Monday, August 13, 2018

Lost in Translation, unintentional hilarity

Peter Grant has a great post up today about the hilarity than can result when you assume that British English and American English are interchangeable.  Read the comments, too!

    About 90% of the disagreements that Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife and I have are based on misunderstandings because of language.  You might think it's like 'Three's Company' style hilarity, and sometimes it is, but man, it can cause trouble.

 Sometimes, however, it can be damn funny however.

 My wife and I speak a form of pidgen at home- When I speak, I tend to use nouns in portuguese, because it's easy to learn the names of things, and the rest in english. My wife tends to do the same in Portuguese. Her english is fine, but when speaking rapidly, she hates to hunt down the name in her mind for places and things, which interrupts the flow of conversation. Anyhow, it works for us. Except when other people hear it. Even worse, my wife learned English with a Boston accent, poor girl, so spelling out words doesn't work. If you know me in meatspace, I have a WICKED STRONG Boston accent.

 So as far as my wife knows, Car is spelled C, A, H.

       The word 'fork' is really hard for my wife to pronounce correctly. It sounds like 'fohk.' My fault, I think. I say it like 'fohahk.' At the Top of the Hub,one of Boston's most expensive restaurant, on our second anniversary, we met some very nice people at the next table because of this. Due to a snafu, her place was improperly set up with utensils. To their credit, the people at the next table only stared for a few seconds when my wife announced that she needed a big fohk before she could eat her salad. When I heard a little giggle, I couldn't help but laugh at it too.

      But that's nothing compared to what happened at my brother-in-law's house.


 In portuguese, 'pintar' is paint.  'Pinto' is a juvenile chicken. Pinto is also vulgar slang for penis, turns out, like 'cock' here in the US.
... I did not know these things. 

  My brother-in-law is a very handy guy, a monoglot with almost no English. My sister-in-law speaks very good english, but doesn't get much opportunity to practice. They're very nice people. Super religious evangelicals, but my brother-in-law retained an earthy sense of humor. My sister-in-law, too, I'm told, but she'd never exercise it in front of a man who wasn't her husband, so I haven't seen it.

 One day we went over there for dinner, and I was impressed at the hanging bracket my brother-in-law made to set his giant TV up on in the corner of the room.  He said it was almost done, but needed paint, and he was waiting to see if his wife wanted it in white or black.

 So, after dinner, at some point, in an effort to contribute to the all-portuguese conversation at the table, I turn to my very sweet but shy and religious sister-in-law and say " O Karina, voce prefeiro um pinto preto, or pinto branco?"  'So, Karina, do you prefer a black paint, or a white one?"
 ... only I didn't say paint. I said the other thing, turns out.

 Silence. Then LOTS of laughter, thank God. To maximize his enjoyment, my brother in law made his wife explain the error in my word choice.  You'd never think that brown people can blush, but I assure you they can. Luckily my sister in law also thought it was hilarious, but didn't want to embarass me, as at the time they had no idea just how lowbrow my sense of humor can be.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Carnival! (NSFW)

Well, it's another long midwatch, and like it seems to do every damn day this year, it's raining. Again.

 So, with dampened spirits dragging me down, I thought I'd share some pictures from Brazil's Carnival to brighten up everyone's day. Lord knows I feel better already.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

There goes another thing I said I'd never do again

I dun goofed.

 Or did I dun and gont goofed? 

 Sure feels like it today.

 My right hand man here at HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/ floating prison with a chance of drowning besides, has taken a leave of absence.  Big O, my tankerman, is taking a few months to start a business and see it fledged before returning to work. Faced with the prospect of 12 weeks of fill-in guys who rotate in and out and are not familiar with the HQ, My partner and opposite, B and I agreed to work over, to stay on board rather than take out next scheduled time off. We are each staying for 10 weeks. Mine already started. I've been on board for 2 weeks already. B is going home to do the necessary to prep his family and his own personal business for an extended work period.

