Wednesday, July 26, 2023

the grind, the sweat, the Windows 95 game come to life.

 It's been a minute since I posted, but I'm just working the routine at the moment, nothing exciting to mention, really. Wake up, work, sleep, rinse, repeat.  

     I've gotten to get ashore 2 1/2 times now in the last 12 days. That's finestkind to me. I basically just walk for an hour and get whatever fresh greenstuff and items will fit in a cloth grocery bag. NY being NY, there are no grocery bags provided by the store unless you want to buy one of their $8 foofoo plastic grocery bags that fall apart strategically when you're 3/4 of the way home. 

 Oh, that 1/2 trip ashore? I was out for my walk since we had 8 hours until we were scheduled to sail for the next job, and while I was 2 miles from the dock, partner B called and said there was a tugboat smashing into our stern and blowing the whistle, which woke him up of course and had him all soggy and hard to light. 

   The tugboat operator, an outside company that my company charters to take the load off of our own tugs, called my company and said he wanted to sail right now, early, because the tide was in his favor. As our regular dispatcher wasn't there on the phone to tell him where exactly he could go fuck himself, one of the bosses happened to answer the phone and just said sure and went about his day. 

    So my fat ass ends up powerwalking the two miles back to the dock on a 90-degree humid morning. We make up and sail, and the 45 minute ride to the loading terminal from our lay berth takes 4-5 hours... because he had to wait for the tide to be fair to dock, too. 

       I actually like the tug crew, having worked with them a fair bit, so other than being a bit grumpy at first and trying to hold my temper for the hurry up and wait BS, I just wrote it off in my mind and pre-cooked lunch and dinner. 

   Generally we say that any time we're in a rush, the tugboat will be late. If we want the tugboat to arrive alongside, we need to either take a dump or make a sandwich. Guaranteed they're gonna bump us in the middle of either one. 

     After roasting my pasty ass off the past 3 weeks, I am thankfully switching over to working the back watch, 1800-0600, which started tonight. We do that by dogging the watches- cutting them short (called dogging becuase as Patrick O'Brien said, they're 'cur-tailed' ) to 8 hours, which allows us to rest, but also rotates us around over the course of one day, so the night guy goes to days, and the day man to nights.  This is also symbolic, as the night guy is 1 week from going home. And indeed, this time next week I'll be packing my stuff up and heading home for 18 whole hours before getting on ANOTHER series of planes, and there to go to Brazil for a few weeks. 

 Sadly, I'm not going to the beaches of Brazil, or any beautiful tropical paradise. I'm going to an arid region, far inland,  to a city on a plateau, during their winter, not somewhere beautiful and certainly not the Amazon, but where inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife's family are. 

       Minesweeper, or the Rooster in the henhouse:     

 About the only thing beautiful where we're going is the half-breed Indio girls like my wife. Mediterranean blood admixed with native Brazilian produces an unusually high percentage of startlingly lovely ladies. So, I mean I got that going for me. My wife isn't the type to get jealous, thankfully. She in fact likes to point out the most stunning girls when they appear, so I don't miss them. I've already learned though, that this is a trick, because Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife has an earthy sense of humor, and while I'm just peoplewatching, she's playing "Minesweeper."

  Remember that game?   You try to uncover tiles on a board without setting off hidden bombs? Yeah, that. 


  So when we're in public places in her city, my wife will point out the prettiest girls and say something and get my response. 

 "Hohnee, look. Linda (Pretty), si?" 

          Me:  "Wow, yes" (side-eyeing my wife the whole time.  Possible wince in there). 

   I have to say something. She'll repeat herself until I acknowledge the attractiveness of the girl she points out. 

 Except every now and again... 

 "Amor, look 'dere. So gostosa,, verdade?"   (So hot, yes?)
      "Eh, wher... oh, I see her. Wow, yes. Super." 

 "BAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAHAAAA!! Dat's a travesti (Transsexual)!  My husband is the gay. My husband so is the gay!"  Wait, we need go to HomeGoods so I buy heem and heem towels for you bafroom". 

You have found a mine. 

 I swear to God sometimes I just can't tell, yet she can, and there's an unusual number in Brazil. It's given me PTSD. I don't like this game and she plays it like every other day when we go to Brazil. 


 "Wow, amor, look the her. She's so..."  

         Me, starting to cry now.  'No. No more, please. I'm not looking!  I'll be good I swear."  

      Then she'll do something like pinch my butt. In public.  This is her revenge for my grabbiness in the house when the kid's not around. 

Notice only one of us is smiling. 

