Author Archives: Paul Morrison

“Oh My God, It’s a Rubber Duck!”

Let’s reel the tape back to 2004. The European Space Agency (ESA) shot a rocket off to land the spaceship Rosetta on a comet. Rosetta has been cruising since then, swinging past Mars and a few other planets to line up so when this comet swings by the sun on November 11, 2014 she will actually attempt to land on it! Here is where it gets weird. As it gets closer Rosetta has sent back photos of the comet. They are calling it a “contact binary” which means two comets collided very slowly a few billion years ago and stuck.

But on closer inspection the first ESA scientist to look at the photos said, “Oh My God It’s a Rubber Duck!”

See for yourself.

spaceduck

A Rubber Duck the size of Cape Ann is slowly spinning through the universe ready to make a close encounter with our sun on November 11, 2014

I swear I am not making this up. Our own Rubber Duck is starting to act peculiar after I told her the news. I will be posting regular updates of the Close Encounter of a Rubber Duck as we get closer to the the actual contact on November 11. I will be interviewing EJ to find out if her higher beings have lost a bath toy.

 

[edit] Fun Fact. Rubber Duck rotates every 12.4 hours. So imagine a rock the size of Cape Ann (in diameter, dig the thing up and get a big ball), the head is Rockport, the body is Gloucester, the lips enclose Sandy Bay rotating in synch with the tides. Twice a day, jut like the tides the lips point towards earth and you can slip under the bridge without calling to raise it.

Blackburn Challenge This Saturday: July 19, 2014

blackburn

You can still race. Registration closes at midnight tomorrow (Tuesday July 15). Do you want to challenge yourself to something not quite ordinary? Jump in a craft powered only by the paddle or oar in your hands and head north from Gloucester High School down the Annisquam then start turning right until you went all the way around and pulled into Gloucester Harbor and aim for the Birdseye plant and the Greasy Pole Finish?

You get a T-Shirt proclaiming your completion as well as pulled pork, beer and a band at Pavilion Beach.

Rubber Duck will be on the halfway-point boat anchored in Straitsmouth Gap to record your number as you go by. Yell the number out since she has very small eyes and no ears.

Sign up now. No walk-ons. Or come out to a viewing area anywhere on the Cape. The times are similar to a marathon. Fast boats make it in two to three hours whereas working dories take five to six hours. Cheer them on.

Here is a handy map. You can check out the list of boats already registers. 245 boats of all kinds, over 370 paddlers or rowers. Click link on this page to see current list of registrants.

photo from official website

The start which is just north of the MBTA Railroad Bridge on the Annisquam

Blackburn-Challenge-011.jpg

The finish is the Greasy Pole after a circumnavigation of the entire island. WOOT!

Blackburn Challenge Registration is Open!!!

blackburn

Click the emblem to register. It is so easy. Do not be put off by the scary registration form. This is the year you do it. Paddle all the way around Cape Ann with 300 other boats. Rubber Duck has done it five years in a row and although there are amusing videos of Paul exiting his kayak the 23 miles was fun. The cold beer and the pulled pork sandwich at the end was awesome.

Since Rubber Duck now has the Blue Duck with a 225HP Suzuki on the transom she may go around the Cape this year a little quicker than the last five. Yes, she may be wimping out this year. Does anyone want to take the real Rubber Duck on their kayak?

WTD? Part 5: Where The Duck?

WTD

Where is the Rubber Duck?!? If no one gets it I will start leaving hints at 6PM.  Leave your guess in the comments and win a brand new GMG sticker and a hand blown Rubber Duck. In order to win, get specific. Judging is arbitrary and capricious. The winning answer will contain the most details. If you think someone nailed it, steal their answer, add a detail and pile on. Start with the state, … Is that a leaf fragment of quercus rubra with two needles from a pinus rigida? Clues!!

[edit1] OK, maybe shaved it down too much. David Tapley on Facebook says Falmouth. Nope.

Clue 1: Barnyard Animal

Clue 2: Oldtimers with good noses might get it first.

Clue 3: Anyone remember the pigs?

Clue 4: Who had pigs in Gloucester?

AP UPI BREAKING: SUBMARINE SQUALUS FOUND

75 years ago today:

AP BREAKING, MAY 23, AT 1930 PENACOOK REPORTS DETECTING A POSSIBLE TARGET WITH GRAPPLING HOOKS 243 FEET.

[UPDATE] AT 2145 THE USCG 409 ARRIVES ON SCENE, ON BOARD LIEUTENANT COMMANDER CHARLES B MOMSEM.

