Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas 2009

This year’s Christmas almost seemed anti-climatic.  It was a fairly stress-free holiday.  Since the family plans were late afternoon Christmas and the evening of the 26th, I didn’t have any plans on Christmas Eve or the morning of Christmas.  So, it was Christmas Eve and I was wrapping gifts when I decided I wanted to do something else for my nieces, Samantha and Rachel.  During the summer we had done a photo shoot for a newspaper ad that I did the photography.  At that time they asked if I could take some of the photos and put the Eifel Tower in the background.  I said sure but forgot about it until Christmas Eve.  That how I spent Christmas Eve.  I took two pictures of the girls, extracted the chroma-green background and added them to a photos of the Eifel Tower model at the Paris Casino in Las Vegas.


Then I decided to do one more.  This time I used a Christmas theme.


By now it was getting near midnight and I had another thought.  What about a trip to the beach.  A cold front had blown through so the temperature would be cold but it would also blow out all the smog and haze too.  Great time for some sunrise photos.  Checking the sunrise time, I set my alarm for 4am.  I know way too early for me but I had to do it.  So with about 4 hours sleep, I got up and headed to Galveston.  Here are the results.  All were shot in RAW with a little bump in the color saturation.  Some are multiple exposures to evenly expose the sandy foreground and get the rich colors in the sky.  Others were shot with an on-camera flash and the rest are single exposures.  In the background there are several ships going into the Houston ship channel.  The lights at the sea level in the distance are from oil platforms.  The hi-rise is the Endeavour complex on the East end of the beach near the jetties.

Enjoy and Happy New Year.

Friday, August 14, 2009

4 Year-Old Calls 911 and Saves Grandfather’s Life

The Galveston County Daily News reports that a 4 year-old saved his grandfather’s life during a lawn mower accident.  Robert Rudolph, a heart patient that was on blood thinners, was bleeding severely and trapped in his seat on the lawn mower.  Joshua Rudolph saw that his grandfather was in trouble and called 911 from his mother’s cell phone.  With 911 on the phone, Joshua calmly reported “Can we get, can we get a rescue people to come out here ‘cause my Paw Paw’s (hurt) bad.”  Joshua then when to where his mother was running the weed-eater on the other side of the home.  He handed his mother the phone stating that “911’s on the phone.”  The family was able to free Mr. Rudolph from the lawn mower and apply pressure to the wound until paramedics arrived.

Mr. Rudolph credits his grandson for saving his life.  The Galveston County Emergency Communication District plans to give Joshua a “911 Hero Award” in recognition of his coolheaded response. 

It just goes to show you that it his never too early to start teaching the fundamentals of safety and emergency response.

You can read the whole story by clicking on the following link: The Galveston County Daily News

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sailing Heroes Honored

Steven Conway and the late Roger Stone received awards for their heroism during the capsizing of the Cynthia Woods.  Conway received a Certificate of Valor while Stone’s family was given the Gold Lifesaving Award.

For those of you that don’t follow sailing news, the Cynthia Woods is a sail boat operated by the Texas A&M University-Galveston sailing team.  In June 2008, the Cynthia Woods lost its keel during the Regata de Amigos (a sailboat race from Galveston, Texas to Vera Cruz, Mexico.)  Roger Stone and Steven Conway were the safety officers on-board during the race.  When the boat capsized, Rodger Stone gave his life to save two of the students that were below decks at the time of the accident.  Steven Conway was able to keep everyone else alive and afloat until the Coast Guard rescued them 26 hours later.

The Galveston County Daily News

Monday, July 6, 2009

Codex Sinaiticus - Home

The oldest known manuscript of the Christian Bible known as the Codex Sinaiticus is now available to view on the Internet at  The manuscript was written over 1600 years ago and is the oldest complete copy of the New Testament.  For the last 150 years it has been housed in four separate locations.  In 2005 the four institutions entered into an agreement for the conservation, photography, transcription and publication of all surviving pages.

The web site above contains the results of that conservation effort.  Photographs of the original pages can be viewed along with the transcription of the work.

If you like history or bible research, you will find this interesting.

