Sunday, January 31, 2010

Who Likes It Cold?

Photo by Dennis Truett, member of the Chelsea Yacht Club, via CYC clubmate Dennis G. Moonstruck.

Who likes it cold?

Iceboaters, that's who!

Talk about a sport requiring patience. I've talked about the patience of surfers from time to time. Sailing takes patience too sometimes - especially on a boat without an auxiliary motor.

But oh my gosh, I simply can't imagine having a hobby that I might only get to indulge in once or twice a year, if that!

I've been watching the Hudson River Ice Yacht's site for the last couple of seasons. I find it interesting watching them watching & waiting for the ice to be just right. Tivoli Bay up in Dutchess County seems to be the main venue for the sport on the Hudson. I'm so glad they are finally getting some sailing in, because last weekend's report must have been SO hard for them to take! Basically, the winter had been a pretty normal one. Cold but not too cold. The ice yachts need a very specific kind of ice to do their thing - smooth, thick, and expansive. They were getting really close at one point and then we had that blizzard. Snow wrecks the ice for iceboating. So then they were back to waiting and waiting and waiting. Week before last the ice was getting back to almost there. Last Saturday, a couple of them did get out - but then there wasn't any wind in the morning & just enough to tack around a bit later. Then on Sunday and Monday it warmed up & POURED. The warm rain water flowing into the Hudson took a whole lot of the ice out Tivoli Bay & the poor iceboaters had to start their vigil all over again!

This cold snap has finally done the trick for them, and it's a glorious sunny day out there, and the winds look to be a steady 10 kts - maybe not terribly exciting but certainly enough to move a sailing craft along nicely - I bet they are having a great day up there!

Me? Off to play catch-up at work (sort of knew when I took Monday to get an extra day with TQ that I'd have to pay for it) after I do this quick post. Dennis G. Moonstruck had sent me that amazing picture (winner of the Poughkeepsie Journal's Quadricentennial Photo Contest) last week, and I'd sort of been wanting to use it on an iceboating post of some sort, and I was just about to head out when on a cold-inspired whim I checked the iceboat site & saw that they were actually SAILING today!! Woohoo!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Icy Paddle

From Proxigean Paddle!

The proxigean high wasn't the bank-buster it was last year - apparently this time it was the 1 a.m. low that was the big deal (to the point that there had been a warning about it in the marine forecast). But we were already at the club, and breakfast was delicious, and we had a good icy paddle with a toasty woodstove, sandwich fixings and homemade soup & applesauce waiting at the clubhouse when we finished (the food was a nice surprise, I only thought we were getting breakfast.

The photo is of my spare paddle, a Greenland paddle I carry on my front deck at all times except when I'm using it (at which point the Euroblade becomes the spare). It became a very icy paddle on our icy paddle!

Personally, I think this was probably the coldest weather I have ever paddled in. I usually start to shy away when I start seeing temperatures in the teens. I definitely don't remember ever collecting as much ice as I did today!

Full photo trip report at the link above!

Thanks to all the clubmates who instigated!

cross-posted at the Sebago Canoe Club Blog

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Winter's back, and Proxigean Tide approaches!

Nice little thaw we had there for a few days. There was hardly any ice in the Allegheny at all. Saturday was about as nice a paddling day as you could ask for out there.

Looks like the same was true here, too!

We now return to our regularly scheduled season.

I hope Saturday behaves itself - we've got another proxigean tide coming up on Saturday, and Sebago's been plotting a proper Proxigean Paddle. I'm particularly psyched because proxigee makes the highs higher & the lows lower, and the timing of the last one was good for catching the looooow low, and this time we'll be out on the other end of the cycle seeing the high high water. Conditions permitting, some of us want to head out to Ruffle Bar - there's a marsh there that lets you paddle quite far into the island at normal high water& we're wondering if with this, we might be able to paddle all the way through to the beach on the other side! Whether we can or not, it'll be most interesting to see the flipside of the extreme tide I posted about back in December '08.

