Animals Have Bad Days Too

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Maybe it’s the heat, but there’s been a spate of animal stories lately. And some aren’t pretty.

Like those pesky squid who could soon put a dent in your enjoyment of California rolls…

And the invasion of Humboldt squid seems to be making a noticeable dent in the local population of hake, experts note in a new study.

Hake, also known as Pacific whiting, is used to make imitation crab, fish sticks, and other minced-fish products. Full story here

So maybe you don’t care about fish sticks, but this next one is sure to make you sit up. How about those Lion Eating Chimps….

Deep in the Congolese jungle is a band of apes that, according to local legend, kill lions, catch fish and even howl at the moon. Local hunters speak of massive creatures that seem to be some sort of hybrid between a chimp and a gorilla. Full story here

Even though EB’s aunt lives there, this picture pretty much ensures I won’t be visiting Florida any time soon…

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The South Asian snakes, which can top 300 pounds and 20 feet, are presumed to have entered the park as discards or escapees from the bustling international trade in exotic pets. Year-old, footlong pythons are a popular $70 item at reptile fairs and on the Web but in a few years can reach room-spanning, cat-munching size, prompting some owners to abandon them by the roadside. Full story here

Meanwhile, in the Mad Dogs and Englishwomen Department, even our furry friends aren’t immune to the evils of the internet…

A dog breeder says her prize-winning standard poodle has had his identity “stolen” over the internet. Full story here

And finally – you might want to think again the next time the cat curls up with you…

Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live. Full story here

What Sail Lofts Need to Know About the Internet…

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The North Sail loft in Vancouver (Richmond actually) is my new favourite business.

Even though things like the America’s Cup and those crazy-assed French sailing superstars make you think sailing is big business, it isn’t. Sure stuff for sailboats is expensive, but the business itself is pretty small.

Sail making in particular is relatively small, highly labour intensive, and competitive. For instance, Quantum sails claims to be the 2nd largest sailmaker in the industry, and they only employ 500 people world-wide.

Most other businesses of this size have found the internet to be a powerful help in reaching customers. Sail makers are using the internet well to explain how their products differ from their competitors, but with the exception of North Sails, they are failing miserably on one simple step; the follow through.

On July 4th I sent emails or filled out forms on the web sites of 4 well known sail lofts. In the case of North Sails, and one other, it was actually their parent web site in the US.

Only North Sails followed up. In fact, even though it was a holiday there, I got an email back from someone at North Sails in the US telling me that Dave Miller at the local loft would be in touch. And he was within a couple of days. He got my info, and followed up promptly with an online price estimate that included a cool Flash animation showing what the sail would look like.

The other lofts never bothered to reply – even though their web sites all invite online quotes. Because I live in North Vancouver about 2 miles from one of the big lofts, I called them by phone a week later. They couldn’t help me right away on the phone, so they took a message. It took them a few days to get back to me, and another few days after that to send me a quote. I never did get a reply to my original email.

Keep in mind, my boat is small and the sail I’m ordering isn’t a pricey high-tech racing number. It’s a cruising sail for a decidedly un-sexy boat. Total cost is well under $1,000 with taxes. But still.

Today’s consumer looks for service and quality along with price. Miss one, and you will probably miss the sale. The internet makes it possible for large and small businesses to offer high-touch service. But you’ve got to actually reply when the customer shows up with credit card in hand.

Dave Miller and North Sails got my little contract – it certainly isn’t going to make a big difference to North Sail’s bottom line. But I can guarantee Dave’s getting all my future business too. And that makes a difference to any business.

The Internet Really Is All Its Cracked Up To Be

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The internet really does  makes getting up in the morning worthwhile.

Living up to the hype of the mid-90’s, every day on the internet brings new surprises and riches of immense proportion.

For instance, just today I won a $ 550,000 BMW. 

Imagine waking up to that !  It’s got to make your day, eh ?   All I have to do to claim it is reply to an email from the manager at BMW, who oddly enough, has a yahoo UK email address. You’d think a big company like BMW would at least give its employees a company email address.  Maybe they’re too busy giving away cars.

I’ve also been receiving a lot of great ecards from old friends and worshippers.  This is good because I thought my number of worshippers lately had dropped off but apparently not.  Just Good Karma I Guess.

There is a down side. 

I am constantly being warned about something important I have to do with bank accounts I didn’t even know I had.  I have a lot of bank accounts.  Probably because of all that money I’ve been getting on the internet.   

On the plus side, I have been approved for credit, by my rough calculation, to the sum of about 4,000,000 dollars just in the last couple of weeks alone.  That’ll come in handy as I tool around in my new BMW. 

Problem is, I haven’t had time to get any of these things sorted out, because I’ve just been too busy enlarging my penis. 

Madsu Speed

Our little sailboat is no speed demon. For one thing, Madsu is a few decades old and of fairly conservative design. She’s also a swing keel with not a lot of aerodynamics at play down at that end of things.
And with 7 weeks to wait for our new 150% genoa, we’re stuck with a tired 100% foresail.

All that said, we’ve had some really fun nights the last few days, playing with the inflow and/or outflows of Howe Sound – sometimes both over the course of an evening.

We use our handheld GPS in lieu of a knotmeter – here’s a shot of our respectful 5.2 knots on a beam reach heading towards Bowen Island. Fun.
Madsu at 5.2 knots

Forespar Tiller Extender and Lock Box

We’re really happy with the Forespar Tiller Extender, purchased on a recommendation from the guys at Martin Marine in North Vancouver.

Forespar Tiller Extender

The lock box is super handy and means we were able to get rid of a mess of lines used for the ’tiller tamer’. The lock box is simple and works like a charm.

Garnet Driving with the Tiller Extender

Garnet driving with the tiller extender. It’s particularly handy for someone small like he is.