Monday, March 31, 2014


Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

Party games are popular among cruisers.  Given the lack of 24x7 TV, that's not surprising.   Our favorite game is Balderdash.

Balderdash is a word game.  It works as follows.   We have a stack of cards.  Each card lists 5 real (but obscure) words.  On the back of the cards are the real definitions.

One person is the dasher.  The dasher chooses a card at random, and another person selects a number 1-5.  The dasher reads the word aloud and spells it.

Now each player takes a slip of paper and writes his/her name, plus a made up definition for the word.  Meanwhile, the dasher looks at the real definition and writes that on a slip.  Then the dasher collects all the strips.  If 6 people are playing, there a 6 slips and at least one of them is guaranteed to have the correct definition.   The dasher reads them all aloud.  Then people vote.   Each votye for the definition I wrote, gives me one point.  A vote for the correct definition, gives the voter two points.  Zero correct votes gives the dasher three points.

The game is hilarious, primarily because of the diverse and imaginary definitions that people make up.  A bit of alcohol shared triples the fun.

I like to play the game for laughs rather than points.  To me, a home run is to write something on my slip so funny that the dasher is unable to read it out loud, and just giggles instead.

By the way, we found a brand new Balderdash game in the book exchange.  It was in the original box, unopened.  We don't need it.  If you would like that game free, let us know and I'll send it.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Extremely Useful Stuff for PC Users

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

Yesterday I sat down to help a friend set up his own blog.  What actually transpired though was me teaching him a few really basic but really important things about windows.  I did the same thing last winter when I taught Excel up in New Bern.  If you memorize a really short list of things about Windows, it will make your computer use 300% easier. These things are hardly secrets, but I'm always amazed that the vast majority of Windows users don't know about them.  Here they are:

  • Select one thing – left click, sometimes double click.
  • Select many things or many words – select the first thing, hold left button down while moving the mouse, left button up
  • Right click on the selection to see a menu of things you can do with it.
  • Keyboard Shortcuts that work in almost any Windows app and that are much easier to use than finding the functions on a menu.  Memorize these.
    • Cut – CTRL-X
    • Copy - CTRL-C
    • Paste – CTRL-V
    • Undo – CTRL-Z
    • Redo – CTRL-Y
    • Select all - CTRL-A
    • ALT-TAB   - switch between open windows
The last one, ALT-TAB is especially useful and amazingly not known by many people.  I am dismayed to see some people tediously close every window to switch to another program. THAT IS NOT NECESSARY. Learn to use ALT-TAB with the YouTube video, or read the paragraph below.

Skip this paragraph if you watched the video. Start in the case where you have three windows open.  Your browser in one window, file explorer in a second window, and maybe Word in a third window.  Now, hold your left thumb on the ALT key, and press TAB once while keeping the ALT key down.  A little ribbon will appear in the middle of your screen.  It will have four icons, one for the browser, one for email, one for word, one for the desktop.  By pressing TAB several times, you can switch from one program to another.  Let your thumb off ALT to finish.

Disable The Touch Pad
One other thing essential to laptops and a major cause of user frustration and annoyance on both Windows PCs and Macs.  That is brushing the heel of your hand accidentally over the touch pad while you are typing.  That causes the cursor to suddenly jump to a random place unexpectedly.  You may suspect that something is flaky with your computer. If you are using a mouse, it is doubly annoying and unnecessary.  The solution is to turn off the touch pad when you are using a mouse.  Unfortunately, the way to do that is brand specific.  A keystroke does it on my laptop, but I have to redo it every time I turn my PC on.  On a friends Mac we had to go searching for online help to find out how.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Uh Oh, Addicted

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

For most of my life, I've been a big coffee drinker. At work, I would drink coffee continuously during my average 12 hour work day. I think my consumption was 2-3 quarts per day.

When I stared traveling to Scandinavia where the coffee was much stronger, my volume of consumption remained the same. That amazed and shocked some of my hosts. One couple laughed at me when afeter dinner, I declined the customary demitasse coffee cup in favor of a breakfast tea cup.

But during those years, I wasn't fussy. Good coffee, bad coffee, any coffee would do the job.

When we started cruising, my coffee consumption dropped considerably to about 16 ounces per day. I never drank coffee after noon.

But the winter at New Bern gave me free unlimited Starbucks Coffee at The Hilton Hotel. I drank 32 ounces every morning. Now, back on the boat, 32 ounces remained my morning quota, but any brand would do.