And there's definitely a chance of seals!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And The Moral Of the Story Is...(plus I can't resist a safety plug)

The Moral Of the Story: If you are a one-eyed, pot-smoking, deer-poaching lobsterman from Maine, and you come upon a couple of hapless kayakers floundering about in 47-degree water, and there's any one or two items in that description of yourself that you'd really rather not have widely aired, you might want to ask a few questions about those paddlers' occupations (and maybe have them sign a non-disclosure agreement of some sort) BEFORE you save their okoles.*

Stop there if you prefer your Frogma "lite". Here comes the part where I get all serious-like.

Safety Plug Which I Can't Resist:

OK, more seriously, the writer did list a couple of basic safety precautions that she & her husband failed to take that could've turned the whole thing into the minorest of adventure (as TQ likes to say "It's not an adventure 'til something goes wrong") - it doesn't sound like they were dressed for the water, they didn't check the weather, and they left some seriously must-have pieces of their kits (flares, whistles, radio & spare paddles) at home.

They were very lucky, and I suspect they will Never, Ever, EVER make those mistakes again.

And hopefully a few other people will learn from their now well-publicized mistakes, too.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you can probably guess what's next -

Yep, here comes the part where for the umpty-zillionth time, I recommend some much nicer ways to learn the hazards of cold water boating!

Here are a couple of my favorite cold-water boating sites -

Chuck Sutherland's Off-Season Boating site has been on my blogroll since Day 1, I think -

And of course the incredibly comprehensive Expert Center maintained by Bill & Janice Lozano of Atlantic Kayak Tours has a very thorough section on hypothermia.

An even better way to learn is to attend a cold-water workshop - these usually tend to happen earlier in the off-season, but it's certainly worth checking in with your local outfitters or clubs to see what's going on in your area. For example, I see that the Small Boat Shop in S. Norwalk, CT has their Cold Water Workshop scheduled on January 30th, this coming Saturday. I can't make it this year & I'm bummed, theirs is a favorite of mine because it's one of the few where participants can actually get geared up & jump into some SERIOUSLY cold water. Here's my "trip report" from last year (featuring the coldest water I'd ever rolled in).

Nothing happening near you? You can still watch people cold-shocking their tails off for the boating-safety cause - there's a great set of videos produced by Cold Water Boot Camp (the Canadian original - the Canadians know a thing or twenty about water of the cold variety) and the experiment's been successfully repeated here in the US by Cold Water Boot Camp USA (I know one of those guys through the Small Boat Shop, he was one of their workshop speakers last year - as a person who has voluntarily been put into a state of mild hypothermia, he has some good firsthand stories).

Note, slightly later - I think Mark is one of the Small Boat Shop's speakers again this year!

Y'know, I really started out meaning to take a five-minute break from work to slap together a quick funny post. It's very hard to take off-season boating safety lightly, though.

*as usual, credit where it's due, thank you to the netizens of the NYCKayaker email list for bringing this story to my attention - it ran while I was in PA, I would've missed it if it hadn't become the topic of the liveliest debate in a long time!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Winter? I'd like to bag it!

The Bag:

The book is a standard-sized paperback - it's there for scale, but I will mention that I just discovered Hiaasen this winter through my building's unofficial book exchange (aka the coffee table in the laundry room) and have been on a total kick - tons of fun!

The Big Bag:

The Really Big Bag:

Y'know, I wouldn't mind winter so much if it weren't for all the stuff!

I just finished packing for 3 days out in PA with TQ. In the summertime, that would be the first bag - "The Bag". La la la.

A winter weekend?

I could easily have gone with option #3 - "The Really Big Bag" (originally purchased for traveling to a kayak camping trip in Canada).

In the interest of rush-hour mobility, I pared things down to Option #2 - the big bag - but I had to add a small supplementary bag (daytrip size, not shown) to do it!

Ugh! I Hate Winter!

Of course the reason for the supplementary bag is that the Allegheny River is not yet frozen solid, just skim ice as of today - I've got my drysuit in the big bag because paddling IS on the weekend's program. In January! Should be fun. I won't hate that.

