As They Say. . .

. . . up in Wisconsin, "It's colder than a witch's tit in a frozen lake!"

OK, it's not THAT cold but by Florida standards yesterday was the coldest day so far this year. Got below fifty degrees at night and stayed under seventy (I think) during the day. Good times.

And speaking of good times I'm almost ready to head out to Wisconsin. In reality, I'm more than ready to get out of here but it turns out that in order to get paid for doing my job I have to, uh. . . um. . . do my job? (Insert hysterical swear word-hybrid funny word here.)

Work has been going, going and some days it just keeps going. But I had another positive (in my eyes) change to my travel schedule for next year and I might get to spend more than a week in Finland learning the new build process on the Independence of the Seas. The reason it's highly important that I understand the process is not for the benefit of the Independence but rather for the first ship of the Genesis class coming out in 2009.

If the name didn't tip you off you should know that the Genesis is the start of something big. . . really big. While the Freedom class (consisting of Freedom, Liberty and soon the Independence) is currently the largest class of cruise ship out there the Genesis class will be FORTY PERCENT LARGER. Say it with me meow. . . Holy Ship!

(Just tryin' to make my Poppa proud with some word play and keep the Flagstaffians (not to be cornfused with the Flagstaffafarians) happy with a "Super Troopers" movie reference.)

Well I know I keep promising fun things like pictures of the boat parade (video was a lot better than the pics cause of the light situation) and my full travel schedule for '08 (I might be in Europe for three straight months) or even an update that doesn't involve my job but rather my every day life. Along those lines I just became the proud owner of. . . . . . a swanky "new" BBQ. I'm sure most of you thought I was going to say "dog" or "mail order bride" or something fun like that but it just ain't in the cards.

That's right. . . there are cards. Think about it.



So (you ask not really knowing if you really want to know or not. . . um. . . want to know) what have I been up to these days? Nothin' special. Sorry to disappoint.

Fully moved in to the new place but not fully unpacked. Been to the gym a little bit lately, been at work a lot lately (go figure) and been planning next year a lot. I think I might have a preliminary schedule laid out through April of next year so maybe I'll try to get that put up on here at some point.

In the meantime you can check out my upcoming Saturday night plans. . .
I guess I know someone who knows someone who probably once had a dog who may have had a former owner who happens to know someone who has a place with a balcony somewhere on the Ft. Lauderdale waterways, which happen to be where this event takes place. All I know is that it's gotta beat out the Candy Cane Parade I attended last weekend. No, I'm not joking.

All I know is it's still pretty darn warm down here but in less than two weeks I'll be freezing everything off at my bro's house up in Wisconsin.

I wonder how much frostbite I actually need to suffer until I'll feel like coming back to So Flo.


Not Quite Dunn

Done gots myself moved in this weekend. Still got the big screen to man handle but it's actually been nice the last few days not having that thing call to me with football games aplenty in hi-def. The house I've moved into has a pool, backyard, bbq, a sane roommate and the rest of the amenities we take for granted. Living the last two months with only broadcast television and having to poach my internet connection from neighbors will hopefully make me appreciate things a little more.

Work tomorrow. For the first time in a long while I don't have a laundry list of things to do when I first get in. Don't get me wrong, the laundry list is there somewhere, but finally having four days off in a row and only doing a tiny bit of work on Thurs. and Fri. has cleared my head. Well I suppose that and moving all my worldly possessions from one place to another.

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving week and weekend. I know we could all use more time off but at least it's close to Christmas. Dog knows I don't have to be religious to appreciate a holiday that provides me with time off and a good excuse to head to Wisconsin to freeze my butt off with family. My brother's little girl will almost be a year old when I get to see her. . . little terror will probably be walking and everything by the time I see her in a few weeks. Times they do change.

World Peas.


He Offered

I would like everyone to notice that in response to my last post my old college roommate actually offered to have my head bashed in with a boulder whilst I sleep. Hell, not even a rock. . . A BOULDER!

Only a true friend. . .

Turkey day has come and gone. Appetite for turkey has done the same. I managed not to buy anything on Black Friday but I'm sure I'll make up for it in the next few weeks like a good little American. You see I'm moving into the house a few days early and I needs me a bed and maybe somewhere to put my clothes. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about used furniture still at this point in my life, but I draw the line at a used mattress. . . actually I draw the line quite a bit further back but since the new bed is my only concern, um, that's all I'll be concerned with. Right.

So you all know how it is, you move into a new place and there are things that need a'buyin'. . . even when the new place is fully furnished. Still haven't figured out how that works. Now I'll have a slightly more solid address and that means it's time to register the H2O (no, I don't own a Hummer, I own an Element and can't think of anything wittier to call it right now) and maybe even get a Florida license. Shoot, I might just run right out and find a charity to send me way too many of those little address labels with my new numbers so I can feel guilty about not sending them any money for something I didn't ask for in the first place but still intend to use for the two pieces of physical mail I send every month.

Phew, I think I just channeled Sammy Davis Jr. He didn't donate for those labels either, ya know and Adam Sandler once told that Mr. Jr. only had one eye. . . but I still think he just had a facial tick (like Galen Pallas).

Well I guess I've only got about thirty-two hours left before it's time to return to work. It's supposed to be in the mid-eighties and "sticky" all week. Good times they are a'comin'.

(Insert inspirational, deep and witty words of wisdom here.)


A Minor Sign

Two nights ago whilst lying sleepily in my bed I heard a funny sound on the floor, just to my right. That funny sound was followed by an annoying sound from my ceiling fan. That annoying sound from my ceiling fan was followed by the realization that something odd had certainly just happened. That's right, one of the blades of my ceiling fan SNAPPED clean off mid-way through the metal arm that, under normal circumstances, holds it firmly to the body of the fan motor.

I'm gonna go ahead and make a leaping judgement here that I need to get the heck outta this condo. I'll be moving into a house at the end of the month. Same house I was supposed to move into when I first moved out here in March so some of you may still have the address.

Send cookies. Chocolate cookies.

A (was-almost-killed-in-his-sleep-by-flying-fan-parts) D

(I guess this means I'm free to die the way I've always imagined. . . by TC crushing me in my sleep with a rock. Good luck doing it from Flag, T.)



I present to you. . .

. . . the reverse mohawk.

. . . Half Dome.

. . . a Key Largo sunset.

. . . a van and some people in front of Mount Rushmore.

. . . three million dollars worth of slot machines in boxes.

. . . and finally. . . Van Golf! (I have no idea what I'm doing here.)

As my oldest brother would say in his most condescending tone,
"That is all."


The Cool 66

The new magic number down here is sixty-six. Well, really it's anything that's under seventy. No a/c now at the house cause it's frickin' beautiful outside. The doors and windows stay open all the time and that's all the air control I need. Suppose that's one of the reasons I haven't written anything for a while. The other is that the madre came in last weekend and after showing her all there is to see in my little area of the world (one morning of work) we went down to Key West and had a good time. Sunset, drinks, gorgeous.

We hit up an alligator farm and a huge tropical fruit stand down near homestead and now I've got an avocado the size of my head waiting to be made into guacamole, a dragon fruit waiting for slicing and something else I can't remember the name of but I know I can't eat it until I leave it on a paper towel for a while and it turns completely black. No shit, them's the rules. Figure the guac. will make a fine how d'ya do for the Aunt and Uncle coming in this weekend. I can only hope that the TransAtlantic cruise they're comin' off of will make them think a Sunday afternoon with me watching football, drinking beer and eating fresh guacamole is relaxing. . . or something.

Not that football is all that's on the menu. . . it's just that I'm still getting over the picture on that TV I bought. Sure am glad I don't have HD cable (or any cable at all) cause I'd probably take a week off just to enjoy the picture. Anyway, I've got a few pics to put up soon but for now I must work.


Start 'er Up

Not that I know who she is or why she needs starting, but. . .

Found a possible beacon of civilization (or at least a kind-er soul) down here. Went to see a PT for my elbow today and it's possible that he will be resolving my knee issues on the side. BTW ('cause apparently I'm hip enough to use Y-Gen acronyms now), my primary care "physician" most likely missed (or misdiagnosed) my knee problem so badly that I may as well collapse to the left in his honor. Who's surprised by a show of hands? Mighty fine absence of hands I don't see out there right now.

In my physician's honor I'm going to wade a little further into the system, change my HMO to a PPO during the only fifteen days of the year they (my co.) allow us to and continue to fight the non-chalant, give me your co-pay, if-I-don't-look-you-in-the-eye-maybe-you'll-go-away medical system that has been created in this land of the free. The word free only existing in our mottos these days and not in, or around, any other part of this civilized society.

On the up/down side my new PT took one look at the x-ray pics of my elbow on my flickr page, asked how he could put his pictures online and proceeded to enlighten me as to the fact that without surgery on my elbow I might as well be signing up for the hi-pain-threshold club when it came to retirement. We'll see how that one plays out. Don't get me wrong, the HPT club has been around longer than the Stone Masons (or so the Simpsons tell me) but I'm not sure I should be one to join an old-boys-type club. My delicate rear never did bear the spanking sessions well.

