Tuesday, December 23, 2008



Final Destination

Here I sit in Georgetown, at the bottom of the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas. It has been quite a journey through the islands getting here, every stop we have made in the Bahamas has been an amazing experience. It is nice to be settled down in one place for a while though. It is especially great that we get to see the people who are coming in for the holiday season to enjoy the beautiful Bahamian weather. My Aunt, Uncle and 3 cousins are here now, my Mom Dad and brother are coming in on Christmas eve, and Kariiiiiii is coming on the 29th! Woo!

After a beautiful gulf stream crossing and our stay at the Barry Islands Club, we began our journey through the islands to make our way to Georgetown. The Barry Islands Club was a perfect way to start the journey, it was just a little house where two guys lived and ran the joint, and ran it quite well, it was a nice little place. Our first day there we had to check in at the airport, we are illegal aliens, not allowed to touch the shore until we check in. Grandad wasn’t feeling well on the day we checked in, so I had to go to shore and act as “master” of the boat and do the loads fo paperwork for everyone aboard. We were walking to the airport when we were offered a ride by a dude passing in a golf cart. Myself and 4 other guys from the various boats we had met climbed into the golf cart, and on the way, as I sat in the back bed of the cart screaming down a dirt road, kicking up dust on our way to a ¾ mile stretch of concrete they call an airport… I knew this trip was going to be even more awesome than I imagined.

After waiting out the weather on a mooring ball at the club, a mooring ball is basically a permanent anchor with a line attached to a float that you just grab and hook onto instead of putting down your own anchor, in true Bahamian fashion, the mooring balls at the Barry Islands club were attached to trucks, cranes, and huge diesel generators that had been blown into the bay by a hurricane 30 years ago, so they were plenty secure to hold us through some wind. Well after waiting out some nasty weather, which they call a norther, which is just when we get a little taste of the crappy weather you all are experiencing up north, we headed out to Nassau. Coming into Nassau we were greeted by the towering behemoths that are the cruise liners in Nassau harbor. Getting through the harbor was quite an experience, dodging jet skis on one side and huge freighters on the other, it was a bustle of activity. We chose to go on past Nassau to Rose Island. This was my first experience navigating shallow coral head infested waters. With Mark on watch for patches of coral, and Gottalife leading the way, we made it to the anchorage without any trouble, though Gottalife did kind of slam into a nice chunk of coral on the way in. I actually went back to the spot and dove down to inspect the keel sized slice taken out of the coral, it was pretty impressive. As we sat in the anchorage by the island we saw quite a few tourist boats come in, we imagine they were showing the tourists the remote uninhabited islands, which my brother and I were roaming. We were the uncivilized natives that day I think. After exploring the islands we made our way into the city and got ourselves a new 15 hp Yamaha for the dinghy, which is awesome.

We made the crossing from Nassau to the Exumas, stopping into Shroud Cay, the first big island in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. This place is very well protected and is held with a sense of pride for many Bahamians. It was absolutely beautiful. There were mangrove rivers lacing the island, we took the dinghy down through the creeks, enjoying the landscapes along the way, saw a couple rays and loads of fish, and we came out on the opposite shore at an unbelievably beautiful beach. We hung around the beach, having a lot of fun in the wicked current that whipped out of the inlet to the creek, lounging on the finest whitest sand you can imagine, and climbing the surrounding rock cliffs to dive into the water or go to the top to see the breathtaking view.

Making our way to Warderick Wells, the main headquarters for the park, we took a mooring and we had talked to a park ranger about doing some volunteer work for the park. Lion fish are a recent invasive species to the Bahamas and they are doing whatever they can to keep them out of the park. We talked to the ranger about going out on a lion hunting safari, and he was definitely into it, regrettably that didn’t end up happening though, but I did spear one earlier today. Warderick Wells was a continuation of the beauty that we had experienced in Shroud Cay. There were blow holes that the waves crashing on the rock cliffs caused a jet of air to come screaming up through the hole and sent the waves shooting 50 feet up over the cliff. I of course climbed down to get right down in the turmoil, the sheer force of those waves was just astounding. Spotting the island were natural fresh water wells that were supposedly used by pirates when they needed a spot to hide out for a while. I climbed down in one of the holes and tasted the water. It was salty. I’m skeptical about this whole pirate business. We saw sharks, rays, the sunrise over the cliffs, pirate hide aways, crashing waves… it was an amazing place.

I feel like a broken record… but the next place we went… was amazing. Thunderball cave in Staniel Cay. It is the site of a famous scene in a Bond movie, I have never seen it, but apparently it is a big deal. We were wading around the outside of what is seemingly just a rocky island, and you go underwater and see holes in the side of the rocks. Diving down through the hole brings you up into a vast cavern with a 10 foot hole at the top streaming light down onto the water, giving it a glowing blue color. Silhouetted in the light are hundreds of fish, circling the cave, which is protected from fishing, without a care in the world about how close you get to them. The wildlife around the cave was the most impressive yet, and seeing it all in the hollow island was just spectacular. Mark decided that he would survey the top of the island, eventually finding the hole that opens into the caverns underneath. We all went into the cave and cheered him on, and he leaped down into the water, a 30 foot drop. It was pretty awesome.

After Thunderball we made our final sail down to Georgetown, it was a gorgeous day and a great sail. A group of dolphin joined us after a while, and 8 or so played with Mark and I on the bow for a good 45 minutes, they were skimming right on the top of the water, almost touching the bow of the ship, turning and twisting, and at times they would swim sideways and just look up at you for a while, you can just see how intelligent they are. I have a thing about touching… animals? I guess? And I was determined to touch one of the dolphins, I reached down over the bow and they were so close that I brushed one of their dorsal fins. It was pretty awesome. I don’t know why I do that, but I always get the urge to touch an animal that I probably shouldn’t, a stingray earlier today, that dolphin, I tried to get that barracuda, lizards, crabs, fish, urchins… I am going to end up hurting myself, hah.

So, now I am in Georgetown hanging out with the Kilanskis, and we are having a great time. Hopefully I will find a place I can get on here and update more often, and sorry for this lengthy post, there was a lot to cover. There is tons to do around here, volleyball every day on volleyball beach, hamburgers and beer on hamburger beach, a poker game with the old sailor men every Monday, Georgetown a short dinghy trip away… I think I am going to like it here.

Ooooh. Baracuda.

Well, since I didnt get the pictures up last time, I now have a decent connection and figured I would put them up since they are still on my flash drive, however i didnt put new ones on there, but rest assured there are some amazing pictures to come.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

From the Bahamas!

Hello! I am sitting at the Barry Islands Club, mooching a laptop and the internet, so I will be breif. Our crossing was pretty smooth as far as gulf stream crossings go, it is quite amazing to be out in the middle of nowhere without a spit of land to see, we made it into the islands without any problems and now we are waiting for this cold front to get out of here to cross to Nassau. The only pictures i had access to are from our diving experiences today, a nice 6 foot baracuda was probably the highlight. And the connection wont even let me upload the images, so just imagine some sweet underwater shots of fish and whatnot. Diving is really great, I speared the lobster we had for dinner a couple days ago, it is quite fulfilling to chow down on the days fresh kill. The following days will consist of crossings through Nassau to the Exumas and we will make our way down the Exumas chain to Georgetown where we will anchor for a while, I look forward to seeing family and friends who are flying down to see us there, you should do what you can to be one of those people. We are waiting in a little Cay with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, and they say it will only get better from here. I cant wait. Well actually I can. Life is good.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bahamas Bound

We set sail in the morning, Making our way across the Gulf stream into the Bahamas. It has already been a great experience so far, and I expect it will only get better from here. Ill miss all of you freezing up north, wish me luck, and hopefully I will find a way to keep in touch. Bon Voyage!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

We wait.

