Tuesday, February 28, 2006

a few Florida pix

BTW I tried to put a picture up with my last post, but Blogger's photo posting was being uncooperative. I have put up a few pictures on Buzznet. Didn't actually do a lot of picture-taking 'cause I was too busy playing myself. I did buy a few from the event photographer.

The usual Buzznet navigation note applies - the little blue squares with 3 white dots are supposed to be an arrow, and will move you on to the next slide (or thumbnail page in the thumbnail section).

BCU/Greenland Week – Day 1, Tuesday, Feb. 21st - plus a little history,

the history being both of kayaks themselves and of my two-steps-forward one-step back efforts to get beyond the basic Greenland rolls. I started out with the intent of just talking about what I worked on the first morning but, er, it turned out to be impossible to even start to talk about that without talking about my earlier encounters with Cheri & a very different kind of boat than the ones I'm accustomed to. This is the nature of learning to paddle well, though - seems to me like everything I learn eventually becomes a step to learning something else, it's very hard to isolate steps, it's all been a flow - it doesn't always go as smoothly or as fast as I'd like it to, but even the most frustrating moments turn out to have been building blocks when I look back at them. OK 'nuff philosophical bs, on to the post...

After a good night's sleep, I was up at 7:30. Started the day by breaking in my new camp stove with some tea & hot cereal, and talking with Russell (one of the Sweetwater staff, all very nice folks) about a boat (he had a lot of boats & people to deal with & mine was one of a couple that somehow wasn’t around, but he worked everything out fine - as it turned out I didn't even need one of Sweetwater's boats that day), I joined the “Greenland Dream Team” in a morning yoga warmup & introductions. Cheri Perry, Dubside, Greg Stamer, Turner Wilson, and Freya Hoffmeister – it was actually this particular combination (especially Cheri & Dubside, both of whom I’d met & from whom I’d learned a lot before, and the others I’d heard nothing but good about), along with Nigel Foster for the Euro side, that got me down to Florida; I’d been trying all winter to figure out how to get up to the pool sessions in Connecticut where Cheri & Turner have been teaching – oddly enough, it was actually easier to get to Florida. Go figure.

After introductions, we sorted out who was doing what; originally there’d been things on the schedule like “Greenland Rolling” and “Greenland Skills” but how it really worked out was that everybody talked about what they knew and what they wanted to learn, and the instructors talked about what they could teach, and then we split off based on that. This change of plans was quite reflective of the differences in teaching styles between more formalized, syllabus-driven American Canoe Association and British Canoe Union type classes and the more unstructured approach favored by Greenland kayakers – I may go into that a bit more in some other post. Or maybe not, we'll see where this all goes. At any rate, as it worked out, in the morning, those of us who were a little more experienced at rolling (including Ross, the very nice spy from Kayak Wisconsin) went with Cheri, Turner & Dubside for work on our rolls, while those who were less experience rollers started the morning with Greg & Freya with work on the basic forward stroke.

This first session, for me, started out with simply getting my mind wrapped around the concept of how a Greenland boat fits, and how you use it. Greenland kayaks tend to be very svelte, trim, low-volume craft; there was quite a bit of discussion about Greenlandic kayak culture, along with the skills, and one point that was made was that a lot of the West Greenland kayaks were made strictly for hunting & there would actually be a support boat that followed the hunters – the umiak, rowed by the women (although steered by some old codger who couldn’t hunt anymore). That would be the boat that actually carry all the extra gear & tents & thermoses of hot cider & what have you. All that the kayak had to carry was a paddler and all of his hunting gear, all of which was carried on deck. That low-volume plan modified as it spread & was adapted by Europeans to more recreational uses; my Romany is not exactly a tub but next to one of these West Greenland slivers, it’s downright portly. When I sit in mine, my feet are on adjustable foot-braces; my knees are slightly raised & apart & comfortably flexed; the insides of my thighs hold onto the thigh braces that are built into the cockpit.

