Saturday, April 30, 2005

more thoughts on Methodist news

Rereading last night's very sleepy post - I realize I sort of left out a couple of key details.

As my dad & I were discussing this, if I remember correctly, he'd been uncomfortable with the idea of gay clergy mostly because of some broad general conceptions of "what gay people are like".

Now this is my dad we're talking about here - as I've mentioned before, my folks are very decent people. The thing is that I don't think they know a lot of gay people. So it's much easier for them, having few gay friends, to make broad generalizations.

Ever read that Monkeysphere thing? That's exactly what was going on in this discussion I had with my dad. He was thinking in terms of generalities. I was talking about friends.

Y'know...sometimes I wish there was some way to just take the people who are the most enthusiastic leaders of some of the most divisive stuff that's going on these days, and drop 'em in the middle of New York City. Make 'em hold down a regular job in a regular office, ride the subway, live in an apartment building with a bunch of different kinds of people.

The hope being that just seeing all sorts of different kinds of people every day, working with them, commuting with them, seeing them out in the park on a nice day - that gradually an awareness of the similarities (we all want affection, companionship, food, a roof over our heads) would start to chip away at the generalizations, while at the same time realization that the less healthy stuff people do also happens with all kinds of people could work it's way in through the broadening cracks in a formerly closed mind.

Probably wouldn't work, but I do enjoy imagining one of these people that wants to demonize any particular group of people suddenly being set down in a situation where they have to cooperate with members of that group - and every other imaginable group too - to make a living.

would take more than a quick blog entry to really explain it but that's one of the things I really like about living in New York - at least in the circles in which I travel, there's just not a lot of room for fear of "others". Being intolerant would take so much work, it's just not worth it.

does that make any sense at all?

Oh well. Happy for a quiet rainy day at home today. Then I'll be sailing all day tomorrow - looks like a good first day of schooner season! And by the end of yesterday I was feeling like I absolutely needed to get out on the river this weekend - best way to shake loose some of that work stress.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Methodist news...hmmm, interesting...

Oh yeah. Besides reading the Times this morning, I also took a look at Yahoo during the lunch break at the training session today - and was startled (but in a good way) to read that "The United Methodist Church appeals panel voted 8 to 1 to set aside the December decision by another church court to oust Irene "Beth" Stroud for violating the denomination's ban on "self-avowed, practicing homosexual" clergyvoted 8 to 1". Actually that wasn't exactly what I read, this article by Foster Klug in was actually the most recent one I found in a quick Yahoo news search tonight & goes into quite a bit more detail than the older ones did.

It is going to be fascinating to see how this develops.

I was visiting my folks around the time this case was drawing a lot of media attention. My dad & I discussed it - my folks are very active members of the same United Methodist church we attended when I was a kid, up until we left Hawaii in my junior year in high school, so he had a fairly clear view of what was going on.

My dad's take on it was quite simple. There's a law in the Methodist Book of Discipline that bans openly gay ministers. If the rule's in the book, the church can't just ignore it - it either has to be obeyed or it has to be changed.


OK, I have just spent the last 45 minutes trying to reconstruct the outcome of the discussion & also explain why I even care when I'm straight & not particularly a churchgoer these days & hence this isn't any skin off my own personal nose...but I am too brain-fried to do it. That line of asterisks represents a lot of deletions. Here's an attempt at a summary of some of my thoughts on the matter though...

I just don't believe a person's sexuality - as far as which gender they're attracted to - is something in which that person has a choice. And I was brought up to believing that it's unfair to discriminate against people because of characteristics over which they have no choice. Now - how a person chooses to, er, "deploy" that innate sexuality - monogamously in a committed long-term relationship, or otherwise - that's a choice. I bet that as a rule, gay people who want to be ministers are also going to be people who choose the monogamous long-term relationship, same as the straight people who want to be ministers. Main difference being that the straight people can marry the person with whom they want to have a monogamous long-term relationship while for the gay people, it's just a little teensy bit more complicated (load a little sarcasm on that last phrase)...wouldn't you agree? As for why I care - that's easy - aside from basically being opposed to discrimination just on principle - which is actually enough in and of itself - I've got a lot of friends who are gay & it really ticks me off when people beat up on people I like.

Well - back to the ruling - the crux of today's decision was actually this, according to the article I linked to:

"The panel said the ban was 'null and void' because the church procedures were not followed when it was adopted."

Well - if that's the case, then the new outcome is completely in line with my dad's argument, isn't it?

It is going to be interesting to see how this one comes out - but it actually made me happy to read about a church governing body deciding in favor of tolerance...specially after reading this earlier this week.

Avian news, bad and good.


I have had a very long week at work. Our business manager resigned and the 4 of us remaining in our immediate division have had to pick up her work until we get a replacement. She'd been with the company for 12 years. She took with her quite a store of knowledge - but she did attempt to transfer as much as she could. She did stick around to finish next year's budget but now we are going into our first month-end close without her, plus none of her day to day stuff is the sort of thing that can wait for her replacement (invoices from vendors & T&E reports were the bits I got). I have had to learn a LOT over the last 2 weeks, culminating today with a trip to the accounting office in New Jersey for training on the Hyperion Enterprise system. Sadly, that's not a spaceship, just sounds like one. It's an accounting system which I need to know. I also need to get proficient in Access - the one piece of your basic Microsoft Office suite that I've never used anywhere - pronto.

You know how they produce the foie gras for pate de foie gras? They take a goose, they shove a funnel down it's gullet, and dump corn down it. Well, my brain feels like I imagine a foie gras goose must feel after feeding time. Ugh.

What this has to do with bird news good & bad is that I had not had a chance to check up on Pale Male & Lola, the 5th Avenue Redtails, lately. Within a day or two after my marvelous visit to see them, I had seen the pictures of Lola mantling, spreading her wings over their nest as though shading a newborn from the sun (a sign of a possible hatching) on - but then the pace at the office started to pick up to the point that I didn't check for a while. Next time I looked...well, it had been a false alarm. I almost said something but I got feeling superstitious about it. Lincoln, the gentleman who maintains, hadn't given up yet, but today I saw this as I was reading the Times on the bus on the way to New Jersey.

That's so sad. And she just keeps sitting those eggs.

The good news was also in the Times - and it was really cool - seems that the extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker isn't so awfully extinct after all!

To continue yesterday's theme - that's cool!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

What's cool.

Y'know what's cool?

When somebody takes something that you see a lot, and then shows it to you in a way you never saw it before.

That's cool.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Justice Sunday (haven't ranted liberally lately have I?)

Quick post here...stealing my own comment from Cranky Liberal, ha ha!

I celebrated Justice Sunday by writing to my senators to tell them to stick to their guns & resist Frist. I'm in New York & my senators are both Democrats so that may seem silly but I figured that Justice Sunday probably inspired a lot of conservatives to write so I figured I should write too. Just to let 'em know, right?

Hillary even wrote back to me (or at least I got an appropriate pre-written letter expressing her agreement with me, but at least that way I know that my infinitesmal little squeak registered...)

anybody else not gotten around to squeaking yet?

Here, I'll make it easy for you!.

As far as commentary...I'm still at work! Have something I want to finish...anyways, Frank Rich is MUCH better at political commentary than I am.

Oh. And speaking of guns...

One more kind of funny thing...especially for anyone conservative who's stumbled across this blog & is getting ready to excoriate me for being an evil un-American commie hippie...I was doing a little sniffing around after getting curious about just what these 7 re-nominated judges did to make the Dems dig in their heels so deeply when 205 other Bush nominees went through jes' fine...

ok, maybe I'm stereotyping but I was kind of startled to stumble across this group - coming down on the same side of the issue as I did.

Ok. It feels weird linking to these folks, and I'm not making any kind of statement about their reasons for supporting the filibuster...but they obviously see that the "nuclear option" cuts both ways.

Why can't Frist et al be so farsighted?

Me, I've only shot a gun once in my entire life. Er...I would have to admit it was kind of fun. We - and that "we" included a very experienced hunter who made sure everything was being done safely - were out in the back 40 of Auntie K & Canoe' Buildin' Uncle's farm in Michigan. I killed that flowerpot dead, heh heh heh. Self-defense, it was clearly threatening me.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Longevity Quiz

I'm gonna live to be 94!

Assuming I don't get eaten by a shark, break my neck surfing, drown, stung to death by wayward Australian box jellies, or any of those other lovely things that listed in the standard waiver any reputable paddlesport outfitter would have you sign before they let you so much as wash your hands in the bathroom,

Wanna try?

this link brought to you courtesy of that prime purveyor of peculiarity, ScottChicken

eek, too many Scotts!

and actually there's no courtesy involved, I liked it so I swiped it, ha ha ha!

Need to go back to composing in Word...

awright...time to go back to composing in Word. Blogger ate HALF of last night's post. Including the part where I talked about how it looked like Scott & Jay had a goal to cover as much of New York City on foot as was possible in a few days' span, and then Cap'n Sarah's stellar Improv performance on Sunday, how excited we are about the schooner coming down this week & first All-Girl Crew Saturday next weekend, how excited we are about sailing in the BVI's in November. Then I also referred to some really nice things SeaLevel said about me after last Wednesday's pool session & how the main thing is to get REALLY comfortable with one roll, so you know you can always fall back on that - then all of the sudden you can really start to just look at rolling as playing, seeing what works & what doesn't...and then I finished with a comment that I really need to write this post I've been meaning to write about how I stopped being afraid of water back when I was a little small keiki in Hawaii!

And all of that got zapped! Poof. Gone. Hmph. Well, I will go back to doing drafts in Word. Can't complain too much about Blogger - the price is definitely right!

ps - there was a new comment this morning from Dumb Poet after the "visit to the redtails" post - very cool story!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Here Comes Boating Season!

Well, just as I have predicted more than once, as the weather warms up, my blog posts are getting a little more sparse!

