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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Sunrise in Camden, Thursday October 30, 2008

     The penultimate day of October has dawned bright and beautiful in Camden for a change.  It didn't snow yesterday but it looked and felt like it could have at any moment.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. would have been packing the Mini to head south today except for the lure of the Camden Literary Festival which will bring numerous luminaries from the intersecting worlds of writing and food to town next weekend.  For Mrs. U.J. especially, whose love of food and cooking knows no bounds, the opportunity to mingle with the likes of Ruth Reichl, Molly O'Neill,  Michael Ruhlman and Verlyn Klinkenborg was irresistible.  Uncle Jack is primarily looking forward to the Saturday night "church supper" to be prepared by some of mid-coast Maine's finest chefs. He will be especially interested to see what they do with molded Jello salads, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, and brownies topped with Dream Whip---the staples of every Lutheran church supper he ever experienced as a child.


     Leave it to Sarah Palin to provide the comic relief in the final days of the presidential campaign.  Her latest efforts to portray Barack Obama as a "socialist" are hilarious coming from the governor of a state which is largely financed by excise taxes on oil and whose citizens "share the wealth" in the form of an annual check for every man, woman and child which this year, thanks to a big increase by Governor Palin, approaches $4000.  It is also true, although she doesn't dwell on it, that the state of Alaska receives, on a per capita basis, far more money  than any other state from the Federal treasury.  Socialism is alive and well in Alaska, that's for sure, but Governor Palin seems not to be aware of it.


     The election carnival will soon be over and at this point Uncle Jack almost feels sorry for the winner.  



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Sunrise Thursday. 6:45

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Ditto. 7:00 a.m.

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7:20 or thereabouts.

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The one pink cloud in the sky during sunrise. The work day has already begun at Wayfarer Marine across the way even though it's not quite light yet.

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The harbor is particularly pretty at this time of day.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:39 AM

Comments [9]



Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The rain in Maine....Tuesday October 28, 2008

     The Phillies got rained out yesterday and it looks like today it's Uncle Jack's turn.  The weatherman says 100% chance of rain today which means that he will get to spend more time than he wants to with the biography of Andrew Jackson he brought home from the library the other day.  Jackson was a fascinating character and Uncle Jack is learning a lot about American history in the early 19th century but he would much rather be outside scuffling around in the fallen leaves which are now hip deep in some parts of Camden.


      *******************************


     At this point in the narrative Uncle Jack looked out the window and saw a huge crane looming over his apartment building.  Further investigation revealed that the crane and its crew of a half-dozen men (and one woman) had come to lift mooring floats out of the water and stack them in the parking lot next door.  He has always been fascinated by cranes so he grabbed his Sony and dashed out into the mist to record this event for posterity.



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This lift had to be aborted to make numerous adjustments in the various cables and fastenings. Much shouting accompanied this part of the procedure.

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Out of the briny deep.

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At this point the crane has to traverse the parking lot carrying its awkward load. This is also accompanied by much shouting and gesticulating on the part of the crew.

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Almost there.

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One down, ten to go. This should provide Uncle Jack with entertainment for the rest of the day. Better than a reality TV show.

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Clouds over Mount Battie Sunday night.

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Reverse sunset Sunday night. Where did all the sailboats go?

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:56 AM

Comments [5]



Sunday, October 26, 2008
Super sunrise, Sunday October 26, 2008

     It's a truly nasty Sunday in mid-coast Maine.  Gale warnings are in effect and the few boats left in the harbor are bouncing around like puppets in the heavy swells rolling in from the bay. Luckily Uncle Jack got to French & Brawn for the New York Times before the rain started.  He won't be going out again this day for any reason that doesn't involve an ambulance.


     Yesterday was another kettle of fish, beginning with the sunrise which, as the pictures suggest, was extraordinary.  He and Mrs. U.J. enjoyed a lengthy perambulation through another of Camden's fascinating neighborhoods, pictures of which he will save for tomorrow. It's naptime.


     


     Yesterday



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6:45 Saturday morning

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7 a.m. Ten minutes before actual sunrise which was a fizzle because the sun was hidden behind thick clouds.

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A little sample of Maine humor.

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The builders of the new restaurant ran into a snag Friday. The crane is hung up in the tree and unable to deliver the piece of framing material to the right spot.

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These massive wooden beams are going into the structure somewhere. Uncle Jack hopes to be watching when they hoist them into place. He loves stuff like this.

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If you enjoy shuffling through leaves Camden is the place to be right now.

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The harbor has never been prettier.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:04 AM

Comments [0]



Friday, October 24, 2008
Wall Street Blues, Friday October 24, 2008

    Uncle Jack is pleased to report that the sun came up on time in Camden this morning but that is about all the news from here. There was frost on the pumpkin again this morning but it should get all the way up to 50 before long so Uncle Jack can get outside and take some pictures.


     He has been reading about all the financial upheaval in Wall Street and it brought to mind something he wrote a long time ago which you are welcome to read if you are not already sick of reading about Wall Street like he is.


                  STREET OF DREAMS                                                               


Dear Uncle Jack,
 How about that stock market! Did you get out before the big crash or did you "take a bath" as those Wall Street slickers say when you lose your shirt?
Bull Durham
Beargrass, N.C.
 
