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88- one third in

Today marks day number 43 of 131 and by my math, OK, I let wolframalpha do most of it.  I am 1/3 of the way into my contract and in two more cruises on Dec, 22 I will be on the downslide and in the last half. 

One day at a time.

November 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

88- Christmas in November

I got 4 packages yesterday that had been being held, as it turns out, in the holding facility that was used for this route last year, but not this year. 

But I got them and there was much rejoicing.  In the video below you see that Flat Dave got a friend, who brought beer… Thanks Sophia.  I also got my new glasses, left over Halloween candy, Starbucks instant coffee and before Jenny sent the last package, she asked me what I wanted and I told her that I wanted her, so I also got a flat Jenny.  She is on the wall right next to flat Dave and flat Bill, but the are drinking flat Beer and cracking wise so she feels a little left out, maybe she needs a flat margarita to join the party. 

I also got- get this-  a 1L French press and two lbs of coffee, that was purchased whole bean and then if I know my Dad, and I do and he is a tad fussy about this kind of thing, it was ground in a burr grinder on the precise setting for French press.  Also, Mom, I’m not sure if I should thank you or curse you for the dark chocolate covered almonds rolled in natural sugar and sea salt…. Damn you Trader Joe’s

Thank you all for the awesomeness that was Xmas in November. 

The new address for shipping to the ship is:

Celebrity Mercury c/0 intercruise services

David Jones LAc

211 E. Lombard St # 369

Baltimore, MD 21202

Now I have to think of some adventures for Flat Jenny, Dave and Bill to go on…… hmmmmmmmmm

November 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

89 flat dave gets a letter

Awesome

November 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

91 current position

http://goo.gl/D8n8H

No, I am not in Canada, but due to the fact that I am using IE6 (on the work computer and I can’t change that) links and embeds don’t work well. 

So, if you click the link and then scroll out, way out, you will see a little green arrow in the lower corner and that is me on my way back to Balmer.  One more sea day after tomorrow and then back to civilization, well at least cellular civilization.

November 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

92 best patient response ever

Male patient born in 1928, when I was going over his intake form with him, he told me that that date usually gets a, “Wow!”  I had to tell him that on a cruise ship that isn’t so special. 

This guy said he grew up surfing coney island and that is was the greatest place in the world and even though you had the , “Italians, Jews, Irish… you name it, we all got along.” 

He also told me about the American Nazis before the war and how they would go to the bath houses  and bring signs saying no Jews or dogs and how the older boys in his group decided to teach them a lesson by burning down the bath house.  As he said, “They were simpler times back then.”  so if there is an unsolved bath house fire from the early 40’s… it was the kids.

He couldn’t wait to be old enough to enlist to go fight in WWII and almost as soon as he enlisted came VJ day and he spent the next two years surveying in Alaska.

But here is why I am writing about this guy.  Before I leave the room I always ask if the patient is comfortable.  To which, without missing a beat he responded, ” I make a living.” 

I hope that when I am in my eighties, I’m still cracking wise.  Maybe not vaudeville, but at least have the presence of mind and alertness to still be making with the funny.

November 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

97 Sea Day

97 Sea Day
“Jess is pissed.”  That was Dionne screaming over the pumping music and she was right, Jess was pissed but it was getting late in crew bar and you could pretty much close your eyes spin around in a circle three times, point and if you knew that person’s name and followed it by, “is pissed.” chances are you would be right.  Especially right if you were pointing at Dionne, who’s dancing was becoming increasingly uncoordinated or possibly more ironic, a kind of spastic mocking of society’s traditional values of club dancing.  (edit:  Dionne says that is just the way she dances.)
Crew bar is smoky and poorly ventilated.  It has a DJ setup and one really loud speaker, but that is OK, because the room is really small and one is enough.  Almost every night another crew member takes turns DJing in what they call Club Xtreme ( X is the Celebrity trademark) but it seems like they only really play about 3 songs but with that kind of music it is as hard to tell the songs apart as it is to sex kittens, is that a male or female?  I don’t know.  Didn’t he just play that?  Yes, just keep dancing.
Booze is pretty cheap in crew bar and it is pretty typical to buy beer in 6 packs and just take the whole 6 pack back to the table.  Yes, that Corona has been sitting there, open, for about an hour but I bet it is still cool at the bottom, sure you can have it.  Back when the spa girls were tight with the Philippino mafia, whole cases would show up to their tables.  One of the mafia guys had a huge crush on one of the spa girls and when the mafia likes you, life is good.
This night was a going away party for someone who got less than 24 hour notice that she would be packing her bags and transferring ships.  She was off to spend the Austral summer going around the horn, seeing Antarctica and spending Carnival in Rio and for some reason she was sad and we were sad to see her go.  Honestly, she is one of the nicest people I have ever met and I hope I get to see her someday on her home turf in the Azores.  But tonight was about getting liquored up.  Safe travels Marissa.
I hate club music.  If pedicabbing did anything for me it made me hate not only club music but the people who liked it and here I was dancing to it.  In my own defense there isn’t much choice on the ship, not like there is a crew folk bar, or a crew sports bar or a crew sit and talk to your friends bar.  You can have those things on the ship, but you have to be in uniform, with a name tag and you have to follow certain rules.  In crew bar you can get as drunk as Jess was or dance wildly like Dionne or, like me, get to the point where I thought Jaegermeister was a good idea.  It wasn’t.  Neither is club music, smokey spaces or loud music but here you are in a bad idea doing shots of Jaeger in the bowels of a boat doing laps in the caribe.

