read the entire, but broken top line, then the entire broken bottom line. It worked both ways for me...
As I was leaving, she asked where I was from and why I was in town. When I told her what I do, she got very excited and took me over to the other ladies doing the ushering, I suppose. They all gave me hugs and wished us well out there. Over the years, I've been to many countries and more often than not, the locals are not happy to have us. It was a real treat to be welcome, here.
On the downside, it cost me 40 bucks to buy toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, razor and shaving cream. Dinner and drinks are going to cost a fortune! And that's about it from here. I expect a 3am wake-up call and I need to have a shower and a lie down as my British buddy would say.
One other thing about this travel business. You know, crossing the International Dateline, you loose a day. December 15th, 2007 never existed for me, or I never existed for that day. I lost a day of my life and can't get it back...
So, yeah, the only real hitch in the trip was the fact I left my shaving kit at home and arrived here without a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, razor, shaving cream, etc. My lousy Alltel service doesn't have international roaming/long-distance, so I can't call PW and LP until I get to the ship, which sucks, but the bar opens in 2 hours so I can drink away my sorrows.
People are VERY friendly, sound a bit like Aussies and drive on the wrong side of the road. They also have roundabouts, instead of intersections. I took a few airplane window photos of the Southern Alps on the way here and will try to post a couple if any turn out. Bought a new camera an hour before I left and I'm having a bit of trouble with it.
Met some old friends from other vessels, who are slated for one trip here, as I am. Good to catch up. And now, I'm off to find a pharmacy, or grocery store, so I can brush my teeth.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Crew-x isn't until next Wed, but they've found it necessary to ship me out Friday and didn't bother to fucking tell me until today. The early Christmas planned for Saturday? Out. Finishing the odds and ends in the bathroom like lights and power? Out. Finishing PW's secret Christmas present? Out. Mailing out Christmas presents top friends abroad? Out. One last leisurely weekend with my precious family? Out.
So, I have to shop for necessities, pack, snowblow the driveway once more and finish my Christmas shopping while spending as much time with the family as I can for the next 1.5 days and the kids are in school all day. Fuck.
OK, done bitching. Yes, I realize I just took a 3-month, paid vacation, but dammit, I hate leaving and worse, finding out at the very last minute.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Yippie Ki Yay, motherfuckers...
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Oh, and that's about all I got, folks. Regular, boring old life has been happening here in the cove. Went to LP's Christmas concert, put labels on my wine bottles, did a science experiment with MP tonight-nothing very blog-worthy. Roughly 6-8 days before I head out for NZ and the Southern Ocean, so I'm keeping a low profile and hanging out with the family.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
So my non-hunting, wine-only, brain-storming session produced this-
What do you think?
However, my neighbor was wearing sweat pants and shoe-boots and knee-high, woolly socks with red stripes, pulled up over his sweat pants. Oh yeah he also had on a leather Detroit Lions jacket and a blaze-orange hunting mask. And my wife says Yoopers have no sense of style...
Monday, December 3, 2007
I've completed my first batch of wine, but after spending the last two weeks in the woods, hunting deer, I can't come up with a name, nor an idea for the label. All I get is something to do with deer, or bucks, or snow. PW has already said NO PIRATE THEME. I would love it if you guys could toss me a few bones. If anyone comes up with a winner, I'll give you credit on the label and send you a bottle in the mail...
If it helps, it's a Sangiovese.
So, after a slightly nasty, two-hour drive, we're back home. There's a lot of snow to move out of the driveway and I have to head back into town to pick up LP from her after-school program.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Despite warnings of yet another fucking blizzard, we had clear roads the whole way (only about a 2 hour drive). We've checked into our hotel and are now off for lunch and a campus tour. Ive got a camera and unless the boy threatens mutiny, I'll post a few pics. Wish I had thought to bring a bottle of wine and an opener...
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Last night, I spent a few hours cleaning wine bottles and scraping label glue off with a razor blade and some Goo Gone (TM). This morning, LP and I headed into town to the winery, to finish up our wine and get hammered. We bottled up the batch of Sangiovese and made plans for a large wine rack to store all these batches of wine down in our basement. It was pretty fun and LP was a big help, especially with corking and putting on the shrinks, but spent way too much time overall, drinking up the free wine they put out to make your bottling experience a pleasant one. Since I was driving, I limited myself to two glasses; one of our new batch (way too green, yet) and one of the multipulciano. Of course we bought a bottle of the multipulciano to go with the venison steaks tonight:) Had them last night, but mr. bud and the boys didn't make it out so we have TONS of leftovers, still soaking in the orange/raspberry marinade.
