December 28, 2010

Send In The Plows

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Isn't it rich?
You are the mayor.
Snow here at last on the ground,
You in mid-air.
Send in the plows.

Isn't it nuts?
And you approve?
Snowflakes keep blowing around,
Traffic can't move.
Where are the plows?
Send in the plows.

Just when we'd stopped knocking on doors,
Finally knowing the one that we needed was yours,
You're reading statements again with your usual flair.
Waiting for trains,
Not one is there.

Don't you love farce?
Your fault I fear.
I thought that you'd want what we want.
Bloomberg, my dear.
But where are the plows?
Quick, send in the plows.
Don't wait til spring's here.

Isn't it rich?
Isn't it queer,
Losing your timing like this
Could end your career.
And where are the plows?
There ought to be plows.
Well, maybe next year.

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December 22, 2010

Season's Greetings

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Merry Christmas from O Dock.

This is our Christmas tree for 2010.

If you read this blog, you probably wouldn't expect that I'd have a conventional Christmas tree, would you?

Actually, this may be more of a holiday tree than a 'Christmas' tree, since I don't really celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday - not that there's anything wrong with that.

I do like the spirit that everyone seems to get into at this time of year, despite their formal religious beliefs, and I think it's that spirit I choose to celebrate more than anything else. Life would sure be a lot easier to get through if people were as cheerful and forgiving throughout the year as they are now.

To make a serviceable holiday tree, you don't really need to start with a tree at all. Christmas trees are a lot like life. What you make of what you start with matters more than what you start with.

This year, we started with a seamstress' dress form.

Well, my wife did, actually. She is in charge of tree design.

I am in charge of counterproductive criticism and anything electrical.

It is really my wife who decided about 10 years ago that conventional trees are boring and that we should start with something as far away from a conventional tree as possible. I think that first year we started with a step ladder.

Over the years, we have started with department store mannequins, dinner jackets woven from plastic wreaths, a cheesy artificial tree that we completely stripped of all its plastic foliage, and one year, it was a piece of driftwood that looked like Charlie Brown's curiously comical conifer.

Another time, we paid homage to the surrealists and my wife did a painting of a tree that was titled, "This is not a tree", displayed on an appropriately illuminated artist's easel. That one backfired, though. Everyone left paintings under the tree that were entitled, "This is not a gift."

Even if you have never read any of my blog posts, one look at the old holiday 'trees' that have accumulated in our garage would convince you that I am someone best treated with a certain amount of caution.

This is probably my favorite time of year, though. I try to take a few days off from work and we spend some quiet time around the house sipping wine, eating chocolate, and admiring my wife's handiwork (which would not have come to fruition, remember, without my expert criticism). It is a time to slow down, consider where we have been over the past year, and where the next year may take us.

The problem is that I never quite get back to speed again in the new year after all of this slowing down. And in that, I may have discovered one of life's great lessons.

I'm beginning to think it is mainly Christmas that is responsible for the fact that I move a lot slower now than I did when I was 20 years old.

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December 8, 2010

hi its arnold

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o docker has left the keyboard quiet this past week

he was muttering something about how busy his work is the last time i caught a glimpse of him

if i squat down between the q and w keys i can keep an eye on him without his noticing


i am arnold the cockroach and i have just been figuring out how this interblog stuff works

he never logs out of the blog program so i am able to post to his blog when he is is not around

though this is my first try


i come from a long line of cockroaches

we tend to have large families

but my own family has mainly lived in newspaper buildings and it is in just such a building that o docker works

my great great uncle archy became somewhat famous by hanging out in the keyboard of an old typewriter owned by a newspaper columnist

its an old cockroach joke that archy succeeded in the world of letters

get it

computer keyboards are a lot easier for a cockroach to work than those old manual typewriters were

the jumping from key to key is less strenuous and less perilous and i can even type capitals with the caps lock key LIKE THIS but that still takes an extra two jumps so i dont do it too often

i pretty much dont bother with punctuation either

what a waste of jumps

but the absolute best thing about computer keyboards is how much warmer they are at night

and of course the food is better too

no one ever gets down here to clean out the crumbs

especially o docker

anyway i thought i would jump in here while o docker is away

sorry thats more cockroach humor

i was thinking you might want to know more about him while hes not around

he thinks hes so damned clever most of the time but mainly he drives the cockroaches around here nuts

maybe people are actually different than cockroaches that way

but i dont think so



uh oh here comes the cleaning crew

if they spot me its big trouble for my whole family


arnold

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December 2, 2010

Bowsprite, You Don't Wear Heels, Do You?

