December 2011 Archives

Sun Dec 25 20:58:43 EST 2011


A while back, someone showed me Hacker Typer, which I thought was pretty neat. In a fit of Christmas-day-madness, I've written a libfake437-powered library to create a similar effect, with the bonus that it looks like my old DOS machine.

The library is called textstream, for those brave souls who might want to play with it.

Posted by Jack Kelly | Permanent link | File under: coding

Tue Dec 20 17:12:24 EST 2011

How not to Moor

At the end of the day, we put a lot of effort into mooring the ship properly. After the four lines that bring the ship alongside, we run out two thick hawsers on the starboard side. The combined effect is that the ship can't drift into or away from the wharf. After that, we double up the port lines for extra security. Here's an anti-example:

Jeremiah Ryan

Hint: The bowline isn't meant to run under the bow. She's just in front of our berth and can cause us a lot of trouble when we try to get alongside. The other day we tried to come in and the wind kept blowing her right out each time we tried to get past. Eventually we gave up, moored in front of her, let our passengers off, tightened up her lines and then got in.

Posted by Jack Kelly | Permanent link | File under: windeward_bound

Tue Dec 20 16:22:22 EST 2011

The Time Machine

Another short one. This time, it's H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. It's an interesting read because it doesn't deal with paradox at all. The opening makes time travel sound plausible as a concept, after which the main narrative begins. Wells uses the time machine to conjecture the ultimate destiny of a capitalist world: humanity splits into two classes (the worker and the capitalist who profits from them) and then into two distinct races (the workers are forced underground, while the capitalists lead idle lives).

Wells advances some other interesting ideas. The time traveller notes that although the future humans appear to have conquered nature, resilience and other good qualities of 'modern' man come from struggling against hardship. Without anything to struggle against, humanity degenerates. In my experience, I have noticed that I cannot be idle for any significant length of time. There comes a point after which I resort to distractions such as games and the internet.

Posted by Jack Kelly | Permanent link | File under: readings

Tue Dec 20 15:49:31 EST 2011

The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book

These books are another connection to my childhood. I didn't read them growing up, but the Mowgli stories of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book form the foundational mythos of Cub Scouts. In fact, Baden-Powell asked Kipling for permission to base the Cub Scouts upon his work.

My interest was primarily in the Mowgli stories. The idea of the "noble savage" runs strong through the text, with Mowgli becoming stronger and tougher than any regular man thanks to his unique upbringing. His nobility and moral superiority come from an upbringing under The Law of the Jungle which is called "by far the oldest law in the world" and "as perfect as time and custom can make it".

As he becomes an adult, Mowgli eventually outgrows the jungle and must leave to find his way in human society. That fits the age-bracketing on a Cub Scout Pack rather well - eventually things have to be let go to grow beyond them.

Posted by Jack Kelly | Permanent link | File under: readings

Tue Dec 20 10:25:25 EST 2011

1606: An Epic Adventure

I've been keeping up with my reading, but I've been slack in writing about it. Most recently, I have read 1606: An Epic Adventure. I don't care for the overuse of epic but crossing an ocean qualifies, even by Maddox's standards.

From the title, I expected the book to detail the Duyfken's voyage to Australia, relying on ship's logs and journals. In actual fact, it's a history of the charting of Australia, starting from Duyfken's voyage and finishing with Flinders' circumnavigation.

The book's fairly well-written and has quite a few amusing moments. One captain covers up his mistake by shifting Australia 1000 nautical miles west on the charts. He got away with this because while measuring latitude was fairly accurate, measuring longitude required accurate timekeeping.

I'm no student of maritime history, but I still enjoyed the read. It's accessible, relevant and entertaining. There's a section that talks about the French exploration in Tasmania, and it was especially enjoyable to read about Recherche Bay, Storm Bay, Adventure Bay and so on having sailed across Storm Bay and anchored in Adventure Bay and Recherche Bay.

Posted by Jack Kelly | Permanent link | File under: readings

Sat Dec 10 10:58:43 EST 2011

Finished Voyaging... For Now

We've finished the last of our voyages for a while. The 8-day training voyage was probably the best voyage I've been on so far. We were aiming for Preservation Island again, but the weather thwarted us at every turn. The sea and wind built up on the first night and we were forced to hide in Port Arthur for a few days, doing what training we could.

After the weather improved, we started sailing north, but the northerly change appeared much sooner than expected. Had we pressed on, we would've turned around just in time to catch a big southerly in the face.

As a result, we anchored in Bicheno and repaired the upper tops'l overnight. The trainees were a little slow striking it and it tore itself flogging. The upper was brought down, patched...

Patched Sail

...bundled up...

Bundled Sail

...and hoisted back up to be bent back on.

Ready to Hoist Sail

Then the radar started playing up. It lost a lot of the image and started picking up a cat.

Radar is Picking up a Cat

A few days later we made it to Southport and anchored there. We had a cormorant turn up and inspect the ship:

Cormorant on Deck Cormorant Inspects Lines Cormorant Inspects Windlass

He even stood watch for a while, until the wind got too much and he gave up.

Cormorant on Watch Cormorant Gives up

Posted by Jack Kelly | Permanent link | File under: windeward_bound