Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas & Zuni Tamaroa towed again.............

The family got together for a nice Christmas. Dan, Ange, Sasha, Regina, Judi and Lyra a friend of Ange's showed up. Good food and company made it a nice holiday. Plus we took it easy on the decorating front too, which I like.
Regarding the Tam:
We have been towed to the Navy amphibious base in Little Creek, Virginia. Hopefully we'll now have more access to the public. No one could reasch us where we were moored before. Right now we are easy access, phyically speaking; however we have to make arrangements with the Navy to allow people in and out of the base when we do maintenance on her. This girl has more lives than a cat.
I've been so busy, I forgot to do to do the newsletter. Have to bust my butt to get it out.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Moving.....................

The last week and going on to this week has been pretty busy. We are doing a lot of consolidating and moving people around and out of the building to vacate 4 floors and sublet them. People are going to other spots in Manhattan, Weehawken, etc. We are on 11 and will be moving to 37 on Friday. God how I hate moving. I've sat in the same location for almost 8 years. Now I am to be uprooted and moved to a more cramped space. The one nice thing is that from 37, you can see both the East River and the North River from the building...so its a decent view. Some of the folks don't like going to 37 because they are still thinking about 9/11 and the long haul down the steps.
I'm throwing out half of what I've accumulated over the years to make it a little easier to move upstairs.

Monday, December 1, 2008

End of the year is pandemonium as usual

Its been a heck of a year. At work we are closing the books and preparing for the 2009 budget, we're working on targets and success stories for ISO14001 to which we are signatory and trying to come in under budget all at the same time.

On other fronts, the Zuni Maritime Foundation, the organization dedicated to restoring the USS Zuni to her 1944 days is continuing, though at a slower pace than we would like. The economy is really putting a crimp in our ability to raise funds.

and last but not least we had a great Thanksgiving, my Daughter Angela, son Danny and Sister Judy showed up to a feast that as usual Regina outdid herself. Everything was delicious and the company was great.

Ange has recently moved back to the east coast from Oregon. Its good to have her back home again.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chauffeur For Rent?

Before I begin this blog entry, I must post this recent photo of my grandson Liam. He seems to be searching for the Great Pumpkin on Linus' behalf.


OK, now that Liam has been praised and oohed and aahed over, the point of this blog entry is thus: For nearly 4 decades, me and the wife have been married. We virtually have nothing in common except for the fact that we both love the state of Maine and our kids. In the early years of our marriage we lived in Virginia and I was a Confederate soldier reenactor. I'd drive off to a battle and sometimes drag her along, Regina was usually an unwilling spectator to these events.

Well the tables have turned the last few years, I wind up driving her to all kinds of stitching classes and seminars because she doesn't do turnpikes or bridges. Usually, I don't mind since I stay in the hotel room and relax watching the History Channel or Discovery Channel. Its nice because we don't have TV at home.

However, this past weekend, I think I should be awarded the Husband's version of the Medal of Honor. We drove to Rhinebeck, NY and attended a Sheep and Wool Festival. Yep, you read it correctly. Sheep, Alpaca, LLama's wool of all types, wine, cheese, apple cider, brownies tons of vendors and a very sore pair of legs.

Regina was all over the place. I parked on a bench for at least half the time. I did take the time to wander and witnessed a sheep judging event and visited several vendor tents, although nothing of interest (to me) was there. The wife bought me an interesting key ring (one of my goofier habits is to collect key rings of places I've been to). Then on the way back, our travel time was doubled by traffic heading back to the city.

At any rate, I woke up Monday morning with very tender legs since I did much more walking than I am used to of late. In November, I'm taking her to a Stitching retreat in Mystic, Connecticut. I need not tell you the ribbing I get from the guys at work; but hey, I guess that's a piece of a lifetime partnership.

Maybe I should start reenacting again and drive her nuts getting shot at and dying in every battle. The only thing is my girth would indicate I'm a rather well fed Confederate, so it wouldn't exactly be accurate.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Proud Grandpa is posting the most recent photo we have of Liam our first grandchild. He's about 14 months old, but looks at least like two years to me. He's a big guy!! I was just on the phone talking to my son Sean and listening to Liam in the background. He's in to animals now in a big way. Notice the cow patterned car seat above. He likes to make animal sounds and everytime he gets into his car seat comments with a "mooo" :-)
Regina and I can't wait til we see him again over the Christmas holidays.

Friday, September 26, 2008

One Heck of A Week!!


Thank God its Friday. Every day this week I was up at 4:15 AM to catch an earlier ferry to try and catch up on paper work. I am one tired person. I feel like the guy above. There's a cat who knows how to relax. Everytime I managed to get ahead, they gave me another project to do. I received some good news today. One of the cities that we have been soliciting as a home port for the Zuni-Tamaroa has asked us to write a letter of invitation. Hopefully, we will have a place to hang our hat and call home in the not too distant future.
In addition to just all hard work during the week, We have been severely hampered by the UN being in session. I wouldn't mind it so much if they actually accomplished something but it is the biggest waste of time and money on this planet. They haven't accomplished anything of note since its founding.
Time to go home and crash on my rack!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Remembering September 11, 2001

These are my recorded observations of September 11, 2001 as a participant on the fringe. They were daily entries posted in a now closed forum entitled Coast Guard Discussions. I chose to update the board members daily as the events unfolded because they posted notes to me concerned about my welfare. Please forgive me if the numbers are wrong or facts are not as they turned out to be. That week was chaos and I wrote down what I observed at the time. It was written at the heat of the moment. Every so often, I think about makng a lot of corrections to this mini diary. But in the end, let it stand.
==========================




==========================

Day 1 - Tuesday, well I made it. What a day! I will never ever forget it. Just 6 weeks ago, I worked on liberty street 5 blocks from the Trade Center. I was transferred up town to 299 Park Avenue. The entire episode is completely surreal. In the morning, I had crossed the Hudson on a ferry, Looked down river at the twin towers not giving them a second thought. On the way home 14 hours later, there were no twin towers and a huge plume of black smoke.




I called my colleagues in my old building. It was evacuated because they could not run any systems due to the dust and dirt in the air. They said visibility was only 3 feet and that several bodies were lying in the plaza. Uptown, my building is 4 miles away. We went into our highest alert stage and basically shut the building down; only allowing those who are regarded as essential into the building. Bottom line casualties (news reports) are 200 fire fighters, 35 cops, about 8 to 10,000 people in the trade center. Population was estimated to be 20,000 at the time of the attack. We should strike quick and hard, teach those b@stard$ that they can't take us down. I had to rally the staff and keep them going. They wanted to go home but I reminded them our tenants were looking to us as an example. Show those terrorists that your routine will go on inspite of their attacks. The Coast Guard did a great job. They commandeered all boats, tugs, barges and fireboats. Turned them into ferries to get people out of Manhattan. It was like Dunkirk all over again. I finally got across the river late in the evening. As I drove home, I passed a lit sign on the New Jersey Turnpike. It said "All bridges and tunnels into NYC closed until further notice due to terrorist attack. I was speechless, it felt like I was in the middle of a grade B horror movie.






