Monday, July 31, 2006

New kid on the block

We (Derrick and I) voted as a block and successfully moved JB to start his own blog ( I welcome my mentor to the hard cruel and unforgiving land of the written world and look forward to his wisdom. Be sure to add him to your lists of to do sites. Now we can work on getting Gary S. to do a blog on racing, training techniques and exercise physiology.

Heat Hits Hard
Milwaukee, like much of the country, is in the midst of a heat wave. Today's heat index is expected to be 107 F. A perfect day to be on and, as much as possible, in the water. This is the kind of heat that drains the enrgery from one's soul and makes bloggers prattle on about the heat with no real point in mind. It is a day made no more pleasant than for finding that blogspot picture upload won't work. Oh well.
So, today, I excuse myself (I can write myself a doctor's excuse) from work in order to cool it. Do the same. I will soon be back with something sensible.
Paddle safe

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I may be lost,
But I'm making good time.

I remember a song from my youth that started with the line I'm going to get you on a slow boat to China. Back then, I just liked the song. You know, the melody. I just sang the words because they came with the tune. Back then, I failled to appreciate the true meaning of the words.

The (imaginary) person singing the song wanted to get his/her lover on a slow boat so that they would have time to spend together, time to grow their relationship. Getting to China had nothing to do with it, the song just needed a destination (A slow boat to Sheboygan would not have sold as well. But I digress). The point was that, in order to savor their time together, things needed to be taken slowly.

Since those days, I've seen the speed limits on the highway go from 40 to 60 to 65 and higher. Since those days, I've gone from walking to the park to flying faster than the speed of sound. Since those days, I've lived in a world that is in love with speed.

Do you want it good, or do you want it fast? seems to be the question of our times, and the very fact that we ask it indicates that we know that the two (good and fast) are not necessarily the same.

In Japan I saw Shinto Priests sitting quietly for hours . It was there that I also saw a bullet train streak down the rails. What a study in the past and the present. Today, as I sit here in no hurry to go any where, I get a sense of what the Universe has been trying to tell me. This awareness began, I think, way back when I began my practice. I was in the stress testing lab and noticed a poster with a drawing of a yellow 3-legged stool. It read,

Sometimes, I sits and stares.
Sometimes, I just sits.

Yes, the interstate gets me there faster than the old back roads. Still, one of the best drives I have taken was down the old parts of route 66. It was slow...and that was the point. I saw things and, unlike the interstate where towns go by in a blur and all look the same, I was drawn to the details of the old buildings and the remnants of a time when one could just sits.

I don't know who wrote it (sounds a bit like Ogden Nash), but some guy put his finger on it when he penned,

A poor life this, when full of care, we have no time to sit and stare.

Paddle safely...and slowly.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


I will be on the water all day teaching in Madison. Please check back soon. Meanwhile,

Paddle safe.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Lost Rituals

We have become a very casual society that values style over substance, and (in some ways) that serves us well. On the other hand, it has cost us our rituals. Unless you belong to a fraternal order, go to regular religious services or meditate, you probably have little contact with rituals, and you do not benefit from the calmness and sense of connection they bring.

Not so very long ago men stood when a woman entered the room or removed their hat when meeting another person. These little rituals kept us connected to respect for the feminine and one another. Now, the hat-rituals are limited to what direction the bill of the cap faces (backwards if you jog where red winged black birds attack--usually from behind. This confuses them. But, I digress).

Rituals, acts that are repeated the same each time, also tie our souls to the Sacred.

Interestly, the calm and connectedness one feels after doing a ritual can be explained physiologically (read The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson). By participating in a predicatable, repetitive act during which no interuption is allowed, we let go of something that binds us to the secular and attaches us to our Core.

Rituals, once learned and mastered, also insure comleteness as there is less and less chance of leaving something out with growing familiarity. Consider, then, creating your own ritual around paddling. I refer here to two possibilites:

1, Acknowledge the water of life upon which you are about to embark and ask for safe passage. A Native American act of give back is to put down tobacco when taking anything from Mother Earth (plants, animals and even Grandfathers--rocks--for the sweat lodge). Perhaps you might wish to take the last of your drinking water (hopefully clean) and, at the end of your paddle, offering it back to the Water as a give back or make up for the pollution our kind has created.

2, A preflight ritual. When I was in F-105s I noted that, even after 100+ missions, every pilot went through a check list before even starting the engine because a simple act of omission could be fatal. I also know that in my profession, medicine, the most common error is the error of omission...simply forgetting to count toes or asking a vital question (Why didn't you tell your doctor you have that rash? She didn't ask).

Such a pre-paddle ritual will assure that your hatch covers a really closed, that you have that tow line for the one time your partner poops out and the wind is up and that the battery in your radio is charged enough to get out your "May Day". It can mean life.

