Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Back in Homer Alaska

Kenny and I arrived in Anchorage about 7:00 PM local time after a seven hour flight from Atlanta. We picked up our rental car and spent the night in a motel about a mile from the airport. We had some drinks and Chinese food, slept and hit the road for Homer on the Kenai Peninsula at 5:00 AM the next morning. On the way to Homer we visited the tiny village of Hope and watched people catching "humpies" in Resurrection Creek.

We checked in to the Ocean House Inn. It's probably my favourite place to spend some nights. The view from our room on a cliff is of Cook's Inlet and a wall of mountains and glaciers.

We booked two days of Halibut fishing. This year the rules are even more restricted. Your limit is two for the day and four Halibut for the year. In addition, one per day must be under 28 inches. All those rules are new. We limit out for the year in two days and are very thankful not to have booked and paid for three trips.The Halibut charters take two hours to drive out into Cook's inlet, two hours of fishing and two hours back. Captain Cook explored  these waters with his navigator and mapmaker, William Bligh, in 1778 on his third voyage of discovery. Bligh is the second greatest navigator of all time (next only to myself (blushes modestly))...

We have our fish flash frozen and vacuum packed in preparation for a Fed-Ex shipment back to the lower 48. Tomorrow we take a cruise over to Seldovia where we hope to catch some Sockeye, take a hike and eat some ice cream.

This is the first time Kenny and I have vacationed together since we spent a week touring Puerto Rico in 2005.

We went on the Spirit Sunday and the Jackpot Monday. We also hit the Nature center Monday morning I got some great picture there but managed to delete them. Maybe I'll go back. The Jackpot is the second vessel on the left.

These Halibut are all white side up....their eyes are on the other (dark) side....The trip reminds me of the resupply missions I used to fly out to the end of the Aleutian chain: Adak, Shemya and the Pribilof Islands...That was 50 years ago and far away...I was young then and full of life...

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Istanbul Protests

We end the day wandering along a back street in Istanbul where the real people live and only a few confused and lost tourists are ever seen. Walking is our main activity.

This abstract seems to be about whiling dervishes. We like it a lot. Maybe I'll blow it up and put it on the walls of the RV?

"Abstract art is a product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled, to the utterly bewildered". ~ Al Capone on Zen Twitter....

We set the alarm and hit the "Blue Mosque" at the scheduled opening time of 0830. The crowds move quickly.

Tourists cannot come into the mosque during prayer times.

After the Blue Mosque we went to see the Istanbul Archeological Museum.

Cat in a chair.

Cat in alley.

Another cat.

Ancient cat head. We saw one mummy box in the museum where the mummified priest had made mummy of his cat and placed it in the mummy box at his feet. What is the name of a mummy box? I don't need Google, Mrs. Phred knows everything....

This guy is really scary. He's about ten feet tall and holding something or someone upside down. There is no explanation near the state or on the audiotape. I think maybe his name is Baal. The museum is high tech.  You can use an iphone app where posted to get more information.

Part of the Code of Hammurabi is written on a tiny Babylonian Cuneiform tablet.  The original code has 282 laws involving divorce, inheritance, crooked judges and other matters.

Cat on a Roman pillar. They have too much stuff to put it all inside, so a lot of it is laying around  the yard.

Cat in the restaurant.

Cat with it's own house.

The GPS with the Turkey microchip comes in handy. We find another art gallery but it has been abandoned since our Frommer's was published.

Cat waiting for a train.

Fishing in the Bosporus from the Galata Bridge on a Saturday is a very popular activity. Lots of fishing. Not much catching..

The main street in Istanbul runs about two miles from Taksim Square to the funicular that takes you down to the Galata Bridge. The funicular is a short line underground. It's the third oldest subway after London and New York City.

The May Day protests here were violent. Today things seem peaceful but there are hundreds of riot cops ready to move if needed. It all seems very familiar to Mrs. Phred.  I ask her if she misses her gas mask and gas mask bag and shoulder strap...."Hell No, We Won't Go..."...

