WEEK 42 2008
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Picture of the Week
17 March 2002
Ago, This Week, 2002
Ago, This Week, 2003
Years Ago, this
Ago, This Week, 2005
This Week, 2006
|A Year Ago,
This Week, 2007
- I was talking to my brother Bob, and he had a story about our his
old boat. After returning from our trip to Anacapa he decided to try
out the newly repaired outboard on the Pig Heavy Weather.
It being near the change of tide and there being almost no wind he
backed out of the slip and motored into the Sacramento River, heading
upstream. About a mile out the motor started acting up. When he checked
it the propeller was gone.
Apparently the shop that repaired it didn't tighten the nut properly or
forgot the cotter pin. In any case he simply raised the sails and
ghosted back to and into the marina and his slip,
coming to a
stop just kissing the dock and stepping ashore to tie up again. No
doubt the locals and people in the overlooking marina cafe think he's a
tremendously talented seaman to sail into a very small and cramped
marina and slip. And you know, they might just be right...
In other "Hey kids, let's
have fun sailing!" sailing news Zac
Sunderland is now in
Cocos Keeling and trying to get some repairs done.
He'd broken his tiller, repaired it, but the tiller repair failed while
he was asleep and the boat jibed, thereby breaking the mainsail boom:
morning I got a call from Zac early. I thought that maybe he was
excited about his arrival at Cocos Keeling and couldn't sleep. He had
been sleeping when he was awakened by a loud crashing sound and the
boat slamming around. He ran up to see what was going on and saw that
the tiller had come off of the Tiller Pilot causing an accidental jibe.
This is when the direction of the boat is changed so that the wind
switches to the other side of the boat. This can be a violent motion
and causes the boom to crash to the other side of the boat. I'm not
clear why Zac didn't have his preventer hooked up but I suppose he
didn't feel he was in any danger of jibing under his current point of
sail. I cannot imagine what he thought as he looked and saw that his
boom had completely broken in two! The boom is the metal bar that
extends from the mast to hold down the bottom part of the sail. He
wasn't in that much wind at the time (about 15 knots). He figures that
the boom was weak because of age and an accumulation of wear and tear
from heavy use.
I think a bad jibe, even at low speed, could break a good boom. But
he's on the spot and looking at the bits. If the ends of the break are
corroded it's something that was in progress and bound to happen sooner
or later; if bright and shiny it's new damage from the jib alone. Not
that it matters, stuff like this happens on a voyage. Now he's trying
to to get it fixed before the local storm season starts. Or, I suppose,
he could go 'loose footed' with less power and boat speed, or have a
wooden boom made up.
Sometimes I hate to look at that blog, because Zac's doing what I want
to do. Except I wouldn't be in such a hurry.
There is a squirrel who has been eating out of the lower bird feeder.
I'd take a picture, but every time I stand up and walk to the window my
canine companion runs over to the window seat to
investigate what I'm looking at, and scares it away.
Book #49 was
Dave Weber's Hell
Hath No Fury.
Eh. It was the sequel to Hell's Gate, and is much the same. In fact I
see the outlines of the series clearly. First one side will have an
advantage - guns and mortars, then the other - dragons and magic. Each
book will have one big battle, and lots of politicking between the
good guys and the really
really bad guys. It is, in
short, his Honor Harrington series with the serial numbers filed off,
as the diagram of his 'multiverse' makes clear. I feel a bit used when
I read it - will there be ten sequels, or twenty? Oh well, no one is
forcing me to read it, and it passed a few tired and sore footed hours
when I had nothing else to do.
And I'm caught up on listing books read,
finally, no doubt to my (imaginary?) readers relief.. What next? Dunno.
I've a tape of
baseball anecdotes, but that seems hardly fitting for the big #50.
On the other hand it might be considered biography, or history (sort
of), and I'm due for that. Also the library will want the tapes back
Friday 17 October
- a mornings' work, then up to northern California. I hit Livermore at
a bad time, essentially slowing to 25mph from there all the way to
Pleasant Hill. Sheesh.
