Saturday, September 29, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
First off, I must say that I was wracking my brains for a creative solution to the puzzle of getting home, something your average bear would never think of and Doug nailed it. From now on, U-Haul will be another possible weapon in my arsenal. Without that advise, I finally managed the following:
Set up the two rental cars from two companies; Hertz from Minnie to Green Bay, then National from Green Bay to Houghton. Why? Hertz doesn't go to Houghton and National had no cars left in Minnie after all the cancellations. One of the stranded travelers from my canceled flight agreed to share the driving-a girl trying to get to a Saturday wedding up in Copper Harbor. Then, yesterday morning, at the last possible minute, two seats on a flight to Green Bay opened up, so we flew to Green Bay, rented a car and drove up to Houghton. As a final insult, the skies open up and dumped a shit-load of rain on me just as I went to drop off my car. Like Noah's Ark kind of rain, flooding parts of the city and all that.
PW and LP picked me up from the airport, where I ditched the rental. LP had a little surprise package from the Queen and was dying to open it, shaking it in my face, "Come on, Papa. OPEN IT!!!!!" So I ripped the top off and handed it back to her. Oh yeah, she pulled out the postcard with the naked butts, first thing. Laughing, "What's this for papa? Whose butts are those?" Wisely, I explained that it was for one of those moments when you need a whole bunch of naked butts. "You never know when you'll need a bunch of naked butts and now I'm ready." She thinks I'm nuts. PW asked if the queen was the one in the middle of the line-up. I could only state that I wouldn't recognize her from that particular angle.
After handing off the postcard to PW, LP pulled out the goodies and the letter. We all got a good laugh at the warning about LP seeing the postcard:) LP was gracious enough to let me eat one of the goodies, but I forgot that I hadn't eaten all day and I was bouncing off the ceiling all the way home. THEY WERE AWESOME!! LP, PW and I all say THANK YOU:) and PW wants the recipe. Roughly 10 minutes after getting home, the sugar buzz wore off, I started mumbling, took a shower and like I said, passed the fuck out.
Today, I managed to drag myself out of bed long enough to make coffee and cinnamon rolls for LP, drive into town to get MP, bring PW a pasty from BP's bakery and pick up my luggage from the airport. I'm now passing out on the couch until PW gets home and cracks a bottle of wine...
Friday, September 21, 2007
Live blogging from Minneapolis Airport at 3:19 am. Out of the 30-odd passengers, everybody else either passed out, or left for a hotel. Two of us, hit every ticket agent, tram, car rental agency and hidden places to sleep in the entire fucking airport. There is no easy way out and nowhere comfortable to crash.
Mr. bud, you might be interested to know that I went to the hidden balcony and found it full of people. From there, I took the hallway back across the entire length of the main terminal, passing dozens of offices and doors with "HIGH SECURITY-DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED", or "TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT" printed on them. From there, you can cross over to the other side and find a police station and a small balcony above the new restaurant with chairs and tables. That's where I'm at now, hungrily eying the coffee shop.
Had to move -battery was dying and I had no plug. Now I've got my laptop on top of a garbage can.
Northwest is useless. The best they came up with is still a flight home the day after tomorrow. I may be able to get a flight to Duluth and get PW to close the shop, pull LP out of school and drive 5 hours to get me. Or, I can drive a Hertz rental to Green Bay WI., then rent a National car and drive it to Houghton. At Least 11 hours on the road and probably an hour to turn in one rental and get another.
This is the shit I go through to get to and from work. By the way, yes, I am still flapping my sore fucking arms and the low-grade fever I received courtesy of a yellow fever vaccination is doing wonders for my attitude. I was planning to sleep, but the ticket counters open again in a half hour, So I'm sitting here at the end of the main terminal keeping a watchful eye on the coffee shop. A four-shot latte just might keep me awake long enough to make a coherent decision about getting home.
Eleven hours driving is probably the only real option and I have, but one passenger, a girl from Portland, I think is still here and we have call numbers of a few others who opted for a hotel. Car pool...
9am, I'm still here and out of crack. Starting to get the shakes...
