Thursday, August 30, 2012

Homeland Insecurity: defense against stupidity

I recently had an opportunity to witness a Gestapo uh, secret police, I mean, Ministry of Peace Department of Homeland Security-led live action exercise in New York harbor. I damn near had to take part in it, which so infuriated me that I sat up off-watch and just waited for someone to come aboard so I could tell them to get off my lawn. Having no lawn, of course, and being Master after God on a piece of steel that doesn't actually belong to me, I would have folded like a chair had I had to deal with any pointy heads, but I would have been grumbling the whole time and giving them dirty looks, I swear.

 Anyhow, my point is that I got to spectate on the spectacle, which failed to impress, certainly, though I'm sure that that was the point. It was part of our antiterror theatre drills, where government agents pretend to enhance our personal security, and we pretend to believe them.

   I dunno if I'm a contrarian or not, but I call BULLSHIT on the whole thing. As we all know, the only people who have stopped terror attacks that were actually underway have been civilians. The Coast Guard, God bless their little hearts, continues to be horrible at everything except Search and Rescue, and I can only hope that all the folderol doesn't detract from or divert funding from their SAR mission. The DHS umbrella, agency, on the other hand, deserves to go back to our malls and protect us from skateboarders and litterbugs.

     A few months after the government, in their wisdom, created the DHS and instilled panic on our nations waterways by insisting that Haji the bomb-vest  boogeyman was coming for us each and every day, and then responded by making our ports safer by not allowing American sailors to ever go ashore (or home), we sailors knew we was all completely and utterly fucked.

 We also knew some simple truths: fences, convoluted port regulations, and a nationwide ID card that identifies you as a transport worker but really just helps keep the defense contractor who runs the program funded until someone buys their fucking airplanes, won't make you safe.

       Being forbidden from going ashore won't make you more safe.

      Ceding power to a government authority that models their port security plan on that of Berlin in 1940 won't make you more safe.

        Jokes aside, US port security as it exists today is merely security theatre- it gives kids a job, and looks like something is happening, but in reality it's just another show, and once again we are to pay no mind to the men behind the curtain.

        Everyone who works on the water knows that if someone wants to blow us up, they're not going to go through the portss to do it. They're going to put out from another boat, or from the shore, in a small boat loaded with explosives, and they're going to do whatever they're going to do. We can not stop that. All we can do is mitigate, and throwing inflatable go-fast boats with .50cals on the bow isn't going to stop that. A nice used 26' sailboat with a little outboard motor can comfortably hold enough explosives to launch me halfway to mars if that's someone's intent.

   I get regularly questioned by uniformed folks who grade my responses on our security plan. What do I do if there's a suspicious box on deck? Call my office. No one is going to put a bomb on my deck and not be there to make sure I don't punt it and set it off where it won't do any harm. That's just logic. A poorly-planted bomb isn't going to do much on a tank vessel. These things blow up periodically on their own, anyhow. 

     No, as the US navy discovered after the Septmber 11 attacks, a fleet of disposable skiffs laden with explosives is much more effective at destroying a whole naval fleet than an equally-sized and equally-armed enemy fleet could ever be. 

 So why are we not seeing more effort in restricting small boat access to our ports? Because at some point, you have to accept risk if you want anything resembling access to places outside of a panic room. New York harbor is one such place. The most effective way to prevent a maritime attack is to ban maritime commerce. Barring that, you could ban all non-commercial activity on the waterfront, and that too, would be incredibly effective. 
       And yet, we haven't done either of those things and there have been exactly ZERO attempted terror attacks on US ports. Not to say that we shouldn't be vigilant, but I'd say it's patently obvious that we're wasting money for zero gain, and, since we're wasting the money anyhow, there's no reason why we can't waste less money and still put on our little show to be sure that the Department of State Security is still ready to protect your freedom by intimidation, threats of force and driving little boats 60mph everywhere all the time with machine guns mounted where we can all enjoy them.

   Come to think of it, why don't we take $700 billion out of the security show racket and  give it to Medicare? Problem solved. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

To be an American

 I'm so very, very happy to report that Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife has just passed her US Citizenship exam today!

Most Millenials and Gen Y'ers tend to be apologetic for being American, or at the least, have a sense of guilt or embarassment at belonging to our parent culture. Patriotism is held in the same contempt today as being a member of the Communist party was during the cold war. The song 'Proud to be American' is somehow now a shameful thing for people under 40 to hear... if you're born here, anyhow.  For many foreigners and immigrants, despite what popular media impressions may suggest, the American Dream is still very much alive.

