Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Yesterday I mentioned that I was in the class of '66 during medical school. But, you say, that is only 2 sixes. Yes, but what I haven't told you is that I was issued an American Express Card with 6666 in its code. Coincidence?
And what about medical school, a training ground for one who would do evil medical experimentation on innocents? Perhaps you would find it interesting to learn that our actual graduation date was 6-6-66. Seeing a pattern here (if not, consider dyslexia....but I digress...and will send you a bill in the morning).
It may all mean nothing. After all, in spite of dire predictions that this is The End of Days, we are all still here, albeit shoveling snow. Perhaps it is all just a meaningless gaggle of meaningless happenings. Perhaps it is not a warning of any kind and that nothing terrifying and evil is just over the horizon.
Soon it will be spring and and, on the 6th month of the year, I will turn 66. And what are these strange stirrings I feel?
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
I like doing things that are simple and unencumbered by excessive rules. Maybe that's why I paddle a kayak, often alone. But, I also enjoy the company of other like-minded paddlers who enjoy the game for what it is and are willing to share what they know. That is the kayaking I've known and will continue to enjoy. In this world, however, nothing is as certain as change.
Kayaking is going through puberty, a normal evolution in the "growing" process. It began with symposiums, places for paddlers and would be paddlers to gather and exchange knowledge. In addition, organizations began forming to bring sub groups of paddlers together. Some, such as QAJAQ, were designed to serve groups within the general paddling population. And so on, until the inevitable.
Now, like professional car racing, commercialism is coming to the forefront. It is only a matter of time until Tuiliks are covered with decals sporting the names of sponsoring boats, paddles and accessories. A whole generation of paddlers has appeared that not only make paddling their life but make some of their lively hood from paddling. It has become more and more common for "name" paddlers with unique skills to be paid to appear at an event or to give a workshop.
And the manufacturers, not in business for their health, want these folks to use their equipment. Hence, the freebie. It has gotten so that if one is known enough in the paddling community and decides to take a notable trip, companies will outfit them in order to put their products in the spot light. So, is this a good thing or a bad thing?
Actually, neither, it just is. It is what happens in this world with anything that grows enough that someone can make a buck off it. It is free enterprise and, as long as the products are good and legitimate, I suppose we all benefit in some way. Hey, I cleared (after taxes and travel....but I digress) $1.80 by teaching sea kayaking in 2006 (Note to NDK, Rockpool, etc: I am ready to endorse your stuff. They will be seen by at least 22 paddlers a year).
As long as there is somewhere paddlers can hang with other paddlers and learn from one another without having to go to the check book for every little thing; and as long as folks don't sell their integrity and recommend less than good stuff just because it comes from their sponsors...well, then we will be okay. But this is just puberty. You know what teenagers can be like.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Right now, I am deciding to head out to meet JB for coffee.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
This is the small semi protected basin just north of the break wall and a common place for us to launch. It doesn't look too bad and, just a year ago, I probably would have put in for a paddle. But, something has changed, and I suspect that something is time. Much as I hate to admit it, I sometimes feel my age. That, and one partially paralyzed leg, has made me...well, I don't know whether to call it soft or cautious. Either way, I would rather not launch from such a place, at least not alone.
The waves bother me not at all, it is just the idea of returning tired and having to lift out onto a slippery, iced-over shore. Oh well. It is early in the day, and the temp is already just above freezing. I have a full schedule what with the scholarship fund and the mentoring program, so paddling isn't an option. But tomorrow....
Monday, February 19, 2007
Sunday, February 18, 2007
It will go up into the 30'sF tomorrow and most of next week. Although only in the 20's now, it already feels like a heat wave. This up coming week aught to be excellent for winter paddling. "Warm" air and huge chunks of berg-like ice floating offshore. The problems is, however, that the shore line is piled with ice that is several feet high at the water line.
So, we sat at one of our local caffination spots, sipped coffee and spent this morning telling tales and musing over what swimming pools might be available in the Milwaukee area. But I need to get out onto the lake again. I need to be physically active in a way I cannot be in a gym or, for that matter, a pool. I need to feel the boat being lifted under me and the pull of the water against my paddle...before I go entirely nuts.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
Thursday, February 15, 2007
The night swallowed up the freighter, and I continued east toward Michigan. Although a short journey, I was feeling the fatigue of many long nights at the hospital. This was not a good way to start a vacation. My enthusiasm had over come my judgment, and what I needed was sleep.
With my family asleep below, I did little mental exercises to stay "alert". There were few stars to see, just the red glow in the compass housing. I again played the game of where I would see the next light and when it would appear. As dawn approached, I predicted that I would see the fixed light on the Pentwater pier directly ahead, but only after seeing the light house on a prominence south of there. At the predicted time, a light swung around, but it was dead ahead and not off the starboard bow where the light house should have been. I checked and, unless the compass had developed a tendency to lie, I was on course. But, then, the light house couldn't be dead ahead. The light swung around again.
Okay, just assess things. Get the timing of the light and see which one on the chart matches up. First there was a 15 second pause between flashes, then a full minute. And, wait, it wasn't flashing. I could actually see it going around, from my left to right...odd. I closed with the coast, which ever coast it was. I knew the entire area was sandy and that I was unlikely to hit anything hard. The cockamamie patterns of lights continued, sometimes with a pause of minutes. Then, as first light appeared, I took up the binoculars and had myself a good laugh.
I was, in fact, dead on, and it was clear we would enter the break water with little or no adjustment of the helm. What had I been seeing? UFO? Hallucinations? No. You see, there is a road running east-west along the canal that leads into the harbor and, it seems, cars were driving along it to its end and then making a u turn. Their route took them straight toward us and, in turning, their headlights gave the appearance of a light house.