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Nonetheless, faithful blogger that I am, I knew this and decided to buy the Internet service here in Minneapolis Airport for 8 bucks and post something, anything. So here I sit in front of the sushi bar in the food court, wasabi smeared on one cheek, bits of ginger in my beard trying to be be witty, interesting and creative while listening to Bach; Sarabande from Cello suite no. 5. All that comes to mind is that only a few hours ago I had an offshore physical and some doctor stuck his finger up my ass. And no, I didn't get a reach-around. That was my day and this is what you get for asking Queen. Eye bleach required.
I also was once again vaccinated against yellow fever, typhoid, diphtheria, tetanus and hepatitis-A; two shots in each bicep, so periodically I have to flap my arms like a bird, or I won't be able to move them, tomorrow, which happened to me the last time I was stuck with all these shots. So, I'm on an airplane. Flapping my arms like a bird. On an airplane. Yes, the stewardess finally came over and asked if I was OK, needed my medicine, or my hands cuffed behind my back with a plastic tie. Now, I shit you not-I told her about my shots and showed her the Spiderman band-aids to prove it (NO plastic tie cuffs for me). Her response? "I bet that hurt" and she punched me in the arm. Bicep. Right one. Yellow fever plus Typhoid. Nearly shit myself. Bitch.
I was also given a large, plastic shopping bag at the medical center. Inside was a clear, plastic bag labeled "BIOHAZARD" containing a bucket to crap in. Now, I was made to fast before this physical and while I managed to squeeze out about an ounce of pee, I cannot and will not crap on demand. For anyone-not even if you stick a finger up my ass. So they made me take it home. Since they watched me get into my limo, I had to take it with me to the airport. BIOHAZARD, my ass. or I should say, not my ass. By the way, if you want a laugh while traveling, lean over to the couple eating next you and tell them you typed "stick a finger up my ass" while listening to a Mozart Symphony. I'm a barrel of 'em today.
Did I mention that I farted in the sound booth halfway through my hearing test? Apparently I am nearly deaf in one ear and falling off the stool, gagging, is not an excuse to take the test over.
I could go on, I'm stuck here for at least five hours until Northwest tries to bump me off the last fucking flight of the day. Bastids. The 2:30 flight was canceled for some odd reason, so there's gonna be a shit-pot full of angry people trying to take the Pirate's seat tonight. If had known it would come to this I would have crapped in the bucket and used it as a weapon. Do you sense a theme here? I'm sitting in a food court talking shit. What's wrong with me?
A non-fecal anecdote- My limo driver tells me his wife works at the medical center we're heading to, this morning. He also says it's fucking huge. It's been 4 years since I've been there, but I remember it's easy to get lost. 35,000 people work there-no kidding. Well, after the physical, the guy is driving me through the med center campus, remarking on the number of new buildings, their functions and what-not, when he says that the place is full of hot women. I have to agree at this point and he rolls down his window and gives a gaggle of gals the old "hey baby" routine as we pull up to a light.
Suddenly, a woman turns around from another group and starts screaming at him. It was his WIFE. He actually made to run the red light, but traffic was heavy. She gave him a pretty good tongue-lashing until people started beeping behind us, then said she'd see him at home tonight if he had the balls to come home. He acted all tough and shit, but I bet he doesn't go home. That's how I knew 35,000 people work at the med center campus-he kept shaking his head and saying,"35,000 people! Why'd my wife have to be there?". Poor bastard, he was probably just trying to show off in front of me and now he's in a heap of trouble. In the shit, as it were.
