Saturday, January 21, 2012

Posted. i found a little hole in the wall to shoot this through

We have burned a lot of fuel so far and it is pretty obvious in that the trim of the vessel has changed a bit. This also changes the vibrations and noises to a certain extent. A while ago I went out on deck for a second and heard a few new noises.

It is no wonder that things change as fuel is burned off. a rig like this running hooked up can burn about 12 or 13 tons of diesel every 24 hours. That's about 1000 pounds an hour that is removed from the weight of the vessel. It does not include the water that we use, although we do not use anywhere near that amount of water. Food and other consumables add to this, too.

I mentioned them to the engineer who said they were normal. I had figured that but any changes I notice I say something about. It is a safety issue and there's no use winding up in a liferaft saying, "So that's what that was!" when there was something I could have said before something happened and we could have taken action to prevent it.


Well, we seem to have lost the internet and it does not look like we are going to have it back for a few more days.

We actually were not going to have it today for as long as we did and I was glad when I managed to get several days worth of blog posts out in one fell swoop.

To those of you regulars, sorry about that. I simply had to shoot them all out at once because when we did get the net back I really had no clue how long we were going to have it for. I got it posted during a window that lasted a short time. Shortly after I posted we lost it again but got it back.

It's kind of a chore catching up on things when you let them go for almoat a week. There are emails so sort, read or delete, and I also checked up on my QSLs because I sometimes QSL through eQSL or if the person I QSO'd doesn't want to send paper.

Anyway, I took part of today away from the code thing to let things settle a bit.

Dinner was excellent as it was steak night. The salad was good, too. We'll see what tomorrow brings and maybe I'll sleep well tonight to make up for last night's bad sleep.

I think we are due to get back into internet range Sunday or Monday but that could change as if the weather changes on us we may have to change course. We'll see.

Meanwhile, back at the the Lone Ranger and his faithful Indian companion were riding for help,

Speaking of the Lone Ranger, he's a pretty good subject for a post.

One time I saw a kid get told 'no' by his parents over a candy bar and he was grousing. He looked at me and grumbled.

"Don't feel like the Lone Ranger, kid. I can't eat them either." I said. "Doctor's orders."

The little guy asked me who the Lone Ranger is.

I looked up at the parents and said, "I don't know what kind of communist off-brand types you are raising that kid, but he's the first one I have ever met that doesn't know who the Lone Ranger is!"

The mother looked a bit wierded out, but the father looked at the boy.

"You don't know who the Lone Ranger is?" he asked the kid.


The man turned to his wife.

"Quick fix," he said and headed off to where they rent the DVDs. The wife looked to where her husband went with a look of wonder on her face and a few minutes later he returned with a couple of DVDs and a box of microwave popcorn.

He looked at the kid, "Son, tonight you are going to learn about the Lone Ranger," he said.

In this day and age it is pretty cool watching a man take fatherhood seriously enough to be a dad.


It is the beginning of another watch and I woke up tired and hauled my sorry ass out of the rack all gummy-eyed which, although not unheard of isn't common for me.

In a bit I will sneak into the head and shower and then I will be awake but I want the watch change activities there to die down so I'll wait a little while.

The weather still isn't bad at all which is a gift from God although I hear it is cold and snowy back home, information on this compliments of the Weather Channel.

A glance at the news as I walked past said that the government has raided pension funds again to make up for a shortfall. Par golf. It was noted that they have done this before and I an sure they will do it again.

They ought to throw these financial people out and replace them all with a couple of workingmans wives. The kind of women that raised about seven kids on an auto mechanics paycheck. They know how to account for every dime and know that you can't spend what you do not have.

Well, the ex-wife of Newt Gingrich is going to give an interview shortly and you just know what she is going to say. She's most likely going to really bad mouth him which is to be expected. Personally I don't give an ex-spouse a whole lot of credibility as a general rule.

While I have an ex-wife living somewhere far away I think I would be pretty lucky if I was running for office or came up under some kind of investigation because she'd probably be one of my biggest supporters.

Of course things got pretty shitty for a while after we seperated but I think both of us decided not to follow the vengeful route because there seemed to be no percentage in it. We simply decided to rethink things and when we did we both decided to get along.

Right now we're pretty good friends.

I do not think that Newt's ex is going to do him any favors, but we will see.

What I want to see is what Newt says about her. That will be the test.

The deckhand is busy and the rain locker is freed up so I will take advantage of the situation and take care of business.

Later: I am clean and empty.

The engineer is watching one Robin Meade and I guess she is covering the tryouts for Ameican Idol. I roll my eyes and someone says, "What's the matter, Pic? Don't want to be on American Idol?

A lot of people that I miss generally miss the whole point when they deal with me. I'm fairly happy as I am and do not want to be on American Idol. Besides I can't carry a tune in a bucket.

The other thing,too is that some of the younger guys fail to comprehend that I live alone by choice. One deckhand I know a while ago tried to fix me up with a Filipina and had several pictures of young pretty Filipinas. I suppose if I wanted to get truly single again and hook up with someone that a nice Filipina about my age would be a pretty good choice but the last thing I want is a girlfriend a third my age.

To get him to change the subject I told him I wasn't into 20 year olds and to come back when he had some women to show me that were in their fifties. He looked shocked.

"But they are too old to have babies," he said in a shocked voice.

Ya gotta think a minute. Why in the name of Sam Hill would a guy 60 years old want to raise a brood of babies. Assuming I was to be able to live to the ripe old age of 90 I have no desire to be dealing with a teenager while I am in my late 70s.

