Thursday, June 24, 2010

A political observation...

So, John Q. Public is all consumed by the Gulf oil spill and by who is going to command the troops in Afghanistan, and while so involved this stalwart citizen has a shiv slipped between his shoulder blades.  The financial package which has been working its way through the Senate and which would extend unemployment benefits to 1.5 million unemployed and help support state and local governments that are on the edge of bankruptcy was defeated by 41 votes against 57 in favor. And you thought we had "majority rule" in our democracy ... not really, it's minority rule!

So, who, pray tell, would stick that shiv in John Q?  Well, 40 Republican Senators joined by quasi-Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska, that's who.  And meanwhile, they want to extend the tax breaks to the wealthy that Bush and congressional Republicans granted a few years ago, decrying letting them run out as a "tax hike."  What balderdash!

The worst of this is the short-sighted reasoning of those who suddenly are worried about the national debt, for their concern for deficits is bound to prolong the recession and perhaps make it worse.  Congress pushed Franklin Roosevelt into trying to balance the budget in 1937, and it plunged the country even deeper into depression.  In the end, it was World War Two that turned things around, but since we've already got a war on our hands, indeed one that is contributing mightily to our deficits, we won't be bailed out by another war.

In the end, if you are earning less than $150,000 a year and you go along with this reasoning, you are simply acting against own economic interests. Think about that when the November elections roll around.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dog Days for sale ... (not any more) ...

You can ignore this post ... I've changed my mind.  Dog Days stays in the family for now.

Well, it's time.  Dog Days, my 1981 Islander Bahama, is on the market.  She's served me well on San Francisco Bay for a decade, with wonderful sails to Petaluma, Vallejo, the Delta, and virtually every destination on around the Bay.  I've kept her up with regular engine tune-ups, bi-monthly bottom cleaning, annual waxing and polishing, and done a number of major maintenance projects, among them stripping and putting barrier coating plus bottom paint on the hull just two years ago.  And, I added a one-off wooden dinghy, Pup, which my boat builder friend John  Tuma built specifically for Dog Days.  If you are looking for a good bay boat, a wonderful easily handled sailing boat, then you couldn't do better.  She and Pup are priced to sell, so check her out on her own web page.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sailing with Bruce ...

Yesterday I drove up to Vallejo to join Bruce Sinclair on his lovely little Gary Mull-designed, Hank Easom-built thirty-foot sloop, Pretty Penny, for the Vallejo Yacht Club's "Two Bridges" race.  The race starts just west of the Carquinez Strait at the mouth of the Napa River (the Vallejo Yacht Club is just a mile up the river).  We crossed the starting line second in our class but 40 seconds after the gun (a slow start), sailed west into the wind to the first mark, which we rounded with the mark on our port side, and then began a the long downwind sail up under the Carquinez Bridge, through the Carquinez Strait, past the historic town of Benicia and to the Benicia-Carquinez Bridge where we rounded another mark and tacked our way back to the finish line, which was set up just above the entrance to the Benicia Yacht Club and harbor.  Altogether the course ran about 10 statute miles.

Winds were strong at the start, probably around 20 knots, then as we sailed the downwind course, they fell off considerably, which meant nobody made great speed against an ebbing tide.  Bruce and I decided we needed to change out the 90 blade head sail for a 125 head sail, which I agreed to do and once we got it up we managed to pick up some speed and time, ultimately sufficient to take second place in our group.  It's been a while since I've sailed on any part of San Francisco Bay, and I enjoyed it enormously, despite the spray of cold water which really got us after we'd finished the race and were tacking upwind back to the mouth of the Napa River.
On our return to Bruce's slip, we put Pretty Penny to bed and Gail joined us at the yacht club for a celebratory drink.  They asked me to stay for dinner and for the night, which I agreed to do, and Gail cooked up a magnificent meal while Bruce and I polished off a bottle of Zinfandel, enjoyed Bruce's parrot Lorenzo, who is 30 years old, and were entertained by their new dog Lulu (maybe a poodle, but they think a "puddle").  It was great fun, and I look forward to the next time we get together.  Perhaps they will come east!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Leaving California ...

