Peniche for Your Thoughts


A quick apology for the lack of posts this past week. Apparently it's important to be able to move muscles in order to type, and after three days of intense surf camp, this has not been possible until now.

Greetings from Baleal Surf Camp in the sunny hamlet of Peniche, one of the westernmost points of Europe. Peniche is about a 90-minute drive from Lisbon and has some of the best surfing on the continent, and is loaded with top surf areas all only a few kms away from each other.

The routine is one that one could get used to - wake up early, hit the camp and get wetsuited-up by 9, exercise for a good 10 minutes for warm-up, hit the waves for 60-90 minutes, stretch. Repeat around 1pm. Crumple into a ball of fatigue by 4 for a siesta, and try your luck in the waves with some friends on your own around 7pm.

As for progress, we'll use percentages. Day 1, the waves win a good 90% of the time; Day 2, you shrink that down to maybe 60%. By Day 3, you are winning the majority of the battles and getting up more often than Hugh Hefner.

This is likely due to the level of instruction, which is fantastic. Turko (a long-time pro on the world tour) and Gaby are a surfing couple from Argentina who make it all easy for us, despite the pain from using muscles that haven't used since, well, ever.

More on the camp and the experience later in the week... now back to the ibuprofen injections.

Right Said Ted


After the month-long bender known as the World Cup, I figured it was time to feed my brain rather than my liver.

Enter TED. Specifically, TEDx Amsterdam, a combo live event and video screening of the TED main event in Oxford.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design and has attracted a considerable global following from its website at Covering big-picture issues like climate change, human interactions, charity and crowdfunding, this recent event was a meeting of the minds. And I'm of two minds when it comes to the whole thing.

I sincerely appreciate TED's aspirational aspects, its desire to inspire. Speakers from all walks of life who aim to rise above the fray of YouTube videos and inane, illiterate pop culture and really make a difference.

At the same time, I can't help feeling 75% of it is straight from the pages Stuff White People Like, full of quasi-interesting nuggets that people consume to feel and sound smarter for a week. (The same way Malcolm Gladwell aficianados sound at parties - the next time someone uses the vacuous term "tipping point", you are free to laugh at them).

The Amsterdam event was held at Boom Chicago, a theatre/comedy club venue. It opened with - and mark this name down - Noam Vazana. She's tough to categorize as she went from jazz to classical to pop on multiple instruments, but she had a voice that had most people turning their heads to each other and say "whoa". Here is a sample. The rest of the four days covered a ton of material and can be seen on the TED website now and in the coming months.

Overall, once again, virtue triumphs over cynicism though, and there some great ideas on this planet. Despite all the problems happening right now around the world, there are some exceedingly bright and well-intentioned people working on the solutions.

Some quotes, insights, and other items of interest from the event:

  • Costa Rica is apparently the happiest place on earth.
  • "Chance favours the connected mind".
  • TED speakers love them some graphs - parabolas, reverse parabolas, pie charts, bar charts, delicious pie-on-the-bar charts.
  • "Sustainable development in the Anthropocene is not Utopia". A) I concur or B) Oh no he dih-int!
  • Irony: the gentleman who spoke so eloquently about the challenges our planet faces in terms of over-consumption was considerably overweight.
  • Fun speaker: Ze Frank. Google this guy.
  • Interesting: the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative.
  • "Incremental change is no longer an option". Except perhaps at toll booths and peep shows.
  • "You can't wake a person who's pretending to sleep". This is actually quite profound when you think about it, and it refers to many people exercising willful ignorance towards tough problems.