Actually the week just past, I can't even blame on boating season. I'm apparently done with my role in producing next year's budget, so I'm finally, after quite a spell where I was feeling like I was very out of circulation as far as seeing my friends, able to come up for a little air & socialization. Thoroughly enjoying it too - the week featured dinner at a Mexican restaurant where they make the guacamole in a stone metate right at your table, organized by some friends who've had a lot of good news (a baby & a job...this is just fantastic for them in ways I don't even want to go into right now 'cause I don't want this to be a loooong post - but it just makes me smile so hard it hurts my face even to write that much!) that meant that they also got a little out-of-circulation for a while - that was great -

Then yesterday I actually got to meet Scott and Jay in person - as I think I mentioned, they were in town visiting Kristin and Brad and Beau. Y'know, the problem with reading blogs is that every blog I really like ends up having links to a couple more blogs I really like, and so on and so forth, and I run into this problem of having and infinite number of blogs to investigate while definitely wanting to keep my blog-reading hours finite. Heh. I notice I don't keep up with my favorite comics (Get Fuzzy, Kevin & Kell, Sluggy Freelance - er, is that really nerdy? - and a few others) as much as I used to 'cause it's more interesting to read about real people.

That's good, though, right?

We didn't make any real plans but I called Scott's cell phone just as they were about an hour away from going to the Rose Planetarium. Well, I can always watch a planetarium show, and happened to be conveniently kittysitting 15 minutes away (part of today's plan was to migrate back home to Brooklyn - I'm glad the kitties dads didn't get back on Friday 'cause meeting up with Scott et al would've been much more complicated if I'd been in Ditmas Park instead of right in the same neighborhood - specially%

Friday, April 22, 2005

My kind of international incident...

Uh oh...

international tensions are rising again...

New Yorker Sea Level:New York got his first roll last night...and our Spanish friend On Kayaks: A Kayak Journal might be...ooooh...just a titch jealous?

Kayak Wisconsin is too busy celebrating that the lakes in Wisconsin are now good for something besides ice fishing (oh yeah, and talking to telemarketers about his long distance plan while 2 miles offshore, ha!) to get involved. Me, naturally I have to be a troublemaker (specially 'cause I got to be at the pool when Sea Level bloggerguy got the aforementioned first roll, heh heh heh!).

'Tis fun, this blogging stuff!

I'm looking forward to meeting another blogger whose blog I really enjoy this weekend, too - Scott from Sardonic Bomb - he and Jay are in town & I'm psyched to meet up with them for a cuppa joe at least - although this is where me being Ms. I-Want-No-Electric-Leash & not having a cell phone complicates things...also some small chance that coffee or whatever with the Sardonic one might also involve Aaron of 1000 words, which would also be quite cool - I met him back at that big blogger bash back in December but wasn't that familiar with his blog at the time, plus there were about a zillion people there & I was feeling a little "wow, there are a lot of people here"-ish...

Anyways, got that to look forward to, plus one of my schooner friends is doing an improv thing Sunday after noon (and she's funnier'n'heck) pouring-down-rain weekends go, this could work out to be a good one!

heh. Blogger's new "recover post" feature is a nice thing, isn't it? I have no idea what I just did but I almost lost this one - came back to "create", hit "recover post" and poof, there it was!

Of course that's why I usually compose in Word...

ok, past bedtime!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Visiting the NYC Redtailed Hawks

If I had a dollar for every time I said I was going to write more on a topic, then didn't, I think I'd be up to...well, at least a couple of bowls of noodles at my favorite Chelsea noodle shop. But when I said I was going to write about visiting Pale Male and Lola on Sunday, that time I meant it, because that was absolutely remarkable. I have the occasional "I LOVE this town" moment. I also have the occasional "Only in New York" moment (balanced of course by the odd "I HATE this #@*&in' place", gotta have the balance). However Sunday was a combination of both "Only in New York" and "I LOVE this town". Those don't usually come along simultaneously. That's pretty unusual & very special.

As you may or may not know (depending on whether you're finding this blog for the first time or not), I live in Brooklyn but I'm kittysitting for some friends who live on the Upper West Side right now. I am also absolutely revelling in Spring right now - it's been a long, cold winter.

I have certain things I always like to do when Spring rolls around. Having lived in Brooklyn for a number of years, one of those things generally includes a visit to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, where my 2 favorite Spring things are the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden with all the cherry trees in bloom (ooooh), and Daffodil Hill. Aaaah - the picture doesn't quite do it justice, it's just a hillside, covered with daffodils, shaded beneath a massive old oak tree - you don't see the oak tree in this one which was the only picture I could find - she's got a bunch of nice ones of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens - sadly better than anything the BBG has, their site need a little help, at least on this monitor!

Well - what with the timing of this kittysitting & a lot of other stuff I've got going on, it looks like I'm going to miss that this year. However, the location of my friends' apartment meant that what I could do much more easily than I could from home was spend Sunday afternoon in Central Park, instead. The only time I really go there any more, since Prospect Park is so much closer & just as nice & not as crowded, is for the Corporate Challenge. Being up here, though, and having a 74 degree day in which to wallow (mmmm!) I couldn't miss visiting the Conservatory Garden, which is really a gem - it's a 6-acre formal garden, and a quiet zone, very special. Yeah, I'm missing Daffodil Hill - but the Conservatory Gardens has got the most astounding daffodil beds right now, ranging from the cutest daffodils EVER, called "Minnow", to flowers the size of my opened hand. Plus there were some tulips starting to bloom, and magnolia trees, and, oh, tons of other flowers. And it's still pretty early in the season, too - these were all in one small section of the garden, the one where they focus on tulips hasn't even begun.

Having gotten enough of a daffodil fix to make up for missing Daffodil Hill, it was time to head on to fulfill my primary goal of the day - visiting Pale Male and Lola, New York's favorite redtailed hawk couple, the ones with the highly visible 5th Avenue Address, on a large cornice directly across the street from Central Park's Conservatory Water.

It's almost ridiculous - I have been following their website like a total redtail groupie ever since I watched the documentary on them last year and then there was all the sturm und drang when the knuckleheaded co-op board decided that they didn't want those nasty old raptors messing up their sidewalk with pigeon bones anymore and took the nest down and took away the pigeon spikes so that every time the poor birds tried to rebuild, the sticks they put on the cornice would just blow away. It was riveting, actually. The hawk-watchers - including some of the building residents (notably Mary Tyler Moore!) - protested vehemently, and the media picked up the story (I even heard it on NPR one morning) and after a lot of terrible publicity, the coop-op board gave in & hired an architect to design a special cradle that would keep sticks & bits of hawk dinner from falling on the sidewalk. Even after that was installed, there was no guarantee that the birds would come back - after all, they'd been trying to rebuild all along, to no avail, they could easily have just given up on it if that went on too long.

So there was the drama of "Will the cradle be up soon enough" - and then after the cradle was installed, there was some maintenance work that the building needed to do & did as quickly as they could - and then after the maintenance scaffolding was taken down, there was that long hold-your-breath period waiting to see if they'd move back in. And they did! The website has amazing photography, and one hawk-watcher or another would post observations every day, reporting the progress on the nest. I got hooked. Then they started mating flights, and then the mating flights ended when Lola began to lay her eggs, and then there was the countdown to the probable date when the eggs would hatch (the 15th of April, looks like that's probably happened now!)

In short, I was watching these guys like some people watch "Survivor".

But for all my daily visits to their website, I'd never bothered to come uptown to actually SEE them. Bizarre, yeah? I finally realized last week that the best time to rectify that silly situation would be while I was kitty sitting up here - and that's not much longer. I made my first attempt on Thursday - the boss kicked us all out of the office early because it was beautiful out, and we'd all been working really hard. It was still light out by the time I got to the building (I walked up through the park) but I must have gotten there a little too late. I saw the nest - there it was, the real thing, just like in the pictures - but no hawks in sight - and, more discouragingly, no hawk-watchers visible on the benches by the pond. I figured if they weren't there, that probably meant that there wasn't much likelihood of seeing hawks.

So on Sunday I gave it another shot.


It was the most amazing scene I found there at the model boat pond.

I could see that the hawks were up on the nest as I approached from the north.

I could also see a huge crowd of people watching them!

It's really astounding - if a pair of hawks had actually decided to select a nest site ideally suited to allowing people to observe them in a pleasant, peaceful, and enjoyable ambience, I don't think they could have done much better than this. The cornice is well above the trees along the avenue, offering people on the west side of the pond a completely unobstructed view - with shade, and benches, and model sailboats racing in the foreground.

The hawk-watchers are great - I keep referring to "the hawk-watchers" and I should explain that there really is a coterie of individuals who are completely devoted to observing these birds & have been watching them for years. These are the people who were featured in the "Pale Male" documentary that aired on national TV last fall, and then rallied to save the nest - without them, the whole story would've been a shrug of a paragraph somewhere in the back of the Metro Section, if that. They saved the nest - people like me just watched & thought "neat!".

So what they do, now that everything's ok, is come to the pond as often as they can to watch their beloved Pale Male and Lola. And they bring their high-powered birding scopes and let passers-by use them to see the hawks, and they answer questions, and they all look very happy to be doing what they are doing.

I started by asking one gentleman who had 2 telescopes set up - one for looking at the hawks, one for observing the half-moon that was up in the sky - whether there'd been any babies spotted yet - he said it was difficult to tell, they were due but even after hatching, they'd be too far down in the nest to tell. A couple were using the hawk nest telescope - as soon as they were done I asked if I could see.

And there they were. You could see every feather, and the sun glowing in their eyes...oh yes, and the dismembered pigeon that Pale Male had brought Lola for dinner. The gentleman with the scope had actually mentioned that & the woman before me had made a little "ew" noise, then said "you might not want to" & laughed when she'd finished & I asked if I could take a turn.

Well...I see absolutely NOTHING "ew" about getting to watch a beautiful redtail with gleaming eyes eating her dinner while her handsome mate stands beside her on the edge of the nest - all right there in the middle of New York City. Unbelievable.

