Saturday, August 30, 2008
TQ has been kind enough to loan me a camera while mine's off in Colorado & I was SO glad I had it when I spotted this lovely praying mantis in my garden.
I'd actually spent an awful lot of today doing some of the moping I haven't really had time to do lately. Literally. I was only half joking when I wrote that post the other day about not having enough time. There've been a few things I've been a bit blue over over the summer - my folks leaving Hawaii, the unexpected loss of a friend (far too young for a heart attack, but had one anyways), and then just the work situation - I've been pretty good with that 10 miles a week non-goal I set myself earlier in the year, but it's all been on weekends, weekdays have been pretty much eaten up & that's meant no post-work paddles & this nagging sense that I'm neglecting all the friends who I don't actually paddle with. Been mostly staying a jump ahead of the blues just 'cause I've been so busy, but somehow this morning I just kinda got up feeling down & spent a whole lot of the day moping.
5:00 or so I decided that I really needed to do something, so with a couple hours of daylight left, I decided to go do a little gardening. That's when I spotted the praying mantis. Always good to spot one of these.
The garden's still doing well -
The sunflowers were a volunteer, as was the one cosmos (the pink flowers in front) that's in such full flower right now.
The cucumbers never looked back after the summary execution of the bugs that did turn out to be the culprits in the flowers wilting almost as soon as they bloomed.
The heirloom tomatoes I got from the Paddling Chef are, I think, just now beginning to produce some fruit - but the volunteers did great. Last year's supermarket cherry tomatoes came back in force, plus some nice yellow ones wandered in from somewhere.
I've also cleared out the last of the first batch of beets (the last few are in the fridge now) and planted a few turnips and a lot more beets, in hopes of a fall crop. The chard kept charding away all summer & is still going strong, the ageratum & marigolds grew merrily (I actually pulled out a marigold bush or two because they were crowding out the produce), the basil is going to give me a few more pesto fixes before the end, and the peppers, which I'd written off as a lost cause when the seedlings I planted simply failed to grow at first, just sulked down in the middle of the tangle of wildflowers (I thought "low grow" meant, like, a foot - it was more like 2)- but then somewhere in late July they snapped out of their sulk & started growing & now it looks like I might get a pepper or two before the season's done.
Tonight's gardening goal, aside from getting a few pictures (I'd regretted not doing that before shipping the camera off) was actually to stake & tie the tomatoes - as you can sort of see in that one picture, they're very dense & they've pretty much pulled down my original tying-up & staking job, which was pretty haphazard to begin with...well, that didn't happen because a couple of friends were there, and somehow I got tempted away from the gardening by wine & conversation, and we all ended up going out to dinner, which, considering the amount of the day I spent moping, was an even nicer way to spend the remainder.
Tomorrow, I go for a long paddle. Destination unimportant, just want to be moving my boat for a nice long distance. Been doing so much lately, just having the time to indulge myself in a proper self-pity party felt weirdly luxurious - but enough is enough. Long Island Leg II is coming up incredibly fast - gotta get some miles in!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
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Monday, August 25, 2008
Take 2 Sailors -
Sailor A (let's call her, oh, Holly the Sailing Co-Chair) and Sailor B (let's call her, oh, Bonnie)...
Put Sailor A in a Laser with a radial sail.
Put Sailor B in a Sunfish.
Send them out to a little island a coupla miles out in the bay. Let's not even talk about Sailor B's getting under the bridge (it's not pretty but the wind eventually relents & gives her a well-timed puff during which she does manage the four tacks in two seconds required if she's not going to do the paddle-with-one-hand-steer-with-the-other trick which Sailor A attempts to explain while zipping around nearby).
It's not a race or anything, but Sailor A (Sailing Co-Chair w/Laser radial) smokes Sailor B (novice in Sunfish).
They eat lunch & switch boats for the return.
Sailor B thinks that perhaps this time she has a chance.
Sailor A smokes her again. Just not quite as soundly.
Sailor B has lots to learn. No surprises there, though!
It was a beautiful day out there, and as we came out from the lee of Canarsie Pol, the wind picked up enough that Holly gave me a few hints on how to get a Laser to plane. She said the wind was right on the verge, and we think I got the boat to do it for a second or too, and all in all it was a really great day. Oh, and once we got back to the dock she also let me in on some basic pointers for getting a Laser to move well downwind in light air (specifically, she mentioned they are happier sitting a bit on edge downwind in light air). Look forward to trying next time I get a chance.
