Geeks With Blogs

My wonderful wife Annie surprised me with a cruise to Cozumel for my fortieth birthday. I love to travel. Every trip is ripe with adventure, crazy things to see and experience. For example, on the way to Mobile Alabama to catch our boat, some dude hauling a mobile home lost a window and we drove through a cloud of busting glass going 80 miles per hour! The night before the cruise, we stayed in the Malaga Inn and I crawled UNDER the hotel to look at an old civil war bunker. WOAH! Then, on the way to and from Cozumel, the boat plowed through two beautiful and slightly violent storms. But, the adventures you have while travelling often pale in comparison to the cult of personalities you meet along the way.  :)

We met many cool people during our travels and we made some new friends. Todd and Andrea are in the publishing business ( and teaching, respectively. Erika is a teacher too and Matt has a pig on his foot. This story is about the pig. Without that pig on Matt’s foot, we probably would have hit a buoy and drowned. Alright, so…this pig on Matt’s foot…this is no henna tatt, this is a man’s tattoo. Apparently, getting tattoos on your feet is very painful because there is very little muscle and fat and lots of nifty nerves to tell you that you might be doing something stupid.DSCF1409

Pig and rooster tattoos carry special meaning for sailors of old. According to some sources, having a tattoo of a pig or rooster on one foot or the other will keep you from drowning. There are many great musings as to why a pig and a rooster might save your life. The most plausible in my opinion is that pigs and roosters were common livestock tagging along with the crew. Since they were shipped in wooden crates, pigs and roosters were often counted amongst the survivors when ships succumbed to Davy Jones’ Locker.

I didn’t spend a whole lot of time researching the pig and the rooster, so consider these musings as you would a grain of salt. And, I was not able to find a lot of what you might consider credible history regarding the tradition. What I did find was a comfort, or solace, in the maritime tradition. Seems like raw traditions like the pig and the rooster are in danger of getting lost in a sea of non-permanence. I mean, what traditions are us old programmers and techies leaving behind for future generations?

Makes me wonder what Ward Christensen has tattooed on his left foot.  I guess my choice would have to be a Commodore 64.


(I met Ward, by the way, in an elevator after he received his Dvorak awards in 1992. He was a very non-assuming individual sporting business casual and was very much a “sailor” of an old-school programmer. I can’t remember his exact words, but I think they were essentially that he felt it odd that he was getting an award for just doing his work. I’m sure that Ward doesn’t know this…he couldn’t have set a more positive example for a young 22 year old programmer. Thanks Ward!)

Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 12:13 AM Musings | Back to top

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