Friday, October 31, 2008

and the good news is....

Wrapping up a lot of projects this week and next.  We now have a new, metal roof on the castle.  It's red, per PW's request.  I completed the woodshed, minus the matching metal roofing that's on order, still.  I've got a good start on splitting the firewood and the old furnace is nearly ready to completely hook up the vacuum side.  I jacked up the old porch and replaced the rotted bottom of a post and the old stair railing.  Painted the woodshed and the porch with a Wagner power painter. 

Because I'm old and not working out much these days, I woke up pretty damn stiff and sore.  Decided to take the morning off from house projects to take a leisurely walk in the woods around my hunting area, despite not being able to hunt this year due to my work schedule.  After a half hour in the woods, I was feeling frisky and thought I would shoot up one of the taller ridges above where I set my blind.  Pushing through the thickest part along the edge of the ridge I came across a lean-to tent made from a tarp.  No trail in or out of this makeshift camp, it sits on the edge of the ridge affording no clear shooting, but excellent views of the only two vehicle access routes into the area I hunt.  It looked highly suspicious and set off alarm bells in my head.  I was still at about 150 yards in the thick shit, so I simply turned around and headed straight for my truck, quietly.

Halfway to the truck, I remembered that we have an armed fugitive in the area, sighted only a few miles from where I was.  He is supposed to be equipped with a 4WD truck and several thousand dollars in cold-weather camping gear.  I called the county sheriff and eventually led two sheriff's back to the campsite.  Turned out to be some sort of temporary camp for a survivalist-type, abandoned for at least the last month-long before this fugitive was supposed to have arrived.  Damn odd place to build a shelter and damn lucky I didn't find them during deer season with a rifle in my hands.  Anyway, the sheriffs were glad to get out in the woods and away from paperwork and we all got a good workout.

Tonight, PW and I took LP out for Halloween.  We went trick-or-treating and also to a haunted house.  Properly scared we went home to crash for the weekend.

And then I got a bit of good news...   I get an extra week and a half of vacation!  I won't join my ship until near the end of November and starting tomorrow, I am getting geared up for DEER SEASON!!  Gonna put some meat in the freezer, baby...

Monday, October 27, 2008

From the great white North

Reports of my demise have been wildly exaggerated.  I am not dead.  Yet.

I have, however, been a tad busy since arriving home from Singapore about 2 weeks ago.  I've done a bit of work on my furnace, entertained and housed some friends of ours for a long weekend and built a woodshed (almost, it needs the walls sheeted, a door installed and some metal roofing slapped on top).  LP and I spent a few long days in the woods, honing her 4WD skills and discovering new wilderness hideaways.  We finished swimming lessons and started skating lessons, but I missed yesterday's lesson due to having to get the tar paper laid down on the woodshed before the snow started. 

Yes, it's snowing here.  Been snowing on and off all night and day.  Yesterday, it started as rain, but overnight it got damn cold and down came the white stuff.  It's 30 with light snow at the moment.  I've got the woodstove humming and can't quite seem to get motivated to sheet the woodshed in this cold!

Still about 2 weeks until I have to head back to work, this time in Angola.  Really looking forward to working in West Africa, again-NOT!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Homeward Bound


Almost there. Had a driver pick me up on the docks and drop me at Changi Airport. After check-in, myself and a guy who works for me hit the bar next to the koi pond, behind this towering wall of ivy. Floor to ceiling, three stories it was. After a few over-priced glasses of a decent cab/merlot meritage, I bolted for the plane and out of Singapore. Good riddance, I say. After a short layover in Hong kong (where I bought no electronics, but was sorely tempted), I winged it back to San Fran and another short layover. Hopped the red-eye to Minnie, getting here at 5am, before even the coffee shops open up. Been here for 5 hours and hope to be leaving in about another. Spent a little time bullshitting with the TSA guys at my (sometimes) favorite security post and found some guy's lost luggage. Just met a guy who somehow managed to board the wrong flight and was just coming to the realization that he was in the wrong airport. I didn't think that possible these days, but I checked his itinerary and ticket and he was definitely NOT in Chicago. I left him with the classic line, "We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto." Poor fucker.

Anyhoo, I'll be home in just 3 hours and I cannot wait. It's cold up this way and I've been a little uncomfortable since landing in San Fran but it is damn good to be home. Ya'll take care out there.


Hard to sleep last night-jet lagged, stressed and sore from sitting down for 15,700 miles. Still, I'm coffeed up, and heading out to watch my daughter have her last swimming lesson and take her test. The air is crisp and cool, smells of wet leaves and wood smoke. I am in heaven. Later.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Homeward Bound

Leaving in an hour.  See ya'll on the beach:)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

All "good" things must come to an end

Well.  It seems I no longer have to endure this shipyard.  I've been given the green light to get the fuck out of here, tomorrow afternoon.  No more welding, cutting and banging.  No more strange bastards invading my home and water that tastes like somebody pissed in it.  No more sleeping with earplugs.  Well, OK, maybe I'll still be sleeping with earplugs, but I'm flying home tomorrow evening, God willing the creek don't rise...

