Monday, March 31, 2008
Pretty wild. Possibly a little more up-close-and-personal than I'd really want - as a commenter over there pointed out, they have got some teeth to them, and they are wild - but I do wish I'd been there with a camera.
Tim did post a very nice picture one of the downtown boathouse volunteers took of another seal hauled out on the dock at the Uptown branch of the Downtown Boathouse.
What was I saying about seal sightings becoming as common as they are in San Francisco Bay?
I must say that this development is breathtaking. Here is some early history:
Around 1984 or '85 there was an initiative to create Parks launch sites spurred on by Chuck Sutherland but it languished. Then about 1988 Parks created the office of Waterfront Planning with Ann Buttenweiser as director and with an assistant (the office was located in one of the turrets atop the Arsenal HQ building in Central Park near the zoo). Joe Borker and I (both of the MCKC club) were approached to help identify potential sites, answer questions of what kayakers would want in the sites, etc. We even toured with Ann and her assistant to some potential spots.
In the Parks Dept each boro has its own head who is quite autonomous. Some were keen on the idea such as Brooklyn and the Bronx which improved sites with gravel paths to the water, bulkheading and even a kayak dock in one case. Others boros were lukewarm. Still, we had initial success in getting at least one in each boro (some cases we got 2).
Parks wanted to monitor usage and reduce liability. So, it started the permit program ($2) that included a waiver to make Parks feel happier about liability. I wrote a one page description sheet on particulars of each site (location, how to get there, parking, nearby amenities, possible paddle trips from location, local water hazards etc.) and there was also a good writeup on safety and equipment that Parks had (with information mainly from Chuck Sutherland, I believe) All this printed information was then photocopied and attached to each permit.
Then internal Park politics killed off sites. We lost the two in Staten Island for example and sites in Brooklyn and the Bronx, mainly because of local opposition. The one at the far end of Staten Island was scratched because the curator at the Conference House feared fleets of kayaks would be dragged across the lawns; the SI one at Alice Austen park was killed by the Sandy Hook Pilots Association (their office was within sight of the site) that maintained kayakers would roam into the nearby anchorage and be hit by a ship as it swung around with the change of current (did you ever see how slowly that process takes?). One in Brooklyn had its floating dock cut by locals and pushed out to sea and the wooden ramp to it set ablaze. In
Manhattan, 79th St was on and off again like a yo-yo. Then, the Waterfront Planning office was eliminated because of a severe budget crisis in the City under Dinkins.
Now, we have this enormous evidence of a new page being turned with the Parks Dept creating more sites and incorporating non-Park sites into the great interactive map on the Web and on waterproof paper.
Congratulations to all the kayakers and groups that have helped made this delirious development possible in New York City.
BTW, we have something positive happening in Highland NY where I now live. The town is located on the West shore of the Hudson across from Poughkeepsie. On this side of the river there has shamefully been no public access to the river for some 16 miles of shore line from Esopus down to Newburgh. Our town will now have the first such access in a new public park, the Bob Shepard Highland Landing Park. Closing on the property is April 11th and one of the first developments will be a simple kayak launch site with funding from Greenway.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Here's the tug Lyman, northbound in the Buttermilk Channel around noon on Thursday, March 27th. She's towing a really weird-lookin' thing which I put up in the gallery of the day (link to the thing in a minute).
I was totally curious about this thing. I checked in with Tugster Will 'cause I tend to think of him as the go-to guy for identifying weird floating things. Well, he didn't know but he said if I could get him the name of the tug, that might help. Fortunately I took this nice picture - there she is, the Lyman.
And a minute later I took a picture of the thing.
BTW, I think it's pretty funny that I wrote that caption LESS THAN 24 hours before I heard this news! Came out yesterday morning, first saw it in a post from Nancy, the metropolitan coordinator for the Hudson River Watertrail Association, on NYCKayaker, was in the papers the same day.
And in other good news in the Hudson River Park - I was very happy to see that the barge that practically used to be my summer home (hey, we can't all afford the Hamptons) will FINALLY be reopening! Congrats to the Kreveys & all my old friends over there - won't be paddling there much since my boats are all in Canarsie, but you can bet I'll be stopping by to say hello & enjoy my favorite Lackawanna #3 combo - bargeburger and a cold beer, with a side order of sunset!
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Well, this is a pretty neat day for paddling in NYC - after a lot of work by a lot of very dedicated Parks folks, paddling organizations & paddlers, there's now a real live, official New York City Watertrail Map!
update - Gallery's up!
I joined a whole bunch of friends from all over to attend the ribbon-cutting - yes, a lot of us DO have jobs, but y'know, this is for us - totally worth taking a vacation day to attend. It was a nice ribbon-cutting despite the dreary day, and after the ribbon was cut, the paddlers who'd brought boats inaugurated the watertrail launch with a mad rush for the water & a lot of rolling (wooo, that water's still chilly!). I think we had paddlers there on the water from at least 4 of the 5 boroughs - I'm not sure about the Bronx, but we had people on the water from Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan and Queens - good turnout!
The Sebago contingent decided to make a day of it - timing was perfect for a trip up to the Manhattan Bridge & back, and it was great to be back on the Upper Harbor.