Dear Bull,
    Uncle Jack is happy to tell you he lost more money through the hole in the right front pocket of his pants last week than he did in the stock market. If you want to know the truth, though, this was not because he was terrifically smart or anything like that but it is just because he is too poor to own any stock.
    Uncle Jack can remember one time about l5 years ago when he got a few dollars ahead and he went over to one of those discount stockbrokers named "Slow and Smiley" or something like that and he bought a few shares of some up-and-coming company that down-and-went instead so he went back to Slow and Smiley and sold his shares and bought a Snickers bar with what he had left and it cheered him up quite a bit.
    He had forgot about the whole thing until a couple of weeks ago he got this letter from Slow and Smiley which said "Dear Uncle Jack, it is customers like you who have made Slow and Smiley the biggest discount brokers in the U.S." or words to that effect. Uncle Jack got a good chuckle out of that and he made a mental note that if he ever gets a few dollars ahead again and he wants to buy some more stock he is surely not going to buy it from a company that is dumb enough to waste a stamp on a deadbeat like himself who has not bought a single share of stock for over l5 years and their computer does not even know it.
    Anyway Uncle Jack has been getting some good laughs out of all those experts who have been on TV explaining why the stock market crashed last week because of the federal deficit or maybe it was because of the balance of payments problem with China or maybe something Sarah Palin said to  Katie Couric or maybe all of the above.  The reason he had to laugh is because he figured out a long time ago that the stock market does not have anything to do with the real world and most of the experts are baloney merchants and they should move Wall Street to Atlantic City because the whole thing is a big crapshoot.
    Uncle Jack never went around saying this out loud or anything because he did not want people to think he was loonier than he actually is but he is not afraid to say it out loud any more because he read in the paper this morning that Professor Friedman said the same thing.
     In case you are ignorant Uncle Jack will tell you that Professor Friedman was the World's Greatest Economist and he got a Nobel Prize to prove it, too. Professor Friedman said that the only thing you can say for sure about the stock market is "It will fluctuate" which Uncle Jack looked up in the dictionary and it means "It will go up and down". Also he said "The behavior of the market does not correlate in any significant way with the behavior of the economy" which is exactly what Uncle Jack has been saying all along and if you see him over at the supermarket or someplace muttering to himself, that is what he is muttering.
    Anyway Uncle Jack does not feel a bit sorry for all those rich people who lost money in the stock market last week because it was probably money they didn't have to work for in the first place and now they have lost it. Tough beans.


Bearishly,
Uncle Jack


P.S. Uncle Jack's hot tip for the week: Buy Snickers.



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6:30 this morning

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6:50

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7:05

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"Olad", the most popular of all Camden's day sailers, dries her sails. The season is over now as the cocooned windjammers in the background show.

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This floating crane tied up at the Willey Oil Company dock yesterday and stayed overnight but Uncle Jack knows not why.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:16 AM

Comments [2]



Thursday, October 23, 2008
Sunrise in Camden, Thursday October 23, 2008

       It was 30 degrees fahrenheit in Camden when Uncle Jack checked the weather this morning---the first sub-freezing temperature since they arrived in May. Will the first snow fall before they leave for Nags Head on November 10?  Stay tuned.


       Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. got their flu shots yesterday so they are ready for anything the winter may bring with the exception of McCain and Palin in the White House.  The only shot that could ease the pain of that eventuality would have to come in a bottle labeled Jack Daniel's.


       That's the paltry news from Lake Wobegon for today.


     


           



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6:30 this morning.

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7 a.m.

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7:10. Uncle Jack is happy to be able to see the sunrise from his warm living room on mornings like this.

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This critter is a few legs short of full arachnid status but fearsome nevertheless.

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Apparently Halloween is nigh.

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No question about it. Halloween is coming.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:09 AM

Comments [4]



Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Sunrise spectacular, Tuesday October 21, 2008

     Not much excitement in Camden these days, especially compared to the northeaster that has been pounding the Outer Banks for the past couple of days.  Some of the pictures on the message board have been quite remarkable and should serve as cautionary examples for persons who might be contemplating building oceanfront homes (if there are any left) on the Outer Banks.


    Uncle Jack read somewhere that the big house in Rodanthe that fell off its pilings was only five years old.  That must have been a painful experience for the owners but it could serve a useful purpose as a warning to others.  If past experience tells us anything, though, it probably won't.


     This morning's sunrise was probably the most exciting thing that will happen in Camden today.  The pictures capture only a fraction of its total magnificence.



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6:15 a.m.

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6:30

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6:45

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7:00

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The lovely yacht "Cristobal" entered the harbor at sunrise, picked up a passenger at the Yacht Club dock, and then departed again. You can make up your own story.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:35 AM

Comments [7]



Monday, October 20, 2008
Colorful Camden, Monday October 20, 2008

      Mother Nature was good to mid-coast Maine again this weekend and Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. did their best to take advantage of her largesse.  Mini Too is no longer available for watery forays into the harbor but they did take a couple of long walks through their favorite Camden neighborhoods and made another trip to the Hope orchard to replenish their dwindling supply of apples and pears.  As the pictures suggest the leaves are at their peak of dazzling color and the next strong wind will probably send most of them fluttering to earth any day now.  


