Dawn Patrol – Part 3 (last part)

Columbus Day Morning Surf 5x7 Oil

Image courtesy of Joe Mancuso at Mancuso Fine Art (on the web at http://www.mancusofineart.com/)

Sunrise

The sunrise today was about 6:42am. They were parked at 6:35. He reached over and slapped Marco on the face. It was rude but he earned it by sleeping all the way over. The Professor would make sure he collected for gas today. He stepped out of the car and stretched.

It was still dark on the beach but a faint light could be seen emerging to the east. There was a lonely quality to this beach. The crew seldom saw anyone else surfing here. Occasionally, depending on the weather, a family or two might park and walk on the beach. For the most part they would see drifters from HMB begging for food or money.

He walked up to the top of his favorite dune and sat down on the cold sand to listen. He always listened first; he liked to arrive before it got light enough to check out the conditions. The elephant seals that hung out between the billabong and the surf to the south were barking with the break of day. He could hear the pups and the females, but no Big Neck. That meant he was probably cruising the lineup. They would have to walk past this herd if the waves he anticipated actually happened. This time of year the sand tended to build up a bar just around the cliff corner. The sets could be awesome if conditions played along. Nice peaks that meant goofys and regulars could have plenty of choice.

He could hear the closeouts hitting the beach right in front of the parking lot. Just before the crash there was brief moment of something. He didn’t know what to call it. It wasn’t a sound. More like the absence of sound and… a feeling. He could tell that the closeouts were about 30 to 40 yards offshore. This meant it was running about 4 to 6 feet in wave height. He counted about 6 waves to that set and he was pretty sure he missed a couple of the first ones. In about 7 minutes he would hear another set.

The air was wet and a fog still clung to the ground but it didn’t feel very thick. He could taste the salt and the rotting kelp bulbs on the air. This meant that there was little to no wind. The wind would likely stay this way for an hour or two around the sunrise, and then turn offshore for a couple of hours. Once the sun really got up, around 11 or so the wind would start to turn onshore. You could still surf for a while but once it fully turned your session at an exposed beach like this was done. He hoped that the onshore would happen late today.

It was getting light enough that he could start to pick out detail at the surf line. He heard another car pull up. That would be Todd and Dave. He could now see the dirty looking foam on the beach out in front of the dune. In a few more minutes he was able to make out the sets as a wave reached its breaking point and the lipped pitched over. It was going to be good, he could feel it.

He jumped up and walked back to the car to greet Todd and Dave. Both somewhat hungover, they were at least reliable enough to get there on time. “It sounds like about 7 or 8 minutes between sets and probably a solid four or five feet” he told them, “let’s hit it!”

They suited up in the parking lot, grabbed their sticks and a towel, locked the car and started the walk. They had to trudge through the northern end of the crusty billabong to get all the way to the beach but having booties on keep the nastiness to a minimum. It was now light enough to decide how to get around Big Necks harem. It was usually safest to not cross their path directly. They stayed high on the beach and went around in single file. Everyone walked a bit faster once they were past to make sure they didn’t get chased. That done, it was another six or seven minutes to walk around the cliff corner and there is was.

The sandbar was working this morning. Total glass peaks, protected from the cliffs when the wind started to shift later in the morning, were peeling off one after another. He called it right again.

He pulled his wetsuit top on all the way, zipped up and then roughed up the wax on the deck of his board with a handful of sand. He was going to have to strip this old shit off pretty soon. One quick look around to see if Big Neck was cruising and it was time.

Waiting for a break in the sets, he saw the last wave in the set rolling through start to break and then sprinted down the beach, launched his board ahead of him and landed perfectly in a prone paddling position. Stroking hard, he wanted to get to the line up before the next set started. If you were in the wrong place in front of this peak you could get a thick lip tossed on your head and get pummeled. That would set you back another 20 yards and you’d have to struggle through another set just to get to the lineup.

He was almost there when the next set showed up. He could see lines ahead and estimated there were 4 or 5 waves in this one. He thought about trying to snag maybe the last wave in this set but decided against it. He wanted to watch the set come through and get his line up set. His usual indicators were the large crack just off the corner of the cliff and the big rock to the south. When he triangulated just right he was almost always in position for a deep takeoff at the peak and going left. He was a goofy and while he enjoyed surfing backside, it wasn’t very often he could surf frontside almost exclusively.

Paddling over the last wave in that set, he sat up, shook out his hair and looked around. Dave was a regular foot and was setting up about 15 or 20 yards south of him. He would be riding solo on most of the rights today. Todd and Marco paddled up next to him. They were both goofy like him.

“This if fucking awesome” said Marco. “You called it again, professor. I didn’t believe you last night but I didn’t have another ride, so…”.

He smiled, laughed along with the jab and then turned to look outside. Lines for the next set were just starting to take shape and it looked like it would be a big one.

They started paddling outside to make sure they didn’t get caught inside and as they got into position, Todd turned around and made an effortless no paddle take off on the 2nd wave. They watched and saw the spray as he snap-hooked a turn off the lip. Working hard to get in position, he let Marco take the next wave. He didn’t turn to watch this time. He judged that the next to last wave in the set would be the largest and started getting into the right spot.

