picture of a chunk of tree with the word "log" on it
April 9-20
Salvador to La Guira
Fred Hansen, Winter, 2005

Saturday, April 9
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 32.5 min
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 Angela C
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?

Sunday, April 10

Read a book.  Played computer games.

Monday, April 11

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 Refice.)

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 midnight.

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 communities.

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.

Tuesday, April 12

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.

Piranha fishing
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 Hemisphere.
  • Pope John Paul II was elected because the Southern churches, even at that time, had enough sway to prevent election  of a Western European.
  • Pentacostalism and mysticism are rapidly rising in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • 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 rules. 

Wednesday, April 13

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:
    generator hum
    some kind of intermittent bang like a sledge swing
    a buzzing like cicadas
    a bird
    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 words include
    Antigone  appendix  beaten  contend  delicate  distend 
    mandate  perforce  pinafore  predate  radix 
    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 sunburnt.

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.

Thursday, April 14

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 can 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 Down the 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 put out.

Friday, April 15

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. No 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 non-combatant status.

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 tie.

8 units

Saturday, April 16

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 tomorrow.

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.

Sunday, April 17

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 head.

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.

To illustrate
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
Talk not in platitudes
(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.

After dinner I just played freecell until late in the evening. I told myself I was working on  the poem.

Monday, April 18

Exercise: elliptical 3 mi in 46 minutes

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 write down
Dive in - to flexibility,
Steer clear - of your rigidity,
Get a - grip on sublimity.
Don't mess with tag-team lady deans.
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.

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 higher grades.

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 related effects:
  • 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.
Oh well, speculation is fun, but I still need to conform to society at least a little.

Tuesday, April 19

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.)

Wednesday, April 20

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 Dee mysteries.

After lunch we had another rehearsal. With revised lyrics no longer containing mine. The opening goes like this
You've got to
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.
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.

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 boxes. Sigh.