Retire Early … And Often

This is a collection of my autobiographical writings. They are hosted on WUWT, also known as Watts Up With That, a marvelous site that should be on everyone’s reading list. WUWT is where I publish my scientific writings.

They are in the order in which they were written, which is far from the order of occurrence.

I’ve opened the comments on this page, but if it turns to personal abuse I’ll shut them down. I did what I did, and yes, I made mistakes in my life. Lots of mistakes. I discuss some of them below. Let he who is without mistakes cast the first stone.

Enjoy,

w.

It’s Not About Me 2011-02-28

One response to Christopher Booker graciously mentioning my work in the Telegraph is the predictable increase in the usual personal attacks on me, as opposed to attacking my ideas and claims. People are rehashing Tim Lambert calling me a liar because he disagreed with my methods, as though that meant…

Would You Give This Man a Ride? 2011-10-17

As I mentioned in my last post, I’d planned to hitchhike for a couple days. My plan was to hitch up to Grant’s Pass, Oregon to go to the bachelor party for a good friend. This is the guy who was instrumental in my getting a job a couple years…

Ranger Rick 2012-02-26

I’ve had the privilege of living in a wide variety of countries and societies. And having not always been entirely sane myself, one way that I judge societies is by how they handle their crazy folks. “Back in the day”, as they say, I lived in a town called Olema,…

The Playa – Willis’ Excellent Adventure 2012-09-09

This isn’t the normal fare for WUWT, and I had some reservations initially about publishing a piece by Willis about “Burning Man”, fearing it would have tales of wicked debauchery, and irrational topics like crystal healing, bead therapy, and cannabis cures. As most pieces by Willis usually are, I found it entertaining in a “Mad…

Modern Piracy 2012-12-29

Well, folks have been asking me about my autobiography. It’s not done. Dunno what to say except that writing about my life is a long and slow task, partly because of the variety in my life, partly because there’s no surprises ’cause I’ve heard the whole thing so it gets…

Between The Warm And The Wild 2013-02-09

People have been encouraging me to write a book of my experiences, and so I’ve chosen to do so in bits and pieces. We’ve been discussing the vagaries of those astonishing emergent phenomena known as wild animals, so let me continue the theme. When I was a kid on the…

Bird Language 2013-02-10

One fine day, after exhausting my meager means and concluding that my hopes of being struck by financial lightning were as ungrounded as Ben Frankin’s kite, I found myself yielding to exigency. “Exigency”, as far as I can tell, is from a Latin word meaning “out of money again”. So…

Tropical Crime and Punishment 2013-02-11

People sometimes ask how I learned so much about coral atolls and islands. It’s because for three years in the late ’80s I lived in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, a coral island in the South Pacific. I was the Manager of the island, the company…

Even Scientists Need Love 2013-02-14

It being Valentines Day and all, I thought I’d write a Valentine message about the woman I generally describe as my “gorgeous ex-fiancee”, my wife of 35 years this November. I thought I’d say a few words about her and how we got married … because as is usual in…

Home Invasion 2013-02-15

Since our gracious host Anthony Watts has kindly turned a portion of the arts and entertainment section of WUWT over to me for the four-day weekend while he takes some well-earned time with his family, while I have the microphone I wanted to start by acknowledging him for what he has…

Freighted With Memories 2013-02-16

In my mind, freight trains have always held some kind of special mojo. As a kid, I’d read about them, and sung about them. I loved the story, “The Boxcar Children”. I’d seen freight trains, and I’d always wanted to ride them, but at the exalted age of twenty-two years,…

The Missing Cashbox and the Nguru Patrol 2013-02-16

The South Pacific is a marvelous place for characters, it attracts them and magnifies them the same way it magnifies all the tales and rumors. After while I developed Willis’s Rule of Rumors, which is that you need to divide all the numbers in a story about some other island…

Blackmailing the Japanese Ambassador 2013-02-17

I got to talking and laughing with my lovely lady today about old Billy Bennett. Billy was a rascal and a rogue and an erstwhile killer of men and a gentleman, another of those odd folk one finds in the Solomon Islands. Billy was born the same year as my…

The Captain’s Daughter 2013-02-18

I come by my storytelling habits honestly, mostly I credit my grandmother for my love of a well-turned tale. I grew up way out in the woods, on a cattle ranch surrounded by forest. With no TV and little radio, in my earliest memories there were always stories—tales of derring-do,…

