Thursday, January 31, 2008

The world ends tomorrow

You'd think I got bored sitting around, waiting to have my nuts snipped. Couldn't wait for the pain and misery to begin, so I had some long put-off dentistry done this morning. Fuck that morning cuppa joe-go get a root canal done at 7:30 and start your day off with a bang! What, not enough? OK, rip out a tooth in preparation for a crown, or is it a bridge? I can't remember I'm so giddy from the pain. Oh, glorious pain!

Take an aspirin, or Motrin you say? Well, not only would that defeat the purpose of getting in a little practice pain before the real deal, but you can't take any aspirin, or Motrin before you get your balls chopped off with a meat cleaver. So today was the perfect day for a little dental distress. The only real fun has been chasing LP around with my swollen face. She's scared of it from some reason. Sadly, she's finally off for a delayed start to school and I've got nobody to scare, except the dog and he could give a shit.

I suppose this might be the last post for a bit unless things go well (I am the eternal pessimist and I swear the doc is going to sneeze at just the wrong moment), or I decide to rip a page from Danny and post a shot of my frozen peas-clad crotch (I'm not sure if I want to scare off my last three readers, but it might be a great way to end the blog-"Yo, look at this gaping hole in my sack!")

Our blizzard ended some time last night, but it's still damn cold. I was freezing this morning while clearing off the trucks and warming up PW's truck on my way out. Must have been close to zero, maybe a couple of degrees above. Too damn cold to be out before the sun comes up, preparing to head to the dentist, anyway. Since my face feels like it's been ripped off, I have an excuse not to shovel the driveway, but I suppose I'll have to venture out at some point today, since I still have to buy a cup for the surgery, tomorrow. The doc says you fill it with crushed ice, sort of making like a shrimp cocktail...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pardon the Dust

Pardon me while I play with the layout and a bunch of widgets in the sidebar. I really liked the idea of having my music playing on the site, but as I've always got music playing and the headphones on as soon as I turn on the laptop, all that damn playlist widget does is interrupt me, when I come here. This after I took the time to manually add some 400 songs to it!

Still, I love the idea of exchanging musical tastes and does one find the likes of Solas, Sufjin Stevens and Yann Teirson if someone doesn't tell you, "Hey, solas is the best Celtic out there, Sufjin wrote a tune about John Wayne Gacy Jr. (BLONDIE) and the violin in Yann's 7-PM is mesmerizing."?? Maybe you find it in their little widget...

Saturday, January 26, 2008


I'm shot. Had to work straight through the last four days, but I stepped off that ship, in Christchurch, on time. Crew-x was bit messy for some of the crew, myself included. It's never a good idea to have an open bar at a dinner for a bunch of pirates. Hopefully, the damages were minimal, but I was afraid to look behind the areas the hotel had cordoned off with large tarps the next day. There were some construction workers busy behind the tarps, so at least some of it was structural...

The trip home was, as usual, a bit stressful and involved a few mad dashes through airports, attempting to make flights booked too close together when you have to clear customs, etc. It was especially close in Auckland, where I had to switch terminals, clear customs and buy my way out-they charge 25 NZ dollars to leave the country. I flew first class most of the way and found passable merlot on both the flights to LA and Minnie:) Despite that, I arrived mostly sober and not too worse for wear.

US airlines really treat you like shit when compared to most of their foreign counterparts, but I was thankful they didn't question the amount of wine I drank, just a couple of funny looks.

I've mostly slept on and off since arriving home Thursday night and tomorrow I plan on going outside and clearing the last 6 weeks of snow from my truck and the driveway. I've seen the whole family, now, including my elusive teenagers, my mother-in-law and one sister-in-law. It's damn good to be home.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Inclement weather

Due to inclement weather onboard (internal shit storm), blogging will be temporarily suspended until I get some things sorted and step on dry land, next week. Promise an update from shore if my hotel has wireless!

ps. I'd rather another hurricane than this shit.

pps. personal thank you to Travis, Jack, Heidi and Steph for keeping me amused and on an even keel when things here were totally falling apart. You folks didn't know it, but I desperately needed that very entertaining and humorous exchange to keep from going off the deep end, yesterday.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This Pirate is not a plumber

