V is for Vegas- #AtoZChallenge

V” is for Vegas! “Las Vegas” technically, but what the heck. I figure I can play a little fast and loose with the technicalities, right?

So, I actually made (most of) this post a couple of years ago. The last time I went to Vegas.  It was for a challenge using the word “dreamy”. But I figured, it never really changes much there. So, why not do it again. 🙂

Here goes…

I already posted one photo from my trip to Las Vegas, but it’s such a dreamy kind of place. I thought about it and came up with some more ideas.

I posted another one about an Elvis impersonator who was performing right outside my hotel. Lots of women thought Elvis was pretty ‘dreamy’. Then I posted some dreamy girls for the guys. 🙂

Las Vegas really is a dreamy kind of place. I think it’s one of those places that’s built on dreams. All kinds of dreams going on there. People go there dreaming to hit the jackpot and get rich. They go there hoping to hit it big and make a name for themselves as a singer or a dancer or chef or…

I love to hang out in old downtown. It’s not like the Strip (which is interesting in a different way), where things are spread out and isolated. Every casino has it’s own attractions and you pretty much stick to one since it’s a pain to move on to the next.

Downtown is different. Everything is close together. There’s lots to do (Mob Museum, Container Park, Neon Museum), and all kinds of things going on. Fremont Street is the hub of all the action. There are at least a dozen different casinos all within easy walking distance. It’s easy to hit one for drinks, another to eat, try the poker at one, blackjack at another…

Fremont Street is really pretty cool. They have a light show projected on a huge blocks-long overhead screen. You can go zip-lining right over the top of all the crowds. There are artists at work, lots of little shops along the street. They have all kinds of bands and performers scheduled to play on the various stages. And then there are all the unscheduled ‘performers’. People who just like to come out and play. 🙂

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T is for Travel- #AtoZChallenge

T” is for traveling. One of my all time favorite things! I love a good book, but I love it even more when I’m reading it in some new place, somewhere I’ve never been.

My last trip was a big one. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere for a while. I pretty much accept now that I won’t be able to go back to work for months, if not years. Until I start ‘earning a living’ again and have more than enough to just barely pay the bills by using up my savings, I won’t be going anywhere.

I did go to the big Travel Show in Dallas a couple of weeks ago. That was just to see what’s on the RADAR. Exploring what I can work on for my new travel writing and photography career.

I took a detour on the way home, stopped in Ennis and did the Bluebonnet Trail. The flowers were beautiful. Fields full of bluebonnets, indian paintbrush and other spring blooms.

I will be going to the TBEX in Huntsville AL next month. I’m really looking forward to that. I hope to make some contacts and improve my blogging. 🙂

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite travel quotes. I hope they inspire you, like they do me. Enjoy. 🙂

     

Flower of the Day: Azalea Bush

Here’s a post for Cee’s Flower of the Day: Azalea Bush. 🙂

S is for Spike- #AtoZChallenge

S” is for Spike. Today, I’m posting about the letter S for both the A to Z Challenge and the Daily Post. I love it when I can do double duty here. 😉

It’s easy to come up with S words, not so easy to come up with things to say about “spike”. Then I remembered those beautiful doors from my last vacation. Stone Town, Zanzibar has the most ornately carved doors. Many of them have spikes, “to keep out the elephants.”

 

R is for Re-Do- #AtoZChallenge

R” is for Re-Do. I don’t know how many of you all work at a job in which you’re constantly having to re-do everything you do.

In my profession, (merchant marine) it started fairly recently (1970’s). It started with only a bare minimum of requirements (RADAR and physical every 5 years).

I have heard that the medical profession requires some sort of recency requirements (tho I really have no idea what sorts of things doctors or nurses have to do to keep their licenses current)(any ideas)?

I’ve also heard the airline pilots have an even more stringent set of requirements they must satisfy to keep working.

But in the maritime profession, I am constantly amazed at how much they keep coming up with for us, how little of it is really useful or necessary, and how few people seem to have a problem with it.

Of course, all of those people who have an issue with it are people like me. People who actually have to DO the job. People who have been doing the job perfectly fine for decades WITHOUT any of the things that are required now. All of which are pretty much second nature after you’ve worked at sea for any amount of time. Our job is not exactly rocket science. 😉

For example, now we not only have to do (before we can start work) a few classes- about dozen for a mate working at sea), we have to re-do: RADAR/ARPA, physical yearly (if you have any one of dozens of common conditions), basic safety training, advanced fire fighting, CPR. Those are just the ones required by the US Coast Guard to keep your license.