And guess what, I finally saw a seal! Stevie spotted one hanging out on a little beach on Governor's Island. Wonderful! I'm always made philosophical noises about my failure to ever see see a seal or a dolphin or a manatee in NY Harbor when just about everyone I paddle with has seen at least one of those (INCLUDING the manatee, there was an adventurous one exploring the Hudson a season or two ago & I think it was some of the outrigger paddlers at Pier 63 who were among the earliest spotters, before a positive ID had even been made). Somehow I was just never on the right trip to catch one, I've always gone "Well, it's just nice to know they're here" - but really, I really did think it would be amazing to see one. And it was!
The seals seem to be getting more & more comfortable in the upper harbor - it wasn't that many years ago that people started spotting them on Swinburne & Hoffman Islands, two small islands just south of the Verranzano Narrows Bridge - but this winter there were 2 different sightings that made the news at 79th street, and this one was on a little beach on Governor's Island looking right across the water at Brooklyn Heights. I wonder if eventually they'll be as frequently sighted here as they are in San Francisco Bay. At any rate, it's a good sign that the area water is getting healthier and healthier - if the seals are moving into the upper harbor more frequently, that means that they are finding plenty of fish, and that's just good stuff.
Anyways - I did take some pictures, which I'll sort through & post the best of after I go wash the salt out of my hair & tend to the big bag of soggy gear.
Not of the seal, actually, er, I tried & it left, I think I scared it in a moment of OH MY GOSH A SEAL insanity, that's bad 'cause I know better than that - when we went by again on our return, though, it was back on the beach, so we didn't spook it too badly. We gave it a wider berth that time & it was happy to stay on the beach. I just have to classify seals as "neat things I can't photograph too well with the current camera", same as pretty much all the birds in Jamaica Bay.
Great day. Way more fun than work!
OK, so anybody wanna take any bets on whether the 3-trip compendium report gets done before April? I thought that would not be a problem but I keep getting stuck at work. I'd already mentioned that I suppose it doesn't really count as playing hooky when you get advance permission - I think it counts even less when you end up working 2 fourteen hour days back to back to make sure you've got all you stuff where it needs to be before you go incommunicado for 24 hours!
Ah well. Here is an excerpt from the compendium. Stevie said I don't post enough pictures of food, so when Minh ordered the pollo paesano at Gino's and it came out looking this yummy, I pulled out the camera (honestly I feel a little silly taking pictures of my food in public, but with all the pretty peppers & sundried tomatoes & what-all I decided to make an exception). Figured I'd go ahead & pull out this picture & post it because 1) I don't want boss bully to be the most recent post any more (surprising how many other people said "Me too!" - pretty wild how widespread & sneaky & treacherous to deal with it is) and 2) maybe the Canadian CKayaker will see it, become overwhelmed with a craving for some good NYC Italian cuisine & pencils a stop in Brooklyn into his quest for water of the non solid-state variety.
BTW since I'm always talking about how much we like to paddle to Gino's and stuff ourselves, it occurs to me that hey, I should actually link to their website in case anybody else wants to skate/bike/row/hang glide/BASE jump in there and stuff themselves too. So here it is! We've always gotten an unfailingly warm welcome, freakish adventure-sport garb and all!
BTW, I do believe you could even get there in one of those "car" things. :D
And CKayaker Michael - if the currents don't work for Gino's, don't forget there's always Turkish!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
It is the most awful situation to be stuck in. He was good, too - everything he did was so low-key that complaining about it would have sounded totally idiotic.
He got clumsier when he became my supervisor. Eventually the situation became so obviously disruptive that I was reassigned - and fortunately for me, there was one supervisor who was sensitive enough to tone to pick up that something strange was going on - but I don't think anybody ever really understood the extent - once I was out from under him that was the main thing. Still, it's all in my personnel records & I still have occasional nightmares that I get to work one day & he's there, grinning the way he would grin as he sat there cheerfully cutting me down to size behind a closed door...
Has nothing to do with my usual subjects but brrr, what a shudder reading that.
Fortunately he's long gone. There were points where I really thought I was going to either quit or get fired, but I did stick it out & it's so much better now. Amazing what a few changes in staff can do for a department.
How very, very odd to think that this will be my first time paddling in the Upper Harbor since September 2006.
Since Valentino Pier is in Red Hook, which is an area that's got a lot of commercial traffic, I'm planning on reviving my old upper-harbor habit of carrying my VHF in my PFD & turned on - Jamaica Bay is quiet enough that as long as conditions aren't rough or likely to turn that way, I usually just have it easily accessible in the day hatch, but I always liked actually listening to it in the Upper Harbor - you can usually get a pretty good picture of who's going where & that cuts down on the nasty surprises for everybody.
One odd thing about NY Harbor is that Channel 13 (bridge to bridge) is sort of the de facto harbor channel - 16 is used, but an awful lot of the general communication goes on on 13.
I used to just know stuff like that, but after a year and a half, I couldn't remember what that non-standard channel was, so I did a quick Google search under "NY Harbor VHF Channel", and found a very neat site, IBoatNYHarbor.com. It may not be the slickest site you've ever seen, but in the quick look-around I took, I saw an AWFUL lot of very good information for anyone who might find themselves in ANY sort of boat in NY Harbor.
