Saturday, May 30, 2009

The doors of perception

It was surreal.  A 300 ft hallway with 150 doors in it.  A hallway full of doors.  Only 3 led anywhere.  One at each end went into rooms and one in the middle, led outdoors.  the rest were stacked against the walls of this abnormally long hallway to nowhere, in an old hospital.  My task today was to load these doors into my pickup and take them to a concession stand in a park, stacking them in the backroom.  Each door was custom decorated by someone in the community and generally featured somebody's grandmother.  So I carried doors with old ladies on them all day.  It was slightly more than weird.  A kid from my alma mater and Mr. Budd's oldest boy helped me.  When it was over, this artist lady fed us pizza and pop in the park.  It was just a strange day.

Afterward, we dropped off PW at home and I let LP drive me around in the woods for an hour.  She drives like a maniac, but I suppose if you give a seven yr-old free reign with a two-ton pickup, she's bound to go a little crazy.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The continuing voyages...

Replaced the broken mirror on my pickup, today.  Thank you Mr. Budd-it took me a fair bit to get around to it, but I finally did and I'm glad I waited till it was hot out.  Had to glue the trim piece on.  Also had to pry off the inside door panel and that would've shattered in the cold for sure.

Also managed to haul off all the scrap metal that's accumulated around the yard, including the cast-iron tub, which was one heavy bastard to get into the truck.  Got five bucks for it at the scrap yard.

Tonight my son called and asked if I wanted to watch the new Star Trek movie with him.  I heard it was good, but as a die-hard trekkie I had a few reservations, among them, different actors for the crew and an ingrained fear of continuity loss.  This last bit is unique to Star Trek, in that all good fans know the universe, it's timeline and the fact that any storyline is constrained by what has come before as well as what is yet to come.  In this, I was not disappointed, as JJ Abrams and Co used a classic ST workaround.  The only thing I was a bit dissapointed in was that they left the door open so that a sequal would not be constrained.  However, all in all it was a fast-paced, rollicking good old Star Trek ride and I loved it.  Oh yeah, and the new actors?  Not bad.

Ended the night writing this with a glass of milk and a few, blue oreos.  No milk at sea, you know?


Slept in today.  Glorious.  Heading out for Spring cleaning in the yard after a couple of bacon, lettuce and cheese sandwiches.  Tons of scrap metal to get rid of, but I happen to have a scrap yard right around the corner:)  Bought a new fitting for pumping up tires.  Opened it up today and found it's a piece of shit and of course made in China.  Fucking HATE Wally World!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Home again

Today is Memorial Day.  It was first enacted to honor Union soldiers fallen in the Civil War.  Formerly known as Decoration Day, it was expanded to include our fallen heroes from all wars, after WWI.  Please say a prayer for them and keep those still serving in your thoughts and prayers as well.

Had a wonderful weekend with LL and the Budd clan.  Waterfalls, music, good food, kids and some much-needed peace.  Even saw a familiar face from 14 years ago.  It was a grand time on the North shore of Lake Superior.  Stopped for fast food on the way home which was a bad move.  LP ended up sick, almost puking.  Both PW and I feel the same.  Oddly enough it was the dog who blew chunks, spewing some pretty foul shit in the mud room.  I managed to not do the same while scooping it up. Guess he had a rough weekend while we were away??

Just now I watched Deadliest Catch where a boat sank, loosing 7 guys.  Kind of knocked me down a peg, reminding me of the choices I've made and a former crew member recently lost at sea.

Still, it's good to be home and we had a weekend to remember.  I'm tired and a bit queasy, but quite happy. Take care, people.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Off to the Great North Woods with Mr. Budd and LL and a passel of kids.  Hope ya'll have a great Memorial Day weekend!


