Saturday, February 26, 2011

Looking For The DMZ
Waring countries are sometimes separated by a DMZ. Theoretically, this is a neutral area free of weapons and hostility. Well, I could use such a place just now. I need a place where there are no weapons (read harsh rhetoric) and no shouting. I need a place were friends don't fight with friends.

 I need a place where folks with differing opinions don't shout at each other in a hopeless effort to change one another's belief systems. I need a place where friends with polar opposite ideas can gather, ignore (at least for a while) their differences and celebrate what draws them together.

 You all probably know about the political battle going on here in Wisconsin. The issues have resulted in demonstrations and have spilled off the newspapers onto Facebook and heaven knows how many blogs. It is on the national news and almost impossible to escape. Almost.
Much to my relief, there is no mention of this turmoil on Marine Channel 16. More over, the lake seems unchanged and unfazed by our human antics. For the most part, I am unaware of where my fellow paddlers stand on these issues and, I suspect, they are unclear what I support. Our kayaks could care less. Away from the cacophony ashore, we gather to enjoy our common  pastime and the water we've come to love so much. It seems to be understood and respected that our outings are not partisan rallies but, rather, a gathering of friends who have something important in common and about which they share similar ideas. I do believe I have found sanctuary.

Paddle safe...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Getting up to speed...slowly
At last, some of the ice has cleared off, and we have been able to get back onto the lake. I am paddling the Cetus while awaiting delivery of the Cetus MV...and I am using a smaller blade. Interestingly, I am moving the boat as well and, perhaps, even better than I had with the tennis racket.  
And, no, I haven't really increased my cadence. Why this is, I cannot say. I haven't been paddling that much and don't think my technique has taken a quantum leap up. In any event, I am just happy to be alive, healthy and back on the water. Sherri also seems to be happy out there.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ever wonder what happens to your students?

I once posted about my back surgery and how the anesthesiologist turned out to have been one of my students. Occasionally, I meet a paddler on the water only to realize I had given him/her their introduction to paddling. Well, I happen to notice that one of the followers of this blog is a Mandy Friedl who, as I recall, was in an anatomy and physiology course I taught.

It looks like she is now a nurse and, if you read one of her blogs, a good and out spoken one. It turns out that her nursing blog has hundreds of followers and, from the one I read, I can see why. Good to know she is doing well. It makes me wonder what the heck happened to all the others.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It won't be long now...
...and guys like this will appear at our launch site on Lake Michigan. It happens every year. The first warm day of spring arrives and along with it what I call the April Fools. They come in recreational boats, seldom have a pfd (and when they do it is on the rear deck) and are never dressed for the water which remains under 50 F.

Apparently, there are squadrons of guardian angels assigned to these would be paddlers as I am unaware of any recent deaths. I have read of some rescues of these individuals, usually by a fisherman who happen to come along at the right time (see guardian angels above).

For my part, I will be doing a presentation at the local REI store and will address the dress needed in these situations.

Paddle safe...

Monday, February 14, 2011

At Last
(all comes to he who waits, including senility)
 It took a little hiking and dragging...
 ...and some careful climbing, lowering and launching...but
 Sherri, Russ and I got onto Lake Michigan first time this year.
 Temperatures were up into the 40's F and the 10 mph wind was gusting to 25-30 before we were done.
It was shear play and fun, and my body appreciated the workout. Temps are supposed to be moderate all week so, hopefully, the ice shelf up here in Milwaukee will break off and allow for multiple paddles each week.
Paddle safe...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Who/What is doing the choosing?
Okay, you get a new (at least for you) kayak, and what happens? The next day you see a kayak that has just hit the market and...and you want it. It looks sleeker, faster, more stable or something. All you know is that you are already thinking about the next kayak, the perfect boat. What, I have often wondered, drives that thought behavior? Can we never be satisfied with the boat we have? And just what is it that that perfect boat offers that our present and past boats do not?

 For some, I suspect, it is pure aesthetics. Just look at some of the Tahe boats, the ones that look like a Greenland Skin on Frame. Sleek, black and kind of sexy. Is that your perfect boat? You might want one even though you have never paddled it and have no idea how it behaves.
 Or are you a disciple who follows the recommendation of an "export", sure that his/her boat is ideal for everyone? Or do you want an NDK boat because, well...because everyone knows they are famous and that Nigel Dennis is a legend in the kayak world?
 Maybe you lust for a skin on frame. After all, the creators of our sport paddled these crafts exclusively. Must be the best boat in the world...or is it? Do you know how to maintain this kind of boat? Do you have a bomb-proof roll (ever try wet exiting a well-fitted SOF?)?
 Okay, you want the longest boat on the market, right? After all, aren't they the fastest boats on the water, doesn't the length of the water line determine its hull speed? Yes...but. Can you push 18 feet of boat around for hours on end? And what about its beam? If its too wide and has too much wetted surface, how much effort will it take to horse that thing around? Or maybe you want to be able to hold seven months of supplies even though all you do are day paddles.
In the end, I can only speak for myself and what I look for in a boat. I had nearly found it in the Cetus I have: It is stable as hell, responds well to edging and sweep strokes and can be rolled with regularity. Then, I paddled the Cetus MV for a week and realized I had been pushing around a bit more boat than my body could handle well. I found that in the MV I had a boat that had less beam and rolled even more easily than its big brother. Bottom line: I found a boat in which I felt both competent and safe. And that is my ideal boat. Now, if the damn thing would only get here.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In the wings.

I haven't posted in a while and haven't paddled in a longer while. I feel as if I am not meeting my obligation to get something up here for the few folks who check out the blog from time to time. I realize now that it is the obligation to myself that isn't being met.

My drivel and writings serve me more than others, of that I am sure. It is a release and a way to muse out loud. Usually, I write and post pics about recent paddling experiences. With those experiences on hold, I thought I had nothing to post. In a way, I didn't; but that was because I was letting my circumstances get to me. I wasn't paddling, I was spending way too much time in doors (much of it at the computer working on school stuff) and it was all getting me down. What to do?

Simple: write about it. It may not be fascinating for others to read, but it helps me cope with my presently dull existence. So, there, I have written about it and, although nothing has actually changed, I feel better. Now, I will walk across campus in the near dark and chill factor of -8F.

Paddle safe..

Friday, February 04, 2011

Waiting is hard...
The city is digging out after a historic blizzard. There is snow everywhere, and the ice shelves along the lake shore have been reinforced making launching essentially impossible. The local river, which had managed to have surface flow until last week,  is now frozen over.
 What splashes of color we had are now under several feet of snow. When the sun comes out, sunglasses are mandatory.
 Other than pool sessions, I have not been on the water this year and it is costing me. I stay inside too much unable to cross country ski. The bindings on my snow shoes busted, so that is out. I am not getting enough exercise, not even with gym sessions. I had gained weight and, happily, have managed to lose 9 pounds of it. I would like to dump another 10 and get near my high school weight of 162. Yes, I am wallowing in it, but life isn't all bad. There are Skype sessions with the grand kids, the Packers are in the super bowl and I am enjoying my two teaching jobs. So, while I await the inevitable thaw, I will just press on and enjoy the winter sculptures.
Paddle safe...

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Yak it up?

I talked about the 3M product that can be applied to a deck to protect against scratches. I believe Gnarly in Australia uses it. Well, Blue Water, who markets the Freedom 500 electric bilge pumps, has a plastic-like product they call Yak Armour. Have any of you had experience with it?

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

 So, a storm of historical proportions has hit our area. The interstates are closed. Wind has been gusting to over 40 knots, and there is drifting snow everywhere. Once again, Mom Nature has shown Her ability to dominate my life. She has, after all, kept me off the lake this year with her ice making abilities. But I digress.   
It began, for me, yesterday. The university closed at 4pm, the same time I usually lecture on pathophysiology. Since my semester consists of 3 mini courses, I have to stay on schedule. This means that on Thursday (if She lets us have class) I need to do a double lecture in one hour so we can hold the exam scheduled for next Tuesday (you following this?).

   Knowing I had today off, I figured I would put on my snow shoes, get the paper and enjoy a leisurely breakfast  (Man plans, G-d laughs). While trying to put on the snow shoes, a binding broke...okay, no snow shoes. I waded into knee-high drifts and made my way to the mail box where, of course, there was no paper. Back to the garage, now with wet socks. And so it went from then on. Lady Linda said we have enough groceries so we can stay in today (she's still asleep). Well, we don't have my favorite omelet veggies. Then, I discover I was low on coffee beans. I did, however, find a can of chicory coffee I had once  bought in New Orleans. There was a satisfying hiss as I opened was still "fresh".
Okay, I am over my snit after an omelet, toast and surprisingly good coffee. I suppose that the paper will eventually show up. I do have all day to write my exam and prep for other lectures. It helps that I have some old pics to enjoy. They bring with them memories of warmer times.

Paddle safe...