Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The cold and I

I never enjoyed either of the extremes in temperature, and it wasn't until I got into sea kayaking that I learned to dress for the cold. Suddenly, there was something I enjoyed doing in winter (other than taking a southern vacation...but I digress). Many a day, the neighbors would watch from behind frosted windows while I hefted the boat onto my Blazer and took off for Lake Michigan. Up to now, or at least a few weeks ago, this had been a dream winter with many days seeing temps above 40F. Now, however, we are not seeing temps above freezing. The chill factor right now is -8F. And, I might add, I don't feel like paddling out there.

It's safe to say that I was not an Inuit in a previous life or, if I was, I ended it all sitting on an ice berg. Even walking Ansel in the morning requires a layer of insulating underwear, Jeans, fleece top, snow pants, fleece socks and heavy waterproof boots. I also wear a pull over hood with a warm watch cap under that. There are also, of course, ski gloves. Once outside, it doesn't seem too bad, but I enjoy coming back in and having coffee.
I can tell you that I don't particularly like Milwaukee. It is a tax hell, and (as I've blogged on before) it is citified in all directions except east. Why do I stay? Family and wonderful friends are here along with one of the Great Lakes and plenty of inland lakes as well. It is also of some importance that, as I and Lady Linda grow older, I have wonderful contacts all over the city, including the medical profession. I can get things done here. Did I mention that I will have a grandson in May in Cincinnati (an 8 hour drive or one hour plane ride from here)?

Moving to warm weather would mean finding an ocean coast city and starting all over again. The thought of that seems overwhelming to me, especially when I cant' get myself to step out of the front door on some days.

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

When you walk through a storm...
The song says that when we walk through a storm we should keep our heads up high. I am sure that is a metaphor for staying optimistic during hard times since following such advice makes one a target for lightening. In another venue, kayak rolling, it is also terrible advice. Bottom line, we would do better with a golf pro (who keeps telling the duffers to keep their head down...but I digress) than an ACA instructor if we are to succeed.
I've already talked about the C-C roll (I don't like it and never teach it first as does the ACA) and my letter to the editor in Sea Kayak Magazine. Today, I wish to add an idea about keeping one's head down.
A fundamental problem with folks just learning to roll is the desire to come up to a sitting position and the silly idea that one can. One can't. The act of sitting up requires lifting the head and, thus, missing the roll. Instead, I indoctrinate students with the concept that a roll actually consists of the boat coming underneath them and lifting them up as the boat rights itself. This, of course, makes the hip "snap" (something only hula dancers do) a pull on the thigh brace to get the boat underneath yourself. It also removes emphasis on the paddle which, to the eye of a beginner, is a powerful lever in the C-C roll...and it ain't.
Now, the student can learn to go through rotation (not too fast and after a good setup) and hold constant pressure on the downside thigh brace while waiting for the boat to scoop them up. It works. Try it. You'll like it.
Paddle safe...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Perk up
In case the snow flakes make it hard for you to read it, the name of this place is Kletzsch Perk. It is across the street from Kletzsch Park and is a pleasant and well-lit place for coffee (It is also famous for being across the street from Greg's pad...but I digress). You will also want to know that I grew up in the Sherman Park area of Milwaukee (and, yes, there is a Sherman Park).
When a gas station in that area closed down and remained abandoned for years, some enterprising fellow bought it and made it into a coffee shop he named Sherman Perk. The one above is his more recent venture and is a few blocks from my home (and the river and Greg's pad).
Small business enterprises are alive and well in this area...and the paddlers around here have yet another place to get caffinated.
Paddle safe...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Back to the future
I looked out the window a few days ago, and there they Kids playing in the snow. Imagine, in this day of electronic games, couch potatoes and computers (kids are all thumbs now...but I digress), these kids were simply playing in the snow. This, of course, brought on a flood of nostalgia (hey, I can remember the storm of 1947).
Back in the day, bicycles had Bendix coaster brakes, and you applied them by peddling backwards. Back then, roller skates were attached to your regular shoes, and everyone wore a skate key around their necks. Back then, putting a kid in a coaster wagon and pulling him was called a ride...and it was fun (although, at the moment, I can't remember why). Back then, if you wanted a real thrill, you used a cloths pin to attach a playing card to the front wheel of your Schwinn bike so that the card stuck through the spokes. When you rode, you got a great sound effect from the spokes beating on the card. The bikes, by the way, weighed about 200 pounds and were built like tanks.
Back then, we made our own scooters. We broke a skate into two pieces and attached them to a 2x4 style board (we didn't buy the stuff but, rather, scrounged it...but I digress again). Then we took a crate and nailed it to one end of the board. Finally, we took a stick of wood and nailed it across the top of the crate to create handles. One foot went onto the board while the other pushed on the pavement. When you got the thing going pretty good, both feet went onto the board and you had yourself a 5-30 second thrill.
Anyway, when I saw the kids actually out in the snow, away from the boob tube, I thought there just might be hope for us all. I wonder if they know how to play hide and seek.
Paddle safe...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

