Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm that dad redux

Just cuz I had to share this old photo Ronnie rediscovered. MJ when she was "ti" Marjie and Chloe when I sometimes called her "ti rouge" in the observers seat of our old MasterCraft 205 "TI MORT." Destin, Florida 96-97.

I'm the dad of those two exquisite ski babes!

Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm that dad!

An impromptu blog carnival started by Ronnie based on a post by Flo. Got all that?

Traditional parents look at weltanschauung unschoolers and only see crazy levels of indulgence, a constant flow of socially unnormal behaviors! Oh, dear God! Yes. That's right. I'm that dad. I truly understand that from a traditional perspective it's crazy because traditional American child-rearing is all about control. I'm not. The phrase "my kids" is not the conceptual equivalent of "my bicycle."

My kids are practically adults now but even when they were younger, they would:

Stay up til all hours or even all night, because I'm that dad.
Eat whatever, whenver they want, because I'm that dad.
Watch R-rated movies, because I'm that dad.
Use all the interesting words English has to offer, because I'm that dad.
Do dangerous things, because I'm that dad.
Hold hands and hug me in public, even as older teens, because I'm that dad.

I'm that dad because they are those kids, bright, eager, interesting, and still fully possessed of their never-lost sense of wonder at this incredible universe.


Oh, *dogs*! Sure, I like dogs.

In the wonderful movie "Snatch," Tommy suffers an amusing confusion with Traveller (Pikey) accents and the animals called "dags." Or "dogs." Well, I like cats.

I've long enjoyed small cats but I haven't always liked big cats. However, around twenty years ago, design, engineering, and strength of material came together to make big cruising catamarans palatable to my refined tastes.

Stop laughing! I mean it. This is probably a good place to put the general disclaimer that this post is my opinion. YMMV. Especially if you have no sense of aesthetics. Oh, and did you really think I was gonna do a post about dogs? Or kitty-kats? Snicker.

As is common in the first generation of a new(ish) thing, there was a proliferation and profusion of a great variety of designs and, sadly, quality. One of my favorite of the earliest generation of viable cruising cats from the early 90s was a lovely French design by Van Peteghem/Luriot-Prevost, offered by Jenneau, and built by my favorite US builder, Tillotson-Pearson, now TPI Composites. The Lagoon 42.

My strongest criticism of this design is that big rounded cabin front. Those huge windows let in way too much light and HEAT in the tropics and too much wetness when they leak in any locale. Any seal between different materials on a boat will leak eventually and those sucker expose a lot of opportunity for water to enter your saloon. But it was head and shoulders above most other designs from that time and much better built than any other similar cat. Fast, too. Speaking of head and shoulders, tall people didn't like it. Not a problem for me.

Also coming in the early 90s was a boat which is still one of the sexiest designs in the world of big cats, brought to you from the pens of Joubert and Nivelt and the facilities of Fountaine-Pajot, the boat my pal Bob owns, the 38' Athena.

Now it's 2010, almost twenty years since those boats moved from the drawing board to the production line to a marina near you. In twenty years, there must have been some fabulous improvements, right?

Lagoons are still being produced and the newer ones have swapped that sloping panoramic brow for a tugboat-style series of windows.

A distinct functional improvement and I find the aesthetics ok but they've seriously compromised their performance. The new generation Lagoons are not quick. Let me hasten to add "for a catamaran." It'll still eat the lunch and dinner of most monohulls.

Fountaine-Pajot cats still look pretty much the same but they've given in to the current rage for hardtops rather than a soft (foldable) bimini.

So, yes, there are some great new innovations out there but, sadly, there are some creations which, if they were living things, would be considered mutants. And not the good kind. The nasty ones like in I Am Legend or Strange Brew. Remember the opening for that movie? Loved it!

Twenty years after the TPI-built Jenneau Lagoon 42, with its slight flaw, and the near-perfect Fountaine-Pajot Athena, South Africa has offered us these horrors.

Leopards of various sizes all pretty much look like this:

Twenty years later, they've adopted the hydrophilic rounded cabin trunk and seemingly added even more glass. And that hardtop is just... shudder! I'd be embarrassed to be seen on that boat. Beyond the mere, abysmal aesthetics, they've gone backwards in function, too. In the Lagoon and Fountaine-Pajot photos, you should be able to see that there's a good bit of space between the water and the bottom of the middle of the boat. This is called bridgedeck clearance.

With reasonable clearance you avoid a condition called, onomatopoetically, "slap." Slap sucks. Note the bridgedeck clearance for this Leopard. Practically nonexistent. Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap. Mile after mile. And it's not like a tv or movie face slap. It's like hitting a garbage can with a baseball bat.

Moorings, one of the original charter companies, has its own line. Moorings cats of various sizes look like this:

Now there's a cat which is a dog! I don't like these dogs.

I'd be embarrassed to be on a Leopard but I would not set foot on this Moorings cat. Period. This photo doesn't show the boat's stern but I can tell you it's a slap magnet. And did I mention how ugly it is? Blech!

