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Some random liveaboard notes

I wanted to note some behavior changes I have noticed since the big move. I thought they might be interesting to think about.

Bathroom Awareness – I now seize every opportunity to use a public bathroom as early and often as possible.

Meal Scheduling – I now prefer breakfast more and dinner less due to the corresponding schedule of bowel movements. In the morning, there is nothing more uncomfortable than having to go #2 and having to put on pants and shoes, unbatton the hatch, walk up a ramp, open a gate and then provided you remembered the bathroom key, open the bathroom. With any luck the bathroom will be vacant so you don’t accidentally kill an innocent bystander with the ensuing cannon fire. This is another reason that Bathroom Awareness is important.

Water Collection
– I bought a little 1 liter, stainless steel water bottle. Not so much to save energy and resources by avoiding plastic bottles, but as a way of grabbing fresh water anywhere I can. Namely the bottled water dispenser at work. Drinking two liters a day and then having a third to take home usually means I won’t need to use the bottled water I purchased at the store. Running out of water can suck. I tried the hose water. Not yummy.

Long Term Food – I am now constantly on the lookout for food that doesn’t require much or any refrigeration and doesn’t spoil. Food that requires no cooking is also really nice. Although I have a rice cooker now, I have not used it. I have actually become slightly biased toward not cooking anything inside the boat for fear that it might create more mess than I want to clean up. It occurs to me that cooking on a stove inside the cabin may distribute grease around the surfaces and odors that might be hard to get rid of. I have used the hot water kettle extensively to make ramen noodles, tea and hot buttered rum. This cooking subject is an evolving subject.

Day Bag – I bought a bag that I carry around everywhere. It contains my bathroom kit, knit gloves, knit cap, coat, towel, laptop, power cord, mouse, headset, checkbook, water bottle and ballpoint pen. I use it to carry things between my car and my boat. This includes laundry, groceries and other things I need to add or remove from my boat inventory.

Car Storage – I put things in the car that I need but don’t need to be on my boat. If I go grocery shopping, this could include half of the groceries that won’t make it in one trip to the boat. Convenient that I am buying mostly food that doesn’t spoil to make that work okay. It also includes a giant stockpile of socks that I compiled during the move. I am still trying to determine the optimal number of socks needed to live through two weeks of laundry.

Trash Discipline – I have become infinitely more neat than I used to be. Some of my friends might recall the famous Vinny ownage, “Does Aaron own a dog?” No longer. If I have an unwashed cup in my galley, the boat looks like a pig sty. I cannot let it go even a day unorganized. Every night I hang a trash bag on my pad lock so that when I reach for the lock I also get the trash bag and I never forget to take it out. This goes a long way toward keeping everything ship shape.

Ownership Resistance – I believe I have talked about this before but it is worth mentioning in the context of this list. I no longer buy things on impulse. Everything must have a purpose that it serves daily and is worthy of the space it takes in my boat. If it is needed and not used daily, it is demoted to Car Storage. If it is not needed weekly, it is demoted to my storage space on Brommer Street. If it is not needed monthly, it has a great chance of getting thrown out, given away or sold. Beware gift givers, there are few exceptions to this rule.

I might add to this list, but this is pretty good for now. In other news, I am starting do do SCA stuff with the local group. This weekend, I will most likely be going to 12th Night. If you clicked on all three of those links and still don’t know what the hell I am talking about … I can’t help you.

EDIT: Additions…


Sea Legs
– I no longer feel the difference between land and the boat so going from the boat to land no longer feels funny and going from land to the boat no longer requires an adjustment to balance.

-Aaron

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Sailor?!? I don’t even KNOW her! Ahahahaha!

This holiday weekend I did a lot. I mean a real lot. I didn’t get to play WoW nearly at all.

First it was a trip to Paso Robles to see my Sister. I had heard from her that the hardest part of dealing with Kaley is that she wants to wear her princess pajamas every morning. Naturally I bought her a Tinkerbell dress complete with wings and a princess jewelry set with a tiara, earrings, necklace and bracelets. I thought I was doing my duty as an uncle to buy these things. Unfortunately it backfired as this gave Kaley more than one thing she might want to wear in the morning. The “angry shot” of my sister was not nearly as angry as I was expecting. Better luck next year when I buy the “Fisher Price ‘My First Drum Set’”.

Thank you John and Thea for the crackers, smoked salmon, gift Visa and homemade grape jelly!

Thank you Mom and Doug for the foul weather gear, Johnny Walker scotch and super socks!

Thank you Randall and Vince for the awesome cookies!

Thank you Gramma and Grampa and Wrendy and Phil for the wonderful cards!

