Friday, January 27, 2012
Yippee! I'd read the news last year the South Street Seaport was going to reopen under the auspices of the Museum of the City of New York (an institution I used to enjoy when I lived on the Upper East Side back in the 90's) with happiness. I'd seen January. On January 8th, the day I took the SeaStreak out to hike at Sandy Hook, I'd left myself loads of extra time for weekend delays (the Q train's been running in parts on weekends and there was one and only one ferry that was going to get me there early enough to make it worth the price of the ride, so I wanted to be absolutely sure I'd be on that one), the delays that day weren't too bad, so while I waited I decided to run over and see if they had the opening day on the door yet. They didn't, but at least I had a little time to walk around & take some pictures of the old ships & boats there. I hadn't gotten around to posting them and the funny thing is that I'd just been thinking that I should do that this week, and wondering if the day had been announced, and then I wandered over to Jessica DuLong's Facebook page to see when her BookCourt reading was (details here) and was absolutely delighted to see that the grand reopening bash had actually just happened the night before!
Jessica was there, she loved it.
The New York Times has an interesting article about the reopening - not just a review of the new exhibits, but a good outline of the troubles of the past and the challenges the institution faces now.
I hope enough people go visit in the next 18 months that by the end of that time, the Museum of the City of New York can't imagine letting it go. Me, I can't wait.
Oh. And maybe I don't have to, at least not too long.
I've actually been completely torn about what to do on Sunday - hit the water, or take the Lumix to the Chinese New Year parade. I'm itching to paddle; between a shoulder that got a bit "tweaked" by some overenthusiastic New Year's Day rolling, bad weather, and a cold, I haven't been out since the Frostbite Regatta (pool doesn't count, really) - but if I went to the parade for a couple of hours, I could probably squeeze in a visit to the museum, too. Two birds, one stone, all that, right?
Hmm. Shoulder's mostly all better but it does still twinge a bit here & there. What do you think, should I maybe give it another week to recover?
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
" don't know why I'm having such a hard time doing it, used to do that sort of thing all the time...guess I'm out of practice. Or Mill Basin doesn't feel like my turf the way the Hudson River Park was, where I first got involved when the Trust was a Conservancy, knew the people, followed the stories, maybe even got to help write little bit of its now and then before they shut down the barge and I left for the shores of the Paerdegat. This one, I was seriously jumping in in a chapter in the middle of what turned out to be a much longer tale than I realized & aside from the initial incoherent spluttering I did the other day I'm at a bit of a loss."
I did finally cough up a report last night, but I was reading it and feeling like it just wasn't very good precisely because I didn't have any sense of the backstory or how this one development fits into the bigger picture.
Fortunately the same paddling birder friend who told me about the plan and the meeting in the first place forwarded the following message that had been sent out among the birding community. I saw it AFTER I'd posted last night, looked at the link this morning, and there it was, a summary the big picture that I knew I wasn't seeing. Wish I'd read it before I wrote my report, might have made it easier!
Thanks, Prof. M!
A Walk in the Park: City Releases Wetlands Strategy Draft.
The attachment in the link above ( "Read On" in the second link ) is a very important conservation proposal put out by our city Jan 18th ( last Thursday) . The draft is 63 pages long but necessary to understand how critical this proposal is in the fight to save places like 4 Sparrow Marsh ( 64 acres) which the latest development plan threatens the marsh ecology with a large car dealership Kristol Auto next door at the current Toys R Us site; Kristol Auto is under investigation by the NY State Dept of Environment Conservation (NYSDEC) for its current location elsewhere for brownfield contamination
If you can comment on the proposed Wetlands policy, please do even if it isn't much. The deadline is February 18th.
Thanks for Brooklyn's birds and her habitats !
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Just a quick bit of scribbling (note later: quick bit of scribbling? who was I kidding, when did I EVER do a meeting writeup that was "quick"??? oh well, at least it's done!) out my recollections of the updated plan for the Four Sparrows - I'd gone looking for the updated version of the plan, found an older version over on Sheepshead Bites & figured I'd just do one of my Microsoft Paint-jobs on it. Not very pretty but it gets the idea across. This isn't perfect, I should have done it sooner as sitting here 5 days after the meeting I'm not sure I'm remembering it right, but this is my best recollection.
