Monday, December 28, 2009
Southern hospitality? Look it up in the dictionary and you should find a description of The Brier Patch, on Daulphin Island Parkway. It started when they said they would stay open as late as WE wanted, on a Sunday night. When the bartender heard we walked, she asked why we didn't call for a ride and said one of the customers would've drove over and loaded us in a pickup-the two old guys at the end of the bar both nodded. She bought us shots, gave us free snacks, even going out to car for a couple bags of pretzels she had bought for home. At the end of the night she promised to make us a pot of gumbo, ask some girlfriends to come up the next night and told us we could drive her car back to the ship, instead of walking. We declined and most of us left, walkng. One poor sod ended up sleeping in her car and she drove the rest home after closing the bar at around 4:30 in the morning. True to her word, she had gumbo waiting for us the next night.
The last night, when we again showed up hungry, she called up a friend who showed up a while later with a giant tub of BBQ'd ribs. You just don't get that kind of friendly, everywhere. We won't soon forget the Brier Patch.
Anyway, we sailed and began deploying for the next job. Christmas was a pretty good time, despite being stuck onboard and at sea. I dressed up as Trailer-Trash Santa, smoking and drinking and gettin some skin from my homies. I guess I'll have to attach an image to this post, along with our crew Christmas card. I gave out presents and afterward we played bingo (party-time, I know). We gave away a few hundred bucks in cash and prizes including a play station, Wii and some computer gear.
Santa didn't win squat.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
The weather and sea state here is crap. We were up to 8 meter (~25 foot) seas and 50-60 mph winds. It will be good to find calmer waters if we can. Possible port calls are Grand Cayman, Freeport and Galveston, as we make our way North.
Just started a book called Blood River, by Tim Butcher. It details his quest to follow in the footsteps of fellow Daily Telegraph reporter, Henry Morton Stanley, crossing the Congo. His journey across one of the most violent, lawless, remote and fractured countries in the world is nothing short of insane. Over 2,000 miles of fetid, disease-ridden, impenetrable jungle, populated by brutal military rebels, cannibalistic tribes and well, pretty much by only people and things that want to or would kill him. No roads, no law, no infrastructure and he tackles it alone, with a few grand in his show and an old motorcycle. As I said, insanity. I'm only part way into the book, he is only just about to start on the journey and I am mesmerized by this guy.
Food blows. The cook should be fucking shot. I had pork loin that I COULD NOT CUT WITH A STEAK KNIFE, last night. Well, obviously I did not "have" it, I just put it on my plate and then tried to cut it. I actually had some white rice and two pieces of toast. Fuck me, the pounds are just melting off but I've got a permanent, gnawing pain in my gut. Starving to death must be extremely unpleasant :( And on that note, it is time to shut down and head for what passes on here as "dinner". Later people.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I'm back down in Colombia. It's hot (91), sunny, windy and the seas are rough. Work is a bitch and I'm struggling. The lack of sleep during travel and now onboard, is making me a bastard to live and work with, but such is the nature of the job and myself. Hopefully, things will get ironed out in the very near future and I can look forward to steaming back up to the States for the holidays. Freeport is high on my list of places to be in 2 weeks.
I hear of a blizzard back home and wish with all my heart I was there for it. I LOVE extreme winter weather. LOVE.
Hope you all are safe, happy and healthy and for those of you in the Upper Midwest, warm and cozy.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
And I thought about ending up in a sauna, on a ship, off the coast of Colombia, and seeing something familiar from yet another place I hang out that nobody else visits and reflecting on how weird my life is, for the millionth time. Growing up as middle-class, burnout, punk who didn't finish high school I never expected to end up taking a sauna off the coast of Colombia (unless it was as a drug mule), OR spending endless days in the remote woods and swamps of Upper Michigan and especially being at home and at peace, there. And as for the sap? Maybe we always subconsciously look for connections to home, wherever we are, but it was still a strange experience that has been on my mind all day. That's it.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Where is your cell phone? In my closet, back in my cabin. Left it there 3 weeks ago-I hope its still there...
Your hair? Grey and falling out rapidly, thanks to work.
Your mother? Dead.
Your father? Dead.
Your favorite food? Venison burritos.
Your dream last night? Think "The Stand" by SK. A blogger and her child appeared in supporting roles, which was REALLY weird.
Your favorite drink? Toss up between Guinness, Grey Goose and a Cabernet I can't afford. I could include the gallon of coffee I drink every day...
Your dream/goal? To live long enough and make enough money to put all my kids through college and see them grown.
What room are you in? Processing Pit.
Your hobby? Dunno. My kids, hunting? I do nothing else. Oh, reading! (getting old and my memory is slipping)
Your fear? Dying before my kids are grown and able to fend for themselves.
Where do you want to be in 6 years? Still alive.
Where were you last night? In the Processing Pit for 18 hours.
Something that you aren't? Terribly happy.
Muffins? Only in airports
Wish list item? Utility 4-wheeler for plowing and hunting. Or a new hammer. Broke the claws off of mine, using it as a pry bar for 20 years.
Where did you grow up? Hitch-hiking across the country, I would have to say. Born in the Motor City, though.
Last thing you did? Made a mug of instant coffee and smoke a cig w/ my buddy, Rollie.
What are you wearing? Orange work clothes, safety glasses and a boat knife.
Your TV? Here, the biggest, fuck-off wide-screen you have ever seen, but I don't use it. Ever. Home-an old piece of shit that squeals and hurts my ears.
Your pets? Idiot black lab who watches over my precious girls and I love him for that.
Friends? Mr. Budd.
Your life? I have two. One, at home and one at sea and they are very, very different.
Your mood? Usually very dark.
Missing someone? Yes, very much.
Vehicle? 1998 Ford F-150.