Day 2 This morning on the way in smoke was still billowing from the site but now its white smoke. Last night, a third building 7 World Trade collapsed. A fourth is on the verge though the FDNY thinks it is under control. The last piece of the twin towers collapsed about 5:30 today. Earlier in the day, about 1 o'clock the wind shifted. It had been blowing out to sea. Smoke is now coming out of the south covering Manhattan with a brownish haze and an awful stench. whether it was electric insulation or remains, it was hard to tell, but it was awful, just the same. We were 4 miles up river from the Trade Center and had to close our outside air dampers, the smell was so bad. The city is deathly quiet, bridges and tunnels will reopen tomorrow. Last night it was so still, we heard a cricket on Park Avenue. Now that was probably a first! I am in because I am considered essential to run the business. If you are not essential they don't want you here. I Parked the car in Weehawken and took the ferry across. The city is like a ghost town; a lot of people are traumatized by what happened. I continue to push the staff. I don't want them to think about it. Cut back on the radios and TV. Dwelling on the matter won't help them. The city is closed down on the East side from 34th street to the battery and on the west side from 42nd Street to the battery. 7th avenue is reserved for ambulances. I see NYC police cars, State Troopers, the Army National Guard and even Coasties all around me. We have left over free sandwiches and juice from lunch. The cafeteria gave meals to those of us who are staying in the city, seeing it through these terrible hours. We called the police and asked them if they wanted the food. They came with a van, thanked us and headed back down town with a load of sandwiches for the rescuers/searchers. I still don't believe this happened. It feels like a dream. Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and see the Twin Towers standing tall by Chase Plaza and 40 Wall Street? Then again....






This is Day 3 after the attack of the Twin Towers. As I crossed the Hudson this morning, I looked at where they once were, smoke still billowing upwards from fires still burning. It was a very odd feeling but as the smoke rose and was penetrated by the sunlight, it turned into a beautiful rose-colored layer underneath a sky blue as can be with no clouds.






The GW Bridge and the Lincoln tunnel are now open. The NY Waterway Ferries are running, but the Staten Island Ferry is still being used to carry supplies and rescuers to the site and taking bodies away. People are coming back into the city in an attempt to show the terrorists that life will go on. Walking down the street toward my building I was struck by the silence and watched people for a moment. Everyone had a grim look on their face, no smiles, and no chatter, just set jaws. I queued up at the steps to get in the building (even though I was the property manager) showing my ID card and presenting my brief case for a search. After that the day went all to hell. A colleague came to me and told me that a mutual friend of ours had just been promoted to Chief Engineer in the Twin towers. His office was on the 86th floor. The first plane hit one tower. He called his wife to assure her that the plane had hit the other tower and that he was OK. In mid sentence, the phone call was cut short and my friend perished as the second one hit the tower he was in. I went to my office feeling very numb. Shortly thereafter, I received a call that the 29th floor was evacuating. A strobe light from the Class E (Fire Alarm) had turned on. They all panicked and self evacuated. We got them back in the building. A short time later, I received another call that the entire building was evacuating. We had made no announcements, we received no bomb threats but everyone was so on edge that a rumor was started in a building south of us had had a bomb in it. Before you knew it there were thousands of people in the streets from 4 buildings all evacuated by rumor and fear. We called up corporate headquarters and asked what did they want us to do. The reply was let everybody go home. Then we found out that we have to have a vacant floor ready by Monday for a firm that lost all of its office space in the Trade Center. One thing that I am grateful for is the generosity of the people in this country. There were fire engines here from Chicago and Flint Michigan; these guys were here on their own time to help with the rescue efforts. There are over 300 police, firemen and EMS techs missing. People are already donating to widows and orphan's funds for each group. So many people are donating blood that they are being turned away. They have enough for now. It is going to be this kind of spirit and teamwork that will eventually bring those murdering cowards down on their knees. I understand the value of up yours to the terrorists, but if you are a civilian and never went through harrowing experiences as a veteran would have, you can be fragile. The tenants broke and ran at any given opportunity. I think the mayor should close the city down until Monday to give everyone a chance to get it together. Right now authorities think that 2 more buildings may be weak and may come down. Tomorrow the closed down zone is supposed to shrink back to Canal Street. All day I was too busy to think about my dead friend. I went home, walked up the stairs and just hugged my wife. It was the first time I had a chance to display any emotion since Tuesday morning.






Day 4 - Once more I cross the Hudson River entering this bloodied city. Today is different, It is raining and raining hard, the sky line has been erased by low lying fog, but you can still see that unmistakable plume of white smoke rising from the ashes of the World Trade Center. The sky is gray the river choppy. Somehow I feel like I'm crossing the River Styx into a land of death and destruction, not knowing what will happen today. Last night approximately 10 would-be terrorists were caught at JFK Airport, one had a fake pilot ID, most of the others had knives. Looks like we may have averted another wave of attacks. At this moment all three area airports are locked down. I never would have thought it before. Now I welcome the idea of posting armed guards in the airports.In the midst of this turmoil, people are attempting to return to a degree of normalcy. The Building Painters wanted to finish a job tonight. I canceled it. We will need all our resources to get the 29th floor ready for occupancy for two of the companies made homeless by the suicide attack on Tuesday. We will be working all weekend to have a new space ready for these folks. Havoc reigns supreme because we don't let any vendor in the building unless previously approved by the tenant. We canceled some preventive maintenance on electrical switches over the weekend, again because all resources are directed toward providing a new home for these homeless firms.






Baseball and Football will not be played this weekend. I have mixed feelings about that. Not playing the games is a signal to the terrorists that they made a dent into the fabric of this country. FDR continued baseball and football as an attempt to continue daily life in the states during the Second World War to help keep morale up. As of today, the official count of missing is 4,717. The city has ordered 30,000 body bags for anticipated 10,000 deaths, the remaining bags being for body parts. The search is being hampered by the wet weather. Incredibly two of the searchers are building engineers that survived the collapse and have now gone back to search for their colleagues. People in this city just will not give up. New Yorkers are a resilient group of people as are the hundreds of rescuers that have come from out of state. We will not surrender to terrorist activity, that much is certain.






Waiting for the Ferry, I noted three Coast Guard Cutters in the river. They were stopping all traffic because the President was at Jacob Javits Center a couple of blocks away. No ferries for the next three hours. The dispatcher finally made an announcement “There will be no ferries, buses or traffic until further notice, what else can I say.” I had already waited two hours. As aggravated as everyone was, we all had a good laugh. My back was to the water. Suddenly, there was a hush in the crowd. I turned around to see a huge white ship in front of me. The biggest hospital ship I ever saw slowly glided by, the USNS Comfort was a majestic sight, pure white with three red crosses painted on her immense hull. Of course everyone knew what she was here for and we all fell silent, puncuated by a few sobs and sharp intakes of breath; watching her glide past us to her berth further up river. Every so often a group of rescue workers would show up to take the Ferry home. As we were stuck there so were they. It gave us a chance to show our appreciation and whenever a group of them passed through, we stood up and just clapped. What else could you do? Then finally the President left and we caught the ferry to Lincoln Harbor to be on our way home.






Day 5 - We are all set to move in one of the survivor companies tomorrow and the other two on Tuesday. We have to keep pushing on but it’s hard. The Fire Department gave battlefield promotions to 168 men to insure that things keep going. Con Edison has had 1900 men going around the clock to make sure everyone's work place is habitable tomorrow. They tested the stock market systems and they all worked. Relief funds are being set up all over the place. I live in Rockland County, North of New York. The towns of Pearl River and Suffern were especially hard hit by the blast. They had a lot of firemen and policemen in those towns. Right now the missing total keeps rising. At last count it was 5,097. They have identified about 200 bodies and no one has been found alive since Wednesday. I had to turn off the radio after awhile. How many memorial services, funerals and updates do you have to absorb before you go nuts. I thought about revenge a lot over the last several days. But what will that accomplish. Bush scares me with his "If you are in uniform, get ready," talk. We need to do this calmly and rationally. Everybody from our generation knows one thing. We cannot count on our politicians, they are too fickle. We can't count on the American public because they scream revenge but if they get called up or drafted their tune will change mighty quick. No we have to this in a way that will keep most of America's hands clean. We have to get special ops to go in and assassinate every leader of every cell around the world. That way, innocent civilians will not be targets. A friend of mine said the other day, let's bomb Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. What will that accomplish? They are not far from the Stone Age now. Less casualties on our side + less casualties of their civilians = Black ops, pure and simple.