The first time I ever rolled Cheri’s boat – nicknamed “Stealth” because it’s gleaming black & angular – at the Greenland on the Hudson day in, what was it, May 2004 I guess, I was permitted to sit in it in a similar fashion. My knees were lower, but I was able to rest my feet on the bulkhead, basically the posture was the same & therefore there was no change in the basic mechanics of rolling. I was using the exact same set of muscles, applied in exactly the same way, but in a boat that rolls a LOT more easily than a Romany (which has a well-earned reputation as an easy-to-roll boat anyhow). It was phenomenal – Cheri started me with basic stuff & then gradually worked me through the gradations of hand rolls as far as an elbow roll (hand roll with the “outboard” hand clasped to the back of the head throughout the roll). Really incredible. But not really Greenland-style as far as boat fit!

The second time I got a lesson from Cheri was the following winter at the pool I haven’t been able to get to this year. My #1 Greenland mentor Jack Gilman gave me a ride up - I was so psyched to get to learn from Cheri again & also to get back into that fabulous boat. Turned out there was a catch, though. By then, she’d been to Greenland, and now there was a change to how she set a student up in the Stealth. The addition was a simple flat piece of closed-cell foam that went between the deck and the tops of the thighs – you’d get into the boat with the foam down around your knees, then you’d reach down, grab it, and pull it up on your lap to literally wedge yourself into the boat! This pressed your legs down flat with your knees together – which totally changed the basic mechanics that I’ve been using to right a kayak ever since I first learned how. With my legs more or less immobilized inside the boat, I felt nearly paralyzed – even a basic sweep roll felt mushy – the difference between this new situation & the dreamily effortless hand rolls I’d pulled off in the same boat was flat-out demoralizing. It was like being totally sure that you were heading off to take a test on a subject you were really good at, and expecting that you were going to breeze through & get an A+ only to find that you’d been studying English lit and the test was on astronomy. AGH! I spent an awful lot of the time Cheri wasn’t actively working with me simply laying out in a balance brace & gradually turning the boat further & further up on edge – just trying to figure out what muscles had to do what to roll the boat from this very different setup & feeling like a complete klutz the whole time. Can’t say I came anywhere close to figuring it all out that day – didn’t have long enough for my poor bewildered muscles to really “get it”. I guess I did learn a lot that day, just not what I’d thought I would be learning – but although that was over a year ago, I think what I learned then really carried over to now.

For starters, this time I was FULLY EXPECTING the adjustment period that I did need when Cheri had me get into Turner’s skin-on-frame and pull up that lap foam to lock myself in...

ok that's plenty for one post. To be continued.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tuiliqs failing to dry

The first day was the only day where anyone actually got to put on dry paddling gear. We all hung things out but it was more to drip than to actually dry - dry just wasn't going to happen with the humidity was hovering in the high 90's up to 100% (fog). Here are the tuiliqs for the Greenland classes getting less wet.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Sweetwater Kayaks BCU/Greenland Week - Day 0

(General note - for the next few days I will be posting about my trip to Florida. I apologize in advance to non-kayak readers, I am quite likely to be giving extremely free rein to my inner kayak geek)

First night in Florida - Dubside demonstrates Greenlandic hypnotism techniques.

Day 0 – Monday, Feb. 20
This was primarily a getting there & setting up day, no boats, but plenty of fun once all the hassle of getting there was out of the way! I got to Tampa around 2, got the car, dropped by the Sweetwater Kayaks shop to buy a hood & camp stove fuel, then by a grocery store (a bewilderingly large one to one who’s accustomed to NYC’s more compact grocery stores!) for food for the week, then (after a little frustration with a crappy rent-a-car street map that was fine for sorting out what general direction I needed to go but quite sketchy on details – I was following the highway I needed to be following it in the direction in which I needed to be going but instead of being on it I was weaving back and forth under the underpasses until I finally stumbled across an onramp, as I’d figured I would if I just stuck to driving in the vicinity of the highway long enough) on to Ft. DeSoto to pick my campsite (found a nice one sort of set back from the common area where everyone congregated, but not so far back in the woods that I’d be having turf issues with the rattlesnakes the pre-symposium newsletter warned us about) & pitch camp.

