Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I wasn't told

How was I supposed to know....

 ...that this was a EASTER egg!!

I didn't know, I swear.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Because of my self imposed new rule where I don't watch cable news any longer
( it's been a week and a half )
I have nothing to rant about
so today's post will be titled
"Marks Home Improvements"

Your welcome.

Anyway, pleasant weather has arrived here in New London, Pa
so that means it's time to get off the couch,
the winter hibernation is over and it's time to get the yard back in shape.

Some people enjoy this.
That would not be me.

My wife headed out with rake in hand to start tackling the millions of nuts
and branches and stuff that has accumulated over the winter in our front yard
covering what little grass is battling to poke through the debris.

I headed out to the deck to give it a much needed makeover.

 It's been scrubbed and power washed
and it's now waiting for a clear wood sealer to bring it back to life.

I like the feel of the openness of a uncluttered deck.
My wife doesn't agree.
But I told her,
"We have much more room for activities!"
( referencing the movie Step Brothers.)

I explained there would be a new seating arrangement.

 Everyone jammed on one end promotes a feeling of closeness.
Like going to church,
we'll all sit in rows
and we'll all be much closer to the grill. 

She didn't like the idea.


On another note,
my friends hold a "White Elephant" party every year.
The idea is everyone brings a Christmas present they have received
that they just hate
and we exchange them at this party.
It's quite funny actually.

One rule is,
a gift can only be brought to the party 3 times.
After the same gift shows up 3 years in a row, the owner of that gift must keep it.

This past year I was lucky enough to walk away with this beautiful item.
It's an animal print purse lamp with matching night light!!!
Awesome, don't you think.
I mean, who wouldn't want this item enhancing your living room?

If you do......
I just listed it on ebay.

I'll give you free shipping.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Do you have good Soles

One of the things on my honey do list was to take this box and 2 bags of used sneakers to a store called Philadelphia Runners. 
As I drove these running shoes to their new home, I kept thinking to myself,
"Damn, my kids bought a lot of sneakers over the years."

 All three of my kids ran track, my oldest Erin having the longest career as she ran through her college years, and it was she I was thinking was responsible for this crazy amount of sneakers. I thought to myself, "no wonder I can't retire yet."

 But I was wrong. This box of sneakers ended up in the back of my car because of the efforts of my middle daughter Bryn, ( teaches at a boys high school and coached their distanced runners at the time) who had her students run a sneaker drive of sorts, where they donated old but still wearable sneakers to be given to people in need.  To bring this story full circle, Bryn may have gotten this idea from Erin who is working on a documentary about the sport of track being a way out for under privileged kids. At the next family dinner I'll let them hash out who was more responsible for this generous act.

When I put this box in my car I noticed a pair of Nike running shoes on the top. I wondered, who wore these? What event did he participate in? When he laced these babies up was he nervous about the upcoming event? I wondered, did he win?

It's quite possible the next person who laces up these worn but usable sneakers will be nervous too. But his concern may not be the outcome of a race but rather, will he/she be getting enough food at his/her next meal.
You see, through the efforts of establishments like "Philadelphia Runners" these shoes are being given to a non-profit organization called Soles 4 Souls.
This Nashville Tenn. based organization takes donations big and small and distributes them world wide to people in need. They'll take donations like a box of used sneakers from me, as well as donations from retailers who have over stocked items they need to get rid of. Instead of them ending up in a landfill where it will take years for the material to break down, they will end up on the feet of those less fortunate.

I urge you to take a look at them. They do much more than I am able to explain on this blog.
They do really good work.

I took my camera with me when I went to drop off those shoes. I took a few shots, a peak into my area, for no apparent reason.

This building below is within walking distance of my house.  Built in the 1800's, it was a hotel at one time. Why would their be a hotel at the intersection of this sleepy New London town, I have no idea.
It now houses a awesome home made candy store....within walking distance......not good.

 The building below was a schoolhouse back in the day, where two signers of the Declaration of Independence were taught.

 Across from the schoolhouse is a baseball field where I learned, about 15 years ago, my athletic career was over. My brother called me one day and said he and a bunch of people were playing baseball and needed one more player. Sure, I'll play.

 It was near this fence in center field where I embarrassed myself that day.
Sweet memories.
I retired my glove, and my arm.

 A rail road track in West Grove, which is the next town over from where I live. I haven't seen a train go by there in 20 years.

Here's hoping everyone is having a good week. And don't forget Soles 4 Souls.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Just a normal post my lady.

"No my lady," I said when my wife asked if I was going to bed yet.
"Ok my lord", she replied when I explained I was going to watch the end of the NCAA championship game. "Your loss."
We just finished watching 4 episodes of Game of Thrones on demand, before the NCAA championship game began tonight. For some reason  right now I have a hankering to take sword fighting lessons and to call all my female friends "My Lady."

I think my wife and I  should continue to address each other as "My lady" and "My Lord."  It has a nice ring to it.


My daughter Erin, as she swooped through Brussels on a recent business trip, satisfied this guys addiction to chocolate by picking up and giving me a box of Pierre Marcolini Chocolates.
#lovechocolate  #spoileddad  #mylord  #hateheartburn #haveheartburn  #Ithinkpierremarcolinigives mehertburn


American Idol is below par this year.
The NCAA tournament was below par this year.
Pierre Marcolini= above par.
David Letterman = funny, still.


As mentioned, I wasn't as into the NCAA tournament as I usually am.
I guess it just got me mentally ready
for a Phillies season that will surely suck,
and a Eagles season that will surely let most of the city down.
Most of the city doesn't realize that yet,
they're still under the impression
that this team will be good
because our team was successful last year
against all the backup quarterbacks they played against.


FYI...Triscuit Thin Crisps are tasty.
Give em a try.

I'm using some  back issues
I have right now as an excuse
not to exercise.

I'm such a baby.

Tomorrow, that all changes.
Well, maybe. 


My dog Rosie
is staring at me right now
and thinking
"Can we PLEASE go to be now?"
To be clear, Rosie doesn't sleep in bed with me.
That place is only for "My Lady."

Today was day 6 of making it through life without watching cable news.
I'm dumber but happier.

Craig Furguson cracks me up.
Have you ever seen him?
He's quite silly.


I think the 14 pieces of Pierre Marcolini are kicking in.

You may have figured this out, but I started writing this post during the NCAA
championship game.......
it dragged on through the Letterman Show
and now Craig Furguson is on. 

I apologize.

Slow night.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Yard work, TBT and a Selfie.

My backyard looks a little like the surface of the moon today,
stark, desolate and barren,
the result of a very unfriendly winter.

Three weeks ago when I left my house
to join the boat in the Gulf of Mexico,
this severely scarred yard was blanketed with snow,
hiding the amount of work that will be needed to bring this baby back to life.

That's for a later time.
Right now, I'm just going to sit here and enjoy my coffee.


It's been two days since I turned on the news.
No obvious side effects to report.
I'll keep you posted.


Mark my word
I will never be one to post
a "TBT" photo on Facebook.

For those of you who are sane enough
not to know what that is,
it's "Throw back Thursday"
where people post photos of themselves from an earlier time.

I can't think of one reason why
I would want to post a photo of myself as a youngster
wearing clam diggers of the '60's
or bell bottoms and leisure suits  from the '70's disco era.
But that's just me.
For for those that do...
they look really really cute.


I've lived 58 years without taking a "selfie."
I thought I better keep with the times,
after all, I joined Pinterest.

So, I thought I'd change my profile picture,
and do so by taking the much talked about "selfie."
So I got my smart phone all ready,
straightened out my arm,
checked to be sure the lighting was flattering,
hit the "capture" button,
looked at the result
and my reaction was

It was scary I tell you.
I don't know who's face that was but it wasn't mine.
My hair CAN NOT be that gray.!
My forehead  CAN NOT be that big!
And, who put that hair IN my ears?

I guess the lighting was off.


Here's hoping everyone has a great weekend!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Chunks of Life

My life is broken up into chunks.
Three week chunks.
Some chunks I like better than other chunks.
I'm heading home tomorrow after spending a 3 week chunk of my life living on a boat with 5 other guys, while we towed an oil barge back and forth from Houston to Corpus Christi, Texas.

Tomorrow about 5 pm I'll be sitting in a seat on a Southwest Airlines flight that will take me home to the Philly area. There's a good chance there will be a beverage of sorts in my hand.
Can you say, YIPEE?

So goodbye noisy engine room.........

 and hello again to surprise visitors to my back yard.

 Goodbye beautiful bride who I do not know. It was nice crashing your wedding a couple weeks ago.......

 Hello people I know really really well.

And so tomorrow begins another 3 week chunk of my life, this one at home with family and deer and raccoons that steal suet and a dog I'll walk.

By the weekend the boat will mostly be out of my consciousness. I won't wonder how the engines are running any longer. I'll stop wondering where the boat is. After 3weeks of nothing but boat boat boat, it's tough to just turn it off. It's like detox. It takes a while. Come that first weekend, I'll have it kicked and it will be all about home and family. 
That's usually about the time the "honey do" list makes it's first appearance. 

And that's ok.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Pinterest and CNN. Sorry about that.

Now I get it, well, maybe.
I was talking to my wife today after not talking to her for a day or so because we were underway at sea, and we discussed what you may be imagining............ the outside lighting on our house.

And then I remembered a comment I received on a previous post in which I questioned the validity of Pinterest.
I was told it's basically pretty useless (that has been proven to be true up to this point ) but it is a good place to sometimes get ideas for your home, or whatever project you have going.

So, as my wife and I discussed the possible height of our soon to be new lights, and the various models, it hit me.


So off I went to my new "idea" site. Who ever thought an "idea" site would catch on?

Well, I'll tell you this, I found a lot of ideas of what I DON'T want, but still, I can see where that site could come in handy in a pinch.

Pinterest? Yep, I'm all in.


Ok, so I popped in to see what CNN was talking about today, and yes, you guessed it, Flight 370.
I know I know, I said I wouldn't watch anymore, but I couldn't help myself. 
I don't mean to make light of the tragedy that took place and the 370 lives that are presumed lost. I can't imagine how the family's of those doomed souls feel, considering everyones apparent ineptness  at finding a plane that somehow just disappeared out of the sky.

What I am making light of is this "Saturday Night live Skit" CNN calls it's coverage of this disaster.
I mean, seriously, can you be anymore over the top with your coverage?

Their never ending banner that runs 24/7 across the bottom of the screen which yells,
"BREAKING NEWS!! FLIGHT 370........."
Hey CNN. It's not BREAKING news anymore.

They now have a counter going, telling us the ESTIMATED BLACK BOX LIFE.
Last I checked it was 6 DAYS      2 HOURS.
It's like the Times Square countdown to the new year. The only thing missing on the CNN set are the party favors.

Just when I thought I'd seen everything that would make Walter Cronkite puke, their coverage switched from the studio to a guy standing in a little boat 10 miles at sea from Perth.
Was he in the search area, is that why he was in a little boat? Hell no. He was hundreds of miles from the search area.
So.....did they put him in a boat no where near the search area so as he was talking about the authorities searching the ocean for clues, we could get an idea of what the ocean looks like?

As they were wrapping up the segment, Wolf Blitzer ( I always think of Dash Riprock of Beverly hillbilly fame when I hear his name ) asked the reporter standing in the little boat hundreds of miles from the search zone, if he see's any junk in the water where he is at. I could tell the reporter just wanted to yell at Dash, I mean Wolf, "hell no I don't see anything in the water, I'M HUNDREDS OF MILES FROM THE SEARCH ZONE !

I'm giving up CNN for lent. I swear.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A little peek at Corpus Christi's waterfront.

As I watched these two prehistoric looking birds balancing
on the barge mooring line this afternoon,
I asked myself a few questions.

How can they balance on that line with those big old duck feet they have?
Very easily, it turns out.

I then asked myself,
are these two buddies? A couple perhaps.
Are they chatting it up on that line,
or are they no different from two strangers who happen to be waiting
at the same bus stop with no eye contact being made.

A closer look answers my question.
There is no eye contact being made.

Our tug and barge have been tied up at what we call a "lay berth"
for about 5 days, waiting for the seas to improve.
It's just been a stormy mess down here in the Gulf of Mexico.

Because of pressure to get going from our office,
we took the tug ( leaving the barge at the dock) for a ride today out to the channel entrance
to see what the sea state was with our own eyes. 
It wasn't good.

The marine weather forecast was correct.
It's still a bit nasty out there.
As I write this we are tied back up to our barge
in protected waters,
ensuring that I will have at least another night of restful sleep.
I just love lay berths.

On our ride back inside,
I took these.

Can you think of a better way to spend the afternoon
than by sitting on the wharf
watching the boats go by with your daughter?
I can't

I hope you enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

This and that

I like to learn something new everyday, if at all possible. Some days I am more successful at that than others.
What I learned today was this. I learned that my blog gets about, say, ummm,  4 billion views when I post photos of a wedding I serendipitously bump into while tied up to a dock in Corpus, compared to say, ummm, the 3 I get when I'm explaining the merits of a pinned tug to a wire boat.
Message received. Note to self. Know your audience.
I need to crash more weddings.

Just for the heck of it, I turned on CNN today. I didn't learn anything new by doing that.
CNN had a virtual fly over of the ocean looking for the downed airliner.
Quickly, I switched to Fox. They were dumping on Obamacare.
Everything is as it should be.

The deckhand today made shrimp tortellini. It was very good.
I had one job. Take the garlic bread out of the oven.
I lost focus. Burned the bread.
Nothing new there.

I received an email today from another chief engineer, a male, who I hadn't seen or talked to for a few years.
It contained a link to a WomansHealth article, concerning weight loss.
I took a good hard look at myself in the mirror before replying.
I can only hope his email was hacked.

For some reason I was thinking of the Sandy Hook killings today.
Which got me to wondering how successful my President was at toughening up our gun laws.
A little research proved this....
Not very.
Hey, I've had Obama's back all this time. I have to put up with all the Obama haters on Facebook, of which there are billions. I firmly believe that Facebook was invented just to raise my blood pressure.
Is there one democrat on Facebook? I think not.
Anyway, the gun laws are still a joke. Not much has changed. A few tweaks here and there, but nothing earth shattering. I need earth shattering Mr. President.
I'm getting tired of the excuse that the republicans won't let him get anything done. Seriously, if he were a better politician, i.e. Bill Clinton,  a guy who knew how to work the system, he would get more things done. I think he's a good person with some ground breaking ideas, he just couldn't work the system.
Hilary will do much better.

Oh man, with President Hilary in the oval office, Facebook's going to BLOW UP.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tug and barge 101

Lesson 13.
Pin units vs wire boats.

It's a never ending subject for those in the towing business.
To quickly get to the heart of the matter,
pin units are better for many reasons. 

A "pin" unit is as the name suggests,
one unit.
The tug is "pinned" to the barge physically and they become one.

As is poorly pictured below,
the tug of a "pin unit" gets into the "notch" of the barge,
and huge hydraulic cylinders come out from the port and starboard sides of the bow of the tug
and fit into the corresponding holes in the notch of the barge.
When "made up" they become one unit.

The notch in the barge of a pin unit is much bigger and deeper,
allowing much more of the tug to slip up into the notch.

And now below,
is a picture of our antiquated wire boat.

If Daniel Boone was merchant mariner
he'd be on a boat like ours.

Ben Franklin probably had some sea time on a wire boat.

Actually, there are many many "wire boats" hauling product
of all kinds from port to port.
The "pin boats" are the wave of the future.

As I mentioned earlier
pin boats have many advantages.
Weather doesn't affect them as much and
they don't have to get on and off the wire
as they come in and out of ports,
which is time consuming and at time dangerous.

Pin boats are faster
getting from one port to another quicker
which means the owner delivers more product over time
which means the owner becomes richer.
They are faster because as they go through the water,
they are only pushing one bow through the water.
A wire boat is pushing the tug bow through the water
pulling the barge bow through the water.
Wire boats = much more resistance through the water.

So why doesn't our company just make our tug and barge a pin unit?
It costs millions to turn a wire boat into a pin unit.

And so,
that about wraps up todays lesson.

Stay tuned for lesson 14
when we discuss the merits of having Starbucks coffee