It’s been a couple of days since I had a chance to jot down anything. We have been very busy setting up a couple of floors for former tenants of the trade center. I have made frequent trips to the floors handing out my business cards telling them to call facilities if they need the slightest thing etc. They are supposed to finish moving in next week after which we will conduct fire safety drills, bomb scare lectures, evacuation drills, etc. The mood of the city I would say is somber but determined. People are very subdued. Not much honking of horns or cursing at wayward cabdrivers is happening. People seem to be extraordinarily polite to one another.

I went to my refrigerant reclamation class last Tuesday at the Union hall. The week prior to the tragedy, jocularity abounded. Everyone came in this past Tuesday, not a word was spoken. Local 94 set up a widows and orphans fund for the 4 engineers killed; one was my friend that I told you about earlier. Our instructor had to go to a memorial service for his brother in law killed on the 104th floor. As of now 6,333 are missing, the total is still climbing. The President of France was here today and was stunned by what he saw. The other day, rescuers opened up a void and found several people arms linked in a circle, all dead. They say they are removing 4,000 body parts daily. They have two refrigerated tractor-trailers hauling them from the sites to morgues for ID purposes. A smoky haze hanging over lower Manhattan has replaced the once vigorous billowing smoke plume. But every day, we manage trudge back and forth to work. The stock exchange is up and running. Kudos to Con Edison for that. That in it was a victory, forget market performance. Heroics of all kinds happen daily here just to keep the city going. Those terrorists think they are tough? They have not felt the wrath of a pissed off New Yorker yet!!







USS NEW YORK LPH-21 Portions of this vessel were made from the beams of the Destroyed World Trade Center.



Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sarah Palin the Next Vice President????



Hoo-boy, here we go again; yet another choice that polarizes the country. Democrats make fun of her for having no experience and she's attractive. Republicans idolize her because she's a family values person who loves to hunt and fish and because she believes in the "drill now" philosophy.



Personally, after I looked into her rise to the governorship of Alaska, I like what I see. Amongst the 4 candidates for Prez and Veep, she is the only one with executive experience. She also has demonstrated that she is a reform politician and will mow down a corrupt Republican as easily as a Democrat.



Those who decry her lack of international experience forget that her state lies within just a few miles of the waking Russian Bear. She lives with them over her shoulder every day.I'm glad to see she's on the ticket because we need someone with fiscal restraint and budget cutting experience. Something that Democrats and the current Republican administration seem to have forgotten about.

The one thing that bothers me is the emphasis on the hunting and the guns. I am not a believer in the second ammendment as the supreme court recently intrepreted it. I have problems with people having ready access to guns.








ADDENDUM 9/6/09


WELL, its been an interesting couple of days to say the least. The Dimocratic attack dogs are out there in full force. Her life is now under a microscope, the Dims have found and released her phone number addresses and Social Security number. A real class bunch, right! First she was accused of "pretending" that Trig was hers to protect her daughter, then her daughter was pilloried for getting pregnant. Lets see her husband was DUI once BEFORE they were married. So far everything they've "uncovered" is totally irrelevant to her abilities on the job.



And then of course you have Joe "PLUGS" Biden the Dim Veep candidate, a 5 time deferred draft dodger and alleged Asthmatic who never saw a day in military service. If he was asthmatic, how did he become a High School foot ball star. Methinks I smell a cover-up here.



What really is happening is that the Democrats are in an absolute panic. They have no idea what to do about Palin, so they are attacking everything about her. Of course why should we be surprised when Obama is good buddies with the home grown head of the Weather Underground, Bill Ayers. They are unraveling every day more and more.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

General Political Musings

I for one have been worried about this country's direction for a long time. I didn't like any of the presidential candidates before the vetting process started, I really don't like the two that are left. When I was in the service, one of our self applied monikers was Uncle Sam's Confused Group; i.e. U.S. Coast Guard. I think that same moniker can be applied to the entire country today. Democrats and Republicans are not who they once were, we have no choice in our candidates because they both believe in illegal immigration. The Supreme Court no longer interprets law, they make it!

The constitution in my opinion was meant to be a concrete document against which the Supreme Court would apply their knowledge of the constitution to render a decision in a case. Yet most people seem to think it should be a "living" document and it should be changed at the whim of congress. That action would destroy the greatest democracy (constitutional republic) the world has ever seen.

I marvel at the terrible educational system in this country. I went to prep school in the 60's and college in the 70's. I loved the learning process. I talk to younger people today and I am horrified about how little they know about our government. It is difficult to hold a meaningful conversation with the younger crowd who think of the Viet Nam war as history when I lived through it. They don't know a unicameral body of legislators as opposed to a bicameral legislature. Separation of powers, three branches of the government. Very few young people get it these days.

Here's another one for you! Much is made over the concept of "A wall of separation between Church and state" in the constitution. But if you do your research, you'll discover that the phrase was first used by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to a Danbury congregation. The next reference is by Justice Hugo Black in 1947 when he wrote the dissenting opinion in a court case (Everson vs. Board of Education) in which he referred to Jefferesons letter.

It is this case that everyone refers to when they wax poetic about the Constitution being the source of the "wall of separation. In reality, all the constiution guarantees you is the right to worship whichever religion you choose, nothing else. The Ten Commandments are one of the oldest codes of law aside from Hammurabi's Code. They used to be in a lot of court rooms. Now, extremists say it is a violation of church and state when in reality it is simply showing respect for one of the earliest forms of codified law.

I'm also concerned about the recent Supreme Court decision in which they interpret the 2nd ammendment as each individual having the right to keep and bear arms irrespective of a "well regulated militia." I personally think that's wrong. Just what we need, more guns on the street; think Columbine, Virginia Tech, etc.

I don't know really where I'm going with this except that I am upset at the direction the USA is going. We need to turn it around. The nation is polarized, no one cares about anything but themselves, we keep reducing the size of our Armed Forces but don't shrink our obligations in response, etc.
I wish I could be an absolute dictator over the USA for 6 months, I'd straighten it out in a heart's beat. Let's see, the prez would get one 6 year term, Senators 2 and Reps no more than 6. I'd abolish capital punishment and substitute life without parole. I'd abolish all forms of lobbying with severe penalties for engaging in lobbying activities. I'd end all subsidies, I'd get rid of earmarks and introduce the line item veto.

We need to drill for oil AND look for alternatives simultaneously. I can't stand the fact that certain elements of the society are holding us hostage and actually want us to be in debt to the OPEC nations. What kind of idiots are they?? Especially when ANWR has an area already set aside for drilling. All it is is congressional enmity and angst. They are playing stupid childish games with their country's future and it really bothers me.

OK rant turned off!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Getting into Horatio Hornblower All Over Again !!


Note: Obtained from Wikipedia. See below for fair use clause.

Decades ago, as a kid I read a Horatio Hornblower novel and really liked it. Then about 20 years ago, I stumbled across a motion picture starring Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo which combined three Hornblower novels. Hornblower's saga starts out with him as a midshipman in the Royal Navy.



About two years ago, I discovered that HH was on Public Television and bought the series. It made me realize that there were a lot more books about him out there than I originally thought. So I went on a quest and bought all 11 novels by C.S. Forester and the Horatio Hornblower compendium also by the original author as well. I was doing very well reading the novels in their proper order until I recently went on Vacation to Rosehaven, Maryland. I had three novels to go and somehow picked the wrong one so I'm reading three Hornblowers simultaneously because they are scattered hither and yon. So right now, I'm reading Commodore Hornblower, Lord Hornblower and Admiral Hornblower depending on what section of the house I'm in at the time.



They really are great books. C.S. Forester is terrific at describing life at sea. He really knows his stuff. The nomenclature, navigational and sailing terms are right on. The photograph above is Gregory Peck as Horatio Hornblower in a 1951 Movie of the same name which I am using under the fair use doctrine as an aide in describing the film. It is primarily from the book "Beat To Quarters" but there are elements of two other books in the movie as well. I highly recommend it for a good yarn. This film most certainly can be credited with increasing my interest in this really great fictional character.