The past couple of weeks, the coffee stated tasting bad. My consumption dropped to 16 ounces, and I threw away the second 16 ounces. (Libby doesn't drink coffee at all.)

But this week, the coffee tasted great again. I wanted 48 ounces (1.5 liters) for breakfast I asked Libby what changed. She said we ran out of Chase & Sanborn coffee and she bought Starbucks brand at the supermarket. Uh oh, I think I'm hooked for life.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Science Fiction Fans Needed

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you already know that I like to write. I like it a lot. In my lifetime I've written huge volumes of nonfiction stuff, but never before a single word of fiction. Now, I would like to try my hand at fiction. Real fiction with dialog.

I wrote a short story that I plan to submit to a SF magazine. I have a draft. Several friends have read it. My friend Walt is a SF fan. Walt gave me some very valuable feedback that I used to rewrite the story and greatly improve it.

I invite you to do the same, so that I might improve it more. But only if (1) you are a SF fan and (2) if you are someone previously known to me; not a stranger. If you would like to be a critic for me, please send me an email and I'll send you the current draft of the story. But do it soon, I would like to submit it two weeks from now.

Dog Waste Is Not Considered A Recylable

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

Above:  Everyone likes it when manatees visit.  We had this family of one mother with two children that came to visit the dinghy dock area recently.   People around here have been warned not to touch them, or pat their heads, or to feed them fresh water.  Most people comply.

I was at a loss for words when I saw the above sign. I never considered dog waste to be recyclable in the first place.  I'm even more dismayed at the idea of someone who paws through the recyclables carefully enough to find dog waste to complain about.  Put it down as part of the inevitable result of communal living facilities.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Final Leg of This Winter

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

Well, John and Becky have come and gone.  We enjoyed their visit immensely.  It was a special treat to have their company.  We also did a lot of stuff.

  • We started them off Thursday with cocktails and diner in Tarwathie's cockpit as the Keys treated us to one of those great sunsets.
  • On Friday, we visited the Blue Hole on Big Pine Key, we did the tourist thing in Key West up and down Duval street, and we ended the day with a lobster reuben at Keys Fisheries in Marathon as we watched yet another spectacular sunset.
  • On Saturday, Libby went to her Tai Chi class and the rest of us tagged along as visitors.   It was my first time as a visitor to Tai Chi, so it was a treat to see what Libby has been doing for the past few years.  I've never seen Tai Chi being done before.  It is very cool.
  • Then we took Tarwathie out to Sombrero Reef for some snorkeling.  It was an exceptionally calm day so that was nice.   The clear waters and colorful fish at the reef made it lots of fun.   However, despite the calm seas, the strange motion of the boat above the reef led to feelings of sea sickness for some, so we didn't stay long.    As we left, we spotted a four foot barracuda under the boat.  That freaked Becky out. She said, "Thank God I didn't see that thing when I was in the water."

    We returned to Boot Key Harbor.  John and Becky took our dinghy out to Sombrero Beach, which they liked.  We finished the day with diner at The Hurricane.
  • Sunday, after breakfast at The Stuffed Pig, John and Becky left for Miami Beach.  They'll stay there a couple of days.   
Fair winds John & Becky.

For Libby and I, our focus shifts to making preparations for departure, not to mentions plans for where to go upon departure.   No specific time or plans yet.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Tricks For Old Dogs

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

I presume that around the age of 5 my mother taught me how to tie my shoes. Unfortunately, I learned wrong. For the next 62 years, I was annoyed because my laces came untied a dozen times per day. Finally, in 2012 I got tired of that.. I searched Google for instructions on how to do it right, changed my method, and have not had that problem since.

While cruising, it took me 7 years to learn the correct way to tie a dinghy alongside Tarwathie. Most sailboats have squared off transoms in the back, so they tie the dinghy behind them. But Tarwathie is double ended, and we have the monitor self-steering in the back, so we can't tie the dinghy back there. I saw how our friends Don and Margaret tied their dinghy differently on their W32. Tried that, didn't work well. In the six years before I learned, we acquired scrapes and black marks where the dinghy rubbed the hull for 6 years. Those marks testify to my slowness at learning. By the way, after two years, the new method has proved to work very well.

It took four years on board the boat before I learned to change into work clothes before tackling dirty jobs like painting or engine mechanics. Every time I ruined my clothes, Libby would relegate them from my clothes drawer to my work-clothes drawer. I changed only after noticing that the first drawer was almost empty and the second drawer was stuffed to overflow.