Gold Fever 2013-02-20

I first met my friend Mel in the Army nuthouse. I wrote about him before, and the nuthouse, in a piece called “It’s Not About Me“. I hadn’t seen him for a couple months. One day he blew into Santa Cruz. He said he’d met an old man up in…

Fishing the Mighty Kenai 2013-02-22

When I was 62, I had the great pleasure of working once again in Alaska. I love Alaska, I’ve starved and frozen there, worked there many times. I’ve also made good money there, and it’s always been piles of fun. I was finishing up as the Construction Manager of about…

Behind Bars Again 2013-02-24

I’ve written about my time in the US Army, and about spending time behind bars getting out of the Army, in my story called It’s Not About Me. In that story, I discussed a bit of my view on the Vietnam war, the view echoed by many who have studied…

Old Bill Rises From The Dead 2013-03-01

I’ve written about a South Pacific reprobate I called “Old Bill” before in my tale called Modern Piracy. He was a con man of the highest order. As a friend remarked, most con men tell a story so good you believe it without question. Bill’s problem was that he told…

The Native Sun 2013-03-03

After I left Clayton’s place in 1971, following my motto of “Retire Early … And Often”, I retired for a while. It was good fun, but as usual, impending hunger eventually called me out of retirement, and I went looking for work. I walked the docks looking for a fishing job. I searched in Bodega…

I Have It Made In Alaska 2013-03-05

In the fall of 1964 I started college at the University of California at Berkeley, but I hated it. I lasted one year, and as soon as school let out in June of 1965 I went to Alaska to seek my fortune. My cousin and I had heard that fishermen…

In Which We Kidnap Reagan, And He Wins Anyway! 2013-03-10

After I got out of the Army, I became involved in the anti-war movement as well as the other main causes of the time, women’s rights and racial equality. We’d go out and do street theater, we’d march, we printed broadsides that I cringe to remember and thankfully have no…

Dancing Lessons 2013-08-31

Well, as Bokonon said, “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God”. So as a result of the usual mix of misconceptions and coincidences, we’ve got the house-sitter to stay in the house when we’re gone, and the ladies and I are going to England. The ladies, in this case, are my gorgeous ex-fiancée and…

Get Your Kicks In Stepney 2013-09-03

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach. WARNING: This post contains no scientific content of any kind, just a story of our travels. So we made it to London, a place that up ’til now I’ve only known through family stories, and books and song lyrics, viz: Your old man took her diamonds and tiaras by the…

Going Around In Great Circles 2013-09-05

I’m sure many people know this, but a “great circle” is a circle that goes clear around the entire globe, and whose center is at the center of the globe. A “meridian”, on the other hand, is a great circle that passes through the poles. Lines of longitude are meridians,…

Rolling With The Sarsen Stones 2013-09-06

I woke up this morning in London to a gentle rain, and was reminded of a comment by Mark Twain. When Twain was living in the UK, a couple of his friends from the US were out to his house to tea. A week later, he writes to someone else:…

How You Get There 2013-09-07

Today seemed to be about modes of transportation—cars and boats and trains. We rolled out early to go to Bath, and met up with a quintessential charming publican, Nick Luke, in a village near Bath with the lovely British name of Limpley Stoke. He suggested a slight detour to see…

The Call Of The Running Tide 2013-09-08

I spent the afternoon in the port city of Liverpool, walking the docks. Here’s the view from one point, a panorama running from sunshine on the right and grading into rain on the left, looking across the Mersey (click to enlarge). As a seaman, there’s not much I’d rather do…

In Which We Visit The Neo-Lithic 2013-09-10

People are all aflutter demanding that the governments around the world step in and do something, anything, about the eventual end of oil and fossil fuels. It reminds me of the old saying, The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones! However, now that I’m in the…

The Romans Be Stylin’ 2013-09-11

As we were driving north today from the Lake District, we passed through the town of Troutbeck, and I was reminded how much of my knowledge of the UK derives from songs and poetry. In this case the song was: D’ye ken John Peel, wi’ his coat so gray? He…

The Wheel Of Fortune 2013-09-14

Due to good fortune and the WUWT readership, we got the chance to not only see the Falkirk Wheel, but to take a ride on it … what a marvelous piece of Scottish engineering. No wonder the engineer on the Starship Enterprise was “Scotty” … here’s the wheel, …

Scots, Scottish, and Scotch 2013-09-17

Edinburgh is not only enough to confuse your average humanoid. It drives the GPS crazy. Why? Because the city exists on two levels, one of which is about fifty feet (fifteen metres) above the other. It’s bizarre. We’d be driving along the street, following the directions from Google Earth on…