Codex Sinaiticus - Home

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Texas adds school supplies to sales tax holiday - Houston Business Journal:

Good news for all my Texas friends that have children.  School supplies have been added to this year’s sales tax holiday according to the Houston Business Journal.  This year’s tax-free weekend is Aug. 21-23.  A full list of tax-free items can be found at

Texas adds school supplies to sales tax holiday - Houston Business Journal:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Neighborhood raises flag every day of the year

What a great example of patriotic sprit.  The residents of Triple Bar Estates have really made a nice showing of support for our troops.  Each day most of the residents raise a flag to honor the troops.  A former U.S. Navy veteran started the trend and encourage his neighbors to join him.  Last Saturday marked the  one year anniversary of the neighborhood-wide flag raising.

Click on the link below to read the full story in The Galveston County Daily News.

The Galveston County Daily News

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

USCG Pacific Northwest: VHF radio vs Cell Phone

US Coast Guard Pacific Northwest has a good explanation on why a marine radio is better than a cell phone on the water during an emergency.

USCG Pacific Northwest: VHF radio vs Cell Phone

Friday, May 15, 2009

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command U.S. Fifth Fleet Press Release

This press release details the capture of an alleged “mothership” by US and Korean forces.  The ROKS Munmu the Great and USS Gettysburg responded to a call from Egyptian-flagged M/V Amira.  The Amira was being attacked by pirates south of Yemen. 

The Gettysburg was able to board and capture a suspected “mothership”.  All 17 of the passengers were detained for further questioning by the VBSS team of the Gettysburg and the Coast Guard Legal Detachment.

Way to go guys!!!

Press Release

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Congress tries to ensure that Judge Kent won't be paid | Chronicle | - Houston Chronicle

Here is an interesting one!  Judge Kent of the Galveston District Court has been sentenced to just under 3 years in Federal prison for obstruction of justice for lying to an inquiry looking to sexual harassment allegations.  He has qualified for retirement as a federal judge.  Since federal judges are appointed for life, when the retire they will continue to receive their salary for the rest of their life just like the President.  So since he qualified for retirement, he will continue to be paid his current salary while serving his prison term.  Many people are commenting that they want the Congress to stop paying Kent.  The Constitution forbids Congress from decreasing a federal judge’s salary.  The only way to keep from paying him is to impeach and convict him.  Only then will they be able to stop Kent from receiving salary. 

While this is a pain and many people are upset about having to pay Kent until he is impeached, I believe that it is a necessary evil.  If it was easy to remove a federal judge, it would be to easy to blur the line between Congress and the Federal Courts.  Separation of powers between the three branches of government is one of the things that makes our system of government work.   Giving Congress the ability to reduce a justice’s pay would give them influence over the federal courts and affect their impartial judgment.  In my opinion, we should let the Constitution work.  The Congress should start the impeachment process and remove him from the bench, ending his salary.

Now if Congress fails to act on this quickly, then we have another issue.

Wikipeadia - Federal judge (United States)

Congress tries to ensure that Judge Kent won't be paid | Chronicle | - Houston Chronicle

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mayor unveils $4B budget, lower than previous fiscal year | Chronicle | - Houston Chronicle

The Houston Chronicle reports that Mayor White’s budget proposal is lower in government spending. The city is projected to spend $4.05 billion in the new fiscal year.  A 0.4 percent from the current year. 

With the handling of Hurricane Ike and now this, Bill White is turning out to be a good mayor.  I would say one of the better ones that we have seen in recent years.  

Mayor unveils $4B budget, lower than previous fiscal year | Chronicle | - Houston Chronicle

Starbucks VIA™ Ready Brew instant coffee | Starbucks Coffee Company

Here you go.  An instant coffee that is suppose to have taste!  This would be great for the boat.  No fuss no mess.  Maybe it will make it to Houston so I can give it a try.  If you have had a chance to try Starbuck’s latest, drop me a line and let me know.  Otherwise, I just might have to order some on the Internet and give it a try.