AND, if you have not managed to work in one sector of the industry for the last 5 years, you will also have to re-do ‘training’ so that you can do that very same job again. For instance, if you have not worked on tankers in the last 5 years, you will have to re-do the class or find a ship so you can do a couple of transfers. Same goes for towing vessels. If you don’t have the sea time on them, you lose your ability to work on them until you re-do the ‘training’.

Same now goes for dynamic positioning (DP)! Either you manage to keep working through this horrible downturn, OR, you must somehow cough up $5000 grand so you can re-do that training!

You will ALSO need: HUET, safe-gulf, rig pass, SEMS, marine debris, blood born pathogens, and many other COMPANY required re-training every couple of years if you want to work in the Gulf of Mexico (or for any oil company).

It’s not like anything has changed really. I’ve been taking fire fighting since 1978. The ONLY thing new in that class is that they’re now calling a grease fire a ‘class k’ fire. It’s still the exact same fire, you fight it the exact same way. Everything is exactly the same except the name. Things don’t change much (or at all) in most of the classes we’re now forced to take.

Today, I’ve been waiting to get a chance to re-do my tankerman person-in-charge (PIC). I worked on tankers for almost 13 years. Since I have been doing other things for the last 5, I am required to re-do the training before I can get my license back (thank goodness I put it into continuity status or there would be many more hoops to jump through)!

I could either spend about $5000 to re-do the week long course, or get on board a vessel to do 2 transfers. So, tomorrow I am getting some help to do that. I will join a vessel in Houston to participate in the cargo operations. Catch up on anything new since I’ve last done this job. Hopefully I will get a letter for the Coast Guard that will allow me to get back my PIC so I can find some work! 🙂

I’m thankful that some people are willing to help, especially since I can’t afford to re-do the class!

Q is for Quiz- #AtoZChallenge

Q” is for Quiz. I was having a pretty hard time coming up with something to write about for the letter “Q”. It was either going to be QMEDQ4000, question, quagmire (Trump promised to drain the swamp, but it’s turning into an even worse quagmire), or quiz.

Quiz it is.

I love this little quiz. It’s the same one I keep as a sticky as the first post on my home page. It’s put out by the Advocates for Self Government as the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz”.

As you can tell from my tagline (she sails the seven seas in search of freedom) and my posts the last couple of days, I’m into politics. 😉

I tried to copy and paste it onto the page so you can take it right here. It didn’t quite work. Close enough if you want to try it tho. Just choose wether you agree, disagree, or you’re not sure on each question. The 1st button is always “agree, middle is “maybe” and last is “disagree”. When you finish you can click on ‘get your results’ and it will take you to the actual quiz where you can get your score.

(I score at the top as a Libertarian.)

I’m really curious as to how many are interested in this sort of stuff, and especially where people score. If you take the quiz, please comment and let me know your thoughts and if you want to share, let me know where you score on it. 🙂

Personal Issues
Agree
Maybe
Disagree
Government should not censor speech, press, media, or internet.
Military service should be voluntary. There should be no draft.
There should be no laws regarding sex for consenting adults.
Repeal laws prohibiting adult possession and use of drugs.
There should be no National ID card.
Economic Issues
Agree
Maybe
Disagree
End “corporate welfare.” No government handouts to business.
End government barriers to international free trade.
Let people control their own retirement; privatize Social Security.
Replace government welfare with private charity.
Cut taxes and government spending by 50% or more.
Score ButtonReset Button
“The Quiz has gained respect as a valid measure of a person’s political leanings.”
– The Washington Post“The World’s Smallest Political Quiz stands ready to help you determine your political identity. Quick and relatively painless.”
– USA Today
“The World’s Smallest Political Quiz is savvy and willing to tell you the truth.”
– YAHOO! Magazine“Give this quiz a try. It’s fun, and who knows, you may be surprised at what you find.”
– Politics on the Net by Bill Mann
 Contents copyrighted © The Advocates for Self-Government, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational organization.

N is for New Orleans- #AtoZChallenge

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“N” is for New Orleans, a city like no other. It’s one of my all time favorite places to visit. I first started going to New Orleans back in 1978-79.

