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Seeing Through the Fog
By George Schmok, Publisher


Photo: George Schmok

The other day I took my boat "Land Escaper" fishing out of Newport Harbor in California. When we first left the harbor there was a marine layer that left visibility at about half a mile. That's not optimal, but it was just before noon and usually the marine layer burns off in the afternoon, so off we went in search of the elusive mako shark. There we were, trolling around and moving farther and farther south and away from shore. Singularly focused on the prospect of finding a 100 pound mako, little did we notice the skies were not clearing up; instead, the fog was rolling in . . . All of a sudden we were almost 30 miles from the harbor and visibility had dropped to 100 feet. Talk about being alone in the wilderness. There is little I have experienced that causes the same sense of claustrophobia as being trapped in a blanket of fog with no sense of north or south, east or west. Thank God for radar and GPS, as even a compass was rendered practically useless.

With GPS we were able to plot a course straight at the harbor entrance, and with radar we were able to travel at about 8-10 knots. Still, we could not tell if there were lobster traps, floating logs or if there was any flotsam or jetsam in our path. At one point another boat came within the 100 feet. I saw him on the radar, but had no idea if he saw me, so we had to slow down and lay on the horn . . . Needless to say, it was a tense three-hour cruise back to the harbor. When we entered between two mile-long boulder jetties we literally could not see either side. Without the radar and GPS we could have easily crashed into the other boat, run aground trying to follow a blind compass heading, or for that matter we might still be out there cruising in at a mile or two knots an hour . . . It caused me to contemplate how far technology has taken us in such a short time. I mean, radar was only discovered during World War II and reliable GPS is about a decade old. Can you imagine being Christopher Columbus, or even Charles Lindberg plotting course with only a clock and a compass?

OK . . . Fishing in the fog may be a little off topic, but today you are reading the April "Lighting" issue. So, speaking about technology, light bulbs have only been around for 138 years. Before that it was fire . . . A few years ago, low-voltage MR-16 lamps were state-of-the-art. Now we have converters that are more efficient and only usable with LEDs. At the ASLA show in New Orleans I saw a manufacturer who had built an area light pole/fixture combination that I believe was solar enhanced, had motion sensors, phone recharging outlets, public Wi-Fi, was connected to a central command center, used LED 50,000 hour bulbs and I think had an emergency 911 beacon attached as well. Today, from your boat in the fog, you can pretty much change the color, brightness, directions and timing of your entire lighting system whether that be a commercial, industrial, municipal or residential property hundreds, if not thousands of miles away. Yep, technology is cool and let me say . . . The future is looking less foggy and getting brighter every day . . .

God Bless . . .
George Schmok, Publisher

As seen in LASN magazine, April 2017 Commentary.

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December 10, 2018, 3:52 am PST

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