Wednesday, January 24, 2007, 06:53 AM
We managed to make a significant drug bust, capturing 103 bales of cocaine -- each weighing around 50 lbs if my memory serves me correctly. The boat was Costa Rican, which means we had to obtain their permission to board it; they allowed us on the condition that they be allowed to prosecute any Costa Ricans. We anchored offshore yseterday to turn over the three Costa Ricans along with a kilo of cocaine from every bale. It was a painstaking process as the bales are tightly wrapped and they had to video tape the extraction of each kilo. A judge and a prosecutor had to come onboard to supervise the transfer of the drugs and prisoners. The remaining two members of the smuggling crew, both Columbian, are returning with us for likely prosecution in the United States.

On our transit back out to sea we plowed through two fishing nets.
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Clubs, Trees, and Other Such Fun 
Saturday, January 13, 2007, 07:25 PM
Despite my earlier promise, I'm unable to find a good story from Panama to fill this space. Perhaps the most interesting night was New Year's Eve. From what I understand, the tradition in Latin American countries is quite different from what we are used to in the United States. In Panama New Year's is a family occasion -- most people bring in the New Year in the comfort of their family. Only afterwards do the young people hit the clubs and the bars. Imagine my distress when, after paying for a $40 ticket in advance, I arrive to the club with several fellow coasties at 10:30 p.m. to discover that the place has not even opened for the party yet. I was also informed that we had misunderstood the purpose of the ticket: it was a cover charge and did not include free drinks for the night. For a man who rages about paying a $5 cover charge to get into the Gaslamp Bars on weekends in San Diego, this was quite a buzz kill.

We returned to the hotel room to usher in the New Year with relative silence. There were about eight of us, and we made a few drinks, and then watched the impromptu firework display that flashed throughout the city. In some ways it was even more impressive than the carefully choreographed displayed of the United States. From our hotel room we could see the skyline light up with a smattering of fireworks of various sizes fly up into the night sky: hotels and their showy, if brief, displays, individuals on the street shooting off whatever they had in their hand, and people lighting off midsize fireworks from their balcony. One building even began shooting their fireworks at the people on the roof of another, and the unlucky targets ducked for cover before returning fire.

In the end we returned to the club and their dance party. In the United States people attend clubs to drink and dance; at this place it appeared the majority of people were there simply to dance. Unlike the packed bars I am accustomed to, where you must aggressively flag down a bar tender to be served, the bar at Club Next was relatively empty; few people seemed interested in drinking. In light of this the stiff cover charge made more sense.

There were no tables available to sit at: all the floor tables were reserved for parties who had paid for them. Eventually a live band came out, but my energy quickly began to flag. Eventually I left the club and returned to a hotel bar to sit and drink for a while.

I spent the cab ride back to the ship asleep, and awoke to find myself staring at what I first thought was a large bush. My fellow cab riders were telling me to get out of the cab. It took me several minutes to realize that we were not in fact lost, and that yes, I was going to have to walk the remaining mile on the base back to the ship. Apparently a tree had fallen across the only road that let from the entrance to the base to the pier, which was about a mile away. It was 6 a.m. by the time we stepped onboard the ship.
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Wednesday, January 3, 2007, 06:29 AM
"... and darkness, reticent and unfeeling, as darkness always was."

We're pulling out of Panama today; there are a lot of stories to tell from the port call. I'll tell them here once I figure out which ones are worth telling.
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I'm Exhausted 
Wednesday, December 27, 2006, 12:18 AM
For a few weeks I was forced up to the bridge where, in accordance with the EOIT PQS, I made a feeble attempt to complete a partial OOD qualification. It feels good to be back in a regular engine room rotation, back in the sweat, grease, heat, and casual atmosphere of the engine room. We have a job to do down here, and we're going to make sure it gets done; there's a certain comfort in that.
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We Put Salt Water In Our Fuel Tanks 
Saturday, December 23, 2006, 09:16 AM
... and we did it on purpose. It's called ballasting, and we have to do it to maintain stability when we start running low on fuel. Right now we're at about 43% of our fuel capacity. That may sound fine for an automobile, but we still have several days before we pull back into port call.

Ballasting isn't reall that bad -- it's getting rid of that fuel and water mixture that poses the real problem. For some reason you're not allowed to simply pump it over the side.
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Today's Core Value: HONOR 
Friday, December 15, 2006, 04:54 PM
What do you do when your boss blatantly lies to your face, or even better, in an email? What do you do when this keep happening? I swear, the man must think we don't talk to each other. You can't tell me one thing and then tell my roommmate something else; that isn't a very good way to get away with lying.
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Drunk Driving 
Saturday, November 25, 2006, 01:31 PM
Maybe I'm just making assumptions, but this appears to be yet another reason against driving drunk. Somehow, I'm guessing that isn't why the good Rev. Al Sharpton is interested.
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Holiday Madness 
Thursday, November 23, 2006, 10:40 PM
I just returned from a delightful Thanksgiving dinner with my parents. The streets and highways, which were eerily deserted when I drove to Albany at 5:30 p.m. were packed with fellow Thanksgiving-returnees. I quickly realized that many of them were, unlike me, most likely drunk; an accident I passed in the center lane on the freeway deepened my suspicions. The toll plaza was back up clear to the split (quite a ways and significantly worse than the morning commute, for those of your not familiar with the Bay Bridge), which made me glad that I wasn't heading back to San Francisco. It took me a while to figure out why the traffic was so much heavier heading into the city, but I'm guessing that since people's homes are more expensive in SF people opted to have Thanksgiving at their East Bay friends' larger houses.

When I pulled into the shopping center parking lot behind my apartment building, the formerly empty parking stalls were now packed with cars. CompUSA, it appears, decided to kick off the holiday shopping maddness a little early; the store was packed with customers.
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For Your Consideration 
Tuesday, November 21, 2006, 06:22 PM
For Your Consideration, which I'm not even going to link to here because it's so horrible. I will never get those two hours of my life back. It's really hard to think of something that would have been less productive that watching that movie. It's a movie about a movie that has a lot of bad acting in it. Bad acting can be funny up to a point (very little of this is), but when 60% of your screen time is horrible acting, it can be difficult to salvage.

I've found that if I see a movie on the big screen, I usually enjoy it. Whether it's simply the atmosphere or the awesome picture, I'm easily seduced by movies in movie theaters. With movies going for $10 a pop, and with downloading them off the internet a very real possibility to me, Babel and For Your Consideration have really shaken my faith and my desire to attend the theater.
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New Theme 
Saturday, November 18, 2006, 03:12 PM
Yes, there is a new theme. I updated my blogging software and switched over to the "modern" theme from what I believe was called "classic" or something. The default color schemes are remarkably bland, even to my design-oblivious eye. I want a clear design that's as cool as the ones they have over on Blogger, but I don't want to give up the freedom of running my own domain.

At the time of writing there is a lot of sky blue on this page. Hopefully it will be gone by the time you read this.
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