Flower of the Day: Camellia

Join in with Cee, to share some beautiful photos of camellia flowers in her ‘Flower of the Day: Camellia‘ post.

Here’s mine.

Maritime Monday for February 27th 2017: Spy Vs Spy

Another weeks worth of interesting nautical history from Monkey Fist via gCaptain. This week there seems to be a concentration on Russia. There’s also some cool info about tattooing, sea monsters, sailing school ships and salty old restaurants. Enjoy. 🙂

With only the clothes on their backs, 881 Aleuts from nine different island villages were …

Source: Maritime Monday for February 27th, 2017: Spy Vs Spy – gCaptain

Watch: 10 Reasons Why Maritime SUCKS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdMYEKwxTyo Here’s a new upload from maritime Youtuber …

He really makes a lot of good points. I have to agree with him on pretty much everything he says. Yes, things are much, much better for sailors than in the days of Richard Henry Dana’s “Two Years Before the Mast“, but they’ve sure as hell been going downhill since the 1960’s!

Yes, the ships are built with all the latest technology, but the crews have been cut in half and more! Our workload has been constantly increasing, with less and less personnel to do it all!

Yes, our pay has gone up- but not nearly as much as it would take to keep up with inflation. Considering all the expenses we now have added on in order to be allowed to work offshore, we’re actually earning much less than we were in the past.

Yes, communications have improved- for the ship. Not necessarily for the crew. There are still so many ship owners/operators who think of their crews as nothing more than another tool to use and abuse, not human beings like themselves. People who also have a life off the ship (if they have people who choose to stick around and wait for the sailor who may not be able to contact them for months at a time- which is not very likely now a days when everyone expects instant gratification).

I said I would never again work for someone who treated me like that, but I never in my life thought things would get this bad out there! Even with the advent of the STCW, which I immediately saw for what it was (an easy way for shipowners to rid themselves of ‘expensive’ first world crews), I still never imagined how small the box I’ve been shoved into has become!

I always figured that when it got slow offshore, I could ship out on a tugboat, or a tanker, or some other kind of vessel. Well, due to the US Coast Guard constantly changing the rules (and not always putting out the notifications they are required to by law), it is no longer possible to switch sectors like we could before.

Now, if you work on a tanker, you must stay on a tanker or you will lose your ability to ever go back to that kind of work without paying enormous fees to be ‘trained’, (ex: $1,100 for course, $500+ for lodging, $300+ for transport, $300+ for food). To do the same thing you’ve been doing for 5, 10, 15 years in the past ! Same goes for almost every type of vessel now. Passenger vessels only want people with that specific type of experience and paperwork. Towing vessels can only take people with towing endorsements. DP vessels will only take people with DP certificates. Etc.

I’m lucky I’m not a sailor from the Philippines, or China, or any of the other ‘third world’ (meaning low wage) countries where the overwhelming majority of seafarers come from now a days. For an American, working for MSC (Military Sealift Command) is probably the longest hitch out there. It’s supposedly 4 months long. I hear from friends it’s more like 6. Those poor crews from the Philippines are working for 2 years at a time before they can go home!

Most American ships are in pretty decent shape. They’re in great condition compared to a lot of the crap I’ve seen sailing around the world from other countries. Ships with ‘flags of convenience‘. Owners flag their ships outside of their own countries for financial reasons. They can get cheaper crews, bother with less rules and regulations, pay less taxes and fees, etc. Some of them are decent, but many of them are not. Check out this report by the ITF, they do a pretty good job of keeping track of this stuff. Or this, which makes the ITF report look tame.

Watch the video for a pretty good run down of what to expect shipping out. He doesn’t really get into the good parts. But then again, there aren’t too many good parts left anymore. 😦

Any of you sailors out there, I’d be very interested to get your take on both the video and my comments on it.

