Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Brooklyn Bovine. 10:30 PM, Atlantic Avenue

Update, 2/29/2012: O-Docker has left a fascinating suggestion about where the cow may have come from in the comments - click on the comments to see. Now that we've settled where the cow came from, the next thing want to know how on earth he knew that. I mean, everybody knows about the alligators in the sewers, but how on earth does a person happen to know about subterranean cows?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bad News from PortSide NewYork (Meeting Monday, 2/27 in Brooklyn)

Originally posted Tuesday, 2/21 - reposting due to time-sensitive nature of topic, and also after seeing an excellent post on the topic over at the Old Salt Blog that was passed on by the Working Harbor Committee. It was also in this week's edition of WaterWire. Glad to see the news going around & I wanted to join in by bringing this back up to the top this morning.
I had 2 changes of plans this weekend. One is going to keep this post short and sweet - after more or less recovering from a period of startup hiccups last Fall, my home computer died this weekend, so I just dropped off the box at a Staples halfway out to Coney Island & figure I'll head on out there now instead of going into the city to visit the South Street Seaport Museum.

The other changed plan was yesterday, when after receiving some jarring news from Carolina, the founder of PortSide NewYork, one of my "Favorite Local Not-For-Profits" (see sidebar for that list), I ended up spending the afternoon posting flyers in the South Slope. It's a rough situation & if I was working on my own computer, I'd try to take the time to describe it for you - but since I'm not, I'll just ask you to head on over to PortSideNewYork.org to read it for yourself. PortSide NewYork runs some wonderful programs and events on board the retired tanker Mary A. Whalen and other waterfront locations (local kayakers, for example, enjoy the organization's Kayak Valet days, where you can paddle to Valentino Pier and go explore the neighborhood and grab a lobster roll, a key lime pie, or a sit-down lunch in one of Red Hook's nice restaurants, while volunteers make sure nobody takes your boat out for a test paddle or worse). The photo above is one of a set that I took during her 70th birthday party in December 2008. I hope everything works out that her 75th (December 2013) will be in a long term home!

Hope to see lots of local boaters & fans of the waterfront at the meeting next Monday

Mon 2/27, 6:30-8:30pm
Long Island College Hospital (LICH)
Conference Rooms A & B
339 Hicks Street, Brooklyn NY 11201
Corner of Atlantic Avenue & Hicks Street
Enter on Hicks Street at some raised steps
Parking garage across Hicks Street
Can't make the meeting? Join us afterwards at
Montero's Bar until 10:30pm across Atlantic Avenue from LICH just south of Hicks.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Newtown Creek Meeting TONIGHT (2/23/2012)

Oh shoot, nearly past the point of there being any point in posting this now, but just in case - there's a meeting tonight about Newtown Creek that should be interesting for local boaters & waterfront fans (especially those in the neighborhoods of Bushwick, Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn; and Maspeth, Ridgewood, Sunnyside and Long Island City in Queens). Full details here.

I learned about while I wasa passing out flyers for next monday's PortSide NewYork meeting - stopped to talk to the gentleman who was working at the Riverkeeper table at the farmer's market near the Gowanus Old Stone House Park & he told me about it. The NYCKayaker list has been discussing it all week - I can't make it myself but I'd meant to at least post it here - with no home computer, I spaced until now. Better late than never, but sooner would've been better. :(

JK Rowling News (I mean as long as I'm being all literaryish and ish)

Just out today on the company email.

Press Release: Deals Done
Little, Brown To Publish J.K. Rowling's First Novel For Adults

Posted at 2:36PM Thursday 23 Feb 2012

Little, Brown Book Group and Little, Brown and Company are delighted to announce that they will publish J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults worldwide in the English language, both in print and ebooks.

David Shelley, Publisher, Little, Brown Book Group, will be J.K. Rowling's editor and will be responsible for publication in the United Kingdom with Michael Pietsch, Executive Vice President of Little, Brown and Company, responsible for publication in the United States. The book will be published by Hachette in Australia and in New Zealand and by Hachette's companies and normal appointed agents for the English language in other markets.

The title, the date for the worldwide publication and further details about the novel will be announced later in the year.

