WPC- Focus

I’m getting a late start, but wanted to get into the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge (Focus). I usually try to take photos with very clear focus.

But sometimes I want to try for a different effect. I like to play with reflections, light trails, water, sun, atmosphere. All those things can make for more interesting photos than a clearly focused one can sometimes.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relax

Here’s my choice for the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Relax.

I took it my last night on Zanzibar, before I began the hectic process of returning to America and back to ‘real life’. Stress of airports and TSA BS pretty much negated the beautiful peaceful month I spent traveling overseas.

Dance: Bali

Here’s another post for the Daily Post’s Weekly Photography Challenge (Dance).

I took this photo a couple of years ago in Ubud. I was on vacation in Bali (Indonesia) and spent a couple of weeks checking out the beautiful island. The people are so friendly and the island itself is gorgeous. It’s small, so easy to get around. There are volcanoes to hike, whitewater rivers to raft, perfect waves for surfing, great wrecks for SCUBA diving, and the art scene is fantastic!

I was told that it’s part of their religion there on Bali to make something more beautiful every day. I saw that they really took that to heart. Their temples are amazing, and the people practice music and dance to perform in the temple ceremonies. They have entire villages where the people just make one type of art: stone cutters, woodcarvers, painters, silversmiths, batik, etc. You could spend months there finding something new every day. 🙂

Dance- New Orleans

Here’s a photo I took in New Orleans. I think it’s a good one for this challenge (Dance) from the Daily Post. I loved watching this couple dance and listen to the band play in the street. New Orleans is really great for this kind of thing. 🙂

The couple was really dancing up a storm (swing, jitterbug, etc.), the musicians were all tapping their toes and swaying to the music and everyone was having a great time.

Dance

Here’s a photo for the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Dance. 

I took this photo one Friday night at the Fiesta Mexicana in Old Puerto Vallarta.

I was down there for a month getting certified to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). Every Friday night there were dance shows downtown by the beach. I never got there early enough to get a good seat, it was always packed at least a half hour before the show started. It was a real challenge to get any decent pictures.

This is one of my favorites. The show started with Spanish dances. 🙂

Gathering: Bikes and Blues 2

This week the Daily Post is doing a challenge on ‘gathering’. They seem to be looking for something more along the lines of a holiday gathering of family and friends. The typical Christmas kind of thing. I don’t really get into that kind of thing much.

Here’s a gathering of a gathering of bikers last year at the Summertime Bikes and Blues festival they have in Freeport every year. I have a lot more fun at these kinds of ‘gatherings’ then I do at Christmas!

I like to go to this event when when I can. It’s local, it’s not too crowded, it’s cheap. I love the music, the foods good, there are lots of cool bikes to check out and I always have a good time. 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: My Home- Afloat

Here’s my entry for the Daily Posts Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat. I have LOTs of good pictures for this one. I’ve spent most of my life at sea. I’ve already posted a few photos, here are some of my latest ‘home’ afloat.

These photos are from my latest ship, the Ocean Rig Apollo. I’m actually aboard right now. We’re delivering the ship from the shipyard in Korea to it’s first job offshore Congo. I joined the ship with the rest of the crew onboard right now in Mauritius about 3 weeks ago.

These are some pictures from our voyage. The first one is our departure from Port Louis, Mauritius, the ‘cliffs’ are the coastline of South Africa, after we passed Cape Town (I was asleep for that so missed getting any pictures from there).

Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat

Here’s my entry for the Daily Posts Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat. I have LOTs of good pictures for this one. Here are some pictures of the kinds of ships I see daily while I’m at work.

Yeah, they’re all afloat, tho I sure don’t know how a couple of them manage it. 😉

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat

Here’s my entry for the Daily Posts Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat. I have LOTs of good pictures for this one. Here are a few sea creatures to start off with. 😉

 

 

Colorful Creatures: Yellow

Here’s my entry for the Daily Posts Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow. I had some decent photos of the brightly colored fish that they keep at the Houston Zoo. I love to watch the fish swim around and interact with each other.

I really love to watch the jellyfish, but they’re not yellow.

