Fred Hansen, Winter, 2005
We've arrived a day early in order to get a passenger to hospital for
appendicitis. It seems he's going to be okay.
Costs are huge: the ship burns twice as much fuel at 26 knot than at
the usual 16. We will incur an extra day of dock charges. Since we are
early, today is supposed to be classes as usual. And yet the customs
guys want to process everybody. So most students do not get to see all
of today's Global Studies.
Internet is down. (11:30 AM)
Exercise: elliptical 2.25 mi in
Sweets: 8 units
Shipboard network is inaccessible. 1:30-...
network was available for a half hour this afternoon
spent afternoon talking to Rosano about the HosPoesy project
interviewed her for two more bios: Murray B and
wrote the one for Murray
I discovered that S computer has freecell and minesweeper. This was a
disaster; I wasted more than an hour. (Instead of napping.)
Tonight we have the mandatory logistical and consular preport for
Brazil. Speaker Heather, from the consulate, is kinda dumb. She keeps
talking about "youth" in a patronizing manner. "We need an entire
change in human consciousness." Yeah, right. "Each of us must become
responsible for the welfare of all humnkind." Do tell. Are my tax
dollars paying for this idealistic twit?
Read a book. Played computer games.
10:30 AM off to the Amazon. A bus took us through Salvador to the
airport. We had a guide just for that trip. The favellas surprised
me. They are not the scrap lumber contraptions of South Africa.
Each has brick walls and a roof, often of corrugated tin. There seems
no organization to their layout--just piled up on the hollside
whereever a little space was available. The northern part of Brazil,
our guide said, is not as well developed as the south. (Salvador is
quite north of Rio and Sao Paolo, though south of Brasalia, Manaus, and
We passed an overhead highway with signs saying it was the "Metro". But
the ramps didn't connect. When I asked the guide when it would be
finished, he said, "Last year." His hope is that theyh will finally
stop politicking about and finish it in three years or so. Public
transportation in the city is not good at all.
Yikes what a bad flight plan: five airports, four meals. Salvador to
Recife. Change planes.
Then two stops before arrival in Manaus. Then a bus ride and a long
boat ride across Rio Negro to the Lake Salvador Lodge. Arrived around
Our guide is Fabio, pronounced Fa-vee-oh. He free-lances for Brazil
Nuts (out tour operator) and also has his own travel/exhibition
management business in Manaus. He has lived there 20 years and gotten
none of the dreaded diseases like malaria or dengue fever.
Manaus was extremely wealthy in the early 1900s. It was the source of
rubber for the world. Then the British smuggled seeds out in hollow
fruit shells and established the rubber industry in Malasia. The big
party was over by the end of WWII. While it was on, some folks shipped
their laundry to Europe. It couldn't be done locally because the water
of the Rio Negro is acidic.
The water's acidity comes from long submerged plant matter. The Rio
Negro geology is much older than other parts of the Amazon basin and
has much sunken vegetation. It makes the water black, hence "Rio
Negro", the Black River. There are long white stripes of bubbles. These
are oxygen coming from cracks beneath the vegetation.
Now Manaus has some industry and lots of tourism. Uniquely, it is a
duty free port of embarkation for travel to other parts of Brazil.
Fabio wants Semester At Sea to run the vessel right up the Amazon to
Manaus. He claims it can be done in only two days, each way. But as it
is, there is not much slack in the SAS circumnavigation schedule.
There is a road to Manaus, but it goes only to Venezuela. And takes a
few days to drive. There is a natural gas pipeline being built to
Manaus. This will eventually provide fuel for the generators in some
Nice lodge. Main lodge (registration and eating area) is a long roofed
porch. It stands on a sand bar separating the river from Lake Salvador.
The lake is more or less 100 meters and extends back about 500 meters.
The sleeping areas are in four cabins around the lake. A ten minute
canoe ride took us to our cabin for the night. There were no
bugs to speak of, although the cabins did have screens and we were
advised to keep them shut. There are two frog sounds. The usual grump
and a chirping sought of thing.
AM. Nature hike in the jungle on the hillside behind our cabin. 3
hours. Very hot and sweaty. And very humid, so discarded clothes did
not dry until back aboard the ship.
