Help on the Way

Hopefully you’ll never need the services of a med-evac helicopter like the one pictured below.

helilifeaThis is one operated by PENNSTAR, affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. I’ve seen these helicopters in action. It’s impressive. The pilot’s fly in all kinds of weather and have to land at the sites of car wrecks, train derailments, even other plane crashes. This is difficult duty to say the least. Then there is the pressure of flying with someone’s life in danger, which adds more pressure to an already stressful task.

So, my thanks go out to the pilots, nurses, and staff of this system. Hopefully, I’ll never see the inside of one of those helicopters. But you never know.

Single Screw

There are fewer and fewer single screw tugboats around these days. And a captain who knows how to operate them is another rarity. However, there is the legendary Captain Silva, a good friend of mine, and master of most anything afloat, including these old boats with a single propeller and lots of history. Thus, he and I traveled to visit one of the smaller incarnations of such nautical engineering just the other day, a boat he operates from time to time, named the Thomas Brown. This tug was in drydock for some love and affection as you can see below:

tbrnaThe guys are working to reattach the bow fender, which is no easy task given that it has to be bent and pulled fast to the shape of the hull. Here is a shot of stern:

tbrnbYou can see the scale of the hull and that single propeller by comparing both to the man standing on the right. The propeller is about six feet in diameter, which may sound large, but is actually small as things go in these matters. This boat has an engine that develops a mere 850 horsepower. Here’s a closer look at that prop.

tbrndIt’s all shiny and clean for today. Won’t be long before this boat is back in the water, towing barges, nudging larger vessel to the dock, and roaming the harbor in search of work. The Thomas Brown is a handsome boat, one that features traditional lines that passed down from the earliest of vessels. It’s also the last of a breed. Single screw boats are simply not built anymore. So, when this one is finished, it’ll be lost to the scrapper’s torch. But not yet! There’s still work to be done.

Limón y Sal

Limón y Sal is the title of a Julieta Venegas album that I’ve been listening to for several years now. I discovered Venegas while listening to a radio station somewhere around New York City and subsequently downloaded much of her music. I’ve written before about the music I listen to while writing and Julieta Venegas songs have become a staple.

The title track (Limón y Sal) is the type of song where honest lyrics and straightforward structure bring the message home. The layering of the instruments provides a richness absent from typical tracks without being overbearing. The same can be said for several other songs on this album including Canciones de Amor, which is a bit of a comic piece about love songs and how things just don’t work the way they claim. The irony is clear, made all the more poignant using an economy of Spanish words that deliver the punch line in the most clever fashion. Another favorite is Andar Conmigo from her album Sí. Here Venegas gives us a dialog about two people getting together, and if things are to work out, they’ll have to share each other’s stories. The allegory presented is insightful and wise, something sadly lacking in modern popular music.

Take a listen to the excerpts of Julieta Venegas’ music on iTunes. You’ll find these catchy tunes worth your pesos.

Published in: on May 18, 2009 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Writing Letters

Letter writing seems to have fallen off in this age of email and the text message. (Forget stuff like twitter, facebook, and such). However, there are still those people out there who take pen in hand (or typewriter or word processor) and scribe a message to someone. I happen to be one of these people, employing my fountain pens to good use. For stationary these days I’ve taken to recycling old nautical charts that are out of date. I have the good fortune to have made the acquaintance of several people with whom I exchange letters regularly. They are an excellent way to concentrate your thoughts, learn something new, and enjoy a friendship.

But if you want to see a master letter craftsperson, check out The Missive Maven’s blog. Here is a direct link: She corresponds with many people from around the globe and encourages others to write to her. Plus, her letters are written on various types of paper, her stamps are varied and interesting, and she uses all manner of writing instruments and inks. The creativity shown here is stunningly impressive. Take a look at her blog. I’m sure you’ll find it fascinating and perhaps inspirational. Maybe you’ll write to that old friend, college roommate, or favorite relative as a result.

Besides, isn’t it a thrill to get something in the mail? Of course! I send literally hundreds of postcards each year, but that’s the subject for another post soon. In the mean time, get a pen, some paper, and write. It’s good for your brain and your relationships, whatever they may be.

Published in: on May 9, 2009 at 3:04 am  Comments (2)  
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