     The weekend was marred only by a death in the family---or at least it seemed like one to Uncle Jack.  The $17 Timex watch he has worn for over 15 years has stopped running.  He took it to the watch doctor yesterday who pronounced it dead on arrival. Not even a battery transplant could save it. It will be Uncle Jack's melancholy task today to retire his beloved Timex to its eternal resting place in his sock drawer which has become his private graveyard for defunct small electronic devices including his last two cell phones and their chargers. You never know.....


     So Uncle Jack will be off to the Rite-Aid this morning to find out if it is still possible to buy a handsome and reliable timepiece for under $20.  Will it be "made in Japan" or "made in China"? You can be sure it won't be made in Switzerland.  Stay tuned.


     



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Sunday sunrise over Penobscot Bay.

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The harbor and Mt. Battie Sunday morning.

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Stone stairway on Bayview Street.

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In Bayview Cemetery. Pretty enough to wake the dead.

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Not all the flowers have succumbed. These are on Chestnut Street, perhaps the most beautiful residential street in Camden. Neat wall, too. This is a brand new house.

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Also on Chestnut Street. It could even be a Chestnut for all Uncle Jack knows.

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This huge and ancient tree is across the road from the apple orchard in Hope.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:38 AM

Comments [157]



Saturday, October 18, 2008
Unconventional Truths, Saturday October 18, 2008

          The temperature has been in the thirties in the early morning the last couple of days here in Camden.  Even when he went outside for the first time at 10 a.m. yesterday it was too chilly for his summer jacket so he walked up the street to an outdoor clothing store that is having a going out of business sale to see if he could find a warmer coat. He thought maybe at the same time he would be doing something to help the economy by making what for him would be a major purchase.  As it turned out the winter parka he bought was made in Korea and it was half-price so it was more of a symbolic gesture than anything else.


      He read in the Outer Banks Free Press this morning that the Dare County commissioners have purchased the Windmill Point Restaurant as a major step toward developing a convention center for the Outer Banks.  They have been talking about a convention center for a long time and Uncle Jack can remember writing about it, too, to wit:


Dear Uncle Jack,


 


     I read in the paper the other day where a lot of experts in the tourist trade agreed that Dare County was never going to amount to anything tourist-wise until they got a real convention center down here.  I never heard of a convention center and I was hoping you could tell me what it is.


 


Common Mann


Mann’s Harbor


 


Dear Common,


 


     Uncle Jack will be happy to answer your question.  This is something he knows a lot about because he used to go to a lot of conventions before he moved to the Outer Banks and stopped going anywhere.


     He can tell you that a convention is where a group of people who are all in the same line of work will get together someplace once a year to talk about what is new in their profession.  For instance if you were in the plumbing business you would go to the plumbers’ convention to find out what kind of  new valves and washers the Japanese have come out with since last year.  Or if you are in the car business you go to a convention to find out what new engines Toyota or Honda have come out with and so on.


     That is not the only reason people go to conventions though.  Uncle Jack found out a long time ago that the main reason why many people go to conventions is that they can go to someplace where nobody knows them and they can fool around a little and also take it off their income tax.


     People spend a lot of money when they go to conventions which is why so many towns have convention centers now.  If you want conventions to come to your town you have to have a convention center with a room big enough so everybody can all sit down at one time together and eat rubber chicken and listen to boring speeches.  This is how they keep from feeling too guilty about leaving their wives and children and going to the convention in the first place.


     Anyway if Dare County does get a convention center then maybe instead of going to some warm, sunny place like Las Vegas in January and February the way they do now, some conventions might want to come to Dare County instead.  Right off hand Uncle Jack cannot personally think of anybody in his right mind who would rather come to Dare County in the winter but there are large numbers of crazy people in the U.S. so you never know.  When he lived in Pittsburgh he used to read about some people called the Polar Bear Club who went swimming in the Monongahela River every New Year’s Day when the temperature was usually about four degrees above zero.  Maybe they would like to have their convention here in January or February.


     Uncle Jack is not sure if the masochists are organized yet but if they ever have a convention they would surely want to have it here in the winter.  They could do all kinds of fun things like hiking to the top of  Jockey’s Ridge in the nude during a northeaster and letting the sand tear the skin off their bodies.


     If you want to know the truth, though, Uncle Jack is not too crazy about the idea of having a lot of conventions around here in the winter.  He kind of likes having a few weeks out of the year when he does not have to wait 20 minutes to make a left turn onto the bypass.  Also he is worried about what will happen when the gulls start dropping their clams on the convention center parking lot when it is full of cars.  Who is going to pay for all those broken windshields?


     This is why Uncle Jack does not think a convention center is anything Dare County needs to rush into right now---unless they want to give him the windshield replacement concession over there.


 


Opportunistically,


Uncle Jack


    


 



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Sunrise Friday.

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Sunrise Saturday morning. Uncle Jack can sleep in until 7 and still see the sunrise these days.

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Coming soon to the Camden waterfront---a 150 seat restaurant.

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Getting prettier every day as more leaves turn.