I finished Book #48,
by Jonathan Turk along the way. It was short, only two tapes, and
mildly interesting. Turk is a self proclaimed adventurer, attempting in
turn to kayak the Straits of Magellan, to row the Northwest Passage, to
dogsled to Baffin Island. He doesn't prepare correctly, doesn't use
correct gear and generally exercises terrible judgment. He fails
repeatedly to finish his 'expeditions' (and doesn't go back and retry
with his improved knowledge), and should by rights have been killed.
Finally, with his wife along, he manages to kayak/portage to Greenland
from Canada. It's pretty clear that it's her
better judgment that allows him to finish, and to his credit he admits
He is aided by strangers repeatedly - on just the dogsled trip it's the
Inuit who give him a caribou hide parka to replace the down jacket that
would have inevitably have iced up inside, who tell him where to fish,
and an Inuit hunter 'who just happens' to be going ahead of him in a
snowmobile & thereby leaves tracks for him to follow, and who
'accidentally' drops a jerry of diesel heating fuel at a critical
stage. Clearly the knowledgeable locals are watching out for the
Amazon reviewers give the tale four stars, but I wouldn't want to
travel with Jon.
Thursday 16 October
- Stupid Dodger's. That was one of the worst ball games I've ever
watched. Three errors by a shortstop in a single inning, in a playoff
game? I'm glad the series is over, I couldn't take any more.
Book #47 was
Solomons Mines*, by H. Rider Haggard. It is a bit dated - but
then it was first published in 1885.
What seem obvious cliches and denouements were fresh and original then,
well, for the most part. Novels had been around for a while, after
all... Anyway, a fun read, and almost nothing like any of the various
movies that I've seen that were purportedly based on it. It might be
fun to get all the movies and watch and compare them. Perhaps one is
true to the book?
A thing or two struck me. Haggard was obviously a novice at planning
bush trips: our intrepid adventurers are setting out across at least
160 miles of pathless desert, so they each bring one gallon of water.
They bring ten
pounds of food (!) but no tent or awning for
the daylight hours; they do bring three rifles, three revolvers and
hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Alan Quartermain, the narrator and
old African veteran has a nickname: Macumazan, which means 'ever
vigilant' or 'unsleeping'. But time and time again he is surprised or
tricked, by Zulu's, by white men, even by - I kid you not - a little
old lady. But there is humor as well, particularly at the expense of
the naval officer, Captain Good, who provides the books' comic relief.
Recommended. This has been my "commute" tape for the last week or so,
now I need something new.
I thought I might follow up King Solomons Mines with Haggards' She
("She Who Must be Obeyed"),
but find that according to Amazon.com it exists only in a highly
abridged audio format - 2 audio cassettes. KSM was ten. Odd.
Well, onto Plan B: LibriVox
of She, and She
and Alan for free
in MP3 format. Problem is that my Explorer has the stock Ford
AM/FM/Cassette/CD player, it predates MP3's. I suppose I could update
that - the CD player is unusable anyway these days, with skipping
Then onto the lesser known She versus
the Martians and that new favorite: Indian Jones
Wednesday 15 October 2008
- a long hot day. But it could be worse, I could be fighting forest
hotter and windier conditions as some are doing, in the Southern
California canyons. And, in mid afternoon, it cooled down a
bit, from the 90F or so, due to a high haze layer. I had thought it was
haze, until I saw the sun halo. That is characteristic of ice
at high altitude. I took a photo of the halo's reflection off the
Explorers' back window, so
that I wouldn't damage the camera:
Looking it up on wikipedia, it was probably a 22°
Tuesday 14 October 2008
- the fires are still burning. We could see helicopters going in and
out of Camarillo airport, with the big water buckets beneath. Big
Chinooks and also the smaller single rotor jobs. As yesterday, very
windy in the early morning, fairly calm in the afternoon.
