Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sub Correction

In my last post I mentioned that we had seen a nuclear submarine on our recent fishing venture out on Puget Sound. I need to make a slight correction, however.

When I told a friend, who is a high-ranking Naval officer, about our incredible sighting, he of course was aware of the situation. He said the submarine we likely saw was the USS Ohio, originally a vessel capable of carrying nuclear warheads but that had been scheduled to be retired in 2002.

In the late ‘90’s, the Navy decided to convert the nuclear-capable sub to one which would instead carry a load of cruise missiles with conventional warheads (like the Tomahawk or other similar weaponry). However, she would remain nuclear powered.

The Ohio recently completed its three-year rebuild, and it went so well that many more are undergoing similar changes. In fact it’s resulted in a category of subs aptly named the “Ohio Class,” which now has more than a dozen ships. The photo above shows the Ohio getting its makeover.

I mentioned that that the sub we saw appeared to be quite large. She is – stretching almost two football fields in length and having a girth half as wide as a cruise ship. “Ohio class” vessels are the largest category of subs in our Navy. The Russians have a class that is slightly larger.

The correction that needs to be made is that I thought she still carried nuclear weapon capabilities. Not true anymore. Now, she can only wreak havoc on a few city blocks at a time or on an enemy military convoy – but with precision accuracy.

“Ohio class” subs are the ones featured in recent Tom Clancy books (at least one of which became a movie), The Sum of All Fears and Debt of Honor.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Where Is The Run Of Ocean Silvers?

My son Doug and I took our Arima boat out on Puget Sound yesterday – again to no avail.

Where are the silvers?

Twice now, the ocean-grown silvers (coho salmon) have been reported “on the way”. Our key for this is the catch count in Sekiu, about 100 miles to the west, on the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

Two weeks ago the catch count there suddenly spiked, and we thought the run was coming. Usually, the coho begin assembling in the Sound around September 15, so we thought maybe it’s an early arrival this year. Wrong.

Then again late last week the reports came in that Sekiu had once again picked up. So we thought we’d give it a shot.

We fished the incoming tide hard for almost five hours. I even left the cooler in the car and didn’t take the camera to hopefully not jinx anything. Didn’t help.

However, we did see an extremely rare sight. One of the Navy’s Nuclear Trident Submarines was conducting maneuvers (or just cruising) a mile or two off to our portside, accompanied by two Coast Guard escorts. And I had left the camera at home! I was amazed at the ship’s length and sleek, sloping lines. She’s one beautiful sight, albeit a lethal one. She carries enough missile power to approximate dozens of Hiroshimas.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


This past May our eldest granddaughter, Talli, traveled to Japan on a short-term student exchange program. She stayed with the Kata family in the rural town of Wadayama, northwest of Osaka.

Yesterday, her Asian counterpart, Miu Kata, arrived in Oregon to spend about a week with Talli and her family. And being weekend, already today they are traveling in the Northwest, to mainly enjoy a Seattle Mariners baseball game tomorrow against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Of course Mariners center fielder Ichiro Suzuki, Japan’s most popular Major Leaguer. and catcher Kenji Johjima will be the players of interest for Miu.

That’s Miu, Talli and Hayley (just back from her India venture), left to right in the pic above, just after they arrived here earlier this evening. Five-year-old Aubrey and their mom Elaine also came. They’ll all spend the night with us tonight and then head to the game late tomorrow morning where they’ll meet up with Miu’s full group of Exchange students who will travel tomorrow morning to Seattle from Oregon.

Seattle, of course, is the closest Major League city to this country of 3,000 islands. Today, baseball has become the most popular sport in Japan, even ahead of sumo wrestling. Nippon (the Japanese word for Japan) has its own professional baseball, with a total of 12 teams in their two leagues. Many of these extremely talented players, like Suzuki and Johjima, are sprinkled throughout the Major Leagues.