Monday, May 18, 2009

An excellent adjustment

Today PW and I got his and hers adjustments at the Chiropractor.  Awesome.  He twisted me up like a pretzel, crushed my lower back and then knuckled the shit out of my fucked up neck.  I feel pretty damn good and PW reports the same.  PW made a killer roast beast for dinner and I've been watching UFC's Ultimate Knockouts for an hour and half.  Good fight at nine, too!

Also starting to make plans and talk about the upcoming weekend with Mr. Budd and LL.   Oooh, sweet vacation!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dinner with the boys

Tried to fix our busted washing machine.  Despite this machine being the second time I've had this model and despite fixing it and it's predecessor several times, I could not figure out what was wrong.  Not to be outsmarted, I whipped out washer number three.  Yep, I had a spare washing machine-same make and model. Best to be prepared...

Had the Budd boys over for dinner.  Burgers on the grill, PW's famous tuna slad, corn on  the cob and baked beans.  Pigged out and then took a couple of muscle relaxers for a bad kink in my neck.  I'm fading fast...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Home again, but where's Spring?

So, I'm home.  It's fucking snowing.  Snowing.  I just left Africa and now it's snowing.  I'm not excited.

It is, however, good to be home.  Snuggling with PW and LP, a blazing wood stove, walking in the woods and coffee with Mr. Budd after dropping LP off at school.  I really missed home.  Next weekend it's off to hang in the woods with Mr. Budd, LL and companies.  Going to have to stock up on several bottles of Baileys, again:)

Friday, May 15, 2009


Sorry folks.  I made it home two days ago, but I've been a bit under the weather since getting home.  I wrote this along the way:

I've made it to Amsterdam and found a comfortable seat in the Internet lounge, but not logged in-too damned expensive here.

Crew-x was a bit different this time right from the beginning.  We used the jet-powered rescue craft to transfer people from my ship to a waiting supply boat.  It's rigged with container accomadations on the back deck and they have some small comforts for us to while away the hours with; movies, wii and a small billiards table made out of plywood-even the balls are plywood disks and the sticks are old mop handles.  What a glamorous life I lead.  Sleeping in a steel box and playing plywood pool:)

The 24-hr trip into Luanda, Angola was largely uneventful.  I slept a fair bit, though fitfully with 8 other guys tromping in and out, slamming doors, climbing to the top bunks, snoring and breaking wind as us sailors do.  Mostly I read a couple books and paced the back deck, or sat around telling stories in the mess while drinking too much instant coffee.

Arriving in port, in Luanda, they only kept us in the cage for a couple of hours.  It was still long with no tire swing, wheel to run on, nor a water bottle hanging down from the side.

Leaving the cage, we drove through and around Luanda.  I wish I could convey the wreck and ruin I see every time I am there.  It is astounding and horrifying at the same time.  This time, we drove South along the harbor, then around to the East behind the embassy hill.  I saw much of this same scenery on the way in nearly six weeks ago, but it was still fascinating.  Instead of heading straight East up the bluffs toward the airport, we skirted the South end of town to a private guest house, supposedly just a few minutes drive from the airport.

This place was walled off with armed guards and boasted it's own generator, to avoid the frequent and long brownouts that plague the rest of the city.  It was very clean, spartan and quiet.  One of the crew this time was living in Luanda and had a car.  He took a few people down the road to grab a couple hundred bucks worth of beer, olives and something that looked like chips, called "Salty Cracks".  Lots of drunken jokes followed this revelation.  Anyway, about 10 of us sat in the courtyard next to the meat freezer, where the manager/camp counselor let us store the beer and managed to get pretty damn drunk over about 4 hours.  Had a grand time except for the Chief Gunner stealing my shoes, shirt and glasses left on the table when I split to shower.  Just before leaving we were given great tubs of soft rolls, salami and bananas for a quick meal.

