Monthly Archives: April 2008

An excess of silicone…

I guess this is what comes with a 31 year old boat that’s been through several owners and declining care. Fortunately the mechanical issues were handled, oil changes and such, were attended to, and that is what counts the most. But when it came to other random maintenance, I suppose the intentions were good, but the repairs, in some cases, did more damage than good. Boats, by nature, develop leaks as they age and bedding loses its bond. Hatches, ports, fittings, you name it. Water finds its way into places it isn’t meant to be, and left unchecked, does damage.  I suppose you can say he tried, but apparently, the previous owner’s solution was to apply liberal amounts of silicone to the areas in question. As I said, it seems well intentioned. But often, silicone is NOT the ideal sealant, as it has a tendency not to stay sealed, yet is near impossible to remove.  One such example, the running lights, while minor, is aggravating all the same. These massive, heavy, intricately constructed masterpieces are presently buried beneath a rubbery, opaque film of gop that has sealed them together, yet did not keep the intended water out. Internal electrical in the starboard light was replaced with non-marine grade components, which corroded to a lump of rust. Yesterday, I spent three hours with an assortment of razor blades and picks, removing this silicone snot, yet more silicone long ago oozed into inaccessible areas, and the light is still sealed quite securely together.


Hmmm… I think that might be one of mine!

Where did I leave those rose-colored glasses?

I finally found them, but it took all weekend, and required a whole lot of scrubbing, scraping, and tossing of many hefty bags. This is what you get for buying a 31 year old boat.  We knew the previous owners had let maintenance slide over recent years, and in the light of a bright sunny day, it was becoming apparent just how much. There was a point we began to question our sanity, but forged ahead all the same. Gradually she began to resemble the boat we imagined her as.

Then there’s the ladders. The boat is backed to a retaining wall beside a launch ramp. We park on the side of the ramp. I put a ladder there so I don’t have to walk the long way around. That’s about 4 feet. A 10 foot ladder beside the boat almost reaches to the side deck. Climb aboard, down into the cockpit and it’s another 8 feet up to the bridge, where I was doing much of my work. Add, then multiply by every time I got to the top, then realized a tool I needed was down in the car. On the bright side, my arms and legs will look great by time we launch.

And yes, I am having fun! (Which again, says something about my sanity.)

I see Thestrals…

Too often.

I’m going about nothing much, and I glance out the window for a moment. Some movement caught my eye. The neighbor’s cat is flipping something small and live in the air. So I run out, chasing the cat off, and find the resulting damage. It’s a baby hare, small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, so perfect and beautiful if not for the clearly broken back and large chunk of exposed thigh muscle. There’s nothing I can do, and I know it, but I can’t leave it there, with the cat lying in the bushes, just waiting. This isn’t the food chain here, Fluffy has a bowl of Friskies waiting at home, and I have a dying bunny nestled in my hand.

Why is it I always seem to find these things, enough that I know by the way it’s breathing it only has a minute, maybe two. So I hold it, and the breaths become slower, more strained, the racing heart beats unevenly. The cat waits. A last gasp, then limpness. My neighbor pulls in as I stand with a handful of dead baby bunny.

“Cat got another one, eh?” He laughs. “Least those things breed like, well, you know. And cats, well, you know how they are.”

Yeah, I do. Almost every night my kids stalk and kill that elusive little red dot from the laser pointer. Ruthlessly, relentlessly. They wake me as they play hockey with a hair tie, or some string, or just chase each other up and down the halls. They’re fond of stalking cornstarch packing noodles and knocking change off the counter. High score if it ends up in the dog water bowl. Yesterday they unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper. I know how cats are.

I walked away and buried the hare in my flowerbed. At least it got a decent burial.

Count down to launch…

30 days and counting. One month, possibly less, and Annabel Lee will be off the hard. The yard is looking to get everything that floats floating ASAP, so as soon as we give the word, in she goes. But first, she needs bottom paint, new zincs, and there’s issues with the steering and shifting that need attention.

More reasons to question the term ‘humanity’…

And this is called ‘ART’??? Why?

Outrage at ‘starvation’ of a stray dog for art

Gerard Couzens in Madrid
Sunday March 30, 2008

Chaining up a dog and forcing it to go without food and water in the name of art is a surefire way of making yourself unpopular with animal lovers. The furore created by Damien Hirst’s pickled sheep and Tracey Emin’s dirty bed pales into insignificance against the international outrage Guillermo ‘Habacuc’ Vargas has unleashed.