It took an additional four years for me to learn to take off the work clothes before sitting down on the cushions. Lucky for me that it is usually only me and Libby on board so that I can run around in my underwear during the day. If I were an auto mechanic, I bet I would always put down paper before sitting in a customer's car, but at lunchtime I would hop into my own car with dirty clothes and no paper.

But it took me only 55 years to learn how to paint properly. Ever since my first full time job at age 14, I painted things for work or for home, or boat. For thinners and cleaners I used turpentine, linseed oil, mineral spirits, lots of acetone, but never naphtha. I thought naphtha was for moth balls. This month I bought a quart of naphtha for my deck painting projects. I'm amazed. It makes the painting very much easier and the result looks much more professional than anything I've ever done. I put a few drops of naphtha on the brush every 5 minutes. By the way, I owe this experience to the Pensylvsnia Legislature. They passed a law saying that products like Interlux Paint Thinner ($30/quart) must reveal their secret ingredients, I looked it up. Naphtha ($8/quart).

For someone who brags about how much he likes to learn new things, I can be awfully dense at certain things. If Libby was writing this post, I bet she could offer a much longer list.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Love Analemmas

Boot Key Harbor, Marsthon Florida.

Regular readers know that I often write about analemmas and their variations.

Today is the equinox, an a particularly apropos day to discuss analemmas. Rather than shamelessly ripping off someone else's page, allow me to redirect you here.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lucky Me

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida


Libby is very generous with her wonderful baskets. Most of them go to family and friends. I have a few on the boat. The one above is Libby's latest. She made it for me to keep small items on the navigation table. I think it is an exceptionally nice example of her art. Thank you Libby.

By the way, both Libby and have long since given up on trying to take pictures of all her baskets and posting them. There are too many of them, and not most of them are given away or otherwise gone.

By the way. For the next few days, we will have company. First company this season. My son John and his girlfriend Becky will be visiting from the frigid pars of upstate New York.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Pre Dawn Delights

Boot Key Harbor, Marsthon, Florida

It is my habit to wake at 0600 every morning. No alarm clock needed. I make a quart of coffee, then listen to Morning Edition on NPR while perusing the NYT and Washington Post and Drudge on my computer. When I get to the second pint of coffee, I turn away from the news and do 30 minutes on the physics courses that I've been taking since November 2012.

This week is fund raising week for public radio, so I skipped that. Instead, I did my news perusing in the cockpit. I have nearly an hour before the first light if dawn.

Yesterday and today were particularly nice. I had a spectacular full moon setting in the west. I also had unseen visitors - a pod of dolphins. This year, a pod of 4 adult and 2 child dolphins have been frequenting the harbor. But hearing them without seeing them in the pre-dawn darkness was fun. You see, each dolphin surfaces about nice per minute to breath. You hear a soft splash and a whosh-whosh as the exhale-inhale. Hearing six dolphins, I was pretty much able to follow their path among the surrounding bosts by sound alone. I tried, but failed, to recognize individuals by their sound. Very cool.

A picture taken with Libby's iPad. The bright light is the moon. The other lights are not stars, but rather anchor lights from other boats.  Below is another shot at first light.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Legal Issues for Bloggers

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

I neglected a whole topic during my blogging seminar the other day.  That is, legal rights and legal cautions for bloggers.  I'll try to remedy it here.

I recommend that all blog authors should read the (EF F) Electronic Frontier Foundation's publications

During the seminar I should also mention my own self-imposed policies on copyrights and attribution.  I seldom include non-original text (e.g. text that I did not author myself), but I sometimes paste reader comments to this blog into a post, so that I can discuss the comment.  I also frequently include pictures or videos from other sources.   I have a two-tier policy for pictures.
  1. When the source clearly identifies the copyright owner or it indicates "rights reserved", I write him/her and ask for permission before using it.
  2. When the source is obscure, such as an unattributed picture on Google Images, or, or on a web page, I use it without attribution or permission.  Videos on that include a box that says "copy this HTML to embed this video on your page", I just do what it says without worrying about permission.
In other words, if I am the second, third or fourth hand user, I don't worry about niceties.   Once I wrote to the Norman Rockwell foundation to ask permission to use one of Rockwell's images in a blog post.  They refused.  I abstained.