Still, I'm really looking forward to packing for >Hawaii by comparison. Probably looking at around 10 days, I have a carryon that's a little bigger than Bag #1 here & as long as I have some sort of laundry access, I should totally be able to avoid checking bags. Travelling to warm places is so much easier!

Oh, hey, and speaking of Hawaii - there was a fun surprise on MSN travel this week. Travel writer Beth Collins married a guy from Hawaii, loved the place so much they moved there for a a while & still visit his parents whenever they can. Usually these articles that purport to give you "Hawaii's secret places" are still giving you sort of tourist-focused spots, and pricey ones too (maybe they're secret because normal people can't afford them?) - but Ms. Collins's Oahu Exposed? Well, there are at least 5 things on her list that were already on my tentative itinerary for my trip out there, 6 if you count "eating shave ice" although I will probably get my fix at Aoki's, and it's nothing short of mindboggling to see absolute fixtures of "small kid time" memories like the Aiea Loop Trail (I feel like I did about a hundred hikes & picnics with the Girl Scounts at the Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area where that trail is - I wonder if you can still see the old Japanese war plane wreckage, we used to love scaring each other by saying we saw bones down there...) and the Waimalu Shopping Plaza (SHIRO'S SAIMIN YAY!) mentioned on a travel article designed for mainland consumption!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Frogma Is 5!

Happy Bloggiversary to you,
Happy Froggiversary to you,
Happy Amphibibloggiversary, dear Frogma,
Froggy-Bloggy-Versary to you!

Yep, five years ago I sat down at this very desk (but a waaaaay older computer) and typed up my very first blog post - What's a Frogma? You see, I had the name a long time before I had the blog & that post was the story of where I got it (a lot of you know but if you don't & you wondered, well, there it is).

Oh, and if you don't know, you probably missed the post where we had a lot of fun with "ogma's"! (hey, look, it's my old comments!)

I honestly didn't give it a month. I'd tried keeping journals plenty of times. I think the record was maybe a week. But journals were never anywhere NEAR that much pun. I mean fun. No, I mean pun (and boy were those some mean puns)!

Anyways - you know what I mean, right?

Thanks EVERYBODY for making it that way - this blog seriously wouldn't have made it this long if it weren't for all the people I've met doing this!

Here's a funny thing - in that very first post, I mentioned that at the time I came up with the name, the only other use of the word that Mr. Google found was the name of "some band in Denmark or someplace".

Well, I don't know where I got Denmark, they were actually from Newcastle upon Tyne, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that tonight, five years after I first piggybacked this blog onto a name they'd been using all along , I actually listened to the music of the ORIGINAL Frogma for the very first time!

You see, when I started this blog, I was using an older computer. It was a good one, the friend who passed it on to me is an IT professional & had to have the absolute latest & greatest to be able to work from home on days when he was on call & so his secondhand computer was probably about a hundred times better than anything I would've ever bought for myself - but it never made noise because I never got around to buying speakers! So when I googled Frogma, I was in a words-and-pictures world. Tonight was the first time I was thinking about Frogma the band since I got the new computer, and I thought - "Oh, that's right, it was a band first - I could actually HEAR them now!"

Liked what I heard, too. At some point, they split up & moved on to other bands, but their MySpace page is still there - go on & have a listen for yourself!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Feel So Old!!!!!

I'm really bad at celebrity spotting.

A couple of my co-workers came back from lunch all giddy because they think they may have seen Hugh Jackman.

OK. I know who he is.

Another co-worker was moved to reminisce about a Ryan Reynolds sighting she'd had sometime last year.

Er...Ryan who? OK, beginning to feel a little behind the times.

Well, I'm really bad at spotting celebrities, so in the spirit of conversation, I decided to share my ultimate "Just how bad AM I at spotting celebrities? This bad!" story.

There was a period of time in the early 00's when I was taking classes at a gym that had been all the rage among the stars in the 80's, still had a scattering of luminous clientele when I was attending, probably still does today. I ended up there because the guy I thought of as my kayak coach at the time had been an instructor there for years & was running winter classes for paddlers - it was tons of fun, he was a really good trainer. We had a really stupid falling-out a year or two down the road, never patched things up, but to this day I still have to give him credit for being the first person to really teach me how to do a good, balanced, non-boring, dry-land workout (before that I only really knew how to work out in the water).