If anyone is going to be at or near the San Fransisco Airport between 20:15 and 00:15, give me a shout.  I plan on a short bar tour of the area...

See ya'll on the other side.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fun Fun Fun

Going to be a long two weeks.  Food is shite.  Dock workers EVERYWHERE.  Noise levels at maximum.  No of fire alarms already: 2.

Monday, October 6, 2008

New Digs

Woke up this morning to find myself in Jurong Shipyard.  I wanted to post images of the yard and the hundreds of FSPO's, jack-ups, semi-subs, tenders, freighters, tugs and tankers, but the shipyard has military contracts and photography is expressly forbidden.  I should point out that I did not take a dozen photos before becoming aware of the rule an hour or so after we docked and won't be posting them once I clear out of the country.  Nope.

Spitting is also against the law.  I think you can get caned for that and chewing gum.  Not sure what the law on chewing tobacco is, even if you swallow and don't spit.

As I write this, a twenty-story crane is swinging a 50 ton cement counterweight over my head, back and forth.  It's only a little unnerving, given that we are in a second-choice dock because our first choice (based on safety and whatnot) killed 5 people recently and has been shut down by the government.  The next two weeks should prove to be interesting, but I hope incident-free.  We are placing the utmost priority on surviving this docking and dry dock with all of our bits and bobs intact.

That said, the quality of the food is decaying and in about a week our galley will be shut down.  The current plan is to have catered food brought in and we eat under a canopy up on the helideck.  THAT will be a challenge.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I'm hungry!!

Got sheep to slaughter?  Get your slaughtering lines here.  They also have lines for cattle, pigs, poultry.

Demise of The Plan and a whorehouse broom

Occasionally, I forget how this business works.  Everything you think you know, is subject to change at a moment's notice.  A plan is only a plan once it's been discarded.  What you think is the plan, is really just supposition, smoke and mirrors.

As I sat here, writing up a post that contained some rather spectacular news just a few minutes ago, the inbox on one of my other computers "dings".  It's my equivalent of the Bat Phone (tm).  Sure as shit, it's Commissioner Gordon telling me that everything is 180 degrees turned around and I'd better get my ass down to the Bat Cave (tm, which Mr. Budd has violated, along with the local building code according to sources close to the city government who shall remain anonymous and imaginary, but I digress...) and get fucking busy instead of blogging about shit that isn't going to happen.  I should know better-as soon as you tell someone ashore what the plan is, it will be thrown out the window.

So, we've spent the last 24 hours faithfully prosecuting the old plan and now it's in the bin.  Worse, I'm not exactly sure what the new "plan" is.  I made two suggestions a while back and the reply was, "I like your suggestion, let's do that."   W.T. F.?   Which one?   Hello, somebody count to two and let me know what to do... which, come to think of it is probably a blessing-if I actually knew what the new plan was and told anybody, it would just get changed, again...

So, I plan on going to the bar the very next chance I get and sod everything else.
In other news I smell like coconut.  Despite the fact that my beloved Dr. Bronners is 100% organic oils, it just doesn't fully alleviate the dry scalp we get from living and working in an air-conditioned, zero-humidity, computer-friendly environment.  Yesterday I noticed a bottle of coconut oil on one of the desks in my office.  One of the girls that work for me brought it in to give to another crew member for dry scalp.  It seems if you rub this shit into your scalp every day, you don't have to walk around in a state of constant winter, with a perpetual snowfall and no longer ITCH.  So, yes I am oiled up like a greaser and smelling like Ft. Lauderdale in March and loving every minute of it, despite the flies who are now following me around the ship like a black, buzzing halo.

While on gangway watch this evening (taking someone else's watch so they could hit the bar, oh man am I a nice guy, what?) I watched a 500 ton crane lift a diving bell and decompression chamber onto a rig tender, parked only 30 ft across the quay from us.  The damn chamber and bell was the size of my house.  It was pretty cool to watch and took my mind off the fact that I had to pee and couldn't leave the watch for another hour!
Finally, I need to head back down to the gangway with my camera and get a picture for Blondie.  Somebody stole a big pot of orchids on their way back from the bar and it now sits just inside the gangway.  The orchids are purple and very beautiful, in a larcenous sort of way...and looks much nicer than the broom from a whorehouse, which is the traditional thing we steel while in port and then mount on the bulkhead, somewhere.  I think it's supposed to bring good luck...a sort of spiritual connection to the ladies while the crew is away at sea, or something like that.

Last day in Loyang

Singapore is taking it's toll on the crew.  There's quite a lively night life here, or at least in Singapore City, or Changi Village.  The work is also a bit brutal, especially in this heat and humidity.  Me?  I've stayed unusually close to the ship, only walking down the quay for a quick beer, once.  Maybe tonight I'll pop on the tube for a quick ride into Singapore City to tour the art galleries, botanical gardens, or hit the museum...riiiiight.

