Finding Richard at

Which way did he go? Where has he been? Where is he headed? So many questions . . ..

At the Peak of Our Development, are We  Starting to Devolve?


January 31, 2018

The Sum of All Fears

Being a voracious reader on a limited budget, I read a lot of e-books these days.  The current state of English grammar – or the lack thereof – is troubling to me.  The occasional usage error, misspelling, or misplaced comma doesn’t bother me that much.  But . . .  I’m currently reading a very good space opera wherein it is very apparent that proofreading was skipped on several chapters.  In most chapters the prose is faultless. But, in those other chapters, the text will flow well for a while only to be interrupted. By sentence fragments. Strung together with periods. And sentence capitalizations. Like a grammar checker. Went mad.  It’s kind of like. Listening to William Shatner. As Captain James T. Kirk.

In my careers in police work and computer systems there was one hard & fast rule for writing:

Always have someone else read and critique what you have written before you consider it done.

Trust me, I’m not innocent of the very sins I’m accusing this young author of committing.  Being an ADDer, I often think – and write – in choppy fragments.  I also have usage issues, and often transpose so badly you’d swear that I never learned to spell at all.

If you absolutely have no one who can proofread your work for you, take a break, go for a walk — or something.  Just put your project down for an hour, or two.  Do something that will take your mind off of your writing project for a while.  Then, sit down and proofread it yourself.  You’ll be looking at it with fresh eyes.

Having over 30 years in the Information Technology industry, I sometimes wonder at how beneficial the technology I’ve been evangelizing for decades really is.  Have we acolytes of the realms digital done our fellow humans a grave disservice?   Texting, tweeting, e-mailing, Facebooking, and what-have-you appear to be killing the English language.

What’s the cure?  Write. Do a blog. Join an online writing group.  Take a writing class.  Do anything that involves writing other than e-mail, Facebook, tweeting, texting, or IM’ing.

Oh, yeah.  Get yourself some paper and a pen and write by hand, as well. You’d be surprised how quickly your handwriting will suffer if you don’t use it regularly.

Just my rambling thoughts on the state of the written language.


Current Events & Navel Lint

Wondering if life will ever get simple .  .  . It has been months since I touched this blog — which was supposed to be a regularly updated journal of thoughts and a record of things I’ve been doing.

Currently, I’m reading “One Second After,” which is about an EMP strike on these United States.   It is the first in a three-book series by Ph.D. historian William R. Forstchen, with a foreword by Newt Gingrich.  You could call it science fiction, or you could call it a future history, but whatever you call it, it is a dramatization of an all-too-real scenario for how civilization on this continent could end.  Pop a nuke at the edge of space above Kansas City and <*Poof!*> “Goodbye 21st Century, hello 5th Century!”  NOTHING that relies on any kind of battery, integrated circuit, transformer, capacitor, or transistor will be functional unless it’s in a Faraday cage at the time of the event.  The power grids in the U.S.A., Canada, and at least the Northern half of Mexico will all be toast — for years — IF we get the chance to repair them.

Of course, a large Coronal Mass Ejection from our own Sun could do the job — probably more efficiently than any man-made effort.

Do you have a well with a manual pump? (Our state just made drilling a residential water well illegal.  Collecting rainwater has been illegal for several years. Das Stadt owns all the water.)

Can you raise and preserve your own food without the aid of mechanical and electrical devices?

Can you heat your home without the aid of grid power & gas?

Nope, me neither.

You may want to review this timeline of the Dark Ages, just to get a handle on the time span we might be looking at for our children to regain the light of civilization.

If you want more information on the hazards of an EMP attack, check the book’s site: One Second After

So, our state is going through another round of drills for a Cascadia Subduction Zone quake.  That will be a 9.0 – 10+ event that will last five minutes or longer. Emergency managers have finally decided that a 3-day kit will not be enough for people who live in the urban areas of Puget Sound and are now recommending a 14-day kit. For those of us out here in the hinterlands, we’ll most likely be on our own for 30 days or longer. Many small communities have no disaster plan or preparations at all. <<*CRINGE!*>>  Low-lying coastal areas will be toast – of course – due to tsunami inundation.

Now, I’m reviewing what non-power tools we have on hand and putting together a plan for what we might need.

Life will be simple in Heaven, right?

** Updates **

Thought I’d include a couple links to articles I’ve stored in EverNote Web as resources for a TEOTWAKI-class event:

Umm . . . Should I mention that you’ll need to print copies of these articles for offline use?




Richard Weeks – Making this world a better place is a DIY project:…

This extends far beyond the campground.  To paraphrase Mother Teresa:  Do what you can, with what you have, right where you are at — instead of expecting government, the church, a billionaire, or anyone else to fix things.

