Tags: pictures

Here's Matt!

A letter or something.

Dear world.

There are a lot of things to be afraid of right now. The entire Middle East is boiling, like ant-hives poured one into another, and it's spreading at an alarming rate. Iran has warships in the Suez Canal. As of today, the Somali pirates are holding at least 33 ships and 712 hostages. Last year, they collected ransoms for more than a thousand, the country's only income. TSA, the folk responsible for keeping our airways safe, are being shown up as frauds and thieves every day. Gas prices in the US will hit four dollars a gallon again this summer. Unemployment in the US is recovering, but the dollar is not. It is now a lie to call our President the leader of the free world. That same President has made no move to repeal the abominable Patriot Act. A state in the Union is about to pass a revision to a law that would, in effect, make it legal to kill a doctor who performs abortions. A huge number of American citizens don't have the right to marry who they love, adopt children with that loved one, or hold them as they die. A celebrity who tortured dogs to death and another who raped a young woman are being paid thousands of times more than any teacher just to catch a ball.

It is so hard, right now, to be only one person when you ache to rouse those around you, all of them, to these outrages.

I meant to finish this post with the beautiful things, the things that make this world still worth living in, but it felt like an insult. I can't point to one good, beautiful thing and say, 'This. This weighs against rape or murder or corruption in the karmic balance of the world.' But they add up. They do not erase the bad. But they are the reasons why we have to fight the bad. "To take arms against a sea of trouble, and by opposing end them," to take one of those good, beautiful things out of context.

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One voice.
Here's Matt!

Week 12: Sincerest Form of Flattery

The Lady Washington that I served aboard is made of tar and iron and fir and oak, but she is not a relic of the 18th century. She's a replica. Most tall ships still sailing these days are: The Lady, the Bounty (All three of them), or the HMS Surprise; all replicas of one sort or another.

The original Lady Washington was built around the 1750s, in Boston, at the time a British colony. There's no knowing what name she was given first - those proto-Americans kept horrible records. But in the course of the American Revolution, she was re-Christianed, despite the renaming of a ship being bad luck. But there was a war on. These things slip through the cracks.

Whether or not she was involved in the war, we don't know. I kind of doubt it. There is a Letter of Marque from the time for a ship named the Lady Washington, of her approximate size, but 'our' Lady Washington was a squat little thing, built wide and round to hold as much cargo as possible, and not the sort of ship to be privateering up and down the coast. In all likelihood, the only guns she boasted were a pair of six-pounders and a stern swivel or two to scare off small boats of nefarious intent, all four manned by only one gunner among her twelve-man crew.

Bos'un-gunner Sara touches off the starboard gun in its usual roar of flame and
smoke. Poor Sara, everyone else in the picture is wearing rain gear, but she's in
period-appropriate wool, kneeling on a rain-slick deck. Now that's dedication.
(Picture credited to Alabama Holman, the "Pixie Pirate.")

Our replica doesn't have six-pounders, but we do have a pair of threes, which throw up a fine enough blast, especially when you can echo it off stone walls or the glass faces of buildings. Prefabricated warehouses, also, toss back a perfect reverberation. We don't load shot, of course, not even for our ferocious battles with the Hawaiian Chieftain. (Not even when they fling moldy bread.) We judge whether or not a shot was true by the echo off her steel hull. You can really hear a good shot; the report comes right back to you, sharp and clear.
The battles were, in many ways, the best part of the job. Frantic and ponderous all at once, we put our two ships, nearly 300 tons between the pair of them, through their paces, spinning them around each other by changing sails, stealing one another's wind. Our captain's favorite move was box-hauling the spars, putting them at right angles to one another to effectively stop the Lady in her tracks. Chieftain, hot on our quarter, would be forced to fly right past, and all we had to do was swivel towards the wind to not only take a good shot at her stern, but take the weather-gage.

On the left, the Lady Washington heading towards the camera, and on the right, the Hawaiian
Chieftain in profile, approaching a buoy in very, very crowded Lake Union, Seattle. That little
electric boat in front of the Chieftain harassed her every time we went out to fight.

