Sunday, March 31, 2013

HAWSEPIPER READS: Marko Kloos' 'Terms of Enlistment'

Other than using too much salt, reading is the last guilty pleasure allowed me while I’m warming a thumb in the rare bit of downtime we get at work on board our big floating fuel tank. The downside to picking up an engaging book is that it can lead to bad reading discipline, resulting in me reading through much or most of my off-watch time, leading to sleep debt. On the one hand, I get to enjoy some hopefully uninterrupted time with a great book. On the other, I wake up from a short nap, groggy, and do things like pour a can of diet pepsi into my oatmeal.

  If that example sounds oddly specific, that’s because that’s exactly what I did when I stayed up too late reading Marko Kloos’  ‘Terms Of Enlistment.’

     Terms of Enlistment is a sprawling story, concisely written- It’s a military-centric sci-fi novel set in a future that sounds damn probable, following one military recruit from a favela style housing project as he wins a slot at boot camp and gets molded into a useful member of the military, though not the branch he wanted, and seeks out a place for himself in strange company while trying to adapt his dreams and desires to the reality he faces. The book is meant from the start to be a serial- as stand-alone stories go, it’s rewarding and readable and damn well written- the language and tone are suited to the situation; to me, descriptions of boot camp and the gun tech reads at times like a dispassionate report in a personnel file, and that’s exactly what makes the book a good stand-alone read- your feelings, empathy and receptiveness to the storyline evolve with the story.
… and it’s a hell of a storyline. Sprawling, as I said, and written in a linear fashion. The author has made fertile ground of the book’s world, and I’ve picked up only the most vague indications of which avenues he will explore or cast off in subsequent novels.
                Have no doubt, this is very obviously a storyline that can go somewhere, and I’ll be curious to see if Kloos can evolve the plot enough to do justice to the potential- the most significant plot twist left an odd combination of questions unanswered, and I’m hoping this will be borne out without going all Larry Niven and being hit-or-miss in the next installments.

 I’m excited to read something unique and suitable to my palate, and I like how the book contains some payoff material but overall makes me ask “where’s he going with this?” I’ll be happy to find out when the next part comes out. This book reads quickly- As I said, I burnt up a couple of off-watch periods that should have included more sleep.     You should read this. 

You can learn more at Marko Kloos' blog "The Munchkin Wrangler" here or on the sidebar. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

God Damn My Critical Thinking Skills!

HOME!   And it is wonderful. It's strange coming home to an empty house, but I rolled in at oh-dark-thirty, and didn't pick up my boy at his aunt's, so I woke to an empty house, and took immediate advantage of the solitude by eating breakfast over the sink in only my underwear while watching Fox News on mute with Ace Frehley's solo work on the speakers. And it was nice. Then I soaked my float coat (a winter coat that is also a life jacket) in Simple Green and disassembled the vacuum cleaner. My wife clogs the damn thing, and I have to periodically purge it. Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife has thick jet black hair that hangs 3/4 down her back. I swear to God she sheds. Every 3 months I pull out enough hair to weave a full set of placemats from the vacuum's innards.

I don't know why I'm sharing that. I have no tolerance for booze anymore, I guess.

       Being reunited with my boy was awesome. I picked him up from school, and when he shot out into the parking lot and saw my truck rather than his aunt's little minicar, he lit up like a Christmas tree. Big warm fuzzy all 'round.

I took the time to clean my truck and go for a quick 2 mile hike in the Blue Hills today. I fucking hate the Blue Hills. It's the largest tract of undeveloped land in eastern MA, but it's also the best homosexual meet-n-meat area in the Boston 'burbs, so there's always some friendly gentlemen about more than ready to strike up a polite conversation and engage in Desire Under The Elms, and while I don't begrudge anyone the opportunity to keep loneliness at bay, I go to the woods to get away from strangers, not get blown by them.  But I got my walk in, and tripped over a root and wrenched my already funged-up hip, causing some aggravation to my foul-weather gimp.

       Fast forward to tonight... my boy and I celebrated with dinner at a restaurant, and on the way back I stopped at a CVS and among other sundries I bought a 5-lb bag of aromatherapy-grade epsom salts. After we watched some cartoons and a little 'Duck Dynasty' he knocked off and I dropped a bunch of salt in the bath.

