Friday, May 30, 2008

Make money, and do some good

I sometimes buy stuff from Moosejaw. I like their funky style and service - they call it "Moosejaw madness."

I received a sales e-mail from them this morning, which made me call and congratulate them. I know they're out to make a profit, as every well-run business should be, but they've also seen that there are people in need in this world, no matter what the politics of their leading government may be.

So, if you buy a tent from Moosejaw, you get 20% off if you send in your old tent to them, and then they'll ship all those old tents off overseas to help earthquake survivors in China.

Good marketing, good money-making scheme, good social conscience.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Don't leave your boat

A few blog pasts back, in March, I covered a story on accountant Bill Heritage, who was forced to abandon his 7.9m sloop Air Apparent about 90 nautical miles west of New Zealand's Kaipara Harbour, when his inexperienced crew ignored his orders and set off the yacht's emergency locator beacon. Much to Heritage's chagrin they were subsequently picked up by rescue helicopter.

Yesterday, the boat was found drifting about 210 nautical miles (389km) off North Cape, upright and drifting with its mast intact and its sail dragging in the water.

The decision on whether to salvage the abandoned yacht now rests with the insurance company, which had finally paid out after much haggling. Interestingly, the "mutineers" have donated $14,000 to the helicopter services that saved them, to help cover the $20,000 rescue costs.

But the moral of the story here, is that in pretty much most conditions, don't leave your boat! Which means that to head off to sea, in any size craft, we need the skills, equipment and know-how to use that equipment to ensure that we come back in one piece.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chart fun

Pouring over charts has long time been a passion of mine, and I'm sure many of you feel the same. Fantasy trips, and those truly on the go, come alive when exploring remote coastlines and planning far off routes.

Thus imagine my delight when my brother Rob recently turned me on to a site he's found, offering TIF-downloadable charts from all over the world, courtesy of the New Zealand government. Now this is something to really get the blood pumping. Click on the second chart offered, NZ14061, and imagine yourself cruising the Pacific. Then click on NZ14601 and you too can appreciate what it takes to paddle across the Tasman Sea.

You even have the ability to draw on the charts, insert text and photos, etc.

The charts range anywhere from 3 to over 20MB, but saved to a disk and then printed off at your favourite Kinkos or the like, you should be good to go.

Dream on!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Girls sail, too

I'm a great believer that as a young girl, if you don't see pictures or read stories of other girls and women doing cool stuff like playing with test tubes, making rockets, flying in rockets, throwing a curve ball, running a country, balancing a budget, kayaking or sailing, you don't automatically consider yourself able to do so.

Thus consider my angst as I perused the latest West Marine 2008 sourcebook, where on pp80-81, West Marine is promoting youth sailing in general, and the new O'pen BIC sailing dinghy in particular. "Youth sailing." What a marvellous concept. But to me, youth means boys AND girls. There are two "action" photos of six "youth" having a ball in these new boats, and not one of those "youth" is a girl. How on earth are girls supposed to consider themselves eligible to be part of this action if business and advertisers don't consider the negative connotations they create when they don't balance their images and their words?

You may think this is merely a feministic rant. It's not. Many a study has been completed on the consequences of non-gender balanced material - why did it take so long for MBA, law, veterinary and medical schools to now have equal applications (and graduations)? And why are engineering and "hard" science applications from women still so low?

Kudos to one company for taking this step. MacMillian/McGraw Hill, publishers of many an elementary school text book, contracted Sally Ride Science to gender balance every one of its text books. No longer is it just boys peering down a microscope or dissecting a frog.

And another reason why Geena Davis founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. The institute works with entertainment creators and companies to help educate the next generation of content-creators, and to help inform the public about the need to increase the number of girls and women in media aimed at kids, and to reduce stereotyping of both males and females.

Ironically, the majority of kayaking equipment advertisements I've seen over the past year or so seem to be fairly well gender balanced. Perhaps this is an industry which does have its act together.

Both images above are from West Marine.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Some may have noticed a strange quietness around this blog in the last week or so. I hate trying to make up anything to say for the sake of a blog entry. But there's always some reason for not being able to put fingers to keyboard. This time I'll blame it on a job change. Over the last month or so I've been interviewing and negotiating and, on June 23, I start a new job as director of development and external affairs at Duke's Nasher Museum of Art. I am hugely excited. In the meantime, I have a tonne of stuff to finish off here at Sigma Xi over the next few weeks, and finding a bit of time for a break before the start date.