NSFAnywhere. Just don’t even read this. Worst story/joke of all time. Gross. Offensive.

"You're going to Hell, Ms. Sisko."

I really do need to preface this post by saying that I am a vegetarian who is probably just used to seeing all of those terrible factory farm photos (which, of course, disgust me).  I am also never one to shy away from an offensive joke.  Yup, I’m sure you’ve it figured out by now; this is going to be bad.  It’ll also be very stupid, gross, and immature.  Just go to Cake Wrecks right now and laugh at sad deserts from your local Publix bakery.  Cake Wrecks is a very funny site, and you’ll thank me for sending you there.  Forget this horrible place exists, at least for the next few days. Continue reading

Mafia nicknames: When you’re not as clever as you’d hoped you were.

"I thought I'd be safe in my car, but they've sent JIMMY THE LOCK!"

So, I was watching Quantum Leap last night and Sam said something like, “Hold on, I’ve gotta jimmy the lock.”  I was immediately struck by the notion that “Jimmy the Lock” would be a fantastic gangster name.  I mean, wouldn’t it?  OK, maybe not for a Corleone, but perhaps for the type of guy featured in Netflix’s word-of-mouth favorite Lilyhammer.

I then decided that I’d try to be clever and come up with other overly descriptive, phrase-like gangster names, but I haven’t done so well.  Bill the Room works … I guess … but what does that make his gangster super-power?  Capping whatever the plural of “mafioso” is while delivering their room service?  Charlie came up with Philip the Tank, which I like.  I’m thinking he works around the corner from the boss’s headquarters in a state like New Jersey, where citizens aren’t trusted to pump their own gas.  He secretly fills rival gang member’s tanks with sugar or, worse, E85.

The more you know you're an idiot ...

When we finally decided to give up on phraseology we came up with Randy the Perv, Bernie the Arson, and John the Guy-Who-Likes-Hookers.  Then we looked at what we had and gave up all together.  Nothing quite had the ring of Jimmy the Lock.  We learned a lesson, too.  Some people, despite a few good ideas here and there, just aren’t as clever as they’d hoped.

Where we find ourselves now: The saildrive saga.

In early January, Charlie and I prepared to begin the installation of our new Beta Marine sixty horsepower engine and saildrive.  Over a month later, the boat remains on the hard and without a power plant.

Though neither one of us had ever owned a boat with a saildrive before, we both have quite a bit of experience with engine installations and things mechanical; Charlie’s experience is with both boats and cars, while mine is mainly with cars.  Neither one of us was completely thrilled with the idea of owning a boat with a saildrive (we prefer very small holes to very big holes when dealing with things that float), but we hadn’t been worried about the install.  In fact, we were pretty excited to get things started.

We somehow always manage to look like homeless people, even while moving a brand new saildrive.


We moved the saildrive out of its box in the shop at the boatyard, and found a shopping cart to push it across the concrete to the Compass.  Once there, Charlie secured some line to the thing using one of those fancy sailor knots he’s known for tying things off with while pretending the whole thing is no big deal.  He then pulled the saildrive up towards the deck, while I held it in my arms, guiding it away from the hull, and I climbed the ladder.  With all credit going to Charlie’s fabulous upper body, the saildrive made it into the boat, and through its special, giant hole in the hull.  This is where we discovered our particular problem.

We’d conducted quite a bit of research in the months leading up to the failed install attempt, and consulted plenty of sources, both primary (manufacturers) and secondary (probable liars on the Internet).  Although, depending on the document or expert consulted, many different terms were used to describe the process, we always felt reassured when someone would say, “don’t worry; your saildrive will be a perfect match for the mounting surface of the old Volvo.”  Anyway, it’s not like we could have just popped the thing out while the Compass was still in the water to get a better look.  The old Volvo saildrive did have the same number of bolts, and in the proper pattern.  How would we have been expected to notice that they were all shifted to the right half an inch?

See, there were these tiny studs sticking out of the mounting surface that we hadn’t paid much attention to.  There was one next to almost every bolt hole.  Somehow, in the back of our individual heads, both of us had decided that these were little dowels to help keep the saildrive securely in place while bolting it in.  Things like this aren’t entirely strange (think the dowel on a crankshaft for a flywheel, or dowels on a block to assist in mounting an engine to a transmission), especially if you’re not really analyzing them.

The new saildrive even had holes drilled in pairs all around the mounting ring, but we’d find out later that this is because it’s a sort of universal mount.