It was bound to happen. I made the mistake of mentioning it should be a quiet cruise up to crew-x. Nope. A multi-person fuck up has left me a rather complicated mess to sort out before crew-x. Instead of putting my feet up and reveling in the fact that I busted my ass the last week getting everything sorted early, I get to beat my head against the bulkhead for the next 5 days. It is amazing that after 10 years out here, people still manage to shit the bed in new and unique ways, then dump their stinking pile of crap in my lap. I'm not the plumber. I'm not supposed to be so people can screw up on purpose because it might be easier to let me fix it than to do their job, dammit.

Any-fucking-way, I'm supposed to get off in 5 days and allegedly at the harbour in Lyttelton, which is good since there's no way in hell the seas will calm down enough to land a chopper, or pull another ship alongside. This harbour has several berths and from the layout I've seen, the most likely quay is number 7. It just happens to have a WEBCAM and if you tune in sometime around midday on the 23rd, you just might get a glimpse of the pirate doing cartwheels down the gangway as he's headed for the nearest pub and a double-shot of ice-cold vodka.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Songs of the known universe

My mind is all over the place tonight. With so many things metaphorically wrapped up and neatly stored away as this trip rapidly comes to a close, everyone's mind wanders and after nearly 6 weeks of talking to only 10 people, topics of conversation tend to drift ALL over the known universe.

Case in point: My shift-x handover began with a discussion of the known universe. Not work. From there, it degraded? into questions of why we have instruments capable of seeing 10 billion years into the past, but nothing that can provide us with high-resolution images of our closest celestial neighbors-the planets in our solar system and our own moon. What's up with that? From there, we touched on music and books on tape, UFOs and the space program. A logical progression, no? Maybe not.

Did you hear recent research suggests super-massive black holes spin at near the speed of light? Given the power spewed by them and the amount of matter they eat, which must spiral in if a black hole is spinning, I wonder if they influence the direction of rotation of spiral galaxies, which we know know have a preferential rotation direction-contrary to the currently accepted mechanics and distribution of galaxies in the observable universe. Could even be the reason spiral galaxies, well, spiral in the first place. Cool stuff:)

Anyway, my thoughts are scattered in all directions. Tonight I found myself chatting online with technicians from Norway, Malaysia and Australia and then PW calls from the States. I'm typing tape formatting, data streams and software to all points of the compass, while talking about getting my nuts snipped and chiropractor appointments with PW. That's extreme multi-tasking and not once did I type something to the engineers about my balls, thankfully.

I've also been doing a little online research on cobra venom protease and it's many uses-fascinating stuff when you figure out what the scientists are actually on about. I can thank the King's glorious tripod and the Queen (whom I can't link, yet...) for that one. Oh, the hobbies one can pick up from the Internets. Found some REALLY interesting stuff on our space program, but won't mention it for fear of looking like a crackpot (too late for that, you say?), other than than to say, I'll be sending it your way, Blondie. Interviews, mission transcripts and a healthy dose of conspiracy theory. (not "the Apollo program was a fake" conspiracy, either)

So, back to last night's conversation. For a promise of a copy of my audio book on the known universe and a bit of my music, I was given some great, new music from all over the planet, by the look of it. I recognized only two artists; Martha Wainwright and Sigur Ros, the latter being from Iceland and a recent favorite of mine, though I have little in my collection. Good times and good tunes. He gets some Joe, The Waifs, Mickey Hart's Mystery Box, Robert Earl Keen Jr, Lucinda Williams and Solas. Oh, and LL? I'm slipping in the tune from Lawless I downloaded way back when;) Lawless is headed to Great Britain, via New Zealand.

Speaking of good times, the latest news is that we may actually crew-x on time and even get most of a day to relax and decompress in NZ. I can only hope. Now, if I could only get word on what ship I'm next headed to and when, but alas, that never happens. For all I know, my next assignment will be Lake Superior, or offshore Cuba.