Three physical therapy sessions next week. I figure they'll cause me to drop thirty pounds and take away any joint problems I may have in about a week and I can go on with my life just as I did coming out of high school. Wait. . . what? It DOESN'T work that way? Damnable brochures and their shiny pictures always showin' the best.

Oh yeah, I'll be moving into the house I originally booked passage into (back in March) sometime either during November or at the end of said month. The internet connection looks to not be poached anymore and I'm not sure how I feel about that. Kinda enjoy borrowing connectivity from my neighbors. I swear I'm not changing their internet preferences to cat fetish sites and the 24-hour weather website. . . cause they're already there.

As Ik would say; A-out (though I may be a bit further out than should be allowed. Is somebody gonna throw a brotha a line or what?)


Free Meals Are OK

Group lunch today footed for by some body's corporate card. Nice. Sucked into a meeting at four-thirty in the afternoon. Probably not going to be nice. Meeting goes till about eight o'clock, after a mandatory stroll through the warehouse. (At least we toured the empty, but still cold, freezer section.) What's that? Our gracious visitors who want our business would like to buy us dinner. Ow, my arm hurts. The Italian piano bar hasn't gone the way of the dingo in So Flo just yet. Wine, fish, limonchello, desert, champagne. . . are we celebrating something? Nope. The game was one. I hate the Red Sox.

Go A's. Go to Fremont, apparently. I doubt I'll ever see a live game again after they move.


I Didn't Even Know I Was Gone

Surprise! I flew out to France on Monday afternoon. Got into Paris Tuesday morning and then immediately flew to Nantes, France. Picked up my rental car and drove about forty-five minutes to St. Nazaire. Got in around noon and slept. Then I slept. Then I slept some more. Knee was killing me from the flights and the driving so didn't get much of a look at St. Nazaire. Small city though and I'll probably be back one day. Made it out for dinner at a local bistro which was good. Slept.

Spent all Wednesday in meetings with the local shipyard and two logistics companies. Getting people to work together. . . good times. Dinner out with colleague Wednesday night but travel plans the next morning necessitated an early evening.

Up at two-thirty in the morning, not part of the plan. Couldn't get back to sleep so stayed mildly entertained with French music videos till four-thirty. Took a bath, since there was no shower in the room. Drive from St. Nazaire back to Nantes and try to check in for my flight to Madrid. Woman kindly tells me that the flight is delayed at least an hour and they are looking at how to get me to Miami once I actually reach Madrid. It's six-thirty in the morning. Oh shit.

Somebody was mistaken. Flight from Nantes leaves just a few minutes late and even though it's a forty passenger jet and a bumpy ride it isn't full and the service is good. Things are looking up. Typical layover at Madrid then American Airlines decides to show what it can do. Full flight, a/v system that doesn't work, terrible food, crying babies. . . the whole nine. A/V system finally starts to work but our row doesn't get audio. Two cherries on top. One; our reading lights turn on and off without you bidding them too. Two; it's the hottest transatlantic flight ever. Usually they keep it cool and skinny people use the blankets. Apparently it was a tribute to summer and people were fanning themselves. Seems funny when it's forty below outside.

Good week. I took today off. Yup, there's work to be done but. . . time to go enjoy the TV I finally broke down and bought.

Here's to it. . . whatever it may be.



Well, this is the one-hundredth time that I've posted something on this pitiful little blog. Started it around summer of '05 so at this HIGHLY prolific rate I can expect to hit the one-thousandth post sometime after my grand-kids are getting to college. Not that I hear much guff from my adoring horde of fans (all four family members) and it has become readily apparent to me that while some of my friends are big fans of myspace and facebook and all those others they don't seem to get the knack of looking at this site to see where I am in the world. No to chastise but it never fails, every email I get from a friend back in Cali asks where I am right now. . . . oh well.


That's the real big number in my life. Seventy-eight is the exact temperature that my apartment stays when you open it all up and turn on the fans. At least it's down to that these days. I don't even have to turn on the a/c until it's time to turn in.

Gonna play with some big boxes tomorrow. Hope to take some rather graffic images of the horrors of Asian packing techniques. I swear they're making pallets our of balsa wood over there. We unloaded five forty-footers into LC2 (logistics center 2) this afternoon and not a single pallet made it out in one piece. Anyway, might have to explain another minor logistics snafu later on. If I start a rant on it now I'll never get my ugly rest. Needless to say, there was some miscommunication (seemingly standard in my job) and I can't fit the freight from five forty-footers into the other five forty-footers that we ordered to transload (another great made-up logistiky-type word) the freight into. Ah, nevermind. Good night.

Eat your greens.


Go Figure

My frustration has a name.

And That name is The World.

Has anyone looked at this world lately?

And I'm not just talkin' about network TV and
news channels. Though I am talkin' about the
fact that my local channels seem to think that
B-Spears getting a flat is more important than,
well, more important that ANYTHING ELSE!

I'm going to try and go to bed without writing
something mean. It's a tough job, but. . .

I wish I were insane.


Back In Miami

I swear it's gotten more humid since I left.
Flights were typical flights.  Booked completely full, faulty entertainment system, multiple screaming babies, good times all around.  Not sure yet what my feelings are about being back in an office.  The Office.  I finally have my own cubicle to colorfully decorate with Dilbert cartoons and other trinkets that show that I'm really not the type of person who normally works in a cubicle. . . even though I work in a cubicle.  Don't remember where I first heard the term "Cubicle Farm" but it is rather fitting for our little logistics office here in So Flo.
I've been working for RCCL for over six months now.  Feels a little longer than that.
Finally have business cards too but since the phone line in my cubicle isn't actually connected to the phone number on my card I'm not sure how effective of a tool the business card really is.  Have a spanky new(er) laptop waiting in the wings as well which is good cause the miniature hampsters that are powering my current laptop are getting tired.  Also their running wheels are a little rusty and I've had a hard time getting any WD-40 in there to help them out.  Man, life is sooo hard.  I haven't had anything delivered to me on a platter actually made of silver in DAYS and this silver spoon is really getting uncomfortable in it's current position.
On to the next phase.
I'm not completely done with the Quest.  I still have to organize crane support, labor, garbage dumpsters, etc. . . for when she arrives in Miami on the 20th.  But in order to prove my worth, earn my keep, justify the existence of my job I guess, I'm going to start working on a diesel engine project for a couple of different ships.  Don't remember what I've wrote about this but whenever I mention it to people in the office they just get this slightly tazed (not dazed) looked on their face and after a few seconds they develop a sad little smile on their lips and shake their heads wistfully, as if to say, "Another one thrown under the bus. . . and he was so young!"  In truth I'm looking forward to it.  Anything I can do to justify my existence is just fine by me, though a pinch on the arm followed by a good yell seems to work just as well.
Came off dry dock with a sore knee, a cold and a cold sore to boot.  Think I'll take it easy this weekend.  The apartment is now cable free and the internet is highly limited to when I can poach it from my neighbors.  Looks like I'll get a lot of reading done this weekend.  Might even find time to unpack. 
Time to work on my expense report. . . hasta la bye-bye.



Flying back to Miami manana. Yeah, it's a little early. No, I didn't do anything bad to get me sent home. However, I did pull a typical move (typical of me at least) and got hurt in an odd way. Strain in my foot turns into a limp. . . add the limp to three days working however many undogly hours in new work boots. . . you've got a recipe for a knee swollen to melon-like proportions and a distinct inability to walk properly. Same sad song; Boy meets boot, boot meets pavement, pain meets boy.

Anyway, I'm not being deported for my lack of mobility. (On-board doc says it might
be a problem with one or both of the meniscus in my knee, which sounds likely and bad and means I'm in for a fun future.)

In terms of logistics this job is going extremely well. Add that to the extreme number of logistics people we have here and people have gotsta shuffle. So, I fly home tomorrow and I'll be back in the office on Friday. (I'll take my medicine and like it gal' darnnit.) The rumor is that there are fires to put out back at base. Fires that will only be squelched by smoothly moving freight and well planned delivery times coupled with flawless cooperation between multiple feuding entities. Logistics, like manna from the heavens. . . or somethin' like that.

Where was I? Ah, yes. . . rambling.

Good and bad. Cold and hot. Well handled yet still FUBAR. However, at least I get to sleep in a decent bed again in a clean room. While I do happen to have my own room on board the ship it hasn't been a cleaned in days and they are doing work in there every day. Two nights ago I came home to metal shavings all over the floor and sawdust in all the drinking glasses. "I'm sorry, Bob, but I'm gonna have to go ahead and skip a night in the room of podiatric lacerations and just, uh yeah, punt."

Yeah, PUNT! If Fitty says it's a good idea then it can't be all bad. Gotta admit that I'm not mentally geared to go back to the land of spontaneously combusting lizards and beach-folk with faces like old leather handbags just yet.

Alas, the travel is over for now. There's a very small possibility that I'll find some distant adventure within this new project I'll be working on, but most likely I'm grounded till Xmas in WI. Good time. Good and cold.

