Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Old Man and The Sea

Touring Newport Harbor on SV Epiphnay
On Friday, the first day of August, nine team mates set sail for a rousing adventure on the high seas.

Sort of...

Where I work, I am currently engaged on a task for the National Science Foundation, specifically the Ocean Observatories Initiative. (Read about them here.) Sounds kind of cool doesn't it?

It is and then again, it isn't.

For I am a software guy and it always comes down to a bunch of us in a computer lab poking code. We don't get to do the cool stuff, like go out on a boat and drop sensor buoys into the water or pulling them out to retrieve data.

No, we write the code that processes that data from the raw stuff taken from the instruments to the stuff that gets put in a big giant database somewhere. Necessary work yes. Riveting and interesting, not really. It ain't rocket science (though I've done that too).

In our little corner of the world we have this team made up of folks from two different companies here in Little Rhody. Well, sort of two different companies. One is big, one is small. The big one (where I work) bought the little one (where the other half of the team works). Seems they have a wealth of expertise that we need. So we bought them. They still have their own facility, maintain their own traditions and such and kept their name. They just added our name to it.

But that story is long and corporate and boring. Boring to me at any rate.

The point of the story is that some of them and some of us got together on Friday to head out on our team leader's boat, the SV Epiphany. She's a 30-foot sailboat which our team leader also uses to race with. An expensive pastime I'm sure but it's one with which he regales us with stories about. From what I observed Friday, Jeff (our team leader and master of Epiphany) is a very good sailor.

There were nine of us aboard Epiphany for this "three hour tour" (a three hour tour*). They were Jeff (The Skipper), Steve (The Professor), Mark (The Cyborg), Joe (Gilligan), Your's Truly (The Old Man of the post title), Jeremy (Young Skywalker), Emily (Mary Ann), Chris (Other Chris) and Maria (The Movie Star).

Let me "do some 'splainin'". Jeff, as it is his boat, is The Skipper. Now in some parts of this story I am not completely true to the Gilligan's Island metaphor. We had no millionaire (and his wife*), there was no Cyborg, Old Man, Skywalker or Other Chris on Gilligan's Island. There were nine of us, there were seven on Gilligan's Island.

Hhmm, nine of us... A Fellowship? Nope, no Rings of Power were involved and Sauron was taking a three day weekend. And the Newport Chamber of Commerce would no doubt be somewhat miffed at we locals referring to the tourists as "bloody Orcs!"

(Though there is this one section of computer code on the project we refer to as The Preciousssssssss.....)

But I digress (surprise, surprise, surprise...)

I call Steve The Professor as he is absolutely brilliant at what he does. I call Mark The Cyborg because, like The Professor, he is very good at what he does. Recently at work I have inferred that perhaps Mark is "not quite human." I may have said this about him (in reference to certain coding problems that like to bug us**):
Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. Said by Reese in The Terminator
Joe got tagged with Gilligan as he had the misfortune to ask a silly sailing question just before heading out and The Professor turned to me and said, "That's our Gilligan."

Jeremy is our summer intern, he was going to meet us at the lab Friday so we could carpool down to the marina. When it looked as if he would be late, I turned to The Professor and asked (in my best "emperor" voice), "So tell me, where is Young Skywalker?" While we don't call him that around the lab, I call him that here. Why, you ask? Why not?

Now calling Emily and Maria Mary Ann and The Movie Star (aka Ginger) was kind of a no-brainer, if we stick to the Gilligan's Island metaphor. Which I didn't, but oh well. It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to do what I like, within reason. Of course.

Which leaves us with Other Chris. He's from the other (smaller) company and his actual name is Chris. Same as mine. So when we have our morning call-in meeting, he once referred to himself as Other Chris. So that's why I refer to him that way.

I call myself The Old Man not because I'm old (which I kinda sorta am) but because it lends itself to that catchy post title The Old Man and The Sea, which I'm sure Hemingway won't mind me using. If he does, I'll buy him a drink someday and apologize. (I know he's dead, but here's a clue, I know this isn't "all there is", sorry Peggy, nice song, bad philosophy. But that's how I roll. DAMHIK.)

Besides which, I snapped a few selfies while out there on the water and the inescapable fact is, yup, I'm getting old. No longer do I look just like my Dad (well I do) but I look more like my grandfather! Witness...

And yes I need a haircut and yes I should have stood closer to the razor that morning. Oh well, when one attains a certain age, one ceases to worry about the more mundane aspects of one's appearance. I just want to appear clean and neat (and not smell bad).

The other selfies I shan't share. I look somewhat akin to a beached walrus. Funny as those would be for some of you, I do still have a modicum of self-respect. Such as it is.

So how was my day tooling around Narragansett Bay? Excellent, most excellent!

