The People Are The Difference

A lovely article, written by a lovely man, and shared by another lovely man, and I know neither of them, nor have I met them. It’s often the little things that make the biggest impact.

Mitigating Chaos

There was “something about Aiken” that I first noticed during my visits in early 1999.  We were considering buying the funeral homes and cemetery there and surely didn’t want to make a bad decision.   I didn’t feel the stress we sometimes felt in Columbia, where we had lived for three years. Aiken was different.  This guy and his wife, both from New Jersey, took the leap, purchased the businesses and moved to a beautiful, small Southern city.  th-3

Funeral service, like many businesses,  depends on the building of trusting relationships and following through on promises made.  I was fortunate to get acquainted with many community leaders and their help, guidance and example were invaluable. For me, it was the people that made Aiken different.

One of those people/leaders was Jeff Wallace. Jeff was the editor of The Aiken Standard for most of the years we owned our businesses.  We…

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All at sea – Flying through the air, with, and without, the aid of a helicopter.

This is part of a recollection of “Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.

Number 2, Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by Jackstay, and 3, Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by helicopter can be recounted together because normally, when you go on a journey, you want to end up back where you started!

When I was posted to Gibraltar we (The Army) often entertained Royal Naval personnel when they had shore leave. We invited them to functions in the various messes (Officers Mess/Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess/Other ranks Mess, and we invited them to dine with us, often arranging a special dinner.

 In return, they reciprocated, and we were often invited on board ship.

 I came to know several of the Petty Officers of HMS Charybdis quite well, during 1976. I was invited to spend time at sea with the ship, in an exchange with a member of the ship’s crew, where we swapped jobs for a few days.

hms charybdis Life on board a Royal Naval vessel is unlike anything you may imagine. Space is at a premium and everything has to be stowed away to maximise space, and to ensure there are no hazards created by loose gear.

 Before departing from any port, the ship must be fully provisioned with fuel, stores, ammunition, food, and a myriad of items you wouldn’t even begin to think of. This is to ensure that, should the vessel be called upon to sail into conflict, or to aid others, it can proceed immediately, without having to stock up first. There is a good deal of manual labour involved in this, and the whole ships company (of 260 in this case) is put to work, less a few essential personnel. It is hard work, and I experienced it!

 Imagine having to stock a freezer so you can retrieve food, to feed 260 hungry people for 2 months, when you can only reach things right at the front. Just where do you put all those potato sacks, carrots, toilet rolls, extra large cans, butter, fat, oil, flour, spices. The list is huge, as is the quantity. You cannot run out.

 I shall not go into disposal of waste, recycling, or what can, under international law, be discharged into the sea. I mention it only because sometimes it flies off the ship!

 Whilst at sea it is sometimes necessary to load, or offload personnel, or materiel.

 This may be for changes in personnel, removal of severely ill, or deceased, replenishment of food, fuel, supplies, and the removal of waste for disposal, or recycling.

 The Royal Navy is supported at sea by Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessels.

The RFA is staffed by civilians, and they have a variety of ships that can supply fuel and stores, effect repairs at sea, and even supply hospital facilities. They have a helicopter on board, and also cranes mounted on either side.

 Most modern warships have a helicopter on board, or a helipad that can receive a visiting helicopter so stores can be transferred from one vessel to another by underslung load. However, there is a restriction on how much weight can be carried that way, and it is an expensive method of resupply.

 The alternative method of transfer is by Jackstay, a method of using ropes and pulleys to carry personnel and materiel between vessels.
jackstay trfs

The light jackstay, employing human power, is used for transferring personnel, provisions, and light stores with a maximum load of about 250kg. The hauling end of the jackstay is manned by up to 25 hands. The other end is secured by a grommet strop to slip in the receiving ship. A traveller block is hauled back and forth along the jackstay wire by an in–haul rope in the receiving ship and an out–haul rope in the delivering ship manned by up to six crew in each ship. Working distance limits are normally between 24–61 meters with a normal working distance of about 34 meters.

 The heavy Jackstay, uses steel ropes for transfer of heavier loads, or to support feed pipes during transfer of fuel or water. Normally a powered winch is used.

 The ropes are passed from one ship to the other by first firing a thin twine by rifle and pulling this across, with increasing thickness of twine, then cord, then rope.

 Ships are unstable platforms when stopped in most seas and it is extremely dangerous to bring two ships directly alongside one another. All transfers are therefore done with the ships steaming side by side, in to the wind, at a distance determined by the state of the seas. It is a hazardous operation and constant adjustment is needed to ensure identical speed, and to ensure the distance between vessels does nor vary. The procedure needs to be practiced often to ensure the crew knows exactly what to do when the need arises. It is the ultimate in team work!

