Great Loop Cruising

The dream of boaters! Take out a year to do this route. A year? Yes, after all, you don't want to be in New York or on the Great Lakes in the winter!

What Exactly is the Great Loop?

The Great Loop is a circumnavigation of the eastern U.S., and part of Canada.  The route includes the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, the New York State Canals, the Canadian Canals, the Great Lakes, the inland rivers, and the Gulf of Mexico. "Loopers" take on this adventure of a lifetime aboard their own boat.

How long does it take to do the Great Loop?

The Great Loop has been done in as little as two months and in as much as 12 years.  Traditionally, Loopers have spent about a year on the route.  After all, it is a seasonal trip.  You’ll want to be on the northern part of the Loop during the warm summer months, the inland rivers in the fall, spend the winter in Florida, and the spring following the warm weather up the eastern portion of the route.

We’re seeing a trend towards people doing the Great Loop in segments, cruising for a few weeks or months, and then returning home to take care of business or other responsibilities, and returning to the boat for another segment when possible. 

Why is the Loop usually done counter-clockwise?

Although the Great Loop has been done in both directions, it’s usually done counter-clockwise so that you are going with the current, not against it, on the inland rivers.

Positive Latitude just started their voyage on this Loop. You can see a video clip, below.


I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it's not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis. For others it is working 60 hours a week remotely with no break.

For some that live alone they're facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.

With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment some are bringing in more money to their households than they were working. Many others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales.

Some families of 4 just received $3400 from the stimulus while other families of 4 saw $0.

Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend.

Some want to go back to work because they don't qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.

Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don't believe this is a big deal. And others are in total denial.

Some have faith in God and expect AND Receive miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.

Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.

We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a different journey.


Author unknown

A Long Walk to Water

The Rotary Foundation has six main categories to fund projects all over the world. One of them is Water and Sanitation. A lot of deals with drilling wells. Wells have been drilled all over Africa, for example, for many years, by various non-profit organizations, the United Nations, etc. Sadly, many of those are now overgrown, rusty and not working anymore. After several years the local population could not afford parts, neither did they have the engineering capacity to keep them running, long after the organization that started the project, was gone. Over the past 4-5 years, Rotary has implemented a requirement, that the project has to be sustainable. In other words, the means to keep the project running, once the project is complete and the Rotarians have gone home. There are a multitude of these projects going on. Which one do you choose to support? 

In her novel, A Long Walk To Water, Linda Sue Park explains drilling a well is only the beginning! She describes, what is based on a true story, in the area of Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenia. There is a lot of desert. People move toward the wetter areas during the rainy season and return to wherever a little water remains, the rest of the year. Typically, the girls fetch water every day, which takes half a day traveling both ways. It is not the best water either; muddy and often contaminated. Peoples from two different tribes, the Nuer and the Dinka fight over water in the only lake remaining during the drought. Fights happen, people die. On top, a civil war rages through the South of Sudan, trying to keep their own religions instead of being forced by government troops from the North to accept the Muslim religion. One day, two visitors came to Nya's village. They spoke with the village counsel, something about water. 

They brought in all kinds of equipment, Nya had never seen. After weeks of work and through unexpected challenges, water came out of a pump, if you swung the handle up and down.

 "A miracle," said her uncle."I used to sit here all the time, and never knew I was sitting on top of water!" 

Once the strangers were gone, the villagers were building something, next to the well.

"What is that?" Nya asked her uncle.

"A school for boys AND girls! Now that we have water here, the girls do not have to travel half a day anymore." The project resulted in meeting the next important area of Rotary: Basic Education and Literacy

Next came a clinic, so the villagers did not have to travel a full day to the nearest one. This satisfied the area of Disease Prevention And Treatment, and over time resulted in Maternal And Child Health

Now that the villagers did not have to spend all their time getting water, having to boil it, and manage water storage, they could spend time on other projects, resulting in compliance with the next area: Economic And Community Development

"Remember those two visitors who came to talk to our elders?"

"Yea," Nya replied.

"Did you see the scar on the arm of the assistant?"

"Yes, that was from our tribe, the Nuer."

"And what about the leader?"

"He did not have any marks, so we do not know from which tribe he was." You will have to read the book, to find that answer. but it resulted in covering the last important area: Peace and Conflict Prevention / Resolution

All of a sudden I get it! Water and Sanitation form the basics, but the consequences are far bigger and include all six important areas of projects funded by the Rotary Foundation! 

