- Name: Lonnie Bruner
- Location: Washington, DC, United States
I live in DC, sail the Chesapeake Bay, have a lovely wife who's a web designer, a young son, an unruly hound dog, and am interested in most everything in the world. Oh yea, and I love the smell of burning trash in the Third World. That just gets me going.
- Got Towed, Drank, Danced a Little ...
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- The Pinnacle of Sport Fishing: Catching a Blue Mar...
- Bars in India: Like 100 Years Ago in the USA
- Atlantic Rockfishing
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Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Paul Watson of Whale Wars: The Most Irresponsible (but Entertaining) "Captain" in the World
The show reveals this raw truth in every episode. In the season opener the captain decides to plow through expansive iceberg fields in pursuit of Japanese whalers even though the ship's hull is not built to withstand ice. He sends two 20-somethings into the hold, allegedly to patch an oncoming breach in the metal hull (like they could actually do anything to stop water of that kind!) The kids nervously watch as the steel creaks and flexes and the paint cracks on the inside from the massive ice chunks trying to send them to Davy Jones' Locker. The entire crew was in real danger of dying, simply because the captain wanted to get to some evil whaling ship so they could throw stink bombs at them -- really, stink bombs. Their main tactic is to throw stink bombs at whaling ships, and nearly die trying.
In last night's show, we again see what a heartless bastard Watson is when he finds that one of the crewmembers from the Japanese whaling ship has fallen overboard. That evening, Watson spots the whaling ships' spotlight looking for their dead shipmate. But no matter -- Watson decides it's time to send out their fleet of fast inflatables to harass them with the nautical equivalent of toilet-papering an enemy's house. Most of the crew is obviously uncomfortable being pissant nuisances while the whaling ship is searching for a dead person, but captain's orders are orders. They suit up and go.
The only reason Watson is able to accomplish such dangerous acts is because he has surrounded himself with the young and the stupid. Some of the young people onboard are genuinely smart but, I think, blinded by their idealism that they're actually saving whales. The stupidest person onboard is certainly Peter Brown, Watson's sycophantic First Mate. We witness his terrible leadership one time when it appears that the scout boat is lost at sea, and he has no idea what to do. One of the younger crew takes over to begin a search pattern and they find the lost boat. Last night Brown ignored satellite images of ice flows because he trusts his own instincts better than "computer screens"; he misses the break in the ice which could have brought them to safety. It's not until the more intelligent younger members of the crew come on watch to save the crew from being crushed by ice.
And all of this brings me to the question of why these people think they're saving the Earth by playing kids' games with massive ships and a big budget in the middle of the most dangerous oceans. Let's be honest with ourselves: in 2009, people support people like Paul Watson because whales are charismatic mega fauna, not because saving the few that are currently hunted is key to saving biodiversity. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad there's an international ban on whaling. Whales are beautiful animals and that's why they deserve protection. If whales were small and ugly, no one would give a fuck (or give less of a fuck). Japan kills 1,000 minke and fin whales per year and while there is disagreement, it's not a threat to the species. Even so, Japan should be stopped, but the main thing Watson's adventures do is make good TV. Even Greenpeace agrees with me.
UPDATE: I was wrong about Watson choosing to harass the whalers while they were looking for their dead crewmate. Watson radioed to the whaling ship that he would not harass them and would assist in the search for the dead man. However, the whaling ship radioed back and said they did not require cooperation from "environmental terrorists."
Thursday, June 18, 2009
My Wife Is Pregnant. 14 Weeks.
I'm logging a mental list of all the things people say I am not going to be able to do after I have a kid. Then, I'm going to go through that list and check them off after I do them. I mean, come on, I can just bungie-cord the stroller to the mast and sail the seas like before. That's no issue as far as I'm concerned.
And I vow to talk on and on ad nauseam about babies and parenting around people who don't have kids. Childless people LOVE that.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I may be the only person I know who looks forward to getting older.
This may not sound becoming, but a year after his wife of 60 years died, he had some rough spots. The story goes that my mom found him alone in his Norfolk Virginia home with empty cans of Coors Light strewn about, passed out on the couch (he'd only been a moderate drinker). At the time, that was hard to hear, but now I think that was the best course of action for him to take. When his lady died, it was rough for the old man. Why not show some sympathy and say, hey, he at least deserved to get blotto one last time before the nursing home.