Next I met with my grandma and grandpa at the docks, along with my uncle Mitch, his two daughters Meagan and Heather, My aunt Wrendy, her husband Phil and their son Eric and daughter Jessica. We had to make two trips out because there is some six person rule I once heard about. Mitch, Grampa, Phil, Eric, Jessica and I went out first. The sun was shining and the wind was plentiful. We went all over the bay! We made it back in about two hours and docked in front of the Crow’s Nest to swap crews. Then out again for more sailing. This really was one of the best days of my life. I learned so much about sailing, safety, wind, tacking, woo! I am now confident enough that I can take non-experienced people out on my boat without worry. I am not quite ready to solo yet but I am sure it will come.

SO… that means now is your chance. Reservations are open, give me a call and let me know when you want to go out. I can go after work as I get off at about 3 but it doesn’t leave a lot of time with the sun setting at 5pm right now. Weekends would be better. It would also help if you can look at the wind conditions and pick a day that has near 10-20 knots of wind.

I am also starting my rod repair project. I have a sea fishing rod that my great grandfather made but some parts of it are broken. I am going to fix it up and then I will then have two rods and two reels for anyone who wants to fish while we are out.

After the wonderful sailing trip I drove to Pollock Pines to visit my Dad. After an unsuccessful computer class (my fault) we went to dinner at a local steak house. Yum, steak! I helped him out in the shop a bit and he gave me a tackle box that his dad Jesse Rhodes made. Totally cool! That’s way better than buying one of those plastic pieces of junk. It has some weights, hooks and line in it already so I am almost set on tackle now too!

Sunday morning I stopped by Alan and Debbie’s house in Rancho Cordova. I let them know I was interested in starting some SCA activities, including heavy fighting. Jordan and I went to one of the Canton of Caer Darth practices which we will be attending on Thursdays. Alan lent me some of Debbie’s gear including a helmet, gauntlets, plate leggings and some other odds and ends. A good start! I think I shall also be attending 12th night. More info on that later.

In other news, I am tired of trying to figure out the difference between ‘effect’ and ‘affect’. When have you ever said, “Oh, affect, not effect. That changes everything!”? Therefore, I will now merge these two words into ‘

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For your review


I have recently played a bunch of new games. I thought you might like to hear about them.

Fallout 3

I played Fallout 2, never the first one so I think I have a moderate standpoint between the hardcore Fallout enthusiasts and the newcomers who never experienced the isometric, top view, turn based RPG in the days of yore. The beginning did a great job of setting up your character and running you through the tutorial. I really enjoy it when a game makes the tutorial portion transparent through the storyline. This feat is only topped by games that are so intuitive that no tutorial is required. This experience was horribly marred though at the moment you exit the vault and it asks you if you wanted to change anything about your character before starting the game. Really, that was a total pussy move. After exiting the vault you are presented with a dystopian world after a nuclear holocaust. They nailed this pretty well. Mutant animals and humans running amok, people living on the trappings of the past, surviving in ways that would be considered criminal in our time but are a natural part of life there. The obvious correlation between this game and Oblivion are obvious but I think it was a natural engine to convert Fallout to. The game is challenging, has a bit of the charm of the old games and with the side quests there is a lot of enjoyment to be had. The skills system is enjoyable and has noticeable effects on your character. I am trying to think of some annoying aspects of the game (besides that blunder in the beginning) and it is hard to identify anything specific. Perhaps the optional VATS system is a little clunky. I would rather they had stuck to either FPS or VATS and not made it an optional gig. I think that overall the game is great though the scenery can get a little monotonous. There are only so many rusty cars that I can look at before I think a nice rusty gas pump would have been nicer. This is a game I will pop in and out of my XBox on occasion, satisfied with doing side quests and never completing the game completely, sort of like Oblivion.

Dead Space

The most shocking aspect of Dead Space is that it was made by EA. I was fairly comfortable with the idea that EA would only make sequels and sports games, like the upcoming “Madden 2010: Roster Update”. Shocking I tell you because this game is wonderful. It has the feeling of a directed horror movie with eerie music queuing when you are about to be scared out of your seat. Shocking sequences of shadows, sound and movement that we got a taste of in Bioshock are perfected in this game. The plot is very similar to the most recent trilogy of Metroid games in that you must travel about this 3d map repairing things and picking up upgrades to allow you to move into the next area. The story is engaging and delivered in a believable way. Another wonderful feature of the game is a complete lack of a 4th wall interface. Your ammo, life and video communication are all done with in game elements like holograms or indicators on your armor and weapons. There is still a full screen map and inventory that I think could have been done in game with a little more work, but I respect the amount of time that would have taken to implement. There’s room to grow, let’s hope we see that done in future games. I enjoy though that I don’t have to look at some hokey ammo indicator on the left edge of my screen, constantly tainting my immersion. The battle system has a unique shaped ammo element that sets it apart from other FPS games in that it adds a level of strategy beyond the standard sort, mid, long range weapon choices. My only complaint might be the upgrade system and the power node rarity. After almost completing the game I realize that my math is bad and I should have been opening all those doors that required a node to open. I also don’t think the upgrades are very descriptive, intuitive or fun. I consider this the weak point of the game but really this could have been a great game without any upgrade system whatsoever. All in all I loved this game and would recommend it to anyone of appropriate age. It is even more gruesome and frightening than Bioshock was and I think it might give small children nightmares. If you like scary, you are golden.