For a couple of weeks, my class schedule was such that I was always in the locker room at the same time as this very nice, very attractive older African American lady. We got to the point where we'd chitchat a bit as we were getting ready for class - I can't really remember about what (except that she mentioned her daughter a couple of times, with a lot of affection) - well, finally one week she was talking about how she was getting ready for a show & it finally dawned on me that she was Eartha Kitt.

Eartha Kitt!!! I had failed to recognize Eartha Kitt!!!

So that (less the explanation of what I was even doing at a gym with famous people in the first place, which I just threw in here because hey, it actually makes the story kayak-relevant!!!) is the story that I occasionally tell to entertain people with my total inability to tell the famous from the unfamous.

So I spun my yarn, expecting the usual laughter -

And co-worker #4 looked at me & said "Who's Eartha Kitt?"


PS - A note about that lovely picture of Eartha: NO, I did NOT suddenly go all crazed fangirl on her & demand an autographed picture. I borrowed the picture above from a true autograph hound (speaking of cute! hee hee). I think part of why people like her went to this gym was because it was pretty small & pretty serious & they could attend & work out like normal people - we were all there to do the same thing, get fit, not gawk or be gawked at. When the light finally did dawn, I guess I did have a brief "OMG, you're..." impulse, but I quelled it, didn't think it would be very nice.

But I still think it's pretty amazing that I just didn't figure out who she was right off the bat, y'know?

Monday, January 18, 2010


I saw this at the top of Summit to Shore's blogroll, on Presbyterian Bloggers, and I just watched it & thought I would post it too.

I've read the text but I don't know if I've ever watched the whole speech, beginning to end. Gave me shivers. And beyond the speech itself, what an amazing gathering of courage & dignity there was on the Mall that day.

I don't know that I'd say our country has quite reached "the solid rock of brotherhood." But how much less progress would we have made along "the sunlit path of racial justice" without Dr. King & the people who were brave enough to follow him?

Thanks to all of them & especially Dr. King. Would he were still with us today.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sails For Sustenance

Just in on the comments - here's an interesting not-for-profit that sends used sails to fishing villages in Haiti, Sails for Sustenance.

Shopping for a new suit of sails, and wondering what to do with your used sails? This seems like a good way to do some good with them.

I suspect that with the current crisis, cash donations to relief organizations like Doctors Without Borders would probably be more crucial, but this seems like a really nice idea for people of the sailor persuasion to keep in mind down the road - and this blog has been around long enough that it seems to do well in Google searches, so I'm posting this in hopes that down the road, people googling "Old sails", "Recycling old sails", "Getting rid of old sails", "Donating old sails" may stumble across this.

Thanks, Baydog!

(and here's a good video for a dreary day in January)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Reid Stowe & Schooner Anne, 1000 Days At Sea

Schooner Anne heads to sea for 1000 days
Schooner Anne, Atlantic-bound, 4/21/2007

Originally posted a couple of days before the actual 1000th day. Reposting with minor edits on 1/16/2010, to coincide the actual date of the 1000th day at sea.

The pictures here are from Flickr gallery of the photos I took the day they left.

Reid Stowe, one of my dock neighbors back in the Pier 63 days, is coming up on his 1000th day at sea has been at sea for 1000 days, non-stop! Full details about the celebration are over on the 1000 Days website - this afternoon there was an event at the South Street Seaport Museum, and I expect that the party at the nearby pub is in full swing right now.

Congratulations to Reid, to Soanya (what a trouper that young lady turned out to be), and all the people from Pier 63 & beyond who worked together to make it happen. You guys must all be so proud!

Later note - There's a post over on H2uh0, gives a pretty good rundown of the entire trip to date.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

One more moment of serious -

Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti
(click on the picture to go to Doctors Without Borders)

Text “Haiti” to 90999 To Donate $10 To American Red Cross Efforts.

