Monday, August 24, 2015

Ta Ta For Now

Well, home tomorrow. That went by pretty fast.

 Enjoying my last few hours of sobriety and respectability.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

should I be surprised?

Man, what the fuck happened to Yahoo?

       I used to keep Yahoo as my home page, as my primary email address has always been there. I've had the same email address since 1996. I used to be able to get a quick read of some headlines and a sampling of what's happening in the news before I signed in each day.

 Now when Yahoo comes up I cringe. It's all clickbait and celebrity bullshit. Look, Kim Karhoozits has a nice set of bombs and her ass it pretty good too, but she's fucking retarded, but every other Yahoo headline is about her fucking family. This is driven by the same women's demographic that results in the find magazine selection available at the conveyor belt at your local grocery store.

 2 soldiers wrestled an armed terrorist and disarmed him on a train in Belgium. I had to search for that story, because the headline was all about how some other black girl who sings, or dances, or whatever, I don't even really know who she is, but with a nice ass was having her wax likeness at a museum molested.
    When the apocalypse comes, I'm going to burn readers of People magazine for fuel, and eat readers of Cosmo, and what will come out 12 hours later are readers of Yahoo.

Friday, August 21, 2015

bragging via osmosis

Helion Energy is starting another round of funding on their next nuclear fusion reactor.


         It's a far cry from the last generation of fusion experiments, and Helion's approach is the closest yet to break-even territory- they're anticipating the next generation reactor (they rebuild every 2 years) will be the model for unitized commercial reactors. 

 This is exciting stuff, and dovetails nicely with my own philosophical approach when it comes to cheap clean energy- it will come when it is economically feasible, but it's inevitable. This is a good thing.

      My dad always got into funky shit at work. When he swallowed the anchor and gave up going to sea, he was at the time in the middle of a teardown with the submarine "Alvin," which would later on go on to find the TITANIC. This was a few years after he was on the crash design crew that reconfigured the Alvin to hunt down a missing nuclear bomb, something that certainly made the news, but before my time.

 Alvin is owned by the Navy, but operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, which is itself part of MIT. When my dad's health was first starting to decline, when I was a toddler, he transferred to Boston, to work in MIT's magnet lab on ALCATOR , an early  nuclear fusion reactor.

 Seriously, click on the link. Thing looks like a sci-fi put up job, but it's real. If only the bleeding hearts knew that not only is MIT in the heart of Communist Cambridge, MA, the campus is powered by a fission reactor, and has a fusion reactor sitting there just down the road from Harvard, where they damn near canonize Saint Che Guevara.

At any rate, my father's patient description of what he was doing at work always fascinated me. The only time I think I ever saw my father disappointed in me was when I turned down the navy's offer for a shot at their their nuclear power school in Charleston. I had it in my head at the time to be more Jacques Cousteau, less Robert Oppenheimer.  In intervening years, I had room for regrets there.

 At any rate, I'm really looking forward to watching what Helion does.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Channel fever strikes!

5 days to go, suddenly I don't wanna be here anymore.

So here's this, anyhow:

Monday, August 17, 2015

worth it

I made my best burritos with homemade tortillas again. They go down grateful, but hot as hell. We gonna be walking like cowboys here on the Big Metal Monastery tomorrow.

    Last time, I made 'em so hot that my second man farted in his sleep and set off the carbon monoxide detector. I added a little more sour cream this time to quench the flames a bit.

 Here's some nice Brazilian girls for you to look at while I'm loading oil tonight. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015

June 1998

For 8 years, I jumped around New England during the summer for work. Four of those years I was up in the Bay of Fundy, in Maine, up on the Canadian maritime border. I was working at my university's biologic field station, a remote research facility dedicated mostly to marine biology. Loved that job. I lived in a cabin with no running water. But we had a fridge for beer, so it was fantastic.
      I also worked on a cranberry bog, a cranberry farm on the edge of  Cape Cod. Also on Cape Cod, I worked at the Marine Biological Laboratory, pretty much the Graceland of marine biology.

 In June 1998 I started working 100+ hour weeks, something I continued to do for a long time, and still periodically end up doing.

