Saturday, February 28, 2009

Is It My Memory,
Have Student's Changed?

Actually, this thought didn't evolve from my experience as a paddling instructor. Sure, I have continued to watch others and learn new teaching techniques from them, but the lessons are still pretty much as they have always been. I am talking here about college.

I remember going to college (and med school). I remember going to lectures, taking notes and then studying those notes and the assigned text book. When the time came, I took quizzes and exams (by the thousands), and used my wrong answers to guide my future study. Today, as one teaching 3 college courses (some to premed students), I am flummoxed by some things I am seeing.

1. Students insists that notes and/or power points be put up on our web site well ahead of the lecture (I do the work).

2. They come to the lectures and furiously write notes, but the lecture (and slides) are the ones posted days before the class!

3. A student e mailed to say that she felt my exam was unfair. First, she lectured me, she had been taught that there should be 4 multiple choices, 2 of which should be obviously wrong. She insisted that the student who "knew their stuff" would be able to decide between the two remaining answers. Huh? Wait, she has more to say.

She didn't like that my questions were in two columns as "I could see the other column out of the corner of my eye, all the time." Never mind what she thought about my multiple choice answers that included "a & b are correct", or "all of the above are correct." I cannot, in my deepest fantasy, imagine ever saying that to one of my professors (we had no e mail back then).

4. In one class the students are required to write a paper...a lousy 3-5 pages. Well, you would not believe the grammar and spelling errors. Sentences, that when read out loud, sounded like someone from Mars trying to convey an idea in English, and doing so horribly. More over, many of them use semi colons all over the place. I was taught that to use a ; is to brag about your writing abilities (I really don't see much need for the damn thing, any I am going to hear from the editor). They simply cannot write. My generation wrote much better, and I mean while in high school.

5. They want gimmicks like hand outs and "games" and "tricks" to help them "learn". And on it goes.

So what's up here? Are the high schools dumbing down their standards? I know a lot of people graduate college. I wonder how well prepared they really are to take on a job. I have more faith in a student who has taken an intro to sea kayaking course to save me than I do in some of these scholars.

Padde safe...


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Going No Where...Slowly...Alone
The old adage among sailors is that sailing is the art of going no where, slowly and in great discomfort. Some of this may or may not apply to paddling. This all comes to mind as I sit with several recent issues of various paddling magazines and read the articles about who is paddling around what.

If some "outsiders" were to read our mags they just might think that it is the desire of every paddler (kayak paddlers, that is) to go on a solo expedition around some island not previously circumnavigated and to do so alone. I don't believe that is so...or even close to the truth. Most of us, I am guessing, make short day trips with a Friend or two or with a small group. I wager that most paddles are not long enough to require one to have food along and that they end at the spot from which they began.
Perhaps it is a sign of age, but I prefer day paddles, even when camping. I'm okay making an overnight to that island over there and returning in a day or two. In general, however, putting up and taking down tents, packing and unpacking boats, etc., are not my thing. So what do I like?

Well, I used to be a sailor, so I am okay with going slowly. Certainly there are times when I go down to the local shore for a "work out" paddle. After all, it isn't likely I will see anything new there. When in a new area, on the other hand, I like to dawdle, go off course, paddle into shore and get a look at what's there. May take a phot or two. Sometimes my course is so erratic that I really do go no where and do so slowly.

Frequently, during the warmer months, I go somewhere nearby and launch my Romany and head off into the wind. I go slowly and make little progress, most of the time. It reduces stress and has a near meditative feel to it. I am responsible to only myself. Try it, you might like it.

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, February 24, 2009


My fellow bloggers, I need some help. I find it almost impossible to get directly onto G Mail except via Mozilla Firefox. I don't know why the old (preferred method stopped working). My problem is try to write a blog via this site.

I have done over 800 postings and pretty well know how to do it...But, on this site I find it impossible to move images around the way I can using another server. Once the picture is there, I find it near impossible to adjust images and texts.

Can you help me out here?

Paddle safe...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What I want To See
Fixed at the bottom of all my e mails is, "My passion is teaching." That's why I do paddle days, presentations to ski clubs, symposiums and...well, teach. There is something about taking something I understand and making it understandable to another person. This is true for me whether teaching clinical medicine, pathophysiology, photography or kayaking.

In all those fields of interest, I have "borrowed" from my teachers. My eclectic way of teaching or doing a heart cath is a combination of pieces I have taken from many of my teachers. I drank in what they offered, always eager to learn more. Then, I practiced and practiced until I felt I knew it well enough to teach others.

This practice has come full round in my own lifetime. The orthopedic surgeon who did my knee was once an intern on my service (so was his wife who is now an ob-gyn). When I had emergency back surgery my anesthesiologist was an old medical student of mine. And on it goes.

What would give me great pleasure now, and what I want to see, is someone whom I've taught to kayak become a fine teacher. Pass it on.

Paddle safe...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Kindred Souls
Last evening I was invited to talk to a local Nordic ski club. I took my computer, a power point presentation and some odds and ends and headed over to where they were meeting. I recognized a few faces as fellow (and Karen, a gal) paddlers It was a most enjoyable happening for me. Being outdoor types, they already knew about weather and layering and sun block. They were, on the other hand, eager to hear about the history of kayaking and the possibilities of a sea kayak.
They asked wonderful questions about equipment and techniques that I had brought up during the presentation. They were particularly interested in this rolling thing we do. One gal even asked why we do it. Is it fun? Is it to show off? Well, yeah.

For me, it was like the actual beginning of the new season. The juices were flowing, and I was remembering how much I love this sport. Many thanks to them for inviting me.

Paddle safe...


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's all happening so fast
I have not had time to blog today what with 3 exams, two quizzes and 2 lectures to prepare. Then, at 4 am, I had to take my mother in law to the hospital (she's fine). Then, when I least expect it, things start to look good.

I am signed on to staff at 3 symposiums this spring. I was offered another teaching job for the summer. I arranged the class so that I lecture one full morning a week. I chose Wednesday so weekends can be longer. Now, I have to keep my eye on the calendar...starting with Canoecopia next month. I can only hope that there will be some classes for me to teach over the summer.

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Before and After
Our Sunday paddles begin in the parking lot at our launch site. Upon arrival, there is a quick-paced effort to get boats off cars and into the water. Most paddlers arrive already in their dry suits, and we are generally on the water ahead of schedule. After the paddle, everything marches to a different drummer.

There is a more leisurely pace as we change into shore-type clothes and help one another get the boats back on our cars. Stories, some started on the water, are continued on land and into the coffee shop where we meet afterwards. That's when we exchange the news we've heard about paddlers long absent and what is going on in our own lives. Personally, I enjoy the company of fellow paddlers off as much as on the water. While in the boats, we will sometimes chat if the water is calm and the pace slow enough. But I prefer the bumpier waters and opportunities to play and improve. So, for me at least, it is the shore chatter that fills that feeling of community amongst the paddlers. What's not to like?

Paddle safe...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Guest Blog

So, I thought I'd take Mom and visit grandma and papa up in Wisconsin. It was really cool up there. They had snow and even a shovel just for me. I had to help clear the driveway. Papa's garage is really neat. Well, not neat-neat, but full of neat stuff. He has these kayaks hanging from the ceiling and junk everywhere.

On Sunday, papa and I went for coffee with the kayakers.
Nice bunch. Interesting people.
Well, that's it for now. I may write you all again if I can sneak in here and use papa's computer.

Joe...Oh, papa says...

Paddle safe...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Joe & others...
...are headed this way. By this evening the house will be filled with family. 2 daughters, a son in law and Joe. It will be a special weekend if all goes as planned. For one thing, there will be a baby shower for very pregnant daughter #2. Also, I will get to hang with my son in law and his dad and, of course, Joe. But that's not the biggest item on the agenda.
Should all go well, this Sunday will be the day that Joe meets the kayak group. Since he lives in Cincinnati where they are on eastern standard time, he ought to be up and ready to go early Sunday morning. I just have to decide whether to go out for the launch so he can see boats on the water or meet the group for coffee where he can have some real face time.

