Monday, April 11, 2022

Shot with plastic pellets- Stop TikTok's "Orbeez Challenge"

I was walking across my yard the other evening to get my SUP board from the shed when some random jerks drove by and sprayed me with an automatic plastic pellet gun. I'm not injured, but it was very upsetting and it left marks. I filed a report with the cops (physically harming someone against their will is battery), but since I didn't get the license plate of the car the guys probably won't get caught.

I've since learned that this is part of the TikTok "orbeeze challenge" to shoot strangers with pellets, film their distress, and derive sadistic pleasure and internet fame from making the video go viral. Of course this is happening on TikTok, the same shitty company that helped disseminate the "slap your teacher challenge" and the "eat laundry detergent pods" challenge. Apparently TikTok sees no moral problem with making money hosting videos of these dangerous and illegal things, rather than taking them offline and lifetime-banning and reporting the posters as they ought to.

I described my experience on social media, and it has been encouraging to see the near unanimous response that this is NOT an ok thing for people to do. I hope that will be translated to cracking down on it effectively.

Extending this to a general "hot take" on "what's wrong with the world these days?" I see this as a sign of a culture that has increasingly accepted the gross exploitation of its own people by companies and individuals as normal, maybe because of an obsession with money and fame at any cost. We need to nip this in the bud ASAP, both at the small scale level of individuals who do the dumb things, and at the large scale of the companies that enable and profit off it.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Good wavesailing session

 Hi blog readers. Although I don't post about watersports as much as I used to, I still do watersports. Windsurfing is still my favorite, despite the challenge of matching good wind, public beach parking, and time off work here in SW Florida. It all came together in late January, though, with a big cold front bringing NW winds and a good swell to Wiggins Pass State Park in Naples. Day one of the wind started with a dramatic switch from a warm southerly gale to strong, cool west winds; a switch accompanied by an unprecedented destructive outbreak of tornados in Lee County. I waited until the tornados were finished to go to the beach, and enjoyed some rocking conditions on my small 4.7 m squared sail and 83 liter "sinker" board. The next day was the really great one, though, with pretty strong wind from the NW and well-organized waves of about 10 seconds period. (That means there was some space between the waves, which helps for turning around, getting up to speed, etc.) I used my 5.7 Goya Banzai sail, and 106 liter Exocet Cross, with a 26 cm MUFin wave fin. I really feel comfortable on that gear and it's one of my favorite things to sail. I didn't do any super fancy things like trying flips or duck jibes, but I had some fun wave rides and little jumps. Here's the video:

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Context dependence, nuance, multiple contributing factors, and indirect effects

Anytime I look at what's going around on social media or popular media I end up cringing at the sort of black and white oversimplification of reality that it seems like 99% of us are guilty of 99% of the time. We always want yes or no answers, and good or bad classifications. However, in the real world the answer is usually "it's complicated," and good or bad is a matter of context and degree. 

Scoundrels seem to have become adept at using oversimplification to hide complicated, damning truths. Scoundrels are versatile, though. They are also adept at hiding simple truths by obfuscating with complexity. 

Be careful out there. 

Alternate version of the slide:

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas 2021

 Whew, it has been a real busy last 8 months or so of life. Lots of exciting but stressful work, spiced up with some unexpected challenges, anxiety about the coronavirus pandemic, environmental disasters, etc. Nevertheless I have a lot to be thankful for. Number one is my wife Rhonda, seen here where we're celebrating Christmas at her family's home in New Hampshire. 

I'm also thankful for our new dogs- little french bulldog rescues Violet and Petunia who are a lot of work but super loving. Here Petunia is in one of her favorite spots, sitting in my lab while I play computer games. Those EYES! <3 

And here's one with the whole gang together. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Foolishness vs. Fear Graph

 I'm not sure if I saw something like this before or thought it up from scratch, but I made the figure myself. 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Fanatic Skysup WS edition foiling video and review

On Friday I had a good windsurfing session on my newish hydrofoil windsurfing board, the Fanatic Sky Sup Foil WS. I filmed it with a GoPro camera mounted to the end of the boom. I was using a 4.7 sail, and the foil was a Slingshot Infinity 76 in the "B" configuration, set as far back in the finboxes as possible. The wind was around 15 knots from the SW.

I'm really liking this board now, although it was a major adjustment from the first board that I started foiling on; an older Exocet formula board. The Sky Sup is meant for maneuver-oriented sailing (as opposed to speed-oriented sailing), and is also meant to be useable without the sail for SUP foiling or with an inflatable wing for "wingfoiling." It's very short; 210 cm, and the mast track is placed very close to the front footstraps. The footstraps are near the centerline of the board rather than out near the edge like on a formula board. These aspects of the shape and the placement of the fittings required me to radically change my stance, sail position, and body weight distribution from what I'd gotten used to. The sail must be held with the mast straight up, or or even raked towards the nose a bit, rather than raked back towards the tail as it would be when sailing fast on a board with normal geometry. Controlling the altitude of flight is done more with direct foot pressure and less by applying weight to the mast base. Because of the sail rake angle you need to set the boom lower and/or use longer than normal harness lines if you want to hook in. You can actually sail it without a harness, though, since the forces in the sail are so much less than on a non-foiling windsurfer.

I've used the board with sails from 4.2 to 6.8 meters squared. It handles the 6.8 adequately, but the sweet spot is with smaller sails. Compared to the formula board, the Sky Sup is more particular about having the right sized sail for the wind. On the formula board you have some more leverage to keep the sail sheeted in and the elevation controlled when the sail is overpowered, whereas on the sky sup you just have to sheet way out. When underpowered on the formula board you can still get it foiling with some "stir" pumping of the sail that applies lateral pressure to the vertical part of the foil and translates into forward speed that allows liftoff. But that doesn't work as well on the sky sup, where pumping becomes more about "porpoising" the horizontal parts of the foil. As I learn to pump the sky sup better the liftoff threshold may end up being about the same as on the formula board, but for really gusty conditions I think the formula board may still be a more forgiving foil platform.

The most annoying thing about this new board versus my formula board is that they don't use the same "finbox" system for attaching the foil to the board. The sky sup uses a "pedestal" mount with four bolts that go into two parallel mast tracks and allow fore-aft adjustment of the foil position. The formula board uses a traditional, fixed-position "deep tuttle box" mount with two bolts that go down through the deck of the board. Further complicating things, the foil itself has different configurations placing the vertical attachment more forward or back on the fuselage, and I need it in "C" position for the formula board but "B" position for the sky sup. The whole change-over takes half an hour or so of sitting in the driveway unbolting and rebolting things, re-greasing the bolts, etc., so I kind of have to commit to whether I'm going to be using just the sky sup for a while or just the formula board for a while. I think what I'll do is use the sky sup in our "windy season," with 6.8 sail being the max and waiting for 10+ knots before attempting to use it, and I'll switch over the formula board around June when we get into the light summer winds where I need my 8.0 or 9.5 more often.

Surfski kayak downwind paddling session

Yesterday I got some video of paddling in the ocean on my Nelo 560 surfski kayak, with a GoPro camera mounted near the stern of the kayak. The mount should be a bit higher to get a better perspective, and my stroke technique needs a lot of work, but overall I'm pretty happy with how the video turned out. Also the session was a lot of fun. :)