All posts by Ryan Jeanes

One Swim of Alcatraz Comin’ Up!

800px-triathlon_swimming
This ain't a race, but it'll look something like this.

It’s here, y’all.  Y’all read for dis, duh duh duh da duh duh, yeah! da da da duh duh duh, yeah! da duh duh duh duh, yeah! yeah! You know what song I’m talkin’ ’bout!

Yeah!  Yeah!

Answers to your questions:

Yes, I’m freaking out.  It’s here!

No, I am not pissing in my pants.  I’m gonna do that in the water.  BTW, I finally found out, in one of my Channel Swimmer interviews, what you do when you’re in the water and have to take a dump.  That’s go # 2 for all you sissies out there.  You pull down your Speedo and let ’em rip.  Dookieeeee!!! Cadyshack reference #1.

Here’s what I’d like you guys to do for me while I’m swimming.  Pray for me!  Hold positive thoughts.  Surround this swim, which will take place Sunday morning at 8:45 Pacific, with positive, positive energy.

I already got one girl on board for this.  She’s a former English Channel relay swimmer.  Check out Karen Drucker’s website for some positive inspiration.

So, recap:  I’ll be in the water around the island of Alcatraz at 8:45 am on Sunday.  Your job is to surround me with positive energy.

But, Ryan, how do I do that?  Any way you want!  Some people imagine a band of positive white light surrounding someone, me, in this case.  Some people think things like:  Ryan swims efficiently, elegantly and with great ease and enjoyment.  He finishes the “race” in under 45 minutes. Some people open up a bag of popcorn and munch the cosmic forces of the Universe into motion.  Some people will be asleep, so say your prayers for me before you hit the sack.

In the Meantime and for Your Enjoyment…

I’d like you to take a look at a snippet from a future post.  This is partial account of my experience with the South End Rowing Club, the oldest rowing/swimming club in San Francisco.  A lot of this is entertaining and it’ll give you an idea of the kind of people I’ve been hanging out with since I got here.  Enjoy.

It’s old, very old.  The coverings on the walls are photos of long-dead men with mustached faces spying at the camera.  They were the rowers of San Francisco’s South End Rowing Club (SERC).  They must have had to have sat there for four hours, Abraham-Lincoln style, as a washed-up man with a comb over and a 70s (1870s) camera shot them as they flexed their muscles gripping antique oars and trying to seem that much more sexually attractive before the flashbulb popped. I’ll never be in this shape again, Mr. Twirled Walrus Mustache says as I stare into the black and white photo, for he is now worm food.  But before I am worm food, I film him and the current members of San Francisco’s oldest swimming and rowing club.  (Video to be posted when I get back from San Fran.)

Not to channel Dead Poets Society, but as I looked at these old black and whites, I did hear a faint “gaaaaather ye rosebuds while ye maaayyyyy” permeating from their lips.  Spooky.  Will my photo be on the wall one day for a 2100er?  I moved on.

Today, the South End Rowing Club has more swimmers than rowers.  They have a handball court, two of them, and the atmosphere is decidedly male.  In the seventies (1970s), they and other clubs were forced to admit women, but the air of braggadocio remains.  I sniff it in and love it.

Dan McLaughlin, Head of the Boat House, turns to me:  “See that guy up there?”  It’s a picture of a bald-headed insaneasoid.  He looks like George “the Animal” Steele on crack.  “They called him the Masked Marauder.”  He is menacing.  He looks like he could rip my head off.  “He could rip your head off,” Dan says.

Former wrestlers, handball players with their shirts off posing for a 1950s camera, 80s mustached (maybe mustaches are an 80s thing in any century),

2080 - The Mustache of the Future
2080 - The Mustache of the Future

men in Speedos now with arms around welcomed women, more photos, and more history surround the boathouse.  I walk it as 2000s men and women hack and saw away at an old rowboat they called “The Barge.”  70ender

The Barge, also known as The South Ender, is fat.  Perfect craftsmanship wraps it in bolts and long shiny wood.  “We’re gonna get in this thing and kick the Dolphin Club’s ass” Dan says as he and five others work to make it seaworthy for their upcoming race against their rival rowing club – The Dolphin Club. The two rowing and swimming clubs sit side by side not far from San Fran’s Fisherman’s Wharf.  The Dolphin Club, bathed in Democrat blue paint, and the SERC in Republican red (don’t worry, everyone’s still a Democrat) don’t hate eachother; they just kinda… well, okay, they kinda hate eahother.  “It’s all for bragging rights,” Dan continues.  “There all so uptight over there,” another member chimes in.  “I’d like to go talk to them,” I say.  Dan’s face looks sour.  “We eat dinner promptly at 8,” which I took to mean I can’t believe you’re going to talk to those assholes.

It is dinnertime. Sarah, a young woman with a limp I am too afraid to ask about, prepares the meal.  “I want to swim the English Channel but I don’t think I have it in me,” she says.  “Yes you do,” I say.  A plaque on the wall lists all the members of the SERC who have swum the channel with their times.  Like I said, bragging rights.  “If you want to, you can.” I tell her.  “Meatloaf!  Who wants some!” she yells, and five men and one woman leave their work lights and buzz saws on top of the Barge and head into the mess hall.

Right on the bay.
Right on the bay.

“I’ve got vegetarian and turkey,” Sarah shouts.  The meatloaf is good, the vegetableloaf is good too.  I am filled with warmness.  It felt good to eat after my first real swim in the bay in preparation for my Alcatraz Swim on Sunday.  (Please feel free to comment on this post to cheer me on.  I’d enjoy tremendously your support.)

The SERC and the Dolphin Club are right on the ocean overlooking San Francisco’s Aquatic Park a giant concrete circle with a small opening that’s supposed to break the bay’s more dangerous waves, but when I went out to swim it four hours earlier, some of those babies were capping.

“You don’t normally see it this choppy, Barry, a displaced Irishman tells me.  “Well come on, I’ll take you out.”  We swim .5 miles from bouy to bouy in the circular sea filled park.  He kicks my ass.  He might have 25 years over me but he’s also 25 yards over me in each 100 yard stretch.  “You’re doing good,” he tells me.  I hope he’s not lying.  “You don’t even have a wetsuit on and I do,” I tell him.” “Pfft,” he scoffs, “don’t worry about that.  You’ll do fine on your Sunday swim.  Just fine.”

