Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Trip Reports x2 - Chelsea to Yonkers & home again!

Decided to do trip reports tonight, Chelsea to Yonkers & back!:
Trip 1 - Chelsea to Yonkers:
Date: 5/19/05
High Water at the Battery: 5:21 AM
Launch Time: 4:00 AM
Destination: Yonkers Paddling & Rowing Club
Purpose of Trip: Deliver kayak to Yonkers to get ride to Hudson Valley Kayak Symposium
Notable Stupidity Involved: Goal - to deliver kayak to Yonkers & catch 7:39 train back to NYC. Plan was that the 7:39 would get me to Grand Central Terminal by 8:15, and to work early enough to go take a shower in the company gym (ha, now wouldn't that have been nice). Also left 2 more plausible trains to catch - 8:01, arr GCT 8:37 - still enough time to be at work a little early (maybe still time for a 2-minute throwing of self through hot running water), or the 8:17, arr 8:50, dash into work a little late (boss had been alerted to insanity - I've been working until 7 or 8 on a regular basis so 10 minutes late was sort of ok as long as he had a heads-up)
Non-Negotiable Self-Indulgence: I arranged car service to take me to the pier. Trying to get there by subway at that hour of the morning would've been taken the whole venture a little further into the realm of sheer masochism than I would ever require of myself.

See what all you non-urban people with cars are spared? Subways, Metro-Norths, getting up at oh-dark-thirty to paddle your kayak almost 13 nautical miles before work simply to get it to someplace you can hitch a ride to a weekend event, worrying about getting mistaken for a terrorist at 4:30 in the morning?

ok...actually it was kind of fun. Plus when I think about the environmental karma points I must be racking up for using public transportation for almost everything...

Best Laid Plans Etc. Points of Trip (aka Isn't It Lucky I Left Myself 2 Possibly 3 Trains To Catch?)(aka Hope I Didn't Give Anyone at Work A Complex With My 10-Yard Personal Space)(actually there were only 2 less-than-fine things, really):
1. Headwind. The forecast had said something about NW winds 10 - 15 kts. That's manageable - and I had hopes that that early, maybe it would still be quiet - sometimes the early hours can be the calmest. Not this time. Naturally, as I was on something of a genuine deadline, the Wind Gods chose to have some fun with me as is their wont. The minute I ventured out from the shelter of the derelict piershed at Pier 64, there it was - 15 knots, steady, NNE or so, strraight down the river & right in my face every inch of those 13 nautical miles. No point in crossing even if I weren't very leery of solo crossings especially at night (not crazy about them during the day even - better to cross in a more visible group). Would've been GREAT sailing weather. Ha. Anyways, aside from the extra effort of paddling into a headwind, the other thing that really sucked about that wind is that a steady wind from the north will make the current change sooner than normal - that's just a given, you work with it. I'd timed my launch to give me the strongest part of the flood, hoping to be up to Yonkers before the current turned - but it felt like it hit slack somewhere around Spuyten Duyvil at the north end of Manhattan, so the last 3 miles were against a building current. You can still make headway sneaking along the bank though - there's always a forgiving zone along the edge. I used that.

The other unplanned delay was waiting for a tug & barge. One reason I decided to go with such an early start is that there's not a lot of traffic that early in the morning (I definitely beat the morning rush hour when 16 ferries are trying to get into & out of 4 slips at 38th st). However, commercial traffic goes on all night, and as it turned out, there was a tug & another vessel of some type moving around a barge that appeared to be moored at or near the end of the northernmost pier in the passenger ship terminals. This was an interesting situation - first of all, you have to be incredibly careful of tugs & barges, especially at the hour of morning I was travelling when no one would be looking for a lone kayak, even a well-lit one (I use a split red/green fore & a couple of white lights aft, but I always operate under the assumption that I'm completely invisible & it's my job to stay out of the way anyways, ten times so in this case). Secondly, there's a 100 yard security zone around the passenger ship terminals - legally I had to go around outside it. Now, I was carrying a VHF radio tuned to 13, the harbor channel. I could have admitted to existing & asked what they were up to & whether I'd have time to go around them - but as a rule, I really prefer to stay quiet & leave the talking to the professionals - just having the radio on usually gives you a good picture of who's doing what, and where, especially if you know your area & the habits of the boats that frequent it fairly well. In this case, I hung around on the south end of the zone trying to judge what they were up to. Finally, after 10 minutes or so of indecisively watching the big boys waltzing around, I was about to ask if I could go around, but just then my VHF crackled to life with a "Securite, securite, this is the Tug American Patriot with barge at the passenger ship terminal heading for the channel & putting it on the wire, southbound for the Narrows". OK, that answered that. That meant I needed to get my little tiny butt out of any possible southbound trajectory that this guy might take. So...well, ordinarily I am the most law-abiding security-zone respecting paddler you'd ever hope to find but in this case, the absolute fastest place to go, with the current still moving north at a good clip was actually to just tuck myself in between the first 2 piers of the complex until they went past. A security guard saw me come in and came over very promptly, and before he could say ANYTHING I apologized profusely for being there & explained that I was just getting myself well out of the way of the barge that was heading out. He stayed to chat, or to keep an eye on me, or both, until the barge was gone & I went on my way.

Once again the waterproof Standard Horizon HX460S VHF radio paid for itself. They're expensive but to be able to listen in to what the big guys are doing & be able to stay the hell out of their way? Can't put a price on that. I wouldn't have dreamed of doing this trip without it.

That was absolutely the only other traffic I had to deal with that early, though. There were other barges, but they were all out in the channel & I was well out of the channel & life was good.

Anyways, those were the only 2 aspects of the trip that weren't quite perfect. In the case of the wind, hey, what can you do. In the case of the barge, ditto, and well worth waiting to see what they were going to do. Even with those delays, I was still on the 8:17 to Grand Central!

High points -
Being on the water at sunrise is always something very special.
Hearing the swallows twittering their good-mornings to each other. Barn swallows are quite common along the waterfront, and aside from being wonderful to watch flying (I saw one swooping & diving & surfing in a corner behind a building one windy day - I could absolutely swear that bird had found himself or herself the aerial equivalent of a whitewater "hole" and was "throwing down"!) I also just love the way they talk to each other - it's all twittering, but the range of twitters is so great they really sound like they are carrying on these very intense, involved conversations with each other. These guys like to perch on the Adirondack's whisker stays (the two steel cables that run from the sides of the boat to the tip of the bowsprit) - they just sit there & cheerfully talk to each other & you can't help but smile at how sociable they are. To hear them twittering away at each other up at the World Yacht Pier at 4:30 in the morning? Well, that was neat.
Mama duck, up around Ludlow, whisking her ducklings around a corner and into a hidden nook of a waterfront structure (er, ok, it was a really stinky sewage treatment plant - this IS urban paddling, sometimes you get pew-stinky along with your adorable widdle fuzzy ducklings) and then doing an absolutely wonderful broken-wing impression to lead me away from them. I didn't know ducks did that! Sadly a little while later I saw a Canada goose moving away from me in a similar style only I don't think that one was play-acting - Canada geese are big enough that if you are bothering their young'uns, they don't muck around with trying to lead you away - there was actually something very exhausted-looking about the way this one moved away, too, and I felt bad that I scared it.
Paddling under the blooming paulownia trees on the bank of the river - sadly, these are not an endemic species & the jury's still out on whether they are invasive or sort of OK as introduced species go, but boy, they are pretty.
Watching a tug & barge heading north along the Palisades, shining in the sunshine - I can't remember which company it is but there's a certain tugboat company that paints its' boats in this very sharp-looking red and tan livery, barges too - they just look downright spiffy out there.
And (heh heh heh, I lose karma points for this one) there was definitely a guilty ha-ha sort of pleasure in watching the Metro-North trains heading to NYC & thinking about all those commuters watching me gliding along on the river as they head off to work & wishing they were me(how would they ever guess that I was going to be a few trains behind 'em and using my lunch hour to take a nap - that was the cost of such a nice morning).

The trip back down was MUCH less eventful. That was Memorial Day. Jack & a few other folks from Yonkers were planning a trip south on Memorial Day anyhow - I just jumped in on that. Jack told me to just get myself there by 10:00 - there was a 9:30 train that got there at 9:51. Perfect. Even got a good night's sleep. OK, had to fight some current at the end but worth it for non-insane start time for once! The day was absolutely gorgeous - I wanted to get a waterproof single-roll camera but the Rite-Aid in Grand Central was closed. There was at least one moment when I really regretted that - the water was so calm up by Yonkers in the morning, and we crossed straight over to the Palisades, and at one moment I looked to my right and there were the three women from the YPRC, paddling with verve, evenly spaced, bows cutting strongly through the water, forming a perfect angle - a bright blue boat, a red-orange boat, and a yellow boat - there was just something about the primary tones of the boats, and the symmetry, that was just stunning. Made me wish I'd been able to get that camera.

