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Monday, June 30, 2008
June 30 Rocks, Monday

     Uncle Jack is happy to report that after a slow start this has turned out to be a really, really nice day. After two consecutive days of fog and drizzle it was great to be able to sit out on the deck and watch the boats go by while eating lunch and then to go for a row in Mini Too later in the afternoon.  The weatherman says the showers will be back tomorrow so he made the most of today in the outdoor activity department.

    Saturday and Sunday were reading days, however, so now he has another book to recommend.  After learning more than he ever wanted to know about the Bin Laden family from Steve Coll he reached for a palate cleanser in the form of Mark Kurlansky's latest tome entitled "The Last Fish Tale: The Fate of the Atlantic and Survival in Gloucester, America's Oldest Fishing Port and Most Original Town".  The book is only slightly longer than the title so it was a quick read and, like all Kurlansky's books it was difficult to put down.

      He has visited this territory before in his book "Cod" but because this one focuses on Gloucester as a case study of what is happening to fishing towns all over the world (including North Carolina) as the fish keep disappearing.  If you have never read any of Kurlansky's books this is a good one to start with and it will whet your appetite to read the rest of them.  If the Dare County library doesn't have it yet you might want to request it because it's so relevant to Outer Banks.  Ballantine Books is the publisher and it came out earlier this year. 

     Tomorrow is the first of July already. Time flies when you're having fun.


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Mini Too among the behemoths.

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The old man and the sea. Uncle Jack thinks there should be a "Geezers in Rowboats" category in the Olympics. He has always wanted to see China.

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Beautiful "Sumurun" took advantage of the unusual sunny weather to go for a cruise in Penobscot Bay. She's older than Uncle Jack but looks a lot better.

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The Lewis R. French is pushed to sea by her yawl boat carrying 25 passengers who will be praying for sunshine for the next four days.

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It was a busy morning in the harbor. That's Appledore on the left and Olad on the right in the act of hoisting their sails.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:17 PM

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Sunday, June 29, 2008
Darkness at Noon, Sunday June 29, 2008

    With apologies to Arthur Koestler Uncle Jack will steal his most famous title to describe the weather situation in Camden today.  It was merely foggy and drizzly when he got up at 6 a.m. but by noon  black, rain-bearing clouds had moved in and it got so dark that the automatic sensor-operated night lights on the yacht "Too Elusive" in front of his apartment came on.  Luckily he was able to make a pre-deluge dash to the neighborhood grocery to get the Sunday Times so the day has not been a complete loss.

    Not surprisingly the Times is full of stories relating to the high price of gasoline.  One of them entitled "Goodbye to the Great American Road Trip" caught his eye because the memory of his own "Great Road Trip" in the summer and fall of 2005 is still fresh in his mind. (Longtime readers of his weblog may remember the entries for June, July, August, October and November 2005 which are still retrievable from the archives).

     He and Mrs. U.J. celebrated his 75th birthday that year by hopping in their brand new Mini convertible and driving to the west coast twice---first by a northern route and later through the south and southwest---visiting 25 National Parks and countless other interesting places along the way and putting 20,000 miles on the Mini in the process.  It was a great adventure and he would hate to think that a mere doubling or tripling of the price of gas would prevent others from doing something like it.

    He did some "gas math" and calculated that the Mini burned about 666 gallons of high test gasoline which at that time was selling for about $2.50 a gallon in most places. (It amazed him that within a given state gasoline prices seldom varied more than a penny or two per gallon from station to station. Price fixing among the majors?  Naahh.)

    In Camden today a gallon of high test costs about $4.50 a gallon or $2 more than it did in 2005.  If taken today Uncle Jack's "Great American Road Trip" would cost (for gasoline) about $1332 more or $11 per day for the 120 days they were on the road. That's a chunk of change but he doubts that it would have deterred them from setting out on the most exciting and educational adventure of their lives.  (They could have made it up several times over by dropping their one-week cruise to Alaska which turned out to be primarily an adventure in gluttony interrupted by brief glimpses of the spectacular Hubbard glacier and a few  damp and unlovely villages like Sitka and Juneau).

     The author of the Times piece smugly reports that this summer he has come to his senses and is spending his vacation blissfully on a small island in Penobscot bay, not far from Camden, where cars are not permitted. While Uncle Jack can understand why he might be enjoying his island sojourn in spite of the incessant fog and rain he would hate to think that he and other Americans will be forever proscribed from hitting the open road just because gas prices in the U.S. are now beginning to approach what Europeans have been paying for decades.

