Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy turkey tryptophan day!

From December 2008 in Laguna Vista, Los Ojos, New Mexico:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Quiet weekend in prospect?

Today (Friday), I helped teach a boating safety class at a lake about an hour from home and talked a bit about issues for rescuing sailboats on an inland lake. This weekend we should be staying close to home, with Carol Anne cranking out words for her novel.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sailors: Join or Die

With apologies to America's first cartoonist, Benjamin Franklin, I will argue that the scattered sailors of the southwest must unite to survive as a force that will be respected. Local communities, government officials and regulators, businesses, and legislators listen to groups that are united. Disunited groups will simply fail.

Secret J/Boat Speed Sailing Trick

This image that showed up in Sailing Anarchy (Simon, seems to show some sort of secret J/Boat sailing technique. Maybe some of the J/24 sailors we know can explain this trick -- it seems to have something to do with expanding the wetted surface and working waterline of a J/boat. Or does maybe it have something to do with modifying rudder response or fixing problems with a J/24 center of effort versus center of lateral resistance?

My Survey Answers... Rio Grande Sailing Club survey

Member Activities:
Which of the following events do you or would you participate in if held:
Buoy racing__X__
Organized cruises in other venues, using your boat__X__

Do you want the club to sponsor on-water events not listed above? If so, what events?:
___ On-the water race management, safety, and seamanship training

___ Race committee needs a reliable & suitable (low freeboard, high stability) motorboat to position marks and provide safety support

___ Funding for racing in 2010 was already cut significantly compared to 2007-2009 and to the amounts spent in the Adams and Mallory Cup years. Race funding need not be cut further. Race fees are in line if they can pay close to half of race costs. In fact, MORE should be spent on equipment and on training race committee volunteers to US Sailing standards, and on providing safety equipment and saving for a suitable (reliable, low freeboard, high stability) power boat to support racing.

Would you be willing to volunteer to help organize/run the events you indicated above? Yes __X___

Which of the following types of instruction would you participate in, if given?: Classroom sailing instruction__X__
On-water sail trim and shape clinic for your boat __X__
Sailing school (visiting instructors)__x
............... (advanced coastal cruising or higher level classes)_
Instructor certification classes __x_(keelboat preferred)

Do you think the club should have a clubhouse in Elephant Butte (similar to the facilities provided through the _____’s hospitality)? The clubhouse would provide, say, the basic kitchen/bathroom amenities, hostel-type accommodations, and a meeting/party area, in a central Elephant Butte location.
No____ Uncertain__x__ Yes_____

Not until club can obtain
--> 160 memberships
--> with membership open to all boats and all sailors
............... who support RGSC purposes,
--> $35,000 in savings,
--> $8,500 surplus per year,
--> has preferred-rate credit status,
--> has valid Internal Revenue Service
.............. non-profit organization determination,
--> is filing federal Form 990 Information Returns, and
--> is able to conduct regattas in full compliance
............... with US Sailing standards and with US Sailing-trained personnel.
Note that hostel-type accommodations may result in significant increase in insurance, licensing, regulatory, and other costs and would likely prevent a clubhouse from being built on public land at the state park.

If Uncertain or Yes to the above, how much would you be willing to be assessed for monthly costs of maintaining such a facility, or one similar to it, assuming a down payment could be made from club operations?
$10-$20__x___ (per month per membership)
___ Padre Island Yacht Club supports a marina and a two-story clubhouse with dues of $400 per year for full members and $100 per year for voting part-time members. With enough members and volunteer work to split and lower the cost, a smaller clubhouse on New Mexico state parks-land should cost much less.

Would you support the construction of an overnight mooring area or dock to be used with the clubhouse, if it were within walking distance to the clubhouse?:
No______ Yes______ If it were close by but not within walking distance?: No______ Yes______
___ x Yes if endorsed and supported by Lago del Rico ownership and able to be self-supporting within four years, and with an initial cost that could be supported within the annual budget without having to borrow any money.

