Saturday, September 26, 2009

Of Border Collies & Offensive Parrots

I live on a boat with two dogs and a verbally offensive parrot. Most of my friends have kids, and brag about them so I had to take a moment and introduce my little family of over achieving pets. It is funny that my choice of pets are breeds that are known for their intelligence, maybe I am over compensating for something?

aka: Mr. pants, Fig Newton, Hey You don't Eat That
Breed: Border Collie / rough coat
Age: 8 
Likes: guacamole, intense staring, swimming with harbour seals, travel, dark beer, any kind of Ball                      ( he suffers from B.A.D. ball Acquisition Disorder) he collects anything that is orb shaped, his                  G.W.  Bush chew toy, herding tourists, Sam Peckinpah movies, his backpack, raising money                    for UNICEF
Dislikes: Squirrels, pedicures, Nancy Grace, pooping in view of others, thunder/fireworks, high pitched                   voices

 I adopted Newton from a local shelter when he was 2. He is an amazing dog, loves everyone, fetches beer from the fridge, comes to work everyday with me. And enjoys walking the halls of my office on Fridays collecting money for UNICEF. He has raised over 4 grand so far. He has been a blessing in my life helping me thru the loss of my wife and my mental illness.

aka: no nicknames yet i just adopted him
Breed: Border Collie / rough coat
Age: 2
Likes: Shoes, swimming with other dogs at the beach, running laps on the boat, pickles, popcorn, belly               rubs, shaking paws, the taste of underwear, cats, intense staring ( it is a border collie thing)
Dislikes: brushing his teeth, not hogging the bed, the rubber bumpers on the boat, dogs in handbags
I just adopted Randell from a local border collie rescue, he so far is very sweet, very smart and likes to pose for pictures.

aka: the pornographic parrot, filthy bird, mr. chicken feet, mr. potty mouth
Breed: Yellow Naped Amazon
age 23
Likes: Screaming obscenities, the C-Word, breasts, eating pasta, dogs, going to the pub, offending                       Christians, talking back to the TV. watching the boats go by, treats at the office, the staff at the                   Korean BBQ up the street. giving tongue kisses
Dislikes: Being censored (when i cover his cage), sunglasses (he is an eye contact fellow), family values,
  Randell has a vocabulary of over 50 words and 30 sounds. he was taught his profanity not by me go figure but by his previous owner. his fav word is the C word which can be very awkward, and mother fucker, dirty whore, and shit bag. he also like to compliment women by saying they are pretty then he will laugh and depending on his mood call you a whore. He loves to cuddle and kiss and generally likes everyone. He loves dogs and will ride on Newtons back when we go for walk. He will not poop on you he will ask to go crap. For all his misogyny he is a wonderful companion.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cruise Ship Vacations Un-Censored Part 3 " Crew LIfe! Apartheid at Sea!"

You may have been on a cruise, watched the “Love Boat” or just wondered
what it is like for to work on a cruise ship. I have been asked by a lot
of people what it is like to work on a luxury cruise ship?
I am here to answer your questions with a un-censored and candid view
into living and working on these floating

They clean your cabins, feed you wonderful meals, play games with you
help you spend your money, and for most of the crew try and give you a
wonderful vacation experience. But the lives of these hardworking men
and women on board is not always a working vacation. Cruise lines flag
their vessels in countries like the Bahamas, Panama, Libra and other
flags of convince for the part to avoid labor laws and minimum wages.
The men and women come to work on these vessels for many reason, some
for work as their home nation may have high unemployment and they can
make a better living at sea. Others come for adventure and escape, and
some are hotel and marine professional. With this said life at sea can
be a floating apartheid system. Separating crew into casts is a tried
and true tradition at sea.
Here is a quick breakdown of this separation, pay, quality of shipboard
life and to some degree nationality.

Officers: Officers are the ships management and separated into
two departments;

 * Marine / Deck & Engine; These folks are responsible for the
navigation, safety, environmental and physical plant of the
ship. Most are graduates of Maritime schools with a 4 year
degree they are professional seamen. They tend to come from
specific countries that have contracts with the cruise line, but
this is changing quickly to lower costs (it is always about the
money see my previous posts). They work 2 to 4 months on the
ship and 2 months off. These lucky folks have private cabins
usually with a window or porthole, which come in handy to cheat
on their spouses with and sexually harass passengers. They are
allowed to relax in the passenger areas of the ship on their
time off. And can be frequently seen drinking in the ships bars
& discos especially on mass on formal nights.

* Hotel Department Officers: The resort / rooms / food and
beverage dept. This particular species also usually wears
uniforms and even if they just manage a lounge take the strips
they wear seriously in a veiled attempt to seem self important.
Some of these people are tasked with stripping you of your money
at every turn others to make sure the nice folks who clean your
room, feed you your midnight buffet, and keep the ship tidy work
frightening long hours, live in fear of retribution and yes
sexually harass them. They can also can be seen in the bars and
lounges of the ship as they have deck privileges on their time
off. Like the Deck Dept, Hotel officers have private cabins,
work 2 to 4 months on 2 months off. In port they can be found
enjoying the local flavor like prostitutes, bars and casinos.
Whilst some will just soak up the sun.
Note: Not every Officer rules like Napoleon or Tito, some are kind, fun,
hardworking and fair. I have some very close friends who work in some of these positions. I also know
some people who are racists, misogynists, or just should never be allowed to interact
with humans.

Staff: The staff you could say are the middle class of the shipboard
caste system. They include, the
giftshop attendants, spa staff, entertainers, photographers, kiddie
staff, cruise staff, musicians, techs, casino ect. This bunch of fun
lovers tend to come to sea for adventure, escape, healing from the
wounds of yet another failed relationship and for a chance for a job.
The staff, lives for drinking in the crewbar, drinking in the discos,
drinking in the lounges,drinking in the cabins,
drinking on the beach. They also love sharing sexual partners and STDS,
planning events. Some staff work onboard for 4 months others up to 8
months. No days off, no over time ( thank you flags of convince ).
Generally a fun loving crowd with various levels of greed and motivation
separate you from your money. They tend to come from countries that do
not offend the passengers, like Canada, UK, South Africa..