Besides, it's good for the soul.

Paddle safe...each time.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Value in America

Having spent a lifetime in a profession of which the public demanded perfection (although perfection was never possible), and seeing colleagues sued for malpractice when there was none (be clear, I have testified against doctors in malpractice cases, it is just that expectations, such as always having a perfect baby, run high...did I just digress?), I have come to hold a cynical view of the performances of others.

Considering that I never ran a money-mill practice, I cannot concieve of a baseball player who only hits 400 getting a million or more dollars a year. If I was expected to always be right for a hell of a lot less dough, those bozos who make their living mostly sitting and scratching, should bat just about 1000 year after year. What the hell kind of world pays so much for a performer who is successful less than half the time?

I remember when we could buy a car on a handshank, and there was never even the possibility of one of the parties reniging on their promise. But most of all, I remember--and miss--good old Amercan craftsmanship.

I grew up on the west side of Milwaukee where the houses had real plaster and fine hardwoods (these were your average duplexes, not mansions). Wood joinery was done to perfection, and you could see that some man used his hands, skill and integrity to make it that way. And, he did so, not just to collect his paycheck, but because ofhis work ethic and pride. Too few of those kind seem to around. Yet, those houses on the west side are in as good shape as they were 50 years ago.

And (aha, he gets to the point of this irrational angst), I remember when stuff worked. Back in the day, Made in Japan/China meant it was crap. Now we buy an American auto with our fingers crossed in the hope that the line workers really tightened all that stuff that is hidden under all that plastic (or we worry, was it built by a guy who bats 400?).

But times have changed. So, when Blogspot, who graciously and for free hosts this site, craps out and fails to upload some pictures (after uploading one), I get frustrated. I expect it to work. I can, in seconds, run a wire from the artery in your groin, up your descending aorta, back across your aortic arch, down into your left coronary artery and out the diagnal brance in about a minute. At that point you will have the expectation that I will push the wire through the clot causing your chest pain, run a deflated balloon over the wire and crush open the artery you have spent a life time clogging with good old American cuisine! And, if you knew I could do it only a third or even two-thirds of the time, you wouldn't hire me in the first place (let alone spend $25 on a ticket to sit and watch me do it).

That's why you all are getting this rant instead of the hightly philosophical and valuable piece on rituals. You would have loved it.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to make a cup of coffee which I generally can do with a success rate of 98+%. Just call me an old time craftsman.

and...Paddle safe.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Growing Old,
It's Simple

Younger people often ask me what it is like to grow old. I sometimes smile and say, "Can't say for sure. I'm still trying to do it." Truth is, they are asking as much out of fear as out of pure curiosity. There are, of course, lots of ways to look at getting on in years.

I could dwell on the weakness in my left leg due to a nerve being cut by a fragmenting disc. I could go on about how sleep patterns change, as does flexibility and a whole lot of other physical functions. Worst of all, I could obsess about how there are fewer days ahead (on this side of the grass) than behind me. But what would all that thinking get me, other than depressed? I choose, instead, to rejoice in the positives of being over 20, three times and more over 20.

1, I am never troubled by acne or getting chosen for a baseball game.
2, I can wear checkered shorts with knee-high black socks and a bad shirt, and no one would care (I don't do that, of course. I do have a sense of style. But I digress).
3, I don't run after chicks...they're too fast anyway. If that were my goal, I would have to troll.

But, seriously folks...I enjoy the simplicity.

I no longer worry about those million and one things that used to seem so important. I believe that is because my ego has also aged and, for the most part, gone into retirement. Impressing others in not a priority and rarely even a consideration. Winning your approval...well, what you think of me is of no concern to me. Don't get me wrong. I am interested in what you have to say and who you are. But, if you hate me, I don't take on your projections (although I would want to know how you could possibly not like a loveable guy like me. But I digress...again).

I have thrown a lot of things out and am trying to get rid of more. Why. Because, as I child, I played with the toys of a child. You probably know the poem. Still a kid at heart, I still find lots of stuff--once coveted and saved for--of little use or interest. Bottom line, life is simpler.

Now, things seem to distill themselves down to their essence. I no longer see crowds (unless I take it all in as an entity of mass...don't get a head ache working on that one). Instead, I see a face in a crowd...or a leaf on a bench (just outside my family room's window).

