Oh, that last link was too saddening. Have to followup with happier.
1. Hey, who has ever fantasized about paddling in Venice? Well, it doesn't have to just be a fantasy - Rene Seindal, who started up the Paddling Planet (if you have a kayak blog & you aren't on there, you should let him know - the more the merrier!), is starting a kayaking business. Looks very cool. Interested? Check out Venice Kayak!
2. Want to get in the mood for St. Patrick's Day? Put on your favorite Chieftains record ('cause yeah, we sound JUST LIKE them, they just have better publicists!) and then visit the Flickr gallery I set up after a fabulous Irish music party a friend of mine threw back in February (sheesh, at the rate I'm going my President's Day trip report will get posted in April...).
Tons of fun, I was SO glad it was during the day so I could go & actually get some good pictures! A lot of the sessions tend to be at night, and I just don't like flash photography with the Optio (except for the odd flower that gives you a nice surprise when you take an accidental flash closeup, first two in that post were that case), so this was fun.
BTW, ever think it would be fun to play music like the Chieftains (or dance like the Riverdance people)? Well, there's a great place in Manhattan to get started - it's the Irish Arts Center! OK, honestly, few of us amateurs ever get anywhere close to Chieftains level, but the good folks at the IAC have taught many a beginner enough music & dance to enjoy playing along in or dancing with a group. It's lots of fun ("great craic" is a term you'll sometimes hear coming from the actual Irish Irish people use when the room starts to fill energy that gets going when people are playing well together & having a great time doing it, means the same thing pretty much) and hey, person does not live by boat alone!
And in a very nice twist - you need not be Irish to apply!
Don't live in NYC? There are organizations like the IAC in many other places - a good place to start looking is the branch finder page on the website of the world's largest group for the preservation & promotion of Irish traditional music and dance (stole that description from their site of course), Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
Look - there's even a branch in Japan!