Sunday, January 26, 2020

I'm alive!

It's been a few weeks since I posted, and honestly, I didn't miss it. I guess I really am winding down here.

   I got to go home for a few weeks, and I'm back at work again now. Much has happened, not much of it newsworthy. Going home was good, a touch stressful at times. Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife got promoted at work, which is welcome news for her, as she wasn't overly enamored of her supervisor, but turns out her employer wasn't overly enamored of her supervisor neither, and now she's much happier. It was hard to focus on anything more than the mundane when my wife was coming home so stressed all the time.  We completed several major projects at home, which is always rewarding, and my son needed me to help resolve a bunch of things, which left little time for relaxing.

 Well, I got a bunch of shit done, and I had a little time to spend in my shop, 2 afternoons only this time, but it was enough to get some things done at least. After that, there wasn't time for much else, couple of little projects at home, that's about it, and back to work.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

What does Armageddon smell like?

Funny thing, I didn't decide to quit blogging, just came to understand that I didn't need to do it anymore. This place was my outlet for stress and also for sharing some of the cool things I get to see and do... and the past few weeks I've been staying away from the kulturekampf as much as I can, and it's paying off. I feel a touch disconnected, but that's not a bad thing. I've been doing things that normal fools do, and it's kind of been nice. No stressing, no arguing... well, less of those things, anyhow. The people we surround ourselves with have such a strong impact on us, and for the past number of years at work, I've been extremely fortunate to have worked with people that did a great job and were pleasant to live with.  I was so lucky in that regard that it happened twice, where we captured lightning in a bottle with our junior man. Third time... not the charm.
I think that's part of why I have not been motivated to write or create. Perhaps I've grown too susceptible to  influence by my shipmates, and being forced to take on a coworker who isn't so able to do the co part of the work has been a drain on our energy.
 I've gotten soft. I never wanted to be a sea-daddy, and refused, threatened to quit over it. They called my bluff, and I folded. So despite knowing I am a shit sea-daddy, and having done my best, they salted the wounds and gave me the man I didn't want to train as a subordinate. I lack the energy, enthusiasm and grace to live 24/7 with a strange man and teach him too. Just not built for that. As I do, I worry I didn't prepare him enough to be a tankerman. So far, he's an acceptable tankerman, but things that can't be taught- leadership, decisiveness... not there. Maybe with time. Thing about being a tankerman, you're expected to be an experienced seaman, and until recently, at a minimum rated as Able Bodied (experienced in seamanship and able to pass a proficiency exam on paper and also by demonstrating marlinespike seamanship) by the coast guard.  I sometimes lose my temper when a mariner can't splice, box a compass or handle basic rigging.  Those are things that should prevent a man from being rated Able. Used to be, anyhow. Well, they're all things that can be taught, thankfully, but no,no, and fuck no I'd rather be lit on fire than stuck teaching that. And guess what I'm doing in my spare time these days?  

 Now, the rant isn't over. Not by a sight.

     I tend to work 0600-1800, which generally means from 0500-0545 I'm up and available too if needed, and from 1800 to 2100ish, I'm also up if needed.  I want 8 hours to sleep, because ideally I need 7 to wake up refreshed and fully rested, like most any man in his mid 40's. I can survive on a lot less. 3-4 hours a night for a while, 5-6 for a few weeks for sure. But I don't want to.

   With regulatory changes in what type of oil that ships can burn having changed on January1, there's been some procedural changes in how oil companies fulfill fuel orders. 90% of ships are burning more expensive fuel, while some ships have scrubbing systems that clean their exhaust gas contents to remove some contaminates, which allows them to burn cheaper oil.
    During the transition months, oil companies are taking heavy, viscous and just nasty fuel oil and cutting it with ultra clean diesel to get it up to spec. This is done by blending the two types of fuel in specific ratios... well, specifically this is done by ME  blending the two fuel oils in specific ratios... the process and calculations for which my second man can't wrap his mind around despite a lot of effort on his part. So it goes. This means that if we're loading oil when I'm off watch, I get up to oversee the process. So there goes my rest schedule. It actually hasn't been bad, and it's gotten better with time, too, as Jan 1 approached. I was up about 3/4 of my nights on board in Nov/Dec.  The past few weeks, maybe just twice. Some of the oil companies are able to source good quality oil that doesn't need altering I guess. So I'm sleeping more...
...except for the other night, when SOMEONE decided to microwave fish at 3am.

 I'm sleeping soundly, which means that I'm aware on some level of changes in list and trim and the load on the generators, but definitely asleep. The stink of some sort of fishy smelling fish being cooked woke me up like a gunshot. I don't know why, it was nauseating and awful, and really, really pervasive, having worked its way into my room, with a tightly closed door and no common ventilation between the galley and my room.

 I grew up fishing, spent 20 years living and working with the stink of dead partially-rotten baitfish around me. Every car I owned smelled of fish until I was 30. That smell doesn't bother me.

 You microwave fish, it smells different. Wrong. It smells wrong. And my shipmate, a bachelor who in his oblivious habit of living his daily economy isn't used to thinking about others, overcooks a fucking piece of fish. In the microwave. And it smells horrid. Like a bible story. Like someone took a shit in an open grave and then poured rancid fish on top.

 Well, there wasn't much chance of sleeping any more so I got up, got dressed, had a nice yell at my 2nd man, and went about my day.

 The smell was there all day. I bleached and scrubbed the microwave first. I washed down the galley with lemon-scented soap after sanitizing it. I wiped down counters and the stove with  a halved lemon, even the steel eyes on the stove. Put the trash can outside and mopped the deck. The smell was gone... for a little while.  After I had started working, I had to spend a good 45 minutes outside. I walked back in... and fish. It stank of micowaved fish.
 Turns out that smell got into the sweatshirts and raingear hanging in the galley coathooks. They reeked. So I got some laundry going, and lit a really awful and choking incense stick that was in the junk drawer. I hate these things, they're so cloying that it's hard to breathe. I lit a second one, put them on opposite sides or the room and moved them about every few minutes. Like one of those unmarried middle-aged women we all know who do hippy pagan bullshit like burning sage saying they're eliminating bad juju or some such bullshit. Well, I'm here to tell you, I have a new sympathy for the multiple cat fake religion ladies. I smoked the shit out of that room trying to exorcise the demon of the microwave. I was getting asthma and I don't even have asthma. And in the end, I emerged victorious.
 Oh, not that the smell is gone. I ruined my sense of smell, burnt the hell out of my own nose. It's fine now.