The Costa Rican has been called an animal abuser, killer and worse over claims that a stray dog called Natividad died of starvation after he displayed it at an exhibition last year at the Códice Gallery in Managua, Nicaragua. Vargas tethered the animal without food and water under the words ‘Eres Lo Que Lees’ – ‘You Are What You Read’ – made out of dog biscuits while he played the Sandinista anthem backwards and set 175 pieces of crack cocaine alight in a massive incense burner. More than a million people have signed an online petition urging organisers of this year’s event to stop Vargas taking part.

Vargas, 32, said he wanted to test the public’s reaction, and insisted none of the exhibition visitors intervened to stop the animal’s suffering. He refused to say whether the animal had survived the show, but said he had received dozens of death threats.

Juanita Bermúdez, director of the Códice Gallery, insisted Natividad escaped after just one day. She said: ‘It was untied all the time except for the three hours the exhibition lasted and it was fed regularly with dog food Habacuc himself brought in.’

There’s far more on this, if you can stomach the search of the artist’s name and the photos you’ll find, including references to other so-called ‘art’. Personally, I think people like this should be banished from the planet. There’s a petition to have his ‘art’ banned, though it seems to be getting so many hits it won’t load for me. Sadly, even an outcry against him is still media attention.

Kitties meet Vista…

Humorous Pictures

No, the kitties haven’t pwned my computer.  The last few weeks, I’ve been in ‘revision’ mode, working on edits. Funny how sometimes you can’t see the forest for all the trees, and I needed to do some pruning, replanting, and fertilizing. I finally finished, only to have Vista screw me over, (see previous post), but I think I fixed most of that.  Unfortunately, due to generally crappy weather, the start of ‘get boat ready for launch’ is in holding for yet another weekend.  Damn! Oh well. Another weekend of chores around the house and writing. Let the mayhem continue!


I know it’s been said before by so many others…

funny cat picture, lolcats on interwebs

Well HERE’S your problem! Your intertubes are clogged with lolcats.


I won’t even go into the many reasons we’ve all sadly been subjected to, as that horse has been beaten by others far more tech-savvy than I.  And I won’t discuss how it conflicts with an otherwise reliable navigation program I was running on a laptop last fall, shutting everything down just as it’s getting dark and we’re approaching a tricky inlet with rollers curling over the breakwalls. Yet another reason why you always keep paper charts out and ready, and stick to them. Electronics are only a backup. But that’s another story.

Most times, I write on my vintage 1998 Toshiba laptop, 3 pounds of portability wrapped in a bumper-sticker covered titanium case. I’ve vowed not to replace it until (gods forbid) it stops working or something that better suites my needs comes along. Needless to say, the old Toshiba keeps ticking away, running Windows 98SE. I’d love to bring it up to XP, but if it ain’t broke…

There is one shortcoming this little ‘puter has. Norton’s antivirus has bloated to such a point, it slows the limited memory and such down to a virtual stand-still. So I’ve stopped with the vaccinations, removed Norton’s, and basically don’t go on line with the laptop. It’s purely for writing, and I have a new desktop for all online activities. This actually makes the laptop ideal for writing, because it’s eliminated all other distractions. However, it means if I’m printing or sending a file, it goes to on a USB chip and into the new computer. As I’m working, Vista tells me it’s found some new updates, and wants to reboot to install them. Click ‘NO’. As in, I decide when you reboot, and I’m busy now. I’m down to some final revisions, a mere word here, punctuation there. I’m making some last fixes, and ……..


Oh, wait. The computer’s turning back on. Vista has updated (thank you so very much) and almost seems pleased with itself. Oh, and here’s your file, recovered since your last save.

Omit extensive cursing, similar to when the nav program on the boat went black.

Okay, Everything seems alright. And I’m tired. And back on course. I just want to get done.

And everything looks okay.

But it wasn’t. I’d lost changes. But which ones.

Thankfully, like paper charts, I keep paper notes.


Moving right along…

It’s been a month, to the day, since I began revisions on Last Exit. There’s so much more I could say on the subject, but at this point my brain’s past thinking of words. At this point, it has shifted to that long awaited and quickly approaching goal… BOAT!

Okay, so this weekend’s supposed to be miserable, and I still have some things to take care of house-wise, but after that… BOAT! I’ve been hording gear since last fall, getting everything together, waiting. This week, I’ll be picking up some hoses, buckets, cleaning stuff, and next weekend, the fun (?) begins!

Pain at the pump… part II

This is where I was headed with the previous post. The point I’m trying to make is while some people whine about the price of fuel for their personal vehicles, it’s those who drive for a living taking the hardest hit.


