Monday Titanic News

You probably do not want to show a movie about deadly snakes like Black Mamba on a plane. Photo: Bill Love, Blue Chameleon Ventures(Wikipedia)
You probably do not want to show a movie about deadly snakes like Black Mamba  loose on a plane while on a flight.
Photo: Bill Love, Blue Chameleon Ventures(Wikipedia)

1. What movies do you want to avoid while traveling is what Gary Collinson considers over at So what movies does he think fit into this category? Well obviously if you are on a cruise, Cameron’s Titanic is on the list. Likewise avoid watching Psycho while staying at a hotel. Snakes On A Plane you likely want to avoid while flying. And when your out backpacking in the woods, probably best to avoid Wolf Creek. Many air carriers already do not show airplane disaster movies to passengers and nor are you likely to see graphic horror movies either. Something to ponder in your summer travels.
Source: Worst Movies To Watch While Travelling(28 June 2014,

2. Joshua Milford is seriously focused on Titanic. He really cannot explain exactly why but believes it is “God-given.” At any rate his fascination has led him to build a 10 foot long, 2 1/2 feet high and 60 pound replica. It took him two years beginning at Titanic’s centenary to complete the project. He worked an average of 10 hours a week. Milford studies drafting at Amarillo College and has Titanic blueprints in his Titanic collection. The model is built from oak, plywood, and fibreglass.

“I thought this was the best way I could present the Titanic to people so the story would be remembered,” he said. “I want to keep the story going, so that’s why I decided to make this. I thought I might as well make it big if I do that. It’s easier to detail that way.”

What makes this different from other home made models is that it can be remote controlled. The first attempt had some problems but plans to have it ready for 5 Jul.
Source:Titanic Fanatic Builds Ship Replica(25 June 2014,Amarillo Globe News)

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Titanic II Update: Troubled Waters

 Photo:JamesAlan1986 (Wikipedia)
The Chinese appear to have closed the door on Clive Palmer
Photo:JamesAlan1986 (Wikipedia)

Cruise Ship News is reporting that while Palmer has gotten a lot of preliminary things done, progress on ship construction has been stalled. The keel was supposed to be laid in March 2014 but now has been pushed to September. The ship is still planned to be completed in 2016, but another problem has emerged namely that Palmer is not in good standing with the leaders in Beijing. According to the Courier Mail,Palmer’s search for Chinese sponsors is now nearly impossible. The Chinese owned company CITIC Pacific has accused Palmer’s company Mineralogy “of siphoning $12m from it to help fund the 2013 Palmer United Party election campaign.” In short, Palmer took money from the Chinese government. The Chinese government has not filed a formal complaint but Palmer, through his spokesman, denies the allegations.

However it means should he land on Chinese soil, they might detain him. Which means making it very problematic to build Titanic II in China if the government believes you stole money from them. Palmer is also involved in litigation against CITIC over royalties he claims owed to him. Add it up and one can not see a favorable climate in China for this ship being built there at this time. If he wants their money to invest in energy projects and Titanic II, he will have to practice the kowtow before that will occur.

1. Progress Of Titanic 2 Ship Two Years On(27 June 2014,Cruise Ship News)
2. Clive Palmer’s Blunt Manner Of Saying What He Thinks Does Not Translate Well From Australia To China. Is The Politician Billionaire’s Mouth Getting Him In Trouble?(31 May 2014, Courier Mail)

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Horatio Hornblower

Battle Of Trafalgar (1805) by William Lionel Wyllie(1851-1931) Image: Public Domain
Battle Of Trafalgar (1805) by William Lionel Wyllie(1851-1931)
Image: Public Domain

Horatio Hornblower is the titular character in a series of novels written by C.S. Forester about an officer in the British Royal Navy set chiefly during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). He first appeared in the 1937 book Beat To Quarters(The Happy Return in UK) as the captain of HMS Lydia on a secret mission to Central America. Spain is allied with France and he is to make contact with a leader who will lead a rebellion. It turns out to be a madman who calls himself “El Supremo.” He captures a Spanish ship, the Natividad and reluctantly must hand it over to him. Later though he learns Spain has switched sides and now is with Britain. So he now has to stop the madman who has command of a formidable Spanish warship. And he also picks up a distinguished passenger: Lady Barbara Wellesley. She is the (fictional) younger sister of Sir Arthur Wellesley, who had gained prominence in India and commands the British troops in Spain and Portugal. The tension between the two would be part of future stories.

