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Monday, July 28, 2008
Sandbags and Super-yachts, Monday July 28, 2008

      Sunday was brisk and  breezy in Camden with not a trace of the fog that has rolled in and out incessantly for the past couple of days.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. made a futile attempt to row Mini Too out to where the super-yacht "Rebecca" is anchored but the wind and incoming tide were too much to overcome.  "Rebecca" is the star of the show here right now even though "Tenacious" has returned and is tied up to the dock opposite their apartment.  To learn more about Rebecca simply Google "yacht Rebecca" and take your pick of the dozen or so websites that extoll her virtues.  She is something else.

     Up here on the rockbound coast of Maine Uncle Jack has not given much thought to beach erosion and sandbags in recent months but he ran across an interesting piece in the Virginian-Pilot yesterday which he has reprinted below as a public service for readers who don't have access to that esteemed journal.  Enjoy.   


First to go will likely be the beat-up, uncovered sandbags that block public access on the beach. Next could be the ugly bald bags piled willy-nilly in front of oceanfront houses.

Now that the state has inventoried all the exposed sandbags protecting properties in coastal counties, a priority list for removal is being made in preparation for sending notices to property owners.

Ted Tyndall, assistant director with the state Division of Coastal Management, said the information, including links to photographs of structures and a Google base map pinpointing their locations, will be available online by the end of August.

Of the 370 sandbags permitted in the state, about 150 are subject to removal, Tyndall said in a telephone interview Friday after his presentation to the state Coastal Resources Commission. The division surveyed the condition, location, number, time they've been there, and the degree they were covered with vegetation.

"Staff has looked at every single sandbag we have on the coast," he said.

The southern end of Nags Head, a rapidly eroding strip of beach south of Whalebone Junction, has the majority of the state's exposed bags, although Tyndall said he does not have the up-to-date number available.

"There are some in South Nags Head that will rank extremely high," he said.

Attention has been concentrated on sandbag permits in communities that were actively seeking beach nourishment as of October 2001. The state had extended the deadline for their removal until May 1, 2008. Sandbag structures with active permits are not affected.

Nags Head is part of a federally approved Outer Banks beach nourishment project, but Congress has declined to fund all but the initial phase. In a 2007 referendum, taxpayers overwhelmingly voted against paying for a town project. A recent proposal by the town to use dredged sand from Oregon Inlet to nourish the beach was found to be in conflict with plans for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to use the material in Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

In prioritizing the removal, Tyndall said, the commission also considers whether the structure is protecting a residence or a public property, and whether the community is seeking beach nourishment. Nags Head's pursuit of beach widening projects, he said, is a "low to moderate level."

Nags Head Mayor Renee Cahoon said on Friday that the town is still pursuing permits for the $32 million nourishment project voters turned down. The town hopes to find funds for it at a future date.

Notices to property owners to remove the bags will be sent out in waves of 15 or 20 starting at the end of August, Tyndall said. Otherwise, he said, the commission could be faced with having 150 variance requests filed at one time.

Property owners have 30 days to respond after receiving the letter. If they do not comply, a formal notice of violation will be issued by the division.

Mack Paul, a partner with K & L Gates in Raleigh, said the law firm is representing 49 property owners who have sandbag permits in North Carolina. Of those, he said, about 20 are in Nags Head.

Paul said that 29 variance requests filed in April were deferred until the meeting this week. With the commission's support of rule-making that would allow more time for inlet hazard areas as well as for communities seeking sand replenishment, filing of all variance requests will now be reassessed, he said.

The goal for Nags Head property owners, he said, is to give them enough time to keep the sandbags until the beaches can be widened.

"I think the homeowners would like to be more engaged with the town in pursuing beach nourishment," Paul said.


Catherine Kozak, (252) 441-1711, cate.kozak@pilotonline.com


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Uncle Jack borrowed this picture from Rebecca's website. He hopes to get a close-up himself before she leaves.

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A better view of Whitehawk's beautiful white hawk taken from Mini Too on Sunday.

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Whitehawk in profile. You can see from the flapping flags that the wind was fierce yesterday morning.

posted by Uncle Jack at 6:32 AM

Comments [9]

Saturday, July 26, 2008
Whitehawk's in town, Saturday July 26, 2008

     "Whitehawk", one of the world's most beautiful yachts, tied up at Wayfarer Marine this morning.  Amazingly she has a connection with the Outer Banks, or more accurately, with Manteo.  Some readers may remember that back in the early 80's when the Elizabeth II was under construction in the boat shed in downtown Manteo the man in charge was an imported boatbuilder from Maine named O. Lie-Nielson.  It so happens that O. Lie-Nielson was from Rockland, Maine where he had a boatyard in which he built the now-famous "Whitehawk" whose pictures adorn this page. It is a small world, is it not?