     You might want to start your own hedge fund, though.

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The price of gas somewhere in the southwest in the fall of 2005.

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The party boat Monhegan from Rockland swings through crowded Camden last Friday afternoon. It's a good thing the trip wasn't scheduled for today.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:01 PM

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Saturday, June 28, 2008
Sweet Adeline, Saturday June 28, 2008

     Nothing much happened in Camden yesterday but it was a momentous day in Uncle Jack's life nevertheless.  With the help of his grandson Andy and  wife Liz he became a great grandfather for the first time (or as daughter Emily put it, he was pushed up to a higher branch on the family tree).

    Adeline Marie Van Hazinga, hitherto known as MiniVan, was delivered by Caesarean section at Mass. General Hospital in Worcester after giving everybody fits for the past couple of weeks.  She seemed to be determined to get out and get going a bit before her body was entirely ready but Liz and the doctors managed to put her off until it was safe.  She weighed just under six pounds at birth, almost exactly the birth weight of her father who is now six feet three inches tall and weighs a lot. Needless to say Uncle Jack is looking forward to seeing her and her parents a little later in the summer. He wants to get a basketball into her hands as soon as possible.


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Adeline Marie Van Hazinga, age one hour.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:31 AM

Comments [12]

Friday, June 27, 2008
Pandora's Box, Friday June 27, 2008

     It's another spectacularly beautiful day in Camden.  That's two in a row after a week and a half of nothing but fog, drizzle and thunderstorms.  A long walk and a brisk row around the harbor are certainly in order today before the wet stuff returns as it always does in coastal Maine.

     When inclement weather does resume, however, he will be better equipped than ever to pass the time indoors because yesterday he discovered "Pandora".  That's the clever and appropriate name for an online music website that appears to offer exactly what Uncle Jack has been searching for for the past couple of years.

    There are lots of online radio stations and music-related websites out there and he has tried many of them with differing degrees of satisfaction.  Now that he has found Pandora, though, he doubts that he will return to any of them.

    He still hasn't quite figured out everything he could do with Pandora if he wanted to but he is completely happy with what he has tried so far.  Basically Pandora is a huge treasure trove of recorded music organized into categories from which the listener can compile "programs" of his own choosing.  This morning Uncle Jack clicked on to the "New Orleans style jazz" and for the past hour he has been listening to a stream of excellent recordings by the likes of Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Jimmy Noone, Sidney Bechet and Muggsy Spanier.  What distinguishes Pandora from other similar collections he has sampled is the excellent quality and breadth of the selections in each category, several of which he has sampled since he discovered the site yesterday.

     The sound quality is excellent and the signal strong and consistent---no mysterious disappearances and resumptions.  For each track that is playing the album cover is shown and additional information about the artists and the recording is available if you want it in most cases.

    Perhaps the best thing is to let Pandora speak for itself.  To reach the home page click on the link below the pictures and check it out.  IT'S FREE!!


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Camden's outer harbor at sunset last night. It's getting crowded out there.

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Ditto the inner harbor. There aren't many empty mooring floats left.

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The windjammer operators are ecstatic about the change in the weather. This is Appledore's biggest load of paying customers since her return from Key West a couple of weeks ago.

link: http://www.pandora.com/corporate/

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:43 AM

Comments [5]

Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Sunshine at last, Wednesday June 25, 2008

     Once again Uncle Jack feels obliged to apologize for his slothfulness in the weblog department.  Between entertaining guests and his fascination with the book he is reading about the Bin Laden family he has neglected his authorial responsibilities for several days. Mea culpa.

    Had he written a blog entry yesterday it would have mentioned that Camden harbor was once again shrouded in fog most of the day which was capped by an entertaining series of thunderstorms in the evening.  Nothing new there.

     This morning, mirabile dictu, he was awakened by dazzling sunshine at 5:30 a.m. and the sun is still shining merrily away at 3 p.m.  For the first time in 11 days he was able to take Mini Too for a spin around the harbor this morning.  In the absence of his navigator, Mrs. U.J. who is visiting the grandchildren in Baltimore for a few days, he practiced rowing facing forward and he can tell you it went very well. His ancient neck will no longer turn far enough to allow him to look behind himself to see what he is going to run into so rowing forward is a sensible alternative.