We saw a hawk along the Palisades - only in sight for a moment but fun to see; lots of ducks and geese; a white egret who was perched on a pile of rocks, evidently done with his morning fishing & just enjoying the sun; and lots and lots of homo sapiens at play along the banks (including a very dignified-looking gentleman in black trousers & a white dress shirt, serenading the world in general with a soulful saxophone rendition of "Over the Rainbow"). The women turned back shortly after we got to Edgewater, south of the George Washington Bridge - they'd planned to make a shorter trip of it but it was nice to meet them, the Yonkers Paddling & Rowing Club really has some nice, pleasant, laid-back members - while Jack & Bob & I continued down. I was very glad Jack & Bob came with me - it was Fleet Week (we had 2 flyovers, 1 by modern jets, the other by some vintage prop planes, that was cool) and a beautiful day on the river, so of course every motorboat within driving distance had come to look at the Navy ships (got pretty bouncy with all those wakes sloshing around chaotically!) - my particular piece of the Hudson was about a hundred times busier than I've seen it since last year (you forget, having the place to yourself over the winter, how many motorboats & jet skis there are - and those STUPID cigarette boats, ugh, that's the one kind of recreational craft about which I actually see no redeeming features, they must have one of their races coming up 'cause there are a lot in the harbor right now & there usually aren't that many, thank goodness). They seemed to travel in packs - I actually wonder if they plan excursions the way my Pier 63 paddling friends do - and there were clear breaks where there was less traffic, but even so, it was nice to have some company for the crossing.

Good to have my Romany back home.

It's funny how much more detail I remember from the trip up. I really do pay much closer attention to things when I'm paddling solo.

One other random thought - it's amazing how much having to get to work at a certain time changes the overall tenor of a trip. The northbound trip had it's moments - but there was no time to relax & enjoy. I enjoyed, yes, but with the exception of one Balance Bar stop when I started feeling like I was running on empty, I enjoyed at a very steady cruising pace, NO breaktime!

Anyways, as I said nice to have my boat back home again - this week's going to be nuts again at work & if I can sneak in some time on the river, that will do a lot for my sanity. Sigh.

I do feel like I should close with a word about paddling alone as I had to for my Yonkers delivery. Seriously - it's much smarter & safer to paddle with other people. I'm experienced, conditions were good, and I know the area I was paddling very well, but even so I took precautions like calling the Coast Guard the night before to let them know my plans (mostly 'cause around here a solo kayak at 4 am could just raise suspicions & the best way to be REALLY late for work would be to get myself pulled over for questioning - although I do have the advantage of looking pretty harmless) and carrying a VHF that was on & tuned to the harbor channel until I was well clear of all the commercial vessel piers (and really glad of that, too).

Saturday, May 28, 2005

So many kayaks!

Ahhh...what a lovely Brooklyn day. Every now & then I need one of those - just a nice, quiet day where my face is not seen outside of the borough of Brooklyn & if I set foot in the mass transit system at all, it's to bring home a load of groceries. Or maybe go to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. I slept in until an hour I don't want to admit, the apartment's, well, reasonably tidy, and there's a big pot of lamb curry gently simmering on the stove which should be scrumptious after a night in the fridge lets all the flavors mingle...aaah. Life is good, as they say.

The symposium last weekend was a lot of fun - as you could probably tell if you went to look at the pictures of all those happy people in boats I linked to a couple of days ago! I think a whole lot of learning happened there; the proprietor of Hudson Valley Outfitters seemed quite happy by the end, as did the instructors & the students.

As I mentioned, I'd never participated in a symposium before & certainly not as an instructor. I'd heard a lot of stories from other symposiums, good and bad - on the good side, the stories were of these amazing weekends where skilled instructors and paddlers from all over came to meet, share skills, laugh together, fall in the water, make fools of themselves cheerfully (I'm sorry, but if you can't make a fool of yourself cheerfully kayaking may not be the right sport for you - there's nothing dignified about learning rescues, or rolling, or even getting out of your boat - if you can laugh as your boat-bound legs fail to work quite right and you land dry, but rolling on your back on the dock, you'll do great!), and enjoy a couple of beers (mmm and we had s'mores at this one too - toasted marshmallows don't go well with beer but they go VERY well BETWEEN beers, y'know?). The stories I've heard from people who came back from various symposiums less satisfied were generally stories about instructors who were busier showing each other what hotshots they were than imparting skills to the participants. Fortunately I've heard more of the former than the latter. At any rate, I went into this figuring that if I was ready to just be flexible & go with the flow, it would go well.

An interesting aspect of this symposium was that it was really a general kayaking symposium. I would say - possibly erroneously, I'm just going on my gut sense of what I've heard - that most symposia are a little more specialized - American Canoe Association, or British Canoe Union, or Greenland - I suppose there are whitewater symposia too although I am less aware of how things happen in whitewater-land. This one was, well, sort of an "interfaith" workshop.

To the non-paddler, the divisions in the paddling world may not be that clear. Assuming that not everyone that reads Frogma is actually a paddler, I think I'll just do a little rundown here - Know Your Kayaks. Kayak 101, shall we say.

For starters, let's go to Bartleby.com for a definition, courtesy of the American Heritage Dictionary:

VARIANT FORMS: also kai·ak
NOUN: 1. An Inuit or Eskimo boat consisting of a light wooden frame covered with watertight skins except for a single or double opening in the center, and propelled by a double-bladed paddle. 2. A lightweight canoe that is similar in design.
VERB: Inflected forms: kay·aked, kay·ak·ing, kay·aks
INTRANSITIVE VERB: To go, travel, or race in a kayak.
TRANSITIVE VERB: To go or travel on (a body of water) by kayak: kayaked rapids of the Colorado River.
ETYMOLOGY: Canadian and Inuit qajaq.

So, there you have it. I am a kayaker who has kayaked in a kayak. Boy that sounds dopey. Oh well, what was I saying about making a fool of yourself cheerfully being a prerequisite (or at least helpful) when learning to kayak? There you are.

Warning to experienced paddles - Uh oh. I sense a basics lecture coming on. Call me selfish but I think it might be fun to just sit here & list all the different boats I know about & what I know about each kind. heh heh. You may or may not find it entertaining. You may rather go practice rolling. On the other hand if I've missed anything, heck, I'm just brain-dumping here, say something in the comments!

BTW I will offer a list of links showing the various types of kayaks I'm about to describe at the end, just to avoid too much hyperlink giddiness.

About that definition - here's a note I've always found interesting. The A.H.D. is actually being generous with their definitions compared to genuine Greenland paddlers - that is, paddlers who live in Greenland and don't have to look at the cheatsheet to remember the words "Ujaqqamik tigumisserluni" and know that that's the name for a hand roll performed while holding an 7kg brick (worth 9 points if done sloppily & 10 if done perfectly). To these folks, a kayak - more properly spelled "qajaq", plural "qanaat" - is only the boat described in the dictionary's FIRST definition. To them, even my lovely, agile, reliable Nigel Dennis Kayaks Romany is not a kayak - it's a "qajariaq", which means "like a kayak". Close, but not the real thing. Hm - if a Romany is merely "like a kayak", I wonder what an Ocean Kayak would be called...oh, the mind reels...

Anyways, for convenience's sake I'm going to go with the American Heritage Dictionary version. Without further ado, here are the types of kayaks I can recall & describe off the top of my mind.

The major subdivisions are sea kayaks, whitewater kayaks, and flatwater kayaks.

Sea kayak varieties:

Common materials - Skin-on-frame, Plastic, Fiberglass, Carbon Fiber, Kevlar, Wood (strip or stitch & glue).

Sit-atops - This is the term for the version you'd most commonly run into a kayak stand at a resort in the Bahamas - generally a relatively flat-bottomed, stable boat (although there is at least one maker that offers a more traditional hull shape). The paddler is actually sitting on top of the boat, in a slightly sunken well molded with a seat & a series of dents for footrests. I wouldn't trade my Romany for one of these and a thousand bucks but neither am I gonna talk stink about them, really - I have had a lot of fun knocking around Kailua & Kaneohe Bay on one of these - it's nice to get sun on your legs, and in hot weather it's nice 'cause you can jump on & off - plus great for snorkeling. On the minus side - well, these are super user-friendly boats, pretty much anyone can jump on one & move it around no problem, which is, on the surface, a plus - but that's also a problem because it's really easy for one of these user-friendly boats to quietly carry a novice into non-user-friendly conditions (there's a local proponent of sitatops who cheerfully refers to a certain very stable make as "idiot-proof boats" - this always drives me crazy because anybody who knows anything about boats knows that "idiot-proof boat" is a HUGE oxymoron & IMHO anybody who thinks there is such a thing is profoundly misguided...sorry, had to give in to minirant there). The ubiquity of sit-atops at tropical resorts is a constant source of headaches to outfitters who run trips in less forgiving waters - if I had a dime for every time I had to explain to someone that a few jaunts on a sitatop in the Caribbean does not an experienced sea kayaker make & that they really should take Paddle Basics before attempting a tour back when I was working at Manhattan Kayak, I'd at least have gotten enough over 3 years for a really good sushi dinner. Sorry, just a little grumble...

Don't ask me about the Hobie sit-atops with the pedal-driven penguin flippers. Answer is - I don't know.