Source: Watch: 10 Reasons Why Maritime SUCKS (Things To Consider Before Joining Merchant Marine) – JeffHK – gCaptain

Songs of the Sea: I Hate Boats

They say the 2 best days in the life of any boat owner are the day he buys it and the day he sells it. Here’s a song for those who are getting to that 2nd best day!

Organic Gardening

I’m re-blogging this post (click the link below)-these guys have some cool ideas about organic gardening. I’ve never had much of a green thumb, tho I used to try pretty hard to keep a jungle of plants around. My idea of organic gardening is just to plant it and leave it alone (no fertilizer, no pesticides, etc). I’ve learned not to count on anything but trees! My lime tree sprouted up like a weed and is extremely productive. Same with the lemon tree. Oranges are coming along. Grapes are doing so-so.

Last year I tried cucumbers for the first time in ages. Something got to it. One day it was gorgeous, next day it was dead as a doornail. Same thing got to my grapes, raspberries and mint. 😦

I’m going to try the cucumbers again and probably try the pomegranates and blueberries again (tho I just found out they don’t like our dirt around here so maybe not). I have one struggling bush left, I didn’t know they needed 2 to produce.

I’ve been working in my yard when the weather’s nice and I’m not busy with something else (like work, or photography, or blogging, etc). I have most of the front yard ready and about a 5th of the back yard done. I need to get it all done soon, before it starts getting hot. I won’t go outside in the summertime here if I can help it. 😉

If I ever get the yard cleaned up, I’ll pick a few plants to try out this year. Anybody have any suggestions for plants that grow well on the north Texas Gulf Coast? They’ll need to be extremely self-sufficient, since if I ever do get a real job again I won’t be around to tend to them for months on end.

Here’s hoping for that! 🙂

Photo: Via Pinterest Keyhole Gardening was introduced in Africa by the Consortium for Southern Africa Food Security Emergency (C-SAFE) to help ailing and frail Africans grow their own produce with minimum effort by means of a specialized raised bed. The bed, which is waist high and in the shape of a keyhole, allows for standing […]

via Five Notable Organic Gardening Methods — Garden Variety

Maritime Monday for February 20th 2017: Philosophenschiff

I imagine there must’ve been some very interesting conversations on that ship. And what a shame for the people of the USSR. They threw out so many beautiful minds. 😦

Here’s this weeks Maritime Monday from Monkey Fist via gCaptain…

The Ships That Helped Silence the Early USSR’s Intellectuals Russia exiled hundreds of academics …

Source: Maritime Monday for February 20th, 2017: Philosophenschiff – gCaptain

Ships Crew

Pretty good breakdown of crewing on merchant ships.

The field of merchant navy involves a certain order of hierarchy with the seafarers holding different ranks on ships. This ranking system ensures smooth coordination of on board operations and promotes proper management strategies. The nomenclature of merchant navy ranking system is universally accepted by shipping companies and commercial vessels around the world. However, there […]

via A Guide to Merchant Navy Officer Ranks — ‘Expression’ Of A Thoughtful Sailor

Travel Theme: Turquoise

I found a new photography challenge. This week I’m joining in with Ailsa on her Where’s My Backpack Blog. Everyone’s free to join in, click the link here for the details. This week’s travel theme is: turquoise. One of my favorite colors, especially when I see it on the water.

Here are a few of my recent photos with turquoise…

This first batch is from Turkey. I spent a couple of weeks between Istanbul and Cappadocia. They make beautiful pottery (and carpets).

This next batch is from Zanzibar. After Istanbul, I flew to Tanzania for a photography safari and then on to Zanzibar to relax. It was so beautiful there, I could have stayed there forever. 🙂

But, I had to come home. These last few are from closer to home. If you click on the snapshot, you can see more about it.