      Uncle Jack does feel obliged to mention once more the book he is reading called "The Bin Ladens" by Steve Coll who is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker and an expert on the Middle East.  It is one of the most fascinating books he has ever read and he cannot recommend it too highly to all who have the time and the curiosity to want to learn more about a man who is even scarier than George W. Bush but with fewer resources at his disposal. They both claim to take their instructions directly from "God" and as we have seen that can have some dreadful consequences no matter which God is doing the instructing. 

   Have a nice day wherever you are.  

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The windjammer "Angelique" heads fearlessly into the thick fog that prevailed on Monday morning. She had 25 passengers on board who must be exulting at the return of blue sky and balmy temperatures today.

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The daysailers resumed operations this morning after what must have been a dreadful week. It costs $27 per person for a two-hour sail so you are looking at about $300 worth of passengers here.

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Camden-based yachts are back in action, too. This is one of Uncle Jack's favorites, "Redwings".

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The "kayak school" nearby is back in action, too. Watching the neophyte students bang into each other as they pass Uncle Jack's apartment is an endless source of schadenfreude for him. (Schadenfreude?)

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:31 PM

Comments [10]

Monday, June 23, 2008
Glub glub. Camden, Monday June 23, 2008

      Uncle Jack is happy to report that he had a most enjoyable birthday on Saturday in spite of the weather which is getting downright ridiculous.  The sun actually appeared for a couple of hours on Saturday but then the fog and drizzle rolled back in and here we are on Monday morning starting another week of same old same old.  The weatherman says we may see the sun again on Wednesday but he is no longer counting on it.

     Lucky for him the Camden public library has come to the rescue with wonderful books and entertainment during this week when walking, rowing  and other outdoor activities have been curtailed.  A couple of nights ago a familiar figure showed up at the library in the form of Bob Zentz who has been a leading light in the folk music scene in the Tidewater area since the 1970's when Uncle Jack first came to Nags Head.  He had a regular weekly radio show on WHRO-FM and presided over a popular music store on Hampton Boulevard called Ramblin' Conrad's for many years.  He is a wonderful singer and raconteur and master of a dozen different string instruments and it was sheer pleasure to hear him again.

     Uncle Jack's book of the week which he is about halfway through is called "The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century" by Steve Coll. Books like this make him wonder why anybody bothers to read fiction when real life stories are so much more interesting.

     So far he has learned that Osama's father, Mohamed,  was a dirt poor farmer from Yemen who emigrated to Saudi Arabia as a teenager in hope of finding work.  He and his brother lived in a ditch for months until they got jobs as bricklayers and were able to move into a house.  Mohamed's skill and industriousness as a bricklayer caught the eye of his employers who promoted him rapidly to more responsible positions and before long he started his own construction company.  Even though he could not read or write and had no formal training in engineering he took on bigger and bigger jobs and eventually became the king's favorite contractor which led to millions of dollars worth of contracts and great wealth for the family which grew to include over 50 children. (Osama was only one of 25 boys born to Mohamed's many wives. His own mother was 14 years old when he was born and when Osama married as a teenager his wife was 14 when their first child was born. Like father like son).

     Anyway it's a fascinating and nearly unbelievable story and it's bound to get even more interesting as Osama begins to play a bigger role in it.  Stay tuned.


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Bob Zentz and friends serenade a rapt audience in the Camden library last week. To hear a sample click on the YouTube link below the pictures. Bob is in the middle playing the autoharp.

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This osprey spent much of last summer perched on the mast of a sailboat in front of Uncle Jack's apartment whence he would pounce on fish below. Yesterday he reappeared for the first time this year through the fog.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k1xO7ol7B8

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:48 AM

Comments [3]

Friday, June 20, 2008
How long can it last. Friday, June 20, 2008

     Uncle Jack is beginning to sound like a broken record (remember records?) as he reports for the umpteenth day in a row that fog and drizzle have enveloped Camden, Maine and environs again today.  The weatherman says we won't see the sun again until next Wednesday but he has been wrong before so maybe we'll get lucky. 

    There was a pause in the precipitation this afternoon long enough for him to bail about 20 gallons of water out of Mini Too.  She was beginning to list a bit under a week's worth of accumulated rain but if and when he can go rowing again she will be ready.

    Two of Uncle Jack's favorite boats have found their way back to Camden through the fog and will probably be here for the rest of the summer.  Sumurun has a fascinating history worth googling. She added to her fame last summer by ramming another classic yacht in a race off Newport, R.I. and sinking it. Click on the link below the pictures for one of the many web entries about Sumurun.

