Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chewch and re-case

I mentioned that I was working on some home made dip because I am out.  I bought a pack of smokes and cannibalized a half dozen.  Put them into a zip lock and added maple syrup.  Then I let it percolate.  Apparently, I'm a bit edgy when I'm out of dip.  I flashed on the ice wench today with authority.  It was ugly.  Which brings me to my next point...recase.

In the freezer, when we geta bag that's overly sloppy and the fish are hanging out of it, it's called a re-case.  I made the leap one day to call myself re-case.  I was just being funny.  And I might have said something about the Ice angel's callipygous state.  And that it hangs out everywhere sometimes.  But in a totally good way.

There is one other on the boat.  Just came through looking sloppy as all hell and I was like look at that re-case.  It stuck.  Well re-case has been bothering me a bit.  I don't hold grudges but someone is just on it.  A bit under my skin.  I don't say mean things about people though so I'll leave it at that.  It's a dog fight.  And my flash on Ice Angel was blue ribbon.  I said sorry.  Hope it worked.


There is a class struggle going on on the Katie Ann.  The peasants, or processors, lie on the bottom and scavenge.  The key crew, or elites, get the creamy pickings off the top.  For example, the captain gave all of our copenhagen away.  This might not seem like as big of a deal as apartheid, and perhaps it isn't, but a clearer example of stepping on the little guy has yet to be conceived.  And we are segregated a bit too, just not by race.

The point here is that I had to make some chew.  Felt like I was in prison whipping up some hooch or something.  I bought some cigarettes from the store-after finding out there was no more chew-with hopes of a trade.  But before long I learned that no one had any.  And so it began.  I took about half a dozen marlboro lights and opened em up.  It was a lot like whipping up a blunt, only we were keeping the tobacco and not the wrap.  I stuffed the tobacco into a zip lock baggy and added some maple syrup.  You know, to moisturize the dry tobacco of the cigarette.

One of the guys here was telling me about making some hooch in jail and this sounds strangely similar.  The wheels are falling off of the wagon out here, let me tell ya.  Not only am I in the process of making chew out of cigarettes in a plastic baggy with maple syrup, but I'm also wearing someone elses contact lenses.  That's right.  Close is good enough in horse shoes, hand grenades, atom bombs, and apparently contact lenses.  It's actually not that bad.  Thank you to my boss for getting those together for me.  I don't care what they say James, you're ok.

Many people are leaving the boat.  They'll be disembarking in droves as soon as we hit the dock in Dutch.  People are getting impatient.  Little things are becoming moderate irritants.  The sea is driving people crazy.  Strangely, I'm not quite losing it.  I just wish I had some dip.  And I'm almost losing it for the very reason.  If my concoction works, then we'll all feel better.  I think all the other boats in the fleet have finished their seasons or are close to it.  We are 30% of the way through ours.  The Katie Ann is the laughing stock, I mean pride of the sea.  This isn't to say that I laugh at it.  I love the Katie Ann.  But anyone with experience on other boats has something to say about the Katie Ann being a joke.  No big whoop.  Just need to make a few changes.  And maybe we should switch the Apartheid up to a simple monarchy.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

And she spit the dust back up

I said the freezer wench bit the dust.  And she did.  But apparently she spit it back up again and is back in the hold with me.  I'm not gonna lie about it.  I was glad to see her back.  Her replacement was a freezer hold cyborg with perfection in his programming.  Dominick came through like that kid in South Park who replaced Kenny when they were working on the Guitar Hero world record, just obliterating the Ice Godess' productivity.  But it wasn't the same.  Something about teaming up with her is endearing and makes the time go by faster.

I don't want to sell her short and suggest in any way that her being the only female on the boat makes it more fun to be around her.  But her being the only viable female on the boat 100% makes it more fun to be around her for half my workday.  I find myself being concerned for her way more than I would a man.  If she's struggling, for instance, I have no problem picking up the slack.  When dudes are in there I don't have muchof a problem picking up the slack, but kinda wonder what their problem is.  Call me sexist if you want, but the fact remains.