(Mahalo, Senor Caballo for solving yet another massive cripes-I-hate-to-just-ignore-this-but-I-have-nothing-worth-saying moment)

We Now Return To Our Regular Frivolous Programming

Hey! Look! Visible Light! At 5 P.M.! HURRAY!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More Controversy!!!!!!!

Holy (sea) cow, it's, like, totally, Controversy Week here at the normally mild-mannered Frogma blog!


Thank you, Adam!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another interesting link re Paul Watson/Sea Shepherd -

Here's something really interesting about Paul Watson, the man behind Sea Shepherd & the Ady Gil - Greenpeace's take.

Irony and the Ady Gil

You heard about this, right? The collision between the Ady Gil, that ultraspiffy, futuristic, carbon-neutral Batboat-thing that the Sea Shepherd organization is (oops, was) using as part of their campaign to harass whalers in Antarctica, and the Sh┼Źnan Maru 2, part of the Japanese whaling fleet? Been a lot of talk about it on the internet. I've watched the various videos & personally, I've got no idea who was actually at fault in the collision (I think COLREGS say that when 2 boats collide, both skippers are at fault, but I also think that's assuming that no skipper would ever actually want to hit another boat, which in the case of these Sea Shepherd folks is clearly not always the case - I'm not saying that that's what happened this time, just that historically - well, keep reading).

If I had to put money on what happened, I think I'd go with a scenario close to the one Commenter #3, Andy (not Sebago clubmate Andy, another Andy) lays out over on the Old Salt Blog. As long as betting is optional, though, I think I will just keep my money in my pocket.

Still - I will just toss out one observation that I've left on a couple of blogs -

I think it’s ironic that Sea Shepherd’s screaming about the sinking of the Ady Gil, while simultaneously selling t-shirts featuring a list of those boats that they themselves claim to have rammed or sunk.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Shortest Trip Report I Will Ever Write!

Go fish,
No fish!

OK, OK, I can't just leave it at that. This was my first fishing trip since I was in high school & although the herring weren't around today, I found that I do still enjoy it very much. Possibly more than I did when I was a kid - maybe I'm better at waiting now. It was cold, but I was properly bundled up (as you can see) & had my usual thermos of hot cider, it was a gorgeous day & it was just kind of nice hanging out watching the water going by.

Andy gave me a ride & our first stop was at Stella Maris, a fishing shop in Sheepshead Bay. They had a nice inexpensive light rod & reel kit, so now I have a new toy that I think I will probably play with again.

I think it helped that I'd been watching "Lotek's" reports over the week, so my expectations weren't too high! Andy definitely plans to keep watching the reports & if & when we start getting schools in Jamaica Bay (apparently these are an all or nothing kind of fish - when they turn up, it's in droves - if they haven't, you could fish all day & not get a nibble), he said he'll organize another trip.

My January weekends already seem to be getting busy - but if it happens when I'm around, I'll definitely join that!

Thanks, Andy!

Friday, January 08, 2010





Lovable Shmoo!


How do you do?


Yodelay hee hoo!

Here's a Hullabaloo, And Now I'm Through!


(OK, that's it, I'm finally adding a tag for Just Plain Silly!)

Callooh, Callay!

And on top of everything else, I think I'm bundling up & going fishing tomorrow! YAY!

(hm, although it doesn't look like the herring are jumping just quite yet. Still game to give it a try, though.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Oh Frabjous Day!

Reasons I'm very happy, in no particular order:

My camera revived, just before I was going to pack it up & send it back to B&H for replacement.

I got a very nice apology from the CEO of Echo about the business with their customer support staff. I genuinely appreciated it.

I got my replacement replacement drysuit from Kokatat.

I've worked things out that I get to go on another sealwatching trip AND work in a visit with TQ in January (I was afraid it was going to be one or the other).

I got an email from TQ, he got a full-time job! He's living in an area with very high unemployment & work's been hard to come by. He's been making ends meet with a couple of different part-time jobs but it's been a long & occasionally lean year for him, so I'm thrilled he's got a solid 40 hours a week now.

And my boss gave me permission to take time off this summer to attend my 25th h.s. reunion.