November 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

100 At sea- I have seen the health future

… and the health future I have seen is bleak.

When I was pedicabbing, seeing all the drunks was like antabuse but with an astonishingly short half-life and a lot of rebound.  When they are vomiting in front of you, your visceral memory kicks in and you feel like the best way to deal with this is to never drink again, but back at the shop you feel like the best way to deal with it is another Lone Star.

I think there is something like that going on here too.  We cater to a pretty old client base, lots of people in their 70s and 80s, hell, 60s is considered young here and just looking around on deck is staring at what the decisions we make now will look like in 30 years and it makes me want to put down the bacon.

Now, keep in mind that not all hobbling around and back pain is due to bacon, ohhhhh bacon.  That guy trying to climb the stairs and wincing against the pain, shrapnel from Vietnam, the other guy with the crushing anxiety downsized into a condo and now can’t sell his house.  Sometimes it really is an old football injury.

Sometimes it isn’t.  Often it is asking your low back and knees to operate way outside design parameters for 20 years and that could come about from either being a professional athlete or carrying around 100 extra lbs.  Now, it is in all deference to my friend Ragen and her awesome blog danceswithfat.wordpress.com that I say this.  Ragen often talks about people telling her that being fat is going to “catch up to her” and that although she has perfect metabolic health now, there is some vague future threat out there lurking and while nothing may ever catch Ragen, these people I’m seeing on the ship, done got caught.  Although it is entirely possible that they weren’t running all that fast.  Which could be the problem.

In the acupuncture clinic I get to see a really good range of health pictures and this is admittedly anecdotal and correlation, but if you make it into your 70s, are sedentary and 50 lbs overweight   (I pulled that number out of a hat, but it is usually more) when I ask you what meds you are on, there is a painfully slow reaching for the wallet and then and equally slow exploration of the wallet that will in the end produce a list too vast for memory of the 8-22 (yes, 22 has been the winner so far) meds that you are currently taking.  Less than half of which are to control symptoms of your comorbidities and the rest to control the side effects.  I have also met a good number who are overweight, say in the 20-40 lbs range and very active and seem to be holding up very well.  They seem to have a much better outlook, are on fewer medications, if any, and seem to get a lot out of life.

The former in this example have a lousy quality of life, in fact, they seem miserable.  So miserable that even a little bit of relief from the suffering is worth whatever it costs.  This is, however, how I make my money and I am very happy to do it.  I had a woman leave today after her second treatment, she got a couple of feet out the door and turned around and came back to tell me that she forgot her cane.  “I always forget my cane when I leave here.”  Big smile.  That is why I went to school, not to help nonspecific mild anxiety.  I want to make people walk again and I can.  Here is the trouble.

I was doing a seminar yesterday and it came to demo time and I asked for someone with low back or hip pain.  I found a couple of tender points on her hands and then asked her to do a range of motion exercise in her hips.  Fail.  Then I put in 4 needles 2 in each hand, Yao Tong Xue if you are interested and then took a couple of questions and had her stand there for about 5 minutes, then had her do the range of motion again.  Hers eyes lit up and she practically yelled out, “It doesn’t hurt, the pain is ZERO!!”  I found out later that people thought she was a shill her response was so profound.  Too much of a good thing.  Did she book an appointment?  Even after being shown first hand that I can help, No!