We have been sitting in Ft. Lauderdale for a few days now waiting for an opening in the weather that will allow us to cross the Gulf stream into the Bahamas. We came through Palm Beach, which was an impressive assembly of massive hotels, it was really cool to anchor in 12 feet of water and to be able to see the anchor crystal clear right to the bottom, we had not seen water that clear before, and have not seen it since, I guess Palm Beach is popular for a reason. Brian caught up with us for a bridge filled day on the waterway. Going through southern Florida is truely an amazing spectacle of gratuitous wealth. The houses lining the ICW are incredible, many of them with 100+ foot yachts parked on a dock in their yard. We saw a small nice looking house get demolished so that a bigger house could take its place, the tiny, maybe 1/4 acre lot alone cost 1.2 million dollars. The question of where all this money comes from is popular these days. The girls were fishing for coconuts, grabbing any they saw floating along with a net, we later cracked them open and ate them, quite delicious.

We met a crazy couple that sold everything they own and set out on a boating adventure from South Dakota on our way to Ft. Lauderdale. The day was full of excitement, with a 35 knot gusting wind and sttrong currents on your bow all day with 20 drawbridges to go through, that calls for a lonnnnng day. We got through it without getting into any bad situations... until we were docking. Going off the waterway onto the New River was a nice jaunt through luxurious neighborhoods, that turned into gigantic condos in the downtown area where we docked. The river was about 100 feet wide, with multi million dollar yachts lining the sides, a lack of communication left me sitting in the middle of the channel, in a quarter mile section with closed drawbridges on either end, a tide that was going out at a few knots, and a 30 knot gusting wind coming the same direction as the current. And I had to turn the 39 foot boat around in this narrow channel lined with yachts, I get it turned around, gettin close enough to the edge for Mark to push off the side to get our bow turned around. We are going with the current now, movin along, and I realize, this is going to be impossible. I see our spot, in between INXS, a 106 foot behemoth of a boat which I just found out is probably the boat that the producer that tried to sell Paris Hilton's voice sold when he realized she is a waste of life, well, in between that and another huge yacht, and i come barrelling in with the current and the wind whipping me along, stick my nose in, bring the stern around, it comes whipping around towards INXS, I am gunning the throttle, epic failure seems imminent, all 6 tons of the boat comes crashing towards the dock, and... nothing... I got it in position, under control, and she rested, two feet from the dock, didnt even rub a rail... woo! A video can be found here. It was essentially just like that, haha.

So here we remain, docked in the midst of multiple high rise buildings, in a channel s aturated with wealth, there is literally a Rolls Royce parked a few yards from our boat, next to a line of a whole bunch of other luxury cars, people walking their little yap dogs down the dock all day, with the occasional 120 foot yacht being towed through the channel next to us. It is pretty awesome. We went grocery shopping, that is always quite an experience, filling two shopping carts so high you can barely see over them, and then getting that back to the boat. We had lunch at the grocery store, and as we sat there, this guy came sprinting past us, a bag in each hand, and right behind him was the cop that was standing at the door. All the people that were standing on the corner started shouting GET 'IM GET 'IM, and all went OOOOOO when he did, it was awesome. I was trying to decide whether I would trip the guy if I saw it coming, I think that I would. What could he have been stealing anyway? saffron? Anyway, no pictures for now, I will get some more up before we leave the states, which is looking to be Saturday at the earliest, so after that I will be basically out of contact until May, so if you wanna talk to me, do it before then! Also, more people should give me their address so I can send something from the Bahamas. send it to BRawlings@gmail.com if you want something cool from the Bahamas.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! We are currently anchored at Conch Bar, not too far from Palm Beach, not the nicest place, but we will make Thanksgiving the best that we can. The weather is getting better every day, and it has been smooth sailing, we are really having a great time.

Mark and I decided to go back to the shore on the morning of the 21st, and we were met by a guy who told us that we are trespassing on NASA territory, pointed to a camera on a telephone pole, and said… they are watchinggg youuuuu. The pictures Mark took when I emerged from the brush with the American Yacht ensign were pretty cool.

After leaving NASA turf, we made our way down the channel to Melbourne. There we met Brian and Linda, who are friends of my aunt and uncle. They came and got us in car loads, and all 14 of us went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner, it was fun, though Mark and I got stuck at the kids table with the 4 little Hanna Montana girls. I ended up in the first car load back to the boats with 3 of the girls… we listened to Radio Disney and my fingernails ended up sparkly pink and purple by the time the rest of the crew showed up, so that was fun… The next day Brian took us to the zoo near their house, it was a really nice zoo, not too big, but they really did it well. There was a big cage full of parrots, you walk in and they flock to you if you buy cups of nectar. I just stood around and made a couple winged friends, one bird just sat on my head almost the whole time, it was pretty cool, made for some funny pictures too. Brian and Linda took us back to their house, where they had prepared an entire delicious Thanksgiving dinner for all of us, I am talking turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce, the whole bit. They had a gorgeous house and the food was incredible, they are some awesome people. We spent the 22nd in Melbourne, fixing the dinghy engine and things like that. I made spaghetti squash and guacamole from a huge Florida avocado for dinner, it was delish. The next day we took a much needed Wal Mart and grocery run, it is stressful buying groceries with grandmother, she gets so depressed spending money, even if it is well needed. We took a short sail to our anchorage for the evening, and for the first time we put up both sails and turned off the motor (and we beat Brian to it). Standing behind the wheel of a boat under full sail, gliding noiselessly through the water, good music on the stereo, this is what it is all about.

The next morning leaving the anchorage, after our keel had a little scuffle with the and on the bottom, we made our way down to Fort Pierce. Gottalife and Bird on a Wire stayed back at the inlet to Okeechobee, Bird on a Wire is parting from us, it was nice to have them around, they were fun people, they are going to tour the Floridian west coast and meet up with us later in the Bahamas. We on the Sandpiper are out on our own now, we met old friends of my grandparents in Fort Pierce, Daren and Harry Lamb, they took us to their house and made us some really good food, they were really interesting people, she had written a few books, they lived in Singapore and Saudi Arabia, he was still building race car engines in his garage, they lived right next to a beach, and had an awesome dog and a macaw. We spent almost the entire next day at their house, Mark and I checked out the beach, it was empty, we found some cool things walking around, like a crazy stick bug and some battling tortoises. We went to dinner with the Lambs and they brought along Rita, a 90 year old lady they know and take care of. Rita was really awesome, she was sharp as a tack, it was really refreshing to see someone who has aged as well as she has, I can only hope I am as able as her when I am even close to that age.