Ideally, we would arrive to see them at the take out and go on with them for coffee. So much will depend on nap times, weather and contents of the diaper. What a great sport.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It All Depends On How You Look At ItToo bad some guy stole the line before I could use it. To paraphrase him: It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. It's another cold weekend here, but it is also definitely time to look at the good times coming up soon. Up next, Canoecopia, that Rutabaga Sponsored conglomeration of a kayak trade show, university classes on all things related to the outdoors and marvelous pool demos. I've been fortunate enough to get on staff again this year, and I can't help but wonder what color shirts we will be wearing. So, tell mom and dad that you want to be in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday the 13th and/or Saturday the 14th and/or Sunday the 15th.
On another note, good times are headed to our home starting tomorrow. Daughter #1, grandson #1, daughter #2. fetus #2 and son in law #2 are headed up to help celebrate a bunch of family birthdays. Maybe it is just the best of times.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Disposable Society

At the risk of sounding like a political hack, I am compelled to write about a social issue that has long occupied my thoughts and those of this country. I speak here of health care. As a doctor, I was always concerned about getting the best care for everyone, and the cost be damned. In the beginning of my career, I had the option of charging less or nothing to those who could not afford the going rate or didn't have insurance. Once the government entered the picture, such largess became illegal. I had to charge everyone the same thing...or else.

I watched as our neighbors to the north (Canada) went about with a socialized form of care. That is, the government paying the bills and making the rules. It seemed to work. Then I began talking to insurance executives I know who informed me that they did a healthy business selling private health insurance to Canadians. In Florida one winter I met a group of Canadian Orthopedic Surgeons. Why were they there? Seems the system had spent its yearly allowance on elective procedures so enough orthopods were left at home to handle emergencies while the rest went on holiday. The patient (a nuisance in such a system) simply ha to wait until next years crumbs were dolled out.

One day, at my home hospital, I listen as a neurologist talked on the phone to some surgeon in Canada. It seemed that the neurologist's daughter needed a back operation and that, since she lived in Canada with her mother, it would be scheduled in 6-9 weeks. My colleague informed the Canadian doc that the girl was on his private American insurance policy and that his daughter would be covered. The surgery was scheduled for the next morning.

Now, as this country heads toward a similar practice, my greatest fear comes to the fore; the fear I've voiced to confidants for some time. Rationing. A health system run by a business or a government would make decisions based on money rather than compassion. And so it seems. There is already talk about how one would be disqualified for certain (expensive) procedures based solely on their age.

That is sobering to someone like myself who is very active and might have to live with some chronic condition (or die from it) because I am too old to qualify. The government giveth and does so by taking. Had that been in place, the two 90 year olds (that's right) I once sent for bypass surgery would not have not been able to have it. They were having a miserable quality of life until the surgery, and each lived an additional 8-9 years of good quality lives. Worth the expense for 2 ninety year olds to live 9 more years and enjoy life with their famalies? If your answer is no, then what the hell is the point of helping anyone? To make them productive for many more years during which they can earn and pay taxes so that when they become disposable we write them off?

By the way, none of our congressmen or their families would ever be covered by such a plan as they already have their own gold-plated plan. Seems that we have a royal ruling class here with special privileges including the ability to tax the masses. Silly me; I thought that was why we fought the revolutionary war in the first place.

Paddle safe...and you'd better stay well.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Better Than Finding a Pyramid
It's not even spring, but Lady Linda is already doing spring cleaning. Generally, that means throwing out old useless stuff. Around here it means throwing out all my good stuff.
While rummaging through what used to be a photographic dark room, she found "tons" of my old proof sheets and prints. Many are 11 x 14 inches, and what she hauled upstairs for my inspection weighed...well, a ton. As I went through them (I was to be allowed to save a few for keeps), a flood of memories washed over me. I came to realize the hundreds of hours I'd spent developing negatives, proofing them and working all evening, sometimes two, on a single print. I was also taken by the breath of subject material I'd covered over the years.

I recall, too, the many many people who allowed me the privilege of photographing them. They don't reproduce well here, but I've taken some pictures of pictures to give you a small glimpse.

Now, I need to go back down into that darkroom to rummage through the hundreds of images that have been waiting for a long time to be seen.

Paddle safe...


Monday, February 09, 2009

The Kid is Back
Ice, hours of sitting while doing class prep, some mild sciatica and a busted back band have conspired to keep me off the water since November 30th of last year. Yesterday, that all changed. I hit the water with my new back band (thanks Doug) and got in my first real paddle of the year. I limited my distance as the sciatica was not quite gone.

We found a three foot opening in the ice shelf and were soon enjoying a nearly windless day with temps around 40F. Bob was first in and chose to step off the small shelf that is left.