When the world is like a colon
Around this time of year, Wisconsin is like a colon; a place where the sun don't shine. Gloomy all day long, it provides the unwary with an ideal opportunity to enjoy lethargy, depression and skin cancer. How easy it is to forget about the UV rays being sent down by the deities to cook our epidermis and turn our cells to the dark side. In this happy vein, JB has posted a nice piece on the problem and how to avoid such troubles.
As for the non-skin problems, I recommend Citrical for its content of vitamin D3. Known as the sunshine vitamin, it is produced from cholesterol being secreted onto the skin and interacting with Mr. Sun. Since we get reduced skin exposure during winter, vitamin D levels can fall, and that is associated with depression (are you starting to feel more cheerful about winter now?...but I digress)
In any event, it is Saturday, and my creative juices are more like cold creative molasses. They just ain't flowing fast. I will, therefor, give myself permission to put on my 17 layers of cloths, walk Sir Ansel and return for a day of hot coffee, reading and some light exercise which I do in my basement, another place where the sun don't shine.
Paddle safe...

Friday, January 26, 2007

When It Rains... pours. Referring to yesterday's post: I never got to have breakfast with Erv. His wife, Mary, called shortly after I posted to tell me that Erv's blood pressure was low, he had had a bad night and she wasn't sure how serious it was. Mary is bright and happens to be an RN, so I was concerned. I suggested 911 and a ride to the hospital. I will be calling her shortly for follow up.
Then, late last evening, I called my mother in law to discover that she had severe stomach pains and constant vomiting. My brother in laws went over and called me back. I suggested another ambulance ride. Haven't heard anything all night, so I am assuming the best. Just now, however, I need strong coffee and a quiet moment.
Paddle safe...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Meeting Erv
I first met Erv when he came to me as a patient. He was (and is) a soft spoken man with a wry smile and quick sense of humor. He is very bright and easy to under estimate. It was during one of his stress tests (a time when I have a "captive" audience...but I digress) that I learned that Erv had been an engineer, had done movie productions (no videos back then) and was, at the time, teaching photography at a local college. Photography! We bonded
Over the years, Erv and I have become friends.and have stayed in touch since my retirement. At least once a month we meet for breakfast at a nearby resturant. Today is one of those days, and I look forward to stories of the old Lieca cameras and how it was done back then. I also get to see how Erv is doing with his Parkinson's.
Quiet simple times. Sitting with an older man and hearing his stories. It's all good for my soul.
Paddle safe...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Be the fool
I read an interesting article about old brains and how they have problems learning new things. Most people presume (and, it is generally true) that old folks have trouble learning new skills. To explain this, many theories have been offered, some expressing what seems to be the obvious. Old bodies respond slowly, and old minds learn slowly. There is also the idea of degeneration of the brain slowing the learning process or making it impossible. In any event, it seems intuitive that old folks will not take up new physical skills quickly. The article, however, offers another possible explanation for this phenomena.
When learning a new skill there will almost always be a period of awkwardness as the body tries to perform patterns of muscle behavior previously untried and unlearned. During these early stages of learning we will look foolish, something that is uncomfortable for most adults. When we really start "showing our age", we become even more self conscious about anything that might make us look senile to others.
Children, on the other hand, throw themselves into new experiences with little concern about how they look during their attempts. They are, simply, caught up in the newness and delight of trying something new and how that makes their bodies feel. In essence, they have no inhibitions about looking foolish. As a result, they are eager to try and to try again, thus leading to quicker progress.
