Blogging

I haven’t been paying as much attention to my blogging as I would like lately. Since I went on that delivery trip to Colombia and was totally cut off from the world (no internet), it seems like I’ve just been trying to catch up.

I haven’t been doing much that would explain my absence. I’ve only had a total of 5 days work (whoo-hoo!). I went to a Nautical Institute seminar and then left for a travel writing workshop in New Orleans for a week. That was fun but kept me super busy.

When I got back I had a room mate move in, so trying to get used to having someone new in the house. I finished my taxes (finally) or at least enough to get them to my accountant before the deadline this coming week. And I finished with everything I needed to do to give my license renewal application to the Coast Guard.

Along with all that crap I pretty much had to do, I also managed to do a few fun things I wanted to do. I got to go out for the last of the Rum Races with Captain Vic on the Laz. I made it to a couple of Campaign for Liberty (political) meet ups. I started painting class again. Went to the inaugural Sail La Vie Dive Bar tour (looking forward to the next one).

Went to see Snowdon last week and the Deepwater Horizon movie Friday (both were good, the DWH was intense!).

I’ve been off the Buzcador for about 6 weeks now. I still haven’t caught up with everything I was cut off from when I went out there for 3 weeks with no internet! I’ve been spending a minimum of 2 hours/day online (usually much more) and still can’t make any progress.

I feel like I should apologize, that I haven’t been spending much time blogging, but I just don’t feel like spending anymore time online. It’s getting to be a real drag.

I’d much prefer to spend my online time blogging and writing, but I’ve been spending it catching up on ‘important’ emails, looking for work and filling out ridiculously long and repetitive online applications (that have nothing to do with the job I’m applying for).

I’m getting to the point where I’m trying to decide should I just say ‘the hell with it all’ and ‘retire’?

Even tho I have no where near enough money saved up to support myself for the (hopefully) 30+ years I’ll have left. Do that, move to somewhere cheap like Mexico and work on my writing, photography, and painting? In hope that somehow I’ll be able to survive?

Maybe one of these days I’ll figure out how to ‘monetize’ my blog. Or someone will like one of my photographs or paintings enough to buy one (for more than a quarter!). Or maybe my book will become a best seller?

Or give up on doing anything with my life, suck it up and take some soul-sucking minimum wage job at McDonalds or Walmart?

I think I don’t really have much of a choice at this point. There’s nothing I can do about the price of oil, so not a thing I can do to go back to a decent job, a job that I care anything about. I’ve already applied to every maritime company in the USA, most of them more than once. Plenty of overseas companies too.

I think, for the sake of my sanity, I’m going to have to ‘retire’.

But I don’t want to. 😦

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New Orleans Was A Trip!

I just got home from New Orleans. What a trip! I got in around midnight last Thursday (after  attending the Nautical Institute seminar). Friday morning the workshop started bright and early 8 AM. I’m not a morning person.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday was spent 8-5 in the travel writing workshop I was there for. Monday addition on ‘Social Media’. My brain was spinning by then and ready for some down time.

Tuesday, I slept in and was able to spend the day around New Orleans gathering information for my planned writing projects. I had researched beforehand and thanks to Mike at Hospitality21 and Christine at the New Orleans CVB, I was comped tickets to a couple of wonderful New Orleans attractions.

Everyone I talked to about the World War II Museum raved about how good it was. I had been wanting to go for a couple of years. I spent all afternoon there and still didn’t get the complete experience (I missed the movie and show- I’ll have to go back for that).

I made it to the Steamboat Natchez just in time for departure. A really nice way to spend the evening. A jazz dinner cruise on the Mississippi River. You could imagine yourself back in the day of Tom Sawyer if you ignored all the people taking ‘selfies’.

I had a late flight out on Wednesday, so spent the morning wandering around the French Quarter: walking down Royal Street, checking out the antique shops, looking at the artists working along Pirates Alley and Jackson Square, breakfast (brunch) at Monty’s, listening to jazz at Latrobe Park, timidly tasting a couple selections at the Pepper Palace, wandering through the French Market, and then taking the Riverfront streetcar back up to Canal Street.

I spent the last couple hours wasting my time (and my money) at Harrah’s Casino and before I knew it, it was time to head back to the hotel to catch my ride to the airport. I guess it’s a good thing they don’t allow smoking anymore, I might have missed my plane if I hadn’t needed a smoke!

More later, as I get my photos uploaded. 🙂

Galatoire’s 33

Looking for a nearby place for lunch today, we wandered into this place after a couple of false starts. One of the ladies from the travel writing workshop was specifically looking for Galatoire’s and so we figured we would go ahead and try it out. It’s right around the corner from our hotel, at 209 Bourbon Street. Only took about 5 minutes to walk.

