Friday, June 24, 2016

I'm running out of proctology analogies

So last week I had a physical exam, and it was not all it could be. Stuff got cradled, stuff got fingered. More than enough said.

This week I had the 5 year radar renewal course, and it was like being bent over the doctor's table all over again.

 At least today no one was wearing a clown suit.

 Just checking, seeing if you were paying attention.

 No, really, I had to do a radar renewal class- a 1 day refresher and evaluation that most licensed mariners have to go through.

 I'll tell you, I was mildly concerned- I did my original radar and ARPA at MITAGS, in Maryland, and they were awesome. I also did my first two renewals there, at 5 and 10 years after the original Hideously expensive, as far as such things go, but it was free for me back when I was in MMP, the maritime union that runs the facility.

 Last time, now that I'm paying for it myself, I did the course at Northeast Maritime, and found it to be overkill- rather than working on radar plots, I was trying to take radar bearings on land and sea and navigating a ship on a simulator through the strait of Gibraltar.

   Having been used to Mitags, where the focus is on rapid and highly accurate plotting (you get about a degree and a half between answers, so plots need to be accurate and mostly done on paper. Northeast Maritime had me doing the same, along with simulator exercises that felt like punishment and day 2 of the Electronic Navigation module in the STCW classes with a radar plot chaser. Expensive, too, but it used to be commuting distance to my house outside Boston.

    This morning I did the radar renewal class at Maritime Professional Training in Fort Lauderdale, driving distance from my house in S. Florida.
     It was very different from the other two places- challenging, certainly, but in a different way. Where MITAGS focuses on mathematical precision and execution, and NE Maritime focuses on sensory overload, MPT's class focused on rapid assessment, planning and second-order effects, which was something I hadn't had to do in a dog's age- figuring out bearings, T/CPA's, relative speed changes after a planned turn- all stuff I learned almost 20 years ago, and haven't used since ARPA was a thing, but even so, it was cool stuff, and challenging without being overwhelming- where I made mistakes, it was always easy to see what caused it-
 The price was right, the instructor was cool. I liked MPT, and I'm sure I'll return there.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


So I had my medical review for my 4th coast guard license renewal.

 I've got to congratulate the US Coast Guard on making the medical review process even worse than before. Between education requirements and medical review, we're now beholden to the powers that be in a fashion that leaves big-government enthusiasts hot and sweaty and aroused. Seriously, airline pilots go through less shit than we do, and they fly airplanes full of people all day every day. I'm pretty sure that some of the guys I've worked with over the years are actually mentally retarded, and I'm not exaggerating or using hyperbole for once.
    Well, we might have the odd mongoloid among us, but they're the best trained 'tards since Bedlam Asylum realized that they could charge admission to see the patients. Right?

 One time I watched a vetter ask one of these persons who the 'designated person' was.
 Awesome. Seriously awesome. 2 bucks says a vetter asks a cornered window licker who the company security officer is, he can answer. Anyone else asks, or if anything acually happens, the answer is 'ghostbusters.'

 I'm getting off point here.
    I had my medical review.
   The medical review is pretty standard. Make sure I am in overall good health, haven't spontaneously developed color-blindness, can see and hear and lift stuff.

But this happened:
Doc: "Everything looks OK, but your blood pressure is higher than we'd like to see."
Me: "Next time, have someone take my blood pressure BEFORE you roll my marbles around in your hand like Humphrey Bogart in 'The Caine Mutiny."

Friday, June 17, 2016

I hate message fiction

My wife conned me into seeing the movie “Me Before You” the other night.
Caution: spoilers ahead.

I highly recommend this movie if you’re interested in sticking your head in the oven when you get out of the theatre.

   Seriously, it was a nice movie, a love story, right up until the last 7 minutes or so, when it becomes serious message fiction- I call it “Right-to-Die porn.”
    Well, that’s what it was. It was packaged tolerably well, and being a love story with a euthanasia dessert, it presented fairly well the emotional trauma that would accompany someone offing themselves. By packaging it well and giving a nod to the heartache such things cause, you then get pimp-slapped but good, over and over with the message of the film.

 So, if you’re OK with the whole assisted suicide and choosing death thing, you might find it a touching love story.

 If you’ve got any moral qualms about suicide, or worse, practice any sort of Christian faith or come from a strong faith tradition, the ending is going to poison the shit out of the story for you.

 I found it abhorrent, in the truest sense of that word, and I’m not going to get on a soapbox about assisted suicide, except to say that in our broken-hearted world, with our modern culture of death,  I often feel pity towards those who lose their faith or embrace no religion, because it leads to false choices like that presented in the film, where the question becomes one of choosing life or death, rather than choosing to seek meaning from tragedy or embrace meaninglessness and forego love, fellowship and joy.

     Knowing my wife also loved the movie right up to the end, and unsure of how to broach the subject initially, we walked out of the theatre, saddened by the experience. “Honey, dat mang was a terrible coward” was all Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife said, and then the gates were opened, and we discussed how a sweet, lovely film turned into a piece of message fiction with all the subtlety of a kick to the balls. 

         Well, those with a less rigid moral compass may be able to winnow out some pleasure from the movie, but like finding a fly in a bowl of soup, it spoiled the whole thing for me. Not even that hot chick from Game of Thrones could make me like the movie, and she was cute as a button the whole time. 
Seriously, fuck that film. I have enough shit in my life. I can take a moral disagreement with a movie and still like it, usually, but present a point awkwardly and unsubtly, and you lost me forever. 

about right

Everyone who thinks it's a good idea to take away guns and rifles from law-abiding Americans, please raise your hand.

 Now lower it 45 degrees.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


Blogging will be light. I'm home and enjoying myself.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Say goodbye to pants

Welp, tomorrow I fly home. It was a pretty mellow 4 weeks aboard.
 I got up this morning and threw some laundry in the machine, which sits in the head outside the galley.
     Turns out, apparently our gray water line got a clog at some point, because 45 minutes later I opened the door to the head, and there was 2 inches of water on the deck. The laundry water ran back up through the shower drain and flooded the entire head.
    So, that sucked, and what also sucked was that the wet-dry vac chose this exact moment to shit the bed, so I got to wade in and use a series of mops and old towels to suck up the 15 gallons or so that got on deck. Once that was done, I got to play plumber with a borrowed snake.

 Anyhow, it all happened, and while it wasn't an ideal last day, it wasn't bad. Currently it looks like we've got a unicorn here- I may be able to crew change at our HQ dock. Best I not dwell on it, otherwise it won't happen.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Ramadan Bombathon 2016, week one

Prayers for those victims of the filthy moors. To the victims I pray that merciful God welcome them as his own, and comfort those left behind. For the Muslims who support them or just say nothing, may they face the righteous wrath of the father above, in this life and the next.