Saturday, June 28, 2008

Red Jackets

This is the last weekend of my time at home and these days are a bittersweet mix of time with friends and family and moments alone, like now, dwelling on the fact I'll be half a world away for the balance of summer.  For the most part, it was a great vacation.  Traveling to the Dells, meeting LL and Artemis was more fun than we ever imagined.  The weather here in the Copper Country has been great and I've managed not to mortally injure myself for the first time in ages.  Despite some very rough and painful issues affecting my family, we've had some bright spots, including a dinner just a couple of nights ago.  I actually had dinner with my entire family in attendance.  We ate at our favorite restaurant, atop on of the local hotels, overlooking our beautiful, little waterway.  We enjoyed a nice long and very pleasant meal, pretty much with the place to ourselves.  My girls opened birthday presents, PW and I had a few glasses of vino and we all had damn good eats.  For my part, I polished off a brace of herb-encrusted quail, stuffed with wild rice and pheasant sausage and topped with a delightful mango chutney.  We all shared some sort of fudge filled chocolate cake dessert thing accompanied by a fruit sorbet and raspberry sauce.  YUM!

After the meal, we meant to take a walk along the waterfront, but ended up walking around an indoor stadium filled with thousands of old photographs of the area, taken over the last 175 years, all displayed and organized by city, or village, or by topic.  We spent about an hour rediscovering what this area looked like before the turn of the century. Nearly an hour before my teenagers began to moan that they were dying from boredom.  The pictures were that cool.  I saw three of my former residences in photos taken at or before the turn of the century:)

Last night, after a rather boisterous party consisting of little girls who screamed a lot, I escaped into town, still soaking wet from water balloons, a slip n slide and squirt guns.  Spent a while with Mr, Bud and his boys, then I took just him over to view the old photos.  After that we stopped just around the corner at Keweenaw Brewing Company and sucked down a bunch of Red Jacket ambers.  Since neither of had eaten in 10 hours and I promised PW I'd eat and sober up before driving home, we walked down the block to the Ambassador and had a tostada pizza and a couple more Red Jackets:)  Then, since you can't smoke in there anymore AND KBC was still open, we headed back down the street to close the place and help them get rid of more Red Jackets.  Dang that beer is good!  Drove home in a blinding rainstorm and passed the fuck out.

Today?  I'm struggling to get up off the couch.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Four rules in five minutes

Encountered FOUR golden rules of plumbing, yesterday.

1.  You WILL need something else from the hardware store AFTER you get home and begin the job, no matter how well you plan.
2.  The plan will change, most likely causing the above, but at least inducing 5 minutes of head-scratching while you inventory your parts
3. Once completely finished (HA HA), something will leak.  Bad enough to put you back to work.
4.  Something will happen that makes no sense at all.  (in this case a leaky fitting stopped leaking when I attempted to take it apart)


Ah, this whole thing is so cool that it made the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:)

Sure wish GZ2 would start up.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

When we left Earth

I've been watching When We Left Earth.  It's mesmerizing.  Even though I know the stories and even most of the little details, I cannot stop watching.  It's like crack...

Friday, June 20, 2008

I no photo

Going through my pictures of the vacation, looking for a decent photo of the water park resort to post with my review of Wilderness Water Park and Golf Resort, I realized that I utterly suck at taking photos. Major suckage of the first order and without peer.

I'm very saddened that I just cannot manage such a simple task. However, it seems PW has no such issues and took this of LL, M and myself just outside the riding stables, back in the Dells. I've actually met two, other bloggers and man was it fun:)

When Mr. Bud gets back from paradise, I'll get some of his photos to post, too. He took thousands, I think.

I think the Dude would abide

In other news, I like this T-shirt

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away:)

Chris Lintott, one of the Zookeepers over at Galaxy Zoo, also writes for the Discovery Channel.  Cool gig, dude.  Anyway, he penned this and man, do I love this stuff,especially when written simple enough for me to actually understand.  This is cool science and damn nice to see that shit is the same so far out there and so long ago.

Live long and prosper.