I do still have that compendium o' catch-up trip reporting in drafts, but that won't happen 'til later tonight (miles to go before I finish work...hooky-playing hath its costs, sigh...) & I just figured I'd toss this out.
Reminds me of course of how painfully long it's been since I updated my blogroll...
Monday, March 24, 2008
But in the meantime, want to see a boat with a really unusual means of generating power? Check it out on Pandabonium!
PS - the skipper has packed a lot into his 69 years & sound like he's not anywhere near done yet. Very very cool.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Interestingly enough, he's also talking about branching off & starting into some BCU training, and also likes the Greenland mentoring approach (ooh, hey, did I ever mention that I'm going to be one of the mentor team that Cheri & Turner have helping out at the Hudson River Greenland Festival? Looking forward to that!) -
Alex left a comment that made me realize I'd been overlooking the fact that having 2 major organizations actually creates some healthy competition -
Reading Ron's plans reminded me of something that I hadn't overlooked, I knew this, just didn't mention it -
I'm completely convinced that taking classes from different people, teaching with different styles, creates a certain synergy - ideas start cross-pollinating, the boundaries stop being so important & you just end up soaking up stuff in a way that feels amazing.
The most vivid recollection I have of that sort of thing really getting going was at Sweetwater a couple of years back when I went to their symposium & was taking Greenland classes AND working with Nigel F. & Kristin - the switching back & forth between boats & blades in the midst of the same symposium just jazzes things up in the most wonderful way!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Gardeners looking at a crocus!
Paerdegat Parakeets, doing a little spring cleaning (not that these guys ever STOP working on their nest, but they seemed to be really concentrating - must be getting ready for nestlings)
Brants. These dark little geese and the grunting honks with which they converse are such a signature of winter on the water in NYC - see them in Tugster's UFO Taxonomy, and earlier in the year (in motion, even) on BillyBlog. This time of year, I see them and I think about how they'll be leaving us for their northern summering grounds before too long, and then we'll start seeing our own summer birds, the black skimmers, the ospreys...
Frogma's Garden, looking all scruffy & untended after a long winter... Same bed after a little tlc & tidying - no, Claire, never got my horse manure but there's some good NYC Parks compost in there now!
And finally, a tiny tiny snake, hardly awake yet - Adele the Gardening Chair found it curled up at the base of one of her tiny tree saplings while she was tending to them -
Just the warmth of her hands woke the snake up - she moved it to a safer spot where he or she would be out of the way of our activities & I expect it went back to sleep. Not quite time to come out of hibernation yet - but we're getting very, very close!
How much does the Internet rock, anyways?
Pretty much left the same thing on Shane & Julie's blog. Couldn't resist just slapping it up here, too.
PS...OK, not entirely related, but old high school classmate BillyBlogger happened to post a set of pictures today including one I took one evening when we were hanging out with the mayor of Honolulu and a whole lot of really nice folks from our old school. That was fun but posting about it seemed awfully name-droppish - but since he did it first!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
5 years in Iraq today.
I don't know the answer, I'm not one of the people who know if it would be better if we leave or if we stay.
But a moment for thought, & sadness for the costs to all the innocent people involved.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
why not inflict my late-night musing on the ACA/BCU thing & my approach to classes on the blog?
Actually the kayakers might find it interesting - and part of why I'm posting is because I'd be really curious about the input of people who've taken an ACA certification course sometime within the last couple of years (paging Ron, are you out there, Ron?). I think my last one was in 2000 & it was GREAT, Ray Killen ran a fantastic ICE & I had more fun, but dang that was a long long time ago and all the rumours I hear are of major changes.
So here we go. BTW, for those who find this sort of stuff unreadable - check out the BEAUTIFUL new pool some of us from Sebago got to go check out last weekend!
Anybody still here? Here we go...
Oh gosh, question guaranteed to generate a whole lotta blah blah - hope at least a LITTLE of it is useful.
OK...first off, my ACA certification was years ago - I think I got my first training in 1999, then got certified after getting another year of teaching professionally under my belt. I got the ACA Open Water Coastal Kayaking Instructor certification, then let it lapse when I dropped out of MKC in early 2002 and was no longer teaching professionally. That was long enough ago that a) I don't remember it very precisely and b) even if I did, I think they've reworked the curriculum quite a bit, so what I remember isn't necessarily much like what they do now. They've even changed the approved modelling for some of the strokes, I've run into situations where I was teaching old-school ACA & somebody else was teaching new. Now the good thing about the new form is that under the old form, it was sort of an all or nothing thing - from what I've heard, with the new form, there are a couple more levels.
ACA vs BCU - well, I've mostly done BCU training over the last few years because I like Atlantic Kayak Tours, plus now I'm in a club that made the decision to go BCU before I joined, so I'm going after my 2star coach certification because that'll be more useful to me in my current situation, where we have a set of people who the coaches will work with for long periods. In some ways I also felt like the ACA approach - which seemed less continuous, more modular, like here, you take this 2-day class, you learn this skill set - was better for a company like MKC, where we were teaching a steady stream of new people, some of whom would come back but who frequently just wanted a quick intro before heading off to do one of those no-experience-required tours or would come out, have fun with it for a while, then move on to the next novelty. But that's one of the things that I think the ACA has changed A LOT since when I was certified - seems like it used to be more about having the skill set to give a person a solid grounding in a fairly short time (usually a weekend) - now, I think they're taking an approach closer to the BCU, with more of an emphasis on continuous training.
