Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A pirate's miscellany

The days out here are beginning to drag.  Feeling a little like I have the flu, as well.

High point of the day was a long conversation about coconut plantations, their products and how they are sold in the Philippines.

Asked for some VCO (Virgin Coconut Oil) for my scalp-it gets VERY dry onboard.

Watched part 2 of the old Lonesome Dove mini-series, last night.

Rumours of Alaska in my immediate future are once again surfacing.  Back to where the old, original blog was born........hmmmm.

Had nothing but veggies and water for lunch.  PW would be shocked.  Ate too many olives, though.

Does anyone out there intentionally mis-spell words just to spite spell-checker?  No?  I'm probably just too close to my computers and a little touched in the head.

Conference call coming up so I gotta split.

Later folks

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

GREEN

We're getting supplied today.  The old supply boat drops back and we rope it in as we keep sailing.  Then, we crane over all the goodies.  Equipment, food, you name it.

At lunch, a fresh salad suddenly popped up on the cold table.  BAM!  We nailed that bastard.   The onions were so bitter that they had to picked out of the salad-totally not edible, bit otherwise, it was freaking awesome to eat real, live green leaves.  It's really hard to get decent food out here off the coast of Angola, let me tell you.

I received some much supplies for my end of this operation and that was nice, too.  Other than that, it has been pretty much business as usual.  12 days to go....

Peace

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fix yer shit

Swine Flu?   Fix that shit before I get home, people!

 I've got massive amounts of AIDS, malaria, cholera and all that shit do deal with here and I really don't need to come home to the freaking swine flu.  And the dang Malarone I already have to take for malaria makes me sleepy and fucks with my appetite.  And the dreams?  Forget it.  Like acid...

So, get on the stick and I mean now!  I want to come home in 2 weeks.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

the best it gets

Spent over an an hour online with my oldest daughter.  Trying to install a music widget on her facebook page, chatting back and forth on Google chat.  It wasn't what most would consider quality time, but I'll take what I can get as I float around a few hundred miles off the coast of Africa.

two weeks to go...

Today was supposed to be crew-x for me.  Some of the others left.  I consoled myself with some sashimi for lunch.  It was heavenly.  I used a little more wasabi than usual, as sort of a pick-me-up.  We were supposed to have a stow-away drill today.  A chance at redemption in the form of a second shot at finding the bastard that managed to stay hidden for over an hour until we begged him to come out over the ship's intercom.  However, the drill was cancelled due to work on the in-sea gear.

Boredom has been staved off with small system issues and a bunch of smiling new faces as this mid-trip crew-x completes.  I am, however, slightly homesick and tired of dealing with other things onboard, this trip.

I have no good books to read.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Shipboard daydreams

Friend from the Philippines: "I bought a coconut tree plantation.  I can plant other kinds of trees and harvest their wood."
Me: "Plant pineapple trees.  You can harvest Pina Coladas."


We both daydream for a while....

Celebration time, come on!

No, it's not time for the Commodores.  I celebrated the official word that I have to stay onboard for another two weeks by working nineteen hours straight.  Then, sometime after I finally crawled off to my rack and passed out, my cabin phone rang.  It was one of my people waking me up to solve a problem.  It seems I told them I had a solution but didn't feel like doing it and hung up.  Guess I don't do the middle of the night very well.

Today, we ran into a mess of fishing gear which tangled our shit and ripped some of it off, possibly.  Not a good day, by any measure.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Going nowhere

I'm officially going nowhere.  My relief didn't get his Angolan visa, dammit.  Stuck till next month and it sucks to be me.

I'm not angry, but I sort of wish a few Somali pirates would board, just so I could work the kinks out...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

trapped!

Looking grim.  Seems I may be trapped here for another 2 weeks plus.  The final verdict comes within hours and I am not hopeful.  Damn.  Damn.  Damn.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blizzard?

According to the NWS in Flagstaff, AZ (where else?) the origin of the the word "blizzard" stems from it's use to describe a cannon shot, or volley.  It was first used to describe a snowstorm in the 1870's by an Iowa newspaper.

And there you go.

No blizzards in Africa

I'm missing the great April blizzard of 2009 back home:( 

It's 105 degrees here, still.

At least the sashimi is good.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chow

Had sashimi tonight.  Yellowfin tuna, pulled out of the sea only 20 minutes prior. Fa-huck me.  Pounds of it.

