TAMUG

I went to a job fair this morning up at TAMUG (Texas A&M University at Galveston). They’ve been making a lot of changes since I was there last time. First thing I noticed is that they’ve started charging for parking. It cost me $6 for a couple of hours. 😦

Next was the construction. They’re building a huge new “Academic Complex” right in front as you drive onto campus. There was already a big 3-4 story building that looked pretty complete, but they were still drilling holes behind it. The machine they used looked like a giant vertical corkscrew running up and down through the mud.

The job fair was held in the gym, so I had to walk across most of the campus. I never do see many students. TAMUG always seems deserted to me, especially compared to UT Austin or UST where I went to school. They were always bustling with crowds of students filling the walkways going to classes.

The gym was fairly busy. It was filled with tables of the various employers. There must have been about 25-30 different ‘companies’ represented. Sad to say, not many of them were offering anything for someone like me (older, with a license, who still wants to work at sea).

The Ports were well represented: Ports America, Diversified Port Holdings, Metro Ports all had tables. The shore side support companies were there too: Lone Star Maritime, Dan-Bunkering and Watco Companies are a couple of examples, as well as Kiewit (shipyard, construction, etc). I’ve considered taking a shore side job, but I would have to move and I just can’t justify moving (unless it’s overseas to somewhere cheaper).

The Houston Police Department, the Marines, the Customs & Border Patrol, the Army Corps of Engineers all had tables. I didn’t even bother talking to any of them, I already know I would not be a good fit. 😉

NOAA and MSC both had booths, but neither was actually hiring. For the first time in ages MSC is actually trying to get rid of people (tho they still have 4 month long minimum tours).

Artist Boat, Schlitterbahn, and Moody Gardens looked more interesting. But they were all in Galveston (hour and half drive each way) and really more for summer fill in type jobs. The Peace Corps may actually have something interesting to do, but it’s normally a 2 year commitment and I don’t think I’m up to that at this point. They did mention they have some shorter term programs, I’ll have to look into those. Maybe there’s something there I can do?

A few towing companies were represented (but I don’t have a towing endorsement). I would have to start over as a deckhand. I really don’t want to do that at this point in my life and career. Especially on an inland tow boat! That is some hard, back-breaking work! I am actually getting close to the age at which I’d like to be able to retire and I don’t want to take the chance of a serious injury (old bones don’t heal so fast). 😦

Shell was actually hiring, but they only wanted cadets (so not really hiring). Trident Seafoods was looking for people. But again, they only wanted deckhands. I talked to them for a while and figured it just wasn’t worth even bothering to apply there. I have fishing experience, and on the same type of vessels. But where I worked, we had fish masters. I was never responsible for finding and catching the fish. Trident doesn’t work that way. They want deckhands that they can train (taking years to do so). I don’t figure I have 5-10 years to spend back on deck at this point in my life. 😦

A couple of the maritime officers unions had tables, but none of them were actually hiring either. I talked to the MMP, AMO and MEBA representatives. They were happy to talk about the benefits of their unions, but admitted that things were tight and they really didn’t know how long it might take for an ‘applicant’ to find a job. All except the AMO still only hire out of the union hall too, so you can’t even work part time while you’re waiting to ship out.

I signed up as an applicant at AMO a couple of months ago. So far I’ve had 1 email re: possible job. By the time I responded a couple of hours later, the job was gone. 😦

All in all, the only companies that were actually looking for marine crew to ship out was SeaRiver (who I had worked for in the past and already applied for), HOS (who had a table with some swag, but didn’t even send a rep to talk to), Intermarine (who only hires through Crowley- which only does online applications), and HMS Global Maritime.

So, out of 25-30 companies represented at this particular career fair, there were really only 4 who had anything even remotely resembling the kind of work I’m looking for. Out of those 4, only 2 had representatives at the fair who could talk about the employment prospects at their company. Only 1 had much to say other than “go online and fill out an application”. 😦

That shows how really sad a state our maritime sector is right now. No longer much opportunity at all. I can only hope it comes back to ‘normal’ soon.

Another Busy Week

And not accomplishing much of anything. 😦

I’ve been working on all the usual stuff around here. Still looking for work. Spending hours filling out online applications for any offshore job I happen to see posted. I’ve been talking to one company for a couple of weeks now, but they don’t seem to have any idea of when they might (or might not) need me. It’s very frustrating, but at least they’re still talking to me. That’s more than I’ve had in over 18 months now!