Something you're not wearing? Street clothes.
Your favorite store? Freeman's Gun Shop, except they don't have my bullets this year!
Your favorite color? Black
When was the last time you laughed? Last night at #unseenprequals
Last time you cried? Cannot remember, but not too long ago, I'm sure.
Your best friend? Mr Budd.
One place that I go to over and over? The Processing Pit, onboard and my daughter's school, at home.
One person who emails me regularly? My wife, but not regularly enough. I miss her.
Favorite place to eat? Home. Cannot beat PW's cooking. She rules. Wish I were as good.
and I'll add:
Favorite place? Here-the sauna. Home-the woods.
Favorite musical artist? The Satch, Joe Satriani.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
I think about the fact that over the years it has served several purposes, more than admirably. I've had a place ot keep my family and friends up to date with my worldly wanderings. I've had a place to vent, a place to be creative. I've met some WONDERFUL people as a direct result of this blog. One of them, LL, has become part of my extended family. We LOVE her and our vacations together have been a huge treat. Man, can she cook the vittles, too:) I've received, advise, gifts, cool links, GREAT reading recommendations, a chance to write and coorespond with the wonderful and creative folks at FTTW (we still email and they are still, all, drop-dead funny), and the chance to explore other people's writing and lives-something I will always cherish, no matter if I keep writing, or not. Even as a non-blogger, I will always read, especially those on my blogroll, that I've been reading for years, now.
So, I know blogs come and blogs go. I don't know if mine will go, yet.
AND, in a pathetic attempt to update anyone who reads here, but doesn't follow me on Twitter -I'm in Colombia, not far offshore from Cartagena, or Baranquilla, take your pick. I'm working my ass off, it's hot, humid, sunny and mostly very rough. I've still got ten fingers, ten toes and my sense of humor (which really was never any good, but it's still here).
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
In other news, I ate a tablespoon of instant coffee this morning, just to wake up enough to be able to think straight. It actually tasted good. Is that a bad sign?
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Yesterday, after just getting here, I get an email requesting I choose flights home. Going to be a very short and fast trip.
I'm suddenly getting solicited to review products on my blog, offers for free shit and whatnot. I've got mixed feelings on this. Any comments? I started my (largely ignored, lately) review blog to let people know when I come across a product I feel strongly about, not to get free shit and promote (or trash-talk) just anything. Let me amend that statement. I haven't ignored the review blog, I just haven't come across anything l feel strongly about, lately. Well, I did manage to drink a little good beer over the break and have been kicking around the idea of reviewing my favorite brew pub and their yummy beers...KBC, KBC, KBC....
Heard on Twitter (from Tony Robbins) that Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is going to begin offering tickets for commercial space flight next year. I think I have finally found a reason to be very wealthy. Tickets to space would fall somewhere between a new deer rifle and a new fishing pole.
Finally, as nice as it is to be working back in my home quadrant of the globe, it looks to get even better-there is a good chance I'll be starting up a multi-ship operation back in US waters at the end of the year, or early next year :)
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I'm currently kicking back in Cartagena, Colombia in a 5-star resort on the beach. I'm sitting in a GIANT, tented lobby/balcony, overlooking the pool and the beach right now, contemplating whether or not to get a drink, or something to eat before I take a nap in the gentle ocean breeze that's making me very, very sleepy. A siesta is definitely in order.
I ended up here after missing a connection in Houston at crew-x, which in turn, caused me to miss the boat out to my ship. Sooo, I spent a pleasant night and day in Bogota, then flew here last night. I spent some time with the offgoing crew, who turned up a few hours after me, last night. They were too eager to party and figuring I was heading to work this morning, I begged off and crashed in the hammock swinging on my balcony, overlooking the ocean. During the night, a storm blew in and blowing rain forced me back into my suite. Poor me.
Actually, as nice as it is here (and man, is it fucking NICE), it just isn't that enjoyable without my wife here to enjoy it with me. Ocassionally, I end up, through some twist of fate, in places like this, but it sucks being alone. Eating, drinking and wandering around on your own is, in a word, lonely. Honey, if you read this, I really wish you were here. I would rather be at work than sitting in a place like this, by myself :(
ps. 5-star resorts in Cartagena are not fucking cheap. Six bucks for a 6000ml bottle of water! Don't even ask about beer...
Sunday, September 27, 2009
LP and I are off for a half day adventure, somewhere. Maybe the woods, if the weather hold, maybe bowl a couple games if it rains. Doesn't matter.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
In other news, my oppo on the ship has just informed me that the next crew-x will be on our regularly scheduled date, nearly 3 WEEKS away!!!!
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I hear there is an American warship docked here. I hope to get a chance to walk over and thank them for their service, maybe buy a sailor or two a beer at the Crews Inn.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
After a fun and frolicking general safety meeting (NOT), I began tearing apart my system in earnest. Its been sort of emotional. I've been working with this system for nearly two years. We've gone through good times and bad, lean times and times of abdunace and productivity. Its woken me up in the middle of the night with various ailments and at times given me great joy when ploughing through tens of terabytes of processing, clicking along at 100%, all 112 CPUs firing out jobs like a phlanx gun spitting depleted uranium. And now I'm tearing out its heart and packing it into a large, wooden crate, wrapped in garbage bags, taped up to resemble a first-aid textbook dummy laid out in a casket. Its rather sad.
Tomorrow, as I sit in the Crews Inn, I'll be raising my first glass of rum in a toast to my system, the good old girl, TD cluster, as she heads off to the airport and Trinidadian customs, never to be seen again.
On the bright side, I've got a bad-ass replacement coming, bigger, stronger, faster-yeah, something like The Bionic Man. Cannot wait to take it out on the road, open it up and see what it can do!