J.K. Rowling said:

"Although I've enjoyed writing it every bit as much, my next book will be very different to the Harry Potter series, which has been published so brilliantly by Bloomsbury and my other publishers around the world. The freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry's success has brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical progression to have a new publisher. I am delighted to have a second publishing home in Little, Brown, and a publishing team that will be a great partner in this new phase of my writing life."

David Shelley said:

"Tim Hely Hutchinson, Ursula Mackenzie and I, and the whole team at Little, Brown in the UK, along with our colleagues David Young and Michael Pietsch at Little, Brown in the USA, are thrilled, honoured and proud to be publishing J.K. Rowling's new book.

"For me, quite simply, it is a personal and professional dream come true to be working with J.K. Rowling. She is one of the best storytellers in the world, and I am looking forward enormously to helping bring her new novel for adults to her fans and admirers, and to introducing her writing to new readers the world over."

J.K. Rowling was represented by Neil Blair of The Blair Partnership.

Note/disclosure thingy: I work for the US publisher of the Harry Potter series, which is why I have this before it's even a hot topic on Yahoo (woohoo!). We're still her publisher for children's books, she's just ready to try something different. I'm actually really looking forward to seeing what she comes up with - I'd honestly never picked up a Harry before I came to work here, despite the fact that Books 1-4 had all been out for some time & it was already an acknowledged phenomenon. I mentioned this to a co-worker, who promptly informed me that that just wouldn't do and loaned me Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone. I was instantly hooked, of course!

2nd note, a little later - Wow. Yahoo is kind of slow on the uptake, aren't they? At least relatively. Story on the company intranet says "The announcement caused immediate excitement in the social media world — within mere minutes, 'JK Rowling' was trending on Twitter, as thousands of fans showed their support.". As of somewhere around 11:30, Yahoo still wasn't on it. Oh, and in case you were wondering (I know I was), the story also says, "While everyone's clamoring for details, there's little to share: the title, the date for the worldwide publication and further details about the novel will be announced later in the year."

3rd note, later still: Aha! 12:22 pm and Yahoo FINALLY has this as a top story. Took them long enough!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Really Cranky Book Review

Lifted more or less straight from this morning's Facebook status:

Moment at which I realized I should have just dropped the stupid Dan Brown knockoff back in the early chapters when we went back from modern-day Barcelona to a battle between the Knights Templar* and the oh-so-mystical Seven Knights of Moriah --

Chapters and chapters later, back in the present, when our hero makes the following discovery after he and our heroine drive up to a mountain to watch the submarine races, while a satanic cult continues to knock off their friends back in town:

"It's Ursa Major, María. On your back. The freckles are shaped just like Ursa Major...on your skin. It's you, María. You're the key."


And there's a David Sedaris waiting at home for me in bed. Sheeesh.

*Wait, wait, was it the Knights Templar that the 7K's of M were fighting, or was it Catalunyan separatists? Oh, whatevahs. Same diff.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cold Water Workshop at the SBS, Saturday, 2/18/2012



photos by Ric Klinger of the Small Boat Shop.

Oh shoot! I usually like to give a LOT more notice than this, because the Small Boat Shop runs one of my favorite cold-water workshops anywhere, but with TQ and I not helping out this year (first time in a long time), it totally snuck up on me.

Are you a seasonal boater who's ever listened to your frostbiter friends talking about their winter adventures & thought that it sounds like tons of fun? Maybe just want to extend your boating season to later in the fall and earlier in the spring? This workshop is a great chance to learn the things you need to know to do so safely. People who already are year round boaters can get something out of it, too - could be fun to bring your winter-curious friends, and personally, I just think an occasional review is a good idea even if you've been going out in the winter for ages.

Saturday morning, 2/18/2012, various boating safety experts will be at the Small Boat Shop in South Norwalk, CT. to teach you what you need to know, and at the end, anyone who wants to can put on some cold-water gear and put it to the test right there in Norwalk Harbor! Probably won't be ice like we had last year (that was FUN), but that water will still be good and cold & you'll see just what a good job the gear does of protecting you and extending the time you can function in the water. You can try the shop's gear, or bring your own - this is an excellent chance to test things out with supervision right there & a warm shop, hot drinks, and hot showers yards away.