      For a better look at Whitehawk, inside and out, click on the link below the pictures.  She's a beauty. (If you Google Whitehawk you will have a large number of websites to choose from. This is no ordinary sailboat).


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Whitehawk from Uncle Jack's deck, shortly after she arrived this morning. She is 105 feet long and dwarfs the little sailboat in the foreground.

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Mini Too allowed us to get up close.

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The carved wood decoration on the transom is a work of art.

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Spring Time is one of the moderately large stinkpots in the harbor at the present time. Nothing special as these things go.

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Mrs. U.J. spotted this stinkpot bearing down on Mini Too as we were heading back to the town dock.

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Uncle Jack turned on the afterburners and we escaped to the shelter of the windjammer Mary Day.

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Whose bowsprit appears in this picture as the "Salt Wind" passes by.

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One last look at Whitehawk close up. Her woodwork is exquisite. She got a new owner, name unknown, on July 1 after an extensive refit last winter at the Hinckley boat yard in Southwest Harbor, Maine.

link: http://www.eastcoastyachtcruises.com/yachts/whitehawk.php

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:53 PM

Comments [2]

Friday, July 25, 2008
Arabella comes calling, Friday July 25, 2008

     Yesterday it was "Namoh", Queen of the Stinkpots, and today it's "Arabella", Queen of the Three-Masters.  If the name "Arabella" sounds vaguely familiar you may be a regular reader of the New Yorker magazine in which a small, full-color ad for this magnificent cruise ship appears in every issue. (It's on page 40 of the July 28 issue).

     At the moment Arabella is anchored in the outer harbor, occasionally visible through the mist and fog that has enveloped Camden for the past couple of days.  According to its published itinerary it will be moving on today to other fog-shrouded places like Stonington and Bar Harbor but will return in a few days for one last stop on the way home to Newport, Rhode Island.  If the weather improves Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. may be able to row out in Mini Too to get a closer look.

     Arabella is truly something to behold even through the fog.  She is 160 feet long and carries up to 40 well-heeled passengers on short five or six day cruises around New England in the summer and fall and the Caribbean in the winter.

     To get a virtual look at this dreamboat click on the link below the pictures which will take you to Arabella's rather elaborate website.

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If the fog lifts Arabella may be able to find Bar Harbor sometime in the next couple of days.

link: http://www.cruisearabella.com/

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:31 PM

Comments [2]

Thursday, July 24, 2008
A Beeg One, Thursday July 24, 2008

       Just when Uncle Jack was beginning to despair that he would get to see a mega-yacht this summer the stupefying "Namoh" arrived at the Wayfarer Marine dock yesterday morning.  She takes up 124 feet of dock space which must cost a pretty penny and might partially account for her weekly charter fee of $125,000. (That and the cost of diesel fuel to fill her 8500 gallon tank). 

    Uncle Jack could go on at great length listing the superlatives of this over-the-top boat which is listed among the 200 largest  American-owned yachts but there is no point in doing that when those who are interested in how the other half spend their tax rebates can easily Google "Namoh" and read all about it.

     He will mention that Namoh was built in China but don't go rushing off to the nearest Wal-Mart because you won't find another one there.  The builder is a company called Cheoy Lee which has a fascinating history which you can read all about on their website which you can reach by clicking on the link below the pictures.

    It's foggy and rainy in Camden this morning so rowing is not in the picture. Instead Uncle Jack will head for the library and look for a large-print book on the Hubble space telescope.  He and Mrs. U.J. went to a lecture last night by the director of the Hubble telescope project for NASA and he can tell you his curiosity has been piqued. The sound system was lousy (and so are Uncle Jack's ears) so he couldn't understand a word the man said but his photo slides were stunning. Stay tuned.


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"Namoh" quietly burning money while tied to the Wayfarer Marine dock in the fog.

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One of Namoh's eight crew members who keep her spic and span at all times. Who says the "trickle down" theory doesn't work?

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The stairway in the front is used by the crew when they need to clean the windshield.

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Meanwhile back in the real world the flowers are benefitting from all the fog and rain.

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A friend of Uncle Jack's had a border collie and he can believe that this bumper sticker might speak the truth.

link: http://www.cheoyleena.com/index.php?sec=2667

posted by Uncle Jack at 3:46 PM

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Conway House, Camden, Wednesday July

     It was too windy for safe rowing yesterday morning so Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. took the opportunity to visit one of Camden's lesser-known treasures---the Conway House and Mary Meeker Cramer Museum---hidden away in the woods adjacent to the Hannaford supermarket off Route 1.  The house dates to the early 1770s and was enlarged by subsequent owners in the early 1800s.  It was refurbished by the Camden-Rockport Historical Society about 50 years ago and has been open to the public during the summer season ever since.