The Hornblower books entertained old and young alike with vibrant characters and good storytelling. And of course a far dose of adventures against the enemy both on land and sea. The books were not written in chronological order so Forester went back and wrote books about the younger Hornblower to fill out his career. When put together, they take us from when he was a lowly midshipman all the way up to becoming Admiral of the Fleet. You also get a fair dose of what it was like to run ships back then. And why many, if they could, avoided naval duty due to the harsh conditions, cramped quarters, and often long sea duty. You get fully developed characters in the novels, not just cut-up figures placed in the novels for no better purpose than to fill a gap.

Back then there was no naval academy (nor one for the army either) so aspiring officers signed on as midshipman to be trained. Hornblower, coming from a modest background but decent education, had no wealth or mentor. So he would have to do it all himself. The Royal Navy, unlike the British Army, did not allow the purchase of officer commissions so promotions were either by merit or by family connections. Hornblower was driven to prove himself though he often had doubts about his abilities. He also often withdrew to himself making him incomprehensible to even his closest friends. Yet he was a daring, resourceful, and loyal officer who gained the trust and loyalty of his crew and officers. He also had problems with the draconian punishments he was required to do under regulations. In one case he helped a former steward of his, who assaulted another officer, to escape. Gene Roddenberry drew upon this character to develop Captain James T. Kirk of Star Trek.

Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951) starring Gregory Peck is an excellent adaptation of Beat To Quarters, Ship of the Line, and Flying Colours. Forester apparently had a significant role in keeping the script from becoming the ordinary swashbuckling movie. It gets high marks to this day for its action and surprising introspection. There were some radio performances done as well of the books. More recently there was a British television series Hornblower which ran on ITV in the UK and A&E in the U.S from 1998-2003. The high points of these dramatizations were using real ships and an excellent cast. Ioan Gruffudd played the role of Horatio Hornblower. However while it is drawn from the Forester novels, the stories were altered, changed, and in some cases rewritten making them very different from the source material. There is nothing more disappointing than to see a great Forester novel hacked up in this manner. So while the television series has high marks in sets and acting, it gets low marks in adapting the original work. That is why the 1951 movie still stands in my mind as the better screen adaptation.

The Hornblower books, in chronological order:

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower
Lieutenant Hornblower
Hornblower and the Hotspur
Hornblower and the Atropos
Beat To Quarters
Ship of the Line
Flying Colors
Commodore Hornblower
Lord Hornblower
Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies

Check your local library for the Hornblower novels. Many booksellers do carry them as many online sellers like Amazon (disclosure-I am an Amazon Associate). Netflix does have the dvd versions of the movie and television series. They can also be purchased from Amazon as well.

If you want to dip your toe into the Hornblower novels, I think Beat To Quarters is still the best one to read first. I really sets the tone that the later novels will follow. The earlier stories fill in much detail about his early career. The Midshipman book is really a collection of short stories, many of which were the basis of the first episodes of the television series

Some Historical Trivia
*The British Army of this period had to recruit. Each regiment sent out recruiting parties to get lads to sign up. All promotions, ranks, and rates were regimental. Any general army rank was brevet, only your regimental rank counted in the end.

*The Royal Navy had severe recruitment problems. The best sailors were on merchant ships. They got paid better and less strict discipline. The Royal Navy had the power to press able bodied men (called impressment) into service. They would await the arrival of merchant ships and then take the crews as soon as they got off. Or they would scour the major port areas–pubs, lodgings, gaming houses etc–of eligible men. They preferred those with sailing experience but would take non-sailors if they had too.

*The practice of impressment also occurred at sea. The Royal Navy could stop a British ship and take some of its crew into naval service. But what got them into trouble was conscripting American citizens on those ships or stopping an American ship and taking some of its crew. That led to the War of 1812. The practice ended in 1815.

*Shanghaiing is the disreputable practice of crimpers and ship owners to kidnap able bodied men to work on merchant ships. They would get them drunk or drug them and them get them aboard ship before they could do anything about it. And then they were stuck.

*The ranks in the British Royal Navy during this period were (lowest to highest)midshipman,lieutenant,commander,captain,commodore,and admirals. The rank of ensign was an army rank (today’s 2nd Lieutenant). There were no official junior ranks such as lieutenant junior grade or lieutenant commander. Today midshipman is now reserved for naval academy cadets and ensign is the lowest naval officer grade. During this period, date of commission was how seniority was determined. The youngest commissioned lieutenant was the junior lieutenant while the oldest commission made him the senior lieutenant. The problem with this system was inflexibility and led to promotion of officers who might otherwise not deserve it.

