Monday, August 31, 2020

The hammer-to-head method

 So after a few days on board, and in between cargoes, I felt more than a little put out when I got the call to pack my shit and move for a few days on a temporary transfer. 

 I basically went to our largest bunker barges, which I have never operated (I did spend 2 weeks on one 10 or so years ago, though, when it was just a seagoing barge), filling in for a crewman who had to go home. It's my job to go where the company tells me, after all. I had a little mild butthurt, in that we have guys who have done fuck all or next to fuck all for the past 6 months who got to continue dicking off while I was continuing to work, but with time came a moment's grace where I realized that with the slowdown, I better be grateful to be working, and also grateful for the opportunity to make myself useful.  It's like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer; it just feels so delightful when you stop. 

 It was busy, it was hot, and I am happy it ended. I've since returned to the HQ-in-exile, and wonder of wonders, my days away did great things for my attitude. I'm far more grateful to be here and standing by for cargo orders than I was. The work will come. We're at the tail (ish) end of the summer slowdown, and with Sep 1 approaching, warehouses in the US will begin stocking up on cheap crap from China, although I'm sure it might not be in the volume we had last year, but even so, the container ships will be making more port calls here in the fall than they did in the summer, God willing. 

I'm approaching the halfway point of this voyage already. Not much opportunity for shore calls, sadly, but the mornings are cooling off, becoming pleasant. We're coming into the best time of year in the northeast. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

1 week down

 First week at work has passed. It was a weird mix. First few days were pretty nice. No cargo, did maintenance, had a couple of little projects and got them done. I got transferred to our largest bunker barge for a few days, though, and got my ass kicked. It was a real slog, not least because I didn't know where anything was, and everything, EVERYTHING was bigger and more challenging to deal with than on the current HQ. Having to spend 10 minutes trying to figure out how to turn on the floodlights while worrying about sucking air on an almost-empty cargo tank, things like that, office calling, ship calling, things like that, the stresses are individually small, but additive. 

 Oh, there was a breaker panel in the generator room, behind the thermal oil cargo heater where there was no reason to be or to look. I found them, kicked the lights on, jogged up forward to the tanks being pumped, swung the valves shut just in time, then promptly vomited, since it was 90 degrees out and no wind and literally running around while overheated is stupid. Luckily, I had practice, since I had barfed the watch before, too, for being overheated. Unfamiliarity led to a lot of extra moving around. 

 So after that, I was awful happy to return back to the HQ-in-exile. After rehydrating and actually eating a meal, I found that I lost a pound a day, since I was too nauseous to eat more than an avocado and 2 hard-boiled eggs a day. Barfing up a bellyful of water was a loss each time, for sure. I sweated through my clothes so much that I think I peed once a day over there. The guys regularly assigned there go through the same shit, I'm sure, but with familiarity comes an economy of movement, since they not only know where things are, they also know the time sequences and can anticipate where they need to be. 

 At any rate, as the saying goes, the best part about hitting yourself on the head with a hammer is when you stop.  Getting back to the HQ was a treat, and today I am feeling much better. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Mixed feelings at crew change

 It was a heck of a time home. Drama, action, excitement, illness, productivity... all in there. I lost a lot of time just recovering from strep throat, which was odd, as I recall being younger and just muscling through it while on antibiotics, but needs must, I supposed, and I didn't have need. I actually was pretty productive. Got some projects done- bought a new car, and a lovely surprise when my AC unit crapped out, too, so at well over $4,000 that was a nasty shock, and not so timely. But I also got a good shipment of wood boards in, so I had stuff to play with. I built a barn door for the Mrs., who wanted a barn door to block off the hallway between my bedroom and master bath, so she got what she wanted, and I got to learn how to do something new- the door was easy. Bolting in the steel track was more work than anything else, mostly because I was working alone. Anyhow, got it all in. More than anything else, though, Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife and I were glued together at the hip, near enough. We had a lot of time together. I don't think she likes seeing me sick or weak- it's not something she's used to seeing, so she was helicoptering around me, and yet we had a good time, and once I was back up to speed, a great time. 

         the night before crew change, I got hit hard by a sense of loss. After so much time with my family, and seeing some projects done (I cleaned and reorganized my shop, which was a project in itself) I felt very reluctant to leave- moreso than usual. I know things at work are unsettled as we try to get through these odd times, and that's part of it, but I suppose I got a more candid look about what I give up to do what I do- time. Lost time. 

We went to bed about 10:30pm, and I didn't sleep much, just held on to my wife. I was up at 4 to shower, and took a cab to the airport so my wife could sleep. 

 As often happens, by the time I'm in the air, I feel better. 


Monday, August 10, 2020

Yes! I have strep throat!

 It's strange times indeed when I am relieved and gratified to have strep throat. 

 Yesterday morning I started running a fever and getting a sore throat. By last night I had what felt like a golf ball in my throat and was sucking down tylenol to keep the fever under 101. 

 I went to the doctor today. Of course I got tested for corona, fever and sore throat fit in with that, but I also tested positive for strep bacteria in my tonsils. So I have tonsilitis rather than Covid, which is a relief. 

 It's also killed my plans, but what can you do? losing 2 days rather than 2 weeks is a victory.