I also recommend that bloggers should read and select one of the Creative Commons legal licenses.  The site offers several choices of licenses.  I chose the "Attribution-NoDerivs" option.  Even if you want your blog to be public domain, it should be secured by a Creative Commons license.  Most people, as a minimum, wish to allow use of their blog for non-commercial purposes. 

By the way, EFF and Wikipedia are the only causes to which I donate money regularly.  I'm very Scotch.
Just today, I added links to EFF and to the Creative Commons license to the footer at the bottom of this blog page.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Useful Life of Cruising Boats

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

Next year, Tarwathie will be 40.  Our friends on Wind Chaser have a Beneteau that is 20 years old. So, are boats like used cars with a few exceptions, but with most becoming junk after 10 or so years?  No, it's not that simple with boats.

First, I must qualify what I say by the hull material.  Again with some notable exceptions, wooden boats have a very short lifetime.   Even the famous Yankee Clipper ships such as the 449 foot long Wyoming were intended to have a lifetime of only 10-12 years.   For a notable exception, think of the USS Constitution.

The Wyoming
Steel ships also have a finite lifetime limited by corrosion.  Yet the life limit is very much longer than wooden ships.  Just think of the many WWII war ships still seaworthy.

That leaves concrete and fiberglass hulls.  I don't know much about concrete boats, so I won't discuss them.  Fiberglass is a nearly ideal material for hulls. As far as I know, a fiberglass hull will last forever.

But most modern fiberglass boats have some kind of core material sandwiched between inner and outer layers of fiberglass.  Perhaps plywood core, or plastic core, or other materials.   Plywood cores are subject to rot if water gets in.  That is perhaps the most common form of "death" for modern boats.   Other core materials can also become detached from the fiberglass, leading to structural problems and likely abandonment of the

Boats build prior to 1980 enjoyed much cheaper material costs.  Westsails like Tarwathie have solid glass and resin hulls with no core material at all. In fact, I heard an ex-Westsail employee say in 2005 that building a Westsail 32 today would cost $275,000 for the resin alone.  In 2014, that would probably mean $350,000 for resin, and perhaps $700,000 overall manufacturers cost for a 32 foot boat. For that reason, fiberglass boats from the 1970s are sought after and treasured.   Real sailing purists may be willing to buy an old boat, strip it down to the bare hull, and build a new yacht based on that hull.

But rebuilding a boat takes a mind numbing amount of work.  All of your spare time for 7-10 years is perhaps the typical amount of effort.  Clearly, anyone who does this does it as a labor of love.  It is far from the cheapest or fastest way to get afloat.

So, what do you have to do to make your cruising boat last indefinitely?   One crucial requirement -- you need to use it.  Use your boat and cruise with your boat.  If you go away and leave the boat in storage on water or on land for long periods, it will decay.  You must use it to preserve it.  However, the definition of "use it" includes keeping up with a never-ending list of boat projects.  It also requires a significant budget for boat projects and modernization.  Over the years, you will repair and/or replace every part of the boat except the hull and the deck.  You'll also do a fair amount of hull maintenance, but you won'/t replace it.

There may be other design and brand specific flaws that limit the lifetime of your boat.   I've heard of designs with chronic structural weaknesses.  The much respected and admired Morgan Out Island 41 that was not designed to allow engine replacement at a cost less than the full value of the boat.   But such flaws are exceptions, not the rule.  Every boat has some flaws, but almost all are repairable.  Very few are fatal flaws.

So, the primary way that cruising boats die is to not be used.  The secondary way is when the owners get too old to keep up with their list of boat projects.  Other than that, the sky is the limit to the useful lifetime of most fiberglass cruising boats.  

Boats may be more analogous to houses than to cars when it comes to useful lifetime.  Two to four hundred year old historic houses are common.  I expect the same with sound designs like the Westsail.  Some day, a future blogger might be writing about Tarwathie's 400th birdday.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Blogging Seminar

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

I'm teaching a seminar today entitled "Sucessful Blogging".   Below are the seminar notes.

Successful Blogging
Thousands millions of people find it easy to start a blog, then quit after only a few postings.  They failed.