     It is probably accurate to say that only a tiny fraction of Camden's visitors (or locals for that matter) ever visit the Conway complex, which includes the unpretentious but richly furnished Mary Meeker Cramer Museum and a number of authentic old farm buildings.  This is sad because it is an absolute gem--- one of the most interesting and charming facilities of its kind that Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. have discovered  in all their travels. They spent several hours there yesterday but will have to return in order to do it justice.  It will be a pleasure.

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5 a.m. Wednesday. The sun struggles to be seen but loses. Twenty minutes later the fog had obscured even the big stinkpot moored to the Wayfarer Marine dock.

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Conway House, c. 1770. It is chock full of interesting period farmhouse furnishings but photography is not allowed inside the house so this is it.

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The barn is magnificent, perhaps four times the size of the house.

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Side view of the barn. A New England classic.

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The barn is loaded with period farm implements, wagons, carriages and other odds and ends, all with descriptive labels.

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Even an old post office along with a carved wooden horse.

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The century-old maple sugar shack is also quintessential New England. It was moved to the Conway House grounds from another location in Camden many years ago.

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The Mary Meeker Cramer Museum, named for its benefactor, is also on the Conway grounds and contains a magnificent collection of artifacts including this wooden replica of the Great Seal of Maine. The figures are nearly life size.

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The venerable motor yacht "Pyewacket" arrived yesterday from her home port in Norfolk, Va. She looks a bit like a floating sun porch. Her gas tank holds 3000 gallons which at $5.20 per gallon at the Wayfarer pump means a $15000 fill-up. Aargh.

posted by Uncle Jack at 3:05 PM

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Sunrise in Camden, Tuesday July 22, 2008

    Uncle Jack was awake for sunrise for the first time in a long time this morning and the pictures prove it.  It wasn't spectacular but it was refreshing and came as a pretty sequel to last evening's truly spectacular rainbow.  Uncle Jack has seen a lot of rainbows in his long life but none to match the two that appeared simultaneously at about 7 p.m. and hung around for fifteen minutes or so.  He took some pictures and sent them off to his friend Holly Anderson at the Village Soup online newspaper and she incorporated them into a nice little article which you can see for yourself by clicking on the link below the pictures.

     This morning he and Mrs. U.J. visited a delightful local museum which he will tell you about tomorrow.  It's a gem.

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5:10 a.m. Tuesday

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Five minutes later.

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And five minutes after that.

link: http://knox.villagesoup.com/Community/story.cfm?storyID=122223

posted by Uncle Jack at 2:19 PM

Comments [2]

Monday, July 21, 2008
Singin' in the rain, Monday July 21, 2008

    It was a lovely weekend in Camden---up to a point.  That point was noon on Sunday when the drizzle started and from the looks of the clouds this morning it could drizzle forever.  The remnants of Cristobal are expected to affect coastal Maine for the next couple of days so Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. will have to store the oars for a while.

     They could use a rest anyway after the exertions of the past few days.  On Friday they rowed to the outer harbor to investigate a spectacular yacht which arrived on Thursday.  It's called "Tenacious" which at first Uncle Jack thought might be Ted Turner's yacht of the same name but this one is much newer and bigger.  It's 115 feet long and sports a carbon fiber mast that appears to be even taller than the boat is long.  It charters for $55,000 a week and if you would like to see why you can check out this website. http://www.fraseryachts.com/Charter/Yacht.aspx?ID=Y5195_MC

     At noon on Sunday the first of the big show-off stinkpots, "Moon River", glided through the drizzle to her usual parking place at the Wayfarer dock.  She is especially conspicuous this summer because last year by this time a dozen of these diesel-guzzling monstrosities had come and gone from Camden harbor.  Can it be that even the super-rich owners of these playthings are suffering from inflated fuel prices? Naah.

     Yesterday's rain freed up enough time for Uncle Jack to finish reading a splendid biography of Albert Einstein by Walter Isaacson which was published a few months ago to critical acclaim.  Einstein's various theories in the realm of physics remain totally opaque in spite of the author's best efforts but learning about Einstein the man was a revelation.  Uncle Jack wishes he were still alive today to offer an Einsteinian assessment of the follies of the Bush administration. (Cheney would probably have him locked up as a security threat).  It's a great book about a great man and Uncle Jack is grateful that he could read it in the large-type format or he might have gone blind in the process.




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Approaching "Tenacious" in Mini Too. Googling revealed that the mast is 143 feet tall and strong enough to carry two gigantic sails.

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Tenacious is registered in Bikini in the Marshall Islands, a noted tax haven for wealthy yacht owners. Pretty flag.

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Even when it is anchored Tenacious appears to be flying.

