Friday, July 29, 2011

Sailing update - ASA 104 at Santa Cruz Island

Dolphins off Santa Cruz from eric thomason on Vimeo.

Last weekend I did my ASA 104 class: Bareboat chartering. This certification will allow me to charter sailboat overnight which I am really looking forward to. The class was great. There were 3 other guys, Tim, Ryan and Kevin - all really nice and interesting people and the instructor Bill, who was awesome.

Here's the boat we took out - the Sun Soleil anchored at Prisoner's Harbor

Bill told first-hand stories of the pig culling and golden eagle relocation efforts that helped the native island fox rebound from near extinction recently. This was particularly interesting because Julia had just finished reading When the Killing's Done by T.C. Boyle (one of Julia's favorite authors) which is set in the Channel Islands and fictionally depicts the conflict between animal rights activists who want to prevent any animals from being killed and environmentalists who want to restore and preserve the original ecosystem. Here's a link to an interview with the author if you are interested.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

As the Sun Starts to Wane

We spend more and more time outside enjoying the long summer days. I always look forward to the end of the day when the sun finally makes it to the western horizon and slowly makes an exit. The light play of the setting sun on the Coastal Live Oak is almost like a parting conversation.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dinner and Breakfast Are Important

My oldest son wrote some facts about our dog Trudy.

"Facts: Dinner and breakfast are important. Fetch is important most of all."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Walk Around the Yard

leek blossom

Funnelweb spider, web & olive tree leaves

tuft of rabbit

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When Quitting Makes Sense

This is kind of funny following Julia's last post but last week I quit my job of about ten years (if you count the time before the company I was actually hired at was acquired). It's not that anything was particularly wrong at the job beyond the normal frustrations- it's just that considering the value proposition that my ongoing employment presented contrasted with the opportunities that existed outside of my contract of employment the latter won out and I am jobless and happy (at least for now).

This weekend while painting the kitchen I was listening to the radio and serendipitously heard this program:

Hour-Long Special: The Upside of Quitting | Freakonomics Radio

The program articulated in economic terms most of why I had left my job. In particular the tension between sunk costs and opportunity costs were particularly relevant to my situation: the opportunity of being home with my wife and kids while the kids are on summer break and the prospect of mastering something new won out over an 11th year doing something that by all accounts was a great job but didn't have much more to offer me beyond money.

There is another aspect to my decision to quit that I think is also relevant here and it's more about slow living and seeking a richer lifestyle. I saw the ted talk by Stephen Sagmeister linked below a while back and it has been in the back of my mind ever since.

These two links are 80 min. of content so unless you are unemployed you are unlikely to watch/listen to them both. However, if you are considering quitting something or need some convincing that a creative reinvigoration could be the right decision for you too, you may want to sink some time and entertain your opportunity potential.

BTW to any and all of the unintentionally unemployed Ramshackle readers I know this probably sounds foolish. All I can say is I'm doing what feels right for me. I believe it will all work out for the best for me and sincerely hope it will for you too.

When Vomiting Must Be Stopped

In cleaning out a catch all drawer, I found this little treasure. The box had long held an assortment of sewing needles and thread. I never knew that it was originally a box for compazine (registered trademark) brand of prochloperazine..."When vomiting must be stopped". I wonder how long it took the ad copy team to come up with that one?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Paint Removal Without Solvents

Eric took the bull by the horns and painted our kitchen. Amazing what a little paint will do. One of our metal switch plates was covered with decades of paint. I soaked it in warm water with a bit of soap overnight. The next morning, the paint came off with just a bit of coaxing with a scraper. I put it back up without painting it. The patina of the metal looks interesting next to the freshly painted walls.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I'm taking advantage of the lemons for yesterday's lemonade to clean the drip trays on the range of our stove. Serious need for lemon bleaching. Smells fantastic.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Another Home Haircut

From shaggy to suave in a matter of minutes. My son is very pleased with his new cut...and the post cut lollypop.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wooden Marble Maze

To celebrate the start of summer, I like to introduce a new toy for play. This year...enter the marble maze. I picked this up from Back to Basics Toys. I have long since had a geeky affinity for marble maze games and toys. I nearly burst with delight when my sons started to show interest themselves. This summer, the toy decision was easy.

For inspiration, we have delved youtube for inspiration including Marble Machine 3. Forgive the video production, if you can stick out the narrative and slow unfold, I suspect you will be delighted by the wonders of the creation. It keeps these kids (and me) aware that much more is possible if you dream it & then make it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lorri Deyer's Idea Truck

Los Angeles artist Lorri Deyer has an idea to create an Idea Truck. Based on the increasingly popular taco truck model, Lorri's truck will roll through Los Angeles offering ideas. Good, bad, million dollar ideas and more. How do you pay for an idea? With idea of your own. The truck is currently funding via

Discloser: I'm a backer...then I'm always up for a good idea.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Another Rabbit Down

The rancid smell of death increased as the temperature rose. "I think something's dead around here," Eric said. I pushed back the curtain in our bedroom and saw the rabbit carrion causing the stink.

Our home is near a very large field where many cottontail rabbits live. As of late they've even migrated to our yard. A few weeks ago, one scampered out of the bushes as my kids and friends climbed to the top of our property. However, the cottontail is a tasty treat to the red tail hawks that nest in the eucalyptus and tall pine trees about a quarter mile opposite each other. We often watch the hawks soar from the eucalyptus to the pine in the evening. Throughout the day, they circle overhead in search of food. This rabbit appears to have suffered the same red tail hawk fate as the rabbit whose head we found three years ago.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Fun

The quills project of yesterday didn't go so well. We plan on giving it another shot. In the meantime, playing with friends in water has been going very well whether it be at a pool party...

...or at the creek catching frogs...

...even when they play dead. This one rested cutely on it's back for about a full fifteen seconds then flipped over for us to admire some more.