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What, you didn't get the memo?

This is 'Find A Cute Guy For Bowsprite' week in Blogadelphia. How should I know what kind of guy she thinks is cute?

This guy is an accomplished artist and knows his way around France. Maybe he can show her some parts of Paris she's never seen.

He likes taking long walks along the Seine and I think he's a Sagittarius.

He's supposed to be kinda short, but size doesn't matter, does it?

Bowsprite, I really think you should take a chance on this guy for at least one date. What do you have to lose?

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November 30, 2010

Penny For Your Thoughts?

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I think there's something to this penny on the train track thing that came up in my last post. And I'm asking for your help to sort this out.

Baydog mentioned he had placed pennies on a train track just to see them squish, in his youth, and I realized I'd done the same thing, not five miles away, on another branch of the same Philadelphia commuter railroad. And we both did this at the same age. Then, Pandabonium came forward, too. Coincidence? I think not.

In fact, after some Googling, it turns out this apparently strange practice is far more widespread than I suspected.

Here's a blog where 22 respondents admitted to 'penny squishing'. Most are male, some of whom are no longer adolescent - at least in most other respects. The women who confessed were usually dragged along by men - or so they claim. We always get blamed for things like this.

So what is it about squishing pennies that we, as a species, find so irresistible? Why are we drawn to this as moths to a flame? I think there's something very primal going on here. I'm surprised some sociologist hasn't already turned penny squishing into a doctoral thesis.

I've never seen a Schnauzer or Cocker Spaniel in the least bit curious about crushing milkbones or bits of kibble on a railroad track. Granted, rolling around on your back in the grass may seem just as inexplicable to humans, but I would never presume to be capable of understanding anything canine, having not been born into that culture.

It does seem clear, though, that there has been a marked and irreversible decline in the squishing of pennies in recent years. I wonder if diminishing penny squishing didn't coincide with the introduction of poppable bubble wrap in America? Popping bubble wrap in a controlled, clinical environment has been used to successfully wean hard core penny squishers away from their more dangerous and debilitating habit.

In the interest of science, I'm asking my readers to come forward and discuss any incidents of this potentially embarrassing activity that may be lurking in your past. You are, for the most part, amongst an understanding and sympathetic group of nurturing individuals, so there's really no reason not to be frank.

But if you really don't want to be frank, you can be Steve or Phil or Wendy, or whatever anonymous identity you prefer. Your privacy will be respected.

And remember that most psychologists consider isolated squishing events in adolescence to be perfectly normal and not a sign that you will necessarily become a habitual penny squisher in later life.

If you've never squished pennies on a railroad track, perhaps you have an explanation for why those of us who have are the way we are. Or maybe, you have uglier secrets that you'd like to get off your chest? Well, not too ugly - this is a family blog, after all.

I'm thanking you in advance for participating in my little experiment in reality blogging.

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November 25, 2010

November 23, 2010

A Brief History Of Poop

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In the comments page of my last post, the discussion turned to poop.

Well, to the word 'poop', that is.

An explanation was offered for just where poop comes from. And, as it turns out, poop has a long, established, and honorable history aboard sailing vessels.

The word 'poop', that is.

Contrary to what many believe, the poop deck of old sailing ships had nothing to do with pooping. One may have gotten pooped on the poop deck, but one did not poop on the poop deck.

And you may not be surprised to learn that we get poop from the French.

The word 'poop', that is.

I don't know why it is, but when the English are at a loss for the perfect word to use for something, more often than not they look to the French for inspiration.

And so it was with poop.

Well, poupe, actually, which is the French word for the stern of a ship, as one of my readers en provence was kind enough to point out.

Apparently, the English and the French have been giving each other poop for years. So, when the English were adding officers' cabins at the stern of their ships and needed a name for the deck above those cabins, they looked to the French and the first thing they thought of was poop.

The poop deck was born.

