Tag Archives: Psychology

Still Earning My Stripes

welcome mat

Welcome to Wayfarer World

Christina and Garrett are members of the Ventura Yacht Club. Garrett’s father had lived at the club since before he was married and started his family. Garrett was born, raised, and then had his own children and by fact of residency is the club’s most permanent fixture. Garrett has lived aboard his entire life. His son and daughter, one in the United States Marines, and the other an aspiring wildlife photographer and college student have known no other home than the families 40’ sailboat. Three generations have spent their lives right here. Garrett’s wife from the day they vowed understood the terms by which they would live their lives.

This was the stout stock and first souls we met walking the initial steps on terra firma in Southern California.

 

Varley's Gulf Star 50

Gulf Star 50 

Morro Bay Yacht Club

We were steered in the Ventura Yacht Club direction north of here while still in Morro Bay. A club member had been out harbor hopping up and down the coast with his ketch rigged Gulf Star 50. Refinements included a 600 gallons per day watermaker and Cummins turbo diesel for punching the 17.5 ton sailboat to weather. Talk about shipshape! The skipper spent some 320 hours reskinning, sound-dampening and fireproofing the engine room and workshop.

The Newport, Oregon native started out in the music business. Tom pulling the wild card from the deck of his life concocted a sound blended with sunshine and a less fully employed pace. For some years the gigs were fat and sweet, his music and touring was all upside, but as the wheel turned the smoke filled one night stands became more grind than grand he finally closed the backstage door for the last time.

The Evergreen State College alumni had no more stomach for the long hops and short stops. Today Tom, wife, dog and sailboat devote the lion-share of their days exploring the Channel Islands. A professional mariner, Master licensed, Tom hires out now and then to deliver large fine yachts from one port to another. Tom’s part bard and poet and one-hundred percent hard scrabble. According to the dog in his life Tom Varley is something more than a ordinary-run-of-the-mill good man. Tom’s dog was canine blessed having partnered with a real human being. Dogs are never wrong about character.

Tom's Dog

A Real Sweetheart This One…

I spoke with two licensed ocean sailors from the Ventura Yacht Club. Including Tom Varley the three all had distinct opinions about how to approach an ocean passage. Jeff, a delivery skipper, who along and his wife have sailed for personal pleasure to Mexico and across the Pacific. Their Passport 40 is a capable circumnavigating sailboat. Passport owners possess seafaring confidence. As the veteran offshore sailor explained he’s got a plan when the weather gets heavy, it’s a plan he’s tested and proved to work. The anvil willed mariner invited me aboard. He demonstrated how to shorten sail fast. We went over the tactic aboard my boat and where modification and changes might make more sensible and efficient work of this task. Smaller sails are necessary for higher wind speeds. Going to weather (upwind) in 30 knots for days on end without strain to boat or crew is necessary. Like most other blue water veterans Jeff possesses a Darwinian sensibility. Survival of the fittest comes to mind while examining his hands, beard and brains. He is nobodies fool and goes to sea intending to make it back to port come what may.

Weather Fax

Weather Fax Machine

The other gentleman I chewed on time and crackers with sailed a C&C 37’. Lighter displacement, larger mast, a spirited racer/cruiser design- one of the most popular sailboats of its era. I had spoken about ocean sailing and this yacht club member quickly disabused me of this misstatement. I had not been ocean sailing I had been coastal sailing. Even though he had sailed his boat to Mexico, had for decades sailed to the Channel Islands by his reckoning he had never been far enough off the coast to describe his experience as ocean sailing. There were two reasons; first, a boat and crew setup for ocean sailing is prepared to meet a different set of challenges. Second, an ocean sailing boat because of the vast distances back to land can’t get off the water and escape the forces of heavy weather. The club member explained he didn’t mind facing difficulty for part of a day but he couldn’t stomach the notion of having to ride out a storm for day upon night and day. Below the surface the man tamped down on the swamp of his emotions. There wasn’t much more he could say. The club member had that look behind his eyes. The expression was something of a game face. Sailors are not the type to bellyache (with one notable exception…). The coastal sailor knew what he was up for and not up for and that was his reality. Coastal sailing was plenty. Enough said.