Speaking of shit-here's some- A guy just tapped me on the shoulder, motioning me to remove my wonderful, noise cancellation headphones by Bose for 300 bucks at fine audio dealers across the country. He's asking me about how to log onto the airport wireless. Then he tells me to look at the windows and watch for a tornado. The airport itself must once again, have tornadoes on the infield. They are clearing people away from the glass and all that stupid crap. Last time this happened here it was a nightmare getting home. I had been awake for 3 days straight crew-xing out of Trinidad, West Indies and had a helluva time getting a rental car to drive home nine hours, then having to remove downed trees from the roadway to get out of the city. Great. maybe I'll end up live-blogging a tornado...I need a fucking drink.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Today I woke up and scrubbed my head (read bathroom, land-lubbers) with a brush only slightly larger than a toothbrush. I gave up and used a rag to do the bulkheads and deck, it was so small. I found an Esquire magazine my cabin mate must have left in there when he moved to another ship two weeks ago. Read it while sitting on the floor in my tiny head. Kind of strange, sitting on the floor of a dirty head reading an article on the art of being Faaaaaabulous. All kinds of useful advise like making sure your belt matches your fucking shoes. Guys DO this?? What else? Oh, buy an expensive umbrella because it makes you seem important-not to keep you dry. Well, I own some pretty decent rain gear and even then have resorted to garbage bags, but have no umbrella so I'm obviously anything but Faaaaaabulous. Sorry PW, I'm just not the male model/CEO guy with a $400 umbrella:(
Yesterday, our medic (MEDIC!! MEDIC!!)..um, we always yell that when he walks into a room...he kindly put together a slide show, complete with a moving musical score, of the long, tough history of this little fleet-aptly title "Death of a Legend". Twenty-Five guys with a total of over 350 years combined experience sat in silence and watched their history and lives flash by on a bed sheet hung from the ceiling. Guys with names like Jimmy The Buckle, Tuna, Hemorrhoid and Mule Dick and not a dry eye in the house. I wish I could post it on here, but PowerPoint doesn't play well with Blogger and even runs with scissors. Anyone that curious can email me and I would be glad to email you a copy, if it zips down from 600MB..
I've found this trip that I love to listen to both classical piano and cello when I'm really whacked out on my muscle relaxers, like right now. Sonata #14; Moonlight by Beethoven is perfect for drooling on yourself.
Because we work 12-14 hours shifts non-stop for 5-6 weeks, sometimes, if there is absoutely no work going on-say due to a hurricane, some of the crew will sneak off for a cat nap. It's a very rare thing, but pretty much everyone out here has done it once or twice, except me. That is until tonight. I've been getting steadily more and more worn out. My neck has been twisted in knots for the past 3 days and today I took a double-dose of my muscle relaxers. This resulted in getting very sleepy, but still with a sore neck. After dinner I blanked out at my computer for quite a while, I think. I closed my eyes but kept working-typing, pushing buttons, moving the mouse around and clicking it a lot. I was dreaming about working the whole time. Finally, I opened my eyes and saw that I had caused all my jobs to crash, deleted some important stuff and made a mess of my windows-all with my eyes closed. I fixed the mess and snuck down to my cabin for a 20 min cat-nap. Woke 30 mins later only to find the crew had scoured the ship looking for me because PW called.
Made me feel so guilty I even told PW that I was "working" and that's why I didn't call her back right away. This is why I never break the rules, why I would never be a criminal. I get caught every time.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
One of those days, out here in the Big Blue, yesterday. I put the morning's nicotine patch in a new place for the first time since starting these little buggers. OMG did it itch for hours! Evidently, you are supposed to rotate the location, which is no fun. The first time an area gets the patch, it itches like a motherfucker. Subsequent patches in the same area are no bother, but I guess that’s a no-no, so those days are over. Evidently, I will spend my mornings trying not to chew off various parts of my body until I can stop taping nicotine to it. Nice.
About 2 hours into the shift, our navigator gets an instant message from his very, very pregnant wife-"I'm on the way to the hospital". He's now gone, but won't be home until tonight, or early tomorrow morning and either way, most likely arriving at the hospital already a father since they were talking emergency C-section. He was such a wreck, the rest of us were freaking out with him. On the plus side, he made me forget about my itchy arm.
Received an email from the office today. It tells me that my future location is no longer in question. I will be working somewhere in the western, or the eastern hemisphere...that rules out the moon, at least. Seriously, it actually just threw a few more options into the mix and while I may not be scaling the pyramids next month, I may be instead, once again hanging with Santa in his back forty-for those of you who've been reading my shit since last September.
Some lowdown motherfucker stole my red stapler. Unless they left the ship with it, I swear by all that’s holy I will rip their head off and shit down their neck. I want to cry.
