Saturday, July 30, 2005

Word of caution to Spanish challenger...

Quick post today before I leave for CPR class -

As I looked around my apartment with an eye to personal defense in light of a certain warning shot fired across my (virtual) bow by Mr. OnKayaks, I realized that I have, over the years, and without premeditation, amassed quite a pillow stockpile, and it would be wrong of me to allow the poor fellow to launch in on any pillow attacks without first giving him a clear indication of the size of the pillow arsenal here in Frogma's Brooklyn lily pad...

Friday, July 29, 2005

Pale Male Update #I-can't-remember

I know I just sent people to within the last couple of days but I just LOVE the first picture he has up today and I just can't resist sending you over there again!

Me? Cripes. Too many topics, too little time. Actually I'm mulling over one of my periodic rants, not so much a political one as thoughts on water access issues, this time sparked by:

1) A discussion thread on NYCKayaker regarding water access
2) A couple of notable encounters with less-than-aware seeming kayakers while working on the schooner last weekend
3) A trip I joined last night - we went to the Lightship Bar & Grill at the Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey for dinner, and it was the most beautiful night (sorry no pix, as I said to Goofyman last night, "Sometimes, I want to just paddle!" - glorious evening, though) that was marred by the stress of an after-dark crossing with a lot of commercial traffic, and taking a lot of abuse via VHF after announcing our crossing (a step I took in light of all the boats that were in the area - ordinarily I use my VHF in a much more passive fashion, keeping it on so that I can hear announcements & keep tabs on what the big guys are doing, the better to stay out of their way). I hate being yelled at on the VHF when I'm not doing anything wrong. Thing is, I know exactly why they yell at us - seen what the picture looks like from that side myself & I can't entirely blame 'em - we weren't doing anything wrong, but there are some paddlers out there who sort of don't get it, so the occasional kayaker that actually turns out to have a radio & admits to existing makes a convenient proxy on which to unload frustrations.

This all gets me thinking about the way I remember water access being regarded in Hawaii, where I grew up, vs. the way it is here.

We'll see if I ever get to writing the post, though. I still need to finish Staten Island Part II, for starters - I've left us sitting at Ward's Point for days, now, - and then there's a barbecue, and CPR class on Saturday, and working on the schooner on Sunday, and a little celebration for a friend who's found a more congenial job than the one she currently holds here at the Really Big Children's Publishing house on Monday, and on top of all of that I find myself in the most bizarre situation where there are actually 4 different movies I find myself wanting to see - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (can't miss Johnny Depp...although I like him better as a pirate, naturally!), Batman Begins, March of the Penguins, and I'm oddly interested in seeing The Aristocrats, an odd sort of movie which keeps getting oddly good reviews. This is flat-out weird. I'm way out of the mainstream when it comes to entertainment. Ordinarily, at any given time, there will be, at most, one movie that I'd actually be interested in seeing. Whether I actually go is not a given. I'd say I average 2 movies a year. I make up for it by getting so fascinated by some movies that I'll see 'em 3 or 4 times. I think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon won in that category - there was just something about that movie - never got tired of it. This business of actually wanting to see 3 or maybe 4 all at the same time, though? That's complicated. That means taking evenings, but evenings this time of year are for paddling. Hmmm. Dilemma. Do I entertain myself, or do I entertain myself?

Boy. I really can't complain about my life much, can I?

And just to round off the to-do list, I suppose some sort of response is in order regarding the looming Spanish-American Pillow War.

Yeeessss...I shall probably attend to that one tonight.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

SeaLevel solved the mystery boom.

Turns out the small child that shouted "Fireworks!" was almost right - it was a single firework exploding. A firework show, as 'twere. It's all in yesterday's comments.

Still sounds like there may have been something of an accident, and I hope no one was injured badly - but it's nice to know what it was.

Thank you SeaLevel & Hinemoa for solving that mystery for me. Y'know, I think that may be good enough for me to forgive that little matter of Hinemoa owing me one kalua pig!

Which reminds me, I never got around to going to check out da plate lunch at either of the New York branches of L&L. Mmmm. 'Course my favorite plate-lunch place on Oahu is the one right next to the Aiea Snack Shop, which is my favorite manapua place. I will judge this mainland L&L franchise based on this standard: If, when I close my eyes & bite into the barbecue short ribs, I suddenly hear the creak of an old wooden screen door & the crowing of the roosters in the dusty little street that runs behind the odd little hexagonal Aiea Library, instead of taxi horns & sirens, then they've done a good job.

Now I've gone and made myself all homesick plus cut into my falling-in-the-water time tonight (there are things that I have to finish before I go tonight). Great use of time, there. Thhhbbt.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Brooklyn Boom.

Took this picture last night at Chelsea Piers - played around quite a bit to see which settings worked best for a scene like this & this was the best result.

Tonight was a weird night.

I was walking home from taking a first aid class in Brooklyn Heights (this was in preparation for the British Canoe Union 2-star coach training which I don't get to do after all owing to the fact that another member of my very short-staffed department beat me to asking for those 2 days off - #$@&!!! - and I was SO excited about doing that!), heading up Atlantic to catch the Q train, when something went "boom".

Just one boom. Quite loud. A child across the street cried "Fireworks!"

I just kept walking, wondering if something bad had happened.

A couple of firetrucks & ambulances went by - that was all. I took that as a good sign. If it had been something bad, every emergency vehicle in Brooklyn would have been on the way. Other than that, everything stayed normal. The subway was operating normally, and WQXR was playing classical music when I got home half an hour later, and I can't find a single mention of a Brooklyn explosion online, so it can't have been what I was afraid it was.

It is definitely hot. Maybe it was a transformer or something. Still left my stomach tied in a bit of a knot.