Why do people think I am that stupid?

I think a part of it is that they do not stop for a minute and think and look at what or who they are dealing with. Maybe if I was thirty and single I might have an interest in raising kids. But I am not thirty.

If people would look at me and think they would not walk into mine fields and walk out scathed and feeling stupid. It doesn't take much.

I try and look at someone and take a few seconds to try and figure them out before I suggest anything about their lifestyle. While I'm not always right, the effort generally pays off.

It doesn't take much.

Right now I am watching the engineer open a package of ham and it is pretty funny watching him deal with Space Age Plastic. If a guy doesn't have access to a pretty good tool box he could starve to death in this day and age.

Why do companies do that? It is not like they are trying to keep an Infindibulating MkIV Magnatron secure for use on deck of a submerged nuclear submarine at 38 knots. It is only a package of ham and once opened someone is going to make a sandwich out of it and eat it and that will be the end of it.

Instead the poor bastard had to break out the scissors and perform surgery to get the damned ham open. Of course, when he did he simply made a sandwich.

We over package everything and it is ridiculous. I once got a soccer ball for a kid and it arrived wrapped in several layers of bubble wrap in a box stuffed full of tiny little styrofoam packing peanuts. Of course when I gave the ball to the kid he promptly booted it about 40 yards.

A shipmate reports getting a pillow packed the same way.

They talk about obesity and I figure that if they simply start packaging sweets and fatty foods in The Amazing Space Age Plastic that it would do wonders in fighting obesity. The eater of the slop would have to at least get some form of exercise opening the damned package and in many cases rather than go through the ordeal of opening a candy bar they might even forgo it entirely.

Back to trying to fix me up with a 22 year old Filipina.

Maybe if I was 25 and shopping around. Maybe.

I am not a parent. I am an uncle. I have no desire to be a parent anymore. It didn't happen and it isn't going to happen. I stopped thinking about that over 20 years ago.


The Keystone pipeline got shot down and now our beloved President Obama is going to Disneyland to promote tourism. He said that they would just extend unemployment benefits.

What an idiot!

Creating jobs would remove an awful lot of people from the dependency of government. They would stop taking money out of our pockets and start paying in.

The pipeline would create quite a few jobs along with quite a few support businesses as well as bringing energy costs down and this jerk is in Disneyland talking about bringing in foriegn money by making it easier to enter the country. Just what we need. A new pipeline for bringing terrorism into the country.

Don't these people think?

The consensus of a website that I frequent is that I could do a better job than he is and I am only a merchant seaman with a high school diploma and 20 years of Hawsepipe U.


The weather just started getting a little lumpy and a few things have been moved so they will not fall off or out of their regular spots. When I hit the rack this laptop will get stashed somewhere safe. The weather is supposed to improve later.

This is not a good time to play with the code thing as I am subject to instant interruptions.


Next watch:

The sea has abated, we just managed to pass through a localized lumpy area. Dinner was a nice smoked brisket someone snagged from somewhere. Delicious.

I have in my bookscase a couple of copies of the day to day doings of a single 14 day trip I took in the Gulf of Mexico doing cleanup work for BP after the spill there. It was a long boring trip and I would write maybe 10 or 15 pages a day.

It actually reads a lot like the boring periods of Das Boot. If you have seen the movie you only remember the action scenes which is what most people remember. I remember the boring parts because there is an awful lot of that out here. I think the best war movie ever made in one respect was 'Mister Roberts' because it addresses the bulk of what went on during the war.

For every guy actually in the line there were about nine that were supporting him and not a whole lot of the work was glorious or very exciting. Most of it was logistical, a lot of it was mental.Like planning the load for a ship invading an island somewhere.

It was slow, tedious office work organizing such an endeavor. Everything had to be thought out and planned for. One would not think a typewriter is needed on the first wave but there would be a number of radio operators on the beach at the onset of the invasion.

While the radiomen could get by with a pad and pencil in a pinch it sure made things a lot easier and faster if they could type their messages as they received them. Therefore along with the ammo, food, water and POL someone would make sure a few typewriters went ashore with the first wave.

Someone had to figure all of this out and plan for it, and someone else had to load the ship, too. Much of this unexciting work was simplly drudgery and boring and an awful lot of guys spent the entire war doing things like this.

A lot of what we do out here isn't very exciting. So far this entire trip has been boring as the day is long, and it is not over yet. I hope it continues to be boring as I have had enough swashbuckling at sea for one life. You can only swing across the room on a chandleier so many times before the chandelier rips off the ceiling and you land on something you do not want to. Landing on your ass sometimes isn't a bad deal. Landing on the bad guy's sword is painful.

I'm busting the deckhands chops right now. He hasn't shaved in quite some time and I told him to go and shave everything but his moustache. I waved my beard trimmer at him.

"David Niven," I said. "I'll make you look like David Niven...or Errol Flynn...No, I won't. You'll become a Clark Gable and get to run around with Scarlett O'Hara on a southern plantation!"

He's kind of young but he knows who the people I mentioned are. He blushed and asked if he could get a sword and swing through the rigging. I said 'Sure!' and he blushed slightly.

"Maybe get a bow and arrow and put on a set of green tights!" I added.

He rubbed his unshaven chin thoughtfully. The seed has been planted and he knows that if I do give him a pencil thin moustache he can always shave it off later. We'll see what happens. Every so often someone gets bored enough out here to do something a little off the wall. I've seen it before. Hell, I've done it before.