    Don't look for Uncle Jack's weblog tomorrow because it's his birthday and he will be far too busy celebrating to spend any time in front of his laptop---even though it's the longest day of the year. Ciao.

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Camden harbor at 5:30 a.m. Friday. It stayed this way until almost noon.

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Sumurun was built in Scotland in 1915 and has been restored several times in her long life. She is one of the most famous of all the classic wooden yachts that will visit Camden in the course of the summer.

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The windjammer "Appledore" is back from a winter of daytripping out of Key West. She is the largest of the four boats that do regular two-hour trips several times a day into Penobscot Bay out of Camden harbor.

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Yet another of the lovely gardens that grace scores of Camden homes. They are thriving in the endless drizzle and will probably explode if the sun ever comes out again.

link: http://www.eastbayri.com/story/329745500488987.php

posted by Uncle Jack at 5:22 PM

Comments [5]

Thursday, June 19, 2008
Fog City, Thursday June 19, 2008

         Weatherwise it's another dreary day in Camden.  The early morning fog has dissipated enough to reveal the presence of the year's first cruise ship whose occupants have paid a small fortune to float around in the fog and drizzle of the Gulf of Maine for a week. Uncle Jack considers himself lucky not to be among their number.  (He also rejoices that he is surrounded by fog and not smoke).

He was dismayed, but not a bit surprised, to read in the morning paper that our esteemed president has called upon congress to "do something" about high gas prices by removing all restrictions on offshore drilling immediately.  The president must have realized that he has precious little time left in his tenure to present his cronies back in the oil patch with a last munificent gift so he came up with this ludicrous bit of pandering to the fears of the electorate. In any case it gives Uncle Jack an opportunity to dig deep into the archives for a piece he wrote years ago on the same subject, to wit: 

                         Drilling for Dollars


                     Drilling for Dollars

Dear Uncle Jack,

I read in the paper where the Chevron oil company wants to drill for oil about 40 miles out in the ocean off Hatteras. They say there is hardly any chance they will find anything but they are willing to spend a few million dollars to find out. Are those people nuts or what, Uncle Jack?



Dear Incredulous,

When he first read about this plan to drill for oil out in the ocean Uncle Jack thought it was pretty crazy, too, but then he started thinking about the other places they have gone looking for oil and it didn't seem so strange any more.

For one thing they found oil way up in the northern part of Alaska by the Arctic Circle and then they had to build a pipeline about a thousand miles long to carry it down to the nearest seaport which was a little fishing village called Valdez which you may remember reading about a couple of years ago when the tanker ran aground and spilled a zillion gallons of Valdez oil into the ocean up there.

Drilling a well off Hatteras would be a piece of cake compared to drilling wells on the Arctic Circle and if they did find oil they would only need a 40 mile long pipeline to pump it into the nearest fishing village. With a little luck Wanchese could be just as famous as Valdez some day.

If you ask Uncle Jack you have to give the oil companies credit for what they are trying to do which is to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. It is very scary to think that something like 70% of all the oil we burn up in our cars and trucks and airplanes---and most important our 4WD recreational vehicles---comes from unstable places like the Middle East and South America and Africa.

It is entirely possible that if Chevron brings in a big gusher or two out by the Gulf Stream America could reduce its dependence on foreign oil from 70% to maybe 69% for a couple of years before it runs out and they have to drill someplace else---like maybe off the end of Jennette's pier. By that time there could be so much oil on the beaches around here that nobody would care. Anyway Uncle Jack is glad that there are selfless, patriotic oil companies like Chevron who are willing to risk millions of dollars in what could well be a futile effort to free us from the specter of oil deprivation at the hands of greedy middle eastern potentates, some of whom probably do not even believe in the Bible.


Uncle Jack

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It's a long, wet ride in an open launch from this cruise ship into the town landing. Uncle Jack's heart goes out to the poor unfortunates who signed up to go cruising in Maine this week.

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A few brave souls brave the elements to take the first launch into town this morning.

