Thursday, April 29, 2021

Blogger can eat a dick

 I'm having a hell of a time with Blogger. It's buggy as shit suddenly, I can't post high-res pictures, and the alignment and editing in my posts changes radically from when I'm writing and when I hit the Post button. 

 This shit is part of why this ain't fun. 

Try paying more

 I'm not o

ne to throw bombs when it comes to labor issues, normally. Sometimes, though, it just gets stupid and you have to throw your two cents in.

OK, so CNN of course runs with a clickbait header that gas stations are going to run out of fuel this

The fuel industry is more calm, of course, because they actually work for a living.

‘Summer scramble’ for
gasoline on tap amid
tank-truck driver

Retail stations aren’t likely to suffer from a widespread shortage of gasoline,

analysts said, despite all the talk lately about a lack of tanker drivers to deliver

the fuel as demand ramps up for the summer driving season.

“I wouldn’t forecast a shortage; I’m calling it a summer scramble,” Tom Kloza,

global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service, told


The title of an article on CNN that ran Tuesday suggested that gas stations could

run out of gas this summer.

The report, citing National Tank Truck Carriers, said that roughly 20% to 25% of

tank trucks are “parked” heading into this summer due to a shortage of qualified

drivers. MarketWatch contacted the industry trade group, but it hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

Kloza said there’s likely to be “plenty of refinery production of gasoline, lots of

imports, and no problems at bulk facilities,” which refer to those big tanks near

refineries and pipelines.

The problem is drivers, he said, and it’s in the “last one-to-150 miles in the

distribution chain where tank truck driver counts are down.”

Kloza said a typical tanker truck carries 8,000 gallons. So on a day with 9.5

million barrels of demand, or just under 400 million gallons, the industry would

need 50,000 tanker trucks just to handle station needs, he explained.

But the lack of truck drivers is not a new issue. COVID-19 accelerated it, as some

drivers retired last year when demand was slow, says Jeff Lenard, vice president

of strategic industry initiatives at NACS, which represents convenience and fuel

retailers. There were also “challenges in getting new drivers certified” in schools

during the worst of the pandemic, he said.


So, as I often do, I wish CNN to be fornicated by a truck bumper, at highway

speed, directly in the ear.

This is not a crisis, but a labor market readjustment.

The plain truth is that a truck driver can carry bulk cargo for the same money

as he can get for carrying fuel, and without the additional certifications and liability

that moving oil comes with. You don't go to jail or get cuffed for EPA violations for

spilling a load of soybeans.

The simple solution is that if more drivers are needed, companies will pay more.

But that doesn't generate clicks for our News Lords, so nobody is going to mention


I'd be happy to see more pipelines and less over-the-road transport of fuels, but

permitting of pipelines takes years, and the NIMBY crowd prefers their oil spills and

explosions to take place in railyards and over the roads, rather than to disturb the wa

by having safer, more efficient but unbuildable right-of-ways near where they shit.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Live from the Whorehouse Hotel/Weed Emporium

Welp, crew change tomorrow. I'm all arrived back in NYC, flew in this morning on a 100% full flight, so that was fun. I flew United for I think the 2nd/3rd time ever, and arrived at my destination with so much knee pain that I was hobbling the whole walk out of the airport. I've never been so cramped. I'm not a tall guy. Well, I am, I guess, a bit, at 6 foot, but I have little teeny stubby legs (more on that later) that certainly should be OK with the normal seating on a discount airline. But no, I was in hell. 

      Well, the walk out to my taxi fixed me up, thankfully, and I had an actually pleasant ride to Brooklyn from Newark, which sure was a surprise. 

    So, the 40-room 5-story crew change hotel we use also rents rooms for 4 hours at a time to the local whores. So that's a thing, and so long as the manager keeps the working girls on a separate floor or at the least on the other side of the building, they're not too disruptive, although I do know one engineer who had to get his room changed just last month as Mrs. Comfort next door was an enterprising lass and also in high demand. The whole hotel absolutely reeks unbelievably of weed. It's inescapable- every room, every hallway has the acrid stink of stale smoke from the Devil's Lettuce. I fear for our pristine urine should we get randomed close to crew change. But what can we do? It's not like there's better places for under a couple hundred dollars a night. It's Brooklyn, where a ratty fleabag like this place is still in high demand, and this is our 3rd hotel over the years. The other two weren't really much better, if we're being honest, and this place has the virtue of being closer to the office and in a neighborhood that is relatively safe. 

Now, not to be Debbie Downer, as is my wont after leaving a perfectly good wife 1500 miles away in favor of getting my ass paid. My poor liver is about ready for some rest here at work. I've had some amazing bourbons come across my bar at home the past two weeks, and the persistent aches that I was getting at work in my legs responded well to ethanol-mediated thinning of the blood and what I think were 5 evenings in the jacuzzi with Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife. Beyond a vague leftover annoying twinge from having my knees forced up around my ears in the horrible plane seats this morning, I'm arriving in fair condition. 