To count yourself as successful, either:
You make a lot of money or gain professional status.
Hint: 10,000+ readers needed to make money.
You enjoy writing and don’t burn yourself out.
Your readers enjoy reading, and keep coming back.
Dick’s Blog
~2500 posts
~500 readers/~20 archival readers

This Seminar
Part 1: What to blog
Part 2: How to blog

Choose the Right Media
Status for concerned family & friends --- Arrived safely Bimini
·         Use Twitter or texting
Pictures and short descriptions. Sharing experiences with friends.   “Enjoying cocktails at sunset.
·         Use Facebook or Pinterest
Email newsletter (old fashioned)
Transient Value
Archival Value
Varied content things you enjoy writing and readers enjoy reading.  e.g. compare to a newspaper daily column
·         Use a blog.
Substantial content regarding a single theme or story.
·         Write a book.

How To Bore Readers
·         We are here having a wonderful time (and you’re not)

·         Too narrow ideas of what to blog, leading to repetition and predictability with regard to comment.

·         Too loose ideas regarding frequency of publication.

·         Failure to put yourself in the reader’s shoes.
o   Non-real-time readers
o   Skimmers & Cherry Pickers
o   Hurried readers
o   Leisure readers
o   Fans

Writer’s tip: Visualize the target audience for each piece.

How To Burn Yourself Out
·         Writing as a chore rather than a labor of love.

·         Rewriting/reformatting for Blog + Facebook + Twitter

·         Too narrow ideas of what to blog, leading to repetition and predictability.

·         Expectations over and above having fun.

Hosting Choice
1.   Blogger (Google)  ß Dick’s choice & experience
2.   Wordpress ß Very popular
3.   Others ß Fragmented & maybe insecure

Important Host Considerations
1.   Editing/submission
a.   Email submission (such as via SSB radio)
b.   WYSIWYG, scheduled date/time, save drafts
c.      Supports pictures/videos
2.   Allow comments
a.   Spam filter
b.   No approval needed
3.   Templates/desktop-mobile templates
4.   Statistics and reports
5.   Gadgets
a.   Polls, lists, follow email,     popular, search, archive, …
6.   Archive/backup
a.   Export/import   (migrate hosts)
b.   Export to book.
c.       Save your own backups
7.   Security & Attack immunity

Unimportant Ideas/Bad Ideas
1.   Your own domain name
2.   DIY hosting
3.   Web site rather than blog
4.   Time invested in formatting text or pictures
5.   Hyperlink circles
6.   Non-original content
a.   Facebook/reddit/buzzfeed… zillion competitors
7.   Things you may regret
a.   Personal info
b.   Dear diary
c.      Complaints/insults
d.   Use of people’s full names
e.   If your grandchildren read it.
f.       If your post becomes a news item

Making a Book From Your Blog
Google “blogger book publisher”.  You will find numerous sites that do it at a reasonable price and with minimal work.

Length of the book is critical. 
·         150 pages is optimal
· crashes all know blog-to-book tools because of far too many pages.
·         Separating the wheat from the chaff may be your biggest challenge.
Beware! Spelling and grammar standards are higher for books than for blogs.
Making Kindle Books is also easy

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Working The Seafood Festival

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

As a rule, we eschew festivals and boat shows of all kinds.  An exception is the Marathon Seafood Festival.  The festival is held in the park right next to the marina.   Every year they seek volunteers for various tasks.  We enjoy doing it.  The nice t-shirts identify volunteers and give us free entrance.

This year, we were assigned work at one of the food stands.  Libby took orders and I took money.  Man, I never saw so many lobsters and $20 bills before in my life.  In three hours, I estimate we served 300 people, and I handled perhaps $4000.   We were one of four identical stations in one of a half dozen concession tents.   Lots of food, lots of money, lots of fun.

Friday, March 07, 2014

How To Get A Sailor's Attention

Boot Key Harbor, Marsthon, Florida


When a sailor looks to the sky and sees something like this, it gets his instant rapt attention. The picture above was taken by Sharon Thompson on a boat very close to us.

In this case, the weather behind the front turned out to be less than scary. First rain we've had here in nearly a month.

Much scarier was the storm that hit Sydney, Australia a few days ago, see below. The picture at the bottom was said to be taken from the Sydney Harbor Ferry a few minutes later.


None of these pictures are mine.


Thursday, March 06, 2014

9th Anniversary

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

Nine years ago today, we took posession of Tarwathie and began this blog. Thank you thank you for all the well wishes.

Certainly, the ninth year has been the most out-of-character of all the years. We wintered in New Bern, NC and then we spent five months touring the country by car And tent. That was fun but we are grateful to be back home onboard again.

So, what profound things can we say on this anniversary? I think I'll wait until the 10th next year to address that. For now, suffice it to say that the past nine years have been among the best years of our lives. We are very happy with our life style choice.


