Friday, February 29, 2008

Fish and nuts is all I've got

Not much to report from down here.  Same old same old.  We're back at sea and hard at work.  I've spent the last week attempting to work out some technical bugs holding things up and frustratingly, have had little success.  However, I've received word that a work-around has been accepted and that should make my life out here much less stressful, barring any system issues (knock wood).

******
My nuts are still healing and sitting a 12-hr shift is still extremely uncomfortable, but I am bearing up and off the hard drugs.  Another week and I'll be itching to take them out for a test drive.  Who am I kidding?  I'm ready right now, but a damn long way from home.  Uh, that reminds me of the joke about how there's only two kinds of sailors, but never mind...

******
Starting tonight, I'm back on the elliptical machine and the nicotine patch.  I've got to get back in shape after 5 weeks off my feet and smoking?  I only brought a limited amount and there are no smokes onboard.  Quit or quit are my only options...

******
The weather down here is only getting worse.  Every day is cold, windy and rainy.  Very unpleasant!

******
Has anyone ever had Patagonian Toothfish?  Evidently, it is one of the most expensive fish on the market, going for up to $40.00USD per kilo.  We traded a bunch of prawns for some while in port and man, is it good.  Better than any other salt-water fish I've ever had.  Not the best fish, mind you but very similar in taste and texture to walleye, which we call "poor man's lobster" back home and is pound-for-pound the best-eating fish in the world.  Anyway, they're ugly, as you can see, but taste pretty damn fine and would be even better with a bit of sav blanc, you know?

Peace.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Into the blue

Woke up tonight to find we are underway. I believe we got underway
while I was in the sauna, yesterday, but I wasn't paying attention. I
was reveling in thoughts of personal effects, clean clothes, my own
stuff, unpacked like Christmas morning. It had been so long since I
packed my bag, that I had forgotten what I brought for this trip.
Unpacking really did have all the magic of a Christmas morning. I
squealed with joy over things like foot spray and battery chargers,
new socks and my comfy slippers. Three other crew were not so lucky
and sailed without their bags. A total of 8 out of 50 crew had their
bags lost in transit, to begin with. Keep that statistic in your
mind when traveling internationally. It's not just NZ either. Bags
were lost in Europe, the middle east, Asia and mine in LA. It's
common-place and getting worse. The amount of air travel is growing
and more bags are lost every year. If I didn't travel with a laptop
and switch from ship to ship so often (requiring a bit more stuff), I
would only travel with a single, small carry-on.

Off subject, but how many of you follow elections in other countries?
I have been besieged with inquiries on our upcoming election by the
rest of the crew since arriving. The international crew members have
many questions and not surprisingly seem to be more informed on the
candidates and issues than the average American. In the few short days
I've been aboard, I've gained some valuable insight that I don't
believe I would have gotten at home. Watching the foreign news
programs on here, I've noticed they have a much broader view and
everything is discussed in the global sense. It's sort of refreshing,
actually.

To wrap things up; the weather here is bad. We are actually NOT
sailing toward the prospect. We pulled out of the harbor into total
shite and were forced to turn North, away from the prospect. The food
is GREAT, same galley staff as last trip and they rock. Fillet
mignon, miso soup and Thai noodles for breakfast. Work is crap-tons
of problems right from the moment I stepped onboard. I hate having to
re-do things! I'm gonna go get a cup of coffee, sit down, wiggle
around in my clean underwear and read all your blogs. Peace.

--
Козла́ бо́йся спе́реди, коня́ — сза́ди, а лихо́го челове́ка — со всех сторо́н.

* Translation: Beware of the goat from its front side, of the horse -
from its back side, and the evil man - from any side.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

FINALLY

I would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. I
finally have clean underwear.

You pay, I'll pump

We're just about to move over to the fuel dock and bunker. How would
you like to pull up to the pump, fill'er up and the attendant
says,"that'll be two hundred thousand nine-hundred eighty nine dollars
and twenty-three cents, please."

inside out or back to front?