I've mentioned before the Zen teaching:

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

The thing is, that's all there is, and it is more than enough. Being an elder is, ideally and in my judgment, the time when all the lessons of life can be used to be of service. Thankfully, I have all that I could ever want, and the only need (my calling) I feel is to be of service. Being in that frame of mind, I do not fear becoming obsolete or of no use. And, I don't have to seek employment for my talents. It seems that by making myself available to the Universe, the needs find me...and I am happy to serve. See

It's simple

Paddle safe


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Nice A**

Have a nice day. Ever have someone tell you that, like it is an order or something? I will, if I feel like it, is often the way I my head. Who are they to tell me to have any kind of a day? Besides, they should be saying thank you since they are usually sales people from whom I have just made a purchase.

See what they've cleverly done? They made it so the conversation ends with me saying thank you. Just who is giving who the business? What a rip.

Why the cheery attitude this am (you ask)?

Well, pop psychology tells me that I can choose how I will feel this day. It says that when I wake up I can decide how I will feel and what attitude I will take with me into the world. Fine.

Well, I woke up with a very fine attitude, thank you world of technology. I had a great idea for a blog, one that would have impressed you and changed your life for the better and forever. I sat--no hurried to--these keys and went to upload the pictures that would have added that touch of brilliance to the piece and helped to visually burn the wisdom I was about to dispense deep into your brain. But the freakin' site woke with a much different attitude.

The site woke this morning (probably skipped it's morning bytes, the most important bytes of the day) and decided it was going to have a screw-Dick-day today. It decided that it would frustrate the first brilliant mind it met, refuse to load its images and deny the Universe of the potential wisdom waiting to be dispensed. So it didn't work, crapped out, abandoned its duties and went on the fritz.

So you and I, mere puppets of the multilateral industrial caballa are once again turned into victims of the nano-shpere. And, it is going to be a shitty day.

Now, I feel better. I can feel the medication kicking in. Maybe the whole world isn't out to get me. I got it out. I hope you feel better too, because I did it for both of us. I am here for you. I decided to start my day, after all, with a healthy rant., and, if I had to do it again, I'd do it all over you.

Still...Paddle safe.

Monday, July 24, 2006

...and the children
Belong to us all
The world belongs to the children, and the children belong to us all. Those words from a popular song have haunted me ever since my first child was born 27+ years ago. From that time forward I was to worry about her and, eventually her sister. Are they safe? Will someone try to hurt them? Are there predators around? Kidnappers? Is that sneeze a cold or Dingy Fever? Sometimes the fears became irrational, and why not? They are so vulnerable, innocent and trusting.

Suddenly, I became aware of all children. I knew I would go through fire for my own and anyone else's child hoping deep inside that others felt the same way. How else could I believe the world to be safe enough for them?

Time passes, and I became involved in men's work...and the caring and fear extend to all people.

This all came to mind this week when I learned that a young man who lives near by me will be getting out of jail next week. He is there on drug charges, but that is only the cover on the book. He has been in and out of minor trouble all his life, and I have sat with him a few times to try and find out what drives him. His father divorced and, more or less, abandoned the family when the lad was a kid. He has not had solid male models, so I had hoped to help. In any event, his mother tells me that he has expressed an interest in talking with me when he gets home. I had once offered him some suggestions and, apparently, he is now ready to hear them....and, hopefully. act on them.

One man, one life. We all own the world, and we all belong to each other. Now tht I think about it, I realize now why I feel like a mother hen when I paddle with a group. I keep count of the paddlers, often lag behind to watch the newbies and be sure they are safe, check hatches and carry all the rescue equipment I can. I know others are watching my back.

Paddle safe


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Around the corner
Up your street
I'm lucky, at least when it comes to location, location, location. I am less than a half-hour drive from a great lake )Michigan) and less than a 5 minute drive from a navigable river (not to be confused with a potable river. But, I digress). Although Milwaukee has little to tout for itself, it does have a well established water trail (sign at right). To do the entire river would require portaging, but sections can be done as out and back paddles. One such section is the one that runs within 2 blocks of my house. (You can google the trail and get an excellent map of all its launch sites, bars, etc).
The water quality is akin to a toilet in need of flushing, however the scenery can get your head away from the fray for a bit of time (if you ignore the floating objects. See previous blogs for comentary on the rare species found here).

Passing some bridge abutments, you can take in the hyroglyphics of the local natives. Some of these archeological finds date back as far as the last century (1900's). Their meanings are still debated by local scientists and street gangs.

Quiet sections allow for exploration of the banks with its intricate and interesting displays of roots (actual color, ladies, never been dyed). Not shown are some islands, lily pads gallor (on the section north of here) and small bays and nooks into which one can tuck a kayak and sit to watch the wild life (especially on a saturday night)

I could say more, and probably will in the future; but it is now 7:10 am , and the guys from Madison are on their way to join us on the big lake. I leave you with a shot of me on the section of the river north of here. Eat your heart out.

