Friday, June 30, 2006

Shaping an EPS foam surfboard.

I went to my long time friend and shaper Tim Stamps to get my first new board since the closing of Clark Foam. It's had a big impact on the surfboard making industry which will be felt for some time to come. There is foam available to shapers but nothing like before. Some local manufacturers have started production and there are a lot of imports coming in from South Africa, Australia, etc. However, the days of custom blanks are over for now. Unless, your like Tim Stamps who has moved on to making his own blanks from EPS foam. It's more work and more expensive, but the finished product is much more durable. Check out the pictures of the shaping of my first EPS board . More to follow so check back soon.

Friday, June 09, 2006

10 Things You Didn't Know About Japan.

10 Things You Didn't Know about Japan by

1) Shoes: You are expected to remove your shoes before stepping up from the entry area into a Japanese home. This custom is also observed in many traditional Japanese restaurants, all store dressing rooms and some other businesses. No footwear, not even slippers, should be worn on tatami (rice mat) floors.

2) Smoking: While many Japanese smoke, smoking is not permitted on local trains. Long distance trains have designated smoking cars available.

3) Bathing: When using a Japanese bath, you do not soap your body in the tub, or enter the tub with any soap on your body. You should wash and rinse your body outside of the tub and then submerge your entire body, up to your neck, in the hot water to soak and relax.

4) Public Courtesy: While American's are said to have a "bubble" of space around us, which we consider to be our personal space, the crowded conditions in Japan do not allow the Japanese this luxury. Japanese have an internal "bubble" into which they escape when commuting or in other crowded situation. For this reason, when in public, they refrain from raucous conversation, use earphones to listen to personal sound systems and otherwise are very conscious and courteous of others, to keep from bursting their internal privacy bubbles.

5) Currency: Japan is a highly developed country where only Japanese currency, the yen, is used for commercial transactions. There are few places that accept credit cards. Dollars must be exchanged, with yen exchange rates fluctuating daily, prior to making any purchases.

6) Shopping: Japan is not a bargaining economy, as are many nations of the world. Prices shown in stores are the prices you are expected to pay. There is a 5% national sales tax added to most items.

7) Tipping: For the most part tipping is not expected in Japan. Service received from taxies, restaurants and traditional Japanese inns and hotels do not require a tip. However, tipping is still a fact of life at some westernized Japanese hotels you may visit.

8) Getting Assistance: While Japanese High School graduates have studied English for six years, with College graduates having studied English for an additional four years, it is still not spoken by a vast majority of the population. When you are lost or need assistance, approach the Japanese, speak distinctly, and request assistance. If the person you have approached is unable to understand or help you they will most often attempt to find someone else who can help. If they cross their arms it is a symbol for no. Most likely they are telling you they don’t understand not cursing you like you’re a demon.

9) Language: Japanese honestly appreciate any attempts foreigners make in speaking in Japanese. They fully recognize how difficult it is and respect any effort in trying to communicate better.

10) Foods: There are a wide variety of internationally inspired food and restaurants available in Japan, from American fast food to eery form of international cuisine. Traditional Japanese dishes are not all rice and raw fish, and are really quite delicious. Their food is not at all spicy but is often flavored with various soy based sauces. They use a lot of vegetables, beef, pork, chicken and seafood.

Bonus) Driving: While the Japanese drive on the left hand side of the road, with their car's steering wheels on the right side of the vehicle, this is a difference much more easily overcome than most of us expect. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have quickly adapted.

Friday, June 02, 2006

10 Things You Didn't Know about Mexico

10 Things You Didn't Know about Mexico by

Pro Surfing Surf Contest: Event #5, The Rip Curl Search - Mexico, June 20-July 1. Check it out at Here.

(1) The ancient Maya of Mesoamerica calculated the solar year at 365.2422 days and the moon's period at 29.5209 days. Both figures are so accurate that it was only in the 20th century that scientists came up with measurements infinitesimally more exact.

(2) Mexico is one of the few remaining countries in Latin America where bullfighting is still practised. The Plaza Mexico in Mexico City is the biggest bullring in the world, seating 50,000 spectators.

(3) The world-famous resort of Cancun in the Yucatan Peninsula was a government-planned creation. Before 1970 the huge holiday centre was not even marked on maps.

(4) Mexico City's two most famous volcanoes, Popocatupetl (5,452 metres) and Iztaccahuatl (5,286 metres) are affectionately known as Popo and Izta. According to legend, Popo (Nahuatl for "Smoking Mountain") was a warrior in love with Izta ("white lady").

(5) Under Mexican law, at least 51 percent of any tequila must come from the tequila weber agave plant, which grows only in the region around the town of Tequila, to the northwest of Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco.

(6) Papantla is a village near the Port of Veracruz in Mexico. Vanilla is produced in the area. One main tradition in Papantla is the Rito de Los Voladores (Rite of the Flyers).

(7) Mexico City is the largest city in the world. It was built on the site of the ancient city of Tenochtitlán. Tenochtitlán was built in 1325 by the Aztecs. It was destroyed by the Spanish when they conquered Mexico. Hernando Cortez first entered the Valley of Mexico in 1519. With fewer than 200 soldiers and a few horses, he conquered the Aztecs. In 1521 the Spanish destroyed the city of Tenochtitlán.

(8) Corn is the main food crop grown in Mexico. It is grown on half of the cultivated land. The Indians living in what is now central or southern Mexico ate corn from wild plants about 10,000 years ago. About 5000 B. C. the Indians learned how to grow corn themselves. Corn is used to make flat pancakes called tortillas. They are sometimes folded and stuffed with different foods to make tacos.

(9) Mexican children are given both their father's last name and their mother's maiden name. This tradition helps preserve the heritage of both parents. Fathers would often weave a God's eye when their children were born. At each birthday for five years the father would weave another God's eye.

(10) According to the 1995-1999 figures, the "quality of life" in Mexico was as follows:
Population that lives in poverty (1999): 44 to 60%, Houses with electricity (1995): 93.52%, Houses with running water (1995): 87.0%, Houses with sewage (1995): 76.7%, Houses with an earthen floor: 15.40%.

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