Finally, I have a strange rash in my right armpit. I wonder if it's from the African deodorant I bought in NZ, or from my headphone cord burning me in the sauna. I wear my mp3 player on my right arm and yes, I wear my headphones in the sauna...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's all over but the music

Hurricane's over, repair work on the in-sea gear is over, even the paperwork is nearly over. Boredom slowly creeps up as my back is turned...

So, I'm looking at my profile page and my overall listening habits for 2008 and I see that KISS and Beethoven are slugging it out at number 17! I think in the end Ludvig will pound the demon rockers, but either way, a drunken Dean Martin hasn't a chance to pick himself up from the floor at number 117, even if I do like that Maria song, as well as good, stiff drink now and then...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The other side

Storm's over and we are picking up the pieces, literally. It was intense and fortunately ended after only a little over 24 hours. We recorded sustained winds of over 70 knots, or 88 mph, which is a force 12 on the Beaufort Scale and a category 1 hurricane, to boot.

Though it wasn't named since it's out in the middle of southern nowhere, I am officially chalking up an other hurricane on my list. This one managed to get me, too. After all these years and hurricanes at sea , I finally took a digger. A pair of waves heeled us over pretty good at about 50 degrees and I attempted to vacate my chair as it slid backwards into the desk 15 feet behind me. I stepped on a metal rod that slid out from under my desk and went down on my face. When the ship rolled back, I slid forward into my filing cabinet and drove the little button on my ball cap into the top of my head. Fuck me, it still hurts!

Anyway, we have a lot of damaged equipment to repair and recover from the sea, yet. Ciao.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Not a friendly place

The shit has hit the fan out here. I can't get into details, but the weather has just dealt us a crippling blow and we are thoroughly fucked, but afloat for the time-being. I hate this fucking place. Um, the regularly scheduled blogging may be interrupted for a while...

Regularly scheduled programming

Every once in a while some asshole who shouldn't get under your skin does just that. LL's right, "Fuck em. Drive on."

Driving on, the road is getting bumpy out here, AGAIN. This is one gawd-awful place to work. Winds and seas are increasing, quickly. I suspect it won't be long and we'll be running NE for shelter, again. It's getting difficult to keep my chair at the desk and shit keeps hitting the floor, or banging on the bulkheads.

I did another 13.5KM on the elliptical yesterday after shift, working up several blisters and a sore hip-the latter kept me up till about 7m, a fact I began to bemoan at exactly 10:45pm when my alarm went off. Between the lack of sleep and the rolling ship, I am exhausted and cranky. Breakfast is served in 15 minutes. I hope they've got chili, or something else spicy to wake me up, but I bet it's something like pancakes and a casserole, again. Did i mention we received a small care shipment from our chase boat? We took our jet-powered rescue boat over there and brought back several loads of fruits and vegetables. We've had bowls of cherries in the mess for the last 3 days and boy are they good. Lots of plums, apples and a ton of fruits I am unfamiliar with and have discovered I don't like. Ever had a leeche? They suck.

A Public Service Announcement

Yesterday I get this email that asks me why I bother to blog. Tells me that I should stop, I have nothing to offer anyone, my site is pointless, etc. Apparently I missed the memo directing me to be socially responsible and offer only worthwhile material like a primer on needlepoint, and how-to-clean your fucking piece of shit oil-burning, money sucking bastard of a furnace. Now, I'm a nice guy so I won't hammer on the poor schmuck who took the time to offer me an honest, if somewhat hard-line assessment of my site. What I will do is just point out a few things.

1. This is MY blog and as I read the fine print, I can write whatever I feel.


3. Right at the top of this site are two small clues as to the content and purpose of this site. The title should suggest something to anyone who reads it. I'm not too bright and write here when I have too much time on my hands. Underneath is a short statement that succinctly sums up the site and should alleviate any expectations you might have about worthwhile content. It does not read "SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE WEBSITE WHOSE SOLE PURPOSE IS ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE MASSES AND THE CREATIVE ENGINE DESTINED TO BRING ABOUT WORLD PEACE"

4. You have a "back" button on your browser, dude. It's that green arrow in the upper left corner.

5. I've just spent 2.5 hours cruising animal porn sites, dodgey online lenders, black-market pill vendors and the like. At each stop I looked for an opportunity to register with them and used your email address. Did I say I was a nice guy? I lied.

