Thursday, April 30, 2009


It seems that our little puppy Ajax has gone and turned into a dog, therefore it might be time to trade him in for something a little more manageable, like a toaster oven.

While undeniably cute he has several issues that any prospective buyers should be aware of. One such issue is his bewildering dietary needs. Sunglasses and remote controls seem to be favored, but shoes are also eaten. He likes to chase things like cats, squirrels, and ducks. which are all normal dog things to of course. Unless they happen at the wrong time, like from moving cars, or at three in the morning. He is a bit of a crotch sniffer, but I figure you could always use that as a basis for teaching him to "sic balls" on command.

He of course has all his shots, and has completed basic training one and two. I have the certificate of completion for basic 2, but he ate the one for basic 1. He also has been microchipped, and thus is ready for assimilation into the Borg. 

Ajax, who also answers to "Stupid", is about a year old and thus is at about his maximum cuteness/intelligence ratio. He is kind of like the 19 year old pool boy that suburban housewives keep around, even if they don't have a pool. 

One other issue, and the reason I am writing this today, is he also likes to bite the ears of people who are still in bed and that fucking hurts...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Game over

Well folks it looks like I did it. Today I took my last final at the California Maritime Academy. All that's left is the graduation ceremony itself. 

It has been a funny four years. In some ways it has just flown by, but some of it, living in Vallejo, the cruise, just seem like lifetimes ago. Maybe they are just bad memories that I have chosen to repress? Parts of CMA just plain sucked. The completely pointless watches, a couple of really bad teachers. But for the most part I think it was a good experience. 

There is no way I would have survived that school at 18, indeed of my incoming freshman class of 380 or so there will be 160 of us graduating on Saturday, and many of these are transfers or five/six year plan students. 

Still enough of this not so deep contemplative shit. It's time to party... Graduation itself is Saturday at 2pm in Vallejo. Come one come all. Speaking of come all we have a bunch of folks in town for the event. My Dad and Pauline will be here from England the day after tomorrow, Dina's Mom and Brother arrived yesterday, and a few others will be around as the weekend approaches also. The big post graduation party will on Sunday here at Marina Village out on the lawn.

Next week we should have both a Friday and a Wednesday night race, and I promise things will get back to normal then.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A quick sunset cruise

Its too hot, Dina is out of town, I have to go back up to school tomorrow morning to work on a group project that is due Wednesday. So fuck it I went sailing and took a bunch of photos of the sunset.

We had gone up to Stockton over the weekend to meet up with my folks, and to get the outboard back for the Santana. Today I put the outboard back on and figured it was going to be great night for a sail. You can see how hot it was in this picture of Ajax on the 525. 

Ajax isn't a big fan of the 525 it's a little tippy for him, but I got him on board and he hung out for a few minutes, It's going to be a while, if ever, before he goes for a sail though.

The night itself was perfect, just enough wind to keep the boat moving with the small roller furling jib. 
The boat is a little funky to sail solo, things like winches and cleats are in the wrong place, and stuff gets snagged on tacks, 

 still Gonzo is a great little Estuary boat.

 I think that in all the years I have been sailing on the Estuary this might be the first boat that I might be completely legal on while sailing at night with a motor. 

All the lights work, its registered, has stickers, flares, bells, whistles, everything. 

Tonight as an added bonus I had my ipod plugged into my Bose speaker unit. This allowed me to listen to music for the sail as well, the only thing that would have made it better is if Ajax hadn't eaten the remote for it. Although my neighbors probably didn't appreciate me cranking Ozzy's Diary of a madman as I sailed down the fairway.

About the only bad thing was being treated like some kind of child molester by the people at Round Table Pizza after the sail. It's been a while since I have gotten service that bad. They all but ran me out of the place and slammed the door on my back as I left. But I  sent a nasty email to the store manager and that cheered me up a little.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Red Red Whine...

After a day off from the whole sex, drugs, and rock and roll thing Dina and I got right back to it. Well maybe not the sex and drugs part, but the rock and roll part. 

