Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Not again.

I have been doing alot of climbing lately, trying to go 3 to 4 times a week atleast. I have been getting better too, I am onsighting mid 10's, redpointing 11a's and struggling up mid to hard 11's. Pretty much right where I was wanting to be for the start of the season!

Last night there was a gear rep at the Krag who brought some cool shoes to try. So I slipped a pair of pretty aggresive Evolv'e on, and got on the bouldering wall. I did about 4 or maybe 5 moves, decided I wanted to try another part of the wall for this test. As I was all of 2 feet off the ground, I stepped back to walk over to the other part, and happened to step onto the edge of a crash pad. I heard 3 loud cracks, and then hit the ground in pain. Yup, broke my ankle again!

Now it's up in the air, with a bag of ice, and I am mad as hell right now. I was climbing right where I wanted to be, and the weather is warming up this weekend. I should be headed to the Red, but I am sure to be on my couch instead.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Finally joined the revolution

Monday night I was working on some stuff for a client, and everything was going along smoothly, maybe almost too smoothly. My Dell that I bought from my sister then popped up a strange error... your computer is corrupt, save your work, Windows is shutting down in 60 seconds! No way to stop it. OK, whatever... saved work... chilled... Windows restarts... bluescreen! Ugh... I hate those stupid blue screens of death.

At the top, it says "To protect your computer, Windows has been shutdown." So many thing are wrong with that. What was Windows going to do to my computer? What was my computer without Windows? Why does it need to shutdown? Is it really protecting the computer... I mean, I am getting mad enough to make a Dell frisbee... so its not really so protective.

Anyway... I spent all night trying to get it running. I scoured the internet on my iPhone looking for a solution to my cryptic error. Turns out, the error means that there might be something wrong with my DVD drive... which I wasn't using, and is built into the laptop... and why can't it just boot without turning on the DVD drive.

The only solutions I had was to take it into one of these over-priced fixing places... pay probably $300 for them to say, "yup, its broken"... or to go buy a new machine. I am so sick of these stupid computers... Windows does incredible Mac advertising.

I went to my local Mac store at 9:03 am... tossed my dead machine on a counter, told them I need to replace this piece of junk with a Mac. They laughed, and I walked out at 9:37 with a new Mac, and all the stuff I need to capture my information off the old hard drive!

I bought the cheapest Mac they had, and its loaded, and fast... and is sweet. While I type this blog, iTunes is importing my thousands of songs, iPhoto is importing my 5,000 photos, I have Photoshop and Dreamweaver open, I have a movie playing in the corner, and am IM'ing my buddy about how cool this thing is, and it isn't skipping a beat.

I feel like I just came out of the woods, carrying a club, wearing a bear skin, and am looking down on a world that looks like the set of Blade Runner, realizing that I had been using that club to do my computing for way too long. I know Kung Fu.

Thanks Mac...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Resolutions - the beginning

Every year millions of people come up with great resolutions on how they are going to be better, more awesome people. By now, most of them have forgotten about their grand schemes, or it has become just talk. I have been equally as guilty in the past of similar atrocities... but I think that this year will be different.

I read something yesterday on Gizmodo from Steve Jobs (mum, Steve is perhaps the most influential CEO of our time, he's the head of Apple) that made me realise why he is so successful, and its something I used to have. He actually was quoting the creators of the "Whole Earth Catalog", which he described as Google before the Internet. On the back cover of the final issue of the catalog there were 4 words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."

To me, among other things, it is a battle cry against complacency and convention.

Last year was a rough year for millions of people... money was the focus of most peoples issues and definitely a focus of mine. More than that for me was losing myself in the stresses of life, and missing out on some phenomenal opportunities to live foolishly.

Last year, I was not me... I did not climb as much as I wanted (until towards the end of the year), I definitely didn't sail as much as I wanted, and I didn't live how I wanted. Way too many days were spent watching the TV instead of watching the sunset, cooking from a microwave instead of a campstove, sitting on my couch instead of swinging from a rope, sleeping in my bed instead of under stars....

I don't have all my plans figured out just yet, but I have some goals. Some are small, some are large, but they are all about me, and change. I will sail more this year, I will be a 5.11 climber this year, I will lead alot more trad this year, I will find more joy this year, I will travel more this year, I will dive more this year, and I will be hungrier and more foolish.

What am I doing right now about this... I am headed out to make a snow angel in 7 degree weather!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Nieces and Nephews

This year I was lucky enouh to gain another nephew, Wesley Morgan Harvey. He, ofcourse, is the cutest zero-year-old ever, and is so far the most talented, and expressive zero-year-old I have met this year.