Next week Miu will attend school with Talli and take part in the normal family activities. I’m sure they’ll do their share of other fun things as well. Miu already has been exposed to the “American Mall” as they made a several-hour stop today on their way here. I’m discovering there’s not a much higher priority for two teenagers, even though they’re from very different cultures.

Welcome to America, Miu.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Passing The Faith To The Next Generation

Our church’s new Director of Faith Formation, Paul Davis, and the Rev. Alison Shane, our associate Pastor most responsible for youth, kicked off a new church-wide program today called SPLASH.

Church doors are thrown wide open at 2:30pm each Monday for four to six hours of interaction – by ministers, staff, church leaders and church members of all ages, with the focus on students.

The program is intended to facilitate the overall goal of having grandparents and parents “pass on the faith” to their kids and grandkids. This mentoring/discipleship environment hopefully fosters the worthy objective of teaching the faith to the next generation

The picture above shows a parent helping her high school daughter and other students with a school assignment. Mentoring is one of the integral ingredients of SPLASH, as parents volunteer their time to help students. As an outreach, students (and parents) from the community are invited to participate where they feel comfortable, especially in study hours and recreation time.

The Christian (multipurpose) Center is open for basketball, volleyball, floor hockey, ping-pong and other fun games. The church library is open for study and mentoring. From 4 to 5pm various youth music groups practice, and from 5-6pm a number of self-formed groups explores Christian education topics of interest.

At 6 pm a church-wide dinner is held followed by a time of singing and fun (picture above). At 7pm, “Head-To-Heart”, the current confirmation class, meets for instruction, while adults may choose from a number of adult Bible classes.

The first-time event was a wonderful success. It’s a working experiment in progress. We’re watching with great interest to see how SPLASH provides new opportunities to “pass on the faith”. My wife and I have decided to be a part of SPLASH as we are able (that’s Kay Lynne, above, with three wonderful pre-schoolers this afternoon).

Guess Monday night football doesn't make the cut in the scramble of Fall priorities.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Another Glimpse of Hayley’s India Ministry

Two posts ago, I wrote of the incredible “blossoming” of our 10-year-old granddaughter Hayley during her venture to India last month with her dad.

Of course they’re back at home now, and more and more pictures from the trip are emerging. The photo above shows Hayley literally surrounded by her new friends at the girls’ home in Dharwad.

You can see the sheer joy on her face as she experiences what it means to love and be loved by those far less fortunate in a culture totally different from hers. The photo was taken on the last evening of the team’s visit to Dharwad when the Indian girls showered Hayley with handmade gifts they had crafted just for her – a necklace, bangles and ear rings.

My son Gregg said that in many ways on this trip he watched his daughter “grow up before my eyes”. It’s true – Hayley is a more grown up young lady now, thanks to her mission half-way around the world. We pray God’s touch on her will be life-long.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Wish This Coulda Been a Fish Story

I finally got the Arima out on Puget Sound yesterday, and we went straight to Point-No-Point, a spot where it had been reported there were plenty of Pinks and increasing numbers of Coho.

Not yesterday.

Among all the boats doing the same thing we were, we only saw one fish caught. Admittedly, the atmospheric pressure had changed overnight, and we had to deal with clouds, a wisp of fog, and rain. But did that send the fish away?

Our church’s faith formation director, Paul Davis, and my good friend Steve Holzhey, also from church, were my fishing buds for the day. We threw everything we had at the wily creatures, all to no avail. The bait balls were there, and so were the birds. Where were the fish?

Paul was the only one who had a salmon on (we think), but it spit the hook. And, oh yeah, we got one of those infamous dog fish (an immature shark).

In spite of all, it was an enjoyable day out in the briny air of the Sound (along with a few exhaust fumes), albeit no salmon. Pic above is part of the Eglon waterfront, about three miles south of where we were fishing.

I probably should have asked our Pastor Don Jukam, a former Navy Chaplain, to appropriately bless the boat before taking it out for the first time this season.