We made our way out to Jensen Beach, it was a short way, so we went under full sail again, making an easy 5 knots under only sail in a light wind. Leaving the dock, Grandad insisted that he drive due to the difficult conditions, and he kind of made a mess of the job, Mark and I were busy bumpers on the other boats and pilings on the way out of the slip. I think I am officially the helmsman for good now. When in Jensen Beach, Mark and I took the dinghy to shore and I tried my luck with the casting net, I ended up getting quite a few little bait fish, and even caught 3 puffer fish, one of which was around 8 inches long, it was pretty cool. I cause a catfish using one of our little baitfish, we decided not to eat it, Im not sure how good bottom feeders are to eat, but we did cut it up and use it as bait, it disturbed me a little bit to kill him, but I am going to have to get over that, there is going to be a lot more of it on this trip.

And today, we are on our own after a nice short sail we are anchored at mile 1001 on the ICW, mile 1000 was a monumental occasion. We are now settling down for some thanksgiving dinner, probably spam and macaroni or something like that. I hope you all are well, and that maybe you have a little more luxurious menu than we do. Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quick photo op

We made it to Melbourne, where Brian has some friends who are carting us around. I have had some free time and internet access, so I thought I would get on here and put up some pictures, I added a slide show on the right there. We have been getting some things done, fixed the sail, working on the engine, things like that. We even went to the zoo, which I will be sure to post pictures of later, it was pretty cool. We will be sitting around here for another day, maybe ill post some more tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Freezing in Florida

The past few days have really been great. Well, much like the days before them. We have been staying at more docks lately, due to some foul weather, and just cause it is easier. We crossed the border into Florida on the 16th, warm sunny Florida... the temperature was 45 when we crossed the border, and the low last night was 26. I think Mark and I are bringing down the Pittsburgh weather with us. We stayed in Fernandina Beach, a nice quaint little town, we got a mooring at the city marina, you just sail up to a float and put a line through it, much easier than setting your own anchor. Going into town for dinner, we met this guy who was just walking around with his 4 year old daughter, basically showing her off, she was pretty awesome, it was a little creepy, but funny. They took us to a pizza shop that was absolutely delicious, always good to ask the locals. And. I finished my paper for phage genomics lab. Last paper. Ever. That felt great.

The 17th we got out with the sunrise, slipped the line from the mooring and were on our way. We kept hearing the coast guard come on the radio "Secuuritay securitay securitay, there is power line maintainence at mile marker 740" ("security" being the lowest level of urgency for an announcement, "pan" is the next, and then "mayday") We just kind of brushed it off as nothing, until we come to 740... I see a helicopter, something is hanging from the bottom of it as it flies around the high power lines... what is it? no... it couldnt be... what??? ya, thats a guy, on a 100 foot line, dangling from the bottom of a helicopter, flying at ridiculous speeds, around high power lines. It was insaaane. They must get paid tonnns of money. We have also been seeing lots of porpoise lately, they get in these huge battles and there is just crazy turbulence in the water, tails and fins flying. Must be mating season.

The 18th we had an easy day of sailing, still pretty cold, but our final destination was Daytona Beach, and we still went and got our feet wet. My cousins and the girl from Bird on a Wire went straight into the water, I was tempted to, but when everyone started making fun of the girls, I figured I would hold back, hah. We stayed in a dock that only charged 80 cents a foot for docking, so we were all over that. I actually steered the boat into a slip for the first time, and I did quite well, Brian even said I did better than him and our other boat partners, well at least thats what he said in front of Grandad, It took a little convincing to get him to let me do it, but he was happy with my landing, so that was good.

Today we are on our way to Titusville and are going through the Kennedy Space Center. Probably because of the protected grounds, the wildlife here is amazing. We have been seeing lots of falcons, heron, huge pelicans, more dolphin battles, we saw some flamingos, and on our way through a cut there was a bobcat striding across the rocks. Pretty amazing. When either Mark or I are below deck, we are inevitably called frantically to the cockpit to see some craziness going on, it was in the middle of writing about the helicopter that I was called up to see an island covered in birds, and then we saw the bobcat. It is awesome. Looking around now we can see the vehicular assembly building and the launch pads, they are impressively huge even from this distance, I have seen some of it up close, which just adds to the effect.

We are now at our anchoring for tonight, Mark and I went to the shore, a ruddy looking shoreline by a railroad track. It was a nice section of beach completely untouched before we got there, that is the kind of place I am looking forward to finding on this trip. There were really cool shells all around and these funky crabs in every shell I overturned, I found a yacht American flag thing and a puffer fish. So cool. Well, time to cook up something for dinner, it is tough to come up with my usual creations with such a limited selection, I do what I can. Thats it for now, goodnight.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On our way

It has been far to long since my last post, I am going to try to cut that down in the future, it is only good news since then. We are really getting in the swing of things with the boat, I have been doing a lot of the steering and I think I feel more comfortable now steering myself than letting my grandad steer. It has been a difficult journey getting him to really trust us with the boat, and we still have some things to learn, but I feel like Mark and I could handle the boat just fine if we were to take it out. We have been doing a lot more work with the sails, and we even put up a reefed main sail for just a little bit a couple days ago. We have been cutting across a few sounds giving us basically open water on which to sail, and we have been snaking our way through tiny cuts where every wrong turn sets you aground. Snow cut, Hells Gate, Rock Pile, Cape Fear, Mud River... We have made our way through some treacherous stretches, and I am proud to say that even though I do most of the steering, I am the only one who has touched the wheel who hasnt gone aground. They say that anyone who has never gone aground on the ICW has never been on the ICW, or they are a liar, I hope to be an exception to that rule.

We are looking at going out onto the open ocean for a stint tomorrow, I am really looking forward to it, getting under full sail, and letting the wind take us away. We are currently on Jekyll Island, Georgia and at a marina for the fist time this trip. I just took a real shower, and it was awwwwesome. On the boat, showers consist of a five second run of lukewarm water, scrub scrub scrub, 5 seconds of water to rinse. I think I normally use more water to wash my hands. So a real shower was a treat.

As we made our way into Georgia, the landscape changed dramatically. The waterway has been surrounded by vast marshes, it is just a field of golden grasses as far as the eye can see. When you get deeper into the swamp there were gnarly trees covered in spanish moss, it was pretty eerie at times, we even saw a few alligators to add to the effect. We have seen lots of wildlife that just blows my mind. I generally like to know what is going on when I make my way through the woods, and in the north east I am pretty good, but down here I am totally clueless, it kind of bothers me, but it is also really exciting. The birds on the ICW are really cool, watching the pelicans, sea gulls, and herons fish, and seeing all the different kind of interesting birds every now and then. Mark and I go out into the wild as often as we get a chance to. We anchored near St. Cathrine Island two nights ago, the island has isolated beaches covered in driftwood, and the interior was a protected endangered species rehabilitation area, apparently a zoo breeds zebras on the island, regrettably we didnt see any. As we tromped through the forest it was really incredible to see all the wildlife around, the exotic trees covered in moss, the birds, the lizards, the crabs. All that exotic foliage had its bad points though, the ground was thick with "saw palmettos" which just tore into your skin if you brushed it wrong, so I came out of the forest a smiling bloody mess. I found some marshes near the forest that I went tromping through, not able to see through the brush where i was stepping, joking that I was going to run into an alligator, and then I found a deer carcass dragged up on the bank... so I got out of the water. I did however keep the deer head, scraped off the remaining skin, and mounted it under our bow sprit. It cant be seen from the deck, and the grandparents will prolly be a little peeved when they finally see that it is there, hah.