Settled in & ready for the next few days, I joined a group watching Dubside give his first of many demos of Qajaasaarneq, Greenland rope gymnastics. That's really whoat's going on in the picture at the start of this post - the rope exercises are hypnotic to watch, but they were actually developed as a technique for staying in good shape over the long cold Greenland winters, and are also used as a learning tool to help prepare youngsters to learn how to roll. These exercises are one of the events at the annual Greenland kayaking championships.

I’ve watched him do this before, of course, but this time it became an open session as the other instructors started trying their hand at it – at the other events where I’ve watched ropes demos, it was either Dubside by himself, or Dubside and one or two of the other really serious Greenland people, but this time people who’d never tried it before were jumping up & trying things. It started with the instructors, who were all strong, physically confident people & keen to try this new game; Dubside would demonstrate one & make it look easy & graceful, then one of the BCU instructors would give it a shot, with varying degrees of success but always laughing; eventually the students started joining in too (although that happened more on the following days).

I waited until the crowd had thinned before trying a couple myself – ever since the first time I saw this done at the Hudson River Greenland Festival a couple of years ago, I been dying to give this a shot, although it does look a little scary as there’s no padding to fall on. One nice thing about watching the instructors “learning the ropes” (oh, dear, I am so, so, so sorry, I should have left that pun unwritten) on the ropes though was that I was able to zero in on a couple that were both described as simpler and clearly kept you horizontal on the ropes - I was very interested in not falling on my head before I’d even had a chance to get in a boat, but these ones I was confident that I would at least not hurt myself if I screwed ‘em up. I got a couple, I failed a couple, it was fascinating to finally TRY these things I’ve seen & see how it feels. I can’t speak to the higher-point ones but for the basic ones I tried, if you could get your body to the right position, gravity & the laws of physics did the rest of the work – very much like rolling a kayak, really - but it took a certain amount of strength & coordination to get your body to the right position. It’s funny, the ones I couldn’t get, I’m really not sure which of those two components I was missing, or if I was a little shy of what I needed in both.

Dinner was provided by Sweetwater; Jean & company made up some big tubs of ziti and salad. That was a nice surprise when I’d gone assuming that participants were on their own as far as feeding themselves, and in fact if I do this again next year I’ll lighten up on the dinner groceries ‘cause people were going out every night – I only actually cooked one dinner for myself in camp. The evening wrapped up with drinks around the fire (drinks like, um, hot cocoa, yeah, and grape juice, in keeping with the regulations of the youth camp that was used for BCU/Greenland week, naturally ;D). I decided to turn in pretty early; even though Nigel Foster himself told me that I couldn’t possibly go to bed yet because it wasn’t even one o’ clock yet, and even though it would have been so much fun to stay up & just listen to the instructors talk story (which, as I understand it, is maybe not HALF the fun of attending a symposium, but a solid chunk thereof), I was feeling like I’d had enough of a day. The next day’s classes were scheduled to start at 9:00 and I wanted to be awake for that! Fell asleep to the sounds of insects, laughter drifting from the campfire & the dripping of condensation falling from the palmettos.

Well that was FUN.

So here's one new trick I picked up in Florida. It was a fantastic four days, and I need to try to write as much down as I can before I forget what I did. Unpacking comes first, though, and there's not much to eat in this apartment, so I should go see what I can hunt down (at the grocery store, I mean!). Thought I'd just put up this one picture & say it was a wonderful, wonderful 4 days.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Gone Paddling.

Off to Florida for a week of soggy froggy amphibious fun! back next weekend, hopefully with a new trick or two to babble about!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Watching birds flying in a gale, and getting happy about sunlight and FLA!