It took my sister and brother-in-law quite a bit of drama to eventually be blessed with this amazing baby. But, from the smile that has been plastered on their faces, he's well worth it. It has been amazing to see how much he has grown and changed in just a few weeks that I was with him.

I love being an uncle. Usually all it takes to be liked by the kids is a little playing, some goofing off, and occassionally doing stuff their parents don't let them do (like playing in the mud). It's always amazing every year to see how the kids are changing, and then to figure out what caused those changed... which ofcourse is entirely impossible. I love the fact that I can drink beer and play cards with the oldest one, change the diapers of the smallest one, and have 8 others in between. 10 is a good number of nieces and nephews... till the next one ofcourse.

Maybe one day I will be a dad, maybe I won't. Right now, being an uncle is cheaper, less complicated and more fun for me. So thank you brothers and sisters for your kids, they are all amazing.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Been A While

So it's been a while since I have posted to my blog. It's not due to lack of things to post about though. Probably the biggest event since last time wrote is that I am no longer working at Lorenz Williams. They let me go for what I think, and a bunch of other people think (including many that work there still... shhh) is a very weak reason.

Actually, it's a great relief to not work there anymore. I had some good opportunities, and got to work on some interesting stuff, but my time was done.

I promise now to update this blog more often now, or atleast try too. But for this morning, Happy Thanksgiving, I am thankful I don't work at LWi any more.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Big foot, aliens, and fair elections are all fodder for conspiracy theorists. I have a new one. What ever happened to that little tooth on the back of the tab for your zippers? You know, the one that locks the pull-tab into the teeth of the zipper, so it doesn't magically unzip. It surely can't cost so much more to have that little lock on the tab... and it saves alot of embarrassment.

I believe it is a conspiracy by Chinese manufacturers in an attempt to "catch us with our pants down". Having the fly down is 3/4 of the battle. Too bad they don't realize that is only a expression, not a goal.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Return of the Tenants.

Landlording can be funny. When I evicted my tenants, the bailiff showed up, and anything left in there... anything... becomes mine. Its pretty awesome, I have always wanted 1,000 baby socks strewn about my basement... and an old, broke down dryer. Somethings that they left behind though were important to them, which is why they called me that one day asking for a "box of important papers" which had "insurance, and tax information" on it. Well, they left so many boxes and bags of stuff, I never actually found that one box. I really did not feel like digging through the blend of dirty clothes, car-parts, and papers to find out which one she was talking about.

Anyway... I did stumble on some stuff that was probably important to them. Like some mail, their baby's footprints from the hospital, and a whole bag full of photo-albums! I hung onto those things for them, and was going to mail them out. I didn't have the right address for them though (the small-claims suit was returned to the courts unclaimed at the address I had), so I called them to find their new address. I planned on mailing their stuff to them last week, but I broke my ankle, which sucks. So I didn't get to it, as I was getting xrays and seeing the ortho dr. instead.

Saturday afternoon the tenant shows up at my house, with the police! She was demanding I turn over her belongings left behind! I explained to her that because she was evicted, everything she left behind, including her dirty disgusting clothes, became all mine. I gave her the mail that I had sitting there, along with her baby's footprints... but I kept all those photo albums to myself. They owe me over $1,800, and now they show up with the police demanding I turn over the junk they left behind, that made me kinda mad, so why should I give her those items back.

The cops kinda laughed at her for thinking she could get her stuff back. Turns out, her main concern was with identity theft, because now I would have her social security number. Firstly, they wrote their SSN on her application for the unit. Secondly... why would I steal the identity of deadbeats who can't pay their rent?!?! What do I get out of that except for more bills!

I can't wait till their court date, July 9th. That should be fun.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

How much is your ankle worth?

Went climbing Tuesday night at the Krag... went by myself, so I was bouldering. I climbed really well actually... especially for not having climbed much in the last few months. For those who don't know, bouldering is climbing without ropes, and you usually stay pretty low to the ground, and fall onto crash pads, or gravel. I don't like the crash pads, because I am always worried about spraining an ankle as they don't give as much.

This one guy was trying to do a route, and asked me for help, so I gave it a go. I ended up popping off the wall, and landing with my right foot half on the crash pad, and half off it. Naturally, it rolled out from under me, and I heard a popping sound. Awesome....

I walked out of there, and drove home. I did the ice and elevation thing... but finally decided to go see a Dr about it. Got the xrays, and yup, its broken. Awesome. Long weekend, of great weather... and a broken ankle is not cool.

