All I remember is that it was butt-ass cold. Cape Wrath, February. Pacific ocean my ass. 3 months of this shit.
An antique, and far, far superior to any compass made today. I made a friend out of the captain of the ship that I was on when I identified the Spider, the metal frame that holds the magnifying glass. Off Pascagoula. Small black-tip shark. A man eater, who was, in fact, eaten raw. delicious. Steam turbines. about 14,000hp.
IT'S A CONTACT SPORT
All the fumes. I could hear in color, see in infrared, and also kill with my mind.
When my orders include fueling a cruise ship, the entry always comes up in a big glaring red bar on the xml spreadsheet. I wonder why cruise ships get a big red dingus, and others get bupkis?
The ship we're bunkering tomorrow is one of our regular customers. We bunker her a half-dozen times a year. One of the chief engineers there doesn't like me. Luckily, I won't be doing the discharge tomorrow morning. I'll (hopefully) be asleep.
The engineer in question is an Italian fella with decent English, and I made a terrible mistake one time when he was having a temper tantrum.
Cruise ships have bunkering ports- large watertight hatches in the side of the hull that swing back to allow the crew to muscle fuel hoses to the manifold connections inside the room. The ship in question has a bunker room that is particularly low in the ship- lower than my barges' deck, anyhow. As a professional courtesy for cruise ships, before I swing the heavy fuel oil hose to the guy, I heave a 15' section of hose in the air with my crane, and open the end of the hose over a tank hatch, to drain down any residual oil in the hose.
So, the second time I ever bunkered this ship, I knew that I couldn't heave enough hose in the air to drain down everything in the line. The 15' I could do wouldn't be enough. Gravity will cause a siphon effect, putting more residue in the 85' of hose on deck out to the end of the hose. So, being a polite person in general, I told the QMED's (engineer's assistants) to make sure they had plenty of containment, as I couldn't drain everything, and there would be about 40 liters (10 gallons) of oil coming out of the hose when they opened it. The QMED's told the engineer, who said something to me in Italian. I'm sure I looked like a dog cocking its' head at the sound of a strange noise. I repeated my warning about needing containment when the men put a 5-gallon bucket under the hose. Well, the bucket wasn't enough, obviously. The men got their containment trough good and oily. The engineer let loose a torrent of Italian at me, hands waving the whole while, and then I heard the one Italian phrase that I do know. "F your mother." Dumbass that I am, I went nuclear. What I wanted to say was "no need to be crude, Chief, we're all on the same side here." What came out was "No need for that Chief. Your mother's enough for me." Well, he understood. He turned the color of an eggplant but he shut up. I had a nice big wheel wrench in my hand- a 3-foot long 20-lb blunt object. I wasn't ready to do murder, but I was ready to pack up shop and make the guy bend over and kiss my ass before we fueled his ship.
I had to be the bigger man. Once we calmed down, and the guys got the hose hooked up and the oil mopped up, I didn't mention anything. At the end of the job, the chief told me that the next time he got oil in his containment trough, he'd give me a Letter Of Protest (a letter to be avoided, used to limit liability or to notify that someone's going to be fighting over a money issue). Rather than call BS on the guy, I just said. "Give me one now, Chief. No problem." Anyhow, I never did get that letter. And I haven't the 3 other times I've worked with that engineer since.
THIS is a seriously non-maritime post. Be warned. You might be offended or fall asleep.
Not everyone from Massachusetts is a member of the communist party. Just most of them, I guess. Fellow non-radical Jay G, another unashamedly to-the-right-of-Marx type person like me, is another MA resident who doesn't drink the local kool-aid.