We finished up working on one apartment and got it ready to rent. I thought we had it rented before we even finished working on it, but that fell through. I think it will go pretty quick (I hope so). I’m still waiting for the roofers to fix a leak and the levelers to honor their warranty (good luck!!).

I have one more apartment over there that needs work, but I need to wait til the rents start coming in before I can afford to start on it. It doesn’t look like it needs as much work as the last one, but I never know what I’ll find once I get started. 😦

I had some good friends come down and visit. We pigged out at the Chinese buffet and had a good time catching up on everything.

Other than that, I finished 2 paintings in class on Tuesday. I took them both to Hobby Lobby to get them framed. One of them was finished in time for me to enter it in the People’s Choice show (I’m always amazed at how many really talented people we have around here in this area). The other won’t be ready for at least another week. I think they both turned out OK, but especially with the lighthouse, not really what I was trying to do with them.

I wasn’t quite finished with the lighthouse when I took this photo. I’ll get another when I get it back with the frame.

I went to my usual political meeting Tuesday night. We’ve decided to re-start our project to get the BWA to remove the fluoride from our drinking water. It really doesn’t do anything for your teeth by drinking it. It only helps if you apply it topically (like with toothpaste). It’s really not at all good for you. Yeah, I know, most people will read that and think I’m just another tin foil conspiracy theorist. I think there’s more than enough evidence to show it’s not really necessary for good teeth (or any other reason).

So, I spent some time researching that. I also got a writing assignment for Great Escape Publishing. Whoo-whoo! Another byline!! I really need to find the time to query more publications. But that takes a HUGE amount of time! I was very hopeful when I applied to Big Grey Horse when they said they were looking for Texas writers. I think they would’ve contacted me by now if they were interested. 😦

I’ve been working on my yard the last few days. In between the rain. I’ve got the front yard about 25% finished now. It makes a big difference when I pull all the clematis vines off and put a little mulch out. All my citrus trees are starting to bloom. The grape vines are starting to leaf out. The strawberries are coming back!

Today I took a break and went to the movies. I go to the matinee when it’s cheaper. I wasn’t sure what to watch, either Logan or Get Out. I decided to watch Logan. It was pretty good. One of the X-Men movies. A pretty good action movie featuring Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine fighting the forces of evil in the shape of another mutant (Boyd Holbrook as Pierce).

I don’t want to spoil it, since it really was pretty good, but it’s not all blood and guts. There was actually a pretty good story. I’m sure there will be more sequels down the road. 🙂

Tomorrow is the biggest day of the year around here. St Patrick’s Day Parade at Surfside Beach! I have to get up early so I can get down to the beach in time to check everything out before the judging. Take a look here. Once the parade starts, I’m done with that! Time to wander off to the various parties. 😉

I hope the weather cooperates. It’s calling for 90% chance of rain tomorrow. 😦

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!

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

I Only Thought I Was Too Tired

really feel like spewing out a huge rant right now. I’m so tired I don’t know if it’ll go anywhere, but we’ll see. Fair warning!

I only fell asleep last night about 0130. Had the alarm set for 0330 so I could get up and be sure to have enough time to find my way to safety ‘training’ this morning. They said to be there by 0645, locked out if not there by 0700. I didn’t want to drive all the way up there, just to be locked out. So I made sure I’d get there plenty early.

Anyway. I spent the entire day from 0700-1600 with only a couple of 10 min breaks and a half hour for lunch going over some really basic safety stuff. Things I’ve been in control of for decades. I’ve been the one writing the JSAs, controlling the permits, writing the work procedures, testing the tanks, running the drills, writing the safety manuals, giving the safety training. Things I’ve been in charge of teaching others for decades.

WTF is all that experience completely worthless? I’ve got training certificates out the ring-yang, but not a one of them acceptable. Grrrrr…

These companies take no interest in the fact that their students know more about the subject than their teachers, if you don’t have the specific piece of paper for the specific company, it just doesn’t matter. You’re going to waste more time in ‘training’! (how do you make an ANGRY smiley face?)

Why the hell can’t they standardize their certificates so that you don’t need to get 2 dozen different ones to do the same damn thing! It’s the same offshore. No benefit to anybody except the training centers making a mint off these scams.

