Saturday, November 29, 2008

Please Be Real

**UPDATE - It wasn't real. The actual wind was only around 15 mph and I was seriously underpowered on a 5.8. (Shoulda rigged the 6.6). Oh, well. At least I got wet and got some excercise before the long drive from SC back to FL.**

-Original post-

This is tomorrow's wind forecast for the Edisto Island, South Carolina area. Yellow is good, orange is great, red is radical, and maroon is EPIC:


I hope it comes true. I've had a wonderful time visiting relatives, walking on the beach, and eating good food here during this Thanksgiving vacation, but a sweet windsurf session would really cap things off. Stay tuned...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dating Etiquette: Say "No" or Say Nothing?


"If you've only been out with her once or twice, you're not really dating, so you don't have to break up. It's like, understood when you just don't call anymore."

That was the BAD ADVICE someone gave me in college. I followed it by ceasing to call a girl after our second so-so date. Then I happily went about my business, delighted with how simple and easy the not-breaking-up had been...

...until about a month later when I ended up seated near the girl at a play on campus. I was with another date. The original girl saw us and didn't say anything, but looked miserable. When the lights came on after the show her face was flushed with tears and she hustled out of the auditorium. All of a sudden I realized what a jerk I'd been to leave her hanging. Though my not-calling had eventually conveyed that I wasn't interested, it had needlessly put the the girl through a prolonged period of distress. I can imagine her initial hopefulness slowly tainted with the anxiety of waiting - "maybe he'll call tonight... maybe tomorrow...", then sinking into ugly disappointment and hurt with the realization she'd been rejected in the most callous way. :(

Perhaps through the mystical justice of karma, I have since been on the receiving end of the "left hanging" treatment innumerable times. I think I have paid my dues in disappointment enough now to be able to write the following guide:

When to Say "No" and When to Say Nothing

Situation #1: You are politely propositioned in person, over the phone, or in an email or text message.
Best solution: Say "no" in a clear and polite manner.
Risky solution: Make up a false excuse like "I'm already seeing someone". This is tempting for people averse to conflict because it can dodge or delay the social awkwardness of rejecting and being rejected. Unfortunately, it can lead to even greater awkwardness and angst later if more lies are required and / or the truth seeps out. So it's usually better to give a truthful "no" to begin with.
Rude solution: Ignore the person, or reply in a cruel or condescending way.
Fake-nice solution: Give out your number or email as if you are interested, but then make up excuses or don't answer back when they contact you later. This can seem nicer than saying no because it avoids the initial awkwardness, but it's actually much worse because it gets the person's hopes up then prolongs the disappointment / rejection / frustration period.

Situation #2: You are politely propositioned for a date or conversation by a previously unknown person via an Internet dating service.
Best solution: Say "no" in a clear and polite manner.
Ok solution: Ignore the request. This would be rude in real life, but it's acceptable on internet dating services, where attractive women tend to get too many requests to answer adequately, and men tend to mass-email requests to dozens of women with relatively little hope little hope riding on any particular individual.
Rude solution: Respond with a harsh evaluation of the person's flaws and deficiencies.

Situation #3: You are politely propositioned for a date by someone with whom you have previously conversed via an Internet dating service.
Solutions: Same as #2, except that ignoring the request is no longer "ok" because it violates the precedent of civil discourse set by your earlier exchanges. You are now obligated to say "no".

Situation #4: You are propositioned in a rude or vulgar way, in any venue.
Best solution: Ignore, escape, report.
Ok solution: Confront, denounce.
Rude solution: Assault.

Situation #5: You make a date with a person, but change your mind or find something else you'd rather do.
Best solution: Call the person asap and tell him or her in a nice way that you've decided to cancel the date and are no longer interested in pursuing a relationship.
Risky solution: Wait until the person contacts you before before giving your "no thanks". This is sketchy because the person you made the date with may think the date is firmly set and therefore not think they need to contact you again beforehand.
Rude solution: Don't do anything, and ignore all pre-date communication attempts.
Horrible solution: Imply during your last communication that the date is still on, but then don't show, leaving the person literally "stood up".

