Thursday, June 30, 2005

Living on Lava...WHAT???

OK...another had-to-share moment, this time a Times article I read on the subway on the way to work that left me rather amazed...

All I can say is that I hope these people are well-heeled enough not to expect one dime of taxpayer-funded assistance in the event that Pele decides to take another stroll.

Lava Tube Lady...that's a different kind of stupid...somehow that just bothers me no end, the whole thing just seems so disrespectful of the land. I don't have time to explain now but this idea of a disco ball has any business in a lava tube - heck, the idea of decor in a lava tube PERIOD - just seems so wrong.

Cool Thing About New York...

Glass Menagerie was quite good...

got me thinking once again about some of the neat things about living in NYC -

I can hear 16 different languages being spoken during my morning commute;

I can walk to the grocery store & notice that a block away from my apartment I'm walking behind two women, one of whom is wearing shorts & a t-shirt, the other in a lovely lavender salwar khamees (oh how I was wishing I had a camera with me that day, that was just so Brooklyn, in the best way possible!).

I have never seen the kind of "marriage=stick figure man+stick figure woman+stick figure child" I once saw Tuna Girl refer to in a post as being something that bothered her;

I can wake up in the morning thinking that the evening is going to bring nothing more exciting than a jog, a little apartment tidying, and maybe a bit of blogging, but have 7:55 find me being part of a theatre audience waiting for Jessica Lange and Christian Slater & a couple more fine actors to take the stage and do a little Tennessee Williams for us...

Pretty. Darned. Cool.

p.s. thank you again Mrs. KB!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

better now :)

better now more or less -

great great GREAT sail last night, 3-hour charter, nice folks, good wind, we went all over the harbor with 'em - feeling like maybe I'm getting caught up at work (although I've felt that way twice before & both time my lovely illusion was buried under a mountain of 3-month-old invoices) , and today on lunch hour I signed up for Red Cross CPR & first aid classes during July & for BCU 2-star Coach training in August. Lord knows if or when I'll go for the certification but it will be good to get a structured refresher in teaching basic skills.

no time for a real post but just wanted to say something rather than leave my whiny post as the last for people to worry about - I will be too busy tonight (seeing The Glass Menagerie, short notice, "Mrs. KB" called me about it at 2:00 but I had no plans tonight & was able to go, yay, ages since I saw a play) and tomorrow (2nd gathering of my friend Dab's "Pre-Natal Paddling Posse", last week's was just lovely although that was the night I blew my offside roll), don't want people thinking I'm not posting 'cause I'm curled up in a corner going boo hoo hoo when I'm just too busy having fun...

to close, I will plagiarize...myself. 'Cause I thought this was not a terrible idea & wanted to share it - details need a lot of work but the deal was, OnKayaks did a awfully nice post about me while I was sick a couple of weeks back - it had a picture of some pilings with a light fixture on them, and a fuzzy but identifiable little chunk of the Jersey shore behind it - he asked me if I recognized it, and I didn't specifically but I made finding it into a game. On Monday I left the following comment on his site -

I found the light!

Did you know that that picture was taken (location deleted in case local paddling friends look at the picture & want to play too)? I recognized (additional dead giveaways deleted for same reason)- was out on the river & harbor both days over the weekend, spotted 'em and looked east when they all lined up the same as the picture & voila, I saw the lights!

if I was still a partner at MKC I would be trying to figure out how to turn something like this into a game for clients - sort of a waterborne kayak scavenger hunt. That'd be a great game for an intro to navigation type class - getting people to think about how to use landmarks to determine location - you could hand out a laminated set of photos of objects viewed from land and a laminated chart on which they'd have to show the location with a dry-erase marker or post-it flags or something like that.

Kind of like geocaching only using your eyes instead of a GPS, y'know?

anybody wants to swipe that idea, I'm not going to patent it or anything, have fun!

Figured I'd just throw that out here too. Anybody wants to play with the idea, be my guest. I think the relatively small field (so there weren't a lot of clues except the shape of the buildings & the charter boats in front of 'em, which was really the giveaway as I recognized those & knew the general vicinity) and the fuzziness of the focus made it particularly fun 'cause I actually did have to look closely to match the real waterfront with what I recalled from the photo.

So I'll be off for the next couple of days probably - will catch up some over the weekend, 3 days, few plans, hurrah. Thanks for the nice comments from Tuesday, very thoughtful.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Sorry. Big Whine Time.

I have, from time to time, been guilty of posting something just for the sake of posting. This particularly happened shortly after I'd first emailed Derrick at Kayak Wisconsin to introduce myself & say how much I was enjoying his blog (his descriptions of practicing various strokes come about as close to describing how it feels to do what I think of as "kayak yoga" as anything I've read just about anywhere) - he then posted something on - and suddenly my sitemeter went berserk. On a Saturday morning no less. This was back in February or March - lots of bored paddlers sitting at home waiting for spring thaw, I guess! Now I had just read something on one of my favorite non-aquatic blogs, Some Amusing Blog Pun, talking about his analysis of his site statistics, and mentioning that he'd observed (and he's a scientist, he observes for a living) that readership dropped significantly on weekends. I'd sort of been noticing the same thing, and I'd decided to stop posting on weekends - this was literally the first Saturday after that decision, but when I went online & found something like 40 hits already...well, suddenly I felt like I Had To Produce Something Fascinating.

Instead of course I produced a lot of pointless blah blah blah on that Saturday and Sunday, when I really didn't feel like writing anyways, and was only doing it because I felt like somehow I had to. Then I figured out how to check the referrers on sitemeter, found the post, and with a less ego-stroking (but somehow also far less pressure-inducing) explanation than that somehow I was catching on due to the ha ha sheer brilliance of my writing and the ha ha ha depth of my observations on the teaching of kayaking in a chlorinated environment and the tangled mess that is New York City waterfront politics, I skipped the next day with a sigh of relief (I am sometimes known to show off but the idea of a spotlight being on me for reasons which don't make sense to me kinda spooks me). Sometime later I realized that there was no particular reason to keep a schedule - when I feel like writing about something, I write it, and when I have nothing worth saying, I say nothing. Mantra of bloggers everywhere seems to be "Hey, it's my blog". Makes sense.

Tonight, though, my problem is the opposite - I have been dealing with a lot of stuff and it's all sort of been building up to one of my sporadic complete losses of faith in myself - I've never been the most self-confident person on the planet, but when I am really excited about things I forget that. Right now though - I'm handling a rather crucial part of the duties that are normally done by the business manager in my division - employee T&E reimbursements and invoices. The business manager left on April 15th to go work for another company. At the same time there were staffing changes on another links of the Really Big Children's Publishing Company payment chain, and somehow, somewhere, a whole lot of invoices got hung up en route. Many of them did shake loose from wherever they were stalled right around the year end close, which was good, but now we are answering for those delays.

Some of these invoices are from other Really Big Companies, and those aren't so bad, they've got sufficient cash flow that slow payment, while not good, isn't going to lead to somebody not being able to pay their rent - but then we've got a lot of freelancers - who are individuals & make their individual living by drawing or writing or editing, and really do suffer when they aren't paid quickly...

I have decided that Hell, for me, would be an eternity of having responsibility for a process that I know is crucial to other people's well-being - while being given only the slightest actual control over the process itself.

Somehow I end up blaming myself.