The great thing is that the area I outlined, crosshatched & marked Gone in blue, covering buildings "Retail A", "Retail B" and the parking to serve them, are relics of the Ratner plan. Those are GONE now, thank goodness -- although as the invitation to the Community Board meeting pointed out, developers are likely to keep taking flyers at that unless it's eventually properly handed over to the parks department.
What's left is a couple of businesses that are already operating in the area, Toys 'R' Us (owners Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Bain Capital Partners LLC - and did that get a gasp when the manager started reading out the owners - and Vornado Realty Trust, who also owns the Kings Plaza Mall where the meeting was held) and Kristol Motors trying to rearrange things a bit. I've outlined the lot that they're working with in orange. The squarish building marked "Old" is the Toys 'R' Us. The polygonal building marked "New" is the car dealership. Where the marsh comes into play is that that new building will be taking up what is currently a large part of the Toys 'R' Us parking lot, so to replace that parking, they are proposing that a 60 foot wide "easement" be carved out of Four Sparrow (comprising roughly 5% of that land that everybody thought was a park)and handed over for a parking lot.
The developers were making all kinds of reassuring noises about how it was being set up so that nothing but a parking lot could ever be built on that strip, as though a parking lot is somehow a completely neutral thing to add in and of itself.
Ida Sanoff, president of the Brooklyn/Queens division of the Natural Resources Protective Association called them on that one, and I was glad to hear that as it seemed to me that putting a parking lot right on the edge of a marsh is pretty much going to guarantee that every time it rains, it's going to mean oil and gas and anything else that leaked from the cars that park there are going to wash into the marsh.
Dan Mundy from the Jamaica Bay EcoWatch followed up and said that by pointing out that with all of the money that's being poured into the maintenance and restoration of the marshes of Jamaica Bay, not protecting the Four Sparrow Marsh just didn't make sense. Well, he said it better than that but that's what it boils down to.
The residents seemed to have mixed emotions - on the one hand, Kristol is a genuine local businessman and they'd like to see him do well, but chairwoman Dorothy Turano expressed a lot of frustration with the way the developers had evaded requests for a preliminary meeting, and concern about how the development was going to deal with the increased traffic (there'd been hopes for a bus turnaround and that didn't seem to be part of the plan), and most of all, she was quite vehement about the residents not wanting even the smallest piece of that park used.
A couple of other comments that stick out in my mind -
An individual asked Kristol about his role in the brownfield status of the land where his current dealership stands - he said he inherited that when he took over the land & had nothing to do with it but that was something people seemed to be pretty clearly concerned about.
There was a very strange moment when Councilman Lew Fidler began talking about how it was his understanding that the strip of marshland was just going to be used a buffer, tree plantings, etc. etc. - he must have arrived late because the fact that that land was intended for parking cars had been one of the first things the developers said. The developers corrected him although he didn't really seem to acknowledge it - hopefully that did sink in. That mistaken assumption was also posted on Sheepshead Bites & I made a comment I sort of wish I could revise, I was just there looking for the map, saw that the Councilman had posted a comment saying the same thing & posted a rather snappish correction, thinking he'd just ignored the developers' correction...then realized he'd posted that the day before the meeting. Oh well, at least there's a correction with it now.
hmm, and back to "I'm not sure I'm remembering it right", I swear they said the strip was for parking but Dan Mundy's report says " 'some parking but mostly as a buffer area with trees and plants' according to EDC. " Maybe I misheard...still, definitely not just trees.
Most depressing moment of the evening was when someone proposed that approval be hinged on guarantees that the park be left alone. A gentleman who I believe was representing the Empire Development Corporation was quick to remind everyone that a community board doesn't actually have any power to DO something like that, they're only there in an advisory capacity.
