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Welcome to our September 2008 newsletter.

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I am pleased to announce that Robert T. in Brooklyn, NY is the winner of the chin up bar.

Robert, if you are reading this send an email to me with your address and I will send the bar so you can start working out.

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I am going to change the format for this email as so much has transpired since my last newsletter.

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Soon after my last newsletter, one of my former foster kids was involved in an automobile accident. He was a passenger in the back seat of a car on his way to a senior trip to the Grand Canyon to celebrate his upcoming graduation from Arizona State and his acceptance to UC Davis as he wanted to be a Vet. The driver lost control and flipped the car. My son was thrown from the vehicle and suffered massive head trauma.

He remained in a coma for 28 days when he succumbed to his injuries. Seven people now are leading better lives because of the organs that were donated.

Needless to say, it was a very traumatic time for me. This was the sixth child that I lost and as it still is very difficult. That is all I shall say on the subject.

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As I mentioned in my last letter, two of my former exchange students visited me during the summer. Pal and his family from Norway and Rolf and his girlfriend Anna from Berlin.

Exchange Students at Round Table

Pal, Rolf, Solveig, Gro, Sigborn and Anna wolfing down taquitos on Olvera Street, the birthplace of Los Angeles.

I was only able to spend about two days with them as they were traveling around quite a bit. Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, San Diego, but the time we spent together was great. It took me back 25 years, and being as how I am only 17 (for the 49th time) I was not even born yet.

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I was reading a news article about a young boy who is trying to be the youngest person to solo circumnavigate the globe in a sailboat. He is 16 years old and comes from a family that has been around sailboats all their life.

Zac on the beach

Zac on the beach in Majuro, Marshall Islands

Zac writes a blog detailing his adventures and hopes to write a book after he completes his journey. I assure you I will be the first in line to buy the book as the kid can really write. It is difficult to read his blog and realize that he is only 16.

His blog starts in Marina Del Rey, California with the preparation of the boat. He then goes on to describe his trip to Hawaii, on to the Marshall Islands, an unscheduled stop in the dangerous Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, a false start from Port Moresby and his return there. He is now on his final approach to Darwin, Australia.

His descriptions of the squalls he has encountered, the weather, the nights and the stars, the brilliance of the moon on the open ocean are thrilling to read.

From Zac's blog:

Yesterday I had 20-25 knots all day. I was running with it so it was a good ride and I was able to get some jobs done. At around 7pm I saw a squall on the radar and when I zoomed out I saw that it was over 24 miles wide. When I went out in the cockpit to get a look at it, it filled half of the horizon. Quickly I reefed and waited for it to hit. The wind dropped to about 15 knots for about 5 minutes and then it hit at about 30 knots and built to 35 knots constant with higher gusts. This first squall lasted about 2 hours. When it passed, I had about a 20 minute break before the second squall hit. This one was slightly more powerful than the previous one. By now it was dark and the only light came from the phosphoresence in the water from the big breaking swells. About 10 minutes into the second squall the lightning started all around the boat. It was closer and there was more than the last lightning storm. It went on all night getting hit by squall after squall and lightning flashing everywhere. Everything died down around 5 am but the minute I pulled up more sail and hit my bunk my AIS ship radar went off. So I was back up on lookout. Finally, the ship passed about 4 miles off my bow. I grabbed a couple hours sleep before I had another set of squalls and had to reef again. I did catch about a gallon of water so I am looking forward to some good drinking water for now. We're still talking about possible stops and timing everything so I can be safe and still make good time. Thanks for the comments and emails. Good to know everyone is out there!
Cheers,
Zac

There is a link to a Google Map which tracks his progress and it is most interesting to see his daily progress.

His parents fill in when Zac cannot post, which is the case at the moment as he is having radio problems.

Zac has quite a following and the blog entries by the various readers is almost as good as the blog itself.

I guess I enjoy the adventure as here is a 16 year old boy, leaving his family and setting out on the adventure of his life, not unlike the exchange students that I have hosted over the years.

It is scary for a 15 or 16 year old kid to go out into the unknown, not knowing what to expect and see him or her return a year later as an adult. However for all my kids reading this, Zac also gets my usual "Get a hair cut, in fact, get a whole bunch of them cut". I do not change much.

Zac's boat

Zac's 36' boat Intrepid

You may visit Zac at at zacsunderland.com Be sure to click on the blog tab.

As I mentioned, there is quite a family atmosphere with the bloggers. As those of you that know me, I get seasick looking at the ocean. However it appears that many of the readers are sailors. One blogger, a Douglas in Marina Del Rey, CA, sent me some photos of some tall ships that he visited in San Diego. One cannot help but love those regal vessels.

tall ship

Douglas in front of a tall ship in San Diego

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I am offering a 10% discount on any exercise equipment to the readers of this newsletter until the end of October 2008. You may view the equipment at www.theexerciseman.com Just send me an email and I shall enter the order reflecting your discount.

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I cannot let this political season go without putting in my two cents.

Get ready for a female president. I predict that McCain will prevail in November, setting up a match between Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton in 2012.

That does it for this month.

I am always eager to hear from the visitors to the site and the readers of this newsletter.

Click on this link to send an email to me.

Until next time, paraphrasing Charles Osgood, I will see you on the Internet.

Bill

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