The app is going to be really mad.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
5:25 yesterday afternoon found me pacing around our condo. I was not anxious. I was trying to please an app.
I recently bought a Withings scale which connects to the Internet and provides all sorts of unnecessary, but interesting, at least to me, information. It has an app that uses your smartphone to chart all this and also keep track of how many steps you take during the day. Someone has set 10,000 as a desirable number.
Yesterday was a physical therapy day for me and I learned that the 1.6 miles from our condo to the PT facility is about 3,500 steps. With that 7,000 and my normal activity, at 5:15 I found myself at 9,300 steps. So I got up and walked from one end of our condo to the other eight times, varying the route occasionally by making a detour through the spare bedroom, until I reached 10,000. I ended the day with 10,575.
The app sent me a congratulatory email and awarded me a badge.
It is a fact that the app did cause me to engage in activity I would not have otherwise.
I won’t even come close to 10,000 today.
The app is going to be really mad.
The app is going to be really mad.
Not entirely unrelated to how computers are structuring our lives, you may have noticed a pun in the last post: ‘Along the way Ginny became pregnant and gave berth to a son in Brazil.’
I didn’t make it and I didn’t catch it. Michael did, for which I thank him, pointing out that Ginny gave birth and berth to young George.
The wit was beloved Autofill’s.
I have become unknowingly a shoe salesman.
This ad was seen by the brother of a friend who emailed it to me. I have never heard of Martin Dingman. I am told it is a high end shoe store. At least I’m selling good stuff and not flip-flops.
I couldn’t figure out the relevance of the quote until I noticed the soles of the shoes on the ends and conclude these are intended to be boat shoes.
I’ve written Martin but have not heard back.
It is good to have a new career in my old age.
“Yes, madam. I’m sure we have those in your size. I’ll go in the back and check.
“I trust you’ve noticed, Madam: we’re running a special this week on snow shoes.”
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
This fine looking vessel is GRENDEL.
GRENDEL was built around a male mold that was going to be destroyed, according to one perhaps apocryphal story by riding it down a Santa Cruz hill, until it was rescued by Ron Moore and become with some tweaks, including an unintentionally asymmetrical hull, the Moore 24.
When I look at the photos I am impressed by how clean GRENDEL’s deck is, though no forward hatch must make her darker and stuffier down below. The main traveler is on the deck far forward of that on GANNET and other Moore 24s. And I don’t quite understand the main hatch. The vertical opening is deeper than GANNET’s and perhaps crew simply crawl through that.
I must admit that in this photo she looks rather small.
The photos were sent to me by Don, for which I thank him.
Some of you will recall that I have mentioned the voyage of Ginny and Steve (not Earley; I don’t know these people) in a 21’ boat, usually open, but on which Steve built a small cabin.
They sailed south along the Caribbean coast, then powered up rivers through the heart of South America in a voyage that I have found interesting without having any desire to replicate it.
Along the way Ginny became pregnant and gave berth to a son in Brazil. Then the three of them, living in a tiny cabin that does make GANNET’s ‘great’, continued to the mouth of the Amazon where Ginny and child flew back to the U.S. and Steve began to sail back, coast and island hopping. This alone was a remarkable voyage, covering two thousand miles before it came to a sudden end.
You can find out how here.
At our local Jewel Supermarket a few weeks ago I came across new-to-me freeze dry food, Crunchies. Crunchies claim to have a unique process and perhaps they do. I have thus far tasted the raspberries, blueberries, tropical fruit, and roasted veggies.
These do not need to be rehydrated but can be eaten directly from the pouch. I don’t think the roasted veggies are good by themselves, but would be mixed in with something else. The fruits are outstanding snacks, particularly the tropical fruit.
Perfect for boats.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
That we are all in this together—or that at least some of us are—has been shown again by several who have written me about their own rotator cuff problems, or in some cases those of a family member. I appreciate the benefit of their experience.
Uniformly, surgery has resulted in full restoration; and uniformly recovery has taken at least a half a year.
One writer is Peter, who is a bit older than I and living aboard his Sadler 29, enviably at present in Cannes, France, where he went for a sail yesterday.