If the club had such a facility, would you support a beach-based youth sailing program to be conducted from the facility for several weeks each year? No______ Yes______
___ x Yes if program publishes and enforces safety and program standards at least equal to those of Arizona Sailing Foundation/Community Sailing of Colorado with background checks and bonding of all instructors and annual cost to RGSC not to exceed $3,500 or 20% of club budget. Program must also be structured to require full parental involvement and support and must provide many opportunities for parents and family members to interact with the RGSC and be exposed to the benefits of membership.

Do you attend the club’s on-land social activities?:
Never______ Sometimes______ Frequently __x__

Do you want the club to sponsor other types of on-land events besides the current ones? If so, which types? ______________________________________________________________________________
Suggest safety, seamanship, race management, racing tips talks at socials in addition to the usual travelogues, also nice would be presentations by state parks & US Sailing personnel, visits by elite-level racers or elite coaches, visits by US Sailing-certified race management volunteers or area officers,

Are you happy with the club’s management?: Yes__X__

What could be done better? _______________________________________________________

Club needs arrangements to support reciprocal hospitality with other clubs – someone who is familiar with the reciprocity system and a good diplomat needs to be appointed to help with this.

Club needs to secure recognition of its non-profit status from the Internal Revenue Service – someone knowledgable needs to be appointed to execute this, perhaps under the supervision of the treasurer

Race committee members and volunteers need to be trained to US Sailing or generally recognized standards and do not have the equipment (particularly a suitable motorboat, but also communications and anchoring gear) to run regattas properly and provide support and assistance to boats

Club needs fleets and provision for welcoming power boaters, dinghy sailors, and owners of small multihulls as full club members.

Club needs a “safety officer” or “safety liaison” and lacks a way to communicate safety concerns between the club, state parks, CG auxiliary, and other groups, does not have a way to demonstrate that it is addressing safety issues with the state parks, insurers, and other groups, and is hence vulnerable to future “surprises”.

Club members would benefit from having an installed sump and hot-water pressure washer in the new mast-up lot.

Club would benefit from being associated with or sponsoring a 501(c)(3)-qualified foundation for conducting sailing and seamanship instruction

Club members would benefit from having club-owned dinghies to sail or “adopt” as is done in Arizona.

Raft-ups need to be supported, funded, scheduled, hosted.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Poetry Corner: The Hunting Song

by Tom Lehrer

I always will remember,
'Twas a year ago November,
I went out to hunt some deer
On a mornin' bright and clear.
I went and shot the maximum the game laws would allow,
Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow.

I was in no mood to trifle,
I took down my trusty rifle
And went out to stalk my prey.
What a haul I made that day.
I tied them to my fender, and I drove them home somehow,
Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow.

The law was very firm, it
Took away my permit,
The worst punishment I ever endured.
It turned out there was a reason,
Cows were out of season,
And one of the hunters wasn't insured.

People ask me how I do it,
And I say, "There's nothin' to it,
You just stand there lookin' cute,
And when something moves, you shoot!"
And there's ten stuffed heads in my trophy room right now,
Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a pure-bred Guernsey cow.

The Hunting Song

Monday, November 15, 2010

British Couple Released by Somali Pirates after Year-Long Ordeal

From Latitude 38:

""We are happy to be alive, happy to be here, desperate to see our family," said British sailor Rachel Chandler at a news conference in Mogadishu. She and her husband Paul were finally released yesterday, after being held captive by Somali pirates for 388 days." According to ITN News, a total of $800,000 was given to their captors before the Chandlers' release was eventually granted.

Chandlers released by pirates

"We've been a year with criminals, and that's not a very nice thing to be doing," said Mrs. Chandler.

Intial reports from the Associated Press and others did not mention the fate of the Chandlers' boat, which we assume is unrecoverable. According to news reports at the time of their capture, the boat and cruising kitty represented much of the couple's life savings.

Falsification of the Past

Carol Anne found some great references on this topic and posted them on her FaceBook page, particularly on how Stalin's Communist cronies would not only murder dissidents or send them to exile with possible starvation and horrible death in Siberia, but literally remove them from photographs and histories.