We were in Beaufort, SC for Veterans Day, the parade was pretty funny, almost all high schools, which were all 80% percussion, and military units marching. There was also some dude pulling his motorboat on a trailer and a random city bus that I think just got lost. We also went into Savanna and Mark and I walked around town for 6 hours. Mark's friend picked us up and brought us into town and the two of us just walked around, it was much smaller than I thought it would be, and it pandered very much to the touristy, historic aspect of the whole thing, I dont think there was a single building that had been built in the last 100 years. We had to walk through a gated community to get to the river where our boat was anchored, and when we got back to the gate at 1 am, the security guard called the cops after he let us in, and 3 cop cars showed up to escort us to our dinghy, they were cool about it, they gave us a ride and we talked to the dude, it was a bit ridiculous though. We were on Herb River. Thanks Herb.

We woke up to a dense fog a couple days ago, it delayed us a bit in the morning, but we made good time after we set out. It is pretty amazing how much effect the wind and current effect our time. Currents can change your speed by 6 knots, depending on whether the tide is coming in or out. If you hit the currents right you can make 8 knots all day, hit them wrong and you struggle to make 4 knots.

Mark has been taking hundreds of pictures along our journey, I try to take the wheel whenever there is a good opportunity to take pictures, I get ahold of the camera every now and then too, there is so much to see. There should shortly be pictures of just about everything I have mentioned in the blog, enjoy the pictures and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cruising the ICW

I am currently anchored in Mile Hammock Bay, it has been awesome on the way down so far, we only ran aground once, and Mark was driving, so I still have a perfect record. Sunday I spent all day behind the wheel in the cold rain and I loved every minute of it. It is an interesting experience navigating the ICW, dealing with all the other boat traffic, the draw bridges and swing bridges, the anchorages and dockings. Its really cool. We have seen a few groups (schools) of porpoises on the ICW, they surface right at our bow, quite a sight. Speaking of our bow, I still feel awkward using sailing terms, like bow, stern, port, starboard, aft, fore, and all that jazz. Hopefully by the time i get back i will be rambling off that crap like a sesoned sailor. We have only been making like 20 miles a day, I am itching to get out of here, but obviously our boating partners have different plans. We are planning on getting out of Miami by Dec. 1st at the latest, gotta get down to Georgetown by the time people start coming in. One of our Spots is out of comission, you can follow our progress on the one below. I have only gotten one request for a shipment from the bahamas, yall need to give me some addresses. The lil cousins (Cuz cuz supreme and extreme) need their computer back, leave me something to read when i get back on here.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Bahamas Bound

Tomorrow, we set sail.

We have GPS devices that upload our location to a website so that we can be tracked. Mark already had one for his train travels across the nation, and I will be using one from my Aunt, here are the sites.

My Spot

Mark's Spot

They just have a button to update our location and say that we are ok, which is currently the house in New Bern, one to say we need help, and one to call emergency people to our location, and they work anywhere because they work from GPS satellites, pretty sweet. So if you see the "help" signal... well thats not good. But that wont happen, we are prepared for anything the ocean can throw at us. I am looking forward to a successful adventure, and we start tomorrow, wish us luck, Ill miss you all.

Oh ya, and good luck with those elections. Too bad I wont be around for that. We will have internet access on the way down the ICW, so hopefully I will update you on the journey.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Get Real

I am going to be gone for a long time, and I will miss a lot of you people back home. In an effort to do something for you while I am gone, I thought maybe I could send something by mail. Maybe a postcard and a poem, maybe a seashell, maybe a solid gold pirate coin recovered from the depths, or maybe a vial containing insects carrying deadly exotic diseases. Depending on how much I like you. Also, depending on how much is costs to mail stuff out of the Bahamas. Send me your address if you want me to send you something BRawlings@gmail.com , or just leave a comment on here. Seriously do it, I don't care if I have never met you before, give me your address and I will mail you something cool from the Bahamas, ya, you, do it, please. Im going to have a lot of free time down there.

We set sail on Saturday. My Grandad, Grandmother, Brother Mark, Aunt Sheryl, Uncle Brian, and their daughters Erin and Geneva (12 and 13) have been working all week to get the boats ready, the excitement is really all we need to keep us going. My grandparents are really great people, and really are fun and very interesting, my Aunt and Uncle are as cool as they come, it will be great to hang out with them, and my cousins are both bright young ladies and they are quite entertaining. Perhaps the hardest part of all the preparations is getting rid of the stuff on my grandparents boat that has accumulated over the past years. They have not done a serious cleaning for a long time, and we need all the storage we can get. The past few days ave been spent taking every last thing off of the boat, and sorting through it in the garage, trying to get rid of everything that is not "mission critical". The most difficult part of this is convincing the grandparents that a lot of the stuff is not mission critical, it takes a heartless soul I do not posess to say no to some of these things. My Aunt Sheryl is particularly good at it. So now we have loads of food and all the equipment we need on board, the engine and sails are all working smoothly, and basically we just have to get ourselves on the boat and get out of here.
There were all kind of skeptics that we would be ready, that the boat would be ready, that the grandparents would be ready on time. Well we made it, there is nothing to stop us now. I hear all the time that when I am assessing a situation that I am suuuch an optimist. But some way or another it usually ends up happening just the way I said it would. The right way, the good way. So does that make me an optimist? I dont think so, I think it makes me a realist. If you go into a situation and you are confident in your goal and your abilities to get there, that really does a lot to make it happen. Worrying just wastes time that could be spent improving your situation. Does that mean I dont prepare for the worst? No, I'm not stupid, I know it is a possibility, just not one that deserves any more thought than making sure it does not happen. So here is to all you pessimists out there. Quit it. Cheer up. Stop thinking about the bad things happening in the here and now and think about the future, what possibilities it holds, and what you can do to make it happen. And don't lay your worries on other people, I dont mean never complain, I mean dont give out the execrable balls of gunk that enter your head every time you use it. If you think there is a 50% chance that we will not end up making the trip to the Bahamas, keep it to yourself, there are realists out there, and we need to keep hope that positive things will happen so that we can help make them happen. You can continue to float through life with that evil monkey camping in the back of your brain. Just get rid of those execrable balls of junk all together, they are not helping you, and they are certainly not helping anyone else. You need to get something out? Tell me, I am glad to listen. And you know what Ill do? I will tell you to cheer up, and that things will get better, and if you believe me, then maybe that is the first step towards making it happen. Im not trying to say that I never have pessimistic thought, I just dont let it control my actions. My grandad by chance today went on a binge calling himself an Eyore, and Mark and myself Tiggers, he says we are unflappable.

I am currently writing the last few words of my college career, and I set sail for the Bahamas on Saturday. Nobody can flap me now, life is good.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


3,000 freakin miles. That is how far I have driven in the past month. Click that link, its a google map of my path. Finishing school, visiting the lady, the parents, friends, before heading out for good. I am now on my way down to New Bern for the last time, we will be meeting up with my uncle, aunt, and cousins, and then setting sail on the 1st of November after a few final preparations. It has only recently begun to dawn on me how long 7 months is to be away, and it is still incredibly exciting that all 7 will be spent exploring the Bahamas.