While lazily boarding the bus for the airport, I got a call from the shore agent, screaming in a panic that the traffic was bad and we were going to miss our flight out.  Figured him for a git, but rousted the others (running up and down the hallways yelling for the other guys to get a fucking move on, much to the dismay of the manager and other guests).  In less than 10 minutes on the road, we realized he was right.  The seven-minute ride took us 2 agonizing hours, of stop and go, potholes, fender-benders and stalled cars.  It was a nightmare.  Especially drunk.  imagine being drunk on bus where the driver SLAMS on the breaks every 10-30 seconds, for two hours.  I felt like a pool ball and thought for sure I was going to piss myself the last half-hour.

We made the airport and I was the last one on the A-300 bound for Frankfurt.  We barely made it and Immigration was a PAIN IN THE ASS this time.  The only bright spots were running into some guys from one of my old ops, back in the GoM and then managing to slip around the line for the guy with rubber gloves who wants to see if you're keistering any Angolan currency.  I DO NOT LIKE THIS GUY.  Big fingers and a bad attitude...

Flight to Frankfurt sucked.  Food sucked.  No sleep, bad fucking hangover.

We also landed late and I missed my connection to Amsterdam.  Lufthansa re-booked me on a later flight and I re-booked my KLM flights back to the states once I got here to Amsterdam.

So, I bolted into town to take in a little of the local flavor and then caught the express train back here to the airport.  I've got just enough time to close this out, catch a smoke and get to the other terminal and my gate.  Unfortunately, I won't get in till midnight tonight and I've already been up more than 24.  Good times.

Well, I'm just about to land in Minnie.  As usual, Northwest's food and service both leave something to be desired.  US carriers are cheap-ass mother fuckers when compared to the rest of the world-at least in food and service.

I've got 5 hours in Minnie and not a clue as to what I'm going to do.  Maybe the Mall of America?

Minnie was boring, I stayed in the airport, had a meal, read a book and walked a lot.   My flight was delayed an hour d/t mechanical problems and finally, long after midnight, Mr. Bud kindly picked me up and drove me home to PW and LP.  

I've been sick on and off for two days, I think, due to the malaria medicine I have to take, but I refuse to let it take me out.  Looking forward to the weekend!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bound for home

I'm outta here in less than an hour.  24 hours back to Luanda, then another 24 to get back across the pond and back home.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Flooding onboard-SAVE MY LAPTOP!

One of the things I never expected to see while sitting at my computer here on the ship was a wave.  You see, I cannot see outside from where I sit.  However, tonight I saw a wave roll past my workstation.  We flooded.  Mind you, we're sitting here with millions of dollars in computer equipment and a wave of water rolled into the room.  For a moment, nobody even moved we were so stunned.  I've ridden out many a hurricane and never once saw water come into the instrument room, but today, in a small rain squall and marginal seas, we took on a shitload of water.  Soooo, we've spent the last 3 hours mopping, wet-vaccing, unplugging pipes, drying off wires and cables, boxes of equipment, etc.  I've said before that if you're out here long enough, nothing really surprises you anymore.  I guess I was wrong.

Robert Plant is not a mixer and Alison Krauss a bowl

Less than 24 to go.  I hope.  No word on my oppo and whether or not he has been deported, etc.

Been a shit trip and I am ready to get the hell outta Dodge.

The only high point was yesterday coming across some new music.  Grabbed a few tidbits like Deep Purple live on the King Biscuit Flour Hour (remember THAT shit?), but I also snagged a real gem that I've been looking for and this ought to make Mr Bud happy- ROBERT PLANT/ALISON KRAUSS-RAISING SAND.  Ooooh, man is it good.  Listening to it right now.  All I need is something to convert it from MA4 (Fucking Itunes) to MP3 so I can add it to my Windows Media Player and not have to use VLC.  VLC is great for movies and while it's better than Apple Quicktime, it's sound quality leaves something to be desired.

Anyway, for anyone living in a cave who hasn't heard this album, or seen the video-you gotta get you some.

