Something Smells Fishy


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Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Bay of Plenty » Tauranga
July 31st 2010
Published: July 31st 2010
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Hello everyone! I have a job now (if only an on call basis one) working at a fish factory. I had always thought that fish were caught out in the ocean, but apparently they just come out of a hole in the wall on a conveyor belt in this place. I can only assume that there is a massive workshop on the other side with cheap backpacker labour where they make the fish. They probably divide the workers into sections like bones, guts, meat, skin, final paint, and the job they all dream of one day having, the slime guy (as in the guy who gets to spray all the smelly fish slime on the finished work). The fish come out pretty fast too so either the people are working really fast, or they just have hundreds of them.

I joke of course but this place is one huge maze of conveyor belts and fish packing stations. We all have to get dressed up in white cover-alls, white gumboots, a stylish hairnet, with some rubber gloves and disposable white plastic sleeves and top it all off with a thick white plastic apron (I’ll try to get a picture next time). I started my first day mostly in the position of (what I like to call) Fish Orientation Specialist, where in the person simply stands at the end of a conveyor where the jumbled fish come, straight from the bins and drop them onto another conveyor with slots and put a single fish in every slot all facing the same direction. It is as mentally stimulating as it sounds, and since we can’t have music players, your brain sort of switches off. You have time to ponder the great questions of the universe, your place in it, and why everything smells like fish.

The second day was much the same, but toward the end of the it I was moved into a packing position to fill in for someone who went home. Only slightly more thought intensive than the Fish Orienting position the Seafood Product Presentation Engineer (as I like to call it) is only required to open a box, put a bag in said box, put a layer of fish in that bag in that box, and a plastic sheet into that bag and box and layer of fish, and fill the rest of it with the rest of the pre weighted fish in your hopper, before wrapping the top of the bag over the whole thing. Wash rinse repeat until there are no more fish. I’m pretty sure I calculated pie while at this station (FYI the answer is 6).

On the third day (oh glorious Friday) I was a Quality Assurance Officer A.P.T.B.W. (As Pertaining to Box Weight ) where the packaged fish the Seafood Product Presentation Engineers make come down the conveyor to a digital scale. They must be from 20.01kg to 20.49kg or that section of the conveyor stops until the weight is rectified. At times I need to add a few fish or take a few fish out, but on this day there was a 3 hour period where I would sometimes have to add up to 3kg of fish (most of this grade fish are between .25kg and .6kg) or remove up to 2.5kg because some of the scale measurements were off further up the line. Of course the time where I had to add up to 3kg came before the time I had to remove the up to 2.5kg, so every 10th box had to be pulled off to use as fill fish. Following that little escapade, I had to remove up to 10 fish (Mackerel) from many of the boxes and toss them into a bin that could hold maybe 35kg at best, therefore the supervisor (or sadist as I like to call her) told me to get a box and bag and plastic sheet and pack those fish away as I had the previous day, only to do it while I was weighing the other boxes as well! So there I am: add some fish or take some out with anywhere from 2 seconds to 10 seconds in between boxes to throw 1 or 2 fish into my own 20kg box and make it look neat.

In any case I lived through it and honestly can’t complain all that much because the weigh station is one of the cushier (not to mention cleaner) jobs on average. With any luck I’ll be there again when we’re called in next time.

Other than the work front, I’m still in Tauranga and kicking back at the hostel. We celebrated Anika’s birthday a couple weeks ago by going to a bowling ally (her wishes). The only one we found here was a 10-pin place which was fun once you got the hang of it. I got a couple of strikes but Timo won the first 2 rounds and Anika won the 3rd. Many people were surprised to hear that bowling isn’t that big a thing where I’m from and they were even more surprised to hear that I’ve never been 10-pin bowling with a ball that has finger holes. They call bowling with a smaller ball kegeln (keeg-len) and don’t usually play that in Germany. Cosmic bowling after 9pm was a new and confusing experience for them as they don’t have anything like that back home either.

Tobias and Timo left heading south toward Wellington earlier this week. We had a BBQ send off for them the weekend before where everyone (10 people) paid something like $15 and bought a huge bunch of steaks, burgers, sausages, and chicken steaks, along with some fixings for pasta salad and a big cheesecake! We hung out in the sun all day at the picnic tables adjacent to the propane barbecue and only went in because it got too dark and cold out for most so we continued inside!