Do you like turquoise too? See any on your travels? Check out the challenge. 🙂

Another Week Flies By

And here I am still here, still looking for work, still not finding anything. 😦

I did get 3 days of work in Houston last week and I’ll have one more day up there this week. Every little bit helps. It’s just a hard let down, I’m working for 1/10th the day rate I used to get and only working about 1/10th the amount of time too. 😦

Thank goodness I have my real estate investments to fall back on! I’ve gone through almost all of my savings now. The rent I get from those properties is pretty much the only income I’ve had for the past 17 months. I haven’t been able to use much of that money myself either, most of it goes to pay expenses. I’m just thankful they’re not still costing me money.

I did go to a real estate investment seminar last Friday. I had hopes it would be a way I could work my way out of this mess. A way I could earn a living without having to wait for the price of oil to go back up high enough to where they’ll start drilling offshore again.

Sad to say, the program was not at all like what they sold us on at the seminar! Not even close! I was tempted to buy the ‘tax lien investor’ program. I was already buying properties and could have ‘flipped’ them if I wanted to, but I prefer keeping them for rentals. So I wasn’t really interested in their property flipping program.

I thought the tax lien program might work for me. I was already familiar with how they work. Basically, you pay the taxes owed to the county in return for a lien on the property. The property owner has a certain amount of time to pay up. When the time runs out and they don’t, you can claim the property. In the meantime, you collect a high interest rate from the time you pay the county for the lien. Whatever happens, you make money- IF you’ve done your due diligence and bid on a good property!

I’ve gone to a couple of auctions locally. A friend has invested in a few of them and he explained it all to me a few years ago. The thing that convinced me to buy their program was that they said they would do all the research. They would take care of the ‘due diligence’.

Nope. Turns out that’s not at all what they do.

Turns out, they only deal with properties in Florida (even after I- and others- asked them specifically where the properties were located and was told “all over the US, Canada, the Caribbean and the US Pacific Islands including Guam). I suppose only investing in Florida is fine, IF you only want to invest for the interest. Even so, I would still be concerned about the necessary research. That all takes quite a bit of time, especially if it’s not local.

Yes, you can make a lot of money just investing for the interest (never for the property itself), IF you have a lot to invest already. I mean, how much is it really going to help to make 20% interest if you only have $100 to invest? You CAN make a lot of money if you actually get that property behind the lien. That is what I was interested in doing, but turns out they had nothing at all to offer for help on that.

So, I called and asked for a refund. They said they would cancel the credit card charges and I would have to return their books. I haven’t made it to the post office yet but figure i’ll be out at least $20 on postage. Lesson learned- no matter what you do it’s going to cost you money!

Maritime Monday for February 14th 2017: Portishead Radio

I didn’t know Claude Monet painted maritime art. I like this better than his water lilies. 🙂

Take a look at Monkey Fist’s weekly blast of interesting maritime news.

Portishead – Portishead (Full Album) on YouTube Tug and Barge Solutions  – “If you’re going …

Source: Maritime Monday for February 14th, 2017: Portishead Radio – gCaptain

Catching Up

I’ve been busy for the last week or so. I was lucky and got to work for 3 whole days last week. I’m scheduled for 3 more days this week and one more day the week after that! That’s the most work I’ve had since I went on that delivery job as AB down to Colombia (in August)! I hope it keeps picking up, but right now it looks like this little spurt will be it for a while.

Offshore things still look pretty grim. I did hear of one company hiring, which is great news, but even tho I’ve sent them my resume, I don’t think they’ll even look at it this time around. Looks like they’ve hired a crewing agency to fill their positions and since I’ve already ‘contacted’ them, I won’t be one of the people considered.  Continue reading

Busy Week

Wow! I’m sorry I haven’t been around here for so long. I’ve been occupied with other things all week and just haven’t had time to do much blogging. I’ve been lucky and had a couple days work this week. Tomorrow too. I’ll catch up this weekend.

I promise!

Color Your World: 31 Shadow

Today’s color for Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge is: shadow. Another one I had no idea what it looks like. Here’s a reference in case you want to join the fun. 😉

Here’s my best match.