It pisses me off to no end to have to repeat this stuff over and over and over and over and over and over and over and especially when I’m not getting paid for it! Even more when I have to waste my money as well as my time. At least they didn’t charge me for it today. 

Or maybe it would’ve been better if they had. I would have immediately refused instead of spending all day today up there and tomorrow too. I wouldn’t be furiously steaming all afternoon about their company policies.

This all ties right in with my post from yesterday. The absolutely insane ideas people in the US have come to believe in the last couple of decades. The huge loss of freedom, individual liberty and human rights. The absolute and complete disrespect for us as individual human beings and our innate dignity.

They did spend about a half hour telling us about their company and allowing us to ask questions. That was useful. I learned a few things. Continue reading

Decisions

I might not be on here for a few days. I’ve got a hard decision to make. I got laid off of work last September (2014). I’m not eligible for any help (unemployment) since my last job was overseas. The offshore oilfield still shows no signs of improvement and probably won’t til the price of oil stabilizes above $60/barrel.

Everything I’ve tried to do to earn money since I’ve been laid off has not worked. No one has been interested enough in buying my beach house to even take a look at it. I haven’t sold one piece of art except a small 4×6 photo for $10. My writing mostly hasn’t been interesting enough to an editor to be worth a reply. None of the jobs I’ve applied to have been interested enough to call me back, except Dominos Pizza for $6 and change/hour.

Beach House- For Sale- Fishermans Delight!

I still work doing the emergency management training if they have a class and if they put me on the schedule. That hasn’t happened since the end of October. Nothing coming up til the last week of January.

I’m really starting to worry about my situation. I’ve managed to save some money, normally enough to last being laid off, but I never thought it would ever take this long to find a job!  My friends tell me to ‘sell some of my stuff’. They don’t realize I’ve been trying to. No one wants to give me a fair price and I’m not willing to just give it away.

The decision I’ve been wrestling with is to take a job as a ‘safety attendant’, working in the plants around here. It’s ‘local’- I’d only have to drive 2-3 hours back and forth every day. My truck is getting to the point where I don’t want to put it through that (1997 F-150). It’s a 12 hour/day job, every day. Until the job ends. Then you’re supposed to be able to collect unemployment til they call you back again at some point. It pays $14/hour.

That would (barely) cover my bills (if I don’t have any time off- no down time for weather, etc). It would mean I’d have zero time for anything at all but eat, sleep, shower, work. For weeks, maybe months on end.

I have to spend all day Wednesday-Thursday in ‘training’ in order to get certified to do this job. Same thing I’ve done for the last 30+ years, but never needed a certificate to do it offshore (yes, it’s amazing that they don’t require it too, but actually let us do a simple job without spending hours in a ‘training facility’ on the beach!). They give us the same training, they just call it something else at every company. This place doesn’t even pay for the training.

I’m thinking I should at least go to the training. Maybe I can find out more about the actual conditions of this particular job from others there?

The other choice is: to just give up. To quit ‘working’ altogether. Forget about trying to keep my documents current. Forget about looking for work. Stop spending hours filling out online applications for jobs that don’t exist and just chill. Relax and work on my art. 🙂

an example of my art- star fish in pastels

Spend that time figuring out how to get the hell out of this ratrace and find somewhere that I can afford to live with no job. From previous travel and research, I know already that almost everywhere is cheaper than the US. My only real concern is how long can I make it without any income from work at all? I’m (only) 55. A very, very long way from being able to collect on social security (if it’s even still there).

If things were like they were when I started this career, it wouldn’t be an issue. I could take off for a couple of years and when I was ready, just  jump right back in to work. That’s not possible any more.

When I was taking my walk tonight, I figured the absolute minimum I would need to just keep my license current would be $10,000 and 5 weeks of time! We have to re-take a hell of a lot of ‘training’ now and it seems they require more of it every year. That’s really a very, very low estimate.

So, if I do decide to quit. I won’t be able to come back. Ever.

hate the thought of that. I LOVE what I do! I’ve spent almost my entire life at sea and I don’t want to leave it. I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars to get my license. I hate the thought of just throwing all that away.