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Meanwhile 25 thoroughly waterlogged passengers on the windjammer "Lewis R. French" return to the harbor after four soggy days cruising among the islands of Penobscot Bay.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:34 AM

Comments [4]

Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Oh didn't it rain, Wednesday June 18, 2008

     Camden isn't exactly Cedar Rapids yet but if the rain doesn't go away soon all bets are off.  Not so much as a glimpse of the sun has been seen in these parts since last Saturday morning and the weatherman says we shouldn't expect to see it for several more days. There was a break in the endless drizzle yesterday afternoon for a few hours so Uncle Jack ran out and took some pictures but otherwise he has been confined to his quarters since Sunday morning when he braved the precipitation long enough to fetch the Sunday Times.

     To compound his misery he used his confinement to finish reading a tome called "The Reagan Years" by a Princeton professor named Sean Wilentz in which the author provides a running commentary on American politics and government from the tragedy of Nixon (R. Cal.) through the  disaster of George W. Bush (R. Tex.) Uncle Jack lived through all of this, of course, which was depressing enough, but reliving this dreadful period in just three rainy days was not a wise move on his part.  It's enough to make even a self-respecting Republican weep.

     There was a lot of activity in the boatyard yesterday during the brief respite from the rain.  The classic wooden yacht "Sincerity", built for the founder of the Fiat auto company in Italy back in 1928, got a short ride in Wayfarer's traveling crane to the big barn where she will get a badly needed new paint job.  Moving a 95-foot boat with a massive keel is no small undertaking as the pictures show.  (You can watch the move on video by clicking on the YouTube link below the pictures). Google "yacht Sincerity" to learn more about this fascinating boat;  the interior is like a museum of 1920's design. 

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"Sincerity" is for sale if you're in the market for a classic yacht. She's a steal at the recently reduced price of $1.9 million.

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The crane can lift up to 110 tons in her straps and Sincerity comes close to the limit.

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And away we go at about a half-mile per hour. The crane was built in Italy just like the boat.

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A tight fit. Sincerity banged up her stern on the end of the Wayfarer dock coming in so she will probably be in the barn for a few weeks. Old wooden boats require tender, loving care.

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The Traveler put "Susanna" in the water just before tackling Sincerity. She is also a wooden boat more than 50 years old but she doesn't look it with her new paint job. Uncle Jack's apartment is across the harbor--the building with the white chimneys.

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Susanna is now ready to have her masts installed when it stops raining long enough. Her owner is a 74-year-old woman from Castine who consistently does well in sailboat races in this area during the summer.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNNiM-2q45U

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:19 AM

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Sunday, June 15, 2008
Rainy day in Camden, Sunday June 15, 2008
     Happy Fathers' Day to all who deserve one.  Uncle Jack is seizing this flimsy excuse to take the day off and wallow in the Sunday Times.

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When we arrived a month ago the Yellow House Gallery on Route 1 was in the beginning stages of conversion into an upscale outlet for the Cellar Door Vineyard which is out in the countryside near Camden.

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The Grand Opening was held yesterday and needless to say Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. were there to check out the free samples of life-prolonging red wine.

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The interior is as elegant as the exterior. The owners will have to move an ocean of wine to pay for all this splendor.

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They chatted with the owners of the elegant yacht "Kemmuna" from Leith, Scotland yesterday. They are scrambling to get the boat ready for chartering (at $20,000 per week)after an extensive "refit" at Wayfarer Marine.

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Re-installing the sails took up much of yesterday and required a trip to the top of the mainmast by this fearless young lady crew member.

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It's a long way up and a long way down.

posted by Uncle Jack at 5:23 PM

Comments [4]

Friday, June 13, 2008
Things are tough all over, Friday June 13, 2008

    Uncle Jack ran across an interesting editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper (online edition) this morning.  It was written by a New Hampshire businessman, Mr. Gerald Letendre, who is very concerned about the rising cost of energy because of the impact it is having on his and other American businesses.  Here is an excerpt from his article:

Gerry Letendre: We need to bring down energy costs, not raise them


THE RELENTLESS run-up in energy prices hits our wallet hard when we fill our car with gas, pay our home electricity and heating bills, and shop for food and other essentials. As a small manufacturer in Hollis, I also see firsthand the devastating impact of soaring energy costs on my company's ability to grow and create jobs.

My company employs 60 people who make aluminum components for a variety of end uses. U.S. manufacturers and our employees are disproportionately affected by soaring energy prices because our sector consumes roughly one-third of America's energy supplies. During the past year, my company's energy costs have risen by 44 percent, leaving fewer dollars for research and investment, training and job creation.

We must get energy costs under control. Unfortunately, in the heat of political campaigns, what we are getting is political posturing and bizarre legislative proposals, which, if enacted, can only serve to make our energy situation even worse.

