Category Archives: Titanic 2012

Titanic Musings

*As the centennial of Titanic’s demise approaches, the news is full of memorabilia being auctioned off, various events, and all kinds of large and small things being done. For instance a Hampshire street is being named for Captain Rostron, the captain of the Carpathia that responded to Titanic’s distress call. A housing development, Rostron Close, was named in his honor. (Source:  Street Named After Carpathia’s Captain Arthur H Rostron, BBC News, 25 Nov 2011,)

*Every association is being mined for the centennial. For years a certain soap that was used on the ship mentions that in advertising. Now a cutlery company is doing the same thing. Arthur Price supplied cutlery to White Star back in 1912. They issuing an updated version that was used by first class passengers. The Titanic centennial cutlery will be a complete set that includes teaspoons and butter knives. The White Star logo appears on each piece. (Source:  Midland Firm Which Supplied Titanic’s Cutlery Still Going Strong ,The Birmingham Post, 25 Nov 2011, )

*Father Browne captured the only photos of Titanic at sea. An avid photographer, his collected works show facets of life back then. A new edition of his Titanic photos will be coming out soon. It will probably have updated details of his life, perhaps introductions from noted Titanic historians or enthusiasts. No date was given for it coming out so look out it in 2012. (Source:Titanic’s Final Photographs By Father Frank Browne , BBC News, 23 Nov 2011)

*The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has gotten tough about nonprofits filing their required reports. They sent out letters warning that failure to file will result in their nonprofit status being revoked. Over the years the IRS has let it slide but now many small nonprofits and churches are getting hit. Back in October the Marine Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts had its nonprofit status revoked for not filing required paperwork. When this was reported, it caused a minor stir and lots of questions as to why it happened. The local assessor was contacted and said the change in status meant property taxes would have to assessed.

The museum houses many maritime exhibits including a Titanic replica from the 1953 movie starring Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck. The replica was provided by the Titanic Historical Society in 1986 that stipulated that the Marine Museum would keep it in good shape. The historical society reserved the right to take it back if they failed to live up to the agreement. Ed Kamuda learned of the IRS revocation and probably read the news articles that raised questions about how the museum was being run. So he wrote a letter to the city outlining his concern about the museum closing and the Titanic replica. Recent news reports indicate that the accountant is getting all the paperwork in order. Yet something is very wrong here. One does not ignore letters from Internal Revenue demanding you file required paperwork or lose nonprofit status.  The IRS is not posturing, they usually intend to do what they say.

Memo to Ed Kamuda: Consider putting the Titanic replica elsewhere.
(Source: Titanic Society Worried That Replica At Marine Museum Could Fall By Wayside, Fall River Herald News, 21 Nov 2011)

*Caltrain Woes (ongoing)
-About two months ago Clipper card machines were added to the Fourth & King Station in San Francisco. And then they sat there for that same amount of time with a yellow sticker across from them. Well apparently they finally got them powered up but not much else. Meanwhile the pigeons have something shiny to sit on.

-There was a major problem with the Jerrold Bridge project a month ago that got barely reported in the press. They were replacing an antiquated bridge in San Francisco with a new steel one. It was gong to be done overnight so that train traffic on Saturday morning would run. Something went amiss though and when I arrived in Millbrae that morning, no trains were running into San Francisco. So everyone had to take BART. Supposedly we to be given free BART tickets but no one offered me one. My return trip around noon found the San Francisco station shuttered and the station guy telling us to board a SamTrans bus for a trip Powell Street Bart. Again no BART ticket was handed out as the press person claimed it was. Trains began running the full circuit after 1:00pm

-The *temporary* San Bruno station has the feel of temporary. One Clipper card reader has been out of order for weeks, one of the electronic signs is also just about dead. They are still putting up fixings like a walkway. There are giant gasoline powered lights that light up the parking area. They constant rumble must be a joy to the residents. And on any given day parking is thrown into mess. There is a lot of parking (and a long way to walk to the station). But due to construction one side might be closed in the morning so everyone has to park on the other. And of course the dust. Lots of it as they tear up the old station. And occasionally a homeless person decides to make one of the passenger shelters or ticket areas a temporary home.

