Saturday, September 30, 2006

Me and Paris Hilton

Had a jolt of time travel the other day while reading a Post and Courier article about two local SCUBA divers mixing gases so they could dive deeper. I flashed back to my stint with CBS Television News and our 1971 coverage of the Sealab III disaster. It was located off San Clemente Island, California at a 600 foot depth.

An online story refreshed my memory of the inquiry into the death of an Aquanaut in 1969 during the US Navy's experiment to have divers walk on the ocean floor. I had not thought about it since but apparently that was NOT the end of the experimenting. The Navy continued but in deep secrecy and the US used this deep diving capability during the Cold War.

At the inquiry we were told that "saturation diving" was developed because at depths of more than 100 feet, oxygen becomes toxic and hydrogen acts as a dangerous drug. By using mainly helium - which is not toxic - and small amounts of oxygen, divers could go to new depths. Of course, breathing helium, all communications sounded like a Donald Duck convention!

Unbeknownst to us, about the time of the inquiry, the Navy had sent a specially-designed submarine to the Soviet Sea of Okhotsk and, using work pioneered by Sealab, divers ventured out and retreived Soviet test missiles. They even placed a tap on a Russian undersea phone cable that helped US intelligence.

This activity came to light when some details were declassified and showed up in "Blind Man's Bluff," a 1998 bestselling account of Cold War submarine espionage.

The first Sealab was placed in the ocean in 1964 off Bermuda but ended after only 11 days. The next year Sealab II was placed at 205 feet in the ocean off La Jolla, near San Diego. The habitat settled on the bottom at an angle hence it was nicknamed "The Tiltin' Hilton."

Re-reading all that reminded me that 10 years later, the first - and only - time I went to Paris, France I stayed at the Hilton.

Yes, the Paris Hilton. Nice place. The Eiffel Tower is really close by.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Fun Blog-nic and A Fund Raiser

What a nice busy weekend.
On Saturday, I drove out to James Island County Park to meet with fellow bloggers for our first "family style" gathering. The addition of small children running around was a new element not seen at the first Block, er, Blog Party that was held down by the Aquarium nor at the West Ashley dinner site up the street from the famed Cisco's - Mexican with a deck - on Sam Ritt. Kids and picnics seem to go hand in hand.

Instead of a group photo of everyone showing off their cameras, this time the discussion touched on the many advances in cell phones and we found mine was the only one that was low-tech...JUST a phone. No camera, GPS, games, etc. A useful, portable tool to call someone and just use to talk with them. Duh.

The next day, I drove out the same route on Folly Road all the way to Bowen's Island to listen - and participate - in a musical fund raiser to benefit Autistic Children and "Camp Good Times." Andy "Smoky" Weiner, local Blues harp player and singer, organized the event and said ROCK FOR THE KIDS raised about $1200-$1500 since all the food was donated by Mimi's Restaurant, the Bowen's Island Restaurant donated the site and even the individual band members paid their $10 admission.

At one point, Andy wandered down the pier to greet a boat that had just tied up with 7 people on board and he came back smiling with a check they wrote for the charity.

Andy Jennings had his accordian going full bore - and later brought out his keyboad - so there was some jumping Cajun Zydeco sounds waiting to happen.

The sun set on a good fun day for a good cause at a great waterside venue overlooking our beautiful Lowcountry marshes and the Stono River. Nice weekend!

Monday, September 18, 2006

That GUY at Chazzfest....

What a beautiful day. Clear skies and not too hot or humid for the 1st Annual Chazzfest on Daniel Island.

No need for my "concert boots" that had been crucial in the Mississippi Muddy Beale Street Blues Bash in Memphis or my floppy wide-brim Tilley sun hat and excessive sun block as I sweltered on the sizzling asphalt parking lot in Columbia for the 3 Rivers Music Festival.

This is a VERY easy drive compared to five hours on the road to Atlanta for the Midtown or that late night return down from HOB in Myrtle Beach.

Yep. Hope they do it again next Hurricane Season and maybe make it a full-blown 2-day event. Yeah, add a day!

