Thursday, August 21, 2008

Storm Fools

I love it when the CNN reporter is telling people to get off the beach at St. Augustine in the midst of tropical storm Fay, and giving the excuse that he "has to be" out there.

Since when was it an absolute necessity for the viewing public to see some guy getting pelted by rain and blown by wind to tell us that it's stormy outside? I am quite certain I'd get the picture with a bit of footage shot through a window.

The nerve and hypocrisy of it all just irks me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Got my Copyright

It only took about a month, but this week sometime, the US copyright office finally issued my copyright for my Literary Work. Unfortunately, it is none too literary, but at least it's on record. The work was registered for the bargin basement price of $35. Frankly, with what I pay for my other government documents, it really is a bargin, but they still take a month to do anything.

Anyhow, the book is called _Voyage of the TEXAS CLIPPER II: A Celestial Navigation Experience_. The book is my navigation notebook from when I was a junior deck cadet on board that ship sailing with the Texas A&M cadet corps. For non-navigators, it is incomprehensible as it is mostly mathmatical reductions of lines of positions from celestial bodies along with the plotting of those lines finding the ship's position and daily travels.

I have even found an "e-publisher" for the work. If anyone would like to see my terrible handwriting, and plotting work, feel free to download the .pdf file from this page:

Be forewared, it is just under 6MB in size, so might take awhile on dialup.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Colombia Bar

I watched a show on TruTV last night. It was called “One Wrong Step” and the series premier was about the Colombia River Bar Pilots. To those who might not know, a pilot is a navigational officer with extensive knowledge in both shiphandling and of the local waterways; who comes aboard the ship to assist the crew in getting the vessel into, and out of, port. The pilot will board out to sea and then conn (give the helm and engine orders; akin to “driving” the ship) the ship into the port and finally will dock the ship (usually). The pilot will also help the ship leave port.

The Colombia bar is one of the more difficult pilotages in the world because of the sand bar that develops where the Colombia River, flowing to the West, hits the prevailing swell of the Pacific which comes from the West. This makes for very rough conditions on the bar on a regular basis.

The show was good in that it showed some large ships dealing with everything from a sports fisherman who was getting in the way of a 900 foot long bulk carrier, to the difficulties in getting on an off the ship by either helicopter or boat, and the way the ships move when they encounter those seas. The visuals were very good and some of the ships rolled like mine does, a good 20-30 degrees.

The show, being a reality show, tends to exaggerate and create dramatic suspense even when there really was none. They seemed to always portray the pilot getting on and off the ladder was about impending doom, yet each transfer went off with no trouble. No pilots nearly fell, and there was no issue. I have seen better action trying to get my crew onto my ship on these same ladders.

The biggest irritation to me as a professional mariner (and you’ll have to forgive my pickiness here), is that they made it out to seem that the pilot took over command of the ship as soon as he came aboard. They said that the pilot took control of the ship from the regular captain to get the vessel into port. They even went so far as to say “Fully qualified Captain” which is something that they just made up. They also said that the pilot’s crew was checking the cargo, and other such nonsense. Let me be clear, the ship’s master, the real “Captain,” is ALWAYS in charge of these ships with only two exceptions, and clearing the Colombia Bar is not one of them. The captain has the final say, as the pilot is literally just a local consultant who recommends a course of action. There have been times that the captain has over-ridden the orders of the pilots when I was aboard a ship. The ship is the Captain’s responsibility, not the pilot’s.

Another thing that irked me was that they always called the pilot “captain.” While this may happen, it can cause confusion on the bridge. In the US flag fleet, we tend to address him as “Mr. Pilot” so as not to confuse him with the Master. In the US merchant marine, the only ones who are called captain are those individuals who have commanded a ship. There are many pilots out there who have never done so, and some who do not even hold a Master’s license. If the pilot is a known former Master of a ship, we might call him “captain” when offering him coffee or other civilities, but we always call him “Mr. Pilot” in official situations.

