Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bye-bye, 2013

I probably won't stay up to welcome the new year. I've seen a lot of New Year's Eves in my day. Maybe I should, because other than the joy my new granddaughter brought me this year, 2013 has been like that tickle in my throat that makes my cough, the hangnail in your life and I can't bite it off (with apologies to Hoyt Axton).

So what river picture of 2013? Probably this one, taken at the supposed mouth of the Ohio at Cairo, Ill., on Memorial Day weekend.

I say supposed mouth because ... well, I've griped enough about how the Ohio is really bigger than the Mississippi here.

Just because a map says the Ohio River ends here doesn't make it so. And just because a calendar says tomorrow morning will be that much different doesn't make it so, either. But a new year brings new opportunities, and I plan to take advantage of a few that are coming my way, and more that I will have to work on myself.

So from the Ohio River Blog, have a great 2014.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas day on the river

Adam and I usually take time each Dec. 25 to see what's happening on the river. In years past we've caught an AEP boat tied up at Lakin WV for a while, presumably for the crew to enjoy some time off on the holiday. Or maybe it was there for regular business. We don't know.

We've also seen the Neil N. Diehl, the Lelia C. Shearer and the Sara Elizabeth out and about on the day. Today we saw the Earl Jones upbound at Point Pleasant WV. Across the river, we saw the Dan Elder dropping a couple of barges at what I think is called O-Kan Harbor.

Adam got these two shots while we crossed the Silver Memorial Bridge. The bridge is right next to where the boat left the barges. In this first shot, we just got up on the bridge.

In this shot, Adam was shooting into the sun while the camera was bracketing exposures. This was about 0.7 EV underexposed, and I played with it a little.

That was about all we saw, but it was more than we expected, really.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cloudy day

It was warm enough yesterday that Adam and I spent a little time down by the river before we ventured out to the mall to see if traffic was as bad as we thought it would be. It was worse.

Back to the river ...

From Chesapeake OH we watched the AEP Legacy pass beautiful downtown Huntington upbound.

We knew this was coming. The Miss Mae was pushing to office- or dormitory-type structures -- or whatever they were -- and it looked like she was steering mainly by radar. The wind was pretty brisk at times, and we wondered if that caused any additional problems steering this tow.

After the AEP Legacy passed our spot, we noticed it moved to one side of the river and almost stopped. That got us wondering if another boat was coming down. Yes, there was. The Tennessee Hunter, actually.

And that was about it on the river. The day was warm and cloudy. Traffic at West Virginia's largest mall, which is about 10 miles from Huntington, was nasty. You can have it.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A few photos from the simulator dedication

Here are some of the officials, as we call them in the news business, who were present for the dedication of the pilot simulator at Mountwest Community & Technical College in Huntington WV last week.

1. U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.
2. West Virginia State Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne County
3. MCTC President Keith Cotroneo
4. John Whiteley, executive director of workforce development at MCTC
5. Bill Smith, superintendent of Cabell County WV Schools

Here's Adam trying his hand at the controls:

The man in the background on the left is Jeff Topping, an instructor at the Inland Waterways Academy. He noticed Adam's hoodie with the letters "USMC" across the front and asked where Adam got it. Adam replied that he got it at Parris Island a little over a year ago when his older brother graduated from Marine Corps basic training. Mr. Topping said he is a retired Marine, so they talked a little about that.

John Whiteley again:

And this person, who did not attend the dedication but was in my living room waiting for me when I got home:

That's my granddaughter. She's the most beautiful girl ever born.

Whatever happened to ...

Here's something about an Ohio River town that maybe someone can provide an update on.

A Facebook friend shared this link about a ghost dealership in East Liverpool, Ohio. It's about a shuttered Chrysler-Plymouth dealership that has a couple of classic cars in the showroom still. The article quotes the building's owner as saying he has more classic vehicles (or what working class folks might consider classics in terms of being trucks they once drove) stored in another building. But he was interesting in selling them.

Interesting story, I thought, until I saw it was more than three years old. I did a quick search and found that the owner quoted in the story, Basil Mangano, died last year.

My question: Does anyone reading this blog know what happened to all those vehicles?

More in the new simulator

My employer has posted my piece from earlier in the week about the riverboat pilot training simulator at the Mountwest Community & Technical College's Inland Waterways Academy.