Add to that - so far I've only written up the cheerful it-was-great side of the symposium - but it was tough, too. First off, I found out, right at the start of the very symposium I'd looked forward to so much, that the guy I fell for so incredibly hard last year had was finalizing his move to L.A. and marrying the girlfriend he just never thought to tell me about even when I thought I was being sort of totally obvious. I guess he had no way to recognize that I was being abnormally bubbly when I was around him 'cause he never saw me acting like my normal non-twitterpated, friendly-but-slightly-reserved self. It's bizarre, somehow this guy's entire function in my life for the last year and a half or so, through no actual ill-intent on his part, has been to pull the rug out from under me just when I'm really excited about something. In this last case he didn't even have to do the actual rug-pulling, it just happened spontaneously. Ain't life funny?

And then my last 2 sessions at the symposium were not as successful as the first - won't go into detail now because I really do want to do a complete post on them sometime as I did for the first day, which was all fantastic, but I wish those had been my 1st 2 sessions 'cause as it was I went from complete euphoria to kind of bummed out & wondering how I could have made them work better.

Then there was getting all excited about that surfski race & this time not even making it 'cause of that nasty stomach bug I had -

and then one evening I was so tense and had been practicing on my surf-ski so much my rolls weren't working too well -

and then on Friday night I was so tense I actually psyched myself out & blew an offside roll for the first time in I can't remember when, and tweaked my shoulder a bit in doing so -

and then on Saturday I discovered that that shoulder was a wee bit on the twinge-y side when raising sails, plus we have a new docking procedure that involves a whole new set of distances to estimate followed by a much dicier looking jump from bow to dock than our old one did, and after the first sail I had to admit to the first mate, who had a terrible cold and was hoping that we could give our very competent trainee a 5:30 P.M. promotion to 2nd Mate so she could go home, that between my shoulder & my unfamiliarity with the new docking procedure, I wasn't feeling capable of fulfilling the usual 1st Mate duties. She agreed to stay but of course that was just the last straw in this whole slow-building sense of just not being good enough...ended up having about a five-minute breakdown about how I was just letting everybody down & hating myself for it.

Fortunately everybody except the trainee knows how stressed I've been and nobody was really shocked - and the trainee wasn't there so he didn't have to get all freaked out about it. Think I would've refrained if he had been. And we had a 3:30 sail to get ready for so I pulled myself together & got back to getting things pulled together for that. And then in the end the 6:00 and 8:30 sails were very crowded, and there were tons of Gay Pride cruises on the water (that was one proud river over the weekend, it was all so festive!) so we were tacking a lot, and by the last sail I was actually very glad that I'd been honest enough to ask the first mate to stay, because I think it would have been really, really hard for a 2-person crew to attend to both the boat and the passengers properly. As it was, I mostly ended up taking care of hostess duties while the other two sailed, which was great, they could concentrate on the boat while I took care of the passengers. I actually opened enough bottles of champagne that I wound up with a bit of a bruise at the base of my thumb.

Oh, yeah, and the paddle to the ceili on Sunday was awesome and I couldn't have timed it better if I tried and the one person who joined me actually had an absolutely marvelous time, which made it all even better...

So for all my whining here I am sort of hoping that 3:00 Saturday was the nadir of this particular low spot in my life.

And it is even possible that we're past the worst of the invoice madness...that may be hoping for too much, but maybe, plus I've asked to be given access to the system where we look things up which may at least make me feel a little less like a useless extra person in at least the past-due inquiry process & more like an actual participant...I don't know what I was Meant To Be - beyond "alive", which is pretty darned good in and of itself, but one thing I know I'm not Meant To Be is "middleman". Blech.

And I was asked to work an evening charter on the schooner tomorrow and then a half-day on Saturday, so my little moment of misery-misery-me on Saturday didn't wreck my sailing career...

And I've been in touch with Atlantic Kayak Tours about maybe taking 2-Star Coach training, which would address my issues with some of my less-fabulous moments at the symposium - just need to get my CPR & first aid updated somewhere during July.

Hope the captain was right - when I was explaining how this year just has had some very good points, but also some very low points that I've been a little more reticent about, he said that that's the sort of year that may be tough while you're working through it, but in the end you learn more than you do in the kinder years when everything feels like a breeze.

Anyways - there, in one big whiny post, are at least 6 different subjects that I could've expounded on individually. Funny how the unrelated negative ones all just sort of hooked into each other to send me into a tailspin, slopping over into even the stuff that's usually just purely good stuff (rolling & sailing).

Hopefully now I can move on to more interesting topics - like how watching a bunch of Marines got me over my childhood fear of swimming without a "bubble", or how carrying a Greenland storm paddle on the subway leads to actual conversations with complete strangers (even though that's COMPLETELY against the unwritten rules that govern interactions between random individuals in a city the size of this one), or a little more of a trip report from Saturday (did I mention I timed that perfectly)...

or an awfully nice late (but oh so incredibly perfect!) birthday present my folks have decided to get me...yes, my photoblogging is about to get a little easier, hurrah!

for now, past bedtime, all whined out.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Roll On DDF, Roll ON!

It has been brought to my attention that I failed to mention that one of the features of my sublime Tuesday evening was witnessing some supremely smooth, low-key, and yes, still goofy rolling by DDF!

Bad BK. Bad.

Or maybe I'm just still miffed about the muffin...

anyways - I probably would have gotten to that because that was definitely one of the cool things about Tuesday night. And it was funny, I'd been surfskiing for 2 weeks so when I did a roll, it felt all mushy at first, I think that if DDF & I had been rolling side-by-side with a person who knows the signs of a well-executed roll when they see it, they might...just...possibly have said that goofyman was (ack) rolling better than, the Pool Queen...agh...

Did get it tuned up & working later though, just needed to warm up. But it's really funny how fast things get sloppy in decked-boat land after just a couple of weeks of primarily paddling the open-cockpit all-about-speed-and-balance surfski.

p.s. to DDF - alright, ya whiner, happy now?

p.p.s. to DDF...uh oh...I think you get a new nickname in honor of the goofiness of your roll...yes..."Goofyman"...I dub thee GOOFYMAN!

;D />

(frogma kayak smiley, patent pending, wish blogger would let spaces be spaces at the start of a paragraph!)

Wave Hill, The Bronx, 6/19/2005

Work has been crazed lately - indulging myself with another lunch-hour blogging break. Just a short one today, too - last night I put together a new Buzznet gallery - it's not Frogma Tour #2, just some pictures from my trip up there to see the Meteorologic Phenomena show. That was a really nice activity for the day, recovering from 2 days of an extremely unpleasant ailment as I was.

Here's the gallery. Hope you enjoy!

This weekend's plans - paddling tonight; working a full day on the schooner tomorrow; aforementioned Paddle n' Ceili on Sunday. On Monday, I will be enjoying that illusionary sensation one gets, after hours on the water, when it feels like your office chair is rocking gently.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Dancers at Spice

Tuesday night was just one of those nights where I end up feeling like I'm levitating ever so slightly just from a surfeit of beauty -

There were friends on the water; kayaks, outriggers - there was the big orange moon - there were the fireworks. There was just letting my boat go gently spinning north along the bubbling foam-edged eddyline. There was that moon. There were people taking a trapeze lesson. There was the gentle glow of kayak lights floating up into view through the darkness at Pier 57. Oh yes, and the moon.

And to top it all off - there was Spice.

Their website doesn't do Spice nights on the barge justice. There are dance floors at both ends of the barge; live Latin music playing - usually gentle & romantic at one end, fast & hot at the other - and people talking, eating, drinking, enjoying the river and Oh Yes, Dancing! The scene, as you come up the dark river, is like magic - the barge all lit with giant paper lanterns - on Tuesday, they were like little moons there beneath the big one rising over the city - the music and the noise of happy people drifting out to you over the water -


There is a small dance floor set up near the foot of the stairs that lead up to the MKC office & kayak changing room. As I passed, my attention was caught by one couple that was dancing there.

