Naval Ship Turned Exploration Vessel

Picture courtesy of NOAA

During highschool I studied maritime archaeology and enjoyed it immensely. I created a form sheet that I could use to catalogue the shipwrecks I studied because I wanted to have the details "spelled" out for me. I like details, or records. I take delight in having everything well documented, in its place, and easily accessible. If the article/story I read didn't have the ship's specifications already collected I would collect the information myself. To some people this might be boring and a waste of time, but keeping good records is never to be scorned.

Today's post is following the line I started a few days ago documenting, in my own way, the NOAA Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition 2013. I wanted to first take a look at the Okeanos Explorer itself before moving to the dives and marine life they've observed.

Okeanos Explorer

Picture courtesy of NOAA
Name: Okeanos Explorer, from the Greek "Okeanos", for ocean
Formerly: Naval surveillance T-AGOS class ship Capable
LOA (length over all): 224 feet
Breadth: 43 feet
Draft: 15 feet
Displacement: 2,298.3 metric tons
Berthing: 46
Main propulsion: Diesel electric with twin inboard turning screws
Speed: 10 knots
Endurance: 40 days at sea
Built: 1987 by VT Halter Marine, Inc., Moss Point, MS
Home port: Kingstown, Rhode Island, USA
Mission: mapping, site characterization, reconnaissance, and education and outreach

NOAA obtained the vessel in September of 2004. They began refitting her for ocean exploration in 2005, and she was commissioned the 13th of August 2008, during which time they installed an the ROV hangar and forecastle, a new stern deck, and a Telepresence satellite dome, enabling them to stream live footage to onshore scientists all over the world. The Okeanos Explorer is also equipped with hull-mounted, multi-beam sonar as deep as 6,000 meters, as well as two permanent ROV's, of which I will speak more on later.

Picture courtesy of NOAA

The Okeanos was formerly a Naval vessel called the Capable, used for ocean surveillance with the singular purpose of gathering underwater acoustical data. Now NOAA is utilizing the ships scientific abilities to observe and examine the oceans topography, marine life and underwater communities, among other things.

Known as "America's Ship for Ocean Exploration", the Okeanos has been on at least five separate expeditions, from the Indonesian 'Coral Triangle Region', and the Galápagos to the Mid-Cayman Rise within the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Presently they are in the Northeast U.S. canyons, where they "expect to explore cold seeps, deep coral communities, undersea canyons, landslide features, and a seamount." Having completed the first leg of their journey, the crew of the Okeanos has taken break in New York, but will be out on the second leg in no time.

You can watch live footage from the expedition by clicking here. If you have any questions leave me a comment, or take a look at their page, Okeanos Explorer.

In My Backyard - #13 - With Eyes like a Hawk...

Well, I said I wasn't going to write another one of these but I couldn't bring myself to miss a month after having kept it up for a year now. So instead I am going to be more casual about it and leave off some of the droning I feel I do.

(Also, you may have been expecting another post on NOAA Okeanos Expedition 2013. Don't worry, its coming. I just thought I'd pop this in here today instead.)

Hawks have always fascinated me. Unlike the other birds I have wrote about on in this series, hawks are birds of prey and a little more gruesome. They find fruit and seeds less appetizing than little animals.

In fact, just the other day we had one swooping through the trees that line the perimeter of our one-acre. Obviously it was searching for a meal, and (sadly enough) it found one. We weren't sure if it got a baby squirrel or a baby bird, but it had something that it was eating away on. Have you ever seen them eat? It's not for the faint of heart. They hold the meat with their talons and rip with their beaks, hastily swallowing the morsel.

We watched him for a bit with the binoculars and I managed to get a few pictures but they didn't turn out. He flew off before finishing his meal. Evidently the angry birds around him were upsetting his appetite.

Though majestic and beautiful, hawks pose a problem to owners of small pets or farm animals, such as chickens or rabbits, etc. A friend of ours likes to leave her chickens loose to roam in her fenced in yard because she believes, as do we, that it is much healthier for them. Unfortunately, nearby hawks agree with her as well. My brother and I were leaving her house one day and we saw two good sized specimens just hanging around.

And yet, there is something that always comes to mind when talking about hawks or other small birds of prey. Have you ever read My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George? Its about a boy living in the woods who befriends a peregrin falcon, among other things. I read it years ago for school but the idea of catching a falcon and keeping it as a pet stuck with me. I've always had a special place in my heart for the beautiful creatures, and I always will. Of course, when catching the bird, the boy got quite scratched up. That stuck with me as well. But he had a friend for life.