 And joking aside, she really is a lot of fun.  Maybe I can avoid alcohol poisoning this trip. The indios do love to drink, and also love to play 'who will pass out first.' I can hold my own, the problem is that they will play one person at a time until he drops, and then the next one steps up... vs me.  I had a couple of cousins laid out comatose before I woke up 15 hours later while contemplating my reflection in the toilet bowl water.  So I don't think I will play this time.  

telegram from my liver to my brain. 

Friday, July 14, 2023

Lie down with dogs... etc.

 So, Iran is at it again. 

       Iran's non retarded unit, the Revolutionary Guard, has a habit of harassing western-owned ship traffic in the Persian Gulf.    

              Chevron Oil seems to be a pretty consistant target for them. Chevron operates in every oil-laden shithole there is, though. They're like McDonalds or Mattress Firm.  A Chevron-chartered ship got seized earlier this year, and there have been a few harassment incidents. Since Uncle Sugar's World Police Navy is active in that part of the world too, every time the haji's act up, the navy has to dispatch a ship off patrol to shoo the Iranians out... although sometimes there's nobody close by.   In the most recent case, the tanker RICHMOND VOYAGER which, despite the name, is a foreign flag (foreign registered and foreign crewed) ship, but it's owned by one of the largest oil companies in the world, who outright owns a few senators, so obviously they were getting helped when they called for it. 

 The Iranians took a few potshots at the ship as a fuck you for calling for Big Brother. 

 So we can add that to the dumpster fire that it our world in the present day too. 

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Thank God for high blood pressure meds

  So, it's a nice quiet night. Now. 

      I got to run to the store to get grub today, as we're in a lay berth alongside the Brooklyn Bridge.   With heavy rain forecast for tonight, which is now here as I write, I walked the mile and a half or so to the store, a big chain grocery across the street from the Barclay Center, where the Nets play.  It's in a busy commerce area. 

 It's also your friendly neighborhood hoodbooger grocery store. 

         When I told Big E on here that I was headed up, E (who is black) said "Oh, man, no way I'm going to that place, bro. It's the hood in there."  And it is. I usually avoid it, but I wanted to load up while I could, get a walk in, and get back before the rain. 

 And, I mean, I did, but it was super unpleasant.  Stop & Shop is a very large grocery chain, not a bodega or a low-price shop, but solidly middle of the road but with stores that tend to be large and well-stocked. 

 Except this place. First off, they don't have enough grocery carts. I had to wait 10 minutes to get a cart. Also, the carts can't go outside the store. It's a busy main drag in NY, and there's no parking lot. You have to hump your shit to the local parking garage that feeds the mall and stadium or one of the 30 gypsy cabs driven by African illegal immigrants will help you. 

             So, yeah, I get my cart and inside the door is the vegetable section. And it reeks of weed, because of course it does. Also, everything's disorganized, there's no bags for your vegetables, and the staff... well, the girl who was at bakery section was yelling at another girl who was restocking the cut fruit. An agitated 300lb hood rat with nails the size of 12 penny spikes yelling 'You's a stupid fuckin' ho, ho! like 8 times. 

 Welcome to Erf. 

            I got my shit, anyhow. Surprisingly, most of it, anyhow, but it took a while to find, as nothing was in stock, and nothing was in the bin with the labels as to what it was, but if you looked, you could find it where it wasn't likely to be found.  

   And then I was #4 in my chosen checkout line, and there I stayed for one hour. One entire hour. 

     It seems there's no check day for EBT this week. So everyone in front of me was getting their stuff rung, up, and then their cards rejected. So they'd pick one or two things out, the manager would come to delete this from the list, and try again. By the time the card was rejected again, the manager was already elsewhere doing THE EXACT SAME FRIGGING THING.  

      Place made my local Wal Mart look like Whole Foods. 

              Turns out I got the slow cashier. Her nails were a good 3 inches long, filed to points, and must have been freshly glued on, because she moved them only very carefully and very slowly. She could maybe scan 5-10 items a minute, and when a bulk pack of chicken couldn't be read, didn't I get the stink eye. 

      How the hell can she wipe her ass like that?

 So, yeah, I got out of there for just $300 for about 10 days of healthy meat, chicken and vegetables for just me. Because it's New York and I can buy a trash can sized bag of pork rinds for 99 cents but a pack of lettuce is fuckin' $7.  Anyhow, a cheerful Sudanese guy was birddogging me as soon as my cart locked up the wheels near the front door, and we were off back to the terminal gate. Honestly, the guy was 10x nicer than anyone I met at the grocery store. He was the high point of my trip ashore and $20 for a  quick cab ride was good for him too. 