It was interesting, how watchable they were.

People dress to the nines for this thing. A Jay Gatsby rainbow of men's shirts - shining shoes - shining dresses and spiky heels. Slim young bodies are flaunted, posing and whirling and arching, every move an ode to the joy of...being a hottie, knowing it, and making sure everyone else knows it too.

Somehow, though - these people are not the ones that draw my eyes and hold them magnetized.

The hottest couple on the small dance floor wasn't even trying to be hot. They were maybe a bit older (not old, though, maybe not even as old as me but they looked like they'd been out of college for at least a few years); they were not model slim. She was wearing a simple, loose-fitting white top and black slacks. He...ok, frankly, he could've done better - he was wearing a Chicago Bulls basketball jersey and white shorts, looked like he'd just finished playing basketball (which is possible as this all happens at the north end of BasketBall City).

But watching them - it didn't matter.

Something about the way they moved together seemed to say that they were dancing only with and only for each other, and enjoying it with no reservations. They danced like maybe they've been dancing with each other for a good while now, and maybe they'll keep dancing with each other for a long time, and maybe when they're dancing, they can just let go of everything else. Their rhythm was perfect, they went with the music wherever it took them. There was a quiet confidence to them that none of the flashier dancers could match - watching them, I just felt this sense of quiet comfort and happiness coming from them. There was no sense of watching a conscious performance - they weren't trying to show off, they weren't trying to present a certain image, they weren't trying to impress anyone - they were just dancing, as calmly and naturally as breathing.

There's something so wonderful about watching someone do something like that when they do it so well that the sense of "trying" goes away. It's like you know that what they're doing is difficult - but you don't have to worry about them because you know that there's a solidity there - and your enjoyment is not something for which you somehow owe them, but a genuine gift.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

everybody go look at the moon tonight!

what a fantastic paddle last night. No time to write much now but if you're reading this - ooh, do try to get to someplace you can see the moon rise tonight, it was really beautiful last night. That "full moon illusion" was very noticeable - in fact no time to write but here, I posted this comment on - it was awfully late - boy, I could've stayed out there for a couple more hours easily - but I sort of had to say something somewhere before I could get to sleep:

Well, I had a great paddle tonight, still shaking water out of my ears from playing at the end - of course the flood was rocking and making all sorts of eddies to play in, so it was fun, and the moon rose over the city (I paddle in New York) very orange & enormous - but then instead of climbing up into the sky and "diminishing "(like the capital on that street in Wisconsin, that was interesting!) to a normal moon-sized moon over the next couple of hours, (as would be normal moon behavior), it was still hanging very low and looking very large even when I got off the subway three and a half hours after moonrise (it was so beautiful I stayed out way past my bedtime). Pretty. Darned. Cool.

Plus there were fireworks - I didn't mention those on because it was completely irrelevant to my initial post which was just "everybody should go watch the moonrise tonight" just like I'm doing here - but one of the cool things about urban paddling is the frequency of random corporate-sponsored fireworks shows - some of 'em are pretty good, too, same scale as a small town's 4th of July show, I betcha. Those are actually the main thing I look for on the events calendar I get every month from the Coast Guard. Haven't been looking lately 'cause work's been so unpredictable so last night's was just sort of a nice bonus surprise on top of the moon illusion.

btw I'm not sure now whether I found that thing while I was looking for information on the Mars email or whether I found it on Sea Level - I'm usually pretty good about crediting people so I think this may just be a great minds thinking alike thing. Well, Sea Level's always worth a link anyways.

ok, back to work now. Corporate Challenge tonight. Oh my, I have SO failed to train for this AT ALL this year (not that I train seriously, it's just that somehow this year I've been so busy I've had no time for running). I love our company's shirts this year - it features, on the front, the Really Big Children's Publishing Firm identifying info, but on the back, we have Jim Benton's It's Happy Bunny sticking his tongue out a la the Life. Get One.cover - the accompanying text is "I May Be Slow. But I'm In Front Of You." heh heh heh. Funny. Mean, but funny.

anyways, much to do before tonight's run. so ttfn!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

"Moon illusion" & rumours of Mars

OK, is this cool, or what?

Moonrise tonight here in New York, New York will be at 8:39 - I'll be out on the water. Cool cool cool.

Reports of Mars being the size of the full moon to the naked eye this August are sadly exaggerated, though. I got an email from a relative last night talking about getting very close to Mars this August - I'm always interested in this stuff, but I was a little confused because I'd thought part of why getting so close to Mars in 2003 was so exciting was because this was so unusual, a once in a multiple-generations-of-human-lifetimes event - then I got to the sentence that started "Mars will appear as large as the full moon to the naked eye" and I thought back to the very bright and discernably reddish pinpoint of light we all got so excited over in '03 and went straight to

And on second thought, I'm actually NOT all disappointed that this turns out to just have been a really old email with an unfortunately located paragraph break that got put in sometime during the 2 years its' been circulating, something would be rather amiss if Mars EVER looked that big to the naked eye.

I guess finding out that that business with the giant orca leaping from the water & pulling a kayaker down into the water behind himself when he lands, and the resultant Most Spectacular Combat Roll Of All Time, was just a fantastically well-edited Powerade commercial from Japan will continue to hold my A-#1 spot in my list of most disappointing Mikkelsonian bubble-bursting moments.

ok, blog break over, much work to get done if I really hope to watch the moon rise from the water, not from my office!

Monday, June 20, 2005' real!

I am really really excited about my paddling plans for next weekend.

I'm going to paddle to an Irish traditional dance, known as a ceili, at a beautiful open-air pavilion in a park at the foot of Palisades, where we'll be dancing the afternoon away to the music of a couple of a couple of really wonderful local Irish traditional musicians...

I've been thinking this would be cool ever since I first discovered that I'd actually gotten strong enough to paddle to Alpine, but since they only hold it twice a year, and I'm so busy during boating season, it's really tough to keep the day clear. But the musicians this year are Brian Conway and Felix Dolan and for set dancing, those two are hard to beat!

I'm so psyched...

OK. Am I a total nerd or what?

but really, if everything works out (which is not a given - just for starters, if I end up breaking all the BCU rules & going solo & there's too much traffic for me to cross safely, I'd give it up), it'll be really really neat. '

praying to weather gods...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Seen in Times Square

Spotted today somewhere between the ten-dollar backrub guys and the ten-dollar caricature guys in Times Square - guy with sign reading:

Tell Me Off


Just thought I'd share.

(Wave Hill was lovely, btw)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Have to say one last thing re Schiavo case -

Some people who have been reading this site long enough may remember that one of my occasional "liberal rants" was on the Terri Schiavo case - I just couldn't stay quiet then.

Well - I felt no compulsion whatsoever to say anything when the autopsy results came out - if anything, I thought "Good, maybe this will finally let people let this go & let the families get on with their lives, nothing left for the right-wingers to use" - but I was browsing Yahoo news this morning & ran across this item:

Gov. Bush seeks probe of Schiavo husband's actions


I'm sorry, I doubt that this is the sort of thing that people who are reading this these days are looking for, but, well, this is just too sick for me not to say something.

So sick that I don't know exactly what to say or where to even start - except why can't they just let it be over already???

