Monthly Archives: July 2016

USS Indianapolis

USS Indianapolis
The USS Indianapolis leaving San Francisco Bay

On the 30 July 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-58. The sinking of the Portland-class cruiser was the greatest single loss of life, at sea, in the history of the U.S. Navy.

Launched on November 7, 1931, and commissioned a year later, the Indianapolis was engaged in a training exercise at Johnston Atoll on the morning of December 7, 1941. After the New Guinea campaign, the Indianapolis would head to the Aleutian Islands, to take part in the shelling of the Japanese held island of Kiska.

After delivering some components, including the enriched uranium, for the atomic bomb that would be dropped on Hiroshima, the Indianapolis departed Guam for Leyte in the Philippines. She would not make it to Leyte. Two Japanese torpedoes intercepted the cruiser, and approximately 300 men went down with the ship. The sinking happened so quickly, that the desperate crew did not have time to get off a distress signal.

It is estimated that roughly 880 men went into the water, with a lucky few getting into life rafts. Even though the Indianapolis was expected in Leyte, no word was given that she did not arrive. By the time the Navy learned of the sinking, the sailors and Marines had been in the water for over three days. A PV-1 Ventura, flying an enemy sub patrol, spotted the oil slick, and then the men bobbing in the water. This was August 2, and by then over half of the men who entered the water had died. They had no food or water, unless they were lucky enough to find something floating among the debris. Hypothermia started to set in, flesh was rotting from the immersion in the water, some men suffered delirium and hallucinations, other drank the salt water. And there were the sharks. Most sharks fed on men that had already died, or that had floated away solo, but there is no doubt, that many men died from the shark attacks directly.

Lt. Adrian Marks commanded a PBY Catalina seaplane to the location. Upon seeing all of the sharks among the floating men, he set the plane onto the water, and taxied around picking up survivors. Marks later said that he made “…heart-breaking decisions”, as the crew singled out survivors that were floating alone or away from groups. “I decided that the men in groups stood the best chance of survival. They could look after one another, could splash and scare away the sharks and could lend one another moral support and encouragement.” In all, Marks and his crew would somehow manage to pull 56 men from the water, even strapping some to the plane’s wings.

The USS Indianapolis had a crew of 1196. 880 survived the torpedoes, of those only 321 came out of the water alive, with four later dying from their injuries after being rescued.

The Captain of the Indianapolis, Charles McVay, would face a court-martial. He was found guilty of “hazarding his ship by failing to zigzag”. The Japanese commander of I-58 testified that zigzagging would not have saved the ship. In fact, the Navy’s orders to McVay, were to “zigzag at his discretion, weather permitting”. Charles McVay would retire from the U.S. Navy in 1949 as a rear admiral. He took his own life in 1968 with his Navy service revolver.

The USS Indianapolis had been awarded 10 Battle Stars for its actions during WWII.

Survivors of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, in Guam – August 1945

Photo credit: United States Navy


Flamingo, FL
The marina at the southern end of the Everglades

Camera update: The Widelux has been claimed. With a little luck, I should see it returned by Christmas. Of 2017. #NoMoreBands

Revisit: Manatee Springs

Kayak at Manatee Springs
A kayaker paddling up to the Springs

A quote I found posted at the Springs:

“Having borrowed a canoe from some Indians, I visited a very great and most beautiful fountain or spring which boils up from between the hills about 300 yards from the river, throwing up great quantities of white small pieces of shells and white shell rock which, glittering through the limped eliment as they rise to the surface, subside and fall again round about on every side.
The bason of the fountain is nearly round and about 100 yards in circumferance. The banks round about of a moderate steep assent cover’d with broken white shell and the water gradually deepns to the center of the fountain, where it is many fathoms deep. The fountain is full of fish and alegators and at great depth in the water appear as plain as if they were close at hand.
The creek that runs from this immence fountain is above twenty yards wide and runs very swift into the river, carying its sea green transparent waters near 100 yards a cross the river, the depth of the water of the creek 10 of 12 feets—where we see a continual concourse of fish of various kinds such as garr, catfish, mullet, trout, bream of various species, silverfish and pike, and the monstrous amphabious maneta: A skeleton of which I saw on the bank of the spring, which the Indians had lately killed.
The hills that nearly incompassed the spring were about 15 or 20 yards in height next the river but the land falls away considerably from the top of the hills and becomes a lower flat or nearly levell forest of pine, oak, bay, magnolia, and cabbage trees. The soil of the hills a loose greyish sandy mold on shelly and limestone rocks. The water of the spring cool and agreeable to drink. The Indians and traders say this fountain vents the waters of the Great Alatchua Savanah.
—William Bartram, July 1774

Widelux Maintenance

Ft Zach Taylor Widelux III
Looking out over Florida Bay from the roof of Fort Zachary Taylor

The Widelux is a swing-lens panoramic camera. Eventually, the camera develops a “banding” issue, which this photo highlights extremely well. An alternating pattern of light and dark bands is transferred to the film. This happens when the swing-lens gets dirty, and the motion of the lens across the field of view, is no longer smooth. My Widelux was certainly due, considering that it was manufactured around 1965, and I have not had the camera professionally cleaned, and I have no idea if a previous owner had either.

The timing wasn’t great, because I had plans for the camera in August, but I called up a shop near Chicago on Friday that works on Widelux and they said that if I could get the camera to them by today, they thought the turn around could be fairly quick. I immediately sent the camera their way, and have watched the USPS tracking service online, only to see that no one has been around this week to sign for the insured package.

Which leaves my camera in postal service limbo.

So my question today is this: When exactly did customer service die its excruciating death? I realize that it has been on life support for some time, but when did we actually pull the plug?

This has been an incredibly busy week for me, which I’m thrilled about. The perfect weather has come at the perfect time. Unfortunately, it also means that I do not have a lot of time to call the camera shop several times a day to ask: “WTF?”

I’ll try one more time in the morning, then I will request that the USPS ship the camera back to me, so that I can ship it to another shop.

The Fortress

Ft Zach Taylor Widelux I
Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West

I had some film developed from the Florida trip that was shot with my Widelux. Sadly, no one develops film in Fairbanks any longer, so I had to send the rolls down to Anchorage. Great people down there luckily, and it’s a photo lab that I used to go to regularly.

Ft Zach Taylor Widelux II

As requested:

A Brownie & Flashcubes

Raspberry Time

Raspberries are in

The raspberries around the cabin are coming in, and they are getting thick.

“Analogue Renaissance”

Kodak Brings Back Super 8:

Kodak Super 8 Press Release

How have I not heard about this until now?

As a part of what they are calling Analogue Renaissance, Kodak will introduce a new Super 8 camera by the end of 2016. Kodak first introduced a Super 8 camera in 1965, and they have not produced one in 30 years. With the updated version, one can buy the film and processing together. Once the film has been shot, just drop it in the mail, and Kodak will process the film, mail you back the developed film, as well as scan it for you. The scanned version will be available right away, accessible via a passcode from The Cloud.

I’m positively giddy.

Kodak Super 8 film

“While any technology that allows for visual storytelling must be embraced, nothing beats film … The fact that Kodak is building a brand new Super 8 camera is a dream come true.”
—JJ Abrams

Graphics Credit: Kodak!

’48 F6

1948 Ford F6
1948 Ford F6

Here’s a ’48 two ton Ford that is said to have seen a lot of action during the pipeline days. I assume that it had some glass back then, before the vandals went to work on it. No word on whether the old Flathead runs, but the truck is a bit rough.

You may be in Fairbanks…

…when the main topic of conversation for the week is that the transfer station is getting a renovation.