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Plenty of room in the outer harbor now.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:27 AM

Comments [3]



Thursday, October 16, 2008
Hot, flat and depressing. Thursday October 16, 2008

    Uncle Jack went to the library yesterday morning to do his volunteer work which consists mainly of putting books back on the shelves whence they came.  Mentally this is easy for him because he practically memorized the Dewey Decimal System when he worked in the University of Virginia library as a graduate student back in a previous century. He is actually a professional book-shelver because in those days he got paid for what he is doing now for free.  He is probably the only professional shelver on the volunteer staff of the Camden Public Library but he doesn’t go around bragging about it because he doesn’t have to. The other amateur shelvers can easily tell just by watching him go about his work in the cool, professional manner that is uniquely his.  If you want to know the truth he thinks of himself as kind of the James Bond of book-shelving.


     He never has any trouble figuring out where the books should go but he has to admit that it is sometimes hard for him to get them there, especially when they belong on the bottom shelf. He can get down there without too much trouble but getting back up again can be tough, especially toward the end of his hour when his bodily fluids are depleted.  Sometimes he has to wait for somebody to come down the aisle who can help him up which sounds like it should be embarrassing but it really isn’t because he is too old to be embarrassed by anything any more.  If you want to know the truth that is one of the best things about getting old, along with not having to work for a living.


     One of the best things about being a shelver at any age is that you often run across books that look really interesting or books that you have been meaning to read but you couldn’t find them for some reason.  This happened to him yesterday when a new book called “Hot, Flat and Crowded” by Thomas Friedman turned up on his cart and it was the large print edition, too, which is just about the only kind he can read any more.  He read Thomas Friedman’s last book called “The World is Flat” a few years ago and he thought it was pretty interesting so he thought he would give this one a try.


     After reading the first 130 pages last night he can tell you that was a mistake.  He has never read so much depressing stuff in such a short time in his entire life.  According to Friedman the twin menaces of global warming and overpopulation are going to render our planet uninhabitable and sooner than we think unless we drastically change our ways and also get everybody else in the world to change their ways, too.  He says that in the second half of the book he is going to explain what we have to do but it is pretty clear to Uncle Jack at this point that whatever he suggests is not going to be enough. We are done for and there’s nothing he can do about it so tomorrow he will take “Hot, Flat and Crowded” back to the library and put it back on the shelf unfinished. Maybe some masochist will find it and really enjoy reading the whole thing.


           


     


    


    



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The Bayview Lobster House has been relocated to the Mid-Coast Regional Landfill in Rockport. It will be replaced by a new 150 seat restaurant, probably by the middle of next week at the rate the builders are going at it.

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Ed in New York's harbor fix for today. Actually this was taken yesterday which is a good thing because it is raining too hard to take a picture today.

posted by Uncle Jack at 2:54 PM

Comments [1]



Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Sunrise in Camden, Tuesday October 14, 2008

    It is often said that it is the light in Maine that has brought so many famous artists to this state to live and work.  Their number includes the likes of Winslow Homer, the Wyeths, Edward Hopper, Frederic Church and now---Uncle Jack--- who happened to be looking out his front window both at sunset last night and at sunrise this morning, camera in hand. He has to give some credit to the engineers at Sony but he thinks he has produced some truly exceptional pictures by the simple expedient of being in the right place at the right time with a fully charged battery. 


      Have a nice day if you possibly can.



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Just as on the Outer Banks it's the light just before sunset that seems to bathe everything in an unearthly glow.

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The cream-colored boat is Sumurun and Voyager is to her right. Both are outstanding examples of wooden boat building at its finest.

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6:30 this morning.

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6:40

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6:45

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6:50. Bingo

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The super-yacht "Islandia" came in from the outer harbor for a couple of hours yesterday to gas up. It took a while because her fuel tank holds 10,000 gallons.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:47 AM

Comments [6]



Monday, October 13, 2008
A Perfect Fall Sunday, October 13, 2008

    It's raining in Camden this morning but nobody in mid-coast Maine should be complaining after yesterday's sheer perfection. Mother Nature outdid herself and Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. did their best to take advantage.


     They made what will probably be their last trip in Mini Too out to Curtis island which they discovered has already been battened down for the winter.  The caretakers have fled,  the keeper's house is shuttered and the lawn furniture has been stowed away inside so it won't go flying during the coming winter storms.  They had the island all to themselves for an hour and it was sheer silent pleasure.


      After lunch they drove a few miles out into the countryside to the village of Hope and joined a bunch of folks who were happily picking apples in the venerable Hope Orchard.  It took only a few minutes to fill up a sack with crisp, crunchy sweet Macouns so they decided to take the long way home and ogle another 20 miles of trees that seem to have reached their peak state of dazzling color this weekend. 


     It was dark before Uncle Jack started in on the Sunday Times and the day went steadily down hill from there. Enough said.


     


 



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It was high tide when Mini Too reached Curtis island. An hour later she had to be dragged ten feet back to the water.

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Everywhere color.

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Even on the island. It will be interesting to see if the osprey nest on the chimney will survive the winter storms.

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Lord of the Wings?

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"Voyager" from Mini Too.

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Hope Orchard produced a bumper crop of apples and pears this year. If it's true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away the physicians around here should be preparing for some slow days.

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Lots of pretty trees to look at while picking, too.