Long story short though - which flag an instructor has chosen to teach under really doesn't make that much difference - a good instructor is going to teach a good class, a bad instructor's going to give you a frustrating experience. Both organizations' teaching schemes are being constantly reviewed & developed by people who really care about the sport & they both teach a good solid set of skills - really no wrong or right about it, boats is boats & they don't care if your name is
Nigel or not!
So, uh, let's see...specific pieces of advice from a person with a whole patch collection on the bookshelf -
Well, the big one is, have fun, and when you're in charge of a section, try to make sure your "students" are having fun too. Keep your group together, stay focused & engaged, the IT is always watching, even if it's not "your turn" (what you do when you're not on stage says things just as much as what you're doing when the spotlight's on you, no pressure mwahahahaaaa!)
Approach the class with an open mind. Like I said, there's conflicting versions of things being taught out there. Your instructor trainer may teach something differently than the way you were taught - be flexible, give their way a try, it's all just a little more for your own bag of tricks. Three years down the road, it will change again - it's a young & evolving sport, it's all part of the fun.
Personally, I tend to not stress out that much anymore about whether I'm going to pass or not when I take a training class. My 2-star coach assessment may be a different matter as our club really needs a couple more of us certified - but when
I'm doing something purely for kicks, like when I went for my BCU 4 star, I just go into it with the idea that I AM going to walk out of that weekend with some good stuff, if there's a patch, too, well, awesome, but the weekend's about learning new stuff & solidifying old & as long as I walk out feeling like a better, stronger, more confident paddler (or instructor) - well, then it wasn't a waste. Looking at it that way, I'm more relaxed, I have more fun, and I paddle better. Making "passing" the be all & end all just puts a lot of pressure on a course that's really a ton of fun (it really is - one thing I remember about both of the ACA certification classes I did was that there was an awful lot of laughing - there were serious moments but a lot of it was like one big game).
Nice thing about the IDW, assuming that they are running it even close to how they used to (warning - that's a HUGE assumption!) - the first weekend, they will teach you to teach - it's pretty low-pressure, and you'll get comfortable with your IT & the rest of the group. At the end of the weekend, you'll have a sit-down with your IT - you won't be going into the ICE blind, you'll know what the IT thinks are your strengths & what things they feel you might need to focus on a little more (and if they don't find some of the latter, they aren't doing the job you're paying 'em to do!)
I guess the one other universal piece of info you always hear about these things, that's very true & worth remembering -
The instructors are totally rooting for you to do great.
So there you are.
Hm. Claire told me I should put about six inches of horse manure on my little garden bed. I think this would just about do it if I could just figure out how to extract it from cyberspace...
Monday, March 17, 2008
Look. Outside. Smiling. Woohoo.
Would it spoil it if I told you that grin's half nerves as it was taken just as Minh & Jerry & I were getting ready to do some extensive rolling, for spectators, in some pretty cold water & I'd been questioning my sanity all morning? It's one thing doing a few quick sweep rolls with your friends - but Sebago had signed up to do a DEMO for the 5th Annual Long Island Paddling Safety Symposium & that means you really, really, really don't want to foul things up. Add to that that I'd been a leetle cocky in a couple of emails leading up to the event (when the wisdom of doing a rolling demo in conditions that were at some points looking pretty dubious was being debated) and I was pretty much gonna feel like the biggest knucklehead in Long Island if I ended up getting hypothermic, or getting vertigo, or anything stupid like that!
Went fine, though, we had a blast, Stevie was sad he was stuck on the dock without a boat, and I'm finally done with the gallery! Look, we're outside!
Actually I have 3 other trip reports I haven't done yet - I mean actual, outside, paddling to get somewhere paddles. 2 great ones over President's Day, and another good'un just last Saturday.
Here's hoping I have time to attend to those before April!
In the meantime, hope you enjoy the pictures - oh, and yes, I think I said it on comments somewhere but assuming the month of April isn't a total meteorological freak of a month, this is the first year that I actually kept rolling outside throughout the "off-season". Oh, quit snickering, you Canadians & assorted midwesterners, I'm happy about it! Although I do have to admit that the most ice I saw all winter was skim ice Sunday morning of President's Day weekend & that had melted by the time we got home!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Well, well, well! Spring MUST be coming - 'cause it's almost time for the 2008 session of -
LEARN TO SAIL with the MIRAMAR YACHT CLUB in Sheepshead Bay!
A Sailing Course that is perfect for anyone interested in sailing - and an opportunity to go sailing.
Classroom Sessions: Friday nights
March 28, April 4, April 11 - 2008
7:30 - 9:30 pm
Course fee - $50 Adults, $75 Families
refreshments (mmmmm, cake!)
& FREE SAIL (mmmmm, sailboats!) included!
A 20% discount will be given to anyone who previously took Miramar's sailing class
For more information, head on over to the Miramar web site, or give them a call at (718) 769 - 3548, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I went last year along with a couple other club members - we all had a great time, learned a lot, and, uh, did I mention that the cake was always yummy?
The boats were nice, too!
Miramar Yacht Club
3050 Emmons Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11235
Friday, March 14, 2008
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!
