June 20, 2003

opt-in, opt-out

Work is crazy. Flat out, hands down, rockin’ and knockin’ crazy. We’re trying to set up our online shop with a leading e-commerce site, and just about nothing is going right. The products won’t upload. Now the products will upload but their images and descriptions won’t display. Now the product images have slid their thin little bodies into every crevice on the page. Now the duplicate products won’t delete. Now the products won’t upload again.

It is absolute mayhem, and so far all we have in their database is fourteen watches. In the next month we’re going to have thousands of windsurfing products. I keep myself sane through the whole thing by talking to myself, which drives my co-workers crazy.

In a noble attempt to stem the tide of error messages received from the leading e-commerce site, our programmer gave me a large red button on our back-end maintenance page. Pressing this button purges the system of all products. Because of a confused assigning of numbers to the options available on the page, there were three number 6’s. The large red button was the third 6.

I call it Option 666.

Our programmer has since fixed the numbering system, but I still call the big red button by name. I think Option 666 would be a great name for a band. I think I’ll start it. I think I’ll make t-shirts.

I think I’ll go windsurfing.

June 19, 2003

cacti genocide

I think we’re gonna gut this baby and start from scratch. Don’t panic; all content will remain, and all cowboy-esque entries will continue to be written, but pretty soon we’re gonna look like the Internet circa 1995.

And when we come back? Internet circa 2003 with Style circa 1895. XHTML, CSS and PHP with lassos, cacti and shiny six-shooters.

June 17, 2003

five times before you hit the ground

Out here there are landscapes that can swallow a man, whole. If I drive a mere twenty minutes out of Hood River I can be on deserted logging trails; single lane paved (or gravel) roads that coil through the mountains. If something bad happens when I’m out there, say I hit a deer (which I’ve seen), get a wheel stuck in a washout (which I’ve driven through) or run out of gas (which I almost did on the drive out here), I’m walking home. I don’t carry a phone, and even so there’s no cellular service in a cathedral of granite.

Usually when I run off on my adventures I forget to grab a map, which historically has been my favorite book, the Rand McNally 2003 U.S. Road Atlas. It would be wise for me to grab more detailed maps of Oregon and Washington, and perhaps the Mount Hood National Forest, and put them in the Dragon’s glove compartment. It would be wise to leave a note to my roommates detailing my travels. “Went to Lost Lake: If I don’t return, avenge death.”

These are all good ideas, but I find through the years I have grown complacent with my physical surroundings. When I lived in Duluth I never thought twice about running up the Shore for a little jaunt, as no matter where I ended up I was never more than two miles away from something. No ill can befall the soul in the cradle of the Midwest, and I have transplanted this attitude upon my Pacific Northwest existence.

But there are dangers out here. Mount Hood kills people. Mount Adams kills people. Rainier kills people. I spent some time hanging out with Dedrich and his family last night (I was walking from my house to Little Florida and when I rounded the corner of 22nd Street, someone kept calling my name. Turns out these guys live right around the corner from my house, and had grilled food and salad and ice cream that needed to be eaten) and they had all lost friends to the mountains. It is rare you find someone who has lost loved ones to the BWCA.

Today as I was practicing my waterstarts I watched some barges chug along the Washington side of the River. One kiter got particularly close to a barge, which sent the operator into a fit of honking. Since the operators don’t have ten-foot megaphones for broadcasting obscenities they need to make do with other forms of forceful communication. I also noticed that they paint smiley faces on the sides of barges, too. I think they’re all masochists.

Trains run on both sides of the Gorge, and trains run often on both sides

of the Gorge. Kyle told a story about a friend of his who got caught between two trains cooking in opposite directions. While the draft kicked up from all that motion has to be scary enough, this poor guy got stuck in there while holding his kite.

While derigging today I watched a snake slither under my car. My first reaction was to try to catch it, but then I remembered some blurbs I read for a few popular launch sites in the Gorge: “Dangers: Strong current, strong winds, train tracks, rattlesnakes.” I’m used to garter snakes and other animals that don’t want to kill me. This particular brand of snake was brown and didn’t have a rattle, but I wouldn’t put it past these guys to have their rattles surgically removed just so they can hang out with the in-crowd of non-lethal snakes. They’re called snakes for a reason.

And summer has just begun. Be careful out there, kiddos.