I didn't want to hog the telescope though - so after an awestruck minute or two I stepped aside to let the next person see.

As I did so I heard the owner of the telescope say something about "monitor" to a woman with a little girl.

I had noticed that there was a big crowd of people just a little further down. Hmmm. Monitor?

I could see the hawks without a telescope - but not very well. A monitor was definitely interesting. So I went over to check it out.

Well, there's a guy with a giant telescope hooked in to a giant tv! I don't know what size but it was definitely bigger than your average living room set. He had the whole thing set up on a cart, and dozens of people were watching. If I could see every feather in the telescope - well, on this screen you could practically see every barb in every feather. I took a seat on the sidewalk in front of the monitor - it was mostly kids who were sitting, but there were a couple of grownups sitting on the ground besides me(I think they were some of the serious hawk-watchers too, and it was great, they were answering everyone's questions. A couple of the kids were a little squeamish about it, especially when Lola pulled off a really big chunk & couldn't quite swallow it & put her foot down on the bit that was sticking out, pulling it back out & tearing it into more manageable sizes (ok, that was a little icky - fascinating, though - although I was also relieved when she did, I was actually worried for a minute, she looked very uncomfortable!). Finally Pale Male looked up at the sky - and you could just see him decide it was time to fly (possibly because it didn't look like there were going to be leftovers & he still had enough daylight to go catch something for his own dinner). I was looking up at the nest when he launched himself into the air - you could hear the intake of breath from everyone there - & flew off in a northwesterly direction.

And then we all just started clapping.

What an experience for the kids that were there.

What an experience for ALL of us.

And this guy just DOES this! For people! He wasn't asking for money or anything as far as I could see, just brings this setup to the park & runs it until the batteries run out!

Of course it turned out to be Lincoln, who's the guy who does the website too. He's amazing. I'd actually emailed him to say how much I'd liked his site, once, and he'd responded, and after the batteries died shortly after Pale Male flew away & he said "Sorry, that's it for tonight" and I heard somebody say "Thanks Lincoln" I thought about introducing myself but I was a little too shy.

Amazing. Just amazing.

Kate Walker, Keeper of the Robbin's Reef Light from 1894 - 1916

Now here's a lady I wish I could've met!

Thanks to Drum Guy for making me get a little more curious about the history of the Robbin's Reef Lighthouse! Enjoy the story!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Ho Hum, Just Another Paddle to the Statue of Liberty...

That was just about the most perfect weekend, the one that just went by...

Ignacio! I know you asked another question - I just have to talk about my perfect weekend first! Don't worry, I didn't forget you!

The weather was fantastic. Spring in New York, as I think I've remarked before, can be a wonderful thing. Mid-60's Saturday, just cool enough to not completely suffocate in a coated-nylon drysuit - water temps are still in the mid-40's so that's what smart paddlers are still dressing for.

My friend Larry has been getting back into kayaking after a life-happened break last year - he suggested a trip to the Statue of Liberty; nothing fancy, no stops for lunch, no spontaneous excursions to Venice-on-the-Hudson, just a plain-vanilla run-of-the-mill paddle to the Statue of Liberty (anybody disliking me now? heh heh heh). Sounded perfect to me. Low water was at 9:30, so Larry called for an 11:30 launch. Carl, who's pretty nes & Roger, who I've known since my days as a partner at Manhattan Kayak were also in on it. Nice group. A separate Sunday paddle also started forming up - I have no idea where they ended up going, the ideas were flying thick & fast - I would almost have been tempted to go twice but Sunday it was supposed to be 74 degrees, which is well above the point at which suffocation commences for the coated-nylon drysuit wearer, so I wasn't even tempted (anyways, I had some very specific on-land plans for Sunday).

We launched at 11:30 - maybe a little bit later, my train decided to go express after Columbus Circle, so I had to go to 14th street & go back up - good ol' Metropolitan Transit Authority, they are so sweet about making sure you don't get bored with trains that always do the same thing day in & day out (grrr). Anyways, we probably launched more around 11:45. The water was still ripping south much faster than it should have been 2 hours and change after low water, and it was still very brown & murky. The spring snowmelt was clearly still having an effect that would overpower the northbound current. Seeing that, we did discuss whether northbound might be better, but since the Statue is not that far away & we're all pretty strong paddlers, we decided to go even though the 4 miles home would most likely be against the current.

We had the river pretty much to ourselves, although Barbara, who runs the branch of the Offshore Sailing School that shares the dock with the my schooner, was out giving a lesson (they had a beautiful day for it too, wind 10-15kts, just right for a beginning sailing lesson). I was actually surprised - our last really nice weekend, it seemed like everyone was out. But of course I have to remember that most recreational boaters who don't wear drysuits would pick the 74 degree day over the 64 degree day.

It was a lovely and completely uneventful trip. I like those, actually. We did find ourselves somehow at the center of a confluence of tour boats as we got down towards the Statue (I counted 6) but we were sort of in from the path that those guys travel to take their tourists to the Statue so although we did tighten formation a bit, it wasn't bad. Although I didn't have my VHF on so I couldn't tell if the captains were cussing at us. They were really loaded with tourists, too - I always laugh a little when a heavily laden tour boat passes the Statue, all the passengers run over to one side & the entire boat heels like a sailboat! Looks funny. Or maybe that's just me. Hmm. Random thought here - when you lean a kayak, it turns - I wonder if that happens with, say, a Circle Line boat? They went past us fine, though, and we paddled on around the Statue (noticing that they've got the security zone markers back out - they take them in for the winter, and it makes life much easier when they are there & you don't have to estimate that 150-yard distance from the Statue & Ellis Island that you have to maintain if you don't want to get fined), and headed back north again.

We did find ourselves going against the current most, if not all, of the way back up. The wind did do exactly what the marine forecast said it was going to do - it was blowing from the northeast at 10-15kts as we passed Ellis Island, but by the time we got to the Holland Tunnel ventilator shaft, it had swung to the SE - which was very considerate of the wind gods as that gave us a tailwind & a bit of a following sea to surf.

When I say nobody else was out, I should mention that I mean no other kinds of boats. We did see 2 paddlers we didn't know coming north by Liberty State Park as we were heading south - and then we also ran into the Manhattan Kayak Company afternoon "north-south" tour (these are 1.5 hour tours, called "north-south" because it's always just a simple out & back). That was particularly nice because O & D, the couple from the rolling class I assisted at in February, were on that. I'd actually been wondering if they'd been getting out much now that MKC is getting back up to speed. O of course wanted to see me to hand-roll (Eskimo roll performed without a paddle) my Romany - I can actually hand-roll it, but I actually out of rolling at all 'cause the water was still the wrong color for rolling - brown, not green. Last week, a paddle blade dissappeared the minute it went beneath the surface - this week, you could see a little more of it but that water is still mighty muddy. When it gets back to green I'll start rolling, it's definitely up to a temperature that's OK with a neoprene hood.

Beautiful Spring day on the water. I'm definitely getting my Spring paddler tan - I call it my Siamese-cat tan 'cause my face gets brown, and my hands get brown, and the rest of me stays marshmallow white!

Lots of activity at the barge again - this week, New York Outrigger, the outrigger canoe club that keeps their canoes there, got their 6-mans back down onto the dock & rigged for the season, and in addition to the North-South tour we ran into, there were 2 private lessons being taught back at the barge, and a bachelor party getting a short intro before going out for a trip in doubles. Things are definitely ramping up! Last week we'd been happy to get a beer - this week, we were thrilled to find that the grill was open too, so we're back into post-paddle Bargeburger & Beer time of year.

Although it might have been just a titch early on Saturday. I ended up shivering a bit - I wasn't really dressed for sitting out in 64 degree air on a breezy day to eat. But I just couldn't resist that first al fresco burger of the season after such a good paddle. Oh boy. I think I need to keep tonight's post to a trip report - it's getting pretty late & I'm sleepy! I think I will have to write about paying a call on the redtails tomorrow.

Looks Like An Eyas

I plan to do a bit more of a post tonight (as long as I don't remember yet ANOTHER thing I have to have done before I leave work...long day) -

but just a quick one now - because it looks like at least the first of Pale Male & Lola's eggs have hatched!

"Eyas", by the way, is the name for a baby hawk. Curious word, isn't it?

I actually went to pay them a visit yesterday - for the first time, believe it or not, I've just been watching their website! It was quite wonderful. I'd rather write about it at home though.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Senior Surfers.

I LOVED this.

No real post tonight. Dinner just got delivered (got home too late & too hungry & too lazy to cook) and it is very important that get going on my big plan to watch a bad movie tonight. Heh heh. The Matrix part 3, actually. I loved the first one, wasn't so crazy about the 2nd, and then the 3rd I just heard such horrible things about I saved the money, so I'm finally going to watch it & see if it's as awful as I heard. Time's a-wasting.

But I did want to share that article. That whole thing about what these folks say about staying out there - that's what I want to be saying myself when I'm their age.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

4 More Answers & Pau for Now!

Oh man. I said something recently about how one of my less favorite things about me is my tendency to go on, and on, and on, and on some more when sometimes it’s just as or more effective to be succinct.

All three of my tag-ees did all 20 of their questions in one swell foop. And they gave really cool answers too. I was reading 'em & going "Oh, so that's how this game should be played".

here they are again -

Sardonic Bomb
Tuna Girl, and
Some Amusing Blog Pun

My goal, tonight, is therefore to finish off my 4 remaining questions. I should be able to do that!

Karen asked why I finally started my blog:

This January, we had some really cold weather in New York, and the Hudson froze. We have a kayak listserve here in New York, NYCKayaker. My joke has been that I started this blog to keep myself from picking fights on the list – it did used to be prone to foul-weather flame wars over the most idiotic things. Seriously, though one of my outlets for can't-get-boat-in-water induced cabin fever before this year had been posting long, rambling meditations on various aspects of paddling to the list. However, last year I ended up getting in a couple of “back-channel” squabbles with different people, and somehow the words “egotism” and “snob” seemed to be being thrown in my direction on an awfully regular basis.

