Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Moving Pilings

The Shuttle flies again. This is great news and my prayers go with the crew as they conduct their mission in space.

I thought I’d share with you some of the things I encounter from time to time in my job as a Dock Master. I have some pictures of the United States Sailing Junior Olympics to show, but I’ll save them for another post.

More often than one might think, large pieces of debris end up in the marinas around here. This debris can take many forms from little pieces of garbage carelessly tossed in the water to big objects that have the potential to be deadly if struck by a boat out in the waterway.

Recently one of the big, deadly types of debris found it’s way into my small domain. As is so often the case, I did not see this large piling float into the marina. No, I came into work one morning only to find that someone had pulled this out of the water and deposited it on my docks for me to have to deal with.

Now, what amazes me about all of this is that these large objects get pulled up out of the river in the dead of night and put ON the dock. Trying to get rid of this stuff takes two, three, even four men sometimes to move it off of my docks. How do they get it up and out of the water in the middle of the night with no one around to help them? If you ever see any of these midnight debris movers, watch out, they must be huge!

So, I have put together a collage of what happens to this stuff when I find it. I’m the one in the hat just like in the picture in the "About Me" section of this journal.

I enlisted my assistant to help me tow this piling around to my hoist area. We lifted it out of the water and set it on the back of my golf cart to take to the Dumpster.

I have put on about thirty extra pounds since I quit smoking on January 6, 2005. I am a little sensitive about being over my usual weight right now, so be kind with your comments, LOL! We can’t have The Boatman with hurt feelings, now can we? I have just started trying to take off the extra pounds. I’ll keep you updated on how that’s going in coming posts.

The last subject I want to talk about is photography. I shoot my pictures using the 650-pixel mode or the 1 mega pixel mode. My camera is a 3.2 mega-pixel Fuji FinePixI got for Christmas last year. I use the lower settings so they will download easier for those reading my journal. Is this what everyone else shoots at?

The other thing about the pictures is that sometimes I want to share a lot of shots with all of you but I don’t want it to take forever to access my journal, so I put them in a collage form like I did today. I am open to suggestions from all of you shutterbugs out there.

One last thing to tease you with. Someone J-Land my way comes!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Artsy Essay Contest

I had to miss the opportunity last month to enter Judith Heartsong’s Artsy Essay Contest. I could not let this month’s contest pass me by. The challenge this month is to write an essay on the topic "Why I Keep A Journal."

Here now are my thoughts on why I keep a journal:

I was a silent reader for several months before joining this community as a participant. I now have an opportunity to reflect on what brought me here in the first place and, now that I am here, why I stay.

If you were to look at my profile, you would discover I have been an AOL member since 2002. That is not entirely accurate. I joined AOL in 1998. I signed on and instantly liked the service and the opportunity to meet new people. I found chat rooms that I would visit and I noodled around the Internet playing games here and surfing there.

By nature I am a social creature and had no problem meeting people and striking up electronic friendships. I also found out the down side to this form of communication. People were not always who they said they were. No matter what chat room you were in, people were searching for cyber sex or boyfriends or long term relationships. I couldn’t go online without someone Instant Messaging me almost, well, instantly. It was almost impossible to do any research or get any real work done online.

I changed jobs and was without a computer in 2000, so I terminated my account with AOL. Two years later, I had a computer and signed up again with AOL. This time I changed my screen name and went about using the service in a much different way than before. I stayed out of chat rooms and discouraged Instant Messaging. After some time, I became bored and wanted to communicate with other people again, but not via chat rooms. I didn’t want to have a pen pal, and I got tired of aimlessly roaming around Hometown looking at pictures of people I did not and would not know. I tried the message boards for a bit but that did nothing for me.

One day, I went to the Journals Homepage. I had heard about blogging. I wondered, "What is that all about?" I wondered if I would feel like a Peeping Tom reading other people’s journals. I mean, journals were just electronic diaries, right? I took the plunge. I clicked on a journal.

My forays into Journal Land were short at first. Not finding anything I really wanted to read, I almost gave up. Then, I found a photo journal by this lady named Jersey Girl, http://journals.aol.com/cneinhorn/WonderGirl/. These were stunning images, but at that time she did not post very often. I had no idea what an alert was, so, everyday I would go to her journal and see the same pictures.

