Blue Skies

Today was a beautiful day to be on the ocean. Apart from the squally patches (of which there were several) it was a day of waves and whitecaps and sunshine.

I saw a school of flying fish for the first time since I set out on the Indian Ocean. First I noticed a storm petrel flapping its wings – an unusual sight, as they prefer to glide effortlessly, or to skim low over the waves, riding the cushion of air in front of a swell. Then I noticed a second petrel, and they were both flapping, and diving at the water. Suddenly about twenty flying fish took flight, their silver bodies gleaming. Three or four times they broke from the waves, covering twenty or thirty feet at a leap. Against the deep blue of the water they looked especially gorgeous.

Then they disappeared from sight, and the petrels were left to wheel around, which they did spectacularly, like two test pilots daring each other to ever greater feats of aerobatics. And I felt genuinely lucky to be here to witness their show.

My enjoyment of the day was enhanced by the book I finished and the book I started, which by accident rather than design complemented each other well. The book I finished was The Call of the Weird: Encounters with Survivalists, Porn Stars, Alien Killers, and Ike Turner by Louis Theroux, a British writer and documentary film maker. In it he revisits various American characters that had been the subjects of some documentaries about ten years previously – pimps, prostitutes, gangsta rappers, white supremacists, dodgy self help gurus and cultists. The second book was a novel by Jodi Picoult, called Change of Heart, about a convicted murderer on death row who appears to be the source of a number of miracles. The common thread between the two books? Beliefs, and why we choose the beliefs that we do. According to Theroux, humans are not so much interested in truth, as in choosing beliefs that make us feel good about ourselves. Very interesting….

I had another odd dream last night. I often have a dream in which I am about to take some important exams, and I am completely unprepared. This probably originates from a not dissimilar experience I had in real life as I was coming up to my law finals at Oxford, having spent far too much time on the river and in the beer cellar, and nowhere near enough in the law library (especially if we exclude the time spent falling asleep over case studies). But in last night’s variation, when I went panic-stricken to look for my files of notes to do some last-minute swotting, the files had “350” written on the front. Meaning? Is my subconscious panicking over climate change and 350ppm? ( Am I feeling guilty that I haven’t done enough and now it is too late? Luckily it was followed up with a happier dream about chocolate cake.

Other Stuff:

Angela Hey – I liked your husband’s advice: Don’t borrow worry from the future. My Auntie Mary used to have a little cream jug that had a similar motto on it: Never cloud today’s blue skies with tomorrow’s worries. Wise words indeed!

Claire in LA – we used “The Majestic Plastic Bag” video as part of our campaign for a plastic bag free Olympics. I thought it was tremendously well done – and would be even funnier if it wasn’t so heartbreakingly true.

John Kay – thank you for the classic hints for boat maintenance – very funny! Must have taken you ages to perfect it. Well worth the effort – a good laugh in the Purple Palace!

Cynthia – I’ve made a note to read What We Leave Behind – I haven’t read it, and it sounds very worthwhile. It is very true that in the natural world nothing really goes “to waste” – it all gets used up somehow – while landfill is just going to sit there for centuries to come. At best it will do nothing, and at worst it will contaminate land and water while belching methane into the air. Woody Allen said, ” I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality by not dying.” Unfortunately, plastic may succeed where Woody probably won’t.

Speaking of which… apologies to Terry Pratchett for implying that he had already shuffled off this mortal coil. I am pleased to hear that rumours of his death were much exaggerated – and interested to hear that just last week a documentary aired in which he considered just how he may choose to shuffle off this mortal coil. In the UK it is still illegal for a doctor (or anybody else) to assist someone who wants the freedom to choose the time and place of their own passing, so Terry P went to Europe to investigate the options. UncaDoug, I’d be interested in your views on this.

A quote on the subject of troubles, from the inimitable Dr Seuss:

I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead and some come from behind.
But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!

But, although amusing, I don’t think that one is especially helpful, big bats being of dubious legality in addressing problems of most types. So I will also provide an alternative bit of advice, sent to me by Roger Finch.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.
It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
Thank you, Roger.

Sponsored Miles: Diane Freeman, Chris Lynch, Jeremy Stuart, Susie Slanina – thank you for sponsoring a number of miles.


  • Sir Terry signed up with an outfit in Switzerland that do this sort of thing. However, you are not required to participate should you decide to stick around.