Speaking of music, I've discovered my musical taste is either very ecclectic, or very poor.  Yesterday I head down to the mess and grab a bite to eat.  Sitting at a table, I can hear music playing in the galley-the galley staff usually has something cranked up.  I can't hear it well, but the drums are great.  Rockin beat and I spend 10 minutes tapping away to the drums while I chow down.  Finally, I get up and make my way to the galley to dump my plate.  There is no music- only the giant, commercial mixer running and banging away on a metal bowl...

Thursday, May 7, 2009


While I'm having a crap day I thought I'd relate some things posted on my ship's notice board:

1.  Notice: Due to how difficult it is to get off this ship, if you are taking medication, bring enough to last TWO trips.  (hoo boy, does that suck)

2. News article from Angola: Angolan children being eaten by crocodiles...


3. News Article from Australia: Eaten Alive!  Mice chew war vet's head. (I really hope you stopped...)

Normally, it's a pretty benign notice board, but now it really catches your eye as you walk by on the way to the mess.  I prefer the old, boring notice board...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In which I don another hat

One of the guys on here is getting off today to attend a course (unlike me who had to stay on two weeks ago!!!!) and I have taken over his job, in addition to mine.  In some things, he answers to me and in others, I answer to him.  I am now thoroughly confused and fighting with myself over all things.  There is the hope that his regular relief will show in two days.  Otherwise I may end up murdering myself over his job, or mine-I'm not quite sure, yet.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Blowing dead monkeys


Even after an unexpected, extra two weeks and while facing a possible several MORE weeks out here, I just found out that even if I get off on time, I won't get off on time, but at least a day late, maybe two.  Can you even follow that?   I can't.

Sometimes this business is an almighty pain in the fucking ass. 


West Africa blows dead monkeys.

Small town

You know you live in a small town when your local paper's headline is that some guy remodeled his kitchen.

That's not my hometown, but it's close enough to give me a chuckle.  My town is too small to have a paper.  In fact, it's too small to be a town and is actually just a village, so maybe I shouldn't be laughing at them...

Sunday, May 3, 2009


The rumor mill will grind whatever grist required and as we approach our final days of the trip, it would seem we are that grist.  Word has it that a competitor's ship just attempted a crew-x and half the oncoming crew was deported for a particular situation that OUR oncoming crew also faces.  Trouble on the horizon...

That was the icing on today's cake.  The cake itself was working 9 rather shitty hours before PW, LP and MP called to remind me it was my birthday.  How does one forget things like one's own birthday?

I need to get out of here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Stowaway! (part 2)

Life goes on, much as it always does out here.  A phone call told me PW, LP and MP have gone off on vacation for the weekend.  No word on what happened to The Pirate Dog, henceforth known as PD.  We continue to watch the swine flu soap opera from afar and are preparing for our oncoming crew by setting out hand sanitizing lotion, so they don't infect us when they arrive.

Today, we had a second stowaway drill.  We were given a second chance to find the little bastard who remained hidden for an hour an half, until we were forced to give up and beg him to come out over the ship's intercom.  This time, we nailed him in eleven minutes.  He was found hiding inside a box in our dry stores.  Didn't stop me from climbing all over the ship, sweating my ass off in the African heat, however.

We officially talked about crew-x.  So far, no word that our opposites are going to make it, or if they will sit home an extra two weeks as we did last month...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bigger, faster, better

I want one of these for work!!!!

Currently, I utilize (28) dual-core 1.3 GhZ 466  parallel nodes that feed the binary bits and bobs to about 20TB of raid disk

This prick boasts 181,504 AMD Opteron cores in 26,604 nodes and hits a top end of 4 teraflops, or 54 trillion mathematical calculations per second, placing the Oak Ridge (TN) Cray XT among the most powerful open scientific systems in the world.  It's got over 300 Terabytes memory and 10,750 Terabytes disk space. 

It even runs under SuSE Linux and has a cool mural on the blade cabinets...

Holy crap, I am in love.