Finally, for the last half of the shift my job went completely haywire. Nothing worked. All of my work runs on one of those pc cluster supercomputers using a proprietary software package that in effect, takes a bunch of data and runs a series of computer programs on it, making millions, no, at least trillions of mathematical alterations to it. Something was wrong with an alteration, so I fixed it. Which led to another one showing up wrong, so I fixed it, which led to another and another and so on. After an hour or so of this, I realized that I had modified dozens of alterations, but shouldn’t have-something else was changing the alterations. So I went after that in the same method as above (After fixing the dozens of changes above). The problem kept cascading until I had made hundreds of changes, on different levels, in different programs and scripts. Still, nothing working. I put it all back the way it was originally. Six hours to get back to where I started-nothing working. My opposite walks in at shift change and before their first cup of coffee, changes a few numbers here and there and BAM! It all works. Words cannot describe my pain.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The only things I remember of the drive are driving through DC at four in the morning and deciding where exactly in Florida we were going to live. That's right, when we left only the state had been nailed down. Fortunately, the buzz had worn off before we started in on where we wanted to live. Cooler heads prevailed and we decided that living on the beach might hamper our efforts to find and keep a job, so we decided on Orlando, which looked to be about an hour from Daytona Beach on our map. We drove straight to Daytona, first, arriving after dark and went for a midnight swim to end the road trip.
The next day, we found ourselves in Orlando, snagged an apartment and settled in. We even found work and kept our jobs, only raiding the bikinis at Daytona on the weekends and limiting our time in the Booby Trap (Famous strip joint shaped like two boobs, two blocks from our apartment. Really.) to Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights. So many weird and wonderful things happened to us the two years we lived there, that I can't even begin to explain. Anyway, this post isn't about our time in Orlando. However, before I discontinue my digression, I feel compelled to tell you that while living there I saw a UFO, or actually many UFO's, one night. I was joined by about 25 other people-most of them sober, so it wasn't the contact buzz from my toluene-huffing next-door neighbor, the mushrooms I ate that night, or the killer Thai stick I burned by the bale. It was one of my house mates' birthday that night, but his appendix was bursting so we left him puking in the bathroom while we got shit-faced. He missed seeing UFO's on his birthday-the poor bastard.
No, the reason I brought up Orlando is that one day after working all night, I passed out back at home and slept soundly as a tornado ripped down my street, passing right by me and destroying literally everything but our apartment block. My house mates, finding me passed out in front of a window displaying total carnage assumed I had been caught out in the monster, injured and then somehow crawled back inside to die. I awoke to a bunch of really terrified faces. I don't think to this day they really believe I just slept through it and I admit it was hard to believe as I walked down the street that day, looking at smashed buildings, then looking back at the window I had just been sleeping in front of. Kind of unreal.
I've never been known as a heavy sleeper, but there you go.
So last night I hit the rack, snooze all night, accompanied by freaky, vivid dreams supplied by my nicotine patch and wake to find I just slept through a hurricane. Yes, hurricane Humberto just passed us in the night like....like something passing us in the night. Granted he was only a category one, but I slept right through a freaking hurricane, in a very small ship. They tell me it got rough last night and my cabin and head are testament to the violence. Everything not tied down was strewn around the room, except for a package of toilet paper that had been sitting in the porthole above the toilet. It was nestled in the toilet, as if it was trying to get to it's final destination, bypassing what must be a somewhat bad experience for anybody, that is, except for the brown-nosing motherfucker next to me.
And finally, I believe that brings my total to ten of these bastards. Oh yeah, Honey, in case you heard about Humberto, I guess I'm fine and we're already back working. I've got my rough weather headache, but that's it. Weird, huh?
p.s. The tornado did not destroy the Booby Trap, in case anyone's worried. I even found it on Google Earth a few months back and they're still standing proud, though it looked like it was kind of cold...
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Yesterday I came across something that irks me. Every day our real heroes die and it often makes for little news. Usually nothing more than a passing thought, or a footnote in the paper when someone serving their country, or community passes. Yesterday, it was brought to my attention that you too, can add to the massive resources being expended to find the millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett, who disappeared in his small plane on September 3rd. From your personal computer, you can log onto Amazon.com (Amazon Mechanical Turk) and assist in the review some 100,000 aerial photos, in an attempt to spot Mr. Fossett's plane, presumed crashed somewhere in an area of Nevada desert twice the size of New Jersey.