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Bayview Cemetery. Not a bad place to spend eternity when you have trees like this to look at.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:54 AM

Comments [3]



Sunday, October 12, 2008
"Voyager" comes to rest in Camden, Saturday 10/10/08

     One of the many pleasures of living on the busy harbor of Camden, Maine is the opportunity it affords for Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. to have frequent close encounters with exceptional sailboats and sometimes to meet the interesting people who sail them. This happened yesterday afternoon when an old but beautifully maintained small gaff-rigged schooner pulled up to the Wayfarer dock across from their apartment.


     They were so taken by the appearance of this lovely boat that they put their pre-prandial libations on hold and walked over to the boatyard to check it out. A few minutes later they found themselves chatting with the owner, a retired architect/college professor named Peter Phillips who has owned "Voyager" for over 40 years and has lived on it most of that time. He and his wife, Jeannette, have sailed around the world in their 79-year-old, 50-foot gem of a boat which draws admirers wherever she goes.


    Peter invited us aboard to see the interior which is a symphony in exotic wood with much of the furniture designed and built by the Phillipses themselves.  "Voyager" will remain at the Wayfarer dock all winter and her owners will live on it until they can move into the house they are building on a mountain overlooking Rockland and Penobscot Bay. It was not entirely surprising to Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. that after more than 40 years of sailing all over the world they have decided to settle in beautiful Maine. They have accepted an invitation to dinner before Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. leave Camden next month so stay tuned for further adventures of "Voyager" and her intrepid sailors.


 



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Peter Phillips and "Voyager", his home for over 40 years.

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Uncle Jack, who thought his destroyer was small, has tried to imagine what it would be like to be in a squall in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in a boat this size.

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Voyager in a race near Antigua some years ago. She's old but she can get up and go.(Photo courtesy of American Schooner Association)

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At the head of the harbor the larger windjammers are making preparations for the long, cold winter ahead. Uncle Jack's neighbor, "Too Elusive", has already left for the Caribbean.

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This lovely tree is in the village green across from the post office. The Nags Head post office could use a tree like this.

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This one is on Sea Street across from Wayfarer Marine.

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The harbor at sunset last evening. (For Ed in New York)

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The bay at sunset last night with waxing moon.

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And sunrise this morning. Not spectacular but right on time which is probably the only good news we will hear all day.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:19 AM

Comments [4]



Saturday, October 11, 2008
Sunrise in Camden, Saturday October 11, 2008

      Another glorious fall day has dawned in Camden as the pictures below suggest.  (With frequent chargings Uncle Jack's camera battery is still limping along). It was too windy for safe rowing in the harbor yesterday and may be again today but Plan B is already in place---a trip to the Hope Orchards to pick apples.


       In lieu of anything exciting to report from mid-coast Maine Uncle Jack would like to take this opportunity to pass along a computer tip he gleaned from David Pogue's column in the New York Times one day last week.  He has often wanted to increase the type size of something he was reading on his laptop but didn't know how to do it quickly and easily. Now, thanks to David Pogue, he does.  Simply hold down the "control" key and press the + key and the type gets larger.  Press the - (short dash) key and it gets smaller.  How this simple trick could have eluded Uncle Jack all these years is mystifying but he is happy to be able to use it for whatever remaining time he has.  There were several other handy tips in the article which he will pass on at another time but he hopes readers will find this one useful if they didn't know about it already. 


     Downtown Camden was swarming with visitors yesterday and the windjammers had a boffo day hauling tourists out into Penobscot Bay.  The fabulous fall colors apparently attract a whole new set of folks to the area, much to the delight of the merchants who are preparing to hunker down for the long winter. Christopher Columbus probably deserves their heartfelt thanks as well.



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Pre-sunrise at 6:15 this morning.

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Ten minutes later.

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Ten minutes after that.

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Right on time at 6:45. The sun sets a few minutes before 6 p.m. today.

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A late afternoon view of the harbor from the aptly-named Bayview Street through the Camden Yacht Club grounds.

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Ed in New York's daily harbor fix which he needs since they took the harbor webcam down.

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This is where the camera was until a few days ago. Uncle Jack thought they were going to renovate this building but it looks like "demolish" was the operative word.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:27 AM

Comments [3]



Thursday, October 9, 2008
Whitehawk gets a lift, Thursday October 9, 2008
     Rumors that the formidable yacht "Whitehawk" would be hauled at the Wayfarer Marine yard yesterday turned out to be correct and Uncle Jack managed to squeeze a few pictures out of his ailing Sony Cyber-Shot, to wit:


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Whitehawk passes Uncle Jack's apartment on the way to the Wayfarer slip yesterday morning.

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Approaching the slip in a stiff wind. This was a very tricky procedure carried off with aplomb by Whitehawk's crew.

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Ready to lift. At 85 tons Whitehawk approaches the limit of Wayfarer's 110 ton crane.

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Up she comes. The slings had to be precisely placed to balance her 104 foot length.

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The traveler moves forward a few yards before stopping to lift again as the ground rises below the boat.

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An intrepid gentleman climbed aboard to lower Whitehawk's daggerboard for inspection.

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An unusual view of a remarkable yacht. The tiny figure in the lower right corner is Mike Weaver, Wayfarer's cranemaster, at the remote control of the mighty traveler. More fun than an Xbox when you're moving a $5 million boat.

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Whitehawk's hull gets pressure-washed before she goes up on blocks outside for a couple of weeks of work before entering the barn for several months of refit.