We come into shore and I almost run into the dock.  “Oooooh, I was doing good there, tearin’ it up, and then I almost run into the dock.  I have to remember to sight for Alcatraz.”  Michael Phelps, though he be the fastest swimmer in the world, need not worry about where he’s going in the water.  A thick black line fills the bottom of his goggle vision.  In the open water, the black line… well, what black line…..

More to come when I get back from San Francisco.  Take care and good luck.

Skydiving into a Forest Fire and Rafting 3000 Miles, All in a Day’s Work

In preparation for our upcoming Mississippi Float Trip, we have chosen to speak with a select group of individuals who have successfully paddled down the entire length of North America’s mightiest river.  A general badass, I was thoroughly impressed with Buck Nelson and know you will be too.  This post is a fairly quick read and, if you have time, you may listen to the audio as well.  Enjoy.

 

bucksmokejumper
Buck Nelson, One of the Few Smokejumpers in the World and Outdoor Adventurer

His website is called Buck Track, and after talking with him, I became thoroughly convinced he could run down an actual buck and break its neck with his bare hands.  Looking online, there have been few people we’ve found who have actually paddled down the entire length of the Mississippi River.  For most people, the Mississippi River is “that thing those backwoods mofos from the Dark Ages used go down to hunt bears and shit.  I mean didn’t Napoleon or someone explore it?  I think it might have been Jean Baptist de la Salle – which of course means ‘of the Salle.'”  The Mississippi is iconic, a known entity, so much a part of our American culture, we accept it as we would the seasons, partisan bickering, and a new pair of shoes bought by J Lo.  For many of us, a missed question on a geography midterm or a drunken rendition of Tina and Ike’s Proud Mary is the closest we’ll ever come to actually experiencing it.  We have said it so many times:  “the Mississippi, the Mississippi River, biggest river in the United States, explored by La Salle – all lands drained by the River, I learned about that in a book one time…  I am in Illinois, it is 1983.  I am a young man – a young, young man of 6.  My teacher pulls down a strappy overhead map and it is a map of the United States.  On it she points to THE River with a long pen.  She has long fingers.  She is beautiful.”  Oh that memory.  Long gone.  The Mississippi River – a phantom, a mental construct, nothing but a cognitive placeholder in my mind.  Nothing more than that till I die.  That may have been true for me at one time, but for Phillip and me, THE River has become very, very real.

I am a man, a man now of 31 years.  I am going to paddle down this fuckin’ thing.  Holy shit!  I’m actually going to paddle down a map!  No, no, you can’t paddle down a map.  It’s not Ms. Hemmingson with her long fingers anymore, buddy, damn she had nice legs.  Hey!  Focus!  You need to get ready.  You’re actually goin’ down this thing and are making a movie about it.  You need to be prepared. For Phil and me, the Mississippi River has stopped being a neat mark on our cortical highways.  The fantasy, the passing fancy, the idea of actually going down it in our Sea Eagle kayaks is upon us.  In the summer of 2009, we’re paddling down it, and we need to talk to someone who has already paddled down it.

Enter Buck

Real man, is an understatement.  A smokejumper for 20 years, this man had seen his share of adventure… and danger.  One thing is to read about smokejumping, ah yes, isn’t that that thing they did in that movie with Richard Gere or something? NO!  It’s real! Buck knows.

When 11Visions makes enough money, Buck, I want you to take me smokejumping.  Of course it’d be a simulation, but what do you think, viewers???  Wouldn’t that be a badass story to cover?

Buck tells it best on his site, but one can gather that paddling down the Mississippi was something he was going to be able to handle.  You would think then that he would have been a bit cavalier about his preparations, perhaps even being a little cocky – I mean, come on, if you’ve jumped into a fire (can’t always get next to one), rope-landed from a tree, hacked down limbs with an axe, wielded a chainsaw, and are one of only 400 people in the world who can do this job, you’d call the Mississippi a piece of cake, right?

Wrong.

In fact, Buck’s first piece of advice to us was…

“Pay attention.  Always.”  More on this later, but this, he says, will save your life.  As we conducted this interview, I found his answers of real use.  The only people we had been talking to up to this point about our upcoming trip had been family members and well-meaning, but freaking annoying friends who said things like “you’ll die,” “you’ll drown,” “there are 5-foot waves,” “currents!” “bears!” and “lions!”  These are the sampe people that answered that geography question, “TRUE – Napoleon Bonaparte discovered the Mississippi,” but like I said, they meant well.

Buck was not one of those Mississippi “adventurers” who had gone down in a houseboat pulling into riverside bar and grills every hour and a half, slamming cocktails and playing grabass with the waitresses.  He went down in a canoe and camped on the riverbanks.  Real man.  So I asked him…

[audio:buck.mp3]

“Can anybody do this?”

“I think if somebody who is genuinely interested, with a little bit of preparation and by applying a little bit of common sense, I think an average person can do it.  I think it’s the type of thing a person never regrets so I would say, go for it.”

“During 9/11, most of us were in the ‘real world’ living our lives.  You happened to be out on a boat during the attacks.  How did being removed from the world affect your experience of that event differently than us?”

“I happened to be listening to National Public Radio, and it was a local program, and they were talking about some local dance troupe who was going to be giving a performance.  They broke in and said a plane had struck the second tower of the World Trade Center, and then they went right back to talking about a dance troupe, and I thought, ‘What in the world is going on?’  I was out there by myself and I had no one to talk to about it.  About the only way it changed my trip directly was I was going by The Rock Island Armory (they manufacture munitions) and the Coast Guard came out and told me to stop in case I was a terrorist.”

“What about your canoe?”

I don’t claim to be any expert on canoes.

Canoe on Lake Pepin
Canoe on Lake Pepin

It’s your standard 16-foot Alumacraft canoe.  It looked good enough to me so that’s what I went with.”

“How long did this trip take you?”

“I think 67 days.”

“I’m very curious:  If we have to go to the bathroom, what do we have to do?”

I think everyone handles it their own way, but when I was heading down the river, if there was no one around, I just peed over the edge.”

“What about #2?”

Land on shore, go into the bushes.

“Did you ever let yourself just drift, maybe falling asleep going down the bank?”

