The Voyage: Roz Savage
Poppa Neutrino
04 Nov 2007, Sausalito, California

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Poppa Neutrino, courtesy of a mutual friend that I met at the Sharkwater event last Wednesday. What Poppa lacks in teeth (as far as I could see, one upper and one lower) he makes up for in character.

Do check out his website - at the very least for its fantastic James-Bond-meets-eccentric-adventurer theme tune.

He built a raft out of junk and sailed it across the North Atlantic with his family. Watch the trailer to hear what his daughters thought of their adventures. When their father recruited them into a circus act to prop up the family finances, they were tempted to run away from the circus to join the real world...

We actually had a surprisingly sensible conversation about boat design, centres of gravity, and self-righting capability, while Poppa chomped on a lunch of garlic bread and Coca-Cola. I guess a steak would be tricky with only 2 teeth.

[photo: Larry, me, Poppa Neutrino]

P.S. Owwww. The chest strap on my heart rate monitor is chafing against my skin, creating the kind of abrasion that stings like stink when I take a shower and just generally smarts. It has become especially painful over the last 2 days, with a 1:30 hr run yesterday, and 50 mins this morning, in unseasonably warm (and hence sweaty) California weather.

Has anybody else ever encountered this problem, and are there any suggestions as to immediate remedies and preventative measures?

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Scrubbed Up
03 Nov 2007, Woodside, California

You might be amused to see this - the photo that accompanied the Observer article last weekend. They wanted something a bit quirky, and suggested we take a picture on the boating lake in Regent's Park, London.

I was a bit worried that some people might think that I was really setting out across the Pacific in a little blue plastic rowboat, so in a rash moment suggested that we make it REALLY quirky to make it clear that this was not my usual rowing arrangement. Hence the little black cocktail dress...

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02 Nov 2007, Woodside, California

Further to my blog of October 30 about the essential characteristics of goals, I've had a lot of people write to let me know what the R and T of SMART stand for (the other letters being Specific, Measurable and Achievable).

But as with many things in life, opinions vary.

The most popular suggestion was for Realistic and Time-driven - which are indeed important, but Realistic is similar to Achievable, and Time-driven could be part of Specific.

So I've chosen to go with an alternative suggestion sent in by Claire Sutcliffe - Rewarding and Tactical. As I understand these, they mean...

Rewarding: it's important to know WHY you want to achieve your goal. I realized this on the Atlantic, when there were days (99% of them) when I wanted to be anywhere else but on a tiny little tippy boat in the middle of a hostile ocean. But I knew that if I persevered, I would be taking a major step towards the kind of life I wanted. And that if I gave up, I would find it very difficult to ever find a sponsor for any future adventures I wanted to undertake.

So in the overall scheme of things, this made my short-term trials and tribulations much easier to bear.

Tactical: the short-term steps that you need to take in order to achieve your goal. On the Atlantic it took me a while to grasp this concept. I really, really wanted to get to Antigua - and fast. But I couldn't get myself across 3000 miles of ocean by just wishing. I had to make the connection between present actions and future outcome. Skipping a rowing shift was not going to get me there quickly. I had to get onto that rowing seat and keep sticking my oars in the water.

Same thing now - if I exercise every day and watch what I eat, I will reach my goal, but the long-term strategy has to be broken down into short-term tasks. The longest journey starts with a single step.

And, I'm happy to say, the tactics are going pretty well. I've been looking after myself, training consistently, improving my diet, and also exploring other ways to nurture health, strength and wellness.

Today, for example, I went to see Deepa Gleason, a professional healer specializing in acupuncture. I don't know quite what I was expecting, but when I got there, realized that Deepa was not it. Although her cozy office abounds with the paraphernalia of various spiritual practices and therapies, Deepa herself is refreshingly down-to-earth with an enormous sense of fun. And she's good - after half an hour of lying face-down on a couch with needles sticking out of my back and ankles, I wafted out of there feeling thoroughly rejuvenated, as if I'd just had the best sleep of my life.

If the Chinese invented acupuncture, why on earth do some of them think they need shark fin soup to (allegedly) make them strong and healthy?

[photo: me with Deepa Gleason]

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31 Oct 2007, Woodside, California

Last night I went to the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco to see Sharkwater, a new documentary due to open in cinemas on November 2 (click on the link to see the trailer).

It is the first documentary film by Rob Stewart, and draws attention to the practice of shark-finning, in which sharks are caught on long lines and hauled aboard the fishing vessel where their fins are cut off. The mutilated shark, still alive, is then returned to the ocean where it sinks helplessly to the bottom and, unable to swim to keep the water moving over its gills, slowly drowns.

The reason for this practice? So that people can dine on shark fin soup, considered an exotic and power-enhancing delicacy in some cultures.

An estimated 100 MILLION sharks are killed in this way every year.

I am not a vegetarian (although I do eat organic and free range as much as possible, even though it is unfortunately much more expensive to do so), but even to a meat-eater shark-finning seems barbaric. If we are going to kill animals for their flesh, we at least owe them the courtesy of using every last part of the carcass. Nature abhors waste. The natural food chain can seem brutal, at least most predators eat every morsel of their prey.

Although humans generally regard themselves as more civilized than other animals, there ARE times when I really wonder...

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