 At that time I was in south Florida, only about 80 miles from where I am today, in fact. I was living in a trailer, building up a tilapia farm on the edge of the Everglades. Fish farming has been an interest of mine for a long time, and this was my first job in the industry. It was pretty rough. You know the Everglades is pretty inhospitable in June. I hated the job. My nearest neighbor was 8 miles away, I had no car, and an alligator ate my dog.
        No shit, I had a guard dog, a Rottweiler, to patrol the place at night, and one night he got bit by a water moccasin, which slowed him down, and I got him comfortable in his dog bed under the trailer that night (he was too flea ridden to bring inside), set up his fan (he had a box fan under there to keep him cool) and went to bed. Next morning there were drag marks and blood down at the water's edge, and no dog. 2 days later I was back in Boston.
        I got my job back at the lab as a technician doing neurological research on chemical detection, found an apartment near the lab, and also got my job back on the cranberry farm.
  At that point, Monday to Friday, I worked 4am to 7am at the lab, drove my piece of shit truck to the farm, about 45 minutes away, worked 8am-4pm on the farm, then went back to the lab and worked from 5:30pm to 10pm. On Saturday, I would get up at 5am, drive the hour or so to my old hometown, and go lobstering, which usually ran from 6am to 4pm. THEN I'd stay at my mom's, and go out with friends on Saturday night, but I'd run out of energy before they did, so my parents kept my bedroom intact, and I'd sleep there a good 12 hours before returning to my home on Cape Cod on Sunday afternoon.

    Driving while tired is so damn dangerous. Falling asleep at the wheel was a daily hazard. One time I got pulled over near the cranberry bog. The cop did NOT like my look, that's for sure. At that time I had hair down almost to my waist, and since I was busting ass, if it wasn't in a ponytail, it usually looked like I combed my hair with a firecracker. When the cop asked what I was doing speeding on the back roads, I said I was on my way to so-and-so's cranberry bog. Cop asked if I worked there, I said yup, so he asked me about the parking sticker for the lab. Dude did NOT believe me when I said I was a marine biologist. After he searched my truck for weed , he gave me a sobriety test. While I was walking heel-to-toe I started talking to him about how I was modeling how lobsters integrate sensory data between chemical and current flow detection, and how we were using my data to build an autonomous mine-sniffing robot that could home in on the chemical smell of explosives underwater and remotely detonate sea mines. I convinced the guy anyhow, even if I was yawning the whole time.   After that I used to wave to him and beep my horn when I passed him, and he'd wave back. I saw him at Dunkin Donuts a few times, and he pointed me out and said I was a marine biologist to whoever would listen. Made me awful proud. He was the first person who called me by my title.

    Every young man should have that kind of schedule and broad-base of experience, in my opinion. I really liked what I was doing, and, if I was always pressed for time, I was doing almost all stuff I really liked doing, and while the money sucked mostly, who gets to do everything they like to do all the time and get paid for it? Being basically happy made a demanding schedule tolerable.

 When I finally went to grad school, my schedule slowed down to just school and fishing on weekends. I'd drive the 2 hours back to my mom's house and fish on Saturday, go back to Rhode Island where I had my house, and that was it. I hated it from day one, and really fell in love with fishing when I realized that I was living my life for the anticipation of going fishing on Saturday.

 No shit, the day I moved out of my house in RI, I had a job as a sternman on a lobster boat in my old hometown 2 hours later.  I was happier as a pig in shit to be back working on the water, and at only 70 hours a week, I felt like I had all kinds of free time.

 At any rate, I blame that time in my life for my bad attitude about entitlements. An able-bodied person who works less than 70-75 hours a week is pretty fucking lucky, to me. A person who complains about money and *only* works 40 hours a week prolly ought to keep their bum ass complaints to themselves. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dear Maryland: Eat a Dick

Today's invitation to dine upon a dong goes out to the State of Maryland, who for some reason wants my money, and presumably my precious seed, too.

 While I was home a few weeks ago, I got a letter that had been sent to my former residence in Massachusetts, and forwarded to my current residence in south FL. For some reason, the state of Maryland decided that I owed them $5000 for back taxes in 2009.

 I have never lived in Maryland.

