Tuesday, August 30, 2005

More on Airships

This is a diagram of an airship executing a "cross," that is, a turn that moves across the direction of the wind. The short black lines are the four sails: a spritz'l afore, a mizzen astern, and two lateral mainsails, designated as leeward and windward or as starboard and larboard (port). In the diagrams below the larboard sail begins as the windward sail, but as the turn concludes it becomes the leeward sail.

Other important terms are open (said of a sail at a narrow angle to the wind) and closed (said of a sail approaching or at a right angle to the wind). An open sail produces more off-wind (away from the direction of the wind) force than a closed sail, although one must keep in mind that the mizzen sail, being the stern, when it has excess off-wind force, it produces an on-wind turn (toward the direction of the wind) in the vessel. A cross, incidentally, begins as an on-wind turn, and continues into an off-wind turn.

The red arrows indicate directions of force from each of the sails and for the turning of the whole vessel. The black arrows are movements of the sails, and the blue arrow in the lower left of each figure is the direction of the wind.

Fig. 1 Sails balanced, the ship moves straight ahead. The hub shouts "Ready to cross!" Mastmen spring to the mainsails.

Fig. 2 The hub shouts "Cross ho!" and the helmsman opens the mizzen, beginning an on-wind turn.

Fig. 3 As the turn continues, the mastmen haul the windward sail and ease the leeward sail, maintaining trim to the turning ship. The spritz'l is opened to the wind by the turning ship, so the helmsman closes the mizzen to prevent the turn from accelerating.

Fig. 4 As the ship comes to its new heading, the hub shouts, "Stay the course!" The mastmen secure the mainsails, and the helmsman opens the mizzen further to arrest the turn.

Fig. 5 The mastmen now spring to the spritz'l, and bring it into trim, and the helmsman trims the mizzen. The ship is on its new course. Sailors make fine adjustments to the set of all four sails, and then the mastmen have a break.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Writing News

I Failed. Despite my best efforts, I fell head-over-heals into airships.

Here is a friendly diagram of an airship making a cross-wind turn. The black lines are sails, the red lines are directions of force, and the blue arrows are the direction of the wind. An actual explanation of this diagram is forthcoming, but you will need a lexicon of sailing terms to understand it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Poopin' poopin' poopin'

Dateline: Barre
Tuesday, August 17.
Isabelle Helene Rouillard Wightman tinkles in the poddy for the first time. All that morning, she does not go in her diaper, and before noon, she has her first poop in the poddy.

It is important to have a nice collection of magazines by the poddy, as for grownups.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Isabelle Antics

Yesterday, for the first time, Isabelle watched a movie. Grandpa C. gave her a pile of Disney videotapes, so we put in Cinderella. She watched happily for a good while, chuckled at the antics of Cinderella's friends, the cat and the dog. Then, when Cinderella finally made it to the ball, and met the Prince, she looked up and said, "Read book."

So we did.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-wit Prince

So. The great question of the day is, did Snape do it? If you're not familiar with Harry Potter, skip this post. If you haven't yet read The Half-Blood Prince, and intend to, stop reading immediately, because the following contains MAJOR SPOILERS.

There are three principle questions I see:

  • Is Dumbledore dead?
  • Did Snape kill/attempt to kill him?
  • What about Harry and the Dark Side?
In speculating, we must first consider the obvious theory:

Snape Killed Dumbledore.

This theory has much to commend it. All witnesses agree. There is no obvious flaw in such an interpretation. It fits with the general trend of the book, in which Harry loses all his support people, and sets up his dramatic declaration in the end that he can hide no longer behind other people. He is on his own. An old and dull insight for a western youth coming of age, but a popular one.

Also, there is the Snape-as-Death-Eater matter. I find the idea of Snape-as-Reformed-Death-Eater-distrusted-by-everyone much more compelling, but, frankly, I was uneasy all along about Snape as good-at-heart. After all, Snape is cruel. He takes pleasure in hurting people. Now, James and Sirius were also cruel, tormenting Snape. Yet one does get the impression that, as they grew up, they might have turned away from such things. Particularly because Snape, as a grown man, is cruel to children in his power, as opposed to adolescents picking on each other. Don't get me wrong, adolescent harrassment is wrong--I was the victim of much, myself. But as the victim of such, I can say with sincerity that I do not believe that those picking on me were irredeamably evil. But Snape, knowing that Hermione was self-conscious about her appearance, when she was publically humiliated by Malfoy making her front teeth grow six inches, publically said he didn't think there was much change. That, to me, seemed to be a line crossed. So if Snape is, in the end, evil, that problem is laid to rest for me.

The principle problem with this formula is it makes Dumbledore into a dimwit. In face of all evidence of his cruelty to children, of his history as a Death-Eater, of the general distrust of others, Dumbledore insists that Snape is reformed. No plausible justification for Dumbledore's conviction is given, except that he said he was sorry when he was accomplice to the murders of James and Lily Potter. Even when he hears that Snape has made an Unbreakable Vow with Death-Eaters, he remains convinced--it appears he finds it utterably unthinkable that Snape would betray him. Harry's eternal distrust of Snape is proven right, his lust for vengeance is broadened, given more targets, it is a mess.

Moreover, Dumbledore's actions on the tower are idiotic. Having brought Harry to a place where he expects to find actively hostile Death-Eaters, because he wanted Harry's help, and he himself can barely stand, when a Death-Eater arrives, Dumbledore paralyzes the invisible Harry instead of disarming or restraining his opponent, letting Malfoy disarm Dumbledore. Right. I mean if Harry were bound hand and foot and balanced on a motorized wheelchair headed for the edge of the tower, then I might stop him before I worried about the Death-Eater, but if I invited him to help, and if he were already protected by invisibility, I would protect him by incapacitating the dangerous person.

More thoughts later...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Writing again. Back to a story I'd started on awhile back, a tale of airship traders. Resisting the challenge to wank on old sailing terminology, diagrams of airships, and economics of airship trade. How big is a barrel containing 36 gallons of liquid? (c. 10.5 cu. ft., or about 2'8" high and 1'6" in diameter.) How much does it weigh? (c. 288 lbs., if of waterlike density.) How much would an airship with a crew of 8 hauling 12 barrels of sweetmilk need to lift, exclusive of the weight of the ship itself? (c. 3.5 tons.)


Isabelle Antics

Monday Carrie was home alone with Isabelle and needed to use the bathroom. As parents of babies sometimes do, she left the door open, just in case. A moment later Isabelle comes toddling along, and pulls the door closed, saying, "Mommy need privacy."

A sense of decorum. Go girl!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Haven't written much lately. Busy with schoolwork, pursuing my Master of Education so I can teach Special Ed. For distraction I've been playing with a screenplay for a space opera trilogy. I've actually got about an hour of movie down, but I'm not sure if I like it yet. Would like to work on other inspirations. A short story out of a dream, a semi-short story about an airship. The novel. But between work, school, and Dad duties there isn't much time for serious work. Plus right now I'm reading Harry Potter. And trying to recover from a cold. Waaaa!