In Hawaii!


I'm just a trifle excited about this, can you tell?



Just in today from the USCG:



There's an interesting page giving a good bit more information at the

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Interesting idea re comments -

6:30 pm update - Guess what, I just got the nicest email apology from Echo's CEO.

I'm suddenly feeling a lot less ruffled & a lot more inclined to just leave things as they are for a while, see if some of the glitchy stuff in Echo gets smoothed out & the system gets easier to use (especially signing in & allowing links to websites).

If it does, I'd be inclined to give it another go.

Hm. I just clicked one of the links on my spiffy updated blogroll & found myself looking at an interesting possible solution to this loss-of-comments issue. Alan at Some Amusing Blog Pun, who was also using Haloscan, gave me the idea.

It's simple. I could just start a new blog. Same as the old one. Last post on the old one links to the new one & explains. Sidebar on the new one include a one-item blogroll linking to Frogma - The First Five Years. I keep my JS-Kit account & re-install the widget that keeps the old comments alive here on v.1, while the new blog moves on with Blogger comments.

I'm slightly reluctant to do it because I do like having the blog all here on one blog (it already bugs the heck out of me that my photos are on 3 different sites - does that make me anal-retentive?). And I actually remember the comments that I really liked pretty well, and once I became resigned to the fact that they'd killed Haloscan "make-die-dead" (Hawaiian pidgin for really, really dead) & really was no magic way for them to get those comments into Blogger, I was pretty much ready to drop it & move on. Although cripes, I did get another nastygram from Customer Supportress this morning, devoid of useful information & as far as I could tell serving the sole purpose of getting the last word in. Can you tell that at this point I'm honestly more annoyed at how rudely I've been treated than I am about the comments?

Oh, yes, the comments! That's what this was about. Not whining. Sorry!

So there it is - this idea of preserving the old comments by starting Frogma Volume 2 (The Next Five Years?), and I'm really on the fence, and...

Well, what do you guys think? I'd really like to hear!

Does anybody ever even look at the older comments? Would it be worth the discontinuity of a 2-part blog to preserve them? Or are comments a thing of the moment, fleetingly fun, then left behind?

On the plus side for leaving things as is, when things got really good in comments, I have had a tendency to want to highlight the fun in a subsequent post, so those are still there either way. And in fact, it is pretty easy to turn JS-Kit on & off on Blogger - I'm thinking that it may be worth a few bucks' ransom a year just to keep 'em alive over there, instead of downloaded into what would basically be a deep archive (once I put the xml thing on my external hard drive, dollars to donuts I never look at it again) and over time, I could append some of the livelier comment streams to the posts that inspired them.

Yup. Definitely coming up with more options now that I've given up on getting any satisfaction from the folks at JS-Kit (ok, an apology would actually be nice, but beyond that, whatevahs).

And Alan, thanks again for getting me to think beyond the obvious options.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Who's Tough?

Who's tough?

Brooklyn herring fishermen, that's who!

But so kind too - that sweet, sweet man, rescuing a poor chilly chicken & taking it someplace warm...


Me, I didn't leave my apartment on Sunday. It just sounded too cold outside, the rattling branches & the moaning winds. There were errands I could have run. I didn't.

Let's see, who else is tough? Oh, Marcus and Biff are tough. Looks like good progress so far. Hope they continue to do well once they turn the corner to the more open coast.

Oh, and O-Docker & his happy waving spouse are tough, too. Such fiendishly brutal conditions! How do they stand it?

BTW, The herring fishing link that sort of got me going on the "Who's tough?" line (I always admire the fisherfolk as being others who stay out there when conditions are less than smiling blue summer-sky calm) was sent by "AndyTechie", a clubmate at Sebago & one of the other members of the Sebago blog. He's a fisherman himself & is doing his best to get some other clubmates "hooked" ha ha - at the Frostbite Regatta, he told us a little bit about herring fishing when the herring are running, and weather, fish & time frames permitting, he's going to organize a kayakless club outing to Canarsie Pier & show people how!

