I CAME ACROSS A REFERENCE to cloud computing the other day. I had never heard of it, but I used my mighty brain and looked it up on Wikipedia. I thought it might be of some benefit to sailors needing better marine weather forecasts. This is how Wikipedia explained cloud computing:
Cloud computing is Internet- ("cloud-") based development and use of computer technology ("computing"). In concept, it is a paradigm shift whereby details are abstracted from the users who no longer need knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure "in the cloud" that supports them. Cloud computing describes a new supplement, consumption and delivery model for IT services based on Internet, and it typically involves the provision of dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources as a service over the Internet.
Um, yes, well, thank you Wiki. I think.
And now by absolute, sheer, utter coincidence — would you believe it? — I have just received an e-mail query from a reader in the tiny village of Gamadoolas, in the middle of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert. Xabba Verlore wants to know: “What is sailing?”
Ah, Xabba, thanks to Wikipedia I can explain it to you and other deprived desert-dwellers:
Sailing is a non-mechanized form of motion that takes place at the interface of the earth’s atmosphere and an aquatic body whereby a device designed for the conveyance of goods or living organisms derives kinetic energy from the molecular movement of air (nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, et al).
H2O molecules are deliberately excluded from the hollow interior of the device for reasons of safety, comfort, and the necessity to avoid sinking.
Kinetic energy (in which e = 1/2 mass x speed squared) is extracted from the air movement by large triangular surfaces ingeniously constructed from polyester filaments elevated on a vertical elongation of aluminum tube.
Pressure on these triangular surfaces, which might otherwise occasion instability and cause a 90-degree paradigm shift, is counterbalanced by metallic lead of considerable density and volume, situated at the fundamental extremity of a fin-like appendage protruding down into the aquatic body.
In cognizance of the necessity for directional stability and/or change, the device is subject to biaxial direction control on the antiquated “Gudgeon-Pintle” principle, effected with the assistance of a wooden lever or wheel, manipulated from the cockpit.
Finally, Xabba, should the kinetic energy fail due to absence of air movement, we simply switch on the engine. That’s what we call Sailing.
 Aquatic body: Two atoms hydrogen with one atom oxygen, repeated many times.
The short words are best, and the old words are the best of all.
— Winston Churchill
Boaters’ Rules of Thumb #2
Abandoning ship. The rule of thumb is that you should have to step UP to your liferaft. Easier said than done, but most boats are found floating long after crews abandon them for liferafts during storms — and liferafts often turn out to be death rafts, as the infamous 1979 Fastnet Race showed.
“And after I got lost in the wilds of the Rockies I lived for a whole week on two bananas.”
“Good grief. Weren’t you afraid of squashing them?”