I have an irrational attachment to the freezer wench.  She was sad today.  It made me sad.  Even still, I'm glad to have her back.  The boat is a strange place.  In reality, the freezer wench and I would not be in the same room.  Ever.  We would not be engaged in anything resembling teamwork or even a conversation.  Yet, on this boat I count myself lucky to have her company.  I hope she isn't as sad tomorrow.  Then I'll not be as sad tomorrow. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Another one bites the dust

So my Ice angel is out.  Don't know what happened to her.  I'm sure I'll learn more later.  Bottom line is that another freezer rat in training is down.  Let's give her a moment of silence.  I'll strike any incorrect comments from the record, but for now the working assumption is that she had some type of ailment.  The little guy, 'Black Ice' isn't gonna be far behind her.  I suspect his motivation for being down there may have been partially dictated by her presence.  If the one eyed man is king in the world of the blind, then My freezer Queen is queen.  Get it?  No girls running around.

Fortunately for me, the replacement is my number two choice.  Dominick is a cute Polack who likes marlboros and chatty entrances.  He might be my number two choice for who gets it on the boat.  Don't cry Dominick.  Man up.

Speaking of biting the dust, I saw my job flash before my eyes today.  A mechanical voice echoed through the factory with information.  It uttered, " today, we have three catcher boats with full bags...".  After being on standby a full week, I was legitimately surprised.  And excited.  I responded to the voice, "shut the fuck up," with the upword inflection that so clearly marks an ironic statement.  Ya.  Well it turns out it's a two way radio and that was the captain speaking.  Yikes.  I'm still not sure whether to let it die or say sorry.  I for sure wasn't talking to him.  Had to have sounded like that to him though.  No fewer than three people looked at me and said he could hear that.  Ouch.

If I have a guardian angel, I know he's like a Cubs fan.  You know, just rooting for me and all pumped that I'm doing a good job, and then the season collapses, or for the purposes of the metaphor, I say something exceedingly stupid.  I mean, it happens every day.  But not to the captain.  Clean it up Watts.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

All stars and poop hands

I'll be brief.  Apparently, the Muslims wipe their asswith their bare hands.  I noticed theseguys walking into the bathroom with paper cups of water.  Taking  your drink into the bathroom at a club makes sense and happens a lot.  No one is gonna steal a paper cup of water though.   So, the question was, 'WTF?'.  Ya, that's what they use for their booty.  Just a little hand wipe and some splash or something.

So personal hygeine is a personal choice blah blah blah.  The seats are often wet and sometimes have doo doo on them.  The toilets are infrequently flushed.  Sometimes there is actually shit on the walls.  What kind of savagery is this?  And it's supposed to be clean?   Like religious cleanliness?  Can't eat any pig or snap one off, but hand ass wiping is cool?

One of the guys got into an argument withme about it because I asked what their program was.  He was like "what did they do before toilet paper?"  I said, "they didn't go send text messages on cell phones and shit.  People used to eat meat raw too.  We're on a boat with running water, fire, and toilet paper."  Bad argument.  But thanks for comparing these habits to the prehistoric savagery that I take itto be.  All star weekend!  Happy St. Paddy's.  I hope Kevin O'Hara is still alive.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wacky foreigners

If you've been following along, then you know that there is a nice mix of nationalities and cultures on the boat.  We have the African all-stars, who have taught me "yalialah" and "habibi" which mean 'let's go' and 'baby' respectively.  And apparently, flushing the toilet as well as using soap and deodorant are optional.  Among the foreigners are our friends from the former Soviet Union, Da?

I walked into an electrical closet and the two Slavics, for lack of a better term, were scrutinizing some cathode ray tubes in an ancient apparatus.  Naturally I was suspicious.  I let slip, "Oh crap.  It's a KGB mind control device."  Vlad laughed and said, "Yes, of course."  Duh.

To date, the wackiest of foreigner moments went like this...I opened the door to the bathroom in the breakroom and was greeted by the wild eyed Vasily taking a crap and some rapid fire Russian that must have meant 'occupied.'  No problem.  So far.  These things happen.  People forget to lock the door.  But, shortly after that I went to the head we use near our bunks.  I walked in and found a skinny white ass staring at me in like the middle of the bathroom.  Yep.  It was Vasily.  He managed to look at me without turning his shoulders even a little bit.  He was like an owl, just craning his zany Russian head nearly 180 degrees.  "Oh.  Is Ok."  Guess that covers that.  He was showering in the middle of the bathroom rather than the shower stall.  The best I could figure, he was out in the open because there wasn't enough light or room in the stall.  All the while, he's gesticulating wildly while completely naked and wet.  Had his leg propped up on the garbage can and everything.  You know, to get at those sensitive places with maximum effectiveness.  He was basically doing a full on Ren and Stimpy, just scrubbing his junk with the old groin floss with the wash cloth.  "Is OK!"