As is common in this business, shit hit the fan only an hour after my
shift ended. I was forced to put in another 5 and a half hours,
ending my day by talking to an irate Chinese man, calling on his cell
phone from Malaysia, apparently from inside a toilet bowl, from the
sound of it. When I was finally able to drag myself off to bed, I
couldn't sleep from the stress and all the damn hydraulics going for
the cranes and winches. I managed an hour's sleep and crawled out of
that deep, dark hole to find that my luggage was not delivered. Back
to front, or inside out were the only options available this morning.
This will be one of those days (nights) where I curse my choice of
careers about every five minutes. I was really looking forward to
clean underwear.

We're in port until late today and hopefully my bag will show up, or
it's off to the city to shop for some overly expensive clothes after
we move over to the fuel dock and begin bunkering. Hopefully, I can
get someone to take my gangway watch if I need to go shopping. I
really need to get a better attitude this early in the trip, or it's
going to be a long one. Like being able to observe a rainbow, I need
to look at life with the sun at my back and 42 degrees below the rain
shower. Thirty-seven days to go.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Clean underwear on the Horizon

My agent ashore has just informed me that the airlines has located my
bag in Uzbekistan and it should arrive before we sail. Underwear.
Clean underwear. With a side of socks. And a T-shirt.

Back to work

Where to start?

Couldn't sleep Thursday night, both from the pain of my surgery and
the pain of leaving my family, again. I flew out for NZ on Friday.
Still sore, hobbling and drugged. That right there pretty much sets
the stage for only bad things to come.

I managed to make my flight to LA in relatively little discomfort,
despite minimizing my painkillers in order to deal with the inevitable
problems getting ticketed and making my flight to Auckland. I had
first class for that leg and a wider seat helped. A lot.

It went downhill as I left the country. The LA/Auckland flight is
roughly 12 hours, or should I have said a rough 12 hours? I
alternated between sitting as long as I could and walking as much as I
could stand it. I ate roughly 3 weeks of painkillers in 12 hours. I
was drooling and couldn't quite speak coherently by the time we
landed, but I walked off the plane under my own power in Auckland.
Yeah, I was bent at 90 degrees with hand cupping my balls like a 90's
Quasimodo, but I walked off.

I was forced to stand in line at immigration for an hour and a half
and the first thing the agent did was to ask me what was wrong. I was
still drooling and sweating profusely. She made me fully explain what
was wrong and THEN turned red and apologized. Three minutes later I
found out my luggage didn't make it to Auckland with me. It took an
hour to deal with the "lost luggage" assholes and missed my connecting
flight. Caught the next one, but they had to hold the plane while I
ran across the fucking airport in the rain. That's right, the whole
fucking airport, not just a terminal. Outside, in the rain. With an
extra-large, painful sac. If you can imagine that 90's Quasimodo
trying to do an "OJ" through the airport, that was me. I was a
fucking mess for the whole flight and while finally waiting for my
last flight, I think I sat and cried for a while.

The drive from the airport was also kind of rough-a bit bumpy for my
condition. I tried to concentrate on the scenery and noted the
following: The trees were mostly coniferous (we are well below the
45th parallel) with a few palms mixed in. Palm trees and pines??
Also saw some smaller trees that looked to be a cross between a pine
tree and a cactus-they were kind of evil looking. All the vegetation
is wind-blasted and pointing to the dominant, down-wind direction
(looks to be ENE). Homes and businesses look much like their US
counterparts, but they drive a lot of funny-looking little cars here
just like Europe. I think this would be a nice place to live,
especially with the views of the Southern Alps.

By the time I arrived here, I somehow felt better and not only ate,
but took a short walk around town after checking into my hotel and
IM'ing PW to tell her I was alive. I took a good look around this
time, leaving my camera behind, choosing to actually just see things.
What a pleasant, little town, sidewalk cafes, MANY outfitters for the
huge backpacking tourism, Turkish kebab stalls, small Thai
restaurants, an abundance of book stores and music coming from at
least one business on each block. Cobblestone streets and lots of
trees. A fair number of turn-of-the-century buildings and artwork in
the squares and the middle of the roundabouts. It was pleasant enough
to bring me down from the pain and let me almost enjoy the HUGE
painkiller buzz I had carried all the way from LA. I had a good,
old-fashioned Donner kebab with sauce and salad, a coffee taken at a
sidewalk cafe and then slept the sleep of the dead. I dreamed that I
flew around Mars in a bodysuit painted like a hawk, riding the
thermals kicked up at the daylight terminator. Yeah, Oxycontin is
good for dreaming when combined with a healthy overdose of codeine and
Flexaril. Really.