“Nope.  I think that’s one thing people kind of dream about:  getting out in the current, just kicking back and taking a snooze.  I think people tend to be afraid of the wrong things to a certain degree.  That would be really dangerous.  The current in a lot of places is really fast and even if it doesn’t seem fast when you’re flowing down with the river where everything is moving the same speed, if you came upon a buoy or something, you could hit it violently.  Or say you came to a wing dam, or

probably more dangerous than anything is a tugboat coming around the corner.  So you do have to pay attention.  Things can go from hunky-dory to ugly fast.”

“What is the scariest thing that happened to you?”

“One night I went to sleep like normal.  I was probably three feet above the level of the River and tied my boat off.  And I woke up and I heard water splashing and I thought, “Huh, a tugboat came by during the night and waves are lapping up towards my tent,” and I started falling asleep again and I thought, ‘Man, that water sounds so close.’  I unzipped the door of the tent and water was lapping right up against my tent.   The river had risen several feet in maybe four hours, and part of my tent was in the river.   I was thinking, ‘Is my canoe still there?’  I jumped out of my tent, yanked the stakes out of the sand and found a couple items floating in the shallows, threw them in the boat and drug it further up on the bank.  It was kind of a spooky feeling to have something so dramatic happen so quickly at night.”

“What is essential to bring?”

“Absolutely a life jacket.  A sleeping pad, good rain gear, sun hat, at least one long sleeve shirt, long pants to protect yourself from the sun and the cold, an insulating layer, sunscreen, and sunglasses.  You will spend a lot of weeks baking out in the sun.  Also, insect repellent and a reasonable amount of food and water to get you from point to point.”

“What kind of people did you meet?”

Sunset
Sunset

“I met a lot of people down on the river fishing, a lot of people down at the river to see the sunrise or sunset, and people on the big paddle wheel boats from time to time.  I just met two other guys in a canoe doing the whole River.  That was fun to be able to talk to somebody and compare notes.  A cross section of people.”

“What shouldn’t people be scared of?”

“I think people overrate the danger of the waves.  If you’re not paying attention and you let a big wave hit you sideways it can easily swamp you for sure.   But I just paid attention the whoooooole time, and I didn’t get too close to the boats and I didn’t get too close to the shore where the waves build up higher, and it wasn’t a serious problem.  People told me that there was gonna be six-foot waves that would swamp me for sure.  That turned out to be a myth.”

“What was the crappiest day you had – a day where you went ‘ah man I just want to go home?”

“The last night on the River I spent at Port Ives, a place where largely fishing boats and house boats gather, and the owner had told people what I had done, and a whole bunch of people where all excited and inviting me over for dinner, and it was really neat.  I felt kind of like a celebrity and some guy said, ‘You know what, tomorrow we’ll give you a ride up to New Orleans.’  And the next morning they gave me a ride partway to Venice and said, ‘You know what, we don’t have room for your boat,’ so I was stuck in Venice.  That was just a lousy feeling because I hadn’t asked them for their help, but they had insisted, and I was stuck – that really bummed me out.  But the way things happen… I was just sitting there and these other guys come along and say, ‘What’s up?  You know what, I’ll give you a ride.’  So my problems were immediately solved.”

“Can you paddle at night?”

“I wouldn’t recommend it.  One evening it was foggy, and I couldn’t see, and it was really creepy because all of a sudden I could hear water swirling violently, and it was a buoy with water swirling around it.  I thought, ‘You know what, I’m just gonna get to shore and I’m gonna stay there until the fog clears.’  Paddling at night is asking for trouble, and there’s enough hours in the day for the mileage you’d be covering.”

“Is the water polluted?”

“I talked to a tugboat captain

Towboat Captain
Towboat Captain

who had run into Jaques Cousteau twenty years ago.  He was doing a special on the River and said the Mississippi, for a major river running through a populated area, was one of the cleanest rivers in the western world.  I wouldn’t scoop up a glass of water and drink it, although that same tugboat pilot said he’d grown up doing exactly that.  The River is a lot cleaner than people think, so you can, and I did, swim in the River many times.”

“Do we have any chance of hooking up with girls on the River?” (Yeah, I asked him this!)

“Again, I think you make your own luck.  And if you want to make that happen you probably can.” (chuckle)

“You seem to subscribe to the philosophy that the Mississippi is a big, very complex, potentially dangerous system, but if you’re paying attention and you don’t push your luck and you’re not doing stupid things, there is no need to fear it.  Would you agree with that?”

“I would agree with it completely.  There’s a little risk the whole time; you don’t need to take extra risk, and if you’re smart about it, it’s not a very risky trip.  It’s a fairly safe trip if you play your cards wisely.”

“On that line, what should I tell my mom who’s freaking out about this?”

“I’d tell her the main reason she’s uncomfortable is she doesn’t know enough, and people tend to fear the unknown.  A lot of people have done the trip safely and if you are prepared you’ll make it in fine shape.”

“What new adventure are you on to now?”

Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico

“I’d like to do the Pacific Crest Trail.  I’ve got some irons in the fire for the summer – I wanna do some float trips, some hunting, and fishing, those types of things.”

“Buck, I appreciate your time.  I certainly learned a lot.  I can think of three specific things I was going to do on the river, and now I’ve totally changed my mind.”

“Great.  I hope you guys do it.”

END.

Well Crap!

Well crap!  Now, we’ve got to do it.  I’d feel like a complete tool if Buck found out we bailed our Mississippi trip which will begin from Lake Itasca this May.  Stay tuned by signing up for our newsletter on the right hand side of this screen

Buck was indeed the man.  After I hung up the phone with him, I felt instantly confident.  There is a real confidence that can be gleaned by talking to people who have actually done something as opposed to people who haven’t.  Friends, family, Romans, countrymen, I love you, but please read this interview.  This is a man who has done it.  He is a safety-minded individual who still believes complex systems like a giant river can be confronted if you prepare and keep your eyes peeled.  And that is what 11 Visions is all about – walking through that door with our eyes wide open.  Not being afraid of the danger but burning it up with the power of our attention.  Thank you, Buck.  We will pay attention.  And we invite you, dear readers, to come with us in May where we’ll be pushing 2553 miles towards New Orleans.  Let’s hope we don’t run into those douchebags at Port Ives.

