disengage.ca a quest for the technomadic lifestyle

23Jan/173

Road Trips and Adventures

The first rule(*) of a road trip: always carry toilet paper.

Technically it doesn't have to be actual toilet paper, and in the case of the past few weeks, it's been the grotesque four-inch stack of napkins that the guy at Extreme Pizza gave me the night before leaving Richmond, California just before Christmas. I think I can say with some authority that that guy had no idea how far those napkins would travel, how useful they'd be, or the circumstances within which they'd be useful - but I'm thankful for them nonetheless. The combination of gut flora acclimatizing to the cuisine of a different culture, combined with questionable bacterial content in the drinking water (or perhaps from the ice cubes in the margaritas), alongside the fact that many gas station restrooms in rural Mexico don't even have toilet seats, much less pristine rolls of fluffy two-ply... it all makes for an adventure.

(* Aaaaactually, the first rule of any adventure is "absolutely no dying", a perfect rule drilled into my head by the lovely people at Ephemerisle, a yearly floating anarchist city-event that occurs in the Sacramento River Delta each summer. Dying puts everyone around you in a bad situation; it's generally considered to be pretty selfish.)

s/v Little Wing

sailing s/v Little Wing with Trevor and Rob

Regardless, an awful lot has changed since my last blog post! I purchased another sailboat near the end of 2015, and immediately moved aboard, effectively cutting my SF rent costs down to about a sixth of what they were in my one-bedroom apartment in Lower Haight. Living (or rather sneaking) aboard in the Bay Area wasn't simple, but combined with a work-travel schedule that had me out of town almost half the time and some creative couch-surfing, I made it work.

The new boat's name is "s/v Little Wing"; a monohull this time, an Islander 34 -- a stout little ocean-crossing adventure boat on which I spent a great deal of my free time in 2016 sailing in and around the San Francisco Bay. I intend to take her on a multi-year adventure up to Canada, then down through Central America, and ultimately through the South Pacific... but that's a story for another time.

music studio

goodbye, music project studio

This post is about current and recent happenings, so that I get back into the swing of writing this blog on a more regular basis. This post is about my return to s/v TIE Fighter, and life in San Carlos, and some of the events that brought me here.

This post is only passingly about the facts that I've left my job with Dell EMC, sold off all the gear from my awesome music studio in Richmond and bought an old pickup truck off Craigslist.

This post is about the fact that currently I'm back in Mexico living on my trimaran, up a ladder in the dry-storage workyard (or Marina Seca), and that I'm working on her every day; I'm hoping to have her back in the water by February 10th, and hoping to cruise the Sea of Cortez for the rest of the winter.

Six Flags

Six Flags in the rain

The big move happened just prior to Christmas, and in a surprising turn of events, Miya joined me for the twenty-hour drive down to Mexico. In fact, she had joined me for another roadtrip out to Wilbur Hot Springs a few weeks prior, as a test of the "new" truck, to shake out any unexpected mechanical issues on some muddy back roads. We left Richmond a few days before Christmas, and headed down the I-5, taking our time to smell the flowers on the way.

The GPS led us south, but on a rainy Wednesday around noon, when Google Maps told us that we'd be looking forward to at least four hours of gridlock on the highways just outside of Los Angeles, we decided that our time would be much better spent on rollercoasters. We stopped at a nearby Six Flags - sparsely populated, due to the weather - and spent the day jumping from coaster to coaster and eating way too much sugar. I even tasted my first funnel cake! (verdict: too sweet, but I'm glad I tried.)

Mexico border

adios, suckers!

We left the United States on December 23rd, exactly one day before the rules of my NAFTA-issued TN Visa would have me in trouble with the federal government. The letter of the law states that a person with TN status is to leave the country immediately upon termination of employment, but the conventional wisdom is that you've got ten days to get your affairs in order before you're legally in the doghouse. I took nine days, and even after crossing into Mexico I went back through to the US again to make sure that the CBP agents had registered that I'd left the country - it's always wisest to take any border-related matters very seriously.*

(* Incidentally, you should alway, always wear a suit and tie in your passport photo. No matter how filthy and hung over and unshaven you are when you arrive at a border, no matter how third-world the country or remote the border crossing, a suit and tie in your passport photo says "I am a person of significance in my home country, someone who could potentially cause you a lot of paperwork".)

christmas cactus

Christmas cactus!

Christmas was spent at a fancy resort hotel here in San Carlos, nearly breaking the budget at a whopping $52/night. A few bottles of sparkling wine, some exploratory adventures around the area, a few margaritas - we had a lovely holiday while doing our best tourist impressions. We picked out a Christmas cactus together, and decorated it with the results of a pre-border Target mission - anything to delay the emotionally-loaded task of returning to TIE Fighter, unpacking our former life together, and making hard decisions about what to do with all of the things.

Ultimately no big, sweeping decisions were made - though it was very clear to both of us that the connection that had kept us together for the six years we were a couple was still very much alive and well, and inasmuch as no new formal plans or agreements were made, nothing was ruled out either. It remains very much to be seen whether the very rich, very full lives we've built for ourselves over the two years we've spent apart could be compatible enough to have a future together, but I remain optimistic and will be traveling up to visit her in San Francisco at the end of January.

TIE Fighter in the work yard

After extending our stay at the resort hotel for another day of cartoons and sparkling wine, we finally buckled down and spent two days on TIE Fighter unpacking and sorting. One disappointment we encountered was the fact that despite being repeatedly reassured that the Marina Seca was a very secure spot to store a cruising sailboat, a few things had somehow grown legs and left the boat. Miya's Sailrite sewing machine was the largest and most obvious missing item, followed by my mandolin, my busking loudspeaker, my binoculars and a few powertools. Interestingly all of the missing items had been stored very much out in the open, and the boat hadn't been overtly ransacked - had the thieves searched a little deeper there were other valuables that I'm sure would have been attractive. I guess it's to be expected given the circumstances, but it still felt like a huge violation of personal space.

Miya left back to California, and I spent a few days cleaning and settling in for a long month in the boatyard... but I was soon rescued by my friend France, who came to visit for New Years. I picked her up at the airport in Hermosillo and after a drunken New Year's Eve spent barhopping around San Carlos, we left south on a roadtrip to Topolobampo to catch a ferry to La Paz.