Weirdest moment of the evening was actually before the meeting. I'd made a poster and while I was standing in line, the guy in front of me said "Nice pictures". I said thanks & told him I'd taken them from my kayak & that I paddle out of Sebago. He paused for a second & then said, "You know, I'd like to like your club but you want to ban all the motorboats from the Paerdegat". Coulda knocked me over with the proverbial feather - sure there are a couple of turkeys who just WON'T slow down when they come under the bridge, but the neighboring yacht clubs are just that, our neighbors, I can't imagine asking to have them turned out! Anyways, turned out that he was from Canarsie and some club member had said something to that effect at some planning meeting - somebody's personal opinion clearly got mistaken for club policy. Bizarre though.
According to my notes, the next meeting on the topic will be on February 8th at 5:30 at Brooklyn Borough Hall, and then there'll be a followup in March, and in April or May it'll go to the City Council.
Guess I won't throw away my poster yet.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Enter the Dragon!
Here's an article with a video of one of the most unusual dragon dances I've ever seen! :D
And here's a link to this year's scheduled festivities in Manhattan's Chinatown on ExploreChinatown.com. Firecrackers today, and the big parade is next Sunday, January 29th. BTW the picture above is from a Lunar New Year gallery I did back in 2006, the year I finally made it to the parade - if you click on it I think it will take you to the Buzznet gallery.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Three coins in the trackbed,
through the ripples, how they shine
(with apologies to Jules Styne, of course)
Can't quite count it as a Subway Series post 'cause those were supposed to involve me actually carving out a little time to go take pictures, but this just fits in!
Friday, January 20, 2012
Wow, it's Froggibloggiversary Number 7, still hopping along just fine! Thanks to anyone who's been following my adventures in urban kayaking, sailing, food, gardening, wildlife, doodling, photography and whatever else happens to catch my easily-distracted attention for a moment. Amazes me how much easier it's been for me to keep a journal going when keeping a journal actually involves socializing - every one I ever tried to keep on paper died of inattention within a month.
It all started in a much nastier, colder January than this one we've got going on now - Click here to read Frogma Post #1.
PS - adding a note slightly later: Comments on that Post #1 are moderated but I am putting them up! Sorry!
I was planning to come home and do a bit of a writeup here about the meeting last night, but you've been spared 'cause I have a cold, I came home from work & immediately crashed for several hours on the Evil Futon of Nap and I'm now just having a quick cup of herbal tea with honey (fresh outta Balvenie, sigh, I must have a word with the butler about how this oversight was allowed to happen) and messing about on the internet for a bit before I transfer to actual bed. Way too late to get started on a Serious Post now, plus there are limits to just how much seriousness I can take in one week!
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Click here for more about the SOPA and PIPA bills.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Click here for the Meetup.com event info:
Click here fora page with links to stories about the 3 small schooners Richard owns or has owned.
Orbit II was lost at sea in 2002. The Rosemary Ruth was the boat that he was sailing when I met him (the "rosemary ruth" label below should pull up some of my trip reports from sailing with him back then); she's an absolutely charming craft and he worked on her for a long time but eventually decided she was just not quite the right cruiser for him and ended up buying a more suitable schooner, now known as the Issuma, in France in 2008. He's been sailing pretty much ever since & is now in Alaska - just in the city for a few days.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Remember how in October, I was so happy about the Four Sparrows Marsh being spared from Ratnerization? Well, I should've known that once people had their eyes on something for development, it wouldn't go away quite that easily. Ratner's out but that was of course not the end of it. I'll be going to a meeting next Wednesday to stand up for leaving the entire marsh Forever Wild, as it should be. Here's a meeting notice that's been circulating among the birding community and has now been passed on to a few members of the paddling community by my friend Mary (aka "She Who Finds Snowy Owls Upon Demand"), who is a very active member of both communities.