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"Fancy Free" spent Friday at the Wayfarer dock. Fancy may be free but the diesel to run her isn't.

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This condo development was carved out of the Wayfarer Marine boatyard back in the '60's. So far Camden voters have prevented Wayfarer from converting any more of the yard into residential development.

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These two old boatbuilding sheds on the left are likely to be replaced by modern structures in the next few years. Too bad because they add a lot of charm to the harbor and provide a link to the past.

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"Moon River" is a regular visitor to Camden. No relation to Andy Williams as far as Uncle Jack knows.

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Jennie and Gigi, our weekend guests, frolic in the weeds at Curtis island, to which they paddled in their new kayaks on Sunday morning along with Mini Too.

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Saturday night's sunset was lovely but the colors were a little too delicate to be captured digitally.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:38 AM

Comments [2]

Friday, July 18, 2008
Sunny days in Camden, Friday July 18, 2008

     True summer seems to have arrived in Camden at long last.  Yesterday was another in a string of flawless days that seems destined to continue through today from the looks of it.  The harbor is glassy calm, flags on nearby boats hang limp and the temperature is rising rapidly as the sun climbs through a cloudless sky. 

    In other words another perfect rowing day.  There is a huge yacht moored in the outer harbor that invites inspection so after breakfast Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. will point Mini Too in that direction and check it out.

     Yesterday they broke new water as it were by circumnavigating Curtis island, an adventure that took them briefly out of the harbor and into greater Penobscot bay where ocean swells can be detected.  They were never more than 50 feet from shore but it was a thrill to feel the immense power of the ocean as they oscillated their way around the island.  Scientists and entrepreneurs who advocate tidal forces as a way of generating electricity are very much in evidence in Maine these days, as are the wind power folks. Maybe something will come of it this time with Al Gore's help.

    What with the annual art show in the harbor park, the annual book sale at the library and company coming for the week-end Uncle Jack is unlikely to have time to blog again until Monday morning so give your mice a rest.  Have a lovely week-end.

     P.S.  Click on the YouTube link below to hear  "Steelin' Thunder" play "Stars and Stripes Forever".  Try to imagine what a Jamaican bluegrass band would sound like and give them a break.

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/mdheadlgfvI&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/mdheadlgfvI&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>


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Redoubtable Mini Too takes a breather on the gravelly beach of Curtis island. Beach erosion is not a major problem here.

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Curtis Island Light and keeper's house from the south.

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Ditto from the north.

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They were surprised to see "Too Elusive", their neighbor back in the harbor, heading out into an almost totally windless bay.

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It's a long way back to Mt. Battie and Mt. Megunticook but we made it in about a half hour with Mrs. U.J. at the oars.

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We were close enough to the windjammer "Mercantile" to hear the shouts as the crew and passengers raised the heavy mainsail. They would need every inch of sail they could find this morning.

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With all sails up they appeared to achieve a speed of approximately one knot, slightly slower than Mini Too.

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This sleek beauty is the largest "stinkpot" in the harbor at the moment and it's not very large. We are still waiting for the first monster show-off boat to arrive.

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"Corisande" comes and goes from the yacht club all summer. It appears to be some kind of ex-military boat that has been converted into a luxury yacht. Uncle Jack will try to learn more as the summer progresses.

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The Camden Yacht Club next door threw a party last night so we were serenaded for two hours by an indigenous steel band called "Steelin' Thunder". They are a lot better than they sound on Uncle Jack's video.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:50 AM

Comments [6]

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Adventure in Mini Too, Wednesday July 16, 2008

     A spate of glorious weather has settled over mid-coast Maine this week and Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. have been enjoying it to the hilt. Camden harbor was glassy calm and fog-free yesterday morning so they decided to make another pilgrimage to Curtis island and this time stay a little longer.

     Uncle Jack did the rowing on the way out which took perhaps twenty minutes under perfect rowing conditions. It was high tide so they beached Mini Too on a tiny expanse of sand which passes for a beach around here and set out to explore the island.  After an hour of alternately walking the path that completely encircles it, sitting on benches and admiring the views, and chatting with a group of fellow visitors who had reached it by kayak they retrieved Mini Too from what had become a much wider expanse of sand in the interim.  Lucky for them their little craft is easily draggable or they would have had to wait for the return of high tide.

     Mrs. U.J. took the oars for the return trip which at first looked like a piece of cake but rapidly deteriorated as a strong wind blew up out of the south and started pushing Mini Too to the north while Mrs. U.J. tried valiantly to keep her on a westerly track.  After a half-hour of struggle against the elements we fetched up on a private dock in Sherman's Cove, far from our destination, where Mrs. U.J. cheerfully relinquished the oars.