Decked kayaks - Now this is what I would think of if you said "sea kayak" to me. Some sit-atops are very seaworthy & a good paddler can do well in them, but this is the sort of classic design that came to us from the original "qajaqs". I think the shortest ones I've run across are 14 or 15 feet long - most are 16 or more, max hull speed is directly proportional to the waterline of the boat (size matters here!) & sea kayaking generally involves covering some miles, so the person in a 14' boat is going to be at a huge disadvantage paddling with people in 18-footers. I even find myself having to work when I paddle with my friends in my good old cow-pony Romany - they all seem to have switched up to 17 or 18 footers & while I adore my Romany for how she handles & the way she just sits herself down & surfs in conditions where all the other boats are just wallowing, at 16 feet, she just ain't the fastest boat out there. There's no one-size-fits-all decked sea kayak, designs try to combine speed, stability & manueverability but there tend to be tradeoff - longer boat will be faster, but harder to turn - that sort of thing is just inherent in the physics of the way a boat moves through the water. A buyer just needs to know what they want from a boat & focus on that - and on what fits 'em, definitely no one-size-fits-all there - a boat that works great for one person may be lousy for another person. I've known people to struggle with not-quite-right boats for ages, get very frustrated, and then switch to another boat and suddenly, voila, all better. Definitely good to try boats, and lots of boats, and take lessons too, before buying a boat - the big stable barge that is incredibly comforting to a beginner is going to get boring to that person as their skill level increases. That's probably true of all these boats I'm describing, not just decked sea kayaks. These boats are decked over; the paddler sits with their legs inside the boat, wearing a sprayskirt attached to an oval or round coaming. That way, you're sealed in, making the entire boat a watertight unit (although due to the fact that a paddler can fall out, a sea kayak HAS to have positive flotation, either from inflatable bladders called "float bags" that fit in the bow & stern, or from bulkheads just aft of the paddler's seat & forward of the paddler's feet that form airtight compartments fore & aft). Extremely seaworthy in the hands of a skilled paddler.

Surfskis - these are FUN for experienced paddlers that like to go fast (although Bob Twogood makes a great one for less advance paddlers, but then he can teach anybody to use a surfski, he's awesome). They're racing boats; they are open boats with the paddler sitting in a well. they tend to be longer that the average sea kayak and very narrow. They tend to be very tippy when sitting still - but once you get moving it's sort of like a bicycle where the faster you go, the steadier you are. Because they're all about going fast, they steer with rudders, so there's no wasting time with turning strokes. You do get very good at braces (slapping a paddle blade flat down on the surface of the water to keep yourself upright) when you're first learning to use one of these!

Marathon racing kayaks - Sort of like a cross between a surfski & a sea kayak - long, skinny, fast & not wildly stable, steers with a rudder, but you do have a deck & are sealed in with a sprayskirt.

Waveskis & other surf kayaks - these are the kind I'd say I know least about - waveskis are basically surfboards with a seat & footwells - there are also decked kayaks that are designed along the same lines. Designed to be nimble, super-manueverable surf boats.

With the waveskis & surf kayaks, you're almost making the transition into

Whitewater boats!

Common materials:

Don't worry, I know less about these kinds so this'll be shorter - just like the boats! In whitewater, you're generally going to be moving with the current, so overall hull speed doesn't matter as much as manueverability. Whitewater boats spin like tops. They also roll really easily, especially rounder-hulled old-skool riverboats, most rolling classes at which I've taught have used these which is why I know even the limited amount I do (whitewater is Amazingly, Incredibly Fun but I don't have a CAR to GET to the whitewater which is all OUT OF TOWN so I've only gotten to do it a couple of times)

Basically, uh, let's see, I've heard of...

Materials - Mostly plastic 'cause you're going to be bouncing off rocks - squirt boats do come in fiberglass & I imagine they'd do the carbon fiber or kevlar as well (don't know that for sure though).

Playboats. These are short little boats, very chiselled-looking with lots of edges to bite into the water. They tend to be pretty low volume fore & aft so that you can get your bow or stern to slice into the water for cartwheels & endo's, planing hulls for better surfing & flat spins. These boats are totally designed for what the whitewater tribe refers to collectively as "throwing down". They can be a bit on the twitchy side for a beginner - for whom a boat that's not really designed to be right-side-up all the time is not necessarily a good thing. RCS, who taught me a LOT of what I know early on in my sea kayaking career, is also a good whitewater paddler - he tells really funny stories about how guides frequently get entirely brand-new kits, boats and all, when beginners buy these things, almost drown themselves several times over, and eventually just hide the entire setup in the bushes by the river, hike back to their car, and go home to consider safer hobbies.

River Boats - OK - not sure if that's exactly the right term - I would also think of these as "old school" whitewater boats. Slightly longer, rounder-hulled (displacement hulls rather than planing), and a lot less slicey than a playboat, I'd say these are more about getting from point A to point B than a playboat, which is more about finding a good hole at Point A & staying there doing tricks until courtesy demands you give the next guy or gal a turn. Great boats for learning to roll - or honing your Greenland technique, there're a couple of Dagger Crossfires up at the classes I was teaching at this winter & I had a bad habit of hogging those.

Squirt Boats - these are extremely low volume boats designed to get under the surface of the water. I guess some of the more slicey playboats are almost squirty but of all the kinds of kayaks these are the most mysterious to me. And that's a joke 'cause what I tend to think of (from my sea-kayaker perspective) as the hallmark of squirtboaters is actually a thing called a "mystery move" where the entire boat sinks from view...and if the squirtboater's really good the paddler does too. sounds pretty cool...

And then you have your flatwater boats...primarily 2 very different types, one very advanced, one just for kicks:

Advanced - Flatwater racing kayaks (called K-1, K-2, K-3, etc, the number indicates the number of paddlers the boat holds). These are the ones you see in the Olympics on the flatwater course. Very light, very fast, very round-bottomed & unstable; they steer with a foot-controlled rudder; the paddler is attached to the boat with a sprayskirt but unlike most decked kayaks, your thighs don't really have anything to grab onto (your legs are really working in the racing stroke so they actually need the free play that you gain by not having thigh braces) so it's not really a rollable setup, if you flip it's pretty much swim the boat to the nearest dock for a remount. I got to paddle one of these once up at Lake Sebago, where the ACA has a camp, and I had a blast - it was so funny, the first time I capsized, my sea-kayak instinctive roll tried to kick in & I found myself in sort of a compromise of a halfway-up brace - but then the brain started to work & said "Nothing to get purchase on to bring THIS one the rest of the way up!". They do move, though. Good fun. Materials - Fiberglass, carbon fiber, kevlar (lighter weight=faster!)

Then you have the user-friendly, just for fun flatwater boats - those are

Beginner - Recreational. These are your Loons, your Kiwis, your kicking-around-the-pond boats. Again, some kayakers look down their noses at these guys but once again - I've had a lot of fun playing around with one of these that Auntie K & Canoe-Buildin' Uncle own in Michigan - in fact one of my most memorable wildlife encounters involved a full-moon paddle in that boat on the Manistee River where I found myself in the middle of an extremely hard-working beaver colony (that was WAY cool). However, if I saw somebody getting ready to launch one of these onto the Hudson River at Pier 63 I would definitely swallow my deep-seated innate aversion to playing Ms. Big-Shot 4-Star Paddler and go ask them nicely just what the hell they think they are doing...no, I wouldn't say "hell". But I'd definitely grill them. As gently as possible. Rec boats are great fun in the right place - the right place being the sheltered ponds & gentle rivers for which they are designed.

And then you have inflatables - once again, a lot of people look down their snoots at these guys & I would not trade my Romany for one, but my first non-raft whitewater experience was in a "ducky" rented from the Nantahala Outdoor Center and MAN that was fun! It was also my 2nd EVER whitewater experience, 1st was in a raft on the Ocoee River in North Carolina & I liked that so much I dragged the whole family into doing this ducky adventure the next day. And there's also a lady by the name of Audrey Sutherland who's written a whole book about her adventures paddling an inflatable kayak in Hawaii, it's called Paddle My Own Canoe - again, in the hands of a good paddler, great fun, but with the one odd drawback of being maybe a little too user-friendly to the point that an unwary novice could find that this easy-to-use boat has delivered him or her into some hard-to-handle conditions.

Well...that's all the types of kayaks I can think of right now! OK, quick, somebody tell me what I missed. That was definitely entertaining, for me at least - and I might even edit it down some for use as a handout in the event I ever find myself teaching an Intro to Kayaks type class (and they had one of those at the symposium & unless they changed their minds about me, I think I will get invited to come back next time).

Diff'rent boats for diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks - now here's the pix!

Ocean Kayaks - your basic flat-bottomed, very stable, resort-type sit-atop - the Scupper Pro I've linked to is actually pretty good, it's long enough to maintain a reasonable speed & "tracks" (goes in a straight line) better than some of the shorter one
Heritage Kayak - sit-atops designed to handle more like a traditional sea kayak - not bad boats at all (funky suntan alert - to edge these boats you use the thighstraps - we had a client at MKC that ended up sporting stripes on her legs for quite some time!)

Decked Kayaks - a few representative samples:
QANAAT. "Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby"...although I do rather like my

Romany - qajariaq or not, darned good boat...

and then there's strip-built or stitch-and-glue (at this point I'm getting lazy, there's a site that has both).



Marathon kayak (mmm...looks schpeedy)


playboat (Riot Orbit - btw that's kind of normal behavior for a playboater)

river boats, creek boats, old school, this site's calling 'em "general purpose"...sigh, I should ask my whitewater friend what HE would call these - anyways, there's the Dagger Crossfire, #2 on the list - you'll notice the hulls on these are longer, and more rounded - the one that one that looks like Darth Vader's kayak, the Riot Booster, that's getting a little more into playboat turf - actually I must mention, my definitions of the 3 common schools of whitewater boats may be a little misleading, there's more of a continuity from big, long stable boats good for beginners & folks who don't need to "throw down" to have a nice day on the river down to skinnier, edgier, sliceier boats. It's just like sea kayak design where the designer decides what they want the boat to be good at, and then shape the hull to try to make it do that well, and the buyer needs to decide what they want to do with that boat & then find one that suits their needs & ability - no one-size-fits-all here either.

Squirt boats (enough commentary already...