If you only learn one word in Spanish prior to going on a roadtrip in Mexico, I suggest the word "topes". It's a seemingly innocuous word, but if you see a sign that says Topes on the side of the highway, that word means "brake aggressively or lose your suspension". Topes means "speed bumps", but in Mexico those bumps can be anything from little steel domes set into the asphalt to huge amateur-constructed concrete curbs across the middle of the highway. You basically have your choice - pay the steep tolls for Mexico's (admittedly excellent) toll highways, or use the libramente freeways, which are somewhat older, often in disrepair, and regularly have huge topes for apparently only one reason: to make you slow down so that you might purchase food from a fruit stand or restaurant conveniently located at exactly that spot. One might wonder cynically which existed first; the tope or the restaurant...

It was a couple of hours south of Guaymas, in the middle of nowhere, shortly after one of these topes - one that I hit very slowly actually, since this is not my first goddamned rodeo - that my little truck suddenly began sounding like a MUCH LARGER and MUCH LESS MECHANICALLY SOUND truck. I pulled over to have a look, and found that the exhaust pipe leading from the engine to the muffler had cracked completely in half! A half-kilometer later we pulled (loudly) into a gas station to try to make a repair, and the attendant was less than helpful - since it was New Years Day, and also a Sunday, he explained that the chances of having any repair work done before Monday was out of the question.

repairs in rural Mexico

repairs in rural Mexico

We had a cup of coffee and a think, and decided to try asking at a nearby llanteria (tire sales/repair shop) for help. Using my rudimentary Spanish, accompanied by a lot of hand-waving and pointing, I showed them the problem. A young guy beckoned us to bring the truck around to the back of his shop, where he got right to work, jacking up the truck and arc-welding the pipes back together. He worked for about an hour and a half in total; France and I had a bet going on what he would charge us, with me guessing around 600 pesos ($30 USD) and her predicting at least 1000 ($50 USD)... but in the end he asked for 150 pesos ($7.50 USD), though I insisted on giving him 200 ($10). Gotta love Mexico!

boarding the ferry to La Paz

boarding the ferry to La Paz

Riding the overnight ferry was an adventure all in itself, as we hadn't had the foresight to book a $50 "private cabin" with beds, since my pickup truck has a camper shell and a mattress in the back. Upon boarding the ferry, we were told that passengers were expressly forbidden from the car decks during transport! Any "public" seating with vertical space filled up immediately, staked out with blankets and baggage by locals, and we ended up sleeping the night shivering on the hard tile floor of the noisy ferry lounge as a live entertainer continued her song-and-dance act until well after 3am. Note to self: next time, make sure to bring blankets, pillows, or hell, even a hoodie - it gets cold at night in the middle of the Sea of Cortez in early January!

kites in La Ventana

kites in La Ventana

From La Paz, we drove an hour south to La Ventana, the kiteboarding Mecca of the Baja, where France had booked us into a hotel. We spent the next three days taking kiteboarding lessons by day, and drinking fiercely strong Baja-style margaritas at night, singing and playing guitar with new friends.

Even after a couple of days of lessons, I'm still not to the point where I'd be comfortable taking a kite out by myself, but I was able to get up on the board and ride for about thirty seconds at a time... but only in one direction! I was a skateboarder and snowboarder back in the late 80's and early 90's, but that was before people really rode ambidextrously, and so I only ever learned to ride "regular foot", i.e. left-foot-forward. On a kiteboard I was able to ride left-foot-forward repeatedly, but it took all my focus and concentration to try to ride right-foot-forward for more than a couple of seconds at a time.

protestor roadblock!

protestor roadblock!

After a few days of vacation in La Ventana, I was beginning to get antsy about working on TIE Fighter... but France was still having a blast, so she changed her flight home from Hermosillo to a La Paz departure and got a room for another night, and I left for the ferry. My timing couldn't have been better - due to the President of Mexico's decision to deregulate gas prices, protestors on the Baja had shut down the highways! I made it as far as La Paz before running into my first roadblock; six or seven tractor-trailer trucks parked across the highway, blocking all traffic.

Luckily I had budgeted a couple of extra hours to get to the ferry, with plans to stop in La Paz for lunch; I had to reroute several times down sketchy backroads, bypassing the highways, until finally reaching the last stretch of road to the ferry terminal. The ferry departure ended up being delayed for several hours, and I heard later that all sailings for the next few days were cancelled outright from the protests blocking fuel deliveries to the docks. Glad I caught the one I did!

Jamie and Darion

Jamie and Darion

I returned to the workyard and dug in hard, but luckily I was provided with a brief respite by my friends Jamie and Darion, down from Victoria BC, visiting family in San Carlos. Jamie had access to a couple of amazing Hobie Mirage kayaks - they're pedal-powered, using fins modeled after dolphin tails, super fast and very easy to pilot - and managed to borrow a third one from a neighbour, and the three of us headed out on an adventure around Isla El Pastel.

We "paddled" a total of 12km (7.5 miles) without really even feeling it, running into tonnes of seabirds and a couple of pods of bottlenose dolphins on the way! I would jump on buying one of those kayaks, but they're quite expensive and I think I'd be constantly worried about it having it get stolen at a dinghy dock.

BUT WHAT ABOUT TIE FIGHTER?!? How is she?? How well did she survive the hurricane?? What projects have you been working on in the boatyard for the past month?!

...well, that'll be the subject of the next blog post. 🙂

Also, just as a footnote: since it's now 2017 and blogging isn't exactly the bleeding edge of internet technology anymore, I've branched out a bit. You're welcome to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, if that's the sort of thing that floats your boat. Hah!

4Dec/121

Catching Up, Part 4: Return to La Paz

Ok! Part four of updates, and then hopefully I can return to a more regular style of blog posts. I know I keep saying that. *sigh*. Without further ado:

gorgeous weather in La Paz

gorgeous weather in La Paz

The summer brought some intense weather shifts, including some of the first rain we'd seen since our arrival in La Paz in February - I guess I should have been tipped off by the cactuses and tumbleweeds, but the amount of precipitation here still took me by surprise. Once the season shifted into high summer however, the heat of the day combined with the extremely warm water (sometimes it would be 38º outside and the water would be 23º, warmer than most swimming pools!) made for some crazy meteorological events. We were treated with regular lightning storms and sudden shifts in wind speed and direction, not to mention a couple of hurricanes that narrowly missed us.

In this photo, a storm cell is crossing nearby to the south. At the time this photo was taken, the wind was blowing briskly towards the cell, but about five minutes afterwards the wind abruptly died and then within two minutes was blowing probably 40kn in the opposite direction! We were caught unprepared, and several items blew off the deck and I had to dash out in the RIB to retrieve them.

 

*sigh*. pay attention to polarity, Drew.

*sigh*. pay attention to polarity, Drew.

