Sunday, July 23, 2017

Offshore Adventures - The Sinking

It was my first project for a major oil company. I joined them after several years with other companies so I had some experience with working offshore but sometimes the unexpected happens. We were laying a pipeline in about 200 feet of water and I was on board as the project engineer. We had a spell of bad weather and had to drop the pipe and head in to shallower water where we anchored for the night. Our tug boat was tied off to us and streaming with the current. It was nice to have the luxury of a full nights sleep so I turned in and fell asleep to the rocking of the barge.

I got up the next morning and, as was my habit, took a look outside to check the weather and activity.

Something was missing.

"Where is the tug?" I asked a deckhand that was loitering on the rail. "It sank." he replied. Thinking that this was just his way of hazing the new engineer, I kept a straight face and went to the galley for coffee.

And there I saw four very wet and bedraggled looking guys that had been the tug boat crew.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Project Creep

Most managers know project creep. I am dealing with it now. It started when our 34 year old electric, downdraft cook top died. Dead short in the electrical system. Of course there was no way a current cook top was going to drop into the same space. That lead to the decision to pull the base cabinet and replace it with a gas range. Problem is there was no gas line or a vent hood.

We ended up having to run a dedicated circuit for the vent hood. Luckily, we were able to use an existing air conditioning fir down to put the vent piping in next to the air con duct. Luck number 2 was being able to use the old chase for the downdraft vent for the new gas feed. The house was pretty crazy for a few days while workmen cut and banged away to bring in the new hook ups while we waited for delivery of the new range. My big concern was getting it into the kitchen as we needed to make two 90 degree turns around the center island to get it into place. I made a cardboard cut out of the range and made several dry runs with my paper doll cut out testing how it could make the turns.

Short story is that, although the delivery guys were inexperienced, my contractor arrived with some moving dollys and we successfully negotiated the turns to get it in place.

Now this work, triggered by a necessity, is leading to a kitchen remodel including new cabinet doors and counter tops.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

PT 305

The PT 305 is afloat near Lakefront Airport (KNEW). She has been named "USS Sudden Jerk". This was the name given to her by her plank owner crew after she had a jolt during a docking maneuver. She is available for deck tours and for rides if you are a recent lottery winner. This is the only operational combat veteran PT boat. She is credited with sinking 2 German lighter barges in the Mediterranean. The deck tour lasts 45 minutes and gives a detailed description of her operation and weapons systems.

About 20% of her is original. She was rebuilt over a period 10 years to her original design specs and construction techniques. She survived because the Navy brought European Theater PT boats back to the US in preparation for sending them to the Pacific. After the war she was a tour boat and an oyster dragger.


The wheel is an original wheel. Andrew Higgins, who built these boats, gave it to a friend from his surplus stock after the war and he displayed it on his mantle for years. As soon as he died, his wife, who hated it, donated it to the museum


Points for anyone who can identify this instrument.


It was tight quarters for her crew of 11.


Torpedo launch was roll off, not from a launcher. Deck rails are a modern safety requirement and not part of the original kit.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Book Review - Dragon Teeth

Michael Crichton fans may rejoice over this novel......or not. This is a manuscript that was discovered after his death and has recently been published. In typical Crichton style, he mixes reality and science with fiction.The plot concerns a young Yale student  who goes to the west with an expedition to look for dinosaur bones in 1876. This was a period that was called the "bone wars" because of the rivalry between fossil hunters and our character is in the middle of it. The problem is that this book lacks the typical suspense one sees in a Crichton novel. The writing style is more typical of Robert Parker in his western novels. The pace is slow and while our protagonists meets with danger and various real characters of the era, there is no sense of suspense. I suspect Crichton fans will be disappointed.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Rows and Rows of Racing Cars

The Cite de l'Automobile has a section of nothing but race cars. They range from the early days to recent F1 cars. All of these cars have a history and have won races while driven by famous drivers. 






Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Kilchoman Machir Bay

My wife and I were in one of our favorite Paris restaurants and were expecting the arrival of our 20 year old grandson the next day. We were texting with him and learned that his flight out of NOLa was delayed and he would have 20 minutes to make the connection in Atlanta. We were therefore a little stressed and I wanted something a little stronger. Our waiter brought me a glass of Kilchoman.

Kilchoman (pronounced Kil-ho-man) is the first distillery to be build on Islay in 125 years. It is also one of the smallest distilleries. It is based on a farm where it grows it's own barley and also practices floor malting. As it was built in 2005, their scotch has not had time to mature as long as other established distilleries. They offer 10 different scotches where the key difference is the type of barrel they are aged in.

Color: Pale
Nose: Peaty
Palate: Slight burn on the tongue, thin
Finish: Warm

The scotches from this distillery have won several awards but after looking up some pricing I think they are over rated and over priced. They need more time in the barrel to mature. It may take another 5 to 10 years before they have a scotch I would like to drink.

PS. He made the flight.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Book Review - Little White Lies

I have said before that Ace Atkins is very good at emulating Robert Parker's writing style and this book is a great example. Spenser is hired to find a con man that stole several hundred thousand dollars from his fiance. The search leads him into a web of murder, gun running and evangelist preachers. Hawk is back and plays a prominent role in the investigation. if I say anything more about the story, I would be giving away some of the plot twists. Get it and read for yourself.