JusJoJan: Contemplation

I’ve been participating in Linda’s Just Jot It January challenge. I know I’ve been offline for a few days. It couldn’t be helped. I haven’t had enough internet access to get to my blog to post anything. I finally managed to get my computer hooked up (had to pay $32 for 750 mb) and have a little time to use it. I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to get on ’til I get back home.

I have still been ‘jotting’ various things every day, even if not online. Things like log book entries, positions, JSEAs, safety observation cards, etc. Does that count? πŸ˜‰

I joined the vessel in Cameron, LA at about 2300 Thursday. We headed offshore the next morning and we’ve been busy working since then. Early this morning a cold front came through and the weather offshore kicked up pretty quickly. The divers can’t work in rough seas and so the decision was made to return to the dock and wait on better weather.

We arrived back in Cameron this afternoon. We had to shift ship a couple of times due to other boats at the dock. Now we are hunkered down for the night. It’s been freezing cold (literally) and we’ve even had snow! Right now I’m looking at a snow covered white parking lot (instead of the usual grey mud).

Today’s prompt for JusJoJan is “contemplation“.

One of the reasons I’ve always enjoyed working at sea was the time we get for contemplation. It’s just natural when you’re standing watch at night, looking out at nothing but the black waters and amazing star filled sky.

You wind up thinking about all kinds of things. Deep thoughts. Having really involved discussions with your watch mates. Thinking over all the things you want to do with your life. Thinking about all kinds of ways to solve the worlds problems. πŸ˜‰

You might be surprised at how many famous people are former seamen, other than Mark Twain : Peter Falk (Colombo), Jack Lord (Hawaii Five-O), Woody Guthrie, Oliver Stone (and many more). A seaman’s life gives you lots of time to think. Unlike so many other jobs today, most of which run you ragged without a minute to yourself.

I love working out here. I miss it when I’m home. I only wish it was still the way it was when I first started out. They’ve taken all the fun out of it. So many BS rules and regulations. I don’t think I’m going to be allowed to continue to work out here much longer. It’s just getting too hard to put up with the BS.

It’s been a balancing act for a while now. Ever since I had to come back to work in the Gulf of Mexico from overseas, I’ve been chafing at the bits. I just want to be able to do my job. Now, it costs me a fortune to keep all the various ‘training’ certificates up to date.

Another thing, I don’t do (illegal) drugs, but it violates every principle I believe in to submit to a piss test in order to go to work and yet even that is now becoming obsolete. Companies now are starting to require a hair follicle test! That is just completely unacceptable!

Here’s something to ‘contemplate’… How can such a minute amount of any substance (9 nanograms) possibly have any effect on your job performance? How can the test results with such a low level of any substance have any possible effect on your job performance a month after you’ve used that substance? How about 3 months later (piss test can detect)? How about 12 months (which a hair follicle test can detect)?

Simple answer: it can’t!

I want to know why any company should be allowed to tell you what you can and can’t do 3+ months before the day you’re working for them. Why can they dictate what you do on your time off? On weekends, your vacation? I want to know why so many people seem to believe these piss tests/hair follicle tests have anything to do with safety. I want to know why people are insisting since they have to take a drug test, everybody else ought to have to take one too. Just because you’re getting screwed, lets make sure everybody else is getting screwed too? Wow! Why isn’t everyone insisting that all drug tests have nothing to do with job performance, safety or anything else except CONTROL?

I want to know why Americans, who supposedly appreciate freedom are so accepting of this ‘slavery’.

It’s not, you say?

What else would you call it when a company refuses to honor your RIGHT to do what you want on YOUR time? Are they paying you 24/7? No, they’re not! Are they going to backdate your paycheck for the last 12 months before they hired you when you pass their tests since you have given up your RIGHT to live your life the way YOU choose and instead are following their rules? No, they are not.

I tell it like it IS. They want to OWN you, body and soul!

Contemplate that!

Interesting Lecture

I just wanted to let everyone know about this upcoming event.Β It’s at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It sounds really interesting and if I was going to be in town I would definitely go. I’m leaving tonight to head offshore for a couple of weeks. Yeah!