It gives me chills even to think of giving it up forever. I really don’t know what to do. I’ve been in this limbo for months now. I can’t concentrate on trying to make a living with my art (writing/photography/painting) since I’m distracted all the time trying to look for ‘a real job’. I think I might quit for a while, but then I remember theres no coming back if I do.

This really sucks!

I keep hoping that someone will come through with a real job for me! A job where I can do what I’ve been trained to do already! A job that I’m good at. A job that I actually LIKE!

I’ll call them all again tomorrow, see if there’s any hope at all. Keeping my fingers crossed.

one of my favorite paintings- I did this on the ship using deck paint!

Another Week at Home

It’s getting harder and harder to motivate myself. If you’re wondering where I’ve been lately, why I haven’t been posting much. I really just haven’t felt like doing anything. It’s getting really hard to make myself do anything that I don’t feel like I ‘have’ to. 😦

It’s not like I’ve just been lying on the couch watching the boob tube. I have been out and about. I went to visit a good friend on Monday, spent the afternoon and evening over there. I brought over a Cottage pie (with hamburger) and we had dinner together.

She’s also been having some computer issues, but we actually managed to fix hers (it was only the printer). Mine are still not working right which makes it even harder to try and do anything online. 😦

I also got around to applying to Dominos as a delivery driver. They called me Tuesday morning while I was at work up in Houston to come in for an interview.

So, Tuesday was pretty busy. I had to get up at 0430 to get to work on time. Afterwards I met another friend for lunch (great big plate of Chinese food). Got home just in time to go to the weekly political meeting at the Italian place (we moved from the Greek place cause it went out of business).

Yeah, I overdid it on the meal plan Tuesday. 😉

Wednesday I had an interview at Domino’s to be a pizza delivery driver. I’ve been a good customer of theirs for years, but never thought I might wind up on the other side. I don’t know yet if they’re going to hire me, but it sounded like they might.

I got home in time to sign on to the teach English webinar. I try to listen in every week. I’m still hoping to do some teaching as soon as I can take care of all my Coast Guard license stuff this fall. I’m really getting frustrated with the situation here.

I’d like to go use that TEFL certificate I earned back in February, but since I have to be back here by September, I don’t think it’s practical for me to even try. So, I hang out here at the house and wait. I spend a lot of time doing online applications. Many of them for companies that are just trying to ‘prove’ there are no Americans to do the work so they can get a waiver and hire cheap foreigners. Those places never respond in any way, they’re just scams.

I spent most of the day yesterday on that kind of thing. Filling out online applications (they all take so long!)- and then went up to Houston for another ‘networking event’. For some reason, I was not getting a good vibe there and left early. It was pretty much a waste of time going all the way up to Houston for that, but there really isn’t anything down here in any way related to my previous experience, so I go to those things any time I think there might be even the slightest possibility of meeting someone that could help me find some sort of work.

Today is the first day all week that things have sorted out, I have some time and I’m not falling asleep sitting here on the couch. 🙂

I went out this evening to the reception at the Art League gallery. They’ve opened a new show: Art Through the Ages. Some of that stuff was REALLY good! I especially loved the Klimt, but then I’ve always loved his work. Check this out…

 

I liked it so much, I even made a bid on it. The group projects are all for sale by silent auction. 🙂

PS- those photos are not mine, I took them from the internet

A Bird in the Hand

Is worth two in the bush.

I should have thought about that little rhyme a little bit more last week.

I had 2 prospective jobs last week. There’s the catch- “prospective’. Not actual. 😦

I thought I was a shoe-in for both. I turned down one for the other that paid better. Lost out on both of them.

So, now I have nothing again.

I’m so disappointed.

I’m so frustrated

I’m so worried.

I’m so sad.

I’m so confused.

What should I do? What can I do? I want to just say the hell with it all and go away somewhere. I want to stop wasting my life here, hanging around trying to find work when there just isn’t any! I want to go spend some time somewhere where I can be happy, where I can do something useful, where I can have some fun, where I can learn new things, meet new people, try something different.

All I think of when I think of those things, is: how can I afford to leave? And to come back in time to renew everything I need to in order to keep my license? I need that license if I ever want to go back to sea again. If I don’t renew it in December, it’ll be like I’ve never stepped foot on a boat in my life, and I’d have just wasted 50 years of experience on the water! I DON’T want that to happen!