SEARCHLIGHTS DEPLOYED FROM SHIPS CIRCLING BUOY ATTACHED TO GRAPPLING HOOK FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT TO DETECT ANY SURVIVORS COMING TO THE SURFACE USING THE MOMSEM LUNG.

BREAKING NEWS 75 YEARS AGO TODAY: SQUALUS NOT REPORTING

AP BREAKING MAY 23, 1939: USN PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD REPORTS SS-192 SARGO CLASS USN SUBMARINE SQUALUS COMM OVERDUE AFTER TEST DIVE OFF ISLE OF SHOALS: LAST COMM POS. 07400 42°53′N 70°37′W 13.3 MILES DUE NORTH ROCKPORT MASSACHUSETTS: 57 USN SAILORS, 2 ELECTRIC BOAT PERSONNEL ONBOARD.

SS-191 SARGO CLASS USN SUBMARINE SCULPIN DIVERTED FROM SHAKEDOWN CRUISE TO LAST KNOWN POSITION. 1040 SEARCH GRID COMMENCING.

[UPDATE 1046] SS-191 SCULPIN REPORTING WATER DEPTH 243 FEET AT SEARCH GRID.

[UPDATE 1241] SS-191 SCULPIN REPORTS RED SMOKE PROCEEDING TO THAT LOCATION. USN PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD NOW REPORTS COMM FAILURE RULED OUT LIKELY SS-192 LOCATION 07400 42°53′N 70°37′W 243 FEET BELOW THE SURFACE. SMOKE BOMB IS MANUAL DEPLOYMENT INDICATING SURVIVORS.

[UPDATE 1305] SS-191 SCULPIN REPORTS RADIOTELEPHONE BUOY MARKING SS-192. COMM POSITIVE FOR TWO MINUTES UNTIL CLEATED LINE TO SS-191 SCULPIN IS PARTED IN ROLLING SEAS. 500 FOOT COMM CABLE FALLS TO THE BOTTOM. INFORMATION TRANSFER: SURVIVORS, NUMBER UNKNOWN.

[UPDATE 1320] USS PENACOOK, USS WENDANK, GLOUCESTER AND ROCKPORT FISHING VESSELS DIVERTED TO LAST KNOWN LOCATION.

Rubber Duck Dreaming of Future Gin & Tonics With Lime

Rubber Duck is trying to convince Joey to buy a lime tree. Fragrant blossoms that turn into limes that are the tastiest limes for Bombay Gin and Schweppes Tonic. Or skip the tonic, just gin on ice and a nice fact wedge of lime ripened on the tree.

Rubber Duck is trying to convince Joey to buy a lime tree. Fragrant blossoms that turn into limes that are the tastiest limes for Bombay Gin and Schweppes Tonic. Or skip the tonic, just gin on ice and a nice fact wedge of lime ripened on the tree.


After spending the winter in the dusty old shop the lime tree is so happy to be outside in the fresh air and sun. A blast of fertilizer a few weeks ago and it is already cranking out the flowers for this summer’s gin & tonics, and pad thai.

Rubber Duck Tech Tip: Lowrance Elite 7 HDI

Rubber Duck loves her gadgets and she wanted to know what was underneath her rubber butt. Rocks or maybe something fishy worth eating? So she just installed a Lowrance Elite 7 HDI in the Blue Duck.

wheelerpoint2

Driving SSW down the Annisquam River past Wheeler Point. Water Depth 23 feet, Water Temp 45.3F, speed 5.1 knots.

Price point in the mid range for a depth gauge, fish finder, Chart and GPS display. In 2014 it is amazing what these things can do for short money. Double the price and you can get side scan which will show inside the wheel house of the sunken wreck in 200 feet of water. Maybe in a few years we trade up.

So what does this unit do? In the display from left to right. First the overlay numbers gives 23 feet of water under the boat, the river is 45.3 F temp at the transducer mounted on the transom, and Blue Duck is putting along at 5.1 knots. The left most screen shows the track moving south past Wheeler Point. I haven’t loaded the Navionics “Gold” charts which will will give even higher chart resolution. The base map is pretty good though. All 53 green and red channel markers on the river are there if I forget how to stay in a channel. The middle screen is the “Fish Finder” sonar which in deeper water might show some fish “arches” when it sees an air bladder of a fish. The rightmost panel shows “Down Scan” sonar which displays a pretty remarkable view of the bottom. In the current view there is a bump in the bottom as we travelled from 20 to 25 feet deep. One can waypoint mark that bump by just moving the cursor back to the bump. Then by driving back and forth the bump is still there! It will be interesting to see how it displays a feature in 200 feet of water.