Also found out that my opposite has not gotten his visa and I may be stuck on here another 2.5 weeks. I'm off to burn off the fish and bad mood with bastard of a workout.  Later.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Can't resist..

Somebody just ended up here by Googling "I just woke up and my balls hurt".  Poor fucker.

NOT before coffee

Chaos has ruled the ship, today.  I got whacked with problems, pre-coffee.  Again.  That pretty much set the tone for the day and put me off my game.

I managed one, or two minor miracles, but not enough to make the day a success.  After about 6 hours, I needed to break the cycle and decided to bring my computer system down.  First, I killed my PC and hauled it off to the tech shack, where I gutted it, cleaned it and reseated the cards and boards.  Then I shut down all my work stations, cleaned the cable runs, desks, floor and re-cabled everything much neater.  Moved my PC from on the floor under my desk, to up on the desk behind the monitor.

That and a shift change broke the spell.  Things are a bit more orderly and back on track.  I've got the speakers wired to my laptop and the tunes rocking, again.

No word on the upcoming crew-x, but I'm hopeful visas, flights, helicopters, ships and whatnot, will all fall into place by the end of the week.   *Fingers crossed*

Oh yeah, I just got an instant message from a guy in South Africa who said he just sent me another 10 terabytes of disk space...Wooo Hooo!

THAT makes my day.

 I wish you all peace, love and harmony.  You know, like a song from the 60's.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fire drill, cheese sandwich and bad gas

The trip is dragging on, painfully.  It's a blessing that I will (hopefully) be getting off next week. 

Today we had a fire drill.   The fire was forward, over the fuel tanks.  I had to lay out hose across the heli-deck, for one of the fire teams.  It was kind of a yawner, other than a bent flange on the nozzle, making it difficult to connect.  Gave it to the engineer at the debrief.  Then, we watched a couple of videos.  One was a short clip of a huge fucking sperm whale checking out a wellhead, caught on film by an ROV.  Pretty awesome.  The other had something to do with a monkey fucking a basketball.  I love QHSE videos.

This afternoon, I began my handover notes:)

Also this afternoon, I ate a camembert cheese sandwich, in keeping with Obama's call for Americans to embrace their mediocrity and acknowledge the dominance of Europe and the rest of the world.  Tomorrow, I will eat chilis for breakfast, rejoicing in the fact that we bend over backwards for illegal immigrants and inept goverments cowering in fear of drug lords.  Lunch?  Plain rice sprinkled with melamine and lead, celebrating years of impotent trade agreements with China and their 25-year domination of the American market for tainted food, drywall and baby products.  I call it the "Not only the French are Yellow" Diet and it already gives me bad gas, just like that South Beach bullshit.  Ya'll have a nice day, eh?

Porn For Women

Have I ever mentioned that I'm pleased with the fact that I have readers coming from some place with a url like www.msnaughty.pornforwomen.com?  I'm not entirely sure what the draw is and well, I can't even go check out the site while I'm at work.  I've seem the url in my statcounter before, but have always been at work, dammit. Nonetheless, welcome ladies...

Oh, perhaps one of you who don't live at your job and have only a work Internets connection might go check out the site and let me know what's up over there? 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sarabande

Had one of those days where I just wanted to pack it in and quit this job and this god-awful shitty existence, trapped in a floating prison off the coast of West Africa.  I wanted to run screaming from work and not look back, but I can't run away.  I'm fucking stuck here, even if I quit.  Even if I launched the jet boat and hauled-ass for shore, I would run out of gas long before I reached the coast.  No, I could quit and then spend another week living at work.  Fuck.

I'll sit in the sauna reading a book for an hour and feel somewhat better in the morning, but GODDAMMIT, I just can't get away from it when things get ugly.

In other news I ate some eggplant tonight at dinner.

Bad day

Holy shit what a bad day.  Cannot wait to get off this tub.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

crap

Absolute crap day.  Nothing worse than dealing with personnel issues:(

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dang

This morning's email from LL has a link to Bonnaroo and I go check out the artists.  Bad move.  I wanna GO!  A show featuring The Mars Volta, Elvis Costello, Bela Fleck, Lucinda Williams, Robert Earl Keen Jr., Phish, NIN, David Byrne, Al Green, Paul Okenfeld and the great Merle Haggard, and a host of others.  Dang.

Not to be totally disappointed, I realized that I can simply have my own Bonnaroo, here.  It aint live, but it beats a two by four upside the head.

Lucinda Williams is headlining.  She'll be followed by David Byrne and The Mars Volta for the morning show.