Massachusetts is an unofficial safe haven for illegals. I know this firsthand, because I am related by marriage to a passel of illegals here in Massachusetts, and we talk about it. There's a pecking order involved here. My brother-in-law and his family are South American. They believe in staying under the radar. While it seems like nitpicking to us, there is an important difference in the illegal community between people who maintain a valid visitor's visa (but overstay), and border-jumpers. The difference isn't germane to most citizens, but my brother-in-law is quick to point out that he came here with permission, after being given a background check, the US and his home country know how to find him if they wanted to, and that should he be given a deportation order, he would be allowed time to pack up his life and leave without being jailed in the process. My brother-in-law frowns at border jumpers, who come here without being subject to any checks or controlling documents. He always shakes his head and says "creeminals. Most." The Massachusetts illegal population is very diverse. Most of us, myself included, immediately assume that most illegals are Mexican, and for the most part, it's a safe assumption. Many non-hispanic illegals display a lot of angst and anger towards Mexico these days, as the border-jumpers are viewed as having poisoned the well. As I said, though, while all this sounds like sophistry, I see a parallel here- like most MA residents, I'm of Irish ancestry. I consider myself an Irish-American, although I'm not. I can maybe recite a dozen Gaelic phrases. Consider, however, the experience, clannishness, and culture gap between a MA resident of Irish and Italian ancestry. Only in the past generation has it become a modest difference. So I'm not so quick to dismiss my brother-in-law's dichotomy of illegals and other illegals. Health care costs are only the most public of the costs incurred to MA residents for accommodating illegals. There are plenty of legal and other fiscal bills come due, too. Like a modern tragedy of the commons, most illegals are here to make money, period. Some do so in inoffensive ways, and some do not, but all act in self-interest, just like most of us who have found loopholes to reduce our tax burden. But where does that leave the community? Do some illegals better us for their presence? I certainly have a better life for having met one black-haired brown girl in particular. My brother-in-law, his wife, and their kids have been a tremendous blessing, especially in this past month, as they've worked so hard to comfort and care for my mother after we lost my dad. Being a not-overly emotional man, I've shamed myself twice by choking up while watching my new brother and sister form a circle around my mom when she needed a kind word. So, if I can be expected to act in my self-interest, I could reasonably be expected to give my in-laws such protection as I can offer.
On the day when my wife and I drove into Boston to have our 'Immigration interview' (when a federal employee chats with a couple to assess whether or not they're legitimately involved with each other), my wife and I were both very, very nervous. I will never forget my wife's face, after the interview (which was fun, actually) when the interviewer congratulated us on our marriage and said (ironically) "Welcome to the United States of America" to my wife, who had been here for seven years. When I laughed out loud at this, the man told me that no, I was wrong to laugh- there was a new country waiting outside the front doors. On the drive back home, we ducked into the HOV lane, under the eyes of a state trooper who looked to make sure that there was two of us in the car ('cus God forbid we drive alone in the sacred extra lane on the Southeast expressway). Out of the corner of my eye I watched my wife slump down slightly and duck her head as we approached the Statie and his flashing blue lights... then, with a jerk, she sat upright again and stared intently at the guy's face as we passed. Once we were past the guy, she looked at me, I looked at her, and she smiled and then burst into tears. The ability for a person to look a police officer in the eyes isn't to be taken lightly. For an illegal here, it's a challenge. In her home country, it was an invitation to be robbed and raped. My wife has a great affection for American police officers because they very often do actually protect the public, but she also was scared of them for what they represent. The ability to stand toe-to-toe with an American official as equals was overwhelming for her. I can't imagine what it must be like to live in fear of flashing blue lights.
***************************************************** Massachusetts had the first mandatory health insurance requirement in the US. The MA subsidized insurance program, MassHealth, is mostly used by illegals, who are not exempt from the program. The Masshealth program was a stopgap measure used to prevent MA hospitals from going out of business by shifting free health care costs from the hospitals to the state of MA. The most recent cost estimate shows that health care for illegals ran over 35 million last year. I suppose that this made sense, as Boston has the highest concentration of hospitals in the world, and the hospital political machine is significant in the Hub. But look at us now that the costs are shared between the state and the hospitals. Imagine the costs involved when you combine what the hospitals lose from illegals who don't belong to MassHealth AND what the state pays.
The one thing that isn't addressed in the local fishwraps is the issue of finding solutions. Mostly because there aren't any solutions, and the idea of cost-containment measures is unpalatable to the proles, because at that point, there's no hiding that we're allocating money for health care for illegals. I don't think it's begging the question to ask what our options are. We can refuse health care to illegals... well, actually, we can't. Federal law, we have have to provide lifesaving medical care. Also, medical ethics are involved, too. Can't refuse care to the needy. Free clinics aren't as popular as they once were. Too bad, really. It would be a nice way to cut costs, but imagine the political fallout involved if one was to earmark money towards caring for people regardless of citizenry. I've always been of the opinion that simply enforcing existing laws would be a nice deterrent to illegal immigration. The fact remains that there's no downside to being an illegal when one comes from a dangerous, nasty place, which is where most illegals come from. We can't stop illegal immigration by reducing the palatability of being an illegal, short of committing the same atrocities that the illegals left behind. We can do so by hitting the citizens who employ illegals right in their wallet, simply put. To me, that seems to be the most humane and ethical response.