(photo by Leslie)

and...Paddle Safe


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Having it
Both Ways (The schizophrenia of aging)

I don't want to be a kid for ever (although I am well on my way). I don't want to have to relive those hard lessons and times of emotional upheaval (not to mention acne). I've paid my dues, and I am convinced that this is the best time in life.

Still, I find I am not entirely consistant in my attitude and behavior when it comes to getting old.

I accept the years and the gray hairs when I am giving a lecture, offering an opinion or teaching kayaking. I get the impression that everyone (everyone younger than me, that is) assumes I know more than I do. It is almost like a base on balls. People (especially young ladies who, perhaps, find me "safer". but I digress) treat me differently (read: nicer) and often with defference. All this I gladly accept.

On the other hand, I often hide my age (especially among kayakers) for fear that others will not feel safe with me or that I will not be able to hold up my end in a rescue. Suddenly, I don't want to be this old and choose to play young.

Then there are the times that I find myself hiding behind the age label and looking for "special boy" treatment. This, in fact, came up for me up at Grand Marais when I was one of a class of instructors taking an advanced rescue-scenario class.

The instructor (John Martin, excellent) decided that lunch would be held atop a high cement wall that served as part of a break water at the entrance to the harbor. He also indicated that our kayaks were to join us up top for the break. No way, I thought. Hell, doesn't he know how old I am? Doesn't he know about the weakness in my left leg? Is he trying to get me killed? This stuff is okay for you young guys.

Well, no way turned into way. I made my concerns noted to the group and got a reply of, "So, what needs to happen?"

Well, I can't be the first up because of my strength and inability to climb with a weakened leg. And, I can't be the last since the leg makes it hard to balance while standing up in the boat. No prob. I went second or third...I forget which. The tallest and strongest went first. then, with Henry stabalizing my boat, I stood, climbed onto my deck and reached up to the strong hand that was being offered. I took two "steps" on the wall and was on top. Hauling up the boats was child's play.

So, I continue to adjust to the abilities the years have forgotten to take from me, and I continue to learn to use what I have. Most of all, I continue to ask for what I need and to be surprised how quickly the universe is willing to supply it.

Meanwhile Zoe (daughter of our friends), play while you can.

And, when you do get your first kayak....

Paddle safe


Friday, July 21, 2006

Full Circle
What Goes Around...

Life on this planet began somewhere near what we call the Middle East. In fact, on a recent Discovery Channel program, some fellows used the ancient texts and were able to locate what had supposedly been the Garden of Eden. In addition, we know that human beings originated in this area and that, at one time, we were all dark skinned. And so on. Some of these ancient lands still exist pretty much as they did thousands of years ago and are home to Christians, Muslims, Jews, Druzeses and Bahai followers. (Interestingly, the Jews and Arabs are both semetic people).

From here, "civilization" (who says we don't have a sense of humor) spread over our little globe, and we began to develope new skills. There is a story of two small villages at the base of a mountain so tall that its top was hidden in the clouds. It was believed that an old man lived up there, but no one had ever seen him. Well, one day (as inevitably happens with humans) war broke out between the two towns. In the middle of it all a warrior cried out, "Look" and pointed up at the mountain. There sat a small wrinkled and very old man who could only have come down from the clouds. All hostilities ceased while everyone ran up to see him.

Who are you, where did you come from and why are you here came the shouts from the people. The man smiled and told them that he was hundreds of years old and that he only came down from the clouds to watch when there was a war. When asked why, he explained, "Because it is the only thing you humans have learned to do so well.

(Bahai Temple in Haifa, Israel)
I am not happy to say that I have a certain prophetic insight once in a while, like knowing when someone is going to die. It doesn't happen often, and I don't like knowing. For some time now, I have had a discomforting thought that we have nearlly come full circle and that we will end it all where it all began. Maybe it is just indigestion or the pessimism of someone who has been to war and seen the futility of it all. I, of course, hope I am wrong.


(or else...)

Paddle safe


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ready or not...

Not very long ago, there was a book published about an expedition to the land of the cold. It seems that a group of climbers got into trouble (true story) and ended up dangling on a line which hung down into a deep ice crevice. In order to save the group, the second last man on the line had to cut the last man loose, almost assuring his demise (he did survive, but that has nothing to do with the point I am making). This may seem like a cruel act, but it was the exactly right thing to do, and the man cut loose agreed when later interviewed. It is not unlike triage during which medical personel leave some to die while focusing resources on those who can be saved.

