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Saturday, May 27, 2017

America's Cup 35th event starts in Bermuda

As far as this blogger is concerned there can be no more exciting event today, May 27th, 2017 than the start of America's Cup 35th racing Event taking place in Bermuda.

I am a Bermudian living abroad but at this moment I wish I were there in situ where the entire island is consumed with race fever. The event was scheduled to get under way, complete with opening ceremonies yesterday, the 26th of May, but it seems as though Mother Nature decided to remind everyone that She is still in charge. High winds postponed the opening until today, and now all is in readiness, so off we go.

Ironically, I live in Valencia where the 32nd edition of the AC cup was held in 2007, and the 33rd again in 2010 after a court ruling that sought to settle a dispute. I think it's fair to say that a reasonable amount of interest and excitement was stirred among Valencianos on the ground around the AC village, but the actual racing took place offshore so unless you took on the expense of getting on board one of the boats that shadowed the race you watched it on television. We can watch an event without being in the same location.

It was a big event for Valencia and we knew that something big had taken place here, but something was missing. Bermuda, however, will be different.

The races of 2010 and 2013 have evidently involved only two teams but the 35th edition will match six teams against one another. The island is near perfect for the event as the racing will take place within an oval body of water where everybody on shore can view it as well as from the decks of super cruise liners, and from a ring of private boats. A large number of those private boats will be super ocean going private yachts, both motor and sailing vessels. A total of 100 spaces have been reserved for such visitors which is the limit that can be accommodated.

To add to the excitement of an already overloaded program four Tall Ships will visit Bermuda between the first and the 4th of June. They are participating in the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta and in the process they will add their considerable dignity to what is already a most spectacular event that is expected to be watched by more than a billion people around the world.

They are as follows:

The Oosterschelde Dutch Training sailing ship, built in 1918 as a Class A three-masted topsail Schooner.
The Tall Ship Blue Clipper, a B class three-masted schooner built in 1990.
The Jolie Brise, a Class B Gaff Cutter, built in 1913 is a sail training ship that flies the flag of the U.K.
The Alexander Von Humboldt II, a Class A, 3 masted Barque, built in 2011, flying the German flag, and sailing out her home port of Bremerhaven, Germany. She can fly a collection of 24 sails and operates as a sail trainer  charter and hospitality ship.

To set the tone for AC a new race has been inaugurated this year, racing from Antigua to Bermuda and organized by The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in association with Antigua Sailing week. It is anticipated that this will become an annual event. The entrants to this event began to arrive in Bermuda on the 20th of May, having crossed the finish line well in time for the start of AC 35.

The word on the street is that a number of the visiting super private yachts might organize their own unofficial race around Bermuda, taking along some very lucky islanders for the ride. If that happens it will be the icing on the cake. I need to be there for that!

The meat and potatoes will be the daily racing of course, leading up to the finale, and that alone would ordinarily be enough to totally captivate everyone's attention. As it is the entire island will be undergoing more excitement over a six week period than it has known throughout its entire four hundred year history.

When AC35 ends, and no one will want it to end, Bermuda will gear up for another racing event on water and that will be capped off by the semi-finals of an international track and field event.

Keep your dial on Bermuda, 2017, the happening place for this year.

Kinds of gives new meaning to The Bermuda Triangle doesn't it?

Copyright (c) 2017
Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Living in a World of Spy things

What a simple world we lived in before the Age of the Internet. Privacy meant something then and we all said how important it was to us. That was then and this is now.

First came the telephone that could be bugged and recorded so that our conversations could be played back to us in a court of law. We became paranoid as we had to wonder who was listening in when we spoke. For the vast majority the answer was that only the person to whom we were directly speaking was maybe actually listening. We need not have worried.

Now, we need to worry. Once we began to broadcast over air that information was subject to capture by people we preferred not to have it. This includes just about our entire way of life from mobile phones, the Internet, the locking systems for our cars, and the security and convenience cameras in our homes and even in our babies bedrooms.