Sorry no pictures, Mr. DeMello! Wow, what is it about these mean readers rubbing in the fact that my camera is now halfway across the country so I can't take pictures of either sailing, or Broad Channel (we actually landed there on Sunday's paddling excursion & the town is even quainter close-up), or the HIGHLY photogenic-looking Swoon Flotilla (now en route to NYC with stops in Croton-on-Hudson and Nyack - performance schedule here (thanks for the heads-up, DennisG, hope your sailing was as much fun as mine).
Friday, August 22, 2008
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE UPTON NY
402 PM EDT FRI AUG 22 2008
MONTAUK POINT NEW YORK TO SANDY HOOK NEW JERSEY OUT 20 NM OFFSHORE
INCLUDING LONG ISLAND SOUND...LONG ISLAND BAYS AND NEW YORK HARBOR
NEW YORK HARBOR-
402 PM EDT FRI AUG 22 2008
S WINDS 10 TO 15 KT...DIMINISHING TO AROUND 5 KT LATE.
WAVES AROUND 2 FT THIS EVENING...THEN 1 FT OR LESS.
E WINDS AROUND 5 KT...BECOMING SE 10 TO 15 KT IN THE
AFTERNOON. WAVES 1 FT OR LESS.
And sunny. And 81 degrees.
I'm. Going. Sailing. Darnit. All. To. Heck.
Been waaaaaaaay too long.
It makes me quite sad that Sunday, June 8th was both the first and the last time I sailed this summer. Glad tomorrow looks like a perfect day for a rusty novice dinghy sailor.
OK, there's a snippet of a quote from the executive director for the New York Council on Problem Gambling. How much you wanna bet (ha ha!) he had more to say?
Sorry, I know this is a little off-topic for me but when you have a regular guy with a wife & kids who spent $30K (of his $40K take-home pay) in one year on the lottery - doesn't that sound like a guy, with a problem? Yet somehow the article presents him as just another amusingly eccentric New Yorker. Odd tone.
And speaking of addictions, I just put my formerly waterproof camera in the mail to Colorado, which turns out to be the only way to get one of the Pentax Optio WP models repaired. I can actually get to the northeast warranty repair place on my lunch break, it's just up by Union Square, and I actually took it there back when I first bent the hinge. I had high hopes of a simple, quick repair - but it turns out that there's some special equipment for testing the seal in the waterproof ones & without that, they've got no way of verifying that they've closed it up right, so they just won't touch 'em. I've been warned that I shouldn't get my hopes up as these newfangled technological toys are generally not designed with repair in mind 'cause by the time you break it, there'll be a newer cooler one you're supposed to want to buy - but I'm hoping that something as straightfoward as a battery compartment door with a bent hinge can be replaced for something considerably less than the price of a new one.
Which, considering the level of enjoyment I get out of this particular toy (thanks again, mom & dad!) isn't all that much when it comes right down to it, but it WOULD cover the cost of, oh, say, a couple of dinners at the Space Needle!
(did I mention we're going to Seattle? Yippee yippee yippee!)
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Too bad I don't have time!
(ah, navel-gazing season is January 2 through the in-like-a-lion part of March, anyways, right?)
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Just one of the interesting sights of a long weekend on Long Island's North Fork. If you ever see her or one like her, don't worry, she may look like a cross between a scorpion and a wasp, but she's harmless (unless you're a grub)!
Other highlights - the Bug Lighthouse (sorry, no pix!), a Shelter Island circumnavigation, breakfast at that notorious Harley hangout, Bruce's Cheese Emporium just enough time playing in the standing waves at Orient Point to make me reallyreallyreally want to go back for a longer session.
Oh, and great company.
And farm stands. I have to congratulate the farm stand operators of the North Fork on their perfection of reverse-ATM force field technology - it is almost like magic, the way that force field makes the money fly from urban pockets. And so clever, the way the force field generators are hidden beneath heaps of luscious produce. All looks so innocent...
Photo trip report in process - this is but a teaser!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
"Hmmm...I wonder how putting people in little spinny boats and getting them to do the Hokey Pokey would work as an edging/turning strokes/balance exercise...you pick your left edge up, you drop your left edge down, you pick your left edge up and you shake it all about..."
Do kids even still do the Hokey-Pokey?
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
If I didn't need to pack for a trip to Shelter Island, I'd be there.
This is tied in with this weekend's big event, the 2nd Annual SEAPaddleNYC, a 28 mile paddle around Manhattan to benefit the Surfers' Environmental Alliance and autism research.