A Good Distraction

NOAA's Okeanos Explorer

For two weeks now NOAA's Okeanos Explorer has been conducting an expedition in the Northeastern U.S. Canyons for purposes of observing benthic communities, gas hydrates at cold seeps in the seafloor, and the canyons geomorphology (the Earth's topographic features), among other things. With four more weeks to go, the scientists expect to observe all of these things via an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) called the Deep Discovery 2 and its partner vehicle, Seirios.

The day after they started I noticed an email from Emily Crum, the website manager, informing me, and others who are subscribed to Ocean Explorer's email updates, of the new expedition now underway. I have always had an interest in marine biology, including maritime history and archaeology, and was eager to find out more about it. I turned on the live feed (which you can watch by going to their site) and my family and I have been glued to our TV/computer screen since. We turn it on as early as 7 o'clock (our time) in the morning and leave it on sometimes long past their return, which averages around 3 - 3:30 (their time) in the afternoon on most days. It has been incredibly enlightening and we have a had a great time learning new things.

Since it is something that interests me I have decided to do my own log. A little late, of course, but this won't be anything official. Its totally personal. And just to add ahead of time, I am an amateur marine biologist, which is just the same as saying, "I don't know a great deal but I like it". So anyone looking to learn some hard facts needs to keep in mind the aforesaid. I do plan to give facts, and very true facts, but they will be the product of my own research.

Image of a bobtail squid

I am thrilled to find out that they allow the use of their images and information as long as you attribute them. Being a blogger, its sometimes hard to get ahold of images, or rather, to get permission to use specific images. Articles are made better by pictures, I've learned. And you know what they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words."

So don't go away, I'll be back soon with more on the expedition.

Wallflower (1948) - Movie Review

Wallflower is a light and charming comedy made in the late 40's starring Robert Hutton and Joyce Reynolds. The plot is simple and sweet, and the characters are more than well acted. Though its never been a big hit, it is one that is always a delight to see.

Because of the simplicity of the film I find its one I always come back to when I want something homey to watch. Like this week, for instance, I needed to work out a pattern idea, so I spread my crochet out in front of me and turned this movie on. I love it; I admit it. Here's my review:

Quick synopsis

Jackie is a smart and intelligent young woman whose subtle beauty is constantly overshadowed by her sister Joy's, bright personality and striking looks. Though normally fine with this, Jackie decides its time to take some action when she is at risk of losing the man she really loves to her sisters' charms.


Just out of college, step-sisters Jackie and Joy are returning to their home in Hempstead, Ohio, but miss their plane due to Joy's "fascination" with men. Though a bit displeased, Jackie is not in the least surprised and quickly makes preparations for tickets on another flight. Joy introduces Jackie to a new friend, Stevie Wilson, who happens to be a pilot and offers to fly them home.

Just seconds after they have arrived Joy already has a date for the afternoon with at least three other men, while Jackie, on the other hand, is just content to admire the beautiful flowers she received from her childhood friend Warren James. When Warren arrives Jackie couldn't be happier. But when she thanks him for the flowers she realizes that they were for her and Joy and that some mistake was made on the card.

When Warren starts to invite her to the country club dance he's cut short as Joy enters, already dressed for her swim date. Warren is practically speechless and in the end joins Joy, leaving Jackie alone the basement.

Not too pleased with the turn of events, Jackie spends the afternoon settling back in. She asks her step-mother later on about the card and finds that she was the one who altered it. She told her that Joy didn't care who she went out with while Warren was the "pick-of-the-lot" and just right for Jackie.

Some days later, on her way home from the library, Jackie runs into Warren just leaving from dropping Joy off. He mentions that he hasn't seen her lately and she assures him that she will be at the dance that night, even though she knows very well that she won't.

Mr. Linnett, Jackie and Joy's father, finds out that Jackie hasn't been invited to the dance and is perfectly irate. Jackie tries to make her father believe that she doesn't care but he responds all the more outraged, saying that "his" daughter wasn't going to stay home while his wife's daughter went out. In the end, Jackie tells her family that if they can't get used to the fact of her unpopularity than she would just have to leave.

Warren and his family arrive to take the Linnett's to the dance, Warren having invited Joy and his parents going with Mr. and Mrs. Linnett. Jackie stays in her room but can't help overhearing Mrs. James exclamations of pity for her.