Don't get me wrong, I feel for the guy's wife and I don't believe he deserves any less assistance, or coverage than say, the loss of a fireman, accountant, mother, brother, son, or daughter, but he deserves no more. either. When researching this somewhat amazing development, I created an account with Amazon, logged in and because I'm not really a prick, I reviewed about 2 dozen photos of the Nevada desert, to no avail, before signing off. Am I really a prick? Does this guy deserve this kind of attention and effort?
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
So, I really have no pity for those people that think they need a pill to cure every little ill that befalls them. I'm a kind of suck it up, eat right, exercise and don't sweat the small stuff, guy. Overweight? Make your calories in are less than your calories burned. Want to quit smoking? Grow a pair, eat some fucking celery and do the right thing.
Well, I may be a prick, but I'm not ashamed to admit when I'm wrong. Quitting smoking has been tougher than I thought and as I mentioned yesterday, I've resorted to the patch. The Patch. Twenty-one milligrams of bliss and wonder at why I ever started smoking in the first place (To cover up the smell of the other shit I smoked as a teenager). So, other than the tingly, itchy feeling, I am in love with the patch and seem to be inordantly cheery today. Today, I reccommend pills, patches, nasal sprays and anal suppositories for everyone! In fact, if you want to save yourself $76.99, line up and I'll deposit that suppository with a flourish and a smile:)
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Nicotine patches come in several steps so that users can phase out nicotine use; for example, 21, 14, and 7 mg. A cigarette delivers roughly 1 mg of nicotine, so someone who used to smoke a pack (20 cigarettes) per day or more could start with the "step I" 21 mg patch, while someone who smoked less could start with "step II." After several weeks (6 is recommended) at step I, new non-smokers move on to step II (usually two weeks) and step III (two weeks).
For most users, there are few or no short-term health problems associated with using the patch, so users should not rush themselves through the steps; rather, users can phase out nicotine use on their own schedules.
The nicotine patch was invented by New Mexico Tech neuropsychopharmacology professor Dr. Frank T. Etscorn III; the patent was licensed by Ciba-Geigy, later merged with Novartis.
[That's not one of my "32-inch pythons" (TM Hulk Hogan), just some dude Wikipedia shot]
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Today, a few kind souls wished me luck against Oregon so I thought the abuse was over. I broke out a Maize and Blue tank top I stole from PW months ago, to use as a workout shirt. I hung it from the bookshelf above my monitors and yeah, that was a mistake. By kick-off time, some bastard had desecrated my shirt and all four of my monitors with Appalachian State signs.
The cold I've been hiding from snuck up from behind and clubbed me in the head, today. Tomorrow, I will look like the guy next to me. Correction-the guy who was next to me. He last about an hour and is now bed-ridden.
Supplies were delayed, again. No fresh veggies today. Maybe tomorrow we will take her alongside and get the goods.
The love bugs have multiplied and are once again, everywhere. Got one in my coffee this morning. Make that two, of course.
I had tuna fish sandwiches for breakfast this morning. Due to the lack of supplies, the tuna fish was made with diced, raw potato as a filler. Oddly, it was fucking awesome and I had three sandwiches.
I've been watching the real-time scoreboard for the MI/Oregon game and it looks as if Michigan is taking the lay on your back and expose your belly route this season. I'm contemplating pulling the damn shirt down.
Friday, September 7, 2007
I've been on Shrimp Watch, and OK, that's worse; staring at a monitor, watching shrimp fucking.
I've been on Fishing Boat Watch all over the world. Running around at high speeds in a diesel-powered jet boat, pounding on the hulls of small fishing vessels with a sledge hammer; waking up sleepy, hung-over fisherman to tell them that they are about to be run down by a 400 ton ship towing 48 miles of gear.
I've been on Gangway Watch in ports, everywhere. Holding back the homeless, or oppressed people who want a way out of their lives, any way out.
Terrorist Watch in Singapore. That was just sad.
