Rik van Hemmen's blog

My wife posted this picture on my Facebook page. I copy it here because the picture made me think, and that led me right into a patent and copyright approach that I have been toying with for a number of years.

 

First of all, I could not figure out where the picture came from (who owns it), but if I am infringing a copyright please let me know and I will sort things out. Interestingly my idea is an improvement on the concept in the picture, and therefore may skirt copyright issues. Regardless, I very strongly believe in reasonable intellectual property rights.  read more »

Rik van Hemmen's picture
Monday, October 9th, 2017

Surveying Tools

In a recent blog, I discussed laser scanning as a surveying tool. That made me think of all the tools that surveyors carry in their proverbial tool bag today.

 

Surveying equipment used to be pretty simple when Francis A. Martin did his thing in 1875. We still use Francis A. Martin’s stuff, although often in improved versions, but, boy, has the list grown.

 

Writing blogs is fun, since it allows me to ponder the subject while I write about. I thought I was going to discuss the growth in surveying tools, but in writing the list, I noticed that in the last 10 years the smartphone has revolutionized the marine surveying field too. It is amazing how many marine surveying measurements and recordings can be made with a smartphone. A smartphone truly is starting to beat a Star Trek tricorder.

 

1875. Francis A. Martin’s tool bag:

 

1.            Pocket notebook (we still have some that he used). The neatest ones today are Wetnotes, but they are never easy to find)

 

2.            Pencil. But we also have some pocket notebooks where he used a fountain pen. Today only Wayne occasionally uses a fountain pen, but we have a favored mechanical pencil in the 0.7mm Bic Velocity. 

 

3.            A surveying hammer. I have a fancy Japanese one on my office shelves. We certainly don't get to take it on the plane. Often a tool that we can get in the yard when needed (it generally is a chipping hammer).

 

4.            A piece of chalk. Today we more often use spray cans and sharpies, but a crayon or a piece of chalk still is nice.

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When I joined Martin & Ottaway, Harry Ottaway told me that Francis Martin used a horse and carriage to be dropped off at the various surveys.

 

Roy Kanapaux, a surveyor that still worked with Martin & Ottaway in the early eighties (at age 80!) and whom I met when I visited my father at the office, never had a driver’s license and used cabs to get him to jobs. In the last few years that became difficult because there were certain areas of the New York waterfront where cabbies would drop you off, but not pick you up when you called from a pay phone.

 

I myself started with Martin & Ottaway when we just acquired personal 35mm compact cameras. Before that we shot in 110 format (ugh) or, much nicer, by means of a shipyard professional photographer. Today, digital photography is really just too cool, and since a picture tells a thousand words, emailing a picture is often much easier in trying to describe a complex problem than words alone.  

 

It can be argued that surveyors will adopt any technology that makes their life easier, and I suppose there is nothing wrong with that. We still occasionally use our ultrasonic hatchcover tester, not too long ago some surveyors tried rappelling gear for tank inspections and now we are messing with drones. All fun stuff, but, of all the new stuff, I like laser scanning best, because it accomplishes a task that I could not effectively perform before. read more »

During our MAX1 study effort we focused on optimal environmental operational practices, but after we issued our MAX1 final report, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation asked us to perform a follow-up study that focused more tightly on operating costs.

 

In the initial effort we avoided this task, because we felt that it would be near impossible to come up with a simple answer. However, Hannah van Hemmen was intrigued by the question and decided to give it a shot. 

 

She collected cost data but knew that cost data by itself does not provide an economics case and she also needed to balance the cost data against the economic benefit of compliance and this is where things became really complicated.

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This is a somewhat longer blog, but anybody who has spend more than a second thinking about installing roof top solar should read this story. It provides real life details about how to fit and finance residential roof top solar in NJ. I am a card carrying solar energy nut, but never thought that acquiring roof top solar could be this easy and be such a good deal. 

 

This winter our neighbors to the south took out two huge pin oaks and we went from a completely shady backyard to a sunny backyard. Our cape style house has the roof ridge aligned North/South, which is not great for solar, but the back of the cape roof has a large shed roof that actually is a little too flat for perfect.  That roof got a leak and I started efforts to get the roof fixed.

 

While talking to a roofing contractor I realized that the roof is now quite sunny. So I called my friend Nancy Makofka who has had a solar roof for years. She told me to call Sea Bright Solar. Sea Bright Solar is a local roof top solar supplier and their salesman happened to be only a few miles from our house when I called. read more »

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Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Brilliant Black

My friend Danny had to take his Black Jack wooden inboard Jersey sea skiff to the Sea Bright NJ Marine Police Barracks to get it titled. David's Diesel Jeep Cherokee lease was almost up and it had not yet towed anything of substance. Furthermore, it was a nice day, which made it unfair for my dog Harris to just sit beneath my desk or mooch biscuits from Marianne.

 

So I decided to put it all together and compose it as a "Study in Brilliant Black".

 

 

Three black things and all brilliant in their own way.

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Concern over global warming is valid. Global warming almost certainly will result in instabilities that, at best, will be less than convenient, and, at worst, devastating.

 

However, as an engineer, I am frustrated that we tend to confuse causes, effects and solutions of global warming.

 

Causes, effect and solutions are all related and rationally engaging those issues is called problem solving.

 

From an engineering point of view, almost always, and if it can be achieved, a problem can be most effectively solved by removing the cause.

 

And the cause of global warming is simple: We are unnecessarily destabilizing our Earth by releasing way too much CO2 into the atmosphere.

 

It seems to me that everybody is prognosticating as to what the effects of that may be, but no matter what may happen, the solution is always the same.

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With the first few fully certified Ballast Water Treatment systems now on the market, shipowners are slowly drifting into the purchase phase of compliance.

 

In the near future, a mechanical Ballast Water Treatment system will now need to be retrofitted on all large ships and ship’s crew will have a new piece of equipment that will need to be operated, monitored, and maintained.

 

Many equipment suppliers have invested their hearts, souls and hard earned dollars in designing and certifying Ballast Water Treatment Systems and now these systems will see the hard test of real life operation. In the simplest terms, this story played out on Oily Water Separators, and quite possibly there are some lessons to be learned from the OWS implementation history.

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Martin & Ottaway has been involved in dozens of capsize investigations. Capsizes are strange events because the cause of a capsize can be difficult to determine.

 

There may be clear incidents of negligence with regard to capsizes, but, in our experience, about half of the world's capsizes strike like lightning on a clear day, and are totally unexpected. Then the analysis and cause determination becomes quite complex and often tracks back far in time.

 

Often there is fingerpointing, but it often loses track of the actual cause of the incident. One such incident that we worked on was the Ethan Allen in 2005 on Lake George.

 

The vessel capsized in mostly normal operating conditions with passengers aboard and loss of life. The analysis indicated that there were a number of factors at work which, together, interlinked to result in the subject incident and there was a red herring.

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Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Jim's 75th Birthday Lunch at Juanito's

Everybody was in town and so we got a chance to properly celebrate Jim's 75th birthday.

 

Mariner for over 55 years

Married to Paula over 50 years

Martin and Ottaway for 24 years

Way to go!