Sunday, July 31, 2011

This Post has Nothing to do with the Ferry

This weekend was knitting nirvana. Sock Summit! I can feel all you non-knitters rolling your eyes, but just stop it! It was awesome.

I took friday off, and went up on both Friday and Saturday. Before we even got to the convention center, we were chatting up fellow knitters at the MAX stop, and once there, we walked right past The Yarn Harlot, pretty much the most famous and favorite knitter of all--and the organizer and creator of Sock Summit. The marketplace was a major draw, hundreds of vendors selling extremely yummy hand dyed yarns, fibers, needles, notions, project bags, pottery, books, pretty much anything even remotely related to knitting. My good friend and former coworker, Lisa, of Dicentra Designs, had a booth in a really prime location, so I stopped by to say hi as often as I could. I bought only slightly more than I should have (9 skeins and a project bag), but it was worth it. Fellow Salem knitter Karen, on her knitting blog, Hissy Stitch, did a great write up of the marketplace with tons of great photos, including one of me.

I also got to take a great class by a really well known sock designer, Ann Budd. She was beyond wonderful. Friendly, helpful, and funny. It's exactly how I felt at the last Sock Summit, taking a class from Deb Barnhill. Knitters are just great people. Also, Saturday night, my friends and I sat in the third row (thanks Steph!!) for a lecture by the Harlot herself. Which was hilarious and awesome. At one point, we were cracking up about something she said, and we were laughing enough that she commented on us as an example. It was beyond great.

There was a flash mob, too! Well, only sort of a flash mob. It was pretty obvious something was up, there were hundreds of knitters just "milling around" a very small area, plus hundreds of others "milling around" to watch. Suddenly the music started, and all the knitters started dancing--with skeins of yarn--to "Time of My Life" (you know, the song from Dirty Dancing). I took a video from off to the side, but I won't post it, since you can hear me cackling and laughing the whole time. It was so hilarious and wonderful. Sort of overwhelming to see that many knitters in one place like that. In the marketplace, and in the Harlot's lecture, it seemed like a smaller group. Everyone all together, doing a goofy dance in synch like that, was just beyond awesome. Look!

It was a really great weekend. I hung out each day with people I really like but don't get to see nearly as often as I'd like. I bought delicious yarns that I'm thrilled to get to knit with. I met amazing knitters and vendors that I wish I could have put in my purse and taken home with me. Every single person I met was super open and friendly. I had great conversations with vendors, felt like lifelong friends with knitters I'd met only 5 minutes before, and saw hand-knitted things that were nothing short of art.

The weekend made me proud to call myself a knitter. Proud to be a part of such a caring, friendly, and creative community.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Late night

On monday, my boss asked me, "Hey, do you want to help change the trolley wheels Tuesday night?" Every other time since I started with the ferry that there has been late night work to be done, I haven't been able to. Either I had a family commitment, or something else was going on. Well, I didn't have an excuse this time, so I jumped at it. And I'm glad I did. I don't want to get the reputation as the operator who never does the extra work, who always says no. And D, the guy I would be working with that night, was surprised that I said yes. So yeah, it was important that I joined in.

I met a coworker at the shops at 9pm. Keep in mind, I'd already pulled a regular 8 hour day yesterday, then came back. I had a list that D gave me of things to bring. I was pleased that I knew all of the things on the list, they were all familiar to me, since I'm finally getting a hang of this ferry stuff. I hooked up the truck to a light plant (basically a big diesel generator attached to 4 hugely powerful lights. when you see work being done at night on the interstate and it's lit up like daylight? light plants.), and away we went. The other guy drove a bucket truck.

When we got to the ferry, we set up the lights, then got to work. We had to unhook the baloney and steering cables (see my "series of unfortunate events" post for a glossary) from the boat, which meant getting in the little work boat and cruising around the river a bit in the dead of night. Which was pretty awesome. Using the bucket truck, we got the baloney and steering cables disconnected from the boat, and hooked up to the back of the pickup. Then we drove the pickup up the road. This way, the trolley slid all the way down the line to the tower, where it could be worked on. It's a pretty slick operation, I was impressed at how smoothly it all went. D said that there was a hell of a lot of trial and error to get it this smooth.