So, you are going to paddle with a group. It seems like a nice day and looks something like this:

You feel comfy in these conditions, all the more so because you have taken a rescue class that might have looked something like this:

After a while, the wind freshens and the skies darken to look something like this:

It isn't too much longer before the wind is howling and boats are dancing about their moorings, but you cannot see them as you are 2 miles out on the big lake. That's when 3 of the 7 paddlers in your group go over and are out of their boats. You are the only one with rescue training, but you have never done a rescue in such confused seas. To make things worse, one paddler has suffeed a head injury and is comatose, his boat drifitng away. The rest look to you for guidance. Can you save them all and get the group back to a safe harbor? Are you feeling pretty scared just now? Are you prepared, if necessary, to leave the comatose paddler adrift (remember, he is a friend of yours) in order to save the others?

If you have never had to make a life-or-death decision I promise you that, what ever you decide to do, you will replay the scenario over and over in your mind for years to come...and you should. The responsibility is awesome.

So, if you are not prepared to act, if you cannot make such decisions, if you haven't been properly trained under realistic conditions, what the hell are you doing out there?

Paddle safe...I mean it

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

To Be
Not To Be...

I don't do well on those personality inventory tests where they ask the testee to make choices such as: Would you rather be playing baseball or doing a chemistry experiment? Often, it is obvious what they are getting at, such as when they ask whether I would like to have a job that requires team work and discussion or one in which I work alone. My problem with all these choices is that my honest answer is always "yes". Then the results come back, and I am labled schizophrenic or just too stupid to follow instructions. Well, screw 'em. I want it both ways (read: my way.

The days at the Door County Sea Kayak symposium were great. I knew a lot of the people and had the charming company of JB and Derrick (talk about schizophrenic...but I digress). Lots of company and good talk (and, one night, good cheer). My extrovert had a ball. Grand Marais was different.

I hardly knew anyone, at least when I got there. So, I had time to myself, to read and to get up early to explore. That's why I was the only one there to see a bald eagle having a fish-breakfast right there on the beach at 6:30 one morning. That's why I got to read one of the best fun reads I've read in years (Odd Thomas by Koontz. Get it). That's why I had the time to get out to the waterfalls. My introvert was content to mull and muse all by himself.

Some day I'll do a piece on right and left brain and tell you a neat story about an experience I had in that realm. For now, know that I am glad to be home, although going from Lake Superior to Lake Michigan is like going from a spa to a septic tank (I was rolling in Michigan yesterday).

Truth be told, we all need a balance of alone and together time. I am just lucky enough to get it when I want it. So...stay with me, I like being alone.

Paddle safe


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Oh Captain, my Captain,
The ship of state is safe
(Frost, referring to Lincoln after the civil war)

So, I have had my first decent night's sleep since leaving on my tour de farce several days ago, and it is time to begin reflecting on what has just passed.

Firstly, I discoveed that I do have restlessness leg syndrome and that it is getting worse. I won't turn this into a medical report (at least not this time) except to say that this syndrome is not unlike the torture techniques I was told about before going over to SE Asia. It is the inability to be still when, at the same time, the body craves sleep. It is worse in the evening and when one is recumbent. It eases off in the early morning hours thus accounting for the desire to sleep in. Nevertheless, I was up at 5:30 (or earlier) each day of the trip. Why? So I could see what can only can be seen early in the day. Call it photographer's attitude.

As I ease into what I hope will be a series of observations on the trip, let me just share a few images I found durning this safari. An early morning drive out of Grand Marais to Sable Falls was rewarding. Soon afer sunrise the sun hits the falls and causes hot spots. The best views are available to the eary waker who, if lucky, doesn't have restless leg syndrome).

As always, there are the big shots and, as follows, the little shots (best shots not yet converted to proper format for display here.

The trip was filled with eye-candy for this man who loves all images, visual and audio, and is grateful to have one more day to enjoy them. In the upcoming days, I will share more of the sights and experiences of the trip on these pages. Meanwhile, I am enjoying being back home and in safe habor.
Paddle safe


Monday, July 17, 2006

He's Back....
Well, almost

Well, my body is in the chair, and someone who looks very much like me (only with a better tan) is typing at my computer's key board. It must be I.

I am tired, and I have had wonderful experiences since last writing. I thank you for checking back and promise to get to work spinning my sermons on life, kayaking and all those who-cares topics. I do, however, need to center myself, reorient myself and take one more day to get back into it properly. So, I am off to meet JB for coffee (regardless of what time it says this is posted, I am in the CDT zone, and it is about 6 am.

So, dear readers, please grant me a stay of laxidaziness for one more day and, please, join me tomorrow. By then I shall have had a chance to down load the pics from my lap top and enough time for the trivial crap that occured to have fermented into sagas of mythical stories. I promise to share tales of meeting the famous Nigel Foster, sampling Irish whiskey with two (to be named) fanatics, a disappearance of a paddling mate in the dead of night and storms severe enough to scare a man named Mobey off the water. That and more when my addled brain has had a chance to confuse and mix up all the facts I've acquired during my trip. Remember, it's not what truly happens that counts, it is what I remember that me.