Today’s prompt for Just Jot It January is: humiliate. I’m not sure I’ll get a chance for another post today or not, so enjoy this one. Maybe it’ll interest you enough to check out some history. The story of the Glomar Challenger (photo below) is really pretty cool, but even more interesting is the saga of the companies other ships, the Glomar Explorer. πŸ˜‰

Lecture – Can Do! A History of Texas Leading the Way in Energy by Paul Mattingly

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 – 6:30 PM

Running Time:Β 2 hours

An innovative cast of characters have lead the way in the energy industry–Harry Wiess, Herman Brown, Howard Hughes, Herbert Hunt–and established Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast as the epicenter of the international energy industry. Author and historian Paul Mattingly will tell the fascinating, little-known stories behind the biggest projects of their time and explain the numerous interconnections including the Glomar Challenger, Apollo program robots, Texas Instruments and the proving of theory of plate tectonics.

Mattingly will conclude with how Texas continues to lead the way in new sources of energy for the future. A book signing of “From Orange To Singapore: A Shipyard Builds a Legacy” will follow the presentation.

Members $12, Tickets $18

A Sailors Story

I just got home from my Tuesday night political meeting. Since I’ve been gone, they’ve moved it back to Fuddruckers. πŸ™‚

I’m still doing the Just Jot It January challenge (the prompt today is: coffee), but I’ve decided to go off on another tangent and stir the pot again today…

I haven’t been going to those meetings for a while. Not only because I’ve been in and out on a couple of jobs recently, but also because I just get so frustrated, angry and depressed over the state of things.

We talk about all kinds of things at those meetings. Everything from healthy, fresh (non-GMO) foods, organic gardening and raw milk to chemtrails, fluoridation, cryptocurrencies, UN agenda 21, property rights, human rights, civil liberties, abuse of power, corporatism, corrupt politicians, the banksters running everything, and all kinds of other things.

Tonight, I met the guy who called me last night. He told us all the story he told me over the phone last night.

Personally, I was angered and disgusted with the extent that people completely refuse to just mind their own business. Of course, many people think that everything is their business. That’s a big problem everywhere. Maybe especially in small towns like this one.

This is his story: His family lives on a sailboat. They leased a mooring from a man and they’ve been living aboard their sailboat down there near the beach. The man (I’ll call him Dave), his wife (I’ll call her Maria) and their kids.

They’re a nice, quiet couple. Normal kids (I haven’t met the kids yet). Not making trouble or bothering anybody. Minding their own business.

Christmas Eve, the cops showed up and gave them 2 hours to get out! OK, it’s damn near impossible to do that on short notice. If you have a boat, you know what I’m talking about.They didn’t want to anyway (and I don’t blame them). They asked why? What was the problem?

Long story short, the cops have been harassing them every day since. Dave finally told the cops to give him a ticket or leave him alone. So, they made up some line of BS, told Dave that living aboard his boat violated some ordinance (turns out there is no such ordinance) and when Dave investigated and challenged the cops on it was told (oops!) he didn’t really violate that ordinance, it was a different one!

So. Here’s a nice normal family, being harassed and run out of town because they made the choice to live aboard a boat instead of a ‘normal’ house. I ask why is that anybody else’s business?

I’ve been involved in arguments about ‘boat trash’ for years. I own a house very close to where this is happening today. I bought it specifically to dock my boat there. I fought the homeowners association about their ridiculous opinions about boat owners (“boat trash”) back then. I still think they’re full of uninformed prejudice and they really need to just shut up and mind their own business.

IMHO, If I buy property, I ought to be able to USE it! Why buy anything if you’re not going to use it? “Use” is inherent in the definition of ownership and is common sense part and parcel of buying something.

If you want to dictate how I can use “my” property, then I don’t really own it- YOU DO! And if you’re not paying me for that, then you’re stealing from me and you are completely unjustified to even think you ought to be able to do that!

This family of sailors is not hurting anyone in the neighborhood in any way, shape or form! They pay their rent (part of which goes to the property taxes), they don’t look for trouble, they use shoreside facilities (water, sewer, trash) so there is no “trash” involved! They’re normal people except that they’ve decided to try and escape the rat race and live their dreams.

They ought to be able to do that! And nobody should be able to harass them about their choices!

Aaaand, not only is that family being unjustly attacked, but their landlord’s property rights are being violated too. HE is the one who made the deal to rent this family space. HE bought and paid for that property. HE ought to be able to USE it the way HE wants to.

It’s NOT up to the neighbors, it’s NOT up to the city! If he is not harming anyone else by his use of his property, then it is his absolute right to do so!