The main point of the nature hike was the enormous biodiversity of the
Amazon basin. Favio pointed out many different types of trees and some
of their uses. Most interesting were the various strategies the trees
have evolved for managing damage from insects and fungus. The plants
also have a variety of strategies for pollination and distribution. Not
too many of them use flowers to attract insects. More of them use
the waters. Much of the shoreside forest is covered in water for up tom
half the year. There are 300,000 species of insects and still counting.
Not so many birds or large animals. Did cross several of the tracks
that capybaras use to go from home to the lake. A capybara is
essentially a 40 kilo rat. There are six foot earthworms that leave
scat the size of a baseball.
One problem with the rubber industry had been the impossibility of
having large plantations. The biodiversity of the Amazon basin is so
powerful that any monoculture is soon attack by some pathogen that
easily sweeps from plant to plant, wiping them all out. This was not a
problem in Malaysia
Afternoon. Boat ride to Picarituba village. I was expecting a fairly
primitive village. But the first thing we came to at the top of the hil
was the telephone kiosk; one of quite a few scattered about. There is a
large communications repeater tower for telephone service, cell phones,
radio, and television. All houses have electric power and the majority
have televisions. A barge delivers diesel to run the village generator.
The biggest and most modern building in town was the school. Students
were sitting about after school with bright shiny school books. There
were cars and a road to the county seat; it was a "mere" 170 km away.
Land ownership registration is possible, but does require one or more
trips to the county seat.
The main tourist attraction of Picarituba was an old abandoned
building. Our guide was Vera, but she had no English. The building is
more a complex of buildings around a courtyard. It was built to
house Italian immigrants in the rubber heyday, but they never came.
Then the building was by turns a school, a jail, and a leper colony.
None lasted long. Now the building would be torn down if anyone had any
use for the land it sits on. Not likely given the miles of available
jungle all around.
Later we fished for piranha and caught a half dozen between us. Then on
a searchlight cruise for Jacare: caiman and alligator. Saw eyes of a
couple, but they refused to be caught.
On flood swollen black river
Tested our patience.
As we cruised around with Fabio holding the searchlight, the
surrounding forest was reflected in the mirror smooth surface of the
river. I tried to write a haiku about the eerie journey, but no
punchline or meaning came to mind. The most interesting thing I could
come up with was the fact that the unreal reflection is closer to you
than the real trees. You have to cross the unreal--and pass the lurking
jacares--to get to the real world.
The chirping frogs finally identified themselves to me. They sound
exactly like halyards whipping against hollow aluminum masts in a yacht
basin. On a crisp, cold evening with clouds. There seemed to be a
pattern where one frog would instantly be answered by another. This
gave the echo effect that halyards have.
Finally dinner at 8:30 and on to sleep. It was hot and humid and I did
not sleep well.
Some more notes I found later:
¶ Having nothing better to do while travelling, I read some of the
readings for Global Studies. One interesting paper was Phillip Jenkins,
"The Next Christianity." His main thesis was the growth of
Christian-offshoot religions in the Southern Hemisphere. Especially,
there are a growing number of Catholics. The Southern chruches are far
more conservative than the Northern. They really believe in the
miracles in the Bible, as opposed to the allegorical interpretations
usually adduced in the USA. Other points:
- Christianity is growing faster and in more areas than Islam.
- The Roman Catholic Church was the first global organization.
- Forty percent of cardinals are now from the Southern
- Pope John Paul II was elected because the Southern
at that time, had enough sway to prevent election of a Western
- Pentacostalism and mysticism are rapidly rising in the
- We can expect more schisms and religious wars.
¶ The tour organizer, Adam, and I had a conversation. Inter alia,
we agreed that Osama bun Laden terrorism will not be detered by the
airline security measures now in place. He will find a way. Indeed, we
will grow complacent in a few years. Seven years elapsed between the
two attacks on the World Trade Center. So the next attack might not be
until 2008. If they follow the persistence shown in attacking the World
Trade Center, the next attacks will be on Washington, either the White
House or Congress. Given the tight security, the
most-likely-to-be-successful approach would be a nuclear weapon.
¶ Most societies are patriarchical; men dominate women. There may
be many contributing factors. Here's one more: Men have deeper voices.