So in my recent travels, I Most of the drive was spent alone, so I did a lot of thinking, mostly about driving. I have a thing for efficiency, so I ended up thinking a lot about the most efficient way to travel. Many times when I drive, I try to drive the tangents of a curve, taking the shortest route as possible on a road. Think of it like a string was strung through the turns, when you pull the string tight, the path it takes is the most efficient possible path. In order to test my efficiency when making an effort to be efficient, i reset my odometer at mile 1 when I entered a new highway. At highway mile 2 the odometer read 1, by mile 40 the odometer read 39.5, and by mile 80, the odometer read 80, which means that my path was a mile longer than the marked highway miles after only 80 miles. whoever made those highway markers really knew how to ride the tangents. when I stopped making an effort to be efficient, I gained a mile on the highway markers after only 60 miles. They say that the most efficient speed for fuel economy is 55 mph. I buy it, it makes sense, but what about on hills? Is it just most fuel efficient to push down the pedal to go 55 on the straight parts or to actually go that speed. If you are going up a hill at 55 and keep your foot pressed on the gas at the same point, that will get you up to 80 on the downhill easily, I know, I tested it, multiple times. It is more efficient to go slower up hills, I have heard that many times, but they never talk about the other end of the hill, I say that it is more efficient to go 80 down hills. But dont do it. Thats is against the law.

As I drive down I-64 and take a turn, the full moon glows in front of me, and it gets me thinking. What if you were to take some kind of super space nuke and detonate it on the moon to disrupt its orbit and send it crashing into the earth? Aside from the mass destruction and the possible disruption of the entire world ecosystems, I think it would be a pretty interesting experience. The moon has a pretty strong gravitational pull, it controls the tides even from its distant orbit. Maybe if it were on the earth it would pull all the water from the other side of the world and leave a huge ex-ocean pit. There would be whales and sharks and all kinds of things flopping around everywhere. And whose would it be? I think I would also send out a separate rocket after the nuke, equipped with a flag reading "Brendonia" to claim the moon as my own before it crashed onto the Earth. The United States could have like an acre where Neil Armstrong staked his claim, but the rest would be mine. Maybe it would mess up earths orbit too, and send us crashing into the sun. Someone get Dr. Evil on the phone.

You will notice that I added some pictures to my gallery, take a look. There are some pictures of the dry docked boat, some critters, and some of the fellow Bahamian cruisers. Oh, and one of a milk float. Milk floats are one of the greatest inventions ever to be invented. Fill a cup with ice cream, pour milk over it, and daaaaaang is it good. I tried a Guinness float (Guinness poured over chocolate ice cream) the other day. That may sound like a sin, and I was reluctant to do it for fear of the beer Gods wrath, but I survived the experience, and the it was actually quite good.

Superman had to have been really smart, but they never mention this power. In his last movie he diagnosed Lois Lane with his x-ray vision to make sure she would be ok. It would take a fairly intimate understanding of the inner working of the human body to be able to confirm proper functioning at a glance, its not like they have an x-ray vision medical school, he learned all of that on his own. Of course, the x-rays may have given her cancer in the process, but it was necessary, superman dosnt have time for lead aprons.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Be remarkable

I have always been able to pick up on new things with relative ease, and when I put my mind to it I am pretty good at what I do, above average. But never remarkable. This is a trend in everything I do- soccer in highschool, I was pretty good, played varsity, knew my position well, but I wasnt remarkable. Track, I was the best triple jumper on the team with 40', but that wasnt even enough to get to states. Racquetball, I was great, it was rare that i found an opponent that could beat me, but every now and then i would meet one of those people who were remarkable, and they made me look like an amateur. Academics, I always breezed through my classes with little effort (well, except ochem) and always scored in the upper 5% on standardized tests, but look where that has gone, graduating with a mediocre GPA with a bio degree, really pretty unremarkable. I dont know if i have just not put in the effort it takes, but it seems that there has to be something out there at which I would be remarkable. Now that I am graduating and moving off into real life, it seems like I will never realize what that remarkable thing is and I am destined to live an unremarkable life. So find a way to be remarkable, and do it, and be remarkable, if only at that one thing. The world gains little to nothing if you are just above average, it is those who break world records, use their minds to create and improve the world around them, excelling in a manner that is unmatched by their peers, it is these people who are responsible for the betterment of mankind, who give us something to admire and to strive for, who give us a reason to be remarkable.

Edit: That last post was far more negative than I intended. I was just thinking about that while brushing my teeth one night and decided to put it up here. Just a thought. I am quite happy with my life, remarkability is perhaps too much to ask for, especially with my... efficient (haha) approach to life. Not everyone can be remarkable, by definition, if everyone were remarkable, it wouldnt be remarkable now would it. So be unremarkable, someones got to do it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I bet you think this blog is about you

Currently I am in Philly crashing at Kari and Brooke's place, well... really... I am in Jersey, but i dont like to admit that, even to myself. Especially not the fact that my girlfriend lives in jersey. i sometimes cry at night. I did my final presentation on genetic modification of crops and nailed it, graduation here i come. wait whats that you say? Another paper? I have been in such denial that I even forgot about it myself? woops. OK, almost there. Comparative phage genomics lab report here I come. I have to do a kind of synopsis of the work we did on bacteriophages. We analyzed the entire genome of the "Halo" bacteriophage, using possible start and stop codons to guess where genes start and stop, then excise one of the genes, then take the altered genome, replicate it by infecting a bacteria with the phage, and see what the consequences of removing the gene are. Awesome right? and now I have to write a 10orso page paper on it. But thennnn I graduate! probably!

If you have a friend who makes a stupid decision and does something that a significant other wouldnt like, it is that friends decision when or how or whether to tell the significant other right? dont take it into your own hands. That is crappy behavior.

I just used the word vain, and it makes me think of that song "You're so vain, I bet you think this song is about you". oh ya? Who the hell is it about then. There is one guy who thinks that song is about him, he is described at length, and it is about that one guy, so he is not vain, thats bull. And if there are a bunch of guys who think you are writing songs about them, well then youre just a slut Carly Simon.

I have had intentions of keeping a dream log many times in the past, it never happens though, dreams are really amazing, it is kind of mind blowing when you think about what is really going on. Like hypnotism, thats crazy too, the mind is so complex it ridiculous. My family was in a hypnotism show once at a family reunion, I tried to be hypnotised with the rest but it didnt work, I think its because my mind is constantly bouncing around, I cant concentrate on the hypnosis for long enough. My brothers and dad were under though, Mark ended up in some kind of crazy hypnocoma and was like shuddering unresponsive on his chair, so the guy took him out, Alan had to pee and was wiggling around the whole time, eventually when they were all sitting down, he just tipped over forward straight onto his head and came out of it. My dad went through the whole thing, thinking he was in airplanes, driving cars, at the horse track (his horse was "Osama Bin Ridin"), it was hilarious to watch everyone on stage doing these ridiculous things. One girl kept being bitten by her chair, one guy said "I have a boo boo and i need a band aid" every time anyone touched him, and placed the multi colored bandaids wherever he was touched. Most of them remembered nothing, and everyone said they felt very well rested, like they had a full nights sleep. If i hadnt witnessed it myself, I would have doubts that hypnotism is real, but it is. somehow.

