I’m tempted to send the Mommy sock to my friend to go with the Baby sock for her daughter. Only one problem: there’s another daughter (not to mention two sons). I think I can send just one pair of socks and not create too much angst but if I start getting inclusive I can’t leave anyone out.

I have now spent the profit-sharing bonus I should be getting this week. Part of it, anyway (the company had a good year). I, uh … I bought another boat. I think I might have mentioned the idea here before: I have the money, it’s not easy for us to figure out when the local club will be there so I can row their boats, and the one of theirs I rowed didn’t fit me all that well anyway. On the other hand, I love my Hudson, and having two racing singles is just silly. So I’ve just ordered a Wintech Explorer 21. It’s heavier and slower than my Hudson, but it’s more stable, has a self-baler, and I’ve ordered it with a compass inset. That means not only can it be used for strength training, but I can use it for open-water racing, like the one I did (and won!) on Lake Tahoe. I loved that race. There are some open water races off the coast of California, too, as well as some on the East Coast, and it’s definitely something I’d like to do more of eventually. I decided on a Wintech because they’re made in China, so it doesn’t have to be shipped as far as if I ordered a Maas from the US.

I got to try the boat while we were in the US; T2 turned out to know a local Wintech rep who was happy to meet me and let me demo his boat. That turned out to be fortunate; I was leaning toward an Explorer 24, but the rep told me that the 21 is much better for open-water rowing, and that’s what I got to row. (The 24 costs more; generally I find a rep who’s steering you to the cheaper alternative can be trusted!) I’ve also ordered a boatload (sorry!) of other stuff: spare parts, a boat dolly to help get it to the water, the aforementioned compass, and so on. I ordered it from the American rep, so that I can more easily have discussions on the boat details; I liked him and he’s got the contacts to handle the shipping.

Now I have to make a big decision: color. There’s theme and history to consider. My Hudson is painted in the red, blue and gold sunset design of the Arizona flag. It’s called Sunset; Rudder’s was Sunrise, painted to match. His current Empacher is yellow, because that’s the only color they come in, but its name continues the theme Zonsopgang II: Dutch for Sunrise II. The one difference between our boats was that I had a decal made of the Big Dipper design that’s on the Alaska flag: the boats were delivered right after we’d come home from Alaska to the misery of an Arizona July. The stars were to keep me a bit cooler – and because I am more of a night person than Rudder (hence the names) and a bit of a stargazer.

The boat name is easy: I just need to find out what “Sunset” is in Mandarin. Ideally I’ll have that pained on in both Chinese characters and pinyin. The only decision there is whether the language is sufficiently distinguishing or I want to append a II as Rudder did. The color is harder. It will depend a bit on price; I don’t yet know how much more a custom paint job will cost. If it’s prohibitive I won’t bother, especially as the default color is a very nice silver. Otherwise, one possibility is something based on the Taiwanese flag which fortuitously has a white sun in a blue square, with the rest of the flag in red. The only issue there is the political issues; it’s actually entirely possible that the boat factory in China would flat-out refuse to do that pattern. China has recently been applying its political clout more and more heavily to keep anyone from even admitting Taiwan exists. Another possibility would be to expand the Alaskan Big Dipper design and have a blue boat with yellow stars painted on. The problem with that one is that a) I don’t have any ties to AL other than one pleasant vacation there and b) blue is really not an ideal boat color – too hard to see from far away during a race. Then again, I likely wouldn’t do any races with this boat other than open-water ones, and you can’t really watch those from shore anyway.

Ideas welcome.