April 2007

I decided to write some instructional articles for the all aluminum tour. Most of them will be mechanical stuff, but this first one is about driving, testing, and learning new courses. It’s particularly relevant here because I’m going to be doing a lot of that soon.

A typical disclaimer–Im not an expert driver. I dont have the focus required to be great at anything. I do a lot of things and Im easily distracted (oh look…a butterfly) so the best I ever expect to be is intermediate.

What Im good at is getting to the heart of things quickly: The 80 percent that makes the difference between lousy and decent. I never get to the 20 percent required to go from decent to good.

So heres my take on learning new courses. (more…)

I’m slaving away on the trailer getting it ready for the trip, except when I get distracted, which only happens every fifteen seconds or so. For a guy with a four month trip that starting in about a week and a half, I seem to be wandering a bit.

The week started out with a board meeting for my company–Babcock & Jenkins. Several of our management team people presented, including two of our most creative wizards. They showed off a new technology and marketing approaches (called Social Cultivation) that we revealed at a major tradeshow for our industry (direct and interactive marketing). They got me all fired up. It’s brilliant, and a real breakthrough. I can’t stop thinking about it.

I also spent some time working with the Indian software development company we chose for a web-based business I’ve started with a friend. They put together a pretty good reiteration of our specification documents. I think this is going to work out well. Can’t stop thinking about that.

Then I began work on a new website for stand up paddle surfing. Another small venture. We’re going to build some prototype boards, and if things work out, perhaps do some production and build a very focused lifestyle company around the idea of geezers (anyone over 35) getting back into challenging sports. I can’t stop thinking about that.

There’s no food in the house, Diane and I have been too busy to shop, but apparently not too busy to go to lunch together at lots of great little Portland bistros. What a great foodie town this is. I can’t stop thinking about lunch.

Other than that I have crystal clear focus.

What the heck was I going to do today?

I was down in the shop working on Peyote when I remembered that I have an old Tivo on the television that’s down there. My main TV didn’t get the Bahrain Formula One race, but the shop TV did. I skipped the practice and watched the qualifying and finally the race. Formula One qualifying is excellent TV now. I realized I wasn’t going to get any work done so I got a cigar and some brandy and sat down to watch.

Very enjoyable race, and a fine way to spend a drizzly Portland afternoon.

Lewis Hamilton was amazing. Every F1 fan has seen “the phenoms” come and go, but I think this is the real deal. Amazing talent, and clearly he’s been schooled for this for a long time. He said something about 13 years–that means he started seriously racing at 10 or 11.

Just about the time F1 fans started missing Shuey, along comes a guy that even more interesting, and perhaps even more talented.

Back in Portland. Had a great time surfing the last week, even caught one good day of longboard sailing. The last two days I needed to get the place in order and put my toys away. Naturally the wind came up so I spent a lot of time looking at the whitecaps and my windsurfing gear while I should have been cleaning the garage. But I got it done.

Now Im back in Portland, its cold and rainy, looks more like fall than spring and except for catching up on all the Formula 1 and MotoGP races (except Bahrainmy Tivo screwed up!!) theres nothing in front of me but a lot of work getting everything ready for the big trip (www.allaluminumtour.com ). Ah, well, its going to be a lot of fun. But it sure is hard to leave Maui.

Ive had several people contact me about renting PonoHouse. Yes, its available now that weve left for the spring and summer. This is really the best time for windsurfers to go to MauiMay is excellent for wind. The easiest way to check availablilty is to contact Katy Hargreaves, shes at http://mauisports.com/ PHONE: 1 (808) 579 8833 TOLL FREE: 1 (866) 300 6284 FAX: 1 (808) 579 9383

How about that Lewis Hamilton! Where did this kid come from. I know that Formula One is a lot about the cars and the team, and he’s in a good one, but my word, what talent. I watched his hands in all the in-car video of his racing, and he’s the smoothest driver I’ve seen in years. Quick as a snake, but he is generally ahead of the car, making minimal chages to the wheel, catching slides and dealing with understeer before it even seems to happen. Amazing.

Similarly to the thread on music, I’m looking for help on books to read and books to listen to on this long, long trip. Since this list is intended to help me, let me tell you a few of the things that i already have covered.

I got a lot of response about traveling music, but all of it as email. What’s with that? I guess people are more used to email than they are to adding comments to a blog. Here’s some of the results:

Contributor: Suggestion

Dennis Delap: Donald Fagen – The Nightfly

I had a business meeting this morning (over the phone, but it still anchored me to the house) so I wasn�t free until about eleven, and then Diane wanted to go to Mama�s Fish House for lunch. So by the time i got to thousand peaks it was 1:30. When I got there the waves looked kind of small, but I pulled the JL11.0 off the funmobile and paddled out. There was no one out at the left reef where the regulars hang out. Imagine my surprise when I got out there and found wave after wave from waist high to overhead. No wind, glassy water, big smooth waves with nice consistent shoulders.

Why me?

I had an absolute blast, and my surfing improved 100% over the afternoon. I�m learning to move around on the board, slide the nose around to run along the face of the wave, move forwrd to accelerate, back to turn, skid the tail down the face, cup the paddle on the wave face and lean into it, curving the board around in a clean roundhouse move. It�s all starting to make sense and feel wonderful.

A lot of other folks showed up. When it�s good like this you don�t have turnover in the lineup�everyone comes and just stays. About 4:00 I noticed a couple of big manta rays jumping and slapping on the surface a short distance beyond the break. So I paddled out to take a look. Amazing critters, at least as big as my garage door. They finally got tired of me and submerged, I went back to the lineup and caought a few more waves.

One of the guys in the lineup said �Hey, look, it�s a bunch of Dolphins� and sure enough, about a hundred yards east of where the Mantas had been was two pods of Dolphins. I paddled out for a closer look, and the �pods� started moving towards me. One of them got to within five or so feet of me and I realized it was a shark. I thought it might be a black tipped reef shark until it turned alongside me and I could see the stripes and wide body of a tiger shark.

They tell me you can estimate the length by doubling the distance between the fin and the tail. If that�s correct these were between eight and ten feet.

I paddled back to the reef. The guy and his girlfriend who had first spotted the �dolphins� asked me what they were, so I told them. In seconds everyone in the lineup knew about it. About two thirds of the people headed in.

I caught two more waves, then caught a good sized wave that took me almost to the beach. I thought �I�m tired, the sun is going down, I just rode a wave within fifty feet of the beach, and there�s tiger sharks. Time to go home. �

I need your help.

I’m reading Neal Peart’s rambling book Traveling Music and thinking about the All Aluminum Tour. I’m enjoying the book, though not as much as Ghost Rider. Neal Peart is a good and enjoyable writer, not a great one, and the book wanders far afield but unifies on a theme of the music he listens to on a long road trip. I’m about to start a road trip that certainly needs great music.

I’ll turn this posting into a topic page so I can put together a playlist. I certainly appreciate suggestions. I have about 40 days worth of music in my library (about two thousand CD’s that I ripped to MP3), but I want to find some things I haven’t listened to twenty times before. Peart’s book is a good start. He talks about some fairly esoteric music and why he likes it. He’s a big Sinatra fan and he mentioned three albums that I wasn’t familiar with. (more…)