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A familiar sight in Camden these days.

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For the ed-ification of Ed in New York a picture of the former location of the Camden Harbor webcam on Sharp's Wharf. The renovations are proceeding at a rapid pace.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:05 AM

Comments [1]



Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Another beautiful day, Wednesday October 8, 2008

    Uncle Jack missed the sunrise this morning because he was worn out from rowing Mini Too all over the place yesterday afternoon.  It was a beautiful day and this is starting out like another one. No complaints about the weather from Camden this morning.


     He managed to squeeze a couple of pictures out of his deteriorating battery while he waits for his new one.  The battery company, a subsidiary of Amazon, just informed him that it has been shipped---to Nags Head unfortunately instead of to Camden as he requested.  Human error, no doubt, as computers are never wrong.


    Rumor has it that the spectacular yacht "Whitehawk" will be plucked from the water by Wayfarer Marine's traveling crane later today.  Uncle Jack hopes to be there (with a borrowed camera if necessary) so stay tuned.



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Uncle Jack didn't know anything about "Caledonian" when she passed by yesterday but he does now, thanks to Holly Anderson at the Village Soup who sent him a fascinating article about the boat from the archives. He will be happy to pass it along via email

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Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. rowed out to see the beautiful yacht "Islandia" which has been moored in the outer harbor for over a month now. Somebody else likes Camden apparently.

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The wake from this passing launch gave us some thrills for a few minutes. Mini Too is not exactly the most stable platform in the harbor.

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By special request from Ed in New York this is the way the harbor looked at 7:30 a.m. this morning. (The harbor Webcam is no longer working because of renovations to the building which housed it).

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:19 AM

Comments [3]



Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Sunrise in Camden, Tuesday October 7, 2008

     Life has slowed pretty much to a crawl in Camden so Uncle Jack doesn't have anything very exciting to report this morning.  Furthermore the battery in his Sony Cyber-Shot went dead so he had to order a new one but it hasn't come yet and in the meantime he doesn't have much in the way of new pictures either.


     His big accomplishment of the past couple of days was finishing an 800+ page book (large print version) called "Empire Falls" by a local author named Richard Russo.  It is easy for him to understand why this book won the Pulitzer Prize because it is one of the best novels he has ever read.  Uncle Jack does not usually waste his time reading novels but this one, which is set in a fictional Maine town beset with economic problems, was worth every minute he spent with it.  He hopes he will run into Richard Russo at the barbershop or somewhere so he can tell him what a great writer he is just in case he doesn't already know.


     He has been trying to avoid reading about the presidential campaign which has gotten so disgusting that he doesn't want to hear or see any more of it.  He already knows he is going to vote for Barack Obama even if he turns out to be a card-carrying Muslim terrorist just like Sarah Palin says he is so there is no point in subjecting himself to any more of the depressing nonsense that passes for political discourse in this campaign.


     Uncle Jack does not have anything to contribute to the current slugfest but he does recall writing something about politics and politicians a long time ago which he has dredged out of the archives for this slow news day, to wit:


Dear Uncle Jack,
   When are the politicians going to do something about all the violence on TV? It seems like every time I turn on the tube these days there is a politician slinging mud at another politician. It is getting so bad I don't let the children watch
TV any more.
   I don't know about you, Uncle Jack, but I will be very glad when the elections are over and the violence gets back to normal. If the politicians kept this up much longer Iwouldn't want to  vote for any of them.
   Why do people run for office anyway, Uncle Jack?  What makes people want to put up with all the grief and expense of trying to get elected just so they can put up with the misery of actually being a mayor or commissioner or president or
whatever? I mean you have to put in a lot of time on those jobs and if you're honest you don't make all that much money, either, and if you hang in there long enough the most you can hope for is that they might name a culvert or something
after you when you die.                                   
   What makes them run, Uncle Jack?  
   .                             
                          Sammy Glick        
                          Frisco
                                                


Dear Sammy,
    Uncle Jack is as baffled as you are as to why any normal person would want to go to all the trouble and expense of getting elected to some job where you have to sit around all day and
argue about garbage and sewage and drainage and zoning and taxes and other unpleasant things like that and then make decisions that all the voters will criticize no matter what you do.
                                                         
   He is pretty sure that one day the scientists will find out that politicians have some kind of weird gene that makes them want to run for office and there is nothing they can do about it. How else could you explain why so many people run for office over and over again even though they lose every time and how else could you explain why successful politicians keep running for office over and over again even after they find out what lousy jobs they have.
   Uncle Jack can see how it might be fun to be the President because when you are feeling grouchy you can send the army over to beat up on some small country but he can't see how it could be much fun to be a mayor or commissioner when all you can do is help a few relatives get off welfare or maybe fix a bad septic tank permit for one of your friends.
                                                         
   If you want to know the truth Uncle Jack is very glad he was not born with the politician gene in his makeup. He has always hated to sit in long meetings and he has a short attention span when it comes to drainage so he does not think he would
be a very good public servant (unless they would let him be the president).
   Besides he has reached the stage of life where he has decided to devote as much time as he has left to having fun and that is why he is going to New Orleans this weekend instead of staying
home and boning up on all the candidates before he goes to the polls next month. Who knows. Maybe he will run into President Clinton in one
of those sex joints on Bourbon Street.
                                                          


                                      
                                                          
                                                          
     
                                                          


                                                          
                                                          


                                                          
                                                          
                                                          
                         
                                                          
       
                                                          


                                                          
                                                          


                                                          
                                                          
         
                                                          
                    
 



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Sunrise yesterday morning.