Actually, I’m starting to regret choosing this career. It’s mostly been good, it’s given me plenty of opportunities where I really enjoyed my job, plus plenty of time off and enough money to enjoy it. But, after all the years, after all the effort, after all the sacrifices I’ve made in order to keep working offshore- all it takes is the price of oil to drop and it’s over.

I’ve been out of work over 6 months already and there’s no telling when I’ll get back out there. IF I don’t manage to get enough sea time to renew next time, that’ll be it. It’s over! The way it’s going, the way the pundits are predicting, it might be years before the price of oil goes up, high enough for them to start hiring again.

There’s a lot more to it than just the price of oil. Mostly to do with the US Coast Guard and the IMO. That’s a whole other subject and enough for a book! All the things they’ve done to ruin this profession!

It’s an argument I’m having more and more often with myself. Keep trying, don’t give up til there is no hope of keeping that license? Knowing how much more time, effort, money and lost opportunities to LIVE LIFE? Or, give it up for good? Find some other way to support myself? Even the thought of that almost makes me cry. 😦

And what else could I possibly do? I have no idea. I’ve been trying for over 3 years to earn some income from this blog. So far I haven’t earned even one cent. I’ve been trying to earn income from my art- painting and photography. In over 3 years, I’ve earned a grand total of $5.33. I’ve tried to earn income from writing. That’s been my big earner so far. I’ve earned $250!

So- what else is there?

I’ve invested in property. I have recently started to just about break even. That is only if there are no major repairs to be made. There’s always something that comes up so I lose money every year. Only ONE of my properties is worth selling. The rest of them will lose me a LOT of money if I try to sell them (due to major structural damage that has occurred since I bought them). I put that ONE property up for sale to help tide me over this period of unemployment, but haven’t had ONE offer since it was listed. Sure, I could lower the asking price, but then I would lose out on what I’ve spent on improving that one too! The rent from that house is all that’s keeping me above water, I’ve basically had NO other income this year! My last job was for a foreign company, so I’m not eligible for unemployment pay. So, after 40+ years of paying into the system, I get NO help when I need it myself.

So. What else is there? I’m trained to be a mariner. That’s it. I have no other papers (except a Math degree which has been totally useless so far). It seems pretty much all the decent jobs out there require some kind of certificate (at minimum) now. Do I have the time and money to spend to get one? NO. I will jump ship the 1st time they call me to go offshore!

Same goes for working a shore side job like McDonalds or Walmarts. I have applied there. I figured they must have a pretty high turnover, so I don’t feel bad about quitting if I get a call to go offshore. Problem is, even those jobs are not calling. They’ve all told me they won’t even start hiring til August.

I haven’t felt this bad in a long time.

What to do, what to do…

Nibbles

I’ve had a couple of nibbles in the last couple of days. Nothing positive yet, but I may be able to go to work soon. This is really the first time I’ve heard anything about offshore work since I was laid off. I’m hoping to get something definite out of them tomorrow.

It’s a huge pay cut, but it’s better than nothing. Not even having unemployment money coming in is really killing my finances! My job in Houston is down to 2-3 days/month. I just hope the work actually happens this time!

The price of oil has almost doubled since the first of the year, but it’s still not economic for the offshore drillers to start up again. So, no real work for me til that happens.  I know most people are hoping the gas prices stay low, but I can’t wait for them to get up there to around $80. That should be a nice happy medium. Get us all back to work and not cost too much at the pump.

Did I Pass?

I had to take a math test this afternoon. I applied for a job at Mathnasium and that’s part of the process. They want to make sure you know what you’re doing before they turn you loose to tutor their clients. 😉

I think I might have failed it. I should have studied. I think I did OK on the algebra, but I forgot a lot of the formulas for geometry (area of a circle, triangle, etc). I never was good at word problems either.I haven’t done any math like that since I graduated college (2000). 😦

I’m interested to hear what my scores are. The job probably won’t start til August, and I’m REALLY hoping to get a ‘real’ job (offshore) by then. It’ll still be a good part time gig anyway.