I was in the Ocean Marine Technology Program at Brazosport College. It was a 2 year program where I would be able to earn my AB and QMED certificates from the Coast Guard. One of the things we had to do was to take fire-fighting training. We also had to take a ‘Spring Cruise”. We combined them and took a couple of boats up to Delgado Community College in New Orleans to take their fire-fighting course.

That’s me, 2nd from left, back row

I was 17 at the time and the youngest in class. We had a nice and easy trip up, the weather was fine and we all got to practice our celestial navigation skills. We all looked forward to seeing New Orleans and we were not disappointed. We all had a blast and will always remember getting underway bright and early after a late night out on Bourbon Street. 😉

I used to go home to Florida to visit family a couple of times a year and always stopped in New Orleans if I could. I liked to hang around the French Quarter and recharge my batteries for a day. Maybe longer if I met up with some ‘cool’ people. 😉

Years later, when I got older and had to slow down on the partying, I started to enjoy more of the city than Bourbon Street. I’ve gone for conferencesworkshops and training, and layovers for traveling to and from work offshore. I always try to spend a little extra time just to relax and enjoy the city.

It’s so easy. New Orleans has it’s own special vibe. They say it’s got “soul”. Yeah, I agree. It feels sultry, hot and humid most of the time. It almost oozes history. You can see it in the architecture all over the French Quarter. It smells delicious. Chicory coffee, beignets, seafood gumbo, salty oysters, and boozy concoctions around Bourbon Street.

The food is amazing! Classic French, Creole, Cajun and all combinations thereof. Soul food, muffaletas, po-boys, fresh seafood, fine steaks, you can get all that and more. Some of the best cooks in the world call New Orleans home.

New Orleans is a city of music. Jazz, Cajun, Creole, Rock, Soul, Blues, it’s all there. All over the place. I love wandering around the French Quarter, finding musicians playing out in the streets. You can almost always find some around Jackson Square or Royal Street. Then there are the second line parades. It’s always fun to join in the party. Where else can you get that?

New Orleans has so many parades, parties and festivals. I love it! I wonder if I would ever get anything done if I actually lived there? 😉

M is for Monkey Bread- #AtoZChallenge

M” is for Monkey Bread! Yummmmmm!!

I tried this recipe last week. I had to make some adjustments since I didn’t have exactly what they called for. Also, since I am only cooking for myself now, I didn’t want to overload the place and wind up throwing most of it away. So, to start with, I cut their recipe in half. I only used 1 can of (Kroger brand) biscuits, and halved everything else except the walnuts and raisins (I like both of those things). 😉

Ingredients

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Flaky Layers refrigerated Original biscuits
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
1/2 cup raisins, if desired
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Steps

  •  1 Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
  • 2 Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts and raisins among the biscuit pieces.
  • 3 In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.
  • 4 Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.
I didn’t have a bundt pan (fluted tube pan), so I just used a round cake pan. It was just big enough to fit with the recipe cut in half. Mine may not look as good as theirs, but it still tasted wonderful and it made the whole house smell delicious for days. 🙂

K is for Kestrel- #AtoZChallenge

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“K” is for Kestrel. No, not the bird, but the dive boat I used to work on for CalDive.

My captain took that picture (for some reason, I can’t figure out how to get all my photos onto this computer). Check out his website, he has more cool ship pictures. 🙂

I only worked on the Kestrel for a short time. I was hired on for a job as Chief Mate, but when I actually got there, the company informed me that I would instead be sailing as Second Mate. Who knew for how long?

Of course I was not happy with that situation and made plans to take another job. I only needed 6 more weeks of sea time as Chief Mate before I could apply for my Master Mariners license.

Luckily, I was able to get those 6 weeks on board the Kestrel after all. 🙂

It was an ‘interesting’ job. And old ship, but a good crew kept her going. Too bad the last I heard she was sold for scrap. 😦

J is for Java- #AtoZChallenge

J” is for Java. One of the main islands of the Indonesian archipelago. I love to explore and Indonesia is an incredible place for that. 🙂

I usually go to Bali, but Java is the next island over to the West. It’s very easy to get there from Bali. You can take a quick flight, or take a ferry over. I was on vacation when I went (and so short on time), so I decided to fly over to Yogyakarta. It turned out to be an excellent choice and I only wish I had more time to spend there.