Violence erupted in the last 76 miles

Thursday was our last day at the water park resort.  PW took the kids to the playhouse/arcade for a couple of hours while Mr. Bud and I packed the truck and trailer.  We rolled out of the Dells and our highway promptly turned into the wrong one without warning.  Went East instead of North.  Got back on track and drove to our next highway change.  Within a few miles our next highway also turned into the wrong one, with no warning.  Whine complain from the back seats.  Once again, we went East instead of North.  A while later we hopped on yet another northbound.  About an hour later, it too, switched to another highway without any warning.  Whine complain from the back seats.  Mind you, it's not that we didn't have a map-we had a Rand-McNally road atlas.  It was just that that not only was the atlas wrong, so were the road signs.  Anyway, whine complain from the back seats...

So, we popped out at the Michigan border, still generally on track and heading North AND in familiar territory, but our highway had mysteriously changed from 55 to 73. (whine complain from you know where)  No problem.  The map showed 55 heading into Michigan, right to the highway we needed to drive home on.  It also showed it to be within a few miles to the West of us, just before a small town listed on the map and recognized by a road sign.  We boogied West.  No highway.  No freaking town.  Thoroughly frustrated and wondering what the fuck was going on (twilight zone???) we kept moving West to the next highway heading North, 416.   Yep, you guessed it, no highway.  Nada.  We ended up driving 45 miles West to a town we KNEW existed because we drove through it on the way down.  Had a quick dinner (endured a lot of whining and complaining) and continued North.  It was right about the sign that said "Houghton 76 miles", that violence began to erupt in the back seat.  I think it was PW that first threatened to kill somebody, or just chop off their head.

Finally, about 2 1/2 hrs later than I planned, we rolled into our driveway after dropping off the Bud clan.  PW crashed out, LP jumped on the computer to check that her Webkins hadn't starved during the week and I read blogs for an hour.  Soon after we also crashed.  Long freaking day.  Later today I hope to post a few pics of the resort and I already wrote a review of the place and might get that posted on the review site.

Oh yeah.  What did we do today after 5 days of water parks?  Took LP to swimming lessons and sat around a pool.  I think I whined and complained just a little.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lotsa waterpark

Oh man did we cut loose today.  A whole lotta water park after a very cool horseback ride through the woods.  LL treated us all to the horses, which turned out to be very, very cool, then ice cream cones full of corn to feed all these little goat dudes running around in a pen by the stables.

Loaded up on margaritas and pina coladas, we then hit the water parks.  Too many rides on the Black Hole and Hurricane later, we packed up and headed back up to the condo for fajitas.  Unfortunately, LL's crew had to head out after that cause both her and M had to work tomorrow:( 

Still, it was a great day despite the huge lady that wrangled her way into our raft on the hurricane, putting us over the weight limit and nearly killing three of us in a spectacular water ride accident.  But we didn't get squished and lived to tell the tale, eclipsed only by Little Monkey's brave run down the Hurricane and I'll admit that even after nine real hurricanes, that ride is a bit scary.

The remaining crew here is pretty beat.  PW and I are hiding in bed.  The kids and Mr. Bud are still up, but pretty darn quiet.  Actually Mr. Bud and LP are out gigging for frogs in the pond next to the water park just outside our balcony.  I hope LP does NOT come back with one...

Tomorrow I'm taking my Pina Coladas on an extended tour of the Lazy River.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Water park

Having too much fun to blog much, yet.  Maybe tonight while we're sitting around getting hammered, again.  LL and Co met us here at the resort and we had a blast.  They had to take off last night to do the Monday morning work thing, but were able to come back today with kiddies in tow.  Today is a little cloudy and cold and I already had to make a hospital run for my oldest girl, but we're still on target for more fun, sun and booze.   Oh yeah, we drunk-dialed Steph last night:)

Friday, June 13, 2008

And so it begins...

Action-packed Father's Day weekend!  We began to prepare today.  Cleaned out the truck for the journey South on Sunday.  Packing, buying tons of food and drink-excuse me a minute....................had to call PW and suggest some drink-ables.  Look out, we're bringing a blender...