        So I'm sitting in the bath- I brought 2 strong beers in with me- and I'm sitting and smelling the eucalyptus smell from the salt for about 5 minutes, then it's gone, and it's gone gone, not like I habituated to the smell, it's gone. I can feel the nice emollient slickness of skin on skin when I rub my feet together, and then it hits me: this is more snake oil bullshit.

        All the Rescue Remedy, Homeopathic, Allopathic and Complementary medicine you may encounter is unified by one thing- it works only via the Placebo effect. I don't know why I didn't make that connection between Epsom salts and aches- Epsom salts isn't magic. It's magnesium sulfate, and wonderful medication that is only effective in heroic doses taken internally... as a laxative, not as a muscle relaxant.
    Well fuck, what's the point? I just wasted $4.99 and I'm pissed because I had a blind spot to a perfect example of snake oil being sold as medicine and I just caught it now here at the ass-end of my 38th year. It's a fucking placebo. All epsom salts can do is make a hypotonic solution that alters the diffusion pattern locally in my epidermis. That's it. Well, that and create a nice emollient feeling on my skin while it's wet. It doesn't do anything else. More importantly, it doesn't have magical properties, just like all the amazingly well-packaged over the counter bullshit people buy in lieu of burnt offerings to baal. I got suckered for Fi' bucks, and it was a cheap lesson at the cost.
 Next time I'm taking the Fi' bucks and buying a box o' wine to brink with me into the tub to treat my sore hip. That shit's like 40% rubbing alcohol, and that has documented medicinal properties, unlike goddamn throwing a bunch of pool chemicals in my bath.
...and this makes me sad because having had my blinders ripped off by reality, I can no longer rely on magic to make my sore leg feel better. I have to rely on a 6-pack of Bud Light Platinum. If you're aware that feel-good non-FDA-approved claims to health are full of shit, the Placebo effect is also null and void. 

 Screw it. I'm a go watch some more Duck Dynasty. Goddamn if my skin doesn't feel silky smooth though, from the 3lbs of salt I dumped in the tub.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Common sense and experience are not enough, even when combined, to justify not taking the time to consider hull stress when loading a tank vessel. Seriously, they've computerized and cross-referenced cargo loading programs to measure stress, strain and the acceptable bending modulus- why in the name of Rock Hudson's stained mattress cover would you not completely and utterly master your stability program if your name is signed on the goddamed DOI and load plan?

 A former co-worker's chief mate broke his ship's back last week. This is in the third world, where they're just going to sister the broken stringers and reflag the little tanker through Belize, who doesn't worry about such things, but even so, this just cut the service life of this ancient vessel by a good 5 years.

 I've tried and failed to model a load plan where I cracked my own hull, but to do so I need to do insanely stupid things and then get holed in the bow and fill up my forepeak (the empty compartment behind the bow of a tank vessel)... and even then it would have to be a real shit sea state. Here at HAWSEPIPER's Afloat GLobal HQ/house of style, we're not quite riding on the proverbial Brick Shithouse, but it's still pretty good.

 But, all the same, let's see some examples of what I'm talking about.

This last one was a heartbreaker. The "Prestige" wasn't horribly misloaded, just old and poorly cared for. When she got her balls stove in in a storm, the resulting hull fracture was very fixable, but Europeans being Europeans, and always ready to endanger or outright kill people though both action and inaction in the name of sacred Gaia, wouldn't allow her safe harbor to make repairs, and, as a result, this.

New blogs and stuff

My seabag is packed, and I'm waiting for a tugboat to come and get me. A couple of weeks at home will set me right as rain.

  I've got a couple of new blogs for you to check out too- I've been reading these for a few months, and I'm sometimes slow to update the blogroll, but here's what's good:

- is Aaron Clarey's blog- a thoughtful, clever and very thorough economist with real-world experience, Aaron isn't quite the same type of captain that you'd normally see linked here, but like a good maritime officer, you find yourself listening and nodding. Aaron's also a proponent of the Men Going Their Own Way movement- something I'm not part of but have heavy respect for.

      - is a good place to dive into the manosphere and see the growing Men's Rights movement at work. Whether you agree with it or not, the Red Pill room applies logic to situations where logic is often lacking.

       - is a clearinghouse of resources for men- this is where I got my eyes opened to the subtle and non-so-subtle backlash created by feminism when it gets out of control. This is a VERY thoughtful place to go and see how a supportive environment can help men be better fathers, husbands and adults.