Tenacious

Naming the Unspeakable

Smooth sailing… that’s the aim. The part that isn’t so smooth, the part that tests character, sets its mark right there beneath your ribcage— between the “trust and know and doubt and fear…” In some instances the distance between is as tight a spot as you are likely ever to face. Sailors have to account for the mettle, the God given spine they inherit. A sailboat will tease the unavoidable fact of your fear right out of you. A rough day at sea is truth serum. I got some big time respect for small craft offshore warnings and plenty to spare. Feel free to borrow mine, there’s buckets more where that came from.

Times wasting mate. There’s a head to repair, bilge pump to replace,  a new rigging splice to make— a chart to study. Smooth sailing mates… smooth sailing

Edited Red Star

Two Hundred Miles Downwind

Morro Bay Amel Ketch

Tranquility as harbor

Coffee, always hot black coffee. No cream and no sugar, no thank you. Still even with a cup of fresh brew the skipper and crew were both bone tired. Anchor was hoisted at the top of the day. Deeper water was found as we dodged the kelp taking a course south and west . The jib was unfurled . We set course for Morro Bay twenty miles south.

Here would be our first chance to set foot back on land for more than just fuel. The harbor in Morro Bay would be the boat’s keeper. Her now worn crew needed to stand down. After two days we needed to tie the boat to a dock and once relieved of duty not consider for one second about the change of weather or state of the ocean’s surface. Shore side leave was the order of the day.

We docked at the Morro Bay Yacht Club. I dropped the radar reflector and hoisted the burgee of the Emeryville Yacht Club. Sweet Seas and crew were welcomed guests. We showered and shaved. Down the Embarcadero along the waterfront we took a stool at Windows on the Water. I drank one martini before and a glass of red wine with my fresh shucked oysters, garden salad and chunks of sliced bread. I was back aboard on my bunk and asleep before ten bells had sounded.

Richard Santos Best

Richard Santos- Longtime friend and crew

In the morning the ketch rigged vessel Spirit came alongside the pier. Her captain Tom Valery hailing from Ventura had come from a mooring ball to the dock to spend the day cleaning his 50’ Gulf Star. The one time Newport, Oregon native and musician now attended to an evolving set of new careers. The witty eyed sailor had plotted a post high pressure-high stakes musical career for the chance to go drifting from port to port in pursuit of his own next chapter.

There was a weekly Wednesday night barbecue at the club. Beef, turkey, salmon and veggie burgers were on offer. Six bucks got you all the fixings plus homemade side dishes whipped up by the clubs talented cooks. Conversation ran the gamut from dragging anchor to near misses in dense fog. The sailors with real sea time logged could not be worried about the inherent risks that come with going to sea.

vest

Skin in the Game

Seafarers understand the compact they’ve entered into. There is not much else to say. What choice does a mariner have? By my reckoning there are some risks in life that are best categorized as necessary. You stick your neck out because you’ll never live with yourself if you don’t. Rough weather is not much worse than a bad marriage, traffic citation or a beat up pickup truck with a broken starter. They’ll all make you cuss, drink whiskey and pile on more regret to the pile of mistakes you’ve already been carrying to this fated point in your life.

A yacht club is a collection of stalwart women and men who have some notion that a boat affords them a chance to take a chose shave with their life. There are all sorts of distracting dreams and destinations in the mix, but regardless of the aim or final port there remains the matter of surviving the getting there, even relishing that passage, making the voyage with skill and grace no matter the circumstances. Somewhere in the thing we know as sailing is a soul who needs to see an end to putting off the unavoidable.

gulls and seals

Time spent ocean sailing over the course of my thirty-eight years has been low. Most of my sailing has been in protected waters. I’ve done enough time offshore to have seen plenty. This stint is my longest yet. We’ve arrived in Morro Bay having now logged two hundred miles. Now we are just more than halfway. By my count I’ll have near nine hundred sea miles under my sailboats keel by the time I arrive back at my home port. By that time I’ll have a more intimate view of what my boat and what parts of my insides I’ve not flushed out into the open prior to this challenge. Sailing the coast of California turns out to be both a beautiful and hard won task.

More…  Edited Red Star

Notes from Near the Last Page

Story on the Front Burner

Women of the Oak Savannah’s, my fourth novel has started and ended my day for what will soon be two years. I stand on the edge of the end of my work of seventy-five thousand carefully chosen words.

