Monday, January 31, 2011

To break the silence a bit - I say BULLY!

Well we still can't discuss what's afoot here at NHS, you'll have to wait until we announce it, or we die trying to get it accomplished. Needless to say, I don't think you'll have too much longer to wait. But in the meantime, let's start something semi-useful and productive and maybe a little bit wry - let's talk about the upcoming 1812 Bicentennial.

I've been attending a meeting here and again about this, and I'm impressed by a Secretary of the Navy mandate to "make the Navy's history come alive" in response to a direction from the Secretary of Defense to "Utilize the forthcoming War of 1812 Bicentennial as a lever to jump start interest in naval history and heritage, …". That was an excellent start, if I say so myself.

But here's the rub - I've been in some of these planning meetings and I think I can safely say we are getting away from the fundamental missions a little. I think the CNO has some excellent plans, but I'm starting to become a little disappointed in the attempts farther down the trough. Don't get me wrong, I love beer tasting, but maybe that ought to be a sideshow peripheral activity at something more earnest?


One thing I want to specifically avoid during this season of commemoration is the Pearl Harbor effect. The Brits have been one of our most solid partners for more than a century now and I think it's important to remember the war, but more so the peace we achieved at its end and the long standing partnership astride the Atlantic. We've already been chatting with our sister organization across the pond - the Historical Maritime Society - to figure out how to work that spirit into what we do over the next several years.


In all the strides we are making now, I cannot but help to channel a bit of ol' TR. I served onboard the aircraft carrier named for him, and got a healthy dose of TR-cure-all on a daily basis. I have to say I think myself the better for it. Around that time the CO had a great TR quote he'd attach to the end of each email he sent his officers -

"The things that will destroy America are peace at any price, prosperity at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life."

I couldn't agree more - that's BULLY!

But right now as we work on this monstrous project of ours in the dark behind the scenes, I've been repeating this quote over and over again, to myself:

"It's not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out that the strong man stumbles, or that the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, for there is no effort without error and shortcoming. But he who actually strives to do the deeds, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in the worthy cause- who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be among those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Pardon the quote if something's off - yes I typed that from memory. That's more a testament to the great man than it is my memory, believe me.

Our team will keep on with the heavy lifting - and I'll be back to pass on good news as it materializes or possibly break the silence up a bit more. In the meantime - get back to work!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

It has begun!

Starting this morning with a brief meeting in Downtown Norfolk, I'm officially in high gear administration mode. With another meeting tomorrow in DC, the board meeting this weekend in the Outer Banks and a trip to Erie PA next week, I'm putting aside the hand tools and sawdust and moving into executive mode.
I have to say, this isn't my favorite place to be - after all the woodchips, they call to me. But its always exciting when you meet new contributors and work to bring people and organizations together. After all, as 501(c)3 charities isn't that what we're supposed to do?

This Organization is organized exclusively for educational purposes, including, for such proposes, the making of contributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code.

We're all supposed to work together - public trust and all that. I take this roll very seriously - I think I said that at least four times in my meeting this morning - and I have to say that in the current prevailing "every man for himself" non-profit environment it is refreshing to meet others who see this in the same way.


I have at least five emails recieved since yesterday inquiring about the board meeting and how to get there. Sorry folks, if you aren't already on the band wagon it is probably too late. Carpools are formed, rooms are booked up and space is limited. If there is anyone who feels left out I appologize but I'm simply too busy with everything to focus on making sure you're checking your NHS updates. I'll fill you in on the flip side. In the meantime, if you have any critical points you'd like to make please fire it off in an email and include a number where we can contact you during the meeting. If we discuss it, I'm sure someone will rise to support getting you on the phone to hear your opinions.


I probably won't be writing tomorrow, as my travel plans don't include typing while driving. But for those of you who are totally in the dark regarding what we're up to, check back on Monday for the synopsis and extended commentary. It should be an interesting week, to say the least.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How can you have your pudding if you don't eat your meat?

It has just come to my attention that many of the folks from Great Bridge back in December didn't know that the footage has started coming out. Wait. Did we not post this all over Facebook? and YouTube? and our Twitter feed? Well, maybe we're neglecting our Twitter feed. But still. Oh well. For those who STILL haven't seen it, here's the first installment:

Definately some fine work on the part of the marines there. I know you guys just like dressing up and playing badasses.. its okay. Sailors, likewise, did a great job. But I've covered this all before, go back to December and read all about it.