The dry-land session begins at 10:30 am; there's usually a quick lunch break around noon, followed by the gearing-up (a lesson in and of itself!) and then, come on in, the water's COLD!

For full details, visit thesmallboatshop.com

Thursday, February 16, 2012



So the very day that I was grumbling about Valentine's Day, my significant other turned up at the romantic Italian restaurant to which I had (rather unimaginatively, being dull that way) invited him for dinner toting the absolute sweetest Valentine's Day present I've ever received.

OK. It was chocolate.

But it was no boring Whitman's in a circulatory-organ-shaped box. Oh, no, no, no. My honey has not got much of a sweet tooth but if there's one exception to that rule, it's really good, rich chocolate, so when he set out to get me chocolates, he came up with a fantastic combo.

There were 3 different kinds:

1. Mast Brothers chocolate. Brooklyn's FINEST. Five BARS of Brooklyn's finest, each one a different flavor. This stuff is so artisanal it's got batch numbers. Hmmm, I wonder if it would be possible to figure out whether this is schooner chocolate?

2. 2 packets (4 discs) of Taza Mexican chocolate - with chipotle chiles! Because I have been on this mad chipotle chile kick with my cooking since sometime late in the summer. I had gotten a large bag of these smoke-dried jalapenos at a butcher shop on Cortelyou Road that carries a nice selection of Mexican spices. I don't remember what I got them for & they sat in the back of the cupboard for ages, but one day I was cooking something totally random that I would never usually add chiles to (may have been chicken soup, actually), and I threw in a couple just for kicks & because they'd been sitting around for a long time and holy cow, it was delicious! So since then, I think every soup or stew I've made has had a couple of chipotles in it. So TQ got me chipotle chile chocolate. I broke into one of those tonight & the other thing I notice is that the chile is the perfect foil for the one thing we didn't like about the plain Taza, the time we got one for dessert at Bierkraft - the ingredients couldn't be simpler, cacao beans and cane sugar, and the chocolate flavor was fantastic but we both found it to be a bit sweeter than we like. Add that smoky spicy chipotle and oh my. I have GOT to restrain myself & save the other packet to share with TQ, he's going to love this stuff.

Come to think of it, I better share the Mast Brothers too, or the poor guy is gonna find his girlfriend's getting curvier than might be considered optimal (plus there's a drysuit I need to keep being able to put on if we're going to have any more paddling dates this winter)!

So. Mast Brothers. Taza chipotle. So far so good, right?

Oh yes, but I've been saving the best for last.

What really knocked the gift right out of the park, as far as I was concerned, was the third riff on the chocolate theme:


Is this brilliant, or what?

These are too big for me to try until I can share one with TQ (we thought about splitting one after dinner last night but we'd both had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner & were feeling pretty full & drowsy & further libations just didn't seem necessary...yep, that's my story & this is a G-rated blog so I'm sticking to it) so I don't know how it is yet. I bet it's going to be delicious but no matter how it tastes, I already love it as a fantastic bit of thinking outside the (candy) box.

That's my guy!

Next year, I may not grumble about Valentine's Day as much! :D

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Paddling Long Island - new guidebook, coming soon!

Woohoo! I got some fun news in the email this week.

Sometime last winter, after things had thawed out enough to get out, I and a few of my Sebago clubmates had the pleasure of taking author Kevin Stiegelmaier out for an afternoon. Kevin is the author of the soon-to-be-published sea kayaking guidebook "Paddling Long Island". He was doing research for the book at the time & had contacted me about getting out on Jamaica Bay. It took a while to schedule something because last winter's weather was so bad, but we finally got a decent day & had an excellent paddle to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Broad Channel. The book is going to print soon, and Kevin had just gotten his first look at the final product in PDF form - and look, we're in it!

What I love about this picture (and indeed, about paddling in Broad Channel) - if nobody told you that this was taken in New York City, would you ever have guessed?