The Plant

Where is this? What kind of factory is it? We called it just "the plant", in short, and all of us would know what we were talking about. Since 1916, when it was established by Anthony R. Gangi Sr., in San Jose, it went under one name, until September 1, 1993 when it cut operations and later was sold to Del Monte Corporation. The name of the street, that used to run through the middle, before the expansion is: Matmor Rd., which to this day extends South of the plant. A very strange name, I think. The plant dramatically expanded during the 1970's and '80s, to the size you see in the picture above. During those years, tomato varieties were developed for mechanical harvesting, with tons / acre increasing dramatically. Harvesters were designed and built. Because of their firmness, canning tomatoes can be hauled in 6x6x4 bins, instead of the crates used in the hand-pick days. 

Originally the plant only operated during the summer season for 100 days, but later added re-manufactured sauces, like Sweet and Sour sauce, Italian sauce, Taco Sauce, and many more, outside of the processing season. The 300 gallon boxes of 32% paste were re-opened and made into these sauces. The plant handled up to 6,000 tons / day during those 100 days of operation and the whole town smelled it and heard the hissing sound of the steam, coming from the evaporators. Why all those warehouses? Operating only 100 days a year, customers do not all have the warehouse capacity to store tomato products for the rest of the year. You cannot see it in the picture, but behind the warehouses runs a railroad track, where railcars are loaded, throughout the year.

Going back to the first plant established by Gangi in San Jose, it soon expanded to Woodland and Riverbank because the plant in San Jose became surrounded by city blocks so could not expand anymore. 

There it is, the first plant, with a picture of the plant manager, always with a grin on his face! The plant was blocked in by city streets, so to get to the office, you had to cross a busy street, and behind the office a freeway emerged. I am telling this, because the plant is long gone; replaced by apartment buildings. 

Do you remember the advertisement?

All that is left of Contadina today, is an office in San Fransisco, which purchased the name and has its products made by other canneries, just like Contadina used to pack tomatoes, and tomato paste for Safeway, and other stores. Oh, ... the street name Matmor Rd? It is a contraction of the names Matalone and Morici. Morici was the wholesale grocer who bought out Contadina in 1933, and sold it to Carnation Company in 1967. Jimmy Matalone was the sales manager.

The Woodland plant had a softball team in the city league. The city had a nice description of all participants, including Contadina:

A Drop in the Bucket, a lot of drops! Water is used to convey tomatoes from the truck into the plant, water is used to create steam for the evaporators which condensed tomato juice into tomato paste; from about 5% solids to 24%: thick paste, you buy in the grocery store. The waste water takes out the residue which is pumped up to a tower where the solids are separated from the water, collected in a hopper from where trucks haul it off to the fields as fertilizer. The water goes to the city water treatment facility for further treatment before it can be returned to the Sacramento River.

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Successful Aging

Daniel Levin wrote a book about happiness at old age. He was wondering why some old people lived like they were 35 years old, all vibrant, and others look ten years older than they really are, like a corpse. Why is that? 

“My brain does not work as well anymore.” Or:
“I am more forgetful.”
“I lost several friends my age.”
“I am much slower.”
Much of that is true to some extend, but not entirely. “I am more forgetful," has two sides to it. The older person thinks he or she does not remember where they put their keys and immediately think of Alzheimers. A young person will grab their phone, key in their key location button and bingo a buzzer goes off on the other side of the room. He or she goes there grabs the keys and continues what they were planning to do. Same memory loss, different perspective. 
“You changed,” may be the response. Well yes you are a bit older, but that may be all there is to it. 

Levin also contends that one of the most complicated actions for a human being is their social life, their friends, colleagues, the store clerk. It takes a lot of different neurological connections to respond to what people around us say or do. Never give up making new friends! That is more challenging than trying Sudoku, or putting together a puzzle. Sure, you get better at those latter things if you do them often enough, but not because you train your brain. 

Going to the gym, or walking around the block helps you physically, somewhat… A much bigger challenge and far more satisfying activity is climbing over rocks in nature, observing the wilderness around you, watching out for snakes, literally smelling the flowers. What once was a rain forest and now has become a sub-division, you know, but not your children. To them it has always been a sub-division. It takes a lot more neurological connections to manage your way through the rain forest. Your brain does not atrophy!

You may be slower, physically, but with age you are wiser and know short-cuts, what choices to make because you have been there, made those mistakes. You end up at the same place at the same time as that teenager, only via a different route. You are slower, but don’t have to fumble around anymore and you get there just as fast as that teenager. 

Elderly? That means you don’t have to challenge your colleague for the next position in the company anymore. You’re in a rest home now, enjoying a hobby, just reading, instead of having to mow the lawn, fix that leaking faucet, or call the plumber to install a new dishwasher. And that is all there is to it, enjoy a new friend, share how you spend your life and where you will do it.