Crew: Crew sit on the bottom of the shipboard food chain.. and surprise
surprise they work the hardest. These are your, cabin stewards, waiters,
bartender, cleaner, cooks, dishwasher, etc. they tend to come from
economically challenged countries. So the crap wages that they send
religiously home to their family's each week seem pretty good in
comparison. And the six to 8 months they are away from home, while
sharing a cabin the size of a jail cell with no window, no access to
passenger areas of the ship when they are not working. They commonly
have to pay off the bosses for better work assignment, live in fear of
retribution from some hotel officers, and generally looked down on by
the passengers. These men and woman work very very hard and most love
their jobs and enjoy the passengers they work with. I have nothing but
respect for them have enjoyed their company and am disgusted by the
treatment they get.

So Isn't there an H.R. Dept on board? Yes there is but they are usually
ineffectual and protect their friends with many stripes on their
uniforms and ignore the plight of the crew . I witness a staff member
who claimed she was raped by a senior officer, get fired for her trouble
and the officer in question remained on the ship. So H.R. Is a placebo
in place to make the cruise lines look good.

I mentioned drinking is a major pastime on board, well when you work for
8 months with no real days off, you will get some port time off but
never a full 24hrs, drinking is all there is to do. The crew bar sells
drinks for around a buck a drink, and once a month the ship throws a
party for all the crew. Free drinks!!!. Not a good night for a ship wide

More on the caste system, besides contract lengths, and jobs there is on
some lines less opportunities for people to move up out of their caste.
Chances are your waiter will never be a food and bev. Manager. On some
there is outright racism. I was on a new crew orientation on a ship and
the Capt addressed some of his crew as his little boys who clean his

Bulling and protection are abound and ranges from mini shipboard mafias,
to power hungry middle management. You can not stuff all these people
from many cultures in tight spaces for along time while working and
living together and not expect some clashes. And incident of racism is
what eventually lead me to finally leave working on ships after the
accused was protected by his own nations co-workers.

As long as these cruise lines continue to flag of convince and the
public does not demand proper treatment for their employees these abuses
will continue, unabated.
Next installment of cruise lines un-censored “Passenger Antics”

Sunday, September 20, 2009

"If Online Dating Profiles Were True" pt1

oLike so many people i have jumped into the world of online dating. One of the problems are that pictures do not always match what the profile says. So i am making an effort in the name of public service to clear up these misunderstandings;
likes: my boobs, people looking at my boobs, inappropriate halter tops,  welfare checks, lurking for men on myspace.
Dislikes: Winter Clothes, Skinny Bitches!, using a fork, Jogging
Seeking: men who will respect me for who i am inside,,,NOT, you must worship my boobs
Likes: Overplayed Broadway Musicals, Felines, Mascot costumes, Litter Box sex play, my 22 cats
Dislikes: Myself, people with self esteem, dogs, taxes on face paint, mice
Seeking: blind men, guys who like scratching posts, boys with sandpaper tongues, a ball of twine
 Likes: naps, pillows, drool, pajamas, dream interpretation, counting sheep
Dislikes: stimulation, walking & talking, conversation, long walks in the park, coffee
Seeking: a man who likes to snuggle, guys with king sized memory foam beds, mutes
"The Realtor"
Likes: Seeing my photo on business cards & bus stop benches, Over priced condos, $15 Dollar martinis
Dislikes: Renters, the mortgage crisis, the homeless, pictures of me in the real world
Seeking: Men with 800 fico scores, guys with flipable homes, men who drive sports cars, a soul
" Milf for Sale" 
Likes: Seeming desperate, prostitution, cats, bad personal choices, working at payless shoes
Dislikes: being divorced, days that are not halloween, my self respect, lack of affordable sex toys.
Seeking: men who see my lack of self respect as a bonus
"Look At Me!!"
LIkes: my reflection, not having any marketable skills, sex with 20 year olds, UFC, Ed Hardy shirts,   Me, and Me. and bulimia
Dislikes: clothing, eating, people who read, cotton, snow, night clubs that make me wait in line, paying for my own drinks and blow.
Seeking: Men who drive BMWs, Porsches, Hummers, Men with barbed wire tattoos, men who have issues with women, sexy ex-cons. my daughters ex boyfriends

Next installment the men of personal ads! it is only fair


Saturday, September 19, 2009

"Gallstones & Denman Street" a tale of my innards

     Thursday my body welcomed two members of my family. Two lovely
gallstones, they arrived in a wave of pain, cold sweats and the
inability to enjoy porn on the Internet. Deciding that I needed to seek
medical help I tried to make it to my scooter. This was not happening or
safe so I thought car. Nope not a choice either. It took me 20 minutes
to get dressed so driving was out of the question. 911? should I or shouldn't I? The pain was growing and I called.

   Surprised that they had to transfer me on the phone. In 5 minutes I
heard the wail of the sirens. I thought crap what did I do, as 2
firetrucks and an ambulance arrived.
The nice Paramedics gave me Nitros Oxide for the pain.... Loved it!!. I
have not had any since doing whip its in High School and it took the
pain and my inhibitions away. To be honest I did not want the ambulance
to arrive and stop my gas induced nirvana.

They took me right in and soon I was hooked up to an ekg, an I.V. And
pumped with enough Morphine to bring down a herd of Robert Downy Jrs.
The doctor a very attractive woman did my exam. She had to to a rectal
exam...... Good thing I listened to my mum all those years and had on
clean undies. I also since she was going to preform some foreplay on me
I asked to see the size of her hands first. They were small so I relaxed
and took it like an inmate.

After a visit to the Ultra-Sound it is official I have 2 lovely bouncing
new baby Gallstones. I named them “John & Kate”. Why because no matter
where you look or go these days those two bring on pain.

I am a foodie. I love to eat, cook and discuss food. I blame the new
arrivals on my Neighborhood. I live in the West End of Vancouver. There
is a street called Denman St. It is a food orgy. The Caligula of dinning
establishments. I call it Lipid Strassa or Ru De Angina. Here is a brief
list of the gallstone manufacturing plant called Denman St.