I took this picture looking down Houston Street looking west on Tuesday night. My official work day is 9 to 5, but I tend to more commonly leave at six or seven, so it's a wonderful thing when I start seeing LIGHT when I'm leaving after work. It says summer's on the way - and the tail-end of sunset at 6 is especially cheering! Winter did make an emphatic reappearance this weekend as another storm came through - I had hoped to get in one more two or three hour paddle in today, but by Friday morning the marine forecast for Saturday had completely deteriorated & was talking gale-force winds all day. If you're in the US, you may have read about this one even if you weren't in the area that got it (sounds like they got it in Wisconsin) as this one was definitely not as bizarrely well-mannered as our nice recordbreaking but non-lethal non-commute-disrupting snow storm was. This one actually came in on Friday morning - I'd left for work on a fairly balmy springy morning, and then sometime in midmorning, I decided to go up to the cafeteria for some coffee. I don't see any windows from my cubicle, so I never know exactly what's going on outside, but the minute I stepped into the open central stairwell of the building I knew something furious was going on outside - the stairwell is topped with a structure of translucent skylights, and you could hear the frames that hold them creaking in the wind battering against them, and there are also 2 square windose that look out on the terrace that's open in the summer - there are a couple of trees in containers out there & their branches were lashing. The company cafeteria is actually a great place for watching a storm - not as good as my old east-facing window on the 96th floor of the World Trade Center (I'll never forget watching the ice riding the tides in and out of the East River, or seeing summer thunderstorms sweep by and head off flashing into Brooklyn), but still quite respectable; it's called "The Greenhouse" and it's actually a structure that was added to the roof when the company had the HQ redone after striking it rich with a certain boy wizard. The eating area the highly-paid architect gave us is all high windows looking out on the rooftop terrace; the building is about the same height as the surrounding offices; you can't quite see the river but you can see the full sweep of the sky.

Friday was post-close, so it was a quiet day of tying up loose ends before vacation, so I was able to take a storm-watching break - I was actually going back down the stairs when in one of the windows, I spotted a seagull fighting to work its' way into the the wind & had to go back up to see how the bird did. I find it so fascinating to watch birds fly in stormy conditions, maybe because the way a bird handles strong winds looks incredibly like how a paddler deals with a strong current, only of course they are better at it than the best kayaker in the world (and swallows are like the whitewater paddlers of the bird world, I watched at Pier 63 on a windy day - it had found a corner behind the building that must've been the avian equivalent of a surfable hole and this guy was in there looping back and forth looking like it was just flat-out having fun). In this case, it seemed like most of the gulls were trying to avoid flying straight into the wind, mostly traveling in directions where they were taking the wind from forward of ninety degrees (I'm tempted to use the sailing terms & say they were reaching - your various reaches are fast & pleasant points of sail, and they were zipping by like lightning) - the one that caught my eye was one of the exceptions to that rule - it was trying to head into the wind; it was barely able to make progress, and seemed to gain ground only through quick, controlled sideslips. After a little time, a lot of effort, and not much gained ground, the gull apparently decided that Weehawken was perhaps a better destination than Hoboken, and fell off & went zipping away on a much more comfortable-looking course.

Winds kept up today & I ended up spending a quiet day at home (I'm sort of glad all my plans fell through because I found that I just wanted to sleep all day - think the week's bout with the flu & accompanying asthma plus a rough week at work wore me out more than I was wanting to admit to myself (the asthma is especially tiring, adding even a little extra work to that fundamental non-optional work of getting oxygen gets to be wearying, and earlier in the flu the extra effort was substantial - never quite got to emergency-room bad but much worse & I would've been thinking about it). Tomorrow I go into the city to get my gear out of my boat and (this could be fun) then I have to go buy a tent! Whee! Yep, after all the hemming and hawing, the weather made the call for me, Lyn was going to bring her tent to the paddle that didn't happen today & I just decided that it would simplify this & any future camping possibilities if I just went ahead & got one. I'll only consider this a bad decision if somehow it never ends up getting used again.

Have to say, weather in St. Pete's looks miiiighty nice - could rain on the symposium, but it looks like the BCU/greenland week crew are in for partly sunny, high 70's all week! I'll still be packing my drysuit as the water's in the 60's, but even so, I'm really happy to be heading down there!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Valentine for My Romany -

Well, I lied a little bit in yesterday's statistics - I did give myself a sick day from teaching at Sarah Lawrence this week. I hadn't heard back from the other instructors last night and I did take all my gear today just in case me not being there was going to cause a big problem, but as it was everybody was just fine with me taking the night off, and I did so with relief. I enjoy going up & teaching so much, but as I said in a comment on yesterday, pool nights are a guarantee that I'm going to work very hard, get very cold, eat very badly and get to bed very late. So I skipped that & am aiming for an early bedtime.