 While I was writing I learned that I will have to wait 2 more hours for my ride to show up and get me ashore. Crapola.

Monday, March 25, 2013

March Madness: Women of Brazil (semi NSFW)

I almost forgot to drive up blog traffic put in this month's ladies from Brazil! Just a few more days and I get to see my own girl from Ipanema... Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife will be returning home at the end of the week, and I wanted to share that same feeling with everyone here- people say that the anticipation is often better than the payoff, but I say bullshit, and here's a good example of why I'm correct- thanks to everyone who reads my stuff in between these types of  posts, btb...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

what I'm doing...

With 3 1/2 more watches to stand, I'll be starting the tour wrap up some time this evening after I sleep this morning/afternoon. Business-related paperwork is mostly filed- a few logbooks to annotate as the need arises, but the deskwork is hopefully about done.

          Currently about to turn over a quick cargo. Load oil at one dock, load diesel at another, then pump both to a ship this afternoon. Hopefully it's that simple.

 I'm a little peaky this morning, it being 3am and all. I stayed up too late reading Larry Correia's alt-noir book "Hard Magic" which is a real sleeper hit- I had no idea how much I'd enjoy it.

         With my wife down in South America, I've taken the time for a little more non-fiction reading, too. I've taken an interest in the Manosphere, the section of the web that deals with men's issues; specifically, dealing with marriage, children and bolstering the concept of a positive, alpha masculinity in a time and place that offers much social denigration for men who are unapologetically male.

 I'm a guy- something of a man's man, in many respects, and I say that slightly shamefaced, which I absolutely shouldn't, and that's the whole nature of the problem. I'm well-educated and relatively articulate, and spent enough time on the periphery of academia to know that I'm not being paranoid when I say that as a group, men are being herded away from our natural inclinations, and the resultant decline, or, more accurately, resultant failure to thrive, is of direct consequence. Men are failing and flailing, by my reckoning.

 My 9-year old boy is inundated with efforts to indoctrinate him into a sense of his own self as a second-class person by virtue of his gender and natural inclinations. He's criticized regularly for being aggressively competitive in academics and persuing only leadership in group situations... my kid doesn't like to not be the boss if he thinks he knows what he's doing. I will not quash that, and thus, I am a bad person, a caveman, and my poor wife has to field most of the teacher-interaction, even though my boy's teacher still hasn't figured out that my foreign-born wife has no idea what the woman is saying, just that she talks a lot.

 It ain't easy, as we all know, and no one is perfect, so I've been looking into ways to undo the subtle reframing of my natural inclinations and instincts that happened (without positive result to yours truly, btb) in college, and even as far back as the all-female teaching staff of my Catholic education... Magnifying the positive, discarding the negatives- you get the idea. I've come to the conclusion that I personally have dealt with enough shame-as-a-substitute-for-discussion when it comes to that sort of thing. I like being able to tap into the innate capacity for violence all men have, and being able to discern when and when not to do exactly that. I just don't want to agonize over who I am when I basically like who I am, and that's exactly the part of the innate male psyche that is under threat, in my opinion.

 So, if you're a guy, and any of that resonates, or if you think I'm full of shit... or both, please check this out:

"The male brain is also built to solve problems and end sufferings, from the cleverness of the hands to the wiring of the brain, when confronted with a problem, the male brain limits empathy so it can do what needs to be done to end pain or fear. It is built to take risks heedless of pain. The male brain is wired to find bodies intoxicating: a glimpse at someone attractive sends the male brain into a euphoric trance. The male brain feels crisis when it doesn’t know how to sort its relationship to another person.

Beneath the wiring and physical machinery we have the deep psyche of the man. In it there is a cast of characters, heroes, monsters, wild men, and saints gathered around a meaningful darkness. Man is built to wield the power to harm and to kill, as well as the power to protect and nurture. Man is built to accept pain, injury, dismemberment, and starvation – even to be able to choose these things, without his whole self-image being shattered."

     Thoughtful stuff, and that's what's got my brain ticking over.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Congressional Pork at sea: LCS- The Porkening continues

As I mentioned last week or so, The US Navy's continuing policy of awarding shipbuiling contracts to the highest bidder located in the same state as CERTAIN congressmen continues to deliver stillborns and abominations that are being called our next generation of warships.

