Real Estate Rant

Since yesterdays ‘rant’ I’m feeling a little bit better but still not in the best of moods. I went to the doctor this morning and at least she seems to understand where I’m coming from. Apparently the doctors are getting blackmailed by the Feds just as bad as the mariners are.

Forced to go to the doctor every 3 months now instead of yearly, or it’s ‘malpractice’? I really don’t see the need to go any more than yearly, but I certainly do understand her need to protect her license. Just like I need to protect mine. We’ve both spent WAY too much time, effort and money to take losing it lightly.

So, my choice now is to be forced to spend $1000’s of extra $$ per year (for nothing), get my medical care in Mexico or retire. Wow, some ‘choice’.

I’ll never understand why so many people think it’s necessary to have someone else force us to live the way ‘they’ want instead of living the life we choose. Does everyone truly believe that every single person other than themselves is just out to rape, rob and kill? That we, along with our friends and neighbors can’t figure out some way to solve our problems without the use of force. That the world will go to hell if we don’t have some other idiot up there running our lives, making all kinds of decisions for us that we should be doing ourselves? That the world would really be worse off it we got rid of the sociopaths we allow to run it now? Continue reading

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JusJoJan: Liberty

Haha! I get to suggest today’s prompt for the Just Jot It January challenge. The word for today is: liberty.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but liberty is very important to me. In fact, I completely agree with Patrick Henry when he said “Give me liberty or give me death!”.

I would really rather be dead than to ‘live’ without liberty. I really don’t consider it living if I don’t have the freedom to live my life in the way I choose to. In fact, I consider it a long, drawn out slow death. A death of my creativity, of my happiness, or my loves, of my life. I don’t think I’m out of line at all. In fact, I can quote all kinds of things that show that America was founded to promote liberty and that it is the ONLY legitimate purpose of our (or any) government, is to protect and promote the liberty we all were born with.

Let’s define our terms…

nounplural liberties.

1. freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control. 
2. freedom from external or foreign rule; independence. 
3. freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.

 

Looking at that definition, can anyone seriously argue that we have NOT lost most of our liberty in the United States over the last few years? How many people can read the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights and argue that they do NOT argue for the liberty of all men (and pleeease remember the times they were written in)?

How can a country specifically formed ONLY to protect our natural rights (liberty) turn around to such a degree? To the point where that government, formed ONLY to protect our liberty instead spends all its time (and our money) to violate our liberties every chance it gets?

I’m perfectly aware that most people couldn’t care less about the loss of liberty we’ve suffered in the United States over the last few decades (and increasingly since 9/11). I hear from  almost everyone that they don’t care what anyone does to them as long as ‘it keeps them safe”.

Really? Safety is all important? I don’t think the people who say that have really considered what they’re saying when they say that. After all, liberty is not really the sort of thing you can divide up. You’re either free or you’re not. It’s like you’re only a little bit pregnant. No, you either are or you’re not. You either own your own life or you don’t! If you don’t, then someone else must and you have become a slave.

Government is nothing but the monopolized use of force. If you study how governments came about, that’s very obvious to see. When you give up any of your powers to the government, you are ‘agreeing’ that they have the right to use force against you (whether you agree to it or not). And (they say) you don’t have the right to protect yourself against it!

At this point, we have given up almost all of our freedom. All of our liberty. We have very, very little of our natural rights left that we can exercise fully. You think I’m exaggerating? Try going to a law library and taking a look at the Federal Register!

Hundreds of thousands of pages of incomprehensible legalese. Shelves of big fat books full of ‘laws’ we’re all supposed to know and obey. How could that possibly equal freedom?

George Orwell wrote 1984 as a warning, not as a roadmap. But left him choking  in the dust by 1985! Our ‘big brother’ doesn’t only keep an eye on us from our home TV sets, he tracks our every move through our cell phones! He uses the EZ pass (toll roads) to keep track of where we go in our vehicles. He can tell our habits through tracking our spending on our credit/debit cards. He can get all kinds of information through our ‘smart’ devices. He’s already testing driverless (completely controlled by government) cars. And we can’t fly anywhere anymore without government permission (TSA)!

Big brother has already convinced fearful parents to chip not only their pets, but their kids and their parents! Scientists have already invented pills that inform your doctors if you take them or not. Soon they will report all your health information. Cashless societies are on the way, where every dollar you spend will be tracked (to cut down on tax cheats).

Just think of how the government controls everything now a days. What, if anything, don’t they have their hands in? They regulate the food you eat, the drugs you take, the doctors you can talk to about your health issues. Oh yeah, they also regulate what your doctors can say (and your churches if they want to remain tax free which is a form of coercion).

Free speech? Not so much any more with all the ‘political correctness’ BS going around. If I like Trump for one thing, I do love him for the fact that he is most definitely NOT PC!  They regulate the amount of water you can use to flush your toilet and the type of light bulbs you can use in your house (forcing dangerous mercury filled bulbs to replace previous incandescent bulbs).

Think you can choose what jobs you’d like to work at? Nope, big brother is enforcing hundreds of regulations restricting the rights of people who choose to work in professions as diverse as hair braiders, to animal massagers, to interior designers, to merchant marines. They’ve manipulated most businesses in the country to coerce us into submitting to giving up our rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Do you call it freedom to be forced to beg permission from the government in order to go to work?

I don’t! I don’t call it freedom because it ISN’T!

Think you can just pick up and leave? “If you don’t like it here, you can just go back to where you came from?” Well, I would if I could, but I came from HERE! I grew up in the good ol’ USA. I believe 100% in the principles this country was founded on “LIBERTY and justice for all!”.

I believe everyone, everywhere in the world SHOULD be able to exercise those same liberties we here in America are promised. But the fact is, America is the only country, anywhere, ever in the history of the world to form specifically in order to promote and protect the individual rights of all of us.

I wish the American people would wake up and take back our freedom before its too late. I don’t think we have much time left to turn things around.

Sorry to all the democrats who think its all Trumps fault. Or the republicans who blame it all on Obama. Fact is, it’s ALL of our political ‘leaders’ fault! And ours, for continuing to believe that any politician from either of the mainstream parties will ever change anything!  For the last 100 years (at least), they’ve ALL conspired to strip us of our liberties and give themselves more power and control.

It’s sad how easily they manipulate us. They keep us divided and fighting over such stupidities as the word “shithole” and how many ‘illegal’ votes were counted. It’s time to stop wasting our time fighting each other and come to understand who we really SHOULD be fighting. Look beyond the party lines. I can promise you, you will find the same people are running things on both sides.

There is nothing to be gained by continuing to support these political parties who want nothing more than continued CONTROL. I want my freedom back! Do you?

Revolt- Why Not?

Today’s prompt for JusJoJan is revolt. Unsurprisingly, that is one of my favorite words. 😉

I want to (and sometimes do) revolt against all kinds of things: forced use of seatbelts and motorcycle helmets, no smoking laws, Taj Mahal school buildings and giving kids computers and tablets in school (causing sky high property taxes), insane drug laws, stupid piss tests, government restrictions on earning an honest living, stupid laws of all sorts.

I really can’t understand why Americans have changed from a population that would rise up and revolt against the greatest military power in the world over a tiny tax on ONE item (tea), to a population that willingly submits to tax rates of 50% and up on all earned income. To a nation with so many laws, thousands and thousands of pages worth of incomprehensible legalese- nobody even knows what they are.

We’ve turned into a police state. One where the cops can cite you for any of a hundred different laws you’ve broken. Whenever they want to. You think you haven’t done anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about? Read “Three Felonies a Day“. Take a look at the website over at the Institute for Justice for just a very few examples, a tiny sample of the abuse that so many innocent- yes innocent! people have had to suffer at the hands of ‘our’ government.

