Sunday, July 29, 2012

Been a while...

It's been a while since I had the time or the brain to write something.  Mostly the brain.  I don't know what it is, but when the degrees go up, my IQ points go down.  Any extended amount of time over 100F and I will probably have to return my National Honor Society pin.  We're going on 3 weeks now, this may be my last post EVER.

It didn't help that during this recent chunk of "too damn" (in answer to the question "How hot is it?") I was finishing up my math class at KU.  Most of my brain cells went toward completing the square and remembering the quadratic formula.

Emily Sings the Quadratic Formula

Yeah.  I sang it when it came time to use it. Kind of like I sang the Preamble to the Constitution when I had to get up and recite it in class in 7th grade.

We the people...

 Anyway... I ramble.

I'm working up a new website, sort of a "one stop shop" for ocean sailing news and information, videos, photos, blog posts etc.  Trying to drum up interest in the sport here in the heartland.  As a matter of fact, I've gone and bought the URL "HeartlandOceanRacing" and made a logo and everything:

I'm pretty excited about it, there will be more info as Drew and I figure out just how to make it work.  I welcome any input.

That's it for now.  Supposed to hit 106F today, I'd better go find my pin.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mom's Top 10. Plus One.

As the mom of a member of the class of 2009 I feel like I'm in a special place to answer this. So here goes.

Mom's Top 10 Bits of Advice (plus one)

1) Follow your dreams, but remember that reality is where you live. To put it more bluntly- you have to eat. You need a roof over your head. You'll need money to pay your bills. Now, don't get me wrong- I'm all about following your dreams, living your life on your terms and all that, but if the current economic situation shows us anything, it's that living on credit will eventually come back to bite you right in the butt. Live within your means and you'll find that your means are more expansive and rewarding than you ever thought possible.

2) Be nice to the Earth. It's the only one we have (at least for now) and we want it to last for all the future generations. Plant a garden, ride your bike more, think about your impact on this fragile marble.

3) Forgive people. This does not mean "be a doormat" but rather it means understanding that not everyone thinks or experiences or lives exactly the way you do, so take a moment and ponder that before you carry a grudge around with you. We all have our own journeys to travel, grudges just weigh us down.

4) Don't take any wooden nickels. Trust but verify. Question authority. What I mean here is this- do your own research. Don't let anyone tell you something and insist that it's THE TRUTH or THE WAY or THE ONLY THING. You're smart, you've learned how to research, with the Internet you have the wealth of the world's intelligence at your fingertips. Learn the difference between what's put out there for mass consumption and what's real.

5) Be helpful. Just the fact that you can read this puts you in an elite class of people on this planet. The fact that you're reading it on a computer puts you in an even smaller class. You're fortunate people. You have more stuff in your rooms than millions of people own in their entire lives. You eat more for lunch than millions of people eat in a day. Don't be selfish with your wealth and talents. Share them to help someone else.

6) Don't be afraid to ask for help. Just because you're in those elite groups I mentioned in #5 doesn't mean you won't need help some day. When you get to the point where you need help, don't be ashamed to ask for help.

7) Stay healthy. Don't smoke, don't drink booze to excess, don't get fat and lazy. Eat good quality food, get exercise and stay healthy. You'll still die eventually, but your life will be fuller and richer than if you spend half of it sick.

8) Don't ever stop learning. You don't have to continue your formal education, but don't stop learning new things. Now that it isn't the bane of your existence, learning can be beautiful and fun.

9) Take full responsibility for your actions, even the bad ones. If you do something and fail miserably, be able to say "Wow. I failed miserably, and I take responsibility for that." Don't let anyone else be your fall guy OR take credit for the good. Don't be boastful, but remember that it's not a bad thing to say "I did that well."

10) If you're going to clam, clam big. Don't half ass your way through life.

11) Remember that there are people who will love you, no matter what stupid stuff you do. Don't shut those people out. However, if you do, they'll still love you, and they'll still be there when you decide to open that door again. 

Breaking the spell of inertia

All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is to - act as if it were impossible to fail.  Dorothea Brande

All my life I've wondered what I wanted to be when I grew up.  For a while I thought archaeologist, then interpreter, then graphic designer, then simply employed, then Ugly Betty.  I was always amazed and envious of people who knew what they wanted to be and went out and achieved it.

For the past decade, I've kind of halfheartedly pursued a position with a VOR syndicate, to no avail.  It never seemed like a real calling until the past year and a half.  My last layoff put things in to stark perspective- I wasn't finding work doing what I had done, so I took the job I could get.

Instant.  Frustration. 

It really made me realize I was MORE than just a paycheck, that I DO have a passion, that it is important to me to find something I love to do.

So I've been chipping away, trying to find inroads into a field where I'm not sure where to start or who to start with.  It's also frustrating, but in a good way.  This frustration I feel I have some control over, that this is the frustration that will lead me somewhere, as opposed to the frustration I feel at my current job.

But that also leads me back to my opening quote- a variant on "What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?"  Well heck- I'd move to Spain, France, Ireland, Brasil... somewhere there was a syndicate starting and get hired!  Easy peasy, right?

Right.  But I'm not in a vacuum here.  I have people who depend on me, and they NEED me to not fail.  It's all well and good to say "I won't fail!" and believe it with all my heart, but reality- people DO fail.  I HAVE failed in the past.  Sure- I don't set out to fail.  But it happens.  Being optimistic is good, being realistic is better.

When my son graduated from high school, I wrote a note to him and his friends.  The first thing I told them:  Follow your dreams, but remember that reality is where you live. To put it more bluntly- you have to eat. You need a roof over your head. You'll need money to pay your bills. Now, don't get me wrong- I'm all about following your dreams, living your life on your terms and all that, but if the current economic situation shows us anything, it's that living on credit will eventually come back to bite you right in the butt. Live within your means and you'll find that your means are more expansive and rewarding than you ever thought possible.

And that is why I don't buy "act as if it were impossible to fail."  Because you have to be prepared.  Anything less is irresponsible.

And that's frustrating.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I'm obsessed, why isn't everyone else?

As you may have noticed, I have an obsession.  Well, I prefer to call it a "passion" because obsession sounds so... stalkery.

My passion is the Volvo Ocean Race.  During the 2001-2002 VOR, I was working for an ASSA ABLOY Group company, and had the unenviable task of figuring out a way to convince die-hard NASCAR and NFL fans, living in Nevada, to be interested in a yacht race that didn't even come within 2,000 miles of us. I found the hook in the story of fellow ASSA ABLOY Group employees in Africa. In AIDS-ravaged areas, funerals were (and still are) a common occurrence. Weekly, ASSA ABLOY Group employees attended funerals of their coworkers, and to show their solidarity, they would wear the ASSA ABLOY Racing Team shirts all Group employees were given. 

My coworkers were shocked that the race that they took so lightly was being used as a rallying point for people who had lost so many. Our interest spread, and we began to take the race much more seriously, and learned about our far-flung partners. 

After we made that connection, I spent the time leading up to the North American stopovers being a cheerleader, following the race around the world from my desk while arranging housing, events and other activities in two ports for over 300 people from around the world.

When I got to Miami, I lived in the Hyatt for three weeks. Up every morning, walking down Biscayne Boulevard to the race venue, which at that time was behind the basketball arena. Full day of running around like a crazy person (The chef's baby daughter needs a playpen? OK.  I need to find a Swedish-speaking babysitter? OK.  Two dozen Easter baskets for the crew‘s kids?  Bring it on.) followed by festivities at night.

When ASSA ABLOY actually arrived, in first place, in the middle of the night, it was like rock stars showed up. Stinky, sweaty, scroungy looking men piled off our beautiful boat and onto a stage. They hugged their families and drank booze out of coconuts. Shortest night ever for those of us who had to go back the next day to meet & greet the throngs of people who showed up at the Race Village.

I got to work closely with some of the crew, and picked up a little Swedish, although I speak it with a Kiwi accent evidently. I brushed up on my French, took a sail on the twin boat, and spent time on South Beach in dive bars with sailors from all over the world (much to my mother's horror I suppose).  I worked three weeks straight, 16- to 20-hour days, with one afternoon off. I washed my clothes in the sink in my room, nearly wore through a pair of sport sandals, and lost 20lbs.  It was AWESOME.

There's a thing about the people that participate in this race. They're the best in the world at what they do. If they don't do their best, people die. Even if they do their best, people die. The great thing is, while it's an exclusive bunch, they're not exclusive. You're judged, of course, but if you pass, you're almost swept into it- brought up to their level and you too are inspired to excellence. 

The most recent edition of the Race wraps up today in Galway, Ireland, with the inshore race and the prizegiving.  If photos and mad tweets are to be believed, half of Ireland, a good chunk of New Zealand and much of Sweden has descended upon Galway this week, and it looks like they're all having a ball. Presidents, Princes, sailors, moms, dads, kids, Maori, Vikings, flamenco dancers, hula hoopers, punks... you name it, they're there and they're ripping it up.  It is indeed a fitting end to the race that some call "the Everest of sailing" and "the toughest sail race in the world."  

Here are a couple pictures I gleaned from Facebook.  

The first- American team PUMA Ocean Racing arrives in Galway in the middle of the night (no joke- it was about 3am):

The second- American team PUMA Ocean Racing arrives in Miami, mid-day:


There was recently an article released about the media reach for the first half of the current race. "For what its worth, the cumulative TV audience as of February 19th was 880 million based on 1,200 hours of coverage across dedicated programming and news items. Those figures compare with a cumulative audience of 459 million at the corresponding stage of the last race, representing a 90 percent increase." The article goes on to explain why, but NINETY PERCENT INCREASE in just a few years. (

Quite possibly the BIGGEST thing in the sporting world, with the BIGGEST audience.
So riddle me this, Batman.  Why barely a peep of this amazing race in the US?  This morning, I checked the tweets and the Facebook posts, so I knew who'd won today's inport, but when I looked at several US news outlets, there was nothing.  I even searched, and found a week-old article.  Nothing new, nothing about the closest finish ever, nothing.

SADNESS.  Sadness and frustration. 

I want this race to continue, and to thrive, which it's doing nicely thanks to inroads into China and the Middle East.  (Team Sanya was the 2nd Chinese/Irish syndicate and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing made it's debut this year)  But, speaking as the Ugly American in the room- what about the US?  Sure- the US has entered teams- PUMA, Pirates of the Caribbean, but I'm pretty sure that 99.99% of people in the US have no idea.

And this presents a hurdle for the race.  Sure, I'm obsessed, and I have friends who are now casually interested because I've bludgeoned them with pictures and stories for the past 9 months, but how do we get the general public in the US even knowledgeable about the race, let alone interested?

The 45 million euro question.  (45 million being a high-end estimate for how much it costs to mount a syndicate)

The other question- how do I get to go along?

(photo courtesy of Leighton O'Connor)