Saturday, April 29, 2017

Year of the Boat

This is becoming the year of the boat for our family.  My seventeen-year-old son Thomas and I have been learning to sail with the help of the Grapevine Sailing Club.  I am also learning how to do boat maintenance and repair.  Thomas used a bosun's chair for the first time under the supervision of our experienced slip neighbors.

Here are some pictures of Thomas learning to be a yachtsman.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Eternal Universe

I just finished listening to the audiobook A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss.  As you might expect, the book does not live up to its title in full but it does give some depth to a number of science concepts that have been floating around in popular culture.  If you like the video How Far Can We Go? Limits of Humanity and want to know more, read this book.

One of the ideas touched upon very briefly in the book is that the Universe could have always been.  By the term Universe here, I mean whatever pre-existed and gave rise to the Big Bang, our current phase of existence, and whatever comes after.  I define the term Eternal Universe to mean a universe that goes on forever without an end and always was without a beginning.

I once attended a debate where a speaker gave the following argument in an attempt to make the  concept of an Eternal Universe that always was seem absurd.  He asked rhetorically, "If time never had a beginning but goes back to negative infinity, how would you ever get to now?"  I was disappointed that his opponent did not respond to this flourish but instead stuck to prepared arguments.

Here is how I would have responded.  Imagine that you are where you are now in some point in space.  You can imagine that this space extends from where you are out to an infinite distance in all directions.  Pick a direction and call that positive infinity.  Point in the opposite direction and call this negative infinity.

Imagine that I now ask you rhetorically, "If space never had a beginning but goes back to negative infinity, how would you ever get to here?"  You might easily reply, "I did not have to travel from negative infinity to get to here because I always was here".  The debater was relying upon the fact that most of his audience was used to thinking of time as something that flows forward in just one direction rather than something that is in all directions.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


I participated in a Grapevine Sailing Club Frostbite Serices race again this month, this time as crew on a Catalina 30. While drinking hot cider with rum back at the slip after the race, I mentioned that I was in the market for a sailboat and that I had decided on a Catalina but I was uncertain as to which model.  My hostess mentioned that her friends were selling their Catalina 25 and that I could see it right then if I liked.  Three weeks later following a tour of the interior, a marine survey, an underwater hull inspection, and a test sail, I became the proud owner of the 1980 Catalina 25 sailboat "Bellissimo".

The Italian word "bellissimo" appears to translate directly to the masculine form of "very beautiful" which works for me as I have five very handsome sons.  The actual idiomatic use of the word appears to mean wonderful, marvelous, or a beautiful experience.  The previous owner explained to me that it was a familial greeting shared with her Italian siblings and that the word coincidentally included the family name of the orginal owner.

As Bellissimo is over thirty-five-years-old, it is considered to be an "antique" by Texas state law.  Another interesting fact about Texas state law is that Texas is one of the few states where the maximum width for a trailer that you can tow without an oversize load permit is less than eight feet six inches.  In Texas, it is eight feet zero inches, exactly the same as the beam of a Catalina 25.  So now I am in the market for a trailer and a vehicle to tow it.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Rounding the Mark

My new hobby is sailing. I have been practicing my knots and reading sailing books and magazines. I have had about twenty hours of sailing instruction on Grapevine Lake and Galveston Bay.

I spend countless hours looking at sailboats online. My wife Shannon has informed me that she wants me to stop talking to her about the relative merits of one model of boat over another. Sometimes, though, she will share with me what she might like in a boat when I show her video reviews of whatever model happens to be my current favorite.

I joined the Grapevine Sailing Club. This past weekend, I rode with three other club members in a powerboat to help position and retrieve the race course marks for the Frostbite Series regatta. Click on the photos that I took of the event below to see them full-size.