Monday, October 30, 2006

"Otis, take the gentleman's cape."

Is it a nerd? Is it a lame?
I went to a Halloween party on Saturday night. I'd only been invited on Thursday, so it was a bit late to start making a robot cosutme out of tin-foil or something, however, cheap t-shirt from Target, some nerdy glasses, a bit of black hair colour in a can and a shirt and tie (model's own) did the job. This photo was taken with my camera phone, which is pretty crap in the dark . Other cameras were present, so you may get some better photos later in the week. Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 27, 2006

End of the tour

Tomorrow I leave the barge and start my journey home. I've been on the boat for 3 weeks and seen just a small section of Indonesia, but it has been varied, from open sea to narrow channels in the jungle. I saw one crocodile briefly but still no monkeys. Plenty of bugs though.

On my jouney home I get to take a small boat to Handil, then a bus from Handil to Balikpapan, then a plane to Singapore. After a couple of nights in Singapore, supposedly to do some work but really to stock up on Marks&Sparks chocolate biscuit selections and Ian's favourite noodles, I will take the long 15 hour flight back to the US, to my new house and to my husband.

I'd like to say I'll miss the barge but really I won't. Three weeks without beer and chocolate is a long time.

See the photos here

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

FTSO Update: I know what you're thinking...

You're thinking, 'hey, whatever happened to that whole FTSO thing?' You're saying to yourself "I bet he's stopped going to the gym and ballooned back up to the size of a cow."

Well, you're not exactly right smarty pants, but you're not entirely wrong either. I did take a couple of weeks off from the gym while moving house. There's a list of excuses: I had a lot to do, most of my lunchtimes were filled with running around signing stuff and meeting people and dropping things off and picking things up. Most of my evenings were filled with packing and moving and packing and stacking. But that's nonsense, because, you make the time and figure the rest of the stuff out around that. My diet wasn't exactly great during that time either, mostly from the drive-through, mostly crap. So it was something of a surprise when I unpacked the scales and discovered my weight was lower than it had been. I knew that was misleading though as I was clearly in worse shape than I had been.

So, last week I went back to the gym, twice, this week I've also been twice and will go again tomorrow, so I'm officially back in the routine, I feel better, the moving related flab is gone and I'm back to trying to shift the previous-12-years related flab. This week's score: 218.4, that's 3.2 pounds down from my last update!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Living Quarters

Jen asked for a picture of the inside of my "pod", so here it is.

Very basic really. One bathroom and 4 bunkbeds. At the moment there's only 2 of us in there so it feels quite luxurious. Note the lack of mirror in the bathroom. I have not had a decent look at myself for 2 weeks now.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Home Improvement

Most of you will know this better than me, but when you buy a house, there's a list of things that need to be repaired. Nikki and I need to do a little repair work on the roof, replace the garage doors, replace the bay window, fix the thermostat on the water heater and tidy up some of the electrical work.

Today the most important repair job on the list was completed. Yes, that's right, as of about 2 o'clock today, the heater for the hot tub is now working! I'm off home to crack a beer and test drive it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Lawn

Houston has a ready supply of cheap labor, so Nikki and I reckon we can get the lawn cut for about $20 every 2 weeks, or roughly $320 per year if the grass grows for 32 weeks.

The lawn hasn't needed cutting yet, so hopefully we bought the house after the grass stopped growing for this year. Whilst at the local home improvement place this weekend I did notice an interesting sale going on...

The first one there only had one cup holder, so obviously it's no good to me. The cheapest John Deere looked a bargain at $1300. Now if I did the lawn myself, using one of these babies, it would pay for itself in only 4 that's a bargain. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A bit hot!

So last week I made a contribution towards the world's fossil fuel supply. The unit I have spent the last 4 years of my life on finally did a job and kicked off a well. The proof was this flare. I just wish they hadn't put it quite so close to the barge.
Note the white accommodation "pod" on the top deck of the barge. That's where I sleep. All the stairs keep me fit and the views are great, as you can see in the other picture.

Music Review: Dirty Paper Cup - Hafdis Huld

You're busy people. Protecting the free world from narcoleptic pirates and homicidal psycho jungle cats takes a lot of time, so you can be forgiven for not being as up to date on your Icelandic pop music as you should be.

I suggest you remedy this by immediately downloading Dirty Paper Cup by Hafdis Huld (or, you know, buying the album in a shop if such a thing as record shops still exist in your area). I like it even better than Johnny Cash's American V: A Hundred Highways, and you know how much I like Johnny Cash. It's an excellent light and fluffy pop record with occasional dark lyrics.

If, for some mad reason, you don't want to take my word for it you can go and visit Hafdis Huld's myspace page where you can listen to three of the tracks from the album, including the brilliant Tomoko, which when played on the Mark Radcliffe show instantly hooked me and a cover version of "Who Loves The Sun", with more ukelele than The Velvet Underground ever thought to use. Be warned, like all myspace pages you don't get asked politely if you'd like to play the songs, they're going to start as soon as they load, so if you're at work or something you might want to turn your volume down. Whilst at the site you can also check out the excellent video for Tomoko, which raises a couple of chuckles.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Owning a Pool

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Today is Friday. Tuesday it rained, a lot. Lots of leaves were blown into the pool. Wednesday I scooped most of these leaves out, because you do not want organic material decaying in your pool, and then shocked the pool with the last bit of chlorine the previous owners left. Thursday I bought two types of chlorine (more shock and some slow release stuff that you leave in a skimmer), a PH balance testing kit and an algae brush. The pool ready for humans I was looking forward to the weekend.