Silver lining... I have the accident/injury rider on my insurance. Called them to get the claim forms, look like they are going to send me a check for $800 for this. I am going to try to get their price list, and next time I can't pay my bills, break something. Just kidding, no insurance fraud going on here.

Gotta figure out how to walk the dog... maybe get a wheel chair, and rig a system for her to pull me down the street... and hope she doesn't start chasing cats!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bumper Sticker: "Your worst nightmare is my favorite vacation"

This has turned out to be a LOOONG post... my bad.

Maria and I went to the boat a few weeks for the first sail of the season. Needless to say, I was very excited to get to her (the boat), clean her up (the boat again... not Maria), do some prep, and then spend several days just cruising the Chesapeake Bay with some good friends. Not all (or anything really) went as planned.

We learned alot that week. It didn't start well, when our friends who were supposed to come down on Saturday night kept getting delayed, and delayed... eventually only one of the two of them showed up on Tuesday morning.

Lesson #1: No longer plan around Jeff and Zora... simply tell them when somethings going to happen, and they can choose to take part or not. Maria and I took the week off for this, and I am done catering to people who don't respect Maria's or my time enough to even show up within several days, and constantly want my time, and my vacation which I invited them too worked around their schedules.

So, as we waited for them to show up, Maria and I spent a good deal of time cleaning the boat, and just relaxing. The weather was amazing the first part of the week... sunny, warm, and nice breezes... sure would have been nice to be out sailing, rather than waiting. But, it gave me time to do several things, and spend a bunch of money at West Marine. I bought a much needed battery charger, which I need to install properly still, and several other smaller items I needed. Once we got the batteries freshened up... I tested the bilge pump to be sure it was working correctly... turns out, it wasn't (glad I tested it). The bilge is a remote pump, with a hose to the bilge and remote float switch. There is a small impeller inside the pump that broke. I head to West Marine, as I didn't have a spare, and this little impeller is a $22 special order, that takes 3 weeks to get! Thats no good... for me... ofcourse, it means that West Marine was able to get me to buy a new bilge pump.

Lesson #2: Carry 2 spares for everything. When something breaks, have the spare, and have the second spare for when the first spare breaks while waiting for the order.

I decided that while we waited, I was going to climb the mast, just to do it, and maybe to change some bulbs. Since I climb, I felt more secure setting up prussik knots to ascend a rope, rather than be winched up. I was up there for maybe an hour... and couldn't get one of the light covers off. Which, turns out I didn't need too, that light worked, wish I knew that while I was up there. Then, I lost 1 of the bulbs I got while I was up there, so I never did get a replacement for it. Oh well, it was fun regardless.

Lesson #3: Get a more comfortable harness... and do that more often so I don't freak out if I do that in water with some movement. Climbing is scary enough... and mountains don't move. If the mountain starts swaying while your on it, then the lunch you ate was no good.

Tuesday morning rolls around, and Maria and I go to fuel the boat up, and pump out the head. Turns out... we may have tried to flush too much while at the dock (its a long way to the marina toilets)... and some of the "stuff" may have flowed out the cap at the top of the holding tank... and it may have been one of the most disgusting things I have ever smelled. The holding tank is under master stateroom bed... Maria loves that idea!

Lesson #4: Get a tank monitor... and maybe a more efficient head. Also... check the cap for a good seal.

So... finally... Tuesday morning, Jeff shows up, we have ice, wine, beer, food and dog... and are ready to go do some sailing. We throw off the dock lines, and begin motoring out of the slip. We get about 4 feet... and the engine dies. Note, we used the engine to get to the fuel dock, and the pump-out station just an hour or 2 before. Luckily, we are close enough to grab the dock lines... so we do, and pull ourselves back in... and tie up. Me, not knowing much of what I am doing... decide to change the fuel filter, and see if that works. The filter not only filters, but separates water from fuel. Pretty good thinking, I thought... with the boat having sat, and pumping in some new fuel... alteast it seemed simple enough for me to do. The guy who decided to write the instruction on the filter was an absolute genius... and I would like to give him a hug right now. It seems the incredible hulk tightened the fuel filter on... as I had to take the whole assembly off in order to get enough grip to torque the filter off. Finally, I get the filter changed, and full of fuel (luckily having bought a spare 5 gal fuel jug earlier that week and filled it.

