Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What is an Ericson?

My sailboat is an Ericson. In the slip next to me is a 32 Ericson sailed by Lee. Next to me at my previous marina my Russian comrade has a 29 Ericson and recently I met a fair lady from Dana Point that has a 27 Ericson. The majority of the time the Russian and I sail single handled but this Sunday I was joined by my visitor from the south and we took turns handling the sheets as we matched tacks by the Russian who for a change actually had a shirt on.

The past couple of weeks it has been plain hot until you clear the breakwater then the temperature drops and the sailing is great. Getting out and back the temperature in my cabin averages around 95 on these hot days even with the hatches open and a fan on. This was a three day weekend and there had been two days of rain before hand so the sun was playing peek-a-boo and dark rain clouds were covering the end of Catalina. Going out to the ocean from the depths of Wilmington takes a little over an hour covering 5.1 miles unless you decide to sail and sharpen your tacking drills. This can only be done if the channels are free of container ships, cruise ships, tugs and barges. The cruise ships have large signs posted to stay away from them and the channel is patrolled by the United States Coast Guard, Port police, Los Angeles police, life guard boats, and Sunday the Long Beach patrol boats were over on our side of the harbor. There are two separate harbors, one is the Port of Los Angeles and the other is the City of Long Beach and both are competing for the business of the container ships

Going out the winds were light and I decided to run a 150 Genoa but by four o'clock Hurricane Gulch was white caps on the way back. Besides the whitecaps there was a couple of container ships coming in the harbor entrance, a cruise ship coming out, and one container turning around in the basin. This makes for interesting. The number of sailboats out out numbered the private power boats my a considerable margin as diesel is over $5.00 a gallon and gasoline is not far behind.

The Russian just recently had his boat hauled out and bottom painted and it seems to have increased his performance. Last week I made arrangement to pull mine and have the bottom painted. It was hauled yesterday and now sits drying in the parking lot at Eddies Marine.

Previous Word of The Day
Jilbab and Hidjab

The term jilbab or jilbaab (Arabic جلباب) is the plural of the word jilaabah which refers to any long and loose-fit coat or garment worn by some Muslim women

The Hijab, Muslim Veil, (Islamic dress for women) did not only protect them from those evil eyes of non-believers but also gave them freedom and independence from being misused by them.

Outside the house she wore the full jilbab, which covered the eyes with a separate thin black cloth. She eyed my hidjab with approval, but there was something insufferably cloying about her.

taken from Infidel (page 125) by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Giving Up Golf

Giving Up Golf For The Troops

Warm weather can bring out folks in the morning that you normally don't see. As I have mentioned in an earlier blog my dog requires an early morning walk. Actually several walks a day have been requested but she often doesn't get what she wants. With the temperature reaching a hundred some days it is best to walk, jog or ride early. We usually start out from the house and make a short loop picking up plastic bottles and cans laying in the gutter or bushes across from where we live and return that load then start out again.

We pass through the park then cross over to the bicycle path that runs several miles in each direction along a creek. On Saturday morning the joggers are out in force, so are the riders and strollers. The creek doesn't have much water in it and in summer the water flow is basically run off from driveways and front yards. The water run-off doesn't travel far from the neighbors sprinklers that's aim includes the street, in enters the storm drain, crosses underneath the street then dumps into the park, flows halfway through the park, then underground again and comes out in the creek. Since California is blessed with both a finite water supply and an infinite supply of idiots the ducks continue to swim in our creek after the head waters run dry.

Maybe twice a week the dog and I venture down into the creek bed to harvest the plastic bottles, cans and golf balls that grow there. Actually the golf balls don't grow where we enter the creek bed they swim upstream about a mile from the driving range that borders the creek by the railroad tracks. These balls have escaped the horror of wild swings practiced daily by those who have not given up golf in support of out troops as our noble president has. It is easy to identify those who have escaped as they have a black prison line on them. For a long time I had surmised that the runaways relied on their own efforts until Saturday morning I saw that someone was aiding them. Not unlike discovering Santa Claus I found there was a retired couple emptying their pockets and throwing golf balls into the creek. We approached them and asked what they were doing.

The leader replied that they pick up the balls while they are walking in the morning and when they reach their turn around point they throw them in the creek. Without raising my voice and in as polite manner as possible I explained that those golf balls will eventually wind up in the ocean at Dana Point and it takes lots of effort to remove them before they make a break for the sea and added a personal request that if they need to throw golf balls they could use my driveway as my knees tend to reject climbing up and down the rocks. The leader actually said he was sorry and he would not do it again.

Actually I never started playing golf and can say I have never played the game with the exception of miniature and one visit to a driving range more than forty years ago so please don't confuse me with our president that quits but keeps playing. So I keep these striped critters jailed in a bucket where they are save from further beatings and drowings.

