I've got the midwatch tonight- I'll be up at 2330 for night lunch (a meal made out of something that is going to spoil, since I'm leaving for a few weeks and my relief will want the room in the fridge), and we're at a daylight-only berth for cargo ops, so most of the 8 hours I'll be awake will be spent exercising, packing my stuff and cleaning up after myself. After that, it's a matter of showering, getting a nap in, and then waking up to go home.
I'm taking the train tomorrow. Train tickets from New York to Boston just 2 days before Thanksgiving are EXPENSIVE. And I could only get a business-class ticket on an Acela train, which doesn't help. But maybe it'll be a nice ride, and they have a bar, so I can have a diet beer and enjoy the taste of freedom while I read a book or whatever.
In the meanwhile, here's some nice Brazilian girls for you to look at while I get my act together.
So, one of my little hobbies on teh internets is posting on discussion boards. I often go back and forth on different places online that host discussions on matters of religion, men's issues, marriage and parenting and of course maritime commerce.
Some message boards have more relaxed policies on putting up vulgar or funny pictures to go with them- to make a point, or take the sting out of one, I often attach things like what you'll see below. Some are animated, so click to embiggnify.
So, I have the time and weather and positioning to get a decent 5 mile walk in today here in Red Hook, NY. I've been averaging 5mi daily, (4 miles one day, 6 the next) around my deck edge, but this morning I'm in my chair, and I didn't have bacon or anything awesome for breakfast, and I'm feeling lazy. I've retaken lost ground today- went in one of the 3 belt notches I lost after I dicked off on my weight management, and with the holidays coming, that means that I'm going to have to decide between cutting booze and good food for my ration of Gluttony, while home at least, and that makes me sad. So, shortly, Ima get off my ass and move afore I get the piles.
The Today Show has the Rockettes on. I'm watching this, and I can't help but notice that the whole thing seems awful...dated, I guess. I mean, the music is some Lawrence Welk castoff that was out of date 40 years ago, and the girls have bird legs now, and synchronized dancing in their style is amazingly non-sexy. Seriously, it's time to take the program out behind the barn for some Ol' Yeller time.
Well, there's my motivation, I guess. I'm just not a TV watcher. I'm too contrary I guess. It makes me feel like somewhere just over the horizon there are some kids I need to get off my lawn.
After losing a grand total of 90 lbs last year, I've managed to regain far too much, and last week decided, again, to do something about it (again).
I'm fairly bent out of shape, literally, at myself. How did I let so much gut get back above my belt? I lost the weight as rapidly as was humanely safe (and sustainable), but I guess I didn't bear in mind that YMMV when it comes down from push to shove.
Because it can't be ALL me just digging my grave with a fork and spoon, I've looked at work hours, and seen that I will have spent one more week at sea than I ever have before in a single year. 2012 will see me having spent 300 days on my steel beach, and almost 0 on a real one. So, that's got to change before my wife looks at me and sees a stranger. It seems like no matter how good the paychecks, and man or maneschevitz, the extra weeks of work make for some big checks, there's still always the same amount in savings: not quite enough, though, to be fair, I've diverted a lot of income to my retirement portfolio this past year too. I think the extra week and all will still equal less actual take-home pay year for year in a pepsi challenge with last year.
My point is that the brown-water merchant mariner does not live a healthy lifestyle by default. Stress and irregular sleep cycles contribute to fat deposition. Eating instead of sleeping to keep up energy levels doesn't help, either.
So, I'm back to trying to eat healthier- so far so good. I'm walking 90 minutes a day, ashore when I can, in circles on deck when I can't. Weight training every other day, and awful pushups/planks too. I feel good, overall. Better already, in just 10 days. Belt is one notch in, which puts me back where I was in July, so that's progress.
I'm not trying to get skinny anymore. I want to live well and not make noises when I bend down to tie my shoes. I'm looking for something more sustainable now. I just want to live long enough to get back my investment in my kid's college fund. I want to be healthy and look as good naked to my wife as she does to me. Seems only fair.