Tonight it's going to be 62° F (16° C). Tomorrow - more thunderstorms. Which means more leaves. Which means more chlorine. I have been in this pool once, for about 5 minutes, compared to a couple of hours cleaning it and now Winter's coming in. I need to get the heater fixed, or else I may just kidnap a penguin from the zoo and build him a little igloo over by the pump house.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


So as promised here is a picture of me in my full hard hat and coveralls clobber standing next to my unit. There's more of my unit to the right but it wouldn't fit in the shot. In the background the sun is setting over the Mahakam Delta.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Movie Review: The Departed

I love Martin Scorsese films and I love gangster films, so a Martin Scorsese gangster film is always a treat. On Sunday afternoon I went with a few friends to watch The Departed.

Inexplicably the cinema had no sour gummy worms, but having recovered from this huge setback I settled back to enjoy the trailers. The most promising looking film in the trailers was 300, based on the brilliant graphic novel by Frank Miller. It's out in March next year.

The Departed is a remake of a Hong Kong film called Infernal Affairs. The basic setup is that the cops have Leonardo DiCaprio undercover in Jack Nicholson's mob whilst Jack has Matt Damon working for the cops and feeding him information. As each side starts to suspect they've been infiltrated violence and profanity ensues. The Departed is a great film, certainly the best I've seen all year.

Mark Wahlberg's mouthy cop is my favourite character in the film. The whole film has lots of great funny dialogue in it, but most of Mark Wahlberg's lines had me in stitches.

Computer related facts that I did not previously know but learned from this film: The Massachussets State Police Department have what looks like a pretty high tech network. There are a couple of improvements I would make though. First of all, password complexity rules have to be put in place, it's crazy in this day and age to allow users to set any old thing as their password. They'll inevitably get lazy and use their cat's name or their wife's name or their own name or something. These are some of the first things anyone's going to try. Secondly, they really need a backup system, maybe even just once a week and then send the tapes offsite or something, because right now, brother, when you delete a record from their database, it is gone. Posted by Picasa

I Hate To Move It, Move It

As Nikki hinted at in her previous entry we have bought a house. We closed on it on Monday and then Nikki had to leave for almost 4 weeks in Indonesia on Tuesday. It would have been great to move into our first house together, but it's not going to pay for itself so off she went, leaving me to decide where all the furniture and pictures go all by myself. There was also a huge tactical mistake on her part as we have less closet space in the master bedroom than we did at Old Farm. Having unpacked my clothes already I am in situ and will be harder to budge.

Saturday was moving day. I hate moving. I especially hated moving out of Old Farm. There are 3 stories and the bottom set of stairs has a really tight turn in it. Manouvering the groceries around it is difficult enough, so getting a sofa or a bed frame round there is a real pain. This is reason enough to bring in professionals and they made fairly short work of the whole thing. Having picked up all the furniture from Old Farm and the remaining stuff in storage we were all moved into Redstart Street just as Scotland were beating the team that just beat the team that just won the World Cup, making us, once again, the greatest football team in world.

I couldn't find any of our real cameras, so I snapped off a few shots with my camera phone. Despite what the pictures look like I was not drunk when I took them, I simply forgot that you have to keep your hand completely steady for about 6 hours per picture.

This is the kitchen area. The dark glass on the left is a wine cooler, currently well stocked, but I can always make room for more.

The fridge. We had to buy this on Monday night as no-one told us, and being fools, we didn't know, that when a listing says "Complete with all major appliances" the fridge isn't included. The water pressure to the fridge is not what it could be. I got it unblocked enough to make ice, but it will not share the water it uses to do so with the water dispenser.

This is the living room. There is a large glass sliding door to the left that leads into the back garden. The TV is playing BBC Radio 1 from 5 hours ago (so you get the breakfast show at breakfast time) through the wonders of Sirius Satellite Radio.

The tea making station is set up to the left of the sink for ease of kettle filling. Tea bags, tea pot and mugs are all within easy reach. Nearby is the collection point for bottles to be recycled. L-R are a nice bottle of Syrah I shared with Mustafa and Salimah on Saturday night, a bottle of champagne I shared with Nikki on Monday night, a bottle of Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA I had on Saturday afternoon whilst listening to Arnaud rant about how lucky Scotland were and a bottle of Belhaven Wee Heavy that Arnaud had whilst putting up with my chuckling. All Belhaven was provided by Nikki's boss as compensation for making me do the move on my own. Even though he gave me 12 bottles I still don't think it's a fair trade. And if that's not the most romantic declaration of love you've ever read I'll be very surprised. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 8, 2006


So after 3 flights and across the international date line I finally arrived in Indonesia. Balikpapan in East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo to be exact. After one night in "the first and only 5 star" hotel (view from room above) I got on a very bumpy bus and travelled 2 hours along the coast to the town of Handil to meet the barge. The barge has fairly limited amount of accommodation for all the crew and workers so they decided to add on an extra couple of beds, so my accommodation for the next few weeks will be this white pod. It has hot running water and that's all that matters really. Plus they've put it on the top deck so we get a pretty good view.

And while I'm doing all this executive travel my wonderful husband has packed up our belongings and moved it into our new house. He now has a few weeks by himself to figure out all the satellite channels and make the house wireless.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Jibba Jabba

Saw this whilst shopping the other day:

He may not be willing to get on a plane, but if I was looking for a trimmer to shave a mohican into my head with I would certainly look for the one that Mr T used.