Situation #6: You've been on at least one date with someone, and decide you don't want to date him or her anymore. The person you've been dating hasn't done anything horribly wrong - he or she just isn't your type.
Best solution: Politely and clearly explain your intention to cease dating.
Risky solution: Maintain communication, but subtly move the person into the "friend zone". (Note- this only works in the early stages of a relationship, and you shouldn't try it unless you really do want a friendship with the person.)
Rude solution: Cease contact inexplicably, or break up in a nasty way.

Situation #7: You've already said no but the person keeps bugging you, or you've broken up with someone, but he or she keeps clinging to the hope of romantic reinstatement to the extent that platonic communication is awkward or impossible.
Best solution: In this case, ignoring may be the only solution that works, because too much discussion around "no" will just exacerbate an obsession.

Hope that clears things up.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Most Officious Nautical Authority Figures

Thanks to all who responded to the "Worst Company at the Beach" poll. The final results were...

1st Worst: Jetskiers - 42% of votes
2nd Worst: Kiteboarders - 33% of votes
3rd Worst: Fishermen - 16% of votes
4th Worst: Surfers - 9% of votes
5th Worst: Beach goers / Looky Loos - 3% of votes
Least Worst: Windsurfers - 1% of votes

I've just posted a new poll with a similar theme. This time, though, it's not evaluating the recreational users of the water, but rather the authority figures who supervise us. These folks are charged with protecting us from each other, the harsh environment, and our own stupidity. Yet sometimes it seems they are only protecting their own sense of self-imporance. Which group is the most "officious"?

It it Lifeguards? (Video Funnyness Grade = C+)

Park Rangers? (Video Funnyness Grade = B+)

Marine or Beach Police? (Video Funnyness Grade = D+)

Or is it the Coast Guard (aka the Coasties)? (Video Funnyness Grade = F+)

The poll is in the sidebar.

Friday, November 21, 2008

World's Longest Windsurfing Board

The excesses of the 1980s extended to the windsurfing arena, apparently...

Thanks to Clyde from the East Central Florida Windsurfing group for sharing the link.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gay Rights Struggle: From California Tom

Hey readers. Most of you have probably heard about California's "Prop 8", an anti-gay-marriage ammendment that narrowly passed during the recent election. In my opinion, it was a terrible step backward in our American society's journey towards true freedom and equality.

Anyway, my friend Tom, who is gay and lives in California, has been lobbying and protesting hard for the state to rescind the bigoted ammendment. He sent out this letter and these pictures, and said I could repost them here. I hope you find them inspiring. In Tom's words...

Dearest Friends and Family:

This is a very important time of change. While I am thrilled by the election of Obama, I am personally insulted that in this modern day gay people are still denied equal rights, especially in a country that claims to the land of the free and the leader of the free world. It seems odd to me that other countries that don't make these kinds of claims have to show America how to be free. Somehow homosexuality is being called a threat to national security and a sign of the coming apocalypse. In truth, it is that kind of ignorance is a far greater threat to our global security! For how long are we going to deny the realities of the world in which we live? This is no time to make false accusations and encourage superstitions.

Please enjoy the photos I have attached from a few of the world-wide protests that have taken place since the elections. Some of these photos I took myself, others are ones the press took. All of these images are from protest marches that I took part in at West Hollywood, Hollywood, and in Downtown Los Angeles. The numbers of people who come out to make themselves heard and the energy of those who participate is very inspiring. Let's ALL join together and take a stand once and for all for equality.

Thank you and my best wishes to each of you,

Tom H.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Fixed, Enriched

Last week I was in a bit of a tight spot, as described in the post "Broke, Broken".

Yeah, well, now it's all better thanks to a perfect storm of good fortune. (Be warned, the ensuing post is a bit of a shaggy-dog story.)

It started on Thursday when aspiring Olympic Windsurfer Farrah Hall stopped by Fort Pierce on her way to Miami for a regatta. She took me to meet one of her windsurfing mentors, 5-time Olympian, 2-time medal winner Mike "Gebi" Gebhardt. I knew Gebi lived in Fort Pierce, but I hadn't met him yet because he had only recently returned from Luderitz, Namibia. Down there he was coaching world-speed-record-breaking kiteboarder Rob Douglas. (Kiteboarders recently took the speed record away from windsurfers and will probably keep it because they can generate more power with less drag.)