Remember the famous quote from the Holocaust…

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

The same process is ongoing- right NOW.

No, I don’t necessarily mean they’re coming to kill us off next week. What I mean is what Martin Luther King Jr said…

“Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.”

More and more people are being turned into ‘criminals’. People who haven’t done anything wrong. They have hurt no one. More and more people are being displaced. More and more people are being shoved aside, wasted and destroyed. All because we have allowed ‘our’ government to run rampant all over the world.

Why aren’t people revolting against this? I would love to! The only thing that stops me is that I’m not stupid enough to put a target on myself in front of the government goons!

From a country whose beginning was all about FREEDOM, individual LIBERTY and JUSTICE for all, we’ve degenerated into a country where ‘our’ government seems intent on nothing more than violating our rights and stealing more of our freedom (and money) every day.

WHY aren’t the people up in arms? Why aren’t the people revolting? Why is anyone who tries to start any real discussions about our lost freedoms and the fact that ‘our’ government does nothing today but the total and complete opposite of its only legitimate purpose (which is to protect our inherent, natural rights) treated like a conspiracy theorist? 

Like they’ve escaped from the loony bin? Like they’ve lost their tin hat?

Personally, I think we NEED a revolt, I think we need one NOW. I think pretty soon we’ll lose all of our freedoms (the few we have left), if we don’t have another revolution PDQ.

I’m sure every one of the founding fathers thinks what’s happened to America is revolting. 😦

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? 😉

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. 😉

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!

A Sailors Sad 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.

SoCS: Ecocide

It’s the first Stream of Consciousness Saturday and continuing on with Just Jot it January.

Your prompt for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “eco.” Find a word that starts with “eco” or has “eco” in it, and base your post on that word. Have fun!

I chose the word ‘ecocide’. It means the destruction of the natural environment (by human agency). With all the news about global warming- or climate change- lately, of course I’ve been thinking of it.

It’s always been in the back of my mind ever since I first became aware of it when I was just a little kid. Maybe 3rd-4th grade? Back then, the official scientific consensus was that we’d all be frozen into icebergs by now. They’ve changed their minds to the ‘global warming’ scenario now.

There has always been some debate between the optimists- who think human ingenuity will be able to solve all the problems brought upon ourselves by our insistence on breeding to the point of total destruction of the planet, and pessimists (like me) who think we will not.

It’s 40+ years later and I am still listening to the same basic arguments. The only difference is: now it’s global warming instead of global cooling. Or climate change to cover all the bases.

And, just to say it now… I am not a ‘climate change denier’. Of course the climate changes . It always has, it always will. I’m even willing to say that mankind most probably has had something to do with it. My problem with the ongoing debates at the moment has to do with the proposed solutions to the problems.

Of course, the ecocide has only progressed over those 40+ years. More pollution, more clear cutting, more soil erosion, more pollution in the air helping cause climate change, more ocean acidification, more habitat destruction for farms and houses, loss of biodiversity, and on and on and on.

Our leaders want to convince all of us to give up our high standard of living (which we get through the use of things like oil, chemicals, etc.), and bring about a ‘carbon neutral’ economy. Or even to reduce our use of energy so that we can ‘save the planet’.

I’m not totally sure what to say about that. I think there’s a much better solution than what ‘our leaders’ have come up with.

Of course I don’t want to see the destruction of planet Earth (even if I would love to see us out there exploring space and making ourselves a backup plan). I would love to see each and every person on this planet have the ability to live a good life!

Not one mired in poverty. Not one where they have to struggle every single day just to scrape up the bare necessities to exist, but a good life. One where they can work at what they enjoy, where they have plenty to eat and drink, one where they have time to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

I also want to see a planet where every other living thing has the ability to live without the threat of humanity’s greed destroying the habitat needed for survival. I want to see a planet with plenty of free space for nature. Room for all the plants, animals and humans to enjoy the natural world.

Not just for the fact that it’s healthy and good for people to be out in nature, not just for the possibility of all the things we’ve not yet discovered in the natural world that will help us live better, not just for the fact that the Earth is a cohesive, interconnected organism and we have no idea what we’re screwing up beyond repair with our human activities, but also because it’s morally, spiritually and even economically wrong to destroy so much of the world around us.

Why? Because we are so greedy.

I am NOT using that word in the way most people would. I see nothing wrong with people trying to live the best lives they possibly can. My issue is with the fact that so many people choose to have so many children (or don’t even consider not having them). Birth control? WTF? It’s like their only purpose in life is to breed. 😦

I’m scolded for being a ‘selfish American’. One who was lucky enough to be born in the USA and so afforded a higher standard of living than most people around the world. I’m very lucky I don’t have to work my ass off for $1-2/day like so many do. But, where you’re born is mostly a matter of luck. I know I personally had nothing to do with where I was born!

What I ask people who ‘dis’ me for my ‘selfishness’ is: “and how many children do you have?” (or plan to have)?

Consider. Even if you only have one child, that child may chose to have only one, or they may have dozens. And each of those children may chose to have one, or dozens more. You have absolutely NO control over anyone but yourself in this matter.

And so, by my choosing to never have any children, I have already done more than my share in ‘saving the world’. I will spend the rest of my life being ‘selfish’ and enjoying the things I’ve earned the right to enjoy.

Don’t tell me not to use my air conditioner, or my car, or anything else! No, you don’t have a right to say diddly-squat about it until YOU stop having kids!

My solution to the problem of ‘climate change’ (and all the other problems) is to simply stop having so many kids!

Not forcibly, like China, but voluntarily. Spend some of the resources going on about global warming on convincing women around the world on the benefits of only having 1-2 children. Start promoting THAT as a way to save the planet instead of trying to convince everyone to give up on their hopes to live a decent life!

The optimists insist we can put up everyone on Earth in Alaska! That may be true, I don’t know. I do know that I don’t want to live in a world where 7 billion + people are living in Alaska! I do know that I don’t want to live in a world where we continue to commit ecocide simply so that we can fill it up with more and more people.

I can’t even understand WHY so many people think that’s the way to go. It saddens me, that we have so much beauty in this world and we are throwing it away. Why? Because we need to fill up the world with another few billion people? Why?

Share Your World Jan 1 2018

Cee always has such interesting challenges. I haven’t participated in this one for a while, it’a always fun to see what everyone comes up with. So here’s the challenge for this week and my answers…

I’m also counting this post for the Just Jot it January challenge for today. 😉

What one word describes you best? Hmmm, good question. Hard to chose one word. I considered: inquisitive, curious, friendly, loyal, adventuresome, well-traveled, freedom-loving, passionate, open-minded, outspoken, righteous, sovereign, capable, stubborn, tenacious, fun-loving, crazy, lazy, and more. 😉 But I finally settled on ‘frustrated’. Why? I guess because I am all those other things. Also, fairly obsessed with the ideals of freedom and justice for all. This is my main passion: freedom! I love it, I want it, I desire it, I need it! It’s incredibly frustrating to be raised in a country- (and so to believe what we’re all taught in school)- that constantly insists its only legitimate purpose is to guarantee (not to provide) the inherent rights and freedoms that we’re all born with– (re-read the Declaration of Independence again for proof)- and yet continually violates almost every one of those rights every day. It drives me absolutely nuts that so many ‘freedom-loving’ Americans really could care less about even a single one of those supposedly guaranteed freedoms. For just one (of too many to mention) example: TSA robs us of our right to travel freely all day long, every single day. Millions of people violated daily and all I hear every time I stand in that line is “I don’t care what they do, as long as it keeps me safe”. Reaaaally? Absolutely nuts!