By the way, C.S. Forester wrote a book entitled "The Captain From Connecticut" which is also very good. Its from the American perspective during the same time period. The story revolves around a fictional 44 gun fast frigate; hint, hint....just like the USS Constitution that evades a Britsh Blockade squadron off the coast of Long Island. I found it very entertaining. Too bad, he only wrote one from the U.S. perspective.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Maryland Western Shore
















Just came back from a mini-vacation in Maryland on the Western Shore. Stayed at the Herrington Harbour Inn in Herrington Marina at Rose Haven. Had a great relaxing time. Visited the Calvert County Maritime Museum, soaked in the sun on the beach, did some antiquing in two small towns Chesapeake and North Beach.

















I have a friend, Rich C. from the area and he took us to some of the eateries that the locals frequent. Great food is to be had. The pulled pork sandwiches at a place called the "Cafe" in Deale were delicious. Another place called Petes had the best New York Strip steak, I've had in ages.






One of the best parts of the vacation was watching all the kids play on the beach and when they got cranky, they're parents had to deal with them. So we could enjoy their frivolity and let the parents deal with the aftermath.










Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Nice Vacation Kicked Off................







by seeing my grandson Liam baptized this Sunday then afterwards we went to his birthday party. It was a blast, I held him for quite a while and he found all sorts of things on Grandpa interesting, he grabbed for my pen, fiddled with my shirt-buttons, pulled the hair on my chest, tried to poke out my eyes and last but not least tried to pick my nose. :-) very active little kid, I would say.

On Monday his parents wanted some time to themselves so we did our first babysitting stint for Liam. Boy can he talk........or at least verbalize might be a better world. He's a funny kid but he can wear you out. We took a bunch of photos of him with my new camera..

Tonight we'll be hosting a dinner for the close relatives because Liam and parents are flying back to Washington state tomorrow and our vacation will continue with a long weekend in Maryland on the western shore.

Should be fun.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hell Week is finally over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This has been a very bad week for me. I spent the last couple of months preparing for an ISO 14001 audit. The audit occurred o7/21-7/22. While the end results weren't too bad, the week was agony. To begin with I got practically no sleep from Sunday night through Wednesday. Tense was I is an understatement. Finally Wednesday night there was a heck of a thunderstorm and I slept like a baby through it. Thunder and lightning have a calming effect on me.

We were grilled for two days about our energy policies, recycling, maintenance procedures, etc. I literally felt that I was being interrogated in a POW camp. The auditor wanted to put us in separate rooms and interview us over our garbage policies for goodness sake. I remarked to him that he forgot to bring his hi-intensity spot light.

I really really hate these things. Even after the audit is over, we have to wait a month to get the results then spend additional time correcting nonconformances or observations. I agree with the concept of 14001 about saving energy, making the world greener and safer and all that stuff. But doing it through the ISO 14001 organization is a terrific waste of time and money. We have real jobs too, and the auditors fail to understand that. At one point one of my coworkers actually said"You know these are really great ideas, are you going to supply us with the three extra people we need to perform these tasks?

I know it won't happen, but I really wish we could dump ISO 14001 and do it independently our own way. I'm confident we could make it work much better without those knuckleheads from Europe interfering with us. I don't know what they do there. They either have extra bodies to do ISO or they only have 40 hour work weeks. My work week usually averages about 55 plus 20 hours a week commuting on top of that.

I've vented enough, sheesh!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pens, pens everywhere..............

I decided to reorganize my pen collection today and purchased a leather pen display case. In the process of doing so, I came to the realization that I have entirely too many pens; Fountain pens, roller balls and ball points. I have a few that I'm setting aside for my children, but I think I have to start divesting myself of the collection either by trading up or selling. I have some beauties but I also have some that I haven't used for years.

That plus the fact that the ridiculously high price of oil has serious eroded my disposable income has prompted me shift priorities. I tried taking the bus in for the last several months, but just cannot deal with it. I am much more comfortable in my own car and commuting with the ferry. If I sell any pens, I can use the proceeds to help fund the gas needed.

I will look for a local pen club where maybe I can pare down the collection.

I just completed one trade where I swapped a Delta Y2k Roller Ball and a Parker Sonnet Roller ball for a Mark Twain Conklin roller ball. My partner and I were equally happy with the exchange.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New Digital Camera

I've been taking digital photos of Regina's needlework lately. I wasn't happy with the outcome. Of course it doesn't help if you have a crappy camera. I mentioned this to her and before you could say "Shazam" she gave me money and told me to buy a better one. I wound up with a Sony Dsc-W150. The thing is amazing. It even detects smiles and automatically photographs them.

She has a blog in which she wants to display her needlework so I'll be snapping some photos for her. I also had an after thought that I could use it to photograph some of my fountain pens. I hadn't thought of it before but when I post on one of my favorite boards, Pentrace.com.,some of the folks ask to see pictures of my pens. The older digital wasn't up to the task. This thing has a zoom lens on it. so now I can get some close-up shots of the nibs, clips, etc.

...........and to think a few years ago, I hated the thought of digital cameras.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Zuni Tamaroa Photo Album


I just added another 50 photos to the Zuni Tamaroa photograph album I created to try and heighten awareness of our project to restore the former Coast Guard Cutter Tamaroa to her predecessor name the USS ZUNI. If any of you who read this have an intereast in nautical history, especially tugs, please go to www.photobucket.com/ZuniTam. There are a lot of interesting photos in the album. I have collected about 160 to this point.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

LINCOLN'S DREAMS by Connie Willis



The family was at dinner this past Sunday night at one of our favorite restaurants in New City, a Thai place called The Lemon Grass. My son gave me a nice birthday present, year 3 of Northern Exposure. He also lent me a book to read interested on my take of it. It's called Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis (photo above).
It was a great book that hooked me immediately because the two main characters (Jeff and Annie) dealt with Annie's ability to dream about the American Civil War. The book focused on the dreams of Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee. I thought that in itself was interesting. Because 90% of the time (it seems) any Civil War related literature dealing with both sides deals with either Lee and Lincoln. We rarely see Lee and Grant or Lincoln and Davis. At any rate the book was one of those - can't put down types - for me at least. Connie Willis definitely did her homework. As a Civil War buff, I looked for errors and only found one glaring mistake.
She had the characters discussing the deaths of Generals during the war. In one conversation, the character Jeff was discussing the Dead Confederate Generals at Gettysburg. The author made the all to common mistake of stating that Kemper was mortally wounded. This I know for a fact to be wrong because as a young man in Virginia, I was a reenactor in the 11th Virginia which was part of Kemper's Brigade at Gettysburg. It was well drilled into us what happened to the General. He was seriously wounded while exhorting his men onward by flanking fire from the Union Vermont Troops and briefly captured. He was rescued by his own troops and spoke to Lee telling "Uncle Robert" that he was informed his wound was mortal.
Long story short, he survived the war and became the Governor of Virginia in the 1870's. Aside from that one mistake, the author really did a nice job on her research and she did a good job building up the tension in the book, it was a real page turner. To the point where I was up til 2 AM this morning reading it.
I recommend it highly.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Samuel Eliot Morison

The other day, a blogger from Virginia linked to me because of our mutual interest in Samuel Eliot Morison. A Historian in which I am very interested. He has written a number of terrific works, many of which are in my library. Amongst my favorites are Admiral of The Ocean Sea, a great biography of Columbus. Other works of his I like include The European discovery of America, the Northern Voyages and its companion volume the Southern Voyages. Morison also made quite a name for himself in writing a 15 volume history of the U.S. Navy in World War Two.

I compare Morison to U.S. Nautical History as Bruce Catton is to U.S. Civil War History. They both wrote with an easy going style that made reading about history a pleasure instead of boring. I highly recommend his European discovery of America series to readers who may be curious about the age of discovery but are put off by their traditional concept of history as a boring series of dates to memorize. Morison will change your mind.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

This is the "Peach Orchard," at Gettysburg, Pa. It was here that the 141st Pennsylvania fought valiantly for a good part of the afternoon on July 2, 1863. A Civil War personality that I have connected with was badly wounded in the left leg here. The gentleman's name was Caspar Tyler. I first became interested in Tyler when I was researching local Civil War regiments at the Historical Society. They asked me to read a diary and see if I could identify the writer. After a few weeks I did using several clues found in the diary.

Tyler's diary entries so intrigued me that I decided to pursue a history of his life which eventually was published in the Journal South of the Mountains. It was such a rewarding experience that I used Tyler as a basis for a presentation I did on tracing one's CivIl War ancestor. The lecture has been very well received over the years and is one of the highlights of my attempt to stay connected to the history of this country.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

WAITING, waiting.......................

Oh, I am so tired of waiting. Its to the point now where I almost don't care, well almost..... Since 1996 I've had this desire to restore the ship I once served on while in the Coast Guard back to active use. It is now 2008, some 12 years later and we are still struggling to find a home port for her, the former USCGC Tamaroa aka USS ZUNI. Part of me wants to save it because I became of age on her. But part of me wants to save her because I am so tired of all these nautical war memorials that are carriers or cruisers or battleships. Doesn't anyone realize that wars need to be fought on the sea by the likes of sea plane tenders and oilers and salvage tugs like the Zuni as well? Without these auxilary ships that supply parts and fuel and even towing services, where would the big boys be??

We are close I'm told to getting a home port in NewPort News, Virginia. I've been disappointed too many times in the past though to get excited again. I'll wait and see. If it happens, no one will be happier than me; but, regarding the Z-T and a home port, I'm a real pessimist.

Monday, June 23, 2008

60th Birthday today

Well another milestone come and gone. I'm 60 today. Had a really nice celebration yesterday. Went to a snazzy restaurant called Civiles on the Hudson River with the family. Judi, Regina, Ange, Dan and Sasha all came. Food was good and as usual we gabbed the night away. My body feels 60 but my mind sure doesn't :-)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Herrington Harbour Inn

Due to fortuitous circumstances, I received a nice bonus from my company. We thought we would not be able to go away anywhere this summer. However, we will be spending a long weekend at the Herrington Harbour Inn near Deale Maryland in August. The bungalows are right on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay and our room has a hot tub.

Oh the lap of luxury.

Zuni-Tamaroa Newsletter

This quarter's edition of the Mighty Z Tribune is out. Here is the link

http://www.zuninews.4t.com/

Its a little shorter than usual because the ship is in an inaccessible place at the moment. We hope to be sharing good news with you all in a couple of weeks.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Liam and Kermit the Frog

The latest Liam gem!! A cute little twerp, looks just like me, chubby and bald :-)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Laughing Liam

Here's a great shot of my grandson Liam. Just received it from my daughter-in-law Christina. Looks like a happy kid. We'll be seeing them in August. Looking forward to it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

No Vacation This Year ):

We won't be going on vacation this year. No Boothbay or Sagamore. Its not the gas thing. That doesn't phase me. We need to spend a few more bucks in the kitchen and on the upstairs to complete the house's renovations. Its a shame because I really love Maine and would go back up there, preferably Southport Island in a heart beat. Of course there's always Red's Eats in Wiscasset too.

We try to split our summers between Boothbay and Lake George. I want to try a new shore resort I discovered by accident in Deale Maryland. Herrington Harbor. Beautiful place right on the Chesapeake Bay.

New Car: To Be or not To Be!

This is not meant to be chauvinistic or sexist; however, a humrous incident occurred in our 37 year marriage the other day. Back in 1999, Regina and I bought a new Hyundai Elantra for her. She has loved the car for the last 10 years. Trouble is after she shared it with two of our three kids, the car is pretty beat up. Appearance wise it looks like hell. Mechanically, it still runs like a dream.

Those Koreans really know how to make good engines.Doesn't suprise me since they also make steamships. At any rate we had our first problem in 75K miles with it. The head gasket blew. They had to keep the car over night. The dealer was good enough to give me a loaner while the 99 Elantra was being repaired. I brought it home and gave it to Regina for use.

We had the car for an extra day. When we swapped cars ( it was a 2008 Elantra) she tells me, "I'm going to miss that car, it was really nice."Last year I put 25K in a special fund to purchase for her either an electric car or a hybrid, whichever car is more viable when the fund matures. We discussed it at length. I told her I can't liquidate the funds without taking a penalty. Now she's annoyed because she has to drive her once loved chariot for another three years before she can get a new car. (sigh).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Indy 500


Tomorrow will be the 92nd running of the Indy 500. I'll be routing for Danica Patrick. That kid has spunk. She's got the #5 pole position. Her time trials had her slightly over 223 mph. I can't even going that fast in a 1500 pound car made from carbon.
This year she's finished in the top 10 three times, won at Japan and in Kansas she had mechanical problems with her wheels. Hope her luck holds out tomorrow.