It Isn’t A Good Britain, It’s A Great Britain 2013-09-20

After heavy rain during the night, we rolled south from Edinburgh in sporadic showers through the land of the giant bird shredders … I stopped to look at them. I’d not been up close to one in a decade or so, and like my daughter, oh, my how they’ve grown…

Catching My Breath 2013-09-23

I thought I’d write about something a bit different, still about science, but of another kind. When I was sixty-three, I had the curious experience of getting my heart and lungs and all tested to the max by the doctors. They shot my veins full of drugs and made way…

Who Is Your Favorite Cardiologist? 2013-11-10

Well, it’s been a most unusual week on my planet. On Tuesday, I went to my doctor about some recurring chest pain I’d been having. He gave me an EKG and a complete physical. He told me that there had been some changes since my last EKG (in 1985), and…

Fishing Bootstrap Style 2013-11-11

Well, my recent adventures with the stent have put me in a reflective mode, and for some reason, I got to thinking about night fishing. In the late eighties, the gorgeous ex-fiancee and I lived for three years right on the beach in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands…

My Friend Billy 2014-04-18

(Note – I saved this for the weekend, when people who might read this would likely be more relaxed. This is not the usual fare for WUWT, but it is something that is revealing, enlightening, entertaining, and educational, while at the same time sad and sunny all at once. If you want science, skip this…

Boat Delivery 2014-08-01

Last night I turned to the gorgeous ex-fiancee and said “Man, I can’t believe I’m shipping out to sea again! I thought I would have learned my lesson by now”. She just laughed. So, up at 4:15 AM and rolling at 5 through the foggy vineyards of Sonoma to the…

Anchors Aweigh At Last 2014-09-03

(Part 3 of the voyage, see also Part 1 and Part 2) … In the morning, the Captain drove the thirty miles back to Campbell River and bought a used outboard, a 6 horsepower Sailmaster he’d heard about yesterday. It’s perfect for the dinghy, it will give us freedom in the ports…

Fetching the Tow Boat 2014-09-03

A week or two ago I started the tale of my most recent voyage, as first mate on a fishing boat delivery from northern Vancouver Island to Oregon … difficulty factor: we needed to use the fishing boat to tow a 30′ (9 metre) trimaran. (A “trimaran” is a boat…

The Strait of Juan de Fuca 2014-09-04

(Part 4 of the voyage, see also Part 1, Part 2 , and Part 3) …Up early and we’re off for Galiano Island, where the Captain has a good friend he wants to visit. Well, actually, like me he wants to take advantage of the good weather to run south … but we’re going…

Gray 2014-09-06

(Part 5 of the voyage, see also Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3, and Part 4) … After going to sleep at sea just outside Cape Flattery, with a clear night, stars, and miles of visibility, I woke up to this … Overcast and fog. And calm. The Straits of Juan de Fuca had been a…

Da Train, Boss, Da Train 2014-09-07

(Final part of the voyage, see also Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5) The early morning bus dropped me off in Salem, Oregon, where I find out that the Friday train is $60 cheaper than the Thursday train. Friday fits my schedule better, so I decide to spend the day…

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22 thoughts on “Retire Early … And Often

  1. I find you a very intertesting fellow.. We are about the same age and journeyed down different paths saw many of the same events and come to similar conclusions. I would love to connect with you via email to share some of these epiphanies from a different lens. You have my email address so if you are so inclined reply.. I would expect you to remove this unwarranted advance for a private audience..

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  2. Just tried to register to ‘follow’ you but I’m being told my email address is wrong (it isn’t) or have I ‘forgotten my password’…… not sure how I could forget a password that I haven’t been able to register!

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    • Jane, thanks for the note. I think you have to register with WordPress to follow anyone on wordpress. if you don’t have a wordpress account you need to register, pick a password, the usual.

      Best regards, thanks for your perseverance.

      w.

      Like

  3. You may find this interesting.

    When the National Bird Is a Burden

    Bald eagles have been the emblem of the United States for more than
    two centuries. Now, in some parts of the country, they’re a nuisance

    Like

  4. Very impressed with your site and postings .I have daily followed (and saved in word } Urban Survival ,WUWT ,Armstrong Economics , McCanney Science since 2008. Have allways been curiouse about understanding everything. Retired in 2009 at 67 years after 34 years electrical control design(switchgear protection and transformer tapgear and controls.Have logged 1000hrs commercial pilot licence.Am going for medical tomorrow to reinstate licence. After 16 years BP of 160+/90 have got it as low as 106/50 and always below 130/74 since removing 2 amalgam at cost of $3000.00 .
    Check out Robert Kennedys Mercury prodject site.
    Terry Harnden WPG MB R3G1Z7
    204 774-9324

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  5. Willis, I suspect we are of the same vintage and operate off similar lifelong scaffolding and balance. I do enjoy your postings almost as much as the first morning coffee. Carry on, sir!