    Summoning all the strength and rowing chops of his intrepid Viking forebears Uncle Jack pulled as though his life depended on it (even though it was only lunch and a bottle of Pilsner Urquell at stake) and in fifteen minutes Mini Too rounded the corner into the sheltered part of the harbor. While they never thought they were in danger their adventure was definitely a learning experience.  On the water the unforeseen should be expected and can happen at any time. Whew.

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Ogier Point, named for a farmer who tilled these fields, now upscale real estate, back in the 1700's. He kept his cattle on Curtis island which was then known as Negro island.

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This lobsterwoman was checking her traps around the island while we sat on a bench and watched and concluded that lobstering is very hard work.

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Looking back to Camden harbor whence we had come.

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A view of the harbor from the other side of the island. A portion of the legendary "rock bound coast of Maine" with Mount Megunticook in the background.

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Tourist surveys the broad expanse of Penobscot Bay with Vinalhaven island in the distance.

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Picturesque Curtis Island Lighthouse which, with any luck, will never be converted into condos.

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These kayakers, most of them novices, had a really tough time getting home.

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Fortunately there are no deer on Curtis island and therefore no Lyme-disease-carrying ticks. Lyme disease is getting to be a serious problem around here.

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Mini found a playmate in the parking lot at Hannaford's supermarket yesterday. Nothing came of it.

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The end of a perfect day.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:40 AM

Comments [19]

Monday, July 14, 2008
"Tabor Boy" visits Camden, Monday July 14, 2008

     It's a foggy Monday morning in Camden harbor but who could complain after an absolutely flawless weekend like the one we have just enjoyed. Yesterday Uncle Jack spotted an interesting looking vessel moored out at the farthest reach of Camden Harbor so he and Mrs. U.J. hopped into Mini Too and rowed out to see what it was.

     It turned out to be the "Tabor Boy", a nearly 100 year old, ninety-foot, two-masted schooner built in Holland as a pilot boat in 1914.  Later Googling revealed that since 1954 it has been a training ship for students at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts.  Further Googling produced the website of Tabor Academy itself, which Uncle Jack had never heard of, but which turns out to be a very unusual school with a remarkable history.  If you have an interest in such things, or even if you don't, he highly recommends that you click on the link below the pictures and take a look. Ashland, Wisconsin high school, where Uncle Jack matriculated lo these many years ago, left a lot to be desired in retrospect.

     Tabor Boy makes a seven-week cruise to Maine waters every summer which is open to all incoming students at the academy and the crew is made up of older students. Can you imagine the "What I did Last Summer" papers those kids will write when school starts next fall.

     It was a long haul out to Tabor Boy but with Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. sharing the rowing they had enough energy left to go for a walk in the afternoon and take in the beauty of the many landscaped yards in the neighborhood.  If the fog lifts they will do the same today.

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"Tabor Boy", one of America's most unusual classrooms.

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This big cat called "Ka Hoona" brought to mind Glenn Eure's sculpture in front of the Ghost Fleet Gallery called "Big Kahuna".

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Returning to the town dock Mini Too got a good look at the competition, namely the windjammer "Mary Day" which can carry a few more passengers but isn't nearly as pretty.

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On the way home they passed this newest of all the commercial enterprises in downtown Camden which opened yesterday. It has an old-fashioned brick pizza oven from which heavenly aromas were emanating. They also make gelato which is bad news for Uncle Jack

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This house on Chestnut Street is one of their favorites for obvious reasons.

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That's a cruise ship about to be engulfed in a huge fog bank on Saturday. A few minutes later she was invisible.

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"Aleria" visited Camden on Saturday. Her owners started a wonderful organization called Sail4Kids which you can read about by going to this website: http://www.sail4kids.org/S4K-AYC.html

link: http://www.taboracademy.org/

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:15 AM

Comments [2]

Saturday, July 12, 2008
Sharp's Point South, Saturday July 12, 2008

     It was too windy yesterday for safe rowing in Mini Too so Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. decided to visit Captain Jim Sharp's latest venture in nearby Rockland---Sharp's Point South.  Captain Jim is  a legendary figure in these parts and now, at the age of 75, he has taken on a project that would be daunting for men half his age.

     They first met him last year when he gave a talk at the Camden Library and signed copies of his new book "With Reckless Abandon" which tells part of the story of his amazing life as a mariner and entrepreneur.  His talk on that occasion described his involvement with the filming of Kipling's "Captains Courageous" starring Karl Malden, Ricardo Montalban, Neville Brand and a host of others in Camden back in the 70's.  Captain Jim's schooner "Adventure" was used in the filming and his anecdotes about the Hollywood contingent were hilarious.

    Last year he bought a piece of property on the waterfront in Rockland that was the former home of Maine's "Outward Bound" program.  His dream is to convert one of the buildings into a marine museum and to offer space in the complex to other marine-related businesses.  Lucky for Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. Captain Jim was on the premises and gave them a guided tour of the entire operation. You can get the whole story by clicking on the link below the pictures. 