Hot Spring Honeymoon, my previous novel, a sexual farce was in the wheelhouse of my native mind. This current work descends into the politics and economics of a more ruthlessly ambitious place and people. The story is set in the idyllic pastoral Golden State splendor of the much overwhelmed Napa Valley.

I had gone to Calistoga looking for a story, and as wildfire and fate struck, I found a billionaire funded world renowned globalized tourist destination being crushed to enterprise death by an influx of people coming to lay claim to a piece of this once unspoiled earth that no longer can exist under the current circumstances.

Four hours east and much like Yosemite National Park an endless stream of automobiles crawl bumper to bumper into a preciously small overcrowded valley. The once vast and open American West has been corralled and branded. There are still empty places, still small wineries just not here. Here is not small. Here is not quiet. Here is a place in flux.

Makes for one hell of a story so long as you have the stomach for oak trees being cut down, groundwater being pumped dry, every agricultural chemical known to winegrowing being sprayed from north to south, east to west over every acre of arable land.

There are just too many of us and too few acres for them. That pretty much sums the plot up. Never intended to do a full double-twisting somersaulting tower dive into the realm of the American environmental literary greats. I didn’t mean to go all freaking Thoreau on you. No matter how much I never shave my chance of looking like John Muir is slim to nil to none.

So, here I am. I imagined at the beginning perhaps a quaint quasi-romantic Nancy Meyers bit of romantic fluff emerging  from the laboratory of my writing desk. No, not this time. Here we go up against the fat-cats and bulldozers, the multinationals and the overzealous entrepreneurial pterodactyls. I have set down in long fiction form a story about a pregnant woman with her whole life in front of her fighting to save what remains of a place she has come to love.

Next time a comedy….

Passion Play

Feb08 021aaa

Tailgate Party for One in the Middle of Nowhere

You got to have passion man. You have to feel it down to the bone. Nothing gets done up in the head.

The near-enemy of passion is greed. “I don’t want a seat at the table, I want the table.” I am quoting a banker hankering to deregulate the banks AGAIN. Misguided passion but at least he has a sense of entitlement.

Stripping tens of millions of citizens to access to health insurance turned out to be just too damn hardhearted even for a group of politicians with blood pressure problems. It turns out that after seven years of bellyaching they were really only kidding.

I stayed at the Mayflower Hotel in DC a few years back. FDR penned his inaugural speech from a room on the floor I stayed on. Well, turns out in April of 2016 that Paul Manafort as soon as he became Trump’s campaign manager dumped the National Press Club for the Mayflower Hotel. There he arranged for meetings with peeps that could promise Trump everlasting royalties on oil. If elected all Trump had to do was lift sanctions and like that the spigot is turned on.

I don’t know what news you are reading? My feed is decidedly spicier than I could ever have hoped for. The way I see it the entire passion thing is going a bit off the rails. Moneygrubbing has a short lifespan.

Hot out of your mind for the love of your life is the kind of sustaining lunacy that can curve the arc of history. Invent a battery, put up a solar panel, buy a wind machine, love your children, kiss your wife, and walk your dog like you really mean it. That dog knows. You can’t fool your dog. Fetch is your litmus test. Want to play? Show me what you got.

 

How’s That Change Thing Working Now?

good-luck

SMOKING HOT BLAME YOU CAN BELIEVE IN

Signed up for the National Park Service going rogue Facebook page this morning. I owe much of my souls most healed aspects to the unfettered, unfiltered quiet time the parks have gifted to my life.

To imagine what we need to do is liquidate these national treasures is to fail to take up our responsibility to leave future generations a glimpse of the paradise we are all born into.

It seems bizarre to me to stand up and shout out in anger that we are going to sell these assets off, exploit their natural resources and squander these last untrammeled parts of our nation.

I can tell you without looking at specific polls that nobody wants the parks sold off, defunded or opened up to mining and logging. There is no majority advocating to take healthcare away from citizens. There is no clamoring among the restless masses for corporate tax cuts. We don’t want to start a war with China. We want social security and Medicare to be there for all Americans. Vast swaths of the population want the EPA to keep our water pure and air clean. There is nowhere in this country citizens urging Congress to repeal Dodd-Frank.

But,  if you vote for people and ignore what they say, what they stand for? Because you don’t believe they would ever do what they say they are going to do? That’s just off the rails. We’re in the midst of a climate crisis. We have work to do. Instead a feeble, disorganized, incompetent group of mostly Caucasian’s with money, have gone to Washington to discover they haven’t a clue how to run anything as complex and as vital as the government of the United States of America. They are in total chaos. Spare our National Parks the trouble.