Friday, June 17, 2005

Wave Hill "Meteorologic Phenomenon"

Funny - I just scanned through my titles going back into January - found that Frogma has gotten to be a rather one-track blog these days. Boats boats boats. Well, that's what summer is for, right?

OK - I am definitely bummed out that I can't race tomorrow (well, I could, but after the last couple of days, I could be beaten by a 5-year old in a Loon so I don't see much point) - but since I now have that summertime rarity, a boat-free weekend, stretching ahead of me, I'm at least going to take advantage of it to catch up on a couple of dry-land things I've been wanting to do.

Saturday is just cleaning house - and maybe finishing my thoughts on the symposium. At this point I talked about the day where everything worked impossibly well. I haven't moved on to the 2nd day when I experienced a couple of mild crossed wires due to some differences in teaching styles between the various disciplines.

Sunday, though, I think I'm going to go to Wave Hill in the Bronx. This should be rather wonderful if the weather is as nice as it's been for the last couple of days - Wave Hill is a grand old country estate (the Wave Hill website has an interesting history) overlooking the Hudson that was donated to the city and is now a cultural center & public garden - from what I've heard, the gardens themselves are worth a visit = somehow I've just never gone! Perhaps because the Brooklyn Botanical Garden is spectacular enough, even without the Hudson, that I've never felt the urge to roam that far from home when I want some quiet garden time.

However - I'm going to make the trek on Sunday because there is an art exhibit there that's of particular interest to me! It's called Meteorologic Phenomenon. Here's their description:

"Explores a variety of artistic responses to the weather, that elemental force that shapes all human relationships to nature. Atmospheric conditions influence ecological and biological progress as well as cultural and technological developments. The artists consider the weather as a psychological condition, source of scientific information, and artistic inspiration".

It sounds like a really fascinating exhibit. And I'm not just saying that 'cause I'm in it! Which I am (yikes - now I hope I'm not cursing myself - maybe I should wait until I go & make sure I didn't end up on the proverbial cutting-room floor - nah, I'll take a chance) - along with a couple of river-rat friends of mine, Harry and Captain Sarah from the schooner. We are just a couple of the people Margaret Cogswell talked to about our experiences with weather on the Hudson. Between the three of us, we've had a few - I can't wait to hear how it all comes out. I just hope I didn't say anything stupid - I was amazed, when I went to see her last winter for the interview, how much fun I had telling her some of my stories & just how long I was able to rattle on. I was actually scanning my old posts tonight to see if I could spot posting about going for the interview in the first place, but I didn't have any luck digging it up. Anyways, I'm really looking forward to it - she wasn't going to use anyone's voice in a narrational style, more take snippets and weave them together - so I'll be listening for me, naturally, but it'll also be fascinating to hear what she used from my friends, and from the others she got to speak to her (I believe there were tugboat pilots and I don't know who-all else). The other exhibits sound pretty interesting, too.

Heh heh. One minor oops, though. Looking at the invitation card this evening, I discovered that the reception was LAST week Sunday. Somehow I thought it was this week. I'm going anyways. Just a lot less likely to break out one a' them-there "dress" things I was considering wearing when I thought it was the opening weekend. Just for kicks, y'know? And it would have been fun to see Margaret again & meet some of the other artists, too.

I definitely plan to take a camera & take some pictures in the gardens (nope, haven't broken down & bought digital yet so posting will have to wait for roll to be finished & developed. I'll look forward to sharing those eventually, but there will definitely be something in the way of a review here on Sunday night!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Surfski Race Gremlins Win. Again. Plus Pale Male Update!

Little bastards.

What is it about me and surfski races that I am never allowed to go in one, start when everyone else does, not have something weird happen to my boat, paddle strongly, and actually find out where I stack up against the rest of the field?

After 2 days home from work, generally flat on my back, eating only because a person is really supposed to eat every now & then, I emailed Kayak Boy & DW to let them know that after a 4-block walk to the grocery store for potatoes to boil (boiled potatoes being about the only thing I could imagine eating) left me so wiped out I crashed for a 3 hour nap immediately upon my return, it is my considered opinion that a 4-mile kayak race starting at 9:30 am on Saturday would probably kill me.

OK, that's an exaggeration. I just don't think I'd better count on being all hunky-dory by then at the rate my recovery is going.

I'm so dissappointed. I was pretty excited about this. If I'd just been enough better today that I could have gone to work, then done a see-how-it-goes kind of paddle after work, I would have gone ahead - but that just didn't happen. $@*#!!

oh well.

I'd write about the silly things that happened to wreck my last 2 surfski races, but even sitting up typing is't really going well.

So, enough of me whining, I'm sick, no race, bleah, end of story. Here's something fun though - y'know how on my last Pale Male & Lola update I was kind of sad because after all they went through, their eggs weren't going to hatch?

Well, as Michlt at Rivertyde pointed out in a comment, that's not really the worst thing that could happen - they've been extremely successful in furthering the redtail race here in New York City and can really afford to miss a year here & there. Come to think of it, this was probably a good year to miss, too - they did have to put in all that extra energy rebuilding their nest this year, so maybe it's easier on them to not have to go through the hard work of raising youngsters, too.

They apparently haven't settled on that as the best plan of action, though - they started mating flights again in late May to early June. Last field notes at were from June 7th - Lincoln & the hawkwatching team are faithful about those so I assume that means no really big news lately.

However - while all the drama was swirling around Pale Male & Lola (who are going to be in July's Vanity Fair - how very NY!), the hawk pair (Pale Male Jr. - he is believed to be one of Pale Male's offspring - and mate - I guess nobody's named her yet) that nests at the Trump Parc Hotel has been quietly bringing up a pair of eyases of their own - there are a couple of nice family portraits at!


I'm going back to bed now. sigh.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Argh...bad race mojo already messin' with me...

The 6 a.m. workout paddle with TH went GREAT.

I was on my surfski, he was on his Epic Endurance 18 - pretty well matched again. We paddled for a good hour and a half, starting at Pier 63, paddling up to just south of the cruise ship terminals in the Hell's Kitchen area, then heading south to the Downtown Boathouse. I asked to head south and then north again as the route took us across the New York Waterways ferry terminal at W. 34th street, and even by 7 a.m. you'll be having to work out crossing the paths of multiple ferries, and you absolutely need to know that you are not going to fall off your boat, and right now I'm at the point with my surfski where I'm generally fine, but the chaotic waves of 4 ferry wakes crossing each other would be just the ticket to make me fall off at just the wrong moment - so I just saved myself the stress by asking to head south.

Overall mileage covered - 4 nautical miles. The short course for the race on Sunday is exactly that long. We did keep a good pace throughout although with a break at the north end and another at the south end, which I won't be getting in the race.

The run was excellent in that my steadiness improved dramatically & I was able to start paying more attention to my stroke. We had perfect conditions for building up the balance in that we started out into almost flat calm water, although ebbing strongly, then as the ferry traffic picked up, things got choppier. As we paddled, I gradually found my focus going from being very much on my boat and the looks of the various waves around me to being on a general point in the distance, reading wakes and boat traffic with peripheral vision, relaxing and responding to conditions as they arrived instead of the more stressful approach of looking hard at each approaching wake or turbulent area & plotting what I needed to do to stay on my boat.

All great stuff. We got back to the pier right at 8, TH rolled a couple of times, I did a practice capsize & remount with my surfski - getting back on a surfski is a very specific skill & like any skill, you have to practice it in controlled circumstances if you hope to do it when you need to.