 While I was in Canada, I ordered a low-power Fit-PC3 computer to build into the walls of the TIE Fighter. The Fit-PC3 is a 12v-native computer very light on power consumption - set up with an internal SSD drive, it draws only  6w (1/2 an amp) at idle. I paired it with a two-terabyte external drive that automatically spins itself down when not in use, and am quite happy with the results.

Unforutnately, when I went to install the machine I didn't pay close enough attention to the polarity of the power supply, and hooked the power connection up backwards. Immediately there was a flash and a pop and suddenly the air was filled with the acrid smell of burning electronics.

electronics repair on the new inboard computer

electronics repair on the new inboard computer

Fortunately I'm no stranger to electronics repair, and with a bit of research and an email to the manufacturers of the Fit-PC3, I learned that the component that had exploded was a simple ferrite bead, meant solely to keep stray radio-frequency energy out of the computer. This bead is just a failsafe, sort of like a fuse, and I could just 'jump' over the section with a bit of wire for the time being. An hour or so with the soldering iron, and the computer lives.

...of course, that computer also now lives in a cupboard with a strong radio. I still need to track down a replacement ferrite, as I've seen three crashes so far when I've keyed up the mic on the ham radio on certain frequencies.

 

a swarm of bees overtakes the TIE Fighter!

a swarm of bees overtakes the TIE Fighter!

One morning as we left the boat in the RIB to go for coffee, we realized we'd forgotten something at the main boat so we turned around. When we arrived at the TIE Fighter, we found the boat swarming with bees! We estimated around 10,000 honeybees in the air around the boat.

Not knowing what to do, we went for coffee and solicited opinions from a few other cruisers, who brought to light one very important point that we somehow hadn't thought of... if the bees were to get inside the boat, they might not want to leave! We had to return to the boat immediately to close up the doors and windows, hoping that they hadn't already moved in.

 

the bees, landed

the bees, landed

When we arrived back at the boat, the bees had landed... but outside. The internet tells us that this means the queen bee is somewhere in the middle of the literal pile of bees on the boat. We figure they were stacked six or seven deep in this photo! Fortunately, they decided that the boat wouldn't make a great spot for a new hive, and within an hour or two of this photo they'd all moved on.

 

Miya's dirty knees from painting the decks

Miya's dirty knees from painting the decks

While I went back to my day job schedule, Miya undertook the massive task of painting the TIE Fighter's decks with anti-skid paint. We had collected a large pail full of white sand from a nearby beach, and then sifted and washed it, allowing it to dry overnight in the boatyard on a clean sheet of plywood. In the end though we decided that we'd get a better-looking result from "marmolina"; fine crushed white marble available at the local fereterias for about $0.50/kg.

 

the lights of 16 de Septiembre

the lights of 16 de Septiembre

The celebration of 16 de Septiembre (Mexico's Independance Day) came along, and rather than hole up in our little box on the ocean, Miya and I decided to brave the crowds and go see the fireworks display. The display lacked a certain... safety standard? that we had grown accustomed to in North America - the main celebration was in a town square flanked on three sides with two-story buildings, and the fireworks were launched from the roofs of those buildings, exploding directly over the square!

 

more generator maintenance, this time cleaning the carburetor

more generator maintenance, this time cleaning the carburetor

Our Honda EU2000i generator has given us incredibly reliable service for the past four years or so, but apparently one should not leave it for a Mexican summer with a third of a tank of gasoline... when I went to start it up for the first time in many months, it would not start. I quickly realized what the problem must be, and using this very well-written step-by-step howto, I tore the generator apart and cleaned the carburetor. Just like that, the little Honda purred back to life.

 

Miya swimming with a school of something (sardines? herring?)

Miya swimming with a school of something (sardines? herring?)

The heat of the summer was intense and constant, and often we had to spend the hottest portions of the day in the water just to maintain our sanity! The underside of the TIE Fighter made for a convenient gathering space, and using a series of ropes and floating toys and platforms we created a place of refuge from the afternoon sun.

In this photo Miya is swimming with one of the schools of fish that regularly gathered under the boat. Actually, if I go looking I bet I have a video that might show the situation a little better:

Crazy how you can see them avoiding the anchor line! We'd like to identify the species of fish, and then see about catching some for grilling or pickling.

avoiding the heat under the TIE Fighter's wing

avoiding the heat under the TIE Fighter's wing

Miya found an inflatable toy at one of the swap meets; three inflatable bladders joined at the center by a square of mesh, forming a floating recliner. This, paired with a Canadian Tire 'Party Platform' that we picked up on clearance just before leaving Canada in September 2011, formed the seating portion of the underwing. You can also see my Traynor TVM-10 cordless rechargeable guitar amplifier in the nets above, hooked up to an iPhone and playing appropriately chilled house music down into the watery tunnel.

flips off the TIE Fighter

flips off the TIE Fighter

Of course, with freshly-added antiskid on the topsides, the boat herself - having a good meter of freeboard - made an excellent water toy. Miya had only really learned to swim in the last year or so, but managed to learn to dive in one day!

 

 

She was so impressed with her diving that she decided to try her first-ever backflip off the boat also... to a little less success.

 

Mal serenading us on his banjo

Mal serenading us on his banjo

One of my absolute favourite parts about the cruising lifestyle is the willingness of the participants to pick up new musical instruments and throw themselves into learning. Our friend and neighbor Malcolm, an Australian vagabond living on 'Wind Pirate', picked up a banjo in a trade with another boater and within days was plucking away.

 

driving the long, lonely highway from La Paz to San Diego

driving the long, lonely highway from La Paz to San Diego

When we heard about the Wasteland Weekend festival in California, the idea immediately spoke to both of us - a four-day party in the desert, sort of  like Burning Man but more Mad Max themed, if that even sounds possible. With our Wilderness First Responder first aid certifications, we figured if they were interested in having us on as volunteer medics we'd kill a few birds with one stone; go on a road trip, pick up some much-needed supplies from the states, get some practical medical experience and go to a rad party! We rented a car and prepared to head out... but of course, what with it being hurricane season, a tropical storm had formed south of the peninsula and was threatening La Paz. We couldn't leave the boat unattended until we were sure that it wouldn't turn into a hurricane.

Fortunately, the system weakened, but not before dumping rain on southern Baja - and if you haven't seen what a major rainstorm does to a desert, it's a crazy thing indeed!

In this video, we have been stopped by a washout - the road in front of us has been replaced by a river of brown water flowing at a pretty fast clip. We watched as a compact car was swept a few feet sideways - but in the true spirit of "drive 'er like a rental", we decided to take the risk and we crossed. If you watch closely you can see water come up over the hood of the car at one point!