One morning, I looked around the page and saw the "Other Journals" section. I clicked on one of these and was instantly taken to another journal. Not a photo journal, but an interesting one none the same. Was that okay? I wondered. Is this like spying or stalking I thought? I slowly went down her entire Other Journals list and added almost every journal to my Favorite Places sidebar.

I started reading these journals regularly and trying out the Other Journals listed in each of these journals. Oh my gosh! I had discovered a community out there. These people knew of each other and commented to each as though they were friends.

I established a list of favorites of my own that I visited every day for months. I never commented. I was too scared I might not be welcomed. I kept reading and came to know these people. I learned of their lives, their likes and dislikes, stories about their pasts and their future aspirations. But, they did not know me and I dared not leave a comment.

This all changed one morning when I read Judith Heartsong. Judi made a reference to "lurkers." LURKERS? I don’t know about you, but that made me sound a little seedy, I thought. I sent Judi an Email and included a scan of a newspaper article on bloggers and the Internet and estimations of the masses of silent readers that read these blogs.

What I got back was a pleasant surprise. Judi sent me an email explaining how the term lurkers came to be, but acknowledging that it might not sound so good. She switched to the term "silent readers" in her entry. I was floored. Then Judi started encouraging me to "come out to play." In other words, start writing, start commenting, start something, for goodness sake, LOL!

At the same time this was happening, I got brave enough to send an email to another one of my very favorites, BlondepennieRae's "A Pennies Worthhttp://journals.aol.com/blondepennierae/APenniesWorth. Pennie has a talent for weaving stories like no other that I have read. Pennie should write a book, but that’s an argument for another post. Pennie sent me a very nice answer to my email and, like Judi, encouraged me to start my own journal.

I still felt I didn’t have the drive to do regular posts in a daily journal. I had never kept a dairy in my life. Pennie showed me that my journal could be anything I wanted it to be and I could post as often or as little as I wanted to. I was still insecure so I asked her if she and John would accept a sample of something I wrote to evaluate. She agreed and I wrote her a short story about some friends and I exploring the countryside during summer break when I was in grade school. (Yes, I still have a copy of it, no, it’s never made it into my journal).

She wrote back and said she loved it and that I should go ahead and start a journal. I think she would have said that no matter what I had sent to her, LOL, but I believed her because I wanted to believe.

I realized then that I really wanted to be a part of this community. I liked the people I met and I wanted them to know me and like me, too. I also wanted some venue to put down stories about my careers and recreations that my grandson, Trenton could read as he got older. You know, leave a little something of me to enjoy after I’m gone sort of thing.

Well, I started "Docklines…" My Journal. You’ll have to laugh with me over this, but it took an entire day to sit here and learn how to put it together the way I wanted it. Nothing seemed easy. Posting pictures seemed impossible, but, thanks to Pam of "Just One Girl's Head noise" and John Scalzi of "By The Way" I was able to print out instructions on how to do pictures, add graphics, insert links, etc. It still took time, but I could do it! My first entry debuted with no fewer than 55 hits on the hit counter. That translates to me going to and from my journal 55 times that first day while I tried to learn how to put in the graphics and pictures. But, I did it!

Next came the transformation. In me! Now that I had my own journal, I felt like I had a ticket for the ride. I started commenting. Boy, did I start commenting. I wondered later why I was ever shy of commenting in the first place. I met people I had only read about. People commented in my journal, too.

About that same time, another change came over me. I now wanted to share so much with my new friends. I started carrying my camera around everywhere. I started taking it to work. I started shooting pictures of things I would never have thought about before. A whole new door opened up. No wonder so many people enjoy doing photo journals. It’s fun to shoot PICS and have someone to share them with. Much better than stuffing them in an album that only gets opened twice a year.

Then my schedule changed. I could not post as often as I wanted to due to commitments and time constraints. I must admit I felt a little pressure. Remember earlier that Pennie taught me that I could to whatever I wanted with my journal? I lost that for a little while, but my J-land friends were quick to let me know I was going through a learning process that most of them went through themselves. I finally realized that it IS MY journal.