You can read more about the book (and pre-order, if you like the looks of it) at Barnes & Noble.com. I think this looks like a very useful resource for us tri-state paddlers!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

One More V-Day Post...

Oh, my goodness. One more Valentine's Day update. The Peconic Puffin's traditional Valentine's Day Top 10 post is always amusing - but the bonus Reasons To Date A Sailor? O...M...G...! I'm dyin' over here. Dirty Australian!

Link: Valentine's Day Top Ten Reasons to Date a Windsurfer (with bonus "date a sailor" stuff!)


And for those of you who haven't got a hunny-bunny to take out for dinsy-winsy, I wish you a very very Happy Singles Awareness Day!

Stop The Cupidity!

(graphic found via the insanely fabulous George Takei! I didn't have a favorite Star Trek actor until I found his Facebook page. Now - TEAM SULU! WOO!)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Well, even after five years of being in a relationship, I'm still not a big fan of Valentine's Day. Just hate all the marketing pressure, y'know. Still, I'm giving in enough to take TQ out for dinner. We're going to a local favorite, Mamma Lucia's - not as fancy as some of the Cortelyou Road places. I love those, but I'm not such a food snob that I can't relax and enjoy some good pasta at an unpretentious, old-fashioned northern Italian* red-sauce joint that's been around for a long long time. I'd asked to take him there for a welcome-to-Midwood dinner the weekend he moved to the neighborhood back in January (he's a ten-minute walk away now and I'm loving that) but he was so wiped out from the move that he had to cancel. He's taking that rain check tonight & that'll be nice.

And this Celtic heart knot is nice, too. Thanks to the Old Salt for sharing!

*Note - Hm. From the learn-something-new-every-day category - not surprisingly, a link on the Ditmas Park Blog led to a couple of mean comments from food snobs who not only can't relax & enjoy a red sauce joint, but can't handle it when somebody else can. One of 'em did have a point - I think they were being needlessly overbearing about it (love 'em or hate 'em, everybody in New York knows from "red-sauce joints", that's hardly some new coinage of mine), but at some point when I first moved to New York, I was acquainted with somebody who called them "Northern Italian red sauce joints" and so that's what I always thought the phrase was. Turns out that red sauce is more a southern thing (makes sense, of course, more southerly = warmer = more tomatoes, tomatoes like it warm, I grow tomatoes, so I know that!) while the northern Italians are bit more haute-y in their cuisine. #liveandlearn

As far as that other guy, I'm gonna borrow a phrase from a Hawai'ian friend:

Eh, Ainokea!!!! :D

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I Know, I Know, These Are Terribly Dicey Conditions In Which To Go Paddling...

But, you know, sometimes a person just has to answer the call of the bay, no matter how fiercely that wind is gusting.

Nah nah nah nah nah, just kidding!

This is totally a joke based on the fact that up until fairly late on Friday night, it was looking like a weekend where the winter windsurfers were gonna shred but the rest of us should stay on dry land - the forecast was calling for Saturday's temperatures to be a totally reasonable (by Northeast winter standards, at least) mid to high 30's, but the winds were supposed to be gusting to the mid-20-knots - not quite a gale but definitely small craft advisory & more than I would've thought about tackling in the wintertime & especially for the first paddle since New Year's Day, when I'd gone overboard (ha ha) with the rolling & ended up hurting a shoulder.

I was really pretty disappointed when I'd checked the weekend weather on Thursday. There'd actually been a seal-watching paddle at Jones Beach planned, which I'd been really looking forward to - that's usually a nice moderately-paced paddle (especially if the seals are feeling curious and start watching us watching them - at that point everybody of both species stops paddling or swimming and we all just bob around gawking at each other) and I'd thought that would be a perfect test paddle to see how the shoulder was going to behave after a few weeks of first being coddled, then given light exercise as the soreness and snap-crackle-poppiness settled down. Of course, I wanted to make sure that the seal paddle would involve proper nutrition, so Thursday afternoon, I dropped a blatant hint about a post-paddle Bigelow's visit (hint taking the form of a photo of a paper plate heaped with fried Ipswich belly clams and a Harpoon IPA, captioned "Hint, hint!") on the organizer's Facebook wall.
Hint, hint!