...which brings me to my closing point- namely, the largely ignored 800-lb elephant in the corner; the moral and ethical dilemma we face in this issue- forming a plan that both protects the citizenry and concurrently satisfies the moral obligation to care for those in need. Ignoring or marginalizing the need to consider the ethical impact of any decisionmaking is both disingenuous and morally shameful- to deny that there is an emotional cost involved in making any decisions on this issue is tantamount to a shameful lie. Imagine the political will involved in being forced to acknowledge that we don't have the moral justification to simply tell every illegal to go home, when doing so jeopardizes the well being of the most vulnerable among them. To do so would to be both unethical and a terrible betrayal of the principles that must be held sacred by every American in order to maintain our own sense of morality. As a (mostly) Christian nation, many of us have an additional layer of moral responsibility that must be addressed, too. As a conservative, I have to believe that there is a middle road that can be taken to find the best solutions under trying circumstances, but to start down a middle path requires mass acknowledgment that a compromisory response will not make anyone happy, even if it's the right thing to do. Finding lawmakers on both sides of the issue who will agree to form the least terrible of terrible responses will require partisanship that hasn't been extant since the last world war.
As a nation, we already try to stick our heads in the sand when it comes to illegal immigration- it is imperative that in trying to pull our heads out of the sand that we not stick them up our own asses for the lack of a firm answer as to where they should reside under normal circumstances.
Wow, did it get quiet this weekend. Blind idiots can breathe a sigh of relief at the news from the white house that the economy is already recovering, but as near as I can see, the Ministry of Truth is blowing some serious smoke up our collective asses, practically speaking.
One thing I do remember in vivid detail from my aborted career as a scientist is that statistics do not prove anything; they merely assist in helping you prove your point. And I see this, big time, in the glorious people's Port of Philadelphia, where there's no fucking ships to refuel at this time.
So, in our now-recovering economy, where we're being treated to proofs like the massive spike in the price of gasoline at the pump (proof that investors are going back to their old ways), I'm still not seeing bulk commodities moving at anything approaching the numbers seen this time last year, and even the liner services, running containers? The ships are riding a meter higher in the water for the Panamax vessels- leading me to think that there's either a lot more interest in bulk packing peanut sales, or there is some light shipping going on.
One thing that interests me, although not enough to really look into it in detail, is how the seasonal spike in pre-holiday shipping is evolving. I say evolving, and not changing because we're now waist deep in companies that practice just-in-time logistics, but we're also in a time when liner services are practicing Slow Steaming to save on fuel. I wonder how this will affect holiday supplies of goods? Will we see a devolution in the Box Box logistical chain, (signified, I'd assume, by warehousing rental spikes adjacent to intermodal hubs), or will the chain stretch enough to accommodate an wider gap in the supply web between production and retailer?
One thing that we can't rely on, however, is the for-demonstration-only predictions of the retailer associations regarding holiday sales. I've long been convinced that this is merely a flea circus of a show for the consumers, enabled by creative tax reporting coupld with Ponzi-inspired economic forecasting. So, I'll continue observing. My little system for monitoring the business activities along the Delaware river will have to evolve too, as the Panama Canal expansion progresses and the Delaware dredging project shows results, too. In the meanwhile, I'm a little worried. Business is slow.
What kind of sick joke is it, when the opening track to one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time is used to advertise Honda minivans.
I'm pretty sure that the guys from Judas Priest aren't driving mom-mobiles. I wonder if Rob Halford will start driving a minivan on stage at the start and and of the show, rather than the boring old Harley of the past 30 years.
Last night I bunkered up a foreign-flagged ship that was owned by an American company. Nothing too exciting there, I guess. Lots of American companies own foreign flagged ships. This company, however, used to own an asphalt carrier that was engaged in the Jones Act trade. While the ship itself was a famous disaster, being a retrofit made to operate in a highly specialized carrier trade, she was crewed and built by Americans... and she went to scrap a few years ago after reaching her OPA90 phase-out date. The ship I fueled yesterday was still trading actively.