Here’s where it would have helped to know one thing in particular: The saildrive isn’t supposed to be bolted down; it’s meant to be locked onto studs.  I’ll admit, this one took us a few minutes.  We tried to drill out the broken “bolts,” after we’d tried unsuccessfully to twist them all back out.  What can I say besides noting how tired and frustrated we were at that point?

So, it turns out that someone, at some point in our boat’s history, broke all of the studs that fastened the saildrive to the engine bed.  The fix for this would have been annoying and expensive, as we understand very well since we’re having to do it now, but it’s really the only way to ensure that the saildrive is secured to the boat correctly.  Instead of cutting open the old engine bed and sinking in a new internal mounting ring, the mechanic in charge of this project chose to drill lag bolts through the saildrive ring – one next to every broken stud.  The well-smoothed stubs became the “dowels” we had taken for granted.  Gee, I wonder where all that water got into the boat from?

Since I can’t get a full-on side shot of our engine bed, I’ve included the photo to the right to help illustrate our dilemma.  We’ve purchased a new internal mounting ring to sink into the highlighted part of the engine bed.  This ring will have studs that will stick up past the new fiberglass mounting surface and match up with the holes in the saildrive ring.  Although I’m pretty sure Charlie could do the job nicely, we’ll be paying an expert to do the fiberglass work.  Unfortunately, the new ring we ordered needs a slight modification to fit into our engine bed, and getting this done is taking an inordinately long amount of time (which is a gripe for another post).

So, that’s where we are with the Compass.  While the boat’s been on the hard this winter we’ve been able to paint the bilge, varnish the wood in the v-berth, fill some through-hulls, drill some through-hulls, update the battery bank, diagnose some steering issues, and have some new stanchions built.  The folks at the boatyard we’re at have been amazing, and every time we’re there I’m mentally editing the post I’ll hopefully be writing singing their praises.  I’m not gonna say that it hasn’t been nice being able to get a few of these jobs done while the boat’s dry, but it’s always disappointing when something ends up being this big and expensive of a job.  One thing’s for sure, though: given the fact that we were already uncomfortable with having a saildrive, we’re gonna have a lot more faith in the thing than we would have otherwise.  That’s a really nice feeling.

Where the blogger woefully laments her lack of posts; vows to change.

Even blogs that don’t get read have authors who are ashamed of how little they post.  This blog is no different.  In an attempt to jump start things around here, it’s time for some randoms!

"Your mama promotes Mexican boy-on-boy love!" Buuuuurn!

Tu madre!  I recently rewatched the gem of a film Y Tu Mamá También and, against my better judgement, shared the experience with Charlie.  This is worse than the time we watched He Knew He Was Right.  The go-to comeback in my house in my house will be “y tu mamá también” for at least the next six months.  Joy.

American Victory: Did you know?  Perhaps you do know that Tampa is home to SS American Victory, which, in this life, is serving as my favorite type of museum – the museum ship.  For only ten dollars, folks can spend as much time as they like wandering around an actual WWII Victory cargo ship. For the record, this is about fifty times cooler than it sounds.  Did you know that the United States Merchant Marines saw a greater degree of loss than any other branch of service during WWII?  Not the Marines with the guns and the haircuts; the ones that drive the ships.

I don't need to go. I've obviously already steered the ship and retired from duty.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the United States use of the most advanced logistics methodologies of the time, German U-boats were specifically targeting cargo in an attempt to put a hole in the Allied supply chain.  Here in Tampa, we have one of the ships that made it through the war intact, and she lives on to us tell her tale.  While you may have known all that, did you know that on March 24 that ship is going on a cruise, and if you’ve got one-hundred-and-ten bucks to spare, you can go with her?  Though I don’t have the cash to spend, I will be watching her sail off (probably through tears; I’m known for being a weepy sap when I witness awesome things), and I’d like to be waving to you!  If you’re a ship’s captain (making that fat bank), a history buff, or you just love the United States Merchant Marines, take a trip on the American Victory, and be sure to tell me all about it!

"A rising tide lifts all boats." Of course, I think they have to be in the water, first.

Oh.  The Boat.  The only search terms that get people to my blog are “Compass 47″ and “penis hangs to the left.”  Since I’m no longer interested in Dr. Oz’s genitalia, I figure I should write about the Compass.

So, that there to the left -  that’s where she is.  Still.  For the last four months.  I could make updates about painting the bilge and varnishing the v-berth, but I’m not moved to do such.  I was, though, ready to post about the repowering project, which, had it gone off as planned, would have been completed in the beginning of January.  I can’t complain too loudly, though.  We’re at a boatyard where we’re being treated like family, and we’ve been able to complete a few small projects while we’re on the hard.  We want that new sixty horsepower Beta Marine in though, and we want the boat in the water.  I promise I’ll post about the boat this week.  To be honest, I’m itching to write about her, almost as much as I’m itching to sail her.