/Offforcoffeeb4davidstartsup

Monday, April 13, 2009

Space Junkies of the world rise up

A smorgasbord of space images, from the folks at NASA.  My current favorite is the moon panorama.

Music

So by now you all know I get a bit obsessed with my digital music collection.  I happen to think it's normal when I work and listen to music 12-20 hours a day, seven days a week out here, but whatever.  Last night I completed rating my entire collection: 1,177 artists, 17,688 songs.  Rated every one of those bastards.  I was quite pleased with myself when I hit the rack last night.  Today, I popped up my 5 stars and hit shuffle in Media Player.

It suddenly plays only about 50 of the 4,000-odd 5-star tunes.  It also plays a handful that aren't 5-star.  WTF?   I hate Media Player.

***
For any Yoopers out there:
A guy from lower Michigan instant messaged a Filipino guy working in my office.  I had the Filipino call him a troll:)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Easter onboard.  Not much fun, really.  It's 105 degrees and NOT spring-like at all.

Last year we awoke to find Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies just outside our cabin doors.  Not sure who pulled that off, but it was hokey and funny and very thoughtful.

This year we awoke to find the toilets weren't working.  We had seafood for lunch and then a fire drill.  For the drill we shook the kinks out of the port and stbd hoses abeam on the boat deck and fired those puppies up, out on the heli-deck.  We had a race to see who could get their hose laid out and charged the fastest.  It was...well, it was better than sitting at my desk looking at numbers and squiggly lines.  The high point for me came when the Chief gunner and three other guys manned the hose and practiced moving.  You have to put one hand on the guy in front of you and call a cadence as you move, so you maintain the right spacing and keep your feet.  I told the Chief they looked like a real ugly boy band.  He threatened me with the hose but I laughed and laughed.

Now, it's back to the grindstone, missing my family and friends.  I hope all of you are home and having a wonderful Easter holiday.  And the picture?  My favorite Easter Sunday, back in 2003 in Tamarack City, when we walked up to Hungarian Falls in the mist and the fog, exploring the woods and waterfalls, jumping in puddles, getting cold and wet and having a blast.

Another PSA

I've been thinking about another Google search that brought someone here-toluene huffing.  I'm not against mind-altering substances in general, but if you're thinking about going down that road I would like to offer up a little personal experience on the subject.  No, I didn't spend my youth sucking on a wet sock inside a paper bag, thank you.  I did, however, have a next-door neighbor who did.  We lived in adjacent apartments and by default, I spent several months breathing the shit whenever I was home and I can say it utterly befuckles the mind.  But I don't wish to speak of my nervous ticks and hallucinations, rather I would just describe what continued huffing did to my neighbor.

Not long after I moved in, he came over to make sure I wasn't with the US Government.  You see, they were beaming microwaves at his head in order to keep him from contacting the mothership, or his home planet.  He dressed like a pirate from the 17th century.  He wore a diving mask lined with tin foil and flippers while driving his motorcycle.  His apartment contained a giant, working communicator.  I mean it lit up, made noises and sparked a lot.  I'm not sure if it would actually communicate with the mothership, but it spoke volumes to me, especially after I'd been home for a few hours, sucking up this guy's toluene fumes.  There were days I was sure it would work, if only the microwaves would stop.

The final thing I would like to relate to those wanna-be huffers is the story of my roommate's birthday.  We drank a lot of beer and smoked a lot of dope, as you should on your birthday.  Oh, and lets not forget the fumes from next door.  Anyway, all this impacted my roommate pretty hard and unbeknownst to him, his appendix was slowly leaking (it later burst).  This got him very sick at about 1am.  He went out on the balcony overlooking the parking lot and puked his guts out. Right into the motorcycle helmet our neighbor had left hanging upside-down over the sissy bar on the back of his chopper.  Filled it.

The next morning I had the distinct pleasure of watching Mr. pirate/alien huffer walk up to his chopper and put on his helmet.  He drove off with puke running down his face, totally unaware, or uncaring of the fact.  Everything else aside, THAT is why you should never, ever huff.

/offtothemothership

The little old sailor that lived in a shoe...