I love my work.
Continue to paddle safe...

Monday, July 10, 2006


Wanting to hear everything I was trying to teach them , medical students always asked me what was the most important part of the stethescope. I would smile and answer, "The part betwee the ear pieces." Non medical students want to know how to get those water fall pictures I make. They presume,like my med students, that it must be the camera. So, being on the road and having less than ideal conditions, I will give a little photo lesson......for free. These are not good pics, they just illustrate the point.

So, you see the water fall and click your camera. When the photo comes back from the drug store, you get something like this:

You probably thought it would look something like this. I know it is dark, it is all I had the time for. Point being, how did I get the cotton like effect? There are two essential pieces of equipment all photographers should have, and one is necessary for good waterfall pics. I did not have it, so I used a fence. I speak, of course, of the tripod (I will discuss the other piecde of essential equipment on a future blog). No matter how cheap the camera, get it steadied on something and shoot at a shutter speed (well, I guess it can't be too cheap) of 1/15 or slower. The "long" exposure will cause blurry recordings of the foam, and wellah.

I hope to soon share with you photos I took today at Pictured Rocks. I must confess, I did so from a tour boat being too tired to paddle, and not having enough time to get as far as the big guy did. When I do, I will give examples of the other essential piece of equipment.

Tomorrow I head to Grand Marais.

Paddle safe


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Just a note to say I have completed the Door County Kayak Symposium teaching basics, rescues, beyond basics, leading a tour and giving a brown bag lunch lecture on weather.
The company of JB and Derrick was great, and the Irish whiskey of Derrick's was wonderful. I still don't know where he disappeared to after leaving our room.

I am in th eUP in an Econo Lodge Motel whose wireless system won't come on line, so I cannot use my computer or post pics. Alas.

I plan to bum around for a few days before getting to Grand Marais for a Wednesday all-day advanced rescue review for instructors. Then, their symposium where I will get to meet and work with Nigel Foster.

Hang in. I shall be back and blogging soon....however, I cannot get onto my own site???

Paddle safe

Friday, July 07, 2006

Time is Now
I am Here

Actually the pic is a friend of mine sunning on an island far south of here.

I am in Door County watching the sun rise over the inlet to Lake Michigan. Breakfast is soon and, then, classes start. Some classmates from IDW and ICE here. Even the famous Derrick of kayakwisconsin is here. I've begun photographing and will be uploading pics tonight for (hopefully) tomorrow's blog.

Paddle safe...teach others to do the same.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

The time is now....

Time to go. The trip I've been anticipating for months is here. The time is now. All the things I thought I would have ready are mostly ready, and--as always--it feels like I need another day to prepare. The car is packed, and I think I have everything in there I need. I never did make the check lists I thought I would, and I don't know what is in which bags (Richard had some good points).

So, if you have been following the last two days and are wondering how I solved the which-pile-to-take problem, have no fear. I took all 4 piles. There is a solution to every problem.

As I don't know the internet availability in the area to which I travel, I don't know when I will write again. I am, be assured, taking camera, cables and computer (in pile 4) and will put something up every day that I can.

Now, there is nothing to do but go.

Let's all...paddle safe.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Not in the old rockin' chair...yet
After yesterday's blog on packing, Richard from Michigan wrote with some good advise. To paraphrase his words: make a pile of the luxurious stuff, a pile of the nice stuff and a 3rd pile of what you need to survive. Wrap up the third pile and forget the rest. Packing done.
And, he's right. But...
It's been a long time since I began camping in tents with the Boy Scouts. It's been a while since I interned in Washington DC where and when being up two nights in a row was exciting and educational. Point being, lots of years have happened between being able to run and play all day up to where don't leave home without it means a MediCare Card.
I was in my mid 30's when this child was born. She is now in her mid 20's, is more stubborn than me, is tougher than me and can argue me under a table. (She has tons of wonderful qualities all of which she got from her mother).
Back in the day, I would have used Richard's method of packing and probably would have left half of pile 3 at home, as well. Back then, we camped using wood fires and put shaving cream on the bottom of pans to make them easier to wash. When food ran low we ate twigs and tree bark.

I was starting my camping career, this bandy-legged beauty was born. Okay, so you're ahead of me. She's now is my wife of nearlly 30 years. Where did all that time go? I don't know, but somewhere in there, I began taking all of pile 3 until camping gave way to cruise ship vacations.

Well, let's not belabor the point. The dashing young man talking with his scout pal's (marked X for your viewing convenience) was born about 6 months before Pearl Harbor was bombed. He, along with the two gals above, is now older and, I got to tell you Richard, I just know he is going to sneak some of pile 2 into his car.