Bleak health future indeed.  That lady saw what could help her and she said she didn’t want to spend the money.  I suspect the people who make it into their 70s without too much pain and in pretty good shape already spent the money, paid attention as much as money and the ones who didn’t have to carry around lists of meds and for them, that is bleak.

November 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

98 1/4 down

We are in Balmer and ready to turn around.  Today marks the day when I am officially 1/4 the way through my time onboard the Mercury.  So I only have to do what I have done, 3 more times and I am home. 

Time flys when you are…… OK, sometimes it is fun, sometimes it is really hard work and like this morning, having to wait for an hour in a whole boat immigration, just to have my passport checked, it was malakia.  A lot of Greeks on the ship, you always learn the swear words first.  Except my little girls from S. Africa haven’t taught me any in Afrikaans, but I should ask.  Gut Danke

November 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

104 St Croix beach

104 St Croix
Tourist are dumb.  Now stay with me on this one, I might have to take you around the block to get to the point, but I promise I’ll….OK, I don’t promise anything…. just hang in there.
Tourists are dumb, some try hard not to be and others just glory in it.  The former have done their homework either out of an abiding interest in other places and cultures or a desire to not get taken.  The latter pay $20 USD to get their picture taken with a monkey in a diaper and a guy with dreads.   Presumably this will make its way to the mantle as proof of their adventurous spirit.  But even if they have been to the same island 5 times and they understand everything that is said and written they don’t speak the language of place.  None of us do when we are out of place and that is part of the reason we travel.  This is where you will have to grant me some license on the dumb thing because it isn’t exactly an inability to speak the language of place but a lack of fluency.  Your indulgence is appreciated.
When I was pedicabbing I was on the home team.  We were the ones fluent in place having to deal with tourists who were not.  In this case fluency means more than knowing where club Phoenix is and how to get there quickly it meant feeling the width of your cab and knowing which gaps you can make and which you can’t: it meant being in control of the negotiation and it meant being able to point people in the direction of drugs or prostitutes when they ask.  (mostly on hearsay but often as an inside joke we would point them in the direction of a gay bar and tell them to go in the bathroom and start asking around)
As ship’s crew we are fluent in the place of the ship and in most respects we are fluent in the area 100 meters in any direction of the gangway because they are all the same no matter where you go.  Some of the vendors actually follow the ships around so vendors you see in St Thomas will end up in Alaska come Summer.  But even in that area just off the gangway, we inhabit a middle space because we are largely uninterested in the tourist activities, looking more for free wifi, a decent meal or some toothpaste,  so it is easy to pretend like we are not like the tourists, but not being a tourist is different than being fluent.
Nothing brought this home more than a trip to the beach in St Croix.  I had scouted a nice beach close to the pier, it was just a couple minutes walk off to the right.  I was headed that way when I ran into a couple of the spa girls and a casino dealer.  They were looking for a beach close by and  were happy to tag along.  Then when we heard that the beach off to the left was nicer, just harder to get to.  We looked over that way and seeing no one there thought it must be because it is hard to get to and we would be the only ones there, no tourists.  After all, the girl who told us about it was crew and had been there before, she should know.
It was a bit of a slog to get there, past the caution tape, the tires and washouts, but this must be the place she was talking about, right?  Ah caribbean seas, ouch-shit, rocks, that is going to bleed…. OK, fine just keep swimming out.  I really miss swimming in Barton Springs but am getting used to the salty water.  The thing is that – even though I know that I’m more likely to win the lottery than get attacked by a shark, there is something about swimming in the ocean that makes it a middle space in its own right.  You are at the same time, part of the world you know with all its, you know, air and land but you also dangle into a world you are not rightly a part of and in that world what you are a part of is the food chain.  So I swim with my eyes tightly closed and my imagination wide open, probably not the best combination.

I was floating there on my back with my toes sticking out of the water because maybe the sharks in that area were on island time too and would only go for low hanging fruit so I’ll keep my toes where I can see them thank you and from that position I watched 4 gulls circling and occasionally diving down into the water for a meal.  They were relentless and that scene was not at all unlike what was going on at the pier right next to them.  Tourists are the sardines of that food chain, plentiful, fatty and delivered.
The water was pleasant but a bit cloudy for water in this part of the world.