The class was good. The teacher, Flo, is an EMT & works out of Coney Island Hospital so she's seen a lot & knew her stuff. She was very tired 'cause she'd worked a long day already, so she really moved it along nicely & kept it lively to keep all of us awake - she had a great way of adding in descriptions that really drove points home (like clarifying why you use warm water, not hot, to thaw out frostbite, by asking us "What happens when you drop an ice cube in a hot cup of tea?" - well, just think about that - now imagine that the ice cube is a frozen finger - OUCH, huh?). Take a first aid class at the Brooklyn branch of the Red Cross & it sounds like you're likely to get her - I really thought she was good. Funny too. Nice for a first aid instructor to have the ability to give her students the occasional tension-relieving laughter in the midst of the discussions of the differentiations between venous & arterial bleeding & where heat exhaustion crosses the border into heat stroke.

Every time I go for first aid or CPR with a new instructor, it always seems like something different stands out & lodges in my memory. Now I wish I was CPR/AED in Brooklyn too, but that's in Manhattan on Saturday. Oh well, I've never had a first aid or cpr class where I didn't think the instructor knew their stuff - Flo's teaching style just seemed to work really well for me. There was no question in my mind that I'd go ahead with both of these classes even though I wouldn't be attending the course for which they were a prerequisite after all - those certifications are just good things to have.

Well, 11:30, 2 hours after the boom, radio's still playing classical music - that boom must have been something relatively innocuous, as booms go.

9:30 am Wednesday update - No news is good news, and I found no news on this this morning, so as I was saying last night, must not have been anything bad. There were articles about how North Brooklyn residents were being asked to cut their power use as much as possible because various cables were getting overloaded - maybe it was a transformer blowing. Whatever it was, it must be that nobody got hurt.

Speaking of hot - yesterday morning I passed a bunch of subway workers who appeared to be gathering prior to going to work in the tunnels. Boy, I may whine about my job sometimes - but really, there are worse ways of earning a living.

Cormorants, plus Pale Male Jr. Kids Update!

This is one of my favorite pix from the Staten Island tour - Buzznet's having problems today so I thought I'd just put this up here since I happen to have it saved here at work. 3:00 update - Buzznet appears to be back up so the Staten Island virtual tour Part 1 is available!

I can definitely see the learning curve at the start of the slideshow (this was my first time trying to do any serious picture-taking with the new Optio Pentax WP from my kayak, had messed around a bit with it one night but not gotten anything usable from that night) - and also the fact that we were in a big hurry at the start & there just wasn't time to line things up pretty - but I got better as the day went on. I was extremely happy with this one, which I just happen to have saved to my work computer.

Since my galleries are down, how about some more great hawk pictures from instead? Pale Male & Lola's eggs didn't hatch this year - possibly just as well, they've had a good record of producing youngsters & with the stress of rebuilding the nest this year (after it was torn down by the co-op early in the Spring), perhaps it was easier on them to not have the subsequent stress of feeding eyasses. However, Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte did have 2 babies & they both took their first flights on Friday!

Plus Lincoln's got a few pictures up of various other Central Park fauna.

hm - I wonder if Lincoln could answer an osprey question for me. I'll have to check.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Frogma Virtual Tour #2 - Staten Island Part 1 - Now Open!

Nothing like going from doing a virtual tour of the shortest trip I would ever bother to gear up for, to doing just one of just about the longest trip I would do in a day!

As it turns out, it broke nicely into 2 parts - first leg covering Pier 63 to Ward's Point - the southbound leg - 2nd from Ward's Point, up the Arthur Kill & Kill Van Kull, back out into the harbor and home.

Here's the first half - Staten Island Circumnav Part I!

Sorry very few pix on the way down the harbor - we were running late because I overslept (fear of something just that stupid and anticlimactic and mwah-mwah-mwah-mwaaaaaaah ish was why I was being so paranoid about saying what the big adventure was until it was over - notice that even talking as much as I did almost jinxed it anyways), official launch time was 5:45, our guide had given us 5:45 to 6:00 and once I got myself out the door, I was entirely at the mercy of the early-morning Saturday MTA subway schedule (i.e., few, far between, and prone to slowdowns & mysterious reroutes that make your trip 20 minutes longer than planned...wish I'd gone for the car service as I'd first thought of when we thought our launch time was at 5) - but I made it by 6, my friends were nice enough to wait, and I was on the water in 15 minutes flat - gotta be a record for me, I usually like a nice leisurely start, but I'd done a really good packing job the night before, knowing that thinking is always a challenge for me that early in the morning. With a 6:15 launch, there was no time for photography - plus, as you'll see, it was pretty dark & gloomy.

Well, at least that saves that piece of the river for a Frogma Virtual Tour to the Statue of Liberty someday! This new camera my folks got me just makes it so much easier. Yay folks!

In fact it was the combination of being late & it being so very, very, very gray that made me forget to take the one minute to pull out the sunblock I always have in my day hatch...still kicking myself when I think of how much end-of-trip pain I could have spared myself if I'd only done that...oh well, lesson learned.

That's it for now - lunch break over, back to work! Hope you enjoy Virtual Tour #2 part 1!

( what else can I do with my new camera It's all too much fun - best birthday present in ages!)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Urban Paddling Rocks. Just Like Elvis.

I just took a look at my email & almost died laughing to see this NYCKayaker listserve post from the woman primarily responsible for the Hoboken Cove Boathouse. I just had to throw it up here in it's entirety.

Well.. I just thought I'd let folks know- this classic Elvis impersonator will be performing at Frank Sinatra Park in Hoboken from 7-9pm tonight. I have to work...and-- I'm bummed.
It's right by the kayak launch, and there's a nice open path thru the rocks now....t makes for a soft landing on some small pebble stuff the town just threw down for us. (Avoid the real stone launch if you know what's good for you)... check out to read about the performance tonight and go to for other nightly performances the town has booked by the kayak launch there this summer. Some of them are pretty good-like this ska -Sinatra band "Skanatra"... I'm not making this stuff up...