Olympic champion Greg Barton in a K-1 (all those people that find my blog doing google searches for "shirtless athletes" - well, here you are, and if that's not good enough for you...well, what's WRONG with you?

Recreational kayaks - silly little boats but great fun in the right place!

That's it! Yay, I'm DONE! Them's the boats, folks! Sorry that took so long, congrats if you actually made it to the end...I bet if you did, you're a paddler...

The good thing is, now I've done it & next time I start making references to types of boats, I can point to here for the less-informed but curious.

Now I can get back to talking about the symposium on my next post!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Tagees -

oof. quelle week. I'm zonked - I think I might go up to Chelsea & go for a nice boat ride...

but in the meantime, I had a volunteer & a couple of people who seemed to be asking for a tag in one way or another -

bookseller with a thing for science Rivertyde - he was the volunteer - and I just somehow envision his bookstore as being the kind of bookstore that you'd walk into and just automatically walk out with something fascinating, either just found by browsing or because you'd ask him "what's good" and he'd give you some great advice - of course his bookstore's in Philly, but this way I get the advice anyways, yay.

Spanish paddling blog On Kayaks (he's done already, makes me feel a little silly with my kids' books)

Heckuvanice guy ggwoo who's too busy to keep his blog going these days but was complaining about how nobody tags him anymore & tagged himself...doesn't that make you go blind? Wouldn't want that to happen so tag, and he's also already done (concise, too, I could learn from him).

And gatsby's ghost, because he was also complaining on ggwoo's comments about how nobody tags him anymore either - I considered that asking for it plus I just really enjoy his writing & I think he'll have some interesting books to talk about.

Any other volunteers? One more tag left!

thanks again Loup for tagging me, that was fun & plus now I'm getting all these great ideas for my to-read list - of course, it being boating season & fiscal-year close at day job, I don't have tons of free time, but there's always the subway.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Kayak Symposium Pix!

Hey, the photographer from HVO's Hudson Valley Kayak Symposium has got her galleries up!

There's a fun series down at the end of page 5 of me & my Greenland mentor & friend Jack G rolling a double - we saw those doubles the first day & decided we had to give that a shot.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

5 books that mean a lot to me.

Finishing up Loup's book meme tonight -

4. Name 5 books that mean a lot to you:

This was an interesting question - there are an awful lot of books I love reading, books that I've been carrying with me since high school, books that I've read until the covers are long gone & rereading sometimes involves getting the pages back in order. I finally ended up scanning my bookshelves just to see what jumped out at me (or in one case, called out from clear out in the kitchen). Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the finalists.

The All New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook - Tenth Edition
Circa 1959. Actually as far as physical books go, this is probably the one I'd pick if for some horrible reason I had to choose one of all of my books to keep & give away the rest. This cookbook belonged to my maternal grandmother - who was a wonderful cook in the Pennsylvania Dutch pinch-of-this dash-of-that comfortable food tradition - I don't know that she would've used this cookbook all that much! However, after she passed away my grandfather had to learn his way around a kitchen - in fact he may have started when my grandmother was in her final illness & he was taking care of her. And that's where this cookbook became so very special. I think this Fannie Farmer was his mainstay, along with advice from my mother & my aunt (both of whom had learned to cook from Grandma). My grandfather was a pharmacist, and like any good pharmacist, he was a very precise person. So in keeping with that, he would type himself instructions for even some of the simplest recipes (minutes to fry a slice of smoked ham on both sides, or how to bake potatoes in their toaster oven) on slips of paper, and put them in sensible spots in the cookbook. At the very front, there's a note to my mom, May 12/85, in his shaky handwriting that starts "You are my 'Julia Child' or 'Fannie Farmer' when it comes to the culinary arts" - it's just a simple request for for a good recipe for deviled eggs - but the cumulative effect of these little notes scattered through it, every time I use it, I can almost hear him again.

The Bodhran Makers
by John B. Keane

A bodhran is an Irish goatskin drum. The Bodhran Makers is a wonderful story of impoverished (but culturally wealthy) farmers in 1950's Ireland, who find themselves opposed by the pious & controlling parish priest as they prepare for their traditional (but in the eyes of the priest, wicked and debauched) annual St. Stephen's day Wrendance. It's a fun book - but it was the direct cause of my being ushered into the New York traditional Irish music scene by someone who started out as a co-worker at Carnegie Hall and now qualifies as one of my oldest friends. She's from an open-hearted Brooklyn Irish-American family with a penchant for adopting people who find themselves far from home & family. It was around St. Patrick's Day that year that I found this book in a Barnes & Noble St. Patrick's Day display. My folks were finishing up their last Navy assignment, which was in England; they'd bought a copy of this book on a trip to Ireland, so I'd read it & was delighted to see it. Well - Am was also familiar with it & she had not realized it had been published in the States yet. She saw it sitting on my desk & the exchange went something like so:

Me: "Oh, it was on a St. Patrick's Day display at Barnes & Noble, my folks got a copy in Ireland & I really liked it"
Her: "If you like that book there is something that we have to do."

And I believe it was the very next Wednesday we were sipping a couple of pints at Muldoon's, listening to Brian Conway, Don Meade, and a small group of other assorted musicians playing some music the likes of which I'd never thought I'd hear outside of a Chieftains album.

Since then, I've had a lot of fun with Irish music. I don't dance as much as I used to - I've attended more than my fair share of ceilis, actually got to be a pretty good dancer, I had a regular partner for 2 years & I loved dancing with him more than, well, almost anything (blush...)...after that ended it was just hard to dance with anyone else - but Am also brought me back a tin whistle from Ireland one year & that's stuck. Tin whistle's a great instrument - chuck one in your backpack & it's there whenever you find yourself with a free moment that seems to call for a tune.

The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle

This one takes a little less explanation - I just loved it when I was a standard-issue unicorn-happy teenager and it's still a story I can float away in right from the first paragraph - The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam, but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.

The Terrible Hours , Peter Maas

Note to Wenley - Wenley, if you have made it this far, congrats...here's the payoff, this actually ties in to that unanswered ? re being a navy brat - plus I think you would LOVE this book!

This is the story of the rescue of the crew of the submarine Squalus, which went down off the New England - and of Swede Momsen, the brilliant & dogged Naval officer who was the first to develop the technology to rescue the crew of a sunken submarine (before him, crews died), and of the actual development of the Momsen lung, the escape hatch, and the rescue chamber that together spelled the end of the days when a boat going down was an automatic death sentence. As a Navy brat of the submarine variety, following in my father's footsteps was never an option - I suspect my life might have been extremely different had I been a boy, the submarine community is a unique & close-knit one & one in which I was very comfortable growing up. I was fascinated with the boats when I was a kid - suspect I would've at least tried to go that way as a career (no guarantee I would've made it of course, only the best get to be submarine officers). As it is - well, I still like reading about submarines. Plus it gave me the shivers to discover that my birthday happens to fall on the very same day as that historic first-ever submarine rescue. May 24th (yes, been and gone, I had so much going on this year I totally downplayed it).

Eclectic enough collection for you?

Last but not least...what character in literature speaks of the river rat philosophy more eloquently than the Water Rat in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows?
"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing", he went on dreamily: "messing - about - in - boats; messing -"

"Look ahead, Rat!" cried the Mole suddenly.

It was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air.

"- about in boats - or with boats," the Rat went on composedly, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. "In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matte, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere aelse, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not. Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?"

Hear hear!

And now I get to tag 5 people - but I think I will mull those tagees over for a bit. First question - do I have any bibliophilic volunteers who would enjoy this as much as I did? Please leave a comment!

An Inspirational Politician

I'm hitting the books again - the 5 books that mean a lot to me that is - but in the meantime I just have to put up something that I found on Sardonic Bomb that just made me want to stand up and cheer...right up until the last line which just made me sigh.

But if Rep. Thompson lived in NY, I think she'd have my vote. And hurray Molly Ivins for covering something that was really brave even if it didn't lead to the Texas legislature rethinking their vote (boy, some of us just really need those "people who aren't like us" to be our scapegoats, don't we...). Anyhow, without further ado, here's the article:

Here in the National Laboratory for Bad Government, it's Duck and Cover time -- the Legislature is in session. The Can't-Shake-Your-Booty bill passed the House, saving us all from the scourge of sexy cheerleaders. But nothing else is getting done. The state is being run by people who do not know how to govern. Keep in mind that based on past form, whatever lunacy is going on in Texas will eventually sweep the country.
Rarely are the words of one state legislator worth national attention, but when Senfronia Thompson, a black representative from Houston, stalks to the back mike with a certain "get-out-of-my-way" look in her eye, it's Katie, bar the door. Here is Thompson speaking against the Legislature's recent folly of putting a superfluous anti-gay marriage measure into the state constitution:

"I have been a member of this august body for three decades, and today is one of the all-time low points. We are going in the wrong direction, in the direction of hate and fear and discrimination. Members, we all know what this is about; this is the politics of divisiveness at its worst, a wedge issue that is meant to divide.

"Members, this is a distraction from the real things we need to be working on. At the end of this session, this Legislature, this leadership will not be able to deliver the people of Texas fundamental and fair answers to the pressing issues of our day.

"Let's look at what this amendment does not do: It does not give one Texas citizen meaningful tax relief. It does not reform or fully fund our education system. It does not restore one child to CHIP [Children's Health Insurance Program] who was cut from health insurance last session. It does not put one dime into raising Texas' Third World access to health care. It does not do one thing to care for or protect one elderly person or one child in this state. In fact, it does not even do anything to protect one marriage.