On the subject of getting old, you have to admit, one of the worst clichés in the universe is "Life is Short." God damn, it is NOT. I can prove it.
I am 35 years old and feel like I've been living for-fucking-ever. How many animals on the Earth can claim to have been around 35 years? It's amazing to think that I will likely continue to live for as long as I have already been living. You follow me here? My life is probably not even half over, if statistics are correct.
Here's another part: I've already got the old-guy habits and tastes down pat. Scotch? Like it. Classic cars? Got one. Old sailboats? Love 'em forever. Now all I need is golf, but I have no one to go with, despite having some of the best courses close by ... Derek?
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Urban Fishing Means Fat Brown Nasty Carp
This fish tastes disgusting so no one eats them -- always catch and release -- so they grow to be HUGE, like the one pictured caught in the Tidal Basin in sight of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
But damn, it's hard to catch these beasts because they're so wily and smart. Check out the elaborate carp rig I have to figure out how to put together. Note that the bait is not even supposed to be on the actual hook! WTF?
Apparently, carp are so smart that they can sense that there's a hook in the bait and won't take it. You're supposed to suspend the bait above the hook so they chew it and suck the hook in accidentally. I've been fishing since I was three years old and have never heard of a fish doing this or a rig like the one above. This is going to be a challenge.
I've found a spot on Rock Creek where I've seen big carp and have sat for a couple hours without catching a one. But I am determined to get one before winter.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Hey Asshole, Here are a Few Things NOT to Say When Sailing with Me.
1 - DON'T keep musing to everyone onboard how you can't believe that you hate being on the water this much, especially after I've given a few subtle reminders (FOUR TIMES) that "that's the last comment I wanna hear about this." Just because I'm smiling when I say that, doesn't mean I'm joking.
2 - DON'T continually make stupid jokes about how slow sailboats move. We are all aware that sailboats go considerably slower than stinkpots (motorboats). That doesn't take a masters degree in physics to understand.
3 - DON'T make anti-sailboat comments more than twice. You get two, but that's it. Yes, the rivalry between sailors and stinkpotters has a long history and has been well-catalogued on this blog. And it really is funny, but these jokey conversations are best had on land; at sea, they're just annoying -- especially after the 10th joke about how much my sailboat sucks to you. Fuck off. Really.
4 - DON'T continually spout off about how you cannot understand why anyone would want to spend the day on a boat. Why the fuck are you even here if you didn't "understand" that simple-to-understand phenomenon?
5 - DON'T pretend you don't know why some aspect of sailing is occuring -- like when the boat heels (leans) -- just so you can in turn make some snide comment that what's happening doesn't meet your standards or is annoying/ridiculous to you and would NEVER happen on a motorboat.
In short, you should treat someone's boat like it's their house. I would never come to your house and complain about your choice of paint or furniture or location to your face. That's rude. I've been on motorboats and had a great time, even though I would've rather been sailing. But to remind the owner of your disapproval multiple times makes you a huge asshole. Shouldn't that be common sense?
I'm not sure who's worse -- complainers or doomsayers. Perhaps the former.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
"Alternative Medicine" is 99% Bullshit, NIH Concludes. No Duh.
"Ten years ago the government set out to test herbal and other alternative health remedies to find the ones that work. After spending $2.5 billion, the disappointing answer seems to be that almost none of them do.This news makes me feel happy while being angry at the same time. Generally speaking, people who advocate pseudoscience like all those frauds falling under the rubric of "alternative medicine" can go fuck themselves. All the crap you've been dicking us about is now officially bullshit. At least we can get back to the scientific method instead of messing around with kid's games.
'You expect scientific thinking' at a federal science agency, said R. Barker Bausell, author of 'Snake Oil Science' and a research methods expert at the University of Maryland, one of the agency's top-funded research sites. 'It's become politically correct to investigate nonsense.'"
"Driving a 50-Year-Old British Sports Car is the Automotive Equivalent of Sailing." -- Dan K.