 Take the Zumwalt class of destroyer- an escort ship meant to be zippy and responsive to act as a screening element (AKA missile fodder) to our capital ships- These tiny little toys cost almost as much as the aircraft carriers they're meant to protect, defeating the purpose entirely. This one was so egregiously bad that even congress, who is most unashamed of their enthusiastic 9 months-a-year marathon of masturbating in front of a full-length mirror, couldn't stomach this one and pulled the plug on the program, deciding to invest in a double handful of proven cruisers with superior electronic suites at the same price.

 I have watched with loathing as, predictably, the Littoral Combat Ship (fancy talk for 'destroyer') evolved into an orgy of congressional pork for two shipyards that were faced off against each other like a multi-billion dollar version of "American Idol" where whoever turns in the best ship for the money wins- Well, they both won, and America lost double. The ships have been an unmitigated disaster on wheels... so the Navy ordered more, despite the inability of the vessels in question to have EVER successfully completed a voyage without breakdown. Oh, also, they've been determined to be 'non-survivable' in combat. And, since they're made of aluminum, and prone to horiffic corrosion, we can expect Christmas to come early and often to the shipyards who get these repair contracts. Maybe we can give them to BAE to repair- at least the Brits can build a ship that can go from A-to-B, with allowances for icebergs, of course.

 What pisses me off is that our Navy is shrinking badly- shipbuilding budgets are tight, and while the rest of the world is having a giggle at it, we're trying to  build a cold-war fleet of multi-billion dollar ferry boats that would get crumpled by a bump at the dock. After suffering through failure after failure, the Navy is sending one of these floating abortions to the far east, presumably to make the Chinese feel less threatened... or perhaps some congressmen's kid has the fucking tow contract for whoever has to go and fetch this aluminum white elephant when it has it's inevitable FOURTH power loss in this most recent sea voyage.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Brazil road photos

Today marks that hafway point of Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife's solo trip to Brazil to deal with family issues- we're both struggling but looking forward to the reunion now, but damn, it's a strain. She tells me that it's 104ish during the day and humid, and nighttimes are a misery. This is a bit of an eyeopener for me, as her city is on an arid plain.

...but looks are deceiving, I suppose, for the very gentle hills hide what looks like rain forest to foreign eyes, but in reality is just tropical forest, there not being quite enough rain for that. This is the time of year when rainstorms come crashing down the hillier portions of Brazil make the news when neighborhoods built on high hills get washed into neighborhoods built in low valleys.

    When you get away from the tropical paradise portions of Brazil's coast, you're left with a third-world nation that runs from temperate to tropical, with pockets of wealth bookended by abject poverty; in a nation with no middle class, it's just another way of making do- things we don't think about- like my mother-in-law's apartment in a relatively well-to-do(ish) suburb of a medium-sized city where running water only happens every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

 A far cry from the pictures you'd see in tourist traps, which, admittedly, exceeded expectations.

...or where my wife's cousin took over her grandmother's kitchen for the afternoon to cook a massive feast of ridiculous proportions featuring all the best cuts of meat- and this from a family who's annual salary equates to about 2 weeks of mine... and wouldn't take a single goddamned penny from me to help pay for the food I ate (unbeknownst to them, my wife will actually be showing up there this upcoming weekend with two $100+ bottles of scotch (her uncle and cousins are fans but can't afford it, and the swill that's even available in Brazil is total shit). Note the stove, which is a tiled table top with a car rim used as a charcoal grill. Also note the chunks of beef tenderloin cooking over it. I can't even afford that stuff to cook at home but once a year or so.


       I haven't seen any pictures yet from this trip, but I'm assuming that I'll see my wife looking exasperated and sweaty but still beautiful. Without her husband there to insist on a hotel with AC, however, I don't expect that she'll look quite as composed as the last time when we went together.

Sunday, March 17, 2013



     There is no possible circumstance here on God's gray earth where a Caucasian person should have dreadlocks. 


 Quote of the Century of the Week: captured Sunday March 17th, 2013. "did I just pee on a wood duck?"