There are a lot of things I would love to explore on the island of Java. So many things I just didn’t have the time to do. I’d love to see the sights of Jakarta and especially check out the harbor. I must definitely find a guide this time so I can communicate with the sailors. I am still very interested in their beautiful Pinisi schooners. 🙂

If I ever get to go again, I’d like to hike up Mt Bromo, and catch the sunrise. Cool off at the Hill Stations and hike the rice paddies. Cruise the Green Canyon. Watch the Shadow Puppet shows and a few troupes of traditional dancers. Wander through the markets, investigating all the different things on offer than what we see at home.

One of those things I did manage to see was the ancient Buddhist temple of Borobudur. It’s long been on my bucket list. 😉 I’ve always loved to explore. I love history, old buildings, ancient civilizations, different religions. Borobudur was a combination of all of those things. It is also a world heritage site (along with the nearby Hindu site of Prambanan– which I also got to visit on this trip). 🙂

Prambanan temples Java Indonesia

I is for Istanbul- #AtoZChallenge

“I” is for Istanbul. Turkey. I was able to take a nice long stop there on the way to my photography safari last November. I’m so glad I did! Here’s a recap of my first day…

Istanbul! What an exciting city! I hear the seagulls cry, the ships distant whistle, the calls of the street vendors selling roasted chestnuts and corn on the cob. I smell the sea air mixed with cumin, coriander, cinnamon and apples.

The sense of history here is intoxicating. The locals are used to it, but it amazes me to walk along the hippodrome past the Spiral Column sunk almost 10 feet down into the ground. The ground level of 2000 years ago.

I spent yesterday soaking up the history of this place. I started out practically next door to my hotel. Walking up the street to the Arasta Market and right next door to the Mosaic Museum.

Again, the mosaics were at ground level from 2000 years ago, so we walked along a platform to see them on the ground. Some smaller ones were mounted on the walls where we could see them close up. There were good explanations in English (and other languages).

Outside the Mosaic Museum is the Blue Mosque. Just across the street is the Islamic Arts museum. Pass by the construction in front of the entrance door and climb the stairs. Make your way around dozens of small galleries showcasing various ancient civilizations with an Islamic focus.

I was most impressed with the books (Qu’rans mostly). They were absolutely gorgeous! The fine, delicate decorations, the flowing script, the golden ink. The information cards listed the calligraphers (as they should), their work was simply stunning!

From there, cross over behind the Aya Sofia (museum) to find the Carpet Museum. This one was not included on the Museum Pass (85 TL for 5 days). It cost 9 TL. There were 3 galleries to look at. The carpets were displayed very nicely, but except for the 2nd gallery they were very short on information.

Outside the Carpet Museum is the main gate into Topkapi Palace. I managed to look at the Aya Irini (another old Byzantine church), and the Archaeology Museum before being chased out at closing time (5 pm).

The church is old and empty, you’re not allowed to go upstairs and there’s netting to keep the pigeon shit and feathers from falling on you. I would skip it if I was pressed for time. The Archaeology Museum is another story. It was very impressive!

There is a whole forest of ancient tombstones, columns, and statues outside. There are at least 3 different buildings to explore. The first one I looked at had a huge selection of tombstones and sarcophagi. It was very impressive. The detail work was amazing. Some of those things were huge! I wondered how many people did they put in there?

There is another building full of ceramics. It had a domed ceiling, surrounded by stained glass windows, and tile on the walls- some of them decorated with gold paint. How beautiful!

Each room showed the different styles of ceramic from different time periods and civilizations. Some of it was fairly crude work, some of it was extremely fine and delicate. I loved the beautiful swirling patterns of blue and white.

The last building I was able to explore was under construction. I had to walk through a long passage covered in white plastic. The actual museum started out with life sized marble statues of the gods. Artemis, Apollo and more.

They were setting up an exhibit with TV screens, ‘Are We Human’. It looked very interesting. I saw something about 2000 years of history in Aleppo, showing the latest destruction. I would have liked more time to try to figure out what was going on. There was something else about oil- ‘leave it in the ground’- which I really wanted to learn more about, but I was running out of time.

Upstairs, Istanbul through the Ages was a very thorough timeline of artifacts found nearby and more history of the people who lived around this area and Turkey. I was only halfway through the second floor when a guard told me it was time to leave (at only 20 til 5).

H is for Hadzabe- #AtoZChallenge

H” is for the ‘Hadzabe’, an African tribe of friendly people who have chosen to retain their traditional lifestyle. On a photography safari with Great Escape Publishing (GEP) last November, I was able to spend the day learning about how they managed to survive in today’s world.