But to sail a boat over 20 feet takes training, time, dedication, practice, lots of mistakes, near death experiences, bruises, blood (really), some muscle-work (feels like going to a gym sometimes), danger, old-school techniques, getting wet, cold, and when it's done, and you're close to mastering it, the best part -- pride. This is something most stinkpotters will never understand (ok, I can't fault them for wanting to lie around and get drunk on a boat, but you see my point: I WORK to get to that. They don't.)
And now that I've obtained a 1960 MGA from my friend Dan while he's working at the US embassy in Rome, I'm realizing that what he said was correct: stinkpots are to sailboats what regular ("reliable") cars are to antique cars.
When in high school I owned an 1966 GTO and a 1972 Cutlass so I remember what owning an old car was like, but it's been over a decade. Man, that smell -- that SMELL -- of an old car brings me back to those days.
And it's not the type of car any ole person can just plop into, turn the key, and go. For this 50-year-old vehicle, you need training -- even for the finicky-ass, mother-fucking stick shift -- and it helps tremendously if you've actually gotten your hands blackened while working on it to the point where the black spots only wear off with time -- often over a week. I have. And I feel like I earned my right to drive this sonuvabitchuvacar.
I always keep in mind that driving and maintaining this relic from the late 1950s takes some Fonzie-style intuition -- the kind of skills where you have to knock the thing just so with your fist or elbow, with the right amount of swagger and confidence, so things work and run correctly. Unfortunately, these are not my strong points; I try, giving it my best, but often fail at this intuition with cars and sailboats and houses all the same. Oh well.
Here are some similarities between owning an old sailboat and owning an antique car: 1) the wife likes it less than I do; 2) the wife sometimes gets worried, too hot, and uncomfortable while riding in it (while I'm having a fucking blast); 3) I need to keep an entire tool set, flashlight, and three fire extinguishers in it at all times; 4) When I get in the cockpit (or driver's seat) to take a trip, I am aware that there is a decent chance that I will have to pay someone to tow me back home; 5) I'm constantly thinking about where that dripping liquid is coming from, what color the liquid is, and how much time I'll have to spend replacing that liquid; 6) I have to put on sunscreen before I go out in it; 7) my full attention is needed to drive it; 8) old guys like it.
As an adjunct to that last point, I'll add one thing that's different from a sailboat, at least as far as public reactions go: black dudes, latino dudes, old white guys, and kids -- in that order -- seem to like the MGA more than any other group, whereas with sailboats, the interest is mainly white folks (male and female) from the ages of 34 to 90.
The BEST was when I drove up to Dad's house in Gaithersburg. My Dad's 80-year-old neighbor came ambling out after I parked the MGA in the driveway. His eyes were wide while he looked at this old-ass car I'd brought over --- running his fingers over the vinyl interior and fenders, talking and asking questions about it. He said he had a car like this in 1957. It made me feel great to then ask, "Wanna go for a ride?"
We drove down Needwood Road past the golf course, past Montgomery County's lush trees under a blue sky with some cotton clouds overhead. I drove this old guy 30 miles-per-hour and we didn't care if the car was old and unreliable. I looked over and the old man had a slight smile on his face, sitting silent. I think I made his day driving around in this 1960 car for 10 minutes. His wife said so. That one trip made all the hassle with this car worth it. I've had instances like that sailing a hundred times.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
More Freaking Sailing Trip Photos to Bore You With
I described the places we went and what we did in these photos in a separate post, so I'm not going to re-tell it here. I will, however, give a recommendation for the new camera I just bought.
I got this camera and if you're considering buying a point-and-shoot, you should buy that Panasonic Lumix for the following reason: my wife works at National Geographic and knows people who work with the N.G. Photo Camp. Apparently, the Photo Camp photographers all use that Panasonic as their cheaper camera.
I just got it yesterday. It seems damn easy to use, not expensive ($249) and takes excellent photos.
In about 20 days, I will have been writing this blog for five years. I need to give myself a kick in the butt to crank out more posts.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
First Set of Annual Sailing Trip Photos
Sadly, we were not able to crossbow any cownosed rays, but we did catch a 25-inch rockfish, which you see at right.
The high-fives I'm giving in the first photo was taken right after we landed the fish. I'll post my own photos later, when I buy a new camera that can take the old (full) memory cards. I dropped my old camera in the saltwater and it's now dead.
Pictures from last year's trip are here.