Chasing Whales

Spent the last week of April and the first week of this month chasing after Biggs Killer Whales in Hammersley Inlet and Oakland Bay.  Biggs Killer Whales are a species sub-type of Orcas.  Orcas prefer salmon as their diet, while the Biggs prefer to feast on marine mammals such as otters and sea lions. Biggs-Outbound-Backflip-050617

This transient pod of Biggs Killer Whales had an adult male, two or three adult females and several juveniles.  They were basically cruising the various channels and inlets of the South Puget Sound hunting.  T-67 (The designation given to this Biggs pod.) consistently arrived in Hammersley Inlet and Oakland Bay just before sunset, which made photography challenging.  (I apologize for the motion blur on the photos, part of it was the lack of light, part of if was the whales taking me by surprise when they breached.) It was still exciting to watch them breaching and hunting in such close quarters.   I’m sure they significantly reduced the surplus populations of California Sea Lions that have been hanging out in the South Sound.  The native salmon runs may show some recovery, thanks to their efforts.

I don’t know who was more excited about the Orcas — they boys or Brenda & I. Brenda had never experienced Orcas in the wild before, and it had been over four decades since I had experienced them wild & free.  I much prefer to see them that way than at a marine park.

If you want more information on the Orcas of the Puget Sound and the Salish Sea, there are multiple sources:

Where DID 2016 Go??

Here I sit, New Year’s Eve 2016, pondering the past year.

Seems to have just passed with a *Whoosh!*

Didn’t really take a vacation.

Took a few long weekends, took some time when Brother Bob came up from Nevada, and some more when Daughter Jen came out from Kansas, but that’s about it.

A couple family members crossed over.  I don’t deal with that situation at all well, so I’m going to pull a “Forrest Gump” and say “And, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.” 

Got all the materials for the Puddle Duck Racers, but didn’t get any progress made on them.  Want to get them done while the boys are still at home.   Also want to try my hand at an Open Goose, which is the 12′ version. Something that me & the boys can throw on the truck and go lake fishing from.

Got just about two more years to work before I can retire at full benefit. Don’t know what I’m going to do from that point.  Probably get a part-time job to fill out the retirement until I can draw Social Security 4/5 years down the road.  Would like to work with other vets, or other seniors, or something.

Dug out some beef short ribs and have them braising on the stove to make stew from.  Boys think they smell pretty good.  Better take a break and go add the rest of the veg . . .

Happy New Year to all!



Another Year — Almost Gone

Wow!  Where did 2016 go?

My wife is still beautiful.

One son moved to the country and became a ranch hand.

My daughter moved to Texas.

Another son is attempting to get his adult life launched in the retail arena.

The two still at home keep growing at an alarming rate.

And, the dogs & me keep getting older . . .


This is a NEED-to-read article!

Spotted an article titled “Our Schools Are Committing Civilizational Suicide” at Intellectual Takeout in my Facebook feed.  Very good article.  Anyone who has children who are coming up — or who cares about the world we will leave the coming generations, needs to read this article — and then think about it seriously.  Are we creating generations with little or no sense of their own heritage?  Are we just creating fodder for the multi-national corporations?  People with elastic morals and ethics?

VIDEO: So, You Think You Can Navigate?

A video shared by Scuttlebutt Sailing News that shows a Kragerøterne dinghy weaving within the rocky inlets of Kragerø, Norway.  Apparently, they fleet race these boats through these rocks too:

Drone’s eye view

The view from in the boat

If I ever get close to be that good at handling a small boat under sail, I’ll be thrilled.


How do You Deal With Death?

It’s a question that I’ve asked myself most of my life.  I’m the youngest son of a youngest son of a youngest son.  So, I was kind of born into a life where Death visits frequently.  Compounding the situation is that the generations tend to get spread out in my family.  My parents were in their 40s when I was born.  My oldest brother took a day off work to come and got Mom & I from the hospital, because my Dad had been hurt in an accident at work and couldn’t drive.

There’s nineteen years between my oldest brother, Lee, and me.  Conversely, there’s 26 27 years between my oldest son’s birthday and his youngest brother’s. (Thanks for the math assistance Jen! =:) )

I never met either of my grandmothers, and only have fleeting memories of my grandfathers.  When my grandfathers passed, there were a few years of respite.  Then, I started losing uncles & aunts.  I’ve also lost cousins and nephews & a niece.

You’d think – by now – that losing people I love would be old-hat, right?  Nope. Not even close.  I’m considered by most to be a big & fairly burly guy, and, I’m still fit enough to drag myself up a steep hiking trail with a 50 lb. pack on my back (Granted: I take more rest breaks than I did at 45.), but I still have tears running down my face at funerals, and my family has learned to not let me try to speak at them.  People tend to think you’ve extended the wake when you’re sobbing into a microphone.

I’m a Christian, so I know that I will see them all again.  Yet, I’m totally unmanned when it comes to dealing with the death of people I care about.

John-O accompanied me to the memorial for an old friend and mentor this past weekend, and he asked me how you deal with the death of someone close to you?  I had to be honest and tell him I never have figured that out . . .


How Safe Are Boating Safety Harnesses? *Updated*

Spotted an article from an English boating magazine that attempts to answer a very important question for early-season boaters:

Is it REALLY safer to be tied to your boat?