-Everyone who rides Caltrain hears the familiar refrain about it being a nonsmoking train, keep feet off seats, please talk quietly on cellphones etc. But of course the conductors can choose to ignore it. One Saturday afternoon a couple sitting across from me had their feet up on the seats and drinking adult beverages. The conductor walks in, goes by them and back again. Never tells them to take their feet off. What happens when the train is full of boisterous people heading to a game? Conductors tend to avoid walking through the cars unless there is a real reason (they do an initial walk through and may check tickets but then stick to the first car for remainder of trip). What they miss is cars turned into party zones and other things they would prefer not to see. Some conductors seem grumpy and even mad about having to be there. Others seem to just want to sit down and have a chat with each other. Now most conductors I have met are decent and do their jobs well. But those few grumps and lazy ones are the ones that everyone notices (and tries to avoid if possible).

-Southbound 284 hit a snag in San Francisco the other night. When departure time came, the doors were closed and then we sat there. A problem with the signal we were told. Looking out the window, I saw the 6:33 head out which was not good news. Normally we wait at Bayshore for that train to pass. Eventually the conductor came on the intercom and told us the signal was out of order, this train was out of service, and for us to de-train and go to track 10. Once again a train defeated by a simple but malfunctioning piece of equipment.

-Rate increases are coming according to Holier Than You Blog . An upcoming Joint Powers Board (the wizards that oversee Caltrain) meeting has on its agenda a fare increase but hidden within “tariff changes.” According to the document, a public meeting will include discussing elimination 8-ride tickets, increasing the cost of paper one way tickets, day passes, and zone upgrades, and increasing the Go Pass price. That means if you use anything other than Clipper, you pay more. Caltrain has been doing well lately with increased passengers and revenue, which is why they are keeping talk of fare increases quiet for the moment. 8-ride tickets though make little sense these days. They ought to eliminate them and give everyone who uses Clipper a discount. It is more economic that way for people who travel more than 8-rides and less than a full month. If they want to make more money, bring back the old parlor car and sell coffee and snacks.

-Although unrelated it is sort of Caltrain news. When the N-Judah stopped running out to Caltrain on weekdays, there were howls of protest from commuters forced to take the 1 car T-Third that was slow (it was a J-Church back then, now K-Ingelside). It got so loud Mayor Newsom got into the act and the N line returned running to Caltrain on weekdays. Then they decided to shut it off on weekends saying not enough passengers used it. Fair enough but what the never factored in was all those many special events (including sports games) that brought many into a city on the weekends. Events at AT&T Park are easy to deal with since Caltrain passengers just walk down the street and they can put on extra trains out to the ballpark. But what about events further away like in Golden Gate Park , the Presidio, or the Ferry Building?The 10, 30, 45, and 47 all serve Caltrain but none go near the Embarcadero. For that you can take the T and at Fourth & King became very packed. The other bus lines can take you to Market Street where you can transfer to other lines but means also more people packing into those buses. Over at the N line stop right across from Caltrain, a sign hung on a chain (often not drawn across so people mistakenly walked up to the platform) told people the line did not operate on weekends or holidays.

My guess is that there were complaints made about the lack of transit on weekends. The T and the buses simply could not handle the extra capacity. I noticed the N running out one weekend and presumed it was for the Cal game at AT&T park. It turns out though it was a trial run to restore the N weekend service. It happened without any major notice except on the Muni updates one weekend. It said simply the N was running on weekends again to Caltrain. That is good news because now you can get to the Embarcadero much easier and the two car N line can absorb a lot more passengers than the T. Too bad it took a lot of frustration and headaches to make the wizards at SFMTA figure that one out.

Titanic News For 6 Nov 2011

1. Birmingham’s Forgotten Industrial Pioneer Who Died On The Titanic (4 Nov 2011, The Birmingham Post)
His contribution to industry in Birmingham was as significant and compelling as the likes of Matthew Boulton and George Cadbury, yet few are familiar with the name William Hipkins. As managing director, William Edward Hipkins transformed W&T Avery Limited from a burgeoning maker of scales into the world’s largest manufacturer of weighing machines.