Before I turn in though I thought I'd just put up something over here that I did yesterday as a quick post for a Buzznet "assignment" - the guys who run that site have come up with a fun noncompetitive game where they'll throw out a theme & then see what folks come up with based on that theme. Yesterday being St. V's, the assignment was a simple "What do you love"? Me being me, and the assignment specifically allowing any variety of "love" you wanted to, I naturally couldn't resist the following paean to my own "perfect partner" (sure hope they can see the wink I just winked a-way over yonder there in Kuching) - and at some level, all the other boats that have been a part of my life, too, I guess. Had a little fun with this one, got a little mushy - hey, it was St. Valentine's Day, why not? Enough preamble though:

I Love My Kayak!

I think that to a person who loves boats, a boat, especially and particularly one's own boat, but also any boat with which one has gotten anything of a history, is more than just a boat.

It's all the places you've been in the boat, and all the places you dream of going in the boat -

It's all the things you've learned in the boat, and all the friends you've made because of the boat (er, and possibly some you've lost track of because of the boat, wince - love sometimes means taking the bad with the good, though, right?)

It's all the time you've spent fixing the boat, cleaning the boat, hauling the boat around, wishing you could be out in the boat instead of wherever you are, talking to your boaty friends about the boat, trying to explain to your nonboaty friends about the boat...I could go on all night.

Even the littlest boat has room in the hatches for a rich, rare cargo of memories and dreams - all that's needed is a person to put them there.

I know, I know, Jack Sparrow said it better with that business about
"...what the Black Pearl really is... is freedom.". Heck, if I had handsomely-paid professional screenwriters coming up with my dialogue I might be able to compete with that, but considering the only person writing for me is a sort of junior-level finance analyst who's had the flu for the last three days, my version's not TOO bad, is it?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Statistics & Questions

Number of days until I leave for Florida: 5
Number of days of worth of work to be done before departure were I to work at a comfortable pace: probably about 7
Number of days in which I will do that work: 5
Number of days I've had the flu: 3
Highest temperature achieved over last 3 days: 101.5 (fahrenheit) - unfortunately that was yesterday after I'd already gone to work & it didn't occur to me to go home until I finished this one very time-consuming report
Time at which I finished said time-consuming report: close to 8 pm
Hours of sleep achieved over the last 3 days: nowhere near enough...
Number of sick days I plan to take this week: NONE.

Numbers always add up to something - in this case numbers add up to no time to come up with a real post...so instead, since I just meme'd several totally innocent bystanders, I'm going to go the turnabout-is-fair-play route, throw myself on your tender (or not so tender) mercies, and ask you all to help me answer the burning question -

What kind of pirate am I? You decide!

You can also view a breakdown of results or put one of these on your own page!
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

(and if the answer is a tired, sniffly, stressed-out pirate who spends way too much time in a cubicle, I swear by the bulkheads of my Romany that I will hunt you down & sneeze on you no matter how much water I have to cross to do it...well, unless it's going to take more vacation days than I have left...sigh...I mean ARRRR...no, I mean sigh.)


Monday, February 13, 2006

A few more Brooklyn blizzard photos -

In the end I couldn't resist going out for a walk around the block, even feeling lousy - just to see how it was out there.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Blizzard in Brooklyn

Here's the view out my living room window today.

I've been happy with our nice warm winter but I was secretly (well, not really secretly) hoping for maybe one good snowstorm, preferably over a weekend. My sister & I, as kids growing up in Hawaii, used to think that snow must be the most wonderful thing, and I think we were particularly vocal about that around Christmastime when we'd be stringing up plastic icicles & snowflakes as outside the sun was shining & the bougainvillea, plumeria, hibiscus & bird-of-paradise plants bloomed away in the backyard. My mom, who grew up in New Jersey, would always tell us that snow WAS really neat when it first fell, and was pretty, but then after a while it would get walked on, and snowplowed, and generally turn to a not-so-pretty mushy gray.

Having seen a little more snow in both of those stages, I do have to admit that my mom knew what she was talking about - but boy, I still get a little-kid thrill when I wake up in the morning to see that everything's all white and fluffy outside. As I was watching this storm shape up over the week, I'd had pleasant visions of going for a good long walk in the snow, doing some grocery shopping on the way home & then cooking something in the comfort-food variety in the evening.