I left the pier in such a good mood that even the way New York can smell when it's garbage day and it's 100 degrees outside (p.U!) couldn't bring me down. TH and I planned a repeat for Wednesday morning. I figured Wednesday morning, then maybe a longer after-work run on Thursday and a break on Friday would have me as ready for the Sandy Hook-er (no, that's the name of the race, really, with a hyphen added to avoid icky Google searchers) as my limited prep time would allow. Woo hoo.

The one thing I wasn't thrilled about was that I'd noticed that my stamina wasn't up to snuff. Racing the thunderstorm home with the guys on Saturday, I'd felt great - paddling strongly all the way, lots of energy, enjoying the race - this morning, I was getting bursts of good speed, but I couldn't seem to sustain them, I'd just run out of steam.

Also I had a little bit of an upset tummy.

I wrote this off to the fact that it was morning, it was full-on wing-paddle racing stroke on my surfski instead of just a really high-angled high-speed touring stroke in my steady Romany, so I was using muscles in ways that were a bit different than the way they get accustomed to working doing the moderately long tours I favor in the winter, and also that I'd actually gotten to my train station BEFORE the hot bagel store had finished their first batch of bagels and settled for a couple of extremely corn-syrupy soft trail-mix Granola Bars for breakfast instead of a hearty fresh-baked bagel with lox spread.

I was sleepy during the day, but a half-hour nap at lunchtime set me up nicely for most of the afternoon.

Then, very abruptly around 5:00, I hit a wall. Suddenly I started feeling feverish, and all my energy was just gone - exactly what had been happening during my paddle, only on a much more definite & inarguable scale.

By 5:45 I told the boss I had to go home. A check on the thermometer when I got here confirmed what I thought was the case - I've got a fever of 100.2 degrees. And in a heat wave, too, isn't that nice.

Y'know...being sick when you are a totally single person who lives alone SUCKS. You want anything, you have to get up and fix it yourself. Jeeze - you can get somebody to do just about anything for money in New York City - I wonder if anyone runs a business where they send out nice sweet nurturing-type people to coddle singletons with the flu. I wouldn't need much - just a nice cold glass of ginger beer (my neighborhood's very West Indian and I find the Jamaican ginger beer to be infinitely superior to generic ginger ale) with orange juice every now and then - maybe a little ice cream or cottage cheese with pineapple. Rent-a-Mom, the service could be called. "Mom" doesn't even really need to be a mom - just a really sweet, patient person who will put up with a little whining and bring you cold things on trays and keep the dishes clean instead of having them stack up in the sink because you're too haven't got the energy to wash them. Y'know? Somebody should do this if nobody already has. Oh dear, I'm making myself cry thinking about how nice that would be. Guess I'm a pretty sick puppy. Sick puppies shouldn't blog, sick puppies should be in bed. See, if I had a rent-a-mom here he or she would tell me that and make me turn off my my computer and brush my teeth and go to bed - and then they'd bring me a big glass of ice water. Sniff.

Somehow I just KNOW this is happening because I want to go in a surfski race on Saturday & every time I go in a surfski race, something weird happens to screw me up.

Oh well. Best laid plans and all that. At least this time the gremlins didn't wait until race day to mess with me.

I just hope I can make it to work tomorrow - tons to do (oh, yeah, we'll be "celebrating" our 2-month anniversary of not having anyone in the business manager position...sigh) - but work or no, tomorrow is not going to feature the planned surfski time.

Must put my feverish self to bed now.



Monday, June 13, 2005

Blogroll updates

While doing laundry, I did do a couple of blogroll updates -

1. Been getting generally good response to my virtual Hudson River kayak tour so I made that a permanent link -
2. Added 'cause it looks like a fantastic boating safety site - they have some quizzes where you can test your nautical knowledge & other features, including the one for which I was doing a Google search when I found it, a nautical to statute miles converter. I haven't had the free time to nose around but it just looks fun & instructional.
3. I had to bid a sad adieu to "The Executive" as the lead on the "This Is All Their Fault" blogroll - things got crazy for him earlier this year & he didn't update for a very long time - I kept checking hoping for updates, but finally he was gone & now some imposter has taken over the name and is using it to shill discount prepaid phone cards. We've been friends for a long time and we do stay in touch other ways, but I really enjoyed some of his writing & he was the one that first introduced me to this blog silliness. sniff. Really didn't want anyone to think it was anything stupid that made that link go away.

OK, off to bed now - have to get up again frighteningly soon! oh boy, i'm goin' in a race, oh boy oh boy oh boy...

Racing makes me do weird things.


So I can't quite believe this but I just agreed to go for a 6 am paddle tomorrow. I'll be doing that instead of the sunset surfski run I was planning on.

I need time on the ski this week in a big way.

It is all because all of the sudden I am going in a race on Saturday. 4 miles, on the sheltered side of Sandy Hook, so weather cooperating, it won't be too bad. We shall see, though. "Kayak Boy" emailed me on Friday, said I should come - owing to a mixup involving the facts a) Mrs. Kayak Boy & I are co-workers, b) the word "Sebago" can refer to either the "Sebago Canoe Club" or Lake Sebago and c) it is actually possible to rent a car for more than one weekend in any given year, my own car-rental habits notwithstanding, I was actually ready to go on this Saturday just past. Now that is proof that I am a sucker for racing. I've been slightly cursed where races are involved, I've only done 2 real races, but in both cases, weird circumstances led to abject failure - last place in one, and an incredibly hard-won 2nd to last in the other (I was not told about the pre-race meeting and so I didn't get the word that the surfskis were going first & left the line quite some time after all the other skis, with all the outriggers, god bless 'em, cheering me on - so the fact that I caught ANYONE was my one comfort in the whole thing) but after a moment's hesitation ("I can't do this tomorrow...that would be too...awwww, why the heck not, ok, arm twisted, what time do we leave?") ready to try again, even though going in a race for my second surfski paddle of the entire year was just asking for my bad race mojo to kick in again...

anyways, fortunately it did all get straightened out and I have a whole week to train.

oh boy.

Entre nous, that's nowhere NEAR enough time. But I'm gonna give it my best shot anyways.

Part of that best shot being getting up and going for a dawn paddle or two this week.

Tonight...laundry. That's the dues for a totally frivolous weekend - good paddle on Saturday, including an exciting finish as we raced a slow-moving thunderstorm to Pier 63 (now THAT was good training for this race - talk about motivation!). dinner with the "KB"'s, then Sunday a change of gears with a Victorian house tour of my neighborhood, which is in Victorian Flatbush, with a friend who lives nearby, followed by a really nice barbecue where I got to meet hosta wizard & very cool lady Hinemoa - aka Mrs. Sea Level - and a couple of other spouses of people I paddle with a lot, which was VERY cool!

Maybe more of a trip report later - plus there will definitely be at least brief progress reports on my preparedness (or lack thereof) for the Sandy Hook adventure - right now, boring non-boat stuff beckons.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Frogma Virtual Kayak Tour, 6/4/05, Pier 63 - Pier 26

Pua asked me for pictures the other day.

Well - this may be a bit more than she was hoping for, but that request gave me an idea for something I thought might be fun - virtual kayak tours!

So last Saturday, I picked up a waterproof camera, took it with me on a leisurely paddle from my barge to the Downtown Boathouse and back and...well, without further ado (cause I've got work to do), here it is, Frogma Virtual New York Waterfront Kayak Tour #1, Pier 63 in Chelsea to the Downtown Boathouse.