  • Roz!  As I was reading this latest news about you and about the flying fish and the birds and even your dreams, I was thinking how uplifting and joyous! Then I saw my name and became further interested!  Ha! Human nature at its weakest or finest??  Then I was reminded of the time my Brother-in-law (a missionary in India) got up in front of a croud and shouted, “Attention, attention, ……Oh how I love attention!”  LOL
    Appears your rowing is progressing nicely and although we all would love to know your ET from the destination, we better understand for your safety that we must not know your exact location.  🙂  Carry on safely Mate!!

  • From a distance, squinting poetically, those oars of yours make perfect bats.

    But I’ve brought a big bat. I’m all ready you see
    Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me.

    Great! Wishing more days like these!

    By the way, some schools of thought re: dreams… Suggest it may be a “garbage compactor” so to speak of of scenarios and futures that won’t happen, so the brain tosses it out through the dream. Maybe your dreams of being unprepared for a test are looking for a way out… strikes me as you are pretty prepared.

    We are all rooting for you Roz, some louder than others, but we are all here.

    Row Roz Row!

  • Roz, like Mr. Finch above, I read this happy blog with vicarious joy. Then my interest was piqued even further when I saw MY name at the bottom. 🙂 It’s beyond me how you are able to row an ocean AND write a beautiful daily blog. Blogs are hard! 😉

  • Hi Roz,

    I’m glad the ocean ponied up some sea life for you and the Mauve Machine is moving in the right direction. The Theroux’s theme statement isn’t that original. Indeed, everyone’s worldview is colored by their beliefs. If you need a demonstration, ask a Republican and a Democrat each this question: is the Emperor in Star Wars a liberal or a conservative and why? The awkward bit is that beliefs may be based on upbringing, schooling, religion, etc. but rarely derived entirely from them. A person is more likely to believe in something based on their self interest and sense of identity, cherry picking bits of the above to justify it. The Shadows ask: What do you want? The Vorlons ask: Who are you? (OK I just revealed how much a geek I am). A rare person will occasionally stop and try sort out just why they believe something and where the contradictions are. Rarer still is the person who successfully does so and finds beliefs true enough to serve them and others. In Christianity preachers used to rail against “Cafeteria Christians” who pick what to believe and what not to. Many it’s true are Fundamentalists who just want everyone adhere to dogma. But others want their flock to involve their minds as well as spirits, believing the resulting Christian will be significantly improved in the end. Some American Buddhists believe paying attention to the present moment enables a person to increasingly short circuit programmed responses based on irrational personal values. Instead they’ll respond as necessary to what is happening at that moment.


  • Hi Roz,

    According to the that font of wisdom, The Daily Mail, your dream relates to applying overly high standards to yourself:

    In case you were a little concerned, I would just like to add that I came across this article completely by chance online and I have not suddenly become an avid Daily Mail reader!

    Dream on…


  • Simplicity is often a matter of perspective. A minute-repeater pocket watch baffled me completely, but shortly thereafter I rebuilt a minute-repeater carriage clock which looked simple. Complexity can often be broken down to relatively simple components. There are exceptions but they seem to be of our own construction: Jurisprudence for example, which attempts to understand what mankind has created. Roz’s boat Sedna has become more complex as a whole since 2006 (and more since ’08 when last I saw her) but the separate components are not wholly integrated. My life is simple, but an acquaintance who works on computer and internet security systems thinks it more complex than hers.