Woke up at 4am and drank 8 cups of coffee to bring me out of my
stupor. First hotel room I've ever had that contained enough coffee
to make 8 cups. Thank the fucking heavens for that, I've still got
enough shit in me to keep me loopy for another week. Anyway, at first
light I walked the city for a while and took in another couple cups of
coffee once the sidewalk cafes opened up. Downed a nice, little
pastry from a small bakery that looked as if it had been in business
back before electricity. We bussed out for the port at 9am and found
the ship quayside dealing with yet another catastrophic incident and a
huge tangle of gear, being pulled apart with cranes, forklifts, most
of the crew and not just a few local blokes who looked like
professional wrestlers, or worse. Big, ugly fuckers with tree-trunk
arms.

Had a couple hours of hand-over with my opposite, got a bite to eat,
stood a gangway watch and called to find out my luggage has not been
found after 24 hours. Put the clothes I've been wearing since Friday
morning (ugh) in the wash with a towel wrapped around me. Going to
knock of early tomorrow morning and head back into town to buy all new
clothes, suitcase, toiletries and whatnot. Fuck.

We'll head back to sea sometime Wednesday, or still Tuesday for you
folks on the other side of the dateline. I miss you PW.

Peace.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Epidemic! and my scrotum, of course

Another drugged up, pain-fogged day lugging around my 14-pound scrotum. I can almost wrap my hand around the left side. I think this means the swelling has begun to go down, but I won't know until it gets small enough to get my hand around it. I never thought to get out a tape measure and record its circumference. Funny how you miss the common-sense things like measuring the size of your scrotum when you're tearing up from the pain and drugged out of your mind.

I've been laying around in bed, doing a lot of reading. I bought Bill Shatner's latest Star Trek novel about the early years when Jim Kirk and Spock first met. Not his best work, but it fills an interesting gap in the Star Trek timeline. Without giving too much away for those few who might read such a book, Spock and Jim meet in a strip club, go to jail and steal the Enterprise. It also explains how they both managed to end up in Starfleet-to get out of jail. It was a whimsical, tale that also manages to fit in nicely with what we know of their personalities and the next 200-odd years of their lives. At the end of the day, it's a good read and must-read for die hard trekkies, anyway.

I also bought new copies of the Red.Green/Blue Mars series. I was reminded of this while recommending some good SF books to Blondie and decided to re-read the series. I'm nearly done with Red mars and it's not quite as good as I remember it, but it will suffice.

I also took it upon myself to introduce LP to the SF/Fantasy genre while I'm house-bound. I decided to begin with Ann Mcaffery's Pern series. I figured LP would like the idea of people riding fire-breathing dragons fighting to save the planet from the terrible space-born thread. Seems I picked a winner-she loves the story and is fascinated by the dragons and their telepathic abilities, which affords the reader a view of their personalities. In less than a week we've finished the first novel, only reading it at bed-time. It's vocabulary is more advanced than I thought it would be and requires a lot of explanations and definitions, but LP seems quite enthralled and I am never happier than when she is curled up under my arm, head on my chest as I read her a good story.

***

Having been to the hospital more times this week than all of last year, I've been asked numerous times if I received a flu shot this year. Standard answer: Never get a flu shot, or the flu. Well, not unlike 43 other states of the union, the flu has come to Michigan and here-my little corner of the UP. Seems that there has been thought about closing the elementary school with something like 1 in 3 kids out sick. The hospital has initiated quarantine rules, limiting who can visit and also has masks and hand sanitizers handed out at the door.

Today, my son drives up and crashes out sick as a dog. I wake up to find him home sick (haven't seen him all week) and PW on the couch, also sick. Both of them ended up driving to the hospital to get tested for the flu. They didn't even bother testing them. He's obviously got the flu and most likely PW too, has it. Both got prescriptions for Tamiflu. My ex called while they were gone to tell me that my oldest daughter might also have it. This is not good. I'm hobbled, been taking anti-biotics for 2 weeks and maybe just now starting to mend and now I'm surrounded by a rather nasty strain of the flu. I'm supposed to fly back to work in six days. Things are not looking good for me to make it work, healthy. I really don't want to take the flu to my ship, either.