Well, I'm a woman. And guess what? What I mostly see is a guy being really, really, really DUMB.
I expect that I'll expand upon that after work. Not by much, though. How much more is there to say?
post-work elaboration, such as it is...
Yes. Of course I also see a person cheating on their spouse, how could I miss that? And although fairly open-minded, I'm just old-fashioned enough to think that if Person A is married (or civilly unified, for that matter) to Person B, they shouldn't be messing around with a Person C without giving some serious attention to the person with whom they willingly entered into a legally recognized relationship first. Whether that attention results in the marriage ending, or some sort of agreement to wink at it...that's up to them. There are some strange arrangements in the world. Always have been, especially (at least it sometimes seems that way) among the high & mighty. Not my cup of tea but it happens & I kind of hesitate to judge. Relationships are complicated things & you never know what they look like from inside.
Mostly, it's the sheer stupidity of Spitzer's thinking that he could even think about doing what he did without realizing that there was a fair probability that it might come back to bite him in the backside that gets me.
OK, every human being is entitled to a certain number of airhead moments in life. Mind farts, temporary insanity, raging outbreaks of foot-in-mouth disease, the occasional decision that one looks back on in hindsight & asks ruefully, "good grief, what was I smoking that day?" - it happens! We've all been there, right?
But you'd think that when a person happens to be Eliot Spitzer, it should not be too difficult for that person to figure out that for them, of all people, patronizing an escort service is just not a good idea.
I mean, really, how dense can a politician get?*
Man. It would be very nice if the people who get themselves elected to public office actually were smart, not just good at making mouth noises giving a false impression of smartness.
The original article, btw, was about the differing views of men & women who've been focusing on the Spitzer scandal on the talk shows. You can read that here.
*Please note - Comments are open if you'd care to take a stab at answering that question, I meant it rhetorically, but that could be amusing!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Vous: "Eh, Bonnie, ou sommes-nous au jour d'hui? Est-ce que nous sommes en France?"
Moi: "Non, nous ne sommes pas en France - nous sommes en Brooklyn!"
Vous: "Brooklyn? Vraiment?"
Yes, it looks like Ditmas Park has an imminent bistro! I stumbled across it on my way home from Vox Pop (Felice & Nao just COOKED, btw), almost thought they'd slipped something "special" into my organic Chardonnay when I noticed the place.
But it's real, et il y'a beaucoup de "buzz"!
Oh, this is pretty exciting for this neighborhood because right now you can count the fancier restaurants in the vicinity on one hand, with a finger or two to spare. Add in the less-slick, but still fine in my book, places like Cinco de Mayo (good little Mexican hole-in-the-wall joint on Courtelyou) and you might make it onto the 2nd hand. You won't need to move to toes, though.
I still probably have more good food within walking distance of my home than the vast majority of people in this country (remembering that in the 'burbs people really don't lives within walking distance of just about any retail establishment, it's all cars), but by NY standards, this neighborhood's pretty sparse. I do like to cook, so the paucity of fine dining in the immediate vicinity has never been a problem for me - but it is going to be nice to have another good place nearby!
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
moar funny pictures
Actually...guess what. I'm KIDDING.
OK, so some of those who paddle sleek, shiny, nimble, rocket-like craft (and OK, and even some of us who paddle nimble, banged-up craft which are occasionally, at first careless glance, mistaken for a half-peeled banana) may look down our highly-trained, expensively-certified schnozzes at an object like this, but our friend Marcus made a very astute observation as we were discussing the widening circles of people who are choosing something like this as the perfect fishing platform -
A fisherman on a big, inelegant-looking (to the eyes of some) S.O.T. is a fisherman who's NOT in a noise-creating, gas-guzzling, smoke-belching stinkpot - and that's better for everybody, don't you agree?
More photos from the Long Island Paddlesports Safety Symposium on the way!
cross posted at the Sebago Canoe Club blog
p.s. I know, I know, that's two lolpix in a very few days' time - I promise this is not going to become a regular feature (personally I find they're funnier when viewed in moderation).
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Taken shortly before noon on the Dowling College campus. Breezy day, but we did our rolling demo. This means that the off-season of 07-08 has great potential (barring torrential downpours every other day in April that would force me to stay rightside-up) to become the first off-season during which I have rolled during every single month.
I mean outside, and in the Northeast, of course.
The wind had us all feeling hesitant earlier in the day. A gale warning was in effect 'til noon, coincidentally the hour at which the symposium opened, with the first on-water demo beginning an hour or so later. The first one got postponed, but by the start time of the 2nd one things had settled down enough to make it work. It was chilly, but once we got going & having fun I think the spectators were probably colder than we were!
More pictures from the symposium later. Thanks Elizabeth at SKSA for a fun day. LOVED the new location!
Now thinkng about that wind in the afternoon - I bet the Puffins & pals were having a heady shreddy Sunday!
Such cheery birds, puffins. I sometimes wonder if there's anything (aside from being caught in long-handled nets for a Faroe Islander's supper, which just has to be a bummer) that can make them sad...