Face it, he's taking all three piles if he can cram them in.

And...he'll paddle safe.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Putting all my eggs
in one basket
It's that time again, that time when my guts get in a knot and every room (includes garage) I have stuff in is in a mess (see special blog on garage neatness last week). Why? Hell, it's symposium time minus 2 days, and I gotta' pack. So? you ask (thanks for asking). Well, so I hate packing. It's almost like a phobia for me. It means taking some things and leaving others behind (there is a great George Carlin comedy routine on this type of thing. It involves a trip to Hawaii...but I digress). And how the hell am I supposed to know what Iwill need while on the road for two weeks?
It's not just the necessities. How many base layer tops is enough? Do I do wash while on the road (my cloths...I always...well, usually wash myself). What will be the in-style stuff. I hate to show up wearing last years model of a rescue belt. And shoes. Geez, sandals, those synthetic ones with holes in them, booties, wading models. A dress shoe? Maybe I will want to go into a nice place (in northern Wisconsin...I don't think so). But you get the idea and can probably sympathize with my angst.
Fear not, I have a method. Well, not so much a method as my way of getting around doing it right (what ever way that might be). 1, I take out every single thing I own that could possibly be of use on the trip. 2, I put back those things that even a fool like myself knows I won't need (fancy wrist watch....value $40, loafers with tassels now 11 years old, 8 track tapes, Bose radio...stuff like that). By now, I am down to enough to fill just one small moving van. So the electric piano stays. And so it goes until I have sifted and winnowed (UW-Madison Alum will appreciate that expression) my way down to a car load. I am a half day into that last part and am already feeling like I've done the symposiums.

Now, where to put the kayak?

Paddle safe


Monday, July 03, 2006

There is a reason they call it work...
In another of my lives, I own a little business called Work/WorkShop(tm). I give talks, do one on ones and conduct workshops around work. Well, more specifically, i work on why so many people are miserable at work, why so many people hate their jobs, how so many have made poor career choices and decisions and why so many unexplained sudden deaths occur late Sunday night or early Monday morning when it is time to go back to the job.
Remember how it felt the last time you took a vacation, had a ball and the day to return to the job came? Remember how, as a kid, you felt when a holiday or summer vacation was ending? Well, a gazillion slobs face that same feeling as each weekend draws to a close. Alas, work, the curse of the paddling class.Some other time, maybe I will talk more about why so many hate work or how they all got into a thankless job (not you, of course). Instead, let's remember it is a holiday. The 4th of something or other. Whoppee. Time to celebrate the birth of a nation (like you really give a rat's patute, it's just an excuse to tie one on). Hell we celebrate Halmark card day (a.k.a. valentine's day), 4-leaf clover day (St. Patrick's Day), the soltice (where the length of the day is acknowledged by folks who work and live indoors), arbor vitae day (go hug a tree) and "honey, it's our 5th anniversary day (which may be celebrated by the day, month or year). We celebrate anything that will make us feel the way we wish work made us feel, anything to take our mind off the job.

And, WE TAKE VACATIONS. Do we ever.

Hell, we work harder at planning, taking, photographing and organizing photo albums of that cruise or vacaton than we do working. Why? Because we like vacations and, for many, hate our jobs. How sad that so many live with the mantra: one day. And, when there's not enough time and/or money for a cruise or a trip to Vegas, or we need some relief from the reality of work right now, we simply party together, even sit and drink coffee together. Why? Because we like our friends are more than our jobs...and that may or may not be healthy. Fact is, you'd probably rather sit with me at a social and put up with my crap than go to work.
So, my depressed friends (thanks, in part, to me). Don't spend this 4th of whatever alone or waste it in a small room writing a blog . Be with someone. Do something. Get your mind off every thing that brings you down. Party on.
And remember, don't be late for work the day after tomorrow. Or, maybe you need a workshop on the subject. Sucker.

Paddle safe


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Don't even ask...

Had an early morning e mail from JB who worked the ambulance duty (he is an EMT) at Summerfest, Milwaukee's "Big Gig", (Be forwarned, this is not a totally happy piece).
For those who don't know, Milwaukee is a Native American word meaning meeting of the three rivers; and, indeed, three rivers meet just before flowing into Lake Michigan. But I am sure that in some obscure language it means Podunk and, in another, The City that can't. Anyway, he asked how I liked the concert last evening.

Summerfest is a great happening if you like rock, crowds, loud rock, beer, really loud rock and the chance to stand in long lines to over pay for food you usually wouldn't eat. Yesterday, there were at least 2 drunks, one nonresponsive ,and a child trambled by a drunk carried away. This is by way of introduction, because since its inception, when the music was jazz, I don't go to the "big gig". Call me an old foggy.