 I got my shit aboard and stowed it, then sat in the chair and just...existed a while.  

      I think I'm well suited for an isolated work environment.  The rain came in before dark, and with it came a whole lot of aching shoulders and back. I knew that those days would come eventually. Apparently it's now Eventually. 

          BUT, less you think I'm ONLY here to bitch (I'm only MOSTLY here to bitch), I had good fresh food, and since I'm on nights, breakfast was a couple of medium tomatoes with the guts scooped out with an ice cream scoop, then I dropped a tablespoon of basil pesto and cracked an egg in the hole and baked em for half an hour.  Little salt and pepper, you should try 'em.    Only downside is I'm sitting here in the semi-dark in the deckhouse, and every 20 minutes or so I'm farting out the first 7 notes of the opening from "Smoke On The Water." And I mean I'm the only one up. Is it really a downside if you're cracking yourself up? 


            With only about 3 weeks to go before our next trip to Brazil, and the now 300ish person family reunion we're throwing for her family (Tribe, really. Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife is half Italian, half Brazilian Indian (feathers, not dots), I'm getting photos from past and present with said wife in various outfits for my comment as she winnows her wardrobe down to about 5 suitcases for 2 weeks.  

 Today's Yes/No was a yes from me.   

     I know.  I'm actually a discerning sort when it comes to women's high heels at this point. How the F that happened to a man who has like 4 shirts, I can't say. The picture doesn't show them, but they're a pair of wedge heels from Chanel. Christmas present from me year before last. Wedge heels are good for wallking and do fun firming things to women's backsides the whole while. In that respect it was also a Christmas present for me too. 

 Tomorrow is Bikini Try-Outs when I get up for watch, so I'm excited about that. Fuckers are expensive for what is essentially 2 lengths of shoelace, 2 postage stamps and an eyepatch's worth of material. I am told she's gone more demure, with Brazilian "Mom" bikinis (which are about as risque as most American women will go), suitable for a more mature crowd.  

 See? Not all negative bitchery here. 

Thursday, July 6, 2023

First Thursday in Ordinary Time

 I'm back on board, and things are as they often are, which is to say: thinks are right fucked up. 

      Last night was my first watch on board after a lovely 2 weeks home. As I'm fresh aboard, it's my week to take the back watch, 1800-0600.  Luckily we had ample free time until a load scheduled for 0300. I was looking forward to it. 

          One of our units got a nasty lightning strike before I came back to work, and while the company will have it back in service in short order, there was some scrambling to get a barge assigned for every job.  I got a phone call that because of an outside vendor's semi dick move, we were getting assigned a cargo of high sulfur heavy fuel oil.  Now, the present HQ doesn't carry HSFO, which can contain around 3% sulfur. We carry VLSFO, Very Low Sulfur Fuel Oil (<0.5% sulfur) and ULSFO (Ultra Low Sulfur fuel oil (<.1% sulfur). The less sulfur there is, the more expensive it is, and the cleaner it burns, emissions wise. 

      Thing is, once you put high sulfur in  a tank, the residues after pumping it off remain.  So for us to have to carry high sulfur fuel in our tanks means that we're gonna need to get flushed out but good after, which is not a cheap proposition. Just the way things work. 

  Turns out, while we were filling our cargo tanks last night, the ship our fuel was destined for had a massive fire break out in nearby Newark. 

Fire still blazing on ship at Port Newark where 2 firefighters died. Cause remains unknown.

         From what I understand, the firemen who died were getting overwhelmed working in the confined space but were unable to back out of the area.  

      The ship in question is a Con-Ro ship, the bastard child of a container ship and a car carrier. It's half of each.  This company's ships tend to move used cars from the first world to the 3rd world. Car fires aboard these types of ships do happen from time to time, but obviously something made it worse than normal. 

   So I'm sitting about 3/4 of a mile from the ship right now, in another channel at a different terminal, hanging on with this burning ship's fuel. There's shipping containers between me and this ship, so I can't see anything. I heard a big damn boom about 2 hours ago, though, which makes me think that they're still fighting to save the ship. The 1200 cars aboard are probably mostly fucked, but that's just a guess. 
         I do want to be smart here. The oil company that entrusts us with their oil probably wouldn't want us speculating too much or ripping on their customers, so I won't.  I'll just note that shipboard fires are a fucking nightmare, and while I find these ships to be uglier than a 90 year old's ballsack, the international used car trade is always fraught with risk.