We kick off the weekend tonight with the annual Bridgefest parade.  Two towns celebrating the bridge that connects them.  Tomorrow, we pack for the trip and head to Mr. Bud's house for a block party BBQ and fireworks display over the canal, just below Water Street:)

Sunday, we've set a 4am departure for the Wisconsin Dells/Lake Delton flood tour.  I wonder if road warriors are legal in Wisconsin?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Loadmaster 5000

OK, I'm back on the beach. Crew-x was a bitch, as usual. I drank too much and got little sleep, as usual. We did have a damn good time in Perth, taking over a sleepy, little English pub just a block down from the hotel where we had day rooms. I saw mine long enough to take a shower, then spent the rest of the day/evening and half the night, trying to empty the pub of Guinness. Not an easy task at an English pub.

Anyway, it was the same old traveling shit. Long lines, shitty airplane food, too-short connections, running from one terminal to the next, cutting security lines, radioing gates to hold planes, etc. Suffice to say I made it.

Once home, I slept a lot, PW fed me very well (thanks honey!) and I generally hung out close to home, spending time with PW and LP. We ventured into the woods for a walk, but recent rains clouded the woods with mosquitoes. We ended up driving old logging trails, exploring from the comfort of my pickup. We discovered, among other things, the ultimate in backwoods shitters, the Loadmaster 5000. This state-of-the-art crapper features high-tech, ultra-strong, 3/4" particle board construction, topped with a naturally weathered, hardwood seat, unique rainwater flush system and authentic Loadmaster 5000 nameplate.

We found this gem just a few miles into the woods, but really in the middle of nowhere, on the side of an overgrown four-wheeler track that once must have been the way to somebody's tree stand.
I might throw up a ground blind somewhere around here, just to take advantage of the Loadmaster. It really is a slick piece of work and I'd like to give it a test run. I didn't even run the idea past PW, or LP-they would've driven off without me if I would've tried to use it.

So, we left and continued deeper into the woods. Soon, I saw an unusually steep ridge off the trail and knew it had to be holding back some water. Oh yeah, we found a very nice, little wilderness lake.

We pulled the truck into little clearing..

PW and LP found a small turtle who was not only camera-shy, but had no bladder control...

So I pitched him in the lake and he peed in it. As pretty as it was, I wouldn't swim in it, now. We stood for a while and enjoyed the view, though...

We saw a couple of loons floating quietly, but I couldn't get a good shot of them, due to the sun. A few minutes later, LP made a wonderful discovery in the grass...

A baby bird, perhaps only minutes old. I snapped a very hurried shot and we quickly left the lake before mother bird got too upset, wherever she was.

That was about it for our fun in the woods. We rumbled back home, ate and I passed out on the couch. Since then, I've been working out, sleeping and taking LP over to the commons area of my alma mater, to ride her bike on the endless sidewalks. I've also been planning our 2008 Summer Waterpark Resort Adventure, located right in the heart of rainy, watersoaked and mostly flooded Wisconsin, where mr. Bud, PW, LP and I plan to meet LL and Co! Should be fun and man o man do I need to get in some fun. This is a very short break and it's right back to Australia for another 5 weeks:(

Anyhoo, we're packin plenty of food, booze and a few bottles of my wine and I am so ready to go, despite all the damn flooding down there.

Finally, one of my old friends and newest reader, PR, is getting hitched this weekend! Congrats to the happy couple and I hope to see you guys again, REAL SOON!! I've known PR for many years now, were even colleagues for a few years and he's a great guy. I was not surprised to meet his fiancée and find her to be quite special as well. A whole bunch of us got together at a local joint and had a nice, loud, rowdy dinner:) Man, is it good to be home! I'll most likely pick up the blog again once we recover from meeting LL and I can see straight, again:)


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I'm going to live forever!

Busy as I am, I couldn't resist posting THIS.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

last days

Got some good news today, sort of-planning a vacation (GO PW AND MR. BUD!)  It may get even more interesting if others from the blogging world show up...
Got to talk to PW and oldest son on the sat phone.   Nice to hear their voices on such a shitty day.
Essentially 3 shifts left in this trip.  Everything I've done in the past 5 days has been thrown out the window.  I need to re-do it all, document everything, write up reports and then get the fuck out of here.  Busy. As. Shit.  Most likely won't post again until I get stateside.  Pray the choppers can land-we've got bad weather coming.