In his email he quoted Mike Richey, who made Atlantic crossings in his 80s and said, “There is no reason to think of giving up sailing until your memory degrades to such an extent that you forget where you are going once you have left.”
For myself I continue to go to physical therapy three times a week already with, perhaps unfortunately, significant improvement. I have little discomfort and can do everything I need to do except sleep on my left side for very long, and that too is becoming easier.
What is unfortunate about this is that it leaves the decision about surgery unclear. Perhaps that decision will become obvious when I am on GANNET.
An unexpected benefit of therapy has been that although I can easily take the train, if the weather is tolerable, meaning temperature more than 15°F/-10°C, I walk the 1.6 miles from our condo and back. This is almost ten miles a week that I would certainly otherwise not be walking. This morning happens to be rarely sunny and the winter has not been severe, but outside has mostly been gray, dismal and uninviting for weeks. Maybe months.
Another consequence is that I, who have seldom had to be anywhere at a specific time for decades, now have appointments three times a week, which is seriously disrupting my self-absorption.
Next week with two routine annual medical exams added, I have an appointment every day. Outrageous.
I do not expect sympathy from those of you who are, like Carol, productive members of society.
I went on a shopping spree last Tuesday—online of course—and bought the rest of the stuff I want to take back to GANNET.
Two Raymarine ST1000+ tiller pilots have already arrived and their warranties extended to three years by registration. I’ll buy two more next year; and these, along with a prototype of a unit I may test for a man who is trying to develop a sorely needed better above deck tiller pilot, should see GANNET though the voyage.
Raymarine may get tired of seeing them back for repair.
Still to arrive are tiller pilot pedestal sockets, three new Blue Performance sheet bags—one to replace one that has ripped; the other two to replace smaller ones already in place; three tubes of LifeSeal; and a battery powered fan that I don’t expect to need in New Zealand this year but might as well take along and get off my list.
My wretched excess in the last post pales into puny insignificance compared to the Super Bowl, whose name alone is excessive.
I heard one television station proudly boast that it is airing one hundred hours of pre-game programming. How is it possible to talk for one hundred hours about a game that lasts one hour during which the ball is actually in play for about twelve minutes? This is excess on an epic scale.
I will listen to none of it.
I will watch the game.
I don’t even care about the commercials or half time show.
Sometimes I feel so alone.
The photo was taken by GANNET’s official photographer, Steve Earley, who has found it a poorly remunerated position. Ah, but think of the honor, as I keep telling him.
I like the sense of speed and movement.
As I noted in an earlier post, Steve underwent hip replacement surgery two and a half weeks ago. Amazingly, at least to me, he is already able to walk a half mile without pain and has climbed aboard SPARTINA.
I’m more than happy for him. He’ll be sailing SPARTINA when I’m sailing GANNET, a continent and an ocean apart.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Last year Brian Cockburn, a composer, wrote asking if he could set some of my poems to music. Naturally I gave him permission.
The first, ‘Leaves of Men of Leaves’, was performed last month by the men’s chorus at James Madison University and a recording has just become available online.
If you want the words, they can be found on the poems page.
Some of you may recall a journal post headed, ‘The Thing I Can’t Do.’ Of course there are many, but the one I can’t that I most wish I could is be a musician; so hearing my words put to beautiful music is an unparalleled pleasure.
I’ve downloaded the track and have it in iTunes.
I look forward to playing it on GANNET in mid-ocean. And, as I told Brian, if I am ever off Cape Horn again, it will be heard there, too.
In time two more compositions based on “Die Alone Jean Gau” (first line) and “departure” will follow.
If you have not already had a surfeit, there is yet another Webb Chiles interview online. This one at Limitless Pursuits.
I don’t know that I have said anything new here, but it is well presented and I find my responses cogent. I am pleased to be included on a site whose target audience is, I expect, slightly younger than I.
Interesting, to me at least, is that at the time of the interview last October, my rotator cuff was torn but I did not know it.
I did not choose the 1979 photograph of me Tom Burrington used. I told him he could take anything from this site he wished. Sex sells. And certainly I was sexier thirty years ago than I am now.