In the meantime I guess I'll have to find my board shorts and flip-flops.
And on that disheveled note. . .

Thirty-two dozen points to the person not named A.C. who can tell me which fairly modern cartoon this is from.

One man speaking all the lines to nobody in particular:

Turns out it ain't cool to talk about how another man's headsail has been trimmed.
Go figure.


Not Quite Worth Five Thousand

With my job I have to deal with this. . .
RTM Warehouse

But I also get to see this.
DT Hamburg

There's a whole lot of this. . .
Container Terminal

But who wouldn't enjoy seeing one of these?
Sweet Spreader

However, this is the reason for it all. . .
I give you, the newly named Azamara Quest.
Dry Quest

She's a small vessel so she don't look like much in the graving dock. Only holds seven-hundred and ten passengers who have paid for white-glove service and a chance to visit some smaller ports that our larger ships can't go to. Celebrity Cruises just bought this vessel from Pullmantur Tours (even though we own them) and everything with the old ship name (Blue Moon) on it needs to be replaced. All new carpet, mattresses (yay!), storage shelving, mini-suites and fancy new Bolidt decking on all the open decks (and that's just the beginning). At this point we're actually more than halfway through the job so I'll have to get a few pictures up of the work being done.

Well, back to it.


RE: vitalization

When I finally find/make time to create an update it so happens that my hands are a bit frozen. Turns out that Northern Germany is about as warm as the name would imply. Actually can't complain 'cause it's only been 'mostly cloudy' the last few days. . . though today showed a chilled face of such ferocity that it even bit through my 'padding' and numbed me up good by the end of the shift.

So how's the job going?
Typical dry dock. Long, semi-productive days with a distinct lack of respect for the logistics department. It's a small ship that's trying to complete more work, in a shorter period of time, than much larger ships complete. We've got six logistics people working the cranes and forks. Four on day shift, two on night. Normally we've got two or maybe three people total. Needless to say we could use another person or two and we're constantly pinned against the wall by contractors, marine department, F&B department, hotel department and of course more contractors.

Whelp, there ain't much to this but it's all I'm up for. I'll try again over the weekend but we've got full services so I ain't holding my breath.

Hope all is well whoever you may be.



Great city.  Good beer.  Pretty girls.  Having fun driving in my spanky new Golf TDI rental. 
Head to the Blohm and Voss shipyard again tomorrow to start work in earnest.  Co-worker and I dropped by there today but just to look around.  HUGE YARD!!  I mean, like, bigger than one o' dem lampshades that Tiny Elvis was always talking about back in the day on SNL.  Seriously, the shipyard in SF has two dry docks and a few piers. . . this place has something like 17 docks! 
Um. . . yeah.  I've got shipyard envy.
Not gonna type long cause the free computer I'm using in the hotel lobby has a German keyboard, I suppose as it should.  The z and the y are switched, the shift key is the same size as a normal key, there are quite a few bonus keys with fun little markings over them and almost all of the special symbols aren't where we Americans think they're supposed to be.  Ah yes, it's the little things while traveling. . . like being able to write a coherent email in under fifteen minutes and without hurting your delicate hands, like mine.
Hope to establish a pseudo office at the shipzard tomorrow and will maybe get a few pictures up. 
Double dunkel please.  Danka.


Turns Out

Well, no surprise here, it turns out that warehouses are the same all over the world. Gruff workers smoking cigarettes, fork trucks threatening every last little piggy under leather and more disorganized freight than you can shake a mongoose at. (ed. note: this blog does not condone the shaking of mongooses (mongeese?) at anything or anyone, under any circumstances. Keep your mongeese to yourselves people.)

My work here in RTM is pretty much done. There might be some freight this afternoon but for the most part everything is labeled, organized and prettier than a cold beer on a Friday afternoon. Speaking of which. . . every office I've visited in Europe has cold beer in the fridge. Where did we go wrong people?!? If the USA is the freest country in the world then where's the beer in the workplace? Seriously, this upsets me more than a little. Not even for the lack of actual consumption but more for the implication that people aren't responsible enough to enjoy one beverage with their co-workers and then drive home. Life is sooo hard. . .

. . . just ask Paris Hilton. (Here's a ray of shining intelligence for everyone out there; the aforementioned girl (not woman) is UGLY. Not an attractive thing about her. Think about it and then find some dog-awful picture of her at some premiere for some event that she did nothing for. She's skinny, squinty, sallow and sad. All in a row. This has been a public service announcement from a guy who has no right to give public service announcements.

Off my high horse and back to the real world that matters, or doesn't matter. . . I can never remember which is correct. Does the "real" world (i.e. getting up, going to work, dealing with BS all day just to buy things that you don't have the time to enjoy) matter? Or is what Really matters the complete opposite? If somebody figures it out please let me know.

Sorry, no interesting pics of Rotterdam yet. Haven't gotten out much and we all know how well those night pictures of the distant skyline turn out. Oh well, I'm sure I'll be back here and I'm staring ten days in Hamburg square in the face before the vessel even arrives for dry dock. There might be a few beers consumed in that time. Check out the famous fish market on a Saturday morning and scrupulously avoid anyone who wants to drag me through the red light district. My motto, if you have to pay for it maybe you don't deserve it. Just my personal opinion. But what else is a page like this good for if not my personal opinions?

Don't answer that.

For those who care, the people here where I'm working are nice, at least to me. But then again anytime I thank somebody and tell them that it wasn't necessary for them to bring me that sandwich for lunch or that second cup of tea they just laugh and say, "It's okay, you're a customer." Makes me wonder what life would be like if I wasn't a customer. . . and if I was paying all the bills on this trip. Oy! I can remember how incredibly broke (and buried) I was when I returned from that two month European trip last year. At this point that trip feels like it was four years ago.

Hope everyone is well wherever you are and whatever you're doing. Whatever you do, stay away from College Ave in Berkeley this Saturday because it's birthday weekend among my old group of friends back home and some insobriety may ensue. Break out the notes and the pirate eye Jones, I'll be thinkin' of you all this weekend. And to top things off the Candeeman turns something like forty-seven this Saturday in Vegas as well. Helluva weekend to be sober. . . so don't be.

A Heineken tipped back to you all. Grab your bike and move to the Netherlands, you'll fit right in.


In Rotterdam

Tired. Maybe not even from jet lag. Certainly not from anything "bad" that you all have going through your minds. Been treated to dinner two nights in a row but haven't gotten a chance to see much of the city. If I can get enough work done tomorrow then I might have a bit of time Friday afternoon. . . otherwise I only have Saturday morning and we all know how likely that is.

Time to shower. Nice hotel. Too nice for me. Better clean up my act I guess.

Stay up and work or go soak in the tub that's actually big enough for me.

Tough one.


Funny. . . But Not In A "Ha Ha" Sort Of Way

Things do happen to me, I swear. Okay, maybe they're not terribly interesting or worthwhile things; nor are they challenging and eccentric things; but they happen none the less. Just like creative grammar. . . that's a "thing" isn't it? Point is that every time I actually write one of these little things I say to myself, "Self! You should put something down every few days instead of every week or two. I don't care if it's an old story, a fictional story, a worthless update on the interesting breakfast you had or something wholly worthwhile." Then I silently vow to be good about posting interesting tidbits for the people back "home" and promptly don't. See once you post something then you might want to post again right away but it's sort of like that untrue rule about not calling girls too soon. You FEEL like you're not supposed to post again for at least a day. So I have every intention and ability and the fodder to do it with and then before I know it a week has gone by and now I have to compress quite a few things and leave most of it out. And there that is.

It's two o'clock in the morning and I leave for Rotterdam in about twelve hours. Gonna pop into the office in about five hours since I don't have a printer at home (I know, I know, livin' the high life). But I've got a little Gershwin over the speakers and most likely can't get to sleep cause of all the darned excitement and I'm gonna be gone for five weeks and I get to see new places and I get to work out of the office and I get to drink good beer and, and. . . and things shall be as Dog intended.

Promises, promises. If it all works out I'll have pics of ROT up within the week and maybe a story or two. Should have four days with a relatively light work load and then a similar situation in Hamburg for ten days (including rental car and a couple of Sundays) before all hell breaks loose. And let me just tell you my family, my friends and my random clickers. . . if you think the last couple jobs in France were tough I can assure you they were a drop in the bucket.

RCCL did this same job to an identical vessel back in May and the horror stories that emanated from that job still haunt my dreams. Of course we're taking more logistical manpower than I've ever even heard of for a revitalization but that don't mean it won't be not pretty. (Triple negative?) Seriously we've got my boss, myself, another Project Manager and three (count 'em if ya got 'em) subcontractors with us. Most likely we'll be running one shift from about seven in the morning till around five in the afternoon with four of us and then the other two guys will take over at five and only use one crane instead of three until around two in the morning. But who knows, these things always change by the time the job starts. Seven to five doesn't sound all that bad but those are just the hours the cranes will operate for our shift. In and around (and after) that is all the fun computer and phone time spent tracking shipments that we weren't told about that needed to be here yesterday and are more vital to the job than me keeping my heart beating. . . at least that's how they act. Oh yeah, and there's also the inevitable fact that there won't be enough people to unload all these containers until two in the morning. . .