Other then overstating the pilot’s position, the show was good and it was a nice picture of what goes on out there when the weather gets nasty and you have to get the ship in and out of port.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Newly Discovered Ancestors

I was in the library in Cutchogue the other night and noticed that the computers were displaying an announcement that the library was a subscriber to I had some time to kill, so decided to give it a spin by looking up my mother’s paternal family.

My grandfather was mum on much of the family history of his father’s side of the family. Apparently they were merchants in Queens, NYC and lost their means during the Depression and his side of the family was left out in the cold for the most part.

The wonders of the internet and the US Census of 1900, 1880 and 1870 gave me the family from my great-grandfather to his great-grandfather, who was born in 1823 in a place listed as “Baden.” The trouble is that I don’t know which Baden they are referring to. I find a Baden, Austria and a German state of Baden-Wurttemberg. In either case, it definitively proves that the name is Germanic instead of Portuguese which is the typical roots for that particular surname.

I also found another name line that I will have to explore. The name of one of the wives was Maggie Tiemann, which is another German name, but I don’t know anything about it. Ah, the research can be endless.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Joined Facebook This Weekend

I joined Facebook this weekend. Amazing how many people I know are on it. I know, it should be obvious, but still it's exciting. Most of the people are from East Catholic, but there are a few Maritimers on there as well. It will be fun catching up with everyone.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Jersey Shore

Brooke and I went to the Jersey shore last weekend. To be specific, we stayed at a B&B called The Cameo Rose in North Wildwood, but also spent Sunday touring Cape May.

We had a good time on the Boardwalk Friday evening. I got to test out my new Nikon D700 camera and see if the reviews of its high ISO performance were accurate. I have to say that it blew me away with the color and noise qualities at ISO 3200 and 6400. Using no flash an my f2.8 mid-range zoom, I was capturing images I hadn't thought possible. A selection of the shots are on my Flickr page.

We had a good time on the beach Saturday where Brooke and I each made sand castles, although hers is vastly superior to my effort. We tried the water, but as I suspected, it was far too cold for me, and even Brooke wasn't in the mood to try and brave the water.

The biggest issue of the weekend was on Saturday night when we tried to see a movie at the Sunset Cinema Movie on the Beach. Here is the review I posted on a travel advisor site. It is probably the most scathing review I've ever written, and I am going to write the BBB and perhaps the state. I am irate over the treatment I received, and since I have lots of time, I will make it my near-term mission.

Here's the review:
To be fair they do warn you that if the weather turns bad, you won't get a cash refund, but what they don't tell you is that this included technical difficulties.

We arrived at 5 PM and there was a 30% chance of showers, so I bought my tickets. We walked the boardwalk then returned at 5 after 8 PM only to find that the show had been cancelled. Puzzled as there were clear skies and still only a 30% chance of showers I went back to the box office to find out what was going on.

The self-declared manager first claimed that the technican had looked on the internet and found a 90% chance of rain. When I showed her my phone with the latest NWS forecast and confronted her with the fact that people were saying the sound system was not working; she said that she didn't make the call to cancel, but the tech did. I find it strange that the manager abdicates such calls to technicians, but that's another point.

I then spoke with the tech and he said that the owner made the call to cancel and that he had spent the whole day trying to fix the sound to no avail, and seemed only vaguely aware of weather in the area.

They were smart enough not to say to me that they cancelled because of the sound system, but all the evidence points to technical problems, and not weather as the reason the show was cancelled.

So even though the weather was fine for the rest of the weekend, I was out $15 for parking (no refund at all there), and $18 for 2 tickets (they offer rain checks which is only good if you are going to return that season) because they didn't have the ethics to not sell tickets or at least offer refunds knowing that their equipment was questionable for the showing.

I'd love to actually review the movie, but since I didn't actually get to see it, I can't say much to that effect.

I need to formulate my letters with a bit more detail and opinion. I tried to stick to the facts for the most part above.

Photo Co-opted

I had a photo from my Flickr page Co-oped by a reporter from Canada. Here is a link to the story.

It is the fish picture labeled "jcaoy"

Here is the Flickr link to the photo: