Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Entry: Last Flight of the Avenger

Tags: Nostalgia, Childhood

I spent Thanksgiving over on the left coast with my father and some extended family. Good times, as always. I was fortunate enough to get one last ride in "the boat" before it was put up for sale on CraigsList.

You'll have to understand a little about its history before you can understand this craft's significance to me. This boat (or an identical twin) has been a part of the family longer than I have. I have very fond memories as a youngster zipping across the Persian Gulf while sitting on the bow with my legs hanging off. The railing made a very convenient seat.

Water sports were a bit different in the 70s and 80s (from my limited perspective) given that the beasts of burden that roamed the surface of the water seemed a lot more "robust" (for a total lack of a better word) than their counterparts of today. Today it seems to be all about the kinds of exotic composites comprising the hull and the number of ubiquitous computer processors scattered about the craft maintaining perfect precision between the engine and the control surfaces.

This particular craft is a vestige from a time when the goal was simple and the designs purposed towards simply having fun and not necessarily having to wonder how one was going to pay for it. (Have you SEEN how much boats cost today???). Streamlined hull....check. Engine....check. Rudder....check. Go!

I'm told by my mother that during our years in Saudi, my little kiddie seat would nestle neatly and nicely below the center console. There was enough space for two people at the helm and plenty of leg room to go around. It's a shame that I have absolutely no memories of that at all.

The design of the boat was such that a family of three could sleep comfortably in the bow. I'm not just saying that as a bullet point, either. We actually used to. The drill was simple...drive out from Abqaiq the night before, throw a sheet out across the bow, get some serious Zs, and then hit the water as the sun was just coming up off the horizon. I wish I could remember how to spell the name of the beach that we would park out at because I'm not going to look the fool by trying to guess. Me and Arabic...not so good together. :)

But, I digress. Dad afforded me one last jog around Whiskeytown Lake a few days ago. Although 25 years off the assembly line, the boat still shone like a dancer in her prime. I'll never, as long as I live, forget the moment that we cleared the no-wake buoy. My dad gingerly says..."Well...let's see if she'll go". Three seconds later, we're at mach 2 and my hair's on fire.

Love ya, dad.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Entry: More pictures from Lake Murray

These were taken from the Lake Murray trip (previously posted here). It's nice to have someone ELSE taking pictures so that I can actually prove that I was in the water with everyone else. :)

Just me. Ho hum.

Just me again...re-seating my mask.

Group shot!

So, the group I was with were a bunch of commercial divers in training. It's common for them to deploy into the water from some relatively extreme heights. So, I figured I'd try the 15-foot (roughly) giant stride. The picture is actually higher than it looks.

Me. Bottom right.

Me...back left.

Diving off the the "No Diving" sign from top of the pontoon.

Entry: So, I received this email today ...

So, I received this email today. It was your standard chain letter delivered in the usual format (in other words, absolutely pregnant with greater-than signs on the left denoting every dirty little e-mail account this thing had touched before arriving in my inbox).

The topic was Thomas Jefferson. The letter starts out by describing Jefferson's intellectual maturation, mentions his broad career, and then ends with a series of choice quotes.

It is rare that I propagate chain mail like this but I happen to like this one. And no...I have not diligently checked on the accuracy of the content so I could simply be helping some fool spread nonsense and not even know it.

Resume of Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was a very remarkable man who started learning very early in life and never stopped.

  • At 5, began studying under his cousins tutor.
  • At 9, studied Latin, Greek and French.
  • At 14, studied classical literature and additional languages.
  • At 16, entered the College of William and Mary.
  • At 19, studied Law for 5 years starting under George Wythe.
  • At 23, started his own law practice.
  • At 25, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
  • At 31, wrote the widely circulated "Summary View of the Rights of British America" and retired from his law practice.
  • At 32, was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress.
  • At 33, wrote the Declaration of Independence ...
  • At 33, took three years to revise Virginias legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom.
  • At 36, was elected the second Governor of Virginia succeeding Patrick Henry.
  • At 40, served in Congress for two years.
  • At 41, was the American minister to France and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.
  • At 46, served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.
  • At 53, served as Vice President and was elected president of the American Philosophical Society.
  • At 55, drafted the Kentucky Resolutions and became the active head of Republican Party.
  • At 57, was elected the third president of the United States.
  • At 60, obtained the Louisiana Purchase doubling the nation's size.
  • At 61, was elected to a second term as President.
  • At 65, retired to Monticello.
  • At 80, helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.
  • At 81, almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia and served as its first president.
  • At 83, died on the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence along with John Adams
Thomas Jefferson knew because he himself studied the previous failed attempts at government. He understood actual history, the nature of God, his laws and the nature of man. That happens to be way more than what most understand today. Jefferson really knew his stuff. A voice from the past to lead us in the future:

John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the white House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: "This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

"When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe." ~Thomas Jefferson

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." ~Thomas Jefferson

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world." ~Thomas Jefferson

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." ~Thomas Jefferson

"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government." ~Thomas Jefferson

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." ~Thomas Jefferson

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." ~Thomas Jefferson

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." ~Thomas Jefferson

"To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." ~Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:
"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property - until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

Monday, November 07, 2011

Entry: My (partial) Sunday On the Water

More pictures of diving. Again, though, no cool underwater pictures. I don't seem to like diving in places where you can actually see anything. Today's dive was in Lake Murray just outside of Columbia, SC. I was fortunate to be able to go out with some students from the International Diving Institute. There are no shots of me here as I was the one with the camera all day.

Things I learned today:
  • Wipe off camera lens after having it in the water. Subsequent surface shots come out kinda blurry if you don't. (Common sense? Yes, I think so!)
  • How not to remove a fin from one's foot while still in the water.
  • How to turn a dive reel into a giant floating spaghetti monster at 65 feet.

The happy couple relaxing in the back.

Kim looking all authoritative.

A gentleman whose name I can't recall. I thus dub him "BillysDad". Anyway, I snapped this shot of BillysDad at the helm.

This is BillysDad actually posing. Seriously...I'm not kidding.

Jus' hang'n.

Yes. Out double-decker pontoon boat came complete with water slide. What better accessory for a boat dive is there?

Mike hanging out on top.

I feel like total arse for not remember this guy's name. He's the guy who loaned me his spare fins after I lost one of mine. Total life-saver.

Billy and Trace looking for the marker buoy that marks the submerged bridge. BTW, it was never found. <:(

Random islands.

Another random island.

The ladies hanging out in the back.

A shot of my obnoxiously yellow fin in the water. This is to give an idea regarding visibility. Then again, it doesn't help that this picture was taken while I was in the shadow of the boat.

Divers in.

No idea who's in this shot.

Another boat shot.

And another.

Dive 1 complete. Time for surface interval.

Kim, regaling us with stories of past diving glories whilst imparting wisdom from immeasurable experience.

Mike: "Where are the pole dancers?"

"Yes, Mr. camera man? Can I help you?"

Actually not what it looks like, hilariously enough.

"I'm just gonna sit here on my slide and...not slide. By the way, where's the fried chicken?"

"Cap'n Morgan, sir."

In the water again.

Waiting for stragglers.

Shot of the bottom at 20 feet.

Shot of my dive buddy at 20 feet. The murk is actually do to silting, not the water being that nasty.

Ok. Time for some history. Something you should know about Lake Murray and the role it played in the Doolittle Raid.

Remnants of spent munitions found on the bottom. Stood next to air tank for scale.
Her: "Hey, honey. How was your day?"
Him: "Great. Found a WWII bomb in the lake."

Another picture of the bomb.

A portion of a detonator that I found.

Organizing everything after returning from the dives.