Monday, October 22, 2007

You are what you think (about)

Seen on the subway this morning "What you put time into -- you become."

That's pretty much the same as the Buddha said more than 2500 years ago, "You are what you think, having become what you thought." These are the first lines of the Dhammapada.

Or another way to say the same thing is that old maxim from the early days of computers - punch cards and the like in the early 70s. "Junk in, junk out."

Yiks! What are I thinking about?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fair winds or foul?

Two appointments to haul "Kuan Yin" out of the winter for the winter have so far had to be cancelled due to high winds. Last Saturday the wind from the west was so strong that it was difficult even rowing out to the boat - the dinghy was blown back at least half the distance of each stroke before I could get the oars in the water again. There's a metaphor for some of life's winds sometimes.

However, on "Kuan Yin" all was well -- there's something extraordinarily comforting being cocooned down below in a boat when the wind's howling and she's moving in response. (And knowing that one is securely anchored or moored!)

The main reason for the haulout is that I will be spending the winter months in Asia and want the boat secure on dry land throughout the months I'm away. It's also an opportunity to clean the bottom, apply new anti-foul paint next spring and do some work on the through-hulls - those holes in the bottom of a boat through which water is drawn to cool the engine, for example.

Two of the through-hulls on Kuan Yin are plastic, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense on a steel boat. They are definitely the point of weakness and need to be changed. (The reasons for using plastic are that 1) it's cheaper 2) plastic does not interact with steel, whereas bronze must be bonded not to be in contact with the steel. A complicated subject to do with corrosion. However, I don't think it makes any sense to have plastic through-hulls in a steel boat when there is some danger of icebergs and rocks. One good hit against either could sheer off the plastic and the boat would sink in minutes. When Kuan Yin is out of the water, the through-hulls can be changed.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Putting Up a Tent in a Hurricane

As I get into the planning and early practicalities of the voyage to Labrador, two images come to mind of what i think must be a common experience for anyone trying to get any project going. And sometimes this can signal defeat right at the outset.

The image is of trying to put up a tent in a hurrcane. The tent is the project, whatever it is; the hurricane is normal life. People with plans are usually people who are already busy people -- busy people were busy babies -- so trying to find space in the day, and the budget for the new project really can feel like holding up one tent pole while the wind blows away the other one. It's a phase that has to be met with persistence and patience. I woke the other night at 1 am and spent an hour mapping out the entire project, as so far conceived, using mind map software.

Mind map software is new to me - but the potential is alluring, especially if you're one of those people who tends to forget whatever's not immediately in front of them (I can forget food in a fridge!) The advantage of mind mapping is that the whole projects becomes visible - every part and the details under those parts. Each time I have a new idea I can add it to the correct "pod" and have an idea of where it fits into the whole.

I'm not sure mind mapping works well for budgetting - the FreeMind software I'm using doesn't even allow a $ icon next to items that require money. But maybe I just haven't learned the versatility of the program yet.

The second image of starting a significant project is that of trying to get a hot air balloon up into the air - safely, with a minimum of wasted effort and everything needed for thevoyage in the basket. It's a lot of work laying out the balloon on the ground, just as it is laying out the parameters of the project. The hot air is one's own efforts and the energy (physical, psychic and financial) needed to lift the project off the ground. As every ballooner can assest, the period as the balloon starts to fill, until it's upright is the most critical and potentially dangerous.

Easy to get defeated when the balloon's just unwrapped on the ground; easy for the fabric of the balloon to catch fire and the project hit the ground in flames if energy is misdirected. Yet nothing looks more magnificant than a balloon or project is floating in the air and underway. It looks so effortless. Ha!

in t

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

With commitment comes clarity

One of the advantages of committing to a project is the sense of clarity this can bring. Because I'm going to Labrador next year and my energies are directed towards that, so much else that I could be doing is excluded - so I don't have to think about it. There's just no time to do anything on the B list of "what might be nice or fun".

For any project, and any adventure or journey to succeed, a number of aspects need to come together all at the same time. It's rather like a barn raising in which heavy timbers must be raised in a certain order and brought together at the same time. So far, my major headings are finance, research, outfitting the boat and book & other works. This time I've decide to try using a mind map to keep on top of all the aspects. Hopefully, this will allow me to keep a good idea of how the project is developing overall as well as the thousand and one details on which success really depends. In the past, in my journeys in the Amazon for example, I either got so engrossed in the details of outfitting and planning that I lost sight of the overall purpose and scope; or my head was so far in the clouds as to what I might accomplish that I forgot to pack matches (a potentially life-threatening omission in the rainforest!).

Stage one is to brain-storm the whole project in all aspects and then pinpoint the holes. I'll post the mind map by the end of the week.

I've called the coast of Labrador "North America's forgotten coast" and I'm already having trouble even getting a map of Labrador! Every single map includes Newfoundland as well, with Labrador as an inset. What is necessary is a large map just of Labrador itself. For some reason cartographers and oceanographers don't need to talk to one another. Maps don't have details of the sea bed and charts rarely have any useful information about the shoreline. So maps (of land) and charts (of the water) are essential.