   * Japanese Isakaya: there are at least 4 on this street & 10 in
  the area. Like a Japanese sports bar the food is mostly deep
  fried Asian goodness
  * Cupcakes: it draws me in with the giant butter cream cupcakes
  one is never enough and on more than 1 occasion I have eaten 8
  * Cream Puff Shop; another hideous large dessert full of creamy
  sweet crack.
  * La Doce: it is all chocolate from Hot Coco with fresh melted
  chocolate to cakes and cookies, it is a diabetics version of
  Dantes Inferno
  * Legendary Noodles: Hand mad Chinese noodle shop, words and
  cardiologists can not even explain
  * Many Swarama wrap places: God loves children and pressed meat
  spinning on a pole
  * Vera's Burger Shack; home to all things beef patty. My personal
  fav is the “The Doug Special” its a bypass inducing delight of;
  open faced, double meat, double cheese, double fried onions & a
  double scoop of chili.
  * Mr Pickwick's: Fish & Chips that make me feel like having sex
  with the Queen maybe even prince Charles.
  * Gelato: at least 3 of them as well
  * French Canadian Rotisserie Chicken: Poutine, Montreal Smoked Meat
  and Poultry * Dairy Queen
  I blame this street on the arrival of my gallstones, Fuck You, Denman
St. and I will be seeing you soon. I feel like a victim of domestic
violence I keep coming back for more.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Insomnia & The Things I Have Learned"

Sleep is a mystery to me, I have suffered from one form or another of Insomnia since my wife passed away. I used to think it was connected to my bi-polar, but soon I realized that when I am Manic i do not sleep at all. Now I sleep around 3 to 4 hours a night.  Not to mention extreme difficulty falling asleep. I have tried everything, from yoga to pills. I stopped the pills due to the fact that no matter what they say, they can be addicting, and they make every thing taste like the rusty bumper off an old ford.
 Today I just go with it, I sleep when my body and mind says sleep you jack ass. I have learned much in the nocturnal world here are a few;

  • Infomercials: I know them all, and at times have felt the urge to buy a bowflex, or a slap chop. But i know that the bowflex will become a 2 grand clothes rack and the slap chop will make me want to kill the shame wow guy. I also really want one of those old people bath tubs with a door. But now that I own a boat that is out of the question.  
  • Sleeping Habits of Dogs: I have studied the sleeping habits of my dog "Newton" He talks in his sleep ( i think he is chasing squirrels) and he wakes up every hour to inspect the boat to make sure no interlopers are aboard. He walks the same route every time and always brings his stuffed G.W. Bush doll to bed with him.
  • Food: I live in downtown Vancouver and there are no diners like in NY. There is a Denny's but I can not bring myself to eat there unless I am drunk ( and then I only order Moons over my Hammy) or it is my B-day and I get a free meal. I also have a 7-11 up the st. and the clerk will always give me free pizza and slurpies. 
  • Road Trips: Late night road trips are fun, the roads are empty and I can get to the 24 hour Target in Bellingham Washington pretty quickly, there are never lines at the border at 3 am.
  • Wandering the hood: I do this alot and I have learned that skunks rule the west end of Vancouver, and that the Mcdonalds has late night shopping cart parking for the local homeless.
  • Productivity: I am very productive because of my added hours, I write, surf the net, do some mundane work crap, organize my sock drawer, and of all things ironing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

" A whole Lot of Crazy" my Life with Bipolar Disorder

Time To Talk Crazy!

Yup I am crazy, a lot of you know that by now, my rants on line, dedication to all things badger abuse and penchant for seeing the weirdness in the world. This talent or curse depending on your tolerance to nuts has been both a blessing and curse for me. You see I am not just nuts in the Steve is eccentric kinda way. I am a man living with Bipolar Disorder. Not an easy thing to discuss on such an open forum like the interwebs, or on first dates for that matter but I am very open about my madness and no longer carry any shame in it. You could say that my crazy is ok and I am ok with my crazy. It has not always been this easy............

Bipolar Disorder: lets start with the science here is the description from the DSM IV the official medical guide to crazy!

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive disorder or bipolar affective disorder, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated mood clinically referred to as mania or, if milder, hypo-mania. Individuals who experience manic episodes also commonly experience depressive episodes or symptoms, or mixed episodes in which features of both mania and depression are present at the same time. These episodes are usually separated by periods of "normal" mood, but in some individuals, depression and mania may rapidly alternate, known as rapid cycling. Extreme manic episodes can sometimes lead to psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. The disorder has been subdivided into bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, and other types, based on the nature and severity of mood episodes experienced; the range is often described as the bipolar spectrum.

Ok fun with science translations;

Psychiatric Diagnosis: you start behaving odd and doctor asks you question and voila! You are officially nuts ( this is very traumatic the first time you hear it and took me years to get my squirrelly little mind around)

Mood Disorder: sounds to the lay person and sane just like it says, my moods were disordered, happy, sad, angry, confused, all out of my control and too the most part early on or when I am really sick invisible to me. I just know something is not right. It is also a classification of mental illness as seen above and in the Holy DSM IV.

Mania: Bring on the big lunacy, Mania is a elevated mood state, for me, and many others it includes loss of sleep or total loss of sleep, ( if you don't sleep for a week things get very, very, weird very very fast) Impassivity, i.e. spending way too much money, gambling, really heavy drinking, sex ,sex ,sex, and more sex, and other risky behaviors like my personal favorite poking badgers with sticks and waving fried food and pain killers in front of Rush Limbaugh.

Depression:The Crash and Burn! Mania cant last for long your body just cant take it so soon you settle into depression, sleeping, not leaving the house, not bathing ( my personal best while depressed was 3 months no washy), more drugs and booze, loss of interest in everything, even badgers.

The others are bits and parts think of them as the extras on the mobile phone plan of insanity some of us have them some don't.


