Monday, February 3, 2014

Big Changes

I know I promised to update more regularly, but a whole bunch of life happened real quick over here but I finally found the time and motivation to sit down and resume my bloggerly duties.  So we'll get the real important part out of the way first:

NASSCO hired me. I accepted. I'm engaged I guess?

Here's some more details on what exactly I mean by that.  NASSCO called me up a couple months ago to notify me of a position they had available in their PDP program, which puts new hires on a rotation through a bunch of different departments for a year or so.  That gives you a really good opportunity to get experience both in the shipyard and in the office, and exposes you to a wide variety of fields before setting your sights on something.  To fast-forward through some irrelevant details including "I technically forgot to apply," I got a call last week officially offering me a full-time position starting in the summer. While I had hoped for some time to weigh my options before deciding on what path my immediate future took, I was told that I had two days to answer.


A couple freakouts and long life discussions with mom over the phone later, I accepted the next day.  And with that, I officially cemented the fact that I will soon enter adult life with a job and rent and bills and stuff.
Penny shutting and throwing her laptop
I had to wash my hands after typing that.

Now that the big part is out of the way, I'll backtrack a bit and fill you in on some of the other events of the past week and a half.  When I first got to my apartment last year, I was blown away that NASSCO provided free WiFi, cable, and landline telephones for the duration of our stay.  You could imagine my surprise when my first night in town this year featured absolutely none of these things. I was basically slumming it.

I thought the Amish were just...decorative, I guess.

It turns out that Synergy, the company responsible for pulling together our housing arrangements, made a clerical error somewhere along the line and forgot to install everything before our arrival.  They apologized profusely for the mistake and then immediately sent a representative on a half-hour journey just to drop off a mobile hot spot so I could have internet while they figured out the rest of the utilities.  The following day I came home to a cable guy hooking me up with more amenities than I'll probably be able to afford once I do this routine on my own, which was already more than enough to make me happy.  The next week, Synergy called us up and said they wanted to give us gift cards to apologize for the inconvenience.

I thought this was really sweet of the company to do, but I was absolutely blown away to find out they gave me $100 on a Visa giftcard to spend on whatever I want.  By not having internet for a day, I managed to earn roughly a day's pay.
Woody Harrelson Wiping Tears Money Woody Harrelson Wiping His Tears With Money
The pain was immense, but I endured.

It was shortly after this that Brian Mills, class of '16, contacted me and said he'd be in town off an MSC tanker stationed in Coronado.  Brian, in a moment of brilliance, suggested that I take a break from designing ships and he from living on one by touring the USS Midway.  Since it was not my place to judge Brian for cheating on his ship, I decided to go along.  

Stacks up with OG Mills.

 What got me was my change in priorities from when I was about six years old to the current day. I was really into Top Gun back in the day, but my parents weren't very supportive of my oily beach volleyball phase.  So I moved on to my second favorite part, the awesome jets, and was mildly totally obsessed for a long time.  Yet with a flight deck full of supersonic fighter craft above me, I now found myself geeking out over the steam catapult systems and the main propulsion engines.  Brian and I descended into the engine room to validate our education, where we met a retired Chief Engineer from the Navy and introduced ourselves as aspiring naval architects.  We were promptly used as backup in an argument the guy was having with his friend about how much the 448-foot long propulsion shafts twisted while underway at full speed, with our new friend insisting that a shaft could twist over 360 degrees along its length.  We were asked for our expert opinion, and I knew it was my time to shine.


 With a solid month between the day I was asked this and the last time I had to use my brain for anything major, I basically admitted that it sounded like it could be fine in theory but I'd have to double check once I became intelligent again.  I lied about the again part, but he didn't need to know that.

This past Saturday was John Malone's famed annual pool party, although this year the pool was inoperable.  Despite that setback, a great night was had by all as we hung out with alumni new and old not new.  One particularly fun aspect was looking through a collection of binnacles that chronicled the lives of friends, professors, and bosses alike.  What was a lot less fun was
 realizing that anything that goes in that book will forever haunt you like the Ghost of Stupid College Decisions Past.