So, when you choke up on that roll attempt maybe it is because we are all watching and you are more focused on how you appear to us than you are on the business at hand. Hey, what's the worst thing that could happen? Miss the roll? Big deal, you won't be sent to prison and you won't be laughed at by all of us who remember all too well when we were exactly where you are now. So be the fool and risk succeeding, and...
Paddle safe...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Winter & Black Holes
This is not a photograph from the Hubble telescope, just a shot of an inlet on the nearby river before the recent snows fell. It captures, at least for me, some of what winter has come to feel like: blah. As I sit here at 6:25 am, there is nothing to suggest that the sun will show up for work today. The chill factor is 10F, and Ansel is wondering when I am going to get him out for our morning walk.
Everything is different in winter. I wake in the dark and dress in layers of warm cloths. I go downstairs and adjust the heat trying to find that magic level between comfort and bankruptcy (I tend toward the frugal end of the scale while Lady Linda goes for the sauna effect...but I digress).
Then I sit down to blog all over you. Sometimes I have an idea (although I never plan one in advance...and it shows...but I digress again), and sometimes I rummage through photos to get some inspiration. I went to the photos today, hence this sad drivel.
Winter plus the years have reduced the joy of "braving" the elements. I know it isn't all that bad, in fact this has been a mild winter. Still, I wake more slowly and get up feeling stiffer than I did a few years back when subfreezing temperatures were just another element with which to deal when paddling. I have, I fear, become soft. I like a short carry (of course you can help me) and warm water with sunshine on my back. Right now, I am squeezing all the optimism I can over the announcement of Canoecopia in Madison. More than the robin, it is a sure sign of warm weather to come.
I should like to make this rant as long as War and Peace in order to stay in this very supportive chair. I need, however, to get on some more layers, good boots, head coverings and ski gloves so Ansel can uncross all 4 legs.
Paddle safe...

Monday, January 22, 2007

I need a little (parking) space

Let's see if I can take some seemingly disassociated pieces of data and bring them together into a coherent whining session. To begin, I remember Milwaukee back to the late 1940 years. We lived on the west side (about 4200 west). On a Sunday, we would pack lunches and drive out into the country to visit a small airport (Timmerman Field) and watch the little planes come and go. That field (at about 8000 west) is now engulfed in city. In fact, during my residency I lived even further west than that (100000...but I keep digressing).

Since then, Milwaukee has grown south (almost to Chicago), north (to Port Washington) and west out to Waukesha County land. There is no east because of a huge lake (Michigan, for the geographically challenged).

I'm getting there. See the picture above? It represents man's insanity. We pay to park a car...and I hate it. We pay to buy space. We (not me) go down town to shop and pay for the privilege of doing so.

It's nuts. It's like me saying that if you want to chose me over all the other businesses at the Mall's, I will charge you to leave your car near my store.

Finally (aha, the insufferable boar gets to it), there is the privatization and commercializing of water frontage (read: launch sites). In this category, we do better. Sure, we have to buy a seasonal launch sticker in order to park at the South Shore launch lot (what the hell, I get a Senior Citizen Discount, but I digress), and we need a State Park Sticker to launch there (and there are many)...But, along the Milwaukee River there is a water trail with all sorts of free access. Even down town. BUT YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR PARKING IF YOU USE THEM. AAAAAARG! So, pay up, then

Paddle safe...