I am a bipolar I, the more severe of which I was finally diagnosed with 7 years ago after many wrong diagnoses and a lot of emotion pain to me and the people who cared about me. I truly believe I have been sick all my life in hindsight I can see it now but could not for along time. I have spent weeks with no sleep, spent over 10k in one day on crap . Wrote a poem that was 200 pages. I have tried to kill myself twice. And a whole lot of other stuff.
I am creative, I write, I paint and draw, take pictures ect. It is a common theme in bipolars a lot of very cool and smart people have and had a penchant for Loco here is a short list;

Jim Carey
Rosemary Clooney, singer
Robert Downey Jr.
Patty Duke
Carrie Fisher
Connie Francis, singer and actress
Vivien Leigh
Kevin McDonald, comedian
Kristy McNichols
Burgess Meredith, actor, director
Ben Stiller, actor, director, writer
Tracy Ullman
Robin Williams
Jonathon Winters, comedian

Most people have never been in a Psychiatric hospital. Nor would have wanted to be so I will shed a little light on them and the treatment you get. I have been hospitalized 9 times in my life for my acute case of nuts. Seven of these were of the voluntary variety whereas I knew I was in deep trouble and asked for help and twice because others thought that I could use a little time at the “Mind Spa & Ranch”. Hospitals vary in quality and amenities like spas. They thankfully in North America are no longer like the ones you see on t.v. and film.
Are there rubber rooms, well yes! Are there screaming people, sometimes. But for the most part they are pretty much like other hospital wards if the other wards had locked doors. You eat communally like some kind of dysfunctional Amish restaurant. Nurses chase you around to give you little pills, and you watch shit loads of bad television. Lets not forget the amusement of watching your fellow spa mates.


1.Pills: I have over the years taken more pills than Kieth Richards & Hunter S. Thompson combined. Most, make you crave carbs and fried food and also lower your metabolism to that of a three toed sloth of Xanex. I went from a attractive 32 inch waist to Jabba The Hut in a few months. They switch your meds a lot, til they find what works. I am currently on 2 meds that do not cause weight gain and midnight trips for deep fried pasta.

2.Let's Chat: Therapy more the most part is moot. Psychiatric Drs. ( who yes like the stereotype to tend to implie have a larger proportional amount of beard than other doctors) do not talk to you long they give you pills* (* see above). Social worker talk to you. I am convinced that most social workers wear mom jeans or hippie hemp clothing and they tend to wear large jewelery that they got at a local art fair. They also had traumatic childhoods so now they want to save the world or they came from very wealthy families and want to help the needy whilst giving a big Fuck You to their daddies and “The Man”. You go to see a therapist to heal the damage that your crazy has left on you, your family and friends. This takes years.

3.ELECTRICITY: Most of you have seen “ One Flew over the Cookoo's Nest” when Jack gets electo shock treatment and then is turned into a brussel sprout. They still offer this treatment. For years they stopped. It was seen and was cruel in it's present form. Now it is reborn safer, painless and it really works. I have had 9 ECT ( eclectro-convulsive-treatments). When offered I freaked, with visions of either being smothered by a large Indian with my pillow in a mercy killing ( it is a cookoo's nest reference) or wandering around postulating on the meaning of belly button lint for the rest of my life. After some good old education I decided to give it a try. They take you to the recovery room of the hospital, give you some muscle relaxer and a general anesthetic and next you wake up. While you are asleep they pass electricity across your brain causing a seizure. This reboots your brain, like a computer. I noticed a difference immediately. After 8 treatments I had little or no mania and no depression. I have been thanks to this on less medication, and very very healthy. I am thankful for this treatment.

My Mental Illness has taken away a lot from me, friends, lovers family it was a blight on my life keeping me always just out of reach of my potential. Now thanks to amazing professionals and my own growth I am successful, healthy and happy. I accept who I am, like who I am and embrace my nuttiness. I am who I am partially due to my mind and I will not deny that. To do so would sell myself and others who have gone before me and who come after me a great disservice.
No longer should we look down on people who live with Mental Illness, when 10% of the worlds humans suffer from chronic Mental Illness and 30% at some time will suffer. So next time you see that guy talking to no one, please do not laugh. Some Mentally Ill are very very sick and may never have what you and I see as a normal life. They are being trapped in their own minds.
Be well everyone...... And always embrace your inner crazy...........

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Packing list for a Disturbed TVJournalist"

I am off the Uganda for work I guess once again it is getting weird in this tropical paradise.....
Having been traveling like this to non tourist destinations for years now I have perfected my packing list based on climate both political and environmental, chances of being shot, ability to obtain comfort items and chances of catching something that will either make my dick fall off, bugs grow under my skin, shit myself for weeks, or some other hideous aliment that seems to enjoy living in Africa and inflicting pain on visiting Canadian Alcoholically inclined Jews.
This is my time proven list;

  1. Luggage: No time for Hermes or those huge hard side luggage that all the ESL students from japan seem to use. My sturdy north face rubberized duffel (doubles as a body bag or body parts bag) My Osprey Backpack with Canadian flag sewn on and PRESS in big letters, Laptop bag and Camera bag.

  2. Electronic toys: (Not my Fleshlight I leave that at home) 1 Blackberry Bold, 1) i-phone for twittering, music 1) Iridium 9505A Satellite Phone since Cell phone coverage is spotty at best in africa ( can you hear me now local despot or war lord) l.e.d headlamp and flashlight. 1)Macbook pro (never leaves hotel or is shown in public) 1) Panasonic Tough Book ( you can beat people with these in the water while in a sand storm and still see facebook updates, truly brilliant). 1) digital point and shoot. ( can be used as bribe to local police )