It then occured to me that I hadn't checked the forecast; went over to NOAA.gov and two minutes later I was back at Walter's wall saying,

Oh. Never mind. Stupid NOAA. Jones Beach marine forecast:

Saturday: NNW wind 6 to 11 kt increasing to 12 to 17 kt. Winds could gust as high as 25 kt. Snow likely, mainly before 9am. Seas 1 ft or less.

Sunday: NW wind 17 to 20 kt increasing to 21 to 24 kt in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 34 kt. A slight chance of snow showers after noon. Seas 1 ft or less.

Things were still looking about the same on Friday evening.

Saturday morning, TQ & I were talking about heading into the city for clubmate Joe Glickman's reading from Fearless, his book about Freya Hoffmeister's unsupported circumnavigation of Australia, at the relatively-new REI in SoHo, but then then I pulled up the forecast and read "Winds NW, 8-11 kts."


Apparently the massive cold front that was on the way had gotten held up in traffic somewhere. It was still very much on the way, it just wasn't going to hit our area until Saturday night, re-opening a window of fine paddling weather on Saturday afternoon.

All other plans for the day were instantly dropped & we went for a thoroughly pleasant 8-mile paddle out to a little way past the Marine Park Bridge and back. Our turnaround point was at a beach that's always covered with all sorts of old bottles, I always end up finding a treasure or two & I was actually looking to replace a small brown one that I'd broken recently, trying to take a fan out of the kitchen window without moving all the bottles I have lined up there first (I'd managed to put the fan in without disturbing them when I cooked bacon one weekend, but that turned out to be the easy part - next time I won't be such a lazy-butt, I'll move the bottles first, I'm just glad the one that broke wasn't one of the small number of harder-to-find ones that I do have). TQ was ready for a leg-stretch at that point anyways and it was warm enough that we took a pretty good beachcombing break. I found a suitably-sized brown bottle to put in the spot where the one I'd broken had been plus a couple of other nice additions to the collection before we started feeling like we were getting chilly enough that we wanted to get going; at that point the wind had picked up from "barely there" (as shown in the photo above) to exactly the forecasted 8 - 11 kts NW, so we did have a bit a headwind going home, but my shoulder held up fine & although I may not plan a Manhattan circumnavigation for anytime in February, I do think I can safely get back out there now. Good to be back on the water!

The cold front did finally come blasting in on Saturday night, as rescheduled. I had a nice lazy day in the neighborhood today, hit the farmers' market for beef stew fixins', met some friends for brunch at Purple Yam and then came home, prepared the stew & then curled up on the Evil Futon of Nap and finished the latest book (Terry Pratchett's Thud) while the stew simmered away for hours. Perfect weekend, and I think the activities were definitely on the right days.

Say, did I ever mention that some of my friends are way, way tougher than I am?

(kids, those are trained cold-water swimmers - don't try that at home, OK?)

Thursday, February 09, 2012

What I Had For Dinner Last Night!

This one's for you,Baydog! Should've known better than to mention that friends and I indulged in a restaurant week meal at a seafood restaurant of good repute without bothering to say what we ate, right?

We all ordered off of the special prix-fixe menu - in fact I'm copying the descriptions 'cause I can't remember all the little touches.

Starter - seared fluke roll (sushi) with marinated kohlrabi, shiso, ruby red grapefruit. I wasn't sure how they were going to work in the grapefruit but it was just a little bit sprinkled over the top, nice bit of tart sweetness against the saltier flavors.

Entree - Tough call, they had thyme roasted artic char, a crispy brook trout (one of us had that, looked like a cornmeal crust), and a grilled shrimp and braised pork belly dish. I liked the look of the accompaniments for the char (sweet shrimp & tuscan kale risotto, black mission fig, port wine -- I LOVE risotto!) better than the ones with the trout, and although usually I just stop dead when I hit the word "braised" on a menu, I thought since I was at the Blue Water Grill, I should focus on the fish (plus that way I save the pork-belly indulgences for my local fave Purple Yam). It was fantastic.