    -the old man
    NotOnMyWatch.com

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  6. Willis

    The link to your CV on the “About This Site” page does not work. It goes to this page on Firefox.

    “File not found

    Sorry, that file doesn’t live here anymore. It might have been moved or made private. ”

    Thanks….JW

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  7. Up here in Gualala, we find many obsessing about sea level rise. Our local paper featured information that the rate of sea level rise was 3.4 mm per year, which resulted from a rate doubling after 1990. I have been studying the PSMSL global tide gauge records, and the NOAA charts of tide gauge records, and it struck me that almost none in the Pacific region even approached 3.4 mm per year, and looking at the NOAA charts, that all were charted as a straight line, and that none showed any acceleration after 1990 – or after any year, for that matter. In fact, the tide gauge information globally showed average sea level rise of 1 mm per year, or four inches per century. We are inundated by San Francisco Bay Area predictions of five feet of sea level rise by 2100, but at the rates I see, that total won’t be reached until 3600, just in time for the next glacial to begin its 100,000-year period. I don’t have any Excel charting skills, but it would be interesting to see what a chart looked like with 1.7 mm per year sea level rise for 100 years, and then a doubling to 3.4 mm per year starting in 1990. It would have to look quite different from the twenty-five charts NOAA charts I’ve studied from the Pacific region. Alice and I enjoyed meeting you in Las Vegas, and we hope all is well for you and yours in Occidental. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020095850.htm

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  8. Willis, I have not read much of your life story from this site, but quite a few from WUWT. You have set me a task (an enjoyable one that I look forward to) to read all the above.

    One question: Are you still active as a Radio Amateur?

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  9. All in all, it was a pretty brutal time for people living the state, back when Alaska was really cold. It’s fortunate that they made tough people back then, and Alaska is full of them. You’d have to say that it was a bad, cold year overall, 2012 … I’m just glad the world is warmer now.

    The source document is here.

    w.

    PS—don’t bother telling me that weather is not climate … because that’s exactly what I’m pointing out, isn’t it. My main issue is that if January 2012 in Alaska had been 14°F above the average, we’d never have heard the end of it … but 14°F below average attracted little notice at all.

    Your words above quoted as per your request, all the dripping sarcasm void of intellectual content included. As we, Jack & Barbra Donachy pointed out originally, you present yourself as one in denial. Parsing over whether or not you were quoted exactly, or how we sign off notwithstanding, your overall tenet is wrong. The planet is warming. Humankind does have an impact on this. But we do understand that in order to publish with the people you publish with, you can’t admit actual science into your thinking. And so you seek diversion in insisting that you are quoted to the letter, or you pick on how people identify themselves. What does your president say? Sad.

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    • Good heavens, Jack and Barbra, so young and yet so bitter …

      It’s not clear at all to me just what your objection to what I wrote might be. It is also totally unclear where or what you “pointed out originally”. It certainly wasn’t on this thread … you obviously think I have some clue who you are. In fact, I have written over 600 posts, most of them with a couple hundred comments. I make no attempt to memorize who said what, particularly since the majority are posted by people under an alias.

      So while you likely did point out something “originally” … where? And what?

      Next, yes, the planet is warming. It has been doing so for about three centuries … and?

      And yes, it’s possible that humans have had an effect on some part of that three centuries of warming … but where and how much is not at all clear.

      As to whether I “can’t admit actual science into [my] thinking”, say what? I have over 60 citations of my work in the scientific journals … how about you two? Plenty of citations to your scientific work out there in the journals, is there?

      Regarding whether I “seek diversion in insisting that [I am] quoted to the letter”, I insist that everyone is quoted to the letter. I do that not to “seek diversion”, but because I and others have been misquoted and misrepresented over and over again by charming folks like yourselves. It gets old …

      Next, you say I

      “pick on how people identify themselves”

      … I have no idea where or what you are talking about. ACCUSATIONS LIKE THIS VERY ONE OF YOURS are exactly why I insist that I am “quoted to the letter”. I do it because I’m fed up with unpleasant people like you attacking me without pointing out what they are attacking me about. Obviously, you don’t like something I said sometime somewhere … BUT WHAT DID I ACTUALLY SAY?