While still at the winery, my local butcher called to tell me that the venison mukkuda was ready to pick up. Mukkuda (I have no idea how to spell it, but that's how it sounds- muh' kuh duh) is the local word for a certain type of sausage, simmilar to a summer sausage, typically made from venison. Most local butchers offer to take a portion of your venison to make mukkuda links and mine is no exception, although they farm out the job to a local meat compaany called Volworths. We had (5) 2lb sticks made up and we'll have mukkuda, cheese and cracker appetizers prior to our vension steaks tonight:)
Because I'm leaving for New Zealand on the 18th (if my work visa is processed in time), we picked up a Christmas tree today and will celebrate the holiday early, on the 15th. LP and I picked out a Charlie Brown tree at a stand next door to the local massage parlor-Maggies. my back was killing me and I so wanted to dump the freaking tree and get a massage instead!
Now, we're finally back home (near blizzard conditions still, for the 4th day in a row), waiting for PW to get home from work so we can chow on venison and empty that bottle of multipulciano. Well, I'm going to empty the bottle-LP had more than her share at the winery;)
Friday, November 30, 2007
It was also beautiful. I left the camera in the truck and snapped a few photos on the way out, but the camera must have been frozen-they didn't come out right??? Anyhoo, today I am putting off heading out into the woods because of my experience getting in and out, yesterday. The snow is so deep that it pushes over the hood of my truck in some places and I barely made it out last night. I was really sweating it. What the fuck do you do if your truck gets stuck in waist-deep snow a few miles back in the woods? Spring melt is a looong way off and I have no idea who might be able to get in to some place like my hunting area, let alone effect a rescue. I wouldn't even hunt today if i didn't have to get my tent blind out of there.
But off I go. Wish me luck!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tonight I saw an accident coming and couldn't do a thing about it. My daughter and I were leaving the dentist office, downtown. It's your typical, turn-of-the-century mining town-narrow, two-lane, one-way, downtown street lined with buildings. It was early evening, traffic was heavy and the street was clogged with snow. It was also snowing. People lined the streets, window-shopping and what-not. A rather large family (like 8-10 people, not BIG people) began to cross the street from right-to-left. They hurried out in front of a car in the right lane and attempted to get to the clear, left lane. A truck traveling behind the car pulled into the left lane, passing it and accelerating right into the family, hitting a little boy and knocking him right out of his shoes-I saw them flying even further than he flew. I was right behind the truck until he moved out to pass. Saw the family taking a really big chance, saw the truck was accelerating right up behind the car and knew he would pull out to pass and I knew the whole family could not hope to avoid getting fucking whacked by that truck. It was not pretty, but the boy will live and in fact, seemed unhurt. I doubt he totally escaped injury after flying several feet into the air and getting knocked out of his shoes and most likely felt nothing due to the adrenaline rush from getting run over by a truck, but I'm sure he'll live and that's the important thing.
I can't seem to get this out of my mind. I called PW to make sure LP was safe and to have her reminded to beware of traffic. I called my oldest boy to remind him, even though he's 17. I called Mr. Bud to have him remind his boys, too and still I can't shake this bad feeling.
Sooo, for those of you with children, remind them to be vigilant. Tell them about the little boy, who thought he was safe with Mom and Dad and tell them to watch for themselves and to be careful, especially now that winter is here and driving conditions deteriorate. Be safe out there.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
My blind is one of those tent jobs and I was amazed to find it still standing, not blown away, or caved in from the snow load. In fact, that was one of the reasons I embarked on such an insane trip this morning-I was worried about loosing the blind, as well as needing to pack down a trail in (it's supposed to snow for days) and I also wanted to feed the poor deer. As the snow deepens, forage is harder and harder to find here in the western upper peninsula. So, I sat in my shaking, snapping, tearing blind in the dark, in a blinding snowstorm, drinking coffee for 3 hours. Then, the storm broke and I was able get out and scout the area. Drifts of nearly 2 feet and man was it cold. It wasn't long before my face and beard were all crusted over with ice, which oddly enough seems to keep it warmer than when exposed to the wind. I walked a mile, or two through a series of small ridges planted with spruce and pine, hoping to find deer bedded down out of the wind, but found only a few fresh tracks.