 Now, after 7 years of working 42-45 weeks a year, far beyond what is smart or necessary, I told myself, and my family, that I wouldn't be working extended tours anymore while in the employ of my current employer. When we need fun money beyond the normal, sure I can work an extra week and then go home for a week before starting back on my routine, but working 10 weeks straight was supposed to be a young man's game.

   BUT, with B gone, and a certain amount of experience in the price we pay in having strangers working as tankermen on the HQ, we agreed to support each other- and make some money without leaving our place.

 That's the secondary stress of working overtime- you work over on a boat or barge that needs crew. Not yours. In this case, we're working on the HQ, working from home, so to speak, so that should help.

 Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife wasn't super pleased, but understood. In the end, the extra money I'm earning is going towards another big project for us, so she was appreciative, even if it is viewed as a costly but ultimately good decision.

 Still, at the 2 week mark today, with (oh fuck me.) 8 more weeks ahead, you'll understand if I'm not feeling inspired.

Friday, August 3, 2018

No religion or politics at my table

A standing rule at my house, and even aboard the HQ when we have guests is 'no religion, no politics.'   To maintain peace in my house, and at work, we don't mix the two when we don't know intimately the people involved.

 So, sadly, I have been forced to delete the maritime news website 'Gcaptain' from my sidebar. Their social media people are forcing politics into their reporting, and, even overlooking their deep and abiding boners for anything embracing global warming theory, I've had enough. As it happens, my politics are not in alignment with their social media opinion pieces, but that's actually immaterial. I don't want opinion pieces about politics in my fucking maritime news. I want maritime news.

 Ship blows up. Man overboard. Company sold. Company started. Ship being built. Laws changing. Important stuff.
 How global warming could maybe possibly affect widget supply if the worst happens 200 years from now. Why this person we don't like is, like, bad for business, man.  Not important stuff.

 So, sorry gcaptain, you're done. You're Mother Jones of the maritime world now.

 So instead, I'm going to put a link to 'The Maritime Executive' which is more about maritime business and trade than down n' dirty news, but at least  their writers know the difference between news and opinion.  Check 'em out.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

HAWSEPIPER COOKS: Coxinha, the Brazilian treat

The best part about Brazilian food is that generally it won't kill you. Brazilian food is not heavily spiced, and relies more on savory than spice. Healthy, simple ingredients make for wonderfully flavored foods... which is part of why people happily line up to spend $30-100 a person for buffet service at a Brazilian BBQ joint in the US.

     When it comes to snack foods, my absolute favorite, as a man who loves to eat too much, is the Coxinha (Pronounced "Ko-sheen-ya,"  a fried chicken treat that is widely available... in Brazil. Think chicken salad wrapped in dough and fried into a teardrop shape about the size of a small egg. Sounds... weird, right? Make these babies or find them in a Brazilian grocery store and you'll be instantly hooked. And holy shit, talk about awesome finger food for a party. After trying these, you'll never make nachos again. There's a reason why Brazilians in America think Mexican food has no soul.

     This is street-cart food in Brazil- great snack or meal on the go, good with booze or beer, too. Since we eat on a Brazilian schedule in my house, dinner is at 4pm, and the main meal of the day. Around 8 I'll do a charcuterie plate, or Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife will throw together an appetizer of sorts along with bread or fruit and cheese, and on weekends, coxinhas or Pao de queijo, a type of cheesy bread.

 The thing about cooking coxinhas, is that you don't always have to. If there is a Brazilian grocery or bakery in your area, you can get these things fresh or frozen, and they're often really good- They're mad in big batches and the uneaten portions frozen, so they don't have to be made very often. They freeze and reheat REALLY well. If you buy them frozen, you do need to find out if they've been fried or not yet. They need to be fried ONCE (never refry them, it turns into mush!) but after, if they've gotten cold or were frozen,  they can be baked back to life and still be perfectly good.

    This is NOT a complicated recipe. There are a bunch of steps, though, and it takes a little time. I suggest catching up on a documentary or Deadliest Catch on TV, or splitting a bottle of wine with your spouse while doing the prep, and talk about your day, or why Pinochet did nothing wrong. You know, whatever makes you happy. Brazilians often  make the mix up at night, freeze it, and cook portions if it another day. With the steps, it's easy to clean up after yourself. You can freeze this stuff at any step in the process and continue on later.