I wasn't supposed to have a cold on the same weekend we had the perfectly-timed blizzard I'd hoped for! My plans required at least a little energy, and I don't have any of that. What a total waste of a good snowstorm. Bah.

Fortunately I still had some good soup in the freezer - and plenty of low-key stuff to do here at home. Just not what I'd hoped for. Whine whine, huh?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

2/11/06 paddle

Most of today's crew coming up the ramp at the DTBH (Midtown) -

With Sweetwater Kayak's British Canoe Union/Greenland Week a little more than a week away, I wanted to make sure that I got some good time in on the water this weekend & next - plus I should hit the gym at least a couple of nights next week, last week I just didn't have time - so completely ignoring the fact that I woke up with lungs that felt like they'd been lightly sandpapered I joined some friends at pier 63 for a 10:30 launch, with vague plans of paddling north against the increasing ebb until we got tired. High water at the Battery (the standard benchmark I tend to use for trip planning) was at 7:07 am, low at 1:32, so launching midway between the two I was expecting maybe a bit of current going against us, but not that much. First thing I noticed when I got to the pier, though, was that the ebb appeared to be very solidly underway, with the water beyond the shelter of Pier 64 moving in a southerly direction quite emphatically. This was probably due to the fact that the winds were already blowing straight down the river - we're having a nor'easter this weekend, and one of a couple of reasons I, although generally loathe to launch before noon given the length of the subway trip on weekends, actually called for a midmorning launch was because I wanted to be sure there was no chance of us still being on the river when the blizzard arrived. The e.t.a. of the storm was sliding around quite a bit last week, but by later in the week Saturday morning was looking like a good bet. Still, the wind was already coming squarely out of the northeast, and that's the sort of thing that can cause noticeable differences between what your tide predictions say & what you actually find to be the case out there. That was definitely the case today; we rounded the corner of Pier 64 to find a gusty breeze in our faces and a solid current against us. Nothing we couldn't paddle against at that point.

We'd coordinated with Nancy & Harry from the Downtown Boathouse - now actually in Midtown (their old Pier 26 location was demolished & their proposal to become the operator at the spiffy new boathouse in the northernmost segment of the Hudson River Park) but they've been the Downtown Boathouse for so long that misnomer or no, that's who they are. The plan was to meet them at 11; owing to the headwind & current, we were a skoshie bit late, but that was OK 'cause they were just launching when we got there. Haven't paddled with them for a while - was sorry Tim wasn't there, he's a pleasure to paddle with too, but he was on some sort of Long Island adventure today. According to the loose plan for the day, we paddled north into that gusty headwind and an increasingly powerful current; finally, a bit shy of Riverside Church, we all seemed to simultaneously realize that we were making very slow headway & decided it was time to head for home.

That cut the trip down a bit from the original 4 hours I'd envisioned spending on the water - but feeling a bit under the weather, I was fine with that. Plus we ended up using that time to accept our northern neighbors' invitation in for a spot of tea! Green tea with roasted rice, specifically. I hadn't seen the inside of the midtown incarnation of the DTBH, so it was fun to get a tour - it is so clean and spiffy-looking, and it has heat, and indoor plumbing, and (wonder of wonders) a hot shower (that's the part that caused a few green eyes, Pier 63 has a cold outdoor shower in the summertime - in the wintertime you just go home smelling like a drysuit, which is helpful in obtaining lots of space in the subway but otherwise unpleasant)...nice digs. Funny dock though. Harry's got some pictures of our joint venture up on Hudson Kayaker where he gives an entertaining review of the dock.

Afternoon Tea at the Downtown Boathouse

We then headed on our way & then went to the Half-King pub for lunch and some intensive pipe dreams. The snow started while we were there, although it was very light. That was the one thing that was a little bit dissappointing about this paddle - as late as the day before, it had really been looking like we might get some gentle snow towards the end of the paddle, and that can be so nice. Ah well. I am not going to complain about the weather we've been having this year.

Almost home

So that's it for tonight; I've now kept myself up late enough that I won't wake up at 2 a.m., so it's time to get some sleep. This being under the weather unfortunately kept me from going to an Irish music house session which was going to be fun; I held off making a decision until way too late, but I just had a feeling that running around out in a blizzard when I was already feeling really run-down might just push it from run-down to flat-out sick.