What's that? You need volunteers? And you thought you saw me raise my hand? Sure things boss. My hand was up, whatever you say. Last notable and fun-fact for this job is that the ship is so small and we have so many people working on it that we'll be bunking times two in each room (and possibly times three). I realize that people cruise in these rooms all the time but I gotta admit that it's more than nice and good for moral if you have your own space/shower/music/nakidity and only your own snoring to deal with after an eighteen hour shift that's about to roll over into one more shift of similar magnitude.

Welp, I think I'll put on my dunn-deroos and see if I can't squeeze a little sleep into these eyes. We'll find out if I still love to travel sometime tomorrow. . . after I've been properly compressed into a plane seat for a few hours.

At least my family was loving enough to give me Stephen King's, "Dark Tower" series to keep me interested. Haven't pulled the trigger on that Archos 605 yet but the books are more entertaining than digital media any day. And they never seem to run out of batteries. Funny how that works.

Maybe even in a "Ha Ha" sort of way.


Two Year Injury

Well, it's been two years to the day that I first had my right elbow x-rayed after that, um, incident with a young lady friend of mine. And you can all get your minds outta the gutter cause you know damn well that if this had happened under any sort of kinky circumstances I'd tell you straight up. Hell, I'd probably write a book. Anyway, here's the first x-ray I got in Flag two years ago.

Elbow Bent

At the time the radiologist labeled it as an occult fracture of the elbow, though he did not specify the exact area that was fractured. (I was now officially part of occult. Heh!) Soft cast and a sling. . . props to TmfC for wrappin' me back up a few times. Cost me my last Trek America trip but a few weeks later the swelling was down and mobility was probably about eighty percent.

A couple of diagnoses later and some physical therapy and I find myself here in Florida with proper health insurance again. Went to a orthopaedic surgeon and between the x-rays he took, the original x-rays and the MRI report from eighteen months ago he diagnosed me with an occult fracture. But this time he told me exactly where he thought it was (is?).

Close up 2

There it is!

Close up 1

Basically there was a fracture along the bottom line of that triangle. The triangle slipped down a bit and mended itself there. And that is why I don't have full extension of my right elbow. . and probably never will. When I try to straighten my arm the bone and tendons don't want to let it go all the way.

For now it's PT which I probably can't start until I get back from Germany in mid-October. C'est la vie.


The Litos

Well, my roommate took off today for what should be a six month stint on board a ninety-eight foot yacht on it's way to Acapulco via Cancun and the Panama Canal. Except for the whole baby-sitting rich people aspect I'm pretty jealous. Not too long ago it's the kind of thing I would have been doing and none of you would have batted an eyelash.

Cat 4 Amy
Yup, that's Amy.

Unfortunately, I don't have too much time to enjoy my solidarity. The flights haven't been booked yet for my next work trip but I should be leaving September tenth to fly to Amsterdam. The plan is for me to then train it to Rotterdam and work at a consolidation warehouse that we have there. Then I'll fly to Hamburg about a week later and get to enjoy a rental car and a hotel for about ten days before the vessel actually gets to Hamburg. I'm sure there will be plenty of hard work to be done but the hours shouldn't be nearly as punishing as the all day shifts we work during dry dock.

The availability (as they call it) lasts about two weeks or so and then I'll probably be in a hotel again (or aboard the next vessel being worked on right after ours) for another couple of days in order to clean up all the tools and extra materials that we always have. Probably be back in the Miami area by October thirteenth.

All in all I'm looking forward to the trip and the experience. This job is definitely going to be a lot hairier than the last couple of dry docks I worked on but I'll be part of a proper logistics team this time and it shouldn't be as stressful. Alas I won't be able to travel in Europe after the job is done. The ship is steaming back across the Atlantic right after we're done and we need to come back here and set up cranes and crews in order to load the final materials and provisions before the vessel makes her maiden voyage with her new name and revitalized hotel.

It's still incredibly hot down here. Go figure. I've made the obvious realization that it's not the day time temp that gets me but the fact that it doesn't cool down at night. . . at all. Usually the weather predictions show about a three degree drop in temperature at night, with no change in humidity. Awesome.


By Popular Demand

The aforementioned, and highly fashionable, mannequins in my living room.

Entertainment Center?
No comment.

And of course the ever-riveting shot of my place of employment.

Yo Trabajo Aqui

I doubt that I can even begin to share with you how depressing this post is.
Next time I'll just put a bunch of dead puppies on the screen.

(ed. note: oooh, that might not go over so well. good thing i'm too far away for anyone i know who reads this to come and hurt me. just try it.)

Ten points to anyone who can tell me where these next lines come from.

Man on plane: "Who's flying this thing anyway?"
Same man answering his own question after looking into cockpit:
"It's a penguin! . . . And he's been drinking!!"
Penguin answering man in angry tone: "Wah, wah, wah, wah."
Man: "Wait a minute. . . penguins can't fly! PENGUINS CAN'T FLY!!"



Meaning that it's finally done or at least more dunn(er). I know that these things I have to say are neither thrilling and/or riveting but at least some people who read this will know what's up before I talk to them next and they have no idea where (or who) I am. Cheers to those keeping up. I wish you would provide me with similar info on your lives so I don't fall victim to the "no idea" crowd.

Just an informal invite to. . . um. . . everyone. I suppose I should say almost everyone since technically "everyone" with a net connection can read this, fools that they are for wasting their time. Anywho. My formal invite is to Florida, the Fountain of Youth State, because I am finally settled in my living arrangements. I've got a place to myself and there's even an extra bed or two. Next six months (at least) I should be by myself at the address I have previously provided everyone via email and anyone/everyone is welcome to come partake of the beach and the, uh, beach.

Disclaimer: Due to work restrictions the author of said aforementioned invite can not (and will not) guarantee his actual presence at time of said visits. I wish my work travel schedule was solid but it's rather spongy and constantly changing instead. My apologies, but by agreeing to come visit me you will actually have to give up all rights to seeing me. But feel free to use the apartment and the car. The fridge costs extra.

Spent but not spendy.


Doin' Stuff Is Good

Finally kickin' a little good ol' logistical action at work the past few days. Okay I suppose that Friday doesn't count as being within the last couple of days but if you're really gonna nit-pick once you find out which days I'm talking about you can just go somewhere else on The Man's Internet.

Have been getting to do something called out-port loading. The lingo still doesn't completely make sense to me but essentially rather than traffic all kinds of material through our warehouse here in Hollywood, FL they just send me to a local warehouse (not to be corn-fused with a local whorehouse) and I get to tag pallets and get 'em loaded into containers in the right order with the right documentation. And this is now what I consider exciting in my life. Super.

I guess I haven't written about the upcoming job on the Azamara Quest yet. That's the revitalization that I'll be working on in Hamburg next month. And before you ask, a revitalization differs from a normal dry docking cause it's longer and therefore more work is done (go figure). And if you want to know what a dry docking is. . . look it up. Anyway, to give you an idea of the scope of this project; we will receive approximately one-hundred and twenty containers, each twenty feet in length and usually container ten pallets worth of material. The material in these containers will be coming from all over the world, literally. We're going to have to load about eight to twelve containers on board the vessel each day and this is a small cruise ship. Only holds seven-hundred and ten passengers. I suppose it's hard to explain all the variables in one paragraph so I shouldn't have tried. But suffice to say it's things like this that keep me employed.

And now back to the point I was making before the last paragraph; ou-port loading gets me outta the office to learn new places and faces down here. And speakin' of getting out I did manage to have a little happy hour(s) with a few of the more congenial people from the office last Friday. Not too bad of a time and nobody even got hurt. . . which always seems to happen when I'm all set to have a really good time. (Flagstaffian's can think of Keegan (sp?) face-planting off his bike this past summer on TC's birthday right when fifteen of us were headed off for the bars. He was doing all of about zero-point-five miles an hour and cut his front wheel to hard. . . heh.)

So, some things are looking up and others are just looking around wondering where the good times are to be had. Looks like the roommate will be around till the end of the month and then I guess the boat's headed to Cancun. . . assuming there's a Cancun left to head to. Guess I should check Dean's progress before I write that. Oh well.

Off to a fairly early night for the first time in a while. That's a good thing. As all my biking buddies say, "Keep the rubber side down." I guess that'll just have to refer to the soles of our sneakers or boots for the rest of us mortals.

Wishing you all good times and psychedelic toads.
Which both happen to be in short supply down here.


So, uh. . . I Guess That Settles It?

So the water and power will be transferred to my name on Friday. Does that mean that the place is all mine at that point?

Of course not.

So the roommate got the job on the private yacht. . . 'cause life is just that hard. Of course, "they" can't leave just yet (two captains and her) cause of the four major storms going on in the region. Of course my version of the weather on the Internet only shows three major storms in the whole world and only two in our region but since when have I been a meteorologist? Of course, never. Of course you can't use the same two words to start ALL your sentences. Of course, it IS fun to try. But of course the part that's the most fun is changing the grammar at the beginning of each sentence 'cause you can't remember the grammatical rule that governs such nonsensical and useless things in this world.