 So, I was in beast mode while I was home in terms of productivity. I got my garage wired up properly for the use of my heavier tools, did a ton of work on my assorted plants at home, repotting and cutting out stumps and the like, and did a bunch of work with my scrapwood, getting the pile down to a very respectable small size for almost no money, and I even got to Make Some Stuff, which is what I really like to do.  I got the Honey-Do list all knocked out, and even got 25' up on a ladder and patched holes that the local red-headed woodpecker put in my house's trim. Said patches were made with concrete and painted over, and I heard the little bastard trying to remake his holes without success, which was a giggle for me. I hope he got a headache, the fucker. 

As I mentioned above, I have little stubby legs. At 6 feet tall, I have 29-inch legs, which is the same length, amusingly, as those of Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife, who, at 5' 3", is far more pleasingly proportioned than I. And the weather at night being just right for a soak in the jacuzzi, we both end up struggling a bit to get in and out of the thing, so I ripped down some 1x8's, used up some 2x4's and paint and deck screws, and made a 2-sided step so we could get in and out of the tub easier. Add in some champagne, a charcuterie plate and a selection of boozes, and we have had some great nights at low cost at home. 

I'm happy to report that tan line season is here, as well. 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Something happened.

 I'm home, and the last few days on board the HQ were pretty low-key, so I arrived home in good spirits, and not in the exhausted-beyond-reason way that the last few months have seen me dragging ass off the tarmac here in Margaritaville. 

 Pool season is open, and Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife have been glued together at the hip, pretty much hiding out at home. It's been 85and sunny most days, so I've been catching up on yardwork and the honey-do list, and finally got one side of my garage shop wired for 220 so I can use the giant ass bandsaw that I got for Christmas.   Sawdust and hopefully not fingers will be flying once I get through the things I have to do, which included patching the usual spring woodpecker holes in the trim of my house. Every time I hear the little fucker tapping, I go out there with a bb gun, but there's always a neighbor in eyesight, and the little bastards are a protected species. Well I want to protect them from nature by throwing their dead carcasses in the trashcan, but what can you do? People in hell want icewater, I guess. 


Sunday, April 11, 2021

Nothing continues to happen

 And today, nothing happened. 

 Oh, there was a real pea-souper of a fog this morning and for much of the day out here in the anchorage. And we gloriously are still enjoying the fruits of the clogged up Suez canal. I got up early (I'm working the back watch (1800-0600) here on my last week aboard, and serviced one of our generators, swapping out filters, oil change, check on the coolant specific gravity, run the little diagnostic self test, etc. I also drained off the water from the air receiver (compressed air tank), did a parts and supply inventory, and rummaged through the deep freezer (which is in the gen house, because hey, the power is right there and the accomodation block isn't all that big here on HQ 3.0). 

 So, really, busywork. It's rainy and foggy out, or I'd be out doing deck maintenance, which is actually up to date, and it's always nice to get ahead of the curve... but my particular pet peeve is getting rained on, so, yeah, nah. We have a cargo fixed for my next watch, so I won't be sitting on my sitter here much more, and that's OK. Too much anchor time makes me nervous. If the HQ 3.0 is laid up the way HQ 2.0 and Temporary HQ were, right out from under my feet, I'll hang myself at this point. I'm a creature of habit and while I *can* live out of a duffle bag, I'm awful appreciative not to have to. 


Friday, April 9, 2021

The lull is here

 Well, finally we have had a humane schedule for a few days in a row here at HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/hot dog safari.  This quarter has been a shit show for us, just nonstop work for weeks, coupled with the occasional accidental watch off when a fuel dump gets clogged up with traffic and we get to rest. 

    Well, we're finally feeling the impact of the Suez canal closure 2 weeks back, I'm told.  We had a lull, and a day off, worked 2 days, and now we have TWO days off, in theory, unless something happens. And while my employer might be a little bummed out, to be honest, I need a damn break, and I'm in the home stretch of this tour. I go home in 5 more days, and I don't want to go home feeling like the Unibomber, ready to write a manifesto. 

       When we've had a watch off, the on-watch guy gets to catch up on everything that is behind, starting on any basic maintenance, like oil changes, inspections, chasing down hydraulic leaks, fuel sampling, inventorying and ordering parts, splicing lines out on deck, and that sort of thing, The days of being able to go out on deck with a needle gun and bust rust are long past now. Nobody has that sort of time in bunkering anymore- maintenance is a hurried, business, doing the best one can with the time one has. much of the time we do maintenance on our off watch, cutting into sleep time. 

 And now here I am with a wealth of time , and we had a day off already this week, so maintenance is already close to current.  I'm on nights this week, and we're out in the anchorage. I'm enjoying the time and the peace very much. I've been peeing over the side all evening, enjoying the skyline. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Why does that hurt?