Previous Word of the day:

Poshlost is an untranslatable Russian word (пошлость) defined as a kind of "petty evil or self-satisfied vulgarity" (Alexandrov 1991, p. 106). At more length (and with a more scholarly romanization) Boym (1994, p. 41) writes,
Poshlost' is the Russian version of banality, with a characteristic national flavoring of metaphysics and high morality, and a peculiar conjunction of the sexual and the spiritual. This one word encompasses triviality, vulgarity, sexual promiscuity, and a lack of spirituality. The war against poshlost' is a cultural obsession of the Russian and Soviet intelligentsia from the 1860s to 1960s.

"It is interesting," said Nassrin, "that Nabokov, who is so hard on poshlust, would make us pity the loss of the most conventional forms of life." (page 50)

Taken from Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Catching Up

With the price of gas around the four dollar mark here in Southern California when I go to work on or use my boat I usually stay a couple of days rather than make an extra trip. On Saturday afternoon I had to return home and after entering the Long Beach freeway I was alerted by a sign that the South Bound 405 was closed due to an accident so I went further north to grab another route. As one of the select buttons on the far left had been depressed I was listening to KPFK. My listening to KPFK started when a dollar would get a 57 VW from Santa Monica to Downey and back and the topic of discussion was Locke High School which was in the direction I was headed, though not familiar with the school by name I knew where it was located, Watts. Before the riots I drove through there to work everyday and returned after midnight on the way home. Sometimes we would work overtime and I would speed back in the early AM as fast has the VW could go. At that time the entire trip was on surface streets (only a few freeway existed) which made for a great adventure.

Then the Watts Towers stood across from the railroad track and few if any knew about it. To beat the traffic in the afternoon I would leave early allowing a margin of safety to punch the time card in the time clock but you couldn't punch in to early as that was a no-no. So many a time I would visit the Towers and other sights not known. The city of Los Angeles was not fond of the towers and tried to pull it down once in a test of safety strength. The towers with stood the crane pulling on them and are still hanging in there. Back then you could have climbed them or lived in them as nobody cared.

The first house I lived in was at 78Th Street and Vermont in the City of Los Angeles
which is a few miles from the infamous Watts. After we moved to Santa Monica my father would drive back there almost every week to my grandparent's house. Thomas Wolfe You Can't Go Home Again tells the story of a successful author that writes of his hometown but is faced my hatred when he returns. I have not written any great novel (or any) and I do not wish to go back for different reasons. Visiting there is like pedaling an Orwellian time machine that has several flaws in the drive train and the resulting quantum passage through the wormhole lands me in a parallel universe where the buildings and objects remain the same but I has been relocated to a different country and everyone is speaking a different language. In my blue file cabinet I have boxes of pictures that my father took
and for the present they will suit me just fine. My father didn't mine walking. There was a street car line across the street that ran up and down Vermont but when we went to the Shriner's Family Show at Al Malaikah Temple (Shrine Auditorium) for a Saturday evening performance we would walk to West Jefferson, get a place in line at the door and take turns saving our place in line. My uncle usually got the boring job of standing by the door as my father and I would stroll around USC, Exposition Park, the Armory, Natural History Museum and sometime we would sneak in the Coliseum. Now my daughter instructs at USC when she is not globetreking and she has been know to ask me there.

Previous Word of the day


What explains this? A big part of this reversal is being driven by the rise of petro-authoritarianism. I’ve long argued that the price of oil and the pace of freedom operate in an inverse correlation — which I call: “The First Law of Petro-Politics.” As the price of oil goes up, the pace of freedom goes down. As the price of oil goes down, the pace of freedom goes up.

The above taken from The Democratic Recession

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Navigating The Information

One bad habit among many I have is occasionally watching television while eating. Not too long after my family bought their first TV someone must have invented TV trays so we had those also. We lived in a one bedroom apartment in a building that had five units of which my father built and owned. Several nights a week everyone in the building would join us in front of the set to watch the wrestling matches. It was crowded and noisy with so many in such a small place and the TV set screen was really little.

So last night I sat down in front of the big screen and started watching C-SPAN. This is my new diet I plan on marketing that causes loss of one's appetite without the use drugs. There was a Congressional Committee discussing the current crisis in diesel fuel pricing. That is a subject that does have some bearing directly on my pocket book as my boat has a mighty two cylinder engine hidden under a cover in the cabin. At maximum revs it rattles out twenty horsepower but I have never used more than half throttle which makes consumption rates pretty stingy and since the gas gauge is broken I must check the level from time to time, then add a gallon once a month when using it every weekend. In the last year fuel price had gone up a dollar per gallon and that is really hurting the truck drivers which was the point of the committee on C-SPAN I was watching.

Several of the congressmen were making very valid comments and of course their inputs involved the state they represented. One speaker, Don Young from Alaska, was blasting those who had passed him in the morning doing a hundred while he was driving at fifty five. I continued to watch him and applauded his remarks, then wrote down his name so I could read more about him.