Got a great match to the river water! I took this photo a few years ago. I was traveling in Thailand and had spent a couple of weeks in Chiang Mai and visiting the ‘Hill Tribes’ around there. I decided to take the ‘slow boats‘ down the Mekong River, at least to Luang Prabang.

I really would have loved to stay there longer. It was a nice little town, lots to do, friendly people, and so relaxed and peaceful. I would have loved to take the boat all the way down the Mekong to the delta, with stops in Vientiane and along the way. I ran out of time and had to fly back to Bangkok.

This picture of the river was from up the hill at Pak-Beng where we stopped for the night. I enjoyed the slow pace of the ride, watching the scenery pass by and the daily activities of the local people. It was interesting to see the turnout at stops we made, to transfer passengers or cargo.

There was an amazing variety of people on the boat. People from all over the world and all walks of life. It made for interesting conversations and a fun trip. I highly recommend it if you have the time. If not, try the long-tail boats. They’re much faster! Just as much an adventure (maybe even more), but maybe not so dry either! 😉

Color Your World: 30 Gold

Today’s color for Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge is: gold! At least I know what that looks like. 😉

Here’s a photo of a golden idol I took a while back at the Buddha’s Tooth Temple in Singapore. I sure miss those days of traveling around while working on the ship. We used to stay for quite a while in the shipyard there. I’m not really sure who or what it’s supposed to be since I’m not really up on the Buddhist (or any other) religion. They did have an awful lot of these statues in their temple, this was one of the larger ones.

Maritime Monday for January 31st 2017: Death in the Gulf Stream

Another weeks worth of fascinating maritime matters from Monkey Fist and gCaptain. This weeks especially interesting articles were about the SS St Louis. In honor of January 27th Holocaust Remembrance Day, there are a couple of great articles (also check it out on Twitter).

It’s especially relevant now because of the ongoing situation in the Middle East and the fleeing ‘refugees’. I have to admit, I am not whole heartedly going to welcome anyone who comes from over there. It’s a matter of their professed religion.

Yeah, I know. People will call me all kinds of nasty names (to my face or behind  my back). I know I really shouldn’t say these kinds of things online. No, they never go away. But I think this all needs to come out in open discussion. No, not just smearing anyone who says this kind of thing as ‘racist’, ‘homophobe’, ‘antisemite’, etc. that just shuts down all attempts at communication. No, not just assuming you’re so much better, so much more enlightened, than someone who would say these kinds of things.

You know, I think one of the main reasons Trump got elected (regardless of how scared people were about his nuttiness, arrogance, temper, etc) was because he spoke his mind and didn’t play around with the mealy-mouthed politically correct crap everybody else has been saddled with for the last couple of decades. I didn’t vote for him, but I sure as hell enjoyed hearing him tell it like he thinks it. We all ought to have freedom of speech, without having to self-censor!

Personally I really don’t like any religion, but I especially don’t like the ones where their greatest objective (according to their holy book) is to kill people like me (unbelievers)! If anyone knows of a fool-proof method to tell who is a devout muslim who wants to follow the koran, and an ordinary person who really doesn’t give a damn about religion but just plays along to get along, please let me know. I’ll pass it on to Trump and maybe we can figure out how to solve the refugee problem.

In the meantime, check out this weeks Maritime Monday, there’s a lot more in there!

more: A Tribute to the “Picasso of Sailing” – Mike Peyton on yachtsandyachting.com Haunting Twitter …

Source: Maritime Monday for January 31st, 2017: Death in the Gulf Stream – gCaptain

Sund’y Funny

Yeah, I do have a sick sense of humor. 😉

Color Your World: 29 Yellow Orange

Today’s color for Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge is: yellow orange. Here’s the reference.

Here’s what I came up with…

I think her dress matches pretty good. I took this photo at a meet up of the Brazoria County Models and Photographers group. The day’s theme was ‘Calaveras’. I always enjoy getting together with them. Especially since I don’t usually take pictures of people. The models like to dress up in different styles and the photographers get to take all the photos they want.