  3. Personal Stuff: You have to be careful here as I know I am known to over pack but some things you just don't leave home without. 2 toothbrushs in case one touches anything other than my mouth. 5 rolls of flattened toilet paper ( my tender butt needs luxury) 1 bottle of Imodium for the watery poo that will always appear. 1) leatherman tool, 1) carbon flick knife. I used to bring deodorant but soon realized that it is way tooo hot and humid and the smell of it attracts bugs see hideous ailments in above paragraph. 2 pairs of sunglasses, 2 pairs of reading glasses, 2 pairs of shot glasses ( you never know) 1 Cheap wrist watch, 1 fake Rolex or brietling ( for bribery reasons) sunblock, condoms not lubricated ( for my blackberry and i-phone silly , even I am not stupid enough to have casual sex in Africa). Various pain killers and anti-botics, and a small first aid kit.
    Clothing or Dressing the news Monkey:
    Clothing choice is important, remember that Africa is well Africa hot, dogs spontaneously combust on the streets from the heat and it is so humid that you almost need gills instead of lungs. I avoid any brand names, you can get killed for some labels and for others like Ed hardy should be killed. So no Kenneth Coles tux for me.
    4 Mountain hardware convertible pants, less like a drop top more like shorts and pants they are spants! (Nothing in or little in cotton it wets wet and stays wet) 4 Mountain hardwear shirts. 4 pairs of lovely merino wool undies to keep the boys dry and cool, 10 pairs of smart wool socks, (smart wool makes the best socks in the world and in the US as well) a couple of tee shirts, tube webbing belt that can be used as a tourniquet if I or someone else loses a much loved limb. And a tilly endurable's hat ( it is a trademark of Canadian traveling everwhere) Footwear, very very important especially in air that has the consitancey and smell of bad chicken soup. 1 pair of Solomen hiking boots, 1)pair of soloman gortex trail trainers, one pair of keen sandals, and finally flip flops for the showers, if there are any again see above paragraph for bugs and aliments. If there are showers one never knows.
    Extras & Safety;
      Things I bring for my little remaining sanity, and or the kids. It is all about the kids isn't it? 1royal blue flak jacket with PRESS on front and back and 1 Kevlar helmet in case the locals go loco. 1) waterproof thumbdrive with my passport info and contact info, 1) set of dog tags, I am O+ if anyone cares. Water proof matches, and a lighter 2 Novels for my third world country reading pleasure. And my water filter with nalgene bottle
      For the kids I always bring lots of pens, pencils, notebooks, and a few solar calculators and wind up radios. I also bring a chargeable small photo printer so I can take pictures of the kids and give them the photos.
    This list does not include all the TV equipment
    So I personally travel with around 150lbs for my American friends and 68 kilos for the rest of the world and to my backwards English friends almost 11 stones. I have it down to a science, no extras no fluff, and nothing that I cannot leave in an instant if I need to. Packing for the airport is important as I do not like body cavity searches no matter what my friend Barney says.....
    So next time you travel, and I hope you all will. Do not get stressed about what to bring on your trip to Europe or Florida. You most likely can pack everything you think you need and still not fill up my bags.
    Next; my trip to Uganda

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cruise Ship Vacations Un-Censored Part Duex “Oh those wonderful ports of call”

Cruise Ship Vacations Un-Censored Part Duex “Oh those wonderful ports of call”

In my last post I discussed the fleecing of cruise lemming and how to avoid the end of cruise sticker shock. Now it is time to delve into those wonderful glamorous ports of call you will or will not be stopping at.
Everyone loves travel it helps us spool down from our frazzled lives of, selling stuff, getting other people to sell stuff, making stuff to sell, keeping people from dying so they can buy stuff and best of all buying stuff for ourselves. All the while, finding your kids, finding your kids covered in unknown and known substances, keeping your kids from trying to feed your Prozac to the dog. All this stress and in your ten minutes of down time you see a vision on T.V., a island deep blue water, white sand beaches, sexy people in small swim wear. You say to yourself, “I deserve to be there”. And you do so you book a cruise. But in your delirious haze of life you forget what you see it not always what you get.

Ports of call: The fleecing dose not end on board for the cruise lines they extend their slimy tentacles ashore as well. They may have already hit you up for a catamaran and snorkel trip for a
$100.00 bucks of which they make 50.

How does the cruise line pick a port, you ask? There are a couple reasons one is the most expected, a pretty place where people will pay you to take them at 30MPH. The others are yup you guessed it, does the port offer ways for them to make more cash.

Here is how it works;

  1. Ships look for ports with low port fees formulated by how long it takes to get there (fuel is expensive) mixed with lots of tour operators so they can continue to make money snd popularity.

  2. Safety- which is weighed from country to country depending on profits to be made

  3. Feral Dogs don't laugh I noticed a correlation between the amount of ships in a port and the number of feral dogs.

  4. When the above is not enough they buy a small island, (I.e. Coco Cay, ) where it is staffed by cruise line staff and all profits for activities and drinks goes right back to the ship.

  5. Do they own the docks? (the industry has spent billions on building docks and port facilities filled with contracted duty free shop. Bars, and questionable dinning establishments that they get 30% of all sales.

  6. You will see on board a person called the “port and shopping guide” or “Port Lecturer” they are not employees of the cruise line they are hired marketing spokesmen and women for contracted shops and restaurants in port. They make a lot of money. I know I was one. I averaged 4000 a week in commissions. They will spew the virtues of shopping in port and some of them are real good deals other meh!

Caribbean Ports! “The Long , Short & Ugly List”

Cozumel Mexico: first on the list and the largest cruise ship destination port in the world. More than 1100 ships a year, that is an average of 21 ships a day dumping an average of 22,000 people most of which wearing matching tee shirts. Cozumel is only 28 miles long and really only has one city San Miguel. The beaches you see on tv are far away requiring you to take a shore package from the ship or fend for yourselves by taxi. Other wise all you will see is jewelry shops, taco stands, clothing stores and bar full of really really drunk cruise ship passengers dancing topless well past the age you want to see people dance topless. ( Carlos & Charlies or Senior Frogs)

Grand Cayman: Ahh even the sound of it oozes rich and famous, because it is. Cayman is home to a lot of off shore banks ( where the executives from A.I.G., BNY, Leman Bros hide their money) and internet casinos. Small is not an has no natural source of fresh water. So why was it inhabited in the first place. So people can leave money there. Granted it has some of the best diving in the world and the water is amazing but it has no soul. American chain restaurants or turtle burgers ( yes real sea turtle) If you order a burger in grand cayman and don't specify beef or ham you get turtle. It also has all the same shops as your last port. Hmmm confidence I don't think so. Also the worst part is it is too shallow to dock. So you ship anchors off shore and if the waves are no too big have little boats called tender come and whisk you away to shore. This Battan death march can take hours as the people who pay for tours get off first and everyone else clogs the stairwells like a cheeseburger in Oprah's arteries, waiting to get off. And if it is a bit windy and the seas are up? Sorry you dont get to leave the ship port canceled. This happens around a little over half the time. The cruise line does not care it is just more on board revenue for them and they will only refund half of your tour fees.

Belize City, Belize:
Belize it or not this place is a dangerous shit hole. The ship due to shallow water is another tender port. The tender takes 30 minutes to get to the heavily fenced / guarded and armed port.
Belize is also home to some amazing rainforests and the closest place in the world to a city to see wild jaguars. You again will notice the same shops as the last two ports I am sensing a theme happening.

