Liberty is being free from the things we don't like in order to be slaves of the things we do like.--Ernest Benn

Monday, December 26, 2011

Your Dog Can Get You into Trouble

Today I had to check on my Laser-38. Since I hadn't given Doberwoman her morning beach walk (too many hours squandered on the English Premier League), she had to come along as escort, bodyguard and conversation piece. We discovered conditions of super-low tide. The gang plank down to the floating docks was extremely steep. So I let Doberwoman run ahead much of the length of her Retractable Belt Leash as we approached the locked gate to the marina.

There was a well-dressed, 20-ish blonde woman with immaculately coiffed 'big hair'. She was waiting by the gate for the next passer-by with a key to let her through. She was pushing an elaborate baby carriage. The only passenger in this carriage was a highly-coiffed runty little dog, maybe half as big as my 3/1/2 month old, 18 lb granddaughter. This little bratty dog was snarling, growling and barking at my perfectly behaved Ms Ballou. As I was opening and holding the gate for Lady McHair to pass through with her entourage, I heard her speak:
"You know there is a law that restricts your leash to 3 1/2 feet." My first and only reaction was this stranger was accusing Ms Ballou of being a loose Doberwoman. In a word my Doberwoman was being called a slut and a whore.

Big Hair was walking behind on the dock so I slowed down so she could hear me as my mouth moved faster than my brain:

What are you? The self-anointed dog police? Der canine Korps? Are you German? Are you a Republican? If I knew you were going to act like such a narc, I wouldn't have let you in the gate without a key. There's probably a law against that. And your little joke of a pampered pooch is ten times more vicious and out of control than my purebred gentle lady.
And with that I completely unchained my Doberwoman and let her lope ahead of me, all the way to the boat. 

If Trophy Wife had been along, she would have been mortified. On second thought, had T.W. been there, Lady McHair would have gone for a swim.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dear Joe Letter

Dear Joe,

I think it might have been easier watching what we were doing yesterday than doing what you were watching. I actually mentioned to the crew several (at least three) times that I hoped you were not watching! Truth is I felt your eyes on us much of the race. I'm just glad you didn't see the start.

In 2-3 knots of wind, I was forced to use the momentum tactic: pushing the boat forward at five knots and then switching off the diesel with 4+ minutes to go. The problem was that I mentally zoned out and was too far from the line when I hit the switch. Plus there was a huge adverse current. But the real problem is my mind. I just do not have that competitive cutting mental edge any more. Trophy Wife was puzzled. She doesn't understand  my wish to resume civilian (land-lubbering) life. Far from spending time on the water not learning anything more, I am actually unlearning stuff that I know I knew before.

For instance, results in a yacht race are due to the accumulated mistakes made by each boat. For me, one deja vu learning is that racing actually leads me into bad seamanship at times. When I get into trouble, I often resort to improbable, low-percentage, long-shot, risky efforts to recoup losses. For example, you saw how we endeavored to keep the spinnaker up by over-standing K-Mark far enough so we could gybe around it instead of dousing and tacking. From shore, it must have looked like shit. Except it happened so slowly, you probably lost enough interest at several points not to have understood what we were trying to do.

The only thing I can say about the start is to focus on other facts: it wouldn't have made any difference in the long run: ultimately, we weren't able to complete the course because the current was going twice the speed of the wind and we were swept outside the gate. Secondly, we were not the only boat to abandon.

But Thank you for loaning me two crew. Both were good sailors and quality people. K looked like she had grown up lifting spinnaker poles and J was ever ready and capable to take on anything. I hope I haven't embarrassed myself so much on that start, not to be able to get another waiver on these two wonderful people in the future, should my needs arise...

Well, irony of irony. Yesterday was the make-up for the Memorial Day Race, which was cancelled because the wind was 40 knots? Go figure.

No matter. I'm done. Insert fork.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fútbol Dudn't Get Any Better than Dis!

Arsenal Celebrated it's 125th anniversity today. The Gunners' legends including Frank McLintock, Charlie George, David O’Leary, George Graham, Robert Pires, Jens Lehmann and Henry - who yesterday had a bronze statue of him unveiled outside the ground - all helped make up a guard of honour as Captain Robin van Persie led the current side onto the field. With 20 minutes remaining in the game, Alex Song and the Flying Dutchmen exceuted this poetry in motion:

The three Gunners on Vigilance FC (my rotisserie team) are Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and RVP. Together they netted more than half of my points this week. Last August, my rotisserie opponents derided my first round draft of RVP as the man with the glass ankles. That's because of his past history of injuries. Mid-season now, and I go to bed every Friday night with my fingers crossed and wearing an Arsenal shirt. If these rituals work their magic, Robin will remain the man with the golden feet!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Queen to Play

By high school standards I was an extremely mediocre chess player. despite the fact that I spent hours studying boards and texts, my game never attained enough critical mass to fuel ambition. My best performance was when our class champion, Clint, and I arranged to play a rehearsed and memorized game before a handful of unknowing classmates. As far as playing real games was concerned, I used to say that the only thing worse than losing to Clint in chess was beating him because you had to work so hard.

This all came back to me as we watched Queen to Play last night. Hélène, played by Sandrine Bonnaire, is cast as a Cinderella-like housekeeper at a luxury hotel in Corsica. She has a volatile teenage daughter and a husband who does the bottom work on yachts. As the film progresses, in her normal daytime work Hélène witnesses an intense game of chess between a sexy American couple who are guests at the hotel. When she see the woman (Jennifer Beal) win, Hélène is intrigued by the game. She decides to stretch household funds enough to buy a computerized game for her husband. When hubby turns out to be too stressed keeping his job and making a living at the boat yard to have any surplus energy for chess, Hélène begins to look into the rules. As soon as she makes the ominous discovery that the queen is the most powerful piece on the board, an increasing obsession with nighttime study and practice inevitably begins to affect her daytime work. Indeed, all of her relationships with her husband, daughter, employers and friends undergo profound changes.

She ultimately engages with a retired American doctor (Kevin Kline) to exchange housekeeping chores for chess lessons. When the doctor eventually begins losing games to her, Kline's character pronounces Hélène to be a natural talent, a quality which cannot be taught.

At this point in the movie, I catch a sense of foreshadowing and foreboding: in her pursuit of her own ultimate self-fulfillment, Hélène will embark on progressively greater and more ambitious challenges on the checkered board.

Or is it deja vu? Will she eventually discover as I did with Clint, that the only thing worse than losing at chess is winning. Or maybe not...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Late Again! The Clipper Race 'Round the World Starts Without Me!

The sixth stage in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht (Virtual) Race from Tauranga to Gold Coast, Australia.
The 1150 mile course began in effect with 15 to 20 knot winds heading north-east, and the first to turn at Te Hapu - the North Cape of Maori - should see a reverse effect of the winds changing to Southwest which shall be "interesting" without doubt.

The start of the race sees the fleet slalom the Colville Channel avoiding the aptly named Great Barrier Island. From then on, the crossing should not be too problematic and the arrival at the Gold Coast, a beautiful port located south of Brisbane will be made all the more magnificent with Mount McPherson setting a spectacular backdrop.
Hours late at the start, I've worked myself up to 4,282nd place!