Friday, December 30, 2011

Morgan OI 33 Sailboatv2

Morgan OI 33 Sailboatv2:

3D model by
Updated Model of my 1973 Morgan Sloop with a proposed wind turbines, solar mounts and davit design.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

On Stage Tonight...

The 1st Mate and I have been singing and playing in some of the nightspots in San Carlos in recent months. We just got our promo photos done and tonight, turned on GarageBand and did a quick little recording of our opening number. While Bliss sings, I play guitar and use a "vocalizer" to expand my voice into a quartet. Neat technology.  We use a backing track on an iPad for drums, piano and bass.
Hope you like it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Goodbye, Dave. Goodbye, Steve.

This week my Uncle Dave passed away from a brain tumor. He was 87 and was surrounded by loved ones. Dave introduced me to sailing, and I now sail 2,000 nautical miles a year, on average. I was impressed as a child by his architectural renderings and became an artist, which led me to cartooning and illustrating in newspapers and magazines, and eventually, to publishing, where I am today (and the last 23 years). I'm still painting if I can find the time. Good for the soul. So it's safe to say that Dave was a phenomenal influence in my life. He was gentle and kind, but could be firm too. A good man. I'll miss him.

Also this week Steve Jobs died from pancreatic cancer. He was 56, and I always thought of him as being older than me.

When computers were first available to the public, I bought a Commodore 64 and taught myself BASIC programming. There weren't a lot of software titles at the time so if something interested me, I would have to write the software myself. A little later I learned to code in "assembly language" because BASIC programs ran so slow. Assembly was a library of three-letter codes that addressed the computer chip directly. It would only add and subtract, so if you wanted to divide or multiply, you had to figure that out for yourself. It was fun and challenging and I found myself dreaming code in my sleep.

Steve's Macintosh computers enabled me to take my artistic skills (see above) and make them commercially successful. Because of Apple's simple and elegant interface and software, I quickly developed the ability to start and run a publishing company and a commercial art and design studio. I found I could work at home and having gained that freedom, took it a step further and moved to Mexico where we run a publishing house from our condo near the beaches and our sailboat (also see above). I'm an Apple "fanboy" because Apple allowed me to write my own ticket.

I try to remember that when someone I admire passes on, that they are still in the universe... and therefore, still close by.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Woke up this morning, got myself a Gretsch.

For the past 10 or 15 years now, I've been buying Ibanez guitars... Acoustic, bass, semiacoustic, jazz acoustic, solid body... I gave the solid body guitar to the 1st Mate. She's taking lessons now and the Ibanez RG I bought from her son long ago is much easier to play than the acoustic guitar she has. That left a space on my wall for a new guitar.

When I was a teen and learning to play, I sold my moped for $50 so I could buy a new Sears-Roebuck black and white Silvertone electric guitar. My friend Bob Niesmith and I started a rock band called the Titans. We would play wherever we could, and eventually started getting paid for it.

My dream guitar was a Gretsch, like the one played by Chet Atkins. (At the time, I really didn't much care for the songs Chet played, 'cause they weren't cool. But I admired Chet's skill, and especially his Bigsby Tailpiece equipped Gretsch.) The Gretsch he owned would have bought a new Chevy Corvette in the early sixties, and I would have certainly bought the Corvette if I had that kind of cash...

Fast forward to 2011 and Chet has died and gone. I have a space on my wall. Gretsch now builds a line of guitars that are less than the "Chet Atkins Country Gentleman" that still fetches $4,000 and up. So I shopped around the internet until I found a lightly-used double-cutaway Gretsch Electromatic in a beautiful natural mahogany finish and I bought it.

I picked it up this week when we traveled north for a business trip. It's a fabulous guitar, and as much as I like the Ibanez quality/price balance, the Gretsch is heavenly.

My new favorite guitar, with a Bigsby Tailpiece. Stay tuned for some recordings later..   (pickin' & grinnin')

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Screw Facebook

I got a notification from Facebook that I have 2 messages, 2 event invitations, several comments, etc. When I tried to log in they notified me that my account information had been "compromised." Whose fault is that? Guess who.

I logged on and after a grueling process of establishing a new password ("No, you can't use that. No, that one doesn't have any numbers. No, that password is in the Nigerian dictionery, etc.") they require me to upload a copy of a government-issued photo id. (That way the hackers will now have my drivers license to use to purchase weapons and drugs and kiddie porn).

Why does Facebook think I need them in my life? This company is an example of pure arrogance coupled with an unlimited sense of entitlement. I'm posting this to let all my friends know that Facebook is out of my life forever, and if they want to get in contact with me, they can just email it to me.

Anything with Facebook in the subject will be deleted before I even see it, unless of course, you attach your government-issued photo id to the email.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Our Summer Job

Happy B'Day to the 1st Mate. She's XX years old today.

And we're into our summer pattern... which includes the four letter word, w-o-r-k.
Each summer for the past 23 years, we've fired up our little publishing business. It's online version is here.This routine has developed into a series of activities that go like this:

I'm in charge of graphic design and promotional material; the internet presence (web page and site design, writing code for special online functions,  uploading changes and corrections, building the eBook version for downloads, etc); creating the annual custom database (rate increase data, carryover of past due balances, updating forms for invoicing, etc.); and designing the cover for the next edition. As advertising comes in, I produce the ads, place them in the book, create a custom detailed map, send the finished page to the database on the 1st Mate's computer for proofing. When proof changes come in, I fix those, resend the page for final proofing if necessary.

I'm  also the sysop of our little network. Which sometimes can be challenging: We're Mac-based, and certain functions, like purchasing postage online for our Dymo Labelmaker requires work-arounds (in this case, a mix of virtual Window programs, Java applets and a virtual printer) because the Mac isn't supported.

I do some calling of potential advertisers and sell some ads, prepare packages for mailing, and do followup calls. And print labels and postage for mailing promotional materials and single copies.
We do the cover design early in the process. Above, the 2012 Edition.

The 1st Mate is the real powerhouse of sales activity in our business, and is constantly on the phone or emailing potential and existing customers, to present our latest idea to generate interest in our book.

Once the book is completed in the fall, we email (or ftp) the pages to our printer in the USA, who generates proofs for us. Once approved and final corrections are sent and incorporated, the press house plates up their web presses and runs off 65-70,000 copies. They box them up and hold them until we send Fedex our shipping list. Fedex drivers deliver the labels to the press house for affixing. Then Fedex sends a semi to pick up and ship the books to our advertisers. This print job results in 25 pallets about 6 feet high of boxes filled with books. Very heavy.

Once the books arrive, we start getting calls about the errors in the book (nobody is perfect). I make the revisions and post the updates on the eBook and the online version of the Guide.

Together, we build free web pages on our website for our advertisers who want one. This is a promotion that has worked well for us over the years and excites interest.

My work on the website then begins in earnest. I go through the book in the design program I use, adding hyperlinks where needed and then export each page individually into a format that retains the hyperlink data. When these files are uploaded to the internet my work for the year is done.

The 1st Mate writes an occasional blog for the website throughout the year, keeping interest alive there, as well as taking calls from potential customers who like our work.

Checks are sent off to Fedex and the press house, and we (and Uncle Sam) get to keep what's left.

It's a good system... it's really too hot to be outside now and we can work in air-conditioned comfort... in Mexico!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Bitter End

Today our sailboat, SV BLISS, was hauled into the dry storage yard (behind the boat in this photo), where it will sit for awhile. Someone once called Marina Seca (dry marina) and it's plethora of masts, "The forest of broken dreams."

We were scheduled to splash the boat in the wet marina last Thursday, and in my final preparations, I mounted the 31" destroyer-type wheel on the steering post. I had rented a slip for a day/night to do final loading of the boat, and once in the water, we would motor over to the slip, take care of stuff and then motor out to the mooring the next day. I had also rented a mooring (and that's another post).

The helm felt funny, and when I turned the wheel something snapped under the cockpit floor and the wheel spun freely. I emptied out the cockpit lockers and climbed in to find one of the sheaves had broken from it's mounting. I devised a way to fix the problem, and bought the parts to do that. When I tried to move the rudder it would not budge.

Somehow the rudder had frozen to the steering tube during the two months in the workyard. That precipitated the break in the sheave mount.

I tried long levers; I tried spraying lubricants; hammering; dripping muriatic acid into the steering tube in case the problem was barnacle infestation. All the time working under the cockpit in a space the size of the trunk of a compact car. Temperatures were hitting well over 100° (ten miles away, in Empalme, the record was broken at 114°).

I soon realized the entire steering post/steering tube would have to be cut out of the boat. That would create a ragged hole 5 inches in diameter where the thing sits now, if I can drop the rudder. It's a big job, and I've had enough of big jobs for awhile. I decided to put the boat in storage until parts can be found, a place to drop the rudder can be located (I need a pit about 6 feet deep under the stern), the money could be earned to attack the problem (boat yard fees increase each month to discourage long term project boats) and I'm ready for it. I cancelled the launch, the slip and the mooring.

We've spent more money than we wanted to, we missed Loreto Fest completely, and the last 2-1/2 months have been hell. I've been getting up at 5-6 am daily, working to sundown, and sometimes past that. I'm exhausted from the physical labor and working conditions, and lack of rest: I've had to work every day because the yard fees have gotten so high it's a waste of money to take time off.

All this, and I end up with a boat I can't use.

As a consolation, I've kept the dinghy out of storage and we will use it for snorkeling and short fishing trips around the bay. It's pretty small (7-1/2 feet) but it will have to do for awhile.