"Dude, remember that time you-" YES I DO STOP RIGHT NOW.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Top of the World

So it's been over a week since my last update, but I've told myself that I'll start doing this regularly from now on.  The nice part about living alone is that you have your privacy, which is nice when you want some quiet time or have a full-on air guitar rock concert in your living room without explaining yourself to anyone.  The unfortunate part is that nothing too exciting happens until you self-initiate something, usually involving other people.  To ensure a healthy supply of blogging material each week, it looks like I'll be going out and having more adventures from now on.

Us Air Guitar Championships Tickets
Time to put one dream on hold.  For now.

Last Saturday, recent graduate Kyle Manis '12 came down to visit us and show us around some local breweries.  One of these places offered tours, which sounded like a great idea until we got there and realized the entire venue was completely visible from the bar.  Unless the tour brought you into the basement where they keep a tree full of magical Beer Elves, we couldn't imagine anything that would make it worth the time and money. 
Keebler Elves, Keebler Hollow Tree
"It's a sweatshop down there. Send help."
The night was topped off with a relaxing dip in our hot tub, a sentence I'm pretty sure most other Webb interns, let alone most residents of the United States, aren't able to say right now.

The morning saw me off on an adventure as I tried to find a nearby comic store, which was only a few minutes away by car.  Luckily, the car2go service I signed up for last year never expires, so I only had to walk a few blocks to find one.  Unluckily, I picked the one car that decided it had engine problems about four seconds after I started driving.  Since the only symptoms I noticed were a flashing light and a constant alarm noise, I decided to continue my trip and use the experience as a chance to live out some childhood fighter pilot fantasies.
Some people break the sound barrier, I can't even break the speed limit.
 To my agonizing disappointment, I discovered that the little handle next to my seat was in fact the emergency brake and not an ejector seat control.  Nevertheless, I managed to park safely at my destination without the car exploding into an environmentally-friendly ball of flames.  I wasn't particularly thrilled with the idea of driving back home in a car that just spent the past ten minutes telling me how broken it was, so I was met with a degree of relief when I came back later to find out the car was already reserved by somebody else.  With that hot mess officially someone else's problem and nary a trolley station in sight, I steeled my will and began the long walk home.  About an hour later, I managed to drag my lazy carcass back to civilization where I was able to get home relatively easily.

On Wednesday, Connor and Andrew brought me along with them to go rock climbing.  I was pretty thrilled to go out and do something physical for a change, especially if it let me pretend to be Spider-Man for an hour.  Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that my abilities and physical condition gave me more in common with Peter Parker than his alter-ego.

spiderman stunt gone wrong
Nailed it.
After flailing around as a human bait-and-tackle for a couple hours, I dragged myself to the couch and promptly passed out.  The next morning, I woke to find out my hands were so exhausted from desperately clinging on to the wall for dear life that I could barely use them, especially for things that involved any sort of grip.  While this normally would only be an inconvenience, society has dictated that zippered and buttoned pants are part of proper workplace attire almost everywhere.

Unless this guy is your boss. He doesn't believe in zippers either.

Come Friday, Connor asked me if I wanted to go to a different place for what they call bouldering.  To my layman's understanding, the main difference between rock climbing and bouldering is that in the former you (ideally) climb high up with a harness attached, while in the latter you stay relatively close to the ground and go up on your own.  This allowed for a lot more actual climbing in the same amount of time, and is apparently really good practice.  The unfortunate side effect was the constant friction of the rocks made my hands look like I high-fived a belt sander.  But it was a great way to spend the night, and I got some work on my much-lacking skills as a climber.
It's all about the finger strength.

The next day, Connor, Zach, Dave and I drove out into the middle of nowhere to go hiking up a mountain.  After deciding that our slowest runner was designated mountain lion bait, we set out on our journey to climb Mt. Whatchamacallit.  The trail itself vacillated between a sparse desert complete with cacti and tumbleweeds and areas covered in sun-bleached dead trees, lending to a scene not unlike the forests from The Wizard of Oz.  After a few minutes of walking through these trees, our wildlife concerns made an appropriate switch from mountain lions to flying monkeys.
The whole place gets so much worse after sundown.