Want to try out some of this paddling & rowing stuff in the craft more typical for the area? Free paddling and rowing continues at the Brooklyn Bridge Park on the following dates:
Saturday, Aug 16, 2008
11:30 AM - 3:30 PM
Sunday, Aug 24, 2008
2:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Saturday, Sep 6, 2008
1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Sunday, Sep 14, 2008
11:30 AM - 3:30 PM
These join the regular free or very low cost programs run by the Red Hook Boaters, Downtown Boathouse, Long Island City Boathouse, the Village Community Boathouse, the Gowanus Dredgers, the Hoboken Cove boathouse, and of course my own Sebago Canoe Club.
Curious about paddling or rowing in the New York City area, but not quite ready to sign up for a lesson with one of the local professional outfitters? Any of these will give you at least a taste of what it's like. Programs offered run the gamut from 20-30 minute sessions in protected coves (best for total first timers who just want to see what it's like) to 2-3 hour paddles, sometimes with guest speakers, in decked sea kayaks (Sebago's offering) to building & rowing Whitehall dories (crew boats, a fantastic intro to the local waterways for kids who are a little too old for the embayment programs to be fun but a little young to keep up with adults in kayaks - that's at the Village Community Boathouse). See the websites for full details.
Anybody notice anyone I missed, just leave a comment with the website & i'll try to add that in, OK!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
my final assessment to wrap up my L-1 coach training.
I passed, I'm now an L-1 coach in the new UKCC scheme as adopted by the BCU (translation TK).
I just went & changed my vote on Frogma Poll #2 from "The jury's still out" to "The real thing".
More thoughts later, if I have a chance, but to put it in a nutshell - I had fun learning from others, people had fun learning from me, and really, isn't that what really counts in a paddling program?
Thursday, August 07, 2008
A thunderstorm -
turns to a lesson in flexibility. A teachable moment well taught. Out come the strangest boats, and a variety of accesories, and as the lightning flashed & thunder crashed & rain poured down, us students - sea kayakers all - looked them over, sat in them, how does this work, what does that do...kayaks are not the only boats.
The storm passes, and the instructors let us in on a good joke...all those carefully kitted-out sea kayaks, every bit & bob just so? We're not using those today! Ha ha!
What's that thing they say about "assume"? Rhetorical question, I know the answer...
The day was spent in these unfamiliar boats. A good lesson in how it feels to be a raw beginner all over again. People who learned recently actually have an advantage over the veterans...they know what it is to learn. Ten years in the same boat & maybe just maybe you're starting to forget. BTW, I failed the morning's main task - that was to paddle a boat that was completely unlike any you'd paddled before. The three in the picture above (a slalom canoe, a freestyle competition canoe, and a slalom kayak)? Those 3 happen to be the ones out of a dozen that I haven't got at least a passing acquaintance with. Somehow I didn't end up in one. I don't know why I didn't say something when I found out that the whole point was to get in a boat that was unlike anything I'd been in before. I wonder if I should rectify that on Saturday.
My solo canoe skills aren't great though - I can manage, but that's about it, so the cute little double-ended recreational canoe I did end up playing with was fun & a challenge. So maybe that was close enough.
The rest of the day flew by. Lots more lessons disguised as horseplay & fun. Lots of laughter. No more pictures - I've dewaterproofed my camera, plus classes like these, taking pictures would just distract me.
Although a picture of Bill sitting on the dock with the whiteboard would have been great. "Bringing the classroom outside", they call it. Hmmm, wonder if there's a waterproof overhead projector yet...
End of a perfect day. Isn't the reflection of the nuclear power plant on the water just the prettiest thing?
I should talk...there in my homework is my completed (at least I filled up the page) risk assessment for Jamaica Bay. Makes the place sound like the last place you'd ever want to kayak. Pollution, motorboats, glass & metal & pilings & other wreckage on the beach & in the water, fish-hooks lashing about, jellyfish, poison ivy...I finished the list, looked at it & thought "It sounds AWFUL!"
I wanted to write at the bottom "But we have ospreys!"
Off to Session 2 this weekend. I'm studying, I've done my homework, I've written my lesson plan with an eye to correcting the criticisms my first one got.
However it comes out - as usual, it's been a ton of fun.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
(with a wink & warm regards to Wenley & Pia!)
A man is dining in a fancy restaurant and there is a gorgeous redhead sitting at the next table. He has been checking her out since he sat down, but lacks the nerve to talk with her.
Suddenly she sneezes, and her glass eye comes flying out of its socket toward the man.
He reflexively reaches out, grabs it out of the air, and hands it back.
'Oh my, I am so sorry,' the woman says as she pops her eye back in place.!
'Let me buy your dinner to make it up to you,' she says.