After making it back to the truck, it took a half hour to defrost the windows, so I sat on the edge of a snow-crusted swamp with a steaming cup of coffee, watching loose snow blow through the grasses . Once the windows cleared, I drove down the 2-track to my blind, only to spook a buck with what looked to be a nice rack, feeding on the bait pile. I wished him luck as I turned around and headed home to snuggle on the couch with LP, who has a day off from school due to the storm. Two more days left in the hunt.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Anyway, I'm heading out once again to track that 10-point, this time across the clear cut, which is going to be agonizing. It's about 250 acres of up and down, punctuated by tag alders, brier patches, and flooded skid steer ruts. It's all in the quest for meat in the freezer and I'm just motivated enough by the fact that I actually put venison in my freezer last night after picking up my first deer from the butcher with LP. Tonight, after a hard day in the bush I'll be dining on venison steaks and tenderloin!!
Friday, November 23, 2007
Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com
|You scored as Captain Jack Sparrow|
Roguish,quick-witted, and incredibly lucky, Jack Sparrow is a pirate who sometimes ends up being a hero, against his better judgement. Captain Jack looks out for #1, but he can be counted on (usually) to do the right thing. He has an incredibly persuasive tongue, a mind that borders on genius or insanity, and an incredible talent for getting into trouble and getting out of it. Maybe its brains, maybe its genius, or maybe its just plain luck. Or maybe a mixture of all three.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Being a seasoned hunter, first sitting a blind at age three, she quickly fell asleep taking advantage of the pre-dawn wait. At first light she woke on her own, asked for a cup of cocoa and eyed the bait pile like it was going to grow legs and walk off if we didn't keep an eye on it.
Her patience was soon rewarded with the appearance of a spikehorn-a newcomer to the blind. He put on a good show, browsing the pile and the nearby stands of trees, returning to the pile over and over.
Finally, after about 30 minutes, he wandered off back up the ridge, so we spent another 15 minutes over another cup of cocoa then rolled out of the blind to greet the day and inspect the pile and tracks left by our spikehorn. We noted he browsed the corn, ignored the carrots and while he used a well-worn trail coming off the ridge, he forged his own way back up through the trees.
We inspected the surrounding area, spying numerous fresh tracks around the blind, including one set that showed we were followed to the blind by a small doe who must have been awful curious. Packing up our gear, we dropped it back at the truck and then headed into the bush to take advantage of the fresh snow that fell while we sat the blind. We tracked deer out into a clear-cut area and scouted it from a small rise at one end. Nothing moved, but we stood holding hands, watching the sun glistening across a sea of small, snow-covered spruces and after a while we decided to call it a perfect morning and head back to the cove to see if Mom was awake, yet.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Finally, while some little button buck sat mooching off my corn and apples, the 4-point walked in tonight and I dropped him before he had a chance to get a mouthful. The old Marlin .35 packs a punch and I blew out his heart right through the shoulder bone. Since he dropped right there, I stepped out of the blind and walked right up. To my surprise, the button buck was still standing off to one side, obviously confused. I told him, "This is the part where you're supposed to run away", and he did.
PW and LP drove out into the bush after dark (I LOVE my girls!) to help me toss him into the back of the pickup after I field-dressed him and we drove out to a small market about 15 miles out of town where he'll get processed into steaks, roasts, hamburger and sausage. Yummy.
Now that I've got meat in the freezer, I'm going to stalk that 10-point from dusk till dawn. No more apple-poppin for me.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I left the light on next to his couch all night.
I stomped down at 1am, booting him off of said couch to blog and watch the weather channel.
I stomped down at 4am, booting him off of said couch to blog and watch the weather channel.
I get a bakery-fresh, breakfast pasty and he got a bowl of dog food.
I'm heading into the field. Everyone have a safe and peaceful opening day.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
It's been blowing and snowing for about 4 hours with maybe 2-3 inches fallen so far. Must be about 30 degrees out there with winds gusting to 30-35. Going to be cold in the blind but I'm thankful I wasn't planning to sit a tree stand!! I only hope the blind didn't blow away or shred in the high winds today. It's a tent blind and winds gusted over 40-45 today:(
I just saw on the weather channel that there's a cyclone (hurricanes are called cyclones in the Indian and Southern oceans) heading toward India. I have a lot of friends working off of India this year and I hope they are all going to be OK.