           I do work for a company based out of Baltimore, so that's how that happened. I can understand a SNAFU. It's the .gov, after all, where those who shine not so brightly can find a job and a teat to suckle on. No, what pissed me off happened later.

      I called and explained, and the nice lady on the phone said that if I sent them my income tax return from that year, it could get straightened out. I don't love the idea of giving out my tax return to folks who don't need it, but I like spending money even less, so I bitched (of course) and agreed to do so. Then the nice lady mentions that even though I may not have needed to pay the state, I may have to pay a penalty, as I was late responding.

 Well fuck me with a fencepost, but they sent the damn letter to the wrong address. I don't live in MA, I explained, and the lady, who obviously empathized with me, agreed, and said she assumed that it would all get straightened out, but it wasn't something she could fix, and whoever looked at my return would have to make that call.
Pictured: Logo of the Maryland Department of Revenue

 Well, I didn't fuss at her. But I did say that it was insane that I would be expected to provide address change information to a state where I don't even live. Should I contact Arizona, too? I once had a layover there in a flight, and maybe they want a taste too.

 Anyhow, I did cuss once, and apologized for it. I think I said "you know, that's some messed up shit."  And the nice lady agreed, and said they'd do their best to handle it.

 I don't know how all you shoemakers deal with this shit day in day out. There's a reason why I work on the water and away from crap like this on a daily basis. I just don't have the patience.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Be not afraid

One of the only virtues of Facebook is that occasionally it does help you keep in touch with folks who otherwise might not be on your mind every day.

 My childhood was spent in an insular neighborhood on a suburban/rural peninsula south of Boston. One of those places where parents kicked the kids outside until the streetlights come on. My parents house DID have locks, but the keys were lost for like 20 years at one point. That's the kind of place it was and really, still mostly is.

    So it was with a heavy heart I read on Facebook that Mrs. Brooks passed away.

 My best friend growing up was one of nine kids. No shit, he had 8 brothers and sisters. We had other neighbors with 6 or 7 kids, (Irish Catholic neighborhood, obviously), and some families in my church had 13 and even 15 kids, but the Brooks' were just a couple doors down. Our parents were tight, close friends, which meant I spent a lot of time in their house.

     As my father got progressively more ill, he and Mr. Brooks mostly just saw each other at church and talked quite a bit. Before my dad passed on, my brother and I walked down the street and poked our heads in the Brooks' house, let them know my dad's time was up, and they came up the street to say goodbye just a half hour or so before my dad passed, and were exceptionally kind, as always, to my mom in the days after that.

  So Mrs. Brooks passed away yesterday, and it was expected. Brain cancer, and with the miracle of modern medicine, she enjoyed life to the end, including spending a weekend getawayup in New Hampshire with the whole family just a week or so before she passed.

 I can't help but think, though, of how unfair it is. A couple, married just about 50 years, raises 9 good kids, have, God, I dunno, a couple dozen grandkids?  But I mean, a tight, tightknit couple, they did it right, a rich life full of love, but at the moment of parting, is it possible to be truly grateful to God for the gifts of a good life, when your foundation has been cut out from under you?

 I didn't feel too grateful to God when my dad passed on, despite him living 20+ years longer than any doctor ever predicted. It took a while for that perspective to come back to me. I remember the sweet, beautiful, and therefore terrible words my mother said when she said goodbye, the words of a person gifted with an unbreakable faith, which she and my dad shared.  And I can only hope that Mr. Books feels as my mom did, and is able to remember the gift of the time together that they did have.

 I hope, in what I also hope is the far, far future, I am able to face my own end as Mrs Brooks and my dad did. To draw the family in closer, to be encircled by them, to exclude the extraneous, and to be a source of love and happiness, as well as to be pleased to receive the same.

 Anyways, I don't really know where I'm going with this. I'm saddened for my friends, but also very aware of how proud they must all be to have had the mother they did.

Monday, August 10, 2015

big news!

Everyone shut up a minute! I have a troll!

 Yeah, someone's commented here a couple of times now, saying inane shit. Awesome. I deleted one today, because even for my troll, it was boring, and not really insulting.