Dessert, I went for the chocolate espresso thingy - fantastic, sort of a flourless chocolate base with a thin layer of mousse on top. I owed the waiter for that one, I love all kinds of custard and they had a panna cotta and I couldn't decide so I asked the waiter which one he liked better & he didn't have to think about it for a second.

Restaurant Week was such a good invention - M had actually thought of setting up last night's dinner gathering because she and I had just been in Union Square a few weeks ago, walked past the restaurant, and got to reminiscing about this wonderful meal we'd had there a few years ago, when I'd gotten a gift card as a holiday gift at work. Blue Water Grill is a bit beyond our normal means these days, but the Restaurant Week menu was a very reasonable $35.00 (and in fact I didn't see anything on the normal menu that looked better than what I had). Of course, the two of us who indulge in alcohol did make it a little splurgier by splitting a bottle of the suggested red, a very nice Pinot Noir from New Zealand winery Stoneleigh - sometimes not having to drive home really is a good thing!

Can't afford to dine like that too often, but boy, is it ever nice to indulge every now & then.

And, oh boy. It just hit me that next indulgence might just be Bigelow's - there were rumours of another seal paddle this coming weekend! note later - oops. Not happening. Stupid NOAA.

Jones Beach marine forecast:

Saturday: NNW wind 6 to 11 kt increasing to 12 to 17 kt. Winds could gust as high as 25 kt. Snow likely, mainly before 9am. Seas 1 ft or less.

Sunday: NW wind 17 to 20 kt increasing to 21 to 24 kt in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 34 kt. A slight chance of snow showers after noon. Seas 1 ft or less.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Analoguema: Update

Wow. Apparently this "film" is even more of a museum piece than I realized. It's Restaurant Week, and a friend had made reservations for a small group to dine at the Blue Water Grill in Union Square at 7:30. I left work a bit early to go to a large photography store in the area, thinking that they could take my negatives & save the images on a CD. Went to the counter where I thought they could handle that, pulled out my film, said "I'd like to get these saved on a CD". The clerk looked at them & said "Sorry, we actually don't do that here anymore".

At least dinner was good!

Sailing School and Town Dock Operator Wanted, Pier 25, Hudson River Park

In my inbox last night, thought I'd pass it along.
Hudson River Park Trust Seeks Proposals for a Sailing School and Town Dock Operator on the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan: Up to forty mooring spots and a town dock provide an opportunity to develop a thriving and active waterfront business on Pier 25

Hudson River Park Trust, a public benefit corporation in the State of New York and consisting of a partnership between the State and City of New York, announces the release of a request for proposal for a sailing school, town dock, and private vessel mooring concession at Pier 25 in the Tribeca section of Hudson River Park. The Trust is looking for an experienced operator to run a sailing school and town dock; additional opportunity exists to offer transient and seasonal mooring berths. An optional information session will take place on February 17 and responses are due on March 5.

To download the RFP and for more information, go to

Monday, February 06, 2012


When's the last time most of us had to actually WAIT to see how pictures came out?

(click for detail, sort of, best I could do at home.)

Yes, while the rest of the country was watching the Super Bowl, I was at one of the more unusual gatherings I've been invited to in a long time - a Kodak Film Wake and Crazy Camera Ball! Friend & Sebago clubmate Andy has been a photographer for years -

OK, wait, can't resist, here's a link to my favorite picture from his RedBubble collection, taken at the Quicksilver Pro Long Beach, NY 2011:


Anyhow, he and a few other people who are film photography enthusiasts decided to get together in Ditmas Park for a little fun with analogue film photography & knowing that I like to take the occasional picture myself, he invited me & TQ to come.

Friday night, I went out and found some black and white film and on Sunday I picked up a nice bottle of wine & headed over (TQ joined us later on). I didn't have a camera, I'd thought I had a cheap old plastic Canon around here somewhere but if it's here, it's buried too deep to find - Andy said he'd fix me up with something though, he's got a few and I ended up with a fun little thing called a Lomo Fisheye.