Here is the meeting notice, in its entirety:
***IMPORTANT MEETING - PLEASE DISTRIBUTE! Wednesday January 18 @ 8 PM***
Community Board 18 will present the NEW PLANS for the Four Sparrow Marsh area -
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18 @ 8 PM, Kings Plaza Community Room (enter near the garage on Flatbush Ave., the community room is to your right)
Four Sparrow Marsh is located on southbound Flatbush Ave, just past Toys R Us but before Floyd Bennet Field. It bears the NYC Parks Dept's "Forever Wild" logo. The NYC Parks Dept. website says:
"Named by naturalists Ron and Jean Bourque, Four Sparrow Marsh Preserve is home to four native species which require undisturbed marshland for nesting: Sharptailed, Seaside, Swamp, and Song Sparrows. Because of its relative isolation from residential areas in Brooklyn, Four Sparrow Marsh Preserve has been allowed to remain in a fairly natural condition. This makes it ideal for many permanently nesting species, including several types of ducks, gulls, and wading and woodland birds, as well as for the common seashore mollusks and crustaceans which feed those birds. It is an important part of the Jamaica Bay estuary system. "
Note the final sentence: "It is an important part of the Jamaica Bay estuary system".
Last winter, the NYC Economic Development Corp. announced plans to turn a sizable portion of the marsh into a shopping mall. Although the site was marked by Parks Dept. signs, it turned out that the land had never been officially turned over to the Parks Dept.!!!
A number of us went to the Feb. 2011 Scoping Meeting. We've been to a lot of these meetings, but there was something really off kilter about this one. I remember turning to my colleagues & saying "something isn't right here". Several weeks later, we learned that State Senator Carl Kruger had been indicted, for among other things, being in cahoots with the developer. That was why things didn't feel right.
In the fall of 2011, the plan for the retail center was withdrawn. However, there are still plans in the works which may impact a small portion of the area that everyone thought was pakland. The new plans for development on the Toys R Us site are similar to what was previously announced (a car dealership & renovation/expansion of the existing marina). This will be built on the existing parking lot, etc. of Toys R Us. But there is an additional strip of land south of Toys R Us that is also included in the development. We need to see if this will intrude on the parkland of Four Sparrow Marsh.
(blogger's note - emphasis mine, this was the key bit I overlooked last October) We also need to insist that the remaining 60+ acres of land is OFFICIALLY turned over to the Parks Dept. Otherwise, there is a good possibility that sooner or later this site will be turned over to developers.
We lost the Vandalia Dunes to the Gateway Mall. Let's make sure that Four Sparrow Marsh does not suffer the same fate.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Live in the area & want to come check it out sometime? Dempsey's is in the East Village, at 61 2nd Avenue, bet. 3rd & 4th Streets. The music starts around 8 & usually rolls on until at least midnight - I'm actually not sure what time they end, I've never been able to stay that late!
Now...I hate to mar an otherwise perfectly "Happy Bonnie" (tm) post with a mention of something annoying, but I just can't resist adding a note on the weirdness of tune recognition software:
I was astounded to get a copyright notice on the second set - it posted but there was a friendly little notice that something in the contents "Matched third party content." Continued on to say: "Your video, Dempseys 1 09 2012 - second set , may include content that is owned or administered by these entities:
Entity: Music Publishing Rights Collecting Society Content Type: Musical Composition." They didn't do anything but apparently the "Entity" may have the right to post ads on my video. :(
I assume YouTube has some corporate version of that marvellous little TunePal app I was introduced to last night - you hear a tune you like but don't know, you turn on TunePal, TunePal "listens", identifies it (giving the degree of certainty, it's never entirely sure), and can then give you sheet music and an MP3 so you can learn it yourself. I loved it. I'm still not getting an iphone but that's neatest app I've seen yet. Apparently the YouTube version "listened" to my content and is fairly sure it recognized something that somebody holds a copyright for. I've gotten that notice before, but those were both instances where I could see where the issue would be (and both videos are still up with their sound, no actual action was ever taken), but it just threw me for a loop that I could get on a video of the Dempsey's seisiun!
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Sandy Hook, NJ 1/8/2012, a set on Flickr.
