Thursday, March 26, 2009

I am so shallow

So I am trying the online dating thang, and it has shown me that in spite of all my progressive ideas, and lofty aspirations, I am basically just like every other jerk out there. If I was really the compassionate nice guy that I see myself as, I would be giving the girl with severe cerebal palsy a chance. It's so sad and brave the way she went out there and posted pictures of herself, mentioned that she was just like other girls if you know what she means, and dared guys to give her a chance. Sorry, but I'm just not that guy. Or the lady that was like "I'm almost 40, I have two kids, three teeth, and I'm 250 pounds. If you're still interested we can talk." That was it. She meant it as a joke, but I think it's kind of sad. So what did I do? I messaged the cutest girl I could find whose write up showed the most promise of being fun to go out with, of course. I'm only human.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


It seems like any time I feel like blogging anymore, I feel like posting about two unrelated subjects, so here's the second post in one sitting:
My Basil plant is blooming! It's gonna have kids! The way things grow down here in the swamp, I'm gonna be rolling in home-made pesto all year! I bought a box with four full grown plants at a nursery for like six bucks. That's how much a bottle of dried basil costs at the supermarket. Apparently two were female and two were male. One of them died because I can't water them when I'm working offshore, so I have to hope it rains enough. The other one with flowers (I don't know if it's the males, or the females that produce fruit) is doing quite well, and today I noticed three flowers that look like tiny white orchids.

I'm not claiming to have a green thumb yet, though. the plants I have tried to raise from seeds are all dead, or in pretty bad shape from bugs eating at them. Oh well, looks like I at least have some free basil seeds coming.

My favorite contemporary authors

Disclaimer: The following is just random rambling about books. It contains no news about my life. Feel free to skip it. I don't know why I feel like blogging about it.

I was in the shower today and started thinking about books. Wally Lamb, the author of the book I am currently reading, is sometimes compared to Dostoyevsky because of his ambitious themes. It's 800+ pages of character/concepts whose desperation, disillusion, and tribulations mirror modern America's interpretations of universal truth. I'm not finished, but I am pretty sure the hero will eventually find redemption instead of just flirting with it like Dostoyevsky's protagonists. Otherwise, there wouldn't be an Oprah's book club sticker on the cover.
This got me thinking about Cormack McCarthy. He is the author of No Country For Old Men, which was recently adapted for the screen by the Cohen brothers (they wrote and directed O Brother Where Art Thou.) McCarthy writes with an unorthodox style not unlike Hemingway's. No Country For Old Men also deals with how twisted modern America has become, but, also like Hemingway, offers no glimmer of hope; no light at the end of the tunnel. The story is as stark and cruel as the style it's written in.
These portraits of my generation reminded me of Fight Club and it's author Chuck Palahniuk (yes, that's how it's spelled, don't ask me to say it.) Chuck also deals with my generation, even going so far as to comment on it directly in Fight Club. By the way, the title of this blog comes from Fight Club. It's one character's answer when she's asked why she attends cancer support groups every night when she doesn't have cancer. This is typical of Palahniuk's characters. Another one finds emotional and financial support from strangers by going to restaraunts and purposely choking on his food so people can "save his life." If there is a father to Chuck Palahniuk's style, it would have to be Kurt Vonnegut because of his lack of boundary between reality and fantasy. Anything can and does happen in his books.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Surreal images

There have been many times since I started working offshore that I had to double check what I was actually seeing. Most of the time, the world of heavy industry is functional and aesthetically barren, but sometimes there are some truly bizarre and beautiful things to see:

These anchor chains were just piled up in this shipyard as far as the eye could see. They're just too big. For some reason I was reminded of Salvador Dali.

This was yesterday. My first day surveying for NOAA. I was driving the boat over an imaginary line on the bottom. There was no frame of reference, so I had to drive just by instruments. I couldn't even see the horizon. I felt like I was on some other planet where there was no difference between liquid and gas. The sea, air, and land are all mixed together here.

I am well on my way to becoming a boat captain if I ever decide that a sailor's life is truly the life for me.

Picture Post!