What is set as the background on your computer? At the moment it is a gorgeous picture of a mountain scene. There is snow on the mountaintops, but it’s still green lower down. The sun is glowing brightly golden on the left side. Clouds are touching down off in the distance. I think it might be in Yosemite somewhere. Last time I had a photo of a snow covered town (I think in Norway somewhere), with little red houses and fishing boats, calm waters surrounding. I have not changed it since I got this computer.

If you have been to a foreign country name those you have been to? I’ve been to a lot of foreign countries! How about I list the ones I haven’t been to and still want to visit? First off: Antarctica- it’s not a country, but I really want to go there! Then, India, South Africa (planning a safari there asap), Botswana, Chile, Romania, Belize, Philippines, Panama, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vanuatu, New Zealand, Austria, Hungary, and more I’ll probably think of later!

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. I very much appreciate that I was able to get a relief so I was able to get off my last ship before it left the country. I was really looking forward to the trip across the Atlantic and visiting the ports around Northern Europe (Bremerhaven, London, Vlissingen), but I learned once I got on board that I physically just wasn’t up for the job. 😦 I also appreciate very much, that I was able to get that job in the first place and so sorry I had to put my health first and leave the ship without completing the voyage.

JusJoJan: Boisterous

Day 2 of the Just Jot It January challenge. Today’s prompt is: boisterous. Click on the link to see how it works here.

You can chose to use the prompt word- or not. Yesterday I used the prompt of ‘drama‘, and got off on a tangent. I’ll try to stick to it better today. 😉

I’m having a hard time thinking of anything boisterous around here lately. 😦

I’ll have to go way, way back. Yeah, I admit, years ago my life was a lot more exciting. I was much more rowdy and I did enjoy going out, having a good time, partying every weekend. I was pretty wild myself and liked to hang out with other weird and wild folks. Sadly, I’ve had to give all that up.

I’m too paranoid to go out anymore.

They’ve pretty much broken me. Not completely, since it still angers and frustrates the hell out of me! But I can’t take the chance anymore of getting arrested, just for going out and having fun. I used to love going out to all the little dive bars around the county. Stopping in for a beer or 2. Listening to music, playing pool, talking to interesting people from all over.

I enjoyed the boisterous crowds, the (sometimes drunken) conversations, the crazy drama. I never was much of a dancer, but I always loved watching people dance. I liked to sing karaoke and cheered for everyone else (no matter how awful they might be).

Now, I’m getting too old to enjoy it. I can’t really enjoy myself when I’m worried about getting arrested. I don’t know how so many people can think its a good thing to make everything ‘illegal’.

Instead of hanging out with friends, having interesting discussions about what’s going on in the world, I’m sitting at home watching Law & Order: SVU reruns and blogging for a connection to the world.

Maybe it’s just that I’m getting old. Too old to take chances anymore, but I think it’s more than that. I think the world is changing. Our country is changing, and NOT for the better.

Nothing to do with Trump or Obama, or Bush, or Clinton, or whoever might happen to be president. It’s way beyond that. Trump’s right, it is the swamp and it needs to be drained! Other people call it the ‘deep state’. Whatever, it is reality and it is a big part of what’s wrong with this country!

Seriously, do we really need so many thousands of ‘laws’? Obviously, NO, we DON’T! We got along perfectly fine for the first 200 years since the foundation of this country without 99.99999% of the laws on the books today. This country used to be much more free (and boisterous- it was good for us!).

Today, everyone wants everything to be ‘safe’. Everyone wants ‘security’. No one wants there to be any chance, or risk to anything. Look at all the warnings on everything, everywhere. It’s absolutely stunning to me that the USA, the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave”, has degenerated to such an extent.

I think it’s incredibly sad. We’ve ignored Franklin’s warning. We have thrown away our freedoms in hope of security. What a sad shame. 😦

JusJoJan: Drama

Starting out the new year without all the usual drama. Why? Mostly because I’ve been staying home, sticking to myself, too paranoid and depressed to go out to celebrate the holidays with everyone else.

I decided to join in on Linda’s Just Jot It January challenge again this year. The idea is just to write something (anything) every day during January. Hopefully it will be enough to start a good habit that will continue.

I’ve been trying to transition from working on the water to a more sedate lifestyle. Not by choice, but only because there has been approximately ZERO work for the last 2+ years! I’ve been trying to make a living with a more creative focus. I’ve been doing a lot of writing, photography, painting, etc.

I’d love to be able to just relax, chill out and stop worrying about all the ‘drama’ going on around me. Crazy issues always coming up with tenants, roommates, family, work (or lack of work/finances) and just the normal everyday shit going on in the world.

I wish I could just focus on one thing. Writing, for example. I’ve started a book, I’m on the last chapter, but haven’t worked on it in a couple of months now. I just can’t get motivated to write when I’m trying to deal with all the rest: how to pay the bills, crazy woman in my house (she’s gone now), finding a job, city sending me threatening letters about my properties/tenants, getting income taxes sent in, brakes gone out on my truck in the middle of Houston traffic!

Oh yeah, I’ve been having a wonderful life these last few months. But you know what? I think I would get so bored if I didn’t have all this shit going on around me. I do bring a lot of it on myself.

I grew up in a crazy house, two of them. I’m sure I would’ve been taken into protective custody if any of that had happened today. Both my parents houses were pretty wild. Constant drama at both places. My brother was lucky, he could pick and choose. He could stay at Dads where he was treated like a king, until he wasn’t. Then he would go home to Mom’s where he could do whatever he wanted.

I was stuck at my Dad’s most of the time. He was really strict on a lot of things, but very open about a lot of others. He ran a pretty strange household for back then. First of all, he didn’t work anymore. He retired in his early 30’s. Bought a bunch of property and a sailboat and got out of the rat race. I’ve always admired him for that.

He worked on his boat and rented apartments to all the ‘poor’ people in town. Our apartments were full of the local fishermen, bartenders and drunks. We had parties on the shuffleboard courts every weekend and big pig roasts in our empty lot every couple of months. Dad would have me play the piano upstairs for his drinking buddies.

Moms house was a whole different adventure. We were allowed to keep pets over there and have friends come over. We had cats, dogs, fish, gerbils, hamsters, rabbits, turtles, parakeets, even a kinkajou once (that only lasted til it bit my mom real bad one night). My stepfather would hang out drinking beer and making crude comments all day while we tried our best to ignore him and stay out of his way.

Between the two of them, there was always some drama going on. I think in a way I miss all that. I try to keep my life interesting and not boring. I’m not bored often, but that’s because I always have something I should be doing. Most of those things are only because I say so.

I don’t have to write, work on my photos, paint, blog, etc. But I like to do those things and even tho they’re a lot more work than I ever imagined, they keep my busy and I still enjoy messing around with it all.

I’ve actually cut down a lot. I hardly even go out anymore. That eliminates a lot. I miss out on all of my friends, but I can’t take the chance of going out to see them any more. It’s sad, but this place is not the same anymore.

They’ve taken all the fun out of life here. All in the name of ‘safety’. Screw safety! I’d rather have a LIFE back! Stop shoving us all into tiny little perfectly ‘safe’ boxes and let us enjoy our lives. So what if we screw up occasionally? So what if we have a little accident every once in a while, that’s how we learn! That’s all part of LIFE!

Stop pretending life is about being safe, or secure. It’s NOT! Life is about taking chances, experimenting, seeing the world and everything in it, meeting new people and learning new things. None of that is about being ‘safe’!

I could do without all the drama around the issue of safety! The theatre they put on at the airports with the TSA. Geez, how long are they going to keep that up? How long is it going to take for people to wake up to the fact that none of that is anything BUT a SHOW?

I’m so tired of other people trying to control me! Aren’t you?

Travel Day

I made it home. Finally!

I was surprised Tuesday morning when my relief showed up. I was waiting in the cargo control room to get my work assignment from the Bosun at 0800 when he popped in. I was so happy to see him.