Such voices carry better. Thus in oratorical settings, men can out talk
women and influence more people.
¶ Deeper (lower frequency) sounds may also contribute to the
"majesty" of Beethoven's music. Being deaf, he wrote more bass lines
because he could feel them, even if he could not hear them. And bass
notes can have a more majestic import. Of course it didn't hurt any
that Beethoven was a musical genius even before he was deaf.
¶ "So why do we always wear our hats?" says Tevya in Fiddler on thne Roof. "I will tell
you," he goes on. "I don't know." But I know and I will tell. It is for
the same reason that friars wear a tonsure, shaving their scalp to
leave a fringe around the edge. In both cases it is because of who
makes the rules: the old guys. Hats and tonsures both make everybody
just like the old guys so the young guys lose their advantage in
appearance. It is important to pay attention to who makes the
The morning trip was a visit to a manioc farm and factory run by a
family. I decided I'd seen enough poor billage the day before and opted
to stay at the cabin. All I had to do was to get back to the main lodge
for lunch at noon. A bit of a trick given that I had left my watch on
the ship. In the event, I got back there at 11:55. Not bad.
While walking back to the cabin from breakfast, I heard a bird with a
call of four rising notes. Something like C E G C. The highest was just
at the upper limit of my whistling. Later Fabio told me this was the
agou (sp?), a relatively rare bird.
I meditated for a while, identifying only a few sounds:
some kind of intermittent bang like a sledge swing
a buzzing like cicadas
a thunking sound
Then I napped.
Later I worked on an improved idea for a Cox-Rathvon cryptic. Words
will have their tail replaced with a letter selected by coordinate. For
"preforce" the solver would look up the letter in cell 4C; then "force"
would be replaced with that letter to make "perk" or "pert." Possible
Antigone appendix beaten
contend delicate distend
mandate perforce pinafore
relax relegate scone shone trombone
Lunch was the usual chicken or fish.
The afternoon was to feature swimming in the Meeting of the Waters,
where the Rio Negro meets the Solimoes to form the Amazon. Usually I
don't like to expose so much skin, but this seemed like something I
should do. I dutifully slathered on the sun lotion from pate to sole
and went out in just my swimsuit, a t-shirt, and flip-flops. A radical
attire for me. It was cooler.
So we got on the boat to begin our adventure. And not five minutes
later Fabio got a call forbidding us from swimming. So there I was, all
lotioned up and no place to swim. Well, it was cooler. And I didn't get
We cruised past downtown Manaus. Two shipyards; more, I claimed, than
the entire USA. Opera house from fin de siecle. Did Magic flute last
year. Next week is a full Ring
cycle. Then the famous floating dock. A technological marvel in its
time. The river floods so high that a port was impossible until
they created the floating dock. Big city, went on along the river for
several kilometers. The same brick pile favellas as in Salvador.
And so on to the Meeting of the Waters. Where, Favio claimed, the white
and black rivers meet to form the blue river. Took a long while to sort
that out. The Rio Negro is indeed black. But the Solimoes is
brown from its tons of silt. And from the point where we saw the
Meeting, the two rivers continuedd side by side downstream for several
kilometers. In fact the blue Amazon doesn't begin for another hundred
kilometers where another white tributary enters.
Dolphins. Gray dolphins put on a mini-show to amuse us at the Meeting.
Apparently there were fish at that point for them to eat. Evening. TIme
for bug spray on top of the sun stuff.
On to a restaurant/shop to see giant lily pads. As big as a table. The
site was run by a family of forty or more. They do whatever they can to
make money, including refurbishing boats. They were poor and were
certainly desirous of selling to us; but they did not drag at our
sleeves or beg for our business. A fine place. I was a little
surprised, then, that we did not eat there, but rather ate on the boat.
I was also surprised that we did not eat at the "beach party" scheduled
for later in the evening. When we got there it turned out to be
another cultural show: native dances. This one featured huge elaborate
"constructions" on the backs of the lead dancer in each piece. Each
construction was a framework with feathers and other decorations
arrayed around the dancer. The dance I remember best had a farm girl in
enormous skirt and a native girl with elaborate construction both
wooing a guy dressed up as a bull. There was much dancing about and
going back and forth and pining and mooning, but it did not seem to end
with a resolution as to who did finally get the bull. Maybe he just
played around with both and then went on to greener passages.