Friday night it was up to the Marin Veterans Hall to see UB-40 a British reggae/ska/rock band that had a few hits in the early eighties. When I worked at Prada we had a greatest hits cd that we would play every now and again and I always thought they were ok. We have been to a couple of other  shows in Marin with a friend, Debbie, and figured we should invite her also. It turns out her husband John was up for it as well as it was Debbie's birthday, so we decided to make a night out of it. 

A good dinner at a Tappas place in San Rafael with some good Sangria got the night off to a good start. It turns out that John and I have similar tastes in larger American cars of the late sixties, so we got to bore the girls with car talk for awhile. From dinner it was off to the Marin Civic Center for the show.
The show was supposed to start at eight but we figured there is no way these things ever start on time. Plus if there was an act getting there at quarter to nine or so would not be a problem. As it turns out there was no opening act, and they started right at eight. So right off the bat we had missed half the show. Having said that it didn't really matter. I guess we should have been warned by the fact that we drove up to the place to find an empty parking space just behind the front row...
Basically UB-40 sucked... Ten guys on stage going through the motions with an absolute minimum of effort. No lights, no crowd interaction, no passion, no nothing. To be fair having just come off of two nights of Greenday in very small venues, it did kind of put them at a disadvantage, but still. John and I once we got the seats figured out and sitting through a song or two decided to go get a beer and ended up talking about NASCAR of which he is a big fan. So, after one beer and getting back to our seats the band played one more song, and then it was 'thank you, good night". They did come back and play an encore, but I basically saw them play three songs, bugger.

The crowd scene however was interesting. Older Marin guys with trophy wives maybe twenty years younger. Lot's of obvious surgeries and hair plugs. A smattering of African/Americans who probably drove over the bridge from Richmond. Once again comparing them to the Greenday crowd may seem unfair, but it was unusual to see concert goers wearing something other than black. Even more unusual was the complete lack of smoke from the concert goers smoking weed, that really was disappointing for a reggae show. I was looking forward to the contact high..

However with the concert getting out as early as it did, before 10.00pm, we figured the night was still young. So we hit the Mayflower pub in San Rafael which was good fun. A couple of pints of Guinness and some top quality Marin County people watching with some good friends. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night.

...and just for the hell of it here is a picture of Ajax and Frida noisily interacting with each other VERY EARLY SATURDAY MORNING after we had gotten home kind of late Friday night. 

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Yesterday was rough, recovering from rock concerts isn't as easy at it used to be. After getting home from school I figured a nice relaxing walk with the dog to pick up my pay check was just the ticket. Ajax of course used the opportunity to chase a couple of cats, but the big thing was the call from Dina that said that Greenday was going to be playing another unanounced show in Oakland. This one at a bar called the Uptown, which as it happens was right across the road form the Fox Theatre. I agreed with Dina that while this was interesting news there was no way we were up for it.

Later that evening after a late-ish dinner at Dragon Rouge I said to Dina on the way home, maybe we should drive by the Uptown just to check it out. We got there to find no real line so Dina ran in to see if we could get tix. It turns out that we could so without really thinking about it we just did it. That is how we ended up seeing Greenday two nights in a row.

The Uptown holds maybe two hundred and fifty if you cram them all in. The stage is small enough that the six guys who make up the touring version of Greenday didn't really all fit on it. The show started off the same as the Fox show, with the band playing their new album the whole way through. 
This time though it wasn't for the camera's as it had been the night before, but it seemed to be much for for the audience. The band seemed to be having a lot of fun and just be enjoying themselves. At one point the bassist even did a couple of stage dives into the crowd. 

For the second part of the show they came out with no play list. They just did a combination of requests, covers, and whatever else they felt like doing. The did covers of the Buzzcocks, Ziggy Stardust, and even Cheap Trick. There was lots of crowd interaction and as I said it was basically Greenday having a good time in a very small club. We hung out towards the back of the place next to the sound board. 

 I think I enjoyed this show more than the one the night before. All in all a very fun, but late night.