***

In other news, there is no other news-all I do is lay around with my balls in a heating pad and take drugs. Boredom...

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Scrotum Chronicles

This morning, PW took me to the hospital for what seems like the hundredth time. Everyone DOES know us by name, now, so it's not my drug-enhanced imagination-we've spent a lot of time there, this week. Everybody in the hospital waved at me as we left. Yesterday, after my last IV, as I was leaning against the wall in the hallway, some stranger walked up, put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Hang in there, man". My infected scrotum, the rock star.

The doc seemed foolishly optimistic, but all I can say is the bag has only stopped getting bigger. He gave the bag a friendly squeeze and left us with a couple trial packages of antacid tablets and a pamphlet on infected testicles. I keep looking at the diagrams in the same way some people like to be scared by horror movies.


Anyway, it's hard as a rock and heavy as a common house brick, if not heavier. Feels like things are ripping and tearing what with the mass of my sac and gravity being 32 feet per second squared. In fact, the damn thing's so heavy I feel like I could measure gravity anomalies with it. Who needs a cloud of Sr atoms in a Bose-Einstein condensate and observations of Bloch oscillations to measure micro differences in g? You could use my sac and the waves of pain oscillating from it, saving a ton of money on the Strontium and laser beams. Strontium is NOT cheap and inflamed bags must be a dime a dozen, right?


By the way, car rides suck when carrying a boulder in your sac. I'm now back to wearing the post-operative jock strap to keep the damn thing from ripping off and tearing a hole through the floor.

Finally, the only bright spot this week has been the wonderful care PW has bestowed upon me. I'd be lost without her.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ralph, the evil testicle

My diagnosis of "not infection" turned out to be wrong. My sack is now roughly 8 inches in diameter and still growing.

I've spent the majority of the last 2 days at the hospital and am returning in 3 hours-it's 4:40 am right now. Yesterday, I took another needle in the left nut. I was really missing the sensation after the first one last week, so I was grateful to get even one more. After the needle, he slashed my sack open, again. Not satisfied with the slash he-mind you it makes me queasy to even think about it, now-he grabbed my nuts and squeezed, hard. I didn't vomit so much as choke, gurgle and loose control of all my bodily functions. He told me not to worry about the loss of control-that it was a "normal" reaction. No shit, sherlock.

After more prodding and poking, he decided that an ultrasound would decide whether or not I would have to be hospitalized. I thought crushing my balls pretty much meant I would never walk again, and necessitated a lengthy stay while getting therapy. Surprisingly, he expected me to get up off the floor, clean myself up and waltz down to radiology. Not that he didn't have some small pity for me-he wrote me a scrip for Oyxcontin before I even wiped the bile off my shirt.

Bolstered with the thought of impending narcotic escape, if not bliss, I made my way slowly down to radiology. After no less than three total strangers asking me how my scrotum felt, I'd pretty much lost all my dignity and looked forward to some fine, young intern squirting warm KY on my berries and gently massaging them while I laid back, covered in warm towels. Not unlike a good happy ending in Thailand, no?

No.

Being a geophysicist, and most importantly, specializing in the seismic science, I should have better appreciated the need for good coupling when getting your nuts imaged. No, not that kind of coupling. I mean the better and firmer the contact, the better the sound waves propagate.

Yes. This means the fine young intern doesn't massage so much as bear down on my already tortured testicles. I enjoyed the KY for about 3 seconds before she bore down on my raved scrotum with an intensity that rivaled that of my doctors visegrip-like hand. Gurgled, again.

It was some consolation that while drifting in and out of consciousness, I noticed that she was probably only 20 years old and absolutely mortified by having to spend 30 minutes with her hand on my sack while I squirmed and moaned and cried like a baby. Also, it interesting to learn about the amplitudes and frequency range and ultrasound uses. In theory, with the right processing applied, an ultrasound is capable of resolution measured in millimeters. They can focus the depth of penetration on the fly, which is pretty cool, too. Makes me wonder if there isn't some sort of application there for vibroseis rigs.