A very early morning wakeup brought our group of photographers to spend the day with a couple of the traditional tribes of the area. First the Hadzabe, the hunters, next the Datogas, the blacksmiths. We had to meet the Hadzabe very early for a special treat, we would go on a hunt with their men!

#tribe of #Hadzabe #men

We left the beautiful Lake Eyasi Safari Lodge at 0545 and drove about 45 minutes to the Hadzabe camp. They still live a nomadic life, so we met them at one of their temporary camps. They had built scattered domed huts out of thin, flexible branches tied together in addition to their ‘rooms’ in a rocky outcrop atop a high hill.

#traditional #Hadzabe #hut made from flexible branches

When we arrived, we met the chief and through our interpreter, Joseph, we got an explanation of the basics of their lifestyle. The men brought us up to a large overhang of the rock where they had a fire going. They explained the different types of arrows they used for hunting (some were poisonous).

A couple of them showed us how they started a fire (no, not with a Bic lighter), the old fashioned way of twisting a stick until it gets hot enough to light the tinder. The Hadzabe men used the spark to light their pipes for a good long toke. A few of our troop tried it too- (lighting the fire, not smoking the weed)- but only one succeeded (just barely). It looked a lot harder when our group tried to do it. The Hadzabe made it look so easy.

starting the #fire

Similar to the Maasai, they were nomadic. But the Hadzabe were hunters, not herders. The chief also had more than 1 wife. The men spent their days hunting and preparing to hunt. They made their bows and arrows, sharpened their knives, kept the fire going, and smoked a lot of weed while they were at it. They offered some to us, but nobody was brave enough to accept.

After the demonstration, we left with the men on their daily hunt. I followed along for about 20 minutes, up and down the rocky hillsides, surrounded by thorny plants in the hot sun. The hunters were already so far ahead of me I couldn’t see what good it was doing to try to keep up with them. I was rushing- huffing and puffing- and not able to really pay attention to my surroundings and thought better about continuing on.

#Hadzabe #African #tribesmen going #hunting with #bows and arrows

I turned around and went back to camp. Joseph escorted me and a couple of others who also wanted to return, just to make sure we made it back safely.

Joseph brought us back to camp, introduced us to the women and then returned to the hunt.

#Hadzabe #woman and her #child

Like the Maasai women, the Hadzabe women stay in camp and tend to the household chores. They take care of the children, do whatever needs doing around the camp, and make items for trade. I watched as all the women and children sat together creating beautiful beadwork items (which they later showed our group- just in case anyone wanted to buy).

#Hadzabe #tribal #beadwork

It took a couple of hours for the men to return to camp- along with our group who stuck it out with them. Sorry to say, they didn’t catch anything. They’ll have to try again later. In preparation for heading out again, they practiced with their bow and arrows and a target stump a couple hundred feet down the slope. We watched as all the men (even the young boys) took their shots at the stump. They even offered to teach us how to do it.

#Hadzabe #tribesmen practice #target #shooting with #bows and #arrows

A couple of our group decided to take them up on it and took a couple of shots at the stump. No one managed to hit the target. I tried to pull the string of one of the small boys’ bow. No, I couldn’t pull it even halfway back. We all had fun, the Hadzabe had a good laugh at how awful we were.

we get to practice #target #shooting with #Hadzabe #bows and #arrows

Before we left, the tribe got together and gave us a farewell present. They put on a dance show for us and even invited us into the dance. It was a fun ending to our visit.

E is for ENSCO- #AtoZChallenge

E” is for ENSCO. I used to work there off and on. I worked for the marine crewing agency C-Mar (among others). Back when there was still work to be had in the offshore sector.

ENSCO is a drilling company. They bought out Pride and built up a pretty good fleet of offshore drilling assets. I worked on many of their vessels over the last few years: the Deep Ocean Mendocino (renamed DS-5), the DS-3, and most of their semi-submersibles.

I spent time on the ENSCO 8500, 8501, 8503 and 8506. The 8506 was one of my favorites. Maybe just because I spent the most time on her. Maybe because I was officially the “Hurricane Master” on board.

That was one of the best jobs I ever had. If it had been located anywhere other than the Gulf of Mexico, I would have said one of the top 2. 🙂

My job basically was to watch the weather, stay on alert for any hurricanes approaching the Gulf and to get the rig ready to move if we had to run from one. I joined the 8506 in the shipyard in Corpus Christi and brought her out to a test location and then on to her first well. I had a great crew to work with and the rig was pretty much brand new.