June 16, 2003

recompile your kernel

Been working hard. Real hard. I turned in my timecard yesterday, and was chatting with Coach about the sheer amount of work being spilled into the website. He asked if they could start calling me Da Man around the shop if I finally got this puppy whooped into shape. I said I would prefer Da Geek or something, even though most people at the shop call me Da Burglar.

Liz came up and slapped down her timecard right next to mine.

“Dane, you see this. 82 hours of work in two weeks! What are you complaining about, with your 76? That’s nothing. That’s nothing!”

I flipped my card over, revealing 26 additional hours spent working at the Hook.


Even with that, I’ve still managed to get out and have some adventures. Two days ago after work I went out on the far-side of the Hook and practiced waterstarting for an hour or so. Yesterday the wind in the River was fairly light so I finally got a chance to sail out of the Event Site, which is the biggo hangy-hangout on the Hood River part of the Columbia. I didn’t have enough wind (or enough sail or really enough skill) to waterstart, so I just uphauled and got out into the River. I went out and back three times (which, for a river that’s a mile wide, adds up to a decent session), got into the harness a couple times, and had a good time just lazin’ about in some light wind conditions.

What’s more? I actually ended up DOWNWIND, which is the opposite direction of DOWNRIVER, which is the opposite direction that Rowena wants me to go.

Progress? You bet your ill-fitting Speedo with your hands held behind your back and your unit thrust forward.

Let’s see, what else, over the last couple days?

I started figuring out the steamy underbelly that is Hood River’s covert technological society. There’s a lot of brainpower in this town, a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of computer programmers/designers/coders, that hide in their home offices or above Andrew’s Pizza or beneathe the sidewalks. Something can happen, here. My spider-sense is tingling.

Met Bruce Peterson, the man whose name is all over my Sailworks 4.4 Revolution sail of ill-fame. There are pictures of this man at The Hatchery, thirty feet in the air. These pictures are typically found in Windsurfing Magazine, shot by Eric Sanford. Eric Sanford is an assistant editor of Windsurfing Magazine. The head editor of Windsurfing Magazine spends his summers in White Salmon, right across the River from ol’ Hoody town.

It was never a really big part of my life (for some reason I never caught the aviation bug), but I keep finding myself talking airplanes with customers down at the Hook. One guy studied at University of North Dakota – Grand Forks. Another guy is building a RV-8 in a hangar at The Dalles (my uncle is building an RV-6A in Minnetonka), and is sticking a 300 horse engine in it. One family flies from Idaho to The Dalles every couple weeks, picks up their van that they store in the airport parking lot, and drives down to Hood River to windsurf for the weekend.

“Our daughter has been travelling a lot for the last couple years. Right now she’s in Hawaii, and before that she was all over the East Coast for a year. She’s taken to a gypsy lifestyle.”

“You mean she steals children and plays the accordion?”

“… Dane, you’re a weird one.”

June 14, 2003

bi-lingual uppity mixxity

My new roommate’s name is Motoshi. He’s from Japan, and has taken the next couple months off from his job at Toyota to travel the world and kiteboard. He came to Hood River through Maui, and once he’s served his tour-of-duty here he’s off to New Zealand. He bought a bicycle, and every day he slings up all his kiting gear and heads down to Kite Beach to rip it up.

Motoshi doesn’t speak very much English, but he speaks infinitely more English than I do Japanese so that’s just fine. We get by very well through mimicry, imitation, signs and basic words. Some things in the house we have remembered to explain to Motoshi, such as the dishwasher, the grill, cheese and Zip Loc bags. Other things we have neglected.

On a top shelf in our pantry we keep various household cleaners and cooking sprays. The can of Pam and the can of Pledge are right next to each other. Aside from the names slapped on the side, the cans are nearly indistinguishable. What’s more, neither brand name is revealing in what the product’s purpose is, even for a veteran Englishatarian.

Today I made grilled cheese, and Motoshi watched as I grabbed a can from the top shelf and sprayed the skillet. “Oh, OK,” he said. I put the Pam back where I got it, but then hesitated as I considered moving it to a move intuitive place; a place that didn’t house poisonous cleansers in similar packaging.

“M’eh,” I decided.

I left the arrangement the way I found it, figuring it would be really funny one day. And tragic. But funny.