I really wasn’t ready to go yet. I didn’t expect a relief to show up til late afternoon. I still had to finish packing and cleaning my room. That didn’t take too long. By the time the captain was ready to sign me off, I was ready to go.

I left the ship at about 1030, my flight was due to leave Norfolk at 1214, so I was a little nervous about getting to the airport on time. No need to have worried. I checked my luggage outside (and had to pay a $25 fee- thanks Delta!) and then went inside to check in.

I had to go to a live person, the machines wouldn’t check me in. Turns out my flight was delayed for over 2 hours and so I would miss my connection in Atlanta too. I was scheduled to arrive in Houston by 1800. Turns out, I didn’t get there til almost 2400!

Six hours late, due to Delta’s screw ups and they would do absolutely nothing about it. No offers of food, drinks, vouchers, lounge use,…, no NOTHING to help defray the stress and aggravation of a more than 6 hour delay.

I did finally manage to get a $15 food voucher out of them. Barely enough to cover one meal, while missing 2- 3 due to their delays. At least it was something, tho they told me they don’t normally do that. Some customer service, wow! 😦

No wonder I don’t fly Delta anymore!

I got home about 0300 the next morning. So tired I could hardly keep my eyes open on the road. People worry about drunks on the highways, but I guarantee you- tired people cause much more damage! And yet, drunks get all the punishment, wether or not they’re actually any trouble.

No, I’m NOT saying that tired people need to go to jail and have their lives destroyed the same as they treat the drinkers! Most of them who have not hurt anything or anybody! So they’ve all been punished for some future possibility!

What they need to do is to change the rules so that they’re actually keeping people safe on the roads and not just collecting fines and ruining peoples lives over the ‘chance’ that they ‘might’ at some point in the future harm something or somebody.

Stop harassing and arresting people for some possibility of something they ‘might’ or might not do and start checking to see if they are actually competent! Same goes for the stupid drug tests at work and the idiotic TSA ‘terrorist’ searches at the airports!

I’m so sick and tired of everybody telling me all this crap is for our ‘safety’ and ‘security’. NO, it is NOT! It has NOTHING to do with either one of those things! It has nothing to do with anything other than CONTROL and the destruction of our most basic human rights!

The TSA agents in the airports actually have the nerve to tell us ‘have a nice day’ after they  intentionally (even if ignorantly) strip us of our rights and our dignity. How can anyone have a nice day after being treated like that?

Yes, I know, most people sincerely believe all this crap is necessary and is really for their safety. All I can say to them is: WAKE UP! You’re being LIED TO and your complacency is making it ever easier for the goons to move all of us even further down the road to tyranny.

Happy New Year!

End of a Long Weekend

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. I did OK. It’s not like I’ve been working so hard all this time and needed a break. Still, it was nice to have some time off where I knew no one would be calling me for work, nothing to do with work would be open (so useless to call), and I could take the time to catch up on other things.

I spent Thanksgiving with friends. They cooked a big turkey (in a greaseless fryer- it turned out nice and moist). They had ham too, and roast vegetables, mashed potatoes, mani-mahi, broccoli rice casserole, hot rolls, and a half dozen desserts. I’m still eating leftovers.

After pigging out and needing a nap Thursday, I’ve spent the last couple of days just piddling around the house. I went through a big pile of t-shirts to sort. I finally packed some away and put others in the yard sale pile. I put a bunch of stuff away that got messed up while I was gone last week (I still can’t find half of it). I’ve caught up with the mail, bills and phone calls.

Now I’m getting ready for a trip to New Orleans for this years Workboat Show. I’m so frustrated and depressed about the situation with work. I think this is going to be my last hope. I filled out a few online applications (again) for nearby boat companies. They say they are hiring.

I’ve rented a car and will drive down the bayou and try to find someone to talk to. It’s become almost impossible to talk to a real person when you’re looking for work these days. Everyone gives you a computer to talk to: “leave a message” and someone will get back to you. Except they never do.

I hear through the grapevine (and also their own ads) that Hornbeck (HOS) and Harvey Gulf are hiring. I plan to hit up both of them. I’ve got plenty of resumes printed out and will be trying to talk to anyone I can who might have some work going on.

If this doesn’t work out, the only thing left for me to do is go back to the SIU as an AB. Wasting the 40 years I’ve spent working my way up and earning my license. What a shame!

I feel like one of the old horse and buggy drivers when Henry Ford came out with the model T. I can see the complete destruction of my livelihood on the horizon. Like them, I am not at all happy about it!

I have been trying my best ever since I got laid off (Sept 2015) to find work. I’ve been trying all kinds of things to bring in extra income. I’ve been teaching at San Jacinto Maritime. I’ve been working as a role player at Maersk Training. I’ve been trying to sell my art (writing/photography/painting) anywhere I can.

I’ve been applying to jobs in every sector of the maritime industry. I’ve tried to find work as a math tutor. I’ve tried to find work in the safety industry since that is a huge part of what I do every day anyway (but learned I would have to sell myself- body and soul- for a $14/hour job). Sorry, no way! I might be down, but I will NEVER be that self destructive as to submit to that level of control.

Hair follicle tests?! What kind of idiots do they think we are? These tests can have NO possible connection to anything going on at the job. I’ve asked over and over- PLEASE tell me how something I might’ve done last YEAR could possibly have anything to do with the job I’m doing TODAY? Of course, they have no answer. They’re wrong and they know it. Those people have NO right to strip our constitutional rights from us. In the name of safety or any other reason.

I am getting pretty desperate. I was one of the lucky ones. I was halfway prepared for this downturn. I’ve been through 3 big ones before. I’d saved as much as I could and paid down my debts as much as possible. I had a pretty good stash in my savings account. Of course, after 2 years with no real work, that savings account has been seriously depleted.

It sucks not even being able to get unemployment. Especially after being forced to pay into it for over 40 years! It would be nice to be able to get some help when I need it. But noooooo, ONE job out of all those years was with a foreign company, so I get zero return on all that money I’ve paid in.

Even so. I did my best while I was working to save and invest. I bought rental property and paid off as much as I could. I’m lucky. That has been my only income for the last 2 years. It’s not much, since the expenses on the property is actually still more than the income I get from it, but it still helps a lot.

I’m thankful I have even that little bit of income. With the little bit of work I get from Maersk and San Jacinto, and a week offshore every now and then, I’ve been able to survive. Barely. I can understand how people get so desperate they will sell their soul to get a miserable paycheck, but I thank god I don’t have to do that. I swear I will die before I EVER submit to their insanely stupid, unconstitutional, illegal, useless hair follicle tests!

I wish more people were able to stand up for themselves. Maybe we could stop this abuse if they were. But, then again, the powers that be are ALL about control. That is ALL they care about and they will do whatever we allow them to get away with.

I hope by going to New Orleans I’ll be able to find something. It’s getting really, really hard to keep trying when it’s been so long and nothing’s happening.

Paperwork

It’s been a slow day today. I’ve been catching up on all kinds of things I’ve been putting off. One big one was filling out the forms for a ‘qualified assessor’ for the US Coast Guard. My boss at San Jacinto Maritime sent the request out a couple of days ago. I was too tired after work at Maersk to get into it. So, completed and sent now. At least I hope it’s finished to their satisfaction.

This qualified assessor thing is just one more example of how the USCG is making it harder every day for people to work in the maritime industry. I swear, if I had any idea that this industry would wind up so strangled with rules and regulations I would’ve listened to my grandmother and been a doctor!

When I first started working on the water, it was so nice. It was perfect for me. I could go to work, anywhere in the world, with decent pay and benefits (including health care as long as I was working at sea). I could dress comfortably, not have to dress in any kind of uniform. I could look like anything I wanted (dress in shorts, flip-flops, and t-shirts). I could talk like I wanted (no such thing as PC back then). I could just do my job and everyone was OK with that.