And with Sweetwater just a little more than a week away, I seriously don't have time for that!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Semi rant...

Haven't indulged in any good NYC-dweller liberal rants lately...well, this isn't so much a rant as a comment. I'm taking a quick lunch break & decided to head over to Polling Report, check out some raw national statistics. And wow. Look at all the red over in the last column. Sure I've been hearing & reading about that but somehow I just find it more impressive when it's just a long list of different polling agencies all telling about the same story.

ok...maybe just a mini rant.

I'm on the MoveOn mailing list & I do actually scan most of the emails they send me. They seem to have a boilerplate email:

Subject:(Insert clarion call to action here)!

Dear MoveOn member:

Please help us protest (insert well-known conservative person or group's name here)(insert questionable activity or opinion linked to said person or group here) by (choose one or more of the following: writing your hometown paper editor; writing your representatives; signing this petition; forwarding this email; donating money to [insert suggested recipient]). And thanks, as always, for your work making sure that America's priorities are in the right place.


–Eli, Ben, Marika, Carrie, and the whole MoveOn.org Political Action Team

It would be really nice, right about now (since sooner isn't possible), if organizations like MoveOn would get the message that people have gotten the message that maybe Bush is NOT the best thing that ever happened to this country and change their focus from "send us money so we can tell everybody how awful the Bush administration is" to "send us money so we can tell Democratic leaders that it's time that they get their sh** together and come up with some constructive alternatives to the status quo". I mean, political campaigns, sadly, are just marketing, and marketing is a two-step procedure, right? 1. You convince someone they have a problem; 2. You convince them that you are the one who can solve that problem. If you forget about the second half, you've missed the whole darned point.

OK, lunch break's over.

Technorati tags:

Excuses excuses -

Sorry so bad about posting lately, I'm terribly pressed for time this week, thought to wrangle a couple of emails I sent in the midst of bashing through way too much stuff into at least a stopgap post & still get 7 hours of much needed sleep - just sort of an update on why I'm a bit scarce & what I've been up to in my absence:

Thanks! Stuck in the middle of the usual week-plus insanity we get at the beginning of every month as we close the books on the prior month; back into teaching pool sessions at Sarah Lawrence on Wednesday nights, too...I wonder if I went back & started copying my teaching-at-SL posts from last year, would anybody notice? Did get a really good paddle in on Saturday, three of us set out with no particular destination in mind (I like that kind of paddling, where it's just about paddling, not about getting somewhere in particular), just three & a half hours of solid paddling - we made it to the George Washington Bridge & back, no messin' around, . Good stuff. Rained on us quite a bit but who cares, drysuits work just as well in a right-side up boat as they do in a sideways or upside down boat. Gotta do paddles that long or longer for the next 2 weekends plus hit the gym pretty hard next week & week after so I can get the most out of the Sweetwater BCU/Greenland week (and the Wisconsin spies of whom I've received advance warning can't bring back any really embarrassing stories about how that Bonnie was such a whuss for Derrick to write up on Kayak Wisconsin).

Winters here has been sort of a non-event, really funny when I consider that I started blogging last year 'cause it was blizzarding & the river was full of ice. I'm starting to doubt we're going to get ice down here this year, there's been word of it further up the river, but it takes a pretty serious winter for it to make it to NYC - I can remember more winters without ice in the Hudson than with, and this winter has been sort of frivolous (hope that sort of disparagement doesn't draw the attention of the weather gods).