After the show I napped in a hammock on the boat as we cruised back
across the river to Manaus. Then on to the bus and the 2:10 AM
airplane. On all but that first segment, the flights were full with
local businessmen off to meetings in the neighboring city. And for the
whole time, there I was, slathered in sun slop and bug glop.
The day began at midnight. We departed from the party lodge and rode
the boat across the river to Manuas. Bus to airport. Plane at 2:10 AM
to Sao Paolo with a stop at Brasalia. Change for another plane to
Salvador, stopping at Belo Horizonte. Again we travelled for 12 hours
to make an eight hour trip. Again we travelled over the Amazon basin at
night; not a chance to see anything.
It was a great relief to find that there was no one waiting at the
gangway. I got aboard ship and into the shower faster than you
read this paragraph.
Througout the trip I ignored the med team's advice to take two
Pepto-Bismol-like tablets before each meal to defend against
gastro-intestinal distress. There had been 62 cases on a previous
voyage. As we began,however, the tour manager explained that the
previous cases had arisen when students baited hooks for fishing
with raw meat. On my trip the guides baited the hooks. I also avoided
the fresh vegetables: tomato, lettuce, cucumber, onion; not a great
sacrifice. Result: I had no gastro problems. (I've already
mentioned my problems after Cambodia. I now think that two factors may
have exacerbated my problem: I am taking daily Doxycycline for malaria
prevention and I am eating too much sugar for no good reason.)
On the trip home I read Mezrich, Bringin
House about the MIT team that card counted its way to millions
in Vegas. An interesting study in the question, "Who can you trust?"
Typical S afternoon. "Please go with me to the Post Office; I'd rather
not walk alone." So on the way home: "Oh, don't you want to stop at the
drug store. And I'm going to go get my hair cut." No, I did not want to
go to the drug store. And how come a simple errand has morphed into me
wandering around a place I have no interest in. At any rate, it was all
close enough to the ship and on a bright enough day that S insisted she
would be fine and I should go back to the ship. I did.
Later I pointed out that a trip around the world was our last travel
holiday. It's fine to go to somewhere and hang out, but traipsing about
is no more.
E got a sunburn. And her camera disappeared between arriving at the
Union for a trip and arrival at the end of the bus trip. Too bad.
Ram says the netinary folks came and "fixed" internet access. The
problem had been that they hadn't "believed us." I will await the
future, but without optimism. They were fixing the system when there
were no students. Software geneerally works fine when few are using it.
They are all playing bridge now. E had invited me to play boggle, but
abandoned me for the bridge game. I offered to play, but was turned
down. Then S showed up, so they played with five players anyway. I was
Slept til 8AM!
Computer games after breakfast.
Global studies: Jim Lang onVenezuela and interport lecturer Ferrara.
Ferrara had a web reference, so I came up to fac-staf lounge to
access. Waddayaknow: I cannot even get an IP address to access
the ship's network. No way to even see if there is internet access. (To
be fair, Netinary is not responsible for the ship's network. That would
fall under the myopic purview of Pittsburgh. The ones who hire people
who can fix these problems and then forbid them the access they need to
do so.) (Who me, sarcastic? Never, well hardly ever. Well, occasionally
not.) Asked Matt to free addresses. He did. About ten minutes later I
finally got an address.
2:30. Computer hibernated over lunch. Now I am trying to get back on.
address. Reboot fixed the problem.
Now: put the rest of Gustavo's talk into my notes. Then do the rest of
the Amazon trip.
4:30 - I've fnished the Gustavo notes. In doing it, I used the internet
quite a bit. It really did seem to work!
5:00 - again failed to get an address
5:30 - got address and internet works
evening: played Boggle with Ellyn. Then went and read three poems at
Open Mic (sic) night: My Real Name
Is ..., Feeling Lousy, and Being
Poor. Then a party for one of the "seas" (student corridors).
Then a party for Jackie DeHon, who has returned to the ship in a
I tried hiding the invitation to the Captain's dinner, but Susan knew
about it, so we are going. And we're going to the Ambassador's Ball as
well--the 5:00 PM seating, which is a lousy time for wearing jacket and
Sweets: 8 units
Last night I could still smell the Lake Salvador Lodge on my CPAP
breathing machine. Some dust or wood mold has gotten into it.