I am a man, a man who has talked to a master – a master in the sense that he has accomplished something I wish to accomplish.  I am thinking.  I am thinking about my family, my fears and doubts.  I know I can do this if I, if we, keep our eyes open and PAY ATTENTION!

You can find out more about Buck’s adventures at bucktrack.com.


The Kite and the Weight

kite_flyingImagine a flying kite tied to a weight. The weight is just heavy enough to keep the kite from flying off into oblivion, and the kite catches the wind just enough to drag the weight forward. Interesting analogy. What does it mean?

In our business, Phillip, in general, is the weight. He keeps me grounded. I am a man of high-flying ideas, and oftentimes have no idea how I’m going to make them happen in the real world. With Phil, I’m tied squarely to the ground, but not so much that we cannot be drug forward by the joy of inspiration.

The wind can easily be likened to inspiration. Break the word inspiration down: in=in and spire=breath. The wind is the breath in your sail. It’s the high-soaringness of your idea. But if you’re all kite, you’re flying up, up and away. You need to be grounded. We live in the third dimension, and hard, physical action is what makes great ideas real. But what if you’re all weight? No movement. You can take all the action you want; but, if it’s not inspired action, well, what energy is going to move that weight?

From a purely cold-science, Wall-Street-business-plan point of view, I am completely, utterly useless. I can’t make a website, I can’t edit a video (though I can tell you what I want it to look like), and I can’t rig a tractor to run. But I can come up with ideas, I have a feel for what will inspire others, I have a feel for what will be exciting and funny, and I can act, improvise and write. Hear me now: Phillip comes up with tons of ideas; however, I would say with general certainty I spend my time with my head in the clouds a lot more than he does. Without Phil, I’m off into the ether.

Phillip is a whiz on technical matters. He can throw a website up in 2 seconds (just did another one… and another). He can edit like a madman and is more wary of logistical matters than I am. I’m a burning heart ready to evaporate at a moment’s notice. I have no idea how I have not spontaneously combusted by now. “Hey Phil, we could do this and this and THIS!

“Whoa there, cowboy, hold the phone. We gotta water the horses, and connect to the operator first.”

So, you would think Phillip, being the more cerebral of the two, might poo poo my ideas, but he doesn’t! I’ve rarely heard him say it can’t be done. And if he did, he knows I’d bother the piss out of him till he said yes 😉. He says, “Lets do it,” and just reminds me of the technical implications. The weight and the kite, they are indispensable to one another.

If you are planning a great adventure, go for it! You don’t need a partner. You can play the role of both the kite and the weight, though it is more fun if there are two people who can separate into complementing roles. Phil always says yes. He’s cautious, but he says yes. And I never like to say no but gladly give in when something is definitely not a good idea or when technical obstacles are too thick to push through. Somehow, however, that kite-weight contraption is gonna move forward, that movie will move forward, that website, web video, book and article are going to move forward. The wind is always there; you just need to catch it.

Reason informs inspiration, and inspiration informs reason. They are not mutually exclusive. They are opposite ends of the propeller that drives the boat, your idea, forward. They are two sides of the same coin. A coin cannot exist without two sides, and an adventure cannot be made possible without both high-flying feeling and cold-grounded physical action. It is the energy and the stability together, the right brain and the left brain, power and groundedness, inspiration and action that make your experience possible. One without the other, and the system collapses.

An old Quaker prayer goes like this: Pray and move your feet. I believe part of our job on this planet is to bring a little bit of heaven to earth, and I believe that is achieved through following your inspiration. The earth and the heavens cannot exist without one another. One is not necessarily better or worse than the other. Neither the brains, nor the lungs nor the heart could dream of existing without working together. Bring your reason and your emotions together when planning your next great adventure. If you take a step back, you’ll see the kite and the weight are not just indispensable to one another, they’re the best of friends.

An Interesting Email Exchange

Should you set a big goal you’re not sure you can achieve and thus motivate yourself?  Or should you set a nice, sweet, achievable goal that you’re sure you can do thus, in theory, building your confidence?

This is an interesting debate.  View the exchange below between myself and the facilitator of our upcoming Escape from Alcatraz Swim.  Also, Leslie, if you’re reading this, I didn’t think there would be a problem if I published this exchange.  This is a complete professional exchange between a student and an instructor.  You will see the warmness she exudes in her communication which is why I went with her (there are several swim instructors running Alcatraz swims) over the others.  Go to swim-art.com if you want the realest deal in San Fran swim instructors.  In this exchange, you will see that both of us want the same thing – my success.  Which method is better?  We’ll discuss that in a moment.

First me:

March 3

I have never swum open water for distance, as in “okay Ryan, your goal is to swim from here to there” but I have swum in the ocean several times. This is the first time I have learned TI, but not the first time I’ve learned to swim.
I was planning on arriving Apr 2, I know you guys swim on Wednesday but don’t know if I can make that date, I will be there a few days beforehand to swim in the swim park or anywhere else you suggest. Are there other groups that swim on other days – Thursday Friday Saturday?
Thanks,
Ryan

Her reply:

March 5

Hi Ryan,

Ok. That helps a lot.

So, I don’t want to be discouraging, but here’s what I think might work really well for you, in terms of progression, planning, and succeeding at what you want to accomplish.

1) Get comfortable with your stroke between now and May
2) Do some open water swims in Chicago in June
3) Come out here in July or August to swim Alcatraz
4) then continue to increase your distance and plan for some cold water training from September 2009 – whenever you are booked for Dover in 2010.

I think this plan will bring you the most success. I’m happy to hear your thoughts. If you are still determined to do Alcatraz in April, we will be happy to have you. Let me know what you think.

Warmly,

Leslie

And my reply:

March 6
Thanks for your concern. I’m still doing this. I understand your doubt, but that’s okay. I have one month to take that away. So anything you want to share in terms of what you would like me to accomplish this month before I come out is fine.

Okay, thanks Leslie,
Ryan

March 6

Hi Ryan,

Your goals for this month should be:

1) be able to swim a mile in less than 40 minutes in the pool, without stopping
2) be ready to tolerate 50-53 degree water by taking cold showers (are you wearing a wetsuit for this swim? – I would highly highly recommend it.
3) be able to sight efficiently and successfully
4) be ready to swim in choppy water – we call it the “washing machine” effect the way the water tosses you about.