At last, his first ride of the day was here. He could see the peak forming, judged that he should get a bit more outside and a bit south, then it was time to turn around. He sat up scanned left and right quickly and thought he was in just about perfect position. He shoved his stick down to get the extra push from the flotation, stroked 3 times extra hard and he knew he had it.

Late drops were his specialty, and often he took off too deep and, well, there wasn’t much choice except to surrender and take the punishment that came from going over the falls. Sometimes, he could avoid that and still get crushed when the nose of his board couldn’t get down the face without digging in. They called it pearling. It was about the worst kind of wipeout. You were full speed into the takeoff and would hit flat water face first and then get fully dumped on by the wave you were trying to ride.

This one would be close. He was definitely deep but thought he could make it. Pushing off, he quickly transitioned to his feet, pushing the nose of his board down as he did. If he didn’t get moving down the face quickly this would end poorly.

It was a perfect late take off. A slight free fall and then his inner rail connected, the fins started to grab and he was off.

He always loved the older surf movies. Watching guys take off and really put soul into their ride. Big bottom turns, sweeping cutbacks, stalling just right before a section that would hollow out and then speeding up to make it out of the barrel, all while making it look effortless. That’s how he wanted to surf.

This wave presented a sweet chance to do just that.

Making slight adjustment to his stance, he made the shift from the steep drop and slid out onto the flat in front of the lip. Just before it looked like he would get hit by the lip tossing out, he straighten up, arched his back and leaned into a sweeping bottom turn. In his mind he saw Gerry Lopez fearlessly turning in front of a monster lip at Pipe.

He held the soul arch until the last moment. The peak was setting up for a perfect barrel. He kept his line moving up the face until the last second then snapped a stalling turn, leaned forward, put his hands behind his back and let the lip throw out over his head.

This was the magic place. Nothing like anywhere else on the planet. Time slowed down, the air pressure changed. When it happened right, you sort of got tunnel vision.

He kept his stall up long enough to get fully into the barrel. Todd and Marco were both paddling back out and were in a perfect spot to see his ride. He timed his release of the stall perfectly and for a moment time was frozen. The grey green water was glassy smooth. He could see the underside of the lip from inside the barrel as it raced ahead of him. Because of the position of this spot with respect to the rising sun, it looked light the entire tube was lit up from behind him.

He could hear the hoots from his crew while he got as deep as he could.

Time to catch up. He pressed his front foot down a bit and started to speed up so he could make it out. Just before he ducked out from under the lip he threw a smile and a peace sign at Todd and Marco.

Shooting out with the spit from the pit of the barrel, he stretched out and jetted in front of the section. Just before he started to slow down he leaned into a sweeping cutback and threw a big spray onto his friends. Coming out of the cutback, he released into the whitewater left from the closing barrel and came off the top to turn 180 degrees and ride out the last bit of the shoulder.

Kicking out, he effortlessly laid back down on his board out so he could paddle back out. His grin was ear to ear, smiling so hard it hurt. His friends were clapping. The sun was rising. They were the only ones there and probably would be all day. It was the start to a perfect day, one which he would keep all of the mental images from and think back on for many years.

As he paddled back out towards his crew to wait for the next set, he knew one thing was certain. He couldn’t wait for that alarm to go off again tomorrow.

Advertisements

Dawn Patrol – Part 3 (final part)

Columbus Day Morning Surf 5x7 Oil

Image courtesy of Joe Mancuso at Mancuso Fine Art (on the web at http://www.mancusofineart.com/)

Sunrise

The sunrise today was about 6:42am. They were parked at 6:35. He reached over and slapped Marco on the face. It was rude but he earned it by sleeping all the way over. The Professor would make sure he collected for gas today. He stepped out of the car and stretched.

It was still dark on the beach but a faint light could be seen emerging to the east. There was a lonely quality to this beach. The crew seldom saw anyone else surfing here. Occasionally, depending on the weather, a family or two might park and walk on the beach. For the most part they would see drifters from HMB begging for food or money.

He walked up to the top of his favorite dune and sat down on the cold sand to listen. He always listened first; he liked to arrive before it got light enough to check out the conditions. The elephant seals that hung out between the billabong and the surf to the south were barking with the break of day. He could hear the pups and the females, but no Big Neck. That meant he was probably cruising the lineup. They would have to walk past this herd if the waves he anticipated actually happened. This time of year the sand tended to build up a bar just around the cliff corner. The sets could be awesome if conditions played along. Nice peaks that meant goofys and regulars could have plenty of choice.

He could hear the closeouts hitting the beach right in front of the parking lot. Just before the crash there was brief moment of something. He didn’t know what to call it. It wasn’t a sound. More like the absence of sound and… a feeling. He could tell that the closeouts were about 50 to 60 yards offshore. This meant it was running about 4 to 6 feet in wave height. He counted about 6 waves to that set and he was pretty sure he missed a couple of the first ones. In about 7 minutes he would hear another set.

The air was wet and a fog still clung to the ground but it didn’t feel very thick. He could taste the salt and the rotting kelp bulbs on the air. This meant that there was little to no wind. The wind would likely stay this way for an hour or two around the sunrise, and then turn offshore for a couple of hours. Once the sun really got up, around 11 or so the wind would start to turn onshore. You could still surf for a while but once it fully turned your session at an exposed beach like this was done. He hoped that the onshore would happen late today.