"The most common examples of photograph alteration and falsification come from communist Russia. Unwanted persons, so-called "enemies of the people" were not only killed, but also removed from photographs where their presence was unwanted. Photographs were altered with the intent of changing the past."

Connie and the Cruisers Still Life

Etchells USA 38 Constellation at left with Ultimate 20 center and Desert Wind at right. This was one of the pictures taken from Carol Anne's Etchells Black Magic as we arrived in the race area after an hour-long tow from the boat ramp at Marina del Sur. Winds were not fierce at Elephant Butte Lake in southern New Mexico that day, November 13th, 2010.

Exclusivity or inclusiveness in a sailing club?

A member of one of my sailing clubs, in an e-mail discussion that wasn't circulated to me for several days, proposed that sailors of smaller craft not be eligible for full membership in our sailing club. This seems silly, because we live in a region with few sailors, and are certainly not a wealthy or over-subscribed club. There is apparently also a proposal to increase club participation by cutting the number of race weekends nearly in half.

My reply to all of this was....

Hi ,
I was not included in this discussion until _ _ included me just now and do not know what the proposed schedule might be since I didn't got a copy and haven't been asked for any input.

Also United States Sailing/USSA does certainly still exist, and is the heir to the old USYRU. US Sailing is the body whose rules we are supposed to follow in accordance with our insurance and as part of the world community of sailors. US Sailing merely considers a boat as anything that could be entered in a US Sailing-sanctioned race or event and would be happy to consider a Laser or Sunfish or even an Optimist as a boat or "yacht".

Some of the best yacht and sailing clubs in the country are proud to sponsor and include outstanding dinghy and multihull sailing champions and sailors among their full members and leaders. Some other clubs have grown their membership by providing dinghies and instruction for club member use. High-performance dinghies provide exciting and concentrated sailing. And, although I am unaware of any hydrofoil sailors who would have any interest in joining the RGSC, I know that it takes elite, committed sailors to master these. I would think that a progressive, forward-looking club would be honored and thrilled to have them as members.

In a region with as few sailors as New Mexico and west Texas have, I believe we need every sailor we can get to stand with us in fighting for access to the water and fair treatment, and that we will need all the support we can get from the Hobie sailors, Windriders, dinghy sailors, and everyone who enjoys sailing and other low-impact water sports. Otherwise, the club's voice will be diminished in dealing with the State Parks and community and the club will be more vulnerable.

It would seem narrow-minded, unfriendly, and contrary to helping the club grow to start excluding people from membership just because they don't have the right size or type of boat. If the club starts down this path of exclusivity, where will it end? With squeezing groups of sailors out of the schedule and club? Certainly not with a growing club. Pat

Some of the comments in the thread that had elicited my response were

"I didn't understand that you were trying to squeeze the "pleasure" sailors into the schedule also. Shouldn't that be someone else's job?"

"The split between racing and cruising is about money because racing is the only thing the club spends money on."
[About a third of the club's gross income is used to maintain the mast-up storage lot, which is mostly utilized by non-racing boats. Additional funds are used for administrative expenses, insurance, and items such as donating to military youth sailing programs. Racing trophies have accounted for about another fifth of club income, with more spent on special events such as the women's Adams Cup.]

"The board needs to decide the type of sailboat a member needs to own, as USSA does not exist and does not define a "yacht". I think the club should not accept hydrofoilers or boats under 16' or dinghies that are not self-rescuing."

"The schedule has been trimmed a bit as you can see, only 3 spring series races and only 2 in the fall; with the thought being that it would attract more participation."

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Just a few moments ago I brought in our flag. It occurs to me that the older members of my family did a whole lot of serving and were hugely affected by the cataclysm that was World War II.

My dad was one of the old soldiers who served in North Africa and Italy, driving a weapons carrier for the First Armored Division. His younger brother was a paratrooper who was captured by the Germans around the time of the D-Day invasion, and his wife's husband was a lieutenant in the US Navy. My mom worked as a civilian employee on a war-related pipeline project in Canada, then at the Hanford Reservation nuclear plant, and her younger brother was at the US Military Academy, graduating from the special three-year West Point program in 1946 and later serving multiple tours of duty in South Korea and Vietnam.

