Friday, August 21, 2009

Ocean, Lake

I finally got the chance to watch the dvds of Whale Wars, the cable show which followed Sea Shepherd's Antarctica anti-whaling campaign. I was disappointed they didn't have subtitles or any extras, only the seven 42 minute episodes, and the show's content was a mixed bag. There was a lot of repetition in this format, both between episodes and after obvious commercial breaks within episodes. Dramatic moments were sometimes sent over the top by music and narration. It's impossible for me to guess at how editing affected the accuracy of what was shown, but much of it was troubling.

It was very interesting to witness the action, although also frightening to see the inexperience of many of the volunteer crew. Obviously not their fault that they know nothing about how to do things they've never done, but not very encouraging for people considering volunteering. Risking one's life for whales is one thing; risking it due to incompetence is another. No one died but a couple people were injured and there were a lot of screw-ups which could easily have been fatal.

Along with the inexperience of the new folks, the officers of the ship didn't inspire much confidence in me either, and apparently not in at least some of the crew either as there was lots of grumbling and some quit when the ship had to return to port for repairs. There seemed to be a great disconnect between the officers and the crew with neither paying much attention to what the other side was doing or planning (officers didn't know a drunken party was going on until the next day, nor did they seem to have much respect for the people volunteering).

Still, I felt that these were people I could relate to far more than most of the people I've known in my life because of their values, and I developed both an old man's crush and a lot of respect for one member of the crew. And there were some nice scenes of whales and snowstorms and being at sea is always appealing to me. It's very possible the internal discord made more of an impression on me than the confrontations with the whalers because it was new to me while the confrontations were well known. Keep fighting, Shepherds, you could still be in my future.

For now, I settled on taking a tourist cruise on Lake Superior last week. After being here nine years and soon to be gone, I decided I needed to go on one even though I've always scoffed at the brief little spin the boats do along the Lake shore. If they actually headed out away from land, I would have gone my first year here.

Going out of the harbor under the lift bridge was probably the highlight for me, seeing the great expanse of water ahead, with lots of imagined possibilities. But Lake time is very limited as the cruise quickly returns under the bridge and goes around the harbor. I did get some good looks at some terns along with the usual gulls and geese.

The cruise would be most relevant to people who are interested in shipping and industry, but a couple things the tour narrator said made me question the general accuracy of the spiel. He pointed out the old armory building and said it was one of the last places Buddy Holly played before his plane crash, but then completely ignored the local relevance of the story by not mentioning that Bob Dylan attended. He also questioned whether additions to the Lakewalk would happen because of the economy, apparently not swayed by the fact that the work on it was being done as he spoke.

So, lots of water recently, include a very gloomy rainy period which unfortunately resulted in hundreds of thousands more gallons of overflow from the sewer system, a problem the city and EPA have long been working on.

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