After figuring out that I was looking at a ship managed by the same entity that used to employ some of my former shipmates (the scrapped ship was once part of my union, when I belonged to a union), I started taking a good look at the ship itself. The ship was showing wear, but was built like a tank. The layout was simple, and it certainly looked a lot more efficient than did her American-built counterpart. I've had to wonder since then why it is that we can't have ships built to something approaching the international standard. We pay 3-4 times as much for an American-built ship, and it takes about 9 months longer to build. From what I can discern, we do tend to overbuild, which I am happy to believe, if it's true, but there has to be a trade-off.
From what I can see down the road from here, where the Aker Philadelphia tankers are being built right now, the ships look kind of flimsy. These are Korean-designed kits, and I've only seen product carriers built this lightly here in the US. I've heard stories of Mearsk-owned tankers coming back from sea trials with crumpled bows (actually I've seen photos), and from what I see from these Aker ships, I've got to say that I can see how that could happen, but while I appreciate that labor costs are much more steep here in the US, I can't help but wonder if it's time to take a page from the airline industry and open up the US trades to foreign-built ships.
And now, because you've eaten all your vegetables, I give you more photos from Brazil.
Also, for some strange reason, I suddenly want to take up roller skating. Strange. Read on.
Talk to a few Brazilians, and you'll realize that the national pastime seems to be working on, maintaining, and discussing women's behinds. The Bunda is the end-all, be-all for attractiveness. J-Lo herself would be considered reasonably attractive, although she wouldn't be famous for her popozuda (big butt), in a land where having a shapely popozuda is merely normal. See below.
I'm bugging out at a good time. This year's foliage seems to be a bit on the dull side here in New England, but it's still beautiful, especially to someone like me, who missed the past few leaf-peeping seasons. Anyhow, tomorrow night I'm heading back to Philthydelphia to return to work.
Great day yesterday. It was blowing about 40knots, and I was down the beach (of course!) with my brother and Godson. IT was a great day to look at the water, and the ships coming into Boston, and enjoy the fact that I wasn't out there getting my ass handed to me. Just right.
SO, TOday, inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife brings back her first graded exam as an American college student. It's her ESL class, of course. Our local state-funded community college is the scene where said exam took place.
Page 1 is about comprehension and grammar.
Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised, as a man who studies the art of critical thinking, that the vehicle used to measure my wife's comprehension in English is an essay on President Barrack Obama's qualities and rise to the Presidency. I'm not a 100% cynic, but I might be after this. I try heroically not to rant and rave, but damn, it's hard. The essay extols the President in a poetic fashion that a boozebag might use to describe a free bottle of Jack Daniels. I'm not kidding. That essay was so far up the Glorious Prez's booty that it was scraping the back of his teeth with the staple.
I'm staying out of this, politically. As I often do with political issues, I try to reverse the association of the subject- imagine if the first exam that a foreign-born college student takes was based on Ronald Reagan. The other professors would be searching for a nice stadium and a half dozen hungry lions to run the offending teacher around.
Anyhow, I tried to explain all this to my wife. She was more interested in whether or not I was going to cook dinner tonight.
That Kim Kardashian lady may have a body that was assembled right out of the reptile portion of my brain, but her face makes me think that someone needs to stick her back in the Ark of the Covenant before OUR faces all melt off. I'm pretty sure that mother nature didn't make her cheekbones stick out further than her shoulders. Just sayin.
It's difficult to believe that my dad isn't going to be there when I get home later this week. It's been almost two weeks since he died. As a family, we had been preparing ourselves for 25 years, when he was first told that his heart was working on borrowed time. He'd been dodging bullets in the form of cancer, heart disease and diabetes for that whole time. A childhood spent in orphanages and foster homes left him exposed to polio and rheumatic fever as a kid, though it took 50 years for that to catch up with him. He was 76, and had been married to my mom for just shy of 49 years. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
My father sailed in the heyday of the 'tin can' navy, when tiny WWII-era destroyers were the workhorses of the US Navy fleet. He remains the most widely-travelled man I know of, having visited almost every coastal nation in the world. The father I knew was an introspective, gregarious, extremely kind and religious man. Arthritis, coupled with scoliosis, had progressively weakened his back as an adult. He retired when I was only 3. This was about 10 years before his heart went south. I never knew the wild sailor that he was, but the stories were too insane to be anything but unvarnished truth.