 

Wasteland Weekend 2012

Wasteland Weekend 2012

We arrived late to Wasteland Weekend but wasted no time whatsoever getting into the groove of things. Having come internationally we had no weapons to defend ourselves from the mutant / zombie uprising, and so we decided that we were clearly 'wasteland aristocracy' and as such had no reason to carry large weaponry of our own.

 

meeting the Party Hard Corps, fellow wasteland nobility

meeting the Party Hard Corps, fellow wasteland nobility

With this thought in mind it wasn't long before we ran into some kindred spirits, fellow patricians of the aftermath, with whom we shared libations and cheer. The Party Hard Corps crew are a fascinating group of partiers, gamers and drinkers from the midwest, who like us traveled to the desert for a few days of debauchery.

 

winning the archery competition

winning the archery competition

There were many (semi-)organized events, including robot battles and jugger matches, but the one event I was most looking forward to taking part in was the archery competition. The rules were fairly simple - scoring was based on points awarded for your five arrows to a mannequin about thirty paces down a range. I was relieved to find they had bows available for loan, as I hadn't owned my own bow in many years.

There were three divisions, for different sorts of bows: recurve, compound and crossbow. I can say proudly that out of about forty or so competitors, not only did I win the recurve division, but I also had the highest score over all three divisions - 28 out of a possible 30. The prize was a little disappointing however; a large black t-shirt. Not my size and I refuse to wear cotton t-shirts. In retrospect I should have taken the shirt and re-gifted it to one of the Party Hard Corps guys or something.

In case you're wondering, we did stop at an archery supply store in San Diego on the way back to Mexico, purchasing two bows so that we can practice on the beaches. At some point in our travels we met a guy who swore by iguana meat; as we get further south we're thinking maybe that might be a good source of free protein...

 

professional medical attention at Wasteland Weekend 2012

professional medical attention at Wasteland Weekend 2012

Our medical shift was Saturday night from 10pm until 4am - arguably the worst possible shift if your goal is solely to party, but we got enough of that in during the previous night and the Saturday afternoon, and as both the new jacks on the scene and late to the party to boot, we were happy to help out and glad to feel useful. We were surprised at how few emergencies there were, to be honest - the partygoers seemed to self-regulate very well, and aside from a few scalds from fire-show screwups and a few cuts and scrapes, we weren't actually very busy! There was always something going on, but we never felt overwhelmed.

 

Miya at the San Diego Zoo, riding an eagle.

Miya at the San Diego Zoo, riding an eagle.

After Wasteland Weekend, we had a couple of days to spend in San Diego - we slotted one of those days to provisioning and shopping, but the second day was spent touring the San Diego Zoo. This was something Miya had wanted to do ever since we left Vancouver but somehow we hadn't found the time during the two months we spent in San Diego back in December 2011. Many photos were taken, but surely if you'd like to see a photo of a giraffe you can find one on Google Image Search. 😉

 

Scott from s/v Sojourn displaying a feat of flexibility

Scott from s/v Sojourn displaying a feat of flexibility

After a long but uneventful drive back down the Baja Peninsula, we settled back into our routine by immediately having people over for another party. In this photo, Scott is demonstrating his ability to do a full split!

In the foreground of the photo, next to our friend Mike, is one of Miya's margueritas, made in the "proper Baja style". For a perfect Baja cruiser marguerita, combine:

  • one part decent tequila (100% agave only, José Cuervo is NOT acceptable!)
  • one part triple sec
  • one part freshly-squeezed lime juice

That's it; serve with ice cubes if you have them. Do not blend. Do not rim with salt. Do not use lime bar mix or Fresca. Do not add simple syrup. Mix and enjoy!

 

catching fish and shrimp in the party platform

catching fish and shrimp in the party platform

Whoops - we left the party platform deployed under the boat while we were in the states! When we pulled it up, the side-pockets were full of life. If you click on this photo, you can clearly see the large fish at the top, and several big, transparent, shrimp-like invertebrates swimming around in the captive pool.

 

the new addition to the family!

the new addition to the family!

There's a really sad story here - but before it was sad, it was a very happy story. We adopted a scraggly little Mexican street kitten and added her to our boat-gypsy family. I'll tell the story of little 'Alice' in another blog post.

 

zombie walk La Paz 2012

zombie walk La Paz 2012

It turns out that the 'Zombie Walk' phenomenon is wider-spread than we'd previously thought, and La Paz actually played host to an entire horror-themed film festival entitled 'Morbido La Paz'. There are few things that Miya and I like better than an excuse to get dressed up and silly, so we put together the best zombie costumes we could with our limited boat resources and shambled out into the town.

Best part: wandering around for at least an hour looking for the meet-up point for the zombie walk, soliciting help from the other boaters over the VHF radio and getting drastically contrasting reports of where to find the rest of the undead. Fortunately when we finally did find the other zombies, we found to our surprise that instead of the expected dozen or so fellow walkers/biters, we found a huge herd of probably two hundred! We moaned and shuffled our way through the night in search of cerebros...

 

Alice assisting with the refrigerator build project

Alice assisting with the refrigerator build project

One of the things we brought back to La Paz from San Diego was a long-coveted item - an icebox conversion kit which would turn our little built-in icebox into a proper refrigerator, complete with freezer! The kit cost an arm and a leg, and came as a box of parts and a series of cryptic instructions, including a bunch of crazy tool requirements. I had to track down someone in the boating community who would be willing to loan me an industrial vacuum pump and a set of refrigerator manifold gauges. As it turned out, none of the tools were far away and even though the build took much longer than expected, our friend Bill on s/v Wandering Puffin was a huge help in getting the system up and running.

Now, for the first time since moving aboard in 2009, we have the ability to store food for longer than a couple of days at a time! What a huge step forward... though admittedly so far my favourite use of the fridge is making ice cubes. Sill though - just because nothing in our world can ever be completely normal - the fact that our fridge is a top-loading icebox means that we're forced to use an expensive vertical ice cube tray.

going-away party at the Libertatia apartment

going-away party at the Libertatia apartment

One of the sad facts of cruising life is the realization that no matter how much you like your new friends, everyone is traveling, and sooner or later we all have to pull up the anchor and move on. This photo is of some of our friends from the summer; Malcolm and Lowell left on s/v Libertatia for California, arriving recently in San Francisco, and Mike and Nia left La Paz for Mazatlan in their boat s/v Azul, making it across the Sea of Cortez without incident... and without an engine!