I’ll wait to receive your sign up form.

Regards,
Leslie

March 6

Thanks,
Yes I’ve already been
1.submerging myself in the tub 45-50 degree gradually increasing time, yesterday was 10 min
2. swimming in the lake (Michigan) for brief periods (close to shore, don’t worry) don’t tell the cops, you’re technically not supposed to for another 2 months
3. Yes I’m using a wetsuit for the swim
4.sighting is upcoming in my lessons
5.I’ll give you updated times as I get them
So thank you. Once again, I understand you’re doing your job by warning me, but I’m commited. I’m young and ambitious, and don’t think I’m being unreasonable. If I am, it’s not a dangerous unreasonablity, so you shouldn’t be worried about me biting off more than I can chew. I will show up prepared. I have my goal; I will do it.
Thanks for supporting me.
Ryan

So there you have it…
She wanted me to succeed; that much is obvious.  She did think I should wait, but I don’t want to.  I want to go for it.  It inspires me.  I could wait but then I’d feel like I was throwing the breaks on a beautiful ramp up to the big day.  I can’t back down.  I’ve gotta do it.
Now, as you’ll notice, I’m pumped.  The fear is pumping, but the excitement is too.  If I waited till July like she said, sure I’d have had a “better” shot, but then there is no motivation, no inspiration; and, that’s what we’re about – exploration, vision, touching the stars.  There is no star in waiting.  Let us do it.  Let us explore more visions.  My vision is to complete Alcatraz in under an hour.  Let us do it.
Here’s another exchange between me and my brother Zach, the most rational of the family.  “Are you preparing?” he asks.
“Yes, I’m doing all I know to do.”
“Are you just gonna show up there munching doughnuts saying ‘where’s duh water?'”
“No, I’m training, cold water training, elliptical machine, swimming every day.  I’m just scared; it’s my first open water swim.”
“Look, it’s a challenge; it’s gonna be challenging no matter how you look at it.  Just do all you can do and go.”
“Am I being naive?”
“No.  You’re not being dangerous.  You’ve got a goal, you’ve got a preparation plan.  Go do it.”
God, I love my brother.
So I feel a lot better after that.  Alcatraz, here we come.
Stay tuned.
Ryan

UPDATE:

March 7

Hi Ryan,

I AM reading this!!! LOL. And I’m FINE with it. It is an important discussion. I am glad you posted it. Your enthusiasm makes me so happy. And you can do this!

Leslie

Escape from Alcatraz!

Escape!

In preparation for our upcoming English Channel Swim, Eleven Visions will be, first, escaping from Alcatraz!  The Alcatraz swim, hosted by swim instructor Leslie Thomas, will take place April 5, and we want YOU to be there!  Follow our blog updates and web videos for the exciting details as Ryan tries to swim away from all the bad crap he’s done.  What he did to get thrown into Alcatraz we’ll never know.

The 1.25 mile swim will be Ryan’s first open water swim (no walls, no pool bottom) and he’s as nervous as the pope on his wedding night.  Come join in the fun.  We welcome your comments and suggestions.  ‘Swim straight’ has already been suggested.
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Ethos, Logos, Pathos and the Quest for Tiger’s Milk Bars

Your Newest Superhero
Your Newest Superhero

Ethos – similar to the word ethics – is an ancient Greek word meaning character. Logos – as in logic – means word, and pathos – pathological, empathy, sociopath – means feeling or suffering. Ethos, logos and pathos are often used as elements in both literary works and persuasive arguments. Advertisers use these elements all the time to influence us. Por ejemplo…

Ethos

Advertisers will try amp up your belief in their character or trustworthiness with phrases such as “the name you can trust” or “5 out of 6 people prefer Astrolube to…” As you know, they constantly attempt to remind us they are a company in good standing: “For over forty years Astrolube…” I guess I really like Astrolube. The idea is if I trust you or at least can believe that you are telling me the truth, I will be inclined to buy your product. However, oftentimes belief in the salesperson is not enough, you also need…

Pathos

Pathos refers to pure, straight emotion. Advertisers try to associate positive emotions to their product whether that means indicating P Diddy drinks it (the exact reason I do not drink Ciroc – still pathos) or blasting roaring images of a roller coaster to convince you to visit Six Flags. Karl Rove used pathos effectively with the social-issue-wary, Republican party base to get George Bush elected in 2000. He sent out mailers about stem cell research, abortion, and gays to get every backwoods hick in the country to get out and vote for GW. Thank god he did too! Whew! No more gays! Now the country can move forward. Pathos involves appeals to passions, not logic. Sorry to break it to you, hickzoids, if we get rid of the gays, your problems are not going to be solved. No, no, if we get rid of the Mexicans, your problems will not be solved either. Go back to your corncob pipe and weed-growing business. Douche.

Logos

Logos treats appeals to logic, our rationality. “Look, Jim, you could stay home tonight and play Play Station and dream about women, or you could come out with me to the bar and have a real shot at getting an actual woman.” However, please note that logic must be based on correct assumptions: All women in bars are sluts. I am a slut. Therefore, I am a woman in a bar. Errrrr, where did my logic go wrong?

Whatchu telling me this for, Ryan?

Currently I am writing persuasive letters with the intention of obtaining sponsorship for our upcoming float down the Mississippi. I do not know how effective these letters will be. I did write one that was moderately successful with Sea Eagle (we have their banner on our site), but I found out some interesting things about this persuasion triple header while doing an exercise I found in an email from Michael Neill. He said that when writing a persuasive letter, you can write three versions: one with a focus on ethos, one with a focus on pathos, and one on logos. Then you write the real letter. I found my versions pretty funny, esp. the pathos one, and wanted to share them with you. Enjoy.

ETHOS VERSION

First let me say that your Tiger’s Milk Bars have played an important role in my life. I was raised on them. My mother was a health food fanatic during my entire infancy, childhood and adolescence. I actually did not know what a Snickers bar was until about the age of 6. I am writing you today to ask for an endorsement, either in cash or in product, for an upcoming event of which my company and I will be a part.