It was getting light enough that he could start to pick out detail at the surf line. He heard another car pull up. That would be Todd and Dave. He could now see the dirty looking foam on the beach out in front of the dune. In a few more minutes he was able to make out the sets as a wave reached its breaking point and the lipped pitched over. It was going to be good, he could feel it.

He jumped up and walked back to the car to greet Todd and Dave. Both somewhat hungover, they were at least reliable enough to get there on time. “It sounds like about 7 or 8 minutes between sets and probably a solid four or five feet” he told them, “let’s hit it!”

They suited up in the parking lot, grabbed their sticks and a towel, locked the car and started the walk. They had to trudge through the northern end of the crusty billabong to get all the way to the beach but having booties on keep the nastiness to a minimum. It was now light enough to decide how to get around Big Necks harem. It was usually safest to not cross their path directly. They stayed high on the beach and went around in single file. Everyone walked a bit faster once they were past to make sure they didn’t get chased. That done, it was another six or seven minutes to walk around the cliff corner and there is was.

The sandbar was working this morning. Total glass peaks, protected from the cliffs when the wind started to shift later in the morning, were peeling off one after another. He called it right again.

He pulled his wetsuit top on all the way, zipped up and then roughed up the wax on the deck of his board with a handful of sand. He was going to have to strip this old shit off pretty soon. One quick look around to see if Big Neck was cruising and it was time.

Waiting for a break in the sets, he saw the last wave in the set rolling through start to break and then sprinted down the beach, launched his board ahead of him and landed perfectly in a prone paddling position. Stroking hard, he wanted to get to the line up before the next set started. If you were in the wrong place in front of this peak you could get a thick lip tossed on your head and get pummeled. That would set you back another 20 yards and you’d have to struggle through another set just to get to the lineup.

He was almost there when the next set showed up. He could see lines ahead and estimated there were 4 or 5 waves in this one. He thought about trying to snag maybe the last wave in this set but decided against it. He wanted to watch the set come through and get his line up set. His usual indicators were the large crack just off the corner of the cliff and the big rock to the south. When he triangulated just right he was almost always in position for a deep takeoff at the peak and going left. He was a goofy and while he enjoyed surfing backside, it wasn’t very often he could surf frontside almost exclusively.

Paddling over the last wave in that set, he sat up, shook out his hair and looked around. Dave was a regular foot and was setting up about 15 or 20 yards south of him. He would be riding solo on most of the rights today. Todd and Marco paddled up next to him. They were both goofy like him.

“This if fucking awesome” said Marco. “You called it again, professor. I didn’t believe you last night but I didn’t have another ride, so…”.

He smiled, laughed along with the jab and then turned to look outside. Lines for the next set were just starting to take shape and it looked like it would be a big one.

They started paddling outside to make sure they didn’t get caught inside and as they got into position, Todd turned around and made an effortless no paddle take off on the 2nd wave. They watched and saw the spray as he snap-hooked a turn off the lip. Working hard to get in position, he let Marco take the next wave. He didn’t turn to watch this time. He judged that the next to last wave in the set would be the largest and started getting into the right spot.

At last, his first ride of the day was here. He could see the peak forming, judged that he should get a bit more outside and a bit south, then it was time to turn around. He sat up scanned left and right quickly and thought he was in just about perfect position. He shoved his stick down to get the extra push from the flotation, stroked 3 times extra hard and he knew he had it.

Late drops were his specialty, and often he took off too deep and, well, there wasn’t much choice except to surrender and take the punishment that came from going over the falls. Sometimes, he could avoid that and still get crushed when the nose of his board couldn’t get down the face without digging in. They called it pearling. It was about the worst kind of wipeout. You were full speed into the takeoff and would hit flat water face first and then get fully dumped on by the wave you were trying to ride.

This one would be close. He was definitely deep but thought he could make it. Pushing off, he quickly transitioned to his feet, pushing the nose of his board down as he did. If he didn’t get moving down the face quickly this would end poorly.

It was a perfect late take off. A slight free fall and then his inner rail connected, the fins started to grab and he was off.

He always loved the older surf movies. Watching guys take off and really put soul into their ride. Big bottom turns, sweeping cutbacks, stalling just right before a section that would hollow out and then speeding up to make it out of the barrel, all while making it look effortless. That’s how he wanted to surf.

This wave presented a sweet chance to do just that.

Making slight adjustment to his stance, he made the shift from the steep drop and slid out onto the flat in front of the lip. Just before it looked like he would get hit by the lip tossing out, he straighten up, arched his back and leaned into a sweeping bottom turn. In his mind he saw Gerry Lopez fearlessly turning in front of a monster lip at Pipe.

He held the soul arch until the last moment. The peak was setting up for a perfect barrel. He kept his line moving up the face until the last second then snapped a stalling turn, leaned forward, put his hands behind his back and let the lip throw out over his head.

This was the magic place. Nothing like it anywhere else on the planet. Time slowed down, the air pressure changed. When it happened right, you sort of got tunnel vision.

He kept his stall up long enough to get fully into the barrel. Todd and Marco were both paddling back out and were in a perfect spot to see his ride. He timed his release of the stall perfectly and for a moment time was frozen. The grey green water was glassy smooth. He could see the underside of the lip from inside the barrel as it raced ahead of him. Because of the position of this spot with respect to the rising sun, it looked light the entire tube was lit up from behind him.

He could hear the hoots from his crew while he got as deep as he could.

Time to catch up. He pressed his front foot down a bit and started to speed up so he could make it out. Just before he ducked out from under the lip he threw a smile and a peace sign at Todd and Marco.

Shooting out with the spit from the pit of the barrel, he stretched out and jetted in front of the section. Just before he started to slow down he leaned into a sweeping cutback and threw a big spray onto his friends. Coming out of the cutback, he released into the whitewater left from the closing barrel and came off the top to turn 180 degrees and ride out the last bit of the shoulder.

Kicking out, he effortlessly laid back down on his board out so he could paddle back out. His grin was ear to ear, smiling so hard it hurt. His friends were clapping. The sun was rising. They were the only ones there and probably would be all day. It was the start to a perfect day, one which he would keep all of the mental images from and think back on for many years.

As he paddled back out towards his crew to wait for the next set, he knew one thing was certain. He couldn’t wait for that alarm to go off again tomorrow.

The joy of writing… or loving what you do regardless of results.

ArtistTimeline

So, I am sitting on my patio on Saturday, laptop in hand and the flow is happening.

This year I made a commitment to write. I started this blog.  Committed to writing a short story before the end of the first quarter. Well, the blog is getting posts pretty regularly,  finding it’s place and voice and I finished the story. Two parts have been posted here and the final part goes up on Tuesday next week. A good friend with a degree in literature is editing for me as well providing valuable feedback to help me develop as a writer. It feels good to have done something I set out to do.

I am excited enough that I have an idea for a series of novels loosely based on the character in my short story. I wrote out the idea, developed the concept and location, it can be something that will provide a significant outlet to develop my art.

So, back to Saturday on my patio. I am writing, trying to let my mind go, put myself into the character and draft an opening chapter to the first book. I am in the zone and I can feel it. Everything is flowing and there are no distractions. I am in the moment, fully present and that does not come often for me.

I am about 2500 words in when I notice that as I am typing there are no more words appearing on the screen. My computer (which is new by the way) has frozen.

Try as I might, and I am pretty experienced with computers, I cannot bring it back. I think about the last time I pressed the save icon and can’t recall where I was in the flow.

A restart and recovery effort doesn’t help. I load the last saved version and most of my 2500+ words are gone. Well, I get pissed, angry and feel cheated.

I try to relocate to a park and recapture what I had going but it’s not the same. It produces some good work but it just doesn’t feel the same. I leave writing behind for the day and watch some NCAA Elite Eight.

This morning I wake up, start some coffee, start to think about the day and the first thing I think about is writing.

When I was in that moment yesterday, I was free. None of the other things in life had the weight that they normally bring with them.

That’s when it hits me. The joy of writing. I have found something that I always had but didn’t exercise. A muscle that is starting to have blood flow through it again. It feels good to feel good.

So, regardless of what your art or work is, get into it. Let it take you to a place that nothing else can. When you do, you will produce awesome, authentic  and real results.

Even if you lose some of what you create, you’ll be better off.

IsLifeGood_Flowchart

Revival of technology to measure inverse reactive current in unilateral phase detractors

I am am excited to help bring revolution to what was once a crudely conceived idea of a machine that would not only supply inverse reactive current for use in unilateral phase detractors, but would also be capable of automatically synchronizing cardinal grammeters.

I am, of course, talking about the Turbo Encabulator.

This incredible machine has received attention and development activity from a number high quality US companies including GE and Rockwell Automation. Over the years continuing development has been occurring to bring this technology to perfection.

Basically, think back to your high school science days, The Turbo Encabulator is based on the principle of power generation by the modial interaction of magnetoreluctance and capacitive directance. This negates the relative motion of conventional conductors and fluxes.

With technology that includes antigravic marzelvanes, ambifacient wane shafts, panandermic semi-boloid stator slots and 47 manestically spaced grouting brushes all encased in prefabulated Amulite and surmounted by a malleable logarithmic casing, this machine will revolutionize the automation industry. It is currently being tested in Nofer Trunion applications with expectations to expand into applications involving barescent skor motion by applying a reciprocating dingle arm thus reducing sinusoidal depleneration.

Really exciting stuff, big time changes coming in the world of automation. I hope you are as excited as I am.

You can find the GE datasheet for the Turbo Encabulator here.

This YouTube video documents Rockwell’s work in the 70’s. Their working revision was renamed Retro Encabulator.

Dawn patrol – part 2

Columbus Day Morning Surf 5x7 Oil

Image courtesy of Joe Mancuso at Mancuso Fine Art (on the web at http://www.mancusofineart.com/)

On the Road

While he forgot to get gas last night, he didn’t forget to pack food for the day. He would need fuel and he didn’t want to leave the beach to get it. He also didn’t want to cut a session short if it was pumping, just to eat. He grabbed the 3 sandwiches from the fridge, a full size bag of chips from the cabinet, 2 bananas, an orange and an apple from the fruit basket on the counter, put all of it in a paper grocery store bag and that was done. Wait, he needed water, which was another thing he would have to spend for at the 24 hour stop when he got gas. Again, twice the price than if he would have bought it at the grocery or the drug store. He filled a glass from the sink and chugged it, did it again, then one more time and he started to feel like he was getting hydrated. Once more to be sure and then it was time to load up the car.

He loaded his wetsuit and food into the mini trunk on his 1972 primer grey Honda Civic CVCC and strapped his board on the roof rack. Todd and Dave had to drive separately because the Honda, with its little 4 cylinder engine, really couldn’t handle a full load of 4 guys and all of the gear anymore. The poor little thing would top out at about 30 miles an hour, in the Low-1 gear, trying to get over the summit on Highway 17 with more than 2 guys in it. That could be embarrassing. The car had some miles on it and they were almost all from his surf adventures. He inherited it from his mom when she bought her new one. That was just a couple of years ago and he hoped the car would last long enough for him to save up for something to replace it.

Marco lived in a gated community on the North Western edge of Los Gatos. He had to hit the 24 hour gas place in Saratoga which took him out of his way from Campbell but at this time of the morning he could speed a bit and there was no one on the road. He had $12 for the day, at least until he got to work and he could take a draw against his paycheck from the cash drawer. Just one of the bennies he got working at the gas station. Given his time pumping gas (he called himself a “Petroleum Transfer Agent”), he was skilled at hitting the number he wanted, in this case $9, exactly. He went inside to get grab a couple of waters, got the $0.62 change from the attendant and bolted.

Back in the car and headed to grab Marco, the thought occurred to him that Hector might be manning the guard booth at Rinconada. That was good for a laugh. Hector was a guy that was fully committed to his role as a security guard. Total military buzz cut. He had the full on utility belt of a Los Gatos PD officer (sans gun of course). He wore it with pride. We all thought his dream was to become an LGPD officer. He was just too serious for us. Whenever the opportunity seemed ripe, the crew would find ways to mess with Hector. Whenever he was on duty and the crew was hanging in the community, which they did to use the pool and spa and sit on the hillside killing 12 packs of Coor’s, we tried to come up with creative ways to mess with the guy. Hector hated us. We all had long hair, made surfing our one and only commitment in life and really didn’t care about much else.

He knew it was the crew that was messing with him. He had to be careful though. If a resident, like Marco’ mom were to complain about him it could hurt his chances applying to the LGPD and we knew it. As a result, the harassment was all good natured. We didn’t want to kill his chance to achieve his dream. He made it tough on any of the crew trying to drive into the community when he was on guard duty. We generally ignored him when he tried to flex his authority. It was a Yin-Yang thing.

No Hector this morning. It was the old guy who mostly slept through his graveyard shifts. He was making Z’s in the guard booth. Drifting through the stop by the guard shack, he looped around the traffic circle, past the club house and traced his way along Casitas Bulevar to the house where Marco lived with his mom and her boyfriend.

Marco’ bedroom window faced the court yard of the house and he knocked on it lightly. It was dark, no evidence of movement. “God Dammit Marco!” he quietly whispered to himself. Marco was cheating. Getting those final few minutes of sleep until he showed up instead of being ready to go like they discussed. It was always the same. He would act pissed, Marco would say he was sorry and they would be off and running in a few minutes. In his mind he felt like he deserved better. He was the one actually committing to driving, he got up with the fucking shitty alarm by his head. A little bit of respect was called for. Even with the delay to get gas and water he was only 2 or 3 minutes late and this fucker was taking advantage. Maybe next time he wouldn’t offer the ride, or maybe he would sleep in and say fuck it, no surf today. He knew that wouldn’t happen though. These morning dawn patrols were his favorite thing in the world and a brother was a brother. He wouldn’t want to surf without his friends. Of course he would surf alone when he had to, but it was always better with the crew. No one would believe that barrel ride if you were by yourself.

Marco moved the curtain aside and gave him that “are you fucking kidding me” look that showed the wear and tear from the previous night. Marco and the Professor could drink. They were always trying to outdo each other and were probably beating the odds that neither had been in serious trouble as a result. The difference for him was that he knew how to drink lots of water and take aspirin before passing out for the few hours of sleep he would get. As a result he tended to have a fairly soft landing getting back into the waking world.

After what seemed like an eternity but was only about 10 minutes, Marco appeared at the front door with his gear. He grabbed Marco’ board and told him to throw his stuff in the trunk he had left open.

Officially back on the road and no stopping until they got to the beach, he get out of Rinconada, ran up Quito and Lawrence Expressway to Highway 280 and started pressing north. He figured it saved them about 10 to 15 minutes going 280 to 92/35 into Half Moon Bay, then connecting with the coast highway than if they went through town from Highway 17. This way it was all highway until they dropped onto Highway 35 towards HMB and turned south on Highway 1. They were heading to one of the beach breaks north of town they like to hit to avoid the crowded lineups. Plus, it was kind of hairy. Giant Elephant seals were common sights on the beach and in the water. There was one absolutely huge bull we called “Big Neck” that was truly scary. He had a harem of about 30 females and pups all over the beach every year. Knowing that the pups were the favorite food of Great White sharks that frequented this part of the red triangle kept the crowds down in the lineup. He had never seen a fin that didn’t belong to a dolphin out there but that didn’t mean the men in grey suits weren’t hanging around looking for a tasty fat baby elephant seal. If the shark books were right, you would never see it coming anyway. Truth be told, he was more afraid of the seals anyway. Big Neck looked like he could take your leg all the way up the thigh in his mouth without even trying. On more than one occasion he would make very shallow, high speed passes under us in the lineup and it would chill the Professors bones when it happened. He would go prone and lift his hand and feet out of the water until he either had to paddle or would see Big Neck pop up outside. The crew often teased him for this.

The drive on 280 was about 35 minutes and Marco snored the whole way. Still cheating… motherfucker….

He took the 92 exit and looped over 280 and started the trip through the redwoods and Bay trees towards the coast. Another 20 minutes and they were cruising through Half Moon Bay and turning south on Highway 1. Another 10 or 11 miles and he was pulling into the parking lot at San Gregorio State Beach. Time to wake Marco.

That’s part 2. Final entry, part 3 will be posted next week.

Fireplaces and spare the air days…or…punish homeowners who obey the law but want to sell or rent their home

FeetbytheFireplace

This is a regional interest story so please note that if you read my blog and are not in the San Francisco Bay Area. A link to the news article which provoked my interest is included in the post.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), which is the air pollution control agency created in 1955 by the California Legislature, manages air quality in the 9 counties surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area.

During the winter (November through the end of February) and on any days in which there is a weather condition that would cause poor air flow in the district (typically high pressure which forces air to collect in the air basin as it is defined) restrictions are placed on combustion of materials (including wood). Restrictions can be a limitation or an all out ban on actual days in which a spare the air day alert is issued.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not currently a home owner so I have no vested interest in what I am about to discuss in that regard but I am an avid outdoor cooking enthusiast. I am also a resident in one of the 9 counties regulated by the BAAQMD and I am in the residential real estate business. For these reasons this topic is very important to me.

Becoming a home owner in the SF Bay Area is a challenge. We are a high cost area and folks coming here from other areas are often shocked at what they can afford in a home compared to the area they left behind. Often these folks have sold a home to get here and obtaining anything comparable is just completely out of range financially.

Another aspect of California living (and it’s accentuated in the SF Bay Area) is the progressive perspective of the state and local governments. Regulatory decisions (this is my opinion) often neglect to consider the impact on individuals. Just because something is the right thing to do, doesn’t necessarily mean the implementation is correct.

A theme that has been fairly consistent in this regard is that a homeowner is a wealthy person and frequently targeted to absorb the cost associated with doing something good whether that be environmental, political, civil, etc. Homeowners are targeted to pay for municipal improvements through property tax increases. Investment property owners must adhere to rent restrictions, abuse of of the ADA by tenants, etc.

Please do not misunderstand me. I live in the real world. I know there are slumlords just like I know there are tenants who will take every chance possible to screw a landlord. Neither should happen. Just because someone has chosen to build their wealth using real estate as a vehicle does not mean they are unscrupulous, just like a person needing section 8 rental assistance doesn’t make them a deadbeat. If it weren’t for the property owner willing to accept the tenant that is in need of help that program wouldn’t work.

Now to my point. This article in the San Jose Mercury News is about the BAAQMD working to force the cost of eliminating or retrofitting wood burning fireplaces onto sellers and landlords as a point of sale or point of lease requirement. To me this feels like the slippery slope of progressive regulation. It started in 1955 with “it’s your air and you should be concerned about it” and has become hard line regulatory enforcement and elimination of choice. It doesn’t matter if you obey the law regarding days you cannot burn or are limited, you won’t get a choice if the BAAQMD is able to make this law. Oh, and guess what? Want to rent that house that has a wood burning fireplace that you bought as an investment with your hard earned money and that only barely breaks even right now but will pay off 10 years from now when you have paid down your mortgage, managed the property well in terms of maintenance, kept quality tenants in it, and made sure the rents are fair but at market value? Well you just might have to invest a few thousand dollars to retrofit or make that fireplace in operable just to place a tenant. That cost could represent a multiple year delay in your return on the investment.

Want to sell your home? It may cost you a few thousand dollars to so the same thing.

I am interested in anyone’s thoughts on this regardless of your position. I don’t think it’s the right way to address the problem (if we even have one based on the data from the article).

Thanks for reading.

Is this a crossroads.. or is it just me?

Sometimes things don’t go our way, we can’t see how it is going to get better and we question just what it is that we are doing.

Am I making it pursuing the art, passion, work that I am engaged in?

Is that my calling? Is this what my life is?

Am I doing something that I love (as many parables about fulfilling lives tell us)?

When your primitive voice starts creating doubt its time to take inventory of yourself. As human beings we all biologically strive for happiness and when we aren’t experiencing it, wonder what we are doing wrong.

Maybe you are not doing anything wrong. Maybe it’s just you.

Life is not a perfect journey. Sometimes you have to decide to love what you do and work through the uncertainty.

“Dawn Patrol”, a short story presented in parts – Part 1 (with initial disclaimer)

Disclaimer: I have been writing most of my life but have never published anything except technical articles or articles on business conditions. This short story represents my first venture into fiction writing that I have published, even if it is self published. This story is also being presented without any outside editing. In other words, it is my raw output and may not be the best in terms of grammatical adherence. I am pretty sure it is mostly free of spelling and conjugation errors (wow, that was a statement of commitment, wasn’t it?). When I have received the editorial input from those I trust I may post a link to the “finished” version. I made a commitment this year that I would produce a short story during the first quarter of the year and feel good that I have achieved that regardless of quality. I hope you enjoy and feel free to comment, I can take it.

Columbus Day Morning Surf 5x7 Oil

Image courtesy of Joe Mancuso at Mancuso Fine Art (on the web at http://www.mancusofineart.com/)

Dawn Patrol – Part 1

Waking up

Suspended between less than restful sleep that results from carrying on too much the night before and the beginnings of waking, he wasn’t really sure his alarm was going off. Eyes shut so tightly that trying to open them hurt, he was sure about one thing, this was going to suck.

If he didn’t promise Marco that he was going to pick him up by 5:15 there is no way he was going to try and get up. Todd and Dave were going to meet them at their favorite north coast beach and depending on the conditions were going to hit it, or drive south until they found what they were looking for.

With supreme effort he sat up and hit the kill switch on the alarm. Oh, God, that was nice.  The sweet sound of silence after that harsh, grinding buzz that came from his electric clock was almost euphoric. He hated that thing with a passion. It would never run down and stop because it was never wound, it had a plug instead. It had no battery that would die. In the end it was always there, always accurate, and he knew that it would wake him again tomorrow. Piece of shit…..

His gear was in the corner of his room like it always was. He really should rinse his wetsuit more often but, shit, he never seemed to leave enough time to do that and get to work on time after a session. He loved his stick, the wax was really dirty but that didn’t diminish how he saw it. Every time he walked by it, he stopped and grabbed the nose, tilted it so he could look down the rails and see the rocker, enough rocker that he could get into any wave and keep his turns and transitions smooth. It wasn’t flashy, that wasn’t his style. Plain white, with a small logo from the shaper right where his chest was when he paddled and the shaper’s name spelled out in elegant cursive script along the stringer on the underside. The 3 fins were a solid dark grey. He had ridden this board in everything from 2 foot mush beach break to double overhead reef rollers just north of the city. It always worked, always held the line (probably that soft pin tail) and when he needed speed to make a section, it delivered.

“Okay, time to get rolling, what do I need to do?” he thought to himself. Still in the early foggy moments of waking it was difficult to set an order to the events required to get out the door on time, not forget something crucial and be ready to drive. “Shit! I forgot to get gas last night!” this meant he had even less time to get out the door and he would have to make a detour because the only 24 hour station was out of his way. Not to mention they charged and extra $0.17 per gallon for the benefit.

He grabbed a fresh pair of board shorts, an extra t-shirt and added them to his board bag. Next, he threw in a towel. Then he stuffed his board in and pulled the string taught to close the bag. New undies, casual shorts and his favorite Peter Tosh concert t-shirt went on, he slipped his feet into the comfortable flops he wore everywhere, including that party last night. He grabbed his board and wetsuit then changed gears and moved into the kitchen.

His friends called him Professor. He didn’t really like it. It was all in good fun but it seemed to him that it also was a dig, a burn of sorts. He was blessed (or cursed, depending on your perspective) with a gifted mind. He could recall information at will. He didn’t have to try when it came to completing homework or taking tests in high school. Straight A’s with no effort didn’t buy street cred with this group or with any of the guys they chilled with over the hill. The only time it helped was when he made the right choice for waves.  Which spots to check first based on the weather, wind, swell and tide information. He almost always got it right. He knew when a dawn patrol was called for or if an afternoon session would be best. Should they hit the ghostly northern beach breaks or one of the hidden reef spots they knew along the way? Maybe a town session? Could be that conditions called for a trip down south. That time he called a midnight session at The Hook was almost legendary.

The night was crystal clear and the moon full. There was a perfect west swell running, no wind and the tide was trending from a fairly shallow low to a middle. There were 5 of them that night and they hit the water just before midnight. They rode full on for about three and a half hours and they were wiped. His arms were like wet noodles and paddling was pretty tough to keep up. The mental images from that night will last a life time. It was too dark to be able to see sets on the outside. They only way you knew they were coming was when they started to break. The phosphorous from the white water seemed to glow…a bright, greenish-blue and white. If they didn’t know the line up as well as they did, getting into position would have been near impossible.

As it was, you had to guess just how big the wave was and try to predict where to be in order to take off anywhere near the upper end of the reef. More than once someone got tossed over the falls or had a lip land on their head while trying to figure it out. But the rides….. It was like nothing he had ever experienced. Nothing has come close since. One of those once in a lifetime moments and you knew it. The water was oily dark. The full moon provided a reflection on the wave face that showed the line and section changes if you knew what to look for. Every time someone hit the lip as you were paddling back out you would see a fanning splash of glowing whitewater. Carving turns or cutbacks traced a smooth, flowing line on the dark face of the wave. The west swell had just a touch of north in it and the sets were lining up all the way into Privates Cove. He must have had a few dozen rides that he chose to kick out instead of continuing, because he wanted to limit his paddle back out to the point. Times like these, he didn’t mind the gift. He loved his crew and wanted to do good for them. Deep inside however, his mind craved knowledge and he was always pushing himself as a result. He would finish his first electronics degree soon and that meant a real job. No more pumping gas from 3:30 to midnight at the Chevron in San Jose. He didn’t know how that would impact his life and he wasn’t looking forward to it. He also knew that he couldn’t hold himself back.

That’s part 1. Not sure if I will post one part a day or one a week but they will come. Thanks for reading (if you do) and a big pre-thank you for any comments or feedback.

In a people business, what are the leading indicators of change?

Please forgive the opening of this entry if your are not a business person. Hang in there and read through it and you might find something useful.

The majority of businesses have metrics that you can track and over time determine what measurable things indicate trend changes in the business cycle. In the semiconductor business, if you are a chip maker, you look for changes in the fabrication equipment manufacturers business. If the book to bill of that sector is increasing then it is likely that orders for chips are increasing and as a chip maker you might expect your orders to increase. Not convinced that is going to change a trend in orders? Well, look to the end line businesses your chips design into and what is happening with their business. Growing, shrinking, bifurcating ? (I love that word – it means to divide into two branches)

What I am saying is that in most cases, a business can find measurable data that can consistently establish leading indications of change. Forecasting is critical in resource and capital planning for successful businesses.

What if you are in a a people business? What are the leading indicators of change in behavior of people? This is much harder to determine.

If you read my blog you know I am in the real estate business. We are a people business. Yes we have inventory models and past sales history and absorption rates and pricing trends but all of these are post indications of behavior.

No, in a people business, the thing that determines change in the market conditions is the mood and psychology of the consumer, mostly the buying consumer.

Case in point. My area in California which covers 3 counties, is in a historically low inventory position. We have been for more than 2 years. Currently the number of single family homes available in all 3 counties is 1/3 of what would normally be a balanced inventory for just one of them. The basic law of supply and demand, when all things are normal with regard to buyers mood and psychology, should produce increased prices of the homes available for sale. In other words, if demand remains constant and supply is restricted, then prices go up. For two years now this has been true. Our area has seen double digit appreciation year over year. Buyers that bought 6 and 9 months earlier are refinancing because of a drop in rates and are being surprised by the increase in value indicated on their new appraisal.

But something is changing. And the difficult part is we can’t measure it because we are in it while it’s happening and it’s not tangible. We won’t know for fact until it is well behind us. Makes forecasting kind of tough right?

Over the last month the interest level as typically measured (open house attendance, requests for seller disclosures, follow up from agents for their buyer clients asking when a seller may be taking an offer) has remained consistent, but the offers are not showing up.

Homes were selling in about 7 to 8 days virtually 100% of the time for the last two years. It was the norm to receive 5 or more offers, often up to 20 for every single home listed for sale. In the last week I have seen 6 separate cases in which all regularly indicating measures would lead to a conclusion of at least several offers being delivered as expected and then…..nothing. No buyer steps up and writes an offer.

This is interesting and it’s an opportunity for those in my business to really observe and learn and figure out how to adapt earlier in the cycle of change but most won’t even think about it until it’s too late.

To be a leader in my business I have to craft narratives that are not only accurate but resonate with sellers and buyers. I can only do that if I am in tune with the mood and psychology of the people that drive my business. This is the art part of my business, how do people affect what you do?

Pay attention to people and how they are moving and you might learn about how they will respond to your work.

Okay, time to get back on track… or it’s good to be reminded I am in a people business

Well, February was a tough month physically, personally and professionally. It feels like the journey back to prosperity is under way but some professional things I am working on remind of times past and the emotional state of clients in dire straights. For a number of years I helped homeowners in financial distress negotiate the loss of their home in the most graceful manner possible and protecting them to the extent possible from taxes, deficiency and other collections that could happen as a result of that loss. Financial conditions have recovered and the economy is growing, although slowly, and housing has recovered from the worst of the downturn.

I am learning there are still people who need my help. I am now connected with a man who exemplifies character, integrity, grit, patriotism and just about every other adjective you can think of to describe someone who in all ways is a good person.

This man has done everything possible over the course of 5+ years to save his home and has been turned down every step of the way. Now he sees that hope for cooperation is futile and is resigned to have to sell the home he so desperately wanted to keep.

We were connected through a real estate attorney I know and work with on any kind of legal matter regarding real property. There are so many issues involved that we have to be very careful and specific in how we manage this process. It’s not a job for a traditional Realtor. It’s not “post a sign and wait for offers and get it closed and get paid”.

I have been recalled to times past. When I first began working with distressed homeowners I took on their emotional state. I lost sleep over how I might be able to help them and what might happen if I couldn’t. I dealt with so many of them that I soon became able to disconnect from that, to stay objective but not take on their emotions. That helped me be able to manage the significant numbers of people I was helping.

Now I have one. One person, one situation and it’s heartbreaking. I am glad that I have the opportunity to be reminded that behind every piece of business I manage there is a person that is emotionally involved. Good, bad or otherwise, the people who I work with are my business, not the house I am trying to sell for them.