Well, I think that pretty much brings us back up to current. More updates to come soon!

17Oct/120

Catching Up, Part 3: Vancouver and Burning Man

Part three of four updates, in which Our Intrepid Adventurers finds themselves traveling back to Canada and Oklahoma, respectively, for six weeks. The shared camera bit the biscuit, and hence this blog post will be relying mostly on the kindnesses of others to document the happenstances throughout. As a direct result, this post probably has the most photos of me of any blog post in the recent past!

Miya had obligations in Oklahoma, while I had obligations in Vancouver, and so we spent a solid month apart - the longest we'd ever been apart, by far. I had a wedding to attend, and a month later I had another show to promote (Sequential Circus 11), so it made very little sense to leave La Paz and come back only to leave again weeks later. I booked a month's stay at the Hotel Mike & Nicola and prepared myself for a month of splendid Vancouver summer.

photo by EspressoBuzz

playing guitar at Dave+Lori's wedding - photo by EspressoBuzz

The wedding couple are somewhat fans of my music, and as such I was invited to perform not once, not twice, but THREE distinct times during their epic three-day wedding affair out on a beautiful farm on Vancouver Island. Here I'm performing during their Friday evening talent show, using a rental guitar.

I learned a valuable lesson in this photo - I had warmed up a couple of original songs and a couple of covers, and intended to ask the audience what they'd prefer to hear. I figured I had about an 90% chance that they'd say "originals", but had a few songs in reserve just in case. So, I hit the stage.

"Do you want to hear some originals, or some covers?" I asked.

"BRITTNEY SPEARS!!" came the overwhelming reply.

...*sigh*.

 

what happens when you put dry ice in beer

what happens when you put dry ice in beer

During the reception, I was able to solve a lifelong dilemma - we all know that dry ice in warm water creates whitish smoke that bubbles and falls, but what happens when you add dry ice to beer?

Result: non-stop cold bubbles full of white smoke, and a mess. At least with Philips Longboat Chocolate Porter, the mess was delicious.

 

playing techno at Dave+Lori's wedding

playing techno at Dave+Lori's wedding - photo by EspressoBuzz

The second performance was to play a seven-minute rendition of Eddie Vedder's "Rise" on the mandolin, while the bride, groom and wedding party made their way slowly down the aisle. This was trickier than it sounds, since the original song is only about two-and-a-half minutes long... a few double-length bridges and an extended outtro and everyone was happy with the results.

This photo, on the other hand, is of the third performance of the weekend, a forty-minute return to the techno of years past, when I used to perform as 'MUX' at raves, clubs and techno parties. The outdoor venue was perfect for the style, and with the help of Jim Baxter's homebuilt laser effects rig, the dancefloor got properly techno'd.

 

playing techno at Trancemission 15

playing techno at Trancemission 15

Two weeks later (including a rejuvenating weekend at Bass Coast out in Squamish), I was invited to perform a set at Soundproof's annual summer party, Trancemission 15 in Pemberton. Miya actually flew up from Oklahoma for the weekend, and it was an extremely nice time spent with close friends, dancing outdoors in a farmer's field.

In this photo you can clearly see my new live-pa rig, comprised of my Macbook Pro computer attached to a Livid OhmRGB MIDI controller. The OhmRGB is a fantastic bit of hardware, though intensely geeky - it can do almost anything, but you really have to program it all yourself in Python!

I also was very happy to resurrect my Nord Micro Modular synthesizer - the size of a VHS tape, it's the perfect hardware synth for a boat... the only downside was that the software programming interface has not kept up with the times, and I had to build up a Windows 95 image in VMWare in order to program it. Installing Win95 for the first time in sixteen years was a serious flashback!

 

more techno, this time Sequential Circus 11

more techno, this time Sequential Circus 11

Our bi-annual electronic music concert series event Sequential Circus 11 went off without a hitch, and this time I also booked myself. I shared a stage with five other talented live electronic musicians, performing to a packed house of about 150 people in a warehouse in East Vancouver. The crowd ate it up, and this was absolutely my favourite performance of the summer! Here's a third-party review, if you're interested.

I managed to get a good recording of the set also - click the orange play button to have a listen:

[soundcloud]http://soundcloud.com/mux/full-set-live-pa-at-sequential[/soundcloud]

 

It's worth pointing out, in case you're unfamiliar - this sounds like DJ music, but I'm NOT A DJ. DJ's play other peoples' music; everything I play I wrote myself, using synthesizers, drum machines, effects and software.

Drew and Trent at Burning Man 2012

Trent and I at Burning Man 2012

I didn't think I would be able to make it to Burning Man this year, due to finances, but a surprise windfall from the tax man put me back in the black and when a ticket appeared within my reach I jumped at the chance.

It was great to hang out with good friends like Trent again, whom I hadn't seen in months!

The bright orange pants I'm wearing in this pic were ordered from Mascot, a Danish workwear company that recently opened up their distribution to the United States. I'll be doing a blog post on pants soon; I have a lot to say on the matter.

 

the Hajj, almost ready for licensing

the Hajj, almost ready for licensing

Miya, having similar financial constraints to myself, had decided earlier on that she wanted to attend Burning Man this year, and signed on with a group called 'Sacred Cow', who were building a camp of about a hundred and twenty people! This kind of camping requires some serious infrastructure, and in exchange for a free ticket and a ride to and from the desert, Miya agreed to show up in Seattle two weeks in advance, to spend a week in the city preparing supplies, a week setting up in the Black Rock Desert before Burning Man even started, and a few days in the desert after the event helping to tear down the camp!

Sacred Cow was a large camp with a middle eastern theme, and one of their bigger projects was a full-sized bus called "The Hajj", which was to be decorated like a bedouin tent and driven slowly around the desert. When I arrived, the first thing Monday morning I was assigned to a group working on getting the Hajj ready, and that project pretty much occupied the majority of my time for the next two days.

Where it got interesting was when we finally finished applying all the decorations - mostly fabrics attached to the bus with a large steel railing and series of PVC tubes - and went to the Department of Mutant Vehicles to apply for our permits. We were about 90% of the way through the inspection when a sudden windstorm came up... and the nylon tie-straps we'd used to secure the PVC pipes (I had asked for lashing wire, and someone was sent to Reno to buy some... but wires were crossed somehow and he returned with twine) started to break apart. Pieces of the Hajj started blowing across the playa, one narrowly missing one of the DMV inspectors.

"You know we can't in good conscience give you the permit the way things currently are, right?", he said. "Go back to your camp, sort this all out, and come back later to get your permit."