Of course, don't tell Mom or The Candeeman I wrote that. . . . aww hell, don't tell them I wrote anything at all or the red will start flyin'.

Anywhooters, I thought you should all know that I now live in a part of the world that concerns itself with the weather patterns on other continents. That's right, Ladies and Gentlemen, here in the SoFlo we get weather reports for Western Africa. . . and that's awesome.

One tropical storm just came off that coast and while it's slated to pass us on the last satellite projection that I viewed we all know that those babies respect nothing unless it's global cooling, so I guess I better go stock up on vodka, and. . . um, water? Yeah, water. Ooh, and goldfish. You can't wade through your parking lot to go driving during a hurricane if you ain't got your strength up with goldfish.

No bull, there's a guy I work with who's a true "local" and he waits out the hurricanes by driving thru them, and I suppose into them. Of course, he's got an F-350, quad-cab, dually pick-um-up truck so maybe he feels it's his right. . . or his duty. And when I say local you should note that he was born down the street from where we work. Maybe seven percent of the population down here can say that. . . but that's only cause there's no hospital down the street so it's not a popular place to birth a child.

Suppose I should shuffle off to bed. But a final word of warning. . . dissing shuffle board can bring serious physical consequences to one's person. These people down here carry canes. . . and they know how to use them.

ed. note: I can't believe the spellchecker didn't accept SoFlo! The world's gone wrong. Het orslwd ogne gorwn.


99% Chance of Change

Just a little ditty to inform any party that may be concerned with my mental health that my roommate is ninety-nine percent sure that she is going to be taking a job on board a private yacht that is sailing to the Western side of Mexico via the Panama Canal for six months. I have tentatively agreed to continue to reside at her place while she's gone for just a little bit more money. I am fully aware that I might be asking for trouble but I've been looking at places I can afford on my own and especially when they come fully furnished they are little boxes for way too much money.

Back Yard

Can't pass up the chance to have a 2/2 all to my self for a while. I might send a few pics once I get all the mannequins and other weird shit down off the walls and various other places. Don't ask, I've been living in a strange situation for a while now.

Point is that change is a foot which seems to be how I like it. Now if I can just make myself wait a little longer till I pull the trigger on that big screen/surround sound system I've had my eye on. . .

Here's to change, and to Fridays. . .



Never seen a Tasmanian Devil. Check one out below.

Two bros, myself and our pop all caught this together down in Tasmania. Pretty gnarly creatures. They eat everything; hair, bone, meat. . . down the hatch. They're chompin' on a tasty wallabee leg in the video. Make sure you have the sound up cause if you catch a good growl out of one you'll know why the cartoon character sounds that way.

I was looking through some old pics on my computer today and found myself wondering what happened to sitting down with family and friends and the ol' slide projector after a big trip and lettin'em all rip? Granted these days you'll be streaming a slide show from your laptop to your big screen tv but still. . . when was the last time you got together with friends, drinks and a long picture session.

I know, I know. . . if the pictures don't move it's not nearly as fun. This post being no exception.


Is Change Always Good?

Most of you who know me obviously know that for the past five years or so I'm almost constantly looking forward to the next big change. If it's not a new job or a different place to live then it's a different car or a new bottle of vodka. On second thought scratch that last one cause once again, those that know me also know that vodka doesn't bring about a very large change in me very often. (Now if we're talking about The Capt'n then it's a different story. Especially New Years Eve quite a few years ago out at Harms' parent's place. . . if you don't know then don't ask.)

Anyway, I don't need to move to a different part of the country this time but I have decided I need to change my living situation just a bit. My current roommate is a self-described lizard when it comes to the heat down here in So Flo, which promptly caused me to associate myself with being a polar bear. . . a bit out of his Element, though still driving one. Point being that even though I dislike always living in the a/c I still need it in order to sleep; in order to sit through that lovely three hour meeting I have the next day and most importantly to not FALL ASLEEP during said meeting. Rookie, rookie mistake. Especially when you're in a room full of people making AT LEAST five, large figures more than you.

So, told my roommate I was moving out at the end of the month and started looking around a few days ago. Found a few places right away that would work but nothing that blew my flip-flops off. (How often do you get to write the words flip and flop together?) AND THEN things start to happen. Just as I find a decent enough house with a quasi-normal enough guy living in it my roommate comes through with a barn burner. She might move to Puerto Rico and open a restaurant/bar with a friend of hers. AND (here's the kicker) she would want to rent her whole place out to me for just a hundred bucks more a month (+ all the utilities, of course). Not a bad deal. Two bed, two bath, fully furnished, plenty of room for friends and family anytime and easily within my price range.

As it happens the guy at this other house has to wait to hear from a recently dumped-out-of-the-blue-after-a-three-year-relationship buddy of his so I'm in a mini-holding pattern. . . with a really small packet of peanuts and a thimble full of beer. . . until he hears from his friend and until my current roomie goes down to P.R. next week and checks things out. Guess I'll get another post up when things pan out, thin out or just fall out.

And if this post wasn't long enough, or funny enough, for you then you've got to check out the most recent gem at Bad News Hughes' site. Link upper right. Warning, his site is definitely told in a no-holds barred kind of way whereas mine is told in sort of a no-bar-holds-me-down kind of way. Whatever that means.


Little Anglo Lie

So I suppose that I conveniently forgot to mention that I wouldn't be working in NY at all. Flew into Jersey, worked in Bayonne (Jersey) and flew outta Jersey. It was an all Jersey weekend, and it wasn't half bad.

Two By Two

Picture shows two, forty-foot containers up on the pool deck of the Azamara Journey cruise ship. This is one of two ships that Celebrity has acquired from Pullmantur Cruises and this was the first one to be renovated. I get to help renovate the second one in the fall. Azamara is a sub-brand that Celebrity has created to distinguish it's higher class, and more intimate, cruises. These ships only hold about seven-hundred people so the experience is a lot different than one of the larger vessels. I didn't get too much time to look around but it seems like a nice ship.

So the big job that JS and I had to fly up to Jersey for was just to unload a couple hundred new deck chairs onto the pool deck. The job was supposed to be a lot more difficult with old chairs being disposed of and the possibility of the new chairs being so thoroughly wrapped for protection that it might have taken forever to strip each one of it's padding. However, we ended up only disposing of a few dozen old chairs and each new unit was sitting comfortably in a box with very little in the way of additional protection. Ended up being a pretty easy day on Saturday.

Still lost another weekend to my new salaried position.


I Have No Travel Plans. . .

. . . but the company has plenty.

Really I can't complain. I've only been to Gotham twice and both times I was working as a tour guide. That means that I drove onto The Island once to drop off passengers and then drove to a hotel in New Jersey. And the second time I drove to The Block all I did was pick up new passengers and then I promptly left for Niagara Falls with the new tour group. So going to the Big Apple isn't exactly a punishment. Of course the possibility of having time to actually appreciate Manhattan is highly minimal. Flight gets into NJ tomorrow at Five o'clock in the post meridiem and I'm slated to work at Six o'clock in the ante meridiem on Saturday. Dog only knows how long the work day will be on Saturday and then I fly back out fairly early Sunday morn.

Not exactly conducive to sightseeing.

I hear the ferry to Ellis Island takes longer than ten minutes so I doubt I'll be visiting that great American icon. Interesting note about that. . . is seems that Hornblower Cruises wasn't happy just running the cruises to Alcatraz, now they seem to have acquired the rights to run the boats to Ellis Island. Go JP. The world is yours.

So, gone is my complacency in the office. Off to learn a new port, pier and loading process so that when I have to go in an emergency later on it'll be easy. Haven't mentioned it yet but this trip is a bit of a luxury because I'll be the junior member of a logistics team. That means I won't be there alone. I'm travelling and working with a guy who has been with the company about eighteen years. When he started with Royal Caribbean I believe they had something like six ships. Now Royal has twenty-one and Celebrity has another ten. Times have changed in that man's world and hopefully he will impart some of his wisdom this weekend as we work and 'play.'

Perhaps I can detail the reasons for our trip later on. But I think I'll pass on taking the ol' laptop on this mini endeavor. My group may be getting blackberries soon so I think I'll take this opportunity to travel unplugged. Of course the cell phones don't care where I am. . .



I've now had my fingerprints taken and checked with the FBI database two days in a row. . . and yet I'm not in prison. Gotta be a record. No, I haven't been getting into trouble. Yes, I have been jumping my way through more hoops than a more respected man could shake a stick at. Done gone and got myself a corporate credit card (though it's really just a charge card and all the expenses come back to me. you know, in case I get rowdy and head off to Atlantic City or something). And the last two days I've been finding my way through port security regulations at the Port of Miami and Port Everglades.