Last year I buckled down and met my goal. I didn't stay there, but I set out to do something, and did it.
I feel like my head's in the right place to keep this goal, too.
Just before I came home last time, my mom had to have her dog put down. It was time, as his quality of life had declined and he was suffering the ravages of a slow senescence and resultant system breakdowns. I was proud of how my mom and brother handled it, and though it's always awful, part of being a responsible pet owner is accepting responsibility for safe and humane treatment from start to finish.
Figaro was the runt of the litter, the character- a near perfectly round hairball of a Pekinese, and handsome in a way the breed usually isn't. He had a deviated nasal septum and a narrow respiratory tract- as I said, he was a runt. The end result of this was that he snorted a lot when he was excited, and snored quite loudly for an 8-lb dog. He was a perfect puppy, and, happily, never lost the puppylike desire to play and be affectionate. I'm not a small dog person, but he was awesome-
It takes a confident heterosexual man to pull off this pose.
As my father's last days wound out, Figaro was always at his feet- supremely loyal, and, after my father's passing, the dog aged quickly.
At 12, he was still as puppylike as ever, but when my mom broke her leg this year and spent 3 months at a rehab hospital trying to get the bones to set, Figaro wilted on the vine. One of the best stories I heard was how my brother brought the dog into the rehab hospital to see my mom after she had been away from home for a month, and Figaro went absolutely bonkers, after which, at home, he perked up again. But none of us can win against the determined march of anno domini, and his time came to an end.
My parents had a habit of getting a new puppy when their dog began to slow down from age. I credit this with the long-lived and content series of dogs we've had over the years. The combination of youth and age seems to have had a synergistic effect in terms of behavior and longevity. My mom's health precluded that, this time, but that's OK. After losing a little titan like Figaro, I think it's OK to wait a bit.
Well, there was some warning that this day would come. I've known for almost a week now that I'd be writing this post, feeling sombre and slightly empty, with a hollow feeling in my gut and some anxiety for the future and questions about what it will hold for me. I know that I face some inconvenient and expensive hurdles to get past now. Plans for buying a house when I get home will have to wait until I see what the changes will do to my income.
At any rate, they'll be here tomorrow to pick up my truck and bring it to the scrapyard. It got flooded with seawater when my company's parking lot went underwater in Hurricane Sandy.
Wait, did you think I was talking about something else? No, I was talking about my truck.
I bought my truck new, for the express purpose of being able to haul bait and tools and not looking like a wussy. At the time, I was lobstering with The Notorious B.O.B., and he had just made me relief captain on the RITA C, his boat. I was running to Boston twice a week to pick up 1,500lbs of salmon heads, flounder bodies and cod parts, (pronounced "Pahts," of course). Those 3,000lbs, along with a couple of barrels of pickled herring delivered by Dick The Bait Guy (Well, properly 'Dick, the bait guy', but we are juvenile, Bob and I, when we're together). At any rate, my truck was a point of pride for me. I traded in a Dodge Neon to buy it. The Neon was my commuter vehicle when I was in grad school and running from southern Rhode Island every Thursday afternoon to go fishing on Friday and Saturday, then spend Sunday with my parents before heading back to RI for more classes and work and other things associated with a life I wasn't interested in. My truck payments were part of the reason why I couldn't survive on a deckhand's salary anymore, and had to step up and get a captain's license too.
The election? Yeah, I voted for the other guy. We elect a president, not a priest-king. If the Vox Populi wants to start a slow march to being another Greece, there are still people in position to slow the slide, so I will continue to do my best for me and mine and hope that others will do the same. Everyone else, though, can go fuck themselves now, until I again feel that there is someone who represents my interests in our government. My contributions to the Free Ice Cream Machine have just gotten a lot more begrudgingly given.