Greek Fired

So, last night we're fueling a large but very empty oil tanker out in a semi-exposed anchorage off New York. Freezing mist is falling, but we're hitting on all cylinders- our dedicated tugboat brought us alongside the ship without a bump, even though the ship itself was freshly anchored and still swinging into the wind, and the deck gang had lines up and all fast in under 10 minutes- very impressive.
 What happens next is that I'll kick on our deck flood lights and the ship will lower their accommodation ladder- a gangway- and an engineer and his helper will come aboard HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/floating penitentiary to sound my cargo tanks pass papers and be sure that I'm going to give him the type and volume of fuel he wants... this job in particular was pretty straightforward- I was giving him about 1100 tons of fuel- about 300,000 gallons, just a sip, on our terms, like putting a tenner in the tank mid-week.
 I strike up a conversation with Lazarus, the duty engineer, a Greek national performing his last operation as a marine engineer, as he was quitting and going home to run a motorcycle repair shop once the ship was fueled. Larry, as he asked to be called, complained about his boss, the Chief Engineer, who was calling on the walkie-talkie every 30 seconds and asking why we weren't pumping fuel. I explained to the (presumably) very experienced chief that we had to pass papers before I could start, just like everyone everywhere has to do before handing off a million bucks or so worth of fuel. Larry's helper,a Filipino, just smiled and smelled like fish. Nice guy. Reminds me of friends back home when I was lobstering.
        We finish going over the papers, and I send up the inch-thick stack to the ship for signatures, then sound my tanks- dropping a tape to measure the distance between the tank top and the cargo level. Larry's freaked out because we're using English System measurements- degrees Fahrenheit, barrels, feet and inches. It's all (not) Greek to him.  I go over things with him.

     When all is in order, I kick the pumps on and masterfully watch the paint dry, pretty much, until relieved at midnight and G-Ray, my erstwhile Sancho Panza, takes over.

     A few hours later, when the pumps are secured, I pop awake, aware that the two giant screaming diesel engines on deck are blissfully silent- I can't hear them from my room, but the light and pleasant hum they produce in the steel deck plates is absent, and that I do notice, so I wander out for a pee, and there's G-Ray and Larry, talking about the Letter of Protest we received.

    A Letter of Protest means that someone's gotten screwed. Usually it's us. In most of the world, bunker companies are notorious thieves who will cut short transfers and then try to sell the remaining fuel to line their own pockets. I'm often propositioned to do this and split the money by Russian engineers who get pretty bent out of shape (if sober, which is rare) when I say that this is the US and we don't do that shit here.
           I got heated in this case because the ship claimed we shorted them 21 tons of fuel, even after they measured our tanks both before and after we pumped cargo to them, but more, that the letter was printed out long before we finished the transfer- they were just looking for some free oil in the inevitable arbitration that will follow.  It's nothing personal, though I have a hard-on for liars, so I told Larry to translate to his chief something unkind- I could tell he hated the guy and was miserable for being Lucky Pierre in the message chain. Suddenly it occurred to me why a college-educated engineer was choosing to return to Greece's royal shit show of a job market rather than face 15 years of working for fatherless lowlifes until he could stomach the kool-aid and become one himself.
       Right now, at this moment, Larry's at JFK airport, drunk, and ready to start a new chapter in his life, and our industry is losing one more honest man. Too bad.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Underway, bound for Gravesend anchorage, NY- (off of Coney Island, pretty much).  Workload is steady- not nonstop, but there's a cargo every day, or some sort of cargo evolution, anyhow, but rumors of a Sunday off tomorrow, so, weather permitting that equates to a 5-mile walk to church and the bookstore.

 Still freaking out about my wife being outside the country, but she called and said it's 100 degrees there in Brazil, and it smells "verrrry bad, like feets and cibola" (onions)- B.O., I guess, from the favela residents and vaqueros (cowboys) who mix with the locals in her city. Anyhow, it's about as unappetizing an ad for staying home as I've seen in a while, so I'm just as glad to be here passing under the Verrezano Narrows Bridge on this cold and rainy evening. My wife is homesick, which is ironic, I guess. I'm still successfully hiding the fact that I'm missing her terribly. This being the one left at home shit really sucks!

Oh well- here's something fun to look at:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I got married in the first week of June. We had a month together before I left for a 2 week relief job as chief mate on a cruise ship. A month after coming back from that, I left on a 4 month voyage on my regular tanker. In the almost 5 years we've been married, figure 57 months, I've been gone for about 43 of those. Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife and I know a thing or two about distance and absence and longing and loneliness... but it's always been me who is on the move, even if I've had cause to lament it.