I went over to get a cup of coffee and as I passed him I mimed being in a sword fight. He gave me a sheepish grin. Then I put my hand to the side of my face womanlike and feigned swooning. "He's soooo handsome," I cooed and be grinned and blushed.

I doubt he will this trip but one of these days he'll get in the mood to do something off the wall. Out here everybody does at some time or another.

I know I sure as hell have.

The deckhand teased me and asked me if I was homesick and I told him I have never been homesick and I suppose that's true. Probably because I have generally made my life paying attention to what is at hand.

While I suppose I would rather be home doing something else, it is not what is happening so I will pay attention to the matter at hand and when my time comes to go home I will do so and enjoy it. However, I feel no sense of longing for it. It will be there when I get there.

A short while ago someone dropped a pack of cigarettes onto the grate above the starboard engine and a couple of us rooted around and found it. The engineer griped for the eleventy fifth thousand time about how he wished the grates would be removed or at least covered up because crap is always falling down onto his engines.

The cigarettes were sought after not because they would damage the engne but because if they got into the bilge they coud plug up a pump strainer in an emergency. While some crews take things like this lightly these guys are true pros and don't.

During the search someone looked up and there they were. They had hit the grate and not fallen below but bounced under the washing machine where they were recovered.

To the landsman it is astonishing how much of a deckhands time is spent keeping things clean. The deckhand is generally a pretty busy guy, although his daily life is not frantic. He'll grab a bucket and rag and wash down a chunk of the fidley and then maybe loaf a bit and return to clean another chunk of it. It may take him a couple of watches until it is done, but in the meantime there are dishes to do and a head to clean up. It is a never ending job.

While his watch is seldom frantic,he manages to keep fairly busy.

I have decided for a while that several three minute blocs of code are probably better than trying to sit there for ten minutes and wade through it. You have to remember that most guys are not going to send the Gettysburg Address to you in a single string of dits and dahs. Most communication is done with Q signals that I have already mentioned in a previous post.

While I have not gotten to the Q signal reading part yet, it makes more sense for me to pay attention to taking down short messages of a senence or two.


News Flash.

Newt's ex just came on and I guess they showed a short clip of her. She did a pretty good job of coming on the air sans makeup and the rest of the polished finery and looking the part of the shocked wronged woman.

She looked exactly like a woman that is trying to punish an ex husband.

I'm not buying it, but I'm sure a lot of other people will.

Newt is probably out of the running.

The talking heads will drag this out for weeks.

Meanwhile Mitt is schmoozing the public.

Come November the American public is going to be handed one big giant $hit sandwich and we are all going to have to take a bite.


Speaking of Newt's ex, one of the guys out here got divorced several years ago and I got to watch the word 'stupid' personified.

First of all, when he moved out he simply left her and the kid without a dime and adopted the suave 'Rinso Kid' lifestyle with the $75 slacks, the Florsheims, spendy hair styles, manicures and the whole bit. He simply bailed and left her with no real income and a bunch of payments.

Things got reposessed and the poor woman had a pretty rough time putting food in the poor baby's belly. Meanwhile he is out there like some kind of self-appointed celebrity chasing women out of his league and living the high life.

That was stupid enough.

Then came the stupid stunt of the year stunt when the divorce came to court.

Not only did he come to court all lemon-rinsed looking like a tanned, manicured Rinso Kid, he brought his hottie girl friend in with him.

She came out of Central Casting. The heels, short skirt with a little stocking top showing when she sat down, the manucured nails and a set of huge, ripe cantalopes pouring out of a scoop necked sweater, topped off with big big, teased hair. Hot bimbo. Central Casting at its finest.

I guess he wanted to make his wife feel envious and get even with her.

His ex was no fool, either. She went to Central Casting also. They did a pretty good job on her, too. Enter the wronged woman and child. The woman carried the baby clad only in a clean diaper and blanket, both of which looked like they had been hand washed in a sink and dried in the living room on a line of some sort by a loving mother.

She looked like she was trying, as she was wearing a tattered sweater with a little white collar showing, again looking like they had been washed in the sink and carefully ironed. She looked gaunt and haggard like she hadn't slept in a week because whe had been working 144 hours a week just to keep the poor baby fed. Another masterpiece by central casting.

The judge took one look at the scene in his courtroom and decided right off, "I'll fix this idiot!" and clobbered him for just about every dime he had.

Newt's ex looks like Central Casting is still up and running and still doing its usual good job of creating appearances.

Adios, Newt.

I don't see why Newt didn't either buy or bully her into making him look at least halfway decent. He's played the game for long enough to know how its played.

Be good to the people you meet on your way to the top because they are the same people you are going to meet on your way to the bottom.

I ought to write my first wife and see what she would say about me if I was running for POTUS. I'll bet you she'd be pretty good about it. She'd probably be one of my best supporters.

Maybe I will and post it here. Either way it ought to be good.


I sort of screwed up a little on my last couple of code tries and ran the program at 20 wpm but seemed to do pretty much what I did at 15 wpm. (Poor)

It tells me that while I know a lot of the characters cold that I have to hammer a few more into my head so that it becomes total reflex. In reading code there has to be no hesitation whatsoever. when you hear the combination you can not think. You simply have to write it down.

Because I am working at becoming a field type operator as opposed to a desk operator I have to be able to write all this down on paper. There isn't a 110 outlet out in the field where I often operate, hence no real computer. Batteries are expensive and do not last long.The program wants me to write the characters down on the keyboard so it can score me.