I have even placed black tape over the camera on this laptop because the awful truth is that some hacker who could really use a life could be looking at me typing right now had I not barred the access. Why do I think anyone would care in the least what I am doing in the privacy of my own home? After all I am of no significance to any government or military organisation.

Well, because I write blogs that identifies me as a person of some interest because I have an opinion and I have the means of expressing it. I must have offended or at least awoken someone's sensitivities as a result of all the stuff I have written over eighteen years. At least I hope so. We bloggers have something to say which we trust will bring around people to change their ways. For instance, last week I wrote that if we all accepted the latest tragedies of death on the road of cyclists to influence our own behaviour as drivers, perhaps far fewer cyclists will suffer harm.

My most important philosophy is that Death is not the End, but rather we simply shed our present bodies in order to effect change. Have I disturbed any religious bodies who are charged with the preparation of making ready their parishioners to meet The Lord when they die? Perhaps!

What about the things you do during your daily routines? Do they call attention to you, or might your own spouse be interested in what you do round the house when that person is out?

The common household appliance that is connected to the Internet can make that happen. I have read an on-line article by a person named Kara Alaimo that is well thought out and presented and far reaching in its breath. Kara is concerned about the many ways in which spy agencies or individuals could use simple domestic appliances or more sophisticated means to spy on every thing we do, but she wants us to be reassured by manufacturers that they will not use the spyware to violate our privacy.

This is a good idea so that when we consider buying a Smart this or that we may be encouraged to make the purchase in the first place. No matter how much reassurances we receive if its possible to be done our paranoia will lead us to believe that it is happening. If you are a U.S. resident  you are living with the Edward Snowden effect about what your government seems to be doing with you in mind.

The problem may not be the trusted company but it will always be the hackers who can break into the communication stream and harvest information for their own use, or even to take it hostage. The simple truth is that we are living in a world that is wonderful in many ways and progressively growing in that direction, while at the same time growing more and more terrible. It does not seem to be possible to accept the good things without the bad side affects. That is just a fact of life.

Something as simple as writing this blog brings with it the responsibility to back it up along with everything else I do to guard against loss.

What a wonderful pain in the ass life has become!

Copyright (c) 2017
Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Rich and the super rich

When someone such as myself sits down to write about those people who have 99% of all the money in the world you might expect me to be jealous and cynical. I surprise even myself by being neither. It's true that I could make good use of a few million, but we might be surprised at how little I would lavish  on myself.. I've made do without it all these many years, so I'm not likely to absolutely lose my head.

I'm at a loss as to why The Sunday Times bothers to publish the Rich List. Apart from satisfying my idle curiosity it doesn´t  seem to have any other function. The richest family in the world appears to be headed by two brothers from India who have amassed a fortune totalling 16.2 Billion pounds. That was at the cutoff date so God knows what the total stands at now. For a start they made 3.2 Billion Pounds during the past year.

I got to wondering what kind of life that much in assets buys a person, and could you actually enjoy it. It would be a given that you would live in the very finest homes around the world. Everything would be super first-class for you, including an army of people to tend to your needs and wishes. You could do that with 500 million, so what more could you want with two more lots of 500 million each.  You've already got the big airplane and at least one yacht that you could invite as many ladies as you wished to lounge around looking good on, so what the hell would you spend another 10 billion on?

What these two guys did during the last year was get up every day, get dressed in their very finest and go to work to make even more billions. They even look like the kind of people who would not be amused by lots of lovely ladies hanging about, and I even think I might get bored by that as well.

With lots and lots of money a person should be able to have a perfect life in which nothing goes wrong, but judging by the horrid family stories that are generated by the top 99% I really don't think I would want to be one of them.

I play the lottery to a small extent wishing for a win of 15 million euros.. At my age that would mean a couple of new cars and the wife would want a custom designed house, and then it would be time to attend to the reasonable needs of my close family and that of my wife. Our friends would not be forgotten, but we are now down to gifts in the thousands because we have to think of the really needy whose lives must be made better.