I do have to mention that doing this was fun but this is the first thing I've ever done that really got me thinking about, yikes, technology upgrades (grinding teeth)...a digital camera would've improved this tremendously (if for no other reason than it's REALLY HARD to line up the picture right when you're sitting in a small boat and a digital camera would've let me reshoot at least the most egregiously slanted horizons)...and as I got all caught up in this & determined to finish it last night, grindingly slow dialup uploads be damned, who needs sleep, well, as I was finally being forced to admit that DSL would be nice...

Oops. I said no further ado and here I am adoing away...anyways, hope you enjoy it! If people like it I might be inclined to at least think about the digital camera - been toying with the idea of that for a while, people have so much fun with 'em.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Summertime -

Now it truly feels like summer -

I saw a firefly tonight.

Trip Log, 6/7 - First Surfski Run of the Summer!

I walked out of the office last night around 7:30.

The air was still warm and still.

Hudson River water temperatures are low to mid 60's these days.

This all meant that it was finally time to pull out my poor old neglected surfski!

And oh my. What a filthy, dusty, rust-encrusted boat it was, too. Poor poor thing. Oh well, I will make sure it stays sky blue from now until October!

Hm...I feel a digression coming on! Dusty & dirty you might see, but do you wonder why the rust?


As part of my "severance package" from Manhattan Kayak Company, I was permitted to just keep this boat stashed in the MKC hold as long as they don't actually need the space for a fleet boat - and since it actually fits into a space in the "rafters" of the fleet hold that a sea kayak doesn't (a surfski is longer than the average sea kayak, but the cross section is much smaller), that won't happen unless MKC decides to add another surfski to their fleet.

These holds that I refer to occasionally are all compartments in the barge known as Pier 63 Maritime (the barge is moored at the site of the former Pier 63 - the pier itself is actually long gone as are so many of the old piers). This barge is actually a bit of Hudson River history - once upon a time (not so very long ago at all, I think this was going on into the 1970's), a lot of goods were delivered to Manhattan by rail, using barges to transfer loaded boxcars across the rivers. The barges had tracks on them and there were special transfer piers with matching sets of tracks that would line up with the tracks on the barge. Once the connection was made, the pier would serve as a bridge between the barge & the land (just like a ferry loading ramp, only with even more precision required to make the 2 sets of rails line up) and a locomotive would hook up to them & make the final delivery.

The interior of a car float was basically a set of watertight compartments with support columns (perpendicular to the deck of the barge) latticed with sturdy steel crossbraces to support the weight of the loaded boxcars. Since the Pier 63 barge is enjoying a genteel retirement as a waterfront public space, restaurant, mooring site for historic vessels, performance venue, and general neat place to hang out, and loaded boxcars will never be in the picture again (although there is a nice red caboose there), most of the crossbracing was able to be cut away, leaving only the major support columns. This opened up the spaces in the holds to be used for kayak storage and other uses.

The Pier 63 Maritime barge is constructed of steel, and has been around since 1946. That's a long time to spend on salt water, and naturally, there's a lot of rust.

Inside the kayak storage holds, there's a steady, although imperceptible, snow of rust particles.

It's always a bit of a shock the first time I pull my surfski out of its' roost in the rafters after 6 months. It's completely covered with rust & dust & it looks more like I disinterred it (next year maybe I'll get something to wrap it in at the end of the season) than just pulled it off of a rack.

This year it was about as bad as it's ever been, so we started with a good rinse, then off for a short spin. Nothing spectacular, just Pier 63 to just past the Gansevoort Peninsula twice plus a couple of laps - somewhere between 2.5 and 3 nautical miles. Didn't want to go too far because I was paddling solo & it was the first run of the season - if my Romany is a good reliable little cow pony of a boat, a surfski is a thinskinned Thoroughbred that likes to move fast but is prone to bucking off a nervous rider if a wake hits it wrong.

First trips of the season on this one are more about regaining the balance it demands than speed. I did get a pretty good workout, though, and only had to wimp out & put my feet down for one really big breaking wake. Later in the season, I would be able to take that bow on & be OK - but I wasn't really into swimming last night & putting your feet down over the sides & into the water might make surfski master Bob Twogood look at you reproachfully, but it does instantly boost your stability.

I did manage to not fall off, which was my goal. Speed will come as I get back into the surfski groove & start gearing up from the good strong touring stroke - which moves the boat pretty well - to the higher-angled racing stroke - which makes it go "whoosh" through the water. Whee.

It's feeling more and more like summer. All I need now is to see a firefly...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


GREAT to start the day off with a little good news!

I think this thing would've just WRECKED the West Side. Saw a drawing once - it was just this hulking behemoth sitting there, looming over the river. Like an elephant in a living room. And the traffic...oh, the mind reels. They said (good old stupid "they") people would take public transportation - who are they kidding? Hasn't Bloomberg ever try to get past Madison Square Garden before a Knicks game? Don't bother taking a cab, with all the people who for some unknown reason though it'd be a better idea to drive into town and furthermore think they're ha ha going to find ha ha ha parking anywhere in the ha ha ha ha ha vicinity, it'll cost you all the money you've got on you and you can walk wherever you're going faster. Ugh. This was a bad, bad idea. Bravo Messrs. Sheldon & Bruno.

Now I wonder what's going on with the Marty Markowitz Coliseum?? Haven't heard so much as a peep over that in a long time. I should go check with my friend who lives in that area, see what's going on there...

Monday, June 06, 2005

Symposium Post #1

Finally – a nice thundery, rainy night to write about the symposium!

The Hudson Valley Outfitter’s first ever Hudson Valley Kayak Symposium was, I think, a success. I’d definitely do it again if they invite me. Camp Mariah was absolutely beautiful – a perfect setting for the type of workshops offered. A beautiful, quiet lake, set in rolling hills – Baltimore orioles flying around (I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those before – that’s the most astounding shade of orange I’ve ever seen on a living creature) – stars at night, and campfires with s’mores, and that aforementioned somersault-inducing lawn – great.

Teaching-wise, I think I did OK. As usual, this was a situation where immediately afterwards, I was euphoric, then within a day I was reviewing what I’d done & just picking myself to pieces. Laurels have about a 24-hour lifespan for me, max. However, I think that’s one of the traits that’s made me into even as good a paddler as I am – I’m never quite satisfied with where I am and so I work out ways to challenge myself. Going for my four star was challenging myself. So was teaching at this symposium.

During my period as a partner at MKC, I taught a LOT of kayaking classes – but it was always following the same syllabi and always working with people I knew pretty well. This business of being thrown in with a whole bunch of total strangers and just winging it? Whew.

The amazing thing was how well it all actually worked out.

They had drawn instructors from Florida to Maine. Backgrounds were similarly varied – that listing of types of boats I went into the other day? I felt like doing that would help set up the non-kayakers who read this with a little understanding of how many disciplines you find under the one umbrella term, “kayaking”. So – we had whitewater people, Greenland people, and sea kayakers. Just to complicate things more, sea kayak instructors tend to be certified by two organizations – the American Canoe Association and the British Canoe Association – and I think we had representatives of both schools – plus a couple of talented mavericks (ACA or BCU certification is not a foolproof guarantee that an instructor’s going to be good, although it does mean that that person has taken the time and effort to go through the training and certification process, which says something, you do hear some weird stories – the flip side of that coin is that lack of formal credentials absolutely does not automatically indicate that a person doesn’t know their stuff). And if that’s not bad enough already – kayak instruction is a developing art – a person (me, for example) who started out going through ACA training a few years ago but has since spent more time in BCU courses is already going to be “old school” as far as modeling & teaching certain skills (I found that out the hard way on Sunday in the one class that I’d say didn’t go quite as well for me, although I think the students still got a lot & that’s the important thing). Funny stuff. Anyways, you throw all these different types in together and either the flavors are going to mingle as deliciously as those of the lamb curry I made last week – or it’s going to be a complete disaster.