Fine, fine. That's what we did.

 

Miya with the road sign she broke off

Miya with the road sign she broke off

...but the travel back to the Sacred Cow camp wasn't without incident. Even with spotters on the roof of the Hajj and walking ahead and communicating with each other via handheld radio, driving a heavily-decorated bus around the crowded streets of Burning Man is no cakewalk. Miya, one of the only three people 'certified' to drive the bus, took a corner a little too sharply and broke off one of the road signs. Here she is posing with her trophy, right before I tracked down some long wood screws and a cordless drill and made the appropriate repairs... those roadsigns are a critical part of finding your way around in a temporary city of 50,000 people.

 

Jacob atop the Hajj

Jacob atop the Hajj

Jacob Stone, Miya's closest friend in Seattle, was really the reason Miya got on with the Sacred Cow group in the first place. This was Jacob's first year actually getting to stay at Burning Man, though he'd been there for the week-prior setup in 2011. Miya and I shared a hexayurt with Jacob, a desert-proof hexagonal structure made from panels of polyisocyanurate - I know this word because it is printed on the inside panels of the yurt, and I took it upon myself to memorize it! The yurts are essentially panels of insulating foam held together with industrial duct-tape, and very little else past that.

I have to say, this was my seventh time at Burning Man, and my first not camping in a tent. I was a little suspicious of the hexayurt movement, but after sleeping past noon on several occasions, I'm convinced that they're the best, most comfortable sleeping setup for Burning Man. Miya actually built several of the camp's hexayurts as a part of her advance-team projects for Sacred Cow.

 

Drew, Miya and a spork

Drew, Miya and a spork

This photo is pretty much representative of your typical Burning Man day-outing - of  note in this photo is Miya's bird-skull headdress that she made in the days following the boatyard, using her new-found fiberglass skills. She made a mold of the skull using tinfoil and masking tape, sprayed it down with Pam cooking spray and then laid up fiberglass over top. Some cleanup work with a Dremel tool and some added flowers later, she was left with the work of art you see above.

The spork is unrelated.

 

random pro-photographer shot

random pro-photographer shot

At the 3:00 Keyhole, we stumbled across a professional photographer, shooting some kind of large-format Polaroid-type film, where the photo was taken and available for viewing seconds later. He had a gorgeous gallery of photos set up outside, and almost no lineup, so Miya and I jumped at the chance. This has been my profile pic on Facebook ever since!

 

 

an afternoon bartending at Distrikt

an afternoon bartending at Distrikt

One of my favourite parts of Burning Man is working the bar at Distrikt, and this year was no exception... Distrikt is known as the premiere daytime dance party, and at peak times during the week you can expect about 5000 people dancing in the sun in front of a 30,000w sound system, with beautiful girls on towers brandishing power-washers full of ice-cold water spraying down the dancefloor.

This year was my third year working the bar, and I was brought on as a shift manager, in charge of a group of eight bartenders, four "bar-backs" running supplies to the bartenders, and two people whose sole task was dealing with the MOUNTAINS of recycling generated by this incredibly busy bar.

To give you an idea of the scale, behind the bar we had two tractor-trailers full of booze, including 360 bottles of Bacardi, 600 bottles of vodka, 3,600 cans of Red Bull and 14,400 cans of Dos Equis beer, among other things. MANY other things. Furthermore, the exchange of money is not allowed at Burning Man, so all of our drinks were given away for free - you just have to bring your own cup.

Admittedly though, this year I felt a bit of a disconnect with my Distrikt 'crew' - in the two years since I'd been a part of the bar, the camp has grown significantly, and there were only a couple of folks I felt really connected to. I showed up for an unscheduled bartending shift at one point, and worked a solid five hours right beside a young lady, slinging drinks and bantering with the "customers". Finally when the bar ran completely out of ice with only an hour or so to go I threw in the towel, walked to the other side of the bar, and tried to get that fellow bartender to make me a drink. She looked at me blankly, and told me I'd have to go to the ID Check to get a stamp before she would serve me. I was flabbergasted - we just worked side-by-side for five straight hours, and without my even leaving the bar you don't recognize me at all?!? I acquiesced, and went to the ID Check... who also did not recognize me, and wouldn't even believe I was a part of the bar until I pulled them aside and showed them my name on the bar schedule.

Clearly it was just a symptom of the massive turnover that we as bartenders see at the the bar - but still, sadly, I definitely felt more at home with the Sacred Cow camp than with the Distrikt crew this year.

 

With at least a dozen friends hitting the playa for the first time this year, and the preliminary weather reports showing the Black Rock Desert to be exceptionally dusty, I found myself dishing out dust-survival advice to anyone who'd listen... but soon I found friends referring their friends to me for guidance, and after the second "Hi, you don't know me but so-and-so gave me your number..." phonecall I decided to take a couple of hours and put together this video, showing off my technique for surviving the dust, a combination of the 3M 9211 dust mask, a pair of ski goggles and a 'shemagh' or 'keffiyeh' scarf.

 

riding bikes around the playa

riding bikes around the playa

In this photo, we're out during the day riding around in comfort in our protective dust gear. Fortunately the playa wasn't nearly as dusty as expected - the word "Dustpocalypse" was bandied about quite a lot before the event! - but there were still regular whiteouts on the open playa, and lots of folks were wandering about with little or no protection.

Even though I was conscientious about wearing my protective gear whenever needed, I still broke one of my own recommendations and forgot to bring saline nasal spray. As a result, by the end of the week my nasal passages were cracked and bleeding, all the way back to my throat, and it took about two weeks back in the regular world before they went back to normal.

 

Miya's favourite art, "El Pulpo Mechanico"

Miya's favourite art, "El Pulpo Mechanico"

This photo shows Miya's favourite art car, a gigantic, rolling, rusty, robotic flaming octopus called "El Pulpo Mechanico". El Pulpo would roll slowly around the desert, stopping occasionally (usually near an audio installation, in this case a soundcar called 'Heart Deco' playing most excellent house music. We stopped here to dance for an hour while on a wonderful evening out with our friends Chris and Angela.

If you'd like to see El Pulpo Mechanico in action, here is a video (not my own!).

 

returning to La Paz, old and new flags

returning to La Paz, old and new flags

Burning Man came slowly to a close, and we finally returned to the TIE Fighter, after just over six weeks away. I had noticed the Canadian flag getting a little bit ratty before we left, and so I ordered a few extras while I was in Canada - just in time, apparently, as the former flag had torn itself to ribbons while we were away!