Anyway, the dreams thing, I wish I could remember my dreams, which is what the log is supposed to help. just last night a had some elaborate dream, but now all I can remember is being in Peters riding down the trail on a go cart from Beths house. I miss that trail, there were a lot of good times- the races I've run, the biking I've done, the blading, the walking, the sneaking, the stalking, oh the felonies we committed. The TP we covered the trees in, the pranks of the cross country season, the secretive late night cruises, all of the scratches and bruises, the examples are ample, but thats just a small sample, dont ask me whats been omitted.
That was some Dr. Seuss shit right there. Tell me about some crazy dreams.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Back in the Burgh for a bit

I have made my way back from New Bern and I am crashing at Zack and Sara's house for the moment. Its good to have friends around. I went mountin bikin with Nick and Backa for the first time in many months, it was pretty amazing to get back out on the trails. I took a few spills here and there, and then blew my tire at about the point where we were furthest from the car. I jogged the bike back, and on the way I took my worst spill of the day, I was just jogging along and I dont even know what happened but I ended up face down in the dirt with the bike on top of me... I do fine flying down the trails weaving in and out of trees at high speed, but then when i start jogging... haha, oh well.

Kari and I were bored one evening and decided, for some reason, to post personal ads on craigslist just to amuse ourselves with the responses. We both wrote up our ads (now that I look at it again, I wrote way too much, hah, but apparently I have a tendancy to do that, see: this post), trying to write whatever we could to get the most responses (which was basically all true, since we are the pinnacle of human perfection), and sent all the responses to the same email address. I feel horrible. Some of the girls that responded are really genuinely interested, and they seem like nice, decent people. The first one I got, 40 minutes after posting it, she said at the end "PS please write back, even if you are not interested, just so i know." Damnit! that made me feel like crap. So I responded to most of them, complimenting them in some way and making up some reason for rejection. The guys that responded to Kari are a different story. Lets just say we had some fun with them. There were 40 year old guys, total sleazebags, and even a few women (well in reality, it was probably more 40 year old guys) that responded to Kari, I think she has recieved over 200 responses so far... I got like 20. It is kind of sad that the biggest way to meet other single people is the bar scene, it was a common trend in the messages that they were "tired of the bar scene", but to resort to craigslist after that? well, seems like there could be some better options, although I do know a couple who met on craigslist... and they just got engaged.

I used to wear itchy shirts to church on purpose. I would sit in church and conocentrate on not itching the itchy spots. Just sit there dead still and concentrate. Church was not my thing. Ever. Since grade school, I would be sitting in church, nothing exciting going on, just sitting there, probably zoning out, and my heart rate would go up and my chest would kind of feel funny, like tighten up. I started measuring my heart rate, which is around 50 bpm resting, and it would get up to around 120 every week. I still have no idea why. Maybe I am allergic to ignorance. When I was getting my surgeries from the accident, as i lay in pre op with the monitors attached, they would yell at me constantly for having too low a bpm and not breathing enough, apparently a 38 bpm and breathing 5 times a minute wasnt good enough for them, I was just relaxed though.

One of my hobbies: when driving a manual transmission, try not to use the brakes at all to stop. Im pretty good at it.

Passive aggressiveness is possibly the absolute worst way that one could choose to make a point.

I have gotten into the show Heroes. I appreciate the whole evolution of human beings aspect of it, as far fetched as it is.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Teh southern ocean?

It has been a busy few days. We painted the bottom of the boat in the shipyard. We used a paint that is 70% copper, it was crazy heavy, and cost something like $250 a gallon. It keeps the blistering barnacles from attaching to the hull cause of the high copper content, which also means it is bad for humans, which means that it creates an annoying nagging sting when it gets on your skin, and it is really hard to get off, and I painted the entire hull, which means I had a lot of tiny little stinging spots all over my legs and arms. It was fun. We replaced the bilge pump, got the head in working order, and then took a crane ride back into the water. The sail back was great, we ran aground once on the way out of the channel, that was a little scary, but educational. The rest of the sail was great, with a reefed main we were doing around 8 knots and heeling like the dickens, I dont think I will ever get tired of that. I am at my aunt's now on my way back to Pittsburgh, I will be there, or Indiana, or Philly until the end of October, so if you are in any of those places, you should get ahold of me somehow.

Two of my hobbies: You know those ads that have little games that if you win you get a free ipod or a free trip to Rwanda or some such crap? Lose them. Its fun, and usually more difficult than winning. Like getting the quarter in the cup or shooting the robber or making the fieldgoal. Another hobby: writing out typos by hand. like OMG thats teh bset evarrr!!!!!11 Like that. Well, maybe not thats last one.

Southern Ocean... what?? This is like some Pluto bullcrap. You cannot just add an ocean. You cant! I think that pisses me off more than taking away pluto's planetory status. Can anyone find anything that gives definative barriers for the oceans? I cant. There is too much confusion, there needs to be a meeting. Someone call teh Prez. or Congress at least. Maybe Chuck Norris can help. Though, thats what I said about Pluto. Planetoid my ass. What is this world coming too.

And yes mom, I finished my paper and just did my presentation, they are all going out to buy some genetically modified food tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sale, hahah

We finally set the sailboat in motion on the ocean today on our way down the Neuse river. The teak looks good, the sails were perfectly functional, the motor ran great, it was smooooth sailing. Only real problems we had were the knot meter wasnt working (because blistering barnacles blatantly barraged below), and the head backed up. Why they called it the head, i have no idea, because it has everything to do with the totally opposite end of the body. So, that is never a good time. We made our way to a marina about 20 miles down the river to get the boat taken out of the water and dry docked, it is a pretty incredible sight to see a 10 ton boat lifted out of the water and carted around the shipyard.

I hate walking. It is so slow, and it makes my legs hurt. When I wasnt biking, I used to jog to class, I must have looked ridiculous jogging down the street with my backpack everyday. It stems from the whole efficiency thing i think, and maybe a bit... or a lot from my lack of patience. Come to think of it, maybe a lot of that desire for efficiency comes from impatience. I have recently decided that is not a bad thing. My patience is tried a lot out here, and I try to do my best to contain myself, but im afraid that sometimes I dont... It is much easier to say it is a desire for efficiency than impatience, I think i will just stick with that.

I think that when typing a laugh. well first of all, "lol" is out of the question, no normal person says lol. I am here to talk to you about "haha". I think it is important to convey how funny something is by adding or subtracting "ha"s. An awkward situation or a bad or slightly offensive joke deserves a "ha", something of average humor merits a "haha", which is the accepted generic form of this method of laugh conveyance, and when something is particularly funny, a situation which constitutes an actual laugh out loud in real life, that is when you can pull out the extra "ha"s. That is where the problem lies with "lol". Are you really laughing out loud? ya, i doubt it, it is way too overused and has therefore become obsolete. "ha"s also offer far more versatility, you can really get across how you feel about a joke, like that fowl joke??? hahahahahaaaa! you see the extra "a"s on the end there? you read that and do it in your head, you say that last ha in your head. And say youre not sure how many "ha"s a comment merits, there are methodsto overcome this! What you have to do is commit a faux typo, a faupo, fopo? fypo? anyway, what you do, is add on a rogue h or a to the end, or if appropriate in the middle, of your "ha"ing and it is left up to the discression of the recipient whether you meant it to be a whole "ha" or whether it was an accidental addition. think about it: hahah... was that a laughing out loud hahaha or a generic haha with an accidental h added? noone knows but you, and thats how you want to keep it. Use your "ha"s wisely. good luck.


