Outrigger canoes are functioning artifacts of South Pacific heritage. The boats, once used for fishing and voyaging, are now built to race: the sport has reached global dimensions, placing a newfound pressure on canoe design. There is now high demand for light and sleek boats -- crafted for racing, not fishing. But by altering the designs, traditional builders risk losing a direct tie to their heritage. In 2008, I apprenticed with the local boatbuilders in the South Pacific as a Watson Fellow. I raced the boats they built, and learned how address the changing character of canoe culture.
Dragonboat racing is one of the earliest known forms of boat racing and is celebrated at festivals and races throughout the world. The dragonboat is a symbol of Chinese culture, and the roots of dragonboat racing go back over 2,000 years to the southern provinces of China. I was part of Team USA that took gold at the World Dragonboat Championships in Qing Pu, China (2003); Sydney, Australia (2007); and Prague, Czech Republic (2009). I was, in fact, part of the crew that still holds the world record for the 500m distance, set in Sydney.
The Texas Water Safari, billed as the World's Toughest Boat Race, is an annual race on the San Marcos and Guadalupe rivers, from San Marcos to Seadrift, Texas, for a total distance of 260 miles. In 2011, I was part of the six-person unlimited crew that won the race, pictured below. The race took 39 hours and 51 minutes, constant paddling, no breaks. I thought I died. Twice. It was miserable. With this crew, we also won the innaugural Tour Du Teche in Louisiana, where we received the key to the city of Breaux Bridge, Crawfish Capitol of the World.
I volunteer as a math instructor at San Quentin State Prison as part of the Prison University Project. I taught upper-level statistics in Spring 2014, and I will be teaching intermediate algebra for the Summer 2014 semester. I don't have many skills that can directly serve people, unlike my wife who treats underserved communities as a primary care physician. But I know math. It's cosmically unfair that I was born into a family that values education, while some others have not and ended up incarcerated. This is what I can do to actively and productively engage with my community. And it has been a wonderful experience.
From Wikipedia: Speedcubing (also known as speedsolving or speed-cubing) is the activity of solving a Rubik's Cube or related puzzle as quickly as possible. Here, solving is defined as performing a series of moves that transforms a scrambled cube into a state where each of the cube's six faces is one single, solid color. I am a speedcuber. The image below is a mosaic of Martin Luther King, Jr. made out of Rubik's cubes by one of my favorite artists, Pete Fecteau.