Me. Me. Me. An orgy of self-promotion. Reminiscent of Norman Mailer’s ADVERTISEMENTS FOR MYSELF. I apologize. Even though the full name of this site is self-portrait in the present sea this is wretched excess.
Monday, January 19, 2015
I’ve been flying to and from New Zealand’s Bay of Islands for years and I have, or had, it figured out.
Flights leave Auckland for California in the evening, starting about 7:00 p.m.
Air New Zealand used to operate flights from KeriKeri, the tiny, single runway Bay of Islands airport, several times a day.
My established routine was to row ashore in the morning, hopefully before the wind came up, drive a rental car to KeriKeri, have a pleasant, leisurely lunch at Marsden Estate Winery near the airport, which has good wine and fine food in tranquil surroundings—the above photo was taken from their restaurant--and be on the 2:30 p.m. forty minute flight to Auckland.
However, yesterday when I went to book my return flight from New Zealand in May I discovered that Air New Zealand has discontinued all mid-day flights from KeriKeri, and I’d have to fly at 9:30 in the morning and sit around Auckland International all day.
An alternative is the bus. Both Carol and I have ridden it a few times. The distance is about 140 miles/222 kilometers, mostly through lovely scenery, in seats far more comfortable than those offered by airlines in less than business class, takes four hours and usually costs about $30 NZ/$24 US.
When I went to the Northland Express website, I found to my surprise and pleasure a special non-refundable fare of $1.00NZ/80 cents US. Reading further I learned that there is at least one $1.00 seat on every bus they run. Even with a $3.99NZ booking fee, this is some bargain.
I’ve got my $1.00 seat and am booked to return May 19.
If you listened to the 59°North podcast, or have been reading this journal for a while, you know that I am not religious. You may also know that I like a lot of religious music: Bach’s Passions; Beethoven’s Masses; numerous Requiems, from Mozart to Faure; and many others. To which now must be added Elgar’s THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS.
I finished reading the novel of that title; but the first Gerontius was a poem by Cardinal Newman about a man on his death bed dreaming of what he will experience after dying. Sir Edward Elgar wrote a choral piece based on the poem, which for some reason he didn’t like being called an oratorio. Perhaps the same reason I don’t like this journal being called a ‘blog’.
The first I knew of ‘Gerontius’ was a boat of that name I saw in New Zealand decades ago, obviously belonging to an owner of musical taste.
I enjoy Elgar’s music, particularly the Cello Concerto, but I would not have included him in the first rank, and for whatever reasons never listened to his ‘Dream of Gerontius’ until this past weekend when I found a YouTube video of a performance of the work at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. I was wrong about Elgar. His ‘Gerontius’ is magnificent, and in my opinion stands with the greatest choral music.
There is pleasure in coming across something so beautiful and new to me, while regretting that it remained undiscovered for so much of my life.
Last year may, or may not, have been the hottest in thousands of years. NASA and NOAA say it was and provide this map showing places above average in reddish shades and below in blue.
Other scientists agree that readings were higher than ever by 0.01°C, but say that falls within a 0.05°C margin of uncertainty.
What I notice in the map is that only three land areas were cooler last year: the Namibia/Angola border; Antarctica; and here.
Those of us who live here already knew that.
Friday, January 16, 2015
The ‘great minds’ in the heading was intended as part of ‘great minds think alike’ but I realized that is precisely wrong. Great minds do not think alike: originality is their greatness.
A variation on the theme is: fools seldom differ. I’m not sure that one is true either. Consider Congress.
All this came about because after reading my article, ‘Use Yourself Up’, a reader, David, was reminded of a quote from George Bernard Shaw. I thank him for forwarding it to me.
This is the true joy in life: the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy... I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no 'brief candle' to me. It is a splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
So perhaps we are left with: great minds sometimes think alike.
I was interviewed by Andy Schell for his podcast 59°North. The episode recently went online and can be found here if you are interested.
When Andy first emailed me I checked and saw that 59°North is the approximate latitude of Juneau, Alaska; but Andy, who is an American, has a partner who is Swedish and they spend part of their time there. The 59°North refers to the latitude not of Juneau, but Stockholm.
This is the third such podcast interview I’ve done.
That’s a lot of talking for a man who is mostly silent.