There it is - isn't it a funny looking little thing? We started with a good bagel-and-smoked-fish feast, then set out for a quick photo-safari around a couple of blocks in Ditmas Park. We then went back to the house where we'd gathered, where we were treated to a demonstration of black and white film development by Vincent Trivett. This was actually a reintroduction for me, I had taken a photography class back in high school, but my dad's camera had gotten damaged just before the class so I ended up doing a lot of stuff where you do the exposures directly on paper - pinhole cameras, shadowgrams, etc., so I didn't get as much practice as some of my classmates. Wrapping the film onto one of the wire reels still felt familiar, though!

I was kicking myself for not bringing my Lumix so I could take pictures of the demo, but it was really interesting to watch. My roll ended up being one of the 2 rolls Vincent developed for the demo, so now I just have to wait for work to settle down enough to take the negatives somewhere to get a DVD for sharing.

After the demo, Andy turned on the game, but we ended up pretty much blowing it off looking at Vincent and Marc Stager's online photo galleries (friends who are Pete Seeger/ Clearwater fans, check out this wonderful Kodachrome shot) until we all decided it was time to head for home.

I was looking at my negatives tonight wondering when I was going to have a chance to get them printed and how they were going to come out when it hit me that the batch photo software I use to shrink pictures for my stop-motion things might be able to invert a picture. Using my monitor as a makeshift lightbox (hence the shot-through-a-wire-screen effect), I took a digital picture of one of the film strips, picked out the Negate feature that reverses all the pixels. It's not pretty, but at least it's something of a preview!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Estonian Trivia (and how a simple run to West Marine for classroom materials turned into Major Vacation Plan-O-Rama!)

Map of Estonia, from the Nations Online Project.

Estonian Trivia!

I had a very busy work day on Friday, but I just HAD to say something about the sudden emergence of an Estonian sailing vacation when my boss sent the official OK to my vacation request ('cause without that it wasn't going to happen) that day.

I then had a quite wonderful day checking in on my Facebook wall, where people were posting all sorts of great Estonian trivia all day (mostly true, even).

I'd kicked it all off by saying:
"Did you know that the Estonian coastline has over 1,500 islands and islets?" and followed it up with "And it's right across the way from Finland" and that was about all I had time for.

Retired friend to the rescue!

After asking (1) if I was actually going (I'd posted on Facebook that I was invited, but I wouldn't have mentioned it if it had fallen through, so the answer there was a YES!) and (2) if this was for the Estonian Sunfish National Championship (answer - NO, this is one of those boats you can nap on), Tillerman went after a bunch more trivia for me.

"Did you know that Estonia is the second least religious country in the world, with 75.7% of the population claiming to be irreligious?" (my response - "I may not get TQ to come back" - he's quite irreligious himself)

"Did you know that Estonia is ranked as the most free country in the world on the State of World Liberty Index? (USA is 8th.)" (my response was along the lines of "I may not come back myself" - and before much longer I had somebody calling dibs on subletting my nice little [lily]pad here in Brooklyn so, hmmm...)

"Did you know that the 1980 Olympic Sailing Regatta was held in Estonia?"

My friend Stevie jumped in with: "A favorite pastime of Estonians is to take the "Love Boat" from Helsinki to Stockholm and back, or at least it seemed like it last time I was there."

Now, I'd gotten myself sucked into the Susan G. Koman fracas at one point, and around the same time as he was getting trivia for me Tillerman said something about it being too bad that the very basic services for so many poor and/or uninsured women depend on Planned Parenthood have to be provided by a not-for-profit, not just a basic right - naturally I had to ask how Estonia was on that front and the answer was:

"Estonia has universal lifetime healthcare, funded mainly through taxation and costing (as a % of GDP) about a third of what the US spends on healthcare.

And did you know that upon giving birth, the Estonian government grants one of the parents 100% of their former salary for 18 months. After 1.5 years, the parent has the right to resume her/his former position."

Jeeze. Can't help wondering about who covers the new parent for the 18 months, but wow, that would certainly make having a kid a much less potentially scary thing, wouldn't it?