Friday, September 4, 2009
Had a wrinkly, old hot dog for breakfast. Instant coffee made with 7 scoops. 3 smokes. I'm in a foul mood and the storms on the horizon are mocking me.
Two days out of Chaguaramas. Two days away from a cold beer at the Crews Inn.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Went up on deck about 5:30 this morning with my coffee, to watch the sunrise. The waters are a deep blue, but have that emerald green, when turned over in the bow wake. That's the Carribean as I remember it. Its been about 9-10 years since I've sailed these waters and they look awfully inviting after nearly a year of wallowing around off the mouth of the Congo.
Starting to firm up my travel plans for FIRE/HUET/SEA SURVIVAL training this coming break. Its a week out of the middle of my break, but "safety first" is the rule. Anyway, it looks like I'll be training in Lafayette, LA., the first place I ever trained at. Years ago, it was pretty lousy training and I pray its better now, but am not holding my breath. I'll miss the boys at TEEX and all the big fire. Damn, I'll miss all the big fire, especially that call at the end of the day to see if anyone wants MORE fire. I never missed the chance for more fire:(
So, I leave you with a couple more shots of the recent ceremony. Me as King Neptune, my queen, naughty nurse and attending pirates. I think my baby is missing, but I'll post another of him as the poor pollywogs are licking mayonaise out of his bellybutton...
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Day 1 without sat comms. We all find ourselves occasionally reaching to check email, or Google some vital piece of triva, or trival piece of vita. Seas are calm and its getting hotter as we head West by northwest, toward the equator. The sea looks beautiful and somehow more expansive.
Day 2 without sat comms. Fire drill today. My job was to grab someone and police up two spare lengths of fire hose, a nozzle and a couple of hose wrenches. Carrying a section and nozzle in one arm and the wrenches in my back pocket, I crossed the helideck to the bow and started down the stairs to the foc'sle deck, below. I didn't make the first step. They were slick with spray from the bow. My feet shot out from under me and I rocketed down the stairs like I was shot out of a cannon. I slid all the way out, flat out on the foc'sle. The back of my head hitting each stair on the way down sounded like a machine gun-baseball knot back there, now. The arm carrying the hose and nozzle smashed into the flat bar of the stair rail at the bottom, as I shot by. Ripped open my wrist and it swelled up like an August tomato. I've got bruises from the back of my head to my heels. Back is shot to hell.
Day 3 without sat comms. Took 45 minutes to get out of my rack and into a hot shower. I am one sore mo fo. Eating lots of pain pills and muscle relaxers. Medic just shakes her head when she sees me. I was damn lucky. There is no medi-vac from this far out. Still hurts like a bastard, though. We are beginning preparations for the torture of 22 poor souls who have not yet become shellbacks. Looks like I am King Neptune, again and the Chief Nav, my comely (homely) wife. He keeps nagging me for a new outfit for the ceremony. I told him I'm not made of money and if he wants a new dress he better damn well make it himself. After all, I've got to make my own crown, trident and braces for my wrists. Lots of cardboard, tin foil and spray paint...I now needs me robes, belt and sandals.
Day 4, no sat comms, dammit. System crashed. Re-booted one of my servers and found out it was connected to the sat comms. With no sat comms it hangs on WAN and I am dead in the water until sat comms are restored. Found a beard for King Neptune. Recycling Santa's kit...
Day 5, no freaking sat coms. No system. Lost samba connection to system. Time for house-cleaning. Drudge work. Well, that took all of an hour. Only like a week to go, dammit.
Day 6 of this crap. Work on the UPS (uninterruptable power supply that powers critical systems in times of crisis) means shutting down my entire system. With one server hung and one process inadvertantly shut down, I am not happy about the prospect.
Day fucking 7. We're nearing the middle of the Atlantic. I completely shut down my system, then spent 4 hours bringing it back online. Nearly everything was restored and I am back in business, preparing for my upgrade. Time to begin work on preparations for the ceremony. I need a trident, crown, hair, big fucking mustache, beard, some sort of robes, cape. Also have to set up some of the props and find myself a comfortable chair for a throne. I'm not holding court on a work bench.
8. Obtained a purple sarong from a Malaysian fellow. Made hair, crown and trident. Still need a damn cape and a throne...made a couple of tubs to dunk the pollywogs in. Tomorrow is the ceremony. Can you imagine swimming in a large vat of assorted juices, sauces, balsamic vinegar, cooking oil, grease, with a bucket of 4 day old food scraps mixed in? I'm talking egg shells, veggies, rotten meat, prawns, etc? The crap each pollywog must drink will be much the same..
Day 9. Long day! Started just after dwan, preparing tubs for them to be submerssed in, filled them with a horrible mixture of everything foul we could get our hands on. Set everything up, put on out costumes and led the pollywogs through the ritual. It was a blast. but once again, I was a very pasty white, partially clothed, King Neptune, venturing into the equatorial sun. I'm totally sunburned and exhausted. A few of us had to clean up after the ceremony, including washing the helideck with a fire hose and that just wore me out.
Day 10. We are still in the middle of the Atlantic, though closer to Brazil, than anything. We have detoured slightly to come alongside San Pedro Island-a tiny, largely unknown Island. It is, as far as we know, uninhabited and desolate, but we'll see in just a few more hours. Well. During a drill where we moved around the ship, refreshing our knowledge of various fire-fighting and first-aid apparatus and techniques, we passed to the North of the Island, or Islands. A motley collection of small rocks many hundreds of miles off the coast of Brazil. We saw three, small boats, a lighthouse and a satellite dish. No people. Very small, maybe a half-dozen acres at best, all rock and sand, coral and beach. Beautiful when viewed from the perpective of this rusty, old tub, but otherwise not much to look at.
Day 11 Nothing happening. Internal audits, wandering around the ship, laundry and sweet boredom.