Neither the property owner nor the sailors are bothering anybody in any real way. They are not harming anyone! Someone decides they don’t like looking at ‘boat trash’, well that’s just tough tiddly-winks! Grow up! The world does not run itself to satisfy your every desire!

You want a pristine view, then either buy up all the property as far as you can see around you so that YOU have a legitimate right to say something about your view, or shut the hell up!

You live in a community, you need to understand that other people also have rights. As long as no one is harming another, everyone has the exact same equal rights under the law! YOU cannot run someone off because you don’t like their appearance!

We can’t (and should stop trying to) make laws based on such subjective ideals. Everyone has a different opinion. A different viewpoint. Laws need to be based on objective FACTS. NOT opinions, not feelings, not looks!

You shouldn’t be allowed to force me to paint my house YOUR favorite color! I should be allowed to paint it MY favorite color regardless of how much you hate it!

Hopefully, we can come to an agreement where we each paint our houses some color we can at least tolerate. The point is, there should not be a LAW about it!

This is supposed to be a “free country”. As Americans, we’re supposed to value “freedom” and “liberty”. “A man’s home is his castle”.

WTF happened? Do we really need laws to dictate what color you can paint your house? Because you might ‘offend’ someone? REALLY? Offending someone is NOT harming them!

This trend towards protecting everyone’s ‘feelings’ and trying to be inoffensive is getting past the point of ridiculousness. It has now become actively harmful.

This sailors story is just one example. I don’t know how you feel about it (but I hope you’ll comment). I hope you’ll think about what I’m trying to get across here. I’m curious to hear your objections (and yeah, I’m pretty sure there will be plenty- at least there would be in person so hoping being online won’t stop everyone).

I plan to help this family fight the city. I’m not sure what I can do, but I’m starting by sharing their story and looking for suggestions.

Songs of the Sea: Changes in Latitudes

I listened to Jimmy Buffett all the time when I was growing up. He used to come around and play at some of the little dive bars I used to hang out in and I loved his music and his happy go lucky style.

I was never a real ‘parrot-head’, even then, but I did totally relate to his music. He’s still one of the best songwriters for this kind of beach-centric, boat loving, party hardy, sailing lifestyle I grew up living.

I’ve been reading a lot of travel books lately. They’re making me remember all the great times I’ve had growing up in Florida and all over the world. I miss it so much! This song fits perfectly with what I’ve been feeling.

God, I wish I was sailing again! πŸ™‚

“Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes”

I took off for a weekend last month
Just to try and recall the whole year.
All of the faces and all of the places,
wonderin’ where they all disappeared.
I didn’t ponder the question too long;
I was hungry and went out for a bite.
Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum,
and we wound up drinkin’ all night.

It’s those changes in latitudes,
changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same.
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

[Chorus:]
These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes,
Nothing remains quite the same.
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands,
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane

Reading departure signs in some big airport
Reminds me of the places I’ve been.
Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure
Makes me want to go back again.
If it suddenly ended tomorrow,
I could somehow adjust to the fall.
Good times and riches and son of a bitches,
I’ve seen more than I can recall

[Chorus]

I think about Paris when I’m high on red wine,
I wish I could jump on a plane.
And so many nights I just dream of the ocean.
God, I wish I was sailin’ again.
Oh, yesterdays are over my shoulder,
So I can’t look back for too long.
There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me,
and I know that I just can’t go wrong
with these…

[Chorus]

Thursday Treat- Turtles!

I had a real treat yesterday! I got to go to NOAAs research facility in Galveston and learn all about what they’re doing with the sea turtles there.

I only found out about this whole thing last week. I happened to Google ‘things to do in Galveston” and one of the things listed was a sea turtle tour. I had known about the turtles in the back of my mind, since I’ve known about the turtle patrol and the efforts to protect the turtles along our beaches.

When I heard of this tour, I thought it would be interesting, so I called and signed up.

They only have the tours on Thursdays, and you have to make an appointment beforehand. It’s free. πŸ™‚

Apparently I got there a little late (tho not by my watch). The room was full and they were already discussing all sorts of things about the program. Tip: Arrive early!

The tours are put on by volunteers. Thursday’s presentation was led by the team of John and Lynn Wright- “master naturalists”. They did a great job of explaining the situation with sea turtles today and what NOAA is doing with them in Galveston.