I go SCUBA diving every chance I get (which isn’t near often enough). I can see lots of fish like these when I go. I still can’t name a dozen of them, but there is so much life around a healthy coral reef it’s unbelievable.

 

Yellow: Birds and Blooms

Here’s my entry for the Daily Posts Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow. I really liked playing with the big, bright, sometimes blaring yellow flowers and the birds with just that subtle touch of bright yellow to set off the rest of their plumage.

2 bugs in a blossom

2 bugs in a blossom

What do you think? Do you like the big, bright blooms better? Or the birds in the background? 🙂

Achievement: Master Any Gross Tons

Here’s my entry for the Daily Posts’ Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement challenge.

Master Unlimited license from the US Coast Guard

Master Unlimited license from the US Coast Guard

It might not seem like such a big deal just from looking at it (the old style was much more impressive), but it took me over 30 years of steadily working towards my goal to get one. I admit, it’s not usually THAT hard to get. It doesn’t take most people that long to get one (if it did, they wouldn’t be able to run all the ships we have running around the world).

This license shows the world that I am capable of running ANY ship, anywhere in the world (or at least that’s what it did mean before they started up with the new rules, there are some few restrictions now).

I know the usual path is for a person to go to one of our maritime universities. You can go to one of those schools and come out in 4 years with a bachelors degree AND a maritime license.

If you have the means to go to a 4 year university like that, you will come out with a 3rd mate license (or 3rd assistant engineer) and then you only need a year of sea time to get a 2nd mates license. One more year of sea time and you can get your Chief Mates license (along with a test). One year sailing as Chief Mate and you can get your Unlimited Masters license. So, you can become an Unlimited Master in only about 10 years, or even less if you’re lucky with finding the right kind of work.

That is the way MOST people get their license. I was not able to do it that way. First of all, I couldn’t afford to go to school for 4 years. I had to work. You can’t work offshore AND go to school. It’s really hard to be in 2 places at the same time!

Some people are able to go to Kings Point, the US Merchant Marine Academy. If you can get into that school, its FREE! I did try, but I was too fat to pass their physical. Then I tried to get in the Navy. Same problem- too fat.

So, I went to a 2 year program instead. I moved to Texas to go to the Ocean Marine Technology program at Brazosport College. It was a 2 year program that when you finished you would get an Associates Degree in Ocean Marine Technology AND both an AB (able body seaman) and a QMED (qualified member of the engine department).

It took me 5 years to finish, (and to my regret I never tested for the QMED so I can’t work in the engine department any more).

When I got out, I started working in the offshore oil field. I worked my way up from ordinary seaman, to able body seaman, to 1000 ton mate, to 1600 ton captain.

I started the OMT program in 1978. I was able to work my way up to 1600 ton master by 1986. It was NOT easy. I had a couple of strikes against me from the start. One, I was female and things were VERY hard for women trying to work offshore in those days. Two, I was fat. The job description is ABLE BODY seaman. Most people did (and some still do) discriminate against me for both of those reasons.

When I got my 1600 ton masters license from the Coast Guard, they gave me an unlimited 2nd mates license along with it. Like an IDIOT I gave it back to them! I had not asked for that license, simply because I didn’t feel completely confident in my ability to do that job. I didn’t want to be thrown into a situation where I might screw up and hurt somebody.

The Coast Guard officer who had just given me my license was shocked at my decision. Apparently no one else had ever given back their license they had earned before. But I was told that I could come back and get it at any time, whenever I wanted it.

BIG MISTAKE! The USCG changed the rules re: licensing without telling me (or anybody else). That was against their own rules, they are required to publicize it any time they want to change the rules, to prevent just exactly what happened to me!

When I did feel confident of my skills to run the bridge of a large ship, I went back to the USCG to ask for the 2nd mates license I should have already had. They informed me then that they had changed the rules and I could not have it. I would have to stop sailing as master/mate and go back down the ladder to sailing as AB in order to get a THIRD mates license!

WTF??!! I would have to go 2 steps down the ladder to earn again what I was already owed! I would have to work for a minimum of 3 years as AB to get that license back! So, I sucked it up and went and found a job as an AB on a ship large enough that it would count towards getting back that 2nd mates license I had already earned.