All in all a nice unit. It is dead simple to switch screens to all chart, or split two of the views. Disconnects easily for safe keeping. I spent the winter looking at the myriad possibilities and settled on this one for ease of use and features. This model has been out over a year so the bugs are all squashed and the software is version 3.0 (I hate version 1.00 in any software.) The real compass on the console still works and the paper charts are within reach but I might be able to retire the sextant and throw away the Loran C charts. (Do they even broadcast Loran anymore?)

-Paul Morrison and RD (RD will hire out to string transducer wire. She thought it was fun.)

Mikey Wins Plastic Head on Small Animal Photo Contest!

Mandy Leone Moffett on behalf of her son Mikey submitted three photos of “Squirrel With Plastic Horse Head”.

Contest rules here.

hungry squirrel acting like a horse's patoity

That is an actual Cape Ann Grey Squirrel wearing a plastic horse head. No details but I have a feeling there is some Gloucester Market Basket Jiff Peanut Butter inside that squirrel head.

sq2

Maybe some peanuts over here.

sq3

Smuckers Grape jam would be nice. With a name like Smuckers, it’s got to be good for a squirrel.

Contest rules state that entries had to be photographed in March and sent in on April 1st. So Mikey wins first second and third place. That makes three Rubber Ducks which Mikey can pick up down at Joey’s Dock or at the next GMG Mug Up.

If there are any late entries there might be consolation prizes.

Well played Mikey, well played.

Seasonal Opening Part III: Rubber Duck filling out her dance card

As you’re pumping out the basement of your restaurant today, washing the lobster bibs, and shining up the nutcrackers make sure you refresh your website and Facebook page. Better yet, send an invite for opening day to all the people who really “liked” you.

Top Dog with a bit a snow

They shoveled out the entrance. Come on down!

Top Dog of Rockport opened yesterday. Hot Chihuahua in the rain?
Red Sox Opening Day in Baltimore Monday March 31.
Topside Grill Tuesday April 1.
Lobster Pool in Folly Cove: Friday, April 4 then weekends rest of April
Red Sox Home Opener next Friday April 5.
Captain Carlos Thursday April 10. Their COUNTDOWN on the right is just weird.
The Rudder Thursday April 10 5 PM
Lobstaland Friday April 11.
Goose Cove Gardens two weeks April 12.
Cape Ann Wale Watch first trip: Saturday, 1:30 PM April 19
Marshall’s Farmstand the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend May 23. Get a farmer Bob card and save.
The Cupboard, around the same time as Marshall’s.
First GMG MugUp at the Madfish Pier. EJ?

More Spinning

Faster Fido Faster!

If you see me on a beach this weekend with a stick, an iPhone, and my dog Stella, it will be because I am trying to replicate this gif. I may even attach Rubber Duck to the end of the stick but I might have to wrap the end with some ham or roast beef. If Stella does not cooperate I will then attach Cheetos and try to get some Homies in on the act. If you think you can do better, go for it. Nichole could go out on the Blackburn Rotary and circle a few times but she should let a passenger handle the stick and meat products. If you have read this whole thing the dog has gone around at least six times. Are you dizzy yet? Doesn’t it look like Good Harbor Beach? I promise to pick up after my dog. -Paul Morrison and Rubber Duck

 

Woods Hole Pulls Ahead in Social Media

Just received my invite to the Opening of the Landfall in Woods Hole on April 4th. CLICK. now before you call me a traitor to Cape Ann, let me explain. I grew up in Woods Hole so when I am bored I “Like” the places there in Facebook. Same with Gloucester and Rockport.

So my question to the places opening on Cape Ann in the next few weeks, WHERE IS MY INVITE?? Donnie Estes and the Estes family have done an amazing job over the years making the Landfall the place to be on opening night in Woods Hole. It’s the start of the season.  The starting gun for the Knockabouts is just around the corner.

Come on Cape Ann restaurants, I have liked your pages, now send the invites out. If you still have “Thanks for a Great Season, See you in the Spring” on your website and social media I guess you are going for the semi-soft opening, and you don’t really want the place packed.

landfall

If you don’t like semi-soft, email Joey and he will show you how to stiffen things up. It’s easy.

Seasonal Openings 2014; Part I

I got all tingly just typing that. “Seasonal Openings“. OMG these polar vortexes can kiss my ass this winter is almost over. The forsythia will bloom and next week you can scrape some hard ground and plant some peas on Saint Patrick’s because, well just because. And it’s lucky.