One last thing I’ll add before I go, I made myself some picture eggs for dinner tonight and everyone (from Germany and Taiwan) here was dumbfounded by them. They were all asking if this was authentic Canadian cuisine! This isn’t just a Canadian thing is it? Maybe North American? Anyway I taught them how to make them and they’re going to give it a shot tomorrow.

That’s all for now, talk to you later!

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31st July 2010

Hi
What are 'picture eggs'? I have never heard of them. Are you sure they are Canadian? I don't even think they are 'Logan'. We are having a lovely but foggy July. Hopefully, we will see more sunshine in August. No rain though! I'm working 3 part time jobs so am pretty much on the go every day! Take care, La Rae
31st July 2010

What are picture eggs? I'll ask Hans. Must be a PoCo thing. cheers, Leslie
31st July 2010

Too Funny
Eric, enjoyed this entry vey much. You have a very humorous trend of mind...however pi is not 6! Picture egss is not, to my knowledge , solely Canadian. Keep in touch, Love Dad.
1st August 2010

Picture eggs ?
Well you got me there , i don't know what picture eggs are ! Maybe they havent made their way to Vancouver Island yet. Mackerel packing sounds like a nice place to convince you that higher education may actually have merit ! I remember a "I Love Lucy" episode on TV that depicted the conveyor running amuck and mackerel flying every where, quite like you descibed. (sorry it was a 60"s show). I was out fishing in Barkley Souind last few days and caught 3 large springs(chinook) and 4 coho ,not great fishing but enough to have a good feed. It was great talking to you on "skype"(?) at gramma"s "bun fight".Just think people were impressed when the first message came through the cable from New Zealand and Flemming Island in the early 1900"s to Bamfield ,now we just get on the computer and real time video link! Whats next? Your in the early days of winter ,how do you compare it to this hemisphere?Boots and rain gear the norm I suppose.Are you thinking about Austrailia still? There are so many things to see when you travel as you and your freinds drift through the country,I would think it is hard to look ahead to the hop to Austrailia. If you are still wallowing in fish ,snap a pic of a Mackerel,I'm always curious re: comercial fishing from down under. Keep up the good notes and pic's, it's great to read between the lines and realize you are having a "Life time experiance". Stan
2nd August 2010

Must of felt like home
Boy, having a job that your dealing with fish must feel like your on the west coast again. And I'm sure they all smell the same all over the world. Good to hear that your able to get jobs while your over there. I don't think picture eggs came from anywhere - they just happened when people got bord with just toast and eggs. But I must say they are dam good when your hungary. Good to hear your doing so well and having a great time too. Take care Aunty Jan
3rd August 2010

Picture eggs
Picture eggs are easy to make! Cut a square hole out of the middle of a slice of bread, add oil to pan, throw bread into heated pan, crack egg into hole in bread, and flip when the bread is browned. I've been told that they may also be called "Toad in a Hole" but I've not confirmed that. I do still plan to go to Australia, but I plan to go to the south island in New Zealand here first. I'll probably be moving on on a southern direction in a month and a bit. I'll be sure to get some pictures when I get a chance!
7th November 2010

Picture eggs in Alberta by any other name...
Folks out here in the flatlands call them "eggs in a nest" or "eggs in a basket". I had never seen such a thing until I moved to Alberta though...but it is a fun way to have toast and eggs all together as one! Getting caught up on your adventures now that I have the link again. As we talked about on Facebook, I had an airplane visiting Taupo in October...they quite enjoyed it - I later learned that the point of the visit was for fly fishing. Apparently it rained for 3 out of the 5 days but that didn't deter them. I find it slightly ironic that they would go all the way to NZ for fly fishing when arguably the best fly fishing in the world is in Canada!
7th November 2010

Picture eggs in Alberta by any other name...
Folks out here in the flatlands call them "eggs in a nest" or "eggs in a basket". I had never seen such a thing until I moved to Alberta though...but it is a fun way to have toast and eggs all together as one! Getting caught up on your adventures now that I have the link again. As we talked about on Facebook, I had an airplane visiting Taupo in October...they quite enjoyed it - I later learned that the point of the visit was for fly fishing. Apparently it rained for 3 out of the 5 days but that didn't deter them. I find it slightly ironic that they would go all the way to NZ for fly fishing when arguably the best fly fishing in the world is in Canada!

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