Eventually, Ensco hired their own crews and stopped using temps like me. 😦

Sadly, even the vessel itself has been out of work for a while.

D is for Death- #AtoZChallenge

There is a curious little museum in New Orleans. Located at 227 Dauphine Street, it’s easy to pass by. Just another unassuming shop front.

I was passing by on a rainy day and noticed the intriguing displays through the front windows. The writing on the door was provocative. I was looking for something interesting to do, and so I went in to take a look around.

The Museum of Death is a small place, but they packed a lot into it. They say it takes about an hour for the self guided tour, but if you take the time to read and absorb the information posted with the displays it will take longer. They didn’t allow photos, so this one of the door is the only one I got. I thought it was expensive at $15, but I suppose for what they’re trying to do, it’s the only way to help pay for it.

It’s a fantastic place to visit if you’re into serial killers, murders, sensational deaths. They had some really great displays on various killers and their victims. I’ve always been interested in what makes a person do something like that. I’ve always been curious about how people think the things they do, and why.

The museum did a pretty thorough job of explaining the whole autopsy process, with tools of the trade and even a video to watch. They had coffins, skulls, shrunken heads and more. If you take the time to read the information posted along with the artifacts, you can learn a lot.

It can get pretty gruesome, lots of blood, guts and gore. It’s definitely not for everyone. I thought it was a pretty cool way to spend a rainy afternoon in New Orleans, but then maybe I’m just weird. 😉

D” is for Death, my post for the #AtoZChallenge.

C is for Calvin- #AtoZChallenge

For “C“, I’ll tell you a little about “Calvin”. Calvin is the name chosen for the latest creepy alien we get to ‘meet’.

I went to see the movie “LIFE” the other day.

I’ve always been into science fiction. Not like a huge geek or anything, but I love the way the stories make you think. About all the different possibilities. What would people do under these circumstances? Or those? The genre allows so much freedom to explore.

LIFE starts out on the International Space Station (ISS). They retrieve a returning Mars probe and find a single celled organism onboard. It grows. Rapidly. Proof of ‘life beyond Earth’. The world is fascinated. They name it “Calvin”.

Too bad, but all the wishful thinking in the world doesn’t make Calvin a nice guy.

Able Bodied Seaman

I only just found out about the #AtoZChallenge yesterday, so I’m going to try to catch up. Today is already the day for “F”!

I’ll make mine today for “A” and “B” with Able Bodied Seaman.

I’m a sailor, a professional mariner. I’ve pretty much spent my entire life at sea, since I was a little kid growing up on my dad’s 1910 staysail schooner. I decided after high school (on a sailing ship) that I no longer wanted to be a doctor, I wanted to be a ship captain!

The first step on that long, hard road was to become an Able Bodied Seaman (AB).

Back when I started, you could just find your way down to the docks and schmooze your way into a job. People were willing and able to give you a chance, let you learn the ropes on the job. Of course, being a female back then (and even now) made things much more difficult. “You’re a girl, girls can’t work on boats!”, “Girls can’t be captains!”. For me, it was easier to go to school and get my AB ‘ticket’ (merchant mariners document) that way.

Now, the Coast Guard has changed the rules (in order to comply with the IMO’s STCW regulations), it is no longer possible to just work your way up. You MUST go to school! You MUST spend at least one week and a few hundred dollars to get ‘trained’. And there are usually more requirements, that is just the bare minimum.

To become an AB, you’ll need to accrue a certain amount of ‘sea time’, time working aboard a vessel. You’ll need to get certified as a Rating Forming Part of a Navigational Watch (RFPNW). You’ll need to be ‘assessed’ by an ‘approved assessor’. Then you’ll be allowed to sit for a test (after paying a couple hundred bucks in fees for background checks, TWIC, etc).

You’re tested on all sorts of things: rules of the road (not at all the same as the ones you learn to drive a car!), seamanship, knots and splices, how to launch and recover a lifeboat, safety, fire fighting, cargo operations, steering a ship, helm commands, etc. All this applies to the “able” part of being a seaman. Before you are an “able” seaman, you are just an ‘ordinary’ seaman (OS).

You’ll also need to pass a USCG specific physical by an approved doctor and also a drug test. This is where the “body” part comes in. There are a few specific things they will fail you for- color blindness being a big one. There are quite a few more they will make you jump through hoops over.