So, hmmm, recycling posts? I'm such a creature of habit, I could probably get away with it if I just throw in new ones after vacations or classes I didn't take last year. Basically, I will paddle every weekend & teach on Wednesday nights until late April or early May, and somewhere in March I'll get happy 'cause the daffodils are coming up and the cherry trees are promising to bloom, then I will bring the schooner down unless the schooner comes down on a close week, then I will start working on the schooner one or two days a week, then one day I'll be really happy 'cause it's time to put the drysuit away (although on second thought I never really say "Ok, that's it for the drysuit until winter", it's more I'll just wear it less & less & then one day I'll hang it up in the closet & the next time it'll come out is to get a protectant spray on the latex gaskets 'cause I'll realize I'm probably through with it for the season), then I will take my surfski out for the first time & be really happy about that, then it will get really hot and the city will smell bad and I'll start paddling after work at night & falling over at the slightest excuse, and so on and so forth, and once every month I'll have a week where I'm super stressed over close, and there'll be budget-time madness...ho hum, everything old is new again. Or maybe it's just old again. Well at least my life doesn't revolve around television shows, now that's what I would call boring.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Happy Chinese New Year1

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

As I'd been thinking of doing, I went to Chinatown yesterday for the Lunar New Year parade - I've seen the aftermath before, but my general dislike of crowds had kept me from going - well, it took a while to get started but boy was it fun when it did, I'm really glad I went!

I'd actually started in on a much longer post last night, I got a pretty good spot for the post-parade lion dance in front of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Society & it was a fun one - the choy for the Choy Cheng (go look at Robin's Empire's excellent "What's a Lion Dance?" post for more, no time for details right now) was up with some dignitaries on a second floor balcony & the lion had to get up there to get it & that was fun how they made that happened - anyways, it was a good series except that then the Blogger photo post thing started acting up - like Belinda, when it's good it's very very good, when it's bad it's horrid (but it's free, y'know?) - and it just got to be too late to mess around with it anymore so I threw in the towel & went to bed.

However before that I had gone ahead & posted a whole CNY gallery on my buzznet account, figured I'd just put up a quick post here linking to that. Again, Buzznet navigation hint - a little blue square with 3 little white dots is a next page (>) or prior page (<) button - on the main photo, it moves you to the next picture; on the "my photos" thumbnail set it will move you to the next page of thumbnails allowing for a little more of a browsing approach (in this they happen to be in chronological order but don't need to be looked at that way). Hope you enjoy! OK back to work now!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Shorts and excuses

Later in day, one more quick note before I hit the gym for a quick raising of heartrate - speaking of friends doing things that impress me, my friend Scott Chicken is taking a really constructive approach to hitting a certain age that's known for precipitating many a mid-life crisis. He should start a new blog & call it Scott Chicken Run! OK, sorry, not so funny, long crazy day. BTW if any survivors of marathons would like to go over there and give him an encouraging word, I'm sure he'd get an ulcer from the pressure...NO NO I mean I'm sure he'd really appreciate it! heh heh heh.

Another jammed day, just taking a quick break...more links...how to post without actually having to write anything, just send people somewhere else!

Shorts. Oh, those hateful Malaysians and their shorts (no, I'm not being petty, just go look & you'll see what I mean).

Also rather loved this series of airborne shots ofHaleakalaon Pandabonium's Pacific Islander blog. Pandabonium's post on Chinese New Year Hawaiian-style was also most excellent.

I have to confess that not only am I overloaded with work this week, but I got 2 books last Sunday - I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go see Narnia at the Pavilion Theater in Windsor Terrace last Sunday, decided it would be nice to precede that with a stroll through Park Slope & ended up stopping by a secondhand book shop & walking out with Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues (very neat, finished that last night) and Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (which I'd dipped into once while kittysitting for a friend & have had on the back burner as something I really wanted to finish reading ever since) - since "free time" is limited this week & next, the curling-up-with-a-good-book time has been debited directly from blogging time!

ok, back to the invoices now. Phew. They never end (which is good 'cause if they did I'd be looking for work and I don't like doing that!). Just had to look at words (and pictures) for a little while.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Top 10 Literary Hoaxes plus A Really Real Race

ok, can't resist posting this link that our company librarians put up on the Really Big Children's Publishing House intranet today - it's The Guardian's Top 10 Literary Hoaxes Of All Time and it's fascinating. Remember the Hitler Diaries hoo-hah?

Also since I am doing a quick post here I also just HAD to put this up - one of my new friends from the Rosemary Ruth is going off to do a couple of legs of the Clipper Around the World Yacht Race! Way to go, Brian! To quote a Hawaiian-style high school football cheer I dimly recall...GO, GO, GEEV'UM!

ok, gotta go go back to work now!