(this site will now return to it's regularly scheduled programming)

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Apparently, modern technology is so wonderful that you can make an appointment to have your nuts snipped while 15,000 miles from home, in the middle of the world's most remote ocean. I'm two days from the nearest land, New Zealand, and I'm hanging on the phone with a receptionist, making jokes about how Wednesday is Prince spaghetti AND meatball day because that's the day the urologist from the big city visits our little hospital to snip nuts. Gitche Gitche Ya Ya.

We don't need no stinking poo-poo platter

With the possible exception of a few of PW's more memorable meals, I don't think I've had many food hangovers. Yesterday I was prompted to binge eat to the point that I'm actually ill tonight.

The chef and his staff of highly motivated and brilliant cooks prepared; duck in mint sauce, coconut crusted prawns and mango sauce, paprika pork and mushrooms in char sui with sour cream, steamed bok choy, garlic crusted potatoes and finally, dumplings in butterscotch sauce. I finished my fourth helping and all that was missing was the bucket at my feet, a waitress scrubbing the carpet and Gaston attempting to slip one thin mint past my lips with a knife.

Though it was difficult, I managed to stumble back to my rack and collapse, bloated and moaning. I actually couldn't sleep, or move, I just lay there for hours, threatening to burst through my T-shirt. This when I had grand plans to reach for 15KM on the elliptical after shift. Bastards.

In other news, there is no other news.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Music to my ears?

The wind is freaking howling. Lines and rigging vibrating; a discordant, shrieking symphony that can be heard from all corners of the ship. A line banging against the bulkhead next to my bunk all damn night, an off-beat, base drum accompanying the demented string section, topside.

Our shelter, the NZ coast, no longer offers such as the winds have now shifted to the SW. We're in for 2-3 more days of this, too. Fortunately, the winds have stayed below 50 knots for the most part. Still, I am damn tired of the shitty weather down here. Tired of sitting down to pee, having to keep at least one hand-hold in the shower and stumbling around like a drunken idiot when I drag my sorry ass out of the rack every night.

Typical for an operation such as mine-as soon as I managed to get everything sorted and running smoothly, we've run into a problem with generating something incredibly simple that we've never had a simple solution for in all the years we've been out here doing this type of work-a label. A damn sticky label to slap on our final product. R&D expects us to generate our products with a 50 million dollar computer system and then label said product with a fucking crayon.

While stewing on this issue, the database I run under decided it was full and will not let me continue with this project. Just shut me down, cold. In this area, I know just enough to be dangerous, so I've put in a call for help to our engineers onshore. Waiting............................

In other news, with all the problems for this project sorted (until just now), I'm back in the gym instead of working 16 hr shifts. Despite a long break, I managed to knock out 13.5 KM in only an hour on the elliptical machine, yesterday. I've still got over 100KM to Taunton, but I'm hopeful. The medic says the next challenge involves the number of times you can scale and return from the peak of Mount Everest, using the ship's stairs. Sounds painful.

Finally, in order to come full circle in this post-music:

I was never a big Elvis Costello fan. Actually I was never a fan, at all. I've recently re-discovered Elvis via the ship's digital music collection. I downloaded Very Best of Elvis Costello (Polygram International) and damned if can't stop listening to it, over and over. The guy's an incredible songwriter. Pure genius.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The outskirts of Dodge

We're sort of in the suburbs of Dodge, not quite outta, yet. It's rough, real rough. The towed gear is taking a pounding and it's quite unpleasant onboard. Sleeping was a bit of a bear yesterday, what with all the banging and crashing around in my cabin. Everything is stowed, or tied down, but the loose items in the medicine cabinet and my locker were having a field day. I got up this morning to find my shaving cream and toothpaste having sex in the corner, with the voyeuristic Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap watching the whole affair.

Also woke up tired from the whole staying wedged in the rack thing. We've had swell off the stern quarter and it's rolling us, badly. This doesn't bode well for the bunks orientated in-line with the keel. With a little over 100KM to go before NZ gives us her lee, it's going to be a long night of holding onto the desk while typing. Most of the crew are idle while the operation is shut down. Not me. I've still got to keep my operations humming in this crap. Unfortunately, certain bits of my system react unfavorably to swaying and getting slammed around. Makes for a long night of mothering all the bits and bobs, cajoling them into working and giving them lovin' when they get bent out of shape.