This is a case of looking at something and deciding what you want to get out of it and not what the teacher wants you to get out of it. You have to be able to adapt the tool to fit the job. I am writing down the characters on paper and check them afterwards. Right now the results are not very good, but it is just a part of the learning curve.

Most mechanics have a couple of wrenches in their tool box that they have heated up on a torch and bent to a different angle for certain jobs. What I am doing is pretty much the same thing. I am adapting the program to fit my needs.

When I was in school I would do this from time to time in some classes. It drove the teachers nuts and I'd explain that I was learning what I figured I needed in later life and not just regurgitating every word they said. I had one high school teacher that I told this to and he grew thoughtful and told me he wanted to think about my attitude overnight.

The next day he told me that I could run with it and he would spend time with me every so often to see where I was at.

Unknown to him, I was busy learning both plane and sperical. The plane was for being able to figure out stuff like rafter lengths and things like that and the spherical was because I wanted to learn navigation. My dad broke out his WW2 carton of stuff navigational and I learned to solve spherical triangles with his help. In class I learned the plane aspect of geometry.

While my final grade was a B, he quietly told me that the administration had gotten wind of things and he had to stick with the sylabus and give me the B.

The class looked at me like I was nuts when he handed out the finals and made it a point that while everyone had one final, he was handing me two. I did pretty good in the one everyone else had and blew his mind in the second one. He was pretty good about the second final in that he let me use the navigation tables to solve the spherical stuff which were navigational problems. I remember part of the answer to a rafter length problem. It was
something like 13 feet, 3-5/8s inches and the notation next to the numerical answer was 'cut the pencil line'.

I was there when he corrected both finals, but the second one was the one that mattered. He saw the notation and calculated the rafter length and it was some thing just a whisker over the 5/8ths. He was not a tool guy but he could think. He said he would run that by the shop teacher. He did, too and the next day he told me the shop teacher laughed and said the rafter would probably fit pretty good so I got that one right.

I turned out to be right taking the class on my own terms as when I was in the Army my classes on surveying at Fort Sill were a snap as were my Coast Guard tests for my license. I also navigated a sailboat from Honolulu to Tacoma by sextant.

I also became sort of the go-to guy for building cut-up roofs and dormers for a while when I did carpentry up in Alaska and there are most certainly a number of roofs and dormers still standing that I cut.

What is interesting to note is that the teacher was one of those sad souls that nobody really remembers. He wasn't a colorful guy, and seemed to have a drab personality but he was sure good to me and sure helped me end up making a pretty good living in the long run.

He was the only teacher I asked to sign my yearbook.

Anyway, I am adapting this code course to do what I want it to do for me and not what someone else wants me to be able to do. I will learn to write code on PAPER and not on some damned keyboard.


I think I am going to join the American Radio Relay League when I get home.

While they sent me a bunch of nice stuff when I got licensed, I held off until I saw what it was that they did and if I had anyinterest in any of the programs.

They have a couple of times out there a couple of times a week for slow code practice for newbies and they also are the QSL bureau for the International Space Station and both of these interest me. I ought to join.

Another thing I might join is the local club, but I will check it out first. I am not too sure if I would fit in for a couple of reasons. First, I will most likely miss most of the meetings because of work and the other is that I might not fit in unless there are a few people that understand my interest in the hobby. If there are green radio and boat anchor people there I won't have a problem.

The other thing is they are the local Ecomm people and they do a few Ecomm drills a year and they have a pretty good sized trailer full of high tech stuff and my guess is they can go on the air in maybe an hour or two with maybe 200 watts setting up huge antennas with masts.

I saw them a couple of years ago and their setup looked kind of cumbersome to me.

I can go on the air with 30 watts in about thirty seconds. If I want a big antenna it takes five minutes or so, depending on a few variables. Ten or fifteen minutes tops if there are trees nearby.

Sometimes things like this embarrass people like that. They run a trailer with a lot of high tech stuff in it and it needs a place that is vehicle accessible. I don't. If I can walk there I can set up there. They also run off of Honda generators while I run off of a hand generator.

If there are a couple of green radio guys or QRP people I'll fit right in. If not I am going to have to show them that I could compliment them bu filling in the interim time while they are setting up.

We'll see how that works out. My guess is that I will probably fit in after they figure me out.

I may have to change the QTH on my QSL cards from BFE to Outer Mongolia or someplace.


Up. Coffeeing. Computer booted up. Another watch begins. The news is on and I am not going to get a big dose of it or I will get very sarcastic today.

Last night before I racked out I set the code to random words as opposed to random letter groups and I did pretty good. My last 3 minute run was almost understandable. There is hope that I can learn to read code.

This has been a long trip and there are a couple of roasting chickens I can see thawing out on the counter for dinner tonight.

A lot of people tell me that they hear we eat pretty good out here and we actually do but things have changed over the years. As machinery has replaced a lot of the bull work that used to take place out here the amounts of food we consume have dwindled. We don't burn it off like we used to.

In a sense loggers have changed, also. They changed long before we did after the chain saw went into service. Before that it was two man hand powered saws and axes.

While logging is certainly still rigorous it isn't what it was like years ago before the chain saw and other powered conveyances arrived on the job. It's also true out here.

Back before powered capstans and wire machines arrived deckhands used to have to haul in long hawsers by hand. It was hard, cold work and consumed the calories.

Not anymore. As a result the amount of food required has dropped off and most crews have seemed to adjust to the different caloric needs required to stay in halfway decent shape.