As a final observation I thought it was very cool that within a one block radius in downtown Oakland last night you had Franz Ferdinand playing at the Fox, Leonard Cohen at the Paramount, and Greenday at the Uptown. 

Oh, and sorry about the really bad picture quality. The iPhone isn't the best device for dark concert photography.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rock and Roll

We are going to hit a few familiar themes here for this post. The dog, the weather, school, and a concert review.

Ajax has been causing trouble lately, just as he seemed to be growing up a little we have had a couple of incidents that remind us that he is only a puppy after all. One was a day last week when I was driving to the dog park to let him do his thing. I usually let Ajax sit on the front seat and stick his head out the window. Who hasn't seen a dog, ears flapping in the breeze, with his head out the window, right? We stop at a light across form the park and just as I am  pulling away Ajax leaps out of the window and goes tearing off after a squirrel. Oh shit! I quickly pulled over and got him and he was completely nonchalant about the whole incident, but damn he got out of that car fast. The best part was the look on the face of the guy in the car behind me.. 

Ajax has also managed to get himself banned from doggie day care for biting another dog during play time. Something that we haven't really got a complete explanation of from the kennel people yet, but the day care thing was a one time deal so no real harm done there.

Last weekend I attended the Safety at Sea Seminar here at Cal Maritime. This is a requirement for any skipper doing the Coastal Cup, Transpac, or Pacific Cup races around here. I got to attend the seminar for free in exchange for helping out with some of the stuff on campus. The funniest part I though was listening to Stan Honey's Hawaii race weather presentation where he talked about hooking into the leading edge of a hurricane as a viable routing option for racing to Hawaii. Stan was the first to admit that maybe that wasn't the best advice to give at a safety at sea seminar, but it was pretty funny. For my part, my major contribution was driving the boat for the flare demonstration. 

After the seminar we got back to Alameda early enough to take Gonzo out for a nice sunset sail. We even got Dina to put in a useful stint on the tiller. She is actually getting a lot more confident while driving, giving her the mainsheet to hold on to seems to help a lot. I guess having the ability to flatten out the boat in her hand makes her a lot more comfortable.

Yesterday I spent the whole day on the boat finishing off a paper that I needed to get done. This was one of those papers that I had a whole semester to do, but waited to the last minute to do. But, as a wise man once said "If you wait till the last minute to do something, then it only takes a minute to do".  Anyway, yesterday was very windy down on the boat. Probably the windiest day we have had on board. The new slip has always been a lot bouncier than the old one, but this was bad. After I had had lunch I was actually starting to get nauseous while working on the computer. Dina when she came home from work got nauseous almost immediately and basically took off with the dog to avoid the whole thing. I think that we are probably going to ask the harbor master if we can move again. While yesterday was particularly bad, the slip in general is pretty uncomfortable. It is getting to the point that the nicer view is just not worth it.

Last night Dina managed to score tickets to see Greenday at the Fox Theatre in Oakland.
 This was a show that they announced the day before and was claimed to be Greenday's way of practicing there new album in front 0f a live audience. When we got there however the whole thing was set up for a video shoot. What we got was a very polished, practiced performance of the whole new album, played straight through. We had seen Greenday in San Francisco a few years ago and this show was much better. Smaller venue, less interaction with the crowed, and a band that was pretty obviously enjoying themselves. 

They played a two and half hour set, with a lot of American Idiot played in the second set. They cranked the volume up for the second part of the set, and my ears are still ringing. Still other than the guy that stepped on my foot it was very enjoyable, albeit late, evening.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Long time coming

It's been a funny old time around the Lobster T these last few days. Nothing really too exciting to write about, but no free time in which to do it. Does that make sense? We did get nice weekend weather though, which made Dina happy.

I have been finishing up a couple of end of school projects which has taken a lot of time up at CMA. I have a couple of presentations to do before this whole thing ends, one in a local Vallejo area school, that should be fun. However since it is a group project, and I am waiting for other members of my group to make final arrangements, I don't know yet when it will be. But, if and when it happens I will get some pictures, just for laughs.

