Friday, January 21, 2011

ABANDON SHIP: The Sinking of the SV Concordia

A great article on the upcoming documentary:

File photo from

It always breaks my heart to hear of a ship that has gone down.  Even more so when it is a youth training vessel.  Thank God all 64 on board were rescued.

There is a sadness that seeps into every recess and dark corner of my being - to slip below those cold blue waters without trace - only our memories and photos let us know that such beauty existed.  

Into the depths ~ Goodbye

Some beautiful photos by eastcoastfocus on Flickr:

Another blog on the sinking of the SV Concordia and the rescue of all 64 passengers and crew

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our President - Atheist or Homosexual?

A friend came to me the other day and asked me, “If Americans had to vote between two presidential candidates and one was an atheist and the other homosexual, who do you think would win?” Yeah. That’s the kind of friends i have. Gosh, i don’t know. People are in an uproar about their astrological signs and horoscopes changing. I’m not sure, if the scenario ever came to bear, if American’s could handle this sort of mental pressure.

The question assumes that there would be an outraged divide. On one hand, the Atheist would anger the Christian and religious majority outright. This country was founded on “in God we trust.” We’ll have no atheist running it! But wait, did i miss something? Didn’t we, in the creation of this United States, separate church from state? With good reason. Religion is philosophy for the soul. Running a country is business. Maybe an atheist would focus on the National Debt and foreign policies without religious intolerance to get in the way – just business straight up. If you’re tut-tutting this with emotional indignity – you are assuming that a religious candidate would believe in the same God that you believe in. And from the many wars over religions, there seem to be a lot of different Gods out there.

The question also assumes that the Homosexual is religious and believes in God. That said, many religious groups would still be outraged because they believe homosexuality is against God. Uh, so who created the homosexual anyway? Oh – that would be the Devil. I didn’t know the Devil was capable of Creation. Right. Then there’s a second group of slightly masochist and fearful folk who intentionally repulse themselves by envisioning same-sex acts. I mean really, if you are grossed out that means you had to “go there” to be grossed out. Yes? But there’s a lot of stuff about sex that is gross even between heterosexuals. None of which i care to think about. Come on. Do you dwell on your parents having sex? Gah! You just don’t go there. It’s a “don’t ask, don’t tell” scenario. And really, why do we need to involve sex with running the country? Is heterosexual activity a pre-requisite for balancing a budget? For going to war?

What we’re afraid of is that what the president believes, so goes the country. Because we believe humans will support their passion, despite the fact that the president is supposed to be “above it all” and do what is best for all the people of the United States and not just some of them. And being atheist or homosexual is different than what most of us have experienced. We are afraid of different. That has been a serious problem for us since the beginning of time.

But let’s go back to the original question. If, and that’s a big if, two candidates were nominated, one atheist and one homosexual, would we not be a better country than we are now? Candidates just don’t pop out from nowhere and unheard of. They would have had to trudge the political ladder to popularity. We would know them – and would have supported them on their road to the Oval Office. We, the People, would be different. We would have changed. For the better, i think. We would have learned to see past our differences, past our prejudices, and past our fears. And perhaps for once, the job of presidency would be about running the country. If it were real…

And one day later, as if they knew i made this post, this comes across the Internet: "New Governor, Non-Christians not my brother, not my sister..."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Computer vs. Paper

I love technology. Looking at new gadgets. Seeing the possibilities of our future. I spend a lot of time on my computer and the Internet. Mostly for editing, writing, and research but sometimes for just good ole time-wasting fun like games and social networking. So i’m no stranger to the computer and certainly not one to blame the World’s problems on computer usage. But there are times when i crave paper because some things, darn it, just don’t relate well on a computer. Like doodling. You can’t doodle on a computer. Or write notes in the margin. Or draw a heart around the name of someone you love. All those bits and bytes tend to make computers rather straightforward and business-like. They don’t lend themselves well to messiness. They’re neat, clean, and orderly – and that never varies. It’s like a sunny, blue sky, seventy-five degree day – 375 days a year. Sigh. I rather like the seasons. And paper. It’s evocative to write on paper. On a computer i feel compelled to write in perfect sentences and complete thoughts. If it’s wrong - DELELTE. But on paper, i ramble. I scribble. It’s as if i catch the thought just as it emerges, before it becomes structured logic. It’s raw. Like a drop of water. Before it drips. Writing on paper allows me to drift and wander. And there’s something about putting thought to paper that makes me loath to throw it away. I might scratch through a word or line, but seldom do i ever throw a sheet of my ramblings away, embarrassing as some of it is. I’m loath because there is some little part of me in all those squiggly lines and dots. They represent a part of my essence. A glimpse of who i am. On a computer, you never touch the words. They are physically separate from you. Oh sure. Your fingers may strike the keys, but it is the computer which puts the words on the screen. We are disassociated physically from the writing.

I love the smell of paper. Yes i know. An environmental hazard – all those bleaches and chemicals. But i touch a tree every time i write, a beautiful pine that grew in the Sun and Rain. So when i run my hand over this smooth, white surface – i think – pine forest. And the action of writing. Oh – to have a really fine pen whose ink flows smooth like cream. That is sensational, a pleasure, and something like magic. Have you ever focused as you write? Watched your hand move the point of the pen till it contacts the white surface of the paper? Your mind registers a thought, your hand moves, pen’s ink flows. Magical!