Once the trolley was as close as we could get it to the tower, the guys got their climbing gear on, and up they went. The tower is 80 feet high. It doesn't seem that high when you're on the boat or at a distance. But it's really high! The guys use the bucket truck to get as far up as they can, then use climbing gear and climb the last 40 feet on their own.
I, of course, stayed with my feet firmly planted on the ground. However, I wasn't there just to stand around. As soon as they made it to the top, then sent down a rope on a pulley, and I had to start hauling up gear. The worst were the sheaves (pronounced shivs). These are solid brass wheels, each weighing 25 lbs. The goal of the night was to replace 6 of these. They wear out unevenly and start to squeak. They seem to last 6 weeks or 2 months or so. We replace them and send the worn ones to be rebuilt.

Have you ever hauled stuff up on a pulley? You might think 25 lbs isn't all that much to haul. It is. It really REALLY is. I tried sticking two sheaves in the bucket at once, and couldn't do it. With one sheave, the first 20 feet of hauling was ok, but then I'd look up, and realize the bucket was nowhere near the top, and it'd start to sloooow down. Your shoulders and foreams start to ache and burn. And once the bucket gets to the top, they take out the new sheave, and put an old one in it's place, for me to bring down. At one point, D put two sheaves in the returning bucket. I could have just let it plummet 80 feet, but it wasn't safe, so I had to hang tight to the rope to control the decent. So 6 heavy sheaves went up, and 6 heavy sheaves came down. They swapped them all out, then I sent up the grease gun and they greased everything up there, and they were done.

Once they climbed down, we had to do everything in reverse, back the truck down onto the ferry, get the baloney into the bucket truck, maneuver that up onto the top of the cabin and hook it back up, hook up both steering cables (which is hard, since the ferry drifts a bit when it's not connected), turn the power back on, then take it for a few test drives to make sure everything's good and all the sheaves are moving easily. We spray paint stripes on the sheaves, so we can see if they're turning.

By 2 am, everything was done, so we loaded the bucket truck, and the pickup with the light plant back onto the ferry and headed back to the shops. I was home by 2:45 am.

I'm not going to say I loved it, but I actually thought it was pretty cool. Of course, I had the time, so I took today off so I could sleep until 10. I doubt I'd think it was all that cool if I needed to get up and be at work by 7 or 8. I'm glad I did it, I'm glad I participated in something like that, that's pretty routine maintenance, and needed to be done.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


On Tuesday, I worked from 8 am until 10:30 pm. Holy overtime pay, batman! We were setting up to dredge the river at the BV, since the ferry was closed. It was a pretty interesting day, actually. We did a lot.

Between 8 and noon, I helped get the barges onto the trailers. The barges are 10.5x25 feet metal boxes. There are 4 of them, and they lock in place together. For some reason, it took about 7 hours to get two barges onto trailers. I think it can be much quicker, and it was the next day, but man, it took awhile. We attached one end of the barge to a huge tractor called a Gradall, lifted up that end, and backed the trailer under it. Then used the gradall to drag it further up the trailer. Before that was done for two barges, my boss told me to get down to the BV. Two coworkers had taken the dredging boat, the Sir Charles, down that morning, but evidently there wasn't any antifreeze in it. So I grabbed a few gallons of antifreeze and headed down.

Once I got down there, we filled up the boat and drove it around the river a bit. I'd driven the usual work boats, which are just basic flat bottomed boats with outboard motors. the Sir Charles is bigger, has a covered cabin area, and you drive it with a steering wheel. And holy hell is it awkward to drive. It's both overly squirrely and sluggish at the same time. Just challenging. We motored around in the area that everyone had been complaining that the BV was hitting bottom, and used a spike pole (long pole with a spike on the end, it also has measurement lines) to check the water level. There were plenty of spots where there was only 3 feet of water--an empty boat needs 2 feet of water. Add cars, and it sits lower. The area we determined that needed to be dredged was about the size of the boat. Having no idea, I asked, and yes, that's a huge area to have to dredge. About twice the size of the area they usually dredge at the WL.