"Members, this bill is about hate and fear and discrimination... When I was a small girl, white folks used to talk about 'protecting the institution of marriage' as well. What they meant was if people of my color tried to marry people of Mr. Chisum's color, you'd often find the people of my color hanging from a tree... Fifty years ago, white folks thought interracial marriages were 'a threat to the institution of marriage.'

"Members, I'm a Christian and a proud Christian. I read the good book and do my best to live by it. I have never read the verse where it says, 'Gay people can't marry.' I have never read the verse where it says, 'Thou shalt discriminate against those not like me.' I have never read the verse where it says, 'Let's base our public policy on hate and fear and discrimination.' Christianity to me is love and hope and faith and forgiveness -- not hate and discrimination.

"I have served in this body a lot of years, and I have seen a lot of
promises broken... So... now that blacks and women have equal rights, you turn your hatred to homosexuals, and you still use your misguided reading of the Bible to justify your hatred. You want to pass this ridiculous amendment so you can go home and brag -- brag about what? Declare that you saved the people of Texas from what?

"Persons of the same sex cannot get married in this state now. Texas law does not now recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, religious unions, domestic partnerships, contractual arrangements or Christian blessings entered into in this state -- or anywhere else on this planet Earth.

"If you want to make your hateful political statements then that is one thing -- but the Chisum amendment does real harm. It repeals the contracts that many single people have paid thousands of dollars to purchase to obtain medical powers of attorney, powers of attorney, hospital visitation, joint ownership and support agreements. You have lost your way. This is obscene...

"I thought we would be debating economic development, property tax relief, protecting seniors' pensions and stem cell research to save lives of Texans who are waiting for a more abundant life. Instead we are wasting this body's time with this political stunt that is nothing more than constitutionalizing discrimination. The prejudices exhibited by members of this body disgust me.

"Last week, Republicans used a political wedge issue to pull kids -- sweet little vulnerable kids -- out of the homes of loving parents and put them back in a state orphanage just because those parents are gay. That's disgusting.

"I have listened to the arguments. I have listened to all of the crap... I want you to know that this amendment [is] blowing smoke to fuel the hell-fire flames of bigotry."

Then they passed the amendment.

Molly Ivins writes about politics, Texas and other bizarre happenings.


Found myself browsing this this morning...

That symposium seems to have left me feeling restless & hyperaware both of my rusty spots and of the fact that once I break through the creaky spots & get into a groove during a class, it feels good & the students seem to start getting things from me.

I think that I could possibly be a very good instructor if I just did it more.

hmmm. We shall see where if anywhere this antsiness goes. There are a lot of things I like doing in life & only a certain amount of time in which to do them all...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Cool free event in Brooklyn, Wednesday 5/25!

Quicky post here - this just in from my oughta-be-famous friend Felice and it sounds too good to be true but she told me no, it's for real, this is to spread the word about a really good cause and they want a crowd. I don't think I can make it but I thought I'd share for the locals. Oh yeah, can't resist to mention - kayak connection alert! Brooklyn Brewery co-founder Tom Potter happens to be a very skilled and enthusiastic paddler! Bwahahahaaaaa, we're everywhere - unfortunately for the rest of you, we're all too busy having fun in our little boats to take over the world and stop all this my-god's-better-than-your-god silliness - otherwise, world peace through paddling, you betcha! - anyways, here's the gig:

Faith is playing this Wednesday May 25 - 8 pm at the Brooklyn Brewery. We are helping to kick off Bike for SCORES - the new bike ride benefiting New York SCORES which is an organization that sponsors soccer and poetry after-school programs for kids (good cause, right)? Admission is FREE, there will be free beer, free pizza, and great raffle prizes (including a bicycle)!

live music from 3 great bands
7:00 - Phoetica - - great rapper/poet/singer from Philadelphia.
8:00 - Faith - you know us, right?
9:00 - KID CASANOVA - exciting, electrifying, tuneful rock n rollers

FREE ADMISSION, FREE BEER and FREE PIZZA all night. We are spreading the vibe for New York SCORES.

Wednesday May 25
Brooklyn Brewery
79 North 11th street
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

from Manhattan - L train to Bedford

peace y'all


(and bonnie too!)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Book meme! (not quite ready for symposium review!)

Had you been at Camp Mariah on the Sharpe Reservation in Fishkill, NY, oh, around 4 pm yesterday, you would have seen the very odd sight of a grown woman, closer to 40 than 30, wearing a purple drysuit, turning somersaults on a lawn in a light drizzle.

It had just all been so much fun, and this was the kind of lawn that makes me wish I'd stuck with my adult tumbling class until I at least obtained a credible cartwheel (instead of the flopping over halfway-there cartwheel I tend to do). Well, somersaults were always my thing when I was a kid & I was feeling very kidlike after messing - about - in - boats all weekend...eventually it got to the point of "Dignity be damned" & I dive-rolled.

Just twice though. hee hee.

dang...that's good. Just thinking about that is bringing the good stuff about the symposium back. I have this tendency to look back over my performance at anything like that the day after and thinking more about the things I could have done better, or at least the things I would have liked to have had go differently. Actually I think that's a useful trait & part of why I make a good sailor, or kayak instructor, or whatever I need to be that requires learning skills fast & thoroughly - but at the same time it does mean that I spend more time kicking myself for not being better at whatever-it-is than most people do. So by today, the 'yakphoria was wearing off & the self-critique was setting in.

Juat to add to that, I had a rough day at work today - there was an urgent check request that I'd thought was taken care of 2 weeks ago & the check just made it out of AP on Friday...AAAAGH! So I started out the day putting out this massive fire; had to go to the boss's boss to get some backup for it (thank goodness I not only have a good boss, but also a good boss's boss, which becomes really important when your boss is on vacation and you start out the day with some understandably upset marketing people...) and then there were a bunch of questions about Travel & Entertainment forms that I've been slowly catching up on over the last month, and so by noon or so the weekend was seeming very far away & I was so deep into "I suck, I'm doing a rotten job, I'm letting my boss down, I'm putting all these people into a bad situation" that somehow those "I suck" filters got to working on the weekend, too - I don't know, the dealing with AWOL checks was maybe even more jarring in contrast to the weekend of intensive teaching (and learning too, it never just goes one way for me - I think if it ever did it would be time for a new sport). Sometimes a double life, even a not-so-secret one, can be tough in some very odd ways.

Anyways, by the end of the day, I had managed to find the missing check & get all caught up on the T&E's (which, to cut myself a little slack, by this time weren't that far behind, the ones that there are questions about now were the ones that went a while ago during the real backlog that happened while the old biz mgr was leaving), plus do all my usual stuff on Monday - but it was a long slog of a day & it left me in a rotten mood where all I could think of was the stuff I could've done better. But then just talking about getting silly enough to turn somersaults reminds me of the better stuff that got me to the level of exuberance where I couldn't resist that soft green lawn for one more second. It really was quite a weekend.

But I still think I'm going to mull things over for a couple more days...right now I'm going to do the book meme that Loup tagged me with!

Of course I STILL owe Wenley an answer about being a Navy brat from 20 Questions, don't I...

well, I think I'll do this first just because it is fun!

Question 1. What is the total number of books I've owned?
Oh, jeeze...well, let's say that there are roughly 400 in residence here right now; I probably gave a couple hundred non-keepers to the HousingWorks bookshop in Soho at one point (I thought I was going to move back to Hawaii at one point when after September 11th and leaving Manhattan Kayak Company I felt like I had nothing worth staying for anymore) - plus there have been a lot of one-time schlocky airplane (I'm a pretty literate person but I swear my taste in books goes straight to heck the minute I go through the security check) reads that ended up staying in the seat pocket - plus whatever I had when I was a kid. I'm still going to say probably around 2,000 though - I had a major library habit as a kid that kept the purchases down (and dang, I should rediscover that), and I am a re-reader and a re-re-reader, so it's not that often, really, that I buy new ones.

Question 2. What was the last book that I bought?
I'm not going to count the Access book or the Higgins Financial Analysis for Business, work books don't count. I think that would make The Kite Runner the last one. There is a fun little leftist/anarchist/socialist coffeehouse in my neighborhood, and they carry a small but interesting selection of books. I love indy bookstores - I never buy anything fun at B&N 'cause I walk in there, I look at all the kazillions of books, and I freeze and run straight to the old tried n' trues - Fitzgerald, Twain, Wharton - maybe Asimov or Bradbury if I'm feeling a little more sci-fi-ish, or, er, well, Clive Cussler or maybe Terry Brooks if I just want cotton candy for the brain (drat you MH for introducing me to Clive in the first place!). At an independent bookstore, I get much more adventurous because indy bookstore owners tend to pick better & more interesting books - quality not quantity, right? Anyways, I was home on a snowy weekend this winter & wanted to read something new, and decided to go support my local indy bookstore, and this one ended up coming home with me. Fascinating book actually. I recommend it highly.

3. What was the last book I read?

Heh heh heh. That would be The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill. I read a lot of kids' books these days - working in children's publishing, there's this thing called the giveaway bin - it's by the elevator so it invites rifling through on the way home. I don't take a lot for myself, more for friends, but if I pick up a young adult book & the story grabs me, I'm not above taking it. This one I just loved 'cause the protagonist of the story is one very competent & intelligent (but sometimes headstrong, and occasionally shy & embarrassed) young princess - you first meet her out on horseback, hunting a werewolf in the forest - she does find her quarry, and although it bests her in the fight, the werewolf (who turns out to be a very important character in the story) spares her because she faces her defeat & seemingly inevitable death so bravely that she wins his respect & instead of killing her, he backs off, bows to her like a courtier, and runs off into the woods. Stayed good on through the whole story, too. This one's a keeper.