Doug, as usual, decided to risk brain-freeze and got in a roll in the freezing water.

Sherri, in her Explorer, also seemed to happy to be out there again.

Now, for another first. JB, Nydia are I are getting together at our regular spot for coffee this morning. We should all wear carnations so we recognize one another.

Paddle safe...


Friday, February 06, 2009

A year ago?Rummaging through some old files and came across one for February of '08. Hard to believe that a year has passed since taking these images. Seems like a few months ago. Actually, the lake front is looking a good deal like it did 12 months ago.
It may go as high as 40 F today, and we're hoping that will take out the ice shelf that is blocking us from launching safely.
I also hope to get over to Doug's this evening and get the Romany ready to rock and roll (Bad pun. My bad). Just now, I have a bit of sciatica from long sessions in the chair doing class preparation. I think it is a mild piriformis syndrome and will start the appropriate stretches today.

Time to put the coffee on.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Out with the old!
Just in the nick of time to help me through the winter blahs, Doug Winter sent me these photos. He has been good enough to take my Romany to his place to that the old red black band (see torn hole on your left) can be replaced with an Immersion Research band.It will sit a bit higher than shown in his photo here. At the same time, I drove by one of our popular launch sites and saw that the water was pretty open. There is still a shelf along the shore, but it is not high and just might break off wit the few days of warmer weather predicted at the end of the week.

So far, so good. Off to work.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Behold, the Kayaker Who are they that alone, or in the company of like minded friends, launch their small crafts and point them toward places on the horizon? The ones who, alone in the evening, go down into their basements to lovingly assembly fine wood into fine and lovely boats?The one's who, with intention, tip over their fragile crafts in cold waters so they might practice the skills that may one day save their lives?
Who are the ones who make boats of simple things and follow in the footsteps of the Inuit who gave them gift of the kayak?
The ones who go out onto ice-clogged waters because they must paddle? Who are the one's who, first thing each day, check on the weather before thinking of having breakfast and then
look for conditions that will challenge, hopefully improve, their skills? Who are these men and women who, even ashore, gather to talk and share experiences and to learn from one another?
They are the one's in simple craft with often nothing more than a stick to propel them and right themselves should they tip. They are the one's who love and follow an old tradition and who love the water and their little crafts. They are the one's who live life fully. They are the one's who take risks and protect one another. Behold, they are the kayakers.
Paddle safe...

Monday, February 02, 2009

My Life Has Changed

Between the weather and the teaching responsibilities, I've gone from a care-free retiree who paddled when he wanted to a stay at home sit by the computer slug. Except for an occasional trip to the pool and diminishing trips to the gym, I hardly get outside, and then only to drive to one of the colleges where I teach. I even go long periods without thinking about or even wanting to paddle.My tuilik drying in the next room (from the pool session) is the only sign of any activity. I haven't even sat down with JB for coffee in I don't know how many weeks (months?). I'm okay with it as I assume it will all pass with the first hint of warm weather. I will get into a rhythm for preparing lectures and will find time to paddle. But, what if I don't?

Paddle safe...


I have cabin fever. I have calluses on my tush from doing lecture prep work. I have not been on the lake in months. I am sick of rolling around within the confines of an indoor swimming pool. Doug has my Romany and is waiting for the back band to arrive from Immersion Research. Linda is still in warm, sunny Florida. I haven't taken a decent fresh photo in I don't know how long.
DaveO's tag game has sent me rummaging through old folders. It is a sign of boredom as well pointed out today by Michael. In any event, I came across this photo of a family gathering that took place here, at my home. I went up to the second floor and invited all to "salute". I then joined the group and someone else redid the photo so that I could "salute" as well. I salute this weather and what it is doing to me.
Paddle safe...

Sunday, February 01, 2009

I was tagged.So, DaveO has this tag thing and has tagged me and others. Apparently, we are to take the 4th photo of our 4th file and write about it. Above is the photo. Never mind his name. It was recorded in 2005.

Being very active in men's work, and loving available light photography, I recorded this image at a gathering of men. I don't remember where or when or what we were talking about. I like to use available light and gray scale images, especially with male subjects. Not my best photo ever, but certainly not my worst.

Now I have to tag 4 folks. I won't mention their names so that they can make free choice to participate or not.

Paddle safe...