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At Sharp's Point South the building on the left will become the maritime museum. Down the road it could become a major draw for visitors to the area who are interested in the history of sail and steam-powered marine commerce in the Penobscot Bay area.

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Sharp's Point South is located on the site of the Snow shipyard which was once one of Maine's largest. The magnificent schooner Lucinda Snow was built here in the 1890's and served well until 1930 when it ran aground at Hatteras.

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The current "flagship" at Sharp's Point is the Norwegian sail-assisted motor vessel "Rekord" built in 1914. What a story this ship has. Captain Jim is restoring it at the dock, an arduous and expensive process.

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A young man who is working on Rekord was more than happy to put down his wire brush and give us a tour of the boat. It needs a lot of work but it's worth it.

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This restored "longboat" once belonged to a much larger vessel. It has ten rowing seats and the oars are mammoth. Mini Too this is not.

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"Sharpie's Shack" is a former storage building in which Mrs. Captain Jim serves fabulous home-made chowder and crabmeat (local) sandwiches that are out of this world.

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This working shipyard near Sharp's Point shows that Rockland's history as a center for marine-based commerce still continues.

link: http://www.sharpspointsouth.com/

posted by Uncle Jack at 5:09 PM

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Thursday, July 10, 2008
Lazy Jack, Thursday July 10, 2008

     "Lazy Jack" is the name of Uncle Jack's favorite Camden windjammer and it could also serve as his pen name these days.  The weather has been so conducive to outdoor activities that he has found it difficult to sit in front of his laptop long enough to do a blog entry.  Today is no exception but he did feel obliged to at least post a few pictures from this beautiful place.               Perhaps it will will rain again one of these days and he can tell you all about the biography of Albert Einstein he is reading. It's a lot more interesting than you might think, relatively speaking.

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This fiberglass confection has been tied up at the town dock for several days. Apparently the owner can't afford to run it. It's called "La Dolce Vita" which might have been apt before gas hit $5.00 a gallon.

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Mrs. U.J. rowed us over to get a closer look at "Cuilan", a gorgeous 56 foot ketch build in Scotland in 1970. She spent the winter in storage at Wayfarer Marine.

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"Medallion" has been tied to the Wayfarer dock for a week now. Another gas guzzler that is much cheaper to operate when it isn't moving.

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Like Islesboro island Camden has a few rather impressive "summer cottages".

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Another thriving flower garden on Bayview street. The poppies have popped.

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Anybody recognize this tree? They're in bloom all over the place right now. Shooting into the sun doesn't help.

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These folks got a bit tangled up in front of Uncle Jack's apartment but managed to extricate themselves without damage. Never a dull moment in the harbor.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:05 PM

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Fogless Camden, Tuesday July 8, 2008

       For the first time in weeks the fog lifted long enough and the wind died down enough for Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. to make their long anticipated trip to Curtis Island in Mini Too this morning.  The island is only a few hundred yards outside of Camden harbor but it looks farther when one is attempting to reach it in a little rowboat.  The route to it is subject to swells coming in from Penobscot Bay and larger boats sometimes kick up formidable wakes that can pummel a small boat so the trip is not without its hazards.  All went well, however, and another trip is already on the agenda when conditions permit---this time with a picnic lunch in tow. 

     Curtis Island is devoid of buildings except for a lighthouse and the keeper's house which is occupied in the summer by a couple who have been the caretakers for 29 years since the Coast Guard ceded the island to the Town of Camden as a public park.  As the photos suggest it is beautifully kept and a wonderful amenity for locals who have the wherewithal to reach it by boat. We will be going back again and again for sure.



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Curtis Island dead ahead, or dead behind depending on how you look at it.

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Looking back toward the harbor. Mini Too arrived at low tide but nearly floated away on the incoming tide while we visited the lighthouse.

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Lighthouse, keeper's house and outbuildings. The light still operates but is completely automated.

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A great place to sit and have lunch while watching the sailboats in Penobscot Bay.

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Mrs. Conover, the caretaker, tends to her lovely flower garden. She visited the Outer Banks earlier this year but didn't seem terribly impressed. Living here we could see why.

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The Curtis family of Saturday Evening Post fame still owns numerous properties along the shoreline opposite the island which is named for them. They have been summer residents for over a century.

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Looking north into Penobscot Bay, one of the great sailing areas of the world.

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An osprey built this huge nest on top of the keeper's house chimney this spring but didn't occupy it for some reason.

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The neatly mowed field leading to the "harbor" where Mini Too awaits. The Conovers do a marvelous job of keeping the island looking inviting for visitors.