Getting a port ID for each port is apparently extremely necessary. I haven't needed one yet but everyone assures me that if I don't get it right away I'll be sorry. Well I guess I hate to be sorry so I just finished jumping through those hoops. The process at Port Everglades wasn't too bad but the process at the Port of Miami was like taming a wild tiger with a t-bone tied to your leg. Stoopid.

Next time you are forced to enter one of our lovely DMV offices here in the states take a minute to look around. Now imagine a room the size of one of those cubicles in the middle and place four disgruntled agents and fifteen impatient customers co-existing inside it. That's the ID office at the Port of Miami. At one point the staff started leaving one by one until there was only one agent and eight people waiting in line. The agent looks up and proceeds to go on a tirade about how she was only there today to train another guy, etc, etc, etc.

Suffice to say I probably spent two hours waiting in various lines. Good times.

Wish I had something more interesting to write about but I can only complain about the weather so much.


Is That You, Hell?

It's Me, Aaron.

No, Southern Florida isn't really That bad. Bit hot though. Not so much of a big deal now that I finally convinced my roommate that I really do weigh one-point-five-times her weight and there's something to be said for a little a/c when you're carryin' around that kinda junk in multiple trunks.
Actually we're still experiencing thunderstorms almost every afternoon and the breeze that blows through our place is, and Bill & Ted would say, "Most Excellent." I believe in fresh air. Hell, I've spent most of my life breathing it so why would I let a little humidity stop me from enjoying it on a daily basis now? But a man's gotta sleep. . . . so they tell me.

Got the a/c on tonight though. Gots-ta. Gets to sit me through a three-hour meeting tomorrow morning. Planning mtg. for the upcoming drydock in Hamburg. Already experienced one last week. Wasn't so bad except for the part where nothing happened concerning my department, which was most of it. No matter, at least I won't be flown thousands of miles to a job I have no scope on ever again. Or will I?

Good night you princes of Oregon, you knights of the round block of Gouda.


This I Where I Work

Originally uploaded by A Ditlefsen
Well, okay, I don't work too much onboard the ship. . . and no, I don't work in the building to the left. . . it's all about the pier for me, baby.

This is Balentyne Pier in Vancouver, B.C. For those of you who have been wondering what I'm doing with myself when I get to travel to Vancouver now you have a frame of reference for where I am. Of course this doesn't show any of the hectic activity that goes hand in hand with a vessel on a turn around day. . . this shot is taken before she's even tied up to the pier.

Thirty minutes after this picture there are multiple cranes and conveyor belts unloading luggage from the vessel. A minimum of three shell doors (just large doors on deck 1 which is just below the level of the pier at the tide shown here) will be open and either off loading luggage or loading provisions and other stores. My job? Open a fourth shell door and shove a bunch of mattresses inside. Sah-Wheat.

This last weekend was a blast. Plenty of sushi to be had in the VNC and the work went smoothly enough. Only loaded two-hundred and ninety-eight mattresses but that's only cause we never found a way to dispose of them in Canadia. Got myself a spanky new Sonata with a sun roof and took to the hills a bit. Vancouver is definitely a city that'd be worth exploring at some point. The real kicker is that Victoria is just a ferry ride away and most of the people I've talked to seem to like it even more.

Back in the oppressive heat of Southern Florida. Roommie ad I are gonna have to have a chat pretty soon cause she still ain't showin' the love for the A/C. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to never run the air conditioning. . . . . . . if we lived in a place where you don't need air conditioning. I think my sleep in starting to suffer. The other day I thought I was funny. . . and I knew my sleep was starting to suffer.

Well, the end of a long corporate day. Worked on expense reports, pounded out a couple applications for Port IDs and wrote a couple dozen emails. Only made one international call today, and that was to Canadia (which probably don't really count) so it was nice not to be on the phone a lot. Maybe this weekend I'll get crazy and actually call people that I don't have to work with. What'll they think of next? Fun? Probably not, I hear that'll never be invented again.

Time to trade industrial a/c for automotive a/c.
a/d out.


So Much For Forties

No, I'm not talking about the fine malt beverages sold at your corner store. And now that I've gotten rid of half of you I'll get down to business for the remaining two.

There's no rest for the lazy (is that how that saying goes?). Here I thought I might actually get two weekends in a row in Florida to hang out with all my new friends (just let that one slide wouldcha?) and instead I'm getting shipped back up to Vancouver for the weekend. So much for my forty hour weeks. Not a bad gig really. We'll see what kind of rental car I get this time. Hell, the step up I took last time from my car to the GT was big enough that if I made that step again the thing would have to fly!

It seems that the mattresses will not be defeated. The latest battle is once again with disposal. Seems Canada has a law which prohibits importing used mattresses in any way shape or form (short of them being fumigated while they are still on the ship, which ain't gonna happen). So the ship will now take on two-hundred less mattresses than we (and by we, we mean I) planned and they'll have to stash the old ones all over the ship (passengers outta love that, "Oh look, Honey, the galley is through this door. What do you think the galley looks like?" Lady, the galley looks like the floor has been covered in old, stained mattresses. Get out.) and then finally dispose of them in Juneau. Who woulda though that it'd be cheaper to get rid of hazmat in Alaska than it would be in Canada?

Actually, the only way I could make this weekend better would be to hitch a ride on the ship from Vancouver to Juneau (only three days) in order to watch only three-hundred mattresses get disposed of. Probably one of the only cruises I'd really be interested in. That can't happen though cause on Monday I have the first meeting for the Quest drydock in Hamburg next fall. Kinda looking forward to seeing the scope of the work.

Hope to get more regular again. Bought some powdered fiber yesterday.


B.C. Wheels

'Stang Me
Originally uploaded by A Ditlefsen
Just wanted to show my pretty little "compact" rental car that I drove in Vancouver. Not too shabby. Unfortunately the weather didn't hold up and I didn't get to drive around with the top down too much. But I suppose I got a lot of work done and had some amazing sushi so the weekend wasn't a total loss. I gotta admit that I was pretty juiced to drive a Mustang. It's a GT no less.

Back in Florida finally and don't have any immediate travel plans. . . we'll see how long that holds up. The weather here is what some people would call warm and what I would call ludicrous. It's gonna take some getting used to. I figure a dip in the pool at least once a day is probably mandatory and the air conditioner is gonna have to come on at some point at the house, condo, apartment or whatever the heck that place is where I live.

This is my first week of puttin' in a regular forty-hour work week. Guess I better get to it. With a little luck maybe I'll actually have my own cubicle in the farm here with my own extension and my very own handy little business cards and maybe a new computer, etc., etc., shall I continue.

Things aren't perfect but I can't complain about this life.
Hell, who would listen?



Got into Vancouver around midday. Customs took forever but I was rewarded with a rental car that was a little above what I'm paying for. I'm not gonna spoil the surprise before I can get a picture posted. It's something stupid. . . but not as stoopid as a Hummer.

My hotel is in a rather unsavory area. Think Tenderloin, E14th St., and certain parts of West Oakland and then just add a couple thousand more addicts to the mix. Good times. I'm probably gonna punk out and drive most places. . . especially considering the car I've got.

Did a little work today but the bulk is tomorrow and then I can try to enjoy the city. I'm off to see if I can enjoy game one of the NBA playoffs at the moment. As usual I can't get internet access in the hotel room and workin' in the lobby of this particular establishment leaves just a bit to be desired.

Wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who made the effort to see me in the Bay Area this last weekend. Most likely I'll be back late summer or sometime in fall but you never know. I could move to Guam.

Oh, and if you're bored and like bikes check out the new and improved(?) Drunkcyclist site linked to the right.


Big Surprise

Of course the title is supposed to be dripping with sarcasm, but I don't think they've created a font to express heavy sarcasm yet.

Big surprise that I haven't posted for a week and chances are that the time between posts will increase with the passing of that same time until I end up somewhere completely foreign again in time. Right.

Big surprise was what my mom got when my brother (from the W.I.) and I flew in to California last Friday to help her celebrate her 60th birthday. She wasn't expecting it and after a weekend of celebration things are winding down. After a few days of camping in the redwoods of Northern California a lot of things can be seen with proper perspective.

Big surprise that I'm flying up to Vancouver for a one day job on Thursday.

Even bigger surprise that the one day job involves loading MATTRESSES on board a cruise ship.

Biggest surprise is that I fly back to Florida on Sunday and that I don't have any more flights planned for work or for pleasure at this moment. We'll see how quickly that changes now that I've identified it as something possibly good in my life. Truly I'm not really sure what I'll do when I get home, sit down and realize that I don't have a packing deadline for my next trip. Jinxed myself again.

I should be in Vancouver on Saturday with no work to do so hopefully I'll get a few pictures and maybe find time to post again. . . assuming the hamsters in my laptop can keep up.


Summit Center Classic

Well so much for that. I just flew back into Dania from Phoenix. Quite the weekend up in Flagstaff as I was helping TC, Fitty and Chopper put on the wildly successful Summit Center Classic. The Classic is a three-day, four stage bicycle road race that Flagstaff Biking Organization puts on every Memorial Day weekend in Northern Arizona. The event has been tweaked every year for the past four years, with some stages making the cut and other stages only lasting one year. However, after this years stellar event TC thinks that the future schedule is locked in. . . and since TC is the race director I imagine that the lock will remain just that; locked.