THANKS Sandy! Gotta love it!!! I'd say "Only in New York" if it wasn't in Jersey!

Lordy, and me with no lights, no gear, no camera, and not-quite-healed 2nd-degree sunburn on my arms, ugh I could kick myself (especially for the last since that was just utterly avoidable)!

p.s. Frogma Virtual Tour #2 is under construction - decided to go crazy & just put up the entire Staten Island circumnavigation in one swell foop, as they say. Turns out uploading photos on a dialup modem works pretty well as an activity that can be done concurrently with finishing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!

p.p.s. just changed the time on this - don't usually do two posts in one day but I want this one on top...

p.p.p.s -

Well wouldja look at the hunka hunka burnin' love Sandy bumped into on her way to work tonight! Woo hoo!

man, do I LOVE summertime!

Tsunami on the Hudson...

apropos of a discussion of a North River-style rogue wave (aka "really big wake") that's been emailed around the Pier 63 hold people for the last couple of days - I thought I'd do one more quick lunchtime post & put this up while I'm thinking of it. The weird discrepancies of how wave heights are measured in different places is one of those things that I find really interesting. And guess what, I'm geeky enough to simply assume everybody else reading this will find it equally intriguing.

I ran across this while trying to find that old surfer's adage about wave heights to share with the guys - I was going to be a brat and ask them which measurement they were using. I didn't find it in full but it's something like "a 10-foot wave in Hawaii is a 15-foot wave in California & a 20-foot wave in Jersey". This is owing to the different ways waves are measured in different places - the article explains it pretty well. Plus I like the pictures!

Anyways, I wish I'd been there. Thbbbbt. Me? I was riding a stationary bike in the company gym cause that's all Blister Jed and Blister Ed (the two worst blisters from Saturday's through-the-fog burn - located in perfect symmetry on my left and right upper arms, they were so annoying, I decided they needed names) could handle. Argh.

Monday, July 18, 2005

In the Graveyard of Ships, Staten Island, 7/16/05

This is one of the ships in what our guide for Saturday's Staten Island circumnavigation thinks is probably the oldest of the ship's graveyards in the Arthur Kill. He's heard that these are circa late 1800's, probably barques, probably used as cargo ships.

I have a whole lot more pictures which, as I said, I will definitely be getting to - but tonight I have the new Harry Potter, and Dumbledore just...oh, never mind, I just have to go curl up & read a little more before bed. Sleepy anyways. Go figure.

BTW I did finally get around to changing my posting name tonight since I think a lot of people who know me from NYCKayaker are probably finding this today & it's pretty darned obvious who I am - I'd been meaning to do this for a while because of just that. I hadn't really let the cat (or frog) out of the bag yet as far as posting a link on NYCKayaker, but it wasn't particularly still in the bag either - I've told plenty of friends & family with the assumption that if they enjoyed it they might share it, and anyways this isn't a difficult site to find. Now that Larry B's posted a link here on NYCKayaker, now seems like the perfect time to stop being the hardly-mysterious "bk".

So if anyone's coming in for the first time through NYCKayaker, SeaLevel or the Hoboken Cove Boathouse (thanks for the links guys!) - hiya, welcome, yep it's me, hope you enjoy!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Now It Can Be Told - Staten Island Circ, 7/16/05

So the weekend's over, I survived (although through my own stupidity I've got the worst sunburn I've ever had in my entire life - and I grew up in Hawaii so that's saying something) and now I can say what the big trip I couldn't talk about was 'cause we all made it & it was great!

Lyn, Tom, DS and I launched from Pier 63, 23rd St. & the Hudson River, at 6:15 a.m.( sadly Drum Guy couldn't make it 'cause of a runaway case of poison ivy) and, after meeting with "IsleSteve", a paddler who lives on Staten Island & was nice enough to make all the current calculations & be our "local knowledge" guy (necessary for this trip - it's easy to get in trouble with the Coast Guard in some areas & Steve knew exactly where they were - plus he just knew a ton of stuff about Staten Island) we proceeded to spend the day paddling all the way around Staten Island.

It was pretty darned cool - even with the sunburn, which made me absolutely wretched the last 6 miles or so. Fortunately weather cooperated such that in the end I only had to work one sail today (and that was a beautiful one so I was glad we had it even though I'd been joking about doing a rain dance to get even that one cancelled).

14 hour day - 50 miles or so - here's the crew:

and here are a few pix I took in the "Graveyard of Ships" in the Arthur Kill - there are actually a couple of these, they're places where old boats were taken & sunk in shallow water & left to rust away. This was definitely one of the high points of a really good day.

I've got a lot of pictures & will probably do a couple of my "Frogma tours" - doing the whole trip as one would just be unwieldy. I was VERY happy with my new Pentax Optio WP - the only problem it caused was that I got so hung up on taking pictures I ended up doing a lot more sprinting to catch up than is really advisable. Got a lot of good pix though. Thanks again M & B!

awright, bedtime already...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Diagon Alley Comes to Soho

UPDATE as of JULY 17th 2007 Two-Thousand-Seven MMVII!!! OK, I'm noticing I'm getting a LOT of hits today from people looking for HARRY POTTER PLACE, DIAGON ALLEY, DIAGON ALLEY I'm updating because I suspect you're looking to see if there's going to be a Harry Potter Place in honor of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS! And the answer is - YES! And once again I can't work because I have big paddling plans (my gosh am I predictable or what?) but if YOU happen to live in the area and would like to attend, you can read the details HERE!

I've also updated the photo link so now it actually takes you to the album - that'll give you an idea of what it's like - although the staff preview is missing one key element - lots and lots of REALLY EXCITED CHILDREN! Which is what the whole thing's about in the first place, right?

