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

Monday, 29 August 2016

Alarm in the Morning

South of Atlanta

The RV LP gas alarm goes off with a screech at 3:30 AM. That can be caused by a failing alarm, a propane leak, human flatulence, battery fumes or any number of other causes.

'
Usually you can smell propane due to a chemical odorant (usually ethylmercaptan) which is added as a safety measure. I can't smell anything.


I turn off the propane at the tank, but the alarm keeps going off.


Finally, at 5:30 AM I pull out the alarm and cut the wires.


In case you are wondering about the fish pictures, I thought that pictures of the propane alarm would be too boring.


So these are from a 2006 dive on a wall in La Parguerra, Puerto Rico.


Now just waiting for the sun and thinking about the next move.


Friday, 26 August 2016

Halibut Recipes

 I think that halibut has a great texture but not much taste. It makes a great platform for other tastes like capers and lemon pepper. Here are a few recipes that I've created or stolen....go online for more ideas....



 Bob's Old Bay Halibut Recipe (best with "skin on" halibut)


 Two Halibut steaks (6 to 8 oz each)
2/3 can diced tomato (or chop your own medium tomato)
1 can butter beans  (or Great Northern or Cannellini beans)
1 heaping teaspoon Old Bay spice
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
2 heaping tablespoons pesto
2 lemon slices
2 sheets (18 x 18" each) aluminum foil

 Preheat oven to 400°F and combine beans, tomatoes, Old Bay spice and Garlic. Place Halibut skin down on aluminum foil and cover with bean mixture. Add pesto and lemon slice and fold foil into packet. Bake about 20 minutes or until halibut flakes easily. Do not overcook fish.....


Tuscan Halibut (best with "skin on" halibut)

 4 sheets (12 x 18" each) Reynolds Wrap® heavy-duty aluminium foil
2 cans (15 oz. each) Great Northern or Cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
4 tbsp. prepared pesto, divided
4 (4 to 6 oz. each) Alaska Halibut steaks
4 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon pepper
4 lemon slices

Preheat oven to 450°F and combine beans, tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons pesto; mix well. Center ¼ of bean mixture on each foil sheet. Top with one Alaska Halibut steak; drizzle with lemon juice. Sprinkle halibut with lemon pepper. Top with lemon slices. Bring up sides of foil and double fold. Double fold ends to form four packets, leaving room for heat circulation inside packets. Bake 16 to 20 minutes on a cookie sheet in oven. Serve with remaining pesto. Makes 4 servings

ALASKA HALIBUT ROYAL (best with "skin off" halibut)


1 cup dry white wine
2 tsp. salt
1 ½ lbs. Alaska Halibut steaks
¼ cup fine dry bread crumbs
½ cup each sour cream & mayonnaise
¼ cup minced green onions
paprika
Combine wine and salt; pour over halibut. Marinate in refrigerator at least 1 hour. Drain halibut on paper towels; dip both sides in breadcrumbs. Place halibut in shallow buttered baking dish. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise and green onions; spread over halibut. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured at the thickest part, or until halibut flakes when tested with a fork


Grilled Fresh Alaska Halibut (best with "skin on" halibut)


1 pound (454g) halibut fillet
lemon pepper, salt (for seasoning)
Preheat the grill. Place the halibut skin side down on oiled tinfoil, sprinkle with lemon-pepper-salt mix, and close the grill cover and cook only until the flesh flakes with a plastic fork.

To Accompany:
Consider sliced red peppers and mushrooms wrapped in tinfoil and steamed on the grill
Wild rice i s also nice if there are indoor cooking facilities

SPICY DENALI ALASKA HALIBUT (good with skin on or off)

  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp. each dried oregano and dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. each onion powder and garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. each black pepper and salt
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ tbsp. butter, melted
  • 4 (6 oz. each) Alaska halibut steaks, thawed if necessary
Mix together all dry-seasoning ingredients until well combined. Place Alaska Halibut steaks on a non-stick or spray-coated baking sheet or broiler pan. Brush butter onto top surface of halibut. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon seasoning mixture over the surface of each halibut steak. Broil 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured at thickest part, or until fish flakes when tested with a fork. Store remaining seasoning mixture in airtight container for future use.


HALIBUT WITH CAPERS (best with "skin off" halibut)


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 halibut steaks (6 to 8 oz)
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon minced or chopped garlic
1/4 cup butter
salt and pepper
3 tablespoon capers with butter



Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the halibut steaks on all sides until nicely browned. Remove from pan, and set aside.

Pour the wine into the pan, and use a spatula to scrape any browned bits from the bottom. Let the wine reduce to almost nothing, then stir in the garlic, butter and capers. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce simmer for a minute to blend the flavors.
Return the steaks to the pan, and coat them with sauce. Cook until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve fish immediately with the sauce from the pan poured over it.

Blackened halibut or salmon (best with "skin off" halibut)


Ingredients to serve four:
2 Tablespoons ground paprika
1 Tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
4 pieces of salmon or halibut (about 6 oz each).
1/2 cup butter

Directions

In a small bowl, mix paprika, cayenne pepper, onion powder, salt, white pepper, black pepper, thyme, basil and oregano.

Brush fillets on both sides with melted butter, and sprinkle evenly with the cayenne pepper mixture. then rebrush one side of each fillet with melted butter.

In a large, heavy skillet over high heat, cook salmon, butter side down, until blackened, 2 to 5 minutes. Turn fillets, drizzle with remaining butter, and continue cooking 2 to 5 more minutes until blackened and fish is easily flaked with a fork.

Consider moving the fish around a little occasionally while cooking to prevent the spices from sticking to the pan. I used an olive oil spray to lubricate the pan before adding the fish...... Remember: It is against the laws of nature to overcook fish until it is dry and tough. DON'T DO IT!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Why You Should Avoid Sushi

In a recent study done in Chicago, 100% of the sushi sold as tuna was actually some other fish.


84% of sushi fish samples labeled "white tuna" were actually escolar, a fish that can cause prolonged, uncontrollable, oily anal leakage. Escolar or butterfish is delicious, but is also the ex-lax of the fish family.


Escolar is a type of snake mackerel that cannot metabolise the wax esters naturally found in its diet. These esters are called gempylotoxin, and are very similar to castor or mineral oil. This is what gives the flesh of escolar its delicious oily texture.


As a result, when full portions of escolar are consumed, these wax esters cause gastrointestinal symptoms. Consumption of escolar causes explosive, oily, orange diarrhoea which may be difficult to control while, for example, passing gas in an elevator.


Mrs. Phred lost a tennis shoe when she was washed overboard on a raft trip this June. She lost the right shoe. Today she showed me the left shoe and asked if I thought she should keep it. I told her that I thought she should keep it in case a future foot amputation, but that she should hope that they did not cut off her left foot because then the shoe would be obviously worthless.


 We passed 50 years together a few days ago. I met her at a cast party in Tallahassee. The play was "A Man For All Seasons". This was about Sir Thomas More and his silence with regard to the legitimacy of Henry the VIII's plan to divorce his wife in the hope of siring a male heir. There were other characters like Cardinal Wolsley and Cromwell, but the important thing was that I got to intersect with Mrs. Phred after the play....


Speaking of anal discharges, one of the funniest You Tube videos I've seen recently is a man called "water butt" who lives in Orlando. These are the people who prevailed in the last four presidential elections. I laid in bed last night shaking my belly with silent laughter as I visualised "water butt".


Today I packed all my dive gear in a small carry-on by eliminating my BCD...I can rent a BCD for $50 for the week on Blackbeard's Cruises...that's exactly what checking a bag both ways would cost on Jet Blue and I don't have to wait for luggage. The water temp will be about 80F in Early November in the Bahamas. We will do 26 dives (wall dives, shark dives, night dives).  Today I saw some cool masks that mount GoPro videocams, but at my advanced age I don't think spending another $600 on more dive gear makes that much sense. My old stuff from 1980 still works.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Charlie Don't Surf

Captain Jack Armstrong

I've been watching the presidential candidates and thinking about the power to launch the nuclear triad.

I tested out at the 99th percentile on my Air Force Officers Emotional Stability Quotient (AFOESQ) . I was an Airman Basic in Lackland Air Force Base in 1963 and wanting the Air Force to send me back to college for a degree and a commission under their Airman Education and Commissioning Program. (AECP). They had 100 slots a year and I wanted and got one.


The test took about three hours and had hundreds of questions that were designed to detect lying and inconsistencies. When my orders came through they promoted me to Staff Sargent ( in nine months after enlistment) and sent me to Florida State University to study accounting. They had 99 slots for meteorologists and 2 for accounting.


Some of the questions went like this:
a. My friends usually came to my house.
b. I didn't have many friends.
c. I usually went to my friends houses.
d. I always stayed at home and masturbated.


Often the questions were trickier, but I thought, "How would Captain Jack Armstrong answer this question?". When I graduated from Florida State in 1965, they offered me the chance to be a pilot or a navigator. Since pilots were being killed willy-ninny in Vietnam, I chose the latter occupation.


Jack Armstrong was the "All American Boy" fictional radio character from 1933 to 1951. I caught the broadcasts on our old radio during the program's last three years. No great mental feat to promote him to a being a Captain in the United States Air Force and use him to answer all the questions...What Would Jack Do (WWJD)? Does knowing the right answers mean that I am emotionally stable? So far I haven't gone postal. On the other hand, my cousin has my M-1 carbine up in New York with the two 50 round banana clips taped together so my chances have been very  limited.


Apparently Jack passed the test with flying colors so when Mrs. Phred questions my sanity or asks if I'm depressed I refer her back to my test results...after all how many of us are certifiably that stable compared to the general population of Air Force Officers?


By the way, I recently acquired a t-shit that says "Charlie Don't Surf" over a picture of a young Charles Manson. No matter how many times I explain to Mrs. Phred why this is hilarious...she fails to see the humor...what do you think?


Monday, 1 August 2016

A Thousand Slimy Things Lived On...and So Did I

Midway Atoll has changed from a source of guano., to a 1930s Pan-Am refueling stop, to a WWII critical battle site, to a Vietnam refueling stop for old military aircraft and then to a U.S bird sanctuary.

There are currently 400,000 nesting pairs of Gooney birds (Albatross) on Midway, about 70% of the world population. The birds arrive in August and stay until late Fall. The mating ritual involves throwing back the head, flapping wings and yodeling in perfect synchronization for days on end. They are graceful in flight but ofter suffer midair collisions.  They frequently crash and tumble on takeoff rolls and on landing. They won't move from the nest if approached by humans or vehicles.

 Overhead the albatross
Hangs motionless upon the air
And deep beneath the rolling waves
In labyrinths of coral caves
An echo of a distant time
Comes willowing across the sand
And everything is green and submarine. 
-Pink Floyd


I stayed in this barracks a number of times after a 10 hour, 2,300 mile, flight from Japan. The Navy was our host and we showered and brushed our teeth in salt water. I often had diarhea here and first thought it was the water until someone told me that it came from eating raw snakes and eels days earlier in Okinawa.

The birds have to be in synch because they take turns shielding the nest from the sun, which kills many of the baby chicks every year. Up to 1,000 a day die in the hot sun and are hauled off to the incinerator....it is survival of the fittest...mother nature takes her toll.


Midway was the turning point in the Pacific war. The U.S. sank four Japanese heavy carriers here with great losses of their best pilots and airplanes. Japan never recovered from these losses. U.S. Navy code breakers allowed the Navy to learn the exact date (June 2, 1942) of the attack on Midway and position an inferior force to lie in wait.

For reasons not entirely understood the wandering albatross have a deferred mating pattern and do not return to Midway to mate until they are 8 or nine years old. Recently, a bird tagged in 1958 returned to mate which says something about lifespan..

 
The Breaking of JN-25
Breaking the Japanese code known to Americans as JN-25 was daunting. It consisted of approximately 45,000 five-digit numbers, each number representing a word or phrase. For transmission, the five-digit numbers were super-enciphered using an additive table. Breaking the code meant using mathematical analysis to strip off the additive, then analyzing usage patterns over time, determining the meaning of the five-digit numbers. T

AF Is Short of Water
In the spring of 1942, Japanese intercepts began to make references to a pending operation in which the objective was designated as "AF." In an effort to alleviate any doubt, in mid-May the commanding officer of the Midway installation was instructed to send a message in the clear indicating that the installation's water distillation plant had suffered serious damage and that fresh water was needed immediately. Shortly after the transmission, an intercepted Japanese intelligence report indicated that "AF is short of water." Armed with this information, Nimitz began to draw up plans to move his carriers to a point northeast of Midway.

The Gooney Bird's long wings are ill-suited to powered flight and most species lack the muscles and energy to undertake sustained flapping flight. Albatrosses in calm seas are forced to rest on the ocean's surface until the wind picks up again. 


I logged 2,800 hours of flying time at this C-124 navigator's station.  There is a lot of primitive WWII era gear here, including the APN-9 Loran A oscilloscope and a crappy radar. The best navigation aid was dead reckoning, followed by the bubble sextant.

The maximum takeoff weight of a C-124 is 197,000 pounds. Once, one of my pilots, wanting to fly 3,300 miles to Tacoma, had the empty airplane refueled to 110 percent of the allowable maximum weight.. We took off in the pre-dawn darkness, lumbering slowly to the very end of the runway and lifting off into the darkest night I can remember about five feet above the ocean. It took what seemed forever to get high enough that dipping a wing into the water was no longer a possibility.

 When taking off, albatrosses need to take a run up to allow enough air to move under the wing to provide lift.


The C-124 was designed for 5,000 hours of flight time, but often hit 50,000. It had the largest piston driven engines ever mounted on an airplane. The wings developed cracks and sometimes broke off in heavy turbulence. The last one was retired from the National Guard in 1974.

Gooney birds have been recorded flying non-stop over 4,000 miles to find food for the chicks. It's possible that the strenuous mating dance, which lasts for days, is a survival mechanism. The birds have to each be fit enough to share gathering food and sheltering the nest for months.


Above is a picture of Midway on December 7, 1941  after a sneak attack..

The picture below is the flight engineer's station on the C-124. They would do things like throws the levers to kick in the superchargers if we had to climb above 8,000 feet to get over a mountain range.

When a bird first returns to the colony it will dance with many partners, but after a number of years the number of birds an individual will interact with drops, until one partner is chosen and a pair is formed. They then continue to perfect an individual dance language that will eventually be unique to that one pair and last for life.


Young Phred Firecloud, the navigator.


Midway Atoll is about 1,200 miles from Hawaii. The atoll was formed about 28 million years ago by a volcano. The atoll is over the same hot spot that formed the Hawaiian Islands. The volcano gradually sank under its own weight, but the coral growth kept the atoll above water. This subsidence process is called isotonic adjustment.The atoll was claimed by a Captain Middleton for the U.S. in 1859 under the 1856 Uninhabited Island Guano Act.


Things change fast on the human scale of time, from the Battle of Midway to a bird sanctuary in my lifetime.


And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work 'em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,
That made the breeze to blow!

The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie:
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I. 
Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Samuel Coleridge