On the bright side of things, I finally have all aspects of my operation up and running smoothly, disregarding the heavy seas. I can finally turn to the paperwork, getting work instructions, handover notes and a final report started, in preparation for getting the hell out of here. This has not been one of my better trips, to say the least. I can only thank my lucky stars that the young trainee they saddled me with has proven to be more than competent and helped to ease the burden whilst shit hit the fan over the holidays and into last week.

Oh, GOOD LORD!! Here comes the damn bubblegum pop crap over the instrument room stereo. Everyone's looking my way to see if I break out the fire axe hangin just outside my door. Other people's fucking kids. I'm going for 3 O'clock tea. Later.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Run for your lives

Yet ANOTHER nasty storm is a brewin'. As bad as the last one and forecast to last four days. We are doing a quick bit o testing for the client, then picking up and getting the fuck outta Dodge.

It goes on the outside

So yesterday I'm eating something called a chicken sausage that resembles a hot dog. I get 3/4 of the way through it and see a little bit of what looks like plastic wrap, sticking out from the uneaten end and I give it a tug. About 3 inches of what appears to be a long, thin plastic bag emerges. It resembles a condom so closely that I simply stood up, showed the cooks, dumped it and left to get back to work. The number of condom jokes flying around the instrument room 28 hours later is killing me.

Even with the best chefs money can buy, cooking out here, you never know what you're going to get when your food is bought by the ton in god only knows what port. dang.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Ornery Bastard

The average age of the crew on here is about 24, maybe slightly younger. Couple that with dozens of Aussies and Kiwis and I find the sense of humor and atmosphere to be quite different from my last operation-a boat full of aging, silver-haired Americans. For instance, on my last operation, if somebody's birthday was discovered to fall during a trip (most were kept close to the vest), you might wish the poor bastard a happy birthday and at most a prankster might quietly slip a bottle of Maalox, or a tube of hemorrhoid cream onto his workstation.

Here, some bright-eyed trainee paints a fucking mural on the notice board outside the mess. Additional assholes put up an electronic card that looks like a car, honks and plays happy birthday whenever ALL the other trainees push the hood every fucking time they pass by it while I'm trying to eat a quiet meal and think of a place, any place, other than this. Oh and one of those goofy looking party hats that resembles one of Madonna's tits back in the 90's. Remember the pointy, leather bustier. Yeah, they expect you to walk around for 12 hours looking like you have Madonna's bustier on your head. We've had several birthdays and the younger people DO wear the damn thing.

I've noticed the music sucks the sweat off a dead skunk, too. A lot of European techno shite and the worst of the worst pop-crap like Brittany Spears (I had to ask someone, "what's this shit?" and now I can finally say I've heard Brittany Spears and hate her music) and the Spice Girls (same story-now I've heard them and they blow). Thank God I've got my headphones. Otherwise, by now I would have spooned somebody's eyes out and had them with afternoon tea. JUST NOW, I swear, just now, Smells like Teen Spirit, by Nirvana came on and I was gonna say that after 3 weeks somebody finally played a tune that hasn't ever been heard at the annual Cream party in Ibiza. (I fucking HATE drum machines and some parents should make like gerbils and eat their young) Anyway, they skipped the Nirvana 10 seconds after it came on. Fucking gerbils.

Is that harsh? I can't wear my headphones right now because I have to keep getting up and change data tapes in another room-thus the rage as I hear the 34th version of exactly the same beat. The day a decent classic rock song debuts in here Iguanas will fall from the trees. Yes, Steph, I've latched on to that phrase and I like it!

So, that's about it from 46 degrees South. It's still windy, with heavy seas, work is a pain in the ass and I'm an ornery bastard.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Do a little dance..

VICTORY!!!! Pardon my Indonesian, but fuck all those pencil-necked computer jockeys in the office who couldn't see past the forest for all of the trees. Higher technology isn't always good, or right. Sometimes you gotta kick it old-school, especially when shit hits the fan. It may be a little premature, yet, but I'm doing a little victory dance on the helideck, despite the weather.