Day 12. We're several hundred miles off the coast of South America, heading northwest past northern Brazil toward French Guayana and Suriname. I'm reduced to filing old emails and wishing I had some laundry to do. The weather has been unfailingly, hot and sunny with scattered clouds and fair seas. I see a lot of flying fish fleeing the bow wake. Looking forward to working out tonight, as the past two nights have been my nights off.
Day 13. Nothing. Fuckall.
Day 14. We received the codes for a new satellite, but nothing works. I wonder about my family. For all we know, WWIII has broken out, or the sun is about to go supernova. We are all frustrated.
Day 15 Woo Hoo! Sat comms are back.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I walked out on a deck this morning to have a look around while draining my first cuppa joe. It was dreary and grey. Sea the color of blued steel, faded, like the barrel of my old rifle on a cold November morning. Grey skies and the air so thick, you can see it. It felt sad and lonely up there so I came back in, quickly. I think it's likely just me, not looking forward to the loss of communication. I'm going to miss calls with my wife, LP in the background yelling, "I love you!", to get out of actually having to talk with her father on the phone. Going to miss the Internets, too and all you guys.
Well, this is it. I'll see you all on the other side, hopefully about one week out of Trinidad.
"Be safe and be happy today-tomorrow might be a real pisser." -me, right now
"So long, Earth. Catch you on the flip side." -Jack Swigert at lunar LOS, Apollo 13
Thursday, August 20, 2009
"I speak and speak," Marco says, "but the listener retains only the words he is expecting. The description of the world
to which you lend a benevolent ear is one thing; the description that will go the rounds of the groups of stevedores and
gondoliers on the street outside my house the day of my return is another; and yet another, that which I might dictate
late in life, if I were taken prisoner by Genoese pirates and put in irons in the same cell with a writer of adventure
stories. It is not the voice that commands the story: it is the ear."
Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino, 1972
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Today, reality sets in and the work begins. The one thing that stands out is that by several accounts, including some famous guy who sailed around the world, is that we are going to work the roughest waters in the world. It seems we had a ship nearly capsize there a few years ago. I thought Argentina and South of New Zealand were the worst:(
Monday, August 17, 2009
Anyway, I'm just thankful that everyone is safe and well. The mood onboard is tinged with hope. The market is in pretty bad shape and we were looking at an extended period with no work, but it looks like we have a good shot at work in Brazil and relatively soon (few months). Right now any work is good, but Brazil is an added bonus, especially for me-it would get me back to the western hemisphere for the first time in years...
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Came across a website dedicated to one of my favorite authors. The author is a regular, DAILY, participant on the discussion boards! I cannot convey in words what a delight this is!! Many of the books I read are of the world-building, sci-fi genre, where the reader is required to invest more than bit of grey matter in order to understand the underlying physics and natural laws that govern the universe the story is set in. The particular series I'm talking about is so well-written that in addition to the time and thought invested in understanding the universe, I've found myself emotionally invested in the characters, over the years and I've been reading this series for over 10 years (15 books, 7500 pages worth). What a treat it is to have 10 years of questions, now answerable. Post a question and the author usually responds in a day, or two. That kind of dedication to your fans is pretty much unheard of, especially from an author of over 50 novels . I am pleased as punch:)
The thyme-scented coffee makes me gag in the morning...
Friday, August 14, 2009
I go for coffee. Open the cupboard where the instant coffee and fixins are and it smells like spaghetti, or something...
Make coffee, take Malarone and head out back for a smoke. Take a drink of my coffee and it smells strongly like pizza, or spaghetti...
Back to the cupboard, I start digging around and....the makeshift sugar jar WAS a jar of THYME, now used for sugar. Good Times.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Yesterday, the sat comms began to noticeably deteriorate. They are shit, now. I've been able to get through checking, replying to email and Twitter and managed to read most of the my usual blogs in Google Reader, but it took hours. Still working on communications to and from the office. Priorities.
Was thinking today that I'm supposed to be a geophysicist-one of those geeks who sits at a desk fiddling with his pocket protector. As someone mentioned to me the other day, I'm the exception to every rule. Instead of a pocket protector in my button down shirt, I'm sitting here in bright orange work pants and ratty T-shirt with a six-inch boat knife strapped to my leg. I'm prepared to gut my computer like a fish if it gives me the slightest error. I'm contemplating taking a break from the chair to head out back and strip barnacles from the in-sea gear with a heavy rope and my trusty knife. Later this week I start getting re-certified in crane operations, rigging and slinging. Swinging 20-ton loads around with a 60 ft crane on a rolling, pitching ship is....interesting, I guess you could say. Next month I head off to get re-certified in HUET and prepare myself to get out of a helicopter after it crashes into the sea, flips upside-down and sinks underwater. That and FIRE fighting. I loves me some fire.
Anyway, I'm feeling very reflective and wondering how I ended up out here in such a weird fucking job. All I ever wanted to do in life was genetically modify humans, go into space, or pound on rocks with a hammer-not this shit. I'm not complaining, mind you, just wondering how fate managed to dump me out here off the coast of West Africa instead of a regular, 9-5 existence. My only real complaint is that I miss my wife and children and friends, terribly. OK, maybe also the sometimes really shitty food, or the fact that I can't drink milk for 7 months/year. Some green vegetables that aren't brown would be nice once in a while, too.
Still, as Tony Robbin's tweet today says "When the heart grieves over what it has lost, the spirit rejoices over what it has left." - Sufi quote. My spirit rejoices in the fact that I have a job at all, in these tough times. I hope you all are healthy, happy and at peace on this fine day.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Still wrapping up things here in (off of ) Angola. Deleting 10 months of work off the system is seriously depressing, though. All that work, one click and *poof* its gone:(
The crane is working overtime, right over my head. Hard to concentrate with the freaking howling of the hydraulics. Got my music turned up LOUD and its just not helping.