Missed the opening Plantation Singers but joined the campers in the woods and sat on a log to listen to Drink Small then wandered over to the #2 stage by the tennis clubhouse for some DumstaPhunk by Ivan Neville. He smartly invited the ladies to join him on stage - sorta like Robert Randolph does - and we enjoyed a bevy of local beauties.

The City Paper's Locals stage introduced me to the energetic LESLIE trio and some fiddlin' Sam Bush Bluegrass had me primed and ready for The Buddy Guy.

I've seen enough of his concerts to KNOW he's going to leave the stage and work his way through the crowd at some point. They loved it at Family Circle Tennis main court! People were hanging over the railing in the upper deck taking snapshots as he moved along, singing and playing his guitar.

And, I guess everyone else figured out they could either buy a 12 oz. can of beer for $4 or a 16 oz draft for the same price. In Charlotte once, I paid $7 for a draft. Sometimes I practice moderation moderation.

Well, the closing act was HUGE. This time I abandoned my prized spot on the security rail right down front and sat up high to catch the full spectacle. Wow. The lights. The excellent sound.

Al Green really belted out song after song, backed by a larger band (19 pieces) than when Harry Connick Jr opened the Performing Arts Center with his 17 band members. The opening bars tipped off the appreciative crowd and the singalongs from the 70s began. It truly was a day long music festival with something for everyone.

Of course I would have been in trouble if there had been a drinking game going on: down a beer everytime Al Green drops his microphone. About a 6 pack.

See you there next season.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Time Travel

Don't know if I'll get a response but I sent a note yesterday to a Marine Corps buddy I haven't talked to in 50 years. Hmmm. Guess we weren't THAT close.

Try using Google to type in a name and see what happens. I think of it as traveling through time. Actually it was about 48 years ago when I last talked with Bob.

Google came up with Bob's name but added "Junior." The hometown was right and I remembered that he had had a child so what-the-hell, I e-mailed a note asking if he happened to know the Bob I was seeking and immediately an email came back that said "Small world, that's my dad. Here's his phone number. I'm sure he'd like to hear from you." I sent the kid another note asking for his dad's email address and attached the above picture, suggesting he send it to his Dad. I added "I am STILL the one with hair."

That was yesterday and I've had no further response. maybe his Dad - about my age - doesn't like computers. Maybe he doesn't check his email often. Maybe he has a rotten son with a terrible sense of humor. He was a Sergeant back then and I was only a corporal. Maybe it's a rank thing. Still.

Maybe he wears a toupee. Yikes.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Shutting The Door On The Shower story

Began blogging the end of March 2006 and started on my Taj Mahal Shower project in April. Both projects have taken a lot of time. One has been a constant joy and the other has had its moments, ups and downs. One has barely begun, the other is over. Done. Door closed. Literally, as of today.

Along the way I found a few talented and dedicated craftsmen so if you are searching for an expert plumber - one who actually calls or stops by to see how things are going - or a true handyman who is a "jack of all trades." Maybe you need an excellent deck-builder or an artist who works with marble and tile. Just let me know. I will share their names and how to contact them.

If you are looking for a general contractor to oversee a major project around your home, check with me on that too. The Better Business Bureau has some suggestions you should follow and I know at least one name you can cross off your list.

So the bathroom "upgrade" project is completed and the deck was expaned so it stretches across the entire back of the 2-story house. A window was removed and replaced with French doors so I can stand up from the computer and walk out onto the deck and enjoy the ceiling fans located beneath an overhang my Dad designed. The fans really do keep away the bugs and the weather is nice enough now to entice me outside.

I live in a house that my Dad built. He was a fantastic carpenter and cabinetmaker and the first thing he added to their small 800 sqft house was a 50 x 20 foot work shop downstairs. He expanded the front of the house too and the back and today it's about 4000 sqft.

I was able to finish parts of his dream house and added central heating and air but I'm sure he never envisioned the bathroom I have!

Dad also would not recognize "the shop" after I found that Lowe's offered discounted mis-matched paint for $3 a gallon or $1 a quart.

Someone comes in, they mix a color and it's not right so Lowe's started selling these oddball colors very cheap.

I have gathered together quite a selection and downstairs now is VERY bright and colorful. It used to be dark and looked like.... a work shop.