This year, my father died. A veterans' group, the American Legion, provided the honor guard for his graveside service, carrying out a flag ceremony, rifle salute, and playing of Taps.

Day is done,
gone the sun,
from the lakes
from the hills
from the sky,
all is well,
safely, rest,
God is near.

Fading light,
Dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky
Gleaming bright,
From afar,
Drawing, near,
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise,
For our days,
Neath the sun
Neath the stars
Neath the sky,
As we go,
This, we, know,
God is near.

The story is fascinating,

It all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moan of a soldier who lay mortally wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.

The captain lit a lantern. Suddenly he caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy has been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, he enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status. His request was partially granted. The captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge of the son at the funeral. That request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate.

Out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician. The captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform. This wish was granted. This music was the haunting melody we now know as "Taps" used at military funerals.

Fill in the blanks...

"_____ __ _______ --
__________ _______ --
____ __ ____ _____
_____ __ ______ _______
_____ __ _____ .
In or out
of 'em, it doesn't matter.
Nothing seems really to matter,
that's the charm of it.
Whether you get away,
or whether you don't;
whether you arrive at your destination
or whether you reach somewhere else,
or whether you never get anywhere at all,
you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular;
and when you've done it there's always something else to do,
and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Never to forget: November 10, 1975

Remember the 29 crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Rest in peace.

NTSB Marine Accident Report NTSB-MAR-78-3


About 1915 EST., on November 10, 1975, the Great Lakes bulk cargo vessel SS EDMUND FITZGERALD, fully loaded with a cargo of taconite pellets, sank in eastern Lake Superior in position 46 59.91 N, 85 06.6’W, approximately 17 miles from the entrance to Whitefish Bay, Michigan. The ship was en route from Superior, WI, to Detroit, MI, and had been proceeding at a reduced speed in a severe storm. All the vessel’s 29 officers and crewmembers are missing and presumed dead. No distress call was heard by vessels or shore stations.

The Safety Board considered many factors during the investigation including stability, hull strength, operating practices, adequacy of weathertight closures, hatch cover strength, possible grounding, vessel design, loading practices, and weather forecasting.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the sudden massive flooding of the cargo hold due to the collapse of one or more hatch covers. Before the hatch covers collapsed, flooding into the ballast tanks and tunnel through topside damage and flooding into the cargo hold through non-weathertight hatch covers caused a reduction of freeboard and a list. The hydrostatic and hydrodynamic forces imposed on the hatch covers by heavy boarding seas at this reduced freeboard and with the list caused the hatch covers to collapse.
Contributing to the accident was the lack of transverse weathertight

At 1900, the ANDERSON advised the FITZGERALD that she was 10 miles ahead and 1 to 1 1/2 miles to the left (east) of the ANDERSON’s heading flasher. At 1910, the ANDERSON advised the FITZGERALD of northbound traffic 9 miles ahead of her. In response to a question about her problems, the FITZGERALD replied, "We are holding our own."

This was the last radiotelephone conversation with the FITZGERALD. When the ANDERSON’s radarscope was checked about 1920, there was no radar contact with her. Visibility increased about this time and although lights on shore more than 20 miles away and lights of a northbound vessel 19 miles away could be seen, the FITZGERALD, which should have been approximately 10 miles away, was not visible.

Between 1920 and 2030, the ANDERSON tried calling the FITZGERALD on VHF-FM radiotelephone, but got no response. At 2032, the ANDERSON notified the Coast Guard that the FITZGERALD may have suffered a casualty.

Wreckage identified as that of the FITZGERALD was located in position 46 59.91 N’, 85 06.6’ W in 530 feet of water in eastern Lake Superior just north of the International Boundary in Canadian waters. This position correlates with the last position of the FITZGERALD as reported by the ANDERSON.

The FITZGERALD was last inspected by the Coast Guard and the ABS on October 31, 1975. Four minor structural defects in way of the hatches were noted and the Coast Guard ordered these defects to be repaired before the 1976 shipping season. The structural defects consisted of: A 1-inch notch in the plate in way of hatch No. 13; a 1-inch gouge in the plate in way of hatch no. 15; a 10-inch crack in No. 16 hatch end girder; and a 1-inch crack at the intersection of No. 21 hatch coaming and hatch end girder. All four defects probably resulted from damage from off loading equipment and did not affect the strength of the hull girder.

The log of the ANDERSON shows the following on November 10:
1. At 1350, just north of Michipicoten Island, the winds were northwest by west at 5 knots.
2. At 1445, west of Michipicoten Island, the winds were northwest at 42 knots.
3. At 1520, just south of Michipicoten Island, the winds were northwest at 43 knots.
4. At 1652, north east of Caribou Island, the winds were northwest at 52 knots.

The master of the ANDERSON testified that 10 or 12 miles north of Caribou Island, the seas were running 12 to 18 feet, and south of Caribou Island, the seas were running 18 to 25 feet. He further testified that he observed winds gusts of 70 or 75 knots.

A NWS meteorologist testified that before the FITZGERALD sank, the average sustained wind speed was 45 knots from the northwest for a period of 6 to 7 hours and that these conditions would produce waves with a significant height of 15 feet. He also testified that there are usually 4 or 5 intense storms on the Great Lakes during the fall to spring shipping seasons. A storm of the intensity of the one recorded on November 10 would not occur every year; however, more intense storms have been recorded on the Great Lakes.

The wreckage lies approximately 17 miles northwest of Whitefish Point, Michigan. The wreckage consists of an upright bow section, an inverted stern section, and debris from a missing 200-foot midship portion. The bow section is 276 feet long, inclined 15 degrees to port from the upright,
extends from the stem to a location between hatches Nos. 8 and 9, and is buried in mud up to the 28-foot draft mark.

Fire and boat drills conducted in good weather while the FITZGERALD was moored indicated that a conventional lifeboat could not be launched in less than 10 minutes. Testimony indicated that as much as 30 minutes would be required to launch a lifeboat in a seaway and that a lifeboat probably could not be launched successfully and boarded in the seaway experienced by the FITZGERALD at the time of her loss. Most witnesses felt that a Great Lakes vessel could be abandoned more successfully with an inflatable liferaft rather than with a lifeboat.

no survivors were found and no bodies were recovered. Ontario Canadian Provincial Police conducted numerous shoreline searches. The total lifesaving equipment recovered was: 1 lifeboat, one-half of another lifeboat, 2 inflatable liferafts, and 21 lifejackets or lifejacket pieces.

When the master of the FITZGERALD first reported topside damage to the vessel at 1530 on November 10, he stated he had a fence rail down, had lost two vents, and had "both" pumps going. Flooding was occurring in one or more ballast tanks, the tunnel or a combination of ballast tanks and the tunnel. At the same time, because of the severe sea conditions, water was entering the vessel’s cargo hold through nonweathertight hatch covers. Between 1530 and the sinking, the FITZGERALD’s deck was awash with green water. Since the sheer strake extended 15 3/8 inches above the weather deck for the entire length of the vessel at side, water would have been trapped on deck. The combined effect of the water in the ballast tanks, the tunnel, the cargo hold, and on deck would have decreased the vessel’s freeboard, permitted more water to enter the cargo hold, and increased any trim or list initiated by the ballast tank or tunnel flooding.

The Safety Board determined through its structural analysis of the hatch covers that the sea state, combined with the loss of freeboard and the trim caused by flooding, could have imposed sufficient hydrostatic loads to cause a hatch cover failure and collapse under static loading.

