Sunday, October 26, 2008

Old Bay

The past two weekends I've been out to Annapolis to help Sarah & Paul with their boat.  Last weekend was mostly about boat work - cleaning, re-rigging a few things, trying to fix a leak in the gas tank for the outboard.  That day had two particular highlights.

First, we had to install a wind indicator at the top of the mast.  This meant someone had to go up the mast.  I volunteered - I've always enjoyed work aloft.  So up I went, and prepared to get to work.  First, we decided to test the mast head lights, to make sure they were in good working order.

This is where the story takes an interesting turn.  With two naval architects, and two experienced sailors onboard, you'd think someone would have remembered this important fact about working aloft on small boats: it radically shifts you center of gravity.  Enough so that, say, having a person my size at the top of the mast almost eliminates the righting moment when the boat heels.  So when the crew shifted down below to reach the light switches, the boat heeled over.  A lot.  To the point were I looked straight down and saw the pier - the far side of the pier.  But the she stopped - once I knew that was as far as she'd go, I knew I could just ride out the  rest. It was actually pretty fun.  And I did eventually get that windex in place.  It was a hell of  ride.

The day was not through with us.  Sarah & Paul had brought their dog, Louie.  And later Louie decided he wanted to get off the boat onto the pier.  Trouble was, he didn't quite make it.  Into the Chesapeake he went, and we had to haul him out by the handle installed on the back of his lifejacket.  He was drenched, but he helped by shaking most of the water off onto us.  Good dog!

This weekend the boat was all dialed in, so we were able to get out quickly and sail south of the Bay Bridge.  It was a perfect day for sailing - good steady breeze, sunny and warm but not hot.  Just ideal.  Louie acquitted himself well on the boat, and all four of us did quite well pulling off some very nice tacks - more challenging that it sounds since there are three adults and a dog in a fairly small cockpit.

Out on the water we were surrounded by every possible type of boat and ship.  I saw a cargo barge, a pilot schooner, a topsail schooner, a Farr 40, a Nonsuch, a few very nice Catalinas, an Arleigh Burke class destroyer, and an MSC containership.  Between the sights, the company, and the excellent sailing, it was just about a perfect Sunday.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's Time for the Boat Show

The Annapolis Boat Show is this weekend, and I was able to go with friends.  The show is enormous - every size sailboat from small dinghies to large schooners.  Plus tents and booths for all the nautical gear any sailor could wish for.  I didn't see all of it, by a long shot.  But I got a good look at some nice racing dinghies from Laser, some cruiser from Catalina, even the schooner Virginia, the state's official Tall Ship.

As is so often the case in big events like the boat show, there was absolutely nowhere to sit down and take a break.  I'm sore from being on my feet all day.  So today will be given over to aggressive relaxation.

Before the rest, though, there was the hockey game.  Some of my friends had tickets they were unable to use, and were generous enough to offer them to me.  They were up high in the corner, giving a pretty good view of all of the ice.  And it was a good game - the Caps trailed through midway through the second period, and took the lead late in the third.  There was some sloppy play early; it's only the first home game, so that wasn't too surprising.  That also meant we got to see them hoist the Southeast Conference pennant they won last season.

All of this made for a very long, fun day, but an exhausting one.  I'm already looking forward to  a few naps and going back to bed.  So  lazy...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Gordie Howe Hat Trick

A friend offered me a ticket to the Capitals pre-season game against the Flyers on Friday night.  It was pretty great - we were 9 rows behind the penalty boxes, as close as I've ever been to the ice at a pro game.  The Caps had a good game, winning 5-1.  We debated whether Ovechkin qualified for a Gordie Howe hat trick: he had a goal and an assist, and got sent to the box for fighting.  Problem was, it wasn't the gloves-off kind of fight that leaves no room for doubt - more of a scuffle.  And besides, it was preseason, so does it really count?

For a follow-up, on Saturday I biked over to the Shirlington Oktoberfest after checking out Art on the Avenue.  It was pretty fun, once I managed to meet up with friends and stow my bike at their house.  Great weather for biking, and the perfect way to avoid the headaches of parking.  It was an absolutely enormous crowd, which usually makes me kind of squirrelly.  But it was very relaxing, just hung out and tasted a few beers.  Afterwards, watched the first half of the Alabama game at the apartment before riding home.  And then watched baseball until bed.  Pretty good day, I'd say.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Today was fairly unpleasant.  I didn't have much to do at work, and when I'm unapplied on the job I get bored quickly.  This was punctuated by a few waves of bad news.  One revelation was that the company has eliminated any discretionary travel for the rest of the calendar year, so I will not be going to the MAST conference in Cadiz in November.  I still hope to get my paper published, but unless I pay for it myself (and burn up 4 vacation days to do it), I won't be going to present.  This is a great disappointment, but maybe that just means my sense of entitlement is a little overdeveloped.

That wasn't all, and at the end of the day I felt exhausted.  And at the end of bad days I'm always left thinking what I could have done to avoid it all.  If I had just been smarter, made better choices, things could have turned out different.  And on bad days it can seem like all of your days are bad.

For all that, the day had its moments.  I had a nice lunch out with my friends, which is always a welcome change of pace.  I had a nice ride on the trainer at home, and there is all kinds of postseason baseball, and Pushing Daisies is even back on tv.