That night was spent watching V/H/S 2, a "horror" movie that was pretty well done but hard to take seriously.  So we're on the same page here, one section was shot entirely as a zombie with a Go-Pro on his head.  While this movie was no Paranormal Activity, I learned quickly enough that the quality of a movie's thrills don't matter much at all when you're faced with a walk home in the dark to an empty apartment.
Even this can be freaking terrifying with the right environment.
After coming home to a fresh pair of pants, I had a relaxing night's sleep with every light in the apartment on and all my furniture barricading the door. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

All Settled In

Hey everybody!

It's been roughly a year since my last post, but I'm happy to report that I'm back at NASSCO and in San Diego yet again.  While the work last year was fantastic and the city itself amazing, I just couldn't bring myself to give up the "Stay Classy" name for this year's blog.  And so here I am, hanging out in a t-shirt while people back home drive around in vehicles like this:
I saw one of these at the gas station before I left.

I've managed to survive in the unrelentingly perfect weather for four whole days now, barely scraping by with free WiFi and cable in the apartment NASSCO gave me.  Down the street are my fellow victims Dave Smith and Zach Gilfus, who are sheltering my classmate Connor Bennett in their garage.  I haven't seen him since our first day here, but I've been told that this arrangement is completely his idea and in no way illegitimate whatsoever.
I've also been told the decor was his choice.  

Housing has yet again been provided in the Mission Valley area, although this time our neighborhood is over an hour's walk to work rather than 15 minutes. Luckily enough, a trolley stop is near our neighborhood and another one acceptably close to work.  The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System has also been kind enough to provide a rich library of in-ride entertainment for commuters.  While on Monday we were treated to a classical rendition of "Video Game Sound Effects Played Through My Cell Phone" by Highschooler With Traffic Cones Shoved Through His Earlobes, my personal favorite remains the TED Talk on "The Drawbacks and Advantages of Different Colors of Kool-Aid" given by Presumably Drunk Old Man In The Corner. 
Coolness Level: Incalculable

Work itself began this past Monday, with Dave, Zach, myself, and the two freshmen Kyle O'Sullivan and Andrew Arnold all receiving some introductory training and medical examinations.  Subject matter varied from the obvious to the somewhat obtuse, with topics including but not limited to proper workplace safety, firewatch procedures, and "Do Not Ever Ever Ever Go To Tijuana, Seriously, Like Ever, If You Know What's Good For You."
NASSCO and I define "firewatch" differently.

 Much to our chagrin, our marathon of 80's training videos eventually came to an end.  We wished our freshmen good luck in their shipyard adventures, and promptly set out for Mission Valley to begin our adventures in the office.  We made sure to tell Kyle and Andrew all about the Do's and Dont's of shipyard life before they began their real work, and assured them they would have a great time.

"And then I told them, 'Firewatch is exciting, you should volunteer!'"
Our reception into the office went a little rougher than planned, because the security guard at the front desk had no idea who we were.  After attempting to explain to him that we were interns, our new friend decided to verify our story by calling a manager.  While the phone was ringing, I breathed a sigh of relief that we would get this awkward situation behind us soon enough.

"New guys? We're not expecting any." was our savior's response. 
Our first day could have gone a little smoother.

We eventually got the situation figured out, though, when a random guy from IT came to retrieve us.  With only about twenty minutes left in the day, we had just enough time to meet our new bosses and awkwardly sit at our desks for a few minutes before heading home.  Today began a new day of excitement and adventure, in which I was given my first glimpse at the work I'd be doing for the next two months.  It was today that I learned I would be working on the Tote LNG-powered containership.  This is exciting because it's the first time this has been done in the United States.  This is not exciting because I just finished designing a containership for Professor Gallagher and die on the inside every time I see a container.