I stumbled upon The Blu project about 6 months ago. It was the talk of the town (Hollywood) among CGI artists with an interest in the technology industry and its places of collision. Upon my initial understanding, I looked at it as a SecondLife with a differing setting. I was intrigued by the technology behind it, but I was not sure the driver for using the platform.

Yesterday, I got a call from my good friend (and fellow Kitesurfer), Jason Fass regarding the project. Turns out the world is smaller then you think, as Jason is working on the project and wanted to give me a quick brief. In many ways, my initial reaction was correct, although I had no grasp of the mission. Jason explained the opportunities of the platform to be a medium for writers, animators, students, and artists to build, share, and connect. And, this is just the start.

The platform also looks to the ocean-minded in all of us (and to my readers who are fellow surf fanatics). It will be launching on World Ocean Day on June 8th 2012 with OceanElders and WildAid on theblu.com.

OceanElders members are: Sir Richard Branson, Jackson Browne, Dr. Rita Colwell, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Dr. Sylvia A. Earle, Graeme Kelleher, Sven Lindblad, Her Majesty Queen Noor, Nainoa Thompson, Ted Turner, Captain Don Walsh, Neil Young and founder Gigi Brisson.

The event will unite individuals, communities, and organizations all over the world in a globally shared moment celebrating the beauty and significance of the world’s ocean. On June 8, the “Big Blu” whale, created by Academy Award winner Andy Jones (for Avatar), will be seen for the first time, and Ambassador Species sponsored by WildAid and OceanElders will be available for purchase. We suggest participants download now and log in early on June 8th.

The Official Words:

“theBlu” turns the Internet into a globally-connected digital ocean wherein every species and habitat is an original work of art created by Wemo Media’s worldwide community of artists, animators and developers, including Academy Award® winners Andy Jones and Kevin Mack, and students alike.

Exploring “theBlu” is as easy as browsing the web and includes information about species, exploration of geo-located habitats, in-ocean tagging of fish, the purchase of species to grow your collection and customize your experience, social activity streams, event and photo sharing, and ocean life swimming from user to user across the Internet, creating real-time social interaction.

At launch, “theBlu” will enable a connected social exploration across eight ocean habitats, including over one hundred life forms with new habitats and species released monthly, and fifteen “ambassador” species, sponsored by non-profit cause collaborators, to raise awareness and funds for ocean conservation. Currently a downloadable app for PC and Mac, “theBlu” will soon be available on phones, tablets and smart TVs.

The Education Component:

“With theBlu, Wemo Media is pioneering a new form of art and entertainment on the web fusing best practices from movies, games, and social media. theBlu provides an interactive forum for ETC students to explore the convergence of media with professional input. We’re excited to be collaborating with Wemo Media on this great project,” said Drew Davidson, CMU Entertainment Technology Center, Director. The platform will serve as a digital collaborative learning place for students and artists in CG and connect and explore. ”Bringing theBlu into some key pilot classes has turned out to be a very enriching experience for the participating students and from the perspective of curriculum development. Combining a traditional approach, of teaching a skill, with the incentive of applying those skills to a real world project has proven to be a very dynamic formula,” said Hans Westman, Academic Department Chair, Media Arts & Animation, Game Art & Design, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.




If you have hung out with me in the past few months, you have undoubtably heard me talking about Nitro City Resort in Panama. From the Nitro Circus umbrella, Travis Pastrana and Red Bull North America’s, Hayes Wheeless bring you an action sports resort beyond our wildest dreams.

“Picture a resort on a peninsula that’s an hour away from everything, quiet, with good food and normal girlfriend or wife stuff to do,” Pastrana says. “But if you want to skydive or ride motocross or use the cable park, you can do that, too.”*

Kite, wake, motocross, surf, windsurf, resort massage, 5 star dinner, some r&r in your chosen action sport themed room, repeat. Just heavenly.


I originally heard about the resort from my partner in Blowme Clothing, who runs Sirlin Enterprises as he has done all the graphics for the resort, from the boat decals to the tees. Josh has already booked his stay for September and it is clear I should probably follow in his footsteps. According to Josh, “you drop your girlfriend off at the pool and go play!”

The resort is described by the website as being the ‘closest white, sandy beach to Panama City.’* Equipped with luxurious beachfront rooms, two restaurants and a bar, a waterfront pool with waterslide, a motocross track, an extreme water sports center and a cable park it is clearly a resort for both worlds. It is Club Med, for adrenaline addicts. When can we get our fix?