 Lordy, I did get my exercise this morning. 

      The schedules of oil tankers are hard to predict. Unlike container ships, oil tankers often rush to a port, and then languish at anchor waiting for a berth to open up. This stems from demand- oil is notoriously bulky, and the US, and most countries, come to think of it, have VERY limited oil storage capacity. Just a few weeks' worth, for the most part, less our 'strategic reserve' located in Salt Domes deep underground, which is nowhere near as large as one might think. At any rate, my point is that the oil trade is seemingly chaotic, and that extends to shipping traffic, too. 

         I have experience myself of drifting offshore, waiting for the price of #6 oil to rise one whole cent before going in.  On top of this, storage depots often rent tanks to multiple companies, and at times, ships arrive at the same time and someone has to fight it out over who gets to go into the berth first. Sometimes there's just one owner, and they have to decide the same thing based on market forces, storage capacity, demand, charter rates, and, oh, a dozen other factors. 

 As a result, we loaded a very small parcel of Very Low Sulfur Heavy Fuel Oil (VLSFO) for a tanker that was headed into a storage depot in NJ, and would be out some 24 hours later. Only, the ship went to anchor unexpectedly, and so we have to wait until they finish their business and sail, and once they drop anchor in NY harbor, we can do our business, too. So suddenly the HQ has 36 hours free, the most time I've had in a few months. I was able to shine some booties to a high polish, and got us a berth at the company office/warehouse, where we've had a treasure trove of supplies waiting for a month now for our own internal stores. 

     I spent this morning humping buckets and boxes and spare parts, walking them across the deck of another barge (we are moored outboard of them, and they are moored to the dock), and then another 250ft across and around pipes and such into their respective homes, one 20-100lb armful at a time. 

 There was a time when this wouldn't have tired me out. That time is now passed. So today was a good thing. I could use the conditioning. And it's nice to have spares again too. I now have, God willing an' the creek don' rise, the opportunity to put my feet up for 2 hours after lunch. Then the work begins again. 

Sunday, April 4, 2021

weekend update

 I'm still here. Just killing it. 

      I'm not inspired to write much at the moment, as I've noted. I'm in the doldrums, work-wise. The challenges at work for me are not what they were. My greatest challenges used to be involved with finding ways to creatively get things done in a safe and efficient manner- load planning, creating and improving maintenance schedules aboard, etc.  Well, with time, that stuff becomes oh so de la mode, so to speak. 

      I remember reading in someone's memoirs that no matter your passion for a job, eventually it becomes just a job, regardless of whether the sense of fulfillment endures. On top of that, we lose the opportunity to do the things we most love to do at the job as we advance in experience and our responsibilities change. 

 I spent about 45 minutes yesterday doing paperwork for a cargo fixed for a new charterer. Like any company from places other than the developed world, they have a particularly onerous paperwork trail that for some reason is far more complicated and unnecessarily repetitive. This is not to say that we are ungrateful for their business- far from it, it's a good opportunity and growth is never to be despised.   But the truth is that the companies we work with here on the HQ are mostly western, and while all have individual differences in their reporting and documentation, all share a good deal of common traits... and our new charterer does share many of these things... and then has an equal or greater amount of unfamiliar in-house paperwork that I don't relish dealing with. This makes me suspect that most of our suppliers have an in-house staff that handles some of these issues, and companies that operate in less-developed economies simply do not.  What a good shoreside example? Go visit Customs in a couple of countries. The US has a process that if not always nice is usually straightforward, even when it's not. *cough cough USDA inspector aboard, throw out your canned food!* Now go visit customs, in, say Brazil. There are 12 stamps from 5 offices here. There are supposed to be 13 from 4. You need another stamp, but the guy with the stamp is not in this week, and next week is the week-long feast of St. Whoozits, patron saint of left-handed dentists, so he won't be in until... 6 weeks from now, but only between 4 and 4:16 pm, and also not here, but in another city. 

      So that's sort of where my headspace is at with this stuff. Now, the real giggle is that I'm just the guy who gives the customer $10 in unleaded and a pack of Marbs. I don't actually wash the windows, but the simile is solid. This stuff is above my pay grade... except when it isn't, because I fill out a form incorrectly because somehow when a paperwork process that normally takes 10 minutes takes 45, scanning for errors becomes exponentially harder, especially when there's an unusually high percentage of copying involved from page to page, but not always rote copying... in an age when computers are a thing.  I should ask Supply for an abacus. It might help. 

      Well, howsomever the differences, the money made from these transactions is green, and it behooves me to keep that tap in the on position as long as I can by trying to do things the right way. The only reward on here for doing a good job is that no one calls to complain. Given the way things are, that has to be good enough, and if cash is green and black oil is black, silence is still golden.