But... not being familiar with the whole process, I didn't know that air pockets kill diesel engines, and that I had to bleed the system... all I knew was that the engine didn't start after that. The marina guys are helpful though, and pointed it out to me without making me feel retarded. So, instead of sailing to a remote deserted beach, in the sunshine, and grilling steaks for dinner... I was crawling around the engine looking for unlabeled bleed screws to turn, and watch for tiny bubbles. In all there are about 6. Luckily, I do have the original engine manual and an awesome diesel book, which I used as my guides... working my way through. After spending a muddling couple of hours (for a 15 minute job), the engine fires up... YAY ME.

Lesson 5: I am pretty awesome.

Wednesday morning, we decide to give this whole thing another go. Its a beautiful day, the weather calls for perfect winds to get us where we are going... sun's out... just perfect. Make some coffee, take the cover off the main, fire up the engine, pull the dock lines, and start motoring out. We get just out of my slip... and the engine cuts out!

Lesson 6: I am not that awesome.

Now, we are in the marina, heading for other innocent boats, with no power. I call for the main to be raised, we will sail her out of here. Luckily the wind is in just the right place... and we can sail out without much effort. The timing of the engine dieing this time is of particular note... we were just far enough away from our last pier to not be able to reach the dock lines with a hook. Timing is everything.

So I spent the day bleeding the fuel lines, running the engine, having it die, going and rebleeding the fuel lines... etc. I figured there's a leak somewhere in the system, so I start looking for it... as we are sailing up the bay. The engine runs for about 20 or 30 minutes before it dies, and there's always air in the fuel filter right after the tank... so there must be a tiny leak at this point. I tighten all the hose clamps, some where loose, try it again. Dies. I tighten all the filter caps... dies. I see a small leak from the one bleed screw on the second filter... tighten that, but still leaks. Hmmm... must be the problem. I clean the washer, and the top of the filter... reset it, it doesn't leak... try again... dies. Basically, this was my morning. I decide that the engine will run long enough for us to set an anchor later... so I rebleed, and prime the system, and then decide to enjoy the day of sailing.

Lesson 7: Don't let engine work interupt an awesome day of sailing.

The wind was supposed to be taking us to this little island where we would have a deserted beach all to ourselves. Basically... an awesome place. But, the wind didn't think we should go there, we were not making good time at all, so I decided that we need to find someplace closer to anchor. I listen to the weather, and figure out where the wind's going to come from so we are being blown onshore, then find us a nice little hole to anchor in... Browns Bay, on Mobjack.

We change our course, and start heading for the anchorage the winds pick up while we are headed that way... wish they had done that earlier. Eventually, we are doing some pretty good sailing. We have to make a tack though to get lined up for the channel. This is where I made my biggest mistake. I let my buddy do the tack. I was going to be right beside him though, so I thought it was ok. We tacked through, and were pulling the headsail in... ofcourse, someone had opened the forward hatch a little... and the sheet got wrapped up in it. I bounce up on deck (I am not sending anyone else on deck that quickly, in these conditions) and free it. Call back for Maria to sheet it in. As she's sheeting it in, the boat starts to heel over. Nobody is totally sure what happened next, either Jeff was freaking out about how heeled over we were and started to steer back up wind, or decided he's going to help sheet in the headsail, and he lets go of the wheel. We end up backwinding the sails, and heel WAY over the other way... either Jeff's letting go let the rudder snap back over, or us heeling over put enough pressure on the steering system that the steering cable broke! Great... all the sails are up, the winds are a little high (not too high but enough to be interesting), we have no steering, and an engine that MAY run for 30 minutes. Seems normal.

Lesson 8: My biggest lesson, and one I am most embarrassed I didn't do better. I needed to give better direction to someone new, I should not have had Jeff skipper through that tack, I should have had more command in that situation.

I run down, grab the emergency tiller... and stick it onto the rudder stock. Tada... steering again. Because of the arrangement of the wheel, and then tiller, and rudder position... I don't get much leverage with the tiller. We drop the sails, start the motor, and start on our way into the little bay. I have them upfront, and ready to drop the anchor for when the engine dies, and I need to re-prime it. We are mid channel, and tada, engine dies... I yell to have them drop the anchor, and keep a lookout. I drop below, and rebleed, and prime the engine in record time (getting good at it now). Start her up, pull anchor, and make it into the anchorage. Yay... we are now pretty safe. We are fairly protected here, but the winds can still reach us... and they were blowing 20 knots or so, with gusts much higher... with the spray coming off the white-caps, I would think around 30 knots at times during the night. Because I wasn't taking any more chances, and my luck was crazy bad today... I had let out alot of scope on the anchor... 12:1. We were the only ones in this bay, so we had the swing room, and I wanted something to go right.