Friday, 26 May 2017

The Rolls Royce Silver Cloud

West Palm Beach, Florida

The "Owens" is a sunken freighter off West Palm Beach at about 110 feet. Someone has dumped a 1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud next to it to enhance the dive. The gulf stream is very strong here, maybe three knots.

In other dives, in the Bahamas, the divemasters sometimes joke that there is a Maserati, Hummer or perhaps an Aston-Martin DB5 on the ocean floor and everyone always laughs at these tired jokes.

I'm doing the dive on the Owens as part of my "Rescue Diver" certification with a "buddy", Alan. As rescue divers we are required to check the gear of other Divers. Alan "checks" my air valve and turns it off completely. There are strong Gulf stream currents in Palm Beach so to hit the dive target (Owens) we need to be overweighted and go down really fast. I'm down about 15 feet and dropping like a stone when my air cuts off completely after an exhale. I kick hard to the top, feeling betrayed. From here on when someone attempts to touch my air valve I ask them if they really want to keep that hand and reach for my dive knife. Also, I always take three breaths before jumping in while watching the air gauge to see if the valve is really on or if maybe I'm just breathing the systems pressurized air from the last time the valve was on.

I don't look for Alan as I go back down to the wreck. The wreck has huge schools of swarming fish and predators like Jacks trying to pick off strays. Stonefish on the bottom are poisonous and virtually invisible. The Gulf Steam current is ripping though the wreck. The Rolls Royce has definitely seen better days.

It's twightlight and approaching night. At 100 feet down it's getting dark. In our dive briefing they say emphatically "do not penetrate the wreck." Therefore, I hide a flashlight in my dive gear and quickly swim into the hold and then into another three by two foot opening in the freighter hold when I see no one is looking.

When I come out of the long small shaft I had used to enter the Owens I find myself in a small room leading to other rooms with steel bunk beds, lockers and many protubances that are snagging my airhoses and making me feel a little claustrophobic. It's really dark inside the wreck. I can only see with my underwater flashlight. I think of EverReady battery commercials. When I touch things, clouds of particles swirl up to obscure my vision within the ship's compartments. Sometimes I'm in complete blackout conditions.

I'm down to my last ten minutes of air at 110 feet and alone inside the Owens, I decide it's time to leave. When I return to the entrance area in the room that I had entered, I see that there are four identical 3x2 shaft openings leading to unknown places. One of them would have taken me back the way I came in. It's hard to know where the other three 3x2 shafts would go.

I am very amused by this situation for a moment, get an adrenelin rush and then begin to imagine old 1960's Lloyd Bridges TV "Seahunt" sound tracks where the music gets very loud once the diver runs into bad trouble. I begin to laugh and bubble which hard to do with a regulator in the mouth.

I take a another minute to look around and up and down and notice a shimmering square from the last of the daylight two stories above me where someone had cut a nice 3x3 hole in the side of the Owens to keep stupid people from getting stuck and lost. "How Thoughtful!", I think and then begin slowly rising to the surface, carefully avoiding the "bends" or a nasty air embolism.

The sensation of running completely out of air after completing an exhalation while dropping like a stone is not one I'm ever going to willingly repeat. Alan did ask me, back on the boat, where I went. I told him about running out of air and explained the correct air valve loosening procedure..."righty-tighty, lefty-loosey". I didn't tell him about penetrating the wreck. He could easily have killed me, but he was always well intentioned. What I learned from Alan was to take two breaths from the regulator, before jumping in, while watching the air pressure gauge...if the air valve is actually off the needle drops about 1,000 PSI per breath.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The Words of Douglas Adams

 Mrs. Phred and I have seen some fine and violent movies over the holidays and we're reading a series of slasher books based on a Miami psycho killer named Dexter.

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

One movie was Jack Reacher starring the improbably diminutive Tom Cruise. He did a good job for his size.

 “If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.”

