Ramblings

annapolis harbor
We typically look on Annapolis as being a quiet, peaceful town, where the worst thing to worry about is the increasing regularity of flooding downtown due to rising sea levels, or that the National Sailing Hall of Fame would be moving to our nemesis - Newport. That all changed on June 28, when the peace was shattered by the sickening news that five journalists at our local paper, The Capital, had been shot and killed while working at their desks by a lone gunman.

The Capital, known alternatively to locals as The Crab Wrapper or The Naptown News, is truly a local, small-town newspaper where we get updates on our sailorman mayor’s latest schemes, sailboat racing results, and who did what to whom and when. Now we have far more information than we really want on one deranged individual who had a long-standing conflict with some journalists and decided that June 28 was the day when he and his pump-action shotgun would put an end to it. This was no terrorist. This was no religious or political activist. This was simply someone who is mentally ill and who slipped through the cracks.

I have never been comfortable with guns, and I’m sure that sleeping with one under my pillow would cause a high degree of both physical and mental discomfort. I did have occasion once to fire a stainless steel boat shotgun at some flotsam while motoring down the west coast of Central America delivering a 65’ sailboat. It didn’t come naturally so I switched to a flare gun as being my weapon of choice, with that menacingly fat barrel and striking orange handle (stock?). Being a crew of just four, we were formulating a plan of action in case we encountered some bad guys as we paralleled the hostile shores of Guatemala and San Salvador. And encounter them we did …

starling spreading wings

When bad ideas take flight.

Some folk say they hear voices in their heads. Others report ringing in their ears, and yet others seem to have ear-buds permanently glued in place. My head seems to be always full of a mish-mash of ideas, thoughts, and technical tidbits with a little music trickling through from the background for good measure. Some of those ideas turn out be good ideas, whereas some, OK most, are best left unreported and forgotten.

Here’s a wacky idea from a couple of economists, as reported recently by Tim Harford in the Financial Times.

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There was a very informative article seen recently in Power and Motor Yacht magazine regarding ground fault interrupters. Nowadays these items may be found in differing guises at both ends of a shore power cable; i.e. on the pedestal on the dock and installed on the vessel, as well as installed in certain 110v outlets on board.

So, what exactly is a ground fault interrupter? Good question.

water mill dreamstime
I’ve just returned from a quick flit to England where I had the pleasure of being able to take several walks in the countryside in some rather splendid weather. The particular region I was in has an abundance of brooks and streams, and these were boisterous and lively following a period of lengthy rain.

Back in the good ol’ days these streams powered all sorts of mills, providing the mechanical power to crush stone, grind corn, saw logs, etc., and the area was littered with either the remains of old mills or with ones converted into other uses (i.e. holiday homes). There would have been a number of mills on one stream, one after the other as the water flowed downhill, with the same water that powered the top mill being used for successive establishments downstream.

What a wonderful early example of a renewable energy source.

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