Today, I spent some time on a new watch; Lightning Watch. See lightning; call the instrument room on the radio and announce you saw lightning. I've always loved lightning and I hate that my job has now sucked all the joy out of a good old thunder storm.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Speaking of being bothered (and I know you guys are gonna scream at me for not providing details, but I just can't and I NEED to write SOMETHING about this), it has been 10 years since I packed up my narrow view of the word and went to sea. In all my years out here, I have never seen the likes of what I saw, or more specifically, heard, out here, today. Bizarre, freaky, twisted, shocking, repugnant and horrific are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind. Granted, it's nothing that would make the news, prompt a movie, or land someone in jail, but good lord do I work in the strangest place on earth. Still, curious? Trust me, you are all better for not knowing. Revel in the fact that you live and work on dry land.
In other news, we had a big, fat Ling, or Lemonfish cruising around the ship, endlessly. He looks like a shark to my untrained, midwestern eye.
This is what the guys are familiar with Ling are dreaming of seeing, after they dream of this...
Finally, for the last month, or two, I've been trying to determine where in the hell I am going after this historic operation gets shut down. Today, I think I've finally found the last piece of the corporate puzzle that is my future. Nobody will/can tell me where it will be, but I came across a comment in a report that leads me to believe my next ship is unfortunately, very similar to this one, though with lousier accommodations and a whole host of problems of the sort I prefer not to deal with. The only upshot is that once there, I will most likely not come across the unspeakable horror that I was confronted with this morning. Good lord, I hope not, anyway.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
...FELIX NOW A CATEGORY FIVE HURRICANE...
The latest from the National Hurricane Center is a mixed bag. it intensified quickly last night, building to a cat 2 in a matter of hours, after reaching a cat 1 just before I posted, yesterday. It's track is still to the south and west, but in 10 years at sea and nine hurricanes, I've learned to pay close attention and don't count on anything.
For this hurricane, we're utilizing a new technology, called "The Storm String". One end, pinned to our location on a chart, the other swinging free. Certain distances are marked on the string, like green for terminate operations, black for pick up the gear and red for make like an outlaw and get the fuck outta Dodge. One can grab the string, swing it toward the lat/long of the storm and determine the plan for the day, as soon as you walk into the instrument room at the beginning of your shift. Highly technical, I realize:)
*** (Jay, I stole these from you-hope you don't mind:)
This morning, I classified my 5,000 galaxy, hoping it would be a memorable one and it didn't disappoint, despite being classified by someone else, just hours before. Each galaxy needs to be classified by 20 different users in order to achieve the desired precision, btw. Anyway, I love this one; a merger with a bared, anti-clockwise spiral in the lower left, which may be interacting with it's larger, denser neighbor-making it extra-special for my 5,000th.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
[image brought to you by the National Hurricane Center at NOAA]
Once again, all eyes in the GoM are glued to the South...
Wherever there is suffering, we'll be there.
Whenever liberty is threatened you will find...
The Three Amigos!!
These three, that I have dubbed The Three Amigos are actually better known as the the Leo Triplet, but I'm not an astronomer so I name them as I see fit, which would probably give my galaxy-classifying cohorts, fits. Whatever, these three fine examples were brought to by way of this, NGC 3628
Yes, El Guapo...
I have named him Dusty Bottoms-one of the Three Amigos, for his broad dust cloud forming an impressive equatorial band. You can also see when zoomed in that the band is deformed, most likely by the gravitational interaction with of one or both of the other two amigos. Dusty is an edge-on spiral galaxy and was brought to my attention by the Zookeepers at Galaxy Zoo, honoring him as Object of the Day, on the GZ Forum.
By the way, NGC stands for New General Catalog which is what space geeks use to keep track of the pretty lights in the sky.
In other news, life goes on out here much as it always does. We are tracking the next hurricane (or soon to be hurricane), bearing down Belize, I believe. Whatever, it looks to stay South of the GoM and that is what counts.
The lovebugs are dying, already. Seems they have a short lifespan and it looks as if half are already dead. Take heart-they died doing what they do best, dying off in couples...
Today is hump day, half-way through the trip. We are all showing signs of the wear and tear, circles under the eyes, short tempers and bad backs.