Throughout the whole list there was only one name that I  took time over. That was the name of JK Rowling. I am so happy for her because of the manner in which her fortune came, and the fact that she has already given so much of it away for the benefit of so many who were in need.

Her own story reads like a best seller, and the fact that she got children actually reading in this era of all things electronic just captures my imagination.. I assume that all those with money are entitled to it but JK especially deserves every penny and the fame and respect that goes with it. She appears to be happy, and long may she remain that way.

Otherwise, reading through the list that tells me what industries their fortune came through just put me to sleep.That's because my name wasn't there, so as I said, what was the point?

Maybe next year?

Copyright (c) 2017
Eugene Carmichael

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Toll and Joy of travel

My wife and I have just returned from Bermuda to our perfectly good life here in Valencia, but somehow it didn't seem like a rational thing to do. We visited family and friends in Bermudiful Bermuda which is an island country that is gearing up for the most exciting period in its history. The America's Cup race is about to get under way attended by almost 100 world class motoring yachts, plus Tall Ships, Cruise ships, and thousands and thousands of spectator boats and musical events and people from around the world. This may be the greatest America's Cup event ever and we have walked away from it.

Travel has become such a miserable experience to get from one place to another but if you were in our shoes you would endure it over and over a thousand times to be able to enjoy the heartwarming time we shared with family and friends. For me I got to meet my two newest great grand children, Ava who is two and James who is two months. I am now the father of three offspring, three grand children, and three great grand children. That is quite a package to travel to be with and I would do that any way in which I had to. However, sitting still for seven hours regresses my age. I found myself thinking; "are we there yet?"

Coming back to my Spanish home has brought on a certain depression as we have come down from our own Bermuda High. The saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder is so true. To begin with Bermuda must surely be the most beautiful island nation in the world. I found my fellow Bermudians to be their usual friendly selves although there are problems to be resolved. I think the remedy is at hand because Bermuda is perhaps the luckiest place on earth. To have been selected for the America's Cup means that they will receive publicity unlike any other, and providing things go smoothly and without human folly the positive publicity this tourist destination will receive cannot be bought.

It has been three years since we were last there so the opportunity to spend time with my family was so precious, and to see friends again is priceless. I keep saying that to find really good friends is rare. Once we have them they are to be treasured. Ideally I would like to return at least once a year but being a retiree I have to watch my pennies. Of course one really sweet win from the lottery could solve that problem.

Today, May 6th is the 30th anniversary of the XL Catlin End-to-End walk for charity. This is something I was involved in starting thirty years ago with friends and it has continued under the very able chair of Anne Mello. We watched via live feed this morning the start of the annual event from the eastern end of the island of the walkers who will walk a full marathon to the western end and right into the America's Cup village. The walkers are followed by cyclists and runners and swimmers and horse riders, who pick up participants along the way. What a day this will be, so I truly wish we were there.

I give a special shout out to Joan Dismont, Ms End-to-End who has never missed one year's event. This year she will have to but her spirit will be there, so Joan, this one's especially for you.

I also want to pay homage to a whole group of people who I call "my people" as they are The Bermuda Senior Islanders. So many of this group I grew up with and we got a little chance to reminisce about the good old days. That was so special to me and as I said, were I a permanent resident I would be a proud Bermuda Senior Islander. We only get to say that if we have been very, very lucky. Fred Hassell, Director, if you didn't already exist we would have had to invent you.

At the departure gates in saying goodbye to my  two precious daughters, Donna and Carol I almost lost it. I am so very blessed to have seen them grow to be a part of the solution and to make me  so very proud. I share that pride with their mother, the late Violeta. Just when the tears were about to flow the security man made me take off my shoes and my belt and that brought me back to reality with a bang. My pants were about to fall down in public. That will make you concentrate every time.

Copyright (c) 2017
Eugene Carmichael