Sunday, September 29, 2013

Imagine Sailing Around the Word, Non-stop, and Solo

I just recently finished reading an interesting book, Race France to France, An American in the Vende Globe, Racing Solo, Non-Stop, Around the World.

Rich Wilson is a 58 year old American sailor who in 2008 entered the Vendee Globe yacht race. This race which starts and ends in France and  is one of the toughest physical challenges in the world. Over 5,000 people have climbed Mt. Everest, over 500 astronauts have been in space, but only 50 people have sailed around the world, solo, non-stop. He finished the race in 9th place after 121 days at sea having covered over 28,000 miles. On the second day of the race, while down below, a wave hit the boat, throwing him across the cabin. He suffered several broken ribs but managed to carry on!! Check out this youtube video.

If you think the above accomplishment is impressive, check out this page to see video of Dee Caffari. Dee was also in the race. She became the first woman to sail around the world solo, non-stop, in both directions.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tiburon Tour

Tiburon Library

Biography room in Library with fireplace

Tiburon Fire Department

"Coming About" Sculpture

Main Street

View From the Waterfront

View From the Waterfrount

USA Wins America's Cup

Imagine if you were down 8-1 in any sport. What are your chances of reaching 9 games before your opponent? I'm sure someone has already calculated the odds.

Oracle Team USA won 8 races in a row to win the America's Cup 9-8. I think it's great that the cup will stay in the USA and probably continued to be held in San Francisco.

It was an exciting series of races with these boats approaching speeds of 50 mph!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Marin, Home of the Ferrari and Prius

Marin, Home of the Ferrari and Prius

Tiburon is located just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, California. It has one of the highest per capita incomes (#26) in the nation.

A day doesn’t go by that I don’t see at least one Ferrari. It seems like every other car here is a Prius.

Tiburon started out as a railroad town. Lumber was shipped by train to Tiburon and then taken by boat across the bay to San Francisco. The original downtown along the waterfront is one block long.

The water front includes the yacht basin and yacht club, the ferry boat dock, and several interesting restaurants.The view across the bay to San Francisco is wonderful and ever changing.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Marin Farmers' Market

Marin Farmers’ Market

I’ve moved on from Paso Robles and arrived at Tiburon (Marin County) a couple of days ago.

It’s not often you can drive through a Frank Lloyd Wright designed building to reach a Farmer’s Market. The Marin Farmers’ Market is held each Sunday behind the Marin Civic Center which was designed by Wright.

This is the finest Farmers’ Market I’ve ever experienced. In addition to a variety of fruits and vegetables, there are vendors offering  fresh baked bread, artisan cheese, nuts, flowers, clothing, jewelry, wine, chocolate, farm fresh eggs, chicken, fish, beef, and lamb meat. A numbers of booths offer fresh cooked food such as crepes, waffles, rotisserie chicken, etc.

This is a must visit if you find yourself near San Rafael, California on a Sunday.
Marin Farmers’ Market
3501 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Where's Andrew Carnegie When We Need Him?

Where’s Andrew Carnegie When We Need Him?

If Jeff Bezos can spend $250 million for a newspaper, you would think some of the other rich men from Silicon Valley could donate money to support local libraries.

The advent of the Internet has put lots of pressure on libraries. Now people can download books on to their Kindles and other ebook readers from the comfort of home. The idea of a library is to give access to rich and poor to the literary works of the world. If free libraries disappear, only the rich will have access to literature.

Libraries are doing their best to adjust. Many are becoming more like community centers. Some libraries are offering films, lectures, book clubs, Internet, etc.

The good news is that most libraries now offer free downloads of regular books and audio books.

In Portland, many neighborhoods now have book boxes located in the neighborhood. These look like oversized birdhouses. There are no real rules. People leave books in the “book boxes” for anyone to help themselves.

Many libraries will issue a library card without demanding too much information. If you’re a traveler, it’s handy to have several different library cards because this gives you a greater selection of downloadable material.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Paso Robles Wineries

I’m no wine expert, but I know what I like. Paso Robles has over 180 wineries. You can visit the Paso Wine Alliance site for the history of this region and a list of the wineries and local wine events.

Paso is a great region for wine tasting. They produce primarily red wine including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. They also produce some lesser known varietals such as Viognier, AlbariƱo, Marsanne, and others.

Many tasting rooms in Paso have free tasting or tasting at very reasonable rates $5-$7.

I was fortunate to meet Ryan Cochrane of Ryan Cochrane Wines. Ryan actually makes wine in Paso Robles but buys his grapes further south in Santa Rita Hills and Santa Maria. He primarily makes Pinot Noir. He’s pretty much a one man band.

One of my favorite wineries is Daou Vineyards.

“Gracefully perched atop a stunning promontory at 2,200 feet, the DAOU Spanish Colonial style winery is embraced by a tangible serenity. Hawks wheel and bank while the all-day sun caresses close planted rows of lush, emerald green vines. The 100 percent calcareous soil makes no sound as it parses out nourishment and only a gentle breeze flows up through the Templeton Gap from the Pacific. The quiet is bewitching; you want to lay down roots here, just as the seven-year-old vines have done. But the sense of peace belies the serious industry at work on this 212 acre estate. No effort is spared to create the luscious varietals and blends that flow from this limited production winery.”

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Computing on the Road

Apple just finished their introduction of the iPhone 5C and 5S. They also introduced their new mobile operating system, IOS 7. 

I was a Windows user for many years. My first PC was actually an Atari ST. It was what I called “a poor man’s Mac.” There was a program called Publishing Partner (later renamed Pagestream) which was my first introduction to Desktop Publishing. I was fascinated with the sudden ability to combine text and graphics with complex page layouts. The Pagestream program is still available today.

Later, I became a big fan of Adobe’s PageMaker which was eventually replaced by InDesign.

I switched to Mac about the time that Windows 7 came out. Windows 7 was causing all kinds of issues with my computer. My first Apple computer was (and is) a 24” iMac. I started on road with the RV soon after I switched to Apple. The first year I took the iMac on the road with me. It wasn’t  long before I acquired a Macbook Pro, an iPad2, and an iPhone.

I have a Verizon 890L 4G, LTE Jetpack for internet access on the road. I think this is the third or fourth generation of this device which I’ve owned. I’ve traveled considerably around the States and generally found good coverage.

I use my computers for email, surfin’ the net, Skype, and arranging and editing photos. Probably my favorite past time with computers is downloading and listening to Podcasts. I like to take regular walks and it’s so great to be able to listen to a variety of programs which include, This Week in Tech (TWIT); Ted Talks; Grape Radio; The Moth; London School of Economics: Public Lectures; Econ Talk; Freakonomics Radio; Commonwealth Club Radio Program, and C-Span's After Words.

I’m constantly amazed at the variety of things available on the Net. I recently watched many of the sessions of the US Open Tennis tournament. I also got hooked on Netflix’s “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.”

I’m kind of old school when it comes to books but I do have a couple of Kindles and sometimes I download books to my iPad.

I really enjoy a number of college courses available on-line. Check out Open Yale Courses especially, Roman Architecture with Prof. Diana Kleiner, The American Revolution with Prof. Joanne Freeman, and Listening to Music with Prof. Craig Wright.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Do You Like to Doodle?

“The Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns.Almost anyone can use it to create beautiful images. It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well being. The Zentangle Method is enjoyed all over this world across a wide range of skills, interests and ages.We believe that life is an art form and that our Zentangle Method is an elegant metaphor for deliberate artistry in life.We invite you to explore our web site and learn more about this wonderful and uplifting method and art form.”

Do you like to doodle? If so, you might want to take it to the next level. This is a great hobby for vagabonds and RV travelers. All it requires is a pen and paper. “Official” Zentangles are drawn with a Sakura pen on small 3.5” x 3.5” pieces of card stock. I found these too small for my taste. I create 6” x 6” cards from Strathmore, Bristol smooth surface, 300 series 100 lb. (270 g/m2) art paper. These supplies are easily  found online and at most Michael’s art stores.

Zentangling has a certain meditative aspect (hence the name). It's the kind of thing you can do while your watching TV, etc. (sort of akin to knitting) even though if requires no special skill. The Zentangle website has a bunch of patterns you can start with and you can gradually create your own. First a re a few more examples of my work.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Optical Zoom Photography

I’ve been around cameras for many years. I use to own a Rolleiflex double-lens reflex and I also had a darkroom. How times have changed. I also owned one of the first digital cameras, a Mavica from Sony (mid-1998). This early digital camera could store a 0.9 MB photo on a floppy dish. The price, around $1,000.

Flash forward to 2013. This year I purchased a Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
DX HS. This is around the 3rd or 4th generation of the Canon PowerShot which I’ve owned. Imagine having a camera with 50X optical zoom with amazing image stabilization!

The vast majority of photos taken these days are from smart phones. The big advantage is their small size and the fact that we always have them in our pocket. I prefer a “real” camera. I’ve read many of the reviews of the SX50 on Amazon. I’m amazed at how many digital DSL owners have raved about this camera. Out of 450 reviews the results were 4.5 out of 5 stars. This excellent camera is currently available at Amazon for $369.00 with free shipping.

Look at the small white spot near the center of the first photo. This is a clock face on top of a building about a block away.

Now check out the second photo. It was taken from the exact spot as the first but using the maximum zoom on the SX50! I hand held the camera.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fountain Pen Mania

I have a confession to make. I collect fountain pens. Most of the younger generation (and some of the oldsters) don’t have the foggiest idea what a fountain pen is all about.

Most folks think a fountain pen is something from Mont Blanc which is sold in upscale luxury stores for hundreds to thousands of dollars.

The fact of the matter is that fountain pens can be purchased for as little as $3.00. Pilot Varsity makes a disposable fountain pen that many people feel writes as well as a much more expensive pen. There are even YouTube videos showing you how to refill these disposable pens.

I have pens made primarily in Germany, Japan, India, Taiwan, and China. I do own two vintage Mont Blanc pens made in the 1970’s. One I’ve owned for over thirty years and the other was purchased recently.

A good starter pen is the LAMY Safari. These pens come in a number of colors and run around $25-30.

Another great starter pen is the Diamond 580 from TWISBI. This pen runs around $50.

If you’re going to spring for a fountain pen, you might as well get some quality paper. I recommend Clairefontaine. This is a French company that has been making paper since the 1858. It’s the perfect paper for a fountain pen.

Last, but far from least, you’re going to need ink. You can buy it by the bottle. I recommend Noodler’s Heart of Darkness. This is a very black ink which bonds to the paper and is literally forgery proof.

All of these items are available at Goulet Pens

Want to learn more about fountain pens, check out the Fountain Pen Network.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What's Happening to the Dewey Decimal System?

Imagine my shock when I walked into my local library (Surprise, AZ) to discover that they had done away with the Dewey Decimal Classification System!!

They are using BISAC which is the system used in bookstore. Now books are arranged under, History, Sports, Cooking, etc. A biography of Christopher Columbus is now located under HISTORY EXPLORE instead of biography. Stephen Ambrose’s “Undaunted Courage”, which used to be under 917.804 is now also under HISTORY EXPLORE.

Follow the this link for more information.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Paso Car Show

Paso Robles held their annual classic car show Saturday. The most interesting vehicle was this 1965 VW Camper towing a VW trailer.

The other interesting entry was this 1958 Porche Speedster. The owner told me that he had owned it for 50 years and it's valued between $300K-400K!!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Little History

I live near Phoenix. I bought a home there in 2009. I realized at the time that I would want to get away in the summer. I proceeded to buy a used Class B RV to test the RVing weather. My first summer away I made it all the way to Portland, OR.

In March of 2010, I bought a 25’ Class C RV. That summer, I headed west again. I went north to Portland and then turned East. I spent the next 18 months touring  the US. 

I have found in the last couple of summers that I prefer to stay in one area for at least a month to get a feel for an area. I’ve also discovered that I’m a city kid. I seldom doondock and prefer being close to a reasonable size town as opposed to being out in the country.

I have also discovered that for a single person with no pets, it’s quite easy to rent a room via Craig’s List. I have a toad so that makes it easy to store the RV and rent a room when the proper occasion arises.

I have been renting a room in Paso Robles, CA for the past two months. I plan to make some future blog posts about Paso.

I enjoy following popular RV blogs: “Me and My Dog and My RV”; “Tioga George” (who just started bloging again); “Travels with Kevin and Ruth”; and many others.