PW and I have often remarked on ugly houses as we are driving and spot a particularly bad one, whether it be the color, or the architecture.  A fellow pirate just sent me this link for ugly ships and  I must confess that I've never really thought of any ship I've been as ugly, but after seeing the ships on the site, I can well imagine that I could think of such.  Imagine my surprise to find the two newest ships in my own fleet shown on the site.  And yes, they are both butt-ugly.  The site admin compares them to shoes.   Designer shoes, but nonetheless, shoes.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

PSA

Going through my statcounter page for this blog I see that yesterday, no less than 3 different people googled "layover in Amsterdam how to get to brothel".  It warms my heart to see that this blog is also functioning as a public service, providing information to people in need.  If I wasn't clear a few posts back, it is a simple matter of following the signs for the train and passing through passpport control and customs.  Once you get to the terminal above the trains, there are train schedules posted all over, along with diagrams.  There are also a bunch of kiosks to buy your ticket.  Get the express train direct into Amsterdamn.  It takes about 20 minutes, one way, so you need 40 minutes, plus time for your business, plus another 30 minutes to clear passport control and customs on the way back to your gate.  The train dumps you right there at the red-light/hash bar district.  You have less than 2 blocks to walk to get whatever it is that floats yer boat.  The mind-altering stuff is found on the menus and posted on the walls.  The um, livelier fare can be window-shopped from the sidewalk.  Being married, I wouldn't know anything beyond the window-shopping, but I'm sure ya'll can figure it out for yourselves when you get there.  This has been a public service announcement from the proprietors of Addled Mind and Idle Hands, in connection with The Pirate, who does not ever operate off the coast of Somalia and will not be kidnapping your husbands, sons and brothers for gold.  We will now return to our regular programming.
***

Last night I worked a couple hours late. About 2 hours later I wandered back in to check on something and all hell broke loose.  Ended up having to work another 7 freaking hours.  Feel like crap today.  Still, we are making some progress and the stress level is exponentially lower this trip.
***
The extra hours allowed me to finally complete the rating of my 6,000 new songs.  I now have a kick-ass, 5-star rating playlist that fucking rocks.  I've been listening to it on shuffle today and it like somebody dug around in my head and created the ultimate radio station just for me.  It changes from Metallica's Sandman to Aquarious/Let the Sun Shine In to Billy Preston's Will it Go Round in Circles to Brad Paisely doing Ticks and rounds things out with Crossfade, Linkin Park or maybe the Partridge Family.  It makes me laugh and smile all day:)  If you're curious, or one of the three people (you know who you are) that get up and use this site as a radio station, you can go to my Last.fm page, browse the charts, or check out my library, and play most of my tunes from either one.  The tunes on here are limited and it will take a lot of work to encorporate the newest additions to my personal library.
***
The weather, which has been sort of cloudy, cool, rainy and windy has turned the corner and it is once again AFRICA HOT here.  I'm bugging out early to get some sun and rest.  Ya'll be cool.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sailors beware

As a sailor, I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm superstitious.  Sometimes very much so and never more so than when it comes to crew-x.  So, I wouldn't mention that I'm going to get off the ship very early this trip, but I've already had to tell PW and if I'm to be jinxed, well, I've already done it.  So, yes, I have just worked out the particulars of leaving here VERY early, in as little as two weeks.  I've got a workshop that previously scheduled for early May, long before my next crew-x was moved back to mid-May.  If all goes well, I'll be out of here on or about the 25th of this month, giving me lots o time to get back to the states and make my workshop in Houston.  Plan on taking PW and LP with me, so I was REALLY hoping to make it home and now, it looks like I'll not only make it, but have an extra two weeks and a bit with the family:)

On a totally unrelated note, our honey comes from China and smells like chemicals.  It has a date produced (do the little communist worker bees punch a time clock and have quotas?) and an expiration date (honey does not expire and can, in fact last thousands of years).

Yesterday, we had a discussion about the wii game, all it's little gadgets and how you have to actually MOVE your body to play it.  I noted that I won't be getting one unless they come out with a Wii bed and a line of sex games.

Some things just never change

So what have we learned in 2 millennia???

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled,
public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should
be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands
should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt.  People must
again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."

                                                        ~ Cicero -  55 BC
Evidently nothing...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

CMX - MSP - LHR - LIS - LUA

So, I've neglected the blog in favor of a little work and sleep since arriving a few days ago.  How I got here follows, if the title of the post makes no sense...wrote this along the way, last week...

"I'm somewhere 37,000 feet above the African plains.  I've not slept in 48 hours, but am hopeful that I'll find a place to lay my head in Luanda in another 8 hours, or so.

Spent 4 hours in Minnie.  Did the usual, Chinese food, a hunk of gourmet chocolate from the Godiva-type store and a smoke down by the buses between C and G terminals.  Counted 223 laps around the plane while the rest of the cattle slept. 