Anyway, where was I? She pretty much crushed and mangled my balls, thoroughly completing the job Doc Visegrips started. Then she noted I was bleeding a lot and had gotten blood all over her sonde. I wiped away the tears and hobbled away.

Believe it, or not, I then left the hospital for a quick dentist appointment. Felt like asking him to drill into my eyeball, or kneecap, just for shits and giggles.

Later, the doc determined that I didn't need to be hospitalized for pain control and that I could get my I.V.'s on the fly. I popped down to the lab, sat in a lazyboy for an hour and got a bag of the good shit. I'm heading back this morning for another bag, too.

I like my scrotal region and have become very attached to it. While I can make a few jokes about it cause I'm drugged outta my mind, I really, really hope I'm not going to loose any more of it. Of course YOU guys want to see it, but the Hinden-bag as Travis so aptly named it yesterday, must stay in the hanger, according to PW. Not to leave you totally swinging in the breeze, I have a couple of ultrasounds here for your viewing pleasure:

The first one is the right and still normal at this writing, testicle. Say hello to my testicle, his name is Roy, for reasons only a few would know. This is a full-on shot of him, looking perpendicular to the major axis of the ellipse. You can see what's left of the vas and epididymus and they are faint and normal. A fine looking, right nut. Plenty of character, quick with a joke and always putting in 110% while on the job.

Now meet Ralph, his evil twin. We see him from a slightly end-on view in order to better image the fact that all his hardware is fucked. Also, after getting squeezed, clamped, poked and prodded, you can see he's actually cowering in the corner of my scrotum, weeping. He knows he's close to getting the axe and about as happy as I am at the prospect.

Sorry for the lousy photos, but I'm stoned, in pain and it's earl, early morning. I'm not exactly on my best game, you know? Well, my bag of frozen peas is no longer frozen, so I gotta hobble downstairs for the back up bag of peas and diced carrots. I hate the sharp corners on the carrots, but it's the best I've got.

Monday, February 11, 2008

My balls hurt and of course it's 5am

I woke up at 5am this morning with a horrible ache in my left nut. Hmmm, before I began blogging, I don't think I could have ever imagined typing out such a statement for the whole world to read.

I woke up at 5am this morning with a horrible ache in my left nut.

Well there it is. I'm laying here on the couch, waiting for 8am so I can call the butcher, I mean doctor who slashed, I mean snipped my nuts to ask him why I would wake up a week later in mortal pain. Whatever the case, it can't be good and I'm not fucking amused at this turn of events.

PW was smart enough to immediately get me a couple of hydrocodone pills and the agony has quieted to dull ache-kinda like 3 minutes after a nasty kick in the balls. You know, the point when you can breathe again and you're sure you're not going to puke, but wonder if it would help and are still willing to do ANYTHING to make the pain go away. That's about where I'm at right now.

Gee, what else can I say about my balls to a bunch of people I don't know? Well, there's little or no swelling and no redness, so I kind of doubt it's an infection. It just fucking hurts.

OK, enough about my balls. I'm hobbling downstairs for a smoke.

I just realized that EVERY time I need the services of a doctor, dentist, auto mechanic, prostitute, or furnace repair technician, it's after hours on the weekend, middle of the fucking night, whatever. Why is this? Oh, and I just threw in the prostitute to see if you're paying attention.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Great White North

We've got a nice blizzard going, venison soaking in orange juice, teriyaki sauce, garlic, onions, cranberries and rosemary. Wine is cracked, LP's playing in the other room, singing to herself. PW and Mr. Bud are on their way here for dinner, vino and microbrews.

LP and I just returned from a very small town north of here, called Calumet. We drove up to a little store that specializes in copper stuff, knick-knacks and the like. We picked up a combination switch/outlet cover that PW's sister and boyfriend (boyfriend sounds wrong for someone whose over 40 dude-pop the question...) had made for us while I was at sea. It's a metal silhouette of a moose and pine trees and I'll pst a picture after we install it:) I think it looks pretty cool.