No more. Those days are long gone.

When I started, you went to the Coast Guard and got a Z-Card. It was good for life. As an ordinary seaman (deck, engine or steward), you didn’t have to do anything to get one. Just fill out the application, pay a few bucks and that was it.

Oh god, I long for those good old days! Now, you can’t even consider going to work on a boat unless you’re willing and able to spend a shitload of money and weeks/months of time! Just take a look at those checklists on the National Maritime Centers website! Not that there’s any real reason for any of this so- called ‘training’. It’s only all about the money!

Yes, that’s it! The USCG, the schools (of course) and the politicians will all insist it’s about ‘safety’, but I’ve yet to see some real proof that any of these extra expenses (all on the backs of the seafarers) has done anything to improve safety. Instead, I believe it has actually caused a decrease in safety, due to driving out more experienced sailors from the industry.

Another reason: since everyone now has to attend “basic safety training’, the employers feel like their new hires have been ‘trained’ in basic safety. They send them out to the ships imagining that they’re prepared to do their jobs with no incidents. They imagine those new hires have learned enough in a week long class to keep them from ever having any accidents at sea. Yeah, riiiiight.

They’ve cut crew sizes down to ridiculously low levels so the old timers don’t have the time to teach the newbies what they really need to know. The basic safety class is a joke! We were all much safer before that class was forced upon us and people became so complacent because of it!

Who in their right minds wants to spend thousands of dollars and weeks of their vacation time taking classes that don’t even teach you anything new? I can’t imagine anyone who would. Yet, that is what we are all saddled with in this industry these days.

Yeah, the schools love it. it’s wonderful for them. They have plenty of money to lobby the politicians to force us all to attend ever increasing training requirements. Meanwhile, us poor sailors have no representation. And how can we argue against ‘safety’?

Do you think I’m the only mariner who feels this way? I can guarantee you that there are a hell of a lot of us out there who are thinking the same way. Just not a lot who are willing to say it online where the companies will see your ‘bad attitude’.

Too bad. I’m going to keep on saying what I think, here on my blog. Online, and whenever the subject comes up. I am not politically correct, I think the whole PC thing is a big reason the country is going to hell and I’m not going to shut up. I’d love to see a real, honest discussion on some of this stuff.

Who in the maritime industry is going to come out and admit that this whole STCW required ‘training’ scheme is nothing but a devious plan to force ‘highly paid’ American sailors out of the work force?

I’ve said so from the very first time I heard of it decades ago. Intended or not, that is the result. McCain and his flunkies calling for the end of the Jones Act will simply put the last nail in the coffin. I’d like to see Trump say to hell with the IMO and the STCW along with all the other things he says he’s getting rid of.

Frustrated

I am just steaming right now!

I FINALLY got a call for a real job! First one in ages, and after talking to them for a few minutes, they eliminate me because I don’t have one, (just one), of the multitude of newly required certificates of “training’.

You want to know which one? It’s a fairly new one, called “T-HUET”. T-HUET is supposed to be a less involved iteration of the HUET. HUET is a less involved iteration of the BOSIET.

I have the HUET, in fact I just renewed it. I also have BST (which has also been repeatedly renewed). They have not taught anything new in either course in the last 20 years.

ALL of these courses cover almost exactly the same stuff! But the companies now are insisting that you need to spend the thousands of dollars and weeks of time to take ALL 3 of them! Of course, THEY will no longer help pay for any of this. YOU need to spend all YOUR time and money on this stuff!

This is the email I just now sent off to the recruiter:

Just for your information:
T-HUET 
Course Outline
Procedures at Heliport
Helicopter Safety Equipment
Types of Helicopters used in the Offshore Industry
Dangers associated with Helicopters
Helicopter Safety Procedures
Preparation prior to Emergency landing
Emergency landing on Land
Surface Evacuation into an Aviation Liferaft
Escape from a Partially and Capsized Helicopter
In – water Survival Procedures
Helicopter Winching
HUET
Course Outline
Procedures at Heliport
Helicopter Safety Equipment
Types of Helicopters used in the Offshore Industry
Dangers associated with Helicopters
Helicopter Safety Procedures
Preparation prior to Emergency landing
Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET)
Emergency Breathing System Exercises
In -water Survival Procedures
Helicopter Winching

I don’t know why they don’t add the following to their description of their HUET course since they DID cover that same material. The only thing they did NOT cover that they say they do in the T-HUET is:

  • Surface Evacuation into an Aviation Liferaft- (we DID do this in the HUET course)
  • Escape from a Partially and Capsized Helicopter- (this is the exact same thing as what the HUET course describes as Helicopter Underwater Escape Training)
  • Emergency landing on Land

Do these companies SERIOUSLY want to eliminate pretty much ALL experienced mariners from consideration because they don’t have 10 minutes of ‘training’ differing in a course (that is only for the insurance company that has no clue about what ANY of these courses cover anyway)?

Do they really expect someone who has been out of work for months or years to pay hundreds of dollars for another course when the ONLY difference is at most a half hour talk about emergency landing ON LAND??? We get that same lecture every single time we fly, wether to go to work in the helicopter or flying to vacation. I would think it is 100% memorized by everyone in the country by now!

So now it is not years of experience and who can do the job, but who has the largest stack of certificates (most of them completely irrelevant to the job at hand). That is really sad.

I am perfectly willing to wait and ride the crew boat in if they are not willing to put aside that 10 minutes! I think it’s NUTS to throw someone out of a month of work because of some ridiculous ‘rule’ like this!

And you can feel free to pass this email on to Oceaneering (and any other company with the same stupid rule!). Just in case they REALLY believe there is some inherent advantage to their insistence on T-HUET, please do send them the facts, the ONLY difference is 10 minutes about emergency landings ON LAND!

Hope I’m not burning my bridges here too, but some things just have to be said!

Jill Friedman

MASTER MARINER (35+ YEARS OFFSHORE EXPERIENCE).

Do you think that was a little excessive? I don’t, I really don’t. I am getting SO fed up with the amount of complete and total pure BULLSHIT these companies are putting us through. Just in order to go to work for them.

Does anyone really think that after almost 50 YEARS spent working at sea, that 10 minutes, or even if I really push it, 2-3 hours of instruction, will make ANY difference to ANYTHING out there? If anyone does, there is no other word for those people than “INSANE” or “STUPID”. And yes, I am specifically talking to everyone involved in insisting on requiring these so called “training’ certificates!

They’re expensive and they’re USELESS! I know it and you damn sure OUGHT to know it!

How many mariners have you heard gushing about how much they learned in one of those courses? How many have you heard thanking the heavens that they’ve been forced to waste their vacation time in one of those classes instead of spending their time enjoying it the way they EARNED the RIGHT TO?

I can count the number of mariners who’ve felt that way on one hand, and after working out there for so many years, I know a LOT of mariners!

This whole certification rigamarole is just one more unnecessary burden. It’s not as if it’s all that great offshore anymore. They’ve cut and they’ve cut and they’ve cut some more. Yeah, things were finally getting pretty nice out there. Back a couple of years ago when the price of oil was sky high and they needed us badly and so were finally willing to offer us decent pay and conditions. Up until the price of oil dropped like a rock.

Now, we’ve dropped right back to where we were decades ago. Lost pay, lost benefits, lost time at home. Increased workload, increased forced ‘training’ and costs associated with all that, loss of freedom, loss of opportunity.

I used to think this was the best job in the world. It really was, way back when I started. Now, nah, not so much. Yeah, I still do personally consider it the best for me. I really can’t imagine anywhere I’d rather be than out on the ocean somewhere. Sailing to some obscure foreign port with adventures awaiting.