I can post or not post. I can add pictures or just type. I can go long times between posts or post two or three times a day. I realized I am now part of that community I longed to belong to. My friends will be here tomorrow if I have to sleep in today. If I go on a trip they will pray for my safe return and welcome me home when I get back. If I am feeling ill my friends will try and cheer me up and pray for a cure. If I am lonely I will get email. If I don’t feel like socializing, they will give me space. If I share a PIC or story with them they tell me they appreciate it. This is the only community I have ever belonged to that I felt like the friendship offered is unconditional. My J-Land friends don’t care what I look like. They could care less if I am skinny or fat. It doesn’t matter what kind of clothes I wear. Nope, this community will accept me any way.

The essence of this community lies in the hearts and minds of each individual that joins. If you have a kind heart and a gentle spirit you have found friends. If you are up for a fiery debate, it is available in our community. If you or a loved one of yours needs prayers or support you may find it here. If you would like to visit new places through the eyes of those who have been there, the journey is waiting for you in J-Land. If you like to be silly or read silly things, come on over to J-Land, we have it! Do you like prose and poetry? Come on in! Need a new recipe? Don’t look any further! How about arts and crafts? Our community is full of masters and teachers! Do you need advice? Oh, boy! Do we have advice! Looking to buy something that’s hard to find in your area? Just mention it here in J-Land and you’ll be steered in the right direction.

I keep a journal in AOL J-land because I have found a group of people I am proud to proclaim that I am one of. Happy Birthday, AOL J-Land! May we celebrate many more together!

Guest Editor's Pick!

"Better late that never!" My mother used to say. I should have posted this entry Friday, but I did not have the time or energy. Now, for the good news:

This humble journal has been selected in this week’s guest editor’s "Picks Of The Week" section on the AOL Journals main page. Most of you are already familiar with Mrs. Linklater’s Guide To The Universe journal. This week Mrs. L has been selected to be a guest editor for AOL and man the Editor’s Pick desk.

The Mrs. has been asked to pick six journals to recommend to all of AOL as journals that should be checked out for content, style of writing, etc. They only have space on the journals main page to list six journals at a time. This fact did not faze the undauntable Mrs. L for even one moment. Mrs. L submitted sixteen journals for your consideration. These sixteen picks provide a wide spectrum of journaling experiences and I was very impressed with the ease that Mrs. L handled this task. Even though only six may be listed at any time on the Editor’s Picks section on journals main page, you may view all sixteen choices in the entry Mrs. L posted to her journal.

First of all I would like to say thank you to Mrs. L for including my journal in this august list of journals. I must say, Mrs. L has always struck me with impeccable taste, and she has not disappointed with this selection. Okay, enough self-aggrandizing! My hat fits too tightly already. From my newly humbled self I say thank you for this recognition.

Monday, July 11, 2005


The irony that I would write about posting more often, then not make an entry for such a long time is not lost on me. My only excuse is that I have been working so many hours since before the Holiday weekend started. Don’t feel too bad for me, though. This is the view I gazed at as I settled down in my chair to watch the fireworks the night of July third.

I had to stay after the show ended to ferry the fireworks crew and all their equipment back to the marina from the island where they shot them off. My day started at 8am on the third and ended a little after 11pm. On the Fourth, we had the big barbecue on the bluff overlooking the river. Even though I was working, I took time out to get my fill of juicy ribs and corn on the cob.

All in all it was a fun filled and safe weekend on the waterways here. I wish I could say that for the rest of the country, but at least my charges behaved themselves accordingly.

This weekend it was regatta time as we hosted the annual Firecraker Regatta.

Storms loomed on Saturday as all the boats got out to the starting line. When lightning started to flash, the committee called a halt to the races and all the boats came back to the marina at one time. Just as the little boats pulled into the docks, the bottom dropped out of the sky and rain fell so hard you couldn’t even see the end of each dock. Talk about a Chinese fire drill, LOL! My crew scurried down and helped get all the boats secured and children and adults safe. An hour later the rain had passed and they went out to try again. This time they got five races in and the day was a success.

Next weekend we are hosting the United States Sailing Junior Olympics. It will be the first time our facility has had this event and we are excited to have it here. It will mean the third weekend in a row of long hours for me, but I am looking forward to it.

In the meantime, I am resting, playing with my grandson and trying to read a few journals. If I don’t leave comments as usual, forgive me, I’ll be back to a more normal schedule next week.