Anyway, Farrah and Gebi are really into to natural foods because of their athletic training, so the first thing we all did together was go to Publix to buy a bunch of organic fruits and vegetables.


While we were having dinner at Gebi's house his neighbor Mike, who is also a windsurfer, came over to say hi. Mike offered to give me his 460 cm mast on an indefinite loan because he has become a wind snob who never uses the large mast anymore. I gladly accepted. That was the first bit of good luck.

The next bit of luck was when Farrah took my for-sale board down to Miami with her and for-sold it, putting moolah back in my pocket. That moolah joined some more moolah I made moonlighting Saturday as a windsurfing instructor at the Jensen Beach Sailing Center. I felt so rich I treated myself to a subway sandwich - I even splurged for the combo meal. (I was actually going to treat myself to a hotdog from a quaint roadside stand in Jensen, but I overheard the quaint proprietor telling a really nasty n-word joke to some guffawing redneck repugnicans in line ahead of me, so I peeled out of there and will never go back. If any of y'all are visiting Jensen Beach, skip the racist hot-dog stand just north of Mulligan's bar.)

Then yesterday I ran into John P. (the guy who sold me the bum mast) at the beach and told him the story about the mast breaking. He was such a gentleman that he refunded most of my money before I even hinted at anything. Shucks, all I was gonna ask for was a subway sandwich.

In honor of honest-John, here is a picture of him riding my gear the other day.


The End

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Worst People at the Beach

The ocean is huge, but not huge enough, apparently, for everyone to share it nicely. When there are a lot of people who want to use the water in different ways, conflict among opposing groups is inevitable. But which group of water users is the worst; the grouchiest, the grumpiest, the most obnoxious, territorial, self-absorbed, reckless, annoying, and/or dangerous? I'll let YOU decide, with the new poll in the sidebar and the "voters guide" below.

VOTERS' GUIDE - Note: Visual aids have been selected for entertainment value and may be only vaguely relevant

*Is it recreational fishermen? Camraderie among the brotherhood of anglers is usually pretty good, uniting generations, ethnic groups, and once-in-a-while gender. Yet, recreational fishers can have a somewhat inflated sense of entitlement with regards to "their" fish, "their" turf, "their" water, etc. Occasionially this leads to "rod rage" (the cousin of road rage and 'roid rage). Why, just the other day at the Fort Pierce Jetty, a fisherman irked by the close-passes of some kiteboarders deliberately cast a heavy lure at one, horribly entangling it in the woman's hair.

*But maybe it's the kiteboarders' fault? They do tend to get awfully caught up in their own showing-off, they take up a ton of space on the water and on the beach, and whether they're in control or not, they always seem like an accident waiting impatiently to happen.

*It's hard to turn a critical eye to ones' self, but windsurfers like me might not be the sweetest sharers, either. Our sail-side blind spots and myopic, zoned-out speeding make us like errant asteroids on collision trajectories with whoever or whatever else is on the water. Even on the beach, our scythe-like fins, battering ram boards, and swinging mast-lances are a menace to passers by.

*But what's up with those aimless beach-goers and looky-loos crowding like lemmings around the water's edge, right in the way of our more serious recreation? Why must they torment us with their blank stares, and the same, stupid questions over and over. "Lotta para-boarders out today, huh? Are there any sharks in this lake?"

*One group most people can agree to hate are the jet-skiers. Noisy, stupid, instant-gratification water-play for those without the skill to bait a hook, the fitness to pull a paddle, or the focus to balance on a board. But darn if those overpowered water-hornets aren't fun when you actually ride one yourself.

*The opposite of jet-skiers are the surfers. Surely they must be the most peaceful, low-key, in-tune players in the ocean? Nope. They've got a ridiculous, Lord-Of-The-Flies - style pecking order for who gets "their" waves. They're quick to administer verbal assaults and aquatic beatdowns among their own, and even quicker to gang up on other water users who might stray into their turf.

So, who is it gonna be?

Broke, Broken

I knew this month would be an interesting challenge when I spent most of my money on a new windsurf board last weekend.

It got more interesting this morning when I broke my only 460 cm mast.