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hanging out in the poolIt seems that Michael and Derrick are feeling the winter and that Michael, like we here in Milwaukee, is being frozen out of our launch sites. So, I suggested to Michael, get thee to a pool. That's what I did last evening, and it was wonderful.

After a week of intense sadness, the warm water was (as I had hoped and mentioned in a recent blog...but I digress) nurturing. It seemed, too, that my hiatus from paddling, however short, had left my body hungry for action.

I went between a euro and a Greenland stick and spent the evening sculling and bracing and rolling and playing like a kid. Everything was working almost all the time. Sweeps, storm, angel rolls and reentry rolls. I even found an opportunity to teach some fellows a T rescue and help one with his roll. There is something to be said for the healing powers of water. Now if I can just find the ibuprofen.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Turn your head
and cough OK,
so don't turn your head...but do cough. It will help you paddle better and even get you that flat abdomen you 've been dreaming about.
Talk to Gary Simon, our local kayak fitness guru (it's like talking with a colleague, that's how much he knows about exercise...but I digress), and he will tell you that you need to engage your transverse abdominal muscle to get the effect. This is one of the keys to Pilates.
If you sit up, or stand, and place the palms of your hands on your belly at bellybutton level with the fingers of each hand pointing at one another and nearly touching...(I will wait while you read that marvelous sentence again...and again), your palms will be over the tranversus abdominus muscles. Now cough, and you will feel them contract (only turn your head if someone is standing right in front of you).
Now, if you aren't already, sit in the paddling position or get on the floor on your back with your knees bent. Place the hands as above, cough and hold your abdomen in the contracted state induced by the cough. If you now paddle or do a crunch you will be exercising the muscle that you need to get at in order to look like the folks on the covers of those magazines you read. If you fail to engage this muscle group, you only get the vertical muscles at the mid line (abdominis retus).
Your welcome
Paddle safe...

Friday, January 19, 2007

The storm is over...
for nowThe family has dispersed, my oldest has returned to Cincinnati. The house is empty except for Lady Linda, Ansel, myself and a tall glass in which a flame flickers on a wick sitting in oil. It has burned since Dad's funeral and will go out when seven days has passed.

Many traditions have been observed including the eating of eggs, a sign of life. Supportive friends and family prepared plates of food for mourners, a ritual to remind us that life goes on and that one must still take care of them self. Many tears have been shed. I know there will be more and that they will come when they need to. I have been through this before, with my father.

So, like a beach swept and left different by a wave, we take what is left and go on...or begin again. If all goes well, a kayak will go on the car tomorrow, and I will head for the pool. Restarting in warm water feels right, almost nurturing. I will do some braces, some sculling and a roll or two and see how things feel. Hopefully, someone will ask me to teach them something so that I can also be of service. And then I will go on, one stroke at a time.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Taking it to the classroom

At our first class, I warned my Anatomy & Physiology students that they would be seeing some pictures of kayaks and that they could earn extra credits on a quiz by answering a question about the sport (no loss of points for missing it). I didn't have to tell them that the lecturer would also subject them to some corny humor.

Last evening I gave them a session on medical terminology and the need for precise use of terms. For instance, when a patient says that their stomach hurts we cannot know exactly what that means. On the other hand, if we know the pain is in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen we can begin to narrow things down. During the evening I asked them,

"Is this a skull or a scull?" Seeing the two words juxtaposed made them stop and think just how the word was spelled (it is my skull in a neoprene cap while I scull...and digress).

Then I asked them,

"Is this a sign or a symptom?" (JB providing the visual lesson).

Answer: It is a sign of a bad symptom.

Paddle safe...