Paddling? Sailing? In the end, neither one. I finally listened to the voice of reason & the voice of reason said "You know, that shoulder is coming along very nicely, but how about we give it another week before we resume the usual abuse?"
It was the sensible thing to do, but I was less than enthusiastic about giving up what looked to be a fine day for boating - until I hit on the plan of going to Sandy Hook for some hiking instead. I've only landed there once and that just was for a fast lunch break, and I've been wanting to explore it, and this was the perfect chance to do that.
There are no ferries directly to the park this time of year, but I checked the map, found that hoofing it into the park from the Conners Highland ferry terminal looked totally doable, and decided I'd give it a shot. Sunday morning, off I went!
Friday, January 06, 2012
Check it out!
Funny thing was, after the totally paddlecentric summer that followed getting recertified as a kayak instructor, I was actually feeling a little bummed out 'cause I thought 2011 was going to be the year that I only got out for a proper sail once. That was before I decided to suck it up and try the Fall dinghy racing series again, though - I'd been so awful in 2010 that I almost didn't want to, but I ended up being really glad I got back on the horse. Or the fish, as the case was.
p.s. - As evidenced by my new profile shot, I have officially let my inclusion on a sailing blog list go to my head! :D
no, seriously, I was going to put up my self-portrait from that fantastic December sail that Holly & I took. I'd saved it as "Sailing", though, and when I went in to upload it, I ran across this one that I'd saved as "Saaaaailing!"
That picture just makes me happy to look at - that was taken in Fall '05, during one of the best vacations I've EVER taken. As I put it on the start of the Buzznet gallery where the photos are still hosted - One week, one 41-foot sailboat, six friends, numerous islands, lots of fun! What a wonderful, wonderful trip that was.
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
An explanation of why I'm coming back to a topic I really thought I was done with will be forthcoming at the end.
This is actually the 4th (and almost definitely the last) of a set of posts involving the testing of a somewhat new hybrid lifejacket, the Kokatat Sea-O2 that I bought early last summer when my late, lamented Lotus L'ocean finally gave up the ghost after over a decade of faithful service. I'd gone to Randy at New York Kayak and tried on a good half-dozen lifejackets - none of 'em fit well (my torso seems to be shorter than most lifejacket manufacturers think torsos are supposed to be), and just as I was about to settle on the best of a not-so-hot set of options, Randy thought of the Sea-02 hybrid, which strikes a perfectly nice balance of less bulk without giving up ALL flotation (which I wouldn't do because paddling the busy urban waterways I do, my all-to-easily-imaginable worse case scenario involves getting hit by a motorboat, in which case I want to float without having to do something, y'know?). I'd been meaning to test it out for ages (Kokatat included an extra C02 cartridge specifically for that purpose) and I finally got around to it in mid-December.
The first post on the topic was of course a video of that test, which was a complete failure because some knucklehead (that would be me) had completely failed to read the instruction. For anyone who missed that:
Part 2 was of course one of my worst geek-outs in ages a photo-essay on how it was supposed to work and how I'd managed to screw up the setup of the completely straightforward doohickey that inflates the jacket when it's set up properly (scroll down to December 24th if you missed it). Part 3, a quick post after the successful test of the then properly-armed lifejacket, was "Va Va Voom" - I just couldn't resist it. Mae West is right -- as I said in that post, when that jacket inflates off the cartridge, it REALLY inflates! I mean, seriously, the thing stuck out a good five or six inches past my, er, normal profile.
I'd also mentioned that the test wasn't just about inflating the vest - I'd also wanted to see how it would affect my movements as I did normal things like get back in my boat, roll, and paddle.
The verdict? I'm definitely glad I tried 'em first under calm conditions! TQ got the self-rescue on video, and as you can see, it didn't go all that well!
I'm pretty sure this is the first time in YEARS that I've re-flipped my boat during a cowgirl rescue - and I do them VERY regularly (aside from demonstrating it for classes & practicing it for fun on hot days, in the warmer months of the year, my personal answer to the age-old question of "how does a woman take a leak when she can't get to shore" involves reversing the above manuever - I get out of the boat, I do what I have to do in the water, I get back in the boat, no trouble at all)!
