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.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Balvenie Double Wood 12 Year Old

Balvenie is a Speyside distillery that prides itself on its hand crafting. For example, they turn the malt by hand. The 12 year old is one of their lower grades from their wide range of about 20 whiskys, some as old as 50 years old. This whiskey is aged in 2 types of barrels. It spends at least 12 years in American oak bourbon casks and is then transferred to Spanish oak sherry casks for another 9 months. The result is a very smooth and drinkable whiskey at a reasonable price.

Color: Medium amber
Nose: Sweet with sherry notes
Palate: Smooth and mellow
Finish: Long and warming

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Head Count

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia beheaded 8 criminals during May. It was split 50/50 between murderers and drug charges and brings their year to date total to 33.

The month of June should be another low count as Ramadan has started and Islams likes to show mercy during this period.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017

Les Fleurs de la Memoire

This Memorial Day it seems appropriate to tell you about an organization in France that honors those who rest in the American Cemetery in Normandy. French citizens volunteer to put flowers on the grave of an adopted soldier. They commit to do this at least once per year and they hand down that obligation to their descendants. You can read about the organization here.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Mystery Motorcycle

The Cite de l'Automobile has a section of childrens pedal cars known as The Jammet Collection. Included in the exhibit was this motorcycle. It appears to be a gas engine motorcycle but it's child size. It's listed as a 1955 Harley Davidson but the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee(I contacted them) does not have any information that H-D manufactured any toy sized motorcycles. Anybody know what it might be?


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Artist's Car

Paul Arzens (1903 - 1990) was a French artist with a passion for automobiles. He designed the two cars below. The "Whale" had a large trunk and he carried his art supplies in it when going to location. The "Egg" was his design for an electric compact car. He gained some notoriety for his designs of locomotives for the French rail company SNCF.




Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review - Golden Prey

This is the 27th in the "Prey" series.Lucas Davenport is now a US Marshall although the service is not quite sure where he fits and is a little upset that he was appointed to the position. He is on the hunt for a fugitive that is known for large scale robberies that include indiscriminate killings. In the latest, he has ripped off a large sum of money from a drug deal killing everyone in the process, including a child. The Marshalls want him but the drug dealers are after him as well. They have hired a contract killer and a torturer to find him. These two commit a series of brutal murders to gain information and seem to be one step ahead of Lucas.

This book has non stop action and introduces two new characters to team up with Lucas. Highly recommended and one of the best of the series.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Two Mercs

First we present the classic gull wing.


And this one may not be so familiar. Hitler had a contest to design the "people car". We all know that Ferdinand Porsche won that contest and gave us the VW. This was the Mercedes offering.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Cite de l'Automobile

Cite de l'Automobile is the largest car museum in the world with over 400 vehicles on display. It is located in the town of Mulhouse near the Swiss border. It was started by Fritz Schlumpf who made, and lost, a fortune in the wool industry after WW 2. His passion was car collecting. He had a 40 man shop that reconditioned his cars. His hobby was too much of a drain on his business and he was in financial trouble. His private collection was unknown until striking workers broke into the building in 1977 and found the cars. He had to liquidate his collection to pay off his debts. France now owns the cars. This collection has the largest number of Bugattis in one location.

I tried to take pictures of some unique cars that included the description. 





This is a rear view of the Tatra. It had a rear mounted air cooled 3 liter V8. Because of it's aerodynamics, it got almost 19 mpg.







Friday, May 19, 2017

Bugatti - Type 57

Under the sheet metal view. 710 Type 57s were produced from 1934 to 1940. The sheet metal covering the frame was changed to produce several variants. This example was at the Cite des Automobile as part of the Schlumpf Collection in Mulhouse, France. A twin OHC straight 8 engine produced 135 HP giving it a top speed of 95 MPH.




Thursday, May 18, 2017

Le Bourget - Post WW2 Military

This area has military aircraft from post WW 2. Plane spotters may see some familiar profiles. I was struck with the T6. evidently the French air force used them for spotting.






Friday, May 12, 2017

Alfa Romeo


15th and 16th Century German Firearms

Note the carved ivory powder flasks and inlay work. Guns were pretty then.





These are in the Musee de Beaux Arts in Dijon, France.

For the Sparkies

This is Ampere's apartment on Rue Monge.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017