I joined this project because I really wanted to do something to help mitigate climate change and since I had worked for many years in environmental statistics OW seemed like a good way to do it. At that time we were transcribing the British WW 1 logs and there were generally only 8 weather reports per day. The byword at that time was that the weather reports were the broccoli and the remark page was the desert. Desert at the time was the excitement of discovering your ship in the midst of battle, an imminent typhoon, or reading that some unlikely object was lost overboard (I thought the Pearl River in China may have got its name from all the spoiled milk that was discarded by the Moorhen). Alas, my first ship, HMS Blenheim, was docked almost permanently in Mudros, Turkey. Not only that, I could barely make out the handwriting so I was desertless for a month. Later came the US logs and I was shocked to see how prolific the American log keepers were and was dismayed to discover 24 weather reports per day! I complained loudly (14 point font and bold) and Philip agreed that there was generally not much more useful information in 24 weather reports but, given that many members didn't visit the forum, it would be impossible to agree on what subset we should transcribed. (Since then, I think he and Kevin have found the detail to be quite useful.) So, I gradually became resigned to the task (which was much more difficult back then because the log images were often crooked and we had to enter the numbers rather than the quotes that represented them).
Fast forward to last summer when I began doing Qi Gong and Tai Chi. As you know, there is an important meditative aspect to this. One exercise the group did, which I tried several times, was to stand perfectly still for over a half an hour. Unfortunately, there was a clock on the wall in front of me and I couldn't help looking at it. But no matter how hard I looked, the hands barely moved and the pain in my back was annoying me no matter how I shifted my position. This was broccoli with a vengeance. To my relief, the teacher stopped inflicting this torture on us but I was still impressed by the idea of meditation and awareness. I carried this over to my transcribing, which I do for about 3 hours every morning. Often, I find my mind wandering so I try just letting go of the thoughts that pass through my head. I attempt to focus on what I see rather than typing mechanically. I see this now as an important exercise in self-control which could carry over into other aspects of my life. For example, I might pay attention to what my wife is saying (just kidding, I always listen to her intently). I think my discovery is so important that I may start a movement. I would call it Transcendental Transcription
. I am sure this has tremendous potential to save the world. Imagine with more and more people transcribing weather data how peaceful the world could become and how much self-control would spread.
So this is how I have learned to love broccoli. It is now one of my favourite vegetables. In fact, I love it so much that I rush through the Remarks page to get to my next plate of weather data. Oh sure, I pick up the date and the main place name and I faithfully record any ship that happens by. I still look for "interesting" things to record (which definitely excludes the predictable troubles the sailors get into and the mundane administrative information). But don't get me wrong; I wouldn't object if some improvements were made to the interface to make it easier to transcribe the weather reports. That pain in my back still hasn't gone away completely.