About Me

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

Monday, September 17, 2012

Back From The Dead?

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

The Common Wealth for The Common Good

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."
--Martin Bashir

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

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.

--Dave E.

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.