Tag Archives: Technology

Ode to Practicality

 

knowing better

Compact but Powerful Anti-Bucket Brigade Member

Fixing toilets and bilge pumps is in the let’s getaway and go cruising deal. You want to go sailing then you want to become a crackerjack marine toilet repairman. You want spare parts and hand tools at the ready. When the time comes you want to make quick work of the chore and put the whole stinking mess into one part of one piece of your morning.

People unfamiliar with the sailing world need to be brought up to speed on this odd new quirky corner of the sporting world they’ve stepped aboard. First off wear non-scuff white soled shoes. Don’t ask why  like some rotten spoiled child— just, do it. Second if you use the toilet don’t put anything down that toilet you didn’t eat or drink. I am not a man of faith  but believe me toilet paper flushed down a head cannot bring any good to the future career of a toilet repairman looking to get off early. If you find yourself in a relationship with a marine toilet for heavens sake have an able bodied seaman explain how  your personal human plumbing works and  this dang completely odd marine toilet thing interfaces when the two mysterious waste elimination systems are joined together while enjoying a romp upon a storm tossed sea. You will be surprised to learn that there is nothing simple about the urgency of having no reliable or workable place to go.

knowing better three

That is a lot of Broken Toilets right there…

Bilge pumps are all about getting water inside your boat to go outside. The physics of bilge pumps has to do with lift. You are lifting water and every gallon you lift— repeat after me— weighs seven pounds. It doesn’t take long to figure out that lifting ten gallons of water is the equivalent of lifting???  You see what I mean? So I have a particular passion for keeping my electric bilge pump in first class (it does the lifting-I’ll do the sailing) condition. I want that puppy shooting water out of my boat with wild abandon. I want my bilge pump thirsty. I want this beast wanting and ready. About the only thing a non-sailing passenger needs to understand about the technology of bilge pumps is that it isn’t the pump it is the location of the pump and the natural inclination of the designer of sailboats to place the bilge pump in the most impossible to remove and replace location that can be devised. If designing a boat is difficult then designing a serviceable location for a bilge pump is virtually impossible. If you want to have a real conversation about the circumstances of the human condition I would recommend locating a veteran well driller and listening to what they have to say about the whole task of lifting water in sufficient and reliable enough quantities to make property viable and human beings anywhere near happy. I presume that the engineering that goes into keeping a brassiere in top working condition constitutes a very close to the same kind of hands-on challenge to those engaged in the deployment and use of such vital lifting devices.

knowing better two

Floating Repair Station

There are of course a whole host of systems and devices that for no reason whatever that you or anyone with half a brain you trust can understand seem to keep working in spite of all the forces in nature arraigned against them. Cotter, clevis and hairpins come to mind. Gaskets and exotic high pressure oil and waterline hose fittings are in this category. The cutlass bearing is a book unto itself. If you don’t know the difference between standing rigging and running rigging don’t ask. Just replacing one of your two or three water pumps on your exotic diesel engine can require a call to Chase/JP Morgan Bank. We’re no longer talking waterline we’re talking credit line.

This quagmire of technology once mastered is what you will bet your life on while for no fault of your own having decided that what you really needed to do was sail two or three thousand miles across ocean so that you might not feel quite so utterly misanthropic. Just so you know not fifty years ago most sailors solved most of what I’ve just explained by using a device known as a bucket. This is a handy-dandy all purpose device that may be used in the event that all else fails. One more caveat about karma, thoughts as things, manifestors and self-sufficiency. A sailors willingness to use a bucket in the event that all other possible devices have been rendered out of working order is in inverse emotional resistance to a certain person you are close to who has spent most of the past twenty urgent minutes prior to breaking down and finally resorting to using the bucket repeating over and over again these magic words— I should have known better…

Edited Red Star

Tickling Artistry

clock and pressure

Take Your Time, There’s No Pressure

Back in LA. My life had been overtaken since the end of April. Shows at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, off to Kona to visit family, preparation of boat to sail offshore to Santa Catalina Island, house preparation for going on market, circus arts summer camp instructor, attending Hall of Fame ceremony for Shelley Switzer for her work as artistic director with the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival; add the Saskatoon Bunny Hug 30th Anniversary Celebration of the quirky and brilliant Canadian performing duo Flying Debris and there goes what we know as time as it is related to the comedy of being overscheduled.

New sails arrived. A house received a facelift. There was an oil change, books devoured, and lots and lots of vegetables eaten. The Berkeley Bowl is a venerable institution.

There was the no small matter of moving from one storage unit to another. Culling through possessions, sending unused but still useful items to thrift stores, other items to the dump. I tried selling a double oven on Craigslist only to be inundated with scams, trolls and con artists. That was a modern day wakeup call.

food

Eating for Health

Napa County’s Measure C an oak woodlands and watershed protection law went down to defeat in California’s June primary by a razor thin few hundred votes. Important to mention because a fictional version of this event is the subject of my fourth novel and more than three years of my time.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the brilliant Steve Aveson, the man I toured with in the Royal Lichtenstein Quarter-Ring Sidewalk Circus in 1974-1975 went from his anchor seat at KRON-Television in San Francisco back to New England after a two year stint. We managed a few sleepovers and one bon voyage party in this period of time. Lucky to have had him out here and will miss him like a right arm.

Shakespeare Brothers

Al Krulick, Steve Aveson and Yours Forever (My New Stage Name…)

Reading a sailors 1956 account of sailing and shore side life while in South Africa and while crossing the Atlantic. I have found the sixty-four year old tale jarring to my sensibilities. Our modern day frantic pace of life, the complexity of the new technologies, the fingertip access to any fragment of information we may want is all so smarter and more than clever. Still there seems more than ever to have been spun fog, veil and confusion. We are less able now to make a sensibly constructed holistic narrative of where we are and what we might best do.

The shelves in stores are too full and too complicated. Engineering demonstrates a disdain for simplification. I can’t be sure I will even know how to turn on a television in a hotel room— forget about grasping the embedded algebraic function in an Excel Spreadsheet.

In 1956 a sailor with a copy of Nathaniel Bowditch’s Practical Navigator, a chart, sextant, compass and chronometer could leave sight of land and arrive after a long ocean passage of thousands of miles within a six thousand feet of their planned destination.

Sextant Moon Light

Moon, Light and Destiny

Technology is not only revolutionary. Disruption is our moments primal scream. I look at a gridlocked highway and wonder why the engineers have no answer for the chaos, pain and suffering the automobile is inflicting on us all. We have arrived at a moment with the finest cars than can barely get anywhere. We can fly to the moon and still nearly fifty years later not know what to do once we have proven that we can go there.

As is the case for most of what passes for communication in this day and in this age I am reminded of a cryptic note by Charlie Pierce on Twitter, “Hello? Is anyone listening?”

Edited Red Star

As always buy a book, book a show. Tickling is my art