Some, of course, have not and there are a few obese people out here. I think part of it is the leadership of the vessel and part of it the individual personality of the crew member.

A while back some idiot started talking about how wonderful the good old days were out here on tugboats. I let him run on about how they ate like kings and got all of this fresh air and exercise and how healthy they all were. I let him run on a while until I sprang my trap.

I pointed out that sometimes deckhands washed over the side hauling in hawser and how there were more hernias, slipped discs, crippling accidents and fatalities than you could shake a stick at and asked him if he was really stupid enough to wish for the good old days.

He mumbled something and shuffled off.

Herman cain just raised his twisted little head and reminded us that he is still an idiot with his endorsement of the American people. He says we are still in charge. Yeah, right. Who is he trying to kid? He's another one I wish would simply go away. Anyone stupid enough not to have himself investigated and have the holes plugged up is too stupid to be president.

We COULD take charge but we would have to start showing up at our representatives offices with torches and pitchforks in some cases and blindfolds and cigarettes in other cases. Most of our representatives live in their own little world and have never had to raise their kids on, say, a mechanics pay.

Incidentally, while I really don't care for Romney I agree with his refusal to apologize for being successful. He is successful. He played the game and succeeded.

Sly Stone of 'Sly and the Family Stone' had a song out years ago named 'You can make it if you try'. He was right then and it still holds. Look at of the people from India and Pakistan that have moved here, looked around and gone straight into the convenience store business and are successful.

Here are so many of them that it has become the an American stereotype and the butt of many jokes.

(Hear about the lottery in India? You buy a dot for a rupee. If it matches the one on your forehead you win a 7-Eleven in New Jersey.)

I have asked a couple and gotten the same answer several times. The look at me like I'm nuts and tell me the same thing: "It's the American dream of owning your own business!"

I know of a couple of them in Pittsburgh that are owned by engineers that in addition to running their own business they work 40+ hours as engineers downtown.

My favorite liquor store is run by Indians and they know how the game is played. They do a damned good job. They give me a pretty dammned good deal on those little quarter pints that I use as tips and bribes while the rest of the stores in the area are too stupid, cheap and greedy to give me a case lot price.

He once told me that he didn't mind doing this because although he didn't make as much money on the case lot deal he still made a little money on the transaction and it was a neat one-shot deal. The money spent on the little bottles pays me dividends as I have posted before. A little nip like that can be traded for an awful lot.

Those guys work long hours and there is quite an amount of bull work shuffling cases of beer and hooch around but I'm pretty sure they do well.

You can still make it if you try. The opportunity is still there.

About 20 years ago I collected unemployment for a few weeks and I was actually in the shoes of an unemployment insurance collecter. When I got a job it was not whole lot more than I was making on unemployment. I remember thinking that I was going back to work for about fifty bucks a week.

What?? You went to work for a measley fifty bucks a week?

In a sense, yes. You look at the numbers. We'll make them simple. Say I was taking home $100 weekly on unemployment and I took a job that made me $120 take home weekly. I have just gone to work for $20/week. That's fifty cents an hour.

I have to admit it makes a person think twice about getting off of their ass and going back to work. It's pretty easy to say 'Why bother?"

While I do not remember the numbers I did go back to work for peanuts.

Actually the reason I bothered is because I saw that it was an entry level job with room for advancement. I had no intention of staying in an entry level position. I didn't. In under six months I was fast tracked into a training program and here I am now.

I'm going to do some code now. Maybe more later.


After several three minute blocs it is time to take a break because it is sort of wierd the way my brain works. I start out (relatively speaking) halfway decent and improve but after awhile I take a dip and brain farts happen and I go the.

Newt Gingrich ought to lose a few pounds. He looks like hell.

Newt is also right in a way when he went after the media last night. They are nothing but $hit stirrers that seem to contribute little except to stick their nose where it isn't wanted.

While I am no fan of Bill Clinton I have to admit the media had a field day over the Monica Lewinsky affair. Then again, Clinton didn't handle it too well, either. He should have taken one of two tacks. He should have either said it was nobody's business and that it ends now or he should have taken the Piccolo route and simply said, "Yeah, So?"

Over the years I have admitted to things I have not even done just to shut people the hell up. I've also denied it by admitting to something worse than I was accused of and said, "So? What's the big deal?" One of my favorite lines was "Besides you, who cares? It sounds like you're just trying to stay off the radar by puttin' me on it. Whaddya YOU got to hide?"

That generally gets people thinking.

The best defense of all, though is to have something on them. Years ago I was dating a woman about 8 or 10 years older than I was. It was a go nowhere situation and we were both seeing each other for fun. She was a hoot. She was also fairly successful and some stuffy woman about her age accused me of trying to be a gold digger.

"She wears big girl panties," I shot back. "Now you answer me a question. I answered yours. How come I saw So and so sneaking out your back door at 3 am? He's only 19 and still a teenager!"

It hits the accuser like a bucket of ice water and the look on her face tipped her hand. It was obviously true. The shoe was now on the other foot.

Anyway I'll have a cup of joe and after I hit the head I'll get back at it.

Shower due during afternoon watch. The engineer said we're doing OK as far as water goes. Good deal.

Someone asked me if I wanted to pick the channel on the TV. Seeing the news is trash I decided that figured an improvement on watching the political arena was in order. I went straight to the Jerry Springer Show. At least the results of that circus are not going to impact a whole lot of us in any appreciable way.