*Many navy officers during this period would be put on half-pay during the brief periods of peace that occurred. Admirals and lieutenants had to live on half pay. Okay if you were already from a wealthy family but Hornblower found it very difficult. Playing whist, which he was good at, brought extra money. It was worse for the common sailor. They got nothing and had to find a berth, if they could, on a merchant ship.

Titanic Tidbits & Musings

1. National Geographic has decided to look back at the 1990s in an upcoming documentary called The ‘90s:The Last Great Decade? As is usual they send out press releases and even previews to media. Sadly TNC seems to never get those media packets. At any rate James Cameron’s Titanic is tied with Forrest Gump as best movie of the decade. Sadly for Kate Winslet, Jennifer Aniston was the female icon with Christina Applegate coming in second. And a show about nothing about four self-centered people barely beat out the X-Files. While Aniston was the babe, sadly the rest of her Friends were pushed aside by the show about nothing. Then again what was Friends about anyway?
Source:Titanic,’ ‘Seinfeld’ Top Best Of ’90s Poll(25 June 2014, Popwatch)

2.The Titanic Hotel at Liverpool’s Stanley Dock (not to be confused with the other Titanic hotel in the former White Star headquarters) is nearing completion reports Liverpool Echo. The first guests are slated to be International Festival For Business delegates. Prices for staying at the new hotel will be between £129-£200 a night (about $203-$339).
Source: Sign That Liverpool’s New Titanic Hotel Is Getting Ready To Open For Business(23 June 2014,Liverpool Echo)

3. In order to raise money for St John’s Hospice a group of fundraisers decided to have a Sink The Titanic food challenge. The challenge will be to eat a mammoth 3 foot, six inch burrito in 30 minutes at Lancaster’s Go Burrito. Calling Adam Richman from Man Vs Food! It is a daft idea, as one person notes in the article, but it certainly gets a notice and awareness of St. John’s Hospice. Have the antacid standing by. Eating that much burrito is bound to have after effects. You can click here to contribute.

4. MasterChef:Mutiny On The Beach Update
Joe Bastianich had the following to say about this recent episode. On Team Red he writes:
Sadly, the same cannot be said for the red team. Leslie was a disappointing leader, but at least he owned up to his incompetence. The rest of his team didn’t help much either, and for that alone they all deserved to lose. Their collective dislike of Leslie helped make a bad situation worse, so at the end of the day, it was everybody’s fault. Who knows how many people flew to California to experience this auspicious event? I have a restaurant and B&B in northeast Italy called Orsone. If my team there ever mishandled a wedding—one of the most important events in a couple’s life—I’d die of embarrassment. The end result on the plate was pleasing to the wedding party, but if we judges hadn’t been there, that would not have happened.

I did not delve into the other team members actions in my write-up. And Joe is right on this. They all wanted to throw Leslie under the bus for the failure not looking at their parts in it as well. Had they been left to their own devices and no one checked them at all, the result would have been very bad indeed. But perhaps they ought to let it happen if nothing else to teach them a lesson in being responsible. In fact, I suggest MasterChef do that at least once or perhaps twice a season. Let them take full and total responsibility for the cooking without any of the Culinary Trio telling them to correct things.

As for the Ahran and Leslie dustup:

Last night’s episode suffered no shortage of drama. Leslie continues to allow himself to be sucked into Ahran’s ridiculousness. As a seasoned adult, he should have recognized that with her he is not dealing with a peer. She is ruining this for herself, but it would be a real shame if Leslie lets her take him with her on the way down. Most of the kids from MasterChef Junior exhibit more poise and emotional maturity—look at last year’s winner, 13-year-old Alexander Weiss.

Ahran is still in high school, at least when the show was filming (she may have graduated by now) and pretty young to compete on the show. She already has shown how anger colors her thinking in a previous episode when she wanted to take Courtney down. And she all but accused the judges of favoritism when it comes to Courtney. That she dislikes Leslie is obvious. While he mispronounced her name at team selection, it was not intentional but she took as such. And in her rant against him said that was the reason she did not like him. At that point Leslie ought to have cut it off and walked away. Instead he decided to take her on at told her to get some cojones (paraphrasing again). The other gals did not like that. Ahran has her own problems and Leslie ought not to be sucked into them. He made it worse when he decided to put up three for the pressure test. To the judges, he showed he could be just as immature. Something they are going to be watching down the line. You know Ahran is in trouble when Joe believes 13-year-old Junior Masterchef winner Alexander Weiss is more mature.