Sunday, September 14, 2008


Here I am, supposed to be writing my paper to finally finish school, so I write now as a distraction more than any other reason. I only have 2 papers left to complete my G grades from spring semester and I will be a Pitt graduate. I am impressed even with my own ability to procrastinate. These papers were due about 5 months ago. New record. Though I dont think getting hit by a car is worth that impressive procrastinatory feat.
I am the definition of a procrastinator. I like to think of it as operating most efficiently. if you think about it, if you are going to spend only 5 hours studying, no more no less, wouldnt you say that best time to study would be right before the test? I would think so too, that is the premise under which i operate. I have spent many many sleepless nights studying for tests, literally staying up the entire night cramming, almost every night before a big test in my college career, only in Ochem did this method ever fail me. I am pretty sure I took a week off my life every time i pulled an all nighter, although when I think about it, when i am old and decrepit, I think I would gladly give up a week of my life for just 12 hours of my college years.
I try to operate as efficiently as possible in everyday life. I didnt really realize how many of my habits result from an atttempt to be efficient until walking with Kari one day, who insists on using crosswalks, and it really bothering me to go to the end of the street, and cross at a 90 degree angle. Diagonals! It is far more efficient to walk a diagonal across the street, and I now realize that I make a significant effort to walk diagonals. Im like a bishop, hah, get it? diagonals? oh you're useless... like in chess? nowww you got it.

Hey, I kinda wanna know who is reading this, leave a comment.

Go Steelers by the way. Polamalu just got an interception. He rules.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Secular Humanist

Today, as we were working on the boat, my brother asked what task I wanted, and I took the more difficult task, thinking that he would offer to trade later, or at least willingly trade if I asked. In my head I was doing something nice, but in retrospect, if I had it in mind that the action would later be reciprocated for my benefit, the act was never really an altruistic action in the first place. This got me thinking about altruism. I never thought that it existed, and I defy you to think of an action that is truly altruistic. Do you ever do anything without expecting some kind of reciprocal benefit as a result of that action? I had a discourse with the philosophy of religion teacher at Pitt, who Brooke reffered to me when she thought I would enjoy joining the discussion that was budding. In my boredom while we worked I was reminded of that conversation. I ended up writing a pretty intense summary of my beliefs on how morality could have evolved strictly through darwinian theory, and I think I accomplished my task quite well. I will copy it here, I would like to think it is worth reading, give it a glance. Brooke had mentioned to him that I describe myself as a secular humanist.

Tony, the prof, says:


"Secular humanism" is a very curious phrase.

1. How does your friend define it?

2. Does he have views about what is the case, or only about what is not the

3. What are his arguments for his views?

4. What, in particular, are his arguments for common sense, ethics, and
(democratic?) politics?

In short, if you want to make it a worthwhile discussion, then he has to
accept the burden of proof for what he holds, just as you have to accept
the burden of proof for what you hold. He can't just hide out in some
duck-blind and shoot at your ducks.

Bon appetit.


My Response:

Ha, well first of all I definitely stand right out in the open when I shoot at your ducks with a big ol sign begging you to shoot back, and when when the ammunition is a "burden of proof"... I like to think I'm packin' a pretty strong arsenal (i went way too far with the duck shooting analogy didnt I, haha), but anyway... When I call myself a secular humanist i do so only because it is sometimes convenient to have someone to align yourself with. I place a burden on myself as a humanist of my own definition to strive towards the truth as best as i can and more generally place the burden on humanity to do the same in order to advance towards the truth that my astronomy teacher in a rare moment of actually interesting lecture called "the reality state". He said that science in the past was flawed and incapable of achieving this "reality state", giving the example of the human heart, there were many previous theories about how the whole blood and guts thing worked, but we now know through adequate science exactly how the heart works and the blood pumps. I also believe that through modern science we are advancing towards this "reality state" and that God plays no part in it. I like to base my views on the most logical scientifically or philosophically sound argument or I can think of or have come across, relying on the words and ideas of people like Darwin, Dawkins, and Hobbes, and never Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Specifically addressing ethics and politics I would argue that, evolutionarily, humanity has come to gain from a tendency to operate as a progressing social group, which promotes ethics, and the resulting upholding of these ethics, ultimately leading to a political system. I could go on but I think thats enough for now, hah.


Tony responds:

Hi, Brooke,

Your friend writes:

> Specifically addressing ethics and politics I would argue that,
> evolutionarily, humanity has come to gain from a tendency to operate as a
> progressing social group, which promotes ethics, and the resulting
> upholding of these ethics, ultimately leading to a political system. I
> could go on but I think that's enough for now, hah.

My views are probably closer to his than yours, but not on this point. If
he tries to turn this sketchy remark into a deductive argument from truths
of evolution to norms of ethics, he'll find himself trying to deduce
"ought"-judgments from "is"-judgments--i.e., he'll be committing non
sequiturs. His uses of "gain" and "progressing" hide this problem, since
in his remark they do double--i.e., equivocal--duties as value-free terms
in biology and as value-laden terms in ethics.

In short, invite him to provide the argument that he "would argue". ("Pay
up, Buster.") Then, when he sees how awful it is, encourage him to read
Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics.


I respond:
When I said I could go on, I meant it, haha. I didn't want to go into it if that wasnt where we were going, but I guess if he wants it, I will be glad to put my thought into words.
Most of the studies I refer to I learned about in my animal behavior and evolution classes, I wrote this sitting at work without any references, so I didnt cite my sources, but I am confident in the validity of the data I gave, as I didnt have to go into much detail to get the point across.

In order to try to rationalize an evolution of morality and politics, I am hardly an expert, but I will try to use what I have learned as a student of biology to deduce a mechanism for the production of ethical norms from evolutionary fact. Aristotle's Nicomachaen Ethics does not seem to address the issue i thought was at hand, it certainly addresses the "why" of ethics, but I think the more relevant issue is the "how". In an effort to unearth how ethics came to be, the whys would be inherent in the production of the mechanism, and if a reasonable scientific solution can be reached, it would hopefully stand as a physical culmination of many of the philosophies presented by Aristotle.

One of the first problems encountered is how this act of apparent altruism has any place in the dog eat dog world that exists under the rules for survival first set in place by Darwin in his Origin of Species. When the purpose of life is above all to most effectively spread your genes. The many factors that can influence the fitness of your genes include most effectively producing offspring, increasing the fitness of those offspring, as well as increasing the fitness of those with similar genetic makeup to your own, which includes parents, siblings, cousins, and so forth. Perhaps the most obvious display of altruism in animals is the colony life of insects such as bees and ants. As would be predicted by Darwin's theory, the insects have a high genetic similarity, due to the haplo-diploid genetic structure, and the common mother (the queen). The colonies consist of almost all females, who actually mathematically gain significantly more genetic fitness by assisting their queen in the production of more siblings than they would from creating progeny by mating themselves (this is due to the haplo-diploid genetic make up of the bees). I have seen studies on behavior in lions, meercats, naked mole rats, and many other species that act as a group. The "altruistic" behaviors are linked significantly to who is a benefactor (kin or not), with the behavior increasing with increasing genetic relatedness. This shows that what appears to be altruistic behavior from the bees and others is actually done for their own good. Another behavioral phenomena I think is relevant is the mobbing behavior that has been observed in seagulls. When a seagulls nest is approached by a predator, the neighboring gulls will attack the predator together, regardless of whether the nest being attacked is their kin's or not. The interesting part of this study was in the reciprocation of the mobbing. If a gull did not partake in the mobbing of a predator for someones nest, the response to an attack on its own nest would be greatly decreased. Once again showing the trend that these seemingly altruistic acts have an effect on the individuals own fitness, whether it be from direct benefit to kin, or indirectly through reciprocation of an initially selfless act.

