Wednesday, January 27, 2021

unsatisfying inconclusion

 Well, I've been home a week. Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife is at work today, so I have shop time available. I've been working on our home office, which for some reason my wife insists on calling 'my' space, although I enjoy moving my laptop to the kitchen table and enjoying the sun and the access to the fridge. But regardless, I have an office space now. 

    In the shop I'm elbow-deep in a major redesign of my working space. The addition of some larger tools, a need for 220v electricity, and an uptick in my creative spark have caused chaos in what I think of as my REAL space at home. I'm currently building a giant storage cabinet- 6x8x 3 foot deep, to hold things I don't use everyday and that belong in a garage more than a shop space- lawnmower, pressure washer, assorted ladders, pole tools and the like. Along with that, I need to minimize my workbench and improve my fasteners and hand tool storage. 

   Odd thing, realizing I need LESS space in a workbench as I spend more time making things. I get far more use out of my assembly tables (3x3 and 4x4 tables on wheels) than my bench, which just gets used for heavy work and fine work.  I have two 8-foot benches, which will be reduced to just one 6-foot bench. Tool storage is still TBD. 

    Perhaps the most annoying thing is that nothing is finished. My office space, furniture  and hardware is on back order. I bought a murphy bed kit and tri-fold mattress so the office can also be a 2nd guest bedroom, and the murphy bed kit, rather than being a semi-functional bookshelf, is made to resemble a dresser or sideboard... and said hardware is backordered too. So my informal living room is also a storage space right now, with all the crap that was in the office when the office was a catch-all storage room. 

 It's all unsatisfying. And superficial stuff. 

 Behind the scenes, big drama unrelated to home maintenance. Covid, stress, infighting, death, taxes. Annoying shit, sadness, the less-wonderful aspects of life are intruding on our lives here. My wife and I have been handling it together, keeping the more negative shit at bay. I think we've been in the jacuzzi every afternoon or evening since I've gotten home. Working on my house, I've got lots of aches and pains, and working through less pleasant issues, stress headaches for both of us... which respond well to a good hour soak in 100-degree water. 

     Well, I'm half way through my time off. I will return to work next week for the February tour, which is nobody's favorite in my line of work but which comes with a salary, so that helps... and I've got a couple more days to work on my house, which is also nice. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

last night, last watch

 Home tomorrow, which is always exciting. And, wonder of wonders, no work tonight. We're at anchor. It's been a good 4-6 months since I had the night off on my last watch. Super grateful. 

 My wife had a horrible day today. Nothing earth shaking, just a bad day all around, set at a slow burn so I had to be in contact ALL DAY.  Is it selfish of me to say that I miss the days where I could have a sea passage and get a couple of days off from worrying about her? On one hand, I am grateful I was involved in today and was there for her. On the other, I'm exhausted, and if I had a regular work day today instead of being at anchor, I'd be distracted and, well, fucked. 

   My wife doesn't need me to go about her daily economy. Of course I worry, I mean, we all do. And watching your spouse have a particularly stressful and shitty day when you can do fuck all about it is never nice. 

 Well, heck with it, I'll be there tomorrow. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Honey, Vinegar and me.

 Tonight's cargo discharge was a frustrating one. 

       The ship is owned by the largest shipowning company in the world. They're so big that they own the ship, the terminal we were at, and also the oil company we were carrying fuel for. 

           Tonight kicked my ass, or maybe it's better to say that my response to tonight's events kicked my ass. I am hoarse from a LOT of yelling. My voice is breaking like a 12-year old's at anything louder than a whisper at the moment. 

       It was one of the assistant engineers on the ship in question. 

           Now, it's not nice to say, but the caste system is still very much in play aboard many  ships that have all-Indian officers. It's enough of an issue that the International Maritime Organization, the UN's excuse for having conferences in the most beautiful places in the world twice a year, has devoted time and some of their fun money at it... and I'm not going to go into it and get called a racist, but when I see it, I don't like it. I don't see much further through a brick wall as the next man, but I see a bully, truth is I want to throw a shackle at his head. 

     So after witnessing a mixed crew of Indian/Pakistani (I don't know) crew getting shat upon from a great height, I was less inclined to be cooperative than I normally am. Oh, I have a job to do, and I'm not going to do anything unsafe or illegal, but after more years than I like to think about, I know the law where it comes to my trade, and I know the exact words on the contract between the ship and the HQ. 

 Let's just say I said 'no' a lot. And that I was very picky. And when the engineer in question wanted to use my crane to help him move a couple hundred pounds of oil transfer hose, I was not disappointed to tell him that my responsibility is to get my hose to his deck edge and only that.  Normally I like using our big cargo crane. I'm a whiz with that thing, and being immature, I like using big toys. But hell no. 