Just minutes later, the phone rings but Jackie doesn't care to answer it knowing they only want Joy. Finally giving in, she hears its Stevie Wilson, the pilot. Suddenly inspired, Jackie plays it up causing Stevie to think she's someone he hasn't met. Only too anxious to meet this Joy-act-alike, he arranges a date.

Satisfied with her endeavours, Jackie takes some scissors to her dress and gives herself a whole new look.

Meanwhile, at the party, Warren is still enamoured by Joy and so convinced that he loves her that he proposes, and is quickly turned down. Disappointed and let down, he joins Mr. Linnett at the bar and the two drown their sorrows over women in their drink.

Arriving at the dance, the "new" Jackie takes no time in attracting attention. When Joy spots her she is aghast and not sure what to say about her sisters sudden change.

Eventually she manages to get over her surprise and, in no way jealous at being passed up for her sister, gives her an nudge of encouragement. Inconsequently, Stevie still doesn't recognize her as the bookish girl he flew home a few weeks before.

Since Warren is her main objective, Jackie leaves Stevie to find another dance partner and finds Warren on the terrace slightly the worse for wear. In his intoxicated state, he tells her that he wants to marry her which, for Jackie, is a dream come true, but she is not willing to talk serious with him in his state and instead proposes they go for a swim.

Hoping the water will sober him up, Jackie takes him to the family's lake. Of all the horrible pranks, some boys steal their clothes and leave them only their robes. Still not sober, Warren thinks its all fun and games and Jackie has to get them home.

Her misfortune mounts when they are caught on the street without clothes and driver's license. On top of that, she makes the mistake of mentioning Warren's inebriation to the officer who finds comes upon them. With nothing left to say, Jackie and Warren spend the night in jail.

With the whole town abuzz with the news and a story on the front page of the newspaper, Mr. Linnett gives Jackie the third degree. Trying the new reputation on for size, Jackie refuses to be daunted by the neighbours rumours and her father's condescension.

Warren and Jackie's parents decide the best thing for them to do is elope immediately. Since Warren doesn't remember anything, he figures their parents suggestions are for the best but Jackie, who alone knows what really happened the night before, takes some time to feel out Warren's true feelings for her.

She unexpectedly learns that Warren had proposed to Joy the night before and leaves. Finally realizing that he loves Jackie, Warren pushes everyone aside and demands Joy tell him where Jackie is going. He finds out she is headed for New York and throws caution to the wind to find her.

Mr. and Mrs. Linnett, along with Joy and Stevie, follow and ensure Warren gets on the same train. The two find each other in time to grab their luggage and get off.

But even though they have finally found each other, they have also once again been found by the police.

This might be an illogical ending but it fits the comedy. Of course the police wouldn't arrest them for half the things they seem to in the movies but it often gives the plot a funny twist.

Its the same old story every girl has felt true in her life at one point or another, not being noticed, but this one has a happy ending.

Next week (or possibly the week after) I will post a review of Jumbo (1962). I'm still trying to work things out. I'm not pleased with my reviews. I try to be professional and I end up feeling stiff. Besides that, my reviews are too long. Its so hard to simplify. Especially when its a story I really like. Maybe I like telling other people's stories a little too much.

Stick around....

With Three Projects on My Hook...

For the longest, I hated having more than one project going at once. It reminded me of my days when I couldn't get myself to finish a project, a terrible trait I thank God I left behind. As I ventured out more in my crafting, I eventually became okay with having a project on the side (sometimes you just have to lay one aside for a time), and now, with my job at Crochet Spot, I have definitely gotten over it.

There are so many projects I want to make from other peoples patterns, let alone the one's I want to create myself, that I have no choice but to have more than one going. This week, I have three projects on my hook. Gasp!

My first project is the Lollipop Tank from Crochet Today's May/June 2013 issue. Its beautiful! Since I am making it for Mum, I chose Luster Sheen's Violet instead of the original Orange. Its been a good direction for me since I haven't taken much time to make clothing before. My only problem is making sure it fits. I want to try it on her as I go and that means I have to catch her. Sigh... But I'll manage.

Second on my hook is a baby blanket for my second cousin's new baby. One thing I've always enjoyed is making baby blankets. I made my first years ago for a cousin's new baby and that started me on a long line of baby blankets. If some friend or relative doesn't have a new baby deserving of one of these handcrafted softies, then I just make one to donate. I actually have two that I need to take and I haven't gotten around to it. Unfortunately. I really want to make a ministry out of it but right now I'm not sure where to go past donating the blankets.