2. Red Roses For Titanic Hero Musician (4 Nov 2011, Dumfries and Galloway Standard)
Born and raised in Dumfries, before joining the ill-fated band of musicians on the White Star Ocean liner, the body of 21-year-old Jock was recovered from the waters of the Northern Atlantic by the MacKay Bennett shortly after the Titanic sank. His unidentified body was buried in May of that year at Fairview Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia. The story of her great-uncle has inspired her to write a book on his life entitled The First Violin and a cookbook presenting a selection of Titanic recipes called Dinner is Served. Since publishing the two books, Yvonne has attracted a lot of interest from far and wide.

3. Pensioners Tell Of Pride Over Titanic Display (3 Nov 2011, Belfast Newsletter)
The display put together by 15 people was inspired by personal memories and a trip to ‘TITANICa’ at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum’s — an exhibition which opened earlier this year to mark the centenary of the launch of the ship. As part of the creative process, the pensioners explored the history of Edwardian Belfast, the shipbuilding industry in Belfast and the on-board lifestyle of passengers who travelled on the Titanic.

4. West Valley Man Crafts Models For Centennial Of Titanic’s Sinking (3 Nov 2011, Arizona Republic)
Jeff Alderman took a boyhood hobby of building car and airplane models and turned it into a business: Grand Prix Reproductions. Now, Alderman, 53, is a professional model builder who constructs reproductions covering a broad spectrum of subjects ranging from architectural models of houses and landscaping to Boeing 747s to ships. His current project is crafting two ships for the Titanic Historical Society Museum in Indian Orchard, Mass.

5. Titanic Menu Tasting Underway Ahead Of Centenary Event In Stoke-On-Trent (3 Nov 2011, StaffsLive)
The three day festival, which is being planned by The Lord Mayor’s Office in Stoke-on-Trent and Titanic Brewery, will include a dinner showcasing Edwardian food from the ship’s original first class menu. Catering company Jenkinsons are creating the meal and director Jon Collier admitted originality was key. “Hotels and others have done the Titanic menu before but not like this – they always change it to suit them,” he said. “Ours is as close to the original menu as you can get.”

Belfast Titanic Quarter Update

Belfast is planning a new rapid transit system that will not only handle tourists to the Titanic Quarter but the needs of the city as well.

One item on the table is bringing back the bendy-bus. Called an articulated bus in the U.S., it is essentially two buses put together with a flexible middle. This allows it to make turns and get around road hazards more easily. They are tricky to run and London phased them out some years ago due to accidents and general dislike of them. Other cities did it as well in the U.K. and Northern Ireland. They were replaced with conventional and double-decker buses.

With Belfast wanting to have high speed buses arriving every five minutes, the bendy-buses are getting a second look. I have taken such buses in San Francisco. They are used on high density lines (the 30-Stockton) where you need such buses to handle the large numbers of people. On that route, the buses are electric so no worry about diesel fumes wafting around. And that line has to weave its way through Chinatown (where the majority of its passengers are heading for or leaving) where traffic is usually heavy during the day.

Buses, whether they are conventional or electric, are a more flexible alternative than light rail. Light rail is very expensive and limits their use to where the rails are laid. When the tourists arrive in 2012, they will need a system that is easy and convenient to use. Perhaps the bendy-bus will be part of it.

Belfast Telegraph, The Possible Reintroduction Of New ‘Bendy-Buses’ Could Be Part Of The Plans For A £150M Rapid Transit System For Belfast, 13 October 2011

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Teaching Titanic

The UK Press Association is reporting that Queen’s University in Belfast will be back to schoolholding a special lecture series on Titanic. It is being offered as part of the open learning program for part time students. The lecture series, The Titanic Story: History and Legacy, will be at the Ulster Folk and Transport museum. Dr Tess Maginess, the open learning coordinator at Queen’s School of Education:

“Our courses usually take place one day or evening every week and are ideal for anyone who wants to pursue a new hobby, learn more about a topic in which they have a particular interest, or advance their personal development. We have many courses running in centres across Northern Ireland.”