In a good three-hour battle, each ship would fire twelve to twenty shots, generally in twos (Although the Chieftain, with her modern deck layout and enormous bos'un and mate, could occasionally muscle all four of her guns down to her main deck to rake us with a broadside of four), wind depending. On a calm day, we might sit with our sails slack most of that time, trying to entertain three dozen passengers, all asking why our battle isn't more like the broadside-to-broadside cinematic fights of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Well, that's a movie, folks. At sea, real battle was slow. Two ships on the open ocean might take days, even weeks maneuvering for the perfect position. A chase could take you halfway from the coast of Spain to Brazil before you'd get close enough for a single shot. Very, very good gun crews might shoot three rounds in five minutes, but the wind was everything. And you didn't want to be shooting them while leaving your boat where they could shoot you back. You wanted to fire with your boats at right angles, either into their bow to take down spars and crew, or up their transom and hopefully destroy their rudder, their means of steering. Either one meant a disabled ship, with the right shot. Firing into their broadside, the best you could hope to do was kill a few crew and maybe destroy a gun, or maybe sink their ship, your valuable prize.

That's me, in my period costume and not-period (not flattering) safety harness, watching
the Chieftain try to take for position across Bellingham Bay. If I remember right, this
was a nearly perfect sail, sunny with a moderate breeze. Just look at those waves.
(The Lady won, of course.)

So our battles are not as exhilarating as they could be. We don't board, we don't damage, we shout friendly invective. ("Rufio! Rufio!" always gets a response, in the same cadence, of "Movie quotes! Movie quotes!") But we have three hours, not three weeks, before we have to set our spectators back on dull dry land. We want to give them a little taste, just a flavor of something real in our imitation.

[This post was written for [info]therealljidol  Week 12, and is part of a series of entries looking back at the time I spent last year on the Lady Washington. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and please come back for more. I also delight in explaining terms, so please ask away. Thank you for being here.]
G is for Grue


So, baby shower last Sunday. Was kind of cool. Nice to see people donating time and money-in-the-form-of-gifts to support a mom-to-be. I'm not sure if the sprog is going to be my second cousin or my first cousin once removed or something like that. He's my dad's brother's son's son. I can call him that, right? He's going to be huge. And I will buy him squeaky toys and take him hiking and sailing. He's due this coming Tuesday, and tomorrow, I'm going to go have dinner with my cousin and his wife. Who knows, maybe I'll get to witness the miracle of birth in the movie theater.


What'll it mean for the boy's psyche if he's born during a late showing of Angels and Demons?

Other than that, I... um... drew a Grue.

(You all knew I can't draw, right? I can't draw. Grues are not saucy centaurs.)

Here's Matt!

Power Line BBQ Cache.

So, I got home from work and there was this email waiting for me. New cache, it said! Oh noes, but it'd been sitting there for four hours, while I wasted my time selling things. But I checked the page, and it didn't look like anyone had found it... and it was a weekday, in the middle of a rather chilly day...  Maybe they were all at work! So maybe, just maybe, I could sneak out and brave the potential rain and be first! So I raced out, in my trusty TARDIS, and with only my GPS and the directions of a pizza guy who I lucked into at a red light, I zoomed off to find it!

The trail is beautiful. It's been a while since I've gone for caches more involved than a park-n-grab, so I hoped I'd be up to it. No problem. Even the mud just made the walk easier on my legs. I had on some great music, all stuff my parents might have listened to (though I doubt it. They were never that cool. :p ), and the woods were calm and quiet, once I left the doggy area.

Getting there, I was going for speed. I couldn't hear anyone behind me or ahead, but I wanted that FTF, I really did. So when I found "A Walk in the Woods," entirely by accident, I passed straight by. And I didn't take pictures of the beautiful arrangements of stones on the mossy stumps, or the dramatic view further along. I was goal-oriented and fearless, and having a blast! I sang to myself, whistled, had all the fun solitude has to offer, and then I found the cache.

Kudos to the hider, it's a great cache, and the location was perfect. Just a bit of challenge to the find, but nothing even approaching impossible, once I slowed down and applied logic.

I wasn't first, I was second, but STF* is nothing to sneeze at, and I'm still very grateful for this cache, and for the California coin. In return, I left some batteries for anyone who might need some extra energy.

I strolled back, picking up everything I'd missed in my rush out. I turned the music down, let the sounds of the forest fill the space, and brought out my camera. The light was perfect for pictures of those tiny stacked stones, rather zen and shadowless, and the deep, water-breathing green of the woods made me want to take as many as I could, to take them home and line my white walls. Now, I took time to log "Walk in the Woods," and startled a jogger when I stood up from it. Neither of us had heard the other coming, him with his dog and me with my Manfred Mann. But no harm done, just a jump, a laugh, and a wave, and we were past one another.

On my way out, I eyed every other person in the parking lot to see if they had a GPS.

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*Second to Find