It’s definitely not my usual kind of place. I’m not one to enjoy spending big bucks on food and drinks. In fact, I much prefer the opposite end of the price scale. My favorite place to eat out at home is Chinatown where the all you can eat buffet is less than $15 including drink and tip!

I figured I might as well go ahead and try it since it really was a super deal. Looking at the normal prices where a ribeye goes for $44 and side of onion rings is $7, the fact that the entire lunch cost only $20 today was enough to convince me to give it a try.

The other ladies I was with both really enjoyed their meals. I’m not much for seafood (or creole/cajun either) so I was pretty much out of luck for the special. I sure wasn’t going to choose anything off the regular menu tho I definitely prefer steak over fish any day! I decided to try the ‘broiled drum casino’ in the spirit of exploration as a travel writer. 😉

The appetizer was ‘roasted beet risotto’. It was really very good. Not what I was expecting, but nice. It tasted more cheesy than anything else to me (might have been the truffle oil). I really couldn’t taste any beets at all.

The fish was very well done as well. I really liked the sauce. It was creamy and cheesy also. It tasted smokey and salty from the bacon. Very nice. The drum was cooked just right and tasted nice and fresh. I’m sure if I liked fish better, I would have just loved it. I did enjoy the broccoli. 🙂

I chose the Bananas Fosters Cobbler for dessert, it was excellent. Too bad by that time we were in a real rush to get back to the hotel before the next session started.

It’s not my kind of place, but I would recommend it if you’re out to impress. The service was excellent and so was the food. I thought the prices were sky high, but not out of line with similar restaurants.

Back In New Orleans

Whew! It’s been a hectic couple of days. I actually got to work Monday-Tuesday this week. Was supposed to have Wednesday too, but the students finished up early and so no role players were needed. Sucks!! I really could’ve used that extra day of pay.

But, I put the extra time to good use. I’ve been trying hard to get my taxes to the accountant before leaving for this weeklong trip. I managed to get a few things sorted out and dropped off a package for her on the way to Houston this morning.

I made it just in time for the seminar the Nautical Institute was putting on at the WGMA facility (near the ship channel). They had a pretty good turnout. I was happy to see a few old friends there and had a chance to catch up a little bit. Might even turn into a bit more work for me.

They had 5 different presentations. Everything from how the new DP scheme worked to how the new regulations for low sulfur fuel affected ship handling, to a historical perspective re: shipping and refugees, a very interesting slideshow on the newly opened Panama Canal expansion, to testing life saving equipment in the Arctic (I certainly would NOT want to have to try using any of it up there)! It was really very interesting. Especially the part about polar bears and walrus. 😉

I left the seminar at 5:00 and of course got stuck in traffic. It wasn’t too bad yet and I made it to Hobby in plenty of time for my flight. Actually, I tried to get an earlier flight. I had plenty of time for it, but they would have charged me 3 times what I already paid to get the earlier flight. WOW!

I did not take the earlier flight. What the hell!? Why in the world do they do that sort of thing? It doesn’t cost them a single damn cent to put somebody on a different flight, but they all want to make like it’s some huge big deal and just gouge the hell out of you! All it does is ruin their customer satisfaction. Anybody out there work for the airlines have another reason for this other than that they do it because they can get away with it?

I just checked into my hotel. It was a pretty quick ride from the airport. It only took about a half hour. I took the shuttle ($36 round trip). Usually it takes much longer, it seems I’m always the last one they drop off.

I’m too tired to do much tonight. I arrived here after midnight so all I did was check out the room and go out for a cigarette (no smoking hotel). I was hoping for a room with a view, but no such luck. I’m right next to the elevators, convenient but noisy, and I’m looking at a wall about 20 ft away and down into a garage ($42 for parking- wow- gouging again). 😦

Looks like I got real lucky to get a room at all. Even in the short time I was down in the lobby, I heard 2 people that had reservations but the hotel had no more rooms. They were pissed (and I don’t blame them one bit)!

I’m so excited to finally be here! Looking forward to starting the travel writing workshop in the morning. It’s going to be a very full weekend. We’ll be in the workshop from 8-5 every day and then (of course) going out to explore at night.

I’ve already missed tonights bourbon tasting set up by a few people on the group Facebook page. That’s probably not something I really needed to do anyway. I’ve got plenty of plans for later, once I get a little sleep. 🙂

A to Z: Korea

Korea is a very interesting place. I spent about a month there right around this time last year. My excuse for going was to attend the travel writing and photography workshop in Seoul put on by GEP.