This trip there was one other American onboard. She's leaving today, leaving me as the resident Yank. Things are going to get tougher.
Finally, the British Chief Mechanic on here brought me back a book he picked up years ago, oddly, when he was passing through the states. Its about a corporate manger-type who goes to the big house for manslaughter and chronicles his time in the joint. Its dark and funny and twisted and I highly recommend it after reading the first 237 pages non-stop last night till 1am. Go get yerself some "You Got Nothing Coming"
Even more odd is that my opposite, who is also British, also just left me a book in the cabin we both occupy. Its also about a guy who does time in prison, but in Thailand, for drugs. I'm suddenly wondering what these British guys think of me...I mean, I haven't seen the inside of a cell in fucking years, dawgs.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Speaking of that, I am reminded of this little place next to a dirt airstrip in the jungles of Myanmar that I stopped in for a coffee and a cheroot, in hopes of toning down a bastard of hangover. They gave me shots of some sort of home-made hooch that you drink out of a large insect shell. Made me sort of not right in the head, like a .45 caliber slug. Not that drinking in the jungle at 6am is going to set things right in yer noggin...
And so I wonder. Do you know what a cheroot is? Cheroot is one of the distinctive icons of Myanmar. These cigars are made with a blend of tobacco and fragrant wood chips, then rolled up using a dried green leaf called the 'tha nat phet'. After adding a filter made of corn husks, the cheroot is ready to rock. They are mostly handmade by women in the Inle Lake region, but can be found everywhere in the country. I certainly had no trouble bumming one off of any local I met. They are by far the most wonderful smoke that doesn't alter your brain chemistry that I've ever had the pleasure of.
And I have missed them, terribly, ever since leaving Yangon in a panic, where I think the small handfull I had were taken by some soldiers who wanted to use me as their very own American-made punching bag. That, or I dropped them in my rush to get out of their makeshift boxing gym. I remember asking everyone I met in Suvarnabhumi Airport ( I escaped Myanmar to Bangkok) for one, but none were to be found. A girl in the airport massage parlour (legitimate! I had back issues!) gave me a little Chinese cigar from a wooden box, but it wouldn't smoke because of these little, round holes in the leaf wrapping. She told me they were worm holes...
Monday, August 10, 2009
Somebody call email@example.com
Luanda is much the same as I left it. Dirt, dust, crumbling adobe and mud bricks. Tin held down by debris and small children sitting in the dirt playing with garbage. Stray dogs and traffic jams. Soldiers and women carrying goods on their heads. I will not be sorry to leave this place.
Made it to the ship. Spent a total of 6 hours between the airport immigration lounge and the cage on the docks. Overnight we steamed to the prospect and I actually strung together 8 hours sleep before and after dinner. At one point, I began to dream that somebody was in trouble...I could hear them yelling "help me!" as if from a great distance, a faint calling. Slowly, I woke up. I could still hear him. "Help me." "Please help me." "Its hot in here." W.T.F? I could hear one of the crew pleading for help. I sat up and looked around the darkened metal container I was sharing with eight other guys. Suddenly, I hear the captain in the bunk below roll over and swear. He gets out and starts giving the unseen chap in distress a rash of shit. Turns out one of the crew had locked himself in the containers makeshift bathroom and could not get out. He was slowly baking to death inside there. For the next 20 minutes I lay in my bunk, pissing myself laughing as they tried to extricate him. Eventually, they had to tear the door down to get him out. The poor guy emerged in his boxers and socks, dripping with sweat and still looking more than slightly panicked. I drifted back off to sleep, still chuckling.
Later, not long after I woke, showered and sat out on the back deck, evidently another crew member did the same thing and once again the door had to be removed to get him out. Good times.
Anyway, we eventually reached the prospect and my ship, took a short ride over in the jet boat and after a short handover, I headed out on the back deck to deploy gear where I got a decent workout, barnacle juice in my eye and then shuffled off to sauna and to sleep the sleep of the dead.
I woke up for my first full shift a full hour late this morning. Not good. Mucho java before I head back out on deck and start playing with winches and reels and tensions measured in tens of tons.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Sitting at the dining room table drinking coffee on my last full day at home. I head for Angola tomorrow. It's a beautiful morning and I can hear my girls talking and giggling upstairs, still in bed. Number one son is still passed out cold. All I have to do is pack, charge batteries, get a haircut, book a Yotel cabin at London Heathrow, print my travel documents and take care of a few loose ends around the house.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
We made it back home on Sunday night and did absolutely nothing on Monday, but the last two days I've been putting up firewood for the winter. I've got 4 full cords cut, split and stacked in the woodshed, alongside my driveway, in the basement racks and the rack in the living room is half full. The only thing left to do is split a little kindling and I'm ready for the snow.
Now, if my back recovers before I have to fly out in a week, I'll be a happy man.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
We left and hit another favorite spot, this time a favorite for fishing. A small, wooded point on the canal, it's right in town, but nearly always deserted and boasts a 24 ft drop-off. We drifted worms and pieces of hotdog, but the wind and current were against us. Hiking back to the car, LP found a nice piece of float copper. After a quick lunch, we next fished a long, wooden dock on the canal right in front of Mr. Budd's house. LP had all the luck and I had a wonderful time watching her.
Instead of going home in the afternoon, LP wanted to go four-wheeling. We drove out into the bush and I gave LP the wheel. She loves to drive and especially in the mud. She drove us all over the woods, finding every single mud bog in the forest. We also stopped at our favorite wilderness lakes, saw a timberdoodle, deer and some ducks. After LP took a year, or two off the life of the truck, we limped home and I stayed pretty close to the couch for the rest of the evening.