They enjoy a wonderful dinner together, and afterwards they go to the theater followed by drinks. They talk, they laugh, she shares her deepest dreams and he shares his. She listens.
After paying for everything, she asks him if he would like to come to her place for a nightcap and stay for breakfast.
They had a wonderful, wonderful time.
The next morning, sh e cooks a gourmet meal with all the trimmings. The guy is amazed. Everything had been SO incredible!
'You know,' he said, 'you are the perfect woman. Are you this nice to
every guy you meet?'
'No,' she replies. .
Wait for it. .
The suspense is killing you, isn't it?
'You just happened to catch my eye.'
Ba ha ha ha haaaaaaaa! Hey, I wasn't going to post this week - homework, housework, work work & a hot date with my honey have got my time sewed up...aren't you just lucky that I've got old friends who like to make people laugh? Or at least groan! Couldn't resist passing it on.
ps - confidential to "Eyes": I kayak. I sail. But I don't post as KayakNSail. Not here, not anywhere else. Pity jumping to conclusions isn't an aerobic activity, you guys would all be over in Beijing doing our country proud right now!
Monday, August 04, 2008
Trip Report, Mid-July open paddle at Sebago Canoe Club (plus Hey, Free Paddling in the Brooklyn Bridge Park!)
Who I got was Minh (our fleet captain, knows the boats better than just about anybody, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when he volunteered, a big part of making a beginner trip go well is getting the right people in the right boats, and when you’ve got the fleet captain on your team, well, that’s suddenly not such a worry!) and Prof. M. – a very nice team & a good one to work with, I may have been the official trip leader but it felt like a cooperating team of equals.
This was a fun one, we had Don Riepe, the founder of our regional branch of the American Littoral Society & the society’s official Jamaica Bay Guardian as our guest speaker. He knows an amazing amount about the ecology of the bay.
We had calm conditions & a pretty evenly-matched group & I think everyone had a pleasant day. We took the group to the nearby salt marsh, a nice destination for a beginner group & a good spot for a talk about salt marshes, shellfish, bird life & any number of other items.
Don told us lots (here, he’s talking about oysters & clams).
Birder Prof. M identified a number of birds for us, as well. That's her behind the field glasses. I think she's looking for the marsh wren she heard singing.
Entertaining moment in the salt marsh – Prof M. & I were standing next to the little outlet channel of the marsh, looking at the clear flowing water. She said “If I were a kid, I’d have to jump in & float that”. I, of course, had been looking at the water & thinking “Gee, it’s hot, I want to jump in & float that”, so that was just the extra impetus I needed. In I went, classic feet-first moving water float down ‘til I ran aground. Felt GOOD. A number of people followed my lead!
This went on for a little while. Nice activity for a hot day!
We call this area the "Horse Beach" because it's frequented by people out of a nearby stable. I would love to do this sometime (it is open to the public), but I've heard the people there aren't very nice, and they have, in the past, tried to tell kayakers they aren't allowed to land here. But it still looks like fun.
The leader told the group "Keep their heads up, don't let them roll!" Wonder if they ever bring them out bareback when it's hot & let them have a good cool-down...
All in all, an awfully nice way to spend a hot morning, even if it did involve an alarm clock going off.
The nap in the hammock made up for that, too
Like to join one of these open paddles? No experience required, just check out the basic instructions on the Sebago Canoe Club website!
Oh, hey, and for those for whom Canarsie is a trek - how about free paddling in the Brooklyn Bridge Park? Not through Sebago, this was one of those random reroutes of a train of thought, but seems like a spectacular location to try things out (just don't go chasing waterfalls, OK ;D).
Friday, August 01, 2008
You know the City of Water Day I'd mentioned here a couple of times, the one Sebago clubmate Shari reviewed on the Sebago blog?
Well, I was actually surprised when I got back into town on Sunday & there really wasn't any chatter on the list about it.
Finally, Erik (of the Long Island City Boathouse and Nature Calendar) posted an enthusiastic thank-you to Carter at the Waterfront Alliance and Ray Fusco, a local paddlesport organizer who Carter had brought in to help with the safety & logistics coordination of the paddling segment of the event.
Now, that's not a job I would have wanted! This was huge - groups of paddlers paddling from as far north as Yonkers, and as far south as my own club, all converging on an dock that's snuggled into one corner of a 4-way intersection of busy shipping channels - the Buttermilk Channel (east side of Gov's I), the Anchorage Channel (the main channel running up the Upper Harbor), the East River (running out to Long Island Sound) and the Hudson (up to Albany). The Staten Island Ferry runs through there, and zillions of smaller ferries & sightseeing boats, and freighters and barges and tugs, oh my! The currents are strong, their confluence between Gov's I & Manhattan can get extremely bouncy...I was never crazy about crossing that area back when I was guiding, you really had to keep your eyes open, keep your group together & gogogogo!!!!