Anyways, that's it for the 2007 update; hope it's helpful. We now return you to July 15th, 2005!
********************************** * * *

SO...I know I said I wasn't posting again until Monday...but I changed my mind in view of the fact that today's a really exciting day at the Really Big Children's Publishing House. Everybody's been a little giddy all week, and today we all got to leave work early to go get a sneak preview of Harry Potter Place - a sort of one-block-long themed street fair that our publicity department put together to entertain people who are waiting to buy their books at midnight. I probably would've worked tonight - it would be fun to see how excited the kids - if I didn't have my big trip that I won't talk about until we've either pulled it off or failed. As it was, I did go take a look - and it really was a lot of fun.

You can see a few more pix over at my buzznet account - enjoy!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tale of a Tektite

I have a nice customer service story to tell tonight - in part 'cause heh heh it's also an excuse to play with my camera (bear with me on this one for a little while, ok? this is my first genuine technological toy ever!).

Paddling gear tends to be pretty expensive. It has to be high-quality, because people are depending on their stuff not to quit working in the middle of a 5-day excursion to wherever; in addition, although there's quite a market for paddling gear, I don't think it's quite as large as the market for - oh, clock-radios, say, so there isn't quite the same scope for mass production.

The nice thing about that is that the manufacturers tend to have a little less of a mass-market approach. For starters, I think a lot of them actually ARE water people so they know exactly how irritating and/or dangerous it is for something to break down at an innopportune time; plus they know that they're charging good money & people will be more inclined to pick their widget over the other guys' widget if they get a reputation for really standing behind their stuff.

The object you see there at the top is my Tektite Navlite. This was probably my second biggest non-Coast-Guard-required splurge as far as gear goes - these things are around $60.00 a pop. Like my even more expensive VHF, I've never regretted spending the money.

Visibility is a major issue for kayakers in New York Harbor. We're sharing the waterways with a whole lot of other traffic - and let's face it, as the smallest & slowest boats in the harbor, we ARE the bottom of the food chain out there. If a Circle Line cruise or The Beast (a big motorboat) passes close enough to you for you to hear the narrator, you'll frequently hear jokes about "And over there, we have some kayaks, or as we like to call 'em, 'speed bumps'".

My approach to the visibility problem is twofold - 1) I do what I can to make sure I'm visible (that's why I paddle a yellow boat & wear a yellow PFD instead of the teal or blue or green that would be more in line with my preferences in color - yellow's just easier to see) and 2) I always assume I'm invisible anyways. I think most of the more experienced paddlers around here would agree with that approach.

Doing your best to be seen is even more crucial at night. According to Coast Guard regulations, kayaks are actually only required to carry a white light which is to be shown in time to avert a collision. With very few exceptions (the most bizarre theory I've ever heard on the matter was from one contrarian who felt that lighting one's kayak at sunset would lull the paddler into a false sense of security...I don't paddle with this guy anymore so I don't know if he still thinks that way, he may have changed his mind by now...seen the light, you might say...nyuk nyuk nyuk...), longtime NYC kayakers are generally of the opinion that that's not enough. At the very least, I'd say most of the experienced paddlers carry at least 2 white lights - one fore, one aft - and light up near sundown. These Navlites are particularly good. A few years ago, before my "retirement" from MKC, I helped organize a test of the various kinds of lights that were available to paddlers (you can check out the full writeup on the Delaware & Hudson Kayak Club site - which come to think of it may have some good browsing besides that).

We found that the big problem with white lights is that from a distance, and at the right (or wrong) angle, it's really easy for the kind of white light you can fit on a kayak to end up getting lost in reflections from the moving white lights on shore (aka "cars"). Lighting yourself more on the motorboat plan - split red-green fore, white aft, preferable one on your deck and one on your shoulder or head - is better because that instantly identifies you as a boat. You're still better off assuming they can't see you period, but at least you won't be mistaken for a reflection. Doing a fair amount of night paddling in the summer, sometimes on my own (not recommended, but I do - I'm just much much more cautious about pushing the limits by myself than with a group I trust) it was therefore worth it to me to spring for the Navlite.

Thing is, a split red/green bow light is a good thing to have, but a BAD thing to have fail on you. One green light fore and a white light aft isn't legal for ANYTHING.

Unfortunately - I'm describing exactly what I ended up with a couple of weeks ago! After wonderfully reliable service for an awful lot of post-sunset paddling, (the LED's never burn out, and I don't know how long it would actually take to run the batteries down because I haven't managed to do that yet), the port-side (left hand, the red one) light starting getting a mite tetchy this summer. I could get it to light by fiddling with it. I opened it up one evening at home (you can't open anything like this out on the water, salt water will find it's way in & that tends to be the end) - and this is what I found inside:

Those are the little mountings on/in which the LED's sit. See how one's in one piece, and one's in two pieces? Well, I was expecting them to be the same & thought that meant that one had just come undone and was a little peeved that this thing that I spent so much money on was so shoddily put together...hmph. But I kept on using it (carrying backup lights just in case) until about 2 weeks ago when it finally failed to light out on the water & I had to put it away & pull out the less-effective backups.

When he heard about my predicament, Goofyman was nice enough to offer me the loan of his navlite if I needed it - after a very frustrating start to last night's trip, including a ponytail holder snapping, requiring a little creativity to keep the mane back (turns out a sock makes a workable Scrunchi in a pinch) and my own Navlite absolutely refusing to light on an evening I'd FORGOTTEN the extras, I took him up on that. So the issue was foremost in my mind as I took a run down along Pier 40, where Randy's shop is - it was late, but I saw lights in New York Kayak & since I have a pretty big adventure planned Saturday (can't talk, that'll curse it, it could SO easily not work out), and figured that if it looked like there were people in the store I'd go in & ask him about it, see if anything could be done quickly.