 A word on cheeses: The best cheese for this is catipury cheese, which you'd need to get in a latino grocery. Cream cheese is a perfectly good substitute, though.

A word on flour:  The authentic coxinha is made with cassava (often called manioc) flour. Although it is gluten-free (I don't care) it can be hard to find outside a latino grocery, and regular old white flour will do.

  • 1.5 pounds chicken breasts, boneless 
  • 4 to 5 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 tsp garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 softened 8-oz pack of cream cheese or catipury cheese
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour or manioc
  • 2- 3 cups bread crumbs
  • 3 cups vegetable oil (for frying)
  • salt and pepper to taste

 To make:

  1. Put the chicken  in a large shallow pot. Cover them with the chicken broth, adding water if necessary to make sure the chicken breasts are covered by at least 1/2"
  2. Add the carrot and one of the onions (peeled and halved) and bay leaves
  3. Bring to a LOW boil, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until chicken is just cooked through (you want a little pink in the middle ). It's necessary to cut into the chicken to tell when it is done. Remove pieces as they finish, so as not to overcook.
  4. Set chicken aside to cool, and strain and keep the broth.
  5. Shred the chicken into very small pieces. Food processor is easiest but you can also use your fingers or two forks.
  6. Stir the softened cream cheese and lime juice into the shredded chicken.
  7. Finely chop the second onion and the garlic. Sauté the onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of butter until soft but not brown. Don't burn them!
  8. Finely shred the carrot (or toss in a food processor and drain). Add the carrot, hot onions and garlic to the chicken mix and stir well.
  9. Measure the chicken broth you saved.  You need at least 3 cups, so add more canned chicken broth to make 3 cups if you have to.  Boil the broth in a saucepan and gradually stir in the same amount of flour as you have broth. If you have 3 cups, add 3 cups of flour. If you have 3 1/2, add 3 1/2. 
  10. Stir constantly (don't stop!) and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. This makes a stiff dough.  Remove from heat and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Also put the shredded chicken in the fridge for an hour, or overnight.
At this point, you can refrigerate everything for a day or two, or continue.  Very forgiving stuff.
  1. Flour your hands and take a piece of the dough about the size of an egg. Roll it into a ball, then hollow out the middle for the filling.
  2. Press a golfball size (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) lump of the chicken filling inside the ball of dough, and press the dough closed around the filling. Shape into an approximate drumstick or teardrop shape. Be ready to reflour your hands as needed. Stand the coxinhas on a baking sheet, so that the pointed end sticks upwards. Continue until you run out of dough or filling.
  3. Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Place the bread crumbs in a shallow pan or bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Dip the coxinhas in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs to coat. Refrigerate the coxinhas for 1 hour, and then either cook or freeze them.
  5. Fill a  pot with enough oil to cover the coxinhas. Heat the oil to 360 degrees. Fry the coxinhas in batches until deep golden brown.
  6. Bask in the adulation of everyone you feed. 

EDIT: I had to add some details about the carrot and garlic, thanks to an astute reader.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Check these guys out: ACORN TO ARABELLA

 On the occasions where I have a decent cell signal, and after other business gets taken care of, I like to watch Youtube videos of people who make stuff. Boats, woodwork, fiberglass, manufacturing processes, whatever. And hunting videos, too, just because the one color I don't see out here is the green you find on leaves- well, with the exception of the enormous pothos plant that I've been growing in my galley for the past 8 years, which has vines about 30' long running across the overhead.

       I have my regular sites that I watch, some of which you can see in the links on the sidebar.

 One new channel that I've been enjoying is 'Acorn To Arabella,' two young guys from MA who are building a wooden sailboat utterly from scratch. 

   And I'm not kidding, when I say 'from scratch.'   These guys are felling trees and milling logs to get the wood they need. And they're doing it, too. The process of cutting stock, building an assembly shed, and lofting the lines is all documented, errors and all, which is half the fun of youtube.