Lost Out…

…on work today (again). I was scheduled to work, but since we finished the training early yesterday, they called it off. So, I’ll have a grand total of 2 days of work for June. 😦

I counted it up last night. I’ll have a total of 16 days of paid work since the 1st of January this year. 😦

I’ve put off applying to local jobs since I’ve been spending so much time trying to find something in my field. A ‘real’ job. Job-hunting IS a full time job! Also been trying to find ways to earn money from my writing and photography (and this blog). Check out my photography for sale at Society6- or if you see any you like here on my blog, just send me a message. All my photos are for sale. Here are a few examples…

Yesterday I started filling out applications for local convenience stores (they do pay more than minimum wage).

It’s sucks, that someone with 2 college degrees (AAS in Ocean Marine Technology and BA in Mathematics) and over 20 years of experience can’t find  anything but entry level employment. 😦

Sucks even worse that the only jobs I’ve seen for offshore are offering $60/day for CHIEF MATES! Now that, that is disgusting! Even worse, some are offering ‘jobs‘ for ‘trainee DPOs’ where the prospective DPO has to pay a few thousand dollars per month for the ‘privilege’ of spending time offshore!

This is for people who have college degrees and enough experience to earn a license! This is NOT any kind of entry level position. But these yahoos, these despicable people who run these predatory companies can get away with treating people like shit because of the situation offshore right now- the low price of oil and all the layoffs because of it. They take advantage of our desperation and fear of losing our ability to EVER return to the work we love (because of new licensing regulations) and they laugh all the way to the bank!

I have a pre employment test scheduled for Friday afternoon for a local tutoring job. At this point, I have to hope I get it. I don’t know if I can survive on only 2 days of paid work/month. I have to find something else to do. 😦

Maybe something like that will help pay the bills and if I only get part time I can still work in Houston and have enough time to keep hunting a ‘real’ job.

Oil prices are going up, but still a LONG way from getting back to work offshore again. This is really hurting a lot of people all over the country (and the world). All I can do is hope, I’m doing all I can.

Looking Forward to Monday Morning!

Who’s looking forward to Monday morning?

I am!

Thank god I’m going to work tomorrow morning! I’m scheduled for a grand total of 3 days of work this month and hope to hell I get all 3!

I’m not eligible for any unemployment assistance, even tho I’ve paid into it for over 40 years. Now, when I really need it, I can’t get it, simply because my last job was with a foreign company (for a year and a half). A job I took mostly in order to get ‘insurance’ which is now mandatory according to ‘Obamacare’.

So, now that I’m laid off, I can’t qualify for any of the programs I’ve been supporting for over 40 years. And people wonder why so many Americans are pissed off?!

So, I’m very thankful I can get ANY work at this point. It’s not much, but it’ll pay the gas to get to and fro, it might even take care of the electric bill (tho it’s summertime now and I seriously doubt that- AC running 24/7!).

I know most people are happy to see the gas prices so low (not nearly as low as they should be), but since my job is tied to the price of oil, I’ve been wishing it higher for months now. It’s been creeping up slowly, and I’ve heard that some land rigs have been starting up again.

Offshore drilling needs a stable price and it needs to be higher than where it is now. I’d guess around $80/bbl would start work up again. I’ve been working in the offshore oilfields for the last few years. Simply because that’s where all the work was.

I’ve been trying to find work on ANY kind of vessel since I’ve been laid off, but all the available openings have already been taken by people laid off before I was. It doesn’t help at all that the US Coast Guard keeps restricting our licenses so that we can only work on very specific types of vessels.

Basically, the rules we have to work by now state that if you don’t have so much time on 1 type within the last 5 years, you can’t work on that type of vessel any more, ever. At least not until you go through a time consuming, expensive, ‘training’ rigamarole. They treat you like you’ve never been on a boat a day in your life before! It doesn’t matter at all if you’ve previously spent 20+ years on one type of boat, say a towboat, and then you went fishing for 5 years. Doesn’t matter, you start from scratch to go back on a towboat!

Companies just refuse to hire you if you don’t have the exact, specific, ‘training’ and certificates they insist on. Even tho it would take less than a week of time onboard to re-qualify. Nope, they won’t let you on til you have it already. Catch-22 in action.

My original license said “Freight & Towing”. Since I haven’t worked on a towboat in the last 5 years, my license now says “Steam & Motor” and I’m not qualified to work on a towboat. Not until I get a TOAR. That takes a minimum of 30 days onboard a towing vessel. There is VERY little in that assessment that a licensed mariner isn’t already completely proficient in. The only items are those specific to a tug and tow (about 10 things on the list).