Well - even better, he was out enjoying a little of the evening with a couple of his regulars & staff (including SeaLevel, fun to see him there!), I didn't even have to get out of my boat. I thought I was gonna blow his unwinding moment with my paddle-up customer complaint, but he was fine - reminded me of the name of the manufacturer (which I'd forgotten) & said that I should just email them & that he was pretty sure there was a pretty solid warranty.

So I emailed 'em today and lo & behold, within about 2 hours I got an email back - and it included three possible causes & solutions AND the information that some of the LED bases were one piece, some were 2-piece, and that that shouldn't make a difference - basically, he said it wasn't likely that it was really broken, I'd probably be able to get it working, and that if I couldn't then I could send it back for repair. COOL!

1 possibility was corrosion from a leaking battery - well, yes, if you never have to change batteries, that could happen & you'd never notice.

Second was just grime interfering with the current - in which case the metal base of the LED mounting could be cleaned off with a bit of brown paper bag or typing paper.

Third - and oddest-sounding - was to check and see if the bumps on the ends of the batteries were dented. Dented? That's unusual...but then again, once again we are talking about the same set of AA batteries being in use for 2 years!

Sure enough - came home tonight and...well, see for yourself!

The one on the right is a NORMAL AA battery! See how dented the other one is? Funny, huh? I was surprised at how noticeable it was, but also quite happy because what I saw so clearly fit probable cause #3. I scrounged up 3 new AA's from my hardware cabinet & was absolutely tickled to find that I am once again the owner of a fully functional navlite. Replacing batteries in a flashlight once every 2 years because of wear & tear seems like a reasonable enough level of maintenance, don't you think?

I love a happy ending.

Anybody reading this owns a Tektite NavLite that starts getting all flickery, there's a good place to start!

BTW it strikes me that this is probably it for the week - weather permitting, I will probably paddle tomorrow - Friday will be pack up for Adventure I'm Too Superstitious to Talk About But For Which I Am Very Happy to Have a Functioning Bow Light, Saturday will be adventure itself, Sunday I will be working on schooner all day...Monday I will probably make it through the day through a combination of willpower, coffee and a lunchtime nap but...oh, I'll try to get something up then...if adventure goes as planned & weather cooperates I may have Frogma Virtual Tour #2 for you one of these days and it should be a good'un - but Monday will probably be short & sweet - either "We made it, trip report TK" or "Nope, went home on the...OOPS almost gave it away!!!!", either one followed by "Bedtime now, g'night!"

And speaking of which...

Bedtime now, g'night!

Here's A Book I'd Like to Read.

I want there to be a book called:

Leave My Effin' Cheese ALONE, Already!!!

Can someone please write it?

That random thought that turned up in my brain as my boss & I were discussing the terms outlined in a policy summary I was doing for him today.

I amuse myself, if no one else.

Manhattan Island Marathon Pix

Mo Fridlich is both a skilled photographer & an enthusiastic kayaker. It's always fun when he indulges both of his passions simultaneously & shares his results with the local kayak community by posting a link to the resultant gallery to NYCKayaker, our local kayak listserve (brought to us courtesy of the Hudson River Watertrail Association).

I'm planning on doing some writing about last weekend at some point - maybe tonight - because it was a great weekend - but in the meantime, here's Mo's gallery from the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.

I definitely recommend checking out the rest of his galleries as well - he's got some absolutely spectacular stuff on there. Watch out though, you may find yourself overwhelmed by a compulsion to run away to a deserted island somewhere in Maine.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

So did anybody actually SEE Manhattanhenge?

So did anyone actually see Manhattanhenge?

As usual I left the office a bit later than planned - my dad called to talk me through the basic picture-taking instructions on that neat new toy he & my mom got me - then there was, as always on Mondays, a set of reports I collect for a weekly summary, all of which have to be finished on Monday or it doesn't work (and which I haven't done in ages anyways just from lack of time)- anyways, long story short, I hopped an express train to 42nd St & got out to discover there was nothing to be seen. I'm just curious whether that was because of the haziness & cloudiness over Jersey, or whether I just missed it. Anybody else catch it?

Anyways, I took no pictures with the new toy but I did play around with it a little bit when I got home - just took random pictures of tchochkies, uploaded 'em to my computer, e-mailed 'em to my folks, and now here's one last experiment...ladies & gentlemen, for your viewing enjoyment, I give you...(drumroll please...):

One mahimahi throw pillow!

Sorry. Yes, I was across the street from the New York Public Library, a few blocks east of the Chrysler Building (my favorite skyscraper in New York), and actually walked through Times Square on my way home, and yet for my first ever posted-to-blog test picture, the best I can do to show you a toy fish. Well, see, there was this book - I saved the trip from being a waste by dashing into Coliseum Books - I'd gone up to see my old friend Am on Sunday, and at one point she pulled out a book she's reading, The Professor and the Madman & mentioned she thought I'd enjoy it - well, I dipped into the first chapter ever so briefly & it's fascinating. So I got it. So suddenly I just wanted to get on the subway & start reading it & walking back to take some test shots using the Chrysler Building as a subject just wasn't going to happen. So instead you get a closeup of a throw pillow - but I am REALLY enjoying the book!

(there, now I've got that out of my system & I can get back to work...)

Monday, July 11, 2005

NYC Stonehenge effect TODAY July 11th

no time for details but today is the day that NYC (above whatever street it is where the regular grid starts in so that the streets run straight across) becomes a giant Stonehenge with the setting sun shining straight down the middle of the streets.

Heard this on an NPR news story this morning - (11:50 ps while waiting for report to run I looked at that article more closely & it's actually the one they did in May, which is the other month that this happens - in the last paragraph it says something about the phenomenon being repeated on, you got it, July 11th!)

Sunset is at 8:20.