The Safety Board calculations assumed a wave height of 25 feet. This was based on the ANDERSON’s observations of significant wave heights from 18 to 25 feet. A significant wave height of 25 feet means that the average height of the one-third highest waves is 25 feet. The Safety Board also calculated that, by 1915 on November 10, sufficient water had entered the hull of the FITZGERALD to reduce its freeboard to near zero at hatch No. 1. With zero freeboard, a wave of 25 feet in height would yield a static head of 12.5 feet. This static head was sufficient to cause hatch cover failure. 46 CFR 45.145 required that hatch covers be designed assuming a minimum 4-foot head of water.

The quartering seas would cause a piling" effect in the area behind the forward deckhouse and thus increase the static head. Any stresses caused by the dynamic forces of the boarding seas would have added to the static stresses and would have accelerated the hatch cover failure.

The hatch cover failure would have been severe enough to allow rapid massive flooding of the cargo hold. Since there were no watertight bulkheads within the cargo hold, the flooding water would have progressed throughout the hold within minutes, causing the vessel to sink bow first to the bottom of the lake. Upon impact with the bottom, the midship portion disintegrated and the stern section rolled over, coming to rest upside down.
A detailed analysis of the amount of water that could have entered the cargo holds through openings between the hatch covers and the hatch coamings of the FITZGERALD on November 10, 1975, was made by both the Coast Guard and the Safety Board. Both analyses show that the current hatch design used on Great Lakes vessels, such as the FITZGERALD, would have permitted significant amounts of water to enter the FITZGERALD’s cargo hold under the sea conditions encountered on November 10, 1975.
Between 1700 and 1730, the master of the FITZGERALD told the AVAFORS that "I have a ‘bad list,’ I have lost both radars, and am taking heavy seas over the deck in one of the worst seas I have ever been in."

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the sudden massive flooding of the cargo hold due to the collapse of one or more hatch covers. Before the hatch covers collapsed, flooding into the ballast tanks and tunnel through topside damage and flooding into the cargo hold through nonweathertight hatch covers caused a reduction of freeboard and a list. The hydrostatic and hydrodynamic forces imposed on the hatch covers by heavy boarding seas at this reduced freeboard and with the list caused the hatch covers to collapse.
Contributing to the accident was the lack of transverse watertight bulkheads in the cargo hold and the reduction of freeboard authorized by the 1969, 1971, and 1973 amendments to the Great Lakes Load Line Regulations.

Pretty boat view from aloft....

Robert Perry-designed 45-foot cutter "Eclipse" during an ocean passage. What a gorgeous bluewater boat. And, scary thought, she's a bargain!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Poetry Corner honoring Sunday's loss of an hour of afternoon sunshine...

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
performed by Chicago
lyrics by Robert W. Lamm

As I was walking down the street one day
A man came up to me and asked me what the time was that was on my watch, yeah
And I said

(I don't) Does anybody really know what time it is
(Care) Does anybody really care
If so I can't imagine why
We've all got time enough to cry

And I was walking down the street one day
A pretty lady looked at me and said her diamond watch had stopped cold dead
And I said

Does anybody really know what time it is
Does anybody really care
If so I can't imagine why
We've all got time enough to cry

And I waq walking down the street one day
Being pushed and shoved by people trying to beat the clock, oh, no I just don't know
I don't know
And I said, yes I said


Does anyone know what time it is?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sailboat Race/Wedding

You are Cordially Invited to the Wedding of Our Son
Jesus Fred Saint John and Barbara Ann Whetzel

on November 13, 2010
Skippers Meeting: 10:00 AM

Raft Up to Salud and the Committee Boat In the Middle of the Lake & Southeast of Rock Canyon. Please try to get there early to tie up and throw out fenders on both sides.

Place: Elephant Butte Lake

Wedding: 10:30 AM

Reception: Immediately Follows

Gifts: Must be boat worthy

Hi, do we really know what a Tea Partier is?

The anti-Tea Party "Hi, I'm a Tea Partier" cartoon video is critical of tea party members, primarily upon social grounds, and paints Tea Partiers as intolerant, paranoid, and self-contradicting. But can we really trust this to be a true portrait of the Tea Party movement, however tempting the notion is? And if we believe in this portrayal, doesn't that tend to say we have a gloomy and condescending view of the millions of Americans who have flocked to support the Tea Party movement?