The emptying and righting the boat actually went great - I love my Romany but for a smallish boat, it's a pretty heavy beast, and when I go to the bow and lift to empty it, the bow goes up but I also obey the laws of physics and go under. This was true of my L'Ocean, with 15.5 pounds of flotation, and it's of course even MORE true of the new one with 7.5 pounds uninflated (yes, I also did a number of activities to test the new vest uninflated to see how it worked that way, too - it does make a difference in a number of ways, none terribly alarming but all good to know about). The cockpit ends up empty enough to paddle but there's alway enough water left in there to be annoying. With the full 22 pounds of buoyancy - woohoo! I could hold up the bow & get every drop out.
The first moment when things got interesting was right around 0:19 - having righted the boat, I went aft to do the next manuever, which is to do a nice swimmer's kick that gets your chest up on the back deck. I went right to the point where I would usually get on the boat, went to jump up, and instantly discovered that this wasn't going to work so well with the equivalent of a small beach ball strapped to my front! I didn't want to put a lot of weight on it, either - it's probably built pretty sturdy, but I am not exactly a delicate flower myself, and that would be a pretty expensive beach ball to replace if I happened to puncture it. Instead, I went further back towards the stern - the skinnier the kayak gets, the less flotation it has, the easier it is to get it underneath you, but as you get better and better leverage, more and more of the boat actually raises up out of the water, and the less hull you have in the water, the less stability you've got. I quite literally went past the tipping point and whoops, over she went and there I was back at Square One - and although you can't really see it, i actually fairly startled at having had the boat go rolling over right in my hands and end up upside down again!
The second time, I went farther back on the boat than I usually would, but maybe not QUITE as far back as before, and paid a little more attention as I jumped on, and that worked better. The sidling forward was also a little weird - usually when I do this I'm pretty much flat on the deck, shoulders only high enough to allow the arms free play - again, with this suddenly enormous front, I had to sit up a lot more, raising my center of gravity, which once again does a bit of a number on your stability. Worked OK on a nice calm day, but I am not sure things would go so well in rougher conditions & that's a good thing to know. TQ and I reached pretty much the same conclusion after all of this, and that's that it's good to know that the extra flotation is there & works, but it makes normal operations just enough more difficult that I should probably reserve full inflation for a last-ditch measure.
I sincerely hope I never have to pull that tab in earnest.
Oh, yes, and here's why I came back to this topic. It's all Silbs' fault - he's musing on some boat-shape-related cowboy-rescue issues himself over at Silbs Says!
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Setting out in my New Year's Day finery...
The sailors tried to get me to sail, but I just couldn't skip the New Year's Day rolling session. We had fantastic weather whichever craft you chose - the breeze was a bit light early on but picked up enough later on to let the 3 sailors who came out have a really nice sail around Canarsie Pol, and the 14 paddlers had fine conditions for a nice paddle around Ruffle Bar. With the air temperature being in the low 50's, we had some first-time New Year's Day rollers, which was fun...me, I got a little overenthusiastic & am nursing a bit of a sore shoulder today, I usually do 6 rolls when the water's cold, 3 onside & 3 off, but this time I went a little overboard - lost track of how many I did but at one point an offside roll didn't work and the onside recovery wasn't a good one. Anyways, it was a bit ouchy on Monday but it's already improving so I think I'll be OK, phew. Other than that, a great paddle, and as usual really good food afterwards, and yes, I took some pictures!.
Oh, and Chris B. was the only sailor who was there at the start of the day, but Holly and Jim joined him later in Sunfishes and he took some pictures from the sailor's point of view (including me in my penguin hat again -- jeeze, what is it about wearing a penguin hat that makes me so vain? I'm usually a bit camera shy but not with that hat on!).
Hope everybody out there also had a very happy New Year, and here's to peace, happiness, and lots of time on the water for 2012.