Tillerman got back to a less serious vein with his next trivia, which also involved sub-trivia:

Trivia: "In Estonia they have something called a 'porkuni' barrel race where two people sit in a large wooden vat and use kayak paddles. We will need to see pictures of you and TQ doing that". Subtrivia: "Did you know that if you do a Google Image Search on "Porkuni Barrel Race" you only get 16 results and none of them are of people paddling in a barrel? Post the right image on your blog, Bonnie, and you could be the #1 website on the planet for people searching for images of the Porkuni Barrel Race!"

And somewhere in there O-Docker (the napper himself) threw in this little gem:

"Sailboat racing was invented in the Gulf of Finland. Boats crossing from Estonia to Helsinki were said to cross the 'Finnish line'."


This all made for some very entertaining breaks during an otherwise crazy-busy Friday - thank you all!

Oh, yes, and I think I promised some actual details.

I was so delighted with O-Docker's first comment on the blog post, "Estonia sailing invitations - aisle four, next to the anchors, right?" that I claimed that yes, that's exactly what happened, but what REALLY happened was that I got there, I quickly collected the items I was there to buy, and then I remembered that I'd wanted to get little floats of some type for manuevering practice and wandered back towards the area I thought they might have kids' toys - just as Captain Kat, one of my friends from the days when I had a part-time job crewing on the Schooner Adirondack, came walking down the same aisle from the other end. So really, O-Docker wasn't too far off, it actually started in Aisle 1, between the lifejackets and the signalling devices! She was browsing around waiting for the salesman to finish working on a transaction involving a gift card and a refund for faulty spotlight. I totally forgot about the toys as we got to talking about who was still working for Classic Harbor, who'd moved away, who was going for their captain's license (yay M!), etc. etc. etc. - and then right at the end, her face lit up and she said "Oh - do you want to go sailing in Estonia?"

She named a time of year that I didn't think was going to be too good for work, so my first response was "Probably not" - but I asked her to go ahead & send me the details so I could at least daydream, knowing that any trip she plans is likely to be wonderful material for that particular past-time. After all, she's the one who arranged that wonderful trip to the BVI's that I went on back in November 2005 - this is just the sort of thing she likes to arrange, she's been doing it for years & she's really, really good at it.

Setting out from Road Harbor aboard the Carina, Nov. 2005 - Captain Kat at the helm - yep, that's the same wheel that's featured in my current profile picture!

That BVI's trip remains one of my favorite vacations of all time (neck and neck with the one I took to Hawaii for my 25th reunion and three that TQ and I have taken - Cape Cod, Washington State and Rhode Island were all spectacular) - so when she sent me the details the next day, and I looked at the specific dates and found that they actually fell within the one teeny window during which I could actually possibly sneak away from work for a week, I started to think that this wasn't one to let slip past. The bare-boat charter is very reasonable; plane fares were slightly gasp-inducing but I was able to get my breathing back under control fairly quickly (looking at some maps of the area helped) and with both bosses agreeing to my vacation request on Friday...wow.

It looks like I'm going sailing in Estonia!

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Most Expensive Trip To Worst Marine I've Ever Made.

I walked into the 37th street store last Thursday night planning to buy a couple of waterproof charts and 2012 Eldridge tide & pilot books for myself & the students in an ACA Level 1: Intro to Kayaking class that TQ and I taught in January at the Flushing Meadows Aquatic Center.

I walked out with charts, Eldridges, and an invitation to go sailing in Estonia.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Happy Groundhog Day!

And here's NOAA's forecast for Punxsutawney, PA -
Today: Thursday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 39. North wind between 3 and 10 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph%.

Looking pretty good for an early Spring (although maybe not quite as good as yesterday when I first posted this thinking that Groundhog Day was the first day of february and the Punxsutawney forecast was for cloudy drizzle - still feels springy out there, though).

The groundhog posed for a picture on the banks of the French Broad River near Asheville, NC during a trip TQ and I took down there a few years ago. The French broad wasn't around the day we were there.

Note added later: Oh, Phil, you stupid, stupid rodent. 6 more weeks of winter, you say? Well, maybe we'll get through it better with some good, hot, home-cooked meals. Capisce?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Dancing Girls and Beauty Queens

One of my most favorite things about the Chinese New Year Parade - dancing, drumming, float-riding grandmas! Aren't they beautiful?

Click on the picture for a slideshow view.