Top Ten Coast Guard Rescues

TOP TEN COAST GUARD RESCUES
• Hurricane Katrina Search and rescue operations alone saved 24,135 lives from imminent danger, usually off the roofs of the victims’ homes as flood waters lapped at their feet. Coast Guardsmen “evacuated to safety” 9,409 patients from local hospitals. In total, 33,545 souls were saved. Seventy-six Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary aircraft took part in the rescues. They flew 1,817 sorties with a total flight time of 4,291.3 hours in the air. The air crews saved 12,535. A total of 42 cutters and 131 small boats also participated, with their crews rescuing 21,200. Over 5,000 Coast Guardsmen served in Katrina operations.
• Prinsendam Rescue A fire broke out on the Dutch cruise vessel Prinsendam off Ketchikan, Alaska on 4 October 1980. The Prinsendam was 130 miles from the nearest airstrip. The cruise ship’s captain ordered the ship abandoned and the passengers, many elderly, left the ship in the lifeboats. Coast Guard and Canadian helicopters and the cutters Boutwell, Mellon, and Woodrush responded in concert with other vessels in the area. The passenger vessel later capsized and sank. The rescue is particularly important because of the distance traveled by the rescuers, the coordination of independent organizations and the fact that all 520 passengers and crew and crew were rescued without loss of life or serious injury.
• Pendleton Rescue On 18 February 1952 during a severe "nor’easter" off the New England coast, the T-2 tankers SS Fort Mercer and SS Pendleton broke in half. BM1 Bernard C. Webber, coxswain of motor lifeboat CG-36500, from Station Chatham, Massachusetts, and his crew of three rescued the crew of the stricken tanker Pendleton, which had broken in half. Webber maneuvered the 36-footer under the Pendleton's stern with expert skill as the tanker's crew, trapped in the stern section, abandoned the remains of their ship on a Jacobs’s ladder. One by one, the men jumped into the water and then were pulled into the lifeboat. Webber and his crew saved 33 of the 34 Pendleton crewmen. Webber and entire crew were awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal for their heroic actions. In all, U .S. Coast Guard vessels, aircraft, and lifeboat stations, working under severe winter conditions, rescued and removed 62 persons from the foundering ships or from the water with a loss of only five lives. Five Coast Guardsmen earned the Gold Lifesaving Medal, four earned the Silver Lifesaving Medal, and 15 earned the Coast Guard Commendation Medal.
• Dorchester Rescue On 3 February 1943 the torpedoing of the transport Dorchester off the coast of Greenland saw cutters Comanche and Escanaba respond. The frigid water gave the survivors only minutes to live in the cold North Atlantic. With this in mind, the crew of Escanaba used a new rescue technique when pulling survivors from the water. This "retriever" technique used swimmers clad in wet suits to swim to victims in the water and secure a line to them so they could be hauled onto the ship. Escanaba saved 133 men (one died later) and Comanche saved 97.
• Joshua James and the Hull (MA) Life Saving Station (25-26 November 1888) Over the two day period Keeper Joshua James and his crew by their zealous and unswerving work rescued some twenty-eight people from five different vessels during a great storm. In addition to the number of individuals rescued, the number of vessels involved, the weather conditions, and the duration of their efforts, James and his crew conducted differing types of rescues which included the employment of the beach apparatus and rescue by boat. For their versatility, endurance, skill, and dedication, James and his crew were awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal.
• The Priscilla Rescue On 18 August 1899, Surfman Rasmus S. Midgett, from the Gull Shoal Life-Saving Station (NC), was conducting a beach patrol on horseback and came upon the barkentine, Priscilla, which had run aground. Given his distance from the station, he determined to do what he could alone. Immediately, he ran as close to the wreck as he could and shouted instructions for the men to jump overboard one at a time as the waves receded. Obeying his instructions, the sailors leapt overboard. Midgett, seized each man and dragged him from the pursuing waves safely to the beach. In this manner, he rescued seven men. There were still three men on board who were too weak to get off the vessel. Midgett went into the water and carried each of them to the beach. For the ten lives he saved, Midgett was subsequently awarded a Gold Lifesaving Medal.
• Keeper George N. Gray and the Charlotte (NY) Life Saving Station (14-15 December 1902) The crew received the Gold Lifesaving Medal in recognition of their rescue of 4 men and 1 woman from the wreck of the schooner John R. Noyes. They were engaged for more than a day and a night with little sleep, having been under oars from 11:30 PM of the 14th to 4:30 PM. of the 15th with the exception of about two hours. They pulled in a heavy seaway for nearly 60 miles and all were covered in ice and were frostbitten. In addition to the conditions and distances rowed, the keeper commandeered a train and sleds to move the beach cart and equipment through the deep snow drifts for the launching of the surfboat.
• Overland Rescue In 1897, eight whaling ships were trapped in the Arctic ice near Point Barrow, Alaska. Concerned that the 265 crewmen would starve during the winter, the whaling companies appealed to President William McKinley to send a relief expedition. USRC Bear sailed northward from Port Townsend, Washington in late November 1897. With no chance of the cutter pushing through the ice to Point Barrow, it was decided to put a party ashore and have them drive reindeer to Point Barrow. Lieutenant David H. Jarvis was placed in charge. He was joined by fellow officers Lieutenant Ellsworth P. Bertholf and Surgeon Samuel J. Call along with three other men. Using sleds pulled by dogs and reindeer, snowshoes, and skis, the men began the expedition on 16 December. They arrived at Point Barrow, 1,500 miles later, on 29 March 1898. The expedition managed to bring 382 reindeer to the whalers, having lost only 66. For their work, Bertholf, Call, and Jarvis received a gold medal from the United States Congress.
• Bermuda Sky Queen Rescue (14 October 1947) The American-owned flying boat Bermuda Sky Queen, carrying sixty-nine passengers was flying from Foynes, Ireland to Gander, Newfoundland. Gale force winds had slowed her progress and she was running low on fuel. Too far from Newfoundland and unable to make it back to Ireland, the captain decided to fly toward the cutter Bibb which was on Ocean Station Charlie in the North Atlantic. The plane’s captain decided to ditch and have his passengers and crew picked up by Bibb. In 30-foot seas, the transfer was both difficult and dangerous. Initially the Bibb’s captain tried to pass a line to the plane which taxied to the lee side of the cutter. A collision with the cutter ended this attempt to save the passengers. With worsening weather, a fifteen man rubber raft and a small boat were deployed from the ship. The raft was guided to the escape door of the aircraft. Passengers jumped into the raft which was then pulled to the boat. After rescuing 47 of the crew, worsening conditions and the approach of darkness forced the rescue’s suspension. By dawn, improved weather allowed the rescue to resume and the remaining passengers and crew were transferred to the Bibb. The rescue made headlines throughout the country and upon their arrival in Boston, Bibb and her crew received a hero’s welcome for having saved all those aboard the ditched Bermuda Sky Queen.
• 1937 Mississippi River Flood During the disastrous 1937 Mississippi River flood, the Coast Guard rescued a total of 43,853 persons who they “removed from perilous positions to places of safety". Additionally, they saved 11,313 head of livestock and furnished transportation for 72 persons in need of hospitalization. In all 674 Coast Guardsmen and 128 Coast Guard vessels and boats served in the relief operations. The immense scope of the operations actually eclipsed the number of persons that the Coast Guard rescued during the Hurricane Katrina operations.
HONORABLE MENTIONS
• Chicamacomico (NC) Lifeboat Station (16 August 1918) On 16 August 1918 the British steamship SS Mirlo, proceeding northward along the Atlantic coast, struck a mine laid by U-117 about 1 mile off the Wimble Shoal buoy, abreast of the Chicamacomico Coast Guard Station. Her cargo of gasoline and refined oil spread over the sea and ignited. This converted the surface into a mass of flame and smoke. The matter of rescuing the crew was rendered extremely difficult owing to the heavy sea, quantities of wreckage everywhere, and the intense heat from the burning vessel and fuel. Despite these difficulties, Boatswain (L) John A. Midgett and the Chicamacomico Station crewmen forced their boat into this mass of fire and wreckage. After heroic efforts they rescued six men found clinging to a capsized boat. Midgett and his men then picked up two more boatloads (36 men) of the Mirlo’s crew and landed them through the heavy surf. The total count of those rescued was 42 persons. For their efforts, Midgett and his crew were each awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal.
• Carl von Paulsen Rescue LCDR Carl von Paulsen set the seaplane Arcturus in a heavy sea in January 1933 off Cape Canaveral and rescued a boy adrift in a skiff. The aircraft sustained so much damage during the open water landing that it could not take off. Ultimately, Arcturus washed onto the beach and all including the boy were saved. He was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal for this rescue. The rescue made him famous and he appeared in the "Unsung Heroes" comic book in the mid-1930s.

Source:www.piersystem.com/go/doc/786/166402/

Sunday, April 27, 2008

HillBama and Lincoln Douglas Debates???

You've got to be kidding me! Today Hillary issued a challenge to Obama asking for a Lincoln Douglas style of debate (no moderator). What a joke! This entire campaign on all sides has been nothing but a farce to date. What are they going to do about energy, the dollar, immigration, Iraq??? So far none of the candidates has really taken a position on any of these issues. Its all been a popularity contest to drive polls one way or another. There is no meat to any of these knuckleheads, Democratic or Republican.

Can you imagine a HILLBAMA debate with no moderator. Hillary's shrill voice will drown out Obama in a second!!

Teddy Roosevelt Where are you?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Appomattox Court House


Reading has always been a passion for me. It started early with books about the American Civil War. The earliest book I can recall reading was the book Jeb Stuart, The Last Cavalier by Burke Davis. It started me on a hobby that continues unabated through today. I am fascinated by the stories told by the soldiers themselves. Its better than any fiction out there. 143 years ago yesterday, Lee formally surrender his Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia ending a 4 year struggle that nearly tore this nation apart.

What saddens me today is the fact that all the political idiots out there cannot or will not learn from the example set by those two extraordinary men. Picture this if you will, 4 years of bloody hand to hand combat between soldiers born in the same country. The fighting was so ferocious that only a week before at Sailor's Creek, the men were locked in combat so fierce that guns were not good enough to assuage their anger within. They fought so hard that the soldier bit each others throats, ears, noses. Rocks and stones were used in close quarter combat. By the end of the battle, 6,000 Confederate soldiers were captured along with 6 Confederate Generals.

Now go to April 9th, after a few days of notes passing between the lines, Lee sees the futility of continuing the struggle. His men though want to fight on. They think they found a way out to North Carolina where the Army of Northern Virginia can link up with Joe Johnston's Army of the South to continue the struggle. Realizing the end is at hand, Lee tells his men no, it is time to surrender and tell their sons to go home and become Americans. He stops an effort that would send Confederate soldiers in the hills to fight a guerilla war that would last for years to come.