This pattern is kind of my own. I wanted to use Tiny Tulips from Bernat Baby Coordinates, and I really like this stitch pattern, so I worked out this idea. I haven't gotten much done yet so its really hard to see what I am about. I'll post an update when I am finished.

These eventually became my Summer Lace Fingerless Gloves. For pattern pic, click here. To buy the pattern, click here.

And then my last. I had to forget those two patterns for my next Crochet Spot pattern. Thankfully, I didn't have a lot of brain-racking to do. It just kind of came to me. I had the pattern pretty much worked out in one day, which is usually what I do with free weekends. Curious as to what they are? I'll give you a hint, they are lacy and they go around your hand. That's all I'm going to say for now. You might be able to get more out of it by looking at the picture but that's okay. You'll find the pattern on Crochet Spot sometime next week, I believe.

By the way, I'm still planning on those improvements for our room. I've actually got some yarn that I might use. I bought it without paying close attention to the actual amount. Needless to say, I was quite surprised when I opened the box.

But it'll be great if I can use it for the curtains. Its definitely plenty! Now we only need to work out the motif we want to use and buy some other colors. (Note the size of the Red Heart With Love behind it!)

That's all for me, right now. What about you? What's on your hook?

Government Girl (1943) - Movie Review

Hello, everybody! And welcome to my newest series. As I outlined in a previous post, I will be posting a movie review once a week (more or less) on some of my absolute favourite movies. I chose this one to be my first because it is one that I love most. Olivia de Havilland gives an amazing performance, particularly my favourite of all her performances. We loved her alongside Errol Flynn, she played the excellent supporting role, but this movie gives her a chance to branch out of that "supporting role" and show us a whole new side.

What I love most about her character is her quick speaking and school-girl attitude. She shows a lot of emotion and you can't help feeling it with her.

Sonny Tufts does a swell job as well. The only other movie I can think of having seen with him is So Proudly We Hail! but I'm sure there are more that I just haven't noticed. He plays the clueless mechanic who just wants to build planes and has no idea of how to work within the government.

This is a war-time comedy, like so many of the movies made during World War II, and I'd give it a 5 star rating.


Ed Browne, former automotive mechanic from Detroit, is an independent businessman given a job supervising the building of bomber planes on the War Construction Board, even though his real wish is to join the Marines.

His arrival in Washington is harried. Not being able to find a hotel room, he eventually gets noticed from the newspaper article and given a room formerly reserved for a wedding.

Elizabeth Allard, fondly known as Smokey, is an employee of the War Construction Board and just happens to be the friend of the woman getting married. Smokey is very angered at the change of luck for her friend, May, and tells Mr. Browne so, who mistakenly thinks that she is the bride instead of her friend.

The next morning she is stuck with May's husbands' motorcycle and desperately trying to find someone to drive it for her. The only man willing turns out to be Ed Browne, and since she has no other choice, she accepts. Unfortunately, Ed's skill at driving the motorcycle is a little rusty and Smokey gets a ride she'll never forget.

Finally arriving at her destination after a grand "tour" of Washington, Smokey leaves the hazardous Mr. Browne and enters the building, not too steady on her feet.

As a secretary, she is assigned a new boss. She enters the office only to find Ed already there. Not knowing who he is, she tells him to leave before "Mr. Browne" gets there, and soon finds out her mistake.

Ed informs Smokey of what he hopes to accomplish and, being her new boss, how she is going to help him accomplish it. 

They get down to business and Smokey realizes Ed knows nothing about proper government procedure. She is appalled and takes him to a board where she informs him of all the branches of the government and their usefulness.

Ed doesn't care a wit for that kind of procedure and shows Smokey his way of handling it by throwing darts at a caricature of their enemies. Though not at all in agreement with him, and obviously perturbed at his methods, she takes the darts handed her and hits a good target.

They eventually come to terms with each other and the past is put behind them. Smokey pledges to help him reach his goals.

On the side, he offers her his class ring, still believing her to be newly married and without a proper wedding ring, in order to protect her from other men's advances. She quickly clarifies the situation and leaves Ed surprisingly relieved.