How else can one explain serious proposals by candidates on the stump to address the energy crisis by imposing punitive taxes on energy companies? While this might raise revenue for the government, it can only lead to less investment in energy, hence less energy supply and higher prices for all.

And for what are energy companies being punished -- making a profit? If so, there are many other industries that earn higher levels of profit. Why are punitive taxes reserved for the energy industry? This is demagoguery ....

     (To read the rest of Mr. Letendre's piece click on the link to the Union Leader below the pictures).


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By sheer coincidence Mr. Letendre's motor yacht "Diamond Days" passed by Uncle Jack's deck this morning on its way to sea after a two-day visit to Camden.

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Weighing 96 tons, this Hatteras Yacht no doubt consumes a fair amount of energy when underway---another legitimate reason for Mr. Letendre to be concerned about rising energy costs (although he doesn't mention it).

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Mr. Letendre might want to think about trading in "Diamond Days" for a more economical boat like the "Lewis R. French" here shown on her way to sea propelled by a small outboard motor a few minutes later.

link: http://theunionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Gerry+Letendre%3A+We+need+to+bring+down+energy+costs%2C+not+raise+them&articleId=b52d4a42-1f11-4ab9-a7

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:33 PM

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Thursday, June 12, 2008
Fun while it lasted, Thursday June 12, 2008

     Uncle Jack has been up to his hips in small granddaughters for the past few days---a condition that is not conducive to any activity involving the use of computers.  The dining room table on which his laptop usually rests has been covered day and night by a dangerously adhesive coating made up of a melange of fruit bar crumbs, gummy bears, ice cream, peach juice, spilled milk and a host of other similar comestibles which provide the life force of American preschoolers at the dawn of the 21st century.  Under the circumstances Uncle Jack thought it wise to stash his laptop for the duration on a high shelf out of the reach of sticky fingers that could forever render his keyboard inoperable.  He apologizes to all those who have searched in vain for his weblog for the past three days and he promises to do better in the future.

     The weather has been magnificent all week and much has transpired in the harbor.  Except for one day it has been too windy to embark safely in Mini Too but now that their little visitors have departed Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. expect to resume rowing tomorrow (when he is not consuming red wine in the hope of living forever).


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The elegant yacht "Sapphire", all 100 feet of her, parked at the Wayfarer Marine dock for several days this week, leaving this morning.

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Sapphire charters with a crew of five for $40,000 a week and it's not hard to see why when you Google "Yacht Sapphire" and check out one of the several entries that pop up for her.

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"Belle" of Nantucket is another distinguished visitor. After wintering in Camden she will soon depart for Nantucket where a "club" of owners will use her as a party boat. Click on the YouTube link below the pictures to see her in action.

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Lupine grows wild all over mid-coast Maine and it is at its peak right now. Gorgeous.

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Last night's sunset viewed in reverse by looking east.

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The fog rolled in Tuesday evening but had departed by morning Wednesday.

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Not your typical visitor to Camden harbor. This work barge and crane spent the day replacing pilings at the Yacht Club next door.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA3vbXIiWeg

posted by Uncle Jack at 5:56 PM

Comments [2]

Monday, June 9, 2008
It's hot in Camden. Monday June 9, 2008

      If you call 84 degrees fahrenheit hot that is---and here in air-conditioned Maine that's what they call it. If they only knew.

     Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. spent a good part of yesterday tooling around the harbor in Mini Too.  They would do the same again today except that they have to drive to the Portland airport and collect her adorable granddaughters, Isabella and Sophia, who are coming from Baltimore for a short visit.  More about that tomorrow.

     Wonderful news in the New York Times!  Scientists have discovered that the copious ingestion of red wine by mice has amazingly beneficial effects on their longevity.  They are not sure yet that it will have the same effect on humans but Uncle Jack is not going to wait around for them to find out.  He has started his own experiment with the help of his neighborhood Rite Aid which sells a tasty little merlot for $3.59 a bottle without a prescription.  He will keep you posted.

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Mrs. U.J. took the oars for the first time yesterday and rowed like a pro. That's Curtis Island in the distance where they plan to have lunch one of these days.

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A sign of the times in Camden. There are still six empty storefronts downtown as the summer season begins.