 

the remains of the garden

the remains of the garden

Sadly, the guy we had hired to check in on the boat and water the garden found himself another job while we were away, and was only able to drop in a few times in the later half of our vacation. The garden did not survive. Miya has since re-planted, and so far her dwarf Siberian kale has shown the most promise... more to come on the garden soon.

Well, that concludes the third update - one more to go and we'll be back up to date!

 

31Dec/102

What I Did On My Summer Vacation – August Edition

Given that we're a few hours away from 2011, I guess I should probably clear this posting out of my 'drafts' folder!  This is the third and last installment of the 'Summer Vacation' blog series; the series of photos showing the brutal amount of work done to Tie Fighter over the summer months.

If by some chance you missed the June and July editions, I recommend you read those first.  Without further ado:

up on the hard, repairs proceeding

up on the hard, repairs proceeding

With the sanding finally finished, it was time to re-tape the hull and apply the primer paint. A darker shade of gray paint was chosen, because while white paint reflects the visible spectrum of light and doesn't absorb heat, it still allows ultraviolet light to pass through which will eventually destroy the fiberglass.  The pigment in the gray primer absorbs the UV light, protecting the fiberglass underneath.

In this photo you can also see the patched hole in the hull near the main bow, where I removed and replaced the oddball old, seized 2" ball valve for the head output with a proper 1.5" stainless valve.  While I had her out of the water I replaced all of the old ball valves with new stainless valves, and removed and sealed up two that weren't used anymore... the handle on one of those ball valves had rusted completely off and the outlet had been capped off with a copper pipe cap.  I have no idea what that through-hull was for originally but it obviously hadn't been used in years and was a liability.

hulls primed!

hulls primed!

This is what Tie Fighter looked like primed with the military gray paint.  I loved the way she looked, and if it were possible I would have left her this way - the problem is that as a wooden boat, she has to be painted white.  Anything darker absorbs heat, and causes the wood hull to expand and contract, which will eventually cause the fiberglass to separate from the hull.  If that happens, moisture (via condensation) will form between the fiberglass and the wood, and eventually the whole boat will rot from the inside out.  So yeah.  White.

Pity though!  I wished I could have just painted a big white number on the side and left her this way - she'd look like a Canadian warship!

head and forward locker painted

head and forward locker painted

While she was up on the hard I might as well use some of the extra epoxy paint to update the insides... here's the head, prior to ripping out the toilet, pedestal, floor and... well, everything really.  The head is much nicer now, as you'll see in later photos...

topsides primed

topsides primed

After the first coat of primer went on, the whole boat had to be sanded again and wiped down with solvents before the second coat..  Those sanders went through hell and back, and the solvent fumes made us dizzy and melted several pairs of rubber gloves.

In the background you can see that it's garbage day in the boatyard; all the dumpsters are being lined up right across from Tie Fighter, so that the garbage trucks could spend an hour making a huge racket at 5am.  By August we didn't even hear them anymore - after long hard days in the sun, sleep was deep.

James rolling and tipping in the dark

James rolling and tipping in the dark

Once the second coat of primer was on and sanded, it was time to put on the first coat of the finish paint, Interlux 'Brightside' white.  The paint is a single-part polyurethane - which we now know isn't a good thing to put over top of a two-part primer (ie, paint that comes in two cans, a base and an 'activator', which need to be mixed together before application).  Brightside gives a very professional-looking finish when "rolled and tipped"; first the paint is applied with a roller, and then you lightly brush over it with a foam brush to knock out all the tiny bubbles, leaving a sexy, glossy finish.  When we finally figured out how to do it properly we worked long into the night painting the hulls, fighting off the swarms of mosquitoes from the nearby swamps that showed up every night as soon as the sun went down.

Tie Fighter, white!

Tie Fighter, white!

Within a couple of days, the whole boat was shiny and white.  At this point, however, catastrophe struck - the paint on the bottom and hull was drying properly, but the topsides didn't seem to be drying at all!

I don't have clear memories of the next few days - I do remember being brought closer to tears of frustration than I have been in many years.  Dark times indeed.

At least the paint on the hull sides and bottom seemed to be drying properly... the primer used there had been a two-part epoxy primer by Interlux, but the topside primer was a two-part epoxy from a different company, and as far as we could tell it didn't dry the same as the paint on the bottom, and the off-gassing of the primer drying caused "solvent entrapment", causing the Brightside to still be tacky three days after application.

topsides, sanded down again

topsides, sanded down again

We had no choice but to sand all the new white paint off and start over from the primer again.  Two more solid days of sanding nonstop, and we were back to square one.  Sanding gummy, partly-dried paint is way more work than sanding old, dried paint, and we went through hundreds of sanding discs.

forward bilges, epoxy paint drying

forward bilges, epoxy paint drying

Since there were three of us sanding, but only two sanders, we took the time to gut the bilges in the forward cabin and apply a couple of coats of thick, tough Interlux 'BilgeCote' epoxy paint.  Wow - the bilges went from a dark, dirty, scary gutter to a reasonably nice place for extra storage!

hatches drying in the sun

hatch covers drying in the sun

I had nearly forgotten about the hatch covers - all of them needed minor repairs, a good sanding and several coats of paint.  A few days of work and they were shiny and new again.

In the background is James' tent, which he lived out of for several weeks.

topsides white

topsides white

FINALLY, the topsides were painted again - it took far longer than expected, and I got my first sunburn of the summer, working 14-hour days trying to get this goddamned project finished and back in the water!

In this photo you can see the repairs to the front window evident, now that it's all one color; I thought I had spent enough time sanding the area, but I guess it could have used one more pass with thickened epoxy and another hour or two of sanding.

applying the BC vessel registration numbers

applying the BC vessel registration numbers

The registration numbers going on, for the first time.  The VPD would be pleased about this, since they'd fined me $100 earlier in the summer for not having them displayed.  That was my first police fine since a speeding ticket fifteen years prior!

I love how shiny the hull is in this photo!

masking tape removed

masking tape removed

When the tape finally came off, she was looking amazing!  I had many boatyard folks come over to congratulate me on the work, saying how impressed they were.  Dan, James and I had been working on her nearly every single day since the start of the summer, and it was finally starting to show.  Of course, there was still a tonne of work to be done before she could go back into the water - but at least the outside was (mostly) finished...

Tie Fighter, shiny in the sun

Tie Fighter, shiny in the sun

Ernst came out to visit and take a few pics with his fancy camera-on-a-stick rig - a long, extendable monopod with a remote trigger.  He got this shot and the next one on a beautiful sunny afternoon.

Tie Fighter, ready for intergalactic battle

Tie Fighter, ready for intergalactic battle

This is probably my favourite shot of the entire summer - she just looks so fast and smooth!  The decks are so shiny - of course, we'd still have to apply two more coats of paint yet, a couple of coats of anti-skid paint so that walking across the wet deck wouldn't result in a swim.

Kym painting the bootstripe

Kym painting the bootstripe

Kym came out and spent a few days in the boatyard to help with the work - she had some time off, and as someone who enjoys working on boats she was happy to help.  I put her to work taping off the bootstripe, a just-for-looks stripe around the base of each hull.  This was a much larger job than either of us anticipated, and taping alone took almost seven hours!

Tie Fighter, bootstriped

Tie Fighter, bootstriped

With the masking tape removed, the bootstripe looked fantastic, well worth the effort.  The Searunner Construction Manual says that a bootstripe can make the difference between a boat and a yacht.

aft cabin, workshop mode

aft cabin, workshop mode

With all the work on the outside, we had pretty much completely neglected the interior of the boat which was still completely gutted.  If I had any intention of moving back into the boat as my home there would be a lot of work to be done yet!

tearing apart the head

tearing apart the head

I found a new marine toilet - a Groco 'Model K' - on Craigslist for $200 delivered.  Given that the Model K retails for over $1000, I thought this was a great chance to upgrade my bathroom facilities, and jumped on the deal.  The new toilet was a good 10cm taller than the old one, however, and so the pedestal would have to be lowered - it was as good a time as any to rip everything out and start from scratch.

remasted!

remasted!

Once the chainplates were reinstalled and the two coats of antiskid paint were applied, it was as good a time as any to get the mast back up.  Michael Flynn took the day to come and help re-rig Tie Fighter - his help was welcomed, especially since he's a professional rigger with a tonne of sailboat experience!

up the mast!

up the mast!

Of course, re-masting the boat left a chunk of rope at the top of the mast.  Someone had to go up to retrieve it, so I tied my climbing harness into the mainsail halyard and Michael cranked me up with the main winch while Kym tailed the line.  This was the first time I'd ever been up the mast.

good riddance, work pants.

good riddance, work pants.

During that day, at some point I was pulling some line and managed to tear the entire crotch out of my work shorts.  Last year, I wrecked probably half of my wardrobe when working on the boat - this year, I decided early to designate a single pair of pants as my work pants, and I spent most of the summer in these shorts.  By the end, the legs were so thick with paint and epoxy and sweat that they were stiff, and the pants could almost stand up on their own!

fantastic pic from Ernst

a beautiful art shot from Ernst

Ernst came out again to take a few more shots of Tie Fighter - I finagled him into helping me reinstall the centerboard at this point, which was a brutal job - the centerboard trunk is approximately three meters long by two meters deep, and there's a 3cm hole in the centerboard itself which needs to match up to a pair of 3cm holes found deep in the bilge.  The process of reinstalling the centerboard is much like threading a needle, only with the needle being 100kg and needing a winch to move it.  After several hours trying, Ernst came up with the final solution which was to draw arrow lines radiating out from the centerboard's hole, and to look into the trunk with a flashlight to see the lines.  Once the lines were drawn, we had the centerboard lined up and the holding pin installed within minutes!

Scott laying the traveler

Scott laying the traveler

My brother-in-law Scott came out to help with a few of the final rigging tasks, between working and school.  Here he's lining up the bolt-holes on the traveler.

rigged and ready

rigged and ready

FINALLY, she was ready to go back into the water.  I was filled with pride - this was by far the largest and most difficult project I'd ever been a part of, much less in charge of.  I took this final photo - you can see my bicycle aboard, ready to go back to living   on the water.

lifting her up...

lifting her up...

The dinghy was lifted back up onto the deck by a friendly forklift operator, and the lifting straps were put into place...

carried across the yard...

carried across the yard...

Across the yard we went!

...and dropped back into the water!

...and dropped back into the water!

On August 24th, bright and early in the morning, Tie Fighter finally went back into the water.  Fortunately, she floated and all of the hull repairs proved to be watertight.  Unfortunately, we hadn't had a chance to do any engine work yet, and so I couldn't really do much besides motor down a few hundred meters and dock at C-dock, where I would spend the next two months continuing to repair and upgrade the inside of the boat.

the finished head!

the finished head!

At C-dock, I had time to finish the head.  Here's a shot of the toilet installed, with the holding tank plumbed and secured to a shelf with ratcheting tiedown straps.  Technically this photo is from mid-September, but I figured it would be best to include an "after" shot, given the two or three "before" pics.

As the summer came to an inevitable close, I spent a lot of time feeling bitter about the fact that I had spent the entire warm-weather months doing something that I thought would be completely finished before the summer even started.  I had really wanted to spend the summer living the Vancouver lifestyle, bouncing from beach party to afterparty, sailing as much as possible, and having a great time.  Instead it was several months of hard labour ,while paying through the nose for the privilege of doing so.  It was my friend Dan Ross who set me straight; I was complaining about the loss of the summer when he said something like

"Actually", he said, "I have to say, this has been probably the most interesting summer of my life - I've learned a tonne of new stuff, and been a part of a large project that we finished.  I can't say I have a single complaint."

I was broadsided by that statement but when I thought about it I had to agree.  It was the most interesting summer in memory, and at the end of it all I have my home to to show for it.  She still has a tonne of work to be done, but she's solid, stable and floating, and eventually she'll take  me wherever I want to go.  The weakest link in the chain is me, and that's a lesson - paid for dearly - that I'll always have.

30Apr/100

What a Week!


my hand in a wrist brace

my hand after a bike wipeout

Argh - I would like to write about the week I've been having.  There have been so many things  happening!

UNFORTUNATELY, one of those things that has happened is that I managed to wipe out on my bicycle, pulling a tendon (I think?) in my wrist.  As a result, I have had to have my right hand - my dominant hand - in a splint for the past three days.  This has also meant that I cannot safely ride my bicycle, so I've essentially had my wings clipped.  Furthermore it makes typing very uncomfortable!

On top of that, the winds have been blowing strong from the northwest for the past week - this wouldn't normally be a problem, but what with my diminished capacity for all things manual, rowing included, I am somewhat landlocked.  I've spent the past two days working from my friend Carrie's living room couch, while she is on an epic rock-climbing adventure in Thailand.

Lots has happened, and things are moving forward in my grand scheme at a very rapid rate - I'll update this site as soon as it is more comfortable to type.