They started with a slide show explaining the facts that there are 7 total species of sea turtles and 5 of them can be found in the Gulf of Mexico. Those include (from smallest to largest): Kemp’s ridley, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Green and Leatherback.

They showed us how to tell what kind of turtle we see (if they have 4 ‘scutes’ they’re either green or hawksbill, if they have 5 they’re either Kemp’s ridley or loggerhead- leatherback doesn’t have any).

They described turtle life cycles and what kind of food they liked to eat. They showed some amazing movies of the arribada from the late 1950’s. Thousands of female sea turtles arriving on the Texas beaches.

Then they showed a slide telling the sad story of their decline since we’ve become more ‘advanced’. Decimating all 7 of the turtle species, by eating their eggs, catching them in nets while fishing for other species, killing them with our pollution (especially plastic), destroying their habitat…

They also mentioned a few things we can do to help protect the turtles. Mainly- reduce your use of resources, especially plastic. Dispose of trash properly. Reuse and recycle. Help clean up the beaches and waterways. Take care with your fishing gear. If you see a sea turtle, its tracks or nest on the beach call 1-866-TURTLE-5Β 

I learned yesterday that the Kemp’s ridley has been designated the official state sea turtle of Texas. The Wrights informed us that in 1985 there were 400 nests after a large drop in numbers, in 2017 there were 353. They found 3 right here in Surfside (and 1 on Quintana)! They said there’s been some recovery. I hope so.

After the slide show, the Wrights led us over to the turtle barn where we could see all the little turtles. First, we got a chance to see how a TED (turtle excluder device) works. The kids were happy to run through the net and escape- acting as surrogate sea turtles. πŸ˜‰

NOAA has kind of a conflict of interest here. They are supposed to help the fishermen, and they are supposed to help the sea turtles. They are doing a lot of studies to try and come up with answers to solve many issues surrounding our ocean resources.

One of those studies is to do with testing TEDs. The objective is to find a way to increase the survival rates of any sea turtles (and other by catch) that get caught up in a shrimp boats net. The turtles in the turtle barn are all about 1.5 years old. They’re raised in Galveston til they get to be about 2. Then they are sent over to Florida for the tests.

They’re placed in larger tanks and allowed a few weeks/months to acclimatize themselves. Then they’re taken out to sea and working with a team of shrimpers, divers, and scientists the turtles are run through the nets, out the TEDs and collected again afterwards. After the turtle finishes its run through the TED, it’s released to the wild. The scientists will use the data to refine the TEDs and other fishing gear.

The barn was full of turtles (hawksbills), at least a few dozen, all about 1-2 ft long. They swam around in small plastic containers set inside larger tanks of filtered seawater. We were warned not to touch the turtles or put our hands in the water (it’s a ‘federal offense’). If something fell in the water, they would have to drain the whole tank and replace the water due to concerns about contamination. πŸ™

I felt kind of sad for all those little turtles, swimming around in their tiny little tanks, but they told us that if they were all allowed to swim together they would fight and/or eat each other. They said the turtles didn’t notice or care that they were stuck in such small containers, they would circle around forever and never know the difference. I suppose, but I still felt bad for them. πŸ™

I also wondered why they weren’t raising more turtles- in a breeding program. Like they did with the whooping cranes down in Port Aransas. I’d hate to see the turtles go extinct. With only 353 nests (of Kemp’s ridleys) on the Texas beaches last year it wouldn’t take much to wipe them out. I asked John about it. He said in Texas the focus was on finding nests and moving them to Padre Island which was safer for them and where they’d be released to return later. There were other programs around the world that raised the turtles for a higher survival rate on release.

I recommend the turtle tour for anyone interested in marine science or sea turtles. The Wrights were very knowledgeable and great with answering any and all questions. Hopefully the research done there at NOAA will help more sea turtles survive (and also help the fishermen with better results and less bycatch). I’d love to see more turtles out at sea and maybe even find a nest on the beach one day. It would be fantastic to see an arribada like the one in the film they showed us. Let’s hope we can make that happen. πŸ™‚

This looks like the video they showed, but there was no sound and they said the video was taken in Texas. This video is from Mexico it might be a different one. I found it on youtube.