Wednesday, January 17, 2007


First, let me thank those of you who wrote and shared your wonderful comments. I do not even know who some of you are, and your support is just as welcome. The past week has seemed like one Sunday after another. My routine disappeared as the family gathered and mourned. Today, for the first time since this all started, I am just beginning to get back some of the old sense of "I". That, in turn, was stimulated by Derrick's blog about being in the middle of a vast body of water.

When I sailed my Hans Christian 42 on Lake Michigan, I loved being off shore. I was often solo and liked being able to take care of myself. Of course, I had a well-founded cutter with 6 tons of displacement a good compass and all sorts of sybaritic systems. Kayaking, on the other hand, has been a more intimate experience for me.

Being inches, rather than feet, away from the water's surface is a personal experience for me. I am not so much on the water ( or even in it) as with it. I can dangle my arms and touch the stuff, I can scull with most of my upper body in it and, of course, I can take a refreshing roll in it. I don't leave a huge wake, and I disturb virtually nothing. Except for some nervous birds, nothing seems to object to my presence.

If you are not from around here, you can hold up your hand with your palm facing away from you and pretty much have a map of Wisconsin. Your thumb will represent Door County where Rutabaga has their symposium in spring. JB, Derrick and I have been teaching there (and, why, they ask us back is a mystery...but I digress). In any event, I have thought about the symposium upon wakening the last two days.

I am not a big off shore guy anymore (hence, the reference to Derrick's blog). I very much like day trips and returning to a base. I've been to war, flown upside down at supersonic speeds, saved lives, won Judo tournaments and experienced the love of Lady Linda and family. I don't need any more "thrills" than that. There are still, however,two things around paddling that turn me on to this day: just being on the water and feeling competent (not to be confused with cocky) and teaching.

At a pool session a few weeks back I waded over to a father and son struggling with rolling. I offered my humble help and had the son rolling in no time. Today, I received an e mail from the dad saying he had returned to the pool, worked on what I had told him and got his roll. Is that not excellent, or what?

Tonight, I will return to the classroom to teach Anatomy & Physiology at a local college. I guess I am back in the game...and I want to be back in warm waters. I want to be back in Door County. I want to be at the symposium. I am awakening. (ps: The photo is the Med.and was taken from a hotel in Tel Aviv).

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Over-Night Success*

*There's the old saying, it only took me 30 years to become an overnight success. Well, Derrick has arrived at that wonderful place in life. After working various parts of his anatomy off for years, he has recently become sea kayaking's equivalent of a made man. He is in the loop, running with the big dogs, hanging with the in crowd.........

Morning after morning and for years, he has pounded out his blog and sent us wisdom, beautiful images, the latest kayak-gossip and information. He has kept us abreast of developments in the commercial area letting us know as new equipment became available (and sometimes before it became available...but I digress). A creative man, Derrick has supplied us with whimsical lyrics from all sorts of musicians and links to everything you could possibly want to know about sea kayaking and rolling and stroking and...

And he has been in the "gym" all this time. Pools, lakes, gunk holes, nearly dry water falls, you name it and my man, Derrick, has been there working on everything one can try in a kayak. He paddles, he rolls and, when his arms are tired, he stands up in the cockpit...sometimes on his head. He strives, almost daily, to master the sea kayak.

As many of you know, Derrick has a circumnavigation of Puerto Rico on his drawing board. This is something he has been piecing together for a while and the project is starting to sprout blossoms. You can read, on his site, about his paddling partner and some of the support he is getting from various sources. In the past day, he has announced a biggy. A major kayak company (not yet in the states) will be supplying boats for the expedition. And that, my friends, is the sign of success in this game.

In reality, it is just an affirmation of what we all knew, all along, about Derrick: he is the real deal. I am happy to know him and proud to number him among my friends.

Paddle safe...


Monday, January 15, 2007

Starting again

Monday, the start of a new week (on some calenders). The beginning of the work week (for some). The first day of what will become a normal and new way (for my wife, her family and me).