I was lucky to get a job with SeaRiver on their tankers. I spent a few years running up the West Coast to Alaska. I really enjoyed the job and they helped me get my third mates license. The only problem with them was, they told me they would NEVER promote me to third mate due to the fact that I was an “alcoholic”.

WTF??!! Yeah, I had a DWI, way back in 1982. When I asked for a promotion it was 1998 or so. Yeah, they consider you PERMANENTLY an alcoholic if you’ve EVER had any problem with it. WOW!

Considering their experience with the Exxon Valdez and the fact that they threw Captain Hazlewood under the bus to get the focus off of their company POLICY (which REALLY caused the accident), I can totally understand their reasoning. So I just quit. People told me I should have sued them over that, but it really wasn’t worth arguing with them about it to me (and I would have had to win millions since for sure I would have been black-balled).

For some reason, I decided to listen to my grandmother and go back to school. I had a bunch of money saved up. It was gone in 2 years. I had to go back to work. I took a job with Coastal Tankships as 3rd mate. I asked them in the interview if they had any problems with me being ‘an alcoholic” due to my long ago arrest for DWI. They laughed and basically welcomed me on board. 🙂

I had a great time working for Coastal as 3rd mate. I had some really great ABs that helped me learn how to be a good Third mate. I would have stayed there forever. But Coastal sold out to El Paso and they scrapped all their ships. 😦

I had seen the writing on the wall since the buy-out and had already applied to Oceaneering. It took them over 6 months to actually hire me. It worked out well, since it gave me the time I needed to study and pass my Second mate exam. Talk about STRESS!

I passed the tests and got my Second mates license in January 2002. On February 1, 2002 the STCW 95 amendments went into effect. Whew! In by the skin of my teeth!! I had been hearing rumors of this huge change in the rules, but nobody had any real knowledge of what was going on. Even the USCG, who would be in charge of enforcing these new rules had NO idea when I asked them about it in November 2001 when I was applying to take the Second mates exam.

The problem (again) was that they didn’t notify anyone of what the rules were or how they would affect us. It is a rule that they HAVE to do that. They didn’t. So, I got ROYALLY SCREWED (again)!

I should have been able to simply get my 1 years sea time as second mate and then sit for my Chief Mates license. Since they changed the rules (again), I would now be forced to (re)take a dozen classes (each of which cost a minimum of $1000).

So, yes, I TRIED to protest. I wrote to everyone from the local USCG office to the President. No one was willing to consider my arguments (the fact that they did not follow their own rules, the fact that I had ALREADY taken each and every one of the required classes). All I got from any of them was that the USCG thought the rules were the rules and had to be followed (never mind the fact that THEY broke the rules)!

In the meantime, while I was trying to protest, I started taking the courses whenever I had both the time and the money together. It took me over 7 years and $50,000 (not counting the lost income I should have already been earning) to complete the courses so that I could apply to test for my Chief mates license!

I FINALLY got it and then had to get a minimum of 6 months sea time sailing AS CHIEF MATE. It was really hard to find a position as chief mate and so I did just get the bare minimum. I was able to use a full year sea time as Second mate to fulfill the requirements for Master.

I got my Masters unlimited license in December 2011. I was SO happy. I could hardly wait to get outside the building and shout YEAH! FINALLY GOT IT!!

If you click on the link, you can see what these license USED to look like.

printcert.pdf

Dreamy: Las Vegas

Up for a challenge? Here’s another entry for this weeks challenge from the Daily Post. The challenge is to illustrate the idea of ‘Dreamy’. Here’s what they have to say about it…

This week, we’d like to see an image that looks dreamy to you. A photo of a place you often visit in dreams. A snapshot of your dreamy boy- or girlfriend. A scene that looks a bit out-of-this world. Take us on a flight of fancy!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dreamy: Hotties

Up for a challenge? Here’s another entry for this weeks challenge from the Daily Post. The challenge is to illustrate the idea of ‘Dreamy’. Here’s what they have to say about it…

This week, we’d like to see an image that looks dreamy to you. A photo of a place you often visit in dreams. A snapshot of your dreamy boy- or girlfriend. A scene that looks a bit out-of-this world. Take us on a flight of fancy!