Tomorrow, my lovely wife is leaving for Brazil for a few weeks to care for her mom, who has taken ill. I'm... not taking it as well as I could, to be honest. I'm doing everything I can do as a supportive husband. I'm also trying to hide that I'm dreading this trip very deeply. The timing isn't terrible- I'll end this voyage in about 2 more weeks, and she'll fly home 2 days after I get back myself, and we'll have most of 2 weeks together before I leave again. As far as that goes, it's not bad. But I'm worrying. My wife's going to her home city, but it's still the third world... fact is, my mother in law needs her, and she and I are doing the right thing in sending her down there... but God damn me for a liar if I say I'm happy about it.

 So I don't know. Expect me to be a rage monster. Already today I blew up at a guy at Best Buy, some Arab double parked in Brooklyn (I blew up my modem and had to replace it, necessitating a cross-town ride in my 3-ton truck (Parking is FUN in the Big Apple!), and a tugboat mate from another company who was trying to be helpful but in a too-knowing fashion.   Taking out my frustration on other people, just like a big boy!

 Eh. Just got to get through the next two weeks.

Habemus Papem!

So by now you've heard that Pope Francis the First is now named to the throne of Peter. Good news, I think.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


This is bad.

     While securing my laptop for the night, I broke my wireless aircard. Posting will be light until I can get to shore and restore web access. As a net junkie, my head may explode if this doesn't happen soon. Expect minimal posting until then.
 We love you,


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Underway, making way, through the tides of humanity (Part The First)

It being the first nice day of the year where we could go ashore, I took a 2-hour walk through Brooklyn to a bookstore and to get away from the fusty miasma of residual fuel oil that infests the hallways here at HAWSEPIPER's afloat global HQ/house of style. Too bad everyone in Brooklyn had the same idea at the same time. What followed was a 2-hour, 5 mile exercise in patience and misanthropy. I was so happy to pass through the projects on the way back to the dock, because foot traffic mysteriously thins out there and everyone just sits on their stoop and yells to each other instead of getting in my way.

 At any rate, I made many little discoveries and had many insights which I will share here presently, starting now.

 1) I realized that if someone is going to choke me out with chain smoking AND block me from passing on the sidewalk, it's perfectly OK to step out into the street (checking traffic first), get in front of them and fart enthusiastically, knowing full well it's going to be awful. One of those ones that feels HOT, and you just know it's like an open diaper pail on a summer day behind you. I learned that about myself. I WILL even the odds with my ass if annoyed.

2)  I should not be able to smell a European guy's perfume (that shit was way to flowery to be cologne) from across the street.

3)  When you're a 5 foot tall man who weighs 95 lbs, do not try to lock eyes with a larger stranger and try to force him to yield and step in the gutter when walking in opposite directions. One, as you discovered, inertia is not in your favor, two, if I move half out of your way and you do not do the same, you are going to bump shoulders with me and three, when you shot across the sidewalk like a watermelon seed squeezed between two fingers, you had it coming, and I said I was sorry.

4). Don't take your toddlers out for walkies on a Brooklyn sidewalk for fuck's sake. Leashes are for dogs. Further, I've seen this a few times here and at home, and it's always mothers with bowl haircuts who look like Moe from the Three Stooges, but with dead eyes.

5). Eastern Europeans are a lot less concerned with skin cancer than we are, apparently. I saw many irregularly-margined raisin-sized moles on people's faces, and they were invariably speaking with slavic accents. Goddamn, someone please donate a tub of Compound W to the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn.

6). I hate, hate, hate being impolite in public. I will take a lot of shit before breaking decorum. Just one of those things about me, I guess. Some environmental group had a LOT of canvassers out today, and they must be holding family members hostage or something, because these guys (male, poorly dressed, hipsters) were persistent.  I reserve the right to go from politely un-engageable to politely dismissive to coldly aloof to actively hostile in the face of having my personal space invaded. I actually said "Fuck off, pal" loudly... and then was secretly shamed for having done so. My mom would NOT be proud of the inadvertent public F bomb.

Friday, March 8, 2013

ding dong, the witch is dead

So Hugo Chavez is dead. The oil trade is going to be interesting to watch in all this. I'm certainly curious as to how this is going to work out in terms of the impact on oil supply.

