It's a wonder that this blog hasn't been erased from Blogger over the year that I've been ashore. Haven't written since February, so it's not like it's been a year. Mostly, I've been writing over at my "shore-side" blog, Coop de Kitchen. Well, even over there I haven't been as diligent as one could be.
Well, keeping with my established maritime theme, it's time to announce that I'll be (finally!) heading back to sea next month. I was cleared to return to work by my Orthopedic surgeon last month, so it's time to ship again. The only difference will be that I will be flying to Hawaii to find a ship. I spent some time "handicapping" jobs, and it turned out that all the steady jobs have been taken. Nothing will open up in Seattle until November and December. Because of that, I decided to head to Hawaii.
I've twice shipped from the Los Angeles/Long Beach (Wilmington) hall, and I must confess that hanging out there is kind of depressing. I didn't have full seniority at the time, so my wait, both times, was for much longer than I cared. The only upside was that the hotel rooms I stayed at were relatively inexpensive. On the downside, Wilmington is not a terrific place to kill time waiting for over a month. Yeah, great Mexican food, but my constitution can handle only so much of that through a week of dining.
I suppose San Francisco would be a fun place to hang out. There are so many things one can do in town while waiting for a ship--and all within easy reach by walking or using public transit. The Museum of Modern Art is very close to the San Francisco union hall (headquarters!). I've also walked across town to the North Beach neighborhood to City Lights Bookstore, the Vesuvio Cafe, and even Specs. The idea here is to make the pilgrimage to City Lights, buy a book or several (I have a problem with that, which I explained to the sales clerk at CL, the last time I visited there and was paying up. I confessed to him that I can't seem to leave a bookstore without spending at least $50. He then smirked, as I finished speaking. I immediately understood what just happened. "How much?" I asked him. "$50.40," was his reply. Ouch!) and then retire next door to Vesuvio or cross the street to Specs. I have found that the combination of beer and books does lend toward a form of relaxed concentration that assists absorption of the reading material. Inevitably, while reading, the opportunity for an interesting conversation often presents itself. This is probably one of the best things one can do with excess time while in San Francisco.
Sadly, San Francisco is one of the most expensive places in the country to spend time in. I can't imagine how much it would cost to stay in a hotel anywhere in town. The only other option for me would be to stay somewhere in Oakland near Jack London Square, which is very close to where the Matson containerships dock. I doubt lodging would be any cheaper there than in S.F. The only advantage in staying in Oakland would be the greater ease of hauling my sea bags to the ship I just snagged. On the other hand, staying in S.F. makes getting to the hall a lot easier. Meh... Whatever...
So I decided to head to Hawaii. Why? Because, in a nutshell, I got wind of a job opening up next month on a ship that will head straight to Seattle after leaving Honolulu. Can't beat that! It pretty much operates on the same northern loop route as the last two Matson ships that I was on: Honolulu, Seattle, Oakland, Honolulu, Seattle, etc. A two-week round trip between those three ports. On top of that, I hear that the Manoa stays longer in Seattle than either the Kauai or the Maui, which I sailed on last year. I'll finally get a guaranteed full night's sleep and a whole day off at home while in Seattle. Can't beat that.
All that aside, though lodging in Honolulu is normally very expensive, I did find one place for just under $80/night. That is practically unheard of. There is also a bus stop about half a block from the hotel that goes direct to the Honolulu union hall, taking less than 25 minutes. To add to the savings I found between lodging and transportation, there are a lot of cheap eats to be found in Hawaii. This is a passion for the many locals who have to work at least two jobs to barely make a living. Fortunately, there are lots of inexpensive dining options very close to the hotel. Good flavor and big servings. No going hungry and broke at the same time in Hawaii. Just "broke yo' face" the food is so good.