London Heathrow was old, dirty and smelled bad.  I don't think that the current and massive upgrade it's receiving will be enough.  Some corridors are like caves and while things generally go smoothly there, I sometimes wonder why I hate Paris and Charles De Gaul so much.  At least it doesn't smell.

As I flew into Lison, Portugal I spent some measure of time taking it in through the window.  The city and countryside were beautiful.  The city only lost that apeal in the last 100 feet before touchdown, when a McDonald's flashed past and the spell was broken.  Sorry Lisbon, but you are now no different than Detroit, or Cleveland.

After reaching my connecting gate in Lisbon, I found there was no place to smoke.  Had to sneak backwards along my route until I found immigration and entered the country, proper.  Then, I was able to roam free, smoke and find some wonderful espresso.  Met an old crew mate from another ship when I returned to my gate.  We took off about two hours ago and now the entire plane is sleeping.  I was the only one awake (again) on my last lap around the plane.  Now, I'm finally ploughing through some music that I acquired last trip.  Six thousand songs, spanning 58 years of music, sorted by year.  Not sure how to re-sort it into artist like the rest of my collection:(  Shit, my laptop battery is just about dead-time to switch.
 
****

Well, My other battery was also totally dead.  So much for preparedness at crew-x.  I also neglected to bring my universal power adapter and was unable to charge my batts in the hotel in Luanda.  It took 4 hours of sitting in a small, roped-off area of immigration to clear into the country, despite having a work visa.  Then came 2 hours of sitting on the curb outside the airport, followed by two hours of driving around the ruin of Luanda.  It was only four short years ago that the last bloody revolution ended here and it shows in the raw poverty and bullet-scarred buildings and rubble that is most of this city.  Endless miles of red dirt, shanty towns, hovels, tents and caves.   I ended up alone at a hotel that turned out to be first-class, except for the service.  None of the staff spoke English, making even the simple tasks a study in mime and stick drawings.  Speaking loudly and slowly even though I knew they couldn't understand a word.  The usual responses were things like, "ELVIS!",  "COKE!", and "OBAMA!"...

Anyway, I spent a night of mime and drawings of kokepelli drinking a fucking beer in a rather fine hotel and then the morning, trying to track down somebody in this country that knew what I was supposed to do this morning.  I was eventually picked up by a bus, reunited with a couple of my crew and dropped off at Sonil Base on the docks, where I am once again caged like a fucking animal.  One of the navigators had her universal power adapter and I'm now plugged in as I sit in the cage.  Yes, the cage has outlets.  Some guy who earlier took my passport has returned it along with a small box of food.  I was rewarded with expired yogurt, a bruised apple, a dodgey sort of muffin that smells like ass and a warm, dirty can of Coke Zero.  Damn glad I brought a liter of bottled water.  It will have to get me through the day here in the cage.  Hopefully before dark, the supply boat will show up to ferry me out to the ship-a trip of some 24 hours, if I remember correctly.

So, I pass the time caged like an animal, rating the 6,000 songs, as I've decided that I will never be motivated enough to actually create artist and album directories for that many songs.  Hopefully, some time in the next 24, I'll be aboard my ship.

*****

After four hours I was let out of the cage and driven down the quay to a waiting supply ship.  There I met my opposite and got a 2-minute hand over.  Basically, I was told all my shit is running on autopilot and I had better get my ass out to the ship.  He split and I went in search of a berth.  This supply ship has three, small containers sitting on the open back deck.  Inside each are a series of metal bunk beds, just like prison.  At the end of each 8-bunk cell is a very small head (toilet) and shower.  The shower head is broken off in the one the chief gunner and I commandeered.  Slept for 18 hrs straight and feel human after 10 cups of shitty instant coffee from South Yemen.  I'm in the boat's dayroom watching some asinine movie while charging my spare laptop battery and wishing I was anywhere but here.  The Chief Mate just came in to let us know that we'll be on station in another 3 hours and should begin the personnel transfers an hour after that.  It has been four, long fucking days.  Next stop-a bigger ship...."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

at work

Made it to the ship.  I'll post the whole sorry adventure later when I get my laptop hooked up to the satellite.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Delayed!

Best-laid plans and all that rot.  My first flight of the trip was canceled.  Had to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to find out.  This after going to sleep at 3 am...

Trying again at 5:30 tonight.  Back to bed...