Sunday, April 19, 2015

Swamp Base

Started in the summer of 2013, Swamp Base offers week-long high adventure treks through the Atchafalaya Swamp. Modeled from the Boy Scouts of America’s four National High Adventure camps and bases, Swamp Base will join the tradition of these pre-existing high adventure programs by offering a premiere camping and adventure opportunity for America’s 4.2 million Scouts.

The primary excursion of the high adventure program is Swamp Trek. Catering to Boy Scouts, Venturers, Varsity Scouts, Sea Scouts, and registered leaders, trek crews of Scouts will spend six days and six nights in Louisiana, kayaking 60-miles through the Atchafalaya Swamp. Designed to highlight adventure and the vastness of the swamp, Swamp Trek includes challenging tests of endurance and survival skills with specific lessons about the wetlands, cultures, and communities of South Louisiana, while at the same time promoting ecological conservation through an assortment of service learning activities.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Time to get out and do

With the nice weather I am becoming more and more restless.  Restless for new things to do and new experiences.  To that end I have been looking into some of the local hiking trails that I have never taken advantage of.  Granted I am thinking that I want to do some photography along the way and one of the first trails that has peaked my interest in The Long Point Trail.  It's rated moderate and is listed as 1.6 miles long.  I'm hoping to make a trip in the coming weeks and then over the year do more of the ones in the area.

I'll share the images from the trip and I hope that I get to take along some company.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

1200 Drowned in Ocean't Depths

At 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, the British ocean liner Titanic sinks into the North Atlantic Ocean about 400 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada. The massive ship, which carried 2,200 passengers and crew, had struck an iceberg two and half hours before.

On April 10, the RMS Titanic, one of the largest and most luxurious ocean liners ever built, departed Southampton, England, on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. The Titanic was designed by the Irish shipbuilder William Pirrie and built in Belfast, and was thought to be the world’s fastest ship. It spanned 883 feet from stern to bow, and its hull was divided into 16 compartments that were presumed to be watertight. Because four of these compartments could be flooded without causing a critical loss of buoyancy, the Titanic was considered unsinkable. While leaving port, the ship came within a couple of feet of the steamer New York but passed safely by, causing a general sigh of relief from the passengers massed on the Titanic‘s decks. On its first journey across the highly competitive Atlantic ferry route, the ship carried some 2,200 passengers and crew.

After stopping at Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown, Ireland, to pick up some final passengers, the massive vessel set out at full speed for New York City. However, just before midnight on April 14, the RMS Titanic failed to divert its course from an iceberg and ruptured at least five of its hull compartments. These compartments filled with water and pulled down the bow of the ship. Because the Titanic‘s compartments were not capped at the top, water from the ruptured compartments filled each succeeding compartment, causing the bow to sink and the stern to be raised up to an almost vertical position above the water. Then the Titanic broke in half, and, at about 2:20 a.m. on April 15, stern and bow sank to the ocean floor.

Because of a shortage of lifeboats and the lack of satisfactory emergency procedures, more than 1,500 people went down in the sinking ship or froze to death in the icy North Atlantic waters. Most of the 700 or so survivors were women and children. A number of notable American and British citizens died in the tragedy, including the noted British journalist William Thomas Stead and heirs to the Straus, Astor, and Guggenheim fortunes.

One hour and 20 minutes after Titanic went down, the Cunard liner Carpathia arrived. The survivors in the lifeboats were brought aboard, and a handful of others were pulled out of the water. It was later discovered that the Leyland liner Californian had been less than 20 miles away at the time of the accident but had failed to hear the Titanic‘s distress signals because its radio operator was off duty.

Announcement of details of the tragedy led to outrage on both sides of the Atlantic. In the disaster’s aftermath, the first International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea was held in 1913. Rules were adopted requiring that every ship have lifeboat space for each person on board, and that lifeboat drills be held. An International Ice Patrol was established to monitor icebergs in the North Atlantic shipping lanes. It was also required that ships maintain a 24-hour radio watch.