I wanted to do some exploration before and after the workshop, so I flew in early and spent some time in Incheon. I went to Jayu Park, Wolmi Island, the fish markets.

I always got a kick out of the locals wanting to take their picture with me. Turn around is fair play, I’m usually taking plenty of pictures of the locals. They loved it. 😉

I took the train down to Okpo, on Geoje Island. I was hoping to visit an old friend I used to work with. He still worked for the same company but they had been keeping him in Korea for 2-3 years. I wanted to try to find something similar myself. Turns out he was out of town, but I had a good time exploring around town and talking to some of the other expats there.

I made my way back up to Busan. I met an online friend through a meetup group and we met for dinner. She showed me around town and even to tour her ship at the Maritime Academy. I got to meet some of the students and was very impressed with their organization there.

I used to work as a captain of a tuna boat and it turns out the company we worked for had their home office right around the corner from where I was staying. I tried to meetup with some of the guys I used to work for, but they were pretty busy and we never did make it happen. I spent my time in Busan wandering around taking pictures of the harbor, the markets, the parks.

The train back to Seoul was clean, efficient and cheap. I was ready to meet my fellow travel writers the next day.

I had a blast wandering around the city with the group. We were there for the Lotus Lantern Festival and the photos we got were great! We went to the old castle, to a talk about tea, on a food tour, we even got to go visit the tunnels to North Korea!

Seoul Korea for the travel writing workshop

Seoul Korea for the travel writing workshop

I really didn’t want to leave, there was still so much to see and do. The people were so friendly and helpful, most spoke at least some English so I had no real problems with communication or finding my way around. The scenery was gorgeous! Very green, with a rocky mountainous coastline. Everything was very clean and well maintained. The food was fresh, healthy and cheap (and plenty of it). It was easy to get around and really pretty affordable (I stayed in local hotels not the fancy ones for foreigners). I would love a chance to go back again. 🙂

*Another post for the A to Z Challenge. 🙂

Capt Jills Year In Review

I got that cool ‘Year in Review’ email from WordPress about my blog. I see in my reader that a lot of other people are posting about how their blogs did through the year. I’ll probably make a post like that too. I thought it might be a good idea to post a review about some of the things I did this last year and what I’m hoping to do next year.

I got off the DS-5 Jan 9 and had a couple of weeks at home. As usual, I spent most of my time at home catching up with paperwork and projects around the house. I also had to take care of some medical things.

I had recently signed up as an ‘energy consultant’ with Ambit Energy (I’m always trying to find SOME way to earn a living without having to spend time at work), so I went for some training in Houston with my friend and sponsor. I still haven’t managed to actually sign anybody up myself yet (I don’t know many people who live in Texas that I can talk to about it and I usually forget to bring it up til it’s too late). Contact me if you’re in Texas and want to save on your electric bill! 😉

Ensco DS-5 (ex: Deep Ocean Mendocino)

Ensco DS-5 (ex: Deep Ocean Mendocino)

I got to relax a little bit and visit with some friends but then it was time to get ready to go back to work. I left for the DS-3 on Jan 29. I got off there earlier than planned (more on that in another post later) and got to go home for 1 night. Left the next day to join the Ocean Alliance.

Ocean Alliance

Ocean Alliance

That was nice. I got to see a lot of old friends from when I used to work direct for Oceaneering on the Performer. I wrote a little bit about that hitch earlier. I really loved that job and the people there. I wish they would have kept us all overseas. We really were like one big happy family.

When I got off, I had almost 3 weeks at home. I made good use of it. Besides the usual catching up on paperwork and household issues (restock groceries, pay bills, fix sink, fix toilet, etc.), I got to go to a few interesting events. Other than my usual Tuesday night Campaign for Liberty meetings,  I went to a Sail La Vie meeting and then went out sailing with them the next weekend. I made it to the Houston Rodeo. I found the Houston Maritime Museum the next morning. It’s small, but definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

We dealt with the rain at Surfsides St Patricks’ Day Parade. Everybody got soaked but we all had a good time anyway. Plenty of green beer and Irish whiskey helped out with that! Texas A & M in Galveston had a WISTA meeting where they had a nice presentation and the cadets were full of questions about working with DP. I stayed in Galveston overnight and went to Moody Gardens before heading home the next day.

I was aboard the Deepwater Pathfinder March 26th- April 7th. Then home a few days to get ready for my trip to Korea for another travel writing and photography workshop (with GEP).