In an effort to point him in the right direction, Smokey gets Ed invited to a major social event where everyone who is everyone is present. Since there is no "Mrs. Browne" to accompany him, he tells Smokey to. Before entering, she instructs him on a few social necessities to remember.

Meeting Mrs. Right, their socialite hostess and powerful mover in Washington, Ed is in no way impressed or intimidated by her show of influence and leaves the woman somewhat flabbergasted.

Meanwhile, Smokey runs into her boyfriend, Dana McGuire, the counsel to Senator MacVickers, who, in his eagerness to gain favorability, is seen everywhere with the Senator and his "available" daughter, making Smokey feel she has competition. He reassures her of his affections, hoping she'll understand why he needs to do this, and Smokey, who is hopelessly in love with him, doesn't say a word.

Although Smokey has come to terms with Ed's way of conducting business, his former partner warns him that not everyone will understand. He advises him to take it easy and watch his back but Ed waves him off, remembering all they managed to get away with in the old days. His friend strengthens his admonishments and really tells Ed that this job is going to take some doing.

Realizing that his friend is right, Ed returns to the office downcast and planning to resign. Thankfully, Smokey catches him and gives him the encouragement he needs. She tells him that, though its obvious she'd marry McGuire at the drop of a hat, she won't leave him until their work is done. Pleased at this, Ed tears up his resignation and gets down to business.

The trouble they have all predicted Ed to run into arrives when C. L. Harvester, another production supervisor, accuses him of stealing his materials. He warns Ed that he will advise a Senate investigation but most of all, he believes Ed is making himself rich in airplane production. Ed says, "I take orders from the Army and the Navy", and sends Harvester on his way.

True to his word, Harvester pulls records from Ed's former activities and goes over the facts with Mrs. Right and McGuire, hoping McGuire will bring the point up to Senator MacVickers. McGuire, seeing this as his chance to make a name for himself, latches on to the idea and goes into action.

After six months, Ed and Smokey have accomplished their goals and heartily congratulate each other. Having worked with her for so long, he begins to hope he might have a chance with her after all.

Shortly after though, Smokey receives a surprise, and hasty, visit from McGuire who immediately proposes. Ed sees the two together and realizes he never had a chance.

Too much in love to say no, or ask why this is so suddent, Smokey accepts and that night she returns to work to type a letter to her boss requesting time off.

She hears voices in Ed's office and enters to see him and reporter, Branch Owens, an old friend of hers, having it out. Branch, ever blunt, informs them of the investigation already underway, and blames Smokey for spilling information to McGuire.

Heartbroken, Smokey admits that she told her boyfriend some things, mostly funny things that her boss had done, but she never knew he'd use it against them. Branch coldly leaves her to weep while Ed tries to reassure Smokey that its alright and he doesn't blame her for anything.

Its all over the news and Smokey, knowing what the government would say in light of her boss's unorthodox methods, finds the most condemning records and takes them to the apartment she shares with May to burn.

While there, she and May are requested to go undercover for an evening to reveal a spy and when its a success, May and her new husband are finally rewarded the hotel room they had reserved before.

(Spoilers ahead!)

At the inquiry, McGuire lays the facts down hard and Ed doesn't stand a chance. Unfortunately, he is interrupted by Smokey herself who has brought the records for Senator MacVickers to examine.

She takes the moment to tell them just what Ed has achieved, and the sound of a squadron of bombers overhead reinforces her words. So he might have went about it different, he still "got it done!" she says. Having said all she had to say, she leaves in tears and returns to her apartment where she throws herself on her bed, hopeless for her boss that she now realizes she loves.

A few moments later, Branch appears and tells Smokey not to take it so hard. But Smokey won't listen and balls all the more. Ed appears in the doorway and Branch takes his exit. He tells her that they let him off. But more importantly to them both, he asks her to marry him, to which she says yes. And for the first time in the whole movie, she calls him "Ed" instead of "Mr. Browne".

The End

I guess in a way I enjoy writing these reviews a little too much. Its a great story, and I suppose I can't help putting it in my own words. Its just that I'm a writer and I love words!

Old movies have been a part of my life since I can remember. I knew more about the actors of the 40's, 50's, and 60's than modern actors. Today, even though we see the modern movies that come out (with ClearPlay, if necessary) I always return to the old ones. They'll always be my favourite.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my review. Be sure to tell me what you think! And don't forget to come back sometime next week for the next review on Wallflower (1948), with Robert Hutton and Joyce Reynolds.