On September 1, 1985, a joint U.S.-French expedition located the wreck of the Titanic lying on the ocean floor at a depth of about 13,000 feet. The ship was explored by manned and unmanned submersibles, which shed new light on the details of its sinking.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

D&D Class - Ranger

One of my favorite classes in Dungeons and Dragons has been and likely always will be the Ranger.  Their are claims that the class was based on Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings but regardless of what it is based on it is a class that I enjoy playing.  5e describes them like this:

Rough and wild looking, a human stalks alone through the shadows of trees, hunting the orcs he knows are planning a raid on a nearby farm. Clutching a shortsword in each hand, he becomes a whirlwind of steel, cutting down one enemy after another. 
After tumbling away from a cone of freezing air, an elf finds her feet and draws back her bow to loose an arrow at the white dragon. Shrugging off the wave of fear that emanates from the dragon like the cold of its breath, she sends one arrow after another to find the gaps between the dragon’s thick scales.
Holding his hand high, a half-elf whistles to the hawk that circles high above him, calling the bird back to his side. Whispering instructions in Elvish, he points to the owlbear he’s been tracking and sends the hawk to distract the creature while he readies his bow.

Far from the bustle of cities and towns, past the hedges that shelter the most distant farms from the terrors of the wild, amid the dense-packed trees of trackless forests and across wide and empty plains, rangers keep their unending watch.
To me this class reminds me of my home and the people I grew up around.  Being from West Virginia I grew up in the woods, playing, hiking, exploring.  To me the class sums up the mountain men and the free minded spirit of my home.  It also speaks to the people who make a difference because they can not because they want to be thanked.

One of the re-occurring NPC's in the current campaign I run is Roland the Ranger.  He is an elf the party encountered early on guiding a group of merchants across the Dragon Teeth Mountains.  He always wore his hood and was always quiet, speaking only sparingly or when required to.  On their second encounter he had picked up a companion, a large worg named Wander. It wasn't until later that they learned Wander could speak and that Roland was disfigured.  Thought the party has not yet found out the truth of his scars.  They parted company with him a while back though they suspect he is involved in their recent adventures.

I won't give you his full info here, as it might give part of the story away to the party but I will share the inspiration that lead to the addition of Wander.  When we first started playing I kept a group of NPC's on hand and one day on of the group wanted to try and DM, so I agreed to solo adventure with him and let him try it out.  He didn't do a half bad job and for the trip I grabbed on of the NPC's I had, Roland.  As we were playing I was looking out our back door and our German Shepard came to stand by me and look out.  As I absently stroked her head the thought occured to me that Roland needed a companion.  I commented about it and the next time we did a solo adventure with me as the player Roland rescued a worg pup.  That pup became Wander, granted he is more than your average worg due to his time with Roland but what a pair they make.

A top a cliff in the distance as the Sea Stone makes port in the city of Goldvale Thorn glimpses a pair of figures.  He smiles as they seem to melt into the forest above the cliffs.  There was no mistake of who they were, only one being he knew was crazy enough to travel with a full grown worg and that would be Rolen Nailo, or Roland Nightbreeze as the locals called him.  When last they had seen him he had been in pursuit of slavers, no doubt the slavers wish he had never caught their scent.  "Stella," he roared across the deck to the halfling druid "The rocks have eyes...elvish ones."
Stella looked to the cliff but saw nothing of the vanished shapes that Thorn had seen.  "I wonder if he still likes to be scratched behind the ears?" she asked her self and they both smiled.  The others of their group looked a bit confused at the comments and went about their ship board duties. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

The design of the universe

At Serious Play 2008, astrophysicist George Smoot shows stunning new images from deep-space surveys, and prods us to ponder how the cosmos — with its giant webs of dark matter and mysterious gaping voids — got built this way.

Why you should listen:

George Smoot looks into the farthest reaches of space to the oldest objects in the known universe: fluctuations in the remnants of creation. Using data collected from satellites such as COBE and WMAP, scanning the cosmic microwave background radiation (a relic of the heat unleashed after the Big Bang), he probes the shape of the universe. In 1992 he and his Berkeley team discovered that the universe, once thought to be smooth and uniform at the largest scale, is actually anisotropic -- or varied and lumpy.

Smoot continues to investigate of the structure of the universe at the University of California at Berkeley, mapping billions of galaxies and filaments of dark matter in hope of uncovering the secrets of the universe's origins.