Sunday, July 20, 2014

a smell grows in Brooklyn

We've been lucky enough to have a short break here at HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/fitness center. To put the cherry on top of that, we are lying to at a lay berth in Brooklyn that has shore access, which means that little things like my daily walk aren't limited to a dizzying and soul-grating series of hours spent walking in circles to get my daily walk on. Instead I get to go ashore. Which I did. Morning and evening, I did a 5-mile circuit through Red Hook, Park Slope and Cobble Hill, past Project high-rises and $3 million brownstones in the same 2 hour walk. I managed to get 3 of these walks in in a little over 24 hours. Later this afternoon it's back to cargo ops, which is fine for me, as I'm bloody tired between the walks, being on a pretty strong calorie deficit, and the upper-body exercises which are shamefully kicking my ass roundly.  By next weekend I have high hopes for hitting the weight I had in my sophomore year in college.

The one observation I can share about Brooklyn is that regardless of whether I was passing through the 'hood or upper-upper class Brooklyn, the whole borough as I experienced it smelled the same. In the morning it smelled like hot garbage, that cloying, not-quite gag-inducing smell that makes you want to frown. In the evening it smelled of dog piss and shit, as the awful people here seem inclined to keep large dogs that belong on a fucking farm or in a rural area in apartments slightly larger than my bathroom at home.

 Seriously, as the sun goes down, the ammoniac smell of piss was pretty pervasive. I saw a lot of Great Danes, Bernese Mountain Dogs, grayhounds and Mastiffs.  Poor fucking dogs, living like that in an urban area. As a kid, we had a husky that would gnaw on the kitchen table if it stayed inside for more than 90 minutes.

        Still, in a life full of unpleasant smells (bunker fuel comes to mind, which is what we carry), trading the sulfur stink of heavy fuel for the smell of sad 120-lb dogs is a lateral move to me. At least I got to do some people watching.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Best 2 weeks ever. Well, at least it was the best 2 weeks' vacation in my adulthood.

 My honey-do list was impressive. Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife decorated, I paid and did the labor. Bought plants for the lanai, slept late once or twice, drank a bottle of expensive scotch (my wife tried scotch for the first time but based on the quiet, subdued wife that spent the next morning on the couch, that may have been a one-time experience).

 I sold my beloved truck, too. My new one. Fact is, I don't need 4-wheel drive and a big-ass hemi in south FL. And also the fact that the space in my 2-car garage here is exactly 3/4 of an inch longer than my truck may have tipped the scale.

 So now I'm in the mommobile, too, and no longer will hippies cry tears of impotent sadness when I chirp the tires taking corners in the 3-tons-o'-fun.

 Eh, I might be OK with being in a 1-car family. I'm not home all the time, anyhow. If not, there's always plenty of sports cars for sale local to my house. Seriously, within 5 miles of my house there's dealers for Porche, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Bentley and Aston Martin. I love where I live.

 Think they'll do a layaway plan?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

UPDATE! Now with 20% less!

You know, I've lost about 20% of my body weight as measured on Jan 1 of this year, and I'm still kinda fat. That's a bummer. Still, I'm moving in the right direction. Got another 50lbs and I'll be at my idealized weight. Anything more than 30 and I'm going to be rolling down the aisles singing alleluia.

   So, yeah, I'm home. Money's hemorrhaging from both ends as we decorate, buy plants (and beer. Holy shit it's hot. I have absolutely no desire for whisky) and get used to it raining for 30 seconds every 45 minutes or so. Seriously, it's rainy as balls.


Monday, June 30, 2014

...where the good Lord split 'ya.

Well, I'll hopefully be out of here in about 6 hours, headed for ma's house.

 I hope like hell that the 1,500 miles I'll be driving in the next few days go well. I wasn't able to sleep in my last off-watch rest period, so I'm looking at a couple of days of driving on almost no sleep. Screw it, I'm still happy as hell to be on my way!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

channel fever!

This is an odd feeling, being homesick for a place that wasn't yet home when I came in to work last time.

 Less than a week to go in this tour. I've got something like 22 days on board, and 6 to go.

        Now, with a new home 1,500 miles from friends and family, I've got to get back to be with my wife and kid. They need me home more than ever. No social safety net now.