Finally around 3, the first truck and trailer showed up with a barge. Because of how they laid out the road and BV ramp, a dump truck with oversized, very heavy trailer, has to back up 1/3 of a mile. Once the trailer with the barge is partially in the water, the Gradall (which was also brought down) basically shoves it into the water. A few of us on land were hanging onto the rope so the barge wouldn't float away until we staked it to shore.

I can't remember the exact reason, but we only had one barge down at the river by about 5 pm. I drove back to the shops (in a dump truck) with X (breaker of the BV), then drove the pilot car for the second barge. Anything over 9 feet wide needs a pilot car. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available couldn't go faster than 45 mph, even on the interstate. It was a long slow trip. We got both barges into the water by dark, then convoy'd back to the shops. I think by the end of the day, we had something like 11 vehicles down there.

The following day, Wednesday, went much more smoothly. By 9:30, both barges were loaded and ready to go. I hopped in a different truck and drove around to the far side of the boat ramp, which was a longer drive. I was towing the work boat, just so we'd have another boat down there. By the time the boat was in the water, they were backing the barge down to the water. Pretty soon, all four barges were in the water, and they began the dance to turn the barges so they could be connected properly. It was fascinating. At one point, there was a guy on each of two barges, and they each hung onto one end of a rope. Simply by pulling on the rope, walking to a different end of the barge and pulling again, they spun one barge around and pulled them together in exactly the right location. It was almost like a dance. In this picture, the excavator is pushing down on the center, so two pieces will level out and can be locked together.

I was hoping to stick around to see how they drive the excavator onto the barges, but instead, several of us went across the river to where the ferry was tied up. Our job was to disconnect the baloney and load it onto the truck. that thing is massively heavy! It was also pretty fascinating to see the actual damage done. I took this picture at the end of the day, when we wound it on a pallet. Note the size of the pallet for scale, and remember that the baloney is at least as big around as your wrist, probably bigger.
We've been calling that "the spaghetti end" of the baloney. The cables inside the black rubber wrapping are solid copper. Imagine the force it took to rip solid copper in half.

Late thursday afternoon, we got word that the new baloney had arrived. I was surprised, I'd heard rumors that it'd take 2 weeks to get a new one. I'm guessing the guys were down there for hours, hanging the new baloney. Regardless, the ferry reopened for cars on Saturday morning. Which is great, since it means the damage done wasn't as extensive as I thought. They had to weld some new parts, check out the entire electrical system, some of the structure, and make sure nothing else was harmed. I'm glad it's back up and running. I'm sure X is, too...

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Series of Unfortunate Events

The BV is closed. Possibly for a week, or longer. Massively Major SNAFU yesterday, thank goodness on my watch (because of course I couldn't take my license test today). Here's what happened, at least as far as I heard, and when I highlight a word, there's a definition at the bottom of the post. There are a lot of ferry specific words, and it bogs down to describe every one. Ok? Go!

So yesterday morning, ferry operator X (name changed to be nice) snagged the low water line under the apron. To fix this, X had to loosen the clamps holding the low water line in place. This took about 45 minutes or an hour, and evidently, X did this while traffic backed up, people were calling in, dispatch was trying to find out if X was ok. Finally X loosened the line enough and was able to get it free from the apron, and it was tightened back up. Crisis averted...?