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This unusual sailboat called "Caledonian" passed by a couple of days ago. Uncle Jack was unable to find out anything about it but it is one of the most unusual boats he has seen all summer. Looks like an Irish junk.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:14 AM

Comments [8]



Sunday, October 5, 2008
Excursion, Saturday October 5, 2008

     After a trip to the Farmers' Market to load up on a week's worth of organic veggies Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. headed out into the hinterland around Camden to check out the leaf scene which is rapidly getting out of hand around here.


      Their first stop was in Belfast, a town about 20 minutes north of Camden on route 1 where they had lunch at a restaurant called Darby's which after only two visits has become one of their favorite eating places in the area.  Not only does Darby's offer a perfectly pulled pint of draft Guinness (very rare outside of Ireland) but the obviously well-traveled chef is a master of everything he cooks from fish and chips to Thai noodles to chimichangas.  


      Darby's has been a fixture on the main street in Belfast for a long time during which the town has undergone a sometimes painful metamorphosis from industrial seaport to budding tourist mecca. When Uncle Jack first visited Belfast about 20 years ago the waterfront was dominated by a large chicken-processing factory which provided steady employment for a sizable number of people but at tremendous cost to the town's environment. In the great tradition of American industry the chicken company used the picturesque harbor as its sewer so that visiting yachtsmen often found themselves floating in a sea of detached chicken legs and stinking offal and the stench from the factory was frequently overwhelming.


     Belfast hit bottom after the chicken people flew the coop some years back but it is presently enjoying a renaissance of sorts.  Pleasure boats fill the harbor, most of the empty storefronts downtown have been filled with hopeful tourist-oriented businesses and investors are moving in to transform the once repellent waterfront into a welcoming harbor for boaters.  Even cruise ships stop in Belfast now which would have been unheard of ten years ago.


     After a totally enjoyable lunch at Darby's they pointed the Mini toward Thorndike, a minuscule village twenty minutes northwest of Belfast,  where it was rumored they might find the source of Angelina's magnificent 8 grain bread which she had been peddling at the Farmers' Market all summer---up until last week when she closed her stand for the season.  It took some doing but after a number of wrong turns they did find her tiny shop on what passes for a main street in Thorndike and loaded up on what they currently believe is the tastiest, healthiest most all-around satisfying bread on the planet.


     It took 45 minutes to return to Camden over country roads never before traveled by the Mini but the trip was delightful.  The fall foliage has not yet hit its peak but there was a stunning explosion of color around almost every bend. Maine is spectacularly beautiful, there is no getting around it.



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A tree across the street from Angelina's shop in Thorndike.

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On the road to Thorndike.

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On the road from Thorndike.

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Meanwhile back in the harbor....Those are not mushrooms on the library lawn. It's the fall art show which brings 100 artists and craftspeople to Camden for this weekend with a lot of nice stuff you can't find at the Wal-Mart.

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The Wayfarer Marine riggers brought in a special oversized crane on Friday to remove Whitehawk's other mast. She now appears to be ready to haul out of the water, perhaps as early as tomorrow. Stay tuned.

posted by Uncle Jack at 6:57 AM

Comments [0]



Friday, October 3, 2008
Bad news, Friday October 3, 2008

      The news that one of the old  cottages in Nags Head's "historic district" will be demolished and replaced by yet another particle board palace came as a shock to Uncle Jack as it probably did to most everybody.  He knew it had to happen sometime and he probably won't be there to watch it but it saddens him nonetheless.


      When he first fell in love with Nags Head back in 1969 the old cottage row, along with the First Colony Inn where he stayed, played a major role in stoking the fires of his passion for the Outer Banks.  In the nearly 40 years since he first saw them, while the rest of Nags Head's visual environment has deteriorated under the relentless onslaught of commercial development, those weathered old buildings have provided a link with the old Nags Head he loved at first sight.


     How many more of them will fall to the wreckers (before Mother Nature has the final word) remains to be seen but he hopes that this first defection will not set off a chain reaction that will obliterate the charm of the old cottage row forever.  He comforts himself with the thought that at his advanced age it isn't likely to happen in his lifetime.


      Yesterday morning's downpour gave way to a sunny sky in the afternoon which permitted a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood which grows prettier every day as more of the ubiquitous trees change color. A row to Curtis island in Mini Too could be in the cards for today.  Stay tuned. 


     



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Not a cloud in the sky at 6 a.m. this morning.

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The sun arrived, right on time, about 35 minutes later.

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One of our favorite streets for walking.

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Eat your heart out, Christo.

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The beautiful windjammer Mary Day heads for the bay, towed by her redoubtable yawl boat. This will probably be one of her last trips of the season. as the weather becomes less conducive.

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The harbor is looking exceptionally pretty these days, especially when the sun shines and turns the water a vivid blue.

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The spectacular yacht "Whitehawk" is being prepped for her total refit at Wayfarer Marine this winter. One of her two masts came off yesterday and the other will probably follow today.