And so it is at the B family compound back home. As my wife approached the date last year when she qualified to apply for US citizenship, she discovered a stronger desire to be American, and not just a hyphen-American. Within her community, people have said for a while now that she's become Americanized, and they're correct. She's retained the (mostly) wonderful aspects of her Brazilian culture (waxes, teeny tiny underwear, etc), but she's also experienced cultural creep as our ways imbued themselves on her behaviors and attitudes, and like so many hybrid things, the combination of the two seems to be better than the sum of the individual influences.

Within the close confines, the Family B is the same today as we were yesterday... yet things are different too.

I need to go home. I want to go home! 5 more days...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Di-rect from Brazil (NSFW)

Well, in celebration of back-to-school time, I present to you some of the lovely ladies of Brazil, brought to you by good genes and beans and rice.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


What's the difference between a mother-in-law and an outlaw?

 An outlaw is wanted.

one two combo

So, Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife wins this round. Last night she tells me that she went to the salon for a full workup- wax, hair, peel, nails, etc. What she didn't mention is that she used a check from my gas/fun/ food for work account, one that we keep separate from the others.  Well, let's just say that yours truly won't be making any major purchases this round.

 Being married to a Brazilian is expensive.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

An important observation

Watching the 'total recall' remake right now. So far it seems OK, but I'm happy to report that the remake stayed true to the artistic dystopian vision of the original, vis a vis the chick with the 3 boobs.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Read this and understand...

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 

    1 Corinthians 13. 

 Goddamn, St. Paul had his shit together. My wife sent me this earlier today. We read this passage together at what was to be our new home, before leaving for our wedding.  Even now, on a quiet night at anchor, this passage moves me in a way than nothing else can. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Another hard day at work

         It would be funny except that the 2 hours I slept is very likely to be all I'll get.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hawsepiper Cooks! Brazilian Stroganoff

Last night on the menu here at HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/discount gynecology clinic, I cooked Brazilian stroganoff, using my wife's recipe. This simple dish is one of my absolute favorites, using ingredients that can be found in any grocery store that carries even a teeny-tiny section for Goya or other hispanic foods.

 With special thanks to Inappropriately Hot Foreign wife, for putting up with my many questions regarding why it took me 10 tries to get this recipe right. Not following directions seemed to be the issue. This dish is served over white rice.

  • 2-4 pounds of chicke, boneless or deboned
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can creme de leite (found in the hispanic food section of your store
  • 3 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 can of hearts-of-palm (found in the hispanic food section again), sliced
  • olive oil
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground mustard seed

1). cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. put in bowl and mix with garlic, Worstershire sauce, nutmeg, half the onion, and salt.
2). saute remaining onion in oil. Add chicken and mustard seed, and brown the chicken. Add tomato sauce.
3). When chicken is browned, add creme de leite. Cook under med heat for 2-3 mins. and mix well. Add heart of palm and very gently cover the pieces with the sauce and chicken. Turn off heat and allow to cool for 5 mins.
4). Serve over white rice. At home, I like to drink a Caiperinha with this, but seeing as it's got enough alcohol to put the space shuttle into orbit, I don't get to do that while I'm at work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I don't know how I missed it, but maritime-inspired NY watercolor artist BOWSPRITE is one of my every-other-day-to-visit blogs, and her work and imagination make it well worth visiting regularly. Apologies to herself for having dawdled in posting a link despite my rampant artistic voyeurism.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Network Not Available

So, after finally discharging a teeny tiny parcel of oil to the most rotten-looking scrap ship I've ever seen (this is after a 4-day delay, mind), we're back on an even keel here at HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/gas n' guzzle. Today being Tuesday, it's been a long 4 days that we've been riding around with a port list like a clubfooted drunk. It feels nice to be walking on a flat deck again without the gangsta lean.
      At the end of the job, when it comes time for me to fax everyone in the world with copies of the paperwork from the discharge, I discover that the computer network is down.
      See, this is something I don't like about myself. I'm increasingly tethered to the electronic nipple that is my web access portal. When, after the 2 1/2 hours of blackout time had ended, and my multiple emails and faxes went out, I breathed a deep sigh of relief, like a drunk who knows that he's got enough to get him through the night until the packie opens up at 8am.

Monday, August 13, 2012

pondering the ponderables

I just put in a pre-order for 10 large sticks of venison bologna from a friend who's a butcher down in the carolinas. I'm not sure what it is, and what it tastes like, but I don't care because VENISON BOLOGNA! Screw the price tag. We also put in for a 20lb bag of venison jerky to be delivered on board the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, so I foresee everyone on board being bunged up tighter than Dick's hatband by that weekend.