My only friend?

… and, finally:  I have been looking for one of these on and off for years.  This guy is a genius, and my hero.  I’m trying really hard not to post awful Internet-isms like “squeee,” though I can’t help but think them.

This all leads me to thinking how obviously a little nightlight wouldn’t have been able to guide in the Argo, so this feathered guy shouldn’t worry too much about living up to the high standards set by his ancestors.

See that, I can’t help geeking out right before your eyes.  I’m ashamed.

In defense of Floridians and the Florida State Fair.

I’m not going to say there weren’t questionable characters roaming about at the fairgrounds this past Monday.  I had my suspicions about a few folks, but I’m uppity like that.  As a lifelong Floridian, I’m aware of a certain reputation folks around here are saddled with, and, as one would suspect, supposed evidence of this reputation abounds at the Florida State Fair.

Look at her, eating that corn with no shame! And with her hands, no less!

First I want to say that I’m completely comfortable with the stereotypes.  I guess that as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that, most of the time, I have a choice as to whether or not I allow myself to be offended.  As a youngster it was such an automatic reaction that it seemed almost metabolic in nature.  Age has certainly softened me, and now I’m likely to get a laugh out of the strange, often misguided, and sometimes downright rude things people say about us here.  That’s the Internet age, though – people snark online in a way that they wouldn’t dare to people’s faces.  Especially not now that handguns are back in at the fair!

Apparently lots of people think Florida folks are a strange breed.  The stereotype falls somewhere in between redneck-meth-cooker and lazy-beach-bum-(probably-also-meth-cooker)-fisherman type.  For example, when you imagine a Floridian, you probably envision them wearing flip-flops. Not in that California intentionally-sloppy-but-pedicured-and-fully-made-up way, but more in the ashy-heels-with-dirty-soles-and-toe-hair way, which is an important, character defining distinction.  There is a term a lot of people use (abbreviation “W.T.”) which I dislike for a lot of reasons, but it does typify the general image I believe many pessimistic non-natives associate with Floridians.

“They’re not southerners,” I can imagine a stereotypical northerner or midwesterner saying.  “They’re worse.

I’m pretty sure I can’t even fully comprehend what’s supposed to be wrong with us here because, as a Floridian, I’m probably the epitome of some terrible assumed archetype that I’ll never even be aware of.  Maybe you should take my opinion with a grain of salt.  Afterall, I did grow up in Ruskin, and while I’ll spare you a recital of the fascinating history of that town (… this time), I will admit that it’s pretty typical rural Florida.  I may not be an impartial judge, but, shocking as it may be, I have to say it:  I saw nothing weird at or about the Florida State Fair. 

What I didn’t see:  First, I didn’t step on any meth pipes or hypodermic needles.  For some reason I feel that needs saying.  Not one single carny did or said anything to me that I felt the need to report to the police (full disclosure: I did most of my early schooling in Gibsonton, so, grain of salt and all of that). I witnessed no men beating their wives, no wives beating their children, and no children beating small animals.

What I did see:  People around me wore cowboy boots along with T-shirts promoting their favorite metal bands.  There was chewing tobacco, and there were poorly drawn tattoos.  There were very young parents, along with some very, very young grandparents.  There was even the ubiquitous pregnant woman in a half top.  I saw farmers.  I saw black, white, and Mexican families eating food that should probably be illegal.  I saw people hold open doors, look each other in the eyes, smile at and converse with strangers, and, for the record, everyone of these people had on shoes.  Speaking of conversing with strangers, I was kindly asked why I ate my corn con mayonnaise y chile-y-limón, which began a very nice conversation with a fellow fair-goer.  I see these kinds of exchanges all the time where I come from.

I saw my fiancé eat a burger between two halves of a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

This is OK because I love freedom. America. F' yeah.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve learned to embrace the stereotypes and ignore the Florida bashing.  You know, etiquette-wise, I do wish folks would be a little kinder in their language and less ass-holish in their delivery, but I can’t really change the behavior of others.  This is another thing which, with age, I’ve begrudgingly come to accept.

So bash away oh, ye-who-are-better-than-me!  Point out everything you see that is wrong about Florida while you’re on vacation at our beaches, or after you’ve moved here to escape the snow.  I don’t like it, but I can take it.  I just spent a day at the Florida State Fair basking in the glow of the folks who, if you believe the hype, are supposed to embarrass me.  I loved every minute of it.  I love being one of them.