I just made one of the guys snarf. One of the Springer guests did a split and he commented "That's prettty good for a fat chick."

'Yeah, but Steve's gonna have to help her up because I'll bet she sticks to the floor," I replied. "Listen carefully and you can hear the pop!"

Snarf. I caught him at just the right time.

Someone made bratwurst. My belly does not need one of those so I will forego. However, maybe a couple of the peppers he made will serve to loosen a few things up and with few calories. I could use it.

There is an AARP ad on the tube and I am not a member because I see what they did. They started it with an agenda in mind and not nesessarily one that is good for either the public of the retired person.

The first thing they did when they got any number of members is they got various companies to give them all sorts of deals and then the membership grew because they were simply getting pretty good deals on things and members were eligible.

They claim that their membership has a lot of clout and in a way it sure does but there are an awful lot of members that don't see things the way AARP leadership does but are only members for the deals they get on insurance and other things.

A while back they were big on gun control and that is no good thing for a retired guy because there is one easy to use tool that can put an 80 year old man on an even footing with a 22 year old thug. It is called a handgun. Every retiree ought to own one or even two or three if they can afford them.

They also want to simply add to the debt we pass on to our children by getting Uncle Sam to take care of them. I have heard that there is a conservative parallel organization that gets seniors pretty good deals. I'll have to check into them. Maybe they make sense, AARP doesn't.

I'm not going to sell out that cheap.


There is one of those dopey Jean Claude Van Dam movies going on in the background which I glanced at and as usual with much of the TV I am ignoring.

The story I got about that clown is that he really though he was a tough as he was portrayed to be on the silver screen and was strutting around the set bragging that there wasn't anyone on the set that could whip his butt. He then offered a chunk of change to anyone that could and about two seconds later a stuntman took his offer up and had him twisted up like a pretzel.

He supposidly got all pouty and went into his trailer and moped.

While I can not verify the story, it sounds about right.


Code is getting a little better and one of the guys commented that I might be a bit better off if I put a little more space between letters so I could have a little more time to think and recall. He may be right but in a way this is like learning a foreign language.

When an immigrant comes here there is sometimes a pause between the time you finish speaking and he answers. That is because he is translating what you said in his head and forming a reply in his language and then translating it back to English, hence the lag time.

I have watched a guy that works at a local gas station go through this phase and it seemed overnight that he stopped pausing before he answered me. I recently asked him what language he dreamed in and he told me he still dreamed in his native tongue. I told him that when he starts dreaming in both English AND his native tongue that he will have become truly bilingual.

I cannot afford the luxury of time to translate. I have to be able to react to hearing the Morse letter and not have to think. I have to be able to simply write the letter down because I know what it is without translating it.

I'd bet that my Uncle Fred didn't hear the individual letters. I'd bet he heard entire words.


It is a new watch but it is starting early because I have channel fever. I can't sleep.

I'm up after a catnap and refuse to go back to sleep so I'm up and that it that.

Channel fever is generally very near the end of a trip where a guy is keyed up and ready to get off and he can't sleep. I seldom get it and when I do it is long before we get off the boat. I get it about 2/3s of the way through a tour and it is generally preceeded by a couple periods of comatose afternoon sleep so it is really not much of a problem. Tonight I will sleep well.


I should have checked in with Boots and Coots when I was in Houston. They probably don't have a whole lot to do between oil well fires and maybe they could have used the company. Maybe drop by for a little bourbon and tap water and have a good old fashioned Texas barbecue with a couple of Texas good old boys.


The deckhand baked a cake but I won't have any because I do not care for carrot cake for one and even if it was a chocolate cake I would most likely pass as I do not need the extra calories. It looks pretty good, though.

My favorite cake is a simple yellow cake with chocolate frosting. If I don't get a piece of it that is still warm than I wait a day or two for it to age a bit. I like it when it is a day or two old unless it is still warm fresh out of the oven.


Someone asked me "Gee! How come you just don't type the letters down instead of using the pen and paper?" I simply told him because it is a better way to learn and left it at that.

I didn't want to go through all of the explaination of taking a field radio out into the field and strapping a key to my thigh because the next question was sure to be "Why don't you use a microphone and just talk?"

I suppose eventually somebody is bound to ask that question and I already have an answer.

With a straight face I am going to tell him I am taking a secret agent corrospondence course so I can work for the CIA and that I sent in a coupon I got from a magazine along with $19.95 and a specially marked box top from a case of Remington NATO 7.62 ammunition.


Somebody asked me why I don't watch a whole lot of TV out here. I tuned in some so-called action thriller I have never seen and simply started being a commentator.

"Now we have the good guy throwing an entire pail of unlit gasoline about 75 yards at the boat. He hits the boat and the gasoline magically explodes. In a minute we have the helicopter trying to escape scene where he scampers up the skid and gets into a fight with the bad guy and someone gets thrown out but it is too far from the end of the movie to off the bad guy so they both fall out over the water and the helicopter crashes into a cliff and explodes."

"Then the sharks come and the two of them fight over the bouy and the woman has terrific boobs pouring out over the top of her skintight top, just like we see everyday when we go to WalMart only her butt isn't three axe handles wide. It's gorgeous."

"Next the cops overlook 17 major felonies the good guy committed and call him a hero and he runs off with the girl with the great looking boobs. The End."

Now you know why I don't watch a lot of TV, although I have to admit the chick with the big boobs is eye candy.

