About Me

A slightly over-educated sailor sharing the wet and dry sides of his life.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Boy Vs Army

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...

Knee Surgery

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.


Saturday, October 08, 2011

Saturday, July 09, 2011

A Better Blog App?

I hate this iBlogger app. It really sucks compared to the Wordpress app for iPhone and iTouch. Any recommendations out there? Look at the way the pics got cropped! I did my best to avoid that but to no avail. I can't even go back to correct it. This sucks.

The Sadness of a Purple Finch

Purple Finch

Purple Finch

This tiny bird did not make it. One of my shipmates, Mike El Mobdy, found this purple finch a day out of Oakland and while washing down the ship's bridge wings. The first bad sign was that it was so easily caught. I tried feeding it water and some crackers, but it wouldn't take. After an hour or so, it fell over in a seizure and died. Kind of bleak.

Though I identify this bird as a Purple Finch, there were some odd differences from the description I found in my Sibley's field guide. Though the indicative "eye lashes" and the split lobed tail were present, this bird was at least an inch smaller and the tail length was clearly shorter than depicted in the illustration. Odd.

Weird Stuff Part 3



I found this bird in the same hold as the mystery fish. Seabirds often crash land on ships during the night. Since this particular cargo hold has no cover, it's not that surprising to find a dead bird down there. Not much runway to find the needed lift to get out of there--especially for an alcid.

More Weird Stuff

Mystery Fish

Mystery Fish

I found these fish while sweeping out a cargo hold. Don't recognize the species. How did they get down there is a mystery to me.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Marine Life

Pacific White Sided Dolphin

Pacific White Sided Dolphin

An amazing day for seeing marine life! The Maui left Seattle around 4:00 am. and was exiting the Straits of Juan de Fuca when I came on watch, just before noon. Probably within the first 90 minutes, 2nd Mate Mark Cooper and I saw what must have totaled over a hundred Pacific White Sided dolphin. We also spotted Dall's porpoise, seals, sharks cruising at or just below the surface, and even a baleen whale that tried to hide its presence by exhaling underwater. Overall an awesome afternoon on the bridge.

Weird Stuff Found on Ship part 1

Red-tailed Tropicbird

Red-tailed Tropicbird

Here are a couple of pictures of some odd or unusual things I've encountered aboard ship.

The first is a Red-Tailed Tropicbird. I actually encountered it while aboard my last ship, the Matson containership S.S. Kauai. However, since my current ship, the S.S. Maui, is the sister ship to the Kauai and replaced her on the same run, it seemed fair game.

This bird was found stranded and seasick. Seasick? Yes. The ship's motion is too foreign to seabirds and leaves them too incapacitated to fly off. This one received a hand from me and held over the railing to fly back to the water.

Mobile Blogging from here.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Before Arrival @ The Dock

The Stern Gang Hanging Out Before Docking

The Stern Gang Hanging Out Before Docking

Here's Lou Hollings, Nick Hoogendam, and 3rd Mate Mary Grimshaw. We're waiting for the tug to show up. They're a great bunch of people to work with. Together, we make it look easy.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

S.S. Maui in Honolulu

View from the bridge

View from the bridge

This is a view from the Maui bridge wing, looking towards Downtown Honolulu and Diamond Head in the distance.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Beautiful San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

Sailing Into SF Bay

Golden Gate Bridge Astern

Golden Gate Bridge Astern

Back To Sea

Aboard the S.S. Maui

Aboard the S.S. Maui

I reported aboard the Maui on Saturday morning, sailed Sunday morning around midnight, and am ashore in Oakland, CA. Not much left to do by the time the ship was fast alongside the dock and the molasses barge tied up and hose connected.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Government Shutdown Hinged On This???

Unbelievable! I can't believe that the House GOP are so willing to throw women's health issues under the bus in the name of shutting down government. The link to the ABC webpage is in the above title. The defunding of Planned Parenthood was what the GOP wanted in trade for not shutting down government. House Minority Leader Harry Reid pointed out that Planned Parenthood mostly is about providing cancer screenings, contraception, and mammograms to women who can't afford normal healthcare services. That's 90% of what PP does. Since Planned Parenthood is barred from using Federal money for abortions, what the GOP can only be after is waging war on poor women, if not on all women.

Take in the video clips to get a sense of the smoke screen Rep. Mitch McConnell and the other GOP are pumping out to obscure the fact that they've snuck in riders directed at social issues which they care more about than spending issues. They talk only in generalities without speaking directly to the real crux of things. Thank God Obama answered with a flat-out No. No argument. Just, "Nope. Zero" Read more on this here: http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/04/how-government-shutdown-was-averted-behind-the-planned-parenthood-deal.html

What disappointed me was that there weren't many women present at the top-level budget negotiations. No doubt the meeting would have gone over time. As it was, Sen. Patty Murray was wearing her Senate veto in a hip holster for the world to see she was waiting for her turn. "Women are not going to be thrown under the bus in this country for this agreement," she said. Do you think the men were afraid of quality sound bites making the news?

BTW, the Congressional Budget Office says the GOP budget would increase public debt over the 10 years of the budget--more than if nothing were done. Also, the budget will increase the burden of medical expenses upon seniors, the disabled, and the elderly. Read it here: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/04/cbo-gop-budget-would-increase-debt-then-stick-it-to-medicare-patients.php

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% Society: vanityfair.com

Read this! Nobel laureate Economist Joseph Stiglitz writes on how the super-rich (the top 1%) has corrupted U.S. Government and tilted the playing field of opportunity to favor only themselves. Yeah, this isn't news to some of us, but he clearly diagrams the whole picture. Great talking points for when you're getting "fact bombed" by Libertarians and Conservatives. Here's the link:

Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% Society: vanityfair.com