First off, shortly after casting the lines off, I saw one of these flying around:

O-2 Skymaster (Source)

An awesome little bird and one I had not seen in a very long time. (BTW, go checkout the source of that photo. Mr Sherman has some excellent aircraft photos from the Vietnam years. He's an old Air Policeman. Not sure if he's still around as he was fighting cancer two years ago. His website hasn't been updated since the fall of 2012. I hope he's still around and cancer free. If he's not, once again I'll buy him a drink some day and we can tell each other war stories. I'm sure he has a few.)

So some photos are in order. (As in called for, as in now. The photos are in no particular order. And yes, I did digress there.)

It was semi-overcast but the temperature was pleasant and the wind was brisk and refreshing.
The Skipper used that wind very well.

Historic Fort Adams, the Newport Jazz Festival was going on.
Why yes, we did linger a bit in the vicinity and listen to some fine jazz.

One of the many Newport Mansions. Newport was, at one time, the nearly exclusive playground of the rich.
Now we of lesser means get to hang out here as well. Because, 'Murica.
Oh, that boat in the photo, quite a bit bigger'n ours!

Approaching the historic reproduction of the schooner Atlantic.
A beautiful three-masted schooner, about which you can read here.
Stern shot of the Atlantic.

Note that Atlantic is flying the Isle of Man Ship Flag, the Civil Ensign. According to this site, this flag "May be flown by ships registered in the Isle of Man when the owners are Isle of Man residents." That ensign piqued my interest yesterday, so I tracked it down and now I know what it is. So do you.

What Atlantic was flying.

'Twas an excellent day and we all had an excellent time. Eventually we regained our mooring and were brought back to the yacht club by the good "ship" Patience. (When Skipper Jeff radioed in for a pick-up, Young Skywalker remarked to me, "Wonderful, the boat which has to come pick us up is named Patience. Is that a sign?" Actually Patience showed up within 15 minutes. Not bad...)

At the yacht club we had an adult beverage (for me a Guinness, naturally), we had a good chat overlooking Newport Harbor and then we went our separate ways to begin the meat of the weekend.

As for myself, I had skipped lunch so was rather hungry. Being out on the water also gives me an appetite for seafood. So, you guessed it, on the way home I stopped for take-out, which in New England (for me anyway) means this:

Fried clams!

Yup, fried clams from Pizza Wave in Bristol. Yum.

It was a good day!

*Folks of a certain generation will recognize that phrase. Those who don't, Google is your friend.
** Of course that was intentional!


  1. Beautiful area, especially this time of year, great sailing!

    1. Oh it is lovely this year. Temperatures have been fairly mild, humidity relatively low.

  2. I had another comment, but I forgot what it was when I saw this:

    "...I need a haircut..."

    I'm glad you explained that because I thought you had hair in your ears.

    I am pretty sure whatever I had thought about saying had something to do with age.

    1. in your ears...

      Yup, I have that as well. ;-)

  3. Great trip if you didn't have to scour the scuppers (I think that is sailor lingo).

  4. The food looks great and the sailing too...and LOVE the O-2A! WANT!!!

    And no pics of Emily and Maria? How can we rekindle the famous "Ginger v. Mary-Ann" debates without pics?

    1. Privacy concerns, not wanting to get thrown overboard, wishing to maintain good team relationships...

      A number of reasons Murph.

      (I thought the O-2A was awesome too.)

    2. Oh I completely understand. But the fine print on the back of my Man Card says that I have to at least ask.

    3. As soon as I saw the Oscar Duck pic, I knew Murph would be making comments. Now if there'd been a pic of an F-7F or something....

    4. F-7F? Hhmm, I've got one of those somewhere...


  5. Looks like the very best kind of day...

    1. Oh it was. Relaxing and enjoying the sea air.

      One of the joys of life.

      Of course, aerobatics in an aircraft trumps that. I mentioned that Friday and got funny looks.

      Go figure.

  6. I noticed the Manx flag right away, which is to say before you explained what it is. You don't see many of those, period.

    Looks like a great day out. There are times when I seriously miss the water and everything about it, particularly the SEAFOOD.

    1. First one I had ever seen, I actually had to look it up.

      It was a very good day.

  7. Sounds like y'all had fun! :-)

  8. Too much fun for a man to be allowed!

    PS: Did I tell you I served a stint as a FAC also? Put in a lot of hours in both the O-1 (Quang Ngai City MACV Compound, I-Corps) and O-2. (DaNang, I-Corps)

    1. Way too much fun, roger that.

      Phantom Phlyer extraordinaire AND a FAC?!?! I'll bet you could tell a few stories. Most of which might even be true!

      (Seriously though Virgil, I heard Buck had made you the offer of a place to tell your tales. You should take him up on it. I'm sure the comments I see from you are only scratching the surface.)

    2. You should take him up on it.

      Seconded. I'm certain the motion would carry, but I'm not so sure the potential author in question still wants to play.

    3. We need to convince Virgil that an admiring populace is yearning for his stories.



Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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