Hm...getting late. To Be Continued! Next installment is "5 books that mean a lot to me" - well, seeing as the first one is my maternal grandmother's All New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook which means so much to me because every time I open it I can almost see my grandfather, you'll understand why I think this final question deserves its' own posting.

I'm so glad it's "5 books that mean a lot to me", not "5 books that mean the MOST to me". The latter question I think would freeze me up possibly even worse than walking into a Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Off for the symposium

My kayak's in Yonkers (nothing like a three and a half hour paddle into a solid headwind to start the day - I am SO glad I am a conservative trip planner 'cause between that & waiting for a tug & barge to do their thing at the passenger ship terminal I ended up eating up the entire cushion I'd built in); my bag's all packed & I'm turning in.

I'll be back & blithering on Monday. Or maybe Tuesday if I'm zonked after the weekend.

I'll have my full 23rd St. to Yonkers trip report to write up - it was longer than planned & there was a slightly stressful moment with a tug & barge (albeit one that quickly resolved when he announced his intentions with a security call on the VHF, which happened just before I got on the radio myself to find out - boy, I'm not a big one for electronic gizmos but I LOVE my Standard Horizon HX460S that fits so perfectly in my PFD pocket) but on the whole it was pretty neat - I like morning paddling a lot once I'm out there, it's just rousting myself out of bed that early that I don't like - plus I'm sure I'll have WAY too much to say about the weekend -

plus I just got tagged with a favorite-books meme which should be fun - why? Because she said so!

Have a great weekend everybody - hope you get in lots of paddling or birdwatching or photography or riding (that's for my aunt & uncle in Texas who might be reading!) or reading or whatever it is that you like doing the most!

Jeeze, am I annoyingly chipper when I'm in a good mood or WHAT? OK, I'll go away now! Bye!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Star Wars III - YAY!

ok...I lied, one more quick quick post before the symposium...

Our boss surprised us at our Monday morning staff meeting by handing out passes to an advance screening of Revenge of the Sith - our company does Star Wars children's books, and he'd gotten on a list & asked if the 3 of us that work for him could come too.

So we all went to see it this morning!

It was AWESOME. I had SO much fun. There were definitely a couple of moments when it was tough to keep the disbelief suspended but on the whole it was a total blast!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Frogma tenet - lend a helping flipper when you can!

Renowned chickenblogger ScottChicken, who was the source of the longevity quiz I posted a couple weeks back, is actually an old friend of mine from college.

For the last few years, I've been sponsoring him every year in mountain bike ride that the National Multiple Sclerosis Society puts on. He's been doing them for over a decade; I can't remember whether I've been sponsoring him for that long but definitely the last few years. I'm terrible at fundraising myself - heck, I was too shy & embarrassed to sell Girl Scout Cookies & those pretty much sell themselves - but I do give to various things over the course of an average year. I've been pretty lucky, passing some of that luck along in cash form is, I figure, the least I can do.

Anyways, Scott started doing these mostly because it was fun - but over the years, he started hearing about people he knew being diagnosed with MS, and it gradually became a little more serious (and he doesn't tend to do serious that easily, as you'll notice if you look at his blog, so that's serious).

This year, the email he sent announcing it had the subject "This Time, It's Personal".

Turns out his big sister Carol was diagnosed with MS this year.

I doubled my usual donation - and when he asked me if I could mention it on Frogma I did a forehead-smack/"D'oh!" combo. Of course. How dense of me not to think of it myself.

Anyhow, if you are interested in reading the whole story & maybe helping him out with a pledge, his personal page on the MS society website can be found here - here's his description of what's there -

It's got the full story of my sister's diagnosis, my riding for Squiggy, and a nice picture of me with a little beauty mark of mud. I look like a bearded Cindy Crawford if I do say so myself...

um...Cindy Crawford? Um. Yeah. OK, Scott...whatever you say... ;)

Anyways, he does tell the whole story better than I do. It being his and all that's only right.

And that's it for tonight - except that I absolutely have to say thank you for some very nice comments about yesterday's post. I know I'm not alone in that stuff but it's nice to read it right there. I wish I had time to answer them individually but I really do need to turn in now & if I get going on that I will be up all night. That's such a strange topic for me to blog about...sort of like going "Oh, here, I think I will juggle some broken glass right here in public just to see what happens".

And now I must turn in - trying to turn myself into a morning person so that I can paddle my kayak from Chelsea to Yonkers at 4 am on Thursday (that's just how it has to happen mostly based on tides, with a nod to morning ferry rush hour, and also the thought of still getting to work on time - generally when you have a specific destination on the Hudson on a specific day, it's totally up to the river what time you are going to do it, and in this case the Hudson says "Ahem...4 am, missy" and there's no talking back) and also be bright-eyed and bushytailed and all that stuff for 8 am sessions at the symposium this weekend.

Whee! I'm psyched.

This will probably be my last post before that...oh, man, though, watch out when I get back, I am going to be bubbling over with thoughts on teaching & general excitement...either that or complete self-loathing if things DON'T go that well. Either way, it probably won't be boring - at least to fellow paddlers!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Starting out the week with a BANG! or maybe a THUD!

No, literally. I'd hardly gotten into my morning reports when there was a loud "THUD" directly over my head - it didn't quite knock down chips of plaster from the ceiling, but it did send me flying out of my chair with an instant adrenaline rush of the not-fun variety.

My cubicle is located in a place in the office where the ceiling above me is actually the roof - I'm not officially on the top floor, but the company cafeteria & International offices that occupy the floors above mine don't take up the entire footprint of the building - there's an outdoor terrace that's an extension of the cafeteria seating in the summertime, plus some unused roof space.

They've been doing a full renovation of the terrace over the Spring - there were some bad leaks in the ceiling that rendered at least 4 cubicles uninhabitable, so it was way past time.

They are finishing it now using large concrete pavers. I suspect the "thud" that jolted me so badly this morning was the work crew dropping a couple of those. Scared me half to death.

My boss ended up looking at me kind of funny - I muttered something about preferring not to end up having a Daily News headline & left it at that.

Fact is that one of the few lingering effects of having been at the World Trade Center on September 11th is that really loud noises really send me into a ready-to-bolt mode. Actually this one might've spooked me anyways - it was RIGHT overhead and I felt the building shake a bit - but I think that stuff like that does tend to retrigger just a little taste of what I felt that day.

Had a bit of that last night, too - I'd gone to bed & a helicopter flew very low over my building. Helicopters & planes flying low overhead when I can't see 'em definitely bug me more than they used to - I can feel myself tensing up as they approach & then relaxing again as they fail to hit anything nearby & head on their way. Ended up having a nightmare about having to walk somewhere in a neighborhood where there was a serial killer on the loose - so a friend gave me a big white German Shepherd that wasn't going to let anybody hurt me, and I felt much safer (and it was a really nice dog, too) - but then I got home with the dog & started to realize that I was getting ready to go on vacation and couldn't take the dog with me & while I was frantically trying to figure out what to do with the dog while I was gone, somebody drove a garbage truck right into the front of my house (for some reason in this dream I had a house with a sort of beautiful glassed in front door area, so a garbage truck was kind of overkill, really)...I woke up at that point, 4 am or so. So I have no idea whether the garbage truck driver was the serial killer or just a really bad driver. Took a while to get back to sleep, either way.

ok, that was weird. Anybody wanna play dream analysis, go right ahead. My analysis is just flat out that this was a dream about knowing that there are bad guys out there & that sometimes there's nothing you can do about it.

Either that or my subconsciousness was a trifle piqued that I described the dreams it dishes up, when it even bothers to do so, which isn't that often, as "blatant" and was trying to prove that it could come up with just as weird a dream as the next subconsciousness.

Anyways...yeah, there's definitely still some residue in me of what happened that day. I expect there always will be. In fact I think it would be a lot weirder if it weren't there - I mean, I kind of figure this is fairly natural. It's not an irrational fear, I have actually experienced a situation where planes actually DID hit buildings in my vicinity, so I'm reacting to something that really did happen, not something that I just imagine could happen. And it's not like every noise does it, either - just the really loud ones that I can't see coming or where they're coming from. I'm just fine with low-flying planes as long as I can see where they're going & know that they aren't gonna try to kill me.

Now in the case of this morning's thud...ok, fact is that I don't even know if that counts as an overreaction in the first place, or if I would've reacted in exactly the same way if the people flying those planes that day had suddenly had a change of heart & realized that God probably wouldn't be all that thrilled with them for killing all those people after all. I mean, wouldn't you be scared if all the sudden somebody dropped a really heavy object on the roof directly over your head? It was going on all day, too - they must be hurrying to finish so that we can start dining al fresco again, and at certain points it sounded like somebody was playing fetch with a certain Big Red Dog up there. As long as it wasn't directly over where I sit, I was fine with it.

Sometimes it's strange trying to figure out what's something that I got from being in that attack & what's just an ordinary response.

anyways...just some strange thoughts today. Getting spooked like that always makes me think this way, even if only for a bit.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Blessing of the Fleet, Hudson Waterfront, June 4th

Every tradition has to start sometime, right?

Just wanted to spread the word about something neat in my own little amphibious way - people are organizing an Opening Day & Blessing of the Fleet ceremony to be held on June 4th. Blessings of the Fleets are very traditional, but we haven't had one in our particular stretch of the water before - but then again, we're getting more & more boats as more & more city people are discovering how much fun having a waterfront can be, so 2005 is as good a time to start as any! Sounds like fun!