Maybe I should have left the former tug boat operator's name out of my Google search. Then I realized that I have read about his earmarks in the past and as Alaska's sole congressman he has raked in the money for his state and campaign fund with remarkable success. Sometimes it is not a good idea to review a book or film and miss something really good because of a slanted critic. In the case of Don Young I would have to give him a good grade on his speech of last night (actually recorded earlier in the day) but his report card sucks.

No C-Span diet tonight as I am off to the book store with a stop at Trader's Joe for cookies.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Gas Tax Holiday

The Presidential Candidates are saying that we need a Gas Tax Holiday. With reasoning such as that I doubt I could vote for either one of them and since one isn't really ready to get out of Iraq he wasn't my candidate anyway. Go ahead lower the station price of fuel by temporarily removing the excise taxes and how long will the consumer see the lower price; my surmise is less than 24 hours if that long. The following statement was taken from Orange County Business News

Q. What do you think about the idea of cutting the federal tax on gasoline to make it more affordable?
McKenzie: I don’t know. When something is more scarce, you don’t want to make it more affordable. You have to hit people over the head with the true cost. With this price of gas, I’m sure the price of a used Cadillac Escalade or a Ford Excursion has plunged.

My neighbor has both a Escalade and an Excursion in his driveway plus another SUV, a pickup and two more cars. He is quite proud of this and as so many others will continue to drive the largest, gaudiest, ostentatious piece of crap available. The dinosaurs did not disappear over night and it took time for the smaller mammals to flourish. Again today these drivers with only a reptilian brain are still out there clogging the freeways and surface streets requiring a four ton war chariot to transport a body that is in serious need of exercise. Many of these SUVs and trucks have been modified so they stand head and shoulders over everyone and after raising them up and installing oversize off-road tires their mpgs must really double suck. Yet they proudly demonstrate that they are still kings of the road. I will not even go there with Hummers.

If there is a Holiday that long past over do, it would be: Eliminate the Idiots in Government Day

I understand the our president is looking forward to building his presidential library. What is he going to put in it, is he aware that library have books in them?

Previous Word of the Day

"He wallowed down in the scree and pulled off one boot and laid it over the rocks and lowered the forearm of the rifle down into the leather and pushed off the safety with his thumb and sighted through the scope."

pebbles, small stones, from the Old Norse Skroa, to landslide
German, schreiten, to stride

Friday, May 2, 2008

Things Are Picking Up

Once I was an avid reader of the newspaper. I started reading the Sunday Comics pretty early. You could lay out the paper on the front room floor and follow verbatim a fellow on the radio as he read the comics. He didn't read the entire funnies section just the more popular ones such Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, Li'l Abner, Prince Valiant, Dagwood and Blondie. From there I graduated to the Evening Outlook in Santa Monica. Then there were morning papers, afternoon papers, horse race results, special editions and several different publishers to choose from. There was probably a time as an adult that I could not perform certain bodily functions with out reading a morning paper.
Well it is now not that way, reading the newspaper just makes me mad, probably makes others mad too. Maybe that why so many lay in the driveway all day. Just finished reading the noir No Country for Old Men yesterday where a couple of characters in the book no longer read the newspaper. The main character in the story is the Sheriff of Sanderson, Texas. My mother was born in Texas and my Aunt Era was married to the Sheriff of Abilene. He lost the election there the year women got to vote. After that my mother always refused to vote, she never did. I also recently read a book by Jared Diamond where he mentions that when you have reach the age of fifty you have been around long enough to see significant changes that have taken place. So I have been there and done that. Some of these changes may upset you, cause you to be bitter and if you let them fester there is no healing.

Back at the start of the year I unplugged my dish for the TV (try it) and started to read again thanks to a gift from my smarty pants daughter. Really never had stopped reading it just now that my only TV is some NOVA and PBS occasionally so I have much more time to read.
What newspaper reading I do do comes via the Internet and there are news items there that can still make me mad. For example today’s air (missile) strikes by the United States against a terrorist in Somalia. There probably isn't much that I can do as an individual about Somalia and writing letters to my senators or congressman in my opinion is a waste of bandwidth. In Three Cups of Tea Greg Mortenson tells how he tried to communicate to those in Washington about the horrors in Afghanistan after we (US) started to use cruise missile there and he says it was a waste of time writing letters in protest, read the book, it is well worth the time. Using him as an example, that one person can make a difference, in my case although a very small difference a difference, I started following an old rule we had when we went to the desert riding or camping, always bring back more trash that you take out. It is very easy to do and some people will think you are crazy (maybe I am) but where ever you go just bend over and pickup some trash, dispose of it or recycle it. After a while your side of the street will be clean and you will have to cross over, travel farther and maybe someone will see you picking up and try doing it for themselves. "Monkey see monkey do", I said that not Darwin (another person that made a big difference).

Instructions to follow: