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, 28 March 2017

Amelia Earhart - Death by Parallax?

Whatever happened to Amelia in 1937. I have my own unprovable theory. Parallax killed her and her navigator, Fred Noonan.

Amelia Earhart's disappearance on 2 July, 1937 has been the subject of much speculation over the years, with theories ranging from the plausible to the wildly fantastic. Here is a look at a reasonable explanation of why Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan failed to reach Howland Island on that fateful day(1).

Understanding Parallax-Human 'Depth Perception'

Parallax allows us to estimate the distance of objects that we can see. Hold up a finger approximately three inches in front of your nose and look at it closely. Then close first your left eye and then your right. Repeat this rapidly. Notice how your finger rapidly moves (or appears to move) from right to left, depending on which eye you use to observe the finger. Our brains deftly integrate information received from the parallax of our two eyes, and this allows us to estimate distances to objects. Parallax is therefore very useful in surviving on the motorway, picking fruit, playing games involving balls and in numerous other ways.

Stellar Parallax

Stellar parallax is another use of parallax and was an early method of estimating the distance of nearby stars. In this case, the angles for a nearby star are measured six months apart while the Earth is on opposite sides of its orbit. This parallax error defines a parsec (2), which is one second of arc and a little over three light years. This method of measuring stellar distances is useful for up to about 11 parsecs.

Photographic Parallax Errors

Here parallax begins to reveal its darker side. We find that what the observer views through the eyepiece may not exactly correspond to the size and dimension of the image that will end up traveling though the lens and falling upon the camera's film. This type of parallax error may be most noticeable on close-up photography when the viewfinder and lens of the cameras are on different lines of sight. Better cameras provide help with parallax correction features, which may be as simple as a visual box in the viewfinder indicating the size and shape of the eventual photographic image.

Geocentric Parallax Errors

Geocentric parallax can have fatal consequences for the unwary traveler. An adjustment is required to compensate for a false apparent angle between a celestial body and a human observer. The moon's observed altitude angle is usually misleading due to parallax because the moon is very close to the Earth. The sun and the stars do not require a correction because they are so far away that the parallax error approaches total insignificance. Failing to apply the parallax correction to celestial navigation observations can result in a really bad sun/moon fix or just a wildly incorrect speed-line or course-line(3) from the moon alone.

The amount of the celestial parallax error is at a minimum when the moon passes through the meridian and is also directly overhead (ie, on the same latitude as the observer). The amount of the parallax error can be as much as much as 60 minutes (4) (60 nautical miles or about 69.046767 English miles) when the moon is near the observer's horizon.

A 60-mile error on the moon observation can become a much greater error in determining your position on the Earth if the moon and a second body being observed have lines of position that cross at other than a 90-degree angle, which is almost always the case.

To get a picture of how it works, think of an observer on the equator, and the sun and the moon both circling about the equator on one of the equinox days. The moon rises exactly in the east and passes directly overhead to set in the west. The sun follows the same path. We will ignore the sun's insignificant parallax, due to its greater distance from the Earth. However, the moon can have an error in the observed altitude angle of approximately one degree (60 nautical miles) on the horizon. There is no geocentric parallax error at all when the moon is directly overhead and the observer is on a direct line between the moon and the Earth's centre.

The need for the parallax correction arises because navigation tables compute the altitude angle of the moon based on an angle between the celestial body and the exact centre of the Earth. The navigator/observer is hopefully somewhere else and on (or above) the surface of the Earth, so there will always be an 'error' in the observed angle of nearby bodies (ie, the moon) unless the body is conveniently passing exactly over the observer's head. The amount of the error can be computed from a table which is provided to all navigators who have not yet transitioned to the use of the infinitely more convenient and inexpensive handheld GPS devices.

My Own Experience with Geocentric Parallax

In 1966, as we prepared for a 4.00am local time take off from Wake Island, heading to Guam, the pre-flight revealed that our APN-9 LORAN(5) was broken. The APN-9 LORAN is perhaps good for 150 miles near an island under ideal conditions, but that can be critical if one is looking for an island from an 8,000 foot altitude. Islands usually pop into sight about 30 miles out. The LORAN is the somewhat inappropriately named 'Long range Over water Aid to Navigation'. In 1966 the 'Long' part of the name was certainly optimistic.
I told the pilot not to worry, since this would be an ideal day for celestial navigation without the APN-9 and both the sun and the moon would be up. My first sun/moon fix about three hours after takeoff placed us 75 nautical miles off track. I checked the drift meter and saw none of the whitecaps which might have indicated a strong but unanticipated crosswind. There was no evidence of a compass malfunction because both the autopilot's gyroscopic compass and whiskey compass agreed, so I concluded that there must be an error in my celestial LOPs from the sun and moon and we continued to 'dead reckon' and head in the original planned direction.

All of my measurements for the next four hours showed us being about 75 miles off course. I decided to ignore them. I was eventually glad to see the island, exactly dead ahead and about 20 miles out, rather than open ocean. I remembered much later that day after privately reviewing my manuals that the moon is so close to the Earth that it needs a special correction called the parallax correction. On this day, the parallax correction makes for a 75-mile mistake.

Amelia Earhart and Parallax

Amelia's navigator, Fred Noonan (6), should have been relying on sun/moon celestial 'fixes' during the last hours of the 2,556 statute mile flight to (or toward) Howland Island on 2 July, 1937.

Amelia and Fred had been flying though the night toward dawn (7). Fred should have had good celestial observations from stars and later the sun and moon (8).The sun rose near Howland 6.10am local time (Howland had an 11.5 hour time difference from GMT), about two hours before Amelia was due at (and still about 300 miles away from) Howland. The last quarter-moon rose at 12.18am. The moon transited overhead and about 20 degrees to the south at 7.01am and set at 12.43pm local time. Fred would certainly have used both the sun and moon (9). Both celestial bodies were available, it was an historic flight, the first of its type, and Fred would not have ignored the moon in the early daylight morning hours almost directly overhead (and to the south) or the sun rising in the east nearly dead ahead while making the final three-hour run into Howland. Fred probably got a several final fixes that morning using both bodies.

As Fred and Amelia approached Howland island after a gruelling 21-hour flight from Lae City in New Guinea, her last words indicated that she was at 1,000 feet (one explanation for flying that low would be to get under the scattered cumulus clouds while searching for a small island)(10) and running on a line (157-337) north and south. This researcher's theory is that Fred, clouds permitting, would have had a shot at the sun in the east and the moon in the south and would have been able to get a set of perfectly crossed lines of position any time after sunrise from those two bodies. However, Fred would have been relying on the moon for the course line and parallax error could have caused him to veer off course enough to miss the island by a fairly large margin. It is certain that, as Fred approached where he thought Howland should be, heading east, he failed to see the island appear where his sun/moon observation and dead reckoning indicated that it should be. Fred must have logically assumed that they had missed the island to the north or south. Amelia then began her run on a line 'north and south' hoping Howland would come into view.

The Electra used by Amelia had a speed of about 150 MPH and an endurance about 24 hours(11). The flight from Lae to Howland was 2,556 miles. In this researcher's view, it is totally improbable that Amelia would have agreed to add over six hours(12) to the flight by diverting to over-fly Truk to make clandestine photographs of Japanese military installations for the American military, as some conspiracy theory enthusiasts have suggested(13).

While she was alive, she was celebrated for what she accomplished and for what her example meant to women and aviation. Once she was presumed missing, Amelia Earhart the role model for women was increasingly replaced by Amelia Earhart the lost aviator, and attention was shifted away from her strongly articulated feminism to speculation about the circumstances of her fateful last flight.
- Susan Ware, Amelia Earhart and the Search for Modern Feminism, 1993, p206

Earhart's Electra had a new radio direction finder but Amelia was not trained on the use of the new RDF and failed to use it effectively. Her additional inability to receive voice messages may have been caused by damage on takeoff.Here is a link to a takeoff video, which may show the belly mounted voice antenna breaking off on takeoff. These critical problems, combined with the scattered cloud cover, low cloud bases, very small island, sun in the eyes, possibly inaccurate charts, lack of an alternate landing site, crew exhaustion, a possible hangover (14), an inadequate fuel reserve, no autopilot to maintain a consistent track. (15) and Fred's possible parallax correction error, certainly resulted in enough cumulative issues to kill the crew several times over.

Research Footnotes

1 The Executive Director of TIGHAR, which has expended great energy on this investigation, states: "That parallax was a causal, or at least contributing, factor in the Earhart disappearance is an interesting but, unfortunately, untestable hypothesis. The same could be said for any number of theories about observational or computational errors that Noonan could have made. The indisputable fact would seem to be that an error or errors of some kind were made."

2 A parsec is a unit of astronomical length based on the distance from Earth at which stellar parallax is one second of arc and equal to 3.258 light-years, 30,860,000,000,000 kilometres, or 19,180,000,000,000 miles. Assuming that a highly modified Pontiac is good for 100,000 miles of travel, it will require about 200 million Pontiacs to drive one parsec and the driver will still be a light year short of the nearest star.

3 American Captain Thomas H Sumner invented the concept of a celestial line of position, while bobbing about in intermittent fog and very rough seas in the St George channel between Ireland and Wales in 1837. The new concept conveniently occurred to him in a flash of genius and allowed him to head into port in terrible conditions. Some experts wonder why it took so long for humans to discover this simple trick and put it to work.

4 The nautical mile is a result of the size of the Earth. By convention, the Earth is divided into 180 degrees from pole to pole. Each degree is divided into 60 minutes and a minute is a nautical mile.

5 LORAN was invented by British boffins. The APN-9 was introduced into American B-29 bombers during the war. The APN-9 was still being used on some older USAF cargo aircraft in 1966 during the Vietnam conflict.

6 Mary S Lovell, the Sound of Wings (1989, p272) indicates that Fred was an almost pedantic navigator who planned the Lae takeoff at 00:00 GMT for ease of celestial calculations. However, some believe that the 00.00 GMT takeoff only a coincidence since it had been rescheduled several times due to an inability to get an accurate time check. Lovell states that Fred three chronometers on the flight. However, Lae maintenance records indicate that there might only have been one (three seconds slow upon time check).

7 The Lockheed Electra model 10E departed Lae at precisely 10.00am local on 2 July, 1937. It crossed the international dateline and made its last transmission two time zones and one day earlier at 8.42am, also on 2 July, 1937. If they had been heading East to West, 2 July would never have happened for them on many levels, in this researcher's opinion.
8 Reports from Howland Island indicate that there were fairly normal weather conditions. Scattered cumulus with bases at about 2,300 feet. The Itasca Commander wrote the following summary of radio log transmissions from Amelia at 2.45am local: '...cloudy and overcast.' Again at 3.45am: '..Earhart to Itasca, overcast.' However, the actual radio logs do not indicate the word overcast.

9 My own 1938 edition of Bowditch's American Practical Navigator states that 'Many times during daylight a position line with the moon makes an excellent cut with the sun' (p. 212). Page 384 contains the parallax correction tables. Did Fred refer to them?

10 The Itasca's Captain to concluded that Amelia would have seen Baker Island if she was off to the southeast so he began his search to the northwest of Howland.

11 The TIGHAR Executive Director states: 'Earhart flight-planned the airplane at 150 mph and its expected endurance with the 1,100 US gallon fuel load it had upon departure from Lae was a little over 24 hours (computed according to Lockheed Report No. 487 "Range Study of Lockheed Electra Bimotor Airplane" by C.L. Johnson and W.C. Nelson, dated June 4, 1936).'..

12 The total distance From Lae City to Truk to Howland island is 3,250 statute miles, compared with 2,556 statute miles when flying direct from Lae.

13 Randall Brink, Lost Star: The Search for Amelia Earhart, 1994, suggests that Amelia's Electra was heavily modified by Clarence L (Kelly) Johnson in the Lockheed 'skunkworks' to add speed, altitude and range. (The Lockheed 'skunkworks' is generally credited with producing numerous high-performance aircraft, including the U-2, the SR-71 'Blackbird' and F 117 stealth fighter.) He suggests that Amelia was captured by the Japanese and became one of the voices of Tokyo Rose, a rumour which circulated among Pacific theatre Gls in 1943. A disturbing picture in his book shows an emaciated woman who appears to be Amelia. Brink claims the photograph was taken by a Saipan native in 1937. He also quotes workmen at Lockheed who claim to have installed high-resolution military cameras on the Electra.

14 Mary S Lovell, The Sound of Wings, 1989, p270, describes a petulant drinking binge by Fred in Lae. However, the Executive Director of TIGHAR states that there is no historical evidence to support Fred drinking on Lae or elsewhere. He believes that Lovell's comments are based on a single interview decades later. My own experience was that pilots and navigators of my day often drank to excess.

15 Amelia was able to leave her seat during the long flight but sometimes passed notes to Fred using an improvised bamboo fishing rod when he was in the rear navigator's compartment. The Electra had an autopilot and Fred was also a pilot who spent much of his time in the copilots chair. They were both able to climb over interior fuel tanks to reach a rear lavatory, in case you were wondering.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Kenai Peninsula

Halibut and Salmon Fishing in Alaska

Alaska is a place of unparallelled beauty. Parts of Alaska extend past the 180 meridian making it the furthest western, eastern and northern state in the USA. There are few roads and travel to most of the state is still accomplished only by small plane or boat and sometimes by dog sled or snowmobile.

The waters of the Gulf of Alaska, including the Aleutian chain and Pribilof islands, are nourished by deep ocean upwelling which provides rich nutrients to plankton that in turn support a rich and complex food chain of sea life including seabirds like the puffin and marine mammals such as whales, sea otters , seals and walrus.

Although Alaska is a huge place, if you like to fish, raft, dig for clams, hike and enjoy spectacular scenery (including snowcapped mountains, fjords, glaciers and exotic wildlife) consider renting a car in Anchorage and spend several summer weeks in the Kenai peninsula only an hour to the south. Traffic is light and the natives are few but friendly. The main Kenai destinations are Whittier, Hope, Seward, Soldatna, Girdwood and Homer . The Kenai peninsula is adjacent to the spectacular Cook inlet, ringed by snow-covered volcanoes. This area was explored by Captain Cook, accompanied by a young William Bligh. Cook was searching for a northwest passage.

Alaska National Maritime Wildlife Refuge

The Alaska Maritime Wildlife Refuge covers 2,500 islands, four time zones, nearly 47,000 miles (76,000 km) of shoreline and a distance east to west of about 3,000 miles (5,000 km).

The refuge headquarters and extensive exhibits of living seabirds, seals and other marine mammals are in Homer, Alaska on coast of the Kenai peninsula. Homer is also famous for Halibut fishing. It is not uncommon to land a 300-pound (140kg) Halibut and these may reach a size of 1,000 pounds (450kg) or more. Halibut over 100 pounds (45kg) are usually voluntarily released as a conservation measure and steps are now underway to limit Halibut catches by charter boat captains to the 1999 levels to insure the continued future health of this species.

The refuge provides a vast and rich feeding ground for salmon during their years at sea before they return to spawn.

Overview of Fishing Regulations

Take some time to study the local customs and fishing rules before going fishing. For example, Alaskans believe that when you intend to release a fish, you should take care to avoid handling it or removing it from the water. Handling a fish removes the slimy covering and makes them susceptible to bacteria.

Where and when fishing is allowed, permitted baits and fishing techniques and daily 'emergency orders' are posted online and updated each day. Alaskans believe that tourism and fishing species conservation are closely related. The emergency orders1 may close certain types of fishing, some places to fish or they may double bag limits if there are too many fish entering the rivers or streams. Non-residents that purchase fishing licence are expected to record their catch and return the licence by 30 November. Usually the local tackle shop where licences are sold can provide helpful current information.

The Alaska Fish and Game Department monitors 15,000 streams and rivers and offshore waters on over 47,000 miles (76,000 km) of coastline. Salmon entering rivers from the sea are carefully monitored by sonar. This information is updated daily on their website and decisions to expand or contact fishing limits is delegated to local Fish and Game officers. The Coast Guard also vigilantly patrols the Aleutian chain of islands to prevent fishing by commercial boats of other nations.

Salmon Life Cycles

Salmon begin life as a fertilised egg deposited in gravel in a stream bed. Salmon life cycles are anadromous which means that they are born in fresh water, feed and grow there for a year or two then undergo a morphological change which adapts them to sea water. They roam and feed at sea for a few years and then mysteriously navigate back to their home stream or hatchery to spawn and die. A 40-pound (18kg) female king may contain 5,500 pea sized eggs (roe), weighing up to 5 pounds (about 2kg). Curiously, where and when such bait is permitted, king roe attached to a lure is the bait of choice for king salmon.

Five Types of Salmon

Alaska has five types of salmon. These are the coho or silver, chinook or king, chum, pink, and sockeye or red. Salmon farming in Alaska was prohibited in 1990 to protect the wild salmon population. Farmed salmon tastes fatty and carry diseases to the wild population. They tend to suffocate in their own feces, which is an unappetizing thought.

The king (chinook) salmon is highly prized by sport fishermen for its size, growing to nearly 100 pounds (45kg), but the sockeye or red is most sought after for its taste because of its dark colour, high fat content and firm flesh. Chum is the most available salmon but it does not travel well and most of it ends up in cans. The silver (coho) is the most aggressive and will attack nearly any type of lure.

There are other salmonoid species such as the steelhead trout that have a characteristic salmon taste and colour. Semelparous species, such as salmon, spawn once in a lifetime and immediately and die. Steelheads and other iteroparous species can spawn several times.

Often precocious immature salmon return to spawn while they are very small - 2 to 4 pounds (1kg to 2kg) for a king. These are called jacks or jennies depending on sex. Jacks and jennies may be kept and eaten without counting as part of the daily bag limit.

Fishing for Kings on the Kenai River

The Kenai river is the place to catch kings in Alaska. The largest ten kings ever recorded all came from the Kenai river near Soldotna. The largest so far was over 97 pounds (44kg). The way to catch kings is to hire a local guide and fish from a drift boat. Some guides use outboard engines and others row against the strong current. You should use a guide who has an outboard because the kings enter the river on the rising 30-foot (9-metre) tide and the local guides know where the kings will be on an hourly basis. The rowboats have a problem with mobility in the strong current.

The local guide will provide bait and tackle. Kings average 20 to 40 pounds (9kg to 18kg). After landing one you must immediately record it on your licence and cease fishing for the rest of the day. Kings must be hooked in the mouth. Snagged or 'foul-hooked' kings must be released. You may also land smaller 3-pound (1.4 kg) 'jacks' or 3-pound 'rainbow trout'. These will taste very good on the grill the same evening.

The time to fish for salmon is during the summer when they swarm upriver to spawn and die.

The Seldovia Bay Enhancement Project

The village of Seldovia can be reached by spectacular 20-mile (32 km) water taxi ride from Homer. Things to do there include hiking, a great ice cream parlour where you can do laundry and a restaurant that also offers customers a large selection of used books to read. There are interesting bed and breakfasts there and you could consider booking a halibut fishing charter at the docks.

The Seldovia salmon enhancement project involved releasing king and red spawn into a tiny stream that runs though the Seldovia village. The mature salmon have no place to spawn when they return and are easy pickings for bald eagles, bears and native Americans in the shallow stream.

The Salmon begin to run upstream in bunches with the incoming 30-foot (9-metre) tide as the stream changes from a downstream trickle to a raging reversed river twice each day. Although it is considered to be a bit like 'mugging', this is one of the few places where one can simply cast a weighted triple gang hook (after 13 June) and snag and reel in a delicious 10-pound (4.5kg) red after a fierce struggle. The remote village stream is not crowded by fishermen and it is interesting to watch the village children land these even if you choose not to fish. If you will be fishing you will need to pack a rod and a spinning reel with perhaps a 20-pound (9kg) test line. Weighted triple-gang hooks can be purchased on the Homer Spit, but buy several because you will snag the bottom. Bring waders and polarised sunglasses. Begin watching for fish to snag when the children start to congregate at the bridge on the incoming tide.

Combat Fishing

Another way to catch salmon on the Kenai is combat fishing . In June and July the aggressive silvers run 40 miles (64km) up the murky blue Kenai river and then dart into the clear Russian river at their confluence near the village of Coopers Landing. To catch salmon by fly fishing it is best to see them rather than merely 'flogging the water' with your fly. Polarised glasses and wading boots are necessary. Polarised sunglasses employ a magical trick to bend light waves and permit fishermen to see fish passing underwater by cutting surface glare. Keep your lunch on your back to keep the bears from raiding it so that you do not need to enter the water above the height of your waders to avoid the bears.

The reason this type of salmon fishing is called combat fishing is that the fly fishermen stand almost shoulder-to-shoulder and manage to hook each other an average of 500 times each season. You will notice ambulances standing by to transport freshly hooked fishermen as you pass by this popular fishing spot on the nearby road or raft past from nearby Coopers Landing.

Halibut Fishing from Homer

Lift weights for six months before you go Halibut fishing from Homer or Seldovia and only go on the half-day trips. These only cost half as much and everyone catches their limit (two halibut) before the half day is over anyway. The hard part is deciding what to release and what to keep. The halibut bite as quickly as your bait hits the bottom and anything less than 20 pounds (9kg) or over 100 pounds (45kg) should probably go back in the water. Keep out a chunk to make grilled halibut in the evening.

Travel Tips

Alaska has a very short tourism season and accommodations, rental cars, meals and activities tend to be pricey. It is probably wise to book your accommodations long in advance because they are limited and tend to fill up. Many lodging facilities offer use of outdoor gas grills where you can cook part of your fresh catch. has a chat room where you can ask questions and get recommendations from other travellers. Go frequent flyer if you can, but try to book your flight twelve months in advance before all the seats are taken. Buy a cheap styrofoam cooler upon arrival and keep it stocked with ice, sandwich makings, water and breakfast snacks. A 2-for-1 Alaska coupon book is available for about $100 which offers half-price accommodation, horseback riding, raft trips, fishing guides, glacier cruises and charter boat fishing trips. The coupon book is well worth the cost and may help your trip planning and budget. A good Atlas of Alaska with large scale topographic maps can be purchased online and will be useful for locating hiking trails and assessing the difficulty of the terrain.

Bringing it all Back Home

Homer and Soldanta offer a variety of fish processing options for the traveller. It costs an average of a little over a dollar (the local currency) to have a filleted pound (454g) of fish flash-frozen and vacuum packed in one-pound fillets. For a few dollars more per pound a portion of your fresh catch can be smoked. These companies will Fed-Ex your frozen fish back home in a special container on a day of your choice. Another option is to fly your own fish back in a cooler with frozen gel packs. This is considerably less expensive. Consider packing your clothing and a cloth travel bag in your cooler on the way over and fill the cooler with frozen fish and gel packs on the way back. This will save the cost of purchasing a good cooler at Alaska prices. Check with your airline for weight limits and surcharges for checked baggage.

Fish recipes

Fish recipes are almost as plentiful as fish. Here are two simple recipes you could try on the outdoor gas grill in your Alaska bed and breakfast.