When I first heard about the City of Water idea...I have to say that I thought of that, and a Governor's Island flotilla that happened a few years ago where a cold front (forecasted) blasted through in the middle of the event & all sorts of heck broke loose, and I walked into that spring planning meeting quite skeptical, mind full of ways this could end up being a total mess... But I listened to Ray & Carter's safety plans & y'know, they'd thought of pretty the same set of possible problems, and assuming participants accepted them, the proposed safety measures really seemed to cover most of the easily foreseeable ways in which things could go wrong. I walked out a lot less skeptical than I walked in.
That, btw, was why I felt like such a jerk when I asked Ray & Carter to please ignore all their careful preparations & let me sneak in even though I missed the deadline. If they hadn't shown such advance care, I wouldn't have wanted anything to do with it!
Anyways...long story short (this is supposed to be a quick lunchtime post & I sort of digressed) - Erik posted a thank-you - and suddenly everybody...
Np, it wasn't EVERYBODY - but a few people who've been involved in the local kayak organizations for years & years - some WAY longer than me - started venting their frustration with the security measures. Preregistration, waivers, and especially the security boats that oversaw the crossings.
Not surprising. Kayakers have an image problem in NY Harbor. It's probably about 10% deserved. Why do I say that? Because I'd bet that by now, about 90% of the regular local kayaking is being done by people who have at least a few clues, or by newbies under the direct supervision of people who have more than a few clues.
It's not fair that the rest of us get tarred with the same brush, but unfortunately, it's the nitwit 10%, bobbing cheerfully down the middle of the channel or something, that get noticed - the airwaves around their head may be turning blue with anti-kayak imprecations, they'd never hear though. "VHF? Heck, traded mine in for a sweet DVD player right when they first came out. Oooh, listen to the tugboat toot, hi tugboat!"
So the perception of kayaks as being toys & kayakers as being incompetent GRATES. No doubt about that. I think that what happened with this event was that a number of people felt that the various requirement were an over-nanny-fication of the event. Took it a bit personally - especially the Coast Guard requested safety boats, which people felt were a totally unnecessary bit of overkill.
I don't know, it's tough. I don't feel like I need a safety boat for an average tour that I might be guiding where there's a 1-to-4 guide ratio (Sebago's standard). I REALLY don't need a safety boat with people I paddle with for recreation. But there have been situations I've been in where I was very very happy to have a motorboat get involved (one rescue in a non-organized group paddle where conditions turned bad, and a couple of swim escort situations). I actually thought that for an event this big, having a few safety boats was a good idea. Things can get weird, people can get excited about an event like this & maybe the excitement overrides caution a bit, people override their second thoughts, or don't have 'em in the first place...not quite mob psychology, but a similar letting-go of your senses of personal responsibility in the face of the anticipated fun & excitement of being part of this really big festive celebration.
When you maybe have that, and then suddenly reality say "Ahem...", and maybe people are suddenly in over their heads - well, that's when I'd think that you might just look at that safety boat like the cavalry riding to the rescue.
But I kept that more or less to myself, until I happened, in the middle of the "we don't need safety boats", to wander over to Tugster & reading what appeared to be a very different take on the day.
It wasn't very specific but it's pretty clear that at some point, at least one of the safety boats was NOT overkill...
Seems what we had was B-Mates. Blind Men And The Elephant Syndrome. I think another thing that's easy to forget in a multi-group event of that size & complexity is that no individual group's experience is The Experience. The people who were objecting? All pretty veteran paddlers & rowers, leaders of the human-powered boating community, and all, as they were correctly pointing out, quite capable of getting their groups to Gov's I without help. And that's what they did, and they saw plenty of other paddlers arriving & maybe just figured that that was the whole story.
Well, it wasn't.
A reference to whatever happened finally did get posted. In fact it sounds like maybe there were a couple of instances where the precautions totally paid off. Again, no detail - but what I found fascinating was how quiet things suddenly got with the introduction of the concept that maybe not all the groups involved were operating with the same level of care as those who'd felt like the presence of the safety boats were not just superfluous, but somehow condescending.
Too bad, in a way. Be nice if everyone was as responsible as 90% of the local paddlers try to be.
Oy. So much for quick post...
That's why I started blogging, I guess.