Great day on the water today - first sail of the season on the Adirondack (as opposed to the Adirondack II which is laid out more for passengers than the crew), followed by about an hour and a half of practicing strokes & edging. God - there was an instant there where the sunset was starting to deepen its colors (ended up being one of those deep rose ones - red sky at night, y'know - but it started by working through deepening golds), and then light raindrops started spreading circles in the smooth water around me, and that was so gorgeous, and of course when you have sun and rain at the same time, you look in the direction of your shadow & there will probably be a rainbow there - so I turned in that direction and there was a full rainbow arching over Chelsea - and with all that I just quit messing around with bow rudder strokes and just sat there for a minute going "ooooh"...

I finished up my practice session with the first non-hooded, non-drysuit rolls of the season - the water's still cold enough that I came up panting a bit after sculling down for an initial controlled immersion, but it's definitely up to "tolerable for a limited period" temperature (I was in a full wetsuit, though - not time to roll in a t-shirt yet, nope, nohow, nu-uh).

Finished off the day by going back over to the schooner to catch lines as they came back from their 6:00 - 8:00 sail - since I was going to be around, and the Adirondack II is still at our dock, which complicates docking, I said I'd do that (followed, naturally, by the traditional post-sail beer!). They were late getting back, they were out in that same glorious stuff & the captain decided to stay out 'cause there wasn't an 8:30 sail & nobody on board had a plane to catch & it was just too nice with the rainbow and the sunset and all to hurry back in, so the passengers got an extra bonus sail for the price of the usual 2 hour trip.

I sort of figured that's what had happened so I made myself comfortable on board the Adirondack II, pulled out my long-neglected tin whistle & played a few tunes there in the sunset.

What a perfect day.

Gonna be weird to go back to my cubicle tomorrow - it always is after a really good boat-centric weekend, and the more spectacular the boating is, the stranger the return to number crunching.

IT'S ALIIIIIIIVE!!! (my drysuit gasket, that it!)

Hurray! The patch actually worked! And that was the last really crucial gear issue for the symposium - although the most recent schedule doesn't have me on rolling anymore, so it's not guaranteed that I'll be spending a lot of time standing in the water, there's always a chance it could still happen.

Funny, too - the errand that took me into the Village yesterday morning was a trip to Village Divers for a bigger tube of AquaSeal. There being more space on the larger tube, they were actually able to break out the instructions, so instead of rolling together "seams and holes" into one short line including the instruction "overlap edges" (which is where everything got so nasty), they have 2 distinct procedures - one for seams, where you overlap, and one for holes, where you basically do exactly what Dive Shop Guy said to do. Dang, if I just wasn't such a stickler for reading instructions I wouldn't have urethane-coated fingers right now.

Of course then again if I weren't such a stickler for reading instructions I probably would have electrocuted myself installing a wall sconce in my 2nd NYC apartment (the fixture started out as a bare bulb of the type ordinarily seen in basements & the instructions for the sconce were very clear so I decided to give it a shot - and let me tell you, I was pretty psyched when I turned the juice back on at the fusebox, flipped the lightswitch, and the wall sconce actually lit up) & then I would've missed out on all this fun. Not to mention what a disaster the Ikea desk with hutch at which I'm sitting typing this would have been if I was more a chuck-the-instructions-and-lets-get-creative type. Yep. Think I'll just keep right on reading instructions. A messy-looking neck gasket & rubbery fingertips until it wears off such a tiny price to pay -

Plus I'm wondering if the urethane will improve my grip on halyards & sheets today! heh heh.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Happy Anniversary Mr. & Mrs.Kayak Wisconsin!

Rumour has it (or at least On Kayaks has it) that that Derrick, your host at Kayak Wisconsin and Mary are celebrating an unspecified wedding anniversary -

Congratulations! And thank you both for proving by example that being a paddler does not necessarily mean being a complete disaster as far as being a person with whom to have a relationship.

Mostly kidding there. But it is nice to see people be in a relationship where both people can be who they are, not spend a lot of time jumping through hoops trying to fit some mental image of the Ideal Mate. Mr. & Mrs. Kayak Wisconsin sound like they are very much in the former model & in this day of The Rules and all those other how-to-manipulate-the-opposite-sex-in-6-easy-lessons-for-the-low-low-cost-of-$15.95, that's great to see.

Oh, yeah, and since all the cool kids (or at least the cool kayak-blogger-kids are linking to this new clip of footage from Justine's circumnavigation of Tasmania at CackleTV.com (and since oh my GOD this looks like FUN - aside from the up-at-4-am bit,UGH!), I will too - it just looks fantastic. I bet they slept well the next day!

So back to last night's fiasco - well, it wasn't a fiasco after all! The patching procedure may've been messy but darned if it doesn't look like it worked (actually I could only check half 'cause I tried to take off the backing tape this morning & the AquaSeal wasn't fully cured so I had to redo that bit - but the undisturbed half I checked this evening looked messy but watertight - yay! As for the rest of the symposium prep - it's going really well.

My first aid kit is all cleaned up (I'd been keeping it in a drybag & at some point there was enough condensation that the outside of the kit got a little mildewy, so I scrubbed it & the drybag down with bleach solution) & restocked. I took inventory of the stuff in my boat today (my day hatch was seriously getting to be like a hall closet in a house that's been lived in for a long time - full of stuff, some useful, some junk, and I sort of knew what was in there but I would NOT have been able to list everything - now I don't have to 'cause I actually have a list). I also ran AquaSeal around the seam where the tunnel joins the deck on my sprayskirt - the tape covering the seam came loose & although I'm not sure whether the tape was integral to keeping water out, or just cosmetic, running a line of AquaSeal along the seam turned out to be PRECISELY as simple and quick as I expected it to be (as opposed to last night's sticky silliness!).

Actually all this patching & cleaning & what-all is stuff that needs to be done every now & then anyways - good to do 'em in Spring, when you're getting revved up for more frequent paddling & with more people tending to come out. The symposium coming up just charged me up to get it all done at once instead of a bit here, a bit there.

I've also gotten in touch with my co-teacher for Women on Water, bought myself some spiffy new stuff (whee), even did laundry & cleaned the apartment today - no paddling for me today but suddenly I'm feeling a lot less stressed out about being ready. I was tempted, as some of my friends at Pier 63 were doing a trip north today possibly involving a stop for sushi, which I would've enjoyed, and I bet they had a great time 'cause it was a beautiful day, but I decided to make it a dry-land day as planned just 'cause I had so much I needed to do.

Nice day for running errands, too. It's really starting to feel like summer here in NYC! I mean, just in the course of running errands today, I found myself buying dumplings & a jelly doughnut at a Ukrainian street fair, watching Falun Gong people getting ready to do a performance in Washington Square Park (they had dragon dancers & everything), listening to somebody playing "Hava Nagila" on steel drums in the Union Square subway station, and finally (right around the corner from home) watching a couple of guys dressed up in pretty full hip-hop style teaching a couple of little kids, a boy & a girl, a rather complicated breakdancing move - they'd rolled out some linoleum in a little front yard in their building, the kids were concentrating so hard & the older guys were enjoying teaching them so much, it was just one of those things that makes me go "I LOVE this neighborhood". Everybody was out enjoying the day. Summer summer summer...ok, so it's still spring, but it was definitely spring with summery overtones today!

So having gotten much much stuff done today I can breathe a little easier about sailing tomorrow - I'd asked not to this weekend but somehow when Captain Peter called me this morning to see if I could come for JUST the 3:30 tomorrow I guess I forgot! Heh heh. I'm such a pushover. But at this point I think I've gotten enough of the work I had to do this weekend done that I'm glad I said yes 'cause it'll be nice to get out for at least one sail - Plus the Adirondack, which is the one the NY schooner gang tends to think of as "our boat" is in town now - and then I can go for a paddle afterwards, too! That'll make a nice day on the water - which I will regard as a reward for NOT paddling today & instead doing all the stuff I needed to do.

Feels so nice to not be all stressed out.

Gasket Patching Notes

Ah, drysuit repair. Fun fun fun.

I have replaced a neck gasket on my drysuit before. It didn't come out pretty, but it kept the water out & that's the main thing.

I got everything I needed today except a patch kit - Randy doesn't stock those because the latex used in gaskets doesn't have the longest shelf life (it's true, that's why I had to buy some 303 spray today, using that extends your gasket life). I did get a small tube of AquaSeal (sticky urethane goop that cures into rubbery stuff overnight) anyways. Back at work, I made a couple of calls to dive shops just to see if they had patch kits on hand. They didn't, but the guy at Pan Aqua said that it the hole wasn't too big, you could patch using AquaSeal alone - just put a piece of tape on in such a way that the edges are together, then you just run AquaSeal over it. You let it cure overnight, then you pull off the tape & repeat the procedure on the other side.

Hm, that sounded easy enough. So I quit stressing about finding a patch & tonight I came home & launched into the project.

Well, it's setting now & I can't report success or lack thereof for at least 10 hours. But I launched a LITTLE too fast since it seemed like a pretty minor procedure. So here are some things I'd forgotten about gasket repair & also some discoveries I made while trying this patching technique. Just thought I'd share some of those.