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Easy one first, I think:
I got tagged with the delightfully simple 123 Book Meme - an oldie but goodie - by Bill, an old friend from high school in Hawaii (we'd lost touch for years but in an odd but fun twist, we've reconnected through blogging), aka "Billy" to those who knew him in high school, actually has a couple of blogs you might enjoy - his original blog, BillyBlog, which features his observations on his family's life in NYC. He's got a great eye for odd little details, things I suspect I'd probably breeze right past & never notice - recently he noticed a certain very tiny car that's just beginning to be seen here in NYC, the "Fortwo" - that got him a link in the NY Times City Room blog, very cool. His second blog project started with a Tuesday series he was doing on Billyblog. Some readers here may be familiar with Joe Rouse's Horse's Mouth Fish on Fridays series (oops, no fish there...here's a nice fishy...oh, and while I'm on the subject Joe seemed to be trying to tell the 'yakkers something about canoes, dunno, can anybody make out the message, I keep dozing off? But I digress, badly) - well, Bill started a Tuesday series on Tattoos (plenty of those in NYC). Eventually the ink and the stories behind proved to be interesting & varied enough that the series spun off into a whole new blog, ""Tattoosday". Fascinating stuff.
Well, that was a long leadup for a quick meme - think I may postpone 4 More Roars for another day, sorry Leon but I only had so much time budgeted for procrastination this afternoon - and anyways, you tagged your son so this is your meme, too!
Enough blahblah! Meme On!
The Open Book Meme:
These were the instructions:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open it at page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence/ phrase.
4. Blog the next four sentences/ phrases together with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig your shelves for that very special or intellectual book.
6. Pass it forward to six friends
OK - I was actually at work when I first saw that I'd been tagged, and it wasn't a day where I had time for a lunch hour post as I sometimes do. But I figured it would be fair to grab the book that was closest to me at the time I first discovered I was tagged, and use that whenever I actually got around to posting about it.
Moments earlier, on the way back down from the cafeteria, I'd grabbed a couple of books out of the giveaway bin. TQ's got a couple of very cool young second cousins - the older of the 2 is a boy who's beginning to be interested in some longer books, and these looked perfect - one was a collection of adventure stories for boys, the other was a rollicking sea story, with pirates and everything, Michael Molloy's Peter Raven Under Fire. The pirate one won by pure happenstance (honest - they were one atop the other on my desk, but not lined up & by pure coincidence it just HAPPENED to be the sea story one that was an inch closer, I swear I didn't nudge them with my elbow, honest!). Actually hadn't read it yet, have done so now (had to preview, y'know). Great stuff. And here for your meme-ing enjoyment is Page 123, 1st four sentences at the 5th phrase:
Benchley raised his telescope before he replied. "That we lay off and draw their fire by taking a broadside from all their guns. Then turn toward her stern, rake her decks, and come alongside to board her before the Frogs have time to reload".
Beaumont smiled his agreement.
Yaaarr enough for ye? That Mr. Molloy knows how to buckle a swash!
And now for my own 6 tags (based entirely on whim, except for Kayakgirl who I thought of immediately because she is always reading some really cool stuff):
Peter at Sea Fever (apropos of that, I just decided that "gollywobbler" is going to be my answer next time somebody asks me "what's the good word" - "gollywobbler" is a very good word, isn't it?)
Xris the Flatbush Gardener
Claire of Claire's Garden!
and last but not least...hey, I'm gonna go see who the last person besides me who commented here was...
Thanks for playing!
Friday, March 07, 2008
Generally breaks down into the freedom-of-choicers vs. the safety-firsters.
Me, I tend to stay out of those.
Why? Well...mostly, because by my own admission...
moar funny pictures
yep, that's me in the back of the tin can...
(btw, if Canoe-Buildin' Uncle sees this he'll have my hide for their next skin-on-frame restoration. He likes to say about that boat, usually as he's repairing yet another popped rivet, "I paid twenty five bucks for that boat twenty five years ago. I think I got ripped off." - but really, I think he kinda likes it!)
In a bit of that blogospheric synchronicity thing that sometimes happens, I had JUST scrounged up this picture from the back galleries at Buzznet, braced for the criticism, and oddly enough not gotten any (think the totally
And I left a comment over there referring to the picture in "lolcat" terms.
Of course then I immediately felt guilty about being flippant & proceeded to leave the following very long comment - and then I decided to just turn it into a post!
This picture was taken on a hot summer day on the Manistee River in Michigan. This is a very quiet, small, shallow river. It moves along, but it doesn't get any rougher than this at any point, there's nowhere you can't get to shore, and in fact there's a section at the cabin where we stay that I really like just like to jump off the dock & swim the half-mile or so to the next takeout, walk back to the cabin & do it a couple more times. Then maybe a few more times in an innertube (another perfectly fine mode of transport for the Manistee).
Oddly enough, the one time I was in this canoe & ran into a little trouble it actually worked out well to not have a lifejacket on - I was playing passenger that time, there was a pine tree down at a bend & we got caught, broached against the branches & flipped. I got stuck under the canoe - there was no going upstream but there was enough clearance under the tree that I was able to dive, swim under it & come up on the other side (conveniently alongside the paddles & a few other odds & ends that were heading downstream). There are those flukey situations, but the cases where a PFD saves someone's life are so much more the norm that this story is not one I'd use to argue against PFD use.