Some people may look at their handwriting and find fault – but it is our character that comes through in our writing. We want to think that we are perfect; the reality is – we’re not. But we are beautiful in our mistakes. So i keep writing. Pen to paper. Lovely.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Peacemaker

Port of Pensacola, FL

Sailing the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico is a three-masted beauty called the Peacemaker. She’s a very unique ship though, i dare say, most traditional sailing vessels have an interesting history. While visiting Pensacola, Florida for the holidays, i had the opportunity to go aboard. It was her first visit to the city and i am so pleased they made this one of their ports of call.

Wooden ships are lovely. No matter how you look at it – even if you don’t give a whistle for ships – seeing this great Lady is a joy. You don’t often, in these days of manufactured goods, see craftsmanship like this. The hull is made of a wonderful Brazilian wood called ipe (aka “ironwood”), a tough weather-resistant wood, while much of the interior is luscious mahogany that has been lovingly polished to a cheery sheen. Ah – just the name mahogany makes me feel warm and cozy. Walking the decks or walking a passageway, i couldn’t help but to run my hands along the wooden planks, smooth as glass. Nice!

Detail of Deck Railing

The building history of this ship is interesting. Built in 1986 and launched in 1989 by a Brazilian named Frank Walker, the plans were to sail with his family then charter the ship in the Caribbean. But then life happened and the Walkers ended up selling her in 2000 to the group that currently sails her. And that’s where it gets really intriguing. The organization that runs the ship is a religious group called the Twelve Tribes. I had never heard of them. I soon discovered their grassroots, back-to-simplicity, and devotion to God to be a perfect complement to sailing. Working a ship this size tests your mettle. Following your beliefs and culture, especially in today’s jet-set world, tests your resolve. What better way to bring community, camaraderie, seamanship, and religious vision together than under the lofty sails of a traditional sailing ship?

I’m no expert on the matter, but this is the first i’m aware of a religious group owning and operating, as a community, a non-passenger sailing vessel. And i was impressed. Certainly with the ship, and most definitely with the people. They were friendly and easy to talk to. And good cooks! Well, they don’t sell meals to non-crew, but what i smelled cooking in the galley made my mouth water so it smelled like they were good cooks! They have a restaurant on the West Coast called the Yellow Deli in Vista, CA. If i ever go there, i will be sure to look them up. All cooking aside, there was something else about them that caught my attention – their sense of calm. That’s not a description i use for many folks. Most people are in too much of a hurry. Too much into drama. Too much into themselves to see or hear others. They were not like that. Or that is the impression they left me. Calm. It was a good feeling. I liked them and the ship so much that i came back for a second tour with my father. And then, on New Year’s Eve at the downtown celebration, i ran into a group of them again. I spoke only to one of them, their engineer; he was very open and full of smiles. And once again i got the feeling of great calmness.

So if you live in a port city in the Eastern US, take a look on the horizon. Maybe a brigantine by the name of Peacemaker is sailing her way to you.

Peacemaker website: (note their itinerary)

A Very Homey Ship!
No Doubt, You Have to Know Your Lines

Captain's Wheel
 Lovely, Lovely Mahognany

View Off the Stern

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Another Year - 2011

Aaaahhhh! Another year gone by. Another year older. Supposedly another year smarter but that’s a rather dubious claim. I’ve been away for twelve days which seems like an eternity when you have the itch to write. I chose to spend the time with my parents rather than at the library posting blogs (they don’t have a computer and i don’t have a laptop). But just because i was away, doesn’t mean that my brain stopped writing. Now i have to post because it’s getting rather crowded in here.

So back to the New Year and a shout out to friends in Pensacola, Florida. Thanks to facebook, i’ve reconnected with people i should have never let out of my life. Susan and Loz – you guys are just awesome! Years may have gone by, but we haven’t lost our touch in mind-melding conversation. Do you know what i’m talking about here? Have you ever run into an old friend that you haven’t seen in years yet the two of you strike up a conversation as if time had not put a grey hair between you? Weird and beautiful. The definition of a real friend.

I haven’t been out for a New Year’s celebration in ages but Susan talked me into it (just like she always did). In Pensacola we don’t have a ball drop to begin the New Year, oh no. We have a pelican. A 13 foot tall, 17 foot wing-span, silver feathered, lighted pelican. How could i say no to that? So i went to the party under threatening clouds and tornado warnings. We managed to get a round of beer from a very stressed out bartender – i have no idea how she remembered every order people yelled at her – and we headed out to the streets where the bands were rockin’ the stage and people were buzzing with that strange apprehensive energy they get before something big is about to happen. We were just getting into our suds when we spotted a guy in a kilt. Susan and i both moaned how we liked men in kilts (yes, it’s true) and i turned to her and said, “i luv pipers.” In a blink and with our best Scottish accent, “We’ve got a piper down!” That’s a quote from a B-rated movie that came out long after we had parted ways. That we would both pick the same quote and speak it at the same time attests to our laugh-chemistry. So it was a great night. Despite the fact that “New Year’s” is really just another tick of the clock. Just another moment in a long string of moments and the only thing that makes it unique is that we decide to wear silly hats, blow loud horns, toss confetti, drink too much, act stupid, and watch a lighted pelican drop from a crane. Any excuse for a party.
 I appoligized for the piss-poor quality of these photos, but it was one night that i didn't want to bring my camera - so my phone was the next best thing...!