Saturday, February 28, 2009

I couldn't resist...

I went and bought another guitar today. But before I go any further, I must ask you, my esteemed reader, to bask in it's glory.

Yes, I bid for it on Ebay on the off chance I could get it for 450 (they usually go for about 500 to 800) and I got it!
It's a baritone guitar, which means it's somewhere in between a standard and a bass guitar. They were used in the early days of country music for their twangy, deep tone, and today they are used by many heavy metal bands to add weight to their sound.
I have wanted a baritone for a long time because A:I often find myself wishing that I could play just a couple notes lower than my standard guitar goes, and B:It would be nice to be able to play bass lines if I am accompanying another guitarist.

Now the hard part: I have to wait until I get back to play it!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Worth the drive

I was planning to head over to New Orleans for Mardi Gras last weekend, but I got the call on Friday that I would have to go back out to sea early Monday morning. Also, my buddy who I was going to go with bailed on me. This was probably all for the best. I don't really get it anyway. I'll go next year.
Then I got a call from Mom saying my sister Ruth was coming up from College Station, so I said I'd be there. It's a seven hour drive from my house in Lafayette to my parent's in Dallas. I got there at midnight, and Mom, Dad, Ruth and I stayed up chatting as late as we could. Saturday, I hung out with Dad and Grandma for a while, then headed to Joe's with Mom and Grandma. We all had a nice time there and Mom and I took Sterling home with us. Sunday, Sterling skipped church with me and we watched Home Alone. He was very skeptical at first, but by the end, he was in stitches. Then he kicked my butt in Candyland. Twice. Then we went to the park with Mom. Then Mom, Dad, Grandma, Joe, Jessica, Winter, Sterling, and Ginger and I had an early dinner and I had to start driving.
Back in Lafayette by nine that evening, driving down to Fourchon (on the coast) by five A.M., and out in the Gulf by Monday night. I hope I can stay out here more than a week this time.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tertiary education

This week, I got cable internet installed in my home. Since it no longer takes half of my day to catch up on email, blogging, banking etc., I am free to surf the web in the classic sense of the word. My favorite thing about is not that they play any music you want, but that they have information about said music. I was reading about Peter Tosh, who was Bob Marley's guitarist and later a solo act, and came across references to some controversial political statements that got him banned in his native Jamaica. This lead me to some black nationalist websites. This led me to read about some astonishingly blatant abuses of the justice system that took place in the 1960's. This lead me to read about some equally astonishing abuses of the justice system that are taking place right now. This lead me to this very some very disturbing questions:

1. Why is the civil rights movement taught to us in schools as history? It's current events. Mumia Abu Jamal is still on death row for an obvious frame-up.

2. Why did they teach me about MLK, but not X? He was equally important, just not as nice.

3. Why do I know that England fought a hundred year war with France, but absolutely nothing about China, who is far more important in the world?

4. Why did I have to read penny paperback garbage like Bronte instead of Faulkner? I never studied Faulkner in school. Only at the ripe age of 27 am I finally able to grip the true brilliance of his work because I had to figure it all out by myself just like Salman Rushdie (thanks, Mom,) and Lao Tzu (thanks, Angela,) and Fyodor Dostoyevsky (thanks, Dad.)

There have got to be more of them: vast gaps in my American education which gave me some gross misconceptions about the world around me. Good thing I'm still young, because I've still got a lot to learn.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


So there's a Thunderstorm going on outside. I am sitting at my computer with my speakers plugged into my laptop, but no music playing (even audiophiles need a little quiet once in a while). The silence is broken by a brief crackle of static over the speakers. This is followed a second later by the sound of distant thunder! My only assumption is this: the speakers picked up the electromagnetic pulse emitted by the lightning bolt at light speed, and the thunder followed at the relatively slow speed of sound. How cool is that? Whoa, it just happened again!

This reminds me of another story that my family members will appreciate: When I was signing up for the Navy, I was at the recruiter's office filling out a mound of paperwork. When they asked me my religious background for burial purposes, I said Mormon. This elicited a round of cliche' Mormon jokes from the salty dog recruiters. Just then lightning struck close enough that we saw and heard it at the same time. There was a brief period of silence in the room as the backup generator kicked in and light was restored. Needless to say, the recruiter was without irreverent comments for the remainder of the afternoon.

It also reminds me of the blessing of a certain newborn nephew of mine, whose invocation invoked lightning from the heavens, and killed power to the microphone, necessitating the shouting of the rest of the prayer.

But this whole idea of lightning being the power of God is probably just a holdover from the pagan faiths of the Greeks and Romans, so I'm just going to enjoy the fact that modern technology allows us to hear the EMP fields of arcing electricity through household speaker systems.

P.S. If you have any doubts that I am my father's son after reading this, you must not know my father.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Voyage home

Well, the seas are getting too rough for surveying, so we're heading back to the dock, and I'm heading home from there. I've learned a little about my job, but a trained monkey could do what I do until something goes wrong, and nothing really went wrong on this run.
What I have been able to accomplish is to stay completely caught up with reading blogs, news, facebook, and wikipediaing absolutely everything that crosses my mind. All that and I still have time to do my job, sleep 10 hours a day, and still feel bored sometimes. Next time, I'm bringing my laptop, some books, a guitar, and a fishing pole.
I've got some pictures, but no way to get them off my phone right now, so later.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The other half of the World

Ahh, mighty Atlantis. I feel like I'm cheating on my old lady the Pacific. I'm currently bobbing around in a little corner known as the Gulf of Mexico. It sure is nice to have access to the web at sea. Almost feels like I'm not really at sea, just sleeping at work for a few days. I am on the good ship "Miss Ginger." She is a 160 foot work boat loaded with survey equipment. The seas are about five feet and coming from the side. That's about all the equipment can take on a relatively small boat like this. I've never been seasick before, but we'll see what a week of the does to me. I am working in the lab where my job is to monitor the status signals coming up from the untethered, unmanned submarine that is about 3000 feet below us right now as it gathers data about the seafloor. I am actually doing that and writing this post simultaneously because the screens are right next to each other.
I think I am in love with this job. They tell me this is the smallest and least accommodating boat the company has, but it seems like a 5 star hotel to me! There are only four bunks in my cabin, and each one only has one person who sleeps in it! The cook is from Louisiana, so the food is excellent, and no one has mentioned anything about water conservation yet, so I guess I can take real showers, too! My shift is 12 hours per day, but that's not so bad because I can get up and leave for a minute and the other guy in here can watch my instruments and vice versa. The other crewmembers seem like an ok bunch. There are actually four different companies who have people on board: C and C, who are the survey guys (myself included), the boat crew who work for the same company that leases the boat to us, the galley crew who work for an offshore catering company, and the client representatives who work for our clients (duh). I continue to be amazed at the difference in average IQ between civilian and military environments.
Everyone knows that there are lots of offshore oil rigs in the Gulf, but it's just unreal how many there are out here. In the shallow areas where they have been drilling for decades, I could see about 100 of them off one side of the boat! They are beautiful to see shimmering in the distance at night. The Gulf coast is a strange place; almost surreal. There is no distinct coast. You just go south and there's less and less land and more and more water. Miles and miles of flat marshland laced with bayous and waterways and dotted with piers, helipads, shipyards, and other rig support facilities.
I'll be back sometime this weekend. Easy run.