      I can defend my own words. I cannot defend your version of unknown words you claim I said.

      Finally, what does “my president” say? He says that he’s your president too even though you can’t bear to admit it … and he also says it’s lunacy to put your trust in untested computer climate models when the best computer models can’t predict the next season, much less the next year …

      w.

      PS—Am I speaking to Jack, or to Barbra? And why on earth are you signing on as two people? That’s just bizarre. How about one of you stands up and takes responsibility for your words?

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      • Not so young, but thanks. And not at all bitter. Our point is, you’re wrong about virtually every aspect of this issue (Climate Change.) Look, the reason cold weather is Alaska in the past was not news was Not due to some conspiracy you seem to imagine. It’s because it was cold… In Alaska. Not news. Note that this year, with cold sweeping the lower 48, it IS news. No conspiracy. Just reporters and scientists reporting and observing. You should join them. You’re wrong, you’ve been wrong and no number of ad hominem remarks about age, your perception of our state of happiness, or how we sign off changes that. Get outside and look around, maybe? Have a good 2018. We do mean that.

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        • Jack, or Barbra:

          If you wish to refute something I’ve said, you need to do two things.

          First, you have to QUOTE MY EXACT WORDS. I can defend my words. I cannot defend what you airily wave your hands and declare is my position. For example, I don’t recall saying anything about a “conspiracy” as you claim twice. In general, I don’t think that the misunderstandings about climate are due to any “conspiracy” of any kind. That’s all you.

          So I have no idea what you are talking about, except to note that you seem obsessed with conspiracies …

          Second, once you have QUOTED MY EXACT WORDS, then you need to show us just what is wrong with them. Exactly where is the error? What did I say that wasn’t true?

          You have done neither of these. Instead, you’ve repeated the claim that I’m wrong in fifty ways … so what? It is far from adequate to simply claim that I’m wrong, over and over ad nauseum.

          Instead, you need to SHOW that I’m wrong … and to date, you haven’t even taken the first step towards doing that.

          Regards,

          w.

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          • Relax, Willis. If you are a climate warming denier, you’re position is wrong. If you accept the preponderance of science and recognize that the world is getting warmer and humans are playing a role in that, then you’re on the right track. When you refer to us as “so young” (your words; exact quote) you leave yourself open to the possibility that many of your observations are inaccurate. If you weren’t putting forth some sort of “the press won’t cover this” conspiracy theory in your article about a cold year in Alaska, we, frankly, have no idea what point you were attempting to make. Chalk it up to our failings if you wish. Again, best of 2018 to you.

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          • Jack & Barbra Donachy January 12, 2018 at 8:00 am

            Relax, Willis. If you are a climate warming denier, you’re position is wrong.

            Barbra, there seems to be something impaired regarding your reading ability. However, I’m a patient man, so I’ll go through it again. Let me suggest that you read it very slowly this time, as you missed it entirely last time. Ready? Here’s what I’d said:

            Instead, you’ve repeated the claim that I’m wrong in fifty ways … so what? It is far from adequate to simply claim that I’m wrong, over and over ad nauseam.

            Instead, you need to SHOW that I’m wrong … and to date, you haven’t even taken the first step towards doing that.

            In response to my saying that you need to SHOW that I’m wrong and not just tell me, you tell me I’m wrong for the 51st time … are you really that clueless, or is this some kind of act designed to gain you sympathy because you can’t keep up?

            Perhaps that kind of personal attack gains you traction in your circles. In scientific circles, it is meaningless.

            Finally, dear lady, calling someone who disagrees with you a “denier” reveals the paucity of both your evidence and your thought processes. That’s just name-calling, and an ugly name at that. Once again you’ve proven my rule of thumb—when a charming woman like yourself starts throwing mud, it’s a sure sign that she’s out of real ammunition.

            w.

            PS—It’s “your position is wrong”, not “you’re position is wrong” … if you’re going to insult someone at least get your pronouns right …

            PPS: Barbra, you say:

            When you refer to us as “so young” (your words; exact quote) you leave yourself open to the possibility that many of your observations are inaccurate.

            First, what I actually said was “Good heavens, Jack and Barbra, so young and yet so bitter …” … and if you think that means I actually believe that you are young, in the face of your picture there next to your words, well, perhaps you might look up “sarcasm” in the dictionary …

            Second, it’s possible that anyone’s observations are inaccurate. I certainly know that mine might be … so what?

            Finally, I’m seventy … so most folks appear young to me, even though I’m quite aware that they are not.

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