When Lee meets Grant, they make small talk of the old days when they served in Mexico together. Grants terms are magnanimous. the men can go home they must remain until exchanged. They must lay down their arms and flags. Initally, Grant required the surrendered soldiers to turn in their horses with the rest of the equipment. However, Lee informed him that in the Confederate cavalry all mounts were personally supplied by the soldiers and the horses would be needed for farm work. Grant graciously allowed the horses to stay with their riders.

What I find so remarkable is that after this 4 year long titanic struggle and 620,000 deaths, we could end it all virtually in a few days with a handshake. Yet today, we have Democrats and Republicans at each others throats not willing to give an inch on anything, polarizing the entire country. What the heck is wrong with these idiots. Everyone of them should be thrown out of office with a "do-over" and we should start over again.

Several years ago, when I started the quest to save the Tamaroa, I crossed paths with another group of maritime nuts. These folks were from the Fireboat John J. Harvey. The Harvey is based in New York City. Together we broadcast the plight of the Tamaroa. They were an early part of the effort to save the Tamaroa and consequently have earned a permant place in my heart for helping to save her.
Three folks in particular have helped us over the years. Huntley Gill, Tim Ivory and Jessica Dulong. The photo is of Jessica at the throttles of the Harvey in the bowels of the engine room. When we get the Zuni-Tamaroa in sailing condition, I want to invite these folks on board and help us sail the Zuni-Tam into New York harbor for fleet week some time in the future.
At any rate, the Harvey's website is http://www.fireboat.org/. Please visit it. Its a boat with a great history and a great crew. Try to get on board for one of their cruises on the Hudson (North) River. The display of their water cannon can only be described as awesome.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Looking Forward to August


The first week of August should be a fun one. My grandson Liam (and his parents) is coming back east to visit. He was born on Agust 11th so it will be fun to celebrate his first birthday. Here he is happily negotiating an attempt at eating Pea Soup. Cute kid!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Craziest Thing you ever ate was.............?


I thought about this when the other day, I was eating lunch with a friend in Manhattan. I had ordered a Tuna steak figuring I'd eat healthy. There was this green gunk on the top that I couldn't identify so I just took it to be a garnish of some sort. I put a spoonful of it in my mouth and immediately ceased to breathe. The Pain was instant and horrible, my breathing passages all swelled up, sweat literally popped out of the top of my head. I downed a nearby glass of wine in one swallow.


After I recovered, I asked the waiter what the heck it was. He had a good laugh and told me it was Wasabe Mustard.....and people actually like this stuff? You've got to be kidding. But then again you're talking to a guy who thinks Nick Tahou's garbage plate is an epicurean delight :-)


When my son, Sean, went to Rochester Institute of Technology, he invited me to try one. And yes it was quite a dish. A Garbage plate consists of a large bed of macaroni salad and homefries upon which is laid either hamburgers, cheeseburgers or hotdogs. On top of that there resides onions, ketchup, hot sauce or A-1 sauce. You can also have refried beans as a side. I know, I know...It does sound awful, but it actually did taste pretty good. The one I had was topped with two cheese burgers. So if you are in the Rochester area starve yourself for the day and go there in the evening. You will have a meal you'll never forget. They even have a website http://www.garbageplate.com/ I've attached a photo for you curious folk.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Another Project For Me To Do!!

I've been in the building management industry for 30 years. 10 of those years was as an operating engineer in local 94 before I became a manager. During my time in Local 94, I kept diaries of what happened on my shifts. For years I didn't read them. then a few weeks ago, I started to page through them and found a lot of material. Some was funny, some was down right scary and yes..........some was pretty boring too.

Reading them, I thought there were some pretty good stories in there. I've served in old buildings, and newer buildings. One building I helped take up out of the ground from scratch. I learned an awful lot in that building known locally as "The Green Granite Monster." At any rate, I've decided to put yet another project on my plate. I think I'll assemble all the interesting stories that have happened to me or around me over the years and put them in a collection. It might not be of interest to a lot of people. Maybe I'll do the vanity press thing and then sell it to fellow operating engineers.

It always bothered me that people as a general rule have no idea what it takes to make one of those big sky scrapers they work in, run. This narrative will give them a few hints.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Retirement, when should I do it?

I've been thinking a lot lately about retirement. I will be 60 in June. I'm toying with the idea of retiring at 62. I'm not interested in whether or not I get full benefits. I'm more interested in getting out of the rat race and and enjoying my last few years, how ever long that is.

Regina says, she's not worried about me retiring because I always keep myself busy. I do a lot of research for a variety of reasons. I'm always researching items since I am the Historian for the Zuni Maritime Foundation. We always need new material from former crew members. I'm also still interested in the American Civil War and have written and published some items related to that conflict as well.

I just need a break, I've commuted to NYC every work day for 30 years. Round trip commute is 4 hours a day, 3 and a half, if I make the connections right. I'm tired of it and need a break. I have a good job and a great boss which makes things easier to take for sure. But all my life, I've just wanted to concentrate on the study of U.S. History and never really had the chance to do it for an extended period of time. Sure I've done weekend conferences at libraries and hotels. I've presented on subjects such as the Confederate Battle Flag, Restoring local cemeteries, local Civil War units and even a Confederate unit or two. I've done presentations on tracing your Civil War ancestor using Casper Tyler of the 141st Pennsylvania Infantry as an example.

Lately, I've had to put my interest in the Civil War aside because the cause du jour, restoring the USS ZUNI is taking up a lot of my time. I don't mind because when the Zuni was the TAMAROA, I served on her in 1967-68. But truth to tell, if I was retired, I could get a lot more involved.

Retiring in New York presents a problem. It is extremely expensive to live in this state plus the fact that we have high taxes in our section of the country which will make the home hard to sell, I'm sure. Selling the house is part one of the problem. Part two is I don't know where to go. I love Maine and I love Virginia, very different places for sure. Maybe I'll split the difference and live in New Jersey or Delaware. At any rate, I need to start thinking about it more seriously. I want to enjoy whatever time is left.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Spring 08 Zuni Newsletter is out and away!!!







One of my illustrious duties with the Zuni Maritime Foundation is publishing the quarterly newsletter detailing the history and restoration of the Zuni-Tamaroa formerly the USS ZUNI and USCGC TAMAROA. The spring issue is out and has a couple of nice stories in it. Unfortunately, we were unable to report much done in the restoration part of the job because the ship is berthed about 6 boats out from a pier and is dangerous for old coots like us to get to. So this issue has no project news in it. Its all historical based on stories that the crew told me based on their personal experiences.



Its neat little newsletter and is called the "MIGHTY Z" Tribune. Mighty Z was her Navy nickname and it stuck through her Coast Guard career as well. If you would like to see them you can check the archives at http://www.zuninews.4t.com/.



Saturday, March 29, 2008

Internet Surely Does Shrink the world..........

A while back I posted a note about a project I worked on as a youngster, restoring the fishing smack Emma C. Berry. Recently, I received an email from Pete Smith who was a Cadet at Admiral Farragut Academy in the 50's. I attended in the 60's. Pete found me by doing a search for the Emma C. Berry ,and he stumbled across my short blog about her.

We both have an interest in the Emma C. Berry because she was berthed at Admiral Farragut Academy in Pine Beach New Jersey for several years. Our Band master was a Great teacher by the name of Dayton Newton who was a skipper of a Maine charter boat called the Adventurer off the coast of Maine during the summer. Pete had a much closer relationship with him because Pete was actually in the school's band. I was in 2nd Company.

We are both irked at the fact that no matter what literature you read about the Emma C. Berry launched in 1866, there is never any mention of the Cadets who honed their nautical skills under Mr. Newton's Tutelage. I think its grossly unfair because who knows without our care under Mr. Newton she may have sunk to the bottom right there in New Jersey.