Ochos Rios, Jamacia:
No beaches near the port the downtown is not safe, same shops as other ports yawn..........

St. Kitts:
Wooo Hooo now we are talking, stunning beaches great people a real lack of contracted shops a true caribbean paradise. My recommendation take a cab to the south of the island to the monkey bar and beach. Real monkeys run wild( you cen get them drunk as well as feed them) cows on the beaches and roads what more could you ask for to forget your recession stress back home.

Avoid like the plague, dirty, rude and at the same lattitude as south carolina, so save your money and go to hilton head instead.

Key West:
It is florida and 90 miles from Cuba, no real beaches but lots of bars, gay pride parades and way too many hemmingway shlock. But if you like to party it is fun, if you like hemmingway visit his house and see the decentants of his polydactal cats (six toed cats they are sweet and weird at the same time. Also unlike the other places and feral dogs Key West is full of feral roosters. I know WTF but they are everywhere. Lots of free roaming Cock. Maybe that is why it became the gay riveria. They arrived and said shit bob said cocks I didnt think he ment poultry.

So that is my line up for the Caribbean. Full of hard to find beaches, identical shops which give money right back to the cruise ships and feral dogs. Stay tuned for pacific paradise from the sea in part 3.

Part 3 Coming soon: “Pacific Paradise or Ports of Poo?”

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cruise Ship Vacations Un-Censored part 1

Thinking of taking a luxury cruise to exotic ports of call? Dream of all you can eat buffets and vegas style stage shows? Being pampered by wonderful staff who cater to your every whim? If you do not want your dream vacation bubble burst leave here and head right on down to your local travel agent because I am about to reveal the real cruise ship vacation experience, un-edited, unfiltered or fluffed ( not in the porn film fluffing sense that would be just wrong.) The Good, The Bad and the Ugly truly ugly side of cruising today.

About my experience and provenance for writing this blog;

  1. I have worked for 4 different cruise lines, owned by two different cruise companies

  2. I have held 5 different positions on-board modern cruise ships

  3. 4 years of cruise ship experience with an average contract time of 4 months on 2 months off.

  4. Over 100 different ports of call

  5. over 7 grand in booze and cigarettes spent on-board when drinks are a buck and smokes are a buck fifty.

  6. Sailed in 3 major hurricanes ( 2 of which were Katrina, and Wilma) 1 on-board homicide, 3 crew overboards 8 passenger over boards and 2 rafts of Cubans.

A brief History of Cruising:
We all have seen “Titanic” and or the “The Love Boat” saw the romance, the luxury, the horrible Kathy Lee Gifford commercials. Cruising changed in the seventies from a way to transport people transcontinental to a destination travel experience, thanks to cheap and fast commercial air travel.
The First to figure out that people would want to float on a hotel for days gorging themselves and staring at locals in far away ports like animals in a zoo where, Royal Caibbean Cruise lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Princess Cruise Lines, Holland American Lines, and everyone's Favorite Carnival Cruise Lines.
These were ships with endless parties, food, and promises of romance and adventure. These halcyon days did not last long. In the 90's things began to change.It became all about on-board Revenue, how to separate you from your money while you are on the ship. I was directly involved in these activities in all but one of my on-board jobs and as senior management, I was responsible for the  removal on money  and was very good at it.


You see that great ad in the paper for a 5 day cruise for 199.99 in the paper and go “Wow, a 5 day vacation for 200 bucks that is 40 bucks a day!”. Yes and No here is why;

  1. This does not include taxes port fees (which depending on the third world country you visit can range from 20 bucks to 200 bucks a port)

  2. Yes the food is free, kinda, let me explain. The main dining room is free, the buffet is free, burgers and junk food on the pool deck is free. The specialty restaurants are  usually charging a cover from 10 to 50 bucks a head. Now they are even charging for room service after 11pm.

  3. Drinks are free! Again kinda, water (not bottled, trust me you don't want to drink the tap water read more about this later), coffee (not Seattles best that is extra) tea and juice is free. Pop, Soda, wine, beer and booze you pay for.

  4. Tipping some cruise lines include tips but not the average ones the 10k a week ones yes. So at least 10 dollars a day for your cabin steward, another 15 a day for your server and asst. server.

The Golden Fleecing!:
Here is how we separate you and your hard earned recession money. And we are better at it than Bernnie Madoff after a 8 ball of premium blow. Here is the true rundown.
I was in charge of on-board revenue for a ship, my job was to make the cruise profitable. The moment we pull away from our home port I knew just how much each passenger had to spend each day for the ship to make a profit, each man, woman and child.I was called (PPD Per Passenger Per Day) I knew how many times you have cruised, what cabin you are in, where you are from, and at any time what you are spending your money on. I knew just how many bottles of Corona I had to sell, or how many massages and facials I needed to push. When you board you are given a key card called a a-pass (each line gives it a special name, like “Sea Pass, or “Sign and Sail”. In short this is your photo id, charge card and room key all in one. It is also my little window on your wallet. I can see at any moment what you are spending your money on and, how many times you have cruise, cabin, and if you are on the ship or not.
Armed with this info we do the following;

  1. Drink specials at certain times in certain bars during certain activities to drive booze sales.
    (don't try to bring your own booze on-board we x-ray everyone's bags and remove said booze and intern it in the naughty room *Real Name)
    Ships make 50% of their profit on Booze

  2. The Casino; blackjack tournaments, poker, slots. On-Board Casino slots payout way less than their shore based brothers and sister. Laws of the sea are different than laws on land. I feel like a pirate now.

  3. The Spa: what woman does not want to be pampered on vacation. The markup at the Spa is over 800% and the staff are forced to push over priced skin care product. We target you ladies before formal night for up doos and facials and yes now you men with onboard barbers. On some ships we even had acupucture, botox and teeth whitening.....Hear the money leaving your kids college fund yet?