Grilled Fresh Alaska Salmon

½ stick melted butter
Garlic powder
1 pound (454g) salmon fillet
Preheat the grill to high heat. Brush meat side of the salmon with the butter. Place the salmon on the grill, on an piece of aluminum foil and close lid. After about six minutes, baste again and sprinkle on garlic powder cook for about 8 more minutes or until fish flakes with fork. Do not overcook.

To Accompany:
Alaskan wild berries (in season) or defrosted frozen blueberries from the local market
Small red potatoes wrapped in tinfoil and cooked on the grill with butter - do not begin to cook fish until these begin to soften
Choose your own wine - Washington State semmillion or Oregon Riesling

Grilled Fresh Alaska 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 is also nice if there are indoor cooking facilities
Choose your own wine - French white Burgundy or California Chardonnay?


Emergency Orders and In-season Regulation Changes: An Emergency Order has been issued to raise the Kenai River bag and possession limits for salmon 16 inches (40cm) or longer, other than king salmon, from three (3) per day and three in possession to six per day and six in possession in all portions of the Kenai River open to salmon fishing except in the Russian River.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Epiphanies I have Known

Definition of epiphany:

  1. 1. January 6:  observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ

  1. 2:  an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being
  2. 3a (1) :  a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) :  an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3) :  an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosureb :  a revealing scene or moment.
So, my first epiphany was 1965, 52 years ago. I parked my new British Green TR4-A convertible on Sausalito Beach in San Francisco and walked hand-in-hand with Mrs. Phred in the sunshine along the beach. She was 21 and a beauty and we were in love. Suddenly it came to me, like a diamond in the brain.."life will never be better than this".

My second lifetime epiphany came to me today at the Sun-N-Fun bar. I was using the Iphone to listen to the Led Zeppelin channel on Jango (Led Zeppelin. Queen, Hendrix, etc.), taking pictures of my drink, ordering replacement New Balance 623 size 12 tennis shoes from Amazon, reading financial analyses about common stocks, sending out disparaging e-mails about the Trumpster and reading Kindle books while knocking back too much dark rum. 

It came to me like a second diamond to the brain....Steve Jobs, so far, is the greatest innovator of the 21st century and perhaps  has outstripped Robert Oppenheimer (who merely oversaw the invention of the atomic bomb in the 20th) in importance. Of course, Nikola Tesla of the 19th century overshadows them both IMHO.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017


"Who so ever asks me of my birth...
I will tell them I am born of Irish Princes who ruled in Donegal
a thousand years ago; that I am descended from the High Kings of Ireland,
and my name is from the Clann ÓDochartaigh!"

This notable surname is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "O'Dochartaigh", descendant of Dochartach, a personal byname meaning "Hurtful, Injurious". 

Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes, revered elders, or some illustrious warrior, and are usually prefixed by "Mac" denoting "son of", and "O", grandson, male descendant of. 

 By the 14th Century the O'Dochartaigh chiefs had extended their territory till they became Lords of Inishowen, and their headquarters was on the Inishowen Peninsula. 

The power of the O'Dohertys was greatly reduced following the ill-timed rebellion of 1608 led by Sir Cahir O'Doherty, and several of the clan fled to Scotland, the Isle of Man, and England, where the name was variously Anglicized as Do(u)gherty, Daughterty, Docherty and Docharty. 

The family Coat of Arms is a silver shield with a red stag springing, on a green chief three mullets of the first. 

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Donnall O'Dochartaigh, which was dated 1119, in the "Manx Names", by A. W. Moore, during the reign of Turlough Mor O'Conor, High King of Ireland, 1119 - 1156. 

Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to an astonishing 140 variants (or more) of the original spelling.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Visit from a Grandson

Taylor is on Spring break from law school so he came south to visit all his grandparents.

We're in the RV so he slept on our table with no complaints.

I showed him "Jacob's ladder" and he showed me an equally creepy movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal called "Enemy".

Jake has become one of my favorites after watching "Danny Darko" and "Nightcrawler".

We took Taylor to the Ringling Circus and Art Museum and had lunch there.

Taylor and Bob relaxing below at the Ringling Mansion.

Another exhibit at the Circus museum.