Exercise: 2.2 mi in 32 minutes.
Edited global studies notes until 4:30, with two hours out for lunch
and freecell. Filled in Jim Lang's notes and converted Fessler's last
lecture to be part of my notes.
Did most of the notes from the Amazon. Found one more page to do
Captain's dinner. Nice pre-dinner party. One of the officers described
a previous voyage, one to the antarctic. The captain had a staff
meeting and pointed to a storm some ways off. He said that if the storm
moved they were going to skedaddle back to Argentina, "and let the
shore folks figure out the refunds later." This was in direct contrast
to a meeting with our former captain. After going through one storm he
noted that another was on the way. When asked how bad it was going to
be, he replied, "Interesting." When asked what that meant, he only
repeated the remark, "Interesting." It was.
Dinner was lovely. S and I both had the salmon. After considerable wine
and with much merriment, Larry Meredith pointed out that the storm was
God's retribution for having both deanships in the hands of women. Mary
Magoulick pointed out that of the two contradictory creation stories in
Genesis, it is the first which has women created as equal to man. (The
rib stuff comes in the second chapter. Curoiusly, men and women both
have the same number of ribs and the number is the same on both sides.)
Captain was forthcoming to all questions. I asked about fuel mileage.
We get about four miles to the ton. That's less than 2 feet per gallon.
Quite a bit less than the tractor that moves NASA rockets from the
Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch site.
Breakfast carbs: 3 servings
Finished up the Amazon notes.
I signed up for being at a table with Larry Meredith, Dennis Waring,
Jim Lang, and partners. Now I find that Larry has been banished to a
table with students. I want my money back. Indeed, I did not sign for
it, so technically I did not even give them my money. I've drafted a
note to this effect to the Purser and shown it to the Ball committee
I've made two items for the auction tonight. A signed CD of the global
study notes and a signed copy of the first three pages.
Now on to Viet Nam notes. (Did get the first day done.)
In the late afternoon I met for rehearsals of the Ancient Mariner's.
They had chosen to do a song based on the tune of Ac-cent-tua-ate The Positive
(Howard Arlen and Johnny Mercer). Their song did a great job of
relating most of the facts of our voyage, although it lacked a tad in
the humor and singability categories. I volunteered to do a "rewrite."
I down loaded the original lyrics and went from there.
The original has three segments and repeats them various times:
You've got to -
Ac - cent - uate the positive
E - lim - inate the negative
Latch - on - to the affirmative
Don't mess - with Mister-in-between
You've got to
Spread - joy - up to the maximum
Bring - gloom - down to the minimum
Have - faith - or pandemonium
Liable - to walk upon the scene.
My last remark:
Jonah in the whale
Noah in the ark
Just when - everything looked so dark
Two lines came during dinner.
Walk with an attitude
(The first of these is a mantra Kenn has recited in many preports as a
way to avoid being victimized.) These lines are only six syllaables,
while Mercer's lines use eight.
Talk not in platitudes
After dinner I just played freecell until late in the evening. I told
myself I was working on the poem.
Exercise: elliptical 3 mi in
Morning: More computer games. The Maggie grabbed me to do the final
steps on preparing the Global Studies grades for posting. I was
thirsty from the exercise and got a tad grumpy as noon - and lunch -
arrived and went on by. We got them done.
Afternoon started with a nap. After a few minutes I had to get up to
Dive in - to flexibility,
I was so pleased with that last line, that I couldn't get back into nap
mode. Too bad it didn't sing quite right and had to change. "Sublimity"
wasn't real good either. But I had a start.
Steer clear - of your rigidity,
Get a - grip on sublimity.
Don't mess with tag-team lady deans.
While I was concocting lyrics in the Facult-Staff lounge, Norma came
by. She was the principal author of the earlier version. She graciously
helped me by pointing out where my version was unsingable. She
also sang the bridge, which I really hadn't understood.
At 5 PM I had three meetings. An author's meeting for the song, a choir
rehearsal, and Maggie wanted me to revise all the grades. Maggie won.