In time, taking waves from astern on the poop deck came to be known as 'getting pooped'. And, if you happened to be the English officer standing on the poop deck while getting thoroughly pooped, the first words you would probably have uttered would have been, "Oh, poop!"

In more time, swabbies became so used to hearing "Poop!" emanating from the officers on the poop deck, that any information percolating down from on high in the naval service came to be known as 'poop'.

If this information was circulated in written form, it was said to be contained in a 'poop sheet'

So the poop we originally got from the French and that was passed down to us from English naval officers is the sheet we have to deal with today.

I could go on.

But I'm pooped.

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November 18, 2010

Somewhere West Of Laramie

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Why do modern cruising sailboats look the way they do?

Why are so many of them getting so big and fat and, well, starting to resemble Winnebagos more than boats?

A few posts back, here on O Dock, the story of Ned Jordan and the Jordan Motor Car Company came up (OK, I brought it up). Jordan was one of those unique American characters whose lives give birth to legends and to blog posts. He lived in an age before massive federal regulation and before all-powerful armies of lawyers strode the earth, when it was actually possible for someone to start his own car company.

But not only did he start his own car company and build cars, he wrote the advertising campaigns for those cars. And it's those ads for which he's remembered, more than for any car he ever built.

What was so special about the ads and what might that have to do with how sailboats look today?

Well, before Mr. Jordan, most car ads focused on the cars themselves. You know - stuff like engines, cylinders, brakes, and upholstery - really boring stuff. Jordan's cars were no better than those of his competitors - in fact, he bought a lot of the important parts from those competitors and reassembled them to make his own cars. So, he needed something to distinguish his ordinary cars from his competitors' ordinary cars.

To do that, he ended up writing what may have been the first car ad that was total BS. He went way beyond merely exaggerating the capabilities of his cars. He elevated total BS nearly to the level of high art. It was a watershed moment in the history of advertising.

In the ad, Jordan nearly ignored his mediocre product - the Jordan Playboy (great name, huh?). Instead, and here's the nub, he focused on the mind of the customer and what owning a Jordan car could mean to that customer. The ad implied that merely possessing a Jordan Playboy would transform whoever owned one into a lusty adventurer - a smart and worldly dude familiar with life's sweeter pleasures. Just like that.

Here's the ad. Click on it and zoom in to read the copy. Man, could this guy lay it on.




Saddle and quirt.

Laughter and lilt and light.

Revel and romp and race.

What the heck did any of that have to do with bearings, brakes, and balljoints?

In 1923, this ad caused something of a sensation - what we would today call 'buzz'. People were suddenly talking about the Jordan Playboy, which was, remember, a pretty ordinary car. One result of that ad was that marketing people began thinking that the look of a product and the 'aura' created for it by a crafty ad campaign could be more important than the product's real properties.

The shape of a car's fenders and grill could do more to sell it than the quality of its engine, gearbox, or suspension. If it looked like a car a 'playboy' might drive - if it made the owner think they'd somehow become a 'playboy' just by buying one - then who cared about how fast it went or how well it stopped? Styling and advertising would soon become more important than engineering in the American car industry. It would eventually lead to ridiculous looking cars like this:



Ah, but it didn't stop with cars, of course. The idea that looks and 'image' were more important than substance would seep into almost every type of consumer product, from pencil sharpeners to vacuum cleaners.



And yes, those ideas would eventually find their way to the usually conservative world of sailboat design. Here's just one modern example:










This is Catalina's current 38-footer. This boat might actually sail OK and be comfortable down below, but I don't think sailing ability was the most important thing in its design. Or the second most important thing.

This is a boat designed to look impressive. It looks even bigger than it actually is. It has a huge freeboard that creates lots of space below but that can't be too helpful when you're trying to go to weather. The cockpit is big enough to host a wedding. It's more a lounge - a place to be seen - than a space designed for controlling a sailboat under way. Belowdecks, Antony might feel comfortable feeding grapes to Cleopatra in the galley, aft cabin, or main saloon.

The Catalina 387 is what Ned Jordan might have called 'high, wide, and handsome'.

Compare it to the 38-footer that Catalina was making 25 years ago - a boat designed by the respected yacht design firm of Sparkman and Stephens, and a boat that will sail the pants off today's Catalina 387.