It was a cheap, used one that I bought to replace the one I gave to my dad to take to South Carolina. It kinked at the joint when I was pumping my 6.6 sail in marginal conditions. Fortunately, I was able to sail back to the beach and didn't rip the mast sleeve.

So, that makes me a wind-snob for the rest of the month. The biggest sail I can rig on my next biggest mast is a 5.8, which takes close to 20 mph to work right. Dang.

On a not-totally-unrelated note, I still have a board for sale, some fins for sale, and I'm offering beginner windsurfing lessons evenings and weekends! All cheap.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


This blog post is made up of scraps, each, in itself, much too boring to merit an entire blog post. My hope, however, is that by tying the disparate pieces together under the common theme of "changeitude", I can create an integrated whole that is less uninteresting than the second most uninteresting thing you might read on the Internet during the course of a day, thereby meriting your attention.

I'll start with the obvious: WE WON! Happy happy joy joy! How awesome that FLORIDA and VIRGINA went blue, too. Makes me happy to have lived and voted and sneezed my liberal germs all over both those places. The future of this country might actually be pretty good. Although progressives still have a lot of work to do, including undoing the stupid anti-gay laws that passed in several states.

Next up is an exciting (to me) change in my habitations that I have hinted at in previous posts: the giant board rack that my dad built for my apartment. Johnny Douglass prides himself as a connoisseur of racks - with this wonderful creation he successfully defends his reputation. Thanks, dad.

The final change to report is also windsurfing-related. I bought a new board! I have to live the rest of the month on peanut butter and crackers to pay for it, but I rode the thing Tuesday after work and have to say - it was worth it! The board is an Exocet Cross II 106 2008 (the blue one in the picture), and it replaces the Fanatic Skate 63 2001 (the white one in the picture) that was my favorite moderate-wind shortboard up until Tuesday. The main difference between the Cross and the Skate is that the Cross is shorter (242 vs. 263 cm) and has slightly less volume (106 vs. 114 liters). It still planes early, though, because it remains wide, especially in the tail section where it counts most.

The fin for the Cross (right) is really different from the one I've been using on the Skate (left). Its longer and skinner, with a higher "aspect ratio" as they say. Normally that makes a fin faster and more efficient, but more susceptible to spinning out. Also because it's not raked, it won't shed weeds. And because it doesn't have as much surface area it won't balance out as large a sail. Anyway, I'm going to try the old fin on the new board next time I go out to see how that works.

PS- The Skate (still an awesome board) is for sale, and I need to sell it quick to afford the peanut butter and crackers. I put an ad here on the Treasure Coast Windsurfing Forum.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Windsurfing Pictures - Dad and Me

I didn't think it was windy today. It just looked rainy. So I had a lazy day of reading and helping my dad build a board rack. That is, until my mom came back from a walk saying she'd just been at the beach where it was windy and there were "five windsurfers!".

Naturally, pops and I hustled down to the beach as fast as we could. There was no sign of the mystery windsurfers anymore, but there was still some side-off breeze. We rigged up 7.8 and 6.6 msq sails for our respective longboards and set out. Though the winds were marginal for planing, there was a big, smooth swell making things interesting. A squall started looming towards the end of the session so we quit before too long. It was fun, though.






Saturday, November 1, 2008

Windsurfing Pictures - Me, me, and me

On Wednesday my folks drove down from South Carolina to stay with me for a week. It's nice having them here. A lot of stuff I'd been putting off, like fully furnishing and decorating my apartment, has now gotten done thanks to parental guidance. Also, I got to go windsurfing with my dad on Thursday, and he liked the big board I bought for his middle-aged re-entry into the sport (a Fanatic Viper 85 from Calema Windsurfing).

On Halloween Friday the wind and waves were rougher and my dad was complaining more than usual about his chronic hand eczema, so I didn't make him go windsurfing. I went after work, though, and my mom took some pictures from the jetty. Thanks, mom.

The pictures-

Going out. I was sailing a 6.6 Aerotech Charge on a 114 liter Fanatic Skate. That's my go-to setup for a typical breezy Fort Pierce day.

Coming in...

Carving - maybe a jibe initiation?

Life is rough in Florida.

Today the wind was a no-show, but I worked some with my dad on building a board rack. It should be cool when it's done.