My other ambition, while in Hawaii, is to visit the top two ukulele manufacturers there. KoAloha and Kamaka sit at the pinnacle of Hawaiian ukuleles. In history, Kamaka is the last of the original Hawaiian makers. They were founded in 1916 and continue to make quality instruments. KoAloha are relative new-comers, having started as recently as 1995. I happened to have bought one of their soprano ukuleles (100% koa wood!!!) in 2000, over at a kiosk in Ala Moana Mall, after getting off of a Chevron tanker ship. It is no surprise that KoAloha has achieved the level of success they have over the subsequent years, if the quality of my little ukulele is proof and testament. The clarity and purity of tone and amount of volume is jaw-dropping. It is easily one of the finest instruments that I own. I plan on visiting both plants after job call.
Well, I hope to continue blogging here, once I head to Hawaii. It should be fun over the couple of days I will be spending there. No rent-a-car, though, if I can help it. I doing this all on the cheap as possible.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
5 Right-Wing Governors Gutting Schools to Fund Prisons, Tax Breaks for the Rich...And a Bible Theme Park | | AlterNet
This is soooo extra special. Is the problem that these jokers' right hands are clueless about what their left hands are doing? Is it that they are forcing a future justification for a police state? Or is it they are all a bunch of assholes? Hmm... It sure makes you wonder is the dream of total privatization of America is actually a nightmare in the making. On top of that, it's clear that the whole endeavor is going to cost tax payers a crap load of money to finance this nightmare. Read on:
5 Right-Wing Governors Gutting Schools to Fund Prisons, Tax Breaks for the Rich...And a Bible Theme Park | | AlterNet
Monday, January 30, 2012
I really don't want to see the U.S. have to go through what's happening in Europe.
"Because far from the President wanting to follow Europe, it's actually the Republicans, both those running for President and those already elected to the House who desperately want to follow that continent."
Since it should be obvious by now that austerity, as a fiscal policy, leads to the kind of unemployment numbers we are seeing in Europe, then why are there members of Congress who are still pushing it?
Against all this shit going on in our country, it might be useful to examine the histories of Sweden and Norway, and their approach to financial uncertainty. Uh, no, not in our current times. They avoided all the mess we and the rest of Europe are in the middle of. The change they created happened before we were born (had to "touch up" things a bit during the 60's, though). Read:
While I do believe Capitalism can work (only if harnessed, like a horse or an ox, for the common good), Norway and Sweden are examples of Socialism done correctly. The common wealth for the common good is the only answer.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
14 Punctuation Marks That You Never Knew Existed
Just a quicky post on this BuzzFeed page. Punctuation!!! I am a grammar geek! I many not know all the in's and out's of the English Language, but that doesn't mean that I don't love a well-crafted sentence or paragraph. On top of that, I also love typography. These lovely dingbats (printers' term for figures other than letters and basic punctuation) do make my mind expand over the intentions of these readerly road signs.
I have to thank Neko Case for Re-Tweeting 826 National's original tweet. For the ignorant, Neko Case is an indie music artist with a serious set of pipes and a writer of curious, brilliant songs. If you've never heard her sing, your aural life remains incomplete. Her break-through album was Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Not a bad way to start, though Blacklisted is super-awesome, too. Actually, all of her albums are worth the listen. 826 National, in their words, "is a family of eight non-profit organizations dedicated to helping students, age 6-18, with expository and creative writing." I'm glad there is an organization dedicated to helping school-age kids learn the ropes of writing. All to learn how to raise the sails of language, to heave ahead the vessel of expression.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Well, it would seem that Blogger isn't into the Anti-SOPA/PIPA protest enough to make it easy to blackout ones blog. Like, come on?! They know SOPA/PIPA would ill-affect them. They gotta make it easy for the community to express themselves together. In lieu of that, here is this link to assist anyone visiting here with the means to join voice and effort towards fighting Internet censorship. Please click through or copy and paste this link: http://sopastrike.com/strike/ This is my protest.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Please visit this site for the image: Boy vs Army. It will touch your hopeful, angry humanity.
"Boy vs Army" reminds me of Francesco Messina's defiant bronze statue of "David", located in the Vatican Museums in Rome: What's pressing back against oppression, rising against the giant. Here, the boy is wading through the tide. The diff is Messina's boy has a shank in his hand: Time for the head to come off. These boys have the same jug ears.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Speaking of drugs: And then there is Twitter.