Best to check out the website to the right if you want a more comprehensive rundown of the event but I will certainly enjoy giving you the highlights here. Saturday morning starts with a prologue time trial up Mars Hill which ends at the Lowell Observatory. (A time trial is where riders are sent off individually every few minutes.) I've never ridden this short stretch of road but most riders would describe it as "intensely painful." The strongest climbers will complete the hill in about two minutes but most people are well off that pace. For many riders this is the first time they have really pushed themselves in the seven-thousand foot altitude this year and I heard more than a few athletes say that the steep hill and thin air affected them well into the next stages of the race.

While I didn't have anything to do with the prologue up Mars Hill I was privileged enough to help set up the second stage that occurred on Saturday; the downtown criterion. (Roughly a "crit" is a loop that is less than one mile each lap. Riders go off in their respective categories (women, men, youth broken down into skill levels) and ride the circuit for a set number of minutes anywhere from about fifteen minutes up to forty minutes for the men's Category One and Two. If the leaders lap you then you get dropped and get your sorry butt off the course.) So, this downtown crit was just over half a mile and TC really pulled a rabbit out on this one. M0st of downtown Flag had to be shut down and the permit process took six months to complete. This portion of the event was arguably the most successful and highly noticed race that Flag Biking Org has ever put on. There were people all over the place, most businesses were booming downtown and people were wandering over from an art fair that was down in Wheeler Park. I actually don't have words to describe how great it was. . . it's the sort of thing that Flagstaff needs more often and the city will be crazy to deny the permit for next year.

Sunday brought another brilliant stage on the NAU campus. The course was a loop about two and a half miles long which means it is titled a circuit race instead of a crit. Once again riders compete within their specific categories. There were about eight different categories. Unfortunately, the roads weren't closed to traffic so that made volunteers very important for traffic control and there were also five NAUPD or FPD at different corners to keep people moving. Funny, the speed limit on most of the NAU campus is fifteen miles an hour but some of these riders were traveling AT LEAST twice that fast on the flat and downhill portions of the course. My role was to help organize volunteers and generally act as a runner over the whole course in case someone was injured or needed help in some way. This stage didn't draw nearly as many people as the downtown crit but it's understandable because of the location and longer course length.

The last stage is actually the easiest in terms of planning and volunteer coordination. A road race with three different lengths depending on what category you race. The longest route is eighty-four miles. The race started at Upper Lake Mary and turned around way out at Clint's Well to head right back pat Lake Mary. There is a little up and down to the race but TC truly showed his most devious side when he conceived (or just approved, I don't know) the ending to the race. The riders must make a right turn off the main highway and finish the course with a two mile climb (similar to Mars Hill) up to Marshall Lake. An ending like this makes a big difference for the racers and truly the race was decided in that last climb.

Unfortunately, I am usually not working at the finish line and I don't really keep track of who is winning unless I happen to know who they are (highly unlikely) but if you want to see the results you can find them on the race website. Also the team that FBO is most highly linked to is Summit Velo which has the majority of it's members down in Tucson with the remainder up in Flag.

Well this was probably pretty disjointed. . . I gotta admit that I'm a little tired after the drive from FLG to PHX and the flight from PHX to FLL. It seems my life has been reduced to a bunch of acronyms. I guess it could be worse, my life could be reduced to a bunch of limericks and haikus.

Flickr is down at the moment but I'll get pictures posted soon. . . and maybe a video posted on YouTube of a guy who crashed on a corner during the downtown crit.


And We're Back. . .

Well, that's that.  No problems with the flights.  Got in yesterday afternoon.  Had a drink with the roommate, had some sushi, went to bed.  Felt pretty good this morning but it was pretty strange to "come into the office."  Hasn't exactly bored me to death.  Obviously everyone is still new to me and one of the managers showed me around and introduced me a little more thoroughly than before.  Of course my laptop couldn't connect to the network when I first got in because of some settings that had been changed by the shipboard IT guys.  Largest inbox load I've witnessed so far for my work account.  Still can't find my second paycheck from back in April so payroll is cutting another one.  Expense reports need to be approved by my boss who's on a medical leave so that won't happen.  Good times all around. 
Gotta get back to work but hoping to play with pictures and what not later at home. . . though maybe I'll just find a baseball game on the telly and veg out tonight.  Made a whole list of things I 'should' take care of before I leave for AZ on Friday but I think we all know how that's gonna go.  Who needs to change insurance on their car or buy new shoes or any of that crap anyway?  Hell, if nothing else I need to find a laundry-by-the-pound place STAT cause my unpacked suitcase ain't lookin' too pretty. 
The logistics of packing. 
I knew I was unprepared for what I would face on drydock so my packing skills were tested.  Here's a list of what I got rid of while on drydock and then the list of the items I acquired.  The second list is rather large but I assure you that some of it was necessary.
Old pair of running shoes.
Really old pair of sandals.
Couple of old t-shirts that weren't fairing so well.
One pair of heavy work pants (from one of the contractors).
Two pair of work gloves (cause I'm a cheap bastard and you can never have too many work gloves).
Seven t-shirts (three were for BB and all of them were free).
One record and four CDs (cause I can't just live somewhere for two months and not sample the music).
One Big**s Jar of Nutella (no explanation required).
One new CelebrityCruises deck jacket (pretty spiffy but like most things just doesn't quite fit me).
Bottle of wine (for the roommate).
AND four pair of Celebrity coveralls.
I feel like I'm forgetting a few things but since this isn't that interesting anyway. . . who cares.  Needless to say my suitcase was a little overstuffed upon my return and found itself marked heavy (like it's owner) at the airport.  Suppose I should find some work to do while I'm here.  Maybe I'll enroll for some benefits.  Now THAT sounds like some good times.  Like my man Big Johnny or DC says. . . keep the rubber side down.


Au Revoir

Most of this day I struggled with my motivation. Part of my problem is the realization that I am currently living amidst the worst mistake I have made during my seven weeks here. That mistake is not having trucks lined up in time to have the pier completely clear before my departure. Sort of SOP for the logistics team after a drydock. . . especially when there is no warehouse to count on. So, now I'm at the mercy of the port agents. Fred is getting back from a mini-holiday today and who knows if he'll be worth his salt tomorrow. Yann is working so many projects he can't even talk straight on the phone. Long and short is that I have done what I can to set everything up for the remaining containers and materials to be picked up. . . now it's just a matter of time.

On to better and weirder. I present to you the heavily armed octopus!
I must admit that I'm not really sure what's going on in this photo, even though I took it only yesterday. This fine display of beast adapting to man's ways is on display outside the maritime museum outside of Penmarc'h, France. I really don't even know what else to say about it. The word "silly" comes to my mind for the first time in quite a while.

Onto the travel! Looking forward to some classic travel fun tomorrow. It took my buddy KB three tries just to get out of Brest last week. Brest to Paris is a one-point-five hour commuter flight, People! and it nearly wrecked him. Similarly, BB's initial flight was Tuesday morning but the brakes were apparently not working on his plane in Paris so he ended up getting home on Friday. . . and don't forget that these flights are going backwards in time, not forwards. SO! What will be my travel fate tomorrow? Will the gods shine their favor upon me and cause me only to worry about the lack of legroom on the plane? ? ? or will I be doomed to suffer through the French for another week?

She Sells Sea Shells by the Sea Shore

Well, that's it. Probably my last post from France. I'm sure I'll have something to bitch about after the flight home so until then. . . just keep rememberin' the good times.



Climbed a few stairs today. Tw0-hundred and eighty-five to be exact. Took the slip 'n' slide back down though, so that was nice.
285 Up
Drove quite a bit today. . . my last free day in France. Drove South again to a different peninsula that I haven't been to yet. Found some interesting points on the water and did a few things but as usual the weather was a bit of a downer and to be honest I'm gettin' pretty tired of just being here. One more day of work tomorrow and then I fly back to Miami. Already have a sushi dinner planned out with my roommate. Can't wait to have sushi again. But I've got two more possible dinners here so I suppose I should make the best of 'em.

Caught the FA Cup match yesterday between Manchester United and Chelsea. Match ended in a 0-0 tie but in the second overtime period Chelsea ended the scoring drought with a nice give and go lead by Drogba. Not my favorite player but it was a clean goal and a helluva way to end a good match. Lookin' forward to getting home and catching a baseball game and maybe the end of the NBA playoffs. Though I'll probably only be able to stand a few minutes of it cause I'll be yelling at the screen the whole time. "Travel, travel. Foul, palming, travel, you suck!" Or something like that. Maybe I'll have to do a little research on Euro teams and just pick one to follow. Maybe somebody well known but not at the top. That'd be like looking at baseball and choosing to root for the Yankees. Can't believe I just soiled my blog with that name. Go A's.