Sadly, there’s not too much of that on offer anymore. It looks to me more and more that my days of sailing the seven seas are about over with. After so many years of fighting to get my license, it’s become all but worthless these days.

Who in their right mind would want to sail as master these days? When every meaningful decision is made by some bean counter on the beach? Yet YOU and ONLY YOU are the one held responsible for the results of those decisions. When you have NOTHING to say about them?

That license you worked so hard to get will be taken from you. Without it, you can’t work ANYWHERE! On top of that, they will probably fine you a lot of money (millions), and then throw you in prison just to make sure that bus runs you over reeeaally good.

The companies need you for your license (by law) but refuse to pay you for them now (see my last job). They treat you like shit and expect you to lap it up like you were slurping down an ice cream Sunday (with a cherry on top)!

The longer it takes me to find a job, the more frustrated, cynical, depressed and angry I get. I think it’s just sick that a company in need of good workers would turn someone with my qualifications and years of experience away simply because they lack one simple certification. Especially when that particular piece of paper is so completely worthless! I worked for that company for 5 years, they KNOW I am perfectly capable and will do them a good job!

I’ve probably just burned my bridges with them and a bunch of other companies office people with this rant. Well, so be it. They need to hear it. For damn sure I’m not the only mariner who feels this way. I guarantee I’m saying what most would say about the situation. These companies need to wake up and get their heads out of their asses and THINK for themselves for a change! STOP sucking up to the god damned insurance companies and their suck-ass lawyers and do the RIGHT thing for once! Stand up for their companies and their people instead of cowering behind the threats of the paper pushers.

God DAMN I wish people in the USA would grow some balls and start acting like the free people we brag to the world about!

I really wish I could afford to start my own boat company. It would be so nice to work for a company that was run by people who really understood the business and was willing to stand up for their employees. I don’t see any like that around anymore. It’s a real shame.

Jones Act vs Puerto Rico

I usually try to avoid the news. It only upsets me and there’s not really anything I can do about any of it. It frustrates me and makes me angry.  I’ve been getting my news from the internet, mostly emails and posts from friends.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot about how the Jones Act is supposedly “strangling” Puerto Rico. This is just another instance of ‘yellow journalism’, or as it’s more likely to be called these days “fake news’.

At least the NY Times got it straight about what the Jones Act covers: shipping from one US port to another must be on ships built in America, owned by Americans, and crewed by Americans. Yes, it is a cabotage law, and protectionist. But they’re far off target on the rest of what they had to say about it.

Yes, our ships do cost more. There are reasons for that. Mostly because our costs are generally higher in the USA than in many of the countries around the world which we compete with for shipping.

WHY are those costs so much higher? Regulations for one. Why do so many owners register with “flags of convenience” like Liberia, Panama, Marshall Islands, etc? I’ll tell you why- because they can get away with running their ships a hell of a lot cheaper!

If that means treating their crew like dogs, so be it. If that means running an old rust bucket until it breaks apart, so be it. If that means ‘cheating’ on the pollution regulations in order to evade paying for proper disposal, so be it.

Do you think the price of anything is the same in China as it is here? How about India?

Fact is, crew costs (which shippers insist is their highest expense) is negligible if you can use crew from any of a number of ‘third world’ countries. I see advertisements every day offering jobs for $200/day for unlimited ships officers. Less than peanuts to any American officer, but I notice dozens of foreigners begging for every one of those jobs. 😦

Who could afford to work at a job like that here, when it costs us hundreds of dollars a year just to keep our documents current? Not to mention what it costs to get a mariners credential in the first place (tens of thousands if you’re wondering). And remember, most other countries subsidize their seafarers, the US does nothing to help us at all. Reagan even took away our promised health benefits.

Our wages are higher across the board, because our cost of living in America necessitates that. The people who work in our shipyards have to be able to survive here. Do you think our naval architects, welders, painters, engineers, machinists, electricians, etc should all work for $20/day like they do in many of the countries our ships compete with?

Mr. Chen, a qualified shipbuilding engineer, said he earned 8,000 yuan a month—around $1,165 today, and three times as much as China’s migrant workers earn on average—during the golden years.

That quote was from an “Investors Alert” article about how the Chinese shipyards are hurting due to the global slump in shipping. I’m sure Mr Chen is making even less money now (the $1,165 per month comes out to a little more than $7/hour on a 40 hour week). How many of our professional engineers would work for $7/hour? Or should even be asked to??? 

I hope you’ll realize that we would have a total of 0 people to work in our shipyards to build our ships OR on our vessels to deliver the goods to Puerto Rico or anywhere else covered by the Jones Act (coastal US shipping- one US port to another). We would have about 0 American ships left after a few years, once all of our old ones gave out.

They would all be replaced by cheaper foreign ships, with cheaper foreign crews.

Yep, we could all save a few more pennies at Walmart, but is it really worth it?

The Jones Act was intended to ensure that we would always have a fleet. A certain amount of American ships. Ships we could depend on in any circumstance.

It was intended to ensure that we would always have the capacity to build the specialized military ships so that we could defend ourselves without having to depend on somebody else’s fleet. It was intended to ensure that we would always have trained shipyard workers to build those ships and crews to sail them.

Do you realize that during the Gulf War we could barely supply the troops? Plenty of our ‘allies’ refused to allow us to use their ships. We were also very, very short on people to crew up the vessels we did have. They were calling out old men from retirement (and waiving their need for current documents).

The NY Times article makes light of the fact that there are no more U-boats cruising our shorelines, like that’s the only threat we have to worry about. They pretend the Jones Act is obsolete because we aren’t at war.

Anybody remember the “War on Terror” we have supposedly been fighting since at least 9-11??? The reason we’ve had to give up our rights to freedom and privacy because there might be terrorists lurking around every corner?

Every American mariner is required to take security training, we are required to pass a background test (we must get a TWIC), we must swear an oath…

I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will faithfully and honestly, according to my best skill and judgment, and without concealment and reservation, perform all the duties required of me by the laws of the United States. I will faithfully and honestly carry out the lawful orders of my superior officers aboard a vessel.

Do you really want to eliminate the Jones Act and all the good it does? To save a few cents (maybe)?

Puerto Rico is suffering in the wake of Hurricane Maria, but it has nothing to do with the Jones Act! There are hundreds of thousands of supplies stacked up in the ports. Items delivered by both US and foreign ships. None of them had any trouble delivering their cargo because of the Jones Act.

The problem on Puerto Rico has to do with the infrastructure on the island, NOT getting supplies to the island. Don’t throw out the Jones Act and all the behind the scenes good it does for everyone in this country, just because a few people (and the NY Times) don’t understand it.

SoCS: Vol

Linda’s challenge today for Stream of Conciousness Saturday is…

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “vol.” Find a word with “vol” in it, and use it in your post. Have fun!

My first thought was ‘volvo’, I don’t know anything about them. I’m not really into cars, especially not newer models. Then I thought of ‘volunteer’. I volunteer sometimes at our local Seamans Center (in Freeport, TX). I haven’t been able to lately. I’ve just been too busy. I don’t really understand that, since I have hardly been working.

Usually I work offshore. I’m gone for weeks at a time and then home for a while. When I’m home, I have to catch up with all the things I didn’t get to do while I was gone.

Since I haven’t been working, I figured I’d be able to get a lot done. It hasn’t worked out that way at all. I spend so much time looking for work! I also found a couple of part time jobs so that takes up even more of my time.

Oh well. I will continue to volunteer when I can. As a seafarer for most of my life, I appreciate how much any Seamans Center is worth to a sailor. Maybe not quite so much as in the old days, when we had to wait to go ashore and then go find a telephone office. We’d have to wait in line for hours to call home.

