Boot tops or waterlines

The first race of the Cotuit Mosquito Yacht Club is Friday, the Fourth of July, and a winter’s worth of procrastination comes down to a final few days of rushed boat painting so I can get #19, the Chugworm, painted, launched and rigged in time for the starting gun. I’ve been picking away at the boat since May, but I never seem to get it together until the final week, best intentions of working on the boat in the fall and winter notwithstanding.

Today I finished off the hull, tomorrow I’ll sand and varnish the spars: the boom, the mast, and the gaff. Hull work is fun. All shine and precise line work. Thanks to some masking tape and my secret weapons – a foam roller and a little disposable foam brush – I can get the hull, the bottom, and the waterline, or more nautically, the boot top, done in an afternoon.

So, I set the instant messaging status to “away from computer,” finished up my last calls, and hit the garage for a few hours of fumes and brushwork. When I sand a boat I like to listen to fairly obnoxious music – stuff like Alice in Chains, Fu Manchu, Queens of the Stone Age – head banger music I can blast and hear over the electric sanders. Painting, now that I think about it, should be much more artistic. Say some Verdi or Rossini – but for some reason I blew $75 on the complete iTunes collection of Industrial (a genre best suited for ergometer rowing) and so I listened to Throbbing Gristle, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, and Skinny Puppy while I did my Michelangelo impersonation.

The hull gets a single coat of thinned marine enamel ($50 a quart) applied with a 4″ foam roller. That goes on smooth but a little bubbly, so I flatten the coat down with a good china bristle brush. While that dries I open the $300 gallon of Petitt white antifouling paint. That’s right. $300. At least I only use about a pint per year, but still. White bottom paint is one of the stupider things in the world. I mean, here I am painting the bottom of the boat so barnacles and slime won’t grow on it. Which will happen anyway – so a white bottom is like trying to feed hogs while dressed like Tom Wolfe in a white linen suit. You will get dirty and you will look silly.

The bottom paint goes on pretty fast and dries even faster. I mask off the boot top with very expensive ($25 a roll) masking tape that is rubberized to curve and stretch. As the hull and bottom set up, I pop off the tape (before it dries on) and get ready to do the boot top. Now boot tops were, in my family, work left to the more precise painters, like my grandmother or my wife. They’d go at it with expensive sable brushes and approach it like surgery. Me, if left to my own devices, would botch the job and commit a laugher of a line which would get laughed at all summer long.

I have since improved and can paint, by hand, a yellow stripe in about 30 minutes per side, with only an occasional swipe of the drip rag to catch my misses and sags.

The final result isn’t too bad. There is always something on a wooden boat to criticize, especially one built in 1948, and I always have to remind myself, the boat will never look as nice all summer.

So, spars tomorrow, launch and rig Friday morning before the parade, get the sail on after lunch and make the 2:30 (in Cotuit we start much later than the scheduled time) starting line for the first sail of the summer.



The Opposite End of China || Xinjiang & Northwest China Blog (中国的另一端 || 新疆 & 中国西北博客): My Own Personal Visa Hell

The Opposite End of China || Xinjiang & Northwest China Blog (中国的另一端 || 新疆 & 中国西北博客): My Own Personal Visa Hell
Saw this posted by Fons Tuinstra on the visa situation in China. Lots of people beefing that it is very hard to get travel documents as the Chinese seem to be reversing their open door policy for the Olympics, to a tighter aperture for the sake of security. I feel relieved I have mine. More to come on the Olympics.

“The best part was when I complained to the visa officer that getting a new invitation letter from China was “tai mafang” (too much trouble), and she responded, “Not as much trouble as Chinese people have getting a US visa.” What, is this some sort of contest?”

Ditching Twitter (twhirl)

I tried and rejected Twitter in 07, returned in January, followed it via the Twhirl desktop client and the TwitterFox plug in, and now am basically saying it sucks yet again.

Sure, it’s another valid channel to monitor from a brand reputation standpoint. Who is bitching or praising brand terms is a good thing to know. But in terms of signal-to-noise ratios, it’s mostly noise, a classic example of the ourosborosphere/echo chamber promoting their latest blog posts, product beta, or book on social networking.

Only two twitter accounts really caught my attention — and both are demented. One was Merlin Mann’s @hotdogsladies and the other was @ainsleyofattack (recommended by Merlin). The reality — I don’t care what some Forrester, Jupiter, TechCrunch, GigaOm bloviator has to say about ButtDog 2.0, whether they want to organize a “tweet-up” at the brew pub after the BarCamp, or if they think Twitter’s Fail Whale is the meme of the week.

No, what I like to read is dementia such as this Tweet from @ainsleyofattack: “AinsleyofAttack It’s confirmed. During sex I sound like a laundry bag filled with chihuahuas being smacked against a MoonBounce.

So, rather than unsub from everyone who talks about things that bore me to tears (should it be called social media? what is the ROI of social media? why do airlines suck?), I decided to expand my circle of suck to include everything, and I mean everything, but joining the cool kids’ march to FriendFeed.

Which meant installing a FriendFeed desktop client — the Alert Thingy — which rolls the whole burrito of diggs, delicious tags, flickr uploads, Amazon buys, tweets, etc. into one cacophony of desktop alerts.

World’s ugliest running shoe? They’re gonna be mine.

My custom running shoes

Originally uploaded by dchurbuck

I need a pair of running shoes — the old Salomon trail shoes are rounding on the heels and a threat to my health. So off I went for recommendations from the CrossFit community and came up with these — Nike Free’s.

When I checked them out on I discovered I could customize them — really customize them — so in honor of my Cotuit Skiff, the Snafu II, I went with a yellow body and a green highlight.

Professionally, while these suckers will take a discouraging four to six weeks to arrive, I liked:

1. The customization interface was really intuitive and kind of cool to play around with.
2. The text entry for putting words on the heel cups was capricious — permitting some words: “Sinister”; but dinging others: “Dexter.”
3. The email progress notification is a great example of post-sale-pre-delivery expectation management. Including a photo of my shoe is very smart.

There’s a lot to learn from Nike in the customization and communications process. I know I will probably be horrified at how ugly these are on my feet, will look like I have two lemons strapped to my feet, and have an argument with my wife for not conferring with her before committing the order.

Texas Computer Repair

Institute for Justice: First Amendment Cases: Texas Computer Repair
Thanks to Fester for this WTF weirdness. Texas wants computer repair technicians to be licensed Private Investigators. Somehow the hardboiled world of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett doesn’t jibe in my mind with a guy in a shortsleeved shirt swapping power supplies on a beige desktop.

Then again, there are always the news stories about the people who get fired when they send their PC in for a repair and get nailed for having dirty pictures stored on the drive.

“Under the new law enacted in 2007, Texas has put computer repair shops on notice that they had better watch their backs any time they work on a computer. If a computer repair technician without a government-issued private investigator’s license takes any actions that the government deems to be an “investigation,” they may be subject to criminal penalties of up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine, as well as civil penalties of up to $10,000. The definition of “investigation” is very broad and encompasses many common computer repair tasks”

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