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Uncle Jack is not sure why this boat is still high and dry but the land wife might have something to do with it.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:52 AM

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Saturday, June 7, 2008
Camden is Cool, Saturday June 7, 2008

     The great heat wave hasn't reached Camden, Maine yet for which Uncle Jack is thankful.  In fact it's a bit too windy and choppy for geriatric rowers like him and Mrs. U.J. to navigate the harbor safely this afternoon for which they are not thankful.  It should be in the low 80's by this time tomorrow which will be enough to make the locals wonder if the world is coming to an end. Most of the outdoor thermometers up here do not read past 75 F.

     With summer approaching activity in the harbor has stepped up a notch. Some harbingers of the coming influx of super yachts have appeared in recent days, most notably the elegant 62 foot racer "Visions of Johanna" which Dylan fans will remember as the title of one of his many incomprehensible songs.  In this case Johanna is the wife of the owner who may or may not get to sail on it once in a while. It is not unusual for the owners of sleek racing yachts to spend more time on their boats than with their wives. (Money, too).

     "Visions of Johanna" was built not far from Camden and is only a little more than a year old.  For a quick digital tour of this gorgeous boat click on the link below the pictures.

    Uncle Jack finish reading the biography of Pistol Pete Maravich yesterday.  It's one of the saddest stories he ever read.  This morning he started a biography of Ronald Reagan for reasons that he will probably never fully understand.




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"Visions of Johanna" arrived last evening skippered by her owner who neatly brought her singlehandedly into a berth at the town landing not 10 feet from Mini Too.

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And here's Mini Too, right on the other side of the float from Johanna. In Uncle Jack's eyes she is just as pretty.

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Like the harbor the Farmers' Market gets busier every week. Mrs. Uncle Jack scored some fresh organic greens, some homemade chorizo sausage, some free range eggs from happy hens, and a formerly happy hen weighing 4.02 pounds for Sunday dinner.

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The windjammer "Angelique" returned this morning from a three-day cruise into the fog and drizzle of Penobscot Bay. You win a few, you lose a few when you go sailing in Maine at this time of the year.

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The party boat "Monhegan" from Rockland made its first sweep through Camden harbor this afternoon. It can sometimes be a bit raucous but today's group must have been a bunch of Republicans.

link: http://www.chuckpaine.com/pdf/62VISIONSOFJOHANNA62.pdf

posted by Uncle Jack at 3:56 PM

Comments [3]

Friday, June 6, 2008
Day of the boat, Thursday June 4, 2008

    An exciting day for sure. The sky cleared sufficiently at noon for Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. to take possession of the rowboat they have been eyeing for the past week which they then proceeded to row around the harbor twice without sinking it.  They have joined the fraternity of wooden boat owners whose lives from now on will be inescapably tied to the insatiable demands of their craft for sanding, painting, caulking, bailing and tender, loving care of all kinds.  All that will come later, though, and for now all is pleasure.

    To top off an altogether splendid day (which also included getting a new cell phone) they went to a concert by an excellent folk music group called "Free Seedlings" at the Camden Public Library.  The three-man band features a precociously talented banjo and mandolin player named Jeff Lewis who can pick with the best of them at the tender age of 16.  Uncle Jack made a short video of the group at full tilt which you can check out by clicking the YouTube link below the pictures.

     And now it's time to row, row, row that boat.


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Captain Jack provides the propulsion....

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...while Mrs. U.J. enjoys the view from Mini Too.

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Free Seedlings: Jeff Lewis, his dad David Lewis, and Bennett Konesni. Three very talented musicians.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIDSLFGkRI8

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:50 AM

Comments [7]

Wednesday, June 4, 2008
100% chance of rain, Wednesday June 4, 2008

     The weatherman knew whereof he spoke when he came up with this prediction last night.  It has drizzled all day and shows no sign of stopping any time soon.  Needless to say this was not a good day for Uncle Jack to acquire a small rowboat and paddle it around the harbor so that long awaited event will have to wait until tomorrow. (?)

     He and Mrs. U.J. did manage a quick dash to the library this morning where he returned the bio of Isaac Newton and the dreadful story of the Bush family which he finished yesterday.  As a kind of palate cleanser he picked up a biography of the late "Pistol Pete" Maravich whose basketball exploits had Uncle Jack in a tizzy back in the 70's.  Seeing Pete and his  Atlanta Hawks team mates looming over a boarding desk in the Delta Airlines terminal in Atlanta one night was one of the high points of Uncle Jack's life so far.  Isaac Newton made a lot of important discoveries but he never made a left-handed, behind-the-back, lookaway pass as far as Uncle Jack knows.