This week is proving to be meeting after meeting - and I love it! Suddenly I'm inundated with planning processes and conferences and meetings - all in the name of making 2011 our best season yet. Stand by for more as it becomes available.


We have our great grand Board of Directors meeting coming up this weekend. Not that its anything but a beach mansion in the Outer Banks (granted, it's January) filled with the NHS best and brightest talking about our most ambitious season ever. Should be some interesting posts to follow.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I can feel it coming in the air tonight...

Yeah that's right - Phil Collins. There are some classics that overcome their corniness in context. Okay, maybe that wasn't one of them.

The Board Meeting of Board Meetings is fast approaching. For anyone who still doesn't understand why we're going to the Outer Banks in January - think of a large luxurious beach mansion, the wide open spaces of the National Seashore, stockpiles of drinks and munchies, and all the most creative, industrious people you've ever put together in one place. Set them in relative isolation in that environment, and let them crack away at some of the most ambitious NHS projects ever. The result is sure to be one exciting 2011 season for NHS.

Remember, the meeting is open to anyone who wants to attend and share in our craziness. The more opinions, the better the result. And since our board normally communicates and conducts its business via email, these face-to-face meetings have become pretty rare in the last year.


Yesterday's fierce rant hasn't yet served its purpose - I don't think anyone actually read the entry. But nevertheless, inactivity frustrates me. Wherever you go to the source of a problem, you can be assured it is getting worse in the absence of activity. Just as ships and men rot in port, idle hands are the devil's playthings, - fill in your favorite saying here - , most initiatives wither and die with inactivity. The thing that bothers me about the Downtown Norfolk waterfront is that all of those non-profits - including Virginia - have vast numbers of volunteers ready to go, if someone would only lead them. But as it is, the inactivity keeps those otherwise ardent supporters at home, fighting off criticism on the internet.

Sad, really. When I walk around down there - and I know nothing has changed, nothing is growing. But to see assets - valuable assets - built in the name of public charity, all sitting idly, NOT accomplishing their mission, and not even trying to - it bothers me.


After all this discussion about inactivity, I'm sure there is someone who is going to chime in and complain that NHS has been rather inactive for the last month. But that assumption is incorrect. True, I've not been writing much, but that's because much of what I'd otherwise write about is up for consideration at the Board Meeting, and therefore out of bounds for the time being. We've got two hot ticket projects - including one GIANT project - in the works, and I'll be cranking out the blog entries as soon as everything has been decided. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stand by for heavy rolls as NHS comes about

Okay, you're all probably getting sick of this, but there's a lot going on and I can't say anything until our board meeting on the 22-23rd. What I can say is that if you're curious, you should go. And even if you can't - stay tuned to our website on the 24th for more information.


In the meantime, while I have to remain mute about everything, have a laugh:

Just didn't want everyone in the public thinking all deployment videos were as bad as the recent newsworthy clips from Enterprise.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Winter Doldrums

Right about now - the post holiday stupor - is what I consider to be my doldrums for the year. The weather outside isn't too bad right now, but that hasn't stopped me from using it as an excuse not to work on the boats. I find that I'd rather stay inside reading and eating, planning things, writing things, and generally keeping sedentary. Sad, yes, I know. I still PT - once a week - but I'm just not easily motivated to physical action right now.

Of course this will pass, and there's really nothing that DEMANDS my immediate attention. And I did spend every other hour shovelling snow right after Christmas (it never snows in Tidewater, does it Elmer?) to keep the boats and strucutres safe and sound. Laziness can be - on occassion, I suppose, in moderation, with proper supervision - a good thing. I just have to be careful not to let it last too long.


I've successfully turned over the duties of Web Administrator (yes, there will be no more back and forth follies yelling at myself wearing different hats) to Alex Lutz. Instead, I plan to focus on drawing connections from Lutz in Bruno (horrible movie, but it has its purpose I suppose) to our very own Lutz in Multi-Media. Although I know many of you don't get the humor there, trust me, you should be laughing. Oh well.

Alex has the complex job of heading up the virtual rennovations I just don't have time for, as well as bringing onboard a programmer or two. I look very much forward to seeing the product of her work when the new website launches just after our Board Meeting on the 23rd.