Well, that's it for me-I polished off a bowl of cereal and need to try to sleep for the next 3 hours. Hope you hunters out there put meat in the freezer.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I'm sure nobody cares, any more than you care to see a half-dozen pics of my bathroom in a shambles, but here are a bunch of shots from where I thought I was going to locate my deer blind. This morning, the oldest boy, LP and I set it up about 200 yards from here in a narrow cut through a stand of birch, alder and oak, at the base of the ridge shown in the second photo below. The general area looks to be a good spot, at first glance. As you can see from the photos, cover, water, bedding areas, food and natural lanes for traveling to and fro all exist within a few hundred yards. I think this area sees deer in the general vicinity all day and night, if the hunting pressure remains low.
Today we only saw a fox, who, oddly enough, crossed our tracks only 75 yards behind my truck only 1-2 minutes after we stopped to unload the blind and some bait. He was right here, as a matter of fact...
So far, only deer and my tracks show up in the snow and they are hitting the bait piles, hard. Yes, this year I have gotten so old and tired as to join the sorry ranks of apple-poppers across this great nation. It's like hunting people in a grocery store-sit at the end of the frozen foods isle and pop some poor fucker in the head as he reaches for a frozen pepperoni and mushroom, but I’m out of shape and not good for much else besides nodding off in a folding chair after the coffee wears off.
Really, I will get out and still-hunt the ridge as much as my tired, old bones will let me and I even put the ass warmer back, that I tossed in my cart at Wal-Mart, Friday. I'll sit my blind in the morning and maybe evening, but otherwise, it's walk and post, walk and post, walk and post as much as possible. Oh, the oldest and I are contemplating taking pics, or shooting video during our first two days.
I should note these woods begin just about 500 yards South of my house and stretch for about 20 miles to the next road South.
Friday, November 9, 2007
As I said, the next day I began stripping the one hundred year old horsehair plaster from the wood lath, along with various other layers of paint, wallpaper, and laminate board. One hundred years is a long time and shit can really accumulate on walls, floors and ceilings over a century.
Gutting the room while keeping it completely functional for the two girls made things a little tough, what with cleaning up the job site every twenty minutes so SOMEBODY could pee
and interesting when you find things like certain fixtures hanging out in space for a few days.
And a long-boarded up window!
And wires laid ACROSS the suds, secured by bent-over, rusty nails...
And the fact that scale and other unmentionables have clogged your pipes so bad that...
When you touch one with even one finger, it splits like an overripe fucking tomato.
Oh, and look! The tiny spot of rotten floor has actually spread from under the tub all the way to New Mexico:)
Happy, happy thoughts as the six-day deadline looms awfully big in the window (and I don't have to tell you we're all getting a little tired up here). Sorry, I fall into Jim Lovell mode when dealing with disasters. Strap a ticking time-bomb to my chest and I'll start quoting Jim like Alan Shepard at an Apollo 14 party after too many glasses of champagne.
So, here I am after my first 36 hour shift in the pit of despair-
I was obviously not happy, or coherent, but I did something strange, a sort of foretelling. Inexplicably, I took a picture of my yet, undamaged left hand. W.T,F?
After a short nap to shake the cobwebs out of my ears, I re-built one of the walls and added a sill to nail the floor to, since it was hanging in space, with no joists under it. You can see the sistered wall studs and the sill, along with the corner of my basement, old plumbing, the top of the water heater and a lot of dust and debris.
It was right about here that I began my somewhat foolish 56 hour shift in order to make crew-x in 4 days hence. Bad move, as things get real fuzzy and my left hand disintegrates.
From looking at these photos for the first time, I can see I took about 250 photos during the infamous 56 hour shift. Most of them don't make any sense and I'm sure I don't want to know what I was thinking while shooting shots of joist pockets, piles of rotten wood and my dog coming to inspect the hole to the basement that was now my bathroom, but I can see from this self-portrait that I was in pretty bad shape. This was only 30 hours into the 56...
At 40 hours, I gained my second wind and still retained my sense of humor...
And my sense of decor, putting up a LP original before drywall..
All in all, it was a good shift. I destroyed my hand, started smoking again, lost about 10 pounds, put in a sub floor, wiring, an exhaust fan, a vent stack, insulation, vapor barrier and drywalled the ceiling and one wall. Not bad for a one-armed man with no sleep. Near the end, Mr. Bud showed up to finish the drywall, I drove to the bar for pizza, taking pictures while driving after going about 55 hours with no sleep
(asshat) and then passed out on the couch.
Since then, the bathroom has progressed, slowly. Very slowly. It should be complete sometime in 2009.