Friday, August 25, 2017

Offshore Adventures - The Ferry

I was laying a pipeline in the shallow waters of Mobile Bay. We were using conventional bucket dredges on cranes sitting on barges to dig the trench and we were storing the dredge spoil in temporary piles along the route.

When the phone rings late at night it is never good news. "We knocked out the ferry", was the message I got and I was quickly on the road.

The Mobile Bay Ferry is link between the southern sides of the bay and is quite busy in the summer. Our construction was causing him to deviate from his normal route and it was taking him a little longer per trip. The captain decided to take a short cut but, unfortunately, it was over one of our spoil piles and he didn't have the depth he needed. The ferry propulsion is from 2 thruster pods that have vertical drive shafts (like an outboard motor) but they can swivel 360 degrees. They hang below the hull and the lower section is designed to break away in the event of a collision. It functioned as advertised when the ferry ran into our spoil pile.

Needless to say, things were a little tense for a while and it took several days for the ferry to get his replacement shaft.

Thursday, August 24, 2017


This is the NOAA 7 day rain totals predicted for Hurricane Harvey. I sure hope that New Orleans gets their pumps working soon. But I guess it was more important to remove statues than maintain the pumping system.

[Image of WPC QPF U.S. rainfall potential]

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Head Count

I have been remiss in keeping you up to date with the Head Count. his is probably because the KSA did not execute anybody in June due to Ramadan. Not to worry they made up for it in July by beheading 30 people - a number almost equal to their previous 5 months. Year to date total now stands at 63.

Book Review - Dawn of Infamy

I've enjoyed books by Stephen Harding before and this story about a long forgotten ship sinking on December 7, 1941 caught my attention. The story is about a small freighter carrying a load of lumber to Hawaii that was sunk within minute of the attack on Pearl Harbor and may have preceded the actual attack there. The ship sank without a trace and the crew vanished. What happened to them is one of the mysteries of the war.

Unfortunately, Harding goes into too much detail and turns what could have been in intriguing mystery into a long slog of details. He devotes the first 100 pages to a history of the vessel, it's various owners, details of the military contract under which it operated and biographies of each crew member no matter how trivial. He then describes the sinking in a few pages and follows that with the personal stories of the families who tried to recover insurance.

He ends with a series of speculations as what happened but falls back on the obvious - a crew in life boats on the open ocean have a good chance of dying from starvation and will likely be lost forever.

If you are really into the minutia of a small side issue to Pearl Harbor, you may enjoy this but I did not.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Book Review - The Late Show

Michael Connelly has developed a new character and she is awesome. Renee Ballard is a surfer/detective who is assigned to the night shift as the result of a harassment claim. She works by night and then paddle boards and sleeps in a tent on the beach during the day. She is following two cases. One was the beating of a transgendered man and the other is a mass shooting at a night club. She has a prickly personality and most other cops don't want to work with her as she tests the edge of the envelope of the police department regulations. Think of her as Bosch with a tan and surf board.

This book reads like an instruction manual for navigating the police system in LA and it will hold you attention. Another excellent read by Michael Connelly.

Friday, August 11, 2017

New Shooter Report

Youngest grandson is entering 8th grade. He is joining NJROTC. They have a rifle team and he went yesterday for his first practice shoot. (They use air rifles but then so does the Olympics) He has never fired a rifle before except for Nerf guns. He outscored everyone else and scored a 10 ring in the offhand position. I think we have a natural.

P.S. - His great grandfather was part of the cadre at this same school back in the 40s.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Review - The Fallen

Ace Atkins is back with his latest Quinn Colson novel. Quinn is back as sheriff. He has to deal with a band of bank robbers in Trump masks hitting the local banks with military precision and his sister is stirring up the local underground by trying to find 2 young girls who may be victims of human trafficking.

As you may know, Ace ghost writes the Spenser series since Robert Parker died. He was a journalist in Tampa before he started writing books in 1998.

This book is not very suspenseful but the story will keep you interested. It's worth a read.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


It's not often that I recommend a show on TV but "Ozark" is one. A Netflix production in 10 episodes, it stars Jason Bateman and Laura Linney. Bateman plays an accountant who was laundering money for a drug cartel. When his partner was caught skimming and he had to talk fast to avoid being killed. His deal was to move to Lake of the Ozarks where he told the cartel boss he could easily launder millions plus pay back the money his partner stole.

But Missouri has a group of colorful characters that can be as dangerous as the cartel and he has to negotiate these people and a rogue FBI agent all while dealing with an unfaithful wife and teenage problems. It is thoroughly entertaining.