Like all US Navy sailors, the only form of recreation after several months at sea was to go drinking with shipmates at the first opportunity. This particular story centers around Malta, something of a Mecca for the fun and alcohol-seeking sailor, I guess. My father was coming off of the longest sea cruise he'd ever been on.
when arriving in Malta, he and his off-watch buddies from the engine room made a beeline for the nearest gin mill. Sailors being sailors, they proceeded to get kicked out of bars that night for being rowdy, one after another, each time working their way further from the ship, out of necessity. At the end of the night, dead, dead drunk, and a long walk from the ship, the men started to stagger back. Being a young bunch of guys, they were still energetic and animated, if bombed.
Down the quay from their ship, the men spotted a massive, gleaming yacht- bright white amidst the dark water's backdrop, like a magnet for the eyes. This ship was obviously brand new, and the largest private vessel than any of them had ever seen. They needed to see more of it, to see how the ultra-wealthy got around from A to B. While standing at the gangway of this beautiful ship, someone suggested that they, a bunch of professionally-trained and supremely qualified master mariners, take the ship out for a joyride. She wasn't much smaller than their destroyer, the men reasoned, so she should handle the same. The boat in question, shown here, was, unfortunately, owned by Aristotle Onassis.
So, aboard they went, onto this luxury yacht. My dad and his friends went to the engine room and warmed up the engines.Others went to the bridge and looked things over. As the men started casting off the mooring lines, the cavalry showed up. Apparently, you can't steal a megayacht all that discreetly, and the cavalry, the pulizija, showed up with automatic weapons. The men were marched, at gunpoint, onto the quay. Shore Patrol found them, too, while the 5-0 were waiting for the paddy wagons. The watch officer on shore patrol requested that the men be marched to their ship prior to processing, so that the captain could pull their paperwork and send it with the men, who were to be arrested and held in prison until they faced trial. While the pulizija were nonplussed, the watch officer noted that the men were US citizens and actively serving in the US military, and having proper documentation would prevent the Maltese and American consulates from having any conflict. Well, this resonated with the locals, and my father and his friends, hands shackled, were marched at gunpoint, staggering and stinking drunk, down to their ship. At the gangway, the shore patrol stopped the group, explaining that he had to wake up the captain. A few minutes later, the captain, in a foul, foul mood, walked down the gangway. He proceeded to let the men know that, in no uncertain terms, they were going under the bus, and that they would be tried as civilians, and left to rot in Malta, as soon as their papers were processed. The captain ordered the men to line up outside his office aboard, for immediate processing and discharge to the custody of the Maltese authorities. The pulizija, being a foreign police force, were asked to wait at the gangway, and the captain arranged for a steward to serve them drinks while they waited. The men then were marched up the gangway under the screams of the furious captain. Once the men were aboard, and assembled outside the captain's office, sailors with boltcutters opened the shackles. The ship's Executive Officer told the men to go immediately to bed to sleep it off. My father went to bed. After an interminable wait, the Maltese cops got antsy. They started up the gangway, only to be stopped by the gangway watch. A US warship is the soverign territory of the United States. It is, in fact, considered to be 'US soil,' and an unauthorized foreign police presence would be viewed, the men were told, as an attack on the US. When asked about the disposition of the sailors who tried to steal Aristotle Onassis' yacht (he being the wealthiest man in the world at the time), the gangway watch claimed that they had no idea what the police were talking about.
Obviously the story doesn't end there. The US consulate got involved. The captain got a nastygram from the navy AND from the Maltese government. The captain then mentioned that the police in question smelled heavily of scotch, and he had no idea what was going on. The police force was shooed off the dock not long after. _________________________
The men in question were punished, of course, at the captain's mast. A court martial could have easily been convened for each of them. The captain, however, would lose his engine room crew, and his ship would truly be in deep shit with no sailors to actually run the plant. Some guys lost rank. Some were docked pay. My dad was restricted to the ship for the duration of his assignment to her. He was 'in hack,' however- his punishment wasn't recorded on the ships' books. As a potential 'lifer,' the captain didn't want to see my dad's career ended. He dodged a bullet.