Those wacky foreigners.  It turns out they were both in the Soviet Army.  And both dudes are cool as hell.  Vasily is a bit moe wacky than Vlad, admittedly.  But sometimes you're just wacky by proxy.  That move in the shower was about wacky enough for the whole boat. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dissention in the ranks

The boat is a clearinghouse for the imbalanced and perpetually frustrated.  All who find themselves here have a story to tell.  The commonality between and amongst crew members is often merely the fact that we find ourselves on a boat in the Bering Sea.  This isn't to say that the crew aren't good guys and girls to be around.  They are.  And quite interesting too.  But when certain things that make you go 'hmm' occur, you have to take a step back and think about where you are.

Bloomfield used to say, "If you're so friggin good, then what are you doing at Cosumnes River College?"  Why indeed.  And if you have it so good in the real word, then what are you doing on a processing boat in the Bering Sea?   Which brings me to my next point.  Someone tried to flex on Mamadou in the factory.

If you'll recall, Mamadou is our Mandingo foreman.  And he looks the part.  Six four and about three bills.  For sure he's 'swinging'.  Long story short, he had a guy cleaning a part of the factory and the guy got tired of it.  Veins popped out of necks and guys started spiking their ear muffs and yelling that they quit.  Mamadou bent down to pick something up and little man seriuosly, no lie, walked up to his back with his fists balled up and bumped him like he was gonna do something.  Mamadou stood to his full height which appeared around 7 foot six at this point and everyone thought for sure it was going down.  One of the guys tried to break it up and Mamadou got him out of the way so he could hear what the worker had to say. 

Nothing ended up happening.  Other than the stuff I said.  I wasn't even there until it was over, but I heard it the same way from about three people.  They all said Mamadou has the patience of a saint.  I believe it.  The guy who was frustrated is a cool guy and apparently he just quit for the day-and somehow has his job back.  Apparently, having a warm body to process fish is more important than appearances.

Whenever stuff got tough on the baseball field and people would start growing balls on eachother, Bloomfield would call it.  "Uh oh.  We've got dissention in the ranks."  And he'd laugh.  Then make us run for being mentally weak.  He'd say, "They're turning on eachother.  As soon as the ship starts taking on water, it's every man for himself."  And there were many variations on the theme.  But here we are.  His observations seem apt.  Things get tough.  People get edgy.  Stuff hits the fan.  Mental midgets. 

If you're on a boat that was openly described as being the most miserable existence to this point conceived by the recruiters, you can't fold when things get tedious.  I'm not singling out the guy who got into it today, but observing generally.  The trip is gonna suck.  Get over it and take your medicine.  It's time to pay the piper for whatever it was you were doing that led you to this point.  You're getting better or worse every day.  There is no staying the same. 

There is-and not for the first time-dissention in the ranks.  People are turning on eachother.  The mentally weak are crawling into their mental fox holes.  They devise methods of defense that usually revolve around outward bitterness.  The gossip of the boat convinces these groups that someone is worse off, or that someone is a bigger screwup.  While this is undoubtedly true, it's a fox hole nonetheless.  The vulnerable cover their ears and open their mouths in a panic, like one trapped in a cave.  They scream for help, but reject the helping call that comes back.  Because they aren't listening.  There is peace to be had.  Any time.  Any place.  We have had our example live and breath as others told the tale.  Even in chains, John was overjoyed.  And I am full.  Even on the Katie Ann.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Groundhog day

Eeeyep.  It's groundhog day over here.  Woke up sometime previous to now-I'm really not sure what day it was-and looked at the clock.  It said 2.30.  I had no clue whether it was am or pm.  I never have any idea what day it is.  Ever.  When we're working, I crave a couple hours of sleep.  When we are on standby, I just want to be working if for no other reason than to be doing something.  The bunks are kinda tight.  So, there isn't much to do in the room besides sleep.  Oh, that and my night light thinks it's the seventies still and strobes irregularly.