Practical Boat Owner magazine in England did some informal testing of safety harnesses and tethers under rough water conditions following the drowning of a racing captain during an offshore race.  While the captain went overboard wearing both a life jacket and a tethered safety harness, and the crew immediately started recovery operations, he drowned before they were able to recover him.

There have been several similar incidents in British waters over the past couple years, so PBO decided to have their gear test team do some realistic testing using a MOB (Man OverBoard) dummy and a 38 ft racing/cruising sailboat in a fresh wind and choppy seaway.

Their findings were:

  • If sea conditions or safety considerations are such that you need to wear a tether — make it a short one.
    • No more than 800mm (~32-inches)
    • You want the tether to keep you on deck — or at least to keep your head and upper torso out of the water.
    • If someone goes overboard while tethered, you need to stop the boat ASAP.
      • Any speed over three knots is EXTREMELY dangerous to the person in the water.
        • On a long tether, there is serious danger of the casualty being drug underwater like a diving fishing lure.
        • On a short tether, there’s danger that the casualty’s body will be battered against the hull.
      • For solo/shorthanded voyages, may need to rig a “deadman” release on the main & head sails.  Being in the water and watching your boat sail away without you has got to be a really bad feeling.
        • This is a place where a yawl or ketch rig could shine.  If you could have a release on the main and headsail sheets, the mizzen would cause her to point her nose right into the wind — if you were running close-hauled.
        • This is also why dinghy sailors do not cleat down/tie off their sheets.  If they go overboard, they want the sheet to run free through the blocks, allowing the dinghy to heave-to by herself.
          • Solo dinghy sailors sometimes rig a line to the masthead with an eye splice that they put over their hand, so they can pull her over on her side if they fall in.
  • Recovery – even with multiple crew members working on it – is a problem.
    • Most effective method they found – on a crewed sailboat in a seaway – was to use a spare headsail halyard clipped into the safety tether clip to hoist the casualty back on board.
      • On a trawler-type motor-yacht, you could use the tender davit and winch to lift a heavy casualty out of the water.  (It doesn’t have to be big fella – like me – to be an unwieldy burden to lift out of the water.  Especially if he’s unconscious and/or has been in the water long enough to be suffering hypothermia.)
    • On a motor vessel, you would need to consider where you would want to mount a boarding ladder, so as to keep the casualty completely clear of the stern and propeller(s).
      • Want one on both sides, so the MOB doesn’t have to try to maneuver around a bobbing bow or stern (and turning propellers) in a chop.  Having a few tons of boat come down on your head will definitely ruin your day.  At that point, getting chewed up in the props is pretty much just adding insult to injury.
    • UPDATE:

      Yachting magazine published the portion of the results that pertain to MOB recovery to a motor yacht in a seaway.  They confirmed my assumptions that leading the casualty to the stern would be a bad choice.

      • Yachting also profiled the use of the Markus Rescue Net, a Finnish invention made of heavy webbing (
        • The Finnish have determined through their ocean rescue experience that it is better to hoist a casualty suffering hypothermia in the horizontal position — which inspired the development of the Markus Rescue Net.
      • US Sailing posted an in-depth report on the man overboard recovery testing that lists the data developed during the testing — for those who want the detailed facts & figures from the testing.
    • Solo/short-handed sailors definitely want a boarding ladder they can get to once the boat heaves to.  A fold-down that can be reached from the water on the stern may fill the bill. Let a line trail from it if it’s not reachable from the water when the boat is in a seaway.  Your life may depend on being able to get yourself back aboard.
      • My thoughts on boarding a pitching motor yacht over the stern in a seaway apply equally to sailboats – especially the lighter racer-cruisers.  It all depends on the boat’s motion in rough water.  May want to consider a rope ladder amidships that you can roll up and tie off with a rope that dangles far enough down the side to be reached from the water?  Getting bonked on the head with a few tons of sailboat can’t feel any better that getting thumped by a trawler’s swim platform . . .
    • Self-recovery appears to be problematic, and was something PBO did not test, as they were working with a dummy.
      • The author did recommend that anyone wearing a tether have a webbing cutter stored on their life vest, so they can free themselves from the tether, if necessary.

There was an incident up in the San Juan Islands like this when I was a kid.  They were a yachting couple who had never done a MOB drill.  He went over the side in rough weather while wearing a harness and life vest, and she tried to tow him to the beach.  She knew so little about operating the boat that she just ran it right up on the beach.  Unfortunately, he was dead long before they hit the beach.

A few thoughts in closing:

  1. Every person on the boat needs to at least know how to point her into the wind and bring her to a stop.  Once the way is off, you can work out how to get the casualty back on board.
  2. Whenever you choose to go into a hostile environment – and any marine environment is always at least potentially hostile to human life – you need to prepare for whatever incidents may occur.
  3. Sometimes, the only help that will be available is what you are able to provide.

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