Awhile later, the boat was running aground on the gravel bar every time X took off from the west bank. This is typical for the summer. When the water level is really low, the boat starts scraping bottom. That's when it's time to dredge. We haven't dredged yet, we're probably a week away. To try and solve the problem of hitting gravel, X decided to let the steering cables (aka winch cables or winch line) out quite a bit. This isn't usually how you deal with hitting gravel. If you tighten up the low water line quite a bit, you would swing further upstream, which usually solves it. But X let out the cables. I learned today that on any winch line, you should always have, at a minimum, 5 turns of cable on the winch. That way, there's enough tension to keep the line in place. The cables on the BV move very slowly. X must have sat on the knob to let out the line for at least 5 minutes. I'm not sure what X was thinking. It just seems very contrary to me. I think X was thinking that with the cables out that far, the boat would swing to the downstream of the gravel bar. Unfortunately, with the steering cables out that far, it put an incredible amount of tension on both the low water line and the baloney. Picture it, cause it's hard to describe. When X let out the steering cables, the boat drifted further downstream. The low water line is downstream, so now the boat pushes on that. The baloney hangs upstream, and I'm sure it was extremely tight.

So X loads a few cars on board, and heads across the river, heading towards the east bank. X must not have been paying attention, because soon one of the people in the cars called X's attention to the fact that the low water line had slipped out. Moments later, someone in a different car hollered that there were big sparks coming from the transformer on the tower. The low water line, because of the tension, had slipped out. It could also have slipped if X hadn't tightened it well enough in the morning. The transformer was sparking because the baloney was breaking. BREAKING. It broke inside the wrapping (the inside broke before the outside) first, which sparked the transformer, then the entire thing broke in half.

So now there's the boat. With no power, and not connected to any of the lines that usually keep the boat in place. Three people, two cars and the operator on board. Dead in the water. The boat drifted about 50 feet downstream and ran aground on a gravel bar. It took 3 hours to figure out how to tow the boat back to the dock to unload the cars.

And now the aftermath. My boss thinks it'll probably be $30,000 in damage and repairs. A new baloney costs probably $6-8,000. New transformer, lots of labor, replace a lot of small parts and fittings that warped from the stress. And some things we haven't even figured out yet. For instance, when the baloney broke, the part attached to the boat fell into the water, where it was hauled out. The part attached to the trolley is still up there, attached to the trolley. However, the trolley is in the middle of the river, since the power that propels it forward was lost when the transformer blew, and we can't drag it along with the boat, since there's no power to the boat. Ideas so far to grab the trolley have included launching fishing line around it, or wrapping line around it with a bow and arrow.

In other words, it's a hugely gigantic mess. The bosses are reeling, us trainees are baffled and a bit scared (what if it happens to me!?). Everyone's pissy and angry. This is the kind of mess I'm terrified that I'll do, because I just wouldn't know better. But I don't think I'd do this. I don't think I'd let out the steering cables like that. I'd be very concerned if the boat ran so far downstream. I'd pay a lot of attention. Still. It's worrisome.

Glossary of terms:
Low Water Line: This is a cable that runs underwater, across the river. It attaches firmly through loops and clamps on both sides of the river, and runs through slots on the downstream side of the boat. We can tighten and loosen the LWL with a winch up on the east shore. The boat follows the course of the LWL, so keeping it tighter or looser is important, and helps you steer and land better.
Apron: The apron is the part of the boat that hits land. It's like, the driveway onto and off of the boat. We can raise and lower it a bit, which helps us to land and take off. Underneath the apron are metal plates, those plates make contact with the ramp. I'm guessing the LWL got stuck on one of the plates.
Dredge: When we dredge, we put a big excavator on top of 4 enclosed barges (enclosed meaning they're solid metal boxes, no opening on top) that we tie together. The gravel is scooped up, then we push the barge downstream, and dump the gravel.
Steering Cable: Picture the ferry as a rectangle. Now, attach a cable to each of the corners of one long side. Take those cables, and run them 80 feet in the air and attach them together to the trolley parallel to the center of the long side of the rectangle. So the cables plus the boat form a triangle. Now make those cables something you can lengthen or shorten, either together or one at at time. Can you see how tightening one cable would make that end of the boat swing upstream? And if you loosen them both simultaneously, the whole boat would move downstream. Does that make sense? They're hard to describe.
Baloney: The oddly named baloney is, in essence, an extension cord. It attaches to the roof of the cabin on the boat, and then runs up to the trolley overhead. There is enough slack in the baloney that it swings down low, sometimes even drooping into the water. The baloney is about as big around as the mouth of a large coffee cup. The entire baloney weighs 1-2 tons. It's extremely heavy, and is deceptive, since from a distance, it appears thin and small and blowing in the breeze. The weight of the baloney really drags us upstream, so the LWL fights that by pulling us downstream.
Tower: There is a tower on either shore, just upstream from the boat. It's basically an electric pole, but very large. The power for the boat is run through the lines on the tower. 
Trolley: The trolleys are little units on wheels, that run along the lines that attach from the towers. They run along parallel to the boat. The baloney and the steering cables attach to the trolleys. Because the trolleys run along with the boat, when they break away from the boat, they're just hanging out there, in the middle of the river, 80 feet up.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Grimy Day