All the towing companies I’ve talked to since I’ve been laid off want me to spend at least 2-3 YEARS on deck before even considering upgrading me to tankerman (I job which I previously worked for over 13 yrs). I need 2 transfers to get back that license (tankerman PIC), but without it, I can’t get onboard a vessel to get those 2 transfers. See what I mean?

Smaller and smaller boxes we’re shoved into. Is it any wonder they’re having a hard time finding qualified mariners? (They say this, yet hundreds of thousands of us looking for work around the world).

What a paradox!

All I know at this point is that I’m very happy to be going to work in the morning for a change.

Anybody else been out of work for a long time? How did you survive it?

Busy Tuesdays

Tuesdays are always the busiest days of the week for me. Today was no exception. I woke up early (0430). I had to leave the house by 0530 to get to the training center on time. It’s all the way up in NW Houston, it takes me about an hour and a half if there’s traffic.

I spent the morning role playing for one of the training sessions. We have more and more of these required courses every year. This one was to assess how the trainee would handle emergency situations at work.

As a role player, I act the part of one of the bridge team. Today my job was to keep track of what was done as things progressed. I had to make note of the times certain things were done, for example: what time did the incident start, what time did they call for muster, was anybody missing, who, was help called, when, were the fire pumps started, etc.

It’s actually a pretty interesting ‘job’. I enjoy it. It will definitely help me when it’s my turn to take the class.

I stopped on the way home to get rid of some of my books at the Half Price Books store. Hard to believe, but they only offered me $6 for 9 (very good condition and great to read) books! I took 2 of them back after that. I’ll donate them to the library.

I got home in time to make a few phone calls (check to see if any news on the job that was supposed to start on March 4th, figure out why the pharmacy gave me the wrong prescription yesterday, call and message about another possible job). No satisfaction on any of them, I’ll have to try again tomorrow.

I went for my daily walk. The weather is still really nice and cool. I wish it lasted longer. We’re supposed to have another cold front come through tomorrow so it might last a few days more. 🙂

I checked out my plants. My lemon tree is blooming like crazy and is already making tiny little lemons. A bunch of them got blown off in the wind today. The lime tree didn’t have so much damage, but it’s right up next to the house. I’ve got 4-5 strawberries that look like they’ll be ready for picking in a few more days. I’ll have to keep a close eye out to get them before the birds do.

Came in and tried to check my email, in between the internet dropping off every few minutes. Nothing too important in the mail (nothing about work).

Off to the weekly Campaign for Liberty meeting for our usual political discussion. Last week we had a new guy show up. He had some interesting things to say. He sounded pretty hard core socialist to me, but we did agree on a lot of things (corporations have too much power, GMO labeling, fiat money, sky high debt levels). I have to admire him for sticking around for the entire meeting and holding his own when everybody else was on the opposite side on a lot of issues. Sorry to say, he didn’t come back tonight. 😦

Too bad. We really need to work together to find a way to fix what’s wrong. We really all do agree on a lot of issues but it seems like we just can never focus on that. We always wind up fighting over the few little things we disagree on. We’ll never win the real fight if we can’t figure out that we should not be fighting each other, we need to concentrate on the real enemy.

We’re going to try again to get the word out about our weekly meetings and to inform people about some of the concerns we have. It’s hard. We’re still a very small group and everybody is always so busy. Nobody really has any time to concentrate on this stuff and we have a lot of things we’re involved in (community garden, radios, GMOs, etc).

I promised to make a Facebook page. I hope I can remember how to do that. 😉

I hope to heck I’ll be at work next Tuesday! If not, I’ll go to painting class instead of role playing, they don’t have anything else scheduled up there til April 11th. I hope I don’t have to wait that long to go to work again.

Home For Now

I made it home OK Sunday. I was too tired to do anything but pass out. Monday morning I spent all day in Houston, mostly waiting around, to complete my UKOG physical so I could go to work. That was supposed to happen tonight.

It didn’t. 😦

Limbo 2

Have you ever felt like you were in limbo? I rarely have. But I am feeling like that right now. I hate it!

I’ve always been one to have a goal. To have something, at least in the back of my mind, to work towards.