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Lots of rowers were out this morning.

posted by Uncle Jack at 6:00 PM

Comments [895]

Monday, July 7, 2008
Unrise in Camden, Monday July 7, 2008

     Except for the raucous dinghy parade (see Friday's entry) this was an uncommonly quiet Fourth of July weekend in Camden--or at least it seemed that way to Uncle Jack. There were no monster motor yachts in the harbor to ogle unlike last year when they were all over the place.  Perhaps even zillionaires reach a point where they hesitate to fill their 2000 gallon fuel tanks.

     The weather was flawless except for the fog that started every day and continued to roll in and out of the harbor all weekend.  The day sailers managed to make a few trips between fog banks so it was not a total wipeout for them. The fog is so thick this morning however that the big windjammers which usually set out on their five-day trips on Monday morning are going to have a tough time.

     Uncle Jack particularly enjoyed one major article in the Sunday Times yesterday which explored the roots of the current gasoline price "crisis" (which it is if you're on a modest fixed income and driving a gas-guzzling SUV or monster pickup truck as so many Americans are).  He wallowed in schadenfreude (there's that word again) as he thought about how smart he was when he bought the Mini three years ago instead of a Lincoln Navigator or a Cadillac Escalade or even, God forbid, a Hummer. He should probably be ashamed of himself for gloating but he can't help it.

     He is also extremely lucky to be living in a place like Camden where he can walk to just about everything he needs-- grocery store, drug store, bank, bookstores, library, post office. His carbon footprint up here is about the size of the average piping plover's.  How smug can a person get, he wonders.

     Meanwhile the shopkeepers of Beijing are preparing for an influx of English-speaking shoppers during the Olympics.  Thanks to Only Begotten Daughter Emily for forwarding the pictures below.


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Sunrise in Camden, 5:30 this morning.

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This classic wooden boat passed by yesterday. They don't get any prettier than this.

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Yesterday was a great day to air your spinnaker if you happened to have one.

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This gas guzzler refilled at the Wayfarer pump yesterday. Uncle Jack shudders to think what it must have cost at $5.20 a gallon.

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The neighborhood flower gardens are thriving, perhaps because of their daily application of fog.

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A Chinese Hooters perhaps.

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Somebody must have put hot sauce on it by mistake.

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This one should draw a crowd.

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What is the sound of one hand crapping?

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Smoking permitted.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:43 AM

Comments [3]

Saturday, July 5, 2008
Sunrise (YES!) in Camden, Saturday July 5, 2008

     This morning for the first time in many weeks Uncle Jack and the sun got up at the same time (5 a.m.) and he has a picture to prove it. (see below)  It was not a particularly spectacular sunrise but after weeks of early morning fog it was very welcome.

     The Fourth of July turned out to be quite special for more reasons than just the Yacht Club dinghy parade which he filmed in all its noisy glory yesterday. Just as Uncle Jack was preparing to take his afternoon nap a friend stopped by and invited him to go for a sail which was an invitation he could hardly refuse. They departed from the Yacht Club at about 1 p.m. and returned at 7 and he can tell you it was exhilarating to say the least.  He may find it difficult to adjust to the more sedate pleasures of rowing around the harbor in little Mini Too after racing across Penobscot Bay propelled by a stiff breeze out of the south.

    Much to his regret the battery in his camera went dead halfway through the trip and he missed some wonderful photo ops as they passed a number of large windjammers in full sail---one of the most glorious sights available at sea.  C'est la vie.  Maybe next time. 

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"Too Elusive", the elegant 80 foot racing yacht that has been parked in front of Uncle Jack's apartment for the past month departed yesterday for a short cruise with owner Kitt Watson at the wheel.

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This osprey (and family) live on the channel marker at the entrance to Camden harbor.

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We sailed across the bay to Isleboro island where numerous persons of note (most famously actor John Travolta)own summer "cottages". This one was believed to be owned by actress Kirstie Alley of "Cheers" fame in years past.

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Another of the Isleboro "cottages".

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A sailboat race was in progress as we passed by. It was hard to tell which boat was winning because they all seem to go in different directions.

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Richard Anderson makes adjustments on a sail while the boat flies along on automatic pilot. If he had fallen overboard at this point Uncle Jack would have been completely at the mercy of the sea, the temperature of which is about 50 degrees right now.

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As promised, this morning's sunrise over the harbor.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:13 AM

Comments [5]

Friday, July 4, 2008
Big Fourth in Camden, Friday July 4, 2008

     The weather is perfect for a change and the harbor is jumping.  The first mega-yacht of the season has arrived, the annual dinghy parade from the Yacht Club went off without a hitch and dozens of sailboats that haven't left their moorings for a month are preparing to go forth into the bay where a brisk breeze is blowing.  Uncle Jack made a short video of the great dinghy parade which you see by clicking on the YouTube link below the pictures.