We also saw Django Unchained by Quentin Tarrantino, who is always an over the top hoot and weird combination of humor and gore.
 “It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.”

“All you really need to know for the moment is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it's pretty damn complicated in the first place.”

“Ford!" he said, "there's an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they've worked out.”

 “This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.”

“If life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.”

"The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.”

Sunday, 9 April 2017

The Man Who Painted His Toyota Red

Indiatlantic, Florida -

We slept with the sliding glass door open so we could hear the surf roar in the night.

I love sleazy, tacky Florida beach motel rooms. This one is over the top with plastic palms festooned with colored lights. I had two margaritas and a sushi eel roll for dinner last night.

I get up at 5 AM and go into the bathroom to read so I won’t disturb Mrs. Phred. In the harsh florescent light I see that there are apparent bloodstains on the bathroom mirror frame and similar smears on the door jam...too much for a laid-back housekeeper to deal with.

The beach is white sand extending north to space shuttle at Cape Canaveral and south to Sebastian Inlet where they found Spanish gold bars on the reef. The sun comes up on the horizon in the morning on this side of Florida...We could go back to the other side and watch it set tonight...

My cousin and her two of her grandchildren drop by for a picnic. The day is perfect, about 72 F and breezy. My niece tells me that she is ten. I ask her when and she tells me next September. We spend about three hours getting knocked down by the waves. She shrieks with delight after each wave sends her tumbling in the surf...She feels something touch her foot and I tell her it’s probably a banana fish…

I give her my camera and she takes some good pictures. She catches a water-skier being pulled along by his own personal kite thing, a surf fisherman and several Hibiscus flowers. My nephew brings a SF book. We talk authors for awhile and trade books.

Strangely, my cousin and I both made the decision to join the Air Force in August, 1963. She was a WAF. I looked her up at basic training in Texas and we went to the movies together at the base theatre. We try to remember the name of the movie but nothing comes.

I spoke to the motel manager about the apparent blood stains on the door jam of the bathroom. He told me about the man who painted his Toyota red. He was the motel maintenance man. His name was Oliver. He had an old 1985 Toyota which he liked to paint red. The unusual thing was that he used a paintbrush and a bucket of red paint and did it about once a week.

The Toyota must have weighed an extra 1,000 pounds or so at the end of the first year from the inch thick layers of peeling red enamel.

They always asked him why he liked to paint his Toyota red, but he would only giggle and never gave an answer. He painted the tires, hubcaps, bumpers and everything red. Once he went too far and painted red over the headlights and the police stopped him when he drove to the 7-11 for a six-pack at night and gave him a warning not to paint over the headlights again.

Then he really went too far and painted red over the windows and got involved in an accident out on A1A. They arrested him and the judge gave him a stern warning not to paint his headlights, windows or rearview mirrors red any more.

One evening he was painting the Toyota red and a young college student named Leo who was on Spring Break from New York City came close to ask him why he was painting his Toyota red. She was wearing a bikini on her way to the beach.

He whispered something inaudible and she came closer to hear the reason. He began to paint her, holding her arm tightly as she screamed and dipping the brush in the bucket rapidly.

Leo ran into room 15 and called the Indiatlantic police and then locked herself in the bathroom. The other students that Leo was with told the police that Oliver had gone back into his darkened living quarters with the red paint. The police entered with flashlights and found him in the bathroom painted with red enamel from head to toe. He would have painted his teeth, but he forgot. He tried to paint his eyeballs, but it hurt too much.

They sent him too the state mental hospital in Chatahootchee for observation for six months. When he got out, he got a job distributing pamphlets for a Koreshan minister. Koresheans believe that we live inside a hollow sphere. They conduct frequent experiments to prove that the horizon slopes upwards.

Oliver did well on that job for about a month, but then he painted the minister and several of his parishioners red. Then he drove the Toyota to Webb City, Missouri and now lives near the public library, where he is considered fairly normal and is a good customer for the nearby Glidden Paint store.

Anyway, that’s how the red stains got on the door jam and mirror in room 15.