Standby is a fishing tradition as old as the hook.  You put nets down and no fish come up.  No fish to process.  Ergo, standby.  I'm standing by.  I should be sleeping.  I'm not sleeping because every night I have freaky deeky fish dreams that wake me up.  Some night previous to tonight I was dreaming that we were still doing offload and chucked the stuff on my bunk over the side, including my pillow.  Fortunately it did not include the ipod I'm using that belongs to my freezer princess.  Such is life on the Katie Ann. 

I was sucked into a conversation about kid's names the other day in the freezer.  I won't elaborate on who I was supposed to be having this kid with, but the conversation came up.  "What do you want to name your kids?"  A string sideways glance from me.  "No, really.  You're gonna have to think about it someday.  May as well be now."  I mentioned that I would someday have to consider which doctor to see for my prostate exams too.  The logic didn't stick.  I said, "I like Xerxes."  Other person asked me to be serious.  I said I don't know and wasn't worried about it.  She said, "What if it's a girl?"  I said, "If I have a girl, she'll be obese by the time she's twelve and will have the most beat name in the history of namedom.  Brunhildha."  She said, "Be serious."  I said, "Katie Ann."  She actually liked it.

See?   That was a trick response.  I elaborated, "If a child of mine were conceived on this boat, rendering a name like Katie Ann applicable, then you'll be on your own with it anyway."  Fortunately, Ice queen laughed.  But seriously. 

I gotta check myself before I turn into a zombie.  I can feel the bite's effects starting to wear on me.  It's latent right now, but could turn my eyes opaque and skin chalky at any time.  Gotta be heads up.  It's like I always say, 'If you're going on a fishing boat, you gotta look out for the zombie change over.'  Really, I say that.

The food is good though.  Actually, bomb food is like clockwork around here. I think I'm gonna do the Katie Ann body makeover though.  I've tightened it up a bit since being here.  May as well ratchet it down.  They have cookies out every night though.  And other things.  And orange drink.  Lots and lots of orange drink.  I'm out of party time too.  I need some more party time.  \m/

Friday, March 2, 2012

Shit show

I don't like to cuss on here.  But shit show is the only way to describe the offload today.  I may have mentioned that offload is the worst thing to hit fishing since the Kraken.  Today proved it.  My nemesis, the boxolator, got it's teeth kicked in.  This should make me happy.  It really didn't.  Fish being off of this boat will make me happy.

So I got to work at 4 this morning.  I woke up at two because there was an incessant racket coming from the engineering klaxon.  Turns out the engineer was in Dutch Harbor doing who knows what.  So on and on it went.  Anyway, partially rested I arrived with my crew of allstars.  The fun started when my favorite all star tried to swipe my freezer boots.  He grabbed em like he knew what he was doing and long story short I told him in no uncertain terms that the boots were mine and that if he wanted to keep track of his boots, he should put a pink ribbon on them.  It was actually a blue ribbon rant.  Got me into the flow.

Went smoothly for the first 8 hours.  I took a lunch and everything went to hell.  I'm not gonna sit here and act like I didn't cause the catastraphe because I have any experience at sea or special foresight.  Basically I lucked out because I didn't want to see too many people on one side offloading fish.  It was merely a matter of aesthetics.  But when I came back from lunch about forty thousand pounds of fish were offloaded from one side and not the other.  The boat listed.  Hard.  And every third or fourth bag that we sent up the boxolator tipped on end and wedged itself in a bad place.  It was ugly.

This was a Poseidon-like disaster.  We seriously spent over an hour and a half watching the thing get jammed until they hung enough weight over the side up top with the crane.  Trust me when I tell you it was worse than it sounds and I thought a bomb was gonna be the only way to get the fish off.  But I'm too tired after living the ordeal to explain it.  We steam out to new fishing grounds tomorrow.  If I get a wake up at three am something might break.  That's that.  All in all though, still having a great time.  Yay boats.

*Note-Neither engineer left the boat at any time.  That was a hasty assumption.  The Katie Ann crew is of the highest caliber and has the utmost respect for their respective jobs.  They just couldn't get to the button that turns the klaxon off any quicker than thirty minutes.