 Dear Troll: If you're reading this, up your game, dingleberry. I'd rather feel insulted than bored. Fetch your clutching pearls and keep your fainting couch nearby. You're gonna need it. Also, thanks for reading.

This is Red, my spirit guide. 

some days

We've all had those days.

    Yesterday, in a word, sucked.

     Chinese container ship. Taking a slightly bigger than average load of oil and diesel.

 Well, fuck me gently with a chainsaw, the US Coast Guard is on the ship, cayying out a Port State Control inspection.

 When Uncle Sugar's Sea Scouts are on the scene, everything is FUCKED. They're doing an important job, keeping everyone honest and safe, but there's no feedback loop here, so when we get moored to the ship, we have to sit and warm our thumbs in our own exhaust, sometimes for hours before we start to work. So, after a while, the frantic phone calls are coming in, and if we're carrying oil for more than one ship, the next ship either has to wait or not have oil, which can make everyone cranky when you're talking about tens of thousands of dollars in penalty time when a thirsty ship goes off-hire.

 So everyone's cranky now, including yours truly. When, four hours later, the ship's crew finally shows up, it's a hot mess. No one speaks english, and, early on in an oil transfer, that's sort of OK. Eventually before we start actually moving oil, I've got to touch base with an English speaker to hash out the details in a pre-transfer conference, but while we're passing papers and hooking up oil hoses, pantomime works fine. Crane move commands are supposed to be universal, although most non-American sailors don't know the signals (and many Americans don't either, sadly, but some do), and hooking up the hoses isn't supposed to take 90 minutes. Maybe 20. But today it was 90.

 OK, not every ship has the same size pipe connections. We have reducers that allow us to connect to about any manifold connection out there. So these guys are trying hard to be efficient. They send me down a diagram of the connections with measurements for EVERYTHING. In millimeters.
 I've got to swallow my pride here. I'm actually REALLY good, for an American, at using the metric system. Years of practice as a scientist in my past career iteration. But these guys are sending me measurements in millimeters for every dimension of their diesel and black oil connections, none of which match the one criteria I need to know- the internal dimension of the connection flange. I've got everything else out there. They even mention the grade of steel that the damn thing's made of, and the manufacturer's name. But not the one thing I need. So I eyeball it, grab a 3"X4" reducer for the diesel, (a little reducer weighing about 25lbs), and hang it off the #1 hook of my crane, which also is holding the end of the diesel hose, and I swing that up to the ship, about 50ft overhead.

     After  a minute or two, the frustrated Chinamen are yelling at me in their language, that they need a reducer. I point literally 18 inches over their heads, to the #1 hook on the crane, where the reducer is still hanging. They point right back at me. I pantomime EVERYTHING, pointing at my eyes, then overhead, trying to get them to look up. Nothing. Guys are just as dumb as shit. They are now waving arms and yelling back at me. Their arms, magically, are passing withing inches of the reducer, which is slowly swinging just over their heads in a slow arc.

 Anyways I have had enough. I don't like being yelled at in English, and if I want to get yelled at in a foreign language, I'll just go home and fight with my wife. I step over to the crane controls, drop the hook about a foot, and let the reducer bonk the hardhat right off the main asshole's head. Perfect shot. His hard hat drops the 50ft or so to my deck, cracks in half like an egg, and I got it just right- he barely felt it. But the yelling was, I'm pretty sure, the Chinese word for "SHIT!" I point up at the reducer again. The guys, no apology, connect the reducer and eventually my hose.

 So, dispite a 4 hour delay, the crew of this ship were so retarded that they managed to delay us another 3 extra hours, so we were 7 hours late coming to the next ship in our queue. This was a rotten old chemical ship at the end of her life, so they weren't on a big money charter, and apparently could wait. That job went well, but we missed the tide for our next load, so there's ANOTHER 5 hour delay while I'm sitting here, typing this, waiting for the tide to turn and we can continue on to our next job.

 Well, fuck it, tomorrow's the halfway point of this tour.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Walking in Brooklyn again

Well, yesterday I did another walk in Brooklyn. As it was working hours on a Wednesday, I had the chance to people watch all the folks who, like me, didn't have to be working at 10AM on a Wednesday. It was... how do I say it delicately? It was NOT a day to watch the beautiful people. It was me and the Real Housewives of Brooklyn again.