 What happened? Just 6 months ago I was working 10 weeks on/1 off, or 5 weeks on/ 1 off. Now I'm struggling to do my standard 4 weeks on/2 off, and it feels nice, in a way, to be dying to race home.

...and a race it is, this time. You see, I left my beloved giant truck at my mom's house in Boston, and when I get off here, in NY, I have to take the train to mom's, catch a nap, and drive that beast singlehanded down to south Florida.

 And that's another thing... my truck? Really out of place in Heaven's Waiting Room. I don't need 4 wheel drive anymore, and I don't need to carry fishing gear beyond a rod and reel... so the truck is not going to be staying.

 Now, fact is that we've got the Mommobile down there, a nice Honda crossover, which can carry some stuff, and cart our collective asses between A and B in comfort and modest style. BUT, this is what I want to replace the truck with:

...a little ostentatious for me, but then again, it's not really for me. I'm still only home part-time. Without the need to drive 30 minutes to go see my mom and old friends, do I really need that?

 My wife, who has recently discovered within herself the voice of reason, says we don't need a 2nd car. I'm pretty sure this is what she has in mind for me.

Pictured: not the same, honey. Not the same at all. :(
Still, next week it looks like I'm driving solo from Boston to South FL, right before July 4, so traffic should be delicious the entire way down the Eastern seaboard. I'm pretty sure that by the end of that, I'll hate driving enough to stomach giving away my truck.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Brazil and the 2014 'World Cups" (NSFW)

My wife and kid had to rush out to buy their Team Brasil soccer shirts before we moved, in anticipation of the cup games.

 But, sadly, not every lovely Brazilian lady can afford a team jersey, and of those that can, many find them awful hot in the Brazilian sun. Let's look at how they work around that. You know, for informational purposes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

revisiting the Cuban Missile Crisis

I spent Christmas last year working out of one of the smaller Caribbean islands, St. Eustacius, bunkering ships. One of the most interesting times I've had in my maritime career. We were based in a sort-of harbor at the foot of a blown-out volcano. You might have seen the pictures...

Me on the right. The guy in the middle was the strongest human being I've ever met. A former outlaw biker, to boot. 

  This included weekly visits to St. Maarten, an overnight ride from our usual haunts, to fuel cruise ships during their visits. St. Maarten was not our base of operations, but it is where we would fly in and out.

 As I've documented previously when flying in and out, the closest bar to our hotel was also a whorehouse, and I made friends with the mama-san, the manager, who fed me a steady diet of scotch and soup to maintain my strength and mood during my visits. Seriously, I didn't get laid in a whorehouse. Being married and all, but that didn't stop me from looking. My wife trusts me for a reason, but the stories made her laugh. She really is pretty cool. I remember very vividly eating turtle soup with about 30 whores at 6am on my last morning before flying home. No pictures, obviously. Being a mariner has its' privileges, and seriously, who gets to do that?

I had to save all the scraps of paper with the girls' phone numbers on there to show my wife. She's absolutely not the jealous type, and we both had a giggle at the 20-something slips of paper that I pulled out.

       Well, while I was there, I was also polishing up a barge captain, relatively new to the company. Didn't take much. This guy, a former Cuban boat person, had worked in the area for several years before coming to my company. He already knew all the terminal staff when we showed up. I called him the Cuban Missile for his amazing ability to cause women to gravitate to him, something I saw whenever we were in public. The Cuban Missile has an amazing gift with women, whores or not. They just orbit the guy. Made my stay in the brothel's bar a lot of fun. The girls just couldn't keep away from the guy, and although he didn't buy in, that didn't stop them from fishing for work.

    The Cuban Missile and I, on our last night in the Caribbean, went on an epic pub crawl that I will sort of remember until my dying day. The guy is one of the most entertaining people I have ever met.

... and last night, after not seeing him for a year and a half, a tug drops him off on my deck. We were rafted up against another barge, and he came aboard to cover for a missing man... and so, instead of sleeping, I spent 3 hours catching up with my friend. And today? I'm a little groggy, but it was great to catch up with a friend... and, yes, live vicariously, a little, on his own adventures, which would be a story in itself.