Monday, October 31, 2005

'Good night, and Good Luck' worth seeing

Edward R Murrow
Originally uploaded by Brite Lights photos.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - I'm addicted to journalism movies, it's true, but Good Night and Good Luck is worth seeing for anyone who wants to see how much impact one journalist can have.

The movie is the story about Edward R. Murrow, who took on one of the biggest and sleaziest bullies to take the political stage in the U.S., Senator Joe McCarthy.

What made McCarthy sooooo dangerous was he figured out the major weakness of the press at the time - that they would report whatever he said without bothering to check the facts. He was a U.S. Senator, after all.

It took Murrow and a courageous CBS news team to point out that nearly all the people he was indicting as being Communists in fact were not. McCarthy practically defined the word 'smear' when it comes to politics.

While the movie gives some reason for cheer, a quick reading of this morning's newspaper points out how easily the press is still led and how easy it is to divert the collect attention of thousands of media outlets.

More than 2,000 dead in Iraq, liars abounding in the White House and an economy about to crash will all be ignored this week so the nation can argue about a new nutjob nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oh, by the way. How are things going in Pakistan?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Start spreading the news, Sabbatical is back

Radar at Golden Gate
Originally uploaded by Brite Lights photos.
RICHMOND, Calif. - Sabbatical made her triumphant return to San Francisco Bay Saturday after a 20-hour, green-water-over-the-bow voyage from Monterey with Captains Scott Noble and Mel Johnson aboard.

Captain Noble has been appointed Chief Ship's Engineer after fixing the diesel, solving a water pump problem and standing his watches when he could barely stand (more on that later).

Captain Johnson has been named Chief Navigator, despite the fact that he charted a landfall for Sabbatical near the San Francisco City Zoo in the middle of Golden Gate Park. (He rectified that little navigational error as soon as he discovered it and piloted us in through soupy fog right to Golden Gate Bridge. The radar screen, shown in the photo was a big help.)

About eight hours of the trip was awful, made worse by the fact that we opted for hamburgers and French fries for lunch, a scant 15 minutes before we cast off the lines and lurched out into big seas and wind from Monterey Harbor.

Captain Noble and myself did some serious lurching over the rail during the night as the seas were extremely bouncy and confused. Captain Johnson had wisely taken several doses of a seasickness medication called Bonine and kept his ground beef and potatoes intact.

Given how some of that trip (and the one before from San Diego to Monterey which had its horrible moments) went, the next paragraph might come as a surprise to most readers of From Where I Sit.

We have decided to keep Sabbatical and not sell the ship after all.

That's right. We're keeping her and our plans remain fluid. (That was hard to resist.)

We put Sabbatical up for sale in January in Puerto Vallarta, listed it again in June in San Diego and now that I have spent eight days bashing up the California coast, I decided that I want to spend some time exploring San Francisco Bay, the Delta and the coast here.

We never got a chance to do so in this boat, though we certainly know the waters from our last boat (also named Sabbatical..).

The trip reminded me how special the boat is and it also reminded me how much I love to be out on the water. And if I'm going to be out on the water - particularly the big water, like the ocean - Sabbatical is the hull I want underneath me, plowing the seas.

Our next Sabbatical adventure will not be until a short list of repairs are completed before we take a foray out of our slip. But after that, start looking for postings from San Francisco, Angel Island, Vallejo and Sausalito.

Sabbatical is home.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Just what is it about country music?

Gretchen Wilson
Originally uploaded by Brite Lights photos.
REDNECK COUNTRY - I was stuck in a boatyard nearly 10 years ago, my boat tied firmly to the dock and the speakers on the outside of the shop office were blaring country music, not my cup of tea at the time.

But after a few days of it - and seeing that even the non-English speakers in the yard were tapping their feet and occasionally breaking into a little Spanish version of line dancing, I started listing more carefully.

And damn. I got hooked, hooked on the beat and really hooked on the little stories that the songs all seemed to tell.

I haven't given up the 60s rock of course, or even recent stuff. My eight-year-old granddaughter keeps me up on the latest Cheetah Girls and Hillary Duff songs.

But who can resist songs like, "We May Be Lost But We're Makin'Good time," or "Redneck Woman." Redneck Woman is performed by the provocative-looking Gretchen Wilson, probably her best work so far. But she has a voice.

Today I made a CD of largely country songs for my amigos Dan and Lorraine Olsen to take with them to Mexico to play when at anchor along the coast. I included such timeless hits as Too Drunk to Fish, Bubba Shot the Jukebox and Leroy the Redneck Reindeer.

I had to include at least one Christmas classic for the holidays.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A blast from the past, courtesy of a decoy

Originally uploaded by Brite Lights photos.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The long non-blogging dry spell might be over, now that I have caught up on other aspects of my life (school, freelance writing, moving the boat around).

And tonight I knew it was time to blog when I was trying to warm up my writing fingers a little before tapping on the keys about a local dentist whose hobby is to carve wooden ducks - using his dental equipment.

I didn't ask him if he needed to sterilize the drill before he started creating mallards, pintails and wood ducks.

I'm not sure I want to know.

What I remember about duck decoys is how lifelike they look in the water. When I was about 15, I blew the heads off several that belonged to my Uncle Gordy Puls. I was sitting in the boat not paying attention and a half dozen live mallards dropped in, right with the decoys, of course. I blasted away, missing the live ducks but doing a fine job of making splinters.

My punishment for destroying the wooden replicas? To clean the dead ducks that he and his son, (young Gordy Puls) bagged that day, and to never, never be allowed near their string of decoys again with a loaded shotgun.

That same day, in the heat of hunting, I managed to jam a shotgun shell in the clip backwards, which gun people tell me is virtually impossible.

I haven't hunted since, except with a slingshot when the seagulls and frigate birds land on the spreaders of Sabbatical, dropping bird crap on the deck.

Enough procrastinating for this evening.

Time for this duck to lift off.