I suppose I'll stop procrastinating now. I still have a few manifests and other paperwork to get finished. Tomorrow will be busy enough without me being unprepared. Jebus, it's like I was a Boy Scout or something. Oh yeah, managed to lose my old Cali cell phone. Okay, maybe it got stolen onboard the cruise ship but I doubt anyone would be dumb enough to steal a phone that doesn't work overseas. If it doesn't turn up I may be in a slightly bad way in terms of phone numbers. Might have to send out another choice mass email asking people for their info. Don't you just love those?

Off to pretend that I'm productive.


Halloween Come Early

So my Uncle Lee has taken my randumb mentionings of gnomes to heart and sent me pictures of golden gnomes and information on the underwear gnomes of SouthPark. But this time he's outdone himself.
That wasn't so bad but the next one may put people off their lunch a little.
Thanks a lot, Uncle Lee. That's all I needed. . . to be uglier.

On a better looking note the Real Gnome done went and created a little Gnomie Jr. of his own. Congrats to Ang and Dave on their new baby boy. I can't wait to see him Memorial Day weekend.

Well, it's my last weekend in France. I've got a little work to do on Monday but I'm free today and tomorrow. Probably gonna take a drive down to Penmarc'h and maybe back up through Pointe Du Raz. . . see if I can get some quality pics of light houses and whatnot. I might call one of riggers who worked for me tonight cause his family owns a couple of restaurants and a bar. He's about my age but has a girlfriend and a kid and another one on the way. Quite the opposite of me in that regard. I don't even have a dog. Hell, I don't even have a houseplant.

Last interesting tidbit for the day; I couldn't get some of the containers shipped yesterday cause they found a WWII bomb in the harbor and they are taking it further out to detonate it today. The Germans used Brest as a U-boat station during the war and I guess the Brits and Americans bombed everything so thoroughly that they still find undetonated ordinance every once in a while. Fun.


Hasta La Bye-Bye

Constellation Unchained
Originally uploaded by A Ditlefsen.
Whelp, that's it. Sorta.
The Constellation pulled away early this morning. I last wrote on Tuesday and now it's Friday. Can anyone guess what the days in between were like? Believe me though when I say that I'm not complaining but rather just trying to truly appreciate how nice it is not to have the weight of a hundred-thousand tonnes of cruise ship on my shoulders. 'Cause you know, I ran the engines, the hotel, the dock, the bridge, the galleys. . .EVERYTHING!

Okay, my part is only a little one but it's a little more integral that the hotel replacing duvets that are only 2 years old or carpet that's newer than that. Hell, I think my old mattress was more comfortable than the new one! Irony (said in a sing-song voice).

As I get a few more pictures uploaded I'll try to tell more stories from the last month for you logistics junkies but as of right now I have reverse and tangential logistics to worry about. Gotta get five containers back to Miami, one to Copenhagen and one to Denmark. And of course the one for Copenhagen isn't packed yet, so there goes the afternoon. Then I need to get three pallets to Norway, five pallets to Sweden, one pallet to Germany and two pallets to the Millennium when she comes in to Barcelona. Now if I could just figure out a way to deliver all those pallets myself and spend a few days in each place after delivery. All in favor of me becoming a truck driver in Europe say, "Aye-aye!"

Must still be a little loopy. Had a decent time last night after a fairly good day of work. Ended up at one of the bars on the ship with a VP, the hotel director, the project manager for the new gift shops, the lead project manager for new build operations and some high-up cat in Environmental and Safety. Nothing better than finally being able to let down your working guard a little bit. Of course we still talked about work but we all felt pretty good about the job we had just finished on the Constellation so we were able to vocalize manure about other jobs we had been on.

I suppose these things ain't gonna ship themselves. Paperwork abounds and I am bound by it. . . for the moment.


Five Is Enough

Big Kids Toy
Originally uploaded by A Ditlefsen.
The housekeeping crew from the Constellation offloaded five, forty-foot containers full of linen today. . . by hand. . . over a fifty-foot gangway. . .amidst a fiercely blowing wind. . . in a freezing cold rain. . .uphill. . . both ways. Five.

Unfortunately, the material was a little too sensitive to use the claw in this picture. . . that was reserved for the old mattresses.

I can't tell you how many boxes there were of sheets and duvets and bed covers and pillow cases and sheets and sheets and sheets. As my father would undoubtedly say, "A sheetload of sheets." Pretty impressive that they could do it and pretty unimpressive that I couldn't get a single one of those containers up to the top deck where the unloading would be easier. I'm gonna go ahead and blame the wind but we all know that a first rate logistics manager would have figured out a way.

In other news I scored three free beers on the pier today. I was rewarded in true truck-driver fashion by two different truck drivers. The first driver who ponied up the suds was the last truck of linen for the day and there was some serious question as to whether or not we were going to get him unloaded in a timely fashion. His paperwork was stuck in customs with the agent and I had about a hundred guys for the unloading waiting inside a spare forty-foot container during a decent rainstorm. I'm not kidding, unfortunately I didn't have my camera on me today but there was an empty container right next to the truck we were waiting to discharge so BB had the idea to open it up and let the guys wait inside. Awesome idea, crazy result. Literally one-hundred guys waiting inside a forty-footer. Strange days.

So, point is that customs clearance came through just in time and the housekeeping crew rocked the virtual Casbah and had that bad boy unloaded in less than an hour. Truck driver was so happy he stopped me in the driving rain before he pulled away and planted two cans of Grolsch into my hands. Sah-wheat.

Last beer was scored from an Italian trucker who arrived after five o'clock with mattresses. . . yup, mattresses. Anyway, we initially told him he wouldn't be discharged till tomorrow morning but pity was taken and we found a few extra guys to offload him. Some dirt, a good sweat and two empty (now full) containers later and we had one happy trucker on our hands. . . I dunn gone and gots me a Birra Meroni for that one. The Grolsch was warm but the Meroni was cold and it was the last stitch of real work I did today. It's the little things, ya know?

Guess I'm leading up to the inevitable statement of, "Boo-hoo. Woe is me. I'm tired and want to go to bed." But I ain't singin' no drinkin' song from "Jaws" and I'd really rather be up and kickin'. Too bad I have to be responsible for a while longer. Million things more to write but my eyes tell me that this is probably getting too long for my limited readers. Not that my readers are limited. . . except in number.

Time for a Grolsch. Cheers.


Need A Lift?

Safety First - Part 1
Originally uploaded by A Ditlefsen.
The driver of the smaller forklift is Yann Caradec who is another of our port agents from the same company as Fred. If you can't guess what happened here, Yann went and got himself stuck on the rail and we needed the larger forklift to come over and help us out. This is the kind of thing that seems to happen everyday but mostly whenever you've got a really hot truck you need to discharge. The problem with these trucks that come in for deliveries is that they are often poorly loaded and their bosses have only allowed a few hours between their delivery to us and their next scheduled pick up. This would be all well and good if I knew what time the trucks would be arriving and what was inside so I could plan a little bit ahead. But as is often the case the truck we were unloading when Yann decided to beach himself on that rail had another pickup scheduled within the hour. In case you're wondering, YES, Yann is going above and beyond the call of duty by driving that forklift himself. Normally port agents shuffle more paperwork than pallets. But this shipyard has no warehouse and therefore no warehouse workers, forklifts or anything else so myself and the port agents spent an awful lot of time on that little forklift. . . and for me the party is just beginning because the ship is leaving on Friday and I'll be here cleaning off the pier and shipping various things to various places for a few days after and somebody has got to load those trucks.

And now it's time to fall off my soapbox and use the contents to shower instead of holding up my ego.

Today is Sunday. I can't say that it's been a rough day as far as work is concerned but just being around the same people in such close quarters for so many days is starting to get a little old. Need to spice things up a bit so I might head into town tonight and see if I can magically catch the Warriors playoff game. Doubt it'll happen but a man can dream and I've heard of this new device called a Sat&Light that is supposed to be able to pull images from the air and put them on any tv on Earth. Crazy. Now how do you say, "Golden State Warriors Basketball Rules, " in French.

And now that I've typed all that I just looked up the time of the game and Six O'Clock PM in Utah is about Two O'Clock AM here. . . so maybe I'll just check the score when I get up in the morning. How does that sound? Good? Good. Bon (good in French).

Actually at this point I'm already forgetting about learning more French and thinking about my German. . . or lack thereof. The next scheduled dry-dockings are in Hamburg next fall. Similar situation to what I'm in now with two ships going into the same dock, one right after the other and having similar work done. I doubt I'll be there the whole time for that those two but it has occurred to me to take a beginning German class this summer (if I can find one amongst the Spanish classes in Miami) and try to make myself a serious asset on the next dry-dock. Just a thought.

Well, there's quite a few more thoughts up there rattling around but most of them probably ain't worth the grey matter they take up. Irregardlessly, I should probably go have a shower and a beer to try to eliminate some of those rattles. Maybe I'll try ringin' the ol' madre to wish her a happy Mother's Day first. For those of you who haven't already done so I strongly recommend it. . . cause even if you don't love it, she will. Damn, jumped right back up on that box again and didn't even notice.

To answer a little quote from Family Guy that only a few people will get. . . . . . ."Yes, it is lonely up here on my pedastal."