I ought to write a parody of the exploding cars. The Exploding car movie. Some little kid on a Hot Wheels trike broadsides a car. Boom! a guy taps the bumper of another car as he is pulling out of a parallel parking situation. Both cars go Ka-Boom!

Some guy kicks the tires in used car lot. Another fireball. A 627 car chain crash on I-5 and 627 cars go flying hundreds of feet into the air as huge fireballs. A thousand cars turn into fiery wrecks hurtling through the air.

You know, just like in real life.

In my 60 years man and boy I have seen a couple of cars catch fire from leaking fuel lines and one or two torched but have yet to see one explode. Who is Hollywood kidding?


Slump in the code.

Solution? Put it away for a while and return when I am fresh.


Code is frustrating as there are about six letters I seem to have sort of forgotten or maybe even not hammered theminto my head hard enough. Time to go back to basics and play the hammer the holy hell out of them for a while.

I knew there would be ups and downs and I was willing to accept that. This is a down so I just have to hammer it a bit harder. WHen you get down to it I am actually doing fairly well, all things considered.

I got drafted to do a little marlinspike work. No sweat, all I had to do was get a couple splices started and the deckhand took over and did all the tucks. I made sure he knew how to start it because part of my job here is to teach. Next time I suppose he will start the splice and ask me to check it for him which I cheerfully will.

I have a pretty good reputation for being able to handle a lot of the Old School stuff.

One of the things that happens to a block and a fall is that the lines get twisted over time.

I had a guy tell me that the only thing he can do to get the twists out is to two-block the damned thing and then lower the fall. It is best to put a tagline on the fall so you can pull it down again unless you have a pretty hefty weight on it. He asked me for some sneaky trick to make it easy for him and I laughed and had to tell him that that's the way we have been doing it for centuries.

There are some things that happen while working with lines that there are no clever tricks to make things easier. Sometimes the difference between a newbie and an old salt is that the old salt knows better than try something clever and goes straight back to basics.

Shooting is like that. It is all basics and repetition. There simply is no magic about it. If you go through basic training and truly pay attention you will know about as much as an expert except for one thing. You will have to go through a frustrating period of trying to discover secrets that simply do not exist.

In a lot of cases the same holds true for lines.

Speaking of shooting I think that in addition to taking the PRC-320 on the road I am going to return to the match curcuit but I think I will not restart with an AR-15, but return to where I started. I'm going to shoot a Garand for the first few matches with basic issue ammo of which I have quite a bit sitting around.

I want to start off with a .30 cal and relearn dealing with the blast and recoil and just plain have a little fun before I return to the AR-15. When you learn the basics with a Garand or even a Springfield, you only have to pick up an AR and use what you have learned shooting .30 cal as the Garand is a more difficult rifle to shoot well.

Back in the day when I was shooting at Camp Perry annually I used to practice for the Garand match with a 1903A3 Springfield as it was a bolt gun and the sights were basically the same. It was more difficult to do because I had to work the bolt between shots so when I picked up the Garand it was pretty much a snap. I knew if I could get all 10 of them off in a minute with the old Springfield that I would have plenty of time with the Garand.

The strategy worked because the year I did that I did pretty well in the couple of Garand matches I shot that year. That year I only shot the Garand in matches, never in practice. I'd go into a match cold with the Garand and so rather well.

I think I'll start the season with a Garand and then swap out to the AR-15 halfway through the season after I get tuned up with the Garand and I'll bet you the first time I pick up the AR my scores will go through the roof. (relatively speaking, of course)

I can now feel the motion of the boat changing and word is that it is going to get a little nautical out and the sea will be somewhat lumpy for a while, probably until we duck into the bay.


Rigs like this burn a lot of fuel, maybe upwards of 4000 gallons a day while running hooked up. That sounds like an awful lot until you remember that it is generally towing 2.1 MILLION gallons of liquid cargo.

Although while towing the rig goes through about 17 gallons per mile you have to remember a fuel truck that gets about 6 or 8 mpg only hauls about 3500 gallons. When you figure out the amount of fuel burned to get the cargo moved it sure is a whole lot cheaper than moving it by truck or rail.

It would take about 600 fuel trucks to move what we do. That means 600 trucks, 600 drivers and about 100 gallons of fuel to move that much cargo 1 mile.

We move the same amount of cargo a mile with six or seven guys and 17 gallons of fuel. and when you figure a nautical mile is 6076 feet as opposed to the 5280 of the statute mile that makes it even cheaper yet.

I suppose some bean counter is going to come along and run my figures and tell me I'm all wrong because I rounded 16.6666666666666666666666666 to 17 to make things easier but you get the general idea.

If you are that bean counter, than why don't you take a nice trip to the theological place of eternal punishment and leave the rest of us alone.


One of the things that someone mentioned is the porn library on one of the boats one of the guys sailed on some time ago.

Truth is I have not seen much porn on these rigs in about a decade or more. Rare is even a copy of Playboy, but things like Maxim appear frequently. Maxim is simple cheesecake and all of the models are fairly decently clad for the most part. Sometimes you will see a couple biker type magazines kicking around. They're nothing to speak of.

Someone mentioned that a while back he sailed on a rig with a pretty good sized collection of smut DVDs but the truth is that is somewhat of a rare boat.

Maybe a decade ago the porn on these rigs slowly started disappearing. I can't explain it and it really makes no difference to me as I couldn't care less but it is interesting to note.

When I first came into this business there was generally a stack of various porn magazines about a foot thick along with a pretty good collection of VHS movies but they seem to have slowly disappeared.