In GERONTIUS, a novel based on an incident in the life of the English composer, Sir Edgar Elgar, in answer to the question of why people take ocean liner cruises, I read: "Get away from it all," was the stock answer people generally give who habitually take as much as they can of it with them.
I’ve run the above photo before. I came across it while looking for something else. I like the ambiguity. Sailing into uncertainty. I think it was taken on the passage from Honolulu to Apia.
You need to have your display at full brightness and turned to the correct angle. The image is best seen enlarged by clicking on it. The sky is something from Albert Ryder.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Sailors who write to me almost invariably include a line to the effect that of course they are not comparing their sailing to mine. They don’t need to. It is not a competition. At least not on my part. I only compete with time and chance and myself. And I have deep admiration for the sailing many of you do.
I’ve long been meaning to say that, and the photo above, taken by my friend Steve Earley of himself last Monday standing, with cane, four days after hip replacement surgery, gazing fondly and longingly at the Pathfinder yawl, SPARTINA, he and his father built, provides a good reason. That is us all looking at our boats and longing to be sailing.
I could mention other sailors, but I would almost certainly leave someone out, so let Steve stand as Everyman. Perhaps more normal than I, but not ordinary. Extraordinary in dedication and passion. I love being on boats and on the water. I love sailing. But I don’t love those things more than Steve does. Nor more than many of you do.
Steve wrote to me recently:
I think when people see me come off SPARTINA at a dock in a little harbor, they see a different person than the one they would find elsewhere. One time on a cold windy day in Chestertown, with SPARTINA tied up blocks away, I came around the corner to see a sailor with the collar of his foul weather jacket pulled tight, long-billed hat set slightly askew, glasses tied in place by a piece of string. My first reaction was that of envy for a sailor living the life. My second reaction was astonishment - it was me reflected in a shop window. That's the person I want to be, and I can only find that person on, around or near the water.
As would any sailor, Steve planned his hip replacement for the off season. In his home waters around Norfolk, Virginia that is shorter than it would be in Chicago. Excluding ice boats.
I wish Steve a rapid recovery and the winds of Spring on his skin and in SPARTINA’s sails.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Plan C has been adopted. I told Carol yesterday.
I’ve begun physical therapy which thus far has been mild isometrics. The process is interesting and foreign to me. I’m not used to working with others or the environment. It is sort of like being in a gym again, which I haven’t been since college.
I also had no idea that physical therapy is such a big business.
The surgeon’s nurse at Northwestern gave me flyers from four different firms each with dozens of offices in the Chicago area and probably hundreds around the country.
Regardless of the outcome of the therapy, I’m flying to New Zealand on March 17 and keeping GANNET in the Bay of Islands until next year.
I’m seventy-three and acting as though I have all the time in the world. That’s exactly what I do have, what we all have: all the time in the world.
Yesterday morning I looked at the display showing the temperature on our balcony and saw 17°. Then I looked closer and saw 1.7°. The wind has been blowing hard and the wind chill decidedly lower.
In case you’ve forgotten two years ago this month I wrote:
The wind is whistling around our building
The whales are migrating off San Diego.
The ocean waits.
Patient has two meanings.
Neither comes naturally to me.
It’s all still true.
From Suzanne (not my ex-wife) comes a different and useful world wind map. I thank her for the link.
I now view it and the Earth wind map each morning as well as the Windfinder Pro app on my iPad mini.
Wind is 23 knots from the west off Cape Horn right now and the air temperature 44°F/6.6°C.
Balmy compared to Evanston where Lake Michigan is frozen out as far as I can see.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
I have seen more parts of my body on screens than I ever expected. Or wanted to. Yesterday my left shoulder, both x-rays and MRIs. The “nearly complete bursal surface insertional tear of the anterior and middle fibers of the supraspinatus” is a 5 mm wide white line on the MRIs.
That tear will never heal.
Most men in their seventies have tears in their rotator cuffs, I am told. However most men in their seventies are not sailing small boats around the world.
The surgeon can and will repair the tear if I wish. Recovery after surgery will take six months, after which the shoulder should be 100%.