So, it's the Sunday before crew change, and it's my morning to do paperwork and to give everything an official thorough going-over before handing off to my relief next Wednesday.
My tankerman sat with me this morning while I filled out forms, which gave me a chance to go over the necessary paperwork with him, and discuss how we like to do things here. He's been aboard for about 3 months now, and has his own style and way of doing things, based on his experiences and the lessons imparted by his former supervisors. Here's an interesting quandry: Finding innovative and informative ways to avoid saying "Because I'm your supervisor and this is what I want," as a means of providing direction when meeting resistance. Nothing earth-shattering here. As a part of providing a calm and efficient workplace, I want to encourage my tankermen to ask questions as to the reasoning behind decisions and procedures. I figure that we can find ways to improve things through varying perspectives, and nothing makes a man master material more than teaching.
Example: maintaining the Garbage Record Book, a staple item for the US Coast Guard to feast upon during their visits. The logbook comes with directions, and, when new guys want to fill out the log, I let them. There's months of data packed there, and each entry is a lesson on how to fill out the log. So, when I look in there the other day, I see a fucked-up entry that sticks out like a box of twinkies at a salad bar. Discussion ensues. How to make deletions, and why the entry is no good. Resistance is met. "Well, this is the way we did it on the..." you know, that old chestnut. Here's where I'm curious as to the best way an experienced supervisor would handle this.
1) My way of providing direction is to say that the book has directions on page 2 as to how to properly fill it out. Further, consistency in the way the log is filled also is important, and I ask what exactly constitutes a 'bag' of trash (his choice of units), when the garbage pile was mostly made up of boxes. I said this to get him thinking about units, accuracy, etc, and also to show him why we stick to the same units of measurement (cubic meters, in this case) in the same book, so everyone knows how much crap we actually cart off this beast.
2) In reply: "Well, what the hell is a cubic meter?" My unthinking reply: "Really?" I follow this up with a quick backtrack. Sarcasm is not a good teaching tool, right?
3) We revisit the old chestnut. "Well, (redacted) does it this way, and he's been doing it that way for 20 years."
4) My stupid response. "Well, in 20 years, you'd think he'd read the directions just once, out of curiosity. Do you really want to follow the example of someone who doesn't think about why we do things, and just does them, right or wrong, out of habit?"
Bad way to lose the opportunity for a teaching moment. What follows is 3 minutes of back-and-forth, obdurateness and foolishness, and I have officially given up. I use the nuclear option. "Look, this is how I want the book filled out. This is how the Coast Guard wants the book filled out. If you can't do that, let me know right now. It ain't rocket science." *************************
What frosts my ass is that this discussion happened again this morning over a safety checklist. The garbage log thing being in the past, it was forgotten. Again with the "Well, (redacted) never filled this out." It being early in the day, and my breakfast and caffeine being not yet in my belly, I simply grunted and continued on with the lesson. That seems to be the best way to prevent my blood pressure from going through the roof. We've already proven that logical discourse hasn't helped with the matter. I don't know if simply being a good example is enough to impart the lesson, but it's a hell of a lot easier.
Update: I made a curried chicken with rice today for dinner. It tasted great, but smelled exactly like dirty laundry. Horrible.
Coming down the Chesapeake in a remarkable short chop, we took a boarding sea over the stern, which rearranged things on the aft deck in a disagreeable manner. Later, I found a dozen dessicated fish on deck. They came aboard with the weather, and the nonskid decks prevented them from washing back out, I guess.
Working a raised-deck barge, you get used to the water being a good deal below you. We're running down the Chesapeake right now, getting bounced pretty good. I had forgotten how it becomes impossible to touch type due to a skittering keyboard!
We're loaded to the marks- stuffed full of oil, and riding low in the water. There is lots of flying spray, and boarding seas are washing down the deck. It feels like we're flying- the sensation of increased speed is uncanny. I feel like a sailor again. First time in a long time. Feels good, man.
I am Paul B, and I spend most of my life at sea. Ships, Science, the life of a mariner, biology and (mostly) true stories of life among the best and the worst people in the world, the United States Merchant Marines. You'll find it here, maybe. You'll definitely find rants, raves and discussion on life aboard a merchant ship. Come back and see the Brazilian girls, too, who show up fairly regularly.