See ya'll on the other side.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I'm a looooser

For the second day in a row, I'm viewing the world through very fuzzy glasses.  Two nights ago the shitty, little bunk I sleep in took out a measure of revenge on me.  I went to bed healthy and happy. Woke up with a pinched nerve/pulled muscle in my shoulder.  B. A. D.  I had to take a couple of the F350 Super-Duty muscle relaxers I carry for just such an occasion, yesterday.  Suffice to say the world looked a little blurry and I spent several hours, at least, dozing at my computer, randomly clicking the mouse in my sleep and fucking up a lot of work.  (Never wake up and hit save!)

Anyway, the drugs also didn't help my shoulder much.  So I took two more and went to bed.  Today?  Fuzzy.  Very Fuzzy.

I was however, able to view all the photos you sent of the CC weekend with PW, LP, the Hooostons and The BeerMeisters ( Nobody mentioned The BeerMeisters joined you guys), Mr Bud.  Thanks for the pics, it looks like a great time was had by all:)  

Oh, and a big "L" for LOOOOSER right back at everyone sitting at the table in Fitzgeralds!

Love hurts

Have I ever mentioned that living on a ship half of your life leads to the following:

I know exactly ever single item that I possess onboard and exactly where it its located.  Everything I own out here has it's own pre-planned location, in fact.
Every night I lay out my clothes over a chair, fireman-fashion, so that I can completely dress in 15 seconds, or less.  My clothes for the day and a small, stuffed animal (from LP) are the only outward signs that I occupy my cabin.  Everything else is stowed away and secure.

Life is so regimented and narrow onboard, I could, If I wanted, plan out every single minute of my free time for five weeks, in advance. Not very spontaneous, huh?

Because we rotate out for meals, I eat every meal in less than 10 minutes.

I have never met my boss.  Ever.  We have spoken twice on the phone and only once after I was hired.  I'm not even sure what he looks like.

My best friend has more pictures of my family than I do.  Many times more, in fact.

I get "land sickness".

Somebody makes my bed, cleans my room, sink, shower and toilet every single day, within 5 minutes of walking out of my cabin and I've never once in 10 years seen them do it.

I have to prop a pillow next to me to keep from falling out of bed, even when I'm home.

I shower one-handed, most of the time.  Especially when the seas are heavy.

I can leave a stack of 100-dollar bills lying anywhere on the ship for 5 weeks and they will not be touched, but I have to put my name on my coffee mug and water bottle and somebody always steals my black pens.  Fuckers.

I've heard "Hey, check out this weird rash" at least 10,000 times.  At least half the time, I forget and look.  At least half of the time I look, it's really nasty.  At least half of the time it's really nasty, I do a quick check of myself.  Yes, at least half of the time I do a quick check of myself, I find something.  I don't know why, but we get a lot of rashes out here.

I know nearly everything about the people I work with, from also living with them 24/7 on a ship.  So many of our details are public knowledge out here, too.  For instance, everyone's age, nationality, birthplace, home address and passport details are all posted in various common areas.  Even the number of minutes you spend on the phone each trip are posted.  It's actually kind of funny to see some guy go from 20 minutes one trip to 2738 minutes the next because he picked up a girlfriend last break.  Somebody wrote "love hurts" next to his total:)

In nearly 40 countries and probably 60 cities, I can tell you directions to and from the airport, the nearest hotel, at least 3 decent pubs and several, shall we say, seedier establishments.  I'd be fucked to name more than a few restaurants, though.

I guess that's about it.  Anyway, I gotta go find some cream for this nasty rash I've got on my butt...

Not exactly Frank Sinatra

Some sort of traditional music from India is playing in the instrument room, loudly. AAAAAEEEEEAAAAH  OOOOOOHHHAAAAA   IEEEEIEEEEAAAAAH-WOOOO.....

It's too much for my noise-cancellation headphones to handle and I am going to fucking kill somebody, very soon...