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This must have been quite a tree before it became Whitehawk's mainmast.

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The late master boat builder, O. Lie Nielsen, built Whitehawk at his yard in Rockland a few years before he came to Manteo to supervise construction of the Elizabeth II back in the early 80's.

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Tendrils of cloud decorated the slopes of Mt. Battie yesterday after the rain stopped. Is this town picturesque or what?

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:22 AM

Comments [5]



Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Dreary start, Wednesday October 1, 2008

     October is off to a damp beginning in mid-coast Maine. A light drizzle obscured the sunrise this morning and more of the same is predicted for the rest of today and tomorrow.  Obviously Mini Too will be underutilized for the next couple of days.


     Every cloud has a silver lining it is said and in Uncle Jack's case that means he will have more time to spend with his latest book---a doorstop of a novel called "Bridge of Sighs".  The author is a Camden resident named Richard Russo who has gained considerable fame in literary circles as a Pulitzer Prize winner and writer of several best-sellers.  While Uncle Jack usually eschews fiction in favor of more exciting real-life stuff he feels obliged to read at least one Richard Russo in case he runs into the author at the big literary festival in November.  If he really works at it he could get through the 525 pages of fine print by the end of this month, assuming his eyes don't seize up on him. Stay tuned.


      Uncle Jack doesn't have much in the way of pictures to offer this morning but he did dig deep into the archives for this piece he wrote a long time ago about how to dress for success. This is not obligatory reading by any means, especially if you are not interested in achieving success or if you are a woman.


   Sometimes Uncle Jack wonders why he never amounted to anything even though he is a high school graduate and also enjoyed many
other advantages including a nagging mother.
   Here he is entering the stage of advanced decrepitude with hardly enough money to buy a bloodworm when the spots are running
and all around him he sees people half his age pulling $l0,000 boats behind their $20,000 4WD pick-up trucks and living in $500,000 houses and going off on vacations to places Mrs.
Stonebreaker never even mentioned in geography class.
   Uncle Jack knew he must have done something wrong somewhere along the way but he didn't know what it was until last week when he read this article in the paper about clothes.
   This article had a lot of good advice in it for people who want to amount to something and it is too bad Uncle Jack didn't read it 60 years ago because he might have been a success today
instead of not having two nickels to rub together.
   This is one thing Uncle Jack did not know:
   "For any kind of business career, one needs, at minimum, three good suits. They do not have to be tailor-made, but you should go to some trouble to make sure they fit. If you can find a good custom tailor who will do alterations, it's worth
the time and effort."
   You can see what Uncle Jack was up against right there because he can tell you he has never owned more than one suit at a time in his whole life and he has never owned a suit that fit.
   Every suit Uncle Jack ever bought from J.C. Penney or Sears Roebuck seemed to fit o.k. when he was standing in front of those triple mirrors in the store but as soon as he got home and he bent over to get a beer out of the bottom shelf of the
refrigerator his suit would try to cut off his arm at the armpit.


   Also it would always turn out that the pants were too long and Uncle Jack could not afford to go to a tailor so he would fix the cuffs with paper clips.
 According to this article you cannot make a very good impression in most business circles if you go around with paper clips holding up your cuffs.
   "Shirts should be white or plain light blue; cotton is best. They should not have contrasting collars, oddly shaped collars, or French cuffs."
   Uncle Jack was glad to read that about shirts because shirts were one thing he thought he did right. Most of the time he wears a light blue shirt made of l00 per cent cotton that does
not have any strange kind of collar or cuffs.
   Wearing the right kind of shirt does not seem to have done him any good in the business world, though, and he would hate to think it was just because his light blue l00 per cent cotton
shirt has "I Got Crabs at Austin Fish Company" written on the front.
   "Shoes should be simple, too. Plain black lace-up shoes without fancy stitching or thick soles are all one needs; and they should be meticulously polished."
   Uncle Jack really goofed when it comes to shoes because he usually wears plastic shower clogs from Taiwan except when he is going out to a fancy restaurant like Sam and Omie's he puts
on his fake Nike running shoes from the shoe department at Ace Hardware. Neither one of them takes a very good shine, either.
   Most of the time, though, he goes barefoot and the newspaper article says this is definitely not the way to get ahead unless you are Jimmy Buffett.
   "If you want to get ahead you should dress for success. To my knowledge nobody objects to a dark blue suit, a plain shirt and a dark tie."
     If you want to know the truth Uncle Jack is not so sure he wants to be a success any more since he read that article in the newspaper.
   If the price of success is having to wear a dark blue suit, a dark tie, and black leather shoes all the time he thinks maybe there is something to be said for being a failure.


    



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Sunrise Tuesday. Not great but better than this morning's.

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Meanwhile the leaves are quietly turning. It's going to be something to behold before long.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:28 AM

Comments [6]




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Except for short hiatus in Baltimore Uncle Jack has lived in Nags Head for over 45 years. He was a columnist for the Outer Banks Current and its successor, the Outer Banks Sentinel, for 20 years. A collection of his columns is available from Amazon Kindle under the title Uncle Jack's Outer Banks. He and Mrs. Uncle Jack, aka Sue, live in South Nags Head whence he observes and sometimes comments on the passing parade.
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