Titanic is a major theme for Belfast as it prepares for 2012, when the centenary will be observed. Such classes are being taught in many places because interest is so high. It is heartwarming, for instance, to learn that grade school students study Titanic as part of special projects. Sometimes it has real results like trying to get the statue of Jack Phillips restored and put into a place of honor.

Source: The Press Association (UK), University Offers Titanic Course, 30 Aug 2011

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Titanic Memorial Cruises Bothers The Guardian

Disaster tourism. The Guardian  believes the cruise tours planned next year to commemorate Titanic’s sinking fall into this category. These tours are following Titanic’s route in 1912 to where it all ended in the mid-Atlantic. It is hard to say what offends the newspaper most, the tours themselves or that people are actually paying big dollars. Considering their criticism is included with other odd and strange tours, I am leaning to the second. Today the cruise business is no longer about transporting passengers as in 1912 but essentially floating hotels taking passengers to interesting, even exotic destinations.

I understand why many are upset with such tours. But really is it that different from people who travel to famous battle sites, meet with distinguished lecturers and historians, and then have meals? The only difference I see is that people are aboard a ship where they will likely have Titanic themed events and lectures, movies, meals like those served aboard Titanic, and likely a memorial service for those that perished. Of course being a cruise ship of today it will have the latest safety features, a benefit of the very tragedy they are aboard to commemorate.

Belfast is using Titanic 2012 to show the world the city is worth more than battles between Catholics and Protestants. They are busy making things ready for the many tourists coming to see where Titanic was built. For Belfast the Titanic legacy has been mixed. They did not want to talk about it much believing that it tainted them. Much of Titanic was handmade by craftsman who took pride in their work. Its sinking was a terrible blow to all those who had made the dream come true. Yet they ought not to be ashamed. Titanic was a magnificent ship built by workers in Belfast. Its sinking was a terrible catastrophe but ought not to take away the fine work done to build her.

Critics see the cruises as bad since they commercialize the catastrophe. Except that this has been going on ever since 1912 from books, to movies, to exhibits, and feature movies. You can split hairs as to what was done for the right and wrong reasons, but lots of people have made money from Titanic. James Cameron made buckets of money for himself and the studio by commercializing the catastrophe (albeit with a fictional story) with his movie. The movie was spectacular and probably the most close in depicting how the ship looked ever done on screen. Of course now there is a television miniseries coming next year. What will the critics say-a cynical cashing in on Titanic or the retelling of a well known story?

The memorial cruises are no more and no less that what has gone on before. People are free, unless it has changed, to spend money as they see fit. If they want to take a Titanic Memorial Cruise, get a sense of what it was like in 1912, and get dressed up for it, that is their decision. Many will go to Belfast to connect with Titanic, soak up the sights, and get a taste of Ireland as well.

The Guardian notes many other strange and oddball places for people to stay at:
*A comfortable place that requires you to remove shoes upon entry (barefoot, socks, or slippers only)

*A hotel that imposes a Day of Silence on its guests.

*And the best of all-camping with pigs. Not just staying nearby but actually sleeping with them in the pig houses (fresh straw included) so you really get up close and personal with your future ham, bacon, and sausage while still on the hoof.  Of course those who are religiously averse to pigs (or vegans) ought to stay away.

I wonder what James Herriot would think of that. 🙂

The Guardian,Would You Go On This Holiday?, 20 Aug 2011

International Maritime Organization Dedicates 2012 World Maritime Day To Titanic Victims

Stop the presses! An official communique, actually a press release, announces that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has endorsed a proposal by its Secretary-General to dedicate 2012 World Maritime Day to Titanic victims. The reason, the news report says, is “that the time had come for the organisation to return to its “roots” of identifying with safety of life at sea.” Which makes one wonder how far they have strayed from their supposed mission of safety at sea. Until this press release, I never heard of IMO and I doubt many have.

So what is going on here? Is it merely a way to acknowledge a terrible loss at sea in 1912 and the lessons learned from it? IMO plans to “examine whether the lessons drawn from among the most costly accidents of the last 100 years had been learnt to the full.” The next line says it all:

“The organisation will also identify the most contributory factors in the quest for ever-enhanced safety in shipping.”

