Saturday, February 15, 2014

USS Maine ACR-1 or the Battleship Maine

The Maine enters Havana harbor in 1898 - looking at the aft end of the ship
  The USS Maine, built as an Armored Cruiser and later called a Battleship sunk in Havana, Cuba on February 15, 1898, 116 years ago today.  Over 260 American sailors lost their life.  It was, at the time, deemed sunk by Spanish forces and was the cause of the Spanish American War.
  Much later it was discovered that the sinking may have been caused by overheated boilers igniting and ammunition storage room.  Three or four studies have been done, the Rickover Commission in 1974 seems to have come up with the proper cause.  The Navy had switched to bituminous coal which burns hotter than the previous coal, the boiler would overheat.
  You can read more:
The original bow decoration can be seen in Bangor, Maine where a ceremony is held each year to commemorate the loss of life.
The USS Maine bow d├ęcor in Bangor, Maine - click to enlarge

Friday, February 14, 2014

Screams. In the daytime.

   The Waterville (Maine) Sentinel reports on an event in the Town of China, Maine.  A woman working around her house heard screams coming for a neighbors property.  Thinking it was a domestic assault she called 911.
   The Maine State Police who answered the call upon visiting the lady who called also heard the screams and rushed to the scene.  They were astounded at what they found.
   A male pig had been placed in a pen with five sows in heat, the male was screaming - very loudly.  It's common animal behavior.
   The lady who made the call now has a face as red as a valentine heart.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

6.4 Billion dollars down the drain!

Corrosion eats away through zinc primer.
Photo: Michael Short, special to The Chronicle (San Francisco)
  That brand new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge that opened with such fanfare just a few short months ago is rotting!  The steel was fabricated in China (where else), as a cost cutting idea.  The idea has come home to roost.
  The "water tight" chamber that supports the roadway has been discovered to have thousands of leaks.  It was inspected shortly after recent, long hoped for, rain.  The top photo shows just one of hundreds or thousands or pockets of corrosion.
  All that money that was saved?  Now it will be spent on more and more and more maintenance than was ever planned or funded.  Do you think China will pay some money back?  Ha, ha, ha!
Engineers with the Bay Bridge Commission look for leaks.
Photo: Michael Short, special to The Chronicle
For more information go to:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It's in the bag, one mans life

Frank Hatfield, age 88 at market
Photo: Mike Kepka, San Francisco Chronicle
  Frank is a tall man at 6 feet 3 inches and he used to carry a backpack, until he fell down.  Now he uses a "system" of plastic bags he believes will help him keep his balance, because they're lower to the ground.
  In one bag there's his bus pass, in another a magnifying glass and his apartment key, other's hold the goods he buys at market each day, he has precious little space for storage of food.
  He lives on the top floor of the Italian American Hotel on Sansome Street in San Francisco, his rent is $311.00 per month, it's crowded in the one small room, he has quite a collection of reading materials.  He has lived in this apartment for 38 years.
  Read more at :

Frank at home
Photo: Mike Kepka, San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Narwhals, the law and money

Narwhals tusking, or breaching in a group
Photo: National Institute of Standards and Technology via Wiki Commons
  A Narwhal is a whale about 30 feet or so in length, they live in the Arctic.  Inuit peoples in Greenland and Northern Canada are allowed to hunt for food, and ivory.  That begins the tale of four people who will stand trial today in Federal Court in Bangor, Maine.
  The trial is about importing banned items and money laundering.  These people didn't just bring a tusk home as tourists, they illegally brought in maybe 400 tusks.  The value was up to one million dollars.  That's a lot of Narwhals that were illegally killed - - just for ivory collectors.
  Two Canadians would obtain the tusks, and two Americans would take one at a time and ship it via UPS, the "customer" would send money to an account in Bangor.
  It all equates to the slaughter of Elephants in Africa killed for ivory, and I would guess the Narwhal ivory is considered more exotic.
  You can read more about it here:
The skull and tusks of a rare Narwhal with two tusks, a rare whale
Photo: Wikipedia

Monday, February 10, 2014

Help homeless veterans. Really!

  No photos and not many words from me.  Please take time to follow the link, and learn about this veteran.  It could have been me, or any of a host of others.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hard packed snow and North Dakota skies

A snow "castle"
Photo Gho Chai Hin   Getty Images
  At the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, China you will find snow and ice sculptures in large sizes.  This isn't like making a snowman on the front lawn; it work of a few dozen people.
A Princess in snow
Photo: Gho Chai Hin  Getty Images
  And now from Wilbur Land or North Dakota take a look at this video by Dakotalapse, and put your speakers on too (after the commercial), watch it in full screen.  It's just fantastic.  It's the Bad Lands that aren't so bad!