Home and Gone

Hey everybody! I made it home! Here’s a picture of the sweet little supply boat that brought me in to the dock.

I wasn’t home long. Wednesday- Saturday and then gone again.

Sorry I haven’t been able to keep up with the blog. I worked over for a week on the Epic Explorer. The same little dive boat I worked on last summer. This hitch I was there for 2 weeks as mate and then another week as galley hand. Once I started working in the galley, I really didn’t have the internet access to be able to blog.

I got home late Tuesday night, too tired to do anything but go right to bed. Wednesday I was still super tired. I was completely out of it from being up all night to being up in the daytime like a normal person. All I got done on Wednesday was sorting through the mail and paying the bills. I was pretty much a zombie all day. Thursday I went up to Houston for a meeting of the Nautical Institute.

I like to keep up with what’s going on in the industry and I go to those sort of meetings if I can. The NI has a couple of interesting projects coming up. One is a course to train navigation assessors which I would really be interested in (except that I’m still broke and can’t afford the fees).

I saw a bunch of people I knew there. One of them was the director of the maritime program I am teaching for this week at Lamar State College in Orange, TX. He scared me for a while, not sure if the class would be held, but they came through Friday morning.

So Friday afternoon I drove up to Orange to meet everyone and go over some things, pick up the course materials so I can get ready to teach the class. I’m a little surprised at how different it is from the same class I’ve been teaching at San Jacinto. All these courses are US Coast Guard approved and so have to cover the same basic material. I’m having to study just as much or more as my students will!

That kept me busy most of the day yesterday. I also got a hair cut, did laundry and had to run to the store for a few groceries since I ran out of milk. I’m still trying to get used to my change of schedule. I’m still tired and falling asleep by dinner time, but still too much to do!

Now I’m back up here in Orange. I’ll be staying here until class is over on Friday. Tomorrow morning I’ll be up at 6 am, they have breakfast here at the hotel (for free), so I’ll have a chance to have some coffee and eat before I run over to the school. I want to try to be there by 0730 and start class by 0800.

I’m not sure how many students I have yet. I think it’ll only be 1-2. That makes it harder to stick to the schedule since they plan for lots of students with lots of questions. I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes with this new program.

Interesting Lecture

I just wanted to let everyone know about this upcoming event. 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. 😉

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

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 – 6:30 PM

Running Time: 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. 🙂

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.

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. 🙂

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-5 

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. 😉

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. 🙁

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. 🙁

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. 🙂

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. 😉 Today’s prompt is: memories. Well, they’re only a day or so old, but I think they count. 🙂

Where Is My Art?

A friend asked me after yesterday’s post where could he find my art? I figured I might as well write a post about it (just in case anyone else might be interested). All of my art is always for sale. If you like something, let me know and we can work something out (or you can buy from one of the places I’m at- but they charge more!).

I do lots of different things. When I went to Galveston yesterday to pick up my work, the gallery owner told me what he likes best about my work is my ‘diversity’. 🙂

I do a lot of photography. That is really my favorite. I take pictures of everything, all the time, everywhere. 😉 I have tons of photos from all my travels and tons more from decades of working on the water. I also like to go to zoos and museums and take lots of photos of animals, fish, birds, bugs, and all kinds of interesting things at the museums.

I do pastels, colored pencils, charcoal drawings and I’ve been learning to paint in oils, watercolor and acrylic. I haven’t been able to get to class as often as I’d like. It seems whenever there is any work for me, it’s always on a Tuesday. Tuesday is when they have the painting class at the art center so I have to skip it.

So, I mostly get started on a project in class and then it sits around the house until I get tired of looking at it and then I’ll finish it up on my own. I’ve got 2 oil paintings sitting here now that are over a year old already and not even half done. 🙁

If you want to know where to see some of my work, I have a lot of photos up around the web. At Youpic, Flickr, Bigstock, Dreamstime, and Society6 and FineArtAmerica where you can have my photos put onto t-shirts, phones, towels, etc (pretty much anything you want). You should be able to get a good idea of my range from those sites (and my blog).

As far as my drawings, paintings, etc- right now they are all at my house (except for a few that are in the satellite galleries around town here). I had to pick them up yesterday to bring them home until the From the Heart Gallery can open their new showroom. I’m hoping that’ll happen sometime next week. In the meantime, you can take a look at this link, it’ll show you a couple of the things I was showing up there.

one of my favorites

 

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!

Bluewater Highway Band- Medicine Man

I just ordered the album from this band. I saw them last week on the Texas Music Scene and really liked this song. I find a lot of great new music from watching that show (the other place I like is KPFT radio). That show is one of the very few things I watch on TV anymore.

It comes on right after Saturday Night Live (which I still like to watch- even tho they’re not nearly as funny as they used to be). They still come out with some really good stuff occasionally. I make it a point to watch it.

The Bluewater Highway is also a favorite place for me. It runs up the beach from Surfside to Galveston. I’ve had a lot of good times along that road. 🙂

I wonder if thats where they got their name? Just checked, I guess it is. Turns out they’re from right here in Lake Jackson, TX. 🙂

Medicine Man

from Things We Carry by Blue Water Highway BanD

Written by: Zack Kibodeaux 

Well honey, here I come, I got a wagonload 
A million different words I’m putting on for show 
I’m peddling my heart 

It sees your careful walk hiding a gypsy stare 
And I know just the thing, woman if you dare 
Step right on through 

And I’ll do it all for you 
I’ll do it all for you 
I am the Medicine Man 

I traveled all the land in a depression line 
I bought and sold my love one too many times 
But now those days are done 

‘Cause under the things I own, I am the one you need 
And in your snake oil smile, the cure for my disease 
I’d break my heart in two 

And I would do it all for you (c’mon girl, c’mon girl) 
I’d do it all for you (c’mon girl, c’mon girl) 

‘Cause I can see your fever rising 
And I got all you need inside 
You’re out on a ledge with your head in your hands 
You got a bleeding heart honey, I am the Medicine Man 

You (c’mon girl, c’mon girl) 
I’d do it all for you (c’mon girl, c’mon girl) 
I’d do it all for you (c’mon girl, c’mon girl) 
I’d do it all for you (c’mon girl, ohh) 

I can see your fever rising 
And I got all you need inside 
You’re out on a ledge with your head in your hands 
You got a bleeding heart honey, I am the Medicine Man