First off, a bummer: I learned today that because of a paperwork snafu, I can't take the test on Monday. I'm so bummed! And the paperwork snafu is total bull--the Coast Guard is saying I didn't submit some paperwork, but I did and have proof, but I didn't learn about the problem until it was too late to fix. So bummed. It's setting me back at least a week. At this point, it'll be maybe mid-August before I'm solo. LAME!

So day was yet another shop day. I should explain the shop day thing. Basically, as a trainee, I had to put in 30 days of work on the ferries before I could apply for the test. Once I had my 30 days, there was no need for me to be out on the boat at all. In fact, I just get in the way. The operators don't want me there, since they won't get the extra pay for being a trainer. I'm just a third wheel. So instead of being on the boat, I've got shop days. I show up to the office at 8, and basically wait for the boss to decide what to do with me that day. Some days I'm the only one on shop, some days, like today, all three of us trainees were. Some days, I do paperwork, run errands, wander around trying to look busy, bug my old planning department coworkers. Most of the time, the boss seems to be keeping me away from the super grimy tasks, which I don't really mind that much. The other day, for instance, we were going to take the pressure washer out to the boat and spray down everything so we can eventually paint, but instead there was an urgent need to run up to Portland, and Ed sent me.

 Today, we were tasked with more pressure washing, scraping the road closed gates (we close them nightly, so cars don't drive into the river when the boat is closed), and installing a new part onto the lift gates (these are the gates on the boat that open and close to let cars on/prevent them from driving over the edge). I was basically told to scrape the gates, and the guys would do the installing. 2 hours later, I'd scraped half the gate and the guys couldn't get the gates to work. They put the old part back on and that wouldn't work. We all three ended up getting greasy and gross with marine grease, and we finally got it to at least work a bit, there are larger problems that the boss will have to have fixed. So then I was back to gate scraping. I was covered, head to toe with bits of paint. It was also hot and sunny, about 83 degrees today. I applied sunscreen at least 4 times, and I'm still burned. My right shoulder is sore from scraping the putty knife back and forth and back and forth.

In the middle of the gate, there's a point where two beams come together, and there's a bit of a gap and a protected corner. I'd heard birds tweeting all morning, and some birds (barn swallows? but I don't think they had the forked tail...not sure) were swooping around. Finally I realized that there was a bird's nest in that protected corner of the gate. I looked in, and there were the babies! This is a terrible pic, but it's the best could get. I had to put my hand and a coworker's arm on either side to block the brightness in the background.
Do you see them? I wish I'd taken a better pic, they were crying and chirping and opening their wee beaks wide, hoping for food.

And after a long day of being in the sun, scraping paint, I came home, showered, and then went and picked 5 gallons of cherries. Half went to the food bank, half for me. It's a fantastic program, called Salem Harvest. If you're local, you should sign up. The blueberries I picked last summer were beyond incredible. 

Next week, the boss is either out or working the BV all week. He's going to make a list of tasks for the three of us to accomplish, and most of them are grimy. Scrape the other gate, paint both the gates, pressure wash the rest of the boat, start painting the boat, pressure wash the deck. We're also going to be dredging soon, since there are gravel bars that build up every year, and when the water is low in the summer, we scrape bottom. I want to participate, but it also sounds like brutally long hours and hard work.

