Monday, September 21, 2009

Sep 21, Astoria: Ships, bananas, raccoons

The Hickson, an ocean-going survey vessel home-ported in Astoria, Oregon It was gorgeous this morning, with wind on the river churning up whitecaps and cooling the air. We're supposed to have a warm day today (low 80s) and a hot day tomorrow (88 degrees). Anyway, it was wonderful out when I took this photo. It's always interesting to find out what the various ships and boats are about that pass by here - there are so many, and they come in such variety. The boat in this photo is the Hickson, "Portland District's ocean going survey vessel home ported at Astoria, Oregon." It carries state-of-the-art equipment for surveying the bottom of rivers and bays along the Oregon coast i the "dynamically acrtive reaches of the navigation channels." You can read more details about it in this PDF file.

Choppy water, nice breeze.

This next ship is the Essayons. The lettering on it says, "Essayons, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army."

It looks like it's fitted out to do some heavy-duty work. I guess it should, it's a dredge. Here's another photo of it from above. Interesting. It has a helipad at the back. Along with the Yaquina, it's one of two hopper dredges that keep the Columbia River shipping channel open. On a web page that was updated in 2005, it says, "The Dredge Essayons is the latest dredge to be built for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Delivered to the Portland District in 1983, the Essayons helps to maintain the entrance bars and harbors on the coasts of California, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska." It has a crew of 23, who work one week on and one week off. A lot of the operation of the ship (such as the engine room) is automated. Well, OK. I learned something :)

It was nice on the back deck last night, so I went out there with my camera, fiddling with the flash and nighttime exposure. It would help if I read about it, but I can't seem to learn much from the pamphlet that comes with the camera. I should really figure it out. It just seems so obtusely written. The spot of light under the catwalk is from a window of the pilots' building. The tide is way out, and that's probably mud, but it's close to where the water line was at the time.

Yes, there is something here. If you click on it, you'll see boards and an old tire in the mud. And a banana I dropped. I'm glad it wasn't my cell phone. I think about that a lot when I'm standing near a rail and talking. They used to have hand straps on phones, but no, now you can't get them that way. They're made slick and shiny and SLIPPERY. Why, I don't know. I'm surprised I haven't dropped mine more than I have. Knock on wood. I do try to be careful, but . . . you know? Things happen. Just try to find a case with a stap on it. Not happening.

I promise, the banana looked much better before I dropped it. And no, I didn't try to get it back. I hoped maybe the raccoons would come by and eat it. I hear them sometimes at low tide, and I've seen them on occasion. Apparenlty they dig for clams and dig worms out of the pilings. A couple of times lately after dark when the tide has been out, I've heard a wave crashing in, caused by the wake of the pilot boat or a ship maybe, and simultaneously the screeches of several surprised and angry raccoons. I wonder if I could see them at work if I got the right kind of light? Or would it require infra-red?

Here's the deck at night.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mysteries and reflections

Ships on the Columbia River In the comment section of my Astoria, Oregon, Daily Photo blog, Vogon Poet of my adopted sister city, Livorno, asked which ships were in the reflecton below. Today (actually, the day of that photo, since I'm writing this on October 4) there were at least five big ships anchored in the river. The two on the left can be seen reflected in the windows of Baked Alaska's lounge (see next photo below). I took the picture above from Waterfront Park (14th Street Pier), so at this time, Baked Alaska was one block behind me. I didn't take close-ups of the ships today to get their names, but the third photo appears to show that the second from left is the (Something) Wind, rather than the similar-looking Bungo Spirit, which was on the river a few days later. I seem to remember seeing a ship by the name (Something) Wind (possibly Celestial Wind), so I think I have it right. It's hard to read in the distorted reflection. One of the mysteries to me is how the ships appear so large in the windows. They were not moved, since these first two photos were taken only five minutes apart. I've left the top photo large when you click on it, but it's impossible to read the names of the ships.

Reflected Ships in the Window of Baked Alaska's Lounge Leaving aside the explanation for the size of the reflections, I think the picture is simply lyrical. In fact, the mystery and distortion just enhance this effect. The photo below was taken from a different spot on the 14th Street Pier. It was taken 32 minutes after the photo in Baked Alaska's windows. I had wandered around town and again passed the pier on my way back. Below, the reflection is in the waterside windows of the U.S. Customs building.