Seasonal Openings! BearskinNeck.net posted on Facebook this morning this photo:bluelobster

Rubber Duck will be visiting Blue Lobster Grille for the first time on Sunday. Dock Square in Rockport. It used to be the Greenery which used to be the only place you could get WiFi in Rockport back in 2008. ( I drove over there and parked out front to read my email on my laptop in the morning.)

Rubber Duck QuickTips to Restaurants on the island: Send in your opening dates. Part II Seasonal Openings will be sent out within a couple of weeks announcing all of the April Fools Day openings. Another quicktip: Update your websites! I do not have a link here to the lovely Blue Lobster Grille website because it still says, “Closed For The Season, Thank you for a wonderful season.  See you in the spring!”. What?  They are not alone. I could list dozens of websites that still say that. Even if you aren’t open yet people are dying for a sign of spring. Post the date you are opening in BIG LETTERS IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR FRONT PAGE! On your website, your facebook page, your forehead. It’s Marketing 101, gin up interest, post entries on your facebook page with a countdown or a sign. I need a sign.

Go check out the Lobsta Land Facebook Page. That’s what I’m talking about.

It is 2014. Even Grandma uses the google, the Facebook, to find a place to eat.

Places to eat on Cape Ann

Quarrying Walking So-So Today

A test walk on some quarry trails. Right now most trails are 60% covered with lumpy hard ice especially where feet have walked through it and it has a light coating of new snow. So unless you walk like a constipated penguin or you are wearing Korkers you may be sitting on your ass.

quarry22

The frozen waterfalls are about a 3 on a scale of one to ten. Pretty cool and maybe if you got them in a nice morning light but right now so-so. In a week or so the trails will be impassable mud. A new layer of snow to ski on or another polar vortex would liven them up but who wants that? I might wait until there is witch hazel blooming. In fact there is some witch hazel blooming in the backyard and the forsythia I cut last week is blooming like crazy in the kitchen!

It would be jumping the gun to cut the wrap off the boat but a few weeks more and who knows? I still plan on planting  peas on Saint Patrick’s even if I have to shovel snow. As traditional as bootin’ green beer!

Send in your April 1 Restaurant openings. Publishing them is the only way to drive the evil polar vortex away.

Rubber Duck Quick Tip: Macintosh Photos

Now that even PCMag has selected the Apple Macintosh Operating System as Editor’s Choice, best OS for desktop and laptop the questions about how I do stuff on the Mac is increasing. But I am the worst person to ask. I’ve been using Macs since 1984 so my brain is stuck using methods from all the older programs with all the glitches and work arounds that I keep on using because my brain can’t handle new.

So when someone asks me how to manipulate a photo, I run through my list. iPhoto to resize, change color, Pixelmator to erase background, Photoshop when I want to tilt or animate. But then a Mac Group I belong to points out that most all of that can be done using “Preview”.

Is this how you find out what makes me tick Homie?

Rubber Duck and Homie on their Honeymoon. It went downhill after that.

What? Preview, the tiny built in Mac program that fires up when you double-click on a photo? I thought you could only … Preview a photo. But no, with MacOS X 10.9.2 Mavericks, Preview has added even more easy tricks. 99% of what I want to do with a photo can be done in Preview. I just need to fire it up and look at the menu, “Tools” especially.

Look at all the stuff you can do without actually running a big photo program! Adjust the color and tint, get Info on size, crop to your hearts content and it even tells you while doing so how many pixels so cropping to that 81×81 sized avatar is now simple. “Export” to any file format and done. This touches on only a few tools and tricks inside Preview. Go double-click on a photo and check out every menu item. You might find like I did that you are wasting time using humongous programs and complicated tricks when the Newbie who just bought their first Mac yesterday is way ahead of you.

ps. The text bubbles I did in Preview too! I created the set-up seen here and used “Grab” in timed screen mode so that my crop was visible. Grab is another program that comes with your Mac. What an easy way to grab a Rubber Duck’s head and stick it on a squirrel’s body but that is another post entirely.

pps. One actual photo tip (if you’re still reading this) from an actual photographer That would not be me): when adjusting contrast, shadow, highlights, you can really mess a photo up. The trick to make it simple:

1) Turn saturation to zero, leftmost. That turns off color.

2) Now go ahead with contrast, exposure, shadow, highlights to get the photo to pop in Black and White.

3) Now go back to saturation and bring color back up, then check the tint.  Works for me because otherwise I have no idea what I’m doing and my duck ends up orange with red lipstick applied by Picasso.

can you see her?

Still Life With Rubber Duck

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