Maybe it has something to do with the Southern hemisphere. Here's an offering from Australia; the Seawind company sells this model which I believe is properly called the Fugly, although some call it the Seawind 1160. (It's about 38' or 11.60 meters.)

Put me on that old Athena and set me free on the sea.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Morning Show at KAWO


AWO I go!

This morning I dropped Ronnie and Chloe off at the head of the Centennial Trail in Arlington (WA) then spent a little time at one of my favorite old hangouts nearby, the Arlington Municipal Airport, or AWO. (KAWO for you sticklers.) It was (and still is) a perfect day, hot sun, cool breeze, a true CAVU (Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited) delight.

There were several small planes in the pattern, looked like student pilots doing touch-and-gos, and the glider folks were making good use of the parallel grass runway. I saw a couple in the air and three or four lined up getting ready for their tow with wingwalkers flitting around like remoras with a manta ray. I love gliders. And, no, these are not the kind of wingwalkers who stand on the wing of a in-flight powered aircraft for your entertainment. They help keep a glider from scraping off its wingtips when it's on the ground.

I was sad to see that there was not much action over on the ultralight part of the field. I like ultralights, too. I've flown those a couple of times from this field and they're a hoot.

Parked near the operations office was a beautifully restored PBY (Catalina), an aircraft design I like very much. Seeing one up close was a delight. Big suckers.

AWO is close to my ideal for an airport. It has a nice, mile-long, well-maintained runway with negligible obstructions past the threshold. It's just outside SEA's Class B upside-down wedding cake of (very) controlled airspace, so you can just go flying if you want to. However, it's also close to all the amenities and benefits of Seattle Center when you want to use them. Every Summer there's a great fly-in. It's not as big as Oshkosh, which is too big and hectic, or Florida's Sun-n-Fun, which is nice but HOT, and I like that. It's a nice balance of lots of stuff but still not too big and crazy.

AWO is also the home of WSDOT's aviation division and the main facility of the Glasair company, producers of sleek, fast kitplanes like this one:

The AWO Flyin is where I had my first opportunity to fly a Velocity. This aircraft is the ultimate blossoming of Burt Rutan's wonderful Long E-Z design. It is my ideal personal/family aircraft and a total joy to fly.

Long E-Z (2-person plane)

The Velocity is a 4-person aircraft.

Now here I am, telling you about it and daydreaming. Hope you're having a nice day, too.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's Learn Nothing Day


I haven't recovered from the angst and depression of last year's fiasco and here we go again.

Time to go big or go home! Waitaminit, I'm already at home. Phew! That's a relief. And a great default position.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

About Me meme

Full Name: Francis Michael Maier (named after my paternal grandfather)
Age: 62
Hair: Grey
Eyes: Green
Piercings: Left ear
Favorite Flower: Wolfsbane, aka aconite, monkshood. Or, perhaps, the one I referenced in my gratitude post the amorphophallus titanum. [Yes, that does mean "huge shapeless dick."]

Tattoos: No
Heritage: Irish and German
Best Personality Label: Ummmn, weird, I guess

Your Fave Stuff
[Frank's note: I hate this type of question. Each of these categories does NOT readily fall into a single favorite type of choice. I will, however, play along for the sake of the meme.]
Song: Big Chief
Artist/Band: Rolling Stones
Celebrity: Jackie Chan
TV Show: The Daily Show
Movie: Zatoichi to Yojimbo
Food: Crawfish bisque
Drink: Coke
Alcoholic Drink: Rum punch or Zombie Princess cocktail.

This or That
McDonald’s or Burger King: BK
Chocolate or Strawberry: Strawberry
Coke or Pepsi: Coke, Pepsi is undrinkable
Singing or Playing Guitar: For my own amusement, both
Summer or Winter: Summer
Football or Basketball: Football is fun (We have season tickets to the Seahawks.), basketball is crap
Last PersonArgued With: Ronnie (wife)
Hugged: Ronnie
Kissed: Ronnie
You Texted: I don't text
Thought About: Ronnie

The Opposite Sex
Hair: Yes. Or no. Either is fine.
Eyes: Preferably, but I'm not eye-ist.
Height: Sure.
Style: Ok, she can have style.
Weight: I hope so. I just don't know if I could hang out with someone who violates the law of gravity.
Personality: Must have one.
Rich/Poor: Depends on how she got rich but I'll go with rich.
Other: She's gotta put the *sex* in "opposite sex."

Best: So many to choose from. Ok, I'll go with our honeymoon: two weeks sailing the Caribbean, just the two of us on a beautiful Nautor Swan sailboat.
Worst: Disneyworld 1996
Future: Space - at least suborbital, preferably orbital, hopefully lunar.

Your RW Friends
Funniest: Jon Gold
Goofiest: Daughter Chloe
Likely to Murder: Anita Paez
To Take Over the World: Heather Burditt
Best House: Mary (Ronnie's mom, who has a house on the beach)
Can Talk To: Bob
Bitchiest: GG (Ronnie's grandmother)
Loudest: Daughter Chloe or cousin Sonya
Smartest: Ronnie

Your FB Friends

Funniest: So many to choose from!
Goofiest: Ditto!
Likely to Stalk: [That I'm likely to stalk or they're likely to be a stalker? I'll go with the latter.] Patrick Lohkamp
To Take Over the World: Heather Burditt
Best Page: Eh, I guess I'll go with the page for: John Caldwell Holt
Best Group: Hasta be the group: Who's awesome? Yes, that's right, Frank Maier is awesome. Now, THAT is a group worth joining!
Most Like You: Hopefully, no one in the entire world would ever hafta be like me.
Most Offensive: Me?
Most Irreverent: Probably Jeff Sabo
Best Looking: Ronnie
Smartest: Ronnie

Have You Ever
Smoked: Only a little dope in the 60s and not much even then. I don't like smoking of any kind. Don't even like campfires. When camping, I'm happy to cook over my little MSR stove then simply commune with the night. Campfires are not part of my gestalt of "camping."
Kissed a Friend’s Girl/Guy: Yep.
Got Completely Drunk: Yep.
Danced in the Rain: Yep. Naked, too.
Watched the Clouds Go By: Yep.

Do You Believe In
Ghosts: No.
Witches: No.
Wizards: No.
Magic: No.
God: No.
Heaven: No.
Hell: No.
The Devil: No.

Football: Like to play, like to watch.
Soccer: No interest.
Gymnastics: Used to enjoy doing it, still enjoy watching it.
Basketball: No interest at all.
Golf: Less than no interest at all.
Hockey: Not much interest.
Tennis: Like to play. Watchng is often boring but sometimes interesting.
Baseball: Like to play, like to watch.
Volleyball: Love to play, like to watch.

RnB: Yep.
Hip Hop: Yep.
Rock: Yep.
Indie: Yep.
Pop: Some.
Heavy Metal: Some.
Folk: Yep.
Classical: Yep.
Other: All except country and Sinatra-type "crooners."

Do You
Shower Daily: Yep.
Brush Your Teeth: Yep.
Wash Your Face: Yep.
Wear Jewelry: Wedding ring, earring, watch.
Deodorant: Old spice. Deodorant, not antiperspirant.
Perfume/Cologne/Aftershave: When called for, I have some cologne called Pi which the girls gave me a while back.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Here, there be Pickaninnies!

Roman empire cartographers marked unknown or poorly-explored areas on their maps with the legend HIC SUNT LEONES. (Here, there be lions.) English-language cartographers, when dealing with a similar situation, used the phrase we're more familiar with HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS. This post is about a different kind of undiscovered country, but it's not Hamlet's either. [For my friends who are not Shakespeare fans, DEATH is Hamlet's "undiscovered country."] It's a dangerous locale of the mind. Lemme share this story with you.

There are many wonderful things I could say about growing up and living in New Orleans. It is a unique city and culture. I'm grateful for many of the things I experienced there which became essential components of my core personality.

Unfortunately, along with the wonderful things, there are some less-than-wonderful things about that microculture. Several less-than-wonderful things. Numerous less-than-wonderful things. And those things still exist to this day, despite the fact that it is not 1953, before Brown v. Board of Education, or 1963, before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I was blindingly, painfully reminded of that today during a phone conversation with my old pal Bob, who still lives in New Orleans, when he told me this story. He and his girlfriend were at a local jeweler's she likes to frequent, despite the fact that they know this guy continually says shit like "Hitler died two years too soon," implying that he would have solved the "Jewish question" if he'd only been granted a couple more years on this good earth. Asshole.

But that's not the bad thing I'm gonna talk about in this post, as you may have guessed from the title. I know, I know, it's terrible and it does deserve a rant of its own but this particular post is about something else. And don't ask me why Bob and Anita continue to do business with this guy. I didn't have the heart to ask Bob that question.

This post is about the discussion they overheard between the jeweler and another customer, a comfortably-well-to-do looking, middle-aged woman.

Ending a lengthy rant about the Kenyan-born, socialist, Muslim terrorist who's currently occupying the White House, etc., she shared with the jeweler the fact that she's the principal of a public junior high school in New Orleans and she just hates having to deal, day in and day out, with all those damned pickaninnies. And, just by the bye, her husband is a judge and sees nothing but "those people" coming through in an endless stream.

Well, she didn't complain about the Jews, at least; but OMFG!

However, before y'all lose heart, let me hasten to add that there is a silver lining in this cloud of willful ignorance and banal evil, a gold nugget dredged from this foul fen of malignant meretriciousness, a handful of emeralds cut from this racist Roc's gizzard, a happy ending you can't get from this Whites-only massage parlor; and it's this.

When I shared this story with my family, MJ and Chloe both looked puzzled, then asked, "What's a pickaninny?"

Oh my! Sweet sigh. And my anger over this evaporates into the silt-laden river of The Past, despite the fact there is clearly a modern Temporal Teabagger Tributary. Nonetheless, I declare this a clear Hope for the future! My children don't even know this word. It may still be 1953 in some places and some hearts, but in most of the U.S. there has been progress since those evil days.

Here, there be sane humans. Phew!

P.S. I Googled for images related to "pickaninny" to add some visual flair to this post. They were all just too vile to consider. Let's all just forget this word. The sooner, the better.