Starbucks VIA™ Ready Brew instant coffee | Starbucks Coffee Company

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Trawler Beach House: WiFi Adapter For The Boat Revisited

Chuck and Susan have written a couple of good post about WiFi on their boat.   If you are looking to receive a better WiFi signal on your boat, I would recommend reading their post as a part of your research.

The Trawler Beach House: WiFi Adapter For The Boat Revisited

The Trawler Beach House: Simple and Inexpensive WiFi

Bush Helps Clean Up Bolivar - Houston News Story - KPRC Houston

Houston’s NBC station, KPRC Local 2, reported Sunday that Former President George H. W. Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker helped clean up the beaches on Bolivar over the weekend.    The president was quoted as saying “Texas may be far down on the map but is never down for the count.  Bolivar will come back. Parts of Galveston will be back. Mark my words, they will be better than before.”

Way to go President Bush! 

For more details, click the link below.

Bush Helps Clean Up Bolivar - Houston News Story - KPRC Houston

Saturday, April 25, 2009

First Trip in the New Boat

Normally I sail with my good friend Mark Zimmerman.  We haven’t been able to sail much since Hurricane Ike.  Ike sunk his last boat, Yesterdaze.  (I hope to post some of the details of our sails on Yesterdaze when I get a chance.)  Anyway, Mark has purchased a 37’ Irwin ketch rig named Jus Crew ZenJus Crew Zen needs a new engine and we don’t get  a chance to sail as much as we used to.  The engine is a sore subject with Mark.  Understandably so.  He purchased Jus Crew Zen under the condition that the engine had been rebuild by a mechanic and just needed to be reinstalled on the boat.  While preping the engine to be reinstalled, Mark fired up the engine and it threw a rod permanently damaging the engine block.  He later found out the engine wasn’t rebuilt by a mechanic like advertised.  The guy that rebuilt the engine didn’t correctly tighten the rod bolts causing the failure.  So now he has a boat that he can’t take out and will have to wait until he can afford a new engine before we can do some serious sailing again.

About a week ago, Mark had the idea of getting a tow out to Galveston Bay so that we could take Jus Crew Zen out to see how she handles and what other things would need to be worked on before we start doing some serious sailing.  So on Saturday, April 25, 2009, we did just that.

Close to 11 o’clock Jim Dobins from Barefoot Babe gave us that tow out to the bay.  Mark, Dianne, Matthew, Jason, Korrie, Jennifer and I all got a chance to see how she sails for the first time.  All in all I was expecting to find some major issues that would keep us in port a lot longer than anyone wanted.  I am glad to find out that I was wrong.  The only real thing that will be keeping us in port is the engine.  Sure, we found out that we would need to change some of the rigging and upgrade a few of the older systems, but nothing major.  Once he gets the engine, our biggest concern will be getting use to the ketch rig.  You see we are both use to a sloop rig.  For the non-sailors reading this, a sloop rig is a sailboat with one mast and two sails (one on the mast and one up front).  A ketch rig is a sailboat with two mast with sails on each mast and one or two sails up front.  With the extra sails, we found out that we are going to have to experiment with the sails to find out which sails to raise for the different wind conditions.  Today’s issue was with the mizzen sail.  The mizzen sail (the one on the rear mast) kept us going on a course based on how it was set.  We would try to change course and the mizzen would bring us right back to the course it was set.  I’m going to have to get use to changing the mizzen trim in order to make changes to the course.  Normally I would adjust sail trim as the helmsman was changing course, but it look to me like the mizzen would need to be changed prior to the course change or at least changed first.

Below I’ve included the GPS trip log and some pics from the day.

First Trip In the New Boat

Widget powered by EveryTrail: GPS Geotagging

Thursday, April 23, 2009

ACR urges EPIRB and PLB owners to re-check registration codes |

Cobham Life Support, ACR Products are urging all EPIRB and PLB owners to double check the 15-character identification code.

According to a report on, the signal sent from the scallop boat Lady Mary was regarded as unregistered.  This led to delays in response time while the emergency center controllers waited for additional satellite passes to fix a location. 