A few years after I was graduated from AFA, I was on vacation in Maine. I went into a Marine Antiques store and almost suffered cardiac arrest. There on a wall was the stern name plate of the Emma C. Berry. I wanted to purchase it in the worst way. As I was haggling with the guy behind the desk, I stopped for a moment and looked at him very carefully. He looked like a younger version of Mr. Newton. When I said that, a wide grin appeared and he said that he was Mr. Newton's son and was glad to make my acquaintance. Still wouldn't sell me the stern name plate though.

I have a small model of the ECB which I will build one of these days when I have the time. She means a lot to me because it was my first foray into ship preservation. I have since gone on and become the Historian for the Zuni Maritime Foundation. We are restoring the former USS ZUNI/USCGC TAMAROA to sailing condition so we can educate today's kids about America's role at sea and what may be available for them in the future.

At any rate, I hope more Farragut alumni see this and get aggravated enough to not be shy about the role the cadets played in helping the ECB survive into this century.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fishing.........

I love to go on fishing trips, but I do not necessarily think its a waste of time nor do I get upset if I catch nothing. I view fishing as a chance to get outdoors on the water for a few hours of respite. Its a great way to relax and just talk with your partner. I never go fishing alone. When Dad was alive, we would take out our licenses and fish every summer at Round Lake in Orange County. We rarely caught anything except maybe a Brown Trout or Sunnys and maybe a Perch or two. It was great just to sit back and relax and catch up with him.

One summer we were fishing at Rockland Lake and Dad caught a Sunny ( a tiny one) He pulled it out of the water holding the line and gave the poor fish a "Oh Good Grief", kind of look. As he was getting ready to toss him back, a fellow from another boat asked us how the fishing was. Dad, held up the Sunny no bigger than the palm of his hand and said not a word. The guy just started laughing and said "Well, fish is fish!" I've never forgotten that. Another time, we went fishing with my daughter Angela. Her fishing outfit consisted of coveralls, sandals and a NY Yankees baseball cap. She caught a Sunny. I wanted to take a photo of her with the Sunny. She held the line with the poor fish dangling like a Christmas tree ornament. As I snapped the photo, the Sunny wiggled and Angela screamed, nearly jumping over the side. It really startled Dad whom I thought was going to have a heart attack.

Another fishing excursion I particularly remember was on a party boat with a bunch of guys from work at the IBM Building. We brought tons of food and cases upon cases of beer. I don't think we caught a thing but we sure had a blast.

The last time I went fishing was the summer my oldest son got married. He and I went on a party boat out of Captree. Now, I never win anything. I am usually very unlucky that way. When we shoved off, if you wanted to be elible to win a prize for the biggest fish, you contributed to a piece of the pot. I did for the heck of it thinking, "that's money I'll never see again." Some time later we cut engines and drifted. Everyone threw their lines overboard and within minutes I caught a huge, huge Fluke. It turned out to be the biggest fish of the day and I won the pot and a hat from the Fishing boat. That was another beautiful day; out with my son in the sun....And we were fishing pretty close to Fire Island Light House which was my last duty station in the Coast Guard.

So I love fshing but really I love the cammaradery that accompanies it and the outdoors, sea sir, sun ,etc. better.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

HILLARY NOSE DIVES IN THE POLLS

Here we go again. More BS from the journalists. Its amazing, another poll has come out giving Obama the edge on likeability. Hillary is sliding down into oblivion. I don't have a horse in this race since I don't like anyone who is left but just the same I'm getting sick of all the mudslinging. I think the Democrats are going to be in a heap of trouble. Too much acrimony there. I was sure the Republicans were going to lose. Now I think they have a chance. But I don't like McCain either.

Politicians are crazy, power mad individuals. My son had a great idea. He thinks we should all draw straws, Guy with the shortest straw is the next president for a year. That way you can do stuff and not care if people like you or not.

LOUSY HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTORS

We've done a lot of work on the house lately. One thing we have discovered is that the quality of the home improvement industry out there is pretty bad. The last project involved putting down a carpet in the living room and dining room and a floating laminate floor in the kitchen, bathroom and vestibule-hallway.

We held back 1,200.00 due them because the joints were terrible in some locations. Plus they scraped the daylights out of a new paint job that we had just done. Baseboard was loose, laminate joints in the bathroom weren't butted up together and on and on!! The other thing that really bothered me is that they had no idea how to miter a joint. So long story short they had to come back twice before I was satisfied and released the check.

The really odd thing about doing a home improvement project is the amount of trash it seems to generate. I don't mean the project itself, but the aftermath. We have no basement, nor do we have an attic. We have a lot of closet space and with all the kids gone, we have two extra rooms just crammed with stuff. We are throwing out bags and bags of trash every weekend. It seems to regenerate. Of course we have lived here for 30 years so we have accumulated a lot of items. Nevertheless, it is disturbing. The house seems to have taken on a mind of its own and continues to produce unwanted or unneeded trash at an alarming rate. I'm surprised the garbage men aren't getting hernias from lifting and dumping everything we throw out.

SEARCHING FOR ANOTHER DOG

Though we are not ready for another dog, curiosity got me to looking on the Internet for choices down the road. We need a dog good with kids, cheerful disposition, easily trained, small (12 to 18 pounds) and doesn't shed. I looked at a variety of sites and pretty much concluded that I would want another Minature Rat Terrier.

I looked up Wire Haired Terriers, Fox Terriers, Schnauzers, Pinschers,etc. No other dog could meet the quals that I want. The only bad part is that Rat Terriers easily shed. You can see the hair fly off when you just pet them. But that is just a minor annoyance.

We would try to find one at a shelter first. That's how we got Jack. He was due to be executed the day after we got him. Even though he passed on early, he still lived 6 years longer than he would have had we not found out about him.....

Friday, March 7, 2008

Our Dog Jack

We have a 7 year old Rat Terrier named Jack. He's a very good natured dog, tail always wagging, a little goofy, but he loved people and would cuddle you at the drop of a hat, etc. Lately we noticed he hasn't been very hungry, so we brought him to the vet. Turns out that he is in the beginning stages of Renal failure. Jack spent overnight at the Vet's and was given some nutrients through an IV. This morning the vet told us that prognosis was guarded, that the renal failure was caused by Lyme Disease. I hope he pulls through. As much as a pain that he is, he is a very lovable dog and is always doing something to make us smile.

We should find out more today. The Doctor hasn't gone into details about treatment yet.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Horns of a dilemma!!

What to do? Who to vote for? The herd has been thinned but I don't like anyone left. Hillary I don't trust. McCain I don't like because of his liberal stand on immigration and Obama has no experience.

I think I'll vote for Teddy Roosevelt.

"THE MONEY PIT"

We've been working on the house for what seems like forever. Finally got a new laminated floating floor for the hallway, kitchen and bathroom and wall to wall carpeting for the dining room and living room. We've also repaved the driveway and relandscaped the back yard. Used up most of the money and we haven't done the three bedrooms upstairs yet.

Sometimes I wonder why I bought a house, but when the job is done, it seems worth it. We now have 6 full book cases of books in the living room and we still need more. We may wind up giving some books away. No room for them downstairs at least.

The one positive thing about doing projects like these is the little bonus' that you find while moving stuff around. The other day, I rediscovered an I-Pod wanna be that I lost a few years ago. Now that I'm stuck taking the bus to work every day again, it will come in handy.

Another Staff Meeting for the Zuni-Tamaroa

We had a good staff meeting for the Zuni/Tam. Things seem to be going our way. Victory Park near Newport News is one of the finalists for our home port. We have to strengthen the mooring area though. While I was down there, I stayed at a place called the Herrington Arms Inn literally right on the Chesapeake Bay. Very nice spot. I'd like to vacation there some day.

We are also being courted by a trade school near Northrop-Grumman. They want to practice their skills on us.

And the beat goes on...................