Monday, July 11, 2011

One Week

Hopefully, a week from today, I'll be A CAPTAIN. I'm going to try to go up and take my test next Monday morning. Today, the other two trainees went up to Portland for their test appointments. One passed, one didn't. He has to retake it. He could have retaken the test the same day, but the officers at the testing center recommended he come back and study more. Ouch.

If I pass the test, then I wait (again). It will take 1-2 weeks for them to send me my actual license, which looks somewhat like a passport. Once I have my physical license, I will be all set and ready to work solo. And man oh man I'm looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to a regular set schedule. I'm looking forward to not wandering into the office at 8, with no clue what I'm doing that day. To be out on the river every day. All of it. I'm ready. And I'm excited.

When I first took this job, I had two initial goals:
-Keep the job long enough to get my "pay or play" benefits. Pay or Play is two weeks that can be taken either as vacation time or as pay. You get your Pay or Play in early July. So I've made that!
-Keep the job long enough to get my actual license and work solo on the river, not as a trainee. I'm so close!!

By the way, I haven't had an opportunity to talk to my boss about whether I want the 3 or 4 day schedule. I want the 4, but I'm certainly apprehensive about how much work it'll be. I'm guessing that when summer ends, we'll cut the hours on the ferry, and it'll only be open 10 hours a day. This sets me up perfectly, to put some money in savings this summer, then have a more normal work week. I'm going to talk to my boss about it tomorrow. He was pretty harried today, since the BV shut down this morning. There was something wrong with a cable that lifted the aprons. I don't fully understand it, but I'm planning on climbing up on top of the engine room and checking it out myself so I know what he's talking about.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Ribbon Has Been Cut

The grand opening was on Wednesday. A rough head count and some guessing makes me thing we had about 75 people on the boat. We only had life jackets for 51, so we had to be tied up at shore for everyone to be on board. Someone complimented me on my boat tying up skills. Heh. I was being extra careful cause there was a crowd.

Here's the crowd, from the back.
I know it doesn't look like a lot of people, but trust me, 75-ish people in a space meant for 6 cars feels like quite a bit. There were speeches by county commissioners, the public works director, and someone from ODOT (dept of transportation for the state). I couldn't hear any of them in the back. They wouldn't use the bull horn, but they also didn't talk loudly. They gave out a few plaques, one went to Tami, the woman in the planning department who wrote the grant that got the new ferry in the first place. She also advocated strongly to the powers that be to get me the ferry job. She deserved the plaque!

There were reporters from most of the newspapers, and a gallery of pictures ended up in the local paper. I can only find myself in the first picture (do you see me, in the safety vest?), but that's my dad in the straw hat in picture 13! He came up for the grand opening, it was really sweet of him. 

People started walking on board around 2:30 or so. There were two sweet ladies who brought camp chairs and a picnic basket full of iced tea, watermelon and scones, and had a picnic and watched the festivities. They were charming. While we were setting up, we were still carrying vehicles back and forth. It was a bit hectic, and I was very happy when it hit 3 pm and we stopped for the speeches and all. Afterward, we rode back and forth with just pedestrians. I stood at the gate each time, getting people to move away from the gate and the ramp as we landed, and making sure that we were totally clear before we took off again. One lady let her 3 year old climb onto the gate while we were coming in for a landing. I think 3 of us told her about 8 times to keep her kid off the gates! The gates go up and down when we land and take off, the kid could fall, get trapped, it could be bad. Working at the ferry reminds me, over and over, that people are amazingly  oblivious.

Anyway, I stayed until about 4:45, when we packed it all up and took it all back to the shops. It was pretty successful, and now the ferry is officially open!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I Need Your Opinion!

So I got word today that the BV is officially "mine." That means that I'm one of the two operators who will be the primary BV operators. Which is exactly what I wanted from the get-go. I'm really pleased. It's relaxing, fun, less maintenance, good all around.

Then my boss asked me what I wanted. Do I want a 3 day work week or 4. I have seniority over the other guy, plus he doesn't care. All along, I've thought I wanted a 3 day week, but now I'm really leaning towards 4. I need your help.