The big thing over the weekend was getting a new foam mattress for the forward cabin. We got it at a place called Bob's Foam Factory down in Newark.

 Bob's is a totally cool place and they did a great job taking care of us. I think we learned more about foam in that afternoon than I ever thought it was possible to know. Also, Bob has a grandson named Dominic, so you know it has to be a quality establishment. 

I have got most of the projects done on Gonzo, and hopefully we will be race ready come the first beer can races towards the end of the month. I am still hoping to get a new Genoa for the boat, but we shall have to see how that shakes out. Getting the Genoa is easy, it is the pulling of the mast, and the replacement of the headstay that is problematic. 

We did however take Gonzo out for a short sail on Sunday with our friend Kirsten. We actually made it out of the Estuary and reached around in the South Bay for a while before setting the kite for the ride back home. Kirsten drove us most of the way back and did a good job considering a lack of helm time with the spinnaker up. I was hoping she would post some pictures on her Facebook page (hint hint), that I could steal and put up here, but alas, no luck. 

So, it is know only a few weeks from graduation and I just got this email from the school.

You will be receiving an award at the Award’s Ceremony on Commencement Day.  The Award’s Ceremony is at 11 AM in Rizza Auditorium.  I want to keep some sense of mystery so I don’t let you know what award or awards you will be given.  These awards are a mixture of academic, industry, community, and leadership involvement.  It is really important that you attend this ceremony.  This ceremony is not oly for YOU but for your parents, spouse & loved ones who have supported you through your education at Cal Maritime.  Out of 160 graduating seniors, you have been selected so you should be proud of your accomplishment!

I figure you can pretty much rule out the Industry, Community, and Leadership parts, so I figure I am in line for some kind of Academic award! Who would have ever seen that coming? Certainly, not me.

Yesterday, just for fun I figured it would be nice to bring Ajax to Vallejo with me. One of the good things about our brief ten month stay in Vallejo was the dog walk along the Carquinez Straits right out side of our place there.  

After a quick wait in the car while I had class Ajax and I had a good ramble up and down this track. I guess I never really have gotten Ajax out in the open before, but one thing for sure, he isn't very coordinated. go, he is a clumsy beast. Still he really seemed to enjoy it and it was good to get him out there.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Smoke on the Water

We had a biggish fire just down the Estuary from us over the weekend. An old Navy hospital that has been long abandoned was set on fire Saturday night. 

The Alameda Fire Department decided just to let it burn itself out, which kind of makes sense. But we still had a couple of days of thick smoke all through the marina and now the boat is all covered with a sooty mess. Blech..

I got to be a bachelor all last weekend as Dina took off to Mexico for my Aunt's wedding. It sounds, and looks, like she had a really good time there, although the idea of Dina spending that much unsupervised time with my mother is a bit worrisome. I didn't really get up to a lot of hi jinks while left to my own devices, other than a kind of informal pub crawl of Park Street on Friday afternoon with Linda. We started at Speseikamer, then up and down Park including a stop off at a slot car racing place. 

Then we stopped off for a final beer at McGee's. I made it home before dark and then had a couple of drinks at the Encinal Yacht Club before having Tom and Rich over to the boat for a night cap. Not really a wild and crazy night out, but a good time.

Saturday I spent changing out the water heater in the boat. We had noticed the water pump running quite a lot recently and knew that we had a leak somewhere. Once we figured that the water heater was the problem we acquired a replacement and Saturday was the big day for swapping it out. As far as working on boats goes the Lobster T is actually pretty good.

 I could get to everything relatively easily and had no real problems doing the change. I did however have some issues getting the water hoses hooked up without leaking, and trying to figure out the wiring harness. 

However with some help from Todd in San Diego we got it all sorted and now we have the simple pleasure of hot and cold running water again. 

On a Ajax the dog related note, we have decided that today, April 1st, was a good day for Ajax's birthday to fall on. So happy 1st birthday to Ajax.

 We don't really have any plans to do anything special for him, but he did get to chew up a pair of my sunglasses (the third pair of mine that he has got) over the weekend, so he will have to be happy with that.