Finally, that other summer tradition, ticks. Got a big, hairy bastard trying to suck me dry right through my kneecap. Smothered him in vasoline and scraped him off a few minutes later. Ticks.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I should note that on that ship we live in a metal box, or container, strapped down on the back deck. From living in the box, we moved into the cage on the dock in Luanda. This time we literally walked in and right back out of the cage, which was a treat. Any day not in the cage is a good one. We took a bus up the bluff to the airport. Our driver was obviously paid by the mile. our navigators reckoned we drove a star pattern, taking us to each corner of the city along the way.
Our handlers efficiently shuffled us through to ticketing and then promptly split. Running the gauntlet of security, customs, immigration and the Quanza Man (TM) is simply a major fucking drag. Everyone you encounter except the Quanza Man (TM) likes to stare at you and do nothing. Just stare. I think they look for a reaction to see if you're running late, then they stare longer while you sweat and fidget. I smile a lot and try hard to fart. That is usually a very effective buzzkill that immediately gets you shuffled to the next official.
So, I farted at customs, passed gas at immigration and managed security without the need for flatulence and then had to face the Quanza Man (TM).
Quanza Man (TM) is unique in my experience and he has one of the best jobs in the world. He is paid to steal your money, if he can. Thats it. You have to enter his office and he tries to steal your money. I was out of gas by the time I got to his office and well, it doesn't work on him, anyway. You see, he wears a rubber glove to work. Yep. He'll find that cash even if you've keistered it. And this is what happens: Quanza man holds up a rubber-gloved finger and asks you if you have any Quanza (local currency). I say no. He asks again, wiggling the finger, looking for a sign of weakness. I say no, I work on a ship-no Quanza. Then he demands US dollars. I say I have none. He then demands all my money. I say no. He says give me your US dollars and I lean forward, say no and stare into his dead eyes. We stay locked like this for at least a full minute as he waits for me to break. I don't and he tells me to get out.
It happens this way every time I'm confronted by Quanza Man (TM). For others, it goes differently and mostly a bit tougher. He is, after all wearing a rubber glove and he's not afraid to use it. Mostly, he gets people to open their wallets, turn out their pockets, or open their carry-ons. If you're weak enough to agree, he'll take any currency he finds and stuff it in his pocket, unless you raise all holy hell. He's hard to stop once he sees your money, which is why I simply stare him down and say no to whatever he demands. This time he manged to get one guy to open a wallet that had at least ten different currencies and they spent some long minutes yelling about it. I tell you, I wish I had that fucker's job.
Anyway, I went to the bar, slammed 6 beers in 20 minutes and flew the fuck outta there. Had a couple hours layover in Johannesburg, South Africa. Hit the lounge for a while, then had a decent Malaysian curry with a couple of my shipmates from the Philippines. The flight from Jo'burg was 16 hours. Man, I hate those long ones. I start to question my sanity after about 12 hours and start talking to myself soon after that.
Atlanta is a decent airport, overlooking the long trek to the main terminal, and a place where you can smoke. Met a lot of soldiers. They are everywhere in here and it's simply impossible to say hello, welcome them back, or wish them luck and thank them for their service. It would be a full time job for like an army of people. Anyway, I thanked as many as I could while waiting in line for security and whatnot.
Now its off to my next flight and Minnie...only two more to go!
UPDATE: I'm home, recovering pretty well and heading out to see the new Harry Potter movie with all 3 of my kids!!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Anyway, the seas are calm, my supply ship's ETA is 1100 hrs. Jet boat is fueled up and we are ready to rock.
I'll see all you cats on the beach, Tuesday.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
It is, in some ways, a tough nut, in that we founded this country on the belief that people have the right to offend each other, but there it is. Living under the flag gives you the right to burn it in protest, if you're so inclined. It is exactly that basic freedom that makes us who we are as a nation and a people and not a bunch of poor schmucks living under a King, or much, much worse.
I think the Marinette County District Attorney might need to pull his head out of his ass, especially after citing that it's illegal to cause a disruption as any decent lawyer could tear his ass apart in court for trying to portray a difference of opinion as a disruption (I see no mention of people rioting in the streets over this). Whatever, it was an interesting story and not all that far from home, either.
Friday, July 10, 2009
From Luanda, Angola
Latitude: 8° 50' 17" S
Longitude: 13° 14' 3" E
to Johannesburg, South Africa
Latitude: 26° 12' 0" S
Longitude: 28° 5' -1" E
That's 1,339 miles, or 2,480 Km.
Then northwest from there to Houghton, Mi
Latitude: 47° 7' 19" N
Longitude: 88° 34' 8" W
For another 8,750 miles, or 14,081 Km.
Adding up the two gives me a grand total commute of 10,089 miles, or 16,561 Km, as the crow flies.
This time around, I've got excellent flights and layovers which should put me at about 29 hours total flying time, plus a 24 hour boat ride into Luanda and half a day clearing customs and immigration. All in all, not a bad commute home as long as I can avoid rush hour traffic...
Thursday, July 9, 2009
"Yer in" for some big changes when pee power hits the market, putting the oil and coal industries.... in the toilet.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Found Buzz Aldrin on Twitter today. Didn't know he did a rap video with Snoop?? Also, decided to follow Obama for a while, sort of a morbid curiosity thing, you know? Also Noted Danny Evans (The Almighty Dad Gone Mad) decided to follow me, yesterday. If you Tweet, go check out my followers, followees. Maybe you'll find somebody new and worthwhile...
Food quality has been going way up and WAY down, lately. I've been eating mostly salads, anyway. Freaking fresh veggies on the ship, here in West Africa, are like crack!