If I go I will take pictures.

I had a great weekend & had planned to go home & chill & read & unpack & blog re marathon swim (swimmers & most kayaks were pulled out & the race was called on account of a terrible thunderstorm that came through just as the swim was wrapped around the north end of Manhattan - I felt so bad for my swimmer) and tri (it is AMAZING how fast an elite triathlete swims) but I will see how I'm doing.

I could definitely kill some time between end of workday & sunset reading the instructions for a wonderful new toy - my mom & dad decided to get me the BEST belated birthday present & it got here TODAY, much faster than expected hoorah! I foresee my idea of a series of Frogma Virtual Tours, each featuring a certain stretch of interesting loca waterfront, becoming MUCH easier to produce! YAY! (THANKS M & B!!!!)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Snapping out of it to plug some true athletes -

Time to take a break from the heavy deep & real -

Here's a comment I posted at Sea Level (sorry no time to link, great site, he's in kayak section of my blogrolls, worth a gander if you haven't before) figured I'd put it up here, too:

Yo SeaLevel! don't forget to tell the nice folks out there who might happen to be on the Manhattan shoreline (or west side of Roosevelt Island, or either side of the Harlem River) to keep an eye out for the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim folks tomorrow (Saturday).

Starts at South Cove shortly before 9 & they'll be out their swimmin' their insane little hearts out till...well, 6:40 I think is official everybody-outta-the-pool-finished-or-not-time. They head south around the Battery, north up the East Side, then south down the West Side back to Battery Park City.

I wouldn't bet on it being official 'cause it's just been raining so much, the water's gotta be foul, but some of these folks will do it anyways. Give 'em a holler if you see 'em - it's a long & lonely trip down there, they may not be able to hear you but if they do, they'll love it.

I'll be escorting a swimmer around. I'm taking a break from volunteering for the swims this year but I'm making an exception for this one just 'cause it really is pretty incredible. I'm always a little amazed that people actually do this. 28+ miles. Swimming all the way.

I'm also working the swim section of the NYC Triathlon early early Sunday morning - don't have details or time to find but that's another good thing for New Yorkers too cheer on. betcha you can Google it though.

Gotta go now. Tons to do. Won't be back 'til Monday.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I wonder

So still at a loss for words & a ton of work to do & a kayaker meeting for those of us who are doing swim support for the Manhattan circumnav swim race (assuming it doesn't get cancelled because the week has featured torrential downpours daily & the Hudson becomes unswimmable if too much rain falls on NYC, owing to a grandfathered-in way of dealing with - or more like not dealing with - excess water in the sewage system, that's a topic for another day though) but I just had a thought, probably really stupid-sounding but...

I wonder if this means that we'll be seeing those "how to recognize a suicide bomber" posters going back up in the NY subways. There was one at my subway station, posted on the wall beside the stairs down to the Coney Island bound tracks for a long time - it just went away late last year or early this year.

What a world we live in today. I realize that one of the disturbing things is that I wasn't even surprised. Overwhelmingly sad, yes. Replaying my memories of 9/11 again, naturally (isn't everyone).

But not surprised.


I don't even know what to say but I felt like it would be disrespectful to not say something.

If anyone is reading from England, particularly London - I'm so sorry.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Another quick thought -

Reflecting one more time about where all that vehemence came from -

I guess you could call all of it my own backlash to the backlash to gay marriage.

Left Something Out.

Late-night update here -

I realize I left out something very important.


The whole starting point of this rant was that off-the-cuff comment discussion about Loup and I had about bumper stickers we'd like to see, and Scott Chicken seeing the discussion and running with it.

Marriage = heart plus heart. That was my original idea that spurred all of this.

That's the common ground shared in both the more secular idea of marriage as a legally recognized relationship involving a certain set of rights that two people have mutually and freely consented to grant each other, and the idea of marriage as a religious ceremony where two people mutually and freely exchange vows of love, respect, and loyalty to each other in the eyes of their God and their community.

Those rights are also tremendous responsibilities, and to truly undertake those responsibilities, I believe, requires that those two people love each other deeply.

I would never accept that level of responsibility for another person's happiness & well-being unless I loved them & knew they returned that feeling.

Nor would I allow anyone to take that kind of responsibility for me unless I genuinely believed that they loved me & I was able to return that in kind.

I'd want there to be some sense that we derived some unique happiness from being with each other that was worth all the sacrifice that sharing your life with another person must entail.

That, I guess, is my ideal of what marriage should be.

I've known gay people who seem to fit that description admirably - except that legally they can't marry each other, so they do their best with commitment ceremonies and if they are fortunate, their families will respect their wishes even if they don't have the backing of the law.

I've known straight people who got married without seeming to understand that marriage isn't about the other person handing you happiness on a plate & called it quits after a few months.

It seems wrong that the latter is considered a legally sanctioned relationship and the former isn't.

As I said in the original post - I think most of us are looking for the same thing.

I'm going to close with a quote from a book I read recently, "Dry", a memoir by Augusten Burroughs.

It's a grim book, a story of alcoholism, it was actually one of those books that was difficult to read but impossible to put down - but there was one sentence, there in the middle of ugliness the likes of which I hope I never have to see any friend of mine go through, there was this sentence that was so universal it almost made me cry -

"Stars should not be seen alone. That's why there are so many. Two people should stand together and look at them. One person alone will surely miss the good ones".

That's a gay person writing - but take it out of context and that could be anyone. I don't know why it was that it resonated with me so strongly but I thought it was the most beautiful description of, well, sort of just what most people, of all varieties, want - not to be alone. To have someone particular who will see things - beautiful things, ugly things - in the same way - sharing those visions freely, yet showing respect for the other where ways of seeing diverge, since no two individuals will ever see everything the same way. If gay people want to reach out & get that, in a legally sanctioned committed relationship - I just can't see the harm in it.