That was a fantastic trip! I met so many wonderful, interesting people. In the workshop and before, when I was wandering around on my own from Incheon to Busan to Geoji to Seoul. The only thing that could have improved the trip was if the Sewol disaster had never happened. It was a very sad time for everyone in Korea.

I got home from Korea May 15th and immediately started getting ready to go to work for Ocean Rig. I really preferred working for the agencies as I had been for the last few years, but with Obamacare fixin’ to screw me royally if I didn’t bow down and buy into that humongous scam, I had to suck it up and take a regular job. I’m still not sure I did the right thing. I just hope I can find a way to move out of the US SOON, so I can escape that trap!

Anyway, I got put on the payroll May 26th and then started running around with more errands for work. I had to do some things before they’d allow me to actually go to work for them. Shots, paperwork, photos, more paperwork, etc.

They sent me to the Basic Safety Training course (again!!- I’ve been certified to teach that course) and wouldn’t listen at all when I told them it was NOT required and they were wasting their money and my time. Since I hadn’t even stepped aboard one of their ships yet, I figured I had better just suck it up and go to the class AGAIN. USELESS! AS ALWAYS!!

A total waste of their money and my time, just as expected. But, I figured I should at least give them a TRY before I quit. So, I had to suffer through one MORE class that I’ve had (more than once) that was totally un-necessary. They sent me all the way to Aberdeen Scotland to take the lifeboat course. I’ve been a lifeboatman since 1979! NO need to re-take that course, but they insist. In fact, I’ve found out that they insist that we all re-take these courses every 2 YEARS!

I’m wondering just when, exactly, are we EVER going to get the time off we are all working offshore to earn?

So I left for Aberdeen on June 28 and went straight to my first Ocean Rig vessel as soon as the course was over. After a couple of days on the plane, I made it to Luanda and then flew right offshore to my ship. They sent me home on my birthday, so that was a nice present. 🙂

I got home July 31 and left again for another ship Aug 12! Not much time to even catch up on sleep, but that’s pretty much all I tried to do that time. I did make Shark Night at Moody Gardens and my Tuesday night political meetings. 🙂

Skyros from Aug 12-Sept 12. Not a bad hitch. Nice ship, nice crew. I was still glad to get off tho. 😉

I got home from the Skros Aug 12 and since I was due to have approx 28 days off, I scheduled a couple of things. I finally got to work on one of my rental houses. We’ve been trying to get the rotten wood and siding changed out for about 2 years now. Termite damage. I’ll have to tell you about the major project that’s become! I spent a week with my maintenance gal and another helper cutting out the damaged wood and replacing it with new. Now there’s only 1 more side of the house to do and it will be finished. At least that part of it. 😉

When that job was done, I left for the Fast Track Your Retirement Overseas conference in Las Vegas. I left a little early so I could have an actual vacation for a couple of days before the conference started. I love to learn all they have to teach us about how to move and live overseas, but it does get a little overwhelming sometimes. I like to have a little time to just chill out, hang out at the pool, play the slots, etc.

I got home Oct 6th and due to dept for the Olympia Oct 7th. I was ready to go (barely) but for once the gods smiled on me and my visa was delayed for days. Yes, I was ‘on call’ and checking my email constantly, but I got to spend a whole extra week at home! 🙂

I left for the Olympia Oct 14 and spent the next month aboard. I got home Nov 7th and spent the next few days arranging appointments I needed to renew my USCG documents. Then I had to go to the fast rescue course required by my company, so I spent a couple of days in Galveston. Hit the eye doctor, dentist and hairdresser before the weekend so I could leave again Sunday for another course.

I spent the week of Nov 16-21 in Baltimore at MITAGS for the Leadership course. It’s newly required by the USCG to keep my license due to STCW 2010 amendments. It wasn’t a bad week, it just gets old spending so much of what is SUPPOSED to be my vacation time taking redundant (VERY expensive) courses that never actually teach anything useful.

I got home again about 0300 Saturday morning but too tired to do anything that entire weekend but hang around the house and catch up on mail and email. I was hoping to be able to go sailing, but just couldn’t motivate myself enough to get out of the house that day. 😦

I heard from work that I was requested again on the Poseidon, so I got a little extra time off. I used it to go to New Orleans for the Workboat Show. I was in New Orleans from Dec 2-7. I got home after midnight Sunday and so had to catch up on sleep again on Monday. I had that whole week to just hang out around the house and rest before leaving on the 15th for the Poseidon. I’ve been here ever since. 🙂

So, now you’ve got a pretty good idea of how I spend my time. At least, the kinds of things I do when I’m not at home. Which is most of the time, as you can see from this post. 😉

Inspiration!