There was a full moon, glaring down at me as I drove home on Ca-126 for
a brief stretch this evening. Very bright. I suppose the Santa Ana's
blow all the moisture and dirty air out to sea.
Book #47 was
by Ted Widmer and Arthur M.Schlesinger. AMS is the series editor, this
is in the American Presidents series, so Widmer is probably the primary
author. He's good too, since he makes Van Buren interesting. Like all
the AP series it's a bit short, but well done in this particular case.
Van Buren was a cautious and calculating politician - no one would call
him a statesman - and was responsible for the serious establishment of
the political party as an organized system in American politics.
The early leaders: Washington, Adams, Jefferson claimed to dislike and
disapprove of parties. For Washington this was probably true, for
Jefferson untrue, for Adams...mostly true. Parties existed,
particularly after Jefferson, but there was a polite fantasy
they didn't: gentlemen didn't run
for office, they merely acceded gracefully if it was thrust upon them
by others (Jefferson for example, working furiously behind the scenes
for a nomination or win was a master of this illusion).. Van Buren
swept that away and established a fairly rigorous and disciplined
system in the state of New York, though there were later issues when he
left the state.
The Crash of 1837, second only to the Crash of the Great Depression
occurred during his second year in office, and pretty well put an end
to any ambitions for a second term, or much accomplished in the first
term. Even then American's liked to blame the hapless incumbent
president for the
economic woes he generally justs inherits.
Martin Van Buren was famous for one other thing: he popularized the use
of the word "OK"
by using it in his speeches: 150 years later it's still one of the most
widely used words in the world.
Presidential Biographies read so far:
John Quincy Adams
Marten Van Buren
Next, I suppose, is Monroe. James Monroe is the last of the
Revolutionary War veterans - Jackson was a boy then. Also another
Virginian, I think. Van Buren was succeeded by Harrison, for a week or
two, until he died, and his VP, Tyler, took over.
Monday 13 October 2008
- man, those Dodgers' are out to give me a heart attack. Well, if they
win the next three straight they can still make it to the series.
Back at work - the county doesn't take Columbus Day, so neither do I.
Driving down from Lancaster and entering onto the I-5 from the 14 I
could see the flames off to the east, just a few miles away. Very
striking against the pitch black smoke, and the smoke silhouetted in
turn against the lightening morning sky. The winds were strong, and
rather than going up the smoke was kept down close to the ground, and
dense. Tim tells me they've fires down in the San Diego area as well.
The winds were strong all morning in Camarillo, Santa Ana's, they
started to die down in the afternoon.
Sunday 12 October 2008
- well, how about those Dodger's. I'm not sure why the Dodger pitcher
almost beaned that guy...something from game 2? Still, it was a win and
I'll take it.
#36 I hereby declare to be Juggler
by Larry Niver and Edward Lerner. It's sort of a
wrapper, combining all the old Beowulf Shaeffer stories into a novel,
with fairly good results. It's all tied together from the viewpoint of
a United Nations agent tasked with spying on aliens - specifically the
Puppeteers. That part is well done, but once the new
stuff is included with the thread from this years Book #10 Fleet
of Worlds, it becomes a bit bogged down and not as
interesting. A good read none the less, recommended.
Book #46 is
Neal Stephenson's Anathem.
It's an interesting book. It imagines a world where there are
universities, of a sort. The twist is that the inhabitants of these are
in groups that only interact with the outside world (and each other, to
large extent) at specified intervals - some yearly, some once a
decade, some once every century, and some once in a thousand years. An
alien spaceship appears in orbit, and this society has to start
interacting with the outside world, and the aliens. Well done and
interesting. Also lot of discussion about the actual reality
of what I take to be platonic
ideals in geometry and math (and elsewhere). It runs out of steam at
the finale and just sort of... ends. Nonetheless, recommended.
we are progressing arithmetically once again: