Archive for March, 2009
Honda came back into Formula 1 in 2006 and proceeded to pump millions of dollars into a team which managed one race win but very little else. In 2007 they hired Ross Brawn who decided to limit development on the 2008 car and concentrate on developing a new car for the new regulations in 2009.
The 2008 season was therefore a disaster for Honda, but by the end of the year they had a car for 2009 which had had much more development than anyone else, a couple of decent drivers, and the genius of Ross Brawn. So of course they did the sensible thing and withdrew from the sport.
Along comes Mercedes and sticks their engine into the back of a car developed with Honda’s money; and the team duly takes first and second places in Australia last weekend. Presumably some sacrificial swords are being sharpened back in Japan.
Jenson Button, who won the race, made much of how tough life had been over the past few months. Don’t feel too sorry for him. He has made an estimated sixty million pounds out of F1 already, and has recently acquired a Japanese/Argentinian lingerie model as a girlfriend.
I am stoked. You are stoked. He/she is stoked. It’s a slang word much beloved of the surfing community and when you are stoked you are feeling the bliss that only a heavy session of surfing can bring.
It’s not something we say around the windsurfing club, not because we don’t feel “stoked”, but because most of us are European and instead say things like “Gosh, that was fun; now I need a cup of tea.”
But if you are American you are quite comfortable to announce that you are stoked on a regular basis. And so it was that Craig and I discovered a quite different style of communication when we discussed a potential magazine article with an American publisher.
Subscribers may recall a trip on SUPs down the river Kwai last year. It was a good story and we had some good photos, so we contacted Standup Paddle magazine to see if they were interested.
Were they interested? Much more than that. They were “stoked” to be working with us, they were “psyched” by the photos, the text that Craig supplied was “awesome”. We were “cool dudes”. The flow of inappropriate superlatives never stopped and it was hard to know how to respond. Should we profess to be stoked and psyched as well? Was this opportunity to have our story in such a prestigious magazine awesome?
Well, yes, but of course our natural reserve restricted us. What we should have replied with was “Hey dude, it’s awesome that you want to work with us, we are totally stoked and, like, psyched”, but we reduced this to a rather feeble “Thanks so much, jolly good”.
Anyway, a couple of months of awesome dudeness from America and stilted responses from us, and we had a page of photos and text ready for publication. The magazine features awesome (see, I can do it if I try) photos of icons such as Laird Hamilton dropping down a monster wave face on the North Shore in Hawaii, whereas all we were offering were some pics of some normal people of varying fitness floating down a river. So we appreciated that this was not something for which we could expect any form of monetary compensation, other than some good publicity for the sport in Thailand.
Which means we needed some copies of the magazine. Sadly, distribution in Thailand had stopped once the distributors discovered that people were not prepared to pay 775 baht for a glossy magazine featuring photos of people on boards. So, instead of money, we asked the publisher to send us several copies of the magazine so we could distribute amongst the participants and the manufacturer of our SUP boards who is based in Thailand. We felt this was a fair price for the photos and article we had contributed.
And indeed the publisher said he would be psyched to send us some copies, and a package arrived yesterday; containing just one copy; which presumably we will have to circulate around all the people who need to see it. I told the publisher that I was jolly pleased to receive one copy, but what happened to the several copies he had initially promised us? “Budget constraints, dude.”
The Beaches development near Bang Saray is keen to emphasise that it is located conveniently close to Pattaya. Check the map, looks like you could easily walk from The Beaches into Jomtien:
It’s bollocks. Pattaya Park to Bang Saray is at least a twenty minute drive, and that’s if you get a move on and are lucky with all the traffic lights and don’t mow down any motorbikes en route.
Here’s the map superimposed onto Google Earth. Notice the rather extensive piece of coastline which has conveniently been missed out from the map of The Beaches.
The Beaches appears to be an ambitious, quality development. But if they can’t even be honest about the location……
On the road south out of Pattaya there is a “floating market” which has proved extremely popular. The car parks are always busy, particularly on a weekend.
On the other side of the road, heading back into Pattaya, is another attraction which, judging by the car park, is not doing so well. This is The Village Shopping Centre:
In fact the contents of the car park rather overstated the popularity as I appeared to be the only visitor on a Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t hard to see why. Although the surrounding gardens are quite attractive….
….the shopping blocks contain outlets which hardly encourage a trip out from Pattaya. There are two huge shops selling nothing but swimming costumes, a handful of restaurants selling the usual pizzas and burgers (including a Fatboy’s Diner which is already up for sale. Form a queue) and an assortment of other outlets offering nothing that hasn’t been seen elsewhere. But if you have an idea for a shop that will bring in the customers, there are still plenty of units available.
The whole place is faintly depressing and has the air of failure hanging over it. This reality is a long way removed from the recently published puff piece in the Real Estate magazine. According to the magazine, The Village is an “authentic lifestyle destination.” Which is different from an unauthentic lifestyle destination. It’s also different from a scattering of sad empty outlets in a complex which will be shut down in the next few months.
An assertion in a recent post that I was sailing faster than the wind resulted a response from Camberley, riding on a self-confessed wave of pedantry, that such a thing could not be possible.
There then followed a brief but vigorous exchange of e-mails where I pointed him to various websites which explained the phenomenon. Being Camberley, and possessed of an enormous brain, he decided that the mathematical formulas in Wikipedia were flawed, but he did accept the principle.
Which is just as well, for the news this morning is of wind-powered vehicle which has just set a new land speed record of 126.1 mph (64,700 carrots); powered by a wind of 30 mph. Congratulations to the engineer who was, of course, British.
More info and photos here if you are interested.
The property developers around Pattaya are notorious for devising slogans for their developments which are crass, grammatically flawed and meaningless. “Your luxury home in luxury lifestyle dream persuasion” is an example, even if I did just make it up.
The Mon Phoenix development team clearly spent many a long night writing suitable words up on a whiteboard and then trying to string them together into a phrase which would tempt discerning investors to part with their cash.
In the end, they gave up and just printed the words on a banner.
And very charming words they are too; sufficient I am sure to tempt people to lay down a deposit, especially after they have driven up the environmentally aware and rustic access road (aka a muddy track) and discovered the emotion and elegance reflected in the site.
It was warm too.
So you find yourself in a mini-van with eleven other slightly sweaty individuals; shut together in a metal box for several hours of travel. How to survive the journey?
Listen to some music?
Read a book?
If I found myself incarcerated in such a vehicle then I think I would slash my wrists. Or sing “My Way.”
If you have access to UK TV, you may have seen the “Grand Designs” series. Each episode covers a project to construct or refurbish a house; and the project is always ambitious, risky and usually hugely expensive.
Those involved have usually made some money in London and wish to escape to the country.
“Look Fiona, a pile of bricks that used to be a shithouse. Let’s spend half a million pounds and turn it into a five bedroom house.”
Ya Nigel, let’s do it! And I’ll have a baby in the middle of the project just to make things more complicated”
And they do (build the house and have a baby). It often takes more than a year and the complications are many (just the house, not the baby), but the end result is usually a masterpiece of design and craftsmanship and I am always deeply impressed. It takes foresight, design flair and considerable nerve to pull off a project like this, all attributes I have in very limited supply.
Which is why I am struggling with a table.
Our back room used to be a bedroom until we took out the bed, blocked off the access to the bathroom, and stuffed it full of computers, books and crap. It is now known as the computer room, although “junk store” would describe it better. And something needs to be done.
For a year or so I have had a plan to empty the room, rip out the wood floor which is the worse for wear after suffering three floods following water leaks, and install some elegant furniture to replace the assorted plastic and laminated follies that currently inhabit the space.
Project progress was slow for many months, limited to no more than an hour looking at floor tiles. Then progress stopped after I broke my back. But now there really is no excuse, especially as I told she who must be obeyed that I would refurbish the room before I bought my Mac Pro. Then I bought my Mac Pro; and the room still looks as if something large and angry has recently laid it to waste.
The key component of the new room, at least in my eyes, the computer table. This is to be three metres long (give or take a few centimetres) and, through a miracle of design, will hide all the cables whilst providing an ideal platform for am iMac and a Mac Pro with two monitors. And so I have been “designing” it.
Naturally I managed to put off the start of the design process by insisting I have the necessary tools for the job. This involved a trip to the top floor of the Friendship supermarket which is a an Aladdin’s cave of stationery supplies. However, this particular Aladdin has a drink and drugs problem which results in products being scattered at random across hundreds of square metres of floor space. So it took me half an hour to find a ruler, and another half hour to find a plastic setsquare, which was hidden away behind some coloured paper for no other reason than to annoy shoppers like me. And more time for some squared paper and 2B pencils etc etc.
So, back from the cave of delights with my bag of goodies and I lay them out on the table. Now what? Better measure the room I think, so I seek out my tape measure and, aided by the cats who think it is a game, I make some measurements. According to my calculations, one wall is four centimetres longer than the opposite wall; but it’s close enough and I put the difference down to cat-induced error. I plot the room on my squared paper and stand back to admire the results.
In fact I stand so far back that I find myself in another room playing on the Xbox, and it is several days before I return to my master plan. In the meantime, she who must be obeyed has been impressed that I am “making progress”, progress that I have hinted at by the simple act of moving the pencils to different positions every day.
So, finally to the table. There will be a wooden (or stainless steel) supporting structure, and the top will be marble. Or granite. Or glass. There will be cable trays underneath to hide the miles of cabling that accompany any computer installation. There will be drawers somewhere in which vital accessories can be stored. There will be holes for cables to poke through. It will be flush with the wall, or maybe there will be a wood surround. There will be accompanying shelves for printers and NAS drives and scanners and routers, all of which are differing shapes and come with power supplies. It will be so high and so deep and….. so many bloody things to think about that I put down my recently sharpened pencil and sighed deeply. Bet it was easier to plan a moon mission than design this table.
Today I went to the masonry shop hoping that they would limit my options.
“You want a three metre by seventy five centimetre slab of granite? No problem, ready in three days, although it will weigh several tonnes and you will have to pick it up yourself. And you expect your carpenter to build a frame that will be millimetre perfect to accomodate it……”
They sniggered. I whimpered.
Instead of a computer room I am now wondering if I am at least capable of designing a shithouse out of a pile of bricks. Maybe she who must be obeyed would not notice the difference. Less cables too.
Certainly some wind today; but a wind that decided to amuse itself by changing direction and speed at a whim. Couple with a large swell, everyone was reporting unpleasant conditions and I decided to wimp out and just try and take some photos.
With the strong wind being well offshore, there were few chances, but Craig obliged by jumping his board just after leaving the beach, much to the consternation of a nearby swimmer.
Otherwise, it was shooting straight into the sun at distant boards, although the sea does look spectacular in this light.
Every year I receive a letter from the pension arm of my previous employer, advising me of the increase in my pension for the following year.
Even though my pension is paid is sterling, it arises from years of sweat and toil (aka lazing about) in foreign countries; in my case mainly Asia. So it would be reasonable to assume that any increase would take account of global conditions.
And so I tore open the envelope today and looked forward to a message along the lines of:
Given the current pathetic performance of sterling in world markets, and the clear inflation in your part of the world, we think it is only reasonable to increase your pension by 35%. Please spend it wisely.
Love and kisses,
Your pension buddies
Instead what I got was:
According to our calculations (which are a secret and are based on the cost of items that do not increase in price), UK inflation was 0.9% last year. Your pension has therefore increased by that amount, which will be enough for a small packet of wafer biscuits every month. Eat them slowly.
See you next year sucker,
Your pension nazis
Personally, I blame Billy who continues to work for the organisation but is clearly not pulling his weight and propping up the pension fund to the extent required to fund my hobbies.
Get your finger out Billy, or at least send me some more biscuits.