     He and Mrs. U.J. hope you are enjoying the Fourth wherever you are.  

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The first monster stinkpot of the season is moored in the outer harbor but it's too far out for Uncle Jack to read the name.

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He and Mrs. U.J. went to a concert last night at the 19th century Rockport Opera House. This marvelous old building nearly fell victim to the wrecker's ball a few years ago but a group of public-spirited citizens rescued it.

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The dinghy parade forms up in front of the Yacht Club. See the parade by clicking on the YouTube link below.

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Sooner or later just about every kind of boat ever made turns up in Camden harbor. This racing scull went by this morning.

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"Beluga", a beautiful 1920's "commuter yacht" elegantly restored by a wealthy local, pulls up to the Wayfarer pump for a few hundred gallons of $5.00 gasoline. Sometimes it's nice to be rich.

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Sailing and talking on a cell phone at the same time can be dangerous.

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Uncle Jack's neighbor Fred owns this tiny lot in downtown Rockland which houses a hotdog stand. Fred did the beautiful landscaping.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FMT_Y04RjI

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:11 PM

Comments [4]

Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Foggy day in Camden town, Tuesday July 2, 2008

      This fog thing is getting ridiculous.  Yesterday and again today the fog in the bay was so thick the windjammers could not operate.  How they will feed their families this winter is getting to be a serious question.  Actually the fog is pretty much confined to the water and the shopping streets are unaffected so the 'jammers loss is the downtown merchants' gain in the summer struggle for the tourists' dollars.  

      Uncle Jack has been reading a lot of stuff lately about the forthcoming summer olympics in China .  It reminded him about a piece he wrote about the summer olympics in Atlanta about a dozen years ago which he has unashamedly dredged out of the archives for just this occasion:

            Olympic Porchsitting   

 Lucky for Uncle Jack the Olympic Committee has not made Porchsitting into one of the official games yet because he is not too crazy about the idea of being in Beijing at this time of the year, especially if he had to engage
in serious competition with the best Porchsitters from all over the world in all that terrible air pollution they have over there.
   He knows it is only a matter of time before Porchsitting gets approved as an official Olympic Game because the A.A.R.P. has been lobbying pretty hard for it  the past couple of years and they usually get what they want. Maybe if Uncle Jack is really lucky he will be able to compete in the summer games
in London in the year 2012 because he knows from experience they have very good beer over there and it is not so hot and humid.              
   Anyway he is going to keep honing his Porchsitting skills which he feels are already world class in some areas such as Osprey Appreciation, Porpoise-spotting, Gull-feeding from the
Prone   Position, Pelican-counting and Synchronized Rocking (with Mrs. Uncle Jack). He needs more polishing in  
a few others like Avoiding Eye Contact With the Renters Next Door. (He still has a tendency to let   himself be drawn
into banal conversations which cause him to lose concentration and which could cost him points in international competition).
   Sometimes Uncle Jack finds himself pining for the old days before TV when the athletes were all amateurs more-or-less and they competed against each other pretty much to see who was best instead of to see who was going to get the most money out of it.  It is hard to believe any more that not so many years ago the great Jim Thorpe had to give up his Olympic medals because he had made a few bucks   playing semi-pro  baseball. That sort of thing seems downright un-American now when every member of the U.S. men's basketball team is a multi-millionaire professional player and that's considered o.k.
    Uncle Jack got a big kick out of an article he read somewhere this week by Roger Angell who is probably the best writer on the planet to waste his time writing about sports who points out the supreme irony of the American basketball "Dream Team". As weird as it sounds those filthy rich N.B.A. stars come as close as any of the olympic athletes to the old notion of  competition for competition's sake. All that matters to them is showing the world that they are the very best at what they
   No need to worry about finding corporate sponsors to foot the bill for year-round training camps. No worry on the part of the players about who is going to get the shoe contract--
they have all the best ones already. They play for the sheer pleasure of playing and maybe a little bit for the fun of humiliating opponents from basketball hotspots like Argentina where most of the players were probably
chasing cattle around the pampas until recently.
   About the only fun a contrarian like Uncle Jack can get out of watching the American team play is when some upstart bunch of former gauchos plays them dead even for ten minutes or so and occasionally pulls off a play that leaves five of the best players in the world looking for someplace to hide. 
    Uncle Jack needs to return to the porch now for another gruelling practice session so when the time does finally come he will be ready.
   He could use a nice shoe contract to supplement his social security check which seems to be getting smaller every month.

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This yacht crept out of the harbor on little cat(amaran)feet this morning at six. (With apologies to Carl Sandburg).

posted by Uncle Jack at 3:29 PM

Comments [4]

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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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