An alternative is first to have four to six weeks of physical therapy to see if other parts of the rotator cuff can be strengthened to compensate for the tear and eliminate pain.
The tear is not likely to become complete unless I fall on that shoulder again. If it does tear all the way I will have pain that should be endurable but might not be able to raise my arm above my shoulder.
I’ve always been aware of the possibility of a medical emergency at sea. And since I went blind in my right eye, I’ve been aware that if a thousand miles from land the retina were to detach in my left eye without warning as it did in my right , I’d be completely blind and screwed. As is evident such possibilities haven’t kept me from sailing.
I have been thinking about all this since talking to the surgeon, and have three plans, depending on results and my own desires.
All include my starting physical therapy tomorrow, and, perhaps surprisingly, all include my being on my scheduled flight to New Zealand on March 17.
Plan A: the physical therapy is a success and by the end of February my shoulder is strong and I’m symptom free. I fly to Opua, prepare GANNET, and sail on by June.
Plan B: the physical therapy is not successful. I fly to Opua, spend a month or two on GANNET, fly back to Evanston and have surgery and am fully recovered by the end of the year, and sail on in 2016.
Plan C: whether I need surgery or not, I keep GANNET in the Bay of Islands this year and sail on next.
Ever since I learned that New Zealand now allows foreign vessels to stay two years rather than only one, I have been tempted to keep GANNET there for the extra year. Since my injury I have written to some correspondents that it would not be a tragedy if GANNET had to stay in Opua until 2016. In fact, it might be desirable.
As is well known the Bay of Islands is one of my favorite places in the world. When I sail away this time, it is quite probably for the last time. Plus I could spend the summer with Carol.
I write about this at length because it affects my stated plans. Others have far more serious medical problems than I.
I’m not yet sure what I will do. If the physical therapy is not successful I don’t have any choices to make.
To those who will think that I am quitting, I suggest that you have me confused with someone else.
I’ll sail on when I can and when it pleases me.
I don’t like to work out. I don’t like not to work out even more. I forgot to ask the surgeon if I can do push-ups. Perhaps the physical therapist will know. I haven’t gained weight, but I feel that I have lost muscle and am out of shape.
Last year I came no where near my goal of working out one hundred times. This is to be expected when I am on a circumnavigation. I worked out only 43 times in 2009 when I was completing my fifth circle.
In 2014 I did the same: 43. But of those only nine took place after May 1. Mostly this was due to time at sea on GANNET; but some due to my shoulder. I did work out four times around my birthday; but stopped when I learned the nature of my problem.
So 2014 saw only 6539 push-up and crunches.
2015 might see even less.
I sailed from Honolulu on July 1 and so forgot to post the list of books read during the first six months of the year.
Here is the list for the year.
A COLOSSAL WRECK Alexander Cockburn
SERVANTS OF THE MAP Andrea Barrett
THE LIEUTENANT Kate Grenville
THE CRIMEAN WAR Orlando Figes
SARAH THORNHILL Kate Grenville
WAITING FOR SUNRISE William Boyd
OFFSHORE Penelope Fitzgerald
STORM OF STEEL Ernst Junger
THE STRANGER Albert Camus
THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY Ambroise Bierce
MY NAME IS RED Orphan Pamuk
FAR TORTUGA Peter Matthiessen
A DOVE OF THE EAST Mark Helprin
THE BLACK COUNT Tom Reiss
THE CIVIL WAR Vol. 3 Shelby Foote
TISHOMINGO BLUES Elmore Leonard
THE SOJOURN Andrew Krivak
THE AMERICAN HOME FRONT 1941-1942 Alistair Cooke
MIDNIGHT IN EUROPE Alan Furst
THE WATERS OF KRONOS Conrad Richter
CITY OF FORTUNE: How Venice Ruled the Seas Roger Crowley
ISLAND NIGHTS’ ENTERTAINMENTS Robert Louis Stevenson
THE EBB-TIDE Robert Louis Stevenson
TREASURE ISLAND Robert Louis Stevenson
THE BIG NOWHERE James Ellroy
FAREWELL TO ARMS Ernest Hemingway
A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING Bill Bryson
A POSSIBLE LIFE Sebastian Faulks