We are a film company. We specialize in adventure films aimed at creating a sense of wonder, joy and awe in the audience. To watch a trailer of our latest feature please visit www.hitchhikingmovie.com. Our company’s name is 11 Visions. We are a new company and started out of a love of adventure, exploration and filmmaking. Please allow me to state clearly how you may help us and how we might help you.

We have two upcoming films: Two Miles an Hour: Life at the Speed of the Mississippi and The Channel. Two Miles an Hour is a documentary cataloguing our float down the entire length of the Mississippi River. We will be embarking on this journey in May of this year and expect to complete the trip within three months. Nutrition will be of vital importance while on the River especially since we will not be using any machinery to propel us forward but will be paddling in kayaks. I’m sure you can appreciate the physical demands this will place on us day in and day out. The Channel is a documentary slated to premiere in August of 2010. This film will document my journey from beginner to skilled swimmer as I prepare for my solo crossing of the English Channel in July of 2010. I will be training for this crossing in the River and, needless to say, will be burning a tremendous amount of calories. The quality of my nutrition is of paramount importance, and we are searching for a company willing to donate both product, and if willing, cash to the endeavor.

I believe in your company. You were the first company I envisioned when I turned to my partner and stated, “We need to take tons of nutrition bars with us on the River!” (little bit of pathos, sorry) Due to the fact that I believe wholeheartedly in your product and the fact that you played such an important role in my raising and healthy state as a child, I would like you to be the first ones we have the pleasure of asking for sponsorship. We can offer you banner ads on our sites, embedded marketing of your product in our real-time web videos that will be aired as we travel down the Mississippi, and featured product placement in our feature film which will premiere August of this year. We would also like to offer you a free ad at the beginning of said film.

Kayaking and swimming will place tremendous demands on my partner’s and my body, and with nutritional supplementation by Tiger’s Milk, we stand a good chance to succeed.

Please consider this opportunity; I would sincerely appreciate a reply.

Sincerely,

Ryan Jeanes

PATHOS VERSION

Dear Sirs,

First let me say that your Tiger’s Milk Bars are the bomb. My mom raised me on this shit! It’s fucking great! I love you guys and I hope you love me! Here’s the deal. I will be swimming down the motherfucking Mississippi River. Oh my fucking god, you’ve gotta check this out. Okay so my friend and I are crazy mofos and I want to say how good your bars taste. They are fucking great. My mom wouldn’t even let me eat a Snickers bar for like fucking ever! So anyway I want you guys to give us some cash, yo!

Here’s why: I am going to be making two films. One is called Two Miles an Hour: Life at the Speed of the Mississippi and the other fucking great movie that you’re gonna love if you have a nutsack is called The Channel. In the Channel one, I swim the English Channel and in the Mississippi one, I swim the Mississippi. My friend’s gonna be on a raft so don’t worry, I won’t drown or nothing : )))))). Yeah! So anyways I was wondering if you would like to be our sponsors. Check this shit out: You will be able to put a big fat motherfucking banner right on our site. It will say that Tiger’s Milk is the best motherfucking sponsor in the world. It will say that you guys support what we’re doing: adventure and shit. It will say that “hey I’m a crazy mofo who likes to sponsor shit and give away shit and we’re giving shit to these guys cuz they’re crazy mofos too! Crazy, yes, no?

So look. You guys will be able to advertise on our site. You will be able to have your product embedded in our web videos, our movie, etc. etc. It’ll be fucking great. All I want in return is some mooooolah. If you can’t do mooooolah, than hook me up with some motherfucking bars so I can munch on them and not starve to death. This is so fudgeing exciting! I’m pissing my pants!

You guys need to totally sponsor us. Tiger’s Milk will be embedded into the minds of the nation. Our goal is to sell 10,000 of these hitchhiking motherfuckers, these movies, so like get on board and don’t miss the boat – pun motherfucking intended, dog!

I want you to sponsor us, you beautiful, gorgeous motherfuckers. I want you to be our sponsor because it would be fucking great and you won’t regret it.

Sincerely,

Ryan Jeanes, DogMasterChief in Chief

LOGOS VERSION

Dear sirs,

Thank you for taking the time to review my letter. I am writing you today to offer you a business opportunity. We have a website dedicated to the sale of travel/adventure related films. Though our sales are low at the moment, we are projecting increased sales over the coming months as our new release The Hitchhiking Movie gains momentum. We have several promotions in place, most notably a partnering with the site digihitch.com, which has over 14,000 registered members, an excellent market for the purchase of said film.

We believe that Tiger’s Milk has an opportunity to reach and market to a similar quantity of viewers in our next feature: Two Miles an Hour: Life at the Speed of the Mississippi. Nutrition and the vital role it plays in the completion of difficult and highly physical endeavors will be the centerpiece of this film. We are aiming to give an honored and trusted nutrition company such as yours the chance to market to likeminded individuals (such as our film and website viewers) interested in the themes of training, travel, endurance and adventure. We believe that an entirely new and exciting demographic will be open to you if you pursue an agreement with us.

Our adventure down the Mississippi begins in May. We hope to strike a mutually beneficial agreement with a nutrition bar company by that time. Also, our upcoming feature, The Channel, has generated substantial buzz and we believe that its appeal to nutrition minded individuals will be even greater than Two Miles an Hour. This film will catalogue the training for my unassisted swim of the English Channel in July of 2010. I will continue to train during the while on the river, increasing not only interest but also supporting the philosophy that any athlete can train anytime, anywhere. We know that Tiger’s Milk believes in keeping athletes and laypeople alike healthy and strong, which is why we are confident a successful partnership with your business may be possible. The popularity of our site grows more and more every day as more and more people are hooked on our entertaining posts, videos, and featured films. We hope to make Tiger’s Milk the official Nutrition Bar Sponsor of Two Miles an Hour and The Channel. We are extremely excited about this opportunity and hope the prospect of your business reaching more and more potential buyers of your products is equally exciting.