PS- This is my Just Jot it January post for today. πŸ˜‰ Today’s prompt is: memories. Well, they’re only a day or so old, but I think they count. πŸ™‚

Best of 2017

Here it is, the end of another year. I can hardly believe it’s another one gone by so fast. Like everyone else, I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened last year and how to make things better next year. Here’s a quick rehash of CaptainJillsJourneys from 2017.

Here’s a month by month of my most popular posts (not counting the moonshine recipes which are by far the most hit on!)…

One Word Photo Challenge: Drink

Travel Theme: Turquoise

My Wish

K is for Kestrel- #AtoZChallenge

Still Out Here

Going to Court Tomorrow

Working

Back to School

Change of Plans

The Jones Act vs Puerto Rico

Sea Trials

Shipping Out

Seems funny that I’ve had so many popular posts about work this year, when I’ve really hardly worked at all. πŸ™

I wish I had more interesting travel stories to tell, but hard to come up with those when I haven’t been able to go anywhere (due to lack of funds/work). It’s hard to believe a whole year has gone by and I’ve done so little with my life.

Yeah, I keep myself plenty busy every day. I have to-do lists every day that I never even manage to finish. But they’re full of all the normal little everyday things you need to do around the house. Plus, spending lots of time online, looking for work and still filling out those damn online applications!

I’ve made forays into writing, painting and photography. Unbelievable how much time those things can take up! So far, nothing has come out of any of them, but I’m still hopeful. I have made a few contacts at least.

I just feel like a chicken with it’s head cut off. Running around like crazy and never going anywhere. My goals in life have all been tied to work and without any work for so long I’m just stuck in a rut and don’t know what to do with myself.

Today I feel like just saying ‘to hell with it all!’, ‘I quit!’. But then I come to my senses and wonder HOW??? Should I just give up and throw away everything I’ve worked for my whole life? My license (my ability to work), my property, my house, all my stuff? Everything but what I can easily carry with me?

So far, I can not make myself give up everything, but I also know if I don’t get work soon I am going to lose it all anyway. It takes money- lots of money!- to keep all of those things! Those few short jobs I’ve managed to find over the last couple of years have allowed me to still have a few thousand dollars left (out of $75,000 when I lost my job).

Most of that will get spent this month on fixing one of my properties. It needs to be leveled again and previous contractors refuse to honor their guarantee. So, I’m stuck having to pay another $15,000 to fix it. Otherwise, I will continue to lose $800/month on that property.

I also screwed up and mailed the check for property taxes 1 day late and now I owe another $5500 by the end of January!

If anyone wonders why I took that last job, this is why. It’s very hard to make good decisions on finances when you’re under so much financial stress.

Some people have told me I should just give up and go take a job at McDonalds or Walmart. Why? Jobs like that won’t come close to paying the bills. If I’m working like that I won’t even be able to keep looking for a real job (or on my other projects that might someday earn me a few bucks).

All I can think to do at this point is to keep on hoping that things will get better in 2018. A lot of the ‘experts’ are saying so, but they’ve been saying that for the last 2 years. I’ve got enough to be OK through February and then???

I hate to think of what’ll happen then. πŸ™

All I want for 2018 is WORK! PLEASE!!!

Looking For a Ship

Not just the title of a pretty good book! I’m back home, rested up and back on the job of looking for a job.

I’ve already called all my usual agencies (C-Mar, Oceanwide, CLS, Northstar, Spencer-Ogden) and no one has any work now or for the foreseeable future.

Some linkedin contacts have mentioned a couple of places overseas. I’ve been trying to contact them, but so far no response. Looks like the situation is still the same. Thousands of us out of work, resumes stacked til filing cabinets overflowing and still no hope of work any time soon.

The price of oil has been flirting with $60/bbl over the last week, but it’s still not enough to get anyone moving. We keep hearing ‘next year it will be better”. It’s 3 days away from ‘next year” and I’m hoping like hell it really will be better!

I don’t know how others are managing to survive. Well, yes I do, most of them have families to help them out. They’re lucky. The younger ones have mostly left the industry and found something else to do. They’ve let their documents lapse and won’t be able to come back. Of course, they didn’t have all that much invested in this industry yet anyway. There’s a huge difference between an AB and an unlimited master as far as costs (and everything else).

I’m heading up to Galveston today to move my art. The gallery where it’s been showing is moving (they’re having their own problems) and all artists are being asked to help move. Looks like it won’t be on display again til late January, maybe February. Just another way to try to survive!