Here are some pictures I have taken during my first few weeks of working in the Gulf. I just use my phone for pictures these days. They aren't great, but they are almost as good as the ones my cheap digital camera takes, and I always have my phone handy for a photo op.

This is just a great sunset.

This is the landscape around the "coast" of Louisiana. Super flat.

This is a particularly large, deep water oil rig. Top of the line. This is as close as our boat was allowed to get to it.

The next two pictures are of a "jack-up boat." These are portable drilling platforms that propel themselves to wherever they need to drill, and then extend the big legs to the bottom, and climb up them until they are 20 or 30 feet above the surface. We were docked right next to this one, so I had to get it in two shots.

And top:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


One of the very few things I accomplished during the 24 hours of free time at home that I got yesterday was accepting delivery of and setting up my new baritone guitar. I had to remove the strings in order to reattach a pickup that had been jarred loose during shipping. Strings shouldn't be reused, so I had to go buy more. While I was at the music store, I got a distortion pedal, too. A distortion pedal is what gives rock and heavy metal music that crunchy, buzzy sound. The barrel chested tone of my new axe (I named her Wanda after actress/comedian Wanda Sykes) combined with the savage, caffeinated overdrive provided by the pedal, have rendered me capable of a whole new level of sonic brutality.
I played all day, and today my wrist is killing me. Because of the large strings and added tension, baritones are probably the least ergonomic guitar you can play. I've heard horror stories of surgeries followed by years of being unable to play all because of bad form and ergonomics. Guess I better start focusing on using a lighter touch instead of my usual heavy metal deathgrip.

It's been so long

Oops! Haven't posted in weeks! Brace yourselves, good readers, for a long catchup post. Here's the deal. I was summoned to go work offshore on the Miss Ginger (do ship names go in italics, or quotes? Please respond if you happen to have a master's degree in English) again, and that went well, but it was a short job, so I was back the next week. We are currently out of work for the AUV's. I don't want to complain, but why did they hire me if they didn't have any contracts lined up?
Anyway, just a day and a half after returning from the Ginger, I got a call saying they need me on one of the shallow water surveying vessels to take some samples of the ocean floor on the route that I had just finished surveying the week before. So I shipped out on the Moana Wave for what was supposed to be a three or four day job, and turned out to be more than I bargained for... Coring involves lowering either a 24 foot steel syringe-looking machine or a big weighted box to the ocean floor and hoping the device captures a sample of the top few feet of mud in a relatively pristine condition. In this case, the purpose is to see what kind of pipeline to lay there based on how much weight the mud can hold up.
After eighteen hours of travel time, we were on site. Add a couple hours to test conditions, and we were ready to go. We were about halfway to the seafloor on our first cast when we realized that there wasn't enough cable on the winch to reach the bottom. Not even close. This mistake cost us three days of transit time (there, back, and there again,) one afternoon to replace the cable, and it cost the foreman his job. Scary. Anyone could have made that mistake. After that was all sorted out, we started working with no more hangups, but now we were short handed, and three of the eight man team were totally new at this type of work. What that boiled down to was eighteen hour shifts. I worked longer hours during those three days than I ever have in my life, and I've worked at about 20 different jobs since I was sixteen.
So I got back from that job the day before yesterday, and now there's no work for that boat either. Today I got a call saying I am going to work for another department surveying for NOAA. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is the people who publish and update nautical charts in the US. The seafloor is more dynamic than the dry land because water is better at carrying stuff than air. After a hurricane, ports are unnavigable until they have been re-surveyed. So I will be staying in a cabin by the beach, and every day I will go out and survey in a little 15 foot boat, and every night I will get to come back to the comfy cabin with high speed internet, and real beds. This beats living on a boat, and we still have a cook that comes and makes us dinner every night. Also, this will be the first time in six years that I will be working with women. My boss says I'll be doing this until further notice, and probably all summer.
Ok, so long post, but now I'm caught up. I have noticed that most fellow bloggers don't write about work, but it's all I got for the last couple weeks, and it's a new job, so I gotta get it down, so you, my esteemed reader, will know what I mean when I write that I was at work in future posts. Coming soon: pictures from the Gulf. I'm out of time.