To fill in some blanks: The dedication ceremony was this past Tuesday at 3 p.m. Adam doesn't get off the school bus until around 4 or 4:30 (we live at the end of the route, so he gets on at 6 a.m.). I went to his school to pick him up so he could attend this ceremony and get a look at the simulator.

While there, he met U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and Bill Smith, superintendent of Cabell County Schools, which Adam attends. He sat through the speeches and watched as the bigwigs got to play with the simulator. Before we left, John Whiteley, the man in charge of the Inland Waterways Academy, offered to let Adam try his hand. Adam did, and performed well. Pilot simulators are his favorite video game, even more than Minecraft, where he has spent several days building an American Queen-type passenger boat.

Before we left, Capt. Whiteley talked with Adam for a while about various training options for a career on the river, whether it's by getting a job straight out of high school or even applying to the U.S. Maritime Academy.

That's the nice thing about river people: If a kid shows a genuine interest in their work, they will take the time to give advice.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Catching up on some news

Only in America?

The Olmstead Locks and Dam is still under construction, yet the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers has started the process of soliciting bids to rehabilitate the locks at a cost of $5 million to $10 million. Here is one article on the solicitation. Here is the original document.


For the latest look at whether the people of Cincinnati got a good deal by approving a sales tax increase to build stadiums to keep the Bengals and the Reds in town, check out this article by Bloomberg.


And here is another take on the controversy over shipping frackwater on the Ohio.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A new simulator

Today the Inland Waterways Academy at Mountwest Community and Technical College here in Huntington had a media availability and dedication of its new towboat pilot simulator.

Adam gave it a thumbs up. He did pretty good in a couple of tight spots in New Orleans, and he got some career advice from people at Mountwest about his river career ambitions.

More on this later. I was there to write a news article for my employer, and I don't want to scoop the folks who issue my paychecks. That article should be up on the web by the end of the week. I'll link to it when it's up.

Meanwhile, here's one media report on the event.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

$10K for recreation

A group in Pennsylvania wants to get enough online votes for a $10,000 grant to promote water-based recreation on the Ohio River in that state.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mercury in the Catskills

A new study indicates mercury from power plants and other industrial sources in the Ohio Valley could be contributing to mercury found in animals in the Catskill Mountains of New York state, and mercury concentrations in animals increases with elevation.

A summary of the article is here.

From the summary, the study does not specifically link mercury in the Catskills to the Ohio Valley. It does find a correlation between concentration and altitude.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Another boat gone down south

Someone sent this to me. I can't find a date on it.

Anyway, Adam and I have ridden this boat a few times, but no more, apparently. The sale doesn't surprise me. It seems ownership of some of these boats turns over pretty fast after the novelty wears off (for the customers as much as anyone else) and it's time for the owners to move on.

But what will we ride now to get on-the-river photo shoots in the Point Pleasant area? Surely someone will fill the void.

Science in the Ohio Valley

The abstract of this scientific study looks interesting, but I'm going to have to buy a new dictionary to understand it. Maybe then it would be worth $39 to buy the actual article. Or maybe not.


On a serious note, if you want to read the results of a study on the link between C8 (perfluorooctanoic acid, a synthetic chemical used since the late 1940s in manufacturing industrial and household products)from a DuPont plant near Parkersburg WV and cancer, check out this one.

From the abstract:

Participants (n=32,254) reported 2,507 validated cancers (21 different cancer types). ... PFOA exposure was associated with kidney and testicular cancer in this population.Because this is largely a survivor cohort, ndings must be interpreted with caution, especially for highly fatal cancers such as pancreatic and lung cancer.


And efforts are underway in Ohio to return the hellbender -- a large salamader -- to its native range in the Ohio Valley, now that the tributary streams it once inhabited are cleaner.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Three from October

Here are three photos I got during my two-day minivacation in October.

First, the remains of an abandoned coal tipple on a foggy morning.

Second, some guys fishing on the Ohio side of the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam. Over on this side of the river, people still call it by the old name of Gallipolis Locks and Dam, as they prefer their name on it and they as Ohioans feel no particular fondness for the late senator.

And here's one of my favorite boats -- the D.A. Grimm -- coming out of the Kanawha and heading down the Ohio.

It was a good day.