 You know that feeling like when you meet someone with just an absolutely punchable face, someone you immediately dislike for no reason?  Imagine that feeling but you've also seen them being a gigantic asshole to their shipmates too. 

    So I was in an awfully foul mood all night, and it wasn't until we sailed after the job was done that I realized that I need to take ownership of that feeling of residual anger and annoyance. Once I registered that the guy was a donkey, any emotional issues related to that are all on me. There was no reason for me to get pissed off enough that one d-bag could ruin my night. Why give that much of myself? 

 Anyways, while we were sailing off, I had my workboots half-off, unlaced and just on my feet loosely, as my feet were sore, and I realized I had left about 5 gallons of used motor oil from the last oil change on one of my generators, and it was sitting in a big, shallow pan. I ran out, unlaced boots, and marched that big, ungainly pan over to the waste oil barrel, and promptly dumped about a quart of motor oil DIRECTLY into one of my boots. And on my foot, and leg, too, of course. And the generator house deck. 

    By the time we were at the anchorage to drop the hook, to await the next job, I had cleaned up, but the oil in my boot was enough to shock me out of my mad-on. Like stepping on a banana peel, I guess, I feel better now. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

grubbed up, tied up

After a busy week, we had a rare thing happen: shore access. With about 30 hours between jobs, I used up some goodwill and got our towing dispatcher to put us at a lay berth rather than sit out in the middle of the harbor on a mooring for the intervening period. 

    Shore access used to be a lot more common. These days we end up out in the middle of New York harbor or tucked in a corner somewhere in Port Elizabeth NJ. No shore access either way. 

    B and I used the time to go to BJ's and stock up on heavy crap- bulk stuff. A fortunate tide made it possible to get our haul onboard very easily, with just maybe 10' of lift- a good thing for a degenerate canned soda and energy drink junkie like me. So, as a thank you to B for driving us, while he was sleeping this morning, I went out and got him some fresh bagels. Of all the negatives to being in New York on any given day, the bagels and the pizza are pretty amazing. Being on a healthy eating kick again now that the holidays are over, I will be grumbling into my zucchini and salad, bagel-less, though. 

 Today is a day for maintenance, since we both have shore access AND have a little time. While it's lunch time now, we've had engineers coming and going, and I've been doing oil changes and running around with a grease gun all morning. At midnight tonight, we'll be headed out for another load. 

 I'm not sure what will happen in the short term with our workload- Christmas is over, and the unprecedented rush of container ship traffic last month has tailed off, but our workload is still pretty high. Our dance card has been pretty full, though not breakneck as it was last month. With the cold being not yet too cold, heating oil tanker traffic hasn't been unduly high yet, although we ourselves seem to be sending more oil up the Hudson river, upper state NY being a pretty damn cold place. 

Oh the homefront, Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife caught Covid last week. She had a touch of a dry cough and lost her sense of taste, and that's it. She'll retest at the end of the week and see if she can go back to work. FL has a pretty decent system in place for advice on that sort of thing, although she had to arrive 90 minutes before the testing center opened in order to get a reasonable spot in line. We are fortunate, in that respect, as a friend recently lost his perfectly healthy 27-year old son, which has been a horror for the poor guy. I haven't taken the coof too seriously, myself, and only now has it sunk home that the random rare fatality in healthy younger people may be random, but not necessarily rare to us. 

 It still feels weird not having Facebook, although the peace is still nice. I made the right call, getting out of that. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Between weather

Well, winter's here for me, finally. Had to put on long johns before watch today. It was butt-ass cold out. And by that I mean my ass was cold. 

     The world has gone insane, and for a bit there, I was part of it, keyboard warrioring all over the place. I even got into it with a niece of mine the day after the chimpout at the capitol building. Because of that I missed 90% of the best sunset I've seen in months. 

     The next day I deleted my facebook account. I've been on it since myspace was around, and it's become too much of a habitual activity... and it brings me almost no joy. I can count on one hand the number of people I'll miss from there, and it's miserable, makes me unhappy, and... yeah. I'm off. Mark Zuckerberg can eat a dick. 

 I'm not going to miss any more good sunsets. 

 So today I ran into Bill the Lube Oil guy. 

      I have no idea how I became friendly with Bill. He runs a lube oil tanker that occasionally rafts up to us and pumps hundreds of gallons of lube oils up to ships at the same time I'm pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel oil to them. But I haven't seen Bill in 2-3 years. It was nice to catch up while we were working. We lamented the loss of the Jones Act ship trade, and Covid, and getting old, and generally did what sailors do when meeting across gunwales... complain and laugh about complaints. It was a nice way to break up a cold, blustery day. 

 So, yeah, aside from about doubling the pace at which I read and beating the hell out of the solitaire app on my phone, time for a new timewaster... maybe one that won't leave me seething half the time.