June 12, 2003

fibbity fobbity foo

Things have been a bit crazy around here, lately. I’ve been working on updating the shop’s website, and whoo-whee, there’s a mess of code if I’ve ever seen one. All the HTML was brutally wrangled in Dreamweaver, locked away in nested-table isolation and proprietary Fireworks jiggy-jaggy. Trodding through the code was like picking through spiderwebs in a minefield. One minor slip-up, one little tag removed before its time had come, and the entire thing would disappear in the fury of a thousand suns.

But progress has been made. I’m slipping more and more design into the cascading stylesheet and slowly liberating the tortured HTML. The site falls apart in Netscape Navigator 4.73, which was released in November of 2001 and doesn’t support web standards, but looks beautiful in Opera 7 and other browsers that do offer support. Unfortunately all the database work is coded in ASP, which hurts my open-source ideals and prevents me from using PHP work-arounds to create virtual URLs (an address that resembles “www.aregularizedendeavor.com/about/” instead of “www.aregularizedendeavor.com?VendorURI=1354;CategoryID=09.asp”). Also, the database is all done in Access, when the programmer and I both would much rather see it all done in open-source MySQL.

But really, what am I doing? What’s my business mucking around with web standards and Section 508 and XHTML certification and W3 validation? Forward compatibility and compliance with current and future browsers, for one thing. Accessibility for alternative media and those with disabilities for another. Add a little dash of obsession, and I find myself wanting our shop to set a little standard for good-faith web design in the windsurfing community. Most windsurfing companies have icky websites (Flash intros, sloppy code, poor accessability for those using alternative means of navigation, confusing and inconsistent navigation) and I find that to serve a slight disservice to the sport. A website should no longer be a company’s afterthought, but a necessary facet of their interaction with the public.

With little pre-existing online infrastructure, could the windsurfing community be in a unique position to become one of the first few social and economic networks to fully support web standards? Big words for a little boy from Minnesota, but right now I’m smack dab in the nexus of the windsurfing world. Such a thing would be cool, and I can dream all I want.

Today I answered the phone to a guy asking for the Naish Boxer sail. Having just tossed all the Naish sail information into our database, I knew we didn’t carry it. I passed the fellow on to Mark, who told him that the Naish warehouse was five minutes from the shop and it would be no trouble at all for us to special-order the sail for him. Also, the aquatic recreation company Da Kine, purveyors of fine harnesses, harness lines, bags, backpacks and other pleasantries, is headquartered in Hood River, right next to the Full Sail Brewery. Sailworks (makers of windsurfing sails and masts) are based here in town as well.

I’m sure there’s more. These are merely the connections I know, having been here three weeks. The other nigh Peppy, a representative from Mistral boards, went out for scorpion bowls with us at Jack’s. Jack’s is a high-class establishment that should probably be known by its formal names of The Golden Rose or The Hood River Restaraunt. The name “Jack’s” doesn’t appear anywhere inside or outside the bar, and I doubt anybody named “Jack” actually works there. Nevertheless, we call it Jack’s because it has always been called Jack’s, or used to be called Jack’s, or because a drunk stumbled out of it one night after too many scorpion bowls and said JAAACKS to the gutter.

Jack’s is a bar downtown that hosts Karaoke every Friday night. It has an off-hand Chinese theme, with door handles made out of dragons and wallpaper patterned red with shiny flecks of tin. Sometimes they host wedding receptions on Karaoke night.

A scorpion bowl is a huge white bowl that is scripted at the lip with powder blue pseudo-Chinese characters. It is filled with some ice, as many long straws as you request, and a dizzying carnage of alcohol. No one knows exactly what is in a scorpion bowl, but whatever it is turns out orange. Before you know it you’re spinning your way to a bar with blue lighting and sheet metal walls called “The Shack”, drinking Jagermeister shots and Rolling Rock. And the representative from Mistral? He’s setting the pace. Though his head has turned into a giant balloon and you can’t stop getting lost in the puddle of beer-condensation in front of you.


Interested in helping with the web revolution of the windsurfing community? I’m gonna need a few good coders, designers, developers and programmers. For compliance with standards start looking at the Web Standards Project, the World Wide Web Consortium and Zeldman.com. For information on CSS check out Glish.com, CSS Zen Garden and Zeldman.com. Get your learn on and and figure out how to do it up with Perl, PHP and MySQL. Install the Opera web browser. Install the Linux operating system. Run an Apache server. Read Zeldman.com.