  4. Shore Tours! Just because you are leaving the ship does not mean we dont get your money!
    Take a tour most of which pretty much suck. Expect to spend $50 to $500 for a few hours of touristness joy and sometimes sorrow. (more on that later)

  5. Do You Live to Shop! Are you a shop-a-holic.looking for great duty free buys on-board well we will bombard you with retail opportunities the second you set foot on the good ship lollipop.
    The shops on-board promise you with great deals on designer baubles and bright shiny objects. You will be drawn into them like a magpie to key fob.So Moose are there deals on-board? Yes there are but you have to be smart. Remember I am watching your every financial move. Watches, Booze, and handbags are good buys at very good prices. Stay away from the $10 store it is a floating $1 store with products made by 5 year olds in some of the countries you may be visiting on your cruise. I actually know some gift shop workers who have gotten sick from the chemical fumes coming off these products in the ships store rooms.

    DO NOT BUY FINE JEWELRY ON THE SHIP! It is crap and over priced the really good stuff is on shore. I will talk about that later. We have trunk sales, VIP sales, jewelery unveilings all to separate you from your money. Ads in the ships daily paper, ads over the ships P.A. System, Pushed at shows and events by your friendly greedy cruise director. And endlessly looped on your cabin T.V. (Think of it as The Stockholm Syndrome)
    One last thing in the shops to avoid at all costs! INCH OF GOLD, it is not gold and will turn faster than th French army in WW Two. (The shop staff call it “inch of mold & “inch of shit”, and hate selling it. They would rather mine salt in Siberia in a speedo than sell it.


he Ship and it's Crew!:

Today's ships are a far cry from the steamers of old ( Not to be confused with a Boston Steamer if you don't know what that is google it but do not blame me for what you see). They are now designed to separate you from your money in style and sensory overload. Ships today have, discos, karaoke bars, a plethora of pools, spas (see above fleecing), ziplines, climbing wall, mini golf and every activity under the sun. These are the fun parts.

  1. Cabins; vary from inside no windows prison sized rooms to multi-floored suites with your own butler. The skies the limit. I suggest a balcony room so you can escape our constant need to take your money and relax. Your cabin steward or stewardess with clean and put down your bed 3 times a day ( it is amazing how hard these people work) and leave wonderful towel origami on your bed everyday

Crew breakdown:

Capt: The master of the vessel and usually a drunk and cheating on his wife. (One Capt I knew died of alcohol poisoning the night before a all capt meeting in Miami). He does not care about you personally, his job is the sail the ship safely and save money on fuel. Really just an administrator with a permission to touch you in your special places.

Staff Capt: He or she is actually the working boss on board. Runs the navigation, safety and discipline on board. He does not care about you either.

Hotel Director / Chief Purser: They run the hotel end of the ship and all the hotel staff and crew They only want your money and want you to come back and give him or here more of your money. They get huge bonuses. Some hotel dir. Make upwards of 600k a year and that is 4 months on two months off.. They too are usually drunks and cads. If you want something demand to speak to the hotel director. HINT: see him after 2pm when he is drunk you will get what you want.

Cruise Director: Julie from the “Love Boat: no, Tacky sweet used car sales man / sleezy lounge act who can relieve you of your last dime while making you swoon YES. This particular breed of cruise ship personality spent way too many years failing as a actor, dancer, singer or comedian and traded their souls for easy cash and a never ending supply of young male dancers and Filipino cabin boys. They are the lowest on any ship board moral scale and usually incredibly narcissistic and can be seen preening in every mirror on the ship        ( and there are tons), looking at their own head shots, going on about all the failed shows they we on, or pressing you with their fake smiles. Cruise directors can make upwards of 200k a year by emptying your wallet.
Do not trust them, believe them or remain alone with one alone in a non-glass elevator.

Cruise Staff: The minions of the Cruise Director, they run all the activities on board and all hope to someday become as greasy and fake as the boss and will generally stab each other in the back more than anyone on “Big Brother”. The girls will only sleep with someone on board who can get them ahead or has a single cabin with room service and big bed, regardless of age, looks, martial status or species. The Boys if they are straight are raving drunks and will sleep with your daughters at any given chance. They are usually not social climbers but are spending their time onboard escaping life ashore for cheap booze, sun and third world prostitution.
The Boys of the gay variety will sleep with your sons, production dancers and claw their way into the bosses seat at every given chance.

The rest of the Crew;

They are hard working, extremely hard working people from a average of 56 countries trying to make a living. Most enjoy there work and you. They usually work for 8 months on the ship with no day off.and share a cabin that is as small as most American prison cells. Service staff live or die by tips so please take care of them. I love and respect most of the ones I have worked with.

What the Crew does when they are not working:

They get stinking drunk, months of working with no day off in small cramped quarters. We drink every night because it is cheap a buck a drink or shot and twice a month a party that is free to drink. We sleep with each other like Mormon rabbits. It gets very incestuous. I promise you that. If there is ever a accident on board you better hope it is during the day because at night all bets are off. I have personally drank so much that I passed out on my toilet.

Thinking of cruising? It is better to know what you are getting yourself into it can be a fun and exciting experience that you will remember for years or a financial hell.

In Part 2 Shore Side Fun and Ports of Call.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Sense of Gratitude Washes Over Sarcastic Me