Scheduling allowing, I really hope to join in on that fun. He said even people who never fished before in their life would like it. Well, I haven't been fishing since I was a kid, but I loved it then & I don't see why I wouldn't still like it now.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Brief return to JS-Kit comment thing - and A Tale of Two Help Desks.

JS-Kit support staff has evidently returned from vacation, so I have turned their system back on in hopes that they can do whatever it is they need to do so that will allow me to turn their system off without losing five years of comments.

Somebody referred to my "optimism" recently! :D

Afternoon update - or - It was the best of help desks, it was the worst of help desks.

Funny thing is, I got to deal with both on the same day!

The Worst of Help Desks:

I'm turning the Echo comment system back off & returning to Blogger's. That silly idea I had that somehow they could transfer the old Haloscan stuff into Blogger? The customer "support" rep straightened me out (and about as gently as Cesar straightens out a really obstreporous dog, too). Customer support? More like customer suppress. I guess I shouldn't be too upset, Haloscan was available as a free service and I never gave them any money, but it is a bit of a bummer to basically lose almost 5 years worth of comments (there's a way to export so I can store them on my hard drive at home, but you can't import them to Blogger - there are a few ways to import the file to other comment systems but from what I've read, they take a good bit more technical know-how & time than I possess).

My favorite part of the exchange? Well, I found out on I think it was Monday of Christmas week that I had 14 days to "upgrade". I was forced into a middle-of-the-holidays system switch. I didn't have time to deal with it during the week of Christmas. I finally started messing around with it on Monday of the following week, discovered I had issues pretty quickly, emailed the help desk on Monday night. Got an answer Tuesday which didn't really answer the question I'd asked. Well, I'd worded my question badly. I tried to clarify what I was asking but got no answer. Figured out the thing about old Blogger vs. new Blogger, emailed again, still no answer.

Customer support had basically hung up on me after the morning of the 29th.

This morning's email included this helpful advice:

"Please make sure you are contacting us not in a weekend or on holidays if you need an immediate assistance."

I absolutely can't understand why JS-Kit decided to do this switch over a period of time when they must have KNOWN they were going to be short-staffed (like every single company in this country during the last 2 weeks of the year). Seems like if a company is providing a service that a lot of people use, and decides to suddenly spring a profound change to that service on those people, the absolute first thing they'd want to do is make sure that all hands will be on deck to help their users through the transition.

Oh well.

On the plus side, hey, that did finally inspire me to update my blogrolls, which were hopelessly out of date!

The Best of Help Desks:

To close on a positive note, here's a similar topic, only different! I have just got to say that folks at the B&H Photo Live Chat support center ROCK. I finally broke my old WP20 over Thanksgiving. Might have been fixable, but I'd been thinking about getting a new one anyways, the WP80 had some appealing features & I'd apparently also managed to somehow abrade the surface of the 20's lens just enough that once a blob of water got on it, it wouldn't come off without being wiped off with a dry piece of cotton. Fine as long as I could get into my dayhatch, but that didn't work in rough stuff like, oh, f'r'instance, heavy chop off Montauk:
From 5 Years Around Long Island, Year 3

(that's a new album, btw, finally got to uploading those over the holidays but didn't quite manage captions yet, so it's 140 pictures, 0 explanations, give me another weekend or two & there'll be a storyline there!)

So when I finally dropped the WP20 for the last time (the shortest little fall, in a padded bag even, but enough to jar something in just the wrong way), instead of sending the old one back to Pentax for repair, I just decided to go for the WP80. I went to B&H on 11/29/2009 & came home with a pretty blue one.

On 1/1/2010, without one bit of abuse, the new one simply stopped working. It was past the 15 day return date. I wasn't expecting an exchange when I contacted their chatline, I was just trying to figure out whether I should send it to Pentax or bring it back to the store (I'd bought the B&H extended warranty service so I wasn't sure which was right). I described the problem. "What's your email?" typed Nathan. I provided that. "Do you still have the packaging?" he asked. "Yes", I typed. "OK, I just emailed you a return authorization. We'll exchange that for you."


Saturday, January 02, 2010