We are asking specifically for cash sponsorship as well as a large supply of Tiger’s Milk Bars during the Mississippi float. I estimate that between two people, we will average as much as 6 bars a day. The maximum length of this trip will be 3 months; therefore, if you are able to provide us with 540 bars, it would be much appreciated. We also believe a cash sponsorship of 100 dollars per month is sufficient to cover promotion-related costs such as embedding your bars into our web films (we estimate as many as 50 short films to be posted before, during and after our trip, on our parent site 11visions.com; Tiger’s Milk may have access to as many as one-third of those films either via choice product placement or direct advertising). In return, we will also offer you banner ad access to our viewers, direct video promotions (you may also run a commercial on our site if you wish, and we will film it if you wish for no charge), continual mention and consumption on camera of Tiger’s Milk Bars on both web-based video and subsequent DVDs, and 3 separate live promotions in which we explicitly and enthusiastically endorse Tiger’s Milk Bars as the only bar we trust, in the place and at the time of your choosing.

Once again, we anticipate a high level of interest in this trip, and please understand that our live blogging, real time web videos, and live promotions with chosen sponsors during that time will only add to the excitement, increasing the prospect for greater sales of Tiger’s Milk products. Please note that, in addition, each and every day we will be augmenting the size of our viewing audience as our current feature The Hitchhiking Movie tours film festivals around the world.

We believe Tiger’s Milk’s newfound access to a younger, perhaps hipper, and more adventure minded demographic will increase the size of your business and contribute to Tiger’s Milk’s popularity all over the world. We believe that you are the perfect candidate for sponsorship and hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

Ryan Jeanes

Und das ist alles, meinen friends

I decided to go with just the logos one. I know the exercise was to combine them all into one synergistic explosion of persuasive punching power, but fuck it (pathos!). Pathos strikes again! Wait a minute – that’d make a great superhero! Yes, I did the animation you see at the beginning after typing that sentence. He was a Hebrew superhero on Wiki Commons that I11 Visions › Edit Post — WordPress converted into The Champion of Emotionally Persuasive Arguments, Pathos!!!!!!

PS – When writing sponsors, I’m going to use logos as our backbone and maybe throw a little pathos in there for flair. (No, I’m not going to use the Fs and the MFs, that was just an exercise to get my juices flowing.) Then I can insert ethos when it feels natural. We will keep you posted on what happens with sponsors.  PAAAAAAATHHOOOOOOOOSSS!

Ryan

Update (3/02/09): As you can see heah, we did in fact get the boats from Sea Eagle.  Thanks John!  Persuasive articles do work.  However let me point out something for those of you wishing to do something similar.  Voici I will break down how this came about:  1st, I wrote Sea Eagle and told them what I wanted to do.  I go the decision maker on the first try.  Sea eagle is a family owned and operated company so it was easier to maneuvre.  2nd, the main dude said he would like to give us some boats, but indicated he wanted to see our Hitchhiking Movie first.  Now that I think about it, we chatted about hitchhiking first.  He was drawn to our site and my email possibly since he’d done some hitchhiking.  3rd, he didn’t commit to sending the boats until after he had seen the movie.  Very important:  It wasn’t just the persuasive letter.  There was the pathos with the direct connection we had.  I also talked to him about Phillip’s positive experiences with his Sea Eagle kayak.  There was logos with what I was proposing – he got that he’d use our footage and such and that we’d promote the kayak.  But he didn’t commit to sending the kayaks until he got the ethos in check.  The ethos was seeing the movie.  Once he saw that, he knew it wasn’t a couple of tools writing for free kayaks.  We continue to build ethos by continuing to promote his kayaks and implementing them into our films.  I am going to apply this technique with Gregory Packs.  I really want Phil to get one, they’re the bomb.  I had a personal relationship with the low level sales guy.  He said he’d forward my email to the Marketing Director, but no response from him.  I’m a nobody, see?  So the in is going to have to be sending the movie off to the low level guy, he sees it, likes it, and hopefully talks me up to Marketing Master Dog in Chief, and we’re in.  You see, there are many factors here.  The whole combination has to be present or your toast.  It’s like the building blocks have to be in place before the person commits.  Please use this info when you’re asking for anything.  Everyone wants to tell you yes; they just need that right combo of ethos, pathos, and logos spun.

Ryan

Adventure Movie to Feature Float Down Entire Mississippi River

Nashville, TN — February 16, 2009 — Their first film cataloged their attempt to hitchhike coast to coast, across the entire continental United States in under a week.  For their second adventure, they will cross the country again; only this time, it will be top to bottom.  “We’re gonna start in Minnesota and go all the way to the Gulf of Mexico,” Phillip Hullquist, co-creator of Eleven Visions says.  “We’ll go from black bears in the north to gators in the south.  Should be fun.”  “And no thumbing rides this time,” adds Ryan Jeanes, second creator of the production company which focuses on adventure films.  “We’re going to have to do all the work this time… paddling!  We hitchhiked across the U.S. in a week, but this is going to take us muuuuuuch longer.”

The filmmaking pair expects the voyage via inflatable kayak to take between 2 1/2 and 3 months.  As in their first feature, they will focus as much on the people they meet along the way as the obstacles they need to overcome to complete the journey.  “Our first film was a real eye-opener,” Jeanes says.  “We thought people would be really hyped on our attempt to finish the journey to Los Angeles from New York, but a lot of people commented on the people we interviewed.  They would say things like, ‘Oh, that psychiatrist guy was my favorite guy,’ or, “Oh, I wish I could have learned more about Fred; he was awesome!’  So we are definitely going to incorporate those types of exchanges when we’re on the river.”

Jeanes and Hullquist answer the claims that they are addicted to adventure.  “I don’t know if we’re addicted,” Jeanes explains, “but our films do tend to be about things people would love to do but are letting some reason, real or imaginary, hold them back.  Our movies are about facing fear to a certain extent, but really are more about doing the things your heart wants to do before your mind talks you out of it.”  “A lot of people poo-pooed our hitchhiking idea, but we’re not getting a lot of that this time,” Hullquist explains.  “I guess when you successfully complete one adventure, people expect that you’ll complete the second.  What a lot of people don’t know is that only 2 to 3 people paddle the entire river each year!  That’s less than the number of people who hike the Appalachian Trail or who swim the English Channel.  We’re ready.  Bring it on.”

The title, The River is Life, is a play on Jack Kerouac’s famous phrase, “The road is life.”  “We want to capture a piece of Americana,” Jeanes states.  “We’ll go through 11 states on this trip – from the Upper Midwest to the Deep South.  We’ll be interviewing scores of people from all walks of life.  The people we meet always add an invaluable dimension to our movies.”