My father inl law died late the night of the 10th, and we buried him yesterday. In between those times, family gathered from as far as Florida and California. Relatives we hadn't seen in years, even decades, appeared to comfort Mom and to honor Dad. There was grieving and, at the same time, arrangements had to be made. Still, with everything that needed to be done, it was not hectic.

In fact, time slowed to a stop. People forgot about work. We just gathered, sat together, hugged, told the stories over and over and talked and talked and talked. I imagine, as the rituals played out, that we did what people have done since the beginning of time, turning to our traditions and the comfort of friends and family. And the healing began.

Today is just another day, and it is the first day of how it's going to be from now on for our family. As I sit here and write, it is not the same "I" that sat here a week ago. Something has happened. The world has changed, and this has all happened, in one form or another, a thousands times before. I will adapt and watch with curiosity to see how this experience has changed me. Gradually, I will ease back into the paddling, the teaching and coffee at Bella's. I will be my old self again, and I will be different, but how I will be different I do not yet know.

Paddle safe...


Thursday, January 11, 2007

No More Papas?My father, Papa Louie, died about a year after I became married, and mom, Grandma Carol, followed a few years later. My children, therefore, have only known one grandfather, Papa Joe. And he was a blessing in all our lives.
He was, in every way, the complete father, husband and grandparent. He was that rare mixture of humor, love and discipline that produced a fine family and innumerable friends and admirers. I say was because he died just before midnight last night. He was 90 years old.
We are in mourning for our enormous loss, and I, for one, do not know who could or would replace him in the lives of my children and their children. I do know life goes on. That's the way it is.
The funeral is on Sunday after which we will all begin to take stock of our own lives without Papa Joe. For now, however, there are no Papas and there will not be another until someone grows into the role. I will be back later. Until then...

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

This morning, for the first time in a long time, I didn't jump out of bed when I woke up. Instead, I just lay there letting random memories play across my mind's eye. I stretched a little and, when there was nothing left to do (I ran out of reruns...but I digress), I begrudgingly got out of bed and began my routine.
I was still stiff from exercising yesterday and, worst of all, it was still winter. The days are still short and sunlight unreliable. I have a lot of "scut" work to do today before teaching my Anatomy & Physiology course at a local college tonight. All in all, nothing like circumnavigating Australia or going over Niagra Falls in a canoe. (Oh yeah, Beta Blogger still won't upload images for me)
Still, life is good. My stomach is full (too full, me thinks) and the garage is full of kayaks. There are good friends, coffee and coffee with good friends. And that, my friends, is all I have to say about how lack luster I feel today.
Paddle safe...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Last night, the Discovery HD channel aired a program named Arctic Mission. It was about Inuits and their lives, both past and present. There were interwoven films of the old ways and how things are done today. Wonderful old footage with translations were aired including interesting interviews with elders who remembered the old days and old ways.

It was fascinating to see an old short film of dogs dragging a seal carcass across the ice followed by one of men on snow mobiles doing the same. Another sequence showed how the elders believe an iceberg to be alive and will not approach certain ones lest, "...they will grab you...." In one scene, three older men watch from a distance as some young boys climb about on such a berg.

I read recently that the blood of present day Inuits contain the highest level of pollutants found anywhere in the world. This is, in part, due to the gulf stream bringing up "gifts" from the south and, in part, due to the eating of seals which are close to the top of the food chain. Seal meat, as it turns out, contains the concentration of pollutants from all the fish that seal has eaten. When told of these laboratory findings, most Inuits pointed out that this was their way of life and that they were unwilling to change it.

So, they go about the "old ways" using engine driven snow vehicles, rifles, synthetic fish nets and outboard engines on fiberglass boats. One thing, though, none of them were wearing neoprene garments.

Paddle safe...