Things I Forgot:
1. I forgot just how nasty, sticky, and hard to control AquaSeal is.
2. I forgot that I bought some dishwashing gloves last time I had to mess around with AquaSeal.
3. I forgot that even if you try using some sort of tool for spreading the AquaSeal around, fingers work better.
4. I forgot that no matter how simple & quick a repair seems like it should be, it's always going to take at least twice as long as you thought it would.
5. I forgot that I have got absolutely NOTHING of a solvent nature in my apartment. Not even fingernail polish remover. Failed Girly 101, I guess.

1. When what the dive shop guy suggests (back the hole with removable tape) makes sense to you in your mind than what the tube suggests (back the hole with removable tape, overlapping the edges - hey, isn't that gonna end up with things all puckered & pulled out of shape?), it may be wiser (and faster and a lot less messy) to try doing it the first way.
2. The "cold" faucet in my bathtub makes a surprisingly decent form on which to carry out a small patching operation of this type (but only once I switched to doing the patch the way Dive Shop Guy said to).
3. In the event that a person finds themself in a situation where their hands are liberally anointed with urethane sealant goop, and there is no solvent available with which to remove the goop, and there are no disposable gloves in the house to keep from getting everything else in the apartmemt sticky, a pair of small plastic bags of the type you put produce in at the grocery store make a surprisingly effective pair of disposable gloves.
4. It is actually possible to type while wearing a pair of small plastic produce bags on your urethane-goop-covered hands...

OK...are you laughing yet? This is all kind of embarassing to admit publicly like this but I hope the mental image you have in your head right now is HALF as silly-looking as the actual scene...'cause if my mess makes anybody laugh, it was worth sharing! I'm certainly having a good laugh at myself over the whole thing - that's in fact why I thought "heck with dignity, I should write this up - bagged hands and all".

Of course if after all this, the patch doesn't work, that won't be quite so amusing - but it was worth a try - and Randy did order a gasket for me that should be here in time if it didn't work & a full replacement is in order.

And that, I actually know how to do & if nothing else, this has been a good memory jogger on some of the details I'd forgotten.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Lunchtime Kayak Gear run.

Well I am SO glad I checked a certain website this morning...

Original plan du jour:

Work hard, leave work a bit early, go to New York Kayak Company, spend money, go home, repair drysuit, collect kit, inspect first aid kit.

Checked the website...oops, Randy closes at 5 on fridays.

New plan - dash over to New York Kayak on lunch hour.

Well, actually that will keep me from buying stuff other than that which I actually need.

Shopping list:

Wetsuit bottom half (already have top - I've just been wearing fleece pants under drysuit).
Wetsuit booties
Drysuit gasket repair material (patches, goop, plus spare gasket - current neck gasket has a hole where my thumb went through it on Thursday night - I think I may be able to get away with just patching it but if it looks like the latex is degrading I should probably just replace it)
303 protectant (I think i still have a can at home but I haven't seen it for a while - if I find it I'll just donate the spare to the hold, everybody can spritz down their boats as part of spring cleaning).
Vest knife

There, that's all I NEED. I think. Glad I did actually do a list 'cause there were a couple items that popped into my head as I was writing it.

Where lunch hour is good is that Randy's got what's basically a big toy store for grownups (if you can call paddlers grownups) & it's particularly easy to buy more stuff there than I meant to when I do have even a short shopping list. Y'know, the debit card's already out, oh, here, this thingumabobby looks neat, add that to the stack - well, hopefully going on lunch hour will cut down the browsing & impulse buying inclinations!

heh heh. I am getting so psyched about this symposium...and speaking of being grownup I see I haven't changed a bit since 5th grade when I remember getting all psyched up for a horse show I was riding in & spending a little more time drawing out the patterns of a novice dressage test I had to have memorized than I really should've been.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

No time to post but this cracked me up -

OK, no time to write today & probably tomorrow. In the meantime, may I recommend:

"Dog Crap, Leaves, and the Porn Star".

No silly, that's the title of the post, not a new blog. Now that would be QUITE a blog. I'm not sure I could handle a blog like that.

The topic? Yardwork. May sound boring but there's a line in there about what murder victims don't scream that just about made me blow coffee out my nose. heh heh.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


OK, this is just copied from an email I got from a cool friend & co-worker whose band (she's the singer & bass player & she's wonderful, I don't understand why she's not famous) is performing at a very cool festival - I hadn't heard of it before but dang I love the whole idea, it's cool & wonderful too.

Take it away, Felice:

We're going to be playing 2 songs on Thursday, May 19 at 7:30 at Arlene's Grocery as part of the MAMAPALOOZA festival. MAMAPALOOZA is a great organization that celebrates women artists with children. I have often noticed a perception that for women once you have kids, your life as an artist is over. In my case I would say the opposite has been true. Having my son and having to stay home many many nights with him sleeping helped me to quiet down and get to know who the heck I was and what I had to say. Not to say it's been easy,fun or great all the time, but I am super proud to be an artist and a mother. And so, my wonderful bandmates Naotaka Hakamada, Scott Hartley, and I , will be partying down and radiating reggae and rock n roll at Arlene's. There are many other great mom artists on the bill as well. Come celebrate the act of creation!

Sounds wonderful doesn't it? And cool too. Hee hee...it's funny how many times I just used the words "cool" and "wonderful" in one quick little lunchtime post. I think it's because I got in a really cool & wonderful after-work paddle yesterday (including a lot of focused technique work and my first Hudson rolls of the season - the water's still cold but it's gone back to the proper shade of green & the proper degree of translucency, it's not tan & opaque anymore) & that just got me into "cool and wonderful" frame of mind. Sunset on the water...yeah.

Oh, plus I think I'm through the worst of the overdue-invoice deluge that were making me want to just crawl under my desk over the last week - there was the backlog I knew about and then there was a very bad logjam that a new guy in another dept. found and unjammed. Meant a daunting amount of work but he said today that he's now mostly all caught up. Which means I'm also mostly caught up. Hurray. I'm glad he came on board when he did 'cause eventually ALL of those vendors would be looking for their money & if processing that many invoices was bad - having to deal with that many angry vendors if those invoices had STAYED lost would have been worse - and then having to deal with AP if those lost invoices had stayed lost just long enough for the vendors to resubmit, THEN resurfaced...oh, now that woulda been a frickin' nightmare.

And knowing that we avoided that just makes everything MORE cool & wonderful.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Note 1. To Lycos searcher looking for More Shirtless Athletes: I think you might be looking for this guy! Sorry about that. What Lycos was thinking ranking ME #1 for shirtless athletes when Scott-O-Rama is the undisputed king of that particular Shameless Ratings Ploy, I have no idea.

Note 2. To Scott Chicken Comment Part 1: Yes, I know. But it's free and there's a huge box on the 10th floor right near my cubicle. Comment Part 2: Plain, frozen, with salt. 2 of 'em actually. This was NOT the original plan but then friends of my friend turned up & oh, another? sure! Fortunately I realized as I finished the secone, before the armtwisting began for 'rita number 3, that I am not as young as we were in college & don't really drink a lot usually & have another miserable day at work tomorrow & compounding that with a nice tequila hangover would just SUCK. There are some things I definitely dig about being older. Having the sense to stop at "pleasantly unwound" is a big one.

There was much sailing talk. It was good.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Why can't a nice cup of tea just be a nice cup of tea?

OK - I am feeling like a total whiner right now. I'm still at work. I decided to make myself a nice cup of tea, and there on the Lipton label I see


Why does everything have to be good for you?

Why can't a nice cup of tea just be a nice, quiet, unassuming, unpharmacological cup of tea?

Marketing schmarketing.

OK, I might as well leave now because when something as minor as that is actually able to annoy me I am clearly past the point of really being able to get anything useful done. Long day. Long week (and it's only Monday). Long month. Long couple of months in fact, and not having a clear end date for this situation of doing my own job plus part of the business manager's job (the entire immediate department is in the same boat but it's still rough) makes it tough. It's funny, my work style is such that given a clear goal/finish line/end date, I can buckle down & do mountains of work. When it's an endless flood of extra work (and stuff that absolutely can't slip any more than it did while budget season & then the transition as the business manager prepared to leave) with no clear end in sight - well, I'm not as good at that.

Well, at least the boss assured us today that there WILL be an end at some point - he's trying to fill the position as quickly as he can, but he wants to make sure he gets somebody really good for it so that we don't end up just creating more work for ourselves cleaning up after somebody that didn't work out. There is a lot to be said for that - but I'm still feeling a bit overwhelmed by how much I need to get done on a daily basis just to keep up after wading through the stuff that got backed up during budget season & the transition.

Ok. Thus endeth the whine. Tomorrow, as they say, is another day, and I told one of my sailing friends I'd drop by the place she works at to give her my share of the deposit for our BVI's bare-boat charter adventure in November...

hmmm, funny how even thinking about that makes me feel more cheerful!

And hmmm. They have margaritas where my friend works. Proper margaritas that make no claims of health benefits. If the place isn't too crowded maybe I will get one & we can talk sailing...yeah, that might be good.

btw...because of the abovementioned extra work & the upcoming Hudson Valley Outfitter symposium, plus schooner work, which I'm doing trying to squeeze in with everything else, I suspect that I'll be posting pretty sparsely until the symposium is over. Of course I'll probably come back from that so jazzed I'll make up for it with some sort of e-tome on philosophy of kayak instruction, ideas exchanged, breakthroughs made by students, things that worked, things that bombed, and a lot of thoughts about what I could've done better & what I thought really worked out OK. So any regular readers will have that to look forward to (or dread, depending on how interesting you actually find my kayakbabble).

Anyways, this is already longer than planned & didn't I say something about a margarita? Yeah. Now there's a goal I can achieve tonight.