What about the amount of effort it will take to paddle 2500 miles!  “It’s going to be hard work,” says Hullquist.  You have to pay attention at all times to avoid barges, pleasure boaters, changes in current, wildlife, and sometimes waterfalls (in Minnesota) and rapids (around St. Louis).  I hope we can complete the journey in 2 and a half months and get the movie out to our fans by January 2010.”

Phillip and Ryan plan to be on the River the first day of summer, June 21, 2009.  For more information visit their website at www.11visions.com or email info@11visions.com.

Is 11 Visions Only about Travel?

11 Visions is not just about travel, though we tend to travel a lot. It is about mystery and wonder, the weird and the fanciful. We love exploration. And oftentimes that gets us into some singularly peculiar situations like that time we wound up inside a cow’s intestine… Lies, my friend, lies. However, we did end up smoking a prayer pipe with an Indian, and we did hitch a ride with a hot girl who ended up driving 45 miles to deliver us bananas, and we did get nearly arrested four or five times in four or five different states (and one international airport)… Don’t forget the time we found ourselves walking through the rain on Route 66 where a shirtless man, skinny as a rail, riding a kid’s bike rode into his house to fetch us ponchos. I then had a black man tell me he wanted me to pay him back by helping another black person. And I had money and food and shelter show up mysteriously where I needed it when I needed it.

Life is a mystery, my friends (Lord, did I not sound like John McCain there!). Uhhhhhh, look (oh that’s better, just like Obama), I want to tell you that there are 11 known dimensions to this universe, and you have yet to see them all. We all have yet to see them all. Our vision is that all you wish to see shall be laid before you like the unfolding desert at dawn. Step to the top of that building and gaze. Stick your thumb out; someone will stop. Travel is not the only way to experience and perhaps make love to the best in this world. In fact, I know it’s not. Say hello to a stranger (that’s a vision), kayak down the Mississippi (that’s a vision), learn a language (that’s a vision), beat time on your child’s head with a mud-caked hand as he latches onto your leg and begs you to walk him. This world is real. You are in it now. Yes, you. This is all here for you. Please grab it now. We support you in your travels, in your amours, and your ambitions. All of it is an adventure; all of it is a vision. Leap, love and explore. We are and we hope you do too. : )>

New Production Company Brings the Adventure Home

Nashville, TN — February 8, 2009 — 11 Visions was started on a simple premise:  People love wild, crazy adventures!  And if they don’t have the inclination to go on one themselves at the moment, they sure love to watch one.  Enter 11 Visions Productions.  11 Visions was created by filmmaker Phillip Hullquist and actor Ryan Jeanes.  “I met Phillip in South Padre Island, Texas,” Jeanes says, “and I was telling him about the time I hitchhiked across Texas and then England and France when he goes, ‘Yeah, I hitchhiked from Little Rock to Los Angeles.’  I said, ‘Woah, another crazy… thought I was the only one!”  Shortly after Jeanes pitched Hullquist an idea for a new movie.  “Phillip was just so open to anything I discussed with him,” Jeanes continues.  “I said, ‘Hey, I want you to follow me around with a camera as I try to hitchhike across the U.S. in a week.’  He was like, ‘Okay.’  So I bought two plane tickets going to New York from my hometown in Austin, TX and coming back one week later from Los Angeles.  Our goal was to hitchhike from New York to L.A. in 7 days and make a movie out of it… and we did.”

The Hitchhiking Movie was the filmmaking pair’s first collaboration.  “I’d never done anything of that magnitude,” Phillip says.  “I had worked steadily as a director and editor on smaller projects, but this was totally different.  It was fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants filmmaking.  We had no idea who was going to pick us up or where, we had no idea where we’d be dropped off; so, choosing shots was challenging; but, I can say that The Hitchhiking Movie is an accurate representation of what a real life hitchhiking adventure is like.”  To find out more about The Hitchhiking Movie go to www.hitchhikingmovie.com.

Jeanes, who worked as an actor in the Texas market for four years, is comfortable in front of the camera.  “I did a lot of commercials in Dallas and San Antonio, and I did live theater.  Hosting an adventure documentary is not something I had experience with, but I thought I was a pretty experienced world-traveler and I had broad interests.  I knew what I wanted to create, and the finished product was better than I expected.  So right now we’ve got even more wild, crazy adventure coming your way.”

Their newest project tentatively titled The River is Life – a play on on Jack Keroac’s famous phrase, “The road is life.”  The film will chronicle their journey down America’s greatest river, The Mighty Mississippi.  “We’re going to take two kayaks down the entire length, 2252 miles,” Hullquist says.  “We don’t have a deadline this time [like we did in The Hitchhiking Movie],” Jeanes notes.  “This film will be more about the majesty of the river and the sheer adventurousness of going down North America’s greatest river.”  “It should take us 2 and a half months,” Hullquist adds.  “Hopefully I’ll have some good upper body development by the end (laughs).”

Jeanes and Hullquist’s movies are as much about the people they meet along the way as their own journey.  “When we released The Hitchhiking Movie I was surprised.  Many people commented on their ‘favorite’ person like, ‘Oh, I loved the Psychiatrist,’ or, ‘oh, I loved Fred.’  They got really attached to the people we interviewed along the way.  We’ll definitely be meeting and interviewing some new characters on the Mississippi River.”

What else is different this time?  “Also,” Phillip continues, “we’ve got a blog up during the entire duration of our Mississippi trip.  We didn’t have that for The Hitchhiking Movie.  Our blog traffic has gone up and so the visibility of our work has gone up.  We hope that the farther we go down the river the more and more interest will be generated.”  You can visit their blog chronicling their current and past adventures at www.11visions.com.

To say the least, this summer promises to be an adventurous one for the two filmmakers.  They are slated to depart from Lake Itasca, Minnesota at the headwaters of the Mississippi River the first day of Summer, June 21, 2009.

“It’s going to be awesome,” Phillip says.  “I can’t wait!”  “I’m just glad we’ll get to share this with our fans while we’re on the river,” Jeanes adds.  “This time you can be on the river with us as we’re making the movie.”

The River is Life is scheduled for release January of next year.  To find out more about 11 Visions, The Hitchhiking MovieThe River is Life, and new adventures to come, visit 11visions.com.