Lesson 9: More scope = more confidence. I have plans on redoing the anchor setup... so that I can sleep at night in these conditions and not worry about crazy things like if I missed a spot of wear on the anchor rode, and it might just snap.

And... here we sat for a few days. We got bored. I inspected the steering cable, and figured I couldn't fix it. I went over the engine like crazy, and found a tiny hole in the fuel line leading to the filter... this had to be the leak... so I wrapped exhaust tape around it. Turns out, I had finally found the problem, and bandaided it. Yay me again... but this time for real.

I made the decision to stay in this little bay for the few days, as the weather wasn't awesome, and I didn't want to compound our getting home by pushing it in weather. I would have no issues sailing in those conditions with a working wheel, or more leverage on the tiller... I could do it... but if I didn't need too, why should I.

Saturday morning, it looked like we had a break in the weather, and had a window to make it home... so we pull the anchor, motor out (works flawlessly, I might add), and set sail for home. The winds are pretty light so as we are "sailing" I decide to tie a rope to me, and jump overboard with a hammer, and clean some winter barnacles from the prop and shaft. Because we are going nowhere... we decide to motorsail. We motor sail for several hours till we hit some pretty good wind 15 to 20 knots. The crew is stressed, so to ease the stress, I decide to drop the sails, and just motor. We make it the whole way to the channel, and make our turn to the marina. 12 minutes, and this adventure will be over. As I am making the turn... the boat decides to serve me with one more test... the head of the tiller, a very thick piece of aluminum, decides its time to break! Are you kidding me... all I needed was 10 more minutes. It had worked for a total of probably around 8 or 9 hours... whats 10 more minutes. Well, now we are in bad shape. I have to make a choice... we could try to drop an anchor just outside the channel, and hope it holds in these winds and the 3 to 4 foot waves... or I could try duct-taping this thing together. I spend 3 seconds deciding this, as someone gets the duct-tape. I wrap about half a roll of tape on it, and give it a try... it works! Lets get this overwith... and head in.

On the way in... we have a few harrowing seconds as the boat decides to try to commit suicide on the sea-wall... which we narrowly avoid. We make it around the bend, and start floating our way down the approach to the marina. I can see my slip from here. I start to gently turn her to head into the slip... oops, slightly too far, turn back... SNAP... tiller broke. No time to wrap the tape around it again... we are headed towards a pier, dock, and innocent and expensive looking yacht. The crew is upfront with boat hooks... I yell up... get ready for the crash, as they are wondering why I am running forward, rather than steering us away. We crunch into the dock... and ride up a little... I bounce off the boat, pulling her back... hitting the brakes... and stop her literally a few small inches from someone elses shiny fiberglass boat. Actually... we were pretty lucky... and I am glad that I was going as slow as I possibly could.

I am glad I brought all that climbing rope with me... as we wrangle the boat around the pier, and into an unused slip for the evening. She gets tied down... and we all congratulate ourselves on not dieing... as we drink any and all of the alcohol we have left. The next morning, we eventually get her pulled back over to her own slip where I tie her up, and she now rests... peacefully planning what she might test us with the next time.

Lesson 10: I bought boat towing insurance on Tuesday morning. No reason to do that again.

There are alot of lessons learned in that one trip... we had good weather for the first part, we all survived, there was no "damage", the broken bits are fairly cheap to replace/fix, I learned more on that trip that any other, and we ate really well. So... while stressful, I call it a good trip. A great trip would have been if we got to that island, and got to sail in the first part of the week when the weather was amazing.

I can't wait to go to the boat again! I miss her.

Friday, April 25, 2008

USCG Documentation renewal

I had the boat documented with the US Coast Guard as part of the requirements from the bank. They ask that you renew your registration every year, so that they can be sure that nothing changed about the boat, and that you still own it. This is a free service. They do not charge you for this. Infact, its one tiny form to fill out. If your address doesn't change, all you do is sign it, write "owner" and put the date on it. Then fold it, tape it, put a stamp on it, and go sailing.

Optionally, you can use Specialized Yacht Services awesome renewal service. This is a private company which will take all the hassle out of signing your name, writing "owner" and applying those cumbersome stamps for a one time (a year) low, low fee of $75!

For this very low $75, you get to sign your name, write "owner", put the date on a form, write a check (including another date, another signature, write the number twice, and tearing it out of the book) and put it into a provided envelope. Granted... you don't have to affix one of those stamp things... nor deal with tape... but you do have to lick the glue.

Act now, and they will sign you up to receive other awesome free offers via the USPS, and email.

Seriously... $75 fee to fill out twice as much info, but save $0.41 on a stamp.

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