 For those of you not in the know, Chavez periodically nationalized the oil infrastructure in Venezuela- taking equipment they wanted from the foreigners who owned equipment working in Venezuela, such as ships, supply vessels, equipment yards, etc. Several larger oil majors and distributors got seriously screwed- Chevron, Seacor and ExxonMobil come to mind almost immediately. Essentially, after being invited to bid on oilfield and service contracts in refineries, exploration and field support, Chavez' regime would periodically just take everyone's equipment and expel the workers who were, you know, working. This had a predictable effect on investment, of which there is little, being limited to only what foreign interests can afford to write off in a single year.

     Now couple that issue with this: Chavez also set price controls on fuel sales inside his own country- this could be done by eliminating maintenance on equipment (refineries and supply chain assets require massive amounts of maintenance, being insanely capital-intensive) and rolling those funds into fuel subsidies for his people.  The end result? Cheap gas and a popular regime.
     Now, in my home state of Massachusetts, one of the last generation of the Kennedy family, Young Joe, who was famous for never killing his girlfriends unlike Teddy and JFK jr, partnered up with Chavez to provide discounted heating oil for the lower and lower middle class Americans who were in the know. Citizen's energy essentially took some of the cheap subsidized oil away from those greedy, indulgent idle rich Venezuelans and used it to ensure that our less-advantaged citizens could devote more income to having the latest version Iphone, expensive sneakers and other important critical items like spinning rims.

  So with Chavez and his radical leftist regime dead, what will happen to the cheap cheap oil?  If you're a Massachusetts resident working with a limited budget and have experienced this year's many snowfalls and cold weather, this leaves a great deal of anxiety- how the hell will you afford an iPhone 6 AND a new Michael Kors purse if you have to pay your own heating bill too? Those fucking bags are like $400.

 No, seriously, it's nice that some folks had cheap oil. It's not so nice that they got it because a couple of million poor pricks 5,000 miles to the south live in shacks with mud floors in order to pay for your oil. Any argument to the contrary assumes that it's OK to redistribute wealth from people living in abject poverty to those living without fear of cholera and other fun things that kill you via making you shit yourself to death.

             What else can I do but joke about something so shameful?

In the meanwhile, Joe Kennedy must be missing the familiar feeling of having Chavez elbow-deep having a giggle, but we're going to see legacy problems in Venezuela now. No one has invested in their refineries, everyone's going to be afraid to lease or charter equipment, or God forbid, engage in service contracts in the oilfields there... it's going to be business as usual on some fronts, but there will be a need for rapid contraction of Venezuela's production in order to ensure longevity of their only cash cow, which spells even more trouble for Jose Publico 

 In the meanwhile, Joe Kennedy may have to go find a new pimp daddy.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


All good things are going on here at HAWSEPIPER's floating global HQ/floating brothel.

   I've been here for a week this tour, and up until today it's been nonstop work... well, not nonstop, but consistently busy with no more than 8 hours between jobs. Humming along, I guess you could say. Today saw us get a break, which was appreciated and needed- time to lick our wounds, cook a real hot meal, get some groceries and perform the clerical ablutions necessary to keep a floating gas tank legal. Many trees gave their lives today so that our binders of licenses and certificates could bulge and be fruitful and currently dated, too.

        In the meanwhile, our Navy continues to dig up long-dead horses for beating purposes. Word is that the Holy Innocents are spending 1.4 billion on 4 more Littoral Combat ships- the aluminum ones that can't even make an 800-mile voyage without breaking down? Yeah, those ones. The abysmally-performing two prototypes were so expensive that I guess they want 4 more in order to hide the fact that they're so shoddily built that they can't actually be released into a fleet for independent service. Thank God it's 1988 and we still have a Cold War to justify building these abortions. Honestly, when is the last time we fought someone armed with any tech made after WWII?

 But that's all stuff truly outside my wheelhouse. Closer to home, I'm enjoying the hell out of the fact that our local gourmet grocery store reopened after months of renovation from Hurricane Sandy. I finally could get a decent baguette and some high-end olive oil so that we could have some real Hors d'oeuvres (Take THAT, spellcheck!) here on board, and now we're all full and later, probably incontinent, too.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Hey, so how come our liberal citizens scream bloody murder about why we should have the right to end our lives voluntarily when ill, but when ill people commit suicide by gun, it's an 'avoidable tragedy' and gets included in gun-violence statistics? Is it because of the cleanup? Unless you've prepositioned a cork and a rubber sheet, there's no such thing as death with dignity anyhow. It is what it is.