This picture really shows one of the rare exceptions I'll make to my usual PFD-use preference - the areas I normally paddle, I never go out without one on. You'll never catch me out anywhere on the New York City waterways, or Long Island Sound, without it - if a motorboat hits me & knocks me unconscious (the easiest mishap to envision a kayaker getting into in my area), I want to float.
Whitewater, in fact rough water of any sort, and/or cold water, and/or a trip where I was going to be far from shore would be some of the other factors that would make me say a PFD is a must.
But yes, there are places where the water is sheltered & warm enough that I have gone without - which is why I stay out of those PFD debates.
BTW - the whole family IS sans pfd - but if there were any children, they WOULD be in PFD's. Our family paddling rules, not that they are real rules, pretty much say adults make their own decisions. The kids do not get that privilege.
It's a very serious topic & I'm doing this additional note because I don't actually want anyone to think it's something to be blown off lightly!
That's always true, but especially now as we're going into spring. We've had some fine warm days already here in March - but we've been discussing the demo we're supposed to be doing on Sunday, and we're going to be playing it very safe, because the organizer has told us that that water is in the 30's. That's officially "effin' cold", and it's considered very bad form among symposium organizers to have your demo people end up being taken away in an ambulance for some careful emergency-room rewarming...we'll see how much we can do.
I have to go back & see if I made a note of how cold the water in Norwalk was for the cold water workshop - somehow thinking low 40's (ok, I checked - it was 39). That was nippy.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
I was absolutely tickled to get a message from co-worker & friend Felice saying that her band, Faith, is going to be performing this Saturday at my favorite neighborhood leftist/socialist/communist (yet humanely & intelligently capitalist) coffee shop/indy bookstore/performance space Vox Pop!
She works with me at the Really Big Children's Publishing Company - but the music is what she DOES. Know what I mean?
Faith will be rocking Vox Pop acoustically (seriously, the joint wouldn't have enough room for their sound if they plugged in & I mean that in a very very good way) on Saturday at 9 P.M.
Excerpt from Felice's email with further details -
Also on the bill are Courtney Lee Adams Jr and my dear dear friend and comrade deerfrance with her group Extra Virgin Mary. Here's the info:
Saturday March 8th
Courtney Lee Adams Jr. - 8 pm
Faith (acoustic) - 9 pm
Extra Virgin Mary - 10 pm
1022 Cortelyou Road
F train to Ditmas
Q train to Cortelyou
Click here for more on Faith
Click here for more on Courtney Lee
Click here for more on Extra Virgin Mary
A couple of other fun things to do this weekend (and I'm hoping I can work out a way to do all 3) -
Xris, the Flatbush Gardener, has full details on Green It! Grow It! Eat It! at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Saturday during the day. With my penchant for growing at least some of my own food, discovered last year thanks to people at Sebago (y'all know who you are!), this sounds interesting.
On Sunday, as I mentioned the other day, me and a few other Sebago folks will be participating in the Long Island Paddlesport Symposium. Day's events including a chilly chilly rolling demo - what were we thinking???!!! - and lots lots more. Personally I'm psyched 'cause I may finally get to see my friend Marcus's Ireland slideshow (unless we're scheduled at the same time, which would be just my luck).
Finally, also on Sunday (once again I can't make it, I do want to one of these days), the monthly Brooklyn Blogade gathering of the bloggers o' Brooklyn is being held in Kensington. This month's event is being hosted by Bad Girl Brooklyn. The theme, Show and Tell - readings or showings of favorite posts. I'm a little bummed I can't make it - the theme sounds like fun, and plus they're serving burek (phyllo dough filled with hot melted goat cheese...yummmmmmmmmy).
Too many fun things to do is not a bad thing, though.
Monday, March 03, 2008
Greenwich pool sessions are winding down - next week's the last one. Now some of us, in a collective moment of temporary insanity, have volunteered to help out with the rolling demo at the Long Island Paddlesports Symposium. What's so insane about that? Well, nothing much except that this year's venue doesn't have a pool. Please please please please please no cold snaps this week...
Anyways - Last week's session was incredibly crowded - this week's was the polar opposite! Just a few quick shots from today's -
HELLOOOO!ello! ello! ello!
Where is everybody!uddy! uddy! uddy!
Pete averaged it out - said the average number of people in the pool at any given time was 5. Made for a pretty intensive session, both because there were fewer people to schmooze with and/or apologize to when you ran them over and because it's just easier to practice with more room. A lot of the regulars were missed but this did make for perfect conditions to spread out & work hard.
John had a fun new toy...introducing Helmet-Cam! Equally usable as Bow-Cam and In-Hand-Cam. We may see some footage from that one of these days. I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am never going to be the US's answer to Justine C - there was something about having a camera parked on my bow pointed at me & recording that kind of spooked me - I was blowing some pretty simple rolls! Yes, I'm a touch camera-shy.
He finally had pity & took the camera away but my gosh has he got some blackmail material.
Redeemed myself through the rest of the session - storm rolls were working mostly, hand rolls both sides, a good dizzying series of "conveyer belt rolls" and lots of swimming to paddles & other breath-holding silliness.
And oh, yes, I did roll Jean T's Feathercraft. As some may recall, last week I'd tried to roll this & failed completely. I mean I couldn't get the thing to give so much as a twitch in the right directions - the sponsons (inflatable tubes that run the length of Feathercraft gunwales & provide stability & tension for the skin) Just Said No. This week, Jean let me give it another shot, this time with sponsons deflated. Much Much Better!