5. Caltrain San Bruno Station
Okay for folks in and around San Bruno, CA, this is for you. The new Caltrain station at San Mateo & San Bruno Avenues was opened for use in April. Construction is still going on the underside (putting in steel plates etc). And use of San Mateo Ave at Huntington is still limited forcing drivers to divert San Bruno Ave and turning left to San Mateo Ave. The good news is that the elevated platform is spacious. The shelters are big allowing a lot more people to stand in them during inclimate weather. When it is windy the shelters come in handy. The downside is that there is no crossover to the other tracks, you have to access them from the street. It sucks but they could not build a wide platform that would allow an island configuration (where people can access trains in either direction from the center) for arrivals and departures. Parking is still an issue because Granite Construction still has it office and other things in that area. And both SamTrans 140,141 have Caltrain stops. The eastbound 140,141 stop near Chuy’s while the westbound stop is at Euclid. Unfortunately for eastbound bus riders who get off, there is no crosswalk at Euclid to cross over to the station. You have to walk up to San Bruno Ave for the crosswalk. San Bruno ought to put a crosswalk at Euclid.

Overall the new station is a vast improvement than the old one at Sylvan. There was no direct bus service to it. Of course being elevated means no more risks of cars stalling on the tracks in the downtown area. It has an easy access area for people with wheelchairs (ramps that lead up to the station on both sides of the station). The elevator is not done but once done, people who have problem walking up stairs can use it. Another plus it is a lot closer to Tanforan and San Bruno Bart. Instead of a 30-40 minute walk from Sylvan, it is 10 minutes or less by foot.

6. SamTrans Makes No Changes To 140/141
The recent schedule changes for SamTrans came into effect on 15 June. Neither of these routes had any schedule changes except that with schools out, runs that made trips to schools now run without going to those schools. Unfortunately some transit apps like Roadify seem to think SamTrans has shut down for the summer!

MasterChef:Mutiny On The Beach

Wedding Rings Photo: Public Domain
Wedding Rings
Photo: Public Domain

*It is week 5 of Masterchef (US). We have 17 aspiring cheftestants left after Kira departed last week.

*For reasons unclear, they have decided to do a wedding episode early in the season. Nor did the judges, as has been seen in previous seasons, provide their own dishes to the event. No dessert is on the menu either. Strange.

*Leslie and Francis pick their teams having won the elimination challenge. Team Leslie (Red) is Christian, Francis, Tyler, Daniel, Christine, Ahran, Jordan and Jaimee. Ahran did not want to be on this team! And when Leslie calls out her name (incorrectly), she fires back how her name is pronounced. Already this is not looking good for Team Red. Team Francis (Blue) is Willie, Courtney, Cutter, Victoria, Elizabeth, Dan and Elise.

*Team Blue gets quickly organized under Francis while Team Red goes to a beat of a different drummer. In most cases, a good leader can solicit advice and get consensus but provide needed leadership. None of that from Leslie. The team members throw out ideas and go off to do their own thing. Leslie has no real idea what is being cooked, which gets Gordon very upset. Francis easily rattled off what they were doing but Leslie stumbled on saying what they were doing while his astonished team looks on. Leslie walks around trying to look like he was being involved but mostly just gets in the way. He tries to tell Ahran what to do but she just gets angry at his interference.

Bligh and other officers and crew put adrift by HMS Bounty mutineers on 29 April 1789. Painting: Robert Dodd (1748-1815)  Public Domain (National Maritime Museum, London, UK)
Bligh and other officers and crew put adrift by HMS Bounty mutineers on 29 April 1789.
Painting: Robert Dodd (1748-1815)
Public Domain (National Maritime Museum,UK)

*Mutiny On The Beach
Team Leslie is rudderless so Daniel becomes Fletcher Christian (who led the mutiny on HMS Bounty in 1789)and calls the team together and Francis B becomes team captain. At least Leslie is spared having to get in a small boat and sail for 48 days to Dutch East Indies as Captain Bligh had to do. Francis said he once was in a competitive sport so he knows how to lead. Okay. Meanwhile Leslie sulks. Jordan walks around not doing much either.

*Gourmet Dining On The Beach
Team Francis: Appetizer is seared scallops on a bed of arugula, papaya and jicama. The main course is lemongrass beurre blanc sea bass served with white asparagus over purple cauliflower puree. At one point Gordon touches a scallop and points out it is cold! Back to the pan!
Team Leslie: Appetizer is seared scallops and mango over an avocado-pea puree. The main course is Sea bass over spicy broccolini and an heirloom tomato and cucumber salad. Francis runs into two problems here. First is that original side for the sea bass was not able to be served. So Gordon made them come up quick with the heirloom tomato and cucumber salad. Second when they got down to the end, they were short 2 sea bass. Christian believes Tyler ate them. So they have to cut up the remaining bass into smaller portions to put on plates. Gordon is not pleased. And the missing two sea bass are never located.