Now, I'm using Catalina only as an example, mainly because I have an older Catalina and don't want to be accused of dissing someone else's brand of boat. A lot of the more popular lines seem to be following this trend today towards plumper, overdone floating pleasure palaces.

If, like me, you're scratching your head and wondering why so many new boats look the way they do today, consider that this may be the result of something set in motion a long time ago, somewhere west of Laramie.

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November 12, 2010

Seven Steps To Heaven - Or Is It Nine, Or...?

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Over at Proper Course, Tillerman spends a lot of time blogging about how anal the International Laser Class Association can seem to those of us who are not at one with the karma of Lasering - to those of us who just don't get the whole Laser Gestalt.

I always assume he exagerates just a bit for comedic effect. After all, there are about a billion Laser sailors in the US alone, according to the last census, and most of them seem like perfectly affable and reasonable people.

Certainly, they must insist that their class association behave in a responsible and sober way.

But I was recently wandering around on the ILCA website (please, don't ask why) and discovered this shocking little bit of evidence that all may not be as under control in the world of Lasering as Laserists would have us believe.

Click and zoom in to have any chance of deciphering this

This diagram is the Official ILCA visual representation of the Application for Entry process that you must understand and negotiate if you want to 'attend' ILCA European or World Championships. By 'attend' I think they mean these are all the steps you have to go through to actually compete in a World Championship. I sure hope you don't have to do all of this if you just want to show up and watch. Some of us just like to watch.

You can tell from the diagram that this is an organization in crisis.

First of all, there are all of the colors. A good workflow diagram shouldn't need colors. You should be able to just draw a bunch of boxes and arrows and done. I think they started out that way and, when they were finished, took a step back and examined what they had done.

"Uh-oh. We're in trouble. There are just too freaking many boxes and arrows for anyone to make head or tail out of this. Maybe adding color coding will help make some sense out of this mess."

It was probably at that point that the workflow chart got assigned to the Color Code Assessment and Evaluation Committee (the CCAEC). After a few weeks of evaluating and assessing, the committee decided (by a 7-4 vote, with two abstentions) to adopt a four-color simplification scheme for the visual representation of the Application for Entry process.

I'm not sure how they arrived at four colors. I think two colors would have worked better. You know, one color could have stood for 'good' and the other for 'you're screwed'. A simple red and green scheme could have helped guide you down the right path for entering a Laser World Championship. Keep landing in the green boxes and you're OK.

Probably the losing side of the 7-4 vote (with two abstentions) thought two colors would have been plenty. I'll bet that one of the committee members was assigned to write up a minority opinion on the value of a two-color system. But the majority of CCAEC members held out for more complexity.

Complexity clarifies, right?

So, in this workflow chart, I'm not sure what color you should be aiming for. I'm pretty sure green is still good and red means 'you're screwed', but what does the yellow mean? If you start out on yellow, what does the transition to green mean? And I don't want to even think about purple.

Another sign that the ILCA is plainly admitting that this is a hopelessly complex, unfathomable process is that they had to abandon straight lines before they were even half-way through.

The mark of any good workflow chart is nice, unambiguous straight lines leading from one step to the next. Having to draw curving (or worse yet - 'S'-shaped lines) is a tacit admission that you forgot to plan ahead. It means you kept adding extra steps as you went along that you'd completely forgotten about when you started. Curving lines on a flow chart are like detours on a road map.

The result is a flowchart that leaves me - admittedly a Laser outsider - completely baffled. I thought just staying on a Laser without falling off was hard enough, but I think sailing a Laser is probably the easy part.

Anyone who manages to successfully enter a Laser World Championship should get some kind of trophy just for that.

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November 11, 2010

More Naval Gazing

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Whew! I am tuckered out from trying to solve all of the photo puzzles that everyone has been posting lately.

JP has been posting mystery paintings. Frogma has been posting mystery boats. And Tillerman has been posting mystery photos of guys in canoes.

It's time for someone else to work the Google and burn the midnight oil.

Here is a very strange painting.






Baydog has been feeling down lately and posted this eerie thing today. Can you identify the artist? The style is typical of his work (the artist's, not Baydog's), but the subject is probably the most bizarre thing that artist ever painted. Here's a hint. It's a self portrait.

OK, if you're an art history major that part may be easy, but if you're an art history major, you're probably working double shifts at MacDonalds and won't have any time to read sailing blogs.

Ah, but here's the harder part - and the part that ties this painting to sailing (sort of). What the heck does that painting have to do with the lighthouse in this photo?






If you're Baydog, you can't answer the first part unless you know the second part, too.

Now let's not always see the same hands.

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November 3, 2010

October 31, 2010

November

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Somewhere east of Lawrenceville, there's a bay-busting, rope-coiling blogger who knows what I'm talking about.

He's blogged about November in the air and in the wind and in his mind. He fears November, with good reason.

October is playful. She toys with us.

Now she is chill, now she is warm - from one day to the next, we never know for sure. But always there is hope. We remember her warmth, and it is enough.

November, though, is all business.

And his business is grim. He is here to settle accounts. He's of a single mind. When his work is done, there is no looking back.

On the east coast, our lives pitch, yaw, and roll on the waves of the seasons. Our dreams, like our boats, are launched and then put away. The rhythm of the seasons urges us on. It's now or never.

In California, the seasons are sweeter. Our November is a foggy shadow of his eastern cousin. We mark his coming with the turn of a page. We do not fear him.

Here, there is always tomorrow to do what needs doing. November becomes December, a new year begins, and still there is time. January, February, they'll do just as well. No need to hurry.

In California, our dreams and our boats are always floating. They'll be there when we get to them. Life here is so very sweet.

But is it too sweet? Does our time pass too slowly?

Do we mend our docklines only when we feel a storm coming?

Do we need our Novembers cold, dark, and unforgiving to remind us that not every winter is followed by a spring?


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October 24, 2010

Drop Leaf Table

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Sometimes, I don't understand Tillerman at all.

What is all this noise on his blog about furniture and tables and sailboats?

He claims some badass retailer that sells, of all things, drop leaf tables asked him to write a post named, well... 'Drop Leaf Table'.

That is confusing enough, especially for a blog ostensibly about sailing, but he goes on to say he couldn't just write that post about drop leaf tables. He would have to gradually work up to it. He has been gradually working up to it for a week, posting ten separate posts about tables, beds, guitar-shaped boats, and furniture.

I say, if you're going to write about drop leaf tables, just man up and do it.

By way of example, this is a post about a drop leaf table, and it's even related to sailing, sort of.

Here is my drop leaf table.

My drop leaf table

OK, OK, let's not argue that this is technically a drop down table. Drop down, drop leaf - close enough for me.

I am rather proud of my drop leaf table. It is not a great work of carpentry, but I made it with my own hands and for me, that alone is quite an accomplishment.

Anyone who has a Catalina 30 will know why I took on the task of making my own drop leaf table (see, I'm sticking with 'drop leaf' for the rest of this post).

The makers of the Catalina 30, bless their sweet hearts, were faced with the same problem that has confronted most makers of 30-foot coastal cruising boats. How do you fill in the settee so it will convert to a double berth for sleeping and yet still provide a table in that same space for when you're not sleeping?

Alright, I know this is pretty boring, but, somehow, I need to prove that you CAN write a blog post about drop leaf tables.

Since the Catalina 30 is what's called a 'price boat', they took the cheap and easy way out. They started with a plank of particle board, slapped some ugly plastic laminate on it, made it big enough to fill in the settee for sleeping and then stuck a flimsy little folding leg on it for converting that into a table. Voila! Now it's a double berth, now it's a table.

The problem is that a slab of particle board that's strong enough to support two sleeping people has to be pretty thick. And a slab of particle board that big and that thick ends up weighing about 800 pounds. And when you want to convert from berth to table, or vice versa, you have to pick up the whole freaking thing and wrestle it in and out of two tiny brackets. If you want to stow it away, you have to flip the whole thing over at the same time. It's almost impossible to do that without needing a chiropractor afterwards.

So, I decided to improve on things. I gave up on using the settee as a double berth and decided to just make a table big enough for two people that would easily fold out of the way for storage.

Drop leaf table folded out of the way for storage

Most well-made boats have a nice table that folds up against the bulkhead, so how hard could it be to make something like that?

Plenty hard, as it turns out. It took me about six months to find out just how hard.

Now, this not being a blog about furniture making and me not being anything remotely like a carpenter, and since anyone still reading this must be half asleep by now, I will dispense with the details of actually making a drop leaf table.

Suffice it to say that fitting into a boat something like a folding table that works in both its 'deployed' position and stows away neatly in its folded position without banging into or scraping against a dozen other things in the boat and that stays down when its supposed to be down and up when it's supposed to be up and does all of that when you're sailing or not sailing is quite a bit harder than I ever imagined.

It has something to do with being able to think in three dimensions to build such a thing and me having trouble just thinking in one dimension at a time.

Drop leaf table for two that lets you actually get in and out of the settees

God knows how they design the important stuff on a boat that has to move and yet still be able to work in all different conditions - things like sails and booms and rudders.

It must be even harder to make stuff like that than it is to write a blog post called Drop Leaf Table.

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October 15, 2010

Setting The Record Straight

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 I must apologize to anyone who may have read my last post.

In that post, I said the free 75-year leases being offered to Larry Ellison by the city of San Francisco in return for bringing America's Cup 34 to the city were on a few acres of waterfront property.

I was wrong. The size of the free land grab being offered to Larry is nothing like a few acres.

A quick consultation with Google maps showed me that my guess was so far off that I must set the record straight. The properties are actually much closer to 25 acres.

Now, that may not seem very big if you're in the middle of Wyoming, but in San Francisco, most people don't lease their waterfront property by the acre, or by the 25 acres. They're usually racking their brains figuring out how to pay for a few hundred square feet.

I was trying to get my head around just what 25 acres might look like in an urban setting and how much an enterprising fellow like Larry might stand to make from such nifty plots of land.

Here's an aerial photo of piers 30-32, one of three properties included in the lease:



With nothing to establish scale, it's hard to get a feel for the size of this tidy parcel. So here, at the same scale, is a similarly-sized plot occupied by one of Larry's prospective neighbors:



The roundish thing with the green middle part is where a local ball club hosts regularly scheduled parties with other members of the National League. Larry would be just two doors away, so that might add something to the value of his modest lot. He needs to consider that, because the only other thing adjoining his lot, on three sides, is San Francisco Bay. And you know how tiresome it can get having to look at water all day long. And you can see that if Larry wanted to buy a ball club of his own, he'd have plenty of room to build them one of those roundish things with the green middle. He's got about as much space as his neighbor.

And if he wants to invite some friends over for the day, there's a convenient two-acre parking lot across the street that's also included in the deal. You know how some offstreet parking can improve a property's value.

Of course the pier 30-32 site is the smaller of the two main parcels.

Here is the more comfortably-sized pier 50:


Again, from this aerial shot, it's hard to judge scale, so here's a helpful hint. Those two long gray things on the right are container ships. See:



This would be a great spot for Larry to tie up a few of his boats. There's even enough space so that he could leave his dinghy in the water, too. You know what a pain it can be to have to haul your dinghy up on deck after every sail.

As I hinted, I was starting to wonder just what Larry might collect in rent on these parcels if he decided to sublet. He already has a ramshackle place with a view of the ocean in Newport, Rhode Island. He might want to just stay there.

I figured Larry is a pretty busy guy. He may not want to bother building anything on the piers. After the Cup is over, he might just want to rent out the space for parking. This would probably be the very least amount of income he could get out of these piers.

I checked around and it turns out that people are paying around $250 per month for someplace to park their cars near the water. In San Francisco, it must be a prestige thing to have a parking space near the water. Here's a place in the snooty Marina district where you can park your car near the water for $250 per month:



And then, I had to do some math. A typical parking place is about 10 feet by 20 feet, or 200 square feet. Since there are 43,560 square feet in an acre, you could park about 200 cars in an acre, leaving some spare room to maneuver. In 25 acres, you could park 5000 cars. And at $250 per car, that's $1,250,000 per month, or $15 million per year. After 66 years, that comes out to $990 million, assuming the price of parking in San Francisco doesn't go up.

But, it always does.

And Larry is a pretty smart guy. He could probably figure out some use for his real estate windfall that would bring in more than a bunch of parking lots would.

So, I think it's pretty safe to say that this little deal will be worth over $1 billion to Larry if he plays his cards right.

And he usually does.

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October 11, 2010

The Thrill Of Victory

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What's wrong with me?

I've been trying to write this post for a week.

By now, everyone knows that the San Francisco Board of Supes has voted to extend a formal invitation to Larry Ellison and his peeps to hold America's Cup 34 in the city.

What amazes me is that some folks think that's news. Did anyone really think the Board wouldn't approve the 'terms' of the proposal?

Like every other city in this country, SF is scratching, trying to figure out ways to just keep the lights on. Along comes a plum worth an estimated $1.2 billion and the supes are gonna say "no" to that?

I'm not exactly sure how they figured the Cup would bring in $1.2 billion - I guess all of those extra quarters in the parking meters are supposed to add up.

So why did it take me over a week to write this post - especially since I've been sitting on my duff for over a month since my last post?

I should have jumped on this 10 days ago when our local yot racing association sent out an e-mail urging its membership to lobby the supes to vote in favor of the 'terms' - the list of conditions that the city would commit to and those it would expect Ellison to meet. The YRA included a link to the list of terms, but didn't really expect anyone would actually read it. Look at it yourself, and you'll see why.

It's one of those interminable documents written in language no regular guy can understand - something like my blog posts, only even worse.

It's a document obviously written by lawyers who are trying to sneak something past us and don't want real people to be able to understand - like an application for a credit card, or the ingredients for Chicken McNuggets.

But I thought it was my civic duty as a Left Coast sailing blogger to at least read the darned thing. Ugh, big mistake.

It starts out in typical lawyerly fashion, with ugly language about parties of the first part and parties of the second part, herinafter referrred to as acronyms that no one in a partying mood can remember the meaning of. I wonder how many SF Supervisors actually waded through the legal gibberish on their way to the party.

Heck, this is about bringing in $1.2 billion.

Letsjustgetitonthetable.

Allinfavorsayaye.

Theayeshaveitmeetingadjourned.

So, where was I? Oh right, explaining that as a conscientious Left Coast sailing blogger, I actually tried to make sense of the sleazy legalese and fell asleep at least three times doing so. But each time, I sobered up, shook myself awake, and pressed on.

Until I got to some very confusing parts that didn't seem to have anything to do with sailing at all. And darned if those parts aren't buried all the way towards the end of that long document of legal mumbo jumbo.

And those would be the parts about the 66 years. And the 75 years.

Why the heck is it going to take between 66 and 75 years to hold the 34th America's Cup?

Well, it turns out it's not. No sailboats are that slow. Not even Catalina 30's.

But 66 and 75 years are the lengths of time that Larry will be given free leases on several acres of waterfront property on San Francisco Bay. It's just the city's way of saying, "Thank you, Larry." Just a small token of gratitude, actually.

Several acres - they don't really say how many, but it's just a few acres.

Of waterfront property.

In San Francisco.

For 75 years.

Seventy-Five.


I mean how much money could Larry possibly make from the free use of several acres of waterfront property in San Francisco for the next 75 years? He probably won't even cover his expenses for the Cup out of that.

Of course, the supes are worried that their little token of gratitude won't be enough to hold Larry's interest. Apparently, city fathers in Spain and in Italy are making even better offers.

Imagine that.

Besides getting involved in the America's Cup for the sheer love of sport that I'm sure has drawn him to it, it turns out Larry might actually make some money out of it, too.

Who would have guessed?

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September 7, 2010

His Finest Hour

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As fellow blogger Baydog so nobly explains in his post today, Tillerman is off across the sea to do battle in the Laser Masters World Slamdown, held this year in crusty olde England.

Tillerman has before him an ordeal of the most grievous kind. He has before him many, many long days of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is his policy? I can say it is to wage war by sea, with all his might and with all the strength that god can give him; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of Laser sailing. That is his policy.

You ask, what is his aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no gloating. Let that be realized; no gloating for Tillerman, no survival for all that Tillerman has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that his blog will move forward towards its goal of world domination.

Tillerman has trained long and hard in preparation for this moment. He has practiced in his little boat, in his little bay, till his abs ache from hiking. He has sailed in local regattas and met the competition with vigor and resolve. He has run the streets and hills and beaches and hedgerows of Tiverton till his tennies are torn and tattered.

And this is not the end of his ordeal. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

He takes up his task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that his cause will not be suffered to fail among men, though he has nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweaty hiking pants.

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September 1, 2010