I was really looking forward to the last one scheduled- ‘Dancing in the Streets’. I was interested to see all the different dance costumes the models would choose. Too bad, it was canceled due to a prediction of rain that day. I hope I can make it when it gets rescheduled.

I haven’t been posting directly to Linda’s Just Jot It January for a while now, tho I’m still trying to remember to tag my posts since I’ve still been ‘jotting’ pretty much daily. I just haven’t been using her prompts lately, since I’ve been having fun with Jennifer’s colors. Somehow, even tho I haven’t been working, I still can’t seem to find time to blog as much as I’d like to.

Color Your World: 28 Almond

Today’s color for Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge is: almond. Here’s a reference…

A lot of these colors look alike to me- almond, apricot, peach, desert sand- mango tango and burnt orange- copper and antique brass. Can you tell them apart? I sure have a hard time! Why do they need crayon colors so close together nobody can tell them apart unless they’re studied under a microscope?

I always thought part of the fun of drawing/painting/being creative was learning to blend the colors you had to make the ones you wanted. I’ve been trying to learn to paint lately. I sure as hell don’t want to go buy every color I might need to make a painting come out. That would cost a fortune! I’m learning the color wheel and how the different colors relate to each other.

It’s a challenge to make just the right color to make your painting ‘pop’. It’s fun too. Here’s an example of what I mean. I painted this a few years ago, when I was working as an AB on the tankships running up the West Coast to Alaska. Of course, I didn’t bring any paint with me. I scrounged around in the paint locker til I found what I needed.

I made that whole colorful undersea scene with only a few colors of deck paint. I know I had black, white, signal red, yellow, international orange, green and blue. That was pretty much it.

I must sound like an old geezer, ‘well sonny, back in myyyyy day, we used to color with only 8 colors in the box!’ I actually got the 64 crayon box later when I was growing up, but did I ever use all of those colors- nope. Does anyone use all of the 120 colors this challenge is based on? I think I would have a hard time using up a whole box of crayons myself. 😉

Anyway, here’s my entry for the challenge color of ‘almond’…

I took this photo in November while I was traveling around Turkey. I had a great time wandering all over Istanbul and Cappadocia where I took this photo of one of the many ancient rock churches at Goreme. It was a lot of fun scrambling around amid all this history, seeing how the people lived and worshipped all those years ago. I only regret that they didn’t allow any photography inside (even without flash). I really would have liked to have got a few shots of the beautiful frescos inside. I’ll just have to be satisfied with the internet. 😦

So Cool!

I’ve always loved dolphins and whales. I always wanted to be able to swim freely in the ocean with them. So far, I’ve never been this close to any out in the wild. I’m pretty sure it’s against ‘the rules’ to get so close to them or to touch them like these people were doing. Tho I have to admit, I would have a hard time holding back myself if they came so close. I think they’re beautiful and intelligent creatures. I hate to see how much we’ve destroyed their world, and yet they’re still mostly OK with us. 🙂

Mother Whale and Calf with people on whale watching trip. Very cool to see the Momma raising her Baby to show it the funny looking humans! Like a revers Zoo, were the people out to see the Whales, or was the Momma Whale teaching her baby about humans? The big momma Whale held her baby […]

via Mother Whale Lifting Her Baby to See Humans on Boat — 2012 The Awakening

Color Your World: 24 Peach

Well! The first day in a week where I actually know what color I’m supposed to be looking for! 😉

For Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge, the color today is ‘peach‘.

Here’s my entry…

I took this photo the other day at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I usually try do more than one thing when I go all the way to Houston. I go to a museum or the zoo, or a meeting. I don’t like to drive all the way up there just for an hour or two.

I don’t remember what kind of crystals these were. I usually take a photo of the info card, just so I can look back at it later to jog my memory. They were falling a little behind in their labeling, lots of items didn’t have anything to tell you what they were. I’m pretty sure the big white one is quartz (but not positive), but I don’t remember what the ‘peach’ ones were. Anybody have any ideas?