Ripped open the side of my foot trying to get out of my bathroom in rough seas. Cannot find what actually sliced my foot open (down the entire side, from little toe to heal!). On top of something unknown, lurking in the shadows, waiting to rip open my other foot, the wound looks to be infected. Red lines running up your leg are a bad thing, no?
Was informed that one of our small boats on another ship had an accident and capsized, with the guys bailing out into the sea. Hate to hear things like this, but at least they all survived and we can learn a few lessons from it. It's a vivid reminder that what we do out here can seem like a just the daily grind, but is, in reality, extremely dangerous. The dangers of fire, explosion, crushing, dismemberment, drowning, sharks, etc., are all around us out here, yet you sometimes tend to loose the sense of immediacy when dealing with them on a day-to-day basis. Reminders are a good thing.
Still waiting to find out where I'm going next. I'm really hoping for Peru, or Madagascar and NOT waiting around for more Angola, late in the year, though that will most likely happen no matter where I go in the interim.
Whatever the case, I'm outta here in 5 more days and outta Angola in 6...God willing the creek don't rise.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Guy just doesn't fucking get it, does he? I think somebody needs to tell him we don't need to meddle-his own fucking people are rioting...as LP would say -
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Today, a pack of dolphins were hunting off our port bow. From the look of the panicked little dudes, the tuna were the object of the hunt. They were all trying to make like flying fish, with little, or no success.
The weather here is really hot today. Like Africa hot, oddly enough.
My crew-x "limo" is alongside right now. I was just out doing laps on the heli-deck and boy oh boy, did it look inviting. Wish today was next Sunday and I was getting on that fucker and heading for the beach.
Watched the first half of LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring last night. The file came from someone on the crew from outside the US and again, there were a ton of scenes new to me. This time, it did tend to add to the story a bit (possibly unlike the difference between The Professional and Leon).
Still reading A Short History of Nearly Everything. What a delightful book! He pops in and out of each science as needed to tell the tale of everything, and we've just dropped back in to visit Geology and the fact that Yellowstone is one, giant caldera, ready to obliterate humans from the face of North America. Very cool.
That's all the Sunday News from West Africa that's fit to print. Peter Frampton has just replaced Gloria Gaynor on my laptop and the young Indonesian working next me is seriously considering taking a fire axe to the side of my head over the strange music I play 18 hrs/day. Ya'll have a great day. Be cool and stay in school.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
My celebration consisted of the following:
1. Improvised tea party, where I waved a little, home-made American flag and dumped 3 Tetley tea bags overboard.
2. Teasing the Brits onboard, mercilessly.
3. Read both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, online. (Forgot to bring my pocket book versions!)
I sincerely hope you all have a great 4th of July and a wonderful weekend.
The full description of my personality varies from the results of my actual test:
Serious, quiet, earn success by concentration and thoroughness. Practical, orderly, matter-of-fact, logical, realistic, and dependable. See to it that everything is well-organized. Take responsibility. Make up your own mind as to what should be accomplished and work toward it steadily, regardless of protests or distractions. You relate more easily to the inner world of ideas than to the outer world of people and things. You like quiet for concentration, tend to be careful with details, dislike sweeping statements, have trouble remembering names and faces, dislike telephone intrusions and interruptions, work contentedly alone, have some problems communicating. You would rather work with known facts than look for new possibilities and relationships. You dislike new problems unless there are standard ways to solve them, like an established way of doing things, enjoy using skills already learned more than learning new ones, seldom make errors of fact, tend to be good at precise work, are patient with routine details. You base your judgments more on impersonal analysis and logic than on personal values. You do not show emotion readily and are often uncomfortable dealing with people's feelings, may hurt people's feelings without knowing it, like analysis and putting things into logical order, tend to decide impersonally sometimes paying insufficient attention to people's wishes, are able to reprimand people or fire them when necessary. You like a planned, decided orderly way of life better than a flexible, spontaneous way. You work best when you can plan your work and follow the plan, like to get things settled and finished, may decide things too quickly, may dislike to interrupt the project you are on for a more urgent one. * * * Some Vocational Implications Of Your Personality Preferences * * * You focus your attention on facts and handle them with impersonal analysis, thus you tend to become practical and matter-of-fact and find scope for your abilities in technical skills with facts and objects. For example: Applied science, business, production, construction
I see a lot of truth in here. I dislike interruptions, I am fascinated by ideas and learning and I think I may tend to hurt people's feelings without knowing it. My work is an applied science, doing production of a sort and I also worked in construction for 15 years.
To the online description I found on a Meyers-Briggs website:
The Thought Police
ISTJs are characterized by loyalty, duty, and civic responsibility. As an ISTJ, you have a natural understanding of the value of civil harmony and order, and a deep-seated dislike of non-conformity, anarchy, and chaos.
For an ISTJ, work is very important to a sense of self-satisfaction. Happiness comes most easily for you when you have a job that allows you to express your ethic. Whether it's blasting traitorous rebel scum as a proud Imperial Stormtrooper or monitoring the population's cerebral implants searching for evidence of unauthorized thought patterns as one of the Thought Police, you're most satisfied when you are crushing the population beneath the iron boot heel of oppression on behalf of your masters.
RECREATION; ISTJs approach leisure with the same dedication they bring to spreading tyrrany and oppression. Common ISTJ pasttimes include cleaning their rifles, improving their marksmanship, betting on political dissidents in the Gladiator Arena, and macrame.
COMPATIBILITY: ISTJs are capable of stong emotional connections, bonding closely with the other ISTJs in their unit, platoon, or sector.
All I have to say about this characterization is that while I do thoroughly enjoy cleaning my rifle and improving my marksmanship, I do not engage in macrame.
Well, now you know more than you ever wanted, or needed to know about me. If you're curious where you test out, try the following link: Meyers-Briggs.