Right next door is the taffy shop. It's a store filled with barrels of taffy and old-fashioned candies, foods, fudge, candles, coffee, etc. LP loves to take a small basket and walk around the barrels picking out taffy. I like the coffee, especially on a day like this-windy and snowy. Oh, and we bought a huge chunk of fudge for dessert and a gift for my Father-in-Law's cabin, which we'll be at soon and man I can't wait-the place is like peace and relaxation in a bottle. Kind of like a fine Merlot...

Well, time to tidy up the kitchen, fill a glass of wine for PW and get ready to grill up about 15, 2 1/2" venison fillets.

Peace.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

All's quiet here :)

Still recovering. Still sore, too-dammit. Pondering a return visit to the butcher to get my bits and bobs checked out. I can't seem to sit up straight, or lift anything heavy without a lot of pain. They look, but don't feel, normal. Sucks.

Had Mr. Bud over for a wonderful venison steak dinner. PW did an awesome job cookin up the grub and I discovered mixing PW's WAY too sweet table wine with a rather astringent Merlot that a friend of Mr. Bud's brewed up ranked as one of the best wines I've ever had. Savored every last drop as I shifted amounts of each, to create every glass, a distinct taste and bouquet. God it was good. Anyway, it was good to connect with Mr. Bud for a while and it was a nice, mellow night.

Yesterday...no, two days ago, PW and I went out and impulse-bought a new ride. It's a GOLD, not champagne (sorry honey), AWD Mercury Mountaineer. I like it for taking only a few minutes to decide on and purchase it. Had to contemplate and research all night long, just to convince myself we made a good deal, but we did. Just doubling the damn mpg over the Expedition we traded in, was a wise move. The best feature is the little jack that I can plug my mp3 player into. No more crappy radio, or CD's-just plug and play all the music I've collected over the years from all over the world:)

Tonight, I just opened a nice, full-bodied Cabernet, after the girls went to bed. Did the dinner dishes and cleaned up the kitchen, which sorely needed it. Wine helps this sort of thing, you know?

Not much else going on here. Trying to just be close to my family as much as possible. In less than a week-oh shit, I guess I can't talk about that just in case the wrong person is reading, but next week I'll blog from a couple new venues for a few days. Then its back home to finish up yet more house repair, remod and then off to the ship, again somewhere between NZ and Antarctica.

Hope all you folks out there are healthy, happy and your days are peaceful and prosperous.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Balls of Steel

Or maybe something a bit softer like lead, or rubber. Whatever, I seem to have made a pretty damn good recovery. Yesterday was pretty much agony, despite not giving birth, or getting ripped from pussy to ass (nod to LL and all mothers, especially PW!). I couldn't walk much and it really, really hurt.

Today? Meh, pretty much a complete recovery. Don't even need a painkiller. I'm sore, but I can walk, even if it looks like I just climbed down from 8 hours on a horse. So, fire 30-40 rounds through the old pistol and I should be shooting blanks. Wonderful.

Friday, February 1, 2008

post operative vino therapy

The deed is done. I'm swollen, bowlegged and in a fair amount of pain. My wonderful PW has fed me chicken soup, asked to see the damage, bought me 3 bottles of wine and handed me a bag of frozen pees.

The vino and peas are my lifelines to consciousness and sanity. It really fucking hurts.

My next door neighbor got a chuckle, seeing me bent over on the porch, having a smoke in my bathrobe, despite single-digit temps. He says tomorrow will be worse-much worse.

The actual surgery was fine. The nurse who assisted brought in her own tunes. Much to my and the doc's surprise, it was a favorite of both of us-Alison Krauss, Now That I've Found You. Good stuff and great music to get your balls snipped by. The needle in the balls? Holy fuck. Yeah, that sums it up-HOLY FUCK!

Well, two Valiums, two codeines and a bottle of wine later and the pain recedes. A little. Mr. bud, you're going to have to wait on picture of the package unless you want to come over and help with the next 2 bottles of vino and take it yourself-too awkward for me to shot it and PW refuses to assist in posting "her" property on the Internets. Funny how she owns the package and I own the pain. Oh yeah, and LL? Fuck that pussy business-this really does hurt like a motherfucker!