Intolerance may be associated with individual Tea Partiers, and they do tend to be socially more conservative than most Americans, but with a libertarian flavor and a far stronger focus on economic than social issues. It may well be that the de-centralized, new, and anti-insider tea party is much less able to filter out idiosyncratic or erratic candidates who would be rejected by more traditional, centrally controlled parties. However, paranoid or kooky behavior can be found at every extreme of the political compass and can be found in many other political venues other than among tea partiers.

It is important to distinguish the movement as a whole from the behavior of individual candidates who claim to be tea party supporters. And one can't really debate the tea party people without knowing what their self-described beliefs are, and without going well beyond caricatures drawn by opponents or derived from fringe behavior. We have suffered far too much from the lack of dialog, understanding, and compromise in our national discourse and leadership and need to take the first step of seeking to truly understand others' views. If we criticize without understanding we run the real risk of being guilty of the very intolerance we seek to criticize.

The movement's defined issues are "cutting back the size of government, lowering taxes, reducing wasteful spending, reducing the national debt and federal budget deficit, and adherence to the United States Constitution." Tea partiers also feel that the federal government is not doing a good job of listening to the people. (Wikipedia).

Its "contract from America" has 10 elements... (1) Identify the constitutionality of every new law, (2) Reject emissions trading, (3) demand a balanced federal budget, (4) Simplify the tax system, (5) Audit federal government agencies for constitutionality (and eliminate waste and duplication), (6) Limit annual growth in federal spending, (7) Repeal the healthcare legislation passed on March 23, 2010, (8) Pass an 'All-of-the-Above' Energy Policy (to reduce dependence upon outside energy), (9) Reduce Earmarks, and (10) Reduce taxes.

Americans may disagree with items from this list, but these items are legitimately debatable and are likely to be part of our political conversation between now and the 2012 election. And, if as a result the federal government does a better job of showing that it listens to citizens, one of the major complaints of the tea partiers will have been addressed.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

No tea time for Delaware; Chris Coons beats Christine O'Donnell easily

Was Ms. O'Donnell not quite well enough qualified at witchcraft to be elected to the US Senate? After all, isn't that what Congress does? Or did maybe the Delaware voters just not like what got put in their tea?

Oh well, poor dear. In honor of her defeat:

Artist: Frank Sinatra

Those fingers in my hair
That sly come hither stare
That strips my conscience bare
It's witchcraft

And I've got no defense for it
The heat is too intense for it
What good would common sense for it do

'Cause it's witchcraft, wicked witchcraft
And although, I know, it's strictly taboo

When you arouse the need in me
My heart says yes indeed in me
Proceed with what your leading me to

It's such an ancient pitch
But one I wouldn't switch
'Cause there's no nicer witch than you

Associated Press tonight:

Democrat Chris Coons easily won Delaware's Senate race Tuesday over Republican Christine O'Donnell, a tea party favorite who struggled to shake old cable-show footage in which she spoke out against masturbation and talked about dabbling in witchcraft as a teenager.

With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Coons had 57 percent of the vote to 40 percent for O'Donnell, an evangelical outsider whose stunning upset in the September GOP primary likely cost Republicans the race. Her opponent in the primary, congressman and former governor Mike Castle, had been considered a shoo-in to win Vice President Joe Biden's old seat.....

She also faced questions about her background and personal finances, including inaccurate statements about her education, a tax lien from the IRS, a lawsuit from the university she attended over unpaid bills and a foreclosure action that she avoided by selling her house to her former campaign attorney before a sheriff's auction....

.. the Republican Party will never be the same," she said."

Tea time tonight or ... ?

Will the Tea Party movement help or hurt the Republicans? Will they succeed in firing a big warning shot across the bow of SS "Business as Usual" Congress or will they shoot themselves and fellow conservatives in the foot? It's certainly been an interesting campaign season and maybe tonight we'll learn the answers to questions that waited upon the mid-term election.