On the summerfest grounds is a rather large amphitheater with 2/3rds under cover and the rest grandstands and grassy areas. It was to this venue that Paul Simon (Still Crazy After All ... and Going to Graceland....etc.) came last night to give a nearly sold out concert. The man must be near 70 years old and looks and sounds like he's 40. He is a great talent with a story-telling style of singing. And...the musicians were fantastic. I wish I hadn't gone.

The acoustics were supplied by speakers larger than most mother ships that have been spotted in the area (by near-nonresponsive drunks). I could not understand one word the man said, or sang, in spite of knowing many of the lyrics. More over, in the wisdom of the type of talent that runs the city where 3 rivers meet, smoking is allowed. So, Lady Linda (who has a touch of asthma) had to endure the couple just ahead of us enjoy their smokes.

Never mind, I did enjoy the African syncopations the group used, a truly unique sound, and I made the best of it. Then we went to drive home.

We sat in a small fenced in lot with one exit, a lot we had paid extra for because it is closest to the theater. We did not move, I mean not an inch, for 20 minutes and would still be there had not some of the citizens left their cars, gone to the exit and pushed aside the talent-challenged lady who was supposed to be directing traffic.

I won't bore you with the fact that every expressway in the area is torn up, blocked or rerouted and that the city that can't had virtually no signage to help us (never mind the out of town suckers) to the grounds. Well, not totally true, there were some signs that you saw when you had already gotten within a few blocks.

With exception of Med school, internship and air force, I've lived my entire life (so far) here in podunk. I have the best friends in the world, many paddlers, and family in the area. I have Lake Michigan, the only venue other than the other grea lakes and the oceans that is worthy of sea kayaking. I know how to get things done here and who to call. I know the medical community. We have a huge extended family here...and I hate this place.

But, hey, don't let me keep you from moving here. After all, we do offer, incompetent government which has nearlly bankrupted the city and county, a sewage district which taxes the (literally) sh*t out of us and dumps turds into the waters off our beaches, the highest taxes in the nation and Summerfest.

Hey, I feel better. I hope I wasn't too political, it's just that I am ticked off. And, I hope this won't put you off from returning to read future blogs, I promise to let this go now. I going to start organising my stuff for the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium and the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium...neither which is held where the 3 rivers meet. Okay, but that was the last barb. Except...I had some nice pictures for this edition, but blogspot refused to work properly and would not upload them. They're not in Podunk, are they?

Paddle safe

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Full House
always beats
A Pair
It occured to me yesterday, how I had gone from loner to one of a pair to a full house and, I had thought, back to a pair.
Back in the day, I was a loner. I spent so much time by myself because I had unique interests and couldn't find others with whom to persue them. This was not a pathological isolation. I still had tons of friends, played ball and did all the normal stuff. It's just that there were things calling me to places where I had to go alone.
It wasn't until I was in my mid 30's that I met and married Lady Linda (no jokes here about finally meeting the one person with whom you want to be miserable the rest of your life...we're going on 30 years as a pair).
Not being the youngest newly weds, and both wanting children, we decided two would be the ideal number. Linda thought I would want a boy and a girl, but I surprised her with, "I just want daughters." I told her that men with daughters live longer and that daughters are forever and take care of their dads. My two real reasons for wanting girls were a, mom would have to take them to the bathroom in resturants and b, I didn't want to ever have to send a son off to war...having been myself. Now, when I complain about our girls, Linda reminds me that that is what I wanted, 2 girls. Yes, I answer, but not necessarily those two.
It wasn't too long until we adopted Lady, a Lab mix who was with us 17 years. She has since been succeeded by Ansel, the son I never had.
Suddenly, I was holding a full house. Then the years went quickly and the girls grew, if not up, older, and went off on their own. Just as suddenly, we had a near-empty nest. Ansel decided to live at home.
Well, yesterday, Carri and her husband, Scott were here.

So, was Tammy whom you've seen paddling in previous blogs. So was Tofi (pictured, a bitchy cat born in Israel and who meows from right to left) and A'nan (not pictured), a gentle white male cat.

Again, suddenly, I had a full house. There was energy and talk, and kidding, and laughter, and food, etc. The place was alive, and I realized that our home, and the one in which we previously lived, had enjoyed some of the best times when they were full of friends and family. It makes sense. No man is an island or, for that matter, a land fill. We are social beings and tend to seek out the succor and companionship of others (screw the philosophy, I just wanted to use the word succor).

So, I will enjoy these few days holding a full house during this holiday. And, when they've left, I will remember all the other full houses we've enjoyed. Salute.

Paddle safe...with someone.