Crossbones

I picked up this game for my iPhone and it has become my new diversion when I forget to bring my DS somewhere. Pull it out and a quick game always treats me with a grin. If you are familiar with the card game Set the idea of the game will come easily. There are four criteria of the tiles in this pirate themed game:

1) Color
2) Stripes
3) Symbols
4) Count

Each criteria has three iterations and to complete a match, you need three tiles that either match each criteria or are a complete mismatch of the iterations. I probably didn’t explain it well but after you get the hang of it (with the game’s easy tutorial) your head will buzz as you start to match them faster and faster. Beware of the ‘Hard’ setting; It will make you feel unworthy! It also has a ‘hand’ feature that is unique to the Set game and adds a but of hands on to the gameplay. If you can’t match anything you see you can shake your iPhone for a new hand of four cards that only you have access to. I have so far been unable to participate in an online match so I am hoping this will get all of you out there tapping away at it so I can lock horns of wit with you in the near future! Until then, the single player game is a worthy opponent.

-Aaron

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Shaken, not stirred

The holiday season once again engulfs us in a soft blanket of friends, family, food and fuel consumption. Of course, for most of us this means that we schedule around which families we will spend certain portions of our holiday time with. I think this year will be Xmas at my sister’s house in Pasa Robles, then my grandparents want to go out on the boat for her maiden voyage, I am shooting for Friday, and then the weekend I will shoot up to Pollock Pines to visit my Dad. That’s the plan anyway.

My friend Justin let me in on his gift exchange idea. This year he is buying himself something from me and I am buying myself something from him. That way we get exactly what we wanted from each other, we don’t spend more than we can afford and it works out great for everyone. I let him know that he got me Chrono Trigger for the DS. He has not opened his present from me yet but I am dying to see what I got him.

The life of a grocery store clerk seems interesting to me. Each person that comes to the counter with an armful of groceries they are (likely) required to ask, “How is your day today?” I imagine they mostly get some dry response like, “Okay,” or maybe some discussion of their personal problems that the store clerk doesn’t really care about and wishes through the whole thing that the person had taken it as a rhetorical question and should get on with swiping their cards and not hold up the line. I love responding with, “Outstanding!”, “Fantastic!” or, “Absolutely awesome!” Believe it or not, those are not common responses.

In other news I am almost level 76. I bought a book called Old Man’s War which has put the reading bug back in me.

-Aaron

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For a rainy day


I spent yesterday on my boat. The whole day loafing, playing WoW and watching some TV shows. The rain started coming down hard, and it is much louder pattering on a fiberglass deck than it is in a house. I found one of the hatches has a clamp that doesn’t tighten far enough to make a good seal, so with a little improvisation I was able to batten down properly, not a leak anywhere. I saw another boat with a tarp over the cabin, probably not a good thing. I was warm, dry, I had food, wine, entertainment. I kept getting this sort of floaty giddy feeling. It could have been partially the wine but Adam says it might be something called happiness.

There I was in The Old Kingdom. I was healing like mad, my group members running about this gigantic bug. The graveling sound of the hail came down just as my mana grew sparse. I called on my reserves and a potion to bring me up to a point where I could cast Heroism, invigorating my allies with a thirst for battle. The gigantic insect called out for aid and its minions came from all directions, soon finding purchase for their flailing limbs in my mail-clad body. The hail came just a little harder as I died, the two warriors very low on health. Seeing no area spells in effect and realizing that the minions who were pounding on me would now have cleared aggro I hit my reincarnate and got back into the battle. The hail reached a blaring crescendo as I narrowly threw a critical heal on the main tank and kept them up long enough to lay the monster low. Yay! Really I just wanted to write about the hail.

I am getting a custom set of flags made at Santa Cruz Softgoods which will look like the image at the top of this post. One will be a small storm flag and the other will be an ensign flag for when I am out on the water. There is nothing I enjoy owning more than something that I have designed and there will be only one of in the world.

I went to Dickens Faire last weekend with Jordan. We had some wonderful hot drinks, some great blackberry cider, some absinthe and we listened to Charles Dickens read from “A Christmas Carol”. We met up with some people from the archery booth from Ren Faire and Jordan was introduced as the next up and coming archer. We also saw the “Naughty French Postcard” show which had people in their birthday suits posing in naughty poses. It was fun, and pleasantly surprising. We were sitting next to an elderly couple who were quite enjoying it. We also got some free end of faire food which is always nice. For being on a budget we did pretty well for the trip.

-Aaron

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Soup of the Line

Last weekend my friend VeLois came to visit. We went to the Lighted Boat Parade at the Santa Cruz Harbor. It was not a long walk. Before we made the trek to an event that was previously unknown to us, we managed to comfortably seat 10 people on the boat at the same time. After the light show we went to Mike and Jackie’s place for some drinks and games. The best thing to happen was watching Mark Dowdy battle with a freezer drawer:

It is now my 12 day living aboard officially. So far I have encountered very little in the way of problems.

The inside of the V berth gets a lot of condensation that then drips its icy manifestation back down on me. This only happens if I choose not to use the space heater, which I am not avoiding much anymore. I am beginning to think the flat fee for utilities for liveaboards had this specifically in mind.

The windsurfer that I used previously to enhance my internet signal ended up being too impractical for my situation. It required that I have the entire bridge set outside the boat which meant subjecting it to a bad amount of moisture. I would have to bring it inside at night and it made a mess of the wiring situation. I did some research and went to Santa Cruz Electronics on a lark. To my surprise they had the pigtail, the outdoor high gain antenna and the adapter to connect it all up. Now the router and bridge are all neatly tucked away and the internet works great!

I am having Captain Joe come aboard tomorrow and take a look at everything. He likes to do that before giving lessons I gather. I will try to be prepared with my laundry list of questions.

Also, the folks at NextSpace have decided that we should start the recession a little early. We shall henceforth follow each statement with the phrase, “in these troubled economic times”. Also, if the subject of food comes up, we will be going to the “soup line”. All joking aside, as an unintended positive effect of my new house is that I am probably better set to deal with a true recession than most. The self-sufficient nature and low economic demands could come in handy in the coming storm.

In other news, my new mailing address is 101 Cooper St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060.

-Aaron

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Wind Surfing

When I had my internet installed by StageCoach Wireless it took a while to have it installed, and when I finally got it the connection was a bit flaky to put it mildly. I was convinced that this was due to a poor signal between the wireless bridge and the wireless towers around the harbor. I started looking online for high power antennas that I could mount on my boat and they were running about $100 or so and there were some cabling specs that I was unfamiliar with. Did a little more research and found out about the WindSurfer antenna. I printed it out, found some tin foil, glue, scissors and plopped that bad boy on there:

Now I can play WoW and watch streaming movies without problems. This alleviates one of the last fears I had about this transition and it cost me nothing.

I am researching the best way to learn about sailing. There are certification courses I can take which run about $1200 for four classes and the certification (which is only required for chartering people for money). The other way to go is someone will come aboard my boat and go with me and teach me 1-on-1 and answer all of my questions directly. The second option would be much, much cheaper and I think that is the way to go. My friends at Pacific Yachts are going to call back with their best recommendation today and I’ll schedule a class for next week. All of you out there who are worried about me because I bought the boat before I knew how to sail will soon be able to rest easy. Also, if you were one of those people … seriously, that was the least of my worries; you baffle me.

I am now working at NextSpace which is a co-op office space for people who are either independent contractors, working remotely and need an office or have a very small business of their own. It’s really great! I get to work with Jeff Fredrick again and everything seems to be working out great. NextSpace is full of great people that I get to meet and interact with. The networking possibilities are endless! On top of that, NextSpace provides things like a copy machine/printer/fax, they will deliver and receive mail for you and every Wednesday I can bring in my laundry and it will be picked up and dropped off the next day cleaned and folded. The laundry and mail parts of the deal would have been the two top hassles of living aboard and they are magically taken care of now. It is like these things go together, the proverbial yin-yang.

Thanksgiving has passed. Much food was consumed. Christmas is coming up. Around this time, gifts are bought to be later given. I would like to stress at this point that although I think gifts are a wonderful idea and the thought that the friends and family that I care so dearly would want to get me things, I would ask that these gifts be purchased with consideration for my unique situation. I do not need more clothes, nick-knacks, kitchen appliances, large house plants or bronze statues of Voltron. Randall gave me a great sea fishing reel and my dad gave me two sea hand-made fishing rods and another reel. My mom gave me a rice cooker. Ben gave me a space heater. This pretty much covers everything I need and unless a need arises I really cannot conceivably find places to put anything else. With that in mind, great gifts for me are things I can eat, drink or spend. Cash and consumables folks, load me up with West Marine gift cards, rum balls and bottles of fine scotch and I will love you forever.

In other news, I am going to Dickens Faire on the 13th. Let me know if you want to go!

-Aaron