To be fair to the Tea Partiers, I think a lot of the issues that are used to attack them aren't issues or beliefs that are central to the tea party core message of smaller, restrained, accountable government, which is more of a libertarian view. That is a message I can respect.

For myself, I'd also like to see much more of a customer-service orientation from our government, and something resembling greater respect for taxpayers. And, I'd love to see candidates who can get the things done that most Americans agree need doing, and not get hung up on fringe issues. Those are good things and don't have to have any necessary association with paranoid or kooky stuff. And weird stuff can be found at every extreme of the political compass, and certainly not just among tea partiers.

I like to think that were I forced to run for some office, I would make myself the country's most obnoxious and unlikeable candidate and tell people exactly what they do not want to hear. I'd blame voters for being lazy, not researching issues, and believing negative campaign ads. And I'd make sure that each special interest group got their share of criticism for wherever they fail to work for the common good. If I played my cards right, I could get both the National Rifle Association and the folks who want to ban guns to endorse the other candidate, and so on with all the other antagonistic groups. And I'd lash out at people in general for failing to support the American dream, ideals, and liberties in which they claim to believe.

By the way, I'm not a witch, but I did dabble with chocolate when I was in high school. I also believe that bears should not be armed unless they have completed a hunter safety course.

And I have been known to discriminate among vegetables; I much prefer crunchy carrots and celery, fresh spinach leaves, lightly steamed asparagus, and corn on the cob to candied rutabegas or sweet potatoes or boring old cauliflower.

And how did our county tax assessor mange to time it so that our property tax bill came to me two hours after I'd just voted?

Sailing connection? Oh yes, don't forget to mail in your ballots for the sailing club elections that are ongoing; Rio Grande Sailing Club ballots need to be submitted in time to be counted November 13th at the Commodore's Cup and southern fleet dinner at the Club Restaurant at the Turtleback Golf Resort in Elephant Butte.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Weekend update: Laguna Vista near Heron Lake, New Mexico

This weekend we left Albuquerque on Thursday night and headed north. Dulce Carolina did not like the drive and was meowing for quite a while. We arrived in Laguna Vista in the middle of the night and I unloaded lots of gear that was being moved north to start clearing out our house in Albuquerque.

Friday I made progress on the Great Drainage project, making pipe connections and starting to cover the upper end of the ditch. I also got to the Heron Lake Marina and retrieved a kayak, leaving only the State Parks patrol boat as the only boat remaining in the marina. In another month or two the marina cove is likely to freeze. Already temperatures in the area are low; we saw 15 deg. F temps. during our drive north and on early Saturday morning. Friday night we laid a fire in the fireplace and enjoyed it all night long and well into Saturday afternoon. The efficient fireplace did a great job of relieving the furnace and keeping much of the cabin warm.

Saturday saw further progress, with the pipe laid and ditch covered so we no longer had to cross a plank bridge over the ditch to get in the house. Although temps were chilly during the night, they reached 60 F on Friday and Saturday, so I had no need for layers; a long-sleeve shirt was plenty under mostly sunny skies.

Sunday saw yet more work done, so that the project is now mostly complete, secure and usable for the winter, and most of the dirt piles are gone. The only work remaining is at the bottom of one drainage line, some grading and covering with small rock at one drain inlet, and the final reconnection of an access ramp. Also accomplished was some work on our MacGregor, which is now partially covered with a tarp and has had items removed for safe winter storage.

Wildlife sightings were also part of the weekend; besides the usual mule deer and elk Carol Anne saw a bald eagle just two miles from our cabin. Willow Creek had a bit of flowing water and the Heron Lake level has stabilized; almost all of the water that can be taken out for the year has already been taken. Now we just need to hope for a good winter snowpack and spring runoff.

Weekends now will be prime writing time for Carol Anne now that she's started her NaNoWriMo novel, "Murder at the Spelling Bee".

Winston Churchill quotes

Sir Winston Churchill:

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.

And, speaking of election day:

Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.

If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.

A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.