Friday, July 3, 2009
On that note, I'm now following the narrator and a MythBusters writer, but I'm not yet sure why...I also, somehow dropped Grant Imahara for a while, but just rectified the problem. My daughter and I loves us some MythBusters!
Although I cannot fathom why, if you'd like to follow me on Twitter....I'm here.
To top it off, the smell of our diesel fuel is permeating the ship. We're draining and venting one of the big fuel tanks and there is simply no way to avoid the smell. Personally, I'm happy with it. I happen to love the smell of gasoline and diesel. Yeah, I know it's weird, but when I wake up and smell that fuel, it's like manna from heaven.
We've got satellite TV onboard. I don't watch it, except when I pop in to the proper smoking lounge for a quick smokey treat (usually, I head out on the back deck). Last night I popped in there and actually flipped through the channels. We get one news channel. Al Jazeera. One movie channel. Sky? I think. One sports channel that shows cricket and football (that shit they play in Europe, not Oklahoma). And finally, the UK version of Discovery. Rather slim pickings for the boys.
I'm glad I'm a reader and not a TV watcher.
Note: Reading A short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. It is wonderful; packed with science, history, betrayal, murder and a guy who thought he could turn his pee into gold and did, in fact, just that (sort of). Bill takes his readers on an extraordinary journey to discover and understand everything around us and in my opinion, succedes with style, grace and healthy dollup of irony. I would consider it a must-read for everyone, but especially Blondie, LL and Mr. Budd. (Dear Mr. Budd, I would bring it home for you but I took it in the sauna too many times and it fell apart.)
However, I do occasionally watch a movie on my laptop and I just watched the European version of The "Professional", called "LEON". Their version is like 30 minutes longer. In this one, Mathilda is shown accompanying Leon to meet Big Tony, and on several hits, learning how to kill (double-tap to the chest, not the face) as well as them falling in love. Not sure the extra time actually adds to the film, but it's still damn good.
That's about it from here.........oh! Yesterday I saw a bunch of whales. Mother and calf, plus a few stray bulls. They looked quite happy and content (for whales)
Ya'll be cool
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Nothing much else happening, here. Had meetings all morning, then paperwork from the meetings. Just biding my time till crew-x, which is now in jeopardy (of course) due to some mechanical/ops issues. Shee-it, it wouldn't be crew-x if it wasn't in danger of being canceled, or delayed. Even if I do make it, I'm flying into Atlanta and it has a bad record of canceled flights/unable to land bullshit, for me. Would rather be coming into Newark, JFK, Dulles, Miami, Houston, or (please, someday!) direct to Minnie. Seems the weather is always against me in Atlanta. C'est La Vie...
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
It is never easy being a parent. Never.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Tomorrow is Middle Pirate's birthday, wish I was home for it.
Friday, June 26, 2009
- 160 million years ago - Madagascar is born as it separates from the African mainland
- 80 million years ago - Madagascar breaks away from India
- Around 2000 years ago - Madagascar settled by Indonesians or people of mixed Indonesian/African descent
- December 1894 - France invades Madagascar and takes the capital Tana on October 1, 1895. France loses only 20 men in battle during the campaign but more than 6,000 to disease
- 2005 The Pirate watches the movie and learns that lemurs come from Madagascar.
- June 26th, The Pirate learns he might work in Madagascar and looks up the capital city in the giant Atlas to find it's called Antananarivo, The city of one-thousand warriors and yells "Fuck me! That's cool!"
*All this Malagasy goodness comes from a plethora of sources across the wide-open plains of the wild and wonderful Internet.
I'm going to have to watch the movie tonight, I guess.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Perhaps I should just start my own anti-social networking site like Fuckyoubook, or Hatester...
Given the recent indiscretions of a certain politician who was oh so quick to crucify a certain past president for the same sort behavior, I could even start a special site just for politicians called HypocriteSpace, where they can dump on each other for taking bribes, screwing prostitutes, doing drugs, and whatnot until they get caught doing the same thing. I bet you'd even get those bogus members, you know? Prostitutes and lobbyists posing as fellow politicians, trying to get you to add them as friend, just so you'll visit their website and negotiate for a blow job, or a favorable vote on gun control. You could allow them to form and join groups, just like Facebook; Vote Yourself a Larger Salary, Sell a Seat in Congress, What's Wrong With Breaking Campaign Promises?, High Priced Call Girl Lists For the State and Federal Elected, Proud To Be Corrupt, Great places to Get Away and Cheat on the Wife (The Argentina group won't be very popular) and Who Needs Morals? We were Elected. The possibilities are endless!
I think I'm on to something here...
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
I watched the tuna schooling around the ship again, today. They are a brilliant, electric silver-blue that looks fantastic in contrast to the deep blue of the ocean. There are literally tens of thousands schooled up around the ship, endlessly cruising in a circle around the hull.
I've had this theory about my ability to sleep onboard and what affects it. One of the issues is incline. NASA uses incline to study the effects of weightlessness. I've checked the meters that track the pitch, roll and heave of the ship. I'm sleeping head down at an average of 2-4 degrees. A hard look at the drink dispenser in the mess confirms this-it has a clear, plastic reservoir that illustrates the pitch, roll and heave nicely, when filled with a colorful juice or whatnot. Hard science, people. The juice never lies.
Anyway, I think I need to switch my sleeping direction head to foot and alleviate the blood pooling in my head 4-5 hours/night. That cannot be good, can it?
It's a damn good read, no matter your opinions on the subject matter.
I feel so bad I'm putting creamer in my coffee for the first time in 35 years. No, I don't count Baileys as creamer, thank you very much.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
OK, I AM sweating like a pig and wheezing like a steam locomotive, though. This ping pong is NOT for old people...and only five more opponents to go.