Finished off the session with a little pure horsing around. Next lap I was up on my knees doing a Rolls-Royce hood ornament impression. Wasn't going to try standing up - I am no airy sylph & I was concerned about bending the aluminum rods that form the frame, but for those for whom the simple business of standing up in their own boat has lost all novelty & is becoming humdrum - perhaps trying that (with a tolerant friend with a hardshell) would provide some new amusement!
Been a fun season in Greenwich. A warm (if soggy) thank-you to theAppalachian Mountain Club's CT Flatwater Committee (especially Jean T!) for hosting these!
Saturday, March 01, 2008
The meeting was held in the council chamber in the Yonkers City Hall, which is a rather beautiful building in a spectacular location high on the hill beside the Hudson.
Here's one of my friends from the Yonkers Paddling & Rowing Club speaking on behalf of the club. Others did as well, and the best news of the evening came from just talking to some of them beforehand - it does sound as though the city of Yonkers does intend to let them stay where they are. There are still doubters as well, and these things are always subject to strange vagaries of process - but mostly, the mood is optimistic. Plus they are really happy about their new storage and boatbuilding space at the Kennedy Marina. Maybe for once the two steps forward won't be followed by the normal one step back.
It was interesting attending a public comment meeting in a smaller city. NYC public meetings tend to be a little mindblowing in the sheer numbers of people & floods of rhetoric. There's never enough time for everyone to say their piece, and you walk out with this odd unsatisfying feeling of not knowing whether all of that made a bit of difference, or whether all the decisions have already been made behind the scenes & the show in the giant auditorium was just for show.
In Yonkers, the mayor and one of the city council were there, and listened to around somewhere around 30 5-minute talks - everyone who signed up had their chance to speak.
I was quite surprised by the first speaker, who basically spent her five minutes ranting about the evil that is Scenic Hudson. Very surprising to hear this organization, which I've always heard good things about, be the target of such rancor. At first she couldn't even bring herself to say their name - Scenic Hudson as the Voldemort of environmental campaigns?
So that was a little surprising. The next speaker was also pro-towers, and at that point I started keeping a loose tally of the sides the speakers were taking.
In one way, they were all on the SAME side - not one single person was in favor of leaving the area the way it is. Every single person was in favor of SOME development. Nobody wants it to stay brownfields.
What was clear was the split between people who thought tall towers were the best use, and people who wanted to see lower-rise buildings & parks, making the most of that magnificent scenery that I think is truly one of Yonkers' finest resources.
A couple of the speakers, in fact, drew our attention to the fact that the people who built Yonkers' grand City Hall clearly recognized that as well - the mute but eloquent proof offered was the paintings with which the chamber is decorated, many of which feature the Hudson and the Palisades either as backdrops to historical or allegorical scenes -
or as a subject unto itself (sorry not so great, the paintings themselves were a bit dark, but in a city that's scraping for money for schools, restoring the paintings in the city hall probably comes low on the priority list)
Here's my own less artistic rendition ;D - actually a cleaned-up version of a doodle that turned up next to my notes. As I was seeing it, and as some of the speakers were too, the city of Yonkers is built on a slope beside the Hudson. The effect is like the seating in an auditorium, with the river being the focus of the view. You could call this a million-dollar view & not be exaggerating - the reason the New York-New Jersey Palisades Interstate Park exists today is because the Rockefeller family decided that such magnificence was worth preserving (basic in-nutshell version).
Now let's say you're that town with the million-dollar view. All very nice, but scenery won't buy you a Starbuck's. How to cash in on the view? Well, the developers are saying "So you wanna get some liquid assets out of that liquid asset? Easy! We just put up a big ol' stack of box seats right here in the front row, it'll be great!"
Well...yes. But what about the people who are now stuck with seats behind the stacked-up box seats? Let's see 'em try that at Giants Stadium & see what the rest of the fans do...
Anyways. That's the conundrum with which Yonkers finds itself faced - how to get the best value out of the currently wasted & dingy waterfront. A fair number of the residents seem convinced that the tall towers are the way to go.
But many of the speakers mentioned towns who've turned their waterfronts into a real draw & feature, in a gentler way. A development called Echo Bay, in New Rochelle, was mentioned - 5 story buildings, planned with community involvement every step of the way; Charleston, SC; Provincetown; Key West; Sacramento - there was a good long list of examples that people felt that could be used as models for developments that would draw more people to Yonkers without completely disregarding the people who've been there all along.
A couple more speaker photos - here is Ivy Reese, of "They-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named" (Scenic Hudson! Scenic Hudson! Scenic Hudson!)
And this guy was one of my favorites. I didn't even catch his name but he was a great reminder to me about that not-judging-book-by-cover thing - he goes walking up in his suit & tie. And me, I see that suit & I'm already jotting him down in my pro-tall-towers column. And then he started to speak of the beauty of the river and the cliffs, and the value of those - and his last couple of minutes were spent quoting Chief Sealth.
The final tally (not necessarily 100% accurate, I forgot to tally a couple)?
8 in favor of tall towers.
17 opposed to tall towers.
3 in favor of development & money for schools but not specifically for or against tall towers.