Monday, January 08, 2007

Hanging in there
The neurologists tell us senior citizens to not worry if we can't find our car keys. They also tell us to call them if, when we do find the keys, we don't know what they are for. Just another pearl of wisdom to keep track of where I am in the life cycle.
JB and I went to a pool session yesterday. I took my SOF. I was looking forward to the joy of rolling about and even getting one of my forward finishing techniques down. It wasn't to be. Instead, I felt stiff, klutzy and generally off my game. I like being on the water, especially with JB (he works 47 job, 28 hours a day, and we haven't paddled together for a while...but I digress). The only down side was that he (of blogger fame) now has his own Optio waterproof camera, and he caught every ugly nuance of my flailing.
With an hour to go, I got out of the boat and helped a father and son team learn to roll. That I seemed to be able to do well, and they made amazing progress. Looking back at it, this morning, it seemed like another evolutionary step in the process: from doing to teaching (see one, do one, teach one). Maybe, just maybe, I can still be of some use to the Universe.
This morning, my shoulders feel tired and my back is tight...and I can't find my car keys.
Paddle safe...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Keeps on ticking...We've been up, off and on, most of the night with a family situation. Lady Linda's Dad, who is over 90 and beginning to show it, has been ill with various complaints (being up has reminded me of my many many years in practice and being on call...but I digress). Bottom line, we need to take him in for a few tests so he can get the proper medication.

The clock, on the badly colored wall, is another image from the 1950's house collection I referred to yesterday. It reminds me of how things have changed, how time has marched on and how neither man nor interior decoration can hold up to the relentless passage of the days. The clock, in at least one way, is can get a new battery and keep on ticking. Not so much with we humans. We all end up gong the way of the flesh. Should the clock ultimately fail, we can get another, one that is more contemporary. Not so with loved ones.

If you love someone, hug them now and let them know how you feel...before their battery wears out.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Anything and everything
for Dummies
I was just checking out Michael's blog about forgetting his pfd at home and thought about how I've almost walked out of the house on a freezing day without taking my dry suit. Thing is, if I don't have a routine, I forget my pfd or my VHF radio. One of my friends' favorite and ongoing comedy series is to watch me getting ready to launch and trying to remember where I've put the car keys (I set them on the back step of the Blazer now...but I digress).
All this brought to mind the ...for Dummies series of books and how folks cope with such issues. That, in turn, reminded me of a shot I took on my recent trip to Cincinnati to visit my daughter and her husband. We went over for the inspection of the house they are buying. It was built in the 1950's and never redecorated (I will share other shots another time, but I digress again). We opened the linen closet to be greeted with this (above) masterful idea that apparently allowed the previous occupants to keep things straight. There's got to be a way to label a glass boat in a similar fashion.
Paddle safe...

Friday, January 05, 2007

PerhapsFirst, let me tell you that I do not feel like posting today. I am okay, just not inspired. At least, I am not inspired by my own thoughts. I do, however, have a recommendation for you.
Michael is doing a series on the modernization of the Inuits' life style. He has some interesting things to say and some wonderful black and white pictures to document the past. In a nut shell, he tells of the transition from huts to buildings and kayaks to more modern boats. In his series, he comments on how the life style of the People are changed. He presents facts, you can make your own judgments as to whether or not it is true progress.
Paddle safe...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New and Improved...
My assI am a child of the 40's and 50's, back when there was no plastic or Saran Wrap. Now I live in a world where I can buy a product called ClingWrap which has only two problems: it doesn't wrap well and it sure as hell doesn't cling.
Things that we used to be able to fix ourselves or with a minimum of expense have gone the way of the Dodo bird. Now, we just throw it all away and get a replacement, and it is actually cheaper than fixing. We live in a disposable world these days (that sometimes, sadly, includes people...but I digress). Interestingly, we have created an industry to take care of that, as well. There is big money in garbage. Besides, land fills make decent ski hills.
And so it is with the electron. Google has provided us with Blog Spot, a free blogging site, and I am grateful to them. Recently, they changed the dashboard for creating blogs to a new and improved Beta dashboard. Wonderful. It is designed to do all sorts of great things. It seems, however, that it fails to do some basic things. I can almost never upload a photo using it, but I can always upload one using the old format.
I am not new, and you can't improve me. Now go try and improve a sunset.
Paddle safe...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Sometimes I feel like...Face it, it's winter. It's that time of year of short light cycles, low vitamin D levels and increased depression and sadness. Even though it has been unseasonably warm (up to 50 F. today...but I digress), it is still dark when I arise, and the sun (when it shows up) is gone before dinner time.

