Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dem Turnbuckle Dem

Happy birthday Garry Shandling?  Hmmm, not quite good enough, I'd say.  How about this: happy day-after-your-birthday Jon Stewart!  Much better...

So for the past month and a half or so I and a few others on my crew have been on the 'Mast Team.'  The Mast Team was assigned the tremendous task of rehabilitating our two wooden masts: the main mast and the mizzen mast.  I could go into a large amount of detail here describing this enormous job, but I will refrain from delving too deeply, as really I am just writing this to set up a funny story that occurred a few days ago.

But to give you a bit of context about what this job looked like, as I know at least some of you are actually interested in this project and not only the clumsy meanderings of my mind: Our main mast is a single 113' tall Douglas Fir tree (Pseudotsuga menzesii---no I did not need to look that up), and at one point was the tallest mast in the Mediterranean Sea.  Our mizzen mast is about 90' tall and is made of many planks of Douglas Fir wood all glued together.  They are both currently laying on wooden blocks at the shipyard and have not been mounted on the boat in over three years.  The main mast had a few very rotten sections which required cutting out all of the rot and replacing it with new wood (not as simple as it sounds, I can assure you).  The mizzen mast had to be completely taken apart, board by board, and many pieces needed to be entirely replaced while other planks only needed to be repaired, and then re-planed, re-glued, re-shaped, re-etc.  All of this woodwork gave me the opportunity to be introduced to different power tools, such as large, antiquated planers and table saws, and other such appendage and phalange-removing machinery.  It seemed for a time to be a job that would never end, until now, when we are finally at a stage where we can begin sanding, varnishing, re-attaching all of the rigging, and hopefully within the next ten days to two weeks will put those babies back on the ship!

It has been a monumental (emphasis on the mental) task to get where we are now, and suffice it to say that that small description of the job does it zero justice.  But that's alright, a blog can really give no more than a glimpse anyway, and we now have sufficient meat to deliver the funny story.

If you don't know, as I didn't until a month ago when I began working with them, what a turnbuckle is, here is a photo of one:

Photo Coutesy Of:

They are used to attach the cables (or shrouds) that hold the mast in place to the side of the ship, and to adjust the tension on these cables.  I was put in charge of figuring out how many turnbuckles we need so that we could order them.  The U-shaped part with the bolt going through it, on the bottom of the turnbuckle in the above photograph, is called the 'jaw', and the oval-shaped part is the 'eye.'  While perusing the catalog with all of the turnbuckles in it I came across what I was looking for, and then had to make a decision regarding the specifics of my order, because sometimes you need turnbuckles with two jaws, or two eyes, or with both a jaw and an eye as is shown above.  This is the funny part.  Here were my choices according to the catalog:

Jaw and Jaw
Eye and Eye
Eye and Jaw 

Now this is really only going to be funny to those of you that grew up listening to as much reggae music as I did, but now go ahead and say those three above choices with a Jamaican accent.

So I and I took it upon my and my self to order turteen a dem combeenation 'I and Jah' turnbuckle, so now we and we can hoist dem sails to the most high and begin our mission a justice to help protect me bredren and sistren that I mon call dem coral reef dem, seen?

That's all.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Just Here To Move Some Shit Around

To all of my people in the States: happy hangovers, happy post-turkey gorging guilt, and a happy Black Friday to you.  Or if you happen to come from the thick-skinned bubble that surrounds the Bay Area: happy regrets about thinking Tofurkey was actually worth the trouble, and happy "Buy Nothing Day."

It seems likely to me (as likely as the next thing, and far more likely than many others) that our dear bodies are but a home for our true essences, and that these essences remain after the temporal body ceases to.  Whoa there!  What is this far-outedness, and why are you blogging about it, man?!  Well, allow me to explain.  Lately I have been living a life that requires the use of my body much more than usual, and so my thoughts have been naturally tending towards ruminating on this most useful vessel that I spend my days at the shipyard working with, and then these ruminations usually bring me to: "But what am I really?" 

Is the rough skin on my elbow (which in all truth is called the 'weenis'---look it up.  I know, wonderful right?  ["Hey, would you mind giving my weenis a little tug?  Please?"]  Sorry...) as much "me" as my heart, mind or face?  Is this body and the "I" that I associate with it truly all that I am?  And will death really just come along one day and snuff the whole thing out?  Poof!  The thought of there being nothing after death does not so much frighten me as it just rings with utter absurdity in my ears (and in my essence).  It feels quite clear to me that my body is a very helpful instrument that gives my essence, my spirit if you will, a chance at a physical experience.  It also seems likely that a great deal is lost when so much energy is pushed into such a confined space (id est: forgetting that we are greater than this one life in this one body).  Part of the importance of actually believing in the importance of the self, and the body as an integral part of that self, could likely be that if we embraced the notion that we were far more than just these bags of bones we would perhaps forget to feed ourselves or to participate in the game of helping to create other bodies for other spirits to tuck into, like hermit crabs.  Okay great, but where is this all going?  Bear with me, here is where it becomes applicable to the body that calls itself Sam Keck Scott working at a Maltese Shipyard.  Let's begin a new paragraph, shall we?

There have been many times in my life when I have been hugely impressed by my species and all of the things it has been able to create.  On many occasions I have walked through cities and with neck craned upwards have gawked at the massive buildings that people, plain old people, have shot into the sky.  Fiber optic cables stretching across the ocean floors.  Traffic lights, bridges, postal delivery, cell phones!  There is this whole massive infrastructure that is happening non-stop and it is keeping our human world spinning, and it works!  It somehow works.  My musings of late have made me recognize that while all of this is going on, this highly functioning system, and I am using it and completely reliant upon it, I in no way have contributed to it.  People have made all of this stuff, but I have never made anything.  So here we all are standing on Planet Earth with our spirits living within bodies, and why?  Well, to put it quite simply: so we can move shit around.  Our ecstatic spirits are all too familiar with endless, all-knowing expansiveness, but from time to time they like to make a little trip downwards, take up residence, and be able to move shit around for awhile.  It can be useful on occasion to actually leave a mark, to make something, to push something over, to explore the physical aspects of the universe.  And finally, where this actually applies to me, and my current experiences: New paragraph?  Nah.  I am finally contributing!  That is how it applies to me.  I wake up every morning, head to the shipyard, and spend my whole day purposefully and strategically moving shit around, and eventually through my and our crew's efforts there will be a beautiful ship named Mir that floats the world's seas.  An actual product that our efforts brought forth into the world; a giant, steel, fruit of our labors.  And by contributing I am only referring to one aspect of our physical potential, and that is the actual construction of things using our bodies.  I have been contributing in other ways my entire life, as our bodies also give us the capacity to share ideas in a three dimensional world, to shake our booties, to experience enjoyment, satisfaction, pain and fathomless love.  

When I imagine death I see the body lying still and with the release of life comes an elliptical burst of opalescent energy that charges outwards in all directions.  It goes everywhere, mingles with everything and knows all (better than Jesus!).  Eventually when all of that blissful energy decides it has some earthbound business to attend to, it begins scuttling about, looking for some human syngamy to give it that perfect new shell to go move some more shit around.  Or something like that...