Swimming was nice.  The girls swam a bit and then laid out, the dealer brought his mask and snorkel and stayed in a little longer.  I’m going to pause here for a moment because the dealer is from France and they have a  very different idea about what a man’s swimsuit looks like.  Personally, and I hope this isn’t just my American provincialism but I think that no swimsuit should be tight or thin enough to betray your state of circumcision.   One of the spa girls says that at home (UK) they call these suits “buggie smugglers”, no idea what that means, but couldn’t stop laughing and the consensus from the spa girls was that, and keep in mind this is a cross cultural opinion, those suits are not sexy and in fact are quite horrid.
OK, back to the beach.  I was back up on the shore after negotiating my way around really a lot more broken glass than I think a beach should have, in fact as the water came in and out, the loose glass made a tinkling sound on the rocks and shells.  From a distance I just thought there were lots of shells on the beach but at a closer level of zoom, it was more trash than shells.
I was getting ready to head back to the ship when I made the mistake of making eye contact with a homeless guy who was yelling at me.  Great.  He was yelling something incomprehensible and waving his arms.  I felt like the un-ulgy thing to do was to go see what he was saying.
This guy was thin, really thin and had some sort of malformation on his right cheek that when combined with a pretty thick accent and his obvious intoxication he was very difficult to understand.  Seriously, later in the conversation,   “holiday celebration” came out as “pirate party.”  I know you are trying to mouth the words to see how that is even possible, don’t even try, you can’t do it.  Imagine being high and telling someone about a Christmas party and then getting asked a bunch of questions about pirates and how they fit into Christmas celebrations.  What I understood from him, and he said this 3 times was, “NO not pirates!  A Pirate party.”  It was a wonder I could understand anything.
What he was trying to tell me at the beach was that the authorities don’t want us on the beach.  OK crazy guy, I will go back and tell my friends.  As I walked back it hit me that there was caution tape all around the beach and it wasn’t some crazy island tradition, we had seen it on the way in, ignored it and slipped through between a couple of trees where the tape wasn’t.  Oh wait, hurricane Tomas came through here about a week ago and this beach hadn’t been cleaned up yet.  As I was walking back to the ship the homeless guy started yelling more from behind me and I would have been the biggest asshole to not at least acknowledge him.   Letting him catch up got  me a partially comprehensible walking tour of the damage done by the storm.  He, Sammy, was pointing out where the high water marks were and it took him pointing all this out for me to see it because as obvious as it all was, we had missed all the signs.
He also told me that I shouldn’t have been swimming, “didn’t you see the water?”  He asked me, exasperated.  I told him that it looked cloudy, but seemed OK.  “That water will make you sick.  You never swim after a big storm.”  Oh great.  When I asked him where all the glass came from he told me about when they used to dump trash out at sea and when hurricanes come through they get some of that trash back.  “When the ocean is angry it sends some of that trash back man.”  I really felt dumb now.
I had made the mistake of thinking my sphere of fluency extended beyond the hawkers and steel drum bands.  Even just to the left of the pier was a world where I didn’t even see the obvious and had no idea about the subtle.  At what point in the thought, “wow all that glass sure looks jagged.”  do you start to think, hmmm maybe something in this picture is wrong?  Well, never if you walk down that beach and only see your idea of a caribbean beach instead of seeing what is actually under foot.  As traveling crew I will never be fluent in any of the places we visit hopefully I will start to, at least, pay attention to the caution tape.

November 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

103 Antiqua, treating my morning patients

I have the most lovely patient.  Imagine a 78 year old lady from Dorchester in England, shock of grey hair, small of stature and slightly bent over. 

I have been treating her for back pain and she is getting much better.  When you help someone out of pain when they are on their vacation, they are so grateful and this lady is no exeption.

While her pain may be going what she is really suffering from is Cute Old Lady Syndrome.  She has such a great outlook and you are not sure if she is crazy, maybe the kind of crazy we all hope we get where instead of forgetting who are kids are we forget all the slights and insults that have piled up from 7 decades of life.  She is just a joy to talk to but what I love most is that when I put the needles in and leave the room she starts to sing, not loudly, just enough to hear and she keeps it up the whole treatment until she nods off a bit, but I can always tell when she wakes up because she starts singing again… inbetween the coughing and farting, but come on, she’s 78, you live that long, you get to fart conspicuously and still be lovely.

November 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments