Considering a sailing adventure to Mexico? Just look at how engrossed that guy is in the book! Grab a copy of the Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico, and you too can find yourself sitting on a Mexican dock with an oversized (but very attractive) hat.

Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico

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Entries in books (17)

Monday
Feb022015

Capital in the Twenty-First Century

We're not here to save the fucking manatees, guys.I've been reading the phenominal book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. It's one of those rare reads that really lays bare a topic, piles hundreds of years of research into the mix, and unfortunately leaves the reader with a cold reality that they might not want to know. 

A fundamental tenant is that the rate of return on capital always grows faster than wage increases. It's a documentable and research backed argument that makes clear the case that so many of us have been wrapping our heads around: the rich get richer, and actually the poor get richer too, but not at the same pace. Or said otherwise, the gap between those who make a return on capital is ever widening over those who earn wages. 

For millions of people, “wealth” amounts to little more than a few weeks’ wages in a checking account or low-interest savings account, a car, and a few pieces of furniture. The inescapable reality is this: wealth is so concentrated that a large segment of society is virtually unaware of its existence, so that some people imagine that it belongs to surreal or mysterious entities. That is why it is so essential to study capital and its distribution in a methodical, systematic way.

Trust me: I like money as much as the next guy, and probably more. But even if you'd like to entertain the idea of pulling one's self up via the proverbial bootstraps, arguing ideology against data typically has results on par with chieftans claiming magic shields that will stop bullets. In short, you argue against reality to your detrement. 

Capital in the Twenty-First Century is alreadying being regarded as a seminal work, and has ushered forth a new dialogue. One in which we're not foolish enough to adhere to laissez faire capitalism nor find solace in Marxism, but instead are forced to confront the data and trends that our decisions have brought to us.

We should be beyond arguing ideology, or at least entertain reality as much as we do our political fetishes. 

Friday
Nov012013

cruising blues - by robert pirsig

In my wildest dreams I will be half the writer that Robert Pirsig is, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In addition to writing what is often considered one of the greatest modern American stories, Robert Pirsig is also a sailor and spent a lot of time sailing about and crossing the Atlantic. This is from an article in the May 1977 edition of Esquire magazine that he penned.

Their case was typical. After four years of hard labor their ocean-size trimaran was launched in Minneapolis at the head of Mississippi navigation. Six and one half months later they had brought it down the river and across the gulf to Florida to finish up final details. Then at last they were off to sail the Bahamas, the Lesser Antilles and South America. Only it didn't work out that way. Within six weeks they were through. The boat was back in Florida up for sale. 


"Our feelings were mixed," they wrote their hometown paper. "Each of us had a favorite dream unfulfilled, a place he or she wanted to visit, a thing to do. And most of us felt sheepish that our 'year's escape' shrunk to eight months. Stated that way, it doesn't sound as if we got our money's worth for our four years' labor." 


"But most of us had had just about all the escape we could stand; we're overdosed on vacation. Maybe we aren't quite as free spirits as we believed; each new island to visit had just a bit less than its predecessor." 


"And thoughts were turning to home." 


Change the point of origin to Sacramento or Cincinnati or any of thousands of places where the hope of sailing the world fills landlocked, job-locked dreamers; add thousands of couples who have saved for years to extend their weekends on the water to a retirement at sea, then sell their boats after six months; change the style and size of the boat, or the ages and backgrounds of the participants, and you have a story that is heard over and over again in cruising areas - romantic dreams of a lifetime destroyed by a psychological affliction that has probably ended the careers of more cruising sailors than all other causes together: cruising depression. 


"I don't know what it was we thought we were looking for," one wife said in a St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, harbor after she and her husband had decided to put their boat up for sale and go home. "But whatever it was, we certainly haven't discovered it in sailing. It seemed that it was going to be such a dream life, but now, looking back on it, it just seems . . . oh, there have been beautiful times, of course, but mostly it's just been hard work and misery. More than we would have had if we had stayed home." 
A husband said, "We find ourselves getting on each other's nerves, being cooped up like this with each other day after day. We never realized that in order to enjoy being with someone you have to have periods of separation from that person too. We sailed on weekends and short vacations for years. But living aboard isn't the same." 


Statements symptomatic of cruising depression vary from person to person, but common to most are long periods of silence in a person who is normally talkative, followed by a feeling of overwhelming sadness that at first seems to have no specific cause, then, on reflection, seems to have many causes, such as: 
  • Everything is breaking down on this boat. 
  • Everything is going to hell. Considering the number of things that could break down, the attrition is actually quite normal, but now there isn't the time or tools to make major repairs, and the costs of boatyard labor and overhead are out of sight. So now every part failure - a pump that won't work, a loose propeller shaft, a windlass that sticks - looms up as a catastrophe, and during the long hours at the helm while the problem remains unfixed, it grows larger and larger in the mind. 
  • Money is running short. 
  • Most of the big supermarkets are too far from the boat to walk to. 
  • Marine stores seem to overcharge on everything. 
  • Money is always running short, but now that fact, which was once a challenge, is a source of despair. A serious cruising person always seems to find the money one way or another, usually by taking short-term waterfront jobs, and taking them without much resentment. His boat gives him something to work for. But now the boat itself is resented and there is nothing to work for. 
  • The people are unfriendlier here than back home. Back home people seemed friendlier, but now cruising depression has put a scowl and a worried look on the sailor's face that makes people keep their distance. 
All this is just running away from reality. You never realize how good that friendly old nine-to-five office job can be. Just little things - like everyone saying hello each morning or the supervisor stopping by to get your opinion because he really needs it. And seeing old friends and familiar neighbors and streets you've lived near all your life. Who wants to escape all that? Perhaps what cruising teaches more than anything else is an appreciation of the real world you might otherwise think of as oppressive.


This last symptom - the desire to "get back to reality" - is one I've found in almost every case of cruising depression and may be the key to the whole affliction. If one bears down on this point a little it begins to open up and reveal deeper sources of trouble.


One first has to ask where those who are depressed got the idea that cruise sailing was an escape from reality. Who ever taught them that? What exactly do they mean? Scientists and philosophers spend their entire working lives puzzling over the nature of reality, but now the depressed ones use the term freely, as though everyone should know and agree with what they mean by it.


As best I can make out, reality for them is the mode of daily living they followed before taking to the water; unlike cruise sailing, it is the one shared by the majority of the members of our culture. It usually means gainful employment in a stable economic network of some sort without too much variance from what are considered the norms and mores of society. In other words, back to the common herd. 


The illogic is not hard to find. The house-car-job complex with its nine-to-five office routine is common only to a very small percentage of the earth's population and has only been common to this percentage for the last hundred years or so. If this is reality, have the millions of years that preceded our current century all been unreal? 


An alternative - and better - definition of reality can be found by naming some of its components ...air...sunlight...wind...water...the motion of waves...the patterns of clouds before a coming storm. These elements, unlike twentieth-century office routines, have been here since before life appeared on this planet and they will continue long after office routines are gone. They are understood by everyone, not just a small segment of a highly advanced society. When considered on purely logical grounds, they are more real than the extremely transitory life-styles of the modern civilization the depressed ones want to return to. 


If this is so, then it follows that those who see sailing as an escape from reality have got their understanding of both sailing and reality completely backwards. Sailing is not an escape but a return to and a confrontation of a reality from which modern civilization is itself an escape. For centuries, man suffered from the reality of an earth that was too dark or too hot or too cold for his comfort, and to escape this he invented complex systems of lighting, heating and air conditioning. Sailing rejects these and returns to the old realities of dark and heat and cold. Modern civilization has found radio, TV, movies, nightclubs and a huge variety of mechanized entertainment to titillate our senses and help us escape from the apparent boredom of the earth and the sun and wind and stars. Sailing returns to these ancient realities. 


For many of the depressed ones, the real underlying source of cruising depression is that they have thought of sailing as one more civilized form of stimulation, just like movies or spectator sports, and somehow felt their boat had an obligation to keep them thrilled and entertained. But no boat can be an endless source of entertainment and should not be expected to be one. 


A lot of their expectation may have come from weekend sailing, whose pleasures differ greatly from live-aboard cruising. In weekend sailing, depression seldom shows up, because the sailing is usually a relief from a monotonous workweek. The weekender gets just as depressed as the live-aboard cruiser, but he does it at home or on the job and thinks of these as the cause of the depression. When he retires to the life of cruising, he continues the mistake by thinking, Now life will be just like all those summer weekends strung end to end. And of course he is wrong. 


There is no way to escape the mechanism of depression. It results from lack of a pleasant stimulus and is inevitable because the more pleasant stimuli you receive the less effective they become. If, for example, you receive an unexpected gift of money on Monday, you are elated. If the same gift is repeated on Tuesday, you are elated again but a little less so because it is a repetition of Monday's experience. On Wednesday he elation drops a little lower and on Thursday and Friday a little lower still. By Saturday you are rather accustomed to the daily gift and take it for granted. Sunday, if there is no gift, you are suddenly depressed. Your level of expectation has adjusted upward during the week and now must adjust downward. 


The same is true of cruising. You can see just so any beautiful sunsets strung end on end, just so any coconut palms waving in the ocean breeze, just so many exotic moonlit tropical nights scented with oleander and frangipani, and you become adjusted. They no longer elate. The pleasant external stimulus has worn out its response and cruising depression takes over. This is the point at which boats get sold and cruising dreams are shattered forever. One can extend the high for a while by searching for new and more exciting pursuits, but sooner or later the depression mechanism must catch up with you and the longer it has been evaded the harder it hits. 


It follows that the best way to defeat cruising depression is never to run from it. You must face into it, enter it when it comes, just be gloomy and enjoy the gloominess while it lasts. You can be sure that the same mechanism that makes depression unavoidable also makes future elation unavoidable. Each hour or day you remain depressed you become more and more adjusted to it until in time there is no possible way to avoid an upturn in feelings. The days you put in depressed are like money in the bank. They make the elated days possible by their contrast. You cannot have mountains without valleys and you cannot have elation without depression. Without their combined upswings and downswings, existence would be just one long tedious plateau. 


When depression is seen as an unavoidable part of one's life, it becomes possible to study it with less aversion and discover that within it are all sorts of overlooked possibilities. 


To begin with, depression makes you far more aware of subtleties of your surroundings. Out on a remote anchorage, the call of a wild duck during an elated period is just the call of a wild duck. But if you are depressed and your mind is empty from the down-scaling of depression, then that strange lonely sound can suddenly bring down a whole wave of awareness of empty spaces and water and sky. It sounds strange, but some of my happiest memories are of days when I was very depressed. Slow monotonous grey days at the helm, beating into a wet freezing wind. Or a three-day dead calm that left me in agonies of heat and boredom and frustration. Days when nothing seemed to go right. Nights when impending disaster was all I could think of. I think of those as "virtuous days," a strange term for them that has a meaning all its own. 


Virtue here comes from childhood reading about the old days of sailing ships when young men were sent to sea to learn manliness and virtue. I remember being skeptical about this. "How could a monotonous passage across a pile of water produce virtue?" I wondered. I figured that maybe a few bad storms would scare hell out of the young men and this would make them humble and manly and virtuous and appreciative of life ever afterward, but it seemed like a dubious curriculum. There were cheaper and quicker ways to scare people than that. 


Now, however, with a boat of my own and some time at sea, I begin to see the learning of virtue another way. It has something to do with the way the sea and sun and wind and sky go on and on day after day, week after week, and the boat and you have to go on with it. You must take the helm and change the sails and take sights of the stars and work out their reductions and sleep and cook and eat and repair things as they break and do most of these things in stormy weather as well as fair, depressed as well as elated, because there's no choice.


You get used to it; it becomes habit-forming and produces a certain change in values. Old gear that has been through a storm or two without failure becomes more precious than it was when you bought it because you know you can trust it. The same becomes true of fellow crewmen and ultimately becomes true of things about yourself. Good first appearances count for less than they ever did, and real virtue - which comes from an ability to separate what merely looks good from what lasts and the acquisition of those characteristics in one's self - is strengthened. 


But beyond this there seems to be an even deeper teaching of virtue that rises out of a slow process of self-discovery after one has gone through a number of waves of danger and depression and is no longer overwhelmingly concerned about them. 


Self-discovery is as much a philosopher's imponderable as reality, but when one takes away the external stimuli of civilization during long ocean hours at the helm far from any land, and particularly on overcast nights, every cruising sailor knows that what occurs is not an evening of complete blankness. Instead comes a flow of thought drawn forth by the emptiness of the night.


Occurrences of the previous day, meager as they may have been, rise and are thought about for a while, and then die away to return again later, a little less compelling, and perhaps another time even weaker, until they die away completely and are not thought of again. Then older memories appear, of a week past, a month past, of years past, and these are thought about and sometimes interrelated with new insights. A problem that has been baffling in the past is now understood quickly. New ideas for things seem to pop up from nowhere because the rigid patterns of thought that inhibited them are now weakened by emptiness and depression. Then in time these new thoughts wear town too, and the empty night dredges deeper into the subconscious to tug at, loosen and dislodge old forgotten thoughts that were repressed years ago. Old injustices that one has had to absorb, old faces now gone, ancient feelings of personal doubt, remorse, hatred and fear, are suddenly loose and at you. You must face them again and again until they die away like the thoughts preceding them.


This self that one discovers is in many ways a person one would not like one's friends to know about; a person one may have been avoiding for years, full of vanity, cowardice, boredom, self-pity, laziness, blamingness, weak when he should be strong, aggressive when he should be gentle, a person who will do anything not to know these things about himself - the very same fellow who has been having problems with cruising depression all this time. I think it's in the day-after-day, week-after-week confrontation of this person that the most valuable learning of virtue takes place. 


But if one will allow it time enough, the ocean itself can be one's greatest ally in dealing with this person. As one lives on the surface of the empty ocean day after day after day after day and sees it sometimes huge and dangerous, sometimes relaxed and dull, but always, in each day and week, endless in every direction, a certain understanding of one's self begins slowly to break through, reflected from the sea, or perhaps derived from it. 


This is the understanding that whether you are bored or excited, depressed or elated, successful or unsuccessful, even whether you are alive or dead, all this is of absolutely no consequence whatsoever. The sea keeps telling you this with every sweep of every wave. And when you accept this understanding of yourself and agree with it and continue on anyway, then a real fullness of virtue and self-understanding arrives. And sometimes the moment of arrival is accompanied by hilarious laughter. The old reality of the sea has put cruising depression in its proper perspective at last. 
Tuesday
Oct012013

now reading: The World's Most Dangerous Place

I don't know when I became a foreign policy wonk but I think it had something to do with seeing the often glaring disconnect between what we think we know and what's actually happening.

The first time one of your long cherished opinions gets rattled by evidence to the contrary tends to leave a mark.

I'm not sure if the Internet has made us dumber, but I know it's made it a lot easier for people to read news and articles that re-enforce their own beliefs. People on the right and left of the political spectrum listen to their respective prophets but they both have a similar weakness: over simplified and boiled down arguments.

This is on purpose of course, since we hate nuance and rarely have time for detail. Research is dangerous: you may very well end up learning something that conflicts with what you believe. 

Take the "fallacy of the single cause". After any major event there is the simple question of "What was the cause of this?" The question implies that there is only one, or at least one primary explanation. Unless we're talking about how ice cubes are made, real life is rarely so polite to make itself simple.

Needless to say I was intrigued when I saw The World's Most Dangerous Place reviewed in Foreign Affairs

I have seen Black Hawk Down, I know there are pirates, and I know Mogadishu is a great place to get killed. To put it another way, I didn't know anything and my opinions were based in Hollywood movies and some cable TV news, both of which are entertainment. 

On a practical level Somalia comprises the majority of the Horn of Africa, and of course is the global hotbed of ship piracy. For the latter reason alone it would behoove any sailor transiting the Indian Ocean to understand the dynamics involved and crank up their knowledge beyond second hand information and a few websites. At a geopolitical level there is also the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab.

Author James Fergusson moves between Somalia, Kenya, London, and the United States to provide the full picture of Somalia and its diaspora scattered around the west. 

May 2013, Mogadishu. Note the guy floating in the inner tube, relaxing.What struck me the most about Somalia was actually something similar to Mexico. To many there is an over-simplified belief that Mexico is a "dangerous place". Once that stamp is applied there is little interest in learning more. That over simplification, that you can hold an opinion valuable enough to express based on Hollywood movies and readily-consumable-journalism, is precisely why this book is so valuable.

The trouble ain't what people don't know, it's what they know that just ain't so.

James Fergusson put together a very engaging book which arms the reader with an educated look at a country that is on the brink of peace or argmeggedon. Whether your interests lie in your own personal safety or that of your nation, or simply in the plight of the vast majority of innocent Somalis, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.

Saturday
Aug242013

now reading: Empires of Light, inspired by Epic Rap Battles of History

Before we left La Paz for our one week sail-a-thon to Puerto Escondido I made sure to load up my Kindle with some new books. One distinct advantage to being Internet-less is that you can read a lot. If you don't think you have enough time to read, add up the time you spend behind a computer or television watching anything: there's your reading time.

Like most things worth doing, reading is not as inherently fun as playing XBox or watching animated gif's on social media of people doing stupid things. But also like most things worth doing, reading is in fact good for you. Ten hours a week of bullshitting online, just cut in half, would give you 130,000 pages in a year (5 hours a week)(52 weeks)(50 pages an hour average), or ~43 books. 

To provide some background, I'm a huge fan of Epic Rap Battles of History and can probably watch them all, every day, and laugh just as hard. Some are better than others, but overall I think ERB (its acronym) is a great example of how a half a dozen people with a camera and some software can rival the entertainment quality of a "real" production system. It was therefore quite normal for me to stumble across one of their recent clips: Thomas Edison vs Nikola Tesla.

I laughed and in general I knew that Tesla was the iconic unsung scientist. I read about the Philadelphia Experiment: the USS Eldridge equipped with Tesla coils phasing in and out of space-time. I had what I would refer to as a History Channel level of knowledge of the subject: poor. So I decided that it would be a fine time to read about the people and technology that makes the very thing I'm typing on, and you're reading on, work.

I wanted something that would put Tesla and Edison into context and I got that, plus much more. Empires of Light if anything is rather lacking in the technical whatcha-ma-jigs that actually went into, and go into, the production and consumption of electricity. Intstead it's a tale of soulless corporate tycoons in the Gilded Age, generally benevolant robber barons, all-American worth ethic, and the heavy tax paid by those with unmanaged talent

The real story of Tesla, Edison, and Westinghouse is that they weren't in a vacuum. Politics, circumstances, and random happenings of fate sometimes defined their paths as much as did their talents. 

As a side note, but one that is sadly relevant, this book was written before the 2007 Financial Crisis and the description and quotes from the Panic of 1893 are eerily familiar. 

In short Empires of Light is not only a history of the harnessing of electricity but also of the many shapes and forms that the American Dream can take. 

 

Friday
Aug022013

now reading: Empire of Illusion

I don't know how I stumbled across this excellent book, but Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle has been an enlightening read, although a bit sad.

I've heard of "celebrity culture" before, but I had never really understood the impact of it. Think of the hundreds of millions of people who are functionally illiterate, who've never read a book after high school (or college), who watch endless reality television shows and know more about the manufactured world of celebrities than the real one. 

The vocabulary and grammar of US Presidential elections have steadily decreased over the ages. In Lincoln's time, only someone with the education of a high school senior would be able to fully understand the discussion. Obama caused a small bump, but in the Kerry-Bush debates it had sunk to a 6th grade level.

The steady dumbing-down of society is not limited to the United States, but it is the general focus of the book. 

Rather than living in the real world, more and more people live in the manufactured make-believe world.

Only 20% of American families buy one or more books every year, and half of Americans can't read something beyond an 8th grade level.

On a very practical and personal note it makes me quite happy to know that a huge benefit to raising kids outside of the specter of American society is that the firehose of celebrity and consumer culture is reduced to a dripping faucet. 

Reading material like this makes me think of best-intentioned parents questioning our decision to distance our children from the typical American upbringing. More and more I find myself turning the raised eyebrow back at them, wondering about their rationale in staying in it.

Sunday
Jun302013

now reading: foreign affairs (july / august 2013)

I've been a long time reader of Foreign Affairs, a twice-monthly publication put out by the Council on Foreign Relations. Primarily written (and read) by diplomats and those operating in the foreign policy sphere, Foreign Affairs is not your typical magazine. Five to ten thousand word articles are the norm, with authors ranging from Henry Kissinger to George Bush to Hillary Clinton to Colin Powell. You may not agree with a given author's politics but what cannot be argued is their position as a policy creator or influencer. Rarely is an essay simply a policy stump speech, and where it is you'll typically find a full rebuttal essay right next to it 

The current issue has an excellent essay: The Rise of Mexico's Self Defense Forces, discussing the current status of armed militia units spreading through Mexico.

All of their content is available on the Amazon Kindle, so as much as I loved getting the stately printed editions complete with book-quality binding, the digital content is the only practical mechanism for me these days.

If you're at all a foreign policy wonk, consider getting a free trial month on your Kindle or downloading an article here and there from the website

Friday
May312013

you may now refer to me as eric the (self) published author

That's right: just like everyone else with a sailing adventure I now also have a book for sale. The Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico

In earnest though I did try to separate myself from the scribblings of memoirs that seem to be the norm for bards of the sea. Much of my time spent in Mexico has been trying to understand the culture, the environment, the politics, and the people. 

Charts and cruising guides did me well but there was a serious void in some rather important topics. Drug cartel violence is obviously one of the most serious issues in Mexico and it impacts boaters every year, yet it's conspicuously absent from most printed discussions. Also left out of most guides is navigating the Byzantine maze of customs to get critical equipment and supplies into Mexico.

And beyond the logistics, there are the people and their culture which deserves more discussion than being the setting for a Jimmy Buffet soundtrack. 

If you're coming to Mexico, sincerely know that I wrote this to make your life a little easier. Not everything will pertain to you, but I promise hidden in there will be some nuggets of information that will help make your Mexican sailing adventure more enjoyable. 

It's available now in Kindle format and the paperback should be on Amazon's site in a week.

Wednesday
Mar132013

now reading: shake hands with the devil

I get it why most people don't want to read about genocide. The word itself was created in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin with strict definitions: he wanted it used only in the most extreme cases when a group of people is trying to be exterminated from the planet. 

Not for getting land, not for killing lots of people, and not for two groups going at it with wholesale slaughter being the name of the game.

No, genocide is the intent and execution of a plan with the goal being to remove an ethnicity or other group of people from the planet. To stamp out a particular community once and for all. 

Given that tight definition, there really only have (fortunately) been a handful of cases: the Turks and Armenians, the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, Bosnia, Rwanda, and most recently in the Sudan. These are cases were the intent was not to seize land or to push anyone out. The intent was to exterminate, much the way you would approach a house full of roaches. Roaches, interestingly, is a common term that the perpetrators use when describing those they are trying to annihilate. 

I'm a bit of a foreign policy wonk. I have read Foreign Affairs magazine religiously for years, most recently the Kindle edition. Current History is a new addition to my digital bookshelf, having a European focus.

But that all started with A Problem From Hell, America In The Age of Genocide, a book quite deserving of its Pulizter Prize. You may recall that Samantha Powers called Hillary Clinton "a monster" in the 2008 presidential campaign. If you read up on the Rwandan genocide, which took place during the Clinton administration, you might have a bit more context for her remarks. 

Power's book ended with Rwanda, and fittingly enough she provided the forward in Shake Hands with the Devil, written by the head of UN forces in Rwanda during the genocide.

In his book, General Romeo Dallaire shows the complete breakdown and failure of the international community to stop the deaths of 800,000 men, women, and children. The simple reason: no one cared about a bunch of poor black people in the middle of Africa. 

There is a horrible statistic often repeated in more sober foreign policy discussions, that one white life equals one hundred brown lives which equals ten thousand black lives. 

In reading about the Rwandan genocide we not only read about brutality on an unimaginable scale, but we read about ourselves. Genocides of the past are something that belonged to our parents and our parents' parents. But the Rwandan genocide took place in 1994.

Beyond the grim realities of genocide itself, there lies the question that none of us want to answer: why didn't we care?

Wednesday
Dec282011

finally got the bowsprit off

With some surface rot that allowed me to sink a screwdiver six inches into my rigging, I finally removed the bowsprit on our Hans Christian. Weighing in around two hundred pounds and being about fourteen feet long it was a bit of a pain in the ass. Oh, and then there's the whole thing about how the fittings that keep the mast from flying backwards are all secured to the now non-existent bowsprit. 

This was a job I've been putting off for some time for various reasons and was recently re-motivated to do it based in large part on reading Steven Pressfield's book Do the Work. Author of Gates of Fire and Tides of War, Pressfield talks about Resistance. It's the thing that causes us to procrastinate, to make excuses, to dodge work, and to put things off. Rather than looking at it as an ememy we can look at Resistance as a compass of sorts, pointing us towards that which will have the most transformative impact on our soul. Mystical? Sure. Did it motivate me to get my bowsprit off? Fuck yeah it did.

Next up on the hit list is stripping off the paint and goo and seeing what lurks beneath. There's some rot, but according to my friend Stan (who just so happens to own Pendleton Yacht Yard, is an accomplished shipwright, and was my study-buddy through my 100 ton class) the rot might not be so bad and can be repaired, as opposed to shaping a new piece of wood.

So I've got a date with a heatgun and a scraper, starting tonight. I could put it off but I'm on a roll and this shit isn't going to get any closer to done by me blogging about it.

So to Mr. Pressfield: thanks. I like your style, I like your books, and coupled with a great batch of weather this time of year it was just what I needed to get back in the saddle and do the work.

Thursday
Nov112010

books i'm currently reading

All my liberal friends assail me for doing so, but yes, I'm reading George W. Bush's Decision Points. Although I've protested on the street against him (honestly more times than I can count) and disagree with the vast majority of his policies, I think it's important to remember that gentlemanly behavior and civil respect should not be sacrificed over political differences.

On the fun front, and after polishing off The Tourist (and bypassing its sequel for the moment), I'm reading Olen Steinhauer's novel of a homicide detective working in an unnamed recently communist country: (following WWII) The Bridge of Sighs.

So far so good, and it's nice to leave the somewhat consistent plots of the fantasy-sword-and-sandal genre.