Well – I don’t think that was quite fair, but it did make me think a lot about the nature of the listserve, and the nature of my posts, and whether it really was appropriate to inflict all those words on the inboxes of a bunch of people who weren’t exactly going “Oh, please enlighten us BCU-starless mortals with more of your wisdom, oh bonnie13!”. I got really self-conscious & decided to stop. But then the blizzards hit, and the water froze, and I couldn’t go paddling, and all those pent-up words were stacking up in my brain & I really did want to let them out to play somewhere. I’d been getting a kick out of reading blogs since my friend Bobo had first told me about his, shortly before he came to NY for the first “GB NYC” gathering, and my friend Larry, who’d blogged very briefly during a rough point in his life, kept saying that I had to have a blog, and at this point I decided maybe that maybe a blog really would be a better venue for my ramblings. That way, the only reason anyone would read them would be because they wanted to – not because I’d gotten a whim to post some interminable monologue on some listserve. I may still be an elitist snob of a paddler, but at least I'm not boorishly inflicting my elitist snobbishness on an entire listserve simultaneously! Heh heh heh.

Ignacio asked: When was the last time you spent lavishly?

Well – having been laid off several times, although never out of work for long, I tend to be a bit on the frugal side. Got my kayak & a great apartment, that's the main thing! But last October, one of my sailing friends (Capt. Sarah) & I went off for a week in Maine, sailing on the schooner Lewis R. French
. That was fantastic. We both work on the schooner Adirondack, and it felt like such an utter luxury, after a long summer of working hard on our own boat, to go sail on somebody else’s boat and have Capt. Garth and his really awesome crew taking as much care of us as we take of our own passengers. More, in fact – the Adirondack ROCKS and if you come out with us, we will take you for a fantastic sail on our beautiful boat, and try to make sure you have a great time for the 2 hours you’re aboard, but we are not going to throw a lobster bake on a deserted island for you, or find you the sheltered harbor where the boat will rock you to sleep in the gentlest way possible even if a cold front comes whistling through in the middle of the night…nope.

Mmmm. Boy, that was fun. We did utterly and completely fail to be ladies of leisure – if there was something to be hauled or hoisted, we were always right there, but that’s ‘cause we’d both rather sail than just watch other people sail. It was all voluntary, though – and we only did the work that we thought was fun (didn't have to scrub the head ONCE, yahoo)!

Back to Karen…sorry, being random!

Have you ever been in love?

Well…I couldn’t finish with this one ‘cause it makes me vaguely sad. Somehow I don’t do the dating/relationships thing really well. I find the dating scene in NY to be slightly offputting. Offputting in the same way that I find that ad for that online dating service, True, where the caption for the ad is “Find True Love”, and the photo above the caption is a large pair of breasts, barely restrained by a white bikini, to be offputting. Now if the caption just said “Find Big Boobs”, that would still kinda make me go “ew”, but at least it would make sense…call me a prude, though, but I have really bad time equating a totally anonymous pair of tits with love. Sorry, sidetrack there but I keep seeing that ad on Sitemeter and it just makes me want to gag a bit every time I see it. Anyways…I did date a guy for 2 years, a few years back. I loved him – he liked me. The nice thing - even if it doesn’t sound nice – was that he never led me to believe otherwise, which is why we’re still friends. I have this funny persnickety cavil about the phrase “being IN love”; I feel like for something to count as being IN love, there should be some reciprocality. That’s never happened to me. Anyways, the older I’m getting, the harder I’m finding it to imagine that happening – and the harder I find it to imagine that happening, the less I worry about it. Usually.

Or that may just be some big time sour grapes after I’d found myself getting all unaccustomedly fizzy over somebody for the first time in a couple of years, last year, and in the end not only did nothing happen, but it turned out I’d totally misread the entire situation and it ended up being a big disaster and all I can do now is try to keep working through it. I’m a lot better now than I was a couple months ago. Oh well. Sour grapes are full of Vitamin C, right?

Finishing off with something FUN – although can’t be concise here! Kayaking! Woo hoo! My FAVORITE!

What do I like so much about kayaking?

Lots of things. I love being outside, on the water. I love watching terns fish (and fish turn, too!) It put “live water” back in my life in New York City. I tend think of oceans and rivers & other naturally-occuring water as being somehow almost alive – I like swimming in a pool but for the first 6 years I lived in New York (before I started paddling or even knew that people did kayak on the Hudson) I really missed getting out in or on open water – the ocean was such a part of my life as a Navy brat growing up in Hawaii that…well, I’m just not happy when I’m landlocked. God, after I moved to NY, but before I figured out a way to get out on the Hudson, I would just live for that week when I’d go home to visit my folks in Hawaii, or we’d have a family get-together in Michigan that would include a trip to my Aunt K & Canoe-Buildin' Uncle's tiny cabin on the Manistee River. Kayaking meant that I could actually get out on the water right here in NYC almost anytime I wanted to.

I also love that paddling is a very cumulative sort of skill – you never have to stop learning (part of why I like teaching so much is that I find that when I’m teaching, I’m learning, too), and no matter how well you do even the most basic strokes, you can always get them even better with practice. There’s something very meditational about it, too – living in NYC can be hectic and stressful, and I can get caught up in day-to-day stuff, and my mind just gets locked into a spin, like a dog after it’s own tail (except that the dog is at least having fun & my mind is just stressing itself out). But out on the water, your attention has to be there on the water, on your boat, on your form, on your strokes and on whatever or whoever else is on the water around you. It doesn’t matter how fast my mind is racing over something when I get to the barge – by the time I’ve changed into paddling gear and prepped my boat, I’m already letting it go, and by the time I’ve warmed up, relaxed, and gotten into a good paddling flow, all I’m thinking about is where I am and what I’m doing at that moment – and how beautiful it is out there, and how happy I am to be out there, enjoying the rhythm of the waves, flowing with everything else.

There! All pau! Unless anyone else actually has 5 more questions for me. Otherwise I will have a nice short trip report tomorrow and then take a break Sunday & maybe Monday. Phew. Next time I do a Q&A meme I really will try to keep things shorter!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

More Answers...

Well - time to tackle the Scott-O-Rama who's-your-most-influential-person question.

Once again I can't just answer it with a nice simple one-person answer. And once again I have to be a complete and utter nerd...the answer is "my parents". Gotta be both of them 'cause they're a team, and there is no possible way that I can separate their combined influences and say that one was moreso thatn the other.

That may sound dorky but first of all - I'm a navy brat, so there were some continuity issues with anyone else who might otherwise have won the honor, and second of all - well, I just got really lucky in the parental department. Not that I always realized that when I was a kid, but as always, hindsight's 20/20 and a lot of the things I saw at the time as them being mean and awful and uncaring, I look back on and see as them being good parents & teaching their kid about responsibility, self-discipline, and respecting boundaries, because that was their job and important to do well, even if it meant putting up with an emotional, hypersensitive kid's temper tantrums, door slamming, tears and "I hate you"s (I think I was particularly awful in the early teens). None of which can be much fun for a parent. My dad was very strong on teaching me some things (especially about responsibility & self-control), either directly or indirectly, my mom was better on other things (especially taking other people's feelings into consideration, and being considerate) - and what was great was what I got from each of them was balanced by what I got from the other.

They were the ones who taught me fun things like how to love books, and the outdoors, and that recipes are guidelines, not rules, and less fun things, like "life is unfair", and "it's wherever you left it" (2 of my mom's favorite phrases) and "work isn't always fun, that's why it's called work" - that was dad's. They gave me a solid set of values that has served me pretty well in life, but instead of just trying to load me up with their own morals and ideas, they raised me to look at things like that, think them through, and make my own decisions. We don't always see eye to eye now - but that's because they brought me up to think for myself, and darn it, I do. I grew up to be my own person - but they gave the person that I am an awfully secure foundation.

That's about as in depth as I can get here without going autobiographical.

Let's see - what's next - how about Sardonic Bomb Scott's

Do you believe in ghosts?

Um...honest answer...I don't know!

I've never had a paranormal experience myself. But I grew up in Hawaii, and there's just such a ghost-story tradition out there that somewhere in some corner of myself it's hard not to believe... There are also some old friends of my folks' who had a very old house in Connecticutt at one point. They said they had ghosts there. The one I most clearly remember them talking about went something like this - There was a gravel walkway that ran alongside the house, and a separate garage that had a room above it with a set of wooden stairs going up on the outside of the garage. I remember Mrs. F saying that when they were living there, they would occasionally hear someone running up the gravel walk and up the stairs - but nobody would ever be there.

This was a nice, normal, down-to=earth family - Mr. F was a submariner like my dad. Mrs. F wasn't particularly trying to tell a ghost story, or be scary, it wasn't Halloween, I think we were just sitting in her kitchen having tea one afternoon, and she was talking in a very matter-of-fact tone of voice.

Difficult to say there's no such thing after that. I haven't seen one. But if seeing something were a prerequisite for me believing in it, there would be an awful lot of things that I didn't believe in!

OK - I'll close tonight with one of Karen's -

What makes Bonnie tick?

I don't know yet! But obviously an ability to get an immoderate amount of glee out of tagging innocent bystanders with memes is one small gear in the tick mechanism...heh heh heh.