And I'm afraid that the people who are most vehemently in favor of thwarting gay peoole's ability to reach for that are people who, given more power, are the same people who might prefer to see a woman like me somehow considered to be less worthy of consideration than a man - because they've found quotes in the Bible that say that that's what God wants.

I think I've said what I needed to say now.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

1st draft thoughts on gay marriage -

I’d originally planned to go paddling tonight, but the weather’s looking pretty ominous, I’m going over to my friend Larry’s to watch my schooner on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (I don’t have a TV & he was nice enough to respond to my plea for a place to watch), and I’ve got a couple of month-end close reports to run and this post I wanted to do – so it seemed like a better use of time to stay at the office & work through those. So please bear with me as I try to get down some of my thoughts on why I’m in support of gay marriage. It’s really not that complicated, in fact. There are a couple of basic premises I accept & the rest just follows from those.

As I’d mentioned, when the mayor of San Francisco first started marrying gay couples, my initial reaction was more “how weird” than “how cool”. When I think of the word “marriage”, I do definitely picture a man and a woman. That has always been part of my definition of marriage, and I don’t think I ever would have rethought the issue in the way that I have had it not been dragged center-stage first by Mayor Newsome & other officials, then by Bush’s support of an anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment that failed, followed the spate of state constitutional amendments that resulted from those actions. It’s not that I was ever specifically against it – just never thought about it much before.

I wonder how many other people have found themselves rethinking things the same way.

At any rate –

Point 1. I accept the premise that homosexuality is not a choice but an innate (God-given, if you will) tendency. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders 20 years ago and they would be in a position to know - a fact sheet outlining their views can be found here and I'd tend to trust them to know what they're talking about. I’ve read that the original study that keeps cropping up saying that gays are more this or more that than the general populace was actually based on interviews that used a pool of interviewees drawn entirely from people who were already in counseling & so was as skewed as a study of straight people using only people in counseling would be. When I consider my friends who are gay, all of these things make total sense – they’re just as varied a group as my friends who are straight, their lives aren’t all that different, we all want basically the same thing – work, shelter, food, fun, and companionship. I have straight friends who sleep around, I have gay friends who’ve been in committed relationships for years, and vice versa. New York allows that range, very few people of the people I know (and NONE of the people I consider to be friends) feel the need to shoehorn somebody into some preconceived role based on their gender or gender orientation – in fact that’s why I prefer the phrase “my friends who are gay” over “my gay friends” because I define them first as “friends” – “gay” is just a part of who they are.

Speaking of definitions brings me to

Point 2. Society defines marriage, not the other way around. When Bush says “"After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization,” he’s utterly ignoring the fact that that institution has undergone profound changes over and over and over again and somehow none of those changes has ever led to the downfall of marriage itself. There’s an excellent editorial (sorry, registration required & will only be free for a week) in today’s New York Times on that very subject.

Personally, I think that some of the changes that marriage has undergone are for the better. Yes, the divorce rate is up – but that means that the percentage of people trapped in unhappy marriages because of societal disapproval of divorce is down. And I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that marriage is no longer the primary option for women – I have had the choice of being single & independent (and there are definitely some good points to that), rather than marrying someone because that was what society expected of me and that was the only option open to me – particularly had it been at the time when the wife essentially became the husband’s property rather than an equal partnership, as marriages are supposed to be today. Naturally I would have a very different view of matters but I suspect that upbringing aside, I would have had the same questioning spirit I have today, and I don’t think that I would have rested easily in such a situation.

Point 2 is the one that I really started thinking about when the first marriages were being performed in San Francisco. It seemed weird. Why? Because I think of marriage as applying to a man and a woman. Why? Because that’s how society has defined it so far. Can society change definitions if new developments warrant it? Absolutely – in fact I think that the ability to do so is the mark of a healthy society, even if the initial change is difficult. Women’s suffrage was difficult. The emancipation of slaves was difficult. The end of Jim Crow laws was difficult and we have yet to see the end of racism in this country.

The way society has changed its’ views of the roles of women & minorities in society is, I think, particularly relevant here – it brings me to

Point 3 – I strongly believe that our society should not deny rights to ANY group of citizens based on a characteristic that is not a matter of choice, but of birth. Accepting my first point as I do, I was absolutely aghast when Bush began pushing to amend the Constitution to specifically DENY a certain set of rights to a certain subset of people. That struck me as profoundly against the spirit of the Constitution, and I was extremely happy when it failed.

The fact is that the aspect of marriage over which the law has any say isn’t so much the aspect of marriage as a holy sacrament – spiritually, I don’t see how anyone could either stop a minister from or force a minister to perform a commitment ceremony, depending on the beliefs of the minister & the church in question – but the right for two people to enter into a legally recognized relationship involving a whole set of legal rights & responsibilities (the hospital-visitation one strikes a particular nerve as one of my oldest friends, the one who talked me into moving to New York in fact, ended up nursing his AIDS-stricken partner – with whom he’d been so happy – right until the end in the early 90’s – I’m still slightly awestruck that he had the courage & love to do this when he was barely out of college, we in our early 20’s – he was not denied access because this is New York, but the very thought that he could have been legally refused that privilege when they loved each other so much just makes me a little ill to think about it) - and as things stand now, in most states there whole groups of people who are essentially denied the right to enter into such a legal relationship simply because of something they are – and simply because that’s how it’s been up until now.

And that strikes me as wrong.

And it’s time for me to go so I’m just going to fling this up there as is – might come back to it in future & try to clean it up & clarify the if a, then b nature of my line of thought – but it’s a start.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Sorry, I Lied.