 This is how I came to “volunteer” for my first, and only, experience of transfer at sea by Jackstay, and return by helicopter. I was one of a dozen.

 Having watched others being hauled across from Charybdis to another visiting Frigate, it was soon my turn. Apart from a little dampness from sea spray I arrived safely on the other ship and was hurried along to the stern to jump into the helicopter for the return trip. This was only my second flight in a helicopter. The whole procedure took less than 30 minutes, but was very exhilarating!

 Flights by small helicopter are normally from, and to, a stable surface, and the take off pattern is normally a vertical lift into the air, transferring into forward flight whilst gaining height. Larger helicopters use a running takeoff and landing whenever possible.

 Taking off from, and landing on, a ship at sea, entails a helipad moving at quite a speed, often with buffeting wind, and large chunks of solid metal very close by. It is a very specialised skill!

 On take off, the aircraft has to rise off the pad and move to the left, or right, immediately moving away from the vessel.

 Landing is the more difficult skill. The helicopter must approach the vessel from the rear and then fly, at the speed of the ship, slightly to the left or right of the helipad. It then has to move slowly across so that it is hovering above the pad, but is, in fact, still flying forwards at the speed of the vessel. It must then drop down on to the moving deck, immediately ceasing forward flight.

 Naval pilots, I salute you!

 To the crews of both vessels, Thank you for not getting me wet!charybdis.jpg

 

HMS Charybdis was affectionately  called “The Cherry B.” Hence the cherry tree on the ship’s plaque.

 

 

 

Light Jackstay information courtesy of: MacFarlane, John M. (2013) Jackstay Transfer (Replenishment) at Sea. Nauticapedia.ca 2013. http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Jackstay_Transfer.php

In Our Differences

A perfect monologue on diversity. On my morning walk I talk to, and look at, everyone I encounter. Some speak, some avoid my gaze. THIS is why I do it. I just do not have the wise words of Colleen to explain.

The Chatter Blog

Sometimes I find myself staring at…you.

In our differences I find something to look at.  To ask questions about.  To be intrigued about.

Is it rude?  To be intrigued?  To see and notice our differences?

Is it considered discrimination if I recognize that you don’t look like I do?   Or act like I do?  Or think like I do?

Should I be ashamed that because you are different than I am, I want to look, see, learn and understand.  And appreciate.

Will your skin color make me look at you?   Maybe.

Will piercings in your face make me look at you?  Maybe.

Will the shape of your eyes make me look at you?  Maybe.

Will your age make me look at you?  Maybe.

Will the people you are with make me look at you?  Maybe.

Will the clothing you wear make me look at you?  Maybe.

I don’t…

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Help Is Here

This is America. Not the rubbish we see in the papers and on TV, not the over rich politicians who have no idea what it is to be hungry, or have nowhere to rest, not the overpaid sports, media, and entertainment “stars”. These are the stars!

that little voice

I returned home just days following Hurricane Harvey’s rampage through this part of Texas, getting a first hand view of the devastation to some 100+ families, not including the dozens of businesses that were impacted in our small town. The saddest part of this tragedy is most of those affected could not afford these life changing events.

They lost everything…except each other. They have no clothes, no shoes, no food, no furniture,  no school supplies, no homes, no direction…and no money.

Rebuild? How? With What?

Move? Where?

Pull yourself up with your boot straps? Who has boots?

I sat with a restaurant owner yesterday as she handed out grocery store gift cards, clothing store gift cards, and cash to her staff members who have no place to live, and no means to ‘start over’. It was important that the restaurant open because these folks needed to get a paycheck, and that wouldn’t…

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Reminders for Myself

Sage advice from Owen here. If these could be instilled in all, instead of 25% of the current curriculum, we may begin to climb out of the doldrums!

No Talent For Certainty

Never excuse one evil by pointing to another evil

When recounting your grievances, remember: people lose patience with reruns

You aren’t a failure just because someone said you were —
you aren’t a success by that measure, either

Never try to explain some small random thing
by substituting an even larger, more random thing

Respect people for the human value they provide; i.e.,
show a lot more respect to farmers

Better yet, respect people, period

Fight the human tendency to believe
that if you don’t know what someone does
they must not do anything

Imagination breeds expectation, which yields disappointment;
imagination also breeds empathy, which allows us to help each other through disappointment —
so, do that

Social reinforcement doesn’t make something right or wrong,
it just makes it feel that way

People are starving for any bits of respect or affection
even though we can all give them away…

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Elysian

This post by Chris Nicholas is well worth reading (right to the end!)