 

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

I posted another one about an Elvis impersonator who was performing right outside my hotel. Lots of women thought Elvis was pretty ‘dreamy’.

Since I posted a dreamy guy for the ladies, I thought I’d post some dreamy girls for the guys. 🙂

These ladies (‘Hotties’ was the name of their group) were also on stage singing and dancing. I love to watch people dance! These Hotties put on a really great show. They even got some audience participation. A couple of ladies volunteered to be in a ‘dance-off’ up on stage (no- they did not have those nice costumes or high heels!). The lady from France won. The audience loved it. 🙂

Fremont Street is really pretty cool. They have a light show projected on a huge blocks-long overhead screen. They have all kinds of bands and performers scheduled to play on the various stages. And then there are all the unscheduled ‘performers’. People who just like to come out and play (more on that later). 🙂

  

 

 

Dreamy: Elvis

Up for a challenge? Here’s another entry for this weeks challenge from the Daily Post. The challenge is to illustrate the idea of ‘Dreamy’. Here’s what they have to say about it…

This week, we’d like to see an image that looks dreamy to you. A photo of a place you often visit in dreams. A snapshot of your dreamy boy- or girlfriend. A scene that looks a bit out-of-this world. Take us on a flight of fancy!

 

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

He was a little before my time, (I preferred David Cassidy from the Partridge Family), but I’ve heard plenty of women say they thought ELVIS was ‘the bomb’, ‘hot’, ‘somethin’ else’, ‘sexy’. Dreamy, in other words. 🙂

Here are a few photos I took of Elvis (impersonator) on Fremont Street. He was performing right outside my door (while I was staying downtown at the Golden Nugget). He did put on a good show, everyone enjoyed it. 🙂

WPC: Dreamy (Out of This World)

Up for another challenge? Here’s my entry for this weeks challenge from the Daily Post. The challenge is to illustrate the idea of ‘Dreamy”.

This week, we’d like to see an image that looks dreamy to you. A photo of a place you often visit in dreams. A snapshot of your dreamy boy- or girlfriend. A scene that looks a bit out-of-this world. Take us on a flight of fancy!

Well, it’s not something I’ve dreamed about, but it does look out of this world. Especially with the dome behind it and the guy standing there right next to it.

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago when I was in Las Vegas. This is right at the entrance to the Container Park, right downtown. They have all kinds of neat shops, galleries, restaurants and even music and other events. The mantis lights up and even shoots flames at night (I missed that part).

Doesn’t it kind-of remind you of one of those old B movies?

You know, the ones where the bugs mutated and attacked after getting hit by radiation? Or the BEMs landed and were out to get you?

I used to LOVE watching that stuff! Old sci-fi, creature feature, horror, bring it on! 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime- New Orleans

I love to take pictures at night. They almost never turn out very good but I keep trying. I was glad to see the Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime.

Here are a few I took the last time I was in New Orleans. I always try to go to the Workboat Show if I’m home. It’s usually in December. Last year someone forgot to reserve the convention center (duh). So they had the show in October.

It was nice to see New Orleans dressed up for Halloween instead of Christmas. 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime- Brazoria County Fair

I love to take pictures at night. They almost never turn out very good but I keep trying. I was glad to see the Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime.

I’ve got a few good ones. I like to take pictures of everything, so I have a good variety of stuff. Here are a few from last years Brazoria County Fair. I’ll miss it this year. My new job has me missing pretty much EVERYTHING I usually try to do when I’m home. 😦

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime- Bikes and Blues

I love to take pictures at night. They almost never turn out very good but I keep trying. I was glad to see the Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime.

I’ve got a few good ones. I like to take pictures of everything, so I have a good variety of stuff. Here are a few from the last time I went to the Bikes and Blues Fest in Freeport TX. I missed it this year. 😦

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime- Full Moon

I love to take pictures at night. They almost never turn out very good but I keep trying. I was glad to see the Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime.

It’s very interesting to see what others have been able to do. Some of them are just gorgeous. It’s also nice to be able to share some of mine.

I like to take pictures of the moon, especially when it’s full. Too bad it almost never turns out very well. Here’s a good one. 🙂