At a New Jersey Turnpike rest area in North Jersey, about 200 truck drivers carried signs and protested high fuel prices.”The gas prices are too high,” said one of them, Lamont Newberne, a 34-year-old trucker from Wilmington, N.C. “We don’t make enough money to pay our bills and take care of our family.”Newberne said a typical run carrying produce from Lakeland, Fla., to the Hunt’s Point Market in The Bronx, N.Y., had cost $600 to $700 a year ago. It now runs him $1,000.Using CB radios and trucking Web sites, some truckers called for a strike Tuesday to protest the high cost of diesel fuel, hoping the action might pressure President Bush to stabilize prices by using the nation’s oil reserves.”The gas prices are too high,” said Lamont Newberne, a trucker from Wilmington, N.C., who along with 200 drivers protested at a New Jersey Turnpike service area. “We don’t make enough money to pay our bills and take care of our family.”On the Turnpike, southbound rigs “as far as the eye can see” staged a short lunchtime protest by moving about 20 mph near Newark, jamming traffic on one of the nation’s most heavily traveled highways, authorities said.By day’s end, the protests ended up scattered; Major trucking companies were not on board, and Teamsters union officials and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association denied organizing the protests.Federal law prohibits the association from calling for a strike because it is a trade association.Meanwhile in Washington, top executives of the five biggest U.S. oil companies said they know high prices are hurting consumers but deflected any blame and argued their profits — $123 billion last year — were in line with other industries.Clayton Boyce, spokesman for the American Trucking Association, said diesel prices are the worst he’s seen but said his organization does not support or condone the strike.His group is pushing for a number of measures to keep the prices down or to otherwise help truckers, including allowing exploration of oil-rich areas of the U.S. that are now off limits and setting a 65 mph national speed limit.Newberne said a typical run carrying produce from Lakeland, Fla., to the Hunt’s Point Market in The Bronx, N.Y., had cost $600 to $700 a year ago. It now runs him $1,000.Outside Chicago, three truck drivers were ticketed for impeding traffic on Interstate 55, driving three abreast at low speeds, the state police said. About 30 truckers drove in a convoy around metropolitan Atlanta at low speeds, police said.Near Florida’s Port of Tampa, more than 50 tractor-trailer rigs sat idle as their drivers demanded that contractors pay them more to cover their fuel and other costs.”We can no longer haul their stuff for what they’re paying,” said David Santiago, 35, a trucker for the past 17 years.Charles Rotenbarger, 49, a trucker from Columbus, Ohio, said he felt helpless.”The oil company is the boss, what are we going to be able to do about it?” said Rotenbarger, who was at a truck stop at Baldwin, Fla., about 20 miles west of Jacksonville. “The whole world economy is going to be controlled by the oil companies. There’s nothing we can do about it.”Jimmy Lowry, 51, of St. Petersburg, Fla., and others said it costs about $1 a mile to drive one of the big rigs, although some companies are offering as little as 87 cents a mile. Diesel cost $4.03 a gallon at the truck stop.Rather than join the protests, some truckers were forced to sit idle because of shippers’ fears of a possible strike.In western Michigan, independent trucker William Gentry had been scheduled to pick up a load and take it to Boston, but his dispatcher told him there was a change of plans.”She told me that her shipper was shutting down,” fearing that someone would sabotage deliveries if their drivers worked during the protest, Gentry said at the Tulip City Truck Stop outside Holland, Mich.He and Bob Sizemore, 55, a 30-year veteran trucker, decided to return to their homes in Ohio, 280-mile trips that would cost each one about $200 of their own money for fuel alone.”We can’t ride around here looking for freight,” said Gentry, 47, a driver for 23 years.If something isn’t done about fuel prices, the cost of consumer goods will shoot up, Gentry said. “People aren’t seeing that the more we pay, the more they’re going to pay.”

Pain at the pump…

Every time I hear someone whining over how much it costs these days to fill the ol’ Ford Valdez, I really want to scream.. Somehow, I really can’t feel overwhelming sympathy for someone who insists the need to drive some oversized land-barge just to shuttle the kiddies to soccer… oh, I know, “It’s safer.” Yeah, right. Something that rolls over at the thought of a sudden lane change… real safe. It aggravates me, when you could just as well drive around in some reasonable sedan or even a cool little Mini Cooper. My one neighbor has three kids, and she’s driven the Cooper for years. Most people can drive something smaller and more efficient, or better yet, take mass transit. That is, unless you drive, say, a Kenworth or the like.

Think about that, while the oil companies make record profits. Then read this…

For more information, just take a look here…