“Because this situation came to light, we are urging all beacon owners to compare their 15-character identification code printed on the beacon with the registration sticker they receive from NOAA just to ensure they both match,” said Chris Wahler, Marketing Manager for Cobham Life Support, ACR Products. “If there is a discrepancy, we urge the owner to contact NOAA immediately to correct the information.”

For full details read the article linked below.

ACR urges EPIRB and PLB owners to re-check registration codes |

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pirates free Stolt Strength -

Lloyd’s List report that the Stolt tanker vessel “Strength” has been freed.  This is the tanker crew that I talked about in my last post.  They have been captives of the pirates for over six months.   The 23 Filipino crew members are said to be safe and the vessel is proceeding to its next port of call.  There have been over 102 pirate attacks in the first quarter of 2009, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Thank God that the crew has been returned safely.  Again, while I understand why the American media did not start to report about the pirates until Americans were at risk, but the growing threat of piracy is a threat to the world.  I hope that our government and the other governments of the world will continue to address this issue.

The full article can be found by clicking here.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sailing on Zippity

Our ride "Zippity"This evening I had another opportunity to sail with Allen Bates on his J105 “Zippity”.  Allen is the organizer of the Houston Sailing Meetup Group.  He also owns Seabrook’s B Sailing Club.  Allen has been sailing since he was 12 years old.  He is primarily a racer and is very knowledgeable in all the dynamics of sailboat racing.

This is the second trip I have taken with Allen on Zippity.  It is always a blast.  My normal sailing style is cruising so this is a very nice change of pace.  You can learn so much more about sailing when you are on a racing boat that responds quickly to any changes that you make to your sail trim.  Allen is also a very good teacher and freely shares his knowledge with anyone that is willing to listen.

For this trip, we sailed close hauled upwind changing tacks a couple of times until we crossed the Houston Ship Channel.  Once we got to the other side, we tacked and sailed back across the channel.  Once across we sailed a beam to broad reach in order to get the spinnaker ready.   With the kite up, we flew up toward the Houston Yacht Club executing a couple of very good jibes.  I have only had the opportunity to run with a spinnaker a couple of times in the past.  This was definitely the best.  This was the longest time I have had at the helm with the spin up.  Great learning experience and a very pleasant sail.

Thanks Allen!

Allen’s group is located at

B Sailing Club is located at

Sailing on Zippity

Widget powered by EveryTrail: GPS Geotagging

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spanish ship Juan Sebastián de Elcano (1927)

While reading the Houston Chronicle on Saturday, April 4th, I saw an article about the Juan Sebastián de Elcano.  The Spanish Navy training ship would be docked at Pier 21 in the Port of Galveston this weekend.  I called my friend Mark and we made the trip to Galveston for a free tour.  It is an amazing sailing ship.  Mark and I both were very impressed with the ship and the way the Spanish Navy has kept her.  The crew is made of some officers and mostly midshipmen training to become officers.  They are at sea for at least 6 months before heading back home to Spain.  The next stop is Columbia.  From there they will travel some more in South America before heading to Cuba, Florida and finally home to Spain.  If you like historic ships or tall ships, she is worth the effort of a tour if she comes to a port near you.

I have included info from wikipedia, the handouts and my pictures below. 


Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia about Juan Sebastián de Elcano.

The Juan Sebastián Elcano is a training ship for the Royal Spanish Navy. She is a four-masted topsail, steel-hulled schooner. At 113 metres (370 feet) long, she is the third-largest Tall Ship in the world.

She is named after Spanish explorer Juan Sebastián Elcano, captain of Ferdinand Magellan's last exploratory fleet. The ship also carries the de Elcano coat of arms, which was granted to the family by Emperor Charles I following Elcano's return in 1522 from Magellan's global expedition. The coat of arms is a terraqueous globe with the motto "Primus Circumdedisti Me" (meaning: "First to circumnavigate me").

The Juan Sebastián de Elcano was built in 1927 in Cadiz, Spain, and her hull was designed by the Echevarrieta y Larriñaga shipyard in Cadiz. Her plans were also used twenty-five years later to construct her Chilean sail training vessel sister ship Esmeralda in 1952-1954.