Now we have phones on board and some people even have cel phones so they can call home once the ship gets near enough to land. The Seamans centers still offer phones to call home. Now they also have internet access (a BIG plus).

It’s a friendly place in a strange port where you can go hang out and be comfortable.

Anyway, volunteer was only my first good thought. My next thought, and the one I really wanted to write about was voluntarism.

That is at least as important to me as volunteering. In a way they’re connected. I strongly believe that we should all follow the principle of voluntarism. I think it’s the best way to live together as a society. Everyone free to live the way they want, with no one else forcing them into a mold they don’t fit into. All doing the things they really want to do. The way I understand voluntarism is- living life through voluntary actions.

That means I am against the use of force. I agree with the Libertarian NAP (non-agression principle- which does allow for defense of self and others). I do not think any (responsible) human being has the right to control another as long as a person is not harming anyone. There are all kinds of arguments that can be thrown out there, like ‘what does it mean to be responsible?’, ‘what does it mean to harm someone?’. etc, etc, etc.

Serious libertarians spend hours debating such questions. I am just a libertarian ‘lite’. I want to live a peaceful, prosperous life. I want to live as a free human being. I want everyone else in the world to have the same ability.

So many people think it would never work. But it has worked in the past. If you look at the most prosperous, the most advanced societies on the planet you’ll find out that they also had the most liberty. Just compare North and South Korea for a good idea of what I’m talking about. People who are free to live as they chose can get very creative and they do mostly find ways to get along.

I was reading something just the other day about an ancient city. I think it was in Turkey somewhere. The article mentioned that it was, in fact, an anarchy. If this wasn’t a SoCS post, I would go and look it up (I will do that later and post on it). 😉

In the meantime, check out my sticky post at the top of my blog. Take the quiz and see where you stand on the idea.

For Penny: SNL Trump Dog

I cracked up the first time I saw this on Saturday Night Live. I mentioned it in some comments to my friend Penny (check out her great blog, where she writes about traveling the world with her dog). I thought some of the rest of you might get a laugh out of it too. Enjoy…

Another Sunday

Amazing, isn’t it? How an entire week can go by, when you’re busy, busy, busy every day. Yet nothing really gets accomplished.

Yep, this week was one of those.

I spent most of every day this week still trying to find work. Filling out online applications (again), for all the same places that I’ve already filled them out for. Calling everyone I could find to call. Still getting the same results…

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

So, I broke down and went to Houston on Wednesday to see about joining the SIU. The unlicensed seamans union. I’ve been an applicant with the AMO (licensed officers union) since at least December and have had 1 (yes only1) possible job. That job was gone before I could even return the phone call! Since then, they don’t answer the phone, they don’t return calls, I’ve pretty much lost hope that they actually have any work.

Of course I would rather use the license I’ve spent 30+ years and $50,000+++ to earn! But if I have to sail as a deckhand, I’m perfectly willing to do that too. Anything out at sea is better than working at McDonalds or Domino’s, which seem to be the only jobs open to me on the beach. 😦

Shit! 2 college degrees and 30 years of experience to earn the highest license there is out there, and what does it get me? NOTHING! Not a damn thing!

Yeah, I’ve had it pretty good up until the last couple of years. I was able to save a few bucks. I was able to travel and enjoy life. I did really love a few of my jobs. Never really hated any of them. But after almost 2 years of unemployment and unable to find ANY work that will even come close to paying the bills, I have to say I am getting more than a little bit pissed off.

Yes. Pissed off! Frustrated. Angry. Depressed. Un-motivated. I could go on…

I try to find other things to do, to earn a few bucks. Writing/painting/photography, etc. I still haven’t sold even one item. Yeah, it’s getting very depressing. I can hardly motivate myself to work on any of that stuff. First of all, I feel like I need to concentrate on finding a ‘real’ job. So spend hours/day looking for work. By the time I’m done with that, I really don’t feel like doing anything creative. I don’t even want to look at the computer anymore, much less spend hours blogging. 😦

I keep meaning to blog more. This was meant to be a much more interactive blog. Where I could talk to people all over the world about different places and how things were there. I thought I would always have interesting sea stories and adventures from my travels to write about. But I haven’t been working in so long and so can’t afford to travel anymore, so I wonder what can I write about now?

What is interesting about my life at home? Nothing, really. I’m just another ordinary, broke and struggling American. I do have more political interest than most. I could write about that. But every time I do that, people seem to drop me like a hot potato (most not even commenting as to why).

So I’ve tried to keep the politics toned down, even tho it’s one of my main passions. I am 100% in support of freedom, for everybody, on all issues, all the time. Do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anybody else. That’s my motto and that’s what America was founded to promote. Too bad ‘we’ve’ decided to throw that whole ‘freedom’ thing out in the garbage pile. 😦

Oh no, I have not forgotten. We still do have our ‘freedom’ of speech. Sort of. Remember ‘political correctness’? How often are you seeing censored posts on Twitter and Facebook? I see them plenty! Yeah, we may still have a little bit of ‘freedom’ of speech, but as for the rest of the Bill of Rights, all but the 3rd Amendment have been constantly and continuously violated.

Am I the only one who’s noticed? Who cares?

Then why is no one even willing to discuss it? Even on a blog? Yeah, I’m sure plenty of people are actually self-censoring. Afraid they’ll be hauled off sooner or later for violating some trumped up anti-constitutional ‘law’ on ‘hate’ speech, or defamation or some other crap. I think I will keep on saying what I will say until the day they decide to haul me off. I’ve already self-censored myself enough (in fact, I think I’ve even lost work over what I’ve said and not said). Screw it, I’m done playing games!

I’ve worked my ass off my entire life, NOT to wind up an old bag lady, wandering the streets eating cat food. If after everything I’ve done to avoid that, working hard, saving everything I could, investing every extra dollar, starting businesses, rental properties, etc, and I’m STILL going to wind up like that? Why do I even try anymore???

My birthday is coming up again soon. I’m getting to the age where I feel like I don’t have too many more years ahead of me where I’ll be able to work or to travel. I want to LIVE those few years I have left. I don’t want to spend them in fear. Broke, afraid, trapped.

I think and think and wonder every day- HOW can I manage to do that- without having to win the lottery???

Happy 4th of July- Really?

I made the mistake of looking at Facebook earlier today. I probably shouldn’t have. I saw way too many posts and videos of the LACK of freedom here in the USA. This country that we say is the “land of the free and the home of the brave”.

Where are they? All those free and brave people? Why aren’t they standing up against the horrible abuses of our constitutional rights that happen every day? Abuses we’ve ALL suffered since 9-11 gave the powers that be the excuse they needed to trick us into giving up our most valuable resources. We gave up our freedom. For tricks and LIES.

All I see is a bunch of thugs in uniform, running around like they own the place. They work for US, not the other way around! They’ve been harassing the hell out of people who are NOT doing any harm to anyone. These thugs spend all their time and energy on this sort of shit and then expect us to show respect and be grateful to them. It honestly makes me want to puke.

Seriously. Last week, while I was driving to work up at SanJac, KPFT was reading George Orwell’s 1984 on the radio. I don’t know how many of you have read it. I have read it a couple of times now. It would hope it is still required reading in school (but if it is, no one has paid a lick of attention to it).

I was crying. I felt shriveled up inside. I was hurting. Sad and angry and frustrated and humongously pissed off!

ALL of the things Orwell wrote about in that book ARE happening. Right here! Right now!

In fact, the real truth is that things are already much, much worse than George Orwell ever dreamed when he wrote that book. Yeah, really! Orwell’s Big Brother only watched you through the TV screen. You could find ways around it.

OUR big brothers (NSA, TSA, etc, etc), are watching your every move! They may not watch you through the TV screen (but then again, they may), but they keep track of every phone call, every email, every dollar you earn, every dollar you spend, your complete medical history, everywhere you go, and on and on and on and on.