Up until fairly recently, that goal was to become ‘a ships captain and sail around the world (and get paid for it)’. I FINALLY achieved that goal in December of 2011. I earned my Master AGT (any gross tons) from the US Coast Guard. I was so happy, so thrilled, so stunned, to have FINALLY earned what I had worked so long and so hard for.

But, since then, I have been a little bit lost. I had been trying so long and so hard to reach that goal, that I hadn’t really figured out ‘what next?’

I’m still in that phase. Trying to figure out ‘what now?’. I was OK with that until I got laid off. Having work always kept me occupied. I never had to think about what was next. Working, and then busy as hell when I was home. I was able to travel, take courses, work on projects, etc. All because I knew I only had a month or so at home to get everything done that I needed to do.

Now, I am out of work (with no access to unemployment pay due to foreign employment over the last year). There is NO work in my field. I doubt there will be any until the price of oil goes back up to at least $70-80 per barrel. Hundreds of thousands of people have been laid off already in the oilfield and there are still more layoffs in the news every day. 😦

According to the people who think they know about this kind of thing, it could take another 2-3 years for the price to go back up to the point companies start hiring again. Some ‘experts’ think oil could go back up to $100 next year. Some people think it never will due to alternative energy increasing in efficiency and affordability (I think it will be decades before that happens).

So, I am in limbo. I am HOPING to get some work over the holidays (one trip now would give me 2-4 months leeway to find something else). All of my usual sources have dried up. I have ONE recruiter still telling me he’s got something coming up, but nothing definite yet. Christmas is less than a week away. I’m losing hope, but still not ready to throw in the towel yet.

So….. what am I going to do?

I WISH I could just say the hell with it all and ‘retire’! I WISH. But, if I plan to live more than 10 years, then I just can’t see how I could possibly survive for any time past that. Those 10 years would have to be spent living somewhere with a MUCH lower cost of living then the USA. I’m not objecting to that at all, in fact I would LOVE to move NOW to one of those places. The problem with that is that they won’t let me until I’m retired and/or have a ton of money!

Since I don’t know how long I might live, and hopefully it’ll be more than 10 years, I need to figure out some OTHER way to earn a living. I have all kinds of ideas. I’ve already tried a few: vending machines, rental property, investing in the stock market, painting, writing, photography, blogging. Not one of them has made anywhere near enough money for me to consider concentrating on just that one. The rental property comes close, but I’m still at the point where I need to subsidize them with regular work. 😦

I found a temporary job ashore through an old friend. It pays about 1/5 of what I normally make. It’s not every day. It won’t start up again til the end of January. It won’t pay the bills. But it pays 2-3 times more than any OTHER job I’m likely to find here. It helps.

I’m considering taking the TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) course. No, it won’t be enough to pay the bills either, but at least it will allow me to move somewhere less expensive to live. I think I might actually enjoy teaching and it might turn into something really interesting. The biggest problem with that is my fear/expectation that I would have to dress/act in a ‘professional manner’. UGH! I hate the thought of that!

So, while I sit around the house, hoping to get a call for a ‘real’ job, I try to work on my other (hopefully someday money-earning) projects. My writing, photography, blogging. Problem with that is I’m getting so depressed with the situation around here that I don’t feel like doing ANYTHING.

All the things I’d normally be doing in my time off, like sailing, going out to see friends, going to the zoo, going to do things in Houston, traveling, are either too expensive or I put them off cause I just don’t feel like getting out of the house. I’m getting super lazy, doing less and less every day. I didn’t even take my daily walk yesterday (I did today).

I really hate being in this situation, this limbo. If I knew for sure I could get regular work, and when, I could make some kind of decision. Knowing I would be leaving soon would motivate me to get off my ass and get some of these projects around the house done.

If I knew for sure there was no work (not still hoping to get some), I might decide to take the enforced time off to take the TEFL course. Or just take the time to concentrate on fixing this blog (the total disaster of moving it still needs to be fixed). Or work on photography. Or writing. Or painting.

Or, I might look harder at some of those sailboats looking for crew. That would be a cool adventure! I only wish they paid something, but there are always so many people out there willing to go for just the experience, or even to pay themselves! I know I would make a good crew on any passage. Too bad I don’t have the money now to put in for costs, or pay for transportation. 😦

So, limbo. I wish I knew something to do to motivate myself (other than having a job pop up).