In each encounter (the boat and the cars), I had been right on course and where I was supposed to have been. But fatigue had turned this little 12 hour crossing into what, in retrospect, was a comedy of misperceptions. All I had to do was trust my instruments, in this case my compass (and I told this second part without digressing).
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 2007
He is out there somewhere. New Zealand radio most recently has reported that he did not have an immersion suit along on his trip. Derrick points out that they may not have clarity as to the difference between a dry suit and an immersion suit. (I recommend his site to follow this story).
I went to the pool last evening and played and, for a while, forgot about this yet-to-be-told story. Part of me wanted to know that I could still roll, skull and wet exit should the need arise. Part of me made me hang upside down in the boat and watch my air bubbles zig zag to the surface while I focused on the fact that I need air to survive.
I remembered, too, that the water is a wonderful place, but it is detached and only follows the laws of physics. It is also totally unforgiving, and I must remember to...
Saturday, February 10, 2007
If you read Derrick each day, you know that Andrew McAuley is nearing the end of his circumnavigation of New Zealand. Apparently, his boat was found last evening abandoned about 40 miles off the coast of NZ. Derrick has been up most of the night tracking the search.
I was about to write a very happy blog about my family when I read Derrick's piece. I don't feel like doing that just now, and it certainly does not seem appropriate. Instead, I will be monitoring Derrick's site until I know something about Andrew's condition. I never met the man (other than via Derrick's site), but my thoughts are with him and his family.
This can be, bottom line, a dangerous sport. Something good has got to come out of this.
Friday, February 09, 2007
I am a member of an international men's group with 30,000+ members around the world. Among the subgroups (we call them missions...but I digress) that meet are the men 50 years old and older. We call them Elders, and we talk about the old ways.
Time was, a boy went through initiation and transitioned into manhood. This, in turn, earned him a seat by the fire, a seat in a circle of men. From within that circle, a man chose mentors. He might ask one man to teach him to hunt and another how to build. In our circles, it is not unusual to ask a younger man to be one's mentor. Still, there is something unique about the Elders and what they bring to the circle. A lot of that has to do with experience.
During introductions (check in), Elders will say something like, "I'm Dick, and I have 65 years of life experience." We don't take kindly to old folks jokes and don't have senior moments. I am happy to say there is a certain deference given the Elders by the younger men. I say that because it is in the societies that venerate their elders that we find longevity and functionality into old age. Here and today, we warehouse our old when they become a burden or just a nuisance. Other societies keep the elders at home where they are respected and serve as role models for the children.
Of course, it behooves a man to live in integrity and to be of service if he is to expect respect when he becomes old. I am sadden by the many young men in our society who do not have a father that participates in the boys life. I am sadden by the lack of role models in so many young men's lives. Sad to say, too many "men" abandon their responsibilities and are, in my judgment, too self serving.
Another saying we have is: Wisdom comes with age. Sometimes, age comes alone.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Stiff from inactivity and bored, I've lost my motivation to get up and get out. I've read, exercised in the basement, done class prep and then...then nothing. All this has spurred talk around the house about getting out of here. I don't know if it's talk or if this time something will come of it. Part of the problem, of course, is where to go.
First off, get out of Milwaukee county and realize a full 50% drop in property taxes. If you have never lived around here, you can't know what the taxes are like or that we have the highest health care costs in the nation (that's no typo...but I digress). Retirement money doesn't stretch very far around here.
Well, if we did pack up, why not move to more moderate weather? Nice idea, but I am not anxious to start life over from scratch in a place with no friends and no connections. Besides, other than the great lakes (which all share the same climate), there are only the oceans, and we can't think of anyplace on them where we would care to live? Florida? Maybe, if it was the northern part. I don't want to substitute boiling summers for freezing winters. More over, my daughters live in the midwest and so will my grandchilren. No way I leave them.
Maybe what Lady Linda's folks once did: sell the house and use the money to get a small apartment here and one in a warm place. Then, where does all my stuff go? Can I hang a few kayaks in the dinette? I think not.
Okay, end of pity piece. I will make some coffee, wait for first light and do the dog-walk thing. Then...then, I don't know. I'll think of something. Maybe a ritual bring-back-spring dance.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Sam Crowley is well know in these parts. He lives up at the top of the state in Marquette on Lake Superior. We see him "down south" here as he often leads IDW and ICE courses out of Rutabaga in Madison. He, along with JB, taught me to teach this game. Sam is a very capable and by the book paddle. He insists on flawless technique and has a keen diagnostic eye.
Well, Sam is going to have a go around the Old Sod. Yup, he is planning a circumnavigation of Ireland. If you click on his name (above), you will be treated to his web site which sports, among a lot of other info, some of Sam's notorious jokes (read: groaners). The site is well organized and easy to navigate, and I recommend it to you.
Sam, don't forget to pack those four-leaf clovers
Sunday, February 04, 2007
I just walked Ansel (it was a quick walk,,,but I digress) and had to wear 14 layers of clothes. It is Sunday...wait, it is Super Bowl Sunday, and there is hot coffee at Bella's where some of the local paddlers will be meeting soon. I'm taking the rest of the day off...starting now.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Friday, February 02, 2007
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Peter is known for his rolling machines, kayaks with low profiles and low back rims.
I have only unwrapped the boat but have not had a chance to even sit in it, which brings up the next interesting issue. I have to snuggle in order to get into the SOF I built, and that boat has more space under the masik than does this one. I guess I can always use butter and a shoe horn. Or, just sit and admire it.
Paddle safe... DS