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Future Shock

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

When we started cruising in 2005, we had a cell phone and a laptop. To post a blog, I had to find a library or some other place with Internet access. We had no wifi.

Before the year ended, we made a big investment ($1500) in a pactor modem that connected the laptop to the SSB radio. That allowed us to do email and blogging on board the boat, even while at sea.

At some point, we got a new laptop with wifi. That was a major improvement. Then we could stop the boat outside someone's home and use their wifi. In those days fewer homeowners knew how to put a password on their wifi. I invented a word "snagging" to describe finding someone's unprotected wifi to use.

Soon after we had a wifi booster antenna, then another, then another, then another. None lasted very long, and none delivered more than small improvements.

Anyhow, I became adept at finding and using wifi in strange spots. More than once you could find me in some public place with a blanked over my head trying to use the computer with someone's wifi out in the bright sun.

At some point, I guess 2007, we bought a Sirius Sattelite Radio. It became our major source of news and entertainment on board the boat. The quality of the signal was perfect, no matter what our location. It worked in the USA and in The Bahamas. We could even listen to one program while recording another. But eventually, Sirius dropped one favorite info channel after another until we got dropped the service (you see we almost never listened to the Sirius music or entertainment channels).

But then we got our first smart phone. It was great. We could do email and read news without the computer.

In 2009 we bought a portable inch DVD player. It plays for 6 hours on a single charge which is great. We use it to view DVDs borrowed from the library or from our small onboard DVD collection. Whe watching something, we quickly forget how small the screen is. That doesn't matter very much.

But then the smart phones became very much better. We found that we could use the phone as a modem with a USB connection to the laptop and watch entertainment from But after some time, Hulu blocked most of the free content.

Now, we still use the DVD player, but our staple is the combination of smart phone - wifi hotspot app - unlimited data plan from Verizon - iPad and Netflix. With that, we are able to dish up high quality entertainment whenever we want. In fact, I seldom have need to use anyone else's wifi hot spot any more. I also use the laptop PC less often, perhaps once per week.

FM radio remains a steady source. We like to listen to Morning Edition and All Things Considered on NPR. But whe we travel, the FM signal gets weak and scratchy. No problem, I just use my phone to listen to live radio.

I'm sure whatever we use today won't last forever. We use up to 21 GB of data per month. Eventually, Verizon will find a way to terminate my unlimited data plan. Then we will just have to find something else to use until that too becomes obsolete.

The really amazing part is that new technologies are born, thrive, die and are nearly forgotten in just a few years. The term "Future Shock" applies.


Monday, March 03, 2014

The Swinging Light Show

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

It is something familiar to all boaters. Sunlight streams in via a port window, or a hatch, or the companionway. The bright spot in the picture above is from the companionway. Then, the light spot pans left and right as the boat swings at anchor.

Sometimes it is entertaining. For example, when it hits the glass globe on our oil lamps, the refracted ray's form cool patterns and the patterns move all over.

Sometimes it is very annoying. The light shines in your eyes and it blinds you. In that case you move. The same thing happens in fixed structures too. The difference in a boat is that moving only spares your eyes for 10 seconds or less. Then you are forced to move again, and again, and again. Then you are motivated to use a shade in the offending port. But soon the boat swings enough that another port becomes the problem. Eventually, you wind up with almost all sources of light blocked.

The other day I took and afternoon nap and I woke up with a sunburn on the small of my back. As I slept, the boat swung to just the right angle to illuminate that spot.

The point is that we become so accustomed to this behavior that we forget about it. Boats swing, so what? I wouldn't mention it at all except that yesterday we did a video call with a friend. Almost immediately, the caller surprised me with the question, "is your boat swinging at anchor?" He noticed the moving bright spots in the background instantly.


Saturday, March 01, 2014

Most Fascinating Story

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

I am stunned. I just read an article in today's Guardian that blew me away. I has to do with the master key to the whole Internet. Granted I'm a techno geek, but even if you aren't I'm sure this story will impress you too. Compare it to James Bond, Star Trek, Kafka, George Orwell, The Matrix, and Catch 22, all mixed together. But this story is not fiction; it is real.

Read the story here.

It is a must read.

By the way, the I the resting part is not the nature of the secret being protected. Rather it is that all cyber security ultimately depends on trust, not technology. The article illustrates what is necessary to gain trust.