If I get myself going, things go better. Even when I want to, but don't feel like, paddling I feel better once underway. It looks very much as if this will be such a day. It is 5:30 am. I will walk Ansel and drive my daughter to work before returning home. I like to wait until midday to paddle in order to enjoy the warmest part of the day. During that period between returning home and going paddling is when I will feel like a flat tire on a bicycle: repairable but needing some work before being useful.

So, it is time to put on the coffee and make a bite to eat. I am already wearing the warm base layer under my jeans and pull over. It is my way of committing to going out later in the day. In fact, I can't wait until then...when I will feel inflated again.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


It took me this long to figure out what the heck an i-pod really is and what the fuss is all about. For anyone around the age of 50, it is a compact, electronic, hi-fi Walkman. For us older guys, it is an amazingly compact, space-age tape recorder that can store a million songs (none of which are worth listening to...but I digress).

No, I am not down on the toy, just pointing out a generation gap and how fast it has developed. The incentive for these thoughts came about a few days ago while JB and I were enjoying a lazy morning over coffee at a place called Sven's. It is one of those coffee shops with a very nice menu, relaxed atmosphere, computers to use and good coffee. There is art on the walls, and one room that has comfy leather chairs and a leather sofa (which JB and I managed to claim...but I digress, again). There is, among other things, another item of note in that room, and it is pictured above. Recognize it?

Well, children, that is a 1940's i-pod, except they were called Victrolas back then. They played something called records which, back then, were heavy, brittle disks the size (relatively) of a flying saucer. They came in cardboard sleeves and had one song jammed onto each side. The table turned the disk at exactly (more or less) 78 rpm, after you wound up the spring. You then moved the end of the arm, which contained a needle, onto the disk and it would track along the grooves reproducing the recording on a speaker the size of Nevada with the fidelity of a man playing wax paper on a comb. No, it wasn't portable, but then there was no where to go back then. It did, on the other hand, bring families together since everyone had to put their ears within a few feet of the thing if they wanted a shot at hearing the words and music playing. Estimated weight...about 4.5 tons.

Young people, they don't know what they're missing.

Paddle safe...


Monday, January 01, 2007

This, then, is how the Year ends...The poet said the world would end "...not with a bang but with a whimper." My jazz friends would say, "...not with a bang but the blues," ...but I digress. Well the year ended with coffee with JB in the morning and a house party with relatives in the evening. We were home before the stroke of midnight.

This year, on the other hand, has begun not with a sunrise but with the same old crap. The Beta form of Dashboard (what is used to post these blogs) wouldn't upload photos (again), but the old version would. There was a note atop the form saying, "we're out of beta," with an x through the word beta. Milwaukee is also out of Schlitz.

So, I feel like a curmudgeon just now. It is 2007 and the simple things don't work (still). There are still 100 wars going on all over the world. I see lots of men who look pregnant while half a content is starving to death. I see people spending fortunes on lawyers to get out of a traffic ticket while tyrants continue to kill at will. I see cheaters and low-lifes, albiet among rightgeious dudes. At least Derrick is opining the state of civilization and the state of the planet. Me? I do what I can. Maybe I am keeping some of my powder dry for just the right shot. Meanwhile, I think I shall have some more coffee and go out and enjoy the global warming.

Paddle safe...