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These flowers are so big and gaudy they look like fakes from a few feet away.

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Camden is ablaze with color at the moment.

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These were side by side with the flowers in the previous picture.

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The ferns seem to be greener than usual, too, perhaps because of the frequent rain and unusual warmth of May.

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The lovely motor launch "Belle" of Nantucket is two years older than Uncle Jack. She leaked so badly she nearly sank when the Wayfarer crane dropped her in the water yesterday but diligent pumping kept her afloat until her seams tightened up.

posted by Uncle Jack at 5:12 PM

Comments [8]

Tuesday, June 3, 2008
What a difference a month makes, Tuesday June 3, 2008

     Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. arrived in Camden four weeks ago yesterday which has given them pause to look back on the changes they have observed taking place around them.  The first two pictures below pretty well sum it up;  the hills overlooking Camden harbor which were still winter brown when they arrived have metamorphosed into lush spring green and the harbor itself which displayed only empty mooring floats is now nearly filled with boats of all kinds.

     The outdoor waterfront restaurants, shuttered when they arrived, are now open and moving a lot of lobster rolls at least on weekends.  A growing but still painfully small number of tourists can be seen windowshopping on Main street where moose and lobster-themed souvenirs are as ubiquitous as Hatteras lighthouse replicas in Nags Head. About a half-dozen prime storefronts are still empty, though, which is scary for the Chamber of Commerce considering that the Fourth of July is only 30 days away.

      Have a nice day wherever you are. This could be a big one for Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J.  Stay tuned.


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The harbor and the hills beyond as they looked four weeks ago.

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And this is how it looks this morning.

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Too Elusive got a new sail yesterday. Here the crew is removing the old sail which operates much like a roll-up window shade.

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Almost finished.

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On with the new. This isn't as easy as it looks with a brisk wind blowing.

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Done. The whole operation went off without a hitch and took the three-man crew about an hour.

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Rain clouds passed through the area late in the afternoon yesterday and produced a magnificent rainbow which hung around for about 15 minutes. Uncle Jack's camera couldn't really capture it.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:29 AM

Comments [4]

Monday, June 2, 2008
Jolly Old June, Monday June 2, 2008

     A local sports car club celebrated the arrival of June yesterday with a show of classic English (mostly) motorcars on the street in front of the historic Camden post office.  Lucky for everyone involved the first of June was a flawless day weatherwise and a good time was had by all.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. had thought about entering the Mini but decided that it wouldn't be fair to the local Mini owners to walk away with the "Cutest in Show" award with a car from "away" that has only been here for a month.

     Saturday's all-day downpour made it possible for Uncle Jack to immerse himself in the new book he started after finishing the little biography of Isaac Newton he mentioned last time.  He can tell you it was a depressing experience because the entire book is about the history of the Bush family and how it rose to prominence in American politics. It is called "American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush" and it was published in 2004, the year that a majority of American voters astonishingly elected George W. Bush to a second term in spite of everything he did in his first term.  The book was written by Kevin Phillips, a distinguished author of nine books of political commentary and a Republican no less. Uncle Jack does not recommend this book to anyone who would like to continue to believe that our political system is not badly in need of repair.

     If the rain holds off this could be the day they finally acquire a rowboat.  Stay tuned.  

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The old and the new. Two Minis side by side.

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Uncle Jack is not sure how this ancient Bugatti got into the show.

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If he remembers correctly this is a Bentley of a certain age. The motor looks like it could pull a train.

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The Lotus was not exactly a "street machine" except when it was tearing up the streets of Monaco back in the days of Jack Brabham and the other great English Grand Prix drivers.

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James Bond preferred the Aston Martin which was probably better for picking up girls.

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The Minis again, from the front. Let's face it, the Germans make a better Mini.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:49 AM

Comments [4]

click picture for more
After retiring in 2005 after 35 years as owner/operator of Yellowhouse Gallery and Annex on the Beach Road in Nags Head, Uncle Jack, accompanied by Mrs. Uncle Jack (a.k.a. Susan), commenced to travel extensively. This blog is a chronicle of their ramblings around the U.S. (in their redoubtable Mini Cooper convertible) as well as visits to England, Ireland, France, Italy, and Malta, interspersed with lengthy stays in South Nags Head and Baltimore between trips. He took a lot of pictures along the way, many of which are posted along with each blog entry.
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