Using these ideas, one can construct a theoretical mechanism for the establishment of the ethics system present in todays society. The behavior of the seagulls displayed a fairly high level of understanding, with the apparent understanding that in the future their actions would be rewarded. The capacity of a human to make this connection, in the nomadic group structure of early homosapien, would presumably be even greater, allowing for more of these types of behaviors at a higher level than the gulls. One can imagine what society would be like if we didn't have these "selfless" behaviors instilled in us. It would be brutal, unorganized, every man for himself warfare, our lifespans would no doubt be shortened, our children less likely to survive, and general health would diminish dramatically, resulting in a decrease in our fitness. It is not out of selflessness that we strive to uphold the ethics of our society, it is through an understanding that our efforts will be reciprocated by those around us. There are no altruistic acts, there is no "for the greater good", there are only individuals helping to create an environment that best suits their own needs. These behaviors developed in individuals operating completely through the devices of Darwinian evolutionary theory.


He replys:

Your friend doesn't see the task at hand. He offers causes of ethical
behavior instead of reasons for being ethical.

-and he wrote a few interspersals through my response which just echo these arbitrary philosophical meaningless discrepencies. I could see he was going down a road in which these same meaningless questions would lead down an ugly road to nowhere (which I think is often the case when a philosopher gets to a point of confusion in a duscussion), so I chose to end the conversation here. The causes for being ethical that I presented are the reason. There is no reason for all this philosophical crap, I put it all on the page, straightforward clear cut science. The cause is the reason.

a.k.a. I win. Go science.

So, let me know what you think if you read through it. I will be especially pleased if you find a problem with what I said.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ice pops and bus drivers

Man, I love ice pops. I got my grandad into ice pops. We have already gone through 200 in a week I think. Had to go to the hospital last night, my grandad was having trouble breathing and had a temperature, so we went, just to be safe, but he is fine now, it was nothing big, I think he just needed a couple ice pops. The orange ice pops are freakin nuts though. One killed a pudding pop once, right in my freezer. Maybe he ate too many orange ice pops.

The bus drivers in Kentucky are ridiiiculous. The first year I lived there my bus driver was some old dude who just turned off his hearing aid for the whole trip. He stopped in a parking lot on the first day and told us if we scream too loud he will have Nam flashbacks and freak out. The next year the dude stopped again and told us that he was in the war and he was 50% retarded cause he fell out of an airplane. normally he would go to 2 neighborhoods, but a couple times he would jsut forget and go right past the second one, and we didnt tell him till we got to school, and he would get all pissed and then speed back to try to get the kids, haha. And once when we went over the train tracks, he tried to beat the bars that come down, but they came down right on top of the bus. He wasnt our bus driver anymore after that.

We have wine at 9 every day. Port at 9 is not the same. Mark got some nasty dessert wine called port. not reccomended.

I miss poker.

There is a spot on my chest a couple inches under my scar on my neck from the accident that when i touch it, it feels like I am touching the scar, but really I am touching 2 inches below it. Its freakin weird.

Monday, September 8, 2008

au natural

I work on the sailboat, every day, with my brother and grandad. Today we scraped the teak trimmings on the deck to refinish it, we got it scraped down, and the teak has a really nice natural color to it, it looked good on the boat. So im thinking, man, this would be easy to just clear coat, no need to tape the edges around the deck, you can be sloppy, lets just clear coat it. But no. We have to stain it. What color is the new expensive stain he just bought? NATURAL TEAK! we are staining the natural teak... natural teak. ya, me neither.

My brother and I were looking at hurricane Ike a few days ago, debating over its path. He said he thought it woudl make landfall north of florida, following the route of Hanna. I said theres no way it will hit north of Florida. So we make a bet. One shiny nickel, I think it will hit florida, he thinks it will not. And damned if the bastard dosnt take a turn to the south, just for me, btu then it keeps going... and going... and now the thing is MISSING FLORIDA to the SOUTH! So, I effing lose the bet. Im sorry to everyone who lives there, but i really hope Ike clips the Keys. There are nickles at stake here.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Foul Joke

I thought of a joke yesterday.

A duck, a chicken, and a goose walk into a strip club, and the... well... maybe I shouldnt post it here. It really is a fowl joke.


GET IT??? FOWL?!???

Ya, I know, I have already begun my plans to go on tour. But really, I think that joke is just way more fun to tell. You tell that joke to someone and try not to laugh yourself. Sure they might not laugh, but maybe the joke teller deserves a little bit of the benefit sometimes, screw the audience, tell my joke.

What the crap does "make do" mean? thats just two verbs. right in a row. nonsense. and somehow it means to deal with the situation that you are in. stupid. make. do. shut up.

I hear Kim Jong Il is dead. Woah.

fowl joke. hahahahaaaa.

Bald Nazi

I wanted a haircut, but only had a razor, and this happened. It takes a long time to shave your head, and it kinda hurts, especially without shaving cream. I dont know why I didnt use shaving cream. It is nice and easy though, having a shaved head. All the old sailor men at the boat dock say I look good, no doubt they are just trying to legitimize their own shiny craniums. Already multiple people have accused me of being a nazi, I cant think of why people associate baldness with nazism, I dont think Hitler advocated shave heads.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

So. Blog.

As I sit here in North Carolina and go through my AIM list, Google talk list, and whatever other means of casual contact with the outside world I have available, I realize that you all are busy, with jobs, school, whatever it is. You living your real lives. I am kind of idly sitting by waiting until real life punches me in the face. So I decided to start a blog. I need some way to share my thoughts and experiences, it is tough when you are alone. So, I imagine I will be putting some pretty random stuff on here, I don't even know if I expect anyone to read this crap, I kinda just want to do it. I realize that you may read some of this and think "who the hell would possibly care about that, why would you put that on the internet", I know I have said that to myself many times, but the answer is that I am doing this largely for my own entertainment. So, respond if you want, criticize, argue, agree, call me stupid, praise my genious, you know, whatever.

Well. I am currently in New Bern, North Carolina at my grandparents house and we are readying their 36' sailboat for a trip to the Bahamas. My brother and I are down here, we will be painting, cleaning, organizing, fixing, breaking, dirtying up the place until we leave in the end of October. My uncle, aunt and their two daughters are joining up with us in the next month and will be joining us on the trip. We will be in the Bahamas for 6-9 months, and it will be awesome. If you have any urge to run away to the Bahamas some time between November and June, I can arrange a free bed on a luxurious 36' sailboat for you. December is already pretty well booked, get your reservations in early. Location of said sailboat subject to change without notice. Price and participation may vary.

So, hopefully I will update this sucker every few days, put pictures up and whatnot, and speaking of which, I lost my camera when moving from my apartment, anyone know where that is?

Hurricane Hanna blew through here last night, it was fairly exciting, I was hoping for more carnage, like looting, some stuff on fire, maybe horses running loose in the streets, but it was just crazy windy an rainy. Couple trees fell over. It was OK.

Allright, I'm done for now. I am officially a blogger.