Tomorrow we move to Jurong Shipyard to prepare for getting this beast out of the water.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Prison food

Have I mentioned that one of the consequences of leaving Australia is that we loose our awesome Australian chefs and messmen.  They have been replaced by one ancient filipino cook and a guy who cleans up the mess.  We're talking like 6 trained professionals, two of them 4-star chefs replaced by a guy who cannot bake bread.  I asked where the bread was at the first meal.  "Nobody here make bread.  Me know not how."  Yeah, horrible memories of my last ship are haunting me. So far, when they out food out it's edible.  That is as far as I will go.  Edible.  The worst part of the whole issue?  I've been so spoiled I nearly cried when I found out that we no longer have a night cook.  So what do I get to eat after working 12 hours of back-breaking labor in the 100 degree heat and 100 percent humidity?  Toast and fucking yogurt.   Yeah, just what a hungry man needs after 12 hours on a chain-gang.  Fuck me.

One more day of this shit--then it gets worse

Three hours left in the shift.  Accommodations reek of adhesive fumes.  Can't wait to sleep-I can only imagine the dreams I'm going to have while whacked out on Toluene and hydxoy-7 ultra butyl mind-melting poly fucking what nots.  That is if I can figure out how to get over the watery, stinging eyes you get when exposed to the fumes for more than 30 seconds.  Anyway, one more day, then we move across the Island and prepare to be floated up out of the water and into dry dock.  Imagine pulling an eleven-story building, 300 feet long and nearly 100 ft wide, out of the water.  As always, it should be interesting...

Day 3 of port

Port calls are always chaos, no matter where you go, or what you have to get done.  This one is no exception.  Lack of supplies, incorrect, or broken equipment, trucks and cranes MIA, barefoot Indian and Chinese dockworkers swarming over the ship, walking into cabins, grabbing everything not nailed down.  Three times in two nights, people have just walked into my cabin while I was sleeping and promptly bolted as I woke up.  If I catch one of the fuckers I swear to Christ I'm gonna rip his little head off and shit down his neck.

Last night I slipped away for a much-needed break.  Myself and a couple others walked up through the supply base for a couple of quick Tiger beers.  Met the Captain, Chief Engineer and a few others at this dive called the Spindletop.  The pitchers of Tiger were cold, the owner made non-stop rounds topping off everyone's glass before it was half-empty and it was hard to leave.  We had a great BS session about everything but work, learned that our medic likes dead people in the carnal sense and argued over the best whorehouse in Bangkok.  Afterwards, I walked back in the dark, listening to the relative quiet and the insects in the trees, then it was off to the back deck to hump gear for 4 more hours.

Right after I woke up today, at shift change, the fire alarm sounded and we quickly mustered on the quay.  Turned out to be just a bunch of smoke from some electrical work in one of the public heads.  We have so many areas tore up and under construction that it's hard to keep track.  I had no idea anything was happening to the public heads.

My computer system upgrade stalled yesterday as my onshore support took an offshore vacation, but I was back in business this morning after a little bit of magic. With that settled, I can now head out into the stifling heat to hump gear off the ship, etc.


Thursday, October 2, 2008


Second day in Loyang.  Fucking strangers EVERYWHERE on my ship.  I hate this, it's like having a bunch of people you don't know and don't particularly like invading your house and tearing shit apart.  All day and ALL NIGHT.  They turn off the power, the water, anything, anytime.  They are dirty, messy and don't really care about my ship and I hate, hate, hate it.  On top of that, dock workers are notorious for stealing everything not nailed down.  I have to lock up and hide everything.  Wah!

OK, I'm done complaining.  Work progresses, despite the crap we endure while in port.  I tore apart two more computers, upgrading them.  One even works.  The other?  Well, it will eventually work-maybe by tomorrow.  Phones are absolute crap.  I need to call a relative and invite them down to see the ship, but the phones are nearly dead.  I wish they read this blog-I could just tell them to show up at the dock and have them call for me.  I'd really love to give them a tour...

Anyhooo, I have a ton of shit to do and really want to walk around for a few minutes on dry land, again.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008


We're at quay.  Singapore is a bit hot and very humid.  Pretty much just as I remember it.  Night shift has gone ashore and come back.  Day shift guys are all outside doing crane ops, etc.  I'm inside working, alone.  The ship is quiet except for the occasional bang or crash from the crane ops above me.  Wish I had time to go ashore, but alas, it may not come to pass.  I walked down to the quay a couple of hours ago, just to put my feet on dry land, in case I get too busy for the rest of port call.  Already today, I upgraded some of my computer system, re-routed some cabling and began to work on some new data-type stuff.  The people working for me are sleeping or on gangway watch.  At least it's peaceful.