I think this might be the start of my second year tweeting. I tell you, it's entirely possible to spend way too much of your time involved with that form of social media. In these times of #OWS, the #99%, Anonymous, WikiLeaks, and the obvious slanting of the news by most of mainstream media, it's very hard to keep myself from falling nose-first into Twitter and the independent reporting and witnessing going on there. Since I'm practically house-bound these days, I've been addicted to re-tweeting posts with links to good reporting, thoughtful essays, and on-the-ground witnessing. Of course, there are the tweets with the potential of becoming a powerful meme. Love to RT those, too.
As exciting and informative as Twitter can be, you know you might have a problem when you wake up in the middle of the night (for what ever reason) and end up staying up an extra hour or three staring at your mobile device while in bed. My bad. Sometimes I wonder if Twitter is more suited to people who are either single or with a partner equally into it.
Just the same, it was very exciting to follow the role the Anonymous collective had with the Occupy BART protests against the killing of an unarmed man by BART police--and then to the Occupy Wall Street movement. I'm impressed by the way Anonymous utilized social media to mobilize public sentiment to public statement. As a member of a society struggling to become a more perfect democracy, I find this to be a good thing.
And it makes it that much harder for me to stay away. Oh well...
About a week or so after I came home from 90 days on the containership S.S. Maui, I made my appointment with my general practitioner at Group Health Co-operative. My right knee had been nagging me something fierce since the first night I sailed on the Maui. Actually, it was more like a three or four year old nagging in the knee got substantially worse. That was back in August.
He then referred me to get an X-ray and, eventually, an MRI. Sure enough, I had a lateral tear in my right meniscus and my ACL was barely hanging on by a few threads. I was wondering why my knee made popping sounds on occasion. The discovery then put me on track to Orthopedics and the certainty of surgery.
It is now mid-December. My surgery was on the first. Oxycodone is now my friend. Why do I say that? Well, my first night back after going under the knife was brutal with pain. We're talking the teeth-chattering kind. The crummy part of waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and finding yourself in that much pain was finally realizing that the hinge of my knee brace wasn't properly aligned with my knee. In other words, the brace was trying to make my knee bend where it wasn't supposed to. I'd say that the pressure point was located approximately where my ACL graft was anchored inside my shin bone. I ended up taking an extra pill, though I was already taking two every four hours. Not good at all. Eventually, I did figure out what the real problem was and adjusted the brace a little further up my thigh. Quite the rite of passage.
This isn't the first time I've had that kind of surgery. The first time was back in the winter of 1997/98, when I first tore my ACL and meniscus in the same knee. Back then, the surgeon took a graft from my hamstring to repair the ACL and sutured the deepest of the three tears in the meniscus. The difference between the two grafts is that the first one was not as robust of a piece of tissue. I suppose that might have something to do with the recent failure. This time around, my surgeon went to the Tissue Bank for something as robust as a normal ACL.
On the side of recovery, I feel lucky this time around, because my surgery happened before my ACL completely failed. Had it completely ruptured, I would not have been walking on the days leading up to the surgery and maintaining leg strength. Back in 1998, I had been on crutches for the month leading up to the surgery. Yes, I had been in physical therapy prior, but it's not the same as actually walking around. I feel lucky this time around.
And the drugs? Umm... For the first time in my medical history of having to use pain killers, I have to say that I actually have come to wonder about the effect the opiates have upon my "thinking." I know that sounds strange, but I've been having these moments when my imagination kind of squirrels to one side, and I end up saying some odd things. What do I mean by that? Well, imagine yourself suddenly coming up with something kind of witty or funny. However, the bug is that, yes, what you end up saying is kind of funny and witty--except that there's this weird edge to what you say. It's kind of like saying something creepy without actually being creepy. Maybe "fringy-weird-funny" might be more accurate. If I were a comedian, I would expect nervous giggling coming from the audience as the appropriate response.
I can't say that I've felt this kind of weirdness before. Or, at least, noticed it before. I just hope it doesn't get out of hand. Margaret gives me these odd glances every now and then. I've already shared all this with her, so she at least has some context to better understand what's happening when I say off-kilter stuff. Oh well.