*Bride & Groom Differ On Best Team
The bride and groom had a lovely wedding so now they are ready to eat! But the groom prefers Team Red while she likes Team Blue.

*While the diners and lucky couple can tell them who they liked, the final decision is up to the judges. So the bride has two flowers in her hands, one blue and the other red. With a toss she declares the blue team winners. Team Red now goes back to clean up both kitchens. Grumbling continues about Leslie’s lack of leadership. Ahran gets in Leslie’s face and he yells back as well telling her to get some cojones (I am paraphrasing here). Ahran ends up crying and the other team members try to calm Leslie down. He walks off. More on this later.

*Knives Come Out!
Well everyone is assembled for the pressure test. The team formerly known as Blue enjoys their win from above. Down below failed Team Red awaits its fate. Leslie half admits he was at fault. Gordon informs that only three have to take the pressure test. Leslie is asked who he would select to face it. His name is not one of them, but he puts up Christian, Daniel and Ahran (and again but not accidental mispronounces her name). There are shocked looks up in the balcony and Elizabeth calls Leslie a coward for not selecting himself. HEAD FAKE! Gordon announces they will decide which three will be saved. Leslie has been drawn and quartered metaphorically speaking. Gordon selects him, Graham selects Jordan and Joe selects Francis B.

*A perfect steak
Steak Frites. A delicious bistro steak served (usually) medium rare with thin frites as french fries. Delicious. And now the three have to prepare the same. Leslie is the only one that gets his steak perfectly medium rare. It looked delicious and the onlookers above are disappointed. His potatoes are dreadful though, says Gordon. Graham tastes Jordan’s steak but it is over medium rare to medium. Also he did not quite render the fat out. His fries are okay. Francis B had some help from above with others giving him tips, as Courtney did, on using compound butter. The other Francis did not like the advice. At any rate it looks good but it too is overcooked but, as Joe notes, still moist and very tasty. His fries are good too but there are a few mushy ones. In the end Leslie’s steak saves him and he is safe. It comes down between Jordan and Francis B and Jordan is sent home.

We now have sixteen left. And next week a double billing! Luca Manfe, winner of Season 4, stops by. And so does Alexander who won last year on Junior Masterchef. And someone presents a dish they did not make!

My 2¢
Leslie is a dope, plain and simple. I did not think this guy was going to be so feckless as a leader. He contributed nothing to his team but his voice and it was not pleasant. He was more of the child than Ahran! Getting into shouting matches to prove who is better at it never works. Ahran has a lot of anger so it does not take much to set her off. Leslie grates people in how he talks to them. It is not a friendly attitude or how can I help style, but a bark that puts you down. And it gets worse when you decide to challenge him. He does not like people challenging his authority. I could see if he ever owned a real kitchen a lot of people coming and going from him. Most would not want to work under such a person. And like Krissi last year, he has put the bullseye right on his back. Nobody is going to help him unless they have to. Sadly I suspect he will be around a little longer than most people wish. He has good cooking skills that probably will let him go further than others.

It will be interesting to see how he works at the next team challenge. Only Willy seems to like him. Courtney is now in the number 2 spot of the most disliked this season.

Tyler’s eating reminded me of an episode of Kitchen Nightmares–Lela’s–where one of the workers nicknamed “Buzzard” eats a lot of the food. There was one scene where they went to get brownies and someone (Buzzard)had likely eaten them all up. Tyler better watch it or face some wrath from the Culinary Trio

Masterchef Cookbooks

Summer in San Francisco

Most tourists learn quickly that while San Francisco can have nice and sometimes sunny days, that having a sweater or light jacket can come in handy. Especially in the early morning and often in the late afternoon when the fog comes in.

San Francisco Summer Photo: Brocken Inaglory(Wikimedia)
San Francisco Summer
Photo: Brocken Inaglory(Wikimedia)

There is a well known saying attributed to Mark Twain that says “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” It sounds like something he might say and if you visit San Francisco one can be astounded how the weather can go from warm and mild to cold and breezy. Except Mark Twain never wrote it. He could have said it and someone wrote it down. People have searched through his writings, public and private, and cannot find he ever said it. He does seem to allude to it at one point when asked about a cold winter, which he replied “last summer” which may refer to San Francisco. How and where it originated is a mystery. Someone might have guessed he thought it and wrote it down and then got repeated.
Source: And Never the Twain Shall Tweet (