The grade revision was S's doing; she checked the grading scheme. It
assigned letter grades to various ranges of points. 185-200 got A
177-184 got A-, and so. S noticed that some letter grades were given
for eight different point values and some for only seven. (This was a
result of round-off in some original table now lost to antiquity.) This
gave her the option of suggesting that all ranges be eight values. As a
hardly-mentioned side effect, the ranges for the lower letter grades
were moved down to lower numeric values. All told, 158 students got
After dinner, more work on song by playing computer games.
Later on there was a "block party" on the seventh floor to use up the
excess booze. During it I tried out the song to several listeners and
made some more revisions.
Somewhere along the day I made an observation relating my emotions to
my mathematics. I have trouble letting emotions go, while S is able to
recover from a problem in a few minutes or hours. It seems to me that
my brain has a different mix of chemicals and perhaps a lack of some
chemical that erases recent thoughts. So my emotions hang on. The
advantage is that I can hold a mathematical equation or a pending poem
in my mind longer and give it continued attention. Other possible
Oh well, speculation is fun, but I still need to conform to society at
least a little.
- an aversion to random music in my environment. I hold my
own music in my head and can't deal with both at the same time.
- falling asleep with information overload, as at a lecture.
My brain is still pondering the first point while the speaker has moved
on to the third; so I fall asleep and ponder neither.
I'd planned to exercise after breakfast, as usual. But right at the end
of breakfast Anne Guerrant grabbed me. She is the organizer for
the Ancient Mariners and wanted my version of the song. I started right
in and had a complete version
to her by ten thirty. Including two bridges, which is one more than
Mercer wrote. (But neither better than his.)
So there Anne Guerrant was with dueling lyrics. She had to bring in
David Fenname, with Susan Rosano assisting, to figure out what to do. I
was disappointed to not hear the decision; I suppose the committee felt
that I would have been "difficult" if I had heard. Anyway, I arrived at
1:30 for rehearsal and found a committee result: a mish-mash. The same
old lyrics with one of my choruses sort of stuck in the middle. I felt
I had realy messed up by even thinking of writing new lyrics.
The situation reminded me of S's brother Brian when he left his former
job. As a salesman, It had been his job to find work and negotiate
between the cost estimators and the customer. If the customer had
Allis-Chalmers equipment, the bids would be reasonable, but otherwise
not. Brian couldn't figure out why he was getting non-competitive bids.
At the same time he was taking a Phoenix University course on the
sociology of the workplace. In the course material he found the answer:
he had ignored the culture. His workplace was staffed largely with
former Allis-Chalmers folks and none of them wnated to deal with other
equipment. Brian spent a couple of months looking around and soon wound
up selling bells for Schulmerick. He loves the work and has been the
company's top salesman for a couple of years now.
In my case, I had ignored the culture and the collegial authoring
process that was in place. I concentrated on getting quality lyrics,
but not on communicating with the rest of the chorus. The remainder of
the afternoon and evening I spent sulking and playing computer games.
Finally I decided to simply remove my lyrics from the mix so we could
go back to the lyrics that had been evolved.
Exercise: Treadmill 1 km in 15
min. Elliptical 2.07 mi in 27 min. (The elliptical wasn't available
when I started; but I had to swithch off to the elliptical later
because the ship was rolling quite a bit.)
Last night I decided that this morning I would pack my books and
purchases for shipment home. I surprised myself by actually starting
the task before 0900. There seemed to be no need to exercise since
packing is some work. After getting everything out, I read Gulak's Poets and Murder, one of the Judge
After lunch we had another rehearsal. With revised lyrics no longer
containing mine. The opening goes like this
You've got to
By the fourth run through we were mostly coming in together. Andre has
given us some modest choreography that we mostly get right. It remains
to be seen how it all works with microphones.
Get / board / the explor-r-r-er
Sail / first / to South Kore-e-a
Hit / waves / and see Hawa-a-ii
Don't mess with Neptune in between.
Then I actually finished packing. Five boxes. It was sweaty work and
required a washing up after each box. Once done, I feel much better.
For one thing, I now have the option of flying home without leaving S
with the task of packing my stuff.
However, as I write this in the evening, I find that I have insect
bites on my left leg and arm. And a strange weakness in the left elbow.
Probably spiders were lurking in the