On the whole, I think the clients left with a good taste in their mouths.

It’s all in the mindset, really. I’ve written from time to time about how I like a Greenland paddle for one thing, and a Euroblade for another, and wings go with surfskis, and even a 25-year old, beat-up, aluminum Grumman canoe has a good, just, and right place in the world of watercraft – well, it’s the same with these different schools of thought. In the end, it’s all about imparting the ability to be a confident, capable, and aware paddler, at whatever level the student chooses to work for. ACA & BCU are just different ways of arriving at the same goal, and an ACA coach & a BCU coach & a Greenland coach can all work together perfectly well if they don’t take the “my way’s right, your way’s wrong” attitude, but rather recognize that there are going to be differences in styles, but maybe one thing is going to work better for one student & another for another. And that’s pretty much what happened here.

HVO started out with a staff meeting on Friday night, which had a lot to do with that. Making a quick count of the sessions, there were 13 workshops spread over 7 2-hour sessions. The organizers went over the syllabi for each, so we had a general understanding of what the clients were expecting to get. In general, beyond that, the modus operandi for the sessions I co-taught was that the other instructor and I would put our heads together before the class & talk through how we planned to approach it. That worked fine for the most part.

I found that there were definitely classes that lent themselves to team teaching, even with only a 5-minute preliminary planning session with my co-instructors. Some were a little trickier & I’ll definitely be mulling over how to approach better next time.

My first class was “Getting on the Water” – that worked out GREAT in every way. First off, this was the perfect venue for teaching all the basic variations of launches and landings – nope, no surf, but we had a sandy beach, a high dock, and plenty of rocky shoreline. My co-instructor Bill and I actually had very complementary skills – he & his wife Elizabeth are guides in Florida, so they’re really good at assessing natural shorelines for landing potential – we were both fine with beach launches – and as an urban paddler, I’m particularly comfortable with dock launches & landings.

2nd session – Rescues! Rescues are always great classes to co-teach. There are a couple of really basic assisted rescues that any paddler should be able to perform either as a rescuer or a rescuee – so the 2 instructors just take turns rescuing & being rescued, then you pair off the students & they rescue each other (“being the teabag”, I heard one of the instructors call it) & besides being a fundamental must-have kind of skill, it’s really kind of fun (falling out of boats can be fun – kids know that but us grownups tend to forget it). Evan, my Maine Guide co-instructor, was very tall, so one nice thing about the 2 of us being paired off to teach this was that we got to demonstrate that a smaller rescuer can rescue a bigger person. Unfortunately, with only an hour and a half, and some fairly cold water too, we only had time to demonstrate a couple of uses for the paddlefloat (a self-rescue device consisting of an inflatable bladder that slips over the end of your paddle to act as a steadying outrigger while you get back into your boat – the concept may sound simple but this only works when you need it if you practice it a lot when you don’t, a demo’s not really enough). Oh well. Lots of good assisted rescue work & that’s a very good thing to take away.

After lunch, Gillian, who does a lot of Outward Bound work, & I taught a forward stroke class. This, I’d say, is one of the skills that might have been easier for one person to teach – I don’t know, it just wasn’t as easy to team-teach as the other classes that had offered more natural segue moments for the instructors to “pass the baton”. We did work to hand it off to each other but the handoffs felt a little more arbitrary, at least to me. I should’ve asked Gillian what he thought afterwards – that would’ve been helpful. I felt myself rushing stuff at the times I was leading because I didn’t want to hog it & that was one of those things I think I could’ve done better on. Not quite sure how, but I’ll have that in mind for next time.

Also – an hour and a half somehow just isn’t enough time, the way I’m accustomed to teaching basics. A good strong forward stroke is THE basic building block of kayak technique, and it is completely counterintuitive, and you have to spend a WHOLE lot of time convincing arms to let torsos & legs do the work for once, and once you get everything working sort of ok on land, you go put people in boats and it all goes away again. Hour and a half class, I was mostly looking for flashes of the stroke working right – I’d let the student go until the stopped, then I’d say “How did that feel?”, and they’d have the light bulb look & say “Great”. And I’d say “Yeah – that was it”. Then even if they couldn’t QUITE get it working in that short hour-and-a-half – they’d have some idea of it stashed away in their mind to work towards at home.

My fourth & final session on Sunday was Women on Water. Or, as it turned out, Women Sitting in a Circle on a Lush Green Lawn Under a Clear Blue Sky Swapping Paddling Stories. I was ready to go do some intensive skills work – technique being where it’s at when you’re a woman paddler – but after 3 intensive sessions everybody seemed happy to stay dry & warm, so it became more just a discussion. I did lead some – but not a lot, there were some women there who may not have had my training and technical skills and blah, blah, blah, but had been paddling for a long time & when they started sharing – well, that was great. Here I’d done all this stressing and sweating & straining over finding resources & handouts & what have you – and darned if the students in the class didn’t turn out to be resources every bit as good!

Now that was the one I was the most unsure about teaching – but boy, it came out fun. Relaxed, yet people did say it was informative. Somehow I think if I’d written some big lecture & planned every moment of the class – it wouldn’t have been half as good.

Anyways – I think Saturday’s sessions are enough for today. I can’t quite edit my first symposium EVER down to a single post!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Log, 6/3 - 6/5

Busy weekend, Frogma style -

Friday, 6/3: Was good & dutiful finance analyst from 9 am to 7:30 pm. Was signed up to crew 8:30 - 10:30 sail on schooner. Weather - dreary drizzle. Expectation - fully expected to get call around 7 saying "No sail tonight". Surprise surprise - we had a birthday party group of twenty-plus hardy souls that were game enough to put on our long yellow slickers, let us take 'em for a 2-hour sail down to the Statue of Liberty and back, and imbibe lots of champagne in the rain en route!

I always admire passengers that will do that. Some people are so quick to want to back out even if it's just really overcast. Not these guys though - they were great & I think they had a really good time - and when I see people having a really good time on my boat, I start having a good time too. And since the day job has been rough (plus there was something I found out at the symposium - which I will write about but not tonight 'cause I'm POOPED - that has put me into a rather weird mood & not a good one), sailing around New York Harbor in the dark & drizzle with a bunch of people who were treating it all like a big adventure was really just what I needed.