Written like a true bureaucrat! You might conclude they will put out brochures and other informational media as to the many safety innovations over the years. More lifeboats, 24 hour radio, life vests, satellite transponders. All of that true. Perhaps they just want to hop on board the Titanic bandwagon in 2012 like everybody else is doing. Except they were not around in 1912. Nor does the IMO, as far as I know, have any participation in the International Ice Patrol. Since the major maritime nations already have mechanisms in place (regulations and oversight agencies) that deal with shipping, the IMO probably does not have much to do. So it probably comes up with nifty reports on dealing with many maritime problems and perhaps useful in meditating the occasional spat between shippers and maritime authorities. I suspect though they have been working on other areas outside of their framework

In case your wondering what the 2011 IMO day was, the theme was “Piracy: Orchestrating the Response.” Well the old way still works. You track down the pirates, damage or sink their crafts, hinder their ability to operate, and execute the worst of the lot and imprison the rest.

Nigerian Observer News, IMO Dedicates World Maritime Day To Victims Of Titanic Accident, 6 Jul 2011

Titanic Fatigue?

A fascinating discussion took place on my list recently concerning whether or not many were still interested in Titanic. Postings have become fewer in recent years but not due to lack of interest but rather disinterest in all the babble about Titanic. Some point to Cameron’s Titanic as when it shifted from a serious study to something akin to entertainment. Then there were the numerous books, documentaries, exhibitions, and even tacky Titanic items put on sale. For many old timers, it simply became too much. They stuck with visiting with other Titanic enthusiasts, going to special events, and doing their own research.

This does not mean interest in Titanic has ended, just shifted into another mode. Perhaps this is the normal way of things. Most of us drawn to Titanic can remember the exact moment when it became important. Perhaps it was watching A Night To Remember, hearing someone talk about it, seeing a documentary, or reading a book. It led us to explore the subject further. In the process we learned lots of interesting things that kept us interested. The Titanic story comes close to the Greek meaning of tragedy. The word is much abused today but simply means that the sad events that occur would have been prevented had things been done differently by the central character. And Titanic, as Walter Lord notes, has so many What-If’s that haunt you.

The Titanic community was split by salvage. Ballard and many others did not believe salvage ought to be done arguing the wreck was a grave. Some survivors, like Eva Hart, agreed with it. The other side to the argument is that Titanic had a story to tell from all the things left on the ocean floor. Heated exchanges occurred and Internet flame wars resulted. Unfounded accusations were made and friendships ruined. Today the issue is less vitriolic but no less passionate. Today many can see the traveling Titanic exhibitions that show to people what life was like on the ship. One cannot help but be moved by seeing artifacts from the ship.

Recently San Francisco had its own anniversary of a catastrophe: the great earthquake of 1906 on April 18. Like Titanic it has it own legion of people who study it. Nearly all those who survived are gone now, the few that remain are over 100 years old. And like Titanic, it had its heroes and villains. The earthquake was far more destructive than was led to believe, and those most hardest hit were those were people who lived in cheap housing in an area (called South of Market) built on landfill. They were like Titanic steerage  and paid a terrible price on that day.

Fatigue? Well not really. Just a more mature development of a continuing exploration of Titanic. Sure we like some new books or interesting documentaries, but we have read a lot. Mostly we realize that Titanic has a story to tell. A sad and fascinating one. The latest Titanic thing, whatever that might be, is not going to wow us that much. The upcoming anniversary in 2012 is both a celebration of life and a remembrance of all those who perished on that very cold night in 1912. Anything else is just a distraction.

Cameron’s Titanic In 3D For Spring 2012

Well its official according to Cinematical. A 3D version of Cameron’s Titanic is set to be released in spring 2012 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of its sinking. I expect it will be shown somewhere, along with another great Titanic movie A Night To Remember on the same day Titanic went down. Of the two A Night To Remember is more historically accurate than Cameron’s treatment. And I am not particularly fond of 3D! This was a brief blip on the cinematical experience long ago. It failed because audiences tired of it and studios found it costly to produce. Besides those 3D glasses made you look silly. 🙂