BLUEBEARD Kurt Vonnegut
DISGRACE J.M. Coetzee
THREE-TEN TO YUMA AND OTHER STORIES Elmore Leonard
THE BELL JAR Sylvia Plath
AS I WALKED OUT ONE MIDSUMMER MORNING Laurie Lee
NO MAN’S LAND Pete Ayrton editor
THE GIVEN DAY Dennis Lehane
SHIP FEVER Andrea Barrett
AN OFFICER AND A SPY Robert Harris
SOLO FACES James Salter
EDGAR ALLEN POE: The Fever Called Living Paul Collins
BE COOL Elmore Leonard
THE ILLUSTRATED MAN Ray Brqdbury
ENOCH ARDEN AND OTHERS Alfred Tennyson
RANSOM David Malouf
TAMBURLAINE THE GREAT: Parts I and II Christopher Marlowe
MACBETH William Shakespeare
MACBETH William Shakespeare
REMEMBERING BABYLON David Malouf
OUR KIND OF TRAITOR John le Carre
ELOQUENCE Mark Forsyth
MASTER AND COMMANDER Patrick O’Brian
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
J.M.W. Turner is my favorite painter, just as Bach is my favorite composer. Shakespeare is not my favorite writer, though I think him the greatest and perhaps the most alone man of all, the only of our species truly without peer.
Turner was an original, commercially successful in his own time, an Impressionist fifty years before the French and approaching Abstractionism a century before the world. To see his paintings at the Tate in London is to be struck dumb with astonishment.
You can find many favorable reviews of the current film about his life, MR. TURNER, which itself is astonishing because it maintains interest without much of a plot or action and is often as beautiful as its subject’s paintings. Full credit to director Mike Leigh. My favorite review is by an art rather than a movie critic.
We went and saw the film last Friday. I don’t often go out to see movies, preferring to wait and watch at home; but this is one that benefits from a wide screen.
Timothy Spall’s depiction of Turner is far from effete. His Turner is a snuffling, grunting animal of a man, totally dedicated to his art, who causes disruption and pain to many, but not all, around him.
Timothy Spall is one of those faces you have seen dozens of times in secondary roles without ever knowing his name. In an unlikely leading role his acting is superb.
Knowing Turner’s paintings before watching the movie is helpful, for one of its pleasures is seeing Mike Leigh make what might have been the original inspirations for many of them come to life.
A beautiful, clever, sometimes unpleasant film that I’ll watch again when it comes to television.
I am working my way through another bad translation of Goethe’s FAUST. And work it is. I’ll battle through to the end, hopefully and gratefully finishing on the train rides to and from my medical appointment this afternoon; but it hasn’t been fun.
I have never come across a good English translation of FAUST, and am beginning to believe there isn’t one. I think my current ordeal was translated by someone with the last name of Luke; but the long translator’s preface is unsigned. Perhaps out of embarrassment.
I don’t know if this one is true to Goethe. I do know that it is not good poetry.
My favorite line so far is a stage direction: Faust enter with the poodle.
Read Marlow’s DOCTOR FAUSTUS instead.
In my ongoing public service of tasting all versions of Laphroaig that cost less than $100, I came across a new one, Select, and bought a bottle for $59.
Select is a blend of several Laphroaig variants given a final aging in American Oak barrels. One reviewer likens it to a ‘greatest hits’ collection, and continues that it doesn’t work. I agree. Select is all right, but I won’t buy it again.
10 Year Rules.
Friday, January 2, 2015
Larry sent me the above which is from The Duplex by Larry McCoy, with the comment “like the sea,” knowing that this is an opinion I have often expressed. I thank him.
However, unlike the late Mr. Sagan, I was invited to a Christmas party, though only because I’m Carol’s husband.
I mentioned that CRUISING WORLD changed for the better the title of one of my recent articles. Editors and publishers often change titles. This happened with the book, THE OCEAN WAITS, which the publisher took from one of my poems.
This photo was taken of GAaNNET a few days ago by Brian as he went by her mooring and was forwarded to me by Grant. I thank them both.
The ocean is waiting. GANNET is waiting. And I am waiting until next Tuesday when I see the surgeon.
Photo by Steve Earley.