In case you're getting sick of having to wait until after our Board Meeting to find out precisely what it is we're up to, you could always take a drive down to Avon NC, have a lovely winter weekend in the Outer Banks, and find out then and there all the big things we're hatching. Just saying.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Whats up - aside from my weight?

So as I alluded to yesterday, all of the spaces at the Dockyard are now occupied with projects. Many of our followers would recognize Monomoys 1, 2 and 3, No. 1 in winter layup, Nos. 2 and 3 undergoing an extensive restoration. Those who hang out around the waterfront would readily notice the Bandit 15 - one of the small daysailers in our "dinghy" squadron. She's in for centerboard repairs.

But in the Lofting Bay we have another project that I got a jump on in the inclement weather at kept me - and continues to keep me - from work on our outdoor projects. That project brings us into the realm of miniatures, as it's a scale model of the US Sloop of War Hornet built in 1805. Anyone who has been at the Dockyard lately is laughing at my use of the term miniature - as the Hornet is being built in 1:12 scale - that's 1 inch to the foot - making the model's hull about 9 feet long and 30 inches wide. Overall, the model completely rigged will be 16 feet long and 12 feet tall. The model is a waterline form, meaning the only parts being built are those that would show above her waterline, so she can be placed on any flat surface. Oh, and sorry kids, but she's static display only.

The model is being assembled rapidly, with a finish goal at the end of February - so don't expect a work of art in modelmaking here. Despite the haste in assembling her, she'll no doubt be an interesting asset, joining some of our new programming and make the rounds of the region in the coming year as a static display. More about that program after our Board Meeting on the 23rd of this month. I promise there is a method to my madness.


In other news, Monomoys No. 2 and 3 have weathered the elements well so far, and our extended efforts at stabilization have actually caused both boats to regain some of their original shapes. Granted, we'll have more work to do to get them back into original shape when we start re-framing, but it is nice to see the 'auto correct' feature hard at work. We'll re-start the major overhaul efforts with keelson dissasembly and re-framing in March - we need the weather to cooperate for that. We have a bead on some seasoned timber for stems and sternposts, and it'll be ready for shaping around that time as well. No. 3 is currently expected to be ready for service in July 2011, while No. 2 might be a little while longer, as her repairs will likely be a bit more protracted.

Monomoy No. 1 has issues with deteriorating gunwales - which we assume are original to the boat. Replacing these will be difficult, as they are teak and formed to the boat without lamination - something that we aren't really prepared to do. I'll have a better look at them in the spring and have a better idea on a timeline to conduct the repairs. As they are, they're still serviceable so we'll use them as long as we can.


I've received several emails about the Board Meeting on the 22nd and 23rd. No, you don't have to be an NHS member to attend. Yes, there are free overnight accommodations. I'll start sending out the address for directions next week, but for your trip planning, use Avon NC - its a small town in the Outer Banks. I'm excited and looking forward to meeting several people there, as well as getting some good work done.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy 2011! Let's have a meeting!

Well, after a long and, if I do say so myself, well deserved hiatus, we're back in business. Of course this doesn't mean I wasn't working away in the Dockyard, it just means I haven't been telling you about it.

First things first. The Board of Directors has called a rare in person meeting on January 22-23 in Avon, NC (yes, that's the Outer Banks). The agenda is slammed and should be very interesting, with several new projects (including one HUGE new program) topping off an endless laundry list of housekeeping items. The meeting has been opened to anyone who wants to go, though only the Board members themselves will be voting. But there are many NHS and non-NHS types whose input is much appreciated, and you're most welcome at the proceedings. Send me an email if you want to go and need information and directions.


Next, the Lofting Bay is occupied by parts for one of the new programs. No, I won't go into detail but it's lots of fun to walk out and see all of our shops filled to capacity, with four boats in the yard under tents etc. Everything has been surviving the weather admirably, and with the exception of dealing with Snowmageddon 2010 (which wasn't all THAT bad) everything has been rather quiet so far. I anticipate starting up Wednesday night working sessions again soon, with the stipulation that all volunteers keep mum about the new material until the projects are made public. I'll put those notices out on Facebook - I don't think it'll be this week but it should happen next Wednesday.

SO, lots going on. But with limited time to write at the moment, I'll jump back on and outline the plan of attack for 2011 later tonight.