And just like in the book, the vast majority of the people around me just go on with their lives. They continue to ignore the reality. They ALLOW the sick, power-hungry, vicious bastards to get away with it! Many of them are cheering it on. 😦

WTF is wrong with these people?

Just like in the book, we are at continuous war. Who are we fighting this year? Does it matter? Nope. They’ll manipulate the news and the truth until nothing really matters any more. Nobody cares. And it goes on.

People ask, how can you argue about loss of freedom when our national security is at stake? It’s not, but it doesn’t really matter, does it? The powers that be have convinced enough of us to trade away our freedom for their promises of security. Shame on us for falling for it!

WOW! I never, ever, thought it would actually come to this the first time I read that book.

Like Winston, all I can do is cry, and try my very best to find some small hidey hole to keep a tiny bit of freedom for myself.

Happy 4th of July. 😦

Court

Hey! I’m really glad so many of you responded to my post yesterday about going to court in support of raw milk and ‘food freedom’ in general. It’s great to know that people really do care about some of these issues and I’m not just beating my head against the wall. I’ll have to update this again later. Today’s court session was not exactly clear to me as to what was going on. 😦

It looked to me like the entire courtroom was packed with raw milk supporters. We all had little white stickers on our shirts to show our support.

A few minutes after the appointed time, they called out names. People were coming a going up to the front of the room where the ‘official people’ sat around behind desks and computers (the judge was not in the courtroom yet).

I didn’t know the name of the person charged or exactly what the charges were. Sorry to say, I still don’t. I did see the lady and the gist of what I heard of the charges against her was: ‘unsanitary conditions’ and something to do with not being ‘licensed’ as a food business.

OK. Here’s the story. Her friends asked her to go to a licensed dairy farm and pick up some milk for them. They gave her money to pay for it. As far as I could tell, they did not pay her anything for going to get it. So I’m still very confused as to what she did that was actually illegal or what possible reason could there be for making anything she did illegal?

It is legal to buy raw milk in Texas.

At this point, all I can say is that the lawyers seemed to think they got a good result today. There was a LOT of local support for the whole raw milk thing. People whole heartedly support the idea of “food freedom” and their rights to choose what they want to be able to eat, drink, grow, smoke, buy, sell, etc.

I’ll report more on this later. I’ve been promised more information from people who are more involved in this than I am. In the meantime, check out the links towards the end of yesterdays post.

I’ve got to get up early tomorrow to repeat my HUET course (again- for about the 5th time). It doesn’t actually expire, but almost all companies insist on repeating it every 3-4 years anyway. Are they really expecting their helicopters to crash that often? What is it that they think we forget in the class that we must repeat it so often? Is it really that hard to remember to open the window and climb out of the thing?????

I really, really wish the people who insist on forcing all this ‘training’ on us would get their shit together and figure out one acceptable class for all this crap! Instead, each company insists you take their class (which is pretty much exactly like the other guys class).

Companies that work in Europe don’t accept USA typical courses, nor do they have a ‘gap closing’ course, so if you want to be eligible to work anywhere outside of the USA, you are forced to pay again, for the exact same ‘training’ you’ve already paid for except for a grand total of 1 hour of something different.

I’m too tired tonight to get into it. I had a long day of running around Houston. I’ll write it up tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll still be ticked off enough to explain. 😉

Going to Court Tomorrow

Hard to believe we’re still wasting our resources prosecuting people for this sort of thing. I mean really!?

If I asked you to go pick up a gallon of milk for me and gave you the money to pay for it, do you really think you should be hauled off to jail for doing me a favor like that?

REALLY???

I think this whole thing is just one more example of a completely out of control government that has taken over damn near everything in this country.

I am sick to death of hearing about this sort of shit happening every day, right here in this “free” country. I am so, so tired of all the people around me spouting out the supposed wis(h)dom that “we live in a democracy”, so we just have to put up with whatever stupidity ‘our leaders’ decide to manipulate the majority of the pubic into going along with.

NO WE DON’T! We DON’T live in a democracy, we live in a Constitutional Republic! And we DON’T have to put up with this kind of ridiculously stupid shit they’re trying to shove down our throats and call it ‘the law’!

Here is a quote from the email I got…

After several delays, Harris County is pressing forward with the prosecution of a woman who picks up raw milk from a licensed farm for herself and others.

 

We ask that if you are in or near Harris County, please support this woman & local food consumers by appearing at the trial in Pasadena next Wednesday, June 14. Details are below.

 

While the Texas Department of State Health Services initiated the harassment of raw milk farmers and consumers last summer, it later stated that it will not pursue customers who are making legal purchases, nor the people they hire as agents to pick up milk for them. (Read more here .)
But Harris County is still pressing forward with the trial to prosecute this courier.
The County has been given the written agreement, signed by individual customers, in which they made the woman their agent and asked her to pick up milk on their behalf from a licensed, inspected dairy. Not one customer has gotten sick and no one has complained.
People pick up groceries for each other all the time. Every day, FedEx and UPS deliver food ordered online. UberEats and numerous others provide home delivery of food. None of these hold food establishment licenses. Yet the County claims that this raw milk courier has to have the same license as a restaurant or food truck.
While the prosecution is motivated by anti-raw milk bias, the legal principles are not limited to one product —   the regulation cited by the County applies to all foods.

Can you help defend this woman —   and, in the process, defend your right to ask someone to pick up food from a local farm for you?We need as many people as possible to be in the courtroom next Wednesday, to send the message that the raw milk courier has the support of the community. 

The judge and jury need to see that local food supporters are not a fringe group —   they are just regular people who want to provide healthy food to their families.

 

 
TAKE ACTION: Come to the trial!
WHERE: Justice Court, Precinct 2, 101 South Richey, Suite B, Pasadena, TX 77506
WHEN: Wednesday, June 14, at 1 p.m.
WHAT: After you enter the building, turn left to go to Judge George Risner’s courtroom at the end of the hallway. Enter quietly, and take a seat.
PLEASE be respectful of the proceedings. Any disruption will hurt the cause, so no signs, no verbal outbursts, no applause or groans, etc. You can do the most good by conducting yourself in a calm, professional manner.
They will have lapel stickers available so that you can identify yourself as a raw milk supporter. We want a large, visible show of support for the raw milk courier!

I plan to be there tomorrow. I will do what I can to support this woman and anyone else in similar circumstances. I fully support the people’s right to eat, drink, buy, sell, and use ANYTHING as long as they’re not hurting anyone else. Anybody in the Houston area, feel free to join me. 😉

I also strongly support the fully informed jury amendment and the idea that all jurors, in EVERY case, are there to judge the law itself- NOT just the facts of the case- no matter what lies the judge and legal system may say about it. That is, in fact, the entire purpose of the jury! What is the point of having a jury if they are only supposed to follow the directions of the court?

I admit, I don’t really pay much attention to eating right. I eat a lot more junk food than I should. I don’t spend extra money on organics or shop at farmers markets (I hate getting up so early!). But. I most definitely DO support the rights of the people who do want to pay attention to healthy eating and who want to make their own decisions about what to do with their lives, their bodies, their health, their time and their money!

I will go to court tomorrow to show my support. I hope to see a lot of others there doing the same. I hope to see that we can at least show the judge and jury that there IS a lot of community support for this. The right to choose, the right to live as you want (as long as you don’t hurt anyone else), the right to healthy food, the right to run a business, the right to freely associate, the right to freedom!

Want to know more about raw milk? Check out a few of these links…

http://ij.org/case/florida-skim-milk/

Food Freedom Project- Institute for Justice

Texas Real Milk

http://www.foodrenegade.com/texas-forces-raw-milk-dairy-dump-700-gallons-of-milk/