According to Hayes Wheeless’s Twitter (Red Bull America and co-founder of the resort), the resort is almost done construction and on the brink of being public ready. I can hear the excitement building just among the kiteboarding pro community as I cover the Rosham Throwdown this week in Hood River.

“Tell me when it is open and I will book my trip tomorrow,” Slingshot pro rider and South east rep for wake and kite, Matthew Sexton replies excitedly to hearing about the resort for the time yesterday. He turns to the line of pros beside him, “who is in?” I spread the word to Jason Slezak and Sam Bell of Real Kiteboarding (on Liquid Force and Naish pro team consecutively), ‘you in boys?’ Nothing but thumbs from the kiteboarding front lines.

As I peruse through the Nitro City Facebook I see nothing but upcoming events in all the action sport disciplines. Wake dayz, Kite-cross, and notably past: Travis Pastrama skydiving in to announce the upcoming opening (http://www.youtube.com/v/7ZqToVVpqVQ?version=3). My gosh, the excitement is so high I can barely type this. And the room rates, all very affordable:

Preparing to get my adrenaline fix in Panama City as we speak…


Tunes for this post: Benny Benassi


Published on Linkedin by Orion Barka:
Orion Barka is the interim controller for Black Box Distribution

New California Registration Requirements for Out of State Retailers (“Amazon Tax”)

Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed a bill (“ABx1 28″ also called the “Amazon Tax”) on June 28, 2011. It clarifies the requirements of out-of-state retailers (ie. Amazon etc.) to collect and remit use tax on the sale of tangible personal property to California based customers.

The new provisions of law added by ABx1 28 are effective immediately. The bill has expanded use tax registration requirements to large out-of-state retailers who were previously not required to collect use tax on sales to California based customers. These retailers generally conducted sales to customers either through Internet, telephone, or mail order.

The intention of the bill was to generate additional revenue for California through additional use tax collection as well as level the playing field for the brick and mortar stores based in California who have to collect the 7.75% (and up) sales tax from customers.

As a result of the signing of this bill into law it has been reported that Amazon and other large internet based retailers immediately terminated relationships with tens of thousands of California based internet affiliates with whom they pay commissions which would have required the the Companies to register, collect and report use tax to the California state Board of Equalization. Which means that they can still sell the products to California but they won’t be using California affiliates (ie no income generated for California based businesses which means less income tax paid to the state of California).

From Transworld Business by Sara Fruman:

Amazon.com Inc. is seeking a referendum on California’s state ballot next year that proposes overturning the state’s recent law on Internet sales taxes.

Amazon must collect 500,000 signatures by September to get the initiative on the ballot. Amazon cut off ties to California affiliates after the state passed the law last month.

The law, widely supported by the state’s brick-and-mortar retailers, requires online retailers that have affiliates in the state to collect sales taxes from consumers.

Read more


KSP update: 2011 Tour Wild Cards

July 4, 2011: The IKA releases the final list of Wild Card recipients for the 2011 Kite Surf Pro world tour. The chosen riders are now invited to accept their tour license and secure their spot on this year’s KSP circuit.

IKA: “After the Wild Card application process for the Kite Surf Pro world championship tour was closed on June 1, 2011 an extensive voting process was initiated, involving 6 parties in the decision making process. The members of all parties were asked to submit a selection of their top 15 male and top 8 female riders. The parties involved were the National Kite Associations, the panel of judges, the IKA industry and media partners, the KSP and the PKRA wave riders committee.”

All submissions were assembled into the final Wild Card list that reads as follows:

Male Wild Cards:
Ian Alldredge (USA)
Patrick Rebstock (USA)
Josh Mulcoy (USA)
Ryland Blakeney (AUS)
Jesse Richman (HI)
Kai Lenny (HI)
Bear Karry (USA)
Martin Vari (ARG)
Patri McLaughlin (HI)
Nuno Figueiredo (POR)
Marc Ramseier (SWI)
Juan Pablo Diban (CHI)
Jeremie Eloy (FRA)
Sebastien Schmitt (RE)
Lee Harvey (GBR)

Female Wild Cards:
Kirsty Jones (GBR)
Kristin Boese (GER)
Adriana Harlan (HI)
Moona Whyte (HI)
Melissa Gil (CR)
Suzanne Kuiper (NED)
Marie Gautron (FRA)
Kelly Wren Strachan (MEX)
Milla Knese (BRA)
Ines Correira (POR)
Maayke Tadema (NED)

The list of “alternate” and “one-event” riders as well as further information about the proceedings can be found here: 2011 KSP Tour Wild Card release

For any further info please visit www.kspworldtour.com or contact us at info@kspworldtour.com




Snow Report 


Stoke of the past 



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