   While I spent last week bitching that the mailman delivered me some shitty walnut planks, you can watch Steve hanging 20' in the air limbing a tree trying to make room for a shed.

I can't link to youtube here because I'm piggybacking on the HQ's Wifi, and the powers that be believe that Youtube is the devil. But here's their channel. Check it out.

 If you're of a mind to, maybe throw them a couple of bucks. These guys are working hard and worthy of support. 


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Be not afraid

My generation grew up with some fears. We were taught to fear Soviets, nuclear war, and, for some reason, quicksand.
 Seriously, I really grew up thinking quicksand was going to be something I would have to be mindful of.

 Without diminishing the worry of nuclear war or the soviet threat, which was somewhat of a fatalistic worry- I grew up in a town with a big Navy base, a shipyard nearby, and Boston was right across the harbor) which is to say that we understood that if it happened, we weren't going to know much about it, being at ground zero, so why worry?  In retrospect, that was fairly reasonable.

     As I got into my late teens, the hole in the ozone layer, radon, CFC's, overpopulation, and global warming all filled the gap left by the Russians... but by then, we had fearmongering fatigue, and that helped too. We were tired of being told to be afraid, with the 'big one' already behind us, realizing that a lot of time and energy had been wasted.

 Teenagers today, however, don't get a break. At school they receive a barrage of fearmongering. They are taught that we're living in a dangerous time where violence, hatred and greed are destroying everything. The environment is irreparably damaged. Global warming is going to make it worse.  Overpopulation. Racial disparity. Income inequality.

 The media they consume is even worse. I suspect that the spike in interest in fantasy movies and superhero TV is an escape valve from this.

 I talk to my kid about being afraid. About the difference between reasonable and unreasonable fears. About how much easier it is to manipulate people through fear than via any other emotional medium, and that for the most part, this is a conscious decision on behalf of those who hold or grasp at the strings. I hope it's enough. My kid is sarcastic, and this gets him in trouble at times. I've gotten phone calls. It's been a good lesson in power dynamics. I've also learned where I have to caution my kid about repeating lessons on critical thinking and the nature of behavior- on being sure the juice is worth the squeeze when it comes to sharing ideas that people don't like because they're true. The role of instinct in virtually all behavior. Altruism. Class and culture. Those are volatile subjects, and while my kid enjoys a certain amount of leeway in talking about certain social topics because he's not caucasian, he also is vulnerable to accusations of 'acting white.'  I mean, what the hell would I know about that? There's not much I can do there except note that ignorant minds can't distinguish between color and class. It's not an easy subject.

My son is more aware and concerned about these issues listed above than I certainly am, and I suppose that's inevitable. Where I have rational arguments against a specific issue, I'll talk to him about it. The power of critical thinking is such that it's relatively easy to turn the tables on someone merely by asking questions about their platform, which also leads to being able to disagree with less conflict, unless one is dealing with a fool or a zealot, and there's no angle on wasting time on either.

 Trying to balance teaching a young man how to be strong, how to never back down, and how to be discreet... that's a challenge. My kid can and has been called out on being religious already. That's a fight I can't fight for him. He'll have to make his own way there. Pretty much all I can do is talk to him about it and be the best example I can manage. I worry about it of course- virtually every teen suffers a loss or dimunition of faith at some point, but if we laid a good foundation, he'll have that to build off of, once life screws him over a few times.
     Being rootless, being afraid and being discouraged- these are the lessons that my kid is being taught, for all that schools talk about affirmation and support.  For the most part, I learned 90% of what I needed at home. Trivia and details were available at school, which helped. But I'm not there nearly as much as my own father was. He was already retired when I was in grade school, I could talk to him every morning and night.
   No, I don't have that luxury. All I can do is to teach my son to be confident in his ability to judge, to be fair and strong without being brittle or a bully. Above all, I hope to teach him to be optimistic for his future, for achieving his goals. More than anything else, our culture of fear steals that away from our children. They might be taught to strive for success, they might be encouraged, but that gets measured and balanced against the other, darker lessons, the rampant nihilism and fear for the future that is being jammed down their throats in these jumbled mixed messages that our poor confused kids have to deal with.