Pictured. Three Brooklyn ladies, 2015

      Well, I kept an open mind, anyhow, but even though it was in the high 80's and sunny, I chose to walk back through a residential neighborhood so I would have more space and less people to look at on the way back home.

 Also, while unrelated, here's a great picture for you.

Libertarian Owl is Libertarian

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

report from the scene

First week aboard: zero dead, zero maimed. It was touch and go for a while, though.

Monday, August 3, 2015

right in the feels

So, my last post hurt some poor delicate flower's little fee-fees enough that they were inspired to write a comment goofing on my disdain for the girlish husbands of Brooklyn.

 "Of course, the wimpy husbands will spend the night with the women with bad haircuts (guess where the kids came from). While macho boy goes to bed with miss Rosey Palm, once again."

 I suspect that was a guy who commented, also. Maybe a troll, maybe serious. Doesn't matter much, and it's funny either way. It inspired me to try to describe why I felt an instinctual revulsion for what I saw.

      I like seeing fathers interact with their kids. I think that's the best thing in the world for both fathers and kids, so I hesitated to goof on seeing couples together with their families. 2-parent households are increasingly rare, so it wasn't like I blindly ignored that I was looking at something positive.

 It's the guys that made me sad. The women, simply by being unfeminine, some of them, gave off an aura of masculinity that eclipsed that of their men. And that's not good for the men.

 Masculinity as it is known and quietly prized by everyone (when no one is looking, anyhow) is on the wane, and this is bad. To describe what I saw, picture two post-menopausal women, one with a haircut like Moe from the three stooges, and the other with a patchy beard that looks like the ass of a dog with mange. Moe-hair is the woman, the dog's ass is a guy, but you have to get within about 10 feet of them to really see which is which, and it turns out they're both in their mid-30's, not mid 50's.

 Anyhow, there's an awful lot of that on my preferred walking route.

   So someone got hurt by my comments, and tried to goof on me for being celibate at work (not much choice, but hey I get paid well), and being macho but not being able to go home to a Moe-haired post-menopausal-looking woman who has broader shoulders and more upper-body-mass than I do.

 If that's my commenters' idea of a good time, they're welcome to it, and I'm happy to wait extended periods to go home to Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife, who has never been mistaken for a small ugly dude.

 But poor choice as to where to make a stand, anonymous newfriend. Trying to make me ashamed by goofing on my for being masculine and for not having access to pussy that, frankly, no masculine man would want?  Nah, that's a poor place to try to goof on me. Aside from attempting to denying me agency by calling me 'macho boy' , it also speaks to anon's view of woman as being valuable only as a sex object, which is also shitty.

 Anyhow, this is exactly the sort of comment that would be left by one of the poor pricks I was writing about. Guys who don't know enough about masculine dignity to be ashamed to have a hissy fit, and try to crab-basket a man they disagree with, which is exactly how women argue by proxy. It say to me that I am right to acknowledge an instinctive distaste for such a person. Make fun of me for not being able to get laid, absolutely, but to try to goof on me for being happily a guy? That's pathetic.

 Of course, if it was a woman who fits the model, well, the comment fits the model too. Which makes me very happy I married a woman from 6,000 miles south of Brooklyn, even if I won't see her for another 3 weeks.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Tour report: walking in Brooklyn

My favorite lay berth in Brooklyn is in Red Hook. It's a good place for us to be tucked away when we're not working- there's shore access, stores, and downtown is just a few miles' walk, which means that there's motivation to walk.

 I'm a big walker, anyhow. It's where I get much of my deep thinking done, as my bathroom here on the Big Metal Monestary isn't as comfortable, perhaps, as it should be for deep thinkin.'

 Anyhow, today's walk left only some vague impressions on me. First, it's hot as hell, but early in the day it's not so bad. Really, all I can say about the walk today is that there are a lot of really wimpy, effeminate husbands pushing strollers in Brooklyn while their pasty wives with their shitty boy's haircuts talk on the phone.  Kinda made me sad.

 That and there was a whole lot of tiny ancient asian ladies collecting cans. Seriously, what's up with that? I remember that from Boston, too.