Beyond frustration

I've gone beyond frustration to that warm, happy place called "I No Longer Give A Shit". I've got half the phd's on the planet working on the issues I'm facing out here and nobody has any answers. Time to kick back and smell the roses, everything that can be done has been done and now we have to wait....and wait.........and wait.

As usual, the weather is much worse than the predicted forecast. We've turned tail and hauled ass behind New Zealand, seeking shelter off the Eastern coast. Even in the lee, it's a bit rough, though. The duration of the storm has also outstripped the forecast and our back-up plan has been extended. Hopefully, soon we will turn for the prospect and get back to business!

With the recent stresses of work, I took to smoking a bit, even while on The Patch. Upon entering the city limits of I No Longer Give A Shit, I stopped again, and am now even using a lower-dose patch. The urge to smoke is gone, along with the urge to repeatedly bang my head against the bulkhead. Now all I have to do is get back in the gym and threaten the cooks with bodily harm if they continue to bake pastries, pies and cookies.

So, It's back to work and daydreaming about days like this:

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Ugh. Two, 16 hr shifts, separated by a little restless sleep, trying to wedge myself in the rack against heavy seas. The stress level is through the roof out here as we find each problem compounded with another, just when we think the problem is solved. I'm so tense, unexpected noises are making me jump out of my skin and yet I'm guzzling coffee like water, just to stay coherent.

It's times like these that make me question what the fuck I am doing out here. The trips where you don't do your job, but instead fight with failed systems, bad data, incorrect procedures, extremely bad weather and a pissed-off client who's paying you tens of millions of dollars for garbage, seem to take years off your life. I nearly had a stroke this morning when I couldn't get the washing machine to start up. Good Lord, I'm in a bad place right now.

I wish I could snuggle up between PW & LP and sleep for a month, forgetting about this place and this lousy life out here, entirely. I would also give just about anything for a liter or two of distilled potato.

Nonetheless, they've got me trapped. I can't escape for home and there's no distilled potatoes onboard, so I'll carry on. With that, I'll Leave you with a picture of my latest, "ride". It had better ride well through the upcoming storm. The next 24 hrs are forecast to be at least as bad as the storm I "dead" blogged up in the Chukchi Sea, about a year and a half ago, where it nearly sank the damn ship. Good times.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Year of the Rat: A time of renewal

Yesterday, I decided to completely ignore what most of you considered to be a holiday. After a rough, 16-hr day, I decided to recognize and celebrate the Chinese New Year, instead. The year 4706-Year of the Rat, promises to be a better one for me, a year of renewal and prosperity. I'm looking forward to celebrating the new year beginning February 7th, AND I'll be celebrating at home, with my family.

I suppose in keeping with Chinese New Year tradition, we'll light off fireworks and have a ceremony to honor Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and our ancestors. After the "Sacrifice to the Ancestors" ritual, we'll gather around the table for a traditional "weilu", or "surrounding the stove" feast.

In keeping with tradition, we'll have 15 more days of holiday decorations; doors and walls festooned with poetic couplets and hand-written happy wishes to each other for new year. Blooming flowers, bamboo and pine sprigs in vases. Platters of oranges and plum blossoms. All the emblems of a reawakening of nature.

The decorations will stay up for the 15 day celebration, lasting from the first full moon of the year, until the second. It will be a glorious two weeks, honoring in turn, the gods of Heaven and Earth, our ancestors, our In-Laws (Oy! Busia!), and on the fifth day, called "Poo Woo", honoring the God of Wealth(everyone's a capitalist at heart, aren't they?).

Following that are days celebrating friends and family, the farmer's yield, gifts to the Jade God and alternating days of rich and simple, or lean foods. The 14th day is spent in preparation for the Lantern Festival, celebrated on the 15th night.

I look forward to the new year and all it's pomp and circumstance, it's feasts and rituals and the silent moments in between. It should be a glorious and peaceful time for all. I hope PW remembers to get the rice paper for the Lanterns, though...

/Peace, love and prosperity for all of you in the coming new year.