The main issue I’ve had with them over the years is my weight. The physical specifies that if you are over a BMI of 40, then the doctor can ask you to show that you are ‘fit for duty’. They will make you climb the stairs, or lift weights or do certain things that are listed on the physical form they are filling out.

I have been fat since I was 13 years old. I’ve always been able to do anything I need to do physically (tho I admit, I have not needed to run any marathons!). I’ve tried pretty much everything to lose it, even having my jaws wired shut. Nothing has ever worked. I’ve pretty much accepted that I will be fat for the rest of my life. BUT, I have not and never will accept that my weight precludes me doing my job as AB (or mate, DPO or captain)!

I once saved my mates a** by spotting a discrepancy while loading tanks. Saved us from having a major oil spill. He later thanked me by telling me I “would make a great AB someday”. I asked him what he meant since I was actually sailing as AB for him at that time. He said that “AB means ‘able body’ and you are way too fat to be considered able bodied”.

WOW!

Color Your World: Cerise

Today’s color for Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge is: cerise. Here’s my take on it.

Check out her cape. 🙂

This little girl is a great model. She’s a member of the Brazoria County Models and Photographers Meetup group (along with her mom and more of their friends). 🙂

This group is a great way to practice for all of us- models, photographers, make-up artists. We all have a good time. I only wish they scheduled their events more often. I very rarely get to attend since I don’t want to sign up til I know for sure I’ll be around. By then I usually get put on a waitlist and hope for the best.

Next one is coming up soon: “Hipsters”. I went to one like that a few months ago. I’m not sure if I’ll go again since it’s on the same day as the Adopt-a-beach event at Surfside and I plan to make that an event for my own Mariners Meetup group. 🙂

Dallas Travel Show

Well it wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was interesting. The show was held in the Dallas Market Hall. The place was full of booths promoting travel and adventure all over the world. Also, for some reason, there were a few outliers offering home improvements: gutter systems, windows, roofing, etc and beauty systems.

The place was packed with all kinds of people looking for information on places to go, things to do, how to get there and where to stay when they did.

I talked to quite a few people yesterday (and will see more today). I was a little surprised by the huge differences in prices for pretty much the same thing. Transportation and a place to sleep at night.

I think one reason for the higher prices was a more individualized trip. I talked to a few different outfits that specialized in catering to your specific interests. Others that were all about ‘improvement’ in some way.

Like the trip I just took to Tanzania, they would have experts along to guide you and help you with your photography. There was a company at the show called “Art Treks” that would show you around Italy, Ireland or Croatia and help you better your skills at painting and/or photography. It sounds like a fantastic trip, but out of my price range at the moment. 😦

Another, more affordable option, still concentrating on the idea of ‘improvement’ is “Wander Themes“. Their theme is “go places, tell stories”. Sounds good to me! They have programs in Colombia, Panama, Mexico and Costa Rica but it looks like they have other options. According to their brochure, they “provide student travelers and their teachers with custom designed, impactful opportunities to enhance their academic programs…”.

I wouldn’t mind going on a trip with either of those companies (or any of the others I talked to yesterday). I only hope I’ll be able to get back to work soon, so I can afford to start traveling again!

Heading to Dallas

I’ll be getting up early in the morning to drive to Dallas. I’ll be going to the big Travel Show at the Dallas Market Hall.

I’m looking forward to it. I’ve only been to Dallas once in all the years I’ve lived in Texas. My old room mate took me up there once to pick up some dogs or furniture or something. Almost 40 years ago, it’s hard to remember much about the trip.

This should be a pretty big show and lots of interesting things to learn about. I’m going to spend the weekend poking around. I doubt I’ll get to see much of Dallas. Does anybody have any “must see” recommendations for me?

I’ll be driving straight up I-45 to get there, but I can take my time coming home. I might wander around some, on the lookout for the bluebonnets. I haven’t seen any around here, but the Paintbrush is out all up and down the Bluewater Highway between Surfside and Galveston.

I went up to Galveston a couple of times in the last week. I didn’t really have time to stop for photos and only had my iPod with me (which takes crummy pictures). Maybe they’ll still be blooming next week. I’ve only got 1 day of work scheduled so far.

CYW: Pink Flamingo

Here’s my entry for Jennifer Nichole Wells’ Color Your World series: Pink Flamingo.

Hope you like it, I think it fits. 😉