I went to Fairway Market today, too. For those of you not in the know, Fairway is possible the largest gourmet grocery store in the US. It's expensive, but worth every goddam penny. As an example, I bought a pair of Brazilian avocados (they're the size of a moderately-sized watermelon), and a bag of poblano peppers, along with some thai chile dipping sauce for my bread. Unfortunately, while enjoying the hell out of my dipping sauce, I burnt the ever living hell out of my index fingers while trying to roast my peppers, so... that happened, and now I can't pick my nose for a few days.

I always miss the best stuff when I'm at work. Birthdays (sorry meu amor), family events, concerts, and more recently the 5th anual Bloggershoot, when like minded folks get together and shoot the hell out of stuff. This year marks the 5th year in a row that I've missed it. At any rate, I'm actually going to be home for Larry Correia's local booksigning for his newest book so I'm wicked excited about that, as he's my one of my current favorite escapist guntech fantasy writers. Thus far Jay G and Kevin Glennon have expressed interest in going. Seeing as I only get let out of my cage and allowed ashore once in a blue moon I'm with child at the opportunity to turn fanboi where my family can't see.

Tomorrow marks the halfway point of my scheduled tour here aboard this time, and my erstwhile hetero life partner Bryan is going home. Cowboy D, my tankerman, isn't coming back, so we've got a sub coming in, a brand new nugget of a tankerman who I liked very much in his days as a tugboater. Should be interesting, in the Chinese sense, times.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Marlinespike Seamanship

 As this trip approaches the halfway mark, I've missed Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife's birthday, and much time with my family, not to mention the fact that my mom's in the hospital nursing a broken leg and facing more surgery. I don't know how I used to manage 4-month voyages, but even these more modest 28-day trips are wearing me down.


When the gods of bunkering took away HAWSEPIPER's old Afloat Gobal HQ/floating bordello last month, we were annoyed but optimistic. The new one was fresh out of the shipyard and had been purpose-built for the work, and not a refit like our old digs. We discovered that our new home had been inhabited by some downright filthy and unhygienic motherfuckers, and, 6 weeks later, the mold and mildew and handprints and pee stains are gone and only the smell remains, while the animals who treated this place like a baby treats a diaper are, I'm sure, well on their way to making my old home look like a Pakastani hospice.

 Meanwhile, though, we're in the middle of a serious upswing in the New York bunkering business- there's been some ship traffic, as always, but maybe bunker prices are favorable here just now.

      It's no surprise, given that the former occupants were less than fastidious, that our new Afloat Global HQ/gas station needed some labor and consumables.  One of the first things we had to do was replace all the mooring lines aboard.
         First off, hawser-sized rope ain't cheap, not at the size (7") that we use. Second, it comes in only one length- 1 cable, or 600 feet. We ordered 4 cables of new rope, for starters. This would be broken up into smaller lengths. Multiple 200 foot sections and some 300 footers, too. By 'broken up' I mean cut. With a hacksaw. Afterwards, the 8 separate strands of rope making up each hawser have to have eyes spliced into both ends, which has to be done by hand. That's a lot of splicing. 

2). The line is faked out on deck and measured, then cut to length.

3). the line is partially unraveled, and folded on itself to form an eye (note lack of audience on tugboat in background). 


4). the separated strands are paired, then divided prior to splicing the eye

5). A fid is used to wedge open the braid of the rope, and the strands are woven into the braid 7 times...

6). Except for the first strand, which is only woven for 4 turns, as I have hands like a little girl, and this is an accommodation that makes it much easier to braid the line. 

     When it's all said and done, you have a pretty and strong braid that is just perfect for catching a bollard to stop a vessel, and more than heavy enough to brain a dockman (should he critique your throwing strength) with a carefully mis-aimed throw.

Friday, August 10, 2012

living with me

This is one of our coat hooks aboard here at HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/ monastary.

Apropos of nothing, just like the gang on here.

New Blogs!

As always, I'm 6 months behind updating my blogroll, but here are some new listings of places I go when I'm not here:

Tam's 'View From the Porch' wicked smaht square state gun girl blog, and home to some very thoughtful snark, as well!

Sarah Hoyt: An active author muses on writing and real life. Absolutely worth reading

Breda: another web celeb in the gun nuts blogosphere- the world's most deadly librarian.

Lucrative Pain: Christina, fellow MAsshole and massage therapist- don't hate her because she's from the North Shore. They're people too.