And while you’re doing all that? I’m going windsurfing. You nerds.

strange design

Strange things I have spoken to myself, lately:

“Nope, it’s still outside the body.”

“Do you like puzzles? This is ridiculous.”

“Go, Jon.”

“Landscapes that can swallow a man whole.”

“Monkeys are swinging through the trees.”

“Waffles! Waffles!”

“That has abandoned warehouse written all over it.”

“See ya, Mister Gates. Mittah Gates. Mitigates. Mitigation into Freaky Wobble.”


June 9, 2003

prop open your door with a ceramic jesus

Judging by the rolicking success of our last list of definitions (Here at BSOD we use a complicated algorithmic process to determine success) we thought it would be helpful to run another one of a different order. Here in the Gorge I have been inundated by the strange moon language of Windsurferglish (which can be Engurfer or Erglish for short) and I may soon start using bbiizzaarree terms that no one really cares to understand. Trust me, you want to understand these words, and with this handy-dandy guide, there will be nothing standing between you and complete mastery of the language of the Gorgian Windsurfing Tribe.

Rig: Your windsurfing board, mast, sail and boom, all strapped together right-nice and ready to hit the water. To put your crap together is to rig it, and to take it apart is to derig it. When you’re down in the grass at the Event Site and you hear someone cry “Ahh fuck!” that is because their rig blew away. Things always blow away in the Gorge. If you don’t nail it down and you turn your back on it it will blow away. This goes for automobiles, children and gravy as well.

Windsurfing Board: The only thing you will ever have that people will always tell you is too big.

Mast: The tall thing that your sail caresses. Usually made out of a certain percentage of carbon fiber and fiberglass. More carbon means lighter and more expensive. My new mast, a NoLimitz 370 cm Skinny, contains 91 percent carbon. That’s real good.

The name is short for “masticated”, which means “to grind and knead into a pulp”. If you are trying to learn how to windsurf in high winds, your mast and board will become a mortar and pestle and masticate your feet and hands. This is also what the barges will do to you and your rig (and your mast, hence the name) if you get too close. If you are able read everything on the barge and the operator is giving you the finger, get the hell out of there.

Sail: The thing that makes you go. Measured in square meters, so when someone whispers that they’re all rigging 3.2s at The Wall he means they’re using 3.2 meter sails. That’s a small sail. Small sails are nice and light. Small sails imply high winds. High winds are what you want. If you hear that people are rigging 8.0s you sit down and cry.

Boom: The thing that goes around your sail and lets you decide how fast you want to go. The boom is your gas pedal. The boom is named for the sound it makes when you take in too much wind, get flung forward by the sail and watch the mast break the nose off the end of your board. This move is called “getting flung over the handle bars” and it hurts both the flesh and the pride.

Cheer up, though. Without the nose your board is finally small enough.

Tell that to the kid at his bris.

Downhaul: Like booty, what you can never have enough of. When rigging, downhaul is the vertical tension you put on the sail by pulling it down the mast. With new sails you want to pull until you start seeing a twist, which is something that happens to the sail and your body as you begin to struggle with the tension in the rope. The proper amount of downhaul for any sail is exactly 10 percent more than you can possibly exert.

Universal Joint: The most popular piece of equipment for attaching your mast and sail to your board. When you feel comfortable with the term (and with the people you’re hanging out with) you can just call it a “You Jay.” Eventually you’ll adopt lazy-surfer-talk and just call it a “Jooge”.

Dialed: Typically used in the form “to get dialed”, which means “to get set up with”. Examples: “Man, I’m starving. I need to get dialed into some burritos, quick.” “Yeah, don’t worry. We’ll get ya dialed into the Maui Project.” “Dude, last night, did you get dialed into that chick?” Use caution, as before long you will find yourself using the term for absolutely everything. It is the oilslick of Engurfer.

I hope this clears some things up. Feel free to use the terms with reckless abandon, but always guard your baby seals, my friends.

June 7, 2003

lewd newness

A few new photos are up at the Photolog, documenting my journeys.

Lots and lots of things have been happening the last couple days. A trip to Portland to hang with the Habitat crew, my first First Friday in Hood River, my first experience with the scorpion bowls at Jack’s, Jagermeister shots and bottles of Rolling Rock at The Shack, a really bad hangover, and a new kitesurfing housemate from Japan.