Maybe the dynamics of the crews has changed, who knows?

While I don't miss them at all it is interesting that they have disappeared.


I looked briefly at the upcoming S.C. primary that is being held today.

It might be a horse race between Newt and Mitt.

Ron Paul is still there making a pain in the a$$ out of himself. While he had to test the waters he is pretty much considered unelectable and ought to simply drop out but he won't. He'll most likely continue being a thorn in everyone's side and run as a third party candidate and insure that we have four more years of Obama because the Paulbots will be childish and vote for him even though he has no choice whatsoever of being elected.

The will split the ticket and insure the reelection of Obama and we will have to deal with four more years of just plain stupidity and hard times.

I caught a little bit of the story but did not get the entire thing but I understand one or two of the missing passengers from the ill fated cruise liner have turned up in Germany. If it is actually so I am not surprised. I would probably just quietly hop on a plane home as soon as I hit the beach if I was evacuated from a sinking cruise liner.

I am somewhat surprised that more people simply didn't do just that.

There really isn't any percentage I can see with hanging out on some dock waiting for some stuffy indignant cruise company fat lady to show up and try and put me up in some fleabag hotel somewhere in downtown Italy. Why? What's the point? You might just as well either go home or simply spend the rest of your vacation doing something else.

Piccolo? Piccolo? Where is Piccolo? I haven't checked him off the list!

"Piccolo! Piccolo! Anyone seen Piccolo? Pic---col---o! Pic--col-oo! Anyone seen Piccolo?" Calls out the frantic fat lady from the cruise comany as she slowly goes out of her mind.

Meanwhile up in the Swiss alps Piccolo (having swiped the cask of brandy from a passing St. Bernard) sits atop some mountaintop learning to yodel through one of those big horns. "Yodel-a-e-a-e-yodel-a-e-yooo!"

The Swiss yodeling teacher sees another passing St. Bernard and points it out to Pic. "Das eiss man's best friend," he says to Piccolo.

"Yeah," Answers Pic. "And look at the size of the dog carryin' it!"

Meanwhile, back at the dock..."Yoo-hoo! Yoo-hoo! Pic--co--lo!"


Another watch begins.

Welcome, my friend, to the show that never ends. (Thanks, Bob)

Looks like there is going to be about two minutes of activity on deck, not much. Someone is just going to check a couple of things but because I am bored I will go along to provide security. I will man the fire axe in case we get attacked by sea serpents. If I see a tenacle slithering on board I will grab the fire axe and chop it off.

Anyway that is what I just told the engineer and he said he was relieved that someone would courageously perfom this duty. He said he feels much safer.

While none of us have been personally attacked by sea serpents whe have heard stories of this happening. Of course, part of my duties will be keeping a lookout for mermaids.

There is a special way to catch a mermaid. It is called the perfect circle diamond hook. There is not a mermaid out there that cannot resist putting a diamond ring on her finger. When she puts the perfect circle diamond hook on her finger the pressure of the line cants the circle and jams it so she can not remove it. Then you reel her in.

I have been trying to catch a mermaid for quite some time but they are pretty rare. One of the things that I have never understood is why the government has not put them on the endangered species list.

While we are on the subject of endangered species, you haven't seen a whole lot of naugahide wallets lately. How come naugas are not on the list?

Perhaps this important issue will be brought up during the upcoming election.

Some time ago I saw a campaign to save the skeets but it didn't get very far. While people shoot skeets by the million there never seems to be a shortage of them because they are so prolific. They seem to reproduce as fast as they get shot to pieces. Skeets are not being considered for inclusion on the endangered species list at this time.


Speaking of saving skeets, I sort of figure that if a guy took out a page ad in something like USA today starting a campaign on this major issue he could probably turn a profit.

"Every day thousands of skeets are brutally murdered by people calling themselves sportsman. End the senseless slaughter of these poor clay birds. Your generous donation could put an end to this disgraceful and senseless slaughter! Send your charitable donation to Piccolo Enterprises now! Act now! Operators are standing by!"

I maintain there are enough idiots in this country to make this a profitable venture until Uncle Sam stepped in.

Of course, the government considers it's job to protect stupid people from things like this.

Canada Bill Jones looks at it in a different light. "It is morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money," I read somewhere.


I looked astern and saw the rhythmatic rising and falling of the heavy bridle of out tow. It tells me we are in perfect syncronization with the motion of the sea. The average guy looks at the heavy bridle as overkill and from a structural point of view it probably is. The reason it is so big and overbuilt is because weight is desired to absorb the shock.

The reason a lot of cable is put out is partially for weight. The heavy cable has a lot of sag in it and the sag provides a lot of shock absorbtion for both the tug and the tow to keep it from jerking and banging. It is a pretty primitive system when you look at it but it is cost efficient and it works quite well.

One drawback is that the middle of the cable sinks pretty deep and if you get into water that is too shallow the cable can drag on the bottom. You have to pay attention to the water depth to prevent this.

The space between the tug and tow is a dangerous spot to be and one thing that ought to be rammed into the heads of recreational boaters is to stay the hell away from that particular spot.

Every so often some kamikaze in a speedboat doesn't realize that the tow is attached to the tug with a cable and decided to cut between the two units. While if the moron times things right and goes smack between the tug and tow he will often get away with it, lousy timing can result in either having the motor snagged by the cable followed by being run over or even a lifting cable tearing the bottom out of the entire boat.

We just hit an internet pocket so I am posting now

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