Monster Hunter Nation: Author/CPA/giant, Larry's the VERY author who brings real gun tech, accounting and ass-kicking into real life and fiction, too.

Munchkin Wrangler: Marko is another successful author, who made his way across the border to the Free Republic of New Hampshire.

The Dingleberry: A man and his cat, and yet, not gay.

Dr. Boli's Celebrated Magazine: Fueled by laudanum, decked out in cravat and waistcoat at all hours, and the obvious result of repeated hits to the head by Jesuit schoolteachers.

 More to come, but you get the idea. There's some smaht people with wicked pissa blogs out there.


I passed a wonderfully uneventful watch last night, participating in this week's Squirrel Report, where much serious discussion ensued on the matters of gun rights, chain mail bras, annoying ren-faire salesmen and the anticipated Republican VP nomination. Special gracias to Jay G, Alan, Breda and Weer'd Beerd for the entertainmant and for not booting me for admitting that until recently I didn't believe in the Midwest.

 Currently I'm en route to raft up to a cruise ship in Manhattan, there to empty our tanks in preparation for a busy weekend of shuttling oil around the waters of NY/NJ. Should be fun. This ship has a reputation for not being easy (read: legally safe) to tie up to. Going to see if I can prove them wrong.

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's 1am. Do you know where your oil is?

Well, your oil ain't here. Yet.

       Of all the frustrating days I've had, yesterday was by far the most...recent. A ship of fools, first. Starting before midnight yesterday, the first warning sign came when a cargo net full of sailors was lowered over the side of the anchored tanker as we were coming alongside her- literally, the assholes threw a bag of Indians between us and the ship as we were nosing up alongside. Turns out they weren't being used for bumpers, but rather that someone decided it would be a fine time to do a little last minute painting on the Plimsoll marks, which were pretty much right between our two hulls.
For those of you who are scratching your heads, these marks show the maximum loading draft that a ship may take, in order to not overload the vessel, something that is still practiced in places (like bulk shipping), but is highly illegal. Each mark means something. However, midnight, in New York, in a driving rain, is not a good time to be touching up the paint,especially when you're putting human bodies between two floating metal objects each the size of a large office building while they're trying to gently butt up against each other.

 So that was a hint of things to come. The 2-3 hour job turned into the 10 hour job. The very large container ship that was patiently waiting for us to finish so they could sail for China got tired of waiting. We were racing to the next ship, being 7 hours late for our meeting, when it left for sea, leaving us with about $1 million worth of oil cooling in our tanks. The ship agreed to anchor in NY harbor to meet us, so we turned around to follow them.  Then they said forget it, they weren't going to stop. So we turned around to go to the dock. Then they anchored. So we turned around again.
    Things straightened out after that, but in racing around, discharging the cargo and preparing for the next, I overexerted myself and the heat of the day got to me. Eh, it happens. By the end of the day, I was in a foul, foul mood, so after I showered and spoke with Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife, I was feeling calm enough to sleep...
      which brings me to the point of inspiration tonight. When I woke up at midnight, we were moored in NY harbor ourselves, about 1 mile from the Statue of Liberty. It is cooler, far less humid and there's a lovely breeze outside. A truly gorgeous night, and the New York skyline is actually very beautiful. Sometimes all I need to recover from a truly shit day is 30 seconds of peace, and everything is OK again. Also, I cooked a steak almost the exact size of a dinner plate, with a grapefruit-sized baked potato, so by the time the food coma wears off, I'll be ready for the next cargo.

Friday, August 3, 2012

This Week's Brazilian Beauties

This week I'm including more candid shots of normal (I.e., not a professional model) Brazilian women, in an effort to show that it's a fine thing to visit a place where the bar is raised in terms of making the most of what you have, in a place that is rich with beauty, but dirt poor in cash.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Well, 6 days at home wasn't enough, but I'm back to work anyhow. We're under the lash just now, working steadily for one of the oil majors who is infamous for trying to plug their history of oil leaks with paperwork (and succeeding only in killing trees). My writing hand is getting more exercise than anything else (no, that's not a double entendre). Anyhow, it's right into the grind for yours truly, and with 3 big ass cables of mooring line just arrived this afternoon and in need of parceling and splicing, the day off between jobs will be spent splicing and faking down lines old and new, a somewhat dirty task but necessary for all that.
   As I type, I'm waiting on a dockman to meet us so we can get some oil flowing and get on to the next part of the job- I'm not feeling motivated to write just now, which is probably obvious from the declining quality and quantity of posts, but I'm sure it'll pick up. If nothing else, I have this weekend's Brazilian Beauties to post later on.