This whole thing with my blog started a long time ago, out of my growing desire to move away from the US. Why? That’s an issue for another post. 😉

Because of my desire (need) to move out of the States I’ve been a subscriber and reader of International Living magazine for decades. They’ve given me inspiration and lots of good information.

So why am I still here? Good question! I’ll move as soon as I can figure out SOME way to support myself outside of the USA.

I’m too young to retire and I don’t believe social security will be there for me anyway. I can’t leave the US til I find another country to accept me and no other country will allow me to move there and take a job away from one of their native citizens.

That’s where the travel writing and photography comes in. 🙂

I’ve been trying for YEARS to find SOME way to earn an income where I don’t have to be physically present on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico. I have been trying to find a way to earn an income where I can really enjoy life instead of always being at work at a job I no longer enjoy.

So far I’ve tried vending machines, rental property, stocks and now travel writing/photography/blogging. I’ve been working on all of them off and on since at least 1995. STILL working on most of them, tho I did pretty much give up on the vending machines. 😦

IL Editor Jennifer Stevens came out with a travel writing course through the magazine that I did on my own at home years ago. I never followed through to send anything in to any magazines. 😦

Later IL worked together with AWAI (American Writers & Artists Inc) to start offering workshops.

They have workshops on travel writing and photography (and other things like copy-writing, etc). I’ve gone to a few workshops and enjoyed them all.

I have tried to get my photos accepted twice now on a couple of the stock photography sites. I’ve been pretty discouraged. I’m told I don’t have a good enough lens in my camera for my pictures to come out with a high enough quality to be accepted. 😦

I don’t have the patience to spend hours on the computer trying to eliminate every speck of dust that somehow makes its way into my camera lens (even on my favorite Sony camera)!

I can’t bring a big fancy camera with me to work since I’m limited on luggage. I travel a lot on my way to/from work. So….

I heard there was a way to earn money from blogging. So I decided to start a blog as a way to get my writing and photography out to the general public without having to go through any approval process.

I wouldn’t need to get an editors OK for my writing. I wouldn’t need a big fancy camera for my pictures. 🙂

When AWAI (now GEP- Great Escapes Publishing) offered a blog add-on to their travel writing workshop in Boston last year, I signed up for it. I got this blog started in order to have something I could get feedback on.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. I enjoy interacting with people from all over the world. I sometimes wonder how people are finding me and what caught their interest. Especially when I see people from really out of the way places.

I still have no idea of how to ‘monetize’ my blog. The recent Blogging 201 challenge had one assignment about that. I’ve been working through that challenge but I’ve been late and tho I’ve read through the Day 13 challenge on monetizing, I haven’t actually DONE it yet.

I don’t really see how I can make any of what they suggested work yet. I just don’t have enough views or followers yet. It seems I’m building my numbers, but VERY slowly. 😦

I did just get some very encouraging news on my other attempts to get my work out there. 🙂

I was recently published (twice!!) in the Maritime Executive magazine! The first time, they used my photos in an article about ECDIS. The last time they actually used my entire article just as I wrote it and my pictures too!!

I had just returned from my latest GEP travel writing/photography workshop in Seoul, Korea. I had been thinking about this article for a while. When I got home and had a bit of spare time, I finally put it all down on paper (computer) and sent it in.

I was SO excited to hear it was published! I guess the workshops have been helping me after all. 🙂

I think the biggest challenge is just to ASK!

Check out this video from GEP. I met most of these people in Boston (or Chicago the year before). They’re all doing great. They’re very inspiring to me. I see that they’re living their dreams and making it work so hopefully I’ll be making more progress soon too. 🙂

Capt Jill Journeys to Korea!

I’ve hardly been home a week. SO much to do and not nearly enough time to do it all. I had to leave a lot undone. I’m leaving this morning for my vacation/travel writing workshop in Korea. I’m at the airport now so I don’t have much time.

I saw on the news this morning about the capsized ferry. Hoping to learn more about what happened. What a disaster! I feel so sorry for those people and their families. So many kids are missing.

I really want to know what happened. What would make it sink like that? Here we go again with a similar situation to the Costa Concordia where it sounds like the crew did not alert the passengers to abandon ship til it was too late.

From what I gather from the news reports, it sounds like they’re doing a pretty good job of rescuing the people who did escape the ship itself. The water is pretty cold and I think most people would develop hypothermia a lot sooner in 50 F water then the 1.5 hours they’re saying. Jeeze!

Anyway, I’ve got to go catch a plane. More later! 🙂