Pen is back in Florida, while I'm in California at my townhouse, which my daughter Lisa and her husband Matt are leasing from me.  My first task here is to take care of their three cats while they are in Japan for a week with students from Matt's Japanese language program at Silver Creek High School in San Jose.  This is not so bad a task, although Obi, the black cat and the oldest, is a bit of a paranoid-schizophrenic creature.  The other two, Phoenix (the orange cat) and B.J. (a long hair), are very well behaved, and I hardly even see them.  But Obi is always under foot, it seems ... well, now he's just curled up on the couch sleeping, but this is truly an exception, for usually he is stalking me or howling at shadows.

Other tasks here are to put Dog Days on the market and arrange to ship all the stuff I have in storage out to Florida.  I went up to Marina Village in Alameda yesterday, took a lot of stuff off of Dog Days, discovered the batteries were not charging, arranged for my friend Rob Bastress to trouble shoot the problem and signed a contract with my friend Klaus Kutz at Passage Yachts to broker the boat.  Meanwhile, Laurie Elliot, who I'd talked to on the phone a few days ago, had already gotten a couple of pieces of the exterior canvas covers to make repairs.  I may have a local fellow wax Dog Days, but I am reluctant to put too much money into her, and she looks nice and clean.  Klaus said he was most impressed by her when he went by to see her a week ago.  I'll go up again on Friday and finish getting stuff off her, possibly have to get new batteries and decide whether to have her waxed.

This is one of my favorite sailing photos, on the Petaluma River

Whoever buys Dog Days also gets an added bonus: Pup, a one-off wooden tender.  My boat-builder friend John Tuma designed and built Pup especially for Dog Days five years ago.  She's a gorgeous little rowing pram that will take two people around the anchorage easily, stows on the foredeck and tows nicely behind Dog Days.  If I could use her in Florida, I'd definitely take her, but she really belongs with her master. 

I thought getting my things in storage shipped east was going to be a big task, because there are three or four items I'd rather not ship and would just as well sell or donate out here.  The problem is that they are buried at the back of the storage unit.  Initially, I thought I'd hire a couple of day laborers to help me take everything out and pull these items to the front, but I've finally decided that that's a waste of energy and it's just as easy to ship them out with everything else and then decide what to do with the items in Florida, and it certainly won't add that much to the overall moving cost.  So, today I met with an estimator from one van line at the storage unit, and signed a contract, stuff to be picked up on July 8th and delivered in DeLand between the 15th and 21st.  Glad that is set up.  Now I just have a paintings to pack in mirror boxes and the contents of some file cabinet drawers to put in boxes. 

I'm also trying to finish up a book review and get the bulk of my paper for my summer history of technology conference written on this trip.  At least I should have the review done and a good start on the paper, but it's not all work.  I've had a chance to visit with a couple of old friends ... my old history colleague at De Anza, Ben Kline and his wife Julie; Bob and Laura Miller, who I've known for 40 years; and Lisa's mom Sandi.  Batu Berkok, with whom I took sailing lessons back in 1999, had sushi last night at my favorite sushi restaurant, Akane, and Saturday I am driving up to Vallejo to crew on Bruce Sinclair's little Gary Mull designed boat, Pretty Penny, in the Vallejo Yacht Club's two-bridges race.  That will be great fun!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Abaco and on to Daytona Beach ...

We've had so much fun in the Abaco, we completely forgot to post all our doings.  Suffice it to say that Pen's sister Patricia joined us for the last couple of weeks of May and made the 37 hour crossing back from Great Sale Cay in the Abaco to New Ponce Inlet, just south of Daytona Beach.  We are now safely ensconced in our slip at Halifax Harbour in Daytona. 

On our trip we caught lots of fish (4 Mahi-Mahi, 25 or so Yellow Tail Snapper, half-dozen Mutton Snapper, three or four Yellow Sennett, Bar Jack, and a couple of Blue Runners).  We are finally done with fish for a while.  We want pizza and other substantial, meaty stuff.

We've been even worse about posting pictures, so here's the link to all our latest which are now on Flickr.

All our Photos