Reflected Ships in the Customs House Window I've left this photo large, so if you click on it, you can barely make out the name of the ship on the left. The various shipping lines send quite a few different ships through the river. They look similar until you pay attention to the details. Hopefully, I'm going to find more time soon to keep my personal blog up to date. I do love noting the identities of the vessels that move up and down the river, and sometimes stay for a few days.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sept 13, Astoria: Old technology, found while cleaning

I've been reorganizing my office this weekend to make it easier to reach things in storage boxes. Quitting Market America has opened up a few file drawers and bins, and that's probably what got me started on this particular Augean stable. So far, I'm liking it. I've been thinking of the various projects I want to work on over the next few years, and all of them entail easier access to the materials stored in boxes and files that have been essentially out of reach for awhile. There are also boxes of old files that have run their 7-year IRS mandate and can be gotten rid of (once reachable :)

Anyway, in the process I found this bit of old printout from an order of a number of years ago. It brought back the old days when I had so few orders and less sophisticated technology. A customer would place their order online, and I had to then e-mail them the total cost and the shipping amount. They would have to OK it and e-mail me back. Then I could ship the order. In the earliest years before that, I actually had to pack up the order and take it to the post office to get a mailing cost, then contact the customer! Back then, if I had a few boxes in a week, it was a lot. Now, of course, it comes in already approved by the credit card company and the customer has selected their shipping method, with the total right there for them to look at.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blogs merged: "Theodore J. (Ted) Todd (1923-2003)" added to this blog

Today I merged the blog I'd started about Dad into my personal blog. Especially when I get to the photos, it's hard to decide which blog they should go on. You can find the posts about him using the link to his name somewhere on the right side bar or click on the keywords at the bottom of this post. Here is some text I wrote for the sidebar of his blog:

"My father liked puns, liked history, science and invention. He loved his family. He was easy-going and had many, many friends, acquaintances and business associates. He was on more boards of directors than I could count, and he actually attended meetings and made things happen. He almost went into politics. I wonder how that would have turned out. He was as honorable as they come, so maybe it's a good thing he didn't. He was always curious about the world, and adored travel and fishing. I'm going to have to look up some dates, but Dad married our mother (Betty) about 1946. I was born in 1949, Kathy in 1951, and Gary in 1954. When I was 30, our parents divorced and he married Lois, with whom he lived until his death in 2003. I'll keep posting pictures and stories. If you would like to contribute, please add a comment to any post or send e-mail. Thanks! Read more about Ted's life."

I had also put this note at the top of his blog:

"In memory of Ted Todd, born in San Francisco, California, January 11, 1923; died in Prescott, Arizona, March 14, 2003. He spent most of his long, active, and inventive life in the home town of his ancestors, Corona, California (before it got so big, and while the trees were still there). In later years he and Lois lived in Prescott, Arizona."

I think it will be easier to post more regularly when I don't have to make artificial separations depending on who is in the photo. I also found where I'd stored the notebook I began about his life, so there are a few things there I'll be adding soon. Remember, you can use the labels below.

Brattcat finds our Townshend ancestral home

Please check out the Brattleoro blog written by Brattcat for the source of the photo above. Brattcat researched the location of the William Howe and Hetty Leonard Joy home in Townshend, Vermont, and this became her photo for the day. More bits about the ancestors who lived there can be found in the comments section of her blog. Meanwhile, we sometimes just have to get back to work, and now is one of those times. I'm thrilled and grateful to Brattcat for sharing this photo!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sept 6, Astoria: Wet

River Walk in the Rain, Astoria, Oregon I wonder how many people will show up for the last Sunday Market of the year today? It could happen. After the squall, the sun came out and people are walking the streets again, although the weather man shows T-storms and rain all day. On the river, the colors are indescribable, where you get the clouds, dark background, green water glowing in the sun highlighting a buoy, a stretch of the river, the green bridge. And then it changes in the blink of an eye. It should be interesting for viewers, but maybe not so for those having to set up tents with all their carefully hand-made or homegrown products . . . and keep them from getting wet or blowing away!

This photo shows a bit of the river walk outside of the Animal Store facing east toward the Maritime Museum, Custard King, and the park where I was bitten by fleas.