"Gratitude" not a word a lot of people think about daily, we are caught up in our daily lives running here and there worrying about what ever lurks in our present, past and future like so many over caffeinated harpies.
So in breaking from my usual sarcastic self I decided to write about what I am Grateful for in hopes some of you will as well!
  • My Health: Not long ago I faced never being able to walk again. I will not get into it but today I walk, run (once my knee is healed) dance, and yes allow my feet to take me sometimes where every they want (try it sometime it is truely amazing what you will actually see). I also have a fun little thing called Bi-Polar disorder. For years I struggled with this blip in the miss matched chemicals in my brain. Today with the help of medication, family and a fantasic DR. I no long stay up for weeks on end behaving badly. I have learned that my BPD gave me a great gift of creativity, emotion, and paitence. I do not regret nor am I angry that I have this. Think of it as "Mad Pride". I did'nt care for the electroshock therapy but hey it really helped me turn the corner.
    So today I am grateful that I am alive and Happy.
  • My Family: Most of us have family, we love them, cherish them and because they are family sometime forget to be grateful of them. Some of you have met my Parents, my Mum who was at times a real nag but never, never gave up on me. She had a quiet strength that I never really understood til she was dying. She taught me there is dignity in life and Imperfection. That there is truly unconditional love even without the biological connection. (this i struggled with them for many years and now am at peace with) She was a subliminal teacher who's lessons I only leaned or understood once I was married and I am still learning today.
    My Father who is going strong at 85 a man who sacrificed so much for us. A real gentle kind man whose only wish for me was happiness. Never an emotional man yet always was able to display a great deal of love for the people around him. We for years butted heads and at some time in the 90's we became friends, equals and now share a very close and connected relationship with each other. All families have warts and irritants but look past them and see the love and what they teach us everyday. Today I am grateful for everything my family gave me warts and all. I am who I am because of you.
  • Friends: What can I say here from my close friends here in Vancouver to my old friends and newly rediscovered friends. You have all given me so much more than I can ever repay. i will name a few, Al, we have not seen each other in years but you were for me the closest thing to a brother anyone could ever ask for. You were always there for me when I needed you. Quietly I am so proud of you and your family, and your own personal journey. Eric, you too I have sadly not seen in years but I owe you my humor and sense of adventure that with out knowing you i doubt I would have today. Thank You. Joe just like Eric you have added so much in my life and the life of others around you. Some of my newer friends Gary my favorite Queen, you saved me when J.J. was sick and dying your unselfishness and continued support and sick sense of humor is a daily joy to witness. And to one of my friends from across the pond, Barney my sick partner in the circle of darkness the only man other than me that can stream profanity and pure smut yet remain a true English gentleman. You are an amazing talent, I brag about you to everyone and warn everyone woman I know as well. Even though some people thought we were lovers. If I was to accept a man into me it would be your freakishly small turtlenecked cock. (sorry to my readers it is the just the way I we talk to each other. Barney we suffered on that hell ship together with humor and lots of booze. i am greatful to have you in my life. For everyone please visit Barney's site and listen to his music at, you wont be disapointed. To everyone else in my life who adds to the tapastry of my life thank you, thank you and I love you all, but not as much as I love Barney and Goats.
  • Canada: The country I was born, not where I was raised yet yearned for for years. Canada is a wonderful social experiment that works, a cultural mossaic compared to the U.S.'s cultural melting pot. A country still wild the second largest country in the world with a population less than the metro NY area. We value human rights, the arts our Aboriginal peoples and beer. Our money is different colours and our national animal is a beaver for christ sakes. We created the Trailer park Boys, Velco, and way too many great comedians to mention. We can laugh at ourselves, burn our flag if we want to, smoke weed, and gay marrage is legal, actually the first gay marrage here was on a millitary base! I love my redisovered country and as the theme goes I am greatful to live in canada.
  • Vancouver: This odd little city I live in. After living in NY living in a city that you can walk across downtown in 20 minutes each way was a bit odd. But soon I was taken in my the abstract beauty of this place. There are few places in the world that you can ski and play golf on the same day. A place where you have access to a Hermes store and grizzley bears within 30 miles of each other. Sure it rains pretty much from Oct to May but it is a small price to pay to live in such an amazing natural world. I am greatful for Vancouver giving me a sense of physical place in the world, a view I never get tired of and really really bad drivers.
You may have noticed that I did not mention anything really material that i am greatful for. That is not what makes my life what it is. It is only a glaze on the preverbial bearclaw I call my life. With out the stuff written above i would not have had the experiences i have in my life and continue to stuff comes and goes but being able to see the world around me and my place in it is what I am truely greatful for today.
Now I can go back to to my sarcastic self for a few days

Are We a World Full of Sheeple?

 Media has had a double effect on us, everything is there right in front of us in some perverted version of a consumer peep show. Info on demand, news as it happens, google, twitter, facebook, blackberries, i-phones homes with multiple computers and 100 yard HD televisions has given us a view of the world that our parents never had. A teen in California text messaged of 14000 texts in one month (yes folks not a typo 14k that is close to a average of 450 texts a day) no wonder no one reads books anymore and newspapers are dying. I am a tech geek what some people call an early adopter yet I still love to sit with a real newspaper in my hand with a smoke, a non organic over processed cup of coffee and a lard fried donut.
 The issue is not technology it is what we have allowed it to make us into. I see couples walking down the street holding hands and each listening to their own individual i-pods. Miscreants talking on cell phones while at the counter at the bank. Not to mention texting while driving.
The constant cacophony of media images bombard us like the solar winds. We know more about John and Kate than we do about local government. Photoshop has created a pandemic of false body image ( just look what they did to Kelly Clarkson on the SELF Magazine cover)
She is not that skinny! We believe the Toyota Prius is environmentally better than other cars because they put flowers and deer in their ads when the environmental impact of the prius is huge due to the battery manufacturing / strip mining needed to make them when the lowly VW TDI diesel is actually less polutting and has better mileage.
 We shop at Whole Foods (whole paycheck) because we want to eat healthier when we can source the same healthy food from local growers and butchers. But they don't give us cute shopping bags that let other people know we can afford to shop at whole foods. Not quite as sexy as Fred's Butcher shop or Hung's Grocery bags. Starbucks was the beginning of this food status trend.
So this brings me to another of our modern life social networking. It all started with MySpace a place where bad bands could push their drivel on who ever wandered by, and by 50 year old men pretending to be 14 year old girls. The next evolution is facebook which I am a avid user. It started as a great place to catch up with old friends, market new ideas share news but not anymore. Now it is a bloated tool for marketers who use our addiction to virtual pillow fights, and virtual drinks to data mine us for more targeted ads. I like the surveys and such myself, so i am just as much of a sheep as anyone else. i just miss people  talking about stuff and sharing ideas. Remember when Obama used facebook to help him get elected?
 Now my mistress is Twitter, all you want to or need to say in 6o characters or less. quick easy fast and simple. The student uprising in Iran this year was reported primarily from twitter. You can even interact with Celebrities on twitter I know I do. It helps to bring down the walls of society that the internet started to when it was like the wild west. I fear soon the wal-marts and Starbucks of the world will ruin that as well.
 In some ways the Internet and new media has made us smarter, more connected, and in other ways dumber and lazier. The fact that more people have seen more varieties of LOL cats than Renoir or Gauguin disturbs me to no end or the fact that people watch shows like, American Idol, So you think you can dance, and alot of other dribble when we lack original music, film and culture is just proof that we have become a land of Sheeple being herded around by the border collies of Madison Ave. BAAAAHHHHHHH!