Sunday, August 24, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation ~

I just returned from my summer vacation and wanted to share an incredible adventure with you that I was lucky to experience. I toured the USS Nebraska in Bangor, Washington! She is a ballistic missile submarine carrying 24 Trident missiles that can be targeted independently.

It was a strange and wondrous moment, standing on the deck before we went down the ladder, to realize that the arched area I was standing on could someday open up and a nuclear missile could be launched through it. Trident missiles are fired by the pressure of expanding gas in the launch tube. When the missile is far enough away from the submarine, several stages of motors and boosters ignite. Within about two minutes the missile is traveling about 20,000 feet per second.

Once on board, I was impressed with the organization and engineering involved in creating this beautiful work of art. Courteous sailors, busy with their duties, took time to answer my questions and graciously danced when we had to pass in a narrow passageway. The missiles are quite large - about 44 feet high and almost 7 feet around - so 24 of them fill a large portion of the vessel, but overall it seemed surprisingly spacious. I learned about how the air is cleaned and recirculated, visited the ship's medical office, imagined sleeping in the crew's quarters (you do need to be organized!), checked out the galley, and explored all the nooks and crannies.

The USS Nebraska is 42 feet wide and 560 feet long - for comparison the Seattle Space Needle is 605 feet high. Submerged, it displaces approximately 18,750 tons and it carries a crew of 155. It is propelled by a nuclear reactor and it is the 14th ship in the OHIO class.

I feel much safer knowing that this submarine is patrolling our waters. I got an opportunity to think about being at sea for three months at a time and the kinds of consequences this brings about for a sailor. Not only having to get along with the rest of the crew in tight quarters, but the effect it has on their familial relationships. Young men, most of them in their early twenties, with new babies and young wives - not only missing them, but being unable to even speak with them during their deployment as they have to maintain silence. Their wives learn to handle everything at home themselves, yet when the sailor returns he has to reintegrate into his family and couples have to get to know each other again. Daily duties have to be redistributed, children need to "ask Dad" again....and then he faces deployment again, and it all starts over. Very difficult, and I congratulate these families on their ability to do this so that the rest of us can enjoy the protection provided by these submariners. Thank you!

I was unable to take any photographs to share with you due to high level security clearance required to take this tour, but I have it in my memory forever! If you ever get a chance, there is a public Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Washington that has some wonderful exhibits related to submarines that is well worth the visit.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Passed!

I am very happy to report that I got an "A" on my final exam! A certificate for Diamonds & Diamond Grading, as well as the Graduate Diamonds Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America is on its way! Their distance education program is excellent and allows me to study at home at my own pace. I am planning to take a break for a few weeks and then I will begin my next course of study, Colored Stones.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Electronic Copyright

Branching Out and trying something new ~
Yesterday afternoon I finished work on my next series of photographs that I plan to incorporate into my new book and was ready to copyright them. So, I decided to give the new United States Copyright Office electronic copyright system a try.

The Copyright Process - standard method:

Previously I printed out a hard application form from their website and completed it, made prints of my photographs and accompanying information, - made a copy of everything for myself, then mailed them registered return receipt to the Library of Congress (LOC). Waited for three or four days to track online and get notification that they were received by the LOC. At this point I could start to publish the photographs because they are protected as soon as they are received, but I still had to wait for over 6 months to get a certificate that a publishing house might need to verify that they are my copyright. Wait for about 5 months for them to cash your check, wondering all the while if there is anything wrong? Then continue to wait for your certificate. I am still waiting today for a certificate from a submission I made on October 22, 2007 - when I spoke to the Copyright Office a few days ago they said it is still being processed and may take a few more months as they are so backlogged things are taking about 8 months now due to the changeover to their electronic process (which he said is taking about 4 months)!
cost - $23.02 prints and copies
fee- $45.00
mailing - $5.25

Total = $73.27 for 81 photographs + about 6 hours of my time running around initially and then calling and checking on it!

The new and improved Copyright Process - Electronic Copyright:

So, yesterday afternoon at about 5:15pm I was ready to give it a try. Wow...what a pleasure! It took me 40 minutes from start to finish. I created an account, then filled out the application form. The next step was to pay on a separate secure site which was easy and fast. I was returned to my application without any difficulty and the final step was to upload my submission. There is a 30 minute time limit and it was suggested that if my file was too large I might need to creat a .zip file, however I only had 75 photographs for this submission so I just uploaded them individually. When I hit the "submit" button they were all uploaded within 7 minutes, and I was given a confirmation page with the document files and titles to print out for my records. Then I was returned to the home page where I can now track my submission electronically with a unique file number. The biggest advantage is that my photographs are acknowledged as submitted immediately and I don't have to wait an additional 3-5 days for mailing delivery confirmation!
cost: - $0 printing and copies
fees: - $35
mailing - $0

Total = $35 + 40 minutes of my time (this will increase slightly over the next four months as I track my open case online to ensure that it is completed, but should be minimal as it will not entail redialing and waiting on hold for the copyright office).
I highly recommend the new Electronic Copyright process for artists and photographers - it is cheaper, faster, and less stressful!