Just on line to do some plane ticket shopping for a trip in the fall & just thought I'd leave a quick note here -

I promised that my next post would be about kayaking - well, sorry, I lied. Upon further reflection I think that my next post is going to be one in which I try to lay out my thoughts on gay marriage. Believe me, as a straight woman with a fairly conservative upbringing, when I first heard that the mayor of San Francisco was suddenly marrying gay couples, my initial thought was NOT "Oh, that's great", but "Oooh that's just WEIRD". However after a lot of mulling over my thoughts about what makes a marriage a marriage, and how I have seen people, both gay and straight, acting in relationships, and a lot of other stuff, I came to the conclusion that I couldn't muster a rational argument against gay marriage (whereas I can give you some reasons why I believe that polygamy, adults marrying minors, people marrying animals, and all those other things to which the anti-gay-marriage activists claim gay marriage would lead ARE bad ideas - and not just the obvious "because those are really sick", especially, IMHO, the animals & children ones).

I've been considering doing such a post for a long time - but since I'm really a lot more into talking about paddling than politics, I've been sticking with that, and couldn't ever quite find a context for bringing in my thoughts on gay marriage. I know, "it's my blog" - but the fact is that at this point I have a certain small group of regular readers, several of whom are also kayak bloggers, and unless there's been some specific newsworthy event that makes me so screamingly irate at another demonstration of right-wing ugliness that I just can't keep my mouth shut, I'm not going to do the political things. Because a) it actually just pisses me off MORE to write about them, b) I don't feel like it really does as much good for me to write things here as it does for me to write to the politicians or other people who are actually responsible for whatever it is and c) given that at this point most first-time readers are coming in via Kayak Wisconsin, SeaLevel, or On Kayaks (sorry, will link those later this weekend but if you don't know 'em, they're over in my blogrols!) and are probably more interested in paddling than politics, I sort of feel like when they follow a link here & find a rant, it's a bit of an ambush, and probably not even aimed at the proper audience to do any good.

However - all those reasons why I don't indulge in rants unless I just get to the gotta-say-SOMETHING point (which happens!) aside, now that I've posted this thing about the bumper sticker, I feel like this would be the rational time to post this long-considered essay (and it will be an essay) - it would've been out of context before, but now it makes sense to explain.

The actual explanation - well, it'll take some time & some more-disciplined-than-usual writing. I might do this up on the 4th when I have no plans until the evening when I may or may not join some other P 63 hold people to paddle to watch the Macy's fireworks.

side note re the fireworks paddle - ordinarily this isn't something I've EVER thought was a good idea but the proposed plan this year involves paddling to a marina in Jersey WELL before the show starts, then staying there until the initial post-show bigger-boat stampede (which I always assume, unfairly or not, includes a number of motorboaters who've had a few too many beers - those are the ones I'm flat-out scared of) has quieted down. Still a little "mmm, dunno" about it - the 4th of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day tend to be the 3 days of the year that I just really prefer not to tempt fate & go any major distance in a kayak - at least around here.

OK, gotta go look for plane tix now.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Schooner on Queer Eye + Marriage Equal Rights Bumper Sticker!

Hey, how cool is this - I just found out that my schooner is going to be on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on Tuesday, July 5th at 10 PM on Bravo!

I wasn't working that day but I did eat a lot of the frosted animal crackers with candy sprinkles they left behind.

And on a more serious note (warning, liberal views ahead & NO kayaking, if you want kayaking I promise I'll get back to that in my next post!) -

I sent the following note to one of the bloggers I read regularly - I was going to send it to more of my politically active gay friends & just see if anybody thought it was a good idea - but since Scott Chicken already took the initiative I figured I'd just copy the email & throw it out here, too -

I tossed off a totally off-the-cuff response today to a comment that Loup left after my post about things I like about New York - but actually the more I think about it the more it seems like it might actually be a neat idea if I could get it into the right hands.

The post was inspired by the fact that yesterday morning my entire plans for last night were go home, go for a run, clean house and by the afternoon I was lined up to go watch Jessica Lange & Christian Slater in "The Glass Menagerie" (for less than the price of dinner at a moderate NY restaurant even). That was definitely in "neat things about New York" category. I threw out a couple of other things which are bound to get my conservative relatives really annoyed, including a mention of the fact that living in this wonderfully open-minded city, I have never seen one of those Marriage = Stick Figure Man + Stick Figure Woman + Stick Figure Child" bumper stickers.

Loup made a funny comment about buying some & then doing a little humorous cutting & pasting to make "Marriage = Stick Figure Man + Stick Figure Man" and other variations on the "Marriage =" theme - I responded by saying that the sticker I'd like to buy would be one that says "Marriage = Heart + Heart" (both hearts being identical red ones of the classic I "Heart" NY variety - my idea being to take away the gender or sexual orientation references entirely and just bring it down to the love between two equal individuals - see what I'm getting at?)

The more I think about it the more I think maybe this might be a neat idea for a gay marriage rights organization to use in the same way whoever sells the stick-figur man stick-figure woman stick-figure child ones - fundraising & communicating a message.

You seemed like a really good person off on whom to bounce this thought. What do you think? Good idea? Not so good? If you think it's good can you suggest any group for me to send it on to? I don't want anything for it or anything like that - just seemed, as I said, like it could be a useful idea in the right place.

Was actually planning on just emailing this to a few more people I thought might like the ide & know what to do with it - but then Scott Chicken read the comment, and has already come up with a design! He combined Loup's idea & mine - it's pretty cool!

Now - I just know I have relatives who are reading this and shaking their heads in amazement that I'm saying this, and no, there's nothing you need to know about me that I haven't told you, it's just that ever since college I have known a lot really nice people who are gay. Don't want to go into why's & wherefore's of my stance on gay marriage right now 'cause I'm writing at Kinko's and it would cost me a bazillion dollars to lay out my thinking here - but long story short, I can't think about the gay marriage issue without thinking about the effect that it has on some people of whom I'm very fond.