Well, I'm not going to link to it, because they used my full name for some reason, and said that I was a US Marine, not a merchant mariner, but ABC news did a piece on dealing with submerged vehicles around NY/NJ, and my truck, may it rest in peace, made the news, mostly because I complained to anyone who would listen that there just wasn't a way for me to get from where we're moored to where the truck is parked. If you're a facebook friend, you can check it there. If you're not, you should be.
At any rate, a reporter read my whining on here, and now I'm a celebrity. Snooki who? She is so last week.
PaulB. is the new hotness of digital media. If I knew that I was going to be labeled as "US Marine Capt. PaulB," though, I would have tried to parlay that into an admiralty. If you're going to get promoted because no one knows the difference between a marine and a merchant mariner, might as well go for flag rank. "First Sea Lord PaulB" has a plenty pleasant ring to it.
In the meanwhile, though, there are signs of life in the refining and oil terminal world. Gasoline is starting to flow, and diesel, too, I think. Black oil, however, is not the new hotness, which is part of the problem. Myself and my neighbors here at the dock are sitting on a couple of thousand tons of cold black oil, which is just about solid enough to walk across when it's ambient temp in November. We've got to get somebody to pump screaming hot oil into our tanks to blend with our cold oil so that we can pump it into a shore tank to be reheated, then we can take on some hot oil ourselves to give to thirsty ships and powerplants. The guys behind us, however, are fully loaded with cool oil. If they don't get it out in the next day or two, I have no idea how they'll get the solidified slurry out.
Yesterdays' post earned me a few boos in my emailbox, too. As explained in the comments section, I probably should have fleshed out my thinking a little. I feel terrible for the people who lost everything this past week, and for their sakes, I'm glad to see FEMA here with the free ice cream machine. It seems to me, though, that there are proportionately more strident and loud people who have merely been INCONVENIENCED by the hurricane, and are unwilling to put scuff marks on their $200 sneakers to walk a little ways to get food, and are just squatting in front of their perfectly sound but powerless residences screaming for a microphone and a forum until their iPhones work. Those are the people that keep folks like me from wanting to do more. I will not help up someone who is perfectly able to help themselves but refuses, and, unfortunately, they're the ones who have the time and desire to get in line and open up their mouths for Mama Bird.gov to vomit free stuff into their voluminous EBT card-lined stomachs. At any rate, the people sitting in the charred or sand-filled ruins of their homes are being cut out and subsumed by loudmouths who are happily willing to sit in line for 2 hours for the chance to complain on TV how no one is working hard enough to help them. If they were forced to actually work or even walk for 2 hours to get food for their families, they'd be too tired to bitch quite so loudly, and the folks who really need our help might get it.
So a scant 5 days after the hurricane, New Yorkers are going feral. Multiple generations most certainly were not prepared for an interruption in the supply of gubmint cheese. The entitlement crowd, all 47% of them, are entirely unwilling to walk a couple of miles to load up on groceries for a day or two, and seem to prefer stealing, dumpster diving and giving seriously (un)classy fodder for the entertainment pleasure of the millions of Americans who, right now, are so very grateful to not be in New York.
If I seem somewhat callous, call it a response in having grown up on the fringe of a coastal flood zone and being somewhat insistent on a degree of self-reliance. I wish I could say that the majority of the victim society is made up of elderly and infirm residents who need legitimate help, but there seems to be no shortage of able-bodied people seemingly more than healthy enough to get their stirrup-panted fat ass in front of a microphone, but unable to to stomach the idea of walking to the top of a hill 3 miles away to load up on canned goods at one of the many working bodegas and small shops that, amazingly, my coworkers have had no trouble at all in finding, despite being based in the hardest-hit portions of Red Hook.
My dad used to say that poor planning on my part shouldn't constitute a crisis on his. While I could always rely on him to save the day, I dreaded asking him to. I wish I saw more of that, but I'm assuming that there's help out there. The narrative on TV currently focuses on how unlikely New Yorkers are to survive without attaching an umbilical cord to us all from Uncle Sugar to our growling stomachs.
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.