  • Roz, glad you had a fun sunny day! Really enjoy your descriptions ;-DThanks for posting Roger’s quote, which I love: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.
 It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”  This is getting lots of LIKES on your Facebook pages ;-DAnd thanks for prompting me to respond to: “In the UK it is still illegal for a doctor (or anybody else) to assist someone who wants the freedom to choose the time and place of their own passing, so Terry P went to Europe to investigate the options.” Doubtless, you understand why I didn’t chime in before.In early February, the week of my father’s 94th birthday, he decided to stop the medications that were keeping him alive, and he also decided to fast.  Not having much appetite for weeks, it was easy for him to have a single bite of his dinner the night before his birthday. Although he was resolved to stick to it, he ate the lasagna, salad, my family’s traditional “Devil’s Dump” chocolate birthday cake, and ice cream — then he began his 2-week fast in ernest, and hospice administered only morphine and two other pain meds. It took two weeks for him to die, and I took time off from work to be there during his last days. That was the most intense “quality” time I ever spent with Dad, even though he was less “present” and less “conversant” each day. To die as soon as possible was his choice, and his caring, compassionate, loving doctor respected his wish to stop the meds that regulated his heart and staved off the effects of Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and prescribe morphine to mitigate the anxiety from the CHF symptoms. He stating that he did not recommend a “hunger strike.”  Dad was adamantly committed to his plan — he took only a couple bites of pudding half-way through the ordeal while he was still pretty alert — and because he was a life-long Boy Scout and Scout Leader, I periodically reminded him often the 10th point of the Boy Scout Law: “A scout is brave.”Whether it was the CHF or the fast that killed him is irrelevant, but even with the morphine, etc. the last four days were agonizing.  Dad was very brave to have made the decision, but unaware of the extended time that the body will continue to live even as he would be trapped, conscious, alert, thinking, cogent, waiting and totally immobile except to whisper, mouth single words silently, nod, and once motionlessly sob, pleading “When am I going to die?”, “I want to die!”, “Please …”  I immediately talked to the hospice nurse about giving Dad an “extra” dose of morphine.  Hospice doubled his dosage which seemed to let him “sleep” more during that last 36 hours. To be honest, I considered suffocating him with a pillow during the hour after his routine dose of morphine when he would doze off, but could not bring myself to do that. I felt as though I was letting him down, not being able to accelerate his death. There is no way to know whether the doubled dose relieved his anxiety or not, but I trust the hospice people to have done the right thing. He died the next night.As brief background, during the last year of Dad’s life, he talked about borrowing a gun from friends who might have had one, but none of them were alive — he had survived all of his friends. Since my mother’s death five years ago, he has been despondent. Exacerbated by the effects of arthritis and CHF that gradually sapped his strength and increased the pain in his grossly swollen legs and feet, he became confined to a motorized chair and eventually required 100% assist to transfer between his easy chair, his motorized chair, his bed and his restroom.  He was in constant pain and his medications were routinely increased.  The meds would cause him to fall asleep in his motorized chair and his arm would press on the control knob, and he drove his swollen feet into the night stand and the supports under his lifting LazyBoy.  In spite of his love for the great-grand-kids, he had no will to live.He was comfortable and happy with his decision, but the process was grueling at the end.  The doctor understood and was very helpful in explaining what would happen, and turned Dad over to Hospice.  I think it was humane and Dad did not suffer physical pain, only the pain of his anxiety of waking up alive, when he hoped he could die in his sleep NOW like my mother did (she suffered a stroke the morning of her 84th birthday, after waking to go to the restroom, reading the card Dad bought her, and going back to bed about 5am.  She never woke up.Thank you, Roz, for bringing up poignant topics.  Love you!

    • Roz, I met and spoke with Tim Ray’s parents this evening. They happen to be in Washington DC and learned serendipitously that one of Tim’s friends from Scripps and 80+ other members of the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) are also meeting this week to lobby 122 House Representatives, Senators and World Bank leaders. 

      His parents, Larry and Julie, addressed us and told us a little about Tim and their support of in his memory. It so happens that Tim was a member of CCL in the San Diego area, knew CCL founder Marshall Saunders, and would have been here for this CCL conference had he not passed away.  He was a participant at last year’s CCL conference.

      Marshall has dedicated this conference to Tim. This is the letter he wrote:

      Remembering Timothy Ray

      This conference is dedicated to Timothy Ray. I want to give you an idea of some of Tim’s accomplishments in a life too short.

      Early on, Timothy was an Eagle Scout, then a Naval Academy Graduate, then a third year PhD student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a triathlon champion, rock climber.  He was an explorer, an adventurer and a lover of life.

      During last year’s conference, Tim gave a presentation on climate denialists and how to debunk the claims they make.  The following day he met with five members of Congress.  One of our CCL members recalls Tim’s exchange with a member of Congress; he described that once he realized the problem of global warming was largely manmade, he felt compelled to work on solutions.  We grew to admire and love his profound sense of personal responsibility.

      It is appropriate that Tim’s wake was held at Scripps Institution of Oceanography on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean.  There I met his father who said to me, “I haven’t begun to realize the magnitude of our loss.  I want you to know that Tim was passionate about his work at CCL.”

      I am moved by Tim’s strength, his actions, his hope and his joy for life.  We cherish the time he shared with us.  To honor Timothy, let us rededicate ourselves to creating the political will for a stable climate and a livable world.

      Welcome and warm regards,
      Marshall Saunders
      Founder & President
      Citizens Climate Lobby

      Roz, I can feel the pain you must have felt, and I had no idea these emotions could well up for somebody I have never met.

      Cherish the memories of Tim, Roz.  I will cherish today.

      Rozlings, please visit

  • Regarding the quote from Roger Finch (Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.
It’s about learning to dance in the rain)…is it credited to him or someone else? That is a lesson I need to learn! Thanks for sharing it.

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