June 5, 2003

the ice man cometh

The last few days have been busy, busy, busy. On Tuesday (my Sunday) I went to the shop to get dialed into some new, hardcore windsurfing gear. My co-workers (who variously call me the Scribe, Arthur, and most recently and most often, Hamburglar) have been making fun of me. My sail is from ’96, it doesn’t rig right on my mast and it doesn’t have adjustable battens. My mast is about three feet too long for my sail (take that any way you wish). My car straps are for tying down motorcycles. My wetsuit is for scuba diving. I don’t even have a harness, harness lines or a spreader bar.

My board? My board is fine, though they keep telling me someone stole it out of my yard and put it up for sale on consignment outside the shop. I’m a midwest mess, and seeing as how I work at a windsurfing shop I might as well get a quiver of nice gear with our logo plastered all over it.

As I was prancing about picking out all sorts of nice things, my boss grabbed me and showed me how to update the product database for our e-commerce website. That lasted only a little while, and soon I was able to throw down for my new gear, cram it all in my car and head home. The wind was down (and it’s supposed to be down all week), so unfortunately there was nowhere to go to test out my new rig. I still wanted to get outside so I plucked my Rand McNally 2003 Road Atlas out of the closet, pointed at a small pink square in Washington that said ICE CAVES and hit the road.

The first step was the Hood River Toll Bridge, which is an incredibly narrow, green mass of steel that spans the Columbia and allows us Oregonians to leak into the backcountry of Washington. Some people call it the Singing Bridge because the road is grooved in such a way that your wheels play sweet melodies as you cross. I call it the Siren Bridge because those grooves were placed so that they would pull me into oncoming traffic, through the railing and down into the Columbia.

I filled my ears with bees wax and held on for dear life. After 2 1/2 minutes of white-knuckle terror I reached Washington. White Salmon, WA is the primo town perched on the cliffs across the Gorge from Hood River. It offers an amazing view of my town, with the hills of downtown giving way to the valleys of orchards and vineyards, resting right under the jagged tooth of Mount Hood.

Looking at the map again, I just found a town along the Gorge in Washington called SKA-MANIA. We’ll go there soon enough.

I pressed north, crossed the White Salmon River where people were all out kayaking, and eventually reached the town of Trout Lake, which rests in the shadow of Mount Adams (or would if the sun set in the north). I shot some pictures, stopped at the Adams ranger station, and continued on to the Ice Caves along a winding forest road. Soon I was the only person for miles, which was appropriate because I was near a place called Petersen Prairie. Of course they spelled ‘Petersen’ wrong, but hey, doesn’t everybody?

The caves were actually a series of lava tubes that were so arranged that cold air got trapped inside and would breed ice. I squeezed in a small crack and started exploring, but at first only found wet, cold pahoehoe. When I got closer to the far end of the cave I started finding little icy stalagtites and stalagmites, and rocks coated in bubbly ice. While crossing a flat area I broke though some surface ice and soaked my leg up to the calf.

I grabbed some stumpy stagmites and pulled myself up a ledge to explore an area that was called the Mystical Grotto. I found bits of ice and a can of Pabst. Eventually I broke off the main drag to explore a small room that had a series of thick icicles hanging from the ceiling, and when I spun around to leave I glocked my head really hard on the ceiling. Really hard. I brought my fingers up to survey the damage and they came back red, with a metallic taste. A huge bump was popping out of my head, but it never occured to me that perhaps I was near something cold that would have helped it out a little.

Worried that my explorations in icy and slippery volcanic caves could soon turn disasterous, and worried that my track record for survival in the Pacific Northwest was good so far but definitely strained, I decided I should leave. I climbed up from the caves on the official wooden staircase (that still had three feet of snow at its base ), got in the Dragon and started on the hour-long drive back to Hood River.

Evening was falling, and when I dropped out of White Salmon back into the Gorge I saw the most amazing blue gradients taking hold in the hills along the River. Looking for a good place to pull over and snap some pictures, I drove down to the Hatchery, parked on the side of the freeway and got out of my car. I went to cross the railroad tracks to get a good view, but the far side was a steep decline straight into the River. Not entirely sure I would be able to get back up the rocky slide, I stood on the tracks for a few moments and took some pictures from there. When I was finished I hopped back down to my car.

Five seconds after I left the tracks a train came whizzing by from behind.

I stayed home the rest of the evening.