3 day week: 3, 12.5 hour days, getting paid for 13 (you work through lunch). It's a 4 day weekend every single weekend. The long shifts make up for the fact that it's not 40 hours of work, but I'd be on the books as part time, which would mess with taking vacation time, and a few things like that from the HR perspective. Financially, it's 10 hours regular time and 3 hours overtime (time and a half) each day. For simple math's sake, let's say I make $10 an hour (thank dog I don't!).
10 regular hours=$100
3 hrs @ $15/hr=$45
$145/day, times 3 (work days)=$435. This number, at my actual rate of pay, comes out to be a bit more than a 40 hour week at my current salary. It'd be as if I worked a 43 hour week.

4 day week: 4, 12.5 hours days getting paid for 13. I'd work 50 hours, every week. I'd get a three day weekend each week. My vacation time and all that would be based on a 40 hour work week, not a 30, which means I wouldn't lose as much money taking time off. I'm worried about the exhaustion factor. With driving to and from work, I've only got about 10 and a half hours each work day that I'm not at work. that's pretty severe. Can I handle 4 days of that in a row? Is there that much of a difference between 3 of those days and 4?
The money breakdown:
the same $145/day, but times 4=580. that's a pretty substantial difference, when you do the real math for my actual salary.

I talked to the Big Boss today, and he seemed to be pushing me towards the 3 day week, but when I asked him if he had a shift he'd prefer for me, he said he didn't care. A guy I'm friendly with in the office said I'd be a fool to not do the 4 day week, that the money makes up for the time, and reminded me that I could either bank that overtime to use as time off down the road, or add it to my paycheck each week.

Considering the fact that with most jobs in my field that I'm applying with, I'll be needing to move pretty quickly after taking the job, and it'd be nice to be able to save some money. But a 4 day weekend, especially during the summer, means I can go wherever I want to go, every week. 4 days off, and it's so easy to spend a weekend at my sister's. Spend a weekend with friends in the bay area, or the northern CA coast.

So, lovely blog readers, HELP! Thinking bigger picture than JUST dollar signs or time off, but the whole picture, what would you do? What should I do? I need advice!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The strawberry scented ferry

It's the start of fruit picking season, and around here, that means strawberries. For you non-Oregonians, you don't know what you're missing if you've never tried an Oregon strawberry. Sorry Californians, these are the best berries on the face of the planet. Anyway, I digress. Since the ferry crossing is surrounded on both sides by farmland, it's not surprising that we probably get three times more farm workers commuting than office (or any other non farm) workers. Usually they come across in the biggest vehicles possible--15 passenger vans, SUVs, mini-vans, packed with workers. I worked the WL ferry for the first time in 3 weeks yesterday, and it was the first time I'd seen the strawberry pickers going home. Their hands are all stained deep red from the berries. A few of them got out of their cars, and their shirts and pants were coated in red. After a few full boatloads of red-stained hands, I noticed that the air had a distinctly strawberry scent to it. Keep in mind, there were no berries on board, just berry pickers, tired from a long day of back-breaking work. It was really cool, smelled great, and for some odd reason, reminded me of a strawberry scented record album I had when I was a kid, that played Strawberry Shortcake (the doll) music. ack!

In case you didn't know, the Grand Opening for the BV Ferry is next week! Wednesday July 6th at 3pm on the Marion County side of the river. There's a ribbon cutting, probably some awkward speeches by the commissioners, drawings for free ferry cards, and pops and cookies. The boat will be closed to vehicle traffic for a few hours, but there'll be free rides for pedestrians (though pedestrians are always free). I'm looking forward to it. Should be fun. I hope to see some friends out there, too!

I know I haven't been posting a lot lately, but I've mostly been working odd jobs. I've spent whole days working on spreadsheets, doing the accounting for the tolls on the boat. Today I went up to Portland to apply for my coast guard license (which, once I get it, will actually make me a captain) and to drop off a binder at the marina where the new boat was made. Other days have been spent doing super random stuff, with lots of spare time to sit with the books I need to study for the captain test and study. I'm looking forward to being back on the boat full time.