If you are someone who struggles to accept people who are different: try.
You just might learn something new, or even help to make the world a better or safer place.

Love is love. Human is human. And regardless of what some may wish to believe; we are equal. We are all valued. And we all connected.

The Renegade Press

Milk and honey have different colours, but they share the same house peacefully.

  • African proverb

One of the most defining moments of my admittedly short writing career came on December 20th, 2014 when I received my first death threat from a reader. The threat, received via email, was in response to an article I had written which drew comparisons between religious intolerance and a criminological model known as the Broken Windows Theory. Throughout the post, I suggested that the constant defamation of an ideology through misrepresentation and bigotry damages an individual’s perception of a subculture, and creates a rift in our society.

To illustrate my point, I spoke of the Islamic faith and the unjust insinuation that it is a religion defined by violence. I compared acts perpetuated by extremists as stones hurled through the windows of a beautiful monument in an attempt to damage its image and cheapen…

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Handfasting – a poem

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handfasting_(Neopaganism)

Handfasting was very prevalent in the Hebrides, the Inner, and Outer, islands off the west coast of Scotland.

I had the unique privilege of living on St Kilda, a remote archipelago, some 45 miles West North West of North Uist, for several periods, mostly 6 weeks at a time. Stays sometimes proved to be longer, because access is always determined by the weather! In total, I spent some 8 months of my life there.

St Kilda has a strange hold on all who set foot there, rather akin to desert fever for anyone who has experienced true desert.

I follow a page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/St.KildaHebrides/ , on Facebook, dedicated to St Kilda, and, as part of advice being offered to a would be visitor, came across this poem written by Andrew Lane in 2009.

I do not know Andrew but, from what I’ve seen and read, feel that we would get on very well. He is a musician, so this may well have been written to perform. In any case, I hope that you find the poem at least a little interesting, especially those who may know nothing about the Scots, or their unique language.

Andrew has a lovely “lived in” face, and someone commented that it was obviously the result of someone’s advice:

“Smile a lot when you are young so that when you grow older, your wrinkles will all be in the right place”

THE HAND-FASTING

Oh, lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Bring the lassies from the wheel
To spin themselves a proper reel.
Bring the laddies from the loom
To weave a dance beside the groom.

Lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Bring the stoddart from the braes
And leave the hoggie to its ways.
Bring the fisher from the shore;
This man will be a boy no more.

Lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Set your creels upon the ling
And bow the fiddles till they sing.
Take the whistle from your poke
And pipe a tune for dancing folk.

Lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Set the bellyrive aboot,
And spread the meat upon the cloot.
Place the whisky pig beside
And you shall see the hand-fast tied.

Lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Stoddart – a herdsman. Hoggie – a young sheep. Bellyrive – a feast.
Cloot – cloth. Whisky pig – a whisky jar.

©Andrew Lane July 2009

 

Too Soon to Speculate: thoughts on Grenfell Tower Fire

What a brilliant article by my friend Kirsty, and what chilling reading the blog of the Grenfell Action Group makes. (Linked from the “raised again and again….”) Clearly, there has been a problem for a long time, and there is still a problem with other tower blocks. No money to cure the problem? Tough – We have to find the funding! What a great community spirit has been displayed in the aftermath, with no regard to race, colour, religion or gender.
Whether you have a faith, or none, pray that you never have to experience what those fellow human beings have had to endure, and what they have to live with for ever!

kirstwrites

Sometimes you can watch the TV news unfold its daily horrors and let it just wash over you; at other times the sheer awfulness leaves you breathless, heartsick, overwhelmed. Today is one of those other days. It’s been difficult to concentrate at work today, flicking back to the news websites every so often with a pounding heart. If this is how I’m feeling, a comfortable 200 miles away from Grenfell Tower, I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for those personally affected.

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Lymelight Festival 2017

A fantastic report on Limelight Festival 2017 by a talented young music blogger. Read and enjoy!

E Major

We waited patiently, for a whole 12 months. We attended gigs, we played our music loud and we counted down the days until we’d be back in front of that stage once more. We watched with excitement, as the lineup, the headliners and the last minute acts were announced. We planned our May Day bank holiday weekend accordingly and then we headed for Newcastle town centre, cagoule in hand and hopes high.

18119391_10208870663670660_3003105674234433798_n

The fifth annual Lymelight Festival ran from the evening of Friday 28th April through until late afternoon on Monday 1st May and by all accounts, it was spectacular. Opening with sets from Captain Stingray’s Groove Machine, Vidorra, 10o’clock Chemical and Akahum, it seemed that from the get go, this would be more than just your usual local festival.

S A T U R D A Y

It was dry and sunny on the morning of the 29th of…

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