 

Slimeballing, Suckerpunching Misdirection Games

Plutocrat Car

The Butt of a Bad Joke

Jack Welsh coined the phrase  “shareholder value.” Two pieces of the puzzle tilted in capitals favor from this four decade ago event. First, was an emphasis upon the share price. The second was the compensation packages for management.

Washington was not an innocent bystander. Tax cuts, trade policy, regulation all favored capital over labor. Unions were busted. Entrepreneurs were elevated to the mythic status of being job creators.

As a result income inequality is at an all time high.

Some will argue that taxing the very wealthiest of us and spending that money on programs to assist the other 99% of the population is this thing called “income redistribution.” A vocal well paid minority is opposed to this.

We increased shareholder value, we provided good products to customers, we ran executive compensation up 400% but we didn’t compensate labor.

You slime people as anti-business? That is not true. Most of us likes to do good business. Or,you can take your profits to Washington and buy more favors, cut more deals, or elect more politicians to your cause and keep your fingers crossed and hope.

But, one way or another. You either begin disbursing more of your profits to labor voluntarily or you will be forced by pitchfork politics to surrender more of your enterprises profits in the form of taxes.

It is capitalism finding a healthy balance. Our democracy is threatened by all of this. Middle class wages decline, the middle class shrinks and pretty soon we don’t live in a country we even recognize. Doesn’t that feel like what’s been happening? Isn’t that the truth of the way things are now?

If you oppose redistribution you should have been yelling at the top of your lungs while the rest of this was going on right under your own nose. And now that the bill has come due don’t insist there can be no new taxes, don’t pretend the banks don’t need any further regulating, or that the Boards of Directors of a publicly traded entity have treated labor fairly. They had a duty to balance these varied competing forces and provide our society with a mutually profitable outcome. They failed and for not the first time in history they’ll be taxed into compliance.

Eventually the bill comes due. Welcome to life…

The Mystics Guide to Pointlessness

Light Show in Atlanta
Blinded by the light…

“She’s perfect, and you’re perfect, the whole thing is perfect even though you know there is no such thing as perfect and that’s perfect… It’s Fukushima with a happy ending.”

I use the Eastern psychological model when planning a novel. It is simple. Characters can be described as acting in a wholesome and skillful way, or they can act in unwholesome and unskillful ways. Fortunately for the sake of drama most of us make the simple mistakes that make for such enjoyable reading.

The Eastern model of mind allows me to scrub the psychological field of play of all sorts of useless and misleading terms that seem to come overloaded with baggage I don’t need my characters forced into carrying.

My characters inhabit a world of virtue and vice. They lapse into this or rise up to that. We don’t need to have this mysterious world of the unconscious mind of a person accounted for. Those dim corners seldom carry the narrative to much besides confusion.

Most severe wounds leave unspeakable chaos in their wake and untangling it is flirting with pointlessness.

In the world that I live in people succeed and fail all day long in quite ordinary ways. They run red lights. They might lust for someone. Perhaps they don’t offer compassion where they see suffering. We each have some degree of capacity to help or not to help.

A good person isn’t a perfect person. They may well be an awful person who happened into their better nature for a moment in time. We live across a continuum of skillful and wholesome means. There are no endings. There is really more of this incessant doing that keeps happening. The phenomenal is quite exquisite and complexity astounding, but the fewer the brushstrokes illustrating consciousness’s mystery the better. I like the way that sounds even if it is not always true.

Eastern psychology is smudged with a divine simplicity- this is the mystic laughing, it is revelation, the magic of mind unmasked. The spiritual explorer’s for centuries now have traveled into the deepest parts of inner space and have returned with the ultimate fact about the nature of mind. It is at its essence quite simple. Eastern psychologies framework is not complicated. It is based upon how the mind actually works. Imagine that…

 

“How does the world’s greatest lover stay on top of his game? By asking his partners to lie down on the bed first…”

Hot Spring Honeymoon Front Cover
Click and Get a Laugh

 

His depth and wisdom give the reader a surgically precise but comic look into the relationship between the sexes.

 We loved it.  Upon deeper reflection, “Everyman” merges with “Everywoman”  to become “Everyone” in a small, dusty desert “Everytown”.