Saturday - Attempted to go get my Romany blessed at the first ever North River Blessing of the Fleet & Opening Day. Failed, though. We carry on unblessed. Oh well, we've done pretty well without being blessed for the last few years. See - what happened was that the event was advertised as lasting from 1 to 5. Supposedly any boat that went by looking to get blessed during those hours was going to get blessed. However - the press was advertised as being there from 2 to 3. I'm enough of a non-publicity-hound that I decided that I would go well after that - I launched at 3:15 & got down there, oh, 3:45 or so I think it was. Unfortunately once the press left, so did all the ministers & rabbis & gurus. Thhhbbbt. Guess it was just a photo op to them. The organizer, John Doswell, and Noreen from the Hudson River Park stuck around - at least THEY were good sports about it. They thought there might still be at least one holy-type person around so I did hang around, did some rolls for the folks on the pier, listened to the band, talked up the increasing cleanliness of the river, all good Frogma & pretty much fun, too - as I was doing that, a whole PACK of people from the Downtown Boathouse turned up & when nobody came over even for that gang, that pretty much determined that there were no formal blessings to be had that day. But it was a beautiful day, and I just pottered around until 7:00 or so - Pua's comment the other day about how pix would be nice gave me kind of a fun idea & so Saturday was all about Phase 1 of doing that - I'll be picking up a cd-rom from the developer on Tuesday & we'll see if I have any material worth playing with - we shall see. But boy did I get a nice relaxing nosing around here - nosing around there day. Plus since I was solo & not really in a hurry it was a good chance to go Greenland for a couple of hours. Finished with a little more skills practice at the barge (lots of rolling) and all the sudden it was 7:00 already! The evening plan was that I was going to have a celebratory drink with some friends who are celebrating some wonderful things that have happened in their life this year (an incipient baby, a PhD attained, and a university job all lined up - couldn't happen to a nicer couple, either!), and I'd really meant for there to be a shower somewhere in the time between the blessing/photography paddle and the drinks, but that wasn't going to happen. Fortunately they are paddlers too & don't mind that I'm-fresh-off-the-Hudson-and-rinsed-myself-down-with-a-garden-hose-in-lieu-of-going-home-for-a-shower my trip to a Chelsea grocery store right after this unexpectedly long day on the water resulted in my turning up at their place with fresh mozarella, prosciutto, ripe tomatoes, fresh basil and little mini-toast thingies to serve it all on - really, would you turn away someone carrying a bribe like that? A trip to D'agostino's when you've just been on the water for 3 hours is dangerous (but my contribution to the evening did turn out YUMMY).

Today - another beautiful day - worked on the schooner, we had a 1:00, a 3:30, and a 6:00 - I got relieved for the 8:30. We had some good sails - lots of people getting barefoot, stripping down to bikini tops & sprawling out on the cabin tops in the sun, and just generally letting all their stress just go drifting off. Crew has to keep our shirts on of course but a sleeveless polo is one of the uniform options, and I wore that with shorts, so my poor winter-white arms & legs did at least get to see the light of day today (or whatever light can make it through SPF 48 - this is just the first long sunny day of a summer of long sunny days, I use the maximum). It was such a lovely day that I was tempted to just go out for a ride on the 8:30 sail - but the idea of getting the relief crew for me in the first place was so that I could be home & in bed by 11:00 or so - lord only knows what this work week is going to be like & it would behoove me to arrange to face the misery with 8 hours of sleep. Lots of other boats out today too - schooners, motorboats, Whitehall dories, kayaks...which reminds me I wish I had some way to get a note to that lone shirtless guy in the blue plastic kayak that was dodging between our schooner and the large motor yacht over on the Jersey side - WEAR YOUR PFD, YOU DOPE! You didn't look hot paddling around out there bare-chested...what you looked like was a candidate for the Darwin award. Sheese.

Sorry, couldn't help a little rant there. That's just really dumb.

Good day on the water though - noon to 8, w/6 hours of callouses are coming back & I'm ready for a good sound sleep!

I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that Saturday's picture trip has good results 'cause that really will be fun if they come out!

Friday, June 03, 2005

holy THAT'S cold.


This is amazing.

Next time we are in a NY heat wave and I'm tempted to whine, I am going to go to this website (which I started visiting after Michlt at Rivertyde posted about it way back in the wintertime) and have a good read about the latest Antarctic shenanigans. Then I will run outside & happily throw myself into the friendly embrace of what will suddenly feel like the nice friendly air of a warm & humid hazily-sulit day. Wallow in the sheer joy of being warm. Maybe go find an ice-cream truck & buy an ice-cream sandwich, or a sprinkler to run through (and there's always my kayak to roll!),and LOVE it.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

An evening like a seashell.

Sometimes the best times on the river are the ones you don’t plan. Last night was so good it was worth taking an actual lunch hour to write about.

I’m so happy we’re back into the after-work paddle time of year. I was joking about the trials of urban paddling the other day – but then there’s the flip side. With the water temperatures up to the point where the big, bulky drysuit is optional, and daylight lasting until well after 8, it suddenly becomes feasible to just pack up a backpack of clothes & some lights - your boat is down there by the river, just waiting for you to come & play – if the urge strikes, and the workday allows, off you go for a sunset spin.

I did that last night.

It was wonderful.

Nothing I haven’t done a thousand times before – just a one-hour-and-change paddle south & back - but isn’t it wonderful when you can do something for the thousand and first time & still have your breath taken away?

And get a great workout to boot?

My company has just begun a new fiscal year. As a member of a temporarily short-staffed finance team (one team member on vacation, one position temporarily vacant), I had a rough week last week & was not making any weekday plans this week or next week. Paddles will have to happen when they can - planning ahead would just mean standing people up, or at least making them wait for me in a most inconsiderate way.

I had paddling clothes with me last night in hopes that I might be able to sneak out early enough to get in at least a short paddle. 7:00 was pushing it – but I went.

I was at the barge, changed, lights on the boat, and on the water by 7:40. Sunset was at 8:20. High water was around 6 so by this time current wasn't a big factor - given my druthers, for a short paddle, I go south so I don't have to deal with the Waterways terminal & security zones around the cruise ship piers.

Since this was unplanned & unannounced, I thought I’d be going solo, but one of the Pier 63 gang, Tom, was out doing laps in his 18-foot carbon-fiber Epic kayak. I asked him if he’d like to join me, he said yes & off we went. The company was nice, and the “great workout” part was the result of two fairly evenly matched paddlers pushing each other all the way. Tom’s boat is designed for racing & is inherently faster than my 16-foot fiberglass Romany – if he keeps practicing he will smoke me, no two ways about it, but right now, I can still stay with him IF I am paddling almost perfectly (when I pull that off I feels like I’m just breathing my boat through the water) – and working to keep up with Tom in his speedy boat lit off a certain thoroughly enjoyable competitive intensity & focus that I can’t get to as easily if I’m just paddling by myself (when I’ll be working at, oh, probably around 80% max output & trying to tell myself I’m working as hard as I can, only I know I’m kidding myself). Tom said something about me having him working at about the maximum too – well, that’s a good paddle, then.

There was a tour (or maybe guide training) out from New York Kayak Company (based at Pier 40) – we blew past them in a most satisfactory manner (doubly so if it was guide training – triply so ‘cause it was mostly, if not all, guys - bwa ha ha haaa, yes, it's true, in some cases I am an evil nasty competitive rhymes-with-witch).

And then on top of all this good fast paddling, it was absolutely beautiful. It was a very hazy evening; the Verranzano Narrows Bridge and the south end of the Upper Harbor were hidden in a deep bank of fog. The sunset was a gentle one – all pastels, blues and pinks and golds – the haze in the air blurred the edges between land, sea and sky – the evening ferry rush hour had passed & there were few motorboats out, and we were right around slack water, so the water was moving towards glassy, reflecting the sky – and with the haze softening the boundaries, the whole world filled with the colors in the sky.

It was like paddling inside of an enormous, gently glowing, pearly seashell.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

My reservations about sitatops - a case in point.

Remember the reservations about sit-atop kayaks that I expressed in the post before last, the one where I got all obsessive about listing types of kayaks?

"On the minus side - well, these are super user-friendly boats, pretty much anyone can jump on one & move it around no problem, which is, on the surface, a plus - but that's also a problem because it's really easy for one of these user-friendly boats to quietly carry a novice into non-user-friendly conditions"?

Wenley has posted a sad example of EXACTLY the kind of thing I was talking about. Really sad story. I find it a little eerie that he posted this so soon after I was feeling like maybe I was being too much of a worrywart when I went off into that minirant. I guess I wasn't wrong.