Spanish ship Juan Sebastián Elcano (1927) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here is a scan of the information the Spanish Navy was handing out on the tour.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Volunteering at TrashBash 2009

Map picture
It was a chilly start to the morning. It was in the low 40’s with winds around 15 knots with gust to 20. I met Mark Zimmerman at Skipper’s (a local family-owned restaurant in Clear Lake Shores) for breakfast. This was my first time to visit Skipper’s since Ike came through. Glad to see that they reopened. After their normal excellent service, we went over to the Seabrook boat ramp and signed up for the event.

More people showed up than what I was expecting. Several school and scout groups volunteered to help. All in all I think that a couple hundred people showed up. Our group had about 20 people in it. We started work on 2nd Street from Todville Rd. to the pavilion (about 1/3 of a mile). We ended up with several trash bags full of trash and debris along with several piles of larger items. Some of the more notable items included stuffed animals, several tires, sailboat mast, trash cans, and paint cans. The largest item that we were able to get out was a dishwasher and kitchen sink with the dishes still in the dishwasher.

It was amazing the amount of large items still needing to be moved. There were several cars still in the water and chain link fences. We even found an HVAC unit next to the waters edge. Unfortunately it was too heavy for us to remove. It has been 6 months since Ike hit and Seabrook is still recovering. One of the organizers said that there has already been 146 tons of debris removed from Seabrook. That is just one small community that was affected by Ike. Places like Bolivar will take a couple of years to completely recover.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Improper anchoring technique blamed for NFL players boating accident

I read a blog from the Orlando Sentinel about the accident report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. According to the report, the boat swamped and capsized while trying to release the anchor from the Gulf bottom. Evidently when the occupants of the boat were unable to get the anchor to release from the Gulf bottom, they tied the anchor line to the portside eye bracket of the transom. Then they proceeded to use the engine to thrust forward in an attempt to release the anchor. This didn’t work and the boat immediately swamped, submerged and capsized.

The investigator concluded that the accident was caused by the improper anchoring of the boat to the portside transom eye bracket, using a 200 hp motor in an attempt to throttle forward trying to release the anchor from the Gulf bottom, and failure to leave enough slack in the anchor line to compensate for the rough Gulf conditions.

This stresses the importance of proper boating safety. Something as simple as using an improper anchoring technique cause the death of three and injury of one other.

The Orlando Sentinel blog can be found by clicking here.

The accident report can be found clicking here.

Other comments on this can be found by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Workers fishing for debris from Ike

By Rhiannon Meyers
The Daily News

Published March 22, 2009

Clad in muddied coveralls, the commercial fishermen thrust their hands in the murky Galveston Bay water and pulled up a thick length of gray electrical conduit almost as long as a yacht.
It’s not a bad catch for brothers Allen and Michael Lee — shrimpers from Pascagoula, Miss., who’ve come to Galveston County to clean the trash and debris pushed into the bay, bayous and canals by Hurricane Ike.

Click here to read the full article from the Galveston Daily News.

Article in the Houston Chronicle about the trash in Galveston Bay

Here's a link to a Houston Chronicle article about the Ike leftovers in Galveston Bay. More reasons to help with TrashBash 2009.

Monday, March 23, 2009

TrashBash 2009

What: TrashBash 2009
When: March 28, 2009 8:00 AM
Description: Trash Bash is a orgainized effor to clean up the Texas waterways. Since IKE left a mess last Sept., it would be a good time to volunteer if you have the morning available. Below is the info from the Trash Bash website. The web link at the bottom will take you to the info on the Seabrook cleanup effort.

Join the next Trash Bash® Event
Saturday, March 28, 2009!

Once a year thousands of volunteers gather along the Texas waterways to do their part in cleaning up the environment and participate in the largest statewide event to educate the public about the importance of our water resources. TimeTrash Bash is a half day event and begins between 8:00/8:30 am in the morning and ends at 1:30 in the afternoon. Start time, registration and end time vary from location to location. Please go to the individual cleanup sites for details.

How to...
To get started, pick a cleanup site near you.

Volunteer at any of the sites and receive:
Free Lunch
Door Prizes