This leaves me with 3 more of Tuna Girls's questions and 1 more of Ignacio's questions. As Tuna Girl (Karen) pointed out in a comment tonight, I'm still short 5. She's offered to send me some of hers...I'm not sure I could do them justice so if anybody else wants to ask anything (preferably non-x-rated as I mentioned yesterday...oh, and now you may better understand why I am so tempted to tell my folks about this little blog effort of mine...), ask away!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Answer Post # 3

Wow, well that got very heavy last night. I had no idea what time it was getting to be - and between getting way too into writing and the fact that I'd worked a 12 hour Saturday, a 14 hour Monday and a 12 hour Tuesday...I'm kinda wiped out tonight. Decided to walk up through the park after work tonight then come home, cook myself something yummy for dinner (pasta, prosciutto, and peas, a recipe I got straight from a Cipriani - fo'real! - didn't come out quite as good as usual 'cause I was doing it from memory & I got the flour to milk proportion a little wrong - nothing some fresh-grated Romano couldn't mend though) and then do a couple of the easier questions. Goal is bed by 11:00 & 8 hours of sleep. OOOOH - on the walk up through the park, I saw a screech owl! Cutest little guy - I noticed a bunch of people with some serious professional wildlife photographer type cameras (ultratelephoto lenses and stuff) and went over and asked them what they were seeing and they pointed him out (he was sitting in a knothole looking like he was trying to decide whether he was really ready to get up & go hunting or maybe doze off for a few more minutes). Very exciting. Nice thing about Central Park for a non-birdwatcher who might not notice an interesting bird herself, but does like to see things like owls, is that if there is something as interesting as an owl around, it's likely to already have a few real birdwatchers in attendance - spot the birdwatchers, and they are always great about telling you what they're watching. In fact one of them loaned me a pair of binoculars. He was SO cute. Little round guy. The owl, I mean, not the birdwatcher - she was a she, for starters! There were two guys but they were glued to their cameras & even if they hadn't been I was so transfixed by the owl, they coulda been Johnny Depp lookalikes and I might not have noticed. The owl was an Eastern Screech Owl, the guy with the best camera said (his lens looked like it could shoot those footprints on the moon). Very very neat. I'm so glad I decided to walk through the park for a change. about some easier questions tonight!

I'll start with Sardonic Bomb Scott's:

How do you boil an egg?

You either put the egg in a pot of water, and then bring the water to a boil or you bring a pot of water to a boil and put the egg in - my mom has a specific order & I can't remember which it was but one of them cuts down on yolk discoloration. Boil until done (er - I have to admit that I'd need to check on the cooking time - I'm more of a scrambled eggs person myself, especially when I've just made spaghetti sauce & remembered to hold aside a little bowl of chopped peppers & onions & mushrooms to throw in) Drain water. Run cold water over egg (another thing my mom does - I think it makes it easier to peel - or was that the part that keeps the yolk looking nice?).

Phew. One down...5 minutes to, maybe I'll make that 11:15...

What novel would I make you read?

Well - this was tough. For starters, I'm handicapped in that I'm not at home. If I were home I'd go stand in front of my bookshelves until something jumped out. I tend to have my favorites - I think the one that spends the most time out being read & reread is for some reason is The Beautiful and Damned. My Dorothy Parker collection also tends to spend more time out on the coffee table by my supercomfy reading couch than away on a bookshelf - that's great for just a quick dip into before bed. But actually I think the one novel that everyone should have a chance to read is Moby Dick. No joke. One catch though. I think that everyone should have a chance to read this book just for fun.

I mean, here's this poor book - laden down with seriousness, and symbolism (The Whale Represents Such and Such, and the Gold Piece Represents Such and Such, and the Fish Bones in the Chowder At the Try Pots Represents Something Else Entirely, and so on) the reputation of being one of those daunting Books You Must Read, Classic of American Literature, Bane of the Essay Section of the AP English Exam...Big Book, Heavy Reputation, scary monsters.

Somehow I never ended up actually studying this book in school (there are some strange holes in my education caused by moves), and in fact I never read it until a couple of years ago. Never even CONSIDERED reading it in fact! I was frightened off by the size, and by this general sense that reading it was going to be more an exercise of willpower than a pleasure.

But then one day I was browsing a used book seller's table & I found a secondhand copy paperback edition for a buck & said "OK, if this is such an Important Classic of American Literature I suppose I should at least give it a shot. I took it home & got going - completely prepared to be bored to tears and give up in complete mystification after the first chapter..

I could NOT put the darned thing down! I think I was up until 3 am. I mean, there under all the Heavy Reputation is one HELL of a good yarn! He picks you up, he sets you down first looking out at the sea, then getting ready to go whaling, then off to sea, and you're out there on the sea, on a sailing ship, after a whale, you can just hear the wind in the totally rocks. Really. Awesome. Stuff.

Now - no, I'm not proud that I don't know all the Heavy Deep and Real stuff behind it. Anybody who HAS studied it would recognize my facetious comment on the symbolism of the fish bones as a statement of someone whose impression of looking at this book on a scholarly & analytical plane is based entirely on the long ago grumblings of classmates who were writing term papers on it. Now that I've gotten familiar with it on the simplest level, I think it would actually be fun to go back & delve into the more mysterious stuff underneath. But I'm actually sort of glad that my first actual reading WAS just for fun - and that when I say fun, I really do mean that!

I guess what I'd really like the most for people to get is that moment I got to experience - when all the sudden I found that this piece of literature I'd always somehow thought would be ponderous and dull turned out to be...well, really pretty damned cool.

ok...2 more! these ones I can do quickly...

Ignacio is making me blush...

Would I wear a black velvet dress with a simple diamond necklace?

Well - I have a very nice little black velvet dress - haven't worn it in ages 'cause fact is it's the sort of thing that I, at least, would only wear if I wanted to look good FOR somebody who was actually going appreciate that I was trying to look good for them. That particular planetary alignment hasn't happened in quite some time. However, back when it was happening (which is when I got the dress in the first place), I wore it with a small choker made of black, iridescent glass beads. I think I'd feel a little self-conscious with diamonds.

Short & unpainted fingernails?

Of course! Whaddaya think? Sailor/paddler that I am, scarlet talons are so not me. Arrrr.

In fact I've only had a manicure once in my life - nothing crazy, French tips, very subtle, an editor at a company I worked for years ago had gotten hers done that way & I kind of liked the way it looked & decided to be a girly girl for once. They looked great for about 10 minutes. Then I got my first chip. I don't understand how other women manage to actually keep nail polish intact while living a normal life that includes things like digging in a purse after change and, oh, opening doors and pressing elevator buttons. I sure couldn't.

I did my tags tonight! I've passed it on to a few people from my "All Their Fault" link list:

Sardonic Bomb
Tuna Girl, and
Some Amusing Blog Pun

Alan (Some Amusing Blog Pun) has drawn himself a few ground rules in the interest of preserving some dignity - seems fair to me. OK - although I was not as up-front about it, truth be known, if I had gotten any really x-rated type questions I think I might have done the same. Aside from the fact that I personally, having had a fairly conservative upbringing, would not feel comfortable with turning this into some blog version of The Vagina Monologues, there is always this thought in the back of my mind that I would rather not write anything in here that I wouldn't want my parents to read. I think they'd really enjoy knowing about this - I've been having a hard time not telling them about it in fact.

Too Many Words.

Wasn't that a line from Amadeus?

It's also a good name for this post - which is my next 3 answers.

Ok – got out of work later than expected (9pm, sigh) so can’t play with this as much as I’d hoped to tonight – but I will start with Scott-O-Rama’s 2 easier questions. Might do a 3rd if I get going well. Here goes…I think I’ll start light & fluffy!

1. If you could have any one super power, what would it be?

I think I would choose the ability to telepathically communicate with animals. Are there any extant superheroes that do that? Aquaman could communicate with sea creatures – and then of course he had the breathing-underwater thing going on – but I’d like to be able to talk to land animals as well. It would be especially fascinating to see how wild animals think – I already know a fair amount about how dogs, cats and horses communicate, having spent a lot of time around & read a lot about these three. For example – did you know that a direct look, to a cat, is a challenge, whereas if you glance at them & then close your eyes or glance away, that’s friendly? I think that part of why cats always seem mischievously drawn to people who dislike cats is that those are the people who are least likely to be staring at the cute kitty & kitty interprets that as “I mean you no harm”. But wild animals – that’s a whole different kind of mind in there, not one bred to be amenable to people’s whims. Just to be able to somehow let a wild animal know that I mean them no harm, so that they’d keep on about their business – that would be amazing. My grandparents on my mom’s side used to live in Basking Ridge, and there were whitetailed deer in the woods that backed up to their very large backyard – they’d come out at twilight to graze, and I remember going out and sitting with my back against a tree, waiting for them to come out, then when they did, holding as still as I could so that they would come close enough for me to really see them. And then my nose would start to itch. How nice it would have been to be able to just tell them that I was just going to scratch my nose now, no need to go bounding away.

Now I did go take the Quizilla "which X-man are you most like?" quiz just to get in the superpower frame of mind. I was most surprised to find that I am most like Professor X.

2. What do you most fear?

I have terrible stage fright – I literally start shaking when all eyes are on me. Ensemble performing is fine - I’m actually a pretty good singer, and at one time sang with an excellent choir – I loved the blending of the voices, fitting mine in with all the others. I also play Irish traditional music on the tin whistle - I used to play the flute when I was younger so that would’ve been the obvious choice except that my good concert flute with the B-flat foot got stolen in college, the cheap student-flute replacement I bought a few years back just isn’t the same, and a tin whistle has decided benefits – it costs fifteen bucks tops and I just keep one in my backpack so it’s there if I get a whim to go play at the Tuesday night session I attend one every few months. Mixed in with other people, I am a passable, or at least inoffensive, musician – I can relax and just let the tunes unwind. But if it comes my turn to start a tune, and I start something that nobody else knows and find myself playing an unplanned solo – even if it’s a tune that I can play perfectly well – I just get more and more scared until I stop.

So how does a person with stage fright become a kayak instructor? Actually, the reason I can is that when I’m teaching, and a class is going well – it becomes very participatory, feels more to me like an ensemble than me giving some sort of performance for an audience. Even during a dry-land class like chart reading, or tides and currents, I’ll strive for a discussion, not a lecture – I’ll guide it enough to make sure we get to the points I think the students need to know, but the less I have to steer things to do that, the better I like it.

3. What are you the most proud of?

I am very proud of the number of people with whom I’ve been able to share my knowledge of paddling and my love of the Hudson specifically and “live water” (which is how I tend to think of oceans and rivers and lakes in general, as opposed to…well, pool water, which is tamed water, not alive in the same way). But I think the thing that gives me the most confidence in myself, at a level I never had before that day – was something I did on September 11th (yes, sorry, going there again) between the 1st & 2nd hits. I had run into the mall at the base of the towers when the first plane hit WTC 1– as the police began to evacuate the mall, I ended up leaving via the Church Street subway station, which extended pretty far north (I wanted to stay underground as long as I could because I didn’t know if it was safe up above). I walked through the doors to the station to find that an E train had just come into the station & let off a trainload of morning commuters who had NO idea what had just happened (remember – this was maybe 2 minutes after the first plane) and all started to walk towards me to go into the mall to go to work.

I stopped. I looked behind me into the mall. No police. I looked at the token booth clerks. They didn’t seem to have any clue that anything strange was going on. No announcements were being made. So I stopped where I was and began to make announcements myself - using my strongest river-guide “authority” voice to say that there had been an explosion, and the mall was being evacuated, and no one should go in there. I kept it up until people were mostly turned around & the word was clearly being passed to people further back. I didn’t want to be there – I was scared half to death myself, I didn’t know what was happening, I had just heard this terrible explosion above me just as I was going inside & I fled inside without looking up (cold war “don’t look at the fireball” training kicked in). The whole time I was turning people back from going in (which felt like an eternity but can’t have been more than two or three minutes max) a rather resentful little voice in my head was whimpering “This is not my job, I shouldn’t have to do this” – but then there was another not-so-little voice saying “Somebody should do this and nobody else is. So do it.”

I would not call it a major act of heroism – more a minor courageous moment – and just one of a whole lot of courageous moments of all magnitudes went on there that day. But the fact that I was able to listen to the not-so-little voice, the one that was thinking about other people’s safety, not the little voice that said “Not my job!” (which was actually absolutely true, it wasn’t) and have even a minor courageous moment even when – I think that was pretty good.

Understand, of course, that I’d give it all back in a snap if there was some way to undo that day.

And talking about it feels like bragging.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

1st answer!

heh heh...ok, Sardonic Scott's question on what do I look like? that's easy -

December 7th post, 1st picture I'm the one in the light blue cardigan with a Cosmopolitan.

And here's me being a little more amphibious:

I', the one in back as I hope you can tell. By the way what's going on here is it's a breezy Fall day and we are trying to see whether we can use our paddles as sails by holding them at exactly the proper angle. This is in my friend Harry's photo blog.

More answers after work!


I've been tagged!

Yep, Scott got the 20 questions meme (and has been posting some answers that are really impressive) and has passed it on to yours truly.

Here's how it works - you get to ask me up to 4 questions. I will answer the first 20. That's all.

I'm a little nervous. I'm regularly amazed at how open some of my favorite bloggers can be (I tried to do a list here but it started getting too long). I just have a rough time opening up that much in public. Oh, it does definitely happen but there has to be some serious impetus - I have to feel driven to say something before I do. I really admire people who have the self-confidence & trust to be that honest on a regular basis. I remember Karen (of Tuna Girl) commenting once about how Pua (of Warm Cookies with a Whisky Chaser) found it difficult to go into the really personal stuff – I wonder if this is a cultural thing, something you get growing up in Hawaii (and Pua, if you read this, I hope you’re doing OK) - I dunno.

Anyhow, be that as it may…if you’ve ever read this & wondered what makes Bonnie tick, now’s your chance to try & figure it out!

BTW…if anybody DOES figure out what makes Bonnie tick, you better fill me in ‘cause I’m still working that out myself.


Nope, on second thought, scratch that, working out what makes Bonnie tick is actually one of the things that Bonnie kind of enjoys about life (although sometimes that's hard to keep track of when Bonnie isn't ticking smoothly). Knowing would kinda wreck the surprise.

But looking for clues is always fun. So on that note - fire away!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Now that's what I call patriotism!

There are plenty of things about me that I’m not crazy about.

However, there are also a lot of things about me I’m rather fond of.

One of the things I sometimes don’t like is my tendency to blither on and on when sometimes it might be more effective to say less. However, that’s balanced by one of the traits I do like, which is that I am always ready to “STFU” and redirect attention to someone else’s words when I think they’re saying something important, especially if they are saying it really well.

My fellow Brooklynite "Dumb Poet" is utterly failing to live up to the first half of his Nom de Blog today.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Hudson River Spring super ebb treadmill time!

Yesterday was a 10-hour workday - no, wait a minute, I got there at 10:30 am and left at 10:30 pm. That's 12, isn't it?

Anyhow, long day, but the idea was that we all were willing to just stay and work as many hours as it took to keep from having to come in today (my boss & the sr. finance analyst did work from home - fortunately at my level, I haven't been suckered into remote access so if I'm not at work, I'm not working. I rather prefer it that way. This particularly paid off today as I was free to (yay!) go paddling!

What an incredibly perfect day. Mid-60's, sunny, warm - just as forecast. And the best thing was - everybody had come out to play! This was the first day that I paddled this year that we shared the river with anyone besides tugs, barges, ferries and other working boats - I saw a small powerboat, a jetski, and a sailboat that's berthed at the 79th St. Boat Basin all passing by right when I got there. Pier 63 Maritime, the retired Lackawanna Railroad barge where I store my boats, was bustling - on the water, Manhattan Kayak Company (which has now begun their season so I can quit playing dockmistress if I want to) had a good-sized tour going out, one of the MKC guides was just out practicing his advanced strokes & edging on his own, Eric, the founder, was repairing a boat that had gotten a hole punched in it over the winter (the private boat hold has racks with a space for each boat - the MKC fleet hold is a lot more about boats being thrown in & piled up, most of their boats are "plastic fantastics" - plastic boats can take a lot more beating than a glass boat - but they do have a couple of nicer ones & this one ended up with a big hole, which couldn't be fixed until the weather was warm enough for the resin used in repair to set), Danillo, the general manager, is back from Chile. In the private boat hold, there was the circumnavigation, the 3 of us going North to meet the circumnavigation, and a few other people that just came down for shorter paddles. Great to see everyone. And beyond the boaters, the barge was full of people who had just come down to sit & have a beer at the Tiki Bar (really, every kayak storage facility should have a Tiki Bar!) & watch the river go by on a beautiful day.

And my was there a lot of river going by. If you've been reading for a while, you may remember how I mentioned, after the Robbin's Reef trip, that we seemed to be getting into the time of year when the runoff from snowmelt can simply overwhelm the underlying estuarine tidal currents (as Tom put it today, "it's acting like a river") that ordinarily give us the ability to do long out & back trips without ever having to fight the currents? Well, if we were on the leading edge of that, now we're in the thick of it. The water was full of flotsam - all sorts of loose boards & driftwood & junk - and it was also full of dirt - it's ordinarily a deep olive green, and although it is not & probably never was crystal-clear (the bed is silty mud, after all, not stone) you can see, for example, the blade of your paddle when it's submerged. Today, it was almost a tan color - and your blade disappeared from sight the minute you dipped it in.

I refrained from rolling!

The ebb current velocity was quite spectacular. There's a cruise ship terminal we had to pass. Cruise ships seem to be considered a tempting terrorist target, so there is a 100-yard security zone around that terminal. Now - when a Hudson river paddler is working to make progress against a strong current (the currents in the Hudson can get up to 3 knots during max ebb. 3 knots is considered to be an average cruising speed for a skilled paddler. See the problem?) we usually try to stay as close in to shore as we can - the way the flow of a river works, the current is much faster in the middle, where the water is deep, than by the edges where it's shallow. In addition to that, if you have a line of piers, they will block the current on their downstream sides - we take advantage of that by ducking between the piers into the calmer embayments between them, going out into the current only to go around the end of each pier. Sometimes paddlers will actually paddle under the piers to avoid even that much - I was never crazy about that 'cause then you are in tight quarters in there, surrounded by pilings, and if a boat goes by throwing a big wake, you could get banged around a bit, but it's done. Well, since September 11th, that pier-ducking option isn't available in the cruise-ship terminal area (which covers quite a distance).

In the wintertime, when the cruise ships aren't in as regularly, we can sometimes get away with sneaking in a little closer - the security zone is there, but there just doesn't seem to be a lot of on-water enforcement (unlike the zones around the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, which are watched VERY closely). We still stay out a bit - but I'd have to admit that I don't think we do the full 100 yards off much.

Well - today, the Queen Mary 2 was in port and they were taking that 100-yard zone VERY seriously. Coast Guard Cutter Hawser was patrolling the perimeter - when they saw us coming, heading out to the requisite 100 yards off the pierhead line (and the Queen's big regal arse that sticks way out past the pierhead line), they fell in between us & the piers & stayed right there as we clawed our way north. And clawed, and clawed, and clawed. Current was picking up, too - low water today was at 4:21, and around here that's max ebb (anyone reading from a normal place where low or high water equals slack water - don't think about it too hard, it still makes my head hurt a little bit, I just accept it though!)...anyways, out there in the main force of this massive press of water, we were gradually making less and less progress. I did kick into high gear, just out of curiousity & was able to make noticeable progress, so I could have made it, but Rachel hadn't been out for a long time & was making slower headway, and Tom was somewhere between us, and (the main thing) we hadn't spotted so much as the flash of a paddle to the north yet - and by this time it was well past the hour at which we would have expected to see them.

We had paddled strongly and continously from 1:30 until 3:20 and made it all of a mile and a half. We were stalled out just south of the QM2. The cutter continued to hold position just behind us, keeping us to port so that they were between us & the ships they were guarding.

And so after a brief discussion - carried on while still paddling madly, one instant's letup meant instant loss of hard-won yardage - we decided that we'd had a lovely aquatreadmill workout & it was time to take the rocket ride home.

Remember - it had taken us close to 2 hours to get there. I checked my watch to mark the time we turned around (3:20).

We were swinging in to our home embayment at 3:30. Absolutely amazing.

I bet the Coasties had a good laugh over us. As for us, we decided that if we ever found ourselves in a situation where we wanted to blow something up, we'd use a motorboat.

The circumnavigation pulled in 35 minutes later. The same current that we'd fought for two hours was helping them, and they responded by kicking into "la-z-kayak" mode, enjoying the drift and making it more of a float trip than normal. They also investigated a waterway that used to lie between Ward's & Randall's Islands - it's marked on charts as non-navigable, but the definition of "navigable" is a lot broader for a kayak than most boats out there - and took a side trip to the Brother Islands (where Typhoid Mary ended her days) - hence their delay.

Drum Guy, being a rolling maniac, rolled despite the murkiness of the water. Harry, who's one of the Downtown Boathouse folks I like paddling with & Richard N.(another one of the DTBH cool people - he's an artist & boatbuilder who makes replicas of ancient kayaks - this was a really interesting one!) paddled by to say hello, people were coming off the water, getting onto the water, that dock we put in in December has never seen so much activity! Those of us who were in the "coming off the water" set put our boats away & repaired to the Tiki Bar for a celebratory post-paddle beer (and ravenous attention to the remnants of the circumnavigators's provisions, which were quite hearty).

Fabulous day.

Of course then I finished it off by snapping at someone I found had been messing around with my boat while I was having a beer (it wasn't malicious, the guy was trying to do something useful but he took my boat out of it's storage slot & I went down to put away a hat I'd been wearing to cut down on the sun glare & found it sitting out on the floor - if he'd bothered to get in touch with me and let me know, I would've said "sure" without a second thought, but I would never touch another hold tenant's boat without getting permission & I prefer people show me the same courtesy - that boat is kind of important to me), which was a bummer; the I decided to go home to Brooklyn tonight, riding the subway most of the way out there before realizing that I'd made sure the kitties were set for a sans-kittysitter evening, but forgotten my scratch that, took the Q back to Manhattan, walking over to Columbus Circle for the uptown C, only then I got on the downtown C...what was this, instant karmic payback for getting mad about someone moving my boat without telling me?

Oh well. Got things sorted out in the end. & now it's time for bed.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Too Much Work, Spring, and a Bad Ol' Days 42nd St Flashback

heh heh. I see on the first Blogger page that they're having a problem with the problem page. That really is a problem, yeah?

Now here we are scheduled to have some damned fine paddling weather this weekend – a little breezy Saturday, but not too bad, highs in the low 60’s, partly sunny, oh BOY. Too bad I have to work. And last week – plenty of time, and a fearsome gale shaking the windows in their frames. Clearly the Weather Gods are having a little fun with me. Ha ha, very funny.

Oh, well, at least Budget Hell is almost over. Although there is a presentation & I usually get involved in creating the PowerPoints for those – but we’re pretty close. Of course, Year-End Close Hell and Harry Potter Hell (ok, and just in case anybody’s wondering, no, sorry, I have to wait just as long as anyone else…er, I think I did make a similar statement once but left a loophole just the size of Johnny Depp wearing his Jack Sparrow costume – I may have consumed some scotch before saying that though) are on their way too. But I have a feeling this is the worst one – it’s this three-way collision of absolute drop-dead deadlines, one for the sales conference, one for the budget, and one for March month-end close, that makes it such a bear. I am working hard, and feeling it – and I think it’s showing - one of the people I sometimes work with on one of our reporting systems saw me in the elevator the other day & said “Oh, so you’re still standing?”

No gym time this week even after that special trip home after gym clothes. Actually I could have – but, as we say in Brooklyn:

Spring is Sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where
Dem boidies is?

Der little boid is on der wing
Oh, how absoid
Der little wing is on der boid!

Ok, actually I’m lying; I’ve never heard anyone say that in Brooklyn, except maybe me. The person who does say that is my mom, usually in Hawaii. My mom is from Jersey, though…but that doesn’t even count ‘cause y’know, you can be from JERsey or you can be from JOIsey and my mom is definitely from JERsey. But maybe she picked up the boid thing sometime when she’d made a trip into Joisey.

Whoops, overworked-scrambled-eggs-for-brains side trip there. I was talking about the gym & how I didn’t go – well, I actually could have, a couple of times, but god, it has been so gloriously Spring-y this week that I just have no desire to go down to the basement where the company gym is. It’s a nice little gym, they have all the machines you’d want (including a rowing machine, my favorite - naturally, and a versa-climber which I like ‘cause you are working out every single muscle simultaneously) – but it’s in the basement. That’s all. I prefer outside exercise, even if it’s just walking (I could run but, uh, I don’t really like to run that much, much rather walk for longer and look at stuff).

I’m just so bummed I’ll be stuck in the office tomorrow. Still, we may not have to work Sunday, and I have some friends who are doing a circumnavigation of Manhattan, so if we wrap things up tomorrow I may just send out a quick post on our hold tenant Yahoo group, see if anybody wants to paddle north to meet them coming down the Upper West Side. I wouldn’t try to get in on it even if Sunday is free – they are starting at a painfully early hour, and getting ready for a circumnavigation (28 miles, usually with one lunch break & one shorter “pit stop”) actually involves quite a bit of organizing the day before, which I doubt I’ll feel much like doing if we actually work hard enough to wrap things up (in fact I expect I'll be completely zonked).

I must say that at least I have gotten some GREAT after-work walks in this week. New York being Springy is pretty cool. I saw a guy with a hairdo exactly like a rockhopper penguin one night, and there was an incredible evening sky tonight, all pink clouds against a Maxfield Parrish kinda blue…daffodils…tons of people just out enjoying Spring, eating in the sidewalk cafes, not wearing hats, good stuff. Yay Spring.

I had a funny early-90’s flashback last night as I was crossing 42nd Street. The Executive (who was the one who got me to move to New York – that’s a story for another post) and another friend gave my first up-close intro to 42nd Street in the bad ol’ days (and yeah, they were bad, it really was pretty awful – it doesn’t have much character now, but the old 42nd street took character a leetle too far…) – he was living in the 40’s near 11th avenue, and the other friend and I had just taken a one-bedroom (I was straight out of college & so still OK with a dorm-room type living arrangement) on 35th street near 9th avenue – not too far away. The stretch between the Port Authority Building and Times Square was the epicenter of all that is debauched, debased, and…uh…diurnal, no, that doesn’t work does it…ok, screw the alliteration, it was the sleaziest block in town. We started at the Port Authority Building. Bobo gave me instructions: “OK, now if we get split up, just keep walking like you know where you’re going and are in a hurry to get there, don’t stare at anybody, don’t talk to anybody, don’t ask anybody any questions, and we’ll meet at x-and-such street corner”. Halfway down the block, weaving our way between the junkies and the hookers and the three-card monte guys, with the “LIVE NUDE GIRLS” signs flashing overhead, he leaned over and very quietly, and with a total deadpan voice, began to sing in my ear:

Oh these are the people in your neighborhood
In your neighborhood
In your neeeigh-boooor-hooo-ood…

I just about fell over laughing. Good thing I didn’t ‘cause one of the locals would’ve been required to kick me in the head & steal my purse if I had, those were the rules, y’know, but god, it was funny.

Anyways, walking through that area last night reminded me of that. Sure looks different now…

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Frogma Breaks 1000!

Woo-hoo! Frogma passed its' 1000th visit today!

I hope Scott of Scott-O-Rama reads this, it oughta crack him up, he and I both started around the same time & he passed 100K a while ago. Hey, just goes to show that shameless self-promotion, shirtless athletes and the Muppets doing "Mahna Mahna" have wider appeal than sea kayaking - no surprises there! (the Muppets clip absolutely rocks btw - I remembered how the song went of course but had NO recollection of the visual aspect of the thing and oh my god is it ever funny). In fact I think I will just go tell him that he needs to read this today because he will get a good chuckle out of it. S'alright - if I'd wanted to be popular I could've taken a couple of other routes but I kinda like the niche-y way this blog is turning out - it just kind of is what it is, I'm totally just doing it for fun, and if a few other people read it and enjoy it, that's great. Not too hard to make me happy.

Actually it was funny - Derrick at Kayak Wisconsin posted something about both of our blogs, and a couple of others, on at one point, which resulted in a bit of a surge - well, for one or two posts I fell into this "oh my god, I have to be interesting now" thing and it was almost NOT fun, but then I said to myself, "Wait a minute, this is my blog, it's just for fun, nobody's paying me and I'm under no obligation to anyone except myself". Then I figured out about the referral page (I am ultranewbie, I knew NOTHING!) and found Derrick's post and was actually relieved to find out where all these people were coming from. Phew.

Now of course if I take into account that everytime I post, Sitemeter seems to count that (not if I just go in to look at Frogma at home, but posts seem to count - I figured this out when there was still next to no-one reading & I'd noticed that I seemed to have one single very enthusiastic reader from domain name "". However I eventually noticed that this Mindspring person's visits always seemed to coincide with my postings, and finally one night when I hadn't had a single visitor all day & didn't post until some ludicrous hour and my faithful "reader" popped up like magic, I finally came to the conclusion that as I'd begun to suspect, yep, my "reader" was actually me. Followed the link to the Mindspring site & found that it actually went to Earthlink, which is my ISP, and that pretty much settled it for me. Mwah mwah mwah mwaaaaaahh...So technically I should count all my posts from the day I turned on sitemeter and subtract that number from the total, because me posting doesn't count, which would still have me below 1000 - but man, that's taking this number-crunching business I'm doing these days ENTIRELY too seriously. Especially when it's on my own time!

So to heck with that! YAY! Frogma broke 1000! Woo Hoo! Thanks everybody!

And I can't believe I've managed to keep this going for over 3 months. That's the amazing part for me, just knowing what a non-journal-keeping person I've been for my entire life. Well, it does make it more fun when other people can read it, and I can read other people's.

And wow, look at the time, I gotta go to bed now cause tomorrow the boss is back from the big sales conference in glamorous downtown Hoboken (or was it Jersey City?) and I was so wrapped up in watching my sitemeter today for the Big Moment(plus a little too much chitchat) that I got diddly-squat done.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Fending Off the Snarkies & getting going on symposium...

I’m home in Brooklyn tonight instead of with the kitties – somehow I ended up with no gym clothes up there & seeing as we are going into our weekendless 2-week work marathon as we finish up the budget, I have to have gym clothes ‘cause stealing time for an hour workout here & there is the one thing that is going to keep me sane through this. I’ve basically been a potato (albeit a potato that walks a couple of miles after work just because I HAVE to do something & walking’s one thing I CAN do in casual office attire) for the last week & between that, overwork & some other loose ends in my life needing to be tied up (I think they are now, not in quite the way I would’ve liked but in a “shrug, oh well” kind of way which I guess is ok) I can just feel myself getting crankier day by day. Kinda like Tuna Girl, my favorite funny/poignant/sexy/tough/warmhearted military-wife&mom blogger – she was feeling very very sad on Monday (her husband’s deployed & far far away right now so she’s more justified than me anyways) – then she realized she hadn’t hit the gym for a long time, so she went & the next day’s post wasn't so sad. Naturally she’s still missing her Tuna Man but just working out made her feel a bit better. If a good workout can help a person handle having her husband halfway around the world, it should be even more effective for getting through a little plain old hard work.

I actually got a bit snarky on NYCKayaker, our local kayak listserve, today – I think I refer to this early early on in this blog, like on Day 1, one of the reasons for starting this blog were a couple of back-channel comments that made me get very self-conscious about posting the sort of long emails I used to regularly. Anyways, Ignacio had a very good story on his On Kayaks blog (Monday 4/4/05 post) that I wanted to post because it was a very vivid example of a situation that almost inevitably would have involved a paddler dead of hypothermia-abetted drowning had the paddler not been wearing full winter-paddling riot gear, carrying a waterproof VHF radio and possessed of a very cool head. It was also a perfect opportunity to slip in a little mention of the fact that the air is warm (oh my god, Spring is FINALLY here, I went for a walk on my lunch hour AND a walk after work and all my windows are open ‘cause it is GLORIOUS out there…) but the water’s still cold. Spring is actually the worst time for small boat accidents involving improperly dressed people – in these first reliably warm days, you tend to get this rush of people who pull out the boats that have been sitting in storage since October and go out for a spring paddle – dressed for the air temperature, not the 44 degree water. Fall in like that & you’re kind of in trouble. People die.

So I had this good impulse to kind of mention that when I posted the article in On Kayaks – NYCKayaker goes to a wide range of people & is therefore a good place to drop that hint. But then I was doing it fast & in a bit of a bad mood from all the work & messed up my good impulse with a stupid whiny crack about why I didn’t post much any more…it’s not that it wasn’t true, it’s just that I, er, phrased it “I’ve been trying to STFU after getting a few too many back-channel comments about egotism”…well, about 30 seconds after I sent that I was, like, “Why did I go and do that? Just because I’m in a bad mood doesn’t mean I need to slop it all over NYCKayaker”. Ironic, in fact – the whole reason I got so self-conscious & quit posting after the egotism comments in the first place was precisely for the same reason I sent an instant “sorry, I did not really mean that” – although I don’t think my ego is exactly overinflated (in fact sometimes it’s all I can do to coax it out from under a rock), it did make me realize these things go into all sorts of total strangers’ inboxes & why should I inflict my excessive verbosity (or angst, or unresolved residual irritation or any of that) on them?

So anyways – I’d already planned to come home after the gym clothes tonight (left the kitties stocked up w/lots of food & water & gave them tuna instead of cat food & catnip & lots of cuddling last night by way of advance apology) but that totally clinched it.

On a happier note - I did get my application to teach at the symposium faxed off today, so I have now officially applied (I’d talked to both organizers on the phone & they sounded OK with me but I hadn't sent 'em the piece of paper with all my info on it yet so nothing was official). I also squeezed in a little bit of research today – found a good article on – it’s not long, but really goes into the nitty-gritty stuff & what it did do that was quite valuable was got me thinking back on things like – oh, like how I handled it the year I had to do a non-stop Manhattan circumnavigation (swim escort - 28 miles, slowly, an 8 hour day or so) during, er, that time of the month. Owing to the fact that people reading this blog are “mixed company”, I will spare you the details but suffice it to say, I hope the gentlemen paddlers realize they have it pretty darned good in this respect. Thhhbt.

Plus Mrs. Kayak Boy is going to loan me the Kayaking for Women book - she promised me that it's not really as bad as my first impression & I promised her I wouldn't throw it away. That should also be helpful. Thank you Mrs. Kayak Boy!

Have to close this with something I saw in the paper yesterday & was going to post last night except that I got so amazed at all the TV advertising. This is great news, except that I can’t believe surfing in the Rockaways was something that could get you a ticket in the first place. Jeeze. How much does that say right there, in and of itself, about how weird and bass-ackwards NYC’s approach to recreational water use can be? (Pua will appreciate this – go check out her comment after my first post on the symposium if you don't know why, it's great!)

Monday, April 04, 2005

I just watched TELEVISION!

Yep. You heard it here first - I, Bonnie K. Frogma (not my real last name but I'm giving up the BK thing 'cause anybody that stumbles across this blog that's a new york city paddler has got a pretty good chance of recognizing me as that reformed blabbermouth bonnie13 from the nyckayaker list) just finished watching 2.5 hours of television!

Which means that as of tonight, my television-watching hours for the year stand at (hm, let me pull out my calculator...calculate calculate)...2.5 hours!

See...I truly am a freak. I am one of the 5 households in America that does not own one single television set. Not even a little one. Do you have any idea how much time that saves me? It's great.

However I do like to at least keep up a passing familiarity with the popular culture so that at least when I overhear shocking conversations in the cafeteria I know which ones are about TV shows & which ones are for real. So when I am kittysitting for my friends with the cutest toilet-trained kitties in the world, I take advantage of it & do a little catching up. And it's amazing - I do find myself hypnotized by the worst drivel...yes, cruel dating shows and fear factor (hangs head in shame...)

I actually hadn't watched anything yet this time except Spirited Away on DVD , but today was rough & I was feeling suitably brain-dead to indulge, plus I read a review of some Lifetime made-for-tv movie, Odd Girl Out, and having gone through a wee bit of bullying myself in HS (I had 2 strikes against me - I had to move between my sophomore & junior year in high school, so of course all the cliques were pretty much formed - plus I was an officer's brat & I think some of the enlisted kids picked up on that - it was pretty obvious who got on the bus where - thinking back, I don't recall the hazing lasting that long but there was at least one p.e. class where I ended up crying in the locker room with a whole lot of other girls razzing me) I was naturally up for a happy-ending type flick where the kid gives the bullies what-for. Heartwarming and all that, yes. Then I watched a show where two eccentric English ladies taught a retired fireman how to clean his house (which frankly, I'm amazed he was willing to have shown on national television).

What really blew me away though was how much STUFF they were trying to sell me the whole time. I was particularly struck by an ad for a disposable razor where apparently if you buy this razor, you get to have a catamaran and the ability to turn into a dolphin. Sounds pretty neat to me, that would certainly cut down on the kayak expenses (not that those are very high).

No wonder I'm such a non-consumer. I've sort of got everything I need already (shelter? check. clothing? check. Food? check. the internet? check. plenty of other stuff too including a whole lotta books which is the main thing that keeps me from missing having a TV on a dreary yucky day? check.), and by not having a television, what I've managed to avoid is having this thing whose entire purpose in life is to suggest Things that would Make Me Happy If I Bought Them (unless I stuck to a straight diet of PBS which I wouldn't have the self-control to do). I mean - even if you don't really listen or watch, that message, repeated enough, just has to be sinking in at some subliminal level, doesn't it? Otherwise why would they (ah, the famous "They") spend all that money on it?

So I'm it just that I'm drifting farther and farther away from the regularly-advertised-to norm the longer I don't have a TV, so when I do sit & watch it's a little culture-shock thingy goin' on in my soggy little amphibious paddle-happy brain, or is the advertising getting thicker and faster than ever?

I'm going to resist the razor, btw. Gonna fight it off the same way I used to fight off the temptation to buy the stuff in the Victoria's Secret's catalogues a roommate of mine used to get - oh, man, I remember seeing this one big patchwork-y blouse (this was back in the days when Express was selling gazillions of tunics and leggings sort of things) that I just felt like I must have, and if I had it I would be happy. But then I realized that no, I was actually going to be incredibly dissappointed when the package arrived, and I opened it, and there was only a shirt inside when I'd somehow been expecting that the beach the model was sitting on, and the turquoise sea, and the palm trees and the blue skies and the seagulls and the clouds were all going to be in there too. KnowwhutImean, Vern?

I bet they wouldn't have even had the decency to throw in a handful of sand. Or a seashell. Or anything.

And I bet that razor doesn't really come with a catamaran. Those insidious, misleading advertisers...jeeze.

(thus endeth the rant...)

Oh, yeah. No paddling happened last weekend - very cold & raw & rainy. Did anybody guess that by my crankiness here? And I have to work next weekend - so maybe I should post some sort of "cranky beyotch" alert... But the upside to daylight savings time is that now all the sudden we are getting into the time of year when paddling after work gets more appealing (I have no problem paddling after dark in the summertime but when it's cold & the water's cold I do prefer to be in by sundown & I do like to at least start with the sun still up). And soon I can give my drysuit gaskets their twice-yearly 303 spritzdown & pack the miserable nasty thing away for the summer. Can't wait can't wait can't wait can't wait...guess I have to wait, though.