Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Finished reading Kevin Glennon's "Vikings,Vampires and Mailmen." Kevin was kind enough to send me to sea with an advance copy. I'll be posting a review soon, and, in the meanwhile, feel free to click on the "United States Vampire Service" logo.

I finished the book because I came off watch with a stick up my ass, and couldn't sleep, so I needed some cooling off time. We carried a cargo parcel a grand total of 5 miles, with about an hour between when the cargo surveyor (the guy who measures and takes the temperature of the cargo, to calculate volume officially for the refiner, as opposed to me, who calculates volume for the carrier (us) and for the official paperwork at the discharge port) left us, and the receiver's surveyor came aboard.
At any rate, in the hour between surveyor's reports, the cargo cooled a tenth of a degree, which meant that the volume changed about 1/8 inch in all of our tanks. The second surveyor, who smelled powerfully of foot and unwashed ass, kicked up a slight shitstorm over the volume difference. As I explained hemidemisemipatiently that the cargo was sold by weight, and not volume, (which he should have known), there would be no issue, as the volume could be calculated using a correction factor for temperature's effect on density.

At any rate, dealing with a man who smelled like hot spicy crotch did little for my patience, but I didn't let the fact that he was sitting in a chair upholstered with fabric throw me off too much. We have Febreeze on board for just that reason. Eastern European and a smaller proportion of East Indian engineers have the same deep abiding hatred of regular baths. It unsettles the humours, apparently.
After signing off of yet another surveyor's report, and opening all portholes, vents and kicking on the fans, I turned in. I quickly realized that the smell from the pre-discharge conference had wafted into my room. Goddamned common heating intakes. Faced with the vague funk of rotten onions, I read my book, and suddenly it was 2 hours later and the book was finished. Thank God I was most of the way done before I started, as I had to sleep prior to waking up for the midwatch.
A few hours later, I was awoken by the smell of the cargo surveyor, who apparently didn't take advantage of his free time by attending to personal hygiene. I asked my tankerman how long the surveyor had been aboard before I came out of the bunkroom. 30 seconds to a minute, apparently. Christ, that guy really left an impression. We then spent the world's longest hour ever going over paperwork. I set the land speed record for killing trees by trying to get the man out the door in 10 minutes or less, but it was not to be.
After the Hour of Power was over, the man was gone, and we were ready to sail. I remarked to the deckhand on watch that since the entire house smelled like an unwashed hamster cage, we needed to